What Myanmar says about Iran *UPDATED*

There is a belief that the “mutually assured destruction” deterrence that worked during the Cold War will work in Iran. Hillary certainly believes it, which is why she promised that, if Iran hits Israel with a nuclear bomb during her presidency, she will hit Iran with a nuclear bomb. She believes that threat is sufficient to hold Iran back from acting. She thinks this because, if she were in Iran’s shoes, it would hold her back. The satisfaction of having destroyed Israel (if she were Iran), would be overwhelmingly offset by the death of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of her citizens, and the complete destruction of large swaths of her country.

In making this analysis, Hillary shows herself to be a rational actor under Western values. What she hasn’t figured out, though, is that Iran’s leaders don’t show those Western values. There are two reasons why the thought of having nuclear weapons rain down on the Iranian citizenry doesn’t phase faze these leaders. Indeed, the second reason for their insouciance actually has them wanting that nuclear rain.

Reason number one for the fact that Iranians are less impressed than we would be by the threat of a nuclear Holocaust is that they really don’t care about the well-being of their people. And this is where the example of Myanmar becomes interesting. In the aftermath of a devastating cyclone that may have caused the instant deaths of as many as 100,000 people, the military junta is resolute in rejecting aid. This is not because of some misguided sense of (metaphorically) standing on its own two feet. This is because it would rather see up to 500,000 of its citizens dead than risk any weakening of its power. Once you start letting aid workers in, exposing your beleaguered citizens to other ideas and free market products, you’re looking at the beginning of the end of your tyranny.

The bottom line, then, is that tyrants are completely comfortable with mass deaths within their own borders, provided that their political goals are untouched. Indeed, they’ll encourage those deaths if doing otherwise would affect the power structure.

There is no reason to think that the Iranian regime, which is an incredibly oppressive one, and one that managed to engage in a 9 year war with Iraq that saw almost a million die, will weep any tears if its citizens die in the hundreds of thousands or even the millions. In Iran, as in other dictatorships (Mao’s China, Myanmar, North Korea, etc.) the average “citizens” is not a human with rights as we understand it. Instead, he is an object the value of which is measured by whether his existence augments or damages the leadership’s power. If his non-existence does not affect that power or if his non-existence actually increases that power, his life isn’t worth a grain of sand on a big beach.

That is the first reason Iran doesn’t really care about Hillary’s threat to bomb it if it first bombs Israel. The benefits of bombing Israel (fulfilling Koranic requirements, gaining respect in the Muslim world, finding out of your bomb really works, showing the world that nothing will stop you) far outweigh the deaths of a few million of the pawns trapped within your own borders.

If that isn’t bad enough, we get to the second reason why Hillary’s threats are pointless and why (as Israel knows) only preemptive measures will stop Iran from dropping the bomb: The Shia version of Islam that Iran practices is an apocalyptic religion. Iran’s leaders believe that the End of Days will be triggered by the return of the 12 Imam, which will introduce an era of endless peace and harmony.

This apocalyptic vision isn’t actually such an unusual doctrine, and it appears in both Christianity and Judaism. What differs about the Iranian version is that Iran believes that its role is not simply to be a passive, albeit faithful, observer of the End of Days, which is how Christians and Jews approach the subject. Rather, as Ahmadinejad’s speeches and acts demonstrate, Iran believes it is its responsibility to bring about Armageddon — and what could be more Armageddon-like than the fact that Iran bravely destroys the Little Satan (that would be Israel), only to be destroyed in turn by the Great Satan (America). If that doesn’t bring about the return of the 12th Imam, nothing will.

In other words, the threat Hillary now makes as she works the campaign trail, a threat she believes is the type that will paralyze Iran and prevent action is, in fact, precisely the end Iran’s leaders are seeking. It’s not a threat at all. Instead, it’s the desired culmination of Allah’s plans.

Given the very un-Western thought process Iranian leaders go through when they contemplate the nuclear destruction of their country, McCain would definitely be the best candidate to deal with a pre-nuclear Iran. Regardless of his doctrinal strength regarding the finder points of Shia ideology, he understands the nature of dictators, having survived them for so many years in the Hanoi Hilton.

McCain (like Israel, which is staring down that nuclear muzzle) is not going to wait around until Iran has the upper hand and then try sweet words (Obama) or threats and even action (Hillary). I think that McCain would understand, as Israel does, that one needs to act before the crazy nation gets the power, not after.

And if you think I’m exaggerating about Iran’s response to a nuclear Holocaust simply so score points for McCain, just read today’s paper about Myanmar and think about a dictatorship that is not hampered by religious crazies will do to maintain power. You can extrapolate from there by imagining those same dictators working hard to pave the way for the coming Apocalypse.

UPDATE:  Speaking of Iran, this analysis about the situation Lebanon is very, very depressing.

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  • Ellie2

    Oops, stung by a homophone: “on the Iranian citizenry doesn’t *phase* these leaders. S/b “faze” I think 😉

  • Friend of USA


    I totally agree.

  • David Foster

    Good post. It is very, very dangerous to assume that because “MAD” worked against the Soviet Union (and it came near breaking down, more than once) it will also work against the Iranian leadership.

    Ralph Peters:

    “One of the most consistently disheartening experiences an adult can have today is to listen to the endless attempts by our intellectuals and intelligence professionals to explain religious terrorism in clinical terms, assigning rational motives to men who have moved irrevocably beyond reason. We suffer under layers of intellectual asymmetries that hinder us from an intuititive recognition of our enemies.”

    Paul Reynaud (who became prime minister of France just before the German attack of 1940):

    “People think Hitler is like Kaiser Wilhelm. The old gentleman only wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine from us. But Hitler is Genghis Khan.” (approximate quote)

  • http://galactic-patrol.spaces.live.com domanite

    I’m a little skeptical that the leadership of Iran would accept the loss of life that a nuclear exchange would entail – but its true that different cultures see things differently. I’m much more skeptical that their leadership would accept the loss of power, position, and probably their own life that would also ensue. Those who rule with an iron fist like to keep it that way.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    There is that, domanite, but since they so fervently embrace their vision of the afterlife, I suspect they see themselves in a power role there too — not to mention the fact that they might have good shelters in place to get them through the first devastation.

  • http://expreacherman.wordpress.com ExPreacherMan


    Brilliant parallel thinking!!

    I never would have thought to draw a parallel between Myanmar and the Iran/Israel/USA conflict… but you are right. Ahmadinijad has no concern for life — as he will be the hero of all Islam if he decimates Israel.

    You really have come a long way since our Liberal vs Conservative duel in the 60s.

    Thanks for exercising my brain…

    In Christ,


  • Ymarsakar

    Mutually assured destruction is kind of like you holding up a knife to a murderer and telling the murderer that if he doesn’t leave you alone, you’re going to kill him and force him to kill you.

    Most socialized and sane people, on either side, when they see a knife or gun is to hold up their hands and say “calm down, nobody needs to be hurt here”. Terrorists act like the murderer and serial killer. You show them your knife and they’ll shoot you with their gun or they’ll pretend to a cease fire in order to get close and get your knife to stab you with.

    The basic difference is very simple. If you are facing up to a murderer and a sadistic serial killer, which is what terrorists mostly are, you are going to want to “deter” them with words or threats or demonstrations of your weapon.

    In reality, though, if you tried those things, you would die cause the murderer wastes no time talking and is already well on his way to killing you by the time you finished talking.

    That’s why in reality, when you encounter some person in an alleyway trying to kill or hurt you, you don’t ask him “back off”, you just take out your gun and shoot them or you put elbow in their throat and asphyxiate them or you claw out their corneas with their sideways swipe of your fingertips.

    So why do diplomats in the US want to hold talks and ceasefire agreements and give our enemies in Iran time to cook stuff up? Cause diplomats in the US aren’t the ones that’s going to die if Iran gets some time to figure new stuff out. Well, not the first ones anyway.

  • Ymarsakar

    Mutually assured destruction only works if both parties are civilized or at least socialized and sane. “Socialized” meaning that their society abhors killing themselves and everybody around, at least on principle.

  • Ymarsakar

    A murderer or a serial killer does not “abhor” killing. He has no need for “cease fires” unless it’s just to get himself closer to you.

    In other words, the threat Hillary now makes as she works the campaign trail, a threat she believes is the type that will paralyze Iran and prevent action is, in fact, precisely the end Iran’s leaders are seeking. It’s not a threat at all. Instead, it’s the desired culmination of Allah’s plans.

    Human beings are the ones that decide to push the button. In terms of American nukes, those human beings are Americans. Iran has demonstrated that they can twist Americans around their little pinkie any day of the 365+ days of the year. As demonstrated before, in fact.

  • http://upnorthmommy.com kimpriestap

    Nice post, Bookworm. Your point about Ahmadinejad and the 12th Imam is spot on. He’s been rattling his Armageddon saber for a long time now, but very few people seem to take him at his word.

  • Ymarsakar

    Soldiers have largely refrained from confronting the gangs of militiamen roving the city

    That’s what tends to happen when you aren’t occupied by American soldiers motivating folks to get up off their arse and do their jobs, Book.

    Iraq, whether they know it or not, have a much higher chance of tranquility than their neighbors.

  • Ymarsakar

    Btw, if you had half way competent diplomats in the State Dep, which we obviously don’t have, they would already have extended contacts with lebanon’s government to see what they need or are willing to accept. In the most extreme of conditions, an offer can be made to treat Lebanon as an extension of the forces currently in Iraq.

    The Lebanese might not accept it, but they would at least have a choice of which poison they will take in the end.

    Such choices and free will are never given to nations by the US State Department because the US diplomats aren’t out to solve misunderstandings.

  • Al

    There is no question that Clinton is clueless when it comes to the Iranian threat. My problem with her statement is that it’s purely political. And as ill informed as Obama’s statement early in the campaign about attacking Pakistan if they didn’t do more to quell the Taliban. I really do not think Clinton would blow Iran away if Iran did nuke Israel. “Two wrongs don’t make a right. We have to be reasonable about this.”
    I do wish the space program was further along. Like having a permanent, self sustaining base on Mars.

  • Mike Devx

    I’m in a pessimistic mood this morning…

    Yes, a self-sustaining base on Mars would at least ensure that human life survives total catastrophe here on Earth. But war with Iran, even nuclear, won’t end life on Earth…

    A permanent base on Mars… run by politicians? Next thing you know, quotas mandating ‘Earth-based diversity’ would give you UN-style chaos, and hatred of America and Israel. All it takes is the right voting bloc to create misery around you.

    Or else the military would be in charge. Since I’m pessimistic, remember some militaries are like the Myanmar leaders. That would not exactly mean, for civilians, a wallk in the park. You would be totally expendable to them, as the only important people are the soldiers running the junta.

    Life itself on a hostile planet would be difficult enough. With the wrong political leadership at the top, living might be an unmitigated misery.

    End of my pessimism. 😉 Under other political conditions, living a life on hostile Mars might be an extraordinary challenge and for the right kind of person might be totally life-affirming. Let’s just say that Britney Spears and Ryan Seacrest do not represent such a person.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Shoot, Mike Devx…here I thought that you were going to suggest that Britney Spears and Ryan Seacrest could be banished to Mars. The rest of us could stay here.

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