Monthly Archives: January 2007

Ahmadinejad: US Incapable of Inflicting Serious Damage on Iran

The Iranian President isn’t worried:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Tuesday that the United States was “absolutely incapable of inflicting serious damage on the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

His confidence has obviously been bolstered by Democrats and a handful of spineless Republicans:

Asked if a military strike by the US against Iran could be one such mistake, the chief executive replied: No. They are not in a position to make such a decision. I think, there are wise people in America who would not let this happen. They are incapable. The pressure is more psychological.”

One interesting theory, floated by Dariush Zahedi and Omid Memarian, is that Ahmadinejad views a U.S. attack (almost certainly limited to airstrikes) as a viable way to counter increasing internal dis-ease:

Viewing himself as a man of God, Ahmadinejad is no doubt praying that the US will not be satisfied with Iran’s diplomatic and economic isolation and will launch military strikes against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear installations.

Such action may or may not set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But it would surely give new life to Ahmadinejad’s militant faction, enabling him to rally the masses behind the flag, compel his conservative critics to close ranks behind him and crush the remnants of Iran’s liberal civil society and democratic movement.

Iranians, even some of those opposing the current regime, are almost certain to rally ’round the flag if we strike. If the stikes are limited Ahmadinejad probably does benefit in the long run. However, a comprehensive and intentionally destabilizing array of strikes, a full scale air war, could leave the regime without the infrastructure and assets needed to maintain control. Recent reports seem to indicate that this plan could be on the table:

Talking to the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington-based think tank, Wayne White, a top Middle East analyst for the State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005, said: “I have seen some of the planning . . . You’re not talking about a surgical strike . . . You’re talking about a war against Iran.”

He went on to say that “(w)e’re not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We’re talking about clearing a path to the targets” by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or US warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran’s ballistic missile capability.

Though not mentioned I’d like to think that those war plans include the facilities of organizations used by the regime to enforce internal security. With careful planning we might be able to clear the way for an emerging opposition and allow Iranians to free themselves.

Background: President Bush’s State of the Union Address

I’m finding it difficult to get too excited about tonight’s State of the Union address. I know I’m not alone. But I thought I’d share this email from the White House communications folks for those of you eager to dig into the President’s proposals:

The 2007 State of the Union Policy Initiatives book including all of the State of the Union fact sheets is now available on the White House website in PDF format at: link

The 2007 State of the Union Policy Initiatives book including all of the State of the Union fact sheets is now available on the White House website in PDF format at: link

The State of the Union fact sheets are also available individually by topic in HTML format:

OVERVIEW FACT SHEET:
The 2007 State Of The Union Address

ENERGY:
Twenty In Ten: Strengthening America’s Energy Security

HEALTH CARE:
Affordable, Accessible, And Flexible Health Coverage

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND:
Building On Results: A Blueprint For Strengthening NCLB

IMMIGRATION:
President Bush’s Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

HIV/AIDS:
Leading The Worldwide Fight Against HIV/AIDS

MALARIA:
The President’s Malaria Initiative Is Saving Lives

STRENGTHENING OUR MILITARY:
Strengthening Our Military

SPENDING REFORMS:
Reforms To Spend Tax Dollars Wisely

Don’t miss Jules Crittenden’s version of the SoTU speech we’d like to see the President give.

Hezbollah Rioting in Lebanon

Lebanon is a mess:

Much of Lebanon remains paralyzed, Tuesday, as supporters of the pro-Syrian Hezbollah group block Lebanon’s coastal highway and main thoroughfares in Beirut and other cities. From Beirut, Edward Yeranian reports this is all a bid to impose a general strike on the rest of the population.

A column of tanks rolls down Hamra Street – one of Beirut’s main commercial thoroughfares – as Lebanese Army troops attempt to reopen avenues blocked by supporters and allies of the Hezbollah guerilla group.

A crowd of mostly young men scuffles with police, further down the road, burning tires and attempting to block traffic, as thick clouds of black smoke pour into the air.

On the road to Beirut Airport, young men have erected a barrier of burning tires and play soccer on the highway, as army troops and police stand by and watch.

It could get worse:

The opposition has successfully paralyzed the country. It’s time for a suitable response. Tensions are rising with young Lebanese emailing me saying “since they are keeping “us” out, perhaps we should keep “them” in – burning tires around the downtown camps and Dahieh for a week.”

Of course there are voices in the blogosphere supporting the thugs behind today’s riots:

Yesterday I was telling a few people how the opposition will never succeed with its pacifist attitudes and behaviour in toppling the government, and that if they want to achieve anything, they will have to shift onto a militant stance.

Well, it seems they finally heard me. And about time that they did something like this.

Michael J. Totten visits Lebanon regularly and should be one of your regular stops:

While I was in Lebanon gathering the material I’ve been publishing, Hezbollah kept threatening to strangle the country by seizing major roads, including the one that leads to the airport. I was worried I might get stuck there, but I didn’t. Today, though, they finally make good on their threat. Palestinian guerillas are reportedly helping.

I’m sure that they are.

The BBC, Manamania, and Blacksmiths of Lebanon have photo galleries. Blacksmiths also points to a website (down at the time of writing) that is being used to coordinate protests:

The Free Patriot Movement (FPM) opposition website has disclosed a list of the roads, across the country, to be blocked by its supporters and their allies within the pro-Syrian opposition forces.

Blue Crab Boulevard call the whole things a coup attempt:

Hezbollah has stepped up its campaign against the Lebanese government and has shut down Beirut and surrounding areas using barricades and armed men. They are calling it a general strike. It is more than that. It is a coup attempt by any rational standard.

Hugh Hewitt appears to agree and adds:

Where’s the Iraq Study Group when you need them

The Elephant Bar points to the Shiites:

The Shiites are the predominate tribe in Iraq. We are there to ensure the spread of democracy both in Iraq and beyond their borders. It just gets confusing beyond their borders. Actually it is confusing within their borders as well, but we are focusing on Lebanon. So is Syria and Iran. Lebanon has democracy. The Shiites do not like the results and want to end that. Democracy does not burn as brightly in the Lebanese Shiite breast as say it does in the Iraqi Shiite breast. Democracy does not seem to be smoldering in the Syrian and Iranian Shiite soul either. Too bad some of our soul-gazers in DC did not notice that earlier.

My morning commute doesn’t seem quite so bad after reading Annie’s blog:

This morning when I left my house to go to work, I had to pass through burning tires and people obviously agitated throwing stones to passing cars. I had to walk because there was no public transportation. Since I work in a NGO, we can not have the senior citizens and children waiting without being welcomed and served.

Finally I arrived at work, where I still am.

I don’t think many companies are functioning, neither schools or shops opened. This is a day of demonstrations. So some parties called their people to stay home, others encouraged them to continue their daily lives. But apparently, this demonstration is not so peaceful as the national TV: LBC points out. There is violence from both sides, injuries and of course “loads” of pollution from the burning fuel and tires.

Lebanese Media:
The Daily Star
Naharnet
Ya Libnan

Related:
Reuters: Lebanon Facts