Thursday, February 02, 2006

The dread factor

It was hard getting a wink of sleep last night awaiting some news from my sister who’s due to give birth soon. So my mind kept on wandering, of all things, between the likely fate of a little girl and that murderous Usama and his future.

What should Usama do? What would I do if I were Usama?

It appears as if everyone is in some form of a nasty conflict with everyone else. There are multiple aggrieved parties either fighting directly or through proxies. On some fronts everything is out on the open. On others, things continue to simmer under with some bubbles occasionally surfacing for all to see.

And “preemption” has become a crucial factor in this seemingly endless bloody game.

Mr. Bush asserts that "the Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons.” To that end, he has succeeded in pulling off some form of a messy compromise the outcome of which remains dubious at best.

The Iranians’ very own fool, Mr. Ahmadi Nejad, accuses his counterpart of having his arms “smeared up to the elbow in the blood of other nations.” He vows to resist the ‘bully’ nation. And the Defense Minister promises “immediate and crushing response” to any “aggression against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

It remains to be seen whether any of the actors would follow through on what they promise. All the parties, though, have also proven adept at prevarications, posturing and hot air. Will there be some form of a negotiated settlement or that “grand bargain?” Who can know for sure?

The one area, though, that the Iranian government is any good at historically is tormenting Iranian citizens.

So as they anxiously await the opportunity either to save their own skins by reaching some bargain that would naturally involve Iraq and Afghanistan or to deliver the promised crushing blow to all “fake superpowers,” they sharpened up their skills recently by practicing preemption on some defenseless bus workers and their families who were planning to participate in a strike:

On the day of the planned strike, security and intelligence agents identified and detained hundreds of union sympathizers when they showed up for work in the morning. According to Mirzaii, the security and intelligence forces beat and physically intimidated the workers in connection with the arrests.

So much for defending citizens against aggression, no? And my vexing questions again: what should Usama do? What would I do if I were Usama?

A few hundred more charred bodies or bloodied men, women and children in Iraq might serve some purpose as the Salafists continue to target foreign forces and their native allies, the Iraqi shi’as or some contractors; but then what? If the reconstruction is going nowhere and if everyday there continues to be a measure of mayhem, what would inflicting a few more casualties accomplish in the long run? A mere routine by now, don’t you think?

Some bombing campaign somewhere in Europe, perhaps?

A few hapless youngsters might end up getting beaten up in isolation late at night in its aftermath. Another Brazilian or some Mexican might bet shot in the subway. A few more firebombed mosques perhaps in the Netherlands! And more trash talk from our thuggish BozoPundit and the usual predictable prattle from the fisking giants on the net. But so what?

Another bomb taking a toll on Australians, on the other hand, would get some angry Aussies riled up just long enough to take a break from their beer mugs to beat up on some Arabs again. But life would return to “normal” shortly thereafter.

What would I do if I were Usama?

Given how things stand, I know where I would want to hit and when. One lucky shot at the champs would give me an entirely new ball game. And with all the recent developments, that would certainly qualify as the sort of preemption I would have in mind for sure.

Although, what I still can’t settle on is the not-so-simple matter of a desired magnitude. It would depend a lot on the sort of “preemption” I would have in mind, I suppose.

But I am not Usama. I remain another passionate native Iranian striving to look at the world with the dispassionate eye of a mercenary trying to avoid surprises.

Consequently, I worry a lot about what this particular cultural conservative has to say:

Wars, most wars at least, run not evenly but in fits and starts, settling down into sputtering Sitzkrieg for long intervals, then suddenly shooting out wildly in wholly unpredicted directions.

We may all choose to overlook Mr. William S Lind’s forebodings about The Next Act at our own peril.

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