Who’s Next?


So Little Rocket Man may be giving up his nukes. We’ll see how that works out.

If it does, it will be an interesting precedent for other countries with weak economies that can’t carry the load of paying simultaneously for weapons development and economic development. Iran has a bigger economy than North Korea, but the mullahs have stunted their civil economies growth. Pakistan has lots of nukes and rampant poverty. The collapse of the Soviet Union was driven in large part by that country’s inability to pay for guns and butter. The Russians changed leaders, got a modestly improved economy, and kept their nukes. Will Kim preserve his hold on power by giving up his nukes for economic development? Will anyone else?

Stay tuned.

Looking at Iran


McClean’s has a post up that looks at the current uprisings in Iran through the eyes of Iranian immigrants in Canada.

As for what the future holds, this is where Sharooz and Mohyeddin part ways.

Mohyeddin is filled with optimism, convinced that the darkness that descended upon Iran in 1979 will soon be lifted, and that the Iranian people will not allow the regime to resort to the barbarism and genocide Bashar Assad has unleashed upon the Syrian people for their impudence in demanding democracy. “The regime would never dare do what Assad did,” she said. “They just wouldn’t dare.”

Sharooz said he wants to believe that, but he just can’t.

“This is not going to have a happy ending. I can’t imagine that. This is a regime that is not going to give up power without a fight. The moment that they feel their power is threatened they will unleash any violence that they can to maintain that hold on power. The ending to this story, whether it’s two years from now or five years from now, it’s going to be bloody.”

Read the whole thing.

For now, I don’t see any reason to doubt Sharooz’s view. Unless the uprisings fizzle soon, I believe it is likely that the mullahs will inflict on their people what they have done in Syria. I hope things do not proceed as I foresee.

I’m So Old …


… I remember SAVAK. While the Shah’s regime was in many respects more open that the Islamic Republic, his secret police forces was among the most effective in the world and greatly hated by the Iranian people. If what is going on in Iran now becomes a successful revolution, I hope the new regime will not see the need for yet another secret police organization to maintain control.

Two Views of Jerusalem


One point of view concerning President Trumps decision to obey the law and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (Congress mandated the move before the turn of the century) is summed up by the headline on a post at Breitbart Unmasked Bunny Billy Boy Brett Unread: Trump Throws Gasoline on Middle East Fire by Recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli Capital. There’s not much original thought in the BU piece by “Staff Writer”—just a bunch of cut-and-paste from the usual suspects such as CNN and the NYT.

A more insightful view is outlined in a piece over at Bloomberg: Trump Teaches Palestinians About the New Middle East. The article begins by noting that the Sunni Arabs are more concerned about Iran than the West Bank. Indeed, there are signs that the Sunnis are ready to consider a three-way alliance with Israel and the U.S. to roll back Iranian expansion.

And so, Israel’s full participation in the Trump-Sunni project comes at a price. Netanyahu has a vision of how to solve the Palestinian issue. It includes a unified Jerusalem legally belonging to Israel, as well as continued West Bank settlement and, if there ever is a deal, a demilitarized Palestinian entity. The alternative — no deal — is okay with him, too.

Seen this way, Trump’s move today is not a Hanukkah present at all.  It is a down payment. How long will it take to build that embassy? Three years? Four? No rush. Time is on Israel’s side.

Read the whole thing.

When Did America Forget That It’s America?


That’s the title of an op-ed over at WaPo by Natan Sharansky. He compares how America stood up to the Soviet Union with its failing to do so with Iran.

But in today’s postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.

I’m not sure exactly when America forgot who we are, but I know who did the forgetting. It was my generation. Our parents had grown up during the depression and been on the front lines of World War II. As President Kennedy noted in his inaugural address, they were

tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

When it was their turn to lead, our parents carried on with the struggle against tyranny, and faced down the Evil Empire.

Their children—my generation—were raised in the relative prosperity of the ’50s and ’60s and many of us avoided service in war when it was our turn. To paraphrase JFK, we have been relatively untouched by war, undisciplined through years of apparent peace, unsure of our heritage—and quite willing to permit the undoing of human rights in far-off lands so long as we aren’t discomforted.

We’re leaving one helluva mess for our children and grandchildren, and I suspect that it is our grandchildren who will face a world not unlike the one faced by our parents.