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What They Are Saying, Nov. 6, 2008
Lots of Glee Expressed in Tehran Over America's Economic Woes
Analyst Jonathan Schanzer writes in the Washington Times (www.washingtontimes.com) on Oct. 22 about high spirits in Tehran:
"As Americans struggle with the loss of wealth resulting from the ongoing credit crunch, subprime mortgage meltdown, and subsequent stock drops, the leading figures of the Islamic Republic of Iran are cheering unabashedly.
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gloated recently that the United States is paying the price for exporting inflation and deficits to the rest of the world. 'Now the world capacity is full, and these problems have returned ... And finally they are oppressors, and systems based on oppression and unrighteous positions will not endure,' he said.
"Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also reveled in the financial crisis, expressing his hope that it marked the end of U.S. domination over the world economy. 'The false bubble of money in the West has broken,' he said on state television, adding that the recent mortgage meltdown was the beginning of the end for free-market capitalism.
"Similarly, Iranian Guardian Council secretary and interim Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati professed that the U.S.'s economic crisis was 'divine punishment.' He stated, 'We are happy that the United States economy has come across difficulty. They are attesting unfavorable consequences of their conduct.They are experiencing divine punishment. We are happy over that. The unhappier they become, the happier we get, as they become happy we get unhappy.' He said that Americans could expect to be 'slapped in the face by Islam, Muslims and the Islamic Revolution.'
"That slap in the face may come in the form of Iran-induced higher oil prices. Indeed, Iran's Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari recently told reporters at an energy conference, 'One-hundred dollars and below is not suitable for oil producers or oil consumers.' Iran, of course, is the world's fourth-largest exporter, and ranks among the more powerful members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a corrupt cartel that determines the level of oil production, which directly affects the cost of oil.
"Surging fuel prices have crippled U.S. consumers in recent years, adding to mounting concerns over whether America is about to enter or has already entered an economic recession.
"Higher oil prices are not the only arrow in the Iranian quiver. Former Iranian president (and now powerful cleric) Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gloated in a recent radio broadcast, 'If the economic crisis in America is becoming a serious threat for the West and the industrial world, one of the underlying reasons is the high costs which the Americans have been forced to spend in the region in the past seven or eight years.'
"Indeed, Iran is one of the primary reasons the United States has been bogged down in Iraq since 2003. The Iranians have sponsored radical militias, planned and executed terrorist attacks, and fomented internecine violence between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Continuing this activity will only ensure that America expends both blood and treasure.
"Several important observations can be gleaned from these unabashed celebrations in Tehran over recent American economic woes: First, there can be no doubt that, across the board, from clerics to elected leaders, the Iranian leadership is a zealous and avowed enemy of the United States.
"Their uninhibited glee stemming from international financial panic appears to mirror the eagerness, expressed by Ahmadinejad and other radical leaders, to embrace the collapse of the current world order -- through war or other means. In their minds, this would herald the arrival of the Twelfth Imam, or 'Mahdi' (a messianic figure from the ninth century), who would reappear to signal the end of the modern world and the onset of global Islamic justice.
"Moreover, while it does not state so explicitly, the Iranian leadership knows that the longer America's economic struggles continue, the harder it will be to stop their long march toward nuclear weaponization."
No Matter Which Candidate Wins, Iran Must Inevitably Be Dealt With
Journalist Con Coughlin writes in London's Daily Telegraph (www.dailytelegraph.co.uk) on Oct. 24 that Iran will be tops on the next president's to-do list:
"It is now more than five years since Iran first came under international pressure to halt the development of its nuclear program, but despite threats, Iran has made no meaningful concessions to the West, while continuing with its drive to be self-sufficient in the production of fissile material that could ultimately be used to make atom bombs.
"Iran has been enriching uranium at its facility at Natanz for 18 months, and even the most dovish observers concede that, at the present rate of progress, Iran should be able to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead by next year.
"Whether Iran is still pursuing its attempts to develop nuclear weapons is debated among the West's intelligence agencies, with the body of available intelligence now contradicting last year's CIA National Intelligence Estimate, suggesting Iran had halted its military program in 2003.
"In short, the West is reaching the moment when it has to decide whether Iran should be left to get on with acquiring the technical know-how to build nuclear weapons, or take effective action to stop it -- such as bombing its key installations.
"Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, provided insight into how Tehran assesses the threat posed by Washington when he said America was now far too preoccupied with the global financial crisis to bother with Iran. 'The risk was low before, but now I am 100 percent certain that the United States will not unleash a war against Iran.' That is, if Barack Obama becomes president, he might have added.
"Sen. Obama may have made some rousing comments when he addressed a pro-Israel lobby in Washington in June, telling his audience that he would do 'everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,' but he has also made it clear that he wants to negotiate with the Iranians rather than confront them. Sen. John McCain, on the other hand, favors robust action, starting with a tough sanctions regime and, if that fails, military action.
"To paraphrase Michael Howard, the former British Conservative Party leader: If the Bush Administration had known in 2003 what it knows now, both about Iran's involvement with nuclear proliferation and its support for Islamist terrorism, it might have preferred to make Iran its principal target in the war on terror, rather than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"Iran now poses a far greater threat than it did in 2003, when its nuclear program was nowhere near as advanced.
"Which is why, irrespective of who wins next month's presidential contest, the Iran file will be at the top of the list of national security issues facing the new president.
"Obama's preference might be for more talking. But he won't have that luxury. So far as Iran is concerned, the time for talking has passed. It's time now for some action."