Never underestimate the power of nostalgia. With a Muslim father and
stepfather, and an anthropologist mother whose life’s work defended Muslim
traditional society against globalization, Obama harbors an overpowering
sympathy for the Muslim world. He is not a Muslim, although as a young child he
was educated as a Muslim in Indonesian schools. His vision of outreach to the
Muslim world, the most visible and impassioned feature of his foreign policy,
draws on deep wells of emotion. I first made this argument in this space on
February 26, 2008 (Obama’s women reveal his secret, Asia Times Online), seven months before he was elected president.
Think of Obama as the anti-Truman. As David Brog recounts in his 2006 book Standing
with Israel (which I reviewed on this site on June 20, 2006 (You don’t need to be apocalyptic, but it helps ), president Harry S Truman overruled the unanimous opposition of his cabinet and made America the first country to recognize the new state of Israel in 1948.
His secretary of state, war-time chief of staff George Marshall, had threatened
in vain to resign and campaign against Truman in the next presidential election
over the issue. Personal religious motivations, not strategy, guided Truman’s
decision. He was a Bible-reading Christian Zionist who supported Israel as a
matter of principle. Obama has the same sort of loyalty to the Muslim world
that Truman had toward the Jewish people. He cannot bring himself to be the
American president who ruins a Muslim land.
It is wishful thinking that the Iranian problem can be managed without bringing
ruin to the Persian pocket empire. In many respects, Iran resembles the Soviet
Union just before the collapse of communism. It turned out that there were no
communists in Russia outside the upper echelons of the party. There are very
few Muslims in Iran outside of the predatory mullahcracy. According to Zohreh
Soleimani of the BBC, Iran has the lowest mosque attendance of any Muslim
country; only 2% of adults attend Friday services, a gauge of disaffection
comparable to church attendance in Western Europe. Iran’s fertility rate of
about 1.6 children per women, coincidentally, is about the same as Western
Europe’s. Iran has a huge contingent of young people, but they have ceased to
have children. They have faith neither in the national religion nor in the
future of their nation.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, meanwhile, reports that fully 5%
of Iran’s adult non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opium.
Alcoholism also is epidemic, despite the Islamic prohibition on alcoholic
beverage, which must be smuggled into the country.
The US won the Cold War by ruining Russia. Russia may never recover. In 1992,
three years after the Berlin Wall came down, thousands of pensioners gathered
daily near Red Square in the winter cold to barter old clothing or trinkets for
food, and the tourist hotels swarmed with prostitutes. The collapse of
communism did not usher in a golden age of Russian democracy, and the new
government into the most rapacious plague of locusts ever to descend upon a
Spengler’s article is important for the perspective it gives on Iran that goes beyond the shallow picture of Iran we tend to get from the mainstream media. In particular, Iran’s opium addiction is interesting, considering that one of the revelations from Wikileaks is the belief that Iran is trafficking in heroin:
What Mexico is to the United States’ narcotic black market, Iran is quickly becoming to its neighbors, suggest State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks. American diplomats in both Kuwait and Azerbaijan are looking at Iran as the next large exporter of narcotics to Saudi Arabia, Russia, and other counties in the region.
“According to widespread rumor, many Iranians in Baku are involved full- or part-time in Iranian regime-related profit making, sanctions-busting, money laundering, and similar activities,” reads a March 2009 cable from the American embassy in Azerbaijan, the country on Iran’s northern border. “Some are also said to be significant actors in obtaining spare parts and equipment for the Revolutionary Guard, raising revenues and managing money for it and/or regime figures, or managing Iran-origin narcotics trafficking.”
…Another cable from Baku, dated June 2009, claims that “Iran-origin heroin seizures (i.e., heroin derived from Afghani and Pakistani opium that entered Azerbaijan from Iran) in Azerbaijan nearly quadrupled during the first quarter of 2009, as compared to the first quarter of 2008.”Further perspective is provided from among some of the questions that Karim Sadjadpour has for Ahmadindejad, as he relates in an article in The Wall Street Journal. Iran has clearly not prospered under the Ahamdinejad:• According to human-rights organizations including Amnesty International, executions have increased four-fold since you became president in 2005, and Iran now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. Iran also lifted its moratorium on stoning since you became president. And according to Reporters Without Borders, Iran is now the world’s “biggest prison for journalists.” Do you take pride in your record?• The prominent human-rights activist Mehrangiz Kar has reported that last August five young men in the city of Hamadan had their hands chopped off as a punishment for theft. Do you agree with such a draconian punishment?• Two days after the June 12, 2009, presidential election, you declared that Iran is “the most stable country in the world.” But the next day nearly three million people, according to the mayor of Tehran, took to the streets to protest the election results. Given your confidence in your popular support, would you grant the opposition a permit to protest, and would you guarantee their safety?• According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran has one of the highest rates of brain drain in the world, with as many as 100,000 people leaving annually in search of greater economic dignity and political freedom. Economists estimate that the brain drain has accelerated during your presidency. How much does it bother you that many of Iran’s top minds are forced to reside abroad?