What Does The Future Hold?

Charles Krauthammer has written an important editorial entitled Today Tehran, Tomorrow the World: What’s at stake in the dispute over Iranian nukes? Ultimately, human survival in which he says:

Like many physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project, Richard Feynman could not get the Bomb out of his mind after the war. “I would see people building a bridge,” he wrote. “And I thought, they’re crazy, they just don’t understand, they don’t understand. Why are they making new things? It’s so useless.”
Feynman was convinced man had finally invented something that he could not control and that would ultimately destroy him. For six decades we have suppressed that thought and built enough history to believe Feynman’s pessimism was unwarranted. After all, soon afterward, the most aggressive world power, Stalin’s Soviet Union, acquired the Bomb, yet never used it. Seven more countries have acquired it since and never used it either…
But that’s the point. We’re now at the dawn of an era in which an extreme and fanatical religious ideology, undeterred by the usual calculations of prudence and self-preservation, is wielding state power and will soon be wielding nuclear power.
We have difficulty understanding the mentality of Iran’s newest rulers. Then again, we don’t understand the mentality of the men who flew into the World Trade Center or the mobs…who…embrace the glory and romance of martyrdom.
This atavistic love of blood and death and, indeed, self-immolation in the name of God may not be new–medieval Europe had an abundance of millennial Christian sects–but until now it has never had the means to carry out its apocalyptic ends.
That is why Iran’s arriving at the threshold of nuclear weaponry is such a signal historical moment. It is not just that its President says crazy things about the Holocaust. It is that he is a fervent believer in the imminent reappearance of the 12th Imam, Shi’ism’s version of the Messiah. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been reported as saying in official meetings that the end of history is only two or three years away…He believes that the Islamic revolution’s raison d’etre is to prepare the way for the messianic redemption, which in his eschatology is preceded by worldwide upheaval and chaos. How better to light the fuse for eternal bliss than with a nuclear flame?
Depending on your own beliefs, Ahmadinejad is either mystical or deranged. In either case, he is exceedingly dangerous. And Iran is just the first. With infinitely accelerated exchanges of information helping develop whole new generations of scientists, extremist countries led by similarly extreme men will be in a position to acquire nuclear weaponry. If nothing is done, we face not proliferation but hyperproliferation. Not just one but many radical states will get weapons of mass extinction, and then so will the fanatical and suicidal terrorists who are their brothers and clients.
That will present the world with two futures. The first is Feynman’s vision of human destruction on a scale never seen. The second, perhaps after one or two cities are lost with millions killed in a single day, is a radical abolition of liberal democracy as the species tries to maintain itself by reverting to strict authoritarianism…
Can there be a third future? That will depend on whether we succeed in holding proliferation at bay. Iran is the test case. It is the most dangerous political entity on the planet, and yet the world response has been catastrophically slow and reluctant. Years of knowingly useless negotiations, followed by hesitant international resolutions, have brought us to only the most tentative of steps–referral to a Security Council that lacks unity and resolve. Iran knows this and therefore defiantly and openly resumes its headlong march to nuclear status. If we fail to prevent an Iranian regime run by apocalyptic fanatics from going nuclear, we will have reached a point of no return. It is not just that Iran might be the source of a great conflagration but that we will have demonstrated to the world that for those similarly inclined there is no serious impediment.
Our planet is 4,500,000,000 years old, and we’ve had nukes for exactly 61. No one knows the precise prospects for human extinction, but Feynman was a mathematical genius who knew how to calculate odds…

Michael Leeden has more, with even more editorials on Iran spread throughout his archive.
These are not nice people.

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17 years ago

Disclaimer: I am horribly and forever compromised in my viewpoints on Iran as I am happily devoted to a beautiful Persian-American woman. However let me add this to the discussion: The showdown with Iran has another side to it. Let’s not forget that in addition to the religious zealots who came to power during the revolution, there is another demographic in Iran that has remained constant in their rejection of radical Islam and who have a proud tradition of scholarship, empire, and art. For years, the US and other Western countries have attempted to nuture and promote the resurgence of the Iran that once was. The recent statements by the current president of Iran are to say the least disturbing. However his rise to power can in part be traced to the US and other Western governments belittling the Iranian election process and demoralizing the moderate Persian street. Regardless of the reasons for his election, his tenure has angered and disturbed a sizeable portion of the population including the same demographic that sparked the revolution — the educated middle class. Many accounts even have the clerical establishment being alienated by President Ahmadinejad’s hard-line stance as well. For while the religious order is interested spreading radical Islam, they are also extremely invested in maintaining order. Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric threatens both his party and his religious superiors. To understand this viewpoint, one must first recognize that like other Middle Eastern countries, Iran is defined by ethnicity – specifically between Persians (who trace their origins orginally from the Farsi tribal region of Iran and Greece courtesy of Alexander), and Arabs (who invaded the country and established Islam) The Persian spirit is still alive and well in Iran. Not two weeks ago, the Persian New Year was celebrated across the globe and Iranian exiles mourned… Read more »

Stretch Cunningham
Stretch Cunningham
17 years ago

In the 1980’s I had many Persian friends that I met and socialized with while I was stationed, as a U.S. Sailor, in Greece. Some were refugees of the Iran-Iraq war, others were supporters of the former Shah who fled Iran in the late 70’s. Still others were ethnic Greeks, Armenians and Russians whose families had lived in Iran for generations and who considered themselves “Persian”.
I have no doubt, from my own experience, that there are many wonderful people in Iran today.
But the threat of this rogue regime cannot remain unchecked and I believe the U.S. or Israel needs to remove the threat by any means necessary to ensure the preservation of their peoples and the security of the free world.

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