Monday, February 05, 2007

Thinking the unthinkable

'In the report, Time to Talk: The Case for Diplomatic Solutions on Iran, the coalition accuses Mr Blair of using the prospect of military action as a negotiating tool.
Launching the report, former Labour minister Stephen Twigg, director of the Foreign Policy Centre, said: "The consequences of military action against Iran are not only unpalatable; they are unthinkable.'

One of my favourite movies is 'The Princes Bride'. There is a superb exchange between Inigo Montoya, the great swordsman intent on vengeance, and Vizzini the slimy plotter.

Inigo Montoya: You are sure nobody's follow' us?
Vizzini: As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable. No one in Guilder knows what we've done, and no one in Florin could have gotten here so fast. - Out of curiosity, why do you ask?
Inigo Montoya: No reason. It's only... I just happened to look behind us and something is there.
Vizzini: What? Probably some local fisherman, out for a pleasure cruise, at night... in... eel-infested waters...
[In the boat in the morning]
Inigo Montoya: He's right on top of us. I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using.
[Vizzini has just cut the rope The Dread Pirate Roberts is climbing up]
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

Replace the word 'inconceivable' with the word 'unthinkable', and that would be my riposte to Stephen Twigg. Why are the consequences of military action against Iran 'unthinkable' exactly? Not only are the their great upsides to destroying Irans nascent nuclear program, we are already seeing on many fronts all the downsides that Iran is capable of. Iraq is being used as a stage for Iranian influence, Syria is happy to play stooge to Iran for now and Hezbollah are destroying the prospects for peace in Lebanon even as we speak. Apart from sending out its greatly inferior naval forces into the gulf to get slaughtered, or its 1970's airforce to get shot down in an afternoon, what will be the stupendous, earth-shattering consequences that an attack on Iran would provoke?

Just as Saddam Husseins star waned significantly after the Israeli destruction of his nuclear setup at Osirak, so it will be for the Mullahs. In fact, the humiliation of it was one of the major factors in provoking the Iraqi dictator to make his single greatest error- the invasion of Kuwait- in a effort to recoup his lost manliness. But this time will be different? Why?

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