Iran's Public Defense Industry Trade Show Maneuvers
Yesterday’s Iranian military hardware ‘Breakthrough of the Day’ was, on its face, amusingly humorous. The Pentagon confirmed (so much for stealth) that Iran’s much-touted Friday missile test, complete with claims of stealth (again) and MIRV capabilities, as that of simply a Shahab-2. Both serve to put the entire operation into perspective. It was an Iranian defense industries trade show.
From Sun Tzu: “If you are strong, appear weak. If you are weak, appear strong.”
This is what Iran is pursuing both on the military and the terrorism fronts. MIRV missiles, stealth ‘flying boats’ and world-record torpedo speeds. It largely hides its tentacles of terrorism from view, while attempting to dupe the West with false displays of military might.
But while Iran claims “We are going to have very important news that will make our nation proud in the next few days,” to the extent that they are conventional developments, much will be left to be desired. To be sure, however, is the troubling reality of the Russian and Chinese feeding tubes sustaining most of Iran’s military technological advances. While western media outlets are finally beginning to recognize Iran’s Persian Gulf exercise as more of a media blitz than a combined forces training exercise, China’s state-run media, Xinhua, continues to laud the illusory Iranian display of power with headlines such as Iran showcases its military strength.
But fear of Iran as a conventional military power was never the concern. The fear is founded upon the current Iranian role as the premiere state sponsor of terrorism and its collision course with nuclear capabilities. Russian and Chinese guidance in the latter while disregarding the former are of even greater concern than all other conventional assistance combined.
Germany’s foreign minister is urging the US to hold talks with Iran, talks that the realistic (or pessimistic) would see as no more productive than the fruitless talks about talks that the EU eventually even abandoned themselves in favor of a Security Council referral. Simultaneously, Iran is stating that it is ready to negotiate on large-scale enrichment, a public overture that fails to address the UN’s demand (and that of the West) that Iran cease all enrichment activities. For, so long as Iran can continue talks and discussions on its program and forestall any action against its program, their nuclear development proceeds.
Within the same breath, IAEA inspectors are set to visit Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, the site where Iran broke the IAEA seals under the protest and observation of the same inspectors.
The options are limited in dealing with a belligerent regime racing towards nuclear development, though military strikes appear more and more likely as time is squandered in inactive international debate over what not to do to the regime. Iran continues to posture that military strikes are not in US interests. While there would certainly be consequences, the world’s premiere state sponsor of terrorism rising to a nuclear power serves US interests even less. Indeed, Iran has suggested that terrorist strikes worldwide would result from any attack, coordinated primarily by its foreign policy arm, Hezbollah.
The question that must be answered is: Does the world believe that attacks would not occur if Iran were permitted to arm itself, and potentially its client terrorist organizations, with nuclear weapons?
Iran has a track record of international terrorism since 1979. Indeed, Iran and its Hezbollah offspring dwarf the threat perceived by many from al-Qaeda. In many ways, al-Qaeda itself enjoys the support and protection of the Iranian regime.
There are no palatable choices in dealing with Iran and the terrorism they cultivate. Doing nothing is the worst among them.