THE IRANIUM REACTION: Is Jihad Rising? (Includes a reading list on Islamic Fundamentalism, Ahmadinejad, the twelfth imam (the Mahdi), and a nuclear Iran)
This may seem an esoteric or conspiratorial topic for a web site about economics during the Great Recession, but no human event has greater economic impact than war. One cannot make reasonable economic predictions — especially in 2012 when Iran is under the heaviest sanctions the world has ever imposed on another nation — without understanding the driving forces behind Iran’s nuclear ambition.
Regardless of how odd some may find the religious drives that impel nations toward holy war, those drives continue to exist in the world today, contrary to the secular modern mindset. Acting as if such beliefs are irrelevant to understanding the economy would be shortsighted, for there has been a great upsurge in the last decades in talk of holy war or jihad. In the past year, we’ve seen regimes all over the Middle East turn upside-down after years of relative quite in uprisings that lean toward Islamic Fundamentalism similar to the Iranian Revolution of the 1970’s.
Moreover, the entire world is now bearing down on Iran for its development of nuclear materials precisely because it is governed by the world’s most extreme Islamic Fundamentalist regime. Trapped people under great duress are more likely to be unpredictable or even dangerously wild. Iran does have the ability to retaliate against the world for the impacts it feels from these sanctions since much of the world’s oil passes Iran’s front door through the Straight of Hormuz and a fair portion actually comes from Iran.
You can be sure Iran’s leaders want to share their pain with those who cause it. If our goal is regime change and one of these leaders feels uprising in the air around him, he may be all the less rational because of what the West is bringing down around him. Did Saddam Hussein do what was the most rational and safe thing to preserve his country and his life? The assumption of rational reaction versus wild reaction from eg0-meniacal leaders to the threat of regime change is foolhardy. Already Iran has flexed its muscles a little against the world’s sanctions by cutting off oil to some eastern European countries.
Backing down to negotiate when their backs are to the wall may simply be beyond the ability of their egos. These particular leaders, unlike the more secular Saddam, have strong religious beliefs to reinforce their stance both publicly and within themselves.
Factoring the Iran nuclear crisis into the economic equation
I’m writing this article because many times this week I’ve heard commentators say that Iran is a rational regime that cares most about survival of the regime. Not one of them offered a basis for such a broad statement, so I think it is nothing more than a Western presumption.
Alan Dershowitz said last week that Obama himself generally has shown that he is friendly to the Jewish state, but some of his subordinates have not:
[General Martin Dempsey Chairman of Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff] made the absurd statement that Iran should be considered a rational actor. Rational actors don’t slaughter and execute thousands of their own people; rational actors don’t deny the holocaust; rational actors don’t call for the state of Israel to be wiped off the map.
This is more of the same kind of blind denial that caused economists not to see the Great Recession coming. It may seem like a given that all regimes are rational enough to care most about their own survival; but that, too, betrays a Western mindset that places religious beliefs below secular concerns. That mindset can blind millions, so we’d better take a closer look at it.
What is true of the individual who straps TNT around his waste or even around his child’s waste and blows himself or his child up can be equally true of a world leader who ascribes to the same ideology as the suicide bomber. His ego says, if he cannot have his regime, then no one will. Under his religious mindset, self preservation in life here and now is also outweighed by preservation for eternity for those who believe in an eternity. So, he may opt for the kind of regime preservation that comes by betting it all on a bold move, such as nuking Israel before the West can stop him.
Both leaders in Iran today, Ayatollah Khamenei and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are Islamic Fundamentalists who care greatly about Islamic prophecies of the end of this world and of the Great Beyond. Both have stated outright in the past year that they want to see Israel destroyed and that the entire world WILL see Israel destroyed. I believe our negotiations and sanctions will be for naught because this pressure to negotiate assumes a rational frame of mind that places maintenance of one’s own power as well as concern for what is best for one’s own nation at the top of the directives that drive these two human minds.
If both of these leaders believe Allah rewards those who are willing to take any risk on Allah’s behalf, they may take the bold move. We need to understand, in the very least, that we push for negotiations by putting an entire major city, Tel Aviv, at risk of total annihilation. Granted, the risks from striking Iran are equally great. So, I am not advocating that go straight to military action, I am merely saying that the clock is ticking for Tel Aviv. Israel does not have all the time in the world to wait. Waiting is, itself, highly risky to the global economy and particularly to those living in Israel.
Dershowitz also said in the interview quoted above …
I know Obama, I like Obama, I voted for Obama. I hope he is not remembered in history as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century, the person who didn‘t see the greatest evil, didn’t recognize the greatest evil of the 20th century, as Chamberlain did not.
While writing this article an event happened in Iran that I find particularly telling when it comes to knowing if negotiations are going to go anywhere. One or two writers I’ve read have said that Ahmadinejad’s ideas are not necessarily the Ayatollah’s, and the Ayatollah, not the president, is the supreme power of Iran. At least one writer indicated that the Ayatollah does not agree with Ahmadinejad’s nuclear ambitions and that recent elections in the power play between the two leaders caused more power to flow in the Ayatollah’s buy ambien online prescription direction.
I believe, on the other hand, that the power struggle between Iran’s president and its supreme religious leader has nothing to do with a difference over Iran’s nuclear ambition and the oppressive sanctions Iran’s nuclear standoff is causing. I think, on that issue, the two leaders are in one accord. Their differences are purely a power struggle.
The drama that played out yesterday in Iran reaffirmed that opinion. The Iranian parliament for the first time called in Ahmadinejad for questioning. The inquisition was intended by the Ayatollah’s supporters to publicly disgrace Ahmadinejad for resisting the directions of the Ayatollah last year. Throughout this public scourging not a single question was raised against Ahmadinejad about his nuclear standoff with the West. That strongly indicates to me that neither the Ayatollah nor parliament has any interest in changing nuclear direction from those set by Ahmadinejad:
[The parliamentary meeting] also highlighted that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the hard-line guardians of the ruling establishment, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard, are firmly in control before the possible renewal of talks with world powers over Iran’s nuclear program. An unwillingness to make compromises to ease the standoff could bring stronger calls for military action from Israel and the U.S The parliamentary grilling included no questions about the nuclear program or Iran’s response to Western sanctions. (Fox)
Why I believe the Iran nuclear crisis will have more influence on economic predictions in 2012 than any other event
I’m not advocating one strategy (war) over another (negotiations), but we really do need to see our enemy for whatever he really is and not just assume rationality simply because that is what we’d like to believe. Believing what we like to believe has shown itself many times in recent years to be the foundations of economic denial. I am simply stating that my understanding of Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei is that neither is going to budge with respects to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Both see this pursuit essential to Iran’s role in creating an Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East and in exterminating Israel. Sure, Iran will re-enter negotiations, but only as a way to buy time for its nuclear pursuit to continue, and it no longer needs much more time.
Iran’s first test of nuclear weapon may be a practical test on Tel Aviv. It may not waste time with an underground test, knowing that it has little time to accomplish its goal … if that is its goal.
I maintain that we cannot understand the situation we are now marching straight into or the risks we are allowing if we do not understand Islamic Fundamentalism and its prophecies, especially if we just assume Western ways of thinking apply in this situation. These prophecies are the forces that drive Ayatollah Khamenei, who was a key mover in the Islamic Fundamentalist revolution in Iran, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who joined the movement on its coattails, being a little too young at the time to play a significant role in the actual revolution.
Therefore, while Obama may be right to give negotiations one final chance as a solution, I think Iran shows all evidence of having another final solution in mind. While one morally must do everything possible to seek a resolution that avoids war, that creates a risk for Tel Aviv that is an equal moral hazard. I believe it is inevitable that we are on a path to war with Iran because it is resolute in its desire for nuclear warheads.
The significant aspect of that to this blog, is that I try to make economic predictions here, and I took up that task because our economic gurus and politicians have missed predicting every major economic event that has come along. In recent years, the exact opposite of their predictions has usually happened, and that is because 1) they are guided by bullish optimism and 2) they have only learned about numbers and have lost site of the fundamentals of economics. The Iran nuclear crisis is becoming the single greatest force that will be acting on the global economy in the months ahead. In the very least, Iran will do what it can to make sure the West suffers any pain that it has to endure because of Western sanctions.
But I need to support my case, and that is an intensive and detailed argument of evidence. So, I’ve assembled the following reading list. I’m putting hours into combing through the hundreds of books on Amazon related to the Iran nuclear crisis and the beliefs that drive Iran’s leaders to help overcome the natural inertia some readers might have to making their own investigation. Below, I have distilled the many possibilities down to the books that look to be the most interesting and that have the best reviews. I do this for my own continuing education as I always try to re-evaluate my own opinions, but also to share what I’ve found with you. I’ve sorted what appear to be the best-written books according to different dimensions of the Iranium Reaction. I’m not endorsing any of them, but listing them because they appear to be the most popular, or most interesting or best-reseached of their kind under each of the perspectives below:
Books and articles on the Iranian nuclear crisis and Ahmadinejad
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Knowing the enemy: Understanding Islamic Fundamentalism and such beliefs as the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, and Jihad
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Understanding Islam in Iran
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Scholarly books on Islamic Prophecies from a Muslim perspective (the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, Armageddon and Jihad)
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Fiction for fun created around Iranian predictions of the Twelfth Imam, or “Mahdi” … or just the end of the world
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Popular Christian Fundamentalists Writing About Islamic Fundamentalists
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