Sunday, March 11, 2012

The upcoming War against Iran: a Stress Test for Analysts

"When we classify our enemies, Arabs are the hard heads who would operate along exactly the same guidelines for ever, because they're Arabs. They are narrow-minded. Unsophisticated. Iranians are something that is much harder to characterize for Israelis because they are so much like us."
unnamed Israeli expert on Iran, quoted in Trita Parsi's "Treacherous Alliance"

Some weeks ago, I finished reading "Treacherous Alliance", Trita Parsi's excellent book on the triangle of love and hate that is Iran, Israel and the United States. I recommend this book to everyone interested in the all so long and winding geopolitical roads of the Middle East.

I soon found out that Trita Parsi is present on Twitter (@tparsi) and I contacted him. Firstly to congratulate him for his analysis of a mad "ménage à trois", and secondly to solicit him to answer a few questions for me that I would use for a future blog post - this one. 

Trita Parsi immediately accepted my request and I sent him my questions soon afterwards. Since then, I'm waiting. For answers. Trita wrote me once that he was sorry for not answering quicker, but the times, and therefore his schedule, were crazy for an Iran analyst. Is Iran developing a nuclear bomb? Is Israel going to bomb Iran's nuclear sites? Will the US be able to stop Iran's nuclear heads and Israel's warheads before all hell breaks lose? Will I still be able to pump gas at my local gas station or will I become a victim of a shut down Strait of Hormuz (wherever the heck that is)? It's not just me who is longing for answers, it's the whole world hanging on Trita's lips, so he shall be excused for not giving me the exclusivity of his wisdom.

analyzing a "ménage à trois": Trita Parsi

I know you know it all. You don't need me to tell you that Iran is a psychologically unstable country, permanently wavering between feelings of superiority, with aspirations to become a regional superpower, and inferiority, crying over an unsuccessful history with world powers. You don't need me to tell you that Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak understands very well if Iran would seek nuclear arms, since he would do it himself if he hadn't done it already. With the Americans sitting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bahrain, with the Russians in the north and the Pakistani to the east, both nuclear powers, and with the experience of having seen Muammar Gaddafi fall a few years after he had renounced to go the nuke way, the Iranians are actually acting quite rationally when they arm themselves to the teeth. And you don't need me to tell you that the only Muslim in US congress, Keith Ellison, constantly fights for sanity in an insane world, deploring that everyone talks of war when only 45 minutes of US diplomacy have been tried since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. (Here's Keith Ellison on MSNBC, talking about Iran and the non-existing US diplomacy.)

if I were Iran, I would do it: Ehud Barak

You don't need anwers then, you need questions. So let's try our luck with collective intelligence. Let's try to beat single man analyst Trita Parsi, should he ever find time to answer my questions, with a smart collective effort. Here are my questions to Trita Parsi. Please reply by using the comment section below or by sending an email to I will use your inputs for yet another post and I will make sure that Trita Parsi gets to know your sagacity. Jag har fortfarande din e-postadress, min vän.

  • How serious is Israel's rhetoric regarding Iran and its nuclear program? After all, Arab states (Gulf states in particular) should be more worried about an Iranian nuclear bomb than Israel.
  • Do you see a secret collaboration between the US, Israel and Iran happening as we speak (as they have done in the past)? In which fields (if any)?
  • Is China a new player in the Israel - Iran - US equation? How can it alter the equation?
Your comments on the following statements (my attempt at "ethno-psychology"):
  • Israel and Iran, the only non Arab countries in the Middle East, are like two strangers at a party where everybody else knows everybody else, thus naturally drawn to each other.
  • Iran is oscillating between feeling of superiority and inferiority. The gap between the two feelings defines the level of "injustice" Iran is feeling, and thus the course of action it is contemplating.
  • Everything that happens in the Middle East happens because of Iran, directly or indirectly. (And much less because of Israel.)
  • Iran wants to be part of "the game" while at the same time rejecting the rules of the game.
  • Israel has nothing to offer for the Middle East; Iran has a lot to offer (at least for some).
  • Israel and Iran are like two desperate farmers, constantly trying to irrigate and harvest a "field" (the Middle East) that is basically a stony acre for them.
  • Iran displays many attitudes and reactions of an "excluded child", (over-) compensating its childhood exclusion with zeal, ambition and a deliberate non-alliance as an adult person.

War is the continuation of politics with other means, Clausewitz said. But politics hasn't been tried seriously so far between Iran, Israel and the United States, only the rhetoric of fear and threats. Analysts are in high demand these times. So are sane heads.


  1. keep us posted when you get the answers!

  2. As always great reading i'm not a betting man but if i want to bet on this i will put all my money on iran they are waiting for a long time for this bye bye israel bye bye saudi arabia and qatar thank you Yorikiri, Jason Farook

  3. first answer / reaction just in from Trita Parsi (quoting): "you're clever :) will do my best." There is still hope...

  4. Ce qui m'a révolté dans cet article n'est pas la question de l'Iran et le point de vue d'un Israélien (même si ce dossier fait et fera couler beaucoup d'encre) mais la première phrase "When we classify our enemies, Arabs are the hard heads who would operate along exactly the same guidelines for ever, because they're Arabs. They are narrow-minded. Unsophisticated"
    Cher Yorikirii, je ne comprends pour quelle raison tu as passé sous silence cette première phrase qui ne fait que renforcer des stéréotypes sur les Arabes. La force des Israéliens réside dans leurs pouvoirs à asséner des clichés sur les Arabes qui, à la longue, pourraient être considérés comme des vérités par un public non critique.
    Créer des fausses vérités font partie de l'art de la guerre (Psy Ops); je trouve regrettable que ton esprit d'habitude vif et ironique n'ait pas relevé cette manipulation de la part d'un dénommé "analyste de l'Iran.

  5. Whoever you are chère Lobnania, I agree with you and your comment. Of course I could have written about this stupid sentence by an Israeli "analyst", since it is very obvious to me that this is part of their psy ops. But I didn't because I focused on other aspects when I wrote my last article. The statement just went to show that Israeli and Iranians are actually quite similar, or perceive themselves to be similar, in their political outlook despite their constant rhetoric of war. And it went to show as well how lowly Israeli think of their Arab "foes" (well, actually, their self chosen neighbors) and if you think lowly of your enemies, it is usually the first step towards defeat. I'm sorry if I didn't meet your expectations and didn't address these points like I should have done it. I invite you though to write a guest post on my blog to cover this important topic. You know how to find me. Thank you.