Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Sunday, February 04, 2007

French Apathy Towards Iran: Remember the Basij?

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It's no secret that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. It seems to me that French sources tend to be a large source of apathy and even sympathy towards Iran, besides that regime's traditional support from other admirable countries like China and Russia. Two anecdotes come to mind in particular:

Soon to be ex-President of France Jacques Chirac recently came out on record with an appalling complacency towards Iran getting the bomb. Chirac essentially said that there was no big deal about Iran acquiring nukes because if they tried to shoot one at Israel they'd be destroyed themselves moments later. Not only is this disgusting coming from the President of a country that closely collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust, but it shows amazingly poor understanding of Iran's leadership.

During the Irak-Iran war that lasted from 1980-1988, Iran sacrificed tens of thousands of children to clear Iraki minefields . They were known as the Basij, or Basiji. (See also MEMRI's Inquiry and Analysis Series on Basij Week, as well as Global Security's piece on the Basiji.) Ahmadinejad glorifies the Basij and associates himself and the regime with them at every opportunity.

Does France's President actually believe hundreds of thousands of dead would deter the Iranian regime? Why would this time be any different? This isn't the Cold War: MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) isn't a viable theory against an enemy who isn't concerned about incurring casualties.

The second point about French inertia regards an article I read in La Presse, by the dogmatically close-minded, blindly anti-American and anti-Israeli left-wing writer Jocelyn Coulon. Coulon wrote about how Iran was daring to defy the US and Israel. The 'daring to defy' language gives a despicable regime the appearance of being some poor oppressed darlings. In addition, it obfuscated the fact that a nuclear-armed Iran would be
(i) against nuclear non-Proliferation, which movement the left started and continues to supports, and
(ii) in defiance of the UN, another institution the left considers absolutely crucial. I hate hypocrites.

Here's the text of another letter La Presse refused to print:

Jocelyn Coulon ne cesse de montrer à quel point la gauche tient un discours incohérent. Alors que Coulon n’hésite pas pour critiquer les Etats-Unis en matière de droits humains, il ne trouve rien à dire au sujet du bien pire rendement de l’Iran. L’Iran, meurtrière de Zahra Kazemi. L’Iran, qui appelle au génocide du people Juif et à la destruction d’Israel.

Ainsi, Coulon a de la misère à comprendre pourquoi on traiterait ce pauvre minou de régime de «démoniaque» et pourquoi on voudrait l’empêcher d’obtenir la bombe atomique. Par ailleurs, on m’a enseigné au CEGEP que la lutte contre la prolifération nucléaire était une lutte amorcée est soutenue par la gauche!

Le discours incohérent de M. Coulon, représentatif de la gauche moderne, est de ceux qui me maintiennent dans le centre, alors que j’ai bien des sympathies en matière sociale avec la gauche.

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At 10:12 p.m., Canadian Politico Blogger costaragas said:

I don't know that I would say that France openly collaborated with the Nazi regime. The Vichy regime which took over after France capitulated in June of 1940 was not really representing the interests of her people... Moreover, the celebrated French Resistance obstructed Nazi operations throughout the war...

But I understand what you're saying. The tricky thing abour Iran however, is the way the country is run. It is a theocracy first, and a republic second. Ahmadinejad represents the second tier of power, and his superior, Ayatollah Khamenei, well, he runs the show. The power dynamics of Iranian internal politics are a little different than what we're used to because the Ayatollah will outlast the president. So the Ayatollah needs to ensure the long term stability of his country. The President on the other hand, his job is to have a short term impact.

It's a game of chess with the Iranians, and Ahmadinejad is just a pawn on the board. Khamenei is the "king", and a successful strategy that would see a peaceful resolution to Iranian nuclear ambitions should focus on Khamenei.

At 5:45 p.m., Canadian Politico Anonymous centrerion said:

Perhaps, but both Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah were around ine 1980-1988. I can't recall teh source, but someone said that Ahmadinejad trained the Basij... The Ayatollah was clearly in the know, so thus it's obvious they don't worry about sacrificing thousands of their people.

So it's irrelevant who there gets to press the button: they both have the will to do it.


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