(after Luke wins a poker hand with an empty hand on a bluff)
Dragline: Nothin’. A handful of nothin’.
You stupid mullet head. He beat you with nothin’. Just like today when he kept comin’ back at me – with nothin’.
Luke: Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.
— Cool Hand Luke (1967)
KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (Itar-Tass) – Islam will soon be the domineering force in the world, placing first in the number of its followers among all other religions. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed this confidence here at the end of his state visit to Malaysia.
Following a meeting with Sultan Jamalullail I, the supreme head of the federation of nine states where Islam was proclaimed the state religion, he pontificated: “The world will be in the hands of Islam over the next few years.”
This appeared in Tass, which still hasn’t completely rehabilitated itself from its days as a Soviet propaganda organ, so take it with a grain of salt, but its not out of line with other comments Iran’s president has made recently.
What is his game, making these outrageous statements? A theory I’ve been knocking around is that Iran is not on the verge, as in the next couple of years, of deploying tactical nuclear weapons. Coming across as a belligerent loose cannon might improve Iran’s bargaining position as the West seeks to bribe them out of developing weapons they don’t have the resources to build anyway.
Its logical that if Iran were on the cusp of joining the nuclear club, Ahmadinejad should just shut up and stall as long as possible until its a done deal. In fact, downplaying the bellicose rhetoric would be more soothing to the skittish Europeans, who never fail to grasp any chance of appeasement and excuse for inactivity on matters of international security.
Iran’s president’s strategy may be to force a compromise advantageous to Iran while playing an empty hand. What does he have to lose? Israel or the U.S. preemptively striking empty silos or preliminary research and development labs? On the other hand, if he does have advanced technology, an attack could devastate the program and he would lose his best bargaining chip.
He is also probably positioning himself, as Saddam once tried to do,as the leader of the Arab world, a position that has been empty since Saddam was deposed. Osama is hunted, seemingly impotent and increasingly unpopular because of Al-Qaeda attacks on Arabs.Ahmadinejad may be positioning himself so that an attack on Iran is seen as an attack on all Arabs and on Islam itself.
Of course he might just be playing to the home crowd with no concern for how his words make him sound to the Western democracies. That seems unlikely. It’s more likely everything he says is for George Bush and Israel’s ears. Its almost as if he is inviting an attack.
Saddam tried bluffing with an empty hand, and it ruined him. George Bush has pretty much shown he will take action with little regard to political considerations, if he feels the country is at risk. Ahmadinejad may not realize it, but nothing isn’t always a pretty cool hand.
ADDENDUM: This story,alleging that Iran is smuggling armor-defeating bombs into Iraq adds even more fuel to the fire. Some commentators have opined that this constitutes and act of war. Capt. Edagrees. Is Iran trying to entice the U.S. into attacking? Would Iraq’s Shiites support Iran in such a war? Muqtada al-Sadr surely would.
More Iranian provocation here: Iranian negotiator boasts of fooling Europeans
The man who for two years led Iran’s nuclear negotiations has laid out in unprecedented detail how the regime took advantage of talks with Britain, France and Germany to forge ahead with its secret atomic program.
In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3until last year, revealed how Tehran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear program was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.