Posts Tagged ‘Twelfth Imam’

Cold War Lessons

by Alan Caruba on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

This is article 1033 of 1211 in the topic International
Some very interesting realignments are taking place in the world, often between nations one would think have little in common. The threat of fanatical Islam in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda related groups has produced unexpected outcomes.
Russia, China and Iran are supporting Syria which is under attack from Islamist forces while the Saudis are eager to see the regime overthrown, apparently for the same reason. The United States is likely to use its military assets to demonstrate it is no paper tiger, having largely been in retreat in the Middle East since Obama took office.
At age 75 I lived much of my life during the Cold War from 1946 until 1989, some 43 years which culminated two years later in 1991 with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Throughout that era it was, in the words of Ronald Reagan, the “evil empire.” Presidents from Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush had to base their decisions on what the Soviets and their satellite states were doing. At times it turned hot as in Korea and Vietnam.
It was the U.S. development of the atomic bomb and later the hydrogen bomb that dictated what occurred because neither nation wanted to engage in a nuclear war. Having stolen our nuclear secrets, the Soviets were able to develop their own and, later, Red China had the bomb as well. Other nations, too, would acquire their own. What emerged was the fear of “mutually assured destruction.”
This fear worked, but now the world is facing the prospect of an Islamic nation, Iran, having nuclear weapons (as does Pakistan) and, at that point, all bets are off. Islam embraces death as martyrdom and the gateway to paradise. In Iran, its leaders believe that massive human death and destruction is necessary to secure the return of the Twelfth Imam, a mythical figure, but one that is real to them.
In an excellent history, “The Cold War”, by John Lewis Gaddis, published originally in 2005, the reader is taken on a journey back to that era, but a goodly portion of the present U.S. population has little or no recall of it. Anyone age 24 or younger has no experience with the Cold War and likely no knowledge of it. The Korean War was fought in the 1950s and the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
The single lesson of the Cold War was that Communism could only exist if the governments that embraced it were led by despots and the full power of the state was used to maintain it. In the case of Russia and China, literally hundreds of millions died as a result. The closest example of Communism is Cuba, just ninety miles off the shore of Florida.
Other nations such as Venezuela and Nicaragua are essentially Communist, but the good news is that, during the course of the Cold War and in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, many new democracies have emerged.

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Muslims Killing Muslims

by Alan Caruba on Thursday, June 13th, 2013

This is article 113 of 117 in the topic Muslims/Koran
Don’t feel bad if you can’t tell a Sunni Muslim from a Shiite Muslim. It has been a source of confusion for many people outside the world of Islam. If Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal is right, we are witnessing “The Muslim Civil War.”
Here’s a quick lesson regarding the two sects within Islam. Suffice to say that the Sunnis are the vast majority throughout the Middle East and in nations where Islam is the predominant religion. The greatest concentration of Shiites is found in Iran and Iraq. Both Hezbollah and Hamas, Palestinians, are pledged to destroy Israel, are Shiite.
Islam was invented by Mohammed in the seventh century, an amalgam of pagan beliefs common to Arab tribes in Arabia and a light overlay of Judaism with practices such as the prohibition against eating the meat of pigs. In its earliest years, Mohammed instructed converts to face toward Jerusalem when praying. After Jewish tribes in Arabia refused to accept him as the new prophet of God, he slaughtered them and Mecca became the center of Islam. He had some knowledge of Christianity but disparaged it and, in time, embraced a hatred for all “infidels” (unbelievers) unless they too converted.
Mohammed’s death in 632 A.D. led to what could be called a family fight because a branch of the family, his direct heirs—now known as Sunnis—became the first four caliphs, taking over the leadership of Islam and ruling continuously in the Arab world until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. The Sunnis saw this as a devastating loss. The Sunnis comprised an estimated ninety percent of all Muslims at the time and remain the majority.
The conflict within Islam began when those called Shiites, the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, began to insist that only his branch of the family were legitimate. Without getting too deep in the weeds, when a mythical “Twelfth Imam” disappeared in 931 A.D., Shiites located largely in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, insisted that they had been deprived of a divinely inspired leader. Not until Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the movement to overthrow the Shah of Iran did the Shiites believe that a legitimate religious figure had emerged.
To give you an idea how deeply ingrained the schism between Sunni and Shiite is, Stephens began his commentary noting that “Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the prominent Sunni cleric, said Friday that Hezbollah and Iran are ‘more infidel than Jews and Christians.’” Suffice to say that, among the faithful, it’s a toss-up whether they hate each other more than they hate infidels.
“That a sectarian war in Syria would stir similar religious furies in Iraq and Lebanon was obvious more than a year ago, despite wishful administration thinking that staying out of Syria would contain the war to Syria alone,” said Stephens. “What should be obvious today is that we are at the down of a much wider Shiite-Sunni war, the one that nearly materialized in Iraq in 2006, but didn’t because the U.S. was there, militarily and diplomatically, to stop it.
One example is the decision by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Jeddah to punish Hezbollah for its “flagrant intervention in Syrian” against “freedom fighters.” In Kuwait some 2,000 Lebanese Shiite residents will be deported.

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The Iranian Countdown

by Alan Caruba on Sunday, February 26th, 2012

This is article 624 of 1211 in the topic International

How many times does Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have to publicly and loudly say that they intend to “wipe Israel off the map” and otherwise annihilate its Jewish population before the world takes seriously the murderous intent of Iran?

How many negotiations between United Nations Atomic Agency personnel and how much deliberate obfuscation and refusal to cooperate will it take before the world admits it is dealing with raving lunatics when it comes to the leaders of Iran?

In late February Ayatollah Khamenei, at meeting with Iran’s nuclear scientists, said “Pressures, sanctions, and assassinations will bear no fruit. No obstacles can stop Iran’s nuclear work.”

The widow of one assassinated nuclear scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Rochan Behdast, was quoted in the Iranian Fars News Agency article saying, “Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.”

In the lead-up to World War Two, numerous meetings with the Nazi leadership (plus a secret agreement with the Soviets to divide Poland) did nothing to stop its annexation of Austria and its invasion of Poland, the trigger for the conflagration.

Let us understand something. All the sanctions in the world will not deter the Iranian ayatollahs from a mission that began in 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic revolution that ousted the Shah and turned Iran into a prison nation. Among their earliest acts was to take U.S. diplomats hostage and hold them for 444 days.

International law and international sanctions mean nothing to the ayatollahs.

To the Iranian leadership—but not to its citizens who went into the streets of Tehran in 2009 to protest Ahmadinjad’s re-election—the whole world revolves around them. Their purpose is to bring back the Twelfth Imam, a mythical Shiite deity, to impose their brand of Islam on the world. Unknown to most is the fact that this can only be accomplished with a worldwide cataclysm of wars and massive death.

To the ever-lasting shame of the great powers, America, England, France, Russia, and China, they are all waiting for tiny Israel to preemptively attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and thus remove or at least delay the inevitable. It is a repeat of the 1930s run-up to World War II. They are running scared. They fear a war, but are failing to take the military action to avoid it a twenty-first century apocalypse..

An Israeli news agency DebkaFile report on February 22 was titled “Iran cuts down to six weeks timeline for weapons-grade uranium.” It reported that “Western and Israeli intelligence experts have concluded that the transfer of 20 percent uranium enrichment to the underground Fordo site near Qom has shortened Iran’s race for the 90 percent (weapons) grade product to six weeks.”

“The International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said Tuesday night, Feb 21, ‘It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin.’ This is the site where Iran conducts experiments in nuclear explosives and triggers.”

Disappointing?! Despite saying it was ready to resume talks with the great powers this is just one more example out of hundreds over the years in which Iran has purposefully stalled its way to still more time to achieve nuclear weapons.

When they get them, they will use them.

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The Difficulty of Predicting the End of the World

by Alan Caruba on Monday, October 24th, 2011

This is article 8 of 13 in the topic Doomsday Theories

I am beginning to feel sorry for Pastor Harold Camping who predicted the end of the world would occur on May 21, 2011 and, when it didn’t, predicted that it would end on October 21 instead. Oops.

The fact is that men of varying theological and astrological inclinations have been predicting the end of the world for a very long time. Predictions can be found in Hindu, Taoist, Scandinavian, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim eschatology—the branch of theology that is devoted to final events.

There is brief mention of it in Jewish literature but the term “messiah” referred to a human leader who would lead the Jews out of bondage and unite the nation. The most famous is Moses in the story of Exodus until Christians adopted the belief that Jesus was, in fact, the messiah and would return. Similarly, the Muslims adapted this to refer to the Twelfth Imam, a mythical figure whose return would be hastened by all manner of earthly death and destruction.

The very fact that all major faith systems have some version of a messiah or an end of the world story suggests that the fear of this event is deeply imbedded in human psychology and no doubt is related to the fact that we all die at some point. Conveniently, most religions have their version of what will occur when that happens and usually have a destination such as heaven or paradise for those who have lived moral lives and hell for those who have not. A Hindu gets to come back, but must dodge doing so as a cockroach.

The most famous prediction is the Mayan one that predicts December 21, 2012 as the end of the world. Technically, the calendar began on August 13, 3114 BC and the cycle it asserted ends in December 2012. Its longevity is testament the fascination that the Mayan calendar has evoked. Need it be said that Mayan civilization is no more, so in that sense it was accurate, but off by several thousand years.

In its most basic terms, the end of the world ends for every one of us when we die. Human vanity, being what it is, most of us can barely conceive of the world without our being in it. Some religions preach that we should embrace death and an afterlife while others, more pragmatic, suggest we make the best of the one we have in the here and now.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in the course of his soliloquy about suicide refers to “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” while Macbeth laments, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time” concluding it is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, said we should “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

We are besieged by scientists who keep telling us that a stray asteroid could destroy the Earth by randomly colliding with it out of the great vastness of space. Others content themselves with calculating when the Sun will go supernova billions of years hence. Then there are the known extinctions that coincided with magnetic reversals.

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The Iranian Armageddon

by Alan Caruba on Sunday, April 10th, 2011

In the months and years leading up to the beginning of World War Two, all the parties knew full well Hitler’s intention to start a war. When he struck a deal with Stalin to divide Poland, the die was cast. The invasion came in September 1939. Previously, diplomats had met with the Nazis to offer them the former Czechoslovakia and turned a blind eye to other provocative events.

World War Two was preceded by Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” that spelled out his plans for Europe’s Jews and the torrent of lies that led to war and the genocide that became known as the Holocaust.

It is not surprising that history is repeating itself as in the case of an April 7 letter to The Wall Street Journal by Alireza Miryousefi of the Iranian Mission to the U.N. “There is no evidence of any military diversion” in Iran’s nuclear facilities claimed Mr. Miryousefi, who went on to assert that “the real threat of nuclear proliferation” was Israel which he described as “the Zionist regime.”

Despite Iran’s support for two terrorist organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas, it was Israel, said Mr. Miryousefi, that was “the biggest terrorist and apartheid regime.”

Today, everyone knows the Iran’s crazed ayatollahs intend to secure nuclear weapon capability and everyone knows that, when they do, they will attack Israel with them. They have never ceased to call for its destruction. It is not a question of if, but when.

How close is “when”? The Iranians just released a video titled “The Coming is Near” that describes the current events in the Middle East as the prelude to the coming of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, a figure particular to the Shiite branch of Islam and one that Islamic scriptures say will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days.

In a nuclear age, as Nikita Krushchev, a former Premier of the Soviet Union, once said, “The living will envy the dead.” Those were the days of the Cold War and, with both the U.S. and Russia possessing nukes, the concept of mutually assured destruction, MAD, was understood. This, however, does not apply to the ayatollahs. They need massive destruction to bring about their Islamic End Times scenario.

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview with Bernard Lewis, the West’s leading scholar on the Middle East, he pointed out that the mullahs “are religious fanatics with an apocalyptic mindset. In Islam, as in Christianity and Judaism, there is an end-of-times scenario—and they think it’s beginning or has already begun.”

The result, said Lewis, is that “mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent—it’s an inducement.”

In the days leading up to World War Two, the diplomatic choice was appeasement. Today, hope is that the mullahs can be deterred long enough that Iranians will somehow bring about regime change from within. The computer virus, Stuxnet, had the affect of interfering with the enrichment process necessary to weaponize uranium, but may not now be a factor.

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A War with Iran is Inevitable

by Alan Caruba on Thursday, November 18th, 2010

This is article 271 of 1211 in the topic International

If the U.S. and allies had known that Nazi Germany would embark on the genocide of six million Jews in Europe, along with five million others that included gypsies, homosexuals, and political opponents, is there any doubt they would have taken preemptive measures to stop the Holocaust?

What we know about the Iranian regime is that it is led by Shiite fanatics that believe that the only way the mythical Twelfth Imam can return is for the earth to be in a state of complete chaos and anarchy. Almost from the beginning, following the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, the regime has engaged in an effort to achieve nuclear weapons. Their use against Israel is a certainty, but they would also be targeted against Europe.

Thus, when Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) recently called for war with Iran, I assumed he has some information I do not. Sen. Graham said, “I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies.”

In the 1980s, Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq. It ended in a stalemate, a million casualties, and the need to rebuild from scratch what was left of its military. Iran is located in one of the nastiest neighborhoods of planet Earth. It shares borders with Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

The Gulf States deeply distrust Iran’s nuclear and other hegemonic ambitions. The Saudis and the Egyptians recently conducted joint military maneuvers for that reason.

Internally, it faces a growing opposition from its mostly young citizens to the rule of the Supreme Ayatollah, Mamoud Ahmadinejad, and others who support the dictatorship that passes for a government there. Given time and covert assistance, one assumes they might prevail, but the real question is whether the world has the time?

Iran’s economy is in a state of collapse. As recently as November 9th there was a report of the arrest of four prominent Iranian student activists and others in anticipation of a government plan to phase out basic food and fuel subsidies. “The government is bracing for social unrest,” said one report.

If Iran’s leadership were rational, the last thing they need at this point is a war. They are not and their openly expressed hatred for Israel gives every indication of that.

As the primary source of funding for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza strip, Iran would seem to favor having its proxies take over Lebanon by force and to wage a new war on Israel. This would take some attention and pressure off of Iran as it works its will behind the scenes.

The Department of Defense and the CIA have war-gamed various plans against Iran over the years and the feedback was that neither liked the outcome because they always included the problem of an uncontrollable escalation.

As a point of reference, we put too few troops into Iraq in the 2003 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq regime and, while Baghdad quickly fell, the result became a long, unpopular war.

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How I Learned to Love the Bomb

by Alan Caruba on Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This is article 249 of 1211 in the topic International

As a child in the 1950s, I learned how to “duck and cover” in order to protect myself from an atomic bomb explosion. Little did I know that the instruction should have been “Kiss your asterisk goodbye.”

The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Soviets wanted to put nuclear-tipped long range missiles there, led to a confrontation between President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev that had both sides changing their underwear after it was over.

What do the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea in common? They all have nuclear weapons and, of course, Iran has been working toward that goal and is now very close to achieving it.

Some will argue that Israel should not be on the list because it has never acknowledged its nuclear capabilities, but everyone knows they have them. Presumably the Iranian mullahs do as well, but they are a bunch of nuts waiting for the mythical Twelfth Imam to come out of a well and smite the enemies of Islam.

It is instructive that both Pakistan and India acquired their nuclear weapons without anyone being aware of it until after the fact. At CIA headquarters, when India announced its successful test, it came as a very big surprise. These days, the U.S. is busy reassuring Israel that Iran is “at least a year away” from nuclear status and you can imagine how relieved they are to hear that.

North Korea is a wild card and, given the lack of success the U.S. and anyone else has had to get them to abandon their nukes, the same can be assumed for Iran when they make their announcement. Meanwhile they have to content themselves with announcing new missiles, the latest of which they dubbed “the ambassador of death.”

The Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has designated Sunday, August 29, as “The International Day against Nuclear Tests.” Given the total lack of success in thwarting any nation that wants a nuke, my confidence in the United Nations’ treaty is zero.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN component, has been kicked out of North Korea, Iraq and Iran on several occasions, so one might rationally assume it is useless when it comes to stopping the manufacture of A-bombs.

Olli Heinonen, the former chief of UN nuclear inspections worldwide, told Le Monde, a French newspaper, that Iran has stockpiled enough low-enriched uranium for 1-2 nuclear arms, but he thought doing so made no sense. Betting on the rationality of the Iranian ayatollahs is not a good idea.

Who doesn’t want a ban on nuclear weapons testing? The United States Senate for one.

While the U.S. has “signed” a number of the test ban treaties that have been around since the 1960s, the Senate has not ratified any of them, thus avoiding having to commit the nation to no longer testing new nuclear weapons. For some reason, the U.S. Senate does not trust Russia or the other nuke nations.

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