The good news is we're unlikely to be as obsessed with the war in Iraq in 2006 as we were in
2005. The bad news is we may soon have much more to worry about.
Mahmoud Amadinejad is the president of Iran, picked by the aging mullahs of the Guardian
Council who hold the real power in the land.
But perhaps not for much longer. Since his election last August, Mr. Amadinejad has been
replacing elderly clerics in senior government positions with colleagues from the Islamic
Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Iranian version of the SS, which he once commanded.
Mr. Amadinejad is a thug. He was one of the leaders of the "student" group which seized the
U.S. embassy during the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution in 1979, holding 66 Americans hostage
for 444 days. Later, he served in the Qods (Jerusalem) Force of the IRGC, which is comparable
to the SD, the intelligence arm of the SS. He is alleged to have masterminded assassinations of
Iranian exiles in the Middle East and Europe.
Mahmoud Amadinejad is a religious extremist who may also be a lunatic. He is said to believe
not only that the return of the "12th Imam," (which signals the end of the world) is imminent,
but that it is the responsibility of true believers to help create the conditions (chaos) which
would facilitate the 12th Imam's return.
According to Shia eschatology, the 12th Imam is a child named Mehdi who disappeared down a well
1,300 years ago, but who will return to redeem the world.
Mr. Amadinejad is according to "Alan Peters," the nom de plume of a former intelligence
officer who specialized in Iran a devotee of the Hojatieh philosophy, as extreme a form of
Shia Islam as the Salafi philosophy that motivates al Qaida is of Sunni Islam.
"The Hojatieh firmly believe (the Mehdi) will return only when the world contains enough
oppression, misery, tyranny and sorrow to warrant his coming," Peters wrote. "To hasten and
facilitate the return, they believe in spreading evil, tyranny and misery and argue that
standing in the way of all these delays his coming and their redemption."
Mahmoud Amadinejad may soon be the world's most powerful lunatic thug. The Israeli
intelligence service Mossad and Mohamed Elbaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, think Iran may have an atomic bomb as soon as March. Iran already possesses ballistic
missiles (the Shahab 3) which can strike Israel.
CIA analysts think it will be up to ten years before Iran has the bomb, an analysis which would
be more comforting if CIA analysts hadn't so frequently been wrong in their assessments of Iran
and Iraq in the past.
Mr. Amadinejad has called repeatedly for the destruction of Israel, and may soon have the
means. The Iranians have test-fired the Shahab 3 from oceangoing freighters, so Iran also
conceivably could strike at the "Great Satan" itself.
Those (like Elbaradei) who think Iran will get nuclear weapons, but don't feel the need to do
anything about it, assert Iran would only use its nukes for diplomatic leverage, as the Soviet
Union did, or for blackmail, as North Korea does.
But what if Mahmoud Amadinejad means what he says?
Adolf Hitler spelled out what he intended to do in "Mein Kampf." The leaders of Britain and
France didn't take him seriously, because they wouldn't do what he said he intended to do if
they were in his position, and because taking Hitler at his word would have meant having to
take dangerous, politically unpopular steps.
So the leaders of Europe convinced themselves Hitler wasn't what his words and actions
indicated he was. The result was a world war.
With Hitler safely defeated, the world's leaders vowed: "never again." But apparently that
resolve applies more to threats past than to threats emerging.
"We must prepare ourselves to rule the world, and the only way to do that is to put forth views
on the basis of the Expectation of the Return," Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech in Qom earlier
"We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization," said Hassan
Abbasi, Mr. Ahmadinejad's top foreign policy adviser.
But few in the West are paying attention.
Our pundits debate whether 2006 will be like 1994, when the opposition party made major gains
in Congress, or like 2002, when the president's hand was strengthened.
Let's hope it's not like 1939.