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December 07, 2006

Supreme Dictator Khamenei In Grave Condition

Michael Ladeen on the impending death of a tyrant.

Three days ago, Iran’s dictator, Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei, was rushed to the vast medical facility traditionally known as “Vanak” hospital (it now has an Arabic name that means “the 12th Imam Hospital”), a 1,200-room facility that saves half of its beds for the leadership.

Khamenei is known to be suffering from cancer, and taking considerable quantities of an opium-based pain killer. He has lost more than 17 pounds in the past ten months, and was told last spring that he was unlikely to see another New Year (In the Iranian calendar, the New Year begins at the end of March).

...

On Wednesday, thousands of students demonstrated on the campus of Tehran University, chanting “death to despotism,” and “death to the dictator.” And in Mazandaran Province, up by the Caspian Sea, thousands of angry workers protested in front of Ahmadi-Nezhad himself, announcing they were starving and demanding the government honor its promise to improve the lot of the poor.

Ledeen notes the suspicions among Iranians that a suspicious series of plane and helicopter crashes, killing a large number of high-ranking military (Revolutionary Guards) commanders, may have been the result of sabotage.

On the other hand, Ahmadinejad wants his spiritual/psychopathic mentor installed in the new top spot. So things may actually become much worse.


Related: Iranians Hit Wall On Uranium Enrichment. They're still expected to overcome these technological problems, just as the Pakistanis did, however. By late 2007.

Still, that gives us a little time.

To plan the airstrikes, I mean.

New Sec. Def. Gates: Iranian Nukes No Biggie: Anyone miss Rumsfeld?

When asked by a senator whether he thought Iranian President Ahmadinejad was "kidding" when he denied the Holocaust and called for "wiping Israel off the map," Gates responded: "No, I don't think he's kidding. But I think that there are, in fact, higher powers in Iran than he, than the president. And … while they are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for a nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent.

"They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons - Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west, and us in the Persian Gulf."

The senator followed up, "Can you assure the Israelis that they will not attack Israel with a nuclear weapon, if they acquire one?"

Gates responded coldly, "No, sir, I don't think that anybody can provide that assurance."

These are shocking responses, not so much for what they say about what the US will do, but for what they reveal about the thinking of the man poised to become the top defense adviser of the president of the United States. Gates's first instinct when asked about Iran's potential nuclear capability is not to explain why he views such a prospect as inimical to US interests, but why it might not be such a dangerous thing.

Gates assures us that although Ahmadinejad may be wacko, his Iranian leadership higher-ups have got to be more responsible. These moderate, reasonable, Iranian leaders, Gates calmly explains, have perfectly understandable reasons to want nukes to defend themselves. Not to worry, it's just the Cold War Iranian-style. Israel, the US, and Pakistan have nukes, why not Iran?

But what if this sunny analysis is wrong and Iran lobs a weapon of mass destruction at Israel? Well, that's a risk that Gates seems willing to take.

In another response Gates said, "I think that the consequences of a conflict - a military conflict with Iran could be quite dramatic. And therefore, I would counsel against military action, except as a last resort and if we felt that our vital interests were threatened."


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