On this solemn anniversary we look back with horror and gratitude. Horror at lives lost and gratitude for the exceptional courage that risked everything in the attempt to save those lives. It is a deep debt addressed only by the maintenance of spirit and resolve.
September 11th was judged by many to be a failure of imagination within our defense and intelligence communities. That analysis is open to debate but the question remains; has the lesson of imagination been learned? Can we imagine even greater tragedy?
This space has long warned that the ‘we can live with a nuclear Iran’ groupthink in Europe would cross the Atlantic. The proof is in. Bill Keller, Editor in Chief of the New York Times posits that we can in fact live with a nuclear Iran. Mr. Keller sees a nuclear Iran as the lesser of potential evils. He cannot imagine the potential for and acceptance of self destruction exists in the Iranian mind or that we would be incapable of applying a Cold War deterrent.
Mr. Keller’s perceptions are either a failure of imagination on his part or a highly selective engagement of the ‘experts’ he relies on to help him form his opinion. He makes the fundamental error of not engaging the underlying theology that drives Iran. That failure guarantees a failure of imagination by assuming that our values or the values of the Soviet Union during the Cold War apply to a Fascist theology. Mr. Keller’s commitment to a secular mindset makes it unimaginable for him to accept the power of religious belief despite the evidence all around him. Mr. Keller contends that Iranian enrichment can be controlled with “rigorous safeguards”. Those safeguards have been rejected by Iran for nearly a decade!
In my imagination I envision crude devices that are capable of delivering a destructive EMP pulse. No lives lost but imagine waking up tomorrow and nothing works. Nothing that relies on electronics is functional: no computers, power grid, airplanes, financial systems, banks, cars, trucks, signal lights; no water management, no waste management, nothing!
In my imagination I see Hiz’bAllah with suitcase nukes, crossing the border into Israel. In my imagination I see an attack against the Saudi oil fields rendering that oil supply unavailable for who knows how long. In my imagination I see the U.S. Naval fleet in the Persian Gulf subjected to an attack that does not require sophisticated delivery systems. In my imagination I see this and much more.
The basis for this imagination is an understanding of and acceptance of the theology that drives Iranian leadership; the need for chaos as the fulcrum for a religious rite of passage leading to the emergence of the next Messiah. My imagination is driven by the idea that Iran can be taken at their word. Not only the words they offer the West, the words they offer the Islamic world. My imagination is driven by an understanding of a culture that values death in service to theology over life absent that commitment. This is the theocracy that sent young children walking through mine fields to certain death to clear the way for troops to attack Iraqi positions; unimaginable for us, easily accepted by the Mullahs.
Can we defeat what we cannot or will not imagine? NO! We cannot!