On Christmas day, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report which indicates Iranian oil production is about to plunge.
Iran currently earns about $50 billion a year in oil exports. Oil profits account for about 65 percent of Iranian government revenues.
But Iranian oil exports could decline by half within five years, and virtually disappear within ten, said Roger Stern, an economic geographer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The effect on Iran would be catastrophic. Thanks to mismanagement by the mullahs, and corruption on a scale so vast as to make even an Iraqi blush, Iran's economy is already a basket case. According to the CIA World Factbook, more than 40 percent of Iran's people live in poverty; the unemployment rate is 11 percent (more than double that for people under 30), and the rate of inflation tops 13 percent. Oil exports are just about Iran's only source of foreign exchange.
Impending fiscal catastrophe could make the Iranians more tractable, Prof. Stern thinks. If the U.S. can "hold its breath" for a few years, it might find Iran to be a much more conciliatory country, he told Barry Schweid, the AP's diplomatic writer, in an interview.
But one of the big reasons why oil production in Iran is declining does not suggest a happy outcome. Iran is spending so much on its nuclear program that next to nothing is being invested in modernizing oil production. Though the West has made it clear it will assist in developing nuclear energy if Iran will forswear its nuclear weapons programs, Iran would rather have the nukes than the carrots the West is offering. (emphasis mine)
The problem, of course, isn't if the U.S. "can hold its breath"; it instead revolves around whether the Iranian leadership wants to catastrophically end the occultation and bring back the 12th Imam by facilitating the end of the world.
As I have suggested in a previous post, it's no use saying that such behavior doesn't make sense and is irrational and suicidal. Just think of Ahmadinejad as the ultimate, high-tech suicide bomber who will wrap that nuclear bomb belt securely around his entire country. What matters to him is his own glorious role in fulfilling a prophecy.
The Iranian people, on the other hand, may have a different opionion about this. Particularly those who tend toward real democracy and freedom. The last thing they would want is for the US to legitimize the very leaders who are taking them down the path of economic hardship, religious fanatacism and involuntary martyrdom.
Then there is this tidbit:
There is a growing convergence of opinion among the leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that only an aerial bombardment of 17 known nuclear sites could retard Iran's nuclear ambitions by five to 10 years. One U.S. intel topsider remarked (not for attribution), "If we can gain five years that way, it's worth considering." He speculated Iran's moderate reformers could gain power in the interim,
Victor Davis Hanson writes today:
...as Iranians worry that their nation is becoming an international pariah and perhaps heading down the path of bankruptcy in the process, now is not the time for America to give in by offering direct talks with Ahmadinejad. That propaganda victory would only help him reclaim the legitimacy and stature that he is losing with his own people at home.
Better models to follow instead are our past long-term policies toward Muammar el-Qaddafi's Libya and the Soviet Union of the 1980s. As long as Libya sponsored terrorism and attacked Westerners, we kept clear, and boycotted the regime. Only in 2003, when the Libyans unilaterally gave up a substantial program of weapons of mass destruction, agreed not to violate nuclear proliferation accords and renounced terrorism did we agree to normalize relations.
In other words, "talking with" or "engaging" Libya did not bring about this remarkable change in attitude within the Libyan government. In contrast, tough American principles, economic coercion, ostracism and patience finally did.
The United States always maintained open channels with the Soviet Union. After all - unlike with Iran or Libya - we had little choice when thousands of nukes were pointed at us and Red Army troops were massed on the West German border.
But Ronald Reagan nevertheless embraced a radical shift in U.S. policy by actively appealing to Russian dissidents. He used the bully pulpit to expose the barbarity of the "evil empire" in the world court of ideas. All the while, Reagan further enhanced America's military advantage over the Soviets to speed the regime's collapse.
After the fall, courageous Russian dissidents from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to Natan Sharansky did not applaud Jimmy Carter, who had smugly pronounced the end of his own "inordinate fear" of such a murderous ideology. Instead, they preferred Reagan, who had challenged Soviet Premier Michael Gorbachev "to tear down" the Berlin Wall. America came out ahead when we were on the side of people yearning for change rather than coddling the regime trying to stop it.
Coddling the regime and legitimizing psychotics like Ahmadinejad seems to be all the rage now on the part of the Democrats-- probably because they believe it demonstrates their true committment to peace as well as their "selfless compassion"; while at the same time they are hoping it will firmly establish their anti-Bush bona fides.
They were wrong when they hysterically screeched and demanded appeasement, warning of imminent doom when Reagan confronted the evil empire in the 80's; so, too, are they wrong now to demand appeasement and legitimization of Iran and the mullahs. This is not "realism", but folly.
Ahmadinejad's provocative behavior to the West represents the last gasps of a desperate regime that is failing economically and politically. He knows that the only way to get international respect and maintain control in his own country is to flaunt his nuclear credentials; and then if he can get away with it, use those credentials to further his fanatical religious agenda. Coincidentally, that religious agenda also serves to help him (and the mullahs) consolidate their internal control by blaming all the country's problems on America, Israel, and the Jews. All tyrants have learned that the use of psychological projection with the right amount of mindless paranoia will anesthetize the masses and keep them focused externally.
Instead of coddling these tyrants, it is time to break them. It is in our best interests to further the development of an emasculated Iran by facilitating the decline of their oil exports (and breaking our own dependence on these oil despots in the process by developing alternative energy options) through sanctions and a refusal to buy their oil. This will force them to deal with the rest of the world in a civilized manner. By obliterating their oil facilities we cut them off at the knees. This will either improve their behavior toward the rest of the world or facilitate regime change. We can get them to abandon their nuclear ambitions in this manner also; and if they continue to proceed down the nuclear path, we can always take out the nuclear facilities when that becomes necessary.