By Kevin Barrett (Truth Jihad) for The Saker Blog
Spiritual Empowerment and Defense Readiness: Iran’s “Trump Card” Against US-Israeli Aggression
Do religion, spirituality, and ethics have any strategic significance?
Increasingly, since the time of Machievelli, the Western answer to that question has been “no.” According to the dominant view of Western elites, religious factors are usually a strategic liability rather than an asset. A spiritual soldier, according to this view, is less willing to fight. An ethical commander is less willing to make the hard decisions that lead to victory. And a religious society is likely to be scientifically and technologically backwards, and therefore unequipped with the latest weapons systems and strategies.
This dominant Machievellian view has been influenced by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Hobbes famously argued that humans have emerged from a state of nature, the war of all against all, by gradual conquests of ever-larger kingdoms, each of which is tyrannically ruled by a single sovereign. The sovereign tyrant crushes anyone who spreads disorder or challenges his authority, thereby pacifying his realm and facilitating commerce and technological innovation. All human progress, according to Hobbesians, is the product of tyranny. Therefore, tyranny is good! What’s more, by wars of aggression the tyrant enlarges the boundaries of his state, brings more peoples and lands into his realm, and thereby creates even more peace and prosperity. Therefore, wars of aggression are good!
The Machievellian-Hobbesian view, through a Nietzschean transmutation of values, takes what all non-psychopathic humans know is evil—tyranny and aggressive warfare—and redefines it as good. Simultaneously, it takes what all non-psychopathic humans know is good—resistance to tyranny and refusal to submit to, or perpetrate, aggression—and redefines it as evil.
Such a psychopathic philosophy of statecraft and war is clearly inimical to God-given human nature. By what process has our planet’s most technologically, economically, and politically powerful civilization adopted as its guiding principle a psychopathic philosophy that the 99% of humans who are not psychopaths—the vast majority of all populations, including those of psychopath-ruled countries—instinctively reject?
The triumph of psychopathy in Western statecraft is the product of the West’s post-Christian culture. Christianity, more than any other religion, rigorously preaches peace, as exemplified by the prophet Jesus’s (PBUH) injunction to “turn the other cheek,” his refusal to support anti-Roman militancy, and his insistence that “the meek will inherit the earth.” Unfortunately, even after the teachings of Jesus had spread, it became obvious that no then-existing human society could organize itself according to such principles and survive. Mainstream Christianity, largely authored by Paul and institutionalized by the Nicean Council, became the official religion of the warlike Roman Empire by emphasizing Jesus’s statement “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” and telling people to let the psychopathic Caesars rule. This amounted to abdicating religion’s role as the foundation of human society, fostering a schizoid split between “good” religion and “evil” politics. (Why good people would and should allow their societies to be dominated by evil leaders was never adequately explained by Constantinian Christians.)
Western civilization was constructed around this schizoid split between religion, the realm of mere ideals, and a completely different and vastly uglier set of political and social realities. This framework fostered the emergence of Machievelli, who threw religion and its ideals out the window. As Christianity lost its hold over the West, materialist-atheist Machievellianism, barely tempered by wooly-headed and rationally-indefensible humanism, became the order of the day.
Today, psychopathic Machievellians rule the West. Their subjects, who are mainly either wooly-headed humanists or residual Christians, are not psychopaths. They feel an instinctive revulsion toward aggression and tyranny. So the Western rulers are forced to dupe their subjects by disguising aggression as defense, and disguising tyranny as “freedom” or “democracy.”
The history of US wars during the past five decades shows that psychopathic leaders can indeed dupe their subjects, at least for a certain period, into believing that an obvious war of aggression is actually defensive, and that they are fighting for “freedom” and “democracy” rather than tyranny. But such deceptions have an Achilles heel: They quickly wear off as the truth emerges and as the public tires of the unjust war.
The case of the US war on Vietnam exemplifies this process. During the period that US neocolonial aggression against Vietnam was relatively unknown to the public (the 1950s and early 1960s) it was possible to wage the war without encountering major problems with morale and public opinion. Then when it was necessary to escalate the war to the point that it could no longer be hidden from the public, US leaders orchestrated the Gulf of Tonkin deception to create the illusion that the US was under attack and that North Vietnam was the aggressor. This deception, grotesquely obvious as it was, worked for a few years, thanks to the compliant media. But gradually the truth about the US war on Vietnam—that it constituted immoral aggression in service to tyranny—leaked out to the public. Soon the American people in general, and US troops in particular, turned against the war, making it unsustainable over the long term.
The same process happened fifteen years ago with the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars, planned many years before they were launched, were pre-legitimized by the false flag operation of September 11th, 2001, whose purpose was to create the impression that the coming wars were defensive responses to an unprovoked attack on America. Once again, as in the case of Vietnam, the ruse worked for a few years. But as the truth about US aggression and tyranny leaked out, the public, and a substantial segment of the military, once again turned against the wars.
The history of the US wars on Vietnam and Iraq underlines two critically important strategic facts. First, the US cannot hope to win a war with air power alone; victory requires a substantial and politically problematic commitment of troops on the ground. Second, any major commitment of US troops can only be made under the pretext that the US is engaging in defense rather than aggression; and even when extraordinary means are used to create this pretext (as in the case of 9/11) the legitimizing effect quickly wears off in the face of determined resistance by the targets of US aggression. The more time goes by, the more the public and elements of the military turn against the war.
US decision makers are, for the most part, aware of the above-described facts. They know that smaller wars, where they can quickly declare victory and go home (as in Grenada and the Iraq war of 1990) are much more likely to be successful than larger and more ambitious wars (Vietnam and the post-9/11 Iraq invasion and occupation). They dread committing major US ground forces to any large scale land war in Asia, knowing that the results are almost certain to be negative, and quite possibly catastrophic. After the Iraq debacle, the idea of a major US occupation of another large Middle Eastern country is, for all practical purposes, politically unthinkable.
The above considerations illustrate an important asymmetry between US and Iranian capabilities in any prospective future conflict. US leaders are in the unenviable position of having to wage all-out psychological warfare against their own population in order to brainwash their people and troops into accepting ongoing hostilities. (Such brainwashing campaigns have become more difficult in the internet era.) They are also faced with the problem that the longer hostilities persist, the more the public and an element of the military is likely to turn against the war effort.
Iran’s leaders face a very different “morale curve” with respect to prospective hostilities with the US. The Iranian people know that any US aggression against their country is in fact aggression; there is no conceivable way that US leaders could trick Iran’s people into believing that a US attack on Iran was somehow “defensive.” Clearly Iran’s leaders will direct a population that, in accordance with God-given (non-psychopathic) human nature, will rally to the defense of their nation. Additionally, the very strong element of religion in Iran will contribute to the spiritual strength of a population ready to make the kind of sacrifices that are necessary in warfare. And finally, the fact that Iran’s majority religion is Islam, which teaches that God not only authorizes but strongly encourages and rewards sacrificing in defensive warfare—a religious outlook institutionalized in the Islamic Republic—bodes well for Iran’s prospects in any war with the USA, and for its ability to deter such a war.
It is worth noting that the Machievellian-Hobbesian preference for a tyrannical and immoral sovereign is being tested by the presidency of Donald Trump. The immorality and tyrannical egotism of Trump have aroused fervent opposition to the man and his policies, both in the USA itself and around the world. It seems doubtful that an unpopular leader like Trump could successfully sustain any major, long-term military campaign against Iran, especially if it involved large numbers of “boots on the ground.” That Trump himself ran for president calling for a drawdown of the US presence in the Middle East, based on his recognition that the Iraq, Libya, and Syria wars have been disasters—a position that contrasted sharply with the more hawkish, interventionist posture of Hillary Clinton—makes it even unlikelier that he could betray and anger his supporters by launching an even more dangerous and difficult war on Iran. Not only would at least half of Trump’s supporters tend to oppose such a move, his extreme detractors, who are legion, would oppose it even more fervently. Any initial war fever, which Trump might hope would distract from his domestic problems, would quickly wear off.
Iran’s leadership, in marked contrast with America’s, is grounded in morals and ethics, not Machievellian-Hobbesian nihilism. Those morals and ethics derive from the religion of Islam, a 1400-year-old tradition that has proven to harmonize well with God-given human nature. Though the various segments of Iran’s population vary in their religious attitudes and behavior, the vast majority accept the basic morality and ethics that convince them, like all non-psychopathic humans, that aggression must be resisted. Thus Iran’s leadership finds itself in relative harmony with its population on the question of national self defense. That means that in any serious conflict with Trump’s USA, Iran will have staying power, while the US will wilt as the fire burns longer and hotter.
- For a detailed exposition of this view, see Ian Morris, War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014). ↑
- The facts that 9/11 was a false flag, and that the 9/11 wars were primarily designed to promote Israel’s interests rather than America’s, turned a segment of the US military, and even some prominent strategists including Zbigniew Brzezinski, against those wars. See: SFRC Testimony — Zbigniew Brzezinski, February 1, 2007 (http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2007/BrzezinskiTestimony070201.pdf); “Dr. Alan Sabrosky: “100% Certain That 9/11 Was a Mossad Operation” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7xTsWsLbV4); Global Warfare: “We’re Going to Take out 7 Countries in 5 Years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran… – Gen. Wesley Clarke” (https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166). ↑