This folksy looking map is currently the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is the 18th largest country in the world and is home to some seventy million people. Humans have been living in this region of the world for an exceedingly long span of centuries and the real estate has been counted in numerous empires including the Achaemenid, the Parthian, the Seleucid, the Sassanid, the Safavid and last but not least the original flavoured Persian Empire. You want empires? Oi! Iran has all the best empires. If you're really serious about this empire business then you should go - tell them Sal sent you.
I know very little about Iranian people and the Iranian way of life but I'm going to go out on a limb and make a sweeping generalization: These Iranians, let me tell you they just HATE to have their country reduced to a quasi-military map filled with "possible flash points" and big-assed nuclear symbols. I bet we can all figure out just what the fuck a flash point is, right? Why the hell would a newspaper feel compelled to create a graphic explaining how one country or coalition of countries is going to fricassee another country? Are we really learning anything with this image or is the point for us to unlearn what that map truly represents? (That would be seventy million people who no doubt share our love of clean water and electricity.)
The shit-talk against Iran is running high my friends and like excrement it flows from areas of high concentration to low, moving around the world like the migratory poo-geese of old. It starts of course with everyones' favorite fistula of foreign policy; Bush! Iran is to blame for Iraq's ongoing woes and they must be contained. Dick Cheney is smiling because he knows exactly what what means - cue the map! (You can find a big version in the following link.)
Next it was France beating the war drum. (Yeah I know, the joke writes itself but I'm shooting for originality here.) The French Foreign Minister was talking tough, no doubt echoing the sentiments of France's new, neo-con friendly President Nicholas Sarkozy. This is a good thing, the chicken hawks are saying, because what with America's credibility in the toilet the world needs another country to make accusations and veiled threats.
China and Russia have both stepped up and said enough with the dick-swinging already. When the hell did you think that those countries would be the rational voice of reason? Funny thing is there's an answer to that rhetorical sounding question: Ever since they all got in bed together with global trade agreements and sweet energy deals. Tee Hee Hee!!!
I cannot see Iran being invaded a la Iraq but a bombing campaign is something I can't easily dismiss. I think the world at large is completely fed up with pre-emptive war but if Bush and Cheney unilaterally call in strikes I don't know what the rest of the world would do about it. As Israel's attack on Lebanon last summer clearly indicated, right and wrong are meaningless when you have enough power to ignore dissenters in the U.N. I think most world leaders don't see Iran in the hyperbolic colours that the U.S. or Israel paint the Persians with, but instead are hoping to lie low and wait out the Presidency before engaging in some genuine diplomatic overtures. Of course in the meanwhile the U.N. Security Council will soon vote on whether stricter sanctions need to be laid on Iran. I think sanctions are vile but this post is running long enough as it is, I'll vent another time.
In most-likely related news Israel performed air strikes on what seems to be a Syrian reactor site over a week ago. There has been limited information released on the operation, apparently the strike was to destroy nuclear equipment delivered from North Korea. It is thought that the operation was also a dry-run to test new abilities should they be needed against Iran. All of this however is speculation.