Archive for the ‘Strategy’ category

Our Good Islam/Bad Islam Strategy

February 11, 2016

Our Good Islam/Bad Islam Strategy, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, February 11, 2016

Behead them

There is no Good Islam. There is no Bad Islam. There is just Islam.

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Our only hope of defeating Islamic terrorism is Islam. That’s our whole counterterrorism strategy.

But Islamic terrorism is not a separate component of Islam that can be cut off from it. Not only is it not un-Islamic, but it expresses Islamic religious imperatives. Muslim religious leaders have occasionally issued fatwas against terrorism, but terrorism for Muslim clerics, like sex for Bill Clinton, is a matter of definition. The tactics of terrorism, including suicide bombing and the murder of civilians, have been approved by fatwas from many of the same Islamic religious leaders that our establishment deems moderate. And the objective of terrorism, the subjugation of non-Muslims, has been the most fundamental Islamic imperative for the expansionistic religion since the days of Mohammed.

Our strategy, in Europe and America, under Bush and under Obama, has been to artificially subdivide a Good Islam from a Bad Islam and to declare that Bad Islam is not really Islam. Bad Islam, as Obama claims, “hijacked” a peaceful religion. Secretary of State Kerry calls Bad Islam’s followers, “apostates”. ISIS speaks for no religion. It has no religion. Which means the Islamic State must be a bunch of atheists.

Our diplomats and politicians don’t verbally acknowledge the existence of a Bad Islam. Even its name is one of those names that must not be named. There is only Good Islam. Bad Islam doesn’t even exist.

This isn’t just domestic spin, which it is, but it’s also an attempt at constructing an Islamic narrative. Our leaders don’t care what we think. They just want us to keep quiet and not offend Muslims. They do care a great deal about what Muslims think. And so, in their own clumsy way, they try to talk like Muslims.

They are attempting to participate in an Islamic debate without the requisite theological credentials. They want to tell Muslims that they should be Good Muslims not Bad Muslims, but they’re too afraid to use those words, so instead they substitute Good Muslims and Not Muslims. All Muslims are Good Muslims and Bad Muslims are Not Muslims is their Takfiri version of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

Our counterterrorism strategy has been constructed to convince Good Islam to have nothing to do with Bad Islam. And any of us who criticize Good Islam or argue that the artificial distinction between Good Islam and Bad Islam, between Saudi Arabia and ISIS, between Iran and Hezbollah, between Pakistan and the Taliban, is false are accused of provoking Good Islam to transform into Bad Islam.

Nothing so thoroughly proves that the difference between Bad Islam and Good Islam is a lie as the compulsive way that they warn that Good Muslims are capable of turning into Bad Muslims at any moment. Offend a Good Muslim, criticize his religion, fail to integrate him, accommodate his every whim and censor what he dislikes and he’ll join ISIS and then he’ll become a Bad Muslim.

After every terror attack, the media painstakingly constructs a narrative to determine why former moderates like Anwar Al-Awlaki, the Tsarnaevs or the San Bernardino killers turned bad without resorting to religious explanations. Their efforts at rationalization quickly become ridiculous; Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood killer, contracted airborne PTSD, Anwar Al-Awlaki, the head of Al Qaeda in Yemen, became an “extremist” because he was afraid the FBI had found out about his prostitutes and the Times Square bomber turned into a terrorist because his “American Dream” was ruined.

Nobody, they conclude, becomes an Islamic terrorist because of Islam. Instead there are a thousand unrelated issues, having nothing to do with Islam, which creates the Muslim terrorist. Even the term “Radical Islamic Jihadist”, an absurd circumlocution (is there a moderate Islamic Jihadist), has become a badge of courage on one side and a dangerous, irresponsible term that provokes violence on the other.

But what is the distinction between Good Islam and Bad Islam? It isn’t fighting ISIS. Al Qaeda and the Taliban do that. It isn’t terrorism. Our Muslim allies, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey and Qatar, are hip deep in the terror trade. It isn’t equality for non-Muslims. No Muslim country under Sharia law could have that. Equality for women? See above.

What are the metrics that distinguish Good Islam and Bad Islam? There aren’t any. We can’t discuss the existence of Bad Islam because it would reveal that Bad Islam and Good Islam are really the same thing.

Our Good Islam allies in Pakistan fight Bad Islam’s terror, when they aren’t hiding Osama bin Laden. Bad Islam in the Islamic State beheads people and takes slaves and Good Islam in Saudi Arabia does too. Qatar is our Good Islam ally helping us fight Bad Islam terrorists by arming and funding Good Islam terrorists who sometimes turn out to be Bad Islam terrorists so we can’t figure out if the Islamic terrorists the CIA is routing weapons to are Good Islam terrorists or Bad Islam terrorists.

The moderate Muslim Brotherhood wins democratic elections. The extremist Muslim Brotherhood then burns down churches. The moderate Palestinian Authority negotiates with Israel and then the extremist Palestinian Authority cheers the stabbing of a Jewish grandmother. The moderate Iranian government signs a nuclear deal and then the extremist Iranian government calls for “Death to America”.

Like the saintly Dr. Jekyll and the mean Mr. Hyde, Good Islam and Bad Islam are two halves of the same coin. When Dr. Jekyll wanted to act out his baser nature, he took a potion and turned into Mr. Hyde. But the nasty urges were always a part of him. When a moderate Muslim pulls a Keffiyah over his face and starts stabbing, bombing or beheading, he doesn’t become an extremist, he just expresses his dark side.

Good Islam borrowed all sorts of noble sentiments from Judaism and Christianity. But when non-Muslims didn’t accept Islam, then Mohammed stopped playing nice and preached murder. Bad Islam is not something ISIS invented on a website. It’s always been a part of Islam. We attempt to separate Good Islam and Bad Islam because we don’t like being beheaded. But Muslims don’t make that distinction.

Our counterterrorism strategy is based on empowering Good Islam, on building coalitions with Muslims to fight terrorism and enlisting their cooperation in the War on Terror. But we’re trying to convince Dr. Jekyll to help us fight Mr. Hyde. And Dr. Jekyll might even help us out, until he turns into Mr. Hyde.

Our moderate Afghan Muslim allies, when they’re aren’t raping young boys (one of their cultural peculiarities we are taught to ignore), sometimes unexpectedly open fire on our soldiers. The Muslim migrants who arrive here to “enrich” our societies sometimes start shooting and bombing. The head of Al Qaeda was hanging out near the West Point of Pakistan. The mastermind of 9/11 was saved by a member of the Qatari royal family. The call is coming from inside the house. Mr. Hyde is Dr. Jekyll.

When we “empower” and “build coalitions” with Good Islam, we’re also empowering and building coalitions with Bad Islam. Just ask all the Muslim terrorists running around with our weapons.

Our leaders want Good Islam to shield us from Bad Islam. If Good Islam is out front, then Muslims won’t see a clash of civilizations or a religious war, but a war between Good Islam and Bad Islam. But the Muslim understanding of Good Islam and Bad Islam is very different from our own.

Sunnis see their Jihadis as Good Islam and Shiites as Bad Islam. Shiites look at it the other way around. The Muslim Brotherhood, that our elites were so enamored with, saw secular governments as Bad Islam. To win them over, we helped them overthrow more secular governments because our leaders had adopted an understanding of Good Islam in which giving Christians civil rights was Bad Islam.

To win over Good Islam, we censor cartoons of Mohammed and criticism of the Koran, open our borders, Islamize our institutions and then wait to see if we’re on the good side of Good Islam. We adapt our societies and legal systems to Islamic norms and hope that it’s enough to let us join the Good Islam Coalition. If we go on at this rate, the experts will tell us that the only way to defeat Islamic terrorism is for us to become Muslims. Only then will we become members in good standing of Good Islam.

There is no Good Islam and no Bad Islam, as Muslim leaders occasionally trouble to tell us. The distinction that our leaders make between Good Islam and Bad Islam is not theological, but pragmatic. They dub whatever is shooting at us right now Bad Islam and assume that everything else must be Good Islam. That is the fallacy which they used to arrive at their Tiny Minority of Extremists formula.

There is no Tiny Minority of Extremists. Behind the various tiny minorities of extremists are countries and billionaires, global organizations and Islamic banks. Outsourcing our counterterrorism strategy to the countries and ideologies behind the terrorists we’re fighting isn’t a plan, it’s a death wish.

Islamic terrorism is just what we call Islam when it’s killing us.

The Jihad isn’t coming from some phantom website. It’s coming from our Muslim allies. It’s coming from Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It’s coming from the Muslim Brotherhood and its front groups. It’s coming from the moderate Muslim leaders that our leaders pose with at anti-extremism conferences. And it’s coming from the mosques and homes of the Muslims living in America.

There is no Good Islam. There is no Bad Islam. There is just Islam.

12 Hair-Raising Facts from Congressional Terror Report

September 30, 2015

12 Hair-Raising Facts from Congressional Terror Report, Clarion ProjectRyan Mauro, September 30, 2015

Islamic-State-Victory-Parade-HPAn Islamic State victory parade

Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee released the final report of its Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel and its conclusions weren’t pretty. The following are a dozen hair-raising facts from the bipartisan report:

“Today, we are witnessing the largest global convergence of jihadists in history.”

If you consider how the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets impacted the terrorist threat to the West, then we’re in for a heap of trouble due to the jihad in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

About 10,000 foreign fighters joined the jihad against the Soviets over roughly a 10-year period, with only 3-4,000 fighter joining at once. Today, over 25,000 foreign fighters are currently in Syria and the civil war is only four years old. When it started in 2011, the number of foreign fighters was a mere 1,000.

“We have largely failed to stop Americans from traveling overseas to join jihadists … Several dozen also managed to make it back into America.”

This stunning conclusion will add ammunition to efforts to revoke the passports of Americans who are believed to have joined jihadists overseas. Aside from constitutional objections, one rebuttal has been if the government has the evidence to show an American has joined terrorists, then it can simply arrest them if they try to re-enter. The report shows that these American traitors have been able to evade detection and come back home to potentially carry out attacks and/or radicalize others.

“The U.S. government lacks a national strategy for combating terrorist travel and has not produced one in nearly a decade.”

This statement, unfortunately, speaks for itself.

“The unprecedented speed at which Americans are being radicalized by violent extremists is straining federal law enforcement’s ability to monitor and intercept suspects.”

Over 250 Americans have joined or tried to join the jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, including around 30 females. They come from 19 states, with 26% coming from Minnesota, 12% from California and 12% from New York/New Jersey.

“There have now been twice as many ISIS-inspired terror plots against the West in 2015 than there were in all of 2014.”

This conclusion is unsettling—and charitable. A review by terrorism expert Patrick Poole found that the number of Islamist terrorism cases in the U.S. this year was double that of the previous two years combined. And that was as of about four months ago.

“[ISIS] is believed to have inspired or directed nearly 60 terrorist plots or attacks against Western countries, including 15 in the United States.”

“Military officials estimate airstrikes have killed over 10,000 [ISIS] extremists, but new foreign fighters replace them almost as quickly as they are killed.”

This substantiates the admission that the U.S. fight with ISIS was at a “stalemate.” Our analysis of the numbers led to thesame conclusion back in May. If you look at ISIS’ membership and territorial expansion, the U.S. is barely making a dent.

Additionally, optimistic claims of success exempt ISIS’ growth outside of Iraq and Syria. The Committee mentions reports that there are “hundreds, if not thousands” of ISIS members in Afghanistan now and the Libyan government believes it is dealing with 5,000 of its own jihadist foreign fighters now.

“Gaping security weaknesses overseas—especially in Europe—are putting the U.S. homeland in danger…”

The report raises several warnings about European security procedures, a pressing issue considering that about 1,550 fighters from France, 700 from Germany and 700 from the United Kingdom have joined the jihad in Syria and Iraq. The Committee found that counter-terrorism checks at European borders and airports are insufficient.

One-third of the international community does not issue fraud-resistant E-Passports or utilize the INTERPOL databases that contain the names of terrorists.

“In short, information about foreign fighters is crossing borders less quickly than the extremists themselves.”

The report emphasizes that intelligence-sharing remains a severe problem. There isn’t even an international comprehensive database of foreign fighter names.

“The federal government has failed to develop clear early intervention strategies—or ‘off-ramps’- to radicalization—to prevent suspects already on law enforcement’s radar from leaving to join extremists.”

Someone who is actively trying to join a group like ISIS or Al-Qaeda is probably too far gone to be rescued, unless they get a brutal wakeup call when they see the caliphate first-hand. The report states that 80% of foreign fighters download extremist propaganda and/or engage a jihadist online. It is critical that we target the ideology that precedes the violent act.

“Few initiatives exist nationwide to raise community awareness about foreign fighter recruitment and to assist communities with spotting warning signs.”

The report says that 75% of foreign fighter arrests in the U.S. happen due to the involvement of a confidential informant who is close enough to the suspect to provide the critical evidence. Presumably, this would be a Muslim in most cases. This is why Islamist propaganda that demonizes the FBI and its informants must be rebutted, such as when the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claims that the War on Terror is “made up” by the FBI and its informants are paid to frame innocent Muslims.

“The Administration has launched programs to counter-message terrorist propaganda abroad, but little is being done here at home.”

The report isn’t exactly kind to our ideological strategy abroad, either. It says the U.S. government has not exploited the opportunity presented by “jaded jihadists”— Islamist terrorists who join the caliphate, realize it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and flee. For example, a State Department video featuring such testimonies had only 500 views over two months.

 

Mark Moyar: Lurching without direction

August 5, 2015

Mark Moyar: Lurching without direction, Power Line, Mark Moyar, August 5, 2015

Because crisis management focuses on reducing symptoms rather than eliminating causes, its practitioners typically resort to half measures and token gestures. By demonstrating that the White House is “doing something,” symbolic actions often suffice to alleviate press scrutiny and public pressure for action, at least temporarily. They seldom remedy the problem that they were ostensibly addressing.

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Mark Moyar is Visiting Scholar at The Foreign Policy Initiative and the author, most recently, of the important new book Strategic Failure: How President Obama’s Drone Warfare, Defense Cuts, and Military Amateurism Have Imperiled America. We invited Mark to write something for us bearing the subject of his book. He has responded with this column:

Last year, shortly before Barack Obama fired him, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel chided America’s President for “lurching from crisis to crisis without direction.” The treatment of foreign policy as an exercise in ad hoc crisis management has characterized Obama’s entire Presidency, as indeed it has every Democratic Presidency of the last half century. Fixated on domestic affairs and reluctant to assert American power overseas, Democrats from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama have viewed foreign policy challenges as nuisances to be kept off the front page of the New York Times, rather than problems to be solved through a coherent grand strategy.

Whereas a good strategy drives an active foreign policy, crisis management is inherently reactive. International problems reach the President’s attention mainly when they generate inordinate press coverage or cause a spike in unfavorable polling. Active adversaries, like North Vietnam in 1964 and Russia and ISIS in 2015, have consistently beaten a reactive United States to the punch and dodged the counterpunches.

Because crisis management focuses on reducing symptoms rather than eliminating causes, its practitioners typically resort to half measures and token gestures. By demonstrating that the White House is “doing something,” symbolic actions often suffice to alleviate press scrutiny and public pressure for action, at least temporarily. They seldom remedy the problem that they were ostensibly addressing.

In the case of Syria, Obama rejected recommendations from his cabinet to arm moderate Syrian rebels until 2013, by which time most of the moderate rebels had been killed or co-opted by extremists. He then decided to train and equip rebel forces in such small numbers and with such restrictions on their activities as to render them insignificant. When ISIS advances compelled Obama to restart American training of Iraqi forces, Obama put a ceiling on the number of U.S. trainers that limited throughput to 3,000 trainees per year, too few to make a difference in the war against ISIS or to lessen the influence of the 100,000 Iraqi Shiite militiamen whom the Iranians were training.

In Afghanistan, Obama authorized a troop surge, but began withdrawing troops much earlier than his generals advised, preventing completion of the military’s counterinsurgency campaign and discouraging Afghans from siding with the pro-American government. In Libya, Obama joined a NATO campaign against Muammar Gadhafi after international outrage about Gadhafi’s atrocities reached fever pitch, but his refusal to send American military forces to help secure the peace or protect American interests led to the collapse of central governance and the killing of the U.S. ambassador at Benghazi.

Of the recent additions to the administration’s list of token gestures and half measures, the most flagrant offender is Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Less well known is his response to the crisis of Russian expansionism. For more than a year, Eastern European allies and American critics—some of them within the Obama administration—have been calling for tougher American actions to discourage further Russian advances. Obama finally made his token gesture at the end of June, announcing that the United States would send American troops and heavy weaponry to several eastern European countries.

The joy that the initial announcement may have brought the eastern Europeans quickly faded when they saw the fine print, which was issued by U.S. ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute. The United States, Lute explained, was not going to deploy forces to eastern Europe on a permanent basis. “The tanks are empty, the … vehicles are empty, and will be parked, stored and maintained in training areas across the six Eastern most allies for training purposes,” Lute said. “Then the soldiers, on exercise after exercise, will be flown in.” One doubts that the Latvians will feel secure, or the Russians will feel deterred, by empty American vehicles and occasional visits from jet-setting American soldiers.

Many of Obama’s token gestures and half measures are clearly intended to keep simmering crises from boiling over until Obama leaves office. Administration spokesmen have repeatedly said that defeating ISIS will be a “multiyear” effort. The diluted U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is scheduled to last until the end of Obama’s term. Most of the fallout from Obama’s bad Iran deal will not hit ground until someone else occupies the White House. Obama and his proxies will no doubt craft stories explaining how his successor’s errors undid all of his foreign policy masterstrokes.

The President’s tokenism also serves one of the few national security objectives that Obama has pursued with any consistency, the diminution of American military power. The White House ramped up drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen as a means of diverting the American people’s attention and showing that the United States could still do damage to terrorists without large military forces. While boasting about the number of people killed by drones, Obama quietly forced through drastic reductions in the armed services and withdrew American forces from critical regions. The drone strikes, in actuality, succeeded mainly in killing low-level fighters and antagonizing the Pakistani and Yemeni governments to the point that the United States eventually had to discontinue most strikes.

If one believes that Obama’s foreign policy should be driven by mitigation of immediate crises, particularly those that might detract from perceived domestic achievements such as Obamacare and environmental regulation, then there may be cause for optimism about the next year and a half. If, on the other hand, one believes that Obama’s foreign policy should be driven by protection of America’s enduring national security interests, then there is cause only for worry. Obama’s remaining months in office will give America’s enemies time and space to accumulate strength. The continuance of passivity and tokenism may even invite audacious provocations from enemies seeking to steal more sheep before a more vigilant shepherd comes along.

Obama to Pentagon: We can’t defeat ISIS w/guns

July 7, 2015

Obama to Pentagon: We can’t defeat ISIS w/guns, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, July 6, 2015

jihadi-john_3051871b

How can we possibly stop this man with a mere gun?

The Failure-in-Chief would like to remind all the people at the Pentagon that what they’re doing is hopeless because guns don’t work. Guns are bad. We all know the idea that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun is crazy NRA propaganda.

We can’t win wars with guns either. Remember how we tried and failed to defeat the Nazis with guns, and the war didn’t stop until we appeased them? No war in history has ever been won with guns. Why should this one be any different.

On Monday afternoon, President Obama spoke at the Pentagon about the Islamic State, or ISIS, a terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq.

Obama stressed all elements of American power were going toward fighting the organization. “Altogether, ISIL has lost over a quarter of the populated areas it had seized in Iraq,” the President said, using an alternative name for the terrorist group. “ISIL’s strategic weaknesses are real.”

Obama said the terrorist organization is doing their best to recruit from “Muslim communities around the world.”

“In order for us to defeat terrorist groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda, we must discredit their ideology. This broader challenge of countering violent extremism,” Obama said. “Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas. We will never be at war with Islam,” Obama added, stressing that ISIS distorts Islam.

To summarize, we’re defeating ISIS, it has strategic weaknesses, but we can’t possibly defeat it with icky guns. Instead we must make more hashtags. Foreign Policy really suggested that gay marriage can defeat ISIS. That’s a plan alright.

How much territory has ISIS lost due to hashtags? Not so much as an inch. ISIS is winning the war of ideas among Muslims. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be defeated militarily.

When the USSR cut a deal with Hitler, their useful idiots in America began claiming that Nazism was an “ism” and couldn’t be defeated by force. Then when their German boyfriend stabbed Uncle Joe in the back, they began shrilly demanding the use of force. And once America won the war, they spent the rest of the time claiming that Uncle Joe Stalin really won the war.

Nazism couldn’t be defeated with guns back when the Germans were massacring Jews and helping the USSR carve up its own piece of Eastern Europe. But when the Huns showed up in the homeland of Socialism, suddenly they discovered that guns worked really well on Nazis.

Somehow, I suspect that if ISIS were pounding targets that Obama really cared about and beheading people he cared about, suddenly all those bombing raids would involve actually striking ISIS no matter where they are and without worrying about the collateral damage.

All those many branches of the Federal government have their own SWAT teams because clearly liberals believe that enemies of the EPA or the FDA can be defeated with guns. They just don’t believe that ideologies like ISIS, which after all don’t really want a Caliphate, but are upset about our foreign policy, can be defeated with guns.

And that says it all.

Survey and Feedback Regarding Mr. Netanyahu’s Address to Congress

March 4, 2015

(Tell us what’s on your mind. How about a little poll first. Feel free to add comments and tell us what you expected from Bibi’s speech and why. – LS)

Should Republicans Authorize Obama’s ‘Force’ Against ISIS?

February 18, 2015

Should Republicans Authorize Obama’s ‘Force’ Against ISIS? PJ Media Trifecta via You Tube, February 18, 2015

 

The Strategic Implications of Iran’s STD Epidemic

February 1, 2015

The Strategic Implications of Iran’s STD Epidemic, David P. Goldman, via Asia Times online, January 30, 2016

925

We know how this will end: Iran’s economy will be crushed under an avalanche of elderly dependents a generation from now. What we do not know is what will happen en route to the end. The sad task of Iran’s neighbors is to manage its inevitable decline and prevent its own sense of national tragedy from turning into tragedies for other peoples as well. Iran’s position is without precedent among the nations of the world. It knows as a matter of arithmetic that it has no future. Its leadership feels that it has nothing to lose in strategic adventures, which means that the rest of the world should take no chances with Iran.

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In the 5th Century BC, the “Persian disease” noted by Hippocrates probably was bubonic plague; in 8th-century Japan, it meant the measles. Today it well might mean chlamydia. Standout levels of infertility among Iranian couples, a major cause of the country’s falling birth rate, coincide with epidemic levels of sexually transmitted disease. Both reflect deep-seated social pathologies. Iran has become a country radically different from the vision of its theocratic rulers, with prevailing social pathologies quite at odds with the self-image of radical Islam.

Iran’s fertility decline from about seven children per female in 1979 to just 1.6 in 2012 remains a conundrum to demographers. Never before in recorded history has the birth rate of a big country fallen so fast and so far. Iran’s population is aging faster than that of any other country in the world. In 2050, 30% of its people will be over 60, the same ratio as in the United States but with a tenth of America’s per capita GDP. I see no way to avoid a social catastrophe unique in human experience. Since I first drew attention to Iran’s demographic implosion a decade ago, I have heard not one suggestion as to how Iran might avert this disaster, despite some belated efforts to raise the birth rate.

Iran was the first Muslim country to achieve mass literacy, thanks in large part to the Shah’s Literacy Corps of the 1970s. Muslim total fertility rates correlate closely with female literacy rates: As soon as Muslim women have the means to make their own decisions, they reject traditional society and the fertility behavior associated with it.

But another factor is at work. Iran has the highest incidence of lifetime infertility of any country in the world, estimated at between 22% and 25% in separate Iranian government surveys. Roughly a quarter of Iranian couples, that is, are unable to bear children.

By comparison, lifetime infertility ranges from 11% in Europe and 15% in India. The Iranian data are more extensive than in most other countries because Iran’s government has devoted enormous resources to finding explanations and remedies for its uniquely high infertility rate.

The lifetime infertility in selected countries: Iran (year of survey 2004-2005) 24.9%; Australia(1991-1993) 18.4%; Denmark (1995) 15.7%; Indian Kashmir (1997) 15.1%; UK (1988) 14.1%; France (1988) 12.2%; Europe (1991-1993) 11.3%; Norway (1985-1995) 6.6%.

One explanation for Iran’s strikingly infertility rate is the high level of consanguineous (cousin) marriages, that is, inbreeding. Azadeh Noaveni writes:

Iran, like other Middle Eastern countries, has an extremely high infertility rate. More than 20 percent of Iranian couples cannot conceive, according to a study conducted by one of the country’s leading fertility clinics, compared with the global rate of between 8 and 12 percent. Experts believe this is due to the prevalence of consanguineous marriages, or those between cousins. Male infertility is “the hidden story of the Middle East,” says Marcia Inhorn, a Yale University medical anthropologist and a specialist on assisted reproduction in the region.

This surmise probably is wrong. Iran’s rate of cousin marriage is about 25%, lower than most of the Middle East. We do not have permanent infertility data for most Middle Eastern countries, but the fertility rate in neighboring Iraq (at four children per female) is more than double that of Iran. In fact, the proportion of cousin marriages is inversely correlated with fertility, because women in the sort of traditional society that fosters cousin marriage tend to bear more children.

A more probable cause of Iran’s extremely high rate of infertility according to reports made by STD Aware, is sexually transmitted disease, particularly chlamydia, the most common bacterial STD and one likely to go undetected in countries with poor public health systems. This may seem incongruous, for the Islamic Republic of Iran represents itself as the guardian of social standards against Western decadence. Nonetheless, the government’s own data strongly support this inference.

A 2013 paper by a team of Iranian researchers, “Effects of Chlamydia trachomatis Infection on Fertility: A Case Control Study,” observes:

The molecular prevalence of C. trachomatis was 12.6% in woman in Tehran, the capital of Iran, and in another study it was 21.25% in women attending Shahid Beheshti Hospital in Isfahan, Iran. Considering the different prevalence rates of C. trachomatis infection in Iran, it is vitally essential to assess the impact of C. trachomatis on the reproductive health of women.

By contrast, the US Center for Disease Control reports a rate of 643 cases per 100,000 American women, or an infection rate of only 0.6%. Among sexually active females aged 14-19 years, the American population segment most at risk, the infection rate was 6.8%. Globally, the chlamydia infection rate was 4.3% in 2008, according to the World Health Organization.

Iran appears to have the world’s highest rate of lifetime infertility because it also has the world’s highest rate of STD infections. This is a tentative conclusion, to be sure, because Iran’s fairly primitive public health system has produced only fragmentary evidence about STD infection rates. It is nonetheless convincing.

Iranian authorities have made dire warnings about epidemic rates of STD infection. As Muftah.org reported in late 2013:

On World AIDS Day (December 1st), Iran’s Health Minister Hassan Hashemi, announced that Iran is facing a dramatic increase in HIV diagnoses. Speaking at an AIDS-awareness conference at the Ministry of Health, Hashemi noted that over the past eleven years, AIDS cases have increased nine-fold. He further warned that the lack of sexual education and persistent social taboos surrounding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in Iranian society were factors in this alarming trend.

Just weeks later on December 18th, news about increases in Iran’s STD infection rates again made national headlines. Mostafa Aqlyma, the President of the Association of Social Workers told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) that the country was experiencing an outbreak of genital warts and that “nearly one million people have been affected” by the virus. Aqlyma described the epidemic as “more dangerous than HIV,” and noted that he had treated almost ten times the number of male patients this year as compared to last.

That is at odds with the Islamic Republic’s image in the West, but it is quite consistent with the complaints of Iranian officials about the widespread increase in casual sexual relationships. Premarital sex is illegal in Iran, but the peculiar Shi’ite institution of Sigha, or temporary marriage, allows Iranians to engage casual sex with official as well as clerical sanction. Iran’s Sharzad news service reported in 2014:

Figures released by the Iranian National Statistics Office indicate that Sigha – temporary partnership – is on the rise, while fewer and fewer people are marrying in the conventional way. According to the deputy justice minister, Sigha rose by 28% in 2012 and by a further 10% in the first half of this year. Sociologist Mustafa Aghlima told the ISNA news agency: “The increase in Sigha at the cost of fewer proper marriages means the collapse of family life and its cultural values.”

I have been unable to find statistics on the total number of Sigha liaisons in Iran, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they are very common. The Azerbaijani website Trend reports:

Some 84.5 percent of Iranians aged 18 to 29 years are in favor of temporary marriage, Iranian Sharghnewspaper reported citing Iran’s Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry’s study. According to the study which has conducted tests among 3,000 young people of Iran’s 14 cities, about 62.9 percent of Iranian youth avoid temporary marriage due to fear of bad reputation. During the last several years, number of websites which offer temporary marriage services to Iranians has increased.

926Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once said that Iranian women who decline to bear children are guilty of “genocide” against their nation.

The survey seems to conclude that the vast majority of young Iranians the support the idea of temporary marriage and can arrange one online, while 63% decline to do so – which suggests that 37% do.

Prostitution also is quite common in Iran, although I have been unable to find an official estimate later than a 1994 International Labor Organization estimate of 300,000 working prostitutes. Estimates vary widely, but the Iranian authorities acknowledge that it is a serious social problem.

Iran’s leaders are well aware of the consequences of the sudden aging of its population; former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iranian women who decline to bear children were guilty of “genocide” against their country:

‘Two children’ is a formula for the extinction of a nation, not the survival of a nation … The most recent data showing that there are only 18 children for every 10 Iranian couples should raise an alarm among the present generation … This is what is wrong with the West. Negative population growth will cause the extinction of our identity and culture. The fact that we have accepted this places us on the wrong path. To want to consume more rather than having children is an act of genocide.

Iran promotes In Vitrio Fertilization (IVF) as a solution to infertility, as Ms Moaveni reported at Foreign Policy:

Women chat openly about IVF on state television, couples recommend specialists and trade stories on Internet message boards, and practitioners have begun pushing insurance companies to cover treatment. And the state runs subsidized clinics, so the cost for treatment is lower than almost anywhere else in the world: A full course of IVF, including drugs, runs the equivalent of just $1,500.

IVF is a godsend for couples who wish to have children but cannot conceive otherwise, but it is unlikely to have much of an impact on Iran’s overall numbers.

Directly or indirectly, Iran’s childlessness stems from a deep and intractable national anomie, a loss of personal sense of purpose in a country whose theocratic elite has no more support at the grass roots than did the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

We know how this will end: Iran’s economy will be crushed under an avalanche of elderly dependents a generation from now. What we do not know is what will happen en route to the end. The sad task of Iran’s neighbors is to manage its inevitable decline and prevent its own sense of national tragedy from turning into tragedies for other peoples as well. Iran’s position is without precedent among the nations of the world. It knows as a matter of arithmetic that it has no future. Its leadership feels that it has nothing to lose in strategic adventures, which means that the rest of the world should take no chances with Iran.