Overlay this with the Jewish state calling for a war against Iran to prevent them getting 'the bomb' (which they've probably already got - but it's aimed at nuclear neighbours like Pakistan and Saudi, not just Israel), and we've completely lost touch with who the hell we're meant to support and who we're meant to fight. It's an Arabic box of poisonous frogs - each more barking mad than the other. The only truth we know for sure is that whatever we decide to do, in the long term it will be the wrong thing to do. The depths of our collective ignorance for dealing with tribal feuds is limitless.
But is there a glimmer of sanity in this Ship of Fools? Lately we have been assailed not only by the intense cruelty of Isis - beheadings and the like - but also by their deranged determination to destroy what their scriptures apparently define as false idols. They are wantonly destroying all art and antiquity in the lands they capture. Lost forever, not only to the locals, but to all humanity. Science and history together with fun and pleasure are all evil according to their distorted, ignorant, archaic and pointless view of how people should behave according to scraps of quotes written by followers of their prophet (not by the man himself - who was illiterate).
Until this week, I used to believe this destructive nihilistic view was shared by all fundamentalist Muslims including Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran - the bloke who tells President Rouhani and his elected cabinet (although not strictly democratically elected since only approved candidates can stand) what to do. Or maybe not. There is meant to be evidence that Khamenei recently issued a fatwa stating that weapons of mass destruction were unislamic. So maybe the hawks are stronger than we think in the cabinet to defy such a fatwa. Or maybe it's more evidence that we might be able to trust Iran... what am I saying!
But maybe Iran is changing - and changing fast. Are the technocrats in the cabinet managing to push back against the 76-year-old holocaust-doubting supreme one? It's a little known fact that Iran's cabinet of ministers now contain more PhDs than Europe, Russia and Japan... combined! And we're talking technologists, not theologians, who graduated from US and British universities. But we might still remain skeptical because their stated aims are to export their 'Islamic Revolution'... and to destroy Israel. Surely they too want to destroy false icons as their holy books purportedly instruct them to do.
It would now seem not to be the case... Last week I noticed these images in a Guardian article about Tehran art:
and even more amazingly, where billboards used to shriek "Death to America" and the like, they now look like this:
Mainly by foreign 'infidel' artists (even Jewish) including Magritte, Picasso and Hockney, 700 billboards throughout Tehran are currently awash with colour, creativity and thought-provoking, exciting art from around the world.
A cynic might suggest that this is all a ruse to fool the West into believing that Iran has changed in order to encourage us to drop sanctions and lower our guns. Maybe Khamenei's fatwa was also part of this 'relax about us' plan. This might well be the case, but the fact remains that their streets and museums are offering these wonderful images openly for all their citizens to enjoy and be inspired (you can only imagine the spluttering of their imams). Surely this is evidence that they can't believe it's wrong to entertain the mind with something other than just their holy nonsense - and to encourage their citizens to do so. Would their god permit them to do this as a trick to fool us whilst contaminating the minds of their own citizens? I doubt it.
I'm stunned by this cultural about turn. The original radical Islamic state not only respecting art and imagination, but proclaiming it to all their citizens! It's enough to make me reconsider their religion... well maybe not.
It would seem the only power in the region strong enough to squash Isis is Iran. Iraq is headless and hopeless. America's $30bn of help is now jingling in the pockets of corrupt Iraqi officials or abandoned in the streets of Ramadi. Saudi funds Isis via Al Qaeda and is busy fucking up Yemen. Syria and Libya are no longer states with anything you can call controllable armies, and Egypt is too busy executing their own Muslims to worry about murdering a few more abroad. So will the US continue to encourage Iran to do their dirty work in the region, and then let them continue to occupy the land they liberate - thereby capturing the Levant they tried to take all those years ago when they fought Saddam? Can they prevent it? Maybe it's inevitable. (BTW. Khamenei did not want to counter-attack Iraq after driving Saddam out of their territory, but the supreme chap at the time, Khomeini (who chucked out the Shah), said 'go for it'.)
So should we be worried? Maybe it's the best of an explosive situation fanned by blinkered and hardening tribal beliefs. Someone has to stop the madmen of Isis. So what if Israel, Pakistan and Saudi aren't happy about it? If Iran really is moderating its attitude towards its 'revolution' and the scientists at the helm can continue to inject reason and light where there used to be only dogma, then perhaps Iran's expansion won't be as appalling as we used to believe. Are Israel, Saudi and Pakistan all moving in the other theocratic direction? Might there come a time when the West's only rational friend in the region is Iran?!
Who kicked Pol Pot's evil Khmer Rouge out of Cambodia? Communist Vietnam - the former enemy of a USA who nearly 'nuked' Hanoi.