My mom and a classmate recommended that I listen to Baer speak on NPR. It’s a long interview, but well worth it. Listen here.
He talks mainly about Iran but it has implications in a lot of different areas. A lot of what Baer said challenged what I thought about what’s going on in the Middle East, and I thought I had a good handle on things! Here’s some things that I didn’t know/agree with before he explained it:
Arabs and Persians have transcended their racial differences: Sadr (Mahdi Army in Iraq) and Nasrullah (Hezbollah in Lebanon) under Iranian influence. Iran wants the US to leave completely from Iraq (hence it disagrees with the US leaving bases in Iraq) because it has Maliki in its pocket. Iraq will have to go to Iran for permission to act. In my opinion, this is still contrary to the intentionally false intel that Iran is supporting terror in Iraq — Iran wants stability in Iraq because otherwise war destabilizes Iraq.
Bin Laden is dead. He asks, “Where is he?” Never has anyone disappeared off the face of the map. Bin Laden wouldn’t dye his hair (this is true, he’s very pious). No DVDs recently?
Says Iran is unique in history as a virtual empire: pulling strings with Shi’a in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Says we need a Manhattan Project for alternative energy. (also a term used in the debate) Fuck yes. Argues that Iran will light the Persian Gulf on fire and attack oil infrastructure if provoked.
Says Iran is not looking for war with Israel or the US; it can’t afford it. We should talk to the true leaders in Iran, not Ahmadinejad, to see what they’re serious about doing.
Sunni fundamentalism (such as Salafism) is dangerous and can’t be dealt with. Shi’ite fundamentalism is open to a deal. (true, Salafists refuse any modification to Islam, which blocks reform)
Ahmadinejad is as irrelevant as McCarthy was.
Olmert wants to give up West Bank and east Jerusalem. Iran sees itself as a rising star with a weakened US, no enemy in Iraq, weakened Taliban in Afghanistan.
Iranians are more likely to go up against Saudi than Israel — and if they get nukes, so will Saudi. (could Iran help us broker a deal in the Palestine?)
There’s a theory that Israel might try an attack on Iran, but probably only after the US election with a weakened Bush. But Israel doesn’t really want all-out war, Baer says.