An Iranian movie embraced by Hollywood no less, has poignancy for the sort of belligerence Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu are embroiled in...if only they could see what the Screen Actors Guild could. 

It appears Hollywood knows a thing or two about unintended consequences...particularly when Iran is involved.

In awarding Iranian Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation’ the little golden statue for best foreign film, it should have done so with a ‘must watch’ advisory to a couple highly combative politicians – Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Israel’s Netanyahu.


Well because the crux of the desperately intense movie is that while you are playing games or telling even little lies to get what you want, some dreadful things can happen.

The domino effect of ‘events’ quickly spins out of control, and no amount of self-justification – no matter how reasonable your case appears yo you - can undo what has been done. In ’A Separation’ it is a marriage. In real life politics it is Iran-Israel and the rest of us.

Now the chances of Netanyahu sitting down and watching an Iranian movie are probably pretty slim at the best of times (circa never) and currently, zilch.

There’s equally zero chance of Ahmadinejad or his puppeteers watching an Iranian movie produced from a notoriously independent and stroppy fraternity – except of course to identify a few more brilliant actors or directors to throw in prison on trumped up charges.

It’s a pity there’s neither time nor inclination for a theatre date, given the rise and rise of the tensions between the two men whose political futures seem increasingly to hinge on gains from a threatened military strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Netanyahu is facing turmoil from his right wing religious coalition partners, most recently as a consequence of the Supreme Court invalidating the Tal Law which permits ultra-Orthodox to shirk compulsory military service in favour of studying the Torah. These parties may bring down the government in protest so Netanyahu requires a little electability Viagra, seemingly conveniently packaged as an uncompromising capability to assail the ‘existential’ (yawn) threat to Israel.

Ahmadinejad is facing a routing of his support base in next week’s Iranian parliamentary elections given he’s fallen out of favour with rulers higher up the food chain – whomever they may be within the secret politburo that actually calls the shots in Iran. The revenge of the Guardian Council is to vet Ahmadinejad loyalists from the ballot papers, and so the embarrassingly bombastic wannabe-scientist in a white coat needs to keep baiting the evil West to stay relevant domestically.  There are indications that the nuclear programme is generating a good bit of nationalistic fervour, although belligerence and nuclear dreams must eventually lose an ability to satiate bellies, cars, warehouses and other ‘sites’ succumbing to sanctions.

Serendipitously – or not – Netanyahu will be in Washington meeting his reluctant but obligated enabler-in-chief Obama, just two days after the Iranian elections and a week following the IAEA report that Iran has tripled its nuclear fuel output.

The key agenda item is in no doubt. To date the Obama administration is holding fast to its argument that Iran is a long way off nuclear weapons capability even if it WANTS to build a bomb.

Netanyahu’s team seems to be consistently teetering over the we-can’t-wait-any-longer cliff edge, but just can’t jump because the jump would ultimately be in vain.

Perhaps Israel is no more suicidal than Iran. Perhaps Israel is as rational as the America’s top brass have already acknowledged Iran to be. Perhaps that rationality could extend to a realisation that they need to tone down the rhetoric already, because neither is going to take out the other with a nuclear weapon. The deterrence of Mutually Assured Destruction is a movie we have all seen before.

Perhaps the world is tiring of manufactured mushroom-cloud threats and posturing.

Go back to 1985 when George W. Bush told Iran in no uncertain times that “all options are on the table” if diplomacy fails to convince Iran to stop its nuclear ambitions. That’s seven years ago folks. Due to Obama’s continuation of much of W.’s foreign policy, that table is still standing under the strain of its ‘options’ gathering more and more fairy dust – to be polite.  

If Iran does want a bomb, nothing short of nuking the country of 80 million people will actually stop it.

The world may have to learn to live with an Iranian nuke, as it unfortunately does with Pakistan’s, India’s, North Korea’s, Israel’s, and on and on.  It may also just be looking at living with an Iran that needs nuclear capacity for domestic use. Anyone who knows exactly what is going on is just as big a blowhard as the key players in this debacle.

Israelis have unfortunately been wound up to fever pitch, as have the circus escapees who are currently vying for the Republican leadership adding certainty to further petrol on the Persian bonfire when they all trundle along to the annual AIPAC meeting which Netanyahu will also attend while in Washington next week.

So, unless these angry and desperate ‘leaders’ want to trigger wretched unintended consequences as easily as an Iranian film director demonstrates happens when compromise is eschewed,  they need to pull their heads in. Now.

Perhaps they could focus on the real, actual, happening horror that is Syria – a despotic slaughter of civilians that both Iran and Israel should be concerned with - one as a ‘democratic’ neighbour and the other as a fellow Islamic state (although Turkey has already told Iran it is undeserving of such a title).

 Assad will eventually go, no thanks to Iran’s financial and military support and Iran will be deservedly amongst the list of losers.

Equally there will be precious little justification available to account for Israel’s strange silence against Tel Aviv’s history of interfering in Syria’s affairs when it considered Israel under threat.

 It is not as if Israel has to play coy about being a beneficiary of the demise of the Assad-Ahmadinejad axis. Probably everyone will be. Just don’t pretend it is none of your business while you are busy trying to engineer yet more war, with guaranteed unintended consequences in the Middle East.

Comments (2)

by Andrew Geddis on February 29, 2012
Andrew Geddis

@Jane: "Go back to 1985 when George W. Bush told Iran in no uncertain times that “all options are on the table” if diplomacy fails to convince Iran to stop its nuclear ambitions. That’s seven years ago folks."

Maths fail - I think you mean 2005.

by Jane Young on March 01, 2012
Jane Young
You are correct Andrew....2005 is it.....thanks for the math grade!

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