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Santorum: Iran’s Scary Shi’ite Theology Warrants U.S. Attack

 
 
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SALEM, N.H. -- Rick Santorum likes to talk. At a Monday town-hall meeting sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce at an Elks Lodge, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania is on a roll, pounding his economic message before voters who may pull a lever for him today that could, if fate is very kind, set him on the path to becoming the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

Best known as an anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-contraception culture warrior, what Santorum wants the crowd of maybe 100 voters (not counting the nearly as many high school students from Massachusetts who were here on a class trip) to remember about him in the voting booth is that he is the man with the plan to revive American manufacturing through energy deregulation. He talks and talks about his plan. He's on-message, even if he's boring his audience to tears.

But what really gets him riffing is Iran, a country Santorum is itching to drop a few bombs on. Santorum takes nearly 10 minutes to finish and answer to a audience member's question about whether, as president, he would order a strike against the Persian country. Bottom line: If Iran fails to dismantle its nuclear facility in Qom by a deadline set by the United States, Santorum would "take it out," without taking the time to declare war first. "Let me first say that Iran's already declared war against us," Santorum asserted. "They have since 1979."

Rick Santorum and wife, Karen, talk to reporters outside the Salem, N.H., Elks Lodge on Monday. Photo by A.M. Stan

 

But it's not just any country's potential possession of a nuclear weapon that concerns him: Iran is special. Iran is Shi'ite, which in Santorum's eyes, is an even scarier kind of Islam than the garden variety.

It's all about the end-times, you see. According to Santorum, Iran's leaders are seeking to create chaos in the MIddle East in order to facilitate the return of their 12th imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi, "the equivalent of, in some respects, of a Jesus figure," whose reappearance in Qom will usher in a period of peace and justice during which the Shi'a will rule the world.

It is no accident that the Iranians decided to build their nuclear facility in the holy city of Qom (which he pronounced as Kwome), Santorum explained. "[T]here are many who speculate that there are folks over in Iran who wouldn't mind creating a time of great chaos, for religious reasons," Santorum said. "And the fact that they built this nuclear program in this city, next to where this man is supposed to return, leads one to think that there may be more to it, since they could pick any other place in the state, in the country, to do so -- that there may be other reasons than to develop domestic nuclear power."

"And so you have a country that at least its leaders believe -- and its people, by and large, do not -- that this is something that needs to be accomplished," he continued, "which is to fulfill a dream that Shi'a Islam should rule the world. That's their vision...That's why they're at war with the United States."

Lost on Santorum was the irony that his interpretation of Shi'ite end-times beliefs (to which Iran's President Ahmadinijad subscribes, but not the country's religious leaders, according to the Telegraph), finds its perfect analogue in the beliefs of many of Santorum's own followers in the religious right. Sometimes called Christian Zionists, this subset of evangelicals believe that, in order for Jesus to return to the earth, Israel must be restored to its biblical borders, and Armageddon must place before the Messiah's 1,000-year reign over the world in a time of peace and justice. "They believe that war in the Middle East is God's will for the region," writes Victoria Clark in her book, Allies for Armageddon. Some 20 million Americans, Clark writes, subscribe to this view.

To use Santorum's construction, many speculate that Christian Zionist leaders such as Pastor John Hagee and Rev. Pat Robertson oppose any peace process between Israelis and Palestinians because conflict is necessary to hasten their savior's return.

My transcript of Santorum's remarks appears below: 

The question is on Iran and what my policy and whether or not I would declare war on Iran. And he posed the question in a very interesting way because he said, if Iran has a nuclear weapon, that I might declare war on Iran.

Let me first say that Iran's already declared war against us. They have since 1979. And I could go through -- and I won't, in the interest of time, a whole laundry list of things up to and including manufacturing improvised explosive devices, IEDs, that killing our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan, and they've killed hundreds and thousands, and maimed maybe hundreds of thousands, ‘cause I've met a lot of these kids who are hurt by these IEDs, and they're manufactured in Iran. They're distributed out through these terrorist organizations, and they are funding this terrorist organizations, and they are actively engaged in killing our people, and we do nothing about it. Absolutely nothing about it. So, they've been at war with us; let's make no mistake about that.

They're developing a nuclear weapon. Now of course, they say they're not, but they're wrong. It's obvious that they are, from a variety of different things: Iran is one of the richest countries in the world with respect to oil and gas; to have a nuclear capability for energy purposes is silly. There's no legitimate reason for them to be developing a nuclear power plant in one of the richest oil and gas regions in the world. that's number one

Number two -- where they've located the facility. They've located the facility in a little time called Qom [which he pronounced, Kwome]. Qom happens to be a rather significant city in Iran. It's outside of Teheran, and their savior, if you will, from the Shi'a, the Shi'ite -- that's, the ruling class, the ruling government of Iran is Shi'ite, which is a minority among the Muslim world, but is a majority in Iran and in Iraq. But the Shi'ites have one of their holiest sites -- in the Shi'a religion, not as Muslims generally, but as Shi'ites -- is in Qom, because there's a well there called the Jamkaran well -- which is a well where their, they call it the the Mahdi -- the equivalent of, in some respects, of a Jesus figure -- who is gonna come back at the end of times and lead Shi'a Islam in the ruling of the world in peace and justice. That's what their end-of-times scenario is. Well, he comes back at a time of great chaos. And so there are many who speculate that there are folks over in Iran who wouldn't mind creating a time of great chaos, for religious reasons. And the fact that they built this nuclear program in this city, next to where this man is supposed to return, leads one to think that there may be more to it, since they could pick any other place in the state, in the country, to do so -- that there may be other reasons than to develop domestic nuclear power. That's just sort of a background, number one.

Number two, I know that very many [UNINTELLIGIBLE] -- I'm not going to say which -- once a country has nuclear weapons, the country's never been attacked. So, it's not the issue that, well, you would attack if they have a nuclear weapon; the point is, you need to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon. And that's the policy that I've been talking about. Now they are developing technologically toward that objective, and toward a missile that would be able to deliver that payload, but they don't have either, in this case, to date. And the president of the United States, to his credit, has a policy that says, ‘Iran, under my administration, will not get a nuclear weapon.'

But here's the problem: he's not doing anything to make sure that doesn't happen. So whether -- this is a big problem with this president: he says a lot of things, but it's like he's picking U Mass to win the NCAA championship. It's great, and you're for it, but if you're just going to sit back and say, well I'm for it and I hope everything works out. You have a policy and then you pass other policies to effectuate your overall objectives. He's not doing it. He signed in some sanctions, which I appreciate -- it's a step in the right direction -- but there's a lot more that needs to be done to stop Iran now. And I've laid out a multi-point plan that would do so, and it would be, as it should be, starting with basic things like helping fund a pro-democracy movement, sanctions, and other activities, covert activities, to try to disrupt this process, to ultimately saying that if none of this is working, and we are concerned about this happening, that we set a deadline. And if you don't meet that deadline and open up that facility and begin to dismantle it, we're gonna take it out for you.

Declare war? No. But take out, with tactical strikes to take out this facility. Just like the Israelis did to the Syrians; just like the Israelis did to the Iraqis -- take out that capability so they would not develop that weapon. Now, why do we do this? Why does the president, why does almost everybody in the Congress, left and right, with the exception of Ron Paul, say, ‘We can't let Iran get a nuclear weapon'? Because Iran is different than every other country in the history of the world that's got a nuclear weapon. I just talked about their end-of-times ideas. This is a theocracy that believes -- and they teach their people -- that life in this world is not what you live for. You live for the next world. You live to be a martyr. In fact, President Ahmadinijad has repeatedly said the principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran is martyrdom for Allah. And so you have a country that at least its leaders believe -- and its people, by and large, do not -- that this is something that needs to be accomplished, which is to fulfill a dream that Shi'a Islam should rule the world. That's their vision. That's why they have a revolutionary [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. That's why they're at war with the united states.

To give that country, which is already the greatest purveyor of terror in the world, it's already attacked the United States on repeated occasions, to give them a nuclear shield so they can purvey terror more overtly, and not worry about having their government overthrown, because no one will get involved in a nuclear exchange with them, changes every--I mean, you think of the deaths of 9/11 once every 10 or 20 or 30 years, you're talking about something that would be a routine occurrence in this country. It would fundamentally change the national security of our country, your ability to live free, and we can't let that happen. And that's why, I know people say, gosh, we don't need another conflict -- exactly right. That's why we need to take this facility out, because we don't need another conflict.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington correspondent. She also writes for the AFL-CIO Now blog. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/addiestan 

AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at January 10, 2012, 4:19am

 
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