They’re not kidding. Really.

For all the endless discussions in Western media about Iran – will they get bombed today, or more like in the fall? – the issue of ideology is customarily lacking.  Too little effort is expended by writers and pundits on why Tehran does what it does.

Instead we are treated to facile commentary about Ahmadinejad being “crazy” (note to Tehran: drop the weird stand-collar suit thing … it’s creepy, really), and related silliness when you let people like John Bolton near a microphone.

The open collar makes all the difference, I swear.

Similarly, the left has the well-honed habit of explaining that, really, this is all about evil Anglo-American machinations – repeat “Mossadegh” and “coup” enough times and you, too, will be mesmerized – a nice little narrative centered on us that leaves out actual Iranian views.

There’s a fine essay in The American Interest by the Iranian-American journalist Sohrab Ahmari which lucidly explains that Tehran actually has a worldview which is at least internally consistent and which guides pretty much everything the revolutionary regime has done since 1979. This ideology seems naturally quirky to us, but it’s not new and is grounded in an odd mishmash of watered-down Marxism, a generic third worldism that was hot in about 1964, and Shia Islamism. I have no idea whether Ahmadinejad is clinically crazy – I doubt it, but I’m not that kind of doctor – yet it’s clear that he is motivated by this very ideology, which is implacably hostile to the West for myriad reasons. I’ll add that Islamist radicals worldwide were profoundly influenced by the Iranian revolution and all of them, to the present day, reflect aspects of this worldview whether they are Sunni or Shia.

Money quote from Mr. Ahmari:

Permanent enmity against the West, the cornerstone of Khomeini and Shariati’s worldviews, is thus a basic condition of the regime’s existence. When Ahmadinejad claims that the “Imam of the Ages” directs the events of the Arab Spring against the “Satanic” West, he is dead-serious. When he denies the Holocaust, he is not merely expressing frustration with the lack of progress on the peace process; he means business. Yet such rhetoric—not to mention the cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” regularly emanating from Tehran—has become a quotidian fact of life for most Western leaders. We either dismiss it as the inchoate rage of a mysterious land or else try to justify it as a reaction to legitimate postcolonial grievances.

In other words, they’re not getting over it. It’s just like the USSR, ideologically speaking. While the Soviets made compromises here and there – Uncle Joe was famous for this, and damn effective – the regime and the party were Marxist-Leninists to the core, down to the very fall of the system in 1991. Any effort to fundamentally modify the belief system would result not in “reform” (which is Western-speak for “magically becoming like us”) rather the collapse of the whole edifice … as Gorbachev found out.

We should not expect the Iranian revolutionary regime to act like anything but itself, as long as it exists. Which won’t be for long, insha’allah, but may be; after all, they’ve held on for thirty-three years so far and survived losing a million dead in the war with Iraq. It is an ideological regime to its core and – shocking as it may be to us – the leadership really believes this stuff and acts accordingly. Why else would they do nutty-sounding things like try to blow up Arab diplomats in downtown Washington, DC?

It’s time to dispense with wishful thinking that only a few guys in Tehran are “crazy” or the regime will collapse with a bit of PSYOPS, twittering by angry college kids, or a few bombs.

Is it still a “conspiracy theory” when they admit it?

Go, go, go said the bird:

humankind cannot bear very much reality

– T.S. Eliot

I’m beginning to think the wheels may be coming off the whole post-modern Western enterprise. Things which are never supposed to be admitted in polite society are being copped to openly of late.

Anyone who’s worked in espionage knows that conspiracies, in fact, exist because people, in fact, conspire. Intelligence operations are one form of conspiracy. Conspiracies are seldom the prime mover of human events, but those who deny they happen are being, well, conspiratorial themselves, not to mention too clever by half.

That said, it usually does little good to have perpetrators admit that they are, in fact, conspiring against the commonweal since, per T.S. Eliot, human beings are engineered for only so much reality, plus it can frighten the animals.

Which makes the recent torrent of “did he just say that?” moments all the more interesting. Blame the Internet if that works for you.

First, a couple weeks back we had Peter Sutherland, a big Eurocrat mucky-muck who’s currently serving as the UN’s special representative for migration, tell the House of Lords in London that the EU needs to wittingly undermine the homogeneity of its member states to help the greater good – with a hinted-at “or else” in there too. In other words, all the right-wing pariahs, ranging from Geert Wilders over to – gulp – Anders Brievik who’ve been yelling about transnational bureaucrats and bankers trying to “elect a new people” in Western countries through non-white migration have been … what’s the word for it? Correct.

It really helps that Mr. Sutherland, in a straight-from-central-casting moment, has been, among other things, a member of the European Commission, a major domo at Goldman Sachs, director general of the World Trade Organization, chairman of British Petroleum, attorney general of Ireland, plus – you knew this was coming – a player in the Bilderberg Group.

Then, last week a huge scandal broke over LIBOR, the banker term for the London Interbank Offered Rate. Although this has not gotten the attention in the U.S. media which it merits, this is The Big One, the scandal we’ve all be waiting for, since it calls into question the integrity of the entire global banking system – and, by implication, the entire Western financial system since the 1980s. Basically, this was secret collusion on a truly epic scale. LIBOR sets the rates at which banks lend and borrow from each other; we’re talking about $800 trillion in moolah here … and, yes, that was a “t”. When Breitbart, not known to be affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street crowd, calls it possibly “the biggest bank heist in history,” you can bet something big is up. When The Economist, that well known lefty rag, piles on by calling LIBOR the biggest financial scandal in history, it’s hard to say where it will stop. I suspect Mitt Romney might want to pipe down about the glories of financial speculation a la Bain Capital for a while.

Lastly, over the weekend in Der Stuermer The Times of Israel, a commentator helpfully offered, “Jews DO Control the Media,” which cheerfully explains that David Duke, Mel Gibson, and company perhaps had a point after all. I initially suspected that Julius Streicher had come back from the gallows to post this one, yet it turns out that it was authored by Elad Nehorai, who blogs at HuffPo, who initially posted under his own name but went anonymous a tad late. (Mr. Nehorai lacked the courage of the columnist Joel Stein, who in 2008 famously noted, “Jews totally run Hollywood.” ). Note to Mr. Nehorai: I’m not sure the point you’re making really helps.

This is all surpassingly odd. What’s next? The NASA director admitting there really are alien spacecraft out at Area 51? The National Science Foundation boss hosting a presser with Bigfoot? This is not good ….

Your mission, if you choose to accept it …

[premo-gate]Espionage is a mysterious thing by design. Practitioners generally keep quiet, especially if they are old school (per the old MOSSAD curse: “May we read about you in the newspapers!”). Virtually since the dawn of civilization it has been the “hidden hand” behind war and diplomacy. Journalists and screenwriters have filled the knowledge gap, though the efforts are customarily more exciting than accurate.

This blog represents an effort to discuss intelligence not just in a learned and informed way, but in a nuanced one as well. People overly interested in espionage easily forget that spies are seldom the prime movers of major events, and they always operate within a (sometimes stifling) context of bureaucracy and strategy, and of course among mere human beings with agendas and egos.

Counterintelligence is a particular interest of mine for years, and its worldview – based on a nagging sense that much in life is not quite what it seems to be – informs everything you will read here. America, and the West generally, understand counterintelligence poorly, and hardly ever in an intuitive sense; regrettably, many of our enemies have this angle down.

The blog takes its name from the legendary XX Committee of World War II fame. This small, super-secret body, led by Oxford professor John Masterman, created and managed the Double Cross System, the most successful counterintelligence operation in modern times. In the early years of the war, British counterintelligence identified and turned the entire German agent network in Britain – a strategic head-fake which the Germans never detected and which, thanks to excellent big-picture deception, cut months and possibly years off the war for the Allies.

So welcome to the ride … enjoy. Per the old counterspy’s mantra: Admit nothing; deny everything; make counter-accusations.[/premo-gate]