Promiscuity Causes Earthquakes
Can the CIA understand Iran?
12:15 PM, Apr 20, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
A leading Iranian cleric, reports Reuters, is blaming earthquakes on female promiscuity. "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told worshippers in Tehran.
This may sound wacky, but it can teach us a serious lesson. The question it poses is: How well do we understand the thinking of the Iranian leadership on questions small and large? Here are some words of a caution from a CIA study:
The excerpt is from a remarkable article, formerly classified secret and now declassified, about the CIA’s own difficulties in interpreting the motives of the USSR leadership. It was written by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates back in 1973, when he was in the employ of the CIA as a Soviet expert.
Unlike the Soviet Union, Iran is a not a thorough-going totalitarian society. But it does remain a mighty challenge for our intelligence agencies to understand. Change the word Soviet to Iran in the following passage from Gates’s essay, and the difficulty we face becomes readily apparent.
The assumption that the Iranians are “rational” in the way we normally understand that term is open to doubt. If promiscuous women can cause earthquakes, what kinds of human behavior, one wonders, might cause a nuclear bomb to detonate or be detonated?