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The short answer is: Pelt Israel with unguided missiles from southern Lebanon. In today’s Spengler essay at Asia Times Online, I evaluate Iran’s susceptibility to cyberwar. The Islamic Republic pirates virtually all its software and almost all of its competent software engineers have emigrated, which suggests that the mullahs do not even have the capacity to distinguish sabotage from mere incompetence.

Iran has so few skilled programmers that it could be that the security services do not have the capacity to distinguish sabotage from incompetence. That may explain why Tehran blames foreign intelligence services for a recent succession of economic reverses, including the near-collapse of the local markets for gold and foreign exchange.

Iran’s economy has teetered towards disaster since early 2008, as I reported at the time (Worst of times for Iran Asia Times Online, June 24, 2008). Official data at the time reported that Iranian households spent 10% more per month than they earned, a rough gauge of the size of the underground economy (smuggled consumer goods, alcohol, opium, prostitution and so forth).

Iranians coped with inflation in the 20% range by fiddling. Tehran’s decision to lift fuel subsidies last month will put poorer households under water, and Iranian authorities have warned of possible riots. A run by foreign-exchange dealers on the Iranian rial reportedly led to street fighting between currency traders and police last week. After refusing to sell dollars to the market, Iranian banks on October 10 flooded the market with foreign currency to break the run.

How much of the country’s economic and financial chaos is due to incompetence and theft, and how much reflects economic sabotage, may never be known, if the Cold War is any guide.

That makes the Lebanese border — which Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit this month — even more of a prospective flashpoint, for Iran likely will go with what it knows it has.

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