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Author Joel C. Rosenberg has been called a modern-day Nostradamus. His fiction writings have been viewed by many as intriguing, yet eery, as they often highlight major world-wide events months before they actually occur.
Don’t believe me? Consider the author’s track record. In January 2001, Rosenberg began working on his first novel, “The Last Jihad.” The book, which is a fictional account of a U.S. war with Iraq (yes, this preceded the actual war that America launched in that region), describes the highjacking of an airliner in an attack on America.
Then, there was his second novel, “The Last Days,” which starts by recapping the death of Yasser Arafat (and published 13 months before the Palestinian leader perished). Call it coincidence of divine providence, but Rosenberg definitely seems to have a knack for clairvoyance.
Earlier this month, the communications advisor and famed novelist released his seventh work of fiction, “The Tehran Initiative” (additionally, he has two non-fiction books under his belt). In his latest work, Rosenberg creates a story that he hopes will both entertain and educate readers. A description of the action-packed book reads:
“The world is on the brink of disaster and the clock is ticking. Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah—known as ‘the Twelfth Imam’—has just arrived on earth. Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam’s spell, will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second holocaust and the annihilation of Israel.
The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket, and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran’s nuclear warheads before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike.”
Timely, no? Considering ongoing global strife and Iran’s role in stoking the international flamed of instability, Rosenberg appears to be delving into subjects that are pertinent to the current political landscape.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Rosenberg about “The Tehran Initiative” and his motivation for creating such impactful and unique stories. It’s a known fact that Rosenberg has a penchant for exploring End Times theology (a characteristic that works its way into his writings). ”I am intrigued with where we are in human history, especially as a follower of Jesus Christ and as a student of bible prophesy,” he told me.
See, Rosenberg believes that we‘ve already seen some of the Bible’s prophesies come to fruition. “We’ve already seen some of what Ezekiel 36 and 37 promised — the rebirth of Israel and the Jews rebuilding the ancient ruins,” he said. “This has all happened in the last 63 years, which raises the possibility that we’ll see more Bible prophesies in the near future.”
For Rosenberg, novels are a key tool that can help people better imagine what the world would look like if, indeed, these prophesies come to fruition in the coming years. While he says that he‘s not claiming these promised events will happen as he’s writing them, Rosenberg hopes that his written works will get people thinking about the events and possibilities that surround them.
Clearly, he has a firm belief in the Biblical tenets that mainstream Christianity heralds as undeniable truths. For Rosenberg, faith is the motivating force that guides his overall work.
“Faith, to me, is the lens through which I’m watching all these dramatic and tumultuous events — particularly in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. ”The idea that Russia, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Turkey…end up forming an alliance in the last days to surround, isolate and attack Israel — that type of alliance has never existed in more than 2,500 years, but its happening now.”
Even those who may believe that the Bible is nothing more than a book of fables, may be, at the least, intrigued to hear Rosenberg’s thoughts on the days events, especially when considering what’s happening around the globe. Iran is an ongoing problem for the West. Libya’s future is uncertain. And Russia, Sudan and Turkey, some say, are poised to increase their diplomatic relations with Iran.
But it is this first nation — Iran — that Rosenberg sees as a major threat to both the United States and Israel. “The biggest danger we face as americans right now is that Washington will miscalculate with regards to Iran — that Washington will wait to long to neutralize the Iranian threat,” he explained.
I found this comment intriguing. After all, both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been criticized for what some see as a refusal to go after the Iranian government. These critiques, of course, are diverse in gauging where blame should be placed.
Some have said that Bush chose the wrong target in going after Iraq rather than Iran, while others believe that Obama has been too coddling to the radical, Middle Eastern regime. So, I asked Rosenberg what he thinks the Obama administration is doing in its current handling of the situation.
“The Obama administration is miscalculating,” he affirmed. “They are convinced that they can negotiate with and engage the radical mullahs that run Iran. But after three years it’s demonstrably false…Iran has gotten closer to getting the bomb.”
While the author sees this political strategy as problematic, he concedes that it has, at the least, shown that appeasement and soft handling as a diplomatic tool in dealing with Iran, doesn’t work. ”It’s useful to know,” he says. “But some of us knew that three years ago.”
“Evil,” Rosenberg says, is at the center of his work. “The core of my writing – particular ‘The Tehran Initiative’ centers on the fact that misunderstanding the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it,” he said. “We didn’t understand the Japanese threat and we got hit by Pearl Harbor. We misunderstood Hitler and Nazis and we got World War II. We underestimated Osama bin Laden and we got 9/11.”
Thus, misunderstanding Iran and its goals, particularly when it comes to radical religious adherence, is dangerous to both the United States and the world as a whole. Rosenberg explained that the Iranian government — like mainstream Christianity — is driven by an End Times theology. “As an evangelical Christian, I don’t fault anyone for having an end times theology,” he explained.
But, unlike the Christian understanding of the end days, he asserts that Iran’s government is driven by the idea that they need to hasten the second coming of the Twelfth Imam — a messiah of sorts (read more about Shia Islamic eschatology, including this Imam, here). Rosenberg says that Iran‘s leaders believe that annihilating Israel and the United States may help hasten the Imam’s arrival.
“I have described Shia Islamic eschatology as a photographic negative of Christian end times theology – there are a lot of similarities but they are completely opposite,” he explained. “Christians believe that it’s important for people to get saved and then Christ comes back, not murder to achieve the same result. There’s a difference in the value of life and death and good versus evil.”
This threat, he says, may be overlooked by those who don’t embrace a personal faith. “Too many in our secular, modern, western world don’t understand how deeply faith motivates people,” he said. For those who consider themselves religious, it may be difficult to understand how powerful faith can be. If one can’t relate to this important dynamic, it may be tough to fathom how death and destruction might come as the result of an inherent connection to a belief in a religious system.
Considering all of these hefty elements, it’s surprising that Rosenberg would be so wedded to telling his story through fiction. It would seem, when exploring the content and the real-life events, that non-fiction would be a more effective angle. But — he makes a compelling case for story-telling.
“I think that conservatives, generally, and Christians, in particular, sometimes forget the power of story,” Rosenberg said. “Sometimes fiction has a way of capturing peoples’ imagination and drawing them into certain truths that a speech or an op-ed…simply cant create.”
Rosenberg went on to say that Christians have forgotten the power of a story and that it’s something that needs to be recovered. Fiction, he explains, has created an environment in which he can grab peoples’ attention about the threat of radical Islam. It is these theories that helped lead to his latest book, “The Tehran Initiative.”
In describing the book, he says, “I think of it as a war game to create as realistic a geopolitical environment I can. To run a war game exercise to project forward what could happen if an American president badly miscalculates a threat from Iran”
“There’s nothing like taking people inside Iran from the eyes of a CIA operative to suddenly be in the middle of all hell breaking loose,” he explained with excitement.
Rosenberg hopes that the book will leave readers “wildly entertained,” while encouraging them to consider the implications of how horrific a world with a nuclear-equipped Iran would be. Additionally, he hopes that readers will consider which presidential contenders hold the power to keep their families safe. Lastly, he hopes that the book will cause people to consider their own salvation — something that’s deeply important in all of his work.