Day By Day

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Iran -- Prospects for the Future

Jonah Goldberg, down on the Corner, makes a very pertinent observation regarding Iran's political culture. Reacting to a Time magazine report of a speech at which President Ahmadinejad was heckled by irate students he concludes:

This just isn't that repressive a society. For all the talk of Iran's autocratic tyrants, here you have the president being burned in effigy, interrupted by firecrackers, and condemned to death, all while he's giving a speech. And he does nothing more than "smilie tightly" throughout it! In this country, if an activist exposes an anti-war t-shirt while the president is talking, she gets muscled out of the room. That's not to say Iran doesn't have all sorts of human rights violations of its own, but the attempt to make the country look like some sort of tyrannical, dictatorial regime is just another element of the war propaganda.
Read it here.

Absolutely! For years we have been hearing from analysts on all sides fantasies about Iran. These are based on three indisputable points:

1) Iran's leadership is trying strenuously to establish itself as a regional hegemon.

2) Iranian students are largely disaffected from the regime, but don't pose a real revolutionary threat.

3) Iran has disaffected ethnic minorities that do pose a real revolutionary threat, especially the Kurds.

Opponents of the war have long predicted that extensive protest bubbling under the surface will eventually lead to an overthrow of the Mullahs or dissolution of the multi-ethnic Iranian state. Ain't gonna happen, although the protests will continue, especially in the north!

Proponents of military action point to Iran's pan-Islamist propaganda, anti-Western actions, and development of nuclear weapons, all of which are part of its drive for regional hegemony, as posing a clear and present threat to the West. Ain't so, although Israel certainly has cause to be worried.

Advocates of "soft" power and diplomacy only solutions have argued that increasing Iranian engagement with the West will lead to an acceptable resolution of current issues. Ain't gonna happen! Talk not backed by a realistic prospect of severe economic or military sanctions will prove to be useless. Iran will continue to be a focus of regional tension for a long, long time.

Bush bashers predict that he will lead us into war against Iran. Ain't gonna happen, and everyone knows it!

Regarding the threat to regimes throughout the region -- the most probable outcome is the emergence of a united Sunni front that will rely to a great extent on Western aid, especially guarantees from the United States, much like the coalition that emerged to resist the expansion of Soviet power into Western Europe at the end of WWII. If so, Iranian aggression will actually strengthen, not weaken, US and Western influence in the region.

Iran's actions to quell ethnic unrest have resulted in real human rights abuses that are rightly denounced by the West, but are hardly on the scale of the kinds of atrocities committed by Saddam's regime in Iraq, and look what happened when the US finally moved against that monster.

What does it all add up to? There ain't gonna be a war -- not anytime soon. But there will be continued provocation and tension caused by Iran's expansionist ambitions.

There will be no general Islamist revolution throughout the region, although there will be continued Islamist activity and agitation everywhere, much of it supported by Iran.

Political partisans in the US will continue to milk the situation for political advantage and in the course of doing so will spin ever more absurd fantasies which will be eagerly be broadcast by the press.

There will be no resolution to the Iran problem anytime soon.

Iranian actions and our response to them will have a major impact on the development of West Asia for a long time to come.

Mini cold war anyone?

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