Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Iran's Revolution

LATimes article by Niall Ferguson.

The article goes about discussing how the Iranian Revolution is unlikely to be slowing in any manner, no matter what the west hopes.
People in the English-speaking world never give up hoping that the revolutionaries will suddenly see the advantages of peace, the rule of law and representative government. That may be because they think their own revolutions -— the English Revolution of the 1640s and the American Revolution of the 1770s -— followed that pattern. Yet there was no more bellicose British government than Cromwell's. And the United States was scarcely a peaceful power as it expanded from sea to shining sea in the century after independence.

So it was pure fantasy to imagine that the Islamic Republic of Iran, founded in revolutionary year 1979, was just about to mutate into a friendly democracy. Yet people did. "In Iran," President Bush declared in a speech in November 2003, "the demand for democracy is strong and broad." Dream on. Far from being on the brink of democracy, Iran is now on the brink of becoming the single biggest threat to democracy in the world.

Last Monday, the Iranian government flatly rejected a European package of political and economic incentives to halt its covert nuclear weapons program. With a defiant flourish, the Iranians reopened their uranium-conversion plant at Isfahan. The Iranians say their aim is merely to become a "nuclear fuel producer and supplier within a decade." Given that they are among the biggest oil producers in the world, this rush toward nuclear power is a mite suspicious. It's certainly not motivated by a desire to combat global warming.
He doesn't really discuss the religious aspects or influences of the revolution, which I believe will make the revolutionary mindset even more sustainable.
To be sure, Ahmadinejad's victory was not achieved without irregularities. On the other hand, it's hard to pretend that his victory over the favorite, Hashemi Rafsanjani, was wholly rigged. Rafsanjani was the candidate backed by all the grand ayatollahs of the holy city of Qom as well as the Society of Combatant Clergy. Yet Ahmadinejad routed him by 17 million votes to 10 million.
This misses a point. The elections had Ahmadinejad as the opponent of Rafasnjani, but in order to be considered for the ballot both had to have the support of the ayatollahs in some measure. That fact alone should provide sufficient suspicion that the irregularities were so minor as to be fairly easily ignored.

Ferguson also neglects to discuss the resistance to all measures toward moderation in Iran. The vast majority of the west wants Iran to forego nuclear technology and are using all means to stop it, but the overwhelming force the west wishes to apply merely allows Iran to view itself as the underdog and firmly plant its feet. There is nothing like the opinion that you are being repressed to make one fight. In a country with the level of news and information control that exists in Iran, you can be certain that there is little there to dissuade them from that view.

1 comment:

Granted said...

Yet there have been protests and rumors of protests in the country. They were a westernized country, think Turkey, once upon a time. Some of that knowledge & understanding of the attraction of the western way of life must be in there. If it is, like the Soviet Union, it may take 70 years, but it will fall. It'll be a rough 70 years though, because, at the end of the day, we have a lot more in common with the average Russian than we do with the average Iranian. Those differences are going to make detente & MAD more difficult to create & maintian.