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Discussion in 'Elections' started by Iranian Monitor, Oct 20, 2004.
I wonder how many righties will sense the irony of this endorsement.
I hope we listen to them because iran is next on the hit list if we do.
So far that's none.
You're asking a lot from them.
They can't control small, unconnected insurgent movements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and somehow think they have enough soldiers or manpower to go after Iran. If a simple carpet-bombing campaign was enough to damage Iran in the slightest, it would have already occured. The reason it hasn't is known to everyone: if the US drops a single bomb on Iranian soil, Iran will launch hundreds of accurate missiles with a 2000 km range, and a fairly large payload, at US troops stationed in every gulf arab country on the map (not to mention the whole of Israel).
Although some sort of a military confrontation down the line cannot be entirely ruled out, that is the least attractive option for the US and Israel in the near to medium term.
What Iran fears most are efforts to impose international sanctions on the country, isolating it diplomatically, while putting pressure on the regime by supporting so-callled dissidents (the kind that have little real popular support in Iran and hence are open to 'foreign assistance') as well as funding separatists groups. This process won't help Iran or Iranians who want to see their country become democratic, as the dynamics that are unleashed by these policies will inevitably hurt democratic forces in Iran. But the purpose of these policies would be to weaken Iran economically -- weaken it enough to make it harder for Iran to fund and finance the programs that could down the line help Iran fully cross the technological, military, and industrial threshold necessary to resist and withstand foreign pressures. In the meantime, the Europeans (prodded by bellicose talk from Washington)hope is that these threats against Iran will themselves cause the regime to tow the line being dictated to it regarding certain issues, including its nuclear program.
As for the military option against Iran, here are the drawbacks that have been pointed out in practically every study on the issue:
First, Iran's nuclear installations are widely dispersed and difficult to destroy in anything less than large scale, sustained, air strikes over weeks akin to the prelude to the ground invasion of Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. The problem is that for the US to embark on that kind of an operation will require months of advance buildups and deployments, giving Iran prior notice of what is about to take place. Iran has a wide range of preemptive options of its own to make that kind of an exercise extremely costly for the US on all fronts.
Those options include making oil shipments through the Persian Gulf prohibitively risky and costly, thereby seeing oil prices hit the roof, all causing major damage to the world economy, including the US economy. The economic repercussions of that are measured in trillions of dollars. Additionally, if Iran sees that a military confrontation is inevitable, it has the power to use its forces to inflict serious damage to US military and naval forces and istallations around the region, while targetting already stretched US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The second problem with the military option is that absent a willingness to do something no one is interested in Washington, i.e. a unleasing a truly costly and unpredictable land invasion of Iran (a country the size of Western European with 70 million people), there is no assurance that these policies will have any effect other than give Iran the pretext to withdraw from the NPT and other international measures currently limiting its nuclear ambitions. In this regard, it is worth noting that Iran's nuclear program is multi-pronged and not reliant on large installations like nuclear reactors that are easiest to take out militarily. Iran has the indigeneous scientific and technological know how to enrich uranium to make a few nuclear weapons using facilities that are easy to hide and difficult to destory without troops on the ground.
There are other considerations that make the actual use of force against Iran quite unappealing. That is why even the most hawkish officials in the US government have never seriously entertained that option against Iran, while these same officials had long lobbied for military invasion of Iraq even before 9/11. Instead, right now, it is a game of 'chicken': the policy is to pressure Iran enough for it to 'blink'. If it doesn't blink, the policy against Iran is the one I outlined above: international sanctions, diplomatic isolation, support for dissident and separatist forces in the country.
So now Al Qaeda AND Iran have endorsed Bush, but it's the GOP talking heads who are making the interview circuit claiming the terrorists want Kerry to win.
Is there any chance of Iran becoming moderate/democratic in the near future?
It should first be noted that this very ideal was realized in a very short-lived manner in 1953. If anyone takes the time to research this period of Iranian history, I guarantee you'll be in for a few surprises as Irony will be the resounding common theme. Secondly, it should be noted that Iranians, on a socio-cultural level, are a very secular and "modern" people. Thirdly, a reform movement began years ago with wide popular support where upwards of 90% of Iranians supported fundamental reformist measures being taken regarding the political and economic framework of Iran. Fourthly, the efforts of the individuals who spearheaded the movement were largely undermined by the rhetoric spewing forth from the White House. The Americans, through some very mis-calculated threats, gave the hardliners support and momentum by providing them a rallying-cry: nationalism in the face of a foreign threat. If change occurs in Iran (it's inevitable), it will only be the result of domestic banter. Iranians put internal dissent and politics aside when it comes to defending their country against foreign aggression.
I think we should at least make a half-assed effort at becoming more moderate/democratic at home before pointing the finger at others.
Not long ago, that was seen as almost inevitable: the reform movement had wide spread support and finding enroads in various institutions in the Iranian government. Although winning that battle would have required a lot of patience, and would have entailed some reversals as opponents of democratization in Iran are powerful and had a virtual monopoly over the coercive arms of the government (judiciary, military, etc), the ultimate outlook favored that process.
Then came Bush administration's policy on Iran, which saw the reformists as even more problematic for the neocon vision of the world than the hardliners! The calculation on Iran was that Khatami should be marginalized and stripped of his legitimacy, because on the issues of concern to the neocons (i.e, Iran's nuclear program, as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict) the reformists weren't much different than the hardliners. (Nevermind that by all polls, the nuclear program in Iran has wide popular support, with 70% of Iranians favoring Iran even becoming a nuclear power).
Bushs 'axis of evil' speech, talk in neocon circles about "regime change" in Iran, the Iraqi adventure -- all along with a US policy aimed to marginalize Khatami while feeding radical demands and forces -- helped alter and change the political map in Iran to favor the hardliners!
Basically, the more secular, westernized supporters of reformers were told to stay away from Khatami and the reformists in government as those were painted as either totally ineffective or in actual collusion with the hardliners. That meant the secular, westernized, middle class supporters of the reformists in Tehran and other large cities largely dropped out of the political equation. The rest of the population divided itself as follows:
*The portion of the 30% bloc of voters that had voted for conservatives and hardliners in the 1997 and 2000 elections, which had been reduced to 10% by Khatami's second term, all went back to the conservatives.
*Additionally, another 10-20% of the electorate were also sufficiently alarmed by talks about foreign invasion and the like to also become de facto regime supporters. As a result, since then, all the opponents of the conservatives and hardliners have been basically on the losing side of things, while many have simply decided to postpone the fight for another day when the foreign threats subside.
In the meantime, even with the reformers in the running, the hardliners had fully defeated them in the last city council elections. And, later, they disqualified most of the reformists candidates without a whimper from Iranians who had become disillusioned and apathetic, or otherwise alarmed by foreign threats, allowing the hardliners to take over the parliament as well. The president has since become a lame duck with even less influence, with everyone waiting to see who the conservatives will annoint for president in 2005?
A lot of ground that was already won by proponents of democraticization, has to be retaken after the mess created by the US/Bush administration subsides. And then we might again have some hope of Iran going done the road of real democratization.