Monday, December 13, 2004

Iran Watch, Dec. 14th

Here is a round up of some less hawkish options for Iran. Albright and crew argue for allowing Iran to continue civilian nuclear activities. Until there is a different regime in Iran, I think this is a mistake. The current Iranian leadership has made it all too clear that is wants nuclear weapons and that it supports terrorism. I think any nuclear material in their hands would be dangerous. The second article provides excellent background information on the political forces at work in Iran and provides an interesting strategy for dividing theses forces--not sure their approach is enough. The third piece argues that opening Iran economically, similar to the approach in China, is the best way foster change in Iran. In many cases, I think this works, but will it work fast enough in this case?

  • Madeline Albright and seven other foreign ministers weigh in on Iran.
  • Two eminent scholars provide an excellent summary of the political forces at work in on Iran, and how to utilize them:

    The situation calls for a more nuanced policy, one that will complement the fitful negotiations on nuclear policy led by our European allies. The objective should be first to slow down Revolutionary Guards' monopolization of power and, second, to strain their alliance with the religious leadership. A key will be gaining more international support for democracy in Iran, strengthening reformist forces and nongovernmental groups that continue to resist authoritarianism and can drive a wedge between the guards and the mullahs.

    On the other hand, we must get the European countries with extensive commercial ties with Iran to use sticks as well as carrots. They must put pressure on the Revolutionary Guards' considerable business interests in a way that will enlarge fissures between the guards, the clerical elite and the various social groups that are tied to them through patronage.

    Iran may be America's most intractable problem of the post-cold-war era. But in foreign policy it is always easier to deal with a divided opponent than a united one. America and the West must not only recognize the growing political divisions in Iran, but also exploit them.
  • The folks at the excellent blog Chez Nadezhda argue for active engagement with Iran, including free trade via the WTO:

    Today was another missed opportunity: for the 20th year in a row, the U.S. rejected Iran's bid to enter the WTO. The irony, of course, is that the new ideas and rule sets (Westoxification!) that come with WTO accession are what Iran's corrupt, repressive ruling mullahs fear most. They won't be able to handle the rate of rapid social change that will come along.

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