Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Keepin' up the Skeer

Some potentially good news in the NY Times today. Some signs of the pressure is working against Iran.

Just weeks ago, the Iranian government's combative approach toward building a nuclear program produced rare public displays of unity here. Now, while the top leaders remain resolute in their course, cracks are opening both inside and outside the circles of power over the issue. ...
One senior Iranian official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the delicate nature of the issue, said: "I tell you, if what they were doing was working, we would say, 'Good.' " But, he added: "For 27 years after the revolution, America wanted to get Iran to the Security Council and America failed. In less than six months, Ahmadinejad did that."

One month ago, the same official had said with a laugh that those who thought the hard-line approach was a bad choice were staying silent because it appeared to be succeeding. ...

Reformers, whose political clout as a movement vanished after the last election, have also begun to speak out. And people with close ties to the government said high-ranking clerics had begun to give criticism of Iran's position to Ayatollah Khamenei, which the political elite sees as a seismic jolt.


I really hope something comes of this, but I am skeptical. The reformers really have no power and I don't see their influence growing fast enough to reform before Iran gets the bomb. We have heard comforting words and signs of moderation from Iran occasionaly over the last 10 yrs, only to see a quick retreat and dissappointment. One step forward, 3 steps back.

We now have to keep the pressure on Iran. We must be willing to make good on our words that we won't accept Iran with the bomb.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

I've heard strange news that China is exerting pressure on them in an attempt to ensure a stable flow of oil.

10:54 AM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

I think it would be in China's interest to put the pressure on. I also don't think it's in Russia's interest to have a nuclear armed Iran in Central Asia. Doesn't mean they are going to be rational or agree with my analysis of what is in their (China or Russia) best interests.

As I have said, I am extremely skeptical that the pressure is going to change Iran's behavior. I don't think the reform movement is strong enough to have an impact in the next 5 years. If nukes weren't on the table, we could afford to wait the mullahs out and let demographics take over.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I think it would be in China's interest to put the pressure on."

I agree, but, at least in the past, China has seemed to define its self-interest very narrowly (I'm thinking of their refusal to play any real constructive role wrt N. Korea). I think the Chinese, much more so than the relatively few Americans (like Murtha) who see them as soon-to-be enemies, view any problems for the US as long-term opportunities to erode US credibility, and generally act according to that view. It will be interesting to see how their position evolves as they cozy up closer and closer to Venezuela, and Iranian oil becomes less of a factor for them.

"I don't think the reform movement is strong enough to have an impact in the next 5 years."

I wonder if we really have any good intelligence on that. I don't doubt you, but there's always the possibility of a Tienanmen-type uprising. Hopefully the back channels are moving in that direction.

Are you concerned that a US/Israeli attack at this point, when the US has no capacity to occupy the country, might set back the reform movement even further?

1:49 PM  
Blogger Pete Sampras said...

It would be irresponsible for the U.S. to back Israel for an Iranian attack. Whatever U.S. credibility left in the world would be eroded. Do you really see this happening? I'd be very interested to understand your rationale. It's not likely that Congress would back this up anyway, especially now as this being an election year.

If there is a party that overwhelmingly wins the Israeli elections on the 28th, then I could speculate an Israeli preemptive attack on Iran.

4:26 PM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

"Are you concerned that a US/Israeli attack at this point, when the US has no capacity to occupy the country, might set back the reform movement even further?"

Absolutely, it is a big concern that we set back the reform movement. That is one of the biggest downsides of attacking.

However, I am more worried about the Mullahs w/ the bomb in the next couple of years. It's a judgement call about the risk level of the mullahs with the bomb. If you conclude it is not a huge threat, then we can be patient and wait them out.

"...but there's always the possibility of a Tienanmen-type uprising"

This is not an argument I would use if I were against attacking. The governement crushed the protesters, killing thousands, and the we haven't heard a peep from the reform movement in China in the 17 years since.

8:52 AM  

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