Friday, September 18, 2009

Meanwhile, in Iran...

Having written what I did yesterday about the possibility of an undeterrable nuclear Iran, the ongoing demonstrations in Tehran give one some hope to the contrary. Michael Ledeen blogs:

Ahmadinejad drools on about the "myth of the Holocaust," while hundreds of thousands of people march, chanting that they will only risk their lives for their own country, not in a crusade against the Jews.

Still, the prospect of revolution in Iran leaves me with at best mixed feelings. Revolutions are tricky things to get right: they usually leave the country no better off. The most common story is that a popular, hopeful uprising ousts one strongman, whose followers wage civil war for a number of years. The period of internal upheaval is followed by the rise of a new strongman. It is often impossible to predict who that new ruler will be. This is not to mention the tremendous suffering that inevitably takes place in the meantime.

In addition, even the best outcome in Iran - a peaceful coup in which Mousavi, or someone like him, became President while Khamenei voluntarily reduced his influence - would be only a modest foreign policy success for the U.S. Mousavi is still committed to Iran nuclear development, so we would still be faced with a new nuclear power threatening Middle Eastern oil. At best, we might hope for a sort of more-stable Pakistan, with a fairly rational central government controlling the nukes, and a substantial Islamofascist, terrorist-supporting faction trying to wrest back control. I suppose that's better than having that faction in control from the get-go, but not by a lot.

Iran won't be like Switzerland anytime soon, that's for sure.

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