Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Sane Iran Policy

Jacob Weisberg (with an assist from Ken Pollack) breaks down the US strategic policy towards Iran. Weisberg notes that our aggressive saber-rattling will have the same effect in Iran as it has had in so many other places around the globe: to entrench the very regime we hoped to unseat.
Such belligerence seems unlikely to produce the result we desire for a variety of reasons. For one, our bluster is essentially empty. The United States lacks plausible military options for taking out Iran's nuclear program and dealing with the potential reaction, especially now that we are bogged down in Iraq. It is also proving extremely difficult to get the rest of the world to go along with the kind of comprehensive sanctions that would bite. Meanwhile, America's hostility is supplying Ahmadinejad with an external demon for his propaganda and helping him cover over his domestic failures. This American push for futile sanctions follows a familiar pattern, extending from Cuba to Burma to North Korea to pre-invasion Iraq—places where economic isolation and threats have fueled not regime change but regime stabilization.

On the other hand, it is difficult for the US to support human rights and democracy advocates, because a) they tend to say a lot of bad things about us and b) the Bush administration is too toxic for any Iranians to want to be associated with it:
The president, who has managed to make democracy a dirty word in many parts of the world, may by now retain only the ability to taint liberal heroes with guilt by association. Last summer, Iran's other leading dissident, Akbar Ganji, declined to meet White House officials when visiting Washington, saying—with reference to both Iraq and Iran—that "you cannot bring democracy to a country by attacking it."
Weisberg believes that, if the US let him, Mohamed ElBaradei could pour cold water on the situation and maneuver the parties to a negotiating table, where the US could simultaneously make progress on the nuclear weapons issue and undercut Amedinejad domestically. It's worth a shot...

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Good for people to know.