June 29, 2006


Why Iran is taking its time (Sanam Vakil, 6/30/06, Speaking Freely: Asia Times Online)

Clearly, the regime is struggling to assess its options in the wake of the Bush administration's continued pressure over Tehran's two ticking clocks - one nuclear, the other democratic. The nuclear clock epresents international pressures; the democratic clock, internal pressure.

These ticking clocks are important to consider as Iran ponders the nuclear offer, and the administration of US President George W Bush continues to pressure the regime and stimulate the Iranian people with words about democracy and freedom. At the same time, Iran has been subject to a burst of domestic hostility toward the regime from students, ethnic minorities and religious leaders. Undoubtedly, this increase in internal activity has made the regime feel the ticking of its democratic clock. While Washington hopes to stimulate this movement, Tehran aims to re-create a situation that balances its nuclear clock while stalling its democratic one. Understanding the dynamics behind these two clocks is necessary to deconstructing the Iranian decision-making process.

For many months it appeared that Tehran had managed to capture the upper hand in the nuclear balancing act through its divide-and-conquer confrontational strategy with the international community. The breakthrough counter-announcement by the Bush administration tactically tilted the scales of power in favor of Washington and gave Tehran's leaders reason to pause. Now, it is the Islamic Republic that has experienced a reversal of fortune and must carefully weigh its delicate international pressures against its domestic ones.

The ultimate goal for the Islamic Republic is regime preservation. To this end, the mullahs have pursued a two-pronged process: they've tried to keep the nuclear clock running while stalling the democracy clock. This approach worked for the regime throughout the nuclear negotiations until Washington pulled out its trump card. Tehran can no longer use the nuclear issue to buffer against the threat of growing domestic unrest.

Iran is that rare case where the President could achieve more by making love than war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2006 1:24 PM

In the WSJ today (around page 10), there was a short piece announcing that The Revolutionary Guards had signed a deal with some company to develop a couple of natural gas fields. The value was $2.3 billion.

The Guards evidently have incorporated - the name of their firm is Gorb something or other.

After a chuckle or two (as in, could they manage the ports?), I wondered about the parallels with China (or with Imperial Japan). Or Germany prior to WWI (minus the religious flavor, of course). Not friendly analogies, to be sure.

Iran apparently has until next week to respond to the G-8. It looks like Bush's speech to the UN in September may be as important as his speech in 2002. We can 'love' the Iranians, but we are probably going to have to force Khameini to denounce his puppet. Will he do it?

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 29, 2006 2:18 PM