July 27, 2006


Why Not Involve Iran in Effort To Establish Order in Mideast? (Abbas Maleki, July 21, 2006, The Forward)

If you look at the performance of Iran's Islamic Republic, it is clear despite all of the difficulties it has faced — the problems, the turmoil and the wars all around Iran — the system has survived. This is not accidental; rather, it shows that the Iranian system has checks and balances — think tanks and consultative bodies, as well as other structures and processes for rational decision-making — that permit the system to achieve optimum results.

If it is true that Iran is a major player in the turbulent areas of the Middle East and in the energy market, then why can we not use the influence of such a country to help establish regional order and solve global crises?

The major global crises the world is facing can be divided into three categories: terrorism, nuclear and energy. [...]

Insurgencies can be classified into two categories. The first is those groups that Iran and the United States agree to be terrorist organizations. These include Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hizb-ul Tahrir in Central Asia, Sepah Sahabeh in Pakistan, and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq. The elimination of terrorism by these groups suits Iran, and so Iran is ready to cooperate in the areas of media relations, social affairs, intelligence and perhaps even military strikes. Iran has vast amounts of intelligence and information on these groups, having monitored their activities and their predecessors's going as far back as several decades.

The second form of insurgencies includes those groups about which the United States and Iran can have a legitimate disagreement over their characterization as terrorist organizations. These include Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

However, even with this category Iran could be a key to moderating their activities, because Iran has some influence over these groups. [...]

Regarding the nuclear issue, Iran is seeking a face-saving resolution that maintains a minimum degree of access to nuclear technology inside Iran. The incentives proposed to Iran by the "5+1 group" — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany — are exactly the sort of things that Iran's economy and industries need. Iran simply wants to see better-defined and better-clarified terms in the incentive offer, something that is not very hard for the other side to provide. Addressing Iran's nuclear concerns can only strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty and ease the way for new steps to be taken together in the global effort against the threats posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear stockpiles.

Finally, regarding the energy issue it should be noted Iran has the second-largest proven oil and gas reserves in the world. There are still vast regions in Iran with oil potential that have not been studied in the past because of political conditions or technology limitations.

Iran's energy capabilities on oil, gas, pipelines, electrical power plants and its access to neighboring countries are unique.

Israel, Iran, and America share a common interest in stable democratic Shi'a states in South Lebanon and Iraq, an independent Palestinian state, and liberalization in places like Syria and Saudi Arabia. The only stumbling blocks to working together are psychological.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 27, 2006 3:55 PM

The Islamic Republic is the enemy, just ask them.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 27, 2006 4:35 PM

Enemies don't have identical ends, as we do.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 4:44 PM

If by psychology you mean their desire to obliterate us, you're right. Unfortunately, those stumbling blocks are the hardest to overcome.

Maleki's categorization of terrorist groups is typically self-serving. It translates to: "There are two kinds of insurgencies: those led by terrorist groups that Iran does not sponsor, and those led by terrorist groups that Iran does sponsor."

oj, I sympathize with your desire to avert the impending nuclear war, but pretending that Iran is an ally and a democracy will not stave it off long.

Posted by: pj at July 27, 2006 4:46 PM

Well, obviously our ends are identical. They want Israel destroyed, we want...what was the first part again?

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 27, 2006 4:51 PM

They don't want Israel destroyed. They just want to learn the Farsi version of Kumbaya. Then peace will reign forevermore.

Posted by: obc at July 27, 2006 4:57 PM

And I'm not sure why we get to decide for the Iranians and the Arabs that Shi'a/Sunni hate trumps Persian/Arab hate.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 27, 2006 6:05 PM

"The only stumbling blocks to working together are psychological."

Said Jodie Foster to John Hinckley, Jr.

Posted by: Just John at July 27, 2006 6:21 PM

"...the Iranian system has checks and balances" such as executing 16 year old raped victims to check their "immorality", letting the rapists go to balance their needs to release their rage against helpless victims.

Posted by: ic at July 27, 2006 6:47 PM


It doesn't. That's why the neocon fever dreams of a Persian empire are so silly.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 7:00 PM

Heck, we all want Israel destroyed. That's how this world ends.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 7:03 PM

The only checks and balances in Iran are based on who has the biggest goons and the best private army. Iran today is about as democratic as Germany was in late 1933. Perhaps they will have their "Night of the Long Knives" before the year is out, and then things will be clearer.

The mullahs, pretty much the whole spectrum, are not our friends. They encourage the deaths of Americans around the globe, and are enabling the deaths of our troops in Iraq today. To say nothing of their complicity in the deaths of numerous Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. The fruits like Ahmadinejad are even worse.

Of course the neo-con dreams are silly - there don't seem to be any 'Persians' of power right now.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 27, 2006 7:38 PM

I hasn't ended all the previous times that Israel was destroyed.

Posted by: Brandon at July 27, 2006 7:39 PM

Were you abducted by aliens? After reading your comments today, I can't come up with another expalnation.

How in the world do you think we can 'dialogue" with Iran. They're controlled by Islamic Nazis!k

Posted by: MikeB at July 27, 2006 9:22 PM

It's a much more open society than Nazi Germany. Indeed, Ahmedinejad won't be re-elected.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 10:08 PM

Ahmedinejad won't be re-elected

He will if he's counting the votes, or if the Mullahs want him to be. And when you say, Heck, we all want Israel destroyed. That's how this world ends, then you really are allying yourself with Ahmedinejad. He thinks he can imminentize the eschaton, too.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 27, 2006 10:21 PM


We can not immanentize--we're on God's schedule, not ours.

Iran's elections have been free and fair once the candidates are picked. Ahmedinejad only won because reformers boycotted an election they'd have won.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 10:46 PM

The reformers thought they had won in 1997, too.


Posted by: jim hamlen at July 28, 2006 12:35 AM

What identical ends?. They wish to impose their
religion on the rest of the world. Is it your aim too?

Posted by: vm at July 28, 2006 4:47 AM


That's exactly what we do.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 9:58 AM

We cannot, in fact, immenentize, but that doesn't stop people from trying. If we take Ahmedinejad at his word, he wants to set up a situation that will force the 12th Imam to appear.

Your concession on Iranian democracy -- that it's fair once the candidates have been hand-selected by the Mullahcracy -- gives the game away. Further, it's not obviously true. There are a lot of rumors that Ahmedinejad's clique when he was governor of Tehran was in charge of counting enough of the ballots to deliver the result.

Your theory about the Shi'a is that, because of the tenets of Shi'ism and because of their history of oppression, they can easily be led to secular democracy. Ayatollah Sistani provides great evidence in your favor. But Iran has rejected that idea -- and has rejected Sistani -- in favor of a theocracy. In order to bring about a ring of stable Shi'a democracies, we need to show them that the Iranian path must be avoided; that, to coin a phrase, secular democracy is the strong horse and theocracy is the weak horse. Thus, we are Iran's enemy, not its ally.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 11:53 AM

Yes, Ahmedinejad is a nut, which is why he won't be re-elected. All democracies are not alike. Britain had a healthier one when the monarchy could dismiss a government. Iran is trying something similar with clerics, which is unwise and un-Shi'ite and they know it. They'll reform on their own, though it's good policy to push them.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 12:06 PM

Totalitarians (and wannabes) don't reform. Just because the Iranian version has "religion", doesn't make them any different from goons like Honecker or Castro.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 28, 2006 2:08 PM

Of course it's their religion that makes them different and makes Iran not a totalitarian society, hardly even authoritarian.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 2:11 PM

If Iran is not even authoritarian, then why is the general population so submissive? Fluorine?

And why do the various competing factions insist on having their private goon squads? Iran is Germany, circa 1933. However, it has already been messing around overseas for 20+ years.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 29, 2006 2:25 AM