March 28, 2007


The two faces of Tehran: how diplomats and extremists fight for control of foreign policy (Angus McDowall, 29 March 2007, Independent)

Taking advantage of the deep fractures in the Iranian state, the revolutionary guards have created a fait accompli, forcing the government to adopt a position from which it will be hard to back down. Driven by their experiences of the revolution and eight bloody years of war with Iraq, many guardsmen want to see Iran take a more aggressive stance against Britain and America.

The confusion is caused by Iran's unusual political system, which combines democratic elements such as an elected president and parliament with the theocratic rule of a supreme leader. In practice, this means decisions are rarely made by a single person: they are disputed and fought over by a host of political factions and vested interests including religious leaders, elected politicians, wealthy merchants - and soldiers.

Analysts believe the latest confrontation stemmed from a desire to show Britain and America that Iran can hit back despite coming under sanction for its nuclear programme and having military figures arrested in Iraq. Revolutionary guards and their supporters in government have always viewed the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan with the deepest suspicion and accuse America and Britain of fomenting unrest among their own ethnic minorities.

Accuse? We've been bragging about whipping up their minorities.

Iran ahead of the game - for now (Kaveh L Afrasiabi, 3/30/07, Asia Times)

"The US is not escalating tensions with Iran," said a Pentagon spokesperson in reference to the major US naval exercise in Persian Gulf "off the coast of Iran", per the wire reports. That is, a hair stretch beyond Iran's 12-nautical-mile territorial waters.

The Iranians can be excused if they think otherwise - that the purpose of the massive US maneuver at their doorstep, involving two aircraft-carrier task forces and some 10,000 troops, is to send a "strong signal" to them about the price they may have to pay if they persist in defying the will of US power and its allies. This is not to mention a French aircraft carrier making a solidarity appearance in Persian Gulf waters at the same time, thus adding to the overall Western menace with regard to Iran.

No point in picking a fight and then whining when you get punched.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 28, 2007 7:55 PM

It's the Estates General, for pete's sake. I'm waiting for a Robespierre character and the guillotine,(oops, sorry, that was the former 6 month French resident Khomeni with his revolutionary guards and their summary justice). Did they come up with the idea themselves or can we blame French Christianity for their theocratic idiocy?

Posted by: at March 28, 2007 8:26 PM

Wouldn't it be interesting if the Revolutionary Guards became the focus for all American frustration over the WoT? These guys need to start thinking about the American "street". We wouldn't really do anything to the Palestinians, the Iraqis, or even the Saudis, but the nutjobs in Iran could easily be crisped if enough voters thought it would end the war.

Posted by: ratbert at March 28, 2007 9:29 PM

They'd be better off as a theocracy. Mahmoud was democratically elected.

Posted by: oj at March 28, 2007 9:47 PM


The Street is completely unconcerned.

Posted by: oj at March 28, 2007 9:49 PM

unusual political system, which combines democratic elements such as an elected president and parliament with the theocratic rule of a supreme leader.

Yes, very unusual. (Someone here is truly confused, and it's not the Iranian "political" system.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 29, 2007 12:51 AM

Confusion to the enemy: who would have thought it?

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 29, 2007 4:24 AM

"No point in picking a fight and then whining when you get punched."

It is when the ref has been lecturing you for an hour on what you can't do, then ignores your opponent chomping on your ear. There isn't an equality here between the US and Iran.

Posted by: Just John at March 29, 2007 11:34 AM

Of course we aren't equal, imagine our reaction if they shot down a passenger jet or staged a coup here?

Posted by: oj at March 29, 2007 12:33 PM

No one is better off under a theocracy. If God has a sense of humor, what would He find funnier than the pretense of a theocracy?

Posted by: at March 29, 2007 4:10 PM

Democracy. it is, of course, precisely because we amuse God that the best form of government is the most ludicrous.

Posted by: oj at March 29, 2007 7:16 PM

Which is why the founders arranged for neither a Democracy nor a theocracy.

Posted by: at March 31, 2007 8:45 PM