January 7, 2010

THERE ARE PLENTY OF REASONS TO CHANGE THE REGIME, BUT THIS ONE IS EXACTLY BACKWARDS:

These protests should shame the west into a change of policy on Iran: Political change in Tehran is not just a moral matter. It's our best hope of achieving Obama's nuclear objectives (Timothy Garton Ash, 1/06/09, guardian.co.uk)

After seven months of deepening regime crisis, however, America and Europe do need to adjust their policy sets. Since he came to power last January, President Barack Obama has been single-mindedly intent on trying to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. He has adopted a twin-track approach in which the offer of negotiation, without preconditions, is linked to the threat of tighter sanctions if those negotiations do not succeed. In a year, this has got almost nowhere. Meanwhile, the people of Iran have shaken their regime to its foundations. Obama himself has just spoken out to condemn Iran's "iron fist of brutality".

Now, the twin-track approach on the nuclear issue was right a year ago and it is not altogether wrong now. But something big has changed in the meantime. The truth is that the best chance we have of stopping Iran's covert march to the threshold of becoming a nuclear weapons state is a change in the way Iran is governed. What so many Iranians want is a political system that is more open to its own people and to the world; one in which the representative, republican parts of the Islamic Republic's hybrid constitution gain the upper hand.

Such a system would almost certainly produce a government more open to negotiation with the rest of the world, and more likely to abide by the results of such a negotiation than the present one is.


A Reformed Iran isn't just going to be at peace with America but is likely to be an ally, not least because of a shared enemy in Wahabism. One will not that our friends tend to have nukes, for obvious, if often unspoken, reasons. Just as the democratic Jewish state and the Hindu have the bomb, so will the Shi'a.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2010 6:58 AM
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