March 6, 2010

GLOBALIZATION AND DEMOGRAPHY TRUMP TWELVERISM:

An Expert's Long View on Ira (GERALD F. SEIB, 3/05/10, WSJ)

In an interview, Mr. Brzezinski lays out his formula. Try to stop Iran's nuclear program, and make Tehran pay a price if it keeps pursuing it, but don't count too much on sanctions; offer a robust American defense umbrella to protect friends in the region if Iran crosses the nuclear threshold; give rhetorical support to Iran's opposition while accepting America's limited ability to help it; eschew thought of a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities; and keep talking to Tehran.

Above all: Play the long game, because time, demographics and generational change aren't on the side of the current regime.

"This is a country with a growing urban middle class, a country with fairly high access to higher education, a country where women play a great role in the professions," he says. "So it is a country which I think, basically, objectively is capable of moving the way Turkey has moved." That is, it can evolve into a country where Islam and modernity co-exist, even if somewhat uncomfortably. [...]

Today, Mr. Brzezinski sees two American goals in Iran: "One is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, assuming that is its objective, and to neutralize its strategic political significance if it does. The second goal is to facilitate, carefully and cautiously, the political evolution in Iran toward a more acceptable regional role." As he notes, those two goals—stopping Iran's nuclear program while coaxing it into more responsible behavior—can conflict.


The specific policies here matter less than the tone that the president--any president should adopt: Iran's evolution into a normal liberal democracy and American ally is inevitable irrespective of any zigs and zags along the way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 6, 2010 11:45 AM
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