January 8, 2012

HE'S NO WORSE AT UNDERSTANDING US THAN WE THEM, BUT...:

Supreme Loser: Why Iran's ayatollah-in-chief always gets it wrong. (ALI VAEZ | JANUARY 3, 2012, Foreign Policy)

At its onset, nearly a decade ago, the firestorm over Iran's atomic ambitions was a blessing in disguise for the supreme leader. For the first time since the Iran-Iraq War, the regime had an issue that could potentially revitalize its exhausted esprit de corps, rally the nation around the flag, bolster Iran's clout across the Islamic world, and fracture the hostile international coalition.

At first, the shock and awe of Saddam Hussein's 2003 overthrow in Iraq compelled the conservative ayatollah to opt for compromise over conflict. When negotiations with the Europeans failed to win U.S. support, however, Khamenei concluded that "nuclear diplomacy" was little more than regime change in disguise.

The turbaned helmsman laid out his nuclear calculus in a meeting of Iran's Supreme National Security Council in 2004. Contending that the United States and its allies were unwilling to find a modus vivendi with the Iranian theocracy, Khamenei maintained that nuclear capitulation would only invite more pressure on human rights issues, sponsorship of terrorism, and regional subversion.

The nuclear nonproliferation regime also appeared innately unjust, particularly given Israel's atomic ambiguity. The regime's ideological foundations, based on warmed-over Third Worldism and Islamic universalism, also called for resistance. Thus, strategic considerations were melded with ideology to transform the nuclear program into the apotheosis of Iran's revolutionary defiance.

Initially, Khamenei's nuclear brinkmanship seemed to have worked. But even a successful policy requires constant recalibration -- a skill that the stubborn, geriatric leader lacks.


...he's also terrible at understanding his own electorate, which is how he got stuck with Ahmedinejad in the first place.

Posted by at January 8, 2012 8:00 AM
  

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