Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Iranian Dilemma

The likelihood of war happening as soon as this year only increases when you reduce the consequences for a county with the current kind of leadership that Iran has. The weak opposition by the West to Iran going nuclear has strengthened the danger of war with Iran. Friends of Iran, including nations like Russia, should be thinking tough love, not codependency, at a time in history like this.

Ahmadinejad’s ploy is currently working. How do you keep both the American military and your political competition at bay at the same time? Shell game tactics. Just as he was coming under pressure from moderates in his own government, this change of rhetoric from the White House is taken as a breath of fresh air, and more. As the Iranian leader values his stated declarations almost as much as actually following through on his threats, he views the White House disclosure to be a major victory of his regime against the "Great Satan". Moderates in Iran are silenced while extremists are strengthened, because it was only through Ahmadinejad's diligence in harsh language against the West that this "victory" was won. This strengthens his grasp on power, and serves to legitimize radical policies in the future.

Israeli intelligence has not relented from its view of danger from Iran. As they have more at stake than we do, they have less room for error, and therefore their press releases on this issue may be more on target than the USA's. The more isolated the Israelis are made to feel by the West, against an enemy more powerful than Saddam Hussein at the height of his power, the less likely they will be able to avoid personal involvement in a conflict with Iran.

I only oppose Iran going nuclear with their current regime in power, but with a Shah-like regime, only with more democratic institutional guarantees, I would support their pursuit of nuclear power. But with Iran's currently leadership, it not a question of recommending war, it a matter of finding a way to avoid it, otherwise it will happen, and it will happen soon. Pressure needs to come especially from Iran's friends. Perhaps the West can work out with Moscow a way to finance a freeze of Russian labor for Iran, without damaging the Russian economy. But as long as Iran can sit back while Russia does the work for it, this does not seem to be heading for a peaceful resolution.

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