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An interesting note
Posted by: McQ on Friday, March 16, 2007

This little blurb from an Iranian news agency gives you an idea of the level of dissatisfaction with Iran's President Ahmadinejad among some legislators:
An Iranian MP who supports summoning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a discussion on his administration's economic and foreign policy has told the conservative Iranian news agency Aftab that eight more MP signatures are needed.

He said that despite pressure by Ahmadinejad's supporters, he and his colleagues have succeeded in obtaining signatures from 64 MPs.
This in the face of attempts at all levels and during elections to discourage reformist and dissenting candidates from reaching the legislature. Getting the last 8 signatures may be as hard as getting the first 64, but the fact they have 64 at all is a pretty visible sign that Ahmadinejad's confrontational attitude toward the west is not sitting well with everyone. And this last round of sanction talks may well push 8 more into the dissident camp.
 
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Did you see this?

Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2007:
MOSCOW — Russia signaled sharp dissatisfaction Monday with Iran’s defiant stance on nuclear issues, saying the start-up of a Russian-built nuclear reactor will be delayed and warning that Moscow will not join Tehran "in anti-American games."

Atomstroyexport, the state-run company building Iran’s first nuclear power plant, said the supply of fuel to the nearly completed Bushehr facility would not begin this month as planned because of unresolved disputes over financing. The scheduled September launch of the reactor will also be delayed, it said.

Meanwhile, an official described as "an insider" told the three main Russian news agencies that Tehran had abused its ties with Moscow on the nuclear issue.

Iran’s defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, has caused Russia to suffer "losses in relation to its foreign policy and image, but they insist on their line," the Itar-Tass agency quoted the unnamed official as saying.

"Iran with a nuclear bomb or a potential for its creation is impermissible for us," the official said. "We will not play with them in anti-American games…. The Iranians are abusing our constructive attitude and have done nothing to help us convince our colleagues of Tehran’s consistency."
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Iran has been building democratic institutions since they overthrew their dictator in 1979. Although its been slow, and power has remained concentrated in the Guardian Council, things like the vote for the Council of Experts last year and local elections show that real competition and debate exist in Iran, and we should recognize that allowing this democracy to develop rather than trying to disrupt things by supporting a revolution or overthrow of the system is our best path forward.

One has to wonder though, what would have happened if, in 1951, we had supported Mossadeq’s efforts to nationalize Iranian oil. Instead we supported a British boycot, caused havoc in the Iranian economy, and initiated a crisis which allowed the Communist Tudeh to gain support. By 1953 anti-western feelings were so strong the Tudeh joined Mossadeq’s national front, and the West ultimately sponsored a coup which destroyed that nascent Iranian democracy and installed a dictator whose rule would lead to unrest, a revolution, and the current situation. Seems like if we avoided the interventionist urge we’d have fewer problems.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb alleges:
real competition and debate exist in Iran
Well of course they do, and they no doubt will so long as Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his rockin’ Revolutionary Guard say they’d better!
One has to wonder though, what would have happened if, in 1951, we had supported Mossadeq’s efforts to nationalize Iranian oil. [...] Seems like if we avoided the interventionist urge we’d have fewer problems.
How would support of Mossadeq’s efforts have been avoidance of interventionism?
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Let’s not get our hopes up. So what if some number of MPs are in a tizzy? The big question is whether they have the backing of the Mad Mullahs or whether Ahmadinejad still enjoys their support. If he does, then the MPs are wasting their time; they’re putting on a good show but nothing that signifies any change in course. The same applies to ’street’ protests. It doesn’t matter how many sheep go walking, until the Mad Mullahs sign on, the protests amount to nothing.

And even if the Mad Mullahs are tiring of Ahmadinejad, are they upset with his objectives or merely his grandstanding?
 
Written By: steve
URL: http://
Stop for a moment and ask yourself:
"How did I feel after reading Mr. McQain’s post?"
"If I represented the U.S. and had read it just before going into a negotiating session with Iran, would it cause be to harden my support of the Bush administration demands or make me more anxious to reach an agreement?"

My point?

How does the U.S. Congress look to someone in Iran?
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
How would support of Mossadeq’s efforts have been avoidance of interventionism?
Because we would not have tried to intervene to control their actions. Or are you going to play another word game and try to say "support" means intervention? Hint: support meant only not joining the boycott and not engaging in economic punishment and covert activity to overthrow their government.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Iran has been building democratic institutions since they overthrew their dictator in 1979.
I would like to see evidence of this in a country where the Theocracy has VETO power over which candidates can run for office.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
I would like to see evidence of this in a country where the Theocracy has VETO power over which candidates can run for office.
Building democracy is a process, and in many states limited democracy exists for a long time, and not all democracies are western, liberal democracies.

We had slavery for the first eighty years of our democracy. Women couldn’t vote for 140 years. We don’t have a theocracy, but try to run for major public office without extensive financial support from the business and corporate community, and you’ll see we have our limits as well. Moreover our very heavily centralized system of power tends to limit freedom in fundamental ways that most people don’t even recognize.

Ultimately Iran’s Guardian Council will have to give up this and other powers if Iran is to become a true democracy. Yet an Islamic democracy might look different than a western liberal democracy. The Guardian Council might treat the Koran much like we treat our constitution, and use it to judge whether laws should be allowed. Separation of church and state may be a long ways off.

But that’s OK. Polities develop, and the successful ones find culture matching political development. That’s why I think interventionism is so harmful — look at Africa after colonialism and Cold War support of dictators by both sides. The destruction of the political systems there through outside intervention has created conditions where massive corruption and authoritarianism undercut efforts to develop any kind of democratic polity.

Edmund Burke got it right when he early on criticized the French revolution. It’s not institutions and attempts to figure the "right" way to govern which brings success and stability to a polity, it’s whether the political system reflects the political culture and traditions of that society. Democracy is very difficult to build and even harder to maintain during its early stages. Once established, it can become very effective. We underestimate the difficulty of building a democracy because it seems so natural to us, and our ideology makes it seem to us like the only possibly legitimate form of government.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ultimately Iran’s Guardian Council will have to give up this and other powers if Iran is to become a true democracy
Hell will freeze over before that happens. Dictatorships do not voluntarily give up their power absent external or internal strife. I’ll believe the mullahs will step down when I see it. I doubt any of us will last that long.
We underestimate the difficulty of building a democracy because it seems so natural to us, and our ideology makes it seem to us like the only possibly legitimate form of government.


I hope Iran would move towards democracy, I just don’t see any substantiative evidence of it. I would love to be proved wrong though.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Hell will freeze over before that happens. Dictatorships do not voluntarily give up their power absent external or internal strife. I’ll believe the mullahs will step down when I see it. I doubt any of us will last that long.
From 1979 to 2003 the Guardian Council, to keep power, had consistently been loosening restrictions and Iranian life was becoming more modern. Their parties lost every election, and while they could control who ran, they didn’t limit the field to only those who support them.

As a reaction to the US invasion of Iraq the hardliners got a surge in popularity in Iran. That’s already waning. But the time frame from 1979 to 2003 showed real improvement. I’m hoping that will continue, especially when the nationalist "anti-American" trend burns itself out (assuming we don’t do something stupid and attack them).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Their parties lost every election
If they lost, how did the manage to remain in power until the Untied States, conveniently, did something Evil.
I’m hoping that will continue, especially when the nationalist "anti-American" trend burns itself out (assuming we don’t do something stupid and attack them).
The United States attacking Iran is not only impossible military, it would be idiotic The Clinton administration emasculated the military to a point where we can barely sustain our operations in Iraq. A conventual attack is impossible, our only option would be to nuke the country into trinitinite. That would be evil. No president would be able to pull it off. If Bush tried, he would be impeached and, properly, tried for crimes against humanity. The idea that America would take military action against Iran seems paranoid, even with the present administration. Israel might, as an act of desperation, we can "talk tough", but we have only a "little stick"
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
If they lost, how did the manage to remain in power until the Untied States, conveniently, did something Evil.
The Guardian Council has considerable power as Iran allows the ulama to do what is necessary to remain an Islamic state. But they do not run government, and while they can stop laws that are un-Islamic, they do not always get there way on what governments choose. Indeed, Iranian life eased up and improved from 1979 to 2003, and there were (and still are) signs that the Guardian Council’s grip on power is weak due to general lack of public support. In the past, they have given in bit by bit to keep the public mollified but not lose power. That could be a stable process to ultimately a more democratic state (though likely one that remains Islamic — separation of church and state is a western notion that won’t transfer easily, it took a long time for it to win in the West, and in Europe there still isn’t the same kind of strict separation of church and state in many places as in the US).

The United States attacking Iran is not only impossible military, it would be idiotic The Clinton administration emasculated the military to a point where we can barely sustain our operations in Iraq. A conventual attack is impossible, our only option would be to nuke the country into trinitinite. That would be evil. No president would be able to pull it off. If Bush tried, he would be impeached and, properly, tried for crimes against humanity. The idea that America would take military action against Iran seems paranoid, even with the present administration. Israel might, as an act of desperation, we can "talk tough", but we have only a "little stick"
I agree with most of that, but is our military — one of the largest and by far the strongest and most well equipped — really emasculated? We do spend half the world’s military spending and are clearly the most powerful state. If that’s emasculated, then the rest of the planet is populated by Eunichs! :-)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
We do spend half the world’s military spending and are clearly the most powerful state. If that’s emasculated, then the rest of the planet is populated by Eunichs! :-)
Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. “Therefore, whoever wishes for peace, let him prepare for war.” Vegetius in De Re Militari

When we forget that ancient Roman axiom, war seems to follow. Much of the world forgoes spending for war, because they know we will do it. They are not eunuchs, just pragmatic. This results in much of the disparity in spending.

The Clinton administration cut the Army from 12 to 10 Divisions and the Navy from 12 to 10 carrier battle groups. We are seeing the results of that action today in the over stretching of the military.

After World War Two America accepted the position of guarantor of the West. If we now feel that position is an Albatross around our neck, we could retreat to Festung Amerika, a walled off isolationist country without global influence or interest. To me that would be the greatest disaster of all. Reductio ad absurdum
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
After World War Two America accepted the position of guarantor of the West. If we now feel that position is an Albatross around our neck, we could retreat to Festung Amerika, a walled off isolationist country without global influence or interest. To me that would be the greatest disaster of all. Reductio ad absurdum
There is an alternative: build cooperative institutions to allow for greater burden sharing and parterships for the mutually beneficial goal of maintaining stability. I also think globalization has created a weakening of the importance of military action; interdependence and economic links lead to states unlikely to go to war with each other. Terrorism and non-state actors are the new threat, but traditional military action isn’t effective.

I see us in an era like at the time of the rise of the Westphalian state system. Technological change (at that time gun powder and the printing press) led to systemic change (which was bloody) by breaking the power of the church through a revolution in information and weaponry. Now the sovereign state system is under pressure, and global violence is again changing in scope. Since WWI the level of civilian death has been increasing, and violence has a generational effect especially on the children who experience those conditions.

But my perspective harkens back to the anti-Imperialism of the 1890s and early 1900’s — Thomas Brackett Reed (R-Maine, Speaker of the House), and Charles Eliot Norton. If you can get your hands on Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower, a superb book, read Chapter 3. That’s the ideological tradition on US foreign policy I identify with (not right or left now). I’d not be isolationist, but I think the emerging era will see problems that can only be resolved through cooperative institution building.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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