Is Iran weaker than we think?
0 comment Wednesday, June 11, 2014 |
Weaker than advertised
Victor Davis Hanson thinks the Iraq Study Group is foolish to recommend that our government have talks with Iran, the reason being, that according to him, Iran is weaker than believed, and Ahmedinejad is a paper tiger.
The world of publicity-hungry Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not expanding, but shrinking. Despite his supposedly populist credentials, his support at home and abroad will only further weaken as long as the United States continues its steady, calm and quiet pressure on him.
In Iran's city council elections last week, moderate conservative and reformist candidates defeated Ahmadinejad's vehemently anti-American slate of allies. At a recent public meeting, angry Iranian students -- tired of theocratic lunacy and repression -- shouted down their president.
Hanson recommends instead that we shun or marginalize Ahmadinejad, since he is already discredited among his own people, and on the way out. Hanson thinks we should give him the 'Gaddafi treatment' and boycott Iran, or at least isolate the regime.
Hanson then invokes the spirit of Ronald Reagan, and suggests that we emulate Reagan, who 'reached out' to dissidents in the old Soviet Union, people like Anatoly 'Natan' Sharansky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; creative dissidents, people who could help us bring about needed change.
As usual, Hanson is reaching, and he is making rather ill-fitting analogies. The old Soviet Union, 'Evil Empire' that it was, was not equivalent to the Islamic world, or to Ahmedinejad's Iran. The Soviet Union, despite its totalitarian ideology, still had roots in Christendom, and the larger European culture, from which matrix we in America also come. And many people within the old Soviet Union did not believe in the ideology which was imposed on them; they obeyed the outward forms of it while no longer believing in what they were taught. The whole system was a crumbling facade, bound to fall of its own weight. While it may be that Ahmadinejad's regime is also a teetering edifice, (I don't claim to be an expert on Iran), the underlying influence of Islam is still the force that we must reckon with. While there seem to be secular dissidents in Iran, they are not all of a mind to discard the Islamic rule there, or to make common cause with the infidels.
It appears that while there are numbers of dissident groups in Iran, they represent disparate philosophies and political allegiances; they seem to be unified only in their opposition to the existing regime, while they disagree on many other things. There is little likeness to Soviet dissidents like Sharansky or Solzhenitsyn, who were Western in their beliefs and philosophical orientation.
And I don't share Hanson's pollyannaish belief that
The larger Middle East that surrounds Iran is in the throes of a messy, violent three-stage transition: from dictatorship to radicalism and chaos to constitutional government. Thugs and terrorists like Mr. Ahmadinejad ("We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy") want it to stop and return to the old world before September 11. ''
I somehow can't subscribe to this essentially liberal view: the idea that everybody has this innate yearning for 'freedom' and constitutional government. I don't buy that everybody has an 'inner American' just waiting to be freed. I also don't buy that the only problem in the Middle East is just a few bad guys who are keeping the good guys, the 'moderates' from emerging. It used to be said by the usual suspects that 'when Yasser Arafat is gone, then we can make peace with the Palestinians.' I heard that line countless times: 'Arafat is the problem; just wait till he is gone, then we will negotiate a peace.' Well, Arafat is long since pushing up daisies, and how much nearer are we to 'peace' in the Middle East? No; the 'bad guys' are not the problem, but merely the symptom.
I still believe that Joseph de Maistre was right in saying that people get the government they deserve. People who truly 'yearn for freedom' don't constantly produce dictators and tyrants, and bring them to power. Tyrants don't arise in a vacuum. The Islamic culture is one in which tyrants and authoritarian personalities thrive.
Hanson, like so many other pundits, seems to project what he wants to see on the Islamic world. For some reason, maybe because he was rather hawkish on the Iraq invasion, Hanson is held in reverence by mainstream Republicans, who see him as a great sage. His essentially liberal views are hailed by the neoconnish faithful, who refuse to believe that the Middle East may be impervious to our efforts to 'fix' it. So we go on spending more lives and more billions on the forlorn hope of establishing democracy in the Islamic world.
The neocons and the mainstream GOP faithful, who have bought into the neocon ideology, think that a naive optimism is obligatory for 'real conservatives', and they often cite Ronald Reagan and his optimistic approach. In that sense, I think the constant harking back to Reagan is misleading. Because the Berlin Wall fell, and the Eastern Communist bloc regimes toppled, the neocons insist that the same is bound to happen in the Islamic world. So, in the vain belief that the Islamic world is just full of Sharanskys and Solzhenitsyns, if we but reach out to them, we will be pulled farther into the turmoil of Islam. The hope of 'moderate Muslim' dissenters who will naturally ally themselves with us is a foolish one. But reality has never been the strong suit of the neocons.