November 18, 2004

Variables and Constants III

Prof. Barnett says we should [g]et used to Iran having the bomb. I tend to agree that we should but I'm not as glum about it as he is. He's treating the leadership of Iran as a constant when it's not. It's a variable. I've repeatedly said that I don't mind a nuclear Iran if it's the right government, though I think that the right government in Iran would be glad to trade a nuclear arms program for a big payoff, kickstarting Iran's economy. The precedent is out there (Romania).

Iran is highly vulnerable to subversion and Najaf is the key to such a strategy, which is why Iran was so eager to get its puppet (Moqtada al Sadr) in control of the place. Sadr's damaged goods at this point for at least as long as Begin was due to his early terrorist missteps so Iran is desperately trying to keep the pot boiling so that the Najaf hawza does not feel secure enough from physical retaliation to issue fatwas against Iran's governing arrangements and the repression that grips the people.

Ayatollah Sistani, in naming Al Queda apostate, has shown that he's certainly willing to stick his neck out when religiously justified. I don't doubt that he'll be willing to focus his eye on the novel theories of the Iranian mullahcracy as soon as more pressing business is concluded and Iraq is under a stable Shia dominated government in early 2006.

I would not be surprised to see a period of danger where Iran is both mullah ruled and nuclear but mullah ruled is a lot less predictable than nuclear. Treat variables as variables and your policy options widen.

Posted by TMLutas at November 18, 2004 12:07 PM