December 14, 2004

Ends, Means, Iran

Take a look at this op-ed on Iran, by Vali Nasr and Ali Gheissari. The authors suggest we meddle with Iran's regime, mainly by exploiting "growing political divisions" between neoconservatives (mainly the Abadgaran and elements in the Revolutionary Guard) and the pragmatists. Sound familiar?

Maybe not. Notice this is very, very different from the sort of regime change schemes you see cooked up by the likes of Michael Ledeen. Nasr and Gheissari embrace regime subversion as a means to disarming Iran—as a means to integrating Iran into the modern world. But they say nothing about strengthening democratic movements per se, rather, only to the extent that those movements realistically undercut Abadgaran's quest for nuclear dominance. The Ledeen approach, meanwhile, seeks regime change as an end in itself, without much consideration for the main problem at hand, namely, Iranian nukes and Iran's isolation.

Obviously the Ledeen approach is more laudable and idealistic in theory, but when it comes right down to it, no one really embraces regime change as an end in itself. Even the most idealistic neoconservatives among us would object to an Iranian democracy that produced a savagely anti-American parliament. So we might as well be honest with ourselves and embrace our inner realpolitik.
-- Brad Plumer 4:17 AM || ||