Friday, June 26, 2009

Iran's Crisis - All Quiet on the Western Front

From GLORIA, June 22, 2009, by Barry Rubin:

The Iranian crisis is being fought out on three fronts.

[1] ... inside Iran itself.
... overall, not much will change within the country. Presumably, there will periodically other such upheavals until the day the regime is overthrown altogether. But how long will that take? None can say.

[2] ... the regional aspect.
Events in Iran will not change minds in the Middle East.

On one side are the radical Islamists. ...Hamas and Hizballah; the Syrian regime, and many in Iraq ...They will go on being radical Islamists ...

The same conclusion, however, will be reached by the anti-Iran Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and the much smaller base of al-Qaida. They and their supporters will go on seeking Islamist regimes in their countries, notably Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia. They won't be affected either....

...proving that Iran is repressive will not weaken support for Islamism ...

...The Iranian regime is strong. It fears no one ...defies the West ...rewards its friends and kills its enemies ... And soon it will have nuclear weapons, too.

...how will [Islamists of both varieties] interpret the regime’s no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, tough-guy approach to internal dissent? ...will they say: Awesome! Are these guys tough, or what? Successful repression, like a successful terrorist attack with maximum civilian casualties, brings admiration, not horror in these circles.

But what about all those in the Middle East who hate Islamism and fear Iran? Well, they already feel that way, don’t they? The Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi governments, for example, may not be thrilled with the idea of mass street protests against another government, but they aren’t going to dislike Iran more than they already do. They are hardly surprised by that regime’s behavior. And so is the small minority of Arab liberals. No minds or policies changed here either.

Oh, but there is one aspect of the crisis that might affect their thinking:

Wow, those Westerners sure are afraid of criticizing Iran.

[3]And that brings us to the Western front.
Here is the one where change might be most significant.

Will people in western Europe and North America conclude from this that the Iranian regime is mad, bad, and its dangerous if Iran's rulers know how to make nuclear weapons? ...

...Surely, some of this has got to be sinking in, right?

...It isn’t too late to oppose Iran’s ambitions and nuclear weapons’ drive. Are people in democratic states going to wake up about the Iranian regime's threat?

The great danger is that one will be able to say regarding the effect of Iran’s current crisis:

All quiet on the Western front.
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