[Marxism] WSJ commentary favoring Iran "Regime Change" via "engagement"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 31 05:55:30 MST 2005


The frustratingly bizarre irrationality of Washington's blockade
of Cuba, the longest such blockade in history is exposed for what
it is when we look at the way Washington has embraced normalization
and trade relations with China and Vietnam, normalization with 
Russia, and even negotiations with North Korea. Today, as the UN
is about to discuss and debate a resolution sharply critical of
Iran because of its president's call for the obliteration of the
state of Israel, the Wall Street Journal today publishes this very
forceful call for, not a blockade but active ENGAGEMENT with Iran.

Three years ago, on the eve of President Jimmy Carter's visit to
Cuba, the Wall Street Journal made a forceful call for an end to
the blockade - which they called the "embargo" -, but they quickly
drew back from that remarkable position to favor a militantly pro-
blockade posture which they've retained ever since. It was widely
reprinted and provoked interested discussion. Read that WSJ edit:
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs073.html

And now the WSJ makes a similar proposal for Iran. Their editors
seem to realize that US threats have only rallied most Iranians to
support the government of their country, though they're completely
blind to the fact that Washington's relentless hostility to Cuba's
Revolution has strengthened Cuban nationalism in the face of the
endless pattern of US threats. Recent editions of the Cuban tele-
vision news have prominently and frequently shown images of Bush
holding up a copy of his "Transition commission" report and then
followed up with details of how the blockade hurts the Cuban people.

Just imagine this paragraph, rewritten with "Cuba" replacing "Iran",
as such a change of policy would have to be framed in U.S. politics:

"Instead of saber-rattling, the U.S. must encourage the unfolding
discussions in Iran. It must reassure the Iranian people that it
respects their right to develop a nuclear program that conforms with
international law, and that the problem is not with the people but
with those who have coercively monopolized the right to speak for
them. Every element of this new bargain -- ending the embargo and
replacing it with smart sanctions; lifting the bans on airplane spare
parts and offering earthquake warning systems; and even direct
discussions with the regime -- must be seen as part of a grand
strategy to help the Iranian people achieve their dream of democracy.
Otherwise, they will be seen merely as a deal with the regime. This
will obliterate the valuable good will of Iran's people."

What this demonstrates is that the "Ripe Fruit Syndrome" remains as
firmly entrenched in the US political leadership's mindset as ever.
http://www.walterlippmann.com/alzu-rfs.html Will they EVER learn?


Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
http://www.walterlippmann.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews
 
=================================================================

October 31, 2005
	
COMMENTARY
	
Regime Change
By ABBAS MILANI
October 31, 2005; Page A16
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The clerical cabal that rules Iran is pushing its captive population
ever closer to the precipice. President Ahmadinejad's declaration
that Israel should be "wiped out" has dramatically enhanced Iran's
isolation. The regime's best hope is that China's insatiable hunger
for energy will lead Beijing to use its veto power to thwart a
possible U.N. sanction. That said, there are advocates of the Iranian
regime who still claim that a grand bargain with the mullahs -- to
wit, American security assurances in return for an Iranian promise to
give up nuclear ambitions -- is the only option open to the U.S.
Another camp sees surgical attacks on the regime's nuclear facilities
as the only way to thwart the mullahs' nuclear ambitions. But any
such attack would kill hundreds of innocents, and be open to legal
challenge. It would also not be certain to destroy Iran's deeply
fortified nuclear centers. Besides, an attack is likely to
consolidate the power of the most strident elements of the regime.

The only answer to the Iranian nuclear problem is democracy. The
Ahmadinejad administration is already notorious for its mediocrity,
and for its domination by the military and intelligence sectors. The
election has led to a growing rift in the ranks of the hitherto
unified ruling clerics. More than four months after the presidential
elections, different factions of power have yet to agree on four
important ministries: oil, education, social welfare and
cooperatives.

In spite of record oil revenues, the economy is in trouble. Millions
live in poverty; millions of others are chronically unemployed. The
new president's populist but mindless pronouncements have led to a
slump in the economy. The state accounts for 80% of the economy and
the president has promised to increase its share even more.

Private sector investments have all but completely ceased. Private
banking is in crisis because the president indicated that banks
should be a monopoly of the government. Furthermore, the government's
clumsy attempts to tinker with interest rates, and rumors that it was
to do away with interest altogether -- Islam bans usury -- have only
added to the crisis. Bank managers have declared a moratorium on
loans. Stock prices slid when word got out that the president
considers the stock market "un-Islamic." The Tehran stock exchange is
now estimated to have lost 30% of its total value.

Internationally, the regime has often congratulated itself in recent
years on its ability to play off the EU against the U.S., and Russia
against the West. China and India -- who together have signed
agreements to purchase Iranian oil to the tune of $150 billion --
have also had close ties to Tehran. But the EU seems no longer
willing to be used as a foil against the U.S.; and India is showing a
new unwillingness to endanger its friendship with Washington over
Iran.

Allegations that the Islamic Republic has supplied Sunni terrorists
in Iraq with armor-piercing bombs has put Iran on a collision course
with the hitherto unfailingly conciliatory British. Many in the
regime now feel that Iran is dangerously isolated and vulnerable. 
As a way to assuage alarm, the government has announced that all
branches of government will be handled by an "Expediency Council" --
not by the incompetent new cabinet. This has led to open bickering
between factions. An ally of President Ahmadinejad declared that
under no circumstances would nuclear negotiations be entrusted to
Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the council.

This disarray has led, for the first time, to open criticism of the
regime's tactics in the nuclear area. The critics all repeat a firm
commitment to the right of Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear program;
but they go on to criticize the regime's policies. Some of these,
like the Islamic Revolutionary Organization -- for the last 25 years
a stable supporter of the regime -- and some members of the
parliament, are now questioning the wisdom of pursuing a nuclear
program at the cost of becoming a pariah nation. That these voices
have emerged in spite of an atmosphere of terror -- where casting
doubt on the nuclear policy is seen as treason -- indicates that
opposition to current policies might well be far greater behind
closed doors.

The West, particularly the U.S., inadvertently helped the clerics by
failing to engage with the Iranian people on the real issues
underlying the nuclear problem. Questions about the economic
viability of a nuclear program, debates about the real strategic
value and cost of a nuclear bomb for Iran, and information on the
urgent question of nuclear safety, were never part of a credible U.S.
or EU attempt to address the Iranian people. But the recent
developments in Iran have created new opportunities for the U.S. to
actively engage in this debate.

The time for a new grand bargain with Iran's people has arrived.
Instead of saber-rattling, the U.S. must encourage the unfolding
discussions in Iran. It must reassure the Iranian people that it
respects their right to develop a nuclear program that conforms with
international law, and that the problem is not with the people but
with those who have coercively monopolized the right to speak for
them. Every element of this new bargain -- ending the embargo and
replacing it with smart sanctions; lifting the bans on airplane spare
parts and offering earthquake warning systems; and even direct
discussions with the regime -- must be seen as part of a grand
strategy to help the Iranian people achieve their dream of democracy.
Otherwise, they will be seen merely as a deal with the regime. This
will obliterate the valuable good will of Iran's people.

Mr. Milani, director of Iranian Studies at Stanford and co-director
of the Hoover Institution's Iran Democracy Project, is author of
"Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Modernity in Iran" (Mage, 2004).






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