Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I wouldn't mind some good news...

He kind of looks like a demonic zombie, doesn't he? ->

Tony, Tony, Tony... are you conducting? Whatever happened to your band The Tony Rich Project? I totally loved "Nobody knows it but me," it's a Classic.



You would think to expect some good news from Iran the day after Prime Minister Tony Blair declared the West should search for a "new partnership" with Iran. Think again.
No sooner did the words fall from Tony's lips, than Iran's President jumped on the opportunity to declare a political victory, and the West's submission to his will. I've argued recently that the West should open up a bit to Iran; sell them more of our popular culture, get them hooked on the trinkets of freedom. But let this evolve diplomatically, and through economic channels.
Do not hand the President of Iran a gift in the form of a public speech that he can translate into the vindication of his government's policies. Granted, at the same time, though President Bush and Israeli PM Olmert have reiterated their tough stance against Iran, there will be less focus on these comments, then Blair's.

The bottom line is that the U.S. is stuck in a tough situation. Iran and Syria are supplying weapons, people, and moral support to part of the Iraqi insurgency. Bush and his allies have to somehow figure out a way to calm Iraqi violence; possibly with Iranian, and Syrian help. At the same time, the West has to curtail Iranian Nuclear proliferation, and somehow contain its influence in the region.
This is a monstrous task. Maybe impossible to accomplish. Have such large, competing interests ever been able to succeed in the past?
The United States could not prevent the U.S.S.R. from going nuclear, nor could we prevent them from building the Berlin wall. But we did contain them. The West, led by the United States, landed men on the moon, kept nukes out of Cuba, and opened up China.
In 1970, there were probably not many people that would have guessed by 2006, Russia would be joining the WTO, or that China's red hot economy would continue to open itself to free market capitalism.
We need a healthy dose of pragmatism to deal with Iran. Despite the country's vast oil reserves, its people want more than flashy headlines and firebrand leaders. They want Grey's Anatomy and Seinfeld, they want McDonald's and Saks Fifth Avenue. The average Iranian probably cares less about the actual benefits of nuclear energy than its perception of Iran in the Muslim world of the 21st century.
So what can the United States hope to do? At best, we can use our leverage - our hard and soft power - to reduce the violence in the Middle East and curb Islamic Extremism. At worst, we can remain obstinate and allow Iranian nuclear proliferation and the Iraqi insurgency to spiral out of control.
Either way, it seems... the road leads through Tehran.

No comments: