12 September, 2004

What, AGAIN?!

It seems likely we are going to invade Iran.

This seems even more ridiculous than the idea that we might invade Iraq (which, if you haven't been paying attention, we've already done). Consider: We "had beef" with Saddam for well over a decade before we invaded. Iraq was weakened by sanctions, had a shell of a military and no infrastructure to speak of. There was no internal opposition to Saddam, since he was so effective at killing it off. He was probably going to hold on to power for a long time, and he was relatively easy to remove.

Iran, contrariwise, is a regional power both economically and militarily. The clerical regime is not popular with its citizens. It came to power on a very thin mandate, riding the coat-tails of a revolution that probably included more Communists than Shi'a Islamists. It seems likely that it's going to fall apart on its own merit; an invasion, on the other hand, would result in an even bigger clustrem fucki than the sadness in Iraq.

However, mystifyingly, despite the clear example of how badly this business can go wrong, a lot of the same rumblings can be heard about Iran that we were treated to regarding Iraq in 2002. It's a sponsor of terrorism, it's seeking nuclear weapons, it's a totalitarian state that oppresses its people, etc., etc.

George W. Bush finally admitted the reason he invaded Iraq in his RNC speech. All that stuff and nonsense about weapons of mass destruction aside (which, to be fair, he gave scant mention to), he laid out clearly the doctrine that Paul Wolfowitz has been patiently explaining to us all throughout, viz., the Democratic Domino theory. In brief, the establishment of a strong democracy in Iraq will inspire Arabs (and I suppose Persians) to reject the totalitarian regimes ruling them and overthrow them; the Middle East will thus become revitalized by a democratic rennaissance and the introduction of Freedom, strip malls, McDonalds, and what-have-you. It's unfortunate that the motivation for fomenting this democratic chain-reaction is the greater security it will provide the state of Israel because democratic regimes are less likely to encourage terrorism (cf. the United States), rather than the freedom and greater happiness of the oppressed populations, and unfortunate that many of those oppressive regimes are U.S. clients, but still the democratic domino theory seems a worthy idea. Democracy > Dictatorship.

On those lines an invasion of Iran seems like absolutely the WRONG thing to do. Iran is the prime candidate in the region for an internal revolution - and in the seat of the original Islamic Revolution, it would be enormously influential if the population rejected that revolution and chose democracy. Far more so than the installment of "democracy" in Iraq, where it may easily be conflated with subsurvience to U.S. power. Invading Iran to introduce democracy would instantly kill any credibility that an indigenous revolution would have. Why do it, then?

On the one hand you might believe that Iran will quickly become a danger to the United States if it acquires nuclear weapons and so on. But I don't think that the Bush administration seriously believes their rhetoric about the danger of Iranian (or previously, Iraqi) aggression. Far more plausible is that George W. Bush used the wrong adjective to describe those dominoes. That is, what he's interested in achieving is not democracy, but the very same subsurvience to U.S. power.

There's no reason to believe that a home-grown revolution in Iran would achieve that purpose. In fact, it seems like it would do a great deal to resurrect the serpent of nationalism that we spent the past 50 years killing in the form of Nasserite Pan-Arabism. Why wait and let the Iranians get it wrong on their own, when we can get it right for them?

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