When Pressure Works
Ali Ansari wrote quite a lousy op-ed about Iran for The Guardian. An excerpt:
There can be little doubt that US hawks will interpret recent events as proof that pressure works, and that any more pressure will encourage the hawks further. Yet the reality is that while Ahmadinejad has been his own worst enemy, the US hawks are his best friends.
Yep that is because, without more hawkish policies towards Iran, the domestic situation in Iran would be far
Michael Stickings – whom I respect greatly – agrees with Ali’s take on the situation.
Michael makes the same mistake Ali makes: they completely dismiss the fact that Iran’s domestic situation has been hurt due to what hawks in especially the U.S. proposed / did and continue to do. If the entire world would have ignored all the things Ahmadinejad said, and continued business as usual, Ahmadinejad would – most likely – be more popular than he is today. Isn’t it true that certain important Iranian politicians criticize Ahmadinejad because his policies, or at least his public statements, are isolating Iran and therefore hurting it? And… Iranians (seem to) fear the possibility of a military attack. Why? Again, because it would hurt Iran tremendously.
So, Ali and Michael, both, fail to recognize the reality of the situation: without international pressure, Ahmadinejad would most likely be more popular than he is today. What all of this proves is, indeed, that isolating Iran works, at least to a degree (will it do the trick, perhaps not). What causes Ahmadinejad to lose support and face criticism? A combination of his domestic policies and his foreign policy, or better said, the reaction of – most importantly – the U.S. to Ahmadinejad’s way of conducting foreign policy.
Gaius summarizes Ali’s view quite accurately: “the pressure is working, so don’t apply pressure”.
Wretchard criticizes Ali’s op-ed as well. As Wretchard notes, The Guardian seems to push the “let the U.N. handle this” theme. Besides Wretchard’s criticism one should also ask the question: would the U.N. have done anything if it wasn’t for the U.S.? Probably not.
Orrin Judd has an entire different view:
Mr. Anasi, interestingly enough, makes the same mistake that the hawks and Mr. Ahmedinejad himself did, imagining that he ever had support from above or below. In fact, it was only because Ayatollah Khamenei underestimated how much he’d alienated the reformers and how few would turn out to vote that such a whack job won election in the first place. From there he’s just played into the hands of both the conservatives and the reformers and greased his own skids.
Jules Crittenden isn’t too happy with Ali’s op-ed either and writes:
This conclusion ignores reports that one of the big reasons Ahmadinejad is in trouble at home is that his buffoonish, bellicose posturing is scaring everyone and sanctions are worsening an already lousy economy.
Doubt no more! Iraniansâ€™ proxies in Iraq are running for cover and the Iranians themselves, as their agents being rounded up and threatened with death, have turned on a charm campaign to convince everybody what great, aboveboard guys they are.