Saturday, July 11, 2009

Perspective: How Peacemakers Calculate America's Next Steps

From the last segment of PRI's American Influence podcast from 7/10/09:

"Before the [American] elections, there was a hope that a different U.S. approach, namely a more concilliatory approach from the Obama administration, may beget a more concilliatory, less hostile approach from Iran.

But I think what we've seen over the last two weeks is that Iran's policies are not a reaction to hostile U.S. policies. The hardliners in Tehran are driven by an immutable revolutionary ideology which was born in 1979, and even a more concilliatory approach from the Obama administration--preaching mutual respect and sending Nowrooz [New Year's] greetings--has not had any effect on the hardliners in Tehran. On the contrary, I think it's even unsettled them more, because the Obama administration is trying to steal them of an enemy. So I do fear that engagement is going to be very difficult given that... "it takes two to tango" and we the United States have made great efforts since President Obama's innuaguration in January to show the Iranians we're interested in setting a new tone and context to the relationship, but there's been no indication from Tehran that they're interested in reciprocating... I fear we could be looking at a policy which focuses mostly on punitive measures and possibly even military action looking 6-8 months down the road."


"I think a legitimate concern that the Obama administation has is that hardliners in Tehran may well welcome military confrontation with the United States thinking that it could help them consolidate their power and silence any opposition. This was the effect that Saddam Hussein's 1980 invasion had on Iran. At that time, the 1979 Revoution was still in its infancy, and there were many factional battles still being fought. But when Saddam attacked, people kind of united on the grounds of nationalism and national security and they united behind Ayatollah Khomeini and his cohorts. And I think similarly, the hardliners in Tehran may well be calculating that they reperesent a very narrow swath of not only Iranian society but also of Iran's politcal elite and it's going to be very difficult for them to govern without sustained repression--the type of repression we're seeing now--and were there to be military attacks... from the United States... that actually may help their cause rather than hurt it."

-Karim Sadjadpour, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Listen to the entire interview from PRI's The World's American Influence podcast at:

I transcribed this interview myself, and therefore apologize for any typographical errors. I do not take credit for any of the above ideas, although I do very much agree with them.

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