Montag, 8. Februar 2010

Stephen Walt on Iran

Stephen Walt used his blog at Foreign Policy to deliver what he termed "bad news for the neoconservatives". He is taking a poll to make a couple of points that he apparently thinks are disenchanting from a neocon-perspective, a poll that in his view shows that Ahmadinejad might have won the election anyway. Now, the poll itself has been rightly critised extensively by others as inaccurate and misleading--and I shall just add that the BBC series "Yes, Prime Minister" once explained the trouble with polls brilliantly. But though these critics are right, even if the poll would have been accurate Walt's statement should be of concern:

First, there is a reason why in democracies polls aren't enough. If pollsters were right Rudy Giuliani would have been president of the United States by now, or perhaps Hillary Clinton. We should not discard the essence of democracy just because it is convenient to make a point. It is also terribly wrong.

Second and more seriously: The sort of alternative being put forward by Walt is precisely what this conflict is not about: it is not about the maintenance of the Islamic Republic OR as Walt put it a "U.S.-led liberation". This is exactly the hypocritical statement typical for his strand of thinking, so may I remind the honourable colleague: democracy doesn't come in a star-spangled banner, it comes with the rule of law, human rights, constitutional government and the separation of powers. And the aspiration does not turn you into a U.S. crony, it does turn you into a democrat. And if Walt wouldn't agree, I am sure the French would.

Third and most important: this mixing of the nuclear issue and the opposition to the regime has become a common theme. And no it wouldn't be "nice if we tried it"-- "it" meaning us allowing enrichment, while the Iranians would forego weaponisation. It might under certain circumstances be acceptable (though none of these circumstances are in place) but even then it would not be nice. Needless to say, however, that it would fail.

And finally: this, dear colleague, is not bad news for neocons. I ought to know, because I am used to count myself among them; if it is news at all, this is primarily bad or more precisely sad news for Iranians. Because if it were to be true, Iranians would have indeed elected a government that has concluded that killing its own citizens is a just course of action.

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