Is Iran More Than a Match for the West?
Winds of Change looks at two assessments of whether the West can pressure Iran. Foreign Affairs says 'no'. Iran is too powerful. One can only hope for detente. "In order to develop a smarter Iran policy, U.S. leaders must first accept certain distasteful facts - such as Iran's ascendance as a regional power and the endurance of its regime - and then ask how those can be accommodated." A less academically prestigious magazine, Azure, says, 'yes': that compared to taking on the old USSR, Iran is a pushover by comparison.
By most measures, Iran is an easier mark than the Soviet Union. It does not yet have nuclear weapons or icbms; its Islamist ideology has less of a universal appeal; its tools of thought control are vastly inferior to the gulag and the KGB; and its revolution is not old enough to have obliterated the memory of better days for much of its population. In theory at least, it should be much easier for the West to mount a similar campaign of relentless pressure on the regime - from fomenting dissent online, to destabilizing the regime through insurgent groups inside Iran, to destroying the Iranian nuclear project, to ever-deeper economic sanctions, to fighting and winning the proxy wars that Iran has continued to wage - in order to effect the kind of change of momentum needed to enable the Iranian people to bring their own regime down the way the peoples under communism did in the 1980s and 1990s.
Noah Pollack, of Azure is very often in the Middle East with Michael Totten and his opinion is not to be discounted. The question is whether it is Iran, and not some wider pan-Islamic ideology that has to be contained. Iran is an easier enemy to handle than the gangster regime of Bolsheviks in Russia. But Islam may be a tougher proposition, having already survived more than a millenium against all comers.
But if one examines Islam itself, then history provides more than a few examples of its vulnerability as an imperium. The Mongols nearly destroyed it at its height. Europe ran roughshod over it in the 19th century.
So is Iran vulnerable to the West? You decide. But as to whether the West is vulnerable to Iran, is that an easier question to answer? Or does it depend on who's in charge?