Hitchens on Iran. Wishful Thinking?

Monday, March 13, 2006
From Slate comes an article by Christopher Hitchens in which he suggest the US "engage" Iran, a sort of Nixon and China scenario.

Appearances sometimes to the contrary, they are not mad—or not clinically insane in the way that Saddam Hussein was and Kim Jong-il is. The recent fuss about the obliteration of Israel is largely bullshit: Ayatollah Khomeini's call for this has been intoned pedantically and routinely ever since he first uttered it, and it only got attention this year because of the new phenomenon of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the scrofulous engineer who acts the part of civilian president for his clerical bosses. These people (who once bought weapons from Israel via Oliver North in order to fight Saddam Hussein) are cynical and corrupt. They know as well as you do what would happen if they tried to nuke Israel or the United States. They want the bomb as insurance against invasion and as a weapon of strategic ambiguity to shore up their position in the region.

But they have a crucial vulnerability on the inside. The overwhelmingly young population—an ironic result of the mullahs' attempt to increase the birth rate after the calamitous war with Iraq—is fed up with medieval rule. Unlike the hermetic societies of Baathist Iraq and North Korea, Iran has been forced to permit a lot of latitude to its citizens. A huge number of them have relatives in the West, access to satellite dishes and cell phones, and regular contact with neighboring societies. They are appalled at the way that Turkey, for example, has evolved into a near-European state while Iran is still stuck in enforced backwardness and stagnation, competing only in the rug and pistachio markets. Opinion polling is a new science in Iran, but several believable surveys have shown that a huge majority converges on one point: that it is time to resume diplomatic relations with the United States.

I am not so sure about this, but I certainly would support it if I thought it would work.


JB said...

Totally wishful thinking.

Hitch's argument is premised on the idea that the mullahs (and their proxy) can't be both corrupt and fanatical. I'm not sure the two qualities are necessarily mutually exclusive.

terrye said...

Neither am I.