“Making Iran our friend”

Reza Aslan, who wrote one of the best books I read last year, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, and is very, very hot, has an interesting opinion piece in the LA Times in which he argues that “abandoning our stated goal of regime change could bring about the reforms in Tehran the U.S. has always wanted.”

If the U.S. engaged Iran the way it engages other “autocratic democracies” in Latin America, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet bloc, that would do far more to encourage democratic change than anything tried so far. The lesson to be learned from America’s misadventure in Iraq is that democracy cannot be promoted from the top down; it must be reared from within.

He’s spot-on there, and I like this bit in particular as well: “[T]he longer the U.S. insists that Iran suspend uranium enrichment before diplomatic negotiations can begin, the more sophisticated and irreversible Iran’s nuclear program will become.”

Anyway, curious to hear your thoughts. And if you haven’t yet read No god but God, I can’t recommend it enough. He’s a fantastic writer.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to ““Making Iran our friend”

  1. I saw him on the Colbert Report shortly after he published the book and I ran out to get it. Excellent work and well worth the read.

    and yes, he would be on my list my husband cannot get mad at……*drool*

  2. MR. Bill

    Maybe the point is that the NeoCon agenda needs an enemy.
    And given the way the US and Britain wrecked an infant Iranian Democracy and set the Shah up, the Iranians might do well to be suspicious of our ‘peacemaking’.

  3. I think I saw him interviewed – probably on the Daily Show. He’s a very smart commentator on the Middle East, and I agree with him that honest engagement with Iran is likely to be more constructive than confrontation. The biggest problem, though, is not that our leaders are not getting good advice or just using bad strategy. I think the real problem is that the stated goals (pursuing democracy, human rights, etc.) are not the real goals in dealing with Iran and other Middle Eastern nations.

  4. add my recommendation to yours ‘liss, no god but god is one of the finer books out there.

    also, the l.a. times piece is very well thought and written. excellent points. ever since common wisdom began to hold that the solution to iraq was political and diplomatic rather than military i have been fighting despair. bush and diplomacy is not a comfortable mix. if the others don’t respond to his threats and bullying he resorts to tantrum.

  5. redlegphi

    Is this really that surprising? I mean, I’d think that, if some outside country was pushing around the US and trying to tell us what to do, Democrats and Republicans would probably unify at least long enough to tell them to fuck off. This is pretty much what’s going on in Iran. The people there don’t expecially like their current government, but when they’ve got a foreign superpower trying to tell their government what to do, they get a bit offended. Our current foreign policy plays right into the hands of Iran’s theocrats.

  6. Nik E Poo

    I agree with Mr Hottie (who wouldn’t).

    I would assert however, the neither Bush nor Putin nor Ahmadi-Najad nor Kim Jung Il and their respective bases … want normalized, happy peaceful relations with anyone. Peace leads to open markets … which brings the dreaded scourge of competition! *gasp* OTOH, conflict brings secrecy, corruption and the sweet sweet nectar of unearned money.

    “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

  7. GuyTheGuy

    The problem with Reza isn’t that he’s wrong about what would happen i.e. a more democratic Iran. Where he is wrong is the goal the USA has in mind. They don’t want a democratic and freer Iran, they want a friendly dictator willing to give us their resources as we did with the Shah.

  8. Yes, and yes.

    (I saw that photo and immediately went HOLY CRAP HOTCHI MOTCHI, so… points to him, I suppose. Many points.)

  9. What GuytheGuy said.

    And also, the reason the Cheney Administration keeps doing counterproductive stuff is not because they’re too stupid to see what they’re doing. They’re doing it because chaos is what they want to achieve. I think in what passes for a mind with those people, the idea is that chaos creates weakness, which makes it easier to get all the oil you want. (It’s a fallback strategy if you have to go to work with the dictator you have, instead of the dictator you would like to have.)

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