Posted by: Jeff | December 22, 2009

Pros and Cons of Iranian Reform

Stephen Walt has an interesting perspective on what democratic reform in Iran might mean:

My point is that we often forget that we have been dealing with an Iran that is much less powerful than we are, and much weaker than it would have been under more effective leadership. Those who press for “regime change” in Iran assume that this would produce a government whose policy preferences were more in line with ours, and that the major conflicts that now exist between Tehran and Washington would quickly evaporate. Maybe so, but it might also produce a more effective and capable government that could defend Iranian interests more effectively, even when they clashed with ours.

I appreciate Walt’s rational realist perspective as usual, and agree that reform is not a panacea in terms of the issues between the United States and Iran. However, I still think that an Iranian government more responsive to the wants and desires of its people is going to be less openly hostile. I don’t think we have any right getting directly involved in the reform movement – it is important that it is organically Iranian – but we should still be cheering for it despite whatever odds may be against it.

Part of the danger of Iran is both its saber-rattling as a matter of policy and the mystery surrounding its nuclear program and national intentions.  More transparency might not end the nuclear program – but it will defuse some of the Cold War-esque security histrionics.



  1. […] governing legitimacy.  The protests are bold, and the state resistance seems weakened.  I wrote earlier this week that the call for Iranian reform needs to come from within in order to score the most damage […]

  2. i am iranian
    we love sayed ali khamenei.

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