IRAN’S MAKE-BELIEVE MODERATES—Looking in vain for glasnost in Tehran-

IRAN’S MAKE-BELIEVE MODERATES—Looking in vain for glasnost in Tehran–16h.,b12-3

JOPOA— JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION

The accord has serious limitations: Within 8 years, the Islamic Republic can start producing advanced centrifuges; within 15 years, clerics will be free to construct as many centrifuges and enrich as much uranium as they wish. The unorthodox inspection regime that the White House agreed  to, which at the suspect Parchin facility restricted the International le Atomic Energy Agency to remote,  robotic sampling, also suggests that m the administration really hopes to see the Islamic Republic over the next decade.

Parliamentary elections ought to be viewed as lea one more sign that the overarching of political premise of a deal made no sense. The new parliament voted in at February’s end is composed of—and again the Western nomenclature is far from ideal—radical hardliners, hardliners, conservatives, and a few tepid, nervous reformers. Real reformers, Iranian politicians and intellectuals who want to change radically the governing structure of the Islamic Republic and convert a theocracy into a democracy, were silenced, imprisoned, exiled, murdered, and banned from politics when the prodemocracy Green Movement was stamped out after the fraudulent presidential election in 2009.

Iran has studied the Islamic Republic knows that when parliament  chairman Ali-Larijani, a highly intelligent, dissent-crushing, women’s-rights-loathing, supreme leader-loving, former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, allies himself with President Rouhani  and his followers, the latter aren’t seeking to change fundamentally the Islamic Republic                Westerners want to believe that Rouhani’s  economic preferences, which would reduce the state’s heavy hand in commerce and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s monopolizing role in industry, will sooner or later lead to greater political and cultural freedom. The power of Adam Smith will triumph over Islam, so to speak.

As Rouhani put it in 1994, “Because of the fierce competition between Europe and the United States, we must expand our relations with Europe and counter America’s conspiracy.” The two clerics tried—and failed—to check the growing economic and political power of the Revolutionary Guards, Many intellectuals, at home and abroad. were assassinated during Rafsanjani’s presidency by officers and agents of the ministry of intelligence. Rafsanjani and Rouhani, who’d been the driving forces behind that ministry’s creation and had men closely aligned with them serving in its highest ranks, were unquestionably culpable for this terrorism.

Mohammad Khatami, a complicated cleric who sincerely wrestled with the collision of Western and Islamic ideas, would usher in an age of reform after he succeeded Rafsanjani in 1997; Rouhani’s deeply felt antipathy toward them exploded during the 1999 student protests. Rouhani, then secretary of the supreme national security council gave a fire breathing speech threatening the students with death.

Mutatis mutandis, Rouhani is the same man he was in 1999. That he might look better than he did then is only because the Iranian political system has moved so far “right” since the halcyon days of the “Islamic Left” in the 1990s, when reformist clerics and laymen tried peacefully and democratically to introduce change into Iranian society and politics. The only ones who’ve really changed are the fallen heroes of Khatami’s brief period of reform. They’ve become forlorn, desperate to see hope even in men who once literally gave the orders to jail and beat them. It is an Orwellian irony.

Regardless of what happens inside Iran, President Obama and his supporters will continue to embrace the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. They will never accept the argument  that a nuclear agreement that enhances the power of Islamic revolutionaries is so politically counterproductive as to negate the logic of the deal itself The truth: Since the second Iraq war became politically unpalatable, the vast majority of American progressives haven’t cared that much about what happens inside the Islamic Republic, whether hardliners rise and moderates fall. Liberals may cite with the greatest of reverence Iranian dissidents who are praying that Rouhani 2.0 won’t be as nasty as Rouhani 1.0, that his enmity towards the Revolutionary Guards, will spill over into civil society and at least create buffers between their  demurrals and the guards’ rapacity. But for the American left, what really matters is that the United States isn’t going to war over the Iranian nuclear issue. As long as that is true, Rouhani  is a moderate. The Iranian people just s need to be patient. The arc of history is on their side. Crony capitalism will eventually set them free.

source–weekly standary (3/14/160, reuel marc gerecht,

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