Friday, January 06, 2012

Iran: The Paper Tiger

In a recent post on his CNN blog, television commentator Fareed Zakaria suggests that the recent hysteria drummed up by Republicans such as Mitt Romney about Iran, along with concerns over its intentions in the Strait of Hormuz, may be exaggerated. Far from a strong enemy, the Iranian regime may be facing internal strife and economic weakness.

My Gut Reaction: It's about time someone had the guts to confront the panic-mongers.

Analysis: There are signs of conflict within the Iranian government. The recent threats to blockade the Strait of Hormuz are a good example. Although the Vice President of Iran made the threat, a major figure in Iran's Republican Guards denied that there were any plans to do so. This contradiction suggests a rift between different government factions.

Furthermore, Zakaria argues that the current instability in Syria leaves Iran without its closes ally. Zakaria may be overstating this issue, particularly with an increasingly Shia-dominated Iraq next door. However, the weakening of the Syrian regime had definite negative repercussions for Iran, leaving it with less of a capability to threaten Israel, our main ally in the region.

Perhaps the best part of Zakaria's piece is when he debunks the idea that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to the United States. This claim has always struck me as genuinely silly. If a nuclear terrorist bombed the United States, Iran would probably be destroyed nearly instantly, in all likelihood with little chance to really examine whether the country or its government had been involved. Indeed, a nuclear Iran might even stabilize the region in a way, creating a balance of power with the United States and Israel.

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