Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Failure of the Iranian Model

Twelve years ago, with the election of Khatami as President of Iran, it became obvious that in large cross sections of the Iranian society the revolutionary zeal has petered out. The clergy was determined to keep the revolution that brought it to power alive and prevent its moderation and for that aim went to great length to limit free elections and democracy. With Ahmedinejad’s first (and only) election there was an attempt to revive its zeal internally and, as is customary with revolutions, project it outwards by linking it with local grievances, in this case, in Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The rigging of the elections and the violent clampdown on peaceful protestors that began today, demonstrates that the uneasy combination of an Islamic state and democracy has failed. By choosing revolution over the remaining vestiges of democracy, the clergy ensured that Iran will no longer serve as a model of mass supported Islamic Revolution. While internally the revolution has been saved, its foreign influence is likely to vane. Nor, as we learned, is it possible to make a peaceful transition from an Islamic to a democratic state, as happened in the aftermath of communism. Instead, Iran is coming to resemble the authoritarian regimes of the region.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

State of Decay

My new piece is up at The Review (National), State of Decay. It argues, by taking a longer historical look at the idea of Pakistan, that the relationship between the provinces and the federal govt. determine what the future for Pakistan holds :

Twenty years of military dictatorships, under Ayub Khan and Zia ul Haq, cemented the rule of the few over the many. Their policies led to the emergence of specific grievances by sub-nationalist groups in Baluchistan and Sindh. In the decade of Pervez Musharraf’s rule, these tensions grew dramatically, and pushed the state into a greater alienation from its own citizens.

Musharraf’s dictatorial regime sought to polish over any internal incoherence with a unified foreign front aimed primarily at operating militarily in Afghanistan, NWFP and Baluchistan. The influx of cash, some $6 billion, into the coffers of the military propelled the army to new-found heights as the country’s largest landlord, largest employer and largest business. But maintaining this new oligarchy came at a steep price for Pakistan.

X-posted at CM. Read more on this article...