Transformational Diplomacy: Can a Nuclear Deal Change Iran?

(Weekly Standard) Reuel Marc Gerecht - Many supporters of an Iranian nuclear agreement believe that a deal could help to moderate, even democratize, Iranian society. Barack Obama's constant allusions to the transformative potential of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for U.S.-Iranian relations suggest that he believes an agreement would improve the clerical regime's behavior. But economic dynamism has never been the driving priority for the regime, even for Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the former majordomo of the political clergy and the father of the Islamic Republic's pragmatic "technocrats," and Hassan Rouhani, Rafsanjani's most famous disciple, who's grown rich through the revolution's redistribution of wealth to the ruling clerical class. In the 1990s, Ali Khamenei and Rafsanjani welcomed billions in foreign investments while they were also green-lighting nuclear-weapons research, terrorism overseas, and repression at home. If we are unlikely to see a nuclear agreement produce moderation in Iranian politics within a decade, what are we likely to see if Khamenei decides to vouchsafe to Obama the diplomatic capstone of his presidency? Probably the exact opposite of what the president intends. It is entirely conceivable that Obama will engineer what has been unthinkable in Iranian politics: a sustainable alignment between the technocrats and the Revolutionary Guards. In foreign policy, this will likely translate into more, and more skillful, Iranian adventurism.

2015-06-01 00:00:00

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