Is the Nuclear Deal Likely to Transform Revolutionary Iran?

(Washington Post) Ray Takeyh - In the end, the viability of the nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran rests not so much on technical formulations but on hope: the hope that in a decade, the theocratic state will shed its revolutionary attire and be transformed into a responsible member of the international community. President Obama is seemingly convinced that once Iran's interests are taken into account by the world and its coffers filled, it will find the temptations of pragmatism difficult to resist. But this view displays little understanding of the clerical state and the unique role that religion plays in its self-image. The Islamic republic's ideology is a radicalized variation of Shiite Islam. The regime's loss of popular appeal is immaterial to those that perceive their legitimacy as deriving from the will of God. They see the U.S. as a sinister source of cultural pollution seeking to delude young Muslims in the name of modernity. Indeed, the clerical rulers appreciate that their revolution can survive only if Iran remains isolated from subversive Western influences. To them, Obama's promise of global integration is not an invitation but a threat. Thus, the legacy of the nuclear agreement will not be a transformed Iran but a revolutionary regime possessing an elaborate nuclear infrastructure and seeking to dominate the Middle East. In the end, the shadow of this deal is likely to haunt U.S. interests in the region for years to come. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

2015-08-10 00:00:00

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