Thursday, June 18, 2009

Figuring out Iran

Iran's leadership over the last decade or so has faced the "can't keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen the big city" problem.

We did Iran a huge favor by decimating Iraq in the Gulf War. Its chief rival, militarily and economically, was in ruins, resulting in less need for costly defense and more oil money for internal development. Iran found itself in the seemingly golden position of being able to increase its standard of living, increase its influence in the region and improve its infrastructure (and fund some terrorism).

All of this happened in the context of the boom 90's and the first half of this decade. In '03, we took Iraq almost totally out of the picture, again to the benefit of Iran.

Then Iran, with the rest of us, met the recession. Oil prices and sales plummeted. The fuel for Iran's resurgence, oil money, ran into short supply. The problem it faced was that it had created a huge demand for what oil money could buy. More and more dissatisfaction was expressed by its people when the flow slowed.

Iran's demographics are very different that ours. We have a rapidly graying population. Iran has a very young population, something like seventy percent of its people are under thirty. This part of its citizenry never lived under the Shah and did not grow up in the fire of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Rather they became used to increasing material goods, more and more free communication and its resulting knowledge of how the rest of the world lives.

Iran is facing what China faced twenty years ago. China's then totally repressive communist government is Iran's current repressive Islamic government. China's much less repressive today, Iran will be much less repressive in twenty years.

Khrushchev famously said in the sixties that the U.S. would bury itself; and, in some ways he was right. We've evolved or devolved depending on your point of view enormously, and we did it to ourselves. One of the few things Nixon did right back in the seventies was to go to China, accelerating its economic, and resulting social, revolution. China is dealing, ineffectively with the results, trying to put the cap back in the bottle. Iran can't stop the flow from the bottle and more than China can.

Since I ragged on Obama yesterday, I'll give him a shout out today. I think he's on the right track letting Iran deal with the fruits of its policies without our further intervention. It's doing a slow but OK job of evolving on its own.


Debo Blue said...

I'm on Twitter (DeboBlue) if you want to follow me. I'm following a reporter in Iran and it's so REAL hearing first hand accts of what's going on rather than relying on the blahness from our professional American journalists here.

Positive social change (think US 1964is)is what I hope comes out of this recent uprising and not another Khomeni-led suppressed 20 years.

Dave said...

You're leapfrogging Debo. I've vowed not to use Twitter or Facebook, come back to us old folks and start up the blog again.