Prospects for Democratization in Iran: Policy Implications

By Zahedi, Dariush | Insight Turkey, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Prospects for Democratization in Iran: Policy Implications


Zahedi, Dariush, Insight Turkey


The most pressing challenge created by the United States' failure to create a friendly, stable and prosperous ally in Iraq is how to deal with Iran. By removing Iran's chief military threat and failing to credibly replace it, the US has opened the door to an expansion of Iranian power and influence in the region. Coming at a time when Iranian ultra-conservatives are ascendant, reformists are in disarray, and the nuclear program is reaching the point of no return, the problem is increasing in both its urgency and intractability. While the imperatives of thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions and dampening its influence in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories remain, the strategic environment has become much more complex and fluid, and the US's influence over actors and events promises to be much less decisive than in the past. (1) Given Iran's increasing strategic importance, having a compliant regime in Tehran matters now more than ever.

In seeking to engineer this outcome, the Obama Administration, in contrast to the Bush Administration that had sought to isolate, contain and weaken the Islamic Republic, has endeavored to promote dialogue with Iran while bolstering democratic elements within Iranian society. When, in the spring of 2003, Iran sent a secret letter to the Bush Administration detailing a proposal for comprehensive negotiations, (2) Vice-president Cheney's office, bent on a policy of regime change, thwarted the idea. However, even before the inauguration of the Obama Administration, the United States decided to break the historic taboo on high-level meetings with Iranian officials, and has now abandoned its refusal to engage Iran unconditionally. In the event that diplomacy fails to dissuade Iran from exchanging its low enriched uranium for moderately enriched uranium, the Obama Administration has pledged to seek targeted sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Even after the imposition of such sanctions, however, the administration will continue to leave the door to engagement and diplomacy open. At the same time, though, the options of regime change or military action will still remain "on the table." Meanwhile, the State Department has established a new office devoted solely to fostering political change in Iran and dramatically increased its democracy promotion efforts, allocating $75 million for television and radio broadcasts, exchange programs and strengthening Iran's civil society. In short, the strategy remains one of engaging the current regime, while grooming indigenous opposition groups as potential democratic successors.

This strategic vision operates on two assumptions: First, that the breakdown or modification of the Islamic Republic, though not imminent, may finally be appearing on the horizon. Second, that the eventual modification or annihilation of the Islamic Republic could result (as in the scenario touted for Iraq prior to the invasion) in the establishment and consolidation of a democratic partner for the United States in Iran. Upon closer examination, the first assumption turns out to be probable, while the validity of the second appears to be more tenuous. Indeed, in the event that the regime were to fall, Iran is bereft of many of the social and economic requisites for a stable democracy. About 80% of the Iranian economy is in the hands of the state, the private sector is dependent and feeble, and the 70% of Iranians under the age of 30 are neither propertied nor middle class. In the meantime, the state is becoming even more powerful as it tightens its stranglehold over the Iranian economy and an increasing number of the middle class becomes a client to the state. Moreover, a political culture of consensus and compromise has not as yet become ingrained, even among the elite.

In what follows, it will be argued that in the event of regime change or modification, these structural impediments to democracy are more likely to lead to the kind of elected authoritarianism we see today in Russia rather than a transition to liberal democracy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Prospects for Democratization in Iran: Policy Implications
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.