Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be careful what you wish for: Would ‘regime change’ help Iran?

By Stephen M. Walt
Foreign Policy

"....In particular, bear in mind that a key goal of U.S. grand strategy has been to prevent any single power from dominating the oil-rich Persian Gulf. In other words, the United States has sought to maintain a balance of power in the region and make sure that there is no "regional hegemon" there. By contrast, Iran would undoubtedly prefer an imbalance of power in its favor, which is precisely the sort of situation the United States opposes.

This is not to say that American-Iranian rivalry is inevitable no matter who is in power in Tehran (or Washington), or that Obama's efforts to reopen dialogue with Iran's current government is misplaced. It is rather to suggest that reform (or even revolution) in Iran is not a magic bullet that will suddenly cause all sources of friction to disappear, and to raise the possibility that a smarter and more capable Iran might turn out to be more of a challenge than the government we are dealing with today.

So be careful what you wish for. (Now there's a good realist precept!) The triumph of the "Green Movement" in Iran might be desirable on purely moral grounds, but there is little reason to suppose that it would solve all (or even most) of our problems in the region. And that's all the more reason to resist the temptation to interfere within Iran itself: haven't recent events taught us that toppling foreign governments can lead to lots of unintended and undesirable consequences? "

No comments: