Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Mr. Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist, is looking at
the virtual dialogue between Iran and the US through indirect signals and is looking forward to suggestions from Iranian bloggers. The next two posts are my contribution to this debate.
What I will try to describe is the following: (i) a working, yet simple theory of the nature of the Iranian regime; (ii) the objectives that must be pursued by the American foreign policy; (iii) a practical strategic program in order to achieve these objectives. In this post I will describe parts (i) and (ii). Part (iii) is posted separately
.Iranian Regime: How Tyrannies Survive?
The Islamic Republic regime of Iran is a tyranny. For the purposes of this writing, the detail mechanisms of the IR tyrannical rule in Iran's conditions do not matter so much. They do matter, however, when one is devising specific or tactical policy plans, which is beyond the scope of this piece. Instead I limit myself to the general mechanisms of the tyrannical rule, which should be adequate for planning strategic policies.
A tyranny sustains its rule internally through a cycle of repression and misinformation to keep the society closed. This could go on indefinitely if people would or could still produce efficiently and live happily under tyrannical rule. However, a direct consequence of tyranny is that it cannot possibly employ the society's various internal capacities effectively. Against exponentially mounting economic and social hurdles, a tyranny invariably needs a mechanism through which it can supply the needs of the society from external sources without compromising the powers of its rulers. This is the most important function of a tyranny's foreign policy. It is also its Achilles' heel.Foreign Policy Objectives: The Case for Democracy
What should the objectives of the foreign policy of a free country, or collectively, of the free world be toward a tyranny? This is a contentious issue. Understandably, any foreign policy does and must pursue the interests of the people for which the policy has been devised. I argue that the foreign policy that best serves the interests of the people of a free country is one that promotes and seeks the establishment of a democracy anywhere in the world. Most importantly, it must seek the replacement of tyrannies with democracies.
There are many moral and practical reasons for my argument. Instead of going through them in detail, I present one reason that is often mistakenly used in opposition: security. By its nature a free country's first task must be the protection of the lives and freedoms of its citizens. This raises the issue of security as an important foreign policy objective. However, lasting and reliable security can only be negotiated and acheived with democratic countries.
A tyranny may tactically accept or even initiate security agreements, but the purpose of such agreements is to supply its needs without compromising its tyrannical rule. So, it may soon calculate that the current security agreements are not enough or necessary for its survival, at which point it would see no need to honour them. A democracy, on the other hand, has no such incentive and even strong disagreements between democracies never create direct security problems for the parties. More importantly, democracies have every incentive to find a solution for their disagreements and continue to cooperate with each other on many levels seamlessly and often quietly even though they might vocally disagree on a few issues. For recent examples of the two cases one may look at the relationship between US and Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and the US and France or Germany, on the other.
In short, a tyranny, even a friendly one, is always a security threat. A democracy, even one that disagrees with us, is never so.Read the rest here.