The Iran Deal Concretely

As text:

(explicated twitterei)

Emily L. Hauser@emilylhauser
Also going to repeat that in all our talk about leaders & diplomacy, we mustn’t forget the Iranians – they voted for this. #Iran

CK MacLeod@CK_MacLeod
#pt @emilylhauser which is why “threat” of the deal includes its making real a more complex view of the Iranian state

In other words, if Iranian voters demanded and received moderation, then to that extent at least the Islamic Republic (IR) is objectively or functionally democratic, is to that extent a mixed regime, a regime that we must view as at least potentially susceptible to evolution, already in part via suasion under the rule of public reason (unspoken but essential precept of “liberal democracy” as we justify it for ourselves).

By completing a deal, we therefore co-effectuate the realization or authentication of an objectively liberal-democratic tendency or potential in the Islamic Republic. We do not, of course, completely liberalize-democratize the IR. We offer it a partial and reversible, but all the same real and indispensable, for the moment undeniable, validation. Andrew Sprung grasped the notion as a political strategy, or diplomatic-political alternative to use of arms:

Want “regime change” in Iran? Empower the elected leader who wants to deal and was elected b/c he wanted to deal.

“Regime change” is, however, a sword that cuts both ways. For a brief moment during the last decade, the American regime became a regime changing regime, in the classic and unavoidable mode of becoming more like the enemy in order to fight the enemy. The widely perceived failure of the resultant policies set that change in reverse, however:

CK MacLeod@CK_MacLeod
#pt @emilylhauser furthermore, *American* people also voted for a deal, twice – for better or worse, this is a meeting of democratic demands

And so we receive a partial but undeniable democratic validation in return.

On this level and to this extent, at least, the American liberal-democratic regime remains functional. Though neither of our last two presidential elections was a referendum on an Iranian deal in isolation, of course, there can be little doubt that the Obama candidacy, and the re-elected Obama presidency, represented the collective preferences evident in the will to negotiate, formed at great cost and through hard experience, as borne out in multiple opinion polls – generally reflecting two to one proportions in favor of compromise with the IR – and also as reflected most recently in the broad refusal to back military intervention in Syria, and in broad indifference regarding particular outcomes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and well beyond.

CK MacLeod@CK_MacLeod
#pts @emilylhauser and symmetry extends to prior point as well, since for Iran deal realizes a more complex view of US/West than “satanic”

“Heroic flexibility” as endorsed by the Supreme Leader, now as ever, remains something of an oxymoron, or the best face possible from a religious-moralist and revolutionary point of view on the obvious contradictions entailed in reaching an agreement with the Great Satan, or, as contemporary Khomeinist ideologues apparently describe the West, “the global arrogance.” Symmetrically for Iran, reaching a deal with the West, and especially with the US, and specifically for the sake of the material welfare of the Iranian people, is consequential movement away from Islamic-revolutionary purity and simplicity. It does not end, but it points to the end of, to an alternative other than, a national career of martyrdom. It represents for now an opening or, as Obama put it famously, an un-clenching.

The unclenching should also should remind us that what Hawks most fear, or claim most to fear, the rise of Iran as a hegemonic power in the Middle East, would be a multi-sided process that would necessarily subject the Islamic Republic to change. That the IR might gain a kind of revolutionary second wind is conceivable, but any close consideration of its geopolitical predicament suggests insuperable constraints on its expansion, at least this side of the arrival of the Mahdi.1

Stabilization, cooperation, normalization, getting a haircut and finding a job in the world just like all of the other adults, is apocalypse for the party of apocalypse, not just in Iran.


  1. See Stratfor’s “Next Steps for the U.S.-Iran Deal” for a typically ideologically sober perspective on the same thought. []

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  1. Had a similar conversation with Karen the other day, although her cognitive style being highly metamorphic, produced quite a different experience, that is, a third discourse adding to the 2 you present here, the storify version I found much more enjoyable than I anticipated, kinda reminding me of whatever I remember or construct from my 40 some year old reading of McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy . She comes into contact with a lot of international students and scholars which produces an appreciation for example of Persian culture as experienced by Iranians, that is to say, for example, something thousands of years old that repeats and sometimes elaborates sometimes places in the background, themes of agency and empire that are almost never reflected in news and analysis in the US popular press.

  2. The Persians have conquered, the Jews, the Egyptians, took a shot at the Greeks, (Herodotus Histories)
    and they have been on the other side, with the Romans, the Arabs, (a significant portion of Tom Holland’s
    tales on the subject, the Russians and the Brits, had their share. that has little to do with current circumstances,

    • Well, of course the history as history is only history but that’s not what I’m meandering about, more a national identity that, as all identities undergoes constant revision and maintenance and invention and reinvention so is not reducible to the history although the history or the story of the history or the idea of the history is necessary even though not sufficient to understand the Human as well as geographical Terrain and that we encounter. I thought that was pretty clear, but maybe not.

      • Hence Santayana’s helpful tip, although if one insists on tabula rasa, then one learns nothing from the exercise, and is constantly surprised like Candide,

  3. No, they didn’t have that choice, Khamenei selected him, and allowed him to win, similar to Rafsanjani and Khattami, it’s sort of a ‘fool me twice, shame on me,’ with Rouhani,

  4. The Ayatollah has been steering the Islamic Republic since 1989, through all the years his fatwa was supposedly adhered to, from Rafsanjani to Rouhani, the last like Mousavian, who we invited to Princeton, inspite of the fact, that he lied and the 2007 NIE accepted that lie,

  5. Here’s the thing, the Israelis cannot take a chance that Iran will suspend, in the 50s when Nasser imported Nazi scientists, like Voss and Sanger, to build his rockets, not a few of them were on BND payroll, they did their thing, to prevent that program from coming to fruition, a not so young Yitsak Shamir was part of that, In the 70s, when the Gaullist Republic was playing footsie with Saddam, they targeted his scientists in Toulouse, and ultimately went after Osirak, a close call with genocide, can make one disregard the tender mercies of the international community, who bent and buckled over and sometimes exceeded the Nazis in their willingness to carry out their plans,

    • Israel not only can but must “take a chance.” The world does not offer 100% guarantees. It is also a false assumption, or typical maximalist exaggeration, that the attack on Osirak prevented genocide. We do not know that at all, and do not have to assume it in order to accept that Iraq without nuclear weapons was probably better for all concerned than Iraq with them.

      The depiction of the international community as Nazi facilitators is ironic if not amnesiac if not mad in this context, since the Israeli state as we know it was midwifed by the same “international community” that defeated the Nazis at war, and that under US leadership has especially since the ’60s protected and armed Israel, while never exerting pressure against Israel’s own nuclear program. Instead, Israel received unique treatment in that respect. Even India and Pakistan paid more for their nuclear club memberships. In short, the international community of 1938 is obviously not identical with the international community of 2013. Among other things, it now includes a prosperous and exceedingly well-armed Jewish state.

  6. They cannot rely on the international community, no matter what foolish notion Olmert spouts, and contrary to Dagan’s claims, one can’t rely on Stuixtnet, to solve the problem,’Most of the World’ in Marlow’s phrase, built up Iraq, the other half is in competition to so for Iran,

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