Working for the Clampdown

Neil MacFarquhar has an excellent report in The New York Times about the extraordinary scope of the current crackdown in Iran, which extends beyond the high-profile arrests I'd heard about to a wide-ranging assault on improperly dressed people ("150,000 people — a number far larger than usual — were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic") and a more forceful assertion of press censorship.

The point seems to be to try to shore up the regime's political position in the wake of serious economic problems -- they're on the verge of needing to institute gasoline rationing -- and, one supposes, to try to elide the fact that these problems are being worsened by the government's attitude toward the nuclear weapons issue. It's all very bad news for Iranians, but sort of suggests to me that the sort of policy the Bush administration has been pursuing in terms of sanctions may well bear fruit if it's continued for a bit and put on course for possible future intensification.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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