Will Iran Fall?

Responding to my declaration that the Iranian regime's "fate is as sealed as those tyrants in Moscow two decades ago," Larison cautions:

[It] could be that the regime could lose control, but this is far from certain. Indeed, it seems to be getting more improbable every day. So how can we say that the fate of the current Iranian leadership is “sealed”? The tyrants in Moscow accepted that their fate was to lose power. On the whole, to the extent that they gave up power, they went quietly. The Chinese and Burmese governments have offered different examples to follow. Following these examples, Iran’s leadership apparently believes it can outlast the protests and remain in power.

So far, the opposition has given them and the rest of us little reason to think otherwise.

Why do I bother writing this? It is certainly not because I like the way things are. It is not simply to be contrary. Neither am I interested in assuming the worst about the situation just to do it. The danger in thinking that the regime’s fate is “sealed” and believing, contrary to evidence, that Tehran is isolated in the world is that it encourages misguided policy decisions. If one believes that Tehran is extremely isolated, pursuing sanctions of one kind or another might seem much more practical. It is only when we recognize that Tehran is not isolated and has many partners and allies around the world that we see the futility of going the sanctions route. If one assumes that the regime’s fate is “sealed,” and we just need to wait and watch the collapse happen, that militates against negotiations and engagement, and it encourages hawks to lobby for increased pressure and confrontation to try to push the regime over the edge.