Foreign Policy Blogs


Be sure to check out this article by Claude Salhani in the Middle East Times.   Relevant to Bush's Middle East trip, a large part of which was dedicated to shoring Gulf states’ support for solidarity against Iran, it is titled “What Does Iran Want?”

That's a damn good question, and Salhani addresses it in his short article.   He toys with the idea of Shi’ite unity and of the tactical defense having a nuclear weapon would provide.   But it is at the end of his article that he comes up with a thesis not mentioned nearly often enough. 

The Iranian Revolution is fed by perpetual upheaval. Like any revolution, if it stops, it dies. This may partially explain the regime's involvement in fomenting unrest so that it can sustain itself. The greatest danger to the Islamic Revolution are not threats of a military invasion by the United States. Quite the contrary. These threats only strengthen the regime by awakening nationalist feelings. Indeed, the biggest danger to the Iranian regime would be for the United States to normalize relations with Iran.

That is an excellent point.  Most regimes, however lofty their goals may be when taking the throne, devolve into a desperate battle to retain power.  Not all revolutions are the same, but most fizzle into similar entropic states.    Keeping up tension is the only way to even partially sustain the energy needed to keep perpetual motion.    There are surely many factors to Iran wanting to be a major player in the Gulf, and for its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria et al, but when planning policy toward Iran it is important to remember that one of its motivations is merely the continuation of power.   It is vital not to play into that. 



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.