A type of, a sort of, example of - or at least a lesson about - what I mean by "a different path" can be found in some news out of Iran of recent weeks.
You may recall I was ambivalent about Iran deal, the one of lifting economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program, because it seemed to me to be a case of imperialism, of big nations bullying a small one into doing what they wanted and doing it over a supposed nuclear weapons program which I was never convinced existed. But I ultimately approved of and supported the deal because I thought its failure would be worse, that it would open door to increased pressure for, and likely would lead to an actual, military attack on Iran.
Sometimes good things come out of bad. Because it can fairly be argued that it was that agreement and the associated lifting of sanctions that provided the political opening for the dramatic victory of reformist and moderate conservative parties in the elections for the Iranian parliament that took place a few weeks ago. Reformist parties won 85 seats in the 290-seat body, with the moderate conservatives winning 73 more.
Meanwhile, hardliner parties lost 44 seats, dropping them down to 68.
Together, the reformist and moderate conservative parties have an absolute majority in parliament and are expected to work together, at least on economic issues, and overall President Hassan Rouhani will face a friendlier parliament as he tries to push for some increased social freedoms and for reforming the economy.
|Iranian President Hassan Rouhani|
The changes, however, are unlikely to be dramatic; the hardliner old guard, primarily in the person of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, still has a strong grip on power. Indeed, some say such changes will not come at all, claiming that many of those who ran as reformers or moderate conservatives are actually hardliners and the Guardian Council, which vets election candidates, screened out all the real reformists.
But even that, while disheartening to the extent it's true, gives some cause for hope: The very fact those people had to label themselves reformers in order to get elected points to the shifting nature of the Iranian electorate, a shift also revealed in the fact that 60 percent of the population of Iran is under 30 and they show much greater interest in let's call it a less-rigorous lifestyle and politics than do their elders.
So even though I thought that the whole confrontation with Iran need never have happened, the fact remains: Ditch the threats, ditch the war mongering, reach an agreement both sides can live with - and then this happens. Some will insist it was a coincidence, some will insist the nuclear agreement had nothing to do with it. Bluntly, I'm not buying it.
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