As Barack Obama extends an olive branch to Iran, I have a sinking feeling this might go all to hell.
My concern does not stem from the potential for appeasement of the arch-conservative Shia regime of the Ayatollah. Mere days before his Nowruz message President Obama extended US sanctions on Iran for another six months, saying the country presented an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the well-being of the United States and its allies. The Nowruz message itself, careful not to lay blame on the average citizens for the repeated incendiary statements and actions originating in Iran, did remind all parties that greatness as a nation does not extend from the ability to sow destruction. The implication, I feel, is fairly clear. Continued support of terrorism and power by force is not something the major powers of the world will tolerate for long.
I think the real tragedy here may be born out of the naïve, albeit well-intentioned, wish to do business with a state that has no intetion to be an active part of a global and democratic community. Despite often-cited elections, Iran is no democracy. It is run by an Ayatollah. Period. A closed circle of power, brought about by a complex election system, all but guarantees power is vested in this one man. The Ayatollah is supposedly appointed and regulated by a directly elected body, the Council of Experts, but all meetings are kept secret and this Council has never flexed any of the supposed muscle it has. This might be because all directly elected candidates must first be vetted by the Guardian Council. This Council is half appointed by the Ayatollah and half elected by the judiciary, though all candidates are offered up by the head of the judiciary who is (you guessed it!) appointed by the Ayatollah. Check out this page to further explore the vagaries of Iranian democracy.
So what’s my point? I want to explicitly illustrate that the United States is not dealing with a democracy, replete with elected leaders that reflect the feelings of the populace. We are dealing with a despotic state posing as a democracy.