Saturday, November 28, 2009

Iran's Economic Vulnerabilities

The Iranian nuclear issue is a problem of deeply layered complexity. Internally, Iran faces domestic economic problems, including lack of infrastructure financing and development in hydrocarbons, an upcoming expansion of its employable workforce, a population seeking less personal restraints, and a conservative political ideology that sees problems as zero sum rather than integrative. Support for Hamas in Gaza illustrates the prevailing attitude of non-engagement. Negotiation and cooperation are not the processes of choice for Iranian leaders because they appear "too soft" and "capitulating" to the western powers. Economic sanctions will strengthen internal political resolve to resist while the population suffers. The likelihood of a significant change in the government seems slight even with sanctions. Despite general unhappiness around lack of personal freedoms, the people still support a stable, if suboptimal, government. So what is to be done? First, keep Iran engaged in conversations with respectful disagreement. Second, no threats--if sanctions are needed, implement them incrementally after brief warnings. Third, take a very long term perspective on the problem by creating a policy that looks forward 10 to 15 years. Fourth, work towards solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict recognizing that Hamas will attempt to block peace. Fifth, move away from hydrocarbon dependence to change the dynamics of the world energy economy. An integrated, nuanced set of solutions is the real answer; not political hyperbole with no chance of success.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


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