Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Friday, July 19, 2002
Yet another article today on the endgame in Iran. (Link from Pejman.)

This graf is particularly startling:

In a further sign that the regime was losing its grip, it then confined its police to barracks in Isfahan, as it had done the previous day in Tehran -- doubting their loyalty. Instead they sent foreign thugs with paramilitary training, chiefly Palestinian and Iraqi Arabs, and Uzbeks and Tadzhiks from Afghanistan, to beat the demonstrators down. It was a desperate measure -- an implicit acknowledgement that the whole Persian people have now sided with the opposition.

One more sign of a dying regime: when you can't trust your own security forces, it's time to keep your bags packed for a quick 'pilgrimmage' to sunny Saudi Arabia.

And when the Iranian people regain their freedom, don't think they won't remember how Palestinian mercenaries served as the last-ditch enforcement arm of their oppressors. As noted here yesterday, the coming free Iran can be expected to have close relationships with both the US and Israel, as does Turkey and for largely the same reasons.

With Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and 3 former Soviet Republics on its borders, Iran is literally surrounded by unstable countries, some of them having various claims on Iranian territory. Russia itself is no longer a direct neighbor, but still has coastline on the Caspian Sea, and the various claims of the nations bordering on the Caspian Sea to fishing and oil exploration rights have not yet been sorted out.

Iran needs a strong ally without territorial ambitions in the area, and that's the US, as it has been for a century. In 1907 Engand and Russia, both fearing the rising power of Germany, decided to settle their disputes and and redrew the map of Iran (then Persia), dividing it into a northern zone of Russian 'influence', meaning de facto sovereignty, a southern British zone giving England control of most of the Persian Gulf coast, and a central zone which was left for the current Shah. No Persians were consulted on the division of their country, or even informed until after the fact.

This took place during the Constitutional Revolution. Persians who were fighting against both a reactionary monarchy and foreign imperialism looked to the US for help, and although the US in that era avoided direct involvement in such distant disputes, two Americans did play important roles.

Morgan Shuster, who had carried out a similar role in the Philipines, tried to put the finances and administration of the Constitutionalist government on a rational footing, although he ultimately failed and was forced back to the US by British and Russian interests. Howard Baskerville, who had come to Persia as a missionary and teacher, became a leader of the military resistance in Tabriz, and died fighting for the city.

Later, more internationalist US administrations did play a significant role in ensuring a fairer deal for Iran in their share of the profits from the British oil concession, and played the key role in blocking Stalin's attempts after WWII to install a puppet government in Teheran, or regain the former Russian sphere of influence in northern Iran.

Israel is another ally dictated by geopolitical logic. Countries on the edge of the Arab region, such as Israel, Turkey and Iran, or the Islamic region, such as India, tend to find themselves targeted for attack in one way or another. This is even more true of peoples and territories that aren't recognized nations such as the Southern Sudan, Spanish Sahara, and East Timor. Turkey has been largely spared as a NATO member - Turks must be more than a little jittery at the recent talk of the 'end of NATO'. But Iran, India, and Israel certainly haven't been. Since Israel has sophisticated technologies often matched only by the US, in some areas even better than the US, and unequalled expertise in standing up against Arab/Islamic attack, it becomes a natural ally.