Interesting op-ed in WSJ by Israeli political researcher who explains his rather sophisticated attempts to surreptiously measure democratic attitudes across Iran. It's a very impressive effort, really.
Left scale says Iran is terribly undemocratic, but bottom scale says Iranians are middle of the pack on democratic aspirations, meaning the argument that says "Iranians get what they deserve/want/etc" is absolutely wrong. It's not an authoritarian society - just an authoritarian government.
Yuval Porat's final words
Our findings demonstrate that Iranian society as a whole is characterized by a pro-liberal value structure that is deeply at odds with the fundamentalist regime. This presents considerable potential for regime change in Iran and for the development of liberal democracy.
You can read that statement two ways:
- If you take the kinetic route on regime change, you will ultimately be rewarded; or
- The soft-kill approach is the way to go.
While I have written that I think Israel will be hard-pressed not to attack in the end, I still maintain - as I have since 2005 - that the soft-kill on Iran will work. To me, the soft-kill is the detente here, just like it was with the Sovs. Open up ties, admit the regime is valid, blow off the nuke pursuit (which grants Iran nothing in terms of leverage with anybody - including already nuked-up Israel), and let the connectivity that results do the rest in terms of regime delegitimizing from within leading to eventual democratization.
Ultimately, this strategy - and not Star Wars - brought down the Sovs, and it can do the same on Iran - in far faster order.
Not a risk-free path, nor one that obviates unpleasant developments along the way (Russia, for example, is still a pain in the neck), but it does work. It dismantled the Soviet system and it can do the same with the IRGC-dominated mafia-system in Iran.
Find Porat's full report at www.iranresearch.org.