Commentary on The Case for Regime Change in Iran by William O. Beeman
The Case for Regime Change in Iran
Jamie M. Fly and Gary Schmitt
January 17, 2012
I was struck dumb with incredulity at Jamie Fly and Gary Schmitt's pronouncement favoring regime change in Iran in Foreign Affairs. First, what do these two gentlemen know about Iran? Apparently nothing. The Iranian public is already primed and on a hair trigger expecting that the United States is going to pull another coup like in the 1952 C.I.A. led overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddeq, building on despised neo-colonialist moves from Russia and Great Britain going back to the 19th Century. That perception of American hegemony is what precipitated the hostage crisis of 1979-80.
Anyone who came to power now with the help of the US would immediately be cultural poison to the Iranians. They might endure for a little while, but they would eventually be toppled themselves. This is why the Iranian opposition tells U.S. sympathizers: "Keep your hands off!" They know that the taint of U.S. involvement will doom anything they might do to eventual failure.
This doesn't even address the absurdity of trying to effect "regime change" in the first place in Iran. This Cold War fantasy is unrealistic on a practical level. The Iranians were well aware of the dangers of having a narrow power structure at the top at the time of the Revolution of 1978-79. Therefore they ensconced the most intricate set of interlocking leadership positions one could ever imagine in their constitution. Clearly the authors of this piece have not done minimal homework to ascertain this basic fact.
There is not one Iranian supreme leader in Iran, there are about 150 power brokers at multiple stages of government. Knocking off a few of them will never topple the government.
This article would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. The right wing will be touting it tomorrow as "proof" of the value of a military strategy against Iran. When the hawks are out screaming for attacks on Iran on the campaign trail as a cheap sop to naive voters, this is very dire indeed. That a respected journal would print such unmitigated nonsense is a sign of the depths of ignorance to which we have fallen in our assessment of Iran.