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Iran's strategic choices (and ours)

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Russia warned Iran Monday to expect delays in launching the country's
first atomic power station, adding to mounting pressure on Tehran to
compromise with the international community over its controversial
nuclear program.

Harold Feiveson, co-Director of the Woodrow Wilson School's Program on
Science and Global Security at Princeton University, has observed that
while Russia's threat to cut off support for Iran's nuclear program will
surely increase pressure on Iran to knuckle under to international
pressure, the Russian threat might, conversely, increase Iran's
determination to escape reliance on outside support for its nuclear
program, and thereby harden its commitment to its own nuclear
independence. _
It seems to me that:

 >From the Iranian perspective, it's all going to come down to a tug of
war between two sets of very strong influences : on the one hand (1) a
justifiable concern for Iran's geopolitical security, (2) a long and
proud tradition of Persian nationalism, (3) an understandable impulse to
defy Western military and political bullying, (4) a natural desire for
self-reliance and self-determination in all things, and (4) an
underlying sense that the principles of justice and equity in
international relations should allow Iran to do what a number of other
states in similar circumstances have been permitted to do.

Against these factors favoring defiance, the Iranian leadership must
balance a strong desire of their own people for peace, modernization and
economic progress, a significant degree of internal pressure for social
liberalization, and prudence, pragmatism and instincts of
self-preservation in the face of credible threats of military punishment
in the face of stubborn non-compliance.

_THAT is a very difficult set of choices to make_.  Who really knows
which influences will prevail in Iran today?  Everyone seems to have a
different answer. But_ either way_ the issue is resolved in Teheran, the
United States of America will survive. So will Israel.  Of that I am

Unfortunately, the calculation is made more difficult by an equally
unpredictable contest between two sets of very strong impulses on our
side.  On what I would call the negative side, three factors: (1) the
American cultural imperative that says others should be compelled to
behave as we think is best for both us_ and_ them (carried to an extreme
by neocon doctrine), combined with (2) artificially stimulated paranoia
about an "existential" danger posed by Iranian nuclear technology and
(3) irrational and misguided fear of some vague Islamic ambition to
conquer and destroy Judeo-Christian civilization.  These negative
factors are struggling with, and balanced againist, a set of positive
factors:  faith in the endurance of our value system and the capability
of our cultural, economic and political institutions (not to mention our
enormous military establishment) to survive and to coexist in reasonable
harmony in the competitive environment in which we find ourselves in
today's world  ---- without resorting to another self-destructive and
hopelessly stupid preemptive or preventive war.  (In practical terms,
that means arriving at an acceptable level of mutual deterrence with
competitive societies with which we encounter difficulty establishing
fully cooperative and trusting relationships --- like Iran at the moment.)

Now THAT, I believe, is a very easy question to answer on a the positive