This revolution will not be secularized…

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…completely. Roger Cohen, in his powerful piece on Iran in the current New York Review, tries to capture the mix of anti-clericalism, religiosity, and secularism he witnessed during last month’s post-election protests:

In that moment, the crowd seemed irresistible, too large to be harmed,
too strong to be cowed, and it was as if the whole frustrated
centennial Iranian quest for some form of democratic pluralism, some
workable compromise between clericalism and secularism that denies
neither the country’s profound Islamic faith nor its broad attraction
to liberal values, had welled onto that broad avenue.

What Cohen witnessed was “a fundamental battle between
nationalist-revolutionaries and reform-minded internationalists…stirred by President Obama’s overtures.” His bottom line:

A great desire and a great rage inhabited those rooftop cries. I hear
them still. Iran, thanks in part to the revolution, now has many of the
preconditions for democracy, including a large middle class, broad
higher education, and a youthful population that is sophisticated and
engaged. If Khamenei and the revolutionary establishment deny that, as
they did with violence after June 12, they will in the end devour
themselves. When that will be I do not know, but Iran’s government and
people are marching in opposite directions. I do know that if the
hard-liners maintain their current tenuous hold, the one way they will
lock it in for a long time would be if bombs fell on Iran. Offers of
engagement have unsettled the regime. Military confrontation would
cement it.

Ugly Thought: Perverse though it seems, this suggests that a shaky Iranian regime might want there to be a military strike against its nuclear facilities–and self-interestedly provoke it.

  • To add my own ugly thought: I strongly suspect that the neocons’ willingness to accommodate such a desire comes more from them wanting a destabilized, and therefore more vulnerable to manipulation, Iran, rather than a democratic one.