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January 12, 2018

FORREST NABORS: Why The Time Is Ripe For A Free Iran.

If different types of political regimes are plants that grow, the soil is the people, and different types of soil determine what kind of political regime is possible in a given nation. The rise, prosperity, or fall of a political regime depends upon the customs and temper of a people that have developed since time immemorial and are not easily changed.

This important insight was once commonplace when the classical analysis of political regimes was the starting point in understanding nations’ politics, but political science in its modern form no longer teaches our young citizenry in this way. This is why you will not find many journalists or analysts in the media or government who can convincingly explain the prospects for democracy abroad.

The cost of this change in education is apparent in the last 15 years of American foreign policy. The Bush administration expected Western-style democracy to immediately take hold in Iraq after it toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The Obama administration expected the same following popular unrest during the Arab Spring. Noble though the goals of those administrations were, an intelligent citizen informed by Bernard Lewis’s “What Went Wrong” and educated in regime analysis could have foreseen that efforts to establish stable democracies in place of removed Arab tyrannies would encounter profound difficulties.

In Iran the case is different. Iranians are a great people well prepared for successful self-government and boast one of the oldest and most refined cultures in human history. Unlike Sunni Islam, their version of Islam always recognized the separation of mosque and state, a tradition that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini struggled to reconcile with his goal of preserving Islamic purity in modernity. He finally abandoned the attempt, but that tradition is still remembered by Shiites and has shaped the political principles that they hold today.

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