by Daniel Pipes
February 11, 2010
As protesters prepare to gather and the regime flexes its muscle, where does Iran stand? The regime, its grip there, its place in the world? The democracy advocates’? National Review Online asked our experts to assess the situation in Iran and how the international community should react. (For replies by Peter Brookes, Jeff Fortenberry, Jamie M. Fly, Victor Davis Hanson, Peter Hoekstra, Michael Ledeen, Paul Marshall, Michael Rubin, and Benjamin Weinthal, click here.)
Today marks the Islamic Republic of Iran’s 31st anniversary and so offers an appropriate moment both to reflect on its works and speculate about its future.
Looking at achievements, the Khomeinist regime has survived great challenges — especially an eight-year war with Iraq — and succeeded in forwarding its Islamist agenda. By exploiting many tools — religion, subversion, terrorism, carbohydrates, and potential WMD — it has become the world’s foremost security threat.
Beyond this hard shell, however, one discovers deep vulnerabilities. Domestically, there’s impoverishment, rampant inflation, drug addiction, and human trafficking, and what one analyst calls the country’s “galloping demographic decline.” These problems have inspired widespread alienation from Islamism and even from Islam itself, devastating street protests, and a split in the regime’s leadership.
Internationally, the regime’s bellicose stance has both split the Middle East and spawned enmity around the globe. In particular, its nuclear-weapons buildup could trigger an unprecedented world crisis.
Looking ahead, if the regime’s days are indubitably numbered, the agency of its demise remains unclear: millions on Iranian streets, a Revolutionary Guards coup d’état, American aircraft, or an Israeli electromagnetic pulse bomb?
However it dies, Khomeini’s creation has yet to deliver its full measure of death and destruction.