The events of the past week have marked the end of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Does this mean the regime of the Mullahs will end tomorrow? No. However this is the utter end of Iran’s regime being seen by its own people, let alone the rest of the world, as a force or blueprint for expanding Islamic rule.
It appears the neocons where correct after all in this regard – all people want freedom. To be able to choose ones leadership is a right that is universally sought after, despite protestation of the anti-neocons to the contrary. In the eastern bloc, millions took to the streets to make this ideal a reality as did thousands in China, India, and elsewhere in the world.
A Spent Ideology
In Iran, the desire for the right to choose ones leadership was made apparent when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest what was obviously a rigged election. The people who did this, did so in the face of a brutal, thuggish Islamo-Fascist regime. These people ‘spoke to power’ when it mattered. They put their lives on the line, unlike the fools who do so here and claim heroism, the actions of the Iranians has been truly heroic.
Like Marxist-Leninism in the eastern bloc in the 80′s, the Iranian revolution in the 21st Century is truly spent. Thirty years of sharia law has only made western culture all the more alluring. The imposed cultural wasteland that is Islam has not created a new generation of Islamic zealots. Instead it has created a generation of secular Persians. This younger generation is not enamored of the Mullahs; it despises them for they are corrupt, brutal and narrow. The younger generation is not seeking to export the Islamic revolution, it seeks to be able to import designer jeans. Much like the youth in the eastern bloc did back in the 70′s and 80′s.
So which path? Will the Iranians go the way of China or Romania? In China the communist party made some key reforms in the 70′s that have to this point allowed them to keep power even in the face of the Tianamin Square massacre. Market reforms have brought wealth to the country. This wealth has allowed the government to stay in power, despite its fundamentally totalitarian nature.
With the market reforms wealth came to China. The young have their designer jeans, can go out to night clubs and enjoy many other creature comforts we take for granted here in the West. One of the big drivers in Iran is the economic failings of the central government. In China the workers are able to get their crust of bread; that is not a small thing.
Iran is one of the largest oil exporters in the world, but they need nuclear power? Iran, under the Shah, had educated its population, this has carried over into the Republic. Despite an educated populous, the standard of living in Iran has declined under the Mullahs. In China the standard of living has improved the past 30 years. In Romania the standard of living plummeted under its totalitarian socialist regime. The Romanian regime did not survive its bout of unrest at the end of the cold war.
In China, some freedoms where granted in order to keep the pot from boiling over. Western pop cultural was allowed to enter. People were allowed to travel. People were allowed to conduct business, and manage their own affairs. Though there are still many problems in China, the ambitious, the energetic have been given an outlet. An unfortunate side effect of all this activity is that the Chinese regime is now swimming in money. Money it uses to expand its military and to maintain control over the country.
In Romania the Ceaucescu regime reacted to the worsening economic conditions by tightening controls on economic activity and personal freedom. The end result there was the death of the regime and its leadership.
The Mullahs have two hole cards. Their regime still has its Basij Militia, and its Revolutionary Guard. These are the Brown Shirts and SS of the Iranian regime. The reason they are the hole cards is that unlike the security forces in the socialist regimes of the 20th century, these thugs are still inspired by their beliefs in an Islamic world government. The socialist credos of the 20th century did not wear well. If one looked in the eastern bloc and in China one would be hard pressed to find a revolutionary zealot, wild eyed and ready to preach Marxism to the masses. To find such a nut, must travel to Chicago or some university campus in the West.
So long as the Mullahs have this base they can hold on to power. If these two groups begin to question the Islamic oligarchy, then the edifice will certainly crumble. One wild card is the reaction of the Army to the thuggish behavior of the militias. It appears for now the Mullahs have kept the army in check. For a totalitarian regime to continue, there needs to be a corps ready to inflict violence on the restive masses; the Mullahs for now still have their power base.
China has managed this feat by keeping the masses less restive as noted above, and injecting a new rational into its cause: Chinese Nationalism. The Chinese secret police and other security organs are believers in an ascendant China. For now the regime there has managed to align itself with the vision of an economically and militarily expansionist China. Which is why they are growing their military to the tune of 10-15% a year and are making exclusive economic deals with anyone willing to sell them raw materials.
The Mullahs do not have that avenue for two reasons. The first is that Persian nationalism is distinctly non-Islamic in nature. The second is that unlike China, Iran is an economic basket case. The future is not certain for Islamic Republic. The question going forward for the Mullahs is will the government reform or will it try to wield its soon to be gained nuclear power. The first choice, may take the Mullahs down a path were they may survive. The second is akin to that of an angry three year old with a loaded pistol; akin to the disaster in North Korea. The question for the West is weather it will allow another pistol to become loaded.