Los Angeles Times
By Robin Wright and Robert Litwak
Three decades of assumptions about
The Obama administration's offer to engage was the right idea. But the theocracy's brutal crackdown on the opposition since the June 12 presidential election, followed by the purge of senior politicians in show trials and an alarming increase in general executions, marks a turning point for
The three most important revolutions of the 20th century -- for their political innovation and impact -- happened in the
The shift in both the Soviet Union and China was partly tied to the maturation of revolutions, as Crane Brinton outlined in "The Anatomy of Revolution," which leads to the final stage of "convalescence" that plays out over years, even decades. The Islamic Republic is on the same trajectory. Its current uprising pits those trying to transform
In their civil disobedience since June, millions of Iranians also have indicated that they're ready for normalcy. The
The pattern of revolutions suggests, however, that a catalyst is required to trigger the critical transition. The spark has traditionally been one of three factors: a geo-strategic challenge, economic necessity or political exigency. In other words, a revolution needing to convert an enemy into an ally to survive.
In the 1960s,
Neither Stalin nor Mao became
In the early 1990s, Iran offered the most lucrative petroleum deal in its history to Conoco, to develop offshore oil and gas fields to help pay for postwar reconstruction and modernization demanded by a war-weary population.
In 2001, after the
Under the current circumstances, it doesn't.
Diplomacy centered primarily on
And if that diplomatic tactic doesn't work, simply slapping on more international sanctions (given stonewalling by
Yet a military strike is also likely to backfire, instead rallying Persian nationalism around the regime, just as Saddam Hussein's 1980 invasion mobilized support for the revolution at a time it was running out of steam.
The Obama administration would be well-advised to step back and recalculate what conditions would lead
Robin Wright, author of "Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the