Iran’s current government leaves much to be desired, but would the installation of a less ideological, more democratic government actually be desirable for the US and its allies? Maybe not, writes Stephen Walt. For example, Mir Mousavi, Ahmadinejad’s jilted rival in the last “election,” agrees with the clerical regime on the country’s right to full nuclear capability. Driven by Persian pride, another regime could be just as belligerently expansionist and much more effective at pursuing its goals.
Imagine an Iranian leader who instead of giving “stupid and counterproductive speeches questioning the Holocaust conducted an adroit public relations effort designed to show how reasonable Iran was being in the face of ‘unjustified’ US pressure,” Walt writes in Foreign Policy. For all its failings, the current regime keeps in place the US goal of having no “regional hegemon” in the Persian Gulf. Under more effective leadership, Iran could become such a leading nation—and the West might not like the results.