Update to my previous post about Fareed Zakaria in Tehran:
Zakaria grows a pair and writes in the Washington Post:
The regime still has some domestic support, and it uses a mix of religious authority, patronage and force quite effectively. Sanctions have made people somewhat resentful of the West for hurting them more than the regime.And we keep forgetting the inconvenient fact that, even if the regime changed, the nuclear program — which is popular as an expression of Iranian nationalism and power — will continue.
Well, I suppose this is progress though he sounds quite grudging in making these points. "Some" domestic support? 80% of them turned out to participate in the presidential vote. 60% votes for Ahmadinejad. That's not just "some" support.
However he continues to promote yet another fallacy:
To be fair, the administration started out in 2009 by making overtures to Iran, which were rebuffed by its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Well, no, that's not what happened. Obama's "overture" to Iran was little more than a verbal ruse. He had extended sanctions on Iran exactly 11 days before making his "new begining" speech. Even before then, and within weeks of taking office, he had decided to keep a former Bush administration official in charge of sanctioning Iran in his administration too, had agreed to "work closely" with Israel on Iran's nuclear program, and his appointees were trying to undermine the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (which had concluded "with high confidence" that there was no nuclear weapons program in Iran.) After all, this is the same fellow who apppointed Hilllary "Obliterate Iran" Clinton as Sec of State, and Dennis "Israel's Lawyer" Ross to manage US policy in the Mideast. As Steven Walt noted:
We've made it clear that we think Iran's current government is illegitimate and ought to be replaced, and then we wonder why they don't immediately respond when Obama says he really does want to cooperate.
And rather than "rebuffing" Obama, Khamenei specifically said that Iran would judge the sincerity of the US based on actions not words:
In a televised address in the city of Mashhad, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama called for a new beginning in the troubled U.S.-Iran relationship, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: “We have no experience with the new American government and the new American President. We will observe them and we will judge. If you change your attitude, we will change our attitude.”...
The Iranian leader reiterated that his country was looking practical changes on the ground as a precondition for an engagement with the Americans. “Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime?” he asked.
Earlier, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a top adviser of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also stressed that Tehran was looking for concrete action from Washington so that ties could improve.
Actions to indeed speak louder