Reminders of the Soviet era — in Iran

I grew up during the Cold War, when it was accepted wisdom that the Soviet Union was in every way the economic and military equal of America. Certainly the Soviet Union was a colossus, and it was extremely successful at leveraging its assets, especially the Fifth Column it planted all over the West. The fact is, though, that at the end it was a Potemkin village. While its leaders were posturing on the world stage, its people were falling ever further behind until it collapsed of its own weight. East Germany did the same thing. So did Poland. One after another, the traditional bulwarks of the Communist side of the Cold War folded without a shot being fired.

I wonder if that’s what’s going on in Iran today. Even as its administration spends vast sums of money building nuclear bombs, and struts across the world stage hurling death threats, the Iranian people are collapsing under the weight of an unsustainable regime. Michelle Malkin and other bloggers highlighted the social repression and physical abuse the Iranian administration visits on its citizens. Their economic situation is no better:

At least one petrol station has been set on fire in the Iranian capital, Tehran, after the government announced fuel rationing for private motorists.

Iranians were given only two hours’ notice of the move that limits private drivers to 100 litres of fuel a month.

Despite its huge energy reserves Iran lacks refining capacity, forcing it to import about 40% of its petrol.

Tehran is trying to rein in fuel consumption over fears of possible UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Iran fears the West could sanction its petrol imports and cripple its economy.

While the BBC story paints this rationing as a preemptive strike against potential UN sanctions, the fact is that I’ve read repeatedly that the Iranian economy is in a shambles, with vast numbers of workers unpaid and restive.

This is not to say that the current Iranian regime can’t hang on for years or even decades longer, nor that it can’t wreck unimaginable havoc during the time it has left. Nevertheless, it does indicate that the most effective thing the West can do to topple Iran from its preeminent position as a Middle Eastern troublemaker is to put a tighter and tighter squeeze on it economically. Iran is no hermetically sealed North Korea, where leaders can placidly sit back and watch their citizens starve to death. It’s quite a vital society, with an educated, often sophisticated, population that has had one Revolutionary experience, and may not be afraid to try another one.

UPDATE:  The gas rationing is leading to rioting.  I hope, hope, hope that the West is exploiting this economic opening.

4 Responses

  1. Iranians were given only two hours’ notice of the move that limits private drivers to 100 litres of fuel a month.

    Without fuel, commerce and business literally shuts down. No consumers, no trade, no transport, Zero. It is what happens in the US if gas goes up too high as well. Profit can no longer keep up with the fixed costs of fuel transportation. Heck, shipping and handling is expensive enough, just imagine the drain on Online Shopping alone.

    Without a strong economy, the government’s tax revenues plummet. Without government funds, the military might not get paid and if the military dont’ get paid Book….

    I also wonder how much covert and black ops Bush has authorized for Iran. How much are SF operators working with local guerrilas in Iran?

    Despite its huge energy reserves Iran lacks refining capacity, forcing it to import about 40% of its petrol.

    I have prefered an Iranian economic strike personally, due to the fact that it also allows us to control Russia and China. We destroy Iran’s oil refinery abilities and production, China and then Russia will have to then play ball when we say it. There is no way Russia and China can stop us from blowing up Iran, not without starting a war. If we threaten the business interests of China, China will retaliate. If we destroy China’s business interests first, China will deal because they will see strength, not the US begging for help.

    A more extreme version that I also favor is unrestricted Submarine warfare against Iranian shipping. Without Iranian shipping, Iran is literally going to shut down.

  2. All excellent suggestions. It never ceases to amaze me how the potential risks of confrontation with Iran are always trumpeted, but the potential gains from a limited military solution are ignored.

    Iran seems to have very few cards to play, short of the nuclear trump.

  3. Alert,alert,Y is in his basement again reading his Marvel comic books on political espionage an intrigue.

  4. It’s Naruto, not Marvel.

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