Jim Lobe comments on the bad arguments from Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh I’ve addressed in recent posts. He notes that their assumption that the Iranian government is on the verge of collapse doesn’t seem to have anything backing it up:
It’s not clear why this comparison has surfaced so abruptly. Its proponents don’t cite any tangible or concrete evidence that the regime in Tehran is somehow on its last legs. But I’m guessing that months of internal policy debate on Iran has finally reached the top echelons in the policy-making chaos that is the White House these days. And the hawks, encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s rather offhand statement late last month that Washington favors “peaceful” regime change in Iran, appear to be trying to influence the internal debate by arguing that this is Trump’s opportunity to be Ronald Reagan. Indeed, this comparison is so ahistorical, so ungrounded in anything observable [bold mine-DL], that it can only be aimed at one person, someone notorious for a lack of curiosity and historical perspective, and a strong attraction to “fake news” that magnifies his ego and sense of destiny.
It isn’t unusual for Iran hawks to make arguments without any evidence. Almost all of the arguments against the nuclear deal were riddled with bogus claims and distortions. They insisted that Iran couldn’t be trusted to keep its end of the bargain, and yet Iran has been in compliance with its obligations all along. They warned that the deal would be a massive “windfall” for Iran, but the predicted flood of cash never materialized. Hallucinatory warnings about the expanding “Iranian empire” that doesn’t exist have become commonplace over the last few years, and they have also been shown to be false. In the wake of the Green movement protests, Iran hawks repeatedly asserted that the U.S. had missed an “opportunity” for regime change, but that just showed that they badly misunderstood the political realities inside Iran. There was never any chance for regime change then, and there is unlikely to be much chance for it now. If you embrace the opposite of the conclusion that Iran hawks reach, you will be much closer to the truth all the time. The fact that they think Iran’s government is teetering and under great stress suggests that the opposite is the case.
The funny thing about this is that hard-liners and neoconservatives back in the 1980s were among the most vocal defenders of the view that the USSR was much stronger and more threatening than anyone else believed. They were the least likely to imagine that the Soviet system would collapse on its own, and they were constantly urging more aggressive measures because they assumed that the Soviets were in much better shape than they really were. It is rather comical that their ideological successors are now so convinced of the fragility of Iran’s regime, and they seem to be accepting it in the hopes that they can dupe the current administration into pursuing a policy of regime change by making it appear relatively easy.