Lessons From Iran

What an exciting week in Iran! “I Need A Job,” Ahmandinejad, does need a job now. He is no longer President of Iran. Hassan Rohani has been elected. However, Bret Stephens warns us to be cautious in the coming weeks as the transition of power occurs.

Rohani is being described as a reformist, moderate, pragmatic victor, pragmatic Mullah, and a hopeful potential sign that Iran wants to be more cooperative. But, as Stephens states, “All this for a man who, as my colleague Sohrab Ahmari noted in these pages Monday, called on the regime’s basij militia to suppress the student protests of July, 1999, mercilessly and monumentally.” Does that sound like a reformist? Dozens of students were killed during this repressive action, while more than a 1,000 students were arrested, hundreds were tortured, and “70 simply disappeared.”

Stephens also reports that Rohani chaired Iran’s National Security Council between 1989 and 2005, using that as an assumptive foundation for assigning responsibility to Rohani of the masterminding of the bombing of the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. So is Rohani a moderate, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? We will see, but one must ask can a leopard change its spots?

In any relationship, political or organizationally, trust is the foundation. Right now the trust level between our two countries cannot get any lower. So maybe the only way we can go is up? Or, is this promise of moderation and new cooperation just a “exercise in diplomatic cunning?” We will wait to see.

What can Rohani do to begin to develop a higher level of trust with the West? Just like a manager who has violated trust with her employees, Rohani will need to start with meaningful communication. There needs to be a dialog between the parties to create common ground. Maybe some apologies on both sides would help. Then there needs to concrete changes. If Iran begins to limit its nuclear program, increase the human rights of its citizens, and open its borders to commerce, then the West can begin to reduce sanctions.

Does the President of Iran have the power to reform its society? Probably not, but as the WSJ has reported both the reformists of Iran and the Supreme Ayatollah trust Rohani. Maybe he will make a difference. Bottom line, I think he will be a better President than “I need a job.”

And that is my thought for the day!




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