My recent post on the mullocracy's mounting troubles did not specifically predict when it would fall but I examine that near the end of this post. My thesis was that the system cannot be sustained much longer. Sadegh Bozorgmehr argues it is "wishful thinking" but I stand by it. The regime is doomed. Obviusly no one can say exactly when it will fall or who will play the key role when it does.
Bozorgmehr writes "We're approaching the 33rd year of predictions claiming IRI is on it's last leg. Every year we have said this, using almost the same exact arguments." Both sentences are indisputable fact. What is not logically is the conclusion he draws--that past predictions of doom mean any present one must also fail. Who predicted Assad's present predicament just 15 months ago, even though likely sources of discontent in Syria appear much smaller than those confronting the Islamic Republic today?
The best example of such reasoning involves the Soviet Union in 1983 which enjoyed far greater resources than Iran has today and far more ability to isolate its people and keep them uninformed. In that year Marshall Goldman, Wellesley Professor who specialized in the Soviet Economy produced an outstaning, much maligned book entitled U.S.S.R. in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System. The book is in no way technical or filled with jargon but I recommend it as a "must read" to any Iranians interested in analysis of how and why seemingly entrenched regimes fall. You can't beat it on that topic and I certainly owe Goldman a debt in how I apply analysis here.
Despite Goldman's strong credentials his book was almost universally panned. His critics overrelied on the indisputable fact that a long history of failed predictions existed, then misapplied it without even considering specific details (factual) and persuasive arguments put forth by Goldman, who became known as "the bad boy of Soviet economics" by Sovietologists. Less than a decade later Goldman critics in turn would be inundated with "How could you not have forseen this?" questions? Unlike his critics, Goldman wasn't surprised when the USSR went down. He could not know exactly how or when it would happen but what it did know is why the USSR could not continue much longer, why it had to decline would occur rapidly, and why that decline could not be halted.
Goldman's thesis rested on two central points that apply as well to Iran today though specific details differ. First, earlier predictions failed because they did not take into accunt certain resources or conditions that enabled the Soviet system to survive and progress temporarily in spite of well-known and massive inefficiencies. The latter were the basis of earlier preditions andare described in detail). Goldman's contribution is to who why most of these one-time advantages were gone for good If that were so (and Goldman showed as much) then the USSR would go downhill fast, no matter who replaced Brehzhnev.
Some of the previous advantages that enabled a massively inefficient system to survive were: a greater ability to use fear (reduced by insiders after Stalin's death because they had been the main target of his purges), the once abundant manpower and cheap natural resources which could be squandered to increase performance, a previous easily capacity to conceal western economic evolution and ideas (endanged by changing technology as in Iran), and the shift in modern economies away from heavy industry (where government-run or command economies do best) to consumer-oriented light and service industries (where government-run economies flounder badly).
EXACTLY HOW LONG WILL THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN SURVIVE?
Just as Marshall Goldman could not say when and how the end would come for the USSR but could guarantee it was coming so too for theIslamic Republic--like the USSR it is on the downside of a bell-shaped curve in terms of multiple crises striking at once.
Except for oil, everything that made once made the Islamic Republic viable (and mocked earlier predictions mainly from optimistic emigres) is n longer available to sustain the regime. Nothing did more damage that the total lost of trust stemming from the rigged election of 2009, its aftermath and subsequent failures. You see its irreversibility in the regime's failure to suck one-time refomers into the upcoming elections. I've already written about six Failure Areas as visible to the regime's supporters as to its critics.
As a leader Khamenei combines the ineptitude and sloth of Breszhnev or Czar Nicholas II with the endless brutality of Stalin. It is hard to imagine a worse candidate and one so lacking in foresight holding the command position in the IRI at a time at when the system still had a chance at drastic change (the Khatami presidency). I doubt it can survive a few more years but if it does, look for a transitional, comprise leader like the ineffective Chernenko or a hardliner like Andropov (Mojtaba). You may even see a Gorbachev, as in 1983, there are insiders who see doom approaching. Like Gorbachev, they will not be able to save the Islamic Republic now even if empowered to do so.
THE FINAL EXPLOSION
It's ironic that the uprisings of two years ago and the regime's "success" in putting them down seem to be the only thing keeping the IRI afloat. The middle class has been intimidated and its former leaders neutralized. I predict the explosion, when it comes, will be sudden with the working class leading this one, as in Syria. If those demonstrations can't be stopped at the kindle stage--if they become large, widespread and continuous, expect significant political and military defections soon afterward--some based on revulsion (especially among the rank and file) and some (politians, clerics, higher level military) based on a desperate attempt to salvage something from an obviously sinking boat. As I've already noted, the uprising will likely receive outside help, especially if the regime uses air power or engages in mass slaughter.
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