What if two-thirds of President Obama’s cabinet came from the same white militia movement in Idaho?
That seems to be the situation in Iran. Yesterday I wrote that Iran’s rulers were in no danger as long as the military and police remained loyal to the government. Today, the New York Times has an op-ed by two scholars who argue that the Iranian military has actually seized control of the government.
The mullahs may appear to be in control, but power effectively rests with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, of which Ahmadinejad was a former officer, according to Danielle Pletka and Ali Alfoneh at the American Enterprise Institute. Like Hitler’s SS, the IRGC functions as both an elite military force and as a politically reliable army that the regime can use for sensitive tasks like training terrorists and suppressing dissent.
I knew that the IRGC owned large parts of the Iranian economy, but I never realized that 14 of the 21 cabinet officers appointed by Ahmadinejad are veterans of the Revolutionary Guards.
What’s happening in Iran sounds like what happened in Russia, where hopes that Communism would fade into democracy withered as Putin and cronies from the KGB took power.And Putin is no improvement over the Communists, as the Chechens and Georgians discovered. If Russia seems less of a threat internationally, it’s because Russia is weaker, and not because the Kremlin discovered peace and love.
This worries me. A lot. The Shiitev clerics who took power in the 1979 revolution were dangerous, but they could also be relied upon to do stupid things, like prolonging an eight-year war with Iraq, and stifling the economy. As the IRGC gains more power, I suspect the will be more flexible, perhaps allowing enough democracy and dissent to let Iran’s young people to blow off steam, yet still keep an iron grip on power. But they will be even more determined to make Iran the supreme power in the Middle East, where the world gets its oil. They will continue to develop nuclear weapons, because that will give them influence. They will wage an undeclared war against Israel and sponsor Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In other words, instead of an Iran ruled by fanatical clerics, we will have an Iran ruled by fanatical storm troopers. That’s scary.