Niall Ferguson is Professor of History at Harvard University and a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, as well as the author of the excellent Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Ferguson has a column in this morning’s London Telegraph that should not be missed, warning that things can go from bad to very much worse in Iran: “Iran’s revolution is in its infancy – but it may have just found its Stalin” Ferguson is no fan o the Bush Adminstration’s foreign policy and makes an odd argument that seems to imply the world was better off with Saddam balancing Iranian power in the region, but his crucial forward looking point is the capacity for evil in revolutionary regimes in their infancy:
It is the old revolutionary story: the generation forged by revolutionary war turns out to be more belligerent than the generation who led the revolution itself. Significantly, Ahamadinejad’s main election backers were the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basiji, the paramilitary popular militias formed during the Iran-Iraq War. Ahamadinejad is himself a war veteran – one of hundreds of thousands of Iranians who came of age under fire.
So where do we go from here? Plan A – the European carrot – has failed. Plan B – the flaccid UN stick – will also fail. Unfortunately Plan C – American (or Israeli) air strikes – is fraught with peril. According to Michael J Mazarr of the US National War College, Iran could retaliate with “an elaborate, ferocious, global provocation designed to draw the United States into a protracted conflict”.
That translates into more terrorism in our cities and an escalation of the war in Iraq. “If Iran wanted,” Iraq’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Al Bayati said in February, “it could make Iraq a hell for the United States.”
Now, ask yourself, what would be the likely effect of such a confrontation on Iranian politics?
To repeat: the Iranian revolution is still at an early stage. It has not yet produced its Bonaparte, its Stalin, its Mao. Or has it? A full-scale war with the “Great Satan” may be all Mr Ahmadinejad needs to don that bloody mantle.
Read the whole thing. Perhaps it is because I listened to David Allen White lecture in part on Stalin and Solzhenitsyn on Friday night and thus am very aware of the different scales of evil in the world, but this is a chilling column even without a recent review of the 110 million Russians the Soviets sent to the camps or their graves.
Then review Dean Barnett’s latest on where the left side of the blogosphere is driving the Democratic Party. There is a civil war already underway within the Dems, and it is not being won by the party’s regulars.
And bravo to the President of the University of North Dakota for standing up to the NCAA’s thought police. Since when did the sports guys and gals take over American higher education? If they can’t even solve the BCS craziness, why would we expect the NCAA to have any insight into issues like which mascots are acceptable at American universities? The world’s got major problems and hugely difficult challenges, and it doesn’t need educrats creating noise in order to attract attention to their pet causes.