An Asia Strategy for Iran

The only clear lesson to emerge so far from Iran’s disputed presidential election is that the country has a vibrant and dynamic civil society, which means there is real hope that Iran can change, modernize, and open up, just as the rest of Asia has. Indeed, the West should stop trying to isolate Iran and instead encourage it to engage more with Asia.

SINGAPORE − When the ongoing turmoil surrounding the Iranian elections finally ends, the West is likely to walk away with a simple black and white judgment: the bad guys won. Of course, the West did the right thing by supporting the good guys, the street demonstrators. Hence, the West need not bear any responsibility for the outcome.

The tragedy of such thinking is that it does not allow for any moral and political complexity or nuance, yet that is exactly what will be needed if the many problems surrounding Iran are to be resolved. Moreover, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remaining as Iran’s president, the West will once again resort to its usual method of dealing with unfriendly regimes: impose more sanctions. But this would lead to an even greater tragedy.

The only clear lesson to emerge from Iran’s disputed presidential election is that the country has a vibrant and indeed dynamic civil society. Many brave Iranians were prepared to risk their lives to defend their beliefs. Their ability to do so confirms that Iran is not a closed totalitarian state like North Korea. Despite many years of rule by a theocratic establishment (or perhaps because of it), Iranian minds remain open and engaged.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/o4283xJ;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now