The First of Seven Signs
Longtime readers of this blog know how highly I respect Steven den Beste's work; he's a brilliant analyst and a gripping writer. One of the best things he ever did with USS Clueless was compile his Essential Library, a collection of articles that he feels are so important they should be read by everyone looking to understand the relationship between American politics, international politics, and the current war. I agree with him and reference those articles often.
Today I happened across this article over at The Inquirer (no, not The Enquirer) about how the Iranian hardliners are once again clamping down on reformist speech and politics. I immediately thought of one of SDB's essential articles, Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States by Ralph Peters. The Iranians are burdened with at least five of Peter's seven signs, but perhaps none more obviously than the first ... and it shows glaringly in the light of today's Inquirer piece. I urge all of you to read both articles completely; you will find empirical verification of Peter's theory and gain significant insight into why Iran is such a deeply troubled place.
I suspect that Iran might be the real powder keg of the east. All of the other Islamist Theocracies and Arabian Thugocracies - even belligerent Syria - seem at least capable of enacting reforms. Iran seems different to me, though; like North Korea it is a true police state, but one mixed thoroughly with fanatical religion. If a general war erupts in that area - which is, thankfully, far less likely with Saddam gone - look for Iran and it's hardliners to be at the center of it.