With no awareness of the fact that the only viable pluralist republic ever established in the Islamic world, Turkey, was established in the context of a war against Islam: an open and unapologetic effort, which continues in many ways, to limit the power of political Islam. Modern-day State Department wonks wouldn’t dare formulate a strategy including such an effort — and that’s why this proposed effort in Iran, as well as the Iraq democracy adventure, have only dim chances of succeeding. Of course, in Iran State can capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with the regime. But the Shah had already established a modern pluralist republic and yet still suffered a backlash: the Sharia impulse will not just disappear. More on that in this article I wrote over three years ago (it starts with “NO” at the bottom of the page.)
From the Financial Times, with thanks to JE:
The US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran, according to officials who see the joint effort as the start of a new phase in the diplomatic campaign to counter the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme without resorting to military intervention.
A newly created Iran Syria Operations Group inside the State Department is co-ordinating the work and reporting to Elizabeth Cheney, the senior US official leading democracy promotion in the broader Middle East.
“Democracy promotion is a rubric to get the Europeans behind a more robust policy without calling it regime change,” a former Bush administration official commented.
The new direction, the former official said, reflected a growing belief in the US and UK that diplomacy through the United Nations and partial sanctions were unlikely to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. In the absence of a credible military solution, the argument went that international diplomacy could try to slow down the nuclear programme while more “robust” efforts continued towards the ultimate solution of regime change, he said.