Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Assorted on Iran

Bueno de Mesquita on Iran and Threats to U.S. Security;
Ahmadinejad is the President of Iran, but virtually all power there is held by the Supreme Council. Has veto power, can remove people from office; all people elected including Ahmadinejad serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Council. Interviews, Ahmadinejad ranked 18th in terms of power. At odds with most people's public perception. Maybe he's 17th or 19th; but he's not 3rd or 4th. He is a very outspoken man, says many outrageous things, so he gets a lot of news coverage. Came to power by election from being mayor of Teheran by carving out a constituency of not-very-well educated who saw in him someone who would advance Iranian nationalist sentiment. His power has faded and his party keeps losing by elections. Media attention also because American media has poor or no access to Ali Khamenei, head of the Supreme Council, most powerful person in Iran. Putin had audience with Khamenei; Western leaders only get to see Ahmadinejad. Why would Khamenei want Ahmadinejad in power? Good for floating trial balloons, has a salutary effect in terms of foreign policy; has convinced some people that the Iranian leadership is irrational, and in doing so have attained a certain amount of deterrent clout. Very Schellingesque (Thomas Schelling, Nobel Prize winner), soft application of game theory to national security problems, brinksmanship. Strategy that if you convince the other guy that you'll drive off the cliff, the other guy gets pretty nervous about it.

Iranian interior minister's fake Oxford diploma

When the the obviously faked diploma hit the Web, it caused a popular firestorm in Iran, with calls for Kordan to step down immediately if he can't produce the real thing. The Iranian Web site that first revealed the bogus document has now been blocked inside the country. Some analysts even think Ahmadinejad may have set Kordan up to embarrass his likely rival in the next presidential race, Ali Larijani. Kordan is a former aide to Larijani, who is also speaker of the parliament and looking slightly worse for the wear as the controversy continues.

New Ministers in Iran May Quash Ahmadinejad’s Economic Plans

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