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Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:22 PM

Is Iran a Rational Actor? We're About to Find Out


Bobby Ghosh
BloombergJanuary 6, 2020
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Caveat emptor: Anybody who claims to know how Iran will respond to the killing of Qassem Soleimani is either a liar or a fool. The history of the Islamic Republic provides few meaningful pointers, because it has never been here before. None of its foreign enemies has taken out a figure of comparable importance to the Tehran regime.

No Iranian military commander of Soleimani’s standing was killed in the 1980-88 war with Iraq. The nuclear scientists assassinated — presumably by Israel — in the 2010s were important to the regime, but hardly as influential as the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force.

The 1988 downing of Iran Air 655 by an American warship provoked similar outrage, but the military and political impact of Soleimani’s death exceeds even the collective weight of the 290 people killed on that aircraft. So it’s not safe to conclude that, because Iran never acted on solemn oaths of revenge then — “The criminal United States should know that the unlawfully shed blood in the disaster ... will be avenged in the same blood-spattered sky over the Persian Gulf” — that it will not do so now.

Its response to Soleimani’s death-by-drone will answer a question that has attended every discussion about Iran since 1979: is the Islamic Republic a rational actor?

Plenty of smart people — including military men such as General Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff — say it is. Other foreign-policy thinkers take the more nuanced view that Iran is rational without being reasonable: It has different priorities from those of its enemies, but its behavior is entirely logical in the context of those priorities.

My own view is that the regime has just one priority: its own perpetuation. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has demonstrated repeatedly in his three decades in charge that his sole objective is to preserve the peculiar form government that vests him with vast power over his people with little accountability. But his pursuit of that priority is as likely to be informed by ideology as it is by logic, as much by paranoia as it is by pragmatism.

Consider the regime’s visceral hostility toward Israel, with which Iran has no borders and no history of conflict — and, indeed, a record of mutually beneficial cooperation until the Islamic Republic chose to make it a bogeyman. A pragmatic Khamenei would, at the very least, ignore Israel; only ideology, and an imagined enmity, prevents this.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/iran-rational-actor-were-131008912.html

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Reply Is Iran a Rational Actor? We're About to Find Out (Original post)
at140 Jan 2020 OP
Pachamama Jan 2020 #1
dewsgirl Jan 2020 #5
Thomas Hurt Jan 2020 #2
at140 Jan 2020 #3
evertonfc Jan 2020 #4
Voltaire2 Jan 2020 #6
SWBTATTReg Jan 2020 #7

Response to at140 (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:23 PM

1. Irony is that they may end up being more rational than the Trump Administration

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:42 PM

5. I'm hoping.🤞

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Response to at140 (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:24 PM

2. When the POTUS is batshit crazy it plays well to be the rational actor.

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Response to at140 (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:29 PM

3. My guess is Iran's response, if any, will be proportional

whatever that means. All I can hope is that there are no innocent civilian casualties.

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Response to at140 (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:30 PM

4. He has little choice

 

If he makes any moves that that kill Americans- this administration could annihilate him in days. What are his choices.

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Response to at140 (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 03:48 PM

6. Israel did not assassinate Soleimani, we did.

They are going to retaliate as they have to retaliate, and they will retaliate against us. That is the 'logic' of these things. Authoritarian leaders like Khamenei and Trump cannot allow themselves to look weak and remain in power. And it is entirely rational, even if the result is an all out war.

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Response to at140 (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 04:07 PM

7. I think the better ? is rump a rational actor? And we already know the answer to this ?. NT

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