So this is neat… my first article ever for the Maroon was covering a 2007 talk by Middle East scholar Michael Rubin, who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School. Rubin’s talk was about how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He argued very strongly against using military pressure against Tehran.
“There is no magic formula [for success] right now,” said Rubin. The solution, he said, must come from an internal shift among the people, most likely via grassroots democracy-oriented programs like the recent union of Iranian bus drivers, the first union of its kind in Iran.
Whether the U.S. should support such programs is another source of debate. Rubin advocated the practice, saying that the government should allocate funds to support things like labor movements in Iran. “The people are generally apathetic [about the government],” he said. “In a theocratic government, you’re going to oppose any reform movement or democratic trend that might undercut your authority [and] nuclear weapons give you a shield. You can have 12, 13, 14, 15 Tiananmen Squares and there’s nothing anybody can do.”
As of Monday, it looks like Rubin was arguing that the Ahmadinejad regime was not going to fall, and he sided with the neocons in slamming Obama’s muted response. The LA Times has some longer commentary from him in a point-counterpoint series with Matthew Duss, a national security researcher and writer at the Center for American Progress. Rubin advises Obama to avoid overenthusiasm in engaging the Iranian government (whatever it might be) and maintains that the Mousavi crew won’t be toppling the government any time soon.