Fight the West cannot win : Mail & Guardian Online: ” cannot see how all this confrontation will stop Iran doing whatever it likes with its nuclear enrichment. The bombing of carefully dispersed and buried sites might delay deployment. But given the inaccuracy of US bombers, the death and destruction caused to Iran?s cities would be a gift to anti-Western extremists and have every world terrorist reporting for duty. Nor would the ?coward?s war? of economic sanctions be any more effective.

By all accounts, Ahmadinejad is not secure. He is subject to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His foe, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, retains some power. Tehran is not a Saddamist dictatorship or a Taliban autocracy. It is a shambolic oligarchy with bureaucrats and technocrats jostling for power with clerics. Despite a quarter century of effort, the latter have not created a truly fundamentalist Islamic state. Iran is a classic candidate for the politics of subtle engagement.

This means strengthening every argument in the hands of those Iranians who do not want nuclear weapons, who crave a secular state and good relations with the West. No such argument embraces name-calling, sabre-rattling, sanctions or bombs.

Iran is the regional superstate. If ever there were a realpolitik demanding- to be ?hugged close?, it is this one, however distasteful its leader and his centrifuges. If you cannot stop a man buying a gun, the next best bet is to make him your friend, not your enemy. ? ? Guardian Newspapers 2006″

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