What standards should the world use to judge the incoming Iranian administration in order to avoid the dangerous prejudices of the past decade? Iran has been on the defensive for 150 years but now happens to have some real diplomatic opportunities. Will Iran's leaders have the skill to seize their moment?
The war party in Washington has been weakened while it has been strengthened in Israel. This split opens the door for creative Iranian diplomacy. Washington has accepted Iran's legal right to enrich uranium; Iran claims it is morally precluded from owning a nuclear weapon. Now is the moment to resolve what suddenly appears to be a non-problem: define "transparency" as a virtue and take credit for leading the world into a peaceful future. Netanyahu's extremism and Obama's politeness fairly invite Tehran to score points by playing nice, an easy thing to do once you get what you want. Iran now has what it says it wants on the nuclear issue; now is the moment for Iran to prove it...and thereby start a process of getting some of what it wants on other issues (respectful treatment, release of impounded funds, acceptance at regional diplomatic fora, access to technology) as well.
The world will have to take its time about judging the new Iranian regime. After all, Obama has now been in office over 100 days and is only just scratching the surface of the change he promised. But this is a good time to lay out an analytical framework for judging the performance of Iran's incoming administration in order to minimize the myths and lies that have so dangerously characterized Western opinion about Iran for the last several decades.
The framework below was designed as a generic method for analyzing the performance of any political system. Over the coming months, it will be used to support an evaluation of Iran's new administration.The framework prompts the user to address the following questions, among many others:
- Functionality: How well will Iran's administration provide for the common good?
- Growth: Will Iran's new administration promote growth in healthy, beneficial directions?
- Learning: Will it demonstrate the ability to learn from new external inputs?
- Vision: What kind of a vision of the desired future will it define?
- Strategy: Will Iran's new administration devise a strategy that successfully implements that vision?