Why Not Empower Iranian Entrepreneurs?


Those such as Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson who advocate increasing economic ties with China often argue, persuasively in my view, that China’s economic development is likely to lead to political reform and a more cooperative international disposition.
Why then do these same officials refuse to acknowledge the potential benefits of engagement with Iran?
Farah Stockman’s article in today’s International Herald Tribune explains how the Treasury Department is actively working to prevent Iranian nationals living in Dubai from partnering with locals to start their own businesses.
The article notes that, “[The government controls] an estimated 85 percent of Iran’s economy. But many of the Iranian businesses in Dubai are run by small traders from Iran’s tiny, struggling private sector, which is often at odds with officials in Tehran.”
These entrepreneurs seem like just the kind of outward-looking, progressive elements within Iranian society that we should be seeking to empower.
I hope that the next president takes advice from those like Flynt Leverett and others who have laid down the parameters for a policy of engagement.
Ben Katcher


6 comments on “Why Not Empower Iranian Entrepreneurs?

  1. John G. says:

    Thank you for promoting the eminently rational foreign policy position (which you share with Dr. Leverett) of enagagement with Iran. You and Dr. Leverett represent the small minority of foreign policy analysts/advisors who have the courage to advocate a strategy that serves the best interests of the US as opposed to those of a particular special interest group.
    As US relations with Russia deteriorate we are faced with the hugely critical geopolitical choice of either pushing Iran towards Russia or pulling Iran towards the US. The choice/goal should be obvious as well as the strategy that would acheive such goal.
    If the next administration, whether Obama or McCain, desires to implement a foreign policy strategy that truly places the interests of the US above all else, then it must enlist Dr. Leverett (and Hillary Mann Leverett).
    I implore you to save us from our current foreign policy madness by undertaking a massive “Draft Flynt” campaign. 🙂


  2. ... says:

    i agree these are good questions, but they ignore the point that johnh brings up – energy being an important driver in usa/iran relations… add to that a military industrial complex that thinks being at war is more productive then not, and you have some of the answers to your questions… keep asking these questions though as they help to highlight these same issues that are fundamental to usa/iran relations..


  3. PrahaPartizan says:

    Steve, these are very good questions. I would also point out that the conservatives insisted that positive engagement with the former apartheid South African regime was essential if we were to have any leverage with that government. As usual, conservatives believe in a double-standards in life — one for my pet projects, another for yours.


  4. Mr.Murder says:

    IBM’s Asian marketing HQ was in Iran during the hostages crisis. Same block as the embassy, around the corner in Tehran. Nary a stone was thrown or flag burned there.


  5. samuel burke says:

    why then do these same officials refuse to acknowledge the
    potential benefits of engagement with iran?
    does washington have this affect on journalist?
    the elephant in the room is oppressive isnt it?
    one reason…and one reason only.
    the answer is a country and a lobby.
    why didnt jimmy carter get to speak at the dem convention?
    dems diss jimmy carter
    by alan m. dershowitz
    frontpagemagazine.com 9/11/2008
    “it is long been traditional for living ex-presidents to be invited
    to address their party’s quadrennial convention during
    presidential election years. the fact that jimmy carter was not
    invited to give the traditional address was no accident. nor is it
    true, as jimmy carter has falsely claimed, that it was he who
    made the decision not to speak to the convention. the
    democratic party, and its leaders, made a deliberate decision not
    to invite jimmy carter precisely because they so fundamentally
    disagree with the bigotry toward israel and its jewish supporters
    that he displayed both in his mendacious book palestine: peace
    not apartheid and in his subsequent television appearances.
    i must admit that i am not an unbiased observer. i played a role
    in seeking to persuade the democrats to disinvite carter. i made
    it clear that i could not support a party that honored a bigot like


  6. JohnH says:

    More curious yet, why isn’t the Bush administration praising privatization in Iran. Isn’t that what his corporate supporters want–freedom to own Iran?
    Of course, the answer is simple: energy. Unless Iran surrenders its energy sector to Western domination, no deals are possible, whether it is working with entrepreneurs or multinationals buying privatized government enterprises.
    Once again the analysis fails to note the key driver of US-Iranian relations.


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