Iranian Demography and American Grand Strategy

Natalists rejoice! A few weeks ago, I linked to an item describing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for an Iranian baby-boom. Yesterday, in a column about the proliferation of Iranian prostitution, the Asia Times columnist called “Spengler” provided some insight into Ahmadinejad’s probable motivation — an Iranian birthrate slowdown on a scale more commonly associated with European population trends (h/t Instapundit)…

As the most urbane people of Western Asia, the Persians grasped the hopelessness of circumstances quicker than their Arab neighbors. That is why they have ceased to bear children. Iran’s population today is concentrated at military age; by mid-century, today’s soldiers will be pensioners, and there will be no one to replace them.
That is why it is folly to approach Iran as a prospective negotiating partner, and meaningless to offer the clerical government security guarantees, for the threat to its security arises from within. Once a people has determined to extinguish itself, nothing will prevent it from doing so. There is no doubt as to the demographic data, which come from the demographers of the United Nations.
There is a difference, of course. Euro depopulation is generally attributed to people being too complacent about their welfare-state existence. Spengler suggest Iran’s problem is rooted in too much despair…
It is not just poverty, for poor women bear children everywhere. In the case of Iran, deracination and cultural despair impel millions of individual women to eschew motherhood.
If the data quoted by Spengler is accurate, Iran is now in full or partial retreat on two grand-strategic fronts. 1) As Spengler discusses in detail, Iran is showing signs of the internal malaise common to totalitarian states and 2) the Iranian economy has likely passed its high-water mark. Unless there is a sudden and steep decline in the price of oil, alternatives to conventional oil are going to become economically viable on a permanent basis. Either scenario, lower prices or more alternatives, means less cash for the Iranian government, meaning more despair and more internal stress. (Totalitarian states are not good at facilitating diversified economies).
The important points here relate to the work of the Iraq Study Group. Does it make sense to offer an enemy state “security guarantees” at the time when the internal structure of its society is crumbling? If the forces that hold Iran together are openly starting to break down, then isn’t this the ideal time to put a policy of containment — a real policy of containment, i.e. pressure aimed at changing the nature of an enemy regime, not the lumpencontainment of Bill Clinton or Colin Powell, which is nothing more than holding the line and hoping for the best — into place?

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