HEADQUARTERS ARMY UNIVERSITY–OFFICE OF THE PROVOST, FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas— The Command and General Staff College Cultural and Area Studies Office hosted a presentation on ‘Trends and Directions in Post-Protest Iran’ Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Fort Leavenworth’s Lewis and Clark Center.
Dr. Michael Rubin, senior fellow, the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, was the featured speaker. Combined Arms Center Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. David Foley gave opening remarks and Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov, CASO director, acted as moderator.
“The main question for today’s discussion, in support of the U.S. and our partner’s national security objectives, is ‘how do these events shape the potential threat from Iran?’, and ‘how should we address the possible prospects and outcomes in a post-protest Iran?’” said Foley.
“Our CASO panels enhance our understanding of the quickly changing dynamics of regional and global geopolitics to arm our leaders with a depth of knowledge that appreciates the complexity and nuances of such global issues,” said Foley.
Introducing the discussion, Ibrahimov said they would explore government strategy and how protests might end. The event would also examine how protests differ from previous experiences.
Rubin said his goal for the session was to look at “how history informs us, some of the issues related to what’s going on in Iran,” and “some of the trends … as to what could possibly happen worse.”
“As consumers of intelligence, we tend to focus on what it says,” said Rubin. “Just as important is to understand the holes in the intelligence are and to understand how what we don’t know, even 40-plus years after the Iranian Revolution, shape our policies moving forward.”
Iran has a near contiguous history going back more than 2,000 years. “It would be a mistake only to start analysis of Iran and the Iranian problem set today with the Islamic Revolution of 1979,” said Rubin.
“There’s certainly been a protest movement in Iran that seems to have increased momentum over recent years,” he said. “There’s also been a protest movement prior to the revolution. To understand and contextualize the protest movement today, it is important to understand some of the issues that arose from the protest movement back in the late 19th Century.”
He then explained how advances in communication, from telegraphy in the late 19th Century to today’s internet, have enabled the mass political movement. He also said Iranians have used protests when they feel their government is doing something that adversely effects the country or the people.
In recent years, there were protests about the economy, the lack of water, and the treatment of women. “The protest movement today has completely delegitimized, and permanently delegitimized the Islamic Republic,” said Rubin.
“Because of the protest the government no longer has the claim to popular legitimacy that they once tried to make,” he said. However, he said that doesn’t mean the protests will result in change or reform. He discussed four elements that impact the probability of change: Could security forces fracture? Is there unity to the protest movement? Who opposes change? and, Where does the bureaucracy stand?
Following Rubin’s remarks, he took questions from the audience attending in person and from those attending via CGSC’s Facebook Live.
This presentation is part of a seminar series discussing issues of operational and strategic importance to the U.S., that CASO in coordination with CGSC, universities, think tanks, interagency and other partners conduct every two to three months. CASO events are available via video teleconference and live streamed on CGSC's Facebook page.
The combined CASO YouTube and Facebook videos and the related slides are typically accessible within four business days after a scheduled event at the CASO website.
CASO website: https://armyuniversity.edu/cgsc/caso/caso.aspx
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/USACGSC