If it fails, I argue that we still have to engage Iran, just like we continued to engage China after Tiananmen Square. Doing otherwise will guarantee more totalitarianism, not less – is there any evidence that sanctions and diplomatic isolation have ever had a positive effect on an autocratic regime?
It it succeeds, I argue that it’s not going to be quite the nirvana that some imagine. Iran will still desire nuclear weapons (with good reason, IMHO). It still won’t exactly be friendly to Israel, since both countries aree seeking regional hegemony in the same sphere (think China and the former USSR – never best of friends even with ostensibly identical government systems, unlike the two I’s). And frankly the election of Moussavi still doesn’t solve the constitutional obstacles to genuine reform and freedom in the Iranian society.
Fundamentally, Iran will be an Islamic Republic no matter the outcome. The question is, just how diverse is the space of possible Islamic Republics with respect to a free society? Reihan Salaam has a speculative piece about the best possible outcome, but the actual Iran v3.0 that ultimately emerges will depend a lot upon how we the United States engage Iran moving forward.