Back in February, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a professor of political science at New York University and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, made some interesting predictions about Iran that, in the light of recent events, bear examining.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has been called by many the “New Nostradamus” for the accuracy of some of his predictions based on a computer model developed over many years using principles of games theory to political science.
According to the Next Big Future, those predictions were
“1. Iranian government will tone down its nuclear ambitions to the point where it will develop weapons-grade nuclear material only for research purposes
“2. Real power rests not with the mullahs or even with the Supreme Leader, but with what he calls the ‘moneyed interests’ of Iranian society: ‘the banker, the oil people, the bazaris’. Currently quiet and moderate mullahs will become more vocal.
“3. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s influence will decline and has been in decline.”
What seems to be missing in these predictions is that the mullahs would attempt to maintain their power in Iran by, in essence, stealing an election to ensure that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would stay in power or that a great many people in Iran would react so violently to this ploy. The two possible outcomes, either total suppression of the uprising in Iran or some kind of regime change, introduces hitherto unforeseen factors that Bruce Bueno de Mesquita seems not to have taken into account.
Still, the analysis of Bruce Bueno de Mesquita bears some examination. If he is correct and the influence of what he calls the “moneyed interests” and moderate clerics is on the rise, then that suggests an opening for people in the West to try to influence rapidly changing events in Iran. Perhaps President Barack Obama has the right idea in pursuing diplomatic dialogue. He just has the wrong idea about who to have it with.
Instead of trying to deal with the current regime, the hard line mullahs and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who if nothing else has become a liability to the mullahacracy), perhaps contacts should be made with the people Bruce Bueno de Mesquita identifies as gaining more and more influence in Iran. If the uprising succeeds in effecting regime changes, the business community and the moderate mullahs will have even more influence than Bruce Bueno de Mesquita predicts.
On the other hand, if the regime succeeds in crushing the uprising, all bets are off in the near term at least. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita’s prediction that Iran won’t build and test a bomb may have to be altered. A regime that had just had a near death experience may want to assert its power by becoming a nuclear power, with all the implications for world peace that entails.
Sources: Is Bruce Bueno De Mesquita the New Nostradamus?, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, December 1st, 2008
Bueno de Mesquita Predictions on Iran, Next Big Future, June 23rd, 2009