Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Most Powerful Man in Iran
Mike Rappaport

Is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. Rather, it is the holder of the post Supreme Leader, who, according to the constitution, "has the last say in internal and foreign policies, control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and control of state broadcasts." That man is Ali Khamenei, who took over for Ayatollah Khomeini. The very impressive Bueno de Mesquita rates Ahmadinejad only the 18th most powerful person in Iran.

This all comes from a podcast interview with de Mesquita. If you are concerned about Iran and wonder whether the United States or Israel should bomb them, this is a must listen to podcast. I don't agree with everything Mesquita says, but his track record is amazing. In fact, I strongly recommend all three of de Mesquita's podcasts on Econtalk.

In a nutshell, de Mesquita argues that Iran is rational -- especially the real rulers, such as Ali Khamenei, and that the rhetoric of Admadinejad is useful as a threat, but not to be taken too seriously.  He also says Iran would like to have the capacity to build a bomb, but would probably not build it to completion, because that intermediate state would maximize their power.

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Mike Rappaport


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