Predicting the Future of Iran

As a Baha’i, I’m very interested to know the future direction of Iran; not only because it is the Cradle of the Faith, but because the direction that Iran takes has real effect on the lives of all Iranians and especially, the beleaguered and persecuted Baha’i community.

Here is a presentation from Bruce Bueno de Mesquita at TED on applying rational choice theory or game theory to make 3 predictions on the future of Iran. You can watch it fullscreen by clicking on the bottom right icon below:

predicting-the-future-of-iran

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita runs, Mesquita & Roundell, a consulting company and he seems to have a knack in predicting very obscure but important turning points in world events:

His first foray into forecasting controversy took place in 1984, when he published an article in PS, the flagship journal of the American Political Science Association, predicting who would succeed Iran’s ruling Ayatollah Khomeini upon his death. He had developed a rudimentary forecasting model that was different from anything anyone had seen before in that it was not designed around one particular foreign-policy problem, but could be applied to any international conflict. �It was the first attempt at a general mathematical model of international conflict,� he says. His model predicted that upon Khomeini’s death, an ayatollah named Hojatolislam Khamenei and an obscure junior cleric named Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani would emerge to lead the country together. At the time, Rafsanjani was so little known that his name had yet to appear in the New York Times.

Even more improbably, Khomeini had already designated his successor, and it was neither Ayatollah Khamenei nor Rafsanjani. Khomeini’s stature among Iran’s ruling clerics made it inconceivable that they would defy their leader’s choice. At the APSA meeting subsequent to the article’s publication, Bueno de Mesquita was roundly denounced as a quack by the Iran experts—a charlatan peddling voodoo mathematics. �They said I was an idiot, basically. They said my work was evil, offensive, that it should be suppressed,� he recalls. �It was a very difficult time in my career.� Five years later, when Khomeini died, lo and behold, Iran’s fractious ruling clerics chose Ayatollah Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani to jointly lead the country. At the next APSA meeting, the man who had been Bueno de Mesquita’s most vocal detractor raised his hand and publicly apologized to him.

Source: The New Nostradamus

The 3 predictions are:

  1. Iran will develop the capability and experiment but won’t develop a bomb
  2. Iran’s theocratic ruling elite will somewhat change with the traditionalist Qom clergy and the bazaari or merchant class strengthening in political power
  3. Ahmadinejad’s star will continue to fade (presumably meaning that he will not be elected – although he didn’t explicitly state this)

Foreseeably, this has several consequences for Baha’is in Iran. The first thing I noticed is that he didn’t predict a downfall or even a weakening of the theocratic government of Iran. Second, the bazaari or merchant class is one of the principal agents behind the establishment and momentum of the Hojatieh Society. Any improvement in their political capital means that Baha’is will be in further peril. Finally, the prediction that Iran will stop short of developing or testing nuclear weapons means that the international community will, for the most part, continue the status quo of tolerating Iran while maintaining a watchful eye and restricting their trade access.

Although the swift reduction in the price of petroleum has severely damaged Iran’s economy, according to this prediction, the theocratic regime will muddle through. Perhaps with the merchant class gaining the upper hand and implementing more market friendly policies. Whatever the details, the danger of remaining in Iran continues for Baha’is. My sincere wish is for the safety of those who are still in peril. The only sure way for them to mitigate this risk is to say farewell to Iran. And to glory not that we love Iran, but that we love all the world and humanity by finding a safe home elsewhere.

  • Craig Parke

    Am I the only person that is having a very hard time navigating around on BR? I understand about the "Last Activity" technique, but still I can't reach many posts. I find this new system completely confusing. What am I not understanding in how to use this new system? Help!!!

  • Craig Parke

    Am I the only person that is having a very hard time navigating around on BR? I understand about the "Last Activity" technique, but still I can't reach many posts. I find this new system completely confusing. What am I not understanding in how to use this new system? Help!!!

  • Grover

    I'm having difficulty too, mainly finding peoples comments buried amongst the threads. Using the last activity helps but a lot of the time its still difficult to find what people have said.

  • Grover

    I'm having difficulty too, mainly finding peoples comments buried amongst the threads. Using the last activity helps but a lot of the time its still difficult to find what people have said.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    I hear you, I hear you… and I'm working on it. Hopefully things will be resolved soon. Just bear with me for a little bit. I'm mindful of all your feedback and appreciate it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    I hear you, I hear you… and I'm working on it. Hopefully things will be resolved soon. Just bear with me for a little bit. I'm mindful of all your feedback and appreciate it.

  • farhan

    Baquia,
    the blog is functionning quite well now with Internet Explorer; congratulations for your efforts.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Baquia,
    the blog is functionning quite well now with Internet Explorer; congratulations for your efforts.

  • farhan

    The future of Iran has been the subject of an Internet poll that estimates 3.4% of women and 3% of men between 20 and 29 consider themselves as Baha'is:

    http://www.iranpresswatch.org/post/2437

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    The future of Iran has been the subject of an Internet poll that estimates 3.4% of women and 3% of men between 20 and 29 consider themselves as Baha'is:

    http://www.iranpresswatch.org/post/2437

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    farhan, unfortunately because this study lacks a transparent methodology and is an online survey it is meaningless. See Barmak’s comments for details. As a medical doctor I’d like to imagine you have an eye for such things – but then again…

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    farhan, unfortunately because this study lacks a transparent methodology and is an online survey it is meaningless. See Barmak’s comments for details. As a medical doctor I’d like to imagine you have an eye for such things – but then again…

  • Farhan

    Well, it only concerns online Iranians of course, and a serious study would be totally impossible in Iran today, but it does coincide with what other non evaluated sources report about what goes on in Iran and although unreliable, I find it meaningful, but then again…

  • Baquia

    Do I really need to point out that an online survey is meaningless? C'mon Farhan, you're a sharp guy. Anyone could have taken that survey. How are we to know they were actually Iranian? and the fact that it was online means that there was an obvious bias in sampling. This stuff is so simple, I feel sheepish detailing it, especially to someone who claims they are a doctor of medicine. Didn't they go over research methodology in your med classes?

  • bahaullah

    the future of Ahmadinnerjacket is Jail or worse

  • bahaullah

    the future of Ahmadinnerjacket is Jail or worse

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  • Nathan Fleischman

    That is Ahmadinejad.