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:
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 Iranâ€™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. â€?It was the first attempt at a general mathematical model of international conflict,â€? he says. His model predicted that upon Khomeiniâ€™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. Khomeiniâ€™s stature among Iranâ€™s ruling clerics made it inconceivable that they would defy their leaderâ€™s choice. At the APSA meeting subsequent to the articleâ€™s publication, Bueno de Mesquita was roundly denounced as a quack by the Iran expertsâ€”a charlatan peddling voodoo mathematics. â€?They said I was an idiot, basically. They said my work was evil, offensive, that it should be suppressed,â€? he recalls. â€?It was a very difficult time in my career.â€? Five years later, when Khomeini died, lo and behold, Iranâ€™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 Mesquitaâ€™s most vocal detractor raised his hand and publicly apologized to him.
Source: The New Nostradamus
The 3 predictions are:
- Iran will develop the capability and experiment but won’t develop a bomb
- Iran’s theocratic ruling elite will somewhat change with the traditionalist Qom clergy and the bazaari or merchant class strengthening in political power
- 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.