Monday, December 29, 2003
1) This is going to be another nail in the coffin of the clerical regime in Iran. They endured another similarly horrible quake in 1990 and seem to have learned nothing from it. As one Iranian observes in the column, the Teheran regime governs by idiotic Orwellian slogans ("Death to America"); the rest of the Middle East does this as well, only not as overtly. Anyway, an atrociously-handled natural disaster can only further reduce the legitimacy of the government, if that is possible.
2) The willingness of the Iranian government to accept American aid in this instance (after pointedly refusing on earlier occasions) is less of an indication of "greater openness" in the regime than it is of its weakness.
3) As Aaronovitch notes, leftists champion "traditional" building methods over "globalized" Western ones. I recall that 9/11 pilot Mohamed Atta wrote his doctoral thesis on how much he hated the Western skyscrapers that were appearing in Syria, supplanting the traditional souks. But the events of the last few days in Iran speak for themselves: There is no excuse for traditional Third World architecture in earthquake zones.