Much is being written about the clash between Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. The two most important things about this spat have so far eluded even the most learned of analyses.
First, if this is a clash, it is more akin to Trotsky against Stalin than, say, Lech Walesa against General Jaruzelsky. The outcome will be a choice between bad and worse. And second, the outcome is a foregone conclusion – the Islamic Republic of Iran without a Supreme Leader (or with a Supreme Leader who has to bow to the president) is no longer the Islamic Republic of Iran – it’s a bit like the Soviet Union giving up Communism. When these two principles are taken into account, interpreting the clash becomes much easier – since the outcome is a foregone conclusion, and its implications are vastly less consequential than people would like them to be.