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Nuance, and lack thereof
I am regularly reminded of why I use the Economist as my primary news source, even when I can't quite keep up with it. Here's another example.

From most American news media, you'd get the impression that Iran is as unitary as the average sci-fi alien aggressor: a culture that lives and thinks in fine lockstep, at least at the leadership level, all of whom are simply Bad Guys who agree on everything. (Contrasted, of course, with the plucky rebel alliance of ordinary Good Guys, who *also* agree with each other and disagree with the evil leadership about everything.)

Reality, of course, is nowhere near so simple, and *how* unsimple is nicely illustrated by this recent article about Esfandiar Rahim Mashai.

Who? He's President Ahmadinejad's close friend and ally, reportedly a tad too messianic for his own good, who is apparently driving some fairly serious wedges into the nowhere-near-so-unitary-as-all-that conservatives in Iran. It's a fascinating little article, and a good reminder that Iran is a real place, and its politics are just as messy as those in the US. The conservatives may be pretty consistent in their dislike of the US, but that doesn't mean they're all working together...

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(Deleted comment)
I was really talking about the politics, not the structure -- less about how the government is composed, and more about how the political factions are actually pretty similar. So the intended cognate was more the way that (for instance), the Traditional Republicans and Tea Partiers can just barely stand each other (if at all) in the US. (Or, on the other side, the Congressional Democrats and the Progressives.)

As for the structure, I think it's actually pretty similar to the US in terms of overall complexity, especially if you think of the religious side as being the cognate to the American Supreme Court. That bit's a bit more complex, the parliament is a bit less, but the overall structure seems intended to provide a similar level of depth and balance as the American Constitution. (The biggest difference being that the Supreme Leader of Iran is more powerful than anybody in the American system -- the checks and balances are conspicuously just a hair weaker there, almost certainly by intent.)

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