In an ideal world, peace and justice
prevail, there are no conflicts of interests, and all human beings enjoy health
and happiness, that very special kind of happiness that never infringes on or is
at the expense of someone else's happiness.
Lake Hamoon in Zabul, at Iran-Afghanistan border, is dry
these days, thanks to the decades-long draught in Afghanistan; so Zarathushtra's seed
is not likely to germinate and emerge from the waters as the Savior, Sushyant,
to rid the world of all evil. The Christian Messiah has not appeared as yet
either, in spite of some claims that he is currently residing at the White House
just waiting for Armageddon to blast off. Neither has the Mahdi (the Islamic
Messiah), the hidden Imam of the Shi'ite Moslems, come out of his centuries-long
occultation to bring final salvation to the world; notwithstanding the Baha'i's
claims that he has come, but is still working on his plans.
older Zoroastrian mythology encapsulates mankind's perennial dream of an idyllic
future world where the spirit of righteousness, truth and justice prevails and
the evil of greed, lie and deception is banished forever. Even after the gods of
the Gilgamesh legend, and later the god of the Hebrews, unleashed the deluge and
wiped out the surface of the Earth of all species, the descendants of
Utanapishtim, and later of Noah, messed up god's creation all over again.
gods just simply gave up! They really had no other choice, they were dealing
with human nature. After all, was it not this same sapient species whose
creative mind, or collective subconscious, had generated that heavenly theater
with its playwrights, lead actors, and the cast of characters? That's why this
cosmic screenplay simply had to accommodate mankind's self-redeeming
is exactly how it came to pass that Yahweh, the god of Abraham, finally decided
to pick a certain tribe of nomads out of all the others he had created, and he
called them his Chosen People. Having literally disowned all the rest, he then
ordered a merciless takeover of all the neighboring lands to make room for his
personal Chosen People (Deuteronomy 7). The Book of Joshua is replete with the
gory accounts of the slaughter that followed on god's very specific
was simply obeying God's will; the playwrights had seen to it that the
Chosen, themselves, would not be blamed. But,
sooner or later, the god of the Hebrews had to lock horns with several other
gods. The followers of these gods, the Babylonians, Assyrians and the Romans,
proved to be more numerous and more powerful than the Chosen tribes. The Chosen
lost their dominion and could only watch as the mightier deities sent their
respective mercenaries to battle each other for dominance and control of the
world as they knew it.
course, when the Hebrews were slaughtering man, woman and child, as well as the
livestock or "anything the breathed", of their disfavored foes, and plundering
their possessions, according to the very specific mandates from their god, they
had a just cause, they were doing god's work. They wouldn't have done it
otherwise. Neither would their predecessors, the Aryan tribes or the Noble
People of north-central Asia, who had received similar mandates from their own
god to head southward out of the frozen tundra and take over the greener
pasturelands of the Iranian plateau some four or five thousand years ago.
later, the Forces of Islam, bursting out of the hostile climes of the Arabian desert, had a mission to deliver salvation to the
hell-bound infidels and, in the process, set claim to territories and treasures
beyond their wildest dreams.
Mongols followed, as did so many other tribes and nations, some carrying
faith-based mandates and others ideological manifestos; but they were all
self-righteously convinced of their respective moral and ethical justifications
for whatever brought them what they wished.
Spanish and the Portuguese colonized the new American continent and liberated the natives into oblivion in
the name of Christianity. North America was to
become the latter day Promised Land
for the disenfranchised European settlers who struggled hard to manifest their
god-given destiny, all at the expense of the native tribes who were thus
cleansed and liberated from their ancestral lands, as the spirits of their
forebears watched in hapless disbelief.
nature at work; gods, religions, secular ideologies and canons of law are simply
tools created by man's marvelous intellectual resources to serve as guidelines
and justifications for what comes naturally as the human survival instinct
cultural heritage is perhaps best represented symbolically in the
Judeo-Christian Biblical myths. Man was supposedly created by God in God's own
image, god-like, yet ungodly as the same time. First, man had to have been
created in God's image in order to reign supreme over the rest of creation. But,
to also rule supreme over fellow man, some members of the species had to have
been disfavored by God; hence the legend of Abel and Cain - what a marvelous
in the old Biblical tradition is represented in disproportionate brutality,
vengeance, and often even as an act of preemption rather than retribution for an
actual crime. This is also quite human, and nothing has changed in three
thousand years. We read in what is called the revealed or inspired words of God
by the devout, that Passover took place because the Egyptian Ferroah had ordered
all the first-born sons of the Hebrews in Egypt
to be killed on a certain night. Yahweh, rather than employ His good offices to
change Farroah's sick mind or even to strike dead the tyrant, decides to reverse
the table and have all the first-born sons of Egypt
killed that same night. Of course, Ramses could not have been eliminated, since
the scribes who wrote the legend knew that he had lived long after the Hebrews
had departed from Egypt.
be surprised that, in that exhibition of cosmic justice, hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of perfectly innocent people died by Yahweh's command only because
Egypt was supposedly ruled by a bad
dictator? (Doesn't that sound familiar?) We see a very similar disproportionate
and brutal act of preemptive vengeance in the story of Esther, again reflective
of man's natural ability to justify and even celebrate any action, however
brutal, that serves his interests.
Are we doing
things differently these days?
some descendants of Ishmael, the other son of Abraham, ride those planes into
Towers and kill three
thousand perfectly innocent people for what they believed to be their just
cause? Doesn't Osama Bin Laden
blame the leader of today's equivalent of the ancient empire of Egypt
for tyranny and subjugation of his fellow believers, just as did Moses in his
days? Isn't he, perhaps unwittingly, appealing to the same Biblical rationale?
From Bible to
an article by Stephen Bender, Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran,
April 5, 2005, www.american idealism.com/ an
idealist/moralist's erudite exposÚ of what has seemingly gone wrong with a
superpower's sense of humanity, is superbly expressed. Perhaps Stephen Bender
would have preferred to live on another planet where its sapient species had
evolved somewhat differently. Here on this Earth, he'll have to wait for the real Messiah to arrive before his pleas
might receive an audience.
then, we humans must learn, perhaps the hard way, to accept and cope with
certain realities of life as we are currently experiencing.
some of these realities?
- Even if there do exist international laws and universally
accepted codes of human conduct, there are no universally enforceable codes that would apply
equally to all nations, big and small, weak or strong.
- The more powerful rules and dictates what constitutes right
and wrong, just or unjust.
- Since even the powerful must accommodate a nation's sense of
morality and righteousness, whatever the powerful does must appear as
honorable and just to its own public.
these undeniable paradigms are understood and accepted as facts of life, the
whole debate around today's international affairs, war and peace, conflict and
resolution, take on a much clearer perspective. For example, consider the
- The term terrorism or aggression, for instance, applies only
to acts of militancy or insurgency aimed against the interests of the
superpowers and their surrogates. The superpower's similar acts take the label
of just war, liberation, or the
promotion of freedom and democracy; all that good stuff.
- The powerful determines what is good and what is evil. The
rationale is quite simple, as there are only two alternatives: Either a
universal "Good" or "Right" does exist, or Good and Right are subjective
constructs defined by mankind to serve some immediate purpose. If it is the
Divine power that defines Good and Right, it is surely the god of the
superpower - the one and only true
God - who makes that determination. If, on the other hand, Good and Right
are relative terms subject to time and place, then again, it is the powerful
whose authority establishes what defines Good or Right. Either way, it is
Might that makes Right; make no mistake about it.
course, for Might to continue to make Right, the mightiest must do everything in
its power to retain its ultimate supremacy and dominion over the less fortunate;
challenging the mandates of the mighty constitutes evil and will simply not be
the above might sound fair or just from an unbiased ideological or moral
standpoint in an idyllic world. But, neither are natural disasters, sickness or
dying; yet these are all facts of life on earth. Rather than scream and holler
over why earthquakes and tsunamis happen or why the kind and gentle pope has to
die of old age, we all have to learn to deal with realities of life, however
unfair or unpleasant they seem; after all, nature is quite
There is another fact of life that has
played a pivotal role in the process of human cultural history: no mighty can
stay mighty forever; the baton of power has to change hands sooner or later.
Challenging the centers of power and authority, in spite of its
repercussions, is a continuous process at all levels of human society. A child
approaching adulthood leaves the comfort and security of home in search of
freedom and independence; a nation rebels against dictatorship and tyranny in
the hope of bringing about desired reforms; the oppressed and the exploited
struggle against the colonizers and occupiers to regain what they believe is
rightfully theirs; and blocks of humanity do occasionally dare to stand up and
challenge the global superpowers. Even the authorities of the religious high
commands havs often been challenged as new offshoots branched away from the
orthodoxies. Rebellions, revolutions and world wars punctuate human history and
will continue to do so. New dictatorships in the guise of what some people call
democracies replace the old tyrannies; the disenfranchised that rise up and gain
dominance create their own monopolies of power; and fledgling new global powers
inevitably embark on establishing their own hegemony; and the circle remains
unbroken. Of this much we can be sure.
these premises, we may come to a final conclusion before tackling an analysis of
current world affairs:
Every government does, and must, pursue the
best interests of its nation, with whatever means at its disposal, and at
whatever cost to anyone else.
sounds too cynical or cruel, consider the following: When was the last time you
refused to buy something from someone because you thought he wasn't asking
enough for it? Not a common occurrence by any means, but it does occasionally
happen, resulting on losing out to somebody else who took advantage of that hot
international scene there is really no altruism behind any substantial act of
charity or philanthropy. Any such act is inevitably weighed against its direct
and indirect material or ideological benefits to the benefactor, or it simply
won't happen. Since every nation is out there to pursue its own interests, an
oddball playing Jesus Christ by turning the other cheek is not going to survive
for very long; remember, Jesus was crucified at a young age.
essay does not argue for or against the wisdom or justifications behind the
continued antagonism between the governments of the United States and Iran,
now well into its third decade. The fact on the ground is that this animosity
exists and has become deeply engrained in the psyches of both peoples and their
twenty-six years, the memories of the American embassy staff taken hostage by
hotheaded leftist students in Tehran are still alive in the minds of most
Americans. The fire of anger over that incident has been kept alive by various
means and for various reasons to this day. A country that was for thirty years
America's staunchest ally and the most obedient and loyal friend in the Middle
East had dared to stand up against and challenge the mandates of its former
master. This had never been done before and was simply unbearably hard to
to the new Islamic Republic of Iran for such intransigence was very high. What
exacerbated the antagonisms between the new Iranian regime and the United States
administration even more was the Islamic Republic's exhibitions of open
animosity against America's surrogate in the region, Israel, and Iran's support
for the Palestinians' cause. The tensions have snowballed since, thanks mostly
to the highly motivated Israeli lobbying organizations whose influence on
America's foreign policy machinations
cannot be exaggerated.
Iranians, in turn, have had their own complaints against the American
administrations. To this day the Iranians have not forgiven the Anglo-American
instigated military coup of 1953 that toppled Iran's
democratically supported regime of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, and reinstated the
unpopular Shah back on the Peacock Throne.
Iran continues to hold
America responsible for its
support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq war that cost Iran
perhaps one million dead and tremendous economic setbacks. The Iranians refer to
that eight-year war as the Imposed War, implying that America had encouraged Saddam's aggression in
1982, and helped him resist Iran's unexpectedly severe
accidental downing of an Iranian civilian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf by an American warship that was patrolling
the waters against Iraqi oil shipments is also in everyone's minds. Ronald
Reagan never apologized for that incident and, In fact, rewarded the captain of
the ship. That didn't sit well with the Iranians who watched for months on end
on their television sets the bodies of small children floating on the waters of
the Persian Gulf.
wrong, justly or unjustly, deservedly or not, Iran has become the pariah of the
Middle East, blamed for or suspected of literally anything that goes wrong in
that sensitive region of the world. The accuser is the world's sole superpower,
the United States, along with
Israel, of course. Economic sanctions
against Iran and lack of
diplomatic relations with the United
States on one hand, and exclusion of American corporations
from participation in the Middle East's largest market, on the other, have
proven counterproductive for both Iran and the United
hottest issue of contention these days is Iran's
nuclear energy program. The United
States has been accusing Iran of
clandestine activities in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT). In addition, the United
States is accusing Iran of human-rights violations, as well as
labeling Iran as the chief supporter of
international terrorism in the world today.
understandably, Iran, a proud nation and the only
global regime that has been able for decades to stand boldly and defiantly
against the propaganda onslaught and outright threats of the mightiest power on
the planet, levels counter accusations against its detractors. The label of
Great Satan and chants of Death to America, Death to Israel,
are still seen and heard, even if such sloganeering has lost its initial venom.
Israel continues to be
referred to as the Zionist Entity, and regarded as the culprit responsible for
the Middle East dilemmas and the principle
obstacle to a US/Iran rapprochement. While the United States and Israel call Iran the biggest threat to international peace
and security, Iran refers to
the "Zionist Entity" as a terrorist state, and America as the state supporter of international
terrorism for, among many other things, its support for Israel.
the international community at large is more sympathetic toward
Iran's cause or is supportive
of the United
States position is of little consequence at
this time. The world did not support America's invasion of Iraq
either, yet couldn't do a damned thing about it. Without question, the American
president, George W. Bush, is regarded much less favorably around the world than
is Iran's president, Khatami. There was
a time not that long ago when America was admired and respected globally for
what America stood for, while
few on the globe even new anything about Iran.
Today America is feared
globally more than it is admired, and almost everyone knows where Iran is
and what it is all about. Even America's allies in Europe are sharing in this global perception to an
alarming degree. But, can Iran play that card to gain advantage
over its detractor or save itself from the wrath of this superpower?
behavior in the Middle East since the events of 9/11 can be rationalized as an
anticipated response of a wounded bull elephant on rampage, or as a well
orchestrated scheme that had awaited just the right pretexts to be put into
action, America is there and the events are
unfolding. And, Iran seems to be standing in the way,
tall, defiant and, yes, concerned.
Iran has been playing its cards quite
ingeniously as a world-class poker player, but only thus far! Pleading innocent
against all charges brought against it and appealing to the world public opinion
has had its limited psychological benefits. The United Nations agency in charge
of monitoring compliance to the NPT bylaws, the IAEA, has also cleared
Iran of all the allegations
brought against it, in spite of the pressure to discredit the agency by the
United States and Israel.
But, the IAEA had also concluded that the Iraqi regime was not in possession of
weapons of mass destruction, WMD, or in the process of acquiring a nuclear
weapon, just before the invasion of Iraq by the "Coalition of the
Willing" under those exact pretexts. So, where does that leave Iran;
on the clear? No, not by a long shot!
experts on nuclear weapons development technology and disarmament have expressed
their views that a/Iran is not in violation of its NPT agreements, and b/that
the fear surrounding Iran's potential for acquiring an atomic bomb is simply a
paranoia created for purely political reasons. Dr. Gordon Prather, a renowned
nuclear scientist with vast experience in the field of nuclear technology and
weapons development, has written numerous articles appearing almost on a weekly
basis on www.antiwar.com web site,
reiterating the same issues. Even though the allegations by Israel and the
United States administration against Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions have
nothing to do with the realities of the situation on the ground, they could
serve as suitable pretexts just as was the case with Iraq.
Iran truly promoting terrorism and
supporting terrorist groups in the region and the world, as it has been accused
of doing? Yes, if you ask the Israeli regime and, by extension, the US State
Department; and, it matters little if the rest of the world does not regard the
Lebanese Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, or the Palestinian resistance
group, Hamas, as any different than the Irish Sinn Fein with its IRA arm, much
admired and supported by many Irish Americans right here in the United States.
is it that the United States
wants Iran to do or not to do? And, lest we
forget, what is it that Israel wants Iran to
do or not to do? In other words, what is it about Iran that seems to be of such grave concern for
the United States and
address this issue we must first, to use a colloquial phrase, cut through the
with regard to Iran's nuclear "ambitions", the
following points should be kept in mind:
has not been, and is not, in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non
B- Iran is
entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as electrical
generation industries and research in other peaceful areas.
C- Even though
Iran sits on top of some of the
world's largest hydrocarbon fields, dependence on fossil fuels for future energy
production is economically and environmentally undesirable.
Advancements in nuclear technology will inevitably result in the
creation of the potential for the development of
United Nations' nuclear monitoring arm, the IAEA, may not, under the current
safeguards regime, be capable of detecting or stopping all violations of the NPT
agreement, especially in a country as large and as geographically difficult as
Iran should quite logically be
motivated to have at least the potential to gain access to nuclear weapons, if
only as a deterrent against hostile intents.
G- The current
threats of regime change and preemptive strikes against Iran's strategic sites
by the United States or Israel give Iran a heightened incentive to arm itself
with the ultimate deterrent as soon as humanly possible - and who could blame
Iran for doing that? Interestingly, and quite alarmingly, this possibility could
play well into the hands of those who have been accusing Iran of pursuing its
nuclear arms ambitions, as evidence or proof, should Iran be attacked in the
near future. This would indeed be a self-fulfilling prophesy by the neocon
rationale offered by the Israeli regime and the United
States for creating the current
H- The Iranian
regime is run by insane, radical, religious fanatics.
Should the regime gain access to nuclear or other weapons of mass
destruction, the state of Israel and US forces in the region
will be targeted for attack.
Portable versions of nuclear dirty bombs or other weapons of mass
destruction will be put at the disposal of terrorist groups such as the
Al-Ghae'da operatives to be deployed in the United
States and Western
K- The Islamic
Republic of Iran has the ultimate goal of dominating the globe under the banner
of fundamentalist Islam.
Editorials, speeches and books abound promoting the above points. The
most recent was Jerome Corsi's "Atomic Iran", www.payvand.com/news/05/apr/1052.html , (article by K. Zarrabi); and "Iran's
Nuclear Option", by Al J. Venter
rational and logical view in a nutshell:
hardliner or clerical side of the Iranian regime, i.e., the theocratic
leadership, has long been criticized for its repressive and anti-democratic
tactics by the reform-minded Iranians, and blamed for Iran's
economic and diplomatic isolation by the Iranian, as well as international,
M- The paradox here is
that, even if Iran's theocratic leadership were to appreciate the social and
economic benefits of the long overdue reform toward greater opening and
democratization, the recent accelerated threats against the nation's security by
the "Great Satan" and its local surrogate, "the Zionist Entity", have armed the
conservatives within the regime with all the rationale they need to strengthen
their legitimacy as the true guardians of faith and state.
N- Providing total
transparency as demanded by the US and Israeli interests would leave Iran's
military establishment and national defense completely disarmed and impotent. No
nation in the world could be expected to agree to such terms, unless its
security was guaranteed by powers to be.
the largest, most populous country in the region, strategically located and in
possession of some of the world's richest hydrocarbon resources, is clearly a
ripe target for takeover and exploitation. It would be insane for any
responsible government in such circumstances to not attempt to acquire any means
possible to discourage and deter any potential aggression. Nuclear weapons serve
that purpose quite effectively.
Iran may well be telling the truth
about not being currently engaged in developing the means of creating its atomic
weapons, a claim that has been substantiated by the IAEA inspectors numerous
times. However, to think that the Iranian nuclear scientists are not seriously
engaged in gaining the technology needed for a potential weapons development,
should it become imperative for the nation's security, is also quite na´ve.
alleviate Iran's legitimate desire to embark on such weapons developments, the
most logical method is to eliminate the incentive, not by blatant threats of
aggression, but through dialog, diplomacy, mutually beneficial economic openings
and, most of all, security guarantees.
Leaving the nuclear issue behind, the
only remaining bone of contention between the United States (and Israel) on one
side, and Iran on the other, is the allegations of Iran's involvement in the
region, from sabotaging the Arab/Israeli peace initiatives, to creating anti-US
disturbances in Afghanistan and Iraq.
the charges against the Iranian regime are more than mere suspicions or
allegations. However, the true reasons or the justifications on
Iran's part for such actions
or involvements are often radically twisted by the US
administration to accommodate politically motivated objectives. Such objectives
doubtlessly include creating more reasons for condemning the Iranian regime, as
well as for creating additional pretexts for war should the opportunity
principle charges or allegations, excluding the utterly ridiculous, against
Creating instability in Afghanistan and promoting insurgency there to
obstruct America's military mission in that
Infiltrating Iraq and supporting anti-American
insurgencies, helping the saboteurs and attempting to steer the fledgling Iraqi
regime toward a pro-Iranian Shi'a theocracy.
Disrupting the Lebanese move toward democratization and potential
reconciliation with their Israeli neighbors.
Encouraging and aiding militancy against Israel within the occupied Palestinian
territories, and opposing any progress toward peace between Israel
and the Palestinians.
Attempting to destabilize the Saudi regime by promoting Shi'a
insurgencies among the labor groups and oilfield workers who are predominantly
Harboring some Al-Gha'eda leaders within the Iranian territory for
possible terror campaigns against American, Israeli and Saudi interests.
schizoid approach to the above list of allegations might be as
Iran has played
a significant role already in helping the Kabul
regime by discouraging insurgencies by groups with long historical ties to
Iran. This has included covert
cooperation with the American military in the border areas. What
Iran does not want to see is
a semi-permanent or permanent American military presence in Afghanistan, at least not until a reasonable
non-aggression treaty or understanding is reached between Iran and the United
The situation in Iraq is very similar. It is more than
a long border and religious affiliations that is shared between the two nations
of Iraq and Iran.
Iran's interests do actually
lie in the true democratization of Iraq, where the majority Shi'a will
have the strongest voice in the Iraqi affairs. This is something that, under the
current environment of threats and suspicions, does not sit well with the
States. This paranoia about the Islamic
Republic of Iran's influence over the Iraqi regime might be short-lived, if the
US/Iran discord is resolved. It goes without saying that a true democracy is not
what the United States is
interested in for the post-Saddam Iraq. The hope is for a new
Iraq under a compliant authoritarian
regime that can keep the nation from splitting along ethnic fault lines. Again, what Iran
does not want to see is permanent American bases on its western borders
It is interesting to note here that both Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, and the
new Iraqi President, Jalal Talebani, have expressed their desire for an extended
presence of American military in their respective countries! Mr. Karzai depends
on the American military to hold on to the modicum of authority he enjoys, let
alone his very life. And, Mr. Talebani, a Kurdish leader, was basically chosen
by the US to become the new
Iraqi president in the hopes of stemming the tide of autonomy and independence
long sought by the powerful Iraqi Kurds in the vital oil bearing northern
Iraq. Iran and Turkey are both quite thankful for
that decision. Therefore, any allegations against Iran for sabotaging progress in stabilizing
Iraq seem baseless at this
With the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, the Lebanese Shi'a majority
is close to realizing its historical dream of accessing power within the new
Lebanese government. An attempt, very similar to what is being implemented in
Iraq, is underway by the
US to avoid the creation of another
Shi'a-dominated regime in that country. How successful that will be, will depend
on Iran's cooperation in
persuading the shi'a leadership in Lebanon to moderate their
expectations. Clearly, the alarm over the Hezbollah is purely an Israeli
concern. The bargaining chip in resolving this dilemma would be
Israel agreeing to withdraw
from what territory they still hold in southern Lebanon and the Golan
concern over Iran's support for the Palestinian
resistance movements will be alleviated once the so called Roadmap to Peace gets
underway. The hope is that President Bush will be able to overcome the Israeli
influences in his own administration and overrule the Likud government's
belligerent demands voiced by Ariel Sharon. Iran has long expressed its views that whatever
terms in a peace settlement are acceptable to the Palestinians, will be honored
Regarding Iran's covert actions in Saudi
Arabia, it must be understood that the Saudi
Shi'ites do not need Iranian support to voice their dissatisfaction with the
Wahabi regime. No doubt Iran
does not like to see land-based US military strongholds in Saudi Arabia; but, with the presence of
nuclear-armed American navy in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, the Saudi land bases might be regarded as
simply redundant. Iran, therefore, would have no
logical incentive to cause problems for the Saudi regime.
m- Just as was
the case with the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Al Gha'eda leadership has had no
fondness for Iran. One of the greatest benefits to
Iran in America's anti-terror campaign in the Middle East was the dismantlement of the Taliban regime
and the marginalization of the Al Gha'eda network. No doubt there are Al Gha'eda
members or sympathizers currently living in Iran's vast territory, as they might be anywhere
else in the Middle East. But, accusing
Iran of knowingly harboring
this terrorist group for ulterior motives within its boundaries is very much
like accusing the United
States of aiding and abetting the MEK group in
Iraq for possible
infiltration, sabotage and terrorism against Iran,
considering that this group is officially labeled as a terrorist organization by
the US State Department. If there is a level of legitimacy for the
United States to use a
terrorist group as a weapon against Iran, Iran's similar use of another
terrorist group against its detractors could also be legitimized. The best way
to defuse this kind of potential confrontation is to negotiate for the
dismantling of both terrorist groups.
Now, to the
core of the problem.
"We are going
to build a different kind of Middle East, a different kind of broader Middle
East that is going to be stable and democratic and where our children will one
day not have to be worried about the kind of ideologies of hatred that led those
people to fly those planes into those buildings on Sept. 11."
Rice, to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, March 17,
How do we
exactly see to it that ideologies of
hatred do not lead people into flying planes into our buildings? This kind
of propaganda rhetoric is a good example of expression of self-righteous
indignation; clearly, she knows better. The world or the Middle East does not
take too kindly to being regarded as America's playpen to be rearranged as
the Secretary of State foresees. Yes, America may well be able to shatter
it all to bits and rebuild it closer to its heart's desire, as Omar Khayyam
would have put it; but, not without major resistance - rose petals will not line
the path of the "liberating" invaders.
We own a
couple of acres in a hilly suburban area. It is our home, we own it; it belongs
to us. I try to keep it respectably clean and manicured for our own benefit as a
reflection of the image we'd like to project. If I notice the wrong kind of
weeds growing on a corner of the property, I take notice. Over lunch or dinner
on a weekend, we casually talk about how to handle that patch of unwanted growth
in our property. There are several options: We can use a chemical spray to
eradicate the weeds along with other vegetation that might also be there, we can
drive our small tractor over the area and mat it down, we can use a Rota tiller
and uproot the patch, we can even wait until the weeds dry up and torch it all
off. Some environmentally conscious friends suggest we might introduce another,
more agreeable, type of plant that
would replace the weeds in time. Of course, some of these measures might not sit
well with our neighbors. We might have to consider some give and take with them
to gain their trust and support.
imagine a nation of 70 million people who take pride in their long history,
culture and identity, being regarded as a patch of undesirable weeds growing on
somebody's backyard and treated accordingly. Well, should Iran be
attacked preemptively, should it be put under more severe economic and
diplomatic pressure, should it be infiltrated and destabilized by our friendly
terrorist groups, or should its regime be replaced with a more agreeable one?
Rice truly believe that promoting democracy and self-determination in the
Middle East is what suites our national
interests best? Are we really loved and respected that much that a truly
democratic and independent state in the oil-rich Middle
East would accommodate our best interests gladly and from their own
Rice; that ain't the case; don't talk down to us, please.
America wants in the Middle East, and has a right to pursue from a realistic
perspective, can be split into two categories: A/ what might truly serve the
best interests of the American people; and, B/ what special interest groups and
lobbies have convinced us as to what constitutes our best interests.
A- What are
America's best interests in
short-term interests certainly include the following:
Somehow crawling out of the current quagmire in
Afghanistan and especially
Iraq, and doing so while saving face
and after leaving in place a reasonably stable regime that would remain
compliant or "friendly".
Getting the Israelis off America's back by forcing through the
Roadmap to Peace at whatever one-time
secure America's strategic interests in the
area by establishing semi-permanent military bases in as many places as needed.
This would include anti-missile batteries to safeguard against any potential
attempt by any regional state to launch ballistic attacks against US targets.
The least such a program would do is to alleviate the current paranoia about a
rogue regime attacking American targets with nuclear warheads atop ballistic
the more important longer-term interests include:
Control over the flow of oil and gas from the Persian Gulf region in order to regulate the availability
and the price of crude in the international market.
Control over access to the Persian Gulf oil and gas by
America's future economic,
and ultimately military, competitors such as China and India.
Maintain strong, mutually beneficial, relationships with the
strategic states in the Middle East to
discourage alliances between the energy rich regional countries and
energy-hungry rival powers.
above six points are what the United States, today's sole global
superpower, should pursue with no apologies or regrets. As outlined in a rather
lengthy dissertation above, every nation
seeks to pursue its best interests as it sees fit, by any means at its disposal,
and at whatever cost to anyone else.
axiom may seem unjust and unfair at first glance; but considering the
limitations of means available to any end in today's world, the paths of least
resistance are often charted through mutually rewarding grounds. Increasingly,
the blowback from certain actions makes some options counterproductive. Even
though old colonial habits of ensuring obedience or compliance through force,
intimidation and bribery are hard to break, realities of modern politics dictate
a radical revision in this kind of approach to international relations in the
modern world. The costs are simply too high and the results too uncertain to
justify the old methods.
To put it
in simplest terms, for the United States to achieve its economic and strategic
objectives in the Middle East, any cooperation or compliance in the part of the
regional states must entail equitable benefits for those states; benefits that
would offset by a significant margin any gains they might appreciate from their
alliance or cooperation with competing global regimes. The alternative means, i.
e., threats or the use of sanctions or force, have lost their effective potency
and are becoming increasingly unrewarding.
comes to the US/Iran relations, the appreciation of this fact could serve as the
formula to solve the dilemma between the two antagonists. One thing to remember
is that two nations might find common grounds to enjoy a mutually productive
relationship without having to share in all values or belief systems.
B- What could
possibly be the motivating machinations behind America's Middle East policies that might not
necessarily serve America's best
a lengthy dissertation on this well documented issue and to simplify the case,
we can point to three main culprits that, to put it figuratively, have
high-jacked America's foreign
policy toward the Islamic world and particularly vis-Ó-vis the Middle East.
On top of
the list and the longest at work by far are the Israeli lobby and
Israel supporters in the
States. Thus far at least, Israeli regimes,
particularly the conservative Likud, have seen their ambitions best served
through regional turmoil and instability. This strategy has provided their arch
benefactor, the United
States, with the pretexts to confront regional regimes that
are in fact simply Israel's
antagonists in the guise of protecting America's safety and security. At the
same time, Israel has enjoyed
increasing financial, military and diplomatic support from the United
States. Israel's fear is that, should peace and security
prevail in the region, its unique advantage or pretence as the "civilized
world's" outpost in that turbulent strategic region and as the guardian of
America's interests might be lost.
into the game, particularly since the 9/11 event, are the ultraconservative
evangelical Christian Right, and the more impressionable hard-core conservative
Joe and Jane. Rather than take up more space in this article, I would refer the
interested reader to my own web site, www.intellectualdiscourse.com , where
several articles addressing this subject appear under the "Archives" section.
The reader may also find my older articles, going back to March 2003, in the
Archives section of www.payvand.com/news/ web site.
through rampant hypocrisy.
face it; all the loose talk about America's mission to promote freedom and
democracy in the Middle East is just that. So
are all the allegations that Iran intends to build an atomic bomb to attack
Israel and threaten the
"civilized" world; or that the Islamic Republic is the world's top supporter of
international terrorism and opposes the peace process in the Middle East. Let's forget the nonsense.
America's mission is
not, and cannot be expected to be, promoting freedom and democracy or
self-determination in areas where America's strategic interests are at
stake. Take, for example, Saudi
Arabia and Kuwait, two states with most of the Middle East oil reserves. To guarantee America's access to
and control of these resources, it would be imprudent or even stupid to
relinquish the decision making powers to any democratically elected autonomous
regime, unless such regime agrees to relinquish its own autonomy in favor of
American interests. What is currently evolving in Iraq, and soon to follow in Lebanon and possibly Afghanistan, might serve to
demonstrate the point.
without saying that the United States as a superpower guarding its interests
overseas would much prefer to deal with democratic and politically stable states
in the Middle East that would accommodate those interests freely and gladly; it
is much easier and less costly that way. But, in the absence of such guarantees
of willful compliance, any aspirations for an honest or true democracy in this
region will be forced to give way to a conditional democracy at best, or to a
compliant dictatorship at worst. The 1953 coup in Iran
that abruptly aborted the premiership of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh is a
course, even a "compliant" democracy may be a workable improvement over what
practically every Middle Eastern state is enjoying today, or has enjoyed in the
past. The prerequisite to establishing a workable "friendly" democracy is to
establish, first and foremost, that such compliance remains predicated on the
long-term interests of the nation; and second, that the rewards for entering
into such cooperation are substantial, tangible and visible to the public.
real-world options for the Iranian regime.
the crosshairs of the world's mightiest power doesn't leave much wiggling room
to maneuver. The Islamic Republic remains under the threat of regime change or
worse, depending on which of several options will be adopted by the architects
of change sipping iced tea at the conservative think tanks in Washington and Israel. This isn't fair or just, or
even legal under the international laws.
mentioned before, fair, just, legal or not, mean nothing at all; caretakers will
follow after the facts to clean up the mess, anyway; very much like natural
disasters such as the recent tsunami in the Indian
Ocean. But, if a tsunami or a devastating earthquake cannot be
prevented, a human-caused disaster can.
Iran is finding itself reacting like
a cat cornered by a couple of vicious Rottweilers. The cat puffs up to nearly
twice its size and shows its teeth and claws to discourage the imminent attack.
Unlike people, the cat is not capable of opening a dialogue to negotiate its way
out of a potential disaster; the cat can simply stick to its bluffs and hope for
the best. The cat has no way of conveying the message to the anxious Rottweilers
that their best interests might actually lie in abandoning their hostility. A
little skunk or porcupine has fewer problems dealing with the same
Korea has amply demonstrated, the mere
possibility of the capability to retaliate by the awesome power of a nuclear
weapon has been enough to discourage overt military actions against that rogue
state. Based on all the information available, Iran
does not have a nuclear weapons capability at this time, and based on expert
opinions, it will take several years before it can acquire that capacity.
Attacking Iran, whether by
Israel or the United
States, will not be answered by an Iranian
nuclear retaliatory counter attack. In such case, however, Iran
will no doubt acquire the technology and develop the capability in an
accelerated pace, as it well should, to pay back the debt as expeditiously as
a short window of opportunity, no longer than a couple of years, before
Iran might gain access to the
ultimate weapon. Any aspirations for a regime change or a political
restructuring of Iran would have to take place while
this window remains open.
though an outright invasion of Iran by foreign forces is realistically out of
the question, infiltration by dissident groups and promoting divisions within
Iran's dissatisfied masses,
particularly the youth who comprise most of Iran's
population, seem to be the logical methods of approach to bring about the
meantime, also has a short window of opportunity to intelligently and
proactively embark on a more conciliatory approach to bridge-building, while
avoiding counterproductive inflammatory rhetoric that plays in the hands of the
lobbyists who look for any excuse to condemn Iran and portray it in the worst
Iran this opportunity, hostile
interests are doing what they can to destabilize the regime through massive
propaganda, encouraging dissent by openly subsidizing such movements, spreading
false rumors, etc. There are reports that Iraqi Kurdish militants in
northeastern Iraq, near Iranian border areas, are
preparing to join their Iranian counterparts and create insurgencies aimed at
bringing down the current regime. It is also well known that the Israelis forces
have long been training and equipping these same Kurds for exactly that same
recent clashes between Arab Iranians in the southern provinces of Iran
and the Iranian security forces that resulted in the arrest of many
demonstrators, began by suspiciously generated rumors about a decision, already
declared as false, by the government to rearrange the area's population mix for
political reasons. It is worth noting here that the White House has voiced
objections to the treatment of these Arab Iranians by the Iranian government
forces. Such concern by the White House is rather suspiciously curious, as
similar objections are never heard regarding the continuous brutal treatment of
Palestinian Arabs by the Israeli security forces.
a number of newly sprouting organizations in the United States dedicated to "liberate" or
"democratize" Iran. Some of these organizations are
established by non-Iranians, the likes of Mr. Jerome Corsi of the Atomic Iran
fame. The US Congress has added to the budget for radio and television
propaganda broadcasts to Iran, and there are moves underway by several
pathological Iran haters
within the administration to push for more legislation to support dissident
groups inside and outside of Iran to undermine Iran's
forecast an actual attack on Iran's strategic nuclear facilities,
perhaps as early as June, 2005, are hoping that such action would further
exacerbate the internal rift among the various groups in the country and lead to
a chain reaction that is expected to topple the theocratic regime and open the
way for a regime change.
believe that such a change, especially in that manner, is against Iran's
best interests must fight an uphill battle to offer their alternative to a
violent and potentially catastrophic scenario. The proponents of radical reform,
right now, and at any cost to the nation, are usually those whose own blood and
tears will not be shed in the ensuing struggle and, should things go wrong, have
nothing to lose.
no question that reform is long overdue and the Iranian people from all walks of
life are impatient for reforms that would result in the improvement of their
economic conditions and in a broadening of social liberties. Their anxiety and
impatience for reforms are undeniable, and not even the conservative
establishment would argue against such appeals. What the nation will not accept
is reform at the expense of Iran's national sovereignty and
this sovereignty or national identity that is currently threatened from outside.
An Iranian Iran, independent and self-reliant, is what Iran's
antagonists are worried about. The fear is that a confident Iran might refuse to bow to unreasonable demands,
such as is the case currently regarding Iran's legal rights under
international law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty agreement to enrich
uranium for peaceful projects. Iran might just accept to give up its
legitimate right voluntarily as a bargaining chip and a gesture of good faith,
but certainly not as the result of threats to its national security.
Iran, at this juncture in history,
and in the face of grave threats to its security and national identity, there is
but one option, and this option is definitely not in surrendering to pressures
and threats. The Iranian regime should be less paranoid in considering any
attempt for a rapprochement by the United States as a Trojan Horse and,
instead, make an honest effort to start building bridges from that side, as
well. While the window of opportunity is still open, proactive measures should
be employed to cut through the fog of mistrust and to convince the American
administration that the Interests of both Iran and the United
States can best be assured through a reopening
of economic and diplomatic relations between the two nations.
many seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the course to reconciliation. The
chief among these barriers are: the Israeli lobbying organizations and their
surrogates in the US administration, difficulty of
finding face-saving methods of approach, and last, but not least, the arrogant
bullheadedness of the administration officials on both sides. Sufficient time is
critically essential to overcome these obstacles; but sufficient time is exactly
what the opposition to any rapprochement between Iran and the United
States would do their very best to deny. Their
most effective way to implement their plans is to exploit the existing
discontent and disunity among the various groups within Iran, while pushing through legislations in the
United States Congress for financial and diplomatic support of groups or
organizations that aim to destabilize Iran. A recent bill introduced to the
Congress under the name of Iranian Freedom Support Act would make the regime
change in Iran an official
policy of the United
carried out by the Iranian American Council indicates that 82.5 percent of
Iranian Americas surveyed oppose this measure and consider this act as counter
to democratic principles and in violation of international law.
way to neutralize such efforts that are quite clearly counter to the best
interests of both the Iranian people and the United States is
for the targeted groups to appeal to their sense of patriotism and national
integrity with a show of solidarity and a united front to oppose foreign
interference in Iranian affairs.
foolish to think that positive reforms could or should be forced into a nation
through chaos or war. If reforms toward democratization and liberalization are
truly the objective, the clearest path in that direction would be through a
rapprochement between the United States and Iran, meaning a lifting of economic
sanctions and reopening the diplomatic channels; in other words, easing off the
pressures that are needlessly strangulating Iran.
end, let us reiterate the principles of political coexistence in today's world -
the real world, not a utopian world of dreams:
people or nation will do everything to secure its best interests by any means at
its disposal, and at whatever cost to others. It is only the blowback in this
give and take that regulates how aggressively one pursues one's interests.
interests of the dominant power can be challenged, but cannot be ignored or
Crying foul, begging for mercy or thumping ones chest will not
discourage the mighty; removing the incentive through dialogue, flexibility and
Reforms, as badly as they might be needed, cannot be imposed from
outside; they must come from within, perhaps adopted from or inspired by other
role models but, to survive, they must blossom on the indigenous cultural roots
of a nation.