Thinking Outside The Box
By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse
regardless of our national origins, we want what is best for America,
even if what is best for us might not always be what is best for others. After
all, isn’t that what everyone else is doing or is supposed to be doing from
their own perspective whatever nationality they espouse?
How far or how hard
should we push in the pursuit our best interests? Simple; we should stop only
when the costs of our pursuit outweigh the expected gains.
But, what are our best
national interests and how do we measure costs versus gains? Who are the judges
and the score keepers? Only through constructive skepticism and objective
criticism might we separate myths from realities. And, unfortunately, powerful
Altruism is a
wonderful concept, selflessly serving others at one’s own expense with no
expectations of any worldly returns. Fortunately for the human race, while we
all admire the altruist, very few among us would take up the task. Yes, Bill
Gates ranks as a genuine philanthropist when he donates a portion of his
billions to fight disease and hunger in Africa; but the poor man who gives his
only warm jacket to a shivering soul in need is more than a philanthropist, he
ranks as a saint. But, there are only a very few saints or honest altruists
In a heavenly
paradise, where saints and altruists reside, one does not have to worry about
shelter, food, health care or national security. Here on earth, we all do -
people, tribes and nations. Therefore, the desire to not only survive in a
competitive world, but to prosper and grow, compels all nations to promote their
self interests worldwide as best they can. Any generosity, cooperation or
friendship would inevitably hinge around the potential benefits one would
logically expect from such acts. Feeding the mouth that bites one’s hand might
be an altruistic action by a saintly individual; but choosing to help and
support a regime whose policies work against the best interests of ones own
nation cannot be justified but by the insane or the idiot or, surely, by the
agents of the recipient!
This introduction was
necessary to bring us to the subject at hand: If America’s foreign policies in
the Middle East during the recent decades have not been conducive to our best
interests, and if these policies are leading us now into deeper quagmires in
that region and creating bigger security problems for us at home, whom or what
is really to blame?
Of course, there are
diehards who truly believe that the nation is in good hands and that we are on
the right track and heading in the right direction. If there is any disagreement
among the proponents of our policies, it is not about the merits of
mission objectives as they perceive them, but mainly about the methods of
approach. This group will, more than likely, find my analyses and suggestions
unhelpful, wrong and even seditious. I am quite familiar with that mindset and
actually sympathize with most diehard conservatives who, for their respective
reasons, are sincere about their convictions. However, not all voices of radical
conservatism come out of honest or innocent mouths.
We have all heard the
phrase “The New Middle East” mentioned in political commentaries referring to
strategy of imposing reforms and restructuring the region in order to create
conformity or, at least, compatibility with Western democratic values. We have
been on that perilous course for nearly four years now, and there is no light at
the end of the dark tunnel we have entered. Where did we go wrong?
The idea that the
Middle East has
been, is, and will continue to be our playground is based on the old colonial
attitude that the “burden” is on the Sahibs to administer the affairs of the
region and its peoples and, in exchange, to exploit the wealth that nature had
mistakenly placed in far away lands. This sense of natural entitlement emanates
from the same cognitive faculties that also house the self-righteous attitude of
“What’s good for us will be good for them, too, even if they don’t understand or
While this natural
human trait has been shared by practically all cultures and civilizations
throughout history, the Middle
East, because of its immense energy resources, has been
especially affected by it. The industrialized countries and those on the way
toward industrialization depend on the Middle East oil and gas to continue their
Soon after the demise
of the Ottoman Empire and the division of the Middle East into convenient
geometric patterns that suited the English and the French, oil was discovered in
southern Iran and what was to become
Iraq, and later along the
southern shores of the Persian
Not to worry; the
incompetent Iranian monarchy was easily seduced, and Iraq and the new
protectorates of the Persian
Gulf were under the British rule, anyway. Kings and Emirs
were basically puppets on the British strings, and the respective populations
were conveniently too illiterate and too busy simply struggling in their day to
day lives to be of any concern.
In the British
controlled Palestine Mandate, the efforts by the European Zionists to create a
Jewish state finally overcame all local resistance. The European money and
technology proved that the indigenous populations in that region were
categorically inconsequential. The tractor defeated the ox-drawn plough, and
thus the confrontation between the aggressive, dynamic, motivated and moneyed
European intruders against the awestruck, sedentary and traditional populations
To repeat, the tribes
and nations of the region were, at the time, considered inconsequential. Kings
were paid off and emirs were appointed, with their very survival dependent upon
their willingness to serve their benefactors’ interests, as well as their
ability to maintain stability in their respective domains. Stability was to be
guaranteed at any cost, which included social disenfranchisement of the masses,
oppression and intolerance against dissent. Democracy and self-determination
were definitely not part of the formula. They still aren’t to this
But something changed,
starting in earnest around mid twentieth century. The second half of the last
century could best be described as the age of information technology. The world
was shrinking at an ever faster rate. Intercontinental travel, student
exchanges, commercial and cross-cultural relations began to affect habits of
life throughout the planet. There came a rapidly growing realization by many
dormant societies that people, the citizenry, would no longer tolerate being
regarded as inconsequential; they demanded to be reckoned with.
While the social and
political atmosphere of nations, big and small, was undergoing rapid change,
accompanied by the normal growing pains, the West’s dependency on the Middle
East oil, and the strategic importance of several states as buffers against a
potential Soviet excursion into the oil regions and the warm waters of the
had remained unchanged.
Old paradigms, new
Several global events
served as milestones along the way to a newer world order. The nationalization
oil industry in 1951 brought the British dominance over the region’s energy
resources into serious question. The military coup of 1953, staged by the CIA
and the British, punished the nation for that intransigence, but the newborn
rebellion against the status quo continued to grow.
Next came the
so-called defensive wars that Israel waged against its
Arab neighbors in 1967 and 1973, resulting in very fortuitous territorial gains
The spoiled brat supported by its superpower benefactor across the seas began
its systematic devastation of the Palestinians and their ancestral lands, thus
creating an ever widening chasm between the United
hundreds of millions of Arabs and non-Arab Moslems. Nevertheless, oil continued
to flow, thanks to the loyal and obedient leaders of the oil states who were
happy to accommodate in spite of the sentiments of their oppressed masses.
The downfall of the
monarchy and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 was a
serious wakeup call heralding the end to the business as usual in the Middle East.
Finally, the collapse
of the Soviet
Union created a vacuum for the emergence of a new and
formidable candidate, Islam, to replace the old global counterbalance to the
As we entered the new
century, two sleepy and for the most part ignored giants had already come out of
sun was rising prominently to the east, and Islamic militancy was rapidly
gaining momentum as a serious power to be reckoned with.
Now, as the deadline
at the United Nations Security Council is at hand to consider imposing sanctions
against Iran for refusing to stop its uranium enrichment activities, there could
be little doubt as to what Iran’s response will be. Frankly, it is rather
presumptuously arrogant of even a superpower these days to expect that its
bullying tactics would be taken seriously by a rising regional power with
excellent reasons for its self-confidence. In fact, the voice of the
States at the UN
Security Council could not have come from a less credible mouth, that of John
Bolton, whose transparent affiliations beg for reciprocal mistrust and
antagonism by the Iranian regime.
New realities on the
Only two states in the
Middle East have thus far been able to stand up to our demands and get away with
their blatant belligerence, Israel
and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Others who tried to be defiant have faced
horrible consequences, even if at great expense to ourselves.
was initially cleansed from the Taliban control and the country was basically
abandoned in ruins, and the Taliban are now making a comeback, interestingly
with much local support. The defiant Saddam Hussein is in jail and his
has been torn to pieces with hardly any hope of reunification.
Israel’s boisterous assault
on the Hezbollah forces has devastated Lebanon’s infrastructure and
infuriated even the competing factions in the Islamic Middle East against the
Jewish state, as well as the United
blindly supporting it.
consequences of our misguided efforts in our so-called war on terror in the
Middle East are
now flying at our face. First, by threatening the Islamic Republic of Iran with
regime change, sanctions and even military attack we have in effect legitimized
and strengthened the position of the hard-line conservative ruling class.
Second, by failing to accomplish our stated objectives in Afghanistan and especially
in Iraq, and now in the
aftermath of Israel’s Lebanese debacle,
position, prestige and influence have been gaining ground.
Knowing fully well
that the Security Council will not approve imposing economic sanctions against
we are openly and officially threatening to go it alone. If this is not
diplomatic masochism I don’t know what is. What in the name of sanity are we
after? We might as well appoint the windbag Rush Limbaugh as the new Secretary
of State, the consummate spin artist Bill O’Reilly as the new Secretary of
Defense, and the psychopath Michael Savage as our new Ambassador to the UN. I am
sure the arch Zionist Michael Ledeen would be a good candidates, then, as our
expert policy maker in our Middle
East affairs. This way, I am confident, the level of
incompetence will be well preserved!
Thinking well outside
According to most
credible intelligence reports, if Iran
opts out of the NPT and is left unchecked to pursue a nuclear weapons program,
should it desire to do so, it would be almost ten years before it could enrich
enough fissile material to develop its first atomic bomb. The first question is:
Why would Iran
desire to devote so much energy and expense, as well as create potential
international concerns, to acquire a nuclear weapons capability? The second
question is: Why should Iran’s nuclear weapons
capability be of concern to the United States of
Finally, what could possibly be the incentive for, and the likelihood of, a
initiating aggressive actions
against another state in the region or outside?
decade-long open threats of regime change and outright attack on Iran by the
Unites States and Israel, as well as the presence of America’s nuclear fleet and
the Israeli nuclear-capable submarines patrolling the waters of the Persian
Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, the Iranian regime would be
betraying the trust of the nation by not doing everything possible to acquire
the maximum deterrent tool against potential aggression by such powerful
adversaries. If Iran
does not have its nuclear deterrent at this time, failing to at least acquire
the technology and the materiel for a retaliatory response, should the need
arise in the future, would be a horrible strategic mistake. As long as
“preemption-happy” Israel remains a nuclear power, and as long as no one could
safely count on the Pakistani nuclear weapons not to fall into unpredictable
hands, and as long as American forces remain poised for a potential attack upon
Iran, it would be illogical and unreasonable to expect the Islamic Republic’s
leadership to bow to the demands to abandon its nuclear research and development
projects. It is really that simple and I am sure we all know that.
It is, therefore,
quite apparent that Iran’s nuclear issue is just
a pretext or excuse for some higher objective, as was the issue of WMDs before
the invasion of Iraq.
That higher objective cannot be anything other than regime-change in
It would be redundant
for me to elaborate here why the promotion of “freedom” and “democracy” could
not possibly be what would motivate us to press for a regime change in
In truth, a compliant, dictatorial regime, very much like Iran
under the Shah, but much more ruthless in cracking down on dissents or
opposition movements, and much more capable of violating all sorts of human
rights than before, would be the perfect recipe.
In fact, should some
internal uprising topple the clerical leadership and lead to a much anticipated
democratic reform, there is absolutely no reason to assume that the new system
would abandon the current confrontational stance and drop its guards against the
States and Israel.
So, what could our
motives be for insisting on a regime change in Iran?
In other words, what do we stand to gain by such a regime change? Unless we
anticipate that the new regime will be installed by our hands and manned and
managed by our own people, an independent and democratic Iran
will have no reason to abandon its position of advantage it has been gaining as
a regional powerhouse. It should also be more than obvious in this day and age
that a country like Iran, after what it has gone through during the past three
decades, will never accept any regime change that is imposed from the outside to
serve the outsider’s interests. It is, therefore, clear that any regime change
promoted by other than the Iranians inside Iran
would be a stupid mistake.
An architect’s dilemma
An architect is
assigned the job of creating the ideal resort facility in a most valuable piece
of real estate. There is, however, a big problem; a large outcropping at the
center of the property is in the way of his construction plans. The rock is
simply too big and too deeply rooted to be dynamited out of the way. Rather than
waste time and expense on a futile effort, the architect decides to look for
better alternatives. His only choices are to either isolate the rock and block
it from view, or to incorporate it into the plan as an integral part of the
architecture. The latter choice would make much more sense.
Do I really need to
draw you a clearer picture?
The following is an
encapsulation of some thoughts that can only occur when one chooses to think
outside the proverbial box:
United States officially
reemphasizes its defense treaty with the state of Israel, guaranteeing Israel’s
territorial safety and integrity against any and all attacks.
2- This treaty will be
contingent upon Israel agreeing to abide by a new peace settlement to be signed
with the Hamas led Palestinian government, requiring the return, in good
condition, of all illegal Israeli settlements built in the West Bank and Gaza,
and establishing the international borders between the new Palestinian state and
Israel as those before 1967.
3- The money allocated
annually for Israel as
financial aid or otherwise will, from now on, be divided equally between
Israel and the new Palestine.
must join the NPT and abandon its stockpile of nuclear weapons
United States and
Iran sign a joint
non-aggression treaty, and the United
States officially abandons all attempts to foment a regime
change within Iran. Full diplomatic and economic
relations will resume between the two states.
6- Pursuant to the
establishment of a Palestinian state, Iran will officially recognize Israel
and a non-aggression treaty will be signed between the two states.
7- The Middle East
will be declared a nuclear-weapons-free region, Pakistan will be
forced to abandon its nuclear weapons project, and the entire region will be
under constant monitoring by the IAEA.
States shall keep its non-nuclear-armed fleet, as
well as sufficient land bases in and around the region as necessary to maintain
order and safeguard against potential violations of non-aggression treaties.
9- An autonomous Free
Kurdistan will be formed in Northern Iraq, provided that the new state signs
non-aggression treaties with the neighboring Turkey and Iran.
10- The areas south of
Kirkuk will be
declared as the new Islamic Republic of Iraq.
This, in effect, will
create a new Middle East that might have a good
chance to remain coherent and stable. Iran’s sphere of influence will stretch through
Iraq and Afghanistan and the oil regions of the Persian
Gulf, making Iran the natural
policeman of the region, this time with both parties’ blessings,
Iran and the United
A more secure and
prosperous Iran will no doubt gravitate toward
positive reforms, democratization and broader social and cultural openings that
have remained on hold for far too long. The same fears and inhibitions that
persuade us here in America to
accept infringements on our freedoms and liberties, are also at work in
Iran, providing the rationale for that
nation’s conservative core to legitimize its position and tighten its
With American money
and might and with a new alliance with the regional superpower,
Iran, we will be able to dig
ourselves out of the current quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, while our war on terror
can proceed on the course it was intended to follow from the beginning. This
alliance will also help alleviate the incentives behind the historical regional
grievances between the warring factions in Palestine, Lebanon, and even in Afghanistan.
The other option, I am
afraid, is facilitating the prophesied Armageddon so that we might all go up in
flames and never worry again about the stability of the Middle East; there will
be no Middle East left to worry about!
... Payvand News - 8/31/06 ... --