With the election of the new hard-liner president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran and the world are heading towards a major confrontation. Before 1953, the majority of the Iranians did not have a negative opinion of the United States. Iranians had the most negative opinions toward Britain and Russia. The Iranians admired the Americans and they considered them as liberators who fought against colonization. During the 1906 Iranian Constitution Revolution, a young American schoolteacher named Howard Baskerville battled alongside Iranians in this revolution and lost his life. The distrust among the Iranians began with the CIA and MI6 overthrowing the elected Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammed Mossadeq. This event reshaped the Iranians' opinion of the United States, from fighting against colonialism to being one of them.
As Stephen Kinser, the author of the All the Shah's Men said: "Although the coup seemed a success at first, today serves a chilling lesson about the dangers of foreign intervention." One of the components of the 1979 revolution, which brought the Radical Islamist to Iran, was the hostility toward the American government as an Imperialist power. Many political and military experts in the west have discussed using a military Air Strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as the only way to contain Iran. Although they believe it is not possible to attack Iran with the same intensity as the United States did in Iraq, they argue the limited Air Strike against Iran is possible and must be done to prevent Iran to acquire nuclear weaponry. These experts believe that the limited Air Strike is the only way to counter Iran, but they are unaware of the complicated consequences of invading Iran. The limited military intervention neither changes the behavior of the regime nor does it make the regime collapse. The intervention may instead cause a setback to the democratic movement in Iran.
The major agent of change in Iran is the people, who have been impatient with political and economic repression in the Islamic Republic in the last 28 years. Through those years, the Iranians have had their opportunity to show their impatience through the election process. In 1997, a reformist named Mohammad Khatami, using slogans promoting civil society and democracy, won the presidency by more than 20 million votes; and in 2001 he won the re-election by more than 23 million votes. Although the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 with 13 million votes was considered by many hard-liners as the victory for them and their platforms, it was more a victory against the country's establishment led by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The 2005 election also saw more than 20 million people boycott the election in protest against the regime. A potential conflict with Iran can produce a massive fear among the majority of the Iranians who are dissatisfied with the regime and bring them under the government's umbrella for their safety. For the last 28 years, the regime has meticulously fed the Iranians with anti-American propaganda and an attack on Iran could legitimize the regime's claim of America as an invader.
Foreign policy is a continuation of the domestic policy. Foreign policy cannot change unless the structure of the government changes. If the U.S. is trying to change the behavior of the Islamic Republic, then the U.S. should focus on the structural change of the regime. Therefore, the interests of the U.S. and the interests of the young unsatisfied Iranians who want greater freedom and more opportunity should be intertwined. The U.S.' limited military intervention in Iran can break the coherence that exists between the Iranians who demand freedom and the U.S.'s goal in the region. Furthermore, it can damage the reputation that America has among the Iranian people. Although the Iranian people are unhappy with their government; they will get behind their government if there is military action against the Iranian facilities by the U.S. or any other country. The military action might also provoke the nationalist feelings among Iranians and bring hatred toward America. Furthermore, the military action can turn the anger of dissatisfaction among Iranians with their existing conditions against the western powers, especially the U.S.
The possible military action against Iran provides fertile ground to ethnical unrest against Iran's central government, causing massive chaos that can impact an already unstable Middle East. Iran has a significantly diverse population. Although the official language of Iran is Persian (Farsi), only 51% of the population is Persian. Turks make 24% of population, followed by Kurds (7%) and Arabs (3%).
Today's Iraq is in front of us; there has been three years of bloody battle in Iraq and this has endangered the unity and national integrity of the country following the invasion of the U.S. and its allies. The future of Iran can be like Iraq or even worse; Iran has a very strong influence on its neighboring countries and throughout the Middle East. For the last 28 years, the Iranian regime has supported the Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, and other Islamic organizations in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. Many of the current leaders in the Iraq including Ibrahim Jaffari, the Iraqi Prime Minister, have strong ties with Iran and some of them have lived in Iran for many years. Should military action be used against them, Iran's influence in the region gives the regime the upper hand to spread violence throughout the Middle East and the world. Military action against Iran will not topple the regime, but it will enforce them to export crisis throughout the region.
To undermine its weakness and attempt to overthrow the Iranian regime, there is no choice but to export its domestic problems to the world. In order to stop the Iranian government's rebellion and unrest in the world, we should find a reasonable solution. Any successful solution must consider the demands of democracy by the people of Iran as well as the country's sovereignty. Furthermore, the solution must address the structural change of regime, to reshape it into one that respects international law. The Iranians have repeatedly shown their desire for change, through the women's movement, students' movement, and the labor movement. The hostility towards the U.S. is vital for the survival of this regime and its leaders because the Islamic regime uses the anti-American propaganda to mobilize public opinion in their interest. Taking away these tools from the Islamic regime makes the regime lose its control over the majority of the people. The Islamic Republic has used the nuclear issue in its own favor to provoke the nationalistic feeling among Iranians. And ironically, the military attack could provide more power to the Islamic Regime to mobilize public opinion against the west.
Amin Shariatzadeh and Farzad Khalili are students in the United States. To contact them please e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
... Payvand News - 3/10/06 ... --