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Iran and the West: Capitalizing on the Nuclear Standoff

By Jalal Alavi


Serious international crises are often rare, yet, to a great extent, precious to those who can effectively take advantage of them.  When a crisis of such grand dimensions as that of the standoff between the 'international community' and the Islamic 'Republic' of Iran occurs, it is only customary for all the parties involved to attempt to capitalize on the situation as best they can.  Such behaviour can, of course, be either positive or negative in nature (or both), insofar as it relates to profit maximization and loss minimization considerations respectively.  Below are some observations and concluding remarks in this regard.


In taking advantage of the standoff with Iran, the Bush administration hawks have craftily managed to aggrandize Iran's nuclear activities to such a level as would enable them the possibility of armed conflict and eventual regime change.  Apart from their natural proclivity to the use of force, this is generally because concerns for energy and the security of Israel play pivotal roles for the foreign policy establishment in the United States (US).  The European trio, Britain, Germany and France, save for a military option against Iran, are mostly supportive of the US concerns mentioned above.  Japan is also acting in tandem in this regard with the US and its European allies for economic and geopolitical reasons of its own.  Perhaps what brings all these countries together in a time like this is their shared interest in the long-term stability of the price of oil.


Russia and China, on the other hand, by opposing the drafting of a UNSC resolution that would link the standoff with Iran to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, have shown a great deal of resilience so far against much of neoconservative politicking by the Bush administration hawks.  No one can be too sure yet about the true nature of their resilience, or to what extent it will last; however, more than anything, such resilience can arguably be due to their perceived long-term strategic and geopolitical interests, as well as to their (re)emerging status as global giants.  For the Russians, the geopolitical factor becomes doubly important since any further expansion by the US of its influence in the Middle East would necessarily mean an infringement upon their long-term security interests.  This, of course, is despite the fact that another Iraq-like war in the Middle East would render the whole region totally unstable, if not downright uninhabitable due to a possible use of nuclear weapons by the US.


In the case of Iran, the regime has tactfully managed to divert attention from the high costs of its nuclear programme - financial, environmental or otherwise - to one involving a national debate over enrichment rights.  As a result, all voices of dissent have been effectively silenced, so as to project a false image of national unity abroad.  Ultimately, this sort of oppressive pseudo-nationalistic behaviour could prove useful to the regime since the combination of internal pressures and external concerns have made clear that the Islamic Republic has reached the logical and practical conclusion of its tenure, and that it is now facing serious and unrelenting challenges from both within and abroad.  Historically speaking, this is a result of the many contradictions the regime has either violently suppressed or created by way of its self-centred and totalitarian approach to socio-political phenomena.  The current standoff with the West, then, could provide the regime with yet another opportunity to hold on to power for a while longer.


As can be seen from the brief explanations above, the major powers, as well as the Iranian regime, have all tried to take ample advantage of the crisis at hand.  The majority population in Iran, on the other hand, has had no voice and no positive stakes in the current stalemate right from the very beginning and, as a result, has been forced to a position of silence and despair.  To them, a negotiated solution that does not take their plight into consideration is just as bas as a military strike, if only because the end result will be the same: a more systematic occupation by the Islamic Republic of the political space that should rightfully be theirs.  It is high time, therefore, that concern for freedom and democracy parallel any negotiations over Iranian nuclear ambitions.  In the end, this would, indeed, prove more useful to the safety of the international community.


About the author: Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator residing in Britain.  Please see: for a related article by this same author.



... Payvand News - 5/21/06 ... --

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