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Steering Iran away from Russia

By Jalal Alavi


Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the terror events of 11 September 2001, the world has, as a result of US opportunism, witnessed the creation or intensification of three major trends in international politics: the re-emergence of an agitated Russia – as reflected by Vladimir Putin’s remarks in the Munich conference of 10 February – as a bastion against further US expansionism in Central as well as Southwest Asia; a more aggressive brand of terrorism associated with self-styled Islamist movements – Sunni and Shia alike – intent on challenging traditional US influence in the Middle East; and a sort of Cold War-like preoccupation with matters related to global security and defense on the part of the Western democratic community, which is very much emerging at the expense of that community’s capacity and desire for tending such issues as human rights and democratization in the hitherto undemocratic segments of the developing world.


The US establishment of military bases in Central Asia in the immediate aftermath of the terror events of 11 September 2001; its occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, ostensibly as a result of the same terror events; its threats of war and nuclear bombardment against Iran; its efforts in expanding North Atlantic Treaty Organization influence in Asia and Europe; and its plans to install missile shields and radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic respectively, can all be said to have contributed to Russia’s intensified agility toward further US expansionism in and around its vicinity.  This agility, of course, was very much reflected in Putin’s remarks at the Munich conference, in which he condemned the Bush administration’s twin policies of global domination and unilateralism as schemes that would ultimately undermine Russia’s strategic position in the international system.


As far as terrorism is concerned, various independent, as well as governmental, sources and studies worldwide have so far concluded that the US’ belligerent behavior in the region has greatly contributed to the exacerbation of such a horrific global trend.  America’s strategic occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, which took place as a direct result of its exploitation of the combined opportunity provided by the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the events of 11 September 2001, have not only given reactionary groups in those countries the upper hand, but also have provided external terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda with the opportunity to militarily engage and, thus, prolong the presence of US-led forces there indefinitely; hence the lack of stability and the unfortunate high levels of death and destruction the world has been witnessing ever since.


As for the West’s somewhat renewed Cold War mentality toward issues of global security – which has mainly come about as a result of Russia’s re-emergence in world politics, and China’s economic growth and, in turn, political influence in Asia and parts of Africa – one cannot but suspect the eventual surfacing of yet another long period of détente, in which the plight of Third World populations for democratic governance and human rights is completely trampled upon and shunned so as to accommodate “higher” principles.


It goes without saying that, from a Western perspective, such a détente would also unfortunately have to include, at some strategic moment in time, the prospect of normalizing relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran to a point where it might even become necessary – just as before – to turn a blind eye to its myriad human and civil right abuses (quite like what the West has been engaged in for decades vis-à-vis other corrupt governments in the region).


Of course, the realization of such a prospect would depend, first and foremost, on the emergence of a more unified, and thus more oppressive, government in Iran, which has already somewhat come about as a result of the Bush administration’s belligerent attitude towards the clerical regime, as well as a renewed abandonment by the democratic community of the Iranian people’s century-old struggle for democracy and human rights.  Absent pressing concerns about its own security, however, neither the increasingly oppressive nature of the Islamic Republic nor the century-old predicament of the Iranian people would be of much importance to the West led by the United States, so long as it can keep the authoritarian regime in Iran (and others like it) from establishing too close a relationship with Russia.


Should the Islamic Republic somehow manage to escape an attack by the Bush administration – which would truly benefit everyone, including the US – by perhaps slightly modifying its rigid stance against the international community, and war-weary Democrats win the White House during the course of the next US presidential election, it is almost certain that the US, under new leadership, would see it fit to eventually initiate reconciliation efforts with the Iranian regime, in hopes that such reconciliation would, as mentioned earlier, not only steer Iran away from Russia, but also eventually open up its markets and government-owned industries to US influence and domination, in line with neoliberal principles dictated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.


Realizing that the default state for the major powers – democratic and authoritarian alike – in matters related to foreign policy and relations with the developing world has hitherto been mainly one of exploitative coexistence based on a lack of regard for the populations involved, one cannot but expect the next round of détente and its attendant relations of power to be much worse than the one already experienced in the aftermath of the Second World War, not least as a result of rampant globalization processes and more urgent dominational tendencies on the part of the world’s strongest economies.


Whether such dynamics and major power rivalries as mentioned above will lead to the formation of the sort of avant-garde social movements and grassroots organizations we would like to witness in the developing world remains to be seen.  One thing for certain, though, is that evaluating the current climate in international relations in terms associated with the Cold War and its attendant dynamics is not at all anachronistic as some would want us to believe, more so as a result of the internal dynamics of the global capitalist economy and Russia’s debilitating position within it.


About the author: Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator residing in Britain.

... Payvand News - 3/26/07 ... --

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