By B. Bahrami, UK
Politic is not a funny matter but the past and present actions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have shown that you need a great sense of humor to be able to stand the look of these sanctimonious humbugs. Five years of relentless inspections, probes and agreements had got us into this perverse situation where the US demand the complete rollback of our nuclear technology and our 'confession' in trying to make nuclear weapons. Mr. El Baradei acting as US chief interlocutor translate their demands into political case, referring to the fraudulent so called 'the laptop of death', stated that "Iran should provide substantive information to support its statements and access to relevant documentations and individuals". He further added that "Iran should clarify the extent to which the documentation is factually correct and where, as it asserts, such information has been fabricated or where it relates to non-nuclear purposes". Seemingly IAEA does not have a shopping list for information and is fishing for anything it can lay its hands on.
However, funny matters tend to distract us from the serious stuff, former Bush's undersecretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns, in a rare moment of candor put this plainly "Iran needs to learn to respect us, Iran certainly needs to respect American power in the Middle East". So it is not the nuclear research or security threat to the Israel that defines the struggle between Iran and U.S., it is Iran's disregards for U.S. power. Noam Chomsky explains this best; "International affairs is very much run like the mafia. The godfather does not accept disobedience, even from a small storekeeper who doesn't pay his protection money. You have to have obedience otherwise the idea can spread that you don't have to listen to the orders and it can spread to important places".
However, the apparent façade of Bush folksiness, his self-deprecating jokes and presence of people with nickname like Prince of Darkness (Vice President Cheney) in his administration have given rise to the wrong impression among Iranian policy makers that U.S. administration(s) have been filled with and led by a group of incompetent and bumbling fool (albeit psychotic). Looking at recent U.S. military and financial failures, you would be forgiven to assume that this might be the case. On the contrary, the truth is far from that, not all the US administration are moron. In fact there are army of highly skilled and intelligent planners who are working feverishly behind this mask of banality furthering their interests.
More importantly, the constant policy shift on Iran by U.S. administrations have been due to changes in their priorities, external factors and lack of understanding of Iranian psyche rather than design, loss of interest in Iran or their incompetency. For the past thirty years, U.S. policies have swung from immediate regime change to setting a motion the events and circumstances that cause the eventual collapse of Iranian regime. After failure to bring about a quick regime-change through Saddam Hussein as a proxy army, the change in the nature of Iran-Iraq war to the war of attrition provided the U.S. with a mean to accomplish its goals of weakening and wearing down Iran's economy as well as achieving her social destruction. At the same time U.S. immediate concern was switched to the international struggle to contain Soviet expansion. In fact there were some in U.S. policy makers who believed Islamic Republic, due to its ideology, could be assimilated successfully in this struggle. Under 'Reaganism doctrine' U.S. began arming and running death squads in Central America, training Mujahidin in Afghanistan and invading small countries such as Grenada. Thus, U.S. planners were mostly involved in transforming U.S. foreign policy from "Nixonian twin pillars" security doctrine of local strong men to 'Carter's Rapid Deployment Force' which in fact was in direct response to Iranian revolution. In short, during the 80's U.S. was primarily concerned with curbing Soviet Union's sphere of influence and another "axis of evil". As then the Vice President Dan Quayle put it "the axis of Cuba, Nicaragua and Panama" opposes the United States and democracy in the region. Who said that U.S. can't recycle?
However, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union 'under her own weight' changed the U.S. fortune, transforming it from one of the superpowers to all dominate force a 'hyperpower', therefore, changing its priorities. Throughout the 90's the new Russian Federation was financially bankrupt and constantly on her death bed due to corruption, mismanagement and desertion. Meanwhile, another would-be superpower, China was busy preventing her own version of glasnost and at the same time trying to implement only the perestroika. Providing for U.S. the time and scope to measure the extents and limits of her newfound power. This was very much on show in the first Persian Gulf war in 1991'Operation Desert Shield', Somalia 'Operation Restore Hope' in 1992 and US-led NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslav in 1999 'Operation Allied Force'. During this period the foundation of 'The Project for the New American Century' (PNAC, 1997) and strategic doctrine of 'full spectrum dominance' was laid by neo-conservative activists, and politicians with ties to the oil industry and Pentagon, culminating to policy document in September 2000 titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century", charting the establishment of the new socio-economic 'Pax Americana' under U.S. global military dominance. Interestingly, although this group had the blueprint for the new empire, they had to wait for the election of Bush junior, and the 11th of September attacks to fully implement all aspects of their doctrine as the U.S. government policy, since the military part of the doctrine had already been put to the test in limited form by U.S. military in Sudan, Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. Importantly, in the Middle East it is the Israel domination of the region that defines U.S. policy. Therefore, to maintain the status quo, the region should be governed by compliance client rulers and be divided. Zio-cons recognized Saddam's regime as totally corrupt, relying entirely on his notorious secret police as a primary mainstay of his rule, and his military command filled with incompetent and corrupt officers made it a poster boy for U.S. military showboating and regime change. To this effect, in 1996 Richard Perle heading a "Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000" prepared a report for then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", envisaged the scenario where "Israel can shape its strategic environment", in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, beginning by removal of Saddam Hussein from power, "an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right". He continued "Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights [to the occupied land], especially in their territorial dimension, 'peace for peace', is a solid basis for the future".
Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defence in 1999, at a panel discussion in Washington Institute stated "Had President George Bush not intervened after Saddam invaded Kuwait, there is a very real possibility that there would have been within a few years a nuclear war between Iraq and Israel. Moreover, Yasir Arafat was forced to make peace once radical alternatives like Iraq had disappeared". Considering, now the defunct Oslo peace accords came about primarily due to the financial boycott of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) by Persian Gulf States, resulting in its near bankruptcy. Hamas, which unlike PLO, did not support the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, became the sole recipient of Persian Gulf States funding and was able to expand its power, and its presence in occupied territories, forcing PLO leadership to make deal with Israelis at any cost. Thus, it is evident that for Israel to legitimize its occupation and to extend its regional dominance it needs a weak, corrupt and vacillating leadership that it can deal with! Shlomo ben-Ami, former Israeli Foreign Minister, in his interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now gave a good insight into PLO leadership mindset during the Oslo accord; "He [Arafat] saw how he was losing control of the destiny of the Palestinians. So in Oslo, he made enormous concessions .... reaching an agreement that didn't even mention the right of self-determination for the Palestinians, doesn't even mention the need of the Israelis to put an end to settlements". Thus, the choice of Iraq as the first country to invade was based on a design to suit the overall Israel-U.S. plan rather than a firm belief of its WMD capability.
Another important point which prevented Iran from becoming the number one target for Zio-cons has been the American desire to expand their empire on the cheap. In their view, with the help of Saudi's money and ideology they would be able to quarantine and eventually quash Iran without the need to confront Iran directly, avoiding the enormous financial pressure and material cost that this would entail. Since the 1970s Saudi royal families have been acting as CIA banker and god father of Wahabi brand of fundamentalist Sunni Islam, supporting diverse group such as right wing terrorist such as Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan, Al-Qaida in Iraq to Jihadists in Indonesia. This perverse situation has worked well for the U.S., on one hand they have kept the idea of Middle East as a basket case alive, while on the other, continued with the idea of war of civilizations in the West, based on the actions of their own protégé. Consequently, U.S. has been able to control and shape the Arab-Israeli conflict, and orchestrating the violence and carnage in the whole world, once in the defense of democracy and once through Saudis in defense of Islam. In short, events in the past 29 years and Americans ambitions, priorities and miscalculation overtake their desire for quick regime-change in Iran giving us the time to rebuild our defences.
Zio-cons using post 9/11 social and political atmosphere to launch a perpetual global war on terror, termed in quasi-religious terms as a war of civilization that can only be won by U.S.. The U.S. National Security Strategy announced in September 2002, declared that deterrence and containment are no longer valid. At the same time U.S. administration embolden by the ease by which Taliban resistance capitulated, rejected the Iranians overture and labeled Iran a member of "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea. Paradoxically, this assessment was in part the results of Iranian willingness to voluntarily co-operate with U.S. militarily and politically in aftermath of 9/11 attack, in removal of Taliban and installing U.S. oriented government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. In another miscalculation by Iranian political elite in May 2003 after the fall of Saddam and emergence of new structures of a post-Saddam Iraqi government, Iranian government calculating the effect that this could have on the U.S. foreign policy framework, providing the opportunity to resolve and or increase cooperation with the U.S. on a wider set of issues, forwarded a two-page proposal for a broad Iranian-U.S. agreement covering all the issues separating the two countries. U.S. administration interpreted this overture as yet another 'sign of fears' in Tehran that it would be next, a contemptuous deduction which happily ignored the fundamental differences in the society, nature and military structure/capabilities of both governments.
These spur Zio-cons to implement their domino-effect doctrine in order to achieve their new Middle East plan. Nonetheless, the Bush administration by 2007 was already hamstrung by a number of realities; foremost US military bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan was too thinly spread to be able to take on Iran militarily in a sustained fashion and also did not have enough credibility or time to pursue yet another regime change, thereby forcing the U.S. policy makers to embrace diplomatic approach with Iran, while maintaining their belligerent rhetoric and military posture up to enhance the psychological pressure.
Zio-cons recognizing these constrains have been hard at work to decouple Iraq fiasco from attacking Iran. To that extend the 2006 attack on Lebanon not only was supposedly be a miniature strike plan against Iran, it also evidently the focal point where axis of Zio-cons, Israelis and Arab despot began the work to roll back Iranian influence in the region. Defeat of Israeli army in 33 days war against Hezbollah resulted in changes in Zio-con strategy working harder to forge Saudi-led unity with Israel to regroup under 'Persian threat umbrella'.
This was very much evident in the extraordinary plea in 2006 by Israeli Brigadier General Oded Tira (Ret): "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American air strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him [Bush] pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and U.S. newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure". He further referred to Israeli-Saudi nexus as another pillar of this plan "We must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran".
However, now that new administration is about to take over there are those who hope it would take stock from the past failures and we might see new approach to the Iranian needs and concerns. Alas, both Republican and Democratic parties approach to Iran differ only on how to pursue the U.S. war against Iran not the war itself. During the Clinton presidency, although U.S. invested much energy in building the image of softening its position on reformist President Khatami administration, in reality they maintained the policy of 'Dual Containment' of Iran and Iraq. At the same time they tried to undermine his administration by arguing that he has limited legal and actual power for formal negotiation. In fact during the first term of Clinton administration U.S. imposed sets of economical sanction including total trade embargo and investment in Iran by U.S. companies and also extra territorial Iran-Libya sanctions which was designed to coincide and block Iran's major effort to open its energy sector to foreign investments.
Zio-cons and Zio-conservatism philosophy is not dead yet, the "crazies in the basement" as Bush senior euphemiously called them, have already began to regroup and will comeback as democrats, human right activists and patriots. The rebirth of group such as 'The Committee on the Present Danger' an advocacy organization to address the War on terrorism is one example. Furthermore, in anticipation of new administration they already washed their hands off the Bush administration policies. Kenneth Adelman, a lifelong Zio-con and member of Defence Policy Board until 2005, who once infamously in 2002 wrote in Washington Post "liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk", only four years later in an article in Vanity Fair titled 'Neo Culpa' says "he hugely overestimated the abilities of the Bush team. ... They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional". So in their new reincarnation they would try to maintain the same failed policy against Iran irrespective of whom resided in the White House.
Clever side of U.S. policy
Now that US military and financial powers are visibly waning throughout the world, crucially the current economical problem that befall world economical institutes was emanated from U.S., have delegitimized the U.S. government position as a sole global leader, forcing the U.S. planners to adopt the twin tracks diplomacy. First they are revisiting and dusting their neglected alliance with old and new aspiring colonial powers. Second they began in earnest clearing or neutralizing the regional obstacles which could hamper or withstand the new U.S. military and diplomatic surge.
Hence, we are witnessing the new fondness for all things diplomacy and U.N.. No more tide with straightjacket of Bush Zio-con ideology U.S. planner trying to reintegrate U.S. imperial goals in the more humane and innocuous face while avoiding all mess that Zio-con ideology driven policies have created for United State and her allies. In fact the clever side of U.S. policy planners have already anticipating change in U.S. administration have begun implementing these new policies, in the hope of mollifying Europeans' and world opinion where anti-Bush sentiment runs high. After failed military preparatory plans for Gaza strip and Lebanon, they switched tact where now the Israelis agreeing truce with Hamas, and trying to shore up the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, even go as far as announcing that they would cut off funding for West Bank outposts! Even present escalation of economic blockade and military siege of Gaza is more to do with helping Mahmoud Abbas extending his presidency term which is due to finish by this January, giving him an excuse to use emergency power to limit and curtail the opposition and or dissuade Palestinians in voting for its political rival Hamas in any future elections, be it presidential, legislative or municipal. The Arab League approves Doha Agreement between the Lebanese parties which gave Hezbollah a greater share of power! There is no doubt that the National Intelligence report on Iranian nuclear activities which concluded "Tehran stopped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003", was based on this shift in policy. This new tactic implement a fail-safe strategy by which U.S. can choose a time at its convenience to redefine the nature of Iranian nuclear work as a threat.
Furthermore, recent Security Council sanctions are also a distinct feature this policy. For example the choice of the word 'delivery system' in Security Council Resolutions 1737 and ambiguity which it entails is an important part of these plan of an escalating 'force curve', because it provides the rationale for putting embargo not only on our missile system but also on Air force as well as artillery pieces since any of these can be used for delivery system. This shows that U.S. long term plan is to disarm Iranians in order to prevent us to resist their proxy aggression(s). Furthermore, Iranian under Security Council sanction provides them with shadow of legitimacy for their own additional sanctions and to coerce other government to follow suit.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize that European disagreement with 'American grand strategy' did not stem from the moral, human right concerns or even international laws and political norm. When they talked about the U.S. unilateral actions or Iraq invasion they are actually talking about brazen U.S. implementation of their stated policy "maintaining global U.S. pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests". This can be seen by the anathema in which U.S. approached the Common European Security and Defense Policy and idea of European army which would be independent of NATO and U.S command. Nick Cohen in Observer put this succinctly "America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington".
To sum up, U.S. will not vacate the role of sole superpower willingly in spite of her inability to achieve its minimum objectives since the collapse of Soviet Union. For example even while it is paying lip service to common values and shared responsibilities between the West and Russia, or China, it has actively tried to isolate and marginalize both countries. As U.S. and her allies used rainbow colour revolutions to systematically remove or neutralize the Russian allies, NATO have encircled the Russia. In the mean time U.S. bought off one of China's regional allies - Pakistan, continued arming Taiwan and now recruiting India - one of China's regional rival to the existing U.S.-Japanese alliance, counter weighting her in Asia.
In short, the US administration aims have been, first to establish security structure that discourage Russia and China's ambition to become its rival superpower or dominant Asian power. Secondly, to secure U.S. control and access to the Persian Gulf and Caspian basin oil reserve, and to extend its commercial and political interests into the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Consequently, we should not put our hope that Western or Eastern greed and differences would be the saving grace that hamper and hopefully defeat their evil intention against Iran. Since history have shown, from agreement between Tsarist Russia and Imperial Britannia over division of Iran to understanding between Tsarist Russia, Britannia, France and Germany over railway between Persia and Iraq in 1907, that they always put their respective interest above their differences. Therefore they eventually will come to some accommodation with each other. As 100 years ago British defined the agreement over Tehran-Baghdad railway a "discussions concerning railway lines should be pursued a quatre", amongst four country "rather a deux". Even present spat between Russia and West over Georgia or missile defense is no more than storm in tea cup as when West pays the political price the Russian demand they would patch up their differences. As for China, it holds over $699 billion U.S. securities, including U.S. public debt, they already holding their enemy close. Thus, our foreign policy should not be based on the hope that we would be able to steer our policies in between the cracks among our adversaries as these are short lived and fraught with its own problems, rather our policies should reflect our needs based on our strength and most certainly not based on dogmatism, rhetoric and group interest. This conclusion will come again.
Weighing Costs and Benefits
The regional changes and political success of Iranian government have shown they are able to play a good political game. However, their lack of corresponding level of diplomatic skills and expertise have been their Achilles heel, which was evident from 1981 Algiers accord, low compensation level for Iranian victim of U.S. downing Iran-Air flight 655, and Paris accord, where they have not been able to formulate a successful diplomatic accord that is 'binding' or secure better redress or compensation for Iranian citizen. In all these cases it is either the agreement did not worth the paper it was written on or we have been hood winked out of our rights. Considering Iran has the long history of diplomatic dealing with foreign powers this lack of effectiveness can only be explained by either the feudalistic structure of Iranian government or the secrecy by which political elites exclude Iranian citizen from decision making process.
Following the Paris accord it took awhile for President Khatami administration to grasp the full significance of putting our faith in the European governments, but after the new administration of president Ahmadinejad came to power they began to reverse the trend of giving something for nothing strategy to please European in the hope of compartmentalization of our problems and working on their supposedly differences with the U.S..
The chasm that cannot be overcome between the U.S. and West, and Iran from present protracted IAEA inspection and intergovernmental discussion is that they view these as means for intelligence gathering and legitimizing the total roll back of Iranian nuclear industry period. While Iranians see it as means for confidence buildings. However, mixed signals from Iranian policy makers and political in fighting have given the wrong impression to the West that despite of repeated denial at some level of pressure the Iranians would capitulate. Principal point for the west to digest is that no Iranian leader can relinquish our right to nuclear technology to foreign governments whim.
Iranian government should take this into consideration that resolution of Iranian nuclear dispute cannot be achieved in vacuum and the principal issues are primarily Iranian regional influence, defense capabilities and then nuclear. Hence, offer of legally binding agreement over supply of nuclear fuel is a ruse that will end with this condition: the economic sanctions imposed on Iran would be reviewed and lifted once Iran disarmed and international inspectors verify the destruction of our nuclear weapon programme capability. We have been at this point before where the legally binding treaty constituted a particularly welcome confidence-building development in 2004. However, in practice it had a limited significance, especially having seen the way U.S. deal with its international obligations and the way the E.U. keep its accord with Iran. Tehran Declaration and subsequent Paris Agreement stated that "Iran voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities ... as long as negotiations proceed on a mutually acceptable agreement on long-term arrangements". In return EU-3 undertook to provide "firm guarantees on nuclear, technological and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues". However, some 8 month later EU-3 demanded the cessation and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, and permanently renouncing our right to enrich uranium. As for their 'firm guarantees' it metamorphosed into "not to impede participation in open competitive bidding". Thus far, Mr. Ahmadinejad administration approach has been fairly predictable and are mostly based on his personal experience. However, Iranian leaders should move beyond their angst or revolutionary rhetoric even if these are based on just grievances, as these do not serve Iranian national interest. The rhetoric should give way to a seasoned assessment of what happened and happening, not a vortex that our policies should turn round.
Alas, the lack of unity among Iranian elite, party politic and group interest has damaged our position in negotiation with the west. Furthermore, by maintaining schizophrenic foreign and internal policy we are in danger of undermining our internal position and expose Iranian government to political blackmail. Significantly, Iranian political elite should bear in mind that if they engage U.S. diplomatically in order to protect Iranian system rather than to protect Iran's interest, not only it is a Faustian bargain but also its expose them to political and military extortion. In 2007 Christian Science Monitor reported that Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Mr. Ali Larijani met with King Abdullah to deliver a letter "In which the Islamic Republic asked for help in easing tension between it and the US over Tehran's nuclear program .... and Iran would like Saudi Arabia to "help bring opinions together".
If this is a policy of 'keeping your friends close and your enemy closer', it is a poor one, more akin to the disastrous Ghajar policy of asking British to represent us in dealing with Tsarist Russia!
The inescapable conclusion is that policy that is formulated away from public scrutiny and formed on the basis of maintaining the secrecy, in order for Iranian political elite to be able to go on with their public rhetoric have beset the Iranian government with regards to her dealing with outside powers and especially the U.S. governments. Thus, amid a growing debate over whether we should begin to soften our position or give in to any agreement with the West we should remember that Zio-cons' beloved perpetual war is based on idea best described by this extract from a book by 'Democratic party policy maker' and a President Carter's National Security Advisor's Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, titled "The Grand Chessboard;"A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions..... perpetuate[ing] America's own dominant position for at least a generation and preferably longer" such that "no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also challenging America". He further offer these steps to achieve this aim; "first, to identify the geostrategically dynamic Eurasian states that have the power to cause a potentially important shift in the international distribution of power and to decipher the central external goals of their respective political elites and the likely consequences of their seeking to attain them; ... second, to formulate specific U.S. policies to offset, co-opt, and/or control the above...".
Therefore, the debate is not so much over whether we have light or heavy water reactors, or whether we have the uranium enrichment facility; it is over our right to chart our own future, the right of our future generations to new technology, alternative energy resources and defense capabilities and our position in the region. Dangerously for Iran, if the U.S. in particular and the West in general see that the idea behind the Iranian position with regards to nuclear compromise is to preserve the Iranian system rather than safe guarding the Iranian nations interest, we open ourselves to political and military blackmail and possibly aggression. Iran is now has become bad example for the rest of the world. For the U.S. to maintain its aura of invincibility and re-establish its 'credibility', we should be taught a lesson as another young, handsome, articulate and peace loving Democrat President Kennedy 47 years ago put it "Now we have a problem in making our power credible, and Vietnam is the place".
The only avenue out of this situation is negotiation based on strength that address Iran's technological, economical development and security concerns which avoid the pitfalls of the past agreements. We need to have a courage to make decision before it become a gut-wrenching choice for Iran, as it did in the end of Iran-Iraq war. I should remind Iranian elites to these comments by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein about the circumstances that he chose the time of aggression against Iran; "I did not want to give him [Ayatolah Khomeini] a chance to resolve the hostage crisis with the Americans. I preferred to meet him on the battlefield while most of the world was still siding against him. So you see, I had the diplomatic and military edge at this time".
More importantly we should put the notion that we might restore our relation with the west based on the 70's criteria or possibility that after the recent failures of U.S. direct military intervention they might revert back to some form of twin pillars doctrine, to rest. As in addition to the whole cabal of Arab sheikh, princes and life presidents, they have other countries in the region such as Turkey that is fully integrated in the western military and intelligence structure making acceptance of reemergence of Iran as a power within the region not only viewed by the west as an obstacle it is also viewed as a threat by their collaborator in the region. Thus, any reengagement of the west that is not backed with military, technological and financial strength is a folly.
Having said that we should demonstrate to the west that reengaging Iran is mutually beneficial for both parties. They should understand that without Iran, the Western security challenges cannot be met. Additionally, to enhance our strategic partnership we should demonstrate to the Europeans that Iran can be a reliable alternative energy supplier. We should demonstrate this not by rallies and bombastic speeches, rather by active foreign policy from point of strength. We should enhance our economic and military power and projection capabilities, and seek to normalize relations with Washington based on mutual respect and strategic interests. We should also develop our armed forces for eventual military confrontation that most probably would be in shape of regional military blackmail, threat or proxy war. As for short to medium term signs are that U.S. would revert back to war by proxy tactic as in the cold war era and our regional rivals would try to use their military or economical power to check Iranian influence in the region or extorted economical or political advantage from us.
At the same time we should make this point clear to the U.S. that if they have their own 'Monroe Doctrine' we Iranians also have our own Iranians version for over 3000 years which we are ready to defend.
As for nuclear program, the offer of Iran through President Ahmadinejad in 2005 speech to the U.N. General Assembly of "partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment program in Iran" is the best option forwards. Interestingly this offer is also in concurrence with Bruno Pellaud comprehensive report titled "Multilateral Nuclear Approaches" to the IAEA. Furthermore, there are already precedent for this agreement, the Urenco and the EURODIF. Iran is already partner in EURODIF (European Gaseous Diffusion Uranium Enrichment Consortium). Hence, the idea of ratification or implementation of 'Additional Protocol' should be only considered as a sign of good faith for set time and only after unconditional acceptance of Iran as one of supplier member for the future international nuclear fuel bank and if there must be an agreement for freezing the number of centrifuges in the Natanz, it should be accepted only when existing less reliable P-1 centrifuges, have been replaced with IR-2 Centrifuges to retain enrichment capacity as a contingency plan.
We should be well aware that U.S. and its allies would not give up on the policy of containment and sanctions, since they have identified economy and alienation of Iranian citizens from rolling class as our center of gravities. However, we should inform and prepare our compatriots that this is the price to pay for financial, energy and security of next Iranian generations and we Iranians should be more than willing to pay. The long term benefits far outweigh the passing present liabilities.
Iran and region
The imposed war have helped to (and should) shape and formulate our view of defense and self-sufficiency. However, This is not to say that we should have militaristic or paranoid view of the region, it is to say we should hold realistic view of our surrounding.
We are surrounded by countries that historically were our enemies, strategically rivals and at the same time our economical partner. Although we have good relationship with countries like Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Persian Gulf countries and India this relationships are inherently fluid. We are not only competing with Russia in gas and oil export to Europe and route for Central Asian republics, we also have dispute with Russia over equal division of Caspian Sea and its resources.
Pakistan has become a sanctuary and lunch pad for terrorism against Iran. In spite of its territorial dispute with India, in the wake of India's nuclear tests, it chose less than 50 km from Iranian border to carry out its nuclear test to restore a sense of a balance-of-power! Our neighbors in the south paid for every bullets and bombs that killed our boys and destroyed our country. Saddam Hussein point to this in his interview by Mike Wallace in 1988 (60 Minutes) stating "Gulf States were supporting my territorial claims and helping to maintain my supply lines. They even let me use their airfields to base my aircrafts". They gave green light to Iraq attack on Iran, as he put it "In August, before I invaded Iran [22, Sept. 1980], I consulted with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia". Interestingly, their brotherly actions still continue to the present day as in 2006 New York Times reported that during the Riyadh meeting between US vice-president, Dick Cheney, and Saudi King Abdullah "expressed strong opposition to the recommendation that Washington open diplomatic talks with Iran".
During the Iraqi aggression against our country until the last year of the war in 1989 Indian Air Force provided flying instructors and engineers for Saddam Hussein Air Force. Even more recently Indian government, at IAEA Vienna meeting in 2005, voted to censure Iran in support of the U.S. and the European Union sponsored resolution, rejecting the position taken by other Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The Indian government vote was cast while its own Ministry of External Affairs website written that with regards to Iran alleged violation of NPT these allegations were "not justified" and that it would "not be accurate to characterize the current situation as a threat to international peace and stability". Still, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani had this to say in response to the Indian vote "We should not lose a friend because of one incident". Another country and supposedly our closest ally in the Arab world and in the region, Syria, did not inform Iran about her clandestine meeting with Israeli regime and it was Israeli government that leak the meeting to embarrass and put pressure on the Syrian government. Statement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acting as intermediary between two countries also point to the Syrian desire for these meetings. As he put it "There was a request from Syria and Israel for this kind of an effort and Turkey will do its best in this regard". Furthermore, the comment by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in his interview on 28th of April 2008 nearly 8 month after Israel bombed alleged Syrian nuclear reactor, also indicated that the political self interest trump national pride in the case of Syrian, "It is a very promising development... There has been diplomatic traffic for the past year, which has intensified in the past few months". There are even reports that Syrian intelligence has already reestablished its contacts with U.S. and Israeli secret services by providing intelligence among other things for Israel's targeted assassinations such as Hezbollah commander Imad Mugnieh and recent U.S. military raid in eastern Syria to snatch suspected Jihadist, allegedly!
Russia and China are another two countries that view their relation with Iran only in term of commerce rather than strategic partnership. Their voting pattern at U.N. Security Council have shown that at a right price for their co-operation West can extract the desired vote. This attitude does not only involve Iran nuclear program, in 1995, Russian government signed the secret agreement with U.S. allowing Russia to continue weapon supplies to Iran. However, Russian pledged to refrain from providing Iran with modern/sophisticated conventional weapon systems. It is noteworthy that during 1996-1999 Russia sold about $200m military hardware to Iran and just recently Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko stated that they will not supply S-300 anti- aircraft missile systems to Iran. These are while Russian delayed the completion of Bushehr nuclear reactor for 10 years they also shelved the construction of a light-water research reactor and a nuclear-power desalination plant. Interestingly according to ITAR-TASS, on April 9, 2003 the Minister of Atomic Energy Rumyantsev viewed Iran's fuel cycle capability as a danger to the Russia-Iran commercial partnership by enabling Iran to become independent of Russian nuclear fuel supplies!
This is true that in 21st century these countries and alliances are important not just for our general security but also in broadening business partnerships and commerce, and it is in our best interest to foster strategic ties with them. However, we should not maintain these alliance and relationships in a way that Iran would be used as bargaining chip in the game between West and East, which with present policies it will be of the greatest challenge for Iranian political élites to achieve. We should realize that we do not have brotherly or friendly ally countries or even countries with common ideological framework, we have only strategic partnership. As our friendly governments and regional allies attitude towards our security and needs have shown, they act (naturally) depending on their self-interest and quality of their relations with the West rather than our common interests, a 'fluid loyalties'! Iranian political elite cannot spend half of their time preaching the demise of this and that country and then spend the other half telling us how their evil deeds have affected Iranian citizen. If they can be so realist that they can put political expedience in forefront of their regional policies, so much so that they can graciously forgive and forget our neighbors who are responsible for death of thousands of our compatriots, I am sure they can see to it that we began to negotiate with our other enemies too!
From Syria, Russia, India to China each have certain needs and priorities that in the events these are met their relation with Iran would drastically change. Indian ambassador to the U.S. and a former Atomic Energy Commission member, Ronen Sen, put this point very succinctly when he said geopolitics aside: "Oil and gas are finite resources. Nuclear energy is not. Cutting-edge research in nuclear sciences and non-conventional energy like fuel cell and bio-fuels is not taking place in Iran or Saudi Arabia".
However, invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have changed the regional politics and economical dynamic for Iran's benefit, allowing us to develop a new partnership with our neighbors and as far as Southern America, though these partnerships are fluid and defiantly not permanent, nevertheless improve our economy and security. Thus, we should bear in mind that as security stand point the countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria can be viewed only as the early warning system to spot potential problems but definitely not the safety buffer zone and as the line between the friends and foe is so much blur we need a new foreign policy that is not based on Manichean argument of black and white. We should stop defining ourselves by who our enemies are and should begin to define ourselves by our achievements. Above all we need new language to articulate Iran's political and military aim in the post- Iraq war where outside world could understand.
What we expect from ourselves
Two important factors for any government to consider are economy and psychological health of its citizen, which Iranian government seem to have forgotten. The lack of information, secrecy, opaque bureaucracy and propaganda had a disastrous effects on our economic security as well as politics of our country. Iranian elites should stop running only rhetoric campaign that are devoid of substance and just deriding the West, rather than telling Iranian nations what they are doing to improve their quality of life, as the U.S. fed off the malaise of the Iranian society, as well as the gloom of Iranian citizens. Iranian government cannot continue on the premises that past promises of equality, justice and financial security, in spite of current failures, will eventually lead to fulfillment and prosperity. At the same time they should understand that criticisms and opposing opinions to the government sanctioned view is not ipso facto sedition.
The matter of cronyism and financial corruption among Iranian elites are permanently considered/brought up but conveniently never been demonstrated except during a political infighting. However, the lesson that Iranian ruling class should get, is that nepotism and incompetency have an enormous costs in the shape of loss of faith in the system by Iranian citizen, which they cannot be ambivalent about. The Iranian government preoccupation with other international conflicts have distracted and at times put heavy burden on our resources. However, there are those (myself included) who believe that as a principal, any victims of the injustice and oppression deserved any help or humanitarian intervention they sought, but this should not be in the expense of Iranian citizen or financial gain of few.
The defense of Iran does not begin by cutting the hands of our enemies at far flung land, it began by pulling all our citizen to higher standard of living not by portioning the blame of failure. The lowest common denominator an equivalent to Republican Joe the Plumber Policy mantra by Iranian policymakers not only detrimental for Iranian politic, it is also demeaning to Iranians. We should work on our strengths not rhetoric, the combative speeches and poorly chosen words that seem so picayune and random-in the hands of our enemies have shown that they really do matter. It is not to say that we should kowtow to hegemonic and aggressive powers, it is to say that each time our scientists produced new drug, or our air force make new plane or our industries grows, we do in practice cut the hands of our enemies. However, the first component of a national defense strategy is a robust and dynamic economy. Alas, our industries required to underpin this are still fragile and our government and economy is heavily dependent on oil revenues. We would not be able to defend our country in these circumstances.
The global economical down turn and reduction in demand for oil have already helped reducing OPEC's basket price by over 60 percent since July, when it touched an all-time high of $147 a barrel. This sustained reduction in oil prices would be harmful to our economic and long term growth. This is a point which is not lost to our enemies, Shimon Peres Israeli President celebrating his 85th birthday in the city of Dimona, the location for Israeli nuclear weapons program and facilities point to this new tactic; "The way to bring Iran, Venezuela and even Russia in some respects down, is to lower the price of oil".We are at a critical point in our history when combination of geopolitics, serendipity and/or coincidence of circumstances have conspired yet again to test our resolve, loyalty and the love for our motherland. Today, we face the ugly reality, which U.S. and its cohort have been successful in snaring Iran in Security Council trap and it is not the rule of law, its application or Iranian right within IAEA charter that can help us. So we should stop bemoaning the western governments dirty tricks or the lack of rule of law. We were always aware of the price we must pay for our independence and now is as good a time as any. We are at one of our strongest position in our recent history, with the highest number of highly educated population, our industry are growing and our armed forces are the most cohesive army in the world. So why should we relinquish our inalienable rights even under physical and political threat of U.S. and her allies? Present situation demands that we Iranians examine and at the same time show our common resolve to resist western thuggery and determination to translate our achievement in all scientific, industrial and security field including peaceful nuclear research into the permanent fact on the ground. These challenges are not new or unique to our country but they are well within our ability to solve and overcome them, so long as we have self belief in our abilities and a will to invest in our people and national security.
We Iranians are neither a donkey nor a rabbit thus the West can keep their carrot and defiantly stick their stick. As one commentator put it "Only ignoble deeds by ignoble men shine in the U.S. led the west" so we should not try to compete with them in that matter.
... Payvand News - 12/12/08 ... --