Kam Zarrabi is the
author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs,
particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
The answer to the first question is, No; America does not need more enemies than it's already got; and we are here referring to the Middle East, and I am including Afghanistan and Pakistan in its geography. No doubt having an enemy or enemies in that region has played a key role in formulating America's foreign policy in the Middle East for quite some time. This has not always been so in order to serve America's genuine self-interests, call it pragmatism, predatory capitalism or exploitive imperialism. America's economic or strategic interests in the oil-rich region of the Middle East never needed the existence of some enemy state or states, real or imagined, to justify policies necessary to procure those interests. Whenever the situation on the ground required it, we followed the time-tested policy of buying the village-master and robbing the village - for their own good, of course!!
In fact, playing the old colonial game to secure our interests would have been a lot easier having friends rather than enemies to deal with: we would play the role of the magnanimous benefactor and promoter of democracy and a good life, while our friendly, moderate, regional leaders used every means they deemed necessary to keep their masses unawares, compliant and under control.
Mind you, I am not condemning such international policies; I don't want to sound like some leftist hypocrite here. As long as Jesus Christ has not commenced his Second Coming, and Zarathushtra's Sushyants or Savior Messiahs haven't arisen from Hamun (The lake in Eastern Iran near Zabul, which has long been dry!), to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, all global powers shall continue their exploitive policies worldwide - and we cannot expect the United States to work against its own interests in this competitive, "un-Heavenly" world.
The question is, then, why create an enemy if friendly persuasion could have worked effectively? For the answer we have to look for the culprit responsible for creating the circumstances whereby the presence of evil or states perceived as enemies of the United States became a factor in formulation America's policies.
We could try, of course, to put the blame on the gradual awakening of the fast expanding populations in states where our friendly dictators had managed for decades, with our support, to keep them marginalized as inconsequential. But this argument fails when, logically speaking, it would have been much more effective and a lot less costly, in both lives and money, to make friends of the awakened giants than to oppose them as evil; we have all seen how that has evolved; haven't we?
So, why did we create enemies when it clearly didn't serve our purpose?
I am not the only political analyst who has continuously argued that America's passionate attachment to the state of Israel has led us into the tragedies of our military and diplomatic involvements in the Middle East. Unfortunately for America, this passionate attachment, however one-sided and parasitic, cannot be simply wished away; it is here to stay.
To see the power and influence of the Israeli lobby and the champions of Zionism in the United States, those who put Israel's interests - perceived interests, I should say - ahead of America's own, suffice it to observe what has been happening lately by the Republican and Tea Party political candidates for the presidency of the United States. The two front-runners, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, took the time to go to New York City and pledge their unwavering support for Israel on the occasion of the annual event at the UN, where the Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the Israeli PM, Netanyahu, were to address the General Assembly. Why? Or, do you really need to ask?
And, President Obama is under attack by the Republicans and many Democrats for not being pro-Israel enough! I am quite sure he will leave no doubt as to his commitments to the Jewish state in no uncertain terms as his own campaign takes shape. Again, why?
I don't need to expound on why it is as it is; repeating the same over and over again will not penetrate deaf ears or make a difference, anyway.
What is clear is that Israel's stranglehold on American policies in the Middle East is, like it or not, a fact of life; we just have to acknowledge it and, like an incurable disease, work around it.
The second question was: Can America afford more enemies? I don't know of anyone of sound mind who'd respond affirmatively. America today cannot call a single regional state as a true friend, and that includes Israel. The sheiks, emirs and kings, the so-called friendly and moderate ones, rule over populations that are increasingly hostile toward the United States and would overthrow their despotic leaders in a blink if they could. What is happening in Yemen, Bahrain and even in Jordan and Egypt is a clear evidence of that.
Whether we or the world approves of a Taliban or some other radical Islamic regime there, we are not welcome in Afghanistan and our involvement there to promote democracy and freedom and other noble-sounding causes - Lord have mercy - is costing us way too much to be worth the effort. We would also be much better off leaving Iraq to the Iraqis' own devices. If it is their oil we want to bring into our own fold, there are much better and less costly ways of ensuring that, than with our military presence and diplomatic pressures there. Should we be afraid of Iran's influence in Iraq in our absence from the scene? We shall deal with that subject before the end of this article.
Now, with the increasingly more visible rift between the United States and Pakistan, we might be entering a new phase in our involvements in the Middle East; great opportunities loom ahead.
Here are the facts on the ground:
1- America cannot break its ties with Israel, regardless of the harm this blind attachment to the Zionist regime is causing to America's national interest. It is similar to a tumor that has penetrated so deeply into America's organs that removing it might be fatal to the host - until better cures could be found, hopefully in the future not too far away!
2- Acknowledging this unpleasant fact necessitates two inseparable factors to be brought to play their roles in order to preserve this bond and continue the unequivocal support for the Zionist state, in money, arms, military and diplomatic shield, etc.
a- is to find or create a believable enemy that might supposedly be capable of doing some serious harm to the Jewish state.
b- is to portray this entity, real or imagined, as not just the enemy of Israel, but also the enemy of the United States, based on the fictitious, almost embarrassingly stupid, premise that Israel and the United States share the same values and interests.
Iran has been playing the role of this bogeyman quite effectively for far too long. It is high-time for a change, and I believe the American administration is fully aware of that.
There is a new candidate on the scene that is looming increasingly larger and more capable to replace Iran as a conveniently believable "existential" threat to the Jewish state, and as a potential danger to the United States. This candidate is already in possession of nuclear weapons, and its government is not even capable of exercising control over major segments of its huge population.
I have been predicting for some time that Pakistan will ultimately take Iran's place as the regional bad boy (refer here, the last paragraph, and here, the last four paragraphs), with a great deal of justification and believability.
It can no longer be denied, resisted or overlooked that Iran is the sole powerhouse of the region in every aspect of the word. In today's multi-polar world, Iran is going to play the role of the superpower in its neighborhood, a force to be reckoned with by United State and its allies, as well as by China, India or any other evolving spheres of global influence.
The United States and the rest of the industrial world depend on the energy resources of the Middle East to sustain their growth and developments. No amount of the so-called alternate sources of energy could replace hydrocarbon fuels as the most efficient and the cheapest source of energy in the foreseeable future. The region of the Middle East can provide this resource to the industrial world cheaply, efficiently and adequately for a long time to come.
The role that the European superpowers of the past, replaced by the American global hegemon of today, had been playing on the world scene is, and will continue to be, challenged by Iran in its own domain of influence, which engulfs the richest economically accessible oil and gas resources of the world.
Military might has its limits of effectiveness. Economic power has also been losing its global dominance, as the ineffectiveness of unilateral sanctions and embargos to affect political change has clearly shown.
In short, the days of bullying by means of military or economic pressure appear to be over. The effectiveness of these methods to bring about change is, at best, short-term and often not free of very undesirable consequences.
It is perhaps time to change the centuries-long axiom of Divide and Conquer, and start on the new path of Cooperate and Prosper If the United States is to retain its superpower status and be successful in managing its strategic interests in the Middle East region, dealing with a counterpart that commands authority over a united, rather than a fragmented, front would be the ideal path. Iran can play that role and seems to be clearly on the way of achieving the status of the region's superpower.
That doesn't necessarily imply that the days of Israel's military might or economic prosperity, thanks to the American taxpayers' "generosity" is coming to an end. Neither does it mean that the shackles of the Congress' servitude to the dictates of Israel's political lobby and its Zionist supporters will be broken in the wake of the new developments in the Middle East. It does, however, imply that the time is approaching fast for the United States to muzzle the troublemaking pit-bull and focus the Administration's attention toward pursuing America's true best interests in the Middle East.
I visited Iran for the first time after some 32 years this past April and May. To put it succinctly, the only surprise for me was that I wasn't surprised at all by what I saw, what I heard and what I experienced. This visit was not simply for a desire to reconnect with old relatives and acquaintances, I had much more than that in mind.
I have just completed writing my memoirs of the trip, including my reflections and commentary, some of which were quoted in the paragraphs above. The manuscript is currently under publication and to be made available soon. The title I have chosen is Iran, Back in Context, which contains the accounts of several interviews with a broad cross section of people, photographs, and details of travels to remote areas of the country.
There is a CD edition available now for a nominal fee of $10.00, postage paid, which contains a larger array of photographs in color. It is in PDF format for use by those who can open such files on their computers. Those interested can send their request to my mailing address at:
110 W. Yankie Street
Silver City, NM 88061
... Payvand News - 09/30/11 ... --