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02/17/16

Presidential Debates And Iran: A Political Football To Be Kicked Around

By Kambiz Zarrabi

My main focus in all my articles has always been Iran/America relations and how American foreign policies toward the Islamic Republic of Iran are formulated and affect this relationship. Needless to say, putting the shoe on the other foot, the Islamic Republic’s formulation of its policies toward the United States is also affecting this relationship. However, Iran’s policy decisions and statements are for the most part reactionary and in response to what is blasted against the Islamic Republic from the American side. Just listening to the presidential candidates’ irresponsible remarks about Iran, as though it is a politically convenient football to be kicked around, is enough to demonstrate my point.

We are now well into the presidential primary campaigns here, and all candidates are trying their best to gain the upper hand against their rivals. Mustering the most votes or delegates by any, and I do mean ANY, means possible is the name of the game. Appealing to the voting public’s sentiments, be it distrust of the government, economic concerns, affordable health care, fear and xenophobia, and concerns over what is called radical Islamic terrorism, seems to be the most effective strategy.

What is interesting and most significant is the wording or the phrasing of some of these terms. It might sound somewhat similar, but there is a huge difference between what is called Islamic terrorism and the more appropriate term, terrorism in the name of Islam. But, for the average citizen who is more interested in the news about the Kardashian family and the new apps for their smartphones, understanding that difference is truly too much to expect.

The same is true for the way Iran is depicted and understood in the public domain here. Ever since George W. Bush branded Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil in 2002, the barrage of allegations against the Islamic Republic has been perpetuated and intensified to where regarding Iran as a real enemy of United States and as the chief sponsor of international terrorism has been established as an undisputed fact among the general public.

After watching both the Republican and Democratic debates on TV, I intend to exclude two main categories from my principle concerns in the upcoming presidential elections that will determine who will replace President Obama next year: one is the entire roster of the Republican Party, and the other, anything other than the foreign policy issues; the main area of my personal interest. I am disregarding the entire Republican roster because I don’t think any Republican has a chance to beat Ms. Clinton in the general elections, at least this time around.


Hilliary Clinton on the cover of Iranian magazine Seda

While the domestic issues are the main topics of debate, and bona fide disagreements do exist among the candidates within and between each political party, when it comes to America’s foreign policy these differences are conveniently glossed over. The little disagreement we notice even among the so-called progressive Democrats is not whether or not the “enemy” is truly an enemy that should be eliminated, but only how to do it; by dropping an atom bomb, carpet bombing, forcing a regime change, more draconian sanctions, or through diplomatic maneuverings.

I do understand that to win the party nominations a candidate must do his or her best to touch on as many issues of general concern to the voting public as possible. An experienced politician, such as Hillary Clinton, can do that easily and with a straight face. Her Democratic challenger, Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, a much more honest and sincere person who prides himself in his left-liberal credentials, breaks into a sweat and is clearly uncomfortable when he knows he has to say what the voters like to hear rather than how he truly feels.

This was quite evident in the Thursday night, February 11, televised debate between the two Democratic candidates. When it came to their positions on foreign policy, Ms. Clinton very cozily danced around the circle with her patented facial expressions and touched on all necessary bases; distrust of Iran, its sponsorship of terrorism, its efforts to destabilize the region and, above all, its threats against Israel. She also highlighted her objections to reaching out toward Iran without tough preconditions, something that she was accusing Sanders for offering.

Sanders was not going to stand being accused of being “soft” toward America’s supposed enemy, and it was not his Jewishness or support for Israel alone that compelled him to vocalize while sweating and shaking with anger; he clarified his position by offering that he, too, would not reach out to the enemy without certain preconditions, and continued that Iran is, in his opinion as well, a state sponsor of international terrorism, but all that should not prevent a rapprochement, as it would be better to engage rather than disengage.

Neither had anything to lose by making such derogatory statements about Iran, a perceived enemy and a danger to the stability and safety of the region and the world in the minds of the voting American audiences.

Just imagine a more honest and fearless Bernie looking at Ms. Clinton and saying; Listen you hypocrite; first, Iran is not America’s enemy, it has been America that has repeatedly exhibited its animosity toward Iran in more than one way; second, Hezbollah and Hamas that Iran has been supporting are not international terrorists who are destabilizing the region, it is Israel, and it is Israel that has forced us into branding these groups as terrorist organizations; and finally, without Iran’s direct participation, input and cooperation, no settlement of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts is possible. So, we better get off our high horse and accept the realities on the ground before we turn the regional conflicts into a WWIII.

Had Mr. Sanders had the courage to risk his political credibility and future and utter those words, he would have been booed and chased out of the stage by the irate crowd and the thunderstruck TV panel! So, why would he, or Ms. Clinton for that matter, want to do that? Has anybody ever heard of a truly honest politician that has managed to survive that career?

I feel almost certain that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next President of the United States. And I am sure this is how Ms. Clinton views herself, as well. My hope, indeed expectation, is that, after gaining the office, she continues Barak Obama’s foreign policy agendas while, like Mr. Obama, she wraps her constructive and futuristic decisions in cloaks and colors that would be acceptable to the public at large, and in such a way that would not mobilize the entire Congress against the White House as has been the case during Obama’s second term.

Ms. Clinton is not likely to enjoy a second term in office. It would, therefore, be much more difficult for her to swim against the current without risking her position and future in politics; she won’t have the luxury of a second and final term as did Mr. Obama.

My hope is that the new President would carefully reconsider and redress certain vital issues that have long plagued America’s foreign relations and policies. Among them are:

  1. Israel and its influence peddlers who have infiltrated practically every vital organ of the American government, the mainstream media, America’s financial system, etc. America’s entanglements in the Middle East have, first and foremost, been formulated and driven by Israeli interests and agendas, much to the detriment of American national interests and objectives.

  2. Choosing “friends and allies” who are in one way or another willing to be friendly to Israel and compliant to Israel’s interests (the Saudis, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey) has worked for Israel, but has not only caused enormous regional destabilization, it has cost the United States trillions of dollars and too many lives, not to mention global damage to America’s image.
  3. Being involved militarily or even overtly politically in the affairs of an area half-way around the world is as logical as it would be for, say, Russia to interfere in the affairs of Canada, Mexico or Panama. Without concern for Israel, no shift in the political dynamics of the Middle East could have any detrimental or dangerous consequences for the United States or even the European Union.
  4. Iran is the rising power and economic giant of the future Middle East. If the southwestern shores of the Persian Gulf form a Sunni dominated region reaching all the way to north Africa, the northeastern parts can be dominated by a majority Shi’a zone stretching from Iran, through Iraq and Syria and on to Lebanon.
  5. Israel is not, and has never been, truly threatened by the Islamic Republic of Iran. To the contrary, it has been Israel that has tried numerous times to infiltrate and destabilize the Iranian regime, sadly with the approval and assistance of the United States. Iran has nothing to gain, and has everything to lose, by initiating a military attack against the Zionist regime. Iran’s support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, a very costly and rather unpopular, to the Iranian people, undertaking by an economically strained country, has been a necessary defensive measure to discourage Israel’s aggressive regional ambitions that do threaten Iran’s security and territorial integrity.
  6. Israel’s reasons for creating regional agitation and instability is quite understandable: Its regional agendas of territorial expansion, maintaining an unchallenged military supremacy, eliminating the hope for a viable, independent Palestinian state, all depend on the full support, military, financial and diplomatic, by the United States. To legitimize America’s full military support, the presence of American war machine, naval, aerial and land based, in the region, threats of terrorism and instability that might include disruption of the flow of oil from the region, have always played a major role. Israel has been very good at creating the necessary regional mayhem to rationalize America’s involvement in the Middle East.
  7. Complicit in all this has been America’s military/industrial complex, the giant wheel of American economy that prospers by the expansion and marketing of war machinery with no concern for the instability it creates for the hundreds of billions of dollars it gains by selling military hardware to the frightened or otherwise coaxed oil-rich Arab states of the Persian Gulf, supposedly to defend against the “Persian” evil! Israel is always “gifted” well by receiving enough money and military equipment to maintain its superior status no matter what its Arab bedfellows of convenience buy.
  8. There is no hope of a change or even a moderation in Israel’s influence in the United States Congress and, thanks to the Zionist controlled mainstream media, in American public’s blind sympathy for the Zionist state. Perhaps the Israeli regime should be offered long-term guarantees for an unfailing American support, no matter how that support would violate international laws or human rights, etc., under one condition: Israel will get what it wants, as has been the case all along; but from here on, without having to resort to its time-tested divisive tactics of false-flag operations, crying wolf, outright lying and distorting truths, and even threatening to engage in military activities that might compel the United States to enter the battle zone.

I must point out that, at least in my opinion, practically all the troubling issues mentioned above have one element in common: Israel! For how long will the American nation have to pay the price for this one-sided passionate attachment? Is this a malignancy that must somehow be tolerated and controlled, or is it going to ultimately kill the patient?

Do I think that Hillary Rodham Clinton is capable of managing her Presidential duties to serve the best interests of the American nation? I believe she is capable of that task, but it depends on her personal will and stamina and her diplomatic skills to survive the test.

About the author:

Kambiz 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.



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