Have you wondered why Iran keeps making its way back to the headlines in America? The fear mongering abounds, the outcry does not seem to cease and a nuclear apocalypse is said to be imminent. The threat remains the same—Iran almost, almost…already…kind of got the bomb. No, wait…it got all the necessary components, nuclear fuel from Russia, etc. to make the bomb that it can use to leverage its position in the Middle East.
In the meantime, politically dysfunctional Pakistan and rogue North Korea have tons of weapons and missiles, but these facts make only an occasional appearance in the mass media outlets. In addition, the aforementioned countries do not receive the same level of demonization as Iran does.
Thus, the question arises: Why Iran? Why Iran and not North Korea, Pakistan or even Somalia (save for the occasional pirate stories).
What makes Iran so special to be the prime target of every newspaper commentator and TV pundit? Furthermore, what do we know about Iran, its history, culture, heritage and current situation to throw our weight behind all proposed sanctions, embargoes and other devastating actions.
Why Iran remains the target of the USA foreign policy? This is the intellectual challenge I am willing to undertake to understand the idiosyncrasies of this situation. Moreover, I hope my readers will assist me in furthering this understanding.
The relations between USA and Iran began to deteriorate after the Iranian popular revolution of 1979, which ousted the monarch and established the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the aftermath, America adopted a harder line toward the Middle East in order to preserve the regional status quo.
Regular readers of the Foreign Affairs magazine, published by the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, might have read numerous policy articles on the Middle East region. The apparent fact is that this region is composed of diverging nation-states, some of which have aspirations for regional dominance. In order to preserve status quo, America is actively engaged in the region to prevent any one country from reaching the status of the regional hegemon and to continue to set its own policy.
The Iraq was taken out of the picture during the American led invasion in 2003. The next aspiring actor in the region is Iran. Its strength and vitality must be extinguished in order to fulfill the policy of preventing any one power to control region’s development, thereby ensuring the preservation of American primacy in the region.
It is quite apparent that United States’ policy toward Iran is twofold. First, all the war conflicts and military operations carried out by the Western governments appear to take place around Iran, which is in tune with the policy of encirclement and containment. Second, United States will use any means necessary to prevent the ascent of any one country into the hegemonic sit of power in the Middle East. The hegemon will ultimately dictate its policy to the region and might unite all Arab states under one common front, which will pose a threat to the U.S. interests in the region.
Even if Iran does go nuclear, should we become more fearful of it than of rogue North Korea and unpredictable Pakistan who currently have the capability to carry out a nuclear strike? In addition, Pakistan is politically unstable and vulnerable to terrorists and non-state actors who contemplate stealing a nuclear device. Furthermore, have you seen any real military response to the threats that North Korea has been issuing since it has acquired a nuclear weapon? So, why all this focus on Iran, who in addition to lacking nuclear weapons, does not have a delivery system for a successful launch?
Although, the Iranian government is known for their radical rhetoric and unwarranted threats, but they exercise reasonable caution when it comes to taking military actions outside their borders. Tehran is not as crazy as the leader of the North Korea and it is in their interest to preserve stability and uniformity in the Middle East. The fanatical speeches are mostly directed towards dissenting political bodies and other troublemakers who are considered a threat to the Iranian regime.
It is true that in the current international nuclear non-proliferation climate, the leading countries would like to see a nuclear de-escalation and a shift toward a safer world. However, countries who choose to live and act independently should not be muscled and intimidated by more powerful world actors.
As was pointed out by Mohammad Java Zarif in the Foreign Affairs magazine, Iran is one of the few countries that “remained independent from outside powers and practiced genuine nonalignment, lending it a particular freedom of action within the existing global order.” Perhaps Iran’s independence is another reason why it has to pay the price to the new global order that is attempting to emerge. Iran wants to take its own road to happiness, whatever they conceive it to be, which apparently deviates from the Western plans.
Well, I wonder what happened to the concept of Inclusive Diversity and why can’t the West leave Iran alone.
Instead of taking a hard-nosed approach, U.S. government should focus on economic growth and development.
To sum up, I would like to leave you with the quote from Hillary Rodham Clinton, which appeared on the pages of the Foreign Affairs magazine. Her article in the November/December 2010 issue is titled “Leading Through Civilian Power” and focuses on the American diplomacy and development abroad. Perhaps an economic miracle that was achieved in the South Korea and Japan can be replicated elsewhere.
“Economic growth is the surest route out of poverty, and expanding and strengthening middle classes around the world will be key to creating the just and sustainable international order that lies at the heart of the United States’ national security strategy.”
For anyone interested in the works used for this blog post, please contact the author. I strongly encourage comments and suggestions.