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Wednesday, 15 March 2006
What are the Iranians thinking about?
Topic: General News.

You know, when I was just a little nipper, Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days. At the time, I remember being outraged at pictures of them using an American flag to take out the trash. My dad was shocked at how pissed off I was, because even at 14, I was one of those picko liberals, who I guess, he assumed wouldn't mind people abusing the flag. At the time, I didn't understand why the Iranians hated us so much and just assumed they were all crazy.

What I found out later was that we had overthrown the democratically elected government of Muhammad Musaddiq and set up the Shah to make sure they didn't do anything crazy like nationalize the oil wells. From 1953 on, the Shah ruled with an iron fist and eventually his misrule led to the Islamic revolution. After digesting that little tidbit of information, it's a little easier for me to understand why the Iranians distrust us so much. Now as we discuss the crisis of Iran's nuclear ambitions, which is a direct result of our bone headed policies in that region for the past 60 years, it might be instructive to think about what is it that makes the Iranians think they need the bomb.

I found this appraisal of the thinking behind Iran's foreign policy in a book called Diplomacy in the Middle East, which was edited by Carl Brown. This excerpt is from an essay called "Iran's Foreign Policy under the Islamic Republic, 1979-2000," by Shaul Bakash.

"Iran's foreign policy is shaped by overriding security concerns. Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980, the eight eight-year war with the country, and the sense that Iran received virtually no support from the international community in the face of naked aggression has left deep scars on the national psyche. Moreover, Iran with good reason feels it lives in a dangerous neighborhood. Instability is endemic along its border with Afghanistan...(And) given its hostility to Iran, American's huge military presence in the Persian Gulf and uncertainty about its intentions is another source of concern."

Of course, they probably have a somewhat better idea of what American's intentions are in the region since the invasion of Iraq. This is probably why they're so intent on having a nuclear deterrent. I'm not saying its right that they should have a bomb, actually I don't think anyone should, but all you have to do is look at which axis of evil country got invaded and which one didn't. North Korea, with the bomb, is untouched, and Iraq, without the bomb, is a mess. It's easy to understand why Iran thinks its next on the list if they don't get a bomb pretty quick.

Iran's current policy of playing the Russians and the Chinese off the Europeans and the U.S. is nothing new, either. They've been doing it for centuries. Bakash writes, "Muhammad Musaddiq coined the term 'negative equilibrium' to describe the manner in which Iran would avoid falling under the influence of either Britain or Russia...The Islamic Republic's great-power diplomacy in the 1990's was therefore a return to a well-established tradition." Actually, friendly relations Iran enjoys with Russia and China started with the Shah in the 60' and 70's, who eventhough he was an ally of the U.S. during the cold war still wanted to keep his options open.

I'm not going to attempt to go into a whole lecture on Iran here, I just wanted to point out that there are reasons for the way Iran is behaving, other than the ones you hear in the media; that they're all crazy and they just hate us. Not all Iranians hate us, but they do hate our government. They see themselves as a great country with a long history of greatness and they're not likely to just let us or anyone else boss them around. According to Shaul Bakash, "The Shah had cultivated a sense of the greatness of Iran by virtue of its size, population, history and imperial past. The Islamic Republic cultivated a sense of the greatness of Iran on the same basis, but rather than the imperial past it stressed the centrality of the revolution itself and of Iran's Islamic credentials."

It's bad enough they've got an inferiority complex, but adding religion into the mix makes everything that much more dangerous. Bomb + God = kaboom.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:22 PM EST
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