The Bush administration this month announced a $75 million initiative to advance democracy in Iran by expanding broadcasting into the country, funding on governmental organizations and promoting cultural exchanges.
I must say I don’t think that a program like this would have any positive effect. My suspicion is that, like Radio Free America, the Iranian government will ban listening to the station, maybe even go so far as to threaten a death sentence for being caught listening. This will prevent listening to the station publicly, which includes the coffee houses, which is where men in the Middle East congregate to talk and listen to politics. But it will have negative ramifications, providing a clear example of the US trying to push our values on the Iranian people. Just not a smart tactical move!
The greater challenge for a Middle Eastern leader trying to unite the region is proving that that he can represents a viable threat to the West. Middle Eastern countries have seen the repercussions of threatening the West and not having the might to back up those threats, and most are too pragmatic to enter a conflict that will assure destruction of their country, as well as probably including removal from power and maybe even a political assassination to boot. Thus, the leader aspiring to Middle Eastern or World domination has to convince his peers that he is not intimidated by the West, and can even look Western powers square in the eye.
To prove this, Middle Eastern leaders have been testing the West for the better part of the past 15 years. The invasion of Kuwait was exactly this kind of a test, as Iraq really was threatening the West’s oil supply with the invasion more than they were threatening their neighbors. 9/11, the Subway bombings, and other al Qaeda terrorist attacks,, have been further testings of the West, as has been Palestinian terrorist attacks, the protests over the Mohammed cartoons, the murder of the Jordanian president, the pushing of Iran’s nuclear program, and a ton of other events that have occurred in the region.
But unlike the 1990s, recent attacks have gone unmatched by the swift, brutal retaliation that serves as a deterrent to future acts against the West. The inability to capture bin Laden was the first crack in the façade that had come to represent the West’s to the Muslim world, and as the war in Iraq changed from a quick strike into the heart of Iraqi society to a long, protracted war to bend the collective consciousness and moral structure that is Iraq, the US and the West have been seen as progressively weaker.
And then the protests over the Mohammed cartoons, where we went the opposite direction, compromising our freedoms and admonishing our free press in fear of the rapidly spreading protests. It leaves the Muslim leader with the perception that the West is no longer strong enough to protect itself against the Muslim world, except with the total destruction of nuclear weapons. And thus the steady push to develop Iran’s nuclear program and to develop closer ties with other nuclear powers, such as Russia and China.
And the final step is to prove that the Muslim leader is the correct leader to lead the Muslim world. Now much of this has to do with who holds the most military might, and that makes Ahmadinejad the obvious choice. Certainly I believe that that’s his goal. Also that leader would be someone who’s doing a fair bit of the testing of the West, again clearly Ahmadinejad qualifies, and of late he’s shown a willingness to work with other leaders who have made their own reputations against the West, namely Basher al-Assad, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and supposedly Bin Laden himself.
Today, out of the blue, Iran accepted a 3-month old invitation to discuss the conflict in Iraq, and how Iran can help install a free government in the war-torn country. And while the US views the acceptance with skepticism, this is out of worry that Iran is using this to divert attention from their nuclear program. In reality, neither the UN nor the US probably has the ability to prevent Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, and any penalties imposed by the UN Security Council will probably have every little effect on Iran’s nuclear program. Still, the US is willing to honor the invitation assuming the negotiations are isolated from issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program, not considering other potential motivations for the meeting.
Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said earlier that Tehran had agreed to hold talks with the US following an appeal from a prominent Iraqi Shia politician.
Tehran, he said, had turned down previous requests by Washington for talks over Iraq but had accepted the proposal to start a dialogue.
"To resolve Iraqi issues, and to help the establishment of an independent and free government in Iraq, we agree to [talks with the US]," he told reporters.
America wants Iran to help persuade Iraqi Shia political parties to make concessions that will allow the formation of a stable government of national unity. The new Iraqi parliament opened this week with such a government notably lacking. Without one there is no chance of lessening the Sunni alienation which feeds the insurgency, threatens civil war, and prevents the adoption of a timetable for the reduction of US forces and, eventually, a respectable withdrawal. Iran wants the US to cease pushing so hard on the question of its nuclear programmes, which America and Europe have recently managed to place on the agenda of the Security Council where they are being, or soon will be, discussed.
The Bush administration views Tehran's acceptance of an American offer to talk about Iraq, made months ago, as an indication that Iran is feeling the international heat, national security adviser Steven J. Hadley said.
"What is interesting is that the Iranians would choose now, at this moment, in such a very public way, to embrace this idea and try to expand it to a negotiation about a broader set of issues," Hadley said.
"The concern, therefore, is that it is simply a device by the Iranians to try and divert pressure that they're feeling in New York, to try and drive a wedge between the United States and the other countries with which we are working on the nuclear issue and, if you will, divert pressure and divert attention."
Hadley added: "Obviously, this is something that we and those who are working with us on these issues will not let happen."
Posted by Scottage at 12:45 AM / | |