Archive for the ‘neocon’ Category

Iran’s Pragmatic Opposition: Take Caution When Your Enemy is Your Friend

December 10, 2009

As international attention has turned from the disputed June 12 Iranian presidential election and that regime’s brutal crackdown to the negotiations surrounding Tehran’s nuclear program, hardline neoconservatives in the United States, Iranian opposition leaders and some within the Iranian Diaspora have begun employing the same tactics to achieve contradicting outcomes for Iran.
Neocons are among many groups in the United States who have sat by quietly—at best—through decades of human rights abuses in Iran. Now, however, after Tehran’s unprecedented move in coming to the negotiating table in October, the neocons have emerged as supposed advocates of Iranians in their domestic fight for human and civil rights.
The actions and claimed motivations of the neocons, however, remain suspicious; but they are not unique to this group. The leadership of the Iranian opposition has begun employing the same tactics as the neocons in their own effort to stall negotiations between Washington and Tehran, while some within the Iranian Diaspora wrongly see themselves as sharing with the neocons a similar goal for Iran—not realizing their desired outcomes are in stark contrast.
The history of relations between Iran and the U.S. has been mired by interference from Washington in Iranian affairs—intervention that was generally in contrast to the Iranian struggle for human rights and democracy.
Events such as the CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh regime, the sending of chemical weapons to the Saddam Hussein regime to use against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, and the Iran Contra Affair, in which the Reagan Administration sold weapons to the Khomenei regime when it was killing en masse the Iranian opposition, are just a few examples of events when hardline conservatives in the U.S. remained silent—at best—even when the most atrocious human rights abuses were being committed against the Iranians.
If history is any guide, behind the neocons’ newfound concern for human rights and democracy promotion in Iran lies an agenda not of behavior or even regime change, but system change in the Islamic Republic—a change that could potentially allow the West increased control over a strategically located and oil-rich country. Their supposed calls for Iranian human rights stem from no known basis or historical lineage. Instead, human rights are becoming an instrument with which one can push for military action or other confrontation under the guise of moral outrage. Preferring system change to regime change in Tehran, the neocons are calling on an issue close to the heart of the liberals—human rights—in a final attempt to persuade the Obama administration to increase pressure on Tehran.
Neocons in the U.S. are not the only ones guilty of this game, however; Iranian opposition leaders are employing the same tactics. Seeing the hardline Ahmadinejad regime now open to negotiations with Washington, the Iranian opposition’s leadership fears further talks will give legitimacy to and solidify control of a regime many Iranians see as illegitimate.
In an attempt to draw support for their leadership from other groups in Iran, and for their goal of regime—not system—change, Iranian opposition leaders have taken up a cause dear to the conservatives in Iran—Iran’s nuclear rights—in a similar attempt to stall negotiations between Tehran and Washington. As such, opposition factions in both the U.S. and Iran are working to thwart negotiations.
When Iran’s Chief Nuclear Negotiator Saeed Jalali initially agreed on October 1 to send up to 80 percent of Iran’s LEU to Russia for reprocessing and then to France to convert the 20 percent enriched uranium into fuel rods for medical use, the regime in Tehran did not come out and say Jalili had no authority to do so. Nor was Iran using this as a delaying tactic, as the U.S. had set a short deadline for Iran to respond by October 23.
Continued pressure from neoconservatives, however, compelled the Obama Administration to hold strong to the original draft deal without compromise, while opposition leaders in Iran pressured Tehran to hold strong to its nuclear rights. With these two groups pressuring their corresponding regimes, there was no room for either Washington or Tehran to show any sign of giving in, ultimately leading to the current situation in which Ahmadinejad announced Iran would enrich its own uranium up to the 20 percent level.
Despite having completely different desired outcomes for Iran, neocons and Iranian opposition leaders are using the same tactics to pursue their goals at the expense of Americans, Iranians and any potential peace between the two countries.
While it may seem logical that two groups currently out of power would use the same tactics to consolidate power for themselves, it is surprising to see two groups with starkly different desired outcomes for Iran push for the same goal and the same confrontational method for achieving that goal.
Many within the Iranian Diaspora community seem to have the same goal as the neocons—system change—but for starkly opposing reasons. While the neocons’ agenda ends in system change for the desired outcome of the removal of the perceived threat to Israel and the U.S. with the potential of control and exploitation, the Iranian Diaspora seeks system change in the hopes that a new system will usher in human rights, democracy and freedom. Some within the Iranian Diaspora, however, have become convinced that the means of achieving these desired outcomes are the same confrontational means the neocons are advocating to achieve their agenda.
In their search for these ideals, however, Iranians of all walks of life should remember the lessons of the 1979 Islamic Revolution—achieving a goal does not necessarily bring about the desired outcome. System change in and of itself does not necessarily bring about more freedom or democracy, as the 1979 revolution has shown. The Iranian Diaspora community should take care not to follow the neocons in their push for confrontation without knowing what will come in the place of the current regime. As for the Iranian opposition leaders, playing the same game as the neocons may slightly increase their support from the conservatives within Iran, but will greatly decrease their legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian opposition who desperately need honest leaders after having gone for decades without one.