Sunday, December 24, 2006

Iran Facing UN Sanctions

Iran Facing UN Sanctions

Ali Asghar Kazemi
December 23, 2006


Finally the Security Council approved the long-awaited resolution (1337) today, December 23, 2006, before it closes for Christmas and New Year holidays. The resolution, adopted under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, intends to impose sanctions against Iran’s doubtful nuclear activities, claimed to be for non-peaceful purposes. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was passed by unanimous votes of the Council, including its permanent members. Russia and China voted for it, though with a bit of political maneuver in order to show their sympathy and goodwill towards Iran.

It was crystal clear from the beginning that Iranian diplomacy and political maneuvers in order to throw ambiguity in the case and cleavage among the parties involved would not produce the intended results. As expected, in the final account Russians and Chinese did not hesitate to forego their short term economic interests vis-à-vis Iran for a more lucrative and durable relations with the West.

Once again it was proved that the Security Council’s main function is not to render justice to any member state but to maintain the status quo in the present world order. The declaration of the Islamic government representative at the UN after the voting in the Council seems quite redundant when he alluded to the double standard position of the Security Council with respect to the proliferation and Israel’s unlawful acquisition of nuclear weapons. The statement could be even interpreted as an implicit indication that the government of Iran is vainly defending its nuclear ambitions in similar direction.

While the Russians were able to some extent to introduce a rather moderate approach with sanctions in the operative parts of the resolution, they missed the main point that at this stage the importance lies not in the substance but rather the consensus reached for its adoption under Article 41 of the Charter. The West and the United States are gradually pushing the political leaders in Iran to the corner so that their continued defiance of the Security Council demand would pave the way for a final solution leaving no more room for legal arguments or diplomatic dialogue.

The next 60 days given to Iran to cooperate with the Security Council and the IAEA for suspension of its nuclear enrichment activities would be a period of nerve consuming experience. It is a bitter test for Iran’s foreign policy and strategy in the region which would also have undeniable impact upon its domestic policy and a host of other critical issues.

Let’s hope that politicians from all sides come to their sense and leave aside rhetoric, arrogance and shortsightedness in deciding future courses of actions for the benefits of their peoples. We will discuss more on this subject in the coming weeks/

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The battleground of a New Cold War(1)

The Battleground of a New Cold War(1)

Ali Asghar Kazemi
December 21, 2006

A new cold war is appearing on the horizon of international relations where the Middle East is the main arena of confrontation between rival parties. Contrary to the old East-West rivalries during the post Second World War period, the new emerging war is in fact not so much cold and has already claimed the lives of thousands innocent victims around the world. September 11th events at the beginning of the third millennium ushered the doors to the new cold war with a rather anomalous form and terrible consequences.

The main actors of the new cold war are amazingly unequal in terms of military capability and other components of national power. But, one side is caught by the firm obsession of representing the sublime truth which should be propagated throughout the world, while depicting the other as the devil to be destroyed and disappeared from the surface of the globe. Both are somehow conservative with tendency toward religion; but one seeks legitimacy from the outer world while the other relies on earthly rules emanating from the people.

Thus, one side seeing no limit to its sacred mission to convert the whole world to its dogma is ready to sacrifice its human and material resources for God’s will and the sake of its heavenly ideology. The other is ready to pay any price to contain the other’s ambitions, eradicate the threat and to protect its citizens and the sacred values of liberal institutions. Surely an encounter between the two rival parties is beyond imagination and could be awfully terrifying.

The new cold war is a bizarre conflict in which parties to the hostilities do not necessarily engage in a regular classical face to face confrontation and feel no obligation to abide by the rules of warfare. Humanitarian laws and norms have no meaning in this filthy war and no one seems to bother with human consideration and less for the natural environment. This dirty war is gradually getting out of control and the warriors have no intention to cease hostilities.

The center of this new war is now the Middle East region comprising Lebanon on the on hand and Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan on the other. Of course, the hostilities see no frontiers and can occur wherever the interests of the West extend in the world. Since, the problem for one side consists of challenging and changing the prevailing state of order in which Western civilization and the United States are the main architect.

Not long ago a typical contest by proxy took place in this region between Israel as the long arm of the U.S. and Hezbollah Shiite warriors supported by the Islamic regime in Iran. The conflict was bloody and alarming for the West since 33 days after its initiation, Israel’s legendary prowess was unable to crush the fundamentalist Shiites and finally the UN Security Council intervened to impose a cease fire. Indeed, the implications of the conflict continue to affect the political and strategic conditions in this region.

Elsewhere in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan the situation is not better at all and the American might is helplessly caught in an unprecedented quagmire from which it can not disengage without loosing its superpower status. To the fundamentalists Moslems, this is the ominous sign of American decadence in the world. Surprisingly in this contest, the two major factions of radical Moslems, i.e. the Shiites scattered around the Middle East and Sunnites symbolized by Al-Qaeda, are strategically bound together against their Western rivals.

(To be continued… )

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Internet Glitch!

The Internet Glitch!

After several weeks of nerve consuming effort to publish my regular comments in STRADIS, I have finally given up temporarily the endeavor. I like to thank friends and colleagues who kindly expressed sympathy and concern about the matter and promise that soon after reestablishment of internet lines I shall continue to write my periodic comments on current regional and international affairs./

A. A. K.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Iran and U.S. Democrats

Iran and U.S. Democrats

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 11, 2006

Those who believe that democrats’ control of the U.S. Congress in recent mid-term elections will change American political environment in favor of the Islamic government in Iran are either naïve or have no grasp of history. To the contrary, there is enough evidence to support the contention that from now on a necessary cohabitation and bi-partisan approach of democrats with the White House will make things much more difficult for conservative hard-liners in Tehran.

Are we to believe that democrats will push the U.S. president at this critical juncture to withdraw forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, or to open wide arms for friendly dialogue with those who humiliated Americans for 444 days during a democrat president? Are democrats really ready to close the eyes to a radical regime which is presumably on the path to acquire nuclear weapons and threaten to annihilate Israel, support fundamentalist Moslem movements around the world, and has a poor human rights record?

The fact is that on the above critical issues democrats are more rigid and unyielding than the republicans. If they had some kind of quarrels with their rivals on policy and strategy during the past years, that was merely a customary rule of the game in normal political process. Now that they have the majority in both lower and upper Houses and are in quest of conquering the White House in the next presidential elections, then logically they will be better off to cooperate with the incumbent republican president to put things straight before they take over the whole political power.

* * *

Generally speaking, “conservatism” is basically power oriented and in favor of existing institutions and more or less religious and value-laden. While liberalism continues to dominate American intellectual environment, the September 11th events, which plunged American society into insecurity, paved the way for a tacit coalition between liberals and conservatives to justify their hard-line strategy at home and in the world. In this respect, democrats have no substantive difference with republicans. It is sometimes argued the “new conservatives” are in some regard less conservative than they claim to be. Since, their views and behavior are in fact closer to a more sophisticated version of business liberalism than to a true old-time conservatism. Nonetheless, the overall American perception of homeland security and world order is now shaped in a way that no matter who is in power he will pursue more or less the same line of strategy. Therefore, in the present circumstances, we shall continue to witness drift in basic American liberal values to conservatism, backed by military forces.

Therefore, there is no reason to think that for example U.S. foreign policy or defense strategy will suddenly change the course or substance overnight. To be sure, the change at the top of Department of Defense seems to be merely a symbolic gesture which in all eventualities would not have a decisive impact on U.S. strategy in the Middle East or American policy vis-à-vis Iran. Pessimists are even fearful of the probability that if there is to be any change in this respect it would go on the opposite direction; i.e. it may harden U.S. posture against a nuclear Iran.

Democrats have shown in the past that they are very strict on matters such as human rights, Israel’s security, Palestinian problem and WMD proliferations. On the issue of terrorism they are as much preoccupied as the republicans. They may even venture more risky and malicious plots such as “regime change” if they perceive that this will promote their cause. The previous regime in Iran has been toppled during the democrats.

* * *

We should recognize that the problem of Iran-US entanglement goes well beyond the conventional bilateral relations. This is to say that in all assessment we shall take into account the issues pertaining to US most close ally in the region, Israel. In fact, the American foreign policy in the Middle East is intimately tied to Israel and everything that goes with it. To put it in a more sophisticated strategic context, Israel and its continued existence in the Middle East is an important dependent variable in US strategic schemes, disregard of who and which party is in power in Washington.

Despite the unpleasant situation that the Americans are now experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would not seem strange that during the cohabitation period a coalition of U.S. democrats and conservatives might give a free hand to the incumbent president to settle the Iranian issue by force. Therefore, it is safe to suggest that Iranians leaders should watch carefully their future course of actions and avoid any provocation that might push further the democrats towards the republican hard-line policies. They should also be cautious not to fall in a dangerous trap on the naïve belief that U.S. democrats will endorse the Islamic regime and will give it “carte blanche” on the nuclear issue. /

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Fate of a Dictator

The Fate of a Dictator

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 5, 2006

Dictator, despot, tyrant, oppressor…! What else you want to call Saddam Hussein, the “butcher of Baghdad” on whose orders thousand of innocent people were killed during his long reign of terror? What is the difference of how we call a dictator whose fate has been decided today by a domestic tribunal in Baghdad? He was convicted for his crimes against humanity, but surely he is also guilty of war crimes, genocide, aggression, violence for which he should be tried in due time.

Such is the destiny of a brutal dictator who still considers himself the president and leader of Iraq and who was pitifully turning his head around the court-room for approval of his nationalistic slogans while the chief justice was reading the verdict.

Death penalty by hanging, such is the final decision of the court only for the atrocities of the dictator in Al-Dujail incident. The basic charges for which Saddam’s horrendous acts has been prosecuted were in the category of “Crime against Humanity.” This means that according to the international criminal law heads of states and high officials are susceptible to prosecution for their misdeeds in their own countries.

We don’t want to dig into the legal or procedural aspects of the case in which Saddam Hussein and his collaborate were tried in a slow and nerve consuming court. Our aim is only to portray briefly the psychology of a despot who up to the last minute did not want to believe his fateful destiny and tried once again to deceive Iraqi people and his nation by chanting patriotic slogans; “long live the people!” “death to traitors and occupiers!” “God is great!”… In his left hand he kept the Holy Koran and pointing his right hand finger to the Judge, he accused him as being the puppet of foreigners. So what? The truth of the matter is that somebody gave a hand to the Iraqi people to bring the dictator to justice.

But, will the justice be really served by merely hanging the dictator before public eyes in Baghdad; if this ever happens in the present circumstances? There are numerous other crimes committed by Saddam not only against his own people but also against Iranians and Kuwaitis. Those who have felt and experienced Saddam’s atrocities during the eight-year war against Iran will have no pity for him. Although personally I am against capital punishment, if some day Saddam is executed, the everlasting wishes of Iranians will also be fulfilled.

What else could be done in order to deter those dictators who are still committing the same crimes around the world? Could these atrocities be prevented at least during the last decade of Saddam’s rule i.e. after American invasion to crash Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait in January 1991? Should the punishment be considered merely as revenge against a person or few people who ordered or committed the acts?

Is this an appropriate sentence that satisfies world public conscience for crime against humanity? What should be done in order to prevent similar events to occur in other places? Are international regimes, norms and rules sufficiently appropriate to tackle effectively with this curse?

We shall discuss the matter in our future comments. /

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Nuclear Syndrome

The Nuclear Syndrome

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November2, 2006


The North Korean nuclear test on October 9, 2006 can be considered an ominous sign. It is an alarming syndrome of WMD proliferation that, if not properly contained and managed, could turn into an endemic danger for world stability and security. To what extent are international organizations and prevailing legal and political constraints able to respond quickly and unequivocally to this deceitful and fear-provoking act? What are the likely ramifications of this undertaking for the world, and in particular for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf?....Continued..

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gunboat Diplomacy

Gunboat Diplomacy in the Persian Gulf

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 1, 2006

With the multi-nations naval exercise currently going on in the Persian Gulf, a new era of “Gunboat Diplomacy” is being experienced in shaping world politics. In the past centuries, during the colonial period, coercive diplomacy was a conventional way of pressuring governments to sign a treaty, to give a concession, to back down an action or to correct an undesired behavior. The result was often satisfactory for great powers since international relations were based on balance of forces and power and weaker states had no choice but to obey what was dictated to them by the dominant powers. To what extent the paradigm is still valid in current international affaire?

Coercive Diplomacy and Game Strategy

With the end of the cold war and collapse of the Soviet Empire, new revolutionary ideologies emerged amidst religious fundamentalism in total discord with the prevailing norms of modern Western societies and status quo. The challenge was not taken seriously up until the September 11th events that changed the whole fabrics of strategic thinking and perception not only in the United States but also throughout the world. In fact, the post 9/11 era is considered as the new age of confrontation which, due to its malicious disguised nature and spread can not be equated with the cold war period.

In conventional terms, diplomacy has nothing to do with war and hostility. But, in strategic games, when players do not conform to rationality for the purpose of optimizing their mutual gains, the solution to a crisis becomes very difficult. Rational behavior in game theory requires that the two sides to a virtual contest or conflict be conscious to each other’s objectives and their relative losses and gains. This is why we usually speak of “optimization” and not necessarily “maximization” of gains and objectives which mean that if you want to avoid confrontation you should be conscious of your adversary’s interests. The value related to each strategy is determined by rational choice in a network of trade-off.

When we are in a stalemate situation, one side my use coercive strategy vis-à-vis its rival in order to change its perception of the pay-off and pressure it to rethink its options in fulfilling its objective. This could lead to a gain-gain strategy that requires mutual understanding and cooperation. Otherwise, the situation may end up to confrontation and catastrophe. Now let’s see what is happening in Iran-US relations at this critical juncture.

US Contingency Plan against Iran

Upon Islamic government refusal of incentive package and UN Security Council resolution to halt its nuclear enrichment activities, a number of coercive measures were planned by the United States in order to pressure Iran in its strategic options. Among those we can refer to deliberate leakage of Pentagon contingency plans to strike Iran’s strategic targets including various nuclear sites scattered around the country. Presumably, the US is updating contingency plans for a non-nuclear strike to cripple Iran's nuclear program if international diplomacy fails. These plans consist of the following military operations:

• A five-day bombing campaign against 400 key targets in Iran, including 24 nuclear-related sites, 14 military airfields and radar installations, and Revolutionary Guard headquarters.

• Pinpoint strikes using B2 bombers flying directly from bases in Missouri, Guam in the Pacific and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
At least 75 targets in underground complexes would be attacked with waves of bunker-buster bombs;

• The alternative to an all-out campaign is a demonstration strike against one or two high-profile targets such as the Natanz uranium enrichment facility or the hexafluoride gas plant at Isfahan;

• Iranian radar networks and air defense bases would be struck by submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and then kept out of action by carrier aircraft flying from warships in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf;

• Contingency plans have also been drawn up to cope with the inevitable backlash against the Basra garrison in neighboring Iraq.

Strategists are understood to have presented two options for pinpoint strikes using B2 bombers flying directly from the above mentioned bases in and outside the US continent. British Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucester also has facilities for B2s but this has been ruled out because of the UK's opposition to military action against Tehran.

This whole frightening scheme seems not to intimidate Islamic regime’s decision makers to back down in their intransigence. Since, just upon the completion of US naval exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman (along with UK, France, Italy, Australia, Bahrain and Qatar), the Revolutionary Guard commander announced that a week-long naval exercise will be carried in the Persian Gulf beginning November 2, 2006. As in their previous exercise in this region, the Revolutionary Guard main strategy to counter American threat is to conduct an exercise of asymmetric war or guerilla war at sea in order to deter US planned offensive.

Thus, apparently neither the UN Security Council Resolution nor the dialogue conducted by 5+1 powers or the coercive gunboat diplomacy seems to soften Iran’s rigid stance with respect to the nuclear activities. While North Korea appears to have relented to the international pressure and has already decided to resume the six-party talks, Iran still seems firm in its position. Whether the Islamic government has received any assurance from Russia and China or it would finally give up in case of real threat to its core values and survival, the matter remains to be seen in the coming weeks./

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Saint and the Devil

The Saint and the Devil
Iran-US on the Verge of War

Ali Asghar Kazemi*
October 17, 2006


Amidst spectacular news about American naval build-up and deployment in the Persian Gulf with skillful and deliberate leakage of Pentagon contingency plans to strike Iran’s major strategic targets, the controversial hard-line president of the Islamic regime made further revelations about his heavenly ties with the outer world. Among other eye-opening contentions, he alluded to his close relations with the Almighty God who motivates him in his political conduct and assures him of His grace, while accusing his adversary (the U.S. President) as being inspired and manipulated by the devil. This reminds the old story of the eternal confrontation between “the Saint and the Devil.”

Politics and the Clash of Faiths

Religion is serving as a medium to politically and spiritually alienated people, to look for a savior, a “saint.” Whereas both American and Iranian new conservative leaders are believed to be faithful to their religious precepts and claim to be guided by reason and moral constraints, they both seem to be prisoners of their dogmas and seized by pure instinct in two distinct political environments: one is an open democratic society whose leaders are supposed to be accountable to their people; and the other is a semi-closed society under a fundamentalist religious rule which is accountable only to God. The truth of the matter is that they both have a tendency to overlook the realities of our time and material world imbued by evil forces of greed, intolerance and conflict.

There is no doubt that all religions have their saints, their martyrs, their mystics and dogmas. The saint is the religious man par excellence.[1] He symbolizes faith, tradition, behavior and values of a religion in its social context. The eternal order is revealed in the mystic experience and vision of the saint. Whereas the natural order of the world is revealed to the intellect and to science.[2] When our perception of the world order is scientific, the frame of reference is nature, and mystic experience is subjective and metaphysics is considered as an illusion. This is the truth presented by atheism, skepticism, and naturalism. [3] But when the frame of reference is the eternal order, then the world and natural order is mere illusion.

Kant believed that there can not be a compromise between these two realms, though man is an inhabitant of both worlds.[4] The argument is not always supported and many believe that there is a mystical side of human nature just as there is a rational side.[5] To what extent these two realms can coexist, and what are the wider implications for our world order?

The New World Disorder

Viewing the disappointing horizon of our international system and the present world order, threatened by the permanent danger of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, intolerance and fanaticism, a query is appropriate at this point. Is this whole disarray a real manifestation of a clash of civilizations, faiths, or merely a conflict of national interests? Are we to believe that the international system is doomed to incomprehension and constant insecurity and dialogue between cultures and societies is closed for ever? What about the revolutionary religious regimes challenging the status quo and the prevailing norms of world order?

Some scholars admit that if the domestic structures, political institutions, social and cultural constraints were viewed out of historical and environmental context in isolation, the answer to the query would be total frustration.[6] But, it is rightly argued that states do not live in a vacuum, and no matter how tall the walls behind which a political unit or a nation can hide, ultimately it is forced to respond to the requirement of the political environment including the established civilized norms of the international system.[7]

It is suggested that science, technology and improved communication in a globalized world may gradually lead to the emergence of a common culture.[8] This is indeed a cheerful picture of an unknown future, but unfortunately, evidences of the past and present do not lead to optimism. In the meantime, the contemporary international order would inevitably be under the pressure or traction of two opposite forces.

The Prophet versus the Statesman

Henry Kissinger has viewed the controversy in contemporary world as the cleavage “between two styles of policy and two philosophical perspectives.”[9] The two styles are defined as the “political” against the “revolutionary” approach to order. When the distinction is viewed from the types of leadership or personalities, it may represent difference between the “statesman” and the “prophet”,[10] with divergent characteristics that bring them into a face to face confrontation.

The statesman manipulates reality, whereas the saint or the prophet creates his own reality.[11] The statesman is conscious of human failure, and will try to avoid certain experiments, not because he would object to the results if they succeeded, but because he would feel himself responsible for the consequences if they failed. The prophet, on the other hand, offers his vision as the test and his good faith as a guarantee.[12]

The statesman’s first and primordial goal is survival; for him gradualism is the essence of stability; he represents an era of average performance, of gradual change and slow construction. Whereas, for the prophet gradualism or liberal approach to problems is like a sin as an unnecessary concession to circumstance. He will risk everything, even his national survival and the very life and existence of his people, because his vision is the sole and primary significant reality to him.[13] Thus, he is much more intolerant to dissention, opposition and political challenge than is the statesman. To him, claiming legitimacy from God and Holy Scriptures, disobedience and opposition mean revolt against the will of Almighty God.

Endeavor toward material progress and economic efficiency for improvement of earthly needs of man is subordinated to spiritual and moral achievement for after life and outer-world rewards and recompenses. Whether these heavenly objectives are attainable or not, whether the prophetic appearance of a leader is true or mere pretension for acquisition of supreme political power in a religiously loyal society, the implications for world order look frustrating.

According to Kissinger, the prophet type of leader in the present international system “represents an era of exaltation, of great upheavals, of vast accomplishments, but also of enormous disasters.”[14]

When the prophet and the statesman come to a face to face confrontation, the statesman will seek to reduce the prophet’s vision and intuition to the existing realities of the world structure, balance of power, accepted norms of international law, customs, practice and behavior. While for the prophet such an approach is almost sacrilegious, because it means the triumph of expediency over what he believes to be the truth and universal principles. To the prophet, negotiation and dialogue, as necessary mechanism of stability for the maintenance of the world order and settlement of international disputes, mean nothing but manipulation by the opponent, since truth, by definition, cannot be compromised.[15]

The Perpetual Conflict

History of mankind bears good witness to this perennial conflict between the two approaches. The political approach dominated European foreign policy between the end of religious wars and the French Revolution and again between the Congress of Vienna (1815) and the outbreak of World War I.[16] The prophetic mode was in the ascendant during the great upheavals of the religious struggles and the period of the French Revolution, and in the contemporary uprisings in major parts of the world.[17]

The Islamic revolution in Iran and its subsequent development, both internal and external, provides a unique case in which the above argument finds a thorough relevance. In fact, in no other historical occasion we can find so many similarities between the model explained above and the factual events; i.e. perpetual confrontations between “the political” or statesman and the “revolutionary” prophet.

The war between Iraq and Iran, which after a series of bloody push-and-pulls transformed into a contest between the leaders of the two Moslem neighboring states, is an example of confrontation between the traditional statesman, the “Devil”, and the prophet or the “Saint”. The statesman- Iraq’s deposed president Saddam Hussein-an opportunist, despotic and ambitious ruler of the Arab world, who invaded on 22 September 1980, the newly-born Islamic regime of Iran with the hope of crushing the revolution and preventing its expansion toward neighboring Iraq. At the same time he pursued other aims, including the leadership of the divided Arab World,[18] with a calculated risk.[19] The statesman failed to achieve his objectives and soon sought for a peaceful settlement of conflict which never came about.

The prophet, on the other hand, took the opportunity of war as a blessing of God which destined not only to strengthen the Islamic revolution but also the vision of Islamic “Ummat”.[20] In effect, the war proved to be a blessing for national cohesion, reorganization of the torn-up armed forces, seriously damaged during the revolution, and last but not least the “ export” of the revolution. The expectation of a new confrontation in the region may well repeat the experience of recent history.

The New Challenge

With the passing away of the architect of the 1979 revolution, the main thrust of revolutionary fervor gradually faded out and the consecutive ascendance into power of pragmatists and reformists’ figures induced new identity to the Islamic regime more attuned to the prevailing norms of international order. However, with the coming into power of the new-conservative hard-liners in 2005, the whole endeavor collapsed and failed to achieve the expected results.

The political victory of the new junta, emerging from the core of the revolutionary guards Passdaran and Bassij (the devoted conscripts), ushered a new era in Iran’s political configuration. A new “saint” was born amid the nuclear crisis and negotiation stalemate. The newly elected president, claiming to be in close relations with the outer world and God, took bold and risky course of actions with respect to domestic as well as foreign policies[21].

The nuclear obsession and intransigence to surrender to the demand of the U.N. Security Council to halt the presumed suspicious nuclear activities further pressed the hardliners to opt for controversial positions which resulted to further radicalism and consequently further isolation and confrontation with the West.

Thus far, with the diplomatic stalemate to manage the nuclear crisis, neither the statesman nor the prophet has come to a mutually satisfactory settlement and both sides continue to accuse the other for uncompromising positions. The prophet seems assured of his vision, the victory of Islam, and sees nothing but the triumph of his perception of the attainable truth. He cares more for the fate of Islam than the destiny of a whole nation. The statesman on the other hand is confused about the Saint’s version of reality and has lost vision while trying to manipulate facts by resorting to gunboat diplomacy and coercive measures. His ego for political survival is still dominant, since, bitterly he claims, the credibility of the whole free world is at stake!

The statesman of our time, guided by the zeal of national interests and self-preservation, has gone beyond the moral requisites in his political behavior. By so doing, he has unconsciously invited the prophet with his illusion of faith and reality. But, whether the prophet can satisfy the demands of our new societies; and whether the statesman can resist the challenge of the saint, the answer is not yet clear, though the confrontation seems unavoidable.

The statesman, helpless and demoralizing is faced the prophet, ruthless and uncompromising. Indeed the truth shall prevail, but whose truth? History will answer to the question. But even history is said to be written by the victorious. Whether the statesman will later be called as chevalier liberator of the free world, or whether the prophet will be remembered as a deceiving “demagogue” or a savior of Islam, is a matter beyond historical accounts but a duty of a sane human judgment.

“Let us leave to others with more talent for illusions the privilege of speculating on the conclusion of the adventure, and let us try not to fail either of the obligations ordained for each of us: not to shy away from a belligerent history, not to betray the ideal…”[22] our duty is to subdue the irrational by shedding light onto the evil side of the world of willful insanity. /[23]



* Ali Asghar Kazemi is Professor of Law and International Relations at IAU, Science & Research Branch, Tehran, Iran. For detail see:

[1]. CF. W. T. Stace, Religion and Modern Mind (London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd. 1953) p. 239.
[2]. Ibid. p. 257.
[3]. CF. Idem.
[4]. Ibid. p.255.
[5]. Ibid. p. 256.
[6]. CF. Kissinger, Ibid. P. 45.
[7].Cf.: Idem.
[8]. Cf.: Jaguaribe, “World Order, Rationality and Socioeconomic Development,” Daedalus, vol. XCV (Spring 1966) pp. 607-626. Quoted in Kissinger, Ibid. p. 46.
[9]. “Domestic Structure and Foreign Policy” op. cit., p. 46.
[10]. Idem.
[11]. Ibid. pp. 46-47.
[12]. Here we are reminded of Hostage taking of the American Diplomats in Iran (1981) where both the statesman and the prophet failed to attain their intended goals. The statesman’s experiment failed in Tabas during the rescue operation and he (U.S. President Carter) admitted the fact seconds after the incident. The prophet’s vision in Iran failed through Algiers accord, but he never admitted the fiasco.
[13]. I have found this portion of Professor Henry Kissinger’s outstanding essay on “Domestic structure and Foreign Policy” op. cit. precisely fitting into my analysis. Therefore, I have used the argument and in some instances have developed some of its allusions in order to align them with my own synthesis.
[14]. Kissinger, Ibid. p. 47.
[15]. Ibid. p. 48.
[16]. Idem.
[17]. Idem.
[18]. The world of Arab was seriously divided after the Camp David accords in 1977.
[19]. See e.g. Adeed Dawisha, “Iraq: the West’s Opportunity”, in 41 Foreign Policy (Winter 1980-81), pp. 134-153.
[20]. Islamic Ummat (Ummah) represents the union of all Moslem nations of the world without consideration of color, language, territory, ethnic and similar characteristics gathered under the rule of Islam.
[21] See my various papers on the matter on nuclear crisis in:
[22]. Raymond Aron, Peace and War, A Theory of International Relations, op.cit.p.458.
[23] . Some portions of this paper have been taken from my book: Ali Asghar Kazemi, Religion and Politics, Monograph, 1995.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea: Blackmailing the World

Blackmailing the World
North Korea on the Loose!

Ali Asghar Kazemi
October 9, 2006

Finally the North Korean junta surrendered to the foolish obsession of becoming a nuclear power by detonating its first nuke amidst global denunciation. This was done despite all the appeals made at different levels by world leaders, organizations and institutions. Indeed, North Korea has deceived the entire international community by crossing the red-line and jumping beyond the threshold of world tolerance. Few countries have praised and justified the North Korean undertaking as legitimate act on the ground that it was threatened by foreign powers.

We don’t intend to delve into the legal aspect of this venture here but we want to make a few comments on the rationale of such a perception that by possessing a few nuclear bombs an authoritarian rule can continue to survive and subjugate its people.

The Nuclear Obsession

There is no doubt that the North Korean leaders have a good knowledge and feeling about what is going on in the world and in their neighboring states, especially South Korea and Japan. But apparently they prefer to close their eyes to the bitter facts about the somber and deplorable conditions of their people. God knows how much money and national resources have been devoted to the nuclear project; while the poor North Koreans are in dire need to acquire their daily subsistence.

I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with North Korean diplomats in several occasions at the United Nations. They were really behaving like a robot with limited intelligence and initiative. We were among the very few delegates they would approach and talk through an interpret. They were always erring in complete confusion around the UN hallways looking for the conference room they wanted to attend. They were always silent at the sessions and their main preoccupation was to watch closely South Korean smart diplomats and delegates. They are indeed the typical product of a closed society whose rulers are still blindly attached to the obsolete ideology of communism.

Assuming that now North Korea has the nuclear capability, including a dozen warheads and the necessary vehicles or long range missiles to carry them to the North American continent, then so what? Is this going to solve any problem of the poor North Korean People? Is this really the true manifestation of national sovereignty and political independence? Or would their arrogant leaders use this leverage to blackmail the others to give them assistance to continue their dictatorship?

The Limits to Nuclear Power

Realistically looking at the matter, acquiring a handful of nuclear weapons has no operational or deterrent values. On the contrary, such a venture would turn a nation’s friends into foes and increase its vulnerability vis-à-vis its potential adversaries. The truth that the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons NPT of July 1, 1968, is not necessarily for the sake of saving mankind from the danger of devastation and annihilation but merely to preserve the monopoly of a handful powers to nuclear technology, does not make any change in our argument.

To be sure, the old Soviet Union had the capacity to destroy the whole world thousand times, but we witnessed how the “Evil Empire” collapsed by the wind of change and democratic awareness like a rotten tree. World public opinion is well aware of the nature and intentions of the remaining totalitarian rules around the world. Those who wish to follow the suit of North Korean tyrants should wake up from their sweet dream that they can continue to deceive the world by hiding behind the subjugated peoples who have no mean to make their voice heard or rise against the dictators.

The main objective of nuclear weapons during the cold war has been their deterrent power as leverage in political and strategic dealings. India and Pakistan crossed the red-line without much reprimand and political consequences but, after September 11, the situation has changed drastically. The new configuration of the world does not leave any room to compromise on the risk of nuclear proliferation. Now there is a global consensus against a nuclear capability in the hands of undemocratic and irresponsible regimes.

How to Deal with the Curse?

The world, and the United States in particular, main strategic dilemma now is how to deal with countries such as North Korea and those who potentially want to follow its path. The idea “axis of evil” which came into political jargon, including Iran along with North Korea and Iraq, was to deter any intention of acquiring a nuclear capability. But, there seem to be some loopholes in this strategy. Indeed, the desire to eradicate terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, despotism, poverty and disease, and thereby makes the world a safer place to live, is commendable and wonderful ideals. But all these could run against the belief that they can be fulfilled by military means.

Military power alone does not enhance national security and national interests. It may even lead to insecurity and provoke fear. It has become more and more clear that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can be safely entrusted with the responsibility of bringing about peaceful change or interpreting and making international security. Thus, unilateral assumption of shaping world order by a single state is likely to jeopardize international peace and security.

The ways and means that statesmen and generals in Washington are using to promote American security against terror and intolerance do more on the whole to promote world disorder and insecurity. Therefore, national security and national interests need to be rigorously redefined and reexamined in current world affairs. This is especially true for regimes such as North Korea which feel insecure and vulnerable in the new world strategic environment.

The “Domino Effect”

Now that North Korea has detonated its first nuke, the global attempt would be to contain the action to go on the loose in a “domino effect.” Perhaps the very immediate repercussion will show up in the current debate of 5+1 powers about Iran’s nuclear case. Despite varying speculations on the matter, it is expected that the United States and EU will harden their position vis-à-vis Iran in the coming days and weeks. This would eventually be manifested in the Security Council where Iran’s nuclear dossier is being handled for application of sanctions under article 41 of the UN Charter.

Apparently, thus far preventive diplomacy did not bring its intended results because Iran’s intransigence. Let’s hope that the neo-conservative hawks will not embark on pre-emptive strike on the foolish ground of self-defense or any other justification of this kind; since such an action is susceptible to put the whole Middle East region on fire.

We shall discuss on this important topic in the coming days.

La Corée du Nord et le Chantage Nucléaire

La Corée du Nord et le Chantage Nucléaire

Ali Asghar Kazemi
9 octobre 2006


Enfin la Corée du nord s'est rendue à l'obsession idiote de devenir une puissance nucléaire en détonant sa première bombe nucléaire parmi la dénonciation globale. Ceci a été fait en dépit de tous appels faits à différents niveaux par des chefs d’états, des organismes et des établissements mondiaux. En effet, la Corée du Nord a déçu la communauté internationale entière en croisant la ligne rouge et en sautant au delà du seuil de la tolérance de la communauté internationale. Peu de pays ont félicité en justifiant l'action de la Corée du nord en tant qu'acte légitime pour la raison qu'elle a été menacée par des puissances étrangères.

Nous n'avons pas l'intention de fouiller dans l'aspect légal de cette affaire ici mais nous voulons faire quelques commentaires sur le raisonnement d'une telle perception qu'en possédant quelques bombes nucléaires un régime autoritaire peut continuer survivre et subjuguer son peuple.

L'Obsession Nucléaire

Il n'y a aucun doute que les chefs coréens du nord ont une bons connaissance et sentiment au sujet de ce qui se passe dans le monde et leurs états voisins, particulièrement Corée du Sud et Japon. Mais apparemment ils préfèrent fermer leurs yeux aux faits amers sur les conditions sombres et déplorables de leur peuple. Dieu sait combien d'argent et de ressources nationales ont été consacrées au projet nucléaire ; tandis que les pauvres Coréens du nord sont dans le grand besoin d'acquérir leur subsistance quotidienne.

J'ai eu l'occasion de rencontrer et discuter avec les diplomates coréens du nord dans plusieurs occasions aux Nations Unies. Ils se comportaient vraiment comme un robot avec l'intelligence et l'initiative très limitées. Nous étions parmi les peu de délégués qu'ils s'approcheraient et parleraient par le moyen d’un interprète. Ils erraient toujours dans la confusion complète autour des vestibules de l'ONU recherchant la salle de conférence qu'ils voulaient trouver. Ils étaient toujours silencieux aux sessions et leur préoccupation principale était d'observer étroitement les délégués habiles de la Corée du sud. En effet, ils sont le produit typique d’un régime qui encore suit aveuglement l’idéologie obsolète du communisme.

Supposant que maintenant la Corée du Nord a les capacité nucléaire, y compris une douzaine de bombes nucléaires et les véhicule ou missiles nécessaires de longue portée pour les amener au continent nord-américain, et puis quoi ? Est-ce cela va résoudre les problèmes des pauvres coréens du nord ? Est cela franchement la manifestation véritable de la souveraineté nationale et de l'indépendance politique ? Ou bien il va permettre aux chefs arrogants de la Corée du Nord de faire chantage aux autres pour leur donner l'aide afin de continuer leur dictature?

Les limites de Puissance nucléaire

Si on considère la question d’un point de vue réale, acquérant une poignée d'armes nucléaires n'a aucune valeur opérationnelle ou préventive. Au contraire, une telle tentative augmenterait la vulnérabilité d'une nation vis-à-vis de ses adversaires potentiels. La vérité que le Traité sur la non-prolifération des armes nucléaires NPT du 1er juillet 1968, est simplement pour préserver le monopole des grandes puissances à la technologie nucléaire et pas nécessairement pour protéger l'humanité du danger de la dévastation et de l'annihilation, ne réduit point de la force de notre argument.

Pour être sûre, le défunt Union Soviétique a eu la capacité de détruire le monde entier mille fois, mais nous étions témoin comment « l'empire rouge » s'est effondré par le vent du changement et de la conscience démocratique comme un arbre putréfié. L'opinion publique du monde se rend bien compte de la nature et des intentions de régimes totalitaires encore régnant autour du monde. Ceux qui souhaitent suivre le chemin des tyrans de la Corée du nord devraient se réveiller de leur rêve doux qu'elles peuvent continuer à tromper le monde en se cachant derrière les peuples subjugués qui n'ont aucun moyen de faire leur voix entendue ou de se lever contre les dictateurs.

L'objectif principal des armes nucléaires pendant la guerre froide a été leur puissance préventive en tant qu'un moyen de négociation dans les affaires politiques et stratégiques. L'Inde et le Pakistan ont croisé la ligne rouge sans beaucoup de réprimande et de conséquences politiques mais, après le 11 Septembre, la situation a changé rigoureusement. La nouvelle configuration du monde n’accepte aucun risque de compromettre sur la prolifération nucléaire. Il y a maintenant un consensus global contre la capacité nucléaire dans les mains des régimes antidémocratiques et irresponsables.

Comment Traiter la Crise?

Le dilemme stratégique du monde entier, et les Etats-Unis en particulière, est maintenant comment traiter les pays tels que la Corée du Nord et ceux qui veulent potentiellement suivre son chemin ? L'idée du « l’axe du mal » qui s’est introduit dans le jargon politique, comprenant l'Iran avec la Corée du Nord et l'Irak, était de décourager n'importe quelle intention d'acquérir des potentialités nucléaires. Mais, il semble y avoir quelques échappatoires dans cette stratégie. En effet, le désir de supprimer le terrorisme, les armes de la destruction de masse, le despotisme, la pauvreté et la maladie, et rendre le monde un endroit plus sûr pour vivre, est un idéal louables et merveilleux. Mais tout ceux-ci pourraient fonctionner contre la croyance qu'elles peuvent être accomplies par des moyens militaires.

Il faut dire que seule la puissance militaire n'augmente pas la sécurité nationale et les intérêts nationaux. Elle peut même mener à l'insécurité et provoquer la crainte. Il est apparu de plus en plus clairement qu'aucune nation, n'importe comment puissante, ne peut être confiée sans risque la responsabilité de soutenir le changement paisible ou d'interpréter et de faire la sécurité internationale. Ainsi, l'acceptation unilatérale de former l'ordre du monde par un seul état est susceptible de compromettre la paix et la sécurité internationales.

Les moyens que les hommes d'État et les généraux à Washington emploient pour protéger la sécurité américaine contre la terreur et l'intolérance font plus dans l'ensemble pour favoriser le désordre et l'insécurité du monde. Par conséquent, la sécurité internationale et les intérêts nationaux doivent être rigoureusement redéfinis et réexaminés dans des affaires courantes du monde.

L’ « Effet de Domino »

Maintenant que la Corée du Nord a détoné sa première bombe nucléaire, la tentative globale serait de contenir l'action pour se déchaîner dans un « effet de domino. » Peut-être la répercussion très immédiate apparaîtra au cours de la discussion courante de 5+1 puissances au sujet de la crise nucléaire de l'Iran. En dépit des spéculations variables sur la matière, on s'attend à ce que les Etats-Unis et l'UE durcissent leur position vis-à-vis de l'Iran en prochains jours et semaines. Ceci serait par la suite manifesté au Conseil de sécurité où le dossier nucléaire de l'Iran va être décidé pour l'application des sanctions sous l'article 41 de la charte des Nations Unies.

Apparemment, jusqu'ici la diplomatie préventive n'a pas apporté ses résultats prévus à cause de l'intransigeance de l'Iran. Espérons que les faucons néo—conservateurs américains ne s'embarqueront pas sur la décision tragique de préemption avec justification idiote de défense légitime; puisqu'elle mettrait la région entière de Moyen-Orient en feu.

Nous discuterons sur cette matière importante en prochains jours. /

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Un Séjour en Turquie

Un Séjour en Turquie

Ali Asghar Kazemi
26 Septembre 2006

Le Nouveau Visage de la Turquie

Pour la deuxième fois cette année 2006, j'ai eu l'occasion de participer dans une conférence internationale en Turquie. Le premier « congrès » était dans la ville magnifique d'Istanbul, connue sous le nom de porte de l'ouest ou du pont reliant l'Asie à l'Europe. Bien qu'il n'ait pas été la première fois j'ai visité la « ville des minarets, » l'environnement académique du premier congrès international Turc-Asiatique, organisé par le centre asiatique des études stratégiques (TASAM), 25 au 26 mai 2006, a démontré un aspect et une image différents de la nouvelle Turquie, pas nécessairement éclipsés par le passé glorieux turc, mais comme état moderne épanouissant et émergeant parmi les défis et les occasions du 21ème siècle.

Le deuxième congrès international, organisé par l'Université de Kocaeli, du 18 au 21 septembre 2006, sur la transition politique, économique, sociale dans les Républiques Turkic de l'ancienne Union Soviétique, a confirmé le fait qu'en effet la Turquie est sur le chemin de resurgir comme un grande puissance régionale avec une vaste vision globale. C'est-à-dire, alors que la Turquie avait regardé à l'ouest pour accomplir le vieux rêve d'un état séculaire moderne, en même temps elle poursuit sincèrement une stratégie perspicace à l'est, où elle cherche ses racines culturelles et historiques.

Les intérêts turcs à l'est semblent être avant tous pour conquérir des esprits et des coeurs de ceux qui ont été longtemps subjugués par un régime impérialiste brutal. Pendant presque 70 années le Caucase et les nations asiatiques centrales ont été totalement niés de leur héritage culturel et historique riche. En effet, l'investissement dans ces types des conférences et de rassemblements internationaux atteindra double objectifs : D'une part, il préparerait un forum pour l'échange de vues parmi des disciples et les universitaires de divers pays. D'autre part, le produit de ces conférences bénéficiera les stratèges et les politiciens turcs pour acquérir un meilleur connaissance du nouvel environnement geo-stratégique afin de diriger leur effort vers tirer profit des immenses occasions économiques créées dans cette vaste région après la désintégration de l'Union Soviétique.

Modernité Turque et mélancolie Persane

Il est bien de se rappeler que la Turquie et l'Iran ont eu une longue histoire de lutte pour le changement et le développement. Pendant le dix-neuvième siècle, Westernization était entrée plus loin dans l'empire Ottoman que dans d'autres états souverains indépendants asiatiques excepté le Japon. Dans le monde islamique, la Perse et l'Afghanistan ont traîné derrière la Turquie. Tandis que la Turquie, comme état hérité du vieil empire d’Ottoman, était la première nation en Asie à regarder à l'ouest pour établir contact avec la civilisation moderne européenne, la Perse était la première nation au monde musulman pour éprouver sa révolution constitutionnelle exactement il y a cent ans en 1906.

En fait, au début de la première décade du 20ème siècle, la Turquie et la Perse ont éprouvé les bouleversements sociopolitiques décisifs qui ont mené aux révolutions fraîches. La Perse était la première pour faire la révolution démocratique potentielle. Cet événement n'était pas tellement à cause de l'influence des réformateurs de l’ouest mais quant à la décadence extrême de la dynastie régnante de Kajar. Malheureusement, la révolution constitutionnelle persane de 1906 n'a pas accompli les buts et les objectifs prévus du peuple, mais a préparé le terrain pour l'ascendant à la puissance politique de la dynastie de Pahlavi.

La Perse est devenue importante pour l'ouest seulement quand le pétrole a été trouvée au début de 20ème siècle. Peut-être cette ressource Dieu-donnée était la cause principale des vicissitudes de l’histoire iranienne pendant le siècle passé qui a empêché cette vieille nation de l'embarquement sur le chemin de développement social et économique. Trop de dépendance en revenus du pétrole a non seulement entravé n'importe quel effort pour le développement économique mais a également empêché la nation d'établir les institutions démocratique nécessaires et appropriées pour le développement social et politique.

Cependant, la révolution des « jeunes Turcs » en 1907, plus tard a mené à l'apparition de réformistes radicale Kemalists, qui après la première guerre mondiale s’est débarrassée de la dynastie Ottomane, et a abrogé l'Islam comme religion d'état et a incité les Turcs à changer leur alphabet au latin. D'une perspective économique, les Turcs d'une manière avaient la chance de ne pas posséder les ressources naturelles telles que le gaz et le pétrole. Par conséquent, ils ont dû compter sur leurs ressources limitées, travail dur individuel, efforts collectifs et surtout établissement de bonnes relations avec l'ouest dans la route pour progrès.

La chose intéressante est que les chefs iraniens de la nouvelle Perse (Iran) ont voulu suivre le modèle turc pour le développement et la modernisation mais malheureusement ils ont manqué un point important dans leur comparaison avec la Turquie ; c'est l'existence du pétrole qui a fonctionné contre un véritable effort national pour le progrès. Le manque d'établissements démocratiques, la tendance autocratique et la corruption, les dispositifs communs de tout les « états rentiers » finalement a mené à un autre bouleversement social dont les résultats étaient la révolution 1979 qui a abouti à l'établissement d'un régime religieux en Iran.

La Turquie et l'Iran, comme deux nations musulmanes, ont tous les deux rendus compte qu'elles sont condamnées à aller pour le progrès dans ce monde compliqué d'interdépendance. Mais tandis que la Turquie regarde sincèrement à l'extérieur pour accomplir ce rêve en choisissant une approche séculaire à la modernité et au développement, l'Iran encore lutte entre le pragmatisme et le fondamentalisme. La future histoire jugera quelle approche est réalisable et défendable pour le développement.

Une note d'appréciation

Mes amis et collègues turcs, particulièrement professeur Dr. Bekir Gunay (Coordonnateur du congrès) ont été trop aimable en m'invitant au congrès et pour me permettre le discours d'ouverture le premier jour de la conférence au Conseil Hall de municipalité de la métropolitaine de Kocaeli. Je suis également particulièrement reconnaissant à M. Ibrahim Karaosmanoglu, maire honorable de municipalité métropolitaine de Kocaeli aussi bien que le professeur Dr. Mehmet Saray, Président du centre de recherches d'Attaturk pour me donner l'honneur de la cérémonie d'inauguration de découpage de ruban de l'exposition du Firmans et des documents Ottomans à l'hôtel Green Park de Kartepe, la soirée du 18 septembre 2006.

J'ai eu également le privilège de présenter mon discours principal sur les
« Nouvelles dimensions du terrorisme » pendant la session plénière consacrée à la matière : L'Asie centrale entre le désaccord et l'accord de la civilisation. Le dernier jour du congrès j'ai présidé la session consacrée à : Grandes puissances et l'Asie centrale. J’ai été aussi invité pour joindre la cérémonie de conclusion de panneau dans le Grand Hall où j'ai présenté un discours sur l'évaluation du congrès. J'étais également le plus étonnant quand, après le deuxième divertissement de nuit avec la musique classique turque, j'ai été invité pour présenter le certificat du congrès à la Madame chef de l'orchestre turc. Dans un discours court j'ai mentionné que c'est le dialogue de la civilisation par excellence puisque nous n'avons pas besoin de comprendre la langue turque afin d'apprécier et jouir les belles mélodies de la musique classique turque.

En conclusion, la conférence de Kocaeli était tout à fait opportune et bien organisé et les présentations et les discussions étaient substantives et très instructives. J'ai été vraiment impressionné par la qualité académique et le calibre des disciples, des professeurs et des chercheurs turcs ; bien que certains d'entre eux, attaché par un sens du nationalisme turc, doivent surmonter la barrière linguistique afin de communiquer mieux avec leurs pairs.

Je devrais également mentionner ici au sujet de l'enthousiasme et du dynamisme des jeunes étudiants turcs de la faculté de Science politique et des relations internationales de l'université de Kocaeli responsable de l'administration et des relations publiques du congrès pour qui je prends beaucoup d'appréciations et d'affections. Leur attitude, aide et bonté aimables demeureront dans la mémoire.

Je voudrait souhaiter tout succès pour mes amis et collègues turcs pour leur chaleur et hospitalité sincère qui étaient vraiment au delà de l'expectation. J'espère que j'aurai l'occasion de les rencontrer ici en Iran ou dans d'autres régions du monde un certain jour à l'avenir. /

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Journey to Turkey

A Journey to Turkey

Ali Asghar Kazemi
September 2006


Turkish New Outlook

For the second time this year 2006, I had the opportunity to attend an international conference in Turkey. The first “Congress” was in Istanbul magnificent city, known as the gate of the West or the bridge connecting Asia to Europe. Though it was not the first time I visited the “City of Minarets,” the academic environment of the 1st International Turkish-Asian Congress, organized by the Turkish –Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), May 25-26, 2006, demonstrated a different aspect and image of the new Turkey, not necessarily overshadowed by Turkish glorious past, but as a flourishing modern state emerging amid the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

The second International Congress, hosted by the Kocaeli University, September 18-21, 2006, on Social Political and Economic Transition in the Turkic Republics of the former Soviet Union, confirmed the fact that indeed Turkey is on the path of resurging as a great regional power with a broad global vision. That is to say, while Turkey has been looking to the West for fulfilling the old dream of a modern secular state, at the same time it is earnestly pursuing an insightful strategy to the East, where it seeks its cultural and historical roots.

Turkish interests to the East seem to be first for conquering minds and hearts of those who were long subjugated by a brutal imperialist regime. For almost 70 years the Caucasus and Central Asian nations were totally denied of their rich cultural and historical heritage. Indeed, investing in these types of conferences and international gatherings will serve dual purposes: On the one hand, it would prepare a forum for exchange of views among scholars and academics of various countries. On the other hand, the product of these conferences will benefit Turkish strategists and politicians to acquire a better understanding of the new geo-strategic environment in order to direct their endeavor to taking advantage of the immense economic opportunities created in this vast region after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Turkish Modernity and Persian Melancholy

It is well to remember that Turkey and Iran have both had a long history of struggle for change and development. During the nineteenth century, Westernization had gone further in the Ottoman Empire than in other Asian independent sovereign states except Japan. In the Islamic world, Persia and Afghanistan lagged behind Turkey. While Turkey, as a state inherited from the old Ottoman Empire, was the first nation in Asia to look outward to the West and establish contact with European modern civilization, Persia was the first nation in the Moslem world to experience its constitutional revolution exactly one hundred years ago in1906.

In fact, at the beginning of the first decade of the 20th century, Turkey and Persia experienced decisive socio-political upheavals which led to fresh revolutions. Persia was the first to make the would-be democratic revolution. This event was not so much because the influence of Westernizing reformers but as to the extreme decadence of the reigning Kajar dynasty. Unfortunately, the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906 did not fulfill the expected goals and objectives of the people, but paved the way for the ascendance to political power of Pahlavi dynasty.

Persia became important to the West only when oil was found early in the 20th century. Perhaps this God-given resource was the main cause of Iranian vicissitudes during the past century which impeded this old nation from embarking on the path of self-sustained economy. Too much reliance on oil revenues not only hampered any effort for economic development but also inhibited the nation from establishing appropriate democratic institutions as necessary prerequisite for social and political development.

However, the revolution of the “Young Turks” in 1907 subsequently led to the emergence of radically reforming Kemalists, who after the First World War got rid of the Ottoman dynasty, disestablished Islam as the state religion and made the Turks change their scripture with Latin alphabet. From an economic perspective, the Turks in a way were fortunate not to possess natural resources such as gas and oil. Therefore, they had to rely on their limited resources, individual hard work, collective efforts and above all establishing good relations with the West in the road to progress.

The interesting thing is that Iranian leaders of the new Persia (Iran) wanted to follow the Turkish pattern for development and modernization but unfortunately they missed one important point in their comparison with Turkey; that is the existence of oil which worked against a true national endeavor for progress. Lack of democratic institutions and tendency towards authoritarian rule and corruption, common features of all “rentier states” finally led to another social upheaval whose outcome was the 1979 revolution which gave way to the establishment of a clergy rule in Iran.

Turkey and Iran, as two Moslem nations, have both realized that they are condemned to go for progress in this complicated world of interdependency. But while Turkey is earnestly looking outward to fulfill this dream by opting a secular approach to modernity and development, Iran is still struggling between pragmatism and fundamentalism. Future history will judge which approach is workable and tenable for development.

A Note of Appreciation

My Turkish friends and colleagues, especially Professor Dr. Bekir Gunay
(Congress Coordinator) have been more than kinds in inviting me to the Congress and to deliver the opening speech the first day of the Conference in the Council Hall of Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. I am also especially grateful to Mr. Ibrahim Karaosmanoglu, Honorable Mayor of Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality as well as Professor Dr. Mehmet Saray, Chairman of Attaturk Research Center for giving me the honor of ribbon cutting inauguration ceremony of Exhibition of Ottoman Firmans and Documents at the Green Park Hotel and Resorts, Ottoman Hall on the evening of September 18, 2006.

I had also the privilege of presenting my main paper on the “New Dimensions of Terrorism” during the Plenary Session devoted to the topic: Central Asia between the Clash and Agreement of Civilization.

On the last day of the Congress I chaired the session devoted to: Great Powers and Central Asia. Finally, I was called upon to join the Concluding Panel Ceremony in the Grand Hall where I delivered a speech on the evaluation of the Congress. I was also most surprised when after the second night entertainment with Turkish Classical Music when I was called upon to present the Congress Certificate to the Lady leader of Turkish Orchestra. In a short speech I mentioned that this is the dialogue of civilization par excellence since we don’t need to understand Turkish language in order to enjoy and appreciate the lovely melodies of Turkish Classical Music.

In conclusion, the Kocaeli conference was quite timely and well organized and the presentations and discussions were substantive and very informative. I was really impressed by the academic quality and caliber of Turkish Scholars, professors and researchers; although some of them are still mired by a sense of Turkish nationalism and need to overcome language barrier in order to better communicate with their peers.

I should also mention here about the enthusiasm and dynamism of young Turkish students of the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations of the Kocaeli University in charge of administration and public relations of the Congress for whom I have a lot of appreciations and affections. Their gracious attitude, assistance and kindness will remain in memory.

I wish all the success for my Turkish colleagues and friends for their warmth and sincere hospitality which were truly beyond expectation. I hope I will have the opportunity to meet them here in Iran or in other parts of the world some day in the future. /

Friday, September 01, 2006

L’Iran et le Défit Nucléaire

L’Iran et le Défit Nucléaire

Ali Asghar Kazemi*
31 août 2006

Aujourd'hui est le dernier jour de la date-limite fixée sous le Chapitre VII de la Charte des Nations Unies par la résolution 1696 du Conseil de Sécurité, exigeant l'Iran d’arrêter toutes ses activités d'enrichissement nucléaires. Il était tout à fait clair du commencement que le régime islamique n'irait pas avec la demande et ceci a été encore incité par la réponse froide et compliquée de l'Iran au paquet encourageant des 5+1 nations le 22 août 2006 aussi bien que d'autres signaux provocateurs comme : l'inauguration des usines « de l'eau lourde » dans Arak, juste peu de jours avant la date-limite, et l'exercice militaire des forces armées iraniennes dans tout le territoire de terre et sur mer.

Maintenant la situation semble plus confuse qu’ avant. Puisque, d'une part, tout en défiant carrément de l'ordre du Conseil de Sécurité, l'Iran a offert de continuer des négociations sérieuses et franches avec des parties concernées sans conditions préalables. D'autre part, il revendique constamment ses droits indéniables d'avoir accès à la technologie nucléaire sous les dispositions du NPT et rejette la résolution du Conseil de sécurité comme illégale et injuste. Jusqu'ici, l'Iran a pu, dans une certaine mesure, jeter un sens de perplexité parmi les adversaires principaux de ses ambitions nucléaires.

Vu l'environnement international courant, l'enchevêtrement et la préoccupation sérieuse américaine dans le Moyen Orient particulièrement en Irak, la situation semble en faveur de la stratégie du défit et de la dénégation de l'Iran. Car, si la Russie et la Chine continuent de refuser l'imposition des sanctions immédiates en vertu de l'article 41 de la Charte, et avec la crainte européenne des implications économique sérieuses, il ne reste plus rien que les États-Unis peuvent faire contre le régime islamique pour l'instant.

Tandis que les Américains ont menacé de former une coalition séparée en dehors des Nations Unies s'ils ne réussissent pas d’obtenir une résolution de sanction au Conseil de Sécurité, il y a peu de chances qu'un embargo répandu contre l'Iran aurait un impact de découragement sur les intransigeants à Téhéran. En outre, l'expérience récente américaine et israélienne avec la longue queue de l'Iran au Liban et ailleurs dans la région, et l'admission explicite des agences d'intelligence en ce qui concerne le manque d'informations adéquates sur les moyens de défense réelles et potentielles de l'Iran, la contemplation d'une option militaire contre les projets nucléaires de l'Iran ou les cibles stratégiques semblent trop à distance.

Maintenant avec cette image sombre sur l'horizon politique de la région, quelles sont les perspectives de contrôler la crise nucléaire courante et les autres questions imminentes du Moyen-Orient qui semblent être tout entrelacées ?

Avec les déclarations récentes du président islamique dans sa dernière conférence de presse le 30 août 2006, il semble que les positions de l'Iran sur presque tous les aspects, non seulement la question nucléaire mais également sur d'autres problèmes critiques du Moyen-Orient, sont en discorde totale des normes régnantes et des règles reconnues du jeu dans des relations internationales. En fait, M. Ahmadinejad a habilement essayé de mettre le doigt sur le legs injuste de la deuxième guerre mondiale qui continue à dominer les affaires courantes du monde.

Il n’est pas un secret que les états qui ont émergé des vainqueurs des dévastations énormes de la deuxième guerre mondiale, particulièrement les États-Unis qui ont examiné la première fois ses bombes nucléaires au-dessus du Japon, dictés ce qui est maintenant considéré comme règles injustes du jeu dans des relations internationales. Pour presque la moitié de siècle pendant la guerre froide, une confrontation est-ouest a dominé l'environnement idéologique et stratégique du monde.

Avec l'effondrement du camp communiste dans la dernière décade du 20ème siècle, le fondamentalisme islamique a émergé comme challenger principal du statu quo. Les interventions militaires des États-unis après le 11 septembre 2001 et leur enchevêtrement imprévu dans une guerre d'attrition en Afghanistan et en Irak, ont donné à l'Iran l'occasion de profiter comme vainqueur de cette confusion entière et de prendre la tête du défi contre l'ouest.

Le régime islamique a également réussi pour acheter l'appui de deux puissances principales du monde, la Russie et la Chine, par des concessions économiques généreuses. Maintenant, particulièrement après la crise libanaise et le mis-management de l'Israël, mettant sa crédibilité et capacité dans le doute sérieux, le régime islamique a regagné sa confiance en soi et se sent dans une certaine mesure à l'abri des menaces extérieures. Ainsi, il se permet de parler d'une position forte non seulement sur la question nucléaire mais en ce qui concerne toutes autres affaires du monde islamique.

Quels sont les vrais objectifs du régime islamique en s'engageant dans cette stratégie plutôt conflictuelle et provocante ? À quelle distance l'accès de l'Iran à la technologie nucléaire est-elle une menace crédible à la paix et à l'ordre régionaux et internationaux ?

En raison de sa position geo-stratégique spéciale dans le Moyen-Orient, l'Iran a toujours été vif pour assumer un rôle central dans la région. Cependant, par opposition à l’ancien régime, le gouvernement islamique tandis que poursuit la même vision, relève des défis insupportables dans ses ambitions. L'entreprise nucléaire de l'Iran, si jamais orienté sur des objectifs non-pacifique, devrait être regardée de cette perspective.

De tous les faits et spéculations ici et là, il s'avère que l'option du régime islamique d'une stratégie de puissance hegemonistic dans la région vise à double buts : a) pour parer tous menace et défi certains à son existence et survie et, b) pour montrer l'efficacité et la viabilité du gouvernement islamique pour répondre aux besoins du 21ème siècle, comme modèle réussi d'être suivi dans la région.

Les Iraniens sont maintenant jetés en l'air comme une comète dans un cosmos étrange du fondamentalisme et de l'idéalisme dont les destinations finales ne sont pas connues. Vingt sept ans après la révolution en Iran, le régime islamique prêche toujours sur l'ardeur révolutionnaire et un retour aux valeurs sociales et politiques fondamentalistes. L'histoire soutient le bon témoin que toutes les guerres du passé ont été lancées par les idéalistes ardents qui ont voulu former le monde selon leur propre perception de la vérité. Prions pour le passage sûr et sauf de notre nation de cette période de tourbillonnement !
* Ali Asghar Kazemi est professeur de Droit et des Relations Internationales à IAU, Science et Recherches, Tehran-Iran.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Iran: Deadline, Defiance and Denial

Iran: Deadline, Defiance and Denial

Ali Asghar Kazemi*
August 31, 2006


Today is the last day of the deadline set under chapter VII of the U.N. Charter by the Security Council Resolution 1696, demanding Iran to halt all its nuclear enrichment activities. It was quite clear right from the beginning that the Islamic regime would not go along with the demand and this was further prompted by Iran’s cold and complicated response to the 5+1 incentive package on August 22, 2006 as well as other provocative signals such as: the inauguration of the “heavy water” plants in Arak, just few days before the deadline, and the joint armed forces week-long exercise throughout the land and sea territory.

Now the situation seems more confused than ever before. Since, on the one hand, while defying squarely from the Security Council order, Iran has offered to continue serious and frank negotiations with parties involved without preconditions. On the other hand, it persistently claims its undeniable rights to have access to nuclear technology under the provisions of the NPT and rejects the Security Council resolution as illegal and unjust. Thus far, Iran has been able to some extent to throw a sense of perplexity among the major contenders of its nuclear ambitions.

Considering the current international environment and American serious entanglement and preoccupation in the Middle East- especially in Iraq- the situation seems in favor of Iran’s strategy of defiance and denial. Since, with Russia and China refusing to agree with the imposition of immediate sanctions under Article 41 of the Charter, and the European fear of serious economic backlash, there is not more that United States can do against the Islamic regime for the time being.

While the Americans have threatened to form a separate coalition outside the United Nations if they don’t succeed to get a sanction resolution in the Security Council, there are slim chances that a widespread embargo against Iran would have a deterring impact on the hardliners in Tehran. Furthermore, the American and Israeli recent experience with Iran’s long tail in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region, and the explicit admission of the intelligence agencies with respect to the lack of adequate information about Iran’s actual and potential defense capabilities, the contemplation of a military option against Iran’s nuclear sites or strategic targets seem too remote.

Now with this somber picture on the political horizon of the region, what are the prospects of managing the current nuclear crisis along with other impending issues of the Middle East which appear to be very much interwoven?

With recent statements of the hard-line president of the Islamic government in his last press conference on 30 August 2006, it seems that Iran’s positions on almost all aspects, not only the nuclear issue but also on other critical problems of the Middle East, are in total discord of the prevailing norms and accepted rules of the game in international relations. In fact, Mr. Ahmadinejad cleverly ventured to put finger on the unfair legacy of World War II which continues to dominate current world affaires.

It not a secret that states which emerged victors from huge devastations of the Second World War, especially the United States which first tested its nuclear bombs over Japan, dictated what is now considered as the unjust rules of the game in international relations. For almost half a century during the cold war, an East-West confrontation dominated the world ideological and strategic environment.

With the collapse of the communist camp in the last decade of the 20th century, the Islamic fundamentalism emerged as the main contender of the status quo. The United States military interventions after September 11, 2001 and their unanticipated entanglement in a war of attrition in Afghanistan and Iraq, gave Iran the opportunity to become the victor of this whole muddle and take the lead of the challenge against the West.

The Islamic regime has also succeeded to buy the support of two main world powers, Russia and China, through generous economic concessions. Now, especially after the Lebanese crisis and Israel’s mishandling of the case, putting its credibility and capability into serious doubt, the Islamic regime has regained its self-confidence and to some extent feels secure from outside threats. Thus, it allows itself to talk from a strong position not only on the nuclear issue but with respect to all other matters of the Islamic world.

What are the real objectives of the Islamic regime in engaging in this rather confrontational and challenging strategy? How far Iran’s access to the nuclear technology is a credible threat to regional and international peace and order?

Because of its special geo-strategic position in the Middle East, Iran has always been keen to assume a pivotal role in the region. However, as opposed to the old regime, the Islamic government while pursuing the same vision is facing unbearable challenges in its ambitions. Iran’s nuclear undertaking, if ever directed toward unconventional aims and objectives, should be viewed from this perspective.

From all the facts and speculations made here and there, it appears that the Islamic regime’s option of a strategy of hegemonistic power in the region aims at a dual purposes: a) to counter any eventual threat and challenge to its very existence and survival and, b) to show the efficiency and viability of the Islamic governance to respond to the needs of 21st century, as a successful model to be followed in the region.

Iranians are now tossed like a comet in a strange cosmos of fundamentalism and idealism whose final destinations are not known. Twenty seven years after the revolution in Iran, the Islamic regime is still preaching on the revolutionary zeal and a return to fundamentalist social and political values. History bears good witness that all wars of the past have been initiated by fervent idealists who wanted to shape the world according to their own perception of truth. Let’s pray for the safe passage of our nation from this whirling period!
* Ali Asghar Kazemi is Professor of Law and International Relations at the IAU, Science & Research Branch, Tehran-Iran.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

La crise de Moyen-Orient...

La crise de Moyen-Orient : Ironie ou décadence!

Ali Asghar Kazemi
15 août 2006


Enfin le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies à adopte’ la résolution 1701 pour la cessation des hostilités dans la crise infortunée de Moyen-Orient. En effet, on se rappellera cette crise en tant qu'une calamité la plus idiotes et une page la plus noire de notre histoire courante.

Tandis que le sang des victimes innocentes est encore frais et lumineux sur les sols des parties faisant la guerre, les politiciens pervers d’un côté et le showbiz sans scrupules de médias de l'autre comptent stupidement les points de chaque côté pour déterminer le perdant et le gagnant de la guerre.

Demander à propos du vainqueur dans cette guerre malheureuse est comme la question au sujet du gagnant dans un terrible tremblement de terre, bien que des guerres ne devraient pas être considérées en tant que phénomènes normaux et inévitables des interactions humaines. Il n'y a aucun doute dans un esprit raisonnable que ce genre de guerre n'a aucun vainqueur mais seulement perdants qui sont seulement les peuples innocents et délaissés du Liban et de l'Israël qui ont souffert en raison de l'absurdité, de l'erreur de calcul et de la gestion mauvaise des politiciens.

Comme j'ai discuté dans mes commentaires précédents au début et pendant les hostilités, cette crise, négligeant des circonstances de son déclenchement et l'occurrence, pourrait être manipulée sans beaucoup de difficulté et d'ennui. Mais pour quelques raisons douteuses et obscures, il a commencé par la cruauté et a fini trop tard et avec le carnage étendu, la destruction et la violence inutile ; tandis qu'il pourrait être contenu et arrêté par le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU et d'autres grandes puissances dès son commencement.

Des membres permanents du Conseil devraient être blâmés et moralement jugés responsable de ce retard. Les politiciens israéliens et les commandants militaires aussi devraient être tenues responsables de leurs réactions disproportionnées et inflictions inutiles des dommages aux populations et aux infrastructures civiles libanaises. Ce n'est pas de dire que les attaques aveugles de Hezbollah sur les villes indéfendues et les populations de l'Israël sont légitimes par aucune des mesures légales ou humanitaires.

La communauté internationale et les établissements humanitaires ont le devoir et la position incontestables pour apporter le cas à la Cour Criminelle Internationale (ICC) ou d'autres tribunaux appropriés pour le litige éventuel et ne devraient pas laisser ces actions non récompensées.

Maintenant qu'un cessez-le-feu fragile est établi, il est nécessaire que le monde dans l'ensemble, particulièrement les grandes puissances et les états riches de la région, contribuent rapidement à la reconstruction du Liban déchiré par la guerre avant le début des saisons froides.

Ni l'Israël ni le Hezbollah et leurs protecteurs ne devraient être fiers de ce qui s'est produit pendant les 33 jours de destructions et du carnage dans cette région. Au contraire, toutes les parties concernées dans cette catastrophe devraient avoir honte de la manière qu'elles ont manipulé cette crise malheureuse. La communauté internationale doit également apprendre beaucoup de leçons de cet enchevêtrement. J'élaborerai sur ce dernier dans mes futurs commentaires. /

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mid-East Crisis Outcome...

Mid-East Crisis Outcome: Pride or Humiliation!

Ali-Asghar Kazemi
15 August 2006

Finally the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 for cessation of hostilities in the ill-fated Middle East crisis. Indeed, this crisis will be remembered as one the most foolish calamities and darkest page of our current history. While the blood of innocent victims is still fresh and bright on the soils of warring parties, wicked politicians on the one side and unscrupulous media showbiz on the other are stupidly counting the scores on each side to determine the loser and winner of the war; as they do for a football game.

Asking about the victor in this unfortunate war is like querying about the winner in a terrible earthquake, though wars should not be considered as natural and unavoidable phenomena of human interactions. There is no doubt in a sane mind that this kind of war has no victor but only losers who are only the innocent and helpless people of Lebanon and Israel who suffered because of absurdity, miscalculation and mismanagement of politicians.

As I argued in my previous comments at the beginning and during the hostilities, this crisis, disregard of the circumstances of its initiation and occurrence, could be handled without much difficulty and trouble. But for some dubious and obscure reasons, it started with cruelty and ended too late and with extensive bloodshed, destruction and unnecessary violence; while it could be contained and stopped by the U.N. Security Council and other big powers at the very beginning.

Permanent members of the Council should be blamed and morally held responsible for this delay. Israeli politicians and military commanders too should be accountable for their disproportionate reactions and unnecessary inflictions of damages to Lebanese civilian populations and infrastructures. This is not to say that Hezbollah indiscriminate attacks on Israel’s undefended cities and populations are legitimate by any legal or humanitarian measures. The international community and humanitarian institutions have the unquestionable duty and standing to bring the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or other relevant tribunals for eventual prosecution and should not leave these actions unrequited.

Now that a fragile cease-fire is established, it is necessary that the world as a whole, especially the great powers and rich states of the region, quickly contribute to the reconstruction of war-torn Lebanon before the cold seasons start.

Neither Israel nor Hezbollah and their supporters should be proud of what happened during the 33 days of destructions and bloodshed in this region. On the contrary, all feuding parties involved in this catastrophe should be ashamed of the way they handled this unfortunate crisis. The international community also has to learn many lessons from this entanglement. I shall elaborate on this latter in my future comments. /