Barack Obama and Iran (After Election)
A. A. Kazemi*
November 5, 2008
Almost half a century after the historic speech of Martin Luther King Jr. that cost him his life, “wishes come true!” Barack Obama, a black man who seeks his ancestors’ roots in Africa (Kenya), has been elected as 44th President of the United States to lead the most powerful nation on earth at least for the next four years. Indeed, the power of democracy can make miracle in an open and free society!
What does this mean to the Islamic regime in Iran? Shall it be happy for this historic change and consider it as the will of God who promised the victory of the oppressed over the arrogant powerful? Can the Islamic regime continue to evade from the chastisement of its defying behavior in the nuclear venture?
Before we let ourselves drawn by the joy of this astonishing event, we should listen to Obama’s speech before the Jewish lobby AIPAC after his victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries, which has all the answers to the above questions. Perhaps, for the first time a presidential candidate took so bold and explicit stance vis-à-vis Israel’s security and survival in the tumultuous Middle East political strata. This is indeed a direct consequence of Iran’s hard-line president’s vicarious statements about Israel during the past years.
Obama’s further observations on Iran’s role in the instability of the Middle East, terrorism and the security of Israel bear good witness that the election of a democrat president will not change American political environment in favor of the Islamic government in Iran. To the contrary, as we can read through the document titled: “Bipartisan Policy Center Releases Comprehensive Report on Iran” there is enough evidence to believe that from now on things will be much tougher for the Islamic hard-liners in Tehran.
Those who think otherwise are either naïve or have no grasp of history. Since, 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.
Americans are amazing people and know well how to use their constituent power to express their ideas and decide their choices and preferences. Like many nations, they don’t compromise their solidarity on common causes. This means that they are not prepared to accept humiliation because of mishandling of crisis situations by their leaders. Barack Obama came at an opportune time when America was split on matters of terrorism after September 11, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Obama’s election as the President of the United States has risen the expectations of not only the American people but the whole world about prosperity, peace and security. But, as he warned in his first speech after election, “the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime, two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.” Indeed, the troubles that Obama inherited from his predecessors are so profound and complex which go beyond the capacity and power of this young leader and his fellow democrats.
Besides that, Obama’s election may reawaken the residue of dormant racism in America susceptible to cause problem in future. I don’t want to speculate on an unexpected ominous event, such as those that happened to late Martin Luther King Jr., Kennedy brothers etc. But, there is always a foolish racist around the corner that would be tempted to fire a gunshot.
With respect to Iran- US relations under Obama, chances of some sort of rapprochement are very meager as things stand at present. Since, we should recognize that the problem of Iran-US entanglement goes well beyond the conventional bilateral relations and party politics. This is to say that in all assessment we shall take into account the problem pertaining to US most close ally in the region, Israel, as well as other Middle East critical issues on which the Islamic regime has shown stringency.
In fact, American foreign policy in the Middle East is intimately tied to Israel’s survival 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.Obama’s election as US president could generate a potential opportunity to break ices between the two countries. But, this is not an automatic occurrence and needs tactful planning and political will from the two sides. Despite the unpleasant situation that the Americans are now experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would not seem strange that a democrat president in the White House, backed by a strong democrat Congress, become persuaded to settle the Iranian issue by force if necessary.
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. /
* Ali Asghar Kazemi is Professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran- Iran.