Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Iran, Beating the War Drums!

Iran, Beating the War Drums!

Ali Asghar Kazemi

November 24, 2009


In the midst of a confusing stalemate in the nuclear negotiation with the 5+1 powers, Islamic hardliners are engaging in an unprecedented military exercise with the objective to show a deterrent air defense umbrella for Iran’s nuclear sites and strategic points. The Islamic government has so far shown reluctance to go along with the West on the matters concerning its nuclear undertaking and the proposed confidence-building measures. Instead, it is aggravating the situation by organizing maneuvers that would eventually create further suspicions and hostility.

How far the major challengers of the controversial projects are susceptible to be deterred from this and similar military exercises? Is really military confrontation a rational solution to the problem? What are eventual scenarios in this conflict? Is a military clash between Iran and its main nuclear contenders inevitable?

It is normal that countries plan in peacetime for regular military maneuvers in order to keep forces in a state of readiness and efficient condition to confront potential foreign threats. Also, it is quite understandable that such exercises be made known to public with a view to deter those who may have ill intentions about the security, independence and territorial integrity of another state. But, the odd thing about the recent air defense exercise in Iran is its timing and configuration.

At the outset, the exercise was supposed to cover almost the whole space of the country for the purpose of the air defense protection of nuclear sites and other strategic targets exposed to eventual hostile air raids. This has included both active as well as passive defense. But, one missing important element in this defense puzzle was the promised Russian S300 which so far was not delivered to Iran. Eventually, the lack of this vital weapon system pushed the Islamic Guard Corps- Pasdaran- to stay away from this particular operation. Since, without this air defense system, the chances for an effective active defense would be highly diminished. Understandably, Pasdaran, who are now in control of almost everything in the country, do not want to enter into a contest whose outcome is unclear.

Thus, unlike most other exercises, this time the regular military forces (and not the Pasdaran) have been tasked for carrying out operation. This is indeed a significant change from the past when the Guardian Corps assumed the responsibility of all show of forces in similar cases. In the central command post, a clergy with black turban and army uniform was sitting next to the commanding flag officer of the maneuver; implying that everything is under the control of the clerical hierarchy. It is interesting to notice that we seldom saw similar situations when a high profile “Pasdar” assumed the responsibility of an operation.

As for military and political implications of this untimely exercise, the following points can be observed:

· Considering the timing of this exercise, the Islamic government seems to be losing hope in diplomatic negotiations with the 5+1 powers and is trying to put more pressure to them for further concessions;

· Despite wide publicity in the domestic media, while public at large might be impressed by the extent and scope of the exercise, Iran’s potential hostiles, namely the United States and its ally in the region (Israel) appear not be deterred by the show of forces. Since, they have a practical estimate of Iran’s actual defense potentials and state of technology ;

· While a clash seems to be still remote under present circumstances, in an unfortunate worst case scenario, the conflict would be fast (blitzkrieg) and decisive leaving no option for Iran to project power beyond its borders;

· Should the worst case scenario occurs, the extent of damages to strategic points will be beyond calculation and the result of the last 50 years investment in infrastructure and economic resources will be put to nil.

· In case of a quick round up of the conflict, the blame of the defeat will be put on the regular armed forces and a number of outside factors beyond incumbent government control.

Given that the Islamic government has partially lost public support in the wake of the controversial presidential elections, it seems rather hard that the regime could mobilize a long-run attrition war against its enemies. This means that the ruling clergies might not be able to count on people’s religious or patriotic fervor for effective support. However, should the conflict drags on for more than a few days after the first rounds of strikes, then, Pasdaran might try to organize retaliatory brushfire strikes against the invaders or American allies in the region.

On the rationality and logic of Islamic hardliners to organize such costly exercises for the purpose of deterring their potential adversaries, one should realize that defending national interests of a country is no longer possible with mere hard power and weapon system. No matter how powerful a state might be, it needs to use diplomacy and negotiation for the purpose of protecting its security and sovereignty.

There is no doubt that the West and their allies in the region have a good grasp and assessment of Iran’s defense capacity and potentials. They know well its vulnerabilities and weak points as well as the technological state of its defense system. Hundreds of research centers and institutes permanently follow every bits of defense development or procurement in the world. Therefore, one ought to be realistic enough not to engage in a confrontation whose outcome is at least unclear if not totally adverse to its national interests.

Let’s hope that politicians involved in this critical situation act vigilantly in their decisions and actions. The Middle East has enough problems and bottlenecks that we need not another new situation that could engulf the whole region into a new crisis and bloodshed. /


Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran. See: www.aakazemi.blogspot.com

* Students, researchers, academic institutions, media or any party interested in using all or parts of this article are welcomed to do so with the condition of giving full attribution to the author and Strategic Discourse. ©All Copy Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Russian Connection


The Russian Connection

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 16, 2009


Iran and the United States have been competing hard to gain Russian support for their mutually antagonistic nuclear policies. Russians as usual are playing a villain opportunist who tries to get the most benefit out of this tripartite connection. How far this game can continue and how long Iranians should pay ransom to the Kremlin in order to put into operation Bushehr nuclear power plant that has become a source of prestige and the symbol Iran-Russia cooperation after the revolution in Iran?

Upon the conclusion of a meeting between Obama and Medvediev during the November 15, 2009 APEC conference in Singapore, Russian have announced that Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr will not be operational at the end of this year for technical matters. This is the fifth or sixth time that Russians have postponed the inauguration of the plant during the past years; whilst it has become a matter of pride and prestige for the Islamic regime. Despite Russian claim to the contrary, Iranians firmly believe that this action has a political motivation and is a direct result of American pressure on the Russians with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Opposition groups blame the incumbent government for the mismanagement of the project and accuse Russians as unreliable and erratic party who should not be trusted for major undertakings.

In fact, this is not the first time that Russians are in flagrant breach of their contractual obligations towards Iran. They have done the same with regard to another important deal with the Islamic regime for a vital air defense project (S300). That too became victim of secret connection between the United States and Russia that has so far abstained to deliver the system on the promised date while they had been prepaid for the deal. Disregard of the substance and logic of this latter agreement, Russians have indeed proved to be an untrustworthy and opportunist partner in almost all interactions with Iran during the past history.

Russia’s villain conduct with respect to Iran’s legitimate rights in the Caspian Sea is another case in which the children of Tsars and Marx, with not much scruple and rudimentary norms of moral principles, are deceiving Iran. While political realm has its own morality, a minimum standard of fairness is expected without which no just and durable relations among nations are possible.

Ever since Iran’s controversial nuclear project was exposed to international debate, Russia along with China, as two permanent members of the UN Security Council, have played a crucial role in this issue. During the past years, the Islamic regime has done its utmost effort to benefit from these two powers’ leverage to evade from sanctions and punitive actions taken against it.

Despite a number of lucrative deals offered by Iran to Russia and China during the past years, thus far American influence has proved to be prevailing in the game. This means that Iranian leaders have not been able to divide between the 5+1 powers and attract Russia and China in support of their nuclear undertaking.

Iranian leaders are well aware of Russian moral fiber and feel betrayed by them. But, they are not prepared to admit the fact, since they have invested so much on the nuclear power plant and other projects during the past 15 years that they fear they may lose the whole if they turn back to their defective partner. Tehran’s reluctance to go along with the IAEA suggestion to transfer low degree enriched uranium to Russia for further process, as a measure of confidence building, seems to be motivated from Iranian apprehension of the overall Russia’s irresponsible record in the past.

Russians have shown in the past that whatever promotes their sole material interests is permissible and moral. This is not to contend that their counterparts are in a better position. However, we know that politicians who have no respect for their words and promises are condemned to be isolated from the mainstream of the global interaction. This is equally true for Russia, America, Iran or any other country.

The Russian connection had a terrible cost for Iran ever since the Islamic regime decided to enter into an unequal contest with the United States. At the end of this year, when Russia and China once again turn their back to the Islamic regime, we will be witnessing the final outcome of this vital competition.

Many believe that Iran’s extending friendly hands to Russia has been out of urgency and political expediency created as a result of its unwarranted enmity with the United States. Iranians think that continuous hostility with the Americans is not leading to anywhere and is damaging Iran’s long-run interests. They believe that it is high time that Iran explicitly protests against Russians for their malicious conduct and should review its policies towards Moscow before it is too late. /


Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran. See: www.aakazemi.blogspot.com

* Students, researchers, academic institutions, media or any party interested in using all or parts of this article are welcomed to do so with the condition of giving full attribution to the author and Strategic Discourse. ©All Copy Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Obama: Between Idealism and Realism


Obama: Between Idealism and Realism

Ali Asghar Kazemi

November 2009


Less than a year in the White House, Obama is caught in a perplex situation: the Wilsonian ideals of peace, democracy, self-determination etc on the one hand; and American prestige, power and hegemony in the world on the other. There is no doubt that Obama is personally and by nature a decent man with many good human traits. But, as president of the United States, he is supposed to follow the Machiavellian advices in order to preserve “Prince’s” power and interests.

Perhaps, it is normal that when one begins to exercise in some fresh field, at initial steps the element of wish and purpose is overwhelming strong and the inclination to ponder upon facts and means are weak or non-existent. Realism is based on the assumption that the key concept in politics is interest defined as power; and everything else in the realm of ethics and morality is at the service of those interests.

Obama’s idealistic stand during his presidential campaign with respect to foreign policy and defense strategy was a natural position of a democrat candidate vis-a-vis a republican president who became the most detested leader in US history. But, he was enough conscious not to let him-self mired by illusion. Thus, in his initial speech after the election he touched to concrete facts on the way of the United States when he said: “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.” In fact, the troubles that Obama inherited from his predecessors were so profound and beyond reach that nobody could deny their existence and complexities.

About ten months in office has given enough experience to Obama that war in Afghanistan is not leading anywhere and public diplomacy with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is a wishful illusion. Constructive realism dictates on the one hand that sole use of hard power cannot protect US interests anywhere in the world. On the other hand, relying on public diplomacy alone for the purpose of settling perennial disputes with Iran is merely a waste of time.

In Afghanistan, the United States and its allies are gradually loosing face and credibility and Taliban “freedom fighters,” as they like to be labeled, are gaining ground and becoming stronger and more violent against the NATO forces. Obama’s recent decision to revise American strategy in this respect is indeed a realistic approach to the problem. But, as we said previously, the issues of Taliban and Talibanism in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be addressed on their own merits.

“Fighting Taliban with hard power, i.e. force of guns, artillery and fighter planes will surely not solve the problem; neither in Pakistan, Afghanistan nor anywhere else. Americans and their allies should realize this bitter fact that they are fighting an idea and not a group of devoted people who could regenerate itself through time and more ferociously. They must search for avenues to cope with intolerance and fanaticism in this hostile region. They should find appropriate ways and means to neutralize that idea through education, cultural change and economic development. Otherwise, the world will experience much worse condition in the future.”

With regard to the American entanglement in Iraq, Obama kept his promises during the presidential campaign by withdrawing forces from cities, but the situation there is still very vulnerable. The Middle East peace process too is in a fragile deadlock, despite earnest attempts by the democrats to bridge the gap between Israel and Palestinians.

In Iran, the situation is not better than what it was in the past. The Islamic regime is now more determined in its nuclear ambitions and more aggressive in its attitude towards the West and the United States. Hard-liners in Tehran seem to have reached the conclusion that neither the UN Security Council, nor the 5+1, including the US, are in a position to do anything tangible against them.

Swinging between idealism and realism by the new president has induced the impression of perplexity and indecision to Obama’s administration. His observation in a statement after the elections reflects that point: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals…. America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.” He recalled that “earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.” But, he is not quite clear as how he intends to put into practice these convictions to tackle with terrorist groups in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Concerning nuclear challenges ahead, he assures the world that the United States will work tirelessly “with old friends and former foes… to lessen the nuclear threat ….” But again, he falls short of explaining how this objective will be achieved. He has shown that he is very lenient to “those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents.” North Korea is still blackmailing the world with its nukes and Iran is simply showing deaf ears to military threats and economic sanctions.

As we said in our previous comments, change in “agency” will not necessarily bring about change in “structure.” This means that Barack Obama is before anything the president of the United States and is duty bound to protect American national and world interests. This fact may eventually work to the detriment of other rivals or opponents. But, what is important for the United States and its leaders, whether republicans or democrats, is to secure American interests at all cost and not to rectify any wrong or unjust situation in other countries. History bears good witness that this argument is quite true in the case of Iran. Therefore, we should not expect much from president Obama or any other leader in the world for that matter.

During recent months, Obama has tried to please both the Islamic regime and the people of Iran, especially the progressive groups who seek to change the situation in a peaceful and democratic manner. Outside the usual political rhetoric, if this proves to be the actual American strategy with respect to Iran, it is inherently contradictory and self-defeating, not producing positive result. Obama wants to show to the world that he really deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. But, he is still much perplexed as how to demonstrate this sentiment. He is trapped between his personal tendency to idealism and the collective American expectations to face realities of our time.

Idealist leaders have done more harm to the world than realists. Political realism is based upon a pluralistic conception of human nature. That is, human being is a composite of political, economic, moral and religious man. Hans J. Morgenthau once said: “a one dimensional political man would be a beast lacking total moral constraints; and a man who was nothing but “moral man” would be a foul.”

Whether Obama is an idealist, realist or a pragmatist, Iranians should not expect much from him in the fulfillment of their legitimate cause and aspirations. They are in fact learning by experience that in the final account “Obama is neither with them nor with the regime,” but he is and will remain with American long-run interests. /


Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran. See: www.aakazemi.blogspot.com

* Students, researchers, academic institutions, media or any party interested in using all or parts of this article are welcomed to do so with the condition of giving full attribution to the author and Strategic Discourse. ©All Copy Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Towards “Secular Nationalism” in Iran


Towards “Secular Nationalism” in Iran

Ali Asghar Kazemi

November 2009


While nationalism in the Moslem world is commonly considered as an alien ideology imported from the West, Persian nationalism has been emerged from a religious ground. Shi’ism is an outgrowth of this phenomenon that distinguishes Iranian from other Arab and non-Arab Moslems in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Up until the advent of the Islamic regime in Iran, national consciousness has been with Iranians parallel to their religious traditions. In other words, religious nationalism formed an inherent trait of the Persian identity for a long period of time[1]. This feature helped Iranians to consolidate, fight against their enemies and secure the country from disintegration and collapse. However, this trend has changed its course during the past several years. A new generation of Iranian intellectuals, academics and educated people is gradually moving away from the political Islam and traditional religious values toward a more universal and secular approach to various issues of society and the nation.

The progressive “Green Movement,” that emerged amidst the controversial presidential elections of June 2009, can be considered as the social and political manifestations of this new tendency. Upon a series of bloody clashes with the regime during the post-elections turmoil of June 2005, the movement has turned to radical and secular nationalistic slogans that aim at the very foundation of the religious system.

What is the substance of this new nationalistic awareness? How far this movement is capable to pressure the regime for fundamental changes? What are the implications of changes for the domestic and foreign affairs of the nation?

Islam and Nationalism

Nationalism has essentially a secular nature that originated from European civilizations. When it reached the Middle East it brought some fruits but it did cause serious dislocation to Moslem societies and produced serious challenge to traditional Islam.

With the gradual disappearance of Western colonialism from Asia and Africa, the struggle for self-determination and political independence led the Islamic communities to adopt nationalism as their liberating ideology. Thus, the quest for sovereignty and statehood created a sense of political nationalism that inevitably diverted and diluted the consciousness of belonging to the wider Islamic community (ummat.)

The relationship between nationalism and Islam is not always clear and various writers at different times and occasions have given different thought and explanation to it. As a matter of principle, Islamic doctrine adheres with the idea of “internationalism” and thus, theoretically, it should oppose such ideology. Some Moslem scholars have condemned nationalism as a regressive move to pre-Islamic tribalism.[2] Others have supported nationalism as long as it has its source and driving force in Islam. In some instances, nationalism in Moslem countries has attained the status of sacredness. In this kind of nationalism, protecting the nation from foreign aggression is considered as a “religious duty,” because only in a free and independent nation can there be a “religious self-respect.”[3]

Islam’s internationalism, along with its spiritual and political unity, stem from its pure monotheism. Thus, the kind of nationalism that emerged from secular and material interests is principally repudiated by Islamic doctrine. In this conception, nationalism without religion is inconceivable in Islam, since it is loyalty to the nation whose gate is religion.

Persian Nationalism

As we said previously, Persian nationalism expressed and articulated through the adoption of the Shiite doctrine fundamentally distinguishes Iranian Moslems from the other creeds in the broad spectrum of the religion of Islam. It has served as a strong unifying force against Persian enemies and rivals in the past centuries. But, with the ascendance into power of the clergies after the 1979 revolution in Iran, the political thrust of the religion gradually diminished and people became dismayed of the poor performance of politico-religious institutions.

As regards the evolution of nationalism, Shiite doctrine shall be viewed in two historical periods: before and after the 1979 revolution in Iran. The trend of nationalism in pre-revolution Iran is more or less similar to other movements in the region; in the sense that it was basically guided by a sense of self-determination, sovereignty and independence within the context of secular political system. The impact of Shi’ism has been considerable during the constitutional revolution of 1907. The later development of nationalist sentiment in Iran after World War II was also the product of secular intellectualism, whose effectiveness as a political force was marred by the lack of support from the religious sector.[4]

The Shiite fundamentalism that gradually took over Iran’s revolution of 1979 is considered analogous to the French Jacobin nationalism. In fact, the pattern of interaction and the trend Iran’s revolution resembles in many aspect to the French revolution of 1789. Five distinct phases can be observed in both historic events:1)The collapse of the “ancien regime” ; 2) the rule of the moderates; 3) The ascendency of the extremists; 4) The reign of terror; and finally 5) The “Thermidorian” period.[5]

The nationalist image of Iran’s revolution, manifested in form of the Shiite fundamentalism, bears many signs of the French Jacobin nationalism. In both cases they developed in the midst of foreign war and domestic turmoil. The main characteristics of this development can be observed in the following common features:

First, they became utterly suspicious and fiercely intolerant of domestic dissents. Thus, they made every effort to annihilate any group or faction which appeared to be lacking in faith and loyalty to the homeland “ la patrie” and “Vatan-e- Eslami.” They both fought vigorously any tendency toward partition and provincial autonomy.

Secondly: both revolutions relied heavily on force and militarism to attain their ends. They did not hesitate to use terror and violence to intimidate and cope against domestic dissenters. [6] As to foreign enemies, the whole nation and all the resources were set in motion. The Islamic devotees seeking martyrdom in war against the infidel regime of Baathist Iraq are example of nationalist manifestation under the banner of religion.

Thirdly: both movements have become fanatically religious. Finally, the common characteristics of the two nationalist movements lied upon their excessive missionary zeal. They both used every conceivable means to secure popular conformity.[7] This later trait pushed people away from strict religious norms to more tolerant secular values.

Secular Nationalism

With a view to make the traditional Islam more responsive to the needs of the present modern society, a number of progressive attempts have been initiated by Iranian elites, intellectuals and reformist during the past decade. They were all Moslem zealous who developed and lived within the religious system established after the revolution. Some of them even came from radical students followers of the late founder of the Islamic regime in Iran, who jumped over the walls of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and participated in the hostage taking American diplomats for 444 days.

The coming into power of the hard-line government in 2005 and its reelection in June 2009 was a serious blow to reformist groups’ ideals paving the path for the resurgence of a strong opposition front which later became known as the “Green Movement.” Thereafter, the green color which was merely the identity sign for one candidate became the emblem of a movement which is now standing as a challenging opposition front with new goals confronting the incumbent regime.

Thirty years after the revolution in Iran, people now seem to be changing their views and values in a direction opposite to that pursued and advocated by the Islamic regime. Despite earnest effort by the system to Islamize the nation, people sense of nationalism is being diverted towards secular values more attune with Western liberal democracy. This is indeed a major setback for hardliners who seek to enforce their backward interpretation of Islam for the whole nation. Their main objective is to dominate public and private life of the people.

As we said earlier, the new nationalistic movement in Iran stems from a different environment that is dissimilar from the past. We may attempt to recognize characteristics of the new movement in the following way[8]:

1) It is primarily a reaction against an ideology that has become unbearable for many even among religious figures;

2) It is an antithesis of a political system that came into power in a very particular point of time and circumstances that is no longer responsive to the actual expectations of the people;

3) It is a self-propelled movement with no official platform and has no particular leadership inside or outside Iran;

4) It is a “positive nationalism,” meaning that it is not against the current trend of the international society but it strongly objects the existing domestic divergence from that trend and wants to rehabilitate the true Iranian identity and status in the present world;

5) It is omnipresent and it uses all old patriotic and revolutionary slogans of the past as a tactical challenge against the ruling system;

6) It is a secular, forward-looking and peace-loving movement that denies all sorts of segregation, subjugation, arms races and interventions in the internal affairs of other countries and wants to live in peace with all people and nations.


Although the traditional Persian nationalism has a tendency to be dormant in quiet times, the new emerging secular consciousness tends to be dynamic and alert to the critical condition of  present Iran. Persian nationalism which, was once associated with religious faith as a driving force in the fulfillment of national and political aspirations, is now awakening in a new environment. They still stem from the same main source that is people with their faith and loyalty. But, it appears that the substance of the devotion is being transformed to secular values.

While Persian nationalism transpired from a religious premise in the past, it is now changing its course to secular values of the modern society. What we are witnessing now in Iran is a profound metamorphosis in people’s expectations and demands. Though the supporters of the “Green Movement” occasional and sporadic manifestation might be perceived as typical urban unrest with low level violence, its persistent dynamism during the past months infers the thrust of a real deep revolution[9]. The ramification of this transformation is not yet quite clear; nonetheless the impact is inevitable for present Iran. [10]/


Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran. See: www.aakazemi.blogspot.com

* Students, researchers, academic institutions, media or any party interested in using all or parts of this article are welcomed to do so with the condition of giving full attribution to the author and Strategic Discourse. ©All Copy Rights Reserved.

[1] This dates back to about five centuries ago, during the Safavid dynasty when the Persian king (shah) conceived Shiism as Iran's official religion, largely to distinguish themselves from Ottoman Turks and Arabs. Shiism is Iranian or” Iranianized” Islam. Its very existence signifies the irrepressibility of Iranian nationalism. See: Hooshang Amirahmadi, From political Islam to Secular Nationalism Iranian Archives 1995- 2006

[2] This is the view expressed by Muhammad al-Ghazali. Cf. E.I.J. Rosenthal, Islam in the Modern National State, London; Cambridge Univ. Press, 1965. Pp.109-110

[3] See; Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of Muslem Brothers , London; Oxford Univ. Press, 1969 . p. 264.

[4] -Iran’s national Front ( Jebheye Melli) came into existence as a coalition of political groupings revolving around Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh. It began to fragment and ultimately collapsed with the approach of the showdown between the prime minister and the Shah of Iran in 1953.

[5] Cf. Hosein Bashiriyeh, The State and Revolution in Iran 1962-1982 ( Beckenham Kent : Croom Helm, 1984), passim

[6] . The same is true about those who one way or another turned back to the regime, including the entourage of the spiritual leader who accompanied him in his journey from Paris to Tehran. Almost all of them were either executed, jailed, exiled or isolated from political activities.

[7] Cf. Carlton J. H. Hayes, “ Five types of Nationalism,” in Ivo D. Duchacek Conflict and Cooperation Among Nations, New York: Holt,Reinhart and Winston, Inc., 1960, pp. 44-51

[8] I have taken these characteristics from my earlier article “ Rise of New Nationalism in Iran” See: Strategic Discourse, October 2009.

[9] Some people prefer to call the phenomenon a “velvet revolution,” referring to the experience of colored movements in Georgia and Ukraine, but the comparison seems irrelevant in the case of Iran.

10 For more sources on the subject see:

Christoph Marcinkowski Islam and Nationalism in Iran, Iranian nationalism is to remain a driving force behind Iran’s foreign policy. Security Watch Policy Briefs  Special Report, Oct. 2006

- Naser Ghobadzadeh Value Changes in Iran (Second Decade of the Islamic Revolution) Discourse: An Iranian Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 77-108, Fall 2004

- Jonathan Manthorpe, The roots of radical Islam Meddling by western powers fueled the radicalization of Middle East, The Vancouver Sun 27 September 2001

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Iran: Islamization vs. Secularization


Iran: Islamization vs. Secularization

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 2009


The controversial presidential elections of June 2009, which ignited a social crisis in Iran, had a definite impact on the society and truly polarized the nation in two antagonistic camps: pro-government conservative hard-liners on one side and reformist opposition groups on the other. At first the quarrel was limited to the results of the elections which were alleged to be performed with widespread frauds. Ruthless reaction of the government to peaceful manifestations of the unconvinced people pushed the opposition to take a much more radical stand against the whole Islamic regime. This prompted the religious leader to find about the cause and origin of this prolonged crisis which is still threatening the very foundation of the system.

Radical conservatives, while claiming foreign involvement in this turmoil, believe that the Islamization process should continue with much stronger vigor until the nation has converted to zealous followers and supporters of the religious regime. Reformists on the other hand contest that the crisis is a natural response of the people to years of repressive rule, deception and injustice. They express the opinion that as long as the country is under a backward system of government, democratic changes are almost impossible. They believe that Islam has limited capacity for transformation and adaptation to the needs of our time. Therefore, they suggest that secularization is an inevitable and necessary trend of the future of Iran.

Despite earnest attempts of the ruling regime in Iran to impose the strict law of Shari’a, as interpreted by the Shiite doctrine, the result was frustrating. Thus seemingly, the process of Islamization of all vital sectors of the society during the past three decades was quite unsuccessful. We have said that some political elites have singled out Western “social Sciences” taught at the higher education, as the main cause for this failure. Some others are still trying to put the blame on “Western imperialism” and enemies of Islam, who are incessantly conspiring to topple the Islamic regime.

To what extent these arguments hold true in present Iran? What are the main causes of the young generation distancing from Islamic traditional principles and leaning towards secular values? Why those who were brought up in the Islamic environment are now rising up against the ruling system and reject the Islamization process under the guise of what we may label “national secularism”?

Islam as State Religion

Iran is a typical country which after its people accepted Islam in the first century of the Hegra,[1] replaced its former religion and followed the Shiite school. In this respect, some scholars believe that Persians extreme devotion to the Shiite doctrine and its symbol of faith and martyrdom stems from their spiritual and cultural background. They believe that Shiism is an outgrowth of dominant Persian social and political traditions, translated into a more bearable and tolerable doctrine associated with Islam.[2]

The state in its modern sense, is not one of the fundamental elements in the building of Islamic society, but emerges through the institution of Caliphate or Imamate for the protection of Moslem community (Ummat).[3] The word ‘Islam’, commonly used as synonymous to ‘religion’, is a misinterpretation that usually confuses the Western conception of – for example- Christian faith. Rather, Islam is an expression including in its total meaning: religion, politics, economics, society, etc.[4] Therefore, the notion of Church and state separation widely debated in Christianism seems not relevant to the relation between Islam and state. Since, according to the Islamic doctrine, Din (religion) and Dowlat (state) are both expression of Islam.[5]

One of the most important institutions in Islam is the mosque. The mosques in Islam are the focal point and the main place of gathering for both religious and political purposes. They usually supplant traditional forum for modern Western political parties. They are run and maintained ordinarily with private fund and endowment.[6] Before the advent of the Islamic regime in Iran, the power of secular government traditionally stopped at the doorstep of the mosque. Being literally self-sustained and politically independent, the mosques have played an influential role in the social and political business of Moslem countries. The mosques played an undeniable role in bringing down the monarchic regime in Iran. Many governments in the Middle East have always had to deal with the mosques and in order to limit their influence of religious institutions over political business of the states, by devising laws and regulations to control their activities.[7] In present Iran, the mosques are managed and to some extent funded by the state. In other words, the state has the absolute prerogative to appoint the religious authority of each mosque and supervise his activities. This means that they are no longer independent institutions and consequently cannot deviate from policies and guiding principles of the ruling system. This issue has been one of the major arguments of the opposition groups as well as independent clergies who believe that the state should not meddle in the business of local mosques.

Impact of Modernism on the Moslem World

The trend toward secularization in the Moslem world in the last hundred years has meant a decline in the overt influence of religious ideas and organization upon social and political life.[8] As we said earlier, unlike other religions, Islam is not merely a religion; it is a culture, a polity, a legal system and a whole range of social institutions. In consequence, the Islamic Shari’a is not only a constitutional system but also an ideal of conduct and behavior as well as legal code dealing with every-day life.[9]

Not until late nineteenth century the conservative Islam of the time realized its painful dislocation caused by the technological superiority of Western civilization, but also found itself invaded by Christian missionaries which paved the way for colonialism.[10]The once great civilizations of the Middle East, which under Islam had experienced a long period of conflict, hostility and socio-economic stagnation, suddenly realized that they were far behind European states. In fact, for centuries they had looked backward to nourish from the greatness of their civilization and their memory, while Europe had gone into various stages of industrial and social revolution. Progressive Moslems, in contact with the West, felt this backwardness deep in their minds and their souls. Thenceforth, religion was perceived the major stumbling block and thus the demand for change through secularization of states political system spread all over the Moslem world.

Moslems had to choose between two courses of action: either to go along with the strict dictate of religion (the medieval synthesis); or to face the realities of the modern world.[11]The choice proved to be a difficult one and no consensus to this time seems to be established. Practically, some Moslems tried to adopt an almost alien concept of faith, applying a little Protestant- style reformism to their creed. Others opted for secularism and still another group adhered to fundamentalism which preaches Islamic Shari’a’ as a political ideology.[12]

During the nineteenth century, modernist movements developed in the Moslem milieu of Egypt and Indian Subcontinent to interpret the Qur’an and Tradition so as to bring practice in Islam into general conformity with certain aspects of Western thinking of those days.[13]Despite some independent attempts by certain Moslem scholars to show the necessity of the separation of the spiritual and temporal powers in Islam, the reform did not go far before it was resisted by a fundamentalist group called Moslem Brotherhood. Neither the socialist movement of Jamal Abd-al-Naser nor the subsequent moves toward left and right, proved to be effective in establishing a secularized democratic state. Egyptian Islam today is characterized as apologetic and political and all reformers have reacted in these two directions.[14] In other Moslem countries such as Iran, the trend was somehow different in form and in substance.

Trend to Secularism in Modern Iran

Attempts at secularization of political power in the Moslem world of the twentieth century, begun with Kamalism movement in Turkey. Kamal Ataturk, the Turkish officer who overthrew the old Turkish monarchy after World War I, is the first to challenge the influence of religion (Islam) in Turkish politics. He deposed the religious elements in Turkish political instructions and substituted them by secularized ones.[15]He removed the veil from Turkish women, as a symbol of their emancipation in social life and instituted land reforms and social-bureaucratic reorganization.[16]

In Iran, Reza Shah the founder of the Pahlavi Dynasty, made similar attempt around the same period .The ruler displayed implacable hostility to the tight grip of Moslem clergy over many aspects of public life, including education and justice, and took steps to break their power and prestige.[17]

As a consequence, the clergy lost direct control of much of its vast trust funds and religious laws gave way to civil and criminal codes. Licenses were required for the wearing of clerical garb. Traditional religious teaching gave way to state schools and a host of other changes, which restricted religious section to meddle in the political life, were instituted by the ruler. The object of these transformations was not religion per se, since Reza Shah was believed to be a faithful Moslem. Rather, it was perceived that for revitalizing Iran’s social structure, religious precepts hindering the development process had to give way to a secular system.

The secularization process in Iran somehow meant Westernization of all aspects of life including for example compulsory Western clothes, replacing many different tribal, regional and traditional costumes.[18]The attempt, which was later, pursued by his son Mohammad Reza Shah, failed to produce the desired effect. What it did, however, was the deepening of hatred and grudge of the clergy class and their followers. The hatred later mounted into what is now known as Islamic Revolution, which caused the fall of the Iranian monarchy in 1979.

Before the revolution, the secularist trends in Iran were growing in the sense that the political leadership of the Islamic clergy and their traditional influence on the educational system reduced. The secularization, however, did not mean “anti-religiousness but rather a-religiousness.”[19] Some groups and individuals have made attempts, though not on a systematic basis, to purify or “regenerate” Islam, but they have not gone too far.[20] During this period, religion was not so much frontally challenged as a system of beliefs by the political elites, as it was peripherally ignored. Where religion was accorded deference by the ruling system, it was often as a political force.[21]

The Islamic regime put all its efforts to reverse the secularization process in Iran by force and unprecedented vigor. However, it seems the more the state pushed for Islamization of the nation, the more people distanced from the official creeds and restrictive principles of the religious system. The post- presidential elections crisis was a symptom of people discontent about the political trend. Despite all the impediments on the way of the reformist movement, it seems to pursue with vigor its secular objectives and demands. The “Green Movement” is now in a face to face encounter with the Islamic regime and poses a real threat for the incumbent government. But, its success depends on a number of factors which seem very difficult to achieve in present time.


The process of secularization in the Islamic World in general and in Iran in particular, did not follow a unique and concrete identifiable pattern; rather it was disparate and in some cases blurred by other aspects of political life. However, from recent development, it is safe to say that the conflict between the “mosque” and the “palace” is gradually rising to a critical point. Some countries have already attempted to align their political apparatus and socio-economic system with the growing exigencies of Islamic doctrine, but the process has proved to be a difficult one and in some instances painful.

In Iran, while the Islamization process in post-revolution failed to generate the expected outcome for the Islamic regime and in some instances counter produced, the secularization was not quite successful either. The reason is believed to be the substance of traditional culture and mores in the society. Average Iranians are by nature spiritual and fatalistic. The new generation and educated people are very much eager and enthusiastic to adhere to many values and norms of democracy. Concepts such as independence, freedom, social justice, human rights and other attributes of Western style polity are much cherished by people, but they are not yet prepared to accept their rudiments. The shadow of deep-rooted of authoritarian culture is still present in today Iran. For example, tolerance as the most basic requisites of democratic process is almost absent in personal and collective interactions. The problem is more or less the same in Moslem countries of the Middle East.

In sum, the idea of secularism, though still very much cherished by liberal and intellectual Moslem, seems to have little appeal among traditional layers of developing Moslem societies. In some places, secularism is considered as the residue of Western influence and imperialism; thus, a return to religious ideas is perceived synonymous to anti-imperialistic movement. In other cases, religion is gaining momentum very dangerously as an ideological drive to face the ever growing danger of globalization.

Iranians seem now to be more and more leaning toward a “new nationalism” as an alternative expression of their secular objectives. This could be arbitrarily labeled as “National Secularism,” which is indeed a clever way to express opposition against the present religious system and to circumvent harsh reaction of conservative hardliners.

We shall further elaborate on this dimension in our future comments. /


Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran. See: www.aakazemi.blogspot.com

* Students, researchers, academic institutions, media or any party interested in using all or parts of this article are welcomed to do so with the condition of giving full attribution to the author and Strategic Discourse. ©All Copy Rights Reserved.

[1]. Hegra or Hegira is the year of migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in A. D. 622, according to most account on September 20. This is the milestone of Moslem calendar dates counted on lunar or solar system.

[2]. CF. Morteza Motahari, Mutual Services of Islam and Iran [in Persian] (Ghom, Iran: Sadra Publishers, 1980), p. 122.

[3].It is argued that the Prophet founded a religion and a state at the same time, but his main goal was that of religion and the founding of the state was only secondary. CF. Ibid. p. 8.

[4].CF.Richard p. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 243.

[5].Sayyed Qutb. Quoted in Idem.

[6].The main institution providing financial support to Mosque is wagf which confers the right to use the fruits and return of property without transferring ownership. The wagf is extended to all kinds of voluntary charitable purpose of the Moslem community.

[7].Government control over mosques activities has been mostly performed through financial and administrative regularizations regarding wagf institution and other assets of the mosques.

[8].CF. Morroe Berger. Islam in Egypt Today: Social and Political Aspects of Popular Religion, (London: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 2-9.


[10].Cf. Religion in the Middle East, op. cit. pp. 26-7.

[11].CF. e.g. Daniel Pipes, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), passim.

[12].Moslem Brotherhood founded by the Egyptian scholar Hassan Al-Banna was an outgrowth of the Islamic movement which insisted on a return to the Qur’an and the Tradition (Sunna) of the Prophet. Similar fundamentalist movements emerged in Iran Fadaiyan-e-Islam, Pakistan Jamaat-e –Islami. Though founded on different grounds, their objectives were more or less the same asserting political role of Islam in the daily business of state and social life.

[13].The initial inspiration of the Egyptian movement stemmed from the ideal of Pan-Islamism of Sayyed Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (Assad Abadi, the Iranian version) 1839-1897 who preached for the union of all Moslem states into a great empire. Interestingly this ideal was seized by the opportunist and reactionary Turkish Sultan Abdul-Hamid, who in fear of the overthrow of the Ottoman dynasty, laid emphasis on the Ottoman claim to legitimate succession of the early Caliphs of Islam. See: Religion in the Middle East, Ibid. p. 28.

[14]. CF. Jacques Jomier, “Islam in Egypt”, in Ibid. pp. 31-47 at 47.

[15].On 1 November 1922 the Turkish National Assembly stripped the last Ottoman Sultan of his power and proclaimed itself the sovereign authority. It permitted the existence of a Caliphate divorced from the Sultanate. But when Mustafa Kemal came to power eliminated the Ottoman Caliphate for good by a decree of 3 March 1924.

[16].See e.g. Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey. (London: Oxford University Press, 1961).

[17].See e.g. Donald N. Wilber, Iran: Past and Present, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975), pp. 125-129.

[18].Ibid. p. 128.

[19].See. Marvin Zonis, The Political Elite of Iran, (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1971), p. 148.

[20].Ahmad Kasravi, a controversial Iranian scholar, and his followers endeavored to render Islamic teaching meaningful for our times but he ended up giving his life on the matter. He was assassinated by a Moslem fanatic belonging to an underground group called Fadaiyan Islam (Devotees of Islam), CF. Ibid. pp. 148-149.

[21].CF. Ibid. p. 149.

علی اصغر کاظمی :خلاصه شرح حال

مشاهیر ایران و جهان

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مشاهیر ایران و جهان / کاظمی، علی اصغر

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کاظمی، علی اصغر

( ملیت: ایرانی قرن: 14 )
سيد علي اصغر كاظمي در6 بهمن 1319 در يك خانواده مذهبي در محله قديمي سرآسياب دولاب تهران متولد شد. قبل از آغاز سن دبستان ابتدايي در مكتب خواندن قرآن را فرا گرفت. دوره ابتدايي را در دبستان صابر در همان محله و دوره متوسط را تا كلاس نهم در دبيرستان ابوريحان در خيابان دلگشا (دروازه دولاب) طي كرد. سپس در سال 1335 وارد دبيرستان نظام تهران شد و در سال 1338ديپلم رياضي را اخذ نمود. در همان سال از طريق كنكور نيروي دريائي با اخذ رتبه اول براي طي دوره آكادمي دريائي به كشور فرانسه اعزام شد.
در سال 1342 با درجه افسري وارد خدمت نيروي دريائي شد و تا سال 1370 در سمت هاي مختلف انجام وظيفه كرد. در طول خدمت در نيروي دريائي فرصت يافت مدارج مختلف علمي و آكادميك را در رشته هاي مديريت و حقوق بين الملل در كشورامريكا طي كند. پس از بازنشستگي به عنوان هيات علمي مدارج دانشگاهي را تا مرتبه استادي طي نمود. هم اكنون نيز مشغول تدريس در واحد علوم و تحقيقات دانشگاه آزاد اسلامي مي باشد.
گروه : علوم انسانی
رشته : علوم سياسي
گرايش : حقوق و روابط بين الملل
والدين و انساب : پدر سيدعلي اصغر كاظمي حاج سيد كاظم كاظمي دولابي فرزند حاج سيد باقر از سادات اصيل ، متدين و خير سر آسياب دولاب بود كه املاك و مستغلات معتنابهي را وقف اهل بيت براي صرف مساجد و تكايا نمود.
خاطرات کودکي : سيدعلي اصغر كاظمي از دوران كودكي خود اينطور ياد مي كند كه : «من فرزند دوم خانواده هستم يك برادر بزرگتر،دو خواهر و سه برادر كوچكتر دارم.دوران كودكي ما در تهران قديم مانند ديگران بسيار ساده بود. وجود باغها و مزارع سر سبز اطراف محله ما نوعي انس با طبيعت و ذوق هنري را در من پرورش داد. در اولين سالهاي آشنائي با قلم مبادرت به سرودن شعر كردم كه شديداً مورد تمجيد اطرافيان بويژه مادر بزرگم كه زني اهل فضل بود قرار گرفت. از همان كودكي به نقاشي،خطاطي و موسيقي علاقمند بودم. بسياري از اشعار حافظ را كه معاني آن را به خوبي فهم نمي كردم از بر داشتم وبا كودكان ديگر مشاعره مي كردم. علاقه به مطالعه و نگارش از همان اوان كودكي در من ايجاد شد. در مدرسه همواره شاگرد ممتاز بودم و مورد تشويق قرار مي گرفتم. دروس مدرسه هيچگاه كنجكاوي مرا اغناء نمي كرد و در هر فرصتي مطالعه مي كردم. البته طبيعي است كه اين مطالعات چندان جهت دار و هدفمند نبود. بعدها هنگامي كه به كشور فرانسه رفتم سعي كردم در جوار موضوعات تخصصي به مطالعات خود جهت بدهم. هنوز هم در عصر انقلاب اطلاعات با بهره گيري از ابزارهاي نوين از هر فرصتي براي افزايش دانش عمومي استفاده مي كنم. »
اوضاع اجتماعي و شرايط زندگي : پدر و مادر سيدعلي اصغر كاظمي به دليل اعتقادات مذهبي هيچگاه با رفتن وي به خارج از كشور براي تحصيل و خدمت در نظام موافق نبودند. در اصل هدف او از پيوستن به نيروي دريائي تحصيل در خارج از كشور بود. اما حرفه تخصصي او مانع از ادامه تحصيل در ساير رشته هاي دانشگاهي نشد.
تحصيلات رسمي و حرفه اي : مدارج تحصيلي سيد علي اصغر كاظمي به شرح زير مي باشد:  
فارغ التحصیل آکادمی افسری نیروی دریایی فرانسه 1338-  1342-
Ecole du Commissaiat de la Marine Nationale Francaise
 از مدرسه تحصیلات تکمیلی نیروی دریایی امریکا MS درجه کارشناسی ارشد  -
United States Naval Post-Graduate School  , Monterey California USA
درجه کارشناسی ارشد MA در امنیت بین الملل از مدرسه حقوق و دیپلماسی فلچر دانشگاه تافتس وابسته به دانشگاه هاروارد1977 -
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Medford Massachusetts USA
ودکترا PhD  در حقوق ودیپلماسی از مدرسه فلچر1979 MALD درجه کارشناسی ارشد 
فعاليتهاي ضمن تحصيل : بيشتر فعاليت سيد علي اصغر كاظمي در تخصص حرفه اي نيروي دريائي بوده كه در جوار آن به تحصيل و پژوهش نيز پرداخته است.استادان و مربيان : از ميان استادان سيد علي اصغر كاظمي كه وي به خوبي از آنها ياد مي كند به شرح زير است كه همه داراي تاليفات متعدد هستند: دريا دار دكتر ژاك فريهJacques Ferrier رئيس دانشكده كميسرياي دريائي فرانسه    Pfaltgraff .Robert L  استاد راهنماي رساله دكتري  مركز مطالعات سياست خارجي- كمبر يج ماساچوست پرفسور دانيل نايهارت Daniel Nyhart از دانشگاه MiTاستاد مشاور رساله دكتري پرفسور جفري كمپ Geoffrey Kemp استاد راهنماي رساله كارشناسي ارشد،فعلا رئيس بنياد نيكسون امريكا پرفسور لوتيز سون Luis Sohn از دانشكده حقوق دانشگاه هاروارد پرفسور لئو گروس Leo Gross استاد حقوق بين الملل پرفسور آلفرد روبينAlfred Rubin استاد حقوق بين الملل
هم دوره اي ها و همکاران : سيدعلي اصغر كاظمي از دوستان و هم دوره ايهايش به خوبي ياد مي كند مي گويد كه يكي از آنها بعدها رئيس جمهور ماداگاسكار ، و يك از همكلاسي هندي اش معاون دبير كل سازمان ملل و يكي ديگر فرمانده ناوگان دريائي ايالت متحده امريكا در جنگ دوم خليج فارس بود.
همسر و فرزندان : سيدعلي اصغر كاظمي در سال 1349 هنگامي كه در ايالات متحده امريكا تحصيل مي كرد به صورت غيابي ازدواج كرد. همسرش خانم طيبه محرر كه از بستگان آنهاست فارغ التحصيل رشته حقوق قضائي از دانشگاه تهران است. حاصل ازدواج شان دو فرزند پسر است كه هر دو پزشك هستند. فرزند بزرگتر كاميار فارغ التحصيل دانشگاه تهران و متخصص جراحي چشم از دانشگاه شيراز است. فرزند كوچكتر فرزاد دندانپزشك دانش آموخته دانشگاه شهيد بهشتي است. كاميار متاهل و داراي دو فرزند دختر و پسر است. همسرش نيز پزشك متخصص جراحي زنان مي باشد. فرزاد مجرد است و عاشق موسيقي است.
مشاغل و سمتهاي مورد تصدي : سيدعلي اصغر كاظمي علاوه بر تصدي مشاغل رسمي طي 32 سال (70-1338) خدمت در نيروي دريائي و ستاد مشترك ارتش فعاليتهائي به شرح زير داشته است: عضو و مشاور حقوقي هيات نمايندگي ايران در اجلاس هاي مختلف كنفراس سازمان ملل درباره حقوق درياها عضو و حقوقدان كميته برآورد خسارات جنگ تحميلي ،دفتر حقوقي وزارت امور خارجه عضو و مشاور حقوقي هيات نمايندگي جمهوري اسلامي براي اجراي قطع نامه 598 و استقرار آتش بس عضو و مشاور حقوقي هيات اعزامي براي مذاكرات صلح ايران و عراق زير نظر دبير كل سازمان ملل متحد عضو كميته آتش بس و اجراي قطعنامه 598 عضو پيوسته كميته تخصصي شوراي عالي برنامه ريزي وزارت فرهنگ و آموزش عالي (گروه علوم سياسي و روابط بين الملل)
فعاليتهاي آموزشي : سيد علي اصغر كاظمي در زمينه آموزشي فعاليتهايي را داشته است كه به شرح زير مي باشد: استاد دانشگاه دفاع ملي ارتش جمهوري اسلامي تدريس به صورت پاره وقت در دانشگاه هاي مختلف كشور استاد تمام وقت دانشكده حقوق و علوم سياسي واحد علوم و تحقيقات دانشگاه آزاد
مراکزي که فرد از بانيان آن به شمار مي آيد : سيد علي اصغر كاظمي از بانيان مراكز زير مي باشد: - مركز مطالعات خليج فارس در نيروي دريايي كه بعد به وزارت خارجه منتقل شد - مركز مطالعات استراتژيك در ستاد مشترك ارتش جمهوري اسلامي - دانشكده حقوق و علوم سياسي واحد علوم و تحقيقات دانشگاه آزاد اسلامي
ساير فعاليتها و برنامه هاي روزمره : از جمله كارهاي روزمره سيد علي اصغر كاظمي نقاشي و موسيقي كلاسيك ايراني ( رديف هاي سنتي ) با سازهاي ويلن ، تار و سه تار مي باشد.
آرا و گرايشهاي خاص : از نظرات سيد علي اصغر كاظمي مي توان به : « همواره به فرزندان و شاگردانم مي گويم كه نسل ما در تاريخ ايران منحصر به فرد است، چرا كه ما هم «چراغ نفتي » را تجربه كرده ايم وهم ماهواره و اينترنت را . قطعاً در هيچ دوره اي چنين تحولي شگرف در زندگي گذشتگان رخ نداده و در آينده هم بعيد است اتفاق بيفتد. ما سهمي در اين تحول نداشته ايم ولي اميدوارم آيندگان دين خود را به ملت و كشور ايران آنطور كه شايسته است ادا كنند. كساني كه با آثار متنوع اين قلم آشنا هستند معتقدند كه تقريباً همه آنها با درون مايه اخلاقي و انتقادي نوشته شده اند. تا آنجا كه به خود من مربوط است هيچ عمدي در اين كار نبوده است و شايد اين ويژگي ناشي از ساختار بينشي و ذهني من باشد كه در محيط اوليه خانواده شكل گرفته است. نگاه انتقادي من به برخي مسائل تخصصي نظامي و انعكاس آن به رده هاي بالاتر گاهي موجب دردسرهاي جدي شده است .»
جوائز و نشانها : دريافت نشان دانش به خاطر فعاليتهاي علمي در سال 1353 ( قبل از انقلاب) برنده دوازدهمين دوره جايزه كتاب سال 1374 جمهوري اسلامي برنده پنجمين دوره جايزه اول كتاب دفاع مقدس
چگونگي عرضه آثار : سيد علي اصغر كاظمي مقالات حقوقي ، سياسي و بين المللي متعددي را در مجلات و نشريات مختلف داخل و خارج كشور به چاپ رسانده است كه ليست گزيده برخي از مقالات در سايت علمي معرفي شده موجود است.
:آثار و کتابهای چاپ شده :
-( ابعاد حقوقي حاكميت ايران در خليج فارس (دفتر مطالعات بين المللي وزارت خارجه 1368-
- ابعاد حقوقي دورنماي صلح بين ايران و عراق( تهران : دفتر نشر فرهنگ اسلامي 1377) برنده پنجمين دوره جايزه سال دفاع مقدس
- اخلاق و سياست : نظريه سياسي در عمل ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1376) - بحران جامعه (مدرن ( تهران : دفتر نشر فرهنگ اسلامي 1377
-( بحران نوگرايي و فرهنگ سياسي در ايران معاصر( تهران : نشر قومس، 1376
-( پايان سياست و واپسين اسطوره ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1381
-( جهاني شدن فرهنگ و سياست ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1380
ديپلماسي نوين در عصر دگرگوني در روابط بين الملل ( تهران : دفتر مطالعات وزارت خارجه1365
- روابط بين الملل در تئوري و عمل ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1374) برنده دوازدهمين دوره جايزه كتاب سال
-( روش و بينش در سياست ( تهران : موسسه چاپ و انتشارات وزارت امور خارجه 1374
- زنجيره تنازعي در سياست وروابط بين الملل. (نشر قومس 1370
-( سياست سنجي ( تهران : موسسه چاپ و انتشارات وزارت امور خارجه 1374
-( مديريت بحرانهاي بين المللي ( تهران : دفتر مطالعات بين المللي وزارت خارجه 1366
- (مديريت سياسي و خط مشي دولتي ( تهران : دفتر نشر فرهنگ اسلامي 1379
- نظريه همگرايي در روابط بين الملل ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1370
-( زنجيره تنازعي در سياست و روابط بين الملل ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1371)
-( نقش قدرت در جامعه و روابط بين الملل ( تهران : نشر قومس، 1369
-( هفت ستون سياست( تهران : دفتر نشر فرهنگ اسلامي 1379
فعالیتها: •تدریس حقوق، علوم سیاسیمحقق
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