following recent trends, the situation in iran is depicted in a black-white-, good-bad-manner; as if people were not able to understand the whole range of issues and the complexity of a topic. i for one would like to believe, however, that people are indeed able to grasp the different shades of grey once they get information presented in an understandable manner; because simplicity does not mean black or white.
now, the situation in iran is tricky. the topic has been emotionalized on several levels and there is of course a need to reflect on all the what-if-scenarios.
but since there is so much talk and thought about the what-if-cases already, i would like to lead the public view back to the fundamental question of why at all?
like any country, iran has strategic regional and international goals. these, however, are, whatever the rhetoric, first of all not the destruction of any foe or enemy. and, as shown in the post “iran – part 2”, acquisition of the bomb is not necessarily only a threat to others, but may also be the reaction to a threat from outside and a means of protection.
this article wants to make three points.
first, in the shadow of history of the persian empire, iran aspires to become a regional power.
second, iranian people were tortured under the shah, who was supported by the us, and turned to a religious leader for help; plus with all the other us actions in the region, iran is still skeptical against any american infiltration.
third, iran is the only shiite country surrounded by a majority of sunnis.
the talk about iran wanting to become a regional (super-)power is not new. yet, i argue, it gets more understandable when looking at the former size of the persian empire. like other former-great-powers it longs back to the days of supremacy. with iraq out of the way, there seems to be no more hindrance in sight.
while i agree that this argument is valid and i too assume that the rhetorical- and material power demonstration is part of the aspiration in the region (more than any global aspiration (at least for now)), i disagree on it being the central factor for the acquisition of a nuclear bomb for iran.
taking an “in dubio pro reo” position, i understand the aspiration for weapons of mass destruction as a reaction to prior happenings in the region: since 1979 iran has experienced an attack by iraq, which was sponsored financially and militarily by the us, the support of the taliban regime by the us against the soviet invasion in afghanistan – the same regime which was then the goal of the us-attack in 2001, and then the preventive war against saddam hussein’s never-actually-existing-weapons of mass destruction in 2003. taking into consideration that the iranian dictator, known as “the shah” (reza pahlavi), who held a bloodshed reign over the iranian people and who was therefor overthrown in 1979 by kohmeini, was also supported by the us (and gb), one can quite literally see, why the us might not be very popular with the iranian leadership.
when we look at the situation today, which is presented in the picture of this article, we can see the country surrounded by a dozen stars, each representing an us-military basis in the region.
now ask yourself, with the knowledge and experience you have gained over the past thirty years, what would you do in this situation?
now, if the us was the only problem of iran, the situation would actually be rather simple. since the muslim world in total is rich in capabilities and resources, one would think it quite easy to balance against any us-infiltration. sadly, the picture is not this black-and-white, again, for even if the west likes to believe it, there is no “one muslim world”.
what we call “muslim” is divided into arabs, turks, persians and kurds (and these are only the biggest groups!); even “islam” is divided into sunnis and shiites and while the majority in iran is shiite, the “muslim world” consists of 90% sunnis.
it is this double-stalemate situation that forces iran to uphold a hostile rhetoric against israel (to gain support from sunni-neighbors through the classic strategy of “my foe’s foe is my friend”) and constant maximum power-demonstrations against the west and its neighbors – and what demonstration could be more effective than testing a nuclear bomb?