Confused US Foreign Policy, Being Undecided and New Vision a Must

Monday, August 26, 2013

Abdolreza Ghofrani

During my years in Iran Air in 1970s and before joining diplomatic service in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Jamaican –American ... colored engineer working for the Carrier, did always intensely criticize American foreign policy, alleging that this policy accounted mainly for all domestic and international dilemmas of the U.S. At the time, U.S. was exceedingly involved in Vietnam devastating war, a useless battle that was conducive only to taking tolls of hundred of thousands of lives and dealing severe blow to the global as well as American economy. Now, after three decades that this bloody and ill-fated conflict has ended, many historians, politicians, and scholars, either Americans or others, are still asking what all this war was for? Was it worth of taking toll of hundred thousands of lives and billion dollars of loss? It was just because certain influential lobbies’ misperceptions and miscalculations based on their lack of knowledge and realism that led to this catastrophic conflict being unprecedented in modern history.

Now this question is needed to be asked as if certain American circles have learned from the war of Vietnam that is now merely a part of history? If so, why on earth they committed a big blunder again in Iraq? Americans in 1970s did bring nearly one- third of their Army, air and maritime power into the battle fields in Vietnam. They, however, had to leave disgracefully this war- torn and poor country without serving their illusory goals .This also proved that bullying and military force could not work anymore .Vietnam, and two decades later, Iraq debacle sound two great lessons that those circles must have learned from the history. This old saying that “the history repeats itself and those who forget it are bound to relapse it through their lifetime “is quite relevant as far as the American policy is concerned.

Now is the time of dialogue and win-win policy regardless of the power of either party in any venture. Vietnam fiasco must have proved to Americans that a little nation like Vietnam, having inviolable aspirations could not be kneeled by intimidation and military power. Those days are over. They should not be repeated; otherwise this time around the consequences would be much more calamitous.

It is however a source of pleasure and optimism that there are logic and pragmatist groups in the United States as well as Western countries ,which has no intention ,whatsoever, to repeat  the history .Nobody has any doubt  that the  now disparaging economic  circumstances of the U.S is nothing but, to a large portion,  the  consequences of the ill fated and miscalculated foreign policy this country has taken for the last decade or so. It sounds that the Jamaica -American engineer was pretty right for holding U.S. foreign policy responsible for this country problems.

As for Iran, nowadays, the United States is again making mistake. Over the past twenty years, unfortunately Washington has repeated the error it has so done in other parts of the world. This time around, U.S. has been  in conflict with Iran not  militarily ( although time and again top statesman  and military officials, over the past decade has bluntly  said that they ‘d have military option for Iran on the table )  but by imposing  unfair sanctions on Iran and ,worse  ,forcing other countries to follow suit .

As new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has properly put it,” American foreign policy is unfortunately confused at least as for Iran. Just last month shortly after Dr. Rouhani’s overwhelming  victory in presidential elections ‘the White House expressed happiness and hope of new  horizons  for negotiations and new achievements,  but only a few days  after, the US Congress regrettably passed a bill for tightening sanctions on Iran. This time around United States has declared a new economic embargo against the people of Iran, and some circles in that country are pressing for paralyzing Iran economy by targeting complete stopping of oil exports. Although , the adverse effects and uselessness  of tightening sanctions has been reiterated  time and again by many scholars, veteran politicians and all walks of life in United States ,it is irony those circles are still insisting on  this  pointless economic. They, purportedly, intend to exert more and more pressure on Iran in order to require the latter to stop her enrichment of peaceful nuclear energy.  In his inauguration speech and two days later during the first press conference as president, Dr. Rouhani said: “they (American Administration) suppose tightening sanctions would merely pressure Iranian Administration whereas, whereas the people of Iran suffer more because of these unfair pressures.” We need to take look at one of the consequences of these unfair sanctions, that is, the sanction of medicines and drugs that thousand of Iranians, suffering from severe illness, need. Having this in mind, thus Iranians’ feeling to Americans is anybody’s guess in these circumstances. This will have no effect but building up non confidence in the people of Iran more and eventually hatred and probably enmity. Let us not forget that hatred begets hatred.

Just a few years back an active female diplomat had been appointed as US under Secretary of State for Public Relations. The main and foremost duty of this post, as this official declared, was to excel the good sentiments of peoples of the world toward Americans as well as US Government. I wonder if this post does still exist. The American Administration(s) has spent millions of dollars to illustrate a good impression of Americans   to the people of the world. Have they actually served that objective? I have my own serious doubts and think millions of people all around the world share with me.

Why is it? Can American do anything about this? How far can they go? Now here is an important point that US Government and the American people need to notice. Sooner or later even if Iran-US Iran relations may return to normalcy, The Americans should not expect other nations and Iranian people, in particular, forget the past, and overlook the plights they have caused and trust them. So the high edifice of non -confidence will naturally remain and may take years and even decades to fade away.

Now, the ball is in US and her Allies’ court. The new President, Dr. Rouhani did take office last week .He is a moderate and a statesman of logic and pragmatism. Through the last three decades he has served in many high and sensitive positions and headed many complicated negotiations and fortunately has been mostly successful. Thus he is pretty aware of the global circumstances and he knows well of international developments. At present, taking stock of his invaluable and all-encompassing experiences, he will not spare any efforts to advance peace and security not in the region but will endeavor to cooperate with the world   community for the amity and security. He has nominated a highly powerful technocrat cabinet. Dr. Javad Zarif, new foreign minister, is a well known figure in international forums and circles. Nobody has forgotten his good offices during the talks for forming the government in Afghanistan more than a decade ago. All this indicates Iran’s good will. This country has proved that, it has no expansionist ambitions and wishes for prosperity of other nations and particularly countries in the region and mostly her neighbors. It is quite obvious that Iran expects good will and transparency in return.  

It is obvious that American Government needs to put its home in order first and not being influenced by the circles affiliated to certain lobbies. Second, they need to be more and more transparent in their policies. Because only this, will probably buy them trust and respect of other nations. Third,   notwithstanding their power and wealth, they need to appreciate that the days of bullying and zero sum game are over. They‘d better think again and reflect on win-win in their relations with others even if they are far weaker. The Americans and their allies, particularly Europeans should appreciate that a powerful Iran in the region is not a threat but it is precious opportunity that helps to face any threat that may endanger the security of the region. President Rouhani put it nicely in his inauguration speech that: “Talk to Iranian people with the word of dignity and respect not sanctions.” So this is a good opportunity for the West to seize the opportunity and as Foreign Minister Zarif said in his first press conference “it is now Washington turn.” They should know that there is an Iranian axiom, saying that “lucks knock the door only once.” So it is for them do what they have to do if they really means business.

*Abdolreza Ghofrani is a retired career diplomat and Senior International and Economic Expert.

Source: Kherad

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.

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