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Negotiations in the Process of Coercive Diplomacy

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ebrahim Mottaqi
Faulty Member of the University of Tehran
Associate Professor of Political Science; University of Tehran

Due to their very nature and regional role, revolutionary countries need overarching security. In these conditions, the model of their interactions with other political players will be of a cooperative nature. Meanwhile, the officials of the past regime and transnational forces involved in international politics, take a totally different approach when faced with revolutionary countries. The Constitutional Revolution in Iran was faced with the sharp reaction of the Tsarist government in Russia while the oil industry nationalization movement had no better fate than the military coup d’état which was staged on August 19, 1953.

The cooperative processes initiated by the Iranian officials following the Islamic Revolution were met with different policies and reactions at international level. Although Iran took advantage of “line-holding strategy” to stabilize the Islamic Revolution, the cooperative and resilient approach taken by Iran was met with conflicting reactions at regional and international levels.

Under these circumstances, clear signs of “dialectics of conflict” can be observed in the way that international players used to interact with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The actions of regional players and transregional forces led to such negative events as the attempted military coup at Nojeh Airbase, organizing the armed opposition [against Iran] in Turkey, destabilizing social environment in Iran by fostering conflicts of identity, and launching the Iraqi imposed war against Iran. Every one of those events can be considered as part of the aggressive actions of players which were well aware that the Islamic Revolution in Iran will finally send waves of revolutionary changes and developments throughout the world.

1. Negotiations under condition of the absence of strategic trust

To explain aggressive processes against the Islamic Revolution of Iran on the basis of the theories of international relations, we may resort to the approach known as “the rising spiral of international insecurity.” According to this theory, all efforts made by a revolutionary government to achieve security will cause an unsettling sense of insecurity in other states. Conservative states, which have put the policy of counteracting the revolutionary states on their agenda, usually foster the worst kind of assumptions and analyses about the true nature and actions of the revolutionary governments within the regional environment. Such perception will provide necessary grounds for collective measures to be taken against the revolutionary player. In these circumstances, the way would be also paved for the establishment of regional and international coalitions against the revolutionary state. Taking such collective measures will inevitably lead to the “rising spiral of insecurity and conflict.” The players within a coalition against the revolutionary state further exacerbate the security riddle by resorting to strategic inflexibility in order to achieve their goals.

“The concepts created” as a result of the above process are the main reasons behind a great number of conflicts which are created through the process of interactions among big powers, regional conservative players, and other agents involved in the proxy war against the revolutionary state. The same process has been exactly repeated with regard to Iran and reveals the real face of the actions taken by the effective players in international politics against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some researchers believe that in the past bipolar world system, Iran had taken advantage of the “structural rift” between the United States and the former Soviet Union in order to achieve its strategic goals. However, realities on the ground prove that [during Iraq’s imposed war against Iran] both big global powers as well as their security allies – within the framework of the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – provided Iraq with the highest degree of support in the face of Iran. Their overarching and unbridled support for Iraq partially changed the balance of regional power. For example, the military invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraq can be considered as reflecting “dialectics of the conflict” which was carried out by the main players in international politics in order to counteract political, regional and strategic processes initiated by Iran.

2. Application of dialectics of the conflict to the United States’ strategic policy against Iran

The tragic conflict against the Islamic Republic of Iran has had detrimental effects on the citizens as well as social groups in Iran. Many US policies against Iran and other revolutionary countries have also ended in similar and widespread social risks for the citizens of those countries. The conflicts between the British government and [the former Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad] Mosaddeq – during the oil nationalization movement – led to widespread economic sanctions against Iran. The military coup d’état which was staged against Mosaddeq's government on August 19, 1953, and was masterminded by Kermit Roosevelt [a political action officer of the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA)], Colonel Schwarzkopf, and Allen Dulles should be also considered a symbol of the expanding threats against citizens of revolutionary countries. The United States also applied the same model in 1973 and in its confrontation with the popular president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Tragic developments throughout the history clearly show that the coup d’état staged against Allende by General Augusto Pinochet took place on September 11, 1973. It was the very day that through the approach taken by the CIA agents, democracy became victim to security exigencies of the United States.

Such historical indications can be seen in many other geographical domains. Securitization in the political and international approach of the United States has frequently led to ignorance of the political and social realities of other countries. Such a state of affairs will further strengthen the “rising spiral of international insecurity” for all involved countries.

Other signs, which show that the social needs of the Iranian citizens are ignored by security policies of the United States, include mechanisms used by the US Department of Treasury for all-out cooperation with the FBI and other intelligence and security agencies of the United States within framework of economic sanctions against Iran. Such policies and mechanisms are other signs of the reproduction of the dialectics of the conflict against citizens who have been suffering from economic, strategic, technological and security restrictions which have been imposed on their country by the United States during the past 34 years. The effects of such restrictions and sanctions have been evident in the social and economic life of the Iranian citizens, and continuation of the West’s sanctions policy against Iran can be named as the main reason behind many economic woes in the Iranian society.

3. Pressure diplomacy and incremental threats in strategic policy of the United States

There are various reasons for the imposition of such sanctions. In reality, the United States strategic policy in the face of Iran has been constantly associated with signs of “pressure diplomacy” and “low-intensity and escalating threat.” Under these conditions, the Iranian government has every right not to put its trust into the cooperative literature used by such people as [the US Vice President] Joe Biden, [the proposed candidate for the US Department of Defense] Chuck Hagel, [the US President] Barack Obama, and [the new US Secretary of State] John Kerry.

Every international process, including “diplomatic negotiation” needs to be conducted under conditions which would be relatively equal for both sides. The notion which has persisted in the minds and perception of the leaders of the Islamic Republic is “what good will come out of negotiations for the Islamic Republic of Iran under conditions of pressure and threat diplomacy?”

Revolutionary leaders, like bureaucratic leaders, adopt a pragmatic approach. The revolutionary leaders show their distrust toward security and strategic policy of the big powers in a straightforward manner on the basis of historical experiences. Every political and security approach is reproduced through a historical process. Therefore, when faced with diplomatic ideas such as negotiations, revolutionary notions are reproduced through a historical process on the basis of the model used by big powers to direct their actions.

The political propositions and literature used by “the bureaucratic leaders,” like their revolutionary counterparts, focuses on gaining a minimum of political and economic results under conditions of “strategic reconciliation.” Although such leaders may use a different literature and set of concepts, the approach which is based on “communicative rationality” is also overshadowed by conditions which are characterized best by “security threat” and “economic sanctions.” Therefore, the American executive officials should be aware that if negotiations are meant to lead to a win-win game or strategic reconciliation, then they should give priority to cooperative actions throughout the negotiations.

The American leaders are talking about readiness to engage in diplomatic negotiations with Iran and allege that the doors are open to negotiations in order to solve existing problems between Iran and the United States at a time that they are also taking advantage of another option: escalation of pressures and threats against the Islamic Republic. Evident signs of such threats can be observed in relation to the common approach that is adopted by political institutions as well as executive officials of the United States. The political leaders of the United States talk about negotiations, but at the same time, impose a new form of economic sanctions against Iranian citizens. As a result of this policy, the latest instance of the United States economic sanctions against Iran was imposed on February 6, 2013!

4. The United States practical policy vis-à-vis Iran

Such sanctions constitute another part of the United States policy of imposing “strategic restrictions against the Iranian citizens.” An assessment of the political literature used by the American leaders and their practical policies will show that the United States uses the “the option of temptation” in its diplomatic approach to Iran. In general, it is noteworthy that when the “proclaimed policy” stands in basic contrast to “practical policy,” it would be natural for the Iranian society as well as the political leaders not to be able to have any trust in the diplomatic literature of the United States.

Any kind of negotiation should be focused on finding solutions to meet the social and economic needs of the Iranian society. A model based on escalating threat and increasing economic sanctions in parallel to using a pacifist literature – which is being currently developed and followed by the American executive institutions and officials – can be taken as a sign of the United States dual policy toward Iran. Such a process will prevent even a small carrot from being seen at close range. A model based on threat, containment, sanctions and encouragement, which would not lead to removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, cannot be desirable for the people and political decision-makers in Iran.

The approach which the United States has currently taken to Iran in its practical policy and in dealing with Tehran is the process of “threat, containment, threat, and encouragement.” Taking advantage of such a model clearly indicates that the US approach to Iran is not actually seeking a “solution to the problem.” This is why the issue of relations between Iran and the United States has become so complicated: while the United States executive officials talk about peace, negotiations, reconciliation and cooperation, their practical policy is focused on a number of mechanisms which increase and exacerbate the strategic problems with which the Iranian society is currently dealing.

Under these circumstances, the political leaders in Iran are more willing to analyze cooperative literature of the West as well as such propositions as negotiations and reconciliation within framework of historical processes. The history of the international relations clearly shows that any time that diplomatic and executive officials of countries like the United States and UK have resorted to the policy of escalating sanctions against a country, their final goal has been to topple that country’s government. Therefore, it is quite natural for any country, which sees itself faced with the policy of overt and covert threats from other international players, to resist. Of course, different models of resistance can be adopted and they can be expressed through various kinds of political literature.

5. Negotiations in the literature of revolutionary leaders vs. bureaucratic leaders

“Max Weber” wrote his book, The Scientist and the Politician, in 1919. In that book he tried to show that the logic and behavioral models used by scientists and politicians have similarities though each group takes advantage of a different kind of literature to give voice to its ideas and achieve its goals. Under present conditions, the analysts of international relations, who are inspired by “Max Weber,” can shed more light on the issue of the relationship between “revolutionary leaders and bureaucratic leaders.” Given these conditions, it can be alleged that both the academic analysts and bureaucratic executives of Iran see no benefit in the “threat for negotiation logic.”

Before focusing on pacifist or belligerent literature used by other countries, most states focus on the practical policies of other countries. The practical policy adopted by the United States government when dealing with Iran has been persistently characterized by the “escalation of threats” and this model has had a profound negative impact on the mentality of the Iranian executive officials. Sustainable peace and regional cooperation under conditions of distrust can be only conceivable through a mechanism which would provide necessary grounds for all players to seek realization of their national interests. Cooperation between various political players would be only possible under conditions in which they would be able to secure part of their goals and interests through diplomatic interaction with all other different political models.

The behavioral model of the United States, as perceived and understood by the Iranian society as well as analysts of international relations and foreign policy executives that belong to that society, is focused on escalating and incrementally increasing threats. Although maintaining permanent peace through such cooperative mechanisms as negotiation would be the best option for all political players, under conditions where there are no guarantees about negotiations reaching a conclusive result which would benefit both parties’ interests, they would prefer to resort to the model of denial and resistance. History has shown that even many aggressive wars in which such major players as the United States have been engaged, were a result of taking incorrect and untimely cautionary measures in order to safeguard past achievements.

6. Protecting Iranian identity vis-à-vis escalating threats

The Americans never imagined that their heightened engagement in political developments in various regional environments, would lead to actual growth of the anti-US resistance movement. Under present conditions, Iran is considered the heart of the resistance movement in a wide geographical areas which covers from Southwest Asia to east of the Mediterranean and North Africa. Therefore, any strategic actions by the United States should be aimed at granting Iran a minimum degree of its political and international rights. [Iran is] a country with an independent identity in the regional environment and, naturally, the country does its best to pursue the ideas of resistance and interests in its diplomatic process. This goal could be only achieved if a minimum level of political respect for Iran's political system and citizens is shown through the process of strategic interaction.

A recent opinion poll conducted by the Gallup Organization whose results were published on February 9, 2013, showed that the Iranian society at large is still skeptic toward the policies of the United States. Unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States have caused economic problems in Iran to deteriorate, facing Iranian citizens with many difficulties and prompting them to believe that the United States is the main factor behind further expansion and continuation of their economic problems. The results of the Gallup poll revealed that 47 percent of the Iranian citizens consider the United States’ policy of imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran as the main cause of their economic problems. Even 63 percent of the citizens supported continuation of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

The poll also proved that the United States has not only been unable to control and contain the strategic problems it has with the government of Iran through its policy of continued and escalating sanctions, but has also fostered grounds for the confrontation with Washington inside the country. The Gallup poll also proves that the Iranian society considers economic and strategic policies of the United States as the main factor to be blamed for most social and livelihood problems that its citizens are currently grappling with.

Key Words: Negotiations, Iran, US, Coercive Diplomacy, Strategic Trust, Dialectics Conflict, Pressure Diplomacy, Revolutionary Leaders, Mottaqi

Source: The Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Ayatollah Khamenei
http://farsi.khamenei.ir
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Ebrahim Mottaqi:

*West’s Policy of Delay in Nuclear Talks with Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/West-s-Policy-of-Delay-in-Nuclear-Talks-with-Iran.htm

*Constructive Cooperation or Playing with Iran’s Geopolitical Trump?: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Constructive_Cooperation_or_Playing_with_Iran%E2%80%99s_Geopolitical_Trump_.htm

*The Cold War between Iran and Saudi Arabia: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/The_Cold_War_between_Iran_and_Saudi_Arabia.htm

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