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Pax Iranica and Global Strategy

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Student in International Relations

Active ImageThe aftermath of 9/11 terror attacks has clearly proved the critical need for peace and solidarity in the modern world. A wide spectrum of international efforts have been launched to promote the spirit of peace and solidarity by making use of everything from warmongering attempts to extensive international lobbies and consultations. However, the main goal has been to fight the effects, not causes of 9/11 attacks.

In reality, although the traditional bipolar system actually died in early 1990s, especially following September 11, 2001; the system has made a comeback in a totally new form in which pacifist and belligerent parties make up the two main poles.

Grouping such countries as EU, US, Turkey, and even Israel as peace-seeking states as opposed to countries like Iran which are depicted as warmongers is rooted in that reality.

This is also the main source of efforts which aim to present Iran as a global issue posing challenges to the new international world system. However, despite various realities surrounding Iran’s role in international system, the international community has not been able to answer a simple question: why Pax Iranica is totally out of the question while Pax Americana or Pax Ottomana are now part of the official international political jargon?

Pax Iranica will be more conformant to historical realities as well as international strategic needs than other designations which stem from the “race for Iran.” Emphasis on Persian-style peace and its various aspects in academic, intellectual, decision-making and policymaking circles has been largely lacking in the past three decades.

Nobody can deny the stark contrast in which Iran now stands to international community, but it is necessary for even a small number of international players to get past the dark clouds of disagreement between Iran and the existing international system and pay more attention to the realities on the ground.

Iran’s pacifist roots have been largely ignored in most international debates. Let’s not forget that Iran has not invaded any country for, at least, two centuries, but has been frequently maltreated by global powers that have ignored its right to self-determination and invaded its territorial integrity in defiance of the Iranian nation’s national pride.

The international system has grossly ignored many rights of this nation-state in the past 30 years in favor of the so-called international strategic stability. The Iranian people and elites, however, have demonstrated admirable self-restraint and have even taken serious steps toward reconciliation with major international players. However, the path to international interactions has been actually blocked for Iran as a result of structural limitations of the new international system and strategic considerations which are of high import both to Iran and to international and transregional powers.

Assuming that Pax Iranica is a very important, though unrealized, international reality which deserves more attention, Iran should be looked upon from a totally different angle.

If this is realized by the international system, its reaction to Pax Iranica will be different from traditional strategies that it has taken in the past 30 years such as containment, carrot and stick, confrontation, and appeasement. In that case, new strategies can be formulated within framework of such new concepts as maximal partnership.

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