Swords into Plowshares

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Student in International Relations

Active ImageIntervention by transregional forces in security and political developments of the Middle East has been a constant feature of this strategic region since the World War II.

At the end of the World War II, especially following the establishment of the United Nations, many Middle Eastern nations hoped to experience justice in interaction with the new international system. That dream, however, never came true and the situation has even worsened as a result of the existing conflicts between most regional countries and the international power system which has been in force during past decades.

In better words, following termination of the World War II, international system’s determination to ensure global stability has been at odds with democratization and institution-building drive in the Middle East. As a result of that trend, the region has been the scene of bloody wars and serious challenges.

At the beginning of the Third Millennium, major players of international system are trying by trading death to once more sacrifice security and welfare in this region at the altar of strategic stability of the international system.

Based on a report published by the US Audit Court, Washington has sold a total of 37 billion dollars worth of arms to countries situated on the southern rim of the Persian Gulf (including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait) from 2005 to 2009. Conclusion of a recent contract for selling 60 billion dollars of weapons by the United States to Saudi Arabia in late 2010 and further negotiations for the conclusion of a 30-billion-dollar deal to invigorate Saudi Navy and beef up military abilities of Israel are other examples of death trade in the Middle East at the beginning of the Third Millennium. Although they claim that such deals only mean to fight terrorism and bolster defense capabilities of involved countries, the main goal seems to be buying credit for their rulers and further besieging Iran by its neighboring states.

Will the west bring strategic stability to international system or welfare and security to the region by such measures?

A review of the past history and grave developments of international system and the Middle East in the past decades will reveal that such measures have never been able to resolve problems in the Middle East and have, on the contrary, provided breeding grounds for increased insecurity in the region.

Active ImageExcessive arms sales by the former Iraqi regime combined with ambitious goals pursued by that country’s leadership in 1980s led to adventurism and eight years of full-fledged war between Iran and Iraq (1980-88), which has been known as the most important war of attrition after the World War II. Occupation of Kuwait in early 1990s is another example in point which proves how political leaders like Saddam Hussein relied on their rich arsenals to sow insecurity at regional and international levels. At present, increased international support for Israel by providing Tel Aviv with modern F35 fighter planes has fostered a sense of insecurity in most Arab and non-Arab countries of the Middle East. This will clear the way for a vicious circle of feeling insecure and purchasing more arms in the Middle East, thus obliterating hopes of institution-building and promotion of democracy.

Historical evidence and power equations in the region prove that death trade, or transnational interventions will be never able to bring security and welfare to the Middle East, but will ultimately leave their mark on the international system and push it toward strategic instability.

Due to strategic needs of the international system to peace and security at the beginning of the Third Millennium, it seems that big powers will be able to change the paradigm they have used to deal with security dilemmas in the Middle East. Historical experiences as well as the power structure in the Middle East show that militarization of this strategic region will have grave consequences for strategic stability of the international system. If the ongoing trends continued, increased insecurity in the Middle East would be more probable than security.

Historical experiences will teach international decision-makers that swords should be swapped for plowshares at the beginning of the Third Millennium in order to find more plausible regional configurations and solutions.

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