West’s Confusion in Interaction with Iran
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Interview with Mohammad Farhad Koleini
Former Iranian Ambassador to Armenia & Expert on Strategic Issues
Borhan: The West has been constantly trying to cover its weaknesses and vulnerabilities by making recourse to such means as sanctions with the final goal of controlling Iran's nuclear program. At the same time, there is currently no doubt that resorting to such means is nothing more than a show and a tactic whose main result has been squandering of major opportunities by the West.
What we see today in the West’s conduct toward Iran is that Western countries are still suffering from serious weaknesses in their approach to and calculations about future developments. Such weaknesses will, in practice, put political conditions, developments and trends on the wrong track. In order to analyze Western countries’ positions on the issue of international sanctions against Iran, the following interview has been conducted with Mohammad Farhad Koleini, a senior expert on strategic issues.
Q: On what basis and in what way, do you think, the West’s behavioral model with regard to Iran sanctions can be analyzed?
A: A cursory review and comparison of the West’s behavior and interactions with Iran will reveal that the West is still unable to change its confrontational attitude toward Iran. Basically, they understand diplomacy and use it as a machination and ploy instead of focusing on the sublime concept of diplomacy in which all sides try to reach a solution through dialogue.
They impose sanctions, on the one hand, while reaffirming their commitment to dialogue with regard to Iran's nuclear program, on the other hand. As a result, it seems that the West is using negotiations just as a tactic in order to create some form of deterrence. In practice, this will cause the conduct of Europe and the United States to appear quite vulnerable during negotiations with Iran.
Of course, we do not expect the nuclear talks to be totally based on logic, but it is an art to be able to harmonize interests with logic and both sides of negotiations should pay attention to this point. At the same time, it seems that the West looks upon negotiations with Iran as a formality and is actually pursuing its goals concurrently through nuclear negotiations and intensification of sanctions.
This is a serious tactical mistake by the West which emanates from a certain form of low-grade pragmatism and will finally lead to a major strategic about-face. This will cause Iran's clout, as a major balancing power in the region, to grow and cover bigger and vaster areas of Asia.
In addition, taking such an approach to negotiations with Iran by the West will have its consequences which they easily ignore. If we meant to compare the West’s mistakes in its interactions with Iran with other instances, we could point to the West’s special definition of color revolutions during the rule of neoconservative elements in the United States and Europe.
In that period, the West was trying to export democracy and in doing that, to rearrange geopolitical puzzle of various regions in its own benefit. However, everybody later witnessed how conditions changed in each and every case of color revolutions. Increasing the speed of a series of artificial games in certain areas led to emergence of previously dormant social phenomena, but today, the whole Middle East is touched by the wave of the Islamic Awakening.
As a result, the West is not faced with some kind of geopolitical confusion. Comparison of color revolutions in the Central Asia and political developments in the Middle East within framework of the Islamic Awakening will show us how their strategic mistakes have cost them many of their traditional mechanisms.
A comparison between this case and Iran's nuclear issue will reveal that the full force with which the West is trying to put pressure on Iran can have various consequences one of which may be a strategic U-turn by Iran which may change many of the existing balances.
Part of the reason behind why such abnormalities have appeared in the West’s pragmatic approach, stems from their understanding of the future outlook of the region and their approach to diplomacy. Today, one may claim that there are two kinds of understanding of diplomacy in the West: a traditional understanding and a second understanding which sees diplomacy as a power tool to be used in an effort to make the most of conditions.
In the second understanding, diplomacy is not considered a mechanism and solution. Therefore, the Western countries go for a policy which is a combination of diplomacy and verifiable military threat or invisible blow. The change in their attitude toward credibility of international regulations also stems from this issue. From this standpoint, one may say that the West is now dealing with a kind of metamorphosis in concepts and this is the reason behind displaced use of those concepts.
The literature which has shaped in their minds is naturally transferred to their decision-making processes as well. Finally, transfer of wrong concepts from mind to action is the main reason why we are constantly witnessing new shocking developments with regard to geopolitical issues.
From this angle, the West is facing a special situation with regard to its approach to “real politics” puzzle. The West is trying to create opportunities in the areas where it has been already less active. For example, at a time that the West is grappling with its worst financial crisis ever, it is trying to use negotiations as a means of stabilizing energy prices. Such an approach in words and tactical deeds will in fact damage the West’s positions and international credit.
It is quite normal for the West to try to achieve its goals through a wealth-based approach, but now and because that wealth is at stake, it has to take new positions which will be more suitable for a transition period and the control of special issues which are of international sensitivity. At the same time, they ignore the fact that their negative effort, that is, intensification of sanctions against Iran, will influence any possible point of balance and undermine it.
The necessity of correcting the West’s behavior is not a matter of interest for the elite alone. I mean the current understanding of Atlantism and the framework of network diplomacy should be rapidly corrected by the Western powers because today, there is a serious distance between the public opinion and the elite in the West. As a result, those who are active in the areas of power, science and diplomacy, regulate their behavior merely within framework of their interests and in a one-sided manner.
As for sanctions against Iran, the dominance of a power-based approach among the Western elite will finally lead to the emergence of a new concept of Atlantic relations and unilateralism. The new form of unilateralism, which has been in vogue under Democrats in the White House, is very different from the concept of strategic stability as pursued by the Republicans and neocons.
What has faced the West with a serious crisis now is the issue of managing political affairs under an atmosphere of multilateralism. The United States is still defining global management and new multilateralism according to its own specific concepts.
As a result, this will invoke special reactions in international system and those reactions will necessarily come from Iran, but other international rivals will react to measures taken by the United States within framework of new global management system and multilateralism.
This is why the United States is putting so much emphasis on the issue and rule of leadership. All these indications prove that the issue of anti-Iran sanctions and continuation of fragile nuclear negotiations is one of the goals that the West pursues in its quest to control global management. The West is just trying to pursue futile negotiations with no clearly defined quality.
Therefore, the Western countries’ approach to sanctions as well as Iran’s nuclear issue should be considered as part of their overall view of the world and its future outlook. Due to such a negative attitude toward negotiations in the West, the Islamic Republic of Iran must be very careful and take rapid steps to increase its immunity to its untoward consequences while trying to come up with a correct critique of unilateral approach which is embedded in Atlantism and is manifested in anti-Iranian sanctions. In this way, Iran will be able to find a way to prevent promotion of this hegemonic literature by enlightening people while giving necessary warning to countries that are allied with its goals at international level.
Q: Is there any kind of theoretical and functional conflict among Western rivals in view of the existing crisis with regard to management of a unilateral approach?
A: What is currently happening is that most European countries are getting attuned with political positions which have been imposed on them by dominant European powers. As a result and in view of the current situation of interests inside the European Union, the current state of affairs is by no means the result of a strategic process, but the outcome of an imposed process which has been put in gear by dominant European powers that have imposed it on less powerful European countries.
If we looked at international issues regardless of Iran’s nuclear case, we would find out that a process of reconstruction of the world system on the basis of rivalries is in process. As a result, even Russia is redefining its diplomacy and quality of its presence in the world in addition to its sovereign rights and the right to interfere in international affairs in such a way as to prevent the West from repeating its past scenarios.
Therefore, we see that the types of reactions which are shown to sanctions are the result of the same perceptional process which is underway at the heart of global decision-making process. The West and its allies are trying to introduce their favorite concepts as the new authoritative law of the international system. Of course, there is serious opposition to this idea of unilateralism and direct or invisible enforcement of power which will have its own disadvantages, reactions and reflections.
This is why the analytical model used to explain international solidarity has been totally challenged. Some sensitive international issues such as Iran’s nuclear case and the issue of sanctions have led to a common understanding of the quality of future international order. This has, in turn, made countries demand stability and peace, on the one hand, which is opposed to large-scale goals pursued on traditional Western powers, on the other hand.
Therefore, one of the main questions is about the definition of interactions and the method of interaction, and the quality of first moves on both sides. At the same time, Western countries are still unable to move on the basis of a common policy. Most often, the quality of the main elements of negotiations makes them reveal minimum information on the subject matter. However, generally speaking, due to lack of a common understanding of Iran in the West, we see some sort of friction and fragility in the quality of the West’s interaction with Iran.
Q: how to you predict the future outlook of West’s positions on Iran in view of the diverse understanding of international issues among numerous international political players and decision-makers?
A: It is very important for both sides to increase their power of common understanding without making an effort to dominate the situation. Unfortunately, there has been a disruption in the relationship between senior strategic researchers on both sides and this issue has allowed mysterious currents to take advantage of this void of a common discourse between Iran and the West and try to fill the theoretical vacuum in the United States and Europe losing their special lobbies. This is a main cause of challenge among the Western countries. On the other hand, part of this issue is about scope of initiatives and ideation. It is about how the two sides can achieve a common initiative. As long as the current situation exists, there will be crisis in West’s interactions with Iran.
Key Words: West’s Interaction with Iran, Iran's Nuclear Program, International Sanctions, Confrontational Attitude, Islamic Awakening, Atlantism, Koleini
Source: Borhan News Site
Translated By: Iran Review.Org
More By Mohammad Farhad Koleini:
*Review of Washington–Tel Aviv Differences on Managing Schedule of Nuclear Talks with Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Review_of_Washington%E2%80%93Tel_Aviv_Differences_on_Managing_Schedule_of_Nuclear_Talks_with_Iran_2.htm
*Expert Meetings, the Sole Result of Moscow Talks: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Expert_Meetings_the_Sole_Result_of_Moscow_Talks_2.htm
*Iran's Nuclear Case: West's “Empty Spoon” Policy: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran_s_Nuclear_Case_West_s_%E2%80%9CEmpty_Spoon%E2%80%9D_Policy_2.htm