When the global dialogue about an ostensible power shift to Asia from the West was heating up, no one was imagining that Japan would be reassessing its historical ties with the United States. The Yoshida Doctrine â€“ named after Japan’s post-World War II Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida â€“ was expected to be the cornerstone of that country’s foreign policy. Toward the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, a new Hatoyama Doctrine â€“ named after its current Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama â€“ seems to be emerging, while Japan might be bidding sayonara to the Yoshida doctrine. (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a713704248&db=all)
The Iranian protest as a social movement
The mounting protest against the Islamic Republic in Iran is in the process of becoming a social movement. Sidney Tarrow, a specialist on the subject, defines a social movement as collective challenges (to elites and authorities) by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interactions with elites, opponents, and authorities. He specifically distinguishes social movements from political parties and interest groups; and that is an important distinction. Social movements in the context of this essay are not known for bringing about incremental political changes in the existing political system. More often than not, they result in radical changes leading to regime change. If the Iranian government is facing a rising tide of social movement, then that can be the best news for the United States, which has always despised the Islamic Republic for humiliating it through the “Iranian hostage crisis” in 1979. The ties between these two countries have remained tense since then. Iran, under the Ayatollahs, has consistently and virulently opposed the U.S. hegemony of its region. It has viewed that strategic affair as threatening to its stability and, indeed, to its very survival. The most recent cause of conflict between the two antagonistic countries is Iran’s nuclear research program. A regime change brought about through a social movement might also be the best news for Israel, who wishes to maintain its own nuclear monopoly, which has remained an ignored reality. However, that reality has created an ostensibly permanent military asymmetry between the states of that region and Israel. The Arab states have remained silently resentful of it. Iran, on the contrary, has decided to challenge it by staring its own nuclear research program.
The United States went through a near-miss terrorist attack during the Christmas holidays. A Muslim, this time a Nigerian Muslim, was involved. Consequently, the country is going through another silly season whereby a number of “experts” with diarrhea of the mouth are eagerly expressing their idiotic views. At the government level, there is an outcry for finding who (which bureaucrat or which bureaucracy) was sleeping on the job, or who failed to “connect the dots.” The process of condemning Muslims is on with a vengeance. One suggestion is that the United States should abandon the attitude of political correctness and racially profile every Muslim traveler. After all, they say, Israel is doing that as a matter of course. However, no one stopped to think that Israel is an island, a small and insignificant nation, compared to the lone superpower, which claims not to be at war with Islam and Muslims. Sarah Palin, who desperately tries to sound intelligent and coherent in order to peddle her book, made the news by stating that profiling Muslims is quite appropriate.
Published in Foreign Policy in Focus (30 Dec 09) – Click on link to read entire article
The real test of President Barack Obama’s dealing with China and Russia will be whether he can persuade them to support U.S. pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons aspirations. Obama is reported to have lobbied China on that issue during his recent visit. He also broached the topic with Russia in the recent past for the same purpose, but with little success. Iran denies wanting to join the nuclear club, but Washington has no faith in those denials.