Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement

A lot of ink is being spilled analyzing the pros and cons of the recently concluded US-Iran nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+ 1 countries (4 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), and there is ample show of emotions about this deal involving different actors. The Arab states are upset because they concluded that its successful implementation would lead to an era of US-Iran rapprochement in which Iran, more than the Arab states, would be the focus of America’s attention. The Israelis are mad because they see the emergence of a nuclear Iran in the distant future as a result of it. More to the point, Israel’s Prime Minister , Benyamin Netanyahu, envisions that deal as the first historical step toward bringing about an end to Israel’s own preeminence, related to its nuclear deterrence in the region. A study prepared for the RAND Corporation addresses precisely that point when it notes, “Nuclear weapons would probably reinforce Iran’s traditional national security objectives, including deterring a U.S. or Israeli military attack.” The American side—mainly the Obama officials and pro-nuclear-deal Democrats in the US Congress—is hoping that it has succeeded, at least in postponing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons aspirations into the distant future. The American neocons and the Republican legislators, on the contrary, think that Iran has fleeced the Obama administration into lifting the economic sanctions without giving up anything of substance. Continue reading “Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement”

So Long, 2013; Welcome 2014…I Think!

Happy new year to all my global friends and contacts!

2013 has been an okay year for the United States, in terms of its foreign policy in the Middle East and in the Asia-Pacific.  Continue reading “So Long, 2013; Welcome 2014…I Think!”

The US-Iran Interim Nuclear Agreement: Auspicious But Potentially Fragile

The US-Iran nuclear deal of November 23, 2013, putting a temporary freeze on Iran’s nuclear program, is likely to turn out to be the beginning of an historic development.  The most celebrated aspect of this agreement is that the top diplomats on both sides are now engaging in a highly intricate dialogue, instead talking at each other through the media. Continue reading “The US-Iran Interim Nuclear Agreement: Auspicious But Potentially Fragile”

The Synonymity Between Dispensability and Decline

In his second inaugural address in January 1997, President Bill Clinton stated, “America stands alone as the world’s indispensable nation.”[1]  Since then, that phrase has been used on a regular basis.  America, as an indispensable nation, underscores its dominance in resolving conflicts of all portions since the end of World War II.    It has been a major enabler of global economic stability and prosperity of Western Europe and Japan, and, most important of all, it contained the former Soviet Union–playing a crucial role in bringing about its eventual implosion.  Continue reading “The Synonymity Between Dispensability and Decline”

The Evolving Pretext to the Next War

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was the outcome of the then rising militarism of the administration of George W. Bush.  Some would argue that it might also have been a natural reaction to the fact that American territory was attacked on September 11, 2001.  But the invasion of Iraq itself had a spurious pretext: to deprive Saddam Hussein of his non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  The exploitation of the U.S. intelligence community to support the claims by the Bush White House has permanently damaged the credibility of the American intelligence community worldwide.  Other “rationales” for waging a war is always an option. The next major war, or at least military action, involving the United States seems to be Iran, the last “rejectionist state” of the Cold War years.  What might be different about the next war is that the states of the Persian Gulf are likely to be playing a major supportive role, if not militarily, then certainly by providing political and financial support for that war. Continue reading “The Evolving Pretext to the Next War”

The Emerging Global Realignments

For the students of international affairs, the notion of power realignment is an old one.[1]  When it really happens, the erstwhile great powers, or even the superpowers, are likely to encounter pleasant or unpleasant surprises.  The year 1991 was one such occasion, when the communist superpower imploded, thereby freeing a number of nations of Eastern/Central Europe and Eurasia, triggering a series of rounds of NATO “enlargement,” and, most importantly, creating a “unipolar moment.”  The United States remained the only superpower.  The period between 2008 and 2011 is both unique and somewhat similar to that of 1991.  It is similar in the sense that it is also bringing about the decline of the United States.  It is unique in the sense that, unlike the rather quick implosion of the Soviet Union, America’s decline is a long and drawn out process and potentially reversible. Continue reading “The Emerging Global Realignments”

The Aging Revolutionaries Must Make Room for the New Ones

Every revolution brings to the global limelight new ideas, and a new corps of leaders, who, by becoming successful in carrying out that revolution, prove to the world that the ideas and the regimes that they replaced were anachronistic and irrelevant.  The Arab awakening is one such revolutionary movement.  It is focused on ousting the aging (and not so aging) dictators and establishing democracy.  In the process, it is proving, among other things, that Hezbollah of Lebanon – a revolutionary movement of the 1980s – has become anachronistic.

Continue reading “The Aging Revolutionaries Must Make Room for the New Ones”

The Arab Awakening and the Forces of Reaction

David Gardner, in a thoughtful column in the Financial Times, writes that under old Arab order “despotism and Islamism fed on each other.” Going through the mental tapes covering the confrontation between Islamism and despotism in a “fast overview” mode, that observation is an extremely valid one.  At the same time, when one observes that even in places where the Arab awakening has toppled two dictators–Zein el-Abideen Bin Ali and Hosni Mubarak–the status quo forces are still hovering around looking for ways to bring back the old order perhaps under new wrappers.  If they were to succeed, that will be the greatest tragedy that struck the Arab world in modern times. Continue reading “The Arab Awakening and the Forces of Reaction”

The New Arab Cold War: Monarchies Versus the Arab Awakening

The old Arab Cold War was fought in the 1960s between the republican states who wanted to transform the Arab world through the use of pan-Arabism and the monarchies, which were opposed to that phenomenon. The latter envisioned the former as the “enemies,” since the pan-Arabists were focused on overthrowing the monarchies. The leader of the republican camp was Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser. The leader of the monarchical camp was Saudi Arabia. The two camps fought a civil war in Yemen in the early 1960s. The bloody political change of Iraq in 1958, which permanently transformed Iraq from a monarchy into a republic, proved that the fear of the Arab monarchies regarding the republican states was not unfounded. Now, a new Arab Cold War is being fought once again under the Saudi leadership for the preservation of the monarchies. The “enemy” this time is the Arab Awakening, which threatens to sweep aside all autocratic regimes. Two Arab dictators – Zein el-Abideen Bin Ali and Hosni Mubarak – have been ousted by this social force, and Muammar Qaddafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Bishara Assad are awaiting their turn.

Continue reading “The New Arab Cold War: Monarchies Versus the Arab Awakening”

Watching the Butchery of Dictatorships from a Distance

I never had the misfortune of living in a dictatorship.  So, the misery related to human existence in a dictatorship is only a second hand account for me.  However, in the days of the Internet and YouTube, I, along with millions of news watchers, am mesmerized over the personal bravery of anti-dictatorship groups of Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain and before that of Tunisia and Egypt, as if we are part of the picture.  My overriding sentiment is a mixture of considerable awe and admiration.  At the same time, watching the goons and thugs of Bishara Assad and Muammar Qaddafi gunning down their own civilian masses cavalierly also reminds me of the mythical hydra eating parts of its own body to survive.  The underlying message is that the hydra does not know that by doing so it is bringing about its own demise. Continue reading “Watching the Butchery of Dictatorships from a Distance”