Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fear of the Unknown -- Iran

Reading through the myraid negative media coverage of Iran, one wonders what specific details of Iranian Domestic and Foreign Policy lead those of us in the West to label the progenitors of the once mighty Persian Empire in strongly negative terms, such as evil, terrorists, rogue elements hell-bent on the destruction of our very notions of freedom and justice.
The truth of the matter, as is often the case, is far too complex for simple analysis, but through some objective thinking, leaving empty rhetoric behind, and emotional fallacies at bay, it's quite possible to digest the true nature of the fear that drives the Western World rabid with paranoia at this nation of 68 Million.

To most of us in the West, Iran is a mysterious force we cannot even attempt to understand, let alone predict in terms of political or military actions. As I've stated before, one cannot attempt to dissect the culture, politics, or military infrastructure, if one cannot understand the underlying psyche of a given group of people (in this case, Iranians). Iran does not have a secular government, separating religion from the State. However, Islam is not the sole singular quality that is shared by Iranians, because they've had thousands of years of history before Islam ever reached the borders of the Persian Empire. Preceding Islam, there was Zoroastrianism, and before that, there was an Indo-Persian Pagan element in the religion. As in most groups, Islam (for Iran, in the Shi'a form) is the current unifying trend among the Iranian Masses. This fact alone, not only isolates Iran from the Western World, but also from the Sunni Muslim majority, especially in the neighboring countries and general regions.
Because of this isolation, the internal political movements are unlike those of any other country. Iran in general is an experiment in the making. Can a non-secular Islamic country, compete with the West, as well as the rest of the Muslim world, with a system unlike any other? Not only in the political sphere, but also economically and socially. Can Iran Modernize without cultural or political help from the West? Thus, this is the inherent fear that strikes the general world politics. A fear, that a possible Success in Iran can lead to a Domino effect among other non-secular entities.
When the 13 British colonies of North America decided to break away from the British Yolk, and establish a political system that was unlike any other operating at the time, there was also a great deal of fear in Europe. Subsequently, the French had a revolution of their own, throwing off the Tyrrany of Monarchy, and having the populace determine its own future. This was an experiment that was unprecedented in its time, and as it turned out, became quite successful. In fact, it was so successful, that the experiment itself became a victim of it's own success. We now have a government that is not representative of the People, and an administration that does not differentiate between the Church and the State. Thus, as Americans, we would be hypocritical to judge non-secular entities, when our own back yard is not exacly free of religious domination and thought.
What helped the United States during its infancy was the natural resources and economics that made it a veritable economic cornucopia to colonize in the first place. Thus, we now have Iran, also abundant in resources, attempting to break away from the mould, and establich a system on their own terms. Not on terms based upon the bullying tactics of those in the West, or for that matter, any other regional system.

Currently, Iran is attempting to enrich Uranium to fuel their nuclear power plants, and usher in a new age. It's understandable for the West to view Iran's motives with skepticism, and distrust, but one should also pause and think logically. In order for Iran to accumulate enough weapons grade Uranium (not reactor grade, mind you), there must be many inherently difficult technological steps that must be overcome, before the possibility can even exist. As a conservative estimate, Iran would be at least 10 years away from accumulating enough weapons' grade Uranium to be a threat. This possibility is not to be discounted, but should be seen in the same light as other nuclear nations. India and Pakistan are no less stable places for Nuclear weapons, let alone Israel, with the 200 or so nuclear warheads in possession. As much as the Media likes to vilify Iran as a rogue state, its status is dependent on how the West contends with Iran in a fair and diplomatic manner. If the same draconian tacts towards Iraq are also used in Iran (pre-emptive strikes, misleading weapons of mass destruction information, or ties to Al Qaida), the fear that a rogue state will emerge would be actualized. Iran is in the process of competing with the west in several spheres that have been ignored. Stem cell research, for example, is one of the many technological achievements that Iran has attained. Iran is also hoping to become a technological hub in the Middle East. There are thousands of software designers working closely with IT companies to fully modernize the telecommunications grid, and infrastructure.
Moreover, one must realize the copious resources; such as oil, natural gas, and mineral wealth so needed in the current world, present in Iran. Russia and China, especially, are hoping to capitalize and cooperate in the energy sector with Iran. Thus, Iran can develop the power to set oil and natural gas prices as they see fit, just as in the case of Venezuela.

What actually runs the world is Economics, and Iran is attempting to build an infrastructure that can compete at the same level as western countries in the Global Market. The major difference is that Iran is attempting to do this, with a non-secular political system. For Iran to have the capacity to compete, Nulcear Power is one of the many technologies that must be embraced. The West of course, will attempt to prevent Iran, through economic sanctions, if not all out war (I wouldn't put Israel and the US gov't above taunting and rhetoric to start a war) from ascending into the elite, and becoming a major contender.

In conclusion, this essay is not meant to support or oppose Iran. It's an unbiased, objective analysis of the facts at hand, and attempts to uncover the underlying details so often overlooked in world politics. Granted, it's presented less well organized then it should be (and many details can be further elaborated upon, which I may do on later entries), but considering the many tangents that can take one easily off topic, this is about as succinct as it gets.

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