the Islamic Ally?
Exploring the Possibilities
of Iran’s Role in the Grand Alliance
The United States
is shrinking.?We no longer exert such
powerful influence over the international system.?Our allies are disappearing into the shadows.
Our enemy is growing larger and stronger: China. We cannot let this happen.??/span>
A Grand Alliance
The United States
must advocate for a “Grand Alliance?between the strongest democratic centers
in the world, against China.
With a coalition of the United States,
the European Union, and the most important Asian democracies (possibly Russia, India,
and Japan), we can work
towards preventing China’s
ascent to the top of the international order.
Notice that the Islamic world is not included in the Grand
Alliance.?Why would such a large nation
(the exact number of Muslims throughout the world is unknown; it has been
estimated to be between 1.3 billion and 1.8 billion, depending on the source) be
excluded from this global effort to halt China’s rapid growth? The architect
of the “Grand Alliance?does not include the Islamic world because it is not
prone to democracy.?However, I believe
that the Islamic states, mainly Iran-
despite the current hostile relationship- could be a very important asset for
the United States
in the future.?In this essay, I will
explore this possibility, discuss potential obstacles, and propose some methods
to facilitate this alliance.?One thing
is certain, if the United States
does not get hold of Iran, China
A Short Period of Friendship
?During the Shah’s rule, from 1941 to 1979, America had close ties with Iran.?Western influence in Iran was at its
height under the Shah’s regime.?He
implemented many policies which promoted Western ideologies, which sharply
contrasted with the views of the Islamic authorities.?For example, he passed a law that forbade
women from wearing the veil, an important religious practice; drinking,
gambling, and other such improprieties were common.?Extremely religious people throughout the
country believed that Iran
was being corrupted by the West.?Thus,
the Iranian people grew a deep hatred for America and disdain for the Shah’s
regime; he lost much support from his people.
?During his rule, the Shah succeeded
in modernizing the nation, much of it based on the Western model.?With his recognition of Israel, the Shah lost support with the clergy of
Iran.?However, many of his practices were not in
accordance with American values; he persecuted thousands of political
dissidents- all those who spoke out against his regime.?His regime was corrupt, and he accumulated
great wealth while much of the country was struggling with poverty.?
?Eventually the riots and civil
unrest resulted in the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and with this came the rise
of the Islamic Republic of Iran- a theocracy with deep feelings of mistrust and
hatred for all Westerners.?This was the
end of hospitality between Iran
and the United States.
A Clash of Civilizations
Hostile relations have persisted between Iran
and the United States
since the fall of the Shah’s regime. ?/span>With
the continued presence of Islamic Fundamentalists at the head of the
government, the United
States has found it increasingly difficult
to reach any kind of peace with this state.?
The two have clashed over many issues over the decades; presently,
nuclear proliferation, Arab- Israeli peace, Iraq, energy security, and
terrorism are the major concerns.?What
makes matters worse is that the Iranian leaders, themselves, are split about
some issues; there is internal fragmentation.?
This leads to further conflict.?
Us versus Them
?For the most part, the United States has adopted a policy of
isolationism to contain Iran.?This tactic only portrays our nation as “dismissive
and arrogant?(Crocker).?In addition, we
have coerced other nations to assist us with this approach.?For example, the United
States has funded Arab allies with money and weapons to
activities.?This not only makes the
region more unstable but also feeds the security dilemma; if Arab nations are
building their defenses, Iran
will increase its protection.
?In addition, this approach is not
the most pragmatic because Iran’s
military force is not a threat as much as it’s use of “soft power?and militias
throughout the region to delegitimize the “hard power?of the United States
and Arab nations.?The use of military
action against Iran
would also worsen the situation.?
The correct course of diplomacy is active engagement.?This, however, is difficult to achieve.?There are many obstacles to overcome:
political, social, and economic.?We must
find a starting point for diplomacy; wealth is always a good place to
Oil and Politics
?/span>Iran is well aware of the role that
oil plays in politics.?“Energy is one of
the driving forces behind diplomatic relations?(Pelanda).?In Iran, oil production has decreased
due to the lack of investment in energy infrastructure projects.?Thus, the increase in consumption and the decrease
in output will eventually deplete all of Iran’s
oil resources; this will severely affect Iran and the global market.?Iran
will either decide to cut gasoline subsidies or alter its policies to attract
foreign investment, in which case, China
will come to Iran’s
is the number one oil and gas importer from Iran.?Its oil consumption grows by 7.5% per year,
which is seven times faster than the United States?rate of consumption.
Russia, too, who is actively
working towards building its new empire, has great interest in Iranian oil, as
well as Japan and Europe.?Iran believes that global interest in its oil
resources will prevent the United States
from acting against Iran
in any way that would be a threat to the other nations?prosperity. ?/span>This confirms that the United States
is losing its influence in the international system.?We must push for Iran’s
reintegration into the global economy and improve our ties with Iran.?This will give room for political reform and
put down the influence of hardliners who thrive in isolation.
The current Iranian regime will be difficult to collaborate with,
but it must be done.?Iran’s regional
influence has never been greater than it is now.?Iran’s
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated, “Today, if a referendum is held in
any Islamic country, the people will vote for individuals supporting Islam and
opposing the United States?
(Sadjadpour, Wrong Way).?The United
States must demonstrate sincerity in forming a
relationship with Iran.?We have overlapping interests in stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan and combating Al Qaeda.
more so than any other country in the region, has great influence on Iraq’s development.?Like the United
too wants to ensure stability, territorial integrity, and democratic elections
in Iraq.?Furthermore, we have a common enemy in the
Salafi extremists.?Iraq would be a
good place to start building confidence between our two nations.?
However, we cannot form ties with a state that supports terrorism
and violates the basic human rights of its citizens. ?/span>These issues go against everything our
democracy stands for, and it would delegitimize the United States in the international system.?The current regime must be replaced or the
government must make the strategic decision to change its policies.?Iran’s history decreases the
probabilities of any sort of regime change in the near future; Iranians are
wary of political agitation due to many years of war and revolution.?Thus, the United States must encourage the
notion that “goodwill will beget goodwill?and “reaffirm that a defiant
approach will gain little and cost more?(Sadjadpour, Guidelines).?
The Other Players
?The Islamic world will not affect
the Western world as much as China,
if at all.?True, the Islamic nations,
mainly Iran, are our current
adversaries, but if we decide to engage in military action against Iran, China will come to its
will negotiate to defend Iran
in exchange for cheap oil.?Russia, too, may do the same and negotiate to
with energy supplies in exchange for geopolitical concessions.?Our close European allies are no different,
and would probably surreptitiously negotiate for their own guarantees.?In the anarchic system, all must provide for
their own security and ensure the solidity of their power.
a rising democracy, previously supported Iran in its quests for nuclear
power because it, too, was actively building its nuclear abilities as
well.?However, the United States
negotiated to recognize India as a legitimate nuclear power in exchange for
their cooperation to contain Iran (and China as well).?The United
States can use both India
and Iran as tools to contain
China.?The pressure from this region would greatly
economic trends, hopefully bringing it to a halt.?
The focus of this essay was to evaluate the Iranian situation, but
we cannot forget the ultimate goal: to contain China.?This may be accomplished easier if we have Iran as our
ally.?However, if the United States fails at gaining Iran as a
partner, we must at least penetrate Islamic territories and subject part of
them to American influence.?We cannot
overlook the role that other Islamic nations can play in isolating China and severing their access to oil, China’s main
interest in the region.?We may solidify
our legitimacy in the region if we succeed in stabilizing the Iraqi
situation.?Concerning Iran, we must “maintain dialogue…and let it be
known that when Tehran is ready to rethink its policies
and emerge from isolation, there will be a partner in Washington ready to welcome it?(Sadjadpour,
and the United States
once had cordial relations, and there is some hope that it could happen
Crocker, Chester A. “The Art of
Peace: Bringing Democracy Back to Washington.?
Foreign Affairs. July/ August 2007.
Luft, Gal. ?/span>
Pelanda, Carlo. The Grand Alliance:
The global integration of democracies. Milano, Italy,
Sadjadpour, Karim. “Guidelines for Approaching Iran.?Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace. June 2007.
Sadjadpour, Karim. “The Wrong
Way to Contain Iran.?International Herald
August 3, 2007.
23 Sept. 2007. Central Intelligence Agency. < https://www.cia.gov/>.
23 Sept. 2007. Human Rights Watch. < http://www.hrw.org/>.