Iran’s Security Concerns with the Continuation of United States’ Behavioral Patterns
United States presidential elections had moved into a noteworthy direction in September 2008. Candidates Obama and McCain were trying to introduce new solutions for problems with international diplomacy and domestic economics. However, while Obama spoke of ’change’, McCain backed the continuation of the existing security approach. Downfall in United States’ strategic credit in regional and international realms, and the emerging economic crisis led to Obama’s historic victory in the elections.
This evinced the American society’s demand for a new model of regional and international relations, and their critical look on George W. Bush’s aggressive policies. Although United States’ foreign policy subtly changed in dealing with China, Russia and Western Europe, security views towards Iran remain the same.
1. The role of Obama’s executive order in continuation of Iran-U.S. conflict: Obama’s executive order on March 12th that extended economic sanctions imposed on Iran shows that the new diplomatic trend still prefers to follow the restrictive behavioral model. Therefore, there will be no reconsideration of the continuation of economic, industrial and technological sanctions. There are other issues in addition to the executive order which signal the continuation of frictions between Iran and the United States. Americans closely keep the track on Iran’s economic and security developments. And they are against Iran’s increasing strategic power. With such a stance, reconstruction and normalization of bilateral ties would be a difficult task. The conclusion is, the cold war between Iran and United States won’t transform, even with a change policy.
United States still follows the model of strategic cooperation with the West. However, this doesn’t equate a reconstruction in form of extensive cooperation with Iran. The course of events during January to March 2009 shows that America will not seek strategic cooperation with radical states. Those states like Iran oppose the existing power relations in international politics. Hence, based on his ’change’ policy Obama prefers to distinguish among the countries according to the role they play. That’s when ’distinct cooperation’ comes into existence.
2. Distinct cooperation in United States’ Middle East affairs: ’distinct cooperation’ means that the face-off between Iran and America on security issues will continue. Eventually, this face-off must have a victorious side. By restricting Iran and cooperating with other regional states, America tries to restore its previous position in Middle East.
There is a dual face to the relations between United States and the majority of Middle East countries. On the one hand, these countries oppose America’s regional policies. On the other hand, they face a more serious threat, i.e. militant Shiism, hence a ripe situation for joint efforts of America and conservative states.
U.S. and conservative countries see a common threat: Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is one the one hand trying to create a new regional order, and on the other hand contests the hegemonic models of America and West. In this situation, West inevitably has to relocate its position with regard to regional and international cooperation.
’Distinct cooperation’ is unique in that it covers a broad range of cooperation models. In fact, United States interacts with each country based on its structural and functional features. Iraq, Afghanistan and a gamut of Middle East countries are areas in which United States needs to establish closer diplomatic and security ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Without an enemy, United States’ presence in Middle East turns senseless. Since the end of the Cold War, Americans have tried to define a center for gravity for its security and strategic conflicts in Middle East. This implies the existence of a group of countries who have no willingness towards full cooperation or confrontation with the United States. Each of the influential states of Middle East has clear security borders with other countries plus remarkable strategic differences with the United States. This puts America in an asymmetric situation.
3. Asymmetric diplomacy and continuation of Iran-US frictions: with United States’ security and strategic cooperation finding a distinct trait, formation of an ’asymmetric diplomacy’ becomes inevitable. In other words, any ambiguity in strategic behavior leads to security ambiguities. Generally, security ambiguity occurs when first, the mode of interaction between countries is unclear, and second, there are several influential actors, and third, each actor attempts to counter others’ efforts.
In such a situation, Iran has a lower chance for predictable cooperation with the United States. On the other hand, United States’ security challenges with Iran in addition to oppositions [towards this cooperation] by a range of countries will create further security problems for Iran.
4. The diplomatic cold war between Iran and United States in the new Iranian year: with relations based on ’distinct cooperation’ full reconstruction of bilateral ties will be highly difficult. In other words, United States will try to create an unstable, incoherent equilibrium in the Middle East. Such equilibrium will once again rebuild United States security challenges with Iran on issues such as the legitimacy of the Palestinian authority, the role of Hamas in Palestine’s political future, Hezbollah’s position and Iraq’s security model. All of these subjects will affect the quality of Iran-US relations and Iran’s future security role.
Within the upcoming years, Iran will most likely have no inclinations to revise its strategic plans. The Islamic Republic believes that it is fighting against the unfair global and Middle Eastern order. Not a great number of countries will welcome Iran’s strategy. However, the supporters of Iran’s strategy will reinforce its strategic and ideological drive. Meanwhile, Iran doubts United States’ pragmatic policies.
So far, Iranian officials have failed in devising a stable, predictable behavioral model in their interaction with the United States, which has compounded the problems with the bilateral ties. Therefore, in the new Iranian year, and while both Iran and America insist on their security and strategic stances, reconstruction of relations will not be an easy task. Iran-US cold war in relation to Iran’s nuclear program, its political and strategic role in the Middle East and its attitude towards the global order will remain bones of contention.
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