Monday, November 05, 2007



Trita Parsi, author of the newly released Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the U.S. (Yale; http://www.treacherous­, is president of the National Iranian American Council.

Rootless Cosmopolitan Iran, the Inflatable Bogey


1. Iran is ripe for regime change.

Not true.

the current choice Iranians face is not between Islamic tyranny and democratic freedom. It is between chaos and stability. The increased tensions with the United States over the past year have only strengthened the government's hold on power by limiting the space for prodemocracy activists

2. Iran is irrational and cannot be deterred.

Not true.

Iran is engaged in... cautious maneuvering toward a set goal: decontainment and the re-emergence of Iran as a pre-eminent power in the Middle East.

Iran often conceals its real objectives behind layers of ideological rhetoric, with the aim of confusing potential enemies and making its policies more attractive to the Muslim nations it seeks to lead.

During the Lebanon war of 2006, Israel signaled Tehran's leaders that it would retaliate against Iran if Hezbollah struck Tel Aviv with long-distance missiles.

3. Iran is inherently anti-American.

Not quite.

as long as Washington continues to seek a regional order based on excluding Iran, Iran will likely play on anti-Americanism to make Washington's policy of exclusion as costly as possible

4. Enrichment equals a nuclear bomb.

Not necessarily.

... does not mean that a small-scale Iranian enrichment program is tantamount to a nuclear bomb. ... intrusive inspections is the best tool to ensure that Iran doesn't divert its civilian program into a military one. ... inspections can only take place as part of a package deal with Iran that includes some level of enrichment.

5. Iran seeks Israel's destruction.


The major shifts in Israeli-Iranian relations, .... have occurred because of changing strategic--not ideological--realities. ... realpolitik has prevailed. But Iran does not seek Israel's destruction, nor does its attitude toward Israel lack pragmatism. In 2002 Iran signaled that it was prepared to adopt a "Malaysian profile" on Israel. Iran would, much like Malaysia, be an Islamic state that would not recognize Israel and would occasionally criticize it but would not directly confront the Jewish state. Though Iran has a new and more radical president today, it is still ruled by the same Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,

6. The pressure on Iran is working.


In fact, after twelve years of sanctions Iran is more powerful and more defiant than ever. The combination of ineffective sanctions and unrealistic demands will get the United States nowhere.

7. Stability in the Middle East can be achieved only through Iran's isolation.

Quite the contrary.

History teaches us that an Iran that isn't part of the region's security architecture will be more destabilizing...In the aftermath of the first Gulf War, ... The policy was called "dual containment," the idea being that the United States would advance the Middle East peace process by containing both Iran and Iraq. ... And the weakest link in the American strategy was the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. ... Though Iran wasn't solely responsible for the collapse of the peace process, it did contribute to undermining it by supporting rejectionist Palestinian organizations at a time when the United States was at the height of its power and when Tehran was in a very weak position. ... we must recognize that Iran's propensity to act as the spoiler will decline when it is included, not when it's excluded.

  • only Washington can offer Tehran what it really seeks: decontainment and reintegration in the Middle East. ...
  • Iran can make it costly for the United States not to recognize it as a regional power, but it cannot gain its seat at the table without American agreement.
  • There is an underlying geopolitical imbalance that must be addressed. The previous order in the region has crumbled
  • Creating a new regional order, ... is a recognition that stability in the region cannot be achieved and sustained through the current strategy of pursuing an order based on the exclusion of one of the region's most powerful nations.
  • To change Iran's behavior, we must change our own.


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