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CSI Outlook -- October 2010

U.S. Policy towards Iran

The U.S. government has recently imposed new sanctions against top officials of the Iranian government. The alleged reasons are human rights violations against opponents of the regime following disputed elections in 2009. CSI applauds the move as a way to hold human rights violators accountable. Those sanctions are added to other heavy sanctions previously imposed against the Islamic Republic to punish Iran for its nuclear research. CSI is also in favor of measures to discourage nuclear proliferation. But a reality check is necessary in order to place U.S. policy in the proper context.
What are the real sins of the Islamic Republic? Let’s start with human rights violations, which CSI categorically condemns. Surely, the Iranian government has done bad things. But, even within the same region, what about Saudi Arabia? That country does not even hold elections and brutally oppresses critics of the government. Their brand of Islam is every bit as radical and oppressive as the one in Iran. Indeed, it even breeds terrorists, and 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. Yet Saudi Arabia is, and always has been, an ally of the US. China, a Communist nuclear power, is also an egregious violator of human rights. It executes thousands of people a year. It denies the right to self-determination to the people of Tibet and is attempting to wipe out Tibet’s culture and traditions. It does the same thing to the Weigurs and it persecutes Christians. It allows no opposition to the central government. But China is our main trading partner and diplomatic relations with it are usually good. The US would never attempt to demonize China.
Suspicions of Iran’s nuclear research seem to worry the United States. But what is the worst possible outcome of this dual technology research? Let us assume that Iran is indeed attempting to build nuclear weapons (which is by no means clear). It should be noted that the US itself has the largest nuclear stockpiles of any nation in the world. Several other countries near Iran also have nuclear weapons. They include Pakistan, India and Israel. But while Iran has never attacked a country in its history, Pakistan and India are in constant danger of conflict. Israel was created on contested land and currently occupies, in violation of many UN resolutions, much of the Palestinian territories and oppresses millions of people on the West Bank and Gaza. Since its recent creation, Israel has been at war with each and every one of its neighbors.
CSI looks at U.S. policy towards Iran as part of a geopolitical reality. Iran is one of the top oil producers in the world. But unlike the Shah, the current rulers of are not handing over their oil to the US and Israel. In the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia also fear Iran’s economic, military and strategic competition. They fear the resurgence of an ancient regional power, regardless of its form of government. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are staunch allies of the US and receive billions of dollars in aid as well as unconditional American support. The enemies of our friends are our enemies.

- I.C. Burgess