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The Monumnetal folly of threatening Iran
By M. Zeyaul Haque

Why on earth should President George W. Bush threaten Iran, which almost backed US in Afghanistan?

M. Zeyaul HaquePresident George W. Bush’s “Axis of evil” speech is still reverberating in our ears. For its sheer menace and arrogance, it beats most other speeches of his predecessors, even those of the professional actor Reagan, who loved to call the erstwhile USSR the “Evil of Empire”.

There are quite a few incongruities here, like Iran and Iraq put together in an uneasy juxtaposition, with North Korea thrown in to keep the two Muslim states company. It is another matter that the two Muslims do not generally see each other as true Muslims.

It must be noted here that any comparison with Iraq is innately unfair to Iran. Granted that mullas don't make good politicians, they are an obvious improvement on Saddam Hussein. Besides, everyone in Iran is not a mullah, nor the regime is half as repressive as Saddam's or the Shah's.

That brings us to the question as to why should America put Iran on notice, especially after the Afghan war, in which Iran almost backed US campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Newsweek (Feb.18, 2002) tries to explain why.

There seem to be two "justifications", if we can call it that, for President Bush's cowboy-style speech. First, of late Iran has not been cooperating with the US too readily in creating a post-Taliban order in Afghanistan. And, the second, Iran has been backing Hezbollah, which threatens US allies in the Middle East.

The first "justification" is too obviously lame to require further analysis, as every country in the region surrounding Afghanistan has its own national interests to protect and can't be expected to follow each and every point in the US agenda for Afghanistan without demur.

The Hezbollah connection too should not qualify Iran for any unilateral US action, because the Hezbollah is a local outfit, whose resistance against Israeli aggression in Lebanon led to the end of occupation. If anything, Hezbollah is seen in the area as a popular resistance movement against foreign aggression.

As of now, this outfit does not threaten anybody in the area, except those who either occupy or intend to occupy Arab lands. Hezbollah does not seem to have the desire, the will or the capability to threaten America.

An argument against Hezbollah is that Iran "might" pass on some of the lethal weapons to Hezbollah. Iran is also to be prevented from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, which, the US says, it is on way to acquiring. This again is only partially true. The whole truth is that the only country which has such weapons is Israel, which never figures in any US discussions on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This duality bothers the Muslim world. It is this duality that is behind the Subcontinent's rejection of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Economist (Feb.16-22, 2002) approaches this issue a little differently. It says that between them, the EU and the US have worked out a division of labour visa-vis Iran. The US wields the stick, while the EU dangles the carrot of goodwill. Economist, with characteristic British duplicity, says that both EU and US are working towards the same goal. However, it is not sure which of the two policies would work. Or, whether a combination of both will do the trick.

In the final analysis, the US posture presumes that Iranians are cowards, while the EU thinks they are a bunch of morons. The fact remains that the Iranians are neither. And that shows the folly of the entire Western game.
q

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