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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Voltron, Jun 12, 2004.
Apparently they have been lieing.
This squabbling has been going on for several years; it's been masked by other events. Given Iran's track record of efforts to destabilize Saudi Arabia plus their support of anti-Israel efforts, it's a touchy situation.
Iran's talk of "only electric generation" is disbelieved since they don't need that amount of capital investment compared to the costs of using natural gas or oil.
Frankly, I am not sure how to feel about this...On one hand, Iran is an anomaly in the ME, as a Persian people (as opposed to Arab), and one of the few countries of the region who have not, by and large, seen an increase of Fundamentalism in their populace (although the government continues to be hard-line). From a geo-political standpoint, the ME is in desparate need of a Regional Power in said area. Without such a State, Islamic Culture is likely to continue to be consumed by external and internal conflicts, which does no-one, including the US, any service, as stability in that region is in everyones' interest and would do much to take the wind out of the sails of various terrorist movements (imo). Iran could perhaps be that State...so in interest of discussion, allow me to outline the various contenders to this possible title, and wrap up with discussion of Nuclear weapons..
Any state which is to have a chance at Regional leadership must possess these attributes:
1. Economic Resources
2. Military Capability
4. Islamic Identity
5. Political and Religious leadership/commitment to "the faith"
1) Iraq (The New-and-Improved Democratic one). This would seem to be the US/NeoCon goal, with the beacon of Western Style Democracy bringing about stability to the Region...ironically, under different circumstances, Iraq may have had a chance, as it had a relatively prosperous economy (esp, before sanctions), a relatively sophisticated culture, and a potential commitment to the Faith, as well as a central location to Islam and excellent regional military strength. Unfortunately, under Hussein, Iraq was explicitly secular, voiding #4 and #5, and the organizational competence of the Regime left something to be desired...in the wake of the US "liberation" it is unlikely to meet any of the criteria any time soon...it is also predominately shi'ite (like Iran), which are the minority of Islam. Oh well...
2) Egypt. Is an Arab country in a central, strategically-important location in the ME. It is also populous and home to many leading institutions of Islamic Learning, including AL-Azhar (perhaps the best). Unfortunately, it is also a poor country, dependent on Western aid and that of the Oil-Rich Gulf States...this lack of financial independence precludes it being a front-runner...
3)Pakistan. It has the size, population and military strength (it has nuclear weapons). It has also fairly consistently tried to promote cooperation among Islamic nations, and to promote Islam to the rest of the world...it is however, relatively poor and suffers from serious internal etnic and/or regional divisions, a history of political instability and a fixation on India vis-a-vis Security, which leads it to look for support among Islamic and non-Islamic nations alike (US, China). A possibility, but frankly, a scary balancing act (imo) that I worry about in the coming years...
4) Saudi Arabia. The home of Islam, with the holiest of Islamic shrines, and has the language of Islam as it's own. Also has the largest oil-reserves and the resulting financial clout. The government has shaped society along Islamic lines, and it has had a long (and often indescriminate) policy of financial support to Muslim Organizations. It's relatively small population and geographic vunerability have traditionally made it dependant on the west, however, and it is unclear if the tribal system upon which it was built will prove flexible enough for true leadership in the Region. Another possibility, probably not the Wests' favorite...
5) Turkey. Probably the front-runner. It has the history(ottoman), population, level of economic development, national coherence and military tradition and competence. Unfortunately, it's commitment to secularlism precludes it being a leader of Islam. There has been a resurgence of Islamic faith in Turkey in recent years, but it also continues to petition for membership of the EU, which would effectively join it to the Western camp. If the EU continues to rebuke its' advances, however, it may shed it's secular past and become the Islamic Regional Power. It would most likely take an exceptional leader to navigate the country down this path safely (an anti-Ataturk, if you will)...good possibilty, and probably the best hope of an example for the Middle East in US eyes, as it will likely remain a democracy...
6. Iran. It has the size, central location in ME, population, historical traditions, oil-resources, and excellent economic development for the Region. Unfortunately, it has three liabilities:
That Persian is a distant-second as the language of Islam...that Iran is predominately Shi''ite, the minority...and that Persians and Arabs have historically not gotten along...
Despite this, Iran remains my personal favorite, although less likely than Turkey...imo, this is because I believe that under the current context of events, Islamic states, tired of infighting and Western intervention, may see the common-good in promoting the candidate most likely to stand up for Islam as a power in the Region. Saudi Arabia has largely compromised itself with it's reliance on the West, and Turkey is not yet commited to Islam. The fact that Iran would be a nuclear power to balance Isreal, would probably be a welcome development to the Arab/Muslim world, even if they are Persian...
From a Western perspective, Iran would not be the worst choice either, despite appearances. Although their government remains hard-line, the population is probably the only Islamic state not to have experienced a large increase in fundamentalism, and the rights of self-determination and even democracy have bubbled beneath the surface. Iranian/Persian Culture has historically proved it's competance and sophistication, even an attention to detail that can border on neurotic...but they are a Culture to be taken seriously, unlike some Arab Culture. Persian Culture has also softened Islam in Iran, in that women stare you in the eye on the street, travel unaccompanied and although often in Chadors, they are often made of Silks and other exotic materials, a testament to Persian hedonism perhaps. Foreign journalists may also photograph women, something that would get you stoned in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia...there are also the matter of private parties, where women dress in slinky numbers and liquor (black-market) flows...Iranian culture may be hypocritical, but it is seemingly not repressive. The Iranian revolution seems to have acheived a political revolution, but not a cultural one - and as such, was not a "true" revolution, and it can be said that it is drifting back to it's center...as far as the government goes, it can be said that although governments may clash and try to undermine and commit violence against each other, it is ultimately an ephemeral phenomenon, something for the news...ethnic and national characteristics change slower, and can be seen as a better indicator of future political trends...and the indications seem encouraging to me, and should to the West...
I do not see a huge problem with Iran posessing nuclear capabilities, in fact Pakistan is much more worrisome...I am not sure how Isreal, and the West would handle it, particularily the US, and if recent history has taught us anything, it probably will not be a pragmatic response...however, this does not necessarily preclude the viability of my opinions. I leave you with a Quote about Iranian Culture:
Remind you of anyone?...
"The moving finger writes..." ?
How dare they pursue weapons that we possess? How dare they consider attacking us preemptively? And how dare they consider our presence on two of their borders in any way provocative? It's not like WE'D ever use our might in anything other than an appropriate fashion. In fact, I'm hurt that they'd even suggest that we would do such a thing.
Now, now, mac, take a Valium and tune in Maharushi so you can regain your perspective.
blackfox, you raise some good points, but I guess it'll take a while to play out. Today's NYT has this:
about the already-happening changing of controls in Iraq, in advance of June 30th.
I guess the subtitle to the article could be "Crossed Fingers".
a roving grad students mind and some glasses of wine...
I do believe Iran gets a bad rap (at least publicly), much like Turkey does occasionally (for human rights), when I feel the real problem is the Wests' unwillingness, uncomfortableness and reluctance to deal with a powerful Muslim Culture on equal footing...that said, I do not savor yet another country posessing Nuclear arms, even if it is one unlikely to either use, or sell the technology.
There is also the issue of whether after the obvious recent setbacks, the US will go back to a traditional policy of containment towards this scenario, or again use the neocon preemption doctrine...hell, we could be in the ME from Iraq east to afghanistan...a scary, if unlikely prospect.
What does the vintner buy that's half so good as what he sells?
Argyle, 1998 Spirithouse.
"Phenomenally smooth and lush, with warm and complex flavors of orange, peach, coconut, and vanilla, all wrapped in a soft oaky blanket. Overall a soft wine lacking crispness, nevertheless tremendously elegant and tasty."
bought a case...
Or are you talking about ol' Mark Vitner of the Economist? Because with some of the things he has been saying, he might be drinking the hard stuff
Seems to me your too worried about things like fairness or giving an equal chance for them to win a war like this was a game or something. Giving folks equal chances is a good way to make mankind extinct.
Iran is mostly Shia muslims. I don't think it has a majority Persian (Sassanid) any more.
I think that we ought to just bomb Iran already. But instead of bombing them with conventional explosives, or nuclear explosives, we should just bomb them with DirecTV and TiVo set-top boxes.
Or, just let the Mossad take care of the Iranian nuclear facilities.
The Iranians are persians. These are the same people as the ancient persians (in as much as such things remain the same), they're just muslim now. sassanid refers to a pre-islamic persian empire.
So iran's population is mostly shia muslim and persian.
Not all muslims are arabs, nor are all arabs muslim.
Thanks for clearing that one up...
Poor sentence-structure not withstanding, I still do not understand your point, except that it is easy to take that position when you are in the position of power, and your comment ignores the fact that global extinction is in no socities interests(seems rather condescending, actually)...What has Iran got to do with the WOT directly, as terrorists are usually w/o states, and even w/in the Muslim world, the aquisition of Nuclear Weapons by extremists would not be seen as conducive to National or Regional interests, as it would undermine stability. If Iran possessed Nuclear capability, it would most likely not be able to attack the West (lack of long-range ballistic missles), and would probably concentrate on their possesion as simply an assertion of regional balance, as even a Islamic state is not going to Nuke Jerusalem, or other holy sites in neighboring ME countries. I think some points need to be established:
1. Military capabilities are the natural result of social and economic development, and as such more and more countries will possess sophisticated military apparatus (including nuclear), in east asia and to a lesser extent in the ME. This is inevitable. However, the time and resources to aquire conventional military strength induce a number of countries to take a short-cut, and produce WMD. This is for a couple important reasons:
a) Possession of these weapons allows the country to assert regional dominance over other states in their region, (which as my first post noted, could be a good thing)
b) More importantly, it provides them the means to deter intervention in their Nation or Region by Western Powers (ie US). Basically, the unwritten rule is that "if you posess Nuclear weapons, the US will not fight you". Since the US has unmatched Conventional Military strength, this is seen as a good equalizer, much in the same way that the West built up nuclear weapons during the Cold War, as they perceived themselves as being inferior in terms of conventional military strength to the Soviets. It is also interesting to note US, Russian and Chinese policy changes on "no-first-use" policies, when they perceived themselves in a position of relative weakness, and wished to maximize the deterrent potential of such weapons. Most other countries in development of such capabilities, are likely to take similar stances, for similar reasons.
2. Terrorism and Nuclear weapons. Both of these have traditionally been the weapons of the weak, of those who do not posess conventional military power. Although there is a possibility of them being combined, resulting in strength, it seems more likely that one will substitute for the other. If Irans' possession of Nuclear weapons detered Western intervention and Imperialism, much of the goals of terrorism in the region would be met w/o continued violence. I'd like to think this is a plausible and superior alternative.
3. China. Since the beginnings of the 80's China has been a massive arms supplier of the ME, notably Iran and Pakistan. Agreements were signed with both countries for "scientific and military knowledge transfers". This includes Nuclear advisements, albeit probably more advanced for Pakistan. The US has also, of course, acted as a counter-balance in this respect, providing arms and expertise to rival countries for strategic reasons. China has, obviously, important strategic interests in the Region, and has a vested interest in its' stability.
4. Arms races...build-up vs build-up or build-up vs hold-down. During the Cold War the West and the Soviets (and Chinese) maintained a classic arms race of more and more sophisticated Nuclear weaponry and means of delivering them. This is not currently the case with regards to Iran, or any other newer non-western state aquiring or attempting to aquire Nuclear capabilities. This time is is the attempt to aquire on one side, versus the Wests' efforts to prevent them from doing so. Despite the Wests' best efforts, we may slow the weapons build-up of other societies, but we cannot stop it. For these reasons:
a) Economic and social development of said societies.
b) The commercial incentives for all societies to make money through the sale of weapons, technology and expertise.
c) The strong Political motives of regional powers to protect their hegemony, or in the case of a region w/o one (like the ME), to create one.
5.Western Policy (ie US). There is a somewhat continued debate on the policy of nonproliferation vs counterproliferation. Faced with the inevitable failure of a policy of nonproliferation (as discussed above), US and Western goals changed towards a policy of counterproliferation (also as a result of the reluctance of countries to sign a permanent nonproliferation treaty w/o a massive decrease in armaments of the big five Nuclear powers, although the US acheived a treaty extension by bribes, arm-twisting and threats) in 1993. This change in policy choose to accomodate the reality of some nuclear proliferation, and perhaps promote proliferation to serve US and Western Interests. However, officially the US has remained commited to a nonproliferation policy, and the current NeoCon preemptive strategy is likely to maintain this bound-to-fail course until it is replaced by another doctrine, probably with a new administration. While the West sees nonproliferation as in the interests of all nations in International order and stability, many non-western countries perceive this as a policy serving/preserving Western Hegemony.
Is being a persian, a race, or a religion?
Is being a shia muslim, a race, or a religion?
I don't think that Iran's state religion is anything but Islam, and that means its muslim.
I think the more important distinction/characterization for Iran's population is that it is 89% Shi'a Muslim, or 99% Muslim. The ethnicity of 51% of Iran's population does not enter into what Iran might or might not do. Unless, the 51% Persian of Iran's population were somehow opposed to the rest of the population.
Persian is a Culture, and Religion (Islam) is integrated into culture to a degree that is foreign to our sensibilities, confusing terminology...
*edit* Frohicky, in reference to your edit, the Persian influence in Iranian Culture does matter, as an effect of how Islam is integrated into the society...In Iran's case, it has softened it's influence with some hedonisistic tendencies (among others)...unless you meant to comment on the US not accepting a Muslim country w/ Nuclear weapons, but there is already Pakistan. I mentioned more in my first post.
<warning -- completely off topic>
It's a race/cultural/language thing.
Ok this is just silly. It's like asking, is being a protestant christitian a race or a religion?
Some early islamic history for you so that you don't make silly statements like the above again.
Shia and Sunni are the two big divides in Islam. The origional difference (and someone can correct me here) is that the sunni (the majority) believed that the authority of the prophet passed to the community's elected leader Abu Bakr. The shia believed that authority should have remained in the prophet's family; specifically in Ali (who was the fourth Caliph and the last of the so-called 'rightly-guided caliphs')
Over the intervening centuries different theologies developed within the two groups; with one of the largest being that the shia developed an organised clergy wheras the sunni did not. (Though i suppose a de-facto clergy has probably developed in most parts of the world.)
Sunnis and shias still share a much larger common theology that catholosism and the protestant churches.
Iran calls itself an Islamic republic, so Islam would be the official religion of the Iranian state. Which does not mean to say that other religions don't exist.
Yes the most important characterisation of Iran's population is that it's predominately Shia muslim. Though as blackfox said, the persian influence on the iranian interpretation of islam has been enormous.
One of Iran's most important influences on islamic culture has of course been the veil, which was a pre-islamic persian custom.
Also as far as i am aware, the difference between the persian and non-persian parts of iran's population are not that great. (though i could be wrong here)
(the current dominiance of a very dogmatic and conservative islam in much of the sunni arab world is more an indication of arab culture than sunni islam. the rise of this particular brand of islam, and its dominance over the rationalist and other schools of thought also makes for interesting, if sad, reading)
Hope this clears up some of your misconceptions.
Zaid, would you happen to be Iranian? Muslim? I ask only because I have gone on at length about Iran and the ME, and I am afraid what I have written is just a composite of reading on the matter(s), so I do hope I was not way off base...I must admit (as I did before), that I am a great admirer of Persian Culture, so any corrections/clarifications would be appreciated if appropriate...
no, fighting fair gives incentive for your opponent to fight fair. if i thought the republicans were going to fix the election in november, what would be my incentive to vote? i might as well raise holy hell and rebellion as try to play by the rules. giving folks the shaft is a good way to garauntee retributive acts. have you been paying attention the last few years?
Hey, if you're gonna get into a definition-discussion of a "fair" war, start a new thread.
I was brought up a muslim in southern africa, though none of my ancestry is arab or persian .
I was always very interested in me/persian/islamic history, culture and literature, interests which i still retain though i'm probabbly not what one would call a practicing muslim.
So basically my knowledge (or lack thereof) is also nothing more than a distilate of what i've read and discussed with others.
I think I have clarified it for myself when I posted that earlier post. Being persian is like being hispanic, or asian, or white. Its a race, and its not a religion. Being shia or sunni muslim is like being a jew, or a christian, or a buddhist. This aspect you can change (at least without gene replacement therapy).
I'm more concerned about the loss of America's ability to speak with any kind of moral authority on these issues than fighting fair.
Seems like you are arguing that the ends justify whatever means it takes to achieve those ends.
mac, it looks to me like you and Frohickey are thinking differently about "fair". It seems to me that you're including the morality or justification of a war in the first place, while he's looking at it from the standpoint that if you think you MIGHT have to fight somebody, you don't want parity of force.
Anyhow, that's the way it seems to me.
'Rat, you do want "parity of force", if you are the weaker party...there is also the inherent conflict/hipocrisy in the US valuing the right "to self-determination" of a society, although in practice we seem to say that determination can only be along "our" rules, and if it does not constitute a perceived threat to us...so "fairness" is of course at odds with "strategic interests"...however, since (as I wrote above), the only options for a country like the US in dealing with other countries' enevitable military evolution is to intervene to prevent it (expensive and destabilizing, ultimately futile) or try to strategically manage these developments...in the latter cases, moral authority and the perception of "fairness" goes a long way. As mentioned, playing fair is likely to invoke a reciprocal response, although not always...but not playing fair almost guarantees one...