Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by egroen, Jan 21, 2010.
To those calling for an invasion, it will only strengthen the current regime.
Besides a democracy, what do the protesters want? What do you not like about the current government?
1. Tendency to earn the country trade sanctions internationally and tarnished reputation as a result of what is perceived as an overly belligerent defence and foreign policy.
2. The imposition of strict religious law, with a gender bias on a few key areas, on what used to be a relatively secular country, some of which are against the will of the people, and repressive policing to enforce aforementioned religious law and other repressive measures and harsh punishment for offenders.
3. Tendency of some high officials in the current government to promote Militant Fundamentalist Islamism at the expense of traditional Persian culture, moderate Islam and other ideologies.
No, it doesn't work that way. Even within the west there is plenty of disagreement on foreing policy.
Cool thanks. I think #1 is Israel/US propaganda, but #2 and #3 are good reasons to want a change in power.
quoted for emphasis. Also the fear of an Iranian friend, who fears that any intervention would rally people behind the government.
How do you honestly think an invasion would go, Ecofarm?
Sure, but a fully democratic Iran might perhaps become a kind of "France of the Middle East" with regards to the US?
Or a Greece of the ME, considering Greek anti-American sentiments seem way stronger that the French. (Except in international stature Iran is more akin to France of course.)
I wish the Iranians full luck in reforming the country, even if only the slightest. Liberalisation is a steady process and it's far easier to go backward than forward.
I think at the very least, Obama should express support for liberal democracy and reform in Iran, not specifically mentioning any group, of course. As a slap in the face to any theocratic idiots who would choose to label this as "intervention", he should also be clear that he intends to work with Iran in the name of America's interests, regardless of who sits in the chair of power.
The President is supposed to be the guardian of his country first, and a liberal second, if the circumstances demand it. It's a sad part of him being both the head of government(politics as usual galore) and the head of state (furthering the country's interests abroad).
Oh it could, yeah, that could happen and I'm not claiming it couldn't. But it's not a given. I think some people in the US, perhaps somewhat wishfully, believe that any change of state in Iran would be like Georgia, i.e. would throw up a completely pro-western government, when there really is nothing to suggest that that would happen. It could, but there's no reason to think it would.
Okay, you either need to define what you mean by "pro-western" and "western culture", or tell me which western countries are not pro-western!
In my definitions, both the US, France, Sweden, Israel, Greece, Poland, Switzerland and Portugal are western and pro-western.
I'm starting to suspect that when you say pro-western you mean: "Do what the guy in the White House tell you!"...
Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, etc.
Would your grace be as kind as to spare me at least two full sentences to explain your definition?
There is no hard and fast definition of what constitutes a western culture, but generally speaking it corresponds with western Europe and the Americas. If you have a definition, then by all means share it with us.
As for a western foreign policy, generally in practice it does mean doing as Washington says. But the two do not always correlate, plenty of indisputable western countries do not tow the line.
Can you tell me what you mean by both, and how it relates to Iran?
Hm. Looking at this again, I don't think I did much better than what I complained you did: I only listed several countries that I believe are western, without giving any definition myself.
I apologise for sounding a bit arrogant just now. And thanks for giving a proper answer.
While I don't have a clear definition of what constitutes western culture either, I'll try to give my impression about what western culture is today:
Western culture includes things like freedom of speech and freedom of travel. It includes that, at least in theory, men and women are more or less equally valued (disregarding biological differences), and that no religion is forcefully defended as the only lawful/good/true faith, that the state itself is not involved in spreading any religion, and that laws are not built on religious faith*. Furthermore, western culture relies on science and the scientific method, free enterprise and a mix of planned and capitalistic systems, and a belief that technological progress is for the good of all. Most importantly, countries within the western culture strive first and foremost with making life better for their citisens, as opposed to spreading any form of ideology, religion or undertaking in empire building.
As for western foreign policy, I believe that is a much broader field than simply doing as Washington says. Sweden and Switzerland stand out as traditionally neutral countries, Norway does not care much about the Terrorist-lists of the USA or EU, and have had talks with Hamas at minister level, even though their organisation is considered a terrorist organisation by many others. Both Japan and South Korea are glad to have the US as an ally if worst comes to worst, but they fully have their own objectives that they seek to accomplish. There are lots of examples.
I would also claim that the ideal of Russian culture is quite close to western culture, but they still have some ways to go before it will be considered an indisputable western country.
*We do still have some laws built on religious faith, but as I see it, those laws mostly stem from earlier times when Christianity was still a very strong part of western culture.
As for how this relates to Iran:
If the Islamist grip on the power in Iran would disappear, if the Guardian council, the Revolutionary Army and the Basenji militia would lose their powers, the already existing democratic institutions in Iran would, with time, turn the country more towards western culture. In some areas faster than others.
But I can easily picture an Iran where freedom of speech and movement is unquestioned, where men and women are as equal as in western countries today, and where Shia Islam coexists on equal terms with other religious faiths. I can also easily see that both education, industry and science could be on par with the west, that support for Hezbollah would vanish and that the Iranian state first and foremost would make sure their citisens would get a better life.
I also expect that even though Iran would be happy to trade with the west, they would maintain strong national protections for their oil, much like Norway does (probably a bit more actually). Also, I believe Iran would still be among the more religious countries sharing the western values. So just like Italy and the US, they wouldn't be to happy about stem cell research. And they will most likely continue the practice of death penalty, even though most western countries condemn such a practice.
There is no reason to expect that a democratic Iran would be an immediate friend of Israel, or that they will be very happy about the US's constant support of Israel (even when Israel breaks UN resolutions). And they will of course continue to be friendly with both Russia and China - who can blame them? All western countries are more or less friendly with Russia and China. The US and some others don't like them getting better weapons technology of course, but that is for the most part a problem among the top-ranking players in the world of realpolitik - not something that Iran will need to consider in the near future anymore than Norway or Austria.
My post's conclusion:
In short, I can easily see how Iran can share many of the values western countries currently have, and as such will become a pro-western country, or can we even go as far as saying they are a western country then (being aryan and indo-european and all that). I guess the last part would give a stronger argument for letting Turkey join the EU though, so I expect it will be enough to call it a pro-western country...
That sounds a bit like pro-Shah propaganda; I think you'll find that the Shah's 'modernization' never reached outside the major cities. I am afraid that the rural population will back the Islamic Republic just as staunchly as the Shah's regime was hated.
On another note, as the protesters claim not to object to the Islamic Republic, but rather to the dictatorial abuse of it, I don't quite see Iran become a Western ally anytime soon. Western intervention has done plenty to make sure of that in the past...
As for Turkey, as long as its constitution is backed by the military and they fail to take responsibility for the Armenian tragedy (not to mention the Greece/Cyprus and Kurd issues), I'm afraid it does not live up to EU standards. Turkey may compain about EU 'filibustering' of their EU admission, but in the end it's entirely up to Turkey if and when it will be ready for EU membership. Within this context, a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam seems to make up a sizeable minority of Turkish citizens, as was apparent when the US Air Force wanted to use Turkish airbases to control Iraqi skies - while Turkey is a NATO member.
I agree with most of that, so I'll just list the bits I would debate
Western countries openly and unabashedly try to spread their own ideologies and have been history's greatest Empire-builders.
But this is a very recent advent in the west. In fact, in the 1920s, the USSR had this to a far higher degree than any of 'the west'.
I wish that were true, but it's not. My own idiot country only recently passed blasphemy laws, and look at Bush's attitude towards stem-cell research and gay marriage. Those are mainly (but no exclusively) religiouly motivated laws.
I still amn't clear on what you define western foreign policy as, do you broadly mean NATO? Anti Russian/Chinese?
I also think you overestimate how much Iran would turn to the west even if it had a fairly liberal government. I think the Us and UK would be reluctant to cozy up to it too much for fear of alienating Saudi Arabia. they have a pretty good economic partnership with Russia and China, I see no reason why they would do an about-turn and swith to the west.
Note: I am not saying this couldn't happen, I just don't see why it would.
As a general comment to the pieces you debate, note that I tried to define western culture of today, which I also wrote quite clearly (I had hoped) in my post.
Thus, what Europe or the US was in the past, is not included in my definition of western culture now. Western culture of, say, 1900, would not be part of the definition I presented for western culture. So I still stand for my point to western countries does not seek to build empires nor treat men better than women.
Yes, we see that with how the US wanted to spread "democracy" to Iraq, or how many western countries try to put pressure on other countries to comply with their standards concerning human and animal rights, death penalty, medical practices and industrial standards and other subjects.
However, all those points play second-fiddle to the goal of improved living standards of the countries populace. It must be a very obscure range of cause-and-effects for a western country to follow a policy that generally harms its own populace while improving the country's power or spreading an ideology.
You could also mention when Swiss women were allowed to vote. Still, that is not my definition of western culture of today.
Yes, not all western countries are perfectly in line with my definition of western culture. And it is of course only my definition. However, a great majority of the western population look at those examples with contempt, and I think many could agree that we can argue that such things are anti-western.
I think my point here is that there is no general western foreign policy, except to the extent that all western countries primarily seek foreign policies which (at least in theory) should help improve the lives of their citisens, and secondly to increase the country's power, spread their ideology and improve the lives of citisens in other countries.
As for Iran turning against the west. I think you have a to anglo-centered view on the world. Iran most certainly wouldn't be best friend with either Israel, Britain or the US from day one, but relations will improve with time. However, Iran has no reason to be unfriendly with the majority of European countries, and those countries and Iran may enjoy good relations while Iran will still be friendly towards Russia and China.
If it is in their interest to procure weapons from the west however, they will. And if it at some point occurs to them that they have more in common with, and more to gain, by growing stronger bonds with certain western countries than Russia or China, then they will.
Turning towards the west does not mean becoming the US's lapdog and joining the NATO-umbrella, accept US/British/Spanish/Polish military presence within their territory or open their oilfields for free exploitation by Exxon. It means they will become a country that will work to improve its citisens lives and which will gradually realise that their real best friends can be found among like-minded nations.
Practically every government in history has at least believed it was improving it's citizens lives, this is not a western value at all, its a state value.
Thank you, Cheetah - I agree with many of your sentiments.
Many Iranians are proud of their long history with the Jews. Cyrus the Great is one of the most quoted in the Torah: He freed the jews, helped them build their Temple and allowed all religions in the Persian Empire to practice their faiths freely.
The current regime dismisses him as a homosexual.
It was not long ago that Iran had this. My grandmother was one of the first women to receive her doctorate in Iran.
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