By Hamid Yazdan Panah
Documentary evidence often contains some simple truths with respect to policy and politics towards Iran. Recent revelations by Wikileaks with respect to CIA Director John Brennan emails offer an example of this type of documentary evidence with respect to policy on Iran. The documents reveal a policy which follows a strategy of acquiescence on Iran, and demonstrates that US policy is neither a lapse in judgement or an act of benevolence, but a calculated stance with respect to political interests.
The paper labeled “The Conundrum of Iran” appears to be incomplete, however it contains some interesting tidbits. First and foremost the paper opens with:
“With a population of over 70 million, xx percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, a geostrategic location of tremendous (enviable?) significance, and a demonstrated potential to develop a nuclear-weapons program, the United States has no choice but to find a way to coexist—and to come to terms—with whatever government holds power in Tehran.” [sic]
As a starting point for policy we see that not only is regime change completely off the table, it also serves to pave the way for later recommendations which are viewed as an inevitable part of accepting the regime in Iran. This includes the following:
1) Tone Down the Rhetoric:
2) Establish a Direct Dialogue with Tehran
3) Seek Realistic, Measureable Steps
4) Hold Out Meaningful Carrots, as Well as Sticks
Now these don’t tell us anything new or surprising by themselves. However, as part of a supposedly confidential record at the highest level of the US government it confirms once again that the United States has sought a policy of appeasement and engagement with the regime in Tehran.
Now is that so horrible you may ask? Well from the perspective of Iranian dissidents who want nothing more than to overthrow the regime in Tehran, the paper demonstrates that the concept of democracy, human rights, or progressive change are not part of the political calculus of the West. In fact the brief paper makes no mention of any of those terms, or the appalling situation for dissidents, political prisoners, or minorities in Iran.
Instead what is outlined in the paper is the geopolitical and economic benefits posed by the theocratic regime in Iran. One can assume that those who produced this paper have already come to the conclusion that the aspirations of the people of this country, or concepts such as democracy, human rights, and civil liberties are irrelevant in policy discussions on Iran.
Hamid Yazdan Panah is an Iranian-American human rights activist and attorney focused on immigration and asylum in the San Francisco Bay Area.