Many people including the former secretary Jack Straw have called for a rapprochement of relations with Iran. However this would be a move which would further weaken western credibility when we talk about human rights and when we try and initiate humanitarian interventions to end demonstrably evil regimes. The west has rightly been damaged with Guantanamo bay, torture and allying ourselves with regimes like Saudi Arabia which still remain alongside fallen regimes like the Former President Mubarak of Egypt. The last thing we need is to ally ourselves with a country which actively supports dictatorships across the region, kills or imprisons activists at home and abroad and sponsors terrorism which cuts down the leaders of democracy where leaders of democracy are few and far between. As Dr Ali Ansari has argued in his book Confronting Iran, the Shah of Iran wasn’t as brutal as the Islamist regime which replaced it, and we all know how the average Iranian felt about America’s backing of that particular dictator. Imagine how the Iranian public will feel towards America and the west in general when they throw off the shackles of this even more repressive dictator.
Many people have accused the western media of scaremongering and have used recent headlines on ISIS about Iranian thoughts to prove this point. However I feel this isn’t the case. Recent headlines have simply made out the case of what the leader of the country has stated. You may be thinking the president of Iran, Dr Rouhani is a sensible man with a hard-headed political approach of moderation. However this isn’t the man in charge of the country; his moderation hasn’t stopped executions for ‘defaming the prophet’ or for sentences on singing songs. The real leader is the grand ayatollah who is not as sensible as the country’s president. He for a long time went along with the former president Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and actions including hosting holocaust denial conferences, threatening Israel and generally trying to create mayhem throughout the region. The grand ayatollah also must have sanctioned the Basij crackdown on protesters during the 2009 election which resulted in a new climate of fear and intimidation. Sadly this isn’t scaremongering or half concocted conspiracy theories but actual events which have taken place under this regime.
The nuclear question of Iran is extremely important; Iran cannot be allowed a weapon of mass destruction for two key reasons. Firstly, a regime like Iran’s gaining a nuclear weapon means it is essentially immovable in terms of any intervention or domestic uprising which could destabilise the country. Secondly, if Iran was to gain a nuclear weapon it would start a game of nuclear monopoly around the Middle East which would start with Saudi Arabia building a nuclear weapon which is the last thing that area of the region needs. Iran has denied access to the IAEA of military nuclear sites and they have enriched uranium beyond civilian levels and very close to weapons grade material. Indeed before 2003 it is widely acknowledged that Iran was trying to gain a nuclear weapon so it is not out of the question that they are doing so again. Iran is not one of the countries in the NPT who are allowed nuclear weapons and many nations who are have reduced active stocks of nuclear weapons. One example is of America, who have reduced their nuclear stockpile to fewer than 8,000 from a cold war high of over 31,000 warheads in 1967. To accuse the United States of breaking international law of not reducing their arsenal which they are while excusing Iran’s failure to comply with all inspections is either being mendacious or missing some quite critical points of history and of the current situation.
To me the argument that because we already support bad regimes with awful human rights records means we should support more is a case which is morally bankrupt in the worst way. The only possible plus is that the regime in Iran is stable. However this is not the case, no undemocratic regime is ever stable, this is why they have extensive secret police forces and limit freedom of expression. As seen in China with the Tiananmen Square episode and the Arab springs is that dictatorships are always suffering from a democratic deficit which makes them vulnerable to collapse at almost any time. I agree that the west supports bad regimes, which is something which in the future will come to haunt us. As the late Christopher Hitchens once said what he liked about the Iraq war was that for once we were dethroning a dictator instead of installing one. This has to be the way Foreign policy in the west works. For once on a dictatorial regime we have got it right, legitimizing it and extending their power is not the right solution.
By Sam Mace, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.