The Islamic Republic of Iran is an authoritarian, complex and opaque regime with many leaders including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who are openly hostile toward the west and in particular the United States. The former Supreme Leader Khomenei once said, “we must strive to export our Revolution throughout the world, and must abandon all idea of not doing so,” # despite their best efforts the Iranians have failed to achieve the Revolution’s goal. Furthermore the vast majority of Muslims and non-Muslims have no desire to live under this form of tyranny that subjugates is people to the will of the ruling elite, denies basic human rights, suppresses individual freedoms and fails to provide prosperity for its citizens.
Even with this backdrop as the starting point for a dialogue, it is time the United States begins selective but direct diplomatic engagement with Iran. As Henry Kissinger stated, “the United States should be prepared to reach a geopolitical understanding with Iran on the basis of Westphalian principles of non-intervention and develop a compatible concept of region order.” # This does not mean the U.S. must abandon the ideals and values that we hold dear, but rather understand that every country does not and will not adhere to the same principles that we have come to cherish over the past 240 years. Additionally, this does not prevent the U.S. from actively engaging with a nation that is diametrically opposed to our governing principles.
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In the late 1970's, the world was hit with the events of the Iranian Revolution, a movement in which the Shah was overthrown in replacement with Ayatollah Khomeini. Causes for this movement included the economic, political, and socio-economic conditions in Iran before the Revolution. Economically, the Shah's hopes for the country ended up being their downfalls while politically, the Shah's ruling as a dictator prohibited the freedom of the Iranians. Socio-economically, the Shah didn't place much emphasis on religion, angering the majority of the population. The overthrow of the Shah led to the uprise of a religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, a figure supported by many. Unlike advice
Various factors influenced the 1979 Iranian revolution, but at the core of this significant event was Islamic fundamentalism. The Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, led this movement to end the thirty-seven-year reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, also known as the Shah of Iran (Diller 1991, p.152). The revolution was a combination of mounting social, economic, political and religious strains. The nation of Iran was never colonized, unlike some of its bordering countries, making its people intolerant of external influences. The Shah had gradually westernized and secularized his country, creating a strong American presence that was being felt
Iran was now unprotected, and a new power came into being. The Arabs invaded and the quality of life changed. “People fell into poverty as the greedy court imposed ever-increasing taxes. Tyranny tore apart the social contract between ruler and ruled that Zoroastrian doctrine holds to be the basis of organized life” (21). The Iranian people couldn’t survive with a ruler who had no sympathy or respect for them. Their life was being over run by foreigners.
The complexity of America’s relationship with Iran increased steadily beginning in 1908, when Iran struck oil. The Shah, the king or emperor of Iran, after taking the place of his young predecessor Reza Shah Pahlavi with the help of the CIA, led Iran into a period of extreme wealth and prosperity, the likes of which the Iranian people had never experienced. However, with the growth of wealth in Iran came the growth of Iranian resentment towards the West, specifically the United States. The Iranian’s resented the uneven distribution of wealth that they felt existed and the United State’s influence in “westernizing” their society. In 1963, this growing hatred led to a conflict with the Islamic clergy. The conflict was quickly settled by the Shah, but he was unaware that this dispute was the beginning
The Iranian Revolution was an uprising by the common people of Iran who were upset about the doings of their Shah and his government. The Shah’s treatment of his own people can be characterized as unjust and cruel. After all, he severely limited the rights of groups whom he felt threatened his power to rule. He opposed the political rights of religious Shiite groups, which especially enraged Iranians, and led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini. The Ayatollah was a religious leader who would overthrow the Shah and establish a proper Islamic State in the nation. Ever since, the so called Islamic Revolution has raised concern over the dangers that Iran may pose to the Western world. Nevertheless, the Iranian Revolution was a progressive movement that reflected the major concerns of Iranians towards corruption in government, all with the intention of removing injustices and enforcing rightful liberties and common needs.
President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech undermined support of Iranians who argued for better relations with the United States. When Bush made that speech in 2002, Mohammad Khatami, a reformer, was the president of Iran (Freedman 473). The United States sanctions against Iran have helped to further the Abadgaran regime’s agenda by giving justification to a group that is desperate for it; the sanctions have allowed them to consolidate their power and further oppress Iranians who go against the government’s policies. Iran’s current state is best described in Lawrence Freeman’s A Choice of Enemies:
It was a bright and sunny day in the streets of Tehran, where my father would walk along side by side with the love of his life. He was dressed like any gentleman in the blistering summer’s heat would, but the real sight to him was his girlfriend. She was wearing a bright colored dress and her hair was swaying with the cool wind. They felt vigorous and young to be able to show their affection so freely. Despite that, times have changed in Iran and to practice that type of freedom would result in brutal consequences from the government. At first glance, one would say modern day Iran juxtaposes the United States. However, that was not always the case. According to my informant, my father, Iran was once a country very much like the United States
The hardline conservatives are one of the most influential groups in Iranian politics. They have successfully used their institutional control of the Iranian government to continually influence the country’s domestic policies, even when the president is not a member of their coalition. Their platform can be summarized in six key points. First, they are completely devoted to the rule of the supreme leader, who holds absolute power over the country, as an extension of the Prophet and the Shi’i imams. Second, they see their opposition parties, primarily the Pragmatists and Reformists, as acting against Islam for wanting to reform the system that was put in place by the supreme leaders Khomeini and Khamanei. Also, the principles for which the opposition stands for such as human rights, democracy, and trade with other countries are
As Michael Axworthy states on the back cover of his book, A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind, Iran is a “land of contradictions”. As this is true these contradictions is what makes Iran, Iran. Iran today is looked as the pinnacle of the Islamic faith in the form of a Government structure. Since 1979, Iran has been known as the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran will continue being an Islamic Republic for centuries to come. Iran has a rich history of intellectuals and scholars. Iran is known for its vibrant culture that dates back longer than the Western Ideals were even conceived. However Axworthy asks a question about Iran and its impact on the world’s history and the current events that we see in Iran today, Axworthy asks “Is Iran an aggressive power, or a victim?” This statement is a true paradox, can Iran be the next Nazi Germany, the next Soviet Union or the next Great Islamic Caliphate or is Iran just fighting to keep its culture alive from a vast array of attacks from foreign entities and internal struggles.
Before the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the country was on course to becoming a westernized secular country. The Shah of Iran was more interested in developing the country along western model than anything else. People were left on their own to make decisions regarding moral issues. Religion was a private affair and people were free to practice their religion, as they wanted. People enjoyed personal freedoms comparable to those enjoyed in the west. They only thing they lacked was political freedom as all the power rested with the Shah. The elite controlled political power and anyone who wanted to join politics needed the sponsorship of the elites. The elites also controlled the economy largely because Shah appointed members of the
Iran has always, it seems, been the breeding ground for some kind of political upheaval or another. In recent times, back in 1979, there was a major revolution which was, in some ways, similar to the revolution we are seeing today. The people were angry and they were tired of being controlled by the government that was in power. They had concrete ideals and were incredibly passionate about their revolution. The revolution Iran is experiencing today does not appear to be quite as passionate and does not appear to maintain a belief in any real solid political system. They just know they want something different. In the following paper we present an illustration of the current revolution that is taking
Before the revolution, Shah Reza Pahlavi was the ruler of Iran. Under his leadership power was clustered and concentrated among his close allies and networks of friends and others with whom he had close relations. By 1970s, the gap between the poor and the rich was widening and huge distrust about his economic policies grew. Resentment towards his autocratic leadership grew fuelling people to dissent his regime further. Shah now was considered an authoritarian who took full control of the Iran government preventing the Iranians from expressing their opinion. The government has transformed from the traditional monarchial form of government to authoritarian with absolute authority replacing individual freedom of the Iranians. This transformation to Iranian was unacceptable because they needed to control their own affairs. They wanted self-government where they could take control as opposed to what Shah was doing. Shah was seen as a western puppet for embracing authoritarian form of government (Axworthy, 2016).
This essay recommends a policy of engagement reinforced by the key tenets of liberal theory for dealing with Iran. It will also discuss a principal weakness of engagement as well as demonstrate how Nixon’s foreign policy doctrine serves as a useful historical precedent for a policy of engagement.
However, the ideas had already spread throughout the Iranian people and religious protesting escalated continuously. People’s ideas of recreating a religious based government persisted to an unstoppable level. Khomeini, whom many protesters felt to be a hero, said in a speech in 1979, “Do not try to westernize everything you have! Look at the West, and see who the people are in the West that present themselves as champions of human rights and what their aims are. Is it human rights they really care about, or the rights of the superpowers? What they really want to secure are the rights of the superpowers. Our jurists should not follow or imitate them” (Ayatollah Khomeini: speech on the uprising of Khurdad 15, 2010). Based on this quote, the “voice” of the protesting Iranians was that westernization was not a good thing because the west does not care for human rights and freedoms of the lesser powers in the world and that the way to change for the better is to impose the Islamic values that already existed into society. In January of 1979, the Shah fled the country under the pressure of the people and Khomeini returned to Iran to be greeted as a hero (Bentley & Ziegler, n.d., p. 1117). Fighting erupted between Khomeini’s supporters and remaining military officials and on the eleventh of February the government fell. On the first of April, Khomeini proclaimed the beginning of the new Islamic republic (Islamic
Iran, known as Persia until 1935, became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was driven out by a widespread revolution. Also known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, it borders the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, and is located between Iraq and Pakistan. It also shares borders with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. Iran is roughly 1,648,195 square feet, the eighteenth largest country in the world with a population size of 82,801,633. It is governed as a theocratic republic, which is their legal system based on Islamic law. The judiciary system of Iran follows some aspects of Sharia law, but is also mixed with civil law that is authorized and overseen by Parliament. Alongside Parliament is their president, Hassan Ruhani, who has held office since August 2013, however; the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is at the very top of Iran’s configuration of power. Khamenei controls Iran’s domestic and foreign policies, serves as commander in chief of their armed forces, and directs the republic’s intelligence and security operations. Iran’s economy is characterized by its reliance on oil and gasoline exports. Their Gross National Income is 1.209 trillion per capita (PPP). Petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, and copper are some of their largest natural resources and their biggest export is petroleum (80%) to China, India, Turkey, and Japan. Industrial supplies, capital goods, and technical services from the UAE, China,