Iran’s hegemonic ambitions on display in Lebanon

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October 18 2010 (KOMAR EDITORIAL) Arming regional states is no substitute for a long-term strategy to prevail over Iran. In light of Iran’s intentions and actions, it should by now be clear that a long-term strategy must aim for regime change in Tehran.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon comes against the backdrop of several years of competition between, on the one hand, America and Israel and, on the other, Iran and its allies. That competition is, in essence, about regional hegemony with an ideological dimension as important as the Cold War competition between America and the Soviet Union.

This is no exaggeration, since American pundits and policymakers present Iran as a great challenge as the former Soviet Union. America’s vision of a liberal democratic international order is now challenged by an Iranian Islamist, anti-democratic and anti-liberal ideology that glorifies death (“martyrdom”) and destruction over toleration and peaceful coexistence.

Following the invasion of Iraq, Iran was on the defensive. Through a covert campaign – with the collaboration of Syria – Tehran undermined America’s attempt to transform Iraq, suffering under decades of dictatorship, two wars and sanctions, into a democracy.

By 2007, it was an open secret that Iran – through its destructive policies – had gained the upper hand in determining the future direction of Iraq.

Lack of strategic commitment to Iraq, an underestimation – in spite of a rhetoric suggesting otherwise – of the Iranian threat and the lack of serious action against Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region reversed initial U.S. gains and ultimately tipped the balance of power in favour of the clerics in Tehran.

Iran now perceives itself as having prevailed over America and acts with great self-confidence. Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions were on full display during Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon. Iran also has signaled that it is ready to resume negotiations over its nuclear program. If negotiations for Iran were a tactic to buy time, it is now a way to impose its conditions on the Western powers.

American officials have since the end of the Second World War said that the Middle East is of “strategic importance” to their country. However, America seems to lack the strategic patience and foresight that it necessary if Iran and its allies are to be prevented from dominating the region.

Arming the Arab Gulf countries or boosting Israel’s defence is no substitute for a long-term strategy to prevail over Iran. In light of Iran’s intentions and actions, it should by now be clear that a long-term strategy must aim for regime change in Tehran.

The Obama administration is not willing – because of domestic and international constraints – to consider this strategy. In fact, the administration’s statements and actions show signs of wanting to disengage from and leave the region.

The Obama administration seems to believe that regional states, if properly armed, will balance Iran. But the fact of the matter is that Iran only seems to be more emboldened by such a defensive policy.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon conveyed that message to Obama, loud and clear.

Original Link: Komar.uk.org

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