Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Iran Analogies

In this time of extreme danger in U.S.-Iranian relations, perhaps reasoning by analogy can help Americans avoid confusion...but
it must be done on the basis of accurate understanding of

Analogies are a great way to reveal the essence of complicated issues but argument by analogy is a sword that must be wielded with knowledge. Republican Representative Connie Mack’s recent characterization of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s bold Latin American diplomacy as analogous to Soviet support to Cuba during the Cold War obscures what is really happening in Iranian-U.S. relations.

  • The Soviet Union was a superpower and back when it set up its ties to Cuba, it was on a roll, rapidly expanding its economy, its military, and its global influence; possessing the world’s best space technology (remember Sputnik?); and promising to “bury” the United States with its “scientific” socialism and world-leading steel productivity.
  • Iran is a weak third world country with a weak economy, trying to resist an aggressive economic warfare campaign led by Washington, and undermined by severe internal political disunity (which would almost certainly explode into clear view if Washington would only ease off on its anti-Iranian campaign of verbal abuse, economic sanctions, and military threats that serve mostly to strengthen the Shi’ite fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists currently in control).

If Washington is serious about opposing the rise of Iran, a rise greatly accelerated by Washington’s post-9/11 policy of trying to control Iraq, then it would be very much to the advantage of the U.S. to have a serious debate about Iran. One starting place for such a debate could be the development of some accurate analogies to put Iranian behavior into a context to help Americans to understand this country that so perplexes and unnerves us.

I’ll start by suggesting that an analogy for Ahmadinejad’s recent diplomatic venture to solidify ties with Bolivia and Venezuela might be the decision of the leaders of the American Revolution to cooperate militarily with the conservative king of France in order to achieve independence from the world’s only superpower of that era – Great Britain. Interestingly, at the time, London labeled those American revolutionaries, who so threatened London’s economic interests, “terrorists.”

Any suggestions for other analogies to help explain the puzzle of why the world's only remaining superpower cannot learn to live with Iran?

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