Magazine article New Internationalist

Beware Americans Talking 'Stability'

Magazine article New Internationalist

Beware Americans Talking 'Stability'

Article excerpt

It's very commonly agreed in foreign policy circles that there are two major issues in American foreign policy today. One of them is the threat of Iran, and the second one is the unresolved Israel/Palestine conflict. Questions arise about each of these issues. With regard to Iran, the first question that arises is: 'What, exactly, is the Iranian threat?' With regard to Israel/Palestine, the obvious question is: 'Why isn't it resolved?'

Actually, there are many problems in the world where it's difficult even to imagine a solution, but this one happens to be particularly easy. There is almost universal agreement on what the solution should be - backed by the Arab League; by the Organization of Islamic States, including Iran; by Europe; by the United Nations; by international law; in fact, essentially by everyone. So how come it isn't solved? That's the second question.

Well, there are some straightforward answers to these questions, but they do not enter discussion within Western ideology and doctrine, and the answers that are so simple are quite remote from general conventions. So let me say a few words about them.

With regard to the threat of Iran, there is a very authoritative answer, provided by military and intelligence reports to Congress in April 2010.

They say that the threat of Iran is not a military threat. Iran has virtually no offensive military capacity. Its military spending is quite low, of course a minuscule fraction of US military spending, but also pretty low by regional standards. They point out that the goal of Iranian military strategy is to try to defend the borders of the country and, in case they're attacked, to try to delay invading forces sufficiently so as to permit a negotiated settlement.

They discuss the question of whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons and say that if they are - which they don't know - the goal would be deterrence to prevent an attack on Iran. That's basically the story.

What then is the threat? Well, the threat is also explained. The primary threat is that Iran is engaged in destabilizing its neighbours. It's trying to increase its influence in surrounding countries, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US is, of course, involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that is not destabilizing. That's stabilizing.

The US is there to improve stability and, if Iran tries to have influence in its neighbouring countries, that's destabilizing.

Now that's very standard terminology in foreign policy literature and discussion. I mean, it reaches to the point that the former editor of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal, was able to say with a straight face and with no reaction from anyone that the United States had to destabilize Chile under Allende; had to destabilize the government of Chile, and overthrow it, and establish a dictatorship in order to bring about stability. It sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't when you understand that 'stability' has a meaning. It means US control. So we had to destabilize the country that was out of US control in order to bring about stability, and it's the same problem with regard to Iran. It doesn't follow orders and, therefore, it is destabilizing the regional situation.

There is another problem with Iran: namely, it supports terrorism. So, for example, you may believe today that you're celebrating National Liberation Day but in terms of Western doctrine what you're celebrating is the success of terrorism and, in fact, the success of aggression against Israel in southern Lebanon... Iranian aggression... So you're celebrating Iranian aggression against Israel in southern Lebanon and its success, and celebrating terrorists and terrorism (quoting Israeli Labor Party high official Ephraim Sneh). It's not Liberation Day.

You have to understand how to interpret these matters properly if you want to enter into the framework, of imperial discourse. This is not just the US and Israel. …

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