By Connor J. Wangler
Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has acted as a thorn in the foot of the Western world. It would seem like the main goal of Iranian leaders is to stand in defiance of everything the United States and its allies want to do, especially when it comes to the Middle East. Many claim that the United States has hit a peak in its global power. Is its relationship with the Islamic Republic representative of this? The Iranians, and several others, would like to think so. Source: Zakaria, The Post-American World, pg. 31
Iran is a member of several international organizations that allows its anti-U.S. stance to be presented on the world stage. It was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945, a founding member of OPEC in 1961, and it joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979. It often uses its membership in these organizations to disrupt the plans of the U.S. and Israel, the U.S.’s main ally in the region.
One such example of this is the situation in Syria. Speaking to Iranian FARS News Agency, Expediency Council Chairman and former President Akbar Rafsanjani said, “Support for Syria and Lebanon should continue since these countries are in the forefront of resistance against Israel.” He then went on to blame the United States for the recent chemical attacks inside Syria. Iran has urged its allies in the UN Security Council, Russia and China, to veto any resolution calling for action against Syria.
Another interesting aspect of Tehran’s defiance towards Washington is the Iranian economy. Despite many years of crippling sanctions place on Iran due to its nuclear program, Iran’s leaders haven’t budged on their energy policies, much to the U.S.’s annoyance. In fact, the Iranian Ambassador to Germany was recently quoted by the Tehran Times as saying, “sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear energy program have failed to achieve their objectives and have rather led Iran to self-sufficiency in oil and gas sectors.” Despite its rhetoric, Iranian oil production and exports have been severely damaged by the sanctions, while U.S. oil production has increased (Source: Bloomberg News).
From a Western perspective, Iran’s identity is one of extreme anti-Americanism and Islamic extremism. As discussed by Manfred Steger, many Westerners associate extremist Islam to be leading a fight against “Westernized” lifestyles. For Iran, this is incredibly accurate; part of the cause of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the 1970s was western influences in Iranian, and specifically Islamic Iranian, life. Source: Steger, Globalization, pg. 126-130
However, in order to offer a more accurate depiction of Iran’s identity, one must delve into its regional power status. As one of the strongest and most populous countries in the middle east, Iran has immense geopolitical power. There is little in the region that goes on without somehow being affected by Iranian interests.
Below is an interesting piece by RussiaToday regarding Iran’s latest push against the U.S., saying that if Damascus comes under attack, it could lead to an all-out war in the region:
- Iran Warns U.S. Against Syria Intervention (huffingtonpost.com)