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Readings Week 15 Snow: Chapter 7 Pivotal States and Iran
PRECIS
Their ability to influence global politics may not compare favourably to the capability of
the most powerful countries, they nonetheless are consequential within the range of
their influence
Regional pivotal state’s interests are likely to be more important to it within a region
than the major power’s interests in that region are to it
The pivotal state’s power is more proximate and may be easier to apply than that of the
major power
Iran is arguably the pivotal state in the Middle East as a whole
The world’s second oldest existing state has been a major power
Iran views itself as the most consequential state in the region believes its interests are
of paramount importance in the region and even beyond
Iran constitutes the single most important single state challenge to the US
Milani considers itself as an indispensable regional player
IRAN: A PIVOTAL STATES
PHYSICAL SETTING
Largest physical state in the Middle East and the world’s second largest state in he area
with a Muslim majority
Most populous Muslim state and one of the world’s leading exporters
Iran’s physical location also contributes to its pretension as a pivotal power
Region’s petroleum moves to the marketplace
Iran is located strategically beside the oil rich Arab states of the Persian Gulf
Good relations with the regime in Tehran are important for both countries
IRAN IS A UNIQUE STATE
Iran as the second oldest continuous state in the world
Core population is mostly Persian
The relationship between the Persians and the Arabs has been antagonistic
90% of its population belongs to the Shiite sect of Islam
Common Shiite roots give Iran an automatic interest in how Iraq emerges from the
American occupation
THE EVOLUTION OF CONTEMPORARY IRANIAN POLITICS
REIGN OF SHAH
The major theme and goal of the Shah’s rule was the restoration of Iran the Peacock
Empire to its former glory
White Revolution, a series of economic and political reforms that underpinned Iran’s
transformation
Shah introduced reforms that led to a massive movement of people from the
countryside to urban centers like Tehran that were unequipped to absorb the influx and
undercut much of the traditional power of the religious community
Iran was one of the worst offenders in the human rights area, and the administration
came down especially hard on the Shah’s government
1979 when the Shah and his family left the country on what was officially a foreign visit
but which everyone recognized was an abdication
The Iranian revolution was both a religious and political event
Revolt of the Shiite majority, led by the religious hierarchy that is a feature of Shia but
not Sunni Islam mass of discontented peasants saw westernization and modernization
as both the vehicle of their repression and as an abomination before Allah
Their principle vehicle for seizing and consolidating their power was through the actions
of the revolutionary Guards and Courts, originally vigilante bodies who identified
opponents of religious revivalism
For decades the Iranian regime has used anti-Americanism to crush its opponents and
expand its power abroad
Anti-Americanism remains a strong influence-limiting factor in Iranian politics
DEALING WITH IRAN
Its wishes and continues to pursue policies the US opposes
Tehran’s support for terrorism, promote Iranian democracy and human rights; and stop
Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons
THE NUCLEAR WEAPON ISSUE
Deny any intention to develop and possess nuclear weapons and argue that their
program is fully in compliance with international atomic guidelines
Reasons for attaining weapons
- Demonstration of Iran’s place of prominence and matter of prestige
- Deter an American attack on them
- Iran’s eyes on Israel
Antagonism is Iranian creation of and continuing support for Hezbollah, which has the
destruction of the Israeli state as one of its major goals
Ehteshami argues, Israel’s nuclear monopoly could end in rapid proliferation
Iranians are almost unanimous in believing that their country has a sovereign right to
enrich uranium
LIMITS OF POWER
Oil prices stay high, Iranian leaders know that they will face little danger of an
international oil embargo
Military force is not meaningfully available to the US ignoring Iran, that policy change
has yet to bear fruit, thereby reducing the potency of diplomatic tools
No one has benefited more from American blunders in the Middle East than the
conservatives in Iran
The demonstrations, have been seen as evidence of a crisis of legitimacy regarding
theocratic rule
The US remains publicly wedded to the idea of a democratic Iraq and by extension Iran
Us cannot dictate the terms of settlement rather can only seek to broker the interaction
between the other regional actors and pivotal power Iran
CONCLUSION
American power is, irrelevant to ordering its relations with the government in Tehran