Ali Asghar Kazemi
(Professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran)

Copyright: (June 6, 2008)

Almost half a century after the historic speech of Martin Luther King Jr. that cost him his life, “wishes come through”! Barak Obama, a black man, who apparently seeks his ancestors’ roots in southern region of Iran (Bushehr), is on his way to the White House as president of the United States. Indeed, the power of democracy can make miracle in an open and free society!

What does this mean for the Islamic regime in Iran? Shall it be happy for this historic change and consider it as the will of God who promised the victory of the oppressed over the arrogant powerful? Can the Islamic regime continue to evade from the chastisement of its defying behavior on the nuclear venture?

Before we let ourselves drawn by the joy of this astonishing event, we should listen to Obama’s speech before the Jewish lobby AIPAC after his victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries, which has all the answers to the above questions. Perhaps, for the first time a presidential candidate took so bold and explicit stance vis-à-vis Israel’s security and survival in the tumultuous Middle East political strata. This is indeed a direct consequence of Iran’s hard-line president’s vicarious statements about Israel during the past years. Obama even went beyond usual political campaign and revealed new intelligence about Iran possessing 150 kg enriched uranium ready to be used in nuclear warheads; a serious allegation that could entail grave consequences.

Obama’s further observations on Iran’s role in the instability of the Middle East, terrorism and the security of Israel bear good witness about my previous comments after the victory of democrats in US Congress:
“Those who believe that democrats’ control of the U.S. Congress in recent mid-term elections will change American political environment in favor of the Islamic government in Iran are either naïve or have no grasp of history. To the contrary, there is enough evidence to support the contention that from now on a necessary cohabitation and bi-partisan approach of democrats with the White House will make things much more difficult for conservative hard-liners in Tehran.”

In another section in the same article I noted that: “Democrats have shown in the past that they are very strict on matters such as human rights, Israel’s security, Palestinian problem and WMD proliferations. On the issue of terrorism they are as much preoccupied as the republicans. They may even venture more risky and malicious plots such as “regime change” if they perceive that this will promote their cause. The previous regime in Iran has been toppled during the democrats.”

Americans are amazing people and know well how to use their constituent power to express their ideas and decide their choices and preferences. Like many nations, they don’t compromise their solidarity on common causes. . This means that they are not prepared to accept humiliation because of mishandling of crisis situations by their leaders. Barak Obama came at an opportune time when America was split on matters of terrorism after September 11, Afghanistan and Iraq. The second term of the republican president, George Bush, is at its final stage. Chances for another republican candidate with military background such as McCain to replace him, is rather slim.

Therefore, we should expect Obama to enter the White House as the next US president, unless, something extraordinary happens in American political and social scenes. I don’t want to speculate on an unexpected event, such as those that happened to the late Martin Luther King Jr., Kennedy brothers etc. But, there is always a foolish racist around the corner that would be tempted to fire a shotgun. This is especially conceivable if Hillary Clinton joins Obama as vice president candidate in order to avoid her constituents to vote for McCain.

With respect to Iran- US relations under Obama, as we have already alluded before, chances of some sort of rapprochement are very meager. Since, we should recognize that the problem of Iran-US entanglement goes well beyond the conventional bilateral relations and party politics. This is to say that in all assessment we shall take into account the issues pertaining to US most close ally in the region, Israel.

In fact, the American foreign policy in the Middle East is intimately tied to Israel’s survival and everything that goes with it. To put it in a more sophisticated strategic context, Israel and its continued existence in the Middle East is an important dependent variable in US strategic schemes, disregard of who and which party is in power in Washington.

Obama’s election as US president could be a potential opportunity to break ices between the two countries. But, this is not an automatic occurrence and needs tactful planning and political will from the two sides. Despite the unpleasant situation that the Americans are now experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would not seem strange that a democrat president in the White House, backed by a strong democrat Congress might become persuaded to settle the Iranian issue by force if necessary.

Therefore, it is safe to suggest that Iranians leaders should watch carefully their future course of actions and avoid any provocation that might push further the democrats towards the republican hard-line policies. They should also be cautious not to fall in a dangerous trap on the naïve belief that U.S. democrats will endorse the Islamic regime and will give it “carte blanche” on the nuclear issue.

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