International relationships are critical in the development of various economies. This arises from the fact that countries depend on each other for various reasons. Growth in the rate of globalization is culminating in an increment in the rate at which countries are becoming integrated. This means that national boundaries are being ‘broken’ to create beneficial relationships. However, countries are faced with a challenge to smooth interaction and integration even as the world becomes a ‘global village’. This arises from the fact that there are differences that exist between countries in terms of religion, politics, cultural organizations, and international policies. An important occasion in the relationship between the US and Iran is the 1979 Revolution. Since the occurrence of the 1979 Iran revolution, the diplomatic relationship between the two countries has been tarnished due to the existence of differences. Several issues necessitated these countries to enter into a conflict. Some of these issues relate to the hostage crisis, the Iraq, Israel, and Afghanistan wars, violation of human rights, and nuclear issues among others.
However, the relationship has been re-established to its original status 30 years ago. Currently, the incumbent United States president has been trying to regain the lost friendship by sending convoys to Tehran for negotiations while Iran has also depicted positive signals implying that at least some positive outcome can be achieved.
Ayatollah Khomeini, an Iranian spiritual leader returned from exile in February of 1979. Even though the Islamic revolution was already underway, it soon solidified with his presence. Khomeini played a significant role in the aggravation of conflict between the United States and Iran.
This arose from his view that the world should be ruled by the world. In addition, he perceived democracy as the root cause of all evil. The United State government promoted principles related to democracy which were in contrast with those held by the Iranian government. After his death, there was a vast spread of terrorist ideologies. On the fourth of November, Iranian radicals attacked the United States embassy and took hostage several US citizens including staff, diplomats, guards, and other personalities.
This initiated conflict between the two countries that lasted for about 30 years. These years were characterized by confrontations and clashes which reduced in 2002 after the then US president, George W. Bush announced Iran to be a part of the “Axis of Evil”. This was about the three nations which were being accused of maliciously pursuing nuclear weaponry. According to Bush, Iran was aggressively pursuing weapons and promoting terror whereas few individuals repressed the majority’s hopes of attaining freedom.
Currently, since the change in the United States administration, President Obama has been sending a friendly signal to Iran. The United States greatly supported Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi throughout his power particularly with the coup against Mohammad Mosadeq in 1953. After a considerable duration in leadership, Iranians developed a perception of Shah being a very oppressive and very cruel leader. This greatly aggravated Iranian Islamists. The religious groups became active in developing these ideas.
When the United States decided to take the ailing Shah for treatment, the Islamists radicals were more aggravated. On 4th November 1979, these Islamists invaded the US embassy and took some hostages. More so, the student actions of climbing walls stimulated more reaction by the Islamists leading to the holding of the hostages for 444 days.
Objectives of the study
This paper focuses on a few efforts and near-attempt that both United States and Iran have used as they try to talk at bilateral and multilateral meetings about numerous matters. To attain this, several specific objectives were considered as outlined below.
- To analyze the effects of the 1979 Iranian revolution on the relationship between Iran and the United States.
- An exploration of the major events that followed the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
- To analyze the current relationship between the United States and Iran.
The study also sought to answer the following specific questions that are in line with the stipulated objectives.
- What was the effect of the 1979 Iranian Revolution on the relationship between the United States and Iran?
- What were the major events which followed the 1979 Iranian Revolution?
- What is the current nature of the relationship existing between Iran and the United States?
In conducting the study, a review of past literature on various issues related to the 1979 Iranian revolution is used. Through the review, the researcher could gain insight into issues related to the relationship between Iran and United States.
The Iranian Revolution
The activities that the United States and Iran were involved in before 1979 were crucial for the incidences that happened that year. They built up to explode in 1979 after the Iranians had been very tolerant for considerable duration (Bayat 31). In 1953, the US was already meddling in the efforts of Iran, and this hegemonic role was not considered fair at all but viewed as a way of playing with the sovereignty of the country- Iran. The US was actively involved in the coup that dramatically ousted Mohammad Mossadeq out of power though he was the democratically elected leader and reinstated Mohammad Reza as the Shah once more (Gasiorowski and Byrne 262). Nationalization was meant to give Iranians an opportunity to benefit rather than privatization for the West to make money (Ghorbani et al 299). Britain asked the US to assist in the coup.
President Truman declined the attempts of Britain seeking to be involved in the coup. Nevertheless, when Eisenhower came to power as the head of state, the UK became part of the planned coup. The CIA was ordered to embark on Operation Ajax, a secret maneuver to battle Iran. This power shift was very beneficial to the United States because of this, the US gained power over Iranian oil. In addition, British production was redistributed to the firms from the United States. Approximately 40% of Iranian oil was owned by a few American and British companies. The Iranians did not enjoy the new governance. The United States supplied a lot of arms to Iran and managed to keep shah in power for two decades. This period was critical to Iran since it changed very drastically to become Morden and some people in the regime could not adjust as fast (Ghorbani et al 299).
United States president constantly criticized the way Iran was handling human rights. Since the Shah was depending on the United States for political support, he responded to Carter’s requests and began embracing liberal policies (Halliday 42). This enabled the US to offer strategic assistance thus enabling Iran and United States alliance to contain the influence it had in the region.
The Iranians nonetheless were fed up with the oppression and corruption in government which the Iranians supposed that was inextricably connected to the relationship that existed between the United States and Iran (Brumberg 81). Most Iranians had their hopes vested in Ayatollah Khomeini as the guide who would lead them against the Shah. According to Khomeini, the shah was leading a government that was corrupt, evil, and illegitimate. Khomeini succeeded Shah’s leadership.
Iranian Hostage Crisis
The US and Iran got involved in a serious diplomatic crisis in 1979 when the US diplomats were taken hostage from the US embassy in Iran. A group of students and militia personnel came up strongly in support of the Iranian revolution. Generally, the Iranians were very unhappy with the support that the US was given to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The peak of the conflict was in 1979 as a result of Shah going to the US for treatment. Following increased campaigning by the prominent US Shah supporters, the president finally accepted admit him in the US (Ghorbani et al 303). It rekindled the memory of the 1953 coup in which the US was greatly involved (Bayat 31). The Iranians feared that the US could work out another coup to reinstate the Shah. On the other hand, the students seemed to be fighting back the US for having been involved in ousting Mossadeq out of power (Gasiorowski and Byrne 262).
The US responded by engaging in political, financial, and diplomatic deals to offer solutions especially the release of the hostages, however, the efforts did not bring out any positive results. Carter attempted to have a military invasion as a contingency measure, a move that greatly affected the US-Iran relationship.
What the Iranians wanted was Shah to be brought back home to face the law. Jimmy Carter, the president of the US at the moment rebuffed the request and even went ahead and froze all the assets that Iran held in the US (Rasler 152). With time, the two nations began having negotiations later the same years after the death of Shah (Ghorbani et al 303). The US hostages were later led free in January 1981 shortly after President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.
Several diplomatic attempts did not bear fruits and Iran was condemned by the international community. Pressure began mounting on Iran for it to release US hostages and the only little success that was noted from diplomatic negotiations was the release of 13 women and African Americans. This was as a result of the Palestinian Liberation Organization initiative (Rasler 152). Regardless of the pressure from the nation’s worldwide pressuring Iran, the hostages were still held captive for about five months. After informing the Americans of the failed mission, Carter was punished politically. With all the failures of the rescue missions, no negotiations were initiated rather the two administrations seemed to be overwhelmed by the escalating crisis (Brumberg 123).
It’s interesting to note that with the change of the US regime, the hostages were released. This happened just a few minutes after Ronald Reagan assumed office. It’s also imperative to note that even with a positive response by Iranians, the US-Iran relationship did not get revived back to the earlier affable relation (Halliday 42). The negotiations had been initiated following the election of Reagan, with some help from Algeria on 20th January 1981. The US government had to give out almost 8 billion dollars that were held in terms of Iranian assets (Ghorbani et al 303). To gain immunity against lawsuits arising from such incidents, the arrangement was made.
Carter’s strategy was to paralyze Iran to make sure that its economy would collapse and cause it to release the hostages. To do this, oil imports from Iran were stopped and assets were frozen in the United States banks. All trade with Iran was cut except humanitarian products like a foodstuff. Economic sanctions failed to convince Iran to release hostages so other diplomatic measures were to be sought (Ghornani 361).
Former hostages have since sued Iran for infringement of their rights and perpetration of terrorism acts. The 1996 act offered them the right to sue a foreign nation for supporting terrorism activity (Bayat 31). By default when Iran failed to offer defense in 2000. However, the state department has dismissed the case citing the reason that it would adversely impact the negotiation of international agreements. The Iranian hostage was a very pivotal incident to ever occur in the history of American and Iran interactions.
The US hostages were freed shortly after Ronald Reagan took office. Despite this move, even during the term of President Reagan did not indicate any considerable improvement between the US and Iran. There were several anti-terrorism activities conducted in Iran by Hezbollah in 1983 (Halliday. 42).
According to the US Supreme Court, the conflict simply showed that Iran was supporting terrorism. After Hezbollah, the US exported weapons to Iran illegally (Ghornani 361). The profits that the country got from this unlawful trade were used for supporting Contras in Nicaragua (Parsa 78).
The gap between the US and Iran escalated due to the differences in opinion and ideas of governances especially foreign policy (Halliday 42). Even though the events from the early 1980s had already hurt the relationship, still other bad occurrences took place to which further worsened the relationship. Some of these relationships related to the tanker war which involved Iran and Iraq. In 1984, Iraq launched an attack on Iranian tankers and its vital oil terminal which was located at Khark Island. In 1987, Kuwait requested the United States to protect its fleet. As a result, the United States was directly dragged into war. In 1987, United States’ warship started patrolling the Persian Gulf. On May 17, 1987, an Iraq aircraft attacked a USS Stark after mistaking it for an Iranian warship. Thirty-seven United States sailors died in the attack. To ensure that such an incident does not occur again, the Saudi Arabian, the United States, and Iraq forces collaborated in patrolling the Persian Gulf. In 1988, Americans accidentally shot down an Iranian commercial airline. This further aggravated the situation which was characterized by tension. The commercial airplane was brought down by USS Vincennes in Iranian space. About 290 Iranians were killed. Iran accused the United States of supporting Iraq. In response to the attack, Iran sowed the Persian Gulf region with numerous anti-ship mines which resulted in several ships being hit in 1988. In retaliation, the United States destroyed several Iranian warships thus openly demonstrating its support for Iraq. Even though America compensated Iran about $ 6.8 million for the damages, there was no official apology offered by the US to Iran for these damages (Ghornani 361).
The US-Iran continued getting worse when the Iraqi invasion of Iran found US backing. For the eight years that the war lasted, the US provided arms. Saddam Hussein rose to power at a very crucial moment, in the region as he became the chairman of the Revolutionary command council. The US was getting anxious to get similar prospects. On the other hand, Saddam was interested in expanding his territory (Rasler152). He invested a lot in the military. With rich oil resources, Iraq was becoming very powerful since it was also a large exporter of weapons from the Soviet Union. Since Iran was inaccessible following the removal of the shah, the Iraqi invasion in 1980 then came as a solution for the US. With the reason of settling border issues, Iraq offered a solution to two problems. The first was to fight military powers in the region and revenge against Iran. In a very short period, the major military powers in the region, neither of which was allied to the United States were involved in a serious conflict that exhausted each of them (Rasler152). Even though Iraq and the Soviet Union were very close allies. Iraq still needed the support of the US to fight Iran and the support is given by the US was massive (Halliday 44). Saddam states that his country and the US had re-established diplomatic relationships that had broken in 1967.
Iraq was so important to the US in fighting Iran that when the US president sent an American emissary to Iraq to discuss the arrangement that would enable fighting terrorism as Iran was then called, Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defense was sent there in person leading the delegation. Iraq was scrapped off the terrorism supporter list. The attempts by the US Congress to put it back were faced with much opposition (Rasler 152). The most crucial is the blocking of the attempts by the international community to condemn Iraq from using chemical weapons. The US was the only nation in the UN Security Council that voted to oppose the move in 1986. Later, this atrocity was believed to be a sign of the US involvement in chemical weapons. Iraq was supplied with resources from the US allies among them France and Britain which supplied Uranium. The US then offered satellite information about the way Iranian troops were organizing themselves. The Defense Intelligence Agency personnel claim that the US even prepared some detailed battle plans that were used by Iraqi troops. The US assistance saw Iraq capture the Fao peninsula in 1988. Considering that Iraqi greatly depended on mustard gas to use during the fights, the US fight against Iraq also used these gases (Ghornani 363). Iran was defeated and even today, it is believed that the attempts that Iran has made towards the production of nuclear weapons are an effort by that nation to re-establish itself as an economic powerhouse in the region even though Iran has constantly defended its stance that then nuclear is only for peaceful reasons.
As hegemony, Iran only has very limited power over the Middle East region especially over Iraq and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Iran still had unresolved issues with other nations in the region including Afghanistan hence it can never dominate the Persian Gulf region, or even attempt the use of military since that would just provoke the rest of the world and more so the united states (Bayat 31).
Iran – Contra Scandal
An antiquated cargo was brought down on the 5th of October in 1986 by a missile in Nicaragua areas (Kaiser 205). The only survivor from the plane was held in custody for several hours. Later, the office of the vice president was contacted by El Salvador operatives. This was aimed at notifying them that their plane had gone missing. Another ground operative was given a coded message to warn them (Halliday 44; Parsa 78). The CIA informed the ground operative that there was a need for damage control. However, Eugene Hasenfus, the lone survivor and captive could not be reached in time by the rescue teams. In a short period, he was already placed on television to narrate how the United States had supported a secret re-supply plan for the contras and revealed its perceptible ties to the topmost people in the Reagan administration (Parsa 78; Kaiser 205). Lieutenant Colonel Oliver who was representing the National Security Council and leading the Hitherto-secret contra-activities was sent a message about what was happening while in the middle of sensitive deals with Iranian government officials in Europe. The deal was part of the other major NSC secret operations (Ghornani 365). This was to offer arms to hostages in Iran. This was making a farce on the exceedingly publicized maxim of the US’s regime led by Reagan that it would never make any concede to terrorists’ ideas (Rasler154). Oliver North then stopped the dealings and returned to Washington DC where he was coming to manage an urgent situation in Central American. A month later, more secrets came out with the Lebanese weekly paper revealing the trips made by Oliver North and McFarlane Robert in May the same year to negotiate with Iran (Halliday 44). The story was picked by media houses in the west and in a very short period the White House was submerged in a serious political crisis.
This big scandal exploded on 25 November 1986 when President Reagan admitted that the finances which were obtained from the Covert arms deal in Iran were diverted to purchase weapons for the US-supported Contra insurgents in Nicaragua (Kaiser 205). For many people in America, the two cases of trading arms to get back their hostages in Iran and offering help to the unlawful paramilitary contras in America were not related in any way and were carried out by opposite ends of the world (Parsa 78). Reagan’s statement was a shocking revelation when he stated that the two incidences were intertwined. The then-attorney general of the United States, Edwin Meese revealed a diversion memo in which Oliver North had written to indicate the details of the scheme to float cash from the arms sold to Iran and then finance contras thus violating the congressional ban which made the move an offense (Parsa 78). The ban also called the Boland amendment was very important and its violation led to the dismissal of Oliver North and the NSC advisor Poindexter who was aware of the deal and had approved it.
More evidence produced by the attorney general later revealed that the North and Poindexter were just some of the many people in the larger group within the regime that were directly involved in the scandals by misleading the United States Congress. Many foreign governments were also involved in the scandal assisting the US in Iran and operating the contra deals (Rasler 154). These countries included Israel, China, Panama, Taiwan, and Costa Rica among others.
The congressional hearings were not able to address the inner implications of the scandal beyond dubious administration dealings and individual responsibility (Parsa 84). A bone of contention emerged between the executive and the legislature about handling foreign policy issues especially the ability of the White House to handle things and govern by “of the Books” design and without the scrutiny of the congress. The major issues of concern were, to overturn the foreign policy by inclining towards covert action and the consequences of excessive secrecy concerning the foreign policy (Rasler 154; Kaiser 205). Another issue of concern was congress, could it be able to place effective checks for the powers of the president even when the underlying situation was a highly-charged political situation (Kaiser 208). Are Americans ready to be involved in offering informed thoughts and debating about the operations of the government?
Only the big pictures reveal what the contra scandal was all about and not only a few incidences that the congress based on in their investigation. In most accounts, the period after the cases of Shah, the relationship between the US and Iran took a divergent role. Iran was actively involved in seeking superior weapons from the west especially during the Iraq-Iran clash in early 1980 (Parsa 78). Even before that incident, Iran wanted to be given back the assets among them a lot of weapons were frozen by the United States following the Tehran US embassy incidence. Since the arms were made in the US, Iran greatly depended on the US for spare parts. There are several cases documented in the court system charging the Americans and some non-Americans of Illegal exports and or attempts to sell firearms to Iran.
At escalated US-sponsored ideas, customs interrupted the sale of weapons to Khomeini (Kaiser 211). The approved sale of weapons to Iran was just one of the many lists that Iran was ordering from all over the world. The only issue with this kind of deal is that it was approved by very senior officials (Rasler 154). Despite the Tehran incident, Israel was a big ally to the US through it later started dealing with Iran about weaponry independently. Tel Aviv has had a very long history of dealing in arms with Iran by supplying Shah.
On the whole, issue related to the Contra scandal, the NSC made serious assumptions which seemed very good for the deal. First, the president gave the direction for the operation explicitly. Second, there was continued support for these rebels even though the congress had given a direction ban of the deal (Katzman 39). Thirdly, the NSC was able to institute a net secretive operative and organizations to support the secret contra re-supply scheme beyond the purview of Congress (Parsa 79). The connection of many corporations in Panama assisted in recruiting and paying for flights to deliver deadly supplies and ultimately coaxed the diversion of finances from Iran to contras, this act was focused on so much during the survey.
The twin operation did not just come from nowhere. With reaction to the circumstances, these policies erupted into full-fledged, covert operations directed. At this presentation, several of the urgent issues regarding the Iran -Contra incidence remain unsettled. Several parties to the scandal were convicted and others pledged guilty or treaty. There are groups of independent counsels who are now investigating any possible wrongdoing.
The 1988 Persian Gulf Tension
1988 was also dramatic as far as the relationship between America and Iran is concerned. The US warship submerged an Iranian warship and in the process also destroyed some two Persian Gulf platforms close to Strait. This act was responding to the mine attack against Samuel Roberts of the US. This was an American frigate (Pollack 49). Following the incident, another Iranian commercial jet was shot down accidentally by US Navy. According to the US claims, they had mistaken the plane with another fighter jet that had been seen as a threat. The US failed to apologize for that mistake (Rasler 154).
The US president directed the striking of Iranian military Target. The military attacked several Iranian oil platforms at Sassan and Sirri. The action was carried out in rejoinder to the Iranian continuation of mine-laying in deep-sea waters that are international waters as well as the attack of the Samuel Roberts. This followed continuous warning of the government of Iran about the dangerous acts indicating that they had very dire consequences (Pollack 49). The US government stated that it had taken action following extensive consultation with congress and also after seeking guidance from the friendly governments. The actions were only intended to deter more mining by Iran. They were also claimed to be an equal measure of what Iran had used on the US and other infringements of human rights (Dyke 77). These actions also constituted legal applications of the US intrinsic right of self-defense.
Ten US men were killed in Samuel B. Roberts. In retaliation, the US destroyed oil platforms that served as Iranian intelligence services. One was brought down by the frigates Simpson while the second was destroyed by helicopters. A few minutes after the attack, another Iranian frigate was brought down. With this defeat and serious setback on land with the war of fighting Iraq, Iranian leaders were forced to seek better connections from the west (Pollack 49). The Iranian leader, Khomeini, and the speaker agreed that there was a need for the government to pursue a fresh foreign policy that would be able to defuse tensions that were building in the Persian Gulf (Brumberg 123). The United States, on the other hand, viewed resolution of the conflict in the Persian Gulf as an improvement of its political and democratic stance hence an enhanced relationship with its allies in the Middle East and other countries in the world.
The US has constantly stated that it does not wish to get involved in a military confrontation with Iran. However, the administration of Iran should still be aware that to safeguard itself, its ships, and its interest against unprovoked attacks. The US provided the necessary military resources and even seeks for assistance from its allies (Brumberg 124). In 1988, President Reagan insisted that the US was committed to seeking a lasting solution to the tensions in the Middle East region. The use of the military is just an effort to help innocent people who suffer because of vicious conflicts (Pollack 49). The US, therefore, urged Iran to accept and adopt the Security Council solutions that are proposed and to acquiesce to its speedy and comprehensive execution.
Though the conflict in the Persian Gulf had begun in 1980, the more aggressive strategy was only employed in 1988 to put more pressure on Iran. This would in turn put more pressure on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (Alamdari 1286). Whereas the US remained bound by the stringiest terms of engagement that barred the U.S warships from rescuing neutral ships facing attacks in the Persian Gulf, the new defense secretary Carlucci and Crowe agreed that there was not only a need of harassing Iran but it was also getting inevitable (Alamdari 1286). The clashes soared when the frigate from Iran’ Sahand nearly crashed with US’s ship Samuel Roberts. There were three mines ahead of Roberts and when it tried to reverse, it hit a fourth mine exploding with a great blast. As a result, ten sailors died in the explosion (Alamdari 1286). This gambling tactic was effective and was evidenced by a reduction in the number of attacks conducted by the Iranian attacks in the Persian Gulf.
The daylong standoff was a disastrous event for Iranians. Having blown all of Iran’s main platforms, Iran was not capable of using airborne surveillance over the region. As a result, its operation became a blind trial in facing the US navy. This was a very bad move that led to their humiliating loss (Pollack 49). After the operation, Iran withdrew from engaging in confrontation with the US military since it had lost the most competent ships. The resultant effect was that the IRGCN psyche was diminished. In addition, small boat attacks decreased significantly within two months period. In June, the Iranian soldiers were driven back to the border by their Iraqi counterparts. There was one last clash between the United States warships and the IRGCN boats due to the over-aggressiveness of US Vincennes. During the encounter, an Iranian air-flight was shot down killing 290 people. Having lost the battle to Iraq and then believing that the US had deliberately shot their plane, Khomeini decided to call a cessation of hostilities, and thus the eight-year-old disagreement was terminated (Brumberg 125).
The Economic Sanctions and Iran Responses
When the Clinton administration took over, the US-Iran relationships still did not improve. President Clinton imposed sanctions on Middle East countries. To attain this, United States companies and foreign subsidiaries were restricted from doing business with Iran (Ramazani 167). In 1996, there was a law amendment about the Iran-Libyan sanction where non-American corporations were denied the right to invest more than $20 million within the Iran oil industry (Kurzman108).
The sanctions on Iran did not begin with the Clinton administration but rather have a very long history (Dyke 77).
During the Carter administration, the invasion of the US embassy by the Iranian students in Tehran stirred conflict between the two nations (Ramazani 167). After ten days following hostage of US diplomats, Carter again employed executive order 12170 blocking all the Iranian property within the jurisdiction of the US those property owned by the government itself and the central bank (Amirahmadi 79). US exports were also restricted and this ban also affected financial transactions. Another order restricted all imports from Iran to the US and also barred US citizens from touring the country or doing any form of financial deals (Kurzman108). When the hostages were released, the US canceled previous executive orders previously issued except freezing Iran’s property within US’s command. The US pledged not to meddle in the affairs of Iran principally domestic matters.
After the failed attempts by Carter to handle the Iranian crisis, Reagan easily won the presidential elections. Americans hoped that he would be better placed to handle the matter. His regime was not in a good relationship with Iran either. Following the 1983 bomb attacks on the US embassy and also the naval invasion in Lebanon, President Reagan had to take action (Amirahmadi 79). His administration made a declaration in 1984. To this effect, Iran automatically became ineligible for several types of US assistance. After one year the administration suspended finances from an international organization, especially the amount assigned to Iran. In 1988, the executive directors from the US were supposed to vote against giving Iran loans from the international finances (Kurzman108). United States banned Iran from obtaining firearms or even their spare parts under the US firearms export regulation law.
Another executive order was issued to ban the importation of crude oil and other important imports as well. This is because Iran was implicated in supporting terrorism at a very high level like being a national policy. Other accusations included aggressive and illegal acts against the US flagships in the Persian Gulf or goods even from other non-aggressive countries involved in peaceful trade in international waters (Pollack 49). President Bush’s senior regime came with not much difference since it was during this time that the Iran-Iraq firearm non-proliferation statute was passed into law. This law covered provisions about dual-use items which could be improvised for use for military reasons (Amirahmadi 79). Iran was specifically included in this law because the US felt that Iran was a strong factor in the production and distribution of mass destruction weapons. A report by the criminal investigation agency had indicated that Iran had allocated about $ 2 billion for developing mass destruction weapons.
When President Clinton came to power, the bilateral relationship between the United States and Iran worsened (Kurzman108). The reasons for the worsening of the situation were due to;
1. Disintegration of the powerful soviet union thus leaving the US as the sole superpower. Since many countries were not actively involved in fighting communist ideologies and were no longer essential, other issues like human rights concerns, regional problems, and weapons then took center stage. The US then dominated the fight by taking bigger political risks considering that there was no significant opposition (Amirahmadi 79).
2. When the Soviet Union collapsed, this in effect acted as a signal that the bipartisanism that the United States was involved in about foreign policy had been wrecked.
3. In 1994, the House of Congress was dominated by republicans thus raising concerns about the sanctions against the detested foreign nations. This is a means of calming down powerful ‘pressure groups’ in various constituencies. Clinton had a very different view of foreign policy as compared to other regimes (at least when he got to power) and seemed willing to support the sanctions that were imposed by Congress to win their support on domestic matters (Houghton 118). Clinton was also easy to appease as long as the sanction law was going to have authority to waive vested in the president.
Clinton’s regime considered sanctions less costly compared to other alternatives especially means like foreign military intervention (Houghton 118). By that time, the United States was becoming insular following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and many congressmen proposing sanctions did not have a very vivid understanding of the outside world beyond North America (Kurzman109). They, therefore, prefer viewing in plain black and white – good against bad. Rather than considering the entire understanding of all the complexities involved in the whole world.
The labor unions do not show increased concern and opposition to the sanctions as long as the impact on employment was negligible. Farmers, in general, oppose sanctions but the government has invented ways on compensating them in other means and the international oil firms have very little influence on congress as it is often perceived domestically and overseas (Amirahmadi 81).
From the 1990s moving on, US’s unilateral sanctions turned somewhat heavier as a result of the new perspective that the country assumed regarding foreign policy. The sanctions did not only affect companies from the US but also the foreign companies that are closely related to the US. The Escalation of the sanctions during the Clinton regime has made other nations very reluctant to acquiesce to multilateral sanctions due to the fear of paying a heavy price for the US’s domestic political problems (Houghton 118).
President Clinton gave an executive order 129657, to ban the United States from contributing to the development of the oil resources in Iran on the 15th march of 1995. This was only ten days following the signing of a $ 1 billion deal to build up Sirri A and E mines by Conoco. It was presumed that selecting Conoco, Iran was sending a positive signal to the US to show is the will to improve their relationship with the US. Congress continued putting more pressure on the president and in two months, the president again issued another executive order 12959 to expand the previous one to incorporate a total ban on any form of trade or investment in Iran (Kurzman109). This also saw Iran get declared as a bizarre danger to state security, the foreign policy, and the financial system of the US (Houghton 118). In its defense, the United States government argued that it had deemed it necessary to execute those orders because Iran was getting involved in issues to do with international terror, not to mention the development of WMD (weapons of mass destruction). The execution of the stern measures against Iran by Clinton forms part of the ‘Dual Containment’ strategy by his government aimed at tackling issues concerning Iran and Iraq (Houghton 119). The reason for implementing the dual containment tactic was to isolate those two nations. Then making stringent strains under which they operate and instigate break-up and slowly mellow their strength (Gause 56). Ardent supporters of the US gave up a lot of plans in the Middle East due to the US influence (Kurzman109). On its part, Germany decided to comply with the policy that the United States had executed.
The 1996 sanctions against Libya and Iran were also characteristic of the US-Iran relations. Clinton came under pressure to take action against Iran after the congress dominated by republicans wanted to humiliate the president and were tactfully inciting a link with the America Israel Public Affairs team which is the major lobby organization for the Jewish in Washington (Amirahmadi 83). First being that Iran was implicated in supporting terrorism against Israel as far as the bombing perpetrated by Hamas was concerned and also the activities of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad from 1994 (Alamdari 1286). The attacks took a notch higher in 1995 and resulted in the victory of the Israeli premier Netanyahu over the other strong candidate, Mr. Peres (Moaveni 84). Furthermore, Israeli intelligence had notified America that Iran was in the process of obtaining nuclear raw materials and machinery for developing nuclear weapons. It also revealed some reasons to worry about Russian plans of helping Iran with the completion of the national nuclear power reactor to be constructed in Bushehr – The same one that the US pressured Germans to stop building.
It was the influence of the AIPAC that got the government moving. This group lobbied for comprehensive sanctions against Iran to include secondary terms against foreign nations that seek to venture into the oil industry in Iran (Moaveni 84). This instigated rivalry from conservative republicans and Clinton’s regime concerning Iran. Clinton was faced with a lot of pressure to introduce a law that would allow sanctions on Iran to avoid a more restrictive statute that was introduced by the New York senator, A D’Amato (Kurzman109). He was already assured of support from a majority of the senators. Despite having implemented stern measures against Iran in 1995, the US senate again created a law to enforce more sanctions against Iran. This time around Libya was also included in the 1996 sanctions. Libya found itself in the mix because of the Lockerbie bombs incidence. The law was passed with no opposition in both houses and this revealed how little influence the international firm had on issues concerning the Middle East (Moaveni 84). The bill that was finally implemented excluded a few of the severest elements like the prohibition of the importation of products from sanctioned foreign companies and the barring of admission into that US of the senior officers of foreign nations that invest in Iran (Kurzman109).
AIPAC took an active role in the process. An AIPAC stated that then congress had involved them in every step that they took. The reason was to make a bill that would reduce the capability of Iran to export oil and natural gas and hence rebuff finances for expansion of weapons of mass destruction and hold up international terrorism. The sanctions of the ILSA were crafted so that all the sanctions fall in the power of the US government. For instance, denied access to the US financial markets. This denial of access to the US meant that spares and other equipment would be hard to obtain.
The bill left some allowance for the president to waive these sanctions under the statute – ILSA. If the offending company’s mother nation had agreed to implement serious measures (also economic) to deter Iran’s activities that support terrorism. Acts like the acquisition of mass destruction weapons or when the president could establish that waiving the sanctions would serve the interests of the National security.
Some changes were made to the moderates of placing sanctions in the congress. Senators Hamilton and Lugar recommended that the decree must give future directions and put in place automatic an expiry date say two years or so. The law would demand the president assesses that situation and find out the likelihood that the sanctions proposed would achieve noteworthy confirmed foreign policy or national security aims within the sensible period (Kurzman109).
When President Bush and his vice president designed their strategy, they had in mind that unilateral sanctions were not effective and very discriminatory against firms from America. Several senior officials in the Bush administration were very outspoken particularly opposing unilateral sanctions. This implied that Bush would readily lift the ban especially when the ILSA would expire in 2001. More concern came up and AIPAC was worried about the future since Colin Powell stated in his confirmation speech that their difference with Iran should not supersede the need to interrelate, whether in more usual commerce or increased negotiation.
The utmost shock was when 2001 Cheney’s report on energy indicated that sanctioning was a better means of fighting terrorism and searching global security. Whereas the new regime was looking for new policies, the bubbly AIPAC was fighting for the renewal of these sanctions. The cited reasons included Iran having developed new and powerful missiles; still supporting Hamas and Palestine. Also critical was the declaration statement against Israel where some Jewish were accused of spying.
The objective of AIPAC by the year 2001 was to renew the sanctions against Iran and Libya and this way, they claimed that they would be able to deny Iran the power to support international terrorism and finance weapons of mass destruction. Despite the augmented pressure from AIPAC, the Bush administration responded very slowly (Kurzman109).
In June 2001, there was an extension of the sanctions which showed that the Bush regime was not ready to confront the congress. Congress gave so much support to the idea of extending the sanctions and in August, President Bush accented to the extension proposal and thus turned it into law. The final version was allowed room to create some little changes for the future and also the termination of the law following the president’s recommendation. When accenting to the bill, Bush insisted that the sanction needed to be reviewed often. Since the September 11 incidence, and the terming of Iran as ‘Axis of Evil’, the status of the country could not change very soon (Heardstveit and Bonham 422).
The European Union left the US no other alternative but a waiver of the companies from EU nations (Heardstveit and Bonham 422). The US was then left to apply its policies to other nations like Canada and China among others.
There are several impacts that the sanctions against Iran and Libya had on the US and other economies of the world. The economic loss was so much since business opportunities were lost. The sanctions intended to deny Iran accessing foreign capital and machinery to maintain and expand oil production, hence the capital to perpetrate terrorism and weapons.
Iran’s Reactions to US sanctions
For over two decades, the United States has been actively involved in imposing sanctions on Iran in attempts to restrict its economic progress in the post-revolutionary era (Kavoossi 71). With time, America’s foreign policy has selectively aimed at Iran particularly oil since this is the major item of trade from Iran though it is restricted in terms of non-US firms dealing in Iranian oil products (Kurzman109). The current sanctions over Iran have stopped all the US-Iran trade for the first time.
Iran has been causing the United States administration since 1979. The Islamic revolution was the major cause of the fallout (Alamdari, 2005, 1287). The relationship since then has been mainly of military confrontation, callous allegations, and sanctioning (Mafi 99). In reaction to the economic sanctions imposed by the US, Iran has, in turn, applied various strategies that in most cases involved an element of the domestic and regional political situation at the moment (Alamdari1288). These strategies have been controlled by the type of imposed trade restrictions. Hence Iran’s policies have not been consistent for the whole period (Petrossian 145). The period after 1979 can be categorized into four phases;
The first is the revolution and the war between Iran and Iraq. This period ranges between the years 1979 and 1988. It was also during this time that some Americans were taken captive at the US embassy (Alamdari 1288). This has hence been characterized by a situation of political and trade segregation, made easy by the numerous trade sanctions.
Secondly is the post-war rebuilding period, 1989-1992. This period involved the attraction of international technology and venture, nurturing partnerships for developing the nation’s infrastructure, and easing the restrictions. This is the time that resulted in these sanctions being eased (Alamdari 1288). Third, the dual containment and renewing of trade restrictions, between 1993 and 1995. at the beginning of 1993, the Clinton administration implemented several restrictive measures against trading with Iran as one of the tactics in dual containment strategy that were aimed at curbing the economic progress of Iran and Iraq (Pollack 52). During this time, Iran was able to strengthen bilateral relations with other nations in the region by use of several trade agreements. Fourth, the Iran-Libya restrictions and current period ranging from 1996 to date reveal that US and Iran can only come to a consensus in Iran is going to publicly declare stopping nuclear venture and the US apologizing for its deal in Iran.
There was a dual containment strategy that was focused on Iran and Libya. American firms were restricted from investing in the Iranian oil sector and also Libyan oil. Even though these sanctions were temporarily set to slow down the foreign investment in Iran, they got very little support from the international community (Gause 56). The extraterritorial nature of these sanctions received a challenge from European Union and the Far East nations (Gibney 85). Following the end of the conflict in 1988 and the unsteadiness of global oil markets in the mid-1980s, expanding non-oil trade exportation became the main focus. From the 1990s and the eventual disintegration of the USSR, Iranian then focused on creating regional partners to trade with, not only with the individual states from the Union but also other neighbors to the east and west (Kavoossi 71). Such long relations have become important in the recent past as a way of countering US economic sanctions which specifically aim at the oil sector.
After the revolution, the trade between US and Iran dropped drastically and the one-time number one partner in trade with Iran, the US broke off the relations. Nonetheless, in 1979 incidence with the slogan ‘down-with-America’ the ambassadorial ties worsened and thus subsequently affected trade (Kavoossi 71).
The first official sanction was imposed in 1980 and all the exports to Iran were banned. Some US allies complied with the measure though it was short-lived. Algiers accord in 1981 saw the sanctions lifted (Kavoossi 71). There were several cases involving the US and Iran’s navy conflicts. The sanctions that were implemented during this period resulted in a lot of re-alignment in the Iranian trade associations (Heardstveit and Bonham 422). Moreover, since oil was the product adversely affected, Iran decided to seek diversification of its trading products. In this effort, Iran avoided involving pre-revolution partners from the west like France, the UK, and Germany and even some eastern countries allied to the US like Japan. At that moment, Tehran strongly believed that the US attempts to stop trade between Iran and other western nations was very crucial during its conflict with Iraq (Khan 56). There were plans hatched to cut the dependence of these nations and another set to establish new relationships based on political and not entirely economic deliberations.
This way, the relationship between Iran and the west diminished almost completely. The 1979 constitutional amendments in Iran gave the government more control over the international business. The private sectors were supposed to attain importing permission from the government to carry on with the business as a consequence, government influence in determining the nature and who to trade with increased to a large extent (Houghton 121).
The influence over international trade was also directed by a chain of discriminatory bilateral accords. For instance, the US was traditionally Iran’s main wheat supplier. However, New Zealand and Australia speedily replaced the US. Other products like meat and sugar were supplied by other small European nations including Sweden, Italy, Denmark, and almost the entire eastern bloc nations like Romania, Poland, and Yugoslavia (Mafi 99). Iranian government undertook to create formal associations to limit trade imbalances that had been incited. This was made possible by restricting the number of imports from specified nations like Germany and the UK and a preset export to those nations (Zaretsky 108).
The early periods of the Bush regime were a bit relaxed. In 1989, the United States decided to lift those restrictions that had existed, up to this point. Consequently, the United States government also decided to release assets that had also been frozen, all amounting to nearly $600 million. A limited quantity of crude oil was permitted for trade in the US. During this period (1991), American exporters business was booming as the firms re-established the leading consumers of oil. Most US allies were already doing business openly with Iran.
Being a very prominent member of OPEC, Iran had previously relied on crude oil as a form of revenue from foreign trade (Mossavar-Rahmani 33). Nonetheless, the war with Iraq destroyed major mines. Therefore crude oil and other Petrochemical products production in Iran were spoilt (Zaretsky, 2007, p. 108). The drop in international prices for crude oil in 1986 further deteriorated the oil market and Iran’s reliance on oil had to be addressed (Houghton 121). The companies that showed very strong export potential were expanded significantly. Industries like handmade carpets and fruits were supported by several state programs. Restrictions on these products were relaxed, and the income taxation on non-oil products was cut down (Zaretsky 108). The process of doing all the bureaucratic was simplified to enhance the exports flow. The non-oil products hence increased from 1988 to date.
The dual containment period was marked by a lot of changes because it is at this period that there was a renewal of trade sanctions. Clinton administration focused on Iran and Iraq. Iran weakened after the gulf war and the US set to balance power in the Middle East by destroying Iran, a move to be achieved by trade sanctions (Zaretsky108). To slow down the force of the dual containment plan, Iran tried to offer lucrative contracts to American firms to enhance commerce with the west in the 1990s. The US was hence the fifth biggest supplier and American firms were increasing their purchase of oil from Iran (Mossavar-Rahmani 33). Russia became the leading supplier of combat aircrafts following trade and political agreements. Despite the US concerns, Russia went ahead and started constructing a nuclear reactor.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union facilitated fresh alignments of trade relationships. As a result, there was a strong economic relationship with the independent states from the former Soviet Union. There was an increased regional pattern further by involving India in the shipping business and also fertilizer projects. Trade with UAE increased fivefold (Zaretsky 108).
Other nations that established a close affiliation with Iran included Malaysia, China, and South Africa. Since the creation of diplomatic relations between Iran and China in 1971, the relationship between these two countries has grown strong over the years. Their relationship is mainly based on the energy sphere. China is one of Iran’s strong allies in the United Nations Security Council. By being a permanent member of the council, China is in a position to veto international pressure directed towards Iran (Dorraj and Currier 66). In addition, it supplies various technologies and other forms of assistance to Iran. However, the relationship between the two countries exceeds the energy field. It also incorporates other issues such as shipbuilding, cement plants, and the enhancement of Iran’s airport and other infrastructures. China offers support to Iran about nuclear technology. This is done in exchange for oil (Right Truth para. 4).
The relationship between China and Iran regarding energy requirements is enhanced by the fact that China is a growing economy with a high demand for oil and gas to support the growth. This means that the relationship between Iran and China is long-term in nature.
Iranian national oil firm developed a buy-back exploitation system to assist the foreign firms in investing in Iranian mines and recover their capital and profits by selling the oil produced (Mofid143; Mossavar-Rahmani 33). In a deal that can be termed as an olive branch for the US firms, a deal of $600 million was given to Conoco for mining offshore. Though this agreement was later revoked by the US government, this could have resulted in a new alliance between US and Iran and it would have been the first-ever deal for exploitation and development of mines given to a foreign nation from Iran (Zaretsky108). The deal also revealed some dissimilarities between the Clinton administration and the Congress dominated by republicans (Mofid145). These discrepancies propelled the initiatives. For instance, in 1995 the president issued an executive order prohibiting firms from America from engaging in oil exploitation and development.
In 1996, there was a special focus on Iran. This was attained by the use of dual containment. The US president was empowered to select from six possible restrictions to be used on aberrant firms. In reaction to Iran-Libya sanctions, the government of Iran had to create several strategies (Mafi 99). One of the many possible options was to concentrate on the domestic development of its technology to enable it not to engage foreigners to invest in Iran. This strategy would be beneficial in the long run and avoid eliciting sanctions and Iran would be self-sufficient (Zaretsky 108). This strategy would need the knowledge of creating the infrastructure required to create and service greatly refined petroleum products. The Iranian tactics organized to increase 10% of its oil production potential over a decade and increase it even further by 300% in over thirty years. To attain this, the government offered exceptional terms for companies investing and taking part in these projects (Mafi 99). The Strategy effectively drew large firms from Russia, Europe, and the Far East to the projects hence openly disobeying the Iran-Libya restrictions. Other challenges included Canadian-Indonesian collective investment in developing offshore fields (Mofid145).
The impacts of Iran’s diversity tactics have been indisputable (Mofid145). Seven nations were responsible for 70% of the trade-in Iran. Over 20 years down the line, there were 14 nations responsible for 70% of Iran trade (Petrossian 148). The nature of international investment was affected and non-American nations immune to the terms of sanction increased their investment in Iran like BP.
Hopes for New Ties
Just after getting into power, the new president Khatami Mohammed – a reformist leader made a decision to hold the ‘dialogue of civilizations’. Here he hinted on building hopes of re-establishing some relations with US. Confusing Iran-watchers all over, Khatami defeated hardliner Ali Nateq-Nouri and to show his effort in power and zeal to bring change, president Khatami proclaimed that he was ready to enhance relationships with the west especially the US. In 1997, Khatami declared that he favoured discussion between what he termed as civilizations among nations of the world (Kurzman113). To President Clinton and other leaders of the US, the response was positive. Just as expectation of more freedom spread through Tehran, many optimistic leaders allowed some US policy twist that stopped diminishing of the relationships. When president Khatami requested to hold thoughtful dialogue, the US president accepted the idea.
The proposal of having dialogue of civilization had begun earlier on beginning in 1992 in what is called Euro-Arab relations. The most significant of the proposals was by Khatami. This was in fact reflected in Tehran declaration that was given by Islamic conference organization that was held in 1999 and was formally presented in the United Nations assembly (Alamdari 1289). These proposals increased even more after the incidence of 9/11 in 2001 (Ansari155). This occurrence increased international differences between the west and Islamist nations. For instance, the league of Arabs conducted a conference about dialogue and not conflict whereas in 2005 the UN declared his alliance of nations and coalition of global commons (Alamdari 1288). Emphasizing on dialogue, there was Muslim and non-Muslim nations initiatives for instance Japan and the Islamic nations. The ultimate result of the models has been miserable. So far not so much was achieved to enhanced reciprocated perceptions or drop in islamophobia that was spreading in the west, or the distrust in the west was increasing foundation in Islam world in post cold war (Alamdari1288).
The US-Islam world discussion was established in 2004, this was an initiative by the Brookings Institution. The session involved the US and the 25 Islam. The debate discusses a broad range of matters chiefly connected to recognizing the root causes of the differences that exist between US and the Muslim nations (Alamdari1289). There were three initiatives set to concentrate on matters of religion, administration, security and politics as well as human and social advancement (Fischer 67).
The US-Islamic global debate has been recognized for its sustainability and institutionalization. It was also able to record and draw attention to the deep distrust between Islamic world and the US. Nonetheless, it has been evident that two sides hold contradictory perceptions over serious matters and also different means of dealing with them (Cooper 146). Though most Americans who participated realized the major challenges are those associated with terror, globalization and Iran’s regional hegemony, those from Iran considered American hegemony, as the major threat to Muslims (Petrossian15). This divergence of views resulted in anticipation of the collapse of the dialogue especially by Sudan’s prime minister who thought that the forum was addressing hopes that were very hard to achieve.
The issues of civilizations are very complex and are not definitely resolutions. The situation escalated over the past few years, civilizations in middle east, Europe and the US. This is for the fact that there is increased numbers of non-Christian and non-westerners including Muslims (Cooper 146). For instance Christians and the Jews especially in Andalusia contributed to thriving of the Islamic civilization in several aspects and most Islam assisted in developing the western civilization (Sadri 221). Not only did the elements of Islam civilization were adopted to assist its modern civilization revitalization, but also inputs by modern Muslims who have been living the west and contributed to its progress of civilization (Cooper 148).
There is some need to attain some kind of formula that would ensure that there is balanced nature of contribution in some specified initiatives requesting for dialogue among civilizations and need for international umbrella for the discussion that would warrant, transparency and universality, as well as alleviate in opposition to the rise of the various civilization blocs and cultures allied to different views that confront each other and defeat the very real meaning dialogue among these civilizations and hamper any optimistic outcomes of the discussion on developing international relations (Sadri 221). In this regard, we realize that though the US being the only superpower in the current world, it’s not party to any specified initiatives demanding dialogue (Cooper 148).
It is evident that with time and emergent international development that there is some necessity for having real universal discussion for all the relevant participants in the international drive towards conversation amongst civilizations. The players here include governments, the civil society, corporate sector, think tanks and the international media. There were some advancements that came up after 9/11 incidence especially the war in Iraq and Afghanistan got worse and the mutual perceptions between the Islam nations and the west (Cooper 148). There was a confrontational approach by the two sides that sacrifice the spirit of discussion and deliberation. Nonetheless, these advancements resulted in enhancing the function of the non-governmental organizations and other concerns groups particularly the civil society both in US and Iran to engage in an unofficial dialogue focused reasonable foundation to be parallel as well as being compassionate to intergovernmental conversation amongst civilizations so as to develop the latter and increase credibility and assist uphold the drive of the conversation (Amuzegar 89).
There have been event developing since the US was attacked in 2001 and their impact have indicated that holding dialogue would be like having a luxury or intellectual move away from reality (Cooper 148). Nonetheless, civilizations, dialogue can translate to some substantial reality and activities that can be exercised to benefit the people and also establish principles and practices that can be used in international relations to reassure the equality principle and the doctrine of sovereignty of every state (Magarasevic 45), non-interference in domestic affairs, respect for each other and interdependence (Katzaman 6). All the parties have to take note of the fact that the is no single civilization regardless of the advancement achieved can solely tackle and provide answers to the issues and challenges that humankind suffers today (Poulson 67). The worlds requires cooperation from individual and nations that belong to different civilizations while ensuring that there is a just share for every one of them regarding decisions and problem solving. This is what reaffirms the necessity to have different for in the UN to present their international law in order to offer safety for the rights of the smaller states (Cooper 148). Those calling for clash of civilization and those considering dialogue all read selectively from history extracts and therefore have different interpretation of their own positions, This should be brought together to invent a common paradigm of ideological ideas (Sadri 221).
Each civilization is made up of more than just one tribe, one specific race, one dominant religion or one powerful nation. In al of them, the outcome is the unity of humanity in totality where a significant overlap of civilizations is evident (Fischer 67). Over the past two decades, consideration of religion as an element has increased considerably when issues of culture are being mentioned. In this regard, the wars in Iraq and sanctions over Iran have all complicated the matters of global concern and religion and the role of culture over process of civilization (Poulson 67).
There has been a lot of rivalry among civilizations over absoluteness and relativity. The competition is also evident in regard to the various interpretations which vastly vary. They range from intolerant ones which believe they hold superior belief or doctrines hence have best options and the open minded ones which hold flexible principles. In the same regard, there has been competition between religion and secular aspects and the compromising elements in between where each claim religion to be a major component (Ansari155). The connection between Islamic as in Iran and most Middle East nations and the western civilizations especially the US is in fact not in good form as several sacred beliefs have intervened with culture and even politics (Poulson 67). The west is sometime described as being Christian while others refute the sacred nature. There is an international half-consensus that this has been the most triumphant and widespread civilization around the world (Fischer 67). This feeling is what has been the stumbling block towards achieving democratization of the global relations. The US can just decide to impose restriction on another nation and even influence its allies to support the move even when it is so grave on the other nation and international trade (Halliday 44).
The practical level of implementing the dialogue shows that the role of Muslims outside their homeland has been able to overcome negative consequences from attacks like the 9/11 in terms of legal restrictions, social discourse and media policies (Poulson 67). In essence the call towards civilization ought not to be considered as a tool by Iranians and other Islamic nations for defence or for pre-empting themselves. Calling for clash would mean that there is hatred towards civilizations like the west hating Muslim civilization.
There has been a very big problem regarding where these dialogues occur and the west has been unable to get along with the Muslims for a number of reasons that in most cases related to context. Understanding these situations is a prelude to devising means of reducing negative impact (Poulson 67). The major problem is that there is a very big difference between structural organizations between the US and the Muslim Iran. There has always been a problem in balancing power between Iran and the US since this has in most cases tended to be inclined towards the US (Fischer 69). This has been very obvious in the imposing of sanctions and even engaging in military conflict where the Iran lost and also Iraq among others. The US is hence better placed to manipulate the relations including calling for dialogue in a way that the Islam Iran is seen to be the cause of the problems (Maloney 23).
The other problem in implementing dialogue is the negative legacy that was set during the past interactions between the two nations. There are more conflicts and military involvement than there were good deals.
The implication of culture and civilization around the world and its connection with on terrorism is that the Islamic nation will become less powerful and unimportant or even break up. Power will be devolved to smaller regions and in some cases to individual personalities (Poulson 69). Race, ethnicity and religion conflict will deepen, deadly weapons will proliferate in different geographical areas and as a consequence, terrorism attacks will increase in frequency and extent. Attaining world unity is a very big dream and a phenomenon that is very difficult to attain (Maloney 23). It’s possible that even the United Nations Organization may disappear is the civilization will not find common goals and inducing dialogue. Acts of terrorism may develop in cleft nations (most people belong different civilization) or in fault lines wars on political boundaries of different civilizations. The Islamist like most Iranians and the Christians in the west are seen as nearly at war always. Acts of terrorism have been seen to be carried out by Islamic followers against US for so long, witnessing committed d Islamic combats who exploit the westerns nations and bombing critical targets (Alamdari 1289). The US on the other hand has been dropping bombs in some selected Islam targets. These challenges are innately cultural or due to difference in civilization and are bound to go on or even spread to other nations as realignments form from fallouts and more twists come in..
Terrorism form the centre stage of the clash and the implications for law enforcement if terrorism is deeply rooted in what is called clash of civilizations is that nom success will be achieved against this because the terrorist hold on to a culture they consider worth dying for (Hooshiyar 61). Basically it can be said that the law enforceable approach that was being used during the Bush administration was still rooted in the 1990s euphoria where the fall of the Soviet Union was hailed as the end of history (Ansari155). Counter terrorism based on old concept of the cause of the conflict seems to be loosing the war and that is why there need to be a change of tactic. Huntington’s clash of civilizations forms the basin on which scholars founded the Project for the New American Century. The claims by Osama are for polity and devotion to Society and God while the former US president Mr. Bush argued for devotion to the universal qualities of the civilized society. Basically the conflict is morale claims this means that the conflicted takes place in specific cultural, religious and historical context which have to be resolved by the same means (Maloney 23). The American foreign policy is aimed at protecting the core interest of Americans, to defeat terrorism and reduce spread of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical). Currently the war against terror requires re-strategizing of all assumptions that misguided the US defence and foreign polices in cold war period. The enemy shouldn’t be attached at one spot as these activities are all over the world thus anti-terror has to respect innocent life.
The United State apology
In 2000, the US made a very positive move by offering an apology to Iran. The state secretary Albright Madeleine gave a powerful speech on 17th of March that highlight the regret America had for participating in the 1953 coup to overthrow Mossadeq and in the same regard accepted that reinstating Shah was a serious impediment for development of Iran’s politics (Kessler 23). There was then a partial lifting of the Persian rugs. Since the speech of Albright was hectoring Iran, the response from Tehran deprecated the benevolence gesture (Ramazani 169). The speech has since been analysed and it is more than just a simple gesture of goodwill since it indicated realistic change in American characters but was only too little and very significant, long overdue. According to Khatami who demanded the apology, this should have happened immediately following election of Khatami (Gasiorowski 264). Nonetheless the US managed to secure a meeting where Albright was able to meet with Iranian premier Kamal over the issues in the present of various international leaders from the east and the west as well (Ramazani 169).
This positive move is regarded as open of the many lost opportunities over the past decade. Since the start of Clinton administration, the two nations (Iran and the US) have made attempts to normalise the tension between them but none of them has been ready enough go a step further (Poulson 69). Khatami called for Dialogue of Civilization immediately following his elections and this was to bring the US and Iran together in negotiation but the US never respondent to the call. However the then president, Clinton came to a near apology for what is perceived to be the wrong deeds Americans got involved in as they dealt with Iran. It was not mainly an apology because the statement from the president stated that Iran faced great abuse from the west due to its vast geopolitical significance (Ramazani 169). The speech failed to note the 1953 coup which the major element of their differences. Even when Albright came to admit that the US was wrongly involved in the 1953 incidence, the apology was not fully welcome since the foreign mister accepted it while Ayatollah described it as deceitful and belated (Gasiorowski 262). Later on when the war against terror was launched following the bombing of the twin towers, a lot of meeting were conducted between Iran and the US. Iran offered regional and strategic recommendation to the Americans on the turbulent territory of Afghanistan which American listened to. Iran through that they had finally reached a breakthrough they had been looking for in a long time (Poulson 69). The following year, there was another problem again as Bush got to power. In a statement to address his policies, Bush stated that Iran was on the axis of evil and Iranian were further aggravated. Iran handed over the suspect list that led to arrest of Al-Qaeda by the UN. Iran got a response they expected as the US threw the blame on Iran for the bombings at Riyadh.
In 2005, there was another connection with Iran when presidential candidate Rafsanjani called for negotiation in Washington DC. This was going to happen but the results favoured a hardliner Ahmadi-Nejad as the winner. Bush regime a still considered Iran as a backer of terrorism (Poulson 69). Regardless of the problems, many Iranians still believe that they can re-establish the long lost association with the US.
Normalising the association between Iran and the US can be a very tough job since the two nations have both engaged in regrettable actions against each other. It is therefore very hard to admit that they have to apologise and even consider putting the past behind them (Chubin 298). The US and Iran are expected to be making even better progress if Iran wants to become a strategy player in the middles east region. Altering the current behaviour would have to take the form of three elements in order to effect the responsibilities that come with that statues (Ramazani 167). First Iran should declare a moratorium on the enhancement and reclaiming activities for the last decade. This will offer the international community some guarantee that Iran is actually working on a peaceful nuclear program. Iran could be reluctant to acquiesce to these demands since it wasn’t equal treatment as other NPT countries, but if the US would offer indisputable assurances, guaranteed fuel supply and stop threats cooperation can be achieved (Gasiorowski 264). Iran can stop linking with terrorist and even end its anti-Israel expression. This can be declared publicly as Iran declares it recognises Israel. Actually accepting Israel as a nation is not anti-Islam since many other Islamic nations including Egypt have accepted it. The last step for Iran would be to enhance its human rights policies and encourages freer expression and oppresses and enhances democracy and the rights of ethnic minorities.
Since Iran has been seeking hegemony in the Middle East region, it has the opportunity to show the world that it is committed to fighting for the rights of the minority. Since it has a diverse population than many countries around the world, it would be able to set precedence in promoting and protecting the rights of minority (Chubin 298). Hegemony is described as the way dominant or the majority groups exert their economical, political, and cultural ideologies over others without even considering their explicit consent. Most of the international relations approaches take an ability related descriptions of what power is (Gasiorowski 265). Kenneth Waltz for instance describes power to signify the “means” argue that the results of its use were definitely timid. This perception does not look at power in relation to interactions rather is restricted to capabilities. There is a strong believe by many theorists that hegemony was discursive.
Wars are often sparked by certain circumstances that could be due to normal differences in opinion of believes. However, whether devastating incidence like the 9/11 attack on the US or simple threats, crimes against humanity could be beyond human control. They totally rely on the acts of war that sparked them. There are many incidences that the works has witnessed nations exercise powers in their regions beyond state boundaries (Chubin 298). This hegemonic concept is one important approach of understanding the international politics. The US, Israel, and Russia among other nations have been very infamous for such acts. According to Gramsci’s studies, hegemony is not domination over other states but a relationship not by force but of permission by ideology and political leadership (Gasiorowski 265). A basic concept for understanding the international relations is to study the history of the world. The powerful blocs that developed long time ago will give a very insightful interpretation. Historic bloc emerged when dominant authorities were able to dominate for so long (Poulson 69). They are essentially associated with economic foundation and hence are able to offer the frameworks on which decision making would be based pertaining distribution of goods. Through this way, analyses that stretch outside traditional Marxist discussion on class and promotion of social forces assessment not restricted by owners of means or production can be manipulated to include religious, cultural and ideological organisations (Chubin 298).
According to Huntington, the political order in the world is changing rapidly and this is taking place cultural and religion grounds. Hegemonic nations are still the key players in this multi-civilization society. As a consequence, states are getting allied to others with similar beliefs or the ones that share common culture. On the other hand they greatly conflict with nations of different cultures and beliefs. The past trends where nations used to be allied to certain superpowers are fading away and the alliances being formed are those defined by civilization and culture (Gause 59). The conflict in civilization ideology is a very imperative concept that should be addressed. In essence, the conflict in the post cold war error would occur violently and more frequently because of culture and not necessarily difference in ideologies. However the most likely cause of conflict during the cold war era was the disagreement between the capitalist economic beliefs of the western and the communist beliefs of the Russians and their allies to the east (Hunter 101).
Cooperation in Post 9/11
Most of the world leaders were against the attacks on the twin towers including Iranian people. The Iranian government condemned the act terming it as being inhuman. They hence supported the US in seeking for the perpetrators in Afghanistan and this resulted in toppling the Taliban government. There were meeting between American and Iranians officials and experts on the security matters in Bonn. There also some members from the United Nations ready to assist create new government and rebuild Kabul. Iran plays a very significant role and was definitely the most helpful state in that era. Iran was also very instrumental in repatriating about one million refugees from Afghanistan and its own soil as well. This shows that Iran was quite helpful to the US when it was terminating the Taliban regime in October/December 2001. However, there was surprise and anger in Tehran that the Bush administration immediately characterised the Iran as a part of an “axis of evil” in 2002. Some of the countries described as axis of evil included Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
The US has over the past decades acted a hegemonic power since it is the only superpower in the world. Nonetheless it has been accused of meddling into domestic affairs of many nations especially those from the east. This has been regarded as abuse of state sovereignty (Magarasevic 45). Many states are feeling the urge to expand and exercise some powers over others or act on behalf of them. The major problem that is affecting international relations and hence world politics is dominated by issues of sovereignty concept. This is expected to remain an issue so long as there are legal and theoretical issues concerning a state (Ramazani 167). This type of US Hegemony has been challenged by some states which strictly take the postulation that sovereignty is the total autonomy of a states and that no other authority inside of outside can meddle in its domestic issues. Sovereignty is a legal institution that validates a political organization where independent states govern themselves and their own governments are the principle authorities either domestically or on the international scene (Magarasevic 45). In essence, sovereignty means that in a society of other states, every state is mandated to put into effect ultimate and absolute political authority. Authority in this sense is described as the right to govern itself. With realization of this authority, each state agrees not to interfere or meddle in any way in each others internal governance affairs. There are very many instances that have seen hegemony being practiced in violation of sovereignty (Magarasevic 46). The nations that do this have been able to use very strong reasons. For instance, they state that the state sovereignty can be overlooked in the event that that country is breaking international laws and when there are cases on humanitarian crises and need faster intervention like wartime (Magarasevic 47).
Principally, there are many occasions the powerful states have been seen to be interfering with governance of other states like the 1953 coup that the US facilitated in Iran (Gasiorowski 262). The reasons for such kind of interference are complex to analyze due to increased interaction, humanitarian issues and international law. For quite sometime until the First World War, the doctrine of human rights had been part of the “reserved domain” for many of the states. The international law did not regulate issues of this type in any way. Nonetheless, even is such events, jurisdiction which is a domain that belong exclusively to a particularly state is constrained by the international laws (Parsa 132). The powerful states being more influential are often very active in participating in the implementation of this international law. International justice court explained in this regard that the jurisdiction of any state was restricted within the constraints of international law (Gasiorowski 262), hence means that state sovereignty has to be inferred in view of the customary and treaty laws.
Powerful states easily intervene in the governance of other states when they make decisions that breach humanitarian concerns like abuse of human rights, war crimes and drug trafficking (Lee 53). In this way, it’s obvious that powerful states disregard that state sovereignty as not having unlimited power to do whatever a nation pleases (Kemp 109). It can be said that by the end of the year 1945, the freedom that states enjoyed with regard to self governance especially making decision that concern human rights became restricted by several respects (Gasiorowski 262); first is the United Nations charter which concentrates on peace keeping but abounds citations of basic human right; there are lots of international conventions that protect the human rights dealing with issues like torture, genocide or specific issues like children welfare and women affairs; third, many of the humanitarian riles are integrated into the international law customary regulations and this binds states regardless of whether they have approved those conventions or not (Nabavi 34). This means that the major nations in such conventions can interfere with governance of other states in the name of monitoring human rights or peace keeping.
Considering the fact that there is international law, when a state violates the human rights law, drug trafficking regulation and war crime, it has to face the consequences. There is a hierarchy of rule in the international legal regulation that puts powerful nations at the top of the rules to protect human rights (Kemp 109). In this way, the sovereignty of the state is interfered with even when there was no breach of international law (Nabavi, 2003, p. 34). Its clear that human rights are not issues that nation deal with as ‘internal affairs’ anymore, meaning that they are out of the state’s domestic jurisdiction. Nations can only offer diplomatic protection to their citizens if it a case involving individuals. In this way the state can represent the person at international level (Nabavi 34). A peremptory rule has been abused by some states since they presume it to be a norm internationally recognized and accepted by the world and society of states.
More examples of Hegemony that have been observed; The Israeli invasion of Lebanon was contravention of sovereignty. Israel claims that it was tackling the Lebanese on grounds that that they were hosting al-Qaeda. The Israel troops fired their rockets over Lebanon just after a rocket landed in Kyat Shmona. The US attack on panama was one of the greatest violations of sovereignty. The attacks were made in 1989 under President Bush administration (Nabavi 34). Following the invasion, the president was quick tom list down several reasons to justify why they had attacked panama. The president claimed that the attaches were on humanitarian grounds to protect the lives of the United States citizens. Turkey on the other hand invaded the Kurds in Iraq on claims that they were responsible for antihuman activities in Southern Iraq. Turkey led 140,000 troops to go and fight terrorism in Iraq (Alam 1629). This was a very crucial fight since it took place amid very delicate security environment.
In 2003, Iran made an overture for wide-ranging bilateral pact with the US which was reportedly signed in top government office in US. This is supposed to have taken place immediately after the US had invaded Iraq. Some investigators claim that the proposal expressed from Swiss ambassadors resulted in Grand bargain that entailed offers to negotiate Iran’s support for terrorist and also appreciating Israel as a state with the right of existence (Nabavi 34). According Rice, the then state secretary, Iran was trying to put a lot of things on the table for negotiations.
What Americans only think of is that Iranians are supporting terrorism. Terrorism has been a controversial subject because of the belief many easterners hold. A number of Muslims, they believe that it is a way of fighting holy jihad and use even the state machinery to fight the so called holy war. on the other hand the countries of the West do not understand why these Muslims are fighting (Lee 55), what they fighting for or against because they destroy property and kill innocent people who have no connection whatsoever to their claims (Moaveni 89). The reasons why terrorist activities are so rampant is not clear but one thing is that these activities are a threat to the US economy because, over the past years, the US has allocated a lot of money (investing in military equipment and a lot of personnel) to fight terror in the Persian Gulf region i.e. Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq (Kemp 109).
In the process, many families have been destabilised (soldiers’ families) and lives have been lost as well not to mention the financial support. Resistance by terrorist and counter attacks by the G-8 nations especially the US is another contributory factor to the increased terror. For instance, the deployment of the US troops in to the Persian Gulf region (Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan) motivated the bombing of the world trade centre in New York as a retaliation strategy to the US imperialism (Shoamanesh 2). This is because some scholars argue that terrorism started just after the Second World War and the cold war period when the US was much opposed to the communism in the Former Soviet Union and was pushing for the adoption of the capitalism economy (Imperialist). This lead to resistance and some states had to take sides since by then, there two most powerful nations in the world (US and Soviet Union) later on the Soviet Union collapsed (Nabavi 34).
Those opposed to the US ended up as terrorist since fighting the US was a very difficult and dangerous task. Terrorism is some times carried out by individuals or states (Jim 56). State terrorism is the instance when terror activities are operated by unmentioned chain of command (authority like governments). Here the controversy is that some military operations are also referred to as terrorism for instance the US attack on industrial area of Japan, Hiroshima.
The Current Relationships between US and Iran
From the time Collin Powel tried to strike a deal with Iran in 2004 but failed, US have since then developed a new trend of deals. Powel was termed a lame dog but still he predicted that there would be restoration of the US-Iran relationship. This precipitated to the Ahmadinejad era (Sullivan 178). This is from the time when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to his counterpart in US. This was just one of a kind to create new relationships with the US since the fallout in 1979. Bush was accused in the 18 page letter for engaging in serious atrocities in Middle East especially Iraq thus invoking his Christianity to take a different course (Katzman 34). The letter also indicated serious facts like that the US had been hiding information about the 9/11 incidence. The earlier attempts by Iran to attract the US attention by using Zalmay, the ambassador to Iraq had been kept under shelves without reason (Shoamanesh 2). The US officials had an opportunity to create new alliances but the major setback was that the US was not agreeing to get involved in direct negotiations with Iran over nuclear plans unless Iran had suspended it (Katzaman 4). This precondition is a major huddle and Iran on the other hand has not been able to heed to such demand considering the time and money already spent on the project (Sullivan 178).
It’s argued that the US had to be rational because insisting on zero enrichment in the process of nuclear strategy in Iran did not hold credible reasons and in fact it continued to loose its credibility with time. Containment policy was eroding as well. Only serious talks can allow the US to currently set their agenda instead of reacting to Iran own plans (Katzman 34). Further more, sanctions over Iran are only beneficial if they induce negotiation spirit on the party being punished. Sanction that do not allow a door for negotiations do not result in any useful outcome; this way if the US Is unable to achieve the intended diplomatic objectives, then it has failed in its attempt to seek democracy, combat terror and create peace (Lee 55).
The relationship between Iran and the United States after 1979 was instigated by the terrorist act of taking US diplomats are hostages at the embassy in Tehran. International terror has been over the past decades used to spread fear to the people and it’s perpetrated for ideological reasons in contrast to materialistic benefit or a lone assault and it’s a deliberate attack on certain people regardless of the safety of non-combatants. The international relations are very important yet critical issues regarding this topic are not handled with the weight they deserve or they are very complicated. The leadership by the powerful nations could be very important since the international affairs require such leadership. It’s very important to note that intentional leadership is only efficient when the foreign elites appreciate the visionary leaders on the international order and then assess the idea as their own.
As revealed in the essay, power and leadership are very distinct. Leadership takes care of the concerns of the followers unlike power which can be brutal. As revealed also, poor exercise of power can result in very serious conflicts like terrorism and other human rights violation crimes including trafficking. Though this subject is very complex in nature, the available literature can help in analysing and understanding the radical political ideologies as how it relates to power formulation.
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