Is Iran malign? Yes, insofar as any state is per se malign; yes, as malign as any other state that wants to secure its borders; yes, as malign as any state with ambitions to expand its influence beyond its borders; and as malign as any state that seeks to export its system of government; and as malign as any state that seeks to consolidate and retain its domestic power; and as malign as any state that seeks military power to ward off other states that are inimical to it; and as malign as any state that builds covert aggressive operations that misleadingly are called “intelligence”.
In short, Iran is as malign as any other state operating in a system of international anarchy that has these kinds of aims; and most do.
Iran is as malign as any state that now includes or in the past has included one or more of the above enumerated properties, such as the U.S. The U.S. at its inception harbored extensive ambitions to expand over the continent. The U.S. targeted not only what are now the lower 48 states, but also Canada, Mexico, Central America, Cuba and Hawaii. It declared the entirety of South America as a region of its influence and potential intervention. In the last century, the U.S. has sought to export its form of government worldwide. It has accumulated military power that both defends America and attacks other states. It has created economic systems that extend its influence to many other countries. Its military alliances and presence span the globe. Iran’s expansion of relations with Latin American countries are mainly economic in nature. They are no more malign than those that the U.S. has with Asian countries. Indeed, the U.S. has forged political and military ties with many such countries that dwarf any similar activities by Iran beyond its borders. The U.S. is far more an aggressive power than Iran.
Iran is as malign as Israel, a state that in its own ways has operated along similar lines: secure its borders; expand its territory; retain domestic control by its ruling class; expand its military power and use it both defensively and offensively; develop an organization (Mossad) to conduct covert operations; maintain domestic control by a ruling class.
Iran has influence and presence in neighboring Syria, Iraq and Lebanon through state-to-state relations, economic relations, and through Hezbollah, Shia militias, and the IRG. In this respect, Iran is as malign as any other state that has now or in the past has had similar kinds of relations and influence with nearby border states: The Russian Federation, the U.S., Brazil and Israel, to name a few current ones, never mind seeking out the extensive historical examples.
The U.S. wants to suppress or contain Iran’s ambitions, and so it paints Iran as malign and a threat to the U.S. The charge that Iran is evil, a synonym for malign, is meaningless in a comparative context. Iran doesn’t significantly deviate from the behavior of many states, past and present. The charge that Iran threatens the U.S. is false. Iran is no military threat to America.
Iran competes with Israel for regional dominance. The U.S. takes Israel’s side. Because of the political and financial heft of Israel among American voters and the Congress, which the U.S. government does not want openly to acknowledge, the U.S. resorts to all sorts of fanciful rationales to explain why the U.S. looks upon Israel as an “interest” or as a protectorate or as a 51st state. It resorts to characterizing Iran as evil for doing the same kinds of things that many states, including the U.S., are doing or have done.
If Iran had submarines that could launch nuclear-tipped missiles at America, it would be a threat; but only if its own assured destruction by our own bombs didn’t deter it. A madman at the helm or in control of the nuclear buttons is a risk that arises within any country, including our own, Israel, Pakistan, India, China, North Korea, the U.K., France and Russia. That’s the world we live in; and that’s the biggest reason for seeking peaceful relations with every country and seeking ways to prevent nuclear war. This includes creating systems that can be monitored that prevent madmen or seemingly rational men from having sole power to launch nuclear weapons. It includes systems that prevent accidents. It includes nuclear disarmament.
In the present system of states, peace cannot be secured unless states secure it. This requires that the state’s officials have peace as an overriding aim. The danger in the current system of states is that representatives in key governments across the world do not represent what may be and might be the peaceable aims of their peoples. They support their own aims and those of the state. They support views, aims and ambitions of their shadow governments, deep states and interest groups. They teach their peoples to fear enemies, to suppress actual and conceivable threats of foreign countries, to hate foreigners, to hate foreign leaders, to regard foreigners with suspicion, and to support the domestic state’s ambitions, powers and expansion aims.
If states are not securing the peace to the degree that we the people want; if they are actively propagandizing us for war aims; and if they continue to foment aggression, then we must secure the peace ourselves. We have to recognize peace as our interest and make it an important aim.11:02 am on October 14, 2017 Email Michael S. Rozeff