By Mehdi Sepahvand

Kissinger, newest-comer in the ‘Persian Empire’ folly

August 9, 2017

TEHRAN – Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned in an article for CapX last week that Iran should not be allowed to fill the power vacuum that will be created when ISIS is wiped out.

“In these circumstances, the traditional adage that the enemy of your enemy can be regarded as your friend no longer applies. In the contemporary Middle East, the enemy of your enemy may also be your enemy. The Middle East affects the world by the volatility of its ideologies as much as by its specific actions,” he wrote, addressing the Trump administration.

“The outside world’s war with ISIS can serve as an illustration. Most non-ISIS powers — including Shiite Iran and the leading Sunni states — agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory?” Kissinger wrote, suggesting that the resulting situation “could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.”

These comments from Kissinger are not his only in this regard. He told the Algemeiner in November 2016 that the biggest challenge facing the Middle East is the “potential domination of the region by an Iran that is both imperial and jihadist.”

But Kissinger is not unprecedented here. Ralph Peters, a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and a regular Fox News commentator, wrote on The New York Post in February 2015 “Iran is piling one brick on the other.... today’s Iranians, with their Persian heritage, are on the march as surely as were the armies of Xerxes 2,500 years ago. Desperate for a legacy, our president obsesses about a deal (no matter how wretched) on Iran’s nuclear program, while ignoring Iran’s aggression across the Middle East. In his recent State of the Union message, the president even defended Iran against Congress and further sanctions.”

What Kissinger and Peters’ remarks boil down to is no deal with Iran except in the form of blows and strikes. Such catastrophizing of situations goes straight against the wisdom of Europe and other world powers who have preferred a détente with Tehran, even deeming it as an oasis where to originate peace in a Middle East taken by war and extremism.

These gentlemen seem to be worried more about the American empire’s interests just over Iran’s walls, from Iraq to Afghanistan.

In an article on Al-Jazeera in May 2015, Hamid Dabashi, the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, said, “There is no longer any Persian, Arab, Ottoman, Indian, Chinese, British, Spanish, or Mongol empire, and may the angels of mercy and justice be praised for that. The only empire that exists, and it does not feel particularly well or imperial these days, is the American empire. It is a kind of postmodern empire, as it were, ruling, or wishing to rule, via drones, proxies, mercenary armies, and lucrative arms sales to rich, corrupt, and bewildered potentates.”

Iran is no doubt also a pain in the neck of the House of Saud, Washington’s closest buddy in the region, with whom they share the nice memory of some sword dance.

If the United States’ amorphous empire recycles the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party to form a state that is Islamic only in name to implement its military operations in the Middle East, what justification is there to prevent Iran not to try to diffuse their plans and hush their buzz right down its nose? Maybe the real question is why should Tehran even mind being called expansionist and empire-seeking while everything around it is being razed to the ground and burned to ash?

Even on grounds that Kissinger has meant for the U.S. government to fill in the ISIS gap with a real government with peaceful aspirations, it would be hard to imagine Washington making a radical shift in its approach to the current Syrian problem. 

I have discussed in my article on Iran turning Soviet-American wreckage into good, serving Afghans how Tehran has managed in past years to reap something profitable out of foreign powers’ wreckages in its neighborhood. However, Iran has never been claiming an inch of territory beyond its borders to be called an empire. What remains is Iran boosting its regional sway via diplomatic, economic, or other commonly-applied means. It is not easy to find out this is the common practice of many healthy countries and they are not being called expansionist or imperially-motivated for merely seeking what is best for them.

SP/PA  
 

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