Great New Post by Peter JenkinsPosted: October 14, 2012
Peter Jenkins has posted a great new piece over at Lobelog: http://www.lobelog.com/back-to-basics/
For those who don’t know, Ambassador Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva, specializing in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna).
I highly recommend this piece to readers’ attention. In addition to agreeing with every word of this piece, I think Peter is making a great contribution here by really getting down to some fundamentals behind all the surface legal and policy stuff that tend to comprise the primary discussion points on Iran. The question of the perception of Iran in the West as an enemy is a very interesting one indeed and, Peter’s right, lies at the very heart of all the problems. I have never understood it myself. I personally think it’s an idea that has been actively sold in the U.S. to a, let’s face it, largely ignorant and therefore pretty gullible body politic when it comes to foreign policy, by people who want Iran to be perceived as an enemy for their own political reasons. These people have led a successful campaign to demonize Iran and paint it as a threat to the U.S., by reducing complex issues to soundbites and black and white categorizations, like Iran’s inclusion in a fabled “axis of evil.” Another major contributing factor is the success of pro-Israeli political groups operating in the U.S., who have used the history and narrative of Israel, and the sympathies and money of many in the U.S., to their great advantage in influencing U.S. politics to essentially outsource U.S. policy in the ME to Israel. A part of this latter phenomenon that might not be easily understandable outside of the U.S., but which is very real and significant nonetheless, is the role that fundamentalist Christianity plays in American politics on this issue. There are some huge demographics, particularly in the southern U.S. where I live, but elsewhere as well, whose version of Christianity teaches them that ancient Biblical prophecies can be facilitated in their coming to pass by the West’s active support of the modern state of Israel. This belief provides significant political and financial support to the previously mentioned diproportionate pro-Israel bias in U.S. politics. One anecdote on this point. The other day I was chatting with a friend – a kind, simple local woman whom I like very much. The subject of my work on Iran came up. Absolutely guilelessly, she admitted that she knew very little of the ME and the particulars of the conflicts between Israel and its neighbors, but said that her understanding of the Bible let her know that we should not abandon Israel. I’m sure readers will see my point in reciting this. Here is someone who admittedly knows nothing about the facts of any of the disputes in the region, and therefore has no basis in objective fact for determining that Iran is an enemy of the U.S., but who nevertheless has a strongly held religious view that America should take Israel’s side in these disputes. This feeling, replicated millions of times at least, at an almost instinctual level by certain large demographics in the U.S., along with the other factors mentioned above, in my opinion explains much of the success that has been achieved in selling the characterization of Iran as an enemy in this country.