ID : N-487 Date : 2017/10/22 - 14:00
(Persia Digest) - In an interview with Persia Digest, Adib-Moghaddam said: It is imperative that Iran gets even closer to the EU, not least to keep the communication with Washington going, and to minimize misperceptions.
Donald Trump finally refused to recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement officially known as the JCPOA and has referred it to Congress. Some analysts believe that this is a sign of frustration on the part of the US President in this matter. Nevertheless, Trump has announced that if Congress does not reach a clear conclusion, his next step would be to nuke the deal. Except for Israel and a number of Arab states, the rest of the world including the EU, Russia, and China - signatories to the deal – have stated their support for the agreement.
In an interview with Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Persia Digest explored the future of the Iran nuclear deal. Adib-Moghaddam is a Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies and Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute. As a critic, writer and scholar, he is best known for his work on Iran, relations between the West and the Muslim world and the international politics of West Asia and North Africa. You can read the interview here:
With respect to Trump’s speech and his position on the JCPOA, do you think the US is intending to stay in the agreement, but raise the stakes for Iran (both financially and in terms of identity and ontological security) and is laying the grounds to force Iran to be the first to abrogate the agreement?
This is what I call “psycho-nationalism” in my new book for Cambridge University Press. Trump is operating on the basis of a hysterical form of politics, that is irrational and delirious. He is literally in a state of delirium which must be partially due to his sheltered upbringing and lack of intelligence. Hence, he doesn’t pursue strategies; his decisions are tactical, short term without long term acumen. Of course, characters like him who are authoritarian in everything they do, are the masters of provocation.
But it is noteworthy, as you rightly, imply in your question, that no one listens to the Trump administration. In an unprecedented move, even the Conservative government in Britain endorsed the JCPOA. The UK used to follow the US in most foreign policy projects in West Asia and North Africa, but times have changed not least because of the obvious weakness of US diplomacy and the diminished standing of the country which is a direct consequence of the incompetency displayed by President Trump and his team. It is a pity, because the United States has great potentials to be a force for good in world politics, but at this moment in history, under the current leadership it is the biggest threat to world peace.
The JCPOA is a multilateral agreement supported by a UN Security Council resolution. None of the parties can amend it unilaterally. How can Congress amend this agreement? If Congress modifies the deal, what will be the reaction of European countries, and Russia and China? Will they force Iran to accept the new conditions in order to keep the JCPOA in place?
I have maintained for years that the EU will steadfastly support the JCPOA. THE EU as well is post-American in its world view. The US Congress is unreliable, but even if there is a concerted effort to question the JCPOA, there will be no concession by the EU. This is why I have emphasized in my previous interviews that the EU is Iran’s most reliable partner.
Of course, it is even more essential than ever right now that Iran keeps its side of the bargain and keeps the communication going with the EU as much as possible. President Macron has announced he wants to visit Iran next year – This is a good step towards peace. Iran should be open to deepen the dialogue with Europe along all themes including democracy and human rights.
So far, various scholars and researchers have cited different reasons for the roots of hostilities between Iran and the United States. Some, with a realistic approach, regard this hostility as a conflict between the interests of the two countries in the region and the world. Others, with a constructivist approach, regard the hostilities to be the result of their different identities. Another group, with a psychological approach, point to misperceptions by both sides regarding their intentions, and some others also point to the role of lobbyists, groups, and cartels such as AIPAC, the gun lobby, and the Saudi lobby in the US in the emergence and intensification of tensions between Iran and the US. What do you believe these tensions and hostilities are rooted in between the two countries, or which factors do you assess to be the most important?
There is no hostility between the people of Iran and the United States. Indeed, there are millions of reasons why they should be united in the form of Iranian-Americans who love their motherland and who are drawn to Iranian culture. In addition, we have seen that there is no God-given reason why both countries have to be eternal enemies as the Obama interlude showed.
If Joseph Biden would have been President, our interview would explore questions of peace, maybe even diplomatic relations. Analytically, we have to focus on the way the state positions itself at different periods of time. State interests are made by political elites, and all the stakeholders that you mention in your question play a role in this process.
So the “identity” of the state is constructed in order to safeguard the interest of the ruling elites, in the US as much as in Iran or anywhere else. So the foreign policy of a country is a social construction, undoubtedly. I have expressed how this works in my books and articles which are available on my website (adib-moghaddam.info).
In the current situation, and taking into account the views of the leaders of the two countries, are there any innovative ways to reduce tensions between Iran and the US?
It is absolutely necessary to keep the communication going, even if it means to use trusted intermediaries such as Oman. The two countries are too important to the stability of the international system to remain in an antagonistic mode for too long. As indicated, it is imperative that Iran gets even closer to the EU, not least to keep the communication with Washington going, and to minimize misperceptions.
The Trump years will be over, sooner rather than later, and Iran has to pursue a long term strategy towards the United States that is not merely reactive in the moment, but looks beyond current predicaments. The second, strategy would be to follow a cultural diplomacy. I have set this out as well in previous interviews. There is no reason why Iran should not facilitate people to people contacts in education, the arts, cinema etc. The path towards peace, after all, is always paved by civil societies, and less so by our politicians.