Kissinger-Walt debate on Iran

Kissinger-Walt debate on Iran
ID : N-1151 Date : 2018/01/27 - 16:14

(Persia Digest) – Giving a speech at the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, has once again accused Iran of wanting to renew its former empire.

He asked the question “We have defeated ISIS, but what is next?”, and stated: “I am worried that, in the post-ISIS era, Iranian and Russian forces will dominate the region and we will witness their ever-increasing presence from Tehran to Beirut. This process will create a long-term challenge by weakening regional structures."

Kissinger added: “If the areas taken back from ISIS fall in Iranian hands, its zone of influence will extend from Tehran to Baghdad, to Damascus and Beirut.”

The Former US Secretary of State called Iran the biggest challenge in the Middle East and pointed out that the IR of Iran has been able to preserve its political and cultural integrity more than any other power in the Middle East over the years. He continued: “The US must adopt its strategy against the former USSR during the Cold War in order to counteract Iran’s growing influence in the region.”

Other international relations experts, however, disagree with Kissinger. Stephen Walt, Professor of international affairs at Harvard University, believes that Iran has no intention of reviving its former empire.

Recently, Walt wrote in the “Foreign Policy”: “Comments made by Kissinger and Max Boot about the “Iranian Empire” make little sense because it is nowhere close to being a regional hegemon. Iran is a predominantly Shia country, but Sunni Muslims are far more numerous and control the region’s other important countries. Picking fights with Sunni-dominated countries deepens the divide between the two main branches of Islam and makes it harder for Tehran to gain influence with its neighbors. Iran is also predominantly ethnically Persian, not Arab, and no Arab country would support Persian suzerainty over the region.”

Walt has criticized the thinking of American statesmen on Iran’s regional domination in his article, calling it a US foreign policy shortfall rather than the current situation of Iran.

He writes: “There is no doubt that Iran uses its regional influence and supports militant groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. These moves have marginally enhanced Iran’s power — but mostly because it has been able to take advantage of its opponents’ blunders, such as the George W. Bush administration’s decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But these advances still leave Tehran far short of regional domination.

Walt continues: “The US has imposed many sanctions on Iran over recent years. Iran has used any means in its power to thwart these threats. Did you expect Iran to sit and wait for the US to overthrow them?”

Walt concludes: “Fortunately, no state inside or outside the Middle East in a position to control it. Thus, the campaign being conducted against the Iranian hegemony is unnecessary.”

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