An Arrogant Approach
The danger of unilateralism— for the United States and the world
In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful: the international community has moved away from peace, security and justice due to the mismanagement of some of its actors. Yet the expectation of a world marked by security and tranquillity endures.
After the end of the cold war and the regional confrontations emanating from bipolar competition, many hoped there would be a beautiful spring in international relations, as a multilateral system emerged that offered equal opportunities to all members of the international community. It was hoped that the new world would enable all nations, in light of universally accepted humane norms and mutual respect, to advance together, eradicate poverty and injustice, and set aside bitter memories of the past that were nothing but war, bloodshed, violence and tension.
Those hopes were dashed by the United States and its leaders, who adopted a new and aggressive approach. Their assertion of unchallenged global leadership—and the inability of the international community and the United Nations to challenge it—frustrated hopes for a stable and peaceful world. Instead, once again we witness the re-emergence of a system that produced nothing but tension and insecurity.
“Absolute unilateralism” by the United States is the salient element of the new system adopted by the U.S. government toward world development. It has prevented the American people from playing their proper role in eliminating tyranny and violence and in helping bring peace, justice and security. Why should the prestige of the great American people be tarnished by the selfish and bullying ambitions of their government, whose negative role is clearly visible in many current conflicts, especially in the Middle East?
The worst example of this approach was the U.S. attack on Iraq and its catastrophic consequences. What was the crime of the 700,000 Iraqis, mostly women and children, who have died since, or of the many more that have been disabled, injured and displaced? On the basis of what international norms and rules can the U.S. government justify its actions over the past four and a half years there? Who should be held accountable for the destruction and oppression of the Iraqi people?
The contradictory policies of the U.S. government make it difficult to believe in its good intentions. The United States supported the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein—a regime that imposed a war on Iran for eight long years with U.S. support, costing both nations hundreds of thousands of lives. Saddam’s regime attacked Iran and even its own people with chemical weapons supplied by the United States and Europe.?It is one of the bitter ironies of our time that after openly supporting the heinous regime, America then attacked Iraq under the pretext of eliminating its weapons of mass destruction, shed the blood of hundred of thousands, and sold this invasion as a victory to the world as well as its own citizens.
As the result of its mismanagement of the crisis and the continuation of its hegemonic and unilateral policies, the United States now faces a deadlock in Iraq. As long as this approach persists, there will not be a clear path out of the present problems there, which mainly grip the innocent Iraqi people.
Only reasonable methods—like adopting an exit plan, transferring power to the Iraqi government, avoiding divisive policies toward Iraqi groups, accepting the blame and ceasing to point the finger at others— will allow the United States to extricate itself from its predicament. The people of Iraq, despite their religious and ethnic differences, have lived together and next to Iranians peacefully for centuries. If the shadow of occupation were lifted from Iraq, they would be able to guide their country toward security, stability and progress.
The heavy shadow of America’s unilateralism is also visible on the unresolved question of Palestine, which is one of the gravest tragedies of the 20th and 21st centuries. The U.S. government has succumbed to the demands of the Zionists and the Zionist regime. This is a lethal ailment that afflicts U.S. administrations. The American people do not like to see their leaders fall captive to the Zionist network. Surely the American people would prefer U.S.-inspired policies to those perpetrated by the Zionists. No fair-minded American is happy with the present situation. Regrettably, despite the objections of some of America’s elite, personal and political interests—especially those of the present administration—have prevented any action to counter this fatal disease. So long as this situation persists, we will see tyranny and injustice in the region. The U.S. government will bear the heavy responsibility for the Zionist regime’s massacre of Palestinian women and children in their homes and territory.
Ever since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the attitude and the approach of the U.S. government toward Iran has also been coercive and unilateralist. America’s policy toward Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is the most important aspect of this approach. Iran is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. It therefore has the right to nuclear fuel cycle technology for peaceful purposes. Yet America, which itself produces nuclear fuel and has a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, has opposed the production of nuclear fuel by Iran for peaceful purposes and under the IAEA inspection. Indeed, the United States has tried to politicize the Iranian nuclear issue and has enticed and threatened other countries into exerting pressure on Iran. How is it that the same country that used the first atomic bomb, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and that is presently spending billions of dollars for the production and testing of the most advanced and destructive armaments, behaves this way toward Iran’s peaceful nuclear program? The IAEA has repeatedly declared that there is no evidence that Iran has diverted its nuclear program to military ends, and the Islamic Republic has allowed free access to the Agency’s inspectors.
Iran’s nuclear program is supported by the entire Iranian nation, at home and abroad. Opposition to this peaceful program will alienate the Iranian people and strengthen their determination to continue it and to reject the illegitimate and illegal demands of the U.S. government.
Resorting to outdated policies such as making threats and imposing sanctions will only lead to more lost opportunities. America’s current policies will only increase the hatred of nations toward its administration and further isolate its regime from the world. Friendship with the Iranian people and with all people of the world is a major asset that the U.S. government has deprived itself of.
I think the common denominator of all these problems is distance from religious values, ethics and spirituality. With such distance from ethical and spiritual values, human dignity, love and kindness—which are the common elements of all great Abrahamic religions—and humanity’s moral, material and civic achievements have been jeopardized. The best way to avoid the deadlock is to emphasize common values and the natural desire of all human beings for perfection, benevolence, justice, brotherhood and kindness. These values can help us find solutions to all problems facing humanity. Global, sustainable peace and security will be realized only through the establishment of true justice and brotherhood. How can we expect to reach sustainable peace and security by humiliating others and acting in ways that depart from ethical and spiritual values?
Ahmadinejad is president of Iran.