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Can America Block Iran's Drive for Regional Hegemony?

Can America Block Iran's Drive for Regional Hegemony?

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The most important conflict that is developing in the world today is the Iran-America conflict over the nuclearization of Iran. If Iran does go nuclear, this will have implications for the world order as we know it.
The most important conflict that is developing in the world today is the Iran-America conflict over the nuclearization of Iran. If Iran does go nuclear, this will have implications for the world order as we know it.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Jun 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Vol. 10, No. 36 10 April 2011
Can America Block Iran
’s Drive for Regional Hegemony
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor
In the Arab-Israeli conflict, the addition of a religious layer to the conflict is new. Hamas,Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah are all religiously-based. When one speaks and acts for God,there is no compromise.
Iran is a nation of merchants, and it needs the world and its financial system. This givesleverage to those who want to do something about its nuclear plans. If there isleadership, resolve, and persistence, with more sanctions, and more partners in thegame, there is a chance that Iran will have to rethink its policy. Europe can do more. Thevolume of trade between certain European countries and Iran remains quite heavy.
In the end, this battle will determine the standing of the United States and its power androle in the world in the 21st century. I believe that America has enough power toreinvent itself economically and restore the power that it had, but the perception thatIran is spreading is just the opposite.
Israel is part of the camp that America has been leading for the last 70 years in terms of values, way of life, and democracy. It is important to us that this camp not lose its powerin the world, and that is why a strong America is a very clear Israeli interest, regardlessof whether the Democrats or Republicans are in power.
The Paradigm of War Has Changed
Compare the United States with its arsenal and al-Qaeda; of course the United States is muchstronger. The Israeli army is much stronger than Hizbullah or Hamas, but the wars withHizbullah in 2006 and Hamas in 2009 did not end in unconditional surrender of the other side.Success does bring deterrence, but not surrender.Years ago it was important to know what was happening with your neighbor because he couldattack you, but Manhattan was attacked from Afghanistan. The whole world becomes apotential enemy or ally. The modern technological era has reduced the importance of bordersfor barring information, people, or missiles. Nations can no longer control the flow of information. People are much more powerful, while states are less so. This also means that thebad guys become very potent as well.This has meant a change in the nature of war. Wars are now fought where everybody seesthem in real time on television. This puts limits on what you can do in an open world today. Thestronger side becomes weaker because everyone can see what he does, while the weaker sidebecomes stronger because everyone can see what is done to him. It does not mean that thestrong side is bad and the weak side is good, but it changes the nature of war.The players also now include non-state actors. Most threatening to some Arab regimes is theAl-Jazeera television channel. Other important actors that are not states include the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, and Hamas.Another new factor is a return to religion in the Muslim world, as in other parts of the world. If you ask people how they identify themselves, in the past you would hear many people speak of their Arab identity as their first identity. Today more people will say that they are first of allMuslim. The Taliban, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizbullah are all religiously-based.When one speaks and acts for God, there is no compromise. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, the
addition of this religious layer to the conflict is new. Egypt’s Nasser never said that he fights for
Allah against the Jews, nor did the Syrians or Jordanians. Now one hears from Iran, Hizbullah,and Hamas that there cannot be a non-Muslim state here.
The Iran-America Conflict
The most important conflict that is developing in the world today is the Iran-America conflictover the nuclearization of Iran. If Iran does go nuclear, this will have implications for the worldorder as we know it. First, it may spell the end of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)regime. Some countries, such as Egypt, have said that if Iran goes nuclear, they would too.Others may do it without saying it. In a world in which more countries are going nuclear, ratherthan giving up on nuclear weapons or playing within the rules, the ability of the superpowers tointervene will be harder and perhaps non-existent.The alliance between the West and the Arab Gulf area states has been based on those statesgiving access to oil
a key element in the world economy. At the same time, the West/America
is leading the defense of those regimes against radical movements. Those countries have beenconcerned with Iranian nuclearization, which would mean Iranian hegemony, coupled with thedeclared Iranian policy of exporting its revolution. If America and the West cannot protectthem, they might go along with Iran. Think of a world where Iran and its allies have such aninfluence over the price of oil.Out of the 1.4 billion Muslims, the vast majority want, like every human being, a good life andstability, although not necessarily democracy. Yet in all these societies there are minoritygroups that want to destabilize this way of life and create something new and more religiouslyobservant, as they understand it. They are fighting a battle against Western ideas, such asequality of women, and against basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech. All of them arelooking at the Iran-America conflict to see who will win. A victory for Iran is a victory for allthese groups. Think of how arrogant Hizbullah may become if Iran wins over America. Think of how arrogant Hamas will be vis-à-vis the PLO.Iran has added the religious element to the conflict in a very detrimental way, playing its handthrough the proxies it has in this area. Hizbullah is a unique phenomenon, a Lebanese partythat is also Syrian and Iranian. Hizbullah leader Nasrallah calls himself the personal emissary of 
Iran’s Supreme Leader. Here you see more evidence of a change from a national to a religious
identification. Nasrallah is an Arab and Lebanese by nationality, and a close friend and militaryally of a non-Arab, non-Lebanese, Persian Iranian called Ahmadinejad, fighting against otherArabs and Lebanese. This is because Nasrallah and his followers are first and foremost Shiites,which is more important to them than all the other components.Iran and Syria support Hizbullah with weapons systems, intelligence, training, and an ideologyof delegitimizing and liquidating Israel. Hizbullah has 50,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israelfrom the north, more than any other country in the world. Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza,which are Sunni, have more than 5,000 rockets aimed at Israel, some of them from Iran andSyria.
Preventing Iranian Hegemony
What is the exact point at which we say that Iran is nuclear? Every day of enrichment, Iran getscloser to its goal. Every day in which they build more missiles with which to launch warheads,they get closer. Every day they proceed with the weaponization process, they get closer. It hasnot happened as quickly and as successfully as they wanted it to happen, but the world needsto act so that the world order is not totally undermined by an Iranian nuclear capability as wellas its possible hegemony within the Muslim world.This ongoing battle between America and its allies and Iran is of major importance to all of us.We should not ask others to fight for us. However, if there is real world interest in stoppingIranian hegemony and its nuclear capability, then they may do something about it in time.As the Iranians continue with their nuclear plans, they defy the West, the UN, and theInternational Atomic Energy Agency. Iran is an ancient nation with a proud history and culture.

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