Iran and the West

On today’s show Lyse Doucet is presenting a special half-hour segment on Iran, a country that seems likely to dominate the headlines again this year.

The opposition movement is urging mass protests this Thursday, on the anniversary of the Islamic revolution; the controversy over Tehran’s nuclear programme continues to intensify; and there are signs that the Washington foreign policy establishment is losing patience with the idea of engaging with the Iranian authorities.

So we’ll be asking: how should the US and its allies respond to Iran, if at all? Should there be talks, sanctions, or even military action? Should the embattled Iranian opposition receive more support? Or would any outside interference backfire — and would it be morally wrong anyway?

29 Responses to “Iran and the West”

  1. 1 Ibrahim in UK
    February 5, 2010 at 18:44

    The West has already interfered enough in Iran. To copy my post from the previous Iran thread:

    Iran had an elected secular government, which was quickly toppled by a US and UK coup in Operation Ajax, because Iran took control of it’s own oil, whereas before it was completely controlled by the UK. The West installed a dictator instead, who gave back oil control to the West.
    The West supported Saddam in the war against Iran and protected him from blame for using chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds. Note: Despite Iran having WMD, despite being at war and despite being attacked by WMD, Iran NEVER retaliated with WMD. Today the West wants everyone to believe that this same regime will use WMDs without provocation. If Iran wanted to “wipe Israel off the face of the map” they already have the weapons to do it.
    Finally, the Bush years, the US branded Iran as part of the axis of evil, invaded and occupied it’s neighbours, threatens to attack Iran (some republican candidates even support pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Iran) and bring about regime change.
    Iran’s fate, as well as the fate of the Middle East, should be in their own hands, and not in the hands of foreign powers who only care for their own corporate interests.

  2. 2 Jaime Saldarriaga
    February 5, 2010 at 18:46

    I believe this is a matter of concern to the United Nations.

  3. February 5, 2010 at 18:53

    Could not happen to a better regime. All citizens ought to just ignor the government and pray to Allah for the leaders to go visit Allah and then give all the nuke sites to the U.N., build a pipeline to Isreal and sell them their oil.

    Sell the rest of it to China, and the U.S., and get on with giving all citizens in Iran gov’t health care and tax dividend for oil profits, so they can then invest their resources into starting good businesses.


  4. 4 T
    February 5, 2010 at 19:27

    Iran has been under sanctions. The States have been conducting secret raids into Iran for a long time (see Seymour Hersh for more). And now, Obama is saying let’s negotiate?

    If you’re the Iranian govt., what would you do? If Obama wants to succeed w/Iran, do these things:

    Stop the secret attacks and lift the sanctions.
    Recognize that Iran (under intl. law) is a soveriegn state. And has the right to defend themselves.

    Now, the ultimate question. If Israel attacks Iran, would Obama throw his political career away by not backing Israel? If he said no to them, then THAT would be “change”.

  5. 5 mat hendriks
    February 5, 2010 at 21:50

    The USA and consortium should reduce their nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass-destruction.
    -They should make a timetable with a dead end.
    (01-01-2015 no nukes in this world).

    They should explore/ research energy from Sun Wind and other natural
    energy given facilities.
    without destroying the nature –
    by nuclear energy for ever.

    -we have no solution, to get ride of it after using it-on a responsible way)

    -Start with reducing and using nuclear energie .
    -Building no more atom- plants, or who you call it ?

    When you have done all this , then you have a point to make.
    Than you can say:
    you and you may not produce nuclear energy.

    Otherwise you will be hypocrite.

    So :
    All nukes as soon possible out of this world in confusion.
    Nuclear energy as soon as possible out of all countries.

    Using the money for another war, to introduce new and nature friendly energy
    and so it can be a tribute for saving our nature.
    We have only this Earth to live on.

    No sanctions, try to enthousiasmise Iran for my points of vieuw.

    The embattled opposition in Iran is a case of Iran.
    It is a souvereign nation.
    People who wanted to interfere, should go by themselfs and fight the
    It is no care of USA USSR EU CHINA.

    -Today it is Iran-

    America is strong enough to desroy it
    USSR is strong enough to destroy it
    China is strong enough to destry it
    EU is strong enough to destry it etc.
    Toghether it is a piece of cake.

    Tomorrow N. Korea ?;
    Yemen? ;

    Where will it stop.
    When will we use our given brains and intellect.

    We can speak; we can listen-
    we can argumating and even discuss matters.

    With respect and not only by using power.
    Given power, should be used- for- people and not- against- peoples.

    Make a deal as long it is possible or
    fight till we someday all will be dead.
    If that is what we wanted.
    We are intelligent enough to do it.

    But better no world, as a world where fear reigns and no more joy
    is among the people.

    Personally I have always deep respect for a defiant message.
    It keeps us awake.
    When we all follow one leader we live in a dull and dangerous world.

    Who can give sanctions for something he self does?

    Tell me who?

    In this case is a gap between having right and getting right.
    Because this gap, make the best of it, without hurting anyone.
    It whould make this gap unneccasary greater-
    to great?

  6. 6 Idris Dangalan
    February 5, 2010 at 22:09

    Were they protecting our nations or their nation? Iran is not west problem rather than US. In the latest 70s-80s US is great with effort of solving many comflicts like Kuwait asking for US assistant that caused gulf-war but why? poorest countries challenging its foreign policies. US let UN to monitor/inspect Iran nuclear or any uncleared activities in order to have maximum protection of our globe.

  7. February 5, 2010 at 23:13

    Iran which has been growing unpopular in the western medias is a SOVEREIGN entity. Western intervention (either Israel at the front or US) is and can only be rightly interpreted as interferance and intrusion.
    Weapons of Mass Distruction exists every where, why is that of Iran generating noise. Or is Obama subscribing to the view the view that the Arabs should be sacrificed for Israel to survive?
    I like the fact that Iran is building this for self defence & peaceful purposes, cos I do not agree with America’s history of use of their strenght as the world power.
    Besides does it mean that countries like Russia, China and Israel have not added to or modified their Nuclear capabilities in the last 20 years? The watch dogs only look around Iran, please oh every country has equal rights in International Law!

    Your Xcellency :

  8. 8 Bert
    February 5, 2010 at 23:52

    I think that US policy toward Iran should be the same as what US policy toward Iraq was, before George W led the invasion. You let them be, *unless* they get adventurous against other countries, crossing borders.

    It’s a colossal mistake to think that we have a mandate or a right to police other countries, within their borders. So, you stay vigilant, and you otherwise mind your own business.

    It is possible that most of the virulent rhetoric is just rhetoric. Different cultures are variably prone to rhetorical flourish. Let’s not perpetuate the idiocy of “preventive action” invented by the last administration.

  9. 9 Aroun Rashid Deen
    February 6, 2010 at 02:25

    There is nothing the US or its allies could to change Iran’s political dynamics. The latest developments in Iran that saw Iranians coming out strongly against their government was not the result of outside influence. It is entirely the Iranians’. What we tend to forget is that not matter how dictatorial and ruthless politicians are, they cannot stand a united and determined public. The Iranians are ready. It’s just a matter of time.

  10. 10 Uneza
    February 6, 2010 at 05:02

    why is it that the west is sooo concerned abt Iran weapons, shouldnt every1 have the right to do whatever they deem best for them? i mean the US has it itself, Israel has it, India, Pakistan have it. why sanctions on Iran?

      February 6, 2010 at 15:04

      Iran is country of courage and wisdom , USA is nothing infront of it thats why USA HAS FAILED TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST IRAN. iran is a self made and very brave nation , Iran is clear about ts vision and confident about the actions they are taking for the development of its nation, not like an any westren countries to suppress small countries to show the power [yact] American govt is the most coward govt in the world where Iran is the bravest one who dare to do what may come on its own not blackmailing to any other country.

  11. 12 Mike from NC
    February 6, 2010 at 08:04

    Iran is only looking for power with their negotiations. We have them surrounded and they are wary of the US and our allies. Time however is on our side. The best way to metaphorically defeat Iran is to build up the economies of Iraq and Afganistan. We have nothing to fear from Iran as they incaplable of launching an attack upon its neighbors without imperiling those in power. Ask yourself what is Iran looking to gain?

    I do not believe we should or need to interfere with the politics of Iran unless we see acts of genocide or brutal massacares. Radically regime changes are only likely to result in bloodshed as we have seen in every country since the dawn of time.

  12. 13 Shadrack Nuer Machut
    February 6, 2010 at 13:29

    The opposition mass contest in Iran is an indication of wrong governance. There is no smoke without fire, therefore opposing the ruling party may bear a destructive move against the country.

  13. February 6, 2010 at 16:49

    Iran’s designs are far from clear but in the same breath Iran has shown its determination to acquire nuclear weapons and be a thorn on Israel’s back. Whether the west could dissuade Iran by imposing stringent sanctions is open to debate. There is no doubt Iran is well on its way to arming itself to the hilt with nuclear weapons. Once it succeeds it would be a serious threat to world peace! Russia and China have a very important role to play in dissuading Iran. No time should be lost. It is like a time-bomb ticking away. Iran has been extremely cagey. The world watches with abated breath as Iran and the United States wrestle each knowing that time is of essence!

  14. 15 M Ariely
    February 6, 2010 at 17:48

    One idea for the program could be to unveil to the public the Iranian regime.
    Don’t deal only with Nuk –it is only a tactical tool
    Optional subjects:
    1; Iran theocratic constitution:
    All procedures and rights are subordinate to the theocratic non elected Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader
    2: Iran ideology:
    Their ultimate desire is to export Islam until the entire world will be one mighty caliphate
    3: Iran policy to non Islamic religions.
    Teachers were convicted of the crime of teaching Bahai religion and hanged
    4: Women lows:
    *Virgin women to be executed is raped by 1 guards ahead execution
    The guard goes to the women family declaring himself as son in law
    *A husband can kill his adulterous wife without punishment while a woman is punishable by death
    *The blood money for a Muslim woman in case of murder is half that a Muslim man
    *In the courts the value of the evidence of a female witness is half that by the male
    5: A short interview with Prof Bernard Lewis the number one expert on Islam
    In his lectures he warns the world of the APOCALYPTIC MINDSET OF THE IRANIAN LEADERSHIP
    The good can go enjoy the delights of paradise and the wicked,
    6: Iran anti liberalism and democracy ideology:
    Ahmadinejad said that liberal democracy is on its last legs.

  15. 16 Elias
    February 6, 2010 at 19:11

    There is no limit as to the ambitions and intentions of the leadership of Iran, anything they say or do must not be believed or trusted.

  16. 17 Insan Mukmin
    February 6, 2010 at 19:58

    Remember the Domino Theory. You only have to be successful in one country – Afghanistan. If Afghanistan becomes a vibrant democracy with respect for international human rights, one by one the dictatorships in the Middle East will collapse. On the other hand, if the Taliban come back or if Hamid Karzai keeps on fraudulently winning elections, dictatorship and tyranny will triumph.

  17. February 6, 2010 at 23:19

    The United States,France and Great Britain needs to stop interfering in Iran’s internal affairs by sending
    in agents to stir up and finance the opposition to the
    current regime and to stop threatning them with more
    economic sanctions to cripple their economy.These countries need to give up their plans to take control
    of the whole Middle East.

  18. 19 Leonel Contreras
    February 6, 2010 at 23:39

    The Zionist estate posses nukes,then what kind of word are we living in?where is the balanced justice system .Or is that the kosher eaters use a different kind of toilets? So lets attack Iran, it does not matter if the rest of the world pays the price

  19. 20 E Blackburn
    February 6, 2010 at 23:51

    Re Idris Danglan and Bert above
    “It was US assistance that caused the gulf war.” Did you not know that Sadam caught the Kuwait drilling under his land to steal oil. He settled amicably. He caught them again and treated them rough. But who was really doing the drilling? That might be the true cause of the Gulf war, it may be that now those same drillers have all of Sadam’s oil,

    Go and read up on the history of Iran/Persia Britain had the Shar’s ear. Then Mussadeck kicked the British out. The Shar got back with US help and the revolution kicked them out. ‘A bit more than a nutshell full.’

    If the US are thinking of taking on Iran without doing some homework (A thing they forgot to do with Iraq) They should think of just how much of their ill gotten oil gains in Iraq could they transport through the Straights of Hormuz. I would think not much.

    Re what “T” says. Last paragraph
    I could foresee an Antony Eden type rerun but this time the US will come in to ostensibly” referee the fight.

  20. February 7, 2010 at 08:56

    The United States and Great Britain need to give up on
    trying to conquer Iran through destabilization by the
    use of both the C.I.A.and the M-6 aiding and abetting
    Mossavi and his henchmen.Like I said before I beleive in an Iran for the Iranians and definitly not for the
    West to manipulate.

  21. 22 E Blackburn
    February 7, 2010 at 14:05

    Has nobody woke up yet? No comments since middnight. I see in the Telegraph that the Tories are not averse to having a go at Iran. and Mr ‘Dinnerjacket’ has upped the anti. Iran must be one of the most important international problems but it seems that the blog on cat and dog lovers supersedes it.

  22. 23 Mike Waghorne
    February 7, 2010 at 17:17

    I may have missed a couple of key quotes on the latest Iran events. As I see it, the Iranians offer to start complying with demands about their nuclear materai. Rather than saying ‘that sounds positive; let’s see the details’, the US and the UK governments say ‘We don’t believe you’, so the Iranians say they will start enriching their material. Well done the UK and US!! So now we can all have a lovely war. Ordinary Iranians, Brits and Americans will get killed and the politicians can tax us all, again, to pay for it. When we moved out of the 20th century, it seems that Western powers thought we were going back to the 19th rather than into the 21st.

    By the way: I don’t like the Iranian government.

  23. 24 John LaGrua/New York
    February 7, 2010 at 21:55

    It is time for the US /UK to be silent .They have shown a lack of artfullness re:Iran. Each ill considered comment only strengthens the current regime and inflames the situation.Meddling is countewrproductive.The red herring that Iran is a threat to the security of the US/UK or Europe is nonsense.Isreal is concernd and should be for the a nuclear Iran will end the Isreali nuclear monopoly in the rregion and limit their ability to repeat Gaza like attrocitities.It was just hat advantage that Ben Gurion sought when he began the Nuclear weapons program 50 years ago..A new reality might bring sanity to all parties.

  24. 25 JanB
    February 8, 2010 at 11:28

    “The West supported Saddam in the war against Iran”

    No, the West, as well as the Soviet Union supported both sides (even the US sold weapons to Iran when the Iranians were about to lose) in order to ensure there would be no victor, they kept both sides weak as to prevent one side from gaining supremacy in the Middle East.

    Israel had a different policy though: it supported Iran wholeheartedly with weapons and money, hoping for an Iranian victory while the Palestinians under Arafat wholeheartedly supported their fellow Arab Saddam Hussein and had no qualms about the fact that Saddam did far worse things to the Kurds than the Israeli’s ever did to the Palestinians.

    Oh well, if the West supports a dictator they get blamed, if the West weakens two dictators by having them fight wars against each other they get blamed, if the West boycots a dictator by not trading with him they get blamed and if the West attacks and removes a dictator they get blamed. After all, some people are simply anti-Western and do not actually care as much about “justice” and “freedom” as they claim, they just want to rebel against the system that raised them. Usually it’s just a phase during puberty, but some people remain stuck in it.

  25. 26 Ibrahim in UK
    February 8, 2010 at 15:30

    This is the very attitude that the people of the Middle East want to be free from.
    To someone in the West, mass murder may be a “price worth paying” to maintain the West’s dominance in the Middle East

    The rest of the world do not necessary agree, especially the people who are being killed.

    The US does not have the right to kill millions of people in order to shape the political landscape of the Middle East. It does not have the right to be king-maker and king-killer against the will of the population.

    • 27 Crystal Ball
      February 8, 2010 at 20:40

      The West has dominance in the Middle East? Rubbish!
      Why do we pay such high prices for Middle East oil then?
      Why have the economies of Western countries been destabilized several times by Middle East oil prices used as a weapon?
      Where did the mass murder of MILLIONS in the Middle East take place?
      Why does Iran arrest, torture and murder it’s own people simply for protesting an election?
      What Middle East countries want Iran to have nuclear weapons?

      As usual, you see it how you want to see it and paper over all the glaring cracks!

  26. 28 E Blackburn
    February 9, 2010 at 13:57

    Im am 82 years old. When I was young I lived opposite a pub. They closed at ten o-clock then and the male clientele always spent another half hour on the pavement pontificating on football or the worlds problems. I lay in my bed listening to this confab which was diluted by the ingestion of much Bass or Guinness. To this day I call it “Ten past ten talk.” and these posts are littered with just that.
    For instance Ibrahmim in UK makes a valid statement giving chapter and verse in the form of a link. Crystal Ball follows with a question, “Where did the mass murder of millions in the Middle East take place?” If you cannot find it in your Crystal Ball look at the link.
    Above them is a post from Jan B, which has many statements that may be true or false but if anyone can add provenance to them then we would all be extremely wiser.
    We do not want to be as confounded as Jack Straw was yesterday, do we?

  27. 29 JanB
    February 9, 2010 at 22:28

    “To someone in the West, mass murder may be a “price worth paying” to maintain the West’s dominance in the Middle East

    Ibrahim in UK”

    If you are referring to the blockade of Iraq you are awfully mistaken: there was never any independent verification of the figures Saddam used in his propaganda and one can wonder how Saddam managed to continue building palaces and maintain an extremely large military if there was no food in the country. Oh, I believe many children starved to death, I just don’t believe the West is to blame since Saddam just didn’t Saddam care enough to do something about it even though he could have, after all, decimating certain segments of the population was part of his modus operandi. Saddam held his own people hostage trying to force the world to obey his demands.

    But hey, I already said it, some people just look for excuses to vent their anti-Western sentiments: when the West trades with Saddam you say they support a ruthless dictator, when the West doesn’t trade with him you say they are starving children, too easy…

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