The Danger of Super-Nationalism and Grandiose Illusions*
“10Mehr” Group, February 1, 2024 —
This is not a “chess game”; it is a historical battle for the future of humanity!
Today, there are few people who do not acknowledge the decisive role of Iran in the historical process of transition to a multipolar world. The eastward orientation policy adopted by the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with its undeniable geopolitical position and military power, has made Iran one of the most important players in the international arena. And for this reason, there is not a day that the imperialist powers do not mention Iran in their media, along with China and Russia, as an enemy that must be suppressed and neutralized at any cost.
And this enmity is based on objective facts. Today, Iran has become a superior power in the region; Iran supports the forces of the Resistance Front in a completely calculated way; The capabilities and military power of Iran and the consequences of a possible conflict with Iran are clearly understood by the Zionist State of Israel and its supporting imperialist powers; Iran has been able to bypass the maximum sanctions of the United States and its Western allies and has neutralized their direct effects to a large extent; Iran has become a member of the Shanghai Treaty, BRICS, and the Eurasian Economic Union; Iran has signed strategic economic and military agreements with Russia, and long-term economic agreements with China; Iran has signed political, economic, and even military strategic agreements with many member countries of the resistance movement in Latin America, Africa, and Asia; And, in its latest military operation, it has targeted bases of terrorist forces supported by the US and Israel in Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan.
All this has not only shaken the imperialist governments and forced them to react, but, unfortunately, has fueled some super-nationalist tendencies and grandiose illusions among some of the patriotic and progressive forces of Iran — tendencies and illusions that can be very dangerous not only for Iran’s national interests but for the multilateralist movement in the world. These types of tendencies and illusions have now become very apparent, especially after Iran’s recent attack on terrorist bases in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
From Grandiose Nationalism to Dangerous “Chess Game”
Along with Iran’s growing power in the region, and its increasing role on the global scene, the signs of the growth of extreme nationalism and grandiose tendencies among some of Iran’s patriotic and progressive forces were gradually revealed. Talks of “Iran’s civilizational hegemony”, “Iran itself is a bomb, it does not need a bomb”, and even “Russia and China should submit to Iran in the region” surfaced. At first, with an optimistic view, such statements could be attributed to the patriotism and national pride of their speakers, but gradually these talks were upgraded to certain arguments about Iran as a “third pole” equal to, and even a rival to, China and Russia in the “global chess game.” And now, following Iran’s cross-border attack on terrorists’ bases in Pakistan, it has become the open position of some patriotic forces regarding Iran’s foreign policy towards China.
The essence of these positions can be summarized as follows:
— Iran is involved in a global chess game in which the United States and Europe are on one side and China and Russia are on the other side. In this game, Iran is the third pole and must play its own game.
— The main dispute is between the US and China, each of which pursues its own interests.
— The U.S. is trying to restrain China in the maritime arena, and China is trying to restrain the U.S. over the land (Belt and Road project, etc.).
— Today, the Axis of Resistance is trying to put pressure on the United States and Europe to stop supporting the Israeli genocide by closing the international waterways between Asia and Europe (Bab el-Mandeb Strait).
— Iran and Russia are involved in this battle, but China, as the main party in the fight with the US, has not played its role and has not carried out its own “responsibility.”
— China’s goal is for Iran and Russia to engage with the West and wear themselves out so China can negotiate with the United States as the main power of the future world order.
— Iran’s missile attack on Pakistan in the aftermath the Indian Foreign Minister’s visit to Iran was a warning to China that it has not fulfilled its duties, and that Iran, by creating military tension with Pakistan and reproachment with India, can jeopardize China’s plans (including the belt and road project).
— Thus, Iran should play the same role China played in the 1970’s between the United States and the Soviet Union, by using its cards to get concessions from both sides of the conflict: by being close to India as a bridge to the West to get concessions from China; and by blocking the international waterways between Asia and Europe (Bab el-Mandeb Strait) to get concessions from the U.S.
— In other words, if Iran turned to the East to contain the U.S., now it can turn to the West to contain the East. And, in the meantime, it can ally itself with any side that gives more concessions to Iran.
Such a dangerous approach cannot be seen as anything other than the Machiavellian revival of the old policy of “neither East, nor West” as an alternative to the current pro-East policy — an alternative that has lost its true meaning since the dismantling of the socialist camp.
Iran is not the “Third Pole”!
There is no doubt that the Iranian government should adopt and implement its foreign policy based on the country’s national interests at any moment and in all circumstances. But, at the same time, the same national interests dictate that the country’s foreign policy should be based on an accurate assessment of the situation, balance, and arrangement of forces in the world, and more importantly, a realistic understanding of Iran’s economic, political, and military capabilities. And this is precisely where that super-nationalist sentiments and self-aggrandizing delusions caused by pride for a few tactical victories can entrap the country in uncalculated adventures, the only victims of which will be the Iranian people and the country’s national interests.
The fundamental problem with such an approach is that Iran is now seen as an equal power on par with China and Russia in the international arena, which can act as a “third pole” in competition with these two countries. But such an approach neglects the fact that Iran’s current position on the world stage is more than anything else owed to: First, the global trend that was started by China and Russia; Second, Iran’s strategic, economic, and military agreements with these two countries; And third, the fact that the essence and precondition for the victory of this process is the close cooperation of these three countries based on their common interests in the international arena and not on narrow-minded competition at the level of national interests. In other words, it has been the policy of turning to the East that has put Iran in such a position, not a Machiavellian maneuvering between East and West.
But such a view also suffers from an inner illusion, and that is equating Iran’s power with China and Russia. Militarily, Russia is the second world power. Russia has been able to singlehandedly stand against the NATO powers and ensure their defeat in Ukraine. Russiat has been able to neutralize the U.S. economic pressures through government control over banks, financial institutions, foreign trade, and limiting the economic and political role of the oligarchs; and despite severe Western sanctions, by implementing a decisive state foreign exchange policy that brought its currency, the Ruble, to an even stronger position than before. And because of all this, the Russian government now has the support of the overwhelming majority of its population.
China, in turn, is the second economic power in the world, which is expected to surpass the U.S. economy in the next decade. Despite the presence of big capitalists in the country’s economy China, under the leadership of its Communist Party, has been able to prevent their capitalists from exercising power over the government and its policies. China has a developed planned economy. The Chinese government has managed to eliminate poverty for nearly eight hundred million of its citizens within four decades and is on its way to eliminate poverty from the entire population. The government and the Communist Party of China have the support of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people.
In short, neither of these two countries are internally vulnerable, and are well positioned to challenge the U.S. and its allies in the international arena with the assurance of their internal security.
Can we have the same judgment about Iran? Has Iran been able to stop the financial oligarchs and pro-Western neoliberal capitalists from exercising power over the government and setting its policies? Has the Iranian government been able to overcome the economic chaos caused by widespread corruption? Has the Iranian government been able to stabilize its currency situation and overcome the astronomical inflation that has dragged millions of hardworking Iranians into the abyss of poverty? Has the government of Iran been able to guarantee the social justice and democratic rights of its citizens, which is the main condition for their support of the government and its foreign policy? Isn’t imperialism, with the help of its fifth column inside the country and relying on existing grievances, fueling a new crisis in Iran every passing day? Do China and Russia also have such Achilles’ heels against U.S. and the West?
And does the government of Iran, like the governments of China and Russia, have the necessary internal support and security to implement the policy that these deluded friends prescribe for it as the “third pole”? And if the answer is negative, shouldn’t such prescriptions be considered a manifestation of a disguised anti-China sentiment?
This is not a “Chess Game”!
Even if we leave aside the super-nationalist sentiments and grandiose delusions, there remains a fundamental problem in the argument of these friends; a problem that has been responsible for leading them to such Machiavellian positions — and that is seeing the process of transformation taking place on the world stage as a “chess game.”
In a chess game, the only thing that matters to the parties is their own victory and nothing else. And obviously, this victory or defeat remains with the two players who are involved in the game and does not affect the fate of anyone else. Thus, the parties have the right to focus all their attention on the result of their own game and bother about nothing else but their victory.
But can this also be said about the global battle that our country, Iran, is involved in? Does the victory or loss of each side only affect the players themselves without determining the fate of others as well? Will each “player” just take its share and go home after the end of this “game” too? In this global battle, too, will the victory of the U.S. and the West have the same consequences for the peoples of the world as the victory of China and the East? Doesn’t it matter for the peoples of the world who will be the winner of this global battle?
Doesn’t the discussion that Iran should go towards whichever side that gives more concessions mean that these friends have lost their strategic compass and are playing with the fate of the whole humanity?
The peoples of the world have twice experienced the disastrous consequences of the victorious rule of imperialism, especially the United States — first after the Second World War, and then after the collapse of the socialist camp. For them, the global battle that is going on today is not just a “chess game,” but a historical battle for the future of humanity! And in this battle, the future of humanity cannot, and should not, be sacrificed to nationalist narrow-mindedness.
Translated from Farsi.