Iranian President Lacks Moral Character

For those of us who have been attentive to the geopolitics of the Middle East, we cannot help but frown upon the irresponsible manner in which Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has conducted his state’s foreign policy.

In order to understand the ultraconservative nature of the newly elected leader, one needs to look no further than the belligerent remarks he made concerning Israel.

Last month, he echoed the outlandish convictions of Iran’s 1979 revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that Israel should be ‘wiped out from the [world] map.’ Naturally, his absurd remark sparked condemnation not only from the members of the European Union and the U.N. Security Council, but also from the Palestinian Authority.

Wisely distancing the P.A. from idiocy of the Iranian president, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat maintained, ‘What we need to be talking about is adding the state of Palestine to the map, and not wiping Israel from the map.’

It should come as no surprise that the president’s statement would characterize the ill mentality of an individual who partook in the illegal seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran almost 26 years ago. Just as the world was hoping to re-establish seminormal relations with the long-isolated country, Ahmadinejad’s irrational behavior merely contributed to Iran’s lack of credibility in negotiating any type of ‘peaceful’ settlement with members of the international community. This especially holds true for its far-fetched claim to be enriching uranium merely in order to provide its citizens with a reliable source of energy.

The diplomatic means by which the Bush administration has dealt with Iran have proven ineffective. While the European Union 3, which is made up of Britain, France and Germany, unsuccessfully continue to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program, Ahmadinejad’s government reallocates ever-increasing shares of his country’s GDP away from the development of the state’s social infrastructure in order to supplement its defense spending.

In spite of the IAEA’s recent recommendation to refer Iran’s case to the U.N. Security Council (a decision that should have been made years ago), the international community has adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude in conducting its relations with the rogue state. Meanwhile, Iran obnoxiously threatens to sever its economic ties with any state that espouses this referral. This would ultimately translate to unfavorable terms of trade for countries that currently enjoy inexpensive Iranian oil.

U.S. military involvement should undoubtedly be the last resort in coercing Iran to ‘change its ways.’ It is, indeed, possible to facilitate a regime change in Iran without having to commit to another costly war.

For example, steps should be taken (beyond the traditional Security Council sanctions) to show the Iranian populace that the policies of the radical Islamic regime are counterproductive to the overall welfare of the country and its people.

There are several ways of doing this. First, President Bush should actively campaign to persuade every country that has economic ties with Iran to terminate their trade relations with the regime.

Given that an estimated one-half of Iran’s net revenue is derived from oil exports, an international oil embargo would dramatically reduce the country’s wealth to the extent that it would be virtually impossible to sustain even a moderately healthy economy.

The ensuing rise in the unemployment rate along with higher inflation rates would certainly result in a citizen backlash against the regime, which has the potential of catalyzing another revolution.

Second, the United Nations should seriously begin to consider Iran’s expulsion (or, at the very least, indefinite suspension) from the international organization. This would further isolate the state from the international community, thus prohibiting any benefits that Iran would otherwise enjoy as a member-state, including allowing the propaganda that stems from its immoderate views to be heard in a body as respectable as the General Assembly (as was the case in September’s U.N. World Summit).

At a time when social and political instabilities in the Middle East (arising from the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) seem difficult enough to resolve, Ahmadinejad does the world a great disservice by publicly reflecting the views of Iran’s ‘Supreme Revolutionary Council.’

I deliberately avoid claims that his conservative platform reflects the beliefs of the Iranian populace because I (coming from an Iranian background myself) do not believe that the masses would be foolish enough to elect such extremists in free and fair elections. Nevertheless, we can only hope that Ahmadinejad would have enough sense not to act upon his statement made on Oct. 26 while expecting the international community to support him in his sick cause.

Ryan Cadry is a fourth-year international studies major.