June 8, 2015
By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher
A while back I did a piece on Somalia. The point of that article was to address some of the mischaracterizations of the country. I’m not in denial that it has its misgivings – all countries do – but since it is often used as a dismissive epithet to people who claim they oppose government interference, it was worth clearing the record. While I’m not suggesting we all drop our stuff and head out there in the name of liberty, it has gone without a formal government since the early 90’s. It’s only fair that I point out how prosperous and industrious Somalia has been despite the absence of government in contrast to its state run counterparts in the continent.
Another country in need of some myth-busting, is Iran. It indeed has its share of issues, but they aren’t the ones the American mainstream media tell us. It has similar problems that most developing countries have: corruption in the ranks, cronyism and underdeveloped infrastructures. There is certainly a political element that is very much at odds with the United States.
The US has been wrongheaded in its approach to economic diplomacy. Look at what happened with Germany after World War 1. The Treaty of Versailles was such an economic hardship for Germany, it only fell deeper into depression, making the country just desperate enough to usher in Adolf Hitler. Look at World War 2 Japan. The US imposed sanctions and a blockade that all but starved the Japanese people to a point of desperation that lead to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The US has had tenuous relationships with Russia and China. They are now finding ways to work around the US creating an alternative reserve currency in the Yuan, as well as finding support amongst other countries which have been marginalized by the US. This has left the US quite vulnerable.
So what of Iran? Is it really this herd of knuckle-dragging cave dwellers who douse their women in acid on a semi-regular basis? No. According to USA Today, Iran is a hotbed of opportunity and untapped potential:
“Iran represents enormous potential to investors. It boasts an educated population of 81 million, comparable to Germany’s, that is hungry for Western products. Its natural gas reserves rank second in the world, and its oil reserves rank fourth. Yet production in the energy sector, mining and manufacturing is far from fully developed.”
Why is any of this relevant? Because there is a good possibility that the sanctions will be lifted from Iran, and western countries will once again be allowed to engage in commerce with the Islamic Republic. The companies who did business with, and from inside, Iran prior to the sanctions want back in! These large multinational corporations were forced out by US and international sanctions, and while there might be some unfinished business that was interrupted, there is future business to be had in this centrally located country that is rich in people and resources.
Here’s a list of some of the corporations looking forward to the prospect of a sanction-lifted Iran:
- Mercedes-Benz (Germany)
- Volvo (Sweden)
- Renault (France)
- Siemens (Germany)
- Samsung (South Korea)
- Hewlett-Packard (United States)
Many other corporations from engineering, oil and gas, steel, and shipping from around the world are looking to get into Iran. Not necessarily to headquarter or invert there, but to do business with and within that republic. German, Swedish, French, Italian, South Korean, Finnish, Belgian, Indian, Polish, and Russian businesses all wait with bated breath to see if they will have the freedom to engage in commerce with Iran.
The biggest hold out on lifting the sanctions is the US. While other countries are looking to strike a deal and resume business dealings with Iran, if the US continues to uphold its own trade embargoes. The US and many western countries seem to have some trepidation about Iran’s military ambitions. It’s interesting that the US would find Iran to be a threat, given its own history and behavior.
As an individual, when I think about people who actually poses a threat to me, I’m more concerned with those who have actually DONE something to that would warrant being fearful of them. For example, I have read more stories of police brutality in the United States, than Iranian nationals infiltrating our borders and killing Americans. The latter has never actually happened, despite our porous borders and relatively lax gun laws in many states.
As a country, then, when I think about who poses a physical threat to the citizens’ way of life in the United States, I find Iran to be rather benign. I find the United State itself, however, to be a threat to everyone… especially and including her own citizens. I recommend clicking here for a side by side comparison as well as a very insightful timeline between the US and Iran.
So when I see people like David Ibsen from United Against a Nuclear Iran leveling conditions such as: “If we can get guarantees they won’t use additional funds to fund Hezbollah, the Basij domestic militias to increase domestic surveillance, internal police forces, Houthi rebels and other proxies, that would be great,” I think, well, what if the US were to make a similar commitment in its foreign policy then? If the US stopped funding rebellion groups in the Middle East, stopped funding Israel, and stopped militarizing its own police force domestically, that would be great! Amazing that regardless of whether the police is local or international, they declare their authority through force, and exempt themselves from the very rules they wish to impose and enforce.
The same country that believes we have a right to bear arms, doesn’t believe other countries have that same right. The same country that has funded and started countless terror organizations, condemns that very act if/when Iran does it. The same country that hides behind civil rights and humanitarianism, is bedfellows with Saudi Arabia: one of the most ruthless regimes in the Middle East.
I watched a very interesting video by Rick Steves. If you have the time, click that link, and watch it. It will certainly challenge the narrative Americans have been fed. I’m concerned for the United States regarding the deplorable misinformation we’ve been fed about Iran. For a country that is supposed to be blood thirsty and out to level the earth to bring humanity to its knees, what I actually saw were people not much different than myself, going about their daily business, living rather peacefully, in a country rich in history, culture, and mystery.
While I’m told Iran wants to destroy Jews far and wide, the Jewish synagogues within Iran have never been bombed or attacked. Rather they stand in peace, Iranian Jews are left to worship in peace, and both Mohammed and Moses are equally represented in their libraries and hospitals.
I’m not saying Iran is some shining beacon of freedom. I’m saying it’s misrepresented and therefore very misunderstood. Clearly there are many businesses that find some value in that country, and that they chose Iran – the current sworn mortal enemy of Merika – over the supposed ally Saudi Arabia, says something.
Bijan Khajehpour of Atieh International, a consulting firm in Vienna that focuses on Iran, had a business operating out of Tehran. He was arrested in 2009 during the Iranian crackdown against “pro-democracy” movements. He was released, but forbidden to return to Iran. Despite that experience, he says this: “We live in a region where there’s a lot of potential for conflict and misunderstanding and confrontation. The only thing that will reduce the tension and push the region to greater understanding is economic interaction and greater interdependence.”
I couldn’t agree more. Commerce and free trade goes a LOT further in building peaceful relationships than embargoes and sanctions. The former is an open and unrestricted relationship, the latter is fear based and often predicated on ignorance and hyperbole.