By Dayan Jayatilleka –
Things just moved, changed, in the world and Sri Lanka, and I hope we are taking notice. Let’s start with the world and move on to Sri Lanka.
President Trump’s pullout from the Iran deal sharply enhances the prospect of war in the Middle East, with devastating consequences for the world economy as a whole and the economies of developing (or in our case, under-developing) countries of the global South, in particular. The neoconservative hawks in the Trump administration—most notably National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—and their allies the Netanyahu administration and the Saudi monarchy, are clearly hoping to provoke Iran into resuming its nuclear weapons program which it had abandoned even before the signing of the deal.
Iran may then become the target of an attack on the ground that it is “racing” towards a nuclear weapon. The gamble is that the US will back Israel and that the two military machines, being the most formidable alliance on the planet, supported by the far less impressive Saudi Arabia, will be able to prevail over Iran. The ultimate goal is that military defeat will trigger regime change in Tehran, reversing the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
For Israel, the goal is strategic and regional: weaken Iran, the Hezbollah and Hamas. For the US, the goal is grand-strategic and global: push Russia back in the region, and tighten the encirclement of Moscow, thereby weakening Putin– and by weakening Russia, also weaken China, the ultimate enemy. This is how the hawks in the US hope to reverse the relative decline of US global hegemony and the rise of Eurasia, chiefly China backed by Russia.
Matters may not be that easy. Iran is a highly motivated state and society. It is motivated by a combination of factors that social scientists recognize as the strongest combination of motivational factors in the world: religion (any theistic religion) and revolution (any type of real revolution). In the Iranian case there is also the powerful motivator of civilizational nationalism/patriotism.