Mod5 Discussion – Iran and the West

| January 31, 2017

Scholars agree that Western interference has helped to shape Iranian political life before, during, and after the revolution. Share your thoughts on the question:

Has Western influence been good for a country like Iran? Should the West try to have more influence, such as on Iran’s nuclear power program and their politics? Or has Western influence been more negative – or problematical – and, therefore, the West should be very cautious about imposing itself?

Reference:

Hauss, C. (2015). Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges, 9th Edition. [Bookshelf Ambassadored]. Retrieved from https://ambassadored.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305161757/

The state of Iran is complex and hard to understand especially if you are not from Iran. For the West, the Iranian revolution is still tied tightly to the seizure of the American Embassy and Americans in Tehran, but much political change is going on in Iran even while the old revolutionaries cling to power. It is important to study these contemporary events; it is equally important to try to grasp Iranian theocracy and Khomeini’s theocratic model. Islam itself is diverse and one should never generalize about what it is like. For instance, why did Iran and Iraq, both Muslim countries, fight a bitter war for so many years? And, if Sunnis and Shiites are expected to work together in a new Iraqi government, why isn’t that an issue in Iran? Other questions: What are the Islamic charitable foundations and why do they control so much economic activity? Why do some say they weaken the government? How can state capitalism include such a powerful privately owned small business sector?

While studying Iran, prepare to make comparisons with other Third World countries. There are useful political-economic parallels with Nigeria to examine, patron-client systems to compare with Mexico, difficulties liberalizing the economy on a par with India’s difficulties. As much as Iranians and Iraqis have their unique identities and histories, there are similar patterns of authoritarian rule and secular-religious divides in the two countries.

In the evolving politics of a new Iraqi state, it seems that attempts to gain power have more often been made with bombs than guns. Saddam Hussein especially seemed to assert his power through force. And that pattern continues. But behind the scenes that journalists can see, from the safety of the Green Zone or the heavily guarded hotels, other kinds of politics have been going on. What you can work hard to see, amidst the carnage left by partisan bombers, is the truth and reality behind the political actors, the political ideas, and the political methods that form the basis for news coming out of Iraq.

When you studied conflict in China, you probably recognized factional politics within the Communist Party. Is it really outlandish to suggest that there are politics within the Iraqi state? Are there parallels between Iraqi and Iranian politics?

Current News

As always, be sure to catch up on today’s news of this module’s country – Iraq. Check any websites recommended in your textbook. See also articles in your online library.

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