Joseph Cirincione on USA's "Grandiose Paranoia"
Foreign policy analyst Joseph Cirincione is Senior Vice President for National Security and International Affairs at the Center for American Progress. Prior to this he spent eight years as the director of the Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Cirincione was interviewed on National Public Radio on August 30, 2006, where he was invited to discuss the nuclear standoff between Iran and the United States. In his view, what the U.S. likes to describe as 'Islamic fascism' is in fact, little more than nationalism. Mistaking nationalistic uprisings with foreboding "isms", he argues, is a strategic error; and to mush together Al Qayda with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as a unified threat is "nonsense".
Further, Cirincione says that the unpopular Iranian government is "an imposed regime that has failed", and the nuclear conflict allows it to maintain its grip on the "intensely pro-Western" Iranian people and elude accountability on basic domestic issues.
Here is his response to a question from NPR host Terry Gross about regime change:
"What about the track record that we have in Iran? I mean, we helped overthrow the Mossadegh government- the democratically elected Mossadegh government in 1953, to install the Shah, so.. what is our history of regime change like in Iran?
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: I would say, very few people in America remember that the United States and the British cooperated to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 -- and that almost everyone in Iran remembers that. They remember the Shah, people lived through the brutal regime of the Shah - he was our guy in Iran. We were going to make Iran into the policemen of the Gulf. That was our idea. So even- so when the Shah proposed a very extensive civilian nuclear program we approved it. The Shah wanted to build 20 nuclear reactors - that's what the government says they want to build now. We okayed it- in fact, we wanted to sell him those reactors. Even when the CIA discovered in the 70's that the Shah was secretly working on a nuclear weapons program, we still okayed Iran's plans then to open up a uranium enrichment facility and a plutonium reprocessing facility. We went ahead with that because we said, 'that's OK, he's our guy'.
When the Shah
was overthrown in 1979, the Islamic republic that came in then shut down
those programs, they wanted no part of Western technology, they
considered this to be a weakness, and they wanted Iran to be self
reliant. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1981, the Islamic republic
reconsidered that, and that's when we believe the program restarted. The
Iranians know this, they understand this history, and they constantly
accuse the U.S. of a double standard of wanting to dictate to
Iran what they can and can't do, and that's why this issue is so
powerful in Iran.