Friday, April 20, 2007

A fine line...

Zo,

(Sorry for a response in a new post form, but this is a little too lengthy for the comment section. This is a continuing response to comments posted on my original post of Defense Statecraft: Walking that fine line of deterrence, for those interested)

Let me first say that I stand corrected on stating that Ahmadinejad is recognized as the head of the Iranian state. You are correct in stating that it is in fact Khamenei who represents the head of state of Iran, since 1989 I believe. What I should have said is that Ahmadinejad is the head of the government, which you correctly stated for me. So I thank you for that.

I will say that I have read the Iranian constitution from 1979 and its subsequent expansion in 1989 – which expanded the presidential powers as I am sure you know - and I agree that many more should read it so as to allow for a better understanding of the functioning of the Iranian government but also the Iranian culture. But enough of this agreeing; let us get to the more entertaining subject of how you are wrong.

First, let me point out that your opening paragraph has switched the sides of deterrence inappropriately. You state that “this means they are trying to deter an individual and his agenda rather than deterring an ideological foundation and a whole system of government, which is considerably harder.” This is incorrect. The US, while certainly acting in a deterrence fashion at some level – almost all states can be seen acting in some form of deterrence at all times, both during times of war and peace – is not the deterring state in my argument. I argued that it was in fact Iran who was acting in a deterrence fashion through their actions and political statements to show their resolve to war should they be challenged. The US as a hegemonic entity is the aggressor here, not the deterring state as you state in your opening paragraph.

Second, while I agree that Ahmadinejad is under Kham in the structure of the state, the Iranian constitution under the Executive Branch section states that the executive branch is is of the utmost importance to the "implementing of laws and ordinances of Islam for the sake of establishing the rule of just relations over society, and considering, too, its vital role in paving the way for the attainment of the ultimate goal of life, the executive power must work toward the creation of an Islamic society." This places a large burden and importance on the executive branch of which the Ahmadinejad is the topmost figure.

Later on in the constitution under Article 60 you find the support to my previous statement as it states,“The functions of the executive, except in the matters that are directly placed under the jurisdiction of the Leadership by the Constitution, are to be exercised by the President and the Ministers.” This confirms my previous statement on the functioning of the executive branch.

Lastly, you will find under Article 176 the following: “In order to safeguarding the national interests and preserving the Islamic Revolution, the territorial integrity, and the national sovereignty, a Supreme Council for National Security presided over by the President shall be constituted to fulfill the following responsibilities: 1. Determining the defense and national security policies within the framework of general policies determined by the Leader.”

All of these articles support the fact that Ahmadinejad is a creadible leader of the Iranian state and his statements and actions must be taken seriously regardless of whether or not he is the absolute head of the state, especially in acts of war/defense. It is not that I am applying a western view of the world incorrectly as you stated, but simply that Ahmadinejad is a leader of the Iranian state and his views reflect the state itself even if he isn’t the Supreme Leader. Furthermore, in a speech given on March 21st of this year Khamenei stated that, “"Iran has acted in compliance with the international regulations in accessing nuclear energy. But if they act against the law and use the Security Council as a tool for depriving the Iranian people of their undeniable right, we can also act against the law and we will do so.” This in itself suggests that the President has the support of the Supreme Leader, thus making his statements all the more credible and threatening and more importantly bolstering my original point all the more. This is a fine line Iran is walking.

2 comments:

Lorenzo Valla said...

TP-
Lots of work today, little time to fully assail your continued folly and persistence in error; kindly forgive any errors in phrasing.

-You quote from the Iranian Con: "implementing of laws and ordinances of Islam for the sake of establishing the rule of just relations over society, and considering, too, its vital role in paving the way for the attainment of the ultimate goal of life, the executive power must work toward the creation of an Islamic society." This places a large burden and importance on the executive branch of which the Ahmadinejad is the topmost figure.
---Yeah, but all actions must still be ‘Islamic’ granting Kham. a blank-cheque veto. Sorry, tex—read it again. Ditto on your next paragraph. Remember, clerics must have the authority to override any action of the state; that’s the entire point of velayat al-faqih

-“In order to safeguarding the national interests and preserving the Islamic Revolution, the territorial integrity, and the national sovereignty, a Supreme Council for National Security presided over by the President shall be constituted to fulfill the following responsibilities: 1. Determining the defense and national security policies within the framework of general policies determined by the Leader.”
--Why would you quote this—it fully supports me? ‘Determining the defense and national security policies’ belongs in the portfolio of Supreme Leader Kham.

- “creadible leader of the Iranian state”
--Never argued contrary—Ahm is, however, subject to veto and review by Kham. Why couldn’t Khatami affect reform? Kham. didn’t want it, ergo no change.

-“ but simply that Ahmadinejad is a leader of the Iranian state and his views reflect the state itself even if he isn’t the Supreme Leader”
--No. That’s like saying Dick Cheney represents the opinion of the president—sometimes. The key is that both can be overridden at any time for any reason.

-“This in itself suggests that the President has the support of the Supreme Leader,”
--As always, depending on the issue. Note Kham's reticence in speeches about Holocaust denial ( there might have been a few, but not many-- certainly not as many as Ahm.) I googled “holocaust denial khameini” and found a great interview with Ahm. Executive assistant: “"it’s impossible to address issues of vital importance for the country without the approval of Ayatollah Khamenei." Any further questions?

The Prince said...

Zo,

It appears to me we are in agreement about many things and yet we continue to argue. I never stated that the President couldn't be vetoed. I completely agree with this, checks and balances at work at all times.

My arguement, if you will remember, is that his statements, because of his position in the government, carry a weight behind them that must be acknowledged by other actors in the international community. Simple as that.

You are moving past that arguement into exactly how much weight these statements carry due to those above him in the Iranian governmental system. I don't care that there are people above him, that is all fine and good. I, and deterrence theory, simply care that he is in a very strong position of power and he is making statements that move past deterrence toward agression. This is the point of the arguement and is why I have the quote that you question concerning the Security Council. It shows that he has a very strong position of power and that he is a strong representation of the stance of the Iranian government. No where in deterrence theory does it state that you must be the topmost actor of a state for deterrence theory to apply. Any person that can affect a perception of the intentions of a state can effect the deterrence modeling game.

Furthermore, if we agree that the issues discussed and inforced by the Security Council are simply in the "portfolio of Supreme Leader Kham" then one would assume that the President, since he presides over this committee, would know the Leaders stance on issues and would not stray far from them.

Regarding your last paragraph, again we find agreement. I agree that the two - the president and the Supreme Leader - will disagree on certain aspects, but since these speeches have gone on for so long without change, I believe I am safe to say that Ahm has at least some support bolstering his actions or they would have stopped by now.

Unless you have new points that are of interest in your follow up post this will probably be my last. I enjoy the discussion but I too have far too much work to do. Good luck with yours.