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Interests Or Ignorance? What Drives The West's Appeasement Of Iran

Whether out of cynicism, greed or basic lack of knowledge, the West has willingly embraced the fabricated vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a slightly unruly, but essentially legitimate government with which it can do business.

A photo of two women walking past a poster of Iran's president

Some Western countries are insisting on pursuing a dialogue with Tehran

Yusef Mosaddeqi


LONDON — Since the 1979 revolution in Iran, there has been strong support in the West for the idea of talking to and working with the Islamic Republic. For starters, this can be explained by Western governments' considerable economic interests in Iran, which endures to this day.

In turn, inside Iran, some politicians swiftly adopted the "good cop/bad cop" approach to dealing with the West. They would play the role of liberals, and keep open the door to a sham dialogue between the "infidel" West and the self-styled homeland of Shia Muslims.

The purported liberals of the Islamic Republic rely upon two groups of allies (or mercenaries) in the West to help them sell tickets to their circus. The first are journalists working in the mainstream Western media and the second are scholars, researchers and "experts" working in culture and academia. These groups, for their undoubted role in shaping opinion and imposing dominant narratives, typically attract the attention of power wielders in backward, dictatorial states.

Manipulating past and present

A glance at reports from the West's principal news outlets and at specialist journals show that the rulers of the Islamic Republic have spent big money on buying influence, directly or indirectly, over the past four decades. All despots and kleptocrats do this, and Iran has done it quite well.

The most striking recurrent theme among those in the media doing Iran's bidding is the attempt to present a traumatized, ransacked society as natural and ordinary. The aim of this perfect lie is to establish some dangerous ideas in Western minds, namely that events in Iran are like those of other, developing countries and indeed that Iran is a few steps ahead of other states in the region for its ability to weave modern cultural elements into its religious and traditional culture.

Iran's foreign foot soldiers in culture and universities play a related but different role. To establish the idea that their state is perfectly normal, criminal rulers must aggrandize the nation's past, present and future before Western eyes.

The two sets of actors have their respective roles: Those in the media are tasked with falsifying facts about present-day conditions in Iran, while the academics work on distorting the Islamic Republic's past and also its future prospects for the Western audience.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdoulahian holding a press conference

Iranian Foreign Ministry/ZUMA

No sign of ethics or decency

Remember, Western universities, and especially those in North America, are run like companies, so profits and resources always come first. In that environment, those who pay for research will inevitably shape and control its contents and themes.

It is easier of course to identify the shenanigans of regime promoters in the media than it is in academia. Yet what comes out of a good many Iranian and Oriental studies departments is as harmful as the fake and half-fake news peddled on contemporary Iran. Their common assumption is that the Islamic Republic is an ordinary, legal polity that simply followed the collapse of another system in a progressive process of development.

The reporters and academics who serve the Islamic Republic, wittingly or not, are employed for this one task: to "normalize" the regime's past, present and future. As the apologists of its crimes, they have long since discarded any professional ethics or decency.

Ideological gangsterism

Iran's regime may well be the world's only example of "ideological gangsterism." This means it has combined its vast criminal resources with a millenarian ideology, while redirecting the state apparatus and public purse toward particular goals. Iran's revolutionary gangsters have a hand, and a share, in so many criminal activities in the world. They are not after profits principally, but rather spreading their ideology and imposing their catastrophic vision across the world.

While some Western politicians have begun to catch onto the clerical regime's nature, many have yet to take stock of its crimes. This is what ultimately explains why they insist on pursuing a dialogue with Tehran. Indeed, they are swayed by the nonsense emitted by interested media and academic departments. It seems the Western resolve to keep talking to the regime rests on the enduring pillars of naivety and cynicism.

It is like making a deal with the devil; no sane individual would agree to such a meeting. Must you talk to the devil to accept the reality of evil? He'll only deceive you!

One recent image from Iran says it all: the morality police in Tehran shoving a girl into a van. Elsewhere in the world, this is only how wild animals are treated. In Iran, this is the reality of life, not the pictures the regime and its bidders prefer to circulate of cheerful young people in gardens abloom.

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Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen


HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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