COMMENTARY |At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Israeli government tried to puncture Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive, claiming it is all a “confidence game.” But you can actually be confident that Rouhani’s regime is telling the truth.
That’s because President Rouhani and the U.S. have the same foe: the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. We can trust the newly elected government on nuclear diplomacy because we have mutual interests.
At a recent meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) in New Orleans, Troy University Professor Clifton Sherrill and I locked horns on the issue of whether we can cooperate with the Iranians. Dr. Sherrill pointed out that we can’t fully trust the Iranians on nuclear issues because they are looking out for their own interest.
“Who doesn’t?” I responded. The U.S. looks out for itself. So do Israel and Iran. One is reminded of British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, who said “Nations have no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.”
Well, the Americans, Israelis and Iranians are about to have a mutual interest: weakening the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The IRGC is a powerful militant faction within Iran. Their members are the ones with the foreign policy that targets Israelis and Americans with terrorism, and were linked to Shiite insurgents in Iraq. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani’s enemy, came from their ranks.
Rouhani is trying to cut the IRG down to size with an anti-corruption drive, and is trying to stop their meddling in politics. Unlike other reformers like Mohammed Khatami, Rouhani has the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a conservative, but one who saw just how dangerous Ahmadinejad became, threatening even the position of Islamic clerics like himself, as well as turning the world against Iran with his anti-Israeli rhetoric and reckless nuclear policy.
Ahmadinejad wrecked the economy in the process, a combination of corruption and sanctions. Rouhani is trying to undo all of this. His reelection is based upon a recovering economy, not building the bomb.
That’s why the American Congressional drive towards sanction threats against the Rouhani regime just plays into the hands of the most anti-American group in Iran, the biggest threat to the U.S. next to al-Qaeda. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-Rouhani talk empowers the most anti-Semitic group in the world. Both our Congress and the Israeli government mean well, but are only hurting themselves by indirectly helping one of our greatest threats in the Middle East.
We can trust Rouhani, because he and our country face a common enemy. That’s the best reason to trust the new Iranian government.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.