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Expansionist Roles of Governments during Warfare

Naheed Ali
As we probably already know, the twenty-first century is a period home to a number of political advancements and shortcomings alike.  But an activist may agree that one such outstanding corridor is that of the expansionist’s roles of government in today’s war-stricken atmosphere.  Take for instance, the role that Iran is proposing to play in Iraq as of this year.  In January Iran revealed inexplicitly that it will try to bring about increasing economic and military ties with Iraq.

What happens when one of the strongest nations (e.g. Iran) makes such a statement that arises directly from the upper hand in government? In 1979, the Republic under Constitution, named Ayatollah Sayyid Rudolph Musavi Khomeini as “faqih” and ultimate decision maker.  The executive branch included elected president, responsible for selecting prime minister and cabinet, which had to be approved and re-examined periodically by parliament, or a congressional Majlis, elected legislative assembly. There was a Judiciary independent of both executive and Majlis. Iran’s Council of Guardians, consisting of six religious scholars appointed by faqih and six lawyers approved by Majlis, ensured conformity of legislation with Islamic law.  On such account, most western nations may consider Iran a threat to world peace; a superficial concept that I have never understood.

Then, there was the Republican Party, created in 1979 and ultimately dissolved in 1987 due to unmanageable factions. The Iran Freedom Movement existed in 1987 but had been intimidated into silence. Opposition political parties existed in exile abroad: monarchists, democrats, Kurds, Islamic groups, and Marxists. The regime stressed mass political participation through religious institutions rather than political parties. Factories, schools, and offices had Islamic associations similar to mosque voluntary associations. Fervent religious zeal and support for the Revolution promoted by the Pasdaran (the revolutionary Guard Corps) just rendered situations worse over time.

Iran has ever since been demarcated into twenty-four provinces, each subdivided into counties, overseen by a governor general.  Most administrative officials are actually appointed by, and are answerable to central Ministry of Interior. Furthermore, each county has a clerical “imam jomeh” chosen from among county senior clergy. Now here is one of the organizational features that are in turn sometimes perceived by western nations as a threat:  This senior clergy actually serves as a direct representative of the faqih, mentioned earlier in the article.  In my opinion, democracy works at the level of the people, whether rule is by religious clerics or liberal politicians. However, there is no reason whatsoever for westerners to fear this privilege just because it exists in Iran; it is not affecting the people living outside of Iran in any direct way.

What does concern with expansionism have to do with foreign affairs, especially with a country like Iran? Policies of Islamic revolutionary government based on the export of Islamic upheaval and liberation of Third World countries generally coincide.  Other major policies advocate independence from both West and East, especially United States.  For example, the war with Iraq, which began in 1980, had been very costly in men and material. The war ended with Iran's acceptance of a cease- fire in July 1988, but the blame still lies not only on Iran/Iraq’s policies, but also on the overall input of countries in the West.

Is Expansionism ethical? Aristotle is an ideal ethicist, so for now we’ll look up to him for advice—Aristotle’s Politics occupy the second part of a treatise of which the Ethics is undoubtedly the first part. It takes us back to the Ethics as the Ethics looks forward to the Politics. Aristotle never separated, as most are inclined to do, the spheres of the statesman and the moralist. In the Ethics he has described the character necessary for the good life, but that life is for him essentially to be lived in society, and when in the last chapters of the Ethics he comes to the practical application of his inquiries, that finds expression not in moral exhortations addressed to the individual but in a description of the legislative opportunities of the statesman. In this case we are considering expansionist roles in today’s society.  It is the legislator's task to frame a society which shall make the good life possible.  Politics for Aristotle is not a struggle between individuals or classes for power, nor a device for getting done such elementary tasks as the maintenance of order and security without significant encroachments on individual liberty. The state should be an aggregation of families poised to retain a self-sufficing life, and a state that seems to be expanding its role in a war-torn province is really a craftsman whose material is society and whose aim is therefore good life for all.

There is of course, the possibility of fragmentation and civil warfare.  The British for example, are known to have had a policy of “divide and conquer,” which lies on the theory that nations broken into lawless entities are prone to fall into control of expansionist nations.  If the entire Middle East is demarcated into smaller ethnic or sectarian mini-states for instance, which would include not only large stateless nationalities like the Kurds, but Maronite Christians, Druze, Arab Shiites, and others, a direct threat would be presented to pan-Arab nationalism.  Civil and tribal breakouts are going to be more common in the near future than it is now, given the mosaic of ethnicities and sects in the Middle East.  Numerous factions will have joined with tribal, urban, and rural settings for many generations.  Therefore, even a minute in the local government, such as creating a new ethnic or sectarian state would most likely result in forced population transfers, possible ethnic cleansing, and other types of human suffering.  The Los Angeles Times stated on Feb. 26, "The outlines of a future Iraq are emerging: a nation where power is scattered among clerics turned warlords; control over schools, hospitals, railroads, and roads is divided along sectarian lines; graft and corruption subvert good governance; and foreign powers exert influence only over a weak central government."

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia motioned to other world leaders attending the Arab League conference that American occupation of Iraq is completely illegal.  He also complained that the US and other foreign powers would continue to dictate the region's politics unless Arab governments settle any differences that they may have within themselves. The King’s stern voice about the American-led military intervention in Iraq suggests that his alliance with Washington may be less harmonious than what the U.S. may have been hoping, and some analysts even suggest that Saudis are paying close attention to internal American politics following the Democratic shortcomings in the fairly recent November elections.

So what do U.S. policies in Iraq have to do with the division of Iraq? Consider if the U.S. and her allies play a part in making the decision of Iraq to abolish the Iraqi army and purge the government bureaucracy – both embankments of secularism – thereby creating a vacuum that will soon be filled by sectarian parties and militias. United States authorities must admit that their foreign policies encouraged sectarianism by proportioning authority based not on socioeconomic status but by ethnic and religious identity. Even military divisions are currently separated, with parts of western Baghdad being patrolled by army units dominated by Sunnis while eastern Baghdad is being patrolled by Shiite units. Without a surge of fresh new ideas to unify a war-torn nation, reconstructing from technological and parliamentary perspectives should be considered useless.

Naheed Ali's efforts and contributions to science and politics include a number of publications. In addition to being involved in freelance writing based out of Long
Island, New York since 2003, Naheed has met and discussed political issues with many representatives from different diplomacies, including the United Nations, U.S. Presidential Campaigns and Amnesty International. Additional info can be found in the author's latest blog: