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Posted by on Feb 5, 2007 in At TMV | 53 comments

TIP-Truman Institute Iran Conference

I write quite regularly about Iran. One of the recurring themes is that there is much we don’t know. We have to find out more about Iran, about its capabilities but also about what it’s doing right now – its policies, intentions, etc.

The Israel Project sponsored, together with the Truman Institute for Peace, a conference on Iran entitled “In the Eye of the Storm: Iran in Global Perspectives“. TIP reports that 100 academics and activists and 60 foreign journalists and diplomats attended the full-day conference.

From the press release:

The academic presentations of the conference were organized by Truman Center researcher and Iran expert Dr. Eldad Pardo, and focused on growing Iranian influence and interaction in the global arena. Lectures included:

– Tehran’s Global Agenda: A Disaster Waiting to Happen?
– Press or Embrace: The American Dilemma
– Europe, Iran and the Bomb
– Iran’s Regional Security Conception
– The Arab System and Iran’s Claim for Hegemony
– It is All in the Eyes of the Beholder: How Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Patriots See Iran
– Competition or Cooperation? Iran in Turkish Foreign Policy
– China and Iran: Marriage of Convenience, Not Love
– The Rise and Fall of the Azadegan Oil Field Deal: Evaluation of the Oil Factor in the Japan Iran Relationship
– Russia and Iran: Still Partners in Need?
– Shiite Iran and the Sunni World
– Ahmadinejad on the Soil of the Indonesian Archipelago:Amazements, Questions, and Riddles
– Iran in Africa: A Snapshot of a Big Ambition
– Iran in Latin America – Ambitions and Challenges

An executive summary written by Dr. Pardo can be read here.

I encourage all of you to read the summary and, then, to watch these lectures.

I applaud The Israel Project, the Truman Institute and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for organizing this conference. It would have been even better if they would have published the different lectures for all to read, but better something than nothing.

Iran is not peaceful. Iran is far from isolationist. ‘We’ have to study Iran, the ideology of the Mullahs / Ahmadinejad, the true nature of its regime, the way it is positioning itself in the world, etc.

As I wrote, more studies are necessary, more conferences like this, but this one is, in my opinion, very valuable. Iran is increasing its influence in the world, especially in vulnerable countries. The West has to counter everything Iran does for it cannot be allowed to increase its influence in the region and / or in the world.

I have argued many times before that the West should focus on Africa. Muslim extremists understand all too well, that Africa truly is the forgotten continent and that Africans are quite vulnerable for radical ideologies. The West should organize itself to invest bigtime in Africa. We have to counter it. It’s not just Iran that’s ‘investing’ in Africa, Saudi Arabia started doing the same decades ago (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in her book Mijn Vrijheid (My Freedom)).

Make no mistake about it: there is a war going on. A world war even. Mostly it’s, at this moment, an ideological battle, but we are also witnessing armed battles: Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, terrorist attacks against the West, etc.

Does this mean that the West should bomb Iran ASAP? No, that is not what I am saying. We should however, study Iran very carefully and counter its actions. The Mullahs cannot be allowed to spread their violent, hateful ideology. We have to invest in Africa and in Latin America. Iran has to be completely isolated and weakened.

The problem with Iran is not limited to its nuclear program. It’s a major part of it, but if it would give up on its nuclear program there would still be many issues left that have to be resolved.

As Eldad Pardo explained in his lecture Ahmadinejad is rapidly losing popularity. The West should make use of that.

Again: I applaud TIP, the Truman Institute and the H.U. for organizing / sponsoring this conference. The most important thing is not that one agrees with everything every single speaker said, it’s about gaining more knowledge about Iran, about the ideology of the Mullahs, the role Iran tries to play in different regions, what can be done against it, etc. Lets hope that more conferences like this are in the making. We need to expand our knowledge and understanding of this subject, as Hillary Clinton recently pointed out as well.

Lastly, also read this article at the Jerusalem Post on the conference.

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