The Ayatollah Dreamed It, Obama Delivers It: Pax Americana - End of America
19 October 2015
By Amir Taheri
The late Ayatollah Khomeini dreamed it; President Barack Obama is trying to
deliver it: the end of Pax Americana.
The topic was at the center of a daylong seminar in Tehran last week attended
by ambassadors from Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, plus a
number of Islamic Iranian officials and scholars.
The five Latin American nations with left-wing regimes represent one of the
''clusters'' that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried to organize as
points of anti-American ''resistance'' across the globe. Another ''cluster''
consisted of Lebanon, controlled through the local branch of Hezbollah,
Syria, under Bashar Al-Assad, and parts of Iraq dominated by pro-Tehran armed
groups. The plan was to set up another ''cluster'' by breaking up the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc through the Finlandization of some of its
members while seizing control of Yemen through local Trojan outfits.
Next month, Tehran is scheduled to host the fifth annual ''End of America''
conference with a number of professional anti-American figures from Europe
and the US itself also expected.
However, the timing of the exercise is puzzling. For the first time in almost
a decade, the presidency, and part of the government including the foreign
ministry seem to be controlled by the so-called Rafsanjani faction that has
been trying to make a deal with the Americans since the late 1980s.
Many in Tehran now wonder whether this year's ''End of America'' will take
place at all. A number of ''Afro-American families of victims of US police
brutality'' have already been invited along with European religious leaders
and scholars opposed to the ''Great Satan.''
Some pro-Rafsanjani commentators in Tehran, including a few in the entourage
of President Hassan Rouhani, argue against the holding of another ''End of
America'' conference as unnecessary at best and wanton provocation at worst.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argues that the US has shown its
goodwill by bending backward to satisfy Iran's demands in the nuclear
negotiations. It would be foolish to provoke the US at a time that Tehran
needs Washington's support to destroy the edifice of sanctions and kick the
whole nuclear saga into the long grass.
More than 30 years ago, Khomeini's intransigence led to the destruction of
Jimmy Carter's presidency, depriving Iran of a friend in Washington. It would
be foolish to repeat the same mistake by humiliating Obama and, through him
the Democrat Party, thus helping the return to power of the Republicans who
are committed to making life difficult for the Khomeinist regime.
Seen from Tehran the ideal outcome of next year's presidential election in
the United States would be the nomination and victory of either Vice
President Joseph Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry. Both men have a
history of decades of support for the Khomeinist revolution and the Islamic
Republic and remain committed to promoting closer ties with Tehran under the
Another four, or perhaps even eight years of Obama's policies would nicely
coincide with the duration of the Vienna nuke deal which envisages ''a final
closing of the dossier'' by 2023 at the latest. Until then, Iran would be
kept a year away from building a nuclear arsenal if it so decides. After
that, Iran could do so within 60 days, again if it so wished.
More importantly, another eight years of Obama's strategy would make it
immensely difficult, if not impossible in practical terms, for any future US
administration to revive the Pax Americana as a viable option. The Obama
strategy is aimed at shrinking the American military footprint across the
world. Dozens of bases are being closed down or reduced to merely symbolic
proportions. Within what is left of Obama's presidential term, the US army
alone is scheduled to fire at least 40,000 of its soldiers. Under Obama the
US has undergone the biggest cut in defense expenditure it has experienced
since the heady days of post-Cold War and its ''peace dividends''.
More importantly, perhaps, Obama has managed to sour, if not actually
destroy, America's old alliances in many parts of the world, notably the
Middle East. Even an old and loyal ally such as Great Britain has publicly
played the card of privileged ties with China, implicitly taking note of the
Obama has changed the image of the US as ''the winner'' into the loser as
borne out by a series of crises from the annexation of Georgian and Ukrainian
territories by Moscow to the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
(ISIS) and the resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan, not to mention Tehran's
heightened profile in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
Obama's dramatic ''red line'' warning to Assad, followed by an equally
dramatic consumption of humble pie, highlighted the United States' new status
as ''the loser.''
The American global retreat has already led to a more emphatic assertion by
China of its position as a great Asian power. It has also encouraged the
nationalist trend in Japan to the point of seeking constitutional change to
allow the nation to deploy troops abroad and, later perhaps, even develop a
Latin America is divided into two rival blocs of left and right powers, with
the US less and less regarded as a major player.
In Europe and central Asia, Russia is moving fast to regain part of lost
influence and project power wherever it can. Many of the local conflicts
mothballed thanks to US mediation are becoming active again, from
Transcaucasia to the Indo-Pakistani Subcontinent.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is exploding in the void created by the total
collapse of US-backed ''peace talks.''
Ending Pax Americana may turn out to be good for the Americans in which case
Obama could enter history as a wise visionary.
However, even if such is the case, the mullahs have every interest to
encourage Obama in his present strategy and, within their modest means, to
help the Obama line continue under Kerry or, even Hillary Clinton as the
least bad option.
Many might see the ''End of America'' world as a far more dangerous place.
The mullahs, however, would regard it as the fulfilment of Khomeini's dream.
Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and educated in Tehran, London
and Paris. He was Executive Editor-in-Chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran
(1972-79). In 1980-84, he was Middle East Editor for the Sunday Times. In
1984-92, he served as member of the Executive Board of the International Press
Institute (IPI). Between 1980 and 2004, he was a contributor to the
International Herald Tribune. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, the
New York Post, the New York Times, the London Times, the French magazine
Politique Internationale, and the German weekly Focus. Between 1989 and 2005, he
was editorial writer for the German daily Die Welt. Taheri has published 11
books, some of which have been translated into 20 languages. He has been a
columnist for Asharq Alawsat since 1987. Taheri's latest book "The Persian
Night" is published by Encounter Books in London and New York.