By Mohammad Mazhari

Kansas professor says few claim U.S. actions in the region have been positive

December 12, 2020 - 21:51
There is question why assassination of Iranian scientist “happened at this current time,” Professor Wuthrich notes

TEHRAN – An American academic says “few people would claim that the United States actions in the region (West Asia) have all been positive or always reflected its ideals.”

Michael Wuthrich, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, also says Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel see eye to eye. 
“The Trump administration has certainly shown more of a priority for Israel even than other administrations. Part of this was because Trump and Netanyahu have similar political styles and outlooks,” Michael Wuthrich tells the Tehran Times as he was asked about his prediction of Joe Biden’s administration toward Israel.

This is the text of the interview:

Q: Given the U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia, do you expect a significant shift in U.S. policies towards Arab states and West Asia?

A: The Biden administration is most likely to repair relationships with European countries and probably decrease some of the closeness of the Trump administration to Saudi Arabia and Israel. These two countries are likely to encounter more criticism for their domestic and international politics from the Biden administration, but I doubt that they will completely pull out of arms agreements that Trump has already made unless it is very easy to do so.

Q: The U.S. has meddled in West Asia under the pretext of providing security for Israel and stability for the region. But it seems that Washington is ready to sacrifice the entire region for the sake of Israel.  

A: The Trump administration has certainly shown more of a priority for Israel even than other administrations. Part of this was because Trump and Netanyahu have similar political styles and outlooks. The Biden administration would likely be more balanced in its approach to Israel. Biden and Netanyahu are less likely to get along as well. Attitudes toward Israel do vary from president to president. Israel is considered an ally by the United States, but this doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with all of their actions in the region. The United States and the region would probably benefit most from a balanced and fair approach to all parties.

Q:  How can Iran trust the U.S again while the Trump administration quit the nuclear deal unilaterally? What is the guarantee that the incoming administration won’t behave so?

A: You ask a reasonable question from the perspective of the Iranian public. It is important for Iranians to understand that President Trump was a very unusual political leader in American politics. He broke many norms that presidents of either party would not have. Most of these behaviors, where Trump behaved differently than other leaders, have created a lack of trust or confidence in the promises of U.S. leaders. President-elect Biden is definitely a member of the older tradition of American politics. He has signaled and expressly stated over and over that he wants to return to the JCPOA agreement with Iran and the European countries. The question is not what the U.S. will do, but how will the Iranian government respond to a gesture by a new president who fully intends to keep his promises to international agreements. 

Iran has a lot of potential strength, and even though it is operating in conflict with the U.S. now, a healthy relationship with the U.S. would actually reveal that both countries could benefit from a renewed partnership. Most of Iran’s concerns in its regional neighborhood overlap with similar or complementary concerns of the United States. Now considering the coming alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia, it would be good for Iran to begin to open channels of communication with the U.S. Turkey under Erdogan has tried to make a friend of Putin and Russia, but this has only led to if anything, Russia taking advantage of Turkey, and Turkey losing some of its political leverage. Iran should, of course, work with Russia and China as most countries do, but I’m not sure that a close friendship would work out well for Iran. Like it or not, Iran has the most to gain by working out its relationship with Europe and the United States.

Q: How do you measure the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on Nov. 27? Can it derail a possible revitalization of the nuclear agreement?

A: The assassination was very concerning. There is only speculation about who and why the nuclear scientist was assassinated and why it happened at this current time. Most people believe that Israel was behind it, but I don’t know what their intention was. Were the assassins trying to bait Iran into a greater conflict with the United States? The situation could potentially affect the nuclear deal in various ways, or it could end up not being an issue. How much will Iran end up playing into the intentions of those who instigated the assassination?

Q:  The U.S. claims that it wants to establish peace in the region while it seems that American policies and Israel’s adventures are the main sources of insecurity. What is your comment?

A: This is a very complex question. There is propaganda on both sides of the U.S. involvement in the region. As you know, there is a lot of propaganda about Israel and Iran’s involvement in the region. I think few people would claim that the United States' actions in the region have all been positive or always reflected its ideals, but few people inside or outside of Iran would say that Iran’s involvement in the region has always been completely successful. This does not mean that Iran, like every other state, shouldn’t have interests or involvement in the region. The problem is that when countries see one another as enemies, they see all involvement and action of the other as threatening. At the same time, even in the current situation of tension between the U.S. and Iran, some of the actions and involvement of these two countries in the region, HAVE nonetheless benefited one another. Israel has its own interests and agenda in the region that also sometimes works against the benefit of Iran and even the U.S. If we look at the interests of these actors, though, the primary expressed concern of all of them is security. There are many ways that greater security and peace in the region would work to everyone’s benefit.




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