Pity the poor and peaceful Iranians, victims of the USA imperialist Zionist warmongers! Is it barely possible that US antipathy to Iran was somehow related to the kidnapping of US diplomats? Not likely, is it? Could it be thought perhaps, that the US didn't take kindly to the Ayatollahs' characterization of the US as the "Great Satan?" Perish the thought. And of course, the US should have been delighted by the crowds at organized demonstrations, screaming "Death to America." Obviously, Iran held out the hand of dialogue and friendship, and it was spurned by those evil Americans.
A major shortcoming in today's world is the persistence of a zero-sum sense of geopolitics. The world expected something different in the post-Cold War era to promote peace and stability. Instead, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, momentum swung toward a "global war on terror" that, in practice, became the rationale for maintaining a Cold War mentality and supporting strategies of pre-emptive war and regime change that have intensified insecurity, instability and international terrorism.
Consider my country, Iran, which has not invaded any country in the past 250 years. After decades of struggle against dictatorship and foreign domination, we secured our freedom and independence in 1979 by establishing a political system of our own choosing. But instead of establishing friendly relations with Iran based on this new reality, the United States has consistently sought to restore its domination, even providing massive diplomatic, financial and military support to Saddam Hussein in his war against my country during the 1980's.
The current dispute over Iran's peaceful and legal nuclear program is part of this pattern, replete with unfounded accusations, double standards, and moral and legal inconsistency, all hidden behind the alleged threat of proliferation. But Iran's peaceful nuclear program originates from the late 1960s and 1970s. Iran's energy demand will exceed its supply, possibly reducing or even eliminating its oil export capacity in the near future. Thus, Iran urgently needs to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2020.
As long ago as 1973, the US government itself saw that Iran would need nuclear power. Indeed, the US expected that Iran would be capable of generating 20,000 megawatts by 1994. Despite the encouragement of Iran's civil nuclear program by the US, Britain, Germany, and France, they all ultimately reneged on their contractual commitments after our revolution in 1979. Today, some of these governments are even questioning Iran's need for nuclear energy - a matter that was obvious to them 30 years ago.
Iran does not need nuclear weapons to protect its regional interests, and such weapons have no place in Iran's security strategy. It seeks to win the confidence of its neighbors and has remained within the confines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that there has been no diversion of Iran's civil nuclear program to weapons development. Iran has even proposed regional and multinational participation in its uranium enrichment facilities - only to be met by resounding silence from the Western powers.
Meanwhile, US policy toward nuclear non-proliferation and the NPT regime is a case in point of double standards and the lack of sensitivity to other countries' security concerns. While the US seeks to use unilateral and unlawful pressure to preclude Iran's legitimate right to peaceful nuclear energy, it has assisted in developing Israel's nuclear capabilities. Indeed, the US has acted as a buffer to insulate Israel - whose prime minister has boasted about its nuclear weapons - from any international scrutiny, while ignoring calls by Iran and other countries to create a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone.
With regard to international terrorism, Iran, as a victim of terrorism, condemns it in all its forms. But the same double standards are apparent here. The US has used and is still using extremist organizations to promote its foreign policy goals.
This could be said of US conduct with regard to Al-Qaeda's precursors in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and of its current dealings with terrorist groups such as the People's Mujahadeen Organization (MKO), and the Kurdish PEJAK and PKK. The MKO, which was once on Saddam Hussein's payroll and responsible for the loss of many innocent lives in Iran and Iraq, is now under the protection of the US government in Iraq and operates freely in the US itself.
Iran has always considered regional stability to be in the vital interest of its own security and development. Our efforts to establish a regional security and cooperation arrangement in the Persian Gulf date back to 1986, at the height of the war with Iraq. We have continued to pursue these initiatives in the post-Saddam era, engaging in confidence-building measures with our immediate neighbors in order to offset extra-regional agitations.
Iran currently applies the same policy considerations to Iraq and Afghanistan, despite its opposition to the US-led invasions of these countries. Iran has established excellent relations with post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Iraq, and the most senior officials of both countries consistently reject US allegations of Iranian interference. These accusations are designed to portray Iran as a threat to regional stability and frighten other countries into creating an anti-Iran coalition, with the aim of diverting attention from the consequences of failed US policies not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The world deserves better. A just global order must be defined in terms of peace and security, alleviation of poverty, a fairer distribution of wealth, better protection of the environment, and respect for local cultural particularities. We can build a global order based on justice, one that negates the current unipolar order by developing tolerance for diversity instead of seeking imposition and assimilation. Such an order will be culturally inclusive and less hegemonic, encompassing states, non-state actors and social groups to minimize violence and maximize economic well-being.
Erich Fromm, the late German psychologist and philosopher, once said that "history is a graveyard of cultures that came to their catastrophic ends because of their incapacity for planned and rational voluntary reaction to challenges." We cannot predict our fate, but we can be certain that security will only come through real solidarity and global partnership.
Manouchehr Mottaki is foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.