26 September 2007

Conservative Muslims May Be Right

When it comes to issues such as the importance of family and marriage in society, Christians can find that they have more in common with people of other faiths than they do with people of no faith. So, although you may not find me agreeing with Muslims on any points of theology, the Conservative Muslim Forum may well be right in their response to the Globalisation and Global Poverty Policy Group's report An Unquiet World:

"Regardless of the foreign policies of the United States, hostility to Iran is not in Britain's national interest. A constructive engagement with Iran offers many possibilities for progress... Instead of joining the United States in demonising Iran, Britain should assist Iran in addressing these legitimate security concerns in a manner that improves our security rather than weakening it."
In the current issue of The Difference, Christopher Catherwood argues that neither a military strike nor economic sanctions would be likely to provide a solution to the threat posed by Iran:
"To attack Iran would be to unite all Iranians against us, even those who might otherwise be deemed progressive. An attack on Iran would also, the experts claim, be logistically almost impossible to win, as the relevant nuclear material can be hidden in thousands of underground places all over the country, even if the two major installations could successfully be taken out in a large-scale strike.

But if we cannot attack Iran, and the hardliners and even moderates seem to want a nuclear capability, what can the West do? Russia refuses to get involved, as it considers anybody who damages the US or its interests as its friend, however dangerous they might be. Not only that but if Iran’s neighbours, including a majority Shia Iraq, refused to operate sanctions, then no matter how harsh the financial measures the rest of the world might want to impose, they would be unlikely to provide a solution."
So, what options are left? Well, as the GGPPG intimated in An Unquiet World, there is the possibility of applying diplomatic pressure through India which, despite having voted twice against Tehran at the IAEA, maintains a strategic relationship with Iran and "is extending ties to other countries in the region with an equal interest in restraining Iran, including Saudi Arabia. The Saudi kingdom is India’s largest provider of oil and is home to an estimated 1.5 million Indian nationals. As important, it is one of the few Islamic theocracies viewed favourably by the West, which has worked for a demilitarised Kashmir and has supported India’s observership in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference."

As this blog argued earlier in the year, there is also an opportunity for America to undermine the mullahs' theocratic regime and promote democratic reform by lifting economic sanctions. So, to answer the question about whether or not to engage with Iran, I am inclined to agree with the CMF that while we should continue to oppose Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions, our approach "should be one of negotiation and mutual dialogues, not threats" and "our primary goal should be assisting in the strengthening of Iranian state institutions to avoid any risk of the transfer of nuclear technology to non state actors."


edmund said...

frankly absurd , the idea there will be a democratic revolution in Iran is unsupported by any evidence (despite loads of claims the only mass uprising never mind full revolution has been an Islmait one in Iran).

Even more absurd is the idea of using diplomacy instead of force- the Mullahs have every incentive to get nukes-only the credible threat of war will make diplomacy work

I think generally the Difference is suffeing from the belief that to make up for the necessary righwing (in tory terms) postion of the CCF on some issues they must slavishly incline leftwards on every other.

John said...

An interesting charge, Edmund. For myself, at least, as anyone who knows me could tell you, I don't "slavishly incline" in any direction in response to anybody, though do sometimes like to play devil's advocate in order to encourage healthy debate. I'd certainly like to know what other people think about your suggestion.

vinyamar777 said...

Sounds interesting to me. When Islam started off it & Xity were not hostile. I'd love to see a working friendship with Iran, even as Xians & Muslims can get along in the UK. Mind, I'd also like both sides to see that nationality & ethnicity are not tied to faith, and see both "sides" being OK with the idea of individuals converting either way according to conviction.
I think the bigger danger is the "values" of Tony Blair and all who think that society isn't accountable to God and that tolerance simply means that faith groups are equally misguided personal or community tastes. An Osama bin Ladin might behead me (he almost blew up my brother), but at least is nearer to what Saul of Tarsus was in putting God before community or self.

Marriage is instituted by God, whatever individual marriages we get into & love or loath. Legalising away the divine link removes the dei from the imago & the imago from the dei, and hastens the abolition of man. I embrace objectivist Islam more than the postmodern subjectivist government we had under Mr Blair and, I suspect, have under Gordon Brown and, dare I say, might have David Cameron. More biblical Christian MPs of all shades of left & right are needed to turn western lemmings.