Another CSIS study lacking in empathetic perspective
By Mark Pyruz
CSIS has recently published a new monograph by Alexander Wilner titled U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: Iranian Views of How Iran's Asymmetric Warfare Developments Affect Competition with the US and the Gulf, Sept. 2010 - Feb. 2011 Much of what Mr. Wilner bases his study on pertains to Western press clippings and incidental quotes of Iranian military leaders taken piecemeal or not in appropriate context; that is to say without a more accurate rendering of empathetic perspective for Iran's very real defense requirements.
First of all, the common denominator of conflict in Iran's neighborhood is not Iran itself; rather it is the US and its allies in the Persian Gulf. For example, those are not Iranian military troops that invaded and occupied neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan; rather they are American. So too, in Bahrain it is not the Iranian military that has invaded and physically intervened in the neighboring island family-run kingdom; rather it is Saudi Arabia. And yet Wilner accuses Iran of "meddling."
Mr. Wilner appears to believe that an asymmetric approach to defense is inherently a negative reaction predicated entirely upon weakness. He seems to believe that all nations are like the U.S.: given to the opportunity of taking such extreme measures of financial borrowing from external sources to purchase ever more superfluous and fantastically expensive weapons systems, in order to project itself globally through self-aggrandizing applications of hard power, wherever and whenever the caprices of its leadership should lend itself toward. That, or be a client state such as Israel, which relies on a more localized rendering of this hard policy lust based upon the same fantastic debt heaped upon current and future generations of ordinary American taxpayers, More sensible countries do not engage in such extravagant pursuits. And some, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, rely upon the potential of soft power as well as the far more frugal deterrent potential of asymmetric warfare developments.
Personally, it is always with a sense of wonder that I view so many of these works by Western analysts, incapable as they are of actual empathy for the “threat” studies they are attempting to construct.