Wednesday, September 28, 2022

There is no win-win situation; only one winner emerges from the conflict between Islam and atheism

Hossein Kachouyan, a participant at a “Red Line” conference, has rejected a win-win deal between Iran and P5+1, saying that only one winner emerges from the battle between Islam and atheism.

Ramze Obour (Passcode) Magazine in its sixth issue featured a speech in mid-July by Hossein Kachouyan, a member of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, a member of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Tehran, and a member of the Research Center of the Islamic Consultative Assembly at a conference dubbed “Red Line” organized by The Committee for the Protection of Iranian Interests.

Dr. Kachouyan led off his speech by focusing on how [ongoing nuclear] talks can affect the strategic layers of the Islamic Revolution’s discourse in the world, given that the Iranian revolution, which came to power on a platform of “No to the East, No to the West”, and spread its motto to the four corners of the world. The following is the translation of his remarks:

There are multiple causes for concern at the current situation. Do not pay much attention to those who claim to be calm or brave despite expression of concern by the Worriers [who are concerned about the current state of affairs and the direction the government of President Hassan Rouhani is taking the country in]. They are either claiming this out of intransigence or they think in a childish way.

There is another possibility which I am not about to bring up here. The fact of the matter is that this possibility stands to reason: one cannot develop a thorough understanding of the Islamic Revolution and its historic requirements and still enter the [nuclear] talks the way we have done to date.

I wonder if you know that from the get-go we have made concessions in many cases to the other party [involved in the talks], something they could hardly dream of.

Back then we hadn’t built up a clear picture of what we had achieved. We were told by UN officials how far we had come along down the [nuclear] path. Regardless of what we had, we offered everything we possessed, and we still continue to do so.

A major mishap that unfolded in recent nuclear talks is that Iran suspended all its nuclear activities three months prior to the start of the talks and hot on the heels of the 2013 presidential election. Strategically, Iran has always moved a few steps ahead of what the West normally expects.

What creates ambiguities and dims the existing prospect is the sole strategy we have had so far and that is how we look at the enemy, or I should say a friendly attitude toward the enemy; an attitude which is void of any insight into the future of the establishment as well as into what it seeks to become and what it is today.

Through this frame of mind the best-case scenario is that Iran finds a place somewhere in the world according to the existing global topography; this way the West could throw us a bone from the loots it has collected from different places and the preys it has hunted [here and there].

And it is the view which frowns upon the independent nature of the Islamic Republic and has no proper understanding of it. What would be the outcome of such a cast of mind? What should Iran do if it ever wants to adopt a strategy for the nuclear talks?

That would culminate in a situation which would embrace failure from the very start. What is Iran’s strategy in the talks and what does it pursue? What does it have at hand for pursuing its strategy?

Strategy means setting a set of clear objectives and providing tools which can help us achieve our goals in the best possible manner and in a cost-effective fashion. During the talks when you suspend yourself from the outset, do nothing and appear empty-handed before the other party takes any measure, how do you expect to see the other party cooperate with you? I mean based on what, or fearing what?

Such strategy spells total failure from the get-go. The only positive which would come out of the talks, the very reason the West [insistently] pursues the talks, is this: the friendly attitude [of Iran’s negotiators], which does not seem likely to know who the enemy is. The only signal such an attitude sends to the other side is that if the current Iranian team is replaced, the West would have to deal with another [Iranian] group which drives a hard bargain.

Should that happen, the new Iranian team would leave the West with no choice. Iran would run more centrifuges and advance its objectives and the West would get its hands on nothing.

This helps us come to the conclusion that meetings like this are to the benefit of the country’s nuclear negotiating team. I’m talking from a strategic perspective. We seem to be empty-handed; what we have already achieved is the result of 20 years of resistance Iran has put up. In other words, that [rich] stock of resistance has brought the Western side to the negotiating table, and we used up that stock in short order.

Now we are sitting at the negotiating table; naturally, we are expected to beg because nothing has been left for us to bargain over. What are we going to haggle over with the West? We cannot choose but bargain over our own interests, capabilities and what we have at our disposal.

It means we should create a situation for them to salivate [over what we offer] and make them agree. We can offer things that are not very serious. That reflects the way the Westerners use the Rubik’s Cube when they analyze the nuclear talks with Iran.

[The US has used the “Rubik’s Cube” analogy – a 3-D combination puzzle – to explain the moving parts and complexity that make the Iran nuclear negotiations so difficult, saying that all of the pieces have to fit together just so to reach a final agreement. The West believes nothing is agreed until everything’s agreed.]

Some complexities have surfaced in the talks which play down whatever they offer; they are likely to accept 20 percent enrichment by Iran, but the point is that they are seeking to overshadow all aspects of Iran’s nuclear life and obviate the need for Tehran to independently take care of and manage its atomic plan.

The Supreme Leader stated before the talks started that he was not optimistic at all. The strategy Iran currently follows has given a boost to those skepticisms, pessimisms and concerns several months into the talks. What does the future hold for Iran with such a mindset?

It was less than ten years ago (2005-07) when the Iranian nuclear dispute first arose and the military option against Iran was put on the table that I penned an article explaining where we stood back then.

Drawing on the [stormy] debates raging inside the US administration, I wrote that we were at a crossroad and that if we crossed that point successfully, we would escape unscathed for good.

The bottom line: the West has openly and outspokenly said it does not view Iran as a friend, nor does it treat Iran as an impartial country; rather, to them Iran is an enemy. As [US President] Obama has said the US would have dismantled the Iranian nuclear program if it had been able to. I can even tell you that they would have launched a nuclear attack on us if they had been able to. That’s quite clear and simple. And I can even think of the time when they resort to such a move in the current circumstances.

We had – and still have – an opportunity to take advantage of and rise above the current situation. In that case, we can strike a balance and create a situation in which the requirements of the Islamic revolution are met.

The Islamic revolution was not an upheaval confined to the inward layers; in other words, it was not a game changer meant to unseat a government and bring another to power, or replace a handful of people [in power] with some others. Nor did it seek to bring about a regime change. If this question is to be examined in depth, it will become clear that it was not a social revolution which had to be restricted to the inside.

The Islamic revolution played out at a point in history when it – willingly or unwillingly – had, and still has, the potential to challenge the world. As you see, Iran’s contention or friction with the West is incessantly rising. With regard to what has taken place over the past few years, we can say that regional disputes are becoming a cause for international concern.

Iran’s presence in the Mediterranean Sea, and its role in what is happening in the Palestinian territories, Syria and Lebanon as well as its naval upgrade are all good examples to back this argument up.

The revolution has not developed such potential by chance; it was present deep inside this giant event which swept Iran from the very start. To see this giant event reach its intended, eventual destination, we need to equip ourselves and expand our capacities. You cannot claim that you are pushing hard for an ideal, but fall short of providing the necessary tools for that.

But unfortunately, those who are engaged in the talks seem not to share such a view. This is the very issue on which we part ways.

The core issue is how you look at the West and where you stand on the current [nuclear] dispute. If you see it as a conflict between Islam and atheism, it can be defined clearly.

I want to attach importance to the interpretation of Mr. Nabavian – something I have elaborated on in a separate book – that you need to let go of the terms “modern” and “modernity”. Had we not been entrapped by such terms from the outset, we would have not been mired in such a [worrying] trend which has hit the country over the past several decades.

These terms are deceptive. You have to inevitably use these terms, but you have to take a look at the depths of the question as well. These words tend to paper over some realities.

The reality here is that there is a conflict from which only one winner can come out. Islam and atheism are in conflict; for a struggle like this, you have to prepare whatever tools and equipment which are needed.

As things stand, one such view is absent in the talks and the strategies which should be worked out for that view remain elusive.

The only ray of hope is coming from meetings which are expected to reverse directions and put us back on the right track that leads to the Islamic revolution.


Hossein Kachouyan, born in Tehran in 1958, received his diploma in mathematics from Kharazmi High School in 1978. One year later he began to take theology lessons in Shahid Motahari School as he continued his collegiate studies. He got his B.A. in social sciences from the University of Tehran in 1985 and his M.A. in sociology from Tarbiat Modares University five years later. Then he started his studies at the doctoral level in the same university, but dropped out in 1995. He was admitted to the University of Manchester in England the following year and in 2000 he got his Ph.D. which focused on “Sociology and Religion after Moderation”.
He has penned multiple books among them: Studies of Modernity and the West: Conflicting Facts; Theories of Globalization: the Aftermath of Challenges between Culture and Religion; Evolution of Iran’s Identity Discourse: an Iran in Conflict with Modernization and Post-Modernization; Theories of Globalization and Religion: a Critical Study; Foucault and Archeology of Knowledge, A Narrative of the History of Human Sciences from Renaissance to Post-Modernism; Exploration of Iran’s Architectural Identity; and Modernism from Another Aspect, an Untold Story of How Modernism Emerged and Grew.
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