What will be the consequences of the rising US-Iran tensions?

In the real world, we have seen a wave of populist leaders often using the same tactics to win support or intimidate the masses into ostracising segments of the population

In Narendra Modi’s India, RSS propaganda is spreading like wildfire, claiming that Muslim men with their four wives have an agenda to produce more children than their fellow Hindus, and hence there will be a Muslim majority within a decade in India

In Eastern Europe, leaders have raised concerns about refugees spreading Islamic radicalism, thus turning every citizen into a virtual border security officer

But the biggest harbinger has been Donald Trump – a man who has spent years spinning so many conspiracy theories, anti-Muslim anecdotes and pro-isolationist road-maps

From promising the Great Wall of America, to instituting the Muslim ban, to trying to build a registry of Muslims, and to moving their embassy to Jerusalem, he has nurtured Islamophobic elements, while strengthening his support over a largely isolated voter base

Internationally, the killing of Qasem Soleimani will prove to be one of the most important moments in Trump’s tenure

Based on partisan lines, Republicans have endorsed his decision while Democrats have criticised the unnecessary escalation

But the decision principally placed the United States in a precarious position

This was exemplified by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s string of tweets advertising ‘endorsements’ from several countries following the military action, including Pakistan

At the time of writing, the current news cycle is hysterically covering the Iranian response, American invitations to de-escalate, and general military presence in the powder keg that is the Middle East

Tehran’s actions can be speculated upon, but this assassination shows that Trump has hardened the worldview on Iran: ‘the crazy Islamic, anti-Israel, anti-Saudi nuclear wild-card with a lot of oil

’ But the way Trump has shaped relations with Iran has weakened American foreign policy

As a hegemonic state, its own state institutions are choosing to distance themselves by reiterating the president’s role

The president, rather than taking a sane diplomatic approach, has further rallied domestic support to threaten Iran by targeting 52 sites of religious and historic significance in Iran

Trump essentially decided to nullify the Iran Nuclear Deal, not because of the contents but because it signalled to the rest of the world that any commitment that Washington makes is only valid until the next president walks in

It has been interesting to see the rise of populism across the world

Even in Pakistan, Imran Khan’s primary promise was to bring the elite and the corrupt to justice, but Trump’s brand of populism goes beyond just “draining the swamp

” He has slowly weaponised the presidency to create a normalised hotbed of authoritarian tendencies that some American people have fully supported

In reality, Trump is essentially an impeached president, yet to be convicted

His presidency has been marred by unprecedented scandals of such magnitude and frequency that it could be argued that Trump was a stress-test for the American constitution

If he survives the conviction, he will be up for re-election in November this year

Hence, the defiant killing of an Iranian general in the face of an outraged Iran is a look which will do well for his electoral narrative

One can hope that peace reigns in the Middle East and beyond, but it is oddly reminiscent of Modi’s alleged surgical strike in Balakot (read: re-election bid) that allegedly killed 300 terrorists

Even if true, the attack is principally wrong as it is a violation of our sovereignty

Pakistan could not let bygones be bygones as it would have set a terrible precedent

Similarly, the killing of Soleimani, and past American behavior with Iran (read: re-election bid and post impeachment distraction), can be seen as a violation of Iranian sovereignty

Populism is often conflated with totalitarian regimes because populist leaders often engage in game-changing, disruptive practices to differentiate themselves from the usual brand of career politicians

This pursuit to break the status quo is achieved through riling the masses, united under one flag, against an ideal or a people

If done carefully, populism shows itself to be mostly benign, as is the case with Imran

However, when pushed out of proportion by one of the most powerful empires of the last hundred years, it can spew a divisive agenda of hatred, bigotry, and radicalism

Date:07-Jan-2020 Reference:View Original Link