Strathclyde Telegraph

Iran is not the USSR

By Niall F. Love

 

If you read the news on Iran, chances are you will know that it tends to hype how important Iran is, and why we should worry – a lot.

For example: “Historic nuclear deal with Iran agreed after weeks of negotiations and years of mistrust”. Oh, and: “Landmark deal reached on Iran nuclear program”. By reading such headlines, and the articles which follow suit, you might be tricked into believing that Iran is the new USSR – a new rival superpower to challenge the West; that the Mullahs have superseded the Communists and Juntas of the cold war as the primary enemy of democracy and that we are just now taming the dragon.

Now, superficially, both Iran and the USSR seem quite similar. Both are anti-west dictatorships with abysmal human rights records; both have/seek nuclear weapons; both have strong influence in their neighbours and both support ideologically, like-minded terrorist/renegade groups in other nations.

This is not true, a perfect example of media hype. In reality, the Mullahs are nowhere near as powerful as the USSR – and let me tell you why.

The most obvious is size: at its peak, the USSR covered 1/6 of all the dry land on the planet. While Iran is the 17th biggest country in the world – nearly a whopping eight times bigger than the UK – it is nowhere near as large as the USSR.   Speaking of scope, the USSR had around fifteen vassals including all of Eastern Europe, as well as satellite regimes in across Asia and South and East Africa, like the Ethiopian Derg. Iran has a strong influence in Iraq, and some over the Houthi renegades in Yemen. It has total control of Hezbollah and the Syrian Baath regime has been their puppet since 2012. However, Iran does not have full control over any other country, and of those countries, all are in the Middle East compared to the global reach of the USSR.

But the main reason why the media treats Iran like a great power is because they plan on building nuclear weapons and ‘nukes’ make a country important, right? NO. Of course not. And, if that were true, North Korea would be considered a great power. In the c1800s, a strong economy is considered the main indicator of a powerful country – military still matters, of course, but it’s not the key source of influence now.

South Korea has no nuclear weapons and yet has a booming economy, thus, is far more pull on the world stage than the North. Brazil, Germany, Norway, Luxemburg, Argentina, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand and Botswana are all nuclear free and yet are far more powerful than North Korea could ever dream of being. Why? Because they have strong economies, while has North Korea has terrible one. China has an army of 2.3 million active soldiers and half 1 million reserve plus nukes but its influence mostly comes from the products it sells that is what gives its global power and wealth, not atom bombs.

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