The Future of the Nuclear Deal

Follows is an article that I wrote as a 750-word response to this New York Times article for a take-home final exam. I am posting the article as is, and may consider translating it into Turkish. Note that some points may need more clarification as I had to stick to the word limit.


The domestic diversion theory appears problematic, as states like Turkey and Iran with far lesser military budgets than those of the mentioned great powers, can also engage in diversionary behavior intended to escalate or interfere in regional or international crises rather than target minorities within. Turkey’s recent operations in Syria and North Iraq and cooperation with the Libyan government, and Erdoğan’s strong emphasis on leaving the domestic issues behind and becoming an influential power, are clear evidence for Turkey’s active engagement in external military affairs. Russia’s Putin may also be evaluated in that context, with his aggressive policies aimed at expanding his sphere of influence through the Russian intervention in Syria, the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s engagement in the military conflict in Libya. While Raisi’s future policies are not totally foreseeable, Iran has also got involved in warfare in Syria and elsewhere, which is one of the main reasons for the recent protests due to economic instability that the military spending has brought about. These states primarily intend to become or remain regional powers rather than compete with the global superpowers, but they still do intervene in external issues, meaning not only the global powers take advantage of international crises. Iran’s nuclear policies should also be examined from this perspective. It would be highly unreasonable that a state resort to nuclear weapons against a domestic minority. Also, all three states have been under the rule of “oppressive” leaders harshly criticized by the opposing parties and widely accused of corruption and instability. They nevertheless seek and often cooperate to strengthen their position by carrying out operations outside their borders rather than avoid attacking them and providing them with an excuse to retaliate (Williams, 2019).

Kant’s overoptimistic and Eurocentric approach to IR may constitute a basis for the arguments for the attempts by the UN and other international actors to “contain” Iran. Both Iran’s vioilations, including the construction of hidden facilities, and Trump’s interest-oriented policies that did not align with Kant’s principle of duty at all, however, clearly prove that it is better to rely on facts rather than utopias. Facilitating cooperation among parties appears promising; but little can be done if even Trump’s commitment cannot be ensured. The US, as a “democratic” country, aids the international organizations the most; but Trump, as an elected president, could threaten the system with the US’ withdrawal from several international treaties, making it less important to debate whether “smart sanctions” on Iran are likely to work. Both sanctions and foreign aid are more of instruments to control target states and acquire allies than measures aimed at improving the conditions (Brownlee, 2010; Vreeland, 2006). The liberal understanding promoting concepts like collective will and social contract, therefore becomes mostly useless. Treating democracy as a measurable variable is already an essential problem. Moreover, the fact that nuclear missiles can be fired from long distances, invalidates Kant’s assumption that distance and the possibility of conflict is negatively correlated.

It should be asked why neither Biden nor Obama but Trump, a pro-Israeli republican, opposed/withdrew from the agreement, despite Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, as also stated in the NYT article. The US, being highly influenced by Israel, and most likely pro-Israeli business leaders, backed Israel against Iran and the Hezbollah in multiple occasions. Nuclear weapons possessed by Middle Eastern regimes are such a threat to the US due to Israel’s pressure. The Israeli influence on the media and press, including the NYT, is also notable. However, if we take into account that the public is more willing to sign international treaties and has less influence on foreign policy than business leaders, and that the corporations against the deal donated significantly more than those supporting it, we may conclude that Trump was particularly influenced by those corporations with ties to Israel that pushed him for the withdrawal. The above facts may point out two separate pro-Israeli groups working to shape the US’s policies according to their own agendas, one favoring the deal and the other opposing it.

As for Iran, foreign policy is largely dominated by the IRGC, which favors Raisi, based on safeguarding the Revolution, state interests, anti-Americanism and distrust in international organizations, anti-Zionism, and the Sunni-Shiite and Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict.

In conclusion, the US’ policies heavily depend on the Israel lobby and are unreliable. Biden seems willing to negotiate with Iran, but we may never know what the future president will do. Likewise, Raisi may agree, but Iran’s stance may change according to the US’ attitude.

Bibliography

  • Tir, J., & Jasinski, M. (2008). Domestic-level diversionary theory of war: Targeting ethnic minorities. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 52(5), 641-664.
  • Oneal, J. R., & Russett, B. (1999). The Kantian peace: The pacific benefits of democracy, interdependence, and international organizations, 1885-1992. World politics, 52(1), 1-37.
  • Jacobs, L. R., & Page, B. I. (2005). Who influences US foreign policy? American political science review, 107-123.
  • Mearsheimer, J. J., & Walt, S. M. (2006). The Israel lobby and US foreign policy. Middle East Policy, 13(3).
  • Sabet, F. and R. Safshekan. 2019. “The Revolutionary Guard in Iranian Domestic and Foreign Power Politics” in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed.) Routledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East, Routledge. 96-109.
  • Williams, P. A. 2019. “The Rise and Fall of Turkey in the Arab Spring” in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed.) Routledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East, Routledge.
  • Mabon, S. (2019). “Saudi Arabia and Iran: Islam and foreign policy in the Middle East” in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed.) Routledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East, Routledge.
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – Wikipedia. (2021). Retrieved 24 June 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action
  • Drezner, D. W. (2011). Sanctions sometimes smart: targeted sanctions in theory and practice. International Studies Review, 13(1), 96-108.
  • Finucane, M., & Manion, J. (2019). Trump has pulled out of international agreements before. Here’s a list. Retrieved 25 June 2021, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/02/01/trump-has-pulled-out-international-agreements-before-here-list/H9zTo2ctVEQ0b8xkUQ2t9J/story.html
  • Apodaca, C. (2017). Foreign aid as foreign policy tool. In Oxford research encyclopedia of politics.
  • Brownlee, Jason. (2012). Democracy Prevention: The Politics of the US-Egyptian Alliance (New York: Cambridge University Press), Introduction.
  • Vreeland, J. R. (2006). The International Monetary Fund (IMF): politics of conditional lending. Routledge. Chapter 2.
  • Cafiero, G. (2021). Joe Biden’s effect on Saudi Arabia’s MBS. Retrieved 25 June 2021, from https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/joe-biden-s-effect-on-saudi-arabia-s-mbs-46476

Enes DENİZ

An E-Mail of Mine to an Instructor

Note: Adapted to be posted with certain omissions.


  • It may be problematic to refer to a religion or ideology with concepts that originated in or redefined by another one. Patriarchy to a liberal may mean that orthodox Islam, for example, is patriarchal; but an orthodox Muslim may really think that Islam is not patriarchal at all. And this is different from acknowledging that it is patriarchal but saying it is a necessity ordered by Allah/God and believing it nevertheless.
  • If all ideologies bring salvation if idealized, then what’s the point of having so many of them? There are problems and conflicts in practice, but advocates of different ideologies have disputes in theory as well. So how are we supposed to idealize all these ideologies? And if they all eventually lead to a single point where no problems exist, then do different ideologies diverge or converge? In other words, what would this single final ideology be like if we were to agree on it at some point? And on what basis are we supposed to idealize these ideologies? Should we idealize, say, Marxism, from a liberal perspective?

So what I mean is, salvation for an ideology is most likely disaster for another. And interestingly, almost all ideologies are deemed neutral and perfect, and placed in the exact center by its defenders. Liberalism to a liberal is not an ideology; it is the only right path. And all other ideologies and those that target liberalism in particular, are ideologies that must be eradicated immediately. Same for Marxism and all other isms. Another thing is, all ideologies tend to redefine such concepts as freedom and equality that sound nice as if they have been part of them ever since they first existed on earth. You know, you allegedly do your best to help everyone as much as possible and care about everyone, and you are so kind if you are using such concepts as freedom and equality. So the use of such concepts has become both a condition and a means if one intends to argue for anything and persuade others. But we have not even agreed on any of them.

Another interesting thing is that all ideologies promise worldwide validity and absolute truth. They couldn’t even have become ideologies otherwise. It is pretty much like saying it is definitely true that one ought to doubt everything. Then how come it be definitely true that we ought to doubt everything? And if we do have to doubt everything, then this inevitably includes the premise that it is absolutely true that we have to doubt everything. Likewise, if one talks about freedom, one does have to define it in a way that does not allow anyone to target their ideology and defend other ones. And if one argues for equality, one must still favor those who defend their ideology. Thus, I think I can say that no one is confident enough to grant everyone total freedom to target their views however they wish.

  • There are different interpretations of liberalism that range from the United Kingdom model where followers of different religions settle their disputes by referring to their own courts, and the French model where people even have difficulty worshiping or praying and liberalism protects one’s right to insult religious figures and leaders like prophets rather than practice religious duties. This you may consider in relation to points 1 and 2 above.

Enes DENİZ

Piety, Conservatism and Anti-Pornography Feminists

I originally wrote this essay as my response to a question that we were assigned to answer. I am now posting it with a few additions and changes. We were asked how anti-pornography feminists and “religious conservatives” differed in their approach and objection to the issue. I also aimed to point out the distinction between piety and conservatism as I answered the question. I mainly referred to Islam when using the term “religion”, and likewise for its derivatives and any word with a similar connotation or implication.


I think I will first have to ask whether religious people are similar to conservatives, to which I would say no. It would be inconsistent to equate (certain interpretations of) a religion with conservatism on the one hand and argue that alternative interpretations (“reformist” views and movements) should coexist with orthodox ones on the other. So is religion conservative in its very essence, or does it become as “progressive” as it is cleansed of its “conservative” or “patriarchal” features? Does the concept of religion automatically come with “patriarchy”, or can a religion remain as a religion if it outright adopts the currently promoted discourse?

Conservatism is absolute loyalty to tradition, whether religious or not. Religion, on the other hand, is a certain set of values, whether they allow or contradict certain sociocultural norms and practices or not. So there’s a clear distinction here.

To a conservative, religion is part of tradition and should be preserved only as long as it does not contradict traditional practices; whereas to the religious, tradition may coexist with or become an interpretation of religion only as long as it does not violate its principles. A conservative may never be able to reach an agreement with a religious person on such matters as arranged marriage and women’s education.

Let us just attempt to assume that the religious and the conservative may be grouped together and proceed. They do have some common characteristics after all, including being strictly against pornography.

So anti-pornography feminists look at the issue from a “gender-based” perspective that positions “gender equality” in the center and interprets pornography and other practices, sociocultural and/or religious norms as “patriarchal”. The conservative intends to restrict social life and define morality in accordance with the so called Victorian ethics, oppressing women and sexuality. And the religious is a different story, but I will talk about the “patriarchal”. They put great emphasis on family and marriage while strongly condemning “illegitimate” intercourse and any kind of sexual act without marriage. They (must) not only allow but also encourage sexual intimacy between married partners (male and female spouses) based on bilateral consent as long as it remains “private”.

I have one final question that may be kinda off-topic: If it is women in many cases who consent to become pornstars and be filmed while having intercourse with heterosexuall men in a painful and submissive way in exchange for money, then it is them as well as the men and liberals whom we should criticize. And yes, it is problematic that pornography is legal and rape is not; but to sign an official contract and consent to the assigned role makes it more of filmed prostitution than rape. Also, the women who record themselves to be watched by men and are not paid, probably outnumber those who do get paid, meaning that it is, above all, their consent that makes them do what they do.


You may read the following essay by Catharine MacKinnon to get a better overview of the radical feminist perspective: “Pornography: On Morality and Politics”

Enes DENİZ

The Pope’s Words and Their Aftermath

السلام عليكم, and hi,

Finally, after quite a busy couple of weeks, I’m able to write another post. An English one. I’m busy with courses and schedule, and may therefore be unable to post as often. By the way, an earthquake happened in the Aegean Sea last Friday, causing several buildings in İzmir to collapse and many lives to be lost under them. Still, we were so happy that two little kids were found in good health and rescued, one after 65 hours and the other 91. And yesterday, Turkey’s Medipol Başakşehir beat Man Utd. 2-1. I also proudly inform you that the first dose of vaccine candidates produced in Turkey has been tested on a volunteer today at Erciyes University.

So, Pope Francis’ words on the “LGBT+” issue is still debated. It’s clear that many Catholics are deeply unhappy about this; but my question is, have you ever looked at this issue from this side?

Note: I’m busy as a student studying at a university where those individuals are widely favored and this propaganda gains explicit support.

Enes DENİZ

EDUCATION: A UNIVERSAL RIGHT OR AN OPPORTUNITY ONLY THE ELITE SHOULD HAVE?

Today’s history textbooks often claim that everything began some six centuries ago, when some brave Europeans dared challenge at great costs the dogmas accepted by the Church. These textbooks never mention the East, but this is the subject of another long discussion.

From then on, as the textbooks read, these “brave” Europeans relied more and more on experiments and observations, gradually abandoning and later on opposing the classical methods of education, namely superstitions and the belief in the mystical, replacing them with what they called “reason” and “rationality”. These brave venturers took their first step by following Luther’s lead and translating the Bible into their own vernaculars. Literacy rates rose and people began to read the Bible and various texts written by the leading thinkers of their time. Who could predict that this long path would eventually lead to what we now call “Enlightenment”, after which education would become a “fundamental and indispensable right” for all citizens and a duty for the newly-established nation states? Even in the eighteenth century, who could foresee that I, as a male commoner, would study at a “prestigious” university and discuss what only philosophers and politicians were “eligible” to discuss until roughly a couple of centuries ago? Who could even dream I would be able to use this machine to type this essay and share it with you on the Internet? The most important question to be asked, however, is, how did we end up where we are, and are we heading in the right direction?

Just when we felt relieved to have overcome the first shock after facing Positivism and Modernism, we first met the Radio and Television, then computers and “social media”, which were followed by smartphones. Today’s societies are educated more by the Internet than schools. Infants learn how to read and right before they begin their first grade, thanks to the smartphones given ignorantly to them by their parents. Everyone can blather about everything, and information has almost totally lost its significance. We’ve been asking whether AI will someday be able to read the human mind, but we never ask whether we will even need to use our brains in the future or whether our brains will still be able to hold enough memories to make all the efforts worth the achievement. Google is at our disposal to do all the research for us, and many of us never feel the need to actually learn anything as all they need is a few key presses or taps and swipes in order to recall the results of their previous search. Besides, we confidently believe that no more than a few tweets suffice to shape our political view and make us the most knowledgeable person on earth. We are proud to have earned equal access to many opportunities that only the elite had in the past, but we never acknowledge that we see ourselves not much differently than how the classical aristocrats saw themselves. The worst thing is, those arrogant aristocrats constituted only a small portion of their societies, but we are much greater both in numbers and in proportions. What we call “individualism” has taken the form of vast amounts of “self-improvement” garbage. We’re always subconsciously exposed to the belief that we can do everything. They constantly repeat these fancy words: “You have the capacity to do everything you wish. You just need to have dreams, inspiration and passion.”.

My opinion, in conclusion, is that only a small group should be educated; though this group should be made up of not the wealthiest, but those who really deserve to be educated. Also, everyone should learn what their job requires. Only so can we raise knowledge to its actual holy place.

Enes DENİZ

On Democracy

Türkçe okumak için tıklayınız.

Democracy… The governance system currently accepted to be ideal by many. “The rule of people.” The magic wand to civilize (!) Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Syria and many other states and Turkey. A wand that the one hit by it cannot get up from where they collapse. A wand that is only in the hands of powerful illusionists, and they (the illusionists) rule the real world as we see ourselves in wonderland. As sensitive citizens vote and “determine their own destiny” and protest to “defend their rights” descends this magic wand upon the heads of the weak. Coups become legitimate and even necessary for the restoration and ensuring of democracy once elections do not result as some wish. I shall try to discuss, rather than how democracy is abused, why it is problematic and unreasonable in this essay.

First of all, democracy is a type of governance that works, or shown to us by the illusionists as if it does, based on the decisions of the whole of a people. Both the knowledgeable and the ignorant may, and according to democracy, should be able to express their opinions. I do not know how to distinguish the educated from the ignorant, nor those who are eligible to express their opinions from those who are not, but it is obvious that not everyone is qualified to decide on the matters that a people “determines their own destiny”. It must be either the June 7th or the November 1st elections. I remember what my mother told us about a woman who came up to her as she was voting: The woman approaches her with a ballot in her hand and shows the area belonging to a political party whose name is not needed, and asks, “Am I to vote for that?”. It is quite possible that she does not know how to read. My purpose is not to disdain the illiterate. What I would like to explain and emphasize is this lady’s having not decided of her own will. What does our being literate change anyway? The statements and campaigns around us that we hear and see prevent most of us from reasoning and acting right-mindedly. We were once controlled by TV channels and now we suppose we have saved and “liberated” ourselves from them, but neglect and deny the control of social media over us. Particularly, as a platform where everyone willing can blather as they wish, Twitter hampers our creating and bravely expressing our own ideas; because you are attacked whenever you attempt to act against the norms.

From another aspect, democracy asks not only the uneducated but also the uninterested. Those who do not vote also indirectly influence the outcome by taking away one of the potential votes for a party. Your opportunity to say, “I am not involved in these affairs, and I do not vote.” is taken from your hands; since the vote that you do not cast also determines who is to rule over you, and this is a heavy responsibility.

Another matter is democracy’s working based on the 50%+1 principle. The election system resembles a camera taking momentary shots. You decide under the control of the things that I mentioned above, and this decision remains in effect until the next voting. The Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the events that have followed it, are an outstanding example to this case. By the way, speaking of photography, it is also useful that I remind that one possibility for sure is the photo’s having been montaged (the votes’ having been altered or stolen).

Democracy’s self-imposing characteristic is yet another issue. The only legitimate form of governance in democratic governments is democracy. Although it is claimed that we have freedom of expression, we may not target democracy. Just like religions and philosophical doctrines that promise absolute righteousness… In that case, democracy calls for being worshipped so as to prevail.

* I should clearly state that I am against neither asking for the opinions of others nor taking decisions together. Rather, it will gladden me so much that you share your valuable opinions in your comments. In al-istishara (consultation) exists al-baraka (blessing).

As I end my essay, I congratulate the entire Islamic world on the new hijri year.

Regards and best wishes…

Enes DENİZ

See Also:

الليبيرالية: دين القرن الواحد والعشرين – محمد حجاب

Last updated on: 14 Safar 1442/1 Oct 2020