Following the occupation of the US embassy by Student Followers of the Imam's Line and after the US government's disappointment in establishing normal relations with Iran during Bazargan's government, the US government's behavior pattern started to shift towards Iran in accordance with the policies of either democratic or republican governments who drifted into either sanction-restraint or active-passive confrontations.
Active confrontation is a concept associated with the literature of the Cold War, concerning the period between 1945 and 1970 (the beginning of détente), when any conflict in any part of the world took on the shape of The Cold War, and the military forces of the United States and the Soviet Union, aligned with their proxies (substitutes) were lining up in front of each other. The Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the Cuban Crises were notable examples of the active confrontation between America and the Soviet Union. Internal political conflicts and challenges too, have sometimes appeared relatable to the cold war; the Arab-Israeli conflict and the 1953 Iranian coup d'état are examples of local challenges that were defined and explained at the scale of systemic conflicts.
The either active or passive confrontation between Iran and the United States has been an intermittent phenomenon during the past forty years. All the White House governments have acknowledged the strategy of sanctions and containment against Iran. The only matter of distinction being their confrontation strategy regarding the ongoing interactions between Tehran and Washington. The White House has never entered the field intending to conduct a constructive interaction with Iran; on the contrary, its strategy has shifted from active confrontation into a passive confrontation on some occasions only due to the internal considerations in the US or regarding the demands of their intended power structure in the Middle East. The periods which can be defined identical to the concept of passive confrontation between America and Iran include the time of the protracted Iran–Iraq War up to the revelation of the McFarlane affair, during the presidencies of Clinton and also Obama (after the 2011 sanctions); however, after the revelation of the McFarlane affair, and during the presidencies of George Bush, the father, and George Bush, the son, Barak Obama (after 2011 sanctions) and also Donald Trump, this strategy has appeared as active confrontation.
The era of active confrontation also includes two relatively different situations. Whenever the US has motivated its confrontation with Iran aligned with the World's greatest powers, Iran has been targeted by the most serious threats and damages. For instance, we can refer to the consensus between the US and the Soviet Union in 1986-1988 and also the consensus of the great powers against Iran during Obama's presidency after 2011, wherein both cases led to sanction resolutions against Iran in the United States National Security Council recorded in the seventh chapter of the Charter of the United Nations. On the other hand, whenever the authoritative power in the White House has aimed for an active confrontation against Iran without taking allies, the conflicting gap between the World's greatest powers has provided a safe space for Iran to respond actively while managing the crisis. A remarkable example of this situation is during the presidencies of Georg Bush, the father, George Bush, the son, and also Donald Trump.
According to the presented historical analysis, the re-confrontation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could be possibly due to either activation or deactivation of the US/Europe conflict with Iran. In case the issued resolution was intended to re-activate the frozen negotiations in Vienna and aims to encourage the involved parties to carry out a temporary agreement, it can be implied that this resolution, despite its current acerbity against Iran, will temporarily deactivate the confrontation between Iran and the United States, leading Iran to act freely on the regional and international scales for enhancing its Neighbourhood Policies regarding its neighbouring countries and its Look to Asia . On the other hand, this resolution starts a dangerous trend that leads Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council, as has happened during Obama's presidency, and activates Iran's conflict not only with the United States but also with the World's greatest powers.
The key point is whether China and Russia will stand by Iran in case Iran's nuclear case is referred from the Board of Governors to the Security Council, or whether, like what happened during Obama's time, the international political and economic lobbies of these two countries will also turn against Iran and they choose to take sides with the western powers? Scenario writing concerning Iran's negotiations with the West should be directed in such a way that upon the activation of the US-Europe-Iran conflict, the intended process for confrontation won't be due to a consensus among these great powers.
Seyed Mohammad Hoseini,Senior expert at the IPIS
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)