Entropy in Geopolitics

Entropy in Geopolitics

Originally published on The LobeLog
By, Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr, AIC Board Member

A hundred and fifty years ago, a German physicist derived the concept of “entropy” from the second law of thermodynamics.  Since then, entropy has stood for the idea that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder, from structure to formlessness, and from predictability to uncertainty.  Entropy is the measurement of that change.  It is also the most fitting description of current trends in geopolitics and geoeconomics.

The strategic stabilities of the old order are all in various stages of decay.  Some in my country and abroad had come to view the United States as the next best thing to a world government and global policeman.  But, even before tweets replaced policy papers in Washington, this conception had become preposterous.  The established presumptions no longer operate.

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Iran Digest Week of February 3 - 10

Iran Digest Week of February 3 - 10

Defense, Intelligence Officials Caution White House on Terrorist Designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guard
Senior defense and intelligence officials have cautioned the White House that a proposal to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization could endanger U.S. troops in Iraq and the overall fight against the Islamic State, and would be an unprecedented use of a law that was not designed to sanction government institutions.
Defense and intelligence concerns have been expressed at the highest levels over the past several days, as the White House was preparing to roll out an executive order dealing with both Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Muslim Brotherhood, according to administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive matter.  (The Washington Post)

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Iran Digest Week of January 27 - February 3

Iran Digest Week of January 27 - February 3

Trump says "Nothing off the table" on Iran, as Republicans plan action

U.S. President Donald Trump is poised to impose new sanctions on multiple Iranian entities, seeking to ratchet up pressure on Tehran while crafting a broader strategy to counter what he sees as its destabilizing behavior, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
In the first tangible action against Iran since Trump took office on Jan. 20, the administration, on the same day he insisted that "nothing is off the table," prepared to roll out new measures against more than two dozen Iranian targets, the sources said. The announcement is expected as early as Friday, they added. (Reuters)

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The Limits of Sports Diplomacy in US-Iran Relations

The Limits of Sports Diplomacy in US-Iran Relations

Originally published on The LobeLog
by Nader Entessar, AIC Publications Review Committee Member

US-Iranian relations since 1979 have been characterized by long periods of animosity and mutual demonization and only fleeting moments of relaxed tensions. Under President Trump, the United States has ratcheted up the anti-Iran rhetoric and actions, causing some analysts to opine that a military confrontation between the two countries is likely. Despite US-Iran tensions and the lack of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries, a variety of people-to-people exchanges are among the very few forms of civil engagement between the two sides. Sporting events and other exchanges have played a leading role in enhancing Iranian-American public diplomacy. These examples of public or citizen diplomacy have challenged the malevolent stereotypes of Iranians that have become an ingrained part of American political discourse.  

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Amirahmadi Interview with Radio France (Persian Language)

Amirahmadi Interview with Radio France (Persian Language)

هوشنگ امیراحمدی استاد دانشگاه راتگرز آمریکا معتقد است که دونالد ترامپ و هیئت حاکمۀ جدید آمریکا قصد سازش با جمهوری اسلامی را ندارند و از هر فرصت و بهانه ایی که رهبران ایران در اختیار آنان بگذارند برای اعمال فشار بر حکومت این کشور استفاده می کنند. هوشنگ امیراحمدی همچنین می گوید : خطا است اگر رهبران تهران تصور کنند که دونالد ترامپ بلوف می زند. او می افزاید : خطر بسیار جدی است و رهبران ایران باید در پی راه حل حقیقی باشند...
دونالد ترامپ، رییس جمهوری آمریکا، در صفحۀ توئیترش نوشت که جمهوری اسلامی ایران با آتش بازی می کند و اینکه رهبران تهران متوجه نیستند که تا حد رییس جمهوری پیشین آمریکا، باراک اوباما، با آنان مهربان بوده است. دونالد ترامپ سپس تأکید کرده است که این "مهربانی" در قبال تهران شامل حال او نمی شود.
در پی هشدار رسمی دولت آمریکا علیه ایران پس از آزمایش اخیر موشکی این کشور، دونالد ترامپ به کارگیری گزینۀ نظامی را علیه حکومت اسلامی ایران منتفی ندانست.
هوشنگ امیراحمدی استاد دانشگاه راتگرز آمریکا معتقد است که دونالد ترامپ و هیئت حاکمۀ جدید آمریکا قصد سازش با جمهوری اسلامی را ندارند و از هر فرصت و بهانه ایی که رهبران ایران در اختیار آنان بگذارند برای اعمال فشار بر حکومت این کشور استفاده می کنند. هوشنگ امیراحمدی همچنین می گوید : خطا است اگر رهبران تهران تصور کنند که دونالد ترامپ بلوف می زند. او می افزاید : خطر بسیار جدی است و رهبران ایران باید در پی راه حل حقیقی باشند...

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Open Letter to the People of Iran

Open Letter to the People of Iran

If you support this message please add your signature by leaving a comment below the Persian translation of this letter.

Open Letter to the People of Iran:

We, the American People who disavow President Trump’s executive order denying you entry into our country, are writing to say that we stand with you.

We, who oppose this order, are American citizens of all backgrounds, races, religions and creeds.  We are old and young, rich and poor, and work in all professions.  We are government officials who are refusing to implement this order.  We are lawyers who are contesting this order in court.  We are journalists who are sharing the stories of those affected.  We are ordinary citizens protesting on the streets.  We are Americans who believe in democracy and the values enshrined in our Constitution, and we stand with you.

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Interview about President Trump's Immigration Ban with Harvard Law Lecturer, Ian Samuel

Interview about President Trump's Immigration Ban with Harvard Law Lecturer, Ian Samuel

Less than one week after President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, our latest Iran Chat is with Ian Samuel, Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.  Ian previously served in the United States Department of Justice in the Office of the Solicitor General and on the appellate staff of the Civil Division.  Following his government service, Ian joined the appellate litigation practice at the law firm Jones Day. 

Our conversation covers the legal issues surrounding President Trump's executive order as well as Ian’s offer to personally provide legal services to any government employee who refuses to help implement this ban. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @isamuel, and subscribe to his podcast about the Supreme Court at firstmondays.fm/subscribe.

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Iran Digest Week of January 20 - 27

Iran Digest Week of January 20 - 27

US Senators Rubio, Young, Cornyn, Introduce Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act
In the first session of the new Congress, U.S. Republican Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced the Iran Non-nuclear Sanctions Act, a legislation that would impose harsh financial and economic sanctions countering Iran’s non-nuclear activities.
The hawkish GOP senators, who had introduced the same bill last December, slammed the Obama administration for not adopting adequate measures against Iran.
“I look forward to working with the new administration to hold Iran fully accountable for both its nonnuclear and nuclear threats,” Rubio said during the session, his official website reported on Tuesday. (Tehran Times)

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President Trump’s Ban On Immigration From Iran Is Heartbreaking And Against US National Interest

President Trump’s Ban On Immigration From Iran Is Heartbreaking And Against US National Interest

By Stephanie Lester, Director of Operations
Originally published on the Huffington Post 

Since the 1979 revolution, the US and Iranian governments have always had their differences, but US policy has generally focused on opposing the government of Iran; not the Iranian people. With yesterday’s new blanket ban on immigration from Iran (one of seven Muslim-majority countries targeted), President Trump is going well beyond US precedent and taking steps directly against Iran’s population.

Even if banning entire countries were an effective way to fight terrorism (which it is not), the inclusion of Iran in this ban is extremely hard to justify. While the list does not include the countries of origin for the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks, it includes Iran because its government is a state sponsor of terror; not because of the actions of its citizens. In fact, not a single Iranian national has committed an act of terror against the US homeland

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AIC Statement on the Immigration-Related Executive Order

AIC Statement on the Immigration-Related Executive Order

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order this week banning immigration to the US from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries.  The American Iranian Council considers this order as inappropriate and ineffective in the fight against terror. It is only unfortunate that a very small minority among the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world should be engaged in terrorism, giving Islam a tarnished name. While we must protect our people and the Council is fully for acts that improve our national security, we believe targeting entire countries for the action of a few is unjust and counterproductive to U.S. interests and the “America First” directive of the new administration. 

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Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about the Nuclear Deal with TRT World

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about the Nuclear Deal with TRT World

AIC's President, Dr. Amirahmadi, recently spoke with TRT World about the Iran Nuclear Deal.  

In this wide-ranging interview he describes how the Nuclear Deal didn't go far enough, how he doesn't believe Iran ever intended to produce a nuclear weapon, and how Iran is now in a "trap," which the Trump administration will exploit.  

He explains, "The official policy of the Trump administration [moving forward will be to] keep the deal as a trap for Iran, and then on the periphery, create trouble for Iran by adding more sanctions using human rights and terrorism and Israel as pretext to add more and more of the sanctions, forcing Iran into a situation where either it takes it or leaves. In either case Iran will be a loser. That is the concept of the trap.  I believe that is the official policy.  It is only unfortunate that Iran got itself into that trap, as opposed to opening up to a more comprehensive deal with the United States where everything was on the table, including the nuclear issue, but unfortunately that didn't happen and Iran is in the trap."

Watch the full video, including interview here.

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Iran Digest Week of January 13 - 20

Iran Digest Week of January 13 - 20

Iran to Reserve Judgment on Trump Before He Takes Office

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif vowed to keep an open mind toward Donald Trump, saying it was too early to judge his policies despite the U.S. president-elect’s strongly worded antagonism toward Iran.
"We will have to wait and see what President-elect Trump, once inaugurated, will try to pursue as his policy," Mr. Zarif said Wednesday, addressing a panel at the World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (The Wall Street Journal) 
 

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Iran Digest Week of January 6 - January 13

Iran Digest Week of January 6 - January 13

U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Boats

A US Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats on Sunday near the Strait of Hormuz, US Defense officials said Monday.
Five Iranian vessels approached the USS Mahan and two other US ships that were entering the strait, according to accounts from four sources. The Strait of Hormuz is situated between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
The Mahan, a destroyer, fired warning shots and used radio calls, flares, bells and whistles to signal to the ships to stay away. (CNN)

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Iran Digest Week of December 30 - January 6

Iran Digest  Week of December 30 - January 6

New Prospects for US-Iran Relations Under Trump

While campaigning for office, Trump repeatedly maligned the Iran nuclear deal as one of the worst in American history, and variously promised to tear it up immediately after occupying the White House.           
Since the election, Trump has shifted his public commentary on the subject to emphasize renegotiation, but some media analysis has pointed out how this could effectively undermine the agreement and compel the Iranians to walk away from it. (Iran News Update)

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AIC Statement on the Death of President Rafsanjani

AIC Statement on the Death of President Rafsanjani

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric who served as president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, died on January 8, 2017, at age 82, in a hospital in northern Tehran after suffering a heart attack.  A US State Department official described Rafsanjani as a "prominent figure" and said in a statement, "We send our condolences to his family and loved ones."
 
Rafsanjani was a towering figure in Iranian post-revolutionary politics. In addition to serving as the Islamic Republic’s president, he was a former speaker of the Parliament, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, chairman of the Expediency Council, and head of Iran’s military forces during the Iran-Iraq war.

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Fars News Shares AIC's Article Debunking Common Myths about Iran

Fars News Shares AIC's Article Debunking Common Myths about Iran

Fars News picked up our Director, Stephanie Lester's article in the Huffington Post last week, Debunking the Many Myths Americans Believe About Iran.  

Both the original Persian and English translation of the Fars News article are below.  For Ms. Lester's commentary in her original text/wording, please see the Huffington Post article.

افسانه‌های آمریکا درباره ایران نادرست است/ ایران نه تنها عقب مانده نیست بلکه کشوری دوست‌داشتنی است

به گزارش گروه بین‌الملل خبرگزاری فارس، خانم «استفنی لستر» مدیر شورای ایرانیان آمریکا در گزارشی  ضمن اشاره به سفر امن خود به ایران عنوان داشت: آمریکایی‌ها تمایل دارند ایران را به عنوان کشوری عقب مانده، فرو رفته در افراط‌گرایی و مخالف مدرنیته معرفی نمایند.

وی در ادامه با معرفی خود به عنوان زنی آمریکایی _یهودی که اخیرا به ایران سفر کرده و به تنهایی ده روز را آنجا سپری نموده، به یافته‌های خود که خلاف ادعاهای ضد ایرانی است اشاره کرده و نوشت: ایران کشور امن، زیبا با مردمانی مهمان نواز به ویژه با گردشگران آمریکایی است.

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Iran Digest Week of December 23 - 30

Iran Digest Week of December 23 - 30

Inside the 37- Year Standoff Over Iran's Frozen U.S. Dollars

When the shah of Iran fell in 1979, the U.S. froze at least $400 million of Iranian money sitting in a Pentagon trust fund. The Islamic Republic of Iran never stopped trying to get it back.

Tehran unsuccessfully sought the money from Jimmy Carter in return for 52 American diplomats held hostage for 444 days. It asked the Reagan administration for the same money during dealings that led to the Iran-Contra scandal. The issue came up yet again during negotiations with George H.W. Bush’s White House.

No administration agreed to surrender all the money, until Jan.17, shortly after four American citizens were released from Iranian jailsin a prisoner exchange. That is when an Iranian government Boeing737 lifted off from Geneva’s Cointrin airport carrying $400 million—stacks of Swiss francs delivered on wooden pallets earlier that day by the U.S. government. (The Wall Street Journal)

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AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston spoke with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal. The article was originally published in Mehr News.

The interview in its original English, as well as the Persian translation, are below.  

Q:  During the presidential campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump claimed that President Obama gave too many points to Iran in the nuclear deal and said he would re-negotiate the deal.   What will Trump actually do?

A:  I don’t believe that Trump would actually renounce the agreement.  He may try to put on some additional sanctions (not under JCPOA but under other provisions), but I don’t believe he will renounce the agreement.

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Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about Sanctions with TRT World

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about Sanctions with TRT World

AIC's President, Dr. Amirahmadi, speaks about sanctions with TRTWorld.  

He explains that, "From the American side, almost ninety five percent of the American sanctions on Iran are still in place.  Americans only lifted sanctions related to nuclear programs on Iran.  So if you are a US entity, sanctions almost completely remain, except for certain areas where there are humanitarian issues, or if you are under license from the treasury department.  So, unfortunately from the US side, sanction relief remains very illusory, very little has happened."

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2017 New Year Greeting

2017 New Year Greeting

Let us begin by sending you a warm New Year greetings from everyone at the American Iranian Council.  As we predicted back in April in a statement entitled “Staying Ahead of the Curve," and given the expected composition of President-Elect Trump’s upcoming cabinet, US-Iran relations could deteriorate in the months ahead despite the fact that Iran has implemented its commitments in the JCPOA (the nuclear deal).  Even more daunting are the challenges that come with a new US Administration, the upcoming Presidential elections in Iran, and a Middle East in serious disarray.

However, and notwithstanding this concern for a possible decay in US-Iran relations, we strongly believe that, with your support, we can make 2017 a year of substantive achievements.

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