A former Iranian deputy foreign minister has questioned Iran's military ambitions in a clear reference to Revolutionary Guard commanders’ claims about the Iranian armed force's deterrent power following the launch of a military satellite last week.
In an analysis entitled "The Strategy of Deterrence" in Saturday's edition of reformist newspaper Sharq, Aminzadeh wrote that "further to military deterrence, countries need an economic deterrent power in order to protect their national security."
He noted that "The coronavirus outbreak has redoubled Iran's economic problems in the face of U.S. sanctions. But even before the outbreak, Iran's inability to protect its national economy had exposed the country to this extremely difficult situation."
IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said in an interview on Iran's state TV on 24 April that by launching its first military satellite into space, Iran has become a "superpower". He also praised the measure as a boost for Iran's deterrence power against any enemy.
"We will be more powerful every day and no one can threaten us. The United States and even bigger powers cannot do a damn thing to us," Hajizadeh claimed.
Earlier, IRGC commander-in-chief Hossein Salami had also said the launch of Iran's first military satellite on Wednesday April 22 marks the "beginning of the formation of a world power."
Iran's Supreme Leader who has always been supporting the IRGC and its hardline rhetoric, has so far remained silent about the military satellite launch and the IRGC commanders' boastful remarks. Although he has been in a strict self-isolation since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, still he could have made a comment about the development. It is possible he is annoyed by Salami's earlier outlandish claims about the invention of a machine that can detect coronavirus from a distance of 100 meters.
In his analysis Aminzadeh charged that some Iranian officials have not noticed that the post-Cold War strategists have re-defined the concept of deterrence, stressing that it now means "being capable of displaying and using effective aggressive military power to dissuade the enemy of the idea of a military offensive." In other words, it means being able to "retaliate."
He said the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago, when it was at the peak of its military power, showed that lack of economic power can be catastrophic. He noted that "today, economic sanctions have proved to be more effective than engaging in an arms race," adding that "the successful experience of the United States in sanctioning Iran has turned the sanctions into the most important and most effective tool for the U.S. in its confrontation with the Islamic Republic."
Aminzadeh reminded Iranian officials of "the shift in the elements of national power from military power to economic power since the Cold War," and wrote "economic power strongly depends on foreign trade and international transactions," adding that "the concepts of self-sufficiency and confinement within national borders are meaningless in today's economy," possibly in a reference to Khamenei's idea of a Jihadist economy.
Pointing out Iran's weaknesses, Aminzadeh wrote that maintaining economic relations with neighbors and powerful countries plays a key role in both economic and military deterrence.
Aminzadeh warned that "development of a military power disproportionate with the country's economic power is a dangerous thing. One of the reasons of the collapse of the Soviet Union was the continuous decline of its economic resources."
He also criticized the dictum of "Looking to East" or an orientation toward China and Russia, which was mentioned by Khamenei a couple of times during the past year. Aminzadeh said that the idea of relying on the East to evade U.S. pressures is still present in some Iranian officials' dreams and wishful thinking. Aminzadeh added that now even Russia and China see an improvement in Iran's ties with the United States as a condition for expanding their relations with Iran.
"For the development of economic ties, even with countries known as the East, Iran badly needs to resolve its disputes with the United States," he wrote, adding that the idea of a Cold War style deterrence by looking East is misleading. "Good or bad, that period is gone!"
As a way out of its problems, Aminzadeh suggested that Iran needs proper economic management, maintaining economic ties with other countries through improving Iran's foreign policy as the most important obstacle to the country's economic development and putting an end to U.S. sanctions and Iran's international isolation.
To do that, he suggested that Iran should activate mediation efforts and “push the United States to a more balanced and logical position”.