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Iran Navigates the World
Iran Navigates the World
Table of Contents
  1. Foreword
Report 138 / Middle East & North Africa

蛛丝迷网:伊朗制裁的动辄废立

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由于战争是一个可怕的选择,而富有成果的谈判仍然遥不可及,制裁已经成为西方国家对抗伊朗的首要手段。对伊朗的制裁无处不在:在金融领域,禁止日常商贸关系;在石油领域,切断伊朗的主要外汇来源;在保险业方面,挫败其货运能力。毫无疑问,这些措施摧残了伊朗的经济,但它们是否成功呢?至少根据一个重要的标准(西方对核能力发展的关注强度),答案很明显是否定的。这些制裁还造成了很多意想不到的副作用(强化伊朗政府分配物品的能力;损害普通公民的利益;致使伊朗领袖愈加相信西方国家图谋更换伊朗政权,从而升级其报复手段;而织就成的这张由惩罚措施组成的网,拆解比编织还更加困难)。制裁不一定都是适得其反。但是,它很容易成为阻力最小的手段,其效力往往取决于所造成的危害,而不是对目标的实现。在今后的案例中,政策制定者应确保不断地重新评估这些制裁措施的作用。就目前来说,需要优先考虑的是制定有意义的、现实的制裁缓解清单来对应有意义的、现实的核让步。

对伊朗的制裁不是单一政策的产物,而是经过了三十多年的演变,有多种多样的制裁者和五花八门的政策目标。最终的结果是针对伊朗经济的几乎每一个重要产业的一系列可观的单边和多边惩罚性措施,制裁措施在原则上也覆盖多个政策目标(防核扩散、反恐、人权),然而,最主要的是,制裁旨在给伊朗伊斯兰共和国提供一个简单的选择:要么遵守国际核条约的要求,要么承受严峻的经济后果。

国际社会走到目前这个地步的过程展示了对试图影响伊朗政策的各种限制和挫折(其中一些是不可避免的,而许多却是自身造成的)。这一现象也展示了制裁不可抗拒的吸引力,制裁支持者包括希望削弱伊朗政权的强硬派和用其替代军事打击的温和派。这还展示了随着时间的推移,手段是如何演变成为目的:在伊朗的政治考量没有任何明显改变的情况下,除了制裁的数量和强度外,很难有其它任何指标来衡量其影响。在此背景下,制裁未能有效遏制伊朗核野心这一问题多少已被人抛在脑后了。

问题的核心关键是,西方与伊朗看待制裁的角度大相径庭。欧洲和美国官员采用的是成本效益分析理论,其推理逻辑是,伊斯兰共和国在某一特定时刻会得出这样的结论,坚持发展核武器的道路,会引发经济上的困难,其严重程度足以引发更广泛的民众浪潮,最终威胁到政权本身的存亡。但是,伊朗看待世界的角度截然不同。他们认为,同忍受制裁的痛苦相比,更危险的事情就是向制裁者投降;伊朗统治者认为,西方世界旨在推翻伊朗目前的政权,其推行的经济制裁只是动摇伊朗统治的众多手段之一。伊朗长期经历着国际上的外交孤立,它与伊拉克也有过交战历史,根植于这些经历的战略考量可以用两个词来概括:抵抗、生存,其中抵抗是生存的先决条件。

因此,人们有充分的理由相信,伊朗宁愿继续调整经济政策以适应国际制裁,也不愿意调整其核政策以换取制裁的撤销。同样道理,伊朗国内主要政治力量所展开的政治游说工作也是旨在说服当局改变经济政策,而不是调整核政策。很能说明问题的一点是,虽然伊朗政权的主要支持者已经受到了国际制裁的打击,但制裁的影响并不是对所有人都一样,有些人甚至根本不受影响。政府及准政府机构在经济上仍然占主导地位,有证据表明,与政府高层联系紧密的那些人受到制裁的冲击较小,能够规避制裁措施,开拓新的机会,从而最大限度的降低他们利益上的损害。正负抵消后的结果就是,伊朗的国家政治经济格局得以重塑,并且同制裁者所声称的目标背道而驰。

制裁还产生了其他一些意想不到的后果。制裁愈加全面,普通老百姓受到的伤害就愈加严重。尽管西方国家尽全力落实人道主义物资的豁免权,但关于民生物资,特别是专门药物的普遍短缺的相关报告,比比皆是。这部分归因于伊朗政府的效率低下,但也仅仅是部分原因而已。而制裁本身,特别是目前已经产生效力的全面和深远的制裁措施,必然同时引发雪球效应和寒蝉效应。伊朗缺乏外汇资源。外国企业由于担心在不知情时违反制裁,甚至避免涉足官方批准的项目。交易成本大幅激增,这也意味着公众对无能的伊朗当局以及麻木不仁的国际社会的愤怒更加不相上下。

以制裁为工具的强制外交的有效性最终在于撤销制裁的前景转换为政策变化的可能性;制裁效力的衡量标准是取消制裁时所能达成的目标,而不是施加制裁时造成的效应。这其中就存在着另外一个问题。对于伊朗而言,至多只能说局势不明朗。虽然伊朗一直以来都不愿意承认国际制裁所造成的影响或是对取消制裁的渴望,但伊朗官员日益将取消制裁作为达成任何协议的先决条件。然而,这谈何容易。对伊朗的制裁已经变得如此广泛,如此错综复杂,在没有取得伊朗在内政外交上的重大转变(发生的几率很小)前,要制裁者提出减免重大实质制裁很难;因此,达到能让美国取消制裁的条件尤其让人难以想象。这样一来,剩下来的选择就只有暂时中断或是放弃制裁举措,而伊朗可能至多以暂时性和可逆的措施作为回馈。

同样的,在许多情况下,制裁的后果获得了自己的生命力,并在制裁结束后继续存在。这是因为制裁下的伊朗的重要贸易和消费模式已经发生了变化。已经撤离伊朗的公司和疏远伊朗的国家——尽管他们可能为此付出了高昂的代价——短期内不太可能急着返回伊朗,至少他们在没有获得坚实保证来证明任何取消制裁的决定将是持久而非暂时之前会按兵不动。

最后,还有另一个相当大的风险:即将所有的赌注都压在制裁行动上,一旦制裁失败,战争可能被认为是唯一选择。

本文无意完全否认制裁作为一个政策工具的效用。即使是伊朗这一案例,如果没有实施制裁的话,伊朗可能会在核道路上走得更远。而且制裁仍优于军事对抗。但至少在施加制裁时,应该表现出更谨慎的态度和更明智的考量;在现有制裁措施无效的情况下,应抗拒继续堆加制裁的冲动;应不断对制裁的社会和经济后果进行评估和再评估;应保持足够的灵活性,以便在外交进程需要“手术刀”而不是“电锯时,将制裁和取消制裁用来推进谈判。

就伊朗而言,逆转整个制裁体系已经为时过晚。大规模的制裁体系已经形成,其衍生品已经形成,而且短期内仍会继续存在。五加一国家(五个安理会常任理事国,外加德国)所面临的挑战是制定一揽子激励措施,其中包括免除部分制裁,并确保这些免除的制裁在政治上和法律上具有可实现性,能真正解决伊朗的担忧。而伊朗面对的挑战将是如何就此做出回应。本周在阿拉木图举行的会议为双方提供了一个开始沿着这条路线努力下去的机会。

华盛顿/布鲁塞尔,2013年2月25日

Iran Navigates the World

In his prologue to The Geopolitics of Iran, edited by Francisco José B. S. Leandro, Carlos Branco, and Flavius Caba-Maria, our Middle East expert Joost Hiltermann says policymakers should come to grips with the country's lived experience to understand why dialogue and diplomacy are the best way to deal with the Islamic Republic.

Foreword

Imagine the view from Tehran. It is early 2021. You are an Iranian, with inherited memories of empire and conquest, yet also of foreign invasions and defeat; a citizen of a country isolated in the world, yet also a rising power accused of hegemonic ambitions, one that may be poorly managed but also has accumulated and deployed remarkable technical brainpower; you’re part of a population kept down by harsh economic sanctions but that has proved doggedly resilient; you’re saddled with a leadership that champions a revolutionary ideology, now fading, even as it projects its power across the region; and you belong to a society that veers between forbearance and protest, but is kept in check by a security apparatus that uses an effective blend of co-optation and naked repression to stay in power. 

This is Iran today – located on a geopolitical junction between the Asian and European continents, hemmed in between former Soviet republics, Turkey, Afghanistan and the Arab world, and commanding a strategic chokepoint – the Strait of Hormuz – through which flow one fifth of the world’s global oil consumption and a quarter of its LNG trade. The country is a magnet for foreign interests as it strives to escape its containment and attain its full potential, which it deems an entitlement after four decades of isolation.

For centuries, Iran has fought for its security and survival by warding off outside threats. For the same length of time it also has forged critical alliances with external powers to better insulate itself against such threats. It has had experience of foreign powers vying to partition the country into spheres of influence. Yet in the process it has perfected the art of divide and rule in confronting both internal and external challenges. Ever since its Islamic revolution, it has attempted to project its power into its neighbourhood, initially in Lebanon but also, in the more recent past, in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where it succeeded by capitalising on the weakness and mistakes of its adversaries. The 2011 Arab uprisings, and their destructive aftermath, proved a turning point as Arab states collapsed, creating a vacuum into which Iran, among others, was keen to step before one of its rivals would. It thus spread or deepened its influence partly by design but mainly by default, either way terrifying its enemies.

Its main strategy in the region, from the days it established Hezbollah in the wake of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, has been to court local non-state allies, and to arm and train them. For this it used the Qods Force, an expeditionary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Pasdaran, commanded by Qasem Soleimani until his killing in an American drone strike in January 2020. 

That attack was part of an unremitting U.S. effort to keep Iran leashed, which started with the Islamic revolution and hostage crisis more than 40 years ago. Even the Obama administration, which sought to overcome the bitter legacy of the 1953 CIA-orchestrated coup that overthrew the elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the embassy hostage-taking, and ongoing sparring in the Middle East and beyond, remained intent on keeping Iran contained. 

The next administration, led by Donald Trump, went back to the old way, throwing the nuclear accord President Obama had negotiated out of the window, re-imposing sanctions, and endeavouring to clip Iran’s regional power projection through economic coercion and military deterrence. This campaign, dubbed “maximum pressure”, further impoverished a population already stressed by a badly run economy while failing to achieve any of its stated objectives: further limiting Iran’s nuclear program, reducing its footprint in the region, destabilising the country, and forcing its leadership back to the negotiating table on far less favourable terms.

To the contrary, Iran appeared undeterred, if perturbed, by sanctions and setbacks, which merely re-empowered the hard-line elements of its political class. It lashed out at the U.S. and its allies in the region, displaying an astute sense of how close to the limit it could take an escalation short of precipitating a full-throated U.S. military response. On the nuclear front, it countered new U.S. sanctions by incrementally violating the nuclear deal, but it made clear its steps were reversible and that indeed it would reverse them should the Trump administration or its successor come around or the Europeans decide to compensate Iran. The arrival of the Biden administration seemed to offer a new opening. 

The experience of both the Obama and Trump years shows that the Islamic Republic is here to stay unless one of two things happens: a violent overthrow by the United States and its allies, or its collapse in a popular uprising. Neither scenario appears likely. The 2003 Iraq invasion showed the limits of U.S. power in the region, and even laid bare its vulnerabilities through the consequences it unintentionally unleashed: the empowerment of jihadist groups. The U.S. learned an important lesson, which it heeded in subsequent discussions about the wisdom of using American power in the pursuit of regime change and state rebuilding in Libya and Syria. And while a significant segment of the Iranian population may be thoroughly fed up with the clerical leadership – there is every indication many people are – they appear to have neither the means to effectively counter a deeply entrenched repressive security apparatus nor a viable alternative.

It is an axiom of international relations that one negotiates with one’s enemy. As long as the notion that the Islamic Republic will somehow disappear remains as fanciful as it is today, Iran and its adversaries will have to find ways to accommodate one another. This requires dialogue and diplomacy. From their side, the Iranians have proved to be as capable as diplomats as they have been in military affairs, and have shown they can effectively combine the two. The United States, by contrast, has shown inconsistency and, at least in the last four years, an unhealthy resort to coercion as the only way of dealing with Iran. A return to such an approach, during the Biden administration or the one succeeding it, might well deliver a self-fulfilling prophecy: the further rise of a vengeful power, nurtured by the resourcefulness that its long isolation forced it to develop, now with explicitly hegemonic ambitions and an ability to disrupt an oil-dependent global economy.

There is much to recommend the volume in front of you. Its main objective is to show why and how Iran has been and remains a relevant actor in the international order, and particularly in the context of the Middle East – a regional power we ignore at our peril. To accomplish this, this volume: addresses Iran’s intertwined interests and perceptions, basing the country’s foreign policy-making on its religion-inspired ideology and four-decade enmity with the United States; examines Iran’s relations with states in its wider neighbourhood, as well as with world powers – China, the European Union and Russia, in addition to the United States; and offers an array of scholarly views on the many and various aspects of Iran’s durability in an unsparing world. 

In doing so, this volume offers a window on Iran looking in, providing a glimpse of a nation’s lived experience. It is as close as we can come to a firm grasp of how such an experience can be lived in the first place. May it serve a global audience that values the importance of reciprocal understanding as the foundation for sound decision-making in the management of inter-state relations.