JUST THINKING FREELY
Potentials for a US/Iran Rapprochement
March 1, 2013
On Tuesday, February 26, the P5+1 and Iran commenced negotiations in Almati, Kazakhstan, and Chuck Hagel began his first day on the job as the new Secretary of Defense. Both these events bore great significance, considering what had gone on to lead to this stage of the game.
P5+1, meaning the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France, comprising the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, met with the Iranian delegation to work toward resolving their differences regarding Iran's nuclear enrichment programs.
On the surface at least, and as far as the general public is led to believe (evidenced by the recent Gallup poll), the problem concerns Iran's nuclear "ambitions" and the threats the Islamic Republic would pose to global security should it succeed in its attempts to develop atomic weapons. Those who stand to benefit from this portrayal would like the public to believe, and have clearly succeeded in doing so, that negotiations aimed at resolving Iran's nuclear "crisis" through extended discussions and potential accommodations give the Iranians more time to proceed with their real objectives, in spite of their constant denials, to become a nuclear weapons power. Chief among the beneficiaries of the political demonization of the Islamic Republic is, of course, Israel, as amply demonstrated by Netanyahu's repeated statements and relentless accusations.
Those who bothered to watch the Senate proceedings for the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as the Defense Secretary saw on live TV, perhaps for the first time ever, the influence of Zionist power over our nation's highest legislative organs that are supposedly vested with the responsibility of safeguarding America's best interests. And thanks to the power of money and the pervasive control and influence over the nation's mass media, Israeli interests have succeeded in polluting the public mind in America with pro-Israel and anti anything that opposes Israel's agendas, to an extent that detoxification will now require some miracle of sorts.
In this, the gigantic Military/Industrial Complex is also complicit. The economic weight of America's industries and related services that cater to and depend on the maintenance and even the expansion of the various arms of the US military cannot be discounted. Actual, and too often concocted, threats against the safety and security of the United States and its allies are, therefore, essential to justify preserving this monster, even under the current budgetary constraints.
To complete the list, we should also mention the radical or extreme elements among the conservative mindsets, and the delusional, rapture-oriented evangelicals, who spew their anti-Islam and especially anti-Iran hatred purely based on their superstitious beliefs.
If a rapprochement between Iran and the United States is ever to be seriously pursued, formidable forces that stand in the way must be appropriately addressed. The process will require time, patience and a bit of courage on both sides.
Obstacles also exist on the Iranian side, but those obstacles are much easier to hurdle than we have been led to believe. For reasons that follow, the ball is actually in the United States' court to start the process, and the key is in America's hand to unlock the door.
Is there, and has there been, any deep seated animosity toward America or what could be described as anti-Americanism among the Iranians as has definitely been the case historically against the British imperialism or is now unquestionably against Zionism? There is no deep seated anti-Americanism that would stand in the way of an honest attempt toward a rapprochement.
We hear a lot about how the United States helped put an end to Iran's attempt to move toward a liberal democratic governance under the leadership of the charismatic prime minister Mosaddegh in 1953. We also hear that the bleeding wounds left behind have continued to hemorrhage and finally festered into the 1978 uprising against the regime of the pro-America Shah. This view is in need of major revisions. Let's, then, debunk this myth that Iranian's alleged hatred of America goes back to and is rooted in the coup d'état of 1953.
The population of the country in the early '50s was about 16-17 million, mostly rural. This number is quite a bit lower than the current population of Tehran alone! The literacy rate throughout the country was quite dismal, with better than 98% of the literate public concentrated in major metropolitan areas, especially Tehran.
The pro-Mosaddegh or the anti-Shah movement, to which I also so proudly, and rather naively, belonged at the ripe age of 15, comprised of the National Front, as well as some minor left-wing and communist groups that were under a great deal of pressure ever since WWII. While the National Front included the patriotic nationalists and many among the educate elite, as well as most student groups from high schools and universities, the leftists included what we could label as the politically active intelligentsia; and all the above groups were concentrated in Tehran and few other bigger towns.
Even though it was known that the coup that led to Mosaddegh's downfall was spearheaded by the CIA, most, if not all, blamed the MI6 or the British government as the real mastermind behind it, and quite correctly so. Even after the return of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to the throne, and the harsh crackdown against the higher ranking former Mosaddegh supporters, there was little or no sense of anti-Americanism among the people, especially the millions of rural folks who actually had no clue as to what political events had taken place.
The nationalization of Iran's oil industry by Mosaddegh in 1951 led to the American and some European oil companies partially displacing the British Petroleum's monopoly, even though the latter managed to hold on the lion's share of Iran's oil industry, and a period of relative economic prosperity ensued.
Yes, there is no doubt that Mosaddegh was a national hero and a true patriot whose name shall remain as symbolic of a nation's aspirations toward freedom and democracy. But in reality, a Lenin, Gandhi, or Mandela he was not. To better appreciate this, I would recommend a book, Blood and Oil by the late M. Farmanfarmaian, Mosaddegh's contemporary and one of the founders of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
What I am trying to say is that, contrary to the commonly quoted reference, the Islamic Revolution that was on its ascendancy in earnest in 1977-78, and reached its final success in early 1979, was not caused or even motivated by or resulted from the coup of 1953. The anti-American slogans that erupted later were aimed at the Shah's strong American affiliation, which would have likely subsided if the embassy hostage crisis had not taken place.
Many left-oriented and remnant nationalist figures and groups, who had clearly underestimated the uprising's Islamist nature and the focused leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, tried to revive Mosaddegh's name and rejuvenate the National Front and dovetail it into the Islamic Revolution. Even though this effort was short lived, the American involvement in the coup of 1953 was thus interjected into the minds of a public, some 40 million at this time, a generation removed from the oblivious handful of millions of the early fifties, and created the now prevailing mythology connecting the events of 1953 to the Islamic Revolution of a quarter-century later.
The anti-American sloganeering we see and hear in Iran today has as much foundation in historical reality as does the anti-Iran sentiments among the American people; both a creation of well-orchestrated propaganda efforts!
I was personally involved and active in the Mosaddegh era, and didn't see or sense any anti-American sentiments even after the coup of 1953. The blame was always put on the British and Shah's own brutal crackdown on any dissent after his return. I worked in Iran in many capacities in the '60s and '70s and never saw or sensed any anti-American sentiments even among my leftist friends and colleagues. In my three visits to Iran in more recent times, I never saw or sensed any anti-American sentiments outside occasional token official regime pronouncements, whether in major cities or small towns and villages.
I haven't run into any American tourist/visitor to Iran who has complained about anti-American sentiments during their visit. In fact, Iran is without doubt the safest and the most hospitable to visit by tourists, including Americans, of any country in that region, including the "friendly" Turkey or Jordan and the "adorable" Israel. So, where is this anti-American hatred and animosity that our congressional representatives and media talking heads are warning and alarming us about?
Even the parliamentary rhetoric criticizing America's policies toward the Islamic Republic is seldom if ever as scathingly venomous as what our congressional leaders level against Iran.
Just as the anti-Mosaddegh coup of 1953 was mostly blamed on the British as the real culprit behind the CIA's TPAJAX Project, the current American animosity toward the Islamic Republic is clearly blamed by the Iraniansn on the Zionist or Israeli masterminds behind the American administration's hostile policies toward the Middle East and Iran. For the latest example see here.
I have no doubt that truths are not hidden from the top Administration officials, particularly the White House, the State Department, the intelligence community, and other Cabinet offices. The negative portrayals that continue to be seen when addressing Iran issues by the officials who do know better are carryovers from the previous administrations, amplified by the general public's perceptions that our captive news and entertainment media have cooked up.
The result is the immense difficulty we will be encountering in attempting to implement changes in policies that are required if a rapprochement with Iran is the target. That a new effort is actually underway, there is little doubt. The appointment by the President of Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense was a definite signal, a man who was known for his "undesirable" or rogue attitudes, according to his inquisitors at the Senate confirmation hearing, namely his lack of sufficient love for, and obedience to, Israel, and his insufficient hatred for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Vice President, Joseph Biden, offering to join the Iranian leaders in a serious dialogue was also a signal, as was the expressed views of the US representatives at the Almati gathering that the meeting had showed encouraging signs.
The Iranian delegation also expressed optimism after the two-day meeting in Almati, even though no definite agreements were reached.
This doesn't mean that the process will be easy or smooth. AIPAC, the Israel Lobby, is holding its biggest annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this weekend, and the main agenda is, again, concerning Iran. Looking at the list of confirmed speakers, the motives behind some of Chuck Hagel's inquisitors at the Senate hearings become clear. Perhaps to see the rest of them, we should attend one of Pastor John Hagee's Christians United for Israel ministries, maybe to find Lindsey Graham standing next to him and showing him a copy of his new Senate Bill that he and McCain had just prepared to support Israel militarily, should it find it necessary to attack Iran preemptively!
Realistically speaking, any expectation of a quick shift in policy is impossible; a giant oceanliner cannot change directions on a dime. Not much was expected at the Almati conference, and not much was accomplished, except for the prospects for more conciliatory or back scratching approach in future talks. The door, in other words, is ajar. Any meaningful developments should not be anticipated before the upcoming presidential elections in Iran this summer, by which time the new Cabinet posts of John Kerry and Chuck Hagel would be well established as well.
I have tried to show here that not much stands in the way of Iran welcoming a rapprochement by the United States. There is no deep seated angst or animosity in the public domain against the United States, even though the real, although arguably deniable, American complicity in Saddam Hussein's war on Iran is still fresh in everyone's mind. Iranians in general blame the influence of Israel and Zionism as the main factor behind American administration's mistrust and pressure against the Islamic Republic.
A new opening with Iran does not have to be in the form of some historical Grand Bargain. Rather, it should be based on the simple fact that a less confrontational position between the two states could benefit both parties without negative consequences.
What Iran could do to help the United States in the Middle East region?
1- Iran already has, and is increasing, its relationship with the Pakistani regime. The joint gas pipeline and other cooperative efforts could serve as a conduit for the United States to allay its legitimate concerns over Pakistan's fragmented and unstable government and its nuclear arsenal.
2- Without Iran's direct involvement, and without Pakistan's cooperation, the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan could not be put to rest, ending the decade-long engagement there. Iran and the United State have the same enemies to contend with in a lawless Afghanistan.
3- In the aftermath of the ill conceived war on terror, Iraq is continuing to fall apart under sectarian unrest. Again, without direct Iranian involvement and cooperation, there is no hope that Iraqi situation could be brought under control. Fear of a Shi'ite hegemonic domination of the region is highly exaggerated and would be alleviated under some understanding between Iran and the United States to ease the concerns of the oil rich American allies of convenience in the southern shores of the Persian Gulf.
4- The turbulent Syrian situation could also be resolved by Iran's mediation, with its influence over the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime. The Syrian nightmare is not your typical civil war; the opposition is not a unified popular movement confronting the ruling party. The Salafists and Wahabis armed and funded by the Saudis and Qataris, the Al-Gha'eda factions, Kurdish separatists, and other foreign based militants, do not comprise a meaningful, united, alternative to the Assad regime. Syria is facing death and destruction, to which malicious outside interference has been the principle contributor. In other words, the United States does not need to and should not enter yet another war zone in the Middle East and ask for more trouble than it already faces.
5- Economically, the United States would benefit greatly by opening trade relations with Iran, and gain a meaningful and effective upper hand in Iran's oil trade with the rival China, especially if the Iraqi oil is brought under the same umbrella with the Iranian resources. Renewed economic relations would also help secure the position of the American dollar as the chief international monetary unit of trade.
6- Considering the increasing financial pressures we are experiencing, the costs of maintaining our current military presence in the region could be reduced significantly by pulling back the naval and ground task forces currently deployed.
7- Closer cooperation with Iran would also bring about more transparency and reduce the current paranoia that has been artificially generated in the public domain with regard to Iran's nuclear developments.
Needless to say, the big caveat in all this is the appeasement of the Israeli regime, which will be the major issue to be addressed by the United States if any progress is to be made in a rapprochement with Iran.
What could the United States do to gain Iran's confidence and cooperation?
1- Initiate direct and unconditional dialogue between the State Department and the Iranian counterparts; no carrots or stick or boss to subordinate approach, but a dialogue between equals. The Iranians will be more than anxious to participate in such a dialogue, as long as proper protocol is observed.
2- Remove unnecessary and counterproductive sanctions against Iran, which by all accounts have been doing nothing but hurt the nation and create more defiance and hatred against the perpetrators of such measures, viewed to be mostly the US Congress that is ruled by Zionist interests.
3- Openly comply with the international law and the United Nations charter, and abandon threats of a military attack or regime-change against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
4- The United States administration is fully aware, in spite of all the superficial rhetoric, that Iran is not trying to weaponize its civilian nuclear projects. The nuclear issue, in addition to being hyped by the Zionist interests, is being used to harness Iran's potential to gain too much independence in its global economic relations, particularly with regard to its oil and gas trade and the possibility of breaking away from the almighty dollar. Reopening of economic relations with the United States would alleviate this concern, and better relations would create the rationale for lifting the suspicions that Iran might feel the need to develop a nuclear weapon arsenal for self-defense.
5- Since improved relations with the United States would help remove the anxiety over any radical behavior by the Israelis directed against Iran, the need for the Islamic Republic to invest money and risk its own self-interests by supporting groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas as thorns on the side of the Jewish state would also subside. That support or assistance might then be limited to non-weapons humanitarian and diplomatic nature.
6- If the relation between Iran and the United States is allowed to normalize, the Israeli regime could no longer use the phony Iranian threat to find safety and impunity under America's umbrella and continue its expansionistic transgressions and defiance of the international law. This might facilitate new approaches toward the resumption of the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, hopefully halting or limiting Israel's illegal settlement expansion and other violations of the Palestinians' rights. Unfortunately, the final fate of the Palestinian nation would have to await the implosion of the Jewish state under its own weight!
WILL THE TRUE OBAMA STAND UP PLEASE
The World is Waiting
February 14, 2013
I don't watch Saturday Night Live. It airs a bit too late for me, and I am not much into comedy and satire, anyway. But many people do, mostly the younger generation, the educated professionals who do have the cultural sophistication to actually appreciate satire the way it is presented in shows such as Saturday Night Live, John Stewart's The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report.When the Saturday Night Live sketches a political parody mocking the Senate Arms Services Committee's interrogation of Obama's Secretary of Defense nominee, Chuck Hagel, questioning his pro-Israel credentials, it is a ground-breaking, daring event. Even though the satirical sketch was not aired for obvious reasons, it did appear in full on Huffington Post and, as a consequence, on AOL. This was like an alarm bell or a wake-up call for a generation of Americans that is characteristically blasé about foreign affairs and more concerned with the issues of everyday life.
It was also a first, as far as I know, when something that one of the arch Zionists, Abraham Foxman of Anti Defamation League, regards as obscenely anti-Semitic, receives any publicity at all, albeit short-lived, in the mass media. Of course we need to know that, according to Mr. Foxman, any expression regarding Israel other than total veneration of the Jewish state and its policies constitutes anti-Semitism!
Another significant first in the American political domain was when the President nominated Chuck Hagel as his next Defense Secretary, a man who clearly, openly and unequivocally puts America's best interests above even those of America's closest friends and allies, real or, as is the case with Israel, mythical; and this is truly, and very sadly, a first. Whether the Republicans and the Zionist cabal in the US Senate manage to tire the old warrior by filibustering or creating more obstacles for him to hurdle, the handwriting has already appeared on the wall. I hope Mr. Hagel has the old stamina to weather through his inquisitors' barrage.
These are interesting times, and there are subtle signs that the tide is actually shifting. In President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address, a whole paragraph was devoted to Iran.
" And we will safeguard America's own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations."
In this year's address, the issue of Iran was summarized in one sentence: " Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon."; and this time there was no mention that all options, meaning a possible military strike, was to remain on the proverbial table.
Even more significant is the fact that in both last year's and this year's addresses the wording that the President had used as a warning to Iran entailed no more than a benign redundancy: "preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." Please note the major difference between the Zionist, and unfortunately also the Republicans, redline of Iran's capability to acquire nuclear weapons, and the President's choice of words, "getting a nuclear weapon".
The annual State of the Union speeches are among the most carefully drafted, even if they do not contain the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In George W. Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address, it wasn't a slip of the tongue when Bush lumped Iran with North Korea and Iraq as the Axis of Evil. I don't believe Dubya actually knew why the phrase was there or what ramifications it might have in his foreign policy decisions in the region. The speechwriter was the Zionist mole, the Canadian David Frum, who had interjected that phrase into the text.
In this year's Obama address, what I called a benign redundancy is, I believe, another well thought-out phrase, not by a crafty Zionist, and not a casual utterance by another Dubya, especially since the phrase is an exact copy of the phrase used in last year's address.
Why is it a benign redundancy?
There is absolutely no evidence that the intelligence agencies here, as well is in Israel, are wrong in their assessment that Iran is not in the process of developing a nuclear arsenal. The International Atomic Energy Agency has never even detected any sign that Iran is diverting any of its perfectly legal, under the NPT, enrichment activities toward weaponization. And, above all, Iran's supreme authority has issued a binding religious fatwa against the production of nuclear weapons. Iran's Foreign Minister, Salehi, has also offered to establish a secularized version of the fatwa as a constitutional amendment.
So, when Mr. Obama warns that the United Sates will take the necessary steps to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, he is not actually threatening or anticipating to take any action in that regard: No action would be necessary, since Iran is not "getting a nuclear weapon", anyway.
The President also said in his address, " leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution,..". More appropriately, however, Mr. Obama might have rephrased that statement and declared: "We should realize that it is time for a rapprochement with Iran in a serious effort to reach a diplomatic solution........." Of course, that would have been too much to expect in the current political atmosphere.
Instead, Vice President Biden had rather undiplomatically - not that unusual for him - suggested that he would welcome a direct dialogue with the Iranians, if the Iranian leaders were serious: "There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran's court." Emphasis added.
That kind of language was at best acrimonious or arrogant, and at worst begging for a harsh response from Tehran, which came promptly. The media here were anxiously waiting for the anticipated Iranian negative reaction to Joe Biden's offer for a direct dialogue and, by exaggerating and misrepresenting that reaction, made it appear as though the Iranian leadership was rejecting any chance for a meaningful dialogue out of hand.
The kind of dialogue the Iranian leadership is rejecting is the kind that does not fit the true definition of that word. Iran is not willing to bow under economic pressures or threats of regime change, admit defeat, capitulate and accept the terms dictated to it during a so-called dialogue. More than once have the Iranian leaders openly welcomed the prospects of a direct dialogue with the United States, but always with an emphasis on fairness and good will, rather than under more threats and pressure.
The Vice President is wrong in assuming that the Iranians are reaching their breaking point and would be ready and willing to throw in the towel in a dialogue "backed by pressure", as he put it. In foreign diplomacy, you enter into a dialogue only when resolving the points of contention through negotiations is preferable to the use of force; otherwise why even bother. That being the case, both sides must see it equally beneficial to settle their differences peacefully, and the point of emphasis here is the word, equally. As I have stated before on several occasions, if launching a military attack on Iran was deemed rightly or wrongly as in any way beneficial for the United States or Israel, it would have happened by now, with or without any concern for permissions or approvals or international law; we've seen that happen before; haven't we?
There is no mystery about what the costs of another military encounter, this time against Iran, might be to the United States and its allies in the region and worldwide. Iran knows that, and so does Israel, the real culprit behind all the saber rattling. It is high time now to acknowledge that fact and to start on a new path away from suspicion and hostility and toward mutually productive understanding and cooperation with Iran.
Iran's own presidential elections are coming up this summer. There will be plenty of reshuffling within the Iranian administration by then, which should signify the nature and attitude of the new government, and even the degree of real authority exercised by the Supreme Leader in Iran's foreign relations.
Establishing a new direction in American foreign policy as evidenced in Mr. Obama's cabinet nominations and hinted at in his State of the Union address, will also take some time. Chuck Hagel, should he actually be voted in within the next week, will need adequate time to prepare the grounds for any change in the trajectory of America's foreign policies, in close cooperation with John Kerry's State Department.
Any face-to-face dialogue between the United States and Iran, therefore, may take place sometime in late summer or early fall this year. All the loose talk about a dialogue at this time is totally premature and baseless. However, preparing for such a direct dialogue should begin as soon as possible.
One thing is for sure: the continuation of the unilateral economic sanctions and hostile rhetoric against the Islamic Republic is the surest way to avoid any diplomatic resolution to the points of contention in any potential direct dialogue between the United States and Iran.
Contrary to Vice President Biden's remarks that "the ball is in the government of Iran's court", it will be the Congress of the United States and its various committees and sub-committees that are stuffed with agents of special interest and the Zionist lobby and its tentacles, who will try to torpedo any attempt by the White House toward a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The ball is actually in the American court, and subject to being kicked back and forth as we are currently observing with regard to Chuck Hagel's nomination!
So, why is the President planning his first trip to Israel at this time? Perhaps it is to feed the beast and satiate its gluttonous appetite so that he can then concentrate on his own duties as America's Chief Executive.
Chuck Hagel's Confirmation Hearings
Poor Performance? Let's Wait and See!
February 4, 2013
I watched the entire eight-hours-long confirmation hearing of Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for the new Defense Secretary, at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. I watched it with disgust and delight at the same time.
Disgust is actually too mild an adjective to describe my feelings as many Committee members, mostly Republicans, as well as some Democrats, were pummeling Mr. Hagel and attempting to force him to capitulate to their relentless inquisitorial barrage. I wouldn't have felt so disgusted if these attack dogs were all honest, patriotic Americans sincerely concerned about Mr. Hagel's qualifications, track record and attitudes before endorsing or opposing his nomination.
One could be very honestly misguided, misinformed or simply stupid, and still manage to get elected to a high office; this happens more often than we'd like to believe where money and special interest influences rule supreme. But people like Lindsey Graham or John McCain are not stupid or misinformed, which might not be the case with Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, and some of the other agenda-driven inquisitors.
The charade, which is exactly what it was, couldn't have been better staged to expose the core problems at the highest levels of our government. Those who actually bothered to watch the process on television had a chance, perhaps for the first time ever, to observe what powers and motivations are at play that drive America's foreign policy in the direction it has been heading, i. e., counterproductive and potentially disastrous.
John McCain's own Vietnam war record speaks volumes about his attitude and confrontational stance against Chuck Hagel. McCain flew bombing missions over Vietnam, and was finally shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese and spent the rest of his time there in detention. His mission was to bomb, bomb, bomb, without any direct awareness of what exactly he was bomb, bomb, bombing or how it must have felt to be on the ground being bombed, bombed, bombed!
Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom, in the meantime, were on those grounds as infantrymen experiencing the horrors of combat firsthand. Chuck was awarded the Purple Heart twice, along with several other combat related honors. I wonder what was going on in Chuck Hagel's mind looking at the Senator from Arizona and recalling his dancing around like a cartoon character or Fiddler on the Roof and singing "bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran" a few years ago.
McCain was very persistent on two points: First, he wanted to know why Mr. Hagel had expressed the view that the "Surge" in Iraq had been a big mistake when, as McCain maintained, it was the pivotal event that had turned the tide in our favor in that war. His second problem with Chuck Hagel was the latter's lack of enthusiasm in getting more forcefully involved in Syria's civil war and enforcing a no-fly zone to help the rebellion against the regime.
McCain, perhaps believing that the United States was the winner in the Vietnam war, is also of the opinion that the "Surge" brought us the final "victory" in Iraq, notwithstanding the fact that hundreds are still dying daily, almost every single day, in that lawless land, and it is not clear what was "won" as the result of that "Surge". On Syria, this worn-out former warrior is again showing his recklessly irresponsible side by promoting an involvement in that fragmenting country without weighing all the pros and cons of that action. He is obviously figuring we should start bombing this and supporting that, and if those we have supported turn out to be the bad guys, well, we should bomb, bomb, bomb them, too!
Well, the former bomber pilot had no problem with such cavalier statements, not years ago when he was sitting in the pilot's seat and certainly not these days when one could bomb, bomb, bomb by remote control! Could we expect more from a former presidential hopeful whose running mate was the brave moose hunter and the pit-bull wearing lipstick, Sarah Palin?
When Lindsey Graham challenged Chuck Hagel to name anybody in the US Congress who was influenced or swayed by the Israel lobby, as Mr. Hagel had stated several years ago, I was hoping that Chuck Hagel would not stand up and point finger at the entire panel in front of him; and, thankfully, he did not. It took great courage on his part to swallow his pride and let that neoconservative attack dog humiliate him over and over again. He showed true courage, not the kind Mr. Graham takes pride in while he was serving as a non-combatant Judge Advocate and a reservist during the Gulf War: "In 1998, according to the Congressional daily newspaper The Hill, Graham was describing himself on his website as an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran. In reality, he never left South Carolina.", excerpted from Wikipedia.
Chuck Hagel certainly doesn't need the job of Defense Secretary; he has already served his country as a real soldier and a statesman. Accepting President Obama's nomination was a signal that the Administration is actually attempting to open new venues in addressing the global affairs. As several panelists at the hearings for Mr. Hagel's nomination stated, he seems to be outside the "mainstream" of American politics. He is, and that is exactly why he was nominated; about time, Mr. President!
Let us look at the "mainstream" thinking that has brought the United States to the current state of affairs. Mainstream thinking or attitude in the political domain implies what the public in general, and the public's representatives at the policy decision making levels in particular, believe and uphold. The principle relevant points of the "mainstream" beliefs that have to do with America's foreign policies, with focus on the Islamic world and particularly with the Middle East as brought up in the confirmation hearings are as follows:
1- America is in the unique position, and must act, as the guarantor of peace, freedom and democracy throughout the world, backed by its unchallengeable military and economic might.
2- Islam, and not just "Islamic extremism", the term often used for political correctness, is the core problem that must be confronted and dealt with to save the Western civilization as we know it.
3- The Islamic Republic of Iran poses the greatest threat to the security and interests of the United States, and is run by untrustworthy, irresponsible even suicidal zealots who'd even risk their own and their nation's security by launching nuclear attacks if they are allowed to develop the means to do so.
4- Israel is America's staunchest friend and ally, bearing the brunt of the anti-American and anti-West assaults by the Islamic enemies of the Western civilization. Israel, therefore, deserves all the support that, not just the United States, but the West as a whole, could extend to the Jewish state.
Whether the above points are correct, misperceived or are deliberate distortions, they define the "mainstream" attitudes that have been deeply engrained in the public mindset, creating powerful currents against which swimming will be very difficult indeed. But like a riptide, one must swim patiently parallel to the shore and not directly against the current in order to gradually reach safety.
During the course of the Senate Arms Services Committee interrogation of Chuck Hagel, the words Iran and Israel were repeated about 300 times! The inquisitors' attempt was clearly to gauge to what degree the nominee to head the Defense Department hated Iran and loved or was willing to be subservient to Israel; that's all! It was quite an experience watching the proceedings on TV, trying to refocus my attention to the fact that I was actually observing a committee of the United States Senate In Washington, DC, and not on the floor of the Knesset in Israel.
To be realistic, it goes without saying that every nation should be, and is, obligated to pursue its own best interests by adopting policies that serve that purpose. And it should be obvious that the pursuit of one nation's interests or advantages in the global domain often entails forming alliances with promoters of evil or creating animosities against forces of good, even defined in one's own terms. There are, and have always been, violations of one's highest moral, ethical and legal principles in the course of pursuing one's interests. Interests are more often on a collision course as one nation's objectives to serve its own interests requires denying another nation's legitimate self-interests. This is simply a fact of life.
However, in this natural and undeniable process, success is achieved only if the determination of a nation's best interests is based on objective and honest analyses, and the short-term gains are measured against longer-term advantages on a realistic balance sheet.
Those who believe that the policies of the United States toward the Islamic states in general, and the Middle East in particular, have promoted America's best image and interests, need read no further.
But if the engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now our looming involvements in North Africa and Syria, and even the more potentially catastrophic entanglement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, are viewed as anything but risking American prestige, credibility, global standing and even America's very security, then we'd better redress our policies before it is too late.
There is every indication that America's foreign policies are being aggressively and very carefully reexamined by President Obama. The nomination of Chuck Hagel as the new Defense Secretary, Vice President Joe Biden's less confrontational remarks, and John Kerry's position as the Secretary of State, seem to herald a measured departure from the so-called "mainstream" thinking that has been drawing the ship of state toward the whirlpool of disaster.
Could Mr. Hagel have responded to his venom spewing inquisitors any differently than he did? Of course he could. He could have allowed his sense of pride compel him to reaffirm his true positions and former statements, and let the chips fall where they may. He could also have allowed his ego to take over, telling them all to go to hell while walking out of the chamber.
Instead, he decided to tolerate the assaults, allowing himself to appear apologetic and even humiliated, and later to be criticized by the "mainstream" media as undeserving of the job due to his "poor performance".
Let's see what that "poor performance" actually accomplished:
1- It demonstrated to the general public, at least to that small pie-slice that was interested enough to care, the power and influence of the pro-Israel or better put, the Zionist lobby and its tentacles over the US Congress.
2- It clearly demonstrated President Obama's intentions to soften up the neoconservative-driven warmongering rhetoric in a new approach to foreign policies.
3- It showed how difficult it is going to be to steer away from the "mainstream" attitudes, as so dramatically demonstrated by the hawkish lawmakers in the Congress, aided and amplified by the "mainstream" media and packaged so cunningly for the consumption of a brainwashed public.
4- But, above all, Chuck Hagel's so-called "poor performance" at the confirmation hearings showed an honorable, brave patriot who willingly subjected himself to ruthless interrogation, and who chose to humble himself by appearing to retreat from his former beliefs and positions, rather than risk his nomination by responding to his detractors, as a man of less stature and stamina would do. Hagel is still a true soldier risking an awful lot to serve his country.
What remains to be seen is the ability of the US Administration during Obama's second and final term in office to implement policies that, clearly for the first time in recent memory, prioritize America's own present and future interests above all else.
YES, THE TIDE IS SHIFTING
January 8, 2013
Whether Chuck Hagel's nomination as the new Defense Secretary gets through the Senate confirmation process in spite of wholesale opposition by the Republicans and even some high profile Democratic Senators like Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin (both Jewish Zionists, of course), the fact that the President has chosen him is a strong enough signal that change is on the way in the Administration's foreign policies. After all, it is the President that makes the policies regardless of who is appointed as the front man.
So, the signal has been sent. And what's more, the objections against Hagel's nomination sounded off by hard-core neocons and, above all, by the Zionist cabal in the Congress and the media questioning his pro-Israel and anti-Iran credentials are equally significant. Significant, because by nominating Chuck Hagel, President Obama has masterfully put on public display the unhealthy, almost seditious, attitude of influence peddlers who are willing to put America's own national interests in jeopardy to serve their puppeteers.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Mr. Hagel apologize, tongue-in-cheek, of course, for his honest and true statements he had made a decade ago, that he was a United States Senator and not an Israeli Senator, or that jumping into another war in the Middle East (against Iran, this time) would not serve America's best interests, and that he would prefer direct, unconditional negotiations with the Iranians.
The American people, however, are witnessing for the first time perhaps what powers are, and have long been, at play to prevent their government from pursuing the best and the most logical course of action when it comes to formulating foreign policies in that hot spot on the globe.
Regardless of any apologies for his past positions, or reaffirmation of his commitment for an unconditional support for Israel or to maintain the pressure on the Iranian regime, the American people are smart enough to see the handwriting on the wall: a sea change is underway in Obama's second and final term in office as the President of these United States of America.
It is about time, Mr. President.
I would encourage the readers to long onto my website: intellectualdiscourse.com, scroll down and read the following articles:
IRAN, THE DESIGNATED ENEMY, BUT FOR HOW MUCH LONGER? July 7, 2012
WILL IT BE REAL FIRE THIS TIME? August 28, 2012
IS THE TIDE SHIFTING? ARE WE WITNESSING A SEA CHANGE IN US/IRAN RELATIONS? September 12, 2012
The Law of the Jungle
November 21, 2012
As a long-time commentator on foreign affairs, I do follow the news and world events, but mostly on the internet. I also watch television, but not to gain any objective knowledge of world events, as there ain't no such animal regardless of which satellite, cable or network channel you tune in. My television time is basically limited to watching repeated episodes of wildlife encounters and interactions and various nature programs.
You see, animals in the wild are honest. Their intentions and actions are driven by naturally evolved instincts and are exhibited sincerely and unabashedly. When hyenas storm a cheetah and steal its kill, they show absolutely no remorse and offer no apology for depriving the cat and its kittens of their food. The cheetah, in her turn, had no problem with her conscience when she killed that impala in order to feed herself and her kittens.
When a tribe of monkeys take over a section of the forest that happens to have fruit-bearing fig trees, killing or displacing its former residents in the process, no official complaints are filed with some Monkeys Tribal Council, and no reparations are paid to compensate for the losses to the dispossessed. The victorious tribe defends the usurped territory by any means at its disposal. And should the defeated monkey tribes attempt to reclaim their habitat, negotiations are out of the question, so is any peace treaty to live side by side and share in the fruits of nature. The law of the jungle dictates that might makes right!
Only a tiny bit of genetic variance separates the human animal from its next-of-kin in the animal world. We do exactly the same things, driven by the same natural impulses that motivate other species of life, except for one difference: we humans need to rationalize and justify whatever we do to serve our own interests. We have something that we refer to as conscience, which demands to be satisfied honestly - on rare occasions, or through hypocrisy and the creation of self-deluding narratives to legitimize our cause, which is most often the case.
Case in point is the current violence that has erupted between Israel and the strip of land called Gaza.
We are looking at an ongoing conflict of interests between the tenth most powerful military in the world, supported unequivocally by the world's most powerful empire, against the occupants of a tiny, overcrowded and destitute concentration camp equipped with homemade miniature missiles that do not always even carry any explosives!
This conflict has been ongoing for decades, ever since the victorious tribe of self-proclaimed "Chosen People" took over and displaced the hapless original inhabitants of the land called Palestine.
You see, the Chosen Ones even have a book of legends that tells about a similar episode dating back almost three thousand years. It tells about the God of the Chosen People sanctioning the original tribe to ravage, plunder and kill, man, woman and child, and take over other people's lands to establish their own kingdom. Their God had simply bestowed the entitlement to other people's ancestral lands to His own Chosen People! How nice!
Of course that self-legitimizing narrative was written centuries later, after the dismemberment of their short-lived glory. So, the Chosen Ones did establish their small kingdom, which lasted some 200 years, before it was taken over and dismantled by other marauding tribes who had mandates from their own gods, sometime around 2600 years ago.
Based on this ridiculous pseudo-historical narrative, the new marauders set claim to a fictitious ancient homeland, their so-called Promised Land, bypassing 26 centuries of other peoples' histories and cultural claims.
This is notwithstanding the fact that the newcomers' ancestral lands were located far away from the ancient Middle Eastern habitat of the Hebrew tribes; they came from somewhere east of the Urals, north of the Caspian Sea; they are the descendants of the Khazar people who gave their name to the sea we now know as the Caspian.
Well, it became a fait accompli and the United Nations admitted Israel as a charter member state in 1948, and thus set in motion a series of tragic events leading to the present state of affairs.
Naturally, the dispossessed, the oppressed and the powerless peoples that the occupiers began to force out of their ancestral habitats didn't like the treatment they were receiving. They lost their homes, their farms, their olive trees, so that the occupiers could make room for new crowds of strangers with unfamiliar habits, tongues and looks. I wonder how many light skinned blue eyed blondes can trace their ancestry to the Biblical Hebrews!
Actually, we should not refer to the lands that the occupiers have taken over as Israel: that's a misnomer. Israel refers to a land that Yahweh supposedly gave to His Chosen People, and which was lost in the currents of history some 26 centuries ago. What we have today should be called New-Khazaristan, governed by a Zionist, and not a true Jewish, regime.
However, if we strip all this "human" oriented paraphernalia from the bare facts, what is left is no more than another episode in the ongoing drama on the Animal Planet!
In the current episode, just like all the previous ones, the more powerful, backed by the most powerful, dictates the terms. Israel wants peace; of course it does, who wouldn't, when you are having your way and do not appreciate any resistance or violence from the other side?
When a pride of lions approaches a large group of Cape buffalo, the strategy is to panic the herd, scatter them and isolate a target, which they can jump on and bring down. Divide and conquer is the name of the game. Now if the buffaloes had evolved a sense of counterstrategy to circle around their herd with their massive horns pointing outward, no lion or lions could penetrate their defenses.
The Palestinian people have also been divided into different factions, some more pragmatically resilient and submissive, others more militant, driven by a sense of honor and principle, kind of Spartan-like, and intent on putting up a fight against their oppressors. They don't look to their Arab and Islamic brethren who'd rather remain as "moderate, friendly" savages in the eyes of their benefactors in the West, rather than go beyond paying lip service in support of their fellow Moslems or Arabs.
Instead, they receive support in many ways from Iran, a non Arab country with even a non orthodox Islamic tradition. But they know full well that this support is really not as much out of sympathy for their suffering as it is for Iran's own strategic interests to use them as a potential shield against Israel's expansionistic agendas. But they take all the help they can get, regardless.
Their democratically elected leadership and the party that most Palestinians regard as representative of their views and aspirations, Hamas, has been branded as a terrorist organization by the United States, on behest of Israel, of course. Again, no surprise. So, if a people rise up against overt barbarism by an occupier and, in the absence of anything else, resort to throwing rocks at the invaders' tanks, they are terrorists, because the oppressor is our ally. Yes, in reaction to being mowed over by Israeli tanks and bulldozers, they have adopted the old Sri Lankan Tamil tactic of blowing themselves up as human bombs to hurt their oppressors, as nothing else in their disposal at the time could do as much damage in exacting revenge.
Two questions beg to be asked: Of what benefit to the interests of the United States is the alliance with Israel; and, what has Hamas ever done to the United States to become listed as a terrorist organization?
The greatest majority in the global community if nations regard Israel as the biggest threat to peace and security, followed by the United States, which is a real shame. We here, of course, regard ourselves as the champions of peace and stability and wonder why the rest of the world doesn't see it that way. Could this "misperception" about us be the result of our blind support for the chief supporter of international terrorism, would you say?
The latest poll shows that about two thirds of the American public supports Israel in the current confrontation with the Palestinians, while only a tiny percentage support the Palestinians. From what sources, other than the mass media, do the American people get their information about this conflict? Who owns and controls our entire news and entertainment industries? How could our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, sent on an emergency mission to Israel, say anything publicly other than reaffirming America's total commitment and support for whatever Israeli regime decides to do? Have they all forgotten America's own War of Independence? Wasn't George Washington a dangerous terrorist in the eyes of the British?
Will time ever come when these uninvited European marauders return to and reclaim their true ancestral homelands in Eastern Europe, Ukraine an Southern Russia? Or, will we ever see a One State solution where the remaining Jews and Palestinians share equally in a democratic society with global blessings. Or, will the mirage of an elusive, and unwanted by either side, Two State solution gradually lead to the completion of the ethnic cleansing project, the Final Solution and the Securing of the Realm for the Zionist Entity?
You may want to log on to the underlined phrase above on the internet and see what I meant.
Sleazy Salesman vs. the Tongue-tied Incumbent
The Foreign Policy Debate Farce
October 30, 2012
For me personally, the national debt, health care, unemployment and other issues of high priority debated between Romney and Obama during the presidential campaigns, although of great concern, take the backseat to the direction that our foreign policy might take past this coming November.
The "rest of the world", meaning those unlike us, is generally viewed by most Americans, and that includes our illustrious representatives, as some alien domain where the "lesser others", some more friendly and obedient, but mostly uncivilized, fanatical savages in denial or envious of our greatness, are challenging our God-given right to rule over them with our unique sense of charity and magnanimity. It is truly a surprise to us, as voiced on numerous occasions by the Secretary of State and other officials, that we see no appreciation or gratitude for our efforts to liberate them and bring them into our fold where, soon if they follow instruction, they could learn to abide by our mandates and fall in line behind us, so that we won't have to continue to "lead from behind", to quote the hopeful Mitt Romney.
If you haven't seen the movie, Avatar, you don't know what you're missing.
James Cameron's fantasy about a military adventure on a distant moon, Pandora, was a cinematic marvel of special effects and a true thriller, wonderfully entertaining and memorable. Of course, you could walk out of the theater momentarily to go to the toilet or to buy a snack, or interrupt the movie if you were watching the video on your widescreen TV at home and see the rest of it at an opportune time. But what's been taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, and America's direct and indirect involvement in all that, is not some fantasy entertainment costing you less than twenty dollars and with the remote control in your hand so that you may watch it at your leisure.
People have suffered and died out there, Man; by the hundreds, thousands and millions, and continue to suffer and die. Believe it or not, these are real people not actors or computer generated figures, they bleed red blood the same color as ours, they grieve over their dead and shed real tears, and they also have hope for their futures and the fate of their children. And, as strange as it seems, they actually get pissed off at us when we interrupt their lives or cut off their access to the necessities of life, including medicines for their sick.
And we are so shocked that some of them object to our actions and even dare to threaten to defend themselves, like the wild animals they are, if we attack them. They are perhaps too stubbornly dense for not realizing that their resisting us or attempting to retaliate against our attack would constitute an act of terrorism in our books – our books, the only books that count!
Please click on the following link for further reading:
Mr. Romney, like most of us, feels it incredulous that there could be people and nations elsewhere in this world that do not acknowledge the truth of American Exceptionalism, or understand that we are ordained by the Almighty God, our God, to shape, guide and govern the destinies of peoples and nations. Some of them even declare that their god is as good as our God, and refuse to admit that our cause is always noble and just and divinely inspired.
For the Romneys of the world, the syllogism behind their reasoning is awe inspiring. It goes something like the following: I know that I am a righteous, moral and ethical person. Therefore, if you do not agree with me, you must by definition be amoral, unethical and evil. And, what must be done with evil is none other than extermination, should evil resist change and persist.
Had Mr. Romney not been the consummate salesman that he takes pride in being, it would be easy to brand him as a brainwashed, delusional politician catering to equally misinformed, delusional public. But he is a salesman, and a perfect example of one. He exaggerates, he distorts, he tells misleading half or partial truths as occasion dictates, and he doesn’t hesitate to straight-out lie with a smile to win a point.
I was not expecting to hear anything substantial, honest or meaningful from either candidate during their final debate, which was supposed to be on foreign policy. The issues of Libya, Egypt, Syria, China, and of course Israel and Iran did come up, bearing no details and quickly giving way to jobs and economy. All in all, this foreign policy debate proved to be a pathetic display of disinterest and an almost inhuman lack of compassion by a future leader of a superpower whose decisions could translate into life or death for millions of innocent people.
The so-called foreign policy debate, it must be understood, was to hunt for votes of the television audiences whose real interest in anything foreign, like foreign policy, would be far less than which celeb wore what dress in what party the night before going back to rehab!
For me, however, gaining some new perspective of how the American President might handle the troubles in the Middle East, and in particular, the Iran and Israel issues, was of vital importance.
I knew full well what the Republican candidate was going to say in that regard. The shifty-eyed salesman was expected to sell, and sell he did, to an audience that is programmed to be drawn to “sale” signs no matter how phony the claims might be. But why did the President not rise up to challenge him, embarrass him by refuting his baseless claims, and gain more credibility for himself at the same time? Why was he tongue-tied when it came to Iran and Israel; what was he afraid of? Jewish and Zionist money and influence, perhaps?
When the salesman called Iran the Number-One threat to America, he did not elaborate on such a vitally significant allegation which he had uttered as a statement of established fact. He even repeated his idiotic phrase that, due to the current administration’s inaction, Iran was now four years closer to having a nuclear weapon!
The President could have stopped the charlatan on his tracks by challenging him to elaborate on the specifics of his allegations. He could have pointed out that, not knowing where the end point, if any, might be, “four years closer” has no meaning. He did not even defend his own policy of avoiding a military conflict with Iran, based on all the intelligence available to us, and even to the Israelis, that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Instead, the tongue-tied Commander in Chief repeated the long discredited sound bite that Iran’s lame-duck President wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map. What a pitiful exhibition of cowardice, I almost shouted out loud. But could Mr. Obama exercise his true grit and lose, in the process, any chance to get reelected to his second term in our kind of democracy?
As expected, the adoration of America’s Sacred Cow, Israel, punctuated the entire segment of the debate that actually dealt with foreign policy. In every issue dealing with the Arab and the Islamic world, Israel’s interests, not America’s strategic and security concerns, were mentioned as the prime consideration. This long cherished passionate attachment that has permeated the nation’s consciousness encourages the salesman, Romney, to play the Israel card as often as he can, while discouraging Mr. Obama from attempting to say what he knows to be the truth or to take what he knows is the right course for America’s foreign policies in that turbulent region.
My hope is for Obama to have his second term as the President of the United States, even if by default, against the sleazy salesman. There is a good chance that, in his second and final term, Mr. Obama might actually earn the Nobel Peace Prize he was granted so prematurely before he even had a chance to prove his metal.
I guess I prefer a cautious coward over a bucket of sleaze at this juncture in time.
October 15, 2012
I left Iran in mid-August, a few weeks before the scheduled NAM (Non Aligned Movement) gathering of representatives from the 120 member states that form a new block demanding to be reckoned with on the global stage. The usual security measures were even tighter, almost a month before the event was to take place.
For a country that has been under severe security threats, cross-border infiltration by terrorist groups, saboteurs and Special Ops operatives active in sensitive strategic areas of the country, not to mention the assassinations of Iranian scientists in Tehran, no amount of security measures would seem too strict or too harsh. Yet, for the average citizen or visitor, scenes of "morality police" harassing pedestrians for their rather lax observance of the dress code, or for carrying a dog in their cars are, although rare, a more common occurrence than any "visible" enforcement of issues pertaining to real national security.
There is no doubt that security related monitoring is ongoing, as the televised accounts, in unprecedented detail, of the identification and arrest of terrorists who assassinated one of the nuclear scientists clearly revealed. The security system does and must have eyes and ears open at an increasingly higher states of awareness throughout the country.
Traveling in the rural central Iran, visiting old or abandoned, as well as active, mining districts that took me back to my own experiences many decades ago, our vehicle was stopped and briefly inspected by armed security officers who had suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes they were simply game wardens enforcing the no-hunting regulations in wildlife preserves areas. On occasion we also witnessed vehicles stopped by what seemed to be locally dispatched gendarmes, inquiring about the relationship between the male and female passengers in the car! That had obviously nothing to do with security.
In the "old" days, the poor, underpaid gendarme was granted de-facto license to steal chickens from farmhouses or to extort money by selling protection to hapless rural folks in order to subsidize his meager income and to actually survive; and everybody knew it and had accepted it. Today the practice continues in rural areas through the useless and meaningless enforcement of the so-called morality regulations. I thought it was quite ridiculous to see a small locally made "Pride" compact car stopped on a dirt road a few miles from the rural village of Khorheh (the name sounds almost exactly as the name Gorge does in Spanish! I have actually heard local stories about a foreign, Spanish perhaps, settler who had established homestead in that area centuries ago!) , where the two occupants were asked to show proof of their legal relationship. We intervened and a little bit of cash settled the issue!
I was also quite interested in hearing what the locals in cities and small towns and villages had to say about the changes in their lifestyles since I had talked with them during my previous visit a year ago. The economic and trade sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and some major European trading partners with Iran has resulted in shortages of many necessary commodities, from chicken feed to grains and legumes and even pharmaceutical products.
More people I talked to blamed Iran's own government, its policies and its economic mismanagement for the nation's problems, than they did economic and political pressures imposed or spearheaded by the United States.
One rather outspoken businessman put the blame squarely on the government's incompetence and mismanagement of the nation's economic policies. He was soon joined by several others at the small cafe in Esfahan where we had stopped for some tea and soft drinks.
I was somewhat surprised that my businessman friend was sounding off his criticism of the regime loudly enough to have attracted the attention of others in the diner, who had come over to our table to join in the conversation.
"Economic mismanagement by the regime, you say." I started. "Could you elaborate in a little more detail?"
"Let's start with all the oil money," he responded. "Where did it all go; those billions of dollars that they had promised would vitalize our economy?"
One of the newcomers joined in: "It's the corruption at the top, my friend, corruption, corruption! And, there, of course, is the Sepah and Basij (the irregulars and the militia, who are blamed for being the main beneficiaries, regardless of what economic gains or losses the nation incurs.)"
"So," I continued, "you believe that the problems facing the country is mainly the mismanagement of the economy, topped by rampant corruption at the top."
Another fellow, a younger man in very stylish blue jeans and wearing an expensive-looking pair of sunglasses, started: "That's not all. I think the main problem is our lack of direction in our relationships with the West, especially with America. They are pressuring us toward bankruptcy. Just compare our miserable status with the days before the Revolution when an Iranian travelling to any part of the world could hold his head high with pride. We are now regarded as backward, the lower caste, even terrorists in most places."
"Yes," I said, "many, if not most, Iranians you find in Europe or America don't like to call themselves Iranians, they are mostly "Persians!" It's as though it is a disgrace to be known as Iranians.
But, tell me, none of you has put the blame on the theocratic nature of the government; I didn't hear any criticism of the Islamicness or the religious aspects of the regime. Do you think that a less religious or a more secular government would have done any better with the affairs of the nation?"
My question dropped like a lead balloon! They began to look at each other, each hoping someone else would try to answer my question. Finally, the younger fellow, the same guy who had commented about the Iranians' image abroad, began: "Well, as I said, we were doing rather well before the Revolution. We had money in our pockets, money that meant something, a dollar was seven tomans then, not 1,700 or more these days. We were buying shares in some major international companies and even giving loans to some European countries to help them out!"
"Tell me," I asked, "how old are you, if I may ask?"
"I'm in my Fortieth year; why?"
"So, your recollections of life before the Revolution are all second-hand. I bet your folks were well-educated and also rather well to do. Am I right?"
"Yes. We used to own, actually my father still owns, one of the better carpet stores here. But the market is not as good as it used to be; the sanctions, you know."
"But, you all still manage somehow. I am sure you have travelled abroad."
"Oh, of course; several times, but not to America. It is very hard to get a visa to America; they refuse visas to people like us, you know, the terrorists! This is what I was talking about. Why are we being treated like that?"
I turned to the group of five sitting around our small coffee table: "What do you think must happen, or to put it more succinctly, what should the government do, or morph into, to improve the economic and social problems of the nation? I know we don't have enough time to open up a comprehensive discussion here. But I want to hear each of you come up with a very brief response to this question."
One of the older fellows, perhaps in his Fifties, put his tea cup down and, with a serious look on his face, asked me, "Pardon my rudeness, but allow me to ask you a question: We don't really know who you are and what you are doing here. You are obviously a visitor who hasn't been in Iran in a long time. So, I would personally like to know what the purpose of this session is, especially since I see you writing some notes and you have a small tape recorder here, too."
"You are correct; this is my second visit to Iran after the Revolution. My first visit after 32 years of absence was a year ago, and I wrote a book about that visit after returning to America. I am basically a writer and a political commentator now."
"You're not getting us into any trouble now, I hope!" He said with an uneasy smile.
"No, nothing like that. Don't forget, I didn't invite you guys over to our table; you invited yourselves to join our conversation.
But to answer your question, I have been, for perhaps 25 years or more, monitoring the news about Iran, talking to friend, relatives and colleagues who have travelled between Iran and America, and writing about Iran's situation and confrontational stance against the United States.
There are many critics of my views who claim that one must be in Iran and live the life that Iranians themselves live, in order to develop the correct perspective or the sense of the Iranian dilemma. I disagree with that. Yes, for someone who has never been to the Middle East, has no experience with Islam or Islamic cultures, and does not know the language, it would be almost impossible to extract all that is required to understand and analyze the intricacies or nuances of a people's world view and idiosyncrasies.
In my case, even though I left Iran right after the Revolution, Iran never left me, so to speak."
"So, why did you leave Iran in the first place; were you forced to leave like so many other educated and capable businessmen and scientists that the Islamic regime didn't want to have anything to do with, or were you a dissident "taghuty" fearing for your life?"
"There were other categories that you didn't enumerate: There were many hyper wealthy, especially the "nouveau riche" (taazeh beh dowran resideh), who had already stored fortunes in foreign banks, as well as those who had spent long years abroad, had married and raised their children there, and were actually dual citizens or residents. There were also some who had lost their good jobs or prestigious positions, well-deserved or not, and had to look elsewhere to try to restore the lifestyles they were used to. And, of course, there were some who faced persecution because of their religious or political views. You can go ahead and guess what my story has been!"
The younger fellow insisting on taking care of the bill for everyone as we parted with no answers to my last question.
A colleague who has been involved in mining operations at a major travertine quarry near the town of Mahallat, was having a very hard time managing his rather extensive operations. His problem: No cash at hand!
The construction industries have slowed down throughout the country, going back to the global crash of the housing market, which even affected areas far away from the centers of housing bubble burst in the United States and Europe. The result was an oversupply of construction materials at factories and warehouses, which had gradually reduced the demand for suppliers such as the construction stone quarries.
The quarry owners and operators had to continue to carry the burden of heavy installment payments for the very hard to find heavy equipment, plus the salaries for, again, the very hard to locate experienced quarry workers, while operating at less than half capacity, waiting for the economic tide to shift.
The stone-cutting and finishing plants would only give the quarry owners post-dated checks for the dwindling quantities of travertine or limestone blocks they'd agree to purchase. They also had a good excuse for that. They were also faced with post-dated checks from construction companies and contractors who purchased their products. And, the contractors were also trapped in the same vicious circle; the property developers were short of cash, as well, and could only pay for the materials and services by post-dated checks!
Those with good credit or substantial collaterals could sell their post-dated checks at various discount rates to investment groups or individuals, and raise the cash necessary to keep the work force adequately fed.
My colleague actually believed that the dilemma he and others like him were facing was a problem specific to Iran and the country's economic ills. He was surprised to hear what I told him about a similar situation in Southern California, which is in many minds the actual paradise on earth.
My two nephews are both experienced licensed contractors in California and were doing rather well until the bubble burst. For several years now, they have had to become sub-contractors in order to tap into what little remains of the construction business, employed by more prominent contractors. They now have to accept sporadic and odd jobs anywhere they can find work. They also have to hire crews and buy supplies for the work they do. The post-dated check game (actually illegal in the US) is converted to promissory notes or even verbal IOUs. So, they have to borrow money to pay their crews, as they need food to eat and IOU noted are not edible! The big contractors claim that they are owed money by the construction company, who is in turn owed money by X, Y or Z; and the vicious circle goes round and round.
This colleague turned to me and asked what I believed was going to happen in Iran in the near term.
I had no intention of pontificating on that subject. I told him if he wanted to know about my personal views and analyses of the subject, he should get to my web site and do a little reading. He asked if my writings were in Farsi, as he wouldn't be able to read English. "No," I said; "find somebody to translate it for you."
I tried several times to have somebody, anybody, to offer some suggestions, some workable solutions, as to what they thought the government should do or what changes were needed to put the nation back on the right tracks.
Oh, many had great ideas, mostly kneejerk reactions out of anger and frustration, in a hurry to offer their draconian suggestions without a second thought.
But quite frankly, even the more "reasonable" sounding or the more sophisticated suggestions couldn't stand to scrutiny once their potential consequences were brought up. In every instance, I resorted to the perfect example or case study of the traffic mayhem in big cities, especially Tehran. I asked the more eager respondents to first offer suggestions to untie the Gordian Knot of Tehran's traffic mess before offering remedies to the much more complex national ills. The results were ranging from hilarious to ridiculous!
In response to a list of questions I had prepared in advance, I had much better luck.
I am dividing the respondents into two very general groups: those I deemed to be the better educated professionals, and those whom I considered the average folks, the proletariat, so to speak. Both groups consisted of adult men and women, urbanites, as well as rural people. Without claiming any statistical accuracy in my findings, the following are the generalized results of my findings:
Question: How important is your religious orientation in your everyday life?
Group a- Somewhat, but not very much.
Group b- It is our faith that is holding us together.
Q: Do you consider yourself an Iranian first and a Moslem second, or a Moslem first?
Q: Would you like the country to return to the pre-Revolution days?
a-Not really; but sometimes, when things look desperate, we wonder!
Q: Would you prefer a secular regime over the current theocracy?
a-Yes. And, it is going to happen. It is an outdated formula.
b-Not if it does away with religion altogether.
Q: Would you like to see a more secular government based on religious values?
a-It depends on how religious. Mullahs should run the mosques, not the country!
b-Yes. Islam should not be taken out of our lives.
Q: How are the imposed foreign economic sanctions affecting your lives?
a-Noticeably, but not that much. Some important things are becoming unaffordable, even though they are locally produced. That should stop. Imported goods - we could do without.
b-We are doing OK.
Q: Do you think the government should submit to foreign demands and stop all nuclear developments?
a-Absolutely not; it is our right and we won't give up that right.
Q: Do you think America and Israel are correct in suspecting Iran's nuclear intentions?
a-They are after our oil; they want us defenseless in case they or their surrogates attack us.
b-Let them go to Hell! We suspect their intentions, too.
Q: Would you like Iran to have good relations with America, Europe and even Israel?
a-America, yes; Europe, perhaps, Israel, no.
b-America and Europe, it depends on how they behave. The Zionist state, never.
Q: What is it about Israel that troubles you the most?
a-Their control over America's policies that is the main cause of our problems with America.
b-They should be driven back to where they came from. They don't belong where they're planted.
Q: What would happen, and what would you do, if America and Israel attacked Iran?
a-They would end up paying a very heavy price. They cannot expect us to die lying down.
b-We will do what we did when Saddam attacked us with their help.
Q: Do you believe that the Westerners misunderstand Iran and the Iranians?
a-Yes; it is mostly our own fault by projecting the wrong image of ourselves, and also because of the negative propaganda by our enemies in the West.
b-We really don't give a damn! We are not going to paint ourselves in colors that they'd prefer!
Q: How would you rate Mr. Ahmadinejad as Iran's President for seven years now?
a-People who like him, even love him, are generally clueless about the nation's economic and social problems. Perhaps he did all he could. Fortunately he cannot run again for that job.
b-He was a good President earlier on, but he seems to be losing control as of late. We would vote for him again if he could have a third term.
Q: When and how do you think democratic reforms might take place in Iran?
a-As soon as threats, pressures and sanctions against our country stop. Maybe that's why our own regime is doing everything to keep these pressures going!
b-What do you mean by democracy?
The last question and the answers given were, to me, very telling of the general attitude of people no matter where I happened to be in the three months that I was there.
I am hoping I can make another pilgrimage to the former homeland sometime next year, after the US presidential elections, hoping to see what changes I might observe. My predictions, as I have written in my articles and appearing in my web site: intellectualdiscourse.com, are regarded by many colleagues as overly optimistic. Be that as it may, I am actually counting on my prognostications and hope to be back in a more prosperous and re-energized Iran for another visit by next spring.
THE BUSINESS MODEL OF OUR POLITICAL CHARADE
October 12, 2012
Hyped to the hilt, the VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan proved, to me at least, no more substantive than the average political stage show, full of so-called "facts" based on cavalier assumptions, primarily on Mr. Ryan's part.
My primary interest in watching the debate, as was the case in the presidential debate a week ago, was with regards to foreign policy issues, primarily with respect to Iran.
I did not expect to hear anything from Paul Ryan beside uninformed exaggerations and classic scare tactics aimed at an equally uninformed or misinformed general public.
The following are excerpts from the debate regarding Iran, with emphasis by me:
Moderator, Raddatz: Let’s move to Iran. ...there’s really no bigger national security…
Raddatz: … this country is facing.
Ryan: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability........ They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability........They’re stepping up their terrorist attacks. They tried a terrorist attack in the United States last year when they tried to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Biden: These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period. Period. What are you — you’re going to go to war? Is that what you want to do?.............Israelis and the United States, our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close — how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs.....There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know — we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon............So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk, what are they talking about? We will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon....
Ryan: Let’s look at this from the view of the ayatollahs. What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. They’re spinning the centrifuges faster.
Raddatz: You both saw Benjamin Netanyahu hold up that picture of a bomb with a red line and talking about the red line being in spring. So can you solve this, if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, can you solve this in two months before spring and avoid nuclear — nuclear…
Ryan: We can debate the time line, whether there’s — it’s that short a time or longer. I agree that it’s probably longer.
Biden: The ayatollah sees his economy being crippled. The ayatollah sees that there are 50 percent fewer exports of oil. He sees the currency going into the tank. He sees the economy going into freefall. And he sees the world for the first time totally united in opposition to him getting a nuclear weapon.......What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon. They don’t have a weapon to put it into.........................I don’t know what world this guy’s [Ryan] living in.
Ryan: They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapon. I think that case speaks for itself.
Biden: … they are not four years closer to a nuclear weapon.
Ryan: Of course they are.
Biden: They’re — they’re closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon. ........ But facts matter, Martha. You’re a foreign policy expert. Facts matter. All this loose talk about them, “All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon,” not true. Not true.
Raddatz: What about Bob Gates’ statement? Let me read that again, “could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.”
Biden: He is right. It could prove catastrophic, if we didn’t do it with precision.
Ryan: And what it does is it undermines our credibility by backing up the point when we make it that all options are on the table. That’s the point. The ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think, “I’m going to get a nuclear weapon.”
Raddatz: Well, let me ask you what’s worse, war in the Middle East, another war in the Middle East, or a nuclear-armed Iran?
Ryan: A nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism. They’ve dedicated themselves…to wiping an entire country off the map. They call us the Great Satan. And if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons, as well.
Biden: War should always be the absolute last resort. That’s why these crippling sanctions, which Bibi Netanyahu says we should continue, which — if I’m not mistaken — Governor Romney says we — we should continue. I may be mistaken. He changes his mind so often, I could be wrong.
The hardest part for me to maintain my focus on the TV screen was the very thought, however unlikely-I hope, of the adolescent-looking, caricature of a used-car salesman, Paul Ryan, having the potential of becoming, heaven forbid, the President of the most powerful empire on earth. In my book, he is either innocently clueless in world affairs, like his constituency that had elected him to Congress, or he is, like Mitt Romney, an overambitious political zealot who won't shy away from lies and other deceptive tactics to succeed. Do you ever wonder why all price tags on merchandise, from toothpicks to gasoline end with .95 or .99 after the dollar amounts? It's good business; fool the public into buying your goods! A good "businessman" knows all the tricks of the trade, and Mr. Romney prides himself of being a good businessman! Well, doesn’t he?
There is an advertiser that is marketing facsimiles of an old gold coin that was originally minted in pure gold and now a collectors' item worth a lot of money. After going to some detail about the rising price of gold and its current market value, the charlatan is boasting that the facsimile is clad in 17 milligrams of 99.9999 percent pure gold, repeating, 99.9999 percent pure gold. And to make it more desirable as a hard to get item, only a limited number of these coins can be sold to each household, at something like $5 a piece.
They count on the ignorance of the bovine public that cannot understand the meaning of 17 milligrams of 99.9999% pure gold at over $1,750 per ounce. Well, each milligram is worth less than 6 pennies today. So, the nickel-size electroplated coins that cost the manufacturer roughly a dollar each is being offered to the hapless buyer at five times its cost of production! This item of very little value even comes with a certificate of authenticity that it is a thinly god-plated fake! Of course the cost of media advertising and promoting this production must be horrendous, but quite obviously worth the profits - the bottom line.
Just look at the parallels between this perfectly legal scheme of public deception and politicians' games in debating vital issues affecting the destiny of the nation.
Truths are cunningly hidden in between layers of misleading and deceptive phrases to confuse the audiences. Half truths, exaggerations and straight out lies parade dressed in colorfully deceptive words to convince the unwary. Allegations and hypotheticals are stated as undisputable facts, counting on the blindfolded and pre-indoctrinated public sentiments to accept them as truths.
The political salesmen, of whom Mr. Romney and his young sidekick, Paul Ryan, are excellent examples, are counting on the long-running demonized image of the Islamic Republic of Iran to sell their tough, very superficially patriotic, and quite amateurish rhetoric on how to stop Iran's nuclear "ambitions."
Even Martha Raddatz, the moderator of the vice presidential debates, opened the discussion on Iran by commenting that Iran posed the greatest national security for the United States, with a straight face and as an indisputable fact. Now, she is a senior foreign policy specialist, no less! Yet, she didn't say, for example, that Iran is allegedly regarded these days as the greatest foreign policy challenge for the United States; a statement that is both correct and journalistically sound. Why didn't she?
I think the answer is easy: Having phrased her statement correctly would have disqualified her from ever appearing again on any talk show as a venerable expert. Her articles would no longer appear in print and her books could only be self-published, as are mine!
Something was very surprisingly absent from the post presidential and vice presidential debates' media commentaries regarding Iran's nuclear issues. What has more than likely deliberately been omitted is the staggeringly significant difference between the two phrases, acquiring nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons capability.
The Israeli government, its lobby and its surrogates in the United States congress have insisted on drawing the red line for initiating a military attack on Iran (by the United States, of course) at the point where Iran gains the capability of acquiring a nuclear weapon. Capability could mean anything, from the scientific knowhow to the availability of the needed raw materials, to having procured sufficient bomb grade enriched materials, to having the desire to put all that to use in order to create a workable bomb, and last but not least, to having the permission or orders by the regime to make such a weapon. It could also mean having the resources or money to purchase a bomb from North Korea or Pakistan, again with proper orders from the leadership.
It is, therefore, a meaningless, ambiguous and arbitrary "red line" that is very dangerously susceptible to interpretation by opportunistic zealots and diehard Zionist neocons, threatening to oblige the United States to enter into yet another bottomless and disastrous quagmire.
Why do I say threatening to oblige…? I’ll get to that point further down.
During the presidential and the vice presidential debates, both Romney and Ryan used the phrase, capability to obtain nuclear weapons, while both Obama and Biden insisted that they would not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, without using the word, capability. The media pundits continue to interpret both statements to mean that, with regard to Iran’s nuclear issue, both the Republican and Democrat candidates are on the same page. They couldn’t be more wrong.
If the ability of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon were a real concern, that capability has been there for some time; no need to wait for that ambiguous red line to be crossed!
Another point of ambiguity in Romney/Ryan formula is, again, the meaningless and plain-stupid remark that Iran is now four years closer to making the bomb than it was four years ago! Well, when we do not know the timeline of bomb-making capability, whether it might be 5, 15, or 50 years away, of what mathematical or practical value is such an asinine statement? Yes, if you walk ten paces, you are that much closer to reaching some destination. It could be your next-door neighbor’s house in Los Angeles, it could be New York City, or it could be the moon, for Christ’s sake!
That is exactly why the Obama administration, advised by the top military brass and all our intelligence services, has refused to accept such a red line, even though the Congress has approved the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act , drafted by our Zionist neocons, stipulating such action.
Now to why I chose the phrase, threatening to oblige the United States to enter into yet another bottomless and disastrous quagmire.
I have, and shall continue to, regard the Israeli regime as the world’s chief perpetrator and supporter of terrorism and the biggest threat to international peace and security. I have called its relationship with the United States a parasitic symbiosis, like a tumor that has metastasized throughout the host’s vital organs, from financial institutions to the mass media and entertainment industries and to the body politics, that any attempts to remove it might well jeopardize the host’s own life. Extricating this “passionate” attachment might take time, patience and great patriotic deliberation for the sake of America’s own national interests.
All that said, I neither blame the Israeli leaders for doing whatever they could for the sake of their own nation’s “perceived” interests, regardless of what others have had to suffer for their benefit, nor do I believe they are a bunch of delusional morons who don’t know what they’re doing.
I, therefore, do not believe that Israel would benefit in any conceivable way by attacking Iran or causing the United States to strike at Iran militarily. If there were benefits for Israel in launching a preemptive assault on Iranian targets, they would have done so long before this, with or without American approval or support.
However, threatening to attack Iran, something that would definitely drag the United States into the ensuing chaos, accomplishes Israel’s real objectives so well that would alleviate a dangerous encounter in an actual war.
In America, it is the public that has to be convinced in order for the nation’s legislating body to function, to allow, in turn, the executive branch to carry out its obligations. And the public is duly convinced, and has been for quite some time, of the image of Israel as some friend and indispensable ally of the United States, surrounded by ruthless barbaric enemies who also hate America as they hate the noble, civilized Jewish people, and that America is not only honor bound to support and shelter it, but should do so for America’s own national security and self-interests against that common evil.
This way, to avoid being dragged into an unwanted new war in the savage Middle East, a war potentially many times bigger than that in Iraq and Afghanistan, It serves America’s interests best to give Israel all that it truly demands; money, arms, advantageous treaties, diplomatic shelter and political support against global condemnations and pressures to accommodate the Palestinians, and not allow any peace negotiations, however superficial, to prevent the expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian lands in defiance of the International Law, etc., etc.
Israel has the American public in its back and the US Congress in its pocket, with the White House held under the Damocles’ Sword! They insist on keeping it that way!
THE THEATRICS AT THE UN STAGE
September 27, 2012
Even though there was a lot on my plate as far as the high-intensity hype regarding Iran to comment about, I had to wait until after President Ahmadinejad's UN address, followed the next day by Netanyahu, to start this article.
Before his UN appearance, Mr. Ahmadinejad had appeared for a few interviews, including with Piers Morgan on CNN, and Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell on CBS. He was rather aggressively interrogated by the hosts in attempts to put him on the defensive; a typical media strategy aimed against the Iranian leader, something that they would never dare do with the corporate media darling, Mr. Netanyahu. Much to the obvious shock and disappointment of the "inquisitors", Mr. Ahmadinejad did not react furiously as anticipated but, instead, responded calmly and definitively. I was actually surprised at his cool demeanor.
He was asked about his views regarding a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. He said, referring to Israel's decision makers as Zionists: "The Zionists are very, very adventuresome, seeking to fabricate things, and I think they see themselves at the end of the line and I do firmly believe that they seek to create new opportunities for themselves and their adventurous behaviors."
CBS "This Morning" co-hosts Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose asked the Iranian President to comment on his unending hostile rhetoric regarding Israel. Before he finished his response by saying: "Can one country [Israel] decide, based only on their own private opinion, and establish a red line for another country and then threaten attacks? When have we threatened to attack the Zionists? We have never threatened them.." Charlie hurriedly interrupted him by jumping almost out of his seat, repeating the same old accusation against Ahmadinejad for "wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the map."
Ahmadinejad was clearly anticipating that comment, when he gently shook his head and mumbled, "Here we go again", before responding:"Let me explain ... We say that occupation should be done away with. War-like behavior should be done away with. Terrorism should be done away with. The killing of women and children should be done away with. Has the Zionist regime done anything other than this during the last 65 years? No, they haven't." [Emphasis mine.]
Well, I watched Ahmadinejad's United Nations address live, and downloaded the full text of his speech in Farsi as well as its official translation in English for comparison and evaluation: The translated text was excellent! There was only one small glitch: When Ahmadinejad commented that the "uncivilized Zionists" threaten to attack Iran, the word he had used in Farsi was bih-farhang, which actually means uncultured. Of course, he could have used the word bih-tamadon, which literally means uncivilized.
Either way, I think Mr. Ahmadinejad was actually wrong about what he believes civilized behavior in today's world is. Whether we talk about human culture or civilization, we are actually referring to an ever changing and evolving condition that, as used by itself without a modifier, characterizes the general state of human societies at any given time.
Self-serving, aggressive and merciless behavior is now the norm, rather than the exception, among all so-called great civilizations of today's world. So, the Zionists' behavior is actually quite "civilized" based on today's terminology. They actually claim "modernity" versus medievalism when they compare themselves with the "lower" classes of mankind. They constantly proclaim their ethos that they value life over death, as compared to the Islamic societies, without clarifying that claim to actually mean they prefer their own lives at the expense of everybody else's deaths! And, of course, the Zionists' version of peace is peace only in their own terms. So what's unusual or "uncivilized" about that, Mr. Ahmadinejad?
In listening to or reading his speech, I couldn't find anything in President Ahmadinejad's address that wouldn't stand to scrutiny. His talk was very general and wide-reaching in scope, greatly idealized and with a utopian vision of how things should be. He condemned the rampant domination and exploitation of the globe by a few centers of power, and condoned peace, fairness and equality among all mankind. Well, Dalai Lama or Jimmy Carter could have said the same things; that's not a goose laying a golden egg! Or, as the Farsi expression goes, a chicken that just laid a double-yoked egg.
He also talked about the need for restructuring the United Nations and the Security Council to make this world forum a better functioning body at the service of all mankind instead of yet another tool for superpower manipulations.
In short, I couldn't find anything in Ahmadinejad's unusually "civil" delivery that I could criticize, perhaps with one exception: I couldn't understand his condemnation of "superstitions" as a negative force while invoking the intervention of Jesus Christ the Messiah, and Imam Mahdi, to save the world, hand-in-hand, from chaos. Perhaps the word superstition was used to refer to certain evangelical Zionists who have been advocating anti-Islamic sentiments or worse, an attack on Iran in support of Israel, in order to fulfill some vague and creatively interpreted Biblical prophesies!
I also watched live broadcast of the Israeli PM, Netanyahu on Thursday, almost certain that all the prediction that Bibi couldn't be held back from demanding the world powers (meaning the United States) to set a definite Red-Line against Iran's nuclear developments, at which time military options would be exercised, would prove wrong. I was right! He did not.
Unlike Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu did not dwell on vague, unachievable utopian dreams. His statements and claims were absolutely definitive and forcefully delivered, always followed by ovations and applause. I really think there should be some kind of an Oscar or similar award given to character actors who can so convincingly engage in historical fabrications, lies and false claims and accusations as does this man. He is a master of Chutzpa! He lies and fabricates with bravado, while everyone, friend and foe alike, knows he is a habitual liar.
He said a lot of untruths about history, and lied shamelessly about the Palestinians and the peace process. But his artistry in deception truly took the center stage when he began talking about Iran.
Without doubt, everyone was fully expecting the Israeli Prime Minister to accuse Iran of all kinds of evil doings as the Number-One promoter and supporter on international terrorism, etc. And, as he has done routinely, he calls Iran a definite threat to, not just Israel, but Europe and even the United States. Now, he warned, imagine this global demon armed with nuclear weapons!
That was all expected of the Israeli leader, ad he delivered. But what many expected and did not hear was call for military action against the Islamic Republic, contingent on Iran crossing a definite red-line. That definite red-line was, as had been proposed many times before and even passed by our House and Senate Resolutions before their recent recess, Iran's acquiring the capability of making an atomic weapon.
Remember President Obama's repeated warnings that the United States would keep all options open to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, rather than acquiring the capability of doing so. He said so again in his address at the UN on Monday. Obama, as I have mentioned several times in my previous writings, knows that Iran is not developing a nuclear arsenal, even though the Iranians are undoubtedly already capable of doing so, and have been for a while. So, Mr. Obama's warnings are definitely not pointing to a belief on American Administration's part that a war against Iran is in the books. And the Israelis are also aware of all that. This is like saying that the United States would attack Iran if the Ayatollah jumps over the moon: He knows that won't happen! So, even though Mr. Obama's declarations against Iran's nuclear activities sound ominous, they are no more than politically necessary, but effectively harmless threats.
Now, almost convinced that the Democratic party will come on top in November presidential elections, the Israelis know that they have to deal with Mr. Obama for another four years. Having received ample assurances from the Administration that their privileged status will not only remain safeguarded, but even enhanced, the Netanyahu government must now back off from its cry-wolf scare tactics and cool off a bit.
Netanyahu did that to an acceptable extent in his UN address. But to not be accused of being bullied by his chief benefactor for not pushing for a dangerously whimsical red-line, i. e. Iran's reaching the capability of making the bomb, he came up with a comedy routine not that dissimilar to the pathetically embarrassing display exhibited by Collin Powel about Saddam Hussein's WMD projects.
Netanyahu produced a graphic display showing a line diagram of a round bomb almost in the shape of a pomegranate. There was a horizontal line nearly two-thirds of the way up in it that was marked "70%". Right under the neck of the pomegranate was another horizontal line marked "90%".
At first I thought the numbers 70 and 90 indicated the degrees of enrichment of uranium that was reaching bomb-grade percentages: but that was not what the diagram meant. He said that once we reach the 90% line we enter the zone (in the neck of the pomegranate) where all that is needed would be a detonator to set off the nuclear bomb. He pulled out his large Magic Marker and drew a red line there, meaning that that's where the red line should be.
So, his worry was 1- Where are we now as far as reaching the point where enough highly enriched uranium has been produces to become a bomb, should a detonator be ready to activate the explosion? And, 2- Where is the detonator and at what stage is its completion? He didn't elaborate on what his own assessment was in those regards!
If that was not confusing enough, he said that making enough weapon's grade enriched uranium might take many, many years, and the process could be carried out in many, many places, and we can actually see all such locations. But the trigger mechanism or the detonator is a small device that could be manufactured in a small classroom-size place. And, Iran being a very vast country, there is no way to know where exactly such a device might be under development.
In other words, he didn't know where on his pomegranate sketch he would draw the line that would indicate how close, he believed, Iran was to producing weapon's grade enriched uranium; is Iran 30% there, or 70%, 90%, or almost there? And, without the detonator, as he stated, the bomb is really not a bomb.
So, I wondered out loud, "where the hell is your so-called red-line, Mr. Prime Minister? Isn't it a fact that your barking and chest-thumping has once again been for show, your time-tested theatrical routine you have employed for intimidation and extortion of the gullible American public, Mr. Netanyahu?
I am more convinced than ever before that attacking Iran by Israel and/or the United States is not in the books, as such an action would serve nobody's interests and would, if some crazy accident or stupid action does trigger it, result in untold damage to the entire region and most of all to Israel.
VIDEO RIOTS, THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH,
OR, IS THERE MORE TO IT?
September 13, 2012
There are clearly two dimensions to the events that are currently unfolding in the Islamic world, triggered by the freelance video production, Innocence of Muslims, which is a deliberate insult to Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam.
ONE: THE EVENT.
For us in the Western world no amount of reasoning or rationalization could possibly show any justification for the violent mob reactions that led to the killing of the American ambassador and three others, as well as ten Libyan guards, in Benghazi, Libya, the night of September 11.
In the first place, the United States government did not sanction and was not even aware of the production of this hate video. As the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said the morning of September 13, in clear staccato fashion so everyone across the Islamic world could understand, the United States had nothing to do with it and condemns that kind of insult to a great religion. In other words, she wanted all in the Islamic world to understand that America should not be blamed or be held responsible for actions of individual elements who are guaranteed, under the Constitution, the right of free expression.
Don't we all wish that the peoples and nations of this small planet all believed and upheld the same principles and values so that we could all live in peace and harmony together and could settle our differences under the same universal laws? A less hypocritical premise would have us wish that all peoples and nations of the world believed and upheld our principles and values...... The problem is, other peoples and nations feel the same way about the primacy of their principles and values.
Are there truly certain universals that all peoples and nations would categorically agree upon? Let us forget for a moment the freedom of free speech or the right to same-sex marriage; what could possibly be fundamentally and universally more important than the sanctity of innocent human life? Isn't this something that all human beings from whatever walk of life or culture would agree upon? Now let us look at how this simple universal is being, and has been, tre