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February 02, 2006

The War That Need Not Be
Babak Seradjeh  [info|posts]

bomb.gif The foreign policy section of the state of the union speech was expected to focus on Iran, as it did. At about the same time, the five permanent members of the security council agreed on referring Iran's nuclear irregularities to the UN after a two-year-long round of talks between Iran and the three European powers collapsed as Ahmadinejad was assuming his position as the new president of the Islamic Republic. The big turn was the coming on board of Russia and China on whom Iran's foreign policy seemed to count to vote on its side in return for trade and oil deals. Iran's position seems very fragile. With American troops on both east and west side of the country, the Iranian government's only winning card might prove one that is farther removed from its borders—Hamas.

As the events are unfolding in the region, with Sharon gone and his Kadima party left unformed, with Hamas taking power without showing signs of changing attitudes, and with Syria cornered and Iran under pressure, there will surely rise a new alliance. In fact the itineraries of the three men in charge, Khalid Mashal, Bashar Asad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad show clear signs of the new triangle. As Mr. Ahmadinejad gains notoriety with his anti-Holocaust series and moves rapidly to break with the world on his government's nuclear plans, and instead forms a new and true axis with the known trouble-makers in the region, these developments seem to indicate that the world is converging on a point of conflict centered at Iran.

This is a very frightening perspective. An attack on Iran, on any scale, is sure to cause havoc in the region. This is only partly because the armed forces of the Islamic Republic are numerous, parallel, and fed with an ideology that holds human life only as an expendable good in the path to heaven. After all, even in its current situation the US still has the might to win the battles if she commits to it. It is mainly because after the battles of war are won, the peace can hardly be managed in a way that would sustain itself. The reasons for this, besides an expected poor performance of the Americans and a hesitant international commuinty or the UN as evidenced in Iraq, should be found in the region itself. In short, I believe, the terrorists who would be put on the defensive by a military action, cannot be successfully beaten by the attacking armies and, most importantly, the people. That could lead to a prolonged civil war with an unknown and mounting number of casualties. Even if you disagree and think that the people have that ability, then you should agree with me that there is a better way that we should use it to beat the terrorists, which does not include a war of guns, at least in the outset.

The fact is, my Iranian compatriots and I cannot count on the foreign powers to act as our benevolent protectors. After all, they are justifiably after their own interests as they see them. If they see it in their interest to launch a military attack, limited or all-out, they will rationally do so even if it brings misery to our people. The solution is here with us; or to be more precise, in us. Instead of betting our lives on actions from outside, though that will help too, we must start now to clean up our own house. This will demonstrate our demand for freedom, and should prompt the West to invest the money they may be going to spend on a military action, on supporting the true fighters for freedom in Iran, and get their return in a healthy, mutually respectful relationship with a free and democratic Iran that will form after the fight is won. This is where we have a largely overlapping common interest with the free world.

I am not suggesting we should work for yet another revolution, although I do not reject it either if that's the way to go. At the moment, however, I believe our way to freedom is through a continued and determined civil disobedience movement aimed at changing exactly what is keeping us back: the undemocratic power structure of the current system and the constitution that goes with it. The bus drivers' recent strikes are but an example. There are many occasions to shape and bolden our efforts. The official sentence of Akbar Ganji, Iran's longest serving dissident and thinker in prison, will be over in less than 50 days, at the same time as the Persian new year. It will also be the time when the UN will likely consider Iran's nuclear case. Coincidentally it will also mark the third year of the start of the Iraq war. If you believe, like I do, that the war that seems to be looming on the horizon, is one that should not be, then you must do what you can, in supporting the cause of freedom for our countrymen, to show that it need not be.

Comments
An Iranain Student (AIS) at February 2, 2006 05:34 PM [permalink]:

Very good post, and very timely.

Sahar at February 2, 2006 05:52 PM [permalink]:

I like this article. Thanks Babak for this wonderful piece. I agree with you 100%.

Winston at February 3, 2006 12:04 AM [permalink]:

what if the war is the last resort to solve our world problems?

Arash Jalali at February 3, 2006 10:47 AM [permalink]:

I appreciate your views Babak, and believe me I would give anything to have an ounce of hope for what you are proposing, but forgive me for saying that you, as the persian expression goes, are weeping over an empty grave. "Civil" disobedience? There is little that I could call civil about the society in Iran, myself very much included. Democracy, freedom, human rights, and all the nice things brave men like Akbar Ganji have been suffering for, are not even in the top ten wishlist of the typical Iranian.

Iran, I am affraid, is neither Ganji, nor you, nor the very few people who think like you, just as Palestine is not Mahmud Abbas and the very few people who would like to recognize and have peace with Israel.

Iran is that underpaid, underprivileged, undereducated huge mass that would die for anyone who gives them stipends for EYD-E-GHORBAN (feast of sacrifice) and gives them subsidized meat and rice for Muharram mourning rituals. Iran is that big crowd of people stuck on the first stage of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy.

People will certainly not take democracy if you drop it off B-52 bombers. People won't take it even if you giftwrap it and send it to their homes; they would save the giftwrapping and throw away the contents. Democracy should first and foremost be wanted. It is not wanted in Iran, it is not wanted in Iraq, and it is not wanted in Palestine. Give it to them and they will bring likes of Ahmadinejad and Hammas to power.

Ben at February 3, 2006 12:31 PM [permalink]:

Babak,
You emulate in mind a possible conflict where an attack on Iran is the first occurrence that ignite the war. Do you think its possible that Iran would strike first?
Here are some of my thoughts and rhetorical questions:
I read once in the newspaper that one Iranian leader said "a single atomic device can wipe Israel".
This was said years before the recent infamous Ahmadinejad "wiping" statement. So he didn't surprise me when he opened his mouth one time too many.
What is this president after?
Creating a balance of fear?
Actually using that weapon?
I can't make heads and tails of him.
He is so irresponsible.
Most outside sources claim Israel has nuclear missile armed subs and nuclear weapons concealed underground.
Jews in general and Israelis in specific are traumatic of the recent attempt to "wipe" them in the holocaust and have dedicated museums, literature, art and much of themselves to commemorate it.
Israel has only a tiny piece of land supposed to be dedicated to the continuance of the Jewish people.
If Ahmadinejad really tries to "wipe" Israel, he will only confurme what Israeli diplomats have said all along: That Israel needs all possible ways of defending herself.
After all, no leader of Israel had ever threatened to "wipe" Iran off the map.
What type of retaliation would Israel performe in response to an Iranian atomic strike on the land that was supposed to ensure that no holocaust shall ever happen again?
What if she really has atomic devices? Is she going to use more than one? What will be left of Iran?
What will be left of Israel?

Arash Jalali,
As I live in Israel I have no idea how accurate Babak Seradjehs hopes are and no idea how justified your disappointment is.

I can just tell you how I wish for all this unrest in our area to end in a peaceful way.
God knows I'd give so much for it to end in the way Babak suggested.

The topic is very relevant: "The War That Need Not Be"
If it's a political war, real war, war between the west and Iran, war between Iran and Israel..
Something in our reality isn't supposed to be this way.
The Iranian citizens have no 'bad blood' with Jews or the west (excluding this current regime actions that support terrorism through proxies in Israel and the rest of the world especially in conflict areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan).
Some of the past leaders in Iran have shown Iran to be a beautiful nation that can prosper in every aspect of life with parallel to the west.

How did we get to the current stage of things ;(

An Iranian Student (AIS) at February 4, 2006 12:26 AM [permalink]:

Arash, you are wrong. Yes Iran as it is now is a pretty shitty place in all respects.(it's time we all faced it. There is very very little we can be proud of in Iran as it actually is, but Iran has potential, a lot of potential if it is set on the right track, and that has always been the problem. Yes being free is hard, it is not even pleasent, but it is the only way we can be human in the fullest sense. No other people were any different either. Believe me, what you see in the West owes much to the functioning traditions and systems that were gradually accumulated throughthe efforts of all mankind all over the world in our collective history little by little.

Ben,
I really appreciate what you said and the fact that you, Ron and others participate in the discussions here.
As for your last question, it had a lot to do with the left movement, not just in Iran but in the West itself, in all their warlectuals who were looking up for everything from Europe and the West for at least a century. I am not putting the blame elsewhere. The main blame was with the Iranians themselves, with their naivity, stupidity, lack of compassion, superstition, brain deadness, ... the generation of our parents, those who "commited" this crime of "revolution" were really pitiable, that's how stupid and misguided they were. But there is also the other side of the story, if you want to go deeper to the roots. It's a long story. A sad and dirty one.
The only hope Iran has is breaking with this centuries of lies, deciets, cowardice and supersition. To start new, with the very few, but important, remainders of a truly civilized notions that still survives underneath the collection of social deseases we are now used to call our "culture".

AIS at February 4, 2006 12:56 AM [permalink]:

BBC PERSIAN has somehow failed to report the main part of Bush's speech (as related to the persian where he directly spoke to the Iranian people and supported their struggle for freedom and wished for a future of friendship between America and a free Iran. Just coincidence I'm sure, or perhaps the lovely people at BBC just didn't feel like typing...who know?
Anyway shouldn't we just love BBC?

AIS at February 4, 2006 12:57 AM [permalink]:

BBC PERSIAN has somehow failed to report the main part of Bush's speech (for persians anyway) where he directly spoke to the Iranian people and supported their struggle for freedom and wished for a future of friendship between America and a free Iran. Just coincidence I'm sure, or perhaps the lovely people at BBC just didn't feel like typing...who knows?
Anyway shouldn't we just love BBC?

Ben at February 4, 2006 08:05 AM [permalink]:

AIS,
Thank you for clarifying and for your acceptance of our presense here.
I'd like to focus on what you said: ["only hope Iran has is breaking with this centuries of lies, deciets, cowardice and supersition."].
Assuming you're correct, a possible solution to achiving this hope is through education which will (naturally once implemented) require a few generations to noticeably affect the population.
This educations influence shall be the ultimate nemesis of the revolutions brainwash but it will not be all 'peace and love'. What I'm suggesting is education that will teach its followers to consider life from many perspectives at once and the by product result of that would immune the people against brainwash of hate.

Heres a law of nature I learned in life: Ruining something is always easier than building or creating.
Also,
Recovery always requires more energy than the energy required for destroying/hurt the object that you then have to recover.

My point above was that it would always be easier to implant bad intentions in people and make them hate. Every person in the world can hate someone or something. But not everyone can create.
So when the mullahs of the Ayatollahs (of revolution) educate fellow Iranians with lies and hate from preschool to adulthood they are doing it with cheap resources and with relative ease compared to what it'd take for education as I suggested above to take place.

But not all is lost.
Something which was destroyed is in wrecks.
Something which was created with good intentions is both beautiful and functional.
The minds of the brainwashed are in wrecks and are weak and (almost) worthless. And thats what gives the enlightened ones mental power over them. Mental power in all of it's aspects (spiritual and intelligence) is the most important thing you need to make a difference.
If you can give it away to the masses than your service to humankind is unmatched but by someone else that did the same.

Resourceful Iranians need to unite outside Iran and inside it and create this education in the form of schools networks for their (and others) young and sustain a society which differs from the current regime intentions.
They must claim their country and nation back. It belongs to them. A kidnapped Iran is unacceptable.
Iranians in general (even the supporters of the revolution) must be proud of their countrys thousands of years tradition and fulfill their (currently trapped) well proven potential.

itchy_thoughts at February 4, 2006 05:06 PM [permalink]:

i have a thought. mullahs' road to power was smooth and easy and after 20 some odd years they are still hung over because of it. what adds to it is that they never experienced a defeat whereby they couldn't spin it as a victory. One more law of the nature that I learned is that life has so many ironies and sometime defeats achieve things that victories can't deliver!

right now the iranian regime is pumping up the national pride and the followers of the regime are really under the impression that they can militarily stand up to america. what the iranian regime says strikes a cord with many since the state tv and radio inflates this sense of "national pride" balloon.

i have never been for an all-out invasion whereby democracy is tried to be shoved down people's throats and i've always debated its outcome. however, i am more for a targeted military action in this case. a military action where military bases, atomic installations, and state radio/tv stations are knocked down and the general public are faced with a "shock and awe" without being hurt or their livelihood being compromised too much. nothing can take the air out of the "national pride" balloon like a good show of "shock and awe".

when people specially the true followers see their beloved government can't lift even a finger like an dying insect after being sqashed on the wall, they start challenging it and changes will come from within.

this is exactly what happened to argentina after the falklands war. a military dictatorship came cumbling down a few months after argentina's humiliating defeat by the british.

the key to this is, as i mentioned before, people's livelihood shouldn't be compromised at all. they shouldn't be aliented more against america and its probable allies in this since it will have totally negative results. they could be very well the foot soldiers of the next revolution after all.

Babak S at February 4, 2006 06:25 PM [permalink]:

Winston:

If "the war is the last resort to solve our world problems" then so be it. But the "if" very much remains. You do not go running to your last resort when you have other middle resorts still hanging in the air. Also I take issue with the approach that considers war as a "solution." War is far more often the problem. However, if a dangerous idea cannot be beaten unless by removing the mind it is attached to—your last resort—then there's no escaping it. If someone has the idea to kill you, you cannot discuss it till you die by his bullet. This is a self-consistent logical consequence of what is simply called "the right to life." That's my view of the war.

itchy_thoughts and Arash:

Well, that is a theory, and I think there are proponents of it as a policy in the US administration too. But didn't our people just witness two such "shock and awe" operations in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq? Do you really think they have any doubts that Iran's armed forced don't stand a tiny chance not to lose in a military conflict? Or are you thinking along the line that if the military apparatus of the ruling faction is damaged, people might feel they can now do something without fearing a heavy-handed crack down?

Of course this all rests on the (optimistic) assumption that "the people" now really are willing to commit to a fundamental change. Arash argues they are not. But I don't think he has any more hard evidence against this assumption than I do for it. I believe indivduals most of the time decide what to do between their possible choices. Highy costly choices are usually discarded from the beginning. If they are given the choice and the chance to think and discuss the consequences, I am not so pessimistic to think they will throw away democracy out of habit, or whatever you may want to call it.

Babak S at February 4, 2006 06:43 PM [permalink]:

Ben,

I do not think Iran's government wil strike first in a manner that could be implicated directly. They may try to attack through their proxies in Lebonan, Palestine and in accord with "friends" such as Syria. If they are engaged in a military conflict, the chances of doing so will highly rise. But of course the targets of such attacks will then be more intent on defending themselves too. With all that, I think, even though they have the intention to wipe Israel off the map with an atomic bomb or else, they would calculate that they do not simply have the power. (Some fanatics among them may want to do so even then and get martyred, but at the end of the day such people will be overruled by others, in my opinion--of course that does not mean that this happens automatically and that the rest of the world should just sit and see how it resolves itself. They will be overruled taking into account the action traken by the rest of the world.)

So, what is Ahmadinejad after? In his own mind, I think he is after an "ideal society" that is ruled according to his view of "true Islam" mixed up with a lot of social nonesense about the poor, etc. coming from the traditional Left. His view of how that society should work of course is totally detached from reality. It is a flawed theory. And so even if he had his way, I think his "ideal society" would "wipe itself off the map" in a matter of years. A parallel example is what Taliban wanted and did in Afghanistan in less than a decade.

itchy_thoughts at February 4, 2006 09:16 PM [permalink]:

babak,

for answers to your questions, please read my comment once again more carefully. i have covered all of it in there.

Babak S at February 4, 2006 10:00 PM [permalink]:

itchy_thoughts:

My questions were in reference to this part of your comment. "the followers of the regime are really under the impression that they can militarily stand up to america." You may well be right on that; but it is kind of hard to see how they can take that impression seriously given such close proximity to very recent "shocks and awes." I agree, given that they are under that impression, seeing it crashed for real is the most effective way to change their mind. (But again, that's a change of mind that could take down the mind with it altogether and so defeat the purpose of the change in the first place.)

itchy_thoughts at February 4, 2006 10:59 PM [permalink]:

sorry, babak. i guess i should have read your comment more carefully.

they mostly rely on their man-power and their allies in iraq. many also think that they have seen both war and sanctions. to them war with iraq was actually war with the whole world.

the result of a likely targeted military strike depends on how it is done. when people's lives are affected, it's hard to deliver what it can deliver. when dams and water treatment facilities are destroyed, and diseases like cholera spread, it's hard to expect anything from the people.

"I agree, given that they are under that impression, seeing it crashed for real is the most effective way to change their mind."

seeing the regime paralyzed in a matter of hours will get everyone thinking no matter what their initial impressions were. that's why i think the changes will be from within (perhaps even within the regime).

i would even go one step further to say that just feeling the heat of the real threat will get many inside the regime thinking and make them change a lot of things, but i think even those people know by now that time is against them.

are we seeing the beginning of the end in iran? perhaps. only america's unreadiness for reasons outside of iran (e.g. iraq) for doing it can save mullahs' butt.

Babak S at February 4, 2006 11:27 PM [permalink]:

Maybe "feeling the heat of the real threat will get many inside the regime thinking and make them change a lot of things," but in what direction? More oppression and brutality could well be the directionthey choose, under a half-executed threat. Also I would not go as far to say we are "seeing the beginning of the end [of mullahs] in iran" even if the US was not so tangled up in Iraq and elsewhere. The current critical situation underlines the demand for our attention to what really matters: changing our society, including ourselves and our theories, for a better future.

Winston at February 5, 2006 03:28 PM [permalink]:

Babak, I agree! But some times people like Saddam, OBL, Khamenei, Hitler et al do not comprehend other solutions and the only language they understand is the language of force.

My point was that people shouldn't be freaking out if the war is the last resort to solve our current solutions.

But yes, I oppose the war as much as possible since I grew up in Iran of wartime and I know how horrible it is but if the war is going to bring in freedom or liberate a group of people, so be it. I want it wholeheartedly like WWII, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan... etc

An Iranian Student (AIS) at February 5, 2006 11:47 PM [permalink]:

Ben,

I appreciate your good intentions, but I'm afraid your optimistic solution has no place in the reality today. As I said I do believe Iran has real potential for growth, but that is as much as it goes, not an inch further,
You talk of Iranian intellectuals, how many do you think there are who even think correctly let alone are willing to act and educate. Iranian intellectuals have in general been the major problem! Belive me all this that you see now and much worse that will probably come before things get any better is more than anything else the doing of the educated intellectuals who studied in France, Germany, England or America. If you knew Persian you could just read all these blogs from Canad and the US from such "educted" people to see why Ahmadinezhad is still the more tolerable among the idiots.
What do I think the solution in reality would be?
Change of regime BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY by the joint effort of what has remaind of Western free thought and democracy. Then setting up unrestrained trade and free market with the West, with absolutely NO govrnmental restrictiosn what so ever, which will lead to the Iranian society to be effectively, directlyt and continously exposed to all that comes from the free world with the government to act as a shield AGAINST, by use of force of necessary, any kind of effort to use national resources or populistic fervore to preserve this so calle indegenous culture or protect it or what ever. Let the ideas roam freely, use the power of economic self-interest and evenb corruption to act in favour of freedom. Expose all, ALL that has been treasued as our "holy" (yeah, right!) heritage religious, literary, national or what have you to free and unrestricted compettition with other ideas and legacies from around the world. Let any one of them that has any merit on its own to survive by its own merit and any one of them that can't just die out so we would be rid of it.
It would still be a great victory to add up enough courage and opne mindedness to set in motion but it is still possible, with even a few number of dedicated free thinkers to see it through.

Educationa and growth will follow naturally afterwards.

Iranian Freedom fighter at February 5, 2006 11:57 PM [permalink]:

We need a smart revolution. People of Iran need to oppose this oppressive government by staying at home and shout the word "Freedom" from their houses every night. It should start on Thursday 9th of February at 8 pm. And again on Saturday 11th Feb 2006 and every two days from then on. Pass this on to all your friends and relatives within Iran. With the help of the West and all decent human beings around the world, and the effort of the Iranians themselves, We as the community of decent humans around the world should be able to get rid of these murderers ruling Iran by force. Remember, Thursday Night, 9th February 2006 at 8 pm

Winston at February 6, 2006 02:40 AM [permalink]:

I have always wondered why we Iranians havent had our own Orange Revolution yet!?

JP at February 6, 2006 06:18 PM [permalink]:

I find itchy thought's idea of a brief strike with minimum casualties that would destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and paralyze its military very exciting. But I would stop short of endorsing it, because I can't predict its possible ramifications. Iranian leaders have time and again proved to be smarter than us mere bloggers and they have managed to surprise us in the past. But in any case I think Iranians need to be given a lesson in humility. The best service to Iranian people is robbing them of their un-reasonable sense of pride.

Ben at February 6, 2006 06:51 PM [permalink]:

AIS,
The fact that you and some authors and commentators here in this website can think for yourselves is good enough for me to be optimistic and believe nowadays reality can be resolved peacefully.
The footnote was that a peaceful resolution would require generations to kick in.
In the meantime, opposers of the current regime suffer.
This is one of the reasons why I'd support removal by force but how is it possible without causing the population even more suffering?
Before the U.S sent troops to Iraq they bombarded it for weeks to weaken its army. I'm sure the Iraqi population suffered from that by itself.
And even if by a miracle someone manages to eliminate only the leaders of this revolution regime, how can we keep Iran from sinking into the mud of terrorism the Iraqi citizens suffer from today?
In case you wonder, I'm not asking rhetorical questions. Fact is that I currently have no answer to them.
As long as I can't answer these two questions I tend to believe none in the rest of the world can change the Iranian regime without the attempt (whether successful or not) turning into catastrophe.
Therefore I believe a true change must come from within the Iranian people.
Such change would also contribute to the stability of the solution.
Some of you are very pessimistic of the possibility for the Iranian people to produce that solution... I fully agree with you considering only a short range timetable.


I have a few questions for you and anyone else that can answer:

Is it possible to estimate the (real) level of support in percentage the revolution has today and what was the level when it happened in '79?

How dangerous it is for a citizen in Iran to speek his/her mind 'too freely' if they oppose the regime?

Do you think this regime will 'step aside' if public support for it fades and is apparent to shift toward some other party?

Are private schools that aren't government owned allowed to educate without outside interference in the curricula?

An Iranian Student (AIS) at February 6, 2006 07:41 PM [permalink]:

Ben,

yes. there is no doubt reaching any stable free society and a culture that would support it will take more than a generation. The thing is it will not come from Iranian intellectuals. That wa smy point.
As for the terroris mud hole, you are right but i think that is gonna be a period we will have to go through one way or the other. they won't just leave even if there was a successful uprising. It's just not in their nature.

Now your questions:
1- There is no way i can answer this with any degree of certitude. based on the people I knew, know and the ordinary people in the streets I have met in my life the pecentage of real full supporters of the system would be about 5%. But first of all I have no way of figuring out if that is a fair sample of Iranian in general. Second there are many other layers that are not supporters of this system, but are full of their own religous/conspiarcy theory/... biases and superstitiosn.
Thirdly people in rural parts of Iran, viallges and the like do not really pley a major role in the path the country takes. they will usually follow the urban population, or at best act as a source of passive resistance. Those from such areas who migrate to (miserabel) suburbs of big cities like Tehran have of course proven to be quite influential.

2- Depends on what you mean by speek. In ordinary surroundings, among fruiends, in Buses and Taxis (taxis are like mini buses in Iran), in shops and even among like minded colleagues in working places you can speak very openly as long as it stays in words alone. Wailing about the situation is a national tradition! Expressing one hundreth of that in a wide scale medium like Newspapers, films or even blogs is extremely dangerous however.
3-No way. No way. Of this I am 100% certain.
4-No. there is no private school that is not directed by elements connceted to this regime anyway and no the controle over school and university curricula is very tight and is one those things they will never compromise.

Ben at February 7, 2006 01:32 PM [permalink]:

OK, nice to see some answers to these questions that may seem obvious to some but in fact aren't answered in your usual wikipedia/ciafactbook definitions.
These answers allow me to build a more founded insight so thanks.

"Wailing about the situation is a national tradition"
-Funny you say that because where I live it's a national sport.. :D
When I want to have a good laugh I usually surf to the website of our biggest newspaper (ynet.co.il). The comments there for each article can act as a good material for a leading comedian.

Robert Cohen at February 8, 2006 04:54 AM [permalink]:
I am an American, Jewish by ancestry, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've never been to Iran; but I'd love to someday because I'm fascinated by your country's history and culture as well as the passion and curiousity of its people. But I'm very afraid for you and us; afraid that I won't be able to travel to your land anytime soon. From reading this blog and other sources, one can see that conditions in Iran under the mullahs and particularly with the rise of Ahmadinejad are pretty deplorable. The economy is obviously stagnant, the attitude of the fundamentalists rulers and guardians to dissent and cultural express is dilatory at best, and the security situation has also deteriorated dramatically. But I fear for your country as well as mine. I don't know how much you are familiar with the dramtic decline politial and social conditions in the US, particularly in the past 5 years under the Bush regime. The constitution and Bill of Rights here been effectively and essentially shredded. The Executive has run roughshod over the legislative; more or less ignoring or arrogating to themselves the interpretation of all bills emerging from Congress. Habeas corpus (criminal and civil rights) are under active challenge. The US treasury is fast being depleted by the thieves we were illegitimately place in power and who are spending it on ruinous war overseas --- particularly Iraq and Afghanistan but all over the world. Muslims are jailed and deported without charges, the state is actively spying on thousands and thousands of citizens and harassing and monitoring opposition groups and those who dissent. All demonstrations against the President are automatically confined to free speech zones welll away from our Dear Leader. Every federal Presidential election beginning with 2000's (Bush v. Gore) has been marred by massive vote fraud and theft via hacked electronic voting machines, voter suppression, invalidation of overseas votes (mostly Democratic), illegal purging of voters rolls, disinformation at polling places and a raft of other dirty strategms. I'm talking about the 2000 election, 2002 Congressinal elections, the 2004 Presidential rate which Kerry probably won by over 4 million votes (see markcrispinmiller.org). It's a foregone conclusion that 2006 will be stolen as well. We have one-party rule in this country by leaders who are in thrall to a dangerous Christian fundamentalist agenda which is hostile and is determined to either eliminate or suspend freedom of expression, free press, science, reproductive choice, constitutional liberties, and cross cultural understanding and tolerance. At the behest of their corporate sponsors, they have shredded the social safety net, wrecked environmental laws and enforcement, eviscerated almost all occupational, safety and health laws (including food inspection), made health care almost unaffordable (46 million people without health insurance in the US) and have facilitated a massive transfer of wealth to the top one percent. The mainstream corporate-controlled US media (print and electronic) has been muffled and censored almost completely, especially when it comes to foreign affairs and the War on Iraq but also domestic crises and scandals like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Voices of dissent have been virtually banished. The President has assumed royal, imperial perogatives and defies public opinion, Congress and media accountability. Meanwhile it fearmongers the public wit ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Ron at February 8, 2006 12:03 PM [permalink]:

Robert,

All well and good to bash the free market when you live in the most expensive city in America.

Why don't you ask the Iranians here what oppression really is before you cry about how terrible life is in America? You sound like a wedding guest complaining to the beggar outside how terrible the cake was.

Babak S at February 8, 2006 02:08 PM [permalink]:

Robert,

If you have never been to Iran, how could you so resolutely proclaim: "As bad as you have it now, it will be immeasurably worse..."? In defence of this statement, you portray a caricature of what life in the US is, presumably to show us that the US system is fatally flawed. Drawing on this (itself a deep falsehood), however, you warn against the death and destruction that a takeover by corporate America will bring about in Iran and the region.

I do not expect you to come back here for a follow-up, but if you did, I would like you to answer the following: I don't think anyone here is for a corporate takeover of any part of the region; that is completely against the idea of spreading freedom and democracy that is supported by me and many of my compatriots. But let us, for the sake of the argument, agree that the premise of your theory is correct. Can you give us some real examples of these crimes, please? And compare that with the current situation, so we get a perspective?

Former Monika at February 8, 2006 03:12 PM [permalink]:

Mr. Serajeh
In mon idee, the people in Iran never ever let the thoughts of getting themselves free enter
thier minds, because:
1. They rarely get time to think about their several familial difficulties than want to consider such ultra activities.
2. The parents who has witnessed the revolution of 1979 have virtually transfrerred the point
(or the Fact, as they say) that no government is to prosper after a revolution.
3. People believe they are opposed with others in the society in holding their beliefs and even
their minor opinions about a statesperson. The immediate result is their refrainment from speaking their minds.
4. There are no open flow of ideas about any accomplishment performed by the goverment.
Also, there are rarely analysis and any discussions of the parties or lecturers which might let people know over what actually goes on or at least clear their cognition.
5. Poeple do not trust any news agency. They assume what they are given are based on wrong grounds and in accordance to the agencies` own rights.
6. Iranians don`t identify themsleves with those in power, still see all they have in its hands.
High official jobs are like a bargain with the government- to be the absolute representations of their masters.
Altogether, peolpe witness the malfunctions, repudiate it- many spend hours reasoning that,
and yet never wish to enact. They believe it does not worth the trouble.
AIS, if you were in Iran, you would see that BBC in Persian is filtered :-0

Robert Cohen at February 8, 2006 03:16 PM [permalink]:

If you'd like examples here's a few: Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iraq, Zaire, Argentina in the dirty wars of the 1970's and the neoliberal catastrophe of the 90's, Iran in the 1950's - 1979, Cambodia, Vietnam in the 1960's - 1976, Indonesia, the Philippines under Marcos, Chile in the 1970's.

They're too many to mention. The depth of your anger betrays your fear and uncertainty. I'm only trying to warn you. Do you like what you're seeing next door to you in Iraq. Do you really think the Bush regime will shrink from the use of tactical nukes against your country to destroy your nuclear and other installations?

Do you think they'll be shy about grabbing Khezestan as they now assemble a mighty war machine on your frontiers? Do you doubt that they'll flatten your economy as they have so many in other countries -- as they;re dong right now in New Orleans?

Can you answer these questions?

Babak S at February 8, 2006 03:27 PM [permalink]:

You mention names, Robert, not examples. What has happened in Zair, Iraq, etc. and what bearing do they have on the situation in Iran? And please do take into account that people who form the government, a generation, or a country, and most importantly their ideas, as well as conditions under which they perform change. I am asking for examples and comparisons, which requires you to lay out your "theory" of what is going on in the world and the basis of the US policy.

About Iraq: Is the US in good shape in Iraq after all, or not? Are they in charge or not? Your contention that they are building a mighty war machine there seems to assume "yes" while your implied suggestion that the situation is worse than before assumes "no." You can't do both.

To help me answer your questions, please answer this first: Who is "they"?

Robert Cohen at February 9, 2006 07:28 PM [permalink]:

Babak:

I have composed an answer for you, actually something I've been working on for a while. But it's really too long for a post and if you'd provide your email, I'd gladly send it you as an attachment.

At the same time, I wish to apologize for my impertinence at "lecturing" you and others on this blog about what's in store for you and warning you like a Cassandra. I happen to be very upset about what my country is doing to itself and others, but I shouldn't be taking it out on you.

Iranians have already suffered through enough, and I don't need to be another arrogant American telling you what you should and should not have. You already get that from my government and your own. You have a right to choose your future and whether I agree with it or not or if it fits into my idelogical beliefs is beside the point.

What I'm saying is I understand your anger towards me. But at the same time, I'd like to see other countries not committing the same mistakes in submitting to US hegemony. But that's my personal preference and opinion and not a pronouncement.

Thanks,
Rob Cohen

Babak S at February 9, 2006 07:56 PM [permalink]:

I'll be more than happy to read your response. You can see my email by clicking on the "info" in the brackets beside my name as the author of this piece at the top of the page. I don't put it here for fear of spams.

Robert Cohen at February 9, 2006 11:07 PM [permalink]:

Thanks Babak, I'll send it you tomorrow probably, because I'd like to refine it some. It's for a general audience although I've bascially written it for you.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at February 12, 2006 10:39 PM [permalink]:

Monika,

BBC is back in Iran. The filtering is removed. Can we guess why? ;)

ScottVee at February 13, 2006 04:30 PM [permalink]:

The cartoon feakout proved that there are more then a few willing to push any button they see at a moments notice over such a stupid little thing. I'd bet Iran does the Hail Mary pass to some sick & twisted buch of human waste that kills for God and they will do the deed from the center of the country. I'm sorry but the jumping up and down shooting off rounds makes it hard to say that those folks are playing with a full deck.

How woud the world react if Bush said that he flat out wants to wipe Iran off the face of earth?

Iran has a bunch of total nut jobs running the show and you would have to be an idiot to say any different. The facts are that the US and west are getting tired of the constant nonsense that come from these religous freaks (and they are freaks) so the hammer is coming down, no more Mr. Nice guy, No more black hawk down type sheet. If they start the war the US/west will finish it once and for all.

Those freaks run around preaching GOD IS GREAT!! when they kill and mame innocents! WTF! how can you preach the word of a god when you kill others no matter who they are??!???!! What God is ok with that type of Love and devotion? Last I checked a God should be nice and fair to all his lambs not go around blowing them up or cutting off their heads.

Some paper in Denmark prints 11 campy cartoons of the prophet and then we see another 3 really bad ones thrown in from the same source that was protesting them in the first place?
Why is that retard not stoned to death or beheaded like the other artists are threatened to be?

Why the heck is the US flag being burned with the Danish flag? Oh it's the West as a whole they are mad at...Get freaking over it, put the guns down and get to work!

Where did they find all those Danish flags at a moments notice in the first place??

I'm pretty sure the facts on who is doing all the sick & twisted killing points towards the "GOD IS GREAT" crowd, it aint the US or the Jooooos. More pallys are killed in pally-stein from internal skermishes then are killed by the IDF. More jooo's are killed by those sicko bastards with bombs strapped around their waist.

When I see a sea of folks with bandannas that say "I am willing to kill for GOD" I get a little weary. They have guns and truly want to kill those that oppose their stupid ways. What part do you not get?

ScottVee at February 13, 2006 04:31 PM [permalink]:

The cartoon feakout proved that there are more then a few willing to push any button they see at a moments notice over such a stupid little thing. I'd bet Iran does the Hail Mary pass to some sick & twisted buch of human waste that kills for God and they will do the deed from the center of the country. I'm sorry but the jumping up and down shooting off rounds makes it hard to say that those folks are playing with a full deck.

How woud the world react if Bush said that he flat out wants to wipe Iran off the face of earth?

Iran has a bunch of total nut jobs running the show and you would have to be an idiot to say any different. The facts are that the US and west are getting tired of the constant nonsense that come from these religous freaks (and they are freaks) so the hammer is coming down, no more Mr. Nice guy, No more black hawk down type sheet. If they start the war the US/west will finish it once and for all.

Those freaks run around preaching GOD IS GREAT!! when they kill and mame innocents! WTF! how can you preach the word of a god when you kill others no matter who they are??!???!! What God is ok with that type of Love and devotion? Last I checked a God should be nice and fair to all his lambs not go around blowing them up or cutting off their heads.

Some paper in Denmark prints 11 campy cartoons of the prophet and then we see another 3 really bad ones thrown in from the same source that was protesting them in the first place?
Why is that retard not stoned to death or beheaded like the other artists are threatened to be?

Why the heck is the US flag being burned with the Danish flag? Oh it's the West as a whole they are mad at...Get freaking over it, put the guns down and get to work!

Where did they find all those Danish flags at a moments notice in the first place??

I'm pretty sure the facts on who is doing all the sick & twisted killing points towards the "GOD IS GREAT" crowd, it aint the US or the Jooooos. More pallys are killed in pally-stein from internal skermishes then are killed by the IDF. More jooo's are killed by those sicko bastards with bombs strapped around their waist.

When I see a sea of folks with bandannas that say "I am willing to kill for GOD" I get a little weary. They have guns and truly want to kill those that oppose their stupid ways. What part do you not get?

Monika at February 16, 2006 09:36 AM [permalink]:

As their stragtegy,those religious folks in power, claim God is great, to justifiably kill others, to deepen the root of their influence over a punch of gullible peolpe and let go Human Rights by working out harsh rules. In my idea when it comes to Politics, Religion becomes an excuse, a pretext. In name of Religion, those in power assert themselves agents of God to apply His -!- word in the world. It is certainly drown at red ink. An example in Britian is the beginning of Commonwealth-by Puritan extremists-in 1649 with execution of Charles I which brought up their failure by the end of 1660, the Restoration of Charles II.
Religion is an spiritual and individual experience that cannot be confused with cruelty and ruthlessness. Those who bring on violence are represents of devil than that of God.
ScottVee, by working out terror and violence, no problem is solved, whether by Bush or another.
AIS, your guess is as good as mine, I miss the point ;-)

misneach at April 29, 2006 10:33 PM [permalink]:

And it should also be noted that in Friday's "State Sponsors of Terror" report by the U.S. state department, Iran was linked to possession and intent to use WMD. Interesting that that always seems to come up when the U.S. is trying to drum up support for another war. See more about it here: http://misneach.blogspot.com/2006/04/iran-us-lies-idiots-at-cnn-wmd.html
under "the U.S. would like the world to know"
(just scroll down)