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Monthly Archive: March 2006
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March 14, 2006

The Stick With Two Golden Ends
Arash Jalali  [info|posts]

"Gray! The world is gray, Jack!". That is how a corrupt director of CIA tries to explain the World to a "boy scout" colleague in a Hollywood movie. Well I for one would kill for some gray these days, because it's just all black; all goddamn black! "Why ?", you might ask. Well, you just bear with me a few more paragraphs and then you decide for yourself.

Scene 1 - You Goddamn French!

I am in a taxi heading to work. The traffic-jam has reached epic proportions in size. The usual impossible traffic has worsened ten-fold due to the new year shopping season. The driver, in an almost melancholy way, is shoving his taxi inch by inch through an already congested express way. He turns on the radio. It's the news: "There have been wide protests against the new labour law in France. The French police have brutally used tear gas and attacked with truncheons and plastic bullets to disperse the protesting students that had taken over the Sorbonne University." The news is being read by the announcer in a tone that subliminally makes you hate France and say to yourself: "Cradle of democracy! Yeah right! Goddamn hypocrite French!" But then the words truncheon and brutality poke my half-dead smoke-intoxicated brain. I remember the women beaten up by our own police only a few days ago. Not that they were trying to take over a University or anything. They were just marching peacefully honoring the only day in the year that at least in theory belongs to them. Now I don't know which one to hate more? Our own police for beating up defenseless women, or the French police that gives the Islamists perfect propaganda material to justify their own brutality?

Scene 2 - Liberating Firecrackers

I sneak out of office to buy some coffee. My mind is still busy thinking about work. All of a sudden there is this huge sound, "Booom!"; Was it a gun fire? Was it a bomb? No, it was a firecracker. Fortunately, I didn't wet my pants, but I am sure someone somewhere had a heart attack. This year the "opposition in exile" has called for the Iranian people to celebrate the last Wednesday of the year even more vehemently than previous years, "to show their discontent with the Islamic regime." You know, I can't decide which one is worse: to have Ahmadinejad's face to represent the face of Iran, or to have those idiots in Los Angeles-based TV's representing "the alternative". Firecrackers toppling nuclear Mullahs! Now that's what I call a good way to waste 75 million dollars worth of US funding for instilling democracy in Iran.

Scene 3 - Way to Go Johnny!

It's late in the evening and I am trying to relax a little bit, playing a little couch potato. No IRIB for me, thank you very much! I have seen enough hardliner Islamists for one day in the papers. Let's switch to the satellite channels. All right! It's BBC's "Hard Talk". And who's on? Wonderful! Mr.John Bolton, the one and only US ambassador to the United Nations. Let's see what he has to say:

  • The host (Stephen Sackur): "Doesn't it strike you that perhaps America's case against Iran is weakened as far as many in the international community are concerned; given the fact that when it comes to India, the fact that they developed a nuclear bomb, the fact that they have no part to play in the NPT and refused to be part of it, you just have given them a reward by saying that you will cooperate with them on their civilian nuclear program. What sort of message does that send?"
  • John Bolton: "I think the circumstances are different. I think India by definition, never having been a member of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, wasn't in violation..."
  • Stephen Sackur: " it's ok, whereas Iran, because it chose to sign up, is now in much bigger trouble! "
  • John Bolton: "Yes, I think there's a difference between lying and telling the truth. I think that's exactly right. India never joined the treaty and it was perfectly within its rights, not being a state in the treaty, to develop..."
  • Stephen Sackur: "So any nation that chooses to leave the treaty, as Iran could do in the near future, has a right to develop nuclear weapons, because then they are being honest."
  • John Bolton: "As I said, I think there is a difference between truth and [dis]honesty. I assume the BBC recognizes that. The Iranians committed, not to develop nuclear weapons, and they have been lying about their nuclear weapons program for close to twenty years..."
  • Stephen Sackur: "So in answer to my question, you see no problem there. You see no sense of hypocrisy, double standards.."
  • John Bolton: "Let me...Let me try and finish the answer. So when you say to yourself what does it tell you about the Iranian government that's been lying, concealing its work, obstructing the IAEA, what does that tell you about its intentions? I think that's a serious condemnation of Iran's behavior."

My goodness, does America actually pay guys like this to represent it in the United Nations? This guy just made me realize that the only thing worse than having an idiot as president, is to have an imbecile representing a hypocrite government that wants to "help me" get rid of that idiot president.

The Postlude

Just as I thought I had had enough "grayness" for a day, my brother comes to me and says: "Did you hear there were some unrest in Shairf today? They barried three bodies in Sharif University's mosque."

It's not enough that they had hundreds of thousands of people killed in the war, they are now trying to rub in it any poor bastard's face, who might try to even breathe the word "freedom". It's not hard to envisage the words coming out of their mouth: "We[!?] didn't have so many martyrs to now have a "momma's boy" like you chew on Big Satan's excrement!"

Note on the title: In Farsi, the expression "The stick with two golden ends" (Gold being a polite metaphore for feces), describes, among other things, a situation where someone or something is rejected and/or disgusted by both those who are his enemies as well as those who allegedly are his friends.

March 13, 2006

Iran's scientific isolation
Yaser Kerachian  [info|posts]

The other day, I was on the phone with a friend of mine, now a faculty member of Sharif University of Technology. He was talking about his involvement in organizing a scientific conference in Iran. He told me about a debate among the members of the conference organizing committee of whether to hold the conference on the national or international level. This is apparently a big deal in Iran. A conference is considered international after being approved by the Iran's Cabinet provided that at least certain number of presenters are from outside Iran. International conferences are then entitled to some benefits such as budgets and promotions.

My friend told me that he finally managed to convince the organizing committee that it is better to hold the conference on the national level. Why? Because of Iran's political instability. To organize an international conference, one has to go through a lot of troubles, inviting academics from abroad, arranging the visas and many other issues. Finally, a month before the conference, due to Iran's political situation, all those speakers from outside Iran will withdraw from the conference. This is at least what has happened for the Workshop on Nanostructures held recently in Kish Island.

The current Iranian government may not want to give up its right in nuclear research, considering that we believe their version of story. But they should remember that not all the science is nuclear science and not all the nuclear science is uranium enrichment. Even if Iran makes a huge progress in a specific branch of nuclear science, this is only achieved with the huge cost of isolation in other branches of science. Scientific research is a collective effort. It's been long passed the time that Iranian academics could have sit in their offices or laboratories without interacting with the scientific world and still able to do high-standard research.

March 10, 2006

And the Winner is...
Guest Auhtor: Omid Paydar

OP-ahmadinejad.jpg Regardless of how things play out in the Iranian nuclear drama, one has to admit that the entire process, whether intentionally or by design, has been a huge success for the Islamic Republic, Mr. Ahmadinejad and the other regressive forces of the Iranian society.

For one, in terms of the nuclear issue there aren't too many viable options for the West to stop Iran's nuclear program. Even military strikes will probably have the effect of strengthening the grips of the regime and providing an excuse for withdrawal from the NPT.

More importantly, this regime as one of the primary violator of human rights has successfully shifted all of the attention of the domestic and international communities towards the nuclear issue at a time when unions are being crushed, political prisoners are being tortured in prisons, the country is increasingly made into a police state and the rights of women and minorities is being trampled on every day.

By comparing himself to Mossadegh (Iranian PM who nationalized oil and stood up against the British), Ahmadinjead is trying to appeal to Iranian nationalism, which is as potent a force as Islam has been in shaping the Iranian society. Sadly, this strategy seems to be successful given Iran's increasing isolation from the rest of the world (and there are still some nut-cases who think isolating Iran further is going to be positive). The strategy has also left the opposition in disarray, with the MKO (the Jihadists for the Iranian Masses) and the Monarchists trying to act potential vultures in case the U.S. plans to take down the Iranian regime. The rest of the opposition consists of millions of individuals who are not ready to unite over anything, since their experiences from the 1979 revolution shows them that unity can bring more evil than good.

So essentially at a time when the economy is crumbling, the revolution has failed on its promises, unions are protesting, religious sentiments are falling and social ills like addiction are ravaging the Iranian society, Mr. Ahmadinejad has managed to use Western double standards (which are of course quite evident, see latest Bush visit to India) to invoke a sense of injustice and rally support behind the regime's nuclear ambitions.

And it seems the world is willingly playing into his hands. Machiavelli would have been proud.

Omid Paydar is an Iranian freelance researcher on Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs.