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Questionable Loyalties

By Kam Zarrabi

My first article in Payvand website, published in early March, was in response to Mr. Moshfegh's scathing attack on Dr. Pakravan for his article, a critique of Reza Pahlavi's ambitious dreams of leadership in a wishfully prophesied post-Armageddon Iran.

Part of Dr. Pakravan's thesis rested upon the premise that the pro-Israel interests weighing on the American Administration, supported, albeit for different motives, by the neoconservative cliques, are steering America's policies in the Middle East in a counterproductive direction; ounterproductive for Iran, as well as for America's own long-term interests and regional stability.

I found Mr. Moshfegh's remarks skewed in such a peculiar way that, ignoring the want of better grammar and syntax, it could have been plagiarized right from the Jerusalem Post.

In his other contributions, Mr. Moshfegh's views have always reflected Israel's interests and agendas. If he is truly honest about his views, Moshfegh must see Iran's best interests, as well as America's long-term strategic goals, as serendipitously coinciding with those of Israel. Of course, Moshfegh is perfectly entitled to his own opinions; but so is everybody else.

Mr. Moshfegh's recent note (The Axis of Decay: Pseudo-Nationalism/Xenophobia/Anti-Semitism), mercilessly lambasting Professor Mohammad Sahimi's article, "The Emergence of a New Axis..." is, once again, riddled with clichés and hyperbolae. It is not clear when he last spent some time in Iran to interview and catalogue all those ".prostitutes, junkies, convicted murderers..." who "fill" the streets? How old was he when he witnessed all that "..unimaginable bloodshed.." that he so passionately refers to?

Obviously, there are many scholars of Iranian and Middle Eastern studies, with much more historical knowledge, hands-on current experience, seniority and academic tenure, who disagree with Mr. Moshfegh.

No doubt most Iranian expatriates here who, each for their own reason, are critical of the management of Iran's current regime, would welcome any change that would bring about their desired reforms. Most of us, however, see the persistence of the unacceptable status quo to be the result of economic strangulation of that nation. We view any measure that would open the doors to normalized trade and diplomatic realignment with the United States to be a positive step in that direction. Strength of a society lies in its prosperity, not ideology, religion or politics. With openness, prosperity will surely ensue; Iran is a rich country, both in its citizenry and natural resources. Those who believe that prosperity follows democratic reforms should first look at India - the world's largest democracy. On the contrary, it is in a prosperous society that democracy can take root and proliferate - look at America.

Two factors have been responsible for the long-term stagnation of Iran's socio-economic development: internal administrative struggles, and external pressures. The tide that swept the country twenty-five years ago, should have receded a few years later, had it not been for the cunningly planned and implemented American Embassy hostage crisis on the one hand, and America's characteristic intolerance to the slightest indignity, on the other. Ironically, economic and diplomatic pressures by the United States, aimed at weakening the Islamic regime in Iran and encourage reforms, have simply backfired. As the nation sank ever deeper into isolation and economic abyss, the hardcore conservatives gained more strength. Their position appears rather tenable: Without a sound economic and social infrastructure, the only thing that can keep the nation from disintegrating altogether is the epoxy of religion and theocratic dictatorship.

If America's policy toward Iran is genuinely to encourage positive reform and openness, the strategy employed has thus far had the opposite effect. America's current strategy toward Iran is to force Iran to simply capitulate. To achieve this goal, increased economic pressures and threats of preemptive military strikes, directly, or by the regional proxy, Israel, have been employed.

It is the measured opinion of many concerned Iranians and Iran experts that this strategy, not only aimed at Iran, but also directed at the entire Middle East, is contrary to America's best interests, and cannot lead to positive reforms in that troubled area.

As Mr. Moshfegh so patriotically infers in his article, America is not some banana republic run by hooligans. So, if observers and scholars find America's foreign policy in the Middle East lacking proper direction, there are only two possibilities: Either these criticisms are baseless, as Mr. Moshfegh would maintain, or the opinion molders and manipulators have truly hijacked America's foreign policies in the Middle East.

Enough has been said and written about the influence of the neoconservatives and religious fundamentalists on the current Administration's policy trends. These American Ayatollahs, just like their counterparts in Iran and elsewhere, have their respective nation's best interests in mind, as they interpret those best interests, of course. The typically self-righteous and intolerant attitudes of these people need not be elaborated here.

Mixed with this group are individuals with radically different political ideologies, who have allied themselves with rightwing extremists in order to pursue their own agendas. This is not too dissimilar to the Islamic uprising and the return of Ayatollah Khomeini, accompanied by many leftwing ideologues and exiled intellectuals. Overzealous in the pursuit of their own ambitions, and fearing the coming crackdown on their ranks and file by the Islamists, this latter group managed to implement recent history's most consequential plan; the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran. By holding the Americans hostage, they forced Khomeini to the ironically compromising position of espousing the hostage taking and coming to terms with the militants. Assuring the safety of the American hostages prevented a certain American military attack on Iran, which would have put an end to Khomeini and the revolution and reinstated the monarchy. But, as we all know, the damage to the image was done. Nobody was the winner; the leftist radicals either fled the country, were executed or remained in prisons, Iran's image was irreparably damaged, and the United States found itself a new antagonist in the world stage.

In today's Washington, there is a not-so-new group of highly influential policy molders whose ideology is as different from the neocons, as was the Marxist militants' from the Islamic conservatives in Iran. But, unlike the case in Iran, these thinking heads have succeeded in planting themselves and their friends in important policymaking positions within the American Administration. Organizations such as American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, American Enterprise Institute, Washington Institute for Near East Studies, etc., etc., find America's most prestigious political neocons more than willing to address their groups. The Project for the New American Century group in Washington is among the most hawkish proponents of "preemptive" strategies, such as the invasion of Iraq, for which the group is duly credited. Today, these strategists are pointing their fingers at other supposedly "imminent threats" in the Middle East; Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

We don't have to shy away from the fact that the main motivation behind this group's agenda is none other than promoting Israel's interests. The plan is to defuse all potential oppositions to Israel's regional ambitions. Of course, there is nothing basically wrong with having dual loyalties, as do many Iranian Americans or Jewish Americans. There is, however, everything wrong with allowing tribal identities to contradict national loyalties.

This is exactly what observers and thinkers like Dr. Pakravan and Dr. Sahimi have tried to explore. If they, and in fact most observers, criticize Israel and its passionate defenders here for impeding a productive rapprochement between Iran and the United States, it is neither a sign of support for the current Iranian regime, nor tantamount to anti-Semitism.

If we follow Mr. Moshfegh's reasoning, criticizing Israel's policy makers, or agents of influence in this country, is tantamount to a criticism of Israel as a nation, therefore anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and by extension, un-American! By the same token, the entire planet Earth, outside the United States and Israel, must be anti-Semitic, as Israel is continuously condemned for its behavior by the world community. Needless to say, there are as many people of Jewish background in this country and elsewhere who oppose the Likudnic philosophies of Sharon and Netanyahu, as are those who support their policies. I believe my wife would strongly object if Mr. Moshfegh went as far as calling her a self-hating anti-Semite!

As far as Prince Reza Pahlavi is concerned, he is perhaps the only "Royalist" who sincerely believes in his own cause. He has nothing to gain personally, and possibly everything to lose. I have no doubt that his intentions are noble, which is more than I can say about the sycophant crowd around him, each with their private visions of grandeur.

Who knows; maybe Reza Pahlavi will return soon as Iran's new leader. Then, Bechtel will definitely stretch its lucrative reconstruction operations from Iraq into Iran. I am sure Dr. Moshfegh will be counting on becoming Bechtel's regional representative in the Middle East at that time. But, I wouldn't hold my breath!

About the author:
Kam Zarrabi is a writer and lecturer. He is the former president World Affairs Council of San Diego, North County.

Related Article:

The future of Iran, Reza Pahlavi's role, and the Israeli conspiracy theories -By Mohsen Moshfegh

Iran's Future: The Relevant and the Irrelevant? -Kam Zarrabi

Has Reza Pahlavi sold out Iran? -Mohsen Moshafegh

Is Pahlavi Pulling a Rajavi? -Iraj Pakravan

Conflict and catchphrases -Brian Whitaker, Guardian

... Payvand News - 5/12/03 ... --

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