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IRAN'S OPTIONS: Roll over and capitulate, stand up in daring defiance, or stay at the poker table

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

If the choice were to be between the first two options, good Islamic tradition would point to the direction that the Iranian President Ahmadinejad seems to have adopted. It's been attributed to Imam Ali, the Prophet of Islam's son-in-law and nephew, as having said that there are two days in which one should not worry about dying; the day that one is destined to die, and the day that one is not.


In this fatalistic tradition, Iran will never choose to cower and bow to pressure and insult; pagan, Zoroastrian, Islamic or secular, that has never been the Iranian way. So, what remains of Iran's alternatives is the choice between arrogant defiance and shrewd diplomacy. It seems as though Iran is trying both options at the same time; the former being integrated as a tool for the latter.


Unless the world has gone completely insane, there's got to be much that is going on, at least one would hope, behind all the threats and saber rattling we hear about. So, let us just pretend we are privy to a very secret meeting between George W. Bush and Iran's President Ahmadinejad.


As the curtain rises, we see the two presidents sitting across each other. To Mr. Bush's right sits Dick Cheney, and next to him is Donald Rumsfeld. On his left are Condy Rice, Porter Goss and General Pace.


To everybody's surprise, Mr. Ahmadinejad is alone. President Bush looks inquisitively over to Condy Rice, who smilingly tells the President, "Don't worry; Mr. Ahmadinejad speaks fluent English and doesn't need any handlers, either."


Bush- But I thought.... You mean he can speak for the mullahs, as well?

Rice- Apparently so, or they wouldn't have sent him here alone.

Bush- Well, in that case, I am going to dismiss you all and tackle him man-to-man.


The curtain rises again and we find the two heads of state sitting comfortably on large recliners facing each other.  For this dialogue, we shall refer to Ahmadinejad as A, and Mr. Bush as B.


B- Well, President Ahmadinejad, I want to thank you for accepting our invitation. I hope you understand why we had to arrange everything in complete secrecy. Our media people would have had a field day if they knew what was going on.


A- I know. Having a crazed president of a terrorist nation here in the White House for secret talks would have been the scandal of the century.


B- You do understand the general public's perception that we have to deal with here.


A- Yes; thanks to your and your Zionist friend's propaganda machine. I am sure you are also aware of the general public's perception about yourself and your mission elsewhere in the world.


B- O, yes; I've heard.


A- So, let's assume that I am not really a crazed maniac, and I will assume you are really not an ...... what everyone in the world thinks you are.


B- It's a deal. You know, this war on terror is beginning to look like a never ending nightmare. It's not serving our interest; in fact, we seem to be serving your regional interests, instead.


A- You are right. We should thank you for getting rid of the Taleban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. They were more of a threat to us than they ever were to your country.


B- Don't thank me; I certainly didn't intend it to go that way.


A- Well, you keep saying you want to promote democracy and freedom in the region. Fine, we'd love for you to succeed. What do you think a democracy in Iraq would mean? You'll have exactly what we want in Iraq; a Shi'ite dominated Islamic republic. I'd even encourage you to spread some of your democracy in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. You just witnessed the results of the first ever democratic elections in Palestine; well, their people have spoken.


B- Let's not kid ourselves: what we really want is a compliant regime that listens to us. We are not going to let go of our control over all that oil. I am sure you realize that. And, as far as Hamas winning the elections, well, as I said in my news conference, we won't deal with parties that threaten our peace process.


A- Well, so much for democracy. Regarding the peace process, as long as the Israelis dictate your policies, your Roadmap to Peace leads only to new or expanded settlements in the West Bank. Thanks to your complicity towards Israel, this Hamas victory plays into the Israeli hands perfectly; more justifications to do whatever they want to do.


B- Listen, we have a lot at stake in the Middle East. We must have control over the Gulf oil, not just for our own needs, but to keep it from those who are our future competitors, like China.


A- But, things have changed and are changing even more rapidly now. We predict that what might guarantee your control over the Persian Gulf oil, and I mean the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf as you said, is what you are ready to offer in exchange. Regional instability and insecurity used to be the tools of the trade in the past decades; the old British way: create division, discord and chaos, and rule!


B- Do you blame us for doing whatever we can to secure our own interests?


A- Not at all. But, I hope you also understand that we will do whatever we can to secure ours.


B- So, is this your invitation to open conflict or combat?


A- Again, no. I am not talking about a sporting event where the stronger and the faster wins the purse. The rules of the game are also changing fast. I believe there are grounds for optimism, where your interests and ours could both be served. You have a lot to offer and so do we, and we don't need middlemen and agitators to come between us.


B- It ain't going to be easy with all the bad blood between us. You know this is my last term in office here. There is only so much I could do. Perhaps you could deal better with Hillary and the Democrats.


A- No, thank you very much. You may not believe this, but our hope is for the Republican Party to remain in power.  You guys at least know what kind of a mess you have gotten yourselves into and what forces steered you in that direction.  Just get rid of those influence peddlers and Zionist agents in those think tanks and advisory groups around you.


B- You continue to refer to Israel as the Zionist Entity; why don't you wake up to the reality that Israel is a recognized state and doesn't need your permission or approval for its legitimacy?


A- I know it sounds stupid; I agree. But, tell me why you and others in your administration, in fact any American administration, are so sensitive about the issue of Israel; why all this concern?


B- Don't ask me a silly question. It is like asking me why we like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or why cheddar cheese on hot apple pie tastes so good: it is simply an old tradition, my friend, something you don't need to question.


A- When was the last time you stood on the scale and weighed yourself. Perhaps you should question your dietary habits! Your traditional habits might be killing you, my friend.


B- I know what you are getting at. It won't be easy and can't be done overnight. Just listen to our mass media, news, entertainment, everything; even in our Congress you won't hear any serious criticism of the Israelis. If you are not 100% supportive of Israel, you are labeled as an anti-Semite. And, anti-Semitism has been taken to mean anti-Americanism and unpatriotic. If you are Jewish and dare to criticize Israel's policies, you are called a self-hating Jew!


A- Is that why your Democratic rivals had such a show of support for Israel at the AIPAC convention last year?


B- To get elected or reelected you need the financial and propaganda support of that lobby. You cannot cross them once you are in office, either: your ship will be torpedoed and sunk. I don't really believe Hillary Clinton is an Israel worshiper at all. But, you don't become a senator from New York or hope to run for president without a show of support and devotion to Israel. Even if they know you don't mean it, they won't let you renege on your campaign pledges once you get in.


A- Believe me, I understand all that.


B- Now, it's your turn to tell me why your state is championing the Palestinian cause. You are not Arabs, and not even of the same sect of Islam as the Palestinians. They have nothing to offer you but headaches and liabilities.


A- What has Israel ever offered the U.S. for all the blind and passionate support it has been receiving; anything other than headaches and liabilities? The difference is, as you admit, you are not even able to break away from this costly, passionate, love affair, while for us supporting the Palestinian's cause does actually serves our regional interests, like putting pressure on Israel or gaining support among the Moslem masses in some of those Islamic states you refer to as "friendly" or "moderate", which is a big joke.


B- But, you are assisting and supporting terrorist groups like the Hizbollah and Hamas. 


A- We don't think they are terrorist organizations, neither does most of the world. Well, ok; let's say we are supporting terror groups. But, aren't you and many of your congressmen supporting the MEK, the group that your own administration has labeled as a terrorist? They are a thorn on our side, just as the Hizbollah and Hamas are thorns on Israel's side.


B- But, Hamas terrorists kill innocent civilians in the name of a political cause.


A- You are right; attacking non-combatants for military or political gains is an act of terrorism. How many non-combatant civilians do you think have died in Afghanistan and Iraq so far?


B- Now, wait just a minute; collateral damage is different from intentionally targeting innocent non-combatants.


A- You mean like intentionally targeting non-combatant populations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima?


B- That was war, damn it; when two nations are at war, there are no non-combatant populations.


A- I don't know if you have heard this story about Alexander the Great. A pirate who was terrorizing the seafarers in the Persian Gulf was captured and brought to Alexander for punishment. In his own defense the pirate said: "I have killed a dozen sailors and plundered a few ships; that makes me a criminal. You have killed tens of thousands and plundered a dozen lands; that makes you a conquering hero."



B- But, why do you think you need the support of the likes of Hamas or Hizbollah, anyway; for what?


A- Just in case you decide or, I should say, Israel decides, to attack us, we are making sure that you'll have hell to pay.


B- Is this also why you are pushing for your own oil bourse?


A- Yes; and, why shouldn't we? You hurt our economy; we'll try to hurt yours.


B- You don't seem to be bothered much by our military capabilities. You are either a fool or honestly believe your Allah will protect you.


A- Not really. I am a practical man. I've figured if you were sure you could do it, you would have attempted by now! In fact, I believe your basic dilemma is trying to keep your best friend, Israel, from dragging you into the worst mess you have ever been in. 


B- Tell me honestly, are you trying to make a nuccular weapon?


A- Why should I reveal to you a critically vital secret that would put my country's strategic defenses in jeopardy? If I say yes, we are developing a nuclear bomb, it would give you and the Israelis a legitimate reason to put us under international pressure. If I say no, the Israelis will become emboldened to strike at our facilities with greater confidence. I think ambiguity here is our best policy; keep on guessing.


B- Do you really trust the Chinese or the Russians to back you up in case the Security Council decides to impose sanctions on Iran?


A- Listen; China will do what it feels would best serve its interests, as would Russia. I know in trying to protect us with their vote or veto power, they will attempt to gain a better bargaining position against us in any future dealings. Therefore, the more pressure you and the EU put us under, the more we'd become indebted to their help at the Security Council. I don't particularly like that.


B- We know that it will be a matter of time before you learn how to make a nuccular bomb.


A- Well, we officially deny that allegation, and the IAEA has found no evidence that our nuclear projects are headed that way.


B- I think you are lying now and cannot be trusted.


A- This is not lying; it is insisting on remaining ambiguous. I actually like the idea that you are not sure whether we are lying about our nuclear programs or not. Our officially stated position is, and has always been, that we are only interested in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. By the way; you actually lied during your news conference the other day while responding to a journalist's question about our nuclear program. You said Iran says it wants to make nuccular bombs and we, meaning the West, doesn't agree. When was the last time you heard or read any Iranian official, including me, say that Iran wants to make an atom bomb?


B- I said that figuratively; you understand?


A- No, I don't understand. You stood there and lied to a group of journalists.


B- Let's cut through the chase here. What will it take for you to have us or the Russians provide you with the nuccular fuel rods for your nuccular power plants?


A- Why should we have to? We have the guaranteed right under the NPT to be able to make our own fuel?


B- Simple; because that way your nuccular programs will become perfectly transparent and not subject to our suspicions.


A- But, is that what serves our best interests? You are asking us to give up our legal rights. Well; what do we get in exchange? You asked what it would take for Iran to agree to those terms. Well, let's start by signing a non-aggression treaty and a security pact between us, then subjecting your ally, Israel, to inspection and nuclear disarmament, just like Libya did, and finally by lifting the economic sanctions that have been hurting our economy.


B- That's a tall order. Correct me if I am wrong: You want us to basically admit that we've been wrong all along about our dealings with your country. How likely do you think that would be even if I agreed with you?


A- Look at the alternative: You cannot succeed by force; and any political or economic pressure would force us closer to your current and future rivals in the East. You need our assistance and support in Afghanistan and Iraq, and once you curb the Israelis' belligerence in pushing their regional agendas, there will be no reason for us to continue this hostile rhetoric against each other. Make peace with us and declare victory for America: a win-win situation.


B- Don't quote me, please; but, you do make some sense. However, I don't believe I have the time needed for retracting the "axis of evil" thing I called your country four years ago, which I have repeated over and over again to this day.


A- We know where your speechwriters come from and who they work for. I am sure you do, too.


B- Well; what if the Democrats come to power in our next elections?


A- Now you understand why we insist on retaining our ambiguity regarding our defense capabilities.


B- So, what's next? I am told you are flying back home right after this meeting; the meeting that never took place.


A- I never left Tehran; you must have been dreaming, my friend!



... Payvand News - 1/27/06 ... --

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