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10/12/07

Truth and Lie at the Big Boys' Club: The Hegemony of Hypocritical Discourse

By Manouchehr Hosseinzadeh

 

When a fool lais, neither the fool nor the person who has been lied to, know of the lie.

 

When a merchant lies, only the merchant knows that he has lied.


When a charlatan lies, both the person who has been lied to and the charlatan know of the lie, but the charlatan still insist on lying.

 

When politician lies, not only he knows that has lied and his lie has been exposed, but he also knows that the other side knows that he knows that he haws lied.

 

When a hypocrite lies every one knows that every one know that the hypocrite he has lied, yet the liar insist on lying.

 

 

I don’t know if any of you can remember old public bathhouses (Hammam) in Iran. Well, this story takes place in that setting.

 

One early morning, in a village somewhere Iran, truth and lie independent of each other decided to go to hammom for a wash.  Truth went first, undressed and hung his cloths on the wall. Then came lie, he saw truth’s cloths hanging on the wall and got an idea. He went in, quickly washed himself and walked away dressed in truth’s cloths. Truth finished washing himself and went to get dressed and saw that his cloths were gone but lie’s cloths were still hanging on the wall. Naturally, truth refused to dress in lie’s cloths and remained naked. The legend is that since then lie dressed in truth cloths goes everywhere but naked truth is embaressed to go anywhere and remains mostly unseen. And so is the state of affairs in world politics these days.

 

Here is the big question. What is truth; one that is stated or the one that obvious? Is truth what history time and time again has proven to us or the one that is coming from megaphones of powerful? Which one, the one that dressed in truth cloths, or the one that is naked is the true truth. The answer is simple, lie is manufactured, and truth is self evident.  And this is why.

 

Years ago, during graduate work at School of Journalism at University of Missouri, we frequently discussed such journalistic principles as objectivity, free expression of ideas and free flow of information. Being the idealist that we were, we accepted these principles as divine models of civility and righteousness.  We learned about existential journalism and journalist’s blind loyalty to truth. We learned that journalists are eyes and ears of people in a world that is becoming increasingly complex. These principles were presented to us as undisputable properties of honest journalistic work and righteousness of academic setting.  Certainly in this intellectual climate of world’s oldest school of journalism these concepts had the divine merits and without exception. Proud of this valuable education (and still are,) we never thought that these ideas would be challenged in the same setting, and that there is a limit to honest intellectual exchange, that on some cases these ideas would be rejected as backward. Not until one of our classmate, a bright Sudanese student posed this question in one of the graduate seminars.

 

He asked:

 

What properties can distinguish an act of terror from other forms of violence? Is it the justness of cause that separate terrorism from legitimate resistance? If so, who will determine which cause is just and which is not? Has definition of terrorism anything to do with methods or the kind of weapon used?  If so, what is the difference between death by bombs that is dropped on innocent civilians and death of innocents that is caused by a bomb in the market? Has definition of terrorism anything to do with who is committing the act of violence?  If so, who has the right to kill others and who does not?

 

Our friend never received a straight answer to his questions, but for weeks in privet conversation among students and faculty he was criticized for putting the invasion of Granada and Panama and the downing of Iranian passenger jetliner by US navy in the same category. These two forms of violence are perceived differently, and this is why.

 

In the politics of international relation, there is a phenomenon that could be called the hegemony of discourse. That is, in dialectic of global issues, and in western media’s presentation of truth, there are realities that are absent while others are repeated frequently.  To be precise, those arguments that favor the West are repeated over and over, but those facts that rightfully challenge West’s assertion are absent.  More specifically all good is happening in West. This gives the impression that in this world there are those who are responsible, democratic and just and those who are not. Hence the west because of its moral superiority has the right and indeed the obligation to control the rest of world. This is why when the few members hegemonic club take a position or make a statement, ‘the world community’ has spoken. This is the hypocrite’s lie and on its face is racist, ethnocentric and above all false. Here are some examples;

 

  • In discussion and presentation of Iran’s nuclear program, Iran has been portrayed as irresponsible and aggressive therefore too dangerous to have nuclear know-how.  Never mind that over the past 200 years, Iran has never committed act of aggression against any country while has been the subject of violence by, Americans, British, Russians, Turks and Iraqis.  Absent from this distorted presentation of reality are the facts on stockpiled Israeli nuclear weapon, Israel’s repeated violence against neighbors and Palestinian people and US’s public threats.  The hegemonic discourse rarely includes systematic American violence against other countries, its’ violation of human right, its illegal occupation of another country and the fact that it is the only country that has used nuclear weapons and is developing new generation of them.

 

  • In reporting Palestinian Israeli conflict, often the news is limited to death and casualties and accompanied with assertions from Israeli or other sources referring to Palestinians as terrorist. Not once the causes of violence are mentioned. Not once there is reference to the fact that Palestinian struggle is aimed at regaining their homeland unjustly stolen from them. Not once, even as background the public is told that that Israel was a western creation and almost all its citizens have migrated from other parts of the world.  The result, in the absence a logical explanation and reason for Palestinian anger and frustration, the indigenous people of Palestine appear as mad criminals who enjoy violence.

 

  • Almost any child in Middle East who is old enough to think, knew before invasion of Iraq, that real reason behind US attack was oil. It had to be, for fifty years the United States had justified its presence in Persian Gulf as ‘to guarantee the flow of oil.’  The grand design of conspiracy between US and Israel was public knowledge and was discussed by the experts even before 9/11. Dick Chaney had traveled around Middle East to convince other countries to support US plan to invade Iraq. But hegemonic discourse circled only around reasons fabricated by Bush administration.  Even after invasion, when all justification for war proved to be false, when it became abundantly clear that Bush administration had intentionally misled the public, no one said anything about preplanned US, UK and Israel conspiracy to redraw Middle East map.  The hegemonic discourse had already inoculated public against use of the world ‘conspiracy’ by portraying those who forwarded such a notion as paranoid and irrational.  Why not, isn’t there enough evident to validate such theories? Weren’t enough documentation to prove that there indeed was conspiracy?  Even today, the hegemonic discourse defines success in Iraq as creating a democracy when in fact all efforts are aimed at guaranteeing US strategic position by giving it control over diminishing energy resources.  When the hegemonic discourse talks about pulling US troops out of Iraq, is not because occupation is wrong and illegal, it is to limit American casualties not death and dislocation of millions of Iraqis or total destruction of a country of 20 million.

 

  • Here is another example. I dare to say that Columbia University event in which Ahmadinejad was confronted with unusually hostile reception was staged to humiliate him and by the way of that embarrass Iran. It was in my opinion orchestrated by AIPAC in line with Israel’s wish to prepare the ground work to attack Iran. Daemonization of Ahmadinejad had started even before he arrives to New York, for he was certain to speak outside hegemonic discourse and that is what he did. In fact immediately after he was elected, hegemonic discourse began his character assassination by accusing him of being involved in taking Americans hostage. But that didn’t work. How often do you see his name mentioned in the western media without brining up his remarks on Holocaust and Israel?  Is there anything else to the man than his stand on Holocaust and opposition to Israel? Anywhere he spoke; in any interview he gave the same questions were asked to embarrass him. Hadn’t American journalists and public heard answers to those same questions over and over again. What was gained when Lee Bollinger the president of Columbia University on a queue from AIPAC, regurgitated the same fallacy that had been put in front of him. What form of intellectual enlightenment was achieved when he chose to violate every academic and intellectual principle, every diplomatic protocol and every norm of civility by repeating the same hostile questions instead of engaging him in a civil debate? Next day, the hegemonic discourse refused to discuss Bollinger’s violation of human decency. Instead from all argument that Ahmadinejad had forwarded, from all his conciliatory gestures (and there were many of them valid and important for debate) only his reference to homosexuals in Iran was brought up.  Would there have been the same outrage if instead of Ahmadinejad an Arab leader had visited Columbia University. Isn’t there far worse remarks on Holocaust in Arab media, history books, school textbooks.  Why wasn’t there any critic of Bollinger’s behavior who in contrast to Ahmadinejad’s calm, rational and civil performance tried hard to prove his loyalty to his masters?

 

I can give many more examples but I avoid it for the sake of limited space.

How can this happen, how can such obviously intentionally selected facts become the dominant discourse? How can lie dressed in truth’s cloths become global journalistic agenda? This is how.

 

First is shortsightedness our own leaders who do not allow development of trusted media in our country so that they can share the global stage and present the alternative view, to make mistakes, to fall and rise again.  They do not trust their own people and journalists not because our journalists are unable to do what the powerful western media does, but because of our leaders desire for self preservation. Otherwise towering tradition of reporting the truth, our journalist’s history of struggle to advance the cause of people, repeatedly at the cost of their own life, is an undeniable testimony to their ability. It is our own governments that have chained captive our journalists, these defenders of our voice in the world. Over and over our journalist, writers and intellectuals shown their loyalty to truth and unlike corporative, money driven counterparts in the West, have done more with their limited recourses.  It is tyranny that has tied our hands, silenced our voice and left us blind to defend ourselves against onslaught of colonial imperialism. It is the tyranny that has prevented our journalist to mature in bosom of our own people and not in foreign capitals.

 

Second are those intellectual, experts and opinion leader who either for their own name recognition or the opportunity to work in west have betrayed their own people.  I am not talking about bankrupted groups such as Mujahedin Khalq who spend the night in bed with enemies of our people and in the morning cry freedom. Their account is different.  They are sentenced to the destiny of decaying in the arms of those who call them terrorist yet protect them to use in another day.  I am talking about those of us who are willing participate in the hegemonic discourse to further our career in west. How often we have felt obligated to apologize for our critique of west in defense of our right by expressing our dismay all that is related to our political apparatus and our achievements is bad and must be thrown away. Certainly we have problem with our leaders, certainly we are angry about their oppressive behavior, corruption and the unjust treatment of our sisters, mothers and wives, certainly we oppose their mistake and their policies. But have we ever considered the possibility that they may have done something right?  Iran has been that valuable peace of real state that countries near and far have tried to grab and dominate, by force and by economic pressure. Looking at the resume of Islamic Republic we see many wrongs, yet it is the Islamic Republic that has returned Iran’s independence back to her. It is the Islamic Republic that for the first time in our modern history has made serious attempt to ensure Iran’s territorial integrity by developing our own defense industry. It is the Islamic Republic that has stood up to hegemony to protect our right to scientific progress. Do we dare to talk about this?

 

Third is the overtly undemocratic and unjust global structure that marginalized the vast majority world population. Systems that allow defining the world based on the centrality of westerners views and interests. Institutions such as UN Security Council, World Bank, vast network of powerful corporate entities, the imperialistic financial institutions are there to serve the interests of hegemons and are belatedly undemocratic, ethnocentric and aggressive.  Every thing is defined according to the west, designed around their cultural properties, shaped to facilitate their advance. Why shouldn’t we angrily reject the proposition that Iranians are divided into pro and anti American? Like many other countries Iran is a complex composite of nationalities and political tendencies.  Yes they do have problem with their leader, but that is something between them and their leaders and they have proven that they can prevail in their struggle against oppression. They do not need others to do the job, especially those who throughout history labeled them backward.

 

So my friends next time anyone ridiculed the idea of western hegemony, aggression and conspiracy, next time the hegemonic discourse claims violence to be the middle easterners second nature, next time when someone portrays our people as incapable of dealing with their own problem, next time when the west is described as objective arbiter for peace and the promoter of democracy, please give them this, the 137 year resume of western violence, interference and aggression in the Middle East.

 

 

2006: Israel intensifies bombings of Lebanon. Hezbollah hits an Israeli warship blockading the Lebanese coast, killing four sailors.

2006: Israel broadens the Gaza offensive, sending troops and tanks into the eastern part of the strip. The Hamas-led government calls for a cease-fire but fails to offer the soldier's release. Israel refuses. Israeli air force drops a quarter-ton bomb on a home in an attempt to assassinate top Hamas fugitives. Nine members of a Palestinian family are killed.

2005: U.S. occupation military police personnel mentally and physically abused (tortured) detainees in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.  By videotaping and photographing them nude, both male and female, as well as intimidating them with military dogs,

2003: Falsely accusing Iraq for position of weapons of mass destruction, US Brittan and handful of countries attack and occupy Iraq.

 

2002: Israel launches military raids against the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank .in an attempt destroys the Palestinian Authority and its economic and civilian infrastructure.

2002: U.S. president George W. Bush In his first State of the Union address, warns that the proliferation of long-range missiles, reported to be under development Iraq, and North Korea constitute a as great a danger to the U.S. calling these countries "axis of evil."

 

1998: The U.S. government launched Radio Free Iraq and RFE/RL Iran in attempt to undermine governments of these countries.

1998: U.S. and U.K. bomb Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even though Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.

 

1998: U.S. destroys factory producing half of Sudan's pharmaceutical supply, claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and that factory was involved in chemical warfare. Evidence for the chemical warfare charge widely disputed.

 

1995: The U.S. imposes oil and trade sanctions on Iran for allegedly sponsoring terrorism, seeking to acquire nuclear arms, and promoting hostility to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Iran denies the charges

 

1993: The U.S. bombs Iraqi intelligence headquarters after a report that the Iraqis have planned to assassinate former president George Bush on his trip to Kuwait in April 1993.

1993: U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self‑defense against an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months earlier.

 

1991: U.S. forces are permanently based in Saudi Arabia but are asked to leave after US invade Iraq.

 

1991: Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq. U.S. and Britain block all attempts to lift them. Hundreds of thousands die. Though Security Council had stated that sanctions were to be lifted once Saddam Hussein's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended, Washington makes it known that the sanctions would remain as long as Saddam remains in power.

 

1991: As emigration restrictions are loosened in Russia and former Eastern bloc countries, about a million Jews arrive in Israel.


1991: Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Japan, and much of Europe and the Middle East condemn the attack and resolve to drive the invaders out..

 1991: Insisting on an Arab solution to the Persian Gulf crisis (which began in August 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait), King Hussein of Jordan and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat spearhead peace initiatives, but are regarded as appeasers of Iraq's Saddam Hussein by the West and the US's Gulf Arab allies. Both King Hussein and Yasser Arafat suffer global diplomatic isolation..

1991: The war with Iran from 1980-88 and the recent Gulf War, together with the subsequent imposition of international sanctions, has a devastating effect on Iraq's economy and society. UN reports describe living standards as being at subsistence level. Some 47,000 children under 5 years of age are believed to have died from war-related causes following the Gulf War alone.

1991: In what is called Operation Solomon, a dramatic airlift, brings 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to live in Israel.


1991:  In the first round of general elections in Algeria in 1991, the FIS wins 188 seats outright and seems sure to obtain an absolute majority in the second round. But shortly after, instructed France and other western countries, The National People's Assembly is dissolved by presidential decree, and a military council takes power. The FIS election victory and response by the Algerian state opens a debate in the Middle East and the West on whether Islamists should be allowed to come to power democratically.

1990: U.S. rejects any diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and leads international coalition in war against Iraq. Civilian infrastructure targeted.  U.S. refuses to aid post‑war uprisings by Shi'ites in the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter flights.

.

1988: U.S. vetoes 3 Security Council resolutions condemning continuing Israeli occupation of and repression in Lebanon.

 

1988: The USS Vincennes opens fire on an Iranian civilian airbus as it crosses the Gulf on a scheduled flight and kills 290 passengers.

 

1987: As Iraqi attack on ships carrying Iranian oil and Iranian response escalates U.S. sends its navy to protect Kuwaiti oil under American flag.

 

1986: Following Berlin bombing of a nightclub US blames Qaddafi for the attack and lunches military strike against  Libyan patrol boats, and shore installations killing 72.

 

1986: U.S. provides military intelligence to Saddam in an attempt to block Iran’s victory.

 

1984: While Iraq uses chemical weapons against Iran, U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq and removes Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism allowing U.S. arms to be transferred to Iraq.

 

1983: U.S. troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force; intervene on Christian side and USS New Jersey bombarding Hezbollah positions.

 

1982: U.S. chooses not to invoke its laws prohibiting Israeli use of U.S. weapons except in self‑defense.

 

1982: Israel invades Lebanon, cutting off food and water in Beirut.

 

1982: Lebanese Christian Maronite president-elect Bashir Gemayel is assassinated. Two days later, Christian militias allied with Israel against the PLO enter the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut and massacre some 800 unarmed Palestinians. The Kahan Commission (an Israeli commission of inquiry) finds that Defense Minister Ariel Sharon bears personal responsibility.

 

1982: U.S. vetoes several Security Council resolutions condemning the invasion.

 

1982: U.S. gives "green light" to Israeli invasion of Lebanon, killing some 17 thousand civilians.

 

1981: U.S. holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya in waters claimed by Libya with the clear purpose of provoking Qaddafi and U.S. shoots down two Libyan planes.

 

1980: Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any Security Council action to condemn the invasion.

 

1979: The Soviet military invades and occupies Afghanistan, beginning a decade-long conflict.

 

1979: Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah. U.S. tells Shah it supports him "without reservation" and urges him to act forcefully. Until the last minute, U.S. tries to organize military coup to save the Shah, but to no avail.

 

1975: U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

 

1972: U.S. blocks Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat's efforts to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

 

1967: U.S. blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce SC Resolution 242, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war.

 

1963: U.S. supports coup by Iraqi Ba'ath party and reportedly gives them names of communists to murder, which they do with vigor

 

1962:  U.S. unsuccessfully attempts assassination of Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassim.

 

1958: U.S. troops land in Lebanon to preserve "stability".

 

1956: Israel, Britain, and France attack Egypt after the Egyptian president Nassar nationalizes the Suez Canal. They conspire to recapture the canal they once owned, with Israeli assistance. Israel invades Sinai, and Britain and France "intervene" and occupy the canal zone. They withdraw under Soviet pressure.

1954: Algeria begins an 8 year bloody War of Independence against the French.

 

1953: British and American intelligence conducts a joint operation to overthrow Mossadeq. Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, the leader of military coup, becomes prime minister.


1950: Israel proclaims Jerusalem its capital despite a 1947 partition plan that declares Jerusalem an international zone.

 

1949: CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of Syria.

 

1948: Britain to declare its mandate over Palestine unworkable. Britain makes plans for its withdrawal and leaves the question of what to do with Palestine to the UN. In August, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommends the creation of independent Jewish and Arab states. The plan divides Palestine into roughly equal halves, with Jerusalem and religiously significant surrounding sites under the control of a separate international authority. The report also calls for the Arab and Jewish states to form a united economic bloc. The Jews accept this plan, but the Palestinian Arabs do not. The partition plan is approved by majority vote of the UN General Assembly on November 29. Britain completes its withdrawal from Palestine in early May 1948, and on May 14, the State of Israel is declared, with David Ben-Gurion as its first prime minister. Both the United States and the USSR immediately recognize the new state. In support of the Palestinian Arabs, however, neighboring Arab nations -- Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Syria -- declare war on Israel the next day. The Israelis repel the Arab attack. The 1948 War, also known as the Israeli War of Independence, ends in July 1949. Israel signs separate cease-fire agreements with Transjordan, Syria, and Egypt and now controls about 70 percent of what had been Mandatory Palestine. Egypt holds the Gaza Strip, Jordan annexes the West Bank, and Syria retains the Golan Heights.

 

1946: Iran complains to the newly formed UN Security Council, demanding that Soviet troops withdraw. Soviet troops, originally positioned in northern Iran in 1942 to prevent a possible German move and to protect Iranian oil, intentionally ignore an agreement that calls for the removal of all occupying forces by 1943. They stall as they debate whether they can carve out of the oil-rich northern Iranian province of Azerbaijan an autonomous entity that would be subject to their control. The Soviets ultimately leave after the U.S. threatens military action. The incident contributes to the start of the Cold War.

 

1942: Britain forces Egypt's King Faruq to appoint a pro-British prime minister.

 

1941: Allied powers invade Iran and force Reza Shah Pahlevi into exile. Iran had declared its neutrality at the start of World War II, but Britain is upset at Iran's refusal of Allied demands to expel all German nationals from the country. (Germany had been Iran's largest trading partner prior to the war.) After Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, the Allies desperately need to create a transportation route across Iran and into the Soviet Union, and on August 26, Britain and the Soviet Union simultaneously invade Iran. On September 16, with the collapse of the resistance, Reza Shah Pahlevi abdicates the throne to his son, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi. Exiled to Mauritius and then to Johannesburg, South Africa, Reza Shah dies in July 1944

 

1941: Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali attempts a coup, which results in rebellion and an invasion of British troops.

Strong anti-British sentiment and an increasingly powerful urban nationalist movement come together to spark Prime Minister Ali's 1941 coup attempt. The coup is ultimately unsuccessful in ousting the monarchy, but the landing of British forces completely divorces Iraq's monarchy from the nationalist group

 

1922: The League of Nations issues a mandate to Britain to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.

 

1920: Former Ottoman-controlled territories in the Middle East are assigned as mandates to Allied powers.  At the post-World War I San Remo Conference in Italy, former Ottoman-controlled territories are allotted as "mandates" among the victorious Allies. Established as part of the Treaty of Versailles, the mandate system entrusts Britain and France with the task of governing the territories until it is determined that they are ready for independence. Syria and Lebanon are assigned to France, Palestine and Iraq to Britain. Transjordan is created from the Palestine Mandate in 1921.

 

1917: In the Balfour Declaration, the British promise to help create a national home for the Jews in Palestine. Since the late 1800s, Zionists had wanted a Jewish state to be created in Palestine, part of the Jews' holy land. Though the wording of the Balfour Declaration is vague, it implies that Great Britain will support the Zionists in establishing such a state. "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." The Arabs perceive the Balfour Declaration as an act of British dishonesty. They believe the British had promised them to help with the establishment of a united Arab country reaching from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf in return for their support during World War I.

 

1907: Iran is divided into three zones, each one controlled by a different country. To protect their economic interests in the region, Russia and Great Britain divide Persia into three zones. Russia controls the northern zone, Great Britain the southern zone, and the Shah of Iran controls the neutral middle zone.

 

1882: British troops take control of Egypt. After Egyptian nationalist supporters rebel against Egypt's British-backed government, British troops attack and occupy Alexandria before defeating opposition forces. Britain is primarily interested in protecting its investment in the Suez Canal, a crucial communication and transportation link to British colonies in India.

 

1881: The French conquer and colonize Tunisia. Tunisia will not regain independence until the 1950s.

 

1871: Britain maintains control over several independent emirates of the Persian Gulf.

 

1830: France conquers and colonizes Algeria.

 

 

About the author: Manouchehr Hosseinzadeh is an Iranian journalist living in United States.

... Payvand News - 10/12/07 ... --



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