In response to a young reader who had little patience to delve into my "boringly lengthy writings", as he lamented, I am beginning this article with a condensed outline of the Middle East picture as it is presented here in the United States for public consumption.
Iran is a dangerous country run by crazed zealots. Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons to destroy our staunch ally, Israel, and to frighten our other friendly allies in that oil-rich region in order to blackmail the industrialized world.
Our friendly "good" Arabs must purchase major quantities of arms from us and ask for our support to protect themselves from the mad mullahs. They have plenty of oil money to pay for all that.
Arming the Arabs would alarm our main partner, Israel, which means that we must give Israel our most advanced arms to maintain its military superiority, especially against the formidable Iranian threat.
The United States must maintain a viable force in the region to watch out for any eventuality.
The American democracy requires public's approval for major policy decisions. It is imperative, therefore, that the news and entertainment media keep public's focus on the right track.
Item "B" means that the oil producing Arab countries must purchase billions of dollars worth of American arms, thus returning to us the moneys we pay them for our crude oil; and that is very nice. And since the arms they purchase require operational expertise, they need our military bases and the staff and trainers to manage that equipment. For these services, we are compensated well; and that is nice, too!
Item "C" requires the Congress to approve the budget for this military aid to Israel, this year alone amounting to some 30 billion dollars. Israel, of course, can and often does, sell at least a portion of this "gift" at a substantial markup to other countries as it sees fit.
Item "D" implies that the military spending must be beefed up regularly, this year over one-half trillion dollars, ensuring the health and prosperity of our military-industrial complex.
Item "E" has worked successfully like a well-oiled machine, only requiring minor maintenance, such as the annual AIPAC gatherings in Washington DC, or visits by the Israeli leadership.
Item "A" means that Iran's portrayal as a danger to the region and as a global menace serves as the necessary catalyst to facilitate items "B" through "E".
Enough said: now let us enter the main article.
Like most Iranians, Iranian Americans or even non Iranians, who have been looking forward to a more normalized and "civilized" relationship between Iran and the United States, I also have a tendency to read and interpret the signals from both sides optimistically. I, however, try to hone down my optimism cautiously enough not to enter into the domain of wishful thinking.
In the responses I have received to my latest two or three articles, some readers have taken issue with my critique of President Obama's Norooz message to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian people. While most analysts of US/Iran relations see the message as a conciliatory, even groundbreaking, outreach by the new American administration toward Iran, I have not contented myself by looking at it through rose-colored glasses. In my view, the message, in and by itself, sounded as a continuation of the previous administration's self-righteously indignant approach, albeit in a more condescending tone, as a superior admonishing an underling. In his Norooz message, the President warned Iran that it cannot "take its rightful place in the community of nations....... through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
What did Mr. Obama mean exactly by admonishing Iran to abandon the "terror or arms" method and, instead, adopt "peaceful" actions in order to join the community of nations? You don't have to be particularly fond of the Islamic Republic to interpret this message as quite presumptuously and unfairly accusatory.
Yes, the mere fact that Mr. Obama even bothered to send a New Year's message to Iran and to refer to the country as the "Islamic Republic of Iran" was a departure from the Republican administration's inflexibly arrogant attitude. But to interpret Mr. Obama's statement quoted above, and to deliberately overlook the accusatory phrase that clearly implicates Iran with terrorism (highlighted in the above paragraph), is an act of self-deception.
In this regard, I do disagree with many respected colleagues, such as Dr. Trita Parsi and Professor Mohammad Sahimi and many others, who have emphasized the positive tone of Obama's message to Iran.
However, in a much more important regard, we are all in agreement that President Obama does quite genuinely desire to open a conciliatory dialogue with the Islamic Republic; I wouldn't doubt that for one second.
Can he do it, and how, are the questions!
In that regard, there are some truths that should be acknowledged before we could build up any high hopes for a sea change in America's Middle East policies, particularly with respect to Iran.
Having managed to firmly and inextricably establish itself as America's indispensable ally in the Middle East, the power and influence of Israel and its lobby (AIPAC) over the Congress of the United States cannot be denied or wished away anytime soon.
The Israeli regime finds it against the interests of the Jewish state for Iran to lose its status within the American government as a terrorist state bent on the destruction of Israel
If the United States were to redress its policies in the Middle East in order to serve America's best interests, new policies which the Jewish state might view as detrimental to its own agendas, the risk to America's interests and security in the region might prove prohibitively great.
Certain definitions and parameters that have entered the official policy manuals during the previous administrations cannot easily or quickly be amended or overturned. These include definitions for terrorism or what groups are regarded as terrorists or supporters of international terrorism. Other examples include the definition and classification of states or groups as friendly, moderate, or democratic, versus rogue, extremist or dictatorial.
It does not take a genius or a gifted visionary in politics to see that Israel's antagonists, i.e., groups or countries that Israel regards as active or even potential antagonists that resist or oppose its agendas, become classified as terrorist groups and supporters of international terrorism by the American administrations. This pattern is not new and not likely to change even if it were to be demonstrated that Israel is hardly in a moral position to judge how terrorism, barbarism or defiance of international law should be defined.
Under the established nomenclature and based on the logic, or illogic, stated above, the Lebanese Shi'a party, Hezbollah, is a terrorist group, as is the democratically elected Palestinian group, Hamas. Iran is openly and admittedly supportive of both groups. Therefore, Iran is, by extension, officially classified by the State Department as a state supporter of terrorism.
Unless the formal nomenclature is amended, the new administration has no option but to adhere to the official finding of the State Department and its most recent report accusing Iran of continuing to be the biggest source cause of international terrorism. This status will not and cannot change unless the status of groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas is changed. How likely is that? The readers might find it disgustingly clear that no change is in the horizon by simply following AIPAC's annual proceedings in Washington, D.C.
So, while Mr. Obama and even Hillary Clinton might have it in their hearts to clear the path for a rapprochement with Iran, the State Department comes out with such an accusatory report and, at the same time, a bill championed by the likes of Joe Lieberman and fellow Zionists is introduced to the Senate to tighten the economic noose around Iran's neck and to create a literal blockade against the importation of gasoline - a lifeline for Iran, so dependent on gasoline imports.
In my opinion, tormenting an entire nation while showing a wilted olive branch as a gesture of conciliation can hardly be viewed as a positive development. Yes, to paraphrase what Malcolm X said once, when a dagger is in your back six inches deep, pulling it out a couple of inches is an "improvement"; but you still have a dagger stuck in your back!
Have I lost all hope for an improvement of relations between the United States and Iran? No, not at all.
I do believe that the Obama administration is hoping to open a productive dialogue with the Iranian government. The effort is going to be an uphill battle, not as much because of opposition by Iran's radical hardliners, but against our own domestic naysayers, the neocons and their Zionist co-conspirators.
Bringing such figures as Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross into the fold as Israel's watchdogs could be a signal to the Israeli regime that the Jewish state's primary concerns and interests will be well protected, no matter what arrangements are entered into with Iran. Unless Israel is satisfied that its agendas, interests and favored status remain guaranteed, nothing the Obama administration can do for an opening with Iran will materialize.
As utterly degrading and embarrassing as it is, no one should be surprised that our cowardly and intimidated politicians in both political parties feel obligated to pay homage to the Israel lobby and to renew their pledge of support at the annual AIPAC events in Washington. And it did not surprise me to hear Senator John Kerry vow to expedite another 30 billion-dollar military aid to poor little defenseless Jewish state - he likes to keep his job just like all the others.
Then we also have the messianic sociopath, Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel organization, who in his zeal to bring about his peculiar interpretation of the Book of Revelation, wants to see Israel's enemies wiped off the face of the earth to pave the way for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. His utter hatred of the Islamic faith and all Moslems sound like music in the ears of AIPAC Zionists, even though none among them would regard this pompous maniac as a man of vision or integrity. Sadly, madmen like John Hagee do have an inordinate influence over the innocently ignorant masses that flock like herds of cattle into his ministries, donate money and pressure their respective elected officials in Washington, much to the delight of the Israel-firsters. Their next march on the Capitol is due later in July this year.
A combination of intimidation, political influence peddling, control over the news and entertainment media, plus the American public's sheepish ignorance of world affairs and, above all, the ability to extort or blackmail the government of the United States, help the momentum of the pro Zionist activists alive.
An article written be Paul Craig Roberts, Criminalizing Criticism of Israel, appearing in the web site, counterpunch.com on May 7, 2009, should be requited reading for every adult American with an IQ over 110!
For nearly thirty years now, I have maintained that the pragmatic interests of the United States and Iran are not mutually exclusive. Pragmatic interests do not include ideological zealotries, passionate love affairs or irrational attachments. The United States remains a global leader in every sphere of concern, at the same time that Iran has proven itself to be a rising regional power worthy of serious reckoning. The rise of Iran's power and regional influence did not come about at the expense of America's pragmatic best interests. This is contrary to the prevailing politically motivated and, for the most part, Israeli-driven propaganda we have been inundated with since the so-called war on terror.
A true war on terror in response to the events of 9-11 would have been a limited, concentrated action aimed at specific targets and against a handful few who were responsible for that event. In that effort, Iran would have gladly cooperated with the United States to eradicate the source of terrorism - Al Gha'eda - that had already declared its animosity toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran did exactly that later in 2001, before President George W. Bush announced Iran as a member of the axis of evil in his State of the Union address in 2002! The genius who had so shrewdly inserted that ridiculous phrase into the President's speech was the Jewish Canadian import, David Frum, who is now a member in good standing in several rightwing, neoconservative and Zionist organizations.
I cannot believe, by any stretch of my imagination, that President Obama and others around him are unaware of the realities on the ground. These realities are pressing ever harder to burst into the open. But as long as America's security and strategic best interests are so cunningly dressed to appear inseparable from what suits Israel best, the Obama administration can neither broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, nor engage Iran in a meaningful dialogue toward a mutually beneficial cooperation.
When, how and at what cost will this parasitic attachment be cut off? While we await the answer, any attempt at a rapprochement with Iran must be safeguarded by pampering and feeding the little monster to keep the troublemaker from sabotaging the whole process.
We all wish you courage, stamina and a great deal of luck, Mr. President. May you have the will, wisdom, courage and the perseverance to break this vicious circle.
Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to , with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: www.intellectualdiscourse.com.
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