Iran News ...



By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse





For seven years I have devoted my Home Page specifically to addressing the political entanglements between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States, under the umbrella title of Iran in the Crosshairs and at the Crossroads.  


I have tried to keep my focus on the analytical aspects of this mutually counterproductive confrontation as objectively and dispassionately as I could. This was not always easy for me or for most of us immigrant citizens in America with emotional embers of the culture we left behind still warm in our hearts.


In my opinion personal affiliations, interests or sympathies should not be allowed to overwhelm reason and logic or to distort the sense of balance and honesty.  In appraising the sociopolitical situation in Iran, I never allowed what suited me personally to influence my judgment.  Neither was I ever perturbed by the insinuating and sometimes insulting reactions to my articles by certain readers who either lacked sufficient literacy to understand the text, or the attention span to read through them before passing judgment on my views.


In contrast, honest criticism by people of substance and good will is not only welcome; it is an essential contributing factor in any intelligent discourse. Sometimes such constructive criticisms lead to a better understanding and adjustments in one's perspectives, and on other times, divergent opinions are reconciled by respectfully agreeing to disagree.


Here, we should differentiate between expected disagreements on matters of personal taste or preference, and disagreements regarding factual data, analyses and forecasts. In the latter case, both sides cannot be correct; either one or both parties would have to be wrong. Regardless, expressions of opinions and analyses should not be deliberately aimed at influencing the system itself, which would inevitably imply a degree of prejudicial intent.


Prejudicial intents, hidden agendas, personal angles and ulterior motives are all too often at work, disguised as unbiased, factual expressions and accounts, whether literary or political. The prevailing bitter propaganda atmosphere or negative imagery that has existed regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran in the West has produced a bumper crop of self-exiled Iranian lecturers, writers, cartoonists, playwrights and satirists, who have gained celebrity and position by catering to public sentiments.


Books of fiction promoted as factual accounts, memoirs or autobiographies have become best-sellers and have gained their respective authors much undeserved acclaim, academic status and fortune. Clueless kids in their young teens when they left Iran, are now posing as expert analysts of Iranian heritage and pre and post 1979 culture and social milieu, and they do quite well as long as they adhere to their politically fashionable scenarios. These memoirs and books do sell well, and cartoon sketches become cinematic features that fit admirably within the gullible American mainstream and European bourgeoisie.  The allure of the limelight attracts too many of our scholars and academics, as moths drawn to light or flies to nectar, forsaking honesty and integrity to become media darlings.


To put it bluntly, I've grown sick and tired of these opportunists and pretenders who have jumped on the bandwagon of self-righteous mudslinging with impunity and abandon. They have prostituted themselves by selling out to the likes of the neoconservative Zionist promotional agency, Benador Associates, or are found sitting at sidewalk cafes on the streets of Paris, leisurely smoking their Gitane cigarettes and gloating in their make-believe intellectual prowess, while trying desperately to look 'Oh, so cool!'


They now champion the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights as if they are among an exceptional few who have just discovered these concepts, or as though folks who disagree with their motives and tactics of promoting such ideals are somehow unaware of, or opposed to, these universal human values. These jokers, slanderers and hypocrites couldn't care less about the nation they have forsaken; it is all about them and how, in their delusional self-image, they shine as the "enlightened" lot in their adopted cultures.


And what do they exactly know about democracy, freedom and human rights? Could their brains be tasked by questions as to what brand of democracy, or freedom to do exactly what and under what constraints, or the rights of which group of humans, do they actually have in mind? No; to them these concepts are used as token sound bites that get them from one sidewalk to another as they panhandle for recognition and acceptance.


Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shado

Of course, sycophantic behavior does have its place in the struggle for survival in an environment of hostility and bigotry. Right after the Oklahoma City bombing event in 1995, I saw a mature Iranian lady whom I knew, waving a small American flag in her hand and grinning from ear to ear in a pitiful  gesture of submission, hoping not to be spat upon by the passersby. She had just heard, as had I, Oliver North on radio declaring that, in his professional opinion, this incident had all the earmarks of Iranian terrorism. She, as so many other former Iranians, was no longer an Iranian, but a Persian!


I actually have no problem watching humans behave as humans, struggling to advance their lot as best they can. Whatever promotes one's best interests, be it wealth, fame or social standing, is fair in our dog-eat-dog culture, as long as one can get away with it. It makes me wonder how many of our staunch "anti-sanctions" Iranian American scholars would refuse, as a matter of principle, to join the Nuke-Iran Fox TV network if they were offered very lucrative contracts. Of course, those who would take up such an offer would make sure they promote the nuking of Iran in such a way that only the bad guys would burn in the ensuing furnace!


The problem I have is with the same people pontificating on what they believe is good for the Iranian nation half a world away.


We are all to some extent guilty of self-projecting when passing judgment on other peoples or domains. What would work for us somehow appears just the way things ought to be. We are consciously, or more often subliminally, offering advice hoping to create changes that would cater to our own tastes and serve our own interests. There is nothing at all unusual about this "human" behavior.


However, as I have said many times, offering unsolicited advice by folks who've got nothing to lose if proven wrong is not only frivolous, it could cause great harm.


Most people agree that "democracy", for example, is a "good" form of government. Problems begin when we try to define the concept of democracy, and continue when the adjective, good, comes into play.


What do we mean by democracy? Do we mean a form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, chosen through universal suffrage? How universal should that suffrage be? Should it be through voluntary participation of the voting public or should such participation be mandatory, and if so, how should the enforcement be implemented? It might interest our younger readers to know that, during the Pahlavi regime, right after His Majesty ordered the creation of a second pro-regime political party - a meaningless exercise just for show, of course - people in official positions, such as myself at the time, were required to participate in mock elections, with a stamp in their passports as evidence of having voted, without which they couldn't leave the country! At least that was what we were told.


Now to the concept of "good". Is a democratic government of the people chosen by a vastly ignorant voting population that is deeply indoctrinated by powerful corporations and special interest groups to serve their own interests a "good" form of government? Aren't we talking here about our United States of America?!


In a recent opinion poll, it was shown that a majority of Americans would approve of a military attack on Iran if diplomacy fails to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program. Now ask yourselves; what percentage of the people who responded know what is actually going on in that land? But they all have opinions, and in a democracy with all the freedoms they enjoy, the common folk truly believe that what they are exposed to by the mass media must be true!


Do we prescribe this type of democracy for a country such as Iran, where its own version of limitations and indoctrinations prevail? Or is there some idealized version of "democracy" that has a universally applicable character regardless of ethnic, cultural or religious variances?


What about the concept of freedom? How wide a margin do we like to apply to freedom? What latitude of freedoms do we like to see at work in Iran? Should it be patterned after the American, Icelandic, Japanese or Indian style of freedom? For those who do not know, in Iceland, for example, adultery is an accepted practice! Would anyone prescribe that for the British or the Iranian nation?


Should there be any laws at all limiting individual freedoms, or should the proverbial Golden Rule govern all human societies: Treating others as you'd want others to treat you? Has there ever been, and will there ever be, such an idyllic society on earth where the Golden Rule would apply? 


All I am implying here is that cheap, shallow rhetoric we see flashing all over our media, and superficial sentiments wrapped in hot and juicy banners parading in the streets, are not only disingenuous,  they actually work against the very cause they are supposedly championing. Just as is the case with "punishing" sanctions aimed at Iran by the United States administration, this kind of charade by the self-aggrandizing exhibitionists hinder and tarnish the efforts by the honest proponents of reform in the Iranian homeland, those who are actually paying the price for expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo.


This kind of pretentious exhibitionism is as harmful and disingenuous as the phony show of sympathy for the Iranian dissident Greens displayed by the likes of the Master Wiesel, Joe Lieberman, and other unscrupulous slaves of the Zionist Lobby in the US Congress, who actually suggest that a "good" Iran is a dead Iran!





Now that I have flushed all my frustrations out of my system, I would like to encapsulate the essence of the past seven years of writing about the "Iran Problem". I have elaborated extensively about this subject before; therefore, I will not bother with supporting material or references and simply state my personal beliefs as briefly as possible.


In essence, I believe the chief common denominator that applies to all, and I mean all, the policies adopted by the United States in the Middle East is Israel.


Israel as a sovereign state has, like any other sovereign state, its own interests and agendas, legitimate or not, depending on which side one happens to be. As such, the Israeli regime has been, and will continue to be, pursuing policies that it believes to be in the interest of its nation, no matter at what cost to other nations, or whether within or in violation of the international law, as long as it can avoid retribution.  


Israel has thus far been able to get away with more violations of the international law and the charter of the United Nations than any other member state, and gotten away with it, thanks to the unquestioned support by the United Sates.


Two factors have allowed the Israeli regimes to maintain the status of an untouchable Sacred Cow in spite of broad global condemnations: One, the unconditional financial, diplomatic and military support of the United States. Two, Israeli's own formidable military power that has made it superior to the combined forces of all the Arab and Islamic states of the region.


Israel is not about to allow any change in its favored status.


My analysis of the ongoing United States/Iran entanglements, and predictions regarding where this trend might lead, is as follows:


1-There is no question that the "cold war" between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States has been detrimental to the best interests of both Iran and the United States. There is no need to elaborate further on that or try to prove that it has clearly been the case.


2-Again, there is no question that the "threats" supposedly posed by the Islamic Republic against Israel, the United States and the West are fictional narratives created to serve as pretexts for continuing the pressure on the Iranian regime. The question should be, Why?


3-The nuclear "threat", supposedly the main concern of the United States and Israel, is also the most farfetched allegation against Iran's nuclear projects. I personally believe that Iran is, and if not, should be, attempting to gain the technological capacity to produce nuclear weapons if and when it becomes necessary as a deterrent or a potential retaliatory measure against nuclear-armed aggressors. It is, therefore, ludicrous to argue that Iran, even if armed with a nuclear device or two, would pose a "threat" or would initiate an attack on anyone. So, why all the hype?


4-Continuous economic and diplomatic pressures against Iran, and threats of regime change and foreign based anti regime incitements have served two purposes: a-strengthening the position of the hardliners within the Iranian regime, making sure that the center will hold and, b-creating an environment where the allegations against the Islamic Republic as a real and present danger to the regional and global security could appear better legitimized.


5-Throughout all this, effort has been made, thus far quite successfully, to avoid reaching a dangerous flashpoint that would actually spark some kind of military confrontation. In Persian, the expression is 'shol- kon - seft- kon', best translated as 'on again - off again', or pushing on hard and relenting just before all hell breaks loose! Again, Why the charade?


6-Finally, and most significantly, I would not call the American administration incompetent for not finding a solution to this enigma; and I would not put the blame on the leadership of the Islamic Republic for its defiant and unyielding stance. Neither administration is guilty of incompetence, but both are incapacitated. There is a significant difference between the two adjectives: incompetent and incapacitated.


In view of the foregoing, my emphasis has been and remains on this last point.


With the best of intentions, commentators and analysts, Americans, Iranian Americans or Iranians, have been attempting to point out the unjust, deceptive and downright malicious accusations and allegations against the Iranian regime by the American and some Western administrations. We see on a daily basis articles posted on various internet sites that highlight not only the futility, but even the danger of imposing harsher economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran.


I maintain that there are two fundamental things wrong with these honest and brave efforts. First is assuming that those who actually formulate and implement America's foreign policies in the Middle East are unaware of the facts and need to pay closer attention to such sage advice by people in the know. Second is thinking that the mere handful of readers of such pages who have the intellectual capacity and are interested enough to appreciate and digest these points could gather enough momentum to steer the policy makers in the right direction. 


Now, let's first locate the dots before we try to connect them.


Dot: Iran has been effectively and convincingly (to the American public) been portrayed as the greatest threat to Israel and, by extension, to the American interests in the region.


Dot: Accordingly, Iran must be pressured and contained by any means possible and prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons.


Dot: As long as this portrayal remains actively viable in the public mind, America's vital friend and ally, Israel, must be supported by the United States, economically, militarily and diplomatically at any expense to the American taxpayers and in spite of the damage to America's global reputation.


Dot: Under these circumstances, and the prevailing public perception that Iran and its surrogates, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, pose an "existential" threat to the Israeli nation, pressuring Israel to compromise its position and enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, to stop the expansion of its settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and to relent in its "defensive" war against Gaza would be too much to ask.


Dot: A nation under imminent threat of annihilation, as the prevailing mythology portrays, may just have to take matters in its own hands and use its own military might to strike at its enemies preemptively.


Dot: Even though the American public would not blame Israel to rise in its own self-defense, we certainly do not like that to happen, since such a perfectly justifiable act by Israel would have dire consequences for the United States and indeed the industrialized world.


Dot: It follows, therefore, that to avoid such an undesirable eventuality, Israel deserves to be amply compensated for risking its own very survival to accommodate its friend and benefactor's wishes, which leads to the only viable conclusion.


Connecting the dots: Iran must remain under severe containment in suspended animation, but kept alive as a perceived threat to Israel. At the same time, any effort by the Iranian regime or the opposition movement within Iran to implement positive social reforms and to engage in a rapprochement with the United States must be torpedoed in order to maintain the pariah status of the Islamic Republic.


This scenario is much like the life cycle of a type of hornet. This hornet stings a tarantula, which remains alive but paralyzed, to provide the hornet's eggs with nutrients as they mature!


Over this panoramic background, what could the American administration or the Chief Executive do to break out of the bondage of Israeli interests and manipulations? The cards are stacked against Mr. Obama. He and his advisors are not incompetent, they are incapacitated and rendered impotent, left with little choice but to pay the ransom to the thugs in Tel Aviv, or else!


Or else what?


On the surface, the fear is that should Mr. Obama find the courage or become crazy enough to expose this blackmail and put Israel on notice, the extortionist would open the floodgates of hell and drag the United States into an extended, expensive and catastrophic military engagement against Iran. A missile or torpedo showing Iranian colors launched against American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, or an air attack on Iran's nuclear installations, would do the job.


In truth, this fear is simply for public consumption. The real tragedy is that no politician or official in the executive or the legislative branches of the American government, from the Chief Executive down to the lowest levels of the Congress, can afford to alienate the Zionist centers of power and influence in our country. This is indeed a tragedy for the American people, when the leaders of the nation are more concerned about their personal tenure, job security, fame and fortune than about the welfare of their constituents.


In my opinion, Mr. Obama has finally thrown in the towel accepting the bitter fact that the game plan is out of his hand and, to survive politically, and who knows perhaps even physically, he must not violate the script. His latest tirade against Iran (and North Korea) in his remarks regarding America's new nuclear policies, whereby the United States would not consider deploying nuclear weapons against anyone but the two mentioned states, upset the Iranian President, Ahmadinejad.


Mr. Ahmadinejad's response was harsh and straight to the point. The English translation of his response was softened up in the press; but the original Persian version (Fars News Agency, Farsi version) had all the sarcasm, angst and venom expected of him. Here I translate a segment of his remarks into colloquial English to retain the intended impact:


Mr. Obama; you have just arrived on the political scene. Wait just a little, buddy, and let your sweat dry so you can get a better feel for the weather. And, be more careful. Don't read every piece of paper they give you to read and don't just repeat every word you are instructed to utter. Those who were bigger and stronger than you couldn't do diddly....; what makes you think you can? Watch out; if you follow the same path as your predecessor, Bush, you will get the same jaw-smashing response from other nations as did Bush.


In spite of such brash remarks from both sides, sanity dictates that the United States and Iran remain on the same page and understand the consequences of any wrong move on this high-wire act. As the threats of military attack and crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic escalate, inching close to the flashpoint only to recede to a safer level, the Iranian regime plays its part by doing everything it can to retain the image of the Devil incarnate.


The latest statement by Iran's Defense Minister is a warning to Israel that any attack on Iran would mean total annihilation of the state of Israel. Another high military official warns, should the United States attack Iran, not a single American troop will return home alive.


The hope is that this balancing act is not interrupted prematurely. Meanwhile, American administration's goal is to feint the part of an honest peace broker between Israel and the Palestinians so that Israel could carry out its agenda of marginalizing the Palestinian populations out of contention. As usual, the blame will be safely put on the Palestinians, and on the Islamic Republic of Iran for supporting their stubborn stance.


In this tragic charade, America has little choice but to follow the script. Again, America's management is not really incompetent, it is simply incapacitated through blackmail and extortion by the little parasite and its tentacles that have penetrated the fabric of the American life.





Expecting a change in the tactics and policies of the United States toward the Middle East and Iran is like expecting Hell to freeze over. Neither Obama nor his replacement, whichever Party he or she might be from, can challenge or change the power and command structure that has metastasized throughout the American sociopolitical system.


Any change will have to come from the source of the problem, not through magic or divine intervention, but in two possible ways. One is an Israeli staged attack on an American military target in the Persian Gulf, which could be blamed on Iran, or a direct attack on some Iranian target by the Israelis, which would trigger an all out war involving the United States, Israel, Iran and some other surrogate states.


Not only would the outcome be catastrophic for Israel, the costs to the United States would be more than the American public could bear, resulting in a radical shift in America's foreign policies, particularly with regard to Israel.


The other is a longer term transformation that could come about as a result of Israel's own internal strife. The anti Zionist politicians and intellectuals are increasingly vocal and gathering momentum. Many see the only viable solution to the ages-long instability, militarism and global condemnation, in the creation of one state, where all the residents of the state live in a democratic system with equal rights of citizenship regardless of their numbers, religion, ethnicity or color, and where the prosperity of one group of people does not accompany the deprivation and demise of others.


While the world is waiting for such turns of events, the Iranian regime will have to maintain its defiant posture. Iran will continue to be an Islamic Republic, whether under the current religious guidance or restructured into a more moderate and socially tolerant theocratic system.


Iran's military, in my opinion, should and will gain increasing power and authority as the true backbone of the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.


In Turkey, the military has been playing the same role, but as a secular force that has been responsible for acting as a buffer against the religious traditionalists from gaining the upper hand in the nation's policies, as well as in preventing the huge Kurdish populations from gaining too much autonomy and fragmenting the nation.


In the Islamic Republic, in contrast, the military will be enjoying the support of the masses by appearing loyal to the central authority of the spiritual Supreme Leader; a symbiosis, which will benefit both the theocratic center and the pragmatic military establishment.


To the reform minded anti-traditionalists this may not be a pleasant thought. But any other probability is either too remote to warrant serious consideration, or would result in open ended chaos and ultimate fragmentation of the nation.


Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:

Finally, a nation of now over seventy million people who has suffered and endured the wrath of the world's mightiest powers for thirty years is not palpitating and hoping to be rescued by us strangers basking in comfort in foreign lands. To them, we must appear as vultures lined up on the roadside telephone wires waiting for their share of the road kill.


You don't like the way things are half a world away in a land you have ably abandoned? Fine, stay wherever the hell you are! But if you choose to return to your former homeland, please take with you a little honest humility and a grain of gratitude for being welcomed in.



... Payvand News - 04/19/10 ... --

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