Iran News ...


03/15/10

GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN: CALLING A SPADE, A SPADE

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

Before I begin, a word to the unwary: As usual, this article is going to be long and, yes, boring for those readers who prefer to be entertained rather than informed.

Another reminder: As I have repeatedly pointed out, my focus has primarily been on the analysis or the diagnostics of the situation; i.e., what led to what, where, why and by whom, and in what direction things might lead if such or such were to take place.

Sorting through the prevailing hodgepodge of misinformation and disinformation regarding Iran, in order to untangle the web of confusion, has been a fulltime task for me. I study, analyze and, based on the progression of events as I see them, I make certain predictions. Thus far, my analyses and predictions have not missed the mark by much. This fact alone encourages me to carry on with my work.

Those readers who have criticized me for not offering any solutions to the problems must appreciate that, if I had a therapeutic formula or a magic potion to solve Iran's problems, I would be crazy not to offer it and be the next recipient of the Nobel Prize and, to be facetious, a candidate for the future presidency of a free and prosperous democratic Iran!

Unfortunately, the problems facing Iran are numerous, intertwined and complex. We cannot lump all these problems together into a single issue for which a proverbial Silver or now "Green" Bullet would do the job.

To those readers of my articles who so passionately disagree with my views - and I do realize that my opinions are prone to raise controversy, I offer the following:

Passion and prejudice are natural elements of human culture and behavior. It is also quite natural to regard other people's opinions or actions as biased and prejudicial if one disagrees with such actions or opinions. After all, if opinions with which one disagrees are not viewed as prejudicial and skewed, one would be compelled to accept them as valid, thus discrediting one's own position! That should be simple enough to understand.

One thing we often disregard is the location of the filter of bias or prejudice in human interactions. Is that filter or blinder in the mind of the person who is expressing certain opinions, or is it in front of the eyes or ears of the observer or listener? In other words, are my opinions truly tainted in biased colors, or are those who do not like my opinions looking at me through their own colored glasses?

What I am trying to make clear is that it is not enough for the writer or orator of opinions to adhere to the principles of objectivity as one would in carrying out a scientific study. It is equally important for the reader or listener to evaluate and judge that material as dispassionately and objectively as possible.

I fully understand why many readers of my articles and many among those who attend my lectures regard some of my opinions as prejudicial or, even worse, bigoted. To some, I am an unapologetic anti-Semite because I dare to criticize the policies of the Israeli regime. If anti-Semitism refers to a hatred of the Jewish people for simply being, well, Jewish, nothing I have ever said or written would make me an anti-Semitic bigot. If on the other hand any statement critical of the policies of Zionist hardliners here or in Israel is considered anti-Semitic, then yes, I am proud to be one.

To others, I am an apologist for the Islamic regime in Iran because I believe that even a theocratic dictatorship is preferable at this time to the chaos and division that would surely disintegrate Iran were the system to collapse under external pressures. Again, if I do not support every negative portrayal of the Islamic Republic, whether true or false, that does not make me a "paid agent of the Islamic Republic" as some emotionally troubled folks have called me. Correcting, for instance, the deliberate misquotations or misinterpretations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements by the local media here does not mean that I am either a fan of the Islamic regime or that I particularly like Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Some believe my views are anti-American, even though I have chosen to live in the United States as a citizen of this country. What they forget is that a significant percentage of the American people are equally unhappy and critical of our government's foreign policies, yet holding such opinions does not make us anti-American, any more than is the opposition or the Green movement in Iran anti-Iranian.

At one of my lectures a few years ago, a couple, originally Hungarian immigrants from 1956, objected to my criticism of George W. Bush and the neoconservative cabal, the driving force behind his policies. The irate lady interrupted me to voice her objections. "How dare you criticize my President [accent hers]" she shouted; continuing, "Why are many of the names of his advisors you mentioned Jewish names; you anti-Semitic bigot!?"

In view of all the foregoing, many friends and colleagues advise me to mellow down my tone and, due to the fact that my opinions are prone to misinterpretation particularly by folks with limited attention span, they suggest that I should restructure my writing style in order to simplify and clarify my personal position before entering into the body text.

Well folks, my writing or lecturing style is not going to change. Those who do not like my stuff or lack the patience or the attention span to read through my writings before passing judgment, do not have to torture themselves; they can "multitask" in more entertaining directions.

I receive e-mails or see blogs by people with pseudonyms picked out of the "Shah-Naameh", such as Rustam Zaal, Arash Kamaangir, Kaaveh Ahangar or Saam Narimaan, invariably championing the ancient glory of "Iran Veej" while denigrating the Islamic culture and influence as pollutants that have corrupted our pure Aryan heritage and must be eradicated.

Doubtless we are here dealing with young adults under a distorted sense of nationalism and with desperate need for historical, cultural and linguistic education. Some try so hard to write in what they wrongly assume to be clean, unadulterated "Persian", avoiding words they believe to be of Arabic origin. Illiteracy is, of course, excusable here, as is their naive "baastaan-garaii" or appeal toward a mythic past. However, their reasons for their hatred of the Islamic governance in Iran are childishly naive and not based on measured and mature analyses and evaluations of the issues.

Yes, I also agree that Islamic or any other system of theocracy or authoritarianism is a historical anachronism that could at best serve as a temporary or transitory phase during a major systemic sociopolitical sea change. I am basing this belief on the fact that any significant societal change requires some convincingly unifying force to overwhelm the obstacles and plough through resistance to change. Within cultures where religion plays a dominant role, it is that banner around which people rally, crossing over divergent ethnicities, colors and other social barriers.

In the case of Iran, my belief has been that the nation's spiritual centers of gravity would have retreated to their traditional seminaries in Qum and Mashhad, once the transition from dictatorial monarchy to some form of a federalist republic, albeit under Islamic tenets, was consolidated. That would have set Iran as a role model for other autocratic or dictatorial client regimes in the region to emulate.

This alone could be regarded as the primary reason why this natural evolution of post revolutionary Iran would not have been viewed favorably by the wealthy Islamic kings and Emirs, or by the global powerhouses whose oil and other strategic concerns in that region could have been jeopardized if self determination and democratic governance were to proliferate.

The more sophisticated intellectual groups and academics among us continue to harp on human rights abuses in Iran and the need for democratic reforms in their former country.

The latest web article addressing this issue is titled "A Blueprint for Ending Human Rights Abuses in Iran", by Sam Sho'amanesh and Trita Parsi.

I have a couple of comments regarding this exercise in futility:

1-Even in this rather amateurish semi-legalese dissertation, there is no place for inflammatory adjectives and adverbs, as well as unsubstantiated, emotionally charged allegations. This paper was riddled with that stuff.

2-The points that were made regarding various internationally agreed statutes and covenants dealing with human rights issues were all correct. However, the authors failed to mention that there is not a single signatory to these international agreements that could be proven to abide by these rules. We could include the United States among the gross violators of said human rights statutes. So, are our scholars holding Iran to a higher standard of conduct that the rest of the world?

3-In making their cavalier suggestions for correcting the human rights violations in Iran, have our scholars taken into account the ramifications and immediate consequences of implementing these corrective measures? For example, how would certain "freedoms" that all human beings are entitled to mesh with certain other issues of grave concern in special circumstances, issues such as national security, internal stability or public safety? How are such issues addressed and handled in more progressive societies such as the United States, Great Britain or Israel, which might be applied in Iran's case?

What I am trying to point out is that we cannot selectively champion one specific cause and deal with it in isolation, separate from other factors that affect or are affected by our cause célèbre.

Again, I am in total agreement that the human rights issue remains of great concern for all of us outside and inside Iran. I would like to include other vital concerns such as the runaway inflation, joblessness, economic sanctions and national security issues. In my estimate, some of these concerns are far more critical than focusing on how many journalists are arrested or how the dress code for the Iranian women is enforced in Tehran.

I can see their line of reasoning: The idea must be that once the issue of human rights is resolved, its domino effect would sweep through the system and, one by one, other societal ills of the Islamic Republic will be alleviated.

I can just picture the scenario in my mind: Opposition groups will unite under one banner, perhaps green, students and faculty freely assemble and join ranks with the Tehrani elite and the released dissident activists to peacefully sound off their demands for reform. The military and security forces refrain from interfering in any way, and some actually join the demonstrators.

The Supreme Leader, noting the public displeasure with the Islamic regime, forces Mr. Ahmadinejad out of office and calls for new elections, this time allowing those citizens who are fluent in at least one major foreign language to cast three votes per head. The votes of people who have travelled abroad would count as five, and those who have degrees from European or American universities can vote ten times.


Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shadow

Consequently, the religious hierarchy collapses in a big heap, and a new secular constitution replaces the current one - no velayat faghih this time.

The United States and Iran reopen full diplomatic relations and, soon after, a flood of rich and famous entrepreneurs begin to pour into the new Iran, among them most of the educated and successful former Iranians who have spent that last decades in self exile.

And, Dr. Trita Parsi becomes the first Ambassador of the new Republic of Iran to the United States!

I also noted another article by Mr. Trita Parsi, The Iranian Riddle, where the author elaborates on the US administration's wrong approach in addressing Iran issues. He rightly points out the futility of sanctions and open threats of regime change or preemptive strike against Iran, and he correctly sees such measures as counterproductive.

Once again, let us go back to my previous article, SINCERE ADVICE BASED ON PRECARIOUS ASSUMPTIONS: A Potentially Perilous Mixture.

A "precarious assumption" has been made again by Dr. Parsi, who has chosen to assume that the Obama administration is truly after an honest rapprochement with Iran, but that the methods employed have not been effective in overcoming the Iranian administration's confusing evasive tactics.

As I understood it, Dr. Parsi is of the opinion that we here are the good guys with the best of intentions, attempting, albeit clumsily, to relieve the tensions between the two countries and to help the Iranian people realize their dreams of democracy and prosperity.

He should know better than to think that, in the minds of the American administration, the welfare of the Iranian people outranks the strategic interests of the United States in the Middle East.

Of course, we could argue that the best interests of the Iranian nation do not necessarily contradict the strategic interests of the United States, in which case promoting measures that would allow Iran to follow a productive path toward achieving its legitimate national objectives would not interfere with America's designs for this vital region of the world.

In a perfect world, that is the way it should be; but reality speaks otherwise.

Were the Islamic Republic of Iran a Middle Eastern Granada or Haiti, a show of military or economic force would suffice to convince that defiant regime as to who's in charge. But that is certainly not the case - both sides have to show willingness to compromise and soften up some of their demands and expectations.

Finally, I was again very impressed by Flynt and Hillary Leverett's latest reportage after their return from their February trip to Tehran.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of their article was the fact that the Tehrani elites and university students are much more aware of American political machinations than are America's own students or elites. Their assessment that Senator Obama was one man, and President Obama quite another, is shared by most serious observers who feel equally disappointed that, in spite of his desires and intentions, he seems powerless to implement policies that he knows to be in the nation's best interests.

But, before rushing to judgment about Mr. Obama's failure to live up to expectations in matters of foreign policy in the Middle East, let me get on my proverbial soap box one more time and summarize what I have been harping on in practically every article I have posted in recent memory.

When it comes to the Middle East, the Israeli regimes have historically had a stranglehold on America's policy making. With the decades-long successful manipulation of the hearts and minds of the American public, Israel's agendas and policies have gained moral and ethical equivalency with American principles, to a point that most Americans view any harsh criticism of the Jewish state as not only anti-Semitism, but even as un-American!

It should not come as a surprise that, in the recent debate among candidates for California's seat at the US Senate, the main argument revolved around which candidate had a stronger pro-Israel record!

It all stems from the weight of the American public opinion, the most powerful force that drives America's political machine.

Israel has been able to capitalize on this public sentiment whenever its specific agenda clearly countered the policy or the interests of the United States. Israel has blatantly violated its legal and moral obligations to America with total impunity, time and time again, in cases ranging from substantial loan guarantees to Israel that were contingent on Israel's secession of settlement expansion in the occupied lands, to the condition set by American law that American military arsenal given to foreign states should not be used against the civilians.

Each time it has been the American side that has had to back off and yield to Israel. The latest event, Israel's decision to build an additional 1600 houses in East Jerusalem, announced during Vice President Biden's visit to encourage peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, is a perfect example. The initial response at a news conference by the White House spokesman was that this decision by Israel "was not particularly helpful"! Only later it was announced that both the White House and the Vice President had "condemned" that decision by the Israelis, with emphasis that the "timing" for the decision was unfortunate!

In his later statement in Tel Aviv, Mr. Biden exhibited the depth of his servitude to those who he knows control his political destiny.

So, what is the world's sole superpower afraid of?

The answer:

With the public opinion in the United States, fanned by the media, so supportive of Israel, the Israeli regime can get away with anything it chooses to do, all in the name of "defending their lives", a catch phrase that has been in use since Biblical times.

This is putting the US administration in a delicate quandary.

Israel has succeeded in portraying the Islamic Republic of Iran as a clear and present danger, an "existential threat", no less. The Israeli leaders know, as do the policy makers here in the United States, that Iran is neither an existential threat to Israel, nor capable of being one even if it wanted to be.

It is, therefore, quite obvious that the repeated threats of preemptive strikes against Iran by the Israelis, and America's attempts to convince the Israelis to refrain from such an act in order to allow harsher sanctions to do the job, are all staged to convince the American public that, although the Israelis have the right to "defend their lives" by any means possible, they will be doing America a favor by refraining from actions that might jeopardize America's interests in the region.

So, what could America do in return for such grand gestures of self-sacrifice by this true friend and ally? To put it more correctly, what would the American people expect the Administration to do for Israel; certainly not putting more pressure on Israel to sacrifice even more by abandoning its "natural" settlement expansions or bowing to the Palestinian demands for a peace settlement! Oh no, not while this wonderful symbol of Western values and civilization is under imminent existential threat by the evil bogyman, Iran.

Now under these circumstances, what is President Obama to do; most certainly not mending fences with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The role Iran is playing in this historical drama is too important to interrupt.

Maybe our Iranian American scholars can now better appreciate that it is not a lack of knowledge of Iranian politics or expertise in diplomacy on the part of the American administration that has kept an opening or rapprochement to take place between the United States and Iran. The State Department and the White House officials do not really need our illustrious scholars' advice on how to deal with Iran or whether sanctions are to be implemented or not; they all know what we know, and perhaps quite a bit more.

The tragedy is that the American administrations have remained captive to Israeli extortion for a long time. And as long as the Zionist propaganda engine stays running, Holocaust Memorials keep sprouting up here and there, new Museums of "Tolerance" are erected, and the Diary of Anne Frank remains required reading for the American public school children year in and year out, and the blackmail of America will continue uninterrupted.

In the American democracy, public opinion remains the most powerful force influencing not only the internal policies at home, but America's foreign affairs. What formulates and controls America's public opinion, controls America's political structure and global policies.

And tragically, Fox Network today claims more audiences in America than all the other media networks combined.

Finally, what should or could the Iranian regime do to bring this perpetual spiraling tension to containable levels? This is what our capable scholars and creative thinkers in the Iranian American community should concentrate on.

Perhaps an open panel discussion by some of our more opinion-laden sociologists and political experts would be helpful, provided that the participants do not abuse this forum to outshine each other in the limelight by championing feel-good, no-brainers such as democratic reforms, human rights or freedom of the press.


Kam Zarrabi

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 Iran, 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 kzarrabi@aol.com.

 

More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: www.intellectualdiscourse.com.

... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --



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