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Sleazy Salesman vs. the Tongue-tied Incumbent: The Foreign Policy Debate Farce

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

For me personally, the national debt, health care, unemployment and other issues of high priority debated between Romney and Obama during the presidential campaigns, although of great concern, take the backseat to the direction that our foreign policy might take past this coming November.

Romney and Obama during their last presidential campaign

The "rest of the world", meaning those unlike us, is generally viewed by most Americans, and that includes our illustrious representatives, as some alien domain where the "lesser others", some more friendly and obedient, but mostly uncivilized, fanatical savages in denial or envious of our greatness, are challenging our God-given right to rule over them with our unique sense of charity and magnanimity. It is truly a surprise to us, as voiced on numerous occasions by the Secretary of State and other officials, that we see no appreciation or gratitude for our efforts to liberate them and bring them into our fold where, soon if they follow instruction, they could learn to abide by our mandates and fall in line behind us, so that we won't have to continue to "lead from behind", to quote the hopeful Mitt Romney.

If you haven't seen the movie, Avatar, you don't know what you're missing.

James Cameron's fantasy about a military adventure on a distant moon, Pandora, was a cinematic marvel of special effects and a true thriller, wonderfully entertaining and memorable. Of course, you could walk out of the theater momentarily to go to the toilet or to buy a snack, or interrupt the movie if you were watching the video on your widescreen TV at home and see the rest of it at an opportune time. But what's been taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, and America's direct and indirect involvement in all that, is not some fantasy entertainment costing you less than twenty dollars and with the remote control in your hand so that you may watch it at your leisure.

People have suffered and died out there, Man; by the hundreds, thousands and millions, and continue to suffer and die. Believe it or not, these are real people not actors or computer generated figures, they bleed red blood the same color as ours, they grieve over their dead and shed real tears, and they also have hope for their futures and the fate of their children. And, as strange as it seems, they actually get pissed off at us when we interrupt their lives or cut off their access to the necessities of life, including medicines for their sick.

And we are so shocked that some of them object to our actions and even dare to threaten to defend themselves, like the wild animals they are, if we attack them. They are perhaps too stubbornly dense for not realizing that their resisting us or attempting to retaliate against our attack would constitute an act of terrorism in our books - our books, the only books that count!

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Mr. Romney, like most of us, feels it incredulous that there could be people and nations elsewhere in this world that do not acknowledge the truth of American Exceptionalism, or understand that we are ordained by the Almighty God, our God, to shape, guide and govern the destinies of peoples and nations. Some of them even declare that their god is as good as our God, and refuse to admit that our cause is always noble and just and divinely inspired.

For the Romneys of the world, the syllogism behind their reasoning is awe inspiring. It goes something like the following: I know that I am a righteous, moral and ethical person. Therefore, if you do not agree with me, you must by definition be amoral, unethical and evil. And, what must be done with evil is none other than extermination, should evil resist change and persist.

Had Mr. Romney not been the consummate salesman that he takes pride in being, it would be easy to brand him as a brainwashed, delusional politician catering to equally misinformed, delusional public. But he is a salesman, and a perfect example of one. He exaggerates, he distorts, he tells misleading half or partial truths as occasion dictates, and he doesn’t hesitate to straight-out lie with a smile to win a point.

I was not expecting to hear anything substantial, honest or meaningful from either candidate during their final debate, which was supposed to be on foreign policy. The issues of Libya, Egypt, Syria, China, and of course Israel and Iran did come up, bearing no details and quickly giving way to jobs and economy. All in all, this foreign policy debate proved to be a pathetic display of disinterest and an almost inhuman lack of compassion by a future leader of a superpower whose decisions could translate into life or death for millions of innocent people.

The so-called foreign policy debate, it must be understood, was to hunt for votes of the television audiences whose real interest in anything foreign, like foreign policy, would be far less than which celeb wore what dress in what party the night before going back to rehab!

For me, however, gaining some new perspective of how the American President might handle the troubles in the Middle East, and in particular, the Iran and Israel issues, was of vital importance.

I knew full well what the Republican candidate was going to say in that regard. The shifty-eyed salesman was expected to sell, and sell he did, to an audience that is programmed to be drawn to “sale” signs no matter how phony the claims might be. But why did the President not rise up to challenge him, embarrass him by refuting his baseless claims, and gain more credibility for himself at the same time? Why was he tongue-tied when it came to Iran and Israel; what was he afraid of? Jewish and Zionist money and influence, perhaps?

When the salesman called Iran the Number-One threat to America, he did not elaborate on such a vitally significant allegation which he had uttered as a statement of established fact. He even repeated his idiotic phrase that, due to the current administration’s inaction, Iran was now four years closer to having a nuclear weapon!

The President could have stopped the charlatan on his tracks by challenging him to elaborate on the specifics of his allegations. He could have pointed out that, not knowing where the end point, if any, might be, “four years closer” has no meaning. He did not even defend his own policy of avoiding a military conflict with Iran, based on all the intelligence available to us, and even to the Israelis, that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Instead, the tongue-tied Commander in Chief repeated the long discredited sound bite that Iran’s lame-duck President wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map. What a pitiful exhibition of cowardice, I almost shouted out loud. But could Mr. Obama exercise his true grit and lose, in the process, any chance to get reelected to his second term in our kind of democracy?  

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. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:

As expected, the adoration of America’s Sacred Cow, Israel, punctuated the entire segment of the debate that actually dealt with foreign policy. In every issue dealing with the Arab and the Islamic world, Israel’s interests, not America’s strategic and security concerns, were mentioned as the prime consideration. This long cherished passionate attachment that has permeated the nation’s consciousness encourages the salesman, Romney, to play the Israel card as often as he can, while discouraging Mr. Obama from attempting to say what he knows to be the truth or to take what he knows is the right course for America’s foreign policies in that turbulent region.

My hope is for Obama to have his second term as the President of the United States, even if by default, against the sleazy salesman. There is a good chance that, in his second and final term, Mr. Obama might actually earn the Nobel Peace Prize he was granted so prematurely before he even had a chance to prove his metal.

I guess I prefer a cautious coward over a bucket of sleaze at this juncture in time.

Other recent articles by Kam Zarrabi:

order from amazon

Iran Back In Context

Author: Kambiz Zarrabi
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Xlibris, Corp. (October 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1465376003

Kamran Zarrabi has just completed writing his memoirs of his 2011 trip to Iran. The manuscript called "Iran, Back in Context" also contains the accounts of several interviews with a broad cross section of people, photographs, and details of travels to remote areas of the country.

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