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Is PAAIA advocating for an attack on Iran?


By Ali Moayedian

Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)'s "2012 Iran Sanction Report" came out last week, and I was hoping to see an "objective and balanced information and analysis" as promised by PAAIA:

"While PAAIA is focused on domestic U.S. affairs as they relate to the Iranian American community and has not been a platform for promoting U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis Iran, we recognize the importance of providing objective and balanced information and analysis on issues affecting the Iranian American community and pertinent to policymakers."

However, I found the report anything but objective or balanced. In fact, I found it quite the opposite, that is biased and toeing the Necon's line.  Coming from an Iranian-American group, it is surprising that it is repeatedly stated in the report as fact what is at best an allegation.  Starting with the first paragraph, we are led to believe Iran is developing a nuclear weapon!

"With the escalating tensions over Iran's capabilities to potentially produce a nuclear weapon, additional unilateral and multilateral sanctions have recently been levied against Iran."

No such proof has of course been provided, neither by IAEA nor the US government. There are of course suspicions and accusations, but no proof.  It is "facts" like this that can justify a military confrontation and bring devastation to Iran, and harm the interests of Americans by adding to the war casualties and piling up additional Trillions of debt. Not to mention the havoc this can bring to the global economy which we are part of.

So this is at best reckless for PAAIA to repeat the same allegations as facts. Even the U.S. government funded VOA or RFE/RL are usually more careful to state that "Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes." In fact I did a search for "peaceful" in PAAIA's report and I came empty-handed! Is this what we can call "balanced?"

It is however interesting that when it comes to acts of discrimination against Iranian-Americans due to sanctions, PAAIA is more careful to add the word "alleged" in the report: 

"Additionally, the overzealous policies of companies attempting to comply with the sanctions and U.S. embargo have resulted in alleged acts of discrimination or profiling."

Furthermore, there is no discussion on the important fact that most of the sanctions imposed by US on Iran are unilateral, and to make them work, these sanctions are also being imposed on other nations as well. The word unilateral only appears in the first paragraph and in one quote: 

"The history of similar efforts [sanctions] demonstrates that such a unilateral approach would provoke a negative response from our allies and would divert attention from an effective, coordinated response to Iran's nuclear ambition."

There are other inaccuracies in the report including the following claim that Iran has implemented subsidy cuts as a result of sanctions:

"As a result of the sanctions, the decrease in oil exports and revenues, and gasoline imports, the Iranian government has had to make changes to its internal capacities. In 2010, the government reduced gasoline and bread subsidies, while the electric rate was increased significantly."

Just a little research proves how untrue this statement is. The subsidy cuts had been in the works for years, and after some years of delays were finally put in place. In fact, World Bank has had positive words about the program:

"The Government has launched a major reform of its indirect subsidy system, which, if successful would markedly improve the efficiency of expenditures and economic activities."

"Preliminary estimates suggest that the Government's comprehensive cash transfer program accompanying the ongoing subsidy reform has reduced extreme poverty and income inequality significantly."

It should also be noted that gasoline subsidy cuts have had positive impacts on the environment by forcing people to change their consumption habits, just as the high prices in the US are pushing people to buy the higher MPG cars.

Surprisingly, there is no mention of medicine shortages due to sanctions. There is however talk about soaring costs of medical supplies and medications which has made Iranians "reluctant" to obtain care!  Is this an intentional downplaying the impact of sanctions on the ordinary Iranians? Is "reluctant" the right term? How about unaffordable or unavailable?

"The cost of medical and dental care, medications and basic procedures and service have similarly soared, leaving many an Iranian resident reluctant to obtain much needed medical care."

Same is true about economy. PAAIA sites significant impact on Iranian economy. But Iranian people seem to be separate from the economy, since the heavy cost of sanctions on them isn't brought to light. Instead, we hear more about how this is impacting the nuclear weapons program:

"Although the precise effectiveness of international and U.S. sanctions against Iran remains open to debate, most experts believe that these sanctions against Iran have taken a substantial toll on Iran's economy. Apparent indications of the impact of sanctions include the significant devaluation of the Rial, the increasing cost of goods and services in the country, and the inability for Iran to maintain some of its core infrastructure due to a lack of sufficient supplies. The broader impact of sanctions can be seen in a host of other areas ranging from the challenges in developing nuclear weapons, decrease in exports and imports, and an overall increase in dissatisfaction among Iran's citizens."

Now if the following isn't an approval by PAAIA for military attack on Iran, then what is? 

"At the same time, many experts still doubt that severe and sustained economic pressure will be sufficient to persuade Iran to abandon its drive for nuclear weapons capability. 

While it is clear that sanctions are hurting the Iranian economy and influencing their behavior in the international arena, it remains unclear whether or not sanctions, coupled with diplomacy, will be sufficient to end the impasse with Iran over its nuclear program without addressing broader political accommodation."

"Repeat a lie 1000 times and it becomes the truth!"  That happened in the case of Iraq and their non-existent WMD program. But how short are our memories that we don't even remember we were fooled just yesterday! PAAIA has joined the chorus of groups singing the same WMD tune, this time about Iran.

PAAIA's report relies extensively on "experts" such as Patrick Clawson, Michael Eisenstadt, and Kenneth Katsman who are advocates of a military attack on Iran, while ignoring those scholars who oppose sanctions and war. PAAIA, an Iranian-American group, has all but accepted, and seems is advocating, a military attack on Iran as the natural next step after sanctions.  Is this the leadership one must expect from this organization? 

There is strong opposition to a military action against Iran both in the US and around the globe. It is also notable to point there are officials in Israel who are showing true leadership by opposing an attack on Iran.  There is even a facebook campaign by Iranian and Israeli people against the war. So why has PAAIA decided to stand on the side of the war?  How can PAAIA's leadership justify such a war as being good for Iranians or for Americans? Why it it the consequences of an attack on Iran have not been considered in the report? How is it this very important information is missing from PAAIA's "objective and balanced" analysis?

So what is PAAIA bringing to the table that wasn't already there?  How are the Iranian-Americans supposed to benefit from this report? Now that we've been "informed," are we supposed to pick up the phone and call our parents and relatives in Iran to let them know they'll be attacked soon while we generate reports blessing these acts against them?

It is important to raise these questions now and have a debate on these very important issues.  PAAIA's leadership must clearly state their stand and their objectives in regards to a military attack against Iran. They owe this to their membership and to the Iranian-American community they claim to represent.

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