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The Race for Iran

A RESPONSE TO KARIM SADJADPOUR’S “THE SOURCES OF SOVIET IRANIAN CONDUCT”

Karim Sadjapour recently published a piece in Foreign Policy that clearly aspired to be the “Mr. X” article for America’s current policy debate on how to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are pleased to publish this rejoinder to Sadjadpour’s piece, by Reza Esfandiari, an independent analyst of Iranian affairs.

The Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be compared to the Soviet Union.

Karim Sadjadpour’s recent piece in Foreign Policy, “The Sources of Soviet Iranian Conduct”, likens the Islamic Republic to the Soviet Union and political Islam to communism: in doing so, he reflects a very profound misjudgment. While it may be true that Iran needs America as an enemy as the Soviets did, in also much the same way that it can be argued the United States needs the scourge of terrorism as a nemesis, it is hardly the case that any perceived enmity is artificial and purely for the purpose of internal consumption.

Sadjadpour predictably and unfairly dismisses Iran’s legitimate security concerns. Since 1995, Iran has become increasingly enveloped by a “military belt” of American forces positioned to the west, south and east. Although the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have actually boosted Iran’s strategic importance in the region, the Iranians are acutely aware that the United States wants to coerce and pressure them by applying its considerable military presence. There are also Iranian fears, justified or not, about the possible role of the National Endowment of Democracy and others in promoting ‘velvet revolution’, and the CIA in fomenting unrest in the Sunni regions of the country.

Despite, or perhaps because of this, it is widely recognized within Iran’s political and security establishment that rapprochement with the United States, on favorable terms, is a fundamental foreign policy goal. While Sadjadpour dwells incessantly on Ayatollah Khamenei’s rhetoric, he ignores the fact that the Iranian leader approved of the overtures of the Khatami administration to the Bush administration in cooperating over Afghanistan in 2001 and offering to help stabilize Iraq in 2003 (even though it was designated an “evil” state a year previously). [editor’s note: Khamenei also approved ambassadorial talks with the United States in and over Iraq in 2007, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had succeeded Khatami as President of the Islamic Republic.]

It is common within neoconservative circles to compare the present-day Islamic Republic with the final years of the Soviet Union and to anticipate another “Berlin wall moment” leading to regime change. It was incorrectly believed that Iran’s political system was disintegrating in the aftermath of the presidential election last year, when in reality the various centers of power were carefully maneuvering to preserve their vested interests and influence.

The circumstances, moreover, are markedly different. The Soviet Union collapsed because it was a multinational empire whose member republics desired independence from Russian domination. It was also a failing economy that could not modernize and provide even basic goods for its people. Iran, although multiethnic in nature, is well-integrated as a nation. The exception to this are Kurdistan and Baluchistan provinces where there are indeed separatist movements, but which do not have majority support among the local population.

The Iranian economy, although plagued by structural problems and stressed by sanctions, is both stable and growing—Iran’s trade with international markets has picked up significantly in the last few years while inflation has fallen dramatically according to the IMF. The government feels confident enough to implement an ambitious economic reform program that would eliminate the subsidies which literally fuel the corruption, waste and inefficiency that Sadjadpour refers to.

The Iranian situation might be better compared to that of the French Revolution which took about 80 years to settle following the overthrow of the ancien régime. Iran, as a resurgent and proud nation, is going through the motions of finding its national identity in the modern world. There are indeed many competing factions within Iran but all envisage the country being the regional powerhouse in the Middle East, as it has been over the course of the last 2500 years, and a leader within the Islamic and Non-Aligned World. That means that there will be an inevitable conflict with the United States over the latter’s desire to preserve its global hegemony. The policy objective should be in finding the common ground and a broad framework for mutual interest and cooperation between both nations.

Reza Esfandiari

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232 Responses to “A RESPONSE TO KARIM SADJADPOUR’S “THE SOURCES OF SOVIET IRANIAN CONDUCT””

  1. James Canning says:

    Goli,

    I view the Revolutionary War as an unfortunate event and a regrettable mistake.

    Are you arguing that Reza Khan should have gone ahead with establishing a republic, even though this was strongly opposed by the religious leaders in Persia?

  2. Goli says:

    James Canning,

    Let me ask this. How is that I am often asked by unsuspecting new orientalists to speculate what the despotic, totalitarian, Imperialist pawn monarchs could have done differently for Iran whereas you (assuming you are American) got rid of your status as the subjects of the British Throne 300 years ago as it was so obviously and for good reasons unacceptable to continue to submit to his majesty? And why is it that 400 years prior to that, the English issued the Magna Carta declaring that the will of the monarch was not arbitrary and even he was subject to the rule of law, but I still have to ponder whether Reza, his repulsive son, or any of the Qajar lost souls, all of whom thought of themselves as categorically above all domestic laws, might have done something right, as if it should matter? Would one reason perhaps be that the West would not have achieved its modern status (which is rapidly diminishing) were in not for systematic exploitation of resources in countries like Iran brought to you by these pathetic collaborating enablers?

    As for what Reza could have done differently, I think you should and do know better. Therefore, I refer you to history and suggest that in interpreting it this time, you use the same moral principles you apply to your reading of the history of the modern western internal political development.

  3. James Canning says:

    Goli,

    What do you think Reza Shah should have done differently? Or are you comparing him in cultural terms to the Qajars?

  4. Goli says:

    James,

    Yes, but he was also a miserable second-rate dictator (compared to Ataturk), a little better than his son though.

  5. James Canning says:

    Goli,

    Thanks, and yes, my understanding accords with yours.

    It is interesting to consider, in recent times, that the late Shah’s father was strongly nationalist and that he treated Iranians as Iranians because they were citizens of Iran, and religion did not enter into that calculation. There seems to be some tension in the current government as to what should be the basis for determing what is in the national interest.

  6. James Canning says:

    “When [G. W.] Bush traveled to Evian, France, for a Western summit in spring 2003,, his spokespeople let it be known that he had no intention of speaking to the leaders of Germany or France. The post-Iraq policy, as [Condoleezza] Rice allegedly defined it, was “Punish France, isolate Germany, forgive Russia.’” The Russians, of course, had supported France in its fight with the US at the Un prior to the idiotic invasion of Iraq.

    The quote is from The Book of Bush by Eric Alterman and Mark Green.

  7. Goli says:

    James Canning,

    Let me try to clarify what I meant.

    I am not saying that the Zoroastrians, during the Sassanid era, never tried to convert others and by implication were somehow tolerant of other religions, or that they always and without exception found it to their advantage to use their distinct religion as a means to maintain and promote their privileged status. In my view, there certainly is nothing inherent in Zoroastrianism (including the centrality of free will) that deems it a particularly tolerant religion, and an invading or ruling force would not be one without a strong element of ideological and cultural coercion.

    During the Sassanid reign, it is widely believed that Shapour II and Yazdgard II did engage in forceful conversion of Armenia. Many other Sassanid kings did not engage in large-scale conversion efforts and are thought to have been accepting of other religions.

    I think, however, that unlike the Abrahamic religions, Zoroastrianism has always been a non-proselytizing religion. (This is not a modern phenomenon like in Judaism, one that came about after the Arab invasion of Iran out of fear, or as a result of Parsi Zoroastrians trying to keep a low profile to survive in India.) Unlike in Islam and Christianity, proselytizing has never been central to the Zoroastrian religion. While some Sassanid kings, partly out of strategic interest and partly based on religious zeal, sought to convert the people they invaded, in general there was very little conviction on the part of the upper caste Zoroastrians to spread the words of Zarathustra, and much more interest in preserving the class system in one way or another. Letting the invaded keep their religion, imposing high taxes on them, and treating them as second-class citizens was often a better option for the Zoroastrians kings.

  8. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    Do we agree the Bush administration pledged at the time of the first UN resolution, that the US would not proceed to war without a follow-on resolution?

  9. Alan says:

    James – there is a swathe of comprehensive primary source information from Goldsmith himself about this.

    As I said below, he relies heavily on Jeremy Greenstock’s account of what each party said during the negotiation. A different kind of deniability arises from the wording of 1441 – the French could say they didn’t approve the war, but they couldn’t say they prevented it. The wording gives each of them their wiggle room. It’s the filthy way these things work; it all comes down to diplomatic chicanery so each party can get what they need out of it.

  10. James Canning says:

    Goli,

    As I understand, about 300 (AD) there were about as many Zoroastrians in the Eastern Roman Empire as there were Christians. One of the Sassanid emperors instituted severed persecution of the Christians in his empire, and the E. Roman Emperor did the same to Zoroastrians.

  11. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    I take it we agree the Bush administration pledged it would not proceed to war with Iraq, without a further UN resolution. My understanding is that France was adamant on this point.

    I will look for a link.

    Dick Cheney’s gang may have used the ploy of claiming France did not require a second UN resolution, to give Lord Goldsmith deniability. At the time the first UN resolution went through, there was no doubt the agreed meaning of the resolution did not admit for proceeding with war, without a follow-on resolution.

  12. Alan says:

    James – I have heard about such assurances but I don’t know the provenance of them. Can you give me a link?

    Goldsmith claims the French had said to the US that a second resolution wasn’t necessary.

  13. Goli says:

    Reza,

    You say, “Zoroastrianism was never well received outside of Iran. The Sassanids tried to make Armenia Zoroastrian but failed.”

    Zoroastrians were never really interested in converting the invaded. The overly ostentatious Iranian royalty viewed their religion with its cast system as a tool to help maintain their power and their economic/social/political status within their own people. Bringing new people in would have just disrupted the system and made things more complicated. That is an unfortunate fact of our history, like or not.

  14. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    Do I take it you are well aware of “deniability” and how lawyers set up what lies they will tell, if something big goes wrong?

    The US gave assurances, in order to obtain the first UN resolution, that the US would not go to war without a second UN resolution. Are we agreed on this?

  15. Alan says:

    James – they may have bragged about it, but the nature of the “evidence” against Saddam was not within Goldsmith’s remit. The US officials need not have “worked him over”, as he was out of that loop. That’s not to say they didn’t give him an earful, they may have, but it would appear to have been rather pointless.

    The value of the “evidence” was in getting the UNSC to pass 1441, and in giving the politicians what they required to accuse Saddam of a further breach. Cheney’s gang did their real work there. All Goldsmith was concerned with was whether another resolution was required to go to war, not whether the evidence was sufficient to go to war. I think it’s an important distinction.

    He based his conclusion, heavily I think, on the negotiations that went into the wording of 1441, which possibly was not open material available for others to consider.

  16. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    Dick Cheney’s “gang” was comprised primarily of lawyers, engaged in setting up an illegal war on knowingly false grounds. After Goldsmith’s visit to Washington, the gang bragged about how they had “done a number” on him and “really worked him over”.

    You seem to be conversant with the concept of “deniability” by which lawyers set up in advance what lies they will tell, if things go badly. The gang knew the “Niger documents” were forgeries, and the gang allowed Bush to refer to them in his State of the Union address in 2003 as part of their conspiracy to set up the illegal war.

  17. Alan says:

    James – Goldsmith denies that story. He relies heavily on Jeremy Greenstock’s version of how the negotiations over 1441 unfolded, how the way 1441 was worded (to give Saddam “one more chance”) was to throw a bone to the French in return for which they wouldn’t demand a second resolution, and how the French apparently told the US they didn’t need a second resolution and should shut up about it.

  18. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Persuade (not pursuade). Dick Cheney “went ballistic” after the New York Times carried the story written by Joe Wilson, about the trip to Niger, because he (and Scooter Libby) did not want the American public to understand they were hoodwinked deliberately. Cheney knew the Niger documents had been exposed as forgeries, and that French intelligence had twice investigated the matter thoroughly, long before Wilson went to Niger. For Cheney, it was essential to keep the American public confused and frightened.

  19. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    I take heart that at least in the UK there is a good bit of effort to establish what heppened, and why. The Times (London) reported Oct. 26th that Tony Blair will have to give more answers to the inquiry, to fill in gaps.

    Lord Goldsmith was pursuaded to change his mind because otherwise the UK military commanders would have balked (at participating in illegal war). Dick Cheney’s gang put on a high pressure programme just days before the invasion, to induce Lord Goldsmith into changing his legal opinion. Some of the lawyers who participated in the effort to induce that change of mind openly admitted they had done a job on him.

  20. kooshy says:

    Alan- James

    Some people in the world question, if the citizens of the United Kingdom which are arguably better informed than their American allies, are having a mind bugling guilty feeling for their elected government’s participation in the illegal invasion of Iraq, which resulted in killing and destruction of millions of innocent people of Iraq that were not in any way threatening the UK or US or anybody else on this planet. A war which majority of the world’s civilized inhabitants knows it was illegal and based on lies made by both British and American administrations. Is this guilty feeling the reason that we encounter some are trying to somehow justify their respected government’s decision?

  21. James Canning says:

    Dan,

    The Saudis will not be using the $60 billion in new armaments bought from the US (if deal goes through) against Iran, unless Iran attacks first.

    Pieter Wezeman is quoted as saying: “Of course [the weapons deal] is against Yemen.” Surely he refers to Saudi concerns about the insurgencies in Yemen.

    Most of the “Saudis” involved in the 9/11 attacks were of Yemeni origin.

  22. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya’s notion of a “unified order in Eurasia” that the “US and its allies are trying to halt” is rather preposterous.

    I think some people miss the days when the world powers were in two camps. But even that did not last long, when China split from the Soviet camp.

    Russia and China want stability and economic growth. These goals should be those of the US as well.

  23. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    The US assured Germany and France that UN 1441 did not authorize war with Iraq, and that a further UN resolution would be needed and obtained before any war could go forward. This is a clear expression of the meaning of 1441 from one of the parties that promoted it.

    US duplicity lies at the heart of the Iraq War catastrophe. This duplicity, of course, was arranged by the warmongering neocons WHOSE PRIMARY OBJECT WAS TO BENEFIT ISRAEL.

  24. James Canning says:

    Alan and Castellio,

    My understanding is that the two Taft brothers helped Scooter Libby to ensure Lord Goldsmith did not impede the invasion of Iraq, and that they met with him when he went to Washington shortly before the invasion. I think there were discussions about “really working him over” – - referring to Lord Goldsmith.

  25. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Kooshy

    Thanks for posting Nazemroaya’s piece on the geopolitics of the Green movement. I wish someone would do an investigation into the links between neocons like Ledeen and Mousavi’s office when he was prime minister during the Iran=Contra scandal.

    In a debate with Flynt, he clearly states that he has maintained a relationship with Mousavi’s aides:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNpVnGkjz9I

    Then there is this interview with Ledeen on ‘Newsmax TV’ – at first I thought the interviewer was a joke straight out of ‘Anchorman’ – but this serious!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZh14rAxOOc&feature=related

    He states that Mousavi and wife Rahnavard wants to “dismantle the Islamic Republic.”

    Interesting.

  26. Castellio says:

    Thanks, Alan.

  27. Alan says:

    Castellio, re. Lord Goldsmith:

    He says he wasn’t deceived, and justified his erroneous and fatal (literally) decision by going back to UN accords of 1991.

    He has blood on his hands, and he’s proud to say he wasn’t deceived when he bloodied them.

    He’s a complicated one. If you’re interested, have a look at this, p29-31, an internal memo which explained how he reached his decision:

    http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/43468/legal-advisers-correspondence.pdf

    Key to his decision was understanding the negotiations that took place over UNSCR 1441, his interpretation of which doesn’t seem too bad.

    Although not mentioned in the link, he has stated that his job was to evaluate the legality only, not the wisdom, of the war and he pointedly does not endorse the war. Any US deception that may have taken place would have not been within his remit as that deception had already been accepted by the UNSC.

  28. Castellio says:

    Kooshy… on that site a new article is up that captures the ‘reality’ of America today quite well. I think we need the large view from very high up, but the reality of our future is also being determined by the very dirty and very close.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21746

  29. kooshy says:

    Castellio

    Sorry and hanks for a reminder , here is the link

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21612

  30. Castellio says:

    Kooshy, I had read the article on the Global Research website. Isn’t that what adding a link is for?

  31. kooshy says:

    Very interesting geostrategic analysis of Iran, I recommend

    War and the Conquest of Eurasia: Iran’s “Green Wave” Opposition and its Ties to Global Geopolitics

    By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

    Global Research, October 25, 2010

    The Russian and Chinese need for a strategic Iranian partner is a component of any defensive strategy or viable alternative against American and European Union encroachment into their geopolitical spheres of interest.

    In 2009, the Russian and Chinese need for having a government in power in Tehran that would be allied to them became apparent during the 2009 period of post-election restlessness in Iran. Moscow, Beijing, and many other capitals worldwide all kept close eyes on Iran when riots and protests spilled into Iranian streets.
    The “Green Wave” or Green Revolution pertains to the riots by a segment of the opposition after Iran’s 2009 presidential elections. The movement gets its name from the colour of the Iranian flag that presidential candidate Mir-Hussein Mousavi selected. This event could have become a geo-political coup against the political entity of Eurasia. It very well could have become a bona fide geo-political threat to the interests of Russia and China. Inversely, the Green Wave was welcomed by America, Britain, France, Germany, Israel and their allies.

    In order to understand the Sino-Russian need for Iran, the geo-political dimensions of the Green Wave need to be discussed, as well as how these factors are linked to Iran as a geo-strategic pivot and its policy options as a political player on the international stage. A related dimension is the cohesive development of a unified order in Eurasia that the U.S. and its allies are trying to halt. Iran is crucial in the process of Eurasian cohesion which involves a core triple alliance consisting of the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and Iran.

    The Green Wave and the political riots that broke out in Iran emerged for a large number of inter-linked reasons. There were different motivations amongst its members and organizers. There are different explanations and perspectives on the causes and motivations of the Green Wave. All these factors are part of a broader understanding of the relationship between internal Iranian politics and global geo-politics.

    Amid the descriptions of the Green Wave as a democratic struggle or a fight for greater civil liberties, however, is the fact that it reflects an element of in-fighting amongst the Iranian elites. This point is crucial. For all intents and purposes, this key feature of the Green Wave is what must be kept in mind when discussing it at the geo-political level.

    Utilitarian Geo-Strategy and the War Preparations of Eurasia
    It is easy to overlook the impact of geographic factors in historical, political, social, and economic development.

    Most scholars and analysts correctly try to avoid the simplistic fallacies of geographical determinism. Yet, the role of geography should not be overlooked in the course of human development. For example, energy production is tied to the physical reality of a land and in the past a people living on a coastline would be oriented towards the sea and fishing in most, if not all, aspects of their collective lives, from the economic to the socio-cultural. By the same token human actions should not be attributed to geography alone. Human agency has always had a role to play in the developmental path of humans and their societies.

    In regards to the matters at hand, they are inescapably tied to a geographic reality that is too strong to be ignored. The drive to control Eurasia by the Periphery is part of this. This drive, which has been pushing inwards towards the Eurasian Heartland, has been framed in many different ways throughout modern history. The Periphery is a conceptual term applied to the U.S., Britain, the E.U., Japan, Australia, and their allies, which are essentially states outside of Eurasia or on its outskirts.

    A new term must also be applied at this point: utilitarian geo-strategy. Utilitarian geo-strategy, a term coined herein, is the application or projection of utilitarianism or utilitarian values to geo-politics. The term is new, but this mode of thinking is not. This term captures both the spirit and the basis of modern geo-strategy and gives it a tangible form. Today it is utilitarian geo-strategy, with its materialist basis, that is the dogma behind the march to war in the Middle East and the rest of Eurasia.
    Halford J. Mackinder also understood this reality in terms of what he called strategic geography. Mackinder stated that every organized state, which he called a civilized nation, was related to the physical land that it occupied in two ways: “Whatever the exchanges effected by trading, [a country] is (I) ultimately dependent upon the past and present [products] of its own territory, and (2) [a country] must be prepared to defend that territory against the intrusion of covetous neighbours.”[1] It is precisely in preparation for these phenomena that Eurasia’s countries are preparing themselves for; they are preparing to defend their territories against intrusion in all its forms, ranging military occupation to economic colonization.
    The basis of the matter is clearly economic and pedestalled on utilitarian values. Mackinder too recognized this economic nature. He wrote as follows on the subject: “The two groups of ideas involved may be roughly indexed under the terms economic and strategic. We may describe economic geography as concerned with raising and distribution of commodities, and strategic geography as dealing with the larger topographical conditions of offence and defence. But the problems to be solved are closely inter-related, for defence is essentially the protection of the means of economic subsistence…” [2]
    The planet Earth’s largest spatial entity is Eurasia and it has the longest coast, largest population, a tremendous wealth of natural resources (from energy to minerals), the largest work force, and the largest share of global economic activity.

    If the nations of Eurasia were to unite as one player they would in all respects be unmatched. Preventing Eurasian cohesion has been one of the primary aims of the U.S. and its allies. Above all, this preventionist policy practiced by the U.S. has targeted four Eurasian states: Russia, China, India, and Iran, as well as the entire post-Soviet space.
    What we are dealing with is the framework of geo-political and geo-strategic maneouvers by the U.S. and its allies in Eurasia on the one hand and the counter-maneouvers of Russia, China, and Iran, on the other. It is also at this point where a Eurasian alliance comes into discussion. India has managed to guard itself from the geo-political firing line and has kept a sheltered distance from a Eurasian alliance or entente. Russia, Iran, and China – the other three Eurasian states mentioned – in all practical terms have formed a real alliance through various formal and informal agreements, understandings, ties, and organizations.

    What sets Iran aside from Russia and China?

    Although very influential, Iran is not as large a power or nation as China, Russia, and India. Nor is Iran as strong as these other Eurasian states, but the Iranian role in this Eurasian equation is very significant.

    Moreover, Iran is characterised by “geo-political flexibility” in contrast to the other big Eurasian states. Almost all countries are to some extent geo-strategic pivots, but the degree to which they are a geo-strategic pivot varies. Iran is a heavy geo-strategic pivot, which simply means that all geo-political players must adjust their policies, behaviours, and strategies on the basis of Iranian behaviour. In other words, Tehran’s behaviour is a global game changer.

    Iran is also distinguished by another important attribute. Unlike Beijing and Moscow, Tehran essentially can strike a long-term deal with the U.S. and its allies. Any agreement struck between the U.S. and its allies with the Russians and Chinese can only be a short-term arrangement. In the long-run China and Russia are the ultimate targets of American encroachment in Eurasia. It is the survival of Russia and China as independent nations states which is at stake.

    Both Moscow and Beijing are major economic rivals and threats to U.S. hegemony. Due to geography the vast influences, resources, markets, and territories of Russia and China are the ultimate prize for the U.S. and its allies. India too, in the long-term faces real jeopardy. For America, the elimination of all rivals and potential rivals are part of this policy.
    In line with the utilitarian geo-strategy being used by the U.S. and its allies, Washington can afford to make a compromise or deal with Iran and co-opt Tehran, unlike Beijing and Moscow. This statement, however, has to be qualified further; the U.S. can afford to make a compromise or deal with Tehran that is if the Iranians were not a real threat to American control and interests, which Israel also represents, in the Middle East. In the late 1990s, Zbigniew Brzezinski warned that “[I]t is not in America’s interest to perpetuate American-Iranian hostility.” [3] Brzezinski warned that Iran should not be antagonized by America into a position where Tehran would ally itself with Russia and China.

    This U.S. willingness to deal with Iran is primarily due to the geographic scale or size of Iran, which is much smaller than either Russia or China. Iran can manage to exist with a smaller share of global resources and influence due to its smaller size and population, but both Russia and, more specifically, China are not able to do so in the longer term. Brzezinski argues in this regard:

    “Any eventual reconciliation [between America and Iran] should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran.” [4]

    What Brzezinski means by this statement is that joint Iranian-American cooperation and control should be pursued in Iran’s immediate neighbourhoods, which are the Middle East, Central Asia, and possibly the Caucasus. He further qualified his statement: “Admittedly, any such reconciliation [by America and Iran] must be pursued by both sides and is not a [favour] granted by one to the other.” [5] What Brzezinski means is that Iran must be bargained or haggled with and an understanding must be reached between the elites of both Iran and America.

    This geo-strategic position puts Iran in a unique position, which enables it to detach itself from Russia and China and make a Libya-like arrangement with the U.S. and its allies. A Libya-like arrangement is as follows; Libya was in the cross-hairs of the Anglo-American war march before 2003, but Tripoli gave in to the U.S. and E.U. after it saw Baghdad fall.

    Tripoli was also aware of what American and British leaders were planning; it started secret negotiations with the White House in 2001. Since then Libya has made major energy deals with the U.S. and its allies and its leader, Colonel Qaddafi, has since been welcomed back into the international community. This has been part of the policy course that in the past Brzezinski had recommended to the US administration in dealing with Libya, Iraq, and Iran.
    Tehran can be used to Destabilize and Balkanize Russia and China

    Iran could also seriously destabilize Russia and China through support to their separatist movements, which have ethno-cultural ties to Iran. Brzezinski states: “A strong, even religiously motivated but not fanatically anti-Western Iran is in the U.S. interest, and ultimately even the Iranian political elite may recognize that reality.” [6] What he could mean is that if cooperation between Iran and America took place that both nations could work together to start dividing the republics of the former Soviet Union between them and that Iran’s ties to Islam could be used to control Central Asia and the Caucasus and counter Russian and Chinese influence in both regions. In other words, Iran could effectively be used to counter Chinese and Russian interests in these regions as an arm of America.

    In regards to understanding the Green Wave, what Brzezinski says about the Iranian political elites and their recognition of “reality” is key. He is referring to two things. Firstly, the geo-political flexibility of Iran, which has thus far been explained, and secondly, the pragmatist camp in Iran, which will be addressed, that wants cooperation with America in a global order which includes Iran.

    In regards to co-opting Iran, Brzezinski also writes: “American long-range interests in Eurasia would be better served by abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the construction of new pipelines, and also in the construction of other links between Iran, [the Republic of] Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.” [7]

    What was being implied through this statement was the buttressing of Iran against Russian control of Eurasian energy routes and American support for Nabucco and Nabucco-like energy pipelines. Additionally, it may well be that the ongoing integration of both the Iranian and Syrian economies and markets with that of the Turkish economy and market would incorporate both Iran and Syria into the global economy and make them more susceptible to American and E.U. control. In other words, the end result could be that both Iran and Syria could find themselves inadvertently part of the American and E.U. global system.
    Thus, the overall nature of this situation, with the utilitarian geo-strategy at its basis, leads to a paradox. In the longer-term the U.S. and its allies can negotiate with the Iranians, but in order to avert cohesion in Eurasia and to prevent Russia and China from appropriately preparing themselves or challenging U.S. hegemony in the shorter-term they can not negotiate with Tehran. This is why the Iranian nuclear issue, which is based on what the U.S., the E.U., and Israel have painted as a finite window of time, is the primary grounds for negotiations with Iran. Naturally, if there must be a shorter-term outcome for the U.S. then there can no longer really be a longer-term solution or understanding between the U.S. and Iran.

    Using Turkey to Coax Iran away from the Eurasians?

    The ties between Ankara and Tehran have been getting stronger. Both states are talking about a common market and regional free-trade in the Middle East. Already a series of free-trade agreements have been signed involving Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordon, Iraq, and Iran. The Turkish government has also been pushing Libya to sign a free-trade agreement with Ankara.

    The amicable relations Ankara has fostered with Iran and Syria can be used to

    (1) explain what appears to be a Turkish shift in foreign policy and (2) the public chill in ties between Israel and Turkey. This, however, could be part of (3) a U.S. strategy to coax Iran and Syria into its orbit and away from Iran’s Russian and Chinese allies. The development of the so-called Iranian-Syrian-Turkish Axis should take place with caution, because things may end up being quite different than the establishment of a genuine regional alliance and bloc.

    Neo-Conservatives at the Helm of American Foreign Policy: The Grand Blunder and Iran

    Why has Iran refused to budge? There could be several reasons, including an Iranian calculation that the U.S. and its allies will succumb to the rising strength of Russia, China, and Iran if Tehran remains in the entente of Eurasia with Moscow and Beijing. Another reason could be because of the blunder of the neo-conservatives running American foreign policy. The Iranians will not trust the U.S. and its allies due to the strategic blunder of George W. Bush Jr. and his administration, which gave foreign policy control mostly to the neo-conservatives or neo-cons. [8]

    While Zbigniew Brzezinski has been categorized as an American foreign policy realist, the neo-conservatives have not. Both the realists and the neo-conservatives share the same economic objectives, but how they go about doing it is different.

    The neo-conservatives use ideology as a means to depict reality. Moreover, realists believe that wars should not be fought to further U.S. interests unless necessary, while neo-conservatives believe that military might must actively be used to shape the global environment. The realists are also pragmatic or opportunists in international relations, while the neo-conservatives are unrelenting in regards to policy with a black and white depiction of international relations.

    While George W. Bush Jr. was in the Oval Office, the neo-conservatives had great influence over the Pentagon and foreign policy. It was under the neo-conservatives that the Bush Jr. Administration turned their backs on Tehran after the Iranian government helped America and Britain in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and tried to make a grand bargain via the Swiss government.[9] Perhaps drunk with victory and hubris in what seemed like easy wins over Afghanistan and Iraq and with the surrender of Libya, the Bush Jr. White House thought that it could press forward in subduing Iran. It was at this point in time that senior members of the Bush Jr. Administration were enthusiastically saying: “Anyone can go to Baghdad! Real men go to Tehran!”

    Iran was already the last nation on a list of countries to be subdued that also included Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, and Syria. In one way or another, the U.S. had directly or indirectly attacked or subdued each one of these countries since 2001. Moreover, it was also during this timeframe that the U.S. tried to accuse Syria in the same fashion as Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and even openly talked about invading Syria. Israel also tried to instigate a war with Syria, which Damascus said was part of a ploy to create a pretext for an American and British invasion of Syria.

    Regardless of the reasons for the Bush Jr. Administration’s decision not to deal with Iran, it was a major geo-strategic error for the United States. Not dealing with Iran was a massive blunder that could very well have cost the U.S. elites their objective of primacy over Eurasia. This U.S. blunder pushed Tehran further into the arms of Russia and China.
    Pragmatic Iran: A Wild Card in the Eurasian Deck?

    Iran is a regional power that can challenge the U.S., Russia, and China for hegemony in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East.

    In 1993, Brzezenski said that “Iran is clearly an aspirant to regional hegemony and it is prepared to outwait the United States.” [10] He adds: “[Iran] has an imperial tradition and possesses both the religious and nationalist motivation to contest both the American and the Russian presence in the area. In doing so, it can count on the religious sympathy of its [neighbours]. With both religion and nationalism conspiring against an alien regional hegemony, the current American supremacy in the Middle East is built, quite literally, on sand.” [11]

    Even though China and Russia allowed United Nations Security Council sanctions to be imposed on Iran, both did so to keep Iran within their camp. Moscow and Beijing went along with U.N. sanctions in order to keep Iran, an independent ally and potential rival, in place. Their support of U.N. sanctions is limited and will only go so far as it serves their strategic interests. This is why both are against unilateral sanctions against Iran and are opposed to U.S. and E.U. sanctions.

    Both China and Russia are well aware that the U.S. would rather co-opt Iran into its ambitious scheme for Eurasia as a satellite or partner rather than risk open warfare. The aim of Sino-Russian objectives is to prevent any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Iranian needs are, in this regard, far easier to accommodate for the U.S. than are those of China and Russia.

    To keep a safe distance between the U.S. and Iran is one of the reasons why Beijing and Moscow have supported limited U.N. sanctions. As Iran is forced to draw away from the so-called Western World it further integrates itself with Russia and China. U.N. economic sanctions also oblige Iran to shift its economic ties away from the E.U. and towards Russia, China, the former Soviet republics, the Bolivarian Bloc, and Asian countries. This shift has resulted in the replacement of E.U. members like Italy and Germany by countries like China as Iran’s main trading partners.

    According to the European Commission, in 2004 the E.U. accounted for 35.1 percent of the total market share of trade with Iran. [12] According to the same figures, in 2004 Iran was also ranked twenty-fourth in the European Union’s total trade volume and Iran was one of the top six suppliers of energy to the European Union. [13] As E.U. trade with Iran has started to decline Asian trade has inversely risen. Russia and China are moving in to fill the trade voids and thus securing Iran further within their Eurasian camp. In simple terms, Moscow and Beijing are removing the flexibility of Iran to leave the orbit of their Eurasian entente.

    In regards to neutralizing Iranian rivalry, one set of U.N. sanctions against Iran are also directed against the Iranian defence industry and Iranian military exports. This is a means to eliminate competition from Iran, which has a growing defence industry that makes a wide range of military hardware from tanks to military aircraft and rockets. Iran was also exporting weapons to NATO states as clients before the U.N. sanctions.

    The re-orientation of Tehran’s trade and international relationships is advantageous to Russia and China. As German banks like Commerzbank AG, Dresdner Bank AG, and Deutsche Bank AG sever their ties with Iran the financial vacuum is filled by Asian banks and investors. The Iranian banking sector has also become seriously involved with the banking sectors of Venezuela, Syria, Belarus, and several ex-Soviet republics.

    The Iranian shift away from the E.U. towards non-E.U. and Asian states was also a foreign policy goal of the administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This new foreign policy was dubbed in Iran as “looking to the East.” As a mixture of sanctions and the policies of Ahmadinejad this shift is reflected in Iran’s gravitation and attraction towards the SCO, the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC).
    The Differences between Iranian-Russian and Chinese-Iranian Bilateral Relations

    Beijing is the most important player in the triple entente of Eurasia. Iranian and Chinese interests conflict less with one another than those of Moscow and Tehran. Overall, both Tehran and Moscow give higher priority and value to their ties with China than with one another.

    Both Russia and Iran are exporters of energy, while China is an importer of energy resources. The Russians and Iranians also are interest in controlling many of the same markets. Both have intensive interest in the South Caucasus and in control of the energy corridors around the Caspian Sea Basin. For these reasons the Kremlin wants Iran to be strong enough to challenge and resist America and its allies, but not strong enough to challenge Moscow over influence in the republics of the former Soviet Union. This can also be used to explain why Moscow has pressured Tehran to enrich uranium through Russia or on Russian territory the tensions between Tehran and Moscow under President Dmitry Medvedev.

    The People’s Republic of China has a vested interest in a strong Iran, albeit a strong Iran that is unfriendly with America. Chinese-Iranian bilateral relations are mutually beneficial. Chinese strategists see Iran as one of the four re-emerging centres of global power; the others are Russia, China, and India. Brazil is an emerging (and not re-emerging) centre of power. On April 9, 2008 during a visit to Tehran the Chinese Assistant-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zhai Jun, stated that Iran’s growth of power in the Middle East and globally is in Beijing’s interest, while meeting with Iranian officials. [14]

    Fortress Eurasia is Vulnerable without Iran: Moscow and Beijing need Tehran

    Beijing and Moscow are both aware of the ramifications of a major American-led war against Iran and its allies in the Middle East. The Russians are aware that if Iran were to fall then the U.S. and NATO would focus on Russia as next in the firing line.

    Iran is best described by what the German geographer and scholar Georg Stadtmüller called, in reference to Albania, as a “Durchgangsland” (gateway state). [15] Iran is the Durchgangsland into the former Soviet Union and Russia’s soft underbelly.

    If Iran were to shift its orbit, Moscow would be in jeopardy. Russia would loose an important ally and the U.S. would open a major gateway into the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The doorway to Russia’s “Near Abroad” would be swung open through Iran. Iran is also the cheapest and most ideal route for exporting the oil and the gas of these regions.

    The Russian military-industrial complex would also be weakened because of the closure of a lucrative market if Iran where to enter the Anglo-American and Franco-German orbit. Russian plans, in partnership with Iran, to create a powerful gas cartel similar to OPEC that would also involve Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Algeria would also be shattered. On the other hand, China is aware that its energy security would be threatened further and the Chinese economy would be held hostage to foreign edicts because of Chinese energy needs.

    Due to all these factors a tactical and strategic understanding has been cautiously paved in Eurasia between Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran. What initially started due to necessity has become a Eurasian triple entente. A major attack on Iran therefore will be an attack on Russia and China.

    The Green Wave and its ties to Global Geo-Politics

    So with all these factors at play in regards to the Iranian equation, what effect do they have on the Green Wave? Nationalism, geo-political speculation, capital, and demands for civil liberties have been facing off in Iran; the clashes that resulted from the 2009 Iranian presidential elections, that where held on July 12, are a result of these dynamics.

    The geo-politics of confrontation between Eurasia and the Periphery became evident in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian major cities, like Tabriz and Shiraz, through the chants of the Green Wave. Not only did they opposed the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and accused his side of rigging the presidential election through fraud, but made accusations against Russia and China.

    Their chants included: “Down with Russia and China!” and “No to Lebanon and no to Gaza!” The street chants of the Iranian opposition suggests a correlation between the regional theatres in the Middle East (Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories) and the broader theatres in Eurasia involving Russia, China, the U.S., and NATO.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also congratulated by Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and China’s President Hu Jintao in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg during an SCO meeting on July 16, 2009. President Ahmadinejad arrived in Russia after the Iranian elections. Beijing, Moscow, and the SCO collectively threw their political support behind Ahmadinejad. The welcomed treatment of Ahmadinejad, even as an observer, at the Yekaterinburg Summit shows the Russian and Chinese attachment towards advocates of the Primakov Doctrine in Iran and an Iranian government opposed to U.S. policy.

    Internal Divisions amongst Iranian Elites

    While the conditions in Iran existed for political dissent, it was powerful internal actors in Iran that helped unleash them after the re-election of Ahmadinejad. In part, the events behind the riots in Iran were fuelled by internal divisions amongst the ruling class in Iran. Mehdi Karroubi, one of the presidential candidates, also alluded during the presidential debates that there would be a post-election struggle.

    These divisions are linked to Iran’s “flexibility” in the geo-political chess match for Eurasia. The fact that Iran can negotiate with the U.S. in the short-term has a bearing on its internal divisions. The pragmatic nature of certain elite circles in Iran is also part of these internal divisions.

    Behind the scenes in Tehran, state price controls, manufacturing regulations, the removal of regulations on the Iranian finance and banking sector, and privatization have been issues at play. Large portions of state infrastructure and state assets have been sold and privatized. Iranian citizens for years enjoyed state subsidies, which contributed to keeping the price of foodstuffs, fuel, electricity, and other essential commodities at levels significantly below international prices. The Iranian government, however, has slowly been removing these state subsidies.

    Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Within the framework of the events leading to the Green Wave was a face-off within the Iranian elite between one side which wanted to preserve current policies and another that was formed by an alliance between Iranian business interests and civil liberties organizations. In the second camp of Iranian capital and civil liberties, the former group hid behind the latter group. This alliance between Iranian capital and groups demanding greater civil liberties may come as a surprise to some, but it is neither a historical nor political anomaly. Many movements and revolutions have been configured through such alliances.

    Alexis de Tocqueville’s work identified the French Revolution as a capitalist revolution. The goal of the French Revolution was not to destroy the state or organized religion, but to impose economic reformation and specifically the removal of restrictions on private property. In 1789 this was explicitly stated in Article Seventeen of the Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen): “Property being a sacred to and inviolable right, no one can be deprived of it, unless illegally established public necessity evidently demands it, under the condition of a just and prior indemnity.” [16]

    In its quest to remove economic restrictions French capital (business interests) aligned itself with the call for greater individual liberties and the ideas of the French Enlightenment. Under the new political order of the French Revolution, the bourgeois members of the Third Estate abolished state price controls, outlawed guilds (the forerunners of trade unions), removed restrictions on manufacturing, removed the regulations on finance and banking, removed the feudal rights of peasants, and finally appropriated and sold state and Roman Catholic Church lands as private property. [17] A massive wave of privatization consumed Revolutionary France. The French Revolution of 1848 also saw the same scenario unfold with an alliance between the working class and small capital. This historical scenario is in many regards relevant to the situation in present-day Iran.

    On the other side of the divide is the political camp of Ahmadinejad and his political allies, which includes both fervent revolutionary ideologues and Iranian business interests. They want Iran either firmly entrenched within the Eurasian alliance formed with China and Russia or as part of a new regional order in the Middle East. The military leadership of Iran, in both the Regular Iranian Armed Forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, also supports these positions. On the other hand Ali Akbak Hashemi Rafsanjani, his allies, and many of the business elite in Iran want a far more pragmatic or opportunistic course for Iran, like that of India. This latter group that Rafsanjani is a part of also does not want the window of time for negotiations with the U.S. and the E.U. to pass either.

    Rafsanjani is a very wealthy individual, a former Iranian president, and a powerful political figure. He is chairman of both the the Iranian Expediency Council as well as the Assembly of Experts. He personifies Iranian capitalism and the interests of the Iranian economic elite. Amongst his allies are Mohammed Khatami, the Iranian president from 1997 to 2005. Rafsanjani and his allies want the Iranian economy de-regulated; they embrace economic neo-liberalism, and want the Iranian economy to be fully integrated into the global economy. This camp is also willing to work against Russian and Chinese interests if it benefits them. Although the privatization of the national industries and state assets of Iran has continued into the second term of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was originally pushed forward by Rafsanjani, Khatami and their allies during Khatami’s tenure as president.

    In this divide amongst the Iranian ruling class, the advocates of civil liberties and freedoms are also mired and even being played as cards. These individuals have flocked to the banner of Mir-Hussein Mousavi, the last serving prime minister of Iran before the office was absorbed into the office of the Iranian president. Both Rafsanjani and Khatami have also put their support behind Mousavi. Greater civil liberties or the election results may be the concern of many of the protestors, but for most the ruling elites what is at stake is much different.

    The divide within the Iranian political elites has caused a political rapture in Tehran. Both sides accuse one another publicly of corruption. On Iranian public television, one notable instance was during the Iranian presidential election debates when Ahmadinejad accused Rafsanjani and his family of high treason and corruption. There were also notable tensions about the Central Bank of Iran (CBI); the opposition argued that the Central Bank and banking should not be subordinate to political control.

    Are the Threats of War directed at the Middle East or at the Eurasian Heartland?

    American foreign policy realists and Iranian pragmatists have been working to bridge the gap between the U.S. and Iran and bring about a deal between the Washington and Tehran. Yet, the U.S. and Iran both have allies that are opposed to this. Although Tel Aviv services U.S. interests in the Middle East, it is against Israeli interests for an American-Iranian rapprochement and this is why there have been hostile reactions from groups lobbying for Israeli interests. Certain Arab rulers also fear that American-Iranian rapprochement could result in the U.S. not opposing Iran from removing these Arab leaders from power. Because of their own interests, Moscow and Beijing would also be opposed to a strategic partnership between the U.S. and Iran.

    The U.S. geo-strategy in Eurasia is on thin grounds and the elites of America have invested far too much in it to see it collapse, including the configuration of the U.S. economy. This is why the situation is all the more critical. Desperate individuals can take desperate, hasty, and very reckless measures.

    Several simultaneous pretexts for war have been carefully sculpted and prepared by the White House and 10 Downing Street against Iran and its regional allies in the Middle East. This is part of a carefully crafted exposé for a broad regional conflict in the Middle East that will consume an area extending from the coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean to the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

    Washington’s move to label the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is part of the process of preparing pretexts and justifications for war and war crimes. This is not only part of the stylized approach of demonizing the so-called enemies in the “Global War on Terror.” The Geneva Conventions and the laws of war would be suspended in regards to a future war involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It would also provide a pretext for an U.S.-led attack against Iran on the grounds of fighting the “Global War on Terror.” Because of this label the U.S. government began claims that Iran shelters a terrorist organization as part of its misinformation campaign against Tehran. The campaign to financially isolate Iran and to impose sanctions on it are also part of this.

    Iranian military doctrine is defensive in nature, which does not mean that Iran is incapable of fighting back. Iran has significant military strength. As a nation, Iran can inflict significant losses on the U.S. and allied forces. It has the ability to repel U.S. attacks, except in the case of a massive nuclear attack. During the 2008 parliamentary election campaign, one of Iran’s key political figures, Ali Larijani, stated that a U.S. attack on Iran, which he considered to be remote, would not only be a gamble, but would be conducive to a major American defeat in the Middle East. It would also be the end of the U.S. status as a global power. Syrian Prime Minister Al-Otri (Al-Utri), had also intimated that an Israeli attack on Iran would be undermine Israel’s status as a significant power in the Middle East, as well as an end to the Zionist project.

    Iran and its allies have brushed aside what they call the hype and psychological warfare about the imminent danger of an American attack, saying that the U.S. is unable to execute such an attack. Tehran, however, has not ruled out operations to destabilize Iran or an American or Israeli attack, especially against Syria and Lebanon. Official voices from Tehran have also warned several times throughout 2010 that they expected attacks on their Arab allies.

    How much of the march to war is part of a smoke screen or intimidation tactics and how much is real? In passing, there is a haziness in regards to international relations, but it is undeniable that there are war preparations that have been made across Eurasia. The U.S. missile shield is a testimony to this. Moreover, the Iranians and their allies are confident that Iran will not be attacked. There are also signs that can be read as a move towards establishing détente too; the discussions between the U.S. and Iran over Iraq, Turkish-Iranian cooperation, the engagement of Syria by the E.U. and America, the improvement of ties between Syria and the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance in Lebanon, and the public recognition of Iran by the U.S. government as an important player in stabilizing Afghanistan. These all, however, could be used in conjunction with U.S. policies to further the goals of the U.S. and its allies for control of Eurasia. Time will tell.

    Notes

    [1] Halford J. Mackinder, Britain and the British Seas (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press Publishers, 1969), p.309.

    [2] Ibid.

    [3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives (N.Y.C., New York HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.204.

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] Ibid.

    [6] Ibid.

    [7] Ibid.

    [8] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, “The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia”, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), August 26, 2007.

    [9] Ibid.

    [10] Zbigniew Brzezenski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century, (N.Y.C., New York: Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1993) p.162.

    [11] Ibid.

    [12] European Commission, Bilateral Relations with Iran, 2004 Statistics.

    [13] Ibid.

    [14] “Iran proposes forming Asian union”, Tehran Times, April 10, 2008, p.2.

    [15] Georg Stadtmüller, “Landschaft und Geschichte in Albanisch-epirotischen Raum”, Revue Internationale des Études Balkaniques, vol. 3 (1937-1938): pp.345-370.

    [16] Frank Maloy Anderson, ed., The Constitution and Other Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France, 1789-1907 (N.Y.C., New York: Russell and Russell, 1908), pp. 59-61.

    [17] Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, trans. Stuart Gilbert, (N.Y.C., New York: Anchor Books, [1856] 1955).

  32. Dan Cooper says:

    By Rep. Ron Paul

    This month the US Administration notified Congress that it intends to complete one of the largest arms sales in US history to one of the most repressive regimes on earth.

    Saudi Arabia has been given the green light by the administration to spend $60 billion on some 84 new F-15 aircraft, dozens of the latest helicopters, and other missiles, bombs, and high-tech military products from the US weapons industry.

    Saudi Arabia, from where 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers came, is a family-run dictatorship, where there are no political parties, no independent press, and where any form of political dissent is met with the most severe punishment.

    We are told that we must occupy Afghanistan to encourage more rights for women, an issue on which the Saudi regime makes the Taliban look rather liberal by comparison.

    We are told that our increasingly aggressive policies toward Iran are justified by that country’s rigid Islamic laws and human-rights violations, while the even more repressive Islamic rule in Saudi Arabia is never mentioned.

    So why would the US government, which spends hundreds of billions of dollars yearly and maintains hundreds of bases overseas to push global democracy, approve a deal like this with such a regime?

    As Stockholm Institute scholar Pieter Wezeman told the Washington Post, “Of course it’s against Iran. Of course it’s against Yemen. You can read between the lines … but there are not any official statements about it.” Although the deal must be approved by Congress, there is little chance of any significant Congressional opposition for the above reason.

    Imagine if China had armed an aggressive, anti-American Mexico to the teeth. How would we feel? Threatened? That is likely how Iran feels with this massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

    To underscore this message, the US quietly announced early this month that it was selling 20 F-35 Stealth fighters to Israel.

    As Israeli military purchases are paid for with US foreign aid, we must realize that the weapons pointed at Iran in the Middle East are American made and largely paid for with American tax dollars. Certainly Iran understands this. W

    ill such a provocative move, arming two anti-Iranian powers in the region to the teeth, lead to a trigger event to bring about a full invasion of Iran? The economic tsunami that would result from such a horrific turn of events would only be eclipsed by the death and destruction in the region — and likely beyond.

    Some will argue that these arms deals are international trade which we should encourage and applaud. Sadly, the United States does not build much that we can export these days. But the fact is that the US weapons industry is underwritten by the American taxpayer. From research and development to acquisition by the US military, the costs of the US arms industry are borne by American citizens. But, as so-called “private” companies, the enormous profits they make selling weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia are of course privatized. So the costs are socialized and the profits are privatized. There is a word for this arrangement and it is not “capitalism.”

    Ron Paul is a Republican congressman from Texas.

  33. Castellio says:

    James, just curious, you can seriously write: “… and even going into the final weeks before the invasion was launched, the warmongering neocons were finding it necessary to deceive the British Attorney General.”

    You think the Attorney General was deceived? Isn’t that like saying Bush and Blair were deceived? It takes an act of imagination on our parts to believe it.

    The BBC said this on Janurary 27 of this year: “Lord Goldsmith has admitted he changed his legal view of the Iraq war but said it was “complete nonsense” to claim he did so because of political pressure. Until a month before the 2003 invasion, the ex-attorney general believed it was “safer” to get a fresh UN resolution. But he gave the “green light” after deciding force was justified by UN accords on Iraq dating back to 1991.”

    He says he wasn’t deceived, and justified his erroneous and fatal (literally) decision by going back to UN accords of 1991.

    He has blood on his hands, and he’s proud to say he wasn’t deceived when he bloodied them.

  34. kooshy says:

    Iran envoy dismisses tougher terms for atom fuel swap
    Iran envoy says sees “no logic” for stricter swap terms.
    Reuters

    Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear agency dismissed on Tuesday a U.S. suggestion that Tehran should agree to tougher conditions than those it rejected last year for a possible nuclear fuel swap.
    Western diplomats say economic sanctions are beginning to have an impact on Iran, and it may be possible to revive the fuel exchange plan if it also accepts broader talks they hope will lead to Tehran agreeing to curb its enrichment drive.
    They have made clear any new deal must be updated to take into account Iran’s increased holdings of low-enriched uranium (LEU) material which can be used to build bombs if refined much further, and its work to enrich to higher levels since February.
    “I’m afraid there is no logic for these kind of statements,” Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Reuters when asked about a U.S. media report that Iran would be required to part with some two tonnes of its uranium stockpile under a revised proposal.
    Iran has said it is ready to meet with the powers involved in efforts to defuse the dispute over its nuclear programme — the United States, Germany, France, China, Britain and Russia — later this month at a time and place still to be determined.
    It would be the first such meeting in more than a year and also the first since the United Nations, the United States and the European Union imposed harsher sanctions on Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, earlier this year.
    But the Islamic Republic is showing no sign of backing down over uranium enrichment work it says is designed to generate electricity but the West suspects has military aims.
    The major powers want Iran to suspend all such activities. Iran has consistently rejected this demand, saying it is its national right to develop nuclear energy.
    HOW MUCH FUEL?
    Last week, the U.S. State Department said Washington and its European allies were preparing a new offer to Iran on the fuel exchange, seen as a possible confidence-building step.
    The New York Times said it would require Iran to send about 2,000 kg of LEU out of the country. That would represent a more than two-thirds’ increase from the amount required under a tentative deal a year ago that later collapsed.
    Iran would also need to stop production of nuclear fuel it is enriching to 20 percent, a key step toward bomb-grade levels, and agree to negotiate on the future of its nuclear programme, the Times said..
    Soltanieh, Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reiterated that Tehran would be ready to resume talks on the fuel swap plan but declined to comment on any broader negotiations with the six powers.
    However, he said Iran only needed 120 kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent as fuel for the Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes and this was the equivalent of 1,200 kg of LEU.
    “Therefore when we don’t need more fuel it is ridiculous to ask to have more (LEU) to send out,” Soltanieh said.
    “This (demand) could only be interpreted as sort of an excuse not to come to the negotiating table,” he added.
    (Editing by Diana Abdallah)

  35. Faram says:

    Recently, Dr Kayhan Barzegar was interviewed by Mosallas Weekly. It is worth reading.

    The Nuclear Program and Iran-US Mutual Strategic Need

    http://www.iranreview.org/content/view/6198/1/

  36. Rehmat says:

    Obama-Manmohan to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, Iran-China relations and Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline during Obama’s coming visit to India.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/obama-and-minority-rights-in-india/

  37. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Potkin

    You are too kind. I am hoping to get married soon…maybe you could help to pay the hefty mahr? I have been on TV before…when I was a kid. Next time I appear it will be because I have something very important to announce.

    @Everyone

    If you think that RFI is too one-sided, especially about Iran’s internal political situation, I would strongly recommend Potkin Azarmehr’s blog:

    http://azarmehr.blogspot.com/

    It is not quite as interactive, but it is still an interesting read.

  38. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    Great post. Iran has moral and strategic reasons not to develop nuclear weapons. Strange how this situation seems beyond the comprehension of most opinion writers at the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc.

  39. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Hey, I notice that already results are being called in the congressional elections.

    Should we suspect that the vote has been stolen? How could they have counted the votes so quickly?

  40. As I said repeatedly here, it seems Iran agrees with me:

    Iran Envoy: Nuclear weapons would be a strategic mistake
    www dot haaretz dot com/news/diplomacy-defense/iran-envoy-nuclear-weapons-would-be-a-strategic-mistake-1.322305

    Quote

    Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested the Islamic Republic could never compete in terms of the numbers of warheads possessed by the nuclear-armed major powers.

    “It would therefore be at a disadvantage in relation to these countries if it developed atomic bombs,” Soltanieh said.

    “That is the reason we will never make this strategic mistake,” he told a conference at IAEA headquarters in Vienna. “We are as strong as those countries without nuclear weapons.”

    End Quote

    Quote

    Gareth Evans, co-chair of an international commission which last year issued a report on eliminating nuclear threats, told the same gathering he believed Iran “is to be taken seriously when it says it will not actually weaponise.”

    There are “a number of reasons for thinking that Iran will stop well short of actually making nuclear weapons that it may soon have the capability to produce,” the former Australian foreign minister said in a speech.

    They included the risk of an Israeli attack, zero Russian and Chinese tolerance for an Iranian bomb, even tougher international sanctions and the fact that Islam does not accept weapons of mass destruction, he said.

    “This is not a factor to which Western cynics would give much credence but I have to say it is echoed very strongly in every private conversation I’ve ever had with Iranian officials,” Evans, a veteran diplomatic trouble-shooter, said.

    End Quote

  41. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Humanist

    I am optimistic about RFI because all of the predictions made here about the situation in Iran have come to pass. The opponents of the Leveretts have been confounded and are resentful.

    Believe it or not, my own response to Sadjadpour will cause him some embarrassment. Beforehand, there was no outlet whereby his asinine and turgid nonsense could be refuted and serious analysts, not just punters, would read it.

    RFI is fast becoming the best site for news on US-Iran relations and the internal situation in the country….after just one year.

  42. James Canning says:

    Paul Gottfried offers some interesting comments on the need for opinion piece writers in the US major newspapers, to voice opinions favorable to Zionism, or at the very least, neutral: “Rick Sanchex Takes on the Jewish Media, and Loses”

    http://takimag.com/article/rick_sanchez_takes_on_the_jewish_media_and_loses

  43. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Yes, the Wall Street Journal offers a steady diet of Iranophobic opinion pieces, and it serves as a primary organ of the Zionist programme, quite literally. Deceiving the American public is part of the WSJ’s mission, when it comes to matters pertaining to the Middle East. The WSJ is also a vigourous exponent of squandering as many trillions of dollars as possible on useless weapons, ill-conceived military adventures, etc etc etc. The paper does have some excellent reporting, including stories from Israel and the Middle East generally.

  44. James Canning says:

    Humanist,

    There are numerous stooges of the fanatical Jews in the West Bank (and their enablers in Israel itself), in the US Congress. The more these stooges deceive the American public into thinking “democracy” is under threat because Hamas wants an end to the occupation of the ENTIRE West Bank, the more rewards the stooges receive. This is the sad and dangerous state of affairs that obtains in American today.

  45. James Canning says:

    Humanist,

    UK support for the invasion of Iraq was a very close-run thing, and even going into the final weeks before the invasion was launched, the warmongering neocons were finding it necessary to deceive the British Attorney General.

    The above is the reason Dick Cheney’s gang concealed from the British the fact that Tariq Aziz was a CIA informant and he had confirmed time and again that Iraq had destroyed its WMD in the 1990s.

    The crucial need is to strip away the “deniability” of the warmongers and fellow-travellers, to make it more difficult for them to hide their crimes, and be rewarded for those crimes. This is far and away more important that having hundreds of thousands demonstrating in the streets, though that too is welcome.

  46. Humanist says:

    Kooshy,

    I was like you, now I am trying to be a citizen of the world because I believe religion or nationalism are powerful divisive forces that are, overall, nothing but destructive.

    I understand you, I know so well how every culture has so many appealing or absorbing features. The reason I changed was I started to see the other side of that coin.

    Rumi has a magnificent profound piece of poetry where he says something like this

    From a solid stone I metamorphosed to plant
    I died from the plant and became an animal
    I deceased from animality, in my rebirth I was a human.
    Then why should I fear death I never became less from dying.
    I will die from human to become an angel
    Once more as an angel I will fly higher
    Then I become what is beyond any imagination.

    (For better translation of that piece try to contact Iranian-American expert on Rumi. He is a pleasant very intelligent man who teaches Computer Neural Networks. I have forgotten his first name, his last name is Naini)

  47. Humanist says:

    Reza,

    Re: your 2:32Pm post

    You write “The more people who read and post here on RFI the more it will convince the foreign policy community that the current agenda is flawed and needs to be radically reviewed.”

    Convince them?. As an amateur observer I’m not as optimistic as you are. During 2002/2003 millions marched opposing the Iraq war. The sizes especially in Europe were historical. Also many celebrities were voicing their opposition to that insane intention. None of decision makers in US gave a damn, as if the protestors never existed and then bombs started to fly.

    I believe those who were pulling the strings then are the same people who are the major players now. It seems their influence in the Legislative and Executive branch of USA (and Europe) is more recognizable now than it was in those days.

    I strongly believe they are not rational or calculating as far as their enemies are concerned. I once imagined the future historians might inscribe something like this: “The fate of Saddam Hussain was sealed when he said I’ll burn them all in Tel-Aviv”.

    Bibi has equated ( identified) Iran with Amalek the ancient enemy of Israelite. “Total Obliteration” is what Israelites are ordained to do in dealing with enemies like Amalek.

    Note what is God’s specific instructions on the above case:

    “Go now and fall upon the Amalekites and destroy them, and put their property under ban. Spare no one; put them all to death, men and women, children and babes in arms, herds and flocks, camels and asses”. (1 Samuel 15:3,4)

    This is a mind-boggling, the most barbaric way of resolving inter-tribal disputes “..take their land and spare no one, kill ALL living beings….including babies and animals !”.

    Yet all indications are the Likudniks believe in their destinies as prophesied in the Bible.

    Do you think what they are doing in Palestine is rational, sensible, wise or beneficial to future of Israel?. I don’t think so. The point is they don’t listen to anyone and they don’t care what the whole world thinks. They have all the power and resources they need to carry out the instructions of their God.

    We are witnessing how they use that power everyday, they use it as the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

    I have often said The Likudniks are not only dangerous to their enemies but they are more so to their friends ….and especially to themselves.

    As I read your reply to James I thought “Is Reza naive?” From the bottom of my soul I wish I am the naive one and you are the one who is right.

  48. kooshy says:

    fyi

    I remember in Persian sometimes this is called “hitting them with their own stick” and that’s why I posted it.

    And again I understand, do to, thirty odd years of sanctions, Iranians have become masters of reverse engineering, in every imaginative field of science.

    In any case, on the surface to me her case sounds more benign then illegal entry to a country that you are considered an enemy.

  49. Arshama says:

    Thank you for pushing your killing regime!

  50. fyi says:

    kooshy:

    Regardless of the merit of the case, Americans are teaching Iranians how to fight a propaganda war.

    It is pity that Truth, once again, is the casualty of War.

  51. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    WSJ Opinion page has been largely a venue for the expression of proto-fascist ideas in US.

    It is a form of propaganda and I suppose there are people who enjoy reading this type of material.

    Occasionally, there are useful opinions there but almost always they are expressed by people who actually know what they are talking about – experts in Law, or Government, or Economics.

    Mr. Kantor is pushing the Israeli agenda; perhaps thinking that he is helping save Jews from another Shoah.

    No reason to be excited about it.

  52. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Check out the latest anti-Iranian bile in the WSJ

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704141104575588220900969594.html

    This article is proof that the newspaper is not interested in reflecting serious journalism and informed opinions.

  53. kooshy says:

    Daughters ask Obama to free Shahrzad

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/149384.html

    Appearing on Press TV’s News Analysis, Melika and Melina Mir-Qolikhan, along with their grandmother Belghis Rovshan, said on Tuesday that “we are at an age that we need our mother besides us.”

    “We haven’t seen our mother in three years,” Melina said adding that she would like to ask President and Mrs. Obama “to give me the opportunity to see my mother again.”

    Shahrzad Mir-Qolikhan was arrested in the US in December 2007. Her ex-husband, Mahmoud Seif, had allegedly tried to export night-vision goggles to Iran from Austria.

    She was sentenced to five years in prison by a Florida federal court in his absence.

    Belghis also shed more light on her daughter’s dire conditions saying, “Sometime there are cockroaches and small insects in her food…. They (US authorities) have threatened to take her to a mental ward.”

    “They tell her that you are a terrorist, you are Iranian, you are crazy,” she added.

    The US has detained several Iranian nationals on charges of violating the US-imposed sanctions against Iran.

    Mir-Qolikhan told Press TV via telephone from inside prison on Monday that she is kept under horrible conditions and is subject to both physical and mental torture.

    “I was taken to a Federal Prison Camp in Miami after my arrest in December 2007,” Mir-Qolikhan said, describing the Miami prison as a “horrible place.”

    “I was mistreated horribly by all the correctional officers and more especially at the higher level, the lieutenants, captains and warden,” she said.

  54. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James

    Zoroastrianism was never well received outside of Iran. The Sassanids tried to make Armenia Zoroastrian but failed.

    The corporate media and the foundations/institutes refuse to have a sensible discussion on Iran. I think this blog is basically a response to that fact. The more people who read and post here on RFI the more it will convince the foreign policy community that the current agenda is flawed and needs to be radically reviewed.

  55. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    I of course agree with your post of Nov. 2, 8:04am. And one can say the “corporate media” oblige most reporters, commentators, etc to be friendly or at least neutral toward the Zionist agenda. Which means to be hostile or at best neutral toward Iran. Paul Gotfried has written a number of pieces underlining this situation.

  56. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    A substantial proportion of the population of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine E) was Zoroastrian, at least for a time. Maybe 4th century, as I recall.

  57. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Pat Buchanan has written many pieces underlining the fact that Iran has not been shown to be pursuing nuclear weapons.

    David Broder, in the manner of all warmongering neocons (and fellow travellers) just assumes Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. He promotes the BIG LIE. As do so many opinion writers featured in the pages of the Washington Post.

  58. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Fyi

    Marg bar heech kas – hame kas zendeh bash.

    @Unknown

    The Middle East is dominated by Iranian and Semitic cultures, although the latter can claim to be aboriginal since it arose from the Arabian peninsula. The Iranians have always had to co-exist with their Semitic and Arab neighbors. When Iran was Zoroastrian it tried to impose the Aryan faith on non-Iranians but did not succeed. However, since adopting Islam and the Arabic script, Iran is far more able to influence the Arab world and advance its own interests.

  59. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    I think spending and flaunting are more characteristic of rising middle-class people, rather than upper class. I see “upper class” in terms of historical appreciation, conservation, and so forth. Most American billionaires are very middle-class.

  60. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    You clearly are quite right to say that Obama fails to understand the psychology of the Iranian people. And the reason for this failure obviously lies at the feet of incompetent advisers. This is being kind, I realise.

  61. James Canning says:

    Hashem,

    I have not blamed Mossad for “9/11″. My understanding is that Mossad was following several of the terrorists who took part in the attacks on the World Trade Center etc.

  62. fyi says:

    PB:

    Forgot to add:

    “Marg bar heech kas – Long Live Everyone!”

  63. fyi says:

    PB:

    Iranian (excepting the Iranian Jews) are completely ignoran of Judaism and what “Israel” means in the Judaic religion.

    On the other hand, those who purposefully gave the name “Israel” to the Jewish state in Palestine and thus conflated “Israel the People” with “Israel the State” also bear responsibility for the ensuing consequences.

  64. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Reza:
    Interesting. I was not familiar with the term. Tem dern Germans have a word for everything!

    In his landmark three volum magnum opus *The Venture of Islam* the superlative world historian Marshall G. S. Hodgson argues (based on long-stading cultural and religious syncrtisms as well as the Sprachsbund effect) for a re-evluation of the Middle East aalgam in terms of an Irano-Semitc formation. I think his argument is quite cogent.

  65. PB says:

    It’s unfortunate that some people choose names such as “Margbar….” It is self defeating as it insults people of all political spectrum of the “yahoodi” faith, even those who oppose Israel’s current policies and maintain a more accomodating ideology. It would be advisable to change such names, and continue to make your good assertions.

  66. R.d. says:

    “nature of Iran’s nuclear program is such that it directs Iran and the United States to either interact or engage in war.” Dr. Kayhan Barzegar

    http://www.iranreview.org/content/view/6198/1/

  67. Persian Gulf says:

    it’s interesting to see how Sajjadpor contradicts his own writings. for example:
    “8. The succession of power in the Islamic Republic is uncertain.”

    in his analysis of Khamenie, he argued that since Khamenie is not as charismatic as Khomeini,and since the system withstood that replacement, the issue of succession for Khamenie will not shake Iranian political system. how come after 2 years Karim changed his mind? has Khamenie got more ground since then? or probably Sajjadpor became more delusional primarily due to his ridiculous and simplistic analysis of the 2009 election?

    it’s bizarre to see how people like Sajjadpor push me, as the one who is obsessed with Khamenie, toward him!

  68. Dan Cooper says:

    Many people have become so entranced by the apparent ‘people power’ character of the mass demonstrations and protests that followed last year’s disputed election, that they’ve turned a blind eye to the very real possibility that the unrest – and the fact that the election was disputed at all – may owe much to behind-the-scenes machinations of the US government.

    “According to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence there was a series of clandestine meetings in Rome and Paris between Pentagon officials and Iranian dissidents in 2001 and 2003. The meetings included discussions about possible covert actions to destabilize the government in Tehran…” [28]

    On May 23, 2007, ABC News reported: ‘The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert ‘black’ operation to destabilise the Iranian government.’

    On May 16, 2007, the London Daily Telegraph reported that Bush administration operative John Bolton said that a US military attack on Iran would “be a ‘last option’ after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed”. (My emphasis.)

    On May 27, 2007, the same newspaper reported that: “Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.”

    On July 7, 2008, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that, “Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran…These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars…are designed to destabilise the country’s religious leadership.” [27]

    Individuals and organizations involved in fomenting regime change uprisings in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and attempts to do so in Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Belarus, are involved in these destabilization campaigns as advisers to and trainers of Green Movement activists. One of the principal figures is Gene Sharp, head of the Albert Einstein Institution, who advised right-wing Venezuelans on how to use civil disobedience to overthrow Hugo Chavez. [29] More than two years ago, in a March, 2007 interview in The Progressive, Sharp acknowledged that he has been working since 2004 with Iranian dissidents on how to bring down the government in Tehran. [30] One of the hallmarks of democracy promotion is to create the myth that an election is stolen, to justify an attempted overthrow through civil disobedience.

    http://gowans.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/behind-washington’s-iran-policy-myths-and-reality/

  69. Persian Gulf says:

    hopefully the result of today’s election will consume Obama’s energy for the rest of his presidency.

  70. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Marg bar

    Yes, the Leveretts have worked for the CIA, AIPAC and WINEP which is why their opponents get so frustrated – they are not leftist radicals but very much part of the establishment and system. Hillary, at least, has had her “road to Damascus” because she was actively involved in talks with Iranian officials over Afghanistan. Both Hillary and Flynt watched as Iran greatly increased its regional influence and strategic power as a result of the Bush wars. The fact that Hillary is Jewish must drive the Likudniks in AIPAC crazy, but there are probably realist politicians in Israel ,like Yossi Sarid and others, who approve of her approach to Iran. I like people who can change their views and are not obdurate. it is a sign of intelligence.

    Dr Ahmadinejad has said that there should be another inquiry into the events on 911. I think most people agree with this. He has called for more research into the Holocaust – well, again, that research IS being conducted and new evidence is emerging. Nothing in science or history is sacrosanct and cannot be investigated or challenged. If that were the case, no progress would be possible.

  71. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Unknown unknowns

    Yes, syncretism refers to how different beliefs can become blended together. But I was thinking of the SPRACHBUND effect. This is where two unrelated languages/cultures come into contact and converge because of their geographical proximity to one another.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprachbund

    Arabic is a Semitic language and Persian is an Iranic one. But Persian has clearly borrowed a lot of vocabulary and some grammatical constructions like the ‘ezafe’ which actually simplified the language. From a poetic point of view, the presence of Arabic loan-words is a boon because you have a more varied choice of words and sounds.

  72. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PB

    Well, I think that Flynt and Hillary Leverett are among many realists in the American political establishment that understand that the United States cannot afford to be the world’s policeman any more and throw its weight about. Iran has massively benefited from the “War on Terror” even though the State Department lists it as the chief sponsor of terror: how self-defeating can you get as a policy?

    Therefore, to achieve its regional objectives the Americans have to adopt a more conciliatory and pragmatic approach which recognizes Iran as an independent state ,with its own political system, and a regional power. Only by accommodating Iranian interests and security concerns at the strategic level can they hope to secure Iranian cooperation on a number of greatly important and outstanding issues.

    The Leveretts clearly believe that this is essential and are prepared to receive a lot of bad press to pursue this goal. I suspect that many others agree with them but are afraid to come out and be excoriated by the corporate media.

  73. Castellio says:

    ‘Don’t feed the troll’ is a wonderful and apt expression. It occurred to me as I read Hashem’s request.

  74. kooshy says:

    Goli-

    Here is a sober mind in the land of cowboys

    Broder’s Brainstorm
    by Patrick J. Buchanan, November 02, 2010

    Though Obama “may lose control of Congress,” says columnist David Broder, he “can still storm back to win a second term in 2012.”
    How does Broder suggest Obama go about it?
    “Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.”
    Conceding the prospect of a new war is “frightening,” Broder goes on to list the rich rewards of Obama’s emulating FDR.
    “With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, [Obama] can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve…
    “[T]he nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.”
    Cynicism aside, what is wrong with Broder’s analysis?
    First, how exactly are “preparations for war” on Iran going to improve our economy when two actual wars costing $1 trillion have left us in the deepest recession since the 1930s?
    Were those wars just not big enough?
    If war is good for the economy, why is this nation, at war for a decade, growing at 2 percent, while China, which invests in rogue regimes rather than bomb them, is booming?
    Moreover, any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be carried out by air and missile strikes from ships and planes already in the U.S. arsenal. We would not need the tens of thousands of ships, tanks, guns, and planes we needed in WWII, or the 12 million men under arms.
    The first result of a U.S. strike would be to pull Iran’s oil off the world market. If Iran responded by mining the Gulf or sinking a tanker, oil would go to $300 a barrel and gasoline to $10 a gallon. Does Broder think that would give a nice boost to the U.S. and world economy?
    Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor united us in rage and resolve. Should we attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, when its nuclear program is supported by both sides of that divided country, we would likely unite Iranians in patriotic anger and convince any doubters that Tehran must acquire nuclear weapons to deter us.
    We would then have to invade Iran to win the war, as that would be the only sure way to remove a regime that would be hell-bent on revenge through terror and every other means.
    Memo to Broder: We don’t have the troops to invade Iran, which is three times as large as Iraq.
    And as Obama’s “preparations for war” are under way, how does Broder propose we defend our diplomats and civilians in Lebanon, who are a cab ride from Hezbollah in south Beirut?
    Broder says, “Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century.”
    But a threat to whom?
    Iran’s next-door neighbor Turkey does not see Iran as a threat. Indeed, Turkey’s prime minister got Tehran to agree to trade half its low-enriched uranium to the West for fuel rods for a reactor that makes medical isotopes. It was America that slapped away the offer.
    Iraq’s leaders make regular treks to Tehran for advice in forming a new government. Our man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, admits to getting “bags of cash” from Iran. Syria has excellent relations with Tehran. Lebanon just hosted President Ahmadinejad.
    If the neighbors can live with Iran, why are we, with 5,000 nuclear weapons, 6,000 miles away, so fearful?
    Israel calls Iran “an existential threat.”
    But Israel has 200 nukes and the planes, subs, and missiles to deliver them, while U.N. inspectors claim Iran has not diverted any of its low-enriched uranium for conversion to weapons-grade.
    Should it do so, say U.S. officials, we would have a year’s notice before Iran could even test a device, let alone build a bomb.
    We are told Ahmadinejad is a madman, a religious fanatic, a Hitler who would die happy, even if Iran were incinerated, if only he could explode a nuclear bomb on Israel or the United States.
    But when Israel attacked Iran’s ally Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2008, Ahmadinejad did nothing. Does that sound like Hitler?
    When was the last time Iran started a war with anyone?
    America has deterred Stalin, Mao, and Kim Jong-Il, all men with nuclear arsenals and far more frightening than Ahmadinejad, who is well into his second term, unpopular, with an economy in shambles. Moreover, Ahmadinejad does not make the war-or-peace decision for Iran.
    If Obama prepares for war and Iran refuses to back down, how many U.S. dead and wounded would Broder consider a fair price to pay for a second term for his “enduringly superior” leader?

  75. PB says:

    FYI

    Just to second Mr. Esfandiari’s point:
    I am half Turk and Half Rashti. There are no jokes in Iran that don’t apply to me. Yet, there is no one in my family that thinks anyother way than being Iranian.

    Mr. Esfandiari

    Although you have written a well thought out article, I do disagree with your last sentences. Iran’s regional and international aspirations are natural epicenters of who Iranians are and their history. Where I disagree with you is the notion that Iran and the US can accommodate one another. It is unlikely that this nation, America, would sublease its own authority on the world’s most pivotal energy center to an indiginous power. That would not only reduce US power projection world wide, it is likely to give rise to a new global power as control of energy resources is supreme in international politics. It is not likely the US will risk such possibility. That is why the US always goes back at isolating Iran for over 30 years. An Iran/American war is innevitable. The return of the Republicans to power tomorrow, will only intesify the dark clouds of war already on the horizon.

  76. kooshy says:

    Humanist-

    I personaly don’t see anything wrong with one being proud of for his or her nation’s cultural achievements; I also believe Americans should and are rightly so proud of their nation’s cultural achievements since admirably has contributed to the mankind. As an Iranian and also an American I have no shame of being proud of my country’s culture and her worldly contributions to the man kind in fields of science, literature and humanities, I am even more proud of the Iranian culture since, evidenced by history Iranian culture is none racial and none ethnical. Unfortunately the western psyche is tainted by racial nationalism of Nazi Germany or early Anglo American nationalism which is purely absent and has been absent in Iranian culture throughout the known history, therefore Iranians have no cynical view of nationalism in the same way that exist in the west.

  77. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Reza:
    Correction: syncreic should have read syncretic

  78. Humanist says:

    Reza Esfandiari talks about “….Iran, as a resurgent and proud nation…”
    Kooshy writes”….melt in the Iranian culture and become proud Iranians..”

    Proud? Forgive me if I sound condescending but that word charges my brains with high electricity. Without accusing Reza or Kooshy of anything I feel some sort of obligation to share my thoughts on that word and actions related to it. I see it especially appropriate to discuss it in this very site.

    First of all maybe you can be proud of what you have personally achieved but being proud of how you look, where you were born or who are your parents doesn’t make any sense. However in this context of achievement maybe Scandinavians can be proud of their nationality considering a short while back they were savage Vikings and now they are probably the most civilized people of the world.

    Yet that idea too is proving to be on lose grounds.

    I have read or heard so many times the cries of “I am a proud American….or a proud German….a proud Japanese…”. I am sure the majority of English or Israelis also feel deep pride in belonging to their own beloved nations.

    But I know many anthropologists try hard not to fall in the dangerous dark hole of “tribalism” or “nationalism”. I have also unsuccessfully tried the same. Unsuccessfully because that is not an easy task to accomplish.

    If you impartially, analytically and carefully study the history of the nations mentioned above or any tribe for that matter, you could easily find times when horrendous atrocities are taking place. I better skip reminding you those moments and leave it to your own imagination to visualize the instances of bloody merciless massacres, plunders, pillages and other types of insane destructions.

    I firmly believe among a few other deficiencies “tribalism” is a profound indication of the defectiveness of our minds. Explaining why I think so might require many pages. Briefly I see the source of racism, barbarity, wars, remorselessness and dozens of other ills in that characteristics of human psyche alone.

    This is the age of science. We now know why we behave that way. We know “Natural Selection” is the mechanism that is making mammals (and apes) sticking to each other in order to survive. We now know lower layers of our brains respond to stimuli exactly like the brains of chimps but our higher brain (that chimps don’t have) drives us towards all leaving peacefully with each other as if the whole humanity is a single tribe.

    As a matter of fact new Genetic Research clearly shows as far as humans are concerned “the inter-race variations are more drastic that variations among the races”. That finding is so profound adhering to its principals could change the whole structure of humanity. If that is well-understood it could make us feel we are all metropolitan inhabitant of a single city of a single race. It makes us stay away from primitive nationalism. It makes us all feel we are Thomas Pane who as his biographer David Frost wrote “the world is his village”.

    Too bad we are far from that beautiful mental evolution….most of human beings can’t see or never heard of what science shows us….ie what is possibly looming in the captivating distant horizons.

  79. Hashem says:

    I believe James Canning and Dan Cooper are correct in blaming Mossad for the 9-11. I wonder if Mr Esfandiari would agree? ALso, regarding Sajadipor’s background, I assume his views are because he is a “kalimi”.

  80. Dan Cooper says:

    Islamic Republic ‘not only’ has survived “31 years of sanctions and 8 years of a devastating war” but also has improved tremendously in field of science and technology and medicine.

    Neither sanctions nor threats will stop Iranian government from exercising its right under international law to develop its nuclear technology for electricity and medicine.

    Obama is miscalculating the Iranian psyche.

    Islamic Republic will never capitulate or alter its nuclear program in a way that is beneficial to Western interests.

    Iranians are proud people and fanatical about their independence and sovereignty.

    They have lost more than One million martyred to the US-backed Iraq war; each martyr probably has about 20 closest relatives such as; their parents, brothers, sisters, relations and friend who religiously and fanatically support the Islamic Republic’s ideology. These are the core supporters of the regime, which total more than at least 20 million people and vehemently oppose any US interference in Iranian internal affairs.

    These people are already aware that sanctions by USA are designed to turn more Iranian people against their government; therefore, no matter what hardship they suffer under the sanction, they will never allow another US Imperialist puppet government to govern Iran ever again.

    Obama must put Americans interest before Israelis’ and totally abandoned Israel’s policies of sanctions, regime change or Military attack and start engaging with Iran.

    In my opinion, even if USA and Israel eventually manage to destabilize the Iranian regime, they will only create another hell like Iraq.

    There will be a civil war in Iran the like of which we have never seen before.

    There will be bombings, fighting in street of Tehran and other cities in Iran for many years to come.

    Iran will be divided into smaller countries such as Baluchistan, lurrestan, Azarbiyajan, Kurdistan etc.

    The only looser will be Iran and Iranian people.

    Those Iranians who are blindly supporting USA to change their regime must learn lessons from Iraq that change of regime by USA would not result in prosperity, freedom and democracy for Iran.

  81. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Reza:

    If I am not mistaken, the word you are looking for is syncretism or syncreic (the combination of different forms of belief or practice)

  82. Rehmat says:

    Turkey has added Israel to its RED BOOK – and has taken Islamic Republic’s name from it.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/turkey-enlists-israel-as-enemy/

  83. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James

    Westernized Iranians are sometimes insulted as “gharbzadeh” (sons of the West) due to their penchant for all things Western. But not all Iranians living in the West are cut off from their heritage and identity and live “Western” lifestyles. Even those that do are not necessarily going to support secular liberalism back home.

    Western culture appeals to materialism and consumerism. When you have money, you want to spend it and flaunt it – at least that is what many Iranians want to do.

  84. Rehmat says:

    James Canning – The Iranian upper-class favorite spot remind me of a story I read in Reader’s Digest many years ago.

    An American tourist standing near the Wailing Wall hear an old man praying in deep emotions. “Please G-d take me to my people”. When the old man moved away from the Wailing Wall, the tourist followed him. A few steps away from the prayer area, he fronted the old man and said: “Sir, I hear you yearning to join you people. But I thought Israelis are your people”. The old man gave the tourist a dirty look and replied: “Are you crazy? These are not my people. My people are in Monte Carlo”.

    Most of the Iranian upper-class (Bazaris) have already left Iran or keeping their accounts in Western banks and passports in their pockets. This group also include several rich Ayatullahs too. We has Ayatullah Rafsjani’s relatives living in huge houses in Toronto’s rich area.

    The Islamic Revolution (1979), like Islam in 610 CE – came to uplift the poor-class. The Rahbar Ayatullah Khamenei and Dr. ahmadinejad represent the Prophet’s (pbuh) life style.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/tale-of-two-muslim-feminists/

  85. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Dan

    Thanks for the video.. It confirms what most people now know about the secondary explosions from within the buildings and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the collapse of building 7 (from an office fire).

    However, let us be careful not to turn Race for Iran into the conspiracy hour because that is exactly what the critics of the Leveretts would like to see happen. I was very careful about the wording of my piece so as not to attract any undue hostility. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our hosts do not receive any bad publicity.

  86. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    In my experience, upper class Persians or Iranians blend seamlessly into life in London or Paris or Washington. There is not even a hint of a clash of civilizations or whatever.

    The trumpted up hostility toward Iran, on the part of certain segments of American society and leadership, is almost entirely attributable to relentless propaganda from Israel and certain Jewish elements in the US (and elsewhere).

  87. James Canning says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Thanks. It is in “the nature of the beast” in that an empire cobbled together by warrior “Turkish” horsemen, but administered by Persians (because they have the education, experience, family connections etc etc etc, evolves into a Persian empire.

    The Mongol empire of Kublai Khan inevitably was replaced before very long by a Chinese empire, and the Mongol empire would have evolved that way even if it had not been replaced.

  88. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Unknown

    Yes, Shahrazad’s book of tales is of Persian origin. The Abbasids also celebrated Now Rooz and other Persian festivities. This kind of cultural exchange is quite common in other parts of the world – there is a technical term to describe it but I can’t remember. Let us not forget that half the words in the Persian language are of Arabic origin. Some loan-words borrowed from Arabic are actually of Persian origin themselves! For example, ‘jowhar’ is an Arabic loan-word in Farsi which means jewel/essence, but is derived from the older Persian form “gowhar”.

  89. Dan Cooper says:

    Reza Esfandiari, Marg bar Israel, fyi

    Re: 9/11

    Must Watch (9/11)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_u9Ni6jHfw

    Please watch the above video and let me know what you think?

    Some reports suggest that the Mossad agents were aware of the attack but did not inform their CIA counterparts.

    In my opinion, it is unlikely that united state was behind 9/11 however if the truth comes out that the Mossad was behind it, it would not surprise me.

    In dirty and murderous policies of Mossad and CIA, anything is possible.

    The above video gives more credibility to what Ahmadinejad was asking for at the UN:

    “An independent public inquiry into 9/11”

  90. kooshy says:

    Reza

    “However, the United States can achieve its objectives in the region by reaching out to Iran rather than confronting it – as is the current policy.’

    Reza- I wished this was the objective of the western block, however like you mentioned in the begging of this discussion, I am afraid there is a historic economic, religious and cultural divide between the west and the eastern mentality that has existed for many centuries, this unfortunately is again beginning to become even wider in same economic, religious and cultural context.
    Since in past few recent centuries the western block has became accustomed to exercising unchallenged power projection to the east, it is now only natural resisting an awakening by the east as is currently unfolding in front of us.

  91. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Reza:
    Why stop there? After all, is not “Arabian Nights” nothing but a mistranslation of A Thousand and One Nights, which is a book written by Iranians, about Iranians, in Iranian Baghdad and its spiritual environs? Just askin’.

  92. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Unknown says:

    “Because the Arabs had no experience in running an empire, they naturally relied very heavily on the system established by the Sasanids and their predecessors in forming their “Islamic” version of government.”

    Indeed – as the Franks did with the Roman system when they conquered Gaul. It has been noted that much of the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, i.e. “fiqh” and especially that of charitable endowment , “waqf”, derive from the government of the Sassanian empire.

    Btw, the story of Sinbad (Sunpadh) the sailor in the ‘Arabian nights’ derives from the fact that many Khorasani Iranians settled in Basrah during the reign of the Abbasids.

    The Islamic empire fused Arab and Persian traditions in a very interesting way.

  93. Unknown Unknowns says:

    JC:
    I’m sure what you are saying is correct. It is not dissimilar to the takeover of the Abbasid dynasty almost at its inception (or at its very early stages of development) by the Barmakids – the august Iranian family which became advisors to the Abbasid caliphs, in which capcity they founded Baghdad (= god-given in Old Persian, or Khoda-dad in modern Persian) in 762 CE as the new capital for the caliph al-Mansur. Baghdad was a site chosen because it was a few miles away from Ctesiphon, the old capital of the defunct Persian Empire, whose location in turn was chosen because of its fair weater in th summer months (the winter was spent in warmer Persepolis). Because the Arabs had no experience in running an empire, they naturally relied very heavily on the system established by the Sasanids and their predecessors in forming their “Islamic” version of government.

    What with that, and the fact that all six of the Sunni cannonical gospels (the sahih as-settah) were compiled by Moslems of Iranian etnicity (Bukhari, Moslem, Abu-Dawud, etc. and the elaboration of Sufi Islam, which flowered almost entirely under Iranian auspicies), I just have to laugh when I hear the dribble of the expats who want to separate Iran from Islam, as if one can separate Mark, Matthew, Luke and John from Chrisianity…

  94. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Kooshy

    The United States can’t possibly maintain its global military presence and not face economic ruin as a consequence in the long-term. The ‘Pax Americana’ is just not sustainable and the Leveretts, to give them credit, realize this.

    However, the United States can achieve its objectives in the region by reaching out to Iran rather than confronting it – as is the current policy.

  95. fyi says:

    All:

    This discussion is very important since the self-image of human beings actually influences their analytical framework, in my opinion.

    As I tried to argue, my view of Modern Iran as a Shia Fortress influences what I perceive to be politically feasible in that country – her politics will always be informed by Shia Islam and will never be secular in the Western sense. The possibility of dropping “Islam” from “Islamic Republic” is a chimera.

    Note that appeal to the artificially constructed historicity of the Concept of Iran will not salvage a secularist person’s aspirations – the Sassanian Empire was also a religiously based polity – albeit of the Zoroastrian variety.

    Now to Dr. Sadjadpour: since I suspect that he (and many others – both Iranians and foreigners) may consider the contemporary secularism of Western European polities to be normative, it follows that very likely to him, the Islamic Republic is an aberration whose demise would be inevitable.

    But if that is so, there is no need to enter substantive negotiations with her since she will soon disappear. Those US leaders, who have an interest in a cost-free foreign policy, would then be encouraged to wait out the Islamic Republic and to add as many sanctions as they can to expedite her demise. Since, the Islamic Republic, after all, is an un-natural creature.

    That is why a discussion of the nature of Iranian polity and its historical evolution is of non-academic interest.

  96. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    Let’s hope the US accepts it was foolish to have huge military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that those forces are withdrawn.

    I would expect the US to keep its facilities in Bahrain, Qatar etc for decades to come. But the deployment of large forces on the ground in the greater Middle East, for an extended period, was a blunder.

  97. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    In 1925, Ibn Saud called himself Sultan of Nejd and King of the Hijaz (after he conquered it from the Hashemites). Was Nejd-Hijaz a state? Of course. Did it buy arms from the UK or the US? No. In 1932, the state was renamed Saudi Arabia, with Iban Saud as king.

    Would you prefer that the Saudis buy their arms from France rather than the UK and the US? I think there will be some Saudi purchases from France soon.

  98. kooshy says:

    Reza

    “However, I think that America is changing internally and is declining as a military and economic power. Iran knows this and is planning ahead accordingly to the day when the Americans have no choice but to quit the region for good.”

    Continued- …….Or, like many other invading migrants of the past, to greater Iran, melt in the Iranian culture and become proud Iranians, and celebrate the beginning of the spring and become a peaceful nation like all Iranians are in the land of Gol-va-Bolbol (the land of flower and canaries)
    Cheers to all specially Reza

  99. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    The relationship over many centuries between the Sassanian empire and the Roman Empire (Eastern R E, or Byzantine) is fascinating and offers some lessons.

    On the whole, the general idea was to have truces for periods of time, then stretches of war, but for neither side to try to destroy the other side. Catastrophe came to both empires when this historical pattern was broken.

  100. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    A major factor in the French Revolution was social resentment on the part of various elements of the middle classes, toward the airs etc (including tax issues) of the aristocracy. Without this, there would have been no revolution. And, as it happened, France soon became an empire, with a new aristocracy.

  101. James Canning says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Clearly, “Turkish” tribes made the conquests that comprised the Safavid empire, at least initially. The Persians over time took over the administration of the empire and in effect it became a Persian empire (and certainly not a “Turkish” empire).

    I think that, if the Mongol empire of the Ilkhans had remained intact, it would have evolved into a “Persian” empire. (This preceded the Safavid empire)

    I did notice your comments, and they were good ones.

  102. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Castellio

    I take responsibility for the way this discussion has deviated. I wanted to emphasize the fact that Iran is an ancient state with interests and regional aspirations that ANY regime with the support of its people would pursue.

    I see the U.S.-Iran rivalry not so much different from the rivalry between the Sassanid Persian kingdom and the Roman empire. This was one of the longest conflicts between two states in the history of the world.

    However, I think that America is changing internally and is declining as a military and economic power. Iran knows this and is planning ahead accordingly to the day when the Americans have no choice but to quit the region for good.

  103. fyi says:

    Castellio:

    So you have your own definition of modern nation-state; i.e. the existence of taxing authority.

    Well, your definition is as good as mine.

    By that definition, all hitherto existing states have been nation states; from Hamurabi to the Great King to the Son of Heaven.

    kooshy:

    Forgive me if I haev not been very clear.

    There was no state called Iran between the death of Yazdgard and the reign of Shah Tahmasb.

  104. Castellio says:

    It’s unfortunate that this discussion is turning on extremely limited and parochial definitions of the nation state according to ethnicity. The point is that there are NO such idealized nations, not even Korea or Japan.

    The modern nation state is primarily a taxing authority. Who decides on the taxes, who pays the taxes, where does that money go.

    Taxation was at the heart of the American revolution, taxation (or corvee labour) and the spending of the tax was at the heart of the French revolution.

    The modern nation state was never about ethnic purity, it was about the right to tax and who controls it.

    Does Iran tax? Who does it tax? Does it determine where that tax money is spent?
    If it taxes, the border of that tax is the border of the country. If it determines where and how that money will be spent, it is a true nation state. If it doesn’t determine where the money will be spent, it is a vassal state.

    Saudi Arabia taxes and then spends as much as it is asked to in the UK and the US… it may not, in fact, be a true nation state. Was Iran under the Shah a “real” nation state, or a vassal state?

    If you no longer either raise taxes nor determine where that money will be spent, you are not a nation state. If you do, you are.

    Humanist: Chapeau does mean hat, and I suppose you could interpret it as “hats off”, a sign of respect. To say “Chapeau” is high praise.

  105. kooshy says:

    Fyi

    “But just like Ancient Israel, Ancient Iran was lost until revived by the Turkic Safavids.”
    Fyi- your sentence above is not only just an academically historical error, but rather in line with the early western christen orientalists a pure twist of history of greater Iran.

    If what you are saying is true, how could you justify writing the Shahnameh, or prior to that Shahnameh of Abu Mansori, and Daghigi who was commissioned by court of a Turkic king for the book, in what context and for what audience was this worldly masterpiece created do you have any explanation to disconnect this Iranian epic book from greater Iran and its various ethnicities.
    You should read Zarinkoob’s “Two century of silence” history of Iran after the Arab invasion.

  106. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Unknown

    Central Asia/Eurasia is, of course, the ancestral homeland of all the Iranic peoples.

    Iran is just one country these tribes settled and named after themselves.

    Most “Iranians” are no more racially Iranic than most English people can be said to be true Angles or that French people are descended from the Franks of Germany. The country’s name, language and culture is derived from the ruling elite.

    The Iranian plateau was settled and civilized long before the Aryans arrived. But it did not exist as a unified political state.

  107. Humanist says:

    Fyi,

    By normative do you mean “not unusual”?

    Castellio,

    Chapeou? I only know it means hat. Please share your amusing implication. I badly need a smile!

    James Canning,

    Paul Craig Roberts in his 2009 June 15th and June 19th Counterpunch posts intelligently describes why they were after demonizing Iran and much more.

  108. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Fyi

    The Turks of central Asia, as Kooshy points out, have been influenced by Persian culture. The Turkic peoples themselves are partly descended from the Iranian Saka peoples who lived on the steppe. Hafez found the Turks of his city of Shiraz to be a beautiful people of fair complexion. The Safavids not only revived Shia Islam but also celebrated ancient traditions like Now Rooz and Chahaharshanbeh soori.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Chehel-sotoon_chahar_shanbe_suri.jpg

    Shia Islam does indeed contain overtones of Persian Zoroastrianism and Zurvanism (as the Wahabists love to point out) but the “Turkic” cultural contribution to it is non-existent.

  109. fyi says:

    kooshy:

    Those texts that you refer to correspons, roughly, to the Lamentation of Jeremiah for the loss of Ancient Israel.

    But just like Ancient Israel, Ancient Iran was lost until revived by the Turkic Safavids.

  110. Unknown Unknowns says:

    James Canning
    See my comments below to fyi re the confusion about semantic field “Turk” and “Turkish”.

    I do not know if what u said about the Persians taking over the empire from the Safavids, but I imagine it is true as the dynasty lasted two and a half centuries or there a bouts, and this could only have happened if it was in the hands of professionals (rather than in the hands of a ghulat chiliastic tribe from the periphery.

  111. Arnold Evans says:

    James,

    You’ve got to be kidding. Here from wikipedia

    During World War I the British government attempted to cultivate favor with Ibn Saud via its political agent, Captain William Shakespear, but this was abandoned after Shakespear’s death at the Battle of Jarrab. Instead, the British transferred support to Ibn Saud’s rival Sharif Hussein bin Ali, leader of the Hejaz, with whom the Saudis were almost constantly at war. Despite this, the British entered into a treaty in December 1915 (the “Treaty of Darin”) which made the lands of the House of Saud a British protectorate. In exchange, Ibn Saud pledged to again make war against Ibn Rashid, who was an ally of the Ottomans.

    So the lands of the House of Saud became a British protectorate in 1915. At what point do you claim Saudi Arabia left the British/later US colonial structure? What event, comparable to Nasser’s coup against the protectorate of Egypt or the successful Indian independence movement established Saudi Arabia as an independent nationalist dictatorship after it became, in 1915, a formal colonial stooge dictatorship?

    If Farouk of Egypt had not been overthrown by Nasser, today you’d be claiming he or his descendant was a nationalist – as long as he was willing to accommodate Israel (inside the 1967 ceasefire lines).

  112. kooshy says:

    In Reza’s response to fyi’s assertion that the Iranian nationality was lost for many years before the Safavids period, which realistically is totally inaccurate as is evidenced by various text and writings of the period including Shahnameh.

    Iran like the modern day America, is a geographical term and not like Persian an ethnical term, the main Icon of Iranian nationalism is, and always was, Iranian culture which evolved by accepting customs, religion and languages of its various ethnicities including the Persians as well as its new migrants like Mongols and Arabs within the geographical greater Iran, this adoptive culture of Iranians acted as the medium in the old world melting pot called Iran. After the invasion of Muslim Arabs, (like the similar, prior invasion by the Macedonians) Iranian culture generously adopted Islam which became inclusive to all different enthcities living or migrating within the geopolitical greater Iran (Mongols, Turks, etc.) Nurooz is just an easy example which by itself has glued the different Iranian and non Iranian ethnicities. Ferdosie’s explicit call “I exist of Iran” or “I wouldn’t be if Iran isn’t” was not just a love of one person for Iran and would not have been so wildly popular and accepted to this day if it was just only a poetic term.

  113. Unknown Unknowns says:

    @fyi
    Bear in mind that the Turkic peoples of Greater Khorasan (the “Stans” aka Turan in the Shahnameh) are also Iranic racially, as were the Mughals, mistakenly so named by the Indians (as was the “Chinese” Princess in Puccini’s Turandot (Daughter of Turan). The wave of these Sogdians that were pushed westward by the Mongol horde spoke Sogdian, which is a branch of the Indo-Iranian branch of languages, and which had been encrusted with Mongolian as well as Chinese accretions; and it was this language, as well as Persian, of course, that they brought with them when they eventually settled in Asia Minor, which was at that time populated by Greeks and Armenians, living under the protection of a Persian-speaking court. And so, if there is anything to what you say about the culture of the “Turks” being closer to that of Central Asia, it would be because that is where they are from originally (circa 11th to 12th centuries). Unfortunately, the argument is not so facile, which is why the history is so misunderstood, even to this day, and even by scholars with (professed) expertise in such fields.

  114. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @FYI

    I think Sadjadpour is just one of a number of ‘scholars’ hired by the lobby groups and think tanks in Washington to push their agenda.

    Personally, I would love to see the Leveretts debate Sadjadpour – he would refuse to ,I am sure, because he knows he would have to defend all the nonsense he peddles.

    Also, the CEIP will never invite a guest speaker that doesn’t agree with their experts. They also vet their audience to ensure that everyone admitted supports what their views…..just how the Soviets did things ironically.

  115. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    When the second Majlis changed the electoral law of Iran and effectively disenfranchised non-religious Iranians, it created an embittered and cynical group of people in Iran that had no stake in the system.

    I found it quite telling that at the time, one MP who had voted for that law sated: “Without this we will not get elected.”

    The seeds of the crisis of 2009 were planted at that time. Mr. Khatami’s attempt at redressing this imbalance during his presidency was squashed – in part – by Mr. Khamenei.

    Clearly there are millions of people who not only intensely dislike how they are governed but also feel powerless to get their concerns addressed politically since their representatives fail to pass the Pharisee “Outward Conformance to Islam” test. So millions of Iranians cannot participate in the political life of their country because of what transpired in 1985.

    Dr. Sadjadpour clearly belongs to this group and his anger and frustration is justified – although perhaps not his conclusions.

    I think that it will be a good idea for Mr. Khamenie and other Iranian leaders to address this problem. The days of a restricted representative system – just like that of Mexico ‘s– are clearly over.

  116. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    I agree. What is going on with the CEIP? Maybe we will get some comments.

  117. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Ibn Saud gained control over the Nejd, which was not part of the British empire. He then conquered the Hejaz, whose king was the head of the Hashemite family (Abdullah I being King of Jordan, and a brother was king of Iraq). So the Kingdom emerged essentially on its own, taking over a state that was closely associated with the British (and created from a portion of the Ottoman Empire).

    The Saudis have put a good deal of effort into the 2002 peace plan (now accepted by 57 Muslim countries). Israel, of course, has failed to endorse that plan.

  118. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James

    Sadjadpour uses the word “tainted” election. Yet, within a few hours of the polls closing on June 12th/13th 2009 he was calling them “stolen.”

    I wish someone would do a background check on this guy – why is this man the Iran spokesman for the CEIP and what does it say about that organization?

  119. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Shocked, I am shocked that you call the votes in the Cook County fradulent.

    That is slander as everyone is aware of how clean and transparent the government machinary is in that country. It is just like Denmark.

    Now, some of those who voted were good Democrats before they died, there was no reason for them to change their vote after their deaths.

    And I suppose there might have been a wee-bit of over enthusiasm for John Kennedy, he being a Catholic and all, which led some, very very few indeed, to vote for him multiple times.

  120. Castellio says:

    I imagine people here know of this already (Iranian Voices for Peace):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lguNg0Barg

  121. James Canning says:

    Humanist,

    You probably are quite right to say that those who say the 2009 Iranian election was “tainted”, do so to discredit the outcome.

    I think it is generally accepted in the US that the ballot boxes in Chicago (Cook County, Illinois) were “stuffed” with fraudulent ballots, sufficient to change the outcome, and that without such voter fraud, Richard Nixon would have carried Illinois and won the 1960 US presidential election. Perhaps that election should be referred to as “tainted”.

  122. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    I have heard that too but I do not know – I do not have specialized and accurate knowledge in this area.

  123. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Speaking of conversions, isn’t much of the present Shia community in Iraq the product of conversions from Sunni Islam during the 19th century?

  124. James Canning says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Would it not be correct to say that the Safavid empire was created by Turkish tribes, but that the Persians came to control it?

    There is a good deal of debate about the origin of the Kurds, and whether they are all of the same “ethnic” origin is in dispute.

  125. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    A separate state for Jews, that is of course “apart” from Palestine, is not an “apartheid” solution or dispostion. Apartheid refers to giving Jews civil rights in a unitary state that are denied to non-Jews.

    Palestine will be 22% of the former Palestine, if Israel accepts the June 1, 1967 borders.

  126. Alan says:

    Reza – of course the 1947 Partition Plan was never implemented, and was a UNGA concoction rather than the UNSC. Bad idea though it was, it actually wasn’t apartheid as proposed, but the whole thing is off topic, so probably best to leave it for another day.

  127. fyi says:

    Unknown Unknowns:

    You are probably correct about their racial origins.

    But the culture of the Turks in Iran, to this day, is closer to those of Central Asians.

    I do not think that one can make a facile argument that the Turks in Iran are Turkified Persians that differ with Persians only in their language. Certainly their attitude towards their womenfolk is different than the Persians.

  128. Castellio says:

    Mr. Esfandiari has stepped around the troll with aplomb.

  129. Unknown Unknowns says:

    @ fyi etc.

    Unless I am quite mistaken, the Qizilbash tribe which the Safavid Shah Ismail arose out of to lead (the “owbash-e Qizilbash” as they were then pejoratively known to Sunni Iran) were Kurdish ethnically (I.e., Iranic) and Turkic linguistically, in just the same way as the Azari-speaking Shi’a of the State of Azerbaijan are, and as are, for that matter, the good people of Qazvin.

  130. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    Not sure I would agree with Ayatollah Shirazi.

    Horns symbolized super-natural or esoteric powers.

    Thus the Divs in Shahnameh.

    Also this: the horned head-dress was worn by Nabatean Kings as well.

    And Nabateans were closer, goegraphically and culturally, to Arabs.

  131. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @FYI

    Well, don’t forget that Ayatollah Shirazi has declared that the king mentioned in the Qur’an named ‘Zulqarnain’ was none other than Cyrus the Great.

    ’300′ depicted Iranians, literally, as monsters. People both supporting and opposed to the IRI were appalled by it. Indeed, it brought Iranians together in their revulsion.

    Of course, the neocons like Victor Davis Hanson loved every minute of it.

  132. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Alan

    The UN security council came up with some really crazy borders for the Jewish state and the Arab state. It effectively isolated people on both sides.

    http://theweeklyspectrum.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/pal_map.jpg?w=300&h=381

    The stupid thing is that the modern peace plan is about creating the same apartheid solution first proposed in 1947 but with the Palestinians getting about 20% of their historical homeland.

  133. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    Yes, I agree with you about the theoretical position of the Doctors of Religion in Iran.

    Nevertheless, they are also changing: I was amused when Aytaollah Kashani during Friday Prayer at Tehran University a few years ago attacked the movie “300″ as a conspiracy against Iran.

    Thus, in his mind, the constructed line from contemporary Iran to the ancient Iran is alive and well.

  134. Alan says:

    Reza – your point about the lack of a referendum over the establishment of Israel is valid of course, however what were the demarcations for the State of Israel that were drawn up by the great powers?

  135. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @FYI

    I think the Iranian ulema try not to identify Shia-ness with Iran-ness because that limits the reach of Shia Islam. They oppose what they call a ‘pagan nationalism’. The Safavids promoted Shiism, but it had already taken root in the country. Nader Shah, also of a Turkic tribe, was a Sunni but was nonetheless an Iranian patriot who revived the power of the Iranian state through his military conquests (and brutality).

    In the ancient past, Iran-ness was an ethnic term. If you were of the “Aryan” tribes you were an Iranian. This was to distinguish you from the pre-Aryan peoples such as the Elamites, Guti, Kassites, Mannaeans etc. Indeed, the language spoken in Khuzestan (khuzi) , for about 1500 years after Cyrus the Great established the Persian state, was not an Iranian language but a non-Indo-European one.

  136. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Marg bar

    LOL. I would support a state for all the people of Israel/Palestine based on the outcome of a democratic referendum. The state of Israel as a “state for world Jewry” was not established through such a referendum in the first place. It was created by the great powers who drew up the demarcations.

    I am in favor of a one-state, post-zionist solution that preserves the Jewish nature of the country (Hebrew language, calendar etc) but which does away with the “right of return” and makes gives citizens equal rights and freedoms irrespective of their race and religion….i.e. a state for Israelis and Palestinians and not a state for Jews.

    I believe this would be acceptable to most Muslims and to many Jews. I think the younger generation in Israel are tired of living in a modern Sparta.

  137. fyi says:

    Marg.bar.Israel:

    In fact, there is no such facts established that the United States was behind an attack on herself.

    I personally find that as unlikely as the claim made that Cinema Rex fire was set on fire by the followers of Mr. Khomeini.

    In the first place, I cannot believe that US government, with all its warts and faults, would engae in orchestrating attacks on her-self to justify attacks on the states of the Middle East. I do not think the states of the Middle East are that crucial to the security and well-being of the United States.

    Furthermore, almost all governments in the world care about the well-being of their citizens. I do not think US government will be any exception to that.

    Thirdly, the 9/11/2010 attacks on US, if initiated somewhere within the United States government, would have required the involvement of many people who would inevitably talk. Americans are poor at keeping secrets.

    Fourth, such a devilishly clever attack would have required very many smart people to orchestrate it. There are not that many smart people in the world.

    It is a well-known fact of criminal investigations that there are often loose ends. That is, even if the real criminal is arrested, there always remain unanswered questions. This is normal and one should apply it to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

    Fifthly, I think if someone or some group of people desire to harm another person or persons, and they do not care about their own lives, then not much can be done to protect against such people.

    Now, in my opinion, certainly US used the pretext of those attacks to try to robustly advance her geopolitical agenda in the Middle East – without success. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech must be viewed as a form of information war against the United States: that is; he tapped into global doubts and unanswered questions about those attacks as well as the conspiracy theories about them to smear the United States. His was an inflammatory speech in response to US –EU Axis pressures on Iran. That was the speech of the man who knew no conciliation with US is on the cards and therefore went after what he perceives to be the weak spot in US position.

  138. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    I never questioned the integration of Turks into the Iranian polity at large.

    My contention, all along, has been that “Iran-ness” is a (very) junior partner to “Shia-ness”.

    I do not know the historical moment when the various ethno-linguistic groups in Iran assumed Shia religions as their dominant identity; but there must have been such a transition.

  139. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Marg Bar

    I honestly don’t know who was responsible for 911 and don’t have access to the evidence that would allow me to make such a judgment. What I would say is that Ahmadinejad raised the possibility that 911 was an inside job used to initiate foreign wars of aggression, and many people believe this to be credible.

    I do find it interesting that the FBI are not seeking Osama bin Ladin’s arrest for 911 but for the embassy bombings in Africa. Do they know something we don’t?

    @FYI

    Iran has always been the name of the country. Azeri Turks that live in Iran consider themselves to be as ‘Iranian’ as the Persians. Why did so many Azeris vote for Ahmadinejad and not for Mousavi if they didn’t feel they were an integrated community?

  140. fyi says:

    Castellio:

    The notion/concept of Nation-State came out of (Western Europe). It is a model of an specific (ideal) kind of state – one nation, one leader, one state as Herr Hitler would have it.

    This model is inapplicable too much of the world outside of Western Europe. And even in Europe, you have to close your eyes to its inconsistencies: Basque and Catalans in Spain, Welsh and Scotts in UK, etc.

    Outside of Europe, no state is like that and the pursuit of a purist nation-state ideal will breakup many, if not most, of currently existing states in the world; as it did in Yugoslavia with deplorable consequences for everyone.

    Canada, United States, Spain, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, China, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and many other are multi-ethnic, multi-lingual states.

    I think there are only 2 purely mono-ethnic states in the world that conform to the Nation-State model; Korea and Japan.

    So the nation-state model/concept, in my opinion, does not provide a useful analytical framework. One could instead posit the “the state for people XYZ”. Then UK, for example, will be seen for what it is: a state for the English people, by the English people in which other subordinated ethnicities can participate. Likewise, China can be seen as the state of the Han people where everyone else who is not Han by blood is a minority.

    In case of the states of modern Iran, the state began as being one for the Shia Turkic tribes. The Persians, Lors, Gilaki, and others within the state were subject people who had been conquered. The Safavids, however, realized that it was insufficient to base the state on such a narrow segment of the population. They did 2 things: forced as many people as possible to become Shia Muslims and also revived the ancient name of Iran and applied it to their state.

    Nevertheless, the Turkic vs. Non-Turkic remained a major fault-line of the Safavid state and greatly harmed that dynasty. With the passage of time, the Turkic vs. Non-Turkic fault line was ameliorated with the further entrenchment of the Shia identity and its mixture with “Iran-ness.” This is something that foreigners do not easily grasp; that modern Iran, starting as the state of the Shia Turks, was transformed over 500 years to become the state of the Shia Iranians with the Iran-ness being kept at a vague conceptual level.

    In regards to West as normative: I think Karl Marx, with his theory of stages of human development (I suppose you could say Hegel started that) was the person who was most responsible to lay a claim that Western history is normative of all of mankind. By implications then, the political and social formations of Western Europe and North America, the dominant civilization of Earth, are the norms and standard to which all non-Western people must strive.

    I could agree with the statement that the Rule of Law and Representative Government, first discussed, developed, and implemented in North Western Europe are desirable features for emulation by the rest of the world. But the emulation cannot be based on European ideas and systems of thinking alone, it must be adapted to the specific locales where these ideas are taken.

    To wit: Mr. Khomeini amalgamated the principles of Islam with that of Republicanism. This non-secular representative system then will not be acceptable to Dr. Sadjadpour and others like him since it is not conforming to the European norms that themselves were a consequence of the war against the Church.

  141. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    I do not disagree with most of your statements except the role of the Turks in Iran.

    Whether the Safavids considered themselves, in some sense, Iranian or not is an interesting historical question. I imagine one or two Ph.D. thesis can be written on that. But your contention is just that, a contention. Specially since it is quite clear that the culture of the contemporary Turks in Iran is much closer to the Turks of Central Asia.

    You also have not disputed my statement that it was the Safavids that revived the ancient name of Iran and not Samanids or anyone else.

    Respectfully, I do not wish to debate it futher.

    It seems to me that our difference fundamentally is that I consider the Shia religios to be the glue that keeps contemporary Iran together, with “Iran-ness” being a distant second.

    You seem to think “Iran-ness” predominates.

  142. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ Marg bar

    Well, I think Ahmadinejad stated that there was a ‘theory/hypothesis’ that the official version of 911 was not as is claimed. Opinion polls conducted in the United States and the world would appear to reflect this.

    I think he mentioned this because it is becoming clear that the invasions that followed 911 massively benefited certain corporations and people are angry about this. “Wars for profit” are not new, so if one were cynical and callous one could say that 911 was a boon for some wealthy investors.

    At the same time, the irony of ironies is that Iran is the biggest beneficiary of the “war on terror” – the US removed its regional nemeses, set up pro-Tehran regimes in Baghdad and Kabul, the price of oil skyrocketed boosting the Iranian economy and the Iranians accelerated their nuclear program knowing that the US was too busy in Iraq to do anything about it.

    It is a strange world we live in – but it seems that money is the root of all politics.

  143. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PB

    Yes, Sadjadpour’s standards of research are poor – he has hardly any record in the peer-reviewed journals. But that is symptomatic of ‘scholarship’ at these think-tanks and lobby groups today. His employer, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’, is only concerned with propagating an agenda. If you watch their ‘discussions’ they are carefully choreographed and stage-managed affairs wit selected panelists and audiences.

    The corporate media will nonetheless always give him more airtime than the Leveretts. That is just how the system works.

  144. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @FYI

    Actually, it was the Samanids that restored Persian sovereignty following the Arab conquest. I don’t see your point about the role of the ‘Turks’ in the birth of the modern Iranian identity. Sure, the Safavids and Qajar elites were from Turkic tribes and spoke a form of Turkish but they considered themselves Iranians. You should know that many Iranians are of mixed ethnicity. Ayatollah Khamenei’s father was an Azeri Turk while his mother was a Persian from Yazd. I myself have both Azeri and Persian ancestry.

    Iran is multiethnic, but has had a national identity for over 2500 years. That is why it is futile to think that separatism can take root or that a ‘federal Iran’ would be welcomed. The neocons like the idea of a federal Iran because it would mean they could try and gain influence over the oil-rich provinces and weaken the central government.

  145. PB says:

    It’s a shame that people even respond to Karim Sajedpour.

    Karim said the Iranian regime needs to learn from Dubai how to build an economy based on simple business principles, as a gues on PBS’s “Newshour,” on semptember 23rd. No one apparently gave Karim the memo that Dubai’s economy collapsed as its been based on realstate speculative market. Karim never bothered to research the fact that the only state in the Persian Gulf that has a surplus of $90 billion cash reserves is Iran.

    I hope Mr. Esfandiari spends his time more wisely in the future and no worry what goes through Karim’s State Department sponsored brain.

  146. Castellio says:

    Off topic, but there’s an interesting article in the Korea Times about the de-nuclearization of Ukraine, trying (and failing) to relate it to North Korea.

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/11/116_75437.html

  147. masoud says:

    Eric,

    I appreciate the thoughtfullness. I’ll be here when you’re ready.

  148. Castellio says:

    FYI, are you saying that nation states must be ethnically pure (or ideologically pure) when you write: “Modern Iran is based on the twin ethnos of Persian and Turk. It emphatically is not a nation state.”

    I think that’s what you’re saying, but is it?

    Also, I’d like you to clarify what you wrote to Humanist. When you write “They also believe Western experience to be normative” are you saying that they believe that the experience of living in America sets the correct standard for all cultures?

    And I guess I want to add, are their lives really so comfortable?

  149. Dan Cooper says:

    The Ayatollahs’ Democracy

    Hooman Majd

    New America Foundation

    http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=oMjMFr7tpgw&feature=related

  150. fyi says:

    Humanist:

    The individuals that you have mentioned are not just admirers of the West (or the idea thereof).

    They also believe Western experience to be normative.

    This the nub.

  151. Castellio says:

    Humanist, yours is a brilliant characterization: “It is a mix of proven facts, truths, reasonable assumptions, half-truths, simplistic evaluations, lies…..and a wrong conclusion.”

    As they say in French, “Chapeau!”

  152. Humanist says:

    On October 12, as Humanist_2 I commented on a narrow part of Sadjadpour’s FP article which is the subject of the present post.

    I believe it is relevant to copy that comment here again since as I try to show Karim, because of his possible affiliations with neocons, is not credible thus maybe he should not taken seriously.

    —-

    Yes IRI is corrupt….and Ahmadinejad at times talks nonsense but… .

    Recently Charlie Rose to discredit Ahmadinejad and to negate the effects of his assertions on US/West/Israel selected four Iranian-American ‘‘scholars’’ to appear on his show. Sajjadpour was one of them. (Larry King used Farid Zakaria for the same job).
    In my view those four individuals are in the camp of admirers of the West (and/or Israel). They are unlike the respected Iranian-Americans such as Afrasiabi, Hosseinzadeh or Fayazmanesh who are dedicated to tell the truth regardless of the possibility of any personal loss.
    This article of Sajjadpour is like an Op-Ed written by someone who (subconsciously or otherwise) knows he should not offend those who are pulling the political strings. It is a mix of proven facts, truths, reasonable assumptions, half-truths, simplistic evaluations, lies…..and a wrong conclusion.
    I just refer to one of Sajjadpour’’s foxy assertions.
    He brands the Iranian 2009 presidential election as ‘‘Tainted’’. (refer to Webster to find out how loaded this adjective is). During the election period he was in the neocon camp spreading unsubstantiated accusations against IRI not only for ‘‘widespread fraud’’ but also for its brutality towards the protestors.
    Now we know:
    1- IRI authorities knew Ahmadinejad is going to win with a very wide margin.
    2- As Hooman Majd in Fora TV video (minute 46) shows it is very difficult to carry out a grossly fraudulent election in Iran.
    3- Eric A. Brill’’s 38 page investigative report convincingly concludes ““There is not a single credible evidence of fraud in that presidential election””. ( http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/ )
    4- TFT, WPO (University of Maryland), GlobeScan and other reputable statistics confirm Brill’’s key assertions.
    Yet Sajjadpour in effect repeats the same neocon lie of ““fraudulent (tainted)”” which was spread so skillfully making almost everyone in the world believe it.
    Doesn’’t he know that lie was used to demonize, de-legitimize, de-stabilize IRI with probable objective of paving the road for a heinous war? (and possibly for other sinister goals)
    If he is really against the war why (instead of zig-zagging) he doesn’’t directly attack the real culprits (who pull the strings) similar to what Hosseinzadeh or Afrasiabi are doing and why he doesn’’t understand that ‘‘China route’’ is not perfect and it can never work the way it did with China, but among other terrible options is the only one which is worth advocating.
    Admittedly its chance of realization is very low but it has the advantage of:
    1- It is rational, optimal and is truly beneficial to both sides.
    2- In the process of arguing its advantages it can very effectively expose the maniacal elements who are dangerous not to their enemies but more so to themselves.

  153. Castellio says:

    Thanks, Arnold.

    And when Nasser broke with the colonial structure, which country under which rulers underminded every action to create a stronger pan-Arabism?

  154. Arnold Evans says:

    James:

    Saudi Arabia was clearly, I think, just as much part of the British imperial system as Egypt’s King Fahad or the Indian kings of the British Raj.

    When do you think it became independent?

    Nasser overthrew British imperialism in Egypt. India was formally granted independence. What event marked the transition of Saudi Arabia into a nationalist dictatorship after being part of the British Empire now managed in that region by the US?

    And I take it you think its pure coincidence that Saudi Arabia has consistently and reliably taken more pro-Israel positions than would reflect the views of the people it rules.

  155. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    You live in dream history.

    The significance of Iran was that it was the first Universal Empire. A state within which diverse groups of people could live their lives in peace and tranquility. This idea of the Univeral Empire, first realized by the Persians during the Persian Empire, went far. It certainly influenced China and Shi Hwang Ti. It went through to Rome and later the Holy Roman Empire, the British Empire, and now US Empire.

    It was the progenitor of the idea of World Govbernment – which I whole-heartedly oppose.

    Modern Iran is based on the twin ethnos of Persian and Turk. It emphatically is not a nation state.

  156. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    Perkovich had some useful ideas back in 2005 and we would not be here on this site if US Congress had acted on some of his recommendations.

    Goldschmitd is a partisan of someone, I am not sure who though. His proposals in regards to iran and reform of NPT are nothing but the taking away of sovereign rights from other states.

    I agree that CEIP has deteriorated in its impartiality.

  157. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Persians were influential in the Il-Khanate of the Mongols.

    But there was no Iran at that time.

    Iran died with Yazdgard III.

    It is an astonishing irony of history that a Turkic confederation under a Turkic dynasty revived it.

    Anyway, when bombs start falling, they do not care about the pedigree of a state.

  158. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    I just don’t see how comparisons are relevant. The only thing you could say about these events is that they happened in human history. Human is to be underlined.
    All these events happened under different circumstances, to different people, in different weather/climates, in different languages, political structures, literacy, and I can go on, but you get the point. Am I the only one to think this?

  159. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James

    Respectfully, I suggest you read a great book on the subject on the history Saudi Arabia if you can get your hands on a copy.

    http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415453721/

    I think you will find that the House of Al-Saud was armed and supported by the British who helped create the only state in the world named after a family!

    Peace.

  160. In performing research for my “2009 election” and “Iran nuclear dispute” writings, I came across mostly excellent writing by others, with occasional exceptions as might be expected. I did, however, notice two disappointing patterns worth mentioning.

    1. In the “Iran election” area, Michael Slackman of the New York Times got his facts wrong noticeably more often than others, as I’ve mentioned in my Iran election article and in various comments on earlier Race for Iran threads. Some mistakes were so extreme as to be almost comical.

    2. In the “Iran nuclear dispute” area, I was surprised to find how often shaky analyses were built on factual mistakes or unsubstantiated assertions by writers for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Here are four examples:

    Amy Reed’s assertion that all Security Council actions are binding on all UN members by virtue of Article 25 of the UN Charter, regardless of whether the action was authorized under the UN Charter. See: carnegieendowment[DOT]org/publications/index[DOT]cfm?fa=view&id=18636. She cites no authority for this, and I could find none. See my analysis of Article 25 in Part 2 of my “nuclear dispute” article (irannucleardispute[DOT]blogspot[DOT]com).

    George Perkovich’s assertion that the UN has authority to enforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. See footnote 13 and associated text of my “nuclear dispute” article (irannucleardispute.[DOT]blogspot[DOT]com). He cites no authority for this, and I could find none.

    Pierre Goldschmidt’s George Perkovich’s assertion that Iran’s declaration of its Natanz facility on February 21, 2003 came too late.
    carnegieendowment[DOT]org/publications/index[DOTcfm?fa=view&id=19078.
    Their argument is an unwarranted stretch, as I explain in footnote 40 and associated text of my "nuclear dispute" article (irannucleardispute.[DOT]blogspot[DOT]com).

    James Acton’s assertion that Subsidiary Arrangements under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement may be changed without formal approval from Iran’s government. Solely on this basis, Mr. Acton has written several pieces arguing that Iran is bound by the “new” Code 3.1, which requires very early disclosure of nuclear facilities. He cites no authority for this, and I could find none. I do not necessarily believe that Mr. Acton’s conclusion is wrong – simply that he lacks a basis for reaching it. He should at least work his way through the much more intricate arguments that can be constructed from the Safeguards Agreement text, and should acknowledge the importance of information still not known to those outside the IAEA and Iran about certain key communications between those parties on this issue. I find myself unable to reach a firm conclusion on this question, but at least recognize my inability to do so; Mr. Acton should too. See footnote 33 and associated text of my “nuclear dispute” article (irannucleardispute.[DOT]blogspot[DOT]com).

    In all four cases, the writer’s unsubstantiated assertions led to conclusions unfavorable to Iran. I learned to take Carnegie Endowment for International Peace writings about Iran with a very large grain of salt.

  161. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    I long have thought the overthrow of the Qajar dynasty was unfortunate for Persia (Iran).

  162. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    The creation of Saudi Arabia was not the work of the “great powers”. And the Saudis are Arab nationalists, rather than stooges of the “great powers”. That cooperation with Israel on one issue or another suits Saudi purposes, does not create an “axis”. Your doubts of Saudi sincerity regarding the danger Israel poses to the peace of the region are ill-founded, in my opinion.

  163. Goli says:

    Reza,

    I agree with your comments.

  164. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Goli

    You can criticize the Qajar empire, but they also prevented Iran from becoming a British or Russian protectorate. Fath Ali Shah, in particular, kept Iran a major power.

    I am not saying Iran should see itself as an imperial power today and try and build a new empire, but that the history of the country means that it is a civilization in its own right and one that cannot be expected to behave as if it were any third world state.

    As for CIA operations, please understand that I didn’t want my post to reflect badly on my hosts. They get enough criticism for being IRI apologists, so I don’t want them to be viewed as blowing the whistle on covert CIA activities in Iran. Of course, the are credible reports of CIA assistance to various dissident and militant groups in Iran – Abdolmalik Rigi was apprehended heading from Dubai to Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan which is controlled by the American military. He was to receive his next set of “instructions” there.

  165. Masoud,

    “I was wondering whether you had a chance to think about a response to what I posted on an earlier thread.”

    Yes, and I will respond. My apology for the tardiness, but I hope you’ll take that as flattery: the better the comment, the longer it takes to think about.

  166. Goli says:

    Reza,

    I think you exaggerate the Iranian imperial power through the centuries. (It is indisputable that Qajars for one were more of a major embarrassment and disgrace than anything Iranians can be proud of. Remember the treaties of Golestan and Turkmenchay?) I do agree, however, that the perception of imperial grandeur is prominent among Iranians, and that perception alone can have the effects you speak of.

    On your earlier response to my comment regarding CIA’s covert activities in Iran, I guess you and I have very different takes on what constitutes evidence.
    In my view, there is no shortage of credible evidence in support of Iran’s claims on CIA’s ongoing covert activities in Iran, at its borders, and through Iranian expats abroad. This includes cash and other assistance to Baluchies, kurds, and the Majahedeen. There has also been several reports of continuing and ratcheting up of these covert activities under the Obama administration.

  167. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James

    Yes, in public the Saudis rail against Israel. But the Wahabists of Arabia are part of the same axis of power as the Zionists in Palestine. They both owe their rule to the colonial and great powers, and are there to preserve their political masters’ interests in the region.

    The Saudis and Israelis have a long history of clandestine/covert cooperation.

  168. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    You are quite right to say the Safavids created an empire that became a Persian Empire and that Iran is the present-day successor to that empire.

  169. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    I think it is erroneous to talk of a “US-Israel-Saudi” axis. The Saudis say Israel is the greatest threat to the peace of the Middle East.

  170. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @FYI

    Iran, the nation-state, was founded by Cyrus the Great 2500 years ago when he unified the Median and Persian states. That makes it the oldest nation-state. Before then, Iran was just a geographical and ethnic term.

    Modern Iran, in a social and cultural sense, can be traced back to the Safavids.

  171. James Canning says:

    Bussed-In Basiji,

    You are quite right, that the American “revolution” was partly a civil war. This was also true with the War of 1812 (between the US and Britain).

    My understanding is that about a third of the colonists wanted separation from Britain, a third wanted to continue the existing connection, and about a third were unsure.

  172. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    There is no question but that the Iranian plateau has been for many many centuries at the heart of major empires, over the past 2,500 years.

    Weren’t the Persians in control of the “Mongol” Ilkhanate (a successor state to Genghis Khan’s empire)?

  173. James Canning says:

    iran,

    The French overthrew their monarchy (executing King Louis XVI), but before long France was an empire, under Napoleon I. This Empire became the strongest military power in Europe from day one. Nothing of the sort obtains with Iran.

    I think everyone agrees “containing” Iran makes more sense than fighting an unnecessary war. (This is not to say I think Iran needs to be contained.)

  174. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    “This is the world oldest nation-state.” is patently untrue.

    Iran is a new construct – by the Safavids who gave money to story-tellers to recite the Shahnameh and thus revived the ancient appelation of Iran. Sort of like our Israeli friends since 1948.

    You should get out more and talk to Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese before making such statements.

  175. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Castellio

    Don’t underestimate how much the glories of the past influences nationalism in Greece and Egypt today.

    The point about Iran is that it has been a regional power throughout its history. You can indeed go back to ancient times under the likes of Cyrus and Xerxes, but also to more recent times with Nader Shah and his empire only 250 years ago. Moreover, Iran’s influence has always been due to its geo-strategic position. Just look at a map – it is at the crossroads of the Levant, South Asia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. This has only become magnified given its huge hydrocarbon reserves.

    Greece, I’m afraid, has only a a lot of limestone and a lot more debt.

  176. Castellio says:

    Reza, the ancient is strong argument doesn’t wash. Look at Egypt. Look at Greece. Or if you want to go to Asia proper, look at Mongolia.

    You have to find current sociological arguments, historical social precedents don’t run in the genes.

  177. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Kooshy

    I think people need to seriously read up on Iran’s history.

    This is the world’s OLDEST nation-state. Iran as a political entity has existed for over 2500 years. It is probably also the world’s oldest civilization dating back 7000 years.

    Iran has been the center of three great Persian empires (Achaemenid, Arsacid/Parthian and Sassanid) where it was the rival to Greece and Rome (i.e. the West) for over 1,000 years.

    It was, more recently, the home to the Safavid, Afsharid and Qajar empires.

    You can’t seriously expect a country like Iran, whatever government is in charge, simply to cow-tow to the US-Saudi-Israeli axis of power in the region and not carve out its own sphere of influence. That’s just not going to happen.

    I should point out that the Shah, in his final years, was trying to do what the IRI is doing now and make Iran into a regional superpower. That is one reason why the Americans did not try and save his regime from falling.

  178. James Canning says:

    Voice of Tehran,

    By the 1970s, most major public works projects in the Soviet Union were built by conscripted labor from Soviet Central Asia. And those conscripts, having build the fine facilities in Leningrad or Moscow, were not allowed to enjoy them after their term of service in the Soviet army was over. Instead, they were forced to return to Central Asia.

    The Soviet leaders had good reason to fear the rise of Islamic militancy, because they saw it had the potential to bring about the collapse of the USSR.

  179. James Canning says:

    Karim Sadjapour does not give sufficient weight to the Iranian initiative that sought to achieve normal US-Iran relations, that took place in the early 1990s. This initiative was blocked by Aipac and other militarist elements of the Israel lobby.

    George F. Kennan was the father-in-law of a good friend of mine.

  180. kooshy says:

    Reza

    Sorry I forgot to include your reply to Iran’s comment earlier, which to me is an overlooked and often not mentioned on westerner’s analogies of Iranian’s revolution

    “Both revolutionary France and Iran used slogans to exemplify their ideals: “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” on the one hand, and “Neither East nor West, Islamic Republic” on the other. The latter shows that the Revolution in Iran was perhaps more about the country’s political independence than its internal situation.”

  181. Voice of Tehran says:

    Among main reasons , causing the collapse of the Soviet Union , was the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.
    The Soviet leaders were most unhappy with the rise of Islam and Iran in ‘ their ‘ region after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and a policy of massive confrontation was put into place.
    During the Iran-Iraq war the Soviet leaders did the most decisive and crucial mistake and this was the FULL-SCALE siding with the US in supporting Saddam Hussein in a very blatant and shameful policy.
    This was the first time that the fundamental arch enemies ,( the US & the Soviet-Union ) were on the same ‘ side ‘ since WW2 , in an all-out effort to contain Iran and bring its system down.( We are all aware of the events )
    This grave und ‘ unforgivable ‘ historical mistake broke their neck.
    In my opinion the US policies towards Iran will suffer the same fate. ( if not happened already )
    If we assume that the main target after 9/11 ( and before of course ) had/will always been/be the IRI we reach to ” E N L I T H E N I N G ” conclusions , by looking straight into the face of history………

  182. Castellio says:

    Reza:

    I’m with Kooshy that your piece is valuable and should be lengthened, and would benefit from the response to Lysander in particular.

  183. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I entirely agree with you, that the US Congress has badly injured the national interests of the American people. And it continues to do so. Pressure from powerful Jewish interests has a great deal to do with the situation.

  184. James Canning says:

    Many years ago, I took a class in French history from a distinguished internationally-known historian. The final examination was: what would be the difference to France, if the French Revolution had never taken place? I argued that socially and economically, things would not have been much diffent, one hundreds years later. For that matter, even in the 1870s, the monarchists could have achieved a restoration of the monarchy, had they been able to agree on a candidate.

  185. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Most Americans are not even able to find Iran on the map. Or to say what is the difference between Iran and Iraq. For that matter, many if not most Americans are not aware Iran and Iraq are different countries.

    Neocons are relentless propagandists, funded by powerful Jewish financiers trying to deceive the American public about what is really going on in the Middle East. And their object is to “protect” Israel NO MATTER HOW MUCH DAMAGE THEY DO TO AMERICAN INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

  186. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    “Neo-con”…

    Hmm…

    Yet another alibi for the American people.

    It is the American people, through their representatives, that have damaged the United States.

    I ask again: what business does a petite sub-urban house-wife in US has with the war in Palestine.

  187. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Ernst Mandl pointed out – in a speech that I had attened – the problem of labour productivity in USSR.

    After the collapse of USSR, I met a former refusnik with managerial experience there and he confirmed the absymal state of work ethic, at least among the Russians.

  188. kooshy says:

    Reza

    You have raised a very good and strong argument against Sajadpor’s unrealistic comparison; you are also making very important, comparative and relative analogies in reply to the blog commentators which I wish, you had included in the body of your article like your replies you made to good points raised by Ali and Lysander ,

    “The basis for my criticism of Sadjadpour and other “analysts” is that there is too much much emphasis placed on the “regime” in Tehran and not enough consideration of Iran (i.e. the nation-state) and its own vital interests and security concerns.
    There is a mistaken belief in Washington that if you change the regime in Iran you will then have compliant, pro-American ally that will acquiesce to the United States’ hegemony.
    Non-Iranians don’t realise that Iran has been the regional power throughout much of the last 2500 years and won’t simply be content to be a lackey of another power. Clearly, these people don’t know anything about history. The rivalry between Iran and the West in the Middle East existed for over 1,000 years of conflict with the Greco-Roman world – it is not something new and this must be acknowledged.”
    Or to the reply you made to Lysander
    “Yes, Iran is not bogged down in some foreign country and is not engaged in any arms race with its neighbors or the United States. It is therefore in a position to tackle its domestic problems.”
    “Shia Islam is an intrinsic part of Iran’s national and cultural identity.”

    I just hope since you are very well versed on the Iran situation you will write a long essay on this same subject, since I believe just like during the Iraq war discussions, an opposite Iranian view is lacking in western intellectual and academic circles.

    Thank you for your efforts

  189. James Canning says:

    Neocon delusions have injured the American people more than Osama bin Laden. How many trillions have been squandered in the greater Middle East, thanks largely to the neocons? And THEIR PRIMARY OBJECT IS “PROTECTING” ISRAEL.

  190. James Canning says:

    A primary cause for the collapse of the USSR was adverse demographics. I was at a dinner party about twenty years ago, and Milton Friedman happened to ask what the percentage of the population of the Soviet Union was “Great Russian”. No one seemed to know, so I said I understood it was slipping below 50% and that it meant the collapse the USSR was virtually guaranteed. Friedman agreed. Most of the other people at the table had never given the issue a thought.

    The primary “intake” for the Soviet Army was becoming Muslim, from Central Asia (and the Caucasus). This was the product of high birth rates in Central Asia, coupled with very low birth rates among the “European” or Slavic portion of the population (due to pathetic living standards caused by sclerotic economy). I knew in the 1970s the USSR would be very likely to collapse before the end of the 20th century.

  191. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You are quite right to say that Communism was a quasi-religion. And it collapsed as “religious” belief eroded beyond repair. And that erosion was inevitable because the system just did not and could not work very well for an extended period of time.

  192. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    …that Sadjadpour’s analysis is complete rubbish doesn’t need to be restated and is evident to anyone who has spent two full days in Iran…

  193. James Canning says:

    A strong, prosperous Iran is in the best interests of the American people. By “strong” I mean economically strong. The US ought to consider how damaging to the long-term strength of the country, is the idiotic squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars yearly on ill-considered military adventures in the greater Middle East, and on useless or unnecessary weapons.

  194. James Canning says:

    We should bear in mind here that Nikita Krushchev wanted to have the Soviet Union and the US compete on economic grounds, and to avoid a senseless, wasteful arms race.

  195. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Reza,
    If it interests you (or other participants), please look up the excellent “The Cousin’s War: Religion, Politics and the Triumph of Anglo-America” by Kevin Phillips where he shows that the American revolution was just as much an internal British revolution as other things. He also shows the centrality of the dissenting Protestant theologies in the development of the discourse of independence, freedom and justice in the US. There are some interesting similarities between 1979 and 1776 for students of history.

  196. Rehmat says:

    fy1 – your Israeli Hasbara ignorance always amuses me….

    The NewScientist magazine reported on Fabruary 18, 2010 that the scientific growth in Islamic Iran has grown eleven times faster than any other country in the world.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/canadian-report-iran-has-worlds-fastest-scientific-growth/

  197. James Canning says:

    I think the American public is told that the US tries to prserve its “hegemony” in the Middle East, to protect US interests, when in fact the object is to facilitate Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, ongoing thefts (or attempted thefts) of Palestinian land, water, civil rights, etc etc etc etc. The US Congress has in effect conspired to subvert the national interests of the American people, by fostering Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. This problem goes back to the mid-1970s, when Gerald Ford tried to get Israel out of the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and Aipac blocked it.

  198. James Canning says:

    The effort to convince the ignorant American public that the US faces a “threat” from “Islam” and “Iran” comparable to that posed by the USSR and Communism is the grossest dishonesty. And utter lunacy.

  199. fyi says:

    Rehmat:

    Your statement: “In scientific research, Islamic Republic tops all the western countries and the US.” is not supported by facts.

    The chief global contribution of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic has been the re-introduction of God into History; i.e. the Counter Point to the French Revolution.

    Iranian society is inhospitable to scholarship since the best and the brightest cannot afford to pursue course of studies in fundamental research – they cannot have a comfortable life. The best and brightes are absorbed in applied sciences and in medicine. Of course, this is also true of US with the difference that US is compensating by absorbing foreigners.

  200. Rehmat says:

    Not only Russia or for that matter any other western or Middle Eastern countries. Islamic Revolution is only 31 year old and it has already changed the political and military landscape not only the Middle East but also in most of Latin america. What other world revolution has acheived could not achieve in centuries – Islamic Iran has achieved in three decades even against western sanctions.

    When it comes to democracy and women rights – IRI has achieved which Uncle Sam has not been able to achive in over 300 years. The US still has to elect a woman as President or Vice-president – or being the world’s richest country has to provide decent medicare to its 46 million people, 51 million Americans to get education and security for its women soldiers from sexual abuse from their male officers.

    Furthermore, the gap between the rich minority (48% Jewish) and vast majority is staggering 479 to 1.

    Politically, the US is run by a minority of lobby groups representing Israel, military establishment and the evangelists.

    In scientific research, Islamic Republic tops all the western countries and the US.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/watch-out-president-obama/

  201. Pak says:

    Reza and Eric are now contributing to Race for Iran? What happened to providing “cutting-edge analyses”?

    Reza in a previous posting online, directed at people who were mourning the deaths of protesters after the 2009 elections: “All of you lot are nothing but traitors who talk to the likes of the BBC and VOA [Reza, you are blogging for a former CIA agent. Ironic much?]. May God curse you and condemn you in this life and in the hereafter [how "dynamic"].”

  202. Goli says:

    Reza,

    Thanks for your response. It is true that nezaam strictly translates into regime, but nezzam does not nearly have the negative connotations that regime has. The strict meaning of regime does not have a pejorative connotation; however, we both know that it is used pejoratively when it comes to Iran.

    As I have said before, the IR of Iran is no more a regime than the American government is a regime. (They both endure beyond individual administrations and leaders and the practice of their institutions carry over across time.) No one habitually refers to the American system of governance as the American regime.
    Referring to the Iranian government as the Iranian regime validates the vilification of that government and adds legitimacy to anti-Iranian propaganda.

  203. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Goli

    Well, the NED (which is funded by the U.S. congress) is *definitely* and overtly sponsoring ‘democracy-promotion’ in Iran. The CIA is believed to be engaged in covert operations to destabilize the country, but I don’t have any actual proof of this. However, the Iranian government is convinced that this is so.

    The word “regime” is not always used in a pejorative sense: a “democratic regime” can be used to describe a government just as a “tyrannical regime” can – it just means a ruling order (we use ‘nezaam’ in Persian, as you know).

  204. fyi says:

    Costellio:

    So others have recognized the analogy, that does not make it any less relevant, does it?

    The decline of the Soviet Union during Brezhenev years is not comparable to the situation in Iran today – in my opinion. By the time of Brezhenev, the Russian Revolution was effectively over; there was no enthusiasm for it left in USSR. Furthermore, the Russians had great problems with labor productivity that they were not effectively addressing as opposed to Iranians who are privatizing their economy to address similar concerns.

    If, on the other hand, one considers the period between the end of NEP to the start of the Great Patriotic War, one would discover great enthusiasm and social dynamism in the Soviet Union.

    It is a judgement call as to where contemporary Iran is in comparison to the history of USSR – if one insists on pushing that analogy.

    My own opinion is that it is closer to the period at the end of NEP and before the Great Patriotic War than to the stagnating years of Brezhenev.

  205. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    The talks are broken.

    That is finished.

  206. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Lysander

    You make some excellent points….I thought I would respond to them:

    1) Iran is not a command economy but the state does own a large part of it. However, privatization and market economics has been a policy for the last 20 years.

    2) Iran’s oil wealth does mean it can afford to subsidize the prices of basic goods, although the govenrment now intends to pay those who need help directly and cut out waste and corruption.

    3) Shia Islam is an intrinsic part of Iran’s national and cultural identity.

    4) Many in the green movement would claim they are just seeking to fulfill the ideals of the Islamic revolution, invested in the constitution of the IRI, rather than trying to subvert or overthrow it.

    5) Yes, Iran is not bogged down in some foreign country and is not engaged in any arms race with its neighbors or the United States. It is therefore in a position to tackle its domestic problems.

  207. Goli says:

    Reza,

    You qualify your comments about the NED and the US regime fomenting unrest in Iran with “justified or not”. Do you really believe this or are you just trying to sound more objective?

    Also, I am sorry to see you fell into the trap of calling the Iranian government a “regime” in one of your responses below. As I have said in my comments before, Iranian government is no more a “regime” than the US regime.

  208. Lysander says:

    I hope Iranian residents can correct me on the following.

    1) Unlike the Soviet Union, Iran is largely a market economy. As such it is much more resilient and adaptable to stresses such as sanctions than a rigid, communist, centrally planned economy could ever have been.

    2) Iran’s oil wealth make it a rentier state, meaning the government does not have to tax the people’s productive labor for its revenue. It can use oil money to pay salaries of civil servants, provide for national defense and provide social welfare for the public. (I’m unsure of this point. please correct me if I’m mistaken)

    3) Islam is much more part of the fabric of Iran than communism was in Russia.

    4) Even green party activists would have to admit there are far more true believers in Iran than there were in the USSR, if not an outright majority.

    5) Iran does not have a huge defense budget. It is not burdened by an overseas empire as were the Russians back then. (And the Americans now)

    The only similarity between Iran and the USSR is that the neoconservative movement hated both. Other than that…not so much in common.

  209. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Niloufar

    Once these mid-term elections are over, Obama will have to ask what he wants his legacy to be – playing along with the various “pro-Israel” lobby groups and special interests on Capitol Hill or standing up to them and pursuing meaningful talks with Iran. I just hope he realises the historical significance and seizes such a political opportunity.

    The coming talks in November on the nuclear issue are make or break in my opinion.

  210. Niloufar says:

    Reza,
    superb article in both content and style. highly informative and to the point, and the angle on the French revolution really works too.

    i wonder if Clinton’s birthday message to Ahmadinejad was indicative of a change in this direction. time is ripe for a deal.

  211. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Ali Mostofi

    The basis for my criticism of Sadjadpour and other “analysts” is that there is too much much emphasis placed on the “regime” in Tehran and not enough consideration of Iran (i.e. the nation-state) and its own vital interests and security concerns.

    There is a mistaken belief in Washington that if you change the regime in Iran you will then have compliant, pro-American ally that will acquiesce to the United States’ hegemony.

    Non-Iranians don’t realise that Iran has been the regional power throughout much of the last 2500 years and won’t simply be content to be a lackey of another power. Clearly, these people don’t know anything about history. The rivalry between Iran and the West in the Middle East existed for over 1,000 years of conflict with the Greco-Roman world – it is not something new and this must be acknowledged.

  212. Ali Mostofi says:

    What both of you are doing wrong is very simple. Do not use the word Iran in the wrong context. Just like you refer to the various US political groups, this regime in Iran, should be referred to as a “regime”. It is important to get the syntax right.

    Please do not call these behaviours of the Ayatollahs, as “Iran”. These are the behaviours of Islamic State. That is what the Ayatollahs would prefer to call all countries. That way the word “Iran” is not in the same context as the Ayatollahs’ behaviours. Thank you.

  213. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Bussed-in-basiji

    I just think that when Iranians refer to their revolution they compare 1979 to 1789 and not to 1917. Tne American revolution was more a war of independence rather than an uprising against the ruling regime. However, you are right to remind everyone that the Americans threw off the yoke of British imperialism and saw themselves as a republic of virtue that threatened no other nation. The founding fathers were mostly non-interventionist in their approach whereas the neocons are anything but that.

    Anyway, I hope you realise that Sadjadpour is not a serious analyst and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace not a credible think-tank. His piece is just crass.

  214. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Reza-jan,
    I agree with your critique of Sadjadpour but the analogies to other revolutions has its limits. But if we are going to compare, the best analogy is to the American revolution. A discourse of freedom, independence and justice borne out of deep religious identity and beliefs leads to overthrow of old imperial order and establishment of a republic in a civilization dominated by royalism. Am I referring to Iran or the US?

  215. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Iran

    I think most Iranians see their Revolution as much closer to the French than to the Russian. Although both differ markedly on the role of religion in public life,there are some clear parallels:

    1) Both revolutionary France and Iran found themselves at war with their neighbors who feared the spread of revolutionary and republican ideas. Both used revolutionary fervour among the people to defeat these foreign invasions when the situation looked ominous.

    2) The reign of terror: Both revolutionary France and Iran faced bloody insurrections and chose to respond to them by purging royalist elements and those affiliated with the old regime. Humanists like Robespierre, who hitherto had abhorred the use of the death penalty , became convinced it was now necessary and that “liberty had to be suspended in order to preserve liberty (in the long term).”

    3) Both revolutionary France and Iran used slogans to exemplify their ideals: “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” on the one hand, and “Neither East nor West, Islamic Republic” on the other. The latter shows that the Revolution in Iran was perhaps more about the country’s political independence than its internal situation.

    Despite all the upheavals, trauma, bloodshed and violence associated with it, the ideals of the Revolution in France remain alive today and the French people see their revolution as a national achievement and something that defines them.

    People forget that revolutions evolve – they are not events but processes. Iran’s Revolution is still continuing. What we saw last year is just another episode in this continual and dynamic evolution.

  216. Neil M says:

    Sadjadpour’s over-enthusiasm for metaphors got the better of him when he wrote “the Islamic Republic often resembles a villain inside a victim behind a veil.”
    That is a more resonant metaphor for Israel than Iran.
    I look forward to his forthcoming ‘How to’ guide on confusing irreverence and irrelevance.

  217. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Leveretts: Thanks for the editorial note – it shows that Khamenei’s approval of the US-Iran Baghdad talks means that he is strategically committed to rapprochment with the U.S. regardless of who the president is. People forget that Ayatollah Khamenei rules by ‘shura va ijma’ – consultation and consensus. These Islamic principles define his politics and behaviour.

    I really advise all of you to read this excellent comparative survey by WPO-PIPA of the Iranian and American publics carried out in 2008. Despite all the unfortunate history and negative propaganda – on both sides – I am really heartened to see such convergence among ordinary people on reaching a broad understanding beyond just a “modus vivendi” as Michael Ledeen would say.

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/apr08/Iran_Apr08_quaire.pdf

    Please take the time to read all the questions and responses.

  218. masoud says:

    Eric,

    I was wondering whether you had a chance to think about a response to what I posted on an earlier thread,

    Reza,

    Great piece. I commend you on your even handed tone.

    Leverrets,

    This is a promissing development. I think you have built up a great community of followers who have important things to say, and other than raceforiran.com don’t have appropriate means to publicize any of their writing to appropriately large audiences. I hope you continue to take advantage of this community.

    Masoud

  219. Castellio says:

    Iranian… I apologise for not being able to read the text: why might he despair?

  220. Iranian@Iran says:

    Sadjapour doesn’t know what he’s talking about. People like him should read this and despair:

    http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/news/128175/حاشيه-ديدار-رهبری-با-خانواده-شهيد-عقلايي

  221. Castellio says:

    trop = trope. Sorry.

  222. Castellio says:

    FYI: The Marxism as religion metaphor is by now a tired literary trop and, on the whole, misguided. There is an element of truth, but the fact is that Marx gave sociology an historical context. Those who don’t want to consider sociology as part of a historical evolution, always claim Marxism is just another religion like their own. Those who try to understand sociology historically still use, among others, Marxist concepts, or concepts derived from Marxist precedents.

  223. Castellio says:

    Reza:

    Just a quick comment on the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was, at the moment, both fast and remarkably quiet. The reason is simple. Behind the regime’s inefficiency was a much more important phenomenon, and that was that the people, the many people, no longer supported the system nor its intent. They withdrew their support.

    Americans think Reagan won the cold war.. he didn’t… the Russian people brought down a tyranny they recognized as such. They did it through a form of non-participation.

    Hence, the question is: do the Iranian people support the intent and direction of the Iranian government? If they do… then this is not at all a replay of the Soviet Union.

  224. Iranian@Iran says:

    Well written. However, Iran doesn’t need America as an enemy. The US has created this situation. If the US changes its policies, Ayatollah Khamenei said that Iran will change its policies as well.

  225. fyi says:

    I think there are many clever analogies in there but the order is in fact wrong. That is; Communism had crypto-religious trappings that originated from the prevalent religious culture of Europe. Those analogies that Dr. Sadjadpour is using are then not so unexpected; they are analogues of the analogues of the thing in-itself.

    By that I mean communism always had the feeling of pseudo-religion; Karl Marx was the Prophet, Dialectical Materialism was the analogue of God, Lenin was the Apostle, Proletariat was the Chosen People, and Classless Society was the analogue of Paradise. So, of course one can then discover all sorts of analogies and similarities between a pseudo-religion and actual religion as well as a political order based on that pseudo-religion and one based on a real religion.

    The fact is, Iran is the religious polity of the Shia, for the Shia, by the Shia. Has been so since 1502 and will be so for the foreseeable future.

    I also found his passionately antagonistic prose unhelpful and tiring. I prefer to read Dr. Cordesman’s dry, dispassionate, and factual writings.

    I think the comments were more interesting than the actual essay.

  226. iran says:

    very well said!
    we seem to always forget the fact that this revolution is only in its “teens”.
    what the west is looking to is stoping Iran from becoming a strong “adult revolution” like the French because it would come at the wests influence cost.
    so get ready because the road will be harder.
    Iran has to hold its own for years to come.