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The Race for Iran

Hillary Mann Leverett on America’s Persistent (and Ever Wrong) Iran Mythology

Speaking at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference in Washington, Hillary pointed out that “for over 30 years, we in the United States—and particularly here in Washington—have put forward a series of myths about the Islamic Republic of Iran:  that it’s irrational, illegitimate, and vulnerable.  And in so doing, we have consistently misled the American public and our allies about what policies will work” to deal with the Islamic Republic. 

–The title of the panel on which Hillary appeared was itself revealing about continuing influence of America’s Iran mythology on contemporary discussion of Iran-related issues in Washington:  “American and Arab Policy Successes and Shortcomings Regarding the Regional Geopolitical Dynamics of Iran.” 

–To watch the panel, see here.    

–Viewing the panel in its entirety says much about the present state of America’s Iran debate:  the other panelists include Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation (who embodies DC conventional wisdom on Iran) and Trita Parsi (who has made his own signal contributions to America’s Iran mythology, especially after the Islamic Republic’s 2009 presidential election), with Ken Katzman of the Congressional Research Service as a discussant.  For those who just want to hear Hillary, go 21:20 into the video.    

Picking up on the theme of America’s persistent Iran mythology, Hillary notes that, “for over 30 years, the Islamic Republic has defied constant predictions of its collapse or defeat.  But American policy elites still put forward myths about the Islamic Republic that ignore or, in fact, contradict basic forces driving political life inside the Islamic Republic—with the idea that if we just believed these myths enough, if we just believed, we’d see how to deal with the Islamic Republic.” 

Extending here argument, Hillary explains that the most dangerous of these myths is “the depiction of the Islamic Republic as a system so despised by its own population [that] it is in imminent danger of , in imminent danger of overthrow—a vulnerability that, in the prevailing view here in Washington, can be exploited by the United States and out allies.”  Today, she notes, “this idea comes out in two interlocking arguments: 

–The first is that sanctions are ‘working.’      

–The second is that the Arab Awakening has left the Islamic Republic isolated in its very own neighborhood.”

–And, of course, “with sanctions ‘working,’ some policy elites argue that Iranians will rise up to force fundamental political change, and to force their government to make concessions.” 

Against these myths, Hillary’s presentation offers a bracing demonstration of “how it is American elites, not those in Tehran, who are in denial about basic political trends in the Middle East.”    

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett 


111 Responses to “Hillary Mann Leverett on America’s Persistent (and Ever Wrong) Iran Mythology”

  1. Bussed-in Basiji says:


    “If they invite Iran and Iraq to GCC and change the name to Persian Gulf Cooperation Council; with customs union and via-free travel, they could revolutionize their economic and security environment.

    And it is not Israel Lobby that is preventing them.”

    Exactly, what you described was actually part of the package of proposals which Ahmadinejad took to the Doha meeting with the PGCC in his first term.

    Some of the “brothers” (Qatar, Oman, Dubai) were interested in such new arrangements understanding the long-term benefits for their nations. Other “brothers” were shaking in their dish-dashas at the thought of it (guess who).

    These guys in Riyadh etc. only care about maintaining their feudal absolute family rule and the only way they will go is when their own citizens start chopping off their heads in a good old-fashioned violent, bloody revolution.

    When that happens the denomination of Saudi oil in US dollars will be questioned and if it no longer is denominated in US dollars, well then certain things will happen to the US economy which will lead to other certain things happening to US politics and society. You get the picture.

  2. Smith says:

    James Canning says:
    November 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Actually the Iranians do want their share of the loot. They think it is unfair that only Americans control the resources of the region. They see it as their birth right. And you are wrong about oil and everything. Most Iranians think that oil should be saved for future generations and the less they sell the better that is. You obviously have no clue about the Iranians at all. Let me tell you something. Iranians are borderline supremacists. They think of themselves as exceptional as American think of themselves, if not more. Iranians do really believe in grand destiny for their nation. And for that destiny they are ready to sacrifice and suffer pain. Some one had put a link to a poll here that shows Iranians support the nuclear weaponization in addition to civil nuclear power even if it leads to war. It means they do not care if they sell abit less oil and save it for their future generations.

  3. BiBiJon: “if they could have, they would have.”

    Same BS argument you’ve always used.

    Just as illogical as it’s always been.

    And if you’re going to keep misquoting me, I’ll remain a prat (whatever that is.)

  4. Smith says:

    James Canning says:
    November 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Why not? The Iranians live there. They were the hegemonic power there for thousands of years before Portuguese, British and then Americans came there.

    And do not be naive. American public wants to be hegemonic and is hegemonic. In fact they push their presidents to bring them cheap gas. Where do you think he is going to bring that gas from? Russia? Or China sea? Of course to push the prices down you must hold a big gun to the throat of of all those brown Sheiks. No to mention that Sheik is forced to buy useless military gear and makes sure that his country will remain a consumer and never industrializes in a meaningful way.

    Anyways I find your statement that Americans do not want to be hegemonic there as extremely funny and childish. If that is the case why they are keeping so many fleets, aircraft carriers, troops etc etc at the cost of trillions of dollars in that area which is something like 10,000 km away from US coast? That is what is called hegemony. Iranians want to play the same game. And they actually deserve it and have the right since they live there. Americans do not live there.

    As for sanctions, it might come as surprise to you, but there is no more sanctions coming. There might be some symbolic sanctions resolution but no more actual sanctions. The reason is that all sanctions that could have been placed on Iran have already been done by the west. They even cut out the Iranian central bank. So there is nothing more that can be done. The next step would physically stopping cargoes going in and out of Iran by placing a naval and land embargo.

    The land embargo is going to be difficult since then US would have to invade some half a dozen countries bordering Iran. Additionally Iran has direct sea borders with another half a dozen nations which need to be invaded to make sure that nothing goes in and out of Iran. That would like more than a dozen countries invaded by US. So that is not possible in reality. The only part of a physical embargo on Iran is going to be a naval blockade of Iran in international waters. Though Iran will continue to do border trades and smuggling with its neighbors but its international shipping will stop with a naval blockade. As Iran does not have a large blue water navy, it would not be able to break the blockade. That is the only option left to west short of war.

    But Iran has many option in contrast to west. They can increase the level of enrichment. They can make an excuse like they want 60% or 90% enrichment for a new research reactor running on those kind of fuels. Or they want it to develop a marine nuclear reactor for their navy. They might say we want to enrich to 99% to make a mini-nuclear reactor for a SAR space satellite that they are making. That is one of their options. (This option has already been hinted by Iranians and was in the news some months ago)

    Another option could be to continue with 20% enrichment and make another dozen fordo like enrichment plants under the mountains. (This option was put forward by Ahmadinejad himself who had said that Iran will make 10 more enrichment plants)

    Another option could be to pull out of NPT. Under article 10 of NPT Iran has the right to leave NPT. Since Iran has nothing to lose, it can do that. The ramifications are big since Iran can then go on and develop nukes, completely legally. Once Iran leaves NPT, no law applies to Iran then. And there is no law that a country that leaves NPT should be punished. No self respecting nation worth its salt would sign and ratify an international agreement that basically limits its sovereignty. So if Iran is punished for leaving NPT and having had enough of its hypocrisy and sanctions, then lots of countries in the world from Brazil and Argentina to South Africa and Kazakhstan would think again about having signed NPT. With this situation the whole NPT structure will crack down.

    Another option would be for Iran to get nukes somewhere else, as I have noted below and even test them there. North Korea is a good friend of Iran. No body would know about it until Iranians pull the curtain and show off their new toys. It is certainly possible.

    Yet another option would be for Iran to raise the temperature in Afghanistan a bit after US elections and use the Afghanistan as a card the same way Iran used Iraq as a card with the difference that Afghanistan is a land locked country unlike Libya. The US embassy there will be increasingly at the mercy of Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan supports Taliban. So it is another option for Iran.

    Did I mention Hormuz? Well, that is another option.

    What about using Shias in Bahrian and oil rich areas of Saudi Arabia?

    Iran has too many options. Unfortunately the west played all its cards early in the game. Only the war card is left. I am not sure even that one will work either specially if Iran has got some toys from North Korea. You see no one in Iran had seen a ballistic missile or even knew what it was prior to 1980’s. North Koreans literally taught Iranians what they are, how they are used, how they are made and everything. Iranians then even became better than North Koreans. There is no reason to think that the dear leader has not done the same again with Iranians only this time with a different technology.

    Now without that war card, it is only a matter of time before Iran calls the bluff of United States and force a massive concession from the US side. People think that US is wining here using sanctions and “diplomacy”. I am not so sure. Iranians do not seem to have capitulated one bit. Something is giving them strength. It could be the North Korean toys, or it could be something else. But when you look at the game, their hands are as steady as ever. It is the US side that is getting more and more shaky.

  5. James Canning says:


    Does Iran do “fairly poorly” in its relations with the UAE? Obvious problems with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, related to Syria. Obvious problems with Bahrain and KSA, related to Shia issue in Bahrain.

    I think the UAE would prefer better relations with Iran, provided Iran does not build nukes or help to cause another war in the Persian Guls.

  6. James Canning says:


    Iranians do want “their share of booty in the world”, as you say. The question obviously is whether Iran is helping the people obtain their objective, when the Iranian government causes oil exports to drop by at least $50 billion per year.

  7. fyi says:

    Ataune says:

    November 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    You are wasting your time.

    These Arab leaders from Southern Persian Gulf have had against Iran since the time of the Monarchy in Iran.

    If they invite Iran and Iraq to GCC and change the name to Persian Gulf Cooperation Council; with customs union and via-free travel, they could revolutionize their economic and security environment.

    And it is not Israel Lobby that is preventing them.

  8. Ataune says:

    James Canning,

    So you are saying that in this sentence

    “Some who post on this site wonder why Iran does fairly poorly in its pursuit of better relations with the Persian Gulf monarchies. An attitude that those monarchies should be overthrown scarcely helps matters.”

    you meant the attitude of some here toward UAE can’t help them understand why Iran does fairly poorly in its relation with Emirates ?

  9. James Canning says:


    David Blair’s Nov. 5th piece in The Daily Telegraph, that you linked, should be met with praise. Blair is trying to take some of the wind out of the sails of Israeli leaders pushing for a “red line” for attacking Iran, based on stockpiling of 20% U.

  10. James Canning says:


    A “little pebble in the pond”? Perhaps a large stone in the pond, instead. Iran cannot make a deal with the P5+1 without agreeing to end enriching to 20%. And no deal with the P5+1 means more sanctions, and still more sanctions.

  11. BiBiJon says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    November 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

    “This is one for Richard. If they could have, they would have.”

    Try and take the broader context. Israel was supposed to send a couple of divisions into Syria and then depopulate south Lebanon of its people (not missiles) and then get the war started with Iran. Right?

    Well they couldn’t. They couldn’t attack Syria, or Lebanon, and they couldn’t get the US to pounce on Iran. if they could have, they would have.

    “Try to keep up with what I’ve actually said. That ability seems to be in short supply around here and you’d stand out if you actually made the effort.”

    Don’t be such a prat.

  12. James Canning says:


    Are you claiming the people of Iran want “hegemony” in the Persian Gulf?

    I do think it is clear that FYI would like to see “Shia hegemony” in the Persian Gulf (and Middle East).

    I doubt most Americans want US “hegemony” in the Persian Gulf. But being exceedingly ignorant, the American public is easily bamboozled into thinking “threats” exist even if they do not.

  13. James Canning says:

    R S Hack and Smith,

    Iran is willing to end production of 20% U but the Iranian government needs some concession from the P5+1 to justify it. We likely are seeing some trial balloons.

  14. James Canning says:


    The Israeli government is pushing the notion that if Iran stockpiles 240 kg of 20% U, it will have enough to build a nuke quickly. Israeli leaders were in London recently to promote fear of an Iranian stockpile of 20% U.

  15. James Canning says:


    I was referring to the attitude of many who post on this site, and not the actual foreign policy pursued by the Iranian government (regarding relations between Iran and the Persian Gulf monarchies). The Iranian government does not have the primitive thinking one often sees here.

  16. Ataune says:


    “I mean there is a simple difference between “will” and “might” in English, and between what “might” happen and what “has” happened.”

    And Iran has a constitution in which the roles of legiltive and executive branches are clearly separated. This MP knew that he has no immediate decision making authority regarding matters that are in the hands of the executive and the head of state. The ones that were on the receiving end of his comments, as well as the ones that propagated it, assumed, deliberately or not, that he was talking as someone that can deliver on these matters.

  17. Ataune says:

    James Canning,

    “An attitude that those monarchies should be overthrown scarcely helps matters.”

    I believe you are either ill-informed of the iranian attitude toward the Persian Gulf Emirats or your are intentionally making up those words. Please refer to the following link as a necessary, but not sufficient, introduction into those bilateral realtions.


  18. Rehmat says:

    Hollande: ‘Nuclear Iran is threat to the entire world’


  19. Jay says:

    BiBiJon says:
    November 5, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I was banned from commenting on The Atlantic last Feb. when I put on full display the number of times Mr. Goldberg has been wrong – point by point! My comment, containing a list of annotated links to Mr. Goldberg’s incorrect statements, misleading assertions, or completely wrong predictions, was never posted. I suspect that was just too much fact on display – made Mr. Goldberg a bit woozy!!

    I don’t know of any other profession (except perhaps financial advising!) where one can be wrong so often and yet get more prestige every time he or she is wrong once more!

  20. BiBiJon says:

    Sit down, before reading on

    The Daily Telegraph’s David Blair: “the portrayal of Iran’s nuclear programme as a Roman [as in straight] Road leading inexorably to a weapon is misleading.”


    We’re not looking deeply enough into this highly wishful “Iran suspended 20%” business.

    Recall how they picked up a mistranslation “wipe off the map” and ran with it like there’s no tomorrow. Now this little pebble in the pond is making ripples all over the place. Why?

    Stay tuned, is all I can say.

  21. BiBiJon: “This is one for Richard. If they could have, they would have.”

    I’ve never said Israel could attack Iran EFFECTIVELY. I’ve only said Israel wants to attack Iran in order to start a war between Iran and the US. I know full well that Israel can’t do much to Iran – and vice versa is mostly true, except for Hizballah in Lebanon – short of nuking it, which is out of consideration due to the geopolitical fallout.

    Try to keep up with what I’ve actually said. That ability seems to be in short supply around here and you’d stand out if you actually made the effort.

    The report is that Netanyahu apparently wanted to start the war in 2010, but push back from his senior intelligence people made him back down.

    That doesn’t make one confident that he won’t try again once he has people with different opinions in his intelligence and defense apparatus.

    One could also speculate that the article is intended to imply that Netanyahu actually is independent of the US government and doesn’t need to get a “green light” from the US. In other words, a piece of propaganda intended to boost his near election chances. So I don’t know if any of it is true or not. And frankly, I couldn’t care less.

  22. Smith: Yes, I did consider that the original offer, if actually made, was intended to influence the probability of Obama’s election by making it look like Iran was bending to his will, at least momentarily, even if it might be interpreted that Iran was admitting that the sanctions were working (which otherwise they would never admit.)

    But then they denied it, and it appears that it was never made, so that theory goes up in flames…

    M. Ali: The difference between Iran and the US is that in the US, politicians rarely say the government actually WILL do something – except in the speculative opinion sense which is obvious to all – whereas in Iran it seems that every politician explicitly says Iran WILL do something as some sort of “official” pronouncement – which is then denied by someone else.

    I mean there is a simple difference between “will” and “might” in English, and between what “might” happen and what “has” happened.

    It’s like if I were Ron Paul and I said the US WILL attack Iran next week… Then an hour later, another Senator says the US absolutely will NOT attack Iran next week. But it’s not expressed – or at least translated – as an opinion, it’s expressed – or at least treated – as an official announcement in BOTH cases.

    I don’t know if this is a cultural thing, or if it’s strictly a case of mistranslation by the West (deliberate or otherwise) or simply an inability to distinguish between opinion and official pronouncement on the part of Western media, but it seems to occur frequently and makes following Iran events a PITA.

    In this case, at least, it appears Al Arabiya simply screwed up. You’d think someone there – or anywhere in the media – would speak decent Farsi…or have a decent translation done by professional Farsi translators as part of normal business. Their screwup had every major paper in the world running with the headline “Iran suspends enrichment”. The Guardian compounded it by not running their own translation for such a significant story. All the other media relied on Al Arabiya and the Guardian.

  23. kooshy says:

    Iran’s Untouchable Energy Exports
    By John Daly, chief analyst for OilPrice.

    From 20 March 2012, the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year to 23 October,Iran exported 6,624 gigawatts of electricity to the quintet of neighboring countries, a 44 percent rise compared to the same period in 2011. On 27 October Deputy Energy Minister Mohammad Behzad announced in Tehran that Iran’s electricity exports were worth $5 billion since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year.

    Behzad disclosed the data on the sidelines of 12th International Electricity Exhibition (IEE) currently underway in Tehran. And among those nations attending are Italy, France, Germany and Turkey, all NATO members, along with representatives from China and South Korea.

    Expect to see more growth in Iran’s electrical sector. According to Iranian Energy Ministry officials, Iran will become self-sufficient in manufacturing equipment and goods, which are used in the electrical power industry by the end of the current Iranian year, which finishes in March 2013.

  24. fyi says:

    M. Ali says:

    November 5, 2012 at 7:25 am

    They owe it to the Axis Powers to purchase weapons that they cannot use in order to help dfray the costs of the defense industry in US, UK, France, Italy, and Germany.

    After the end of the Cold War and the Financial Collapse in 2011, there are not very many customers there for Western weapons.

    These purchases also helps subsidize weapons to Israel.

    And, then, on paper anyway, the weapons are pre-positioned near Iran and can be used byu Axis States’ personnel when the need comes.

  25. BiBiJon says:

    Junior Slice of cheese, or used tissue?

    Goldberg has returned to “The Point of No Return,” to suggest he was onto something as a “reporter”, as opposed to, either in concert with, or used by, the bigger and the lesser cheese, Netanyahu & Barak, to hype up war, and derail possibility of deescalation.


    As per Barak backtrack: “Eventually, at the moment of truth, the answer that was given was that, in fact, the ability did not exist.”

    This is one for Richard. If they could have, they would have.

    The real news of course is that all this hyping, huffing, and puffing, has really made Iran into what they feared, i.e. a militarily untouchable, self-sufficient, sanction-proof entity complete with a winning narrative. None of this would have been public knowledge until the 3 cheeses got to run with the ball. The three stooges could not have scored a more spectacular own-goal.

  26. M. Ali says:

    Why do the sheikhdoms even buy jets? Its not like they have any good soldiers. They should just completely outsource their military to the west and pay them a monthly fee.

  27. Kooshy: The problem is WHY would the media outlets publish such a story knowing it would be denied hours later? And what was the purpose since the story makes Iran look cooperative instead of belligerent?

    Or are you suggesting that the goal of the story was to make Iran look leaderless by having two contradictory stories posted? That seems fairly lame to me as well as propaganda goes.

    We’ve seem this sort of thing before over the Strait and other matters and in those cases there was little doubt that both statements actually were said by the individuals involved.

    It would be nice if an Iranian speaker would find the original statements in an IRAN media outlet and then the following denial and compare the two in the original form.

    I continue to suspect that either it was a mistranslation in the original or that at least some Iranian officials really don’t know how to distinguish between “we MIGHT do this” and “we WILL do this”…

  28. BiBiJon says:

    Arithmetic lesson for Sheik (in) Yerbouti

    “It is highly unusual for the Prime Minister to be so open about the need to win defence contracts. His intervention suggests BAE and the Government think they have a good chance of persuading the UAE to buy 60 Typhoon fighter jets, even though it has engaged in protracted negotiations to buy Rafale jets from France’s Dassault. ”


    Cameron: Look, it is easy to explain. [We have made] the likelihood of a war with Iran is very high. The war will put your Sheiky excellencies in peril, unless you repatriate some oil money back to UK by buying our jets. If your Sheikiness doeth part with the dosh, then magically, UK will use her influence to avert the war. Yes, yes it will seem like your sheikdoms are militarizing and makes UK look like a peace maker. But that is a small price compared to what you’ve already accepted as your lot, being the absolute last vestiges of long bygone British empire, i.e. losing all your lucrative biz with Iran to Iraq.

    No, this is not war profiteering, it is tension extortion. It is completely different.

    No, UK will not use the money to finance further provocative military presence in the Ayrab Gulf, thereby further raising tensions, and expanding opportunities for further extortion. I must say, your Sheikiness has a very interesting conspiratorial world view.

  29. M. Ali says:

    After my own post on Bazari mentality, I did a google search on it and came across this from 2010 –


    Which quotes something from 1979,










  30. M. Ali says:

    A little look into the mind of the Iranian businessmen. Remember how all the bazaris were complaining that the IRR was falling? Well, now that the IRR is rising against the Dollar since last few days, I hear a new set of complaints. Oh no, they say, dollar is falling, all the warehouses are full of goods bought at high dollar and now we have to sell them cheaper, we will all go bankrupt!

  31. M. Ali says:

    I wanted to mention this last week but forgot. What the hell was that little news about EU Parliament members wanting to visit Iran but have a precondition to seeing Jafar Panahi in prison??

    Shame on any Iranian that support such actions by the west. Even if an Iranian supports Panahi and if an Iranian thinks his sentence is unfair, that Iranian should have enough dignity to acknowledge that it is OUR problem and to solve it OURSELVES, rather than have EU Parliament members pretend they really care about Jafar Panahi.

    If they really cared about Iranian people, they would put a precondition from visiting America (lift Iranian sanctions first) or Israel (stop threatening to attack Iran)

  32. BiBiJon says:

    masoud says:
    November 4, 2012 at 3:17 am

    “Who could have dreamed ten years ago that a former national security council member would be eliciting a round of applause from a Washington audience by pointing out that Israel is pushing America into a war with Iran? Now I’ve seen everything.”

    Hold your nose and read this from http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/11/04/247535.html

    “Syria and the dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad have carved out an oasis of supporters among Arabs in America.”

    Does anyone know of any opinion survey data regarding Syria among Arab-Americans?

  33. M. Ali says:

    Hack, I think the west has been talking so much about Iran’s mullocracy that it doesn’t really make sense to them when politicians say different things in Iran. Its like how to the west and commentators on Iran, Iran is either a dictatorship where everyone says the same thing, or it is imploding, where everyone says different things.

    They can’t come to the reasonable conclusion that it is a vibrant and diverse political structure, probably more democratic than the west, where all party members and politicians speak in the same voice, aside from minor outsiders like Ron Paul.

    Also, the western media watches every Iranian news channel, goes through every newspaper and magazine, and listens to all radio stations, to find one quote that can be used. If one minor politician on a 2am radio show talks about football for 3 hours and then gets slightly off topic for 30 seconds and mentions something about how he thinks Iran can beat America in a war, the news headline on NEw York Times and Washington Post tommorrow would be, “Iran Says ‘I’m Going to Fuck America Up REAL GOOD'”

  34. Neil M says:

    masoud says:
    November 4, 2012 at 3:17 am

    “As much as I’d like to think HML could one day be appointed as America’s first Ambassador to the IRI I think the Leverett’s have both now implicitly understood(or made to understand) that they are not only no longer in the mainstream in the Washington based foreign affairs and national security communities, but that the divie is now insurmountable and they will never hold the kind of role or influence they had in Bush administration again.”

    I beg to differ.
    One imagines that people of courage, such as the Leveretts, whose values and principles can’t be bought or otherwise traded like chattels, will be in great demand when a sane post-revolutionary US Govt, elected by The People and not an elitist pantomime, will be in great demand to help get America and Americans Back to the Future.

  35. Bussed-in Basiji says:


    The Gav is not even interested in reading and thinking about the values that the British have lost, much the less the US. He’s a hopeless case.

    Read this

  36. Cyrus says:

    Actually, polls of Iranian public opinion have started to show not only massive support for their nuclear energy program but also a substantial degree of support for making nuclear weapons, making Iranians more hardline on the question than the regime. In fact lets remember the Mousavi, the head of the purported “Green Movement”, criticized Ahmadinejad for being too soft on the nuclear issue.




  37. Smith says:

    James Canning says:
    November 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    “You say that Iranians “just want the same thing Americans want for themselves.”

    Many Americans would like to see a sharp reduction in the control of Congress currently enjoyed by Aipac and other extremist groups. What can they do about this problem?”

    I already explained the American situation below. But I guess there might arise a misunderstanding about this so I have to explain it better here with regard to Iranians. What it means is that Iranians want the piece of cake just like Americans want. They want their share of booty in the world. Their little backyard and sphere of influence and the whole nine yards of it. They want to run their own global show in their neighborhood. Americans love (or think of themselves) to be exceptional, superior and hegemonic so do Iranians, it appears. They want to choose their own destiny and they do not want Americans to tell them what that destiny should be. Now Americans may want to let AIPAC choose that destiny, but Iranians want to do it themselves. That is why it is important to talk to them to find out what they want. One thing is sure that they want something, and it is big. But we can not exactly know what that is if there is no talks.

  38. Smith says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    November 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    “One day someone in Iran says something with great authority.

    Hours later someone else in Iran with the same authority says the exact opposite.”

    Ever occurred to you that Iranians love realpolitik. The thing is that Iranians love to influence events and pull global strings without actually showing off. Think of this as a revenge for operation Ajax. They made sure Reagan win to take revenge on Carter. I think they were sending a signal to Republicans this time. Anyways, this Iranian move was very strange and unexpected. We have to see in future why they did that.

  39. kooshy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    November 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    “One day someone in Iran says something with great authority.
    Hours later someone else in Iran with the same authority says the exact opposite.”

    Knowing that this news was first reported by the Guardian (British owned) and Al Arabia news channel (Saudi owned); would you give any chance to false reporting? Or twisting the meaning of what the MP said by the western/Arabian propaganda Outlets, Guardian has now corrected her story only once the story was denied by the Iranian MP in question.

    I guess for the westerners is always “No one knows who’s in control in Iran” like the country is destabilized already, or no one knows who to talk to in Iran, that’s propaganda rubbish. Comparing the western propaganda outlets to the Iranian ones, unlike you I can and do read both sides in original language, the Iranian ones are much more on the marks than anything you have access to in the west.

  40. Nahid: Yup. It’s so much fun getting news about Iran.

    One day someone in Iran says something with great authority.

    Hours later someone else in Iran with the same authority says the exact opposite.

    I don’t know how much of that is just poor translation on the part of the Western media or how much is simply that no one is in authority in Iran except the Supreme Leader, but it makes reporting news about Iran just a delight…

    Oh, and for the moron Exposed: I SAID “IF TRUE”… Of course, this idiot can’t read…

  41. Rehmat says:

    Harper in India with Iran on his mind

    “Harper’s latest act of Zionist fawing was his unprovoked decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran and expel its embassy staff,” Greg Felton, Canadian journalist, author and blogger specializing on the Middle East.


  42. Smith says:

    James Canning says:
    November 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    1- Why not? If Pakistan and North Korea could, so can Iran. In fact there are people who think Iran already has them. For example there are some news reports from Russia. It is not inconceivable. Just like the congressional guy in the video says about Khamenei advisers coming to him. Just graphically imagine the situation in the room. Khamenei is eating bread with garlic flavored yogurt and his advisers are reporting to him. This is just one scenario among many. Basically it goes like this: (It is cartoonish but hey, so is the reality)

    “Your excellency, west has decided to decapitate you. The same way they decapitated Qaddafi. Allow us to advise you on this matter.”

    Khamenei licking his fingers and chewing the bread nods them to start while he continues with the yogurt.

    “Your excellency, we think, our conventional military can not stop an attack and we also think that sanctions will never be removed even if Iran gives up all technologies including the nuclear technology and we move back to stone age. They will not be removed even if you announce your resignation and go to retirement. Even Trita Parsi in US is saying that. The war is imminent and sanctions will remain till west gets complete hold of Iran and its resources with complete elimination of Islamic republic as a political entity. They might even kill your children, the same way they killed Saddam’s, and Qaddafi’s and are going to Assad’s.”

    Khameni looking quite disturbed even anxious, has stopped eating. The odor of garlic in the room is suffocating. The air is heavy with the smell of socks of the advisers sitting on the floor around Khamenei. So he orders to open a window.

    Advisers continue: “Your excellency, we have a proposition. As you already know, they are already coming for you and your family and the whole of Iran. As history is the evidence, US has never attacked another nuclear state. So if we had some nukes, our existence will be guaranteed automatically. As you know we can not sell oil anymore. We can not buy even medicines and MRI machines too. We are already embargoed. The only thing that can stop a war and break us out of this embargo is acquisition of nuclear weapons.”

    Khamenei becomes interested in discussion and asks “How can we do it? We are signatory to NPT”

    Advisers: “That should not be a problem. We are not going to make it ourselves. We ask the dear leader of our brother nation, the North Korea to give us some enriched plutonium and Uranium and all the rest and since CIA had already given us a few years ago a perfect design for a nuke (Operation Merlyin), then we can build the nuke right here in your basement. No body would suspect it that your basement is being used for this purpose. North Koreans can give us enough material for a dozen nukes. All the dear leader Kim wants from you is to give him the satellite launcher design so that he can place his satellite in orbit and win a political and propaganda score against South Koreans. Also he wants a billion dollar to buy some stuff for himself. Kim has also offered to test the Iranian made nuke on his territory and take the flak, that is if we pay him a billion dollar more. That way if situation ever gets bad, we can do a couple of underground tests, followed by an atmospheric nuke test over Indian ocean atop one of our missiles. That way Iran will be officially a nuclear state and any country attacking it will know that the response will be nuclear. We really have nothing to lose with all these sanctions”.

    Khamenei says: “what if we trust the Americans like gentlemen and finish off our nuclear program and tell Kim to go to hell.”

    Advisers: “well then your children will be slaughtered the way Saddam’s were and you will be hauled to execution chamber, while Iran will become another puppet state”

    Khamenei turns to one of his advisers and says: “I want you to go to North Korea first thing in the morning. Tell the air force to give you one of their Ilyushin-76 transport jets. Fill it with gifts for comrade Kim and tell him about my love for his state. Wish him good luck with next satellite launch.”

    2- All Gulf countries are a joke. Tourism or no tourism. Without oil, there will be mass starvation in those countries. When they run out of oil, a population reduction is in order since those lands can not sustain the current artificial and oil fed populations. Iran is completely another case. Did you know Iran is actually less dependent on gasoline than even Germany or Japan or for that matter any other country on planet earth? They have the world’s largest fleet of natural gas vehicles. Natural gas is increasingly being looked upon as a intermediate step towards a hydrogen economy powered by renewable energy and nuclear power. Iran is working on all of them. Iran can survive without oil. Qatar, Saudi Arabia etc can not.

    3- Americans want to be influenced. That is the conscious choice of the majority. If they did not want that, they would have allowed for the election of Ron Paul. Instead they went for people like Obama and Romney.

    4- I guess most of that production is for internal use in Iran but Iran’s oil exports are coming to a halt to due sanctions except maybe a few shiploads of oil that they can smuggle here or there with heavy discounts. But regardless Iran itself consumes large amounts of oil and gas being actually the third largest consumer of natural gas in the world just behind US and Russia. Most of these are used to produce products which also get exported to nearby countries, for example Iran is a very large producer of ethylene, methanol, cement etc. So it is a joke to compare Iran with Oman. Oman does not launch satellite into space.

  43. kooshy says:

    James Canning says:
    November 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm


    I am sure Ayatollah Khamieie (as Hillary M Levrett acknwledged in this panel) knows very well Israel is just an instrument for hegemony of US and her client states like UK in the region.
    So, Israel lobby although is very powerfull, will not and cannot change the longterm stratgic view of the US when it becomes unusefull and a burden they will be thrown under the boss like they did with Saddam, on the other hand constantly blaming the israeli lobby for failure of UK and US’s middle east policy will not convince any one in Tehran. The answere in the Tehran for what you constantly blame your country’s shortcoming is “ ok, why don’t you come back to see us when you have solved your lobby problem in the mean time @* off”

    Gav- on a friendly note your continued, consistant english bording school mentaly is becoming annoying to some here, were you intrested at all to read what he said about American values and how they are lost?

    Best Regards

  44. JohnH says:

    Kudos to Hillary. She put the rest of the panel to shame. She was incisive, convincing and informed.

    The Israeli Katzman from the Congressional Research Service was lame and evasive in his defense of the conventional narrative. The fellow from Rand was an uninformed neocon apologist, who could barely make a coherent argument. And Trita Parsi was weak and unconvincing in making the case that “both sides are equally to blame.”

    Only Hillary stood out, as audience applause repeatedly demonstrated.

  45. Smith says:

    This site is really in need of a proper comment section powered by either a custom made code or a third party comment service like Disqus. At any rate there is a need for an automated comment control system. I hope the site admins take note of this. It would make comments more manageable and would stop the disruptive personalities automatically by using trusted log ins.

  46. Smith says:

    Every one should read these two articles. US is on decline. The world is changing. Western democracy is not longer the only ideal:



  47. James Canning says:


    correction: Iran’s oil production probably about 2.7 million bpd. Much higher than Oman’s.

  48. James Canning says:


    Oman’s oil production is now higher than Iran’s. You are quite right Oman lacks a diversified economy in the manner of Iran’s. Tourism is an excellent growth area for Oman.

  49. James Canning says:


    When you say a new poll shows that Iranians support their “nuclear programme”, I take it you mean most Iranians want Iran to operate nuclear power plants, and pehpas they also want Iran to produce nuclear fuel for those plants. I doubt most Iranians want Iran to produce nuclear fuel for the TRR no matter what the cost.

  50. James Canning says:


    You say that Iranians “just want the same thing Americans want for themselves.”

    Many Americans would like to see a sharp reduction in the control of Congress currently enjoyed by Aipac and other extremist groups. What can they do about this problem?

  51. James Canning says:


    You actually think Iran is going to be able to build nukes and to test them? Preposterous.

  52. James Canning says:


    Khamenei perhaps should note that the enormous power of Israeli Zionists, in the US, is due to the enormous riches piled up by so many Jews in the US. If Jews in the US were poor, a very different political landscape would obtain.

  53. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    Mohammad Hasan Asafari, the Iranian MP quoted regarding Iran’s offer to suspend enrichment to 20%, said this offer was conditioned on the replacement nuclear fuel for the TRR bneing made available (by the West). And a suspension of sanctions.

    Curious why more attention is not given to Hillary Clinton’s refusal to back the UK proposal that replacement nuclear fuel be sold to Iran.

  54. Persian Gulf says:

    I think, Hillary Leverett performed very well in this panel. Obviously a talk like this reverberates very well among average citizens in the west. Only if she could have more media coverage.

    Dr.Parsi is obviously a propagandist for Obama. His sheer desire for being a player, as “fyi” correctly mentioned, makes him dangerous for Iran’s interests. He can compromise anything as his post 2009 election attitude clearly showed. He is intellectually dishonest and bankrupt.

    I am not sure where he got this non-sense idea of Iran’s middle class being totally against IR.

    How do these people get a platform to talk despite their constant failure in the past is beyond the pale?

    He was, however, right that the U.S sanctions won’t be lifted even with a nuclear compromise because they are connected to other things. I assume he meant “human rights”. Something that Dr.Parsi and his organization have, partly, been instrumental in adding to the bill; at least since 2009 election.

    Is Alireza Nader paid to talk against Iran, or he is talking like this because of his biased view toward Iran? (or both?) either way, it’s surprising that the U.S political system is banking on his analysis.

    James Canning:

    Iran’s exit from NPT should be gauged against her people’s core interests, and not based on your assertion in this forum.

  55. James Canning says:


    Some who post on this site wonder why Iran does fairly poorly in its pursuit of better relations with the Persian Gulf monarchies. An attitude that those monarchies should be overthrown scarcely helps matters.

  56. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Best part of the speech:

    “Our problems with the arrogant powers have not ended and they never will. And there is nothing wrong with this.”

    Dr. Abbasi gets this from Imam Ali (as) who in one of his khutbahs (in Nahjul Balaghah) thanks God for making his enemies skillful.

    The Supreme Leader often says that a nation without enemies has no existential value.

  57. BiBiJon says:

    If ‘made in the USA’ is ineffective, try ‘made in Qatar’

    As a skinhead in Hyde Park Corner said in 1982: Argentina is quite right about the Malvinas being theirs, they just don’t understand that Argentina belongs to UK.

    So, where is a Qatari initiative really domiciled?


  58. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    November 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    The sanctions and inflation are considered manageable by very many ordinary Iranians; I know it from first-hand conversations.

  59. fyi says:

    masoud says:

    November 4, 2012 at 3:17 am

    That is undoubtedly true.

    Mr. Parsi wants to be a “player” in the corridoes of power.

    That is what causes men and women like him to be so easily manipulated by others.

    In US, elected officials, call the shots – they have this attitue of smugness about themselves due to having won, often in bruising fights, elected offices.

    Once the War between Axis Powers and Iran ends, say sometime after 2018, it will probably take another 20 years for Iran and US to restore diplomatic relations.

    2038 then, HML can still make it as first US Ambassador there.

  60. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    November 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Iranians are being forced into streamlining their country’s economy and remove some of the pervasive corrupt practices there.

    For example, becuase an internal Iranian mafia was controlling importation of cancer drugs, permits for the start of a cancer drug factory were never issued. The mafia was clever in its machinations; it never denied the applicationm only caused it not to be approved.

    Once cancer drugs became unavailable, the permits were issued – last month, I think.

    To this must be added the Iran Insurance fraud case, the $ 3 billion embezzlement case, the Azad University London Branch case and many many more.

    As Dr. Abbasi observerd – thank God for Americans for being Iran’s tutors.

  61. BiBiJon says:

    From http://poorrichards-blog.blogspot.fr/2012/11/end-of-great-satan-narrative-why.html

    “Helping to end Washington’s anti-Iranian propaganda is only half the battle. The Ayatollahs in Iran must also end their anti-American propaganda and stop labeling the United States the Great Satan. Both sides must play nice and learn to cooperate with each other.”

    My 2 cents:

    If, big if, there’s to be a coming together, then I guess both sides will have to ‘do’ a bit less of the kind of things that annoys the heck out of the other. Assuming they do what they do according to future goals they’re wedded to, then there needs to be a substitution for those long-term goals. And here is the the brick wall full of dents the shape of my own peace-seeking head.

    How to get folks drip-fed on kool aid of supremacy, exceptionalism, etc ever abandon their preoccupation with hegemony? Just as improbable is getting the pride gene out of the Iranian DNA without disrupting the survival hormone production.

    So, Trita’s “codified rivalry”, may well be the bestest achievable scenario till death do us part.

  62. kooshy says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says:
    November 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Thank you for posting some of Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent speech to students, after reading the English version I thought the part of speech I am posting bellow is more important for the American audience to read especially few days before the election.

    “The other side of the issue is American politicians, the arrogant American government. There is nobody in the world who doubts the fact that over the past thirty years, America has declined more than thirty levels in terms of power and global credibility. Everybody knows this. Even the Americans themselves admit this. For example, veteran American politicians make fun of the recent American governments and politicians and tell them, “You dragged America down from that position and into these conditions”. And they are right: America has declined. Today there is no government in the world that is as hated as the American government. If the regional governments as well as other governments outside the region find the courage to specify a day for expressing hatred towards the American government and tell their people to take to the streets on that day, the demonstration that will be held will be the largest in history. This is America’s status in the world.

    As for America’s intellectual and rational state – after all, a government or a nation relies on the intellectual principles that it presents. Money alone does not bring about credibility for nations: there is a need for ideas. The Americans used to say that they had a set of “principles”, that they had a set of “values”, “American values”. They used to create uproar in the world for the sake of these principles and values. Notice what has happened to American values today.

    They were claiming that they were opposed to terrorism. Today in our region and in many other parts of the world, they enter into an alliance with terrorists. They arrange meetings with terrorists and negotiate with them. They provide terrorists with money and weapons so that they can carry on their terrorist activities. They support the Munafeqeen grouplet who have admitted to assassinating thousands of people in the country. They took this grouplet off their “list of terrorist organizations”.

    They claim that they support democracy. They say that they are after democracy and the right to vote, yet they strongly support the most autocratic rulers in our region and in other parts of the world. Everybody can clearly see this. This is an example of the decline of values. There is a government that claims to support human rights and democracy, yet it most strongly supports and helps governments that do not know what democracy is.

    They claim to support human rights. After all, human rights is loudly promoted as an American value. They are carrying the flag of human rights, but the worst actions against human rights are carried out under the protection of America. Not only do the Americans fail to confront such actions, but they also support them. In the occupied Palestinian lands, the shameless Zionist thugs have been openly trampling on the rights of the Palestinian nation for 65 years. But the Americans do not even frown at them. They even help and support the Zionists.

    They claim that they support peoples, yet they confront peoples wherever there is a popular movement for freedom and reform, wherever there is a revolutionary movement against evil.

    They claim that they are the wealthiest nation and government in the world. Of course, America is a wealthy country. It has all the necessary natural resources, above and below the surface of the earth. But the performance of their politicians has been so bad that today America has the most indebted government in the world. America’s debts are as big as its gross domestic product. For a country, nothing is more disgraceful than this.

    They claim to support freedom, yet there is no other country in the world whose incarceration rate is as high as that of America. America has a population of around three hundred million with the highest proportion of prison population in the world. Besides, there are fake kangaroo courts in America. Of course, in their movies and TV series, they show a different picture of courts: courts with specific procedures. These things are only true in Hollywood productions, in the life of movie characters. The truth is something else.

    They claim that they have a proud people. American governments have humiliated and misguided their people, just as the Holy Quran says about the Pharaoh: “Pharaoh led his people astray instead of leading them aright.” [The Holy Quran, 20: 79] They have led their own people astray. They keep the facts from their own people. The 99 percent movement, the anti-Wall Street movement, has been launched in spite of the fact that the people of America are not aware of many of the facts. If the people of America were aware of those facts, this movement would be intensified more than ten times. The people of America are under the yoke of the Zionists.

    Is it not a disgrace for a government that its presidential candidates speak in a way in their electoral campaigns to make the Zionists happy and to prove their obedience to them? In the electoral debates between the two presidential candidates, each candidate tries his best to express his obedience to the Jewish population of Palestine, to the Zionists, to Israeli capitalists. This is because they are under the yoke of the Zionists. In spite of the greatness of their country and in spite of the scientific advances their country has made, American politicians have brought their people under the yoke of a group of Zionists.

    Notice that all of these things are instances of retrogression. What are the consequences? The consequences are that they have lost their credibility in the world, their influence is being undermined in the world on a daily basis, and they are being defeated in major wars. The Americans did not achieve their goals in Iraq. They were defeated. The same is true of Afghanistan. The same is true of their war against Lebanese resistance forces, a war which was started by their Zionists affiliates. The same is also true of their confrontation with the North African nations. They were defeated everywhere.”


  63. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Yet more proof that “Myth No 1” is just that.

    From the Ministry of Economic Affairs

    “Iran’s non-oil exports have exceeded 20 billion dollars during the first six months of the current calendar year (starting March 20, 2012), the Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) Abbas Memarnejad said on Monday.”


    Article 2

    “According to the latest figures released, the volume of Iran’s non-oil exports stood at $25bln for the past seven months up from $21bln for the first half of the current Iranian year (March 20- September 21),” Deputy Head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization Kioumars Fathollah Kermanshahi said in Isfahan on Monday.”


  64. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    November 4, 2012 at 5:25 am

    Posting rumors without fact checking them again I see.

  65. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    lolzer says:
    November 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    And actual rational people unlike yourself wonder how much you are being paid to post empty meaningless insults rather than substantive arguments in an obvious attempt to disrupt the discussion here.

  66. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Supreme Leader’s speech analyzing 60 years of confrontation between US government and Iranian people


    “…It would take several hours to discuss all aspects of the issue, but the brief conclusion is that the arrogant American government is the one that has been defeated in the battle it started in the year 1332 against the Iranian nation, and the one that has emerged victorious out of this battle is the proud, determined and powerful Iranian nation.

    What is the conclusion? After all, bragging is not our intention. Our intention is to learn a lesson. We want to rely on Islamic guidance and find our way on the basis of the realities that exist in the world. The lesson is that when a people stand up and resist in a determined way, when a people rely on their internal capacities and on Allah the Exalted, when a people lay down their lives, wealth and honor, they will be victorious in the greatest and most difficult battles even if they do not have as much money as their enemy, even if they do not have as many weapons as their enemy, even if they have not made as many advances as their enemy, even if they are fewer in number than their enemies, even if they have less than one percent of the media outlets that are available to their enemy.

    Our problems with the arrogant powers have not ended and they never will. And there is nothing wrong with this. Challenges and confrontations are like physical exercise for a nation: they make that nation more powerful on a daily basis. We will become more powerful thanks to these challenges, but we need to be careful. We need to identify the challenges that lie ahead of us. We need to find out what the enemy wants to do. We need to find ways of confronting the enemy. If we fail to take care of these things, if we suffer from ignorance, if we suffer from laziness, if we ignore what is obvious, we will be defeated. After all, God does not discriminate in favor of anybody. If we resist – just as we have resisted so far – and if we rely on God and His religion, we will definitely achieve victory. If we fail to resist, if we ignore the requirements that are necessary for a battle, it is obvious that Allah the Exalted will ignore nations that are lazy, nations that become busy with trivial matters. God’s grace will find nations that resist, nations that understand, nations that have insight, nations that are judicious, nations that make efforts and move forward…”

  67. This is interesting, to say the least, if true…

    Iran suspends uranium enrichment

    My first off-the-top-of-my-head response: Iran is showing weakness and that is never a good idea. Eric Brill might like this, but I think it won’t work. Again, if true…

  68. masoud says:

    I notice that my comment was just approved without a waiting period. I hope this means that we’ve moved on from a pre-approval based system to a whitelist system. And some semblance of meaningfull discussion might return to theses forums.

  69. masoud says:

    Does Hillary Mann ever dissapoint?

    Who could have dreamed ten years ago that a former national security council member would be eliciting a round of applause from a Washington audience by pointing out that Israel is pushing America into a war with Iran? Now I’ve seen everything.

    It’s gotten to the point where I was actively craving, rather than dreading Ali Reza Nader’s best immitation of the valey girls featured in Clueless doing a book report on Not Without My Daughter. I knew our gal Hillary would be up next, and she’d have things well in hand.

    As much as I’d like to think HML could one day be appointed as America’s first Ambassador to the IRI I think the Leverett’s have both now implicitly understood(or made to understand) that they are not only no longer in the mainstream in the Washington based foreign affairs and national security communities, but that the divie is now insurmountable and they will never hold the kind of role or influence they had in Bush administration again. This in turn has spurned them in the last few months to be even more blunt than they had been up until now in their commentary. It’s a change I wholeheartedly welcome(Anyone hear what Hillary said about ambassaor Stephens right after the attack? Talk was than blunt, it was downright cold). I just hope to God neither of them is Ward Churchill’ed out of their current academic/think thanking positions.

    I still consider Trita to be joke, but he did have two good lines:
    Barack Obama, to his credit, is no Saddam Hussein
    I’d like to nominate this one as the official Democratic slogan for the remainder of the campaign.

    Saddam didn’t have to deal with a congress, or an Israeli prime minister
    Almost enough to make you feel some amount of pity for the man, isn’t it?

  70. Nasser says:

    Ken Katzman was pretty blunt that the West is trying to bankrupt Iran to bend it to their will. Mr. Katzman actually represents the consensus in Washington that this is actually achievable; and in fact they are very confident about it. The Europeans seem even more confident that the Iranians can’t survive without them.

    I think they are in for a lesson in the limits of their power.

    First, as Smith below has written Iran is naturally one of the most sanction proof countries on the planet. Its food security index is very high, meaning they are pretty much self sufficient in that regard. They are also not reliant on fuel and energy imports. The country also has a pretty large industrial base and a lot of their imports only harm domestic industries and fuel wasteful consumption patterns. Its primary export, oil, is the most desired commodity on Earth. People need it, market demands it and it will get out. Period.
    Iran also borders a lot of countries; many of whom have every reason to refuse to cooperate on sanctions. The Russians don’t want the US to succeed. The Turks are reliant on Iranian gas. The Iraqis need Iranian electricity. Same with Afghanistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Iran also has long established smuggling routes with some of these countries and decades of experience of dealing with sanctions.

    Second, Iran has been preparing for an actual war for a long time. They have stocked up on large currency reserves, gold reserves and food reserves. They are prepared for far far worse.

    Third, as fyi has long written there has been a lot of dissolution of global economic power. I think the Western countries didn’t get the memo that they alone no longer decide what happens in the world of commerce. Their political class is very stubborn and are in denial of fundamental realities. The Iranians can buy whatever they need from the Russians and the Chinese. Their primary challenge is in finding new banking and financial mechanisms and readjusting business ties away from Western countries. This is a painful time for Iran but I think they are up to the challenge.

    As I have said before, the West already did their worst when they sanctioned Iran’s Central Bank. That was their trump card and they played it. They have run out of bullets imo. Expect a lot more articles in the press about how Iran’s economy is going to crash ….. any second now.

  71. Ataune says:


    What are the interests of america according to you ? And what are the interests of Iran ?

  72. lolzer says:

    There is no doubt that the Leverett’s have not the interest of America in mind nor the interest of the Iranian people; but the interests of the Islamic Republic. One must wonder whether in secret they are provided compensation. They actively propagate propaganda in support of the fascist, tyrannical terrorist regime of the Islamic Republic.

  73. Tabari says:

    ToivoS says:

    {It is clear that Katzman supports war as the only way to promote US interests in the region.

    KATZMAN IS NOT LOOKING FOR AMERICAN’S INTEREST RATHER ISRAEL’S INTEREST, otherwise he would have said US-Iran relation is good for BOTH like Hillary did.

    KATZMAN IS AN ISRAEL- FIRSTER, where many call that a fifth column.

  74. Smith says:

    lolzer says:
    November 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    “After watching the discussion, I think that Hillary should be awarded a medal from Khamanei for her services for the Islamic Republic.”

    And perhaps people like you should be awarded a medal from Bush/Blair/Cheney for your services to neocons.

    Comments like these actually show the mentality Hillary is up against. I am sure it is not easy. By the way, she was the best among the speakers with Trita Parsi trailing at some distance behind her. The others were not even in the class to be compared.

    The congressional guy was comparing Iran to Oman. That was funny. Oman has nothing but oil. These gulf countries have to import everything from their food to diapers to cars. Iran has an industrial base and can survive without any oil and gas exports indefinitely if it so chooses. Countries like Oman will die of starvation if ever deprived of oil sale.

  75. Smith says:

    James Canning says:
    November 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    “If Iran were to leave the NPT, it would make virtually certain that a blockade of all Iranian oil and gas exports would ensue.”

    What a laughable statement.

    1- Iranian oil gas are already being blocked. I guess at this rate, then by next year Iran would not be able to sell any oil and gas so it will leave NPT since there is nothing to lose.

    2- Once Iran tests its nukes, it will be only a matter of time before US will accept Iranian demands and start respecting Iranian position. You see, US has a strong history of respecting and not attacking nuclear armed nations, with recent examples being India, Pakistan and North Korea. The distant examples are Russia, China and even the good old France. So ultimately with these kind of sanctions, Iran will have to re-evaluate its position on NPT.

    3- It comes simply to this. Is US ready to go to war with Iran spending trillions of dollars on this war and killing a few million Iranians to change the Iranian government, do the nation building there and then put in a puppet regime before pulling out? Or alternatively accept a nuclear armed Iran increasingly angry over oil and gas blockade?

    So which one is going to be. Pick your choice. Because the current US policy only leaves these two options for Iranians to take. And no, Iranians are not stupid and they know all the tricks up the American sleeve. They just want the same thing Americans want for themselves.

  76. lolzer says:

    After watching the discussion, I think that Hillary should be awarded a medal from Khamanei for her services for the Islamic Republic.

  77. fyi says:

    Ataune says:

    November 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    You are wasting your time; he does not grasp strategy and the extent to which the bew Shia/Irani power is opposed by Axis States and their local dependencies.

    The sanctions imposed on Iran by the Axis Powers starting in 2101 were initially threatened in 2003 and later confirmed in 2006.

    It was a triumph of Iranian diplomacy that they were delatyed until 2010.

    And the financial crash of 2011 made it possible for Iran to survive without much damage – just look at the Argentinians and their dealings with Iran or Turkey’s volume of trade with Iran, reaching $30 billion.

  78. Ataune says:

    James Cannings,

    “The Persian Gulf and other Middle East monarchies want to remain in power. As do the governments of Syria and Iran.”

    This is a trivial truth that you are over-highlighting purposely here. Any state with any kind of attribute, be it monarchic, communist, liberal, democratic, religious etc…, at any time in the world history want (ed) to remain in power. Legitimacy is nurtured to guaranty this. So the political battle is not about one regime (US) destroying others (Syria/Iran), but how to preserve your own legitimacy and how to undermine the adversary’s.

    Again, your statement here is borderline propaganda, not the entire truth.

  79. Karl.. says:

    Article on FP about a new poll showing iranians support for its nuclear program.


  80. James Canning says:

    Persian Gulf,

    If Iran were to leave the NPT, it would make virtually certain that a blockade of all Iranian oil and gas exports would ensue.

    Iran brought on the latest severe sanctions by its ill-considered decision to increase sharply its production of 20% U when there was no need for such increase.

  81. Castelliio says:

    It’s important to understand what Graham Sheehan’s post (November 3, 2012 at 5:00 am) is actually saying and not saying. He believes the Leverett’s are simplistic because they ignore:

    1. “the complexities around not only the sanctions but the Government mismanagement of the economy…”

    2. “the serious difficulties for Iran in its diplomacy in the region…”

    But this simply sidesteps the real point: why should the US be at war with Iran at all? Is the US at war for valid reasons or as a result of convenient mythmaking?

    Sheehan’s post essentially says it makes no sense to fundamentally critique American motivations as long as the Iranians are feeling pain.

  82. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    November 3, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Yes, I agree with you.

  83. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says:

    November 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

    The first order of economic reform in Iran is to float the rial.

    The second one is to privatize the banking sector; i.e. capitalize private banks from state funds – at a certain interest rate – and have those private banks loan money to producers.

  84. fyi says:

    ToivoS says:

    November 3, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I agree with you.

  85. fyi says:

    Persian Gulf says:

    November 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thank you for your comeents and thank you for correcting my errors.

  86. James Canning says:


    The point I try to make is simply that it is in the narrow self-interest for American “think tankers” et al. to promote policies toward Iran that appear to “benefit” Israel. They often do not want to call attention to the fact the given policy is intended to “benefit” Israel.

  87. James Canning says:


    The careers of those who promote foolish US policies toward Iran, tend to benefit from that promotion of foolish policies – – provided those foolish policies seem to “benefit” Israel. This is the simple truth of the matter.

  88. James Canning says:


    The Persian Gulf and other Middle East monarchies want to remain in power. As do the governments of Syria and Iran. Iran worsened its relations with the Persian Gulf monarchies by enriching too much 20% uranium. This move made no sense whatever. (Unless it was an attempt to probe.)

  89. James Canning says:

    James Blitz, writing in the Financial Times online Nov. 1st (“Israel and Iran: where red lines lie”): “In recent days, Israeli officials visiting London [said that] Iran by next summer will have acquired some 240kg of [20%] uranium.”

  90. Smith says:

    The latest development in Iranian economy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuZ8aXL0rRY

  91. James Canning says:


    Are you predicting Iran will convert all its stock of 20% U into fuel rods/plates for the TRR? Or that Iran can engage in a “cold war” and stockpile whatever amounts of 20% U strike its fancy? I think Obama has made it very clear indeed that the latter proposition is a non-starter.

  92. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    The Israel lobby has made it impossible for Obama, prior to the elections next week, even to suggest he would accept Iranian enrichment to 5% or less, in order to enable a deal between Iran and the P5+1 to proceed. Israel lobby wants to block any deal, of course.

  93. James Canning says:


    Any war with Iran would impose heavy penalities on many countries. Venezuela would profit, as would Norway. China would be hurt.

  94. James Canning says:


    Iran’s leaders comprehend that Iran will have to stop enriching to 20 percent, in order to achieve a deal with the P5+1. Israel lobby, of course, tries to block any deal with Iran. The Israel lobby prefers endless war or near-war in the Middle East, to “protect” Israel (and enable continuation of insane colonisation scheme in the West Bank).

  95. James Canning says:

    And what explains the persistence of this mythology about Iran? Israel lobby. And, to perhaps a lesser extent, the military-industrial-congressional complex.

  96. Karl... says:

    Iran should not leave NPT, however they could threat to do so if x or x happen, they could aslo as they already have atleast from some people from the gov. said, raise the enrichment percentage as a response to sanctions, blockade on them. The sanctions on Iran is a dirty game, no need to play nice back or show weakness, its like giving your hand and they take the whole arm.
    General speaking though, problem today is that Iran lacks options of leverage in dealing with the US.

  97. Persian Gulf says:


    Khatami admin. was in charge in 1998 not Rafsanjani’s. and Iran was somehow going through an internal turmoil, a sort of cultural revolution if you wish. a kind of change that its dust finally settled for good in post 2009 election turmoil. there was no chance she could escalate to the point of exiting NPT at the time. that type of leader did not exist at the time. there was no appetite in the populace to do so either.

    Also, there is no point being out of NPT when you are far away from the bomb. In such an event the U.S would have found enough excuses to pressure Iran either to sign back the treaty or probably attack Iran in advance. It is unrealistic to assume that Iran, at that time, could stay out of NPT for long. However, Iran should use an opportunity to leave NPT at this time. there is no point being part of NPT anymore. Iran got the sort of sanctions she was supposed to get in the event of leaving NPT.

  98. BiBiJon says:

    Graham Sheehan says:
    November 3, 2012 at 5:00 am

    While I agree cheer leading is not what determines the final score of this game, taking up the laudable, though nonexistent, middle position, also does little for predicting the future.

    1. On sanctions and economic mismanagement, there are a couple of points to consider. “Mismanagement’ is a global affliction. Lamenting/celebrating any one country’s mishandling of her economy, in the current global economic climate is absolutely in the purview of cheer leaders.

    I assume Iran realizes she is in a permanent cold-war situation. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17082433
    Her approach is likely to be long-term shifts away from reliance on any services/products of her adversaries. E.g. after a painful period of adjustment, you might see Iran limit her oil exports to a handful of Asian customers, and process the rest to be delivered by truck as domestically-refined petroleum products to her neighbors. Turkey is putting food on the table, and then some, without producing/selling a drop of crude oil. Oil exports do constitute 40% of Iran’s GDP. It is entirely possible to replace that gasoline/electricity/petrochemicals exports to Iran’s neighbors after a very painful period of adjustment.

    2. Egypt was and remains an over-the-horizon issue for Iran. Egypt’s importance to Israel, and US is undeniable, but it does not translate into something directly important for Iran. It is misleading to consider Iran’s failures in winning over Egypt. The only question that matters is whether or not US/Israel are losing Egypt. If Iran survived a hot war with Iraq with Sadat/Mubarak regimes ensconced in Egypt, then she will survive just fine with Morsi in power during the cold war. The reason, I repeat is because Egypt under any circumstances is an over-the-horizon country.

    If it is a sense of foreboding about the looming catastrophic war that grips people , which leads folk to choose winners/losers during the period of escalation to war, then my 2 cents is: a decisive advantage by either side during the lead-up to war, will make war absolutely inevitable. Both sides are aware of this, and their actions are measured towards only one goal, a permanent cold war.

  99. Hillary was very effective on this panel.

    For me personally, it was a pleasure to see her state that she saw no evidence that Obama is going to alter the US position against Iranian domestic enrichment in any future talks, and that therefore those talks will fail. That is a correct appraisal IMO.

    The idiot Nader repeated the notion that “all the US wants is for Iran to not enrich to a level that can be used for nuclear weapons”, ignoring the fact that 1) Iran is not doing so, and 2) has no intention of doing so. He’s either a complete moron or more likely is deliberately ignoring the fact that 20% enrichment is not HEU and that no country in their right mind would try developing a nuke with 20% LEU and that it would not be possible to re-enrich to weapons grade without being instantly detected. In sort, he was almost certainly a liar and thus typical of the Washington policy elite in the degree of intellectual dishonesty shown.

  100. ToivoS says:

    Hillary of course was excellent. I listened carefully to Kenneth Katzman. He sounded like he was truly convinced that our current policies are working in US interests.
    First the sanctions against Iran are working in that they are strangling the Iranian economy. It is only Khatami’s intransigence that is preventing Iran from recognizing that obvious fact. Second US policy in Syria is working in that the weapons that are being provided to the rebels are degrading Assad’s heavy arms and that inevitably his regime will collapse resulting in a major failure of Iranian goals in the ME. Without specifically acknowledging the fact that the US is supporting the importation of antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons he approves of the results those weapons are causing to the Syrian armed forces. It is clear that Katzman supports war as the only way to promote US interests in the region. He also said that this policy is so successful that it won’t be necessary to militarily attack Iran directly. Without saying what Iran has to do to stop US aggression he said the Iranians know what they have to do end this conflict. If he reflects the thinking that is guiding US policy I must say that we are in deep trouble. It is insane. Current actions will not work. Iran will resist. Continuing with his logic then a direct military attack against Iran is inevitable.

    I don’t think that is going to happen, but it is very disheartening to see how deluded US policy makers are. It is very hard to see how this is going to play out. I suspect the sanctions will have very little strategic impact at least in the next few years. The big play will be in Syria. If the rebel forces are not defeated soon then it seems that conflict will escalate into a larger war. Hopefully when that happens the US will show some restraint and realize that we cannot control events and will pull back. There has to be a point when we finally realize that we cannot afford perpetual war.

  101. A concerned world citizen says:

    Graham Sheehan..Thank you.

    You make a very good point. Both proponents/opponents of US/Iran policies are entrenched in their thinking and belief and therefore cannot change course.

    As you said, US policy makers believe any Iranian gain is a loss to the US and vice versa. This thinking is not being helped much by fanatics on both sides.

    For the US, they have AIPAC Likudniks, Republican rednecks and assorted interest group lobbyists that hang around DC pushing for the best idiotic policies they can come up with.

    Looking at things carefully, US and Iranian pretty much share similar interests in the region. The influx of wahabi/salafi terrorists, funded by US client states in the Persian Gulf region cannot be a good thing for the US’s future in the region. But because they’ve backed themselves into a corner with their own self inflicted Iran policy, they’re forced to go along with the dictatorial monarchies in the region, who themselves have an entirely different agenda on regional politics.

    For me, I don’t see how this will change until one side makes the calculation that the cost of this tension and confrontation is too expensive to pursue.

    Such time is probably ten years from now.

  102. Graham Sheehan says:

    There is an urgent need, as Hillary notes, for understanding of the Islamic Republic to avoid a military confrontation which would affect not only Iran but the region.

    The problem is that this call is undermined by the continuing simplicities of the Leveretts, giving up consideration of what is happening inside the country — and often in other countries of the Middle East — for a narrative of Tehran Wins, Washington Loses.

    The examples in this presentation are numerous but, to start with the main points….

    1. “Sanctions Are Not Working” ignores the complexities around not only the sanctions but the Government mismanagement of the economy, with both contributing to a serious economic situation inside Iran.

    2. “The Islamic Awakening is Sweeping the Middle East” ignores the serious difficulties for Iran in its diplomacy in the region, from a strained relationship with Turkey to unfulfilled hopes of a Tehran-Cairo axis to reshape the Middle East to the weak position of the Assad regime to new strategies by Hezbollah and Hamas to Iraq’s growing economic power — in contrast to Iran’s problems with oil exports.

    In short, cheerleading for the US is bad analysis and bad politics. So is cheerleading for the Islamic Republic.

  103. Pirouz says:

    All I can say is thank goodness there’s one person on the panel –Hillary–who hasn’t drunk the kool-aid.

    Trita: the most intellectually compromised (non-American) Iranian in our country the United States.

    Alireza: a worst case victim of group-think if ever there was.

  104. Cyrus says:

    Iran policy and conventional wisdom in the US is basically the result of “leading by ideology” and wishful thinking substituting for sober consideration of facts.

  105. Neil M says:

    America’s elites embrace many erroneous mythologies among which their Iran myths pale into insignificance. The myths that America is a military and economic superpower and a stalwart defender of international law, freedom, democracy, self-determination and human rights, are patently untrue and foolishly counter-productive. For example, several years on from the GFC it is noteworthy that despite the criminality and regulatory neglect which paved the way for the melt-down, no-one has been punished or held accountable.

    The myths are really just Officialdom’s attempt to deflect attention from the fact that the 99% and their once-delightful country, USA, have been over-plundered by the elites and is now on the verge of bankruptcy – both fiscal and moral.

    The Iran myths serve to bolster the illusion that most of the hi-profile targets of US military aggression were something other than weak (or weakened) 2nd and 3rd rate military nonentities lacking the ability to retaliate effectively against significant US ‘assets’ and the continental USA. Iran (with help from allies) can do both so it’s only a matter of time until the Iran myths become untenable and the search for a less unconvincing Phantom Menace begins anew.

  106. Don Bacon says:

    Excellent, and so obviously true (when well stated as you do) that it’s amazing that more don’t get it.