We're posting new material at GoingToTehran.com. Please join us there.

The Race for Iran


In the run-up to this weekend’s P5+1 “negotiations” with the Islamic Republic, two of America’s leading newspapers published stories reflecting deep-seated myths about the Islamic Republic rather than reporting on real facts. 

First, Farnaz Fassihi of The Wall Street Journal “reported”, see here, on the perennial myth that internal divisions had “seeped” into the nuclear file and could derail any talks with Iran.  She then asserts that “Iran suspended the talks in 2009 after massive demonstrations against the government for alleged voter fraud in the presidential elections.”  This is blatantly misleading

–Fassihi was in Iran in 2009; she must know that there were no talks going on at the time of the Islamic Republic’s presidential contest in June of that year, so there was nothing to suspend.  The United States had deliberately delayed going into negotiations so as not to give incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a “boost” before the election. 

–She must also know that, after talks finally got going after the election, it was the P5+1 that suspended them in January 2010 because Tehran would not accede to its demands

But Fassihi does not let her disregard for simple facts stop there.  According to her, “many ordinary Iranians” say “that ‘Mr. Khamenei should drink the jar of poison and compromise with the West.’”  This is also highly misleading: at best, Fassihi is taking what a few people might have told her over the phone and presenting it as if it were the result of a scientific poll. 

Since Fassihi does not report from the Islamic Republic, there is no way that she could know whether “many ordinary Iranians” liken the situation today with the West over their nuclear program to the time when Khomenei decided to accept a cease-fire ending the Iran-Iraq War—after 300,000 Iranians had been killed, the United States had shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, and the Islamic Republic had won back all its territory.   

–As we have discussed here in many posts, polls and other indicators show that most Iranians strongly oppose what they would consider surrendering their nuclear program–something that Fassihi completely neglects to tell her readers

Second, we were struck by the crude attempt to analyze Ayatollah Khamenei’s statements about nuclear weapons and the Iranian nuclear program by James Risen of The New York Times, see here.  Risen starts off well enough, noting that “C.I.A. analysts studying the geopolitical gamesmanship now at play over Iran’s nuclear program have expensive and highly classified tools at their disposal, but one of their best sources is free and readily available:  the public utterances of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”  We ourselves have frequently commented on how rich and important Ayatollah Khamenei’s statements on these subjects are. 

But then, Risen indulges the unsubstantiated boilerplate that constitutes so much of America’s conventional wisdom about the Islamic Republic:  “Like much of the information about Iran’s secretive and enigmatic government, Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks are sometimes contradictory, and always subject to widely different interpretations.” 

Risen notes that, in February, Khamenei said, “Iran is not seeking to have the atomic bomb, possession of which is pointless, dangerous and is a great sin from an intellectual and a religious point of view.”  He duly reports that, in March, Khamenei said, “We do not possess a nuclear weapon, and we will not build one.”  He further recounts that “Ayatollah Khamenei has also issued a fatwa, an Islamic edict, against the acquisition of a nuclear bomb by Iran.” 

OK, so what’s the problem?  According to Risen, “those comments are…at odds with some of Iran’s behavior.”  Although Risen never tells us what that behavior might be, the context would lead an educated reader to conclude that this behavior must be an actual Iranian effort to build nuclear weapons. That is flat out unsubstantiated innuendo.  There is no evidence—from the IAEA, from U.S. intelligence agencies, or from anywhere else—that the Islamic Republic is trying to or has even taken a decision to try to build nuclear weapons. 

In addition, Risen asserts that Ayatollah Khamenei’s condemnation of nuclear weapons as a violation of Islam are “at odds” with what he “has said in the past.”  Risen’s one example of such a contradictory statement?  Remarks that

Khamenei made last year that it was a mistake for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya to give up his nuclear weapons program.  Referring to Col. Qaddafi, Ayatollah Khamenei said that “this gentleman wrapped up all his nuclear facilities, packed them on a ship and delivered them to the West and said, ‘Take them!’…Look where we are and in what position they are now,” he added. 

At no point in the passage quoted by Risen, or anywhere else in the address from which it is extracted, does Ayatollah Khamenei say, as Risen characterizes it, that “it was a mistake for [Qaddafi] to give up his nuclear weapons program.”  Rather, Khamenei points out what happened after Qaddafi surrendered “all his nuclear facilities” and trusted his government’s security to the United States

–As far as we can tell, Khamenei’s point is entirely accurateIt helps explain why he and other Iranian leaders are determined not to surrender the Islamic Republic’s civil nuclear program—because, if they did, it would mean the end of the Islamic Republic’s strategic independence

–This in no way contradicts Khamenei’s multiple statements that the Islamic Republic does not want nuclear weapons, not least because they are haraam—forbidden by God. 

But the worst part of Risen’s article comes when he resorts to blatantly false stereotypes about Shi’a Islam:  “Complicating matters further, some analysts”—he names not a single one—“say that Ayatollah Khamenei’s denial of Iranian nuclear ambitions has to be seen as part of a Shiite historical concept called taqiyya, or religious dissembling.”  While Risen does not embrace this utter misreading of taqiyya as his own, his uncritical presentation of it circulates, in The New York Times, a bigoted misreading of Shi’a doctrine as justifying lying

Taqiyya is a religious teaching, rooted in the Qur’an, which instructs Muslims (under specific conditions) that they may disguise their religious identity to save themselves and other believers.  It has parallels in other Abrahamic traditions.  Consider, for example, the following passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional…Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication…No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. 

 Taqiyya is not a license for hypocrisy; it neither condones lying nor relieves Muslims of the obligation to live up to their commitments, in contracts, treaties, or otherwise.  It certainly does not justify a religious leader lying to his fellow Muslims about matters on which he is offering moral guidance and instruction—which is what one has to think in order to argue that Ayatollah Khamenei’s multiple statements over several years about the immorality of nuclear weapons are an exercise in taqiyyaIt is truly bizarre that Risen and The New York Times cited “analysts” anonymously in order to make such a loaded and factually inaccurate point

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett



  1. This was very informative. I have been reading your blog alot over the past few days and it has earned a place in my bookmarks.

  2. James Canning says:


    You should read Pat Buchanan’s comments about how unhappy Netanyahu was, after the Istanbul meeting with Iran. Takimag.com ( I posted the link). Buchanan is a conservative Republican who dislikes Netanyahu, and Aipac.

  3. James Canning says:


    Imagine having Mitt Romney in the White House. Romney virutally pledges to have his old friend Bibi Netanyahu make the calls on American policy in the Middle East.

  4. James Canning says:


    Yes, I see that we agree, that Israel is foolishly failing to blend into its neighborhood.

  5. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Fars News 14:48 | 2012-04-17(Associated with the Revolutionary Guards):

    DM: Production of Iranian S-300 Missile System in “Good Progress”

    TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that Iran has achieved good results in developing and producing the Iranian version of the sophisticated Russian S-300 air defense missile system.

    “The production of an alternative (air defense) missile system for S-300 is underway and parts of the work have been done and yielded good results so far,” Vahidi told reporters on the sidelines of military parades staged on the occasion of the National Army Day here in Tehran on Tuesday.

    Vahidi added that relevant information about the latest developments in the production of the sophisticated missile system will be announced this Iranian year (started on March 20).


    This is a game changer. Two years from now, the entirety of Iran’s airspace will be covered. Two years after that, the next generation (S-4XX) will replace the S-373, which will be sold on the cheap to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and possibly Egypt and Jordan by then.

  6. Jay says:

    With regards to issues of transparency by the west, and the UK in particular, as well as the statements of Ms. Ashton, a look at the recently released national archives is instructive.

    Transparency is a carefully crafted illusion! A brief reading of a few entries makes clear a practice of duplicity throughout. You can read an overview and a find the links at:


  7. Empty says:

    James Canning,

    RE: Isn’t the problem just the opposite? That Israel is not blending into its neighborhood, by foolish pursuit of “Greater Israel” programme?

    I think your statement is the gist of the allegory I used (and not the opposite of it).

  8. Karl says:

    *was given NO freebies.

  9. Karl says:

    Like we all knew, US gets its assignments on what to do on Iran by Israel.

    U.S. official says Netanyahu was fully briefed on Iran talks

    Thats why we saw Obama threatening with more sanctions on Iran and said Iran was given to “freebies” just one day after the talks, just to appease this despicable warmonger in tel aviv.

  10. Arnold Evans says:


    Hassan Nasrallah appeared on Jullian Assange’s Russian talk show “The World Tomorrow” and the first question was “what is your goal”. The answer is that Nasrallah does not want to kill anyone, does not want to treat anyone unjustly, but wants one democratic state.

    Time 1:25 – 3:20

    What is your vision for the future of Israel and Palestine? What would Hezbollah consider victory? If you had that victory, would you disarm?

    The state of Israel is an illegal state. It is a state that was established on the basis of occupying the lands of others, of usurping the lands of others, of controlling by force the lands of others, of committing massacres against the Palestinians who were expelled and this includes Muslims and Christians too.

    So, for this reason, justice remains on the side, where even if ten years pass, the passage of time does not negate justice. If it is your house and I go occupy it by force it doesn’t become mine in 50 or 100 years just because I’m stronger than you and I’ve come occupy your house. That doesn’t legalize my ownership of your house. At least this is our ideological view and legal view and we believe that Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people.

    But if we wanted to combine ideology and law and political reality and religions on the ground we should say that the only solution is we don’t want to kill anyone, we don’t want to treat anyone unjustly. We want justice to be restored to them and the only solution is the establishment of one state, one state on the land of Palestine in which the Muslims and the Jews and the Christians live in peace.

    Any other solution would simply not be viable and wouldn’t be sustained.

    One of the bases on which US imperialism in the Middle East depends is that Muslims are not able to speak for themselves. Assange allowing Nasrallah to answer this question and others himself translated into English is may well be a more important and damaging blow to the US Middle East imperial project than all of the previous wikileaks releases.

  11. Photi says:

    I have just re-read Pat Buchanan’s article, and am unsure what to think of his conclusion:

    “No wonder Bibi is frustrated. If there is no U.S. attack on Iran by November, and Obama wins, there may never be a U.S. attack on Iran.

    Israel cannot do to Iran what Bibi wants done to Iran. Only Obama can.

    But how does Bibi get Obama to do it, before November?”

    Pat Buchanan has told Netanyahu that if Netnanyahu is to have his war, he should do it before the elections in November. Is Buchanan merely ‘telling it like it is’, or is he goading the Prime Minister? Anyone have any thoughts?


  12. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    James Canning says:
    April 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Now you are being evasive. Your whole argument to date has been that if Iran would only stop enriching to 20% than that would solve the problem (or lead West to drop sanctions). You have now changed your position and admit that sanctions would continue regardless.

  13. Photi says:

    James Canning says:
    April 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm
    Pat Buchanan writes about Bibi Netanyahu’s unhappiness Catherine Ashton seems to support Iranian enrichment.

    “BiBi’s Dilemma – – and Barack’s”:


    James, that was a very interesting article, thanks. Pat Buchanan did what i thought was a bang-up job on the state of the current situation. He wrote in plain English (in a good way) without all the ‘we love israel’ jargon that blinds too many analysts in the US.

  14. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Arnold Evans says:
    April 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Very nice.

    And James is wrong (I almost want to say as usual). The reason those two British clowns wanted to have a strong empire was to be able to enforce their way of life on the world. That is precisely the *function* of Israel, as the spearhead of Western imperialism in the ME (just as “Rhodesia” and South America acted as that spearhead in Africa). As such, the expenditure of blood and treasure is not only worth it, from their perspective, its the primary reason for having blood and treasure on hand to expend.

  15. kooshy says:

    James Canning says:
    April 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    “I have said all along that Iran almost certainly will be obliged to stop enriching to 20 percent. I am not surprised that some diplomats connected to the negotiations would say this is not enough.”


    Now that you have agreed that Iran has the right to enrich and stockpiling of U20% let see if we can get our negations a little further to a possible settlement. You mentioned although Iran has the right to enrich to 20% but would want to see if Iran will rescind from her rights and stop enriching to that level. What if Iran agrees with one condition, that is, since you ( representing west) mention that you are concerned for the security of Israel, Iran in return, for her security concerns ask you to remove all yours and allied NATO forces from the Persian gulf could you agree to that in lieu of Iran stopping its enrichment of 20%U. If not, why? Isn’t it this concern for security in exchange for the same concern on other side’s security with equal trust and verifications?

    Please if you care to reply, reply in detail not the usual one liner.

  16. James Canning says:


    Pat Buchanan thinks the Iranian negotiators did well. And we know Netanyahu is not happy with the way things went in Istanbul.

  17. James Canning says:


    I agree with you that Iranian negotiators see that demanding an end to all sanctions would be counter-productive. I personally favor lifting some sanctions if Iran stops enriching to 20 percent. I recognise this would be politically difficult for Obama.

  18. James Canning says:


    I think I have been clear that in my own view, the US has made many mistakes in its approach to the Iranian question.

    I also think that as a realistic assessment of the situation, Obama would be stretched (to say the least) to accept Iranian enrichment to 5%. This is the political reality that obtains.

  19. Karl says:


    If there is “obligations” one cannot speak of a dialogue. I mean, Iran could demand US end their sanctions. Could they do that? Of course not, so why do you support the obligations by the US? Why is it that you think that some parties have the right to do certain things?

  20. James Canning says:


    I was responding to a comment by Expose, that seemed to call for reiteration.

  21. James Canning says:


    Iran is negotiating with the six parties (P5+1). Their point of view. Catherine Ashton seems to support Iranain enrichment to 5%.

  22. James Canning says:

    Pat Buchanan writes about Bibi Netanyahu’s unhappiness Catherine Ashton seems to support Iranian enrichment.

    “BiBi’s Dilemma – – and Barack’s”:


  23. Karl says:


    “I have said all along that Iran almost certainly will be obliged to stop enriching to 20 percent”

    Obligation according to whom and on what legitimacy?

  24. ToivoS says:

    James-20%-Canning says:

    “I have said all along that Iran almost certainly will be obliged to stop enriching to 20 percent.”

    Oh really. You should repeat this, no one could possible know.

  25. James Canning says:


    What complaint to I have regarding Iran’s enriching to 20 percent? I think you must be referring to my belief that if Iran continues to stockpile 20 percent uranium, it will be attacked. Which is an event I would deeply regret.

  26. James Canning says:


    I have said all along that Iran almost certainly will be obliged to stop enriching to 20 percent. I am not surprised that some diplomats connected to the negotiations would say this is not enough.

  27. Rd. says:

    The budget deficit must be impacting the CIA ops!!!

    “The US Secret Service, which has sent the men back to the United States, is investigating claims they brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms in Cartagena late Wednesday and had a dispute over payment with one of the women. “

    ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:


  28. Castellio says:

    Thinking about US decline from another perspective. A well researched and considered article…


  29. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    James Canning says:
    April 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    So you are retreating from your previous assertion that the sanctions are all about enriching to 20% and that the sanctions issue can be solved by this one action?

  30. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Eric A. Brill says:
    April 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    The decline of empire…US cannot even get an organization that was formerly its puppet to release a final statement, and every other country in it openly opposes the US position.


  31. kooshy says:


    I think this link is more direct to Kyhan’s editorial page you are referring to.


  32. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:

    I agree Iran has the right to enrich to 20 percent. I have never suggested otherwise.

    James, you might want to read this article by Mr. Shariatmadari. It might help you to gain at least a %20 appreciation of the fallacy of your %20 complaint.


  33. Rd. says:

    Empty says:

    When a foreign organ is transplanted into a body, it must meet certain (protein/antigen) requirements that is a good match for the body. Only a global مستکبر (arrogance) would conceive of something like this and would actually think that it’d work.

    The term chronic rejection initially described long-term loss of function in transplanted organs . Chronic rejection explains long-term morbidity.

    “c) Presently, one can observe very many and very clear signs prevailing in the West as regards Iran’s unprecedented strength and authoritative position in the region. Of course one can hear acknowledgements too in this regard. At the same time it has to be noted that America and its allies including the Zionist entity of Israel are passing through the most weakest duration of their lives.

    Debt of 5+1
      By: Husain Shariatmadari


  34. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Egypt rejects the appeals of the 10 barred presidential candidates:


    I wonder whether the Brotherhood will call for protests and a boycott or stick with their weaker candidate who was approved.

  35. kooshy says:

    James Canning says:

    April 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    “I agree Iran has the right to enrich to 20 percent. I have never suggested otherwise.”

    Gav- thank you, since you agree that Iran according to the NPT protocols has the right to enrich to 20%, you should stop any further complain on why Iran is enriching to 20% and if she is increasing or decreasing her production to this level of enrichment, don’t you agree?

  36. James Canning says:


    Isn’t the problem just the opposite? That Israel is not blending into its neighborhood, by foolish pursuit of “Greater Israel” programme?

  37. Empty says:

    When a foreign organ is transplanted into a body, it must meet certain (protein/antigen) requirements that is a good match for the body. With the imperial transplant under discussion here, they have been trying for more than half a century to change the body’s protein to match that of the transplanted organ. Only a global مستکبر (arrogance) would conceive of something like this and would actually think that it’d work.

  38. James Canning says:


    Of course Israel and the US are seen as the primary threats. A great deal of truth in that. But US actions are the opposite of British imperialism, and weaken the US steadily so Israel can continue its insane Greater Israel programme.

  39. James Canning says:


    FT report today said “sufficient” to get P5+1 to cut back sanctions.

  40. James Canning says:


    You said Israel must give up the West Bank. I of course agree.

  41. Arnold Evans says:

    James Canning says:
    April 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    The Financial Times today reports the Iranian rial is up, as is the Tehran stock market. And that Iran’s ceasing enrichment to 20 percent likely will not be sufficient.

    “Sufficient” for what?

    James Canning says:
    April 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm


    You actually think a “republic” of Saudi Arabia would try to coerce Israel into accepting the immigration of millions of descendants of the Palestinians driven out of Israel?

    Whatever the people of Arabia would vote for would be fine with me. It seems as this board’s resident imperialism sympathizer, you disagree.

    As for what I think the people of Arabia would vote for, we have a poll:


    – Contrary to mainstream global media coverage, 73 per cent of those polled see Israel and the US as the two most threatening countries. Five per cent see Iran as the most threatening, a percentage that varies between countries and regions.

    – A high 84 per cent believe the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs and not the Palestinians only.

    – A high 84 per cent reject the notion of their state’s recognition of Israel and only 21 per cent support, to a certain degree, the peace agreement signed between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO with Israel. Less than a third agree with their government’s foreign policy.

    Egypt’s Parliament unanimously (not only explicit Islamists) unanimously voted for a statement that Israel is their country’s number one enemy.


    The Monday vote was taken by a show of hands on a report by the chamber’s Arab affairs committee that declared that Egypt will “never” be a friend, partner or ally of Israel. The report described the Jewish state as the nation’s “number one enemy.”

    I’d expect such a statement to also pass the parliament of a post-colonial Republic of Arabia and I’d expect a representative government’s policies to reflect that sentiment much more closely than the pro-Zionist colonial stooge dictatorship currently in place.

    Israel needs a US empire to prevent people with these beliefs from gaining control of their country’s foreign policy.

    James, you’ve for a long time now struck me as very sympathetic of the kind of imperialism Israel needs to remain viable.

  42. James Canning says:


    If Obama did not say he would ensure Israel could meet any threat, he would be removed from the White House later this year.

  43. James Canning says:


    I agree it is quite possible the P5+1 will accept Iranian enrichment to 5%. I have said this many times. And it would mark a retreat by the US on that point. A much-needed retreat.

  44. Castellio says:

    Arnold Evans says:
    April 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    That’s accurate and succinct. Sets a floor, I would hope, for the discussion.

  45. James Canning says:


    Financial Times page 6 today (“Markets in Iran show gains after nuclear talks”): “It is far from clear whether a pledge to halt all future uranium enrichment at 20 per cent would, by itself, convince the international community to cut back sanctions.”

  46. James Canning says:


    I agree Iran has the right to enrich to 20 percent. I have never suggested otherwise.

  47. James Canning says:


    Cecil Rhodes and Winston Churchill sought to strengthn and enrich the British Empire. Foolish American “support” for Israel erodes the strength of the US. In other words, US policy is the opposite of the imperialism favored by Rhodes and Churchill.

  48. kooshy says:

    Has everyone noticed that Gav’s new line has switched to a threatening warning of sinking Iran’s Navy and Air Force?

    Gav- with all due respect as I wrote yesterday this western dilemma is now hanging all on you, if you just admit (in a written comment here on RFI) that under NPT Iran has the right to enrich to 20%U, you can be the saver of Iran’s navy and Air force, do you really think UK, US or KSA are willing to “start” a hard war with Iran, in Iran’s region.

  49. James Canning says:


    You actually think a “republic” of Saudi Arabia would try to coerce Israel into accepting the immigration of millions of descendants of the Palestinians driven out of Israel?

  50. James Canning says:


    FYI has said Iran will remain independent strategically even if its navy is sunk, air force destroyed, etc. I agree with him. But Iran clearly can avoid this while maintaining strategic independence.

  51. James Canning says:

    The Financial Times today reports the Iranian rial is up, as is the Tehran stock market. And that Iran’s ceasing enrichment to 20 percent likely will not be sufficient.

  52. BiBiJon says:

    fyi says:
    April 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

    “You missed the role of Iran – she stated that she is ready and willing to go to war.”

    You’re right I think. The fact that Iran wouldn’t go down in the first few rounds is the primary catalyst for everything else that has transpired.

  53. Empty says:


    To add to yours and fyi’s list of critical factors, I would add: 1)the ambitiousness of the Syria project as it was designed; 2) the uncertainty re; the fragmentation of Saudi kingdom soon after the king’s soul has flown away (and the fact that each fragment is making threats to go to completely different directions); 3) an utterly miserable failure of all nations to come up with a viable alternative to fossil fuel (it is just pathetic)….

  54. Empty says:


    I think the day Iran successfully landed the US drone, the ongoing war shifted to a cyber war with full force. I think fyi’s reference to Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech is correct in that it was the public and official pronouncement of that shift. As you know, I have argued that the US has already been in a war with Iran. There has been ebbs and flows and it has just taken different shapes across different period. But I am also of the opinion that an all-out land and air attack against Iran (the conventional way) was made null and void in 2003 for the next few decades. No amount of “success” in negotiation is going to prevent the US Inc. from engaging in cyber warfare in all civilian and military infrastructure of Iran. There, I think, is where the US Inc. themselves are the most vulnerable, too.

  55. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, I just read the Kwasi Kwarteng’s op-ed.

    The problem is that Israel is either not viable or just barely viable, not comfortably viable without a US empire in the region, and the US is committed to Israel being comfortably viable.

    So the US is committed to an empire.

    Saudi Arabia spends 2.5x what Israels spends on its military. If the voters of that country, who by a huge consensus consider Israel their primary adversary more than Iran, controlled policy then a Republic of Arabia would be militarily dominant over Israel and Israel would not be able to deny Palestinian demands either for a full state (with an army) in all of the West Bank or for repatriation of descendents of the refugees.

    Relatedly, what exactly is the dispute between the US and Iran based on? Why is it that Iran cannot have the nuclear capabilities Brazil can have? Without empire, the US can’t prevent Iran from reaching a position, even without any Republic of Arabia, from which it could aid the Palestinians in forcing a resolution to the dispute over Zionism that is unacceptable to supporters of Israel.

    And of course, maybe most importantly, we are seeing now the US’ efforts to ensure that the voters of Egypt remain unable to direct Egypt’s foreign policy. Again empire, again Israel cannot prevent the Palestinians of Gaza from developing into a genuine strategic threat to Zionism without the US overruling the voters of Egypt.

    At least in the Middle East, the idea of the US as a reluctant, half-hearted or almost-voluntarily-declining empire is wrong. When Barack Obama says the US will do whatever it takes to ensure that Israel can overwhelm any potential threat, he is making as full throated and enthusiastic and endorsement of imperialism as Cecil Rhodes or Winston Churchill ever did.

  56. kooshy says:

    Cyrus says:
    April 17, 2012 at 1:47 am


    Regarding NPT as the frame work for any future negotiations, here is what Kaveh Afrassiabi wrote on his excellent article in AT published yesterday

    “He also indicated support for a uranium swap for the Tehran medical reactor, while rejecting the Western demand to shut down the uranium enrichment facility at Fordow and to suspend 20% enrichment activities, as anticipated by this author.”

    “The mere agreement by Western governments to adopt NPT standards as the framework for the discussions has been hailed in Iran as a major victory, since there is no legal bar to Iran’s possession of a nuclear fuel cycle and, inevitably, this represents a US retreat from the previous “red line” of not tolerating any centrifuges spinning in Iran; that arbitrary line has now been replaced with a more realistic approach that is focused on objective guarantees that Iran is not engaged in proliferation activities”

    As I mentioned, it seems that majority of Iranian officials are under impression that the all articles of NPT treaty will be “the” bases for any future negotiation on Iran’s nuclear negotiations with W4 +B2. As per my cynical option, if a mere reference to NPT was just a tactical move by the west, I don’t see that the negations can be continued beyond Baghdad, and I suspect this time around there will a long period before any new negotiations become possible. There will be a strong possibility of major split in current so called P5+1.


  57. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: April 17, 2012 at 9:37 am

    The first sign would be exchange trips at the Foreign Minister level.

    That will not happen anytime soon; this is just cease-fire.

    Per Mr. Khameneie’s remarks, the inefficacy of the sanctions must be demonstrated to Axis Powers first.

    We are a few years from there.

    Make no mistake; the Axis Powers have aimed to destroy the Islamic Republic through Economic Siege Warfare.

    We are approachingh an Armistice; Peace is still years ahead.

    It will not happen under Mr. Obama.

  58. kooshy says:

    Eric A. Brill says:
    April 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Eric- indeed very Interesting op-ed by KWASI KWARTENG who is a member of British Parliament

    “Kwasi Kwarteng, a Conservative member of the British Parliament, is the author of “Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World.”

  59. Photi says:

    Photi says:
    April 17, 2012 at 9:15 am
    M. Ali says:
    April 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Actually M. Ali, you might want to check out the following comments by Annie Robbins at Mondoweiss. I had forgotten how i had gotten on the Hasbara Handbook last night, and it was directly because of her comments on this same issue. Anyway, she goes into the construct of this propaganda technique of equivalencies that has led Israel to declare Iran is the threat to world peace. I just quoted a snippet, i recommend reading the comments in their entirety.

    “is that all? why stop there? shouldn’t we take this further and look at the equivalence of Iran wiping israel off map? doesn’t that imply the samson option would be implemented? why not just say iran has threatened to blow up the world because that would be the implication? wouldn’t it. every man woman and child, the end of humanity. that’s really iran’s goal isn’t it? or their actual words were the equivalent. so why go for the words when we can take them to their logical conclusion as you have demonstrated so logically?”


    and see this follow up comment of hers of how much fun can be had with false equivalencies:


  60. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: April 17, 2012 at 8:33 am

    You missed the role of Iran – she stated that she is ready and willing to go to war.

  61. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/opinion/echoes-of-the-end-of-the-raj.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

    Interesting op-ed by a member of Ghana’s parliament, analogizing America’s decline as a world power to the end of the British Empire after World War II.

    Other writers –– for example, Barbara Tuchman in The Proud Tower and Paul Kennedy in The Rise and Fall of Great Powers –– show readers how to spot imperial decline much earlier in the process. But, after all, this is merely a brief op-ed. If he states the obvious and the superficial to a great extent, he nonetheless states it well.

  62. BiBiJon says:

    fyi says:
    April 17, 2012 at 9:29 am

    If and when the ‘axis powers’ accept the reality of Iran, what would be the first signs?

  63. fyi says:

    ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says: April 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    The Concert of Vienna is a fine idea if its lessons could be applied to the Middle East.

    Unfortunately, no one is ready for that approach; not the Americans, not the Saudis, and certainly not the Israelis.

    For the Axis Powers and their local allies, the Concert of the Middle East means acceptance of the position of Iran as an enhanced global power (more so than Brazil or South Africa).

    For Israelis, they have to give up the West Bank – they rather die first, it seems.

    And so it goes with other state actors.

    Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon would benefit and so would Palestinians.

  64. Photi says:

    M. Ali says:
    April 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

    M. Ali, as you can see below, for an Israeli in genuine debate, it is okay to admit that mistakes have been made by Israel, factual errors even, and this is what Meridor was doing. Straight out of the handbook. What he didn’t think about when he admitted this however is that he and his compatriots are using this factual error to scaremonger the world into WWIII. But it is in the handbook, so no worries.

    “Traditional approaches to Israel advocacy have often assumed that all talk about Israel shouldconsist of short sound bites and point scoring. This approach can backfire when used on people who are analysing arguments and trying to think deeply, and who really just wantsomebody to present arguments rationally to them.

    When To Debate

    Genuine debate is appropriate in forums where people are really attempting to think about theMiddle East situation constructively, to consider the issues, and to communicate in an attemptto understand things better.

    Genuine debate is fundamentally different to point scoring. In a forum where listeners are mature and interested in the issues, it is appropriate to engage in genuine debate by responding to questions honestly, admitting that things in Israel aren’t always perfect, and perhaps even by criticising certain policies as errant. Because the audience or person engaged in dialogue is interested more in content than presentation, in genuine debate it is possible to admit to not knowing answers, being unclear on facts, and so on.”


  65. Empty says:

    One of the problems with cancer cells (physiologically speaking) is that they are never satisfied with the amount of blood supply they get. They actively pursue to cut off (absolutely) any blood (however minute) going to any other cells around them. They have (metaphorically speaking) no sense of balance or fairness. No matter how well supplied they might be, they must absolutely penetrate into all other areas that exist and push to create hypoxia (and choke the cells they consider “other”).

    Speaking of which…..good for the Leveretts removing specific SPAMS (that are meant to create hypoxia).

  66. M. Ali says:

    Kinda of interesting to see how pathetically the Israeli government tries to debate with reason:


    “Dan Meridor: We misquoted Ahmadinejad

    We analyse the words and issues central to the dispute between Iran and Israel with Israel’s deputy prime minister.”

  67. BiBiJon says:

    What Probably Happened

    Iran’s nuclear saga has come to a close. After all these years huge amounts of skepticism is understandable, but just for the fun of it, see it this way:

    China and India started to feel very (energy) insecure, and convinced the rest of the BRICS to demand de-escalation with one voice on March 29th. ,http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3258368.ece

    China went a step further. Authorizing Wang Jisi to channel China’s disquiet with American escalation in the mid east and ‘pivot’ to contain China, signaled an end to Chinese passivity to US’ moves, including the situation with Iran.

    Russia too had seen the limits of oil-price-induced hilarity all the way to the bank. The West-Iran tensions were having unacceptable impact on west-Russia tensions over missile defense, and Syria. The situation was getting past the manageable/profitable zone and beginning to look as if it could get out of hand in an ‘Israeli minute.’

    Strangely enough, it was the Republican presidential candidates’ rhetoric that convinced the BRICS to warn Obama that he either settles the matter with Iran or face humiliating defiance from the BRICS on any further escalation of tensions with Iran handing him certain defeat in November. For the BRICS, the risk of one of the fire-breathing republicans getting into office with the Iran issue still unresolved was simply way too much risk.

    Netanyahu’s big mouth finally convinced Obama that he has to choose between the ulimata from the BRICS, or those coming out of Israel and her supporters. Fortunately, American self-interest was glaringly more aligned with the BRICS than with the pipsqueak, and besides there were personal scores to settle with Bibi.

    The rest is a show; the script has been written and approved: Iran shall allow US to save face and US shall de-escalate, and Netanyahu shall continue to pee against the wind till his bladder content.

  68. Karl says:

    Julian Assange show starts Tuesday, guest kept secret

    Apparently the first guess is so controversial that it will result in calls for ending the program altogether.

  69. Cyrus says:

    Kooshy — the Ashton statement says that the NPT will be “a” basis, not “the” basis of the negotiations. This negotiation is more of the same, except dragged out a bit longer.

  70. Pirouz says:

    Clinton says U.S. will keep sanctions on Iran

    Hopefully this sort of posturing is intended for our domestic audience, in the face of Israeli and congressional protestations.

    Here in northern California, since Iranian counter-sanctions began being threatened and implemented, the price of fuel shot up by nearly 80 cents a gallon. Right now, prices are still 40 cents more than they were, but the news of potential compromise in the nuclear standoff hold the promise they could go down further.

    Many Western narratives maintain these talks are crucial for Iran, but I sometimes wonder if the potential stakes for Obama’s reelection are even higher. Personally, I believe the Iranians are fully prepared to maintain their Churchillian stance, regardless.

  71. Rehmat says:

    British member of House of Lord, Lord Nazir Ahmed, 53, is hounded by Israel Hasbara (propaganda) dogs for saying that Israel-Firsters Tony Blair and George Bush should be tried in international court of justice as war criminals.


  72. BiBiJon says:

    James, Sas san, and assorted holdouts

    Guys, it is over. Sorry if it has to be me who tells you the news. It has been decided. It’ll be settled within the framework of NPT, so says P5+1+Iran.

    End of nuclear saga. To those who think it is a complete Western capitulation to Iran’s position since day 1, you are wrong. The west cannot capitulate in the face of a pretext entirely of her own concoction.

  73. kooshy says:

    James Canning says:
    April 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    “Wouldn’t Iran be even stronger regionally, if it had not re-commenced enriching uranium?”


    Last time I spoke with Mr. Jalili, he told me to let you know if you agree and mention your full agreement in a written RFI comment that Iran has a right under NPT to enrich to 20% he will consider full stoppage of Iran’s enrichment program and send all Iran’s centrifuges and nuclear program to Tennessee, he may even consider Birmingham if SL can find room for it. How’s that can we have an agreement and put this dilemma of yours to rest.

  74. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    James Canning says:
    April 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Questionable. As I have stated, the sanctions have constantly encouraged Iran to develop its own industry, and to increase its economic independence which would not have occurred otherwise. The second point is that the sanctions would have been implemented for some other reason if it was not enriching uranium. If not for enriching uranium, than for supporting Hezbollah. If not for that, than for supporting the Palestinian people. If not for that, than for nationalizing oil, etc, etc. As long as Iran demonstrates any degree of independence and puts the interests of its people ahead of the interests of Western imperialism, than the West will seek to weaken Iran through sanctions.

  75. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    James Canning says:
    April 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    You frequently refer to “neo cons” in your statements here while at the same time you promote one of their key ideologies, namely, that independent sovereign states should have their policy dictated to them by Western powers. Do you see the contradiction inherent in your arguments?

  76. James Canning says:


    Iran richer and stronger today, if it had not re-commenced enriching uranium, would hardly be more susceptible to pressure from arrogant powers. In fact, it would be less vulnerable. But there obviously is a huge issue of national pride.

  77. James Canning says:


    The liar warmongering neocons wanted to transform Iraq into a stable ally of ISRAEL. Not Saudi Arabia. ISRAEL.

  78. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    James Canning says:
    April 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    So your assertion here is that Iran should just surrender the rights of a sovereign state and allow its internal affairs to be run by Western imperialist powers. Do you understand why the Iranian people overwhelmingly reject such an idea since the actiosn of those powers caused them untold pain and suffering in the past?

  79. James Canning says:


    Wouldn’t Iran be even stronger regionally, if it had not re-commenced enriching uranium? This seems clearly to be the case. But I can understand the pride some take in “defying” arrogant powers, etc.

  80. kooshy says:

    Rd. says:
    April 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    My hopeful scenario was based on western countries realization that the batteries are running out, and yes, if this scenario becomes true, I believe Syrian’s suffering much like the Iraqi’s unfortunately had a significant rule with the new realities now becoming realized by the western policy planers.

    So here is a quick summary of major new western policies initiated in this last decade by the western alliance with regard to Iran’s region.

    Afghanistan war – 10 years result – a major defeat for US alliance and NATO
    Iraq war – 8 years results – US policy was defeated in making Iraq a KSA modeled colony and a regional ally.
    Iran nuclear file- 8 years results – Incapable of containing Iran to stop increasing her regional rule and influence.
    Israeli Palestinian conflicts – no significant change
    Syrian conflict – 1 year result so far no regime change on Libyan model is foreseen

    To this you can add Egypt, KSA, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and number of other smaller conflicts in the regional allies of the west
    Now on the economics of oil for the first time the west has made it possible for major oil importers to use none US/EU currency as well as insurance.

    If with all this shit in one’s pants, one can still claim that all is fine seating in a negation table, one must be utterly delusional.


  81. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Mohammad says:
    April 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Indeed, as I pointed out in my previous post, the inclusion of that right wing delusion illustrates the problem when the MSM ignores such things which are so obviously false and so easy to debunk in the early stages.

  82. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    kooshy says:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    And indeed from that point of view your argument is well taken. However when we reach the specifics Ignatius still seem to be operating from the delusion that the only way that result can be accomplished is if Iran capitulates to US demands. Although the article represents progess of a sort, continuing to take that attitude is unlikely to lead to positive results.

  83. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Time for the Leveretts to ask themselves what purpose continuing to allow the presence of the troll here serves.

  84. James Canning says:


    OUr friend S seems not to accept the fact Iran has indicated it will follow the lead of the Palestinians and accept Israel w/in “1967” borders, if the Pals do.

  85. Karl says:


    Yes, when israeli government officials dont even belive in this disinformaton anymore one also then knows that netanyahu deliberately spreading lies when he uses this claim in his warmongering speeches.

  86. Mohammad says:

    Those problematic statements in this article (esp. that absurd Taqiyya claim) in the NYTimes struck me as something which in the past would only be seen in extreme right-wing outlets like Washington Times, Weekly Standard and Pajamas Media. In the past, the NYTimes, while never unbiased on Iran, at least tried to look analytical and insightful and only relying on well-supported facts or credible-looking sources of information rather than such unsubstantiated claims. But this article looks like an important departure from that approach. I wonder if this is an isolated one or something has changed in the NYTimes.

  87. James Canning says:

    Spiegel.de today aquotes the German FM: “We expect that Iran be ready to sit down constructively at the table and to lead serious and target-oriented negotiations on all prending issues.”

  88. James Canning says:


    Bravo, Annie Robbins (at mondoweiss.net). Definitely, more attention needs to be given to the simple fact Iran has not threated “to wipe Israel off the map”. Or “wipe Israel out”. Etc.

  89. Rd. says:

    kooshy says:

    On a hopeful side the first scenario is that the west has come to understanding that Iran needs to be added to the regional security structure and without Iran they will not have a chance to stabilized the region. Since the consequence of its economic burden is becoming unbearable during elections both in Europe and US.

    A mistaken case for Syrian regime change by Aisling Byrne

    “A rereading of it, together with the more recent “Towards a Post-Assad Syria” [4] (which adopts the same language and perspective, but focuses on Syria, and was recently produced by two US neo-conservative think-tanks) illustrates how developments in Syria have been shaped according to the step-by-step approach detailed in the “Paths to Persia” report with the same key objective: regime change. “


    The trajectory of events in Syria, offers one more reason to elevate your hopeful scenario, as without regime change in Syria, they can’t even find their path to Persia, let alone regime change, coercion, etc..

    and on your cynical side, I can see the nay Sayers out there in the dark with their flash lights looking for that elusive path to Persia!!!! at least till their batteries run out..

  90. BiBiJon says:

    Legal advice, please


    Can a class action suit be filed against NY Times for the harm to job prospects, and impediment to equal justice in other scenarios which the Times’ frequent slander and bigotry aimed at Islam subject the Muslim-American claimants to.

    Would such a suit pass the ‘merit’ test to begin a much needed discourse in the courts?

  91. Karl says:

    Iran didn’t threaten to ‘wipe’ Israel out — Israel’s deputy prime minister


    Havent seen the interview but it seems to be good.

  92. kooshy says:

    ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:
    April 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Regardless of what K thinks or what Ignatius writes the point of article is that the MSM is now allowed to change its tune by saying that it’s necessary to include Iran (as an strategically independent nation state) in the security architecture of Middle East to stabilize the region (which is exactly what Leveretts have been saying all along), an admittance by western states after 32 years too long, when clearly all other ways they have tried has not worked so far.

    However I have own reason not to draw similarities between France in 1815 and Iran today, for one major difference is France was a defeated declining power due to continued long wars in the contrary today with all admittance Iran is an influential rising power in her region.

  93. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Hey, Sassan:

    You might be interested to read this article about a possible hero of yours:



  94. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    kooshy says:
    April 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Proof that David Ignatius is delusional.


    “About modern Iran, Kissinger has observed, the key requirement is that it behave like a nation rather than a cause, operating in a rules-based system of nations. Once this happens, Iran can be a force for regional stability, not disorder.”

    This is what Iran already does, unlike the US which believes it can wage aggressive war and destroy and impoverish entire nations. Hint: When did Iran invade and destroy Iraq? This illustrates the complete refusal to accept reality and complete blindness to their own hypocrisy that is so common in US pundit and foreign policy circles.

  95. kooshy says:

    What Kissinger can tell us about the Iran talks
    April 16, 2012 03:13 PM
    By David Ignatius

    The Daily Star

    Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2012/Apr-16/170230-what-kissinger-can-tell-us-about-the-iran-talks.ashx#ixzz1sEMxWRu3

    “Nobody can predict where the process of negotiation with Iran, which began Friday, is headed. But here’s what I’d like to see: a broad dialogue that brings the rising power of Iran into a new security system in the Middle East in exchange for Iran’s commitment not to build nuclear weapons. If you’re looking for a lucid explanation of how such a framework could be built, I recommend an unlikely source: It is Henry Kissinger’s doctoral dissertation, “A World Restored,” published in 1957. The book analyzed how the statesmen of early 19th-century Europe created a new security architecture that brought post-revolutionary France – the destabilizing, upstart power of its day – into an accommodation with Britain and the other status-quo powers through the 1815 Congress of Vienna.

    I heard Kissinger discuss these issues recently when he visited Harvard University for a conversation that filled the university’s largest auditorium. A graduate student, Jessica Blankshain, asked the former secretary of state about his thesis, written 55 years ago, and quoted his admonition that a statesman’s job is to harmonize the just with the possible. Later, at a dinner given by Harvard president Drew Faust, Kissinger talked about how the 1815 reconstruction of Europe might be a model for drawing Iran into a new and more stable Middle East.”

  96. BiBiJon says:

    Truancy at MIT?

    Notice how in MSM’s numerous articles quoting the Iranian foreign minister these past few days, but never mentioning Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi’s Ph.D. is from down the road here at MIT.

    I am not going to send my kids to MIT.

  97. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Race for Iran rule

    “Provocations designed to derail discussions away from substantive debate into dead-end arguments;”

    Violated by the Zionist in his last several posts.

  98. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    James Canning says:
    April 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    The Iranian representative has just clearly stated that Iran will reserve the right to enrich to 20% at any time in order to fuel the TRR. Thus making the sanctions, from your perspective, a failure. My reference to failure earlier was to the counterproductive nature of the sanctions and the way they have backfired on the West. For example, the West sanctions fuel imports to Iran, and Iran increases its own production, which saves it money and will allow it to export higher value products in the future. The current sanctions will allow Iran to increase its production of a variety of goods that it is capable of manufacturing but currently imports.

  99. James Canning says:

    I agree Fassihi surely is only too well aware the US delayed going into negotiations with Iran in order to avoid bolstering Ahmadinejad prior to the JUne 2009 election.

  100. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Time to ban the troll.

  101. k_w says:

    @Sassan: You wrote:

    “Bottom line: Israeli laws are not based on the Talmud. Iran’s perverse laws under these barbarians are based on Shariah law. Shariah law, laws in which homosexuals and adulterers are executed, women are still stoned, hands and feet are cut off, people are whipped, and 9 and 12 year old girls are forced in marriage (one without court permission and one with).”

    And yet, equal treatment of all Israeli citizens was deleted from the draft version of the Basic Law in 1994. There are still two different types of citizenships: ezrahut and leum, which gives them different sets of civil rights, rights of ownership and political rights. Why?

  102. James Canning says:

    I personally do not see Iran as “losing its strategic independence” even if it stopped all enrichment permanently. But the way forward clearly is to allow lower-level enrichment but stop the 20% because that is viewed as a potential nuclear weapons programme.

  103. James Canning says:


    Wouldn’t it be a good thing to view the sanctions as having “succeeded” if it enables a resolution of the dispute? Iran enriches to 5% or lower, but stops enriching to 20%.

  104. James Canning says:


    Report in Financial Times today had a diplomate from a European country involved in the talks saying Iran will have to be allowed to enrich to lower levels of purity.

    Iran probably will be required to stop enriching to 20%.

  105. James Canning says:

    My understanding is that Obama and his generals were not keen to attack Libya, and that David Cameron was instrumental in convincing Obama to back the Franco-British attack (that was brought about by public relations campaign in France led by Bernard-Henri Levi).

  106. James Canning says:

    Gaddafi got rid of his nuclear weapons programme, such as it was, in order to restore better relations with the west, enable improvements to the economy of Libya, and of course to avoid being attacked. His ultimate disaster was to fair extent of his own making, due to blunder after blunder when the uprising began in eastern Libya.

  107. James Canning says:

    Leader in today’s Financial Times: “Hard talks on Iran”. US and allies “need to get Iran to agree immediate measures that provide confidence that it cannot build a bomb.”

  108. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and prayers. I am sure they will help. I really didn’t mean to mention it. It was just my way of explaining my absence and probable future absence diminished level of participation. And it was not an acute illness so much as a lengthy chronic one, and I have definitely started to feel better over the last two or three weeks.

    And a special thanks to Fior-san for this paragraph:

    Religion — from re ligio, means to bind together. Religion binds a people and a culture together, supporting a community in times of joy as well as adversity. To deliberately seek to destroy the bonds of a culture and society is to seek to plunge the world back to a pre-civilized status.

    That is exactly right. And I knew of the etymological definition of religion (which is cognate with ligament, as you say), but had forgotten it. That is indeed the primary purpose of religion: to bind a community together, to allow them to achieve sacred consensus, as the larger that consensus, the lower the coercive need and therefore coercive nature of the state. And I will go further and say that a state which *has* no religion cannot properly be considered to be a nation or community, and is in fact a false simulacrum of one in which the apparent secular “freedoms” it affords its citizens are nothing more than guarantors of the deeper oppression of the state against the primordial theocentric-communitarian nature of its citizens.

  109. Jay says:

    On simulations and war estimate…

    The Iran War Estimate: Odds of Conflict Fall to 42%


  110. fyi says:


    On Spanish Economy:

    [I must say that I hope for the worst for Spain and others. God Willing…]


  111. kooshy says:

    Arnold Evans says:
    April 16, 2012 at 3:29 am


    According to both sides of the negotiations one thing that was agreed by all sides (road map) was any future negotiations on nuclear issues (Iran and others) will be framed solely on NPT agreement. This means if Baghdad’s negotiations are going to be continued Iran’s right to domestic enrichment will have to be recognized by nuclear states. It sounds that Iran has no problem with more intrusive inspections but at the same time

    All interviews by Iranian side that I have read so far (Jalili CNN, Euro news, Salahi ISNA) they continue to insist that the 20% is not on the table; they continue to say that based on Iran’s need for TRR they will stop and start 20% enrichment as needed for domestic use in Iran’s TRR. Salahi insisted based on NPT we will not resend from any of our NPT rights. According to some news sources other regional issues were also touched up on including Syria. Salahi told ISNA that in Istanbul both sides agreed on a step by step resolution of the conflicts where both sides will take steps simultaneously based on agreed steps by both sides. He indicates Iran’s resistance to bullying by the nuclear have states has made Iran an example for other countries to stand for their political independence and rights (probably for NAM, coming conference in Iran this summer, and Iran taking the leadership). Salhi also said that international security, and cooperation between Iran and EU is also on the agenda on coming negotiations.

    Based on my observations I can think of two scenarios on west’s sudden willingness to restart the negotiations based on Iran’s terms (insisting on NPT).

    On a hopeful side the first scenario is that the west has come to understanding that Iran needs to be added to the regional security structure and without Iran they will not have a chance to stabilized the region. Since the consequence of its economic burden is becoming unbearable during elections both in Europe and US.

    On the cynical side there is a possibility that due to US and Israel’s militaries refusal to “start” a new war with Iran, the political establishments in the west has decided to kick the can further while both the US’s and Europe’s are going through their elections. If so, that also I assume is acceptable for and by Iran since it gives Iran more chance to adjust for the new sanctions domestically.


  112. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    fyi says:
    April 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    It is clear that the US/EU want to believe their sanctions will be effective. That is why they have pursued the strategy they have. Iran has instead responded by lessening dependence on imports and increasing ties to other nations which has caused that strategy to fail. However, as usual with the US government, they much prefer to believe the vague and delusional MSM reports that claim (without evidence) that the sanctions are a “success” rather than confronting the reality of their failure.

  113. fyi says:

    ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says: April 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I do not think that you are correct.

    But we shall see.

    As is, the Americans and Europeans have the diplomatic path and their only other way is war with Iran.

    They have systematically removed/burnt/destroyed other options such as benign negletc, un-stated agreements etc.

  114. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    fyi says:
    April 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    The only problem with this is that all the available evidence points to the fact that the US does not want a diplomatic solution, but believes that it can use its sanctions to terrorize Iran into accepting its irrational demands.

  115. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Unknown Unknowns says:
    April 16, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Very well written, I am not surprised that the response of the local Zionist troll was once again based on incoherent insults rather than logic or reality.

  116. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    I love it when the Zionist cannot even read sources about the absurd arguments he makes before he makes them. View the following source for the truth. Yes, “the Jewish state” sounds like a very “secular” and non religious country.


  117. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    The troll seems to believe that shrieking demented insults and endlessly repeating the same statement over and over again will be effective in disrupting this blog. Unfortunately for him the only thing that it will succeed in doing is causing the abusive filth he posts to be deleted.

  118. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Fiorangela says:
    April 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

    “Recall Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion to US Congresspersons that US beam into Iran television programming from Hollywood — stuff that will “make Iranian young people want the fancy houses and clothes and swimming pools; that’s subversive.”

    All this suggestion and our Zionist troll’s gutter dwelling insults reveal is the utter weakness, desperation, and complete lack of principles and values constantly displayed by the West and Israel in their failing attempts to weaken Iran.

  119. fyi says:


    Talmud in Israel:


    This article, unfortunately, does not discuss in any detail the Rabbinate institution in Israel.

    For example, upon death, the Rabbinate takes control of the corpse; his will or family’s wishes are irrelevant.

    Yes, the State of Israel, having assumed the name of the “Jewish People” – Israel – and whose national anthem sings of the “longing in the soul of a Jews”, and whose constant refrain is to be recognized by Arabs and others as the “Jewish State” is, nevertheless and somehow not a religious state.

  120. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Every single one of the Zionist’s posts on this thread overtly violate multiple commenting rules.

  121. Fiorangela says:

    y’see Unknown Unknowns, there’s your first mistake; ya shoulda gone to Italy for a cure. In Italy, sulfur springs are believed to have such restorative properties that even mules are bathed in them to soothe their muscles, and newly-shorn sheep are comforted by a dip in the bubbly.
    (PS no disrespect intended; I am sorry to learn you were not well and hope you are soon restored to you ebullient self.)

    As for sex trafficking, not sure what Italy’s record is. I do know that the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world, and that Italians have a far better record of staying married. The destruction of the family — extended and nuclear — is a terrible blight.

    A few days ago I enjoyed La Traviata, simulcast to a local theatre from the Metropolitan Opera house in NYC. I had arrived at the theatre 45 min early, so to pass the time I popped into a showing of Hunger Games (sshhhh, don’t tell the ushers). It was appalling. The plot is that 2 young people from each of 12 ‘districts’ are selected to fight to the death — kill 23 of their co-combatants. I mentioned this to my companion at the opera, and he too registered disgust at what we — Hollywood, popular culture — are teaching our young. He much prefers opera, and reminisced on college years he spent in Germany, where hundreds of theatre troups and opera company form and put on plays at small venues that are consistently well attended. Those evil Huns.
    Recall Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion to US Congresspersons that US beam into Iran television programming from Hollywood — stuff that will “make Iranian young people want the fancy houses and clothes and swimming pools; that’s subversive.”

    Indeed it is subversive, in the most vile way imaginable, the same category of Vile as sassan’s shameful derision of Photi’s decision to revert to Islam. Religion — from re ligio, means to bind together. Religion binds a people and a culture together, supporting a community in times of joy as well as adversity. To deliberately seek to destroy the bonds of a culture and society is to seek to plunge the world back to a pre-civilized status. What conceivable benefit is hoped for by the perpetrator of such an evil agenda?

    La Traviata was wonderful.

  122. kooshy says:

    UU Jan

    I too was not aware that you were recovering from medical complications; I hope you fully recover, and I hope we continue to learn from your comments.


  123. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    BiBiJon says:
    April 16, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Very true and well stated.

  124. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    The Leveretts need to start reviewing the comment section periodically and deleting the abusive posts made by the resident Zionist troll.

  125. fyi says:

    Sex with Children by Talmud Rules


    See specificially the section titled: “Talmud Permits Child-Adult Sex”


  126. Photi says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Will do, and i appreciate the encouragement.

  127. Cyrus says:

    Fasshihi is engaged in the same activity as a long line of other journalists about attempting to rewrite history. According to the rewritten version, the WMD lies that the Bush administration promoted in order to justify invading Iraq were merely “intelligence errors”. And the reason talks with Iran have thus far proven fruitless is because Iran was “imposing a precondition” that its right to enrichment should be recognized. And it was the Iranian’s fault that the Turkish/Brazil nuclear swap deal fell through, not the US fault. etc. etc. In fact all of the analyses over Iran’s nuclear program begin with the assumption that the US/EU are legitimately trying to prevent Iran from “going nuclear” whilst Iran is being “intransigent” and “buying time” — we’re encouraged to distrust the Iranians whilst there’s never a mention of any ulterior motives by the US/Eu.

  128. BiBiJon says:

    Yearning spiritual guidance, but not knowing it

    It is striking how often Sassan, and MHF bring up cardinal sins of rape, murder, etc. And, in the same vain James Risen is unknowingly searching for meaning of truth and justifications for craven lying.

    It is rather obvious why Iran, Islam, and Shi’ism is the frame of reference for all this inquiry. It is because liberal democracy, the constitution, the fifth amendment, etc. no longer provide a satisfactory answer. The stark contradictions experienced everyday is gnawing at people’s minds, whether or not they want to deny it.

    Iran is not just a rising power in physical terms. All lost souls are looking to Iran to provide humane answers to their searching questions.

    Risen, who writes for a newspaper that lied the country into a near-genocidal, one-sided war with Iraq, is now repeating the lies of Islamophobes that Shi’i lye.
    There cannot be a clearer case of a person begging for spiritual guidance to help put his thoughts, his work, and the newspaper he works for on the soul-satisfying truths of revelation.

    Likewise, how to explain Sassan, and the other fellow’s obsessions born bear here on RFI, except to see their desperate denials of their equally desperate need for guidance to help them crawl out of the swamp of nothingness.

  129. Unknown Unknowns says:


    Great to read of your intentions. That is an excellent move. Do let me know if there is anything I can do, and keep me abreast of the progress of your plans. I look forward to meeting you here in Tehran or in Qom, inshallah.

  130. MHF says:

    Islamic and Shie’h doctrine also indicate that murder, torture, and rape are sins and haraam. Khamenei and Co. do all these acts as routinely as having lunch.

    With reasoning that Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett have expressed in supporting them in this piece, as well as many times before, they would only believe Khamenei lying after they get raped themselves, personally– then they will accept that this is a “government” of gangsters.

    Well, give it time, Flynt, and if you could stay in Iran long enough (not in hiding,) you may come to believe the character of Khamenei and Co

  131. Unknown Unknowns says:

    The Resident Evil Hasbara Troll says:
    April 16, 2012 at 6:16 am
    … in embracing such a vile and evil faith. Truly disgusting. Particularly in what seems like your “embrace” of an evil man who had sex with a young 4-year old child.


    I swear I didn’t know she was four!

    Seriously though, this is just another example of the Americans trying to turn reality upside down. Like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International or some other joke of political pressure group crying foul when we put to death a woman who had killed her husband after having cheated on him, all the while saying *not one word* about the hundreds of thousands, nay, millions that the United States Armed forces have killed directly and indirectly caused the death of. And blubbering idiots like our very own troll buy into it like the good ditto-heads that they are, and try to spew their garbage here. Good luck with that, asshole.

    The sexual abuse of children is just another case in point. There are people who are mentally and emotionally ill and who chose to prey on defenseless children rather than to get the help they need. Unfortunately, these horrible crimes exist in all countries of the world. I do not have statistics available, but I am willing to be that the sexual abuse of children is a much bigger problem in the US and the West than it is in Iran, per capita. This is not just because of the malaise of social disintegration, but because of ridiculous ideological errors that allow all sorts of filth to be accessed legally on the internet. In Iran, alhamdullilah, ALL sex sites, let alone sex sites that promote the sexual abuse of children are banned, whereas in the US there are literally millions of pages that promote this stuff quite legally. It boggles the mind that given this difference, idiots like our Resident Evil Hasbara Troll feel that they can accuse Iranian culture of sexual license. As if the lifestyle that the society and culture that they are trying to promote is in any position to pass judgement.

    I was in Thailand recently for medical reasons, and I found that even though I was in the north of the country (in Chiang Mai), where I was assured that the tourism sex trade did not exist, and that it was in the south of the country, where the beaches and tourists go, I still found that Chiang Mai, which is the cultural and religious capital of the country was basically a big open-air whorehouse. A couple of months back this same subject came up over at Bernhart’s site (Moon of Alabama), and this is what I posted there in response at the time:

    MB @ 56:

    Your response did not even address how you felt justified to call me a rapist. But that’s ok. For the record, I was in northern Thailand in November, and I did see the sexual tourism trade first hand. I was deeply saddened for the people of that country who have prostituted their women in such large numbers. And I was disgusted by the older European and American losers who obviously did not have a life of their own back home, and came over their and had young women in their early 20’s escort them everywhere they went. I thank God that I was not witness to the underage sex trade, which I am told takes place in the south of the country. I am sure that if I had seen such a thing, I would have gotten physically sick.

    Needless to say, all the johns were from Western countries, and there was not a single Iranian to be seen, even though there are many Iranian businessmen that come and go there. (Of course that is not to say that Iranians do not also participate in this activity, but it is a Western phenomenon, by and large.)

    And b is right about you not knowing a fucking thing about Islam, when you talk about Louis Farrakhan and Ali Stone. Know you limits and talk from your expertise, if you have one.

    Posted by: Unknown Unknowns | Feb 16, 2012 11:21:00 AM | 61

    Here’s the link to the site for anyone who is interested to see how the conversation got started.


    Millions of sex sites exploiting and objectifying girls and young women, millions of sex tourists abusing children and desperate women, and it is we Iranians who are the perverts. Go figure.

    There is so much ignorance out there. Indeed, it is a sea of darkness, save for the lights of the prophets and the grace of God.

  132. Empty says:

    Unknown Unknown,
    (While I didn’t know you were ill), I’m glad you feel well.

  133. Photi says:

    Sassan–you continue to infer that Muslims rape babies, who is insulting who?

    You argue like a hasbarist. If you change your form of debate to a rational one, maybe people will stop thinking you are an Israeli or a non-Iranian Zionist. Your narrative about Iran and Islam is borrowed directly from them.

  134. Photi says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, it must be frustrating for you to see that even an American who has every reason to be open and friendly towards Iran still has difficulty seeing beyond all the falsehoods invented by our asinine media. Inshallah, one day the clouds will clear.

    “You should try to see if you can come to Iran. If you decide to do so, drop me a line and I can probably be of some help.”

    Actually, I may one day soon take you up on your offer. I have a friend studying at one of the howzas in Qom. I have filled out an application to study there, i believe he turned it in last week. The process is foreign to me, but my guess is the student visa application will be the deciding factor on whether or not i will be accepted to attend.

    Inshallah, my first stage of many there will be language instruction as well as learning a deeper foundation in Islamic knowledge. I am also interested in social sciences from an Islamic understanding. “Living experience” within a Muslim society is glaringly absent from my life and so God willing i will correct that.

  135. Sassan says:

    And the continued inference that I am Jewish only clearly demonstrates the anti-Semitism on here.

  136. Photi says:

    Sassan–Don’t you have some matzah balls to make or something? Why do you keep distracting yourself here?

  137. BiBiJon says:

    Unknown Unknowns says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I’ve always learned a lot from your posts, and I wish you a robust health to do more. I think you do a great service by bringing into focus what constitutes the umma. And, I think it bears repeating in the same accessible writing style of yours as a much needed antidote to the (war) bird’s eye view that they’re all the same.

    I love your portrayal of Shiism as a living faith as opposed to doctrines fossilized centuries ago. A distinction I found once eloquently made by Ay. Khamenei:

    “Those who are employing “philosophy or pseudo-philosophy” to “pervert the nation’s mind” should not be dealt with “by declaring apostasy and anger” but rather countered with the “religious truths” that will falsify their arguments.”

    Only a self-confident, ‘living’ faith leaves the doors open to challenge, and in turn further strengthens itself by countering those challenges, not with anger, but with reason. Methinks.

  138. Empty says:

    Specific points to critique the two articles are prompt and very well made.

  139. Sassan says:

    Here come the Mullahs Flynt and Hillary Leverett. Thw two regime apologists doing what they do best. Offering excuses for the most heinous terrorist regime of the world.

  140. Arnold Evans says:

    Has everyone seen the US organization armscontrol.org ‘s history of official proposals from both sides on Iran’s nuclear issue?


    This seems to consistently make mistakes in favor of making the US/EU seem more reasonable than they have been. Notable ones are that the EU 2005 proposal would have given the each of the EU members a permanent veto over Iran ever enriching uranium again, that the 2009 proposal would have possibly seen deliveries of TRR fuel over three years rather than one and that the US/EU’s primary criticism of the Brazil/Turkey proposal was that it did not address 20% enrichment, rather than that it permitted Iran to actually retrieve its uranium if the US/EU did not supply TRR fuel.

    My current take is that the US arms control community has completely given up on preventing Iranian enrichment to 5% and is now hoping to prevent Iran from stockpiling 20% LEU.

    The Russian proposal which seems to be the basis for the current discussions seems to call for freezing Iran’s program where it is, including ongoing 5% enrichment I guess for as long as Iran wants. At this point, additional 5% LEU is not very strategically valuable and there is no plausible pretext to reduce Iran’s stock from almost six tons to less than one any more.

    I don’t know if Iran will or should accept the Russian proposal. It depends, I think on how Iran perceives additional sanctions. If Iran perceives then the way our FYI does, as an opportunity to increase its independence from the West, then it will not be willing to trade anything of strategic value for it.


    We also see more details about the dispute over Parchin.

    It looks like the West wants to test if experiments were done on explosions of natural uranium. These experiments would not violate Iran’s safeguards agreement if they happened. If they did happen, it is close to certain that analogous experiments have at one time or another been performed by states in good standing such as Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Germany and others and whether or not in some sense they are illegal, any of those states would, as would be completely within their rights under the NPT, just deny the IAEA access to any facilities where such experiments occurred.

    Because Iran is saying that it is willing to allow inspections if a work-plan such as the one Iran reached with ElBaradei is established that will lead to a statement that all questions have been answered – the US has simply prevented the IAEA from holding up its agreement on the previous work plan – my best guess is that Iran would be exonerated by an inspection of Parchin. But that’s just a guess.

    This all brings us to the question of what happens in May.

    Iran pretty clearly, I think can have a deal much better than what it was willing to accept in 2005 or 2006. On the other hand, Iran has paid a lot more for its program than it had in 2005 or 2006, including five nuclear scientists who were killed probably by the US or its allies.

    I think the key issues are:

    1) Iran cannot allow a US veto to be imposed on future generations of Iranian leaders. By some set time, any limitations Iran accepts will have to be, by the explicit terms of any deal, subject to be unilaterally released by Iran.

    2) If we assume Iran will have six months, or some amount of months, of warning as a crisis develops that could actually lead to military action against Iran, what could Iran do with its nuclear program over that time? The stockpile Iran has of 5% LEU already gives Iran some flexibility in such a scenario, but a stockpile of 20% would give more. This is fairly unlikely to be a concern over the next three or five years but the future becomes more difficult to predict further away so flexibility over longer time frames becomes more important.

    I don’t think Iran is worrying about an attack from either the US or much less Israel. Iran also still has the advantage that for whatever reason, the US refuses to publicly acknowledge an Iranian right to enrich. So the US would not be able to go over the head of the Iranian government and tell the Iranian public that 20% enrichment is what is blocking a deal, if that was the case.

    The US also can be trusted to add some terms, especially such as a permanent effective US veto over the development of Iran’s nuclear industry that Iran’s public would reject anyway.

    So maybe in May we’ll get a work plan that trades Parchin for a statement that all of the IAEA’s questions have been resolved and an agreement that Iran will for some time, refrain for enriching beyond 5%.

    Just as likely, maybe more likely, in May we’ll see that the US intends for Parchin to be one more of an never-ending string of contrived questions and if so, Iran will refuse to indulge it. We’ll also see that Iran, now that it has about 120kg of 20% LEU is willing to stop there, but not willing to relinquish it, even though it would have been willing to forego enriching to 20% as recently as this time in 2010.

    The question is how afraid is Iran of additional sanctions. One thing to remember is that regimes in Cuba, North Korea and Iraq survived sanctions much more stringent than anything feasible for Iran. Another is that if Iran gets to the table in 2017, after the next US presidency, reducing the stock of 20% may then be as unimaginable then as reducing the stock of 5% is now. Then the issue might be an agreement not to bring a heavy water reactor on line – which itself might be off the table two or three years later.

    Whenever Iran makes a deal, it can get what it asked for in 2006, lifting sanctions – but if it gets it later, it can have traded the short term or temporary cost of sanctions for a longer term strategically valuable improvement in its nuclear position.

    Iran might be magnanimous and willing to put the nuclear dispute into the past. The difference between having and not having 20% LEU, and the size of any 20% stockpile is much smaller than the difference between enriching and not enriching which was the point of dispute until this year.

    Or Iran might not be as clumsy in public, but in effect adopt George W. Bush’s position of “bring it on”. If the West thinks it will scare Iran with sanctions and this stupid “military option on the table” stuff, what happens if Iran does not blink? I don’t think there is anyone important in Iran today who thinks Iran should have taken any of the deals previously offered. It is somewhat reasonable to expect that its position in April 2013 will be better than its position today.

    We shall see. Iran’s nuclear issue shaping into the second most important strategic event in the Middle East today after the question of whether or not the pro-US colonial dictatorship will retain control of foreign policy contrary to local popular preferences in Egypt.

    (I didn’t mean for this to be this long. I’m going to also paste it as a post on my blog.)

  141. A concerned world citizen says:

    Reza Esfandiari says:
    April 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm
    @A concerned world citizen:

    Unfortunately, political activism is not limited to journalists, but also to academics. It is OK to be an activist, but people expect news reporters and university scholars to present more than just their own personal agenda.

    @Reza Esfandiari says:

    Thanks Reza for pointing out the academics angle.How could I forget them..I believe they’re what the MSM like to call “experts”. I sometimes hear their drivel on TV and it makes my stomach churn. The level of ignorance and hubris displayed by these “experts” is breathtaking. I think it’s the MSM’s way of “truthing” their reporting or giving their lies some credibility. I believe there’s a copious amount of money to be made so these experts do their best to fit the narrative.

  142. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Dear Photi-san:

    Thank you for your response and for your kind words and thoughts. I’ll respond to your questions as best I can, but first I would like to congratulate you for having been blessed by Allah to see the truth and beauty that is Shi’a Islam. Masha’llah! I would love to hear your “reversion” (as we like to put it) story one day. Perhaps in Iran, inshallah. I have a close Texan friend who reverted to Shi’a Islam about 10 years 8 years ago, and I always think that there is huge potential in the good Christians of your country for them to see the truth and beauty of Islam, if only they had access to it. I guess that’s one of my motivations for doing the kind of translation of Imam Khomeini’s work.

    >>The quote above was the last paragraph of that particular post of yours, was this your commentary or was this part of the Ayatollah’s speech?

    That is a direct translation.

    >>I was thrown off by the pronoun “you” and was not sure who it is directed at.

    The pronoun refers to the westoxicated Iranians who had returned from their American universities after the revolution and who had played no significant role in it (made no sacrifices, etc.) but who expected the revolution to be handed over to them, simply because they had a Western education. The overall context of the speech was the struggle (that still exists after 33 years) in the universities, between professors and lecturers whose minds are basically nothing more than encampments of Western (secular) culture, and those Iranians who follow the line of the Imam, who are a large majority in the country as a whole, but who are a minority in the universities (especially in Tehran universities).

    >>At any rate, regarding the speech generally, it left me with more questions than anything about how best for America and Americans to behave towards the Islamic Republic. The Ayatollah’s warnings were strict, is there even a way for Americans to begin to atone for our past mistakes?

    Hmmm. I’m not really sure what to say here. As a Shi’a living in a non-Moslem land, the shariah is very clear that you must obey the local laws at all times (obviously). And a distinction is made between Americans as private citizens (be they Shi’a or otherwise) and the Government of the United States and its foreign policy (and the enforcement arm for that misguided policy). And I would not frame the issue in terms of atoning for sins (which implies a post facto I’m OK, You’re OK status, which can never be the case). There is no way of getting around the belief that living in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet and the Imams (upon all of whom be peace) is righteous, and not doing so is wrong, and detrimental. There will always be this struggle, and it will not end until the coming of the Mahdi.

    >>Please forgive me for personalizing this a little bit, but in looking specifically at my profile (American convert to Shia Islam), Iran is a somewhat ‘natural’ interest for me even though i am not Iranian. However, as an American, as soon as i become interested in Islam and Iran, doesn’t that give Iranians reason enough to be suspicious of me? (as in the speech you translated there was this warning: “And when that doesn’t work for them, they’ll switch tact and one of their spokesmen will sham concern for our religion…” )

    No. Iranians do not dislike Americans, and we LOVE Americans who have reverted to the religion of their primordial nature (their *fitra*), Shi’a Islam. The speech was not directed at Americans at all, and did not really refer to them either, I don’t think. In the sentence you quoted above, the “them” is not the American people or the American government for that matter. It refers to the House Niggers, for lack of a better phrase: those Iranians who have sold out culturally, and whose minds and souls have been occupied by secular (profane) Western ways of thinking; it refers to the Westoxicated Iranians who are reactionary forces working against the revolution. Their interest happens to coincide with those of Western imperialism…

    >>Given Ayatollah Khomeini’s warning, how do sincere Westerners begin to make their way out of this shadow of distrust? Are the pitfalls insurmountable? Where is the ’safe place’ to forge a relationship between the two nations? How does an American keep his or her interest in Iran and Islam and not get mistook by Iranians as an agent of the enemy or unwittingly get played by those who are trying to dominate?

    Iranians will not mistake you. Iranians do not care what your nationality is. It is your mindset and the speech and behavior which follow from that which is important. That Iranians distrust their fellow human beings who happen to be American (rather than the US government) is just another propaganda ploy designed to spread division and demonize the enemy. You should try to see if you can come to Iran. If you decide to do so, drop me a line and I can probably be of some help.

  143. Photi says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    I am happy to hear your health is improving and that you are back to work (and my apologies to you as i did not know you were spending this past year convalescing).

    As your time for outside-of-work activities lessens, i do hope you remember to come back to RFI once and a while to give us a few words of your commentary. No doubt your voice adds to the chorus of this particular song.

    Regarding your earlier posting of your loose translation of a speech by Ayatollah Khomeini, you wrote:

    “And so, it becomes evident that you have no interest in saving and preserving our sanctity and our sacred values. All you are really up to is some treacherous mischief designed to push us aside in order to pave the way for your foreign paymasters to come in and take back the reins of the country.”

    The quote above was the last paragraph of that particular post of yours, was this your commentary or was this part of the Ayatollah’s speech?

    I was thrown off by the pronoun “you” and was not sure who it is directed at.

    At any rate, regarding the speech generally, it left me with more questions than anything about how best for America and Americans to behave towards the Islamic Republic. The Ayatollah’s warnings were strict, is there even a way for Americans to begin to atone for our past mistakes?

    Please forgive me for personalizing this a little bit, but in looking specifically at my profile (American convert to Shia Islam), Iran is a somewhat ‘natural’ interest for me even though i am not Iranian. However, as an American, as soon as i become interested in Islam and Iran, doesn’t that give Iranians reason enough to be suspicious of me? (as in the speech you translated there was this warning: “And when that doesn’t work for them, they’ll switch tact and one of their spokesmen will sham concern for our religion…” )

    Given Ayatollah Khomeini’s warning, how do sincere Westerners begin to make their way out of this shadow of distrust? Are the pitfalls insurmountable? Where is the ‘safe place’ to forge a relationship between the two nations? How does an American keep his or her interest in Iran and Islam and not get mistook by Iranians as an agent of the enemy or unwittingly get played by those who are trying to dominate?

  144. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    The MSM is now openly adopting and promoting demented conspiracy theories spread by ranting Islamophobes that have no basis in reality. Note how this nonsense is spread. A few years ago this was solely purveyed by the most extreme right wing hate sites (and ignored by the MSM). Now after allowing this lie to go unchallenged for years, the MSM shamelessly embraces it.

  145. Unknown Unknowns says:

    BiBi Khanum: here is the piece I promised earlier. I hope it makes sense to you in the context of our discussion. For others who are interested, I posted a longish last night (your this morning) on a portion of a speech by Imam Khomeini, but unfortunately it fell at the tail end of the last thread. I would be interested in any feedback on it, particularly with regard to the question as to whether this approach that I have taken to the Imam’s thoughts has any efficacy in terms of making his thoughts more accessible to a contemporary Western audience. Thanks in advance. Now here’s the piece of Hijab:


    Hijab: A Complex Question

    I – Preamble
    I was at a certain function the other day, and someone brought up the issue of hijab. One respondent held the typical position that it should be up to the individual (and that it should not, therefore, be compulsory). Another simply made an historical observation, stating that hijab was voluntary for the first year or so of the revolution, until people complained to the Imam about the lack of propriety by some female workers in governmental offices, at which point the Imam said that hijab should be enforced in government offices, after which through a gradual process, due in part to the fervor of revolution and war, the Islamic dress code for women began to be enforced on the streets. I was going to put in my two cents’ worth, but the conversation drifted to another subject. But I thought I’d put my thoughts “on paper” about this, as the thought process will, I hope, serve to disambiguate not just this issue, but other controversial issues which have resulted from similar category errors or conflations of disparate and dichotomous categories such as sacred/ profane, sacred community/ secular social contract, and sacred law/ synthetic rule, regulation, guideline or code of conduct. Let me explain.

    II – The Inter-Paradigm Ambiguity
    The first confusion arises from the fact that the application of this question (and many other similar ones) to an a-modern (or anti-modern) traditional sacred community is invariably posed by persons with frames of reference, metrics and value-criteria proper to a secular, social-contract –based modern, profane culture. This is really the crux of the problem: modernity’s failure even to recognize, let alone respect, traditional cultures, and generally any culture other than its own. To wit, in the traditional Iranian Shi’a culture (which is that of the overwhelming majority of Iran’s population), a distinction obtains between sacred law (shariah) on one hand, and legislated rules, regulations, codes of conduct and industrial regulations and standards on the other; the former are immutable or very near-immutable and are sacred in origin and are guarded by the Guardian Council (a council of religious elders), whereas the latter are synthetic and malleable and are crafted by the Majlis (a council of lay as well as religious men and women). This distinction does not exist in modern secular societies such as those which obtain in the West. Something is either a law or it isn’t, and there is no distinction between a sacred law and a non-sacred one, or between mutable or immutable laws: even constitutional laws can be changed by convention or super-majority vote. But again, the fact that this distinction does not obtain in one society does not afford that society the right to disregard the distinction in other societies in which it does, regardless of how often this “right” is arrogated by modernity against traditional cultures. And so, the respectful outside observer of the traditional Iranian culture and legal system must do what members of the traditional society do in their thought process. In deciding on a given issue, the first thought must be given to the question as to whether the issue at hand is a *shar’i* or *nazari* issue, i.e., whether it pertains to the domain of the sacred law or to that of everyday, profane affairs. If the issue falls in the ambit of the former, then the matter is settled, and has been settled by sacred consensus for centuries, and as such, its discussion is (virtually) out of the question. Certainly for the non-specialist lay person, it is entirely out of the question, whereas the portal or gate of ijtihad is open for any and all mujtahids who wish to pursue the question in light of changed circumstances, if any. The issue of hijab belongs to the former category of Sacred Law.

    By the way, these Sacred Laws of Islam are even more immutable than the so-called “laws” of the physical world such as the “law” of gravity or the first “law” of thermo-dynamics, which, as Alfred North Whitehead correctly pointed out, are not, properly speaking, laws so much as they are long-term tendencies. (They obtain at the pleasure and behest of God, who can and at times does change them at will.)

    III – Intra-Paradigm Ambiguities
    Another confusion arises from the failure to distinguish between different religious approaches *within* (a) a given religion, and (b) different (heterodox) currents within a given religious sect. The three main currents within Islam have been and continue to be that of the Sunnite, Shi’ite and Kharijite currents. The first two (which have, historically, made up over 98% of the Moslem community) both have their respective class of clerical specialists, to whose expertise they defer in matters of religious ritual and law, the latter of which, in Islam, being a social religion, is all-encompassing. This institution of deferential accession is called *taqlid* – literally, ‘immitation’ – whereby the non-specialist defers to the specialist in matters of religious ritual and sacred law. The nature and extent of this deferential imitation differs in the Sunnite vs. the Shi’ite traditions in two important ways.

    a) The Shi’a, having a unified spiritual view of Sacred Governance or Guardianship (wilayah), defer to their *mujtahid* (he who practices *ijtihad* or strives and endeavors in the religious field to bring about correct interpretations and rulings based on the sacred sources of law – the Quran and Sunna) defer to their mujtahid or marja’-e taqlid in all matters legal, spiritual and political, whereas in the Sunnite tradition, their take of Guardianship having been trifurcated in practice, defer to the ulama in matters of law, to the caliph (and later sultans and amirs) in political matters, and to their sufi masters for those on the spiritual path.

    b) The other important distinction is that in the Sunnite tradition, in matters of ritual and religious (but not spiritual or political law), four schools of law developed and crystalized into the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali rites. The distinctive features of all four rites (which distinguish them from the Shi’a or Ja’fari rite) is that all four believe that each of their eponymous founders have exhausted all possibilities when it comes to ritual and legal practice, so that the portal of juridical striving or endeavor (bab al-ijtihad) is forever closed, and as ijtihad is no longer necessary, it is haram (proscribed). In the Shi’a or Ja’fari rite, on the other hand, it is believed that as new situations present themselves, it is always necessary to practice ijtihad so as to ensure the efficacy of religious law to newly-arising situations and contexts. As such, it is haram (forbidden) to defer to a mujtahid that is no longer living, and the portal of ijtihad remains open indefinitely for the living mujtahid or doctor of law.

    The Kharijite current, which includes the ahl al-hadith, the Zaheris, Ibn Taymiyya and his followers, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and his motley crew of misfits, the Ghulaat, Akhbaris, Shaykhis and Baabis of the Shi’a, and todays salafists (followers of such modernists as Jalal ud-Din Astarabadi (“Afghani”), Seyyed Qutb, Muhammad Abduh, etc.), the Deobandis of the Indian sub-continent, and generally any and of all the takfiri and laa-mazhab misfits and malcontents that you can shake a stick at. The important characteristics to bear in mind about this current in its contemporary neo-Kharijite adumbrations is that while they maintain the malcontent and misfit attributes of their forebears, they do so in a modernist, radically-individuated anti-communal form, which not only demurs on taqlid (the necessary precondition for the formation of any systematized and lasting approach to matters of religious law, rite and ritual (mazhab), but consider taqlid (and therefore the institutions of the 4+1 mazaahib) as haram. (That is the reason one of the first acts of the Wahhabis, once they took control of Mecca, was to destroy the four stations of the four Sunni rites that had been set up for centuries in the four corners of the great mosque of the ka’ba.)

    IIII – Conclusion
    What I am getting at with all this background is that in order to avoid ambiguities and category errors in matters of religious sacred law (such as the hijab), one should first consider whether the issue is one that falls in the category of Sacred Law or Common Law. If the former, one must then consider whether the context and approach is traditional or modernist/ neo-Kharijite; whether the approach is one of the five traditional mazaahib (the four Sunnite rites plus the Ja’fari or Imami Shi’a rite), or whether one’s approach precludes that of the tradition mazhabs and is a neo-Khawarij/ modernist one (in which as Cole Porter famously said, ‘anything goes’).

    Wa allahu ya’lam.

  146. Fiorangela says:

    BiBiJon, this cheese is a bigger Muenster than you thought —

    “We want to believe Ahmadinejad threatened a nuclear-armed Israel with annihilation in 2005, a full 9 years before even the direst mosad estimates had Iran possibly have a single weapon of her own Some quibble how could he threaten a future event a full one year after he would be out of office.”

    = = = = =

    Just to be on the safe side, AIPAC started imposing sanctions on Iran in 1995, ten years before Mossad had a whiff of what Ahmadinejad couldn’t do while he was no longer in the office that he didn’t have any power to do even while he was in office.

    Is there a Nobel prize for making cheese?

  147. An Iranian View says:

    Thank you for this very good article.

  148. BiBiJon says:

    Thank you for feting the feta!

    Cheesy or not, we want to believe.

    We want to believe Ahmadinejad threatened a nuclear-armed Israel with annihilation in 2005, a full 9 years before even the direst mosad estimates had Iran possibly have a single weapon of her own Some quibble how could he threaten a future event a full one year after he would be out of office. Being out of office by 2014 is slightly irrelevant as he has no authority to order such an attack even while holding office.

    We want to believe Ay. Khamenei has been lying over the years issuing religious edicts banning nuclear weapons irrespective of the costs of being found out.

    We want to believe the Shi’a have a unique way of coping with being despised for their faith: they smother the pain with greater pain and opt to be despised for being lying toads instead.

    We want to believe ….

    And James Risen is only giving us what we want. Cheese!

  149. Rehmat says:

    Iran stood fast at P5+1 meeting: Bibi frets

    “We have always stated that pressure and the language of threat is useless in dealing with the Iranian nation, but talks and cooperation can be a positive approach,” said Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at the end of two rounds of 10-hour negotiations in Istanbul with P5+1 group (the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia plus Germany) headed by Baroness Cathrine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief…….


  150. Karl says:

    netanyahu got angry because the talks were labeled as “positive”, so he probably called obama

    Netanyahu: Iran received gift from world powers with further nuclear talks

    …and told him that Iran must get more sanctions to ruin the diplomacy.

    Obama promises more sanctions on Iran if nuclear talks drag

    Just took one day before US were back with its threats, clearly show how unreliable and how insincere they are.

  151. Pirouz says:

    Reza Esfandiari says:
    April 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    That was my main criticism of that fellow from Britain that used to spam here.

    I recently learned that the editor of Tehran Bureau is a a graduate of a school of journalism. I found this incredible, based on the site’s lack of objectivity and blatant disregard for seeking confirmations in their material.

    But I can tell you this, Reza: as frustrating as all of this seems, you can’t imagine how frustrating it was before the public adoption of the internet. Before, our only recourse was scoffing to ourself at the newspaper or in front of the TV set.


  152. Pirouz says:

    Reza Esfandiari says:
    April 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    That was my main criticism of that fellow from Britain that used to spam here.

    I recently learned that the editor of Tehran Bureau is a a graduate of a school of journalism. I found this incredible, based on the site’s lack of objectivity and blatant disregard for seeking confirmations in their material.

    But I can tell you this, Reza: as frustrating as all of this seems, you can’t imagine how frustrating it was before the public adoption of the internet. Before, our only recourse was scoffing to ourself at the newspaper or in front of the TV set.

  153. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @A concerned world citizen:

    Unfortunately, political activism is not limited to journalists, but also to academics. It is OK to be an activist, but people expect news reporters and university scholars to present more than just their own personal agenda.

  154. A concerned world citizen says:

    Real journalism died on 9/11 when all the “journalists” decided show their patriotic credentials by toeing the line.Perhaps much earlier.

    What we have today is reporters and “activists”(aka paid agents who’ll say anything) who’s words are straight from the MIC and therefore regarded as kosher.Any presenter(journalist) can make a claim and everybody will stick with it..It’s all about the ratings!!! Sad state of affairs, indeed :(

  155. Jay says:

    The observation that NYT often appears to promote certain policies through misinformation is now well-established. Historically speaking, and on an absolute scale, this is not a new practice for NYT. However, in recent history, NYT has increasingly been on the side of promoting agenda to the point of fabrication.

    The question of urgency is “who is in charge” of this policy, and “what can be done about it”?

    In the age of “networks”, I suggest creating “weight” for the “counter-articles”! For example, using links to increase the rankings of a story written by Glen Greenwald in response to a NYT article, creating interlinking blogs with simple, short, understandable criticism (using mostly copy and paste), to create counter weights. Then, using instruments like twitter to propagate the counter-arguments. All strategies designed to increase the visibility of fabrications promoted by places like NYT.

    Of course all of this takes a few dedicatd writers and bloggers – which I don’t have available!

  156. Reza Esfandiari says:

    I really applaud Hillary and Flynt for writing this article. The standards of journalism on Iran by the mainstream corporate press in the United States are deplorably low. I would also include Neil MacFarquhar of the NY Times in the hall of shame as he doesn’t even bother to present an accurate picture.

    Farnaz Fassihi of the WSJ, like Nazila Fathi formerly of the Times, is herself a staunch Green Movement partisan and always includes her own biased perspective in her general reporting (which is supposed to be objective and factual). Of course, she has no understanding of public opinion inside Iran except what her limited contacts within the country tell her.

    Regarding taqqiya,it is a practice adopted not only by Shia Muslims but also by Sikhs who were both persecuted by Sunni Muslims. It is only permissible only in a situation where your life depends on being evasive rather than being truthful to the point where you risk seriously endangering yourself and others.