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The Race for Iran

THE STRATEGIC CONSEQUENCES OF ECONOMIC REFORM IN IRAN

With the collapse of the Green Movement—a reality that even some of its more ardent partisans in the West have had to acknowledge—America’s Iran watchers have searched hard for some new Achilles heel that would provide the key to the Islamic Republic’s eventual implosion.  Over the past few months, many of them focused on the Iranian economy and, in particular, the prospect of cuts in domestic subsidies, highlighting the potential for domestic political blowback against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the reforms.  Some even went so far as to suggest that negative domestic reaction to subsidy cuts might even bring down the Islamic Republic’s established political order.    

Earlier this week, William Yong published an article in The New York Times, entitled “Iran Cuts Subsidies on Fuel and Other Consumer Goods”, see here.  The piece has its share of strained analysis, to be sure.  But, in comparison with much of the intellectually ungrounded to-ing and fro-ing in Western media coverage—not to mention commentary—about Iran’s economy, Mr. Yong’s article is relatively straightforward, at least in its reporting on subsidy reform.  After a factually accurate headline, Mr. Yong writes,

“Iran has embarked on a sweeping program of cuts in its costly and inefficient system of subsidies on fuel and other essential goods that has put a strain on state finances and held back economic progress for years.  The government’s success in overcoming political obstacles to make the cuts and its willingness to risk social upheaval suggest that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have consolidated power after the internal fractures that followed his bitterly disputed re-election in 2000…

Tehran has long sought to cut the subsidies—even under the reformist administration of President Mohammad Khatami—and particularly for oil.  The logic is compelling:  artificially low prices encourage greater consumption, leaving less oil to export for cash.  And the higher oil prices rise, the greater the ‘opportunity costs’ in lost exports.  But the timing, whether for political or economic reasons, was never right to cut the subsidies…

While the government may be feeling economic pressure now, analysts say, the current program of cuts is principally a sign of its political strength…The subsidy cuts, which the International Monetary Fund says have amounted to $4,000 a year for the average Iranian family, began in earnest last month when the rationed price of gasoline jumped to about $1.44 a gallon from just 38 cents.  With a ration of only 16 gallons a month at the subsidized rate, most motorists buy the bulk of their fuel now at the even higher market rate of $2.64 per gallon, significantly more than the $1.80 that people pay in nearby Dubai.

In recent weeks, subsidies have also been reduced on flour, water and diesel.  But the spike in prices has not provoked the angry protests that followed the introduction of fuel rationing in 2007.  The price of bread has tripled, on average, the government says; water, which used to be practically free, now costs between 10 cents and 85 cents per cubic meter, based on a sliding scale under which consumers pay a higher rate the more they use.

The government says these are just the first steps in what it calls an ‘economic transformation plan’ that will also include banking reform, sweeping changes in Iran’s tax and customs system, and ever more privatization of state-owned industries.  And with officials already reporting drops in the consumption of gasoline, flour, diesel and electricity, even before the prices were raised, Mr. Ahmadinejad has been exultant…

Depending on how well Iran’s government can stave off the worst effects of the price shocks, the subsidy reforms could be a political victory for Iran’s new right win—a success for Mr. Ahmadinejad where liberals, now almost entirely excluded from Iran’s political scene, had failed.” 

So, at the beginning of last year, Western analysts were predicting en masse that the Green Movement would bring down the Islamic Republic during 2010.  By the end of 2010, some of the same analysts were predicting that economic distress exacerbated by subsidy reform would accomplish the same objective.   

In his New York Times article, Mr. Yong does not escape the temptation of wasting a few paragraphs on speculation about how the government’s success in launching subsidy reform might lead it to take a more “confident”—and, hence, from an American perspective, “tougher”—stance in the next round of nuclear talks in Istanbul.  Alternatively, as Mr. Yong also speculates, a “confident” government might be better positioned to reach an agreement with the United States and its international partners.  (Or—as we would suggest—perhaps Iran has a well-developed and internally coherent set of positions regarding international nuclear issues.)  Additionally, Mr. Yong parrots claims made about Ahmadinejad in some of the U.S. diplomatic cables published online by Wikileaks, seemingly without scrutinizing the sources of the claims to evaluate their credibility. 

Still, Mr. Yong’s reporting on subsidy reform is, as we said, relatively straightforward—and, for that reason, welcome.  However, his article does not address what we believe is a critically important dimension of the story—the strategic impact of economic reformAs the International Monetary Fund noted in September 2010, subsidy reform “could transform the way the country’s economy works”.  For an informative interview with two IMF economists who work on Iran, see here.  For the IMF’s last major assessment of Iran’s economy, see here.  What will be the strategic impact if subsidy cuts and other elements of the Ahmadinejad administration’s “economic transformation plan”, such as the restructuring of large, state-owned economic enterprises, result in substantially higher levels of economic growth, productivity, and economic dynamism in Iran?    

To produce such results, the Iranian government will need to “stay the course” with its reform initiatives.  It will also need to avoid mistakes in monetary and fiscal policy which, as has been shown in other countries, can undermine the positive impact of reform.  But the potential payoff for Iran is huge.  As one of the IMF economists referenced above describes the Islamic Republic’s present economic situation,   

“Iran is the 17th largest economy in the world.  Holding little foreign debt—less than seven percent of GDP—the country has sizeable energy reserves, with underground hydrocarbon resources estimated at $10 trillion in oil alone (at $75 a barrel) and natural gas reserves at between $3 ½ – 4 ½ trillion…Inflation has declined dramatically—from close to 30 percent two years ago to less than 10 percent since September 2009 as the central bank withdrew liquidity.” 

But, the IMF economist also notes that “Real GDP growth is estimated to have been about 1-2 percent [in 2010].  This relatively low GDP growth is due mainly to weak domestic demand…” 

If economic reform—not just subsidy reform, though that is critical, but also banking and enterprise reform—ends up boosting domestic demand and productivity (as it ultimately should), Iran has the potential to emerge in coming years as a regional economic superpower.  Ahmadinejad has said recently that he wants Iran to be ranked as the world’s 12th largest economy by 2015—not that far away.  In such a scenario, among other things, sanctions would become increasingly irrelevant, as more and more people around the world decide that appeasing Stuart Levey’s blatantly illegal extraterritorial application of U.S. national law does not make sense anymore. 

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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161 Responses to “THE STRATEGIC CONSEQUENCES OF ECONOMIC REFORM IN IRAN”

  1. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    Thanks for bit from Charlie Rose interview with Kissinger. So, Charlie Rose poses the issue as one of Iran wanting to have the “capacity” to develop nuclear weapons. Is this code for Iran’s production of LEU and retaining such LEU inside Iran? No challenge from Kissinger, of course, to Rose’s assumption that Iran in fact wants to be able to build nukes quickly.

    China says time and again it has no problem with Iranian production of LEU for nuclear power plants.

  2. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Kissinger surely was right, that it was not the business of the US to coerce the USSR into allowing emigration of “Jews”. And ironically, one of the most vehement elements in Israel, trying to block the emergence of an independent Palestine, is the “Russian” or “Russian Jewish” element that went to Israel as a result of Jackson-Vanik.

  3. James Canning says:

    Kathleen,

    There cleary exists a programme by American news media to hype the issue of Jews murdered by the Nazis and to play down, relatively, the fate of non-Jews. Had Germany won the war, the number of non-Jews murdered by the Nazis would have dwarfed the number of Jews murdered by them.

  4. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Britain saw its ownership of 60% of Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. as vital to its national security. This assessment was sound.

  5. Fiorangela says:

    Kathleen, re your comment at 11:12 am; the US and, especially, Great Britain, may go along with the sacralization of holocaust to the extent that they do because by pointing all fingers to Germany and holocaust, attention is diverted from the even more outrageous and brutal genocidal acts the US and GB have carried out throughout modern history upon Europeans, Chinese(opium wars?), and Japanese.

    John Dower’s “Cultures of War” tries to expose the hypocrisy of US war on terror by juxtaposing the destruction of WTC and acts such as US and GB deliberate aerial bombardment of Dresden and of 60 Japanese cities, with the intent of producing terror in the civilian population. Churchill was complicit in those projects.

    As Empty mentioned earlier, Iran was subjected to holocaust by starvation in the early 20th century. Great Britain was complicit in that project.

    Churchill was complicit — in fact, the prime mover of the 1953 overthrow of Mossadeqh.

    etc

    etc

    etc

  6. Fiorangela says:

    Rehmat, at 4:26 pm yesterday you wrote:

    “With no disrespect to your mother’s story – real or from Hasbara Norebook . . .”

    The meanings of words matter. The comment I made that centered on my Mother was allegorical — not true in every scientific detail, but representative of a truth, used to convey a message. The message I wanted to communicate was that there are people who are proud enough, confident enough, and determined enough to stand up for their rights, against all power imbalances. Armed with only a metaphoric rolling pin and a 6th grade education, a confident person with courage can, and will, defeat the most heavily weaponized and mendaciously and fraudulently intellectualized of adversaries.

    The processes of Hasbara are appeal to emotion rather than rationality, and the use of sundry deceptive techniques. The purpose of Hasbara is twofold: to valorize Israel/zionism, and to denigrate all other beliefs, states, persons.

  7. Empty says:

    With all that is said and done, a well-developed hell is all that: a hell that is well developed. And frankly, those who think they care about this world are quite annoying to those of us who really do.

  8. Empty says:

    All of Kissinger’s talk could be summarized in this statement: “There’s no Chinese history that requires them to dominate the world. It requires them to be treated with respect by the world. So it’s impossible, I don’t know. But if we could do it and then if we can make others feel part of it, like India, then we will have brought about a really creative period.”

    In other words, if you can’t beat them, join them. In this case, if you can’t beat them, have them join you. If it is not part of their collective thinking, then see how you can make it so. That’s what is “really creative” about his whole argument. I ask, what is so creative about finding new ways to exact pain and injustice on the people of the world? What is so creative about finding even more conning ways to gobble up more resources of the world and for what? A decade or two more of mindless and meaningless power and extending subjugation of more nations?

    و مکروا و مکرالله و الله خیر المکرین….And they planned to deceive and God planned to deceive them in return. Indeed God is the best in the game.

    **All translations are interpretation by design.***

  9. Kathleen says:

    I thought Ahmadinejad issues with the Holocaust are the numbers of dead? The count Open records? I mean he obviously says some things that are unnecessary and inflammatory but no more or less than Israeli and U.S. leaders.

    While the Holocaust was more horrific than any words can describe it has always bothered me that in the U.S. media, news, documentaries that it is only the 6 million Jews who are mentioned. Not the 3 millions Poles, Gypsies etc. Those folks just seem to be swept under the rug in the U.S. media.

    And it is just so sad that those numbers keep being repeated and our MSM barely whispers about the dead, injured and millions displaced in Iraq as a direct result of our invasion. Sad, telling and oh so brutal

  10. Rd. says:

    If there ever was an strategic desire between china and russia,would this effort with china, re-orient the Chinese? first it was the reset with russia, once done, then a 180 and re-set with china. so is russia the odd man out?

    there are some very strange bed fellows going around.

    CHARLIE ROSE: What would it take to get the Chinese to be more supportive
    of our efforts to restrain the Iranian develop of nuclear weapons capacity?

    HENRY KISSINGER: You can’t do what I’ve just said on currency that’s in a
    field in which you can give some members reciprocity. And what we have not
    had with China when we started out, and I’m not saying this to say we did
    it better. We were in the fortunate position from that point of view that
    there were no day-to-day relations going on with China at all. So the only
    things that we could talk about were important structural things of global
    politics. There was nothing else to talk about. So we talked like
    university professors in five or six meetings.

    We ought to go back to that in part to really discuss with each other where
    do we think the world is going over the next three years. This isn’t just
    a way for the American to get control of the energy in the region and
    blackmail everybody else and covertly for the Chinese to be acceptable to a
    Muslim world which might become victorious, which is sort of in the back of
    everybody’s mind today.

    When Hillary had to ask for sanctions, we’re talking very short term
    politics. Now, is it possible to go back to the sort of discussions, and
    I’m not just talking when we were in the Carter administration with
    Brzezinski and strategic dialogue was very similar, and that got us all
    through the first 10 years of the relationship.

    Since then we have both become, after the turn of the century, we’ve become
    great powers dealing with each other like traditional great powers. So the
    perspective has been cultural. So what we ought to do with a strategic
    dialogue. And maybe one has to do more attractive things in the new
    situation when the top people are so busy.

    But I do believe the Chinese are strategic thinkers. And the Chinese are
    not world dominators. There’s no Chinese history that requires them to
    dominate the world. It requires them to be treated with respect by the
    world.

    So it’s impossible, I don’t know. But if we could do it and then if we can
    make others feel part of it, like India, then we will have brought about a
    really creative period. And if you ask yourself — people always say
    Britain and Germany. What if Britain and Germany in 1905 had known what
    the world would look like in 1920, what might they have modified of their
    behavior to each other? So just confronting a rising country by itself
    doesn’t get you anywhere. So this is the path we have to find.

    CHARLIE ROSE: On that historical note, I thank you very much. It’s a
    pleasure to have you here.

  11. kooshy says:

    January 20, 2011

    As the United States prepares for the upcoming round of multilateral talks with Iran, it is imperative that the Obama Administration reinvigorate its diplomacy by pursuing engagement with Tehran more persistently, setting realistic objectives, and broadening the US-Iranian dialogue. Diplomacy is the only sustainable means of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, avoiding the dangerous folly of military confrontation in the Middle East, and enabling progress in other critical areas of US interest, such as Afghanistan and the human rights situation within Iran.

    Reinvigorating diplomacy means seeking to engage Iran more persistently. The upcoming Istanbul meeting is only the fourth meeting on the nuclear issue involving both the United States and Iran, and no breakthrough can be expected without additional talks. Fortunately, time exists to pursue a diplomatic solution. Both US and Israeli officials have made public statements recently acknowledging that Iran remains years away from having the capability to construct a nuclear weapon.

    Reinvigorating diplomacy also means pursuing realistic objectives. Unrealistic outcomes, such as insisting that Iran cease uranium enrichment entirely, however desirable, must be set aside. Focus should instead be placed on establishing monitoring and verification mechanisms that can ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is, indeed, used solely for peaceful purposes. Secretary Clinton stated in December that the United States would be prepared to recognize a peaceful enrichment program on Iranian soil. This is a productive step to achieve a satisfactory compromise for which the Administration should be commended.

    Finally, reinvigorating diplomacy means addressing issues with Iran beyond the nuclear file. Tehran presents challenges and opportunities in many other areas of importance to US national security, including the stability of Afghanistan and Iraq, drug trafficking, and the human rights situation in Iran itself. The US should seek common ground in all areas of interest and not hold progress in one area hostage to resolution of others. Indeed, progress on human rights or Afghanistan may create a better climate for progress on the nuclear issue. The US engagement agenda must be expanded to reflect this.

    Diplomacy with Iran will not be easy and no quick fixes should be expected. Iran must also negotiate in earnest and make the serious compromises necessary for resolution of the nuclear issue. The concerns of the IAEA, the P5+1, and the international community more broadly must be addressed by Iran on the basis of transparency and cooperation. Resolving decades of enmity between the US and Iran will require that both sides work to create openings for successful engagement.

    Only reinvigorated diplomacy holds the promise of bridging the many divides between the US and Iran and achieving a sustainable solution that prevents a disastrous military confrontation, prevents an Iranian bomb and the additional proliferation that would follow, and protects the human rights of the Iranian people.

    Signed,

    Barry Blechman, co-founder, the Stimson Center
    Professor Juan Cole, University of Michigan
    Sir Richard Dalton, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London; Former British Ambassador to Iran
    Debra DeLee, President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now
    Jonathan W. Evans, Legislative Representative for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
    Professor Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii
    Chas W. Freeman, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and President, Middle East Policy Council
    Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, Jr., (USA, Ret.) Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
    Col. Sam Gardiner, United States Air Force, Retired
    Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
    Amb. John Limbert, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
    Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director, United4Iran
    Paul Kawika Martin, Policy Director, Peace Action
    Stephen McInerney, Executive Director, Project on Middle East Democracy
    Robert Naiman, Executive Director, Just Foreign Policy
    Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council
    Bruno Pellaud, Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
    Professor Paul Pillar, Georgetown University
    John Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action West
    Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
    Professor Gary Sick, Columbia University
    Professor John Tirman, Executive Director and Principal Research Scientist, MIT Center for International Studies

  12. Rehmat says:

    Rd. – What you want to learn about Henry Kissinger – a war criminal aganist humanity and Muslims OR a Jew-hating Zionist Jew?

    The notorious Wikileaks which is full of crap about the Muslim world – mentions very little on US-Israel relationship. For example, it doesn’t mention Zionist Jewish Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, in Richard Nixon’s administration – saying: “If they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.”

    Kissinger’s remarks come after a meeting between Nixon, Kissinger and former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir on March 1, 1973, in which Meir pleaded for US pressure on the Soviet Union to release its Jews ……

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/kissinger-gassing-of-jews-not-a-us-problem/

  13. Rd. says:

    Any comments on Kissinger’s talk with Charlie Rose?

    Any reason why Hu ends US visit in Chicago? anyone in particular he had to pay homage to?

    So the big K made references a couple of times to the brits and germans in 1905. If they knew what to expect, would they have considered other alternatives?

    His main point “seemed” to be, china should not be regarded as adversary. A war between two giants is not [profitable] (war on smaller states is ok). His coded remarks seemed to indicate, let the wall street bankers and their backers get a hold of china, then we don’t have to worry about them or their military [while there is time]. That would create an all new and improved world order. With two giants divvying up the goodies.

    At the very end Rose asked “What about the Iranian nuclear [pause] weapon’s capability aspiration”. K’s lengthy response never once mentioned anything about Iran, but referenced the brits and Germans in 1905 and finished by saying you don’t want to antagonize a rising power (china) and you don’t want to lay down for them (can’t recall the exact phrase), while mentioning US can’t hold the ME resources for herself.

    hopefully RFI would have their analysis on that talk.

  14. Empty says:

    Size matters. And it matters a lot. So we have been led to believe. We have been conditioned to think that more is better than less. Big is better than small. Tall is better than short. A lot is better than a few. We are sold products to get things look bigger and bigger because we think bigger is better. We believe these things because a lot of money goes into making us believe these things. It’s a reinforcing loop. Cities, states, and countries compete to get really really big buildings. They compete to build really really long range missiles. The longer, the better. The whole damn planet has turned into a big backyard after a snowy night and a whole lot of pissing contests [my apologies to delicate ears and eyes]. Don’t even get me started on those erected buildings injected with architectural Viagras [again, my apologies to sensitive eyes and ears]. It is within this mindset that we’re fed the line that the one with more bombs will unequivocally win over the one with a few or none. It is also within this mindset that when a nation provides an alternative view, no one believes or cares to believe her. چون ندیدند حقیقت ره افسانه زدند….

    We believe these things because the evidence showing otherwise is suppressed. And we believe these things because the evidence corroborating them is exaggerated. Severely exaggerated. They don’t show, for example, all the tiny little things with which we’re surrounded as they are. Even with germs, which everyone knows they are so tiny you can’t see with naked eyes, they show them as these giant green toothy stuff. Because surely, a giant sturdy massive man or woman couldn’t possibly be overwhelmed by tiny little creatures. When I was growing up, my father used to tell me (especially during those mosquito-bite-filled summer nights) that God created mosquitoes to keep humans humble. So, that brings me to numbers, sizes, and ratios and tiny needles to prick the over-inflated egos:

    ~The ratio of an average Anopheles Mosquito to an average human = 2.5mg/75kg OR 33:1,000,000,000

    ~The ratio of a single HIV string to an average human = 5 micron/1.8 meters = 0.000000508/1.8 OR 2.8:10,000,000

    ~The ratio of a tiny pebble under the foot inside a shoe to an average human = 1mm/1.8 meters OR 1:556

    ~The ratio of an average bee to an average human about to go into an anaphylactic shock = 90 mg/75kg OR 1:1200000

    ~The ratio of a dust particle snuck into an average eye to an average human = 0.01mm/1.8 meters OR 1:55600

    ~The ratio of per capita $ amount spent by Cuba to have the same outcome in infant mortality to that of the U.S. compared to the U.S. expenditure = $363/$6096 OR 1:17

    ~The ratio of the size of a jalapeno pepper to an average human the next day after a spicy meal = 1.09 oz/75kg OR 1:4001 فلفل نبین چه ریزه….بشکن ببین چه تیزه

  15. Arnold,

    I won’t have time until the weekend to respond in detail to your recent posts, which is a measure of how impressive I find them. But in the meantime, to make my job even tougher, I’d like to hear more about this:

    “There are other things Iran can do to deter a US attack after the easiest US troops are gone but these scenarios are far enough off that I haven’t thought about what the next deterrent should be. It’ll come into view between when the US give real indications that it is leaving and when US is actually gone.”

    I appreciate your candor in acknowledging that you haven’t thought this far ahead. But you have the luxury of time here. Can you give some thought to how well your approach will work if US troops are largely out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Or even before then if, just before a US attack, the US generals do what I expect they’d do: temporarily shift some troops out of range; concentrate some troops in fortified locations; disperse the others among the native populations, especially in cities.

    As this comment suggests, I question your reliance on an assumption that “tens of thousands” of US troops in the area could be killed by an Iranian response may be a bit too hopeful. Unless Iran is willing to bomb, say, downtown Baghdad or Kabul, I think the number of US troops presently stationed in the Middle East who would be in danger from a US attack is quite low — far too low to play the significant part you believe that factor would play in a US decision whether to attack Iran. Even if I’m incorrect about that, you’ve already acknowledged you agree that that factor won’t matter once the US troops have largely left. All you offer for that time frame is confidence that you’ll think of some new plan in the meantime.

    I’d like to hear some of your advance thinking on these matters.

  16. Empty says:

    Fiorangela,
    RE: your January 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm about myths, mythos, and stories….
    I understand what you mean.

  17. Interesting point made here:

    In Detailing ‘Threat’ WikiLeaks Cable Underscores Iran’s Lack of Weapons Interest
    Iran Could Have Made Nuclear Weapons in 2009, But Didn’t
    :http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/20/in-detailing-threat-wikileaks-cable-underscores-irans-lack-of-weapons-interest/

  18. Rehmat says:

    Richard Steven Hack – I bet even if Iranian convert in mass to Judaism but refuse to recognize the Israel and keep supporting Hamas and Hizbullah – The Zionis-Mafia will find some other excuses to excuse Iran of a “threat to the very existence of the illegal Zionist regime”.

    For example….

    9/11, Ahmadinejad and the Skunk
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/911-ahmadinejad-and-the-skunk/

  19. Rehmat says:

    Dan Cooper – I had read similar stupid allegations about Pakistan’s nuclear program from pro-Israeli media. I would not be surprised to read in the future that Ahmadinejad being a “self-hating Jew” wrote the Ten Commandment!!!

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/ahmadinejad-from-jewish-to-taliban-supporter/

  20. Dan Cooper says:

    Operation Merlin

    CIA Gave Iran Nuclear Blueprints?

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27300.htm

    The Justice Department on Thursday charged a former CIA clandestine officer with leaking classified information about a secret U.S. effort to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen.

    Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, who served in the CIA between 1993 and 2002, was arrested by the FBI in St. Louis Thursday and charged in a 10-count indictment with disclosing national defense information and obstruction of justice. At his arraignment later in the day, U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry I. Adelman told him he would be detained through the weekend because the government had declared him a danger to the community. Another detention hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.

    The case involves the disclosure in Risen’s 2006 book, “State of War,” of a CIA program called “Operation Merlin.” Risen described it as a botched attempt under the Clinton administration to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program by giving flawed blueprints for key components to a Russian nuclear scientist who had defected. The idea was that the Russian scientist, who was covertly working for the CIA, would feed the flawed designs to the Iranians. But according to the book, the CIA’s efforts went awry when the scientist got nervous and instead tipped off the Iranians to the flaws in the designs. According to Risen, this ended up helping Iran “accelerate its weapon development.” The CIA has always insisted that Risen’s reporting was “inaccurate.”

    The indictment essentially charges Sterling with leaking to Risen information about the Iranian program in retaliation for the handling of an employment discrimination case he filed against the CIA. It states that Sterling, who worked in the CIA between May 1993 and January 2002, had served for part of that time as the chief operations officer handling a “human asset” in a program related to the weapons capabilities of a foreign country.

    Then in April 2003, according to the indictment, Risen contacted the CIA’s public affairs director to say that he planned to write a story about the classified program. That prompted U.S. government officials to meet with Risen and representatives of the Times about the “national security implications” of publishing such information. The Times never published Risen’s story. A senior government official familiar with the case told NBC that Condoleezza Rice, then national security advisor under President George W. Bush, was among those who urged the Times not to publish Risen’s information.

  21. Arnold: “But Iran being where Japan is, if there is no better deterrent, would prevent US or Israeli provocations that Iran being where Jordan is would not.”

    While that statement as stated is true, it’s irrelevant since neither being where Japan is nor being where Jordan is will ever stop the US – let alone Israel – from engaging in provocations. “if there is no better deterrent” is the problem – Iran has no effective deterrent. You believe they do in the bodies of US personnel in the region, and we must agree to disagree on that.

    “I agree with Iran’s leaders and disagree with you.”

    I think Iran’s leaders agree with me more than you OR Eric, i.e., that they have no real deterrent and that nukes would be no deterrent.

    “No, Iran ratifying the AP would not change the US’ or Russia’s calculations regarding Iran’s nuclear program…No, Iran ratifying the AP would not change China’s calculations regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”

    Agreed.

    “What Iran should do is maintain, one way or another, an ability to kill a sufficient number of US personnel if it is attacked. As long as this is the case, the US is not going to attack.”

    Again, we agree to disagree.

    “There are other things Iran can do to deter a US attack after the easiest US troops are gone but these scenarios are far enough off that I haven’t thought about what the next deterrent should be. It’ll come into view between when the US give real indications that it is leaving and when US is actually gone.”

    The first problem, which is unrelated to your argument, is whether US personnel will EVER be gone from Iraq or Afghanistan, regardless of agreements to be negotiated in the coming years.

    Despite the assumption that Iraq is a done deal and the US will be gone by end of 2011, there’s serious concerns that it may not happen, regardless of al-Sadr’s demands. al-Sadr has been demanding for years, and it hasn’t happened yet. And even IF the entire Shia and Sunni forces are turned against the US, my expectation is that the US will simply try to re-occupy Iraq and beat them down again. The excuse will be that they beat Saddam, they can beat these guys. As long as the resulting war generates more profits for the corporations and medals for the generals, I don’t see how that prevents the US from TRYING even if they lose and lose badly in the end (which they probably will.)

    This is even more true of Afghanistan where there really is no real threat against US forces there. The likelihood of EVERY Afghan turning against the US in an effective insurgency that actually DEFEATS US forces there is highly unlikely. Instead that war will drag on and on for another ten years – clearly that’s the plan on all fronts from the Pentagon to the White House.

    And as I’ve said before, IF Obama is serious about getting out of Afghanistan – and every indication is that he is NOT – ratcheting up a war with Iran is the best excuse.

    The second problem is that if they do leave, once gone, they can be redeployed against Iran easily enough. If Iraq won’t invite them in – say, the Kurds in exchange for pressure on Turkey – the Saudis will or the UAE or some other US client state in the region, like Pakistan or Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan – even Turkey is possible if pressured. And even if ground troops can’t be delivered, the US can run an entire air war for months or years from the UAE and other air bases in the region and the US Navy in the Gulf.

    Personally, though, I view the difficulty of engaging ground troops against Iran as Iran’s biggest military deterrent – not a real deterrent against an attack, but it does complicate matters once the war goes to hell and the air war is proven to be inadequate despite the destruction it will inflict on Iran.

    Which is why I am convinced the US WILL maintain massive bases in Iraq and Afghanistan from which they can deploy against Iran, regardless of what the governments or the people in those countries want. Since a war against Iran is by definition going to be much bigger than the Iraq war, the US will prepare to deal with Iraq as well if Iraq dissolves into a huge insurgency. I’m sure that’s been gamed in the Pentagon.

    Beyond that, since I don’t see ANY (effective) Iranian deterrent NOW against a US attack – and by “effective”, I don’t mean effective against US forces in the region, I mean effective against the US ELITES ORDERING THE ATTACK – I doubt we’ll see any new deterrents arising any time in the future – even including the actual deployment of several nuclear weapons, which in my view would just hasten the attack.

    As an aside, I just got back from watching “Fair Game”, the movie about the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Worth watching for the performances by Sean Penn as Ambassador Joe Wilson and Naomi Watts as Plame, but also for reminders from the movie showing clips of Bush and Cheney and Rice just how corrupt the Iraq war was. Nothing has changed in the US since then. The same corrupt people run the US – and they care absolutely nothing about US military lives or the US taxpayer any more than they did in Bush’s time. Why should they? Once again, they will pay no price whatever for an Iran war.

  22. Eric: Let’s look at your three “options” in more detail.

    “1. Agree to observe the AP. That would persuade the US to change its mind.”

    I’ve already dismissed that if by “agree to observe the AP” you mean – and you do, of course – UNILATERALLY without asking for any concession by the US that enrichment is legal. The second sentence is speculative to the point of absurdity.

    “2. Do nothing, since nothing Iran could possibly do will change the US’ mind.”

    Here the latter clause is true, but the former is not. It is not “doing nothing” to demand the US acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich in exchange for ratifying the AP. I’d go further and ask for the sanctions to be lifted as well and a statement by the US that it will never attack Iran absent military aggression BY Iran (and that doesn’t include supplying arms to Hizballah or Hamas) or actual deployment of nuclear weapons (the latter condition would be a sop to the US press allowing Obama to still claim that “all options are on the table” IF Iran ever HAD nuclear weapons.)

    “3. Do something that might induce other powerful countries to reduce their support for the US against Iran”

    Obviously not. Since Russia and China have not and will not do so, at least not for the reasons of Iranian behavior but rather for their own negotiations on other matters with the US, this is a moot point anyway. Clearly you expected Arnold to suggest Iran going full tilt for the “Japan Option”, which is never going to stop Russia and China from backing Iran against the US, regardless of Mr. Canning’s notion that enriching to 20% was the reason for Russian support for the last round of sanctions. That’s never been established as true.

  23. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    If the US were to make an “extreme provocation,” presumably it would be doing even more to thwart Iran’s efforts to make a bomb; we can agree on that.

    Not sure what you mean by that. Today the cost of an extreme provocation would be thousands, maybe tens of thousands of US lives lost in the neighboring countries. I don’t know what more the US could be doing against Iran than it is doing today, unless it wants full-on war with Iran. The US is acting much more provocatively since 2010 than I ever would have expected, and may pay a price for that.

    Years from now, maybe decades from now, after the situation has settled in Iraq and Afghanistan, who knows what idea can get into whose head in the US. But Iran being where Japan is, if there is no better deterrent, would prevent US or Israeli provocations that Iran being where Jordan is would not.

    You’re arguing that Iran should stay where Jordan is. So that just in case, Israel and the US have the flexibility to attack if they feel the need, knowing that Iran could not, afterwards build a weapon to respond. I agree with Iran’s leaders and disagree with you.

    [(Paraaphrasing) What should Iran do, should it implement the AP to get Russia and China on its side?]

    The US offered that it would cancel or at least postpone plans to extend the US missile defense system into Poland to Russia’s border, which would have jeopardized MAD and potentially eventually put Russia at a strategic disadvantage. In exchange for this postponement, Russia is cooperating more against Iran’s nuclear program.

    No, Iran ratifying the AP would not change the US’ or Russia’s calculations regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

    China was threatened with US action over its exchange rate policies. China’s project of industrialization, which is bringing more people out of poverty more quickly than has ever before been done in history, and which benefits multiples more Chinese people than Iran’s entire population.

    No, Iran ratifying the AP would not change China’s calculations regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

    [What should Iran do to change the US' behavior]

    For now, Iran can take US hostility as given. FYI’s statements that the US and Iran are settling into a more or less stable cold war are about correct.

    What Iran should do is maintain, one way or another, an ability to kill a sufficient number of US personnel if it is attacked. As long as this is the case, the US is not going to attack. There are other things Iran can do to deter a US attack after the easiest US troops are gone but these scenarios are far enough off that I haven’t thought about what the next deterrent should be. It’ll come into view between when the US give real indications that it is leaving and when US is actually gone.

  24. Humanist says:

    Holocaust? (the word that has been used in this thread more than 100 times). No matter how different commentators interpret it, the event is an unforgettable wound on the soul of humanity (which is yet to be healed?).

    On that topic: Anyone here has read “The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia 1917-1919″? The book is the result of research by M.G. Majd using the declassified US archives.

    That is the story of a horrible Genocide. At that time (a decade after oil was discovered in Iran) about HALF of Iranians died from STARVATION when the British were occupying the country and when the population of Iran was estimated to be about 20 million.

    Read and find out who were responsible for such a grand tragedy (domestic elements? Foreigner? Or both?).
    Read and find out how British were regarding Iranians so contemptuously (one of them believed THEY are worse than animals), and how attempts to get or import wheat were (deliberately) sabotaged.
    Read and find out how Americans were spending money there to ease the pain of Iranians.

    Read the book if you want to know about a forgotten Holocaust that had between 8 to 10 million victims

  25. Off topic, but relevant:

    Saudi Arabia Abandons Lebanon Talks
    :http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/19/saudi-arabia-abandons-lebanon-talks/

    The Saudis and Syria had a deal, but Hariri vetoed it – under US pressure. So clearly the US intends the Lebanese situation to get worse, not better – and obviously for the benefit of Israel.

    Still not sure what the endgame is going to be – or even if there is one. Especially given this piece which indicates Hariri now has even more problems:

    Leaks throw dirt on Hariri’s coffin
    :http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MA21Ak02.html

  26. US Threatens More Iran Sanctions on Eve of Istanbul Talks
    :http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/19/us-threatens-more-iran-sanctions-on-eve-of-istanbul-talks/

    What part of “negotiation” doesn’t Clinton get? (Hint: None of it – from Hillary “Obliterate Iran” Clinton.)

  27. Persian Gulf says:

    nahid says:
    January 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    thanks for the link.
    البته این روش استقبال روزیاد قبولش ندارم ولی نمی چرا منم مثل یکی دوستام هر روز که میگذره ارادتم به محمود بیشتر می شه.

    Love you Mahmoud!

  28. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    I was just looking up some reference material on holocaust on Wikipedia, and who do you think is the leading holocaust denier? Our friend Mahmoud of course. Top of the list. The grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke weighs in at 11th.
    Demonization is complete when it come to Mahmoud! One doesn’t have to look far.
    I found this review by John Tyndall on holocaust industry by Dr. Finkelstein titled The “Holocaust” has become a Racket interesting:
    http://www.spearhead.com/0007-jt2.html

  29. Fiorangela says:

    American tax dollars at work

    (maybe not exactly, but money is fungible.) Why is the US subsidizing this state?

    “another controversy is surrounding this man. It involves his property. Supposedly, Galant exploited connections in the Israel Land Administration in order to annex public land to his estate. It is also claimed that he illegally paved two paths leading to his house. In an interview, Galant’s wife Claudine claimed that these paths were necessary as escape routes in case of a terrorist attack on their home.

    It hasn’t been determined yet whether Galant truly is to be blamed for illegal activities, but even that is not the scandal we are gathered here to discuss. That scandal would be the house itself. Even if we assume that this house and its grounds are flawlessly legal, and that the red arrows drawn by Haaretz, resembling a battle plan, are indeed meaningless. There’s still a lot to be learned from this image.

    This is Israel, not California. Houses such as Galant’s are not common here, to say the least. Even Israel’s wealthiest suburban communities, such as Kfar Shmaryahu and Herzliya Pituach, both north of Tel Aviv, are mostly made up of massive villas situated on relatively small plots of land. Galant’s house, in a moshav on the Carmel highlands, is outrageous by Israeli standards. Galant is not a businessman; he is supposed to be an army man, a public servant. What is the meaning of this?

  30. Fiorangela says:

    RSH, True, by its nature zionism is NOT a peace-seeking movement; Ilan Pappe says as much in every speech he delivers, and the activities and words of Vladimir Jabotinsky and David Ben Gurion, especially, make it crystal clear that zionist Israel was conceived to be a militaristic state; as Herzl wrote in Der Judenstaat: “The Maccabeans will rise again.”

    But the Maccabeans were a minority group that riled the Roman army to the point that the Romans crushed the rebellion, destroyed Herod’s temple, and closed off Jerusalem (just Jerusalem, NOT all of the Levant — Jews were NOT expelled from the land, they were forbidden to enter Jerusalem except for one day each year). Jewish history has numerous instances of Jew vs Jew conflict that resulted in harm to Jews as well as harm to non-Jewish people in the environs.

    Today there are minority Jewish groups forming that call themselves, “post-zionist.” Like Gertrude Stein, who rejected zionism in 1920, more and more Jews, especially young, American Jews, are vocally rejecting zionism and Israel’s hateful behavior, AND the attempts of zionist Israel to include ALL Jews as party to the zionist project. J Street straddles the fence, unable to commit to “post-zionism.” Jewish Voice for Peace is vocally anti-zionist, and an active participant in peaceful protests in Palestine and in BDS (Boycott Divest Sanction) activities in the US.

  31. Fiorangela: J Street represents itself in the letter as a “pro-Israel, pro-peace movement”.

    That is a contradiction in terms since one cannot be pro-Israel and pro-peace at the same time – because the nature of Israel is imperialism. If one supports Israel, one supports war and aggression by definition. That is how Israel came to be, how it sustains itself, and what its goals were from the beginning.

    Contrary to what many US citizens, even those who are not Jewish, believe the Israeli STATE really does NOT have a “right to exist”. That is entirely different from whether the Jews IN Israel at the moment – aside from the corrupt Zionist leaders – have a “right to exist”. The two propositions are not identical in terms.

  32. Eric: “As you consider my question in the preceding post, I’ll offer a few possibilities:

    1. Agree to observe the AP. That would persuade the US to change its mind.
    2. Do nothing, since nothing Iran could possibly do will change the US’ mind.
    3. Do something that might induce other powerful countries to reduce their support for the US against Iran”

    Predispose much?

    Obviously I would kick out all three options since none of them are true as stated.

  33. Kooshy: From the Guardian article you reference: “Not all western governments share the US conclusion, but if true it suggests international sanctions have failed to deny Iran the know-how required to make a nuclear bomb.”

    First, notice that this is just a US accusation, not necessarily a fact. However, whether true or not, it is irrelevant for the reason below.

    Second, the continued statement makes no sense whatsoever. There was NEVER a possibility that Western sanctions could deny Iran the knowledge of how to build a bomb – merely the possibility of delaying the actual construction of one. Iran has plenty of scientists and computers and access to open source knowledge of nuclear physics around the world – let alone North Korea – which obviously would enable them to design a nuclear weapon at any time.

    Nuclear weapons are complicated in terms of the physics necessary to get a good yield vs a dud – as the North Koreans have discovered – but it doesn’t require anything more than the information in any nuclear physics textbook and the computers necessary to do the calculations of the shape of the nuclear trigger explosives and the timing necessary to bring the cores together at the right speed to generate an explosion vs a “nuclear flare”. It is the manufacturing of the components and the testing necessary to confirm that the COMPONENTS behave the way the CALCULATIONS SAY they should that is the hard part.

    But HOW to do it is not a problem. DOING it is the problem.

  34. Rehmat says:

    STL indictment on Rafik Hariri’s assassination is expected to be released to public by judge Daniel Fransen after six weeek. However, the World Jewish Congress has claimed (January 17, 2011) via its ‘insider mole’ that Rafik Hariri was assassinated by Hizbullah on the order of Iran’s Spiritual Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei.

    That’s what is called: “to kill two birds with one Jewish stone!”

    STL: The ‘Israeli Project’
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/stl-the-israeli-project/

  35. Rehmat says:

    Fiorangela – “I attend meetings of J Street every month or so. J Street calls itself a counterweight to AIPAC?

    I am at a loss to understand how could two Ziofacists could be against each other? Both AIPAC and J-Street are faces of the same Zionism coin.

    From J Street to Z Street

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/from-j-street-to-z-street/

  36. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Nearly 120 countries support the draft UNSC resolution the Arab countries want adopted by the SC (where the vote would likely be 14 in favor, with US opposed), condemning further illegal building for Jewish colonists in the West Bank. And what mention of this situation gets into US newspapers?

  37. Fiorangela says:

    Eric Brill wrote (to Arnold):

    “What do you think Iran has to offer the US that would make the US change its current behavior?”

    You’re walking along Michael Dukakis Alley, late at night, a beautiful woman on your arm, with whom you’ve just shared a lovely dinner, concert, and a brandy nightcap.

    The ally is dark, strewn with litter, and abandoned.

    Suddenly, three masked hoodlums appear out of a doorway. They display knives, they grab the beautiful lady, and demand your wallet.

    “What do you think you have to offer the hoodlums that would make them change their current behavior?”

    Would you offer to allow them to investigate the contents of the lady’s purse?
    Would you tell them, in your sternest voice, that you have a pistol in your pocket and you’re a black-belt?
    Would you shout loudly for help from the neighbors?
    Would you taunt them to show them you’re not afraid: “Yo mama’s comin’ up behind you, girlie girls, and she looks pissed.”

    PS. trick question. If you’re clever, you’ll press your ignition key, causing your car horn to sound and lights to flash. But pretend your car is as old as mine.

  38. Fiorangela says:

    I attend meetings of J Street every month or so. J Street calls itself a counterweight to AIPAC.

    Here’s an email I received today from J Street.
    While we debate what Iran should do to protect its people and preserve its sovereignty, J Street, the not-AIPAC Israel lobby, says that Obama should solve Israel’s problems. And do so without hurting any Israeli’s feelings. You’ll notice that J Street does not call on Israel to do anything, but J Street does call for the Jewish community to unite “in its shared commitment to Israel.”

    ___________________________________

    Fiorangela –

    The Middle East is simmering — and without bold American action, it may just boil over.

    In Israel, tectonic shifts are afoot as Ehud Barak leaves Israel’s Labor party and strengthens the Netanyahu government. A new Israeli left coalesces to combat anti-democratic moves in the Knesset targeting Israeli civil society and human rights groups, pleasantly surprising organizers with huge turnout at a Tel Aviv demonstration just days ago.

    The Palestinians — fed up with the lack of progress — take their cause to the United Nations, pushing a Security Council vote on the illegality of settlements that has put the Obama Administration on the hot seat. Lebanon and Tunisia are thrown into political chaos.

    Here at home, a new Congress threatens to fight any bold moves for peace the President makes. The Administration admits peace efforts are at a standstill and asks for new ideas.

    All these shifting winds point to a big change on the horizon. The status quo simply cannot hold any longer.

    Whether that change is another disastrous outbreak of violence or meaningful progress on peace depends in large part on what President Obama decides to do next — and also on how strongly we ask him to do the right thing.

    That’s why our movement needs to turn out in full force next month at J Street’s second national conference in Washington, DC. Together, we’ll encourage the Administration to capitalize on this moment of uncertainty with a bolder, more assertive American effort to resolve the conflict that marginalizes extremism and gets results. You won’t want to miss the largest gathering of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, especially at this critical time for Israel and the whole Middle East.

    Click here to learn more and to register for J Street’s national conference, February 26-March 1.

    Financial assistance is available to those who register early. Please click here to find out about financial assistance opportunities.

    Confirmed speakers at the conference include Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Naomi Chazan, President of the New Israel Fund and former member of Knesset, and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.

    The conference is called “Giving Voice to Our Values” because ***it’s time for us to come together as a community to reaffirm our shared commitment to Israel,*** and to our progressive values.

    We’ll also head up to Capitol Hill to tell our representatives in Washington why supporting a bolder effort by the Administration is so necessary to create lasting peace and security in the Middle East and advance American interests in the region.

    It’s often said the Middle East abhors a power vacuum.

    Now that American efforts are at a standstill as the Administration reassess its strategy, we’re starting to see the inklings of what a future without progress would look like. And it’s not pretty.

    That’s why our efforts at this moment could not be more important. Our community needs to make a huge show in Washington next month to urge the Obama Administration to fill the Middle East power vacuum before extremists do. Please join us to give voice to our values and urge a bolder, more assertive approach from the Administration on peace efforts.

    Click here to learn more and to register.

    We’ll be in touch,

    – Rachel

    Rachel Lerner
    V.P., J Street Education Fund
    January 20, 2011

    ———-

    J Street is the political home of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.

  39. Humanist says:

    Fiorangla

    In my teen days among other things I was captivated by the infinite variety of life forms on earth. At the time my family and teachers couldn’t convince me that god (a man residing in the seventh sky) was the creator of all the marvelous things that existed in universe. (marvelous? what bout a little kid who is suffering from extreme pains of cancer? is that also because of god’s will?)

    (I have to rush to say I try to be as open minded as a person can be and my atheism is by no means assertive to the degree of rejecting other beliefs. I always say who am I to say I am right and others are wrong)

    Later when I read and absorbed Darwin’s Natural Selection I was astounded realizing how he so convincingly and so beautifully had answered my teen time bewildering questions on life and living. Understanding Darwinism, through the teachings of Stephen Jay Gould and others, liberated me and took me to places I’d never seen. I remember my thought process riding amazing curves when I was reading profound statements such as “Nature is neither kind nor cruel” or “when we put a ball on top of a slope it rolls down, every living organism is like that ball only the shape of slope is harder to envisage” etc etc.

    What I tried to explain above is hard to describe in brief terms. Simply, I felt so liberated after understanding all that. Liberated and Free. From then on I couldn’t ‘hate’ anyone, even couldn’t hate the appalling Nazis. I could only resent their dreadful heinous actions.

    Briefly and simplistically I reached the conclusion whatever people do to others can fall in one of the three categories of neutral, constructive or destructive. Those who are physically healthy perpetrating destructive acts on others must be (sort of) mentally sick, since by crude interpretation of any logic similar to Prisoner’s Dilemma, by destruction, in a long run everybody loses in one way or another. (Prisoner’s Dilemma is an interesting topic in Logic 101)

    Now you can imagine how I feel about dehumanization. It is a deplorable crime. If we try to trace the source of those acts, most times we end up in mosques, churches or synagogues where the children are indoctrinated. Some of those children, by studying and understanding analytics escape from the influence of the dark ideas planted in their minds earlier but majority of children stay where they were in childhood and never mature.

    Evolution in the direction of usefulness, even in an elementary form of personal change or adapting new placid ideas is an attracting phenomenon indeed…for me it did wonders.

  40. Humanist says:

    Voice of Tehran, JohnH

    In June 2009 besides Leveretts there were other American insiders who tried to prove the laud trumpeting of “stolen election” was a big lie. Among them a few like Paul Craig Roberts, Daniel McAdams and Ray McGovern affably shine in the present dark political arenas. On June 19 Paul wrote an article where he showed the name of Green was concocted outside Iran by neocons where Kenneth Timmerman is one of their vicious foot soldiers.

    In the following I quote a segment that Paul wrote on June 19 :

    —-
    “…..Daniel McAdams has made some telling points. For example, neoconservative Kenneth Timmerman wrote the day before the election that “there’s talk of a ‘green revolution’ in Tehran.” How would Timmerman know that unless it was an orchestrated plan? Why would there be a ‘green revolution’ prepared prior to the vote, especially if Mousavi and his supporters were as confident of victory as they claim? This looks like definite evidence that the US is involved in the election protests.
    Timmerman goes on to write that “the National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars promoting ‘color’ revolutions . . . Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.”
    —-

    Ray McGovern (a former CIA analyst, who was the boss of Robert Gates?) revealed Mousavi and Karroubi had suspicious ties with foreign intelligence agencies. Also Ari Ben Menashe (an Israeli government insider) in his 1992 book entitled ‘Profits of War’ had disclosed that the CIA agent Manouchehr Ghorbanifar was a friend of Mousavi. I have found quite a few other believable indications that in the 2009 protests the foreigners were involved in full throttle to demonize, destabilize and de-legitimize Iran.

    In JonhH’s comment there is a link to an article by Ali Reza Eshraghi in Asia Time where I found dozens of fallacies (propagated intentional or otherwise). I sensed a blue and existential-nihilistic feeling when I read “The 2009 unrest was as spontaneous and unplanned as recent events in Tunis. But Green Movement leaders proved unprepared to take control of the protest mood or to direct the crowds in the streets”.

    It is alarming to witness still so many payed or unpayed stooges are trying to indoctrinate the gullible in believing ‘deliberate evil lies’ manufactured in organizations that brutal trickery and outright deception is the motto (or moral) of their appalling operations.

    I hope one day the current poisonous air will clear and powerful psychopathic warmongers permanently disappear from the scenes of our daily lives….else as Carl Sagan was fearing since we let the sick run our affairs they will drive us to the point when all lives will disappear from the surface of the earth forever.

  41. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    I continue to be amazed and appalled at the degree of control of American foreign policy exercised by Jews and stooges of the Jews. To be frank. Amazed and appalled. Ironically, I think this situation is bad for Israel, not just the US. And what is “anti-semitism” anyway? Criticism of Israel?

  42. Arnold,

    As you consider my question in the preceding post, I’ll offer a few possibilities:

    1. Agree to observe the AP. That would persuade the US to change its mind.

    2. Do nothing, since nothing Iran could possibly do will change the US’ mind.

    3. Do something that might induce other powerful countries to reduce their support for the US against Iran.

    If you’re considering #3 at all, consider also whether the first sentence of #1 (not the second sentence, just the first) might have some relevance to #3.

  43. Arnold,

    YOU WROTE:

    “[Iran should build an actual nuclear weapon] only for extreme provocations such as an attack on Iran by the US or Israel or the creation of what looks like an invasion force, or preparations for an invasion by the US in one of Iran’s neighbors….Of course, Israel wants the freedom… to be able [to] launch extremely provocative acts against the other countries in its region without any possibility of response.

    That’s what it means to prevent Iran from having a Japan option. I’m not sure you know that’s what you’ve been arguing in favor of, but it is. That is why the US is sanctioning Iran, why it financed Stuxnet and why the US today expends more of its diplomatic and strategic resources on preventing Iran from developing nuclear capabilities than it does on any other objective in the world.”

    COMMENT:

    If the US were to make an “extreme provocation,” presumably it would be doing even more to thwart Iran’s efforts to make a bomb; we can agree on that. We also agree that the US’ behavior toward Iran right now is unfair, and both of us would like to see it change.

    What do you think Iran has to offer the US that would make the US change its current behavior?

  44. Fiorangela says:

    kooshy, don’t tell my Mother, but I frequently burn the pasta –one-step Tahdig.
    On the other hand, I do pretty good eggplant fesenjan, and have never once burned it.

  45. Fiorangela says:

    Empty, the tales you and others tell us are valuable not just for the moral of the story but for the glimpse that they give us non-Iranians into the interior treasure trove that Iranians draw upon.

    Americans as an immigrant people have many diverse myths, tales, poetry, and parables that furnish our minds, but not an overarching mythos that we share. That’s one of the weaknesses of American culture, and one of the reasons zionism has been able to establish such a firm foothold in the American imagination: zionists insist to “Americans” that “we share values,” but Americans do not know are not permitted to ask exactly what zionist values are. Furthermore, Hispanic Americans, German Americans (until a few years ago, the second-largest ethnic-origin group in the US), African Americans and Irish Americans and Italian Americans, etc., really do not know what common tales, like yours, unite us as American Americans.

    And, James Canning @ 1:28, it’s not just “media” that makes of Holocaust a ‘secular religion.’ The US State Department has created The Office of the Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism whose reach is world-wide. If it illegitimate for Western “democracies” to criminalize free speech when the topic is Holocaust, is it any less illegitimate for the US State Department to create protections around one, special, group?

  46. kooshy says:

    Letter to FT

    No evidence Iran has N-weapons programme

    Published: January 20 2011 03:29 | Last updated: January 20 2011 03:29
    From Dr Yousaf Mahmood Butt.

    Sir, You say that the US has often appeared to be “standing helpless while Iran pushed ahead with its nuclear programme” (“The Iran dilemma”, Editorial, January 10). But you don’t mention the nature of this “programme”. Certainly, Iran has a uranium enrichment programme but this is not the same as a bomb factory. Uranium enrichment is useful for nuclear power as well as for nuclear weapons. Conflating an enrichment programme with weapons development – as virtually all of the western media now do on a regular basis – is misleading, dangerous and unhelpful.
    In fact, there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons development programme. The US’s director of national intelligence has said, at least twice, in the last year alone that “we do not know … if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons”.
    Every year, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has complied with its nuclear materials’ accountancy. There has never been any diversion of nuclear material into any putative weapons programme.
    The only “evidence” of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme is its refusal to grant the IAEA completely unfettered access to whatever facilities the IAEA would like to inspect. But since Iran has not ratified the “additional protocol” it has no obligation to open every door to the IAEA.
    Now we learn that the US may have collaborated with Israel in launching the Stuxnet cyberattack on Iran which has caused havoc with its enrichment facilities. If true, then the US is in contravention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, since it means it conspired with a non-NPT member (Israel) to deliberately harm the fuel enrichment facility of an NPT member state (Iran).
    Finally, although the UN Security Council has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, the UN Charter authorises such punishment only if the Security Council first determines that a “threat to the peace” exists, which it never has done.
    It would appear that, on the issue of Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment programme, virtually the entire western world has fallen through the rabbit hole.
    Yousaf Mahmood Butt,
    Cambridge, MA, US

  47. BiBiJon says:

    Fiorangela says:
    January 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm
    BiBiJon wrote: ” . . .Even if he were just throwing pasta at the ceiling to see if it sticks (i.e. cooked) ”

    Dear Fioragela,

    I swear I was thinking about you when I opted for the college boys-only-dorm technique of checking pasta, instead of just saying throw mud see if it sticks.

    Bless your mother’s heart that she would prepare pasta from scratch.

  48. Rehmat says:

    Fiorangela – With no disrespect to your mother’s story – real or from Hasbara Norebook – However, thanks to Ahmadinejad and Ayatullah Khamenei – Iranian by majority have found on whose faces they got throw hot pasta from the oven.

    That’s why they killed the US-Israel-British conceived Green Revolution long time ago. Lebanese are following the same – No more Cedar Revolution.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/the-color-revolutions-from-orange-to-green/

  49. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: January 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    What forces?

  50. kooshy says:

    BiBiJon wrote: ” . . .Even if he were just throwing pasta at the ceiling to see if it sticks (i.e. cooked) ”

    Fiorangela

    This may change your mind about the Iranians, since it could be an insult to the fine Italian culinary, but, any way If you ever see the way Iranians cook their pasta (Macaroni) you will notice that is guaranteed to stick.

    For your information, Many Iranians cook the pasta similar to how they cook their rice, that is they first boil the pasta in hot water once it comes to boil, next they drain the excess water and add the marinara sauce now it goes back to the same put to be further di humidify which in the bottom of the put it leaves a crusty pasta Tahdig.

  51. Rd. says:

    “Whether Obama or Palin is elected in 2012 almost seems irrelevant. Six more years of this and we will be finished as a nation, bankrupt and despised everywhere, our only legacy a network of seven hundred-plus military bases falling into ruin worldwide, meant to give us peace and prosperity but delivering on neither.” Giraldi
    ——————————————————–
    When I was a boy in the forties and fifties, we Americans effectively ruled the world. Militarily, economically politically our writ or will ran everywhere.
    Now we are the clients of a tiny ethno-religious country in the Middle East that lives on our government “dole” and the remittances of our citizens. We borrow from China to give our masters the money they order our Congress to provide. Israel is a collosal political failure in the Middle East. The symbol of their failure is the wall they have felt compelled to build between them and the “terrorists.” Nevertheless, we feel obliged to follow their desires in establishing our “national” policy in their region.
    Giraldi is a voice in the wilderness. pl

    The ship of American power is slowly sinking. Our masters dictate to us policies that are suicidal for them and more importantly for us.
    And then there is the stinking rotting albatross, Israel, to which we are wedded in a mutual suicide pact.

    “Well, Intel is investing $2.4B in Israel to upgrade its chip industry and most”

    —–

    Wonder how many countries around the world are willing to invest their security/economy on Intel based devices?

    The comment section is enlightening. The questions is, if these comments where to become more of general mainstream view in US, what would be the implications for those who consider themselves to be the “chosen”? There is a historical character flaw, hence the reason for making the same mistakes over and over!!! Quit pissing people off. Biting-off the hand that feeds you has consequences.

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2011/01/the-decline-to-a-fall.html

  52. BiBiJon says:

    fyi says:
    January 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    BiBiJon says: January 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I think your characterization of Mr. Ahamdinejad as a “bit player” is inaccurate.

    It is inaccurate as it casts his person and his presidency into insignificance.

    FYI,

    I appologize. I didn’t mean it that way. In addition to Dr. Ahmadinejad’s accomplishments which you correctly listed, I would add his taking on Mr Rafsanjani, and winning the election has considerably added to the heft of the office he occupies. That would be one his important legacies.

    I called him a bit player in a global context, in fact meaning that all individuals, Obama, Hu, etc. are bit players compared to the forces that confront their respective countrys’ futures. I was just finding the back-and-forth between Eric & Arnold a tad underwhelming.

  53. Fiorangela says:

    BiBiJon wrote: ” . . .Even if he were just throwing pasta at the ceiling to see if it sticks (i.e. cooked) ”

    and James Canning wrote, “When I was young, this sort of behavior was called impish.”

    If my Mother were alive and saw Ahmadinejad, or Netanyahu, or Obama, or me, or anyone, throwing her hand-made pasta at the ceiling, she would brandish her rolling pin and demand an accounting and an apology, not because she was “impish,” but because she valued her work, and would not tolerate that someone would disrespect her. Mother was not kowed by anybody, and was quite determined to hold her own, summoning all the skills that a sixth-grade education and a fascinating life had provided to her.

    I see some of my Mother in Ahmadinejad. One difference, though, is that my Mother lacked the sophistication to know when to stand back and let the pasta fall on the miscreant’s face. I think the Iranians have that figured out.

  54. Arnold Evans says:

    When it evaluates its position, what do you think its options will include?

    Iran has to make sure that the US knows a combination of 1) an attack on its facilities would not “work”, meaning after the attack Iran would be able to retain or rebuild its military capability in the more-or-less short term and 2) the US will be punished intolerably for any attack.

    I think today the presence of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the known ability of Iran to do a lot more to cause the deaths of US personnel in those countries than it is doing or has done means that as of today, the US presence, by itself deters any attack on Iran, nuclear facilities or anywhere else.

    I’ve seen other opinions that this is already not Iran’s most effective deterrent, but my feel is that it is.

    After the US troops leave Afghanistan, Iran will have to emphasize other ways it could harm the US in retaliation for an attack, for example the harder-to-reach US troops in other regional countries and/or it has to do more to ensure that an attack would not remove Iran’s short term nuclear capacity – I think specifically by putting its LEU stock into various better defended locations.

    But we’re years from that anyway.

    If you were asking should if I think Iran should go ahead and build a weapon when the US leaves Afghanistan, my own answer is that building an actual weapon is only for extreme provocations such as an attack on Iran by the US or Israel or the creation of what looks like an invasion force, or preparations for an invasion by the US in one of Iran’s neighbors.

    Iran should build a weapon under the same types of conditions that Japan, Brazil, Canada or the Netherlands would build a weapon. Only under conditions of extreme provocations.

    Of course, Israel wants the freedom, as it has with, for example, Egypt, Jordan or Saudi Arabia, to be able launch extremely provocative acts against the other countries in its region without any possibility of response.

    That’s what it means to prevent Iran from having a Japan option. I’m not sure you know that’s what you’ve been arguing in favor of, but it is. That is why the US is sanctioning Iran, why it financed Stuxnet and why the US today expends more of its diplomatic and strategic resources on preventing Iran from developing nuclear capabilities than it does on any other objective in the world.

    But if I’m right that the US presence in Afghanistan and Iraq prevents an attack, then when the US leaves Iran will measure its other assets to ensure that deterrent effect has been replaced.

  55. kooshy says:

    Arnold , thanks for the update , I do agree with you, this new cable, which was just revealed the day before this new round of negotiations, it could be either as Persians say,” set to block the wheel”, if there ever was one on the rail, or as you said to prepare the opinions for an eventual acceptance. We shall see. but did you notice the date 2009.

  56. Arnold,

    “It isn’t a revelation though that Iran understands how to make HEU. By the time the US is out of Afghanistan, Iran is going to have a good-sized stock of LEU and it will evaluate its position from there.”

    When it evaluates its position, what do you think its options will include?

  57. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: January 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I think your characterization of Mr. Ahamdinejad as a “bit player” is inaccurate.

    It is inaccurate as it casts his person and his presidency into insignificance.

    That is clearly unture.

    Consider: he was one man brave enough to taken-on the Shia Establishment by appointing female ministers, by advocating admission of women into sports stadia, and by stating publicly that his government did not support the activities of moral police.

    He did cut-off the hand of various aqazadehs from public funds.

    He did defend the legal rights of the President according to constitution of the Islamic Republic.

    He did ram through and put into effect the subsidy reform in his second term.

    In foreign policy he stood up for the Iran’s rights.

    He stood up to US, Israel, EU and assorted powers.

    He consistently portrayed and executed a positive vision of the future for Iran, the Middle East, and indeed the world – all under very difficult threat environment.

    He broke the taboo of having diplomatic relations with US and repeatedly offered to work with US (and others) on issues of mutual concern.

    US-EU Axis will rue his departure from the political scene for the next Iranian President will know, from the start, that he has no choice but to take an agressive and hostile posture towards US-EU Axis.

  58. BiBiJon says:

    James Canning says:
    January 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    “I agree with you take on Ahmadinejad’s motive in raising the Holocaust issue, and it seems clear to me he enjoys stirring up debate by making provocative comments. When I was young, this sort of behavior was called impish.”

    Impish is a good description, I agree. But, whether it is the fruit of his own cunning, or the mistakes of his nemeses, at times he seems ruthlessly calculating.

    Fortunately, we don’t need to dot every i, and cross every t when discussing Ahmadinejad. He is only a bit player in a very complex Iranian political system, which itself is but one part of a complex and changing regional dynamics, which in turn is only a part of global tectonic shifts that have accelerated as of late.

    So long as we don’t forget Ahmadinejad is only responding to massive global forces and regional currents entirely outside his control, almost any label will fit him on any given day.

  59. fyi says:

    Empty says: January 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Even if he and his advisors were aware of this, he had to attack US verbally on an issue over which US was (and has been) weak among Muslims and even many non-Muslims such as Armenians.

  60. Voice of Tehran says:

    Persian Gulf says:
    January 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Dear PG , I read your comment several times , I still cannot solve the ‘ riddle ‘.
    However this could be entirely my lack of understanding the deeper meaning of your words. You would do me a great favor to keep things ‘ simple ‘ .

  61. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Many things get “proven” in courts of law that in fact never happened. On the other hand, the historical record is well-established that at least 11 million Jews and non-Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War.

  62. Empty says:

    fyi,
    RE: “However, I doubt that he or advisors understood fully the ramifications of that approach.”

    Knowing what they know now and all that has happened in the past 5 years directly related to his statements about the holocaust, do you believe that he would have refrained from making those statements?

  63. Rehmat says:

    James Canning – Most of westerner are bombarded by Zionist lies and have no way to find out the truth.

    An educated person doesn’t have to believe that Roman murdered TWO BILLION JEWS because Jewish Talmud says that – OR that murdering of 72,000 innocent Iranian was a ‘defensive’ move because the Book of Esther say so.

    What Ahmadinejad said was that Zionists have to prove in a court of law (not the US, France, Germany or Israel) that Nazis did kill Six Million Jews. In fact the Holocaust Conference held in Tehran in December 2006 – six Rabbis who attended it agreed that Nazi could not have killed more than ONE MILLION Jews.

  64. Empty says:

    Persian Gulf,
    Re; your post on January 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm, would you not wish to say more? Because I think he has hit the nail on the head there, I’d be very interested to hear your critique (if you care to share, that is).

  65. Arnold Evans says:

    Kooshy:

    I’ve been ignoring wikileaks lately. But just checked. Sunday will be 8 weeks and it has not reached 1% of the documents released yet. My first conclusion, that a release would have potential to produce damaging revelations about US foreign policy, but that by giving the documents exclusively to mainstream western news organizations, wikileaks has been stupidly or naively maneuvered into not releasing anything damaging.

    Wikileaks claims it will adjust its release system over the coming weeks. I doubt it will.

    It isn’t a revelation though that Iran understands how to make HEU. By the time the US is out of Afghanistan, Iran is going to have a good-sized stock of LEU and it will evaluate its position from there.

    Western claims that Iran’s nuclear program have been slowed may, just may give Obama a rationale that will allow him to accept Iranian enrichment. On the other hand, I don’t see any pressure on the US right now to do so.

    So in short, there’s nothing new going on regarding the nuclear issue.

  66. James Canning says:

    I assume that Lavrov readily sees that Stuart Levey is a vicious little piece of sh*t. How are Iranian tribal rugs a “threat” to the west?

  67. James Canning says:

    Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said today he hopes the sanctions against Iran can be lifted after the upcoming P5+1 talks. I think the Russians see that the sanctions have little to do with a feared Iranian programme to build nukes, and very much to do with efforts to help Israel continue to steal Palestinian land, water etc etc in the West Bank.

  68. Liz says:

    kooshy,

    Dishonest and discredited people like Scott Lucas, who even lies about his own CV, will say anything to win a debate. Although, his absurd claims about cakes and drinks are racist, I feel sorry for him because he is such a failure.

  69. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    I find it interesting how many Americans, though well aware that “6 million Jews” were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War, are surprised to hear that nearly that many more millions of non-Jews were murdered in the same fashion at the same time. The narrative of the Holocause focuses almost entirely on the fate of European Jewry because it is intended to help “protect” Israel, right or wrong.

  70. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Good points. The Holocaust is a tenet of secular faith, in effect imposed by the media as part of an effort to “protect” Israel, by stifling discussion of what it is that Israel is up to.

  71. Rehmat says:

    fyi – “Mr. Ahmadinejad publicly stated as much; that he brought up Shoah and US support for Israel because of US threats to Iran at the time.”

    Ha, ha, ha, ha…..

    Why would Ahmadinejad or any Muslim leader need the racist “shoah” doctrine to confront USrael? Yes as the Israeli historian has claimed that Holocaust (Shoah) has become a new religion – now all the much larger Shoahs carried out by the Communist?Jewish leaders against Russian and Ukranian Christians or Turkish Crypto-Jewish leaders’ against Armenian – has become just “genocides”.

    I remember when Dr. Finkelstein in his book ‘The holocaust Industry” had quoted her mother (a Holocaust survivor) that Jews don’t have monopoly over Holocaust and that currently Palestinians are going through their Holocaust – The New York Times and other Israel-Firsters called Finkelstein “a self-hating Jew’ and ‘a bigot’.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/holocausts-too-many-to-remember/

  72. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    I agree with you take on Ahmadinejad’s motive in raising the Holocaust issue, and it seems clear to me he enjoys stirring up debate by making provocative comments. When I was young, this sort of behavior was called impish.

  73. Arnold Evans says:

    FYI:

    As far as I can tell, very many Americans, Canadians, and Europeans subscribe to a New Trinity: Rule of Law, Democracy, and Shoah.

    That is an interesting idea. In the Middle East itself, Shoah comes first, way before rule of law or democracy. We see conflicts between these concepts and we see how Westerners resolve those conflicts. For example, rule of law demands that Abbas’ PA presidential term is over. I won’t bore you with a whole lot more examples except to add that Shoah clearly is more important than democracy in the US colonies of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE.

    It may well be that you can forget the trinity idea and say there is a religion of the Shoah. Maybe I’m too close to see others, but that appears to me that Shoah and the related sanctity of Israel is the only religious belief secular Westerners subscribe to.

    I don’t believe that anti-Communism had the sacred characteristic that support for Israel and the Shoah have in the West. Nor was it as universally felt throughout the political system or beyond questioning as the Shoah is.

    But I am beginning to conclude that in the Western moral system, in some irrational, unexpressed and unexplainable way, to question the legitimacy of Israel is to question the Holocaust. Westerners will usually not even try to explain their belief in the sanctity of Israel, for example in light of its similarity as an historical project with Apartheid or try to reconcile their belief in the sanctity of Israel with their other purported beliefs, ideals and values.

    But at its core, the religious sanctity of Israel is tied in an important though not explicitly expressed way in the secular Western moral system to the sanctity of the Holocaust narrative.

  74. James Canning says:

    Dr. Yousaf Mahmoud Butt of Cambridge, Massachusetts has an excellent letter in the Financial Times today (Jan. 20th): “No evidence Iran has N-weapons programme”. Quote: “Conflating an enrichment programme with weapons development – - as virtually all of the western media now do on a regular basis – - is misleading, dangerous and unhelpful.”

  75. Persian Gulf says:

    Why China Does Capitalism Better than the U.S.

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2043235,00.html?hpt=T2

  76. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Certainly, the Holocaust narrative has become quasi-religious, as a tenet of “faith” in effect imposed on Western thought by relentless propaganda of the same sort that caused so many Americans to equate opposition to Israeli expansionism with “anti-semitism”.

  77. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    I don’t get the 10:39 post.

    You removed the third sentence, as you explained. I said you revised the statement to remove that sentence. So we agree, the third sentence has been removed by you.

    What are you taking issue with regarding that sentence or my saying you revised the statement to remove it?

  78. fyi says:

    Empty says: January 20, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Mr. Ahmadinejad publicly stated as much; that he brought up Shoah and US support for Israel because of US threats to Iran at the time.

    He raised the flag of Palestine and Islam.

    However, I doubt that he or advisors understood fully the ramifications of that approach.

    It is my belief that very many North Americans and Western Europeans have raised the destruction of the European Jewry (Shoah) to the level of a semi-religion. The verbal challenges of Mr. Ahmadinejad in this regard, immediately took the character of (semi-)religious attack on their core beliefs.

    As far as I can tell, very many Americans, Canadians, and Europeans subscribe to a New Trinity: Rule of Law, Deomcracy, and Shoah. In their view, as far as I can tell by the public pronouncements of their writers and thinkers, only Jews are entitled to have a religion or are justified (I suppose due to Shoa) so. The rest of us, be we Muslim, Christian (specially Catholic), Hindu, or Sikh, are just benighted fools that need to be converted – by force if necessary – to conform to their gods (Rule of Law, Democracy, Shoah).

    Yes Mr. Hack; this is still about religion.

  79. kooshy says:

    Liz

    I wonder if Scott through his inside Iran well informed reporters, can confirm that the Yazdi Cackes (Cake Yazdi) which was handed out in yesterday’ rallies in Yazd, was in fact supplied by the icon of the Yazd sweet bakers the legendary Haji khalifeh Ali Rahbar shop.

  80. Persian Gulf says:

    Voice of Tehran:

    http://irna.ir/NewsShow.aspx?NID=30197621

    خواستم یه چیزی بگم در این مورد بی خیال شدم گفتم یکسری اینجا ناراحت می شن! تو خود حدیث مفصل بخوان از این مجمل (جاهای دیگه ییغام می نویسیم حتی چاپ هم نمیشه. اینجا رو میدونم که چک می کنند حداقل به گوششون می رسه!)

  81. BiBiJon says:

    On the question of Ahmadinejad’s poor judgment regarding the Holocaust, I do not agree with Arnold’s comment:

    “There are two communication gaps between Ahmadinejad and Western audiences. There is a language gap and there is a cultural/religious gap. The cultural/religious gap is that the phrase “the Holocaust” just means something different to a person who was not raised in the West than it does to Ahmadinejad, apparently in ways that most Westerners are not consciously aware of.”

    Iranians for centuries have been exposed to western cultural/religious memes and products. Ahmadinejad has no shortage of advisors to tell him what will or will not get under a Westerner’s skin. Even if he were just throwing pasta at the ceiling to see if it sticks (i.e. cooked) then the frequency with which Western reporters bring up a particular topic would confirm for him he has hit on a particularly foundational meme. He cultivates notoriety because he calculates it is instrumental to his carving out space for Iran’s continued independence.

    Furthermore, Ahmadinejad uses the opportunity to play to that segment of Western society who may question the relevance of the Holocaust to be deserving of so much debate and air time – nauseating repetition is an effective way of diluting the emotional impact of any topic.

    Eric’s entire argument is based on a conjecture that Ahmadinejad’s ONLY purpose is to highlight the wrongful mistreatment of Palestinians. It would be interesting to find out how Eric knows this.

    As Maverick says:
    “whatever position Ahmadnijad takes on the Holocaust, nobody can accuse him of actually causing it or being a part of it. It takes a lot to either start a genocide of that magnitude or to stop it.”

    I would also add, that nobody can deny that during World War II, the Iranian government of a predominantly Shia’ Muslim country saved the lives of the 150,000 Iranian-Jews by convincing Nazi ‘race experts’ that they were fully assimilated and Iranian diplomats throughout Europe readily issued visas to European-Jews, facilitating their escape from the Nazi killing machine.

    Nor is it possible to refute Roger Cohen’s observation that “the reality of Iranian civility toward [Iranian] Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric.”

    I could not say it any better than Liz who said :
    “President Ahmadinejad’s questions about the holocaust were made to show an example of how freedom of speech in specific areas is severely limited in western countries. He also shows that while you can choose any narrative about Islam and Muslims, for example, in the west and get away with it, when it comes to western accepted narratives there is no tolerance.”

    RSH’s valid points is well worth repeating:
    [Ahmadinejad] can’t refer to the historical justification for Zionism and Israel WITHOUT mentioning The Holocaust – and therefore he cannot follow your prescription not to talk about it. I might agree that he probably shouldn’t bother discussing the historical accuracy of the concept since it is peripheral to his main point. But that doesn’t matter – because the instant he compares the Holocaust to the Nakba, the media is going to spin him as anti-Semitic.
    So he might as well talk as he does. He’s going to be demonized either way and he knows it. Everything he says is spun incorrectly, including his “off the map” reference and his comments on 9/11. There’s no way he’ll ever be quoted correctly in the Western media.

    I find Empty’s take to be spot on:
    “If one believes, as most Iranians seem to believe, that a psychological war is going on between Iran and the U.S., Israel, and their most ardent admirers that goes beyond all other technological, economic, covert, and overt operations, then, one must evaluate Ahmadinejad’s statements about the holocaust and the like as a strategic and appropriate tool at the time of war. If viewed in that light, then one can easily see the strategic benefits of his statements have surpassed their costs by a wide margin. Just to be clear, I have not seen any evidence that he has ever said in any of his speeches or interviews that killing of any innocent person was acceptable. He has always insisted that the death of an innocent Jewish person should not be held to a higher standard than that of other people.”

    Ditto fyi, Persian Gulf, and Kooshy.

  82. kooshy says:

    Fyi

    “US-Iran problems are due to strategic confrontation across many issues.”

    You are right, even Khatami’s bending and bending backward and forward, and the candle light vigil wasn’t good enough.

    In the ME region Iran’s independence shouldn’t be accepted to become a model, which in all likelihood by now it is.

  83. Irshad says:

    welcome back fyi!

    was wondering where you are…

  84. kooshy says:

    Arnold / RSH/ Eric any comments on this revelation, in any way connected to tomorrow’s talks

    WikiLeaks cables: Iran has cleared major hurdle to nuclear weapons

    Tehran has ‘technical ability’ to make highly enriched uranium, say experts, as efforts turn to disrupting supply of other materials

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/20/iran-highly-enriched-uranium-wikileaks

  85. Persian Gulf says:

    fyi says:
    January 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

    That’s absolutely right. The Holocaust issue is totally IRRELEVANT. As you well know, Ahmadinejad started to talk about it in Oct. 2005, while I remember, the west was spreading propaganda against him heavily before that, e.g. his first trip to the U.N.

    The west was depicting him as an evil long before talking Israel and the Holocaust. Pres.Ahmadinejad was talking about bringing up a new solution to the U.N to solve the nuclear impasse in late August 2005. even before the idea was disclosed, the U.S rejected it.

    we have some greens blaming him for bringing unnecessary issues. as always, they seem to be illiterate about recent history.

  86. kooshy says:

    LIZ
    “Yesterday in Yazd:” (Yesterday’s unprecedented reception of Ahmadinijad in the historic city of Yazd) http://www.rajanews.com/detail.asp?id=76780

    Liz-
    Knowing Yazdi’s love for sweets (cakes) and Sharbats (sundaes/ sorbet) and as per US media and their Green constituency’ (including our own Scott the End doer) past claims that Iranian’s support for their government is only due to free drinks and sweets that are handed out in these rallies, this turnout was not unprecedented and it was expected.

  87. fyi says:

    By 2013, Mr. Ahmadinejad will no longer be the Iranian president.

    Do you think it will make any difference to the Iran-US relations?

    I think not.

    US-Iran problems are due to strategic confrontation across many issues.

  88. JohnH says:

    Thanks, Humanist. Ahmadinejad did what no Western politician could dream of–raise prices and then use the money to subsidize the poor. And it makes perfect economic sense–prices are allowed to reflect market conditions, demand is not distorted by subsidies, but overall demand is protected, not siphoned off into government or corporate coffers.

    I also found this–”The lack of protests surprised even the Iranian government, which had stationed police on the streets in anticipation of trouble. In Tehran, the hub of the 2009 demonstrations, people simple began economizing. The only visible public reaction took the form of long queues at ATM machines as people rushed to withdraw the money the government had placed in their accounts as partial compensation for the subsidy cuts.”
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MA21Ak01.html

    It has been noted by economists that Europe’s recession had a much smaller effect on ordinary folks than in the US–because Europe protected people’s jobs. In the US, politicians just let ordinary people rot when times get tough.

  89. Arnold,

    “You’ve revised the statement to remove the third sentence on this list.”

    I’m shocked and disappointed to learn you don’t carefully read every one of my posts, Arnold. Yes, I removed that sentence, for the reasons I laboriously laid out in my Jan. 20, 1:31 AM post to Unknown Unknowns. For the very same reason, I left out the sentence in my most recent post to you.

  90. Maverick says:

    Eric,
    whatever position Ahmadnijad takes on the Holocust, no body ca acccuse him of actually causing it or being a part of it. It takes a lot to either start a genocide of that magnitude or to stop it.
    What is scandalous and is unsurprisingly left out of the self-rightous Western narrative is the role played by France primarily and then through collusion US and UK in the Rwandan genocide. That France actively trained and sought to protect the Hutu Power genociderees is a matter of hitorical fact. Role of the US and UK in denying the UNAMIR resources and mandate to stop the mass killings is also a matter of historical fact.

    WWhilst I bet you would know many people who are familiar with the names of Himmler, Goering, Eichmann, Speer etc, how many people do you know who are aware of Bizimana, Bizimungu, Bagosara? Would Obama know these names? If asked and he did not know them andd asked who they were, would he be questioning the Rwandan genocide?

    It is ridiculous that these Western trio have the face to lecture the Iranians of their international responsibilities when they so miserably failed their UNSC responsibilities in 1994 and then in the case of US/UK in 2003 abused it to launch an illegal war in Iraq.
    Now with their might they try and crush the Iranians ….. threat of an ‘alternative example’ again using extraterritorial pressure, circumventing the due process inside IAEA, abuse of Chapter VII provisions. Where and when will this nonsense end?

  91. nahid says:

    ““I have never denied the Holocaust. My remarks on that subject have been misinterpreted. My point was that the Holocaust should not be cited to justify the present-day mistreatment of the Palestinian people, who had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust.”

    Is this westerner way of life to tell to people how to express themself. Funny, Israel was created under the nanner of houlcast and 6000 000. May be your are very good lawer but not polition. when you question the faundation on Isarel and legitimacy of it, your are bad person. may be your feeling hurt but shake it up and stick to suffering of real people now, not 70 years ago.
    with respect

  92. Empty says:

    If one believes, as most Iranians seem to believe, that a psychological war is going on between Iran and the U.S., Israel, and their most ardent admirers that goes beyond all other technological, economic, covert, and overt operations, then, one must evaluate Ahmadinejad’s statements about the holocaust and the like as a strategic and appropriate tool at the time of war. If viewed in that light, then one can easily see the strategic benefits of his statements have surpassed their costs by a wide margin. Just to be clear, I have not seen any evidence that he has ever said in any of his speeches or interviews that killing of any innocent person was acceptable. He has always insisted that the death of an innocent Jewish person should not be held to a higher standard than that of other people.

  93. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    Your original formulation had four sentences:

    1) I have never denied the Holocaust.

    2) My remarks on that subject have been misinterpreted.

    3) I acknowledge the Holocaust occurred.

    4) I observed only that the Holocaust should not be cited to justify the present-day mistreatment of the Palestinian people, who had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust.

    You’ve revised the statement to remove the third sentence on this list. I make the point that Westerners never express clearly what it means to say “the Holocaust occurred”. If four million Jews died instead of six, does that mean the Holocaust didn’t occur? It is not a specific or clearly defined statement that Ahmadinejad is being asked to make or affirm. But without that third sentence my point is irrelevant.

    For the fourth sentence, the word “only” is interesting. For one, it renders the sentence not true. Ahmadinejad, among other things, in the speech that initiated the furor in the first place observed that the Holocaust narrative has been elevated above the story of God. He observes that there are places where suggesting that the Holocaust narrative is subject to questioning can lead to imprisonment and that in places where questioning it will not put a person in jail, there is still a huge social or moral stigma.

    The stigma against questioning the Holocaust has in a way expanded to envelop Israel itself. It is arguably the same stigma that prevents Westerners from advocating, for example, lifting sanctions on Iran as long as Iran’s people do not accept Israel’s legitimacy and Iran’s government policies reflect these views of the Iranian people.

    Ahmadinejad’s points about the Holocaust are in that way broader than what you would have him present himself as “only” saying.

    On the other hand, if you weren’t the author, would you be satisfied by the answer you’re suggesting now? I don’t think you would. Your current suggestion doesn’t seem to me any less evasive than the answers Ahmadinejad has already given that you have said justified Western hostility against him and his country.

    Ahmadinejad’s responses during Western interviews, usually hostile ones where is he more often than not spoken over and cut off, strike me in every case as honest efforts to answer questions directly posed to him as clearly as possible given that he is communicating with someone of a different (and often antagonistic) religious/cultural system.

    He’s being interviewed. The subject changes when the interviewer changes it. You can’t blame Ahmadinejad for his interviewers’ questions. This is simply not a situation where Ahmadinejad is needlessly or even deliberately bringing up the subject to hurt anyone’s feelings.

  94. Landon says:

    Why does everyone go crazy when Ahmadinejad QUESTIONS the Holocaust, but when Fatah leader and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, wrote and defended a dissertation that specifically DENIED the truth of major facts of the Holocaust narrative, then received a doctoral degree on the basis of that thesis, then published the work, nary a byline discusses the matter in the mainstream media. That seems to be a double standard.

    However, Abu Mazen DID more or less recant his published views, upon being appointed Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2003. At that time, he said that he does NOT deny the Holocaust, and explained that “When I wrote The Other Side … [the dissertation/book] we were at war with Israel. Today I would not have made such remarks”.

    Thinking about this situation takes us in several directions.

    The status of the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel today can scarcely be called one that is anything other than war. What did Abu Mazen gain for the Palestinian people by recanting his denial of the Holocaust?

    Given the changed circumstances; namely, that Israel and Palestinians are again (or, really, still) at war, would Mahmoud Abbas revisit his original thesis about key facts of the Holocaust?

    A more fundamental question: how does a fact that was argued as true and reviewed and accepted as an argument supported strongly enough to be granted the highest academic degree, become untrue? Did new information become known that changed the truth value of the former evidence?

    With respect to the topic at hand, whether Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should cease or at least temper his discussion of the Holocaust, what different circumstances apply to Iran and to Ahmadinejad that do NOT apply to Mahmoud Abbas? Ahmadinejad has never denied the Holocaust, he has questioned it; in even more rational fashion than Abbas, Ahmadinejad has explained his position on the Holocaust, in public and private statements. The claim is made that Ahmadinejad’s statements about Holocaust offend Jewish people, but Ahmadinejad has moved away from the more inflammatory rhetoric just as surely as Abbas has recanted Holocaust. Why are Jewish sensibilities more accepting of Abbas’ revised stance but not of Ahmadinejad? Why is Ahmadinejad still pilloried for mention of the Holocaust, but Mahmoud Abbas is not?

    But, if we cycle back to the first observation, that Abbas’s act of recanting did not change the war-like relationship between Israel and Palestine, it’s fair to conclude that Abbas’s recantation was for nought, or less; Israelis do not respect weakness, they acknowledge strength. Ahmadinejad’s persistence in keeping Holocaust on at least the back-burner, serves to keep Israelis on notice that Iran is strong enough that it will not back down in the face of a persistent barrage of propaganda.

    Israel kills Palestinians every day, at will, with impunity. Abu Mazen, reformed Holocaust denier, cannot stop that holocaust of his people.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is determined that the Iranian people will not be victimized as are the Palestinian people. Questioning the Holocaust is a display of strength, and is one mechanism by which the survival of the Iranian people can be assured.

  95. Empty says:

    That finite and scarce resources (energy and water, specifically) in Iran have been mismanaged and used wastefully by people for several generations now is not a secrete to anyone. Neither is it hidden from the views of those who care to see that thoughtful reflective and purposeful material consumption advocated by several fundamental tenets of Islam (and other authentic religions) as well as key teachings in the Iranian culture is in direct opposition to mindless haphazard and limitless consumerism advocated by the religions of materialism and capitalism. Certainly Iran is not unique and has been following a worldwide trend with the United States leading the global list on per capital wastefulness. That it was, is, and will always be an ethical and strategic imperative for Iran (and other nations) to take steps toward correcting the wasteful ways of abusing the resources is also not doubted by anyone except for a handful of people who are either ignorant about how ecosystems work or are too narcissistic to care, or both. No plan is ever perfect. And any plan requires thoughtfulness, diligence, and perseverance to progress.

    Having said that however, when the largest, the most corrupt, the most undemocratic and, the most criminal, and the most secretive institutions in the world (i.e. IMF and World Bank) and those with the most malicious intentions begin to dispense compliments, one must pay strict attention. I am reminded of the story of the fox and the crow we learned as a child.

    A crow spotted a delicious prey, dove and caught it with his beaks and held it in his mouth. He then flew up and sat atop a tree. A hungry fox observing everything slowly approached the tree and began dispensing compliments directed at the crow. He explained how he knew the crow’s father who had such a magnificent voice. How soothing and joyful it was to listen to the songs he sang and how dreamy and heavenly the crow’s father sounded. The crow sat quietly on the tree holding the prey tightly in his mouth, listening and unmoved by the fox’s story. The fox then moved a bit closer and began to describe the crow as a beautiful bird with black shinny feathers, and feet decorated with the most supreme color that ever existed, the color black. Once the fox had captured the crow’s imagination, he expressed pity and sorrow that if only the crow had a voice as beautiful and magnificent as that of his father, he would be the most perfect bird ever created.

    پر و بالت سیاه رنگ و قشنگ…..نیست بالاتر از سیاهی رنگ
    گر خوش آواز بودی و خوش خوان…..نبدی بهتر از تو در مرغان

    Having quietly and attentively heard the chain of compliments and intoxicated with a sense of pride, vanity, and arrogance, he began to sing like this: http://www.hark.com/clips/xgfwpnsprp-crow

    زاغ می خواست که قارو قار کند….تا که آوازش آشکار کند

    Opening the mouth “hamaan” and dropping the prey “hamaan”.

    طعمه افتاد چون دهان بگشود….روبهک جست و طعمه را بربود

  96. Rd. says:

    Up until 2011, Tunisia has consistently been paraded and touted as an ideal state and as a model of success and development by the U.S., the E.U.,

    Why the Silence from the U.S., France, the E.U., and the Arab Dictators?

    While the U.S. and its allies were also quick to label and tout the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Twitter Revolution in Moldova, and the Green Revolution in Iran, they did not do the same in regards to the protests of the Tunisian people.

    In reality, Paris did secretly send aid to Bin Ali. The U.S. and Israel also sent riot gear and arms.

    America and France have not forfeited their economic interests in Tunisia. Nor has the neo-liberal model been declared null and void in Tunis. In a bid to maintain the continuation of French contracts in Tunisia, the French government did not offer to Bin Ali sanctuary in France, despite the fact that he was a loyal ally of Paris until the end of his reign.

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22850

  97. Arnold,

    Your points are good ones – an impressive post. I’m not quite as unaware as you suggest about the cultural differences that cause “holocaust” to mean something quite different to Ahmadinejad than it may mean to Westerners. Nor, as you noted and I’ve stressed, do I have any sympathy whatsoever for those who see fit to criminalize a person’s views of history, regardless of how ill-founded or well-founded they may be.

    My point was much narrower, and it’s not fair to expand it simply because an expansion makes for an easier target. My point was that Ahmadinejad, in the very interviews you quoted on your blog, was speaking to an audience that was almost entirely Western (Larry King Live, Der Spiegel, ABC News with George Stephanopoulos). Those interviews were probably not the ideal time for him to express the same views he’d express standing on a soapbox in, say, Qom.

    And that is why, given that he was trying to get across the important and entirely valid point that the Palestinians today should not be blamed for what Europeans did to Jews in the 1940′s, he should have done his best to put aside the question of whether the holocaust occurred or not, or whether the number of Jews killed by Nazis was as high as some claim, or whether an industry has been made of the holocaust. Better for him to have saved all that for another day, and cut off the holocaust-denial charges (or at least tried a lot more effectively) by saying something like this:

    ““I have never denied the Holocaust. My remarks on that subject have been misinterpreted. My point was that the Holocaust should not be cited to justify the present-day mistreatment of the Palestinian people, who had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust.”

    And then moved on from there to elaborate on that important point.

  98. Rehmat says:

    nahid – We are living in a funny and immoral world. For example, the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu who was lauded for supprting the Green Movement in 2009 – now is called an “anti-Semite” and “Bigot” by the “Israel-Firsters”.

    http://rehmat2.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/is-bishop-tutu-%e2%80%98anti-semite%e2%80%99-and-%e2%80%98a-bigot%e2%80%99/

  99. Arnold Evans says:

    There are two communication gaps between Ahmadinejad and Western audiences. There is a language gap and there is a cultural/religious gap. The cultural/religious gap is that the phrase “the Holocaust” just means something different to a person who was not raised in the West than it does to Ahmadinejad, apparently in ways that most Westerners are not consciously aware of.

    If it is true, and I think it is, that it is illegal for public relations firms that do business in the United States to provide services to Iran, then there is no fair way to ask or expect the Iranian side to bridge the gap. Or at least to do so expertly or professionally.

    Supporters of Israel are not hostile against Iran and against Ahmadinejad because of this issue, but because of Ahmadinejad’s real position which is that Israel, essentially in its existence as an ethnically-based state, imposes intolerable burdens on the region and on the cause of justice. He has very strong arguments to make on that point. For the most part, based on Western stated or declared values, he is right on that point.

    But the gaps, which would be present even if the West was neutral and that Iran has no reasonable way to close, are widened by the fact that an influential segment of the Western elite is initially hostile to Ahmadinejad and present him in as negative a light as they can.

    Ahmadinejad made a speech in Iran before an Iranian audience and in Persian that the West is hypocritical for claiming to be rational but putting people in jail for questioning an historical narrative. Hostile Westerners wrongly presented that speech as a denial of the Holocaust. It simply was not. There was no assertion in the speech about the truth of falsity of any historical event.

    Ahmadinejad is not in a position to say that the arguments of the people the West puts in jail for Holocaust denial are wrong. He’s never rigorously studied the issue and the issues they raise and are put in jail for are, by my limited understanding, technical issues that he and other non-experts would not reasonably have an opinion on.

    “Do you deny the Holocaust” is not a specific question such as “do you deny that at least some Jews were killed by Hitler’s government”. It is a broader and more symbolic question. It is reasonable to interpret the question as meaning “is every statement that a person could be put in jail for under Holocaust denial laws false?”. It is reasonable for Ahmadinejad to respond to that question by saying the truth or falsity of the statements that people go to jail for making must be studied without the threat of imprisonment before they can be reasonably concluded.

    Eric would call that response evasive or insufficiently affirmative of the Holocaust narrative. It probably is for a person of Eric’s religious/cultural background. But not everyone, and not Ahmadinejad, is from Eric’s religious/cultural background. It is not natural, inborn, or reasonable to expect of a person of a different religion and culture that a person effusively affirms every aspect the Holocaust narrative, even those they may not be familiar with, as Eric expects of Ahmadinejad.

    Eric says it is wrong that a person could be put in jail for challenging an historical narrative. Yes, of course that flatly contradicts Western stated and declared values. But it is the law in many representatively ruled Western jurisdictions. How did that come to be, what does it mean that these laws are passed in the West? Ahmadinejad sees these laws as motivated by the same impulse that imposes sanctions on Iran and imposes, maintains and supports pro-Western dictatorships previously over Iran and currently over the people of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE.

    These laws, and in fact the Western approach to the Holocaust, is not just wrong and just flatly contradictory of stated or declared Western values, they may be the result of a world view that, today, causes a tremendous amount of damage to a tremendous amount of lives in Ahmadinejad’s region.

    These laws may also demonstrate that Western values aren’t really what Westerners state or declare them to be. This is an important issue for people, including Ahmadinejad to examine. The idea that Ahmadinejad should avoid the issue only makes sense from inside of a particular religious/cultural system, just as the idea that the name Muhammad should always be followed “with peace be upon” him only makes sense from inside of a different religious/cultural system.

  100. nahid says:

    That is sad that somebody claimes do not say anything because some rich Jews feeling hurts, how sad and millions of Palistinians being killed and homeless even starving, who cares . Is this your value and your cry for humen right deaffing.

  101. BiBiJon says:

    On the question of Ahmadinejad’s poor judgment regarding the Holocaust, Eric Brill is completely right only if “the holocaust wasn’t the Palestinians’ fault and they don’t deserve to be punished for it” were his “central point”.

    Ahmadinejad’s other points may include:

    - Human rights: Remind westerners about their monstrous crimes.
    - Press Freedom: Remind westerners of their own curbs on freedom of thought.
    - Incitement against Iran: Remind westerners incitements are not cost-free.
    - In your face: Answer westerners’ rhetoric, e.g. Frum’s “axis of evil”.
    - Play to the Arab street: Remind Arabs how meek their leaders are.
    - Don’t care about your opinions: Tell westerners Iran knows she is evil in your eyes no matter what she says/does.

    Of course, to hammer home any pet argument one can take any of the above points to be “central”.

    To be a political football is very painful to any group:

    “The chairman of Iran’s Jewish Council has strongly criticized the country’s hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying the Holocaust was a myth. In his strongly-worded letter, Mr Yashayaei asked the president how he could justify what he termed the crimes of Hitler.”
    From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4705246.stm

    I have no arguments there.

    We live in a world of hurt (hate). Who in this world has not been given a demeaning label? Whose painful history is not routinely laughed at to accord them no recompense?

  102. PB says:

    Fiorangela

    Iran denied today that it had cut fuel to Afganistan. That this was Western propaganda. It just did not happen.

  103. PB says:

    Erik Brill

    You have it wrong. Ahmadinejad has it right. It is not about accepting or denying the holocaust. He has repeatedly said: “I don’t know it happened. They say it happened. Ok, if it happened, where did it happen? In Europe. Why don’t they give a piece of Europe to them. Why do the palestinians pay the price of it. Why are we still talking about it 70 year later.” the point is that he does not care one way or another, not because he does not care, but because it is irrelevant to solving modern human problems, particularly as it they relate to ME. It seems in this world it has become a litmus test for political persecution. Ahmadi is right in that once you admit it happened, and it did, they you become equally subject to political blackmail as you would if you denied it. It is other people who proclaim “he must be denying it,” which is untrue. He just does not think it is a relevant issue to current human problems and it should not affect our modern perspective, specially for the middle easterners who had nothing to do with it.

  104. Liz says:

    President Ahmadinejad’s questions about the holocaust were made to show an example of how freedom of speech in specific areas is severely limited in western countries. He also shows that while you can choose any narrative about Islam and Muslims, for example, in the west and get away with it, when it comes to western accepted narratives there is no tolerance.

  105. Unknown Unknowns,

    Your thoughtful response on the earlier thread makes a valid point (among several others): Ahmadinejad really does seem to question whether the holocaust occurred — he doesn’t deny it, but he considers it an open question. As you wrote, this makes it inappropriate for him to have acknowledged that it occurred, as I’d suggested he ought to do. Whether or not I believe he has a sufficient basis for considering it to be an open question (I don’t), you and I both feel strongly that any individual should have a legal right, everywhere, to deny any historical event.

    That does not change my conclusion (and I gather you also agree with me on this) that good judgment called for Ahmadinejad not to bring up his doubt in front of Western audiences. Even if one considers only Ahmadinejad’s own purposes and not the sensitivities of his Western audiences, mentioning his doubts about the holocaust’s occurrence accomplished nothing but to distract attention from his central point — that, in any case, the holocaust wasn’t the Palestinians’ fault and they don’t deserve to be punished for it.

    In my earlier suggested answer to Arnold’s request — the proposed exact wording of Ahmadinejad’s preferable response to the numerous “Do you deny the holocaust occurred?” questions posed to Ahmadinejad by Western journalists — your valid point makes it appropriate to delete the sentence in ALL CAPS below. But I think the rest of what I suggested should remain. Such a response probably would have enabled Ahmadinejad to focus his Western audience’s attention on his important “two wrongs don’t make a right” point.

    Incidentally, despite my references above to “Western audiences,” I do acknowledge that much of what Ahmadinejad says is aimed at his domestic audience, much of which has no objection to holocaust-doubting remarks. That political consideration does not dictate expressing doubt about the holocaust at every opportunity; sometimes it is best just to say nothing — to save such remarks for addresses to domestic audiences.

    MY EARLIER SUGGESTED RESPONSE (FROM WHICH THE ALL-CAPS SENTENCE SHOULD BE DELETED):

    “I have never denied the Holocaust. My remarks on that subject have been misinterpreted. I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE HOLOCAUST OCCURRED. I observed only that the Holocaust should not be cited to justify the present-day mistreatment of the Palestinian people, who had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust.”

  106. The Leveretts wrote:

    “Earlier this week, William Yong published an article in The New York Times, entitled “Iran Cuts Subsidies on Fuel and Other Consumer Goods”, see here. … After a factually accurate headline, Mr. Yong writes …”

    What I find amusing about this passage is that the Leveretts, like I, consider a “factually accurate headline” to be about all one can realistically hope for in a New York Times story on Iran. Anything reasonably close to factual accuracy in the body of the article is just gravy. (As they point out, William Yong’s piece was admirable even in the body; the Times may have used up its annual quota of factual accuracy about Iran all in one article.)

  107. Pirouz_2 says:

    Persian Gulf;
    I am a bit busy right now. I will get back to you on saturday.

  108. kooshy says:

    Eric here is that Ankara cable

    Wikileaks : Viewing cable 09ANKARA1654, TURKEY: A/S GORDON PRESSES FM DAVUTOGLU ON IRAN

    04 Gennaio 2011

    VZCZCXRO0653
    OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
    DE RUEHAK #1654/01 3211708
    ZNY SSSSS ZZH
    O 171708Z NOV 09
    FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
    TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1256
    INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

    S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001654

    SIPDIS

    DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE

    E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/17/2019
    TAGS: KNNP PREL TU IR
    SUBJECT: TURKEY: A/S GORDON PRESSES FM DAVUTOGLU ON IRAN

    REF: ANKARA 1626

    Classified By: Ambassador James Jeffrey, for reasons 1.4(b,d)

    ¶1. (S) Iran dominated A/S Gordon’s 40-minute meeting November
    12 with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. The FM had just gotten
    off the phone with El-Baradei and had discussed in detail the
    IAEA proposal to send Iran’s low enriched uranium to Turkey.
    El-Baradei had said he would “call Washington” that same
    morning. This had followed two long “harsh” sessions with
    the Iranians in Istanbul on Sunday evening. The Iranians
    have said they are willing to meet with Solana, but have told
    the Turks that they have serious problems with Cooper and the
    British. They have “more trust” in the U.S. The Iranians
    would also prefer to get fuel from the U.S. rather than the
    Russians.

    ¶2. (S) Davutoglu said the Iranians: a) are ready to send a
    delegation to Vienna to work out the specifics on this
    proposal; b) have given their “full trust” to Turkey; c)
    continue to face serious domestic problems inside Iran. He
    said the Turks actually see Ahmadinejad as “more flexible”
    than others who are inside the Iranian Government.
    Ahmadinejad is facing “huge pressure” after statements from
    some P5 members to the effect that a nuclear deal would
    succeed in weakening Iran,s nuclear capability — which is
    interpreted by some circles in Iran as a virtual defeat.

    ¶3. (S) Given this context, the Turks had asked Ahmadinejad if
    the core of the issue is psychological rather than substance.
    Ahmadinejad had said “yes,” that the Iranians agree to the
    proposal but need to manage the public perception.
    Accordingly, the Iranians are proposing that the first 400
    kilos be transferred to Kish Island — thereby keeping it on
    Iranian soil — and would receive right away an equivalent
    amount (30-50 kilos) of enriched fuel. The second stage
    would focus on the management of Iranian public opinion,
    after which Tehran would proceed with the Turkey option for
    the remaining 800 kilos, probably in two tranches. Davutoglu
    said Baradei agreed to consider this.

    ¶4. (S) Davutoglu noted that he had spoken to NSA General
    Jones Wednesday, who had said that we should perhaps suggest
    to the Iranians that they transfer 600 kilos to Kish Island
    and 600 kilos to Turkey simultaneously. A/S Gordon said he
    could not give an official response to the proposal as this
    is the first time we heard it, but that he anticipates much
    skepticism about providing fuel to Iran before all the LEU
    has been taken out. It would be better to get all 1200 kilos
    out right away.

    ¶5. (C) Davutoglu noted that these are two different
    proposals. The first is Iran’s request for fuel for its
    nuclear reactor. Even if this takes place, he said, we still
    need to work on limiting Iran’s nuclear enrichment
    capability. If we succeed with this proposal, he said, it
    will create “confidence” and a “new momentum” and would allow
    room for negotiation.

    ¶6. (C) Noting that Davutoglu had only addressed the negative
    consequences of sanctions or the use of military force,
    Gordon pressed Davutoglu on Ankara’s assessment of the
    consequences if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. Davutoglu gave a
    spirited reply, that “of course” Turkey was aware of this
    risk. This is precisely why Turkey is working so hard with
    the Iranians. President Gul himself had spent two hours
    Sunday with Ahmadinejad in Istanbul.

    ¶7. (C) Gordon noted that while we acknowledge that Turkey can
    be helpful as a mediator, some of the Prime Minister’s recent
    public comments raise questions about how Turkey sees this
    issue. Davutoglu said he is aware of these concerns, but
    contended that the Guardian newspaper had not accurately
    presented its recent interview with the Prime Minister. The
    PM’s comments had been taken out of context. Erdogan had
    been asked if he views Iran as a friend. If he had said
    “no,” it would not have been possible to convince Tehran to
    cooperate on this latest proposal. Only Turkey can speak
    bluntly and critically to the Iranians, Davutoglu contended,
    but only because Ankara is showing public messages of
    friendship.

    ¶8. (C) Gordon pushed back that Ankara should give a stern
    public message about the consequences if UN resolutions are
    ignored. Davutoglu countered that Erdogan had given just
    such a statement in Tehran when he visited. He emphasized
    that Turkey’s foreign policy is giving a “sense of justice”
    and a “sense of vision” to the region. Turkey has provided a
    “third option” in addition to Iran and the Saudis (who he
    contended are viewed as “puppets” of the US). The result, he
    said, is that we “limit Iranian influence in the region.” We

    ANKARA 00001654 002 OF 002

    need a “pro-Western approach AND a sense of justice.”

    ¶9. (C) A/S Gordon has cleared this cable.

    JEFFREY

    “Visit Ankara’s Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s
    gov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turkey”

  109. kooshy says:

    Gary Sick “The Cable on the Iran Nuclear Deal That Everyone Missed’
    Seems to me the one who missed it was in fact Gary, I read about this cable almost two weeks ago, like hear back in Jan 4th http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/01/04/world/main7211567.shtml

  110. Persian Gulf says:

    Pirouz_2:

    “I am not quite clear as to what you mean in this part of your message, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate on it or perhaps re-word it again?
    However, let me tell you something, if neither Rafsanjani, nor Khatami -despite agreeing with all of these economic policies- did not go ahead with the subsidy cuts, it was upto a great part out of fear of the social reactions.”

    so, I meant, were did the fear go this time? I know that it was due to fear of an upheaval (I could even sense it a bit at the time), it matches your hypothesis indeed, but the question is what happened this time? do we have a larger middle class now compared to a decade or 15 years ago? obviously not. the subsidy reform, at least in the short term (it can be years in fact), will constrain the growth of the middle class adding more to the lower class ones. this is pretty obvious to me, and the personal (and limited) data I receive daily somehow confirm that. but I am sure, we will not see a mass uprising due to this issue anytime soon. I am willing to bet on this!

    diversity of the lifestyle is not just about the freedom to practice every aspect of a religion, and I am not talking about the minority’s rights either. religion is a small part of it, in fact. it can extend to entertainment business, to sports, to arts…. in fact, all of these will dampen the temptation of the religion reducing the accumulated zealousness that otherwise would be used for one sort of upheaval. I think your classical analysis of the interaction of the proletariat and bourgeoisie needs to be modified a bit. there are a lot of cross borders, and that can be expanded by the diversity of the lifestyle I have explained. it’s not a zero-sum game.

  111. BiBiJon,

    Thanks for posting the open letter to Obama on the settlements. Hope springs eternal, I suppose, but I can’t help thinking this one will be “round-filed” with all the other open letters on this subject that have been sent to US presidents over the past several decades.

    Nevertheless, an encouraging sign.

  112. Interesting short piece by Gary Sick in Foreign Policy, concerning Wikileaks cable discussing certain negotiations over the TRR deal:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/19/while_you_were_reading_about_ukrainian_nurses

  113. Pirouz_2 says:

    @JohnH and BS:
    Regarding your messages on January 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm and on January 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm respectively;

    I find it very refreshing that at least there are two other people who have views similar to my own on the issue. Unfortunately though, we seem to be the only three!!

  114. Pirouz_2 says:

    First I am glad I see Arnold’s messages again. For a short while I thought after RSH and Eric now it was Arnold’s turn!

    @Persian Gulf:
    “if you remember, we had a discussion here about the reason for the possibility of popular uprising in a country like Iran few months ago. your argument for the lack of such an uprising in the west compared to a country like Iran was in the context of economic prosperity in the western countries. however, I had linked that to the diversity of lifestyle in the modern world a relative shortage of this option in a country like Iran. ”

    I still stand by what I said before, having a prosperous and large middle class is pretty much the end of social upheaval. The chief reason for instability of a country, and the strong possibility of social uprise is a lack of social security (ie. a thin layer of middle-class and a very thick layer of low-income classes).
    In fact that is what makes western societies far more stable.

    As for your opinion regarding the “diversity of life-style” in the West, again I have to disagree. We can sit here day and night and celebrate the “diversity of life-style” in the West all we want, but somehow I have a feeling we will have a great deal of difficulty in convincing the “Hijabies”, the Muslim people who get killed in the courtrooms in Germany (over their “life style”), the Muslim girls who are not allowed to go to school with their own dress code all over the Europe and even in the Quebec province of Canada, the muslims who are not even allowed to have a mosque in Switzerland, about the “diversity of life-style” in the West.

    “I think the event of the last few weeks in Iran showed that the economic reason you had brought up was not probably a sound one. it was quite expected that nothing of the sort of popular uprising would occur by the imposition of this subsidy reform, not even something double than this would change the situation.”

    I am not quite clear as to what you mean in this part of your message, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate on it or perhaps re-word it again?
    However, let me tell you something, if neither Rafsanjani, nor Khatami -despite agreeing with all of these economic policies- did not go ahead with the subsidy cuts, it was upto a great part out of fear of the social reactions.
    Furthermore, there was an excellent program on PressTV about the subsidy cuts, if you find it and watch it, you’ll see that pretty much everyone in the IR system had a very serious fear of social reaction to these economic plans.
    Having said that, I must also add that it is rather early to jump into conclusions, depending on how fast these income redistribution plans are applied, and depending on where the government would back off and stop with its right-wing reforms, you may or may not see future upheavals in Iran.
    We really don’t need to argue about Iran, just have a look at other countires with somewhat similar socio-economic structures to Iran, look at Mexico and Brazil, look at India with its Kashmir and Maoist rebels and you’ll see what I mean.

  115. Fiorangela says:

    h/t Just Foreign Policy

    Afghan fuel shortage spreads to Kabul
    Iran’s month-old blockade has brought higher prices and shorter tempers, along with resentment toward NATO forces, which Afghans blame for Tehran’s decision to restrict supplies.
    Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 9:22 PM PST, January 18, 2011
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-fuel-shortage-20110119,0,5669450.story

    Kabul – Winter in Afghanistan is always a hardscrabble time, but this year the season’s bite has been sharpened by a growing shortage of fuel. And because the dwindling supply is due to an Iranian blockade, the dispute is further tangling complicated dealings with a powerful neighbor.

    For the last five weeks, a traffic jam of fuel tankers, now swelled to about 2,500 vehicles, has been backed up at the Iranian-Afghan frontier, with only a fraction of the usual number allowed to pass. The resulting shortages were initially felt most keenly in the agricultural south and west. But in recent weeks, the effects have spread to the crowded, car-choked capital, Kabul, with higher pump prices, longer lines and ever-shortening tempers.

    “Sometimes people get angry and argue with us about why it has become so expensive, but there is nothing we can do about it,” said gas station attendant Abdul Farwad, who was manning the pumps on a recent chilly morning, fending off customers’ grumbles as he did so. In the last month, the cost of a gallon of gasoline has risen by about 20%, to $4.35 in the capital, with higher prices in the provinces.

    As often happens, some of the resentment is aimed at a highly visible target: the 150,000-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization force. Iranian officials have blamed the chokehold on “technical reasons” but also have suggested that at least some fuel ends up in the hands of the Western military.

    NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, which is composed largely of U.S. troops, has stated repeatedly that its supply routes do not run through Iran. But the denials are to little avail; the belief that Americans are indirectly responsible for the fuel shortage has taken hold strongly among many Afghans.

    Analysts say a likelier culprit is regional muscle-flexing, with Afghanistan cast in its familiar role as the pawn of great powers. When Iran feels squeezed by the United States, it can in turn put the squeeze on Afghanistan, where few tasks are easier than stoking resentment against the unpopular administration of President Hamid Karzai.
    [...]
    A potential break in the crisis came Tuesday, when Karzai’s office announced that Tehran was prepared to ease the restrictions in coming days provided that Afghanistan spells out for Iran its fuel requirements. But Afghanistan has previously balked at, in effect, petitioning Iran for permission to import what it needs.

    Afghanistan is entirely dependent on the outside world for fuel, and between one-third and half of it passes through Iran. Afghan officials have talked of trying to develop direct supply links with neighbors such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. But in the meantime, Iran has a heavy hand on the spigot.

    In this instance, Iran’s motivation is murky. Some observers have pointed to continuing U.S. pressure over its nuclear program. “Above all, for Iran, it’s a way of showing power,” said Haroon Mir, an independent political analyst in Kabul.
    [...]
    In agricultural areas, some farmers are having difficulty finding and affording diesel to run their irrigation pumps. The insurgency is strongest in the south, and such pressures can tip the balance between villagers supporting the U.S.-backed government or throwing in their lot with the Taliban.

    Farmers come under constant threats and blandishments from the insurgents to switch to growing opium poppies, which do not need as much water and can be trafficked by the Taliban to fund its war effort. Noor Agha, a farmer in the bitterly contested Arghandab district of Kandahar province, said that because of a lack of fuel for irrigation pumps, it was all he could do to save his fruit orchards. His wheat fields, and those of his neighbors, were a loss. “And tomorrow,” he said, “the Taliban will come and tell us there is another way.”

  116. Fiorangela says:

    “All truth pass through three stages:
    First it’s vehemently rejected , second, it’s ridiculed, third, it’s accepted as being self-evident.” Schopenhauer

    The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, by FATAH leader Mahmoud Abbas Abbas argues that the Nazi Holocaust had been exaggerated and that Zionists created “the myth” of six million murdered Jews, which he called a “fantastic lie”. He further claimed that those Jews which were killed by the Nazis were actually the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot aimed to to fuel vengeance against Jews and to expand their mass extermination. The book also discussed topics such as the Haavara Agreement, in which the Third Reich agreed with the Jewish Agency to facilitate Jewish emigration from Germany to Mandate Palestine.

    Portions of The Other Side have been considered as Holocaust denial by critics, especially the parts disputing the accepted number of deaths in the Holocaust as well as the accusations that Zionist agitation was the cause of the Holocaust a charge that Abbas denies.

    And sometimes Shopenhauer’s process works in reverse:

    When Abbas was appointed the Palestinian prime minister in 2003, he wrote that the “Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind” and that he does not deny it[, and said that “When I wrote The Other Side … we were at war with Israel. Today I would not have made such remarks”

  117. Off topic, but this is disgusting if unsurprising:

    NYPD officers shown Muslim-bashing film in counter-terror training
    :http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/nypd-muslim-bashing-terror-training/

    This is how you get the sort of barbaric morons the NYPD is known for, like the guys who sodomized a suspect with a broom handle. I saw a video of these guys – they look like Nazi SS storm troopers and behave the same way. Pure thugs.

  118. BiBiJon says:

    On the question of Ahmadinejad’s poor judgment regarding the Holocaust, Eric Brill is completely wrong. He is correct in the fact that it offends a great many European and American folks’ sesibilities. In this regard Eric is not merely projecting his own feelings on others. But, Eric is incorrect in his not seeing the context.

    Ahmadinejad can whistle Dixie and Iran shall be sanctioned even more heavily, and if his attempts at making nice is interpreted as military unpreparedness for defense, he will get Iran bombed, before he he has finished the tune.

    This is not just conjecture. There is empirical evidence. Khatami got one of the severest sanctions to-date on Iran’s oil industry by Bill Clinton, presumably in part because of quoting Alexis Tocqueville. Furthermore, and relevant to Ahmadinejad’s calculation, not only it is primarily the Zionists who have had Iran in their gun sights since the Shah’s interview with Mike Wallace in 1975, but Holocaust denial is popular among Iran’s Arab neighbors, which makes their rulers less able to aid and abet a US/Israel war of aggression on Iran.

    In the meantime, true, quite a few well meaning people are offended. However, when there is no costs, there’s no need for ‘judgment’. Consider the ‘offended’ as a necessary sacrifice to keep his nation from getting nuked.

    On a hopeful note, I assure Eric that Ahmadinejad is more than capable of launching into far worse rhetoric. That he chooses (or is ordered to) couch his comments in terms of neutral “questions”, he is signaling to Zionists to lay off Iran, and he has left himself room to lay off Zionists.

  119. Rehmat says:

    Iran’s Green Movement and the Tunisia’s ‘Democracy’ has the same foreign players with the same agenda – “A regime-change for USrael”.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/tunisia-regime-change-by-and-for-israel/

  120. Eric: “One can argue that he is merely declaring the holocaust’s occurrence to be an “open question” – a position that I find baseless and, more important, was entirely unnecessary for him to express. He had a perfectly valid point to make, and he should have started and ended with that point: the Palestinians played no part in the holocaust and don’t deserve to be punished for it.”

    And in every case, he has been ASKED for his opinion. Why do interviewers ask for this opinion if not to try to get him to make a fool of himself? So he hedges as every politician does.

    I recall Donald Rumsfeld being sandbagged in this way on a news show. The interviewers asked him why he said something, I forget now what it was – I think it was the bit about Iraq’s nuclear weapons being an “imminent” threat. He denied every saying it. The interviewers were ready for that and immediately flashed on the screen his exact sourced quote. Rumsfeld was so dumbfounded that he had been so totally sandbagged that he said absolutely nothing for at least 20 seconds, a painfully awkward pause the host did not interrupt.

    You’re complaining that Ahmadinejad is not straightforward about acknowledging the Holocaust’s occurrence. However, suppose he’s merely ignorant of the evidence? Suppose he believes, as some do, that only X million Jews died, or Jews only comprised X percent of the Nazi’s victims, such that the term “Holocaust” is a misnomer in his mind? It seems he believes that the ‘Holocaust Industry”, as Finkelstein puts it, is politically motivated and so, being anti-Zionist, he denigrates whatever he’s heard or read about the Holocaust as “Zionist propaganda”. But rather than put himself in the position of simply denying it, he does as many anti-Holocaust critics do – he demands “scientific proof” that it occurred.

    It doesn’t really matter what he believes. Your point is that he shouldn’t talk about it, even though his real point is, as you correctly note, that Palestinians shouldn’t be punished by it. To do that and to bring home the point that the entire Zionist proposition for the legitimacy of Israel is the historical persecution of Jews (and historically, this has been almost entirely the result of the Roman Church, as I pointed out elsewhere, NOT Islam) he has to bring up The Holocaust. So he has to question the validity of The Holocaust because this plays well to the Arab street. He knows full well that Jews suffered in Germany and he acknowledges this in his letter to Merkle. But in public he plays to the Arab street.

    MY main point is that he can’t refer to the historical justification for Zionism and Israel WITHOUT mentioning The Holocaust – and therefore he cannot follow your prescription not to talk about it. I might agree that he probably shouldn’t bother discussing the historical accuracy of the concept since it is peripheral to his main point. But that doesn’t matter – because the instant he compares the Holocaust to the Nakba, the media is going to spin him as anti-Semitic.

    So he might as well talk as he does. He’s going to be demonized either way and he knows it. Everything he says is spun incorrectly, including his “off the map” reference and his comments on 9/11. There’s no way he’ll ever be quoted correctly in the Western media.

    Therefore your prescription amounts to the same thing as your AP prescription – irrelevant in the real world.

  121. Persian Gulf says:

    Pirouz_2:

    if you remember, we had a discussion here about the reason for the possibility of popular uprising in a country like Iran few months ago. your argument for the lack of such an uprising in the west compared to a country like Iran was in the context of economic prosperity in the western countries. however, I had linked that to the diversity of lifestyle in the modern world a relative shortage of this option in a country like Iran.

    I think the event of the last few weeks in Iran showed that the economic reason you had brought up was not probably a sound one. it was quite expected that nothing of the sort of popular uprising would occur by the imposition of this subsidy reform, not even something double than this would change the situation. if there were people in the west believing in such a scenario, one should be skeptical of their agenda and most importantly their knowledge of today’s Iran. in fact, Iranian society is transforming, or has somehow transformed, radically over the past few decades. we are moving toward a more individualistic society and the satellite TVs, internet…have had great impact in changing the mood of the society. you may ask about the last year’s turmoil. first of all, that uprising was very limited, among the youth segment of the upper middle class, and it was hugely affected by sexuality, I would argue. the system can actually learn something out of it and try to relax a bit, or at least channel them out in different ways, the tight grip on social activities it currently practices. moreover, last year’s turmoil, I believe, was the last of its sort among the upper middle class. I would be really surprised to something of even that small scale for the foreseeable future.

    lower income class of the society that still has a chance of a mass uprising is on the other hand very religious and events of Muharram, Aushora in particular, as long as the system advocates Islam and links itself to its cause, would not be a threat whatsoever.

    the system might need to change the way its officials are treated in provincial visits, e.g. Pres.Ahmadinejad’s welcoming crowed in Yazd.

  122. Latest from Kaveh Afrasiabi. Meir Dagan forced to backtrack on his Iran 2015 estimate.

    Israel drums up heat on Iran
    :http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MA20Ak01.html

    Quote

    Firstly, irrespective of the cold shoulder that Western powers gave to Iran’s nuclear invite to the nuclear facilities, Iran’s initiative, and the positive response that it received from 120 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, has strengthened Iran’s negotiating hand.

    Second, the recent revelations on Iran’s problems with its centrifuges due to the Stuxnet cyber-attack have diminished the weight of the military option and, as a result, Iran is less threatened, and is therefore going into the Istanbul talks with a measure of unprecedented confidence.

    Third, Iran has threatened to terminate the multilateral nuclear talks process if the Istanbul meeting ends in failure, and it has added another subtle threat; that is, Tehran would continue enriching uranium at 20% and even higher if the other side refuses to agree to Tehran’s request for nuclear fuel for its Tehran reactor.

    Another, more implicit, warning that is embedded in Tehran’s pre-Istanbul action is that Iran’s nuclear transparency and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) access to Iran would suffer if there is no agreement on a proposal for an international nuclear fuel swap to produce medical isotopes.

    According to a Tehran University political science professor, who spoke with the author on the condition of anonymity, the IAEA is well aware of the “serious damage to its reputation as well as its safeguard agreements with Iran in case there is no fuel swap”.

    Iran is entitled to receive technical assistance from the IAEA on the Tehran reactor and there would be some backlash against the IAEA within Iran’s ruling circles, who are nowadays contemplating serious reactions vis-a-vis IAEA’s failure to assist Iran on what is commonly referred to as a “humanitarian issue”, in light of the Tehran’s reactor’s purely civilian purposes.

    End Quote

  123. BiBiJon says:

    Fiorangela says:
    January 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I thought you might enjoy this:

    FEW Americans have heard of Howard Conklin Baskerville, but most Iranians know his name. A native of Nebraska, Baskerville graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary and moved to Iran as a Presbyterian missionary. He was 23. The year was 1907. Baskerville was an idealist at a time of idealism in Iran.

    ….

    Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of his death and, despite the Iranian government’s estranged relationship with the United States, Baskerville is still revered and honored as a symbol of American ideals and principles. In 2005, President Mohammad Khatami unveiled a bust of Baskerville in Tabriz’s Constitution House. Someone still leaves fresh yellow roses on his gravestone in Tabriz. To Iranians, Howard Baskerville is their American martyr.

    From http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/18/opinion/18calafi.html?_r=1

  124. Pirouz,

    “Eric, he has pretty much said that in interviews, such as the ones taken by Larry King. And he’s gone on to say, paraphrasing: why is freedom of speech in this regard considered a felony in parts of Europe?”

    As I hope I’ve made very clear, I agree very strongly that people should be allowed to deny the holocaust — or any historical event — without being sent to prison or otherwise punished. My only point is that the president of a country — whose objective is really not to debate whether the holocaust did or did not occur but instead is to point out that the Palestinians had nothing at all to do with it and should not be punished for it today — has a duty to those he represents to use good judgment so that he persuades as many people as possible of his valid point.

    Ahmadinejad did not exercise that good judgment, or anything close to it. Instead, he gave the Western press an opportunity — and they did not need to be asked twice — to sidetrack the discussion onto Ahmadinejad’s belief in the reality of the holocaust. Relatively few people remember his main point — that the Palestinians bear no guilt and should not be punished — and even those who do remember may well have discounted his credibility on that point as well.

  125. Arnold,

    I generally find Ahmadinejad to be quite impressive in interviews and debates, very bright and quick on his feet. My complaint here is limited to his pointlessly provocative statements regarding whether the holocaust occurred. One can argue that he is merely declaring the holocaust’s occurrence to be an “open question” – a position that I find baseless and, more important, was entirely unnecessary for him to express. He had a perfectly valid point to make, and he should have started and ended with that point: the Palestinians played no part in the holocaust and don’t deserve to be punished for it.

    Below are some samples, from your own blog. Ask yourself whether more listeners might have accepted Ahmadinejad’s “two wrongs don’t make a right” argument if he’d first made very clear that he wasn’t denying the holocaust – or, better yet, had never even raised that question in the first place.

    SAMPLE ONE FROM YOUR BLOG:

    Q: Do you regret denying the holocaust?

    [Ahmadinejad]:… I asked these two questions and I ask them of you now. First, if the holocaust is a historical fact then they should allow it to be investigated because we allow everything to be investigated

    Q: But documentation is enormous…

    Do we have more evidence about the holocaust or about freedom, mathematics and physics?

    Q: There are people watching this programme, whose parents, sisters and aunts perished in the concentration camps.

    … I say if a historical event has happened we should let the scientists investigate it – maybe new dimensions will be uncovered and new issues will be discovered – why don’t they allow it? This is suspicious….

    SAMPLE THREE FROM YOUR BLOG:

    SPIEGEL: Denying the Holocaust is punishable in Germany. Are you indifferent when confronted with so much outrage? …

    Ahmadinejad: … We are posing two very clear questions. The first is: Did the Holocaust actually take place? You answer this question in the affirmative. So, the second question is: Whose fault was it? The answer to that has to be found in Europe and not in Palestine. …

    On the other hand, if the Holocaust didn’t take place, why then did this regime of occupation … We don’t want to confirm or deny the holocaust. …

    SPIEGEL: Are you still saying that the Holocaust is just “a myth?”

    Ahmadinejad: I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it… But there are two opinions on this in Europe. One group of scholars or persons, most of them politically motivated, say the Holocaust occurred. Then there is the group of scholars who represent the opposite position … Hence, an impartial group has to come together to investigate and to render an opinion on this very important subject…

  126. Potkin says:

    Leveretts, you guys are so full of it. All you can do is tear down straw men. Name one, let alone several “Western analysts [who] were predicting en masse that the Green Movement would bring down the Islamic Republic during 2010. Don’t be dishonest.

  127. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Yes, American universities cut back on history, fine arts, literature, etc., and chase after research funding, much of which comes from the Pentagon. And that funding does not go toward the liberal arts. So, a double-whammy. And more stupidity by US foreign policy makers etc etc.

  128. Pirouz says:

    Eric, he has pretty much said that in interviews, such as the ones taken by Larry King. And he’s gone on to say, paraphrasing: why is freedom of speech in this regard considered a felony in parts of Europe? He’s basically exposed it as hypocrisy, which is why he’s demonized for it in the Western press while lionized for it on the Arab Street and elsewhere in the Islamic world.

  129. Arnold,

    YOU WROTE:

    “Question: You say Ahmadinejad has been evasive about the Holocaust. What answer do you suggest he give? He’ll be asked sometime in 2011 by a hostile Western interviewer: “Mr. Ahmadinejad, why do you deny the Holocaust?” What exact words do you recommend he use in response to that question?”

    ANSWER:

    “I have never denied the Holocaust. My remarks on that subject have been misinterpreted. I acknowledge that the Holocaust occurred. I observed only that the Holocaust should not be cited to justify the present-day mistreatment of the Palestinian people, who had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust.”

  130. Fiorangela says:

    Humanist, Voice of Tehran,

    Humanist, thank you for your message on an earlier thread. Yes, the ideas involving dehumanization are intriguing. I’ll explore the wiki links that you mentioned. Have you come across Dr. Greg Stanton’s “Stages of Genocide” studies? Stanton suffers from :http://www.virginia.edu/flashaudio/uva_player2_content.html?the_file=millercenter/2009/stanton.xml

    Orientalism (bias against anything not western), but his ‘stages’ are useful.
    Thanks also for your introduction to the Gini index.

    There’s a German-Iranian newsletter that has some keen analysis of German-Iran commerce and relations. It’s in German, so a bit difficult for someone whose exposure to the language was many years ago, but translators are helpful. :http://irananders.de/

    Finally, what does the fact that universities in the US are eliminating courses in the Classics, Liberal Arts, and especially Italian language and culture have to do with US’s misguided foreign policy? Everything. If Stuart Levey, whom James Canning calls sh*t, which label and brand I endorse, were aware of a smidgen of Italian history, he would know that when Andrea Dorea needed to impose harsh measures to reform Genoa’s economy; while Venice simultaneously challenged and dealt cruelly with Genoese, Dorea was able to blame the burden that the Genoese people were forced to bear on the Venetians and deflect the complaints from himself and his programs. That seems intuitive, doesn’t it? Ziocaine. It rots the brain.

  131. Voice of Tehran says:

    Humanist says:
    January 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Humanist,

    after the failed ‘green ‘ plot of the enemies of Iran , the main target among many others ( Stuxnet , targeted assassination , Sakineh etc. etc. etc. ) , was to focus on the subsidy cut plan.
    A huge hue and cry in the western controlled Iranian channles from US , UK , Germany , France etc , started manipulating the people with all kind of fairy tales to create a end of times mood.
    As always they failed in their evil and sinister goal of bringing turmoil to the streets , as if an ‘Angel’ was watching the events.
    Absolutely nothing happened , not even a bloody nose….

  132. Fara says:

    Look how fightened these arab autocrats are. Now they promise to distribute money to cool down the unrest.

    “Arab rulers use handouts to ward off unrest”
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/938dbe0c-23e1-11e0-8bb1-00144feab49a.html#axzz1BVAzSU2Y

    Also, the Saudi king, who is recuperating in the US after a back surgery, wasted no time to send a message to the Saudi people that he will be back home soon and will bring about prosperity upon people. What a sham!

  133. Humanist says:

    JohnH

    Weird logic? Not really.

    The Gini Index for the equal distribution of wealth is defined in such a way that zero is for ideal equality while 100 is for the worst possible inequality. If you look at the UN statistics of ‘Income Equality’ in the world, you’ll find Sweden, Norway and other Scandinavian countries have impressive Gini Index of about 6 while the same index for Namibia is 74 (worst in the world).

    That Index for US and Iran are 41 and 43 respectively (practically the same and bad news for both countries since the Statistical Correlation between Gini Index and Crime (unhappiness) is well established).

    The Iranian ‘Targeted Subsidy Plan’ is not simply tripling the prices. It is a more complex layout. For instance, in the first year, 50% of the revenue will go back to the poor. Couple of months ago Government opened bank accounts for 90% of population and started depositing money in those accounts to compensate for the coming price increases.

    The rich are the losers. For example now they have to pay about $1.40 for a gallon of gas while they used to pay about 38 cents. Smugglers of gasoline and a few corrupt mullahs and their families who were protecting them are the big losers since the government, in the 5 year duration of the plan, will save tens of billions on that item alone.

    In my uneducated view (since I know little about econometrics) the plan is a good one since it has the potential to reduce the Gini Index.

    High subsidies started during Iran-Iraq war where some of the idealist rulers wanted to provide practically free food, medicine and transportation especially to the lower class. I believe it boosted the moral of the poor quite a lot yet after the war the subsidies started to adversely effect the economy of the country hence finding a remedy became essential.

    Eventually after many years of talking about cutting the subsidies Ahmadinejad had the prowess to get rid of it. He is a gutsy man, he is the son of a blacksmith and most probably he is really on the side of the suffering (poor). If the plan works, he in the turbulent history of Iran will be remembered as a another Karim Khan e Zand. (A king who forbid his subjects calling him ‘king’, he wanted to be called as a simple Advocate of the People)

  134. BS says:

    While not disagreeing with the fact that Iran is becoming a massive regional and world economy and that it is an important change for the region, those who study and worship at the alter of the World Bank and IMF always, always think that large GDP growth is synonymous with political and social stability. It is not, and can often be counter intuitive.

    Tunisia is a great example of this, as it has great GDP growth, a strong and fairly educated middle class, a high GDP per capita, etc etc.

    It can often be the case with countries that end up with very educated but unemployed youth, rises in GDP growth followed by even short periods of decline bring the bread question back on the table very quickly.

  135. Fiorangela says:

    The Abassi Hotel is the most magnificent hotel in Isfehan, and Isfehan is half the world.
    http://www.abbasihotel.ir/
    See that staircase in the photo? Just to the left of the staircase is a reception desk with a large, curved wooden shelf above it. On the shelf are the flags of every nation on the globe — every nation except the US and Israel.

  136. Voice of Tehran says:

    James Canning says:
    January 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    James Canning,

    these are just official figures as per custom declaration , the ‘real’ figures are much much higher. My estimation is around 7 billion Euros in 2011 = 10 billion $ ( depending on the exchange rate )
    It is a pity to see the Germans so strong in the Iranian market , they certainly do not derserve it , considering their Chancellor’s total biased stand towards Iran.
    You will be surprised to see American made products in Iran , especially raw materials for the chemical industry , also considering the USD/Euro ratio.
    This idiot of Levey ( and his various masters ) cannot understand , that he is in the first place blocking ‘legitimate’ American business interests in Iran.
    Intersting to know , that Iranian authorities never imposed a boycott on American products , thus the Iranian custom authorities would never block a cargo and goods , which are made in the US , since 1979 up to now.

  137. Fiorangela says:

    M. Ali, re fingerprinting the Iranian wrestling team — I apologize for my country.

    the quotes from W Morgan Shuster were posted to demonstrate that there was a time when Americans behaved better, toward Iran. Maybe that day will come again.

    huh. but Iran might not want to be bothered with the likes of US.

  138. Anonymous says:

    Could you please credit the photographs you use. Thanks.

  139. James Canning says:

    Voice of Tehran,

    Thanks. My understanding is that German businessmen want to raise their trade levels with Iran in 2011 to a higher point than was achieved last year.

  140. Voice of Tehran says:

    James Canning says:
    January 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    German exports to Iran in 2009 : Euro 3.29 billion
    German exports to Iran in 2010 : Euro 3.45 billion

    Source : German-Iran Chamber of Commerce
    http://www.dihkev.de/de/news/1098-Exporte-Deutschland-Iran

    NOT considering a huge smuggling from PG countries & Turkey to Iran ( UAE , Qatar , Kuwait etc.) from all over the world.
    Iran is currently ‘swimming’ on cash hard currency reserves of more than 140 billion $ (equivalent of USD of course )

  141. M.Ali says:

    Liz, its not that unrealistic. I remember in Khatami’s time, Iran’s wrestling team went to USA for a tournament and they were all held in the airport and fingerprinted individually, like they were going to USA to steal something.

  142. James Canning says:

    Anyone wondering whether Stuart Levey is a total sh*t and idiot will surely be convinced on understanding that Levey tries to prevent Iranian export of rugs woven in villages in Iran!

  143. James Canning says:

    Liz,

    Stuart levey will want to sanction the food vendors who worked the games.

  144. James Canning says:

    Does anyone have the trade statistics for German-Iranian business last year? Was the dollar volume higher in 2010 than it was in 2009?

  145. Liz says:

    M.Ali,

    The US will probably now impose sanctions on the Iranian national football team.

  146. M.Ali says:

    Off-topic, but Iran just beat UAE with 3-0. Iran has won all three games so far, of which none of the other teams have done this tournament. Lets hope this continues in the next round and Iran brings home the Asian Cup!

  147. James Canning says:

    Yes, let’s hope sensible people get tired of Stuart Levey’s global campaign of idiotic interference with legitimate economic activity by Iran and Iranians. Most Americans, of course, have little or no idea of what that sh*t has been up to for years now.

  148. James Canning says:

    Writing in the Financial Times today, Ray Takeyh argued that the economic reforms in Iran are part of an effort by Ahmadinejad to establish a dictatorship. Rubbish.

  149. Fiorangela says:

    John H, W Morgan Shuster was asked to arrange Iran’s finances so that its economy would NOT fall prey to Dutch disease. My understanding (extremely limited) is that one other major element of Dutch disease is that states with resources that can provide for the needs of the state have a tendency to rely solely on those revenues, which are usually under the control of a very few — as in some of the Arab monarchies. Iran, however, has a system of taxation imposed on all citizens, so that all citizens have a stake in the country, and a claim that their voice be recognized.

    Israel, today, is run by about 16 oligarchic families whose wealth-generating interests keep Israel’s government on a tight leash. The US does not depend on resource revenues — its major resource is the productivity of its people; they and their government are also kept on a tight leash by a few oligarchic families (half of the billionaires in the US are Jewish).

  150. Fiorangela says:

    Shuster’s Revenge.

    “The Strangling of Persia: Story of the European Diplomacy and Oriental Intrigue that Resulted in the Denationalization of Twelve Million Mohammedans; A Personal Narrative.” by W. Morgan Shuster, c. 1912, 1939, 1968.

    Dedication:

    TO THE PERSIAN PEOPLE
    “In the endeavor to repay in some slight measure the debt of gratitude imposed on me through their confidence in my purposes toward them and by their unwavering belief, under difficult and forbidding circumstances, in my desire to serve them for the regeneration of their nation, this book is dedicated by the author.”

    from The Forward:

    “The interest shown by the public in the recent happenings in Persia, and a desire to place on record, while the memory is still green, a detailed account of the remarkable series of events which resulted in the writer’s expulsion from the post of Treasurer-general of Persia in January of this year [1911], are responsible for this book.

    {snip}

    “Only the pen of a Macauley or the brush of a Verestchagin could adequately portray the rapidly shifting scenes attending the downfall of this ancient nation, — scenes in which two powerful and presumably enlightened Christian countries played fast and loose with truth, honor, decency and law, one, at least, hesitating not even at the most barbarous cruelties to accomplish its political designs and to put Persia beyond hope of self-regeneration.

    “In the belief that the real interests of humanity and the betterment of international relations demand that the truth be told in cases of this kind, I have written down the facts with a bluntness which perhaps, under other circumstances, would be subject to criticism.

    “The Constitutionalists of Modern Persia will not have lived, struggled, and in many instances, died entirely in vain, if the destruction of Persian sovereignty shall have sharpened somewhat the civilized world’s realization of the spirit of international brigandage which marked the welt-politek of the year 1911.

    W. Morgan Shuster
    Washington, D. C., April 30, 1912″

    from the Forward to,

  151. Fiorangela says:

    Shuster’s Revenge.

    “The Strangling of Persia: Story of the European Diplomacy and Oriental Intrigue that Resulted in the Denationalization of Twelve Million Mohammedans; A Personal Narrative.” by W. Morgan Shuster, c. 1912, 1939, 1968.

    Dedication:

    TO THE PERSIAN PEOPLE
    “In the endeavor to repay in some slight measure the debt of gratitude imposed on me through their confidence in my purposes toward them and by their unwavering belief, under difficult and forbidding circumstances, in my desire to serve them for the regeneration of their nation, this book is dedicated by the author.”

    from The Forward:

    “The interest shown by the public in the recent happenings in Persia, and a desire to place on record, while the memory is still green, a detailed account of the remarkable series of events which resulted in the writer’s expulsion from the post of Treasurer-general of Persia in January of this year [1911], are responsible for this book.

    {snip}

    “Only the pen of a Macauley or the brush of a Verestchagin could adequately portray the rapidly shifting scenes attending the downfall of this ancient nation, — scenes in which two powerful and presumably enlightened Christian countries played fast and loose with truth, honor, decency and law, one, at least, hesitating not even at the most barbarous cruelties to accomplish its political designs and to put Persia beyond hope of self-regeneration.

    “In the belief that the real interests of humanity and the betterment of international relations demand that the truth be told in cases of this kind, I have written down the facts with a bluntness which perhaps, under other circumstances, would be subject to criticism.

    “The Constitutionalists of Modern Persia will hot have lived, struggled, and in many instances, died entirely in vain, if the destruction of Persian sovereignty shall have sharpened somewhat the civilized world’s realization of the spirit of international brigandage which marked the welt-politek of the year 1911.

    W. Morgan Shuster
    Washington, D. C., April 30, 1912″

    from the Forward to,

  152. JohnH says:

    Weird logic. How does increasing the prices of oil and water stimulate domestic demand? Simply put, funds flow out of people’s pockets and into the coffers of government energy and water corporations. There must be some unexplained element to the program, like funding social programs, which will return the money to ordinary folks, who can then stimulate demand.

    The second problem is that all oil economies face the “Dutch disease” where resource exports crowd out all other export categories, crippling the growth and development of manufacturing and even agriculture industries. Iran may be somewhat immune to this because of sanctions, and so these industries may be allowed to grow to supply domestic demand blocked by sanctions.

    All in all, I hope that Ahmadinejad’s program helps ordinary Iranians. But when IMF economists tout the plan, you have to wonder what gives.

  153. Liz says:

    Interesting to see for Iran’s enemies. This is the city where Khatami was born:

    http://www.rajanews.com/detail.asp?id=76729

  154. kooshy says:

    I think authors of this article, should have also noted, that Iran is world’s 17th economy, despite 30 years of western sanctions, various form of containment, threats , and above all, 8 years of western imposed war on her. In comparison despite all this external interruptions, Iran relatively, has built better infrastructures, than majority of her neighbors.

  155. I’d be happy if they would take a few zeros off the toman so an old guy like me could keep track of it and maybe they could ditch those bill counting machines.

  156. kooshy says:

    Iranian@Iran here is one for you and the President Ahmadinijad from a Yazdi

    به‌‌ یزد رفتم و سیما ی را ستان دیدم
    صفا ی مردم ایران با ستان دیدم

  157. Cyrus says:

    With the introduction of subsidies reform, the gasoline sanctions will be tempered as well. One of the favorite media memes about Iran was that Iran “lacks domestic refining capacity” and so gasoline sanctions would hurt them. However aside from the fact that the Iranians were busy building new refinery capacity, the real probem wasn’t a lack of refining capacity as much as it was over-consumption due to state subsidies which literally made gas cheaper than water (and led to massive smuggling to neighboring states.)