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Iran, Israel, and the Real Existential Threat

by TRITA PARSI in Washington, D.C.

17 Aug 2010 20:5052 Comments

Salon: The campaign for war with Iran

saie_ali_khamenaei.jpg[ comment ] Obama administration officials, as well as U.S. lawmakers and European diplomats, passionately made the argument this spring that tough sanctions on Iran were necessary to avoid war. But contrary to their predictions, the drumbeat for war -- particularly from Israel -- has only increased since the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution against Tehran in June.

The latest in this crescendo of voices is Jeffrey Goldberg's article in the Atlantic, "Point of No Return." As the title suggests, it essentially makes the case (though in an uncharacteristically subtle manner by neoconservative standards) that there are no choices left -- war is a fait accompli, and the only question is whether it will be initiated by Israel or by the United States.

"If the Israelis reach the firm conclusion that Obama will not, under any circumstances, launch a strike on Iran, then the countdown will begin for a unilateral Israeli attack," Goldberg writes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Goldberg's description, is a man whose back is against the wall. He cannot accommodate the Obama administration on the Palestinian issue because that would upset his 100-year-old father, and he cannot afford to have faith in Obama's strategy to prevent a nuclear Iran through peaceful means because the threat from Iran is "existential."

Goldberg interviewed roughly 40 former and current Israeli officials for his piece. Although his access to Israeli officials certainly doesn't seem to be lacking, the same cannot be said about his treatment of the assumptions behind the Israeli talking points.

The most critical assumption that Israeli officials have presented publicly for the past 18 years -- long before the firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped on the scene -- is that the Iranian government is irrational and that Iran constitutes an existential threat to Israel.

These departing points in the Israeli analysis eliminate all options on Iran with the exception of preventive military action. An adversary who isn't rational cannot be deterred or contained, because such an actor -- by definition -- does not make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis. In addition, if the foe is presented as an existential threat, then preventive action is the sole rational response. These Israeli assumptions short-cut the entire policy process and skip all the steps that normally are taken before a state determines that force is necessary.

Judging by Israel's rhetoric, it is easy to conclude that these beliefs are genuinely held as undisputable truths by the Israeli security apparatus. But if judged by its actions rather than its rhetoric, a very different image emerges -- one that shows an astute Israeli appreciation for the complexity of Iran's security calculations and decision-making processes, and a recognition that conventional arguments are insufficient to convince Washington to view Iran from an Israeli lens.

Goldberg mentions in his article that the Jewish people and the Iranians have a long and common history. It is a history that has been overwhelmingly positive until recently. Iran is still home to the largest population of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel itself, and the Jewish community's impact on Iranian culture, politics and society runs deep.

In modern times, a strong security relationship developed between these two non-Arab states due to their sense of common threats -- primarily strong Arab nationalist states such as Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, as well as the Soviet Union (which, besides its own designs on the region, was the military backer of these Arab powers).

From the Israeli perspective, this relationship was strategic. The periphery doctrine put in place by David Ben Gurion dictated that Israel's security was best achieved by creating alliances with the non-Arab states in the region's periphery to balance the Arab states in Israel's vicinity. Iran was the most important periphery power, due to its strength and its coveted energy resources.

For the Shah of Iran, however, the relationship was at best a marriage of convenience. An alliance with Israel was needed to balance the Arabs, but only until Iran was strong enough to befriend the Arabs from a position of strength. "If Iran becomes strong enough to be able to deal with the situation [in the region] all by itself, and its relationship with the United States becomes so solidified so that you won't need [Israel], then strategically the direction was to gravitate to the Arabs," Gholam-Reza Afkhami, a former advisor to the Shah, told me in 2004.

In spite of the different value that Iran and Israel ascribed to their relationship, geopolitical factors ensured that it was kept intact -- even after the Islamic fundamentalists took power in Iran through the 1979 revolution.

Goldberg's lengthy essay fails to recognize that throughout the 1980s, in spite of the Iranian government's venomous rhetoric against Israel and its anti-Israeli ideology, the Jewish state sought to retain relations with Iran and actively aided Iran in the Iraq-Iran war. Only three days after Iraqi troops entered Iranian territory, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan interrupted a private visit to Vienna to hold a press conference to urge the United States -- in the middle of the hostage crisis -- to forget the past and help Iran keep up its defenses.

From Israel's perspective, an Iraqi victory would have been disastrous due to the boost it would give the Arab bloc against Israel. By aiding Iran, Israel hoped to prove to the new rulers in Iran the strategic utility of continuing the Iranian-Israeli security collaboration.

Key to this was convincing Washington to engage with Iran. This desire eventually climaxed in the Iran-Contra scandal -- an Israeli initiative led by Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin aimed at bringing the U.S. and Israel into a "broader strategic relationship with Iran." American neoconservatives at the time aided the Israeli effort to lobby the U.S. to talk to Iran, to sell arms to Iran, and to ignore Iran's venomous rhetoric against the Jewish state.

In 1982, Ariel Sharon (then Israel's defense minister) proudly announced on NBC that Israel would continue to sell arms to Iran -- in spite of an American ban on such sales. This occurred while Iran routinely introduced resolutions to expel Israel from the United Nations -- to which the Israelis responded by selling more arms to the Khomeini regime.

With the end of the Cold War came the end of Israeli overtures to Iran. The defeat of Iraq in 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union eliminated the two common threats that had formed the basis for any Israeli-Iranian collaboration.

Though this improved the security environments of both Iran and Israel, it also left both states unchecked. Without Iraq balancing Iran, Tehran could now become a threat, Israeli strategists began to argue. Combined with efforts to define a new order for the region, Iran and Israel were thrown into a strategic rivalry that has continued and intensified till today.

It was at this time, in late 1992, that Israeli Labor Party officials began to publicly depict Iran as an existential threat. Rhetoric reflected intentions and, having been freed from the chains of Iraq, Iran was acquiring the capacity to turn intentions into policy, they argued. The charge was led, incidentally, by Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, who only five years earlier had advised Washington to disregard the rhetoric of the mullahs and view Iran as an opportunity rather than a threat. "Death is at our doorstep," Rabin concluded in 1993 of the Iranian threat, though only five years earlier he had maintained that Iran was a strategic ally.

But it wasn't new Iranian capabilities or a sudden discovery of Iran's anti-Israeli rhetoric that prompted the depiction of Iran as an existential threat. Rather, it was the fear that in the new post-Cold War environment in which Israel had lost much of its strategic significance to Washington, improved relations between the US and Iran could come at the expense of Israeli security interests. Iran would become emboldened and the U.S. would no longer seek to contain its growth. The balance of power would shift from Israel towards Iran and the Jewish state would no longer be able to rely on Washington to control Tehran. "The Great Satan will make up with Iran and forget about Israel," Gerald Steinberg of Bar Ilan University in Israel told me during a visit to Jerusalem.

While this Israeli fear of abandonment was poorly understood in Washington at the time and believed to be exaggerated, the rationale for Israel's concerns has grown significantly over the years due to disagreements with the U.S. on what the ultimate American red line on Iran's nuclear program should be.

During the Bush administration, no daylight could be detected between Washington and Tel Aviv's positions -- enrichment in Iran was not acceptable, period. The Obama administration has been much more ambiguous on this point, however, fueling fears in Israel that America would ultimately -- within a larger settlement with Tehran -- accept enrichment on Iranian soil under strict international inspections.

This has, understandably, fueled more Israeli wariness of Obama's engagement policy with Iran, leaving the Jewish state fearing the success of diplomacy more than its failure, since success by American standards would not qualify as success by Israeli standards.

Two days after President Obama's election victory in November 2008, then-Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni expressed her categorical opposition to U.S. engagement with Iran. "We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue -- in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue -- is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Livni told Israel Radio. Asked if she supported any U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni replied in no uncertain terms: "The answer is no."

A year later, on the eve of sensitive negotiations with the Iranians in Geneva on a fuel swap aimed at removing 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium from Iran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed his fears that anything less than a total halt to uranium enrichment would still leave the possibility of Iran making bomb material. "Not only should enriched material be removed, but enrichment must be stopped in Iran," Barak said. He added that diplomacy must be given only a "short and defined" time before "serious and immediate" sanctions are imposed on Iran.

The Obama administration was angered by Barak's statement, according to Israeli papers, but it also revealed the real fear of the Israelis -- that successful diplomacy would lead to an agreement between the U.S. and Iran that would limit but not end Iran's nuclear program while leaving Israel alone in facing the Iranian challenge. Iran's strengthened position in the region would be recognized by Washington, legitimizing the shift in the balance of power in Iran's favor and ending American efforts to reverse that shift.

Even an Iran that doesn't have nuclear weapons but that can build them would damage Israel's ability to deter militant Palestinian and Lebanese organizations. It would damage the image of Israel as the sole nuclear-armed state in the region and undercut the myth of its invincibility. Gone would be the days when Israel's military supremacy would enable it to dictate the parameters of peace and pursue unilateral peace plans.

This could force Israel to accept territorial compromises with its neighbors in order to deprive Iran of points of hostility that it could use against the Jewish state. Israel simply would not be able to afford a nuclear rivalry with Iran and continued territorial disputes with the Arabs at the same time.

However problematic this scenario would be for Israel, it does not constitute an existential threat. Presenting it as such may have the benefit of pressuring the U.S. not to engage with Iran in the first place, or at a minimum create hurdles to ensure that diplomacy doesn't lead to any U.S.-Iran agreement. But that is not the same as declaring that the Israelis truly believe Iran to be an existential threat, as Goldberg argues.

In fact, several senior Israeli officials have rejected that claim and pointed out the risks it puts Israel under. For instance, Barak told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth in September 2009 that "I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel." A few years earlier, Haaretz revealed that in internal discussions, then-Foreign Minister Livni argued against the idea that a nuclear Iran would constitute an existential threat to Israel. This past summer in Israel, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevi told me the same thing and pointed out that speaking of Iran as an existential threat exaggerates Iran's power and leaves the false -- and dangerous -- impression that Israel is helpless and vulnerable.

This echoed what Halevi told the Washington Post's David Ignatius in 2007. "[Iran] is not an existential threat. It is not within the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel -- at best it can cause Israel grievous damage. Israel is indestructible," he said.

Rather than a factual, critical presentation of where Israel currently stands on Iran and why, Goldberg's article is perhaps better understood as the starting salvo in a long-term campaign to create the necessary conditions for a future war with Iran.

Whether characterizing it as "mainstreaming war with Iran" or "making aggression respectable," Goldberg's article serves to create a false narrative that claims that the two failed meetings held between the U.S. and Iran last October constitute an exhaustion of diplomacy, that deems the Obama administration's crippling, indiscriminate sanctions on Iran a failure only weeks after they've been imposed, and that then leaves only one option remaining on the table: an American or Israeli military strike. And on top of that, if President Obama doesn't green light a bombing campaign, Israel will have no choice but to bomb itself, even though it isn't well-equipped to do so, according to Goldberg.

It is important to note that the aim of this unfolding campaign may not be to pressure Obama into military action. It could just as much serve to portray Obama as weak and indecisive on national security issues that are of grave concern to the U.S. and that are of existential nature to Israel. This portrayal will give the Republicans valuable ammunition for the November congressional elections as well as for the 2012 presidential race.

Indeed, the likely political motivation for this unfolding campaign should not be underestimated. Just as much that the building blocks of the Iraq war were put into place under the Clinton years -- most importantly with the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 -- serious preparation for selling an Iran war to the American public under a Republican president (Palin?) in 2013 must be undertaken now, both to establish the narrative for that sell and to use the narrative to remove any obstacles in the White House along the way.

What is lost in this shadow discussion that only pays lip service to the repercussions of war is the impact any military campaign -- or the mere constant speculation of military strikes -- will have for the Iranian people's struggle for democracy and human rights.

Iranian activists have warned that even raising the specter of war undercuts the opposition in Iran. In the words of the prominent Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji, "Since Iranians, in particular opposition groups, do not want to see a repeat of Afghanistan or Iraq in Iran, they've actually had to scale back their opposition to the government [during the Bush administration] in order not to encourage an invasion [by the U.S.]"

The Obama administration's less bellicose approach to Iran provided space to the pro-democracy movement that Iranian activists were quick to seize upon in 2009. "The mere fact that Obama didn't make military threats made the Green Movement possible," Ganji said. "A military attack would destroy all of that."

If Goldberg's article is the starting salvo of a campaign that does not take into consideration the existential threat this constitutes to the Iranian pro-democracy movement, and that aims to push out Obama and push in a Republican president amenable to a U.S. war against Iran for the sake of avoiding an Israeli war against Iran, then the risk of war in the short term may not be as great as Goldberg claims.

But the long-term risk of a war that is boldly framed as a test of an American president's commitment to Israel should not be easily dismissed.

Dr. Trita Parsi is the author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States." This article was reprinted with permission of Salon.com.

* * *

RELATED READING | The Economist | Why Israel is obsessed with Iran

ONE interesting thing about Jeffrey Goldberg's much-discussed article on Israel's approach to the Iranian nuclear threat is that it is not all that clear what the Iranian nuclear threat actually is. Mr Golberg establishes beyond any doubt that Israelis and their leaders believe that an Iran possessing nuclear weapons would be an existential threat to their country. But most of the Israeli officials he cites don't seem to believe that Iran would use, or deliver to proxies, nuclear weapons to attack Israel. Binyamin Netanyahu tells Mr Goldberg that the threat is not so much a direct attack as a shift in the balance of power in the Middle East, the prospect that Iran's proxies will enjoy a "nuclear umbrella" and other Islamic militants will be "emboldened". (It's not quite clear what a "nuclear umbrella" might mean. Does Mr Netanyahu think Iran would threaten to use nuclear weapons if Israel attacks Hizbollah or Hamas?) Ehud Barak is concerned that the anxiety of a nuclear-armed Iran will drive Israel's youth to gradually emigrate. Do these represent existential worries? Moreover, do they justify the bombing of Iran, with all the catastrophic political and economic consequences that Mr Goldberg lays out in his piece?

RELATED READING | LAT | A shift in Arab views of Iran

Anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. policy is tilting public opinion in favor of Tehran and against Washington.

Click on the links above to continue reading the articles.

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52 Comments

Parsi is a conspiracy theorist who blames everything on Israel and the neo-cons. Perhaps it was sheer murder and terror which has helped the Islamic Republic consolidate power? After the elections he seems to have reached this conclusion, but he has now reverted back to his old ways. Parsi should stop claiming that he speaks for ALL Iranian-Americans.

Laily Joon / August 17, 2010 10:42 PM

Laily Joon

If you doubt that Israel aided Iran in the Iran-Iraq war you are either lying or willfully ignorant, there are plenty of sources on this topic.

Parsi never claimed to speak for ALL Iranian-Americans. The fact that you would attack someone for a position he never claimed gives me an insight to your logically flawed attacks on him.

There are only two people who have consistently attacked Parsi, and that is the traitorous Mojaheds or fanatical elements from the monarchists, both of whom are bitter that their forms of fascism is not currently ruling Iran.

B / August 17, 2010 11:12 PM

The right wingers in Isreal and the Neocons in the United States love the Hardliners in Iran and vice versa. How else would Netanyahu justify the trampling of Palestinian rights and Neocons their multibillion dollar military contracts? How else would the Iranian government explain the suppression of all human rights in Iran?

The military industrial complex needs an eternal enemy to keep the American public scared and to spend hundreds of Billions of dollars on the true WMDs. Iran became the perfect substitute after the fall of USSR. The apartheid regime in Israel needs an existential enemy to keep on receiving American tax payer money and to keep on ignoring Palestinian plight. The fascist government in Tehran needs Zionism and the great Satan to justify its hold power and the killing and uprooting of all rights in Iran.

One simple stream of events to consider: Ahmadinejad came to power directly as the result Bush. Netanyahu came to power directly because of Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad stayed in power because of Netanyahu, and Obama will most likely lose to some nut job because of Ahmadinjead and Netanyahu.

Ali / August 17, 2010 11:14 PM

While I agree with the majority of Trita's points, I believe he inflates the significance of the so-called democracy movement.

If he does so for the purposes of political expediency among his Washington contacts, in order to avert war, then this may be considered acceptable. If, however, he does so out of a sense of partisanship in Iranian politics, then I think his analyses can be considered biased, and indeed many of his perspectives and predictions post-June 2009 election have turned out to be unreliable, as a result of this bias.

Pirouz / August 17, 2010 11:31 PM


Pirouz,

Your pro IR coup agenda has been way too obvious. Your posts always circle back to the same empty talking points that have nothing to do with the articles.

Your masters should look into putting someone else with a bit more brain and wit on this website. Although that would be hard to come by in the current regime.

You try to discredit the Green movement with your every post without any facts to backup your arguments. Everyone can see through your biased agenda and you are only helping the Green cause. Open your eyes and see the truth or at least read Nourizadeh’s last letter to your dear leader. The same is awaiting us all. Your disregard for the pain of your brothers and sisters cannot and will not go unpunished.

Ali / August 18, 2010 1:26 AM

Dr. Parsi has done an outstanding job of refuting Goldberg's claims and lies.

Note that Goldberg quit his undergraduate studies in the US and joined Israel's army. In 1990 he was a guard at a prison where Palestinians who had been arrested during the first Intifada were being kept. In 2002 he published a 17 page "article" in the New Yorker that consisted of sheer lies and nonsense about the non-existent ties between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, which was used to justify invasion of Iraq.

Note also that Goldberg does not say that Israel's leaders, other than Netanyahu, consider a possible nuclear arsenal by Iran (which does not exist) a threat to Israel. Rather, that such an arsenal will cause migration of the elite Israelis to other countries. Professor Sahimi who is a columnist here said exactly the same nearly two years ago:

http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2009/05/19/whats-netanyahu-really-afraid-of/

Asghar Taragheh / August 18, 2010 3:04 AM

Everyone should ignore Pirouz. I feel sorry for him, what a worthless life he has, spending his time anonymously on the Internet defending a brutal regime while choosing to spend his life in a free country. He's a half-educated loser whom I'm sure has never had a productive relationship and will never see happiness apart from the the joy he must get of seeing people murdered in the streets of Tehran. Until he disclose his identity everyone should ignore him.

Manda / August 18, 2010 3:13 AM

to Ali: thanks, Finally Someone Put this clown(pirouz) in his Place. seeing his comments always makes me laugh that how much these people put time and energy to attack the facts as if that would change the reality, so transparent - but I will give credit to whomever managing their paroll and benefits.

Rose / August 18, 2010 3:30 AM

Great article by a superb analyst. Beyond insightful analysis, I think it is the courage to actually write about this and challenge the neo-conservative narrative from a position of expertise on Israel that impresses me. No one else is currently writing what Parsi writes.

Ali Raad / August 18, 2010 6:42 AM

Dear Pirouz,

I prefer civil discourse to name calling.

So, in the spirit of discourse, I'd like to suggest that you fill in the details regarding your statement: "... indeed many of his perspectives and predictions post-June 2009 election have turned out to be unreliable, as a result of this bias..." in your post at 11:31 PM.

You may start with the present article and point to Some examples. You can also add references to past predictions by Parsi that you have found to be unreliable - particularly those illustrating what you have labeled as "bias".

jay / August 18, 2010 6:59 AM

Here's my advice: If any of you have friends or relatives in Iran I'd tell them to run for their lives, because it won't be long before a strong - powerfull nation by the name of Israel is going to give the Iranian government a big time ass kicking they will not soon forget!!

Don Perkins / August 18, 2010 7:16 AM

THANK YOU DR PARSI,FOR THIS GREAT ARTICLE AS USUAL YOU HAVE A WAY OF PUTING THE BEST WORDS TOGETHER TO EXPLAIN THE EVENTS.I CANNOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE.IF ANY ONE HAS ANY DOUBT IN DR PARSI ANAYLSIS OF THE EVENTS,SHOULD HAVE WATCHED AN 1 HR PROGRAM ON PBS FRONTLINE,WHICH IN DETAILED CAME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION THAT DR PARSI HAS COME.

fay / August 18, 2010 8:04 AM

Arguably, Glenn Greenwald's expose of Goldberg's propaganda is even more compelling and devastating than Trita Parsi's own admirable effort.


Greenwald begins by arraying extracts from Goldberg's 2002 and 2010 articles, inviting readers to examine how reason is distorted and facts are falsified - each time in a starkly different direction - to suit the propaganda imperative of the day:


"Saddam Hussein never gave up his hope of turning Iraq into a nuclear power. After the Osirak attack, he rebuilt, redoubled his efforts, and dispersed his facilities. Those who have followed Saddam's progress believe that no single strike today would eradicate his nuclear program."
(Geoffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker, 2002)


"Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy's nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting - forever, as it turned out -Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions ... An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity."
(Geoffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, 2010)


Thus, the 2010 article on Iran conveys the impression that an air assault will solve the problem "indefinitely," citing the effective precedent of the 1981 Osirak raid, while the 2002 screed casts doubt on the efficacy of air strikes on Iraq, implying that Saddam had rebuilt and broadened his nuclear program so extensively that only invasion and regime change can thwart the danger.


Interested readers can access Greenwald's piece at Salon:


http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/12/goldberg/index.html

Ali from Tehran / August 18, 2010 9:04 AM

Gee whiz, folks. For someone y'all want to ignore, you sure devote a lot of attention my way!

I voted Green in the 2009 election, and I'll likely always vote for the more liberal political candidate in Iranian elections.

That said, I accept the result of the 2009 election, and I accept Iran for what it is, politically and socially. should you consider such a perspective "clownish," so be it. Myself, I see it as being realistic.

And just so you know, Pirouz is my real name.

Pirouz / August 18, 2010 12:21 PM

Sargord Pirouz has been put in his place time and time again on several forums. Yet he keeps pushing the same type of comments over and over again, hoping some people will be eventually be convinced through brute repetitiveness to eventually follow the IRI line. Just go look at Trita Parsi's own blog at niacinsight.

By the way, very informative article Trita. Thank you.

GooGoo / August 18, 2010 12:21 PM

I do not like normally to pick and choose sounbites out of carefully worded arguments but in this case without pages to respond have a couple that are indefensible to musc of the rest and its conclusions I hasten to add In my humble opinion.
1)There is no such thing as " preventative military action" that is precisely how wars start.
2) The Israeli politicians play both ends against the middle a large Jewish community in Iran, which we use diplomatically then ignore it when planning aggression as per 1 above.
3) The Israelis then rely on US military support and also political support for the State of Israel.Then the US believes in=t can arbitrate fairl a peace settlement with the Palestinians and that the arab world believes is viable.
For me its long time since I read such an obfuscated diatribe.
Regards,
J.V.H.

J.V.Hodgson / August 18, 2010 12:46 PM

Pirouz has nevertheless hit upon something correct: "[Parsi] inflates the significance of the so-called democracy movement."

The argument that an attack on Iran would "destroy" the democracy movement is not accurate or persuasive, but is always stated as if it were an established fact without the need for supporting evidence. This argument has, recently, always accompanied anti-war pieces; as though Iranian dissidents are a kind of human shield for the nuclear sites. "Stop, or we'll torture more dissidents!" is what Iran is asking left-wing journalists in the West to tell us. I'm not beating the drums, just pointing out how sick that thinking is.

Ian / August 18, 2010 2:24 PM

Ian:

Once again you prove to be completely off the mark. It's not "Stop, or we'll torture more dissidents!" It's more accurately, "We need an excuse to commit murder on a mass scale against our own people." And a military strike will give them just that excuse. Please read a thing or two about Iran in the last 30 years at the least, Iranian history didn't start in June 2009.

However, I'm glad you and Pirouz found something to agree on. I suspect you two have a lot more in common than you think.

B / August 18, 2010 6:45 PM

To All
Well guys sorry to be a little bit out of line here but i can not help it but to say shut up to this "Don Perkins" bragging about " big time ass kicking ...etc". He just seem to be one of those empty headed mavericks spitting out venoms of war and blood.

Israel has a strong military might, no doubt about it , yet they know it as well as Americans that taking out some Nuclear facilities might slow down but most likely wont stop the regime from pursuing their nuclear ambitions.
To be realistic, It actually would give a God-given! justification to the hardliners in IRGC ...etc to put all their efforts in making deployable nuclear weapons that no doubt would be used against whoever attacked them.

Now imagine the state of Israeli psyche and public opinion in aftermath of an attack against Iran. They would have to live with this fear that when and how they are gonna get attacked back. The region would have to suffer another wave of tension and uncertainty, the radical hardliners all over the place would find great excuse to stir up more negative campaign against Israel and west, oil prices would skyrocket for a while, a new arm race would take off by Israelis having to get more weapons of kind to shore up their defense and as such the rest of paranoid arab states in the region.
Who want that? Ups! i forgot we still have people like

Attacking Iran is not wise nor ignoring him. Israel would be better off to live with it and accept the changes on the ground. Iran would get its Nucs, whether we want or not.

If Israel would come to terms with Palestinian and would settle with Syria, then perhaps Iran would have less reasons to be so belligerent but even then i highly doubt that hardliners would stop fancying some Nucs in their arsenal.

What a crazy world we live in.

PersianTraveler / August 18, 2010 7:50 PM

B,

> It's not "Stop, or we'll torture more dissidents!"
> It's more accurately, "We need an excuse to commit murder on a mass scale against our own people."
Keep believing they would do that, and that's a good argument against an Israeli attack. Unfortunately it's purely a rhetorical stance.

Ian / August 18, 2010 11:54 PM

Ian:

You are more like Pirouz everyday in your insistence on being an ass. You are a complete imbecile if you think the IRI has not committed murder against their own people on a large scale. You think the executions, the hanging judges, the purges are made up? I can't even believe I engaged someone so colossally stupid and ignorant of modern history.

B / August 19, 2010 4:12 AM

B,

Wow -- that was an impressive attempt to totally misconstrue my remarks.

I believe I said that the hypothetical civil clampdown in response to attacks on nuclear sites is exaggerated. Yes, "exaggerated". Anything else is your imagination.

Furthermore, the twin arguments that (1) the flaky elements of the Green movement would increase their support for the government as a result of an attack , and that (2) the government would start a massive clampdown, seems somewhat perverse: it implies that the Green movement would support a government whilst it murdered them. This may not be too far from reality -- I doubt it, but I accept the possibility, though it is a perverse one -- but I really think a more nuanced interpretation is necessary, and unfortunately it seems very few journalists writing in English have a clear idea of Iranian society or know what the *actual* effects of such an attack are likely to be.

Thus, my interpretation of comments along the lines of "don't shoot, or the Green movement will die" is that they are superficial and don't seem evidenced by fact. I raised this topic in the comments to the "drumbeats" article and some people seemed to think that, in fact, the Green movement would not give up the struggle if Iran were attacked, and that it could very well *not* increase support for the government. However, again this is hardly a nuanced view. I'm interested in hearing other people's opinions on this topic, and I don't claim to know the answer.

Ian / August 19, 2010 5:09 PM

Ian, apart from a morbid sense of curiosity, why are you so acutely interested in the ramifications of a "brief bombing campaign" on Iran's domestic political alignments?


Pray tell.

Ali from Tehran / August 19, 2010 7:00 PM

very informative article Trita. Thank you.

Alal / August 19, 2010 8:34 PM

Ali from Tehran,

I don’t agree that I’m being “morbid” about any of this. I’m concerned about the ramifications of an attack for Iran’s internal politics because I think the Iranian people deserve better than what they have, and it would be very unfortunate if bombing were to have the effect of causing even a short-term collapse of the as-yet inchoate Green movement. If I believed that it would seriously hurt the Greens, I might be against an attack, but I don’t believe it. And as a point of note, whilst I’m in favour of a very selective attack on key nuclear sites, I totally reject the notion recently circulated on the right wing of US and UK politics that “we” ought to support the MEK cult (basically because they’re organised and compliant), and I am attempting to help some people understand it’s not an either/or between helping the Greens and dealing with the nuclear problem. I think what some people (especially Iranians) don’t understand is that it’s possible to care about the Iranian people whilst also being aware of the threat posed by the current Iranian government with its nuclear programme, and I think this (in fact) underlies much of Westerners’ thinking and (to a lesser, but still significant, extent) has a bearing on decision-makers.

If there is to be an attack, I think whoever does it should (if possible) take out satellite jamming stations along the way, and maybe also other communications centres where cell phones are monitored, etc. I realise this might be difficult without taking out all comms, and whilst taking these limited measures would be a form of interference in Iranian politics that’s liable to delegitimize the Green movement somewhat, if the diaspora Greens had an ounce of common sense they would be trying to use these sorts of possibilities to their advantage and press for the *right* kind of military help, and organise behind an attack so as to pounce at the right time by pressuring Khamenei (through massive peaceful protests made possible by comms) to ditch the hardliners and hold a fresh election. I don’t know how plausible this scenario is, but as a possibility it ought to be explored rationally (and, if necessary, discarded). This would involve some compromises with US-UK, but I think it’s still worth it.

However, if the diaspora can’t countenance this sort of discourse – and they certainly show no signs of being even remotely amenable to it – then another possible outcome is that in a few years time under a US Republican administration there could be a repeat of Iraq, which would obviously be gut-wrenchingly horrible even for those outside Iran who support the democratic struggle of young Iranians, let alone how horrible and frequently deadly it would be for the Iranian people.

In other words, your question is back to front: I’m not interested in Iranian politics because of some imperialistic fantasy about attacking another country; rather, my interest in Iranian politics comes first, and I’ve only recently come to realise that an attack has to be factored in to the plans of the Green movement (which I support, to the extent of actually getting off my backside for it).

The problem is twofold: one, that some Greens don’t yet take the threat of attack seriously enough (certainly not an Iraq-style land invasion) – but they should; and two, that they can’t really stomach the idea of supporting an attack on their own country because they distrust the Americans and they don’t want to compromise (problems which, apparently, the MEK don’t have). These viewpoints seem largely to have been formulated for the diaspora by the left-leaning Western press, which many people assume to be benign and to have their best interests at heart, but which is really just using the Iranians as a pawn in a game between West and East in precisely the way that the right wants to use the MEK as a pawn. The argument against an attack on the grounds that it would hurt the Greens is typical propaganda of this kind, designed solely to prevent an attack because it would not be in Moscow’s interest (and despite their attempts to act cool, Moscow is desperate to prevent an attack – they fear the West is getting “out of control”). Another false talking-point is the notion that the Iranian government acts intelligently (and considers "cost-benefit"), when in fact their actions merely betray signs of low cunning intended to disguise their cruelly misanthropic intentions, as revealed by their actions against their own people over decades and their inability to distinguish fact from fiction (as in the case of their holocaust denial) when they dimly perceive the fiction suits their goals. All this leads Greens to (effectively) choose Russia's narrative over that of the West, which is sad because it is entirely against the real interests of the Green movement, and they dabble with the leftist narrative at their (genuine) peril.

At this stage, it seems as though the Iranian people have a choice between the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing nexus (which would keep them in slavery through whatever means) or a secular and democratic Western-leaning Tehran. Unfortunately, most Greens actually seem to hate the idea of Western interference even more than the much more obvious control exerted especially by Russia, and even though chants of “Marg bar Rusiye” were heard during Rafsanjani’s famous oration last summer. But shortly, and if the Greens do nothing and continue to hedge their bets based on the respect they have accumulated, the choices will be made for them in their absence. I think they need to understand what is happening to them in the global arena much better than they currently do. If any Greens out there do understand these arguments and their wider historical context, and are willing to engage in this kind of discourse, I’d love to hear views about whether or not I’m on the right track. Obviously I think I am on the right track, but I like to have my “preconceptions” challenged intelligently and I like being found wrong because (selfishly) I think it helps me.

So, Ali, to summarize: I am “acutely interested” in Iranian politics because I am a freedom-loving Westerner who wants Iranians to be free of tyranny. Everything else is just a means to that end, and if you don’t like my proposed methods then suggest something better.

Ian / August 19, 2010 11:11 PM

You are a "freedom-loving Westerner who wants Iranians to be free of tyranny" and "[e]verything else is just a means to that end"?


Do you believe that, as a non-Iranian, you are eligible to package prescriptions for ending tyranny in Iran?


Have you considered the remote possibility that Iranians will figure out the most appropriate way to chart their own future without the uninvited guidance and assistance of Anglo-American bomber crews and armchair generals?

Ali from Tehran / August 20, 2010 12:09 AM

Ian:

I apologize, I now see that all of your comments are facetious. When you claim to be a "freedom-loving Westerner who wants Iranians to be free of tyranny" you are actually in on the joke.

Because only an ass believes that America's imperialist designs from Egypt to Afghanistan are in the interest of "freedom from tyranny." Sorry, my bad. Here I was taking you literally while the whole it was a satiric sketch.

B / August 20, 2010 12:34 AM

Ali from Tehran,

> Have you considered the remote possibility that Iranians will figure out the most appropriate way
> to chart their own future without the uninvited guidance and assistance
> of Anglo-American bomber crews and armchair generals?
Yes, and I've concluded that they are – basically – as stupid as the populace of Western countries; i.e., they end up being the slaves of their "elected" governors and have no say in the matter unless they choose something different. Next question!


> Here I was taking you literally
No, I think you were trying your best to misconstrue me and insult me. Is that OK if you claim to have the interests of the Iranian people at heart? Not in my view.


Of course, neither of these comments addresses the points I made in my previous comment.

Ian / August 20, 2010 12:49 AM

Ian,


The reason I did not engage in discussion of your points of Aug 19 @ 11:11 PM is because of the presumptive condescension which informs them: that anonymous You, as a non-Iranian, discerns Iran's interests better than the entirety of its "stupid" population, and is therefore authorized, obliged even, to package prescriptions charting its destiny.


You caution the Green Movement that its opposition to bombing Iran is not a genuine sentiment based on rational native thought, but rather has been insidiously planted in its mind by pro-Moscow leftists in Western media and academia.


You sternly advise Iranians to make choices amenable to, and supportive of, Western interests before the Green Movement's store of goodwill is depleted and choices are "made for them in their absence," the only two remaining choices allegedly being a full-scale Anglo-American land invasion or total absorption into the Sino-Russian sphere of drudgery.


All of this rambling and scaremongering seems like the White Man's Burden in drag.


You invite readers to challenge your preconceptions intelligently and prove you wrong on the perceived effects and potential benefits of finely-modulated Western violence against Iran.


What you fail to realize is that, as a non-Iranian (and an anonymous one to boot), you are simply not a genuine stakeholder and therefore not even entitled to hold a discussion with us on the violent premises you offer.

Ali from Tehran / August 20, 2010 8:07 AM

good article, and better comments from people;

Ian

the fact is, if change is going to happen it has to happen from inside the current political system, similar to the collapse of the soviet union; war, any sort of attack, limited or ground invasion, will result as Iranians putting aside all differences and DEFENDING their land (west must understand this) and, or external fractions will only complicate the situation.

i think that mousavi/ khatami or the reformists ( known as Greens) have finally tasted the betrayal from the very system that they truly believed and invested in; thus should make them know the only way to survive and to redeem themselves is to actually try to get a free election by enforcing the existing "constitution", as khatami has always insisted on, to move in context of the LAW, the most unfamiliar word in Iranian history especially during the IR era

to create external threat will demolish this hope. the sure thing is, Iran has changed alot even from a year ago and will continue to change, surly we are witnessing a true turning point in Iran's history, i just hope this reform happens with the minimum price paid by the public

all i see is that things shouldn't happen over night, it should happen step by step, this is a timely process, if you're really looking for a stable democracy in Iran; but unfortunately WEST is too obsessed with Israel and the imaginary threat that Iran exposes towards Israels existence; trust me even A.N and the current fanatics wouldn't nuke Palestine, remember they know the land as "occupied Palestine" . even for destroying "wiping off the map" (which is an intentionally misinterpreted expression, what he really means Israel will be replaced by Palestine, one state resolution), I can't find a reason why they wait so long, they would do it when US is neck deep in Iraq and vulnerable, not when they can't reach them after pulling out of Iraq.!

it's hard to believe that western policy makers care about the common people in Iran. one must be really naive to fall for that, "if you trick me once, shame on you, but if you trick me twice shame on me";

so if west is really interested in solving the problem and eliminating Iran's so called threat is to push Israel towards a two state solution with Palestinians, stop east Jerusalem developments and stop the Gaza blockade....get them to negotiating table. Israel doesn't want that..you know it we all know it

west needs to understand and stop it's threats towards Iran, that's when the opposition (Greens) inside Iran will get the chance to push forward, for a referendum or a free (from IR point of view) election.

once an elected government is in power then the Islamic republic constitution must be revised into a republic (based on Iranian values, not western.."Jomhori Irani" ), the armed forces should be defined as protectors of that constitution and the country, not the leaders (velayat faghih); an independent Judicial system then has to start investigating and prosecuting all responsible for all the crimes that has took place in the past 30 years or more, (i look forward to see Neda's murderer and those responsible of raping, torturing and murdering many others in prisons, come to justice some day)...
and of course to re-define foreign policy and work towards clearing the misunderstandings with the international community
while most importantly, educating the public, the manner of tolerance and respect towards objection and opposition of any kind, and especially towards different religious and political views; without considering that objection as an "enemy" ; i strongly believe this imaginary "enemy" figure has turned into an problematic political/social culture inside Iran

this needs time......so Ian, if your voice is heard inside the western decision makers circle, do reflect what, free, democratic Iranians really want

unfortunately all this is more like a nice dream, even to myself......

latest news:

Ahmadinejad says Iran ready for nuclear talks: report

"We promise to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent if fuel supply is ensured," he said in the exclusive interview in

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/7795055/ahmadinejad-says-iran-ready-for-nuclear-talks-report/

Alal / August 20, 2010 11:27 AM

Dear Ali From Tehran,

Having been stunned by Ian's newfound sympathy and admiration for ordinary Iranians (the ones unharmed by surgical strikes), I was about to congratulate him for enduring what must be an amazing two weeks of contorted transformation - from historian to international legal scholar and now an international "social worker".

Relief it was when I ran across your writing (August 20, 2010 8:07 AM).

You have captured it in two words "presumptive condescension"!

Although, I must admit, a jaded observer may suggest "sophistry" instead.

jay / August 21, 2010 4:24 AM

"And just so you know, Pirouz is my real name."

And your rank in the islamist intelligence and propaganda unit?

Agha Irani / August 21, 2010 8:17 AM

Ian,

exactly what level of military action do you propose? land invasion? 'surgical' aistrikes on nuclear sites? which ones? research facilities too? with what kind of weaponry? what about the sites built deep under gound and inside mountains? what about the scientists and engineers with the knowhow?

Do you propose also taking out IRCG bases? reg army bases? Bassij centers?
communication centers, key bridges, government building? banks? Khamanai's bedroom? military factories? intelligence ministery?

Do you propose taking out the nuclear sites (and graciously, internet/mobile filter centers) and be done? problem solved?

How long do you think that would delay the nuclear capability? 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? then what?
Iraq-like sanctions?
then what?
reload,repeat? then what? land invasion when US is in a better position and not as stretched?

we have seen this play out before, have we not?

What has happened in Iraq is a disgrace and should never happen again.

You want to know how young educated Iranians would feel about military attack? put yourself in their shoes for 1 sec. if you had family and loved ones, friends and country men in danger, killed, and your cities bombed, how would you feel?
Bush's populaity was in high 80s right after 911, no? and got him a second term, right? why not Khamanai? you dont think aan attack would be throwing a lifeline to Khamani?


Read Ali's comments above. warmongering and aggressive posturing only helps the hardliners and reactionaries. talk of war is the glue that holds the gaping fissures in the regime.

Obama extended his hand, and the regime split in half in an instant. As we speak the reactionaries are splintering further. Their system is erroding from inside, not unlike the soviet union. It is bankrupt, economically and morally and has no legitimacy in the country. there is growing infighting within what is left in the regime (they have already pushed out some of their best politicians). they are more obssessed with wrestling money and power from eachother than running a country.
But an attck or fear of attack would instanly unite them, prolong their reign,
and kill any democratic hope for Iran.


finally, you asked about the extent of govt crackdown on opposition in case of war. The worse abuses by IR happened in the 80s under the cover of Iran_iraq war.

War was so critical to their crackdown, that once Khomeini realized it was coming to an end he quickly moved in to finish the job by executing thousands of political prisoners, many of whom there on minor charges (liking selling flyers) or little time left in their sentences (the most hardcore had already been killed). that is how critical war is to crushing opposition. And this is not just in Iran, which you should know as a historian.

so yes, I have no doubt that the regime would use an attack to finish off the student movement ("US and Israeli spys") that you refer to as the 'green' movement.


Ahvaz / August 22, 2010 1:52 PM

Alal,

Thanks for your reply.

I wasn’t talking about any sort of invasion of Iran, but about finding a way for the Green movement to utilize limited military action to its advantage by blaming it on the hardliners. However, I understand it’s already difficult enough for the Greens to be able to argue the distinction between (on the one hand) Western values and culture, and (on the other hand) Western institutions which are clearly trying to inspire some kind of revolution, especially with so many Uncle Napoleons about. I’m no expert on revolutionary movements, but it does seem that Iran has built up extremely effective psychological barriers to offers of Western help – in contradistinction from other post-WWII revolutionary movements where the internationalist nature of the struggle, and the line between free-market capitalism and communism, was better understood and where groups consequently welcomed foreign help (from one side or the other) with fewer scruples.

And revolutions ain’t what they used to be: Gene Sharp’s non-violent resistance playbook is a far cry from the old and unclassified CIA handbook. The idea of non-violent resistance stems from the understanding that the state (in these days of expensive and complex weaponry) has a monopoly on violence; but you’re going too far in that direction by arguing for a purely democratic movement that uses strictly lawful means (i.e., political negotiation) to achieve its ends, when Iran is _not_ a real democracy and when it has a monopoly on “law”. Even such things as defacing banknotes with Green slogans have apparently failed because of “law”. And the state doesn’t have to abide by the laws that it applies to ordinary civilians – the Basij militia is a good example of selective application of law, and apparently even the Majles is ignored when necessary – so the game is totally fixed. On this subject, let me refer you to Chapter 2 of “From Dictatorship to Democracy”, available here:
English: http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations/org/FDTD.pdf
Farsi: http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations/org/Farsi-FDTD-1.pdf

I see this book got a mention here as recently as June:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/06/addressing-the-supreme-leader.html
and I’m sure everyone’s heard of it a dozen times by now, but it’s worth repeating the TB correspondent’s question: “Why [have] Mousavi and the Green Movement [...] engaged in fewer than a dozen of the activities listed by Sharp, and those mostly symbolic forms of protest”?

I realise that where I go beyond Gene Sharp’s playbook I can come across a bit violent, but I think it’s partly the mantra of non-violent resistance (a form of resistance not entirely suited to Iran) that ended the 2009 protests. At the time, I suggested to other online armchair generals and subsequently to the protesters that they should either start using caltrops against the Basij motorbikes or be defeated (caltrops come close to, or go slightly over, the borderline of what can be called “peaceful” protest, but perhaps no more than rolling over buses, burning Basij stations and blowing up gas mains). In retrospect, I think I was probably correct on that one; but whilst some lessons seem to have been learned in the West (not that some of them need encouragement in that direction, esp. the Israelis), inside Iran there has clearly been a retreat even from purely non-violent resistance towards the sort of forlorn strategy that you suggest.

Now, with the crushing of the protests the options are starker and less favourable both to Iranians and to the West. It’s got to the point where political negotiations by reformists have only resulted in a strengthening of the hardliners, and now they’re confident enough even to raise the fear that a foreign attack on the nuclear facilities would end up destroying the Green movement (see Pirouz’s comment above) – as though the Greens haven’t already been crushed – whilst talk of Mousavi negotiating with Khamenei only shows the depth of despair within the movement.

In these straits, it’s simply absurd to expect (as you seem to be saying) that the West should do nothing except wait till the reformists have won (what, next century?), then meekly push the Israelis towards a solution to the Palestinian problem that favours Iran. Meanwhile, pressure from the Green movement to avoid bombing nuclear facilities merely adds to the general frustration with the Greens, who seem far more susceptible to Iranian propaganda than they realise; to the point where US Republican support for the MEK looks almost sensible. The attitude is, frankly, that if the Greens don’t have the organization and the cojones to change Iran then “we” will find some others who do. Increasingly, the MEK are representing Iranian people in the Western media and on the streets, which is a completely bizarre situation that does *not* serve the interests of Iranian reformists and can only be rectified by a strengthening of the Green movement inside Iran, which (again) can only happen if they can unreservedly adopt a strategy of serious non-violent resistance without fear of its Western influences.

Incidentally, this is slightly off-topic but I’d just like to bring in the subject of the fueling of Bushehr which began yesterday. I was completely off-base in my analysis of that issue, thinking it was going to be a Phoebus rising at the dawn for Iran when in fact it came at the cost of future Russian support for Iran and will only serve to delegitimize the uranium enrichment programme whilst international support is strengthened for further measures (including military ones). If anyone thinks the problem is going away, think again; but when Iran won’t even live up to its obligations under the NPT – even under threat of attack – then what hope is there for a purely democratic constitutional revolution inside the country? So if the Greens don’t want to covertly support an attack for fear of being labelled traitors, then I hope at least they will remain neutral and _try_ to do some of the things Gene Sharp suggests or (like I said) the Greens will find themselves isolated everywhere. The key to that is for individuals within the movement to decide for themselves where the real threat to their country is: from so-called “foreign spies” like Gene Sharp offering guidance and support, or from those who use broomsticks to bugger political prisoners and who put mothers in prison for having the wrong type of baby.

Ian / August 22, 2010 9:25 PM

Ahvaz,

As noted previously, I was not suggesting anything like a land invasion, but mooted the possibility that a brief aerial bombardment of nuclear sites might also allow for targeted strikes against certain IRGC comms buildings. I don’t know what effect that would have on the timeline for nuclear weaponization, but it would delay things especially because tougher measures are now in place to prevent new equipment reaching Iran.

As I’ve also previously said, I don’t think limited military action would necessarily “destroy” the Green movement in the manner suggested by the left-wing press, but that depends on how serious the Greens are about getting rid of the current regime. You make a comparison with the Soviet Union, but not a good one because it was the constant threat of military escalation and its own self-enforced isolation that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union, and Iran is now in a similar situation; so in many ways this is a useful strategy for the West. And in the case of the Soviet Union, whilst there was an important period of détente with the West (largely thanks to Oleg Gordievsky’s defection to Britain) which made possible the eventual collapse (when Reagan moved away from calling them the “evil empire”), that is simply not possible with a state whose actions are justified based on religion and not mere political ideology, and which constantly refers to the USA as a kind of “evil empire” and which is every bit as aggressive in its foreign policy as the Soviet Union. Under these circumstances, appeasement – seemingly the preferred option for the Greens – is simply not possible, and it would do nothing to resolve the nuclear issue or any other issue including basic human rights for Iranians.

I can only re-state what I said originally on this topic: the importance of the Green movement on the international scene in respect of future outcomes is greatly exaggerated.

As for an Iranian government crackdown in the event of military action, as with the MEK in the Iran-Iraq war, this is of course entirely possible (and would certainly have some psychological value), but again I think it’s being exaggerated for effect. There would be some polarisation within the Green movement between those supportive of the government’s position and those who think it’s folly; but I recognise that the nuclear issue is separate from the human rights issues that lie at the heart of the Green movement, so it’s perhaps better to look at the population as a whole rather than focus on the Greens. With that in mind, I’d be interested to hear about general Iranian public opinion in respect of the sanctions so far imposed – do people buy the Iranian line that they are “illegal”, for instance?

Ian / August 22, 2010 10:39 PM

..""I wasn’t talking about any sort of invasion of Iran, but about finding a way for the Green movement to utilize limited military action to its advantage by blaming it on the hardliners.""..

utilizing limited military action??

isn't that called invasion?

Ian
It seems you need to learn a lot about Iran and Iranians, and you have a long way to go

Alal / August 23, 2010 9:04 AM

Ian
1) as a westerner with Israeli issues, you clearly don't understand that any sort of invasion will unite Iranians, i live aboard but will promise you that i will be on the first flight back to defend my country when necessary, regardless who in power

2) ..."" when Iran is _not_ a real democracy and when it has a monopoly on “law""...
you clearly don't know the situation inside Iran and Iranian mentality, yes we all know that there is NO real democracy especially from the western definition, but i need to remind you there are all ready cracks within the very IRGC and basij you talk about, they are Iranians and Iranians have proven in history that they're incapable of killing one another, you can't find it in history an Iranian civil war; again push forward in context of that LAW...study it it is possible, Iran right now is fire beneath ashes

3) ..""In these straits, it’s simply absurd to expect (as you seem to be saying) that the West should do nothing except wait till the reformists have won (what, next century?), then meekly push the Israelis towards a solution to the Palestinian problem that favours Iran.""...

you mean a two state solution with Palestinians, stopping east Jerusalem developments and ending the Gaza blockade?

NO these are the most logical solutions to a crisis that WEST created 60 years ago...Iran and the fanatics favor a one state solution called Palestine..!! check your sources

if west happens to do this then Iran will lose her major supporters in Mideast such as Turkey and Syria... that's what i call pressure..!!

4) ..""Meanwhile, pressure from the Green movement to avoid bombing nuclear facilities merely adds to the general frustration with the Greens, who seem far more susceptible to Iranian propaganda than they realise; to the point where US Republican support for the MEK looks almost sensible.""...

dude you just lost it there...even I don't support and have Nil respect for MEK...they're a lost cause DO inform your leaders..!!

5) .. ""The attitude is, frankly, that if the Greens don’t have the organization and the cojones to change Iran then “we” will find some others who do""..

sit back, hold your horses...you've done enough damage since the coup against Dr. Mossadegh...that was western valued democracy back in 1952, with thanks to you Iran lost

6) ..""Increasingly, the MEK are representing Iranian people in the Western media and on the streets,""..

BS my ass, i assure you they will never find their way back in the country...an Islamic communist party?? you must be kidding me, well you just lost me back into Ahmadinejads camp ;)

7) ..""but when Iran won’t even live up to its obligations under the NPT""..

by Israeli standards?? give me a break

well I just had enough of your propaganda, i thought we can communicate with reason and not propaganda, this is exactly the attitude which makes the situation so complicated, learn while one side assumes they're Superior then the other side and lack the ability to communicate with mutual respect without considering a win- win solution and keep pushing for " i know whats good for you (meaning I don't know??)..."

whats good for me? being bombed by white phosphorus bombs? or with Depleted Uranium - The Real Dirty Bombs?

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11611

http://www.rense.com/general56/dep.htm

I tell you whats absurd...you and your pathetic ways of telling us whats good for our country

i tell you what... in Iran they have already digged mass graves for Americans troops and in south Lebanon the Hezbollah militia are just itching to step in to Israel..so i guess that see you at the battle front ;)

Alal / August 23, 2010 11:50 AM

Alal,

Thanks for your reply.

I’ve been at pains to point out that I’ve been talking all along about limited air attacks on nuclear sites, not a *land* invasion. Air attacks still count as “invasion”, yes, but you really don’t seem to be reading what I’ve written and seem more more interested in issuing shrill condemnations than in making a reasoned argument.

I made a point about Iran not fulfilling its obligations under the NPT, and you imply this is Israeli propaganda. Not so: if you look at the latest IAEA report, it’s clear that Iran is not cooperating on several counts; it’s also clear that Iran has technically violated Article II of the NPT vis-a-vis information received via the A.Q. Khan network. When I said Greens are more susceptible to Iranian propaganda than they realise, this is what I meant. There was a fairly lengthy discussion of this in a recent Tehran Bureau discussion where I looked at the primary source material and was able to conclude that the information being written on the matter from the Iranian side was clearly being deliberately falsified to suit an agenda – at least in one important respect, the matter of IAEA compliance. Also Iran calling UN sanctions “illegal” simply does not square either with UN precedent or with international legal opinion. In short, Iran is in breach of its obligations and has been condemned internationally, and Iran and the Iranian people are being punished for the actions of their leaders but are being led to believe that it’s all grotesquely unfair.

Just so we’re clear: the position of my country (Great Britain) on this matter is that Iran should comply with the IAEA on all points. Why should any country trust Iran on the nuclear issue if they can’t provide answers to simple questions about production of detonators, etc.? I think this is a perfectly reasonable position to take, quite frankly, and I don’t see what the problem is. To be blamed by seemingly moderate Iranians for this – being called a Zionist or a Western propagandist, etc. – only indicates to me that Iranians are being badly misled by their own government in this as in other matters; but I understand that nobody likes to be told they’re wrong by someone whom they have grown up to believe is the enemy.

You raise a number of other complaints, implying for instance that I support the MEK; and you selectively quote me, omitting an important section of the sentence I wrote, which was:
“Increasingly, the MEK are representing Iranian people in the Western media and on the streets, which is a completely bizarre situation that does *not* serve the interests of Iranian reformists and can only be rectified by a strengthening of the Green movement inside Iran [...]”
In other words, I think it’s bizarre that the MEK are being put forward in the Western media to represent Iranians. I have grave concerns about that, and have raised the matter in response to pro-MEK propaganda issued by the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. My point to you was that the weakness of the Green movement and (secondly) its unwillingness to engage with Western concerns about the nuclear programme is dangerous because it allows others like the MEK to gain ground. I think this is a fair point, but if you want to go “back into Ahmadinejads camp” (implying you were there before) on the basis of some trivial misunderstanding then I’m sure they’ve some important human cattle-prodding that needs doing.

You make some other points, implying for instance that I misunderstand the Iranian position on Israel and how it differs from what you presented; but that is not the case (at least on the grounds you choose), and you repeatedly misconstrue me and seem to be trying to pick holes rather than to understand, which comes across (frankly) as an effort to alienate people like me, i.e., Westerners who are basically sympathetic and who (in spite of clear differences, esp. over the nuclear programme) want to see a happy and free Middle East. In that respect you won’t succeed. I wonder whether it’s my support for non-violent resistance in Iran that is the problem, or my suggestion that maybe something useful can be achieved by the Greens even if the West decides to attack? Since you haven’t addressed the *many* points I made about non-violent resistance, I might be led to conclude that you are trying to steer us away from that issue.

I’ll leave all your other points to one side and just end with a response to your other brief comment:
> It seems you need to learn a lot about Iran and Iranians, and you have a long way to go
Undoubtedly I *do* have a lot to learn about Iran and Iranians, yes. It can be very difficult to understand a culture from a foreign perspective, especially a very old one like Iran; but I could equally well say the same about you in your understanding of the West. Maybe this could be a learning experience for us both? As I’ve said several times on this thread and previously, I am interested in hearing Iranian people telling me about what they think of these issues inside Iran because that’s the only way I can begin to understand the current situation: that’s why I’ve come here to read the articles and engage in debate, and I appreciate the opportunity and enjoy these discussions even when they get quite heated (always!). It’s not about “winning” an argument, but about the exchange of views and reasoned discussion. As an insight into British culture, we have this old-fashioned notion shared by people in all nations that the _truth_, not lies, is what matters.

Ian / August 23, 2010 7:28 PM

Ian

well thank you for being patient with us (me), just to let you know after the revolution my family temporarily moved to London and i was raised there, even have been studying in English boarding schools..so am quite familiar with your culture as i have many good friends

i am not in Ahmadinejad's camp, but sometimes he does say out what most Iranians would like to hear, but with the wrong literature; to note, some comments i read on this website does justify his acts

The MEK are an Islamic-Communist party/cult which supported Saddam Hussein during the 8 years of Iran-Iraq war, a crime that never will be forgiven nor forgotten, as did the western countries but Iranian grouping with enemy? thats something else; so it will be the worst card that western countries can bet on, regardless of who in power in Tehran they have to face court because of all the terrorist acts committed, i highly suggest to forget about them, they have no place inside Iran

to conclude from above, any group, party, cult, person who gets involved with a foreign force against Iran ( regardless who in power, good or evil for any reason good or evil) will be remembered as a traitor
so i guess you know now your answer on involving the greens on a surgical attack

I have to admit as much as i disagree with the Islamic Republic I also disagree with Israel, it's history of establishment and all the oppression towards the Palestinians during all these years; for what? just because Germans killed Jews, they had to loose their homes? doesn't make sense to me, anyways i don't want to go there now,

there are quite enough holes in your argument that made me loose interest in reading the rest of your comment and did definitely distract me from what you're trying to say.
have to make it clear that the green movement is still part of the Islamic republic, don't forget that, as said in my first comment they've been betrayed by their own system, creates alot of opportunities for you (west) if you know how to deal with it, otherwise like many other times it will be lost

have to point out don't expect them to come running towards you (west) as the feeling in Iran today is as it was 30 years ago at the beginning of the revolution; still remains the same , no to west, no to east, just "Iranian republic"; you don't like the sound of it, do you? now makes sense why you want to get rid of the green movement..and replace it with MEK puppets

while showing enough interest earlier in an arm conflict (which heats us up), i will just propound three questions which might bring us to the same page and might keep myself here (i already now the answers, would like your opinion)

why doesn't Israel sign the NPT? or Pakistan? or India? why don't they get punished?

Iran suspended enrichment activities for two years under president Khatami, what was the western proposition?, and

All the major "green" think tank's are now in London, well, why waste time here? ;)

Alal / August 23, 2010 10:29 PM

"As an insight into British culture, we have this old-fashioned notion shared by people in all nations that the truth ... is what matters."
(Ian, Aug 23 @ 7:28 PM)


But Ian, if this notion is shared by "people in all nations," it’s not much of an "insight" into British culture, is it now?


You have the prodding effrontery to quiz us on our reactions to a "brief bombing campaign" against Iran, as if we would dispassionately provide such information to an anonymous foreigner. And in exchange, you offer a trite, meaningless platitude as an "insight" into your own culture?


"I am interested in hearing Iranian people telling me about what they think of these issues inside Iran because that’s the only way I can begin to understand the current situation."
(Ian, Aug 23 @ 7:28 PM)


Ian, I can speak for many here in saying that it matters to us not one whit whether an anonymous, patronizing, ineptly manipulative, nosy British gadfly with Zionist sympathies understands the current situation in Iran or not.


Iran will manage to find its way without the benefit your "freedom-loving" tutelage. Hard to believe, but nevertheless quite true.


*** *** *** *** *** ***


Englishman: Did you know that the Sun never sets on our Empire?

Irishman: That’s because God would never trust the British in the dark!

Ali from Tehran / August 23, 2010 10:45 PM

Dear Ian

..."Incidentally, this is slightly off-topic but I’d just like to bring in the subject of the fueling of Bushehr which began yesterday. I was completely off-base in my analysis of that issue, thinking it was going to be a Phoebus rising at the dawn for Iran when in fact it came at the cost of future Russian support for Iran and will only serve to delegitimize the uranium enrichment programme whilst international support is strengthened for further measures (including military ones). If anyone thinks the problem is going away, think again; but when Iran won’t even live up to its obligations under the NPT – even under threat of attack – then what hope is there for a purely democratic constitutional revolution inside the country? So if the Greens don’t want to covertly support an attack for fear of being labelled traitors, then I hope at least they will remain neutral and _try_ to do some of the things Gene Sharp suggests or (like I said) the Greens will find themselves isolated everywhere. The key "...

Unfortunately none of us speak from inside Iran, that makes us on the same level as you are

there are talks for some new uprising which i wish not to discuss here, as we don't know who might be reading these comments, any how a tactic which Iranians have mastered due to their violent history and conquerors such as the Muslim Arabs and most violent Mongols is when facing with great suppression is to be silent and work from within; this is a timely process to counter that tyranny, unfortunately this is Persian culture and seems west is not patient enough to wait for that...

one thing for sure is, the green movement is not dead although does have serious leadership issues, this is it's weakness and external fractions such as MEK aware of this have/are trying to hijack it to serve their own interest, by getting Western governments attention, it will only result in the western discreditability once again; but i assure you that will not happen as they have no supporters inside Iran, as said before Iran is fire beneath ashes,

as for war, it will not happen, stakes for Israel is extremely high, we will have to wait to see the out come their negotiations with Abbas today

Alal / August 23, 2010 11:18 PM

Ian writes (August 23, 2010 7:28 PM):

"As an insight into British culture, we have this old-fashioned notion shared by people in all nations that the _truth_, not lies, is what matters."

Having spoken for the Iranian people, Ian now speaks for the British people. Evidence of _truth_? Ian offers what he has blessed everyone on this forum for the past few weeks.

Ian, I am only guessing, but I would suspect that "some" British may take issue with your writing as evidence of how British culture seeks the truth.

jay / August 23, 2010 11:36 PM

Alal,

Thanks again.

> to conclude from above, any group, party, cult, person who gets involved
> with a foreign force against Iran ( regardless who in power, good or
> evil for any reason good or evil) will be remembered as a traitor so i
> guess you know now your answer on involving the greens on a surgical
> attack
Yes, that's coming across loud and clear. It seems that the underlying cause is that the nuclear issue is very closely tied to national sovereignty and pride -- no matter whether there are other aspects of the programme that the West regards as sinister.

On the matter of the MEK, I have no disagreement with what you say, and I am trying to make the issue clear to those on my side of the fence (no, I don't mean the Israeli one!). The only reasons certain people want to support the MEK are because it is organised and because it is willing to "play ball", and because it has access inside Iran (perhaps crucial in respect of the nuclear programme, as in 2002/03). The whole thing is a rather an embarrassment on the diplomatic/political level, as far as I'm concerned -- a bit like Hezbollah is an embarrassment for moderate Iranians.

> have to point out don't expect them to come running towards you (west)
> as the feeling in Iran today is as it was 30 years ago at the beginning
> of the revolution; still remains the same , no to west, no to east, just
> "Iranian republic"; you don't like the sound of it, do you?
I assume you refer to the West and not me in particular by that. For myself, I take a long-term view of history and think that a happy, prosperous and free Iran is one step towards a happy, free and prosperous world. The limit of my selfishness is that I think (a) we need to be sure there's not going to be a nuclear/military apocalypse and (b) that I would like Iranians to get on with us Britishers more, and learn to trust us a bit better. It sounds incredibly corny, but as far as I'm concerned I just want us to be friends. These seem to be the same things that Iranians would like to see of the West, too. Governments and politics just tend to get in the way of that. I totally understand what you mean by an "Iranian republic" and that is what I want too.

You ask three perorative questions which I'll try to answer as best I can:

> why doesn't Israel sign the NPT? or Pakistan? or India? why don't they get punished?
I don't know nearly enough about the situation with India or Pakistan to comment, but with Israel it seems to be because the USA didn't feel able to do anything about Israel's pursuit of the bomb (and probably helped it along a good way too), and wasn't concerned about an armed Israel because Israel was being threatened and had been attacked by its neighbours; and because it didn't inherently increase the risk of nuclear proliferation *at the time*, during the era of "mutually assured destruction" and before international terrorism got out of control. You would have to go back a bit further (as I did in another discussion here recently) to trace why the USA (and Britain) thinks it's fair for the Jewish people to get a slice of the Middle East and consequently should be able to defend it (I might mention the very early 19th century European conflict and the later rise of the British-Israel movement, and the WWI battle for the Levant), but a lot of it has to do with Jewish financial power in Britain and the USA which goes back to discrimination against Jews and laws against Christians engaging in usury (although I note King David was against usury himself). There is obviously also the partly-shared religious outlook between Jews and Christians which has certainly come to the fore in recent times: Islam is regarded, in contrast to the Old Testament prophets in general, as an illiterate power-crazed and paranoid fantasist. Sorry to have to say it, but that's how it is.

Carrying this on a bit... the central pillar of the NPT is non-proliferation, i.e. threat-containment; but as a non-signatory it was Israel's peremptory right to have nuclear weapons, and law can always be argued if it suits one's position. And as I've said, the proliferation threat wasn't such a serious one back then. On the other hand, Iran now lives in a world where proliferation is a real threat, and *has* ratified the NPT but apparently seeks to subvert it. This does not bode well, and frankly we don't need a bunch of other countries (or semi-independent fanatics) running around with suitcase bombs causing trouble, especially in the Middle East. Therefore, the West sees a real threat and is unhappy. Other countries such as Russia are not so concerned (for similar self-interested reasons) because Iran is helping them against the USA. If Russia had covertly supplied plutonium to Iran back in the day (though this wouldn't have happened for entirely different reasons, though if the Shah hadn't been around they might have stationed missiles there like they tried to do in Cuba), Iran might now have its own bomb, but it's too late for that and the current situation is that SIS and CIA are working tooth and nail (we're talking about a *huge* proportion of both budgets) to prevent many different countries from obtaining information and equipment to procure nuclear weapons. You can call that selfish if you want, but the risks are very real and they are keeping you safe as well as I. The IRI is just a pain in the backside to them (regardless of the other very selfish regional concerns), and Iran seems to want to play with fire without understanding that we're talking about *the survival of humanity*.

In general, I see different standards being applied to Israel and Iran on this issue, but you have to bear in mind everything I've raised about (a) the passage of time between when Israel got the bomb and now, and (b) the apparently hostile intentions of Iran. There are always "other factors" too, but whilst the Western position can certainly seem selfish, we will not eradicate the threat of total destruction unless non-proliferation is taken seriously. The explosion of countries seeking nuclear bomb-making capacity that would follow Iran *instantly* is the elephant in the room. Hence, the West is absolutely *adamant* that Iran should fully abide by the IAEA protocols in order to have the concomitant right (under the NPT) to nuclear power, and is prepared to use all necessary means to ensure that. There is no conflict in my mind, from a Western perspective, between wanting to defeat the IRI hardliners for human rights reasons, and wanting to defeat them internationally on the nuclear issue. This is something that I think is important for Greens to understand about "moderate" Westerners.


> Iran suspended enrichment activities for two years under president Khatami, what was the western proposition?
This is not quite correct. The main point here is that Iran only agreed to a voluntary suspension because their secret nuclear programme was revealed. There was a suspension of enrichment as a result of MEK discovery of Iranian nuclear facilities, but threatened resumptions of enrichment followed shortly thereafter, and it seems there was some intense negotiation on many issues relating mostly (on the Iranian side) to assurances for its national and regional interests and (on the Western side) assurances about the peaceful intentions of its nuclear programme and (again) regional interests. The EU-3 as part of this dialogue agreed to specifically acknowledge the Iranian right to peaceful nuclear power, but Iran thought it was unfair for it to have to assert that its nuclear programme was peaceful. It seems that the complex diplomatic negotiations broke down some time later, perhaps because neither side was willing to give up its interests in Iraq.


> All the major "green" think tank's are now in London, well, why waste time here? ;)
I thought you meant environmentalists for a second there! Not being connected with the Green movement in London (and not speaking Farsi) I don't really know who you mean. It's not something I've looked into in respect of the actual physical location of participants in the debate, and (as I say) I am quite disconnected from the Green movement although I try to engage where possible. I would be delighted to be invited to meet some of them (I did try, but found a lot of Reza Pahlavi supporters instead -- I probably didn't try hard enough, but I have a lot else in my life). In respect of these people being in London, well, Britain has a free society and London provides a base for many exiled movements (some more dodgy than others), and it's simply not possible to get rid of such people without good reason; so if they use London as a base, I don't think that implies official British involvement although I suppose it would make it slightly easier to get in contact if anyone in government wanted to (though they probably don't at the moment, except for MI5 making sure they're not building bombs). I suppose it's better for them than to be in prison in Tehran, at least.

Thanks also for your later comment about activism in Iran. I respect your desire for privacy, and having been "counter-espionage chief" of the Anonymous Intelligence Collective in 2009 I know they are watching and have written with that in mind. I've made my point and should probably bugger off now ;-)

Best wishes to all, good luck with the struggle and thanks for being willing to talk to me.

Ian

Ian / August 24, 2010 1:13 AM

Ian,


RE " I was not suggesting anything like a land invasion, but mooted the possibility that a brief aerial bombardment of nuclear sites ...... it would delay things especially because tougher measures are now in place to prevent new equipment reaching Iran."


"brief aerial bombardment" can only delay things as you said. But IT is a big assumption that "tough measures" will "prevent" restart of the program. In fact Iran would likely accelerate the program and hit the black market(in which they are very good at).


So my question that you did not answer: THEN WHAT?
do over in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years?

By then perhaps a different US president may find him/herselves in a position where the US military is not as stretched and American people have forgotten the whole Iraq thing.

wouldn't you then argue that hey, we tried sanctions, we tried surgical aerial bombardment but it did not stop their nuc. program. So we have 'NO CHOICE' but to go in?

The problem is eventhough you do not advocate *land invasion* right now, your sugical strikes will inevitably lead to land invasion, or a much wider bombardment, or daily occurances of a bomb here, a bomb there like Iraq 1991-2003.
AT the very least, an act of war, would lead to a N Korea type stadoff in (which BTW got the bomb anyway).


what Iranians hate more than their own government is a foreign invador, (e.g. Saddam Hussain.) and traders (e.g. MEK).
I can only speak for myself, but as you see, comment after comment , Iranians (abroad and I assure you inside Iran as well) can not bear the thought of foreign troops on their soil, no matter how much they hate their current government.

You think Iraq was bad? Iran has a much longer history and national identity (than both Iraq and Afghanistan), and a long history of resistance against foreign occupiers... and no one holds a grudge like us Iranians. (just ask any Monghol or Arab).

Iranian people, especially the youth are some of the most pro-western , pro American people in the ME. Why would you want to turn them into enemies!

So Ian,

you say you are here to learn and exchange ideas about military "solution". well, Do you read the comments? Are you seeing a pattern here? Are you hearing us?

Or are you here to sell us a lemon with a 'hey buddy, just cause I like you, I'll also throw in an attack on IRCG domestic spy centers'?

Ahvaz / August 24, 2010 1:25 AM

Ian,

Here is an Arabian fable you may enjoy.

One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. "Master," he said, "let me put my nose in your tent. It's cold and stormy out here." "By all means," said the Arab, "and welcome" as he turned over and went to sleep.

A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, "I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here." "Yes, you may put your forelegs within," said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.

Finally, the camel said, "May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do." "Yes, yes," said the Arab. "Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us." So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.


.....................

see Ian,

the expression, "camel's nose in the tent" very much applies here.

Oh, just a limited surgical strike against specific nuc sites? realy?
Then what?


Ahvaz / August 24, 2010 3:19 AM

A very interesting article!

Given the wars and how they have been conducted in the past decade an attack on Iran is not a wise choice. Iran, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan actually has the ability to retaliate.

The Middle East has seen too much blood and such an attack could too easily lead to devastating unexpected consequences.

Both Israel and the US are too easily influenced by hysterical right wing warmongers who think militariam will solve the world's problem when in fact all it does is make bad situations worse.

War on Iran is an idea as bankrupt as the US treasury and its time for some sanity to prevail.

Robert / August 24, 2010 6:52 AM

weird thing is Iran is the second country in history after Japan to be a victim of WMD, being gassed by Saddam during the Iran - Iraq war, even though could have retaliated by wiping out the whole population of Baghdad with chemicals but didn't,

and now we're being judged by the very same people whom armed Saddam ..!!

Alal / August 24, 2010 12:51 PM

Ian,

Why do you feel it is important to delay Iran's nuclear capability by air strikes?

There are several reasons why this is faulty logic. 1) Iran is many, many years away from developing a nuclear weapon 2)once developed, Iran is still more years away from a delivery system for such a weapon. 3)In those intervening years there may be an Iranian government in place that doesn't want to expand it's power by force over it's neighbors. 4) Even with such strikes, the delay would be far less than the existing conditions of Iran's nuclear program.

Finally, how committed to this are you? Are you willing to fly in on the first aircraft? It is easy to risk others' lives, but are you willing to risk your own. Is it that important to you? If it is, I suggest you head to your nearest RAF recuiting station and sign up and request the most hazardous duty you can. That's what people who are really comitted to an ideal do. Look up Pat Tillman on wikipedia.

muhammad billy bob / August 25, 2010 11:57 AM

Alal,

Actually, Iran is way down on the list of victims of WMD's. First were the british and french in WWI. Then the Germans in WWI. Then, Japanese in WWII. Then kurds in Iraq, Then Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war.

muhammad billy bob / August 25, 2010 9:53 PM

muhammad billy bob

interesting name you've chosen for yourself :)

Iran is the second most afflicted country by weapons of mass destruction only after Japan due to WMDs used by Saddam Hussein against Iranian civilian & military population; Iran did not retaliate even though it was capable of doing so; There have been friendly meetings between Japanese and Iranian victims of WMD

please see attached link:

in military and defence section you'll find it

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

Alal / August 26, 2010 5:29 PM

Alal,

Yes, the name does seem to generate some kind of reaction. I forget now why I chose it. But, I like it.

I am something of a history buff. And this is one topic that intrests me. To be honest, Native-Americans were probably the first victims of WMD's when they were purposely given blankets infected by small pox.

muhammad billy bob / August 26, 2010 9:31 PM

Dr Parsi, thanks for making this issue into the frontline and refuting the Goldberg's claims and lies..

in order to expand his ill-advised strategy of pushing out obama, Mr Goldberg has not considred not only the existentail threat that such an strike would be on Iran's pro-democracy movement, but also the line of thinking held by Israel's security establishment.

what is qoated in the piece (positively)is only two/three pragrahs of Gabi Ashkanazi's- The cheif of staff of the Israeli Army, and the Iranian Jews. other than that, he only qoated the more appolycic words of Benjamin Netayahu to make the case that war is invetible..

in its broader context, the peice has been well crafted to energise the domorilised neo-conservative hawks and squeeze the time available for diplomacy and also other options before the president. it is super prize to the neo-conservative Hawks.


Observer / August 28, 2010 3:36 PM