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Toward a Green Foreign Policy for Iran

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

04 Sep 2010 03:53110 Comments

Twelve principles to guide the debate.

Iran-Green-Movement-Nuclear.jpg[ analysis ] On August 7, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini proclaimed the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan as Quds Day, during which Muslims are supposed to declare their solidarity with the Palestinian people and protest the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel. Since Ramadan is a lunar calendar month, its final Friday falls on a different date every year. This year it has fallen on September 3.

At the time that Khomeini made his proclamation, Israel had attacked and occupied southern Lebanon in order to uproot the forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Revolution of February 1979 had toppled the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, one of Israel's closest allies in the region. Israel was widely believed to have helped found SAVAK, the Shah's dreaded security organization responsible for the arrest, torture, and murder of hundreds of the dictator's opponents. On the other hand, many of the Iranian revolutionaries of that era had received training in guerrilla warfare in the PLO camps in southern Lebanon. Thus, the revolutionaries' anger toward Israel and their support for the Palestinians had roots in what took place during the Pahlavi era.

Since 1979, large demonstrations have been held in Iran and elsewhere on Quds Day.

All of Iran's important political figures have always supported these demonstrations, and this year is no different. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi met on Tuesday, August 31, and declared that Quds Day is when the free people of the world show their solidarity with "an oppressed people whom have been driven out of their motherland." Karroubi had announced many days in advance that he would take part in the demonstrations. Mohammad Khatami declared, "The Reformist and democratic groups that support the Islamic Republic as a system that relies on people's votes and defends their rights must pay more attention to this [Quds] Day, because this is a humane issue."

Last year, Quds Day fell on September 18, a little over three months after the rigged presidential election of June 12. Since Quds Day demonstrations are officially sanctioned by the Islamic Republic, the Green Movement took advantage and staged large-scale protests.

The demonstrators chanted "Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I will sacrifice my life for Iran," which deeply angered the hardliners. Mousavi's car was attacked by vigilante groups, chanting "Death to hypocrite Mousavi." Khatami was also attacked.

To prevent Karroubi from attending this year's Quds Day demonstrations, which would have brought a large number of Green Movement supporters onto the streets, Basij militia, plainclothes agents, and thugs surrounded his home, beginning Sunday, August 29.

They have besieged the apartment building in which Karroubi and his family live, chanted against him, and even attacked other residents of the building. As the time of writing this article -- Friday evening in Tehran, September 3 -- the episode had not ended, even though the Quds Day demonstrations had.

This year's Quds Day also brings to the fore the hardliners' foreign policy -- if it is even deserving of the name -- which is partly based on antagonism toward Israel, support for militant Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, and rejection of any negotiations between Israel and Palestinians regarding a two-state solution. In fact, after stalling for two years, negotiations mediated by the United States were restarted on Thursday, September 2.

They were quickly rejected by both Iran and Hamas. Along with Iran's own nuclear program, this inveterate antagonism toward Israel is the main source of friction between the West and the Islamic Republic. As a counterweight to what the hardliners have been advocating for Iran's relationship with the rest of the world, it is crucial that the Green Movement spell out a coherent foreign policy in order to further contrast itself with the ruling establishment.

In a previous article, I described what I considered to be the achievements of the Green Movement over the past 16 months. At the end of that article, I pointed out that, aside from a few comments by Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami, the Green Movement and its de facto leaders have not articulated a coherent foreign policy for Iran. They have not clearly described their view of the current tensions surrounding the nuclear program and the hardliners' antagonism toward Israel, nor their alternative vision for Iran's place in the international arena.

There are several reasons why the articulation of such a foreign policy vision has become very important. One is that as the drumbeats of a possible war with Iran get louder and debate over it gets more heated, the Green Movement must make its position regarding possible military attacks on Iran absolutely transparent. Second, neoconservatives in the United States have been busy trying to present the Green Movement as a pro-American development. Michael Weiss of the Weekly Standard, the mouthpiece of the neoconservatives, recently asserted that Shiva Nazar Ahari, the courageous human rights defender and advocate of children's rights is "clearly pro-West and philo-American," an absurd claim. On the basis of this and similar absurdities, some neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and their Iranian minions speak as if at least part of the Green Movement will support military attacks on Iran as a way of toppling the Islamic Republic. Such claims must be countered. Third, again, as the confrontation between the hardliners and the Western powers centers around Iran's nuclear program and its antagonism toward Israel, it is essential for the Green Movement to articulate its views and remove any ambiguities regarding how it stands on these issues.

Before the debates on a Green Movement manifesto for Iran's foreign policy can start, I believe that three general principles should govern any such discussions:

1. Every nation, large or small, rich or poor, and powerful or weak, has some fundamental national interests and rights. Such interests and rights, by their very definition, are independent of the type of political system that governs a nation. Such basic interests and rights are thus distinguished from those of the political system, the ruling elite, various factions, and so forth. For example, protecting the national security against foreign military attack and the territorial integrity of Iran is a national interest. Protecting Iran's rights within the framework of international treaties and conventions is also a national interest.

2. Foreign policy cannot be separated from domestic policy. In fact, the former is a reflection of the latter in the international arena. One good example is the claim that is often made by Tehran's hardliners that they support "democratic elections and democracy" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The claim is bogus, because the same group commits fraud in Iran's elections, violates the rights of the citizens, and uses violence and even murder to crack down on peaceful demonstrations. A nation cannot claim to be a true democracy and yet intervene in other nations' affairs, attack them unjustifiably, or occupy their territory. Likewise, the hardliners' defense of "Palestinians' rights" is bogus, because they consistently violate the rights of their own fellow Iranians.

3. An effective foreign policy cannot be based on an ideological view of the world. It must be based in pragmatism and consideration for what truly serves the national interests and citizens' rights. Ideological foreign policies, like those of the Soviet Union and of China during the reign of Mao Zedong, lead inevitably to disaster. Another example is the foreign policy of Tehran's hardliners, which has increasingly isolated Iran, with deeply negative repercussions. In the Middle East, Israel is another nation with a foreign policy that is based on ideology -- Zionism.

The Basis for Discussing a Green Foreign Policy

Rajabali Mazrooei is a Reformist journalist and a member of the political directorate of Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), the most important Reformist group. He was a prominent and outspoken member of the 6th Majles (parliament), which was controlled by the Reformists during 2000-4. He recently posted an article on Norooz, the official website of the IIPF, titled "The Green Movement and Foreign Policy." Due to his close relation with the rest of the leading Reformists, Mazrooei's article is important. In it, he acknowledges that, although the Greens constitute a civil movement and, therefore, their main preoccupation is with domestic problems, they must make their positions regarding foreign policy transparent. After noting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy is aggressive and based on adventurism, Mazrooei introduces seven principles to begin the debate on a Green foreign policy:

1. It is imperative that the Green Movement declare its own foreign policy to distinguish it from that of the hardliners.

2. To develop such a foreign policy, debates and discussions must start with the aim of arriving at a coherent summary of the positions regarding important issues.

3. A rational definition of national independence must be developed that is based not on isolation of Iran, but on a foreign policy that is based on peaceful coexistence with other nations with the goal of guaranteeing the national interests.

4. The foreign policy of Iran must be based on lowering tensions with other nations and building mutual confidence between Iran and other nations.

5. A principle of the policy must be Iran's right to develop and have access to the technology for peaceful use of nuclear energy, within the framework of international laws and treaties.

6. The right to the technology for nuclear energy must not supersede other national rights, and in particular the fundamental rights of the citizens.

7. The Green Movement must oppose any military attacks on Iran's territory.

Any patriotic Iranian can easily support these seven principles.

The third principle is particularly significant because, to counter the argument that Ahmadinejad's reckless and aggressive foreign policy has increasingly isolated Iran, the hardliners claim that they have established relations with the "masses" across the globe. The president's close aides always claim that he is one of the most popular politicians around the world and common people support him. But, even if this were true, it is governments that nations deal with, not the masses, and having constructive relations with foreign governments is an essential element of any sound foreign policy.

The fifth principle is important because part of the opposition to the hardliners, particularly in the diaspora, rejects Iran's nuclear program. It echoes the assertion that the U.S. administrations, the neoconservatives, and the Israel lobby have been repeating, namely, that the program is really intended for the development of nuclear weapons, even though no credible evidence for the existence of such a weapon program has yet been found by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the IAEA, declared, "I cannot evaluate intentions." The agency can assess only the facts on the ground, and no "smoking gun" has ever been found.

ElBaradei made similar declarations on multiple occasions. He also said that the threat of Iran developing a nuclear weapon has been "hyped."

Yukiya Amano, the new IAEA director general, has likewise never asserted that Iran had or has a nuclear weapon program, even though the hawks baselessly claim that he has taken a tough posture toward Iran.

Still, the most extreme elements of the opposition in the diaspora -- those who explicitly or implicitly favor military attacks on Iran -- view the possibility that the Islamic Republic could develop nuclear weapons as a threat to their aspiration of toppling the regime. They are counting on foreign military attacks on Iran to achieve their goal, and believe that nuclear weapons, or even nuclear weapon capability, in the hands of the Islamic Republic would be a credible deterrent against such attacks.

The sixth principle is highly important, because Ahmadinejad's reckless, aggressive nuclear policy has given rise to much talk of possible military attacks on Iran. In turn, the hardliners have been using such talk as another excuse to tighten their repression of the Iranian people, under the guise of responding to threats to national security. If military attacks do occur, they will not topple the hardliners, but will be used by them to wipe out the entire opposition and set back Iran's democratic development for decades. At the same time, such attacks will also destroy Iran's economy and infrastructure, hence depriving the people of their most basic rights -- to a peaceful and economically sustainable life.

Thus, nuclear rights cannot supersede the fundamental rights of the people. This means that a way must be found to address the legitimate concerns of the international community -- though not the propaganda by the neoconservatives and Israel lobby -- regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program. For example, the Majles could ratify the Additional Protocol that provides the IAEA with the authority for intrusive inspection of Iran's declared nuclear facilities, as well as any other facility that can be reasonably suspected of involvement in a clandestine nuclear program. Iran did sign the Additional Protocol on December 18, 2003, and carried out its provisions on a volunteer basis until August 2005. The Majles never ratified the agreement, however, and because Iran and the European Union could not reach an accord regarding the nuclear program, Iran stopped its volunteer implementation of the protocol. But during the time it was enforced, the IAEA conducted one of the most intrusive inspection processes in the agency's entire history.

Several additions may be made to Mazrooei's seven principles:

8. By and large, sanctions hurt ordinary Iranians. They are also used by the hardliners not only to justify their utter incompetence and mismanagement of the economy -- not to mention their corruption -- but also, as Karroubi has pointed out, to make even more profit out of the misery that increasingly tighter sanctions bring. If some sanctions can be identified that hurt only the hardliners, they can be supported. But, given that 60 percent of Iran's official economy and almost 100 percent of its underground economy are controlled by the hardliners, it is difficult to identify such measures.

9. There is no fundamental contradiction between defending Iran's rights in the framework of international treaties and rejecting the hardliners and advocating a democratic Iran. There is no fundamental contradiction between defending Iran's fundamental rights to peaceful use of nuclear technology and rejecting not only the illegitimate presidency of Ahmadinejad, but also his senseless and aggressive nuclear policy. Defending Iran's rights and rejecting the hardliners are not mutually exclusive. The recognition of this point is particularly important because those that support Iran's right to have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes are often criticized by extreme elements in the diaspora as acting as the "lobby" for the Islamic Republic.

10. Supporting Iran's political independence from the decision makers in the West is not the same as being hostile and demonstrating permanent enmity toward major Western powers, including the United States. The hardliners and reactionaries have tried to instill such a bogus notion in Iranians ever since they came to power.

11. There are warmongers in Israel, the United States, Britain, and France, but also in Iran. A truly progressive view of Iran's relations with the rest of the world must confront both sides. This is particularly vital in view of the fact that the hardline warmongers in Tehran do not mind a limited military exchange with Israel and/or the United States as a perfect excuse to wipe out the Green Movement.

12. Contrary to the hardliners' claims, the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not affect Iran's vital national interests. A just settlement of the issue will have a positive effect on the Middle East (including Iran), but it is not an issue with which the nation should be obsessed. Iran must leave it to the Palestinians to decide what kind of peace settlement they want to reach with Israel. No one, including Iranians, can be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.

At the same time, one cannot claim to be a defender of human rights and not have any sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people -- or for the plight of oppressed people anywhere in the world, for that matter. Human rights and respect for them are universal values that transcend national boundaries. A few weeks ago I participated in a debate on the Persian program of Voice of America. Another participant was a former Iranian university student activist who now lives in the United States and has been closely aligned with the neoconservatives. During the debate he repeated, practically word for word, their thinking on Iran. He also defended the surge in U.S. forces in Afghanistan as "necessary" and, in short, acted as if his mission in life is to be a spokesman for the neoconservatives, as well as the Obama administration. As soon as I said, "As a Muslim I have sympathies for the Palestinian people," he jumped in and stated the standard cliché, repeated by Israel's supporters, that if this is true, I must also have sympathies for the Muslims in Chechnya. Well, I do. As both a Muslim and a believer in the universality of respect for human rights, I have sympathies for oppressed people everywhere, whether it is in Palestine, or in Guatemala, Honduras, Chechnya, or anywhere else. And, precisely for the same reason, I condemn the illegal invasion of Iraq, the destructive war in Afghanistan, and China's suppression of the people of Tibet.

All indications are that the leaders of the Green Movement support the 12 principles outlined herein. Thus, let the debate begin, with the hope that the outcome will be a coherent Green foreign policy for Iran.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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110 Comments

Muhammad, where are the "Greens"?

Can you name a Green in the Majlis? A Green in the Guardian Council? How about the Expediency Council? Any Greens in the Assembly of Experts?

Your policy advocacy seems directed toward the imaginary, rather than the real leadership as it exists inside the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Pirouz / September 4, 2010 5:13 AM

Dr. Sahimi, by and large I agree with the 12 principles that you have outlined. However, I feel that some of your ideas are a bit out of touch with reality. In particular you state as point 5:

"5. A principle of the policy must be Iran's right to develop and have access to the technology for peaceful use of nuclear energy, within the framework of international laws and treaties."

The problem with this as I see it is that Iran has rights and responsibilities under international law, and since the Green Movement is not in power it is not in a positon to guarantee the fulfillment of Iran's responsibilities. It would thus seem illogical to insist that Iran's rights be exercised by the regime even though we cannot be confident in any way that they are acting responsibly.
It is not Iran's nuclear program itself that is at the heart of the crisis, rather it is the nature of the regime combined with nuclear aspirations that has caused serious concern across the globe. This must be recognised by the Green Movement and such a recognition should be made explicit if there is to be a formulation of a Green Foreign Policy.

Cy / September 4, 2010 5:47 AM

Thank you for another interesting article. On the whole I agree with what you say, although I feel as though your points are rather idealistic and broad. But it is a start.

The only problem I see with your article is point 9. Judging by what you say, you are under the impression that Iran's nuclear programme is opposed merely because it is under the control of the hardliners. I believe this demonstrates a somewhat naive understanding of the dynamics of the Middle East. Instead, opposition to Iran's nuclear programme arises because it would fundamentally change the balance of power in the Middle East (if it actually becomes fully functional and capable of producing weapons). This is not a problem that can be easily solved by the Green Movement and it would certainly take a far more sophisticated approach than the kumbaya approach you are suggesting.

I do not claim to offer a viable solution. But I do hope that Green strategists are working hard to find one.

Pak / September 4, 2010 5:49 AM

Thank you Dr. Sahimi

Informative and well written as usual; just curious, do you think articles and discussions which we have here or have had mainly on previous articles, are reflected to the green leaders or the so called "green think tank"?

I want to know are they aware of what Iranians truly want? or they're just going with the flow; I personally believe neither of IR leaders, Hardliners nor opposition, would ever predicted such an after math for last years presidentail elections

I think a miscalculation made by hardliners and an already discontent society (because of high rates of unemployment, inflation and a mismanaged monopolised economy worsened by Ahmadinejed's previous government) led to the uprise, not that everyone really wanted Mousavi or he was offering any practical plan for his term as president, but he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, he was just an excuse, people just didn't want Ahmadinejad;

now that Mousavi, Karoubi and Khatami have been betrayed by their own system, will they do what really is needed to be done (moving towards a proper democracy, revising the constitution not secular but half way there)? will they do it? or are we in for another scam?

Alal / September 4, 2010 4:29 PM

Pirouz:

Although I do not usually respond to rants, but a response is called for here: As usual you do not get the point, and live in your imaginary world, while accusing others of the same.

The point, as I explicitly mention, is that the leaders of Green Movement must announce what they think about the problems that Iran faces in the international arena, so that there will be no doubt in the minds of those in power in the West where the leaders of a large movement stand.

Cy:

Again, as I responded to Pirouz, the point is to announce the positions. Many in the West believe that if, for example, reformists were in power, they would agree to the West demand and dismantle Iran's nuclear program. That is not the case. I also do not agree with your statement that the problem is the nature of the regime. Israel and the U.S. have made it clear that they do not want Iran to have any uranium enrichment program at all, because as they see it, a nation in the Middle East can have only if it is a puppet.

Pak:

Actually no. Read my response to Cy. I have said many many times over the past decade that the US and Israel do not want Iran to have a nuclear program, so long as the government in Iran is not something like the Shah's. Israel recently even opposed Jordan to have a nuclear reactor, and this is a nation totally in Israel/U.S. sphere of influence.

Alal:

Yes, the major discussions in the diaspora do reach Iran. I know for a fact that they do.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 4, 2010 8:32 PM

Pirooz:
Greens are all around my honorable country. All its corners, offices, buildings and ancient history are replete with greens.
As an example you can imagine the chairman of Assembly of Experts, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the most powerful political man in Iran.
Greens are now, the representative of international demands of a nation, since they consist of nation.

HD / September 4, 2010 10:30 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

Many thanks for laying out these principles!

Certain western policy circles continue to insist on misunderstanding and misinterpreting Iranian politics.

Clear and coordinated statements (even on a subset of these principles) across Iran's political spectrum will be a vital contribution.

Whether or not it would lead to a resetting of the terms of political debate in the west will remain to be seen. Nonetheless, this seems to be a necessary first step.

Jay / September 5, 2010 12:02 AM

Thank you Dr. Sahimi for your timely article. We are quite privileged to have you as part of the Movement.

I think the two Arms of the Green Movement that can still speak up should summarize and hammer in the foreign policies outlined in this article.


1. The diaspora should focus on the following facts:

a. Iranian nuclear rights cannot be separated Iranian human rights. Especially when it comes to major negotiations.

b. War will only strengthen the most extreme and ensure Nuclear weaponization of the program.

c. Sanctions are more hurtful for the middle class who are the backbone Greens than the IRG International Mafia whom thrives in the black market with an ever growing list of clients and suppliers.

Military Industrial Complex needs a modern bogie man and is seeking to find that eternal enemy in Iran. This would be horrible mistake and a will deal a blow to all remaining democratic and human rights all over the world. Those of us who care are fighting for the same great ideals regardless of what continent we live in.

We need to reach out to the sense of humanity and peace we have in common with populations all around the world to move forward in our great struggle for peace and justice.


2. In addition to the points above the Green leaders/spokesmen and woman (Mousvai, Karoubi, Khatami, Rahnavrd) should remind the world:

a. Iranians need basic human rights and a chance to achieve a prosperous and proud Iran under a democratic system that respects its past and future.

b. Nuclear weapons are unacceptable and nuclear inspections can be vigorous

c. Iran does not need provide material support for any military adventures outside of Iranian border. There are over 60 million people in Iran who need the help of their countries resources so they can live a decent life.

I pick these individuals because they can speak for the opposition in Iran and still be heard by the outside world. They have made the points mentioned above in their writings and interviews over and over again. However they need to be more active in getting their message heard by the outsiders. The longer they take in making their foreign policy positions clear to foreign leaders the more irrelevant they will become in the dialog.

However they face two major hurdles in their struggle in doing so. First, the world leaders seem to intentionally ignore these individuals and the facts that they have certain restrictions how much they can say in their current positions as an out of governmental power entity. Second, they have been under virtual house arrests (instead of 209 in Evin) and have no access to foreign journalists or even safety.

Ali / September 5, 2010 2:50 AM

Dr Sahimi,

The nature of the regime is indeed central to the nuclear crisis. I think if Iran today was a stable democracy with a track record of responsible behaviour there would have been no serious crisis whatsoever over the nuclear progame. I would note also that Jordon, while being very much within the US orbit today, is not a stable democracy and a clear outlook for the country's long term political evolution does not exist. The most relevent country to consider is Turkey. Turkey - no puppet state - is expected to commission nuclear power plants corresponding to a total installed capacity of 5000MW after 2012. I don't expect the UN security council to pass any sanctions resolutions against Turkey anytime soon (even if the US wanted it to, which it doesn't).
I do acknowledge that even if the Green Movement manages to overthrow the Islamic Republic (or its current leadership), it will not result in an immediate evaporation of all of the concerns of the International community regarding Iran's nuclear program. It will take years to rebuild Iran's reputation as a responsible actor on the world stage after decades of consistent support for violent terrorist groups in the region and frequent use of virulent, psychotic anti-israeli and anti-american language by the Islamic Republic.

Cy / September 5, 2010 4:00 AM

Interesting article. I won't go over the few points of disagreement I have with it (re: military action), but would like to reiterate the importance of the Additional Protocol. Even the five nuclear weapon states, who have no obligation under the NPT even to agree basic Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA, have all ratified the Additional Protocol. It really shouldn't be a problem for Iran, and the only conclusion is that there are other interests besides development of peaceful nuclear power technology. But Iran seems uninterested in non-proliferation as an international issue, and obsesses about its power status in the Middle East. Whoop! Whoop!

I am also a little surprised to hear that some Greens have been criticizing comments supporting Iran's right to peaceful nuclear power tech. Peaceful nuclear tech is absolutely fundamental to the NPT, and not arguable so long as Iran fulfils its commitments under that treaty -- something it could do easily, although (pretty obviously) not under the currently (s)elected President.

Greens have to address this issue first, not seventh or ninth.

Ian / September 5, 2010 6:01 AM

Mr. Sahami,

I am just curious. Is it necessary to say "As a Muslim I have sympathies for the Palestinian people," ?

I am wondering if Muslims have a particular obligation to other Muslims? If yes, is this in book?

John / September 5, 2010 7:21 AM

Pirouz

In the past you have accused Dr. Sahimi of focusing on issues that are currently less important than sanctions or the possibility of war. But have you considered that a representative government that does not cheat its own people can perhaps best serve the national interests of Iran and ensure a united front against enemies?

Anonymous / September 5, 2010 9:54 AM

I just came back to Europe from Iran. One word of advice people. Be careful flying Iranian planes any more. I think the best way to describe Iranians today and the green movement is both are in hibernation. I would say green is a little yellow right now. Too much cruelty. Don’t take it lightly. It is not easy to talk to people due to fear. You come to a quick conclusion nobody wants the Islamic Republic. But they have nothing to look forward to either. People have lost hope. There is concern about war but the hardship of life in Iran overcomes all other thoughts right now. Prices are too high and people have tough time providing for their families. I understand the suggestions by Mr. Muhammad Sahimi only if this is a message to world powers there is a logical side to Iran too. But if he suggests Iranian people would like Islamic Republic with the moderates running Iran? I am sorry he is very wrong. People want a government free of religion because everybody knows now religious governments are disastrous. As you know Karroubi is under attack because he is the only one who had courage to say Iranian people have the right to choose a government other than Islamic. Most feel a new constitution must be written for a secular government. You don’t have to tell Iranians religious governments are disastrous. They are living it. The situation in Iran is heart breaking.

Khodadad / September 5, 2010 11:45 PM

GM is alive, its so-called traitor leaders are on life-support since they never represented aspirations of most iranians which has long been the demise of the oppressive islamic republic and its humiliating (to all lovers of iran) flag.

http://www.khodnevis.org/persian/کارتونستان/7981-ناگفته%E2%80%8Cهای-جنگ-و-غیره.html

N. Shaker / September 6, 2010 2:51 AM

Mr. Sahimi:
Thanks again for your insight for what might be of worthy guidance in dealing with present situation in Iran. The point is IRI should not sacrifice Iranian people for its own ideology. Also Green Movement should distinguish itself by defining its policies. I am not sure the leaders of the Green Movement are as sophisticated as we think.

Nasser Shirakbari / September 7, 2010 12:47 AM

Khodadad

Under what conditions is the IRI going to draw up a new constitution? What sitting government would willingly rewrite its constitution to curb its own powers? Is there any legitimate course towards this action that you believe most people want?

Dr. Sahimi has stated he believes in a secular republic but that changes must be made gradually through the constitution and that this is the stated purpose of some of the greens (if I am wrong Dr. Sahimi please feel free to correct me).

I am not saying Dr. Sahimi is correct or incorrect, but he has written extensively on what he feels are the best methods in order to achieve reforms, changes, and ultimately a secular republic.

I still haven't seen secularists discuss in detail plans towards achieving their goals.

Anonymous / September 7, 2010 1:44 AM

Cy
You cannot ignore the fact that the United States and her allies have been quite hostile towards Iran for more than 30 years, not to mention the 51-53 years and the utter destruction of an Iranian and middle easter democratic future. Their absolute support of Iraq during 8 years of WW2 type warfare and their unjust one sided economical sanctions even after the war when iran completely stopped material support for hamas and hezbollah. Even when Khatami tried over and over again for peace with both clinton and bush, and helped with the invasion of Afghanistan, he was branded part of the axis of evil which payed the way for the nut jobs in charge today. I think the scales are pretty tiped here.

You are also saying that greens are held at the same level as ahmadi folk in your opinion and should be held to the same standard. You basically categorize all Iranians as the same. Thank you for that great ignorant western view.

Ali / September 7, 2010 3:16 AM

Dear Professor Sahimi,

Thank you for your response. Indeed what you say is what I believe, but the point I am making is that your Green approach to the nuclear programme does not take this into account, and is basically no different from the current regime's approach of acting within the framework of international laws and treaties.

As a result, the only difference with your vision of a Green nuclear programme is that hardliners would no longer be in control. In the context of the nuclear problem, this difference would therefore not arouse the US and Israel in the slightest.

I am no expert in this field, but this is how I see it: Iran will struggle and compromise national security if it continues to pursue a comprehensive and independent indigenous nuclear programme, whether Green or not. And, correct me if I am wrong, nations with an independent indigenous nuclear programme are either rogue or non-signatories of the NPT.

Pak / September 7, 2010 5:22 AM

to cy and ian - stop pushing your trash zionist/neocon agenda. Is the Israeli regime stable? All Israeli governments are inherently unstable due to its proportional representation system allowing extreme leverage powers to extremist Jews whose acclaimed goal is nothing other than a Greater Israel extending from the Euphrates to the River Jordan and whose support for the religious fanatics at the core of the settler movement (most of whom are nutty US migrants) do not want to part with an inch of occupied Palestinian land. Netenyahu's govt whilst talking peace continues to aid and abet settlers many of whom enjoy political patronage far exceeding their actual numbers. The IR govt and system in comparison is far more stable and proven to be sustainable. Iran is under a lot of psychological pressure due to its correct foreign policy stance and its just and legitimate stance over its nuclear policy. If you are so concerned about nuclear proliferation why do you not subject Israel to the same rigorous inspections that Iran has been. The Iranian parliament was right to back out of the additional protocol, why should they subject themselves voluntarily to rigorous and intrusive inspections at the hands of inspectors, some of whom could be spies for US/Israeli intelligence agencies. Did these inspections save Iraq from being invaded by US forces? What makes you think that if the Greens/Reformists took a more lenient approach (which btw was tried in the Khatami era) the war that the neocons and extreme zionists and their christian fundamentalist friends seek in cahoots with their hypocritical and deceptive Arab Muslim allies in Saudia and the Gulf secretly seek is going to be averted. I do not believe war is inevitable but the economies of the west are teetering on the brink of collapse and the corrupt political elites in the US and Europe who are mostly tied up with the interests of the super wealthy, will need Iran as a distraction. Iran therefore should be well prepared and it is right just as Obama repeatedly has said that 'no options have been taken off the table' (when it comes to Iran but not Israel) that the security forces of Iran including the IRGC prepare well and have whatever means available at their disposal if necessary. Iran has been aggressed upon but has not been an aggressor before and it is not Iranian nuclear submarines that are lurking under the Atlantic sea off the East Coast of the US, a few hundred miles from its capital. It is the US with its nuclear loaded submarines and huge arsenal of conventional weapons and army that surrounds Iran on three sides and has its forces only a couple of hundred kilometres from its capital, Tehran.
Dr Sahimi - be realistic about what is achievable from any govt. or system and 'democracy' is not a panacea for all of Iran's ills. Much progress has been achieved since the elections to establish calm, stability and gradual progress towards righting some of the wrongs and the atmosphere and debate in Iran is far freer and safer than other countries in the region. Guantanamo bay is still open despite Obama's promise and none of those implicated in torture have been put on trial, yet Kahrizak was closed down immediately and very recently those responsible for the torture regime even though high ranking have been suspended from their posts. This is something to celebrate and build upon. All is not gloom, opposition leaders like Karroubi are still able to give interviews to the foreign press and enjoy some degree of state security. More voices are being heard for change and sooner or later change will happen for the better within the framework of the Islamic Republic system which most polls have consistently shown enjoys the support of the majority. If the 'democrats' in these columns cannot respect that than what type of 'democracy' do they want where the majority's wishes do not count. Or do they want to impose their own 'dictatorship' in the guise of democracy??


rezvan / September 7, 2010 6:02 AM

Ali,

I have never said any of the things that you claim. Please read my comments carefully. Being an Iranian who loves Iran and has nothing but deep admiration and respect for anyone who has strived for democracy and human rights in Iran I would have to be very misguided to put all Iranians in the same category as Khamenei. I was simply presenting my assessment of the nature of the international community's security concerns regarding an enrichment programe in today's Iran. I wasn't expressing any personal sentiments. In any event, whether you like it or not, "the ignorant western view" is rather important in this crisis.

Your first paragraph, although containing some truths, is weak. It ignores important facts and makes sweeping statements that do not accurately correspond to historical realities. I will try to find the time to explain exactly what I mean at some point tomorrow.

Cy / September 7, 2010 6:38 AM

I think Khatami, Mousavi, Karoubi will not and should not jump on the secular Constitution right away, but to revise/amend the "Islamic Republic" Constitution, to carve way for a "secular" Republic, by limiting Islamic control tools such as the guardian council or the fact of "Velayat Faghigh", which is not the absolute power even in the current constitution


this is/must be, a timely process, they have to carve way to an environment tolerant enough for opposition of any kind, remember there are people living in Iran in favor of IR, those whom have interest in the current system, a minority of 5-10% whom rule the majority, what do you want to do with them? kill them? imprison them? or shall we create a new generation of exiles? continue the defective cycle of intolerance? not all are guilty

not every thing is simply black and white...


so if one is to plan, knows if there is going to be a stable democracy it needs to be developed in a time frame and not overnight, our generation has already lost so it must be planned for future generations not to pass on the risk and chaos


in my opinion it's too soon to speak on secularism while the people in power are abusing Islamic teachings to control the money and guns, and will do anything to keep that; haven't you seen enough blood in the streets or do you want to see more mass executions?


step by step,


wise men play by time


the point here is as Dr. Sahimi has mentioned the "Greens" as one of the first steps have to clarify their foreign policy to reduce the risk of war and losing the country into utter chaos, while domestically work for a ground basis for an "Iranian" Republic (hopefully)

Alal / September 7, 2010 10:35 AM


In general, I see the topic raised by the author very important and it is on time.

The original priniciples with the valube expansion and complementry from the author are indespensibel in raising the fundemental rights of iraninas and that constitutes in its core that there is need to develop some sort of forein policy.. It is very important both in countering the neo-cons, Israel lobby and also charting the framework of a non-violent, sustaibable, long-term democracy in Iran. it seems that i nearly agree all the points above except one.

having said that, I have conservation of the nuclear issue and i would like to narrow my arguemnt on the Fifth article which is "Iran's right to develop and have access to the technology for peaceful use of nuclear energy, within the framework of international laws and treaties."

first of all, it is necessary to note an essential requirement for negotiations between Iran and the west is clarification of issues. the stated agenda is the question of iran's nuclear programme, its rights and obligations as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-porliferation Treaty ( NPT), its short-falls as identified in the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports and resolutions.

as per the NPT, there are countries who have violated and were not punished like south specially south Korea's case involved enriching uranium to levels near weapons grade. in other words, the question is simply of political trust in the stated objectives of Iran's Nuclear Programme.

You have specifically proposed that the "Majles could ratify the Additional Protocol", and as you have said, Iran agreed to co-operate with the IAEA, signed and implemented an Additional Protocol as a voluntary, confidence-building measure, by suspending its enrichment and reprocessing activities during the course of the negotiations until 2005 when EU violated the terms of the "Paris Agreement" by demanding that Iran abandon nuclear enrichment.

the United States (1) refused in principle to engage with Iran; (2) tried to impose conditions through EU3 (3) began to "re-write" the NPT and move its own red-line: from a denial to Iran of nuclear weaponry to a denial, first, of enrichment and then, of research and knowledge itself.

remembering that voluntry act which made an irreversibel commitment that led to the inane offer of 2005, the iranians were left no choice but to continue enriching uranium and since then there is consensus( reformists and Conservatives ) on rejecting suspention of enrichment.

it is equally relevent for now where Iran, Turky and Brazil have issued the "Tehran Declaration" as confidence-building. but the west responded by intensifying economic pressure and refusing it as base for negotiation

overall, the voluntry act of 2003 was a mistake and it paved the way for ill-conceived western approach of denying Iran's inalienable right to enrichment technolog.

Abdikadir/observer / September 7, 2010 1:18 PM

Even though that Khatami, Mousavi, Karoubi have been betrayed by their own system, they will not and should not jump on the secular Constitution right away, but to revise/amend the "Islamic Republic" Constitution, to carve way for a "secular" Republic, by limiting Islamic control tools such as the guardian council or the fact of "Velayat Faghih", which is not the absolute power even in the current constitution


this is/must be, a timely process, they have to carve way to an environment tolerant enough for opposition of any kind, remember there are people living in Iran in favor of IR, those whom have interest in the current system, a minority of 5-10% whom rule the majority, what do you want to do with them? kill them? imprison them? or shall we create a new generation of exiles? continue the defective cycle of intolerance? not all are guilty

not every thing is simply black and white...


so if one is to plan, knows if there is going to be a stable democracy it needs to be developed in a time frame and not overnight, our generation has already lost so it must be planned for future generations not to pass on the risk and chaos


in my opinion it's too soon to speak on secularism while the people in power are abusing Islamic teachings to control the money and guns, and will do anything to keep that; haven't you seen enough blood in the streets or do you want to see more mass executions?


step by step,


the point here is as Dr. Sahimi has mentioned the "Greens" as one of the first steps have to clarify their foreign policy to reduce the risk of war and losing the country into utter chaos, while domestically work for a ground basis for an "Iranian" Republic (hopefully)

Alal / September 7, 2010 6:32 PM

Rezvan,

I am not a zionist or a neocon. Frankly I could care less about Israel. I only hope that the Israelis and Palestinians can somehow find peace as soon as possible so that this problem ceases to be such a headache for the world. I was simply giving my view of how the international community assesses the security situation in TODAY's Middle East as it relates to proliferation risks. I am strongly in favour of a nuclear-free Middle East myself and do believe that Israel's nuclear arsenal is unjustified. However I am a realist and recognise that Israel is not a threat to the national interests of Iran and that it is the Islamic Republic's obsessive anti-Israeli stance that is costing Iranians dearly.
Your rude and hysterical comments are typical of the rest of your writings. It looks like its been taken straight out of Keyhan's Editiorial page. We can only be thankful that people like you aren't capable of crushing debate on TB as you have done so in Iran. Although I am always glad to see that you have no problem expressing your "thoughts" on this forum. It's such an elegantly simple illustration of how irrational you are.

Cy / September 7, 2010 9:11 PM

@Anonymous: "Under what conditions is the IRI going to draw up a new constitution?" None. The very same conditions that apply to Mousavi and his inability to reform the situation. None. There is no chance with Ahmadinejad, his Guards buddies and Khamenei. They are the holders of power right now, aren’t they? Any reform from within is exclusively reliant on their removal from power. We all know they will not let go willingly. Once removed, people would be crazy to go back to another Islamic version of the Republic. In Islamic Republic people never had true candidates or representatives, only pre assigned filtered Islamist approved candidates were handpicked for the job. Mousavi and Karroubi are the best of a system people hate deeply. What other choice did they ever have in a system that has closed all doors to them? Islamic Republic is doomed to failure no matter how you look at it.

"Dr. Sahimi has stated he believes in a secular republic but that changes must be made gradually through the constitution" Did you just say the constitution has to change? Are you going to convince Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and his Guards buddies that the constitution must be changed?
"but he has written extensively" He is entitled to his opinion just like the rest of us. He is wrong.
"I still haven't seen secularists discuss in detail plans towards achieving their goals." Where would you like to see these plans? Down town Tehran? You know the consequences. We have a group of psychotic murderers in charge in Iran who believe in stoning people to death in the 21st century. Some intend to reform them from within. Good luck.

The problem with this foreign policy is that it has no one in charge to implement it inside Iran. What you have here in this article can best be described as a message. {Listen world, if you help us (Islamist reformists) come to power in Iran the above list shall form the basis of our foreign policy.} A last minute effort.

Khodadad is right. He expresses the true feelings of people on the street of Iran who understandably want to be FREE of a Stone Age religious government that has destroyed their way of life and has shattered their hopes and dreams. Sorry, but there are no antiseptic solutions.

Rather than a foreign policy we should start on a democratic constitution inclusive of all that is best for our country. This regime is doomed. It is time to move on.

@Alol: You are missing a very important point. It is not the remaining 95% that are engaged in killing, torture, rape and imprisonment of the Iranian people. It is the present 5%. 95% of population can't wait just in case the remaining 5% is inconvenienced. Your approach isn't logical. "step by step." Which foreign government is going to give you the time of the day when you have no say in the present Iranian government? How long would you like us to wait? Another 31 years? Greens play no role in the present government of Iran. The only way such role is possible is by replacing Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and his Guards buddies. This is not a foreign policy. It is an announcement for support for a group within a system of government that is rejected by the majority of Iranian people, the Islamic Republic.

Vahid / September 7, 2010 9:55 PM

Vahid:

You completely missed my point. My question is HOW? Most Iranians outside of Iran want a secular republic. But HOW? Don't give me "we should start on a democratic constitution" and think this is an answer. WHO, WHERE, WHEN, HOW should this constitution be written? Please give me details. That is all I asked for.

Anonymous / September 7, 2010 10:55 PM

Cy,

Well, again thank you for presenting the great ignorant western view. This is a view that we need to be aware of and do our uttermost to shatter with truth.

I cannot believe that you are denying the simple historical facts by saying “Your first paragraph, although containing some truths, is weak. It ignores important facts and makes sweeping statements that do not accurately correspond to historical realities.” My first paragraph is based on truth and history. In fact I could have written much more but since I was using a blackberry I held back. I can back every single statement with documented historical facts that neither you or any western politician can deny. These are facts that American neo cons ignore as they try to portray Iran as a suicidal/crazy nation and government only worthy of sanctions and war. I look forward to your “accurate” historical realities. It bewilders me that an Iranian would not know their own history to this extent. Maybe because you have been fed by the American Media for the past 30 years. These lies or rather cover up of the truth is exactly why Iran is in such predicament today. If bush had accepted the comprehensive peace package presented to him in 2003 by Iran we would be living an entirely different world today. The same goes for Clinton who rebuked Khatami’s repeated gestures and “Dialog of civilization” with more sanctions while in fact Iran had stopped all material support for hamas and Hezbollah. Saddam’s WMDs and chemical weapons were provided by American and European companies with direct government support. Its Military was constantly supplied with American, European and Russian weapons during 8 years of war while Iran was completely cut off. In the last two years of War Americans effectively entered the war by providing Iranian troop locations to Iraqi Army and attacking Iran’s oil platforms.

How is this for a historical fact: In 1982 President Ronald Reagan decided that the United States "could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran", and that the United States "would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran.” “Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement”

Please at least do some real research before blindly denying simple historical facts.

Ali / September 7, 2010 10:57 PM

@Cy: "We can only be thankful that people like you aren't capable of crushing debate on TB as you have done so in Iran. Although I am always glad to see that you have no problem expressing your "thoughts" on this forum. It's such an elegantly simple illustration of how irrational you are."

Best response to Rezvan's BS yet!

My favorite bit of BS:
"...the economies of the west are teetering on the brink of collapse..." Give me a break!
Also, "Much progress has been achieved since the elections to establish calm and stability ..." Yes by murdering innocent people! That's how you got calm!

Dara / September 7, 2010 11:05 PM

@Anonymous: I didn't miss anything. You are not willing to take notice. You are not going to have a new constitution inside Iran while this regime of murdering thugs are in power. I am very connected to Iran due to location. Use your imagination.
"Most Iranians outside of Iran want a secular republic." There is nothing further from the truth. Iranians want a secular regime. Anyone who denies this critical fact is spitting in the faces of all those who put their lives on the line for it. Why do you think people on the inside have lost hope? Because all their efforts are either denied or misrepresented. It is high time for Iranians on the outside to take care of their obligations. It is high time for a united front for Iran regardless of political affiliations. FOR IRAN. We have more academics than we know what to do with. Don't tell us it can't be done. Don't tell us it is only the wish of the people outside of Iran. What kind of rational human being would want to live in this hell hole? What kind of rational human being would want to have every little aspect of life dictated to him round the clock? People can’t make a living to provide for their families. This regime is on its last leg. Either we get together and prepare for the inevitable or say goodbye to Iran as we know it. IT HAS TO BE DONE ON THE OUTSIDE.
It is getting late here. People are desperate brother. I am sorry. I mean no disrespect but people are desperate.

Vahid / September 8, 2010 1:03 AM

Vahid

I understand everything you are saying. But please tell me how, that's all I am asking. I am all for it, but how, with who? Everyone wants change but please lay out a plan.

Dr. Sahimi has presented plans towards a secualr republic, whether someone agrees with them or not is one thing, but at least he has specific plans. No one else I know has laid out plans. Please just tell me your plan. Thank you.

Anonymous / September 8, 2010 3:13 AM

Vahid:

I would like to ask you to explain your plan for how Iran can become democratic. No slogans, hollow chanting, chest beating, and responding to a question with another question. Just a brief explanation of what you believe should be done to move the country on a democratic path. That way we can all understand your points. As of now, I have not seen you doing that. You only criticize others, without telling everybody what you think must be done.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 8, 2010 4:10 AM

The greens already addressed the nuclear issue on the streets. remember the chant?

"Iran-e sabz-e abad...
bombe atom nemikhad

= a green, prosperous Iran does not want an atom bomb."

Islamic republic is a regime that is obssessed with self-preservation #1, and 2, export of Islamic revolution.
Are they trying to get the bomb? is there really any doubt?
are they gonna "wipe out" israel or give the technology to Hamas? of course not... But should the world (yes, not just the west, the world, including iranians) be concerned?
(I dont know, would you trust a psychotic child with fireworks?)


I dont understand all the fuss about CY's statement? Would any one worry as much if let's say Canada or switzerland was developing nuclear tech?

would the world be as concerned if Iran's government was democraticaly elected and accountable to its people?

CY's statement is neither 'neocon' nor 'unpatriotic', but rather a humble and realistic analysis of how Iran is viewed by the world today.
... after 31 yrs of hustage taking, flag burning and frantic chants of "death to Amrika... death to israel", people are understandably afraid of us.
They dont trust us, and we have noone else to blame but ourselves.

It is very difficult to make a case for our "nuclear rights" when we have monsters on the controls,(and monsters they are) without giving ammunition to the likes of Ian and warmongers in Israel itching to attack Iran. Lets get the most basic, fundamental human rights first, then we can dive into nuclear rights.


In my humble opinion, Moussavi (greens)should continue staying completely out of the whole nuclear issue mess, as it would be a lose-lose situation for him. Instead focus should continue to be on human rights, women's rights, prisoners rights, minorities rights , children's rights, religous rights, respect of the current constitution (e.g. right to peaceful assembly) and other incremental steps with the sight on fair and free elections and eventual modification of the constitution (i.e. dropping the 'Islamic' part from 'Islamic republic of Iran').

Ahvaz / September 8, 2010 4:53 AM

I apologise to anyone who may think that this comment is rather off topic. It is only intended as a response to Ali. I also apologise that it is very long. It kind of got out of hand, being my time off and all!

Ali,

The 53 Coup:
This was indeed an unjust interference in Iran’s domestic affairs. You claim that it resulted in “an utter destruction of an Iranian and middle easter democratic future”. While you may be right, it is by no means clear to me that Iran was destined for a democratic future. The country was 90% functionally illiterate at the time and the most powerful forces in the political arena were the Tudeh party and radical clerics. In the 1979 revolution there was a chance for a democracy to take shape, yet this did not happen for the same reasons that I believe the Iran of 1953 was not necessarily heading for a democracy. I may very well be wrong. However, I do believe that your statement projects an unreasonable level of certainty. I also don’t see how it affected democratic movements in the broader Middle East.

Iran-Iraq War:
The support of the US for Iraq was not “absolute”. The US also supplied arms to Iran via Israel during the war. The reality is that it did not want either side to come out as the undisputed victor. Nonetheless it is true that the US and some of its allies heavily supported Iraq, especially during the final years of the war, as did countries as diverse as the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. In fact, the Soviet Union sold or gave more military equipment and supplies to Iraq than did any other country. The point is that the Islamic Republic’s disastrous foreign policy immediately after the revolution had managed to alienate most of the world. Contemptible behavior such as taking diplomats hostage and parading them in front of cameras blindfolded, as well as talks of spreading radical Islamist revolutions caused the world to shamefully look the other way as Iraq criminally invaded Iran and started a tragedy of immense proportions. The US support for Iraq during the war really started after Iran decided to continue the war into Iraqi territory in mid-march of 1982. It was at around this time that, as you rightly point out, President Ronald Reagan decided that the United States "could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran", and that the United States "would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran.” Indeed it seems to me that although continuing the war into Iraq for the purposes of removing Saddam was justifiable by Iran on moral grounds, it should have been very clear that such a goal would be extremely impractical. It was very clear that the US was not going to sit back and allow an intensely anti-American form of Islamism to take over another very important country in the region. Not to mention the expected reaction of the Arab states.

Unilateral US sanctions:
The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 was at least partly supposed to be in response to the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorist organizations, in particular Hamas, Hizbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. While during Khatami’s administration it is believed that government support for these groups had declined (perhaps even vanished as you suggest) substantial sums continued to be sent from Iran by “private” religious foundations. I think you’ll find that these “private” religious foundations are about as private as the front companies run by the IRGC in Iran today as it extends its reach across the Iranian economy. Many of the religious foundations in Iran are controlled by some of the most hard-line elements in the Islamic regime. In any case the regime enabled the transactions. I’m sure Khatami had nothing to do with them. But Khamenei did and it was his decisions that mattered.

Grand Bargain Proposal:
As I understand it the prospects for a “Grand Bargain” between the US and the Islamic Republic was raised in a one page document and covering letter faxed to the US by Tim Guldimann, the Swiss ambassador in Iran. The document was supposedly developed by Sadegh Kharazi, the then foreign minister’s nephew. Here is a link to the document:
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/opinion/20070429_iran-memo-expurgated.pdf
In the covering letter the Swiss ambassador said that Sadegh Kharazi had two long discussions with the Supreme Leader and that Khatami and FM Kharazi were also present. He also claimed that there had been agreement on 85%-90% of the paper. There is not by any means uniform acceptance that this letter reflected the genuine opinion of the power centres in the Islamic Republic and constituted a serious basis for negotiations. Flynt Leverett characterises it as an “extraordinary proposal” that could have led to a major breakthrough in relations. The then US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage discussed the fax in an interview with FRONTLINE:
“I remember talking with people from our Near East division about a fax that came in from the Swiss ambassador, and I think our general feeling was that he had perhaps added a little bit to it because it wasn't in consonance with the state of our relations. And we had had some discussions, ... particularly through intelligence channels with high-ranking Iranian intelligence people, and nothing that we were seeing in this fax was in consonance with what we were hearing face to face. So we didn't give it much weight.”
Regarding Flynt Leverett’s assessment, he adds:
“... I must say that speaking for me and most of my colleagues at the State Department, we didn't see it that way, and I don't think many others did at the time because it didn't fit with some of the other things, as I said, that we'd been hearing from Iran.”
Patrick Clawson told FRONTLINE:
“It was extremely clear -- it has been for a decade -- that the way in which you bring about a grand bargain is through feelers between the two sides' intelligence services. That's how it's always been done in the Middle East. That's how [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat's breakthrough with the Israelis was done; that's how the Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough was done. It's being done by people who clearly have the ear of the leaders and are very good at keeping secrets.”
“What the Iranians were doing in 2003 was the exact opposite of all that. They were going through imminently untrustworthy intermediaries …”
Mohammad Ali Abtahi then vice president in Iran gives his comments on the legitimacy of the proposal to FRONTLINE:
“Look, when this was revealed in Iran, it was a point of contention as to whether it had been agreed upon by all levels of government. That's the reason why I'm reluctant to discuss it, because when this issue came out, its various aspects were not clear; it was not clear whether all levels of leadership were in agreement about it or not.”
Hossein Shariatmadari, Editor of Kayhan and direct appointee of Khamenei completely dismisses the proposal:
HS: “These types of issues, including negotiating with the United States, are among the major policy issues, and according to the law, such major decisions are to be made in the National Security Council of Iran. ... The issues are debated there and should be approved and signed by the Supreme Leader. Until such a process is followed, it will not become a policy to execute. …”
FRONTLINE: … Are you clear in your mind that it was definitely not approved by the National Security Council and the Supreme Leader, or is there a chance maybe that it was but somehow kept quiet?
HS: “No, I'm very confident that that was not the case. I'm quite aware of the Supreme Leader's views; those viewpoints are well known by the public. Not at all. I'm quite certain that this did not happen. We are even a bit suspicious that the Swiss ambassador wrote that fax himself; we don't know it for sure. ... It was not an important issue, and I'm sure the Supreme Leader and the National Security Council had nothing to do with it.”
Let me be clear that I think that this proposal should have been pursued by the US to establish whether it could have led to serious negotiatons and the fact that it wasn’t reflects a grave error in judgement. However, I do not think that the fax represented a coherent policy of rapprochement by the Islamic Republic and I believe that it would have most probably led to a dead-end rather quickly. I think the IRGC and the more hardline elements of the regime which control the crucial centres of power would have blocked any meaningful reconciliation just as they did with Khatami’s internal reforms. This is only my opinion and I have no way of being certain of its validity. When I said that some of your comments did not correspond to historical realities, I had these types of comments in mind:
“If bush had accepted the comprehensive peace package presented to him in 2003 by Iran we would be living an entirely different world today.”
This level of certainty based on a disputed proposal to begin negotiations is not justified in my view.
Finally, not that it matters, but I have only very recently left Iran and haven’t been consuming American media outputs for the past 30 years as you suggest(I am 20). Although I welcome any criticism of my comments, I don’t care for the personal insults. If you expect me to respond to you, I expect a modicum of class.

Cy / September 8, 2010 7:01 AM

Cy- presuming you are a genuine 'democrat' and accept the principle of one man one vote and one nation one vote at the UNSC (and no right of vetoes for a few at the expense of the many - or give all a veto??). Can I ask if the 'international community' that you refer to consists of the 118 NAM members who voted overwhelmingly in support of the IRI's right to a peaceful nuclear programme under the NPT of which Iran still remains a member despite provocations against it in the hope that in a moment of madness it will abandon the forum and then its detractors can say we told you so???
The truth is that the US and its allies are a bunch of bullies and have no right to speak o.b.o. the overwhelming majority of the world's peoples whose very livelihood and existence is being threatened by their rampant consumption of the earth's natural resources at an unsustainable level thereby having a severe impact on the global climate and environement. It is more fitting to call them international bullies and thugs because that is what they are in reality. They wish to rule by diktat, 'democracy' is only acceptable as long as people vote for the leaders they want to enable perpetual exploitation and dominion.

rezvan / September 8, 2010 8:48 AM

Vahid

...""Which foreign government is going to give you the time of the day when you have no say in the present Iranian government? How long would you like us to wait? Another 31 years? ""..


long enough time that the majority "inside" Iran (not out side) are capable of tolerating with opposition of any kind, (example, yourself are intolerant of that 5%), until then what ever system with what ever constitution in power will only enter the defective cycle of intolerating the minority

The "Utopia" that your looking for doesn't necessarily mean western secular democracy, instead of searching for Utopia we should keep our feet on ground and stick to facts, i first of all disagree with what ever constitution written by anyone outside Iran, i disagree with the western model of democracy, why? because we have "cultural" differences, like it or not, it's fact

that's why we have to come with an "Iranian" secular system, which only comes out of (inside) Iran, by revising/amending the already semi tryed constitution we have, not to write one from scratch


foreign countries and in particular Israeli and US neocons regardless of who in power in Tehran, if have interests in war, will push for war anyway,


i just ran into an interesting article about a debate prior to attacking Iraq


In a late 2002 debate in Slate, Goldberg (Jeffrey Goldberg, famous American-Israeli neocon lobbying aggressively for an attack on Iran) described Hussein(Saddam) as "uniquely evil" and advocated an invasion on a moral basis:

There is consensus belief now that Saddam could have an atomic bomb within months of acquiring fissile material. ... The administration is planning today to launch what many people would undoubtedly call a short-sighted and inexcusable act of aggression. In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality

my favorite part:
...."" In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality"...

7 years on and we're all here to judge those comments for ourselves

Alal / September 8, 2010 8:58 AM

"One good example is the claim that is often made by Tehran's hardliners that they support "democratic elections and democracy" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The claim is bogus," is in fact incorrect. The only reason Iraq has an electoral process is because Ay. Sistani told the Bush administration if they did not hold the elections, he and his followers would join the insurgency. Following that, the Al-Sadr group, the Ay. Hakim group all insisted for "one man, one vote," and without further delay. To say IR was opposed to that when they supported all above groups is itself "bogus." The author also ignores the fact that Iran is PRINCIPALLY responsible for the end of the civil wars in Lebanon in 1980's, the Afgan civil war in early 1990's, and the end of Tajik civil war in mid 1990's, where all civil wars came to end with ceremonies in none other than in Tehran. (I won't even go into Iran's central role in Bosnia). All three nations practiced some form of electoral (not necessarily fully democratic) governance. In case of Afganistan, H.W.Bush famously declared "any deal signed in Tehran will not stand." That led to US arming little known groups called the Taliban who spoused Al-Qaida. Thus ending the peace in that nation and all the consequences this nation has suffered. But those remain two more examples of IR's positive effects in the region. And there is good reason for that, even the IR realizes it needs secure borders and strong commerce with its neighbors who are not killing themselves. That's pragmatic and not fanatic. This is consistent with the fact that Iran gets along, in fact very well, with the democratic regime in Turkey. Many assert that a "democratic" Iraq would be threatening to Iran. Yet, no one speaks of the fact that a democratic Turkey has only made the two closer. The greatest threat to IR's long term suvival is its self-inflicted educated class. The IR survives because there is no BROAD popular concensus that would threaten the Islamic regime, at the moment. Thus, the Islamic State is in no threat by any outside democratic regime, rather they are beneficiaries of such states that create secure borders and increase trade.

"In the Middle East, Israel is another nation with a foreign policy that is based on ideology -- Zionism," is in fact a true statement. And ultimately will spell the downfall of both IR and Israel, from within as they are both ultimately incompatible with the 21st century. I will discuss in anothe piece why the State of Isreal is threat to Iran's national security even if Iran had a secular democratic state.

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy is aggressive and based on adventurism" yet the author fails to provide us as to why he believes so. Where is Iran's adventurism. This is another one of those statements that plays on the public ignorance. It banks on stereotypes and misinformation to squeez in an assumed position. Iran's President is a single member of its national security counsel, in fact it is the chairman. The SL has veto power. The supreme national security minister is another member. Head of the parliament, Mr. Larijani (hardly an ally of Ahmadinejad), sits on the counsel as well. Iran's foreign policy is concensus based. The President does not dictate his wishes but clearly influences it. That kind of lack of information may lead most casual readers to conclude the statement the author has made is accurate. This is not different from the fact that the most casual reader has no idea that Mr. Mousavi had 42000 monitors counting the election vote of 2009, and certified the count. They don't realize that Mr. Mousavi never detailed where his count, by his own monitors from his own campaign, differed from that of the official count. Lacking such critical information, the casual reader would conclude the vote was a fraudulant.

"5-A principle of the policy must be Iran's right to develop and have access to the technology for peaceful use of nuclear energy, within the framework of international laws and treaties.

6. The right to the technology for nuclear energy must not supersede other national rights, and in particular the fundamental rights of the citizens." Then the author quotes that no patriotic Iranian can disagree with these principles. Ofcourse it is objectionable even by those of us who live here and simpathize with Iran's rights. Again, another statememt that relies on ignorance of the casual reader. Iran's "right to have peaceful access to nuclear energy" is in fact capitulation of Iranian rights. The conflict over Iran's nuclear program is NOT over whether Iran has the right to purchase and use nuclear power (which is what the statement suggests), but whether Iran has the right to produce enriched uranium as fuel and sell it in the international markets. The Western powers frequently say "Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power," and never once mention Iran has the right to enrich; Because in this way they can negate Iran's right to be self sufficient. Yes, Iran has the right to build a Russian reactor in Bushehr and use Russian fuel to produce energy while becoming completely dependent on Russia. Either Mr. Mazrooei does not understand what is at stake or he is capitulating by using the identical language used by Western Powers. An important distinction between the appologists of Green Movement and Ahmadinejad camp.

"Iran did sign the Additional Protocol on December 18, 2003, and carried out its provisions on a volunteer basis until August 2005. The Majles never ratified the agreement, however, and because Iran and the European Union could not reach an accord regarding the nuclear program, Iran stopped its volunteer implementation of the protocol." The author correctly points to this history but fails to convince us as to why should Iran repeat the same mistake, when she did not get anything in return the first time around. The author could further mention, as he is an expert on these matters, that Iran has made numerous offers to aleviate international concerns, including the sale of 49% of Iran's nuclear industry to foreign investors including the US government, in order for them to be present at EVERY STEP of the production. Even El Baradai said he was shocked why the West did not take up Iran on such a generous offer. I tell you why, there is no international concern except the regime change policy of the past 30 years.

The United States would be best served if we had a rational foreign policy based on vital American interests. Instead, we have policies based on vital lobbyist interests. Iran's right to enrich should not be a threat to us, we should invest and participate in the process. Isolating Iran will only lead to weaponization and at a detrement to our interests.

As always, I thank Dr. Sahimi for generating yet another interesting debate.

Pouya / September 8, 2010 11:47 AM

Abdikadir/observer

excellent points. I enjoyed reading your response.

Pouya / September 8, 2010 12:03 PM

Alal

well thought out comments.

Pouya / September 8, 2010 12:07 PM

Pak

"...nations with an independent indigenous nuclear programme are either rogue or non-signatories of the NPT." don't forget that there is a third group that has independent indigenous nuclear programme-The superpowers.

Pouya / September 8, 2010 12:11 PM

Khodadad

If that is a broad national concensus, and not just Tehran based ideology, then it is good news. A threashold was passed last year, I am just waiting to see to what extent.

Pouya / September 8, 2010 12:15 PM

As an outsider so to speak I have alot of sympathies with the Green movement in Iran. However many years ago the people chose a new style of Islamic governanace, with an Ayotollah.
If now, then as before, such change must come about ultimately through the will of the Iranian people and may take many years.
The problem is the outside interference by others on Iran and Iran (Quds day) interfereing in other nations politics and battles politically.
You add to that extremist Islamic sects who support Al Qaeda committing horrific crimes on innocent infidels and worse still fellow muslims therefore Islamic believers.
That created the so called war on terror and leads to Afghanistan and Iraq (now moving to Pakistan Yemen and Somalia).
My dear fellow citizens of this world Muslim Christian or whatever.
1) Please pursue your chosen religious belief and if that requires you to convert me to your faith/ belief = Islam I respect your right to do so.
2) As of now with the behaviour of what I agree are extremists in your religion my answer to any attempt to convert me as of now is, it is beyond my miserably poor comprehension how a JIHAD can justify killing one's own believers as well, therefore my conversion is impossible
3)What we all need to do is repect each other, and have tolerance of the intolerable and religiously let us all pursue our own beliefs. You can try to convert me peacefully and with words; use a Gun or a bomb and even if you kill me you lost a potential covert a) because I am dead.and b) because such force is against mine an your religion.
Peace to everyone irrespective of religious belief is the only way of progress Green or otherwise in Iran or elsewhere.
Regards,
Hodgson.

J.V.Hodgson / September 8, 2010 12:27 PM

Dear Cy,

Good luck debating with Ali. Judging by past experience, you will be on the receiving end of a tirade that is full of rhetoric and light on content. His mentality - shared by a lot of compatriots - is that he is right and you are wrong, and by challenging him you are not only wrong but also ignorant and stupid.


Dear Pouya,

You have a point, but the problem is that we tend to dwell on this reality instead of incorporating it into our thinking. The point I am trying to make to Professor Sahimi is that the world is not all roses and butterflies; we would be living in utopia if all international laws and treaties were followed, if justice prevailed. Instead, the fact of the matter is that Iran's nuclear programme as it stands is not viable and against our national interests. Of course this is not fair, but nothing is. If anything it is our own fault, because we have failed to develop Iran into a powerful, influential nation.

Instead of playing the game, we have sat on the sidelines and sulked about how we should have been picked as captain, despite the fact that we are weak and lack influence. This is the current mentality towards the nuclear programme and Professor Sahimi's approach is no different. It will get us nowhere.

Pak / September 8, 2010 6:03 PM

@Pouya

..""The Western powers frequently say "Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power," and never once mention Iran has the right to enrich; Because in this way they can negate Iran's right to be self sufficient.""...

well written, bulls eye, yes that is true the so called super powers want keep the nuclear industry monopolized, as Israel in middle east to bully around her neighbours...can't understand why in at the very beginning of a so called peace negotiation they push for more developments in eastern Jerusalem...!!

guess that too has some thing to do with Iran's aggressive behaviour..!!


@J.V.Hodgsom

whose talking about converting anyone else to another religion??
this debate here is about the future of our country and how to achieve a secular republic, while maintaining our national interests
Just for your record, you hardly find anyone in Iran who believes in any sort of god anymore

...""Peace to everyone irrespective of religious belief is the only way of progress Green or otherwise in Iran or elsewhere""..

yes agreed but am looking forward to see the Koran burning ceremony in the free tolerant world and it's backlash in your allied Arab countries (the really Muslim ones)
;)

Alal / September 8, 2010 7:15 PM

Pouya:

Your reading of some parts of the article is skewed.

Do I need to explain why Ahmadinejad foreign policy is aggressive and based on adventurism?
Are denying the Holocaust, holding conference about it in Tehran, constantly making inflammatory remarks about Israel, saying one thing, doing another, ..... not good enough? May be it is not obvious to you that this is a reckless, aggressive FP - if it can be called as such - because you look at things from a very special and narow prism, but it seems to me it is obvious to most people.

Why Iran's rights to peaceful nuclear technology is capitulation? There is no such thing as the right to have nuclear arsenal, not for Iran, not for any nation. Deterrent is one thing, the actual weapons are completely different. A complete, efficient and free of technical problems enrichment program in place is the deterrent.

Iran should ratify the Additional Protocol in return for a concession. That is understood. It seems to me it is only you who pretends otherwise, just to argue.

I suggest that you control your "pen" when you write that I make statements by relying on people's ignorance. You have learned from my articles far more than anything else that you ever read about Iran's history of the past 30 years. Perhaps you should change your mirror so that you see yourself in it.

Finally, the intention of writing such articles, which takes a lot of time, is generating good debates and motivating people to think. Such goals cannot rely on people's ignorance.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 8, 2010 7:59 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

Your articles are excellent for both those with strong personal attachment to Iran (which seems like most of the readers of this site) as well as those who do not know much about the state of Iran and are just interested in learning about what is happening (like myself). You can't get this information by watching American news channels...


"...the United States have been busy trying to present the Green Movement as a pro-American development."

To the American public, a group which wants fair democratic elections and the removal of the current regime is the one to back. Although the Green Movement has not articulated what its policies would be, we Americans assume that it have to be better than the current regime's policies of nuclear aspirations and military strikes.

Scott (from VF class) / September 8, 2010 9:51 PM

Cy,

Please do not accuse me of insulting you when in fact I have not. I simply pointed out the flaws in your argument. I express regret if you feel that I did. Also, no need for you to apologize to anyone; we are talking foreign policy and in fact this is quite relevant.

I have a very limited time today so I have to address your topics one at a time while jumping one meeting to another:


The 53 coup:

“I believe the Iran of 1953 was not necessarily heading for a democracy”

You really need to read up on your history my dear friends. Iran was a functioning democracy in 53 with a democratically elected parliament and prime minister. The freedom of press was so prevalent that it would put today’s American newspapers to shame (It was in fact used by CIA and Tudeh to discredit Dr. Mosssadegh) but Dr. Mossadegh never wavered in his commitment to a truly free press. What stopped democratic Iran’s progress was an American and British coup d'état that toppled the democratic government in place and nothing else.


“The country was 90% functionally illiterate at the time and the most powerful forces in the political arena were the Tudeh party and radical clerics.”

How can you leave out Jebhe Melli (National Front of Iran)? The most powerful force in nationalizing oil and bring Dr. Mossadegh to power. A progressive nationalist organization that Dr. Mossadegh founded in the late 40s with others like Dr.Hossein Fatemi (One of the most honorable man in Iranian history murdered by the dear Shah), Ahmad Zirakzadeh, Ali Shayegan and Karim Sanjabi. It held power in the Iranian parliament for several years prior to the 1953 Iranian coup d'état and continued as an opposition force thereafter.

How did you get that 90% figure? I don’t claim to know the exact number but Iran’s students had been the driving force of modernization and progressive thinking in Iran since before the constitutional revolution and in fact Iran was primed to become a functional democracy that would have been a great model for all other countries in the middle east considering Iran’s considerable natural weight in the area and how every event in Iran sends ripples throughout the middles east and provides examples for others. As the largest and the richest country in the middles it is naïve to ignore her potential impact.

Look forward to my response to other three topics soon! (not to mention the Axis of Evil) :)

Ali / September 8, 2010 10:15 PM

Ali,

Re: "What stopped democratic Iran’s progress was an American and British coup d'état that toppled the democratic government in place and nothing else."

no question; CIA and MI6 role in the coup is clear, but You are leaving out a few culprits.

What about Ay. Kashani, who in pursuit of Islamic government, undermined secular Mossadegh and removed his support for his government?

What about the Tudeh party, a prominent party with some muscle at the time that could have actually thwarted the coup, but instead undermined nationalist Mossadegh, whom they considered anti-Kremblin.

And how about the Iranian Generals, officers soldiers that took part in the coup? what about the role of Shah and monarchists who even today redicule Mossadegh?

And what about masses in general? when Chavez was overthrown in a coup a few years ago, millions started walking towards the parliment and restored their elected president in 2 days (just an example, I dont want to get into Venezuela politics). where were the Iranian masses in 53?

We Iranians have a bad habit of blaming all our ills on others, namely the British and the US. We Iranians are first and foremost responsible for what happened in 53 and what is happening in Iran today. Unless we take some responsibility, learn and evolve as a nation, it is the same, same, same.

Ahvaz / September 9, 2010 2:06 AM

Cy,

Iran-Iraq War:

Thank you for using actual historical facts for this topic. I agree with almost all of your points except that you try to justify American and European behavior based on the Hostage crisis and Iranian revolutionary rhetoric which in no way can justify 8 years of brutal warfare sanctioned and financed by the west (Saudis bark as their American masters tell them to).

Also based on overwhelming facts some of which you present yourself you cannot possibly argue that the United States did not want Saddam to be the victor. The only reason Iraqi tanks did not reach Tehran or for that matter broke the siege of Ahvaz was the bravery of millions of Iranians most of whom died defending their country. Just as a reminder the loss of life was 3 times greater on the Iranian side primarily because of the man vs. weapon disadvantage and also since Saddam attacked Iranian cities with fighter aircraft and American made scud missiles. Iraq launched 520 Scuds against Iran and received only 177 in exchange (Iran received its missiles from Syria and Libya). Following Regan’s decision in 1982, Rumsfeld even met with Saddam in 1983 to pledge full American support and ever since there was no turning back. Comparing the few weapons actually delivered by Israel to Iran to the amount of weaponry that Saddam received from United States and its allies is misguided to say the least.

Just to give you a few figures to mull over:

Over 100,000 Iranians were victims of Chemical attacks alone and close to 1 million lost their lives in the war (no figures on wounded) compare to 300,000 Iraqi wounded or dead.

Imbalance of Power (1980–1987)

Tanks in 1980 – Iraq= 2700, Iran= 1740. Tanks in 1987 Iraq = 4500, Iran = 1000

Fighter Aircraft in 1980 Iraq= 332, Iran= 445. Fighter Aircraft in 1987 Iraq = 500, Iran= 65 (serviceable)

Helicopters in 1980 Iraq= 40 Iran = 500. Helicopters in 1987 Iraq = 150, Iran = 60

Artillery in 1980 Iraq= 1000 Iran= 1000+. Artillery in 1987 Iraq= 4000+, Iran= 1000+

I am in no way defending the Iranian regime’s handling of the war or its politics/ foreign policies. In fact, Khomeini decision to continue the war after recapturing Khorramshahr can be categorized the worst military/political decision in Iranian History (discounting Khosrau II siege of Constantinople and the fall of Sassanid’s to Arabs upon his disastrous campaign). The hostage Crisis and American response to it only ensured the survival of Khomeini’s version of the revolution. However war only breeds more extremism and if United States and her European allies wanted to contain Iran they only did the opposite. They cannot have any claim to holding the torch of civilized behavior and accuse Iran of deserving this much pain and misery simply because of a hostage crisis in which not even one American was killed and some punch less rhetoric from an 80 old man. Hezbollah did not even exist until 1982 and Hamas not until 1988.

Ali / September 9, 2010 2:09 AM

Ahvaz,
You are definitely correct in naming the additional culprits. However, neither Kashani nor Tudeh would have toppled the government on their own and without CIA and MI6 involvement. The coup was planned after close to two years of international sanctions and shipping blockades orchestrated by the British and the United States that weakened the nationalist government. Dr. Mossadegh would have not fallen if it was not for the American and British’s unrelenting efforts and their sponsored coup d'état, after all they were the most powerful countries in the world at that time and still are today. Also, we cannot compare Chavez’s situation in the 21th century when a simple text gets thousands gathered to the 1950s when, by the time Mossadegh’s guards were taken out by the generals on the CIA payroll, the actual population had no idea of what had happened, until it was too late. So, it is undeniable that United States and the British bear the brunt of responsibility for what conspired.

Ali / September 9, 2010 3:20 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

This is just an intellectual debate. Given the realities of Iran today, and the most likely immediate future of Iran, Iran's foreign policy will not be up for debate any time soon.

However, I like such debates.I do see in your article a deep searching for libertarian principles. The "rights" of nations and of humans.

The first thing that drew my attention was your three "general principles [that] should govern any such discussions." Your #1 is the right to life. Everyone has the right to not be killed (unless they are trying to kill others who are defending themselves). #2 goes directly to your #3, that "an effective foreign policy cannot be based on an idealogical view of the world." ALL foreign and political policies are idealogical. Pragmatism is an idealogy. Look at the U.S. foreign policy (especially in Iran) in the '50's. It was pragmatic to oppose the U.S.S.R. everywhere. Regarless of the outcomes.

Your last paragraph is very interesting. "As a muslim"....Would you support the Iranian governments continued financial and technical support of Palestinian and Hezbollah attacks on Jewish and Muslim civilians within Israel? Do you see these attacks (suicide and others) as an act of self-defense, or just pragmatic? The enemy of my enemy.........

Muhammad billy bob / September 9, 2010 3:53 AM

Ali - you should watch "The revolution will not be televised", because you're misguided about the failed Venezuelan coup.

Sam / September 9, 2010 5:09 AM


این ره که تو میروی به هندوستان است!

People are starving in four corners of the country, being tortured and raped in prisons, stoned and hanged on gallows, resources looted and pocketed or shipped to Lebanon and Gaza, and ethnic and ideological differences are waiting in shadows to rip the country apart; and yet you still think that producing EU is a priority for the country, and place your hopes on ex-thugs of the same regime to lead us once again to ideals of their Emam-e Rahel. You must be having a very good time in your Ivory Tower in LA dear.

یکی میمرد ز درد بینوائی - یکی میگفت خانم زردک میخواهی؟

I am telling you: these mullas will hang on to power by all means up to the very last minute and then ideological iranians will selfishly rip the country apart once again as they virtually did in 1979.

http://www.kavehfarrokh.com/news/anti-iran-pan-turk-racialists-in-tehran-azadi-stadium-chanting-“arab-gulf”/

Rational / September 9, 2010 5:48 AM

Muhammad Billy Bob:

I do not agree with you regarding your first paragraph, not only because I see deep changes coming soon, but also because, as I said in the article, some in the West misrepresent the Green Movement.

Your comment regarding point 1 is well taken.

I disagree with your comment on point 3. The U.S. is a deeply pragmatic, non-ideological nation, and most of the time - not always though - that is reflected in its foreign policy. History shows that if the US perceives something to be in its interest, it will be willing to make a pact with some of the worst governments and political groups to protect that interest. Look at the US support for many dictatorships both during and after the cold war. Look at Nixon's policy of rapprochement with China UNDER MAO ZEDONG in order to confront the Soviet Union. Look at the US support for Jonas Savimbi, the murderous leader of one faction in Angola against others. That is the ultimate pragmatism.

I do not support giving any aide to any group to attack other nations, period. I am opposed to Hezbollah attacking Israel, unless Israel attacks first. I am also opposed giving aide to Hezbollah or Hamas, when the Iranian people can use that themselves. Moral support or humanitarian support is different from what the IRI gives them. I have deep sympathies for the Palestinians, but I am first and foremost concerned with my native land, Iran.

I also do not see Hezbollah the way the US administration or Israel sees it. Hezbollah has deep roots in Lebanon. Even if it is completely disarmed, it will be a powerful political/social force to reckon with. Same for Hamas. I do not believe in the nonsense that if Iran cuts off its aide to Hezbollah, it will collapse.

Ali/Cy:

In my opinion, the US supported Iraq for two reasons: (1) To prevent Iran from winning, and (2) to help prolong the war so that both nations will bleed.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 9, 2010 5:58 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

Thanks for provoking a very stimulating and informative debate on these important issues. Having now read your views on Hamas & Hizbollah I can't help thinking that if your general position on various matters including the nuclear issue were to be adopted in Iran that there would be a basis for serious discussions with those outside Iran who see the country as a dangerous threat.

> Iran should ratify the Additional Protocol in return for a concession.
Presumably by "concession" you mean acceptance of enrichment? Surely that could only happen if *all* the issues the IAEA have raised are addressed? Alternatively, I think it's not totally out of the question to suggest that the other IAEA issues (which would be embarrassing for Iran to address) might be dropped if there were some bigger deal involving all outstanding areas of dispute (regional issues/terrorism, WMDs, etc.) a bit like the "Libya deal", and involving similar concessions leading to Iran's financial and political re-integration with the rest of the world – which no-one outside Iran currently believes is possible, I should note.

You obviously know much more about what goes on inside Iran than myself, and you say that deep changes are underway inside Iran; and I myself have noted in the last week or two some signs that a reassessment of political allegiances is underway at high levels inside Iran, so I hope the discussion of Green foreign policy continues even if it does seem rather academic, and would suggest (if I may) that it could beneficially be re-focused at this point "with the aim of arriving at a coherent [and interlinked] summary of the positions regarding [all] important issues" (to paraphrase Mazrooei). Is there any appetite inside Iran for a "Libya deal", or do you think Greens are aiming at a more gradual détente? I can't help agreeing with Muhammad billy bob that it's merely an intellectual debate, but I think it's worthwhile if it helps develop a better understanding of the issues, and I hope you'll be willing to indulge me with a reply on this occasion.

Ian / September 9, 2010 7:08 AM

Ali,

re "neither Kashani nor Tudeh would have toppled the government on their own and without CIA and MI6 involvement"

true; my point though is that CIA/MI6 couldnt have toppled Mossadegh either if he werent abandened by large number of Iranians who picked ideology, religion or a shah over their democratically elected government.

The easiest thing in the world is to blame others for every thing. Self-reflection is always more difficult.

US/britain screwed many nations (e.g. Chile, India) yet those people somehow found their way instead of holding a mean grudge.


Regarding Iran-Iraq war, yes US mostly took the side of Iraq. but so did (may be even more so)the French, soviets and Arabs. why not mention them?

Every country in the world uses foreign policy based on self-interest and aliances change when those interests change.


Ahvaz / September 9, 2010 7:54 AM

Dr. Sahimi

"Why Iran's rights to peaceful nuclear technology is capitulation? " I think you did not read my comments on this matter carefully. This statement "peaceful nuclear technology" is used by Wester diplomats to mean purchasing light water reactors and importing fuel rods, as a cover to avoid public annunciation of Iran's right to enrich and have a full cycled process. They never once have said, specifically, "Iran has a right to enrich uranium" for peaceful nuclear energy. My point had nothing to do with weaponization at all. For any Iranian to use the same euphemism as western diplomats have to mask their denial of Iran's right to enrich, is unfortunate. And I am referring to Mr. Marzooei. I am pretty confident that you agree Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment. What surprises me is that you had not picked up on the euphemism Western diplomats use to deny Iran its right to enrich. Anyhow, none of this paragraph is a criticism of you. I think other readers got it right.

"Iran should ratify the Additional Protocol in return for a concession. That is understood." Is it? I think when one is writing an article, and I refer again to Mr. Marzooei, and when one claims that they want to create a "Green Policy" then they need to spell everthing out. Writing a policy is not the same as a wink and smile. If one is a serious writer of policy, that policy must spell out everything. I see no evidence that we can presume Mr. Marzooei agrees to a CONCESSION BEFORE RATIFICATION (I'd like to coin that phrase). That may be only "understood" by you, I would more characterize it as a presumption by you. Rather, I read it as a concession when the policy does not spell out a demand. Additionally, when one writes such ideas, why leave the writing open to criticisms such as mine. Furthermore, if Mr. Marzooei truely asks for concession BEFORE ratification, then what is the difference between his policy and that of Ahmadinejad? Thus, I have to take him at his writing, that he is capitulating.

"I suggest that you control your "pen" when you write that I make statements by relying on people's ignorance" and the rest of that self-endulging egocentric attempt to insult me, remain there for other readers to judge.

Thanks for the conversation.

Pouya / September 9, 2010 10:23 AM

" 5. A principle of the policy must be Iran's right to develop and have access to the technology for peaceful use of nuclear energy, within the framework of international laws and treaties.

6. The right to the technology for nuclear energy must not supersede other national rights, and in particular the fundamental rights of the citizens.

7. The Green Movement must oppose any military attacks on Iran's territory. "


the sum of 5 + 6 + 7 is a clever politically correct way of saying that focus needs to be on winning Iranian citizen rights and normalizing relations with [western] nations rather than fighting for "nuclear rights" which have essentially exposed Iran to military attack.


to me it appears that green leaders (or at least Mazrooey) realise, and want to express, that the costs and risks of developing nuclear technology, eventhough technically it is a 'right' of the nation, are too high, and that they would rather focus on rebuilding trust and normalizing relations with other nations.

This is precisely what Mazrooey's means by his first principle: " to distinguish it [green movement's foreign policy] from that of the hardliners".

ahvaz / September 9, 2010 10:52 AM


Much of the Green leaders in Diaspora have adopted a two fold policy to help occupy Iran: first, deligitimize Iran from every angle, from its system of government to its elections. And when bad things happen to Iran, blame its leaders for everything under the sun. Second, in order to keep legitimacy, you will notice they all unanimously oppose military action against Iran, even though their propaganda is setting the stage for such an adventure. That is why it is so pivotal to their strategy to keep chipping away at Iran until a regime change is brought by foreign powers. They can always deny supporting occupation, even though they knew full well they would not be able to stop it.

Pouya / September 9, 2010 12:15 PM

Rational

(Irrational suits better), khamenei is Azari, so is Mousavi, karoubi is "Lor" and Khatami is "Yazdi" but they + us are all Iranians...so what is your point? some hooligans shouting slogans? I stand by IR on this one

""این ره که تو میروی به هندوستان است""

so again what are you trying to say? do you suggest that everyone should stop thinking? or you also like the US and Israeli neocons suggest that our country should be bombed with "white phosphorous" and "Depleted Uranium" bombs? and create a situation even worse than we're already in?


Ali

well searched and thought out comments,


Dr Salimi
..""I also do not see Hezbollah the way the US administration or Israel sees it. Hezbollah has deep roots in Lebanon. Even if it is completely disarmed, it will be a powerful political/social force to reckon with. Same for Hamas. I do not believe in the nonsense that if Iran cuts off its aide to Hezbollah, it will collapse.""..

may i add that is/was it OK for Israelis(Zionists NOT Jews) to take Palestinian homes put them in concentration camps (after 60 years, today those camps are known as Gaza), put them under strict blockade and bomb them once in a while? just because some god promised some tribe some land 5000 years ago?

I think you should also write an article about the double standards within western foreign policies...

Alal / September 9, 2010 2:43 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

Thank you very much for your comments.

My point is that pragmatism is an idealogy. One with very serious, often unintented, consequences. U.S. foreign policy of the cold war era is a great example of this. Support of any peoples regarless of their "idealogy" has led to a great many problems. Afganistan is just one example. U.S. support for the anti-soviet forces have led directly to some of those people attacking the U.S. Iraq is another good example. In the 70's and '80's the U.S. tried to pragmatically support the Ba'athists in Iraq knowing full well their inhuman treatment of their fellow humans. There are many other examples.

As you alluded to, the only effective foreign policy of any nation is to protect it's citizens rights of life and liberty within it's borders. When a nation tries to "defend it's interests" it leads to it's citizens having less security of life and liberty. A nations' interests can, and has, been interpeted to mean that a nation should inject itself into every other nations affairs, because every nation affects each other in some way.

A foreign policy should be idealogical. In my opinion, a libertarian idealogy. An idealogy that humans have rights to life and liberty. Humans have rights to produce, trade, and associate with others without the interference of others. Governments' attempts to control such interactions have been absolute failures. Resulting in many terrible consequences.

muhammad billy bob / September 9, 2010 7:33 PM

"IA/MI6 couldnt have toppled Mossadegh either if he werent abandened by large number of Iranians who picked ideology, religion or a shah over their democratically elected government."

The population had not choice in this matter. This is was CIA sponsored military coup that did not ask or involve the population. Only a number of generals who were bought and trained by the CIA.

"US/britain screwed many nations (e.g. Chile, India) yet those people somehow found their way instead of holding a mean grudge."

Even if we forget and forgive the 53 coup and destruction of Iranian future I do not recall Chile or India being subjected to an unjust 8 year war sponsored by the United States and her allies or over 30 years of sanctions and mistreatment because they toppled their unjust forms of government. This is not a grudge; this is reality on the ground today. People in Iran are suffering directly as result of present policies by the United States which willingly empowers the radicals in Iranians government at every turn, including sanctions and threats of war.

“Regarding Iran-Iraq war, yes US mostly took the side of Iraq. but so did (may be even more so)the French, soviets and Arabs. why not mention them?”

Any country other than the Soviets would have only acted by United States standards if not orders. Even today European and Arab countries only do as they are told by the United States. Russians on the other hand did not sanction Iran economically or continued their hostility toward Iran. It is naïve to think that western countries and arabs would have acted without direct American pressure and authority.

“Every country in the world uses foreign policy based on self-interest and aliances change when those interests change.”

That is very true. I believe that the American foreign policy has been in the hands the Military Industrial Complex for decades and they are more than happy to have modern nut jobs in charge in Iran so that they have an excuse to make and sell hundreds of billions of dollars worth weaponry to Arabs and others. War would be their perfect solution and their ultimate goal so that they can ensure Iranian hostility and hard line control for decades to come so that they do not have to worry about the pesky Greens and their desire for Peace (much less profitable).

Ali / September 9, 2010 9:44 PM

Ali,

The 53 Coup:

“Iran was a functioning democracy in 53 with a democratically elected parliament and prime minister.”
This is not quite true. In 1953 women still did not have the right to vote and non-Muslims were not allowed to hold office. Although the situation in 1953 could have formed the basis for a move toward a fully functioning democracy, we were simply not there yet. Had the coup not occurred, Mossadegh and the National Front would have had to institute some of the necessary reforms that formed the core of what later became known as the Shah’s White Revolution. Clearly any move towards women’s suffrage or extending the right to hold office to non-Muslims would have caused a severe backlash among the Shia Clergy. The likes of Khomeini would still be around and whoever was in office would have undoubtedly faced the choice of capitulation to the clerics or violent riots and most probably assassination attempts of the kind that the Fadayan-e Islam were known for. It does not seem inevitable to me that Mossadegh and the National Front would have survived these challenges. Please also note that I am not blaming the NF or Mossadegh for the imperfections of 1953. I am simply saying that it would have been a serious challenge for them to face down the clergy in order to carry out the necessary reforms, particularly since they had relied on them for political support earlier.

Iran-Iraq War:

“...you try to justify American and European behavior based on the Hostage crisis and Iranian revolutionary rhetoric which in no way can justify 8 years of brutal warfare sanctioned and financed by the west (Saudis bark as their American masters tell them to).”
I am not trying to justify anything. I am simply trying to explain why almost all of the countries that got involved in the war made the calculation that supporting Iraq against Iran would be in their national interest. As an Iranian I firmly place the blame on the Islamic Republic for exposing our country and our people to so much pain. They managed to turn a country that had the respect of much of the world into a Pariah State within a year or so of a revolution that to begin with had the goodwill of many around the globe. I also blame the Islamic Republic for prolonging the conflict.
“Also based on overwhelming facts some of which you present yourself you cannot possibly argue that the United States did not want Saddam to be the victor. The only reason Iraqi tanks did not reach Tehran or for that matter broke the siege of Ahvaz was the bravery of millions of Iranians most of whom died defending their country.”
The bravery of Iranians who fought in the war is undisputed. It is also clear that this bravery was the reason that the Iraqi offensive stalled and was reversed so quickly. Indeed from about mid-82 the Iraqis were on the defensive and this is why the US felt that it had to support the Iraqis as heavily as it did. Had the Iraqi offensive continued to be as successful as it was in the early stages of the conflict, I don’t think that the US would have offered the Iraqis any support. Indeed they would have been concerned that a decisive Iraqi victory would have turned Saddam’s Iraq into the undisputed leader of the Arab world, particularly since Egypt had forfeited that position following the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979. The Arab states to the south of the Persian Gulf would have aligned themselves closely with a victorious Saddam for security reasons and the result would have been unpalatable for the US. So whilst perhaps limited Iraqi gains would have been tolerable for the US, I don’t believe they would have accepted much more than that. I think it is conceivable that they would have started to give more support to Iran, in the form of intelligence and arms sales, had they felt that she needed it to avoid a huge defeat.

Cy / September 9, 2010 11:16 PM

Cy
September 9, 2010 11:16 PM
great post.


Ali,
It appears we both agree that countries act in their self-interest and not on morality.

It is not a surprize that sunni Arab leaders would put their support behind Sunni Arab Iraq and not Shiaa Persian Iran. what else would you expect? why would US even need to twist their arms to do so? I disagree that they were mere ' barking dogs of the US'. their leaders have a symbionic relationship with the US, that's all. it is a co-dependance, not master-slave that you believe. They simply act in self-interest, like every one else.


Also, it is not surprizing that US did not want iran to win. After khoramshahr Iran was on the offensive ("liberate Ghods thru karbala!!!") and had it taken basra, Iraq would have fallen (Iran got too close by taking Faw, and that is when US stepped it up a few notches--again an act that was fully predictable and logical).

and lets not forget that Iran had attacked their embassy, technically US soil, a clear act of aggression, as Ay. Montazeri said in 2009. a horrible offense,
And as a result we suffered sanctions (lucky they didnt bomb us into oblivion!!!);
Again you can blame the America for only so much. what is an American at home, after pulling a 9 to 5 shift, going to support when he sees his flag burned and their embassy staff paraded in blindfolds, and frantic crowds shouting "death to [him]"?
The US support for Iraq, or rather against Iran, was completely predictable, and hardliner's fault.


For every one else, the war was a bonanza. german companies sold Saddam material for his chem weapons. Soviets, checs, Poles sold him tanks and planes, Arabs gave him billions, French sold him planes. even canada got into it. once again predictable.


The people first and foremost responsible for our suffering are Saddam and his cronies for attacking Iran and Iran's hardliners who chose to prolong it and as a result sent thousands of brave but underequiped, poorly trained young Iranians to their death.

RE " I believe that the American foreign policy has been in the hands the Military Industrial Complex for decades and they are more than happy to have modern nut jobs in charge in Iran so that they have an excuse to make and sell hundreds of billions of dollars worth weaponry to Arabs and others."

yes, there are elements in the US with exactly that mindset and purpose. But US FP decision makers are not uniform or constant. You can not generalize like that.
That is a daiijan napelon view of the world, hardly realistic.

finally,
I encourage you to read carter's advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's accounts of carter admin's approach to Iran in the aftermath of the revolution.
...and Trita Parsi's Treacherous alliance.

ahvaz / September 10, 2010 4:07 AM

Dear Cy

..." I am not trying to justify anything. I am simply trying to explain why almost all of the countries that got involved in the war made the calculation that supporting Iraq against Iran would be in their national interest. As an Iranian I firmly place the blame on the Islamic Republic for exposing our country and our people to so much pain. They managed to turn a country that had the respect of much of the world into a Pariah State within a year or so of a revolution that to begin with had the goodwill of many around the globe.""...


please keep in mind when Saddam attacked literally in Iran's surprise, he was under the illusion that Iran lacks a powerful central government and an organized army because of all the high ranking officers were either executed or had fled the country; he used a "Pan Arabism" motivation and called the war "Ghadesiye" referring to the victorious battle of Arabs defeating Yazdgerd, claiming to capture Tehran in 48 hours and to liberate "Khuzestan" ; to complete on, Iran at that time was still involved in domestic post-revolution affairs and some sort of a power struggle between different parties (Khalkhali, Beheshti, Bazargan, Bani Sadr, Tudeh, MKO and others) exactly it was because of the war that "Hezb Allahi"s found an perfect excuse and cracked down on other parties, controlled teh press and the country was on track on suppression, and made them hostile towards others.

..""I also blame the Islamic Republic for prolonging the conflict.""...
you need alot of clarified evidence for that, it might be true it might not


just for the record, i dear friend of my father was head of police force in Abadan when Iraq attacked, i wish you could hear what he has to say, it was ONLY because of the bravery of small police units, Gendarmerie with small chieftain tanks, small units of the army and most of all the brave local men and women who stopped the Iraqi war machine, just miles inside Iran, the first reinforcement troops arrived no earlier than two weeks (they were not organised and lacked leadership, that's khoramshahr was lost and Abadan was sieged..been there? khoramshahr and Abadan are literally the border down there)

you said you're 20? so you might not even been born till the war had ended, but don't let your disgrace of the current leaders make you question and doubt the facts that ordinary Iranians defended their land with their blood, and foreign powers were just sucking on their thumbs especially in the UN SC at that time, far worst when Saddam had the green light from US (after Rumsfeld infamous meeting with Saddam) to drop chemicals on Iranian troops UN SC turned a blind eye,


the Revolution was only a year old and everyone one, EVERYONE believed in it, it was after the start of the war when suppressing people under the shadow of national security started, as it will worse this time if Iran is to be attacked


thanks Ali, i had seen those statistics of the Iranian and Iraqi armies before, but Cy ask yourself how is it possible that in 8 years Iraq's army had increased in size? Iraq renewed her air force three times during 8 years of war while Iran was loosing her fleet she was not even capable to service them had to buy parts double and triple the price from other countries and US herself, hopefully now the Iraqi fleet is in Iran..anyhow

as I've been saying on previous articles as much as i disagree with IR, I still find it unfair to judge while all of us lack enough documents to prove who's guilty of what; that is only possible when a democratic (secular or what ever) is in power and an independent Judaical system starts their investigations and clarify all the issues

Alal / September 10, 2010 4:46 AM

Pouya,

> Wester[n] diplomats [...] never once have said, specifically, "Iran has a right to enrich uranium"
Actually this is not even vaguely accurate. It is recognised in the NPT and the Iranian Safeguards Agreement of 1974, and was specifically reiterated in 2003 by the EU3:
http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/IaeaIran/statement_iran21102003.shtml
However, Iran has repeatedly been caught breaking its Safeguards Agreement and even the NPT proper, but always tells people it's done nothing wrong. How can a state have rights under a treaty if it doesn't live up to its obligations under that treaty? And what can other countries do about it, except make demands that it live up to those obligations or lose its privileges?


> don't forget that there is a third group that has independent
> indigenous nuclear programme-The superpowers.
The NPT nuclear weapon states are not "independent" in any real sense, since they have all voluntarily submitted to the NPT and a Safeguards Agreement, as well as the Additional Protocol. In fact Eisenhower wanted the IAEA actually to control all nuclear material because of the dreadful danger of nuclear proliferation and war, and the IAEA Statute in fact allows for this eventual possibility. Who is behaving irresponsibly with nuclear technology?

Ian / September 10, 2010 8:26 AM

Ali, ALal, and others

It is not often you can find the true colors of a writer, but it eventually presents itself. Particularly, one that is as hot tempered as Sahimi.

I like to focus on his comments to M. Billy Bob. Notice he brushes aside everything that is decent and humane and embrases a blind version of history that is nothing less than an Israeli lobbied State Department ME policy.

Consider the following:
1-He brushes aside any criticism of Israel under the umbrella of "why are we more palestinian than palestinians." On the surface this appears a reasonable position. However, it is an attempt to say we should not be in the way of Israeli policies. That's the kind of policy that suites the State Department just fine. Ironically, this is exactly the rhetoric you have heard on Persian language Voice of Israel for 20 years. It is not original nor is it a one year old Green policy. But he is also careful to throw a bone to the Palestinians so as to keep some sense of dignity. Just as he does with his opposition to war with Iran.

2-He characterizes US policy in the ME as "pragmatic." He contends that the policy of supporting Israel for 60 years while arming the Arabs to the teeth to have been reasonable. Do I need to remind people that this policy also saw the 1953 coup, the installment of the Shah regime during the same period. More astonishing, he also appears to have no problems with US support of Saddam Husein during the war. He brushes it all away by saying "the US supported Iraq for two reasons: (1) To prevent Iran from winning, and (2) to help prolong the war so that both nations will bleed." He conviniently ignores the Western transfer of Chemical weapons to Saddam which killed over 150000 Iranians. And he dubbs that "practical." To him those losses and deaths were obviously explainable and acceptable. If this by itself does not show everyone that he truely does not see the killing of Iranians as acceptable to achieve a greater goal, I don't know what will. The goals justify the means.

3-He dubbs the disasterous US foreign policy on ME over the past 60 years, as "pragmatic." That includes US support for dictatorial regime including the Saudi family. Need I remind the public that "pragmatic" foreign policy saw the Saddam emboldened to attack Kuwait. Lebanon occupied by Israel as she committed mass genecide and Ronald Reagan publically said "we support the State of Israel" in the aftermath of the atrocities. Do we have to be reminded of the occupation of Afganistan, Iraq, the savage bombardement of Lebanon and Gaza, the expansion of war into Pakistan and Yemen. Sahimi is capable of ignoring that each of those conflicts and dictatorial regimes the US has supported cost thousands of lives, if not millions by now. Only 600000 people are estimated to have died in Iraq alone. Yet, he coolly, calmly, and calculatingly calls it all "pragmatic."

It is particularly important to see his sick point of view because this is a man that characterizes Ahmadinejad's few ill-conceived words as "aggressive and adventuristic."

3-In his article, he advances the idea that "Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear energy," but he renegs on the idea that Iran has the right to enrich uranium, even in his response to me. To do that they forward this ridiculous notion that Iran's nuclear rights should not be of greater value than her other rights. That begs the question, which other basic Iranian right is up for compromise. The answer is NONE. Then, if no Iranian rights are to be compromised, why then consider to even compromise Iran's nuclear rights when it is of equal value to all others. Because that is the trap that conviniences the State Department too.

The fact of the matter is that the US foreign policy is not reflective of American values, or the American people and our constitution, particularly the first amendment. It does matter that we control American "aggression and adventurism," because it directly affects the size of our deficit, the resources that it drains from all other responsibilites, and most importantly the lives that are lost for lost causes. Carter's National Security Advisor, Mr. Breczenski, recently said "we have a colonialist foreign policy in a post-colonialist era." He concluded that as vast as the American empire has been, indeed it will be short lived as compared to all other great empires. We need to take these issues head on, and recognize imposturs masquerating as anti-war journalists, because all of it directly affects our lives as Americans.

I can only imagine, as the bombs are falling on Iran, and as we all are hopelessly watching it on CNN, Sahimi is packing his bags as he would have already concluded the bombing to have been necessary and "pragmatic."

Pouya / September 10, 2010 10:14 AM

I would like to announce to people that I will be forming a blog of my own. I am sick of reading these warmongers. All of you who have a balanced view of events, even if you are Green like Ali, will be allowed to submit articles. What will be different about it is that the average Joe will write articles. And the closet warmongers like Sahimi will be reduced to leave comments.

I think it will be a powerful site as it empowers the general public as authors. I have already contacted my webdesigner and we'll put it together in a few months.

pouya / September 10, 2010 10:24 AM

Have just read an interview of Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani by "Foreign Policy". One paragraph stood out as relevant to Dr. Sahimi's article here:

"Didn't the people of Iraq join with foreigners who attacked their country in order to free themselves from injustice and to save themselves and their country? Was this their initial demand, or did their deteriorating conditions lead them to this? It won't be a bad idea to review history from time to time. How long must this situation, which is shameful to every Iranian, continue?"

Ian / September 10, 2010 12:53 PM

"closet warmongers like Sahimi"

I have criticism for the professor's positions and attitudes, but I do not see him as a "closet warmonger". Where did that come from? I see him more as a "war hater" than a "warmonger". Let's be fair to him as well as being truthful.

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

Rational / September 10, 2010 8:26 PM

Pouya:

You skewed things, read it in the context of your dogma, and then attack people like me. Do it, if that allows you to blow some steam off your chest, and get over your frustration. Your rants about me, the US and Israel are not worth responding to. Anyone can read what I said and compare it with your skewed interpretations.

But, as they say in Iran: Baraaye tanvir-e afkaar-e omoomi

Sahimi, a warmonger? That is hilarious. Ramazan ended yesterday, and God gave me the "towfigh" to fast the entire 30 days. Otherwise, I would have thanked you for making me laugh deep and long on a fasting day!

More seriously, I suggest you check my one hour radio interview of yesterday with KPFK radio with Scott Horton of antiwar radio and website. I suggest you go to antiwar.com to read my articles there. I suggest you read my last two articles on Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/muhammad-sahimi/call-to-burn-the-quran-an_b_708566.html

about call to Quran burning, and

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/muhammad-sahimi/the-audacity-of-hoax-obam_b_621876.html

about Obama and the Islamic world, as well as my last article on antiwar.com

http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2010/09/06/obama-follows-bush-on-iran/

about the differences between Obama and Bush on Iran.

You remind me of an interrogator in Evin prison. In summer of 2007, a close friend was arrested and held in solidarity confinement for 125 days. According to him, the interrogator told him, "Yes, this Sahimi friend of yours is antiwar [note how even that idiot recognized that, but not you!], but he does not believe in velaayat-e motlagheh faghih in Los Angeles [the idiot recognized that also]!"

Yes, my sin here is I do not believe in your dogma!

You starting your own website? Congratulations. But, do not hold your breadth. I won't be coming there. So, you can use it to attack people like me!

As a good friend associated with TB told me, "those who get mad at you are in two groups, monarchists and supporters of Ahmadinejad. They are mad because you get to air out your opinion through a credible website." She got it exactly right.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 10, 2010 9:01 PM

Pouya,

Your latests post are full of misrepresentations, and to be honest, outright lies.

You rightfully point out the disaters of U.S. foreign intervention. Yet, you seem to advocate foreign intervention by the Iranian government. What makes you think the Iranian governments foreign interventions would be more successful than the U.S.'s?

You then go on to cite several misleading and partial facts to suit your idealogy.

1)Your statement that Iraq killed over 150,000 Iranians by chemical weapons by "western transfer". Firstly, where'd you get this number of 150,000 killed by chemical weapons? Secondly, how many Iraqi's did the Iranians kill by any means? Alot more than 150,000 I imagine. Thirdly, what evidence of transfer of chemical weapons from a western nation to refer to? No nation transferred chemical weapons to Iraq. You are being misleading. Some western companies sold some compontents that can be used to make chemical weapons, as well as many other things, to Iraq. But that is nowhere near "tranferring" chemical weapons.

2)The "expansion of war into Pakistan and Yemen." "war" already existed in Pakistan well before U.S. involvement. Harldly an expansion of war. And Yemen? Is there a war in Yemen? That's news. You should report some of the conflicts of this war in Yemen.

3)Your hyperbole regarding Israel is astoundingly misleading.You write of "mass genecide", and "savage bombardment". You neglect to mention the "savage" bombings and rockets attacks of Gazans and Lebonese on Israel. You fail to mention the Palestians using their own childern as human bombs.

4)"only 600,000 people are estimated to have died in Iraq alone." Estimated by whom? How was this estimate accumulated? During which period? How did they die? By natural means or as a result of U.S. intervention? Were they combatants or civilians????

In conclusion, you seem to have the opinion that everything that the U.S. does is bad. Everything that Israel does is bad. And everything that muslim nations do are good. And everything Palestinians do is good.

People are not that simplistic. Open your eyes to the realities. "the good guys" are not always right. And "the bad guys" are not always wrong.

muhammad billy bob / September 10, 2010 9:30 PM

"I would like to announce to people that I will be forming a blog of my own"

wow... cant wait!!!!

Ahvaz / September 10, 2010 9:37 PM

Alal,

It would indeed be amazing to speak to your father's friend about his experiences. One of my classmates lost his father early in the war. My cousin was involved in it early as well, in a tank unit. he survived, though he suffered nightmares frequently after active duty.

He said that for weeks before the war, they could see Iraqis build up forces at the border and they would radio it in, screaming that they were about to be attacked, but no one did any thing about it. I assume the chain of command was in chaos after purges and defections.


From what I understand aside from the bravery of locals and small army units, the airforce played a central role in repelling the Iraqis. They devestated the Iraqi tanks in the first few months of the war. Some pilots were even taken out of prison to go fight, and they did.

The other factors were that Iraqi army was for the most part pretty awful, too slow and incompetent.
Saddam also made a miscalculation that Iranian Arabs of Abadan and Ahvaz would join him. Only to watch them fight bravely for Iran (how is that for national identity ;)

ahvaz / September 10, 2010 9:56 PM

Pouya: "...I will be forming a blog of my own... All of you who have a balanced view of events, EVEN IF YOU ARE GREEN like Ali, will be ALLOWED to submit articles. What will be different about it is that the average Joe will write articles. And the closet warmongers like Sahimi will be reduced to leave comments."

The point is that the readership of even those who are "reduced to leaving comments" on one of Dr Sahimi's articles will be a number of orders of magnitude greater than the readership of any of the original articles submitted by the average joes on your blog. I don't think your offer of censoring the articles as you see fit, tantalizing as it is, is going to change that.

Cy / September 10, 2010 11:13 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

KPFK is by far my favorite station and I was quite surprised and pleased to hear you voice yesterday, for the first time ever, on the way back from work. Only if we had more intelligent activists like Scott Horton the United States would be in much better place.
I actually had the first question and for some reason they introduced me as Eli (Probably my bad cell connection) “How do sanctions and threat of war help or hurt the Green Movement?” I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your detailed and on point answer.


Cy,

Grand Bargain Proposal:

First off, you cannot limit Khatami’s 8 years of outreach to the 2003 proposal. He tried repeatedly in his 8 years in office to reach out for peace not only with United States but with all countries around the world. He specifically apologized for the hostage crisis, stopped all material support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and did not allow the nuclear program to be diverted for weaponization. He even directed the Iranian intelligent and state departments to help with the invasion of Afghanistan and allowed for American fly overs. What did he get in return? More sanctions, accusations of terrorism and finally branded as the Axis of Evil which was the last draw and put Iran directly at the cross hairs of a military attack. It was only then the Khamenei completely shifted his support to the more hardline elements and IRGC in particular to prepare Iran for an eventual attack. The United States basically pulled the chair from under the reformists’ government and showed the hardliners that no matter what Iran does it will be unjustly targeted as the eternal enemy of the United States. It was only then that the hard line government and their cheerleader mr. Ahmadinejad came to power which was quite desired and the perfect scenario for the neo cons in the States.

What we need to realize that as long as there are Sanctions and threats in place no sane government can and should negotiate to accept the status quo. The United States’ demands from Iran are intangible and it is left to the States to decide whether Iran has complied or not which never is the case regardless of Iranian actions on the ground since both Likud and their ne con allies in the United States would rather have a hardline enemy (either pretend or real) so they have an excuse for their own inhuman actions and hold to power. So as I mentioned above even when Khatami stopped all material support for Hamas and Hezbollah and all Iranian covert activities outside of Iran, in addition to his apology and outreached hand for peace, he was rebuffed since the States did not intentionally verify that its own intangible demands were being met. It is quite hard to prove the negative if you get what I mean.

Finally, specifically with regards to the grand bargain proposal; considering the fact there was so much put on the table it is only natural that not all elements in the power structure would have agreed without knowing the American response which ended up being an insult to say the least. In fact if Americans had agreed, considering the geo political factors at the time (specially the quick American victory in Iraq), the majority of the power structure, including IRGC and khamenei, would have agreed to comprehensive peace negotiations.

It was after the public rebuke of the offer that the power elements and specially Khamenei realized that the United States is not interested in negotiations or peace and it enforced their view that only a strong military and a hard line in all contested areas would counter United States’ direct hostility towards Iran.

Let me make this one thing clear; the democratic movement will only have room to bread when threat of war and broad sanctions (mainly hurting the middle class) are taken off the table. Until then the hardliners have every excuse to unjustly suppress, torture and murder their democratic opponents as elements of an enemy who has proven over and over again its intentions against Iran.


With regards to the 53 government:

At that time in history blacks in south could not vote either, that democratic government had just take shape in Iran so it quite unjust to use the women’s right to vote as an excuse to discredit one of the, if not the most, honest and honorable governments in Iranians history. If CIA and the British had allowed Dr. Mossadegh to stay in power, considering his government’s progressive views, I would imagine the right to vote would have been granted to women much earlier that under the Shah. Dealing with clerics and religion is an issue that we cannot judge them on since they were not given the opportunity to continue their just rule.

Also, do not forget that Shah was grateful to the clerics and Islamists for opposing Mossadegh and he gave them a free rain after return to power while he slaughtered the Nationalists and Tudeh. That is mainly why the Religious faction became the most powerful element in the 79 revolution.


Iran-Iraq war:

Ahvaz jan, please read my previous comments, NO country in the west or the Arab would have acted without American pressure and authority. You cannot possibly try and justify so much pain; misery and death because of the embassy take over (which Iranian government resigned in response to) and flag burnings or empty rhetoric. Also regardless of whose fault it was (hard liners) the un proportionate response cannot be rationalized which in fact empowered to same element who were at fault. The Military Industrial Complex’s complete take over of United States FP has been obvious based on countless military adventures since WWII which were conducted regardless of who was running the state department. I sense that you love this country and I do too, that would naturally push you towards defending its actions but this is the reality of our world today and sooner we can come to terms with the sooner we can start standing up to improve it.

Dear Cy, would haves and could haves do not make history, facts do. We don’t know and cannot predict whether United States would have stopped Iraq (how?) if they were really going reach Tehran in 48 hours.


Bottom line: the actions that have taken and the actual lives that have lost and the misery that has been caused. The ONLY way out (Peace) is for the United States to really try and talk to Iran (and not pretend) about all issues on the table including human rights, stop all economical sanctions (to empower the middle class), and to take the threat of war off the table (to take away the hard liner’s trump card).

Thank you,

Ali / September 10, 2010 11:26 PM

sorry, I should have said Iranian Arabs of Khuzestan/Iran, instead of naming just 2 cities.

Anonymous / September 11, 2010 12:09 AM

Ali,

I think we've covered enough ground already and I am sensing that we might end up going in circles on some of the issues that we've debated so far. So I'm sure you won't mind if I don't provide a
a detailed response to your latest post. I will like to touch on one point however:

"...it quite unjust to use the women’s right to vote as an excuse to discredit one of the, if not the most, honest and honorable governments in Iranians history."

You seem to have a talent for misreading my comments. In no way did I mean to discredit Mossadegh's government. In fact, I went out of my way to make it explicit that he and the NF were not to blame for the absence of women's suffrage in 1953. I only intended to show that Iran still faced serious internal obstacles on its path to acheiving full democracy. Of course this does not justify the coup, but we should see things as they really were. In order to achieve democracy in Iran we must recognise all of the forces that oppose it. That means internal forces as well.

It's been interesting debating with you.

Ahvaz,

Thanks for the support. I enjoyed reading your posts too. I think considering that it is very difficult to have an open debate on the nuclear crisis in Iran today and what a potential political minefield it can be, I've come to agree with your earlier advice to the Green Movement:

"In my humble opinion, Moussavi (greens)should continue staying completely out of the whole nuclear issue mess, as it would be a lose-lose situation for him. Instead focus should continue to be on human rights, women's rights, prisoners rights, minorities rights , children's rights, religous rights, respect of the current constitution (e.g. right to peaceful assembly) and other incremental steps with the sight on fair and free elections and eventual modification of the constitution (i.e. dropping the 'Islamic' part from 'Islamic republic of Iran')."

Ahvaz / September 8, 2010 4:53 AM

Cy / September 11, 2010 7:30 AM

M. Billy Bob

Thanks for the engagement.
"You rightfully point out the disaters of U.S. foreign intervention," well, you are saying the same thing as I said, but you miss my point. My point was not simply a judgement on US policy, although I make no apologies that I believe US policy is absolutely wrong, by I am pointing to the dublicity of Sahimi. Even you point out the US intervention was disasterous, those are your words, but Sahimi says that's "pragmatic." Had he said these wars were aggressive or reckless, perhaps I could buy into his characterization of Iran's empty, and at occasions repugnant rhetoric. My point is his duplicity. There is a rational in this duplicity, he is attempting convince us that Iran deserves to be occupied, because of what its leaders do or say. That's his intellectual drive, even though he hides it.

Yes, I believe US foreign policy does not reflect American values. Most Americans support the war for 2 basic reasons: security, and the fact that we believe we are doing good. That means most people want to support a good cause, that's why Bush kept shifting his rational to Democratization to maintain support for the wars. I don't believe our policies reflect those sentiments.

Iran itself has said 150000 died due to chemical weapons. Whoelse can say that? The UN has reported on chemical weapons material and knowhow transfer to Iraq. It's old info. Ofcourse, it's not news here, but Iran publishes the number of dead every year as survivors die out. Sahimi knows this, his silence is only proof of his duplicity.

Just Google the war in Yemen and US engagement. Are we not involved in Somalia? Go to HuffingtonPost. Go to CNN. It's six month old news.

On Israel, again, the point was Sahimi's duplicity. He finds a few words by Iran intolerable, but is dismissive of Israel's actions. Essentially suggests, what do we care?The point is not Israel itself. I have previously expanded on this in a piece Meir Javedanfar wrote on PBS.org, and you can see it, I believe the idea of Israel's removal is repugnant as it leads to another human disaster. But I am going to be honest with you, I do not see inacurrate home made missiles to be equivalent to 500 pound bombs laser guided weapons. Yes, that is a human catastrophe. I have not said any Israeli deserves to die. To the contrary. Gen. Sharon's actions in lebanon, in the 80's, are well documented. Again, I would look that up.

The 600000 died after the invasion and occupation of Iraq according to news reports (NY times) and UN report who said from the high 600000 to the most concervative number of 150000.

The point of my writing was that Sahimi, for someone who proclaims to be anti-war, gives lip service to these events and calls them "pragmatic." Billy Bob, let's be frank, which country can you name Iran invaded? I am contrasting a policy of aggression for at least 30 years which has seen the occupation of two nations, being called pragmatic by Sahimi. This is clearly Sahimi's duplicity. No anti-war writer agrees with him that we should be dismissive of these events, just as you are not when you characterized it disasterous.

I am very much opposed to all of it. I don't have to sell this stuff. The debt, the national economic crisis, our declining education system to which my child has to go through, sell my points by itself. In a wealthy nation where we should have enough money to care for the elderly, we are looking at cutting their benefits from every angel. College tuitions are sky high because states are cutting funds. Student loans are crippling students. These events are all connected. The total defense budget for the wars and pentagon's budget is about 1 trillion. That does not count the budget of home land security, $300 billion, FBI and CIA (there are estimates of up to $200 billion).

I see far more balance and intellectual honesty in your comments than Sahimi's, despite the fact that you don't agree with me. His entire point is to convince us that occupations are ok as they are pragmatic, and he paves the way by chiping at Iran in anyway he can. Is that not the way we got into Iraq? Did we not demonize Iraq? That's what he is doing.

pouya / September 11, 2010 9:05 AM

Ali

Don't forget that Khatami publicly, and on CNN, apologized for the hostage taking. Prior to him, Rafsanjani was diplomatic and said "it was a mistake."
Reagon said, because of the hostage taking we supported Saddam. So, do we have to justify more ill actions for the hostage taking that occurred more than 30 years ago?

Pouya / September 11, 2010 9:22 AM

Sahimi

every reader on this website knows you are the one who attacks his readers at the slightest disagreement. And people have called you on it on multiple times. I did not get mad at you, I pointed to your duplicity. I did not even address you. So, don't congradulate yourself.

Pouya / September 11, 2010 9:30 AM

Pouya:

First of all, do not speak on behalf of "every reader on this site," or, "antiwar activist." You represent none, as no one gave you the mission. Just speak for yourself.

Regarding me attacking others: I post articles. People either like it or dislike it. Those who dislike it criticize the articles and me. The monarchists, with the exception of NP, attack me, calling me all sorts of names. Then, I respond. Why is it that their is criticisms, but mine is attacks? And if I do not respond, I am attacked again for either arrogance, or because I do not have an answer!

You have always tried to present yourself as a reasonable supporter of Ahmadinejad. You are not, because there is no such thing.

This is the last time I respond to you. From now on feel free to accuse me of everything, here or in your own blog that you are setting up in order to drain the readers of this website!

Muhammad Sahimi / September 11, 2010 8:49 PM

Wow! This is very telling (and sad) of the attitude of the author towards those who do not agree with him and do not accept the recycled ideas and trash of 70's and 80's; they must be "monarchists and supporters of Ahmadinejad", or else they would bow to author's views.

Well, the latter (ahmadi) is in charge today, and the former (monarch) was displaced by none but the intellects of author's generation with what we see today as a result. I doubt if the same generation who brought us the islamic republic and the absolute Velayat-e-Faghih has any better ideas but for the recycled Mouse of the glorious days of the islamic republic when mass murders, oppression, and suffocation of a whole country and denial of non-political freedoms that "monarchy" provided were the norm and busy taking deep roots.

What a narrow span of mind to assume that in a country of 70 millions there is none but the little old Mouse to lead people into a new islamic abyss or else you are "monarchists and supporters of Ahmadinejad"; no wonder we are where we are.

Rational / September 11, 2010 10:03 PM

ijan,

first, I dont love America any more than you do and I do not love Iran any less.


My attempts at self-reflection on Iran as a nation are taken by you as "defending America". Understandable, again as self-reflection is always more difficult than blaming it all on a cartoonish 8-legged US octapus.


We have a saying in Iran: 'Khalayegh har cheh layegh'.

Shakespeare wrote: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

We can start by listening to others' opinions instead of labeling our fellow Iraninans with different points of view as "ignorant western viewed".

and we can start by asking what we Iranians ourselves did wrong to get here. It is the only way we can move forward.


lets talk about US_iran relationship after the revolution. True, US was an avid supporter of the Shah, and supported and pay rolled the coup.
But Let's not ignore the fact that carter, kennedy and others also pushed shah to respect human rights. It doesnt make up for the coup, but It's recorded history, whether we believe it or not.


immediately after the revolution (at the time US was in the middle of a cold war), carter admin was hoping to have somehwhat good relations with post-rev iran (read carter's adviser's memoirs).

Bazargan too was travelling the world building relations with other nations, including the US.

It was precisely this attemt of bazargan: to have normal relations with the US that lead to the hardiners attack on the embassy "the den of spies" as they called it.

----Make no mistake, the attack on embassy was nothing more than hardliners torpedoing bazargans (Iran) relations with the the US.

they, in their warped anti-west fundamentalist minds did not understand that they were pushing a major superpower into the arms of Iran's border enemy and that they may need spare parts to US built weapons some day. A huge blunder of arrogance, not unexpected from relig. fanatics
that lead to so much pain and suffereing.

similarly, future attempts by Khatami were torpedoed constantly by the hardliners. as dr Sahimi has written, the hardliners created a crisis every 9 days.

The US has hardliners too. Bush, a religous fanatic who stole the elections in 2000 (sound familiar?) , now a despised and disgraced president called Iran axis of evil, which as you said correctly, tipped the balance back to the hardliners (Ahmadinejad, IRCG and others).

Obama on the other hand extended his hand to Iran, even went as far as writing letters to Khamanai, only to be rebuked by fundamentalists in Iran.

He has been torpedoed by US hardliners as well, "as Muslim president" going on "surrender tours" and other Koran burning fanatics.

So my point is this:
US, like Iran is not uniform. it has moderates and hardliners. hardliners in US reinforce the hardliners in Iran and vice versa. (as you said) they are 2 sides of the same coin.

You can not put the US hardliners (neocons etc) and US moderates in the same boat, any more than you can put Iran hardliners and moderates in the same boat.

That would be unproductive.


finally,

There is no question that US corporations are running amock, pulling the levers of power.
No question defence contractors prefer conflict, But defence is only part of the US GDP.

For every weapons manufacturing lobby there are dozens of companies with deep pockets, from gas oil and communication to auto and farming to soda and fast food that would LOVE to do business in Iran and would prefer normalizing relations. Their corporate donations are just as tasty as as def. contractors.


Again you can not see the US in the same cartoonish 'puppet of weapons manufacturing companies' that our parents see.

It is not that simple.
It is not that unifrom.


regarding your bottom line:

"The ONLY way out (Peace) is for the United States to really try and talk to Iran (and not pretend) about all issues on the table including human rights, stop all economical sanctions (to empower the middle class), and to take the threat of war off the table (to take away the hard liner’s trump card). "

I agree, except I do not have that much faith in Iran's hardliners.
Just like the American fundamentalists and hardliners, Iran's hardliners cherish the conflict and will torpedo any attempts at peace, as they have for 31 yrs. Just look at what is happening with the 3rd american they were gonna release this week! torpedo after torpedo.

So I agree with what you are saying, I just dont know how it can be done with Khamanai and IRCG in absolute control. in the meantime, with their bullheaded push for nuclear tech, they are exposing Iran to military attack. All very frightening.
would love to hear your thoughts.

Ahvaz

Ahvaz / September 11, 2010 11:07 PM

Prof Sahimi,

I was not planning on weighing in on this one because I would be repeating myself and our q&a seems to have reached a standstill (I still think the ball is in your court! ; ) However, I had to chime in to say: since when did I become a "monarchist"? Have you been drinking loony Ali from Omaha's cool aid? Just because that frustrated little guy calls me names, you don't have to! Didn't I say over and over I support free elections and don't care what the result is (const monarchy, simple parliament, other)? And just because I have said the idea of constitutional monarchy is not anathema to me like it is to you, does that make me a "monarchist" in the sense you mean? I don't view myself in that camp and think the label is unfair (and frankly beneath you to hurl at me), because I know by monarchist you refer to those aged, old die-hard Shah supporters who can't even utter the slightest word in opposition to him. That is not me, as you know. I have no problem recognizing the Shah's faults. I also don't believe in "dropping" RP back into Iran. Why I still have to explain this, I don't know.

Anyway, would love to hear your responses on how to address MANY people's "do-deli" about Mousavi et al -- believe me, if you were able to bridge the gap, rather than being seen as a Mousavi apologist with no objectivity, you would do a huge service. Your expert rapport might be with like-minded revolutionaries like yourself, your age, your vintage, but my network of contacts is a whole different crew. Through various forms of new media, and contacts with family and friends aged 35 or younger IN IRAN, I am more than confident that you are not feeling the perspective of a significant group of people who simply don't share your love of Mousavi, et al, and can't stand the idea of an "Islamic Republic" -- which is what Khatami and others still, to this day, vouch for. You totally miss this group of people by focusing solely on your milieu. These youngsters would get so much from someone like you, if you can simply be more straightforward about the IR, Khomeini, etc., and condemn Mousavi e al's repeated references to same, while simultaneously reminding everyone that pragmatism doesn't allow a politician in these times to openly run on a platform of anti-Khomeini/anti-IR. Give people credit - they understand what pragmatism calls for, but they have every right to abhor any ties to the IR, Islamic gov't, Mousavi and all the cohorts responsible for the revolution. That does not make them monarchists - so open yourself up to a new group, that is neither "monarchist" nor "pro-Mousavi" nor "pro-Ahmadinejad". That is the future.

And finally I am absolutely incredulous that Pouya called you a warmonger and a mouthpiece for Israel - so ridiculous that it is barely worth a response. That guy lost all credibility with me, that's for sure.

np / September 11, 2010 11:11 PM

Dr. Sahimi,
re: Muhammad Sahimi / September 11, 2010 8:49 PM

great response.
There is absolutely no need for you to respond to any more of Pouya's childish shrieks.

It is a free country and he is free to start a new website and say any thing he wants, yet he has the gull to support ahmadinejad, and a system that doesn not give that right to its own citizens.
Good riddance.

Ahvaz / September 11, 2010 11:20 PM

Pouya,

Thanks again for your response.

Your reaction to Dr. Sahimi's article is like jumping from step 1 to step 500. Pragmatism is not an invitation to war. It is an idealogy I do not agree with. But it is an extreme over-exageration to say that pragmatism is warmongering and in no way suggests that "Iran should be occupied."

What intrests me most is your stance on Iranian foreign intervention. You write "Which country has Iran invaded?" I'll give you that Kurdistan is not a country. Still,the Iranian governments' financial, and militarly technical support of Hezbollah, Gazans,Shi'ites in Iraq, and some anti-government forces in Afganistan, may not be an invasion. But it certainly is an effort assert it's power over these regions. An effort to control the outcome and be in a position of power if their sponore

es were to win. As I wrote the similar policies of the U.S. governments have been distarious. Yet you advocate the Iranian government to follow similar policies. The Iranian and U.S. governments would be wise to not interject thereselves into foreign countries. The best way to assure that others will attack you is to interfere in their wars.

Then, there is your over-exagerations of U.S. involvements in the Mid East. This is a typical reaction of idealogs who favor one "side" over another. Another typical reaction is to exaggerate casualities. Which you have. Do you trust the IR's assment of those killed by chemical weapons? I do not. I have no idea how they came by these numbers. And they certainly have shown a history and desire to exaggerate such numbers. Again I ask how did they come by such numbers. Show me the scientific research. Exactly the same with your claims of 600,000 killed in Iraq, and "genecide" in Lebanon. All are extremely non-scientific numbers, created by those with an agenda out of whole-cloth.

The last thing that drew my attention was your comment that "I do not see inaccurate home made missles to be equivalent to 500 pound laser guided weapons." You are right they are not equivalent. A laser guided bomb is used to target specific combatants, whereas home made missles are used to attack non-combatants and to generate fear among non-combatants to force them to surrender to such actions. It is war. To take a "side" is to interject oneself into that war. Which is your right. But, do not involve others in that. Take your fortune and life and risk them for that cause. Do not force others to risks their lives and fortunes for your cause.

muhammad billy bob / September 12, 2010 12:00 AM

Rational:

I do not usually respond to comments such as your, because most of the time it is pointless. But, because you refer to yourself as Rational, I do respond.

Your comment is totally irrational for three reasons:

1. You probably did not read what I said carefully. I said ATTACKING ME, not CRITICIZING ME. The first is irrational unethical, personal, and useless. The second is welcome, at least by me, constructive, and what we need most.

When someone calls me warmonger, simply because he has picked on a single word - pragmatism - without realizing what I meant which was abundantly clear - or, more likely, by ignoring it just so that he can stage his long-awaited attack - that is personal attack, not criticism.

I did not say a humane, or moral, or progressive, or liberal, or leftist, or rational policy, but pragmatic, and I made it clear what I meant: In this context it meant making a pact with the devil, if necessary, if that advances your interest. Support murderers and dictatorships, if that advances your interests. Stage coups, if that advances your interests.

Then, calling me Sahimi - as if my doctorate degree had been awarded by that character and he had done so because I was agreeing with him, and now that I am a "warmonger" he is going to take that away from me - is absurd, to put it extremely politely - not that I care; just pointing out the type of behavior one sees.

2. Your comment is irrational because you and people like you would like to pretend that the 1979 Revolution came about because "my generation" supported it. No, it came about because Iran was being run by a dark quasi-fascist dictatorship led by a despot whose rule was totally illegitimate due to the CIA-MI6 coup. It was not as if Iran was a heaven on earth, and my generation ruined it - far from it. The Revolution came about because it had solid social, political, cultural, and economical reasons.

People like you usually jump up and say, "see what YOUR Revolution has created." No, the Revolution was hijacked, and it was hijacked because the previous regime had created a political abyss by eliminating all the nationalists, secular leftists, even secular rightists, and moderate religious groups. There was a political vacuum that was filled by the only group that had a social network at the national level in place, namely, the clerics.

I lived in that era as a young adult, and I know how it was.

3. Your comment is also irrational because people like you criticize /or and attack, but never ever propose a solution; I do, regardless of whether anyone likes it or not.

Let us assume that all the bad oldies - me here in Los Angeles, and Mousavi et al. in Iran [I am not putting myself at Mousavi's level] - simply disappear. Describe for us what is the plan of your generation for moving Iran along a democratic path. In particular, describe who the leader would be, what the platform would be, how much support you think that leadership would have, etc., and in each case provide solid evidence for your claims, not hot rhetoric.

I have asked this question countless number of times, but never received a response - any response.

Ahvaz:

Thank you.

Muhammad Billy Bob:

Finally, for those of you who may be interested: Listen to my conversation with Scott Horton of Antiwar/KPFK Radio at

http://www.antiwar.com/

Once the page opens, you can see it at the rightmost corner at the top. Click there.
Thank you.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 12, 2010 3:13 AM

Professor, you are wrong on almost all accounts; you muddy water by bringing up a lot of issues, related and unrelated, mixed in, all within a very narrow frame of mind, pulled out of a 30 year old hat. Responding to all the issues that you raised makes my comment way too long, so I only address a couple of them:

1. I never addressed you improperly. You have had major technical achievements and "you" deserve to be respected for it; I have no doubt about that. However, you do not appreciate the pain that some of us are under as a result of 79 revolution, and your analysis of where we are and where we should go has the tone of compromise, the compromise that you were not willing to make at the eve of the revolution when shah had already left the scene. Imagine where we would be if PM bakhtiar had been supported instead of khomeini. I do not care if shah had remained in power or not, but I wanted him (the shah) in power if his absence would lead to the disaster that we see today.

2. You are a product of that era. I suggest that you look into the mirror to see where you are and where the country is, "You" and your achievements (that you deserve to be respected for) are products of the shah's era and his policies, and Iran of today, is not a product of the shah, but a product of your generation's doing. You are totally wrong to assume that the revolution was "hijacked." It was NOT hijacked, it was totally and completely successful as planned. Except that more than one group participated in that lottery whose prize was looting of iran and killing of iranians, and only one group won that lottery: the mullas. The left (MEK and Toudeh and commies) wanted the exact same thing but with them being the VF, the-so-called intellectuals (bazargan, yazdi, JM, ... - if we can call them that), wanted the same thing but with them in charge. Even today you and your admired (Mouse, Khatami, Karrubi, ..) still want the same thing: the islamic republic, but with them in charge. Otherwise they would not ask for unity under the flag of the islamic republic. That is the same as what khomeini did when he asked everyone to vote for the islamic republic. All those groups wanted the exact same thing, forgetting that any lottery often has only a single major winner and a lot of losers. You are forgetting that the left endorsed khomeini, and the dirty intellectual endorsed him as well. Remember what Doctor Yazdi said then, that Tehran was NOT Nuremberg and they did not need courts before executing anti-revolutionary people, and Rajavi wrote khomeini asking him to be even more brutal with "enemies of the revolution".

Dear professor, did you or did you not vote for Islamic republic. If you did, you are guilty of poor judgment with severe consequences. You cannot say that "I made a disastrous judgement because shah was bad." Note that the vote for the islamic republic was not taken (before revolution) when khomeini was promising free bus fair to masses, but when his hands had opened wide with no sign of free bus fair but numerous murders and imprisonments AND V-MOTLAGHEH-F written in the constitution clearly. People voted for that and they are responsible for it -- they sold the country and the future of their children. Have you heard of "taghaas"? Maybe that is what they are witnessing today: to see their children imprisoned for the stupid vote that they offered khomeini on silver platter.

Have you seen (more or less) recent revelations on how all participating groups in the revolution were:

(a) lobbying foreign countries to influence their position in the outcome of the take-over of the country?

(b) were setting up each other for elimination (as in latest in demise of Ghotbzadeh)?

(c) how various groups, once saw that khomeini had the upper hand, started lobbying him for take-over of various ministries and once that was not successful, lobbied him hoping that he would give them "parts" of iran?

Professor: I think there is a lot more to the revolution than the simplistic view that shah failed so the revolution happened. The more we know, the more we realize that the revolution was a masterpiece of lies and deceit, and personal vendetta and personal ambitions, carefully built upon the un-informity and stupidity and fanaticism of the people of that era.

Rational / September 12, 2010 4:57 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

Reuters reports on a confidential IAEA report, obtained by them(Reuters) voicing continued concern about possible activities in Iran to develop a nuclear-armed missile.

Meanwhile, there is report of yet another secret site by MKO which Iran has denied.

If true, these reports will push Iran closer to war.

I like to read your thoughts on possible outcomes.

----------

Dr. Sahimi,

Mr. Bakhtiar of NF who was the last acting prime minister clearly asked for support from the opposition leadership in order to prevent the country from falling into chaos and the hands of the Islamist clerics etc. The leadership of his own party turned him down in support of Khomeini and greeted the monster as the leader of the revolution and praised him as an "Imam". They were joined by other groups such as MKO and the leftists.

How can you claim, "The Revolution was hijacked" when in fact, it was literally handed over to Khomeini? Why would they have a revolution if they did not know how to handle it? Where was the common sense?

The opposition was clearly in a position to change the system from within without uprooting it. The price they had to pay was to keep the Monarchy but take over the control of the government. Yet they were selfish. Admit it, they wanted it all. If it was "hijacked", it was simply due to political ignorance, deficient leadership and total lack of vision. A little compromise was the correct course of action for the sake of Iran and Iranians. Even after 31 years, we still see no evidence of such compromise on the part of your generation.

There is no comparison between Iran of pre 1979 and Iran of today. What your generation has left us has amounted to nothing short of BARBARIC. I am just being honest about it.
Dr. Sahimi, politics is the art of give and take in addition to the science of government or governing.

Niloofar / September 12, 2010 10:36 AM

Ahvaz
Indeed, the person whom i mentioedn is still in the Police force, one of the most honorable men ever lived in Iran, well known and has nothing to do with IR's barbaric brutality


it's a pity to see that our country men/women judge each other so slightly


as for war mongers and in particular Ian,

will you fight if Iran is to be attacked? will you be there?

if not then zip it please

Alal / September 12, 2010 5:41 PM

Niloofar

..""The opposition was clearly in a position to change the system from within without uprooting it. The price they had to pay was to keep the Monarchy but take over the control of the government. Yet they were selfish. Admit it, they wanted it all. If it was "hijacked", it was simply due to political ignorance, deficient leadership and total lack of vision. A little compromise was the correct course of action for the sake of Iran and Iranians. Even after 31 years, we still see no evidence of such compromise on the part of your generation.""...


this is a fact and one of the "lessons" taught by "history" , i guess by this lesson we now know, we mustn't uproot the system but to find ways of amending it, no matter whose generation's fault ..should we kill the previous generation or humiliate them for all eternity?
why can't we learn the lesson and let it go? it's been there for 31 years, accept it


...""Meanwhile, there is report of yet another secret site by MKO which Iran has denied.""....
the white house spokes man commented on that already, whats your point? (how i hate MKO more than IR..!!)

personally have lost all my respect for IAEA

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

again if people who claim to be educated open minded class who would like to debate to have say, must know how to write without being rude...in my own case towards Ian, i use the same "war mongering" tone with war mongers to give them a taste of their own medicine. (which is wrong), it's easy for everyone to be rude and end up in a fight,

...."""Dr. Sahimi, politics is the art of give and take in addition to the science of government or governing.""...

the "art" in governing while have studied the science of politics is to be "respectful" towards all opinions and learn how to "agree to disagree", ;)


Alal / September 12, 2010 7:04 PM

Rational:

I never said that you disrespected me (although in a free society you could do that also). I was simply referring to the person who had called me warmonger (see his comment). As for the rest, let's agree to disagree. But, no, I did not vote for the IRI. I was in the U.S.

Niloofar:

The U.S. - of all the nations - has rejected the MKO organization. The IAEA report has a lot of politics in it, rather than objective scientific analysis. I am writing an article deconstructing it.

Regarding Bakhtiar: Hindsight is great. But, you should consider the era and the history behind it. The thought at that time was, what guaranteed that after the country became calm, the armed forces would not have staged a coup? Who could guarantee that the Shah would not have gone back to Iran and gradually business would not have become as usual?

Muhammad Sahimi / September 12, 2010 8:12 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

Thank you very much for the link. I did listen to some of it but not all. I was generally agreeing with it, and it seemed that nothing was new, anyway. I believe Iran, or any other nation, has the right to posses whichever weapon they can produce. They do not, however have the right to use these weapons on others, unless justified by self defense. The alternatives lead to rediculous interferences into other nations affairs, as we have seen many times. WHich put more people in danger than it would possibly save.

A final point. Why would anyone have faith in a U.N. organization? IAEA, UNHRC, etc., etc. All have agendas and their reports are riddled with unsceintific nonsense skewed to please one group or another. I personally, do not accept anything coming from a U.N. affiliated organization as reliable. The sad fact is that U.S. taxpayers pay for an overwhelming majority of the biased reports that come from the U.N. I am looking forward to your article about the IAEA.

muhammad billy bob / September 12, 2010 11:36 PM

Alal,

My point about another report by MKO was just that, another report by MKO.

I do not have to accept anything I do not believe in Mr. Alal. Additionally, I do not believe I was rude to Dr. Sahimi. I really do not understand your last point. Sorry.
----------------

Dr. Sahimi,

"The U.S. - of all the nations - has rejected the MKO organization."
If you recall, the last time MKO’s (or the new convenient title) NCRI’s spokesman who revealed Iran's nuclear secrets had a satellite picture of the location in question behind him. Is MKO/NCRI in the business of satellites? So it is not hard to conclude they are supported by foreign governments. Their history is a clear indication of their existence as a tool in the hands of foreigners even prior to the revolution. A public denunciation by U.S. does not mean they are not being used the United States. They are re-introduced under a different title.

I look forward to your article on IAEA.
----------------
“Hindsight is great.” Sorry Dr. Sahimi, I have no other choice since I was hardly in the picture at the time.

“Who would guarantee?” The very people who had the control of the government and the claim of the support of millions would provide the needed guarantee, simply because they would have been the government of the people. Why would they conduct a coup if the Monarchy was still intact?
I am sure Baktiar would waste no time to shuffle the government as well as the armed forces.

However, I do not think he would resort to mass executions and the blood bath that followed nor would he be subjected to a war that was conveniently dragged on for years. He was too educated and civilized and clearly reflected the correct vision. A vision only paralleled by the late Shah who on November 6, 1979 in a nationwide television address to the Iranian people admitted to the past mistakes and told the nation he had, “heard the sound of their revolution.” He correctly chose Bakhtiar to head the government.

The revolution was won Dr. Sahimi. The revolution was won.

Niloofar / September 12, 2010 11:46 PM

Niloofar:

Sorry, I meant that the US rejected the new MKO claim about a secret nuclear facility. That is what is surprising about it.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 13, 2010 12:45 AM

Niloofar
by accepting something is not by believing in it, but by understanding it's existence as a fact, for instance you accept the earth is round, because it's fact, believing is something else...

Alal / September 13, 2010 10:00 AM

Mr. Alal,

Everyone knows there exists a Barbaric Republic in Iran.

That is a fact Sir.I accept it.

Niloofar / September 13, 2010 5:42 PM

Pouya,

Congratuations for the new website..
Hopefully, will also present the other side of the debate.. the true face and the official outlook of the IRI.. there is lack of balanced view of ideas.. we are bombed with hate ideas of the current government which is whether we like it or not the offical one of iran today.. we need more then the rigged-election professor, sir..

Abdikadir/observer / September 13, 2010 8:28 PM

Abdikadir/observer,

The "other side of the debate" is the only side that is allowed inside Iran by the Islamic Republic. The regime controls the TV, radio and all of the newspapers and it also filters the internet. It is a headache for people inside of Iran to get around the regime's propaganda machine. I sense that you're not an Iranian otherwise you would have been aware of the "other side of the debate". Here are a few sources of the "other side of the debate": PRESSTV, IRNA, FarsNews, Tehran Times, etc. Go nuts. I should warn you that if you don't like "hate ideas" you're not gonna enjoy these sources.

Pouya can present his side of the debate on this website as he clearly has done so thus far. His problem is that the rest of us can too!

Cy / September 14, 2010 10:34 AM

@Abdikadir/observer,

"Hopefully, will also present the other side of the debate.. "
....no worries, until Pouya's website gets going, you can enjoy Fati Rajabi's website. There is plenty of Ahmadinejad loyalists there.

Also Observer, you can get plenty of what-you-would-rather-hear at
fars News, Tabnak, Aftab...you know, Pouya's competitors.

But I have a feeling, you will always crawl back to TB for your news and commentary.

Ahvaz / September 14, 2010 10:38 AM

M. Billy Bob

Well written response.

I don't dissagree with your interpretation of Iran's involvement in the region. But I see it slightly differently. From an American perspective, since Iran has become more influential in the region, yet has not lost a single life in the process and has not gone to any wars, I see their policy smarter than ours. Nor are they going a trillion dollars a year into debt. You make a mistake in my position in that I am not neurtral (as you can tell) nor do I advocate a neutral postion for the US. This nation needs to protect its interests. As you can see Iran's policy is proactive but does not get into mindless wars. How does a third grade power challenge the US in the region? because of our failure of imagination. Being antiwar is not the same as being neutral. I believe these wars weaken us. In fact, I believe United States could have followed a smarter position, and I think, despite the IR, the Iranians would seve American interests much better than anyone else. Let us not forget that Iran helped us in Afganistan and in Iraq (initially, then they turned against us). That shows even the IR wanted to come to terms with the "leviathon" that the US is (that's a term used by pentagon to describe US power).

About Sahimi: I do not make the conclusions based on his article. In fact if you stroll up and see my original comments, I criticized him and thanked him for generating a debate. You will also see his response, as it is typical of someone caught with his tail between his legs with lies, he went on his typical insulting binge. I made my comments based on his responses to various writters including yours. I do think his demonization of Iran is consistent with every point the neocons have made. That is not an exageration. You cannot find a single point the neocons say about Iran that Sahimi does not validate. SAHIMI PRETENDS HE DOES NOT WANT WAR, BUT, HE VALIDATES EVERY RATIONALIZATION AND CONCLUSION THE NEOCONS MAKE. That is why when he is caught lying, he gets so angry and insults his own reader. Take the following: 1-he claimed Mousavi was a great guy because to overthrow the regime (a neocon position) using the Greens, you need a leader. I was the original guy who pointed out to him Mousavi was PM when thousands of prisoners were executed in the 80's. He went on his insultin binge, and even excused Mousavi for them. Other readers jumped in and he got quiet. He had OMITED Mousavi's position in his article and was forced to admit it. 2- I have advocated that Mousavi's conflict with Ahmadi is over power and not election results, since 42000 of his monitors certified the results. Sahimi has never responded to that and other evidence, but went on an insulting binge, again. I think he consistantly, and knowingly, omits and lies to make his preconceived positions sound true, and insults his critics to silence them.

Regarding the numbers. I think there is a misunderstanding, and it is my fault. I did not mean the US killed 600000 people, I meant that many people died. You are right that most died as a consequence of Muslems killing Muslems. But my point was that regardless of what number you want to give, you can hardly call US policy "pragmatic," and refrain from calling it "aggressive" and "adventuristic," as he persisted to do. That again is not the position of most prominent antiwar writters.

Thanks again.

Pouya / September 15, 2010 12:36 PM

Sahimi

I just point you to your own responses. I criticize your own words, you can clarify or even agressively respond, but likening me to "an interogator in Evin prison," speaks volumes by itself. Such comments are ridiculous.

I have read comments that have criticized you for responding and otherwise, I give you that, but I also recall defending you, saying "it makes the debate much better and I thank Sahimi." I still believe that.

I think there is difference between critically responding to your reader and bluntly insulting them. If you can't distinguish between the two then It is best that you let your article stand by itself. That's a friendly advice.

I still think your articles are well researched and worth reading, but I don't agree with your conclusions. I will criticize them as I see them.

Pouya / September 15, 2010 12:52 PM

Abdikadir

I think there is much to criticize Iran's government. I think a balanced position serves everyone. It will not allow the "damn Iran" writters to tear down on that nation to the point that we will find ourselves in another war. Is that not how we got into Iraq? Also, a balanced position gives one credibility. Is that not why the Greens dissappeared? Wasn't not their writters who promised us a "revolution" in February and then again in June?

I have some fairer articles recently on PBS.org and I hope the trend continues. I think the opinions expressed here by the current writters are helpful to the debate, but I think there should be more moderate and opposing views also included. It would only add credibility.

Thanks

Pouya / September 15, 2010 1:04 PM

Ahvaz

you can teach something to Sahimi about responding without insulting. I enjoyed your last comments at 10:38 AM

By no means do I encourage people to move away from TB. To the contrary, I encourage continued readership and critical responses. I am certain that it will become a more balanced place. I see some evidence of it. From my perspective, engagement is the best policy.

Thanks.

Pouya / September 15, 2010 1:09 PM

Ahvaz

"yet he has the gull to support ahmadinejad, and a system that does not give that right to its own citizens."

That is not my position. I have said on numerous occasions that Iran hopefully will become a secular democracy. I have also said that last year was a watershed moment for Iran. I believe the opposition last year was more about people who seek non-religious state for Iran. I also think there are people in Iran who believe in the system, 10-20%, and others who want the same regime but with deep reforms. The future of Iran depends on the balance of those ideas and Iran's social contract. Iran is an educated nation and should be left to its own elements, as Iran is likely to be a natural ally of the US.

Just because I don't damn, or condemn Iran's government and its officials at every chance I get, it does not mean I support that system. You are right to point out that we can only hope Iran's citizen can enjoy the same rights we enjoy here. But I refuse to join others and paint that nation with the same brush. That would only allow the neocons to yet have another war. We should expect a diverse spectrum of opinions, especially on a website that dedicates itself to Iran. It simply enriches our understanding of Iran.

Pouya / September 15, 2010 1:29 PM

Pouya,

re September 15, 2010 1:09 PM post

I see you have finally calmed down. It looked like you'd lost it there for a while. Your September 10, 2010 10:14 AM post was particularly amusing. we all had a real good laugh at your expense. Thank you.


I agree with your 1st paragraph (September 15, 2010 1:29 PM)

Your second pragraph demonstrates the core of the problem that you have gotten yourself into that has skewed you logic.
Key words: "neocons", "another war"....
your FEAR of "another war" by looloo "neocons" seems to have led you to the conclusion that our only defence is developing nukes, and that Ahmadi is more hawkish and tough on developing nukes. that logic has led you right to his bosom.

In Farsi we say: 'az holl-e halim, oftadi tu digg'

Ahvaz / September 15, 2010 11:42 PM

Dear Ahvaz,

I did not label anyone as "ignorant western viewed" but did point out that they are “presenting the ignorant western view” which is actually necessary to be brought up and debated.

Obama’s outreach to Iran has not been sincere. He has been pushing for more sanctions while he pretended to fancy negotiations which he did not. The reason for even the laughable pretense was so that the United States could label Iran’s response as inadequate. As I listed the grievances in my previous comments, even if we only take the last 30 years of hostility, the scales are heavily tipped so I think it is about time for United States to stop the economical sanctions to lessen the Iranian people’s misery and balance Iranian grievances.

I completely agree with your assertion that hardliners on each side torpedo peace efforts that is why we needed a strong president who could push aside APAC lobbyists and Military Industrial Complex’s interests on our side since the Iranians basic demand is for the United States to first stop the economical sanctions before Iran can negotiate on its international rights and other issues on the table, that would shut up the Iranian hardliners for the most part. Obama is not that president; he is another dirty Politician, from Chicago out of all places, who is a good pretender. He did the perfect job of ruining the left’s chances of real change for the better. Out of all the candidates Dennis Kucinich would have been that president and maybe Ron Paul.

With regards to whom controls American FP: even oil and gas contracts end up being a couple of billion dollars worth at most, everything else is much less, on the other hand as I am sure you read that recently Americans signed a 60 billion dollar contract with Saudis alone and that does not take into account an additional 40 Billions which will be paid for training and maintenance over the coming years. This is only one country in the middle east! If you start counting all the rich Arab countries who buy their arms from the States because of Iran’s supposed threat you will see that all other economical consideration will become a drop in a sea. Not to mention Israel's armament supplies which are paid for mostly by the American tax payer dollars and of course for them money is money.

Let me quote an study here for you:

“An illustrative case in point is a report dated 29 August from China's Xinhua News Agency on a news article by Egypt's Middle East News Agency regarding a study conducted by the Strategic Foresight Group in India. The study, published in a book entitled The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, calculates that conflict in the area over the last 20 years has cost the nations and people of the region 12 trillion US dollars.”

http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20Editorials/2010/September/6%20o/Middle%20East%20Loses%20$12%20Trillion%20in%2020%20Years,%20as%20US%20Strikes%20Record%20Arms%20Deals%20By%20Rick%20Rozoff.htm

Are you seriously going to compare the clout of the American Military Complex with industry lobbyists which in contrast have only change in their pockets and do not protect the government? This is a complex that has been embedded in the Defense and State departments and has had American presidents under its thumb for decades. Do not underestimate its power and the profits that it can generate from an enemy like Iran as detailed in the study above. Also do not discount the fact that American oil companies would rather negotiate from a position of power than a position of mutual respect on top of the fact that they already control all of the oil in the middle east and do necessary feel the need for a small billion dollar contract from a country that cannot tap into its own reserves.

Again, if the Americans really care about the democratic movement in Iran they should stop the economical sanctions and drop the stick from their carrot and stick policy since that implies that Iran is a dumb animal, to say the least.

Ali / September 16, 2010 12:06 AM

Ahvaz jan,

You also asked a very valid question with regards how can this peace be achieved with Ahmadi and Khamenei in power and while they push for Nuclear technology. To be more specific I think that US should explicitly accept Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology under the IAEA supervision and utilize the negotiated pack between Iran, Turkey and Brazil as starting point in direct negotiations. United States should truly intent to resolve the conflict by arriving at a solution that would benefit all parties and would ensure nuclear safeguards in place. I think the United States should voice concerns over imprisonment of peaceful political activists and present Iran with the option of taking all sanctions and war off the table if in return Iran provides guarantees that it would stay not weaponize its nuclear program and does not provide material support for groups outside of Iran. I believe the United States government is construing unnecessary barriers on the way to peace by having unrealistic demands from Iran mainly by asking for Iran’s enrichment capability to be at zero which will never happen no matter who is in power. Making these demands more reasonable will allow both sides more room for negotiations while ensuring that both of their concerns are addressed. If Iran and US achieve even a small understanding where hardliners on both side end up with less excuses to exploit each for their own political gains, then the democratic movement in Iran will find more breathing room. Especially if the generic economic sanctions and threats of military action are lifted then the Greens will be able to pick themselves off the ground both economically and ideologically and mount a comeback in an environment where Iran is not constantly under threat of war (even a nuclear attack based on Obama's assertion) and economic isolation for supposedly pursuing its international rights.

Ali / September 16, 2010 3:38 AM

Ali

your last comments at 3:38 am, hit the right note. And it is also the evidence that there is no will to negotiate with Iran. Let us not forget that Iran accepted the October offer, but asked that the exchange of the nuclear fuel to occur in Iran. Experts have said that a nuclear fuel rod can no longer be converted to a bomb, so it begs the question as to why Obama walked out. As you point out the Brazil-Turkey deal is a good starting point, and Iran has presented it to the IAEA board this summer. Iran has also offered selling shares of its enrichment enterprise to western nations, even the US. That too is a good idea. What is missing, if you notice, there is no counter offer by the Western negotiators. Even the October offer, now we know, was a Russian idea backed by the French.
This is why I am pesimistic. I believe US policy is deeply affected by lobbyists. Your comments have US's interests at its heart. I think if that became true, Iran-US problems would be improve and as you said a reform movement would get its legs back. There is no doubt the regime is vonurable after last years events.

Ahvaz

I wish you were more specific so I could respond more to your point. But I'll say this:

If people keep validating every reason the neocons use to pave the way for war, then they should not be surprised when we get there. That is the reason that I won't agree with everything for the sake of agreement. The first process for war is dehumanization of Iran. To do that you need a boogyman, Ahmadinejad. Then you deligitimize the government, not by logic, but by making it look like Saddam's government or that of N. Korea. Iran is authoritarin but it is not N. Korea. To do that, you say lies like the IRGC are taking over. "the theocracy is lost," as Hillary said. I did not realize she was a fan of the theocracy. Or "its thugacracy and not a theocracy," as Gen. Petreus said. And those comments are repeated by every prowar article or Fox. That's how you get the article about "shame on Iran." that is the result of us allowing things go so far that Iranians are reduced to "thugs," because that's what the interpretation of general public will be. Forget about the readers here, they are above average even if we don't agree with one another. Then you get the writings of "if Iran had done this and that things would be different," when the fact is that Iran has not been offered anything. To the contrary, Iran offered cooperation in Afganistan and Iraq, but got listed as axis of evil. I think we can beat the drumbeat of human rights in Iran, without letting Iran be painted as a threat to humanity. That only means there is one way to deal with her. That's why I like people to stop swiming for a moment and think about the direction the river is taking us.
Thanks.

Pouya / September 17, 2010 11:29 AM

dear Ali

I was actually thinking about you when I read the headlines about the arms sales deal to S. Arabia.
Thanks for the article. Sobering numbers indeed and very tragic, though one can argue that even if US were to stop all arms sales to ME, these countries would get them from elsewhere (and they already do, from China, N Korea, Russia, and Europe, particularly E. Europe etc).

Weapons sales is not the primary derive of US policy in ME. The primary interest of US in ME is oil/gas and control of its shipping lanes. US wants to control energy to 1. increase their influence and dominion over the world, 2. satisfy their insatiable domestic appetite for energy.

The second major influence on US in ME is Israel and its lobby.

Weapons sales is further down the line and is only a fraction of the benefits, profits and importance of gas/oil/energy.

Re Obama; not sure what him being from Chicago has to do with any thing. ron Paul is from Texas, same as Bush. so what. how is one being from a certain area relevant in any way?
we dont know for certain if his overtures to Iran were sincere or not, but we know for sure that hardliners pushed it away (and hardliners in US were against it).


US is not the reason we are where we are today. WE are the reason we are here today. Despite a 7000 yr history and a grand past, we remain a backwards country.
Why? because many Iranians pick religion, ideology or personality over their country . we consider anyone with opinion outside our thinking 'outsiders' whom we redicule as Monarchist, Islamist, communist, Ashrafi, ignorant western mind (rough translation which BTW is farib-Khordey-e gharbzadeh), and so on.

Add an overdeveloped imagination in conspiracy theories, and a dose of daijan napelon paranoia of 'they are out to get us' and you get what we get.


Let's look at Iran from the point of view of others:
We are the only theocracy in the world. Our laws were abolished in most other nations centuries ago. We are one of the few that hang children, and stone women for adultry. We have the highest rate of capital punishment in the world. We publicly lash people, including women. We put human rights activists and children rights activits in jail for 'Moharebeh'.


I am sorry, but "nuclear rights" are the last thing we should be concerned with right now. We have a lot of other rights that need to be addressed first.
In the words of John Stewart: Iran, which one is it gonna be? A.D. or B.C. because you cant be both.


Sadly, hardliners in Iran, (with their idiotic push for nuclear tech), and their mirror image, hardliners in the west are putting us on the path to more conflict.
For the sake of peace, we must aid moderates in both Iran and the west, and work against hardliners wherever they are (whether in Iran, US, Palestine or Israel), because as you very correctly pointed out, they reinforce eachother, are made of the same cloth, are 2 sides of the same coin.


Pouya,

You are fearmongering (a proven sales tactic) to sell us Islamic republic and Ahmadinejad. So far I have't seen many naive enough to buy it though.

Ahvaz / September 20, 2010 3:31 AM