Obama and the (Mis)management of Imperial Decline

When Barack Obama first ran for the presidency, his most important foreign policy campaign promise was to end not just the Iraq War, but also the “mindset” that had gotten the United States into that strategic travesty.  His first inaugural emphasized the idea that America would exercise real leadership by resurrecting diplomacy and “engagement” as essential elements of American strategy.  Leaders and publics in Tehran, Moscow, Beijing, and many other places around the world were eager for him to deliver.

In his second inaugural, President Obama recalled this vision, reminding Americans that they are “heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends…We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully—not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”

But now his words fall flat in much of the world.  For his administration never understood that, to be effective, “engagement” had to mean more than simply reiterating longstanding U.S. demands while not just continuing to reject other parties’ interests and concerns, but acting even more assertively against them.

In the Middle East, Obama promised to engage Iran, make resolving the Palestinian issue a top priority, and redefine America’s posture toward the Muslim world.

Obama’s approach to engaging Tehran entailed reiterating the same demands on the nuclear issue as his predecessor while intensifying the coercive aspects of American policy (e.g., sanctions, covert operations, and cyber-attack) when Iran did not surrender. If, in his second term, Obama launches another war to disarm yet another Middle Eastern country of weapons of mass destruction it does not have, this will be a disaster for America’s position in the Middle East.  But this is where Obama’s current strategy inexorably leads.

Obama’s decisions to allow Israel and the pro-Israel lobby to hype the Iran “threat” and to appease the Netanyahu government with the most robust U.S. military assistance to Israel ever not only derailed nuclear diplomacy with Tehran; they also made it impossible for Obama to exert any leverage over Netanyahu regarding Israeli settlements or to support Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.   As a result, Obama is not just presiding over a stalled peace process; he is overseeing the demise of the two-state solution.

These policies destroyed whatever hope Middle Easterners might have invested in Obama.  After Obama’s first inaugural, it seemed like he could have gone anywhere in the Muslim world.  He chose Cairo as the venue for a major address ostensibly aimed at starting a new relationship with the Muslim world, based on dialogue rather than dictation.  Today, with Middle Eastern publics asserting more of a role in shaping their own political futures than ever before, it would be hard to find a Middle Eastern capital that would freely host Obama for such an address.

Obama’s vaunted “reset” of relations with Russia turned out, from Moscow’s perspective, to be not just insincere, but duplicitous.  Examples of American perfidy include NATO’s ongoing plans to deploy anti-missile radars in Europe, Obama’s appointment of someone with no diplomatic experience and essentially neoconservative views on Russia as his ambassador in Moscow, his distortion of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing humanitarian intervention in Libya into a regime change campaign, his support for the overthrow of Syria’s government, and his endorsement of human rights legislation specifically targeting Russia.  Since returning as Russia’s President last year, Vladimir Putin has declined all invitations to come to the White House.

In Beijing, Chinese leaders are increasingly persuaded that what Obama administration officials first described as a U.S. “strategic pivot” from the Middle East to Asia and now call a “rebalancing” is really meant to contain China and “keep it down,” even as its economic development moves ahead.  China’s political and policy elites are growing concerned that the fundamental strategic bargain underlying Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s—that Washington accepted a peacefully rising People’s Republic and that neither country would seek military hegemony in Asia—is being eviscerated, by the United States.

The world is increasingly giving up on the proposition that the United States can act in any manner other than that of an imperial power—even as more and more important players in global affairs are coming to see it as an imperial power in decline.  Obama’s second inaugural displayed no appreciation for this reality.  And that does not augur well for any meaningful recovery of America’s international standing during Obama’s second term.

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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97 Responses to “Obama and the (Mis)management of Imperial Decline”

  1. fyi says:

    The Leveretts:

    That “…United States can act in any manner other than that of an imperial power” is not germaine; that is to be expected.

    What is germaine is an imperial power that is oblivious to the interests of other major powers as well as her own vassals and barons.

    In the Middle East or in the Far East, US is articulating a security-heavy vision while the local populations and states crave development and progress.

    In regards to Iran, I suggest US offer to license to Iran the technology of the Apollo capsule (navigation, re-entry, space suit etc.) That actually might interest Iranians in the light of their ambition to put a man in space in 8 years.

  2. fyi says:

    All:

    Mr. Marashi on Iran, Obama etc.

    “America’s primary concern — regarding Iran’s nuclear program: A nuclear-capable Iran will enable the emergence of a regional power that fundamentally rejects the notion of a “Pax Americana” for the Middle East.

    And therein lies the rub: Iran will not enter into the regional security framework as it exists today, and the United States will not change the existing framework to accommodate Iranian preferences and goals.”

    That is, a jus gentium islamicum now is a real possibility in the Middle East which the Americans – the imperial masters of jus gentium Occidentum/Americum – cannot accept.

    I observe here that there is no “jus” (Law) in the jus gentium Americum/Occidentum as applied to the Middle Eastern people and states. Axis Powers treat the Middle East the way traditional Islam viewed non-Islamic lands – Dar Al Harb – the Dominion of War; sort of like the way ottomans behaved towards Europe or Roman towards the barbarians.

  3. kooshy says:

    Here is an old reminder for the Leverett, coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

    US Iraq Envoy Sees ‘Great Deal of Continuity’ From Bush to Obama

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/exiting-us-envoy-obama-bushtweed.html#ixzz2IljKfvKN

    Al-Monitor: Do you think we are on a trajectory toward conflict with Iran?

    Jeffrey: Define conflict. We are in a conflict. To quote [Defense historian] David Crist, it is a twilight war. It was certainly pretty hot as I had rockets landing all around me in July 2011 in the Green Zone.

    Al-Monitor: And you know that was Iran?

    Jeffrey: It was Iran.

    Al-Monitor: And their message was?

    Jeffrey: I don’t know, but they eventually stopped it because we kicked back.

    Al-Monitor: So you can push back?

    Jeffrey: Yeah. You can push back. Najaf in ’04, Basra in ‘08, Sadr City ‘08, southern Iraq 2011 are all examples of it. But the context of this is when the Iranians are pursuing limited objectives, or economy of force. Whether pushing back is the right thing when you are pushing against their core national objectives, I am not so sure. Take a look at how much it took to end the Iran-Iraq war, which they thought was a core objective of theirs.

    Al-Monitor: You mentioned that US policy to Iran still seems to have tension between pursuing regime change vs. behavior change. Certainly that was evident during the Bush administration, but do you still think that is in play in the Obama administration?

    Jeffrey: Here is the problem. American foreign policy since 1918 and Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points can be summarized in one sentence: regime change are us. We are all about creating a liberal, pacifistic, rule of law, protect human rights, free trade, international order. That is what we have done. … Overall context matters. If at same level, even if instinctively, subconsciously, implicitly, our institutions, particularly the Congress and executive branch, basically consider states that don’t accept this [liberal] agenda … We somehow don’t consider them truly legitimate. While we deal with them, and negotiate with them, sometimes successfully — look at China — we have our doubts. My experience … is, even when we have taken a policy decision to deal on a realpolitik basis with these states that aren’t part of the plan, it is hard for us to enter into compromises, to trust, because at the end of the day, we know that these are the Other. Somehow it does have an influence even when regime change is not officially on the table.

    Al-Monitor: But now we have learned our lesson from regime change. You lived through it.

    Jeffrey: This question came up at Washington Institute. I believe my answer was, “If you want to be serious about regime change, I give you Iraq 2003. Have a nice day.”

  4. fyi says:

    All:

    A veiw from an Iranian strategist:

    http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/2013-Continued-Deadlock-or-New-Opening-.htm

    Note the statement:

    “…Iran is getting ready for a long-term game. Therefore, any delusional thinking about the possibility of putting a rapid end to Iran’s strategic contention with the United States has no place in strategic decision-making system of the Islamic Republic…”

    I stand by my estimate: 40 more years of confrontation remian ahead.

  5. fyi says:

    kooshy says:

    January 22, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Yes, jus gentium americum/occidentum – with its pretensions to being a jus gentium universum – cannot admit that there are alien socities which it cannot digest – Muslims, Hindus, Chinese, sub-Saharan Africans and even Russians and South Americans.

    The Americans were in Iran for 25 years – where was that liberal deomcracy that Ambassador Jeffrey is alluding too?

    They were in the Philippenes for more than 50 years – that Manila is not a city like Singapore or Hong Kong is a testament to Americns’ inability at nation-building – Japan and Germany were flukes of historical circumstances.

    This is a shortcoming of Americans – however capable they might be in other areas – that they are unwilling or unable to accept.

  6. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    January 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    I am reading the book and as you might have noted, I do not make comments here, but read ALL YOUR comments regularly which I find extremely smart and unique on the whole of internet. But this one, I could not resist. US had already given Iran the Apollo technology back in 1970′s and SAVAK was using it to train Iranians on it ;=)

    US had also promised to ride an Iranian on one of their upcoming space shuttle flights before the revolution much like the Saudi man they took to space for propaganda purposes as well as the Afghan guy that Russians took up. Alas, space technology is something best when developed completely by oneself without any help from outside.

  7. Pirouz says:

    Since reading “Going to Tehran”, I’ve been pondering the final sentence as well as my recollections of Nixon while a schoolboy and college student in the 70s.

    First, about Nixon. I’m reminded of my college classmate’s father’s appraisal of Nixon while we happened to see him on television. His father said “see that man, see how he carries himself, that’s a true leader . Of course, such an appraisal translated into very mixed results for our country. But the opening with China was certainly his high point, in my opinion. (It certainly wasn’t my friend’s dad’s opinion at the time!)

    When I see Obama, all I see is a manager of a committee.

    And as a manager, it’s my belief that his overriding preoccupation is to not flub as our country’s first and only African-American president. So if there’s a safe way to go or a courageous way to go, expect him to take the safe way. Which is to say, he’s not the one that will be “Going to Tehran”, as much as that breaks my heart to say it.

  8. Reza says:

    I have a question or a thought that maybe others can think about or express their opinion. Its meant not to be highlight conspiracy thinking but a plausible reason why the US may be more interested to prolong hostilities in the region.
    As an economist I see how the US had sustained its consumption led economy through the goodwill of other nations while offering little products in exchange, rather a reserve of dollars via treasuries. This is particularly true for GCC oil exports, and their in-bed relationship with the US has meant that they have not repatriated as much money back to the region for investment (something a neutral government would do), perhaps because of a deliberate US induced instability strategy and name calling (towards Iran erc), for that increases political risks in the region and keeps the GCC dollars stuck in the US. Iranians all too well know what happens when your currency devalues, and I am wondering given the 16T US debt which is constantly increasing, is US policy being dictated in a way to slow GCC repatriation because the over 1 Trillion in treasuries if sold by the Arabs will kill the US economy? Certainly the US doesnt want true democracy for rich Arab countries that hold so much US bonds? This doesnt apply to Egypt say..Any thoughts…

  9. Fiorangela says:

    Reza says:
    January 23, 2013 at 2:19 am

    Yes, of course: the underlying motive for harassing Iran has to do with US national debt and mollifying those who are underwriting it, and maintaining the US dollar as reserve currency. The US Congress is in financial meltdown, and the US Treasury is seemingly AWOL, but the Treasury department of terror finance is riding high, gleefully and energetically seeking to cripple Iran’s financial system.

    Hillary Leverett (iirc) commented in the Carnegie Ethics Council panel that the Saudis must maintain oil at $100/barrel in order to keep their revenues at a level sufficient to buy off their restive population. Several years ago, Michael Mandelbaum said that US government responds to Arab governments and pays little attention to the wishes of the people. And Bruce buena de Mosquita explained how governments manage to ignore the wishes of their people: by force, or by buying them off. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/301590-1 In Saudi Arabia’s case, the US acts as the middle man for the Saudi’s exercise of force: KSA buys the use of American military — that seems to be what happened in Libya, and also ongoing in Syria. The only thing the US has left to sell is its superpower capacity to terrorize and kill.

    When his book, “Reset,” was published shortly after Iran’s 2009 election, Stephen Kinzer observed that Iranians are the only people in the region who choose their own governments; Arab & Persian Gulf states do not. The monarchies would like to maintain that system, but as Hillary Leverett also pointed out, Muslims and Arabs in other states in the region are imitating their Iranian neighbors: they are holding elections.

    The American people will continue to pay high prices for petroleum, and watch their dollar erode as more of them are borrowed from Saudis, China and Japan, in order to support Arab oligarchs in their scheme of holding on to power by buying off their populations rather than establishing a sound internal economy — as Iran is attempting to do — and allowing their populations to participate fully in their governance.

    What I can’t figure out is whether the US Congress has given a thought to what their Saudi and Chinese ‘bankers’ are thinking as the Congress hatches one hare-brained scheme after another to avoid confronting the hole they’ve dug the country into.

  10. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    January 23, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I believe China licensed some Soyuz technology from Russia and then built on it.

    My intention was to indicate that US could put somethings on the table that Iranians could be interested in.

    Another idea would be that Iran will suspend uranium enrichment – a Sovereign Right – while US agrees to supply any and all Iranian reactors in perpetuity – another Sovereign Right.

    I personally do not believe that US is interested due to the strategic asymmetry that obtains between US and Iran.

    For US, “jus” is irrelevant as they seriously subscribe to the idea of Might makes Right and are not interested in “Law”.

    Just look at how they hurt themselves in the Arctic Circle when the they refused to ratify the UN Law od Seas.

  11. fyi says:

    Pirouz says:

    January 23, 2013 at 2:05 am

    “He is not the one going to Tehran” is the correct assessment.

  12. James Canning says:

    I would of course underline Obama’s astounding stupidity in refusing to allow the sale of nuclear replacment fuel to Iran, for the TRR. Thanks, Hillary Clinton. And Dennis Ross.

  13. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    The nuclear dispute with Iran keeps oil prices at least $25 per barrel higher than otherwise would obtain. And the US spends $1 billion per day on imported oil. Thus, the nuclear dispute with Iran hurts the dollar.

    I think the primary reason for the nuclear dispute is simply that powerful Israelis and of course Aipac etc in the US, want to protect Israel. And thus they want to hurt Iran if that helps to protect Israel.

  14. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    If Morashi, by “nuclear-capable”, means Iran operating nuclear power plants, surely this fact does not increase Iranian power very significantly. Prestige, perhaps. But the conomics of nuclear power plants in an area subject to earthquakes remain to be seen.

    Britain is spending scores of billions of pounds cleaning up just one or two nuclear power plants.

  15. James Canning says:

    Obama indeed was very weak in confronting Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders determined to prevent an independent Palestine from emerging.

    We can thank many foolish Democrats for Obama’s weakness on this score.

  16. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Yes, the US Congress has been and is “hare-brained”. How many hundreds of billions of dollars has this stupidity cost consumers in Germany, Japan, India, the US? And we of course can thank the ISRAEL LOBBY.

  17. James Canning says:

    Chuck Hagel has been obliged to genuflect in front of Aipac and ADL, to help clear the way to his confirmation at Defence by the Senate.

  18. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    I think it fair to say that American newsmedia try to keep under the carpet how much damage is done to billions of consumers around the planet, by US Congress’ stupidity in dealing with Iran.

  19. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    Read the interview with Ali Akbar Salehi and then ask me what benefits accrue to Iran from the NPT and why he and Iran want to strengthen the treaty.

  20. A-B says:

    To FYI

    Re. US helping Iran’s space program, here’s a treat for you: Episode 1 (Season 5) of a garbage TV series called ‘Leverage’. The interesting part is 01:50-2:35
    (45 seconds is more than enough. I endured 11(!!) minutes)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOjLIDDs_K0

    ;;https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOjLIDDs_K0

    Now THIS is what I call ‘Satanism’ in American movies :-)

    Well, here’s a scenario of why Israelis would violently object to the Iranian space program. Netanyahu: If Iran sends “mullahs” to space (AKA Mullonauts) and they would be the first humans ET’s would encounter, upon meeting these “irrational fanatics” in space the ET’s would immediately annihilate the planet. Therefore, as a preemptive measure, Iran must be attacked and destroyed to save the planet unless, of course, Iran gives up her space program and sovereignty.

    On a positive note; since Iran now poses not only an existential threat to Israel and the West, but is jeopardizing the galactic order, it will give the best (i.e. face saving) reason for the West to totally abandon Iran’s nuclear (non)issue and start focusing on this new ‘issue’. :-)

  21. Nasser says:

    James Canning says:

    “But the conomics of nuclear power plants in an area subject to earthquakes remain to be seen.”

    - LOL this is really silly and lazy propaganda. The Fukishima incident happened because of a tsunami not an earthquake. Nuclear reactors are quite safe from earthquakes.

    As far as economic considerations go, Iranians need to make necessary sacrifices in social welfare expenditure to underwrite development costs in various sectors including in the nuclear industry. Otherwise they will forever be hostage to foreign suppliers. The sanctions have convinced a lot of people of at least this much.

  22. Rd. says:

    fyi says

    “This is a shortcoming of Americans – however capable they might be in other areas – that they are unwilling or unable to accept.”

    so long as they have the petro “reserve” dollar, they will remain blind to the reality around them. When, that mirage disappears, one can hope for the reality to sink in.

  23. fyi says:

    A-B says:

    January 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I think the solid-fuel technology of Iran was transferred by US to iran, under the Shah. Actually in Parchin.

  24. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    January 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    The economic argument is, in fact, bogus.

    In China, India, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, South Africa, and many many other places fuel is subsidized.

    Perhaps these countries ought to increase the fuel prices and watch their economies collapse?

    Or consider the matter of food subsidies in many countries – Egypt, Iran, and US.

    May be it is best to let food prices rise and watch people die.

    In case of US, why not cutoff the food-stamps and get rid of these 45 million un-needed (economically) people – the lot of them – man, woman, children.

  25. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Would you describe the areas where British nuclear power plants have been built, as earthquake-prone? Maybe not. But gigantic environmental costs of cleanup are present anyway.

  26. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Surely Iran is not hostage to foreign suppliers, for its electrical supply needs.

  27. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    And the issue was simply whether Iran’s wealth and power depended upon operating nuclear power plants. I very much doubt it, though I easily can see the national pride etc aspect of the equation.

  28. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Problem gology creates huge problems with storage of radioactive waste. Leakage.

  29. Nasser says:

    James Canning,

    A lot of people propagate silly nonsense about Bushehr being a Chernobyl-like disaster just waiting to happen since it is built in a earthquake prone zone. Utter nonsense!

    http://nuclearno.com/text.asp?15236

  30. Nasser says:

    http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/OA23Ak02.html

    I read this to mean Egypt won’t be able to retain ties with Iran and will do all it can to curry favor with the West for some time.

  31. Richard Steven Hack says:

    A-B: Sorry to disagree, but Leverage was a great show that ran for several seasons, only being recently canceled after season five. One of my favorites. And Elliott Spencer, played by Christian Kane, was one of my favorite characters.

    Of course, the show played to Iran as an “enemy”, but that scene was a throw-away – and probably accurately reflected the way the US has behaved in Iran, if Seymour Hersh is right about how the US has sent Special Forces into Iran to find “hidden nuclear facilities”. Also the episode about computer surveillance software being sent to Iran is probably reasonably correct as well.

    The bulk of Leverage had plots pitting the team against corrupt corporations and individuals and occasionally the government, which was far more common than geopolitical plots.

    As bad fiction goes, this is nothing compared to Argo or the current crap “Zero Dark Thirty”, which ARE propaganda films.

  32. kooshy says:

    Irshad says:
    January 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

    “What I could not fathom was the premises of Amb. Marwan”

    To me what Mr. Marwan said, with consideration of his past positions and his current job was completely expected, just like when expatriate think thank employed Iranian analysts participate in this kind of TT panels.

    The expected opinion from professional Middle Eastern analysts holding a job in western thinks thanks is

    1- Don’t mind the Islamist rise and the Arab awakenings since they will be forced down due to economic reasons, meaning make their economy difficult to prosper.
    2- Put pressure on Israel to accept peace, but don’t help or defend the Palestinians right to self-determination.
    3- Contain Iran and her regional allies in any which way possible, don’t negotiate peace with Iran, is useless.

    One thing I wish I could tell Mr. Marwan was, is a famous (I am not sure if this is actually correct) saying by Ayatollah Khomeini in the early months of the revolution, when a bunch of merchants went to see him to complain about the shortage of fruits (you read economy) due to the revolutionary time, he told them (This revolution wasn’t for watermelon) Now, Mr. Marwan and majority of middle eastern analyst like him (with similar background and positions) can accept and mention all kind of reason for the Arab uprisings except the very root cause which is a red line not to be crossed by the western think tank analysts, that is Dignity they don’t allow, like or would want to mention that Arabs and Muslims in general have dignity, and their dignity makes them want to be self-determined rather than being governed by western puppet masters.

    For all this post WWI and II drawn up Arab states, there is only one unifying concept that can hold a made up country together, that is Islam, which possibly can hold majority of different groups and factions together, just like what happened in the Iranian revolution of 79. The western planers have identified the possibility of unification and reformation of a state around the concept of an independent Islamic government; they are doing their best to interrupt this concept by empowering extremist groups like AQ.

    From Today’s Kyhan, very much like what Ambassador Marwan said.

    http://www.kayhan.ir/911105/2.htm

    خليفه گري جهاني با توسل به قتل و خشونت و عمليات ربايش و باج خواهي در تلاش است تا تصويري بسيار نامطلوب از «اسلام خواهان» ارائه نمايد تا جايي كه مردم مسلمان كه طي سه دهه گذشته، تمايلات خود را براي روي كار آوردن اسلام گراهاي اصيل نشان داده اند، به ناچار به گزينش دوباره لائيك هاي غرب گرا روي بياورند

  33. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    January 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Iranians do not have the resources to rent Egypt or Pakistab.

    If they did have such resources, on the other hand, they would have no need of either country.

    Egypt has been an appendage of the Mediterranean basin economy for more than 200 years. Muhammad Ali made her situation even worse through his “reforms”. She has very little capacity for independent action without foreign patronage.

    Let Ikhwan and Salafis fight it out among themselves; Iran must concenterate on carving out, creating, and maintaining a Shia Crescent from Sindh to the Mediterranean Sea.

  34. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    January 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Well, I do not think Iranians will benefit from that. Iran gains two things from a manned space program. One is the fact that such a program will help Iran, learn complex engineering management on a colossal scale along with developing many technologies that will have uses outside of such a program eg. heat shields developed for a reentry capsule can also be used in air craft industry, or the physiology of space or radiative heat pumps etc etc.

    The other benefit Iran is going to draw from such a program is more mean. It has to do with record setting and national pride. If Iran could send a person to orbit, it will become the fourth to do so. It is not a joke. Iran can even play it smart and set world records, eg. by sending a female on its first space flight and thus becoming the only space going nation whose first flight was commanded by a female (Russian, American and Chinese had chosen males for the first flight). Iran can also choose a very young person for a subsequent flight maybe even a teenager which would make Iran learn about space physiology of adolescent. The possibilities are endless. NASA at first was against any female space flight having officially declared females unfit for space travel because of their “weak” body. The same conceptions exist for young people in space today with the youngest person ever to travel to space being 25 years old.

    But all these necessitates Iran doing it all alone. If Iran is helped then Iran will not learn much and the Iran’s international image will not benefit since every one would say it is an American capsule and Americans gave the technology to Iran. After all what would be the difference if Iran is to be compared with Saudi/Afghan/Syrian guys who got up there with the help of the Americans and Russians. Besides such kind of technical cooperation do not have much encouraging results. South Koreans have not been able to get it up despite all the sildenafil they have imported for the job.

    There are also other things at play here. Americans today do not have Apollo technology. It might come as a surprise. But the reality has already been officially said by NASA, that US currently does not have the technology since all the guys who were involved in Apollo program have either died or have long retired. US currently does not have even a man space program. In order to bring back Apollo, US will need time and learning from old blue prints, then teaching Iranians which is not going to be really a feasible plan. And I do not think Americans can be trusted to buy Soyuz technology from Russians and giving them to Iran. Americans had played that game with North Koreans, having signed an agreement with North Korea during Clinton administration to buy Russian power reactors for North Korea in return for North Koreans to stop their own sovereign and independent development of nuclear reactors at home. Americans never bought anything for North Korea, as you know.

    There is also this misconception that the Chinese space capsule is Russian, which is not true. All China does, is buy/steal/develop. They did buy some Russian techs and they probably did steal more (Chinese spy agency is famous for its stealing of technologies, in fact China is said to have a separate spy agency specializing in stealing technology and its job being only to steal technology from abroad). But there is more to story. China worked very hard and developed something better than Soyuz. Infact the Chinese space ship is bigger than Soyuz and it has a very unique function which Soyuz can not do: re-docking of orbit module with re-entry module. In Soyuz system when the modules are separated, then that is it, they can not re-dock. Chinese can. Iran should also go for its own thing. As I had argued before, Iran should buy/steal/develop its own technologies. That is the only way. All these said, I think a manned space program is going to benefit Iran but a sustained one will have not economic benefits for Iran. Ultimately Iran’s interests would better be served if Iran later on switches to robotic missions with occasional manned space flight to retain the capability.

    In nuclear field too, things are the same except for the fact that the nuclear issue has more of a security dimension for Iran than the manned space program. American nuclear reactors are not very safe as has been proven in Fukoshima and Three miles. Americans use single loop cooling circuit in a pressurized reactor which increases thermal efficiency of the plant but decreases safety. Also building high pressure reactor cores of such reactors is difficult and expensive and was one of the reasons that Russians had not adapted them and were building RBMK types right into 1980′s with devastating results at Chernobyl. In my view, Iran would be better served, if it develops its own reactor technology based on non-pressurized designs of heavy water reactors which are extremely safe since coolant loss immediately also causes moderator loss making the reactor inherently safe.

    Something like CANDU, which Iran can design by itself. The only draw back such reactors have is their proliferation risk since they have dual use purpose and can be used to generate both power as well as plutonium for nukes. Since Iran will eventually leave NPT, there is no reason why Iran should worry on that aspect. And in even a longer run, Iran should move towards research on to fast breeder reactors since Iran’s uranium reserves are small and such reactors can benefit Iran as they produce several times more fuel than they consume. As Iran will never be allowed by Axis powers to buy Uranium from outside and Iran will never be able to get its 15% share of Rossing Uranium mine, Iran should conserve as much uranium and thorium as possible for future generation. As it appears, Pakistan has run out of its local uranium reserves and being unable to import it has started to recover uranium from agricultural fertilizer phosphates. Iran should be careful in that regard.

    As for the “jus” and law. These are dead. The only international law that has ever existed is the power. Iran of all nations should know this best, having been around for thousands of years.

    By the way, it is interesting note that Leverett’s book quotes portion of a comment made by someone I do not talk to anymore (from race for Iran site comment section).

  35. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    January 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm
    Yes, but those were first generation gas cooled reactors built for the production of bomb fuel first and electricity second,the iranian plants will be a lot more modern and efficient and hopefully a lot less costly to decommission,also one has to take into account the savings in irans fossil fuels that would be otherwise used to generate electricity,how many barrels of oil/ft of gas does the reactor save per year? times that by 30 and it starts to add up,how much do you think a barrel of oil is going to go for 20-30 years from now $200?,$300? will it even be in dollars,irans strategy is to save its oil/gas for export rather than burning it in its own power plants and considering that the amount is finite and the demand ever increasing its a good strategy

  36. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    January 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm
    Yeah thats kind of what I`d thought you`d say,So in other words you can`t tell me what actual benefits iran gets,and of course iran wants to strengthen it,by that it means get it to actually deliver what it promises but when you have the us and co working to weaken it its an uphill battle at best.For iran at the moment the cost of staying with it is still less than the cost of leaving that is really the only benefit,if you think there are others please don`t hesitate to point them out

  37. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    January 24, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Thank you for your detail comments with most of which I agree.

    I was not aware of the details of Chinese alterations to Shenzhou.

    And you are right, US cannot license what she no longer has – I had not thought aof that point.

    Two quibbles with your otherwise fine response:

    The Agreed Framework between US and DPRK envisioned South Korea supplying a light-water reactor to North Korea. Even for that, North Korea’s electric grid had to be upgraded. US dragged her feet in constructing that reactor, hoping for the North Korean government to collapse. But it did not and the Agreed Framework collapsed under the weight of cheating by both sides.

    Never to be revived again.

    In regards to the ideas of “jus” – there was a European “jus” from the Congress of Vienna until World War I. It was tied to the Land of Europe; it did not include the American, Asian, and African continents.

    Like so many other things such as modern empirical sciences and modern state, its roots are to be found in the Christian thinkers of the Medieval period in Europe.

    I think some of these mullah’s and other Muslim Doctors of religious Science of Islam are best guided to think and develop the necessary intellectual basis for a “jus gentium Islamicum” than haraasing young women (never old women).

    I think, for now, US strategy is to crack Iran, crack Russia, etc. and once those and other lesser independent states are cracked to concenterate on cracking China.

    A bridge too far as the world will not accept the ascendancy of White people again.

  38. Nasser says:

    fyi says: January 23, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I of course agree both regarding Egypt and Iran’s need to concentrate on consolidating her gains.

    But what did you mean regarding Sindh?

  39. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    Welcome back. Many of us benefit greatly from reading your posts.

  40. Kathleen says:

    Watching the Kerry nomination hearings. Appears Senator Menendez is Israel and the I lobbies lap dog. Opened the hearing asking Kerry about sanctions against Iran and Menendez pushing for more pressure. Kerry’s answer was far more diplomatic and fair than Menendez question

  41. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    January 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Iranians should have contingency plans for Pakistan; the Shah of Iran did.

  42. Irshad says:

    Kooshy – thank you for your response.

    Smith – welcome back, hope you stay around for longer this time!

    Where is the IAEA? See what happens when they lose focus of their mission and become anti-Iran agency:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/24/secret-uk-uranium-enrichment-safety

    Also – the ongoing battle between sufi Islam and salafis in Russia’s caucasus region -please note how this is been used in Syria, but against the govt and its supporters – imagine if this model was replicated using the exisitng salafist against the Russian state by US/EU/KSA/Turkey/Qatar – no wonder Putin is not moving on Syria:

    –http://www.powerandpolicy.com/2012/09/11/turncoats-and-converts-make-a-deadly-terrorist-mix/#more-2159

  43. James Canning says:

    Kathleen,

    Yes, Menendez is a regrettable replacement for Kerry at Senate Foreign Relations. Stooge of Aipac, full throttle.

  44. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    How strange you do not want to say whether you read the interview with Ali Akbar Salehi. Or to say whether you agree with his assessment of the benefits of the NPT, for Iran.

    Or, alternatively, Salehi states his position with too much subtlety?

    Do you agree with Salehi that Iran should adopt a secular statement incorporating Khamenei’s fatwa against Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons?

  45. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    Iran may well benefit considerably, in terms of basic economics, from operating nuclear power plants. Saving oil and gas for export, rather than to generate electricity. One must ponder how much oil may be lost, apparently, due to under-investment in the oilfields.

  46. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Britain’s power in Europe after the Napoleonic wars did the most to prevent a general European war for a century. Decline of British power, relative to that of Germany, made war much more likely.

  47. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    The danger of a meltdown at Bushehr seems entirely one that could only be caused by an insane Israeli attack.

    The issue of huge costs from nuclear waste stems from leaking storage facilities, and such leakage is more likely if the geology is less stable.

  48. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Is it not a bit peculiar that Spengler does not simply say Egypt has a population at least 20 million too high?

  49. clint says:

    A tad off-topic but thought your readers may be interested in the expert conversation on the Parchin site (and excellent history of Iran’s nuclear program) at Prof. Joyner’s site:

    http://armscontrollaw.com/2013/01/22/yousaf-butt-pretty-in-pink-the-parchin-preoccupation-paradox/

  50. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    January 24, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Here is the comment, I was talking about in my last post (page 37 of the book). I found it at last, by a deep layer search of RaceforIran.com site: http://www.raceforiran.com/request#comment-46266

    I wonder if you or even I, have been quoted too in the book. Hmmmmm. I am at page 71, so maybe towards the end of the book in a more important section. Never lose hope. So far there are hopeful signs. Pakistan/Saudis/Salafis have been mentioned in the book, quite the same way that I had described them in RaceforIran. Also the need of “WMD” for Iran’s protection and future security can be deduced in an indirect way (which you have argued for and I fully agree with).

    As for agreed frame work, I had watched it on CNN “live” when it was done. I still remember it vividly. It was pretty much like how they are talking to Iran now. Full of future promises which are in reality all hollow. Here lies another misconception that both sides cheated in that framework. Again, the only side that cheated was USA while DPRK held up its end of the bargain and to this day is holding up some parts of that “bargain”. We have to go back to history. DPRK had energy shortages due to sanctions and as well as its bad geography. In a cold country with energy starvation, things can be very difficult. See this night space photo comparing north and south Korean electricity consumption: http://www.oregonquarterly.com/winter2012/images/photo_upfront_korea.jpg

    So North Koreans embarked on a program to build their own nuclear reactors and initiated a program for such a purpose. Since no one was helping them, they did what they knew best. They got hold of some declassified British nuclear reports and reverse engineered in 1980′s an old British nuclear reactor design from those reports as well as from newspaper photos of those reactors. It was not an easy task. It was like reverse engineering an alien space ship technology from hazy photos taken by village boys during wheat harvest. But they did it and the first reactor was of 5 MW power which also produced some extra hot water for heating of a nearby district as well as plutonium which could be used in a weapons program (DPRK was NPT member at the time so the plutonium was put under IAEA safeguards). Then North Korea decided to up the program and started the work on a 50 MW and a 200 MW version of this reactor to produce more electricity as well as heat.

    US knew that such a relatively large reactor of this specific type could produce large amounts of plutonium as byproduct and would enable North Korea to build a large stockpile of nuclear weapons in a short amount of time if North Korea ever left NPT. So US offered DPRK, to buy two light water reactors for its local energy problems in exchange for DPRK to stop its home grown nuclear program. North Korea stopped. US never built anything. Not even a brick was laid. Nothing. If North Koreans had gone ahead with their program, at least they would have 255 MW more electricity today in addition to some 300 MW equivalent of boiling water as well as a size-able nuke stockpile (~100 nukes).

    Also US had promised North Korea to normalize its relations, remove sanctions and as well as never to threaten it with nukes or otherwise. None of those things were implemented. In fact when North Korea subsequently protested that despite its freeze of its nuclear program, US is not holding up its end of the bargain, North Korea was ridiculed in international press and made fun of. US kept saying, suspicions remain over North Korea and the things got so funny that US started to blame North Koreans that they have hand in international cigarrete smuggling. It took North Koreans several years, to understand that US intentions were malign from the first day of that nuclear agreement. In fact when North Korean diplomats used to protest this unfair treatment by Americans in their meetings and point out particulars of violations of the agreement by United States, the American side being more adept at legal matters, would point out to North Korean that those agreements were only made verbally and there is no legal paper proof of it so US can not be held accountable for it. Typical of charlatans.

    The rest is media propaganda. If US wanted to keep North Korea as a member of NPT, it could do so very easily by providing those two reactors which were of no military use whatsoever. US chose to bet on regime change in North Korea. All Iranians should read this history of DPRK with Americans carefully, since those who believe, Iran can reach to an agreement with US on nuclear issue, live in Koo Koo land and in such a land, all you will get for agreeing to US is Koo Koo (not that I have anything against koo koo, I like Koo Koo, but do not know to cook it). No such agreement is possible. US will never give anything useful. That is their nature. The only country that has been able to bleed out technology from US is China. No one else can come even close.

    During the ending days of cold war, Gorbachev met with Reagan to finalize a deal in order to lower the possibility of an accidental nuclear war. Reagan was trying to extract political and economic concession from Soviet Union in order to weaken it further and in return offered Gorbachev the technology for security safety systems for nuclear weapon triggers. Such systems make sure no un-authorized launch of nukes takes place. Gorbachev knowing the Americans, replied back: “Mr President, you will never give us anything. You will not even give us your milk bottling technology”. Which is exactly what happened. US was ready to face an accidental nuclear war but it never gave Russia the technology for nuclear weapons safety. Iran is dealing with such people. Forget about getting anything from them. Just mind they do not steal from you.

    You are right about the laws. In fact, I think even the so called secular laws in the west have deep Christian roots or at least favor Christiandom at the cost of others. Practically secularism is a modern form of Christiandom. Last year I was near around central Asia and I could not help but notice something very interesting. While “secular” military boots were on the ground in Afghanistan, asserting their “hard” authority, on satellite “Afghan” TV channels, there was this constant advertisement by ISAF NATO telling people to call NATO if they have info on any kind of resistance to NATO. The ad had the feel of a Nazi ad in Vichy France encouraging the public to out the resistance. But that was not all.

    I also liked to play with a friend’s short wave radio. The area being the junction of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran and Arab lands, has quite an amusing short wave population of radio channels. Here it becomes even more interesting. Iranian radio (Voice of Tehran, I guess it was) trying to “combat” colonialism and US influence in the region, appealing strongly to Shia constituencies specially broadcasting in local languages, though the signal was weak and most of the time used to be overshadowed by BBC world service which had a much stronger signal pushing the Iranian frequency aside. It was funny to see, the frequencies of Iran and UK fighting each other over a small transistor radio. There was even more. The strongest signals were those of BBC, Chinese stations and Russian stations. You could say by hearing the clear signal that they were being broadcast from mammoth and powerful transmitters probably over 500 KW in power.

    But the most clear, the most powerful shortwave channel was a channel preaching Christianity in Persian. It was non-stop preaching. No news, no nothing. Only Christian preaching in Persian on a very strong signal. How ironic. Boots on the ground, and preaching on the air wave. These things have happened before with different outcomes in different places in different centuries. For example this combination of force and preaching caused the population of red Indians in North America to plummet from over 90 million to 3 million today and still decreasing. I hope Afghans are going to fare better (specially since they have quite good combat skills than red Indians).

    I fully agree with your comment about Iranian mullahs to work on an Islamic legal framework. That is the only way to go and in some aspect the intelligent portion of Iranian mullahs like Khamenei know this very well. But the illiterate types of course have their own sexual fantasies to play with so they have to go to street and harass teenagers, instead of providing for them. As I had said, earlier, sunni Islam is politically, scientifically and philosophically dead, that is why it is being promoted by US and its allies through a variety of packaging from the American flavored secularized ones such as in Turkey or the recent injection of Tahir-ul-Qadri in Pakistan (which BBC Persian was quick to put on its website) to the more notorious ones in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

    The Shia Islam has the opportunity to come out as a victor that is if Iranian mullahs, instead of sniffing the ankles of teenage girls start to put their brains into work for developing a modern Islamic civilization. I have thought over this issue alot and have many ideas but alas. It is not a luxury for Iran but this has become a necessity. Not only for Iran but also for the whole of planet and humanity. As an example I had read some epidemiological studies. Very interesting. It appears humans are going extinct in a dozen generation. Iran including. You see, the birth rates across planet are plummeting as a result of rising female education. The situation is going towards an irreversible path with human extinction at the end of the tunnel. Already in Iran, the fertility rate has gone below the replacement level of 2 per female and is expected as per some studies to touch 1.2; Very alarming. It means that Iran is dying out over coming generations. Secularism is clearly not the answer to this upcoming human problem. Neither is ankle sniffing by illiterate akhonds. Nor is toxic individualism promoted by corporate capitalism. The human race is demanding a path. To survive. Shia Islam can show that path and it has the capacity as well. If only we could have more brainy mullahs.

    And though US will continue to try to dominate, I believe many others have had enough. And although US might think that it can crack Iran or Russia but US itself does not think that it can crack China, that is why for China it is following a policy of balancing instead of cracking. It is trying to raise India and pit it against China and that is why Pakistan has to be taken off India’s back, freeing up India for this task which India itself is enthusiastic to perform. Options currently being pursued for Pakistan are:

    1) Weakening and its dismemberment which is being strongly resisted by Pakistani military

    2) Coercing it to leave China and join India in an economic zone and tackle China under leadership of India and masterdom of Axis powers with this option being promoted by western minded politicians in the country (the biggest impediment being Kashmir issue)

    3) Opening up a new front for Pakistan in order to draw it away from India (nuclear Saddam option for Iran, which I have discussed in detail previously).

    Those like Salehi who think they can cozy up with Americans if they produce a “secular” version of a Shia fatwa inserting it in international “law” and give up Iran’s rights are deeply mistaken. Iran without having nuclear weapons in coming world, is in big trouble. As Leveretts mention in the book, US has even kept the option of a nuclear attack on a non-nuclear Iran. That says alot about American intentions in future with respect to Iran.

    ===============================================

    Nasser says:
    January 24, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Thank you. You are a good guy with a kind heart.

  51. Rd. says:

    For those who continually like to predict imminent collapse of Iran’s economy.

    Is Iranian Hyperinflation a Mirage?

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/hyperinflation-iran-manti-teo.html

  52. kooshy says:

    Now that the west out of having any good options left is pushing for a Muslim inter faith war between Sunnis and Shies which is what I always suspect would come to be the westerners last resort, I would think the opposing side will have no choice but to resort to the same treatment, meaning to shift the war to an in-between religions war meaning to facilitate and expand a war between Muslims and Christians similar to crusades war that will be the strategy that will unify the Muslims again and will terminate a Muslim inter religion war as long as the war with the Christians last.

    History shows since Iran is not in the front line, like before, Iran will mainly stay out of a direct conflict with Christians (Turks and Mediterranean Arabs will do the actual fighting) same as before as a good will she will host her minority faiths like before, what will and can trigger a war between Christians and Muslims will be the killing of Egyptian and Turk Christians. That will be the stage that might unfortunately be upon us. I would suggest western planers read some history.

  53. Rd. says:

    “Lebanon is the gateway to the entire region, and since Saudi Arabia seeks to restore its presence across the Arab world, its first stop was Lebanon. “

    Saudis need to first make their presence in their own land, as a legitimate representative of their own people and stop supporting their terrorist gangs..

    The axis has not learned the lesson of Two wrongs do not make a right!!

    “Jordan’s King Abdullah II reportedly told the Saudis that “Jordan is not weak. We will not accept to be economically blackmailed. It is Jordan that protects the Saudi borders.”

    “In truth, Saudi Arabia does not only face pressure from Jordan and Syria, but also within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). According to the source, the Saudis feel today “that the Kingdom no longer carries the same weight in the organization.” Kuwait and the UAE threatened to pull out of the GCC “if Saudi Arabia continued to back the Salafis.”

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/saudi-looks-lebanon-regional-boost

  54. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    January 24, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you for your comments; I was not aware of how North Korea had developed her nuclear reactors; I always assumed that the Russians had given them that technology.

    As long as Mr. Khamenei is alive, Iran will persist on her current course; I should imagine.

    In regards to Pakistan; there is snow ball’s chance in hell of she being aligned with India against China. She has been practicing China-US balancing since her inception.

  55. James Canning says:

    Smith,

    Chances of a first-strike on Iran, by the US, using nukes, are ZERO.

    So, you claim you understand Iran’s security needs better than Ali Akbar Salehi?

  56. Smith says:

    Irshad says:
    January 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you. Let’s see what happens.

    IAEA is just a colonial institution. I do not believe in UN/international law crap/etc etc. Things like IAEA are there to promote master race interests. They are not there for safety.

    And Russia knows very well, about salafi threat. They have fought them in Afghanistan all through 1980′s. They say, in a meeting of Russian military intelligence generals in mid 1980′s, a General was briefing others about the commanders of the resistance. Most were salafi, wahabi all supported by US and the general explained each one of them, with their their pictures projected on a screen. Until he reached Ahmad Shah Masoud. The general said of him, that he is a true nationalist and not a sell out like others, opining that though he is fighting USSR, the soviet military has respect for him. You see, he was the only Shia. When Russians left, he became an Iranian ally and fought till the end. His family used to live in Iran too, and maybe they still are. A brave man.

    ===================

    Important news, which is not being reported: Novartis is under investigation in US for having sold ophthalmological care products to Iran, things like intra-ocular lenses and Lucentis vitreous injections. How is that for human rights and secularism?

    As I said, Iran must buy/steal/develop its own technologies. Kill the intellectual property unless it belongs to an Iranian. This should be made the moto of Iranian state. Not secularizing fatwas.

    Another important news: North Korea is to conduct another nuclear test. US response? Whimper and begging North Korea not to do it. Military threats, salafi terror, democracy, human rights, proxification, etc etc are not on the table. By the way there are less sanctions on North Korea than there are on Iran. How is that for comparison?

  57. fyi says:

    kooshy says:

    January 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    The Catholic Church concluded 800 years ago that there is no margin a religious war with Islam.

    Protestants have yet to learn that.

    They will, rest assured, but not any time soon.

  58. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Ahmad Shah Masood was not Shia, he was Tajik Panjshiri Sunni. Towards the end, he was allied with Iran. Though “better” (whatever that means) than some of the other warlords, during the post-Soviet civil war he fought against and killed whoever he had to, including against Shias militias and civilians.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Shah_Masood
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_war_in_Afghanistan_%281992%E2%80%931996%29

  59. hans says:

    If only we could have more brainy mullahs.

    They do look at the laws governing stem cell research, more advanced then in many Christian secular countries. Or the acceptance of Darwinism.

  60. Reza Esfandiari says:

    It is interesting that Ray Takeyh is now proposing a grand bargain with Iran:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/opinion/a-first-step-with-iran.html?_r=0

  61. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    January 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    You are most welcome.

    hans says:
    January 25, 2013 at 2:00 am

    That is true. But it is not enough.

  62. Irshad says:

    hans says:
    January 25, 2013 at 2:00 am

    “Or the acceptance of Darwinism.”

    Do the “mullahs” accept Darwininsm – as I am thinking more about human evolution – is this what you mean? If they do accept this, then how do they square the circle, of the creation of Adam (a.s.) as the first human created by God and was sent down to earth, along with Eve (a.s.)? I am pretty suprised by this but will like to hear more knowledgeable peoples p.o.v. especially, fyi, Empty (where are you?), BinB, Kooshy, et al. I know Prof. Seyyed Hossien Nasr does not accept this (who BinB has got beef with ;-)

  63. Irshad says:

    fyi – sorry this is off-the-topic, but I am wondering if you can comment/share your views on this article re: modern empirical science. The author seems to be coming from the same angle as the Perenialist such as Prof. Nasr, Schuon, etc.:

    http://www.uaekhutba.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=11&Itemid=20

    Thank you

  64. BiBiJon says:

    Reza Esfandiari says:
    January 25, 2013 at 8:04 am

    “It is interesting that Ray Takeyh is now proposing a grand bargain with Iran”

    Ray swims with the flow. He had been all for burying the hatchet in the 90s(Clinton). Then he was for sucking it to Iran in 2000s(Bush). And now (Kerry/Hagel) he is for …

    Iran expert cum swim expert in one individual. Wow!

  65. fyi says:

    Irshad says:

    January 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

    There is no circle to square here; God could work through the agencies of the Universe to accomplish his designs. In this particular case, the Evolutionary process – a name we give to a process that has caused the diversity of life on Earth without fully comprehending its mechanisms – gives rise to Adam.

    There is also a tradition from Imam Sadiq – if I be not mistaken – in which he is asked who was before Adam and he stated that before Adam there were other Adams as far away as you care to go back.

    It is likely that Dr. Nasr (the Elder) does not accept the Evolutionary theory since it was used, together with Freudian psychology and the Newtonian Physics, to downgrade the status of man to the level pf physico-chemical processes.

    As I mentioned months ago, there are serious issues with current understanding of evolutionary mechanisms and not just in case of man. Specication of plants is a huge problem and absence of fossil records for intermeidate plant forms is a troubling puzzle. Another is the way the process pollination in flowering plans is tied to the existence of flying insects.

    But I think that lack of comprehension does not imply what Dr. Nasr is trying to accomplish.

  66. fyi says:

    Irshad says:

    January 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

    The essay is largely correct in criticizing scientism; the view that Empirical sciences are True & Certain Knowledge and will lead ever more and increasing knowledge about the Universe and man.

    This type of critique has been voiced by many western Thinkers as well; some Catholic, some Jewish, and some atheists.

    The criticism that Empirical Sciences are predicated on specific metaphysical assumptions are also correct – in Newtonian Physics one has the undefined categories of Causation, Matter, Energy (Work), Absolute Space, and Absolute Time. Maxwell’s Theory of Electromagnetism adds the concept of Field as another undefined category and Einstein’s theories remove absoluteness from Space and Time and Quantum Mechanics adds the concept of State – again undefined.

    [This is a metaphysical hodge-podge that may someday be cleaned up but at the moment it is an incoherent system.]

    But this only pertains to Physics – in other areas of science the metaphysical system of physics is useless – such as in biology where – it seems to me – the teleological paradigm is more useful (although resisted by Life Sciences community since it would/could lead them to God.) Or in human sciences – in Anthropology or in History or in Psychology – where there are several different meta-physical systems competing against one another.

    [If you wish to argue with scientistic people ask them to explain to you the color Green; i.e. ask them "What is the Color Green?" or "Love", or "Beauty"?]

    I have to quibble with this author on one item; “Faith in God”.

    Since the time of Aristotle and his argument of “The Cause that accounts for all other causes” the belief in God is not an act of faith but an act of Reason. What is, in my opinion, an act of Faith is the belief that God cares about his Creation and specifically man. That is the crux of the matter, in my opinion – maintaining belief, in the absence of any metaphysical reliable evidence, that God Loves Man (God- Holy Ghost – Son) and has a purpose for him in His Mind.

    [This is what distinguishes the Semitic religions of Western Asia from other Asiatic religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism; in my opinion.]

    I also think while this essay is consistent with other critiques of scientism, it is lacking a positive thrust.

    In the Western countries, Christian thinkers have been trying to rebut scientism with a philosophic program. Some Catholic thinkers tried to revive Thomism while many Protestant thinkers sought refuge in the Process philosophy of the late A. N. Whitehead.

    For this author, specially since he starts his essay by mentioning “Light”, it would be a good idea to create a scientific philosophy based on the Philosophy of Light of Suhrewardi and thus demonstrate an alternative formulation or basis for empirical sciences within a Muslim milieu.

  67. Irshad says:

    Where India meets Isreal:

    Why are there so many Israeli ex-soldiers in India?
    http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2013/01/why-are-there-so-many-israeli-ex-soldiers-india

  68. hans says:

    @Irshad
    Do the “mullahs” accept Darwinism

    Yes the mere fact that Iran has a space program shows that. The first re-engineered USA drones are now being battlefield tested in Syria. The new drones are complete with night vision and capable of firing missile guided bombs. It is proving quite a success. Well done to the Iranian experts who very quickly mastered the technology.

  69. BiBiJon says:

    Kam Zarrabi: Reflections on the newly published book, Going to Tehran.

    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2013/01/challenging-unchallenged-myths/

  70. James Canning says:

    Geoff Dyer writes in the Financial Times today (“Kerry calls for foreign policy toi begin at home”): “Kerry. . . hinted that he would support allowing Iran to enrich uranium at low levels. . .”

  71. James Canning says:

    Smith,

    You in effect claim China supports the IAEA as part of a “master race” strategy. Absurd.

  72. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    “The US would be willing to talk to Iran together with the other leading powers [P5+1] or on a bilateral basis, [Kerry] said.” I quote from Geoff Dyer’s report in the Financial Times Jan. 25th. Russia’s foreign minister, of course, has urged the US to deal directly with Iran if this will help resolve the nuclear dispute.

    Curiously, FYI claims the US has “nothing” to offer Iran.

  73. James Canning says:

    Michael R. Gordon’s report on the Kerry confirmation hearing yesterday, in today’s New York Times (“Kerry links economics to foreign policy”) failed to mention Kerry’s suggestion the US and the rest of the P5+1 would be willing to accept Iranian enrichment to 5%.

  74. kooshy says:

    fyi says:
    January 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    If the Christian west thinks that it can trigger and stay immune from a Muslim inter faith war it only means they have not read or learned from history.

    In my opinion if the west continues to push and inspire and supply extremist Muslim cells against moderate and Shih Muslims, Iran will have no choice but to push to divert this war toward a war between Muslims and Christian west, which every Christian European country will eventually become involved.

    This war will remain in eastern Mediterranean region for years and will not be permitted to move east because of the Asian states. That is the danger that now exists in the Syria, and all Muslim North African states Turkey’s fake Islamic government can’t stay out. Same goes with all North African Muslim states; in this case the eastern Mediterranean Jewish aircraft carrier will become more of a burden than a fortress. Iranian have publicly warned the westerners on this phenomenon but I believe the westerners see no choice since with or without a religious war they see they are finished in ME.

  75. fyi says:

    kooshy says:

    January 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Iranians have already wrapped themselves in the flags of Islam and Palestine.

    They have claimed a place at the proverbial table by their material and non-material support to Palestinians.

    Thus they have protected themselves from charges of not being True Muslims.

    Support for Israel is an artcile of faith of the American Creed, it is also a part and parcel of the semi-religion of Shoah in Europe.

    They can no more give up on that Jewish Fantasy project in Palestine than Muslims could give up on Palestinians or the Al haram Al Sharif.

    But the Axis Powers lack statesmen that firstly is willing to admit the religious nature of the confrontation with the world of Islam, and secondly, would be willing to negogiate for a cease-fire (the only possibility now).

    The chief advantage of a cease-fire would be to stop the conflict to expand futher; it second advantage would be improvement in the lot of Palestinians who are currently subject to habitual brutality of Israelis.

  76. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    China and Russia both accept the fact Israel is not going to disappear. And that no combination of Arab countries would be put together to change that fact by military means.

    All Arab countries accepted the 2002 Saudi peace plan.

  77. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Is the “Christian West” trying to promote war between the Shia and the Sunnis?

    Makes ZERO sense. Why would US troops have crushed Sunni resistance in Iraq, or caused it to diminish substanitally, if war between Sunnis and Shia was the game plan?

  78. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    Very intelligent and perceptive comments by Kam Zarrabi, that you linked. Thanks. All should read them.

    He is quite right that the Israel lobby largely controls the debate in American newsmedia, regarding Israel/Palestine and, therefore, Iran.

  79. Fiorangela says:

    fyi says: January 25, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    There are different kinds of Protestantism in the United States; the relationship of versions of Christianity to their ethnic matrix is pertinent with respect to unconditional support for Israel.

    British Protestantism is most especially different from German (Lutheran) Protestantism; and the British Protestantism that was first to plant its flag in the American colonies was, itself, bifurcated, as John Kerry pointed out in his comments before a Senate Committee of Hagiography yesterday. If Roger Williams were alive today, he would be treated just as he was in the 1630s: banished from polite company in preference for the “City on a hill” exceptionalist ideology of John Winthrop.

    In a conversation about his book, “Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country – And Why They Can’t Make Peace,” http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/309644-1 author Patrick Tyler explained Moshe Dayan’s “detonator policy,” and further explained how the house-destruction tactics of British soldiers in British mandate Palestine were the example that IDF later adopted and use until this very day.

    Regarding the detonator policy, it is not unlikely that Dayan learned that from his mentor and hero, British Major General Orde Charles Wingate. Wingate was leader and hero to many of Israel’s founding zionist fathers, including Ben Gurion, and he was admired by Winston Churchill. On the other hand, other British military officers thought Wingate too mentally unstable to be trusted. (One wonders if he could have bought a gun in the US). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orde_Wingate

  80. kooshy says:

    Irshad says:
    January 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Irshad

    In practice what one understand with what one believes need not to be the same, (when creation is a belief and evolution is an understanding) that’s called being practical or flexible, especially when one’s beliefs are tolerated as long he or she understands, believes and understandings can and have changed due to circumstances but for traditions to change it takes a lot more time. It seems after Ayatollah Khomeini and especially with the vision of ayatollah Khamenei Iranian clergy and as result the traditional none-westernized Iranian society has become much more tolerant (practical) of modern sciences and societies, as an example one can think of Chess or Caviar and women education. Younger clergies are far more practical on understanding modern societies than the older generation; I have been reading recent posts by Mr. Rasoul Jafarian (clergy) in Khabar Online he seems to be very much against the traditional Khorafat, let say even if one like him did not believe in creation would he come out and say it ? I don’t think that would be practical.

    http://www.khabaronline.ir/detail/272864/weblog/jafarian

    Instead of focusing on Dr. Nasr’s (who now is in his eighties) view on (modern sciences) practicality one would want to know what his son’s views are.

  81. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Fio,
    A long time ago I posted that there are three kinds of Protestantism in the US (derived from Kevin Phillips’ historical analysis).

    One is the Mass Bay Colony Puritan-Cromwellian type which seeks to convert everyone even with the sword if necessary.

    Another is the Virginia Anglican-Episcopalian one which was basically the religion of slaveholders- no room for our kind in that one.

    The third is the ultra-pacificist Quaker strand which is/has been literally killing us because it deems militant resistance to oppression and injustice as evil (interestingly Nixon was a Quaker).

    None of them help us in any way.

    I prefer the living ijtihad of the just wali in ghaybat kubra with all it’s problems, to all the other options, religious or secular.

  82. ToivoS says:

    FYI do I understand you correctly that you reject a view of the world based on evidence? Basically, that is what science is all about. It doesn’t have any deeper meaning than that. Science certainly does not explain everything but it has tremendous explanatory power. Modern theory link physics, chemistry, biology, cosmology, geology into one highly interconnected and internally consistent web. Faith is fine for those who can’t live with the many uncertainties. But it downright cookie to use creation myths proposed by bronze age goatherders to explain human origins. I certainly hope Iranians are not wasting their time studying that in their public schools.

  83. A-B says:

    To Richard Steven Hack
    (January 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm)
    As admitted, I wasn’t patient enough to judge the overall plot of the series (i.e. fighting corruption). Based on my – perhaps too – brief glance I didn’t like the acting or the jokes, even if I think Timothy Hutton is a good actor. I recall the brunette actress from a British sitcom. Of course, I referred to just 45 seconds of one episode only for its (prophetic!) relevance to Iran’s space program as response to fyi’s post.

    Re Argo; I haven’t seen it and probably won’t. However, I’m curious how they explain why the “violent irrational fanatics opposed to Westerners and Western culture” didn’t just chop the head of the “infidel film makers” at first sight, or “stoned them to death”. Apart from the obvious argument, that it would make a ‘short’ film and not a prize winning full feature, one expects a viable explanation especially when it’s supposed to be based on “true” events. I guess, if those labeled “fanatics” don’t behave as expected just proves how irrational they are and, of course, they can’t escape their fate by being rational; that would make them even more irrational [fanatics]. As opposed to rational fanatics, the kind of Wahhabi/Salafis, whom you can ALWAYS rely on!

    But, more likely, I assume, Argo is just another case of the “rational” Westerner outsmarting the “emotional” gullible Oriental. And the prologue, that is praised for making Argo SO balanced, about the 1953 coup – that US so graciously admits to while aggressively pursuing another regime change – actually serves the purpose to show how a handful Americans with $1 million fooled Iranians back in ’53 and derailed Iran’s destiny, and Argo proves Iranians were fooled again, as easily, some 27 years later. But I’m speculating as I haven’t seen the movie.

  84. fyi says:

    ToivoS says:

    January 26, 2013 at 4:11 am

    You misunderstand me as well as empirical sciences and religion and faith.

    You wrote:

    “Modern theory link physics, chemistry, biology, cosmology, geology into one highly interconnected and internally consistent web…”

    That is not a true statement.

    I will take Big Bang Cosmology – there are serious problems with it: the Horizon Problem, the Age of the Universe (13 billion years is too short, given the fact less than a month ago an ancient star of equal age was discovered) and that Big Bang + Inflation violates laws of conservation of energy and matter as well as the baryon and lepton number conservation laws. Other than that, in its positing of Creation ex Nihilo it recapitulates the Genesis.

    I will also like to draw your attention to the fossils of mamals inside of which were fossilized remains of dinosaurs. And yet we have been told that the K-T boundary separates the age of reptiles from that of the mamals. We are never told how mamals could survive the T-K boundary disaster but reptiles did. Just fables, it seems.

    I very much like science but I also know of its limitations – that from a metaphysical point of view – science is not Absolutely Certain Knowledge.

    Rest assured that in Iran, Evolutionary theory is not in danger. But one has to be careful when scientists are feeding one fables rather than hard facts. In the Evolution of man – many things took place simultaneously – the increase in the size of pre-frontal cortex, the alteration of gestation period so that a human baby can be born prematurely, changes in upright position, changes in blood biochemistry and many many more. And yet we are told, in the absence of any evidence, that these were all parts of fortuitous random changes. Well, pick up the book by the late Sir Fred Hoyle on the Mathemtics of Evolution and estimate for yourself the likelihood of so many fortuitous things happening in a relatively short time.

  85. Fiorangela says:

    When my kids were still kids and not the hairy old goats they are today, I read a book about the effects on children of television (and Hollywood movies)that was titled “The Plug-In Drug.” Any kind of addiction exacts a fearsome toll, so I try to choose my addictions wisely; I avoid television and most of Hollywood’s output.

    Recall, back in 2003 when Benji (was Benji a poorly trained puppy or a hapless bear cub?) Netanyahu convinced a House subcommittee to support G W Bush in his quest for war in Iraq, he told the US Representatives that Iran could be brought down by “beaming in Hollywood movies and television, like Beverly Hills 90210; make Iranian young people want the fine clothes and swimming pools and big houses … That’s subversive.

    The Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC is hosting an Iranian Film Festival this month. Think of it as part of a Twelve Step program to counter the plugged-in drug peddlars. It opened Jan 25 and closes Feb 24. http://www.asia.si.edu/events/

  86. Dan Cooper says:

    Western Media Ratcheting Up Anti-Iran Propaganda?

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33719.htm

  87. James Canning says:

    A number of people who post on this site claim the US would never accept Iranian enrichment to 5% or lower. Yet when John Kerry hints in a Senate hearing, that he would accept such enrichment to enable a P5+1 deal with Iran to be achieved, there is no comment from those who claimed this would not happen.

  88. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I take it you agree that Russia and China do not expect Israel to disappear. And that both countries see the Israel/Palestine problem in terms of how to get Israel out of the remaining territories occupied during the June 1967 war.

  89. James Canning says:

    Bussed-In Basiji,

    Most of the settlers in what became Massachusetts, in the first half of the 17th Century, were “Dissenters”, who wanted to escape control by the “Established Church”.
    Virginia, by contrast, as you note, was settled largely by supporters of the Established Church (Church of England, aka Anglican).

    The “Dissenters” wanted to control their own “established” churches.

  90. Smith says:

    fyi,

    As you remember we had a discussion in RaceforIran, regarding the need for an Islamic NATO like organization protecting Islamic interests, with Iran playing the role US plays in NATO. Here is a development in that regard: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/01/26/285690/iran-proposes-islamic-military-org/

    Do you think such an organization will be necessary/helpful to enforce your idea of jus gentium islamicum? And to what extent? Do you think we will see this arrangement in our life time? (that is in this generation)

  91. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    January 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm
    The events you`re talking about happened 5-10 years ago I think you`ll agree that a hell of a lot has changed since then both regionally and globally.I`ve always thought that when it came to the middle east western policy was far from rational at best now if you want an example of schitzoid western policies one of the best and latest is the french “intervening” in mali to fight the bad jihadis,who got most of their weapons from libya thanks to the “intervention” there,while at the same time providing material support for the good jihadis in syria and musing about possible “intervention” there

  92. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    January 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Yes, it is critical to form such an alliance – the record of the last 100 years clearly indicates that.

    A pre-requisite would be a much more powerful Iranian state – almost certainly with latent nuclear capability as well as much more prosperous than now.

    And I think you will need to have Pakistan and Iran forming the core states.

    No we will not see it since Muslim leaders as well as Muslim populations are not ready for it.

    The theoretical basis of such a structure in defense of a commonwealth does not exist either.

    You really need someone with the intellectual calibre of the late Mr. Khomeini for this.

    By that I mean that he amalgamated the principles of repulicanism – as developed in Europe – with those of Islam.

    Likewise, you need someone to take the ideas of Ummah and combine them with the ideas of jus gentium that came out of Europe.

    The problem is not just Islamic Thought vs. European Thought but also that the physical settings of jus gentium, which in Europe was tied to land – has changed; a jus gentium must be now concieved over Land, Sea, Air, and Space.

    If Muslim Doctors of Religion wanted to be useful, they would concentrate on this.

  93. Nasser says:

    fyi says: January 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    “And I think you will need to have Pakistan and Iran forming the core states.

    No we will not see it since Muslim leaders as well as Muslim populations are not ready for it.”

    - How about something more modest? A Shiite Crescent involving Iran’s current allies with Iran being the core state?

    Of course then too Iran would need nuclear weapons and a larger more prosperous, technologically advanced economy. But Iran and Iraq have a lot of oil and such a Shiite super alliance or super state can achieve a lot.

    Doesn’t that seem more plausible to you than some grand Islamic alliance? I mean the Americans certainly seem to fear such an outcome and think it a real possibility.

  94. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    January 27, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Yes, you are right, I did not think of that possibility.

    If we are truly living in a critical historical junction in which a Shia version of the Vatican is going to emerge – the Qum-Najaf Axis – then it follows that something like Sassanian Confederacy can be attempted. Since the Shia Vatican will be able to define Islam for followers of Shia Islam and thus put an end to any upstart to claim to know Islam.

  95. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    The issue is whether Iran can make a deal with the P5+1, and thus avoid more sanctions, possible blockade, and an end to Iran’s nuclear programme entirely.