Suppressing Reality-Based Analysis: Chomsky, the Leveretts, and America’s Iran Debate

Mainstream reaction to our new book, Going to Tehran:  Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, underscores some important realities about America’s Iran debate—and about the political and cultural obstacles to truly constructive change in American foreign policy.  Flynt addressed this point last week on “The Monitor,” a news analysis program hosted by Mark Bebawi and Otis McClay for KPFT, Pacifica Radio’s Houston station.  (To listen to the interview, click here; Flynt is the second half of the program, so those who want to go directly to him should scroll forward to just slightly past the halfway mark.)

In his first question, Mark Bebawi underscores that both of us are people who have spent “a lot of time in the institutions of power,” with connections to “all sorts of fairly well respected within the mainstream” organizations (e.g., the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and, at various points, prominent Washington think tanks).  He commends Going to Tehran as “full of logical thinking based on history.”  He notes, though, that because the book’s analyses and arguments are “going against the tide,” mainstream reaction to Going to Tehran is “full of all sorts of accusations about what your motives might be” for having written itincluding “everything from accusations of being agents of the Iranian government to being a disgruntled employee.”  Flynt responds,

We are taking on a very well entrenched mythology about Iran—about its foreign policy, about its internal politics, about how the United States deals with it.  Particularly in the post-Cold War era, America has embraced some very, very dangerous mythologies about different parts of the world, about America’s role in the world—I think that’s an important part of how we got into the terrible blunder and crime of the Iraq War.

My wife and I watched that one from the inside, when all the institutions that Americans are supposed to rely on to push back against bad policy ideas, against bad analysis, against bad arguments—institutions like Congress, media, think tanks, public intellectuals—with a few honorable and courageous exceptions, those institutions basically rolled over for the executive branch.  And we were determined that, this time around, someone was going to ask the hard questions, make the kind of countervailing arguments that should have been made before the Iraq invasion, but weren’t.

But if you’re going to take that task on, you’re going to be confronting, as I said, a lot of well entrenched myths, with some very powerful constituencies and groups and interests that are identified with those myths.  And they will come at you with everything they’ve got.

The interview goes on to consider whether American policy toward Iran has changed very much during Barack Obama’s presidency, to dissect some of the specific myths that distort America’s Iran debate (on Israel, nuclear weapons, and terrorism), and to explore why America’s Iran policy continues on such a dysfunctional course.  We, however, want to focus on Mark’s initial question on mainstream reaction to Going to Tehran and what it says about the obstacles to really serious debate over American foreign policy.

In this context, we also want to highlight a brilliant piece by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian last month, “How Noam Chomsky Is Discussed,” see here.  Glenn argues that “one very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, ‘style’ and even mental health of those who challenge them…as a means of impugning, really avoiding, the substance of the critique.”  As Glenn lays out in compelling detail, “Nobody has been subjected to these vapid discrediting techniques more than Noam Chomsky.”

To illustrate his thesis about mainstream media treatment of dissident voices, Glenn dissects The Guardian’s own reporting on Prof. Chomsky’s recent Edward W. Said Lecture in London; the address, “Violence and Dignity—Reflections on the Middle East,” focuses to a considerable degree on Iran as a target of U.S. and Western efforts to dominate the region.  Glenn aptly describes The Guardian’s reporting on the speech as

“infused with these standard personality caricatures that offer the reader an easy means of mocking, deriding and scorning Chomsky without having to confront a single fact he presents.  And that’s the point…[for Chomsky] rationally but aggressively debunks destructive mainstream falsehoods that huge numbers of people are taught to tacitly embrace.  But all of that can be, and is, ignored in favor of hating his ‘style,’ ridiculing his personality, and smearing him with horrible slurs (‘self-hating Jew’).”

Though Glenn does not include it in this litany, Chomsky has also periodically been pilloried as an “apologist” for various resistance movements and non-Western leaders who displease the United States.  Glenn goes on to comment,

“What’s particularly strange about this set of personality and style attacks is what little relationship they bear to reality.  Far from being some sort of brutal, domineering, and angry ‘alpha-male’ savage, Chomsky—no matter your views of him—is one of the most soft-spoken and unfailingly civil and polite political advocates on the planet.  It’s true that his critiques of those who wield power and influence can be withering—that’s the central function of an effective critic or just a human being with a conscience—but one would be hard-pressed to find someone as prominent as he who is as steadfastly polite and considerate and eager to listen when it comes to interacting with those who are powerless and voiceless…

What is at play here is this destructive dynamic that the more one dissents from political orthodoxies, the more personalized, style-focused and substance-free the attacks become.  That’s because once someone becomes sufficiently critical of establishment pieties, the goal is not merely to dispute their claims but to silence them.  That’s accomplished by demonizing the person on personality and style grounds to the point where huge numbers of people decide that nothing they say should even be considered, let alone accepted.”

By referencing Glenn’s article here, we do not mean to compare ourselves to Noam Chomsky—among other reasons, whatever abuse we have suffered from our critics hardly comes close to the accumulated ad hominem vituperation directed at Prof. Chomsky for decades.  But we want to make the analytically crucial point that  much of the critical reaction to Going to Tehran and our other work on Iran and U.S.-Iranian relations—including attacks on our character, our motivations, our personalities, our “style”—is, in important respects, reminiscent of the assaults launched against Prof. Chomsky over the years.  And such attacks are directed against us for much the same reason that they have been directed against Chomsky—as Glenn puts it so well, to enable “the substance of [our] critique to be avoided in lieu of alleged personality flaws.

Consider just a few examples of mainstream media treatment of us and our book:

–Expatriate Iran “experts” whose own analytic records are marked by serial misreadings of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy and internal politics are given platforms in mainstream outlets like The New Republic, Survival (the journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies), and the Wall Street Journal—not to take on, in any intellectually serious way, our historically documented, thoroughly referenced assessments of these matters, but to dismiss us as “morally deformed” and “apologists” for evil.  (Anti-Islamic Republic Iranian expatriates aren’t the only ones to label us as “apologists.”  No less than Dennis Ross describes us this way—and, to be fair, what American knows more about explaining away another country’s crimes than Dennis Ross—as has The New Republic in its own editorials.)

–Because Hillary is Jewish, interned at AIPAC as a young student, worked at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy early in her career, but has clearly moved far beyond the pro-Israel mantras that warp America’s Middle East debate, Jeffrey Goldberg opined in The Atlantic that she has “lost her bearings.”  Not content to go after us with unfounded assertions about our mental health, pro-Israel publications and Iranian expatriate opponents of the Islamic Republic also claim that we are somehow cashing in by arguing for a fundamentally different U.S. strategy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran (another lie that has been given wider circulation by Jeffrey Goldberg).

–The New York Times assigned its “review” of our book to one of the leading journalistic cheerleaders for the Green movement which, after Iran’s 2009 presidential election, was romanticized by Western pundits as a mass popular uprising poised to sweep away the Islamic Republic, perhaps within a few months.  The mainstream commentariat has never forgiven us for our utterly accurate appraisal of the Greens’ weaknesses and our spot-on assessment that, even at its height, the movement never represented anything close to a majority of Iranians living in their country.  The Times review would have readers think that, by being right when everyone else (including the reviewer) were spectacularly wrong, we are morally dubious “partisans” whose analyses shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Those specimens all come from our declared intellectual and political enemies.  One of the more remarkable aspects of critical reaction to Going to Tehran is how even some commentators who profess openness to the basic idea of “engaging” Iran want to read us out of proper policy debate because we refuse to endorse conventional but ill-informed and un-nuanced criticisms of human rights conditions in the Islamic Republic.  So, for example, the National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes,

“Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, husband-and-wife renegade former officials in the George W. Bush administration, have an idea.  President Obama should execute a Nixon-in-China approach with Tehran:  Leap 180 degrees from a policy of isolation to all-out engagement…Maybe they have a point, but the Leveretts don’t stop there.  They say accommodation is imperative because Tehran is gaining strength (despite the imminent loss of its only ally, Syria’s besieged Bashar al-Assad); the legitimacy of the regime is unquestioned (the once-powerful ‘Green’ democracy movement was always marginal, they say); and Washington has no choice but to embrace the mullahs.  Besides, are the mullahs really so much worse than we are?  ‘The U.S. government simply has no credibility to address human-rights issues in Iran,’ Flynt Leverett said.  It seemed a bit much.”

“It seemed a bit much.”  Notwithstanding pages of analysis of Iran’s regional position and strategy, notwithstanding the reality that Assad’s government isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, notwithstanding a whole chapter with reams of actual data on the 2009 election and the Greens’ brief rise and rapid fall—all that is dismissed with five words:  “It seemed a bit much.”  Likewise, the sad reality that the United States, as a matter of policy, is only interested in the selective, instrumental leveraging of human rights concerns to undermine governments it doesn’t like has been very clearly documented.  Washington has co-opted—and corrupted—the human rights agenda; that’s why it has no credibility to address human rights in Iran.  Those who believe that, as long as America is running a dirty war against the Islamic Republic (including economic warfare, cyber-attacks, and support for groups doing things inside Iran that, most other places in the world, Washington would condemn as “terrorism”), it can credibly champion human rights there are deluded.  But this, too, seemed a bit much for Hirsh.

To further discredit us, Hirsh compares us and our book—and he doesn’t mean it as a compliment—to John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and their The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  Like Chomsky, Mearsheimer and Walt have by-now considerable experience with people attacking their characters, motives, and personalities rather than dealing with the arguments they raise in their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  For the record, while we disagree with a few specific points in their book, we admire its authors tremendously not just for their courage, but also for the bounty of important insights their book offers.  We are proud and humbled to be compared with them; we hope that Going to Tehran might contribute as much as their book to opening up additional intellectual space for serious discussion of what’s wrong with America’s Middle East policy.

We should perhaps credit Hirsh with using more than five words to dismiss us.  He also describes how, a few days after hearing us talk about Going to Tehran, he saw the debut of Maziar Bahari’s new movie, Forced Confessions—which, according to Hirsh, “describes how secret police have turned Iran into a brutal world of Kafkaesque detentions and tortured confessions.  Bahari was put on public display in 2009 and forced to state that foreign agents incited the Green movement—evidence the regime was actually terrified of the uprising.”  But the most damning part?  “Flynt and Hillary did not attend the screening.”

That’s right—probably because we’re too busy trying to keep our country from starting another strategically and morally calamitous war to indulge an expatriate Iranian-Canadian dissident with a burning desire that the Islamic Republic fall and Iran become a secular liberal state, even if that’s not what most Iranians living inside their country want.  More broadly, Hirsh’s rejection of our argument for strategically-grounded engagement with the Islamic Republic (an argument for which he professes sympathy) because we won’t pay obeisance to Washington norms requiring those advocating better relations with Iran to modulate their advocacy with periodic expressions of disgust with human rights conditions there highlights a powerful barrier to a more rational Iran debate.  For Hirsh is not alone.  We’ve had any number of people—including some for whom we have great respect and even affection—privately counsel us, before Going to Tehran was published and after, to moderate our “tone.”  For some, this meant fewer references to “the Islamic Republic” and more to “Iran.”  For others it meant regular acknowledgement, even if only in passing, of various “deplorable acts” by Iran’s government.

We have declined to follow such advice, regardless of how well-intended we knew it to be from some of its sources.  We haven’t followed it because doing so would mean buying into and advancing a narrative crafted (whether everyone espousing it realizes or not) to delegitimize the Islamic Republic of Iran and, ultimately, to take America to war against it—a point that Chomsky, in his own way, has also made.  Overwhelmingly, the available evidence indicates that the majority of Iranians in Iran support the basic model of the Islamic Republic, which has delivered vastly better lives for most Iranians than was possible at the time of the Iranian Revolution.  A significant number of Iranians may want the Islamic Republic to evolve in important ways—but they don’t want to get rid of it entirely.  To suggest otherwise is both intellectually and morally irresponsible.

Those who believe they can indulge self-gratifying criticisms of human rights conditions in Iran while continuing to insist that they are opposed to American military aggression against the Islamic Republic are, in some ways even more dangerously deluded.  You can’t have it both ways.  For in the narratives Americans construct to justify their wars, the United States does not go to war to defend its interests; it does so to liberate othersUntil those trying to have it both ways understand that they can’t, too many of those who claim to oppose a U.S.-initiated war against Iran will, with their facile criticisms of “human rights” there, be making such a war more likely.

Similarly, those who think Washington can somehow “engage” Tehran but make human rights and secular democratization a core part of the diplomatic dialogue are also dangerously deluded.  For what political order—especially one focused on restoring and protecting its country’s independence and effective sovereignty after decades of Western domination—would agree to negotiate its internal political transformation with the leading Western powerTo avoid war, the United States will have to pursue rapprochement with the Islamic Republic as it is, not as some wish it to be.  And this means accepting the Islamic Republic as, for most Iranians, a legitimate (even if flawed) state.

In closing, we are very pleased to note that we will be taking part in an event, “Iran and American Foreign Policy:  Where the US Went Wrong,” with Noam Chomsky at MIT next month, sponsored by MIT’s Technology and Culture Forum.  We are excited at the prospect and grateful to Professor Chomsky.  We hope that this event will contribute to expanding the range of “acceptable” debate about Iran in American political discourse.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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90 Responses to “Suppressing Reality-Based Analysis: Chomsky, the Leveretts, and America’s Iran Debate”

  1. Unknown Unknowns says:

    This documentary just aired on IRIB tonight. It bears heavily on foreign policy concerns and is quite good in that it goes against the dominant paradigm, so I thought people here in this forum would appreciate the link:

    http://undergrounddocumentaries.com/uncontained-iran-stronger-than-ever-irans-nuclear-program-full-version/

  2. Iranian@Iran says:

    Flynt and Hillary Leverett are very popular among academics, students, and experts who follow Iran American relations. Their courage in the face of their morally bankrupt antagonists shows that America still has its fair share of heroes.

  3. James Canning says:

    Fascinating and compelling piece! Bravo, Leveretts.

  4. James Canning says:

    Fans of Noam Chomslky should not miss the “Lunch with the Financial Times” interview with him in the FT recently.

  5. nico says:

    This post from the Leveretts is wonderful.
    They truly call a cat a cat.
    They frankly say that the Irak war was a blunder and a crime.
    On top of that it was a strategic fiasco, thus undefensible.
    That nobody was held accountable, and the same policymakers still haunting the alleys of power and roaming the MSM without being seriously challenged is unforgivable. Denis Ross or John Bolton like.

    That needs to said again and again in all fora available.

  6. nico says:

    Nasser, Smith

    The free oil to pak is not marketable to Iran public opinion.
    How Iran leaders shall explain that the subsidies are harmfull and need to be slashed out and offer subsidized oil to Pak in a same movement !
    That is pipe dream.
    In addition such plans are difficult to implement in a formal and contractual way.
    And once you provide such advantage to a neighbour it will take it as granted and it would be too difficult to ramp down when needed in the future.
    Pak being nuclear armed it would be near impossible to cut the free flow if it would impact the life of many in that country. Like a junky lacking his fix and becoming somewhat agressive and ready to commit the lowest crimes to get what he needs.

    No, if such scenario is to be implemented it would need the oil or gas to be sold at market price to pak.
    However the earning could be used by Iran in investment in Pak.
    It would be much easier to cut the investment than cut the oil flow.
    On top of that Iran would choose the investments and benefit from by keeping property of it.

    I could not see any other way to implement such plans.

  7. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Israel’s new Strategic Affairs Minister: ‘West must threaten Iran over nuclear plans’
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israels-new-strategic-affairs-minister-west-must-threaten-iran-over-nuclear-plans-8563515.html

  8. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Now do you get it?

    Cheney’s Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War
    http://www.zcommunications.org/cheneys-halliburton-made-39-5-billion-on-iraq-war-by-angelo-young?

  9. kooshy says:

    Some real reporters like rest of us are becoming fed-up with US/Western reporters reports on Iran a good sobering article to read

    The pain of following Iran in U.S. media
    By Rami G. Khouri

    The Daily Star

    -http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Columnist/2013/Apr-06/212795-the-pain-of-following-iran-in-us-media.ashx#ixzz2PpGzQ8vh

  10. Richard Steven Hack says:

    “And such attacks are directed against us for much the same reason that they have been directed against Chomsky—as Glenn puts it so well, to enable “the substance of [our] critique to be avoided in lieu of alleged personality flaws.””

    Oh, how well do I know the feeling, here on this site! :-)

    “Those who believe they can indulge self-gratifying criticisms of human rights conditions in Iran while continuing to insist that they are opposed to American military aggression against the Islamic Republic are, in some ways even more dangerously deluded. You can’t have it both ways. For in the narratives Americans construct to justify their wars, the United States does not go to war to defend its interests; it does so to liberate others. Until those trying to have it both ways understand that they can’t, too many of those who claim to oppose a U.S.-initiated war against Iran will, with their facile criticisms of “human rights” there, be making such a war more likely.”

    Absolutely correct.

    As I’ve said, the best way to deflect such attacks is to 1) dismiss them as irrelevant since the US is hypocritical about such things anyway when it suits the US purpose, and 2) as you correctly state, because to concentrate on them merely gives ammunition to the war-mongers.

  11. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Sanctions are here to stay for a very very very long time. It is better to stop thinking that Iran will ever sell oil to heavy weight western nations. The Axis powers have decided that.

    Egypt is very much in need of help. The IMF and WB are pressuring them to breaking point. The new regime in place is fragile and needs a breathing space. There is already a bread crisis there. Situation is dire. It is better to make a friend or atleast a neutral party out of MB, or for that matter any non-wahabi Egyptian element than letting them suffer and wahabis more powerful. As you can see, Saudis and west are making sure that they suffer. Iran should help. This help will isolate the minority wahabi voices there and will buy Iranians and Shias good will. A country that controls Suez canal is important for Iran. Arabs are not a unified voice. What you are referring to are wahabi/salafi elements. Iran should help those Arabs opposing these wahabis. Egypt is ready to receive such an aid.

    North Korea is one of the most energy starved nations on planet earth. The entire country descends into darkness, upon night fall. An infusion of 100,000 barrels of oil per day for the next 10 years will have huge effects on that country. Their GDP will triple easily. North Korea spends more than 25% of GDP on military. So with tripling of GDP, their military is going to become even stronger. This all, at a minimum cost to Iran. All these should be done to teach the western block a lesson. Iran should not sit down and take the economic hits. It should hit back. Japan for example, should know that Iran is not an impotent nation, that will sit down and watch Japanese replace their Iranian crude oil imports with Saudi crude. Japanese should know that blocking Iranian bank accounts has cost associated with it.

    The same goes for South Koreans who even have frozen the money a private Iranian company (Entekhab Electroics) had paid to Daewoo Electronics in order to buy it. These two nation should start to know that when they pressurize Iran on the order of US, then Iran can pressurize them through North Korea. The whole idea is to increase economic costs for the Axis power.

    Right now Axis powers and their wahabi allies are dragging Pakistan to have negotiation with Taliban in Qatar. When Pakistan refuses TTP strikes in Pakistan. What do you think Qataris, Saudis and UAE want of Pakistan? Peace in Afghanistan? They do not care about any peace in mountains of Afghanistan. They want to convince Pakistan to open a new front against Iran in Afghanistan in return for Taliban leaving Pakistani territory. They want to make a highly obnoxious anti-Iran Afghanistan. Iran should not allow Pakistan to fall into this role. It will be detrimental for a non-nuclear Iran to fight a proxy war with a nuclear weapons state with huge funding from Wahabis.

    As for Azerbaijan, it all depends on Iran. Since the “liberation” of Azerbaijan, Iran’s foreign policy with regard to that nation, has been ridiculous. I remember that in early 1990′s when Azerbaijanis were in deep financial trouble and wanted to lay a pipeline for selling their oil (as Armenia would not allow), Iranians first were refusing them and then were demanding such hefty transit fees that Azerbaijan had to abandon the pipeline. The good policy would have been to allow them free transit for ten years and probably even more with subsequent renegotiation. But alas at that time we had Rafsanjani whose sons were running rampant around Iran.

    No, strategic vision on his part. The most important thing, that IRI could do was to revive Shia Islam there. Despite its name IRI, has not done anything for the growth of Shia Islam even in the Shia lands such as Azerbaijan. Wahabis are more successful with their conversion rates. The “lost sheep” of Azerbaijan were never offered guidance from IRI. It is very shameful. The most powerful force on earth is the power of religion. Despite IRI claiming supremacy on that power, it has nothing to show for it except in South Lebanon (and that existed even before the birth of IRI). Aliyev is not a Marja’. Azeri Shias needed a Marja’ with guts to lead them. Till day, they do not have that. When they get that, expect a shia revolution there. Every thing is not about this world. Sometimes people rise up in this world purely for the reasons to do with the next world. Iran should have commanded such authority in Azerbaijan or for that matter in alot of places. As of now, Iranian religious scholars have not done their homework.

  12. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I also advise to read the link FYI posted about the lecture of ethics by Ayatollah Amoli. It is a good read.

  13. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Yes, I knew that. But there are other dimensions. Wahabis are gaining foot in Egypt. And Egypt has said they can not guarantee the safety of Iranians (Imagine if they are kidnapped and slaughtered on camera the favorite method of wahabis). It only makes it more important for Iran to help Egyptian regime to isolate these wahabis. Muslim Brotherhood if nurtured can become a very potent anti-wahabi force, competing with sunni base recruits in all countries. Mr Khamenei of all people should know this very well since he used to translate Muslim Brotherhood literature eg. Qutb’s books. Egypt should not be allowed to become a wahabi base.

  14. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    I am in complete agreement with you over Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    You make a very strong case about North Korea. I am pretty certain Pakistan will never sell nukes to Saudi Arabia. But North Korea might actually do so to Iran. I should add that I do have some sentimental weakness towards North Korea. They have been Iran’s one true friend and should be foremost credited for Iran’s missile program.

    I am sorry I am not convinced on Egypt.

    And I will have to reflect more on Azerbaijan to form a strong opinion on the matter.

    The case with Pakistan just seems obvious; it would hold true strategic consequence.

  15. Nasser says:

    nico says: April 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    “The free oil to pak is not marketable to Iran public opinion.
    How Iran leaders shall explain that the subsidies are harmfull and need to be slashed out and offer subsidized oil to Pak in a same movement !
    That is pipe dream.”

    - I acknowledge the political difficulties but I wouldn’t exactly call it a pipe dream either. Would the Iranian public rather just sit on their asses while Khuzestan is stripped away from Iran? Iranians have to be convinced to think of this as a part of their defense budget. I think Iranians understand the importance of Pakistan. Pakistan is a country of immense strategic consequence. This can really revolutionize Iran’s regional position. Pakistan is just too important to be ceded to the Saudis. And Iranians can’t possibly expect to influence a country of 180 million people armed with nuclear weapons for nothing. You will probably have a much harder time convincing them of the utility of Afghans, Jordanians or Egyptians.

    “And once you provide such advantage to a neighbour it will take it as granted and it would be too difficult to ramp down when needed in the future. Pak being nuclear armed it would be near impossible to cut the free flow if it would impact the life of many in that country. Like a junky lacking his fix and becoming somewhat agressive and ready to commit the lowest crimes to get what he needs.”

    - This is a very good point. I am sorry for not addressing it earlier. Iran must hedge its position on Pakistan. This is yet another reason why Iran must eventually go nuclear. But a quarter million barrels of oil is a small price to pay in my opinion for gaining security to its East.

  16. Pirouz says:

    This could have been an appropriate quote before one of the chapters of “Going to Tehran”:

    “There are things they tell us that sound good to hear, but when they have accomplished their purpose they will go home and will not try to fulfill our agreements with them.”

    Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (Sitting Bull)

  17. fyi says:

    Smith says:
    April 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    I think not, they clearly have been very active in the Shia revival both in Lebanon and in Iraq and now in Bahrain as well as in Afghanistan.

    In my opinion, they could have no traction in Azerbaijan – that state is anti-religious and anti-Iran, it has created a lie in lieu of history and pushing for Shia Islam there is akin to subverting that state.

    But where Iranian Shia, in my opinion, could have found traction, over decades and centuries, is the People’s Republic of China. There is a great spiritual emptiness there – there is family and Han racialist solidarity, yes. But nothing in between.

    For a hundred years, from 1552 to 1644, the Jesuit emissaries to Imperial China studied her Traditions in the hope of finding a way to convert them to Christianity. Half way through, they did found a way of formulating Christianity in a manner that would accommodate Chinese norms and customs such as ancestor worship. But the Catholic Church was pre-occupied with other issues. And by the time those issues were no longer of importance to the Church, the situation in China had changes. The Christians lost their historic opportunity in China and instead became identified with the imperialists and those who humiliated and despoiled China.

    I think Shia Islam of Iran has a chance in China. You see, Islam on the Iranian plateau has accommodated Noruz – the Spring Festival. This was, in fact, a rite of Ancestor Worship and the “Haft-Sin” is the table set of the ancestors’ consumption in the After Life. [At least 6 items in New Year Table of Noruz are identical to those used in a similar spread in the rites of Ancestor Worship in the Far East.]

    Furthermore, the Shia reverence for the Ahl Beit as well as for other holly men, sufi pirs, and others is consistent with Chinese practices.

    Lastly, since (religious) philosophy is still alive in Iran and among the Shia – however small a group that might be – the possibility of answering the Chinese in a rational manner exists.

    Iranian Shia is the only form of Quranic Revelation – indeed the only form of Islam, the True Religion – that has any chance of traction in China in my opinion. It can supply rationally (at least a few of the Usulis could do that) , it can accommodate ancestor worship, just like it accommodated Noruz, and it does not have any issue with reverence for the holy men.

    The only issue that I see is the dependence of Chinese on pigs – 300 million if I recall correctly. Perhaps his could be accommodated by giving them a dispensation for a few hundred years during which they can be weaned from eating pork. Or, it might be that some pig disease that is communicable to men will cause them to abandon consuming the flesh of swine.

  18. fyi says:

    Smith says:
    April 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Yes, sanctions are here to stay and when they are removed it will only because Axis Powers are harmed more by them than Iran; certainly no less than 2 decades.

  19. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    April 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Then that state should be subverted by aggressive shia preaching. I am of the opinion, this is only a matter of time. Below an anti-Iran wealthy upper class segment of Azerbaijani society, trouble is brewing. Corruption is at an all time high. Political opposition is non-existent. It is a perfect ground for the growth of Shia Islam.

    As for China, I agree. The only problem might actually be the Chinese state. In Xinjiang, where the majority of population are sunni, there are great restrictions imposed by Chinese state. Even the Imam of mosques have to read from script during friday prayers with all mosque activity video recorded and sent to Beijing for analysis. Another point is the Chinese state social engineering of them. Almost all their females are admitted to universities, usually studying non-professional humanities and getting advanced degrees which are of no use. On the other hand it is made difficult for males to get to university. The result is really strange. The girls do not want to marry the less educated males. They prefer to become prostitutes. In Xinjiang, 20 dollars will go a long way. The place is full of hotels. No other industry is allowed. Industrial production only happens in the east. There have been some growth of hard line sunnism there for some time. Though it is difficult to say, whether it is home grown, American grown or Pakistanis trying to keep China in check.

    As for pigs, the next big Influezna pandemic with virulence of Spanish flu or greater, in today’s world would mean several hundred million deaths (~10% of world’s population). The result will be as devastating as a nuclear world war minus radiation fall out. This inevitability will happen solely due to Chinese pig consumption. I have always viewed this as the greatest short term threat to human species. Only after that, the world will come to its senses.

  20. nico says:

    Nasser, Smith,

    What you are speaking about is already taking place.

    I do not know the specific content of Iran, pak, china arrangement, but you know that a 400 000 bpd refinery is planned to be build buy iran near gwadar.
    In addition an oil pipeline is planned as well.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwadar

    I underlined the significance of the agreement when it was publicized few thread back.
    Actually it came with the final dignature of the IP gas pipeline between Iran and Pak
    And the take over of the full management of the gwadar port by china from singapore.
    And the loan for 500 millions USD handed by China to Pak to finance the IP pipeline.
    And it was publicized that a major security deal was agreed upon between Iran and Pak.
    All thos information came online during 2 weeks, just before Almaty 1.

    I provided all the relevant links in the previous posts.

    So what does it suggest ?
    First that a major economic, security and energy deal was cut between Iran, pak and China.
    Second that India has been strategically marginalized. It seems much likely that that IPI is over and is now replaced by IPC…
    It also suggests that influence over Afghanistan after US withdrawal has been discussed and that an understanding has been found between the 3 parties.
    And it seems the east of Iran is definitely lost to the US.

  21. nico says:

    Iran then screamed that no discount was applicable or agreed.
    However, I suggested back then, for such agreement to be born, some major concession from Iran has been much likely been granted to Pak.
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/17/289431/no-gas-price-discount-to-pakistan/

  22. Karl.. says:

    How surprising.
    This is why Iran wont accept any direct talks.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/8/secretary-state-john-kerry-israel-pushing-peace-pl/

    Weeks ago Kerry said US want talks with Iran, now, Kerry threat and insinuate that Israel could attack and US will back them.

  23. Sineva says:

    Pirouz says:
    April 9, 2013 at 1:03 am
    I agree completely

  24. Sineva says:

    Nasser says:
    April 9, 2013 at 12:20 am
    There could be real opportunities for iran as pakistan is increasingly dissatisfied with the us and is tilting towards china,the fact that pakistan went ahead with the pipeline despite intense us pressure shows that pakistan is willing to put its own interests first,also anything that counters saudi wahabism and its influence can only be a good thing.Iran not only has to drive out the us and its influence in the region but also stamp out or contain wahabism

  25. Sineva says:

    Smith says:
    April 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm
    You make some excellent points,iran has been far to passive it takes the hits of sanctions and does little in response,it should have made it clear to countries like greece that unless they signed long term contracts with iran guaranteeing oil sales they would be immediately cut off and required to pay in full all outstanding fees but iran just meekly accepted the sanctions.A strong dprk would also be in irans interests.Wars are not won by being on the defensive

  26. nico says:

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/516238/a-step-forward-pakistan-iran-to-sign-mou-for-oil-refinery-on-march-11/

    “If Pakistan and Iran succeed in completing the oil refinery and the pipeline, it may prompt China to revive its projects of establishing an oil refinery in Gwadar and laying an oil pipeline from Gwadar to western China to get oil supplies, an official told The Express Tribune.

    During the tenure of previous government, China had expressed interest in joining the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, but did not push ahead with the plan following handover of Gwadar Port operations to Singapore Port Authority, the official said.Now that China has taken over operations at the port, it may reinitiate the projects including oil and gas pipelines.”

  27. fyi says:

    nico, Sineva, Nasser, Mr. Smith:

    Based on Internet sources, I have come to the conclusion that Pakistan, at her own initiative perhaps, has endeavored to build strategic understanding with Iran certainly on Afghanistan as well as on terrorism.

    The announcement of the construction of an oil refinery in Pakistan as well as that of IP gas pipeline were almost certainly the culmination of a political process of understanding between the 2 states. I suppose Saudi Arabia and US could not address the energy needs of Pakistan; needs that severely affected Pakistan’s military as well as civilian power. Evidently, Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders must have reassessed their strategic environment in the light of the rise of Shia-Irani power.

    If I am correct in this surmise, then one would expect to see more overt and covert cooperation between Iran and Pakistan as well as internal efforts by Pakistan to contain and destroy the anti-Shia politico-military formations in that country.

  28. Don Bacon says:

    The US Navy is not deploying a laser weapon prototype near Iran.

  29. Kathleen says:

    And some of us have done everything we can for years now to hammer main stream outlets asking why they seem to be refusing to have the Leveretts on as guest to discuss Iran. Seven or so years at Huff Po, NPR, MSNBC (you know that liberal outlet) etc. Finally Huff Po post your pieces. But Chris Matthews who claims he was against the Iraq invasion yet did not have experts who were questioning the validity of the WMD intelligence before the invasion. And Chris Matthews (who I have politely challenged in person) who have yet to have the Leveretts on to help the public widen their scope on the situation with Iran. Hope folks keep contacting these outlets asking them to have the Leveretts on their programs.

    Thank you Leveretts

  30. Nasser says:

    fyi says: April 9, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Yes my sense is that there is a willingness now that wasn’t there before in Pakistan. Iran should make the best of this opportunity.

  31. nico says:

    Fyi,

    Agreed.
    Oviously the energy cooperation with Pak is a qualitative strategic leap compared to what obtained before.
    Iran will maintain cooperation with India in order to keep a sane strategic comptetion between China and India to Iran benefit. Even if at lower strategic qualitative level.
    As shown in the Chahabar project and the transport corridor between India and Afghanistan.
    It is up to India now to realign their strategic posture toward Iran if India want to keep the smallest influence in Central Asia.

    That being said in term of geostrategy the Indian sub continent is a oceanic power.
    Actually their geography and and environment cut them from the hinterland.
    Thus they are bent to stratigically ally themselves with other oceanic powers like the US. Even if they keep relation with other Asian countries on a transactional basis.
    At the opposite, China is a continental power.

    At the end of the day India as a centrifugal influence against Asian unity.
    While China has a cohesive influence as has Russia.

  32. Nasser says:

    Sineva says: April 9, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Yes I fully agree with you.

    Pakistan seems increasingly dissatisfied of Saudi and American patronage and is looking at alternatives. Iran is the obvious choice and likely a more attractive choice because Pakistan’s relationship with the Saudis and Americans are causing noticeable corrosive impact on their society; ethno religious violence, increased social tensions etc. Iran should make the best of this opportunity. Come to a complete understanding over Afghanistan and offer to (quietly) dump the Indians for the Pakistanis (again quietly) dumping the Saudis. And the Americans wouldn’t be allowed to get between them. Iran would throw in energy and economic assistance to really make it really worth Pakistan’s while.

  33. Nasser says:

    nico,

    “First that a major economic, security and energy deal was cut between Iran, pak and China.
    Second that India has been strategically marginalized. It seems much likely that that IPI is over and is now replaced by IPC…”

    - The IPI pipeline was always a “pipe dream” because India would never consent to the Pakistanis controlling their light switch. They proposed an underwater pipeline instead. Of course I don’t see that happening either.

    “It also suggests that influence over Afghanistan after US withdrawal has been discussed and that an understanding has been found between the 3 parties.
    And it seems the east of Iran is definitely lost to the US.”

    - I don’t exactly share your confidence; but I think you are right.

  34. Nasser says:

    nico says: April 9, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Thanks for the link. Definitely step in the right direction.

  35. Dan Stewart says:

    Thanks Leveretts for your courage to speak truth to power. Keep up the good work, we need it now more than ever.

  36. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Actually, it is in the best interests of the US for the gas pipeline to be extended into Pakistan from Iran, to improve economic peformance of Pakistan. And the line should then be extended into India.

  37. nico says:

    Nasser says:
    April 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm
    “- I don’t exactly share your confidence; but I think you are right.”

    Well nothing is 100% sure.
    And Pak is playing its hand by balancing China, India, Iran and US powers each against the other in order to milk the most out of the circumstances.
    Exactly like Iran with India and China.
    However at some point major decision or event like a revolution put a country on a track course difficult to change.
    It is the case with the IP pipeline.
    Iran, Pak and China invested giant sum of money, prestige and political assests in such deal.
    They will not turn down their decision at whim.
    At the opposite side, what have the US to offer ?
    As put by fyi, Iran is providing a framework for progress and a sight to a better future.
    The US promise sanctions, drone bombs, pipe dream energy projects, arrogant dominance and dictation…
    At the current juncture it is difficult to see how the US could change their 20 years strategic failure and offer something positive.
    Now it is always possible the US have an As up their sleeve.
    As I said in previous thread the UK/US and allies fomenting a Putsch in Pak could be an example.
    As the US did and still do in south America in order to keep independent looking country under their boot.
    Wait and see.

  38. nico says:

    Mister 20%,

    I think it is in the best US interest to keep UK in the EU against UK will.

  39. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    Again regarding Pakistan. I agree with you that the louder and more public Iran’s energy assistance to Pakistan the better. Just thinking about alternatives though, couldn’t Iran sell its oil and gas to Pakistan in Pakistani rupees? This pretty much amounts to giving it away for free but doesn’t have the same connotation or political difficulty that the word “free” has. Since Pakistan wouldn’t be wasting its hard currency on energy imports it would be equivalent to receiving billions in foreign aid from Iran and Pakistani public would know that almost the entirety of their energy supplies come from Iran on very very favorable terms.

  40. nico says:

    Nasser,

    ” – The IPI pipeline was always a “pipe dream” because India would never consent to the Pakistanis controlling their light switch. They proposed an underwater pipeline instead. Of course I don’t see that happening either.”

    It seems the Chinese or ready to take that risk.
    And at some point India will not have light altogether.

    I do not think India has a choice.
    India, China and the US are strategic competitors.
    Actually with their huge population and growth rate all three are chasing the same raw material and they are strategic competitors.

    However, like the US playing the takfiries card against Iran allies, the US is playing India against China.
    Should Iran or China power disappear, it will be then Idian and Takfiries turn to be targeted.

    That is truly cynical and animalistic geopolicy.

  41. nico says:

    Nasser,

    Follow up of previous post.
    India has 2 alternate choices.
    TAPI or IPI. Both were through Pak.
    Well they will have none.

  42. fyi says:

    es Canning says:
    April 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Rubbish!

    The freely elected representatives of American people are sitting in the Congress of the United States.

    They have decided that the best interest of US is to wound Iran and destroy her current government.

    And the freely elected President of the United State concurs.

  43. nico says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/irans-axis-resistance-loses-palestinian-arm-syrian-war-181044731.html

    I am not sure to understand the palestinian leaders.
    Maybe are they corrupted by money ?
    It is clear the palestinian people would never be recognized and regain their right if Israel is not forced into it.
    The only power who could change the balance in the ME against the western interests supporting Israel policies is Iran and her allies.

  44. fyi says:

    Nasser says:
    April 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I agree with nico’s points; e.g. India is now boxed in for certain and her reliance on US has now increased even more.

  45. fyi says:

    Nasser says:
    April 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Yes, when TRIUMF was being de-comissioned, Iranians were interested in bying it.

    But Canadian were opposed to it; they preferred to have it scrapped.

    I do not recall when that was; years ago, before the nuclear file etc.

    I think the aim was to keep Islamic Iran scientifically illiterate and incompetent.

  46. Don Bacon says:

    Last I heard, Iran and Pakistan have not yet signed the contract for the IP pipeline, and work had not started on the Pak section.

  47. nico says:

    Dan Bacon

    I am astonished by the news.
    When was the last news you get about it ?
    Did I miss something ???

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Pakistan_gas_pipeline

    “On 30 January 2013, the Pakistan’s federal government approved a deal with Iran for laying the Pakistan’s segment of a pipeline.[11] On 27 February 2013, the construction of the Pakistani section was agreed.[12][13] On 11 March 2013, inauguration of the construction works on the Pakistani section of the pipeline were inaugurated by president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[14][15][16][17] According with Javad Owji, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company, the pipeline in Pakistan is expected to be constructed in 22 months with the participation of Iran. [18]“

  48. nico says:

    Nasser,

    Thinks for the fars link.
    By reading the site I also saw the following.

    “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed satisfaction in the cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in building and installing nuclear facilities, and said the cooperation will continue this year in the form of the joint construction of two 1,000-MW nuclear reactors.”

    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107159336

    Anyone has additional information about that ?
    Is that only propaganda or maybe true news but inflated information (maybe only feasibility studies) ?

  49. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I do not think so. The man on the street does not think like that. He thinks in terms of free and not free. Iran should invest in people power. The governments are corrupt in developing countries. If Iran gives anything to the government of these countries, it will be wasted and will end up in Swiss bank accounts of the corrupt officials. If Iran announced a certain amount of oil is for free then the common man on the street must feel the impact in the form of increased availability as well as price. Right now as announced by Pakistani government the thermal electricity power sector of Pakistan is in some 9 billion dollars of debt to oil producers chiefly Saudis and Kuwaitis.

    That is why they can not buy furnace oil for their electricity generation as they do not have the money and Saudis want money upfront now thus their power stations have become paralyzed and the country is living in darkness. Iran can win a huge street level support if it announces to give 30,000 tonnes of furnace oil for free which would make the 18 hour long electricity black outs in 53 degree centigrade heat, to disappear over night without increasing the price of electricity one Ruppee. The common man or for that matter woman on the street would know who has solved the problem. And they appreciate it. Even if only it is the price for the Shias to live comfortably in Pakistan, it should be paid. Iran is awash in furnace oil. Why not buy some security with it until Iran goes full nuclear.

  50. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    April 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    The list is long and will not stop until Iran becomes a nuclear super power in its own right. In mid 2000′s UK was selling the Jaguar Land Rover. Iran desperate to make its car industry an advanced one, outbid every one else. Actually, Iran went out of its way to assure British government that Iran would pay above any other bidder and would make sure that no production plant would be closed in Britain. Iran just wanted acccess to the technology and using the technical base of this company to start up modern production lines in Iran. British government due to its anti-Iranians stand and due to it enmity with Iranian people, chose a lower bid from India’s Tata Motors. Indian did some serious lobbying to politically hurt Iranian bid for Jaguar Land Rover. But obviously British also wanted to keep Iran a backward nation as it has been their primary goal in the past 300 years.

  51. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    April 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Indians chose to have access to American nuclear reactor technology and commercial access to the world’s uranium market by dumping Iran in UN security council and the gas pipeline. It was their conscious decision. That is why, I believe Pakistan and Iran should not allow Indian/Australian/American/British companies to benefit from Afghan mineral wealth. If any company should have access to those minerals, it should be Iranian and Pakistani since they are the bordering nations and the route for selling the minerals.

    Why should RioTinto the world’s largest mining company get a foot hold in Afghanistan while the same company is running Rossing Uranium mine and giving the Iranian 15% of the produce of that mine to French and European reactors? This has been going for the past 40 years which Iran has owned 15% of that mine but has not seen one gram of uranium from that mine. In a few decades this company with its mammoth operation there, is going to completely empty that mine with Iranian portion stolen. All of it. Iranian public should make itself aware, what is at stake here.

  52. Smith says:

    Sineva says:
    April 9, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Iran should rather offer free oil to Greece on the condition that Greece leaves EU and Euro. Just make a public offer and let the sparks fly. The Greek public are super angry with European and Euro dictatorship. The most to lose in this scenario are French and Germans who have put so much in EU and Euro. Such an offer would either see Greece to erupt in riots and leave Euro or it would force Germans and French to either become dictatorial towards their Greek colony or start paying aid to Greeks. Either case the economic costs of Iran sanctions would go up for enemies of Iran. There are so many creative ways for Iran to hit back, in politico-economic terms.

  53. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Extension of the natural gas pipeline into Pakistan clearly is in the best intersts of the US. That stooges of the Israel lobby try to deny this fact, does not make it untrue.

    Econmic growth in Pakistan is a good thing for all countries on the planet.

  54. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    Yes, the US wants the UK to remain in the EU.

  55. Nasser says:

    Yes that’s right, go on now, give the Shias even more reason to turn to the Iranians
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/201349194856244589.html

  56. fy says:

    nico says:
    April 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    This is Iranian propaganda.

    For several decades no one will sell Iran turn-key systems in any field; especially
    in the nuclear field.

    Iranians are on their own.

  57. fy says:

    Cyrus_2 says:
    April 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    It will not happen.

  58. fy says:

    James Canning says:
    April 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Here you go again, a foreigner claiming to know the best interests of the United States better than her elected representatives.

  59. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Kerry pledges support for Israel against Iran threat
    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Kerry-pledges-support-for-Israel-against-Iran-threat-309111

    “US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran on Monday that his country WOULD NOT HESITATE to take military action if the diplomatic process failed to prevent Tehran from CONTINUING ITS DRIVE for nuclear weapons.”

    Nothing said about actually GETTING nuclear weapons, just “continuing its drive” for nuclear weapons (which it isn’t doing.)

    This ambiguity about Obama’s actual “red line” – which itself is a red herring since Obama is fully on board with destroying Iran, as long as he isn’t BLAMED for it – will be utilized to spin the “blame” once the Iran war starts.

  60. Richard Steven Hack says:

    US Policy in Iran: ‘Calculated and Gradual Coercion’
    http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/04/08/us-policy-in-iran-calculated-and-gradual-coercion/

    Listen to Noam Chomsky’s Edward Said speech to further understand the above link. As Chomsky points out, if a country doesn’t obey the West, it gets crushed. No exceptions. That’s been true for a minimum of sixty years and probably much longer.

  61. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Some history…

    We don’t intend to build nukes, Israel told US in 1975
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/we-dont-intend-to-build-nukes-israel-told-us-in-1975/

    After they already had them. I remember reading a Newsweek article around that time that said the CIA already assumed Israel had at least several nukes.

  62. Richard Steven Hack says:

    How Much Longer Will the Iran “Game” Continue?
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/08-6

  63. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Some more history…how the US public was brainwashed to support the US original intervention in Afghanistan. The same techniques being used today to drum up the Iran war.

    Hollywood’s Dangerous Afghan Illusion
    http://consortiumnews.com/2013/04/07/hollywoods-dangerous-afghan-illusion/

  64. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Don Bacon: “The US Navy is not deploying a laser weapon prototype near Iran.”

    The New York Times says they are deploying a “prototype” which will be operational next year. I’d say that is technically a “deployment” since it’s on the Ponce, a ship explicitly moved to the Persian Gulf to ramp up US military capabilities there as a threat to Iran. It’s explicitly stated that it has the capability to disable fast attack boats of the sort Iran deploys in the Gulf.

  65. Richard Steven Hack says:

    More preparation for the Iran war…

    US, allies plan large-scale Gulf naval exercise
    http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/US-allies-plan-large-scale-Gulf-naval-exercise-309100

  66. Richard Steven Hack says:

    ‘Huge shift in Syrian troops from Golan’
    http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Huge-shift-in-Syrian-troops-from-Golan-309059

    Syrian troops moved to defend Damascus. Replaced by poorer-quality battalions. An advantage to Israel in the upcoming Syrian war.

  67. Smith says:

    fy says:
    April 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I agree. Though as per documents submitted by Iran to IAEA, Iran intended to buy 3 more VVER-1000 type reactors from Russia for Bushehr power plant. They cancelled one later on and notified IAEA about it, but kept the possibility for two more open. But in current situation it appears to be dead now. But, Iran can and should go ahead with its reactor design development. Dr Abbasi hinted in his yesterday speech about a 560 MW home designed reactor. I assume he was talking about Darkhoin power plant. At any rate, I believe Iran should go in the direction of heavy water reactors and abandon its light water programs. In the next phase, Iran should invest in research for design of fast breeder reactors. These are so because, Iran will not have access to world uranium markets for foreseeable future and must depend on its own small uranium reserves. This two phase nuclear program will assure, high efficiency of uranium consumption as light water reactors have poor uranium economies. India had followed a similar but not the same plan as I propose here called, “India’s three-stage nuclear power programme”. As an additional benefit, the heavy water reactor designs are simpler, safer, easy to build and can consume different fuel formats unlike the light water ones.

  68. Richard Steven Hack says:

    You remember I’ve said before here that the one thing that might derail the upcoming Iran war would be another war, such as a hot war with North Korea (which I doubted was likely)?

    Well, it’s looking a lot more likely over the last few weeks as the US has SIGNIFICANTLY increased its military assets in and near South Korea. Today I read that the US has moved several B-1 bombers to Guam to join F-22 Stealth Raptors, and the anti-ballistic missile ship, as well as flying a symbolic B-2 bomber run near NK to simulate a nuclear attack on North Korea.

    The US is making a MAJOR effort to ramp up tensions with North Korea for no apparent reason that I can see other than sheer stupidity on the part of the Obama.

    This is off-topic here, but I just wanted to remind everyone that my predictions on Iran were posited on no major military action elsewhere outside the Middle East.

    We’d better hope nothing happens, because Pentagon war games show fifty thousand US casualties within the first ninety days of a hot war with North Korea, and perhaps 250,000 total casualties, not to mention perhaps a million or more dead civilians on both sides, with an estimated 250,000 in Seoul alone within the first week or so – not to mention further possible involvement of China’s PLA.

    This is becoming a serious crisis rapidly.

  69. Don Bacon says:

    nico says:
    April 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    regarding IP gas pipeline –
    Tribune, Apr 4, 2013
    Gas pipeline: Pakistan, Iran to meet to finalise construction contract
    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran are set to resume talks in mid-April to finalise the award of a multi-million-dollar contract to an Iranian firm for laying a gas pipeline inside Pakistani territory, a process that has already been delayed because of some bottlenecks.

    “An Iranian team will arrive in Islamabad on April 15 and 16 to finalise the award of contract to Tadbir Energy of Iran,” a source said.

    The contract would have been awarded by the previous government, which completed its tenure on March 16, had the finance ministry approved the term sheet of contract, submitted by Tadbir Energy, and grant of sovereign guarantees on time, sources said.

    The ministry gave the approval to the term sheet and sovereign guarantees quite late on March 15.

    Pakistan was set to award the construction contract to Tadbir Energy at the time of the official launch of work on the project on the Pak-Iran border, which was inaugurated by President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11. However, no agreement was signed.
    http://tribune.com.pk/story/530752/gas-pipeline-pakistan-iran-to-meet-to-finalise-construction-contract/

  70. Richard Steven Hack says:

    More from last year on the Navy’s laser weapon deployment on the Ponce…

    Watch the Navy’s New Ship-Mounted Laser Cannon Kill a Drone
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/04/laser-warfare-system/

    Quote

    It just so happens that the LaWS’ ability to track and kill surveillance drones and swarming fast boats matches with Iran’s development of surveillance drones and swarming fast-boat tactics. And it just so happens that the Ponce will spend most of 2014 deployed in Iran’s backyard. Neither Klunder nor Eccles will come out and say it exactly, but the maiden deployment of the LaWS has immediate implications for the U.S.’ ongoing sub rosa conflict with the Iranians — and provides a new weapon for the Navy at a time when it’s had to scale back its aircraft carrier presence off of Iran’s shores.

    “Any country that operates the kinds of threats this system is designed to deal with should pause and say, ‘If the United States Navy can take a challenge like that and muster the scientific expertise from industry, academia and inside the government and pull together a solution that can be fielded as rapidly as this one’s been fielded, and go from a test environment directly to a forward-deployed unit for demonstration in the field and in the Fifth Fleet,’” Eccles said, “they should recognize that when we say ‘quick-reaction capability’ we truly deliver on a quick reaction capability.”

    End Quote

  71. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Update on those B-1s to Guam…maybe not…

    U.S. Air Force says B-1s were not deployed to Guam. So, where did five big bombers go last night?
    http://theaviationist.com/2013/04/06/mysterious-deployment/

    No one seems to know where they did go… And a multi-plane deployment at night is very odd.

    They could have gone to Diego Garcia as part of a build up for attacks on Iran or Syria, but going westward is considered unusual. But then, if you wanted to keep that secret, unusual is good, right?

  72. Don Bacon says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    April 9, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    regarding deployment of anti-drone laser
    As I said: “The US Navy is not deploying a laser weapon prototype near Iran.”
    The Navy CNO has said that a prototype will be sent next year.

    AOL Defense, Apr 8, 2013
    NATIONAL HARBOR: The Navy will send a prototype laser weapon to the troubled Persian Gulf for a roughly year-long test deployment starting “less than a year from now,” the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, announced today at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference.
    http://defense.aol.com/2013/04/08/navy-prototype-laser-to-persian-gulf-greenert-video/?icid=trending1

    PS: quoting the NY Times –> 3 demerits :-)

  73. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Glenn Greenwald Podcast discussion with two of America’s leading Iran experts: the Leveretts
    :http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/09/iran

    Direct Link: :https://soundcloud.com/glenngreenwald/podcast-with-flynt-and

    Probably the next post here by the Leveretts! :-)

    Quote

    No matter your views, it’s impossible to meaningfully participate in debates over these issues without understanding the facts they have assembled and perspectives they advocate.

    End Quote

  74. Nasser says:

    Smith says: April 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    “I do not think so. The man on the street does not think like that. He thinks in terms of free and not free. Iran should invest in people power.”

    - I see your point completely. I was only saying that Iranian people see free or not free too. You must agree that is the biggest obstacle here. Let us remember politics is the art of the possible after all. Iranian leaders can make the case that no one else is buying this stuff anyway, Pakistan doesn’t have enough dollars, and so we will just sell this in Rupees, and in the process make friends with an important neighbor. Over time or after some public education of Iranian citizens, Iran can make loud dramatic gestures. By then Pakistan would become dependent on Iran. Either way Pakistan benefits and Iran’s position improves.

    For example: “Iran can win a huge street level support if it announces to give 30,000 tonnes of furnace oil for free which would make the 18 hour long electricity black outs in 53 degree centigrade heat, to disappear over night without increasing the price of electricity one Ruppee. The common man or for that matter woman on the street would know who has solved the problem. And they appreciate it.”

    - Why didn’t Iran already do this?! Like yesterday ago!

    “The governments are corrupt in developing countries. If Iran gives anything to the government of these countries, it will be wasted and will end up in Swiss bank accounts of the corrupt officials.”

    - I understand this. But even these corrupt officials have vested interest in state survival and enrichment and appeasement of the populace.

    If Pakistan gets all its oil, gas, fertilizer and huge amounts of electricity from Iran, corrupt or not Pakistan would have a vested interest in Iran. Iran can get itself to the position that any harm on Iran would like slitting Pakistan’s wrist. After this, Iran wouldn’t even have to lobby Pakistan for support, those two will be joined to the hip. Pakistan’s position will be such that it will be like Hezbollah thinking of harming Iran.

    Normally a state wouldn’t allow itself to get into a position of this kind of dependence but if Iran basically gives this stuff away for free there is no way a poor country like Pakistan can refuse. This is almost like 20-30 billion dollars in aid. For Iran, foreign currency is a much scarcer resource than hydrocarbons but not so for Pakistan. You think those stingy Arab Sheikhs will or even can match this. On top of that Pakistan would gain true strategic depth and lessen its dependence on maritime transport and vulnerability to an Indian blockade.
    I just think other than the nuclear program this is one area where Iran should throw all its resources at. It has such immense strategic consequences.

  75. Avg American says:

    Americans or should I say Washington and its political agents of all forms just can’t comprehend that maybe just maybe the Leverett’s motives for writing the book may be because they are two nice, moral and humanistic individuals who want to do the right thing. Washington can’t even ‘come to terms’ with that mantra – look at its track record of two- faced behavior and dishonesty toward Iran in the past. The killings of innocent civilian children in the ME and oil greed not to mention arrogance are what Washington has shown the world It is. Perhaps, the Leverett’s care about the welfare of its country and the future it holds for its children, which is inextricably linked to its foreign policy in the ME….. But Washington and its agents couldn’t understand that even if it tried it does not speak that language. Somebody convince me otherwise.

  76. imho says:

    fyi says (previous thread):
    April 8, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Thank you for your long reply.


    In Iran, specifically, the Doctors of Religious Sciences of Islam had always been at the forefront of the opposition to the Euro-American power in Iran (as well as in other Muslim societies); from Tanbaku Movement to the Islamic Revolution.”

    No doubt in Iran religious forces have always had a hand in politics whether direct or indirect and this is true even before Islam


    In my opinion, had the Shah of Iran not destroyed all non-religious political opposition, still the religious-oriented political opposition would have had a major say in Iranian affairs. However, I also think that the non-religious political forces, had they had existed in Iran in any substantial manner prior to 1979, could have been able to exercise some restraint on the fantasies of the religiously -oriented classes, limiting the amount of damage caused by Nekbat Islami.”

    What the Shah did with religious forces was against the Iranian tradition and he paid for it and I think if the fantasies of religious classes as you said are not restrained in IRI, they will also pay for it in the future.
    When I said the possibility of a secular state exists in Iran I wasn’t referring to the Shah era nor to the western-style secular system. As you know Iranians usually don’t like to follow others. They prefer instead , short of inventing a whole new paradigm, to remodel governance systems to adapt to their likings and traditions.
    There is no point to deny the existence of non-religious forces in Iran, even if they are now outnumbered by religious forces. Only, they are absent in political scene. Both forces must learn to live together and accept each other.
    That’s why I think the emergence of a new system in Iran in the future is not impossible. For, Iran wants, aspires and must lead Muslims in evolving in that direction.
    Problem is, before that could happen it’s time now to fight imperialism and there is currently no forces as powerful as religious forces able to lead this fight

  77. Rd. says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    “This is becoming a serious crisis rapidly.”

    and oil prices continue to drop.. oil traders must not be worried or sleep at their monitors.

    RSH, you have to appreciate the fine art Int. diplomacy and posturing, propaganda, etc..

  78. Rd. says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    “This is becoming a serious crisis rapidly.”

    and oil prices continue to drop..

    Or conversely, you can argue, oil prices dropping to help US war machinery afford the cost of the war with [the target of the day].. Syria, Iran, Lebanon, N Korea….

  79. fyi says:

    imho says:
    April 10, 2013 at 9:09 am

    The thing is, when the Ba’athist state attacked Iran, in the response of the Iranian people over 8 years once could clearly see that they were largely and stronly committed to the war effort because of deep belief in Islam.

    I think this must be understood and accepted.

    I think also that it is quite clear that the Office of the Supreme Jurisprudent – under the late Mr. Khomeini as wll as Mr. Khamenei – has kept the constitional order in Iran intact – longer than any other Muslim state.

    I think it is more profitable to concentrate one’s efforts on improving the Rule of Law and the protection and enforcement of the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran rather than search for yet another system (as you put it).

    But even that will take a long hard slog among a population that equates power with arbitrariness and enjoys it.

  80. Sineva says:

    Smith says:
    April 9, 2013 at 10:21 pm
    The russians have shown themselves to be unreliable suppliers of pretty much everything,I agree that heavy water is the way to go it would give iran a very potent japan option ie a large stockpile of bomb fuel and put more pressure on the west

  81. Sineva says:

    Smith says:
    April 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm
    You`re right iran needs to use its resources as a weapon,its been far to passive

  82. James Canning says:

    fy,

    Are you arguing that a disfunctional economy in Pakistan due to chronic energy shortages, is in the best interests of the US? Because fools in the US Congress in effect have tried to cause this problem?

  83. Sineva says:

    Nasser says:
    April 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm
    The indians have been moving further into the us/israeli camp and are of dubious reliability as partners and allies,it can only be to irans benefit to help break pakistan away from the us/saudi orbit