The Losers’ Narrative: Expatriates with Agendas and America’s Dangerously Distorted Iran Debate—And A Challenge to Abbas Milani

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When we published Going to Tehran, we expected that its critique of America’s prevailing Iran mythology would spark sharply negative reactions from individuals and constituencies whose identities are bound to this mythology.  The sharpest so far came in mid-March, when The New Republic published Abbas Milani’s “The American Voices of the Islamist Regime in Iran:  Two Former U.S. Officials Make the Case for Accommodation.”

The New Republic and Milani (among other affiliations, a TNR contributing editor) have had us in their sights for some time.  With our book out, TNR and Milani are after us with renewed vigor.  We submitted a response to Milani’s article, which The New Republic just published, see here.  (TNR allowed Milani to write a response to our response, which one can also read by clicking on this link).  We append our piece below.

As you will see, dealing with the issues we raise in our critique of Milani and his work is essential if the United States is ever to have any hope of having a remotely rational and informed debate about how to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  To this end, we hereby issue a challenge to Mr. Milani to debate us, publicly, on our differences over how to interpret the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy and political history.

Here’s what we have in mind:  a ninety-minute debate, held in front of a live audience and videotaped for wider distribution.  The location at which the debate would take place as well as the designation of a host/moderator would be negotiated between Mr. Milani and us.  Given that there are two of us and one of him, Mr. Milani could choose to have a partner join him in debating us; alternatively, if he preferred to go it alone, we would stipulate in advance that he would have as much time to speak as the two of us combined.

In terms of substance, the debate would be divided into three thirty-minute segments, each dealing with one of the following questions:

–Is the Islamic Republic the legitimate product of the Iranian Revolution?

–Is the Islamic Republic today a legitimate political order?

–Can and should the United States pursue better relations with the Islamic Republic as it is presently constituted?

In each 30-minutes segment, each side would speak for 10 minutes apiece. Then, each side would question the other for 5 minutes apiece.

We hope that Mr. Milani will take up our challenge.  In the meantime, here is our article, as published in The New Republic.

Up For Debate:  Do Insiders or Outsiders Have the Clearer View of Iran?

While Abbas Milani ostensibly offers a review of our book, it serves a more useful purpose by illustrating how Iranian expatriates and Iranian-Americans with an animus against the Islamic Republic warp our ongoing Iran debate.

Americans have let disaffected expatriates with no popular base in their countries of origin distort important policy discussions before—from the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco and the ongoing embarrassment of America’s Cuba policy to Iraqi expatriates’ bogus claims about Iraqi WMD, Saddam’s ties to al-Qaeda, and the Shangri-La of post-Saddam Iraqi politics prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Milani’s article exemplifies how expatriates with no direct contact to on-the-ground reality in Iran are now distorting debate with agenda-driven fantasies.

Two seemingly small mistakes underscore Milani’s disregard for empirical truth.  He describes us as living in Maryland; actually, we live in Virginia, as stated on the “About the Authors” page and the back jacket flap.  Also, Milani aspires to undermine our credibility by linking us to the University of Tehran’s Seyed Mohammad Marandi, whom we acknowledge as our colleague and friend and whose writings and statements we cite. Specifically, Milani holds,

“Virtually all [the Leveretts’] knowledge about Iran comes from what they call their Iranian ‘interlocutors,’ or high-ranking Iranian officials, or their friend and occasional co-author Seyed Mohammad Marandi, whom they introduce as ‘a scholar well connected with Iranian foreign policy circles.’  In truth, Marandi is not just himself a polished ideologue of the regime, but through his father—a physician to [Leader Ayatollah] Khamenei—he is connected to the very center of power.”

Leaving aside Milani’s subjective caricature, his objectively testable statement that Seyed Mohammad’s father, Alireza Marandi, is “a physician to Khamenei” is false.  Dr. Marandi is a neonatologist—a pediatrician specializing in the care of premature infants.  (In the 1970s, he held a faculty post in neonatology at a U.S. medical school.)  Claiming that he treats the 73-year-old Khamenei is ludicrous.

Though seemingly small, this is revealing of Milani’s modus operandi.  The claim that Dr. Marandi is Khamenei’s physician comes from Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an expatriate filmmaker who presented himself after Iran’s 2009 presidential election as defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s international representative.  To enhance his allure to Westerners, Makhmalbaf published online articles purporting to catalog Khamenei’s personal and political corruption; in one, Makhmalbaf describes Alireza Marandi as Khamenei’s physician.  The allegations were unsubstantiated—not least because Makhmalbaf was never in a position to know the things he claimed to.  But Milani’s reliance on Makhmalbaf’s tabloid nonsense is typical:  he prefers a manufactured claim from someone who could not possibly know it is true (Makhmalbaf says Alireza Marandi is Khamenei’s doctor) over easily verified reality (Dr. Marandi is a neonatologist).  That is all too characteristic of how expatriate Iran “experts” distort America’s Iran debate.

In this regard, Milani’s career is instructive.  Born in Iran in 1949, he came as a teenager to California, where he completed high school, attended college, and embraced Maoist Marxism.  After earning a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Hawaii, he returned to Iran and was imprisoned by the Shah’s government for his Marxist views.  After the revolution, Milani taught at the University of Tehran before moving back to California in 1986.  For years, he taught at a small Catholic college, publishing intermittently in obscure nonacademic outlets.  Then, in 2001, a group of wealthy Iranian Americans endowed a fellowship for Milani and his Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution; he also began teaching as a visiting professor in Stanford’s political science department.  In 2005, prosperous Iranian-Americans endowed the directorship of Stanford’s (one-man) Iranian studies program for him, a platform from which he depicts Iran as a nation longing for secular liberalism.  Milani—who has never earned tenure at Stanford—has this platform because donors sharing his goal of ending the Islamic Republic paid for it.

Contrary to Churchill’s observation that “history is written by the victors,” Americas have let their understanding of contemporary Iran be shaped largely by “losers”—Iranians who lost their struggle for power after the Shah’s departure in January 1979.  Protecting the losers’ narrative motivates Milani’s (remarkably long) screed against us.

The losers’ narrative can’t afford for the Islamic Republic to be perceived as a legitimate expression of the Iranian people’s aspirations.  So Milani must attack our argument that Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founding father, cannot rightly be said to have “captured” what should have been a secular liberal revolution, because “there would have been no revolution without him.”  Milani thunders, “The Iranian revolution was conducted in the name of freedom, dignity, and independence, and not for a government where one man claims to represent the voice of God.  Only regime apologists dispute this fact.”

But consider these facts: Every prominent anti-Shah figure—including leaders of the secular liberal National Front, the more religious but still liberal Liberation Movement, the communist Tudeh party, and even the mojahedin-e khalq (MEK)—acknowledged that only Khomeini had the popular standing to mobilize ever larger segments of Iranian society into mass action.  And at every major juncture in the Islamic Republic’s creation—the March 1979 referendum on the nature of a post-monarchical state, the August 1979 elections for an assembly to draft its constitution, and the December 1979 referendum ratifying that constitution—Khomeini asked for and received the public’s overwhelming support.

Why is Milani entitled to exclude these facts from discussions of the revolution’s true character or the legitimacy of the political order that emerged from it?  Why are he and other expatriate opponents of the Islamic Republic allowed to dismiss as “apologists” those who point out that it has achieved more progressive outcomes in alleviating poverty, delivering health care, expanding educational access, and (yes) expanding opportunities for women than the Shah’s regime ever did?

The losers’ narrative also animates Milani’s fulminations against our assessment of America’s role in the Iran-Iraq War.  While conceding that we “rightfully criticize the Reagan administration for not seriously condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran, and for the tragic downing of an Iranian passenger plane by the American carrier Vincennes in 1988,” he denounces our critique of U.S. support for Saddam’s war of aggression—for the losers’ narrative can’t allow the Islamic Republic to be seen as a legitimate entity defending legitimate national interests.

Milani pretends to refute us by quoting Mark Gasiorowski that “a CIA officer gave two briefings [to Iran’s new government] in mid-October [1979] warning…that Iraq was making preparations for a possible invasion of Iran.”  But what Gasiorowski recounts is analytic speculation, a year before Saddam attacked; what we document is far more concrete and timely.  We cite the Agency’s then-Iran desk officer, speaking on the record, on CIA acquisition of hard human intelligence on Saddam’s plan to invade three weeks beforehand; we quote then-vice president Mondale that Washington did not try to stop Iraq because “we believed that this war would put further pressure on the Iranian government.”  We also tell how Washington took Iraq off the state sponsors of terrorism list so it could support Saddam, working with allies to make sure Baghdad had steady supplies of weapons and military technology—including technology to produce chemical munitions used against Iran.

Likewise, Milani condemns our account of the 2003 “non-paper” that Tehran sent to Washington via Swiss diplomats, proposing an agenda for comprehensive realignment of relations—for the losers’ narrative can’t afford that the Islamic Republic be perceived as anything other than implacably hostile to America.  Milani claims we have “no source or support” for writing that the paper was “vetted by both [then president] Khatami and Khamenei.”  Not so; the Swiss ambassador who relayed it officially reported to Washington on his conversations with Iranian officials regarding its vetting by Khatami and Khamenei, and other Iranian officials have authenticated it.

The Bush administration rightly rejected the proposal, Milani writes, “because its spirit and its specifics went against everything that the Iranian regime, and particularly Ayatollah Khamenei, has said and done before [its] miraculous appearance.”  This ignores a long record of Iranian cooperation with U.S. requests for help—to free American hostages in Lebanon in the 1980s, to get weapons to Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s, and, after 9/11, in Afghanistan and against al-Qa’ida—in the hope of improving relations.  Every time Tehran tried cooperating in this way, Washington pocketed it, shut down the dialogue, and put more sanctions on Iran.  Even so, Iranian leaders—including Ayatollah Khamenei—remain open to better ties, provided America is serious about realigning relations and ready to accept the Islamic Republic as a legitimate entity representing legitimate interests.

Milani charges that, in assessing electoral accountability and checks and balances in the Islamic Republic’s constitutional order, we “cunningly overlook” Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi and other clerics who are “close to Khamenei,” don’t like elections, and want them abolished.  If there is cunning here, it is in Milani’s creation of an alternate
universe, where alleged clerical views at odds with the Islamic Republic’s constitution are attributed to Khamenei and considered more reflective of reality than actual events.  We don’t overlook figures like Mesbah-Yazdi—and we don’t exaggerate their influence.  As we write, “To this day, there are legalist clerics (usually described by Western media as ‘ultraconservative’) who disdain the constitution’s republican components as deviating from purely clerical rule.  They have not, however, been able to eliminate electoral competition from the system.”  And Khamenei remains clear in his view that elections are vital to the system’s workings.

Likewise, we don’t ignore the Revolutionary Guards’ economic role or high-level political contestation—among different conservative factions as well as between conservatives and reformists.  We simply refuse to treat these as either new or indicative that the system is coming apart—unlike Milani and other Iran “experts” who have said for years the Islamic Republic is verging on collapse.  It’s not—but that doesn’t fit with the losers’ narrative, either.

America is at a critical juncture in its relations with Iran. Washington can either “go to Tehran,” as we recommend—“coming to terms” with the Islamic Republic as a legitimate entity representing legitimate interests—or, at some point the United States will end up going to war against it.  We believe that the latter course would prove catastrophic for America’s strategic position, in the Middle East and globally.   But choosing the wiser alternative will require Americans to disenthrall themselves from those who, for their own reasons, paint a false picture of today’s Iran.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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69 Responses to “The Losers’ Narrative: Expatriates with Agendas and America’s Dangerously Distorted Iran Debate—And A Challenge to Abbas Milani”

  1. Pirouz says:

    We Americans saw a “losers’ narrative” of our own, following the success of our American revolution. Our ejected “losers” could be found back in England and Canada. We even fought a second bloody war with those losers, here in this country.

    Milani’s a real case. Back in 2006 or 2007, he told a couple of local journalists that even Khatami was hopeful of an Iranian military invasion of Israel to liberate Jerusalem. Now, since the 2009 election, his “losers’ narrative” has him backing the reformists in his warped reading of reformists being anti-regime.

    He’s all grandstanding and opportunism.

    And he isn’t going to debate (he has everything to lose and nothing to gain). But if he did, he should pick Krauthammer. Two peas in a pod, those two.

  2. nico says:

    Mister 20%,

    You did not answered to that.

    I am sure the US were also looking for good relaion with Honduras.
    And that the Hondurans were satisfied by the prosperity brought by US domination.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_republic

    I am eagerly awaiting your take and that you confirm or not that it is something similar to west dealing of ME.
    And specially UK in 1953, and today.

    Concerning evangelist protestant. Yes they exist.
    But I focus on the big picture while you concentrate on the details in your usual sophistic ways.
    There are also scientlogists, and they are powerfull as well in some circles that does not make a systemic explanation !

    Obviously the position regarding materialism needs to be nuanced depending the country or state, the region, the city, the neibourhood, the household, the individual !
    If you want we can discuss each.
    Specially in UK, please let everybody here know if the City is less or more powerfull than th anglican church.

  3. nico says:

    Mister 20%,

    “It is too often that sophism is mistaken for sheer falseness, or even more annoying, for paradox. . . . When logical incorrectness . . . is aimed at deceiving we are dealing with a sophism (abuse of intelligence).”(Henri Wald, Introduction to Dialectical Logic. John Benjamins, 1975)”

    One of the best sophistry is to slice the whole in small parts and to find a counter argument to the small part.
    Actually the whole explanation often simplify a complex matter as it would maybe need a whole book to explain the details, thus the aim of the sophist is to use that weakness by throwing irrelevant arguments aimed at the details but not at the logical construct.

    The best example of sophists are the politicians when they speak at the TV.
    They can not develop complex ideas in a short time and within such media.
    Thus they manipulate their audience with specious arguments which or not false when taken separetly, but which do not give a fair, logical or objective hints of their whole views and policies.

    Mister 20%,

    What is your whole world view ?

  4. Iranian@Iran says:

    Excellent response. Those who oppose the Leveretts have already lost the argument.

  5. nico says:

    The Japenese debt bomb will explode on its own. As will all western debt bombs. It is only a matter of time.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-01-18/detonating-japanese-debt-time-bomb-kyle-bass

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=LGIneyypSn4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DLGIneyypSn4

    Wait and see how that will be managed by the elites.
    However it is quite clear we are in pre-WWII like period.
    A world economic crisis.
    International tensions.
    Fascist ideas clothed in exeptionalism that are carried by some Powers coupled with warmongering policies.
    Countries sprinting after geopolitical dominance and natural ressources, in africa, ME.

    Iran discussion at P5+1 level could only be understood by keeping such background in mind.

  6. nico says:

    Japan spends 25% of revenue on interest now – and with higher rates (via this supposed inflation) the entire situation becomes farcical as every 1% rise in their cost of capital (or rates) costs them another 25% of revenue!.

  7. kooshy says:

    Does Iran already have the bomb? Column

    “For example, Israel has long maintained a policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear weapons, believed to consist of 100-200 warheads. Iran could follow suit, allowing just enough information to leak out to give it some deterrent power but not face the public embarrassment, international condemnation and possible military response for having created the weapons it denied wanting.

    Days after North Korea’s nuclear test, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reiterated that his country did not want to build atomic weapons, but that if it “intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us.”

    This strange construction — saying the Islamic Republic does not desire nuclear weapons but there was no way to prevent it from having them — might have been the first in a series of diplomatic signals intending to inform the United States that, with North Korea’s help, the game is already over and Iran has won.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/02/27/iran-north-korea-nuclear-bomb/1952273/

    Well, what I understand as per what Ayatollah Khamenei said if Iran wanted a Nuclear Bomb Iran could have one and nobody could stop that, this should mean there already exist a retaliatory reciprocal nuclear deterrence between Iran and her nuclear armed enemies. I think that was the meaning and the reason for using these exact words.

  8. fy says:

    The Leveretts:

    I think it is useful to understand the Dream Palace of the Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic; a narrative starting with the ancient Persian Empire which was finally destroyed by the lizard-eating Arabs in the 7-th century.

    If you ask which government, during the last 3000 years, has been the best government in Iranian plateau, they would inevitably fall back on the governing structures of pre-Islamic Iran.

    The Safavids, the Seljuks, the Buhids and others have no place in their historical knowledge or understanding. Their Utopia remains ancient Parsa even though their sense of being Iranian is imbued with the ideas and expression of poets and philosophers of the Islamic period.

    Their counterparts – the proponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran – are not much better in that their Dream Palace is the nascent Muslim community of Medina when the Prophet of Islam was alive; ignoring, in an analogous manner to the opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, certain periods of Iranian history or indeed Muslim history – ancient Iran (of course) but also the Abbasid Khaliphate as well.

    The willful ignorance of what is known, largely due the work of the Euro-American scholars, about Iranian history over the last 2500 years is causing a lot of confusion among Iranians – in my opinion.

    There are imaginary Utopias in conflict – one has lead to the Islamic Disaster and the other to the Lie of Ancient Iran.

    I personally do not which one is worse.

    Ask any Iranian who were the five most significant figures of Iranian history and by that you may gauge their orientation.

    My answer:

    Zarathustra
    Ardeshir Pabakan
    Sheikh Safi Al Din Ardabili
    Aqa Muhammad Khan Qajar
    Ayatollah Khomeini

    For specific individuals and their attitude, one has to know of their backgrounds as well. I would not be surprised if Baha’i Iranians be opposed to the Islamic Republic – they have been in a struggle with Shia Doctors of Religion for more than 170 years. However, the last 2 decades of the late Shah’s rule was the relatively benign for them.

  9. James Canning says:

    Yes, consdier how Ahmed Chalabi convinced Dick Cheney in 2002 that the US could overthrow Saddam Hussein, install Chalabi in control of the country, and enjoy control of Iraq and its gigantic potential oil revenues.

  10. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Interesting historical notes on the Shah’s nuclear program back in the day from the guy who headed it.

    Expert: Israel not in position to attack Iran
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4362078,00.html

  11. nico says:

    Comment posted on Cyrus blog.
    http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2013/03/obama-wont-decide-on-irans-nuclear-program.html

    “Right to the point.It is not like the US will make a gesture for free.
    A fast shift of paradigm would only occur if and when a major geopolical change happen such as a revolution in KSA or other decisive move or event as massive economic collapse in US or Iran that would impact the strategic calculus of the players.
    What could Obama tells to the various lobbies and interests in US if he or his administration changed policy without such excuse or reason ?
    The regime in the US did not change. Democrat or republican are the same.And major change in foreign policy never occurs without regime change or major environment change impacting the strategic calculus.
    The leveretts are commendable. But their seemingly disppointed hope for a China like Grand Bargain seems somewhat naive/innocent.This is striking, as former US representative they should know better.”

  12. kooshy says:

    For some reason my comment don’t want to post, maybe is because the USA today link? So I will post the link separately

    Does Iran already have the bomb? Column

    “For example, Israel has long maintained a policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear weapons, believed to consist of 100-200 warheads. Iran could follow suit, allowing just enough information to leak out to give it some deterrent power but not face the public embarrassment, international condemnation and possible military response for having created the weapons it denied wanting.

    Days after North Korea’s nuclear test, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reiterated that his country did not want to build atomic weapons, but that if it “intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us.”

    This strange construction — saying the Islamic Republic does not desire nuclear weapons but there was no way to prevent it from having them — might have been the first in a series of diplomatic signals intending to inform the United States that, with North Korea’s help, the game is already over and Iran has won.”

    —————————————–

    Well, what I understand, as per what Ayatollah Khamenei said a few weeks back: if Iran wanted a Nuclear Bomb Iran could have one and nobody could have (can) stop that. Obviously and accordingly there now exist an Iranian understanding that should also be interpolated by Iran’s enemies that if need be there already exist a retaliatory reciprocal nuclear deterrence between Iran and her nuclear armed enemies. I think that was the meaning and the reason for using these exact words. It seems to me that western analysts have slowly began to discuss these new facts.

  13. Smith says:

    My previous comment did not go through. One was a video about “Ken O’Keefe in Tehran” and the other was an iFilm report about the rise of Iranian fast food chains in the healthy absence of American chains.

    As for Milani, I have to say, who cares. The guy is a joke. A hired hand at VOA Persian, a propaganda outlet, of third quality (BBC has much higher standards in propaganda, but then they invented modern radio/television propaganda). If you knew Persian and could listen to this guy, you would just marvel at his low intellectual capacity. Since I sometimes watch him as well as “Presidential candidate” Atabaki and others like them to have fun, I am not going to say that these guys do not provide any service at all. Alot of Iranians are their fans and continue to be for the same reason. Some times we need to have a fictional parallel universe represented for us by these characters so that we can remain thankful for the real one handed to us.

  14. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    You appear to be arguing that evangelical Protestant preachers were not responsible for saving Geroge W. Bush from defeat in the 2004 US presidential election, by keeping Ohio in the Republican column.

    Are you claiming Iran would be a “banana republic” if it makes a deal with the P5+1?

  15. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    I think John Kerry would have made deals with Iran and Syria, and pulled all US troops out of Iraq asap, if he had won the 2004 presidential election in the US.

    So, I see it a a possible disaster for the entire Middle East, that George W. Bush was saved from defeat by evangelical Protestant preachers, of the sort who claim Jesus Christ will soon return to earth, and who welcome Armageddon.

  16. fy says:

    kooshy says:
    March 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Tis has been the case since 2006.

  17. ToivoS says:

    In addition to expatriate Iranians and Cuban that have had undo influence on US FP we can add a few other examples. George Kennan in his memoirs discussed how the expatriate losers from other countries made rational foreign policy difficult. He describes how the Croatian fascists and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators that immigrated to the US after WWII made it difficult to forge rational policy. There were many Croatians that settled in a few congressional districts that made it difficult to engage Tito in Yugoslavia in any sensible way. This was unfortunate because Tito broke with the Soviet Union in 1948 and opened up many possibilities for the US to engage that country in ways that would benefit US interests. Unfortunately, the Croatian fascist community made it politically difficult for the US to accept the Tito government as the legitimate government of those South Slav peoples.

    There was also of course the Irish American community that caused much mischief by backing the Irish Republican Army in N. Ireland. I suspect there are many other examples going back further in history. It really made no sense for the US to enter WWI but pressure Anglophiles worked very hard to see that outcome. Then, of course, there is the lobby that can’t speak its name that has caused the US even more tsoris in recent years.

  18. Avg American says:

    Humbly, I have read all comments and articles posted to this site as I continue to read “the book.” I have learned a lot while reading the blogs alongside the book and I thank everyone here for the reading. It continues to amaze me that the leverett’s have written this book at all. Clearly it is not easy to take a stand like this in the home territory with a largely opposing agenda so to speak- I admire them for it.
    I want to comment that as a physician myself whom has actually completed an internship in pediatrics I along with many other physicians would say it is highly unlikely that a pediatrician much less a neonatologist would feel comfortable treating an adult chronically or even acutely for that matter. So I would have to agree,I believe that Mr. Milani’s statements re this content are LIKELY not credible.

  19. Persian Gulf says:

    It amazes me to see people like Milani sharply claiming that they know what Iranians think regarding particular issue(s) without actually being there for years (and for his case decades). I get the same feeling whenever my green-minded friends make clear cut arguments about the country.

    Within few months after leaving Iran ,each time I make a visit to the country, I get really hesitated to decisively say what average people think over there. Even in Iran, it takes at least a couple of weeks for me to open my mouth and engage people for different issues. Initially I am afraid of saying political things so not to be ridiculed on the eyes of the people.

    How can these people make solid argument about Iranians’ thinking in Iran is beyond the pale. even when they make visits to Iran, they seem to be only listening to what they have expected abroad. and it seems Iranians are smart enough to gauge their guests’ flavors and give them what they want. after all we are relatively polite people and don’t want our guests to be pissed off :)

  20. Lysander says:

    Kooshy, thanks for the USA today link. While anything is possible (I would be pleased as punch if it’s true) it would mean that Iran either 1) had an entire hidden enrichment facility other than Natanz or Fordow. Or 2) had a bomb design and purchased the fissile material from North Korea. Neither seems very plausible, but the first would be delicious if true. It would mean all the while the world was fixated on the diversions, Iranian scientists were building a bomb in a basement and nobody even noticed. Since it’s relatively easy for the NPT to keep track of all fissile material, I don’t know how Iran could pull it off.

    But let’s run with the fantasy, just for the fun of it. If Iran actually has nukes while publicly denying it, would it be in the US interest (as perceived by its current policy makers) to call Iran out on it? Or would they decide it’s better just to continue the charade? Politically, would Obama want to be known as the president who “allowed” Iran to get the bomb? Or would he rather keep a lid on it until it could be dumped on the next president? Would he offer Iran concessions just to not gloat too much? So many possibilities.

  21. Richard Steven Hack says:

    This is nice. Could have been shot anywhere in the US. Tehran looks like any metropolitan area. Lots of construction as noted in the post. Sure doesn’t look like a “destroyed economy.”

    Fast and Furious through the streets of Tehran – Video
    http://www.uskowioniran.com/2013/03/fast-and-furious-through-streets-of.html

  22. nico says:

    Smith,

    Exactly !
    Milani, like Chalhabi or the new “President of Syrian Opposition” has no credibility.
    Everybody know that they represent nothing democratic or legitimate but US manipulative interests.
    Well, maybe the commoner do not know that.
    But the elites be it political or the media fully know that.
    They also fully know the garbage they are giving to eat to the 99%.

    Again the leveretts are fighting in a fair way and in a mainstream fashion targeting the 99%.

    However, the US are not a democracy, money and lobbies make the (warped) rules.

    Thus again, what it the goal to criticize Milani ? Is that the relevant target ?
    The argument should be aimed at the 1% and focus on their interests.
    They are making the decision in the US and do not care about Milani !

  23. A-B says:

    “But something uncanny has happened in Iran. Relative freedom of the press came, and soon Iranian intellectuals at home began to write with such bold vigor and innovation that the creative texture, the immediacy, and the theoretical depth of their writing eclipsed nearly all that the exiled intellectuals had to offer. And so change of historic dimension is taking place today. The main arena for new ideas about politics and democracy, civil society and reform, even modernity and tradition, is no longer located in Persian intellectual circles exiled in the West, but in Iran. “

    Who wrote this? Abbas Milani, last page (p. 168) in ‘Lost Wisdom – Rethinking Modernity in Iran’, 2004.

    So, Milani has now firmly placed himself among the FOREIGN observers; totally “eclipsed” by the West. He is as WESTERN as Laura Secor or Nicholas Kristof, who thinks Iranians, no matter how kind they are to his (anti-human) kind, deserve to be killed.

    Kids can fool around hitting each other over the head and say: it wasn’t me; it was my hand; blame it on the sleeve of my shirt (translation of a Persian rhyme). This would cause amusement among friends, but when vicious enemies threaten you, you’re not amused by this artificial ‘schizophrenia’ game. (For the rules of the game, ask the British, they KNOW!) So, blame the Zionist, the Salafist, the ‘Eye-ranian’; all I see (empirical evidences) is WESTERN wars which are facilitated by these “hands” and “sleeves”; all products and constructs of Western mind-set; the same intelligent mind that placed man on the moon and invented internet!

  24. nico says:

    A-B,

    Well said.
    This one deserve an answer by Mister 20% !
    But, if it is not the sleeve, it could also be the socks or the scarf, who knows ?
    It is well known, recorded and documented that throughout the last 2 or 3 centuries of history the UK was only after mutual respect and good relation with others !

  25. nico says:

    Mister 20%,

    I fully agree with you that Kerry as president would have made wonderfull decisions.
    And I would even push further as to say that should Al Gore had won the presidency he would have definitely saved the world from climate change.
    This is too bad neither of them lost and the next presidents, even of the same political stable, made so disastrous decisions.

  26. nico says:

    Erratum
    This is too bad both lost and he …

  27. Kooshy says:

    Lysander
    I appreciate your reply, I often read your comments here and in MoA and mostly agree with you, just hoped more Muslims would think like you do. congratulation to Iran and Egypt for inauguration of first commercial flight from Egypt to Iran as I believe for Iran to unify Muslims against a common enemy a working relation with Egypt is more crucial than that of with Turkey since Egypt has more balancing power with Sunni Arabs than any other country.

    As for your suggestion on an existing trigger ready Iranian nuclear device, I don’t think so it’s not necessary and is provocative to Iran’s neighbors and real international supporters. Besides, what you hope Iran had has an offensive posture and tone which correctly I don’t think that’s Iran’s policy or in her interest. However based on what Ayatollah Khameni said that Iran could have nuclear weapon if she wanted to, and no one could have stopped that. From this what I and many understand is that if not occupied(which is impossible) Iran can and will retaliate in kind in relatively short period of time since all necessary elements are within reach.

  28. James Canning says:

    ToivoS,

    Yes, the “Irish-American” community in the US aided IRA terrorists operating in Northern Ireland, and in England too. The term “Irish-American” excludes the numerous Americans of Scots-Irish descent, who were typically Presbyterian (Protestant), and not Roman Catholic. Their numbers in the US may be greater than the “Irish-American” copmmunity.

  29. Bagher Suleimanzadeh says:

    Abbas Milani is not an impartial academic but a deeply confused opportunist and a genuine charlatan. You call him a CHARLATAN and he will enjoy it.

  30. Roger says:

    It appears to me the Leveretts have a problem: Whenever their narrative regarding America’s misguided foreign policy towards Iran is reviewed, their opponents – who find it hard to argue with their faultless logic – fall back on Iran’s internal human rights situation to “change the subject” and take the reader off the main message that the Leveretts are trying to convey, that America’s treatment of Iran is contrary to US national interest.

    I believe it is no coincidence that people like Laura Secor and Abbas Milani mix in phrases such as – respectively – “as for the young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, whose death by sniper fire was captured on a video seen around the world” (Secor) or Milani’s “the murder of nearly four thousand prisoners in 1988″. I see the same tactic employed by virtually all Western media from CNN to The Guardian.

    The Leveretts must tackle this problem head on if their polemic is to receive better reception with the Western publics. In fairness, in their book they do address the red herring of the “stolen elections”, but without being defensive about human rights in Iran they need to come up with well thought out talking points to narrate the practices of Iran’s government regarding this issue. I can think of many good points they could make but they are more eloquent than me and I would like them to turn their attention to it. Consider it a challenge that If they succeed will pay large dividends.

  31. Mohammad says:

    Abbas Milani is one of the less credible “Iran experts” in the West. He routinely makes unfounded, sensational and/or misleading claims. Two other examples:

    “Khamenei unleashed a remarkable barrage of attacks on Ahmadinejad. Overnight, the once-pious and populist president and his most senior aides and advisers were called lawbreakers, agents of American imperialism, rapists, practitioners of dark arts like conjuring and consulting with the devil and, of course, massive financial corruption. One aide was even accused of raping 340 virgins in one year!”
    source
    (I wonder whether Milani really believes that Khamenei was actually behind those claims. And I don’t think any prominent figure has ever said the last sentence. All I found by a Web search was a 34 year old man who was executed in 2006 in Esfahan. He had been a high-school dropout and a Bam/Zahedan native, convicted of 340 kidnappings of teenage girls and 170 rapes; definitely not a presidential aide.)

    “Today, the question is whether the Islamic Republic should pay closer attention to the country’s pre-Islamic Iranian heritage; the answers recently offered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten the collapse of the current regime.”
    source
    (Threaten the collapse of the current regime? Really? The article is full of other misleading or false statements, for example his claim about the concept of Mahdi (which is in fact shared between the Sunni and the Shia), the Islamic “regime” attempting to “obliterate” Iran’s pre-Islamic past and Ayatollah Khomeini “deriding” Nowruz (while Ayatollah Khomeini routinely issued congratulatory messages on the occasion of Nowruz), etc.)

    He has way to go to reach Reza Kahlili in unreliability and making tabloid claims, but he sometimes comes close.

  32. fy says:

    A-B says:
    March 31, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Mr. Milani has a point as far as the internal judicial processes of Iran is concerned, but that point is irrelevant to the broader US-Iran relationship.

    Chinese leaders sent soldiers to shoot workers and students in Gate of Heavenly Peace in 1989 and crush a movement that could potentially have grater impact than the May 4-th Movements.

    The shooting was followed immediately by tanks that went over the bodies of the dead and the injured and crushed them to pulp.

    Needless to say, we never hear about the martyrs of the Gate of Heavenly Peace from leaders of all those states that seek to have productive relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

    That it is and how it will be and how it should be.

    These leaders do not have a duty to seek justice for the dead and the imprisoned.

    These leaders have a duty to the populace of their own countries’ to get them a better deal with other states.

    As for Ms. Secor; perhaps she should seek redress for the late Rachel Corrie. But that will never happen; Ms. Secor belongs to a certain tribe and for that tribe the deaths of people like the late Ms. Corrie are irrelevant.

    Either way, the internal state of Law and Order in Iran is irrelevant and should remain so.

  33. Kooshy says:

    fy says:
    March 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Perfectly said, that also could and should be a reply to (my old good friend) Roger’s comment.

  34. Kooshy says:

    Roger
    I hope all is well, don’t agree on this, since any Iranian internal dispute is not and should not be (allowed) subject of any foreigner (including Levreets) discussions. At this point western public opinion has no value, or can be of any use, or can make any significant change in western policy toward Iran.

  35. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Roger: I agree with your point that the Iran bashers always fall back on Iran’s civil rights record. And this is something that needs to be tackled head on.

    I would suggest the Leveretts deal with that by simply dismissing it as irrelevant, as they do by citing the fact that China was still in the throes of the Cultural Revolution when Nixon went to China. Citing the positive aspects of Iranian civil society as they do basically doesn’t help much as it becomes a “he said – she said” situation. Trying to make people see Iran as a “decent society” probably won’t work. Simply say that it’s irrelevant to US interests to be concerned about Iran’s internal civil rights situation.

    They can also point out that the US couldn’t care less about the Arab dictatorship/monarchy civil rights record, not to mention a lot of other countries such as the ‘Stans so it’s hypocritical and inconsistent to single out and moan about Iran.

  36. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Consider the source, but otherwise interesting…

    Saudi heavy weapons supply to Syrian rebels breaks up Arab summit in uproar
    http://www.debka.com/article/22857/Saudi-heavy-weapons-supply-to-Syrian-rebels-breaks-up-Arab-summit-in-uproar

  37. Richard Steven Hack says:

    A bit bizarre, but bizarre enough to be true…Israel does weird stuff.

    Israeli Rocks Spy at Russian Fleet near Syria’s Tartous
    http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=88209&cid=23&fromval=1

  38. Richard Steven Hack says:

    India to Create Fund to Insure Iran Crude Imports
    http://www.uskowioniran.com/2013/03/india-to-create-fund-to-insure-iran.html

  39. ToivoS says:

    Roger says:
    March 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I agree with you that the Leveretts have a problem in how to deal with the accusations of Iran’s abuses of human rights. I occasionally think that they should do more to address this problem. However, if they were to do so it would come at a cost — namely they would be sacrificing their time and band width that is currently dedicated to position that Iran and the the US can solve their dispute with diplomacy. Thinking about this I believe the Leveretts have made a correct choice.

    The important point is that the American public is not the their primary audience. They do not have the resources to even reach such a broad audience. They are trying to influence academics, policy experts and in general more thoughtful people of influence. Their audience are those who have already concluded that war with Iran is not in America’s interest. They are people, that can be convinced that this never ending cold war with Iran is not the solution and that if it continues a war could break out despite the intentions of the major players. These people need to be convinced that a peaceful resolution is possible. In short, I think the Leveretts political instincts are correct.

  40. BiBiJon says:

    Abbas Milani’s source may be an academic from Birmingham who first claimed Leveretts’ source is an academic from Tehran. While I think Abbas’ stupidity should be forgiven, I’m not so sure about his unoriginality.

    http://armscontrollaw.com/2013/02/15/going-to-tehran-why-the-united-states-must-come-to-terms-with-the-islamic-republic-of-iran/comment-page-1/#comment-2781

  41. kooshy says:

    Unfortunately or rather fortunately the expatriate Iranian political experts and analyst (likes of Mr. Milani, Sajadpoor, etc.) so far in the last 34 years other than constant childish nags and complaints have not contributed a single useful “think or thing” for advancement of Iran and Iranians, therefore except for a very narrow limited audience inside and outside of Iran not many Iranians know of these people, same is true for the general American audience, therefore I agree with ToivoS that generally all the efforts is focused on the academics in the west and not even for Iran.

    In Iran there is a very small westernized class of people that they fundamentally are against the Islamic form of government regardless if its elected or not, and who is in charge, this group wouldn’t need Mr. Milani to be convinced IRI is bad, on the other hand it’s very hard for Mr. Milani to change the mind of the large majority that they believe in an Islamic formulation of governance but may economically disapprove this government this group is not looking for intellectual ideas from outside and will lough at Mr. Milani, but as PG says the Iranians have learned to be polite when debate is useless and ineffective to change anybody’s mind especially when they know one is not of them, one would never know what they really think.

  42. Smith says:

    BiBiJon says:
    March 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    “Never wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but only the pig will enjoy it.”
    - George Bernard Shaw

    ” 10 Signs you are wrestling with a pig:

    So, for those who are interested in rational discussion and debate, but don’t want to get sucked into wrestling with a pig, check this list. If the other person exhibits any of these characteristics, you would be wise to avoid trying to have a discussion because it would be a waste of your time.

    1) The person admits to getting his news from only one source while claiming that source has a monopoly on the truth. This lack of diversity in information shows that the other person is not open to the possibility he is wrong.

    2) The person claims specific religious affiliations and moral codes, but continually violates his own dogmatic code.

    3) The person is unable to speak of those with differing viewpoints without using inaccurate labels and pejorative terms for the other person’s political party or religious affiliation. Straw men are often constructed using these prejudices, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

    4) The person cannot be nailed down on a specific point. If you do ask a direct question that goes to the heart of his position, he will ignore it for as long as possible then say he already answered it.

    5) The person will project his own feelings onto the other person and attack the other person for “harboring” those feelings. Example: Accusing the other person of being angry while making an angry outburst.

    6) The person will attack the other person for referencing “biased” blogs and websites, yet use similarly biased blogs and websites of his own ideology.

    7) The person will attack the source of the information, often by large stretches of his imagination, rather than address the actual information.

    8) The person will use appeals to authority or appeals to personal experience that have little or no application to the current discussion.

    9) The person will use diversionary tactics to take the discussion off-course, rather than conceding a point, by introducing irrelevant information.

    10) The person quotes statistics and numbers without sourcing them and evades responding to requests for the source, yet will still continue to assert their being “fact” throughout the discussion.

    …”

    Xomba Forum

  43. A-B says:

    nico says:
    March 31, 2013 at 8:14 am

    “But, if it is not the sleeve, it could also be the socks or the scarf, who knows ?”

    It goes further than that, my friend. The sources of influence (and possibilities) are infinite! We have ‘color’ magic and ‘pattern’ magic, and some fabrics just feel ‘divine’. Then, of course, we have the synergy effect when they are assembled to make a ‘man’. You just can imagine the magical power of an Armani suit. And only “gods” know what a [Hugo] Boss suit would make some people do!! :-)

  44. Karl.. says:

    Roger,

    You raise good questions.
    Although,let say Leverett’s brought up the human rights situation, would Leverett’s thesis in the book become any more popular? Would the critics (Milani, Secor etc) begin to embrace it? The answer is no.

    Raising the topic of human rights is as you say simply a diversion, its like when pro-palestinians condemn Israeli warcrimes but are labeled antisemtic by the other crowd because this crowd dont want to deal with the topic of warcrimes.

    The Human rights issue is inflated by this crowd (Milani, Secor etc), the Leverett’s book deal with US interests, if you look at the allies and friends US have today in the world it is beyond clear that the US interests arent guided by human rights concerns or topics.
    With that being said there is no reason for Leverett’s to bring that topic up.

  45. A-B says:

    fy says:
    March 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I do agree with your “These leaders have a duty to the populace of their own countries’ to get them a better deal with other states.” I imagine these leaders would define this as: Let’s trade, but stay out of my business. But Western imperialists deliberately and methodically do the opposite: restricts Iran’s trade (with whomever she wishes) and constantly meddle in her business. If you can have a “Grand Bargain” with the Imperialist; go for it, by all means!!

    I take this response to clarify something that might be mistaken; I’m ONLY equating Milani with the kind of Secor, in his function as ‘professional observer’. He admits that Iranians in Iran know things better than “exiled intellectuals” [like him]; so he has chosen to be a WESTERN observer. This does not mean that he shares opinion with the Secor character in every detail. I mean they are all part of what may be called a Western ‘full spectrum dominance’ (if it is conspired or not, is irrelevant) which includes ‘progressives’, ‘leftists’, ‘anti-imperialists’, ‘alarmists’, ‘ISLAMISTS’ as well as blatant (neo)fascists in different shapes and shades (of, literally, skin color) . Where exactly Milani belongs is for him to decide.

  46. A-B says:

    revised response to nico says:
    March 31, 2013 at 8:14 am

    “But, if it is not the sleeve, it could also be the socks or the scarf, who knows ?”

    It goes further than that, my friend. The sources of influence (and possibilities) are infinite! We have ‘color’ magic and ‘pattern’ magic, and some fabrics just feel ‘divine’. Then, of course, we have the synergy effect when they are assembled to make a ‘man’. You just can imagine the magical power of an Armani suit. And only “gods” know what a [Hugo] Boss suit would make some people do!!

    Not to mention the power of PANTSUIT!! :-)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/07/hillary-clinton-angela-merkel-pantsuits_n_872788.html

  47. Fiorangela says:

    ToivoS says: March 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm
    “In addition to expatriate Iranians and Cuban that have had undo influence on US FP we can add a few other examples. George Kennan in his memoirs discussed how the expatriate losers from other countries made rational foreign policy difficult. He describes how the Croatian fascists and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators that immigrated to the US after WWII made it difficult to forge rational policy. . . .”
    = = = = = =

    Not just Croatians and Ukrainians, Toivo.

    Richard Breitman & Allan Lichtman’s “FDR and the Jews,” details efforts of Jewish leaders in the US — predominantly, Rabbi Stephen Wise — to persuade FDR’s administration to wage war on Nazi Germany. Heaviest emphasis is on the period 1933-1938, about which period the authors make this statement in the book’s Introduction:

    “Yet before the war [pre-Dec. 1941] Nazi oppression of German Jews followed a jagged trajectory. Some Nazi activists physically assaulted Jews in the early exuberant days of Hitler’s semilegal revolution. Once secure in their authority, Nazi officials curbed personal violence, but enacted a series of discriminatory laws and decrees, what contemporary observers called Hitler’s “cold pogrom” against Jews. Only in late 1938 did central authorities instigate the violence known as Kristallnacht –the night of Broken Glass – wiping out synagogues across the country in a matter of days. For the first time, the Gestapo imprisoned tens of thousands of German Jews in concentration camps that also held other alleged enemies of Hitler’s new Reich.”

    Having established that Jews in Germany were NOT victims of “personal violence” although they were subjected to “discriminatory laws and decrees,” which are elements of internal domestic policy, exactly as FDR’s White House, State Department, and diplomats argued, Breitman and Lichtman record scenarios in which Rabbi Wise and his fellow “expatriate” activists nevertheless persist in organizing provocations geared to derail US negotiations with NSDAP. Breitman and Lichtman write:

    “Under the influence of their own cultural bigotry and their commitment to nonintervention in the internal politics of foreign powers, the high officials in Roosevelt’s State Department discouraged all protests, demonstrations, and boycotts against Hitler’s persecution of Jews. They resisted any presidential or diplomatic rebuke of the Nazi regime.
    “Instead, FDR met privately with Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler’s economic adviser, who was visiting the United States in May 1933.
    [reminder: Breitman & Lichtman conceded that Jews were NOT subject to "personal violence" between 1933 and late-1938.] Roosevelt sought to lobby against German rearmament and to send a message to Berlin that Nazi persecution of Jews endangered German-American relations. Shortly after these meetings, Roosevelt said in a letter to Judge Lehman that “. . .It is probably better to do it this way than to send formal notes of protest because, frankly, I fear that the latter might result in reprisals in Germany.” FDR’s informal conversations with Schacht typified his inclination to convey his views to foreign leaders through backdoor channels. . . .
    “FDR likely believed that his discreet scolding of Schacht wold help German Jews. . . .Justice Brandeis saw through Schacht’s deceptions and told Rabbi Wise, “I hope none of our people will talk privately with Schacht. If he is to hear what we think it should be said pubicly; and under no circumstances should we dine with him anywhere . . . Schacht is evidently trying to reach privately influential Jews.” Wise could not resist attending a private dinner for Schacht, hosted by David Sarnoff, the Jewish founder of National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).”
    p. 60

    Very shortly after that dinner party,

    “Wise whipped up another round of protests, scheduled for May 10, 1933. . . He disregarded a personal plea from Adler “to abandon this parade on May 10 because the situation is so tense that the present German government may use any pretext for reprisals.” Warnings against demonstrations coming from German Jews, Wise said, were “not worth reading” because “a pistol is held at their heads” and they “are made desperate by their fears.” footnote 58 p. 63.

    The massive protest went on as scheduled.

    “This second round of anti-Nazi demonstrations did not stiffen White House policy toward the Nazis. Instead, FDR chose to conciliate Germany. In a major foreign policy address on May 16, 1933, [emphasis added] he offered Germany the prospect of parity with other powers by reducing military strength to a common level. He proposed that nations sign a nonaggression pact and indicated that the United States would not stand in the way of international enforcement. The next day Hitler made a conciliatory speech of his own. After the two speeches, Roosevelt boasted to Henry Morgenthau Jr., “I think I have averted a war . . .[sic] I think that sending that message to Hitler had a good effect.” Rabbi Wise agreed that FDR “has saved Germany from France. He has saved the world from war. In heaven’s name, why can’t he be moved to save the Jews of Germany?” However, Roosevelt’s adviser Samuel Rosenman told the American Jewish Committee that if the economic and disarmament conferences “fail, the result for the world at large and for the Jews in particular would be extremely unfavorable.” footnote 60″ pp. 61-62

    At the risk of pointing to obvious parallels:

    -Historians Breitman & Lichtman opened their argument by stating that German Jews were subject to “discrimination” –a matter of internal politics, but NOT to “personal violence” between 1933 and late-1938. Similarly, Iran is being punished for nuclear weapons that Iran does not really possess, and Iran’s internal affairs are not properly the concern of Israel, the United States or any other state.

    - Demonizing and boycotting Germany between 1933 and 1941 did nothing to resolve Germany’s internal politics nor, as Breitman & Lichtman state, did Wise’s rambunctious anti-German activism aid FDR’s administration in protecting US interests in a mutually beneficial and nonviolent manner; quite the contrary, Wise missed no opportunity to derail FDR’s efforts to resolve conflicts.
    Similarly, punishing Iran without justification will not cause Iran to capitulate. In addition, relative to Iran, AIPAC occupies the same space today as Wise did 70 years ago. Unfortunately, as Nico and others have pointed out, the US administration, State Department, Treasury, and Congress also seem more aligned with AIPAC than was the case 70 years ago.

    Rabbi Wise may have been the Abbas Milani, and more, of his day. Against the advice of wiser minds such as FDR adviser Rosenman, Wise and his fellow US-based activists “poked the rattle snake” until it uncoiled in fury. Seventy years later, let us hope wiser minds than Milani’s prevail, and that we can learn from history, rather than repeat it.

  48. nico says:

    ‘N-issue used to fight Iran influence’
    http://edition.presstv.ir/mobile/detail.aspx?id=296059

    This is the first half of the truth.

    The second half being with nukes, Iran policies could never be dictated in the future. As well as policies of Iran allies. It would be the end of more than 1 centuries of western dominance over the oil rich region. And the end of near 2 centuries of Imperial adventurism in Persian backyard, if we take into account the imperial Russia territory grab and the British quest in Afghanistan.

    Other explanations are incidentals or pure inventions.
    Like the propaganda regarding the existential threat against Israel.
    Like the children story concerning the risk of proliferation.
    Or the mad mullah fairy tale.

    Why the Leveretts do not adress the true stakes ?
    Targeting Milani is like attacking the propaganda of the existential threat to Israel.
    It debunks the lies propagated by the elites.
    It is commendable and courageous.
    However it does not adress the heart of the Matter.

    The heart of the matter being Westerners to accept a Multipolar world and one where Muslims in general and specifically Iranian have a say in their own future and the way they want to live.

    The west needs to abandon their Attila or Genghis Kan ways of treating other people and civilizations.

  49. nico says:

    Following last post.

    Some may assert that the way the US is dealing with the world is normal as might makes right.
    That is true, however values and humanity emancipation from barbaric state have some importance as well.

    The time of barbarism should come to an end.

    I believe we are in a special era where the information technology and average education of world polpulation allow the international system to work in more fair way.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski: It is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.
    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=1HFaJohG2vo&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D1HFaJohG2vo
    That was not the case in past times, control was easier than the killing.
    To paraphrase Brzezinski we are in an era of political awakening of people over the world.

    Somehow the same analysis has been made by Iran leaders, however with another tone.

    Amadhinejad: Era of warfare is over, all nations call for establishment of justice, respect and freedom
    http://www.president.ir/en/42148

    That being said, the US had a unique occasion after the fall of USSR to implement more humanist policies.
    As the world only superpower the US set the standard.

    Well, they chose to control by killing millions. That tells much about the morality of US (shock) civilizational thinkers. And that deserve big kudos…

    Concerning Israel, as stated in an earlier thread the issue is incidental to western dominance over ME and to the power imbalance between western countries and arab ones.
    Should the power imbalance be equalized, the palestinian issue would disappear overnight.
    Stated in another way, the Isreal issue is only an emanation of the wider western colonial mind-set issue.

  50. nico says:

    Brzezinsky say APAIC is bad for the US
    http://m.youtube.com/#/results?q=brzezinski%20iran
    Yep, like a husband telling his wife that the necklace she desires is too expensive.
    The necklace by itself is not the problem, the budget is.

    All know the great estime of Mr Brzezinsky for human dignity and the specially the palestinian one.
    He only does not share the same priority than other of his collegues, but he is in the same inhuman league.

  51. Nasser says:

    “Iran, Turkey resume gold trade despite US sanctions”

    http://presstv.com/detail/2013/04/01/296078/iran-turkey-resume-gold-trade/

  52. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Do you actually believe western public opinion has no bearing on western foreign policy?

  53. nico says:

    CNN lies about Iran, Syria: Ex-reporter.

    Wow, what a surprise…

    Everybody with an interest in politics, be it domestic or foreign, know the junk fed by the MSM to the 99%.

    The first step is the control of the few main world press agencies (afp, ap, reuters) which are as well/tightly controlled by the western governments as the media in NK.
    It is well known that those agencies are as impartial and independant as VOA or the BBC.
    Their news directly come from the western state departments and intelligence services.
    The press agencies make more than 90% of the news.

    Then you have the MSM controlled by a few mega coporations.
    More than 90% is relayed from press agencies, the rest represents the interests of the 1%.

    Fortunately you have internet to get real news.

    Amber Lyon reveals CNN lies and war propaganda

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=CFDC7zmJgQg&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DCFDC7zmJgQg

    http://www.media-alliance.org/article.php?id=2176

  54. Smith says:

    Nasser,

    Pertinent to our previous discussion regarding Iran’s disastrous decline of total fertility rate: http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13920111000059

  55. Dave says:

    Dr. Abass Milani is a descendant of Ayatollah Milani. (Milani means from Milan – a small town in Iran’s Azarbayejan — just as Khomeini means from Khomein). Abass’ maternal uncles held cabinet-level positions during the Shah’s rule.
    “Born in Iran in 1949, [Abass] came as a teenager to California, where he completed high school, attended college, and embraced Maoist Marxism. After earning a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Hawaii, he returned to Iran and” and began teaching at the National University of Iran(NUI) in 1974-75 academic year. At the National University of Iran, Dr. Miliani was a close friend of Dr. Manouchehr Ganji – at the time, an adjunct professor at NUI but an advisor to, and confidant of the Queen Farah. [Dr. Ganji was the Minister of Education in the Amouzegar cabinet]. Prior to his arrest in 1977, Dr. Milani was Queen Farah’s speech-writer – he wrote speeches that the Queen delivered in English in the Western venues in mid-1970’s on how the Shah had promoted women’s right, human rights, arts, etc., in Iran. At the same time, Dr. Milani portrayed himself as an authentic leftist to the gullible students, in-or-out of class rooms, particularly in the field-trips that were organized and shepherded by him. SAVAK arrested Dr. Milani on return from his last “field trip”, in which he must have over-played his Marxist-Maoist credentials. Shortly after the arrest, Housahang Sabeti, Savak’s chief torturer, had assured Dr. Ganji that Dr Milani was not being mistreated because he had been fully cooperative from the moment of his arrest. (…Az dagigaheh avval bazdasht, Abbas darad ainea bolbol etraff mikonad. Chera shekanjeh?!). Dr. Milani was given a ten-year prison term. Shortly then-after, in a series of articles that were published in the Iranian press, Dr. Milani, in “eloquent” Persian renounced his prior beliefs and ideologies, heaped praise on the Shah’s “White Revolution”, and was certain that Iranians were about to reach the “Gates of the Great Civilization” that the Aryameher had envisioned for them. Dr. Milani, through his writings in English and Persian, prior to-and-after his arrest, had established his talent and credentials to act as “a polished ideologue of the [shah’s] regime”. Had the Shah’s regime lasted a few more years, Dr. Milani was destined to be released from prison in a year or so, and be given a position commensurate with his talents, credentials, and familial background. This, however, was not to be. The “release of all political prisoners” was among the first demand of the demonstrators that the Shah’s regime was forced to comply with. And, in the mid-1988, Dr. Milani, along with other political prisoners, were released from jail. Ironically, the Islamic Revolution that had freed Dr. Milani from the Shah’s jail, had also put to waste the investments and sacrifices that he had made in establishing his credentials for acting as “a polished ideologue of the [Shah’s] regime”.
    Iranian universities were mostly closed in 1978 and early part of 1979. Shortly after the Revolution and the re-opening of the universities, however, Dr. Miliani was able to join the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the University of Tehran. Dr. Milani taught at the University of Tehran until his departure to California in 1986. During this period, Dr. Milani managed to stay out of harm’s way. A couple of such harms that were visited to Dr. Milani’s colleagues are worth mentioning.
    First, in the 2nd half of 1979, a number of professors at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the University of Tehran had signed-off to an open letter that was widely circulated in Iran. In the letter, the signatories had raised alarm against the rumored intention of some clerics to enact and enforce Shariah Law. Some of the signatories of the open letter were made to pay for the indiscretion. Dr. Milani either did not sign the open letter and/or was not made to pay for the discretion.
    Second, the “Cultural Revolution” led to a 2-year closure of the Iranian universities and extensive purge of the faculty members in the early 1980s. Particularly targeted were the faculty members that were insufficiently in tune with the Islamic Revolution, had espoused leftist ideologies, or had praised the Shah and collaborated with his regime. Dr. Milani was an ideal candidate for the purges. How did he manage to survive the purges?

  56. Karl.. says:

    I had missed obama’s nowruz speech.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xTQms-9EYaI

    Such phony. First he reach out to iranian people and want to be friends with them, then he say the pressure will go on against them, above that he blame the sanctions he have imposed on iranian government!
    Will Obama in the future, like Albright once said say: “we think it was worth it”?

    Also note how Obama this time doesnt say the two word: “Islamic republic” as in his first nowruz speech…

  57. nico says:

    Mister 20%,

    Did you ever heard of opinion makers or spin doctors ?
    The public opinion makes their opinion with the information fed to them.
    You know, s…. in s…. out.

  58. nico says:

    Ali Akbar Salehi says the West attempts to change its approach toward Iran from one of confrontation to interaction because it has realized that the Islamic Republic is the most powerful nation in the Middle East. 

    http://edition.presstv.ir/mobile/detail.aspx?id=296164

    This is the point defended by the Leveretts
    However, that remains to be seen by facts on the ground.
    Not sure the west turned their back to their centuries old ways in the ME yet.
    There is no sign or open statements from the US that they accept a Multipolar world.
    Obvioulsly the unilateral moment is an abject failure.
    Maybe I missed something, but I did not hear a alternate message from US civilizational thinkers.
    On the contrary, the west pursue its, era long, policies as seen in Lybia, Syria or Barhein.

  59. Fiorangela says:

    Karl.. says: April 2, 2013 at 6:38 am

    What a cynical ploy — in the guise of a Nowrooz greeting, Obama served up warmed over leftovers.


    Couldn’t help but notice that the left side of O’s mouth rises just like Dick Cheney’s. Is there some neurological reason for that facial asymmetry? Wonder if it occurs during all of Obama’s public speaking, or only when he is lying through his teeth.

  60. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says:

    April 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Of course it is a cynical ploy.

    That is what world politics is – thugs trying to out-maneuvre one another.

  61. kooshy says:

    James Canning says:
    April 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Gavnar James

    Gav- Western general public opinion like any other in the world is shaped by its governed licensed fawning media; besides if any western country (e.g.UK) slightly feels threaten by rogue media (PressTV) they will easily find a way to shout them up.
    So yes my answer which in a nutty way I think you also subscribe to, is a confirmative yes, I actually think( especially in case of Muslim countries) the western governments can, will and have shaped their public opinion to what their policy is. This is true even if and when racism becomes a necessary policy to uphold colonialism (e.g. Israel).

  62. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    The manner in which the EU dealt with Cyprus in the banking crisis last month owed a great deal to German public opinion.

    Public opinion is important, and for this reason the Israel lobby works night and day to influence it.

  63. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    Turkey and Iran are the two strongest countries in the Middle East. (In offensive military striking power, Israel is the strongest.)

  64. James Canning says:

    nico,

    I take it you do not agree with Kooshy, that public opinion in the west is not important.

  65. Avg American says:

    Nico,
    The term ‘westerner’ /’western’ is used loosely in many posts. Not specifically defined. However, bear in mind some ‘westerners’ like amber Lyon as you posted are not listening to MSM. What amber Lyon showed with Bahrain is what happens daily in everyone’s life( with regard to the monetary conspiracies) whether they realize it or not. Most people could care less to say the truth. I can’t stand it and that’s probably why I’m reading the blogs on this site in the first place. If Americans are smart enough to identify what is actually going on a lot just shut up and go with the flow bc their lives will be more difficult. The lies are incredible in this country – on a political scale obviously terribly detrimental but they are present in every day life as well. However, the amber Lyons in the ‘west’ do exist. You just have a harder time finding them. After hearing how terrible a ‘westerner’ is to many here I hate to be lumped in with that description because that’s really not what I am truthfully. I hope I have not offended you or anyone else.

  66. PB says:

    I think the personal attacks on Milani were a mistake despite the fact that he is a fraud.

    I think the leveretts should have taken the high road.

    Milani not only hates the regime, he also hates the country he has originated from.