What’s Wrong with Washington’s Iran Debate (2)—The Leveretts Respond to Ray Takeyh on Going to Tehran

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In its February-March 2013 issue, Survival (the journal of the International Institute of Strategic Studies) published a “review” of our book, Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, by Ray Takeyh.  Because of subscription limitation, we cannot post the review in its entirety.  In February, however, we posted some excerpts—as well as a scintillating essay by Nima Shirazi responding to Takeyh.  Now, Survival has published our response to Takeyh in its April-May issue.  We append it below:

Objectivity and the Iran Debate

Sir,

After reading Ray Takeyh’s review of our Going to Tehran:  Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran (Survival, February-March 2013, pp. 178-181), we are compelled to note that it is unethical for a reviewer (and his publisher) not to acknowledge circumstances which raise questions about the reviewer’s objectivity in assessing a particular book.  Such might be the case if a book under review severely criticized the reviewer’s own work.

One of our major themes in Going to Tehran is that America’s Iran debate is dominated by foreign policy pundits and Iran “experts” with, in most cases, no direct connection to on-the-ground reality inside Iran; many of these “experts” are Iranian expatriates or Iranian-Americans whose families fled the Iranian Revolution and want to see the Islamic Republic fail.  We lay out, in thoroughly referenced detail, the misleading analyses of Iranian politics and foreign policy that such people have produced.  These include analyses by Takeyh himself—something which Takeyh never mentions, much less addresses, as he smears us as “apologists” for “the mullahs” in Tehran.

In our book, we document the long record of howlingly wrong assessments and projections that Takeyh has produced—from his data- and fact-free assertions that Iran’s 2009 presidential election was fraudulent to his insistence that the Islamic Republic is too dependent on anti-Americanism to improve relations with Washington (an insistence that ignores a 25-year accumulation of statements from the highest-level Iranian authorities and an equally long and documented record of efforts by Iranian leaders to respond positively to American requests for cooperation and to proffer their own overtures).  Put more bluntly, Going to Tehran makes a substantial case that Takeyh is professionally incompetent; given this, how could anyone consider him an objective reviewer of our book?

If Survival wants to stage a debate between the Leveretts and Takeyh, this could, in principle, be structured in an intellectually responsible fashion.  But it is intellectually irresponsible—indeed, deeply deceptive—that, in an ostensibly objective review of our book, neither Takeyh nor Survival’s editors informed readers of critical facts that would almost certainly affect those readers’ assessments of Takeyh’s objectivity.  (For Takeyh then to accuse us of “moral confusion” is especially ironic.)

Besides critiquing the analytic record of a cadre of Western Iran “experts” disproportionately populated by expatriates hostile to the Islamic Republic, Going to Tehran holds that, until Americans stop listening to such people, Washington will continue pursuing dangerously dysfunctional policies toward Iran and losing ground in the Middle East.  For decades—from the Bay of Pigs to the even more strategically counter-productive invasion of Iraq—American elites have embraced expatriate native authenticators willing to provide intellectual validation for regime change campaigns (declared and undeclared) against governments that challenge U.S. foreign policy preferences.

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, America’s Iraq debate was dominated by Iraqi and other Arab expatriate activists and commentators—from defectors with code names like Curveball and political entrepreneurs like Ahmad Chalabi to seemingly more respectable “public intellectuals” like Kanan Makiya and Fouad Ajami.  American elites saw these expatriates as lending an indigenous authenticity to the case for coercive regime change in Iraq.  Those who dared to challenge that case were smeared as “apologists” for an evil dictator.  But the assessments offered by these expatriates—about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the character of post-Saddam Iraqi politics, and the impact of Saddam’s overthrow on the regional balance of power and regional attitudes about the United States—were profoundly wrong.  As a result, the United States is in a much weaker position in the Middle East.

One reason we wrote Going to Tehran was our belief that, if Washington launches another illegal war in the Middle East, to disarm yet another country of weapons of mass destruction it does not have, the “blowback” to America’s strategic standing will make the damage done by the Iraq war look almost trivial in comparison.  If we once again allow decision-making regarding another critical state, about which Western leaders know next to nothing, to be shaped by agenda-driven analyses like that produced by Takeyh and others whose work we critique, disaster will be the result.

Given all that is at stake, Survival owes its readers open intellectually honest discussion of Iran-related issues.  Takeyh’s review of our book abjectly fails to meet that standard.

Flynt Leverett

Hillary Mann Leverett

McLean, VA

We should note that, in the same issue of Survival in which our letter is published, Takeyh offers a two-sentence reply to it:  “I stand by every word of my review.  Going to Tehran is a morally deformed book.”

The first responsibility of a political analyst—morally as well as intellectually—is to get the analysis right.  What is “morally deformed” is to continue getting analyses of Iran’s foreign policy and internal politics wrong—episode after episode, year after year, manufactured crisis after manufactured crisis—because of one’s personal sense that Iran is supposed to be a secular liberal state (regardless of what the Iranian people want) and/or that the United States should be able to act as a hegemonic power in the Middle East.  On that count, Takeyh and too many other Iran “experts” in the United States have much for which to answer.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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90 Responses to “What’s Wrong with Washington’s Iran Debate (2)—The Leveretts Respond to Ray Takeyh on Going to Tehran”

  1. Dave says:

    Milani & the Leveretts: TRUTH & DEMENTIA

    Dr. Abass Milani, in his review of the Going to Tehran, all but accuses the Leveretts of being on the pay of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). Milani could, but does not link the Leveretts to the plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington. The refusal to link the Leveretts to the plot, however, has more to do with the Milani’s “civility” than the dearth of evidence. After all the FBI identified IRI as having hatched the plot, the UNGA condemned the plot, and Milani, in his book review, proves that the Leveretts are on the pay of the IRI and locates them at the crime scene, in Maryland.

    The Leveretts, in their response to the Milani’s review, implicitly admit that their knowledge of Persian is minimal; deny that they live in Maryland or that Dr Mirandi Sr. is “a physician to Khamenei “; insist on “cherry-picking facts and creating factoids”; and do not address the question as to who pays them for their services to the IRI.

    In his rejoinder, Dr. Milani begins by pointing out that the Leveretts have picked-up the habits of “incivility, scandalous personal attacks in lieu of principled political discourse” from their “interlocutors” in Iran. He then proceeds to set the record straight on his views regarding the US-Iran relations; on the reliability and relevance of the elections in the IRI; on whether the Leveretts live in Maryland or in Virginia; and on whether Dr. Mirandi Sr. is or is not “a physician to Khamenei”.

    In what follows, I intend to highlight the sources and significance of the factual disputes on the Leveretts knowledge of Persian, the Leveretts’ home state, and on Dr. Mirandi, Sr., being “a physician to Khamenei”. I conclude that dementia accounts, at least in part, for the Milani-Leveretts disputes.

    Leveretts Knowledge of Persian
    In his book review, Dr. Milani says that:
    “The Leveretts’ apologia for the Iranian regime can be attributed in part to the politics of their ‘interlocutors’. Judging by their footnotes, virtually all in English, the Leveretts have little knowledge of the Persian language. This also accounts for their exceedingly partial understanding of the Iranian situation.”
    And, in his rejoinder, Dr. Milani says:
    “I had said that virtually all of what this couple knows about Iran comes from their “interlocutors” in the regime, as they themselves are not lettered in Persian. How can they, I asked, with only second-hand knowledge of Iran, so confidently dismiss the testimony from the many critics who actually know the country and language, including…”
    The Leveretts have never claimed that they know Persian. But neither have they refused to examine any Persian text or document — supplied by Dr. Milani, et.al. – that could help complete their “understanding of the Iranian situation” or upgrade their “second-hand knowledge” of Iran. Nonetheless, one may ask, how is the Leveretts ignorance of Persian is related to their selection of their “interlocutors”—be it in Iran or in the United States?

    Leveretts, the self-declared “guardians” of Iranian people, and Maryland residency

    At the end of his review, Milani says that his recommended US policy towards Iran amounts to:
    “… a hard defense of the rights of the Iranian people to choose their own government, and a rejection of all self-declared ‘guardians’ of the Iranian people, whether they reside in Maryland or in Tehran.”

    In their rejoinder, the Leveretts do not confirm or deny that they regard themselves to be “guardians” of the Iranian people. But they do deny residing “in Maryland”. Why? Because the Leveretts assumed that it was possible to prove, even to Dr. Milani’s satisfaction, that they do not reside in Maryland. On the other hand, they considered it impossible to convince Dr. Milani that they have never claimed or aspired to be “guardians” of the Iranian people.

    The Leveretts say that:
    “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.”

    In his rejoinder, Dr. Milani says that:
    “It is remarkable that they [the Leveretts] would presume they are the only self-declared “guardians” of Iran living in America, but to clarify: in choosing Maryland, rather than their actual residence—whose details are provided in the Esquire profile I cite in my review—I was not directly and solely referring to them, but a larger cohort of regime apologists in the nation’s capital.”

    In other words, Dr. Milani regards it to be presumptuous for the Leveretts to consider themselves to be“…the only self-declared “gurdians” of Iran living in America,..”.
    He goes on to say that he had relied on the “Esquire profile”, rather than the back jacket flap of the book he had reviewed, to locate the Leveretts residence. This was presumably because in the Esquire profile — unlike in the Leveretts’ book — Dr. Milani had found the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth!
    Finally, Dr. Milani says that he chose Maryland – not as a state where the Leveretts reside – but where “a larger cohort of regime apologist in the nation’s capital” do or should reside.

    Is Dr. Marandi, Sr. a “physician to Khamenei”?
    In his book review, Dr. Milani says that:
    “The problem [with the Leveretts and their book] is that virtually all their 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 Khamenei—he is connected to the very center of power.”
    In their response, the Leveretts find it pointless to dispute Milani as to the exact share of “…their knowledge about Iran” that comes from their Iranian “interlocutors” and/or Seyed Mohammad Marandi, They do not find it useful to argue that Mohammad Marandi is “a scholar well connected with Iranian foreign policy circles” and not a mere “polished ideologue of the regime”. Nor do they attempt to deny that “…through his father…[Mohammad Marandi] is connected to the very center of power” in Iran. They only contest Milani’s “truth” regarding Marandi’s father being “a physician to Khamenei”. Why?
    The Leveretts contend that:
    “…[Milani’s] 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….The claim that Dr. Marandi is Khamenei’s physician comes from Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an expatriate…”
    In other words, the Leveretts focus exclusively on the claim that Marandi Sr. is “a physician to Khamenei” because they regard only that part of Milani’s “truth” to be “objectively testable”. They say that Dr. Marandi Sr., being a neonatologist, could not be a physician to the 73-year-old Khamenei. The Leveretts, assume – incorrectly as it turns out — that their evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that the – Marandi Sr. relationship cannot be of a patient- doctor type. In vain, the Leveretts try to offer Dr. Milani a respectable path for retraction by saying that the “…claim that Dr. Marandi is Khamenei’s physician [must have] come from Mohsen Maklmalbak..”

    Dr. Milani, however, is a man who stands up for his “truth”. In his rejoinder, Dr. Milani says:
    “…My information about Marandi Sr. is not from Mohsen Makhmalbaff…. The truth is that I was living in Iran, and teaching at Tehran University when Dr. Marandi was for many years the Minister of Health—Khamenei was then the president, and Dr. Marandi was known even then to be one of the president’s trusted advisors. Moreover, I learned through the research for my biography of the Shah that when the U.S. government was considering issuing a visa to the Shah for cancer treatment in 1980, the Carter administration agreed to the demands from the Islamic regime that two trusted Iranian physicians examine the Shah and confirm that he did in fact have cancer. Dr. Marandi Sr. (as the Leveretts gleefully point out, a neonatologist) was enough of an “insider” even then to be one of the two physicians picked by the Islamic regime to examine the (60 year old) Shah. The examination never took place because the Shah demurred. Like Khomeini before him, Khamenei too has an array of trusted physicians—including orthopedic surgeons who operated on his hands when he was subjected to a failed assassination attempt, as well as Dr. Marandi Sr, and others.”
    Accordingly to Dr. Milani, he himself, rather than Mohsen Makhmalbaff, is the source of “the truth” on whether Dr. Marandi Sr. is – or is not – “a physician to Khamenei”. And, how did Dr. Milani come to “the truth”? First, while the Leveretts may regard Dr. Marandi Sr. as neonatologist, to the Mullahs in Iran he has always been a geriatrician. Otherwise, he would not have been “one of the two physicians picked by the Islamic regime to examine the (60 year old) Shah”. Second, Khamenei, like Khomeini before him, has “an array of trusted physicians – including orthopedic surgeons…, as well as Dr. Marandi Sr. and others”. Third, and as the good Doctor says, as early as the 1980s, Dr. Marandi Sr., the then Minister of Health “was known…to be one of” the-then President Khamenei’s “trusted advisors”. Finally, Dr. Milani insists that the Marandis – father and son – were, and are “insiders” of the Islamic regime.
    Dr. Milani: An “insider” or suffering from dementia?
    In the process of proving that Dr. Marandi is “a physician to Khamenei”, Dr. Milani simultaneously displays symptoms of an “insider” to the regime, and of someone suffering from dementia.
    One “insider’s” symptom is his detailed information on the “array of trusted physicians” that Khamenei has. Another is his detailed information as to those who were the “trusted advisors” to President Khamenei in the 1980s. The information regarding Dr. Marandi’s nomination to examine the Shah comes from Dr. Milani researching the Shah’s biography and, hence, is not an “insider’s” symptom.
    One indication that Dr. Milani may be suffering from dementia can be found in his recollection of the 1980’s. He says that he
    “…was living in Iran, and teaching at Tehran University when Dr. Marandi was for many years the Minister of Health—Khamenei was then the president, and Dr. Marandi was known even then to be one of the president’s trusted advisors.”
    The problem with Dr. Milani’s recollection is that in the 1980s, though Khamenei was the president, Mir Hussein Mousavi was the prime minster, and Marandi Sr., as the Minster of Health, was in Mousavi’s cabinet. Is it likely that Mossavi knew less than Dr. Milani about members “…of the president’s trusted advisors”? And, if Mousavi knew that Dr. Marandi was “…one of Khamenei’s trusted advisors”, why did he keep Marandi in his cabinet? Is it not more likely that Dr. Milani’s memory is failing?
    Another indication of Dr Milani’s dementia can be found in the information he provides regarding the “array of trusted physicians” that the Supreme Leaders of IRI have had. According to Milani:
    “Like Khomeini before him, Khamenei too has an array of trusted physicians—including orthopedic surgeons who operated on his hands when he was subjected to a failed assassination attempt, as well as Dr. Marandi Sr, and others.”
    No one can question the information that Milani has, but does not disclose, regarding Khomeinei’s “array of trusted physicians”. But the information he provides regarding Khamenei’s “trusted physicians” bears some scrutiny.
    Khamenei was the victim of an attempted assassination in June 1981 — months before he was elected president. Khamenei’s right arm has been paralyzed since then. Orthopedic surgeons may have been among those who operated on Khamenei at the time. But they could not – and cannot — restore Khamenei’s use of his right arm. How likely is it for Khamenei to include orthopedic surgeons, along with neonatologist, in his “array of trusted physicians”?
    All in all, there are some indications — worth pursuing by the specialists — that Dr. Milani may be suffering from dementia.

  2. fyi says:

    The Leveretts:

    You are right – in all fields of human endeavor there is a Truth.

    In Political Analysis also one must strive to determine the “Political Truth” as much as one is capable of reaching it.

    The moral responsibility is always to the discovery of “Truth” – no doubt.

    In regard to the “Secular Liberal State” – that is impossible in Muslim polities.

    It will never happen as long as Islam is a living presence in the minds and lives of those polities.

  3. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Peter Jenkins gets it utterly wrong in the latest Asia Times…See my comment to the article on the site.

    Iran’s nuclear father gives US a clue
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-02-050413.html

  4. Richard Steven Hack says:

    More propaganda to justify an Israeli attack on Lebanon…

    Amidror: UNIFIL failing to track Hezbollah arms
    http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Amidror-UN-failed-in-reporting-Hezbollah-weapons-308726

  5. Karl.. says:

    US/P5+1/Israel dont want to reach any deal, their ultimate goal for now is the likely demonstrations after the coming iranian presidential election in June that they want to make use of…

  6. nico says:

    Ouch, that is pretty punchy.
    It is well deserved.
    Utter fallacies and idiocy, should be confronted with strong words.

  7. nico says:

    Partial repost from previous thread.

    Could anyone remind me what was the US goal and the strategy in Irak ?
    Actually, even now, I am not sure to understand,.
    Am I stupid, or this war (as the Afghan war) was truly useless and nonsensical ?

    Some US senators like Graham and McCain still believe the US made the right choice.
    Like Albright who declared years after it ended that the Irak embargo was worth it.

    With such people not held accountable, still in power or having influence while they bankrupted their country, how is it possible for the US to think they can make good decisions on Iran and face the future.

    And still you have the MSM relaying their good words.

    The US is like a drunkard in comatose state. A truy sad situation.

  8. Karl.. says:

    Israel’s top advocate keep talking nonsense about Iran.

    http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2013/04/canada-support-bahrain-royal-repression.html

  9. James Canning says:

    Bravo, Leveretts!

  10. ToivoS says:

    Now that was one serious rebuttal of Takeyh’s review. Masterfully done as well. Convinced the world that Takeyh is a loser, an incompetent and lacks a moral compass without one ad hominem insult.

  11. ToivoS says:

    Dave says:
    April 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm
    Milani & the Leveretts: TRUTH & DEMENTIA

    Could someone explain what the hell Dave is saying in his long post. I am totally confused.

  12. fy says:

    All:

    Dr. Cordesman on US options:

    http://csis.org/publication/iran-waiting-option

    Settlement with Iran is not an option, evidently.

  13. Pirouz says:

    It’s admirable for the Leveretts to dare these expats to debates. But there will be no takers, I believe.

    These folks are all-emotion, and any scrutiny of their claims in a public, substantive debate will render of reduced career standing and at risk of detachment from their paymasters.

    Look, I’m of partial Native American descent. Imagine how it was for my grandfather’s people, the very precious few that survived the North American genocide of the 18th and 19th centuries. Do you think for a moment they considered expatriation? Sure, Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake temporarily withdrew to Canada but he returned to face the music. That’s where a person like myself simply does not get these evil-hearted Iranian expats.

    My Iranian dad, himself disdaining of the IRI during his lifetime, used to observe of these Iranian expatriates the wealth they withdrew from Iran at a time when that country was nation building pretty much from scratch during wartime. Obviously, from the time these losers left until the time they pass away from old age, there’s will always be a game of petty, emotion-based opportunism the likes of which America witnessed with its expatriate losers following the outcome of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.

  14. nico says:

    How surprising..
    http://news.yahoo.com/world-powers-iran-start-second-day-nuclear-talks-061452660.html

    “Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, wants major economic sanctions – including on its oil exports and banks – lifted and its right to enrich uranium publicly recognised.

    The six nations, however, say this right only applies when nuclear work is carried out under sufficient oversight by U.N. inspectors, something Iran has refused to grant. Since 2006, the U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop the process.”

    Yep, the powers agree with Iran nuclear rights, BUT, without enrichment, heavy water reactor, waste reprocessing, space program development, ability to export weapon to anybody etc…
    In the face of that the west keeps and expends its nukes, have bases in many countries in the region, has been commiting crimes against humanity, are still supportive of an apartheid state and the most reactionary dictotrship in the region, has been bombing Pak with dromes, etc…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/04/david-cameron-trident-north-korea

    Obviously Iran is the bad guy in ton and the west is defending justice and human rights…

    Well, the outcome of the talks is clear !

  15. nico says:

    The expatriates are the excuse in Iran, were in Irak.
    The israel lobby is the excuse in palestine
    The terrorists are the excuse in Afghanistan and Pak.
    The other ME countries are banana republics.

    The end result is the west dominating and trampling the region.

    How practicable !

  16. nico says:

    The western countries need to be kicked out of the ME.
    Period

  17. nico says:

    The western position about Iran is all about the continuation of the ME domination and looting. They want to keep their old ways going on.
    Accepting Iran capabilities would be the sign of the western acceptance of the loss of their former domination.
    It is all about geopolicy. Iranian expatriates are only covers.

    As usual Iran speaks the truth when they request the West to enter dialog and positive relation with mutual respect.
    That is the crux of the matter. The west is against such ways in the ME.

    Well the west will be forced to do just that.
    In the mean timethey will have lost all their economic leverage with Iran and abandonned their position to China and Russia.

    It is too late now for the west to milk anything out of the negociation.
    The west, waited too long, escalated to nowhere and has lost its gambit.
    It is finished.
    What remains for them is only shameful defeat and failure at the end of the road.
    This is not that serious, the west is now used to such failure after Irak and Afghanistan.

    The only option of the west is to play on its bad faith and procrastinate in order to push the failure down the road.

  18. Karl.. says:

    Leveretts book have already got 27 reviews on Amazon, thats quite good for a book dealing with this ‘discredited’ thesis (ignore the obvious 1 star reviews, even Scott Lucas is there, guess he became mope when Leverett’s called him out in their book.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Going-Tehran-United-Islamic-Republic/dp/0805094199

  19. Roger says:

    Great rebuttal! Keep it up, somehow your positions will percolate up the food chain.

  20. Roger says:

    Just made a positive review on Amazon. So make that 28!

  21. nico says:

    fy says:
    April 6, 2013 at 2:01 am

    Dr. Cordesman on US options:
    http://csis.org/publication/iran-waiting-option

    As usual it is diplomatic coded language full of half truth and nonsensical mainstream narrative providing policy recommandation clothed in reasonable premises and exeptionalism, when it is all about domination.

    “We may have to use force against Iran. It may provoke clashes or a conflict in the Gulf, or it may refuse any realistic diplomatic solution to its growing capabilities to produce nuclear weapons. If there is anything we should have learned from 10 years of two wars, however, it is that the cautions senior officers like Admiral Mike Mullen and General Martin Dempsey have given about the risks of war are all too accurate. War is the perfect recipe for unpredictable and uncontrollable events, and the primary law of war is the law of unintended consequences.”

    Translation :
    The US blundered badly in the ME and are in a truly bad position.
    They cannot afford another war in the ME.
    In any case, the other world powers will not allow it and Iran is to strong a country to be trampled on without distratrous consequences for the west.
    If that was not the case, the west would have been happy to destroy Iran without remorse.

    “As has just been discussed, a preventive attack could push Iran toward negotiations. But it could also push it into a major new acceleration of its nuclear programs and the ongoing regional arms race and/or toward asymmetric warfare in the Gulf or against Israel.”

    Translation :
    Iran is too strong an opponent to be dealt with by simply attacking her.

    “Furthermore, the historical tension between the United States and Iran, as well as an Iranian foreign policy and military doctrine that are centered on neutralizing U.S. conventional power in the region, make it unlikely that Iran will give up the added deterrence, perceived increase in regional influence, and ability to intimidate that only a nuclear breakout capability or deployed nuclear force can provide.”

    Translation :
    Given western proven history of domination and crimes in the ME, it is not likely, Iran will give up her nuclear program.
    Iran is a power competitor in the region.

    “Iran is all too likely to continue to develop its ballistic missile program as both a weapon of intimidation and a means to deliver a nuclear warhead should Iran successfully miniaturize a nuclear device. Given the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles, U.S. installations in the Gulf, U.S. allies in the Middle East, and much of southeast Europe will then be in range of an Iranian nuclear missile.”

    Translation :
    Bad Iranians have something to defend themselves with. Such inferior people should not be able to. Too bad (whining effect)

    “Grim and uncertain as the prospect is, the United States must then consult with its Arab Gulf and European allies and seriously consider preventive attacks. It should seek to keep Israel out of the equation simply because of the tension any Israeli role would create in terms of Arab reaction and its impact on Islamic extremism and terrorism.”

    Translation :
    The Iran policy should be managed by the US and client states, be it Israel, ME banana republics or EU lapdogs, they all must follow the US leadership.
    But as stated at the begining it is impossible to attack Iran, consequently we have the following.

    “The alternative is containment, and this means that key U.S. allies, the flow of world energy exports, and U.S and global economies would have to live under the growing shadow of an Israeli-Iranian nuclear arms race—moreover, an arms race where the forces involved ensure that the primary targets will be the other country’s population centers.
    Accepting the risk of containment requires a belief in Iran’s restraint, in mutual deterrence based on a new regional form of mutual assured destruction, and accepting the risk that other nations will join the race. It involves the risk of some miscalculation or accident triggering a disaster with massive humanitarian and economic costs.
    Accepting that risk also means the United States must do everything possible to provide its Arab allies, Turkey, and Europe with missile defenses and to improve Israel’s missile defenses. It means making good on the U.S. offer of extended deterrence to protect other states—potentially dragging the United States into at least the periphery of a regional nuclear arms race and potential nuclear conflict. It also means living with the near certainty of tying the continuing asymmetric arms race in the Gulf, and the constant risk of clashes or more serious conflicts, to the risk of a linkage between Iran’s use of asymmetric warfare and future acquisition of nuclear forces.”

    Translation :
    There is no choice other than to live with the independant Iranian power. And the US need to manage Iran by creating a kind of new power balance by arming the local tyrants and the apartheid state to the teeth.
    It would enable the US to keep their client states under control and have a devide and conquer policy in order to continue to get incluence in the region.

    “The prospect of such a change really altering Iran’s actions and ambitions is all too uncertain—and many of the claims that the regime is fragile and easy to change seem a triumph of hope and ideology over common sense. Yet, successful negotiations, containment, and waiting do seem to be far better than talking about war as if it had predictable and safe results.”

    Translation :
    The US have no other choice and are powerless.
    The only reasonable action is to limit the loss.
    Actually there is no way the US could respect Iran and give up the intoxicating effect of having power over their client states.

    Conclusion :
    It is purely a defensive position.
    However it does not into account Iran actions and power growth in the futher.
    It does neither include the potential awakening in the ARbab client states, or the influence of the BRICS and specially China, or the spreading financial crisi in the west.
    Thus the whole Cordesman argument terribly weak and lack vision of a bright future.

  22. fy says:

    nico says:
    April 6, 2013 at 8:26 am

    The P5+1 are opposed to Iran being a threshold nuclear-weapons state.

    The American Block, further, has used the nuclear file in pursuit of her its regime-change policy in Iran.

    Very many Americans, inside and outside of US Government, understand the reasons for Iran’s insistence on becoming/being a threshold nuclear-weapon state.

    And those reasons – which I have tried to articulate over the last few months on this forum, are not assailable – Americans have been able to and could not rebut them.

    Those are very valid reasons.

    However, there are also very many Americans inside and outside of the United States Government whose attitude is “My Way or Highway!”.

    Now, after 10 years, the nuclear file has become a point of prestige and honor for Axis Powers as well as China and Russia.

    When their escalation to UNSC failed to intimidate Iran, they piled on more and more – escalating to Strategic Nowhere.

    For Axis Powers, war is another escalation to strategic nowhere since it commits them to partial occupation of Iranian territory for decades and reprises the experience of Israel in Southern Lebanon.

    It pins them in the Middle East as a belligerent for decades and decades.

    The fundamental policy choice – accommodating the rise of Shia-Irani power after the destruction of the Ba’ath State in Iraq – was not taken in 2006, in 2007, in 2010 and certainly not in 2011.

    In Syria, where Axis Powers and their local vassals and barons pursued a policy of regime change – with no clear strategic objective, an analogous situation prevails.

    That is, the War for Syria has become a point of prestige for them – they cannot call it off because that would mean an Iranian victory.

    In practical terms I think a face-saving way must be found for the Axis Powers to de-escalate and come back down to the Realities of the Middle East.

    But we are not at that stage.

    I think Iranian leaders are will advised to articulate – at the highest level of the Iranian government to the lowest level – their vision of the future of the Middle East.

    This could be done by Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad within various for a: OIC, Non-Aligned Movement, ECO, etc. as well as by major policy speeches and documents coming out of the Office of Supreme Jurisprudent.

    I think it is imperative for the Iranian leaders to articulate a positive, practical, and credible vision of the future; something like what the Allies proclaimed during World War II – the Atlantic Charter.

    Sunnis must be reassured that the rise of Shia-Irani power is not a threat to them.

    As these war against the Shia-Irani power continues and as the Islamic Awakening among Arab polities continues and with it the war between Salafis and Ikhwan, it is those who consistently uphold a positive view of the future that will prevail.

    [The Americans and their allies only promote war - they have no positive vision of the future and no one, even their own Arab allies, believe their protestations to the contrary.]

  23. Kooshy says:

    Here is how much sovereignty a European country likes of Italy and UK or France are allowed to have.

    Italy’s president pardons US colonel
    http://edition.presstv.ir/iphone/detail.aspx?id=296784

  24. nico says:

    EU: Nuclear talks with Iran have failed
    http://news.yahoo.com/eu-nuclear-talks-iran-failed-135020075.html;_ylt=AldpF32ZXBckGTxmtOiL6Pi1qHQA;_ylu=X3oDMTQxN28wdWp2BG1pdANUb3BpY3MgQ29sbGVjdGlvbiBMaXN0BHBrZwM1MTM0MjMyMy04MjJiLTMyZDQtOGU4Ny1iNWVjYmNiZTM3N2QEcG9zAzEzBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyA2NjZjY4ZTQwLTllZDEtMTFlMi1iZGVmLTllNGRhODliOGMwYg–;_ylg=X3oDMTIyajAxZW1qBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdAMEcHQDc2VjdGlvbnMEdGVzdANONFVfaG9tZXJ1bmFwaQ–;_ylv=3

    Given the US goal as translated from Cordesman article “the containment approach”, there will be no break through in the forseeable future.
    The US goal is domination by all means, and the nuclear issue is a mean for diplomatic containment.
    It is also a potential tool of independance for Iran, thus UNACCEPTABLE in US power hungry and delirious mind.
    Iran needs to purue her policy and develop the know how to have a fully indigenous nuclear program including the building of power plant. This is the only way.

  25. James Canning says:

    “Some experts eaid they believed Iranian leaders were viewing North Korea’s nuclear belligerence with some measure of alarm, however. In their view, it could be used by the United States and others as justifrication for even more ostracism of Iran…”
    [Quoted from New York Times April 6th]

  26. James Canning says:

    Pirouz,

    You have disdain for the Loyalists who left the newly independent American former colonies after the Revolutionary War?

    The US did not win the War of 1812.

  27. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    The neocons who set up the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003 expected to create a loyal ally of the US and Israel.

    This war aim obviously failed. What a surprise that the promoters of the illegal invasion of Iraq want to conceal from the American people what their primary objective was.

  28. nico says:

    fy says:
    April 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Agreed.

    Now the Iranian power is rising and no matter the US efforts, the west will pay the price of 20 years blunders by still seeing their power sharply decline in the near future.

    Iran is slowly but steadily consolidating her position with her neighbours of importance.
    Be it Irak, Turkey, Pak, Afghanistan, they are all dependent on Iran energy, economy and stability.

    That could only be accuentuated in the future as major energy projects come on stream , transport corridor become fully active and the US leave Afgahnistan.

    The West is basing its presence upon banana republics with small populations.

    Strategically the west is in the loser team.

  29. nico says:

    Misrer 20%,

    That is why they need to be debunked and sharply critized for their failed policies.

    I cannot understand the silence, when the failure is so obvious and the consequences so disastrous for the US position.

    When the failure is hidden behind yet more lies and deception it needs to be answered to with strong words. Not nice speeches.

    And please, spare me the zionists.
    They should be as unhappy as the others.

  30. Fiorangela says:

    Atlantic Council serves as the echo chamber for Ray Takeyh’s distorted view of Iran and what US “strategy” toward Iran ought to be –

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/311902-1

    Stuart Eizenstat’s role in the Iran Task Force that Atlantic Council undertaken, is particularly troublesome: Eizenstat has been a key contributor to Israel’s Jewish People Policy Planning Institute since its inception (under the chairmanship of Dennis Ross). That is, Eizenstat ha a foot in two camps.

    Further, while “Iran Task Force” is a fairly generic name, it is also the name given to a project run by the World Jewish Congress, which functions under the auspices, and financial support, of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), an office of Israel’s government. In other words, a think tank ostensibly serving American interests is led and staffed, and perhaps partially financed, by the government of Israel, the very state that is most intent on crippling and destroying Iran.

    Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force says that it has produced some 25 events and half-a-dozen or more papers, advising Washington foreign policy decision makers on how they should deal with Iran. The recent conference moved from “tactical” approaches to “strategic” approaches — but they’re all the same: punish Iran until Iran capitulates to ‘western’ — and the Semites of Israel consider themselves western’ — demands.

    Barbara Slavin is, apparently, the chief cook & bottle washer of the Atlantic Council Iran Task Force stew; she authored most of the papers and helped organize and moderate the conferences. She also made the most nigglingly annoying comment at the recent conference, when she generously conceded that Iranian students should be “permitted” to come to USA because they were entitled to take part in all the extraordinary technological advances taking place in US universities.

    I, too, think Iranians students should be welcome — and respected — at American universities, but I also think said universities would do well to nibble at a piece of humble pie, and that American students might find that there is a lot they could learn from Iranians, in Iranian universities. And from Iranian families, governments, literature, and institutions. It is becoming embarrassing to watch Americans act as if they have a lock on the world’s wisdom.

  31. fy says:

    nico says:
    April 6, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Yes, that seems to be the case.

    When a war with no clear strategic aim is pursued because of matters of ‘prestige’ etc. one knows that one is dealing with losers.

    Let us see what the American Block accomplished in Syria.

    Note that so far, Americans have destroyed 2 of the states that they had targeted in 2002: Iraq and Libya and now they are unto the third – Syria.

    Next, will be Iran.

    I assume that Iranians will fight in Syria and do whatever it takes to thwart Axis Powers.

  32. nahid says:

    nico says:

    April 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks ,It was very understanding for me .

  33. Nasser says:

    fyi says April 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm,

    “In practical terms I think a face-saving way must be found for the Axis Powers to de-escalate and come back down to the Realities of the Middle East.
    ….
    Sunnis must be reassured that the rise of Shia-Irani power is not a threat to them.”

    - Neither group is interested in accommodating Iran. Appeasement on Iran’s part will only embolden them and bring on additional pressure.

    - The Americans and her local allies regard Syria as a prelude to what must follow on Iraq and thus will not relent. Collateral damage and blowbacks be damned. They knew the risks when they started this and judged the risks to be worth it. I disagree that this is about “prestige” or “honor.” As per Gary Samore they have an absolutist idea of their interests. If 9/11 couldn’t convince the Americans to reconsider their ties to the Shias, nothing will.

    - As to Iran’s relationship with the Arab Sunnis, please refer to the link Mr. Smith posted in the previous thread. What do Egyptian or Moroccan Sunnis possibly have to fear from Iran or the Shias?!! Yet they resent Iran. And you will have a very hard time convincing Iraqi Sunnis or rural Syrians that the rise of Shias doesn’t threaten them. http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/sunni-identitys-rise-iraq-8314

    - I think Iran would be best served by turning the “Shiite Crescent” into an actual reality (as Dr. Cordesman fears) and seeking security in nuclear weapons.

    - Also after some reflection I have agreed with your previous suggestion that Iran should seek to dump India and seek closer ties to Pakistan and offer whatever bribes necessary. For example if Iran cannot sell half its oil on the world market, why not offer .5 to 1 million barrels of oil to Pakistan for free at least till Iran itself goes nuclear? No income lost.

  34. nico says:

    Karl.. says:
    April 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Yes Cameron is following the steps of the glorious Blair.
    But the UK and more widely the whole EU is not that independant from the US. They are vassals and client states even if they share some common understanding (the famous western civilization).

    The western vassals system should be understood as circles of powers.
    Right at the center you have the US.
    Just next you have UK and Israel and the commonwealth with Canada, Australia…
    Then you have the EU and Japan (As anglo-saxon trophy of WWII).
    And so on, by decreasing order of priority and privilege just like a feudal system.

    To sum it up, at the top you have the anglo-saxon original empire which won its struggle against its European competitors.
    The European competitors have been “normalized” and absorbed.

    UK is not independent and is a vassal state and is the relay of the US power in the EU.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/09/us-warns-uk-european-union

    “The Obama administration issued a direct challenge to David Cameron over Europe, on Wednesday when it warned of the dangers of holding a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

    A senior US official questioned the merits of holding a referendum as the prime minister’s campaign to reset the terms of Britain’s EU membership also came under assault from Brussels and Dublin.

    With just weeks to go until Cameron delivers a landmark speech in which he is expected to promise to hold a referendum on a “new settlement” for Britain in the EU, the US assistant secretary for European affairs warned that “referendums have often turned countries inwards”.”

    “It has been the US position for several years that close British engagement in Europe was in American interests.

    But Gordon’s remarks appeared to be a clear message to the government that the “special relationship” would be devalued in the eyes of the Obama administration if Britain left the EU, or got bogged down in drawn-out negotiations on the details of its membership.

    A Downing Street spokesman said: “The US wants an outward looking EU with Britain in it, and so do we.”"

  35. fy says:

    All:

    Another perspective – the End State from US Point of View

    http://www.iranwatch.org/ourpubs/roundtables/new-nuclear-talks-022113.htm

    [Interesting that a discussion of late Mr. Qaddafi is included...]

  36. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    April 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm
    Sounds like more wishful thinking from the usual idiots

  37. fy says:

    Nasser says:
    April 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Yes, you are raising good points.

    But I think one must also consider the effects of war exhaustion. The political and religious turmoil within Arab polities as well as in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan will continue for years. As people are murdered and wounded, hopes are dashed, and decay and destruction sets in, a yearning also sets in for the pre-war conditions.

    At that moment, when men begin to look for stability and peace, at that moment, those who have a credible vision of the future will prevail. It is for that moment – over many years – that Iranian leaders must prepare.

    On Syria, my sense of it is that Axis Powers and their vassals were expecting a quick victory. When that did not take place, it became a point of pride/prestige for them. Now they are evidently on escalation ladder to destroy Mr. Assad’s government. Let us see if they succeed.

    I think that Iranians no longer need Syria as much as they did before they moved into Iraq. Even the fall of Mr. Assad’s government is not going to affect Iran as much as Axis Powers’ leaders evidently think.

    I also think events in Syria, in Pakistan, in Bahrain, in Afghanistan only serves to bring the Shia together and around the Islamic Republic of Iran. I wonder how long it will take before Kuwait and UAE Shias start to organize…

    And I wonder what the effects would be in Shia of Turkey and Azerbaijan Republic; nothing pleasant.

    [Similarly, Axis Powers can no longer afford to settle the nuclear file on any terms acceptable to Iran - it would mean defeat for them after they harmed many of their own friends with Iran-related sanctions.]

    Your idea of giving oil to Pakistan for free may be problematic in the form you suggested since Pakistan may not have oil refineries that can consume Iranian oil. And Iranians will protest giving oil for free to anyone.

    However, I think Iranians could give Pakistan diesel fuel – on very favorable loan terms. I think there could be many ways of implementing your idea.

    I think until 2026 at the earliest (perhaps even later) only transactional business may be conducted between India and Iran.

    [From time to time there are reports in Indian papers about this or that large project initiated by India in Iran; I do not credit them. India does not have the capacity to change course on this issue; she has gone too far into the American Block. I think those reports are posturing by Indian politicians for internal consumption.]

  38. nico says:

    Nasser,

    Yes the goal is to bring the syrian situation in Irak.
    That is why Maliki rebuked Kerry last week when the US demanded the stop of Irak overflight by Iran cargos.
    Maliki knows full well what is awaiting Irak.
    But one could only admire the US shamelessness to even request such thing to Irak ! It is dating in such a proportion that one could even wonder about Kerry’ psychiatric health and the US warped world views !

    There is no more need for the US empire and croonies to pretend it is an internal syrian issue.

    It is fully clear that it is fomented an managed from washington with the aid of their local saudi proxy and other kleptocratic hands.

    http://m.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/05/syria-jordan-fire-assistance-rebels

    The source of the US remaining power in the region is the KSA.
    Should the KSA kleptocrats fall, it would bring the final blow to the US presence in the ME.

    Somehow, Iran needs to bring the fight in her ennemy territories.
    There is no other choice as the opponent could not be reasoned with. They need to be tamed.

  39. nico says:

    Erratum

    It is daring in such a proportion that one….

  40. Sineva says:

    nico says:
    April 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm
    fy says:
    April 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm
    Well said both of you,I agree completely

  41. nico says:

    Fyi,
    Iranwatch.org

    Yep, this is all about domination and bringing Iran in a position of submission and elimination, Qadafi like.
    As in Cordesman assesment, there is no place for mutual respect, only war and misery in US delirious intention to dominate.

    And it is all supported by illigitimate regimes allied to the master in order to preserve their hideous position against their own people. Be it in the apartheid states or other banana republics.
    It is really a dictatorship upon and over the region led by an external power from10 thounsand km away.

    So much for human rights and democracy after millions of death brought in the region by the US parasite.

    No end for the nuclear stand off in sight in the foreseeable future.

    The west needs to be kicked out of the ME. Period.

  42. Neo says:

    A wonderful Sunday out there in cyberspace today!

    “Hackers target Israeli government websites”

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/2013474231321120.html

  43. nico says:

    This is what the westerners are nurturing by supporting the nefarious KSA idelogies.

    “In the recording, al-Zawahri urged Muslims to liberate their lands from oppressive regimes and foreign troops, apply Islamic law, halt the plundering of Muslim wealth, support rebellious Muslims and oppressed people worldwide, and establish the Islamic Caliphate, or religious state.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/al-qaida-leader-urges-muslims-unite-struggle-092030984.html

    And, what has Iran said, long ago, about that ?

    “Commander: Al-Qaeda, Takfiries to Turn against West Soon”
    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9104254531

    I guess for the US it is all of the same.
    For now the primary enemy is Iran and Al Qaeda is considered a ally of circumstance.
    When Iran is dealt with, it will be Al qaeda turn in a typical divide and conquer strategy.
    Iran could be reasoned with. Not sure it could be the case with the Takfiris.

  44. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    China and Russia want Iran to stop enriching to 20%. Do you think China and Russia “need to be kicked out of the Middle East”?

  45. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    are you arguing that the experts referred to in the NYT piece yesterday, are wrong to believe the situation with North Korea is potentially dangerous for Iran?

  46. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Very good points. But Pakistan does not need 1 million barrels of oil. They produce some 80,000 barrels a day themselves from some small oil fields in Pakistan while importing something like 400,000 barrels from outside. Their total oil consumption never goes above half a million barrel a day. Recently there have been some agreements signed between Iraq and Pakistan in defense field. I do not see why Iran can not broker a long term oil deal between Iraq and Pakistan on very favorable terms for 250,000 barrels while Iran offers Pakistan another 250,000 barrels completely for free. That way, Pakistan can see some 70%-80% reduction in its oil import costs since currently Pakistan imports most of its oil needs from spot markets paying for them with high interest loans which take up the total cost of oil quite high. Oil import costs are the single biggest import bills for Pakistan, dragging them further down in poverty.

    The positive effects of such an offer to Pakistan are so huge, which perhaps warrant writing a long paper on. By comparison Iran’s cost are minimal. Since Iran already has excess oil production capability and as you mentioned can not sell it, then there will be no income lost. If Iran continues to provide this free oil to Pakistan for one decade, this will constitute some 0.2% of total Iranian hydrocarbon energy reserves, which is nothing really.

    On the other hand in Pakistan, Iran will earn a fatherly image. It will win over Pakistani public which are suffering due to energy starvation. The Pakistan Army the strongest element in that nation, will become pro-Iranian. The internal politics of Pakistan will shift towards Iran. And the wahabi elements inside Pakistani society and military will lose their traction. Furthermore, the stars are set for such an event to have maximum impact as Pakistan is going into election, and the new government has an economic and energy mess on its hand. Such an offer will take pressure off the new government and Iran can strike some good deals with this new government. It will even open up the possibility of military cooperation between the two. Though wahabis over night will lose all their credibility if Iran does this, the only people who will oppose it in Pakistan will be the pro-western journalists and “thinkers”. This I know for a fact. But the Pakistani public will go crazy over this, becoming more loyal to Iran than to their government.

    Other things that will come out of such a deal, is making Pakistan to let Afghanistan become a pro-Iran nation, instead of starting another proxy war against Iran allied with Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia as happened during 1990′s. Such an Iranian move has superb strategic benefits for Iran as it allows it to rent a nuclear armed nation and simultaneously pulling this nation outside of US influence.

    Surprisingly, this Iranian move will not happen. Not because US, Saudi, EU or Indian blocking it (which they can not) but because the Iranian public will not allow it. The Iranian public does not have the strategic vision required for such a move. The cultural maturity has not reached the level required for such strategic maneuvers.

    As for India, the only deals Iran can do with that nation will be small and inconsequential from the perspective of Iran. In fact the long term goal of Iran should be to prevent India every gaining a shared border with Iran. That is why Pakistan is important. India is giant due to its massive population similar to China, and those who border it will always be overshadowed by it. Furthermore, India sees Iran as a proxy element in its dealings in the region and internationally. Iran should never accept that role. Whether in Afghanistan or with regard to US. India showed its true self when they sided with US in security council to vote against Iran, and move Iran’s nuclear file from IAEA to UN security council. This despite the fact that India itself is a nuclear armed nation.

    Iran should use Pakistan to keep India in check. As Chinese have been doing. India is a highly opportunist nation. Even today, among all Iran’s oil customers, India is the one that is trying to milk Iran. Every other day, they put out a story that they are stopping to buy Iranian oil. They are doing this to pressurize Iran like high way robbers. Compare this to Japanese, Chinese, South Korean and the “anonymous” customers of Iranians. You hardly hear anything about them.

  47. Smith says:

    fy says:
    April 7, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Agreed. Some small points:

    Assad will never fall. Even if he is killed, he is going to be replaced. The worst case scenario is going to be partition of Syria with decades long civil war, much like the fragmented Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. Though western countries or Iran for that matter might never accept a formal partition. Already there are signs of this. Alawites know very well, that they will slaughtered like animals if wahabis take over Syria completely. Syria is the only home Alawites have. They can not run to anywhere. It is their last stand. They know this. So they will continue to fight for decades if necessary. US can never win there. Eventually if this continues, Syria will become a wahabi terror den in Levant. This will have serious policy implications for US interest in Mediterranean sea, Turkey and Jordan.

    I also have to say that in addition to other Shias you mentioned, the Shias living under the corrupt, secular, pro-western dictator Aliyev in Azerbaijan are ripe for transformation. Iran should work to make these Shias who have lived under Tsars and Communists to find their faith once again. I am a bit surprised that Mr. Khamenei himself being an Azeri has not done more to make these Shias rediscover their faith and true allegiance.

    As for free oil to Pakistan, I agree on the Iranian public immaturity in this matter. But the refineries are not much of a problem. Pakistan has refineries and Iran is quite good in converting refineries to process Iranian crude. They have done such things in other countries eg. Sri Lanka until Sri Lankans had to stop importing Iranian oil since they could not get permission from their master gods in Washington DC. Besides, Iran also has the technology to build new refineries too. So that should not be a problem at all.

    And as for India, I must agree too. Though the “large” scale projects you raised, are actually small scale projects which are to benefit India. Take the example of some roads they financed connecting Afghanistan with Iran, or their “talk” of financing Chabahar port. They are basically interested to win over Afghanistan’s mineral wealth (estimated to be worth trillions of dollars). Pakistan will never cooperate with them. Iran should not either.

  48. nico says:

    2013 : US says door still open on Iran nuclear talks but not forever
    http://news.yahoo.com/u-says-door-still-open-iran-nuclear-talks-102419674.html

    2012 : Obama warns time is running out for diplomacy
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/03/obama-warns-iran-nuclear-program-diplomacy.html

    I am not sure why the US is still boasting.
    The US colonial, agressive and immoral behaviour is crystal clear.
    And Iran said to be ready for war and that the nuclear enrichment will never cease.
    In that Iran has Russian and China support for the recognition of full enrichment right.
    So what the US is waiting for ?

    The US put themselves in a position where they said the enrichment is not acceptable, and that they will pursue non diplomatic track when their will is not obeyed to.

    So what. Deliver now !

    Pschhht… no detonation.

    Well, it seems the US is powerless.

  49. nico says:

    Why the US is trying to make believe others that they have power on the region ???

    Russia made it clear that direct intervention in Syria is forbiden.

    Should Iran and Russia stop oil and gas exports. The world economy will be totally broken and at standstill after 48Hours.

    That even without a blockade of DoH.

    What the US is looking for ? Nuke everyone ?

    The game is over concerning the nuclear file and the US failed miserably.

  50. Smith says:

    fy says:
    April 7, 2013 at 12:47 am

    And finally the diesel to Pakistan idea is very good too. Since all of Pakistan’s heavy transport and agricultural machinery runs on diesel and this in an agricultural economy is of great of importance. But more than that Pakistan needs natural gas and fuel oil (furnace oil) to run its electric power plants. The black outs in Pakistan cause riots every year which kill dozens. It is not easy to live in 53 degrees centigrade heat 20 hours out of every day without electricity. It is estimated by Pakistan’s own health officials, that tens of thousands die as a direct result of heat injury every summer who would be alive if there was more electricity available. Surprisingly there are enough thermal power stations that can help to reduce electricity shortage to none or minimum bearable levels. But because Pakistan can not afford the furnace oil import bills, the whole nation suffers. Imagine if Iran steps in.

  51. James Canning says:

    “[T]he National Iranian American Council, a Washington advocacy group that opposes the sanctions, said they had actually strengthened the Iranian government’s resolve.”
    {NYT April 6th]

  52. Persian Gulf says:

    The analogy to China that the Leveretts bring has an important important implication from Iran’s vantage point; that an open nuclear posture is the essential part of Iran’s pivotal role in the greater middle east for decades to come. It seems to me that China effectively put the ball in the U.S court after her 1964 nuclear test. it then took the U.S 8 years to adjust herself and get her internal elements sorted out. in the same way, Iran has to put the onus on the U.S by an open nuclear posture and let the U.S get her internal constituencies right including dealing with her little dog and the Banana Republics in the region. I assume once Iran is nuclear, the question of Israel lobby or Arab sheikhdoms or others will be adjusted quickly by the U.S.

    At this point, Mr.Khamenei’s blunder, aka his over emphasis on a Fatwa that fell on deaf ears, makes it almost impossible to get there. hopefully by the time the next supreme leader is in office, Iran will be in a far better position to quickly make that necessary mushroom cloud. at that time everyone in the West is entitled to blame Mr.Khamenei, who cares. Obama’s memoirs will then be interesting to read.

  53. Richard Steven Hack says:

    As expected…

    Diplomats see ‘wide gulf’ as Iran talks end in a muddle
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/diplomats-pessimistic-as-iran-talks-end-without-a-deal/2013/04/06/7d766ee0-9ec6-11e2-a941-a19bce7af755_print.html

    Let’s just acknowledge now that there is no possibility of a diplomatic resolution. And we know sanctions aren’t working. So that leaves only one possible outcome. Guess.

  54. Dave says:

    ToivoS says:
    April 5, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    “Could someone explain what the hell Dave is saying in his long post. I am totally confused.”

    Read the entire post carefully. Else read the first paragraph and the last sentence of the post. The first paragraph show Milani’s methodology. The concluding sentence says that Milani may be suffering from dementia.

  55. fy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    April 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I have been saying that all along.

    And there is no military resolution at acceptable costs and consequences either; per your own observations, US will have to occupy parts of Iran for years.

    That is why containment is the order of the day against Iran.

    My sense is that Saudis are trying to back peddle on Syria but Americans are still committed to destruction of Assad’s government.

  56. fy says:

    Smith says:
    April 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    There are ways to deliver energy aide to Pakistan that mollifies the Iranian public and its voracious appetite for government hand-outs.

    They way to do is to set up a Joint Venture with Pakistan, infuse it with capitals, and receive I.O.U.s from Pakistan in lieu of payments.

    The JV will buy oil or refined products from NIOC and sells it to Pakistan.

  57. fy says:

    Nasser says:
    April 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Iranians can live with collapse of the state – however unlikely – and the sectarian war.

    A sectarian war will harm their enemies to a very large extent.

    [In Iraq, the sectarian war was fought and was won by the Shia parties.]

    But the main problem with Mr. Moussavian’s piece is he thinks that cooperation between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Axis Powers on Syria is a possibility.

    My sense of it is that Iranians estimate that they have stabilized Syria and that the Syrian government has adequate internal resources for dealing with the anti-government formations.

    Like Dr Afrasiabi, Mr. Moussavian is forever clutching at straws looking for possibility of cooperation between Iran and Axis Powers.

    I think while the potential exists, that possibility no longer does.

    A decade from now may be EU can be back in Iran, and 30 years after that US.

    No cooperation with Iran can be achieved unless the strategic issues are resolved first.

  58. Don Bacon says:

    Regarding the (expected) breakdown of talks, there can never be a diplomatic resolution to a problem which doesn’t really exist. The closest the West has come is to decry Iran’s “nuclear ambitions.” Give me a break.

    Is there a component of Political Science (I give it some stature here) called “nuclear ambitions” with a corollary field of “negotiating ambitions?” If not, perhaps this could be whole new field of Political Science. People could take an introductory course in Negotiating Ambitions 101, and then venture into the field of Psychology where they could interact with other weird people who are into this ambition thing. Or perhaps they should get into psychology first and the political aspects of ambitions. However one does it, it would be an ambitious undertaking.

    Toward a completion of this rigorous course, they could go further into the field of “nuclear ambitions” where they would be able to delve deeply into the nuclear psyche and actually classify “nuclear ambitions” into their various sub-categories, a level of discourse that I won’t bore you with here. It would involve uranium, plutonium and irrational fear of Persians, stuff like that.

  59. Ataune says:

    fyi said:

    “No cooperation with Iran can be achieved unless the strategic issues are resolved first”

    It is logical to assume that one way of resolution, pretty well liked by the US, is the end of the Islamic Republic. will this satisfy you, or the opinion you profess, as well ?

  60. Nasser says:

    fyi says: April 7, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I did not link to Mr. Moussavian’s article. (I think I know which one you are referring to.) Precisely because I agree with your argument and don’t think there exists any possibility for cooperation when your enemies are hell bent on your destruction.

    The article I linked to rather talks about Iraqi Shias reaching out to the Kurds. I found this to be sensible strategy on their part.

    Also you write: “My sense is that Saudis are trying to back peddle on Syria but Americans are still committed to destruction of Assad’s government.”

    - What gives this impression about the Saudis?

  61. fy says:

    Ataune says:
    April 7, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I give that possibility a very very low probability.

    [During the Unilateral Moment, the Americans got used to cost-free resolutions of international problems.]

  62. fy says:

    Nasser says:
    April 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    The quick appointment of a new Prime Minister in Lebanon.

  63. Don Bacon says:

    The Secretary of Iran Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili and the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, are scheduled to hold a telephone conversation to discuss the date and venue of the next round of talks between Tehran and the P5+1.
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/04/07/297072/iran-p51-should-continue-talks/

    The subject, as usual, will be Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Telephone conversation? I suspect that Jalili has Ashton’s number.

    One can’t say that Baroness Ashton, the EU High Representative of foreign affairs, who has an annual gross salary, including allowances, of £287,543, is overly ambitious.

    “I think it will have been a great privilege to have served in this role, but it’s quite hard. There’s a lot of travel and a lot of sitting on planes,” she said on 16 March. It is exhausting at times. And I think, in any event, you lay the foundations but there are people who can do things with this that probably I couldn’t do so it would be good to hand it over.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9971786/Baroness-Ashton-will-be-paid-400000-by-the-EU-to-do-nothing.html

    On people like this questions of peace and war exist?

  64. Smith says:

    fy says:
    April 7, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I am not so sure that way it is going to have the desired effect. The whole point is for the Pakistani public specially the poor to know that it is Iran, that has made their energy and economic crisis to go away. For that such a move, should be done loudly and very clearly by announcing it that, Iran is giving quarter of a million barrel of oil for free while having brokered a good oil deal between Iraq and Pakistan. Besides, if Iran tries to hide it, the news will eventually come out and used as anti-IRI media outlets as a propaganda targeting the Iranian public that their oil is being given for free to Pakistan. Basically Iranian public does not look on foreign aid as something desirable and necessary for strategic dominance.

    Maybe only Mr. Khamenei can do such a thing but only at great cost to his personal political capital something he rarely uses and only on issues that threaten Iran’s survival eg. as he did during the foreign backed coup of green sedition movement.

    The reason for Iranian public cultural un-sophistication with regard to these matters greatly lies in inept and inefficient Iranian media. As can be noted, in Iran there is not even a good political commentator and on most of issues Mr. Khamenei has to fill the role himself personally, commenting on political situation something that is done by an army of media spinners in other countries. Alot of times while watching the Iranian TV one falls asleep listening to the so called Iranian commentators.

  65. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    April 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm
    In what way is it dangerous?,anything that distracts or weakens the us can only be good for iran
    James Canning says:
    April 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm
    Are you serious??

  66. nico says:

    Mister 20%,

    There is no chinese military base in the ME.
    However, I believe one is urgently needed near London.
    The neighbourhood is dangerous and China has vital interests in the North sea region.

  67. nico says:

    “Russia says clearly the recognition of all rights of Iran under [the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,] including the right to enrichment in exchange for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) control over Iran’s nuclear program, is the final model”

    http://edition.presstv.ir/mobile/detail.aspx?id=297122

    Yes, the game is over.
    West total failure or war is the only outcome possible.
    Total failure is more likely. After Irak and Afghnistan the US are used to it.

  68. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    Thank you for your comments.

    If you would recall I had earlier argued with you and fyi about the wisdom of Iran trying to cozy up to Pakistan only to be repeatedly rebuffed.

    This wasn’t because of some anti Pakistani sentiment on my part. Rather it was for two main reasons why I thought such efforts on Iran’s part would be strategically unwise. First, I didn’t think there was a great willingness on Pakistan’s part to develop such close ties to Iran. (Now I somewhat think that Iran was being too cheap and didn’t offer anything of much value to Pakistan.) And second, I thought Iran would be better served by spending its limited resources on internal developments particularly on industry, technology and defense and on consolidating its regional gains. I also assumed the Saudis and Americans could probably just outbid the Iranians. I didn’t have any delusions regarding India but I valued their business relationship and thought Iran shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. After some reflection my views have changed.

    I admit arguments made by you and fyi had had an impact on my thinking. I liked your argument that Iran should hedge against Pakistan and some oil and gas would be a small price to pay for security against a nuclear neighbor. I remember you likened this to how the Russians encouraged Europe’s dependence on itself by first offering it oil and gas on the cheap. And also there have been some changes in the international situation and internal situations of both countries that made me reflect on this topic a bit more and reconsider my positions.

    - The most obvious change is of course Iran’s inability to sell about half of its oil production on the world markets. Now the argument cannot be made that income from these oil sales should be put into developmental projects since there is no income. Furthermore it is a waste in my opinion to have such excess capacity and have the oil just sit there. Time is valuable and Iran is living in a particularly dangerous time. It should put its resources to good use and I can’t think of a better use of this asset. (Now I have formed the opinion that Iran should use this oil to bribe Pakistan even if it could sell this stuff on the open markets. Considering the other sanctions, what good is money if you can’t even buy what you need?)

    - My second objection based on Pakistani lack of enthusiasm for an Iranian embrace has also changed. It is obvious to everyone that there is a lot of hatred and fear in all levels of Pakistani society against the US. There also seems to be growing awareness about the toxic effect the Saudis and Wahabis have on Pakistani society; eg as the Malala incident showed. So I thought the Pakistanis would at the very least be willing to lessen their dependence on the Saudis and the Americans.

    I also realized that what we are proposing is not something that Iran’s foes can easily outbid and furthermore Pakistan might not want Iran to be out bidden for this holds other benefits for them as well.
    You already outlined what benefits our proposal has for the Pakistani economy. Now let us delve deeper and also look at what strategic benefit Pakistan would get with closer ties to Iran. I would argue that Pakistan would gain true strategic depth with very close ties to Iran. It would pretty much become immune to an Indian naval blockade. And Iran is Pakistan’s only real competition over Afghanistan. They may be willing to accommodate the Iranians as long as the Indians are kept out. Both nations have an interest in suppressing Pashtun and Baluch nationalism and the interference of others cause needless friction between the two. Furthermore, oil and gas are of paramount strategic importance and Pakistan would be assured of its supply. And of course the foreign reserves saved can then be applied to other development purposes (or graft). Also I think many Pakistanis would appreciate the ability to finally wean itself away from the influence of those foreign patrons that have a corrosive effect on its society.

    - I think the deal would pretty much look like this, the Iranians would say: “Look, let us agree that we are not going to allow the Americans, the Saudis or the Indians to come between us. Our relationship is too important for that. We are going to take care of almost all your energy needs and you can use the billions of foreign currency saved from this to fund some real development in your country. We have a lot of experience in this and can help you in this regard as well. Now you don’t need any Saudi and American money and do things for them you would rather not do. But if they still insist on giving you money, fine take it, but you are no longer beholden to them. And we will do some business with the Indians. But neither the Indians nor the Saudis would be allowed in Afghanistan. You don’t have to worry about the Indians to your North and West and we want complete security to our East. We will quietly dump the Indians and you do the same for the Saudis. Everyone wants to have a relationship with the US. We understand. But now you are no longer dependent on them. You will give us complete neutrality in that regard. We do you no harm, you do us no harm. For example some US war plans envisions use of Pakistani territory to attack Iran. You obviously wouldn’t want that to happen to your friend and patron, right?!” And this doesn’t even touch on the immense goodwill that Iran will gain in Pakistani society that you so correctly point out.

    - Smith writes: “In fact the long term goal of Iran should be to prevent India every gaining a shared border with Iran.”

    Oh yes, absolutely. This is a given. Pakistan exists to keep the Indians out of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. I think the Americans, Chinese and Iranians would all agree on this. My suggestions aren’t based on any anti Indian prejudice or anger at their poor treatment of Iran. States should pursue their interests obviously. But Indian strategic leaders like the Turks seem too enamored with the West. They seem not being able to accurately read US intentions. They express shock at the notion that the US along with China wants Pakistan to balance and preoccupy India. And even if India didn’t treat Iran so badly, there is still too much to be gained by a real partnership with Pakistan. I can’t think of anything except for deployment of nuclear weapons, or a sudden collapse of the Saudi monarchy that would so revolutionize Iran’s strategic position.

    The combined populations of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan exceed over 350 millions. The combined oil production of Iran and Iraq can rival that of even Saudi Arabia. And hopefully two of these nations would be nuclear armed. This could form the foundation of a truly revolutionary regional order.

    - > Smith writes: “Surprisingly, this Iranian move will not happen. Not because US, Saudi, EU or Indian blocking it (which they can not) but because the Iranian public will not allow it. The Iranian public does not have the strategic vision required for such a move. The cultural maturity has not reached the level required for such strategic maneuvers.”

    The same can be said of their views on the utility of nuclear weapons LOL. Actually this is not a laughing matter at all. I suspect many Iranian strategists are aware of the importance of ties to Pakistan or else they wouldn’t waste so much energy on the pipeline thing.

    Public opinion after all is malleable. Iranian leaders should explain to Iranians just how serious the threats are facing their country. What we are proposing should be considered as part of the defense budget. What price are the Iranians prepared to pay for their security? This move would basically secure their entire East. The oil can sanctions can then in fact be called blessing because it provides the perfect political cover: “We can’t sell this stuff anyway!” And if this doesn’t work (I hope not), the government can adopt clever mechanism like the joint venture scheme that fyi proposed. The Americans withdraw from Afghanistan next year. It would be best if Iran and Pakistan can reach true understanding before then. Otherwise proxy wars, clashes etc in Afghanistan would permanently sour public relations between the two.

  69. Nasser says:

    nico says: April 7, 2013 at 3:31 am

    - > “The source of the US remaining power in the region is the KSA.
    Should the KSA kleptocrats fall, it would bring the final blow to the US presence in the ME.”

    I largely agree with this. The US backs Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies – arguably the source for most of the misery in the region. Zbigniew Brzezinski has said that many states in the world including the Persian Gulf monarchies, Israel and perhaps Pakistan would cease to exist without the US.

    I don’t see this situation changing anytime soon though. I don’t see regime change in Saudi Arabia as imminent. Also I don’t find it realistic to suggest that Iran can to any great effect influence the internal situation in KSA or southern Persian Gulf countries as long as the US is backing them.

    - > You go on to write: “Somehow, Iran needs to bring the fight in her ennemy territories.
    There is no other choice as the opponent could not be reasoned with. They need to be tamed.”

    Iran has to survive first! And it has a moral obligation to her allies and all those desperate people that have turned to her for help. Again, I don’t see how Iran can realistically hope to kick the US out of the region in the short term. Arab publics including KSA publics have to become more agitated especially over what surely will be the deteriorating situation in Palestine and continued Arab humiliation for them to exert enough pressure on their governments to reconsider ties to the US. But this is a long term thing. And Iran can’t do much to affect this.

    So for now Iran should focus on gaining security and expanding its power.

    In my opinion the only way Iran can gain this security is by pointing nuclear weapons at Israel and the Persian Gulf countries. Iran’s current capabilities to disrupt energy flow can best be called a dissuasion, not a true deterrence. What dissuades Iran’s foes further is their belief that Iran cannot be denuclearized by military force. But dissuasion alone doesn’t convince your enemies from entertaining bold even crazy ideas and many Americans seem to believe that the Iranians just need to scared enough (and military strikes will do this in their opinion) for them to give in to their demands. Ambassador Thomas Pickering for example has said that unlike North Korea, Iran doesn’t have massed artillery facing the city of a major US ally and thus should NOT regard themselves as secure.

    Now what does true deterrence looks like? It means having the ability to do unacceptable level of harm to your interests to deter you from pushing things too far. This is how Pakistan has been able to get away with doing what it does and repeatedly harming US interests. Please click on the link below:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruHgWMyRYYc

    I don’t speak Urdu but according to my friend the jist of it is that if Pakistan’s nuclear assets are attacked by the US, Washington can say bye bye Tel Aviv. This makes the Americans real careful when dealing with Pakistan. Also notice how polite the Americans have been getting when addressing the North Koreans. That’s deterrence. Iran should get this ability.

    - Iran should then further increase its power by doing two things. One, by turning the idea of “Shiite Crescent” into a reality most important aspect of which involves combining the power of both Iran and Iraq. I believe Mr. Maliki has explicitly stated that Iraq will form a formal alliance with Iran if Bashar Assad falls. Second, as discussed elsewhere in this thread, develop closer ties to Pakistan.

  70. imho says:

    fyi says:
    April 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm


    In regard to the “Secular Liberal State” – that is impossible in Muslim polities.

    It will never happen as long as Islam is a living presence in the minds and lives of those polities.

    What seems impossible today may be possible tomorrow. Of course I’m speaking of years.
    It took hundreds of years for the west to dump religion. It’ll take them years to understand that society without spirituality and morality is a recipe for failure.
    What makes you think that Islamic societies will take the shortcut to stay where they are today without evolving ? If this is the case it would fail.
    The political Islam only makes sense in present time in a context of fighting western domination and imperialism (the same way political Shia was to fight Arab domination).
    I agree that Iran can lead the Islam awakening only by reunifying Shias and Sunnis. But she may not stop at that as the next step will be the necessary evolution toward scientific and spiritual progression. The former is already happening in Iran. I believe the latter is also necessary but may not be possible at current time.
    Shia creation was mostly a political act rather than pure religious as Iran wants to lead. I can imagine in the future Iran taking the lead of the whole Islamic world but first the Sunni “problem” must be solved and this is only a problem because of western imperialism.

  71. imho says:

    nico says:
    April 6, 2013 at 7:31 am


    The expatriates are the excuse in Iran, were in Irak.
    The israel lobby is the excuse in palestine
    The terrorists are the excuse in Afghanistan and Pak.
    The other ME countries are banana republics.

    The end result is the west dominating and trampling the region.

    How practicable !

    I couldn’t agree more!

    Also, your translation of Dr. Cordesman is so true!

    One point:

    from Dr. Cordesman :
    “Accepting that risk also means the United States must do everything possible to provide its Arab allies, Turkey, and Europe with missile defenses and to improve Israel’s missile defenses. It means making good on the U.S. offer of extended deterrence to protect other states—potentially dragging the United States into at least the periphery of a regional nuclear arms race and potential nuclear conflict. It also means living with the near certainty of tying the continuing asymmetric arms race in the Gulf, and the constant risk of clashes or more serious conflicts, to the risk of a linkage between Iran’s use of asymmetric warfare and future acquisition of nuclear forces.”

    It is already obvious who will benefit from this arm race.
    I don’t think Iran building nukes will be the end of story but rather the beginning. And I believe the US will just let Iran to get that threshold and preventing Israeli attacks until that breakthrough. It is hard to accept that the current ME situation is only the result of US misunderstanding and mismanagement. There should have been better scenarios (for US) that didn’t realize but this one should have been taken into account also.

  72. fyi says:

    Don Bacon says:
    April 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    No she is just a hack, like Javier Sloana who got his fame when he served as the hatchet man for destroying Yugoslavia.

  73. fyi says:

    imho says:
    April 8, 2013 at 4:46 am

    I am going to state my opinion below [I am repeating what I had written on this forum before.]

    I think if you look at the history of Muslim polities over the last 150 years, even before the time of Seyyed Jamal Al Din Assadabadi (Al Afghani to many others) you notice sporadic efforts by Muslim thinkers and political leaders to limit and roll back the power of Christian polities on them.

    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.

    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.

    More generally, I think, one has to go back to the famous statement of Jesus, the Blessed Son of Mary, who stated that “Pay therefore what is Caesar’s to Caesar–and what is God’s to God.” Nothing like that exists in Islam where the leaders of Islam, since the time of the Prophet, and for many centuries were recognized as both Temporal and Spiritual authorities. In Europe, on the other hand, for centuries, the Popes, while at times donning the mantle of temporal power, had been secure in their claim to Spiritual power.

    Furthermore, Muslim polities are singularly based on Islam, there is no rival or parallel tradition that could be used to challenge Muslim understanding on common (or uncommon) issue. [Iran is the only exception and I will come back to it.] And if you go to a country like Algeria or Indonesia, people will tell you that they are nothing without Islam – and they are being very candid.

    In Europe you had the Legacy of Rome as well as the Liberal Tradition of the Germanic Tribes of Northern Europe (the Goths, the Gauls, the Lombards, the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Allemani, the Germani and many many others). On these elements, Christianity, the Legacy of Rome, and the Liberty Tradition of Germanic Tribes is the Western Liberal Democracy is established.

    Since these ingredients do not have their counterparts in Muslim polities, it follows that European Experience cannot be considered normative for Muslims, and indeed in my opinion, for anyone else outside of Europe.

    Iran is the only Muslim state in which besides the Muslim Tradition there is a very tiny Iranian tradition that informs and modifies that polity. However, it its depth or strength it cannot be compared to the Islamic Tradition.

    And even then that idea of Iran and the Iranian Tradition, permeating Iranians as well as other Iranian people such as Kurds, is a vestige of yet another prior and all-encompassing religious framework – Zoroastrianism – that was later supplanted by another religion, Islam.

    The Greek and Roman historians of antiquity had set the time of Zoroaster to have been 8600 years ago. If one accepts their assertions, then one is left with the realization that for 8600 years the people of the Iranian plateaus have been living within a religious milieu in which the struggle has been to define the character of the God (of Light) and his relationship to Humanity.

    It is because of such considerations that I have come to the conclusion that fundamentally, secular liberal democratic order – however attractive it might be – in Muslims polities is an impossibility, now or centuries from now.

  74. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 8, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Agreed completely. Enemies of Iran can not outbid Iran on account of Pakistan without harming their own economy and energy security, even if they did, still still it is a win for Iran since Iran has been able to raise the cost of enmity with Iran. Then Iran can offer free oil to Egypt. If they still outbid Iran, then offer free oil to North Korea and Greece. The list of those hurt by west is long. It will be impossible to outbid Iran. But I am still not sure on Iranian public opinion. Though security benefit from this counter-sanction move is tremendous, but I think the backlash from Iranian public is estimated to be so great that no politician in Iran has even hinted to this since they know if they do, their political carrier is over.

  75. Smith says:

    Nasser says:
    April 8, 2013 at 3:21 am

    By the way, just to be clear, such a move by Iran will send US/West into a tail spin. That will be funny to watch what they will do. If US even tries to block Iran, there will be violent protests against US in Pakistan where poor people, energy starved and tired of US meddling will erupt literally into a volcano. All Iran has to do is to officially announce it in public media that Iran is ready to give quarter of a million barrel of oil for free to Pakistan for as long as Iran is under sanctions since Iran can not use this oil, then our “brothers” in Pakistan can have it for free. The US will go crazy. It will leak credibility like never before.

  76. Smith says:

    Another supporter of Saddam against Iran died today. I wonder how she is going to answer for all those crimes now before almighty. She and Reagan created such a fesad in this world that it will take generations to clean it up. If ever.

  77. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    My own view is that Iran will not be building nukes. The situation with North Korea will not alter this, in my view.

    Some Iranian experts who spoke with The New York Times think the NK situation is dangerous for Iran “because it could be used . . . as justification for even more ostracism of Iran. . . ” [NYT April 6th]

  78. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    Thanks. I did not see your point as being the US bases in Qatar and Bahrain need to be terminated. And yes, China does not need military bases to obtain access to oil from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq.

  79. Nasser says:

    Smith says: April 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

    “By the way, just to be clear, such a move by Iran will send US/West into a tail spin. That will be funny to watch what they will do.”

    - LOL so true. I can just picture it now. This would completely alter the strategic situation in the greater Middle East and would represent a true tectonic shift in the geopolitics of the region. Washington, Delhi, Brussels, Riyadh and Tel Aviv would all soil themselves at the mere thought of this.

    But Washington can’t do a damn thing to stop this! I suspect they will start talking about lifting the oil sanctions to discourage this from happening. “See you can sell your oil now! No need to give that stuff away for free. Now get away from Pakistan!” Hahaha Even then Iran should just go through with it.

    “Then Iran can offer free oil to Egypt. If they still outbid Iran, then offer free oil to North Korea and Greece.”

    - I have to disagree with you here Smith. Actually I don’t think Iran should replicate this policy anywhere else.
    First that would truly be politically impossible. Second I can’t think of any other country that is ripe for strategic realignment like Pakistan is. Third we must also consider the possibility that Iran’s current oil buyers would seek more and more discounts and concessions from Iran if Iran made a point of just throwing oil around. I have accounted for some loss of Indian business but I judge that to be worth it. But Iran does need some oil income obviously.

    I judge Pakistan to be a really special case. With Pakistan’s energy situation, current sanctions levied against Iran’s oil exports and the upcoming US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the opportunity is really there for Iran and Pakistan to come to an embrace. Pakistan has such clear strategic benefits for Iran that even the ordinary Iranian public should be able to understand, unhappy though they may be. Iranian leaders should do their best to convince the public of the dangers facing the country and that you cannot realistically achieve security by spending only 2% of your GDP on defense. Otherwise set up some clever mechanism like the joint venture scheme that fyi proposed.
    I only hope that this happens before the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Because otherwise all it would take is some some violence against Hazaras or Farsiwans by perceived Pakistani proxies for the public mood in Iran to become angrily anti Pakistan. (Not that I want to give the Westerners ideas for false flag operations.)

    But even I don’t understand what doing this in other countries would accomplish. Would the Sunni Arabs start liking Iran more? I don’t think so. Would Egypt lift their blockade on Gaza? Would Jordan turn pro Iranian? Would the Turks reconsider their servile attitude to the West? Would any one of them relent on Syria? I don’t think so. This is not so for Pakistan. The utilitarian consideration is so different for that country that I argued that Iran would be better off giving that oil away to Pakistan than getting money for it. Can that be said for any other country? The opportunity exists in Pakistan, the cost isn’t much and the benefits are just ENORMOUS.

    Lastly, North Korea is a very interesting case. There oil needs are miniscule compared to Pakistan, so this would be much more politically palatable. I of course agree Iran should cooperate more with them on missile and nuclear sectors and offer them periodic bribes. But I am fearful of Iran doing anything loud or dramatic on North Korea until and unless Japan and South Korea adopts a more anti Iranian posture at US urging. Otherwise Iran wouldn’t be well advised to go pissing off all its customers.

  80. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    Can you please expand on your thoughts on Azerbaijan? I didn’t get the sense that they were ripe for change. I have always regarded Bakuvites to be some of the most anti Iranian people on Earth. Of course I would rather be proven wrong on this.

  81. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    Look at this foolishness!
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Apr-08/212996-egypt-suspends-tourism-from-iran.ashx#axzz2Ps7ipZLV

    These two countries have no need for each other. Iran would be well advised not to waste a penny or an ounce of energy on Egypt.

  82. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    Were you asking of I was “kidding” when I said Russia and China want Iran to stop enriching to 20 percent?

  83. Nasser says:

    fyi says April 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm,

    Thanks for the link.

    You addressed similar points before. I am just not sure that Azerbaijan is really “ripe” for a social revolution.

  84. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    April 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    No I was trying to get my head around this strange comment
    “Do you think China and Russia “need to be kicked out of the Middle East”?”
    neither of them have much of a presence in the middle east that needs to be kicked out in the first place,as for their views on irans nuclear rights who cares this issue is between the us and iran the rest are irrelevant