U.S. high fives Egypt, sticks tongue out at Iran

3 11 2007

I guess maybe you’ve heard by now about the U.S. backing Egypt’s nuclear power program. It alarmingly hypocritical, given that we’re itching for war with Iran over the same thing.

To be fair I have to point out that, right now, the Egyptian government is much more favorably disposed to the U.S. (and to Israel) than Iran. But Mubarak is not going to live forever, and the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining more support in Egypt daily. Which makes our support for the Egyptian nuclear program seem somewhat foolish – if we are labeling the clerical government in Iran dangerous, an Egyptian government lead by the Muslim Brotherhood would have to be equally as dangerous. And such a government is possible in the near future.

But that is not really the point. The point is that this is the kind of behavior that engenders resentment of the U.S. We are clearly not concerned with nuclear proliferation here – we’re concerned with making sure our buddies get what they want, and that anyone who opposes us doesn’t.

And people don’t appreciate being bullied like that.


Everybody’s a terrorist

1 10 2007

A couple of months ago the U.S. Senate voted to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (a segment of the Iranian military) as a terrorist unit. I’m not sure what the surface defense for this was, but the underlying logic is obvious: we can do dirtier things to organizations we label “terrorist” than we can to state-sponsored militaries.

The word “terrorist” is already being thrown around so much by pundits it hardly means anything anymore – it’s the new “Nazi,” in that you can use it to describe anyone whose politics you don’t like. But we have to remember that it’s still a politically charged word, even while its definition is becoming broader. This vote in the U.S. Senate had bi-partisan support despite its inanity – why do you think that is?

Because every politician in the room knew that if he voted against it he could be accused of supporting terrorists, despite the fact that the organization in question is very obviously not a terrorist organization.

If we move away from the specific definition of terrorism they teach you in political science classes – attacks carried out by non-state actors against civilians, typically in order to coerce states into enacting a desired policy – the word loses meaning all together. We already have words for when states use force to coerce their own citizens – military rule, despotism, ‘police state.’ If Congress wants to propose acting against a state for such reasons it should go ahead, but it should use the correct and specific word. To label the IRGC – reprehensible though it may often be – a terrorist organization, is to lie.

Having said that, you can imagine how delighted I was to read about this:

Iran says CIA is ‘terrorist’ agency(al-Jazeera)
The Iranian Parliament has voted to classify the CIA as a terrorist agency, and the U.S. Army as a terrorist organization.

The parliament said the two organisations were terrorists for a number of reasons.

It said they were involved in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan in World War II and used depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

It also said they supported the killings of Palestinians by Israel, bombed and killed Iraqi civilians and tortured terror suspects in prisons.

The resolution urges Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s, the Iranian president, government to treat the two as terrorist organisations.

It also paves the way for the resolution to become legislation which, if ratified by the country’s constitutional watchdog, would become law.


Ahmadinejad at Columbia

28 09 2007

Iran Press Poll: Do you agree with the way Columbia University treated President Ahmadinejad?

(here’s the way they treated him, in case you haven’t heard.)

Iran Press Service is an organization that exists primarily to disseminate information that the Iranian government won’t allow in the country – it is essentially anti-Iranian government – so it’s telling that 41.4 percent of the people who have taken the poll disagree with Ahmadinejad’s treatment at Columbia.*

Here’s how I feel about it: Whether you like him or not, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the President of Iran. Being so disrespectful of him

A. wastes a valuable opportunity for dialogue, and
B. is just unconscionably disrespectful of Iranians. He is, for better or worse, representing Iran, and treating him like some kind of wayward teenager displays a very ugly kind of American arrogance.

200 Lawmakers Hail President’s Speech

From Iran Daily, a government newspaper (you’ll be able to tell it’s a government newspaper when you read the article).
Americans Made Ahmadinejad a Victim, Strengthen Him At Home
Editorial from Iran Press Service. Quote from the article: “I’m ashamed of myself to feel that because of the insults he ushered to Ahmadinejad, I share the humiliations made to him, a man whom I don’t like at all.”

I know I’ve pretty much only talked about Iran and Palestine in the past few days, and am running the risk of being labeled an anti-Semite, so I feel it’s necessary to clarify: of course Ahmadinejad’s claim that the Holocaust never happened is ridiculous, and I’m a huge fan of Semites. It’s fair to say I’m anti-Zionist, but so are a lot of Jews.

*The number has gone down since I took the poll – at noon on September 29, the number of people who disapprove of his treatment is down to 39.4%

MEMRITV: “The Heavy Metal Scene in Tehran”

24 09 2007

I have no idea what’s going on here, but I’m pretty sure it’s amazing.

The Heavy Metal Scene in Tehran: aired on Channel 2 in Iran, August 12th.

Here’s part of the transcript (from MEMRITV). Imagine this backed up with heavy guitar and interspersed with pictures of Gene Simmons wiggling his tongue at the camera (alternately, you could just watch the clip.)

Iranian youth: This is the symbol of the devil worshippers.

Iranian youth: I don’t know foreign languages.

Iranian youth: You should hang out here and see how trendy it is here.

Reporter: How did you do that?

Iranian youth: With a razor blade.

Reporter: A razor blade?

Iranian youth: Yes.

Reporter: What did you write there?

Iranian youth: 2Pac.

Reporter: What does 2Pac mean?

Iranian youth: It’s the name of an American singer.

[…]Hairstylist: Some people dye [their hair]. Some are heavy metal fans, and others are devil worshippers.

Reporter: Devil worship originated in England in the 19th century. It is supported by Jewish and American capitalists. Drug use and depraved sexual rituals are part of the daily life of devil worshippers.

Muscle Power vs. Brain Power

19 09 2007

Iran: Muscle Power vs. Brain Power: an opinion piece published in Asharq Alawsat on the 8th of September.

Apparently Ahmadinejad is starting a new program to Islamify (read: Khomeini-fy) Iranian universities – specifically Tehran University – by enforcing a Khomeini-approved curriculum, and replacing academics with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members. He’s calling it “The Second Islamic Cultural Revolution.”

The columnist compares it to the first Islamic Cultural Revolution, which he says failed in its attempt to squash political opposition by filling universities with staff and students in or sympathetic to the IRGC.

No Iranian author, academic or scientist of note would be prepared to participate in the so-called “Islamic Cultural Revolution.” Efforts to find somebody to prepare a cursus on Khomeini’s supposed “philosophy” have provoked only derision among intellectuals approached to assume the task. After months of efforts to prepare a special course on Ahmadnejad’s denial of the Holocaust, the committee charged with the task has produced nothing but a slim pamphlet that consists almost entirely of translations from Western “negationist” writers.