Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 03, 2009

Congratulations to the People of Iran

Iran today successfully launched a small telecommunication satellite. To do so is a great engineering achievement for any nation. Especially when under sanctions and thereby restricted in sourcing.

Including Iran only nine nations so far succeeded in launching satellites at all.

Dear Iranis, not that I like your government, I do not like mine either, but here are my very congrats to the People of Iran! The Arms Control Wonks congratulate too

Links: launch video, launch animation

Posted by b on February 3, 2009 at 20:12 UTC | Permalink


'Dear Iranis, not that I like your government, I do not like mine either, but here are my very congrats to the People of Iran!'

B: why dont you like Iran's govt? Theyve not invaded anyone, have supported the palestinian people, and have refused to roll over for the 'International Community' (AKA western politicians).

Please dont be sucked in by the western media demonisation of Iran.

Posted by: brian | Feb 3 2009 21:13 utc | 1

Dear Iranis,

My unreserved congratulations for an amazing feat while under unjust and undeserved sanctions.
Greatness is born is adversity.

Posted by: Juno | Feb 3 2009 21:36 utc | 2

Jeeze,"Brian" or what ever you are,are you even remotely acquainted with b´s work these many years?

If your remarks were intended as sarcasm or satire, I apologize, a little, but not overly much.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Feb 3 2009 22:17 utc | 3

chuck cliff...that name sounds like satire. Does B hate the govt of Iran? Does he plan to back its overthrow? Do you?

Posted by: brian | Feb 4 2009 0:00 utc | 4


I think most people here are suspicious of any government. That said, I also think most folks here are realist that understand the real world is run by governments, and we're just examining what the larger effect of an event or policy is, and why.

I'd say I'm one of the least informed and probably the most ignorant guy who has slipped through the bar's door and stuck around, and most of the people posting comments here are smart cookies that do a lot of research before they hit enter.

From what I've read of b's work, I'd say he is an outstanding researcher who knows where, and how to find answers on some very interesting subject matter. You can never do wrong following one of b's threads because they are well written, with quick links and clever comments from smart people following along. I got sucked into the place a during the Gaza horrors and I haven't been able to stagger out the door yet.

If you want a well informed opinion of Iran's government, get up early and ask parviz what he thinks...

Posted by: David | Feb 4 2009 0:57 utc | 5

Good for the Iranians. I hope they only use the technology for peaceful purposes! Otherwise to hell with them too.

Posted by: David | Feb 4 2009 0:59 utc | 6

As I understand it, to launch a satellite, you have to have mastered ballistic missile technology. If so, Iran will soon be able to drop a missile anywhere in the world, just like the USA and Israel. That's not a particularly consoling thought, but we can always hope that they employ their new technologies more judiciously than the USA and Israel.

Posted by: JohnH | Feb 4 2009 2:48 utc | 7

'I think most people here are suspicious of any government.'

This is naieve.There are good govts...their identified by being under threat by the International Community, or are you saying Venezuela is a bad govt? or Cuba, which ironically as it may seem is afar better govt than any in the west.

'Good for the Iranians. I hope they only use the technology for peaceful purposes! Otherwise to hell with them too'

Sorry, but nuclear techology can never be equated with peace. Its environmentally unsound, and its waste, as the US knows, can be used for DU.

On this issue, Iran is wrong.

John H:
'As I understand it, to launch a satellite, you have to have mastered ballistic missile technology. If so, Iran will soon be able to drop a missile anywhere in the world, just like the USA and Israel. That's not a particularly consoling thought, but we can always hope that they employ their new technologies more judiciously than the USA and Israel'

John, not everyone is a psychopath like you, US or Israel govts.

Posted by: brian | Feb 4 2009 4:24 utc | 8

Go Iran, join the other nations already there.

What's good for some should not harm others to much. I mean just for balance.

Posted by: sabine | Feb 4 2009 4:50 utc | 9


As far as I can tell the Iranians didn't use any nuclear technology to launch their rocket. To speculate about what purpose they plan to use their budding space program to achieve would be foolish at this point.

As to why John's post makes him a psychopath seems unreasonable, perhaps you could explain this better.

When you speak of naivety and government; have you ever lived in the countries you claim have good governments? It is dangerous to assume any government is good until it proves it by allowing its citizens to have full access to its workings and the government is accountable for its decisions, to its citizens at all times. I doubt there is a county on earth that will do this.

Posted by: David | Feb 4 2009 5:01 utc | 10

I fully agree with every word b wrote. We democracy-seeking, secular Iranians hate the current regime with every fibre in our bodies. It is the most corrupt, brutal, retarded and self-serving regime in the world, right up there along with Zimbabwe. The nation is run by the Revolutionary Guards who have transferred literally $$$ hundreds of billions of the nation's oil wealth to private offshore accounts over the past 30 years, destroyed the domestic economy, plundered the Oil Stabilization Fund, imprisoned and tortured dissidents, created a police state and managed to turn the world's potentially richest nation into a major under-achiever whose population is so poor that half our teenage girls have turned to prostitution to make ends meet. So much for 'Islam'. The Mullahs are Pigs (I can't think of a more appropriately insulting word) and none of them believe in God, otherwise they wouldn't be preaching in public and debauching in private, for fear of God's wrath.

HOWEVER, whether by accident or intent, the Mullahs are strong critics of double standards (Israel-Palestine) and fierce defenders of my nation's independence and self-reliance, so almost every Iranian (I would guess over 95 %) applauds our nation's technological achievements in the face of adversity, together with the regime's relentless exposure of global injustice.

The above will help all those non-Iranians on this Blog to understand why we secular Iranians are totally schizophrenic and are caught between despising the Mullahs and experiencing pride at having tweaked America's nose. It's basically a Love-Hate relationship, but with far more hate than love.

Right on, b, you summarized it beautifully.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 7:10 utc | 11

P.S., anyone here who believes that Iran would launch a nuclear-armed rocket at anyone needs his/her head examined. Even the extremist Mullahs are concerned exclusively with their own self-preservation, to the extent that their fingerprints haven't been found on any weapons shipments to Hizbullah for over 20 years. Does anyone believe that they would risk an easily monitored launch of a massive rocket that would guarantee the regime's extermination?

I seriously doubt the intelligence of people who doubt the Mullahs' intelligence.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 7:15 utc | 12

By the way, here are the kinds of double standards the Mullahs (and everyone on this fabulous blog) are railing against:

U.S. hero Mahmoud Abbas is permitted to deny the Holocaust while Ahmadinejad's mistranslated comments invited global opprobrium. And I wonder, why hasn't hypocritical Israel spoken out on this issue?

Abbas' thesis, completed in 1982 at the Patrice Lumumba University, was called The Secret Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement.[29][30] In 1984, a book based on Abbas's doctoral dissertation was published in Arabic by Dar Ibn Rushd publishers in Amman, Jordan. His doctoral thesis later became a book, The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, which, following his appointment as Palestinian Prime Minister in 2003, was heavily criticized as an example of Holocaust denial. In his book, Abbas described the Nazi Holocaust as "The Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed."[31] He also wrote:

"It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement, however, is to inflate this figure [of Holocaust deaths] so that their gains will be greater. This led them to emphasize this figure [six million] in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism. Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions—fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand."[32][33][34]

Additionally, he claimed that the much smaller number of Jews which he admitted that the Nazis did massacre were actually the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot:

Mahmood Abbas denies Holocaust without Neocon-Zionist reprisal

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 7:21 utc | 13

@JohnH - @7 - As I understand it, to launch a satellite, you have to have mastered ballistic missile technology. If so, Iran will soon be able to drop a missile anywhere in the world, just like the USA and Israel.

To shoot a 20kg satellite up some 300km requires much less than to shoot a payload of 500kg over 1,500 miles to hit a target. While Iran has achieved something, the capability is comparable to low mid-range ballistic missiles, not intercontinental stuff.

Posted by: b | Feb 4 2009 7:45 utc | 14

@Parviz @11 - just to note - the Shah wasn't any better than the Mullah's ...

Posted by: b | Feb 4 2009 7:49 utc | 15

I never claimed he was. I was totally anti-Shah, and still am, because his corrupt, arrogant, brutal rule facilitated the Islamic Revolution that took us from the frying pan into the fire. And if the Revolution had occurred a decade later it would have been a Bastille-style event or October Revolution rather than the effortless coup d'etat it proved to be, so in some sense I'm glad tha nation got rid of him when it did.

For the brutality that followed we owe much to the U.S..

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 8:42 utc | 16

Iran is not acting responsibly with its military equipments, pushing it to extreme Islamic fractions all over the world. Their leader and especially their president Ahmadinajad declared many times that their goal is "the destruction of the Zionist entity". That makes the situation more difficult to all, especially to Israel and Arab Suni states. I'm sure that the days of that extreme Islamic regime are numbered and something will happen within 2 years that will blow all the Iranians nuclear and missiles achievements which will cause the Islamo-Fascist regime to collapse.

Posted by: Abe Bird | Feb 4 2009 9:41 utc | 17

I believe that unless Iran stops its enrichment of highly enriched uranium, which seems very likely despite sanctions, both Isreal and the U.S. must attack their nuclear facilities. It appears very likely that sooner or later we will have to do this to stop them acquirng nuclear weapons.

The stakes are too high for U.S and its allies not too. Iran arms various terrorist groups. There is a danger that once they have nuclear weapons, they could hand such weapons to terrorist groups intact to use against the us U.S. and its allies. Terrorists could then try to smuggle such weapons into these countries or make a attack by launching them from a ship, as noted in your earlier posted comments.

The U.S, Europe and its allies in the ME continue to use sanctions, whilst for U.S., Britain and France, the use of force is a last resort should sanctions fail. And so the time is coming, sooner or later, when Isreal and the U.S. must decide at some point that further sanctions won't work, and that it imperative we strike before Iran develops nuclear weapons. When that point comes in the future Isreal and the U.S. must strike.

Posted by: Abe Bird | Feb 4 2009 10:28 utc | 18

Abe@18-What "highly enriched" uranium are you talking about? Iran has nothing but low grade uranium according to the IAEA, but then I'm not one to argue with propaganda...

Posted by: David | Feb 4 2009 10:40 utc | 19

wonder what soured the relationship between Israel and Iran. they used to by really good buds.

Israeli support for Iran during Iran - Iraq war

Formed under the guidance of United States and Israeli intelligence officers in 1957, SAVAK developed into an effective secret agency

Posted by: dos | Feb 4 2009 11:04 utc | 20

God (no definition) bless their inventive little hearts. Every MSM news story I've seen has hyped the scary 'military possibities' but I don't think so.

Posted by: waldo | Feb 4 2009 11:21 utc | 21

David @ 19: IAEA knows nothing. The Iranians banned them for long time and not let them reach the real nuclear sites.

dos @ 20: So what do you mean? You're talking 30 years ago. Old conventional weapons are not nukes. Israel wanted with the US to help Iran and now Iran betrays. That's only makes you understand the nature of the IslamoFascist Iranian regime.

Posted by: Abe Bird | Feb 4 2009 11:21 utc | 22

@Parviz #13:

Good point.

Posted by: Malooga | Feb 4 2009 11:31 utc | 23

Abe Bird, since I myself am relatively new to this Blog I wonder whether you are also new to it. All the points you make have been hammered out ad aeternam in various threads. But let me re-cap:

1. Ahmadinejad never threatened to destroy Israel. This was a gross mistranslation of "ma arzooye aan rooz ra dareem ke regeem-e-Zionisti as sahne roozegar napadeed beshavad",

which verbatim translates into:

"We long for the day when the Zionist entity vanishes from the pages of time."

Basically, this means that the Iranian regime wants the Zionist regime to collapse internally without a shot being fired, as occurred with the South African regime. I fully support his sentiments. The fact that the Zionist-controlled media magnified the mistranslation relentlessly makes me wish even harder for the end of both Zionism and "Israeli Apartheid" (Jimmy Carter's phrase, not mine).

2. David is right: Iran manufactures only low-enriched uranium monitored by IAEA sealed cameras.

3. The IAEA has full access to all sites and, despite criticizing Iran's failure to reveal the entire history of Iran's nuclear programme (which may have no motive other than to protect source identities and contacts) the IAEA has confirmed that it has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme. But the IAEA also said this about Iraq and people like you didn't believe the agency, resulting in one million needless deaths, Abu Ghraib, Blackwater and other horrors.

Abe Bird, exactly what is your agenda? Why do you distort the facts so blatantly, repeating propaganda disseminated by the Zionist-controlled media?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 12:30 utc | 24

Abe Bird (Post 18). You write:

"Iran arms various terrorist groups. There is a danger that once they have nuclear weapons, they could hand such weapons to terrorist groups intact to use against the us U.S. and its allies."

Oh, sorry, I thought it was the CIA that trained Osama Bin Laden and created the Taleban by virtue of its blind support of 'ally' Pakistan. The U.S. is now arming and financing the AL-Qaeda offshoot 'Jundullah' that is killing Iranians in Baluchestan.

And let's not forget that the U.S. is arming the most terrorist nation on Earth, Israel. I suggest you watch the video on the thread of January 18th "Gaza Song: We will not go down" (By Michael Heart). It's back on YouTube.... providing you have the stomach to view your nation's atrocities without throwing up.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 12:38 utc | 25

So, finally MoA has been assigned their own hasbara dude by the pseudonym Abe Bird. It would have been funnier if they have put directly Abe Foxman in charge. But it seems that we´ll have to work with the (even more) low quality stuff.

Posted by: | Feb 4 2009 12:57 utc | 26

Israel was arming Iran (as the US was arming Iraq via Saudi Arabia) to keep them fighting each other.

Arms to Iran

In the summer of 1985 the Israeli Government suggested to the Reagan administration that weapons be sold to Iran in exchange for the release of seven American hostages held in Lebanon. The motion was opposed by both the Secretaries of State and Defence, who declared that such an arms-for-hostages deal was against the U.S. public policy of not dealing with governments which supported international terrorism. They also argued that this would breach both the Arms Export Control Act and the U.S. arms embargo that had been placed against Iran after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran 1979. The opposition to this motion had little effect and in the summer of 1985 the President authorised Israel to advance with the salessales. Although the agreement stated that Iran would ensure the release of all the hostages, only Reverend Benjamin Weir returned, despite the 504 TOW anti-tank missiles supplied in August and September 1985.


The Israeli Connection

Retired Gen. Aharon Yariv, former head of military intelligence, told a conference at Tel Aviv University in late 1986 that "it would be good if the Iran-Iraq war ended in a tie, but it would be even better if it continued." Otherwise, Iraq might open an "eastern front" against Israel. 19 The carnage of human life didn't figure in the equation at all. Uri Lubrani, Israel's chief representative in Iran under the Shah and Nimrodi's superior in Mossad, recently justified continued arms sales because "Khomeinism will disappear and Israel and the United States will again have influence in Iran."

Israel lost no time supplying the new Khomeini regime with small quantities of arms, even after the seizure of the U.S. embassy. The first sales included spare parts for U.S.-made F-4 Phantom jets; a later deal in October 1980 included parts for U.S.-made tanks. Israel informed Washington, only "after the fact, when they were far down the line and right into the middle of the thing," according to a former State Department official. To Begin's ex post facto request for approval, "the answer was instant, unequivocal and negative," writes Gary Sick, the Iran expert on Carter's NSC.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Feb 4 2009 13:18 utc | 27

Iran-Contra, Amplified, by Jim Lobe

Today's scheming makes the Iran-Contra scandal look like amateur hour.

It appears that certain elements in the Pentagon leadership, specifically Douglas Feith, are trying to sabotage sensitive talks between Teheran and the State Department to promote cooperation over Al Qaeda and other pressing issues affecting Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon clique thinks Ledeen's old friend Ghorbanifar can help, according to Newsday, which reported August 8 that two of Feith's senior aides -- without notice to the other agencies -- have held several meetings with the Iranian, whom the CIA has long considered "an intelligence fabricator and nuisance."

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Feb 4 2009 13:24 utc | 28

Great posts, Thrasyboulos. Thanks.

@ anonymous (post 26), are you suggesting Abe Bird is one of those Zionists tasked with disrupting Blogs exposing Israeli atrocities and preventing war on Iran?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 14:11 utc | 29

@Parviz, 29.

Yes, indeed. For their words (and their deeds) ye shall know them. If you have time, compare with other proZionist talking points. Don't you feel a considerable dejá vu?

Posted by: | Feb 4 2009 14:21 utc | 30

@ 30, come on, at least use a pseudonym ;-)

If more than one poster posts anonymously we won't know who's posting what!

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 14:56 utc | 31

Alastair Crooke in Le Monde Diplomatique: The strange tale of Iran and Israel

“We had very deep relations with Iran, cutting deep into the fabric of the two peoples,” said a high-ranking official at the Israeli foreign ministry just after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Israeli (and US) officials then saw it as madness to view Iran as anything other than a natural interlocutor. Thirty years later, western policy-makers, and particularly Israelis, see Iran as a growing threat. Could this fear be based on a misreading of Iran’s revolution?

Posted by: b | Feb 4 2009 17:00 utc | 32

What a Godsent it would be if Iran turns out to be a blessing in disguise for the US! And believe me, The Devil within Israel will fight tooth and nail to make sure that Iran remains a curse to not just Israelis, but Americans as well. But as long as Israel and the US remain separate and distinct, I'm free to dangle this old adage over Israel's head: "one nation's curse is another nation's blessing."

Posted by: Cynthia | Feb 4 2009 17:40 utc | 33

Cynthia, that would be poetic justice.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 4 2009 20:07 utc | 34

'When you speak of naivety and government; have you ever lived in the countries you claim have good governments?'

David: i live in a country that claims to have a good govt: Australia..but after 10 years of 'liberal' Howard govt, and a year of 'Labor' Rudd govt (both have odious foreign policies) i would not call Aussie govts good.

BUT unlike Australia and other 'good govts',. Iran is not backing Israels genocide in gaza, or US war on Iraq and Afghanistan. So relatively, Iran has the better govt.

'It is dangerous to assume any government is good until it proves it by allowing its citizens to have full access to its workings and the government is accountable for its decisions, to its citizens at all times. I doubt there is a county on earth that will do this'

Try Cuba and Venezuela....

Posted by: brian | Feb 4 2009 21:12 utc | 35

'Thirty years later, western policy-makers, and particularly Israelis, see Iran as a growing threat'

Coming from Israel...thats rich! SO is Israel in the west or the middle east? Both have an attidude toward the middle east that is racist and imperialist. Who has been the biggest threat other than 'western policy makers'?!

Posted by: brian | Feb 4 2009 21:15 utc | 36

i am willing to offer iranian comrades my fraternal congratulations for their scientific achievement

however, there is the business of suits made in iran & especially those worn by the president - look i'm as proletarian as the next guy but those suits - they are quite frankly, awful. more like bean bags. the mullah's look neat in their frocks & their masculine beards & those spotless shirts but the fucking suits - like they were bought in las vegas from a jewish hustler in the late fifties

perhaps that's what the little mad shah pahvlavi did buy millions of suits in vegas - all badbrown or terrriblegreen - all in the cause of modernisation & being a perfect vassal for the yankees. sure, with the oil, he bought a lot of those costumes you get in paris, you know 'emporer of all things', 'ultimate king of all that', - those costumes with a lot of medals & bling - things european exiles used to wear in hollywood in the thirties

now, i know a jewish tailor....

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 4 2009 22:59 utc | 37

r'giap 37

That could be a Jewish tailor in Tehran.

Anyway, who are we to comment on Iranian tastes? It's like my first ex-wife, a New Yorker, who complained that hamburgers in London were not like those in the US.

Posted by: Alex | Feb 4 2009 23:22 utc | 38


you understand - the criticism was of the most fraternal kind - i'm so lazy on the domestic front that i have worn leather since university - it simplified things

& yr right of course, iran has a jewish population & representation within the political process

but fraternally....

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 4 2009 23:36 utc | 39

By the way, I should have added my congratulations to Iran. I'm very impressed; I didn't know this was in planning.

The remarkable point is that Israel has not done the same. I suppose that there are many Israeli spy satellites in orbit, from US launches. Not the same achievement.

Posted by: Alex | Feb 4 2009 23:38 utc | 40

A question for Parviz Regarding government corruption in Iran.

How do you feel corruption in Iran compares with, for example, Egypt Jordan or Saudi Arabia? As it seems those governments are extraordinarily corrupt and yet don't even have the saving virtue of standing up for those nations' independence and interests. Despite close association with the west, none of them have a real nuclear research program and none of them have sent a satellite into orbit.

Perhaps Iranians don't view themselves as comparable to those nations?


Posted by: Lysander | Feb 4 2009 23:54 utc | 41


I just did a quickie history lesson on Iran. What a sad tale! Those Mongols were hell on the place, it's sad to think of all the amazing knowledge lost to barbarians through the ages. All the famous libraries raided and destroyed. How it makes the heart ache to contemplate all that's been lost, and even more so because of how little the species has changed.

Posted by: David | Feb 5 2009 2:02 utc | 42

the West today is a frightened group of nations traumatized by the ongoing & irreversible erosion of its power to do as it pleases with the rest of the world.

in 20 years, any country in the world that honors its own people above serving exploitative Western interests will discover its capacity to deploy satellites and inclusive, other advanced technologies as it sees fit.

the new world is already the leveler of interests and theres really nothing left to be gained from the old ways.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 5 2009 3:28 utc | 43


Not only the suits, those glasses! :) Though I think it might be politicians everywhere, I know here in Australia they look odd too.

The younger people in Iran dress much more fashionably. Especially in the north of Tehran, brand-name bags and sunglasses everywhere.

Actually I'm off to Iran in about 4 weeks for the Persian New Year, will be my third visit in as many years. Can't wait!

Anyway I've been reading MoA for several months now and just wanted to say how much I enjoy it, and thanks B for your efforts. Keep up the good work everyone.

Posted by: Ash | Feb 5 2009 5:36 utc | 44

Wow! I awoke to loads of comments and questions. I'll try and answer them all:

remembereringgiap (37), Alex (38), it's not a direct reponse to you, but you may be interested to learn that the percentage of the population wearing suits and ties, and shaving daily, has increased dramatically, I would guess tenfold since Ahmadinejad's (s)election. It's a form of silent protest.

r'giap (39), don't make too much of the Jewish 'fraternity' thing. Believe me, Iranian animosity towards various provinces is greater than our religious animosity, which means that we Tehranis have more problems with Tabriziz (our Turkish speaking fellow-Muslims in Tabriz) than with Jews who blend in as they're scattered throughout the country.

(40), thank you, Alex, as I wrote earlier, we Iranians are the world's biggest schizophrenics: Our admiration for what the Mullahs have achieved technologically through adversity is matched only by our hatred of them.

Lysander (41), corruption is a sore point for all Iranians not sucking off the regime. Iran was always corrupt (as are all dictatorships), but corruption under the Mullahs has grown beyond imagination. The regime's cronies (according to official U.A.E. Central Bank figures) have sunk $ 300 BILLION in the Dubai desert alone (and the Arabs hate us, so investing in them is our way of saying 'thank you'!?!). The regime's offspring have built highways and shopping malls in Canada, huge amounts of prime real estate in Britain and squirrelled hundreds and billions of kickbacked Dollars offshore. The regime doesn't want to encourage the private sector or 'diseases' like tourism, for fear of enriching and thereby empowering people opposed to the system and encouraging foreign influence. They want it all for themselves, and to protect themselves by devoting local investment exclusively to the security apparatus and to the mimimum basic needs of the increasingly frustrated populace. (Inflation is 50 % p.a.).

But, Lysander, you make a great point: Other nations in the Gulf are corrupt and dependent on U.S. security to maintain their corrupt regimes, while Iran is corrupt but independent.

(42), thank you, David. Persia has been continually attacked and invaded througout history, and interestingly, invaders like Alexander the Great (!?!) have been lionized in the West and Persians always categorized as buffoons. In fact, Alexander was a drunken peasant whose first action on invading Persia was to burn Persepolis and the national library (a genuine World Wonder) to the ground in a drunken rage.

Having been one of the major pawns in the Great Game for over a century, we Iranians are all naturally paranoid about the U.S., Britain, Israel, the Arabs (who have invaded us repeatedly, the last time in 1980 with one million deaths). What a waste of potential.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 5 2009 5:53 utc | 45

@ David and Parviz:

British playwright Tom Stoppard addresses the loss of the library at Alexandria (and other historical wonders), thus:

"We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?" - Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Posted by: catlady | Feb 5 2009 9:02 utc | 46

catlady, what a superb ode to learning.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 5 2009 13:23 utc | 47


I realized during another thread, I wasn't able to place Iran into a historical context (right off the top of my head) so I did a review on Wiki. Not exactly the best history lesson, but all I really needed was to place Iran into the context of what I did remember.

It's deep history seems less popularized in the west than that of the Greeks and Romans, which is a real shame. I was surprised by much of the information I read; what a progressive, interesting culture that not only survived invaders, but managed to influence the invading culture into becoming more like Persians than the Persians becoming like them.

I love to find out about other peoples. I grew-up in California longing to know history and live it, but living in California seemed so dull (as a kid, most California history taught in school started with the spanish missionary's saving the poor savages rather than examining California's amazing native cultures who had many languages, religions and different cultures.)

My youthful days were mostly wasted on knights and castles when there was so much more to know.

I love the great idea of America, I still have nationalism in my heart, but the more I learn about other cultures the more it makes me feel sad for my country. Sad, because America, the Idea, has been lost during our journey to build our empire. But it's where I live and you gotta make due with what ya' got.

Parviz, do you have any suggested reading (in english) I could do to find some other perspectives on Iran. I think I'd like to read more, it seems so fascinating.

Thank you Parviz, and Catlady, thank you for your post too. Knowledge may never be lost, but isn't maddening thinking of all we need to re-learn...

Posted by: David | Feb 5 2009 13:39 utc | 48

Thanx, Parviz. Corruption is a curse in that part of the world. Where do you see this going over the next 10-15 years? Can the current government reform? Is Khatami going to run for president and can he win? Do you want him to win?

Sprry for so many questions.

Also, I have to add, it seems unlikely that Khameini's son will become the next supreme leader, unlike in Egypt where Gamal Mubarak is set to take over. And which again I add, has no serious nuclear program and no space program despite it's close "alliance" with the U.S./E.U. etc.

Posted by: Lysander | Feb 5 2009 14:20 utc | 49

David, Thanks for your interest in my country. The reason we Iranians feel so misunderstood is because modern Western teaching has been heavily infuenced by the big powers that set the school curricula and by special cultural groups that always portray Iran negatively. My daughter graduated in the U.S. and phoned me once, extremely distraught, because she had defended the Iranian position during a lecture and been graded C+ in her next paper by the professor whose Neocon ideas she had challenged. People seeing '300' believe the ancient Persians were one-eyed monsters whereas they were far more advanced culturally and scientifically than the Greeks and Trojans (but really sucked at fighting, which is why we kept getting whupped by the Greeks!).

You should definitely read Robert Baer: "The Devil We Know" for an extraordinary in-depth appraisal of current geopolitics that is heavily (and positively) focussed on Iran. Also "The Persian Puzzle" by Kenneth Pollack has an excellent introduction that is worth the price of the entire book (so you may wish to read just the intro at the bookstore to save buying it, as we do at Hugendubel in Germany!).
Both a/m books are well written and very easy to read, but they focus mainly on current tensions.

For a proper history of Iran/Persia, so much has been written that I'm embarrassed for choice. Since I know how interested you are in this subject I'll consult with friends and come back to you during the next few days. I don't simply want to recommend "The Cambridge History of Iran", for instance, but find out whether any of my compatriots can really recommend something special.

Did you know (and this should be interesting for all MoA barflies) that the ancient Persians invented wine 7,500 years ago? The original earthenware pots are the proud possession of the University of Pennsylvania. Eat your heart out, France!?! (The same applies to our damned Islamic fundamentalists .......)

Persia invented wine 7,500 years ago

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 5 2009 15:18 utc | 50

Lysander, I believe Khatemi will run AND win, but in politics "one week is a long time", let alone 4 1/2 months.

I haven't a clue how Iran will develop over the next 15 years. It will be either

a) More of the same rubbish, with periods of progress and regression heavily influenced by events in the region,


b) A revolution brought on by severe economic hardship and a population sick to death of the Mullahs. It would need a full-blown General Strike to get rid of the Mullahs. Half measures will be brutally suppressed.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 5 2009 15:22 utc | 51


This is the great thing about the internet. Stuck in some airport or walking down the street, we might never have had a chance to converse, due to the many things that separate people in public spaces. But here you look just like the rest of the MoA people, in fact, it's what most people on the internet look like; a macintosh G-4 laptop.

I wonder if this is why I'm always trying to pick-up on laptops at the mac store? There was this cute G-5...

Sorry, got distracted, I'll go see if I can find those books you suggest at the store in town, and please let me know a volume or two that have the old history... that's what I like to read.

Parviz, your country's problem with getting whupped was probably due to the Zorastian religion and also the way intellectuals always try to reason with invaders instead of whacking them upside the head with a really big stick. Small, armed, angry drunk men, with a crowd of followers, are always dangerous to places of knowledge and beauty...

Posted by: David | Feb 5 2009 15:36 utc | 52

b said:
' - just to note - the Shah wasn't any better than the Mullah's '

Really, id say the Mullahs were a damn sight better than the shah! Thats why there was a revolution!

BUT the rise of the Mullahs AND the shah go back to US/UK dislike for iranian democracy and the ovethrow of Mossadegh.

Nothing the US/UK support could possibly be good.

Posted by: brian | Feb 5 2009 20:43 utc | 53

'David @ 19: IAEA knows nothing. The Iranians banned them for long time and not let them reach the real nuclear sites'

abe (israeli??) is actually referring to Israel, which has kept its Dimona site from being inspected .

'The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency said today he is ready to discuss Israel's concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions. Muhammad el-Baradei, who is in Israel on a three-day visit, held talks today with Israeli nuclear officials. El-Baradei has said he wants Israel to begin a dialogue to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons, but will not force it to publicly reveal whether it has nuclear weapons. Israel's so-called "ambiguity policy" is to neither admit nor deny whether it has nuclear arms.'

Posted by: brian | Feb 5 2009 21:24 utc | 54

I would like to imagine a world in which Western relations with Iran were managed by people like Edward Fitzgerald who brought the poet-mathematician Omar Khayyam into Western ken

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

which "says it all" with regard to the futility of seeking painless integration of the past with the future; or more optimistically
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

It's true that conflict is an intrinsic and inevitable component of human relations, but so too is the possibility of an encounter between souls seeking kinship rather than alienation. There's not much intellectual or
informational content in the foregoing effusion, but sometimes analytical clarity takes a backseat to the search for harmonious union. (Of course, that can also sometimes lead to decidedly unhappy outcomes.)

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Mar 23 2009 16:11 utc | 56

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