Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 16, 2009

The Right To Choose

In the thread on Iran's upcoming election (1, 2, 3) Parviz is onto something when he rants (his description) in comment 106:

I despair sometimes at the expectation some posters have of the need for Iran to fight Capitalism and U.S. regional hegemony on its own and ad aeternam. The attitude seems to be: To Hell with your economic development; to Hell with your 25 % unemployment (in one of the world's potentially wealthiest nations); to Hell with 50 % inflation caused by sanctions that have closed many factories and created an annual imported inflation rate of 50 %; to Hell with your underdeveloped South Pars gas field which Qatar is siphoning off at your nation's expense because they are at peace with the U.S. and Iran isn't; to Hell with human rights that would be boosted by peace between the U.S. and Iran resulting in cultural exchanges and the positive influences of a tourist boom; to Hell with your best brains who leave for better job opportunities in Capitalist countries (even China and India) because jobs don't exist at home .......... Further afield, to Hell with Pakistan and India that desperately need funds and peace to develop the IPI natural gas "Friendship Pipeline", and to Hell with Europe that desperately needs a major energy supply alternative to the Big Bad Russian Bear.

NO! Iran, you are expected to remain under-developed, because if you adopt Capitalism and FDI your people will 'suffer' .....

He is right in that some, including me, sometimes forget that while lauding this or that opposition to the empire in some foreign country, we may also seem to argue for the oppression of the people of that country.

It is a people's choice to make what social/economic/political system they want. If they make the wrong choice - as long as it does not lead to war - it is their problem.

For example: We should condemn the delivery, with U.S. support, of heavy weapons to South Sudan and a Darfur rebel leader meeting top Israeli defense official. Those moves will likely lead to further civil war in Sudan. But to condemn that is not a reason to defend the Sudan regime under Omar al-Bashir. The enemy of my enemy is not automatically my friend.

While we laud Iran's independence in foreign policy, we have no right to tell its people what to choose.

While I am a strickt adherer to non-interference by states in other states in the Westphalian sense, I support the right of people everywhere to make their choices on an as-objective-as-possible base.

Posted by b on February 16, 2009 at 16:29 UTC | Permalink


You are a magnanimous man, b.

It is a people's choice to make what social/economic/political system they want. If they make the wrong choice...

This coming from a German whose nation proved politics can be sold as easily as soap.

Neither in china, sudan, russia, syria, nor in those countries in which (as you and moa'ers regularly point out) the means of producing culture have been seized by "elites," does a "people's choice" exist.

This wondrous empire of which you speak must be chosen by "the people" of Germany who unashamedly join in the effort to expand and defend it, last time I checked.

And the people choose war in Israel and Palestine. Hmmm. So, by your selective noninterventionism, "we" should intervene, yes?

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 16 2009 18:19 utc | 1

"If You Need My Blood, Fidel, You Have It"

Chavez's Clarion Call


It was 2006. I was really very ill but very much aware of what was happening. During those days around the middle of September, the XIV NAM Summit where Cuba was elected to the Presidency was ending. I could barely sit up and take my place at a table. That's how I received some important heads of state or government. The Prime Minister of India was among them. The highest ranking visitor I received in that emergency room in the Presidential Palace was the Ghanaian Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, who a few days later would be ending his mandate.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president of Algeria, one of the personalities with whom I met, looked me straight in the eye and said: "If you need my blood Fidel, you have it".

I appreciated it greatly. He had been foreign minister in the government of our friend Houari Boumediene.

Bouteflika as well had just gone through a health crisis that had him teetering on the edge of death. One might say that his recovery was astounding.

His words constituted a noble and selfless support for our cause, which was not expected, by our internationalist spirit that was never exercised in exchange for anything.

His noble gesture took place years after a despicable traitor to the history of his self-sacrificing and combative people coincided, in the city of Monterrey Mexico, with the demands of the head of the empire that I be thrown out of a Summit taking place there, after speaking to the people gathered there, with the exception of Bush who hadn't touched Mexican soil while I was setting foot on the same land.

Just before the minute I left, Hugo Chavez urgently visited me and, indignant about such high-handed behaviour by the head of state of the host country, he exclaimed: "Fidel, tell me how much oil Cuba needs to defeat the Yankee blockade".

The dialogue seemed unreal. It isn't easy to remember, through the mist of emotions, what the exact words of my response were. Doubtlessly, they were words negating my acceptance.

Be that as it may, Cuba's destiny followed its course. The fate of our people was bound to the legendary memory of Che and the thinking of Marti and Bolivar.

Our future cannot be separated from the events happening next Sunday when the day for approving the Constitutional Amendment begins. There is no other alternative but victory.

The destinies of the peoples of "Our America" will depend substantially on that victory and it will be an event which will have influence on the rest of the planet.

However, what is missing is an acknowledgement to Hugo Chavez for his contribution to Spanish literature. His latest article published on February 12th under the title of "Chavez' Lines", is an inspired document of exceptional quality, of the kind only great writers can pull together. It is pure Chavez, body and soul, reflected in print, the way very few can achieve.

Last week's enthusiastic throng is a spectacle which can only be accessed by television for an incalculable number of people in the world.

The unmasking of the staged self-provocation in the Jewish synagogue is the antithesis of those moving images that in 1945 Soviet troops showed to the world after they stormed and took the Auschwitz concentration camp; they showed the world what had happened to millions of Jews and people from other occupied countries including children, old people and women, imprisoned by the Nazis. It wasn't Eisenhower's soldiers making the effort and spilling their blood to liberate them.

The monstrous world of injustices that imperialism has imposed on the planet marks the inexorable end of a system and an era which cannot have long to survive. This too shall run out. We thank our Venezuelan compatriot for his clarion call.

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 16 2009 18:57 utc | 2

Speaking of Fidel and The Revolution, I'm sure many of you will find the following video refreshing. This is what I have in mind when I say a "People's Choice." Electing the lesser of despots and voting for an archaic and dying form of economic and political ideology is not "choice." It's a Faustian Bargain, and a Faustian Bargain can hardly be called a choice.

Cuba: The Accidental Revolution

Posted by: Obamageddon | Feb 16 2009 19:12 utc | 3


I clicked the play button and got the message, “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.” hmmm?

Posted by: Juannie | Feb 16 2009 19:23 utc | 4

totally wack post

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 16 2009 19:25 utc | 5

Juannie, give a search for the video elsewhere. It is excellent. I saw it a couple of years prior, and would actually like to view it again....if I can find it.

Posted by: Obamageddon | Feb 16 2009 19:44 utc | 6

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. You wouldn't know this from the Obama administration, which seems hellbent on draining the blood out of the body politic and transfusing it into the corpse of our financial system. But by the time Barack Obama is done all we will be left with is a corpse-a corpse and no blood. And then what? We will see accelerated plant and retail closures, inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines, unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears, social upheaval.

The United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary Fund's prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent-the worst since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed last year. And this number is set to rise in 2009, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold or were nationalized in 2008. There are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to shut down this year. Unemployment, when you add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment, is close to 14 percent.

And we have few tools left to dig our way out. The manufacturing sector in the United States has been destroyed by globalization. Consumers, thanks to credit card companies and easy lines of credit, are $14 trillion in debt. The government has pledged trillions toward the crisis, most of it borrowed or printed in the form of new money. It is borrowing trillions more to fund our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no one states the obvious: We will never be able to pay these loans back. We are supposed to somehow spend our way out of the crisis and maintain our imperial project on credit. Let our kids worry about it. There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around our severe limitations, to stanch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens. Contrast this with the national security state's strategies to crush potential civil unrest and you get a glimpse of the future. It doesn't look good.

"The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications," Blair told the Senate. "The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.

sometime, i am not sure what is the model for posters like parviz. if the west is known for anything at all - it is the constant & increasing inequalities of opportunity

what has u s imperialism or indeed all western politics meant practically. it has meant illegal invasions, dispossession of the people, of the extrication of their natural resources

i have worked in many different cultures & i simply don't see the world parviz does. certainly, i witness those close to the margins but in this i'll suggest as the bible does that societies ought to be judged by how they treat the least of people & for a very long time & most notably since the murderous coup against chile & the ravishment of new zealand in the 70's - these people 'the least of us' have been thrown aside in very real ways. they are refused educational opportunity, their economic opportunites are limited & the dignity of their lives is heavily overwhelmed by an impression of insignificance always walking the tightrope of crime & celebrity

whatever benefis in the west exist soley because of white skin privilege & that privilege is dissapearing for the majority of people & the concentration of that privilege into smaller & smaller elites is what we are witnessing quite nakedly today

this post is not intende for parviz - but it is inconcievable to me that he is not feeling the blood & the destruction of iraq. the complete & utter demolition of afghanistan, the contradictory but always subversive relation with pakistan. an otherwise peaceful indonesia is starting to become incendiary & the pharaohs of egypt are teetering on the brink - so it seems parviz sometimes talks of a world -( perhaps the south east asian 'tigers') that simply doesn't exist

choice - seems such a strange word under the circumstances. only latin americans have shown us what that might mean, really. beloved cuba - sister of my soul - has suffered the mean & brutal blockade because of its choice. & i insist on the meanness & the bitterness which has seemed to infor so much of u s foreign policy

this foreign policy that has spilt so much blood, so much blood over the last fifty years from honduras, indonesia to iraq & afghanistan & i refuse to forget that. i'll bore you senseless with that - i will demand what you mean by underdevelopment. how does underdevolpment arise, who benefits by underdevelopment

it is so simple for me - everything the west especially u s imperialism touches - turns to shit & you don't have to be a communist to percieve that - it is there before your eyes

& why is a caliphate of closed minds so very different from the crude culture of conquest

where are the free minds - for every breathtakingly brilliant norman finklestein you have an ocean of frauds & scribblers who not only do not give us choices, or options or even knowledge. what is most absent is wisdom, common sense, decency & that is what mostly marks - so called western democracy.

watch iceland to see how thinly the veil is pulled

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 16 2009 19:46 utc | 7

Juannie, below is a link that least for Part I which deals with Cuba's Agriculture since the Revolution. Part II concerns Healthcare and Education.>Cuba: The Accidental Revolution

Posted by: Obamageddon | Feb 16 2009 19:54 utc | 8

also available here in 10 parts

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 16 2009 20:04 utc | 9


I imagine that most of us here at b's place (myself included) can be defined as non-interventionists when it comes to war. But because America is financing Israel's apartheid (as well as its genocide) against Palestine, all Americans (myself included) and their allies (b included) have every right to intervene in this injustice committing by Israelis against Palestinians.

Posted by: Cynthia | Feb 16 2009 20:13 utc | 10

"No intervention unless threat of war" is naive.

What about stateless nations? What about countries like Zaire and Afghanistan whose bordering countries are used as bases to to safehaven confederate armies? What about governments like Sudan and Israel who pursue apartheid? And what about Tibet and Dhagistan, Pashtunistan, etc. who seek independence? Or are these "internal matters" reflexively respected by you? These are curious contradictions your noninterventionism must accommodate.

This is your policy in action: Sadaam Forever!

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 16 2009 20:15 utc | 11

r'giap 7) Wall Street did to US what US demand for oil almost did to Saudi, using 'flexible' credit, zero down, interest only ARM's to *overpump* the supply of US working income and savings. Worker savings is almost exactly like crude oil. There is a reserve, a pool of worker wealth, and they're pumping from that reserve, the fractional reserve banks and money and mortgage lenders. Wall Street as OPEC USA.

In effect, Wall Street "stranded" the greatest pool of worker wealth in the world. Now they're adopting another oilfield strategy, with 'high pressure injection', to fracture the US economy and push any last stranded pockets of worker wealth to their pumps (essentially zero interest rates push fixed income out, as retirees are forced to cash in their CDs and spend down their principal, the same with reverse-mortgages and panic mortages on already paid off homes). It's a desperate measure, trying to 'fracture' a 'stranded' money pool, and one with diminishing returns.

Like re-chewing that bubblegum you stuck under your desk.

They (mortgage brokers and banks) raped US through raw greed, but the Fed under Alan Greenspan did it, I believe, for an ulterior motive. The Fed has "60 of the brightest PhD's" as Greenspan crows, and every one of them knew the dot.con bomb foisted on Americans, followed by the signal 9/11 event, brought a "Peak-Money" crash to the Great American Wealth Fields, one that pumping for another decade
would bring the banksters little reward. They were facing huge downside losses.

So Fed dropped credit to zero, overpumped our fields, got their spike in profits,
and stranded the remaining flow for, it looks like now, about five to seven years.
They took their profits and ran, and left US like the Monroe Doctrine left Cuba.


The odd and counter-intuitive outcome, if you read on California's budget woes, is that Obama is gonna have to present the Great American Wealth Fields to the world investment community, the same way Saudi King Abdullah presents Ghawar / Safaniya.

"Everything is fine. We have total domestic security. We have tight control of wealth production. There is unlimited investment available and all are welcome."

But behind the scenes, it's high-pressure injection and fracturing like it's 1999,
and if a "Buy American" holds sway in the Obama Plan, America will soon *be* Cuba, because the majority of USA non-Gov, non-Defense, non-Finance GDP was from China and Dubai. Dubai, from inside reports, is seeing -40% to -50% crash in R/E values,
with another ... who knows, Dubai is a charade. China, if we block all Chinese and
Russian imports with "Buy American", and EU and SA are flat line, who are we going to sell anything to, besides further adulterated tranches of re-fi chopped liver?

USA could become just another natural resources and ag production 3WD backwater, except this go-around, 95% of Americans live in the Ghetto, where, in the 1930's, 95% of Americans lived on the Farm. Ghetto or Farm, just another name for Gulag.

Posted by: Free Alice | Feb 16 2009 20:47 utc | 12

While I would not want Iran to live under dictatorship, I must admit that I have some sympathy for the idea that democracy is a difficult ideal to maintain in opposition, or even in potential opposition to a global hegemon such as the United States.

Mosaddeq's government in Iran simply did not have adequate protections against foreign interference. Therefore the US, with its $10 trillion GDP today, or with nearly half of the world's industrial output then, was able to drown the legitimately elected government in resources aimed at its removal, in favor or a pro-US dictatorship.

I prefer Iran's government today, or even China's government today to Iran's government in the 1950's given the reality that the United States is inherently hostile to the sensibilities of most Iranian people. I prefer Iran's government today, by far, to Egypt's government, Jordan's, Saudi Arabia's or Oman's.

Unfortunately, neutral democratic governments do not exist. They are easy to overthrow and quickly replaced by pro-US stooge dictatorships, especially in the extended neighborhood of Israel.

Turkey at the moment is an exception that I hope to see continue, but it takes a tremendous amount of political talent and commitment to democracy for Turkey to remain as democratic as it is. There is also the fact that Turkey has a critical geo-strategic importance that prevents or works against the US turning the country into a pariah.

I've never advocated the oppression of the Iranian people and advocate as much freedom as possible while still preventing the United States from funding and elevating an Iranian Mubarak.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Feb 16 2009 21:09 utc | 13

god, i'm enjoying the hysteria against the venezuela & commandante chavey

the rich & powerful, ô they like their choice, as long as it is not the choice of the people. how those who write & comment for those who rule from the roll of dollars hate the people. these fascist prefer blood soaked columbia - where term limits are just dandy - or they prefer the unbelievable inequality of mexico & its corruption & its stolen election.

how i despise these cretins who mask their hatred of the people behind words words woven from a wreckage

away with all pests - was a slogan of the cultural revolution & it is particularly pertinent today

once upon a time perhaps i would have been perplexed by these jumped up jackanapes but it is clear they know nothing. the last 8 years have shown us explicitly that they know nothing about nothing. there is not one amongst them that is not a fool of some kind of other. the many thomas friedmans aren't even good for a giggle - their professed liberalism is nothing other than misanthropy dressed up as pomposity

they cannot seriouslly expect a people, the people to take anything they say as truth because we know, deeply, that tyhe opposite is the truth - whether it is wonderboy obama, they hysteric sarkozy, the buffoon brown - the head of nato, ban ki moon - they are a series of satraps so stupid that they appear senile - repeating the same words over & over again. claiming victory over this & that while everything is falling down about them. they forget that the people see, they remember & have a memory

we watch them kill people in front of our eyes - wherever it is, in gaza, in iraq, afghanistan or pakistan & so they try to configure language to hide the evident truth & reality. the most perverse in this are self evidently the israelis who tell us they are doing humanitarian work when what our eyes see is the extermination of a people. the israelis say they want peace but what our eyes see is the destruction of the palestinian people

we are lucky to be the witnesses to the unravelling of the greatest lies of power

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 16 2009 22:19 utc | 14

When something's good, it deserves to be called out, and this line by remembereringgiap is a keeper.

Why is a caliphate of closed minds so very different from the crude culture of conquest/

It is not only linguistically adroit, but it captures my sentiment, precisely.

Posted by: Obamageddon | Feb 16 2009 23:46 utc | 15

Parviz, If you say Iran has had enough of confrontation with the west, I will not argue. Only the Iranian public can decide what it must or must not do.

But I hope you have no illusions about what exactly the U.S. and the west want from Iran. And that is a client regime such as we have with Mubarak or Abdullah of Jordan. Perhaps you believe Iran is not susceptible to such machinations. Maybe not. But that is the U.S. goal and the process is not always dramatic like the fall of Allende vs Pinochet. It can be gradual, insidious as in Egypt. Nasser was no one's puppet. Sadat started off very independent, but Mubarak is a bought and paid for puppy from the pet store. There was no coup in Egypt to bring this about, yet it happened.

The entire nuclear issue is as much about the assertion of dominance as it is about nukes themselves. The U.S. wants to be the lone arbiter of who may possess technology and who may not. Iran will always be in the "may not" column. Ask yourself why does Saudi Arabia not have a nuclear research program? Why is Egypt not enriching Uranium? Why have neither ever launched a satellite into space? There is no shortage of smart people in either country. But they have accepted American (and Israeli) dominance. For that, their leaders are allowed to rule. And yet neither is any closer to democracy than Iran. Egypt is certainly no closer to economic recovery, despite billions in U.S. "aid."

In short, the U.S. will never allow Iran's economic development if it is not part of the program.

Now, if that is what Iran wants, none of us here have the right to insist it do otherwise. But make sure you understand the choice you are making.

Posted by: Lysander | Feb 16 2009 23:47 utc | 16

Ask yourself why does Saudi Arabia not have a nuclear research program? Why is Egypt not enriching Uranium? Why have neither ever launched a satellite into space? There is no shortage of smart people in either country. But they have accepted American (and Israeli) dominance.

I think nationalism means different things to different groups. And to a large extent it depends on their history. In comparison to Iran, Saudi & New-Egypt are relatively young entities. And the sense of history, common destiny & nationalism that exists in Iran can remain dormant for a long time till re-kindled. Also, (kind of like Japan) a certain sense of worth is attached to not shaming values & aspirations attributed to history. Add to that the powerful style of poetry & prose thats core to Farsi, providing a multiplier effect.

Any nation can be pacified via some means or the other. But Iran is going to be a very tough nut to crack and its stupid for the USA to even think about it.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 17 2009 2:31 utc | 17

Last weeks debate about iran and the alternatives for iran "going forward" as the corporatists say got me thinking about how Iran got to where it is today.
Firstly let me say that as a relatively objective observer who personally believes even a continuation of the current Iranian oligarchy would be better for all Iranians in the long term than what USuk has to offer, I would never support any outside interference to prevent the Iranian people from deciding for themselves.

Anyway, over the weekend I did some reading on the events of 1978 and 79 to try and learn exactly what did happen during the Iranian 'revolution' and I ended up with a very different take on how it came about than I had before.

One of my primary resources was a new series of documentaries running on BBC2 called "Iran and the West" - in particular Part 1 entitled "The Man who Changed the World". That episode looks at exactly how the Iranian revolution did happen and how it was that Ayatollah Khomeini did end up in charge.

I share Giap's reservations about the BBC's agenda, so I approached the doco with a very hairy eyeball. After discounting the anti-islam 'spin' and general pro-amerikan empire rhetoric and just considering the facts, the BBC doco had considerable merit as a primary source because it featured many interviews with major players from all sides. Actually that is not quite correct there weren't many people from the Iranian left interviewed - most of them are long dead, killed by either pahlavi or komeini, but that doesn't impact on the reality of what amerika and the shah did. The doco features interviews with prez carter and zbignew brazinski from the empire as well as similarly heavy hitters from pahlavi's side and Khomeini's entourage.

Conventional wisdom about the Iranian revolution goes that the Iranian left organised strikes throughout 1978 which began to get traction after Ayatollah Khomeini asked/instructed/entreated his followers to support the left and join in the strikes and protests.
This action got so bad, that by early 1979 the shah got scared and he fled overseas just as he had done back in 1953 when the army had threatened a coup.
After the shah left, Ayatollah Khomeini arrived from Paris and his supporters were very effective in persuading the army whose lower ranks were comprised of poor draftees from the same rural areas where Ayatollah Khomeini drew his main followers, not to attack them.
Then Ayatollah Khomeini began his move against the left whose structure was well documented and known, eventually obliterating them and leaving the mullahs in charge.

Like all good yarns it contains many truths but one thing puzzled me, that was that many other vassals of the amerikan empire had also managed to consolidate the urban leftists with conservative rural people suffering under the jackboot of one of the empire's puppets.

How many attempts have there been in Latin America to throw out the puppet regime since Castro won in Cuba?

I reckon it would come to hundreds, and although in many cases the left and the catholic church united against the ruling cabal, the only success was Nicaragua when the Somoza government collapsed under the weight of it's internecine conflict. Old man Somoza had gotten too greedy and had lost the support of the other oligarchs.

Everywhere else the empire had successfully quashed the people's will. Why did Iran pull it off? And how? Iran wasn't just another colony/client, it was the most valuable colony/client of the lot.

This state was incredibly important to the empire and had been the basis of negotiations between amerika and the Soviet Union right from the start of talks between Stalin and Roosevelt during WW2. In fact as a sign of Soviet good will and an acknowledgement of Russia's readiness to make the gift of Iran to amerika - a down payment for amerikan weapons and fuel to fight the nazis, the first meeting between Stalin and Roosevelt was in Tehran during December 1943.

Most people with a passing knowledge of WW2 are aware of the Yalta talks and even Potsdam, where the finishing touches to the post war world were negotiated, but for whatever reason the foundation conference where Roosevelt and Stalin went head to head and nutted out the basic quid pro quo (incidentally causing great consternation for Churchill who imagined he was going to set the agenda, but who was largely ignored in Tehran) is now forgotten.

Sorry about the digression but it is necessary in order to convey exactly how important Iran was/is to the amerikan empire. Yet somehow despite the best efforts of many very experienced imperialists Iran escaped the clutches of amerika's greed.

Over the years two theories as to how this came about have been mooted. The first and least supported is that the Iranian left was simply too strong. Years of savak infiltration and oppression had caused the Iranian left to evolve into an incredible machine that could mobilize at the grass roots even while it's structure was inviolate to Savak's attempts to destroy the left and it's leaders. The real problem with that theory is that if the left was that well organised, how was it that the islamic fundies rolled it up like an old carpet once they took power?

The second theory much favoured by both Carter's supporters and opponents was that Jimmy Carter refused to allow the CIA to play rough, that both Nicaragua and Iran were 'lost' because Jimmy had scruples.

Sorry but this doco featured interviews with CIA heavy hitters and the shah's wife Farah Pahlavi who both talked about how Jimmy Carter had suggested that Khomeini be assassinated. This takes us to the crux of the matter. I was the shah who vetoed the suggestion of rubbing Ayatollah Khomeini out because, he said, that would make the man a martyr.

Looking back on it, Ayatollah Khomeini's movement had plenty of supporters yet it was very much a one man band. When Ayatollah Khomeini finally went to Iran he had to go to his family to find trusted staff. Well that's what was claimed, of course it didn't hurt from a greed perspective, to keep it all in the family, but there is no doubt that before Khomeini was established in Iran and had created an Iranian power structure, that the movement was completely dependant on Khomeini.

Remember Khomeini had been in exile for 14 years most of then in Iraq - Najaf. Saddam had also offered to 'rub him out' but pahlavi had vetoed that also. There was no redundancy, that is if Ayatollah Khomeini died the organisation would likely have collapsed, at least in the short term.

So why did Mohammad Pahlavi (the shah) veto a hit on Khomeini? I believe this was a deliberate act by a man who knew he was dying. One of the other factoids to surface in the documentary was that Pahlavi knew he had a fatal cancer (pancreatic) for at least 3 years before he died in 1980. His physicians told him of the diagnosis in late 1977, and he swore them to secrecy, although one doctor did tell his wife at about the same time.

A sick man with a great deal of blood on his hands made a decision to try and rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his god. Pahlavi wasn't a straussian, he believed the 'noble lie' of there being one god and his name is allah, probably just as much as any of Khomeini's followers.

This also explains why/how it is that carter's next ploy for ensuring the empire retained Iran also failed.
When it became apparent that things were going real bad real fast in Iran, Carter dispatched an amerikan army general - robert huyser, who had trained many of the iranian military senior leaders, to crank the boys up - to get a coup up and running.

That hit a brick wall. Despite all the lectures iranian generals, admirals, and wing commanders had on being a big oligarch in a small vassal state 101 at the school of the amerikas, lectures which had specifically drummed into these guys that there should always be an accurate and up to date coup plan drafted and sitting in the bottom drawer -'just in case', no one had ever even done a basic 'scoping' report to identify the parameters of a potential coup. Why?

Because the shah had ordered them not to. Obvious when you think about it. Any such plan would likely have set idle minds whirring, and it would have only been a matter of time before some ambitious general moved against the shah in exactly the same way that pahlavi's father moved against, and threw out the shah which he had been employed to protect.

But general huyser really screwed the pooch in another way. He had gone around tehran meeting with generals and talking coups without touching base with the shah first. With typical amerikan imperial hubris, general huyser and ambassador sullivan had already considered pahlavi to be 'yesterdays man'. They didn't consult with him about the coup and the doco features an old interview with pahlavi where he claims that when huyser finally did come to see him he, (huyser) only asked the shah when exactly he planned on leaving Iran. That's all and it went down like a lead balloon, huyser decribes copping the sort of angry penetrating glare that only a king of kings can dish out. Even now long after it matters huyser can't grasp that his patronising attitude towards the shah cost amerika the nation of Iran and all those bbl's of oil.

That stupidity gave pahlavi all the excuse he needed to order his senior military not to co-operate with the amerikans, that planning a coup was still verboten, even though pahlavi planned on an extended stay overseas for 'rest and relaxation'.

After watching this doco and reading enough to be sure of it's veracity, I am nowalmost certain that the iranian revolution was successful primarily because the shah made sure it would succeed.

Motives are tough to guess but I reckon pahlavi got an attack of the guilts.
Remember pahlavi knew exactly what an evil construct his monarchy was and once he discovered he was dying he did exactly what so many other greedy and cruel pricks have done on their deathbeds. He tried to buy forgiveness by setting the scene for a victory by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

So what? that is all history now, what has that do do with what Iran next becomes? No one has suggested that Iran should go back to being a monarchy, so who cares how it was pahlavis lost their gig?

I think this matters very much. If amerika gets the chance to grab Iran back and is successful, they will make damned sure that there can be no repetition of the events of 77 and 78.

Parviz; the real problem is, if amerika gets it's paws on Iran again it won't let go until either Iran has been bled dry, or the amerikan empire is no more. There won't be another opportunity for Iran if it does get swallowed by the empire and this is precisely why all Iranians need to know exactly what is at stake.

Parviz I'm afraid that some of your claims are overly emotive and just don't stack up. I have no doubt that life under the mullahs is nasty and oppressive but I also believe that there are plenty of other countries, nations which are part of the neo-liberal dream that have prostitution and drug addiction rates much higher than Iran's.

I know that this subject has been flogged like a dead horse around various conservative web sites. That Ahmadinejad has caused Iran's prostitution and drug addiction to outstrip 'everywhere else' but after scouring the net for hard data to support that contention I have to say those claims appear to be little more than emotive attempts to crank up Iranians.

Illegal prostitution or drug addiction cannot exist at a high level of participation, hidden away from society. Big business in those areas is always reflected in a gaudy and violent, crime-ridden culture; eg Patpong in Bangkok. Are there many districts like Patpong in Tehran?

Poverty and moral decay have become major social issues reflecting of the decay in morality amongst the elite in Iran, but it is important to get a realistic notion of these issues if a 'new broom' is going sweep them out.

In all the countries I have visited, poverty and crime have been highest in those nations where globalist policies are the most evident.

I repeat my original contention that I find it unutterably sad that the only alternative to the mullahs oligarchy in Iran is an amerikan trained technocrat with a neo-liberal agenda. However bad things are now, letting the laissez faire economists in during a period of global economic decline, guarantees things are going to become much worse in both the medium and long term.
No ifs, buts or maybes. Worst of all is that letting these pricks in is a one way ride. Iran got very lucky when the shah's guilt and greed exceeded his loyalty to his fellow oligarchs. Considering that this has happened rarely if ever before, the chances of it happening again must be zilch.

Under those circumstances an objective assessment should conclude that the mullahs, the devils you know, have to be a better bet than where the devils are not known.

I recognise that for iranians having to live under these assholes, anything seems better, but objectively the best alternative is to develop a third way independent of amerika's empire.

Doing so would mean that the sanctions would continue, but looking at this from a different perspective for a moment, surely the fact that amerika is only prepared to lift the sanctions if iran conceeds all it's independence is proof of amerika's bad intent.

Surely the horror that is Palestine or Iraq are adequate demonstration of what happens in one of the empire's democracies should the elections not present amerika's puppet with the brass ring. When hamas won in Palestine amerika set about destroying that entire society. In Iran the people voted for Mr Allawi but amerika felt he wasn't doing as he was told so they stripped him of the mandate the election granted him and gave it to a more reliable puppet.

Unless iran boxes itself into a system where any transgression is immdeiately punishable with human death and misery, the amerikans will refuse to lift their siege of iran. Why would they? If iran does box itself in sufficiently amerika will create an excuse to change the rules in such a way that iran cannot possibly assert itself ever again.

Look at the NPT Iran has been careful to adhere to it's conditions, religiously, yet amerika and the ampire's puppets have found iran guilty of breaching the agreement despite there being no proof to support that contention and yet iran has been made to suffer. Why? In the hope that most iranians will arrive at the same conclusion as you have Parviz. That anything is better than another year of this siege, even complete acquiesence to amerika.

I have no dog in this fight Parviz it makes no difference to me what Iran decides to do, but I hope they don't elect Khatami or anyone else who puts raprochement with amerika as their platform, because if such a person is elected and does manage to get the oligarchy to support rapprochement life will become much worse for most Iranians. If Seyed Mohammad Khatami or any other prez doesn't persuade the oligarchs, rapprochement won't happen.

Of course it must be Iranians who make this decision but equally they can only do that if they have all the facts, which I doubt is currently the case.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 17 2009 5:36 utc | 18

It is a people's choice to make what social/economic/political system they want. If they make the wrong choice - as long as it does not lead to war - it is their problem.

I currently live in the U.S. and my only "choice" was between two presidents and two political parties that do not represent my views or the choices I would like the U.S. to make in the world. Either choice for me is a wrong choice. And you are wrong, in that it's not just my problem, but, most unfortunately, everyone's.

Posted by: Obsydia | Feb 17 2009 6:12 utc | 19

Well, I had reached the end of my tether yesterday but woke up this morning delighted to see my rant transformed into a separate thread. My delight quickly turned sour on reading most of the responses:

#1. Slothrop, with your response (that had anti-German undertones) you totally missed the point. This thread has absolutely nothing to do with 'intervention'. It's about the choice developing nations must make between remaining economic backwaters and/or risking civil war, on the one hand, and exploiting their natural and human resources at the risk of increased foreign 'Capitalist' influence, on the other.

#2, I'm sorry, r'giap, but Communism isn't the answer either. The Soviet Union belonged to the Nomenclatura which had its own foreign exchange shops for luxury goods while 'the people' queued for hours to buy food staples.

#3, Obamageddon, please stop comparing Iran with Cuba. Try Malaysia, for example, that is doing rather well from the Faustian Bargain. Mahathir told the U.S., the IMF and everyone else to go screw themselves while developing his nation at rocket speed, with consistent 7 % growth for 2 decades.

#4, irrelevant.

#5, jony_b_cool, totally agree with you.

#6, irrelevant.

#7, r'giap, aaaah, finally something to debate: In describing the evils of Wall Street (with which I fully agree) you write: "sometime, i am not sure what is the model for posters like parviz. if the west is known for anything at all - it is the constant & increasing inequalities of opportunity"

Firstly, who in Heaven's name ever suggested "copying the West"??? If you think that's what my rant was about you didn't read either the original or the repeat properly.

And, regarding 'inequality', exactly what is the Islamic Republic, that you champion, known for? Here is the answer:

1. A nation that now belongs to a select theocracy;
2. $ 300 billion of capital flight;
3. Apartment prices in Iran that vary between $ 200/M2 and $ 10,000/M2. Yes, people here actually did pay $ 5 million for a 500 sq.m. penthouse, and in CASH, less than a year ago before the global crash. The nation is rife with beggars while those with connections drive $ 500,000 Mercedes (= including the 150 % import duty).

The above examples occurred largely as a result of U.S. hostility that placed Iran on a war footing, enabled the Mullahs to return the economy to the ownership of the Revolutionary Guards and prevented protest of any kind. By 'opening up' the economy through peace with the U.S. many of these ills will be eliminated or reduced as they were during Khatemi's presidency when 'the people' were generally far better off.

r'giap, you sometimes sound like Hemingway fighting the Fascists in Spain. He lost, but Spain prospered.

#8 and #9, again Cuba which is totally irrelevant to Iran's situation today.

# 10 and # 11, again 'intervention' which I never advocated.

#12, great post but off-topic.

# 13, Arnold Evans, thanks for a great post. You not only correctly differentiate between Iran's economic and political weakness in 1951 and today, but also go on to accurately describe the quandary we Iranians face in trying to change the regime without becoming another Middle Eastern client state. The only thing you didn't so was to come down firmly on one side or the other: Should Iran today make peace with the U.S., welcome FDI and open up its economy, or not? What would you do if you had the power, without knowing the end result, just based on what you know about Iran today?

#14, another Communist rant?

#16, Lysander, VERY on topic and a very fair assessment of my nation's choices. But I think you underestimate Iran compared with the other nations you mention. 95 % of Iranians are in favour of nuclear energy. It is unstoppable. Almost 100 % of Iranians (on blogs and in Iran) were proud of the satellite launch, IN SPITE OF their hatred of Ahmadinejad, which is highly significant. Iranians are the world's 3rd largest bloggers, according to a recent CNN report, which means that they are infinitely more politically aware than their Saudi and Egyptian counterparts. Iran kicked the U.S. out in 1979. When have either Egypt, S. Arabia or any other Persian Gulf nation kicked the U.S. out of anywhere?

#18, Debs, superb background. I saw the BBC docos too. But I want to answer your key question:

Why did Iran pull it off? And how? Iran wasn't just another colony/client, it was the most valuable colony/client of the lot.

The answer lies in Iran's history of foreign domination and its seething national resentment at the CIA 153 overthrow of the first 'people's government' in Persian history. You assume that the alternative to Mullah domination is a U.S. puppet. Well, this flies in the face of Iran's history and ignores the 3rd choice which Iranians already made in 1951, = a secular, democratic, modernizing force à la Mossadegh. I'm amazed that you, of all people, should so easily discount even the possibility that Iran will one day emerge strong and independent.

#Obsydia, Iran isn't the U.S.. It isn't Cuba. We are one of the richest nations in the world, with a highly educated population. We have either repelled or assimilated foreign invaders throughout our history (relatively far stronger invaders than the U.S. is today) and turned them into 'Persians'. There is no way the declining U.S. Empire is going to win the biggest prize of all, in view of our people's political awareness that constitutes a safety valve whenever people like the Shah get uppity and forget their roots. I'm ready for change, for peace, for FDI and for all those big, bad Western firms that want to help us develop our resources and spread the wealth as we had begun to do from 1997 - 2005.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 7:50 utc | 20

Thanx Parviz,

It's not that I underestimate Iran, but rather that you **OVER**estimate the willingness of the U.S. for fair play. Their issue with Iran is not that it has an Islamic government, but that the government does not "know its place." A democratic government that went its own way would be just as hated. Venezuela is (relatively) democratic and last I heard is not run by Mullahs. And get the idea.

I'm glad to hear that Iran will continue its nuclear program. If the U.S. accepts that as part of the reconciliation, then U.S. policy has indeed undergone a serious change. If Iran can get such a deal, by all means grab it with both hands.

But I'm not holding my breath. The U.S. has made a big deal about the nuclear program. To accept Iranian terms would be to "lose credibility." Other countries might start thinking they can defy the empire too.

The long and short of it is, the U.S. is never going to lift the sanctions any more than it was ever going to lift the sanctions on Iraq. I'm sorry to say that. But it is true.

Still, I think Iran should try for better relations just to make that fact clear.

Posted by: Lysander | Feb 17 2009 8:30 utc | 21

Essentially, the choice is between

a) a totalitarian religious state, with a non-elected leader, a non-elected Council of Experts, a non-elected Council of Guardians, a non-elected State Expediency Council, that prevents free elections, decides everything for the people and remains economically weak and under-developed (= the price of keeping the West out), and

b) a strong economy, greater economic opportunity and equality for the people, greater individual and social freedoms, more focus on human rights and a reversal of the Brain Drain, but with the danger that the nation might one day become a bourgeois U.S. client state.

Come on, barflies, a show of hands please, for a) or b). But before voting please also ask yourselves whether a wealthy and highly educated nation like Iran, whose resources are desperately needed by clients as desperate and diverse as China, Pakistan, India and Europe, would be 'pushed around' or would be "doing the pushing". I don't see any danger of re-colonization as the nation was never colonized to begin with and threw out the U.S. puppet-Shah after only a relatively short period under the U.S. imperialistic yoke.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 8:46 utc | 22

Good point, Lysander. A lot hangs on the nuclear issue. If the U.S. concedes this point Iran has clearly won and, as you write, "Other countries might start thinking they can defy the empire too.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 8:49 utc | 23

Sorry to all for all my consecutive responses, but time difference .......

Debs, one of your comments stuck in my gut because it was both patronizing and presumptuous (you may recall my own possibly rude comment on your elitism, so we're quits). You write:

"Look at the NPT Iran has been careful to adhere to it's conditions, religiously, yet amerika and the empire's puppets have found iran guilty of breaching the agreement despite there being no proof to support that contention and yet iran has been made to suffer. Why? In the hope that most iranians will arrive at the same conclusion as you have Parviz. That anything is better than another year of this siege, even complete acquiesence to amerika."

Let's turn your quote on its head. How about this:

"Look at the NPT Iran has been careful to adhere to it's conditions, religiously, yet amerika and the empire's puppets have found iran guilty of breaching the agreement despite there being no proof to support that contention and yet iran has been made to suffer. Why? In the hope that Iranians would continue fighting this unfairness and absolutely refuse to make peace with Amerika under any circumstances, until Iran becomes so isolated and so weak that it can no longer afford to oppose U.S. hegemony, as occurred in the Soviet Union. Amerika hopes that all those communists and anti-imperialists preaching from their ivory towers will continue cheerleading Iranians, from a safe distance, into rejecting any compromise and thereby digging their own graves, all in the good name of rejecting acquiescence to Amerika"."

I have a real problem with some of you encouraging Iran to pursue suicidal economic policies so that you can sit smugly at home praising my nation's 'independence' while its people suffer daily from a religious dictatorship that strictly controls every aspect of daily life including what people wear, what TV programmes they are permitted to watch, which candidates are permitted to run in elections (that anyway don't transfer 'real' political power away from the self-appointed bodies) and, finally, heaps riches on a very select few that have sold their souls to the Devil while the vast majority of the country remains poor so that 'amerika' can be kept at arm's length.

Debs and others, if you want to do something positive go and scream bloody murder at 'amerika' till 'amerika' changes. But for Christ's (or Muhammad's) sake stop taking your complexes out on Iran and expecting us to change 'amerika' for you.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 9:50 utc | 24

Debs and others, if you want to do something positive go and scream bloody murder at 'amerika' till 'amerika' changes. But for Christ's (or Muhammad's) sake stop taking your complexes out on Iran and expecting us to change 'amerika' for you.

See that is where you miss the point Parviz. Understandably you imagine we think about Iran as much as you do, we don't, but I do like people everywhere, and it saddens me to see a country of smart independent people walking over a cliff like lemmings, following the same path that so many others have.

However bad life was under the shah and friends of mine who migrated here that told me it was pretty bad,much worse than now, it is going to be unutterably worse when Iranians next live under a regime that is acceptable to amerika and the west.

I understand if you don't get it, I understand if you don't class yourself in with ordinary working people and are eager to bite the cherry of middle class consumerism just like the glossy magazines and TV shows present it, but what you seem determined to ignore is the plain truth which is that whenever countries fall into line with the empire's plans, unemployment and social dysfunction increase while the gap between rich and poor grows at an alarming rate.
If you see yourself in the small group of haves, fine Parviz, but I am interested in the vast majority of Iranians who will lose out economically, socially and philosophically from Iran aligning with western consumerism.

amerika simply will not accept a strong independent Iran as long as it's ass points to the ground. I'm sorry but that is the reality of it.
This is one issue that every politician in amerika seems to agree upon.
The only oil rich ME states that are acceptable to amerika, or europe for that matter are weak dictatorial puppet regimes as Iran was once, and will be again if Iranians regard 'joining the club' as more important than their independence.
Take a look around the world and see if you can find any non whitefella run resource rich client of the west which has a stable democratic government. Oh dear there there isn't. There never will be be as long as the empire rules either.

Why? Because such nations are regarded as too dangerous. As I said in my first post Iran isn't big enough population wise to do a China, whatever role you may see for Iran in the new world order, that isn't the same as the role the empire sees.

This has nothing to do with what I think and everything to do with what happens out there in the real world. Take a look Parviz. Iranians aren't arabs and don't fancy that model? Oh well not to worry, here's one that should fit. It has a large muslim population (several hundred million) lots of oil, gas and mineral resources and the third biggest army in the world. That model should fit eh.

Indonesia is the sort of model amerika is most 'comfortable' with when it comes to resource rich islamic states whose population favour democracy. Pretend democracy with the real decisions still in the hands of the oligarchs and their families. Anything else is just too unpredictable and and worst of all it costs too much.

Iran had a lucky break once when pahlavi got a dose of terminal cancer along with a dose of the guilts, but the chances of that happening again are as slim as a book of politicians favours.

Whether or not Iran signs up for the full haircut or just bides it's time waiting for the inevitable change to the world order, makes no difference to anyone but Iranians, it certainly won't make much effect on the rate the empire implodes.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 17 2009 11:29 utc | 25

I believe the comments from r'giap. Debs, Lysander ... are intended to warn of the very real & grave danger in making a peace with the USA that allows the USA to begin building influence (socio, economic & political) within Iran again. And I think Russia is an appropriate example. Its taken the Russians a few years to determine that their "new" post-Gorbachev/Yeltsin relationship with the USA is not going well & they have made adjustments. Which means the USA effort to pacify Russia is looking more & more like a failure. The USA/Israel cannot even pacify Lebanon. Of course all of this could change in a flash any day though the trends are not in favor of the USA. People are a lot more aware & it takes a lot more to stop a nationalist effort today than it did 50 years ago.

the real balance of power is not in the arms, technologies or resources, its in the knowledge & awareness of people & their aspirations. But, Iran should never forget that -- "good fences make good neighbors".

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 17 2009 11:39 utc | 26

Is Iran capable of participating as an independent & unrestricted player (and democracy if Iran so chooses) in the global economy, that puts the needs of its population over that of the USA & other foreign interests. And I think everyone here agrees it is. But is there a reasonable path to that goal from todays status-quo Mullah leadership. More importantly, is there any such reasonable path that does not put Iran at risk of playing into the hands of its detractors ?

I believe there is such a path but it would need to have a strong nationalist foundation.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 17 2009 13:16 utc | 27

Debs, all I can say to your

"However bad life was under the shah and friends of mine who migrated here that told me it was pretty bad,much worse than now"

is that you keep strange company.

I don't know anyone who believes life under the Shah for ordinary working people was worse than it is today with unemployment at 25 %. Maybe your friends are related to the Mullahs who are stealing the country blind. Your sources certainly aren't neutral economists.

In 1978 average per capita income was $6000/year. It's now $3,000. This means that the 'progress' of the Mullahs over a 30 year period has been to HALVE the national per capita income, with even more glaringly unequal wealth distribution than under the Shah.

Sure, we're standing up to America. This seems to be all you care about. I find it frankly sickening.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 13:24 utc | 28


my post in this thread are not directed at you & i pointed this out - b had made this into a larger question of choice, of self determination & i think the real possibility of changes in a time like this

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 15:05 utc | 29

jony_b_cool (27), if there's one thing Iranians are, it's nationalistic. They proved it in 1951 by kicking the Shah out and electing a popular, secular government, and proved it again by kicking the Shah and the Americans out in 1978.

If Iranians feel their country is being sold out they'll do the same thing they did on the previous 2 occasions. And, remember, the sound of "Allah Akbar" is never very far away.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 15:09 utc | 30

Debs, I wish you'd stop creating a theory and then trying to find a country to fit it. Here you go again:

Take a look around the world and see if you can find any non whitefella run resource rich client of the west which has a stable democratic government. Oh dear there there isn't. There never will be be as long as the empire rules either.


Take a look Parviz. Iranians aren't arabs and don't fancy that model? Oh well not to worry, here's one that should fit. It has a large muslim population (several hundred million) lots of oil, gas and mineral resources and the third biggest army in the world. That model should fit eh.

I wonder why you didn't mention Malaysia? Probably because it didn't fit your argument.

I know you're absolutely terrified of 'imperialistic amerika' but, frankly, I find your defeatism tiresome. Iran has more natural resources, talent, education, culture, history, scientific achievement and nationalism than the rest of the Persian Gulf Arabs (and Malaysia) combined, so please stop patronizing me with that nonsense about "not fancying the Arab model" and Iran's inevitably being forced to stick its ass in the air (your rather crude warning). Right now it's America that has its ass in the air and is gasping for breath, decimated by its own imperialistic policies.

And cut out the personal insults like :

"I understand if you don't class yourself in with ordinary working people and are eager to bite the cherry of middle class consumerism just like the glossy magazines and TV shows present it"


"If you see yourself in the small group of haves, fine Parviz, but I am interested in the vast majority of Iranians who will lose out economically, socially and philosophically from Iran aligning with western consumerism."

You don't know me from Adam. Your suggestions that I'm a hypocrite hoping to enrich myself by handing my nation to the Americans is unbecoming of someone like yourself, who evidently is well respected on this Blog as an intellectual, but who feels obliged to discredit me because I see things differently. I could just as easily reply:

"Debs, you're probably a failed pseudo-intellectual who never achieved a Senior Fellowship at a half-decent American university and fled to NZ to wallow in self-pity and condemn the Empire for having failed to understand you. You have decided to devote your life to nihilism and anarchy in a selfish desire for revenge."

See? Doesn't feel so nice to have one's motives questioned, does it?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 15:34 utc | 31

r'giap (29), you actually wrote

"sometime, i am not sure what is the model for posters like parviz. if the west is known for anything at all - it is the constant & increasing inequalities of opportunity"

Sorry, I thought you were referring to me. My mistake.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 15:39 utc | 32

Parviz, my comment about Cuba was not a comparison to Iran. It was a response to the more general theme of the thread about a People's choice and r'giap's comments about Fidel and Cuba.

Posted by: | Feb 17 2009 16:26 utc | 33

#33 was me. Did you watch the Documentary, Parviz? I know Iran's not Cuba, God forbid (Snark), but that doesn't preclude the Iranians from learning what the Cuban people learned as part of their trials and tribulations, and I'm not talking elective plastic surgery which seems to be the rage in North Tehran these days. Afterall, we're all people, aren't we?

Posted by: Obamageddon | Feb 17 2009 16:31 utc | 34


Thanks for your expression of appreciation of my previous comment.

I really think you underestimate the role of Israel's security on US policy and thereby misunderstand the US' possibilities for relations with Iran. At least for now - there is a possibility that the US' perception can change and Iran could play a role in that change.

My first observation though, just to get it out of the way, is that it seems to me that there is a one-way flow of economic hostility. Iran does not ban US investment. The US bans US investment. Iran does not ban US trade. The US bans US trade. I don't think this is for economic reasons, but part of the US' role as protector of Israel.

A rule of thumb for understanding US Middle East policy is that countries that do or could potentially threaten Israel must be poor.

Malaysia is relatively rich. The US would not tolerate Malaysia located where Egypt is, because Malaysia located on Israel's border would be a severe threat to Israel's viability.

Turkey is relatively rich. Turkey has historically separated its foreign policy from any democratic influence. Erdogan in Turkey is a political genius who may, just may, be able to return Turkey to democratic rule even in foreign policy, which would be a major defeat for the US, but the US will do everything it can to prevent this. Fortunately for Turkey, the US' options are limited because of the importance of containing Russia and Turkey's necessity in assisting this. Turkey has a huge amount of leverage that may, just may allow it to be a democratic country with sovereignly determined foreign policy near Israel that is not undergoing US attempts to stifle its economy.

I'm very happy to see Khatami open Iran's economy and make reforms. I'm very happy to see democratic reforms, as long as they don't allow the West to sponsor a puppet opposition such as we see now in Zimbabwe.

The West though, is going to be hostile to Iranian economic growth. Period. Egypt is firmly, for now, under US control. But industrialization and technology are limited by the US because sometime in the future Egypt could potentially be independent and would be a threat to Israel.

So my short answer is that Iran is not going to get sanctions lifted without firmly putting Iranian foreign policy under US control, and even then, the fact that this control can be thrown off means that Iran's technological progress will be limited to the degree the US is in any way able to limit it.

To meander on this topic. The mainstream hope/conception of the Israel Palestinian issue is that the people of the Middle East will eventually accept Israel and then the limits placed on their economies can be relaxed. Until this happens, the United States has, in its own view, a moral obligation to ensure that no neighboring state could in theory threaten Israel, which among many other things, means the US must prevent these states from having access to technology or an industrial base, to the degree that it can.

In this conception, the Palestinians will vote to accept the bantustans they are offered, and will be happy with them. Then the rest of the region will follow in accepting that the situation has been resolved satisfactorily then Israel's neighbors will be allowed to develop. At this point Iran will also be allowed to develop and Turkey's military can stop threatening a coup against any non-Western civilian government.

To get the Palestinians to vote for their bantustans, the US sees it as perfectly moral to threaten to starve them if they vote otherwise, and immoral to not starve them if starvation can secure a Jewish state. On the other hand most western policy makers just haven't thought their conception of Middle East policy through.

Iran is the victim of this more than any Iranian investment laws. Removing corruption in Iran is good in itself, but it will not lead to good economic relations between the US and Iran.

The US though is slowly becoming less beholden to the dream of Zionism. Jews are a small proportion of the US population, but a large proportion of Americans who care enough about the region to have any information about it.

For a long time, the US perception of the Middle East has been largely colored by the views of the people in the US who speak English well and also care about the region, which is Zionists.

Today, non-Zionists have leveling the information imbalance and over time, Israel's security as a Jewish state "may" (I think "will" but can't guarantee it), stop being the US' preeminent concern in the region, at which point the US will relax its restrictions on trade with Iran that are very expensive for the US. The US' Israel-oriented policies on Iran alone probably cost the US several times more than its direct payments to Israel's treasury.

In specific terms, Jews dream of there being a Jewish state. Non-Jewish American supporters of Israel, as far as I can see don't believe in ethnic states, but do not see a practical alternative to protecting Israel as a Jewish state in order to avoid another Holocaust. Non-Jewish Americans have not been, but could be, convinced that it is possible to avoid killing all Jews in ending the Zionist enterprise. Jewish Westerners generally support Israel for emotional reasons and shape their fears accordingly but non-Jewish Westerners do not feel the same attachment and vastly outvote Jewish Westerners.

A rich Iran would be a threat to Israel, unless it is occupied or under a stable pro-US dictatorship. If Iranians can convince Americans that a rich Iran would not be a threat to Jews in Israel. If Iranians present non-Jewish Americans with a way to satisfy the need for justice for the Palestinians without massacres or expulsions of Jewish individuals, the US may in the next generation be able to accept that. Jewish Americans will not, but will be outvoted.

So to repeat the short answer though, there is no policy Iran's leaders can follow that will cause the US to stop trying to stifle Iran's growth.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Feb 17 2009 16:58 utc | 35

Obamageddon, no, not this one, but I've seen several documentaries about Cuba in the past.

Yes, 'nose jobs' are all the rage in Tehran. Yes, household names like LV and Chanel are on sale everywhere and, yes, there is massive income disparity among the population. There is also massive prostitution and drugs usage, both of which are curiously mentioned in the local rags.

But has it ever occurred to you that many people resort to drugs, decadence and superficiality out of a sense of alienation, or sometimes because of a lack of self-esteem? Do you think that shoving religion down the people's throat, day-in and day-out, isn't a major cause of youth rebellion against genuine spitituality?

Has it ever occurred to you that what is banned often becomes even more desirable? Why not let the people choose how they spend or waste their money? I abhor the Big Brother concept that some on this Blog are advocating to prevent Iran from 'destroying itself'. It is ALREADY destroying itself under the weight of Islamic Fundamentalism and U.S. hostility. It's time (as Obama might say) for a change.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 17:09 utc | 36

parviz@ 32

my comments, in the first instance are directed to b's question - thento the community. i used you as an example - as a general & not particular one - in that you ephemerally mention models that don't exist - or if they do they are deeply flawed or corrupted. (on the corruption point of the iranian state - you gave not been fullsome - i'd like a great deal more detail than a few epiphets)

i am a communist but unfortunately that day has not yet come - just errors on top of visions & a constant need to be combatative

what is possible as a model exists only in latin america - the south east asian tigers have been marked by tyranny & corruption including malaysia

this year - israel will attack or try to atack iran - even the most hesitant commentators in israel acknowledge that - gideon levy has been very precise on this - demanding that this not happen - but it will. if it does so - then the question of development is moot because if u s imperialism allows that to happen - even if it does not actively support it - it will be a sign that development, any development in iran will be met by opposition

implicit, also - is that obama will brign good tidings at this stage of world history - & while i cannot go as far as some - i think that is most unlikely to be the case - the economic crisis will deepn much further than imagined, the wars the u s empire direct in iraq afghanistan & pakistan are going to take us to hell & back & i am certain that israel will attack irans atomic energy sites - i am certain of that because that demand is coming from both their 'intelligence' & 'defence' community & not the bellicose bores who will say anything & call themselves leaders

i genuinely fear for iran's immediate future

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 17:40 utc | 37

as i once did of nicaragua

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 17:41 utc | 38

Arnold, I was so impressed by what you wrote that I clicked on your name and read your displayed comments. I recommend that other Barflies do the same (if you're slower than I and haven't already!).

I realize a "Grand Bargain" is difficult to achieve but, as you correctly intimate, half measures won't work either, so I believe we should all be concentrating on the feasibility of a Grand Bargain as outlined for years by Brzezinski and others.

Your lengthy post above sees Israel's security as America's 'Red Line'. Iran sees American non-interference in Iran's affairs (including continuation of uranium enrichment) as Iran's own red line.

Now, numerous Iranian presidential candidates, including Khatemi, Karroubi, Rafsanjani and Qalibaf, have stated repeatedly that "Iran will accept whatever the Palestinians decide for themselves, including a 2-state solution and recognition of Israel". So regional peace is not so much about Iran and the U.S. as about Palestine and Israel, because everything follows on from there.

If the U.S. can knock some sense into Israel and force it to retreat to pre-1967 borders, and if the world (IAEA or whatever) can find some way, acceptable to America, to ensure that Iran continues enriching for peaceful purposes only, then the 2 'Red Line' problems are solved, 2 major sources of global tension are removed and the negotiators can address the other important issues such as Iraq, Al Qaeda, mutual security guarantees, lifting of sanctions, establishment of a U.S. Embassy (after all, the British Embassy still operates despite enormous suspicion), etc.,.

The alternative, endless hostility, is a lose-lose situation and, no matter how strong the Israel-Lobby is, there are actually some U.S. policy-makers who are strongly in favour of a Grand Bargain, which would actually be to Israel's long-term benefit, even if Israel is too stupid to recognize it (or cynically plays domestic politics with the Iran issue). By stubbornly insisting that it (or the U.S.) blow Iran's nuclear power plants to smithereens, and generally encouraging a path of confrontation, Israel is only alienating itself further both inside and outside America: Zionist propaganda is becoming less effective with each passing day, especially as the U.S. has other equally pressing concerns (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Al Qaeda) that were placed on hold purely and simply to satisfy Israel's need to destroy the region, beginning with Iraq.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 17:42 utc | 39


I think Debs is warning you that the apple (or cherry) may look glossy and appetizing, but the fatal bite will reveal it as poison or rotten to the core. The mindset of the hegemon will be to use capital as a weapon against Iran, and to sow discord and division in Iranian society, to produce chaos; and not to develop resources and technology, but to bleed the client state, and exploit talent, as it has done elsewhere. Changing the rule of the Mullahs must be a domestic struggle, and I wish you well with that. Iranian democracy, when it comes, will be the genuine article, but don't expect the western imperials to facilitate that process.

The PNAC model of hubris, and rules of the road, demand that no region power (like Iran) be allowed to arise anywhere.

Believe me, Parviz, the fire is much hotter and unforgiving than the frying pan. The bastards have determined that your country will be stripped of autonomy, and the dreams of its civilization, influence, and regional power. A slave collar will be held firmly by the pimping hand US imperialism.

Posted by: Copeland | Feb 17 2009 17:45 utc | 40

r'giap, I have a feeling an attack on Iran's nuclear sites would suit your ideology down to a tee, by creating havoc throughout the region, weakening America further, making the global depression stronger, reducing nation-states to their lowest feudal common denominators and taking us all back to the stone age.

It's not gonna happen, because the U.S.A. has to give the green light, and because the Pentagon is 100 % against it, having simulated war games on their very expensive computers and decided the price would be (far) too high. One scenario showed the entire U.S. Persian Gulf Fleet being sunk within 15 minutes by the literally hundreds of well concealed surface-to-sea missiles that cover the entire 1000 km of Iranian coastline, the Straits of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. Hallo, $ 500 oil!

And then what? A nuclear bomb on Tehran?

Who'll offer me $ 1000/bbl?

I know American politicians are stupid, but THAT stupid?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 17:55 utc | 41

O.K., it IS The Telegraph, which I had promised not to cite in future, but the article makes sense: Israel will do everything it can EXCEPT to attack, which it couldn't do anyway without Washington's permission:

Israel launches covert war against Iran

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 17 2009 18:01 utc | 42


not for the first time - i think you read me very dishonestly. that is your ideological privilege. i have devoted my llife & my art to the workinbg people & the poor. that is my daily concern. to make a difference in the unbalanced terror that is waged against them every fucking day

to that end, i am interested in the global situation. to that end i am interested in developments in iran

read hareetz, my friend - that is what i do, the jerusalem post & a multitude of sites which are concerned with developments in the middle east & there is a fear quite often articulated of attacks on irans nuclear energy sites

you demean your arguments to imply - that i would welcome this or that war - that is so crude in its articulation - you should be ashamed of having uttered it

if you read closely, my friend what is coming out of israel - you will read that an attack on iran is becoming firm & i'd suggest that netanyahu is the man to make that happen - with the u s's complicity. it seems to me on close reading that as i sd that decision is coming from certain elites within the defence & intelligence community & they have a history of having their way even when the results for israel have been disastrous

i feel that you are understanding today's event completely out of context

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 18:06 utc | 43

& in the end, yes, i do think u s imperialism is that stupid. its most recent behaviour is absolute proof of that

i am interested though in how u s imperialism will deal with the developments in latin america - already the signs in colombia & mexico are not good but i wonder whether they will further try toi destabilise as they have been doing in bolivia

& i understood b's question to be as much about the people's choice there

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 18:12 utc | 44

how u s imperialism fashione choice elsewhere -

U.S. support of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge is thoroughly documented in an article in CAQ magazine (formerly Covert Action Quarterly) by Australian journalist John Pilger, "The Long Secret Alliance: Uncle Sam and Pol Pot."* Some quotations from that article:

"The US not only helped to create conditions that brought Cambodia's Khmer Rouge to power in 1975, but actively supported the genocidal force, politically and financially. By January 1980, the US was secretly funding Pol Pot's exiled forces on the Thai border. The extent of this support -- $85 million from 1980-86 -- was revealed 6 years later in correspondence between congressional lawyer Jonathan Winer, then counsel to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation."

"In 1981, Pres. Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, said, "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. The US", he added, "winked publicly" as China sent arms to the Khmer Rouge(KR) through Thailand."

"In 1980, under US pressure, the World Food Program handed over food worth $12 million to the Thai Army to pass on to the KR. According to former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke,'20,000 to 40,000 Pol Pot guerrillas benefited. This aid helped restore the KR to a fighting force, based in Thailand, from which it destabilized Cambodia for more than a decade.'"

"In 1982, the US and China, supported by Singapore, invented the Coalition of the Democratic Government of Kampuchea, which was, as Ben Kiernan pointed out, neither a coalition, nor democratic, nor a government, not in Kampuchea. Rather, it was what the CIA calls a 'master illusion.' ... Cambodia's former ruler, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was appointed its head; otherwise little changed. The KR dominated the two "non-communist" members, the Sihanoukists and the Khmer Peoples' National Liberation Front (KPNLF). From his office at the UN, Pol Pot's ambassador, the urbane Thereon Parish, continued to speak for Cambodia. A close associate of Pol Pot, he had in 1975 called on Khmer expatriates to return home, whereupon many of them disappeared."

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 18:24 utc | 45

It's long been evident that Israel and its allies in the US would like to destroy the possibility of secular, prosperous and nationalist Iraq, Syria, Iran.

To keep people ignorant, poor, priest ridden and at each others' throats is the preferred path to zionist safety in the ME. This, and a handful of degenerate potentates, colonialist remnants of British imperialism recycling US/EU petro dollars to spectacular poker palaces, sand castles and indoor skiing is good, too. This and this and this, plus a few billion tossed each year at Egypt's and Turkey's and Jordan's military/elite to keep the horses off the streets is helpful. Yes.

Parviz, I agree with you, re development, corruption and diminishing the influence of god bothererers. One hundred percent. What will be interesting in the politics of the near future is to what extent American foreign policy fails or succeeds in detaching itself from Israel. Begs several questions, of course, but I'm looking for it, even if with a magnifying glass.

Not overly optimistic, though. Re your second to the last paragraph @39...knocking sense into Israel I'm afraid is asking for too much at this juncture, much less forcing Israel to pre-1967. The screeching would make Whitewater/Lewinsky look like a walk in the park, on a Sunday, in May.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Feb 17 2009 19:21 utc | 46

good governance

Mr Berlusconi has been involved in 2,500 hearings, has had 587 visits by the police and spent 174m euros (£155m)) in legal fees during his political career.
In some cases the Italian prime minister was found guilty of several charges of illegal party financing, corruption, bribery and false accounting - but he always won on appeal, thereby avoiding jail.
However, in most cases he was either acquitted or time ran out under Italy's statute of limitations.
Here are some of the cases brought against him:
Lodo Mondadori case: Prosecutors claim that in the mid-1980s, Mr Berlusoconi paid huge bribes to a judge in Rome during a take-over battle, in an attempt to have a rival bid declared invalid. The case went to the appeal court, but the statute of limitations expired before the appeal was completed so Mr Berlusconi was acquitted.
Telecinco case: Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon accused Mr Berlusconi of tax fraud and breaching anti-trust laws in Spain through his stake in the private Spanish TV company, Telecinco. Mr Berlusconi and all of his co-accused were acquitted.
AC Milan case: Mr Berlusconi was accused of false accounting over alleged irregularities in the purchase of a player for AC Milan, the football club he owns. The statute of limitations expired and the case was closed with an acquittal on December 13, 2005.
Fininvest case: Mr Berlusconi was accused of false accounting with the prosecution alleging he had doctored the accounts of offshore companies that form part of his Fininvest holding company. The statute of limitations expired after Mr Berlusconi's government introduced new laws on false accounting. Mr Berlusconi was acquitted.
Medusa Cinema case: Mr Berlusconi was sentenced to 16 months in jail for false accounting of 10bn lire. He appealed and was acquitted on the charge after the court said the case could not be proven.
Bribing financial police case: Mr Berlusconi was found guilty on four counts and sentenced to two years and nine months in jail. However, the statute of limitations expired for three of the charges, and he was acquitted on the fourth on appeal.

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 19:23 utc | 47

michael hudson - the oligarchs escape - really, what choice - socialism or barbarism

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 19:39 utc | 48

& the more i meditate upon it - it stretches all credulity that western societies offer any real choice for an 'emerging' nation.

what does the west offer, massacre brought to you by the imperialists, complicity brought to you by europe - incompetence brought to you by the g 8

iraq held within it cradle the fondements of all civilisation. imperialism has killed anything between 1 or 2 million people, 4 million people have sought exile - external & internal, there is little water, little electricity, almost no health service , an education institutions that were once the pride of the middle east are almost completely dysfunctional -after six fucking years & that is what western civilisation can bring

what has been done to iraq can bever be forgotten or forgiven - nor can a new president mask the basic truth of the povery of mind of the empire

latin americans are learning from each other, understanding each other's experiments -- it is a jewel but a fragile one

what is western civilisation except the retreat into feudalism & oligarchy

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 17 2009 23:11 utc | 49

this is a magnificent discussion and though inspired by the particular & singular instance that is Iran, its turned out to be a mental boot-camp of much broader dimensions. I've learnt a lot and Thanks to everyone particularly Parviz.

It just struck me a few minutes ago that perhaps the biggest obstacle ro Iran being nuked (though I do'nt think its going to happen) is world-opinion. And thats not a very comforting thought especially for anyone who's Iranian.

Also I've gone back & re-read the posts,and what I'm getting is that the thrust of this debate hinges to a large extent on whether or not Iran is confronted with psychopathic adversaries and if so, what is Iran's take on the matter.

The risks are huge for Iran and yes we all know psychopaths can be & have been "methodically" defeated though its easier said than done. And though theres much less to fear today than there might have been 50 years ago, the least Iran should be doing today is -- protect & prepare.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 18 2009 3:38 utc | 50

Sorry for the lengthy post from a lurker but I thought I’d contribute to a topic which is near to me.

I believe the (small) side debate here on whether Iran was worse or better under the shah is one worth considering a little further, if for no other reason than it offers a glimpse of what life might be like if the mullahs lost power.

Firstly, under the shah there was no (or very little) political freedom. The shah constantly kept political parties under his thumb, which partly helped Khomeini once he took power – there was effectively no opposition. Minorities were attacked and re-populated in other parts of the country, and some religious persecution existed (mainly if they spoke out against the government). In addition, the shah was a puppet of the US who spied and tortured his own people.

I am sure that life isn’t the best in current circumstances, but there are many people whose lives are better than pre-revolution, especially outside of Tehran. During the war with Iraq the government undertook huge infrastructure programmes such as building highways to connect the other cities, something the shah was not short of cash to do. Many poor people also have better lives, though I realise that in recent years inflation etc has caused prices to skyrocket and things are much tougher than before – especially in real estate. Though I have heard that there are some signs that the real estate prices are about to crash – not sure of the truth in that. But as Parviz has stated, there are many people (north of Tehran for example) which have become rich simply from owning land which has dramatically increased in price – so in other words, not everyone has decreased wealth, and it’s not only the elite who have prospered.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is not all bad, it hasn't all gone downhill since the revolution. Sure some or maybe most has, but there are definitely some positives. Whether this would have happened under the shah or his son will never be known I guess.

Parviz, you state that the choice is between a totalitarian state and a strong economy with greater individual freedoms etc. I think you are talking about extremes. There is the chance that the current regime will loosen its hold as the highly educated youth of Iran begin to flex their muscles (I don’t mean in a physical way, more politically). There is also the chance that if the mullahs are removed things will go as bad as some here believe. I don’t think it is simply a choice of a or b.

Already between my visits to Iran I have seen improvements – public transport, while still very strained, has improved. Pollution (both of the air and by litter) is being addressed. There is some effort to attract more tourists – the brochure I received from the embassy recently is on a world-class scale, something which I have not seen in Iran before (regarding tourism). I believe the religious/morality police weren’t as numerous last time I visited compared to 2006, which contradicted everything I had read or heard, though this may be affected by season?

As for my beliefs, I might be too optimistic but I would like to see Iranians change Iran – this isn’t going to happen with a year, but has to occur step by step, and I think it is already occurring. And I don’t mean the Iranians sitting cozy in Los Angeles talking of revolution via satellite TV and Voice of America – though no doubt they have their role. I mean the Iranians living in Iran. It may take Khatami, or Mousavi (I don’t know much about him), or it might even take the death of Khamenei, but I think it is a better option than opening up everything to foreign/US.

Parviz, you say that Iran has survived invasions before (Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Mongols) and come out on top, and it is true – but I'd like to add that this happened eventually, after many decades or even centuries. How many people will have to suffer in the meantime from privatisation / Friedmanism / whatever that the US will undoubtedly demand before the Persian culture reestablishes itself?

Also, might be OT but you have also repeatedly stated that Iran might face a civil war – can I ask what “sides” do you think would be involved, since I have never heard any Iranian talk of violent actions against each other. Just interested on your views here.

Posted by: Ash | Feb 18 2009 6:08 utc | 51

Parviz: i really appreciate all the debate you've instigated and sustained. ten years ago i was 20 and dumb with little knowledge of the larger world, and totally uncaring of how my country negatively affected it.

i remember the day i learned about how the cia decapitated democracy in Iran in 1953. i share that story often with casual acquaintances and total strangers because i believe it was one of the most critical mistakes in the post WWII bid for western dominance spearheaded by the new face of empire.

b: a day doesn't go by that i don't appreciate this forum and all you do. thank you.

Posted by: Lizard | Feb 18 2009 6:27 utc | 52

jony_b_cool, I loved your # 50 which condensed all my hot air into a few succinct lines. The risks are exactly as you describe them, but I honestly think one should add that if war does break out it will be the Israeli and American psychopaths that caused it, not the Iranian psychopaths (who exist but are not quite as psychopathic).

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 18 2009 8:16 utc | 53

Ash: Thank you for a relatively fair assessment. I believe, however, that you, as a foreigner and infrequent visitor, may have missed the underlying currents that are not that obvious at first glance:

You're right, under the Shah there was zero political freedom. 'Daddy' (King of Kings, Light of the Aryans, bla-bla-bla) 'knew best'. Corruption was rife ($ 5 billion of U.S. weapons imports in 1974 alone earned $ 500 million for "Mr. Ten Percent" General Toufanian, etc.,.). The nation was run by the famous "1000 Families" (mine fortunately wasn't one of them).

However, Jews, Christians, Armenians and even Bahais prospered and there was zero religious persecution. (Bahais today are now executed on the spot).

Economic prosperity was broadspread. The problem was that the economy boomed so fast that the gap between rich-poor accelerated, creating resentment and enormous social mobility (The Shah scorned agriculture and championed production and manufacturing, causing a massive migration from the land to the cities and social disruption for which the country was ill prepared). When oil prices crashed in 1975 projects were placed on hold, the Shah cut back on everything including subsidies to the Mullahs (Biiiiiiiig Mistake), and a combination of the Shah's insufferable arrogance and Israel's fear of the world's 5th most powerful military did the rest, which is history.

Today, the Mullahs have established many positives: The nation is militarily and economically stronger even than pre-Revolution (in the all-important category of asymmetric warfare rather than pure hardware), agricultural areas have been developed, Iran has uniquely assisted Palestine and Lebanon against Israeli Fascist expansionism and is a bastion against U.S. imperialism. This is why the Mullahs have so many cheerleaders on this Blog.

However, below the surface, the "1000 Families" have been replaced by the "1000 Mullahs", kickbacks and overpricing on imports have risen from 15 % to 100 %, meaning that factories and equipment worth $ 100 million are 'imported' for $ 200 million and even higher, the nation is now virtually owned by the Revolutionary Guards who (mis)appropriate environmentally protected land and choice real estate at the point of a gun, there is a complete feeling of lawlessness and the Ministry of 'Justice' is a well-worn joke that people here believe should be called "The Ministry of Connections". Where we once had educated and even female judges, such as Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, we now have uneducated 'religious' judges who literally ‘buy’ their appointments and whose decisions depend solely on the size of the bribe (which gives them a good return on their original investments). In a dispute you can actually submit your an original land deed and find it has been rejected by the courts in favour of a clearly bogus 'substitute' deed, without any transaction record, created by the well supported and well protected land mafia. This didn't happen in the Shah's time. What was yours was yours and basic principles of bureaucracy and legality were observed.

The result has been that Mullahs and Rev Guards bribed their way into destroying the delicate infrastructure of the North of Tehran by buying permits to build 20-storey apartments in narrow (4 meter wide) streets whose value suddenly increased from a few hundred dollars per square metre to several thousand dollars per square metre overnight! The nation’s natural resources are at the complete and sole disposal of the people who run the country and there is zero accountability. The Budget and Planning Organization was scrapped with Ahmadinejad’s arrival to eliminate the sole remaining instrument of control, and today nobody knows what is earned, how much money is onshore/offshore,
in whose accounts the money is or how it’s being spent. Ahmadinejad heaps lavish funds on the Baseej (Militia) and other security organs to keep them quiet. Capital flight is estimated at over $ 300 billion since the Revolution, whereas during the Shah’s time there was actually an inflationary capital inflow and a reverse brain drain.

Why I so fiercely attack Ahmadinejad and hope for a more moderate, pragmatic President to be elected is in order to prevent any further economic and domestic political weakening of the nation that could undermine the hard-won independence that everyone here praises so highly. To answer your question, tensions are rife in 4 major provinces: Azarbaijan, with its Turkish-speaking majority; Khuzestan, the oil-rich and totally neglected Sunni Arab-speaking south; Kurdestan, that was used as a pawn even in the Shah’s time and whose independence movement now senses an opportunity as a result of events in Kurdish Iraq; and Baluchestan, where the CIA is encouraging the Al Qaeda-offshoot Jundullah to cause trouble and where riots have broken out from time to time.

Of course, my posts have generated some personal insults from posters calling me a ‘capitalist tool’, a Trojan Horse for the Empire, someone “eager to bite the cherry of middle class consumerism just like the glossy magazines and TV shows present it" and even worse, so let me tell everyone where I stand:

The Shah did some great things and some terrible things. The Mullahs did some great things and some terrible things. I despise them both, because neither one of them cared about the people, only about staying in power. The Shah developed the economy at lightening speed to massage his own ego, the Mullahs have multiplied the Shah’s ills and corruption, all in the name of religion. And even some of you people (Debs, r’giap and several others) want to exploit Iran to fight a lone battle against America, Israel and Capitalism. I think you’re completely nuts.

Anyway, thanks, Ash, for your sane post, and it’s been a pleasure communicating with you.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 18 2009 9:34 utc | 54

Parviz thanks for the comprehensive reply.

Although yes a foreigner and infrequent visitor to Iran, my wife is Iranian and I have many Iranian friends (not to mention family) from diverse backgrounds – Muslim, Bahai, and Mandaen; Persian, Turkish and Arab. So I have a fairly broad understanding of the situation (though I don’t profess to the same level as you of course).

I am not trying to defend the regime, but I don’t believe your statement that Bahai’s are executed on the spot is entirely accurate. I could not find this claim even on Bahai websites I visited. I definitely won’t disagree they are not persecuted! Also, under the shah the Bahai’s did not have formal constitutional rights either, but the persecution was to a far lesser extent than now. Currently the persecution takes an economic and educational form – preventing Bahai’s from attending university for example.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the regime and hope to see Iran in the future with more freedoms, both internally and on the international stage. I admire Iran standing up to America but I do not believe it is their duty, and would welcome rapprochement – but I hope not at the cost of what many here believe it would cost. I do have a personal stake in this, albeit mostly as an outsider, but I guess I feel safer with the status quo – better the devil you know.

When I have thought of this situation before I have wondered if it is similar the argument neo-cons drag out: sure, Iraq and Afghanistan might be worse now than what they were 10 years ago, but eventually they will be better than if America had no invaded. It may well turn out like that, but it is not even guaranteed, and the journey is very painful. I hope Iran does not have to go through something similar.

Anyway you’re last paragraph is pretty much how I feel, but I would expand this to nearly every government LOL.

Anyway thanks for the input everyone.

Posted by: Ash | Feb 18 2009 12:28 utc | 55

Ash, on the Bahais I beg to differ. They are classed by the Islamic Republic as Apostates and Heretics on which Shariah Law is very clear, = strictly demands the death penalty. Also, there are many references to their execution merely based on their faith:

"Four years later, ahead of new Presidential elections later this year, impunity, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the use of the death penalty remain prevalent."

Amnesty International

UN has issued more than 56 pronouncements condemning Iran's execution and imprisonment of Baha'is

U.N. Website

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 18 2009 14:34 utc | 56

Thank you Parviz for your commitment to keeping this thread alive. I find your post, or I should say, all the post on this thread to be fascinating. It is unfortunate there isn't this level of dialog going on in the coffee shops I frequent.

Government bad – people good, pretty much sums up the current state of the world.

If we could only get the people to stop letting their governments think for them we might be closer to peace than we know.

Posted by: David | Feb 18 2009 15:24 utc | 57


Autarchy Now: govern thyself.

Love, and do as thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law.

Posted by: catlady | Feb 18 2009 16:30 utc | 58

it is clear, for me at least, that parviz has not read a word i or debs has written. & it is clear to me that for someone who has travelled the world - that he has not seen what lies at the surface, even before the economic crisis - in no place in the west can states guarantee even the most basic needs - housing, education, work, liberty

clearly, parviz has not seen the homelessness & the poverty housing that is common , indeed very common in the west. give me tehran in preference to roubaix, sheffield,detroit, woolongong. it is clearly honky dory here in the west. i can bet you - pennies to the pound that you are tolerated so long as you are not effective. the inequalities are so excessive & growing exponentially in the last 15 years - the state has foregone society in every possible way

why do people think latin america have been making the decisions they have been making. ideas do not fall from the sky - they are forged into being

& us imperialism does not need iran to pull it down, it is already dong that quite well for itself being chief of those countries that cannot guarantee even the most basic elements of their much heralded constitution. israel will attack - unless the 'intelligence' & 'defence' commmunities are putting on a very good act - they most certainky will do a dimona - it will oblige its partners to accept that & to create a permanant & active state of tension

neither parviz, nor i nor debs will choose this may - the iranian people will & it is they who are the determining factor

Posted by: | Feb 18 2009 21:25 utc | 59

that is me, self evidently

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 18 2009 21:26 utc | 60

latin americans doing it for themselves

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 18 2009 23:12 utc | 61

Very strange comments, r'giap:

1. "parviz has not read a word i or debs has written"
Sure I have. You both have some fantasy about how the world 'should' be, while I'm focussing on how to win smaller battles in search of gradual improvement. If Utopia were possible I would support it, but the human gene is plagued by aggression, selfishness, jealousy, lust and all the other human foibles, so all we cvan try and do is improve the lot of our fellow humans without weeping every day over why the world isn't perfect. (If it were, you and Debs would die of boredom as you wouldn't have anything to complain about).

2. "clearly, parviz has not seen the homelessness & the poverty housing that is common , indeed very common in the west."
I assume you would have realized, from my command of English, that I've spent many, many years abroad. In fact I've travelled widely and seen in particular the inequalities in the U.S., which is why I absolutely detest the American capitalist model. Feel free to continue with your false assumptions about me ........?

3. "in no place in the west can states guarantee even the most basic needs - housing, education, work, liberty"

Rubbish! Have you ever been to Germany, where education is free, healthcare is universal and people have the liberty to speak their minds? So you can strike 2 or 3 off your list right away. As far as free housing for everyone is concerned, the human gene doesn't permit it. The Soviet Union tried it and went bankrupt. The closest to a Capitalist-Socialist state was Sweden in the Sixties and Seventies, but the people rebelled because it was too similar to Communism, and Swedes didn't want the fruits of their labour being seized by the State in the form of taxes (upto 95 %) and distributed among those who didn't even wish to work for a living. As you may recall, for decades Sweden had the world's highest suicide rate, so even Utopia has its problems.

4. "neither parviz, nor i nor debs will choose this may"

First, it's June and not May. Second, I'm Iranian so I will vote, as I did in 2001, if there's a candidate to my liking with a reasonable chance of winning. You and Debs may certainly NOT vote, which is the only part of your entire Post #59 that is correct.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 19 2009 7:07 utc | 62

And here is a superb letter I just spotted in the NYT:

February 19, 2009 6:47 am
Professor Cohen, you conclude by noting Iran's profound social inequality and point out that oil is too cheap at present to, by itself, address this 'fourth pillar' of the Iranian Revolution. And that 'only engagement with the West' will facilitate redress of inequality. And what does the West do best? Business and trade.

We in the West have tried since JFK's death to dominate through imperialism and colonialism -- always masked, of course, as 'bringing democracy' and 'fiscal discipline' to the impoverished nations of the world. Which everyone on the planet outside the U.S. has noticed and rejected. We've failed as an empire, and now is the time to apologize and change our ways. Through a variety of business and Peace Core type programs we can easily regain our rightful place, whatever that is. Certainly it's not Master of the Universe or military hegemon, but more along the lines you suggest.

This is not a new idea, and not new to me. I wrote a paper saying this in 1963 while in graduate school. Close to 50 years of failure validates the point. Vietnam didn't work. Ronald Reagan pretending the 'Evil Empire' was strong was nothing more than a ruse to build up our military. By early 1981 our C.I.A. was pronouncing the U.S.S.R. all but dead. And what did we get from Reagan's 'victory'? Re-Balkanization of that part of the world, a massive die-off of Russian and nearby populations as the average age of death plunged by more than 10 years, same-old/same-old Russian dictatorial politics, rogue states and arms sales run amok, and an ever-expanding NATO to exacerbate tension. We could have traded with the U.S.S.R. from 1946 onward and they'd have 'fallen' sooner. If we want Iran to change ('fall' from its current autocratic ways) the same strategy will work: trade, business, tolerance, and time. It's sort of working in our relationship with China.

Of course if we want more of the same-old, we can ignore your analysis and learn the hard way that Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are the places where 'empires go to die,' as has been said many times about Afghanistan.

— Butler Crittenden, San Francisco, CA

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 19 2009 13:16 utc | 63

1. like the anticommunists of old - you conflate, configure & permutate all that is not said. for all your comprehensibility - debs & i are memebers of the comintern. i repeatedly talk about choices in countries other than your own - i point particularly to latin america

2. no it is not clear to me that you understand the problems of the homeless, the marginalised or of the working poor in the west other than in the most perfunctory way

3 is so wrought with error - i will rebut it. i have worked in many countries in the wes except the united states & have done so for decades. it seems you are completely ignorant that whole swathes of their population live under the poverty line & i am not even including the underclass in that configuration. health is often the only thing that is guaranteed but it is happenign to bdoes that are torn apart - sometimes literally by what the tough call 'living'. as for freedom of speech - it is laughable - there is so much surveillance & control to talk about 'freedom' is a little obtuse. its like egypt - you can say what you want but if it is effective - you will find yourself before the law soon enough

4) you may vote - but i will eat crow here publically if your particular line is taken up by the masses of iranian

5) you have not read what i said nor have you understoood it - it seems as far as iran goes it is a monologue - sometimes subtly sometimes with a baton

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 19 2009 14:48 utc | 64


You further my education, thank you. I thought at first you made a typo-me and my ignorance-but then I remembered that despite what I think, I don't really know it all. So I googled the word to see if I might be being introduced to a new word. Thank D_g for search engines!

To any of you who might be ignorant of the concept of Autarchy here is a good link:

Autarchy Versus Anarchy

Thanks again!

Posted by: David | Feb 19 2009 15:45 utc | 65

Delurking to say--

Parviz, I really appreciate what you have to say, except when you interact with r'giap. I'm no communist, but I also don't enjoy watching you deliberately misinterpret his words in the least sympathetic way possible. That style of internet debate is very common and very boring. OTOH, I won't defend debs, as she did say some pretty condescending things to you.

But to end on a positive note, let me restate that what you have to say about Iran is fascinating.

Posted by: Donald | Feb 19 2009 19:39 utc | 66

Donald, thanks for your comments. Maybe there's a linguistic gap between myself and R'giap, but I suspect it's more intellectual as I don't deliberately misinterpret anything. As far as I can see, r'giap is stating the obvious, which is that there is extraordinary injustic, unfairness and inequality in the world. Since he is an avowed Communist I assume he believes Communism holds the answer to the world's problems, on which I strongly beg to differ. My example of Sweden's having had the world's highest suicide rate at the height of its socialist excesses (= cradle to grave security) is extraordinarily significant, because the effort of the state to give the people everything created such a sense of alienation and low self-esteem that Swedes themselves recognized the folly of their system and actually demanded more Capitalism.

Moreover, r'giap's statement "give me tehran in preference to roubaix, sheffield,detroit" I find really strange, considering that unemployment is 25 %, inflation is 50 %, the wealth gap in Tehran has exploded to the point that school teachers have to not double but triple up as private tutors and taxi drivers to make ends meet, there is no freedom of speech and women are still treated as 2nd class citizens whose 'value' in a law court or with regard to inheritance is 1/2 of a man, and for whom divorce is close to impossible. Thank you, r'giap: In considering "Tehran superior to roubaix, Sheffield and Detroit" you've just written off half of Iran's population as unworthy of your consideration. ASs for the male half, Iran is recogniozed as one of the most corrupt nations on Earth. So much for 'religion'.

The problem I have with some on this Blog (and it's clear some have problems with me, which I find okay) is that I have the feeling Iran's resistance to U.S. hegemony has blinded those particular barflies to the social, economic and political evils that plague not just Tehran but the whole of Iran. They're prepared to overlook despotic religious fundamentalism which is considered merely the price of 'standing up to America'.

Well, Ataturk stood up to the whole world, but this didn't prevent him from eliminating corruption and creating and strengthening the democratic institutions that have sustained Turkey to this day. Being friendly with the U.S.A., originally as a buffer against the USSR, didn't prevent Turkey, a significant Muslim country, from welcoming FDI, developing its tourist industry and nonetheless reading Israel and the U.S.A. the riot act over Gaza. Malaysia, another Muslim country I often cite to stony silence from my critics, has been developing gangbusters and swearing at the U.S. simultaneously. It regularly votes against the U.S. at the U.N. and invariably votes with the NAM that constitutes 2/3 of U.N. membersand of the world's population.

I totally reject the theory that Iran can withstand U.S. hegemony only in its current form as a corrupt religious dictatorship. Iran is the world's 17th largest economy. It is not some banana republic that can be controlled by a single U.S. multi, and ordinary Iranians deserve more than to have those willing to serve the regime receiving juicy government hand-outs while the rest survive on the black economy, drugs and prostitution which have reached epidemic proportions.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 19 2009 20:36 utc | 67

Final comment: Critics of my proposals appear to be fighting the last war, imagining Iran today as the Iran of the 1950s when it was virtually bankrupt and kept its funds exclusively and transparently in U.K., U.S. and French banks, when there were no economic alternatives (for import of high-tech equipment) to Britain and the U.S., when the Anglo-Saxon empire ruled supreme, Germany was flat on its back and there were no strong China, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and other nations for Iran to turn to.

Ladies and gentlemen, today is not 1950, either as far as Iran or the U.S. is concerned. The balance of power has shifted dramatically. Iran will not be dominated by the U.S. if it decides to develop its economy as it began to do under the Khatemi Administration from 1997 - 2005. In fact, Ahmadinejad reaped the fruits of Khatemi's efforts which rectified the first 'credit event' in Iran's 2,500 year history. That's why it's so important for Iran to be economically strong and exploit globalization as China did. FDI will reduce the 25 % unemployment rate, create new factories that will reduce inflation by increasing supply, increase forex reserves by reducing imports and benefit the nation macroeconomically, and the people microeconomically, in many more ways. A continuation of existing policies will bring ruin and make it easier for the U.S. and Israel to split or even partition the nation as they did to Iraq.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 19 2009 21:13 utc | 68

In case anyone is still reading this thread, here's an example of the stifling corruption in Iran:

When the new (Tehran) Imam Khomeini International Airport was opened in 2004 after 25 years of construction (!) the first Emirates Airline Airbus landed to great fanfare. The 2nd plane was met by armed Revolutionary Guards who prevented its landing:

"However, on May 8, a few hours after the opening of airport, the Revolutionary Guards of the Iranian Armed Forces closed it, citing security fears over the use of foreigners in the running of the airport. Only one Emirates flight from Dubai was allowed to land. The second flight from Dubai, which was an Iran Air flight, was forced to land in Isfahan International Airport, because the Mehrabad Airport did not allow it to land there after the Imam Khomeini airport was closed by the armed forces. The rest of the flights were diverted to Mehrabad."

The above had nothing to do with "fear of the use of foreigners" and everything to do with the Revolutionary Guards' fury at not receiving enough of the cake and not beng allowed to control and run the lucrative new airport.

So when ordinary Iranians long for a more pragmatic, less corrupt and less stifling socio-political-economic system, the last thing we wish to hear is preaching from outsiders as to how we will be playing into the hands of the 'Amerikan' Empire.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 20 2009 7:40 utc | 69

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