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Posted by on Feb 11, 2010 in At TMV, Breaking News, International, Media, Politics, War | 37 comments

Sanctions, Not Bombs, Will Bankrupt Iran

Neo-cons as Bill Kristol and new adoptee Sarah Palin are suggesting the U.S. go to war against Iran if that nation continues its path to develop nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a more pragmatic President Obama is seeking tougher sanctions against the Islamic regime on the same issue.

Palin’s approach is strictly political. She said an Obama get-tough stand on Iran could be a game-changer in the 2012 presidential election campaign. That was seeing it through the prism of her eyes when asked about a presidential run in 2012 last Sunday from Fox’s Chis Wallace.

Kristol, as his fellow neo cons who have never been in a military battle, sees war as an inevitable solution. Obama sees sanctions as buying time.

They’re all wrong on the central issue.

Iran will develop nuclear capabilities. Whether they develop nuclear warheads is only a guess.

In a nationally televised address in Tehran’s Freedom Square, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed today that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, reiterating that Iran is now a “nuclear state.”

Ahmandinejad is full of crap. The enrichment program he was referring to started only two days ago.

And, in the past two years, technical problems using 1970 procedures has curtailed uranium enrichment to a point in which Israel is less vocal in its disguised voice to bomb Iran’s nuclear plants.

The Washington Post said it obtained a copy from David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) that offers a new assessment.

U.N. reports over the last year have shown a drop in production at Iran’s main uranium enrichment plant, near the city of Natanz. Now a new assessment, based on three years of internal data from U.N. nuclear inspections, suggests that Iran’s mechanical woes are deeper than previously known. At least through the end of 2009, the Natanz plant appears to have performed so poorly that sabotage cannot be ruled out as an explanation.

The ISIS study shows more than half of the Natanz plant’s 8,700 uranium-enriching machines, called centrifugues, were idle at the end of 2009 and production was about half of what was expected by Iranian scientists.

A separate, forthcoming analysis by the Federation of American Scientists also describes Iran’s flagging performance and suggests that continued failures may increase Iran’s appetite for a deal with the West. Ivan Oelrich, vice president of the federation’s Strategic Security Program, said Iranian leaders appear to have raced into large-scale uranium production for political reasons.

“They are really struggling to reproduce what is literally half-century-old European technology and doing a really bad job of it,” Oelrich said.

What is not known is the number of additional plants other than Natanz.

Analysts warned that Iran remains capable of making enough enriched uranium for a small arsenal of nuclear weapons, if it decides to do so. Iran has announced plans to build 10 new uranium plants, and on Monday the government said it would begin increasing the enrichment level of some of its uranium, from a current maximum of 3.5 percent to 20 percent. Enrichment of 90 percent is considered weapons-grade.

In The New York Times Opinionator column today, Robert Wright takes a shot at Palin and the Kristols for failing to understand that most Iranians want nuclear power as a source of pride and that even a miracle of opposition forces overthrowing the regime would not change the nuclear development issue.

Here the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has been at least as hard line as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The reason is that the Iranian people — reformers and conservatives alike — feel pretty strongly about the nuclear issue. The sooner we get clear on why, the better our hopes of resolving this mess.

Wright cites analysis by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of several opinion polls conducted in Iran over the past year.

Perhaps the best news in the PIPA report is that the Iranian public isn’t committed to getting the bomb. Given the choice between developing 1) nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, 2) nuclear energy only or 3) no nuclear technology, 55% of Iranians (and 57% of Mousavi supporters) chose door number two, while only 38% (and 37%) wanted the bomb.

But note that almost no one chose door number three. So if your goal is to get Iran to give up its nuclear program altogether, I recommend finding another goal.

One has to take Obama’s sanctions on good faith. It is unlikely to receive support from China and Russia in the Security Council.

This week the Obama administration froze assets of four companies that Treasury said are owned or controlled by, or act on behalf of, a major contractor known as Khatam al-Anbiya, which has channeled billions of dollars a year to the Revolutionary Guard from its activities in oil, construction, transportation and other industries. The action also targets Guard Gen. Rostam Qasemi, who is the commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters.

The Guard has received at least $6 billion worth of government contracts in two years, according to state-run media, but the total is likely much higher because many contracts are not disclosed. Working through its private-sector arm, the group operates Tehran’s international airport, manages Iran’s weapons manufacturing business and is involved in other industries.

Here’s what Kristol wrote today in a column lambasting Vice President Joe Biden:

Leave aside whether it make sense to worry more about other countries getting nuclear weapons in response to Iran than about the more immediate problem of the Iranian regime acquiring nuclear weapons’ capability. Leave aside also that Biden — following in his boss’s footsteps — couldn’t be bothered to express anything in the way of solidarity with the demonstrators who would be taking to the streets of Iran the next day.

What’s striking is this: a) Even Biden seems to realize that having the current Iranian regime go nuclear would be a problem that could, unfortunately, outweigh all other successes in the Middle East, such as Iraq; b) even Biden doesn’t bother to pretend that the year the Obama administration spent on “engagement” with Iran produced anything worthwhile; and c) even Biden doesn’t bother to claim that the effects of a nuclear Iran can be “contained” by extending deterrence to other nations in the Middle East, or other favorite nostrums of some in the foreign policy community.

So what is the Obama administration going to do about the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons?

His answer:

In fact, I’d say military action is likely at some point over the next couple of years if there’s not regime change in Iran.

Saber-rattling, regime change and sanctions. None has gotten us very far in Iran where both the regime and its 70 million people are on a different page than the Western world on the issues of nukes.

I think Obama’s approach is best. Apply economic sanctions by cutting off the money supply to the country’s nuclear program. It follows a similar plan that bankrupt the Soviet Union.

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Copyright 2010 The Moderate Voice
  • Silhouette

    I’ve got a great sanction idea for the entire unruly Middle East and a national security backup too. Green energy doublespeed. No nukes [convenient new domestic terrorist targets] but geothermal to heat steam to run turbines. Solar, naturally. And wind. We need to be very resourceful with what petroleum and nat. gas and coal we have. We may need to hunker this one out for awhile so the free energy sources that take basically zero mining/processing/refining/handling [like nat. gas, offshore oil and coal do] once the equipment is in place is of course solar, geothermal and wind. Saline thermal gradient ponds like the one in Israel would be a good idea too, to generate heated liquids for turbines to run on.

    True a new green plant exploded this week from natural causes I’m sure. Carry on undaunted though. There’s your sanction. Stop buying their oil and funding their war against us.

  • DLS

    “the Iranian public isn’t committed to getting the bomb”

    Since when did the regime there act on behalf of the public?

    At least our Dems in Washington are hinting that they might.

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    Bombing Iran is not the solution, obviously. However, unilateral sanctions are not either. As long as Iran maintains its protectorate within the UN, sanctions are a bad joke they wear and defy as a badge of honor against the West.

  • Don Quijote

    Listen to the Iranian People

    Perhaps the best news in the PIPA report is that the Iranian public isn’t committed to getting the bomb. Given the choice between developing 1) nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, 2) nuclear energy only or 3) no nuclear technology, 55 percent of Iranians (and 57 percent of Mousavi supporters) chose door number two, while only 38 percent (and 37 percent) wanted the bomb.

    But note that almost no one chose door number three. So if your goal is to get Iran to give up its nuclear program altogether, I recommend finding another goal.

    Why such strong support for nuclear energy in a country whose natural endowments don’t exactly leave it devoid of energy sources? The history of Iran’s nuclear program is long and tortuous, and there have definitely been periods (possibly including now) when the government was trying to develop nukes. But at the popular level, a separate motivation has taken shape: pride in the technical prowess embodied in the program.

    This pride may have grown more intense and nationalistic under Western pressure to constrain the program. Though most Iranians say sanctions already imposed on the country have hurt it, 86 percent of them — and 78 percent of Mousavi supporters — say that Iran should not “give up its nuclear activities regardless of the circumstances.”

    Apparently the Iranians learned the lesson they weren’t suppose to learn… The only way guaranteed way to keep the US from invading your country and doing an Iraq on it is to have NUKES…

    Good Job Shrub…

  • DaMav

    Iran has been try to get its hands on nuclear weapons for at least 20 years. History did not start with George Bush. They have several neighbors with nukes — Russia, an historic enemy; Pakistan, India not too far away, and of course Israel and the US. If I were in charge of Iran I’d want them too.The question is not whether your neighbor’s kid with a history of violent behavior and juvenile delinquency wants a box of hand grenades. It’s whether you are stupid enough to let him get his hands on them.

    (‘you’ being the generic; not ‘you’ personally)

    • History did not start with George Bush.

      Very true. The problem, however, is that most Americans are extremely ignorant regarding the history of Iran.

      Most Americans don’t even realize that Iran had a democratic government until 1953. It had a democratically-elected parliament headed by a democratcially-elected prime minister (who served as head of government) as well as a constitutionally-mandated king (the Shah, who served as head of state). This all changed back in 1953, when the American CIA instigated a coup that drove Mohammed Mosaddeq from power.

      And what was Moseddeq’s crime that caused the American government to want to oust Mosaddeq from power? Was he a militant Islamicist who wanted to impose an Islamic theocracy on Iran? Was he a Communist who allied his country with the Soviet Union in order to destroy the United States? Was he a totalitarian dictator who harbored ambitions of reclaiming lost lands in order to reconstitute a Greater Persia?

      Nope. The answer is that he attempted nationalize Iran’s oil reserves–most of which were owned by the British Anglo-Iranian Oil company. While nationalization of Iran’s oil reserves was widely popular among the Iranian people, you can imagine that it wasn’t so popular with the British government, which subsequently convinced the American government to instigate a coup to overthrow him.

      Mosaddeq was overthrown, and as a consequence, Iran’s constitutionally-mandated monarch (the Shah) instantly became the de facto dictator of Iran, something that the people of Iran were not too pleased with. Although the Shah introduced reforms to westernize and secularize Iran, his dictatorial style antagonized both the socialist left and the religious right within his country, paving the way for the Iranian Revolution (which was widely supported by the socialist left, who in their naive rush to support “the republic”, did not realize that their secular dictatorship was merely being replaced with a theocratic dictatorship).

      Very few Americans seem to be aware of this bit of history. Or perhaps they learned of this history but forgot it. Unfortunately, many Iranians have not forgotten this bit of history, and it is one of the main reasons for the antagonistic relationship between Iran and the United States.

      So when I hear politicians and pundits talking how they support democracy in Iran, you can imagine why I might be skeptical. Iran had a democracy until our government intervened in its affairs and instigated the coup that drove their prime minister from power.

      Perhaps today’s politicians and pundits who rail against the current Iranian government regret our own government’s actions back in the 1950’s and truly do want democracy for the Iranian people. But in the 1953 coup demonstrates anything, its that actions undertaken by the U.S. government have unintended consequences. The desire that Iran be free of nuclear weapons is founded on the best of intentions, but even the best intentions can produce disastrous consequence. There’s no knowing how many civilians may die as a result of crippling sanctions on Iran or of how many civilians may die as a result of even a modest bombing campaign.

      The growing demonstrations and backlash against the Iranian government are proof that Ahmadinejad does not enjoy wide support. The policy of the United States government should be to undermine him. However, suing or threatening violence against the country of Iran is not likely to accomplish this goal. In fact, if anything, it is more likely to do the opposite. Nothing works better to rally support to a divisive leader than the threat of war from a foreign power.

      • Schadenfreude_lives

        Sorry Nick, not well done.

        You are downplaying the British participation significantly (although to your credit you did give one, brief mention) to make it ‘all bad America, all the time’.

        The removal of Mosaddeq in favor of the Shah was absolutely the British. We (the CIA) were just the hatchet man, so to speak. Additionally, there was a large, and very corrupt, portion of the Iranian government and business leadership that also were part of the plot.

        I like Wiki, but it only gives a surface analysis of a much more complex story (as almost all geo-political stories are). I suggest that you check out this book, if you have not already read it:

        • Don Quijote

          Iran – Iraq War Stats

          # Iran-Iraq War (1980-88): 1 000 000 [make link]

          * Most newpaper articles agree on the number, but they can’t agree on the number of what. They talk of a million “killed”, a million “killed and wounded”, or a million “casualties”. Here are the estimates among the sources which specify the number as killed:
          o Eckhardt: 377,000 as of 1987
          o Hammond: 400,000
          o 5 March 1991 AP
          + Iran has acknowledged 135,000 mil. + civ. k.
          + Western military analysts: 2 or 3 times higher
          + Diplomats in Baghdad: 100,000 Iraqi dead
          + [Total: (?) 437,500 ± 67,500]
          + Conservative Western estimates: 1M k. or wd.
          o Dunnigan (1991): over 500,000
          o Dictionary of 20C World History: >500,000
          o Bulloch & Morris, The Gulf War (1989): 500,000
          o SIPRI 1989: 532,000
          o Clodfelter
          + Iranians: best est. 450,000 (as high as 730,000)
          + Iraqis: 150,000 (as high as 340,000)
          + [TOTAL: 600,000 (as high as 1,070,000)
          o Chirot
          + Iranians: 400,000-600,000
          + Iraqis: 200,000
          + [TOTAL: 700,000 ± 100,000]
          o MEDIAN: 700,000-1,000,000
          + Iranians: 500,000-600,000
          + Iraqis: 200,000-300,000
          o WPA3: 1,000,000 (600,000 Iranians and 400,000 Iraqis)
          o Compton’s Encyclopedia: 1,000,000
          o Encarta: 1,000,000
          o Toronto Star (11 Dec 88): 1,000,000
          o San Francisco Chronicle (29 Jan. 1991): 1,000,000
          o Our Times: at least 1,000,000
          o War Annual 4: 1,000,000 (600,000 Iranians and 400,000 Iraqis)
          o B&J: 1,000,000 (400,000 Iranians and 200,000 Iraqis)
          o Timeframe: 1,200,000 (900,000 Iranians and 300,000 Iraqis)
          o The web site of the President of Iran gives the number as both 1M KIA and 1M K&W on the same page. []

          I am sure that the Iranians have forgotten all the intelligence, the equipment needed to make nerve gas, the open lines of credit and all the weaponry we gave the Iraqis to invade their country in the 80’s…
          Not to mention the encouragements…

          • Schadenfreude_lives

            DQ – but the Soviets supplied the Iranians. So using your twisted logic, it is all their fault, not ours.

            Also, as the discussion was about the 1953 overthrow of Mosaddeq, other than giving you another chance to show your “everything bad in the history of the world is America’s fault” bonafides, what is the relevance of a war 30 years later?

          • DaMav

            mmm mmm, take another Chomsky out of that Blame America Firstburger.

          • Don Quijote

            DQ – but the Soviets supplied the Iranians. So using your twisted logic, it is all their fault, not ours.

            The Soviet Union and the Iran–Iraq War

            The policy of the Soviet Union towards the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 to 1988 varied, beginning with a stance of “strict neutrality” and moving towards massive military support for Iraq in the final phase of the war. The war was inconvenient for the USSR, which had aimed to ally itself with both Iran and Iraq. In the first period of the war, the Soviets declared a policy of “strict neutrality” towards the two countries, at the same time urging a negotiated peace. Iraq had been an ally for decades and the Soviets now tried to win over Iran as well, but their offers of friendship were rebuffed by the Iranian leadership, whose slogan was “neither East nor West”. In 1982, the war turned in Iran’s favour and the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini pledged not to stop the conflict until he had overthrown the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Such a prospect was unacceptable to the Soviet Union which now resumed arms sales to Iraq while still maintaining an official policy of neutrality. The Soviets also feared losing Saddam’s friendship to the West. After further Iranian gains in 1986, the Soviet Union massively increased its military aid to Iraq. The Soviets were now afraid of the Iranians encouraging Islamic revolution in Central Asia. Soviet aid allowed the Iraqis to mount a counteroffensive which brought the war to an end in August, 1988.

            And once more, you are wrong on the facts…

          • Schadenfreude_lives

            DQ – You are correct, I misspoke.

      • DaMav

        So as usual it’s all America’s fault. First there was the Garden of Eden. Then along came the CIA. Got it.

        • So as usual it’s all America’s fault. First there was the Garden of Eden. Then along came the CIA. Got it.

          mmm mmm, take another Chomsky out of that Blame America Firstburger.


          With all due respect, you seem to have missed one of the central arguments that I was making.

          Government programs lead to unintended consequences. Even government programs that arise from the best of intentions can have disastrous results. Whether the government in question is the United States, Canada, Mexico, or the UK is beside the point. It is true with respect to all governments. This is neither a leftist opinion nor a right-wing opinion. It is an undeniable fact that has long been appreciated by classical liberals as well as the Founding Fathers.

          For some reason, some people seem to believe the law of unintended consequences somehow only applies to domestic policy but not foreign policy–as if there is something magical about foreign policy that prevents it from being subject to the same mistakes and consequences of domestic policy.

          So please, spare me the “Chomsky” and “Blame America First” accusations. I don’t denounce you as “Blaming America” when you criticize our government’s domestic policies. Why don’t you grow up and accord me the same courtesy when I criticize our government’s foreign policies.

        • Don Quijote

          So as usual it’s all America’s fault. First there was the Garden of Eden. Then along came the CIA. Got it.

          First there were problems. Then along came the CIA. Then the problems got bigger, nastier and worse. And the pile of bodies got a lot higher…

  • DLS

    “It’s whether you are stupid enough to let [your neighbor’s kid with a history of violent behavior and juvenile delinquency] get his hands on them.”

    Some actually want him to have the grenades, or think he’s as deserving or more deserving than that “mean, marauding” “scary, evil bully” Jewish kid in the tiny cottage on the end of the block.

  • gogojack

    “The question is not whether your neighbor’s kid with a history of violent behavior and juvenile delinquency wants a box of hand grenades. It’s whether you are stupid enough to let him get his hands on them.”

    Yet for all their faults, Iran doesn’t fit your profile of a kid with grenade-throwing tendencies.

    For the past 30 years the Iranian regime (the real one, not the one represented by whatever President might get “elected”) has been very pragmatic. Every action they’ve taken has been done with an eye toward maintaining their power, and they’ve been successful so far. No matter what happens with regards to outside events (war with Iraq) or internal turmoil (the Green movement) the Ayatollahs pulling the strings have consistently acted in the interest of their own self preservation.

    The idea that they’d go off half-cocked and launch a nuclear attack once they had a viable weapon is absurd.

  • DLS

    “The idea that they’d go off half-cocked and launch a nuclear attack once they had a viable weapon is absurd.”

    I wouldn’t trust them with a nuclear weapon, and I don’t believe any reasonable person should trust them.

    That’s with respect to their launching a nuclear attack or exchange. (If they destroy Israel, at the cost of all but one or a handful of Iranian survivors, Iran wins.)

    What’s also relevent is the “nuclear blackmail” scenario, backing up whatever aggression Iran might commit in the Gulf or against other neighbors.

    (That remains a serious threat no matter what was said in a similar way about Iraq prior to the war.)

  • Leonidas

    Sanctions deserve a chance if we can get them through. The other option should stay on the table, but its definately not yet time for it to come out of the planning stage. Too many things can change quickly, committing ourselves too quickly one way or the other until we wait a bit would be premature.

  • Axel Edgren

    Sanctions, eh?

    Yo, America, try not to kill half a million civilians this time around, mmmmkay?

  • rudi

    Funny what a Google search of Iran, nukes versus impurities.
    nuclear weapon
    Results 1 – 10 of about 1,520,000 for iran uranium nuclear weapon.
    impurities Molybdenum
    Results 1 – 10 of about 4,510 for iran uranium impurities Molybdenum.
    The Kristols and other neocons drown out the technical experts by a mile. I wonder how many chickenhawks will die in Iran or die from Cheetos OD’s?

  • JSpencer

    The neo-cons, in their usual cowardly, hypocritical zeal are only to happy to believe a thug like Ahmadinejad (even when they know he’s lying) if it provides them another excuse to pretend at being warriors. And of course they will have thier pretend warrior cheerleaders among the American public who will applaud and run interference for their efforts to waste more blood and treasure – although never any of their own. So far there is more accumulated evidence for the neo-cons being a greater threat to America than Iran.

  • JSpencer

    Well done Nick.

  • JSpencer

    Nick, your pitch for learning from history and the advocacy of a reasoned and sane approach is (once again) appreciated.

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    most Americans are rather ignorant regarding the history of Iran.

    I could not agree more with that comment. I have a natural advantage, though, having had many Iranian friends due to my sister having been married to an Iranian in the 80’s. We had many discussions around this subject, among others. (side note – man, could they hold their liquor. It was like trying to keep up with an Englishman!)

    Item 2 – “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. A good saying to keep in mind, even for us atheists (me, I mean. I of course do not know your personal religion).

    Finally, even the Wiki article you linked to, particularity the Mosaddeq one, discusses the heavy British influence on Project Ajax:

    He is most famous as the architect of the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) (later British Petroleum or BP). The Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. was controlled by the British government. Mosaddegh was removed from power in a coup, August 19, 1953 organized and carried out by the United States CIA at the request of the British MI6 which chose Iranian General Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Mosaddegh…

    The confrontation between Iran and Britain escalated from there with Mosaddegh’s government refusing to allow the British any involvement in Iran’s oil industry, and Britain making sure Iran could sell no oil…The British government announced a de facto blockade and reinforced its naval force in the Persian Gulf and lodged complaints against Iran before the United Nations Security Council…

    The government of the United Kingdom had grown increasingly distressed over Mosaddegh’s policies and were especially bitter over the loss of their control of the Iranian oil industry…Unable to resolve the issue single handedly due to its post-World War II problems, Britain looked towards the United States to settle the issue. Initially America had opposed British policies. After American mediation had failed several times to bring about a settlement, American Secretary of State Dean Acheson concluded that the British were “destructive and determined on a rule or ruin policy in Iran.”

    In November and December 1952, British intelligence officials suggested to American intelligence that the prime minister should be ousted. The new US administration under Dwight D. Eisenhower and the British government under Winston Churchill agreed to work together toward Mosaddegh’s removal.

    I think we are in overall agreement. I just dislike it when all ills and problems are laid at the feet of America. It is so much more complicated, such as my point of the Iran/Iraq war have both Soviet and American influence, and even some Chinese, GB, German, and other countries.

    • nicrivera: most Americans are rather ignorant regarding the history of Iran.

      Scahdenfreude_lives: I could not agree more with that comment.

      The problem with the “most Americans are rather ignorant regarding the history of Iran” is that it is a statement that cannot readily be proved or disproved unless their is enough empirical data to support one view or the other. As far as I am aware, there have never been any polls, surveys, or tests conducted assess to assess the American public’s knowledge of Iranian history, and even if there had been, there would be the question of whether the result of such a poll, survey, or test are truly an objective measurement of the American public’s knowledge of Iranian history.

      Thus my statement comes completely from ancedotal evidence, which I readily admit is inferior to empirical data.

      I have not met very many Iranians (people born in Iran or of Iranian descent), and because I don’t discuss politics to just anyone I know or meet in public, I can think of only two Iranians whom I have discussed with topic. Neither were born in (they were children of parents who were), and because both were approximately my age, they were far too young to have lived through the events in question.

      Two people is pretty evidence, even by anecdotal standards. And given the diversity of views among Iranian-Americans, who is to say which views are representative of the whole, anyway?

      However, my argument that most Americans are ignorant of the history of Iran comes not from my conversations with those two Iranian-Americans, but from the conversations I have heard from people discussing Iran. In a country of more than 300 million people, there is no way that I could have talked or listened to even close to enough people to constitute a representative sample of the American public. But again, it is anecdotal evidence that I’m offering.

      Just a few example of what anecdotal evidence I have:

      1) When people blame the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran on Jimmy Carter. Does this prove that these people were unaware of the American CIA’s role in the 1953 coup? Of course not. But when people make such ridiculous statements, it makes me wonder if these people knew anything about the 1953 coup. I mean, if one knew that the American CIA instigated a coup that led to the overthrow of a democratically-elected prime minister, why would that person point to the Carter adminstration as the point when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran deteriorated.

      To what extent are the people who made such statements representative of the American public? Until any empirical data is put forth, I guess we’ll never know.

      2) When people cite support for democracy in Iran as one of their reasons to bolster their argument supporting a military intervention against Iran. Does this prove that these people were unaware of the American CIA’s role in the 1953 coup? Again, it does not. But if they are aware of the 1953 coup, one cannot discount the irony of someone who is aware of the fact the U.S. government instigated a coup that removed a democratically-elected prime-minister in order to replace him with a de facto dictator now proposing that the U.S. government use military intervention to do the opposite.

      To what extent are the people who made such statements representative of the American public? Until any empirical data is put forth, I guess we’ll never know.

      I concede that it would be unfair to expect every columnist who casually mentions Iran in their newspaper column or every blogger who casually mentions Iran in their blog to come out and write everything they know regarding the last 60 years of Iranian history.

      But what about our elected officials and the pundits in the media–particularly the ones who go on and on and on about the problems we’re having with Iran and what they insist our government to do about it? After a certain point, I expect these politicians and pundits–these supposed “experts” to demonstrate to me a deeper understanding of Iran, its culture, and its history. Spouting simplistic generalizations about Iran, which is what politicians and pundits tend to do, just doesn’t cut it.

      This leads me to a third argument–one that I implied in my prior posts but never stated explicited–and that is this:

      People who are ignorant regarding the history of Iran should not be the ones making decisions for the Iranian people. I mean, deciding on what kind of government a country has and deciding whether or not that country is allowed to have nuclear weapons…these are no simple decisions. These are the type of decisions that are typically made by the people living in that country…not by people living in a foreign country.

      To the extent that American politicians and pundits do insist that they be the ones to make these decisions for Iran, I think that at the very least, these politicians and pundits should be highly knowledgeable regarding the history of Iran (modern history, that is…I concede that knowledge of Achaemenid and Sassanid empires–though interesting–is largely irrelevant). And at this point, I have very little faith that this is true.

      I suppose the bigger point is the one I was making before–that government programs, laws, and actions all have unintended consequences and that this is no less true for foreign policy than it is for domestic policy. If Americans would just appreciate that simple fact, then I think that the question of whether most Americans are rather ignorant becomes a moot point.

      I mean, I’m rather ignorant regarding the histories of Cameroon and Mongolia. But then, I’m not demanding any radical changes for the people or governments of Cameroon or Mongolia, so perhaps my ignorance can be foregiven.

    • I apologize, Schad (can I call you Schad? Schadenfreude_lives is soooooo long of a name)

      I went and posted that entire last comment of mine having completely misread your previous post. When you wrote “I could not agree more with that comment”, I misread it and thought that you were saying that you could not disagree more with me based upon your own experience.

      Yeah, pretty dumb mistake on my part. Perhaps even more dumb was admitting the mistake.

      It doesn’t change what I wrote above, but in reading your post (correctly) it leads me to wonder what other things we have in common.

      I wonder, does it annoy you (as it does me) when you hear people refer to Iranians as “Arabs” or mistakenly believe that Iranians speak “Arabic” as oppose to Persian/Farsi (some people don’t like the term “Farsi” because they believe “Farsi” to be a bastardization of the term “Parsi”, which was the name of the language back before the influence of Arabic on the Persian language)?

      I suppose most people would consider that to be quite trivial. But I would imagine that many Iranians would be offended to hear westerners speak of them as being “Arabs” or speaking “Arabic.” I mean, if you think about it, Persian (being an Indoeuropean language) has stronger ties to English, Latin, Greek, and the other languages of Europe than it does to Arabic.

      • Schadenfreude_lives

        Oh, trust me nic, Iranians DO NOT like being called Arabs, especially as they conquered them centuries ago. The Persians are a proud and long-historied people with a strong arts and science history as well. Most Americans do not know that they are one of the Aryan races, either (bring that up at a KKK meeting!)

        p.s. – schad is fine

        • Oh, trust me nic, Iranians DO NOT like being called Arabs, especially as they conquered them centuries ago.

          I suspected that much. It really makes sense if one thinks about it. Calling Persian people “Arabic” would be like calling the indigenous people of Peru & Bolivia “Spanish” given that Persian and Arabic are two completely different languages from two completely different language families just as Qechua and Spanish are two completely different languages from two completely different language families.

          The Persians are a proud and long-historied people with a strong arts and science history as well. Most Americans do not know that they are one of the Aryan races, either (bring that up at a KKK meeting!)

          Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Ancient Persia over the last couple of years for a novel that I’ve been writing. I’ve been focusing on Zoroastrian beliefs, the Gathas, as well as Avestan/Old Persian/Middle Persian languages in order to get some appreciation for the culture of Ancient Persia. There’s quite a lot to learn, and the fact that I don’t have a natural knack for learning foreign languages doesn’t make it any easier.

  • DLS

    There is no reason to unreasonably fear or fashionably disparage largely-mythical militarism by the USA aimed against Iran, or even have any tendency to mischaracterize US foreign policy in that light.

  • DLS

    “Iranians DO NOT like being called Arabs”

    Plenty of us are not ignorant of Iran, nor of the risks entailed in attacking Iran. There is no “ignorance” excuse for fake or fashionable anti-militarist anti-US sentiment. It’s also of little use with those who know better to rehash (and perhaps embellish or exaggerate) mischief we made in the distant (repeat, distant) past. It’s even more … regrettable … to rush (and why, I wonder, the rush or the definite urge or other motive?) to “blame” the USA rather than Iran for the latest conflict(s) Iran may be creating.

    • Don Quijote


      Do you know what the difference between an American and a European is?
      An American thinks that a 100 years ago was a long time ago, A European thinks that a hundred miles away is far away…

      • DLS

        Don Quijote:

        “An American thinks that a 100 years ago was a long time ago”

        I’m not ignoring past history; you should know better than that.  I’m just insisting on correct historical context.  (I also don’t accept cheap US-bashing.)

  • 100 years was a long time ago, at least the last 100 years. More has happened in the last 100 years than has happened in the last 2000.

  • I agree with that statement, but it depends on the event. WWII is still very much in the American consciousness. Now imagine if a foreign country, any one, had conquered us and replaced our government with a puppet regime dictator. In the 50s. Oh yes. We’d damn sure remember that. And we’d not soon forget.

  • DLS

    “We’d damn sure remember that. And we’d not soon forget.”

    I hope you’re not illogically assuming that an emphasis on what matters most now (in fact, many Iranians today — their population is young — were born after the Revolution and that truly has shaped them as well as their lives) implies forgetting or insisting on forgetting the past.

  • Don Quijote

    I’m not ignoring past history;

    You’re an American, you can’t help yourself…

    you should know better than that.

    I don’t…

    I’m just insisting on correct historical context.

    One that does not make the US and it’s foreign policy look like a pack of mass murdering idiots…

    (I also don’t accept cheap US-bashing.)

    There is no such thing as cheap US-bashing, if you bash the US you damn better have your facts right, better have documentation, and even then people will refuse to admit that you are right, but assuming that they acknowledge that you are correct, when the same subject comes up six month later with the exact same people on the exact same blog, you will have to through the identical rigmarole again…

    On the other hand, if you claim that the US is a city on the shining it’s light upon the world and showering it with milk and honey, no one will contest that statement…

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