Interview with retired Gen. Wesley Clark
March 2, 2007
About 10 days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon, and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military, and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”
So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the secretary of defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”
Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, had a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov, during which they discussed the Friday’s US missile strike on Syria.
Both generals expressed their condemnation of the US strike and assured that fight against terrorism and terrorist groups in Syria will not only continue, but also intensify and will go on as long as the terrorism problem in Syria is not completely solved.
The two also agreed that the US strike on Syria was a “pre-planned attack on an independent and sovereign state, aimed at slowing down the victories of the Syrian Army and its allies, while only raising the morale of the terrorists and their supporters,” adding that “the US narrative on Khan Sheikhoun incident is extremely doubtful and that the Syrian proposal to establish an independent commission that will investigate the incident, can only reveal the ugly reality of manipulations and distortions”.
Moscow does not submit to the US narrative of Wednesday’s chemical assault on the Syrian village of Khan Sheikhoun and previously accused Washington of fearing the truth, surrounding the incident.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said that “the US Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs did not provide any evidence of chemical weapons being used by the Syrian Army, and called for an independent investigation to be conducted by experts in order to clear out the facts.
In their anti-Trump crusade, some ‘progressives’ appear perfectly happy to link arms and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with the serial warmongers who unleashed the carnage which caused the refugee crisis in the first place.
The Nuremberg judgment of 1946 rightly held that to initiate a war of aggression was the “supreme international crime,” but that seems to have been forgotten today.
Which is more morally reprehensible: (1) Introducing a ban on refugees and immigrants from a small number of countries for a temporary period or (2) Killing people and destroying their countries through illegal regime change wars?
A bit of a no-brainer, eh? It has to be the second answer, surely.
Well, you’d think so, but for some it seems, the first option is far worse than the latter.
How else to explain that large sections of the Western liberal-left seem to be more incensed by Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from some Muslim countries (unjust though it is) than they were by the war which destroyed Libya, a country that had the highest living standards in Africa.
In their anti-Trump crusade, some ‘progressives’ appear perfectly happy to link arms and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with the serial warmongers who unleashed the carnage which caused the refugee crisis in the first place?
Trump’s executive order has caused a furious liberal backlash which Obama’s backing of jihadist death squads in Syria never did. It has led to widespread protests in the US and UK. Over 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling for the State visit of the American president to the UK to be called off. In the House of Commons on Monday, Trump was called a fascist and likened to Hitler and Mussolini, while outside Downing Street angry demonstrators shouted ‘Donald Trump has got to go!’ Parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts said the eyes of politician Yvette Cooper were “bulging so much she could have gone to a fancy dress party as Marty Feldman.”
“If the Olympic Games ever goes in for synchronized crossness, we’ll be dead certs for a medal position,” Letts observed.
If you can’t remember this level of ‘synchronized crossness’ during Barack Obama’s bombing of Libya, then it’s not surprising. Similar protests did not occur. There was no talk of a Hollywood strike. Yvette Cooper’s eyes did not bulge; she supported the refugee-making bombing of Libya as she did the refugee-making Iraq war.
You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to acknowledge that ‘Barack O’Bomber’ and his predecessors in the White House have got off very lightly. Deportations? The ‘liberal’ Obama deported more than 2.5 million undocumented migrants between 2009-2015 and a record 438,421 people in 2013.
To the best of my knowledge, Owen Jones organized no protests.
Trump’s executive order didn’t just appear out of thin air, the list of ‘countries of concern’ was, as Seth Frantzman has pointed out, already compiled by the Obama administration. “The media should also be truthful with the public and instead of claiming Trump singled out seven countries, it should note that the US Congress and Obama’s Department of Homeland Security had singled out these countries,” Frantzan says.
The hypocrisy doesn’t end there.
We’ve heard a lot these last few days about how Trump’s ban is an “assault on American values” (Obama himself has said ‘American values’ are at stake) conjuring up an image of the pre-Trump USA whose doors were opened wide for migrants and refugees from all over the world.
The truth is that for a long time it’s been pretty tough to get into the US if you’re in possession of the ‘wrong’ kind of passport, and sometimes even if you have the ‘right’ one.
“Americans seem to think it’s alright to subject everyone else to the pointless rigmarole of passing through their Homeland Security but when they travel they expect to be allowed through other countries’ immigration without fuss,” writes Peter Hill in the Daily Express.
We all know someone who’s been turned back at US immigration as they failed one entry requirement or another, and has been sent straight back home on the next flight. The son of Hungarian friends of ours always dreamed of going to the US, and hoped to work there, but he was turned back on arrival as the authorities didn’t believe he had enough money to support himself.
Fair enough, it’s the US authorities’ call; America is a sovereign country, and they set their own rules of entry. This tough approach at the borders didn’t just start on Friday when Dr. Evil aka Donald Trump formally became president.
That said, there are legitimate grounds to object to what the new president has ordered.
Even though he wasn’t responsible for the regime change wars which caused the migrant crisis, and has promised a less meddlesome foreign policy, Trump should at least acknowledge that the US has a moral obligation to take in refugees from countries that the US, under previous administrations, has set out to destabilize.
We can also question why some countries are affected by the temporary ban, and others not. If national security is the issue, why wasn’t Saudi Arabia, the home country of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, on the list? I’m not suggesting Saudi nationals should be banned from the US, only pointing out the omission.
But unfair as it undoubtedly is, the reaction to Trump’s executive order has been overblown, if we compare it to the non-reaction to far worse things US governments have done. As Bertolt Brecht might have said if he was still around: What’s refusing a visa to a Libyan, compared to bombing him? The Nuremberg judgment of 1946 rightly held that to initiate a war of aggression was the “supreme international crime,” but that seems to have been forgotten today.
Such is the ‘Sorosification‘ of the Western liberal-left that to impose controls on immigration is now regarded as a more heinous crime than launching brutal, imperialist wars of aggression, which are a prime cause of the significant level of migration from the Middle East. At the same time, the people who create and propagandize for destructive wars for economic gain against countries of the global south, are regarded as less reprehensible than those who advocate visa restrictions, especially if they come out and condemn visa restrictions.
Liberals, for instance, fawned over the former Secretary of State Madeline Albright when she said she “stands ready” to “register as Muslim” in “solidarity” against Trump. The very same Madeline Albright once declared that the death of half a million (predominantly Muslim) children in Iraq due to sanctions was a price that was “worth it.”
Will Albright be met with large-scale protests next time she comes to the UK for defending infanticide in Iraq? Don’t hold your breath. She’s against ‘The Donald’ so must be a good ‘un.
Serial warmonger John McCain has also come out to blast Trump’s executive order. He’s the man who, when asked what he was going to do about Iran if elected president, sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to the Beach Boys tune Barbara Ann.
How many Muslims would have been killed if McCain had bombed Iran? But hey, he opposes Trump’s visa ban, so he must be a pretty cool dude. Let’s invite the wannabe bomber of Teheran on the next ’Solidarity with Muslims’ protest, shall we?
In 2015, a report called Body Count, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.’ As I wrote at the time: As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate.”
The vast majority of these deaths will have been Muslims. What a pity their deaths, and the deaths of countless others in US-led regime change ops and “liberal interventions,” did not lead to the same level of ‘synchronized crossness’ that Trump’s executive order has.
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
“The crazed American government drowning in its own hubris has set us on a course to nuclear war. Can America produce a leader who can reverse course?”
The real question is: Are ordinary Americans willing to be leaders in their own communities to reverse this national course? Are they willing to stand up and speak out? Are they willing to openly oppose this aggression against Syria and against Russia?
Last week TASS reported Russia’s western-most ICBM division will be rearmed with the RS-24 Yars missile system. Yars is a MIRV-equipped, thermonuclear, intercontinental ballistic missile that can reportedly carry up to 10 independently targetable warheads. The ICBM RS-24 Yars constitutes the backbone of Russia’s strategic missile force.
“The westernmost strategic missile force division in the Tver region will soon begin to be rearmed with the missile system Yars. It will be a sixth strategic missile division where the newest mobile ground-based missile complexes will replace the intercontinental ballistic missile Topol,” Sergey Karakayev, the commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force told the news agency.
The Russians claim the deployment is in response to NATO installing a US anti-missile system in Eastern Europe in violation of previous Russian-US arms treaties. The United States has made the outrageous claim its missile system is designed to respond to threats from Iran.
“Now, after the deployment of those anti-missile system elements, we’ll be forced to think about neutralizing developing threats to Russia’s security,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in May.
Putin added that the US anti-missile systems currently in place in Romania and soon in Poland can be easily repurposed to fire short and mid-range missiles.
Russia announced it would modernize a launch detection system in response to the threat along its border. It has also discussed stationing its state-of-the art Iskander missiles at its westernmost Baltic outpost of Kaliningrad which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. The Iskander travels at hypersonic speed and is capable of evading anti-ballistic missiles.
In addition to missiles and nuclear warheads, NATO and Russia have engaged in massive war games this year. NATO’s Anakonda 2016 exercise involved more than 30,000 troops, about half of them Americans, and thousands of combat vehicles from 24 nations. The huge exercise simulated battle maneuvers across Poland. A simultaneous naval exercise, BALTOPS 16, simulated “high-end maritime warfighting” in the Baltic Sea. Exercises were conducted in the waters near Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania. The maritime exercise represented a clear provocation.
“All of this—the aggressive exercises, the NATO buildup, the added US troop deployments—reflects a new and dangerous strategic outlook in Washington. Whereas previously the strategic focus had been on terrorism and counterinsurgency, it has now shifted to conventional warfare among the major powers,” Michael T. Klare wrote for The Nation in July.
“Washington might intend the military buildup as pressure on President Putin to reduce Russian opposition to Washington’s unilateralism. However, it reminds some outspoken Russians such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky of Hitler’s troops on Russia’s border in 1941,” notes Paul Craig Roberts.
“To make the crisis clear for my readers and for all peoples, Washington is surrounding Russia with nuclear missile sites that can be silently converted from ABMs to first strike nuclear missiles that can reach Russian targets in a mere few minutes. Washington attempted to disguise this first strike capability with the explanation that the missiles were there to protect against an Iranian ICBM attack on Europe. This explanation was given by the US government despite the fact that everyone knows that Iran has neither ICBMs nor nuclear weapons,” he writes on his website.
Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, is not optimistic about what such frenzied military activity portends.
He believes it is futile for Americans to plan for retirement.
“The crazed American government drowning in its own hubris has set us on a course to nuclear war. Can America produce a leader who can reverse course?”
Hillary Clinton will undoubtedly continue along this suicidal path. Donald Trump has said repeatedly he will not confront Russia. However, he has announced if elected the United States will expand its already massively inflated military budget.
America has excelled at marketing since its inception. Hollywood and Madison Avenue are the visible marks of that success — selling “America” to the world which is no more real, lasting,or good than a Western stage set.
Edward Bernays was hired to push American products and American adventures abroad.
Demonizing is another form as well as an American pastime. And bingo! it works, at least for gullible Americans, who seem allergic to doing their own investigation and love playing the victim.
The latest Gallup poll showed who Americans regard as the biggest threat.
A Gallup poll among Americans revealed that U.S citizens have changed their mind, and have highlighted a new main threat to the country.
According to the survey, the leading position on the list of threats to the United States in the opinion of Americans is North Korea (16%), followed by Russia (15%), followed by Iran (14%) and China (12%), reports RIA Novosti.
According to Gallup, this year respondent’s views on the main enemy were more varied than ever. Only four countries which Americans fear have remained unchanged over the last three years. The survey, which was conducted by telephone from 3rd to 7th February, involved 1021 participants.
The death of a top Iranian military commander in Syria this week has dealt a “psychological blow” to elements backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a U.S. intelligence official.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani was killed outside Aleppo, Syria, where he was advising the Syrian army in its fight against extremists, Iranian state media reported Friday.
CNN also claims:
The United States and Iran both say they are fighting ISIS terrorists, but in practice they have different goals: The United States is supporting rebels trying to oust Assad, while Assad’s close ally Iran became involved to defend his regime. “I’m not sure it’s the Iranian objective to beat ISIS,” said Gerecht. “I think the primary Iranian objective is to ensure that Assad does not fall.”
The US and Iran indeed both say they are fighting ISIS terrorists. And while the US “accidentally” is supplying ISIS with weapons, fighters, and even fleets of brand new Toyota trucks, Iran has lost a senior commander on the ground who was clearly fighting them face-to-face.
Image: Just another happy coincidence. While the US Treasury dishonestly inquiries into where ISIS has gotten fleets of brand new Toyota trucks, it is a matter of record that the US State Department and the UK have been sending them into Syria since at least as early as 2013,
just ahead of the “sudden” emergence of ISIS.
The loss of General Hamedani also reveals that indeed the Russian-led Syrian-Iranian-Iraqi anti-terror coalition is fighting ISIS in tandem with other terrorist groups – who despite claims by the United States – are ideologically, tactically, strategically, and politically indistinguishable from ISIS itself.
Monster Revealed – A Call to Arms of the Civilized World
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
With a senior Iranian general dead, and ISIS and America’s “rebels” who are obviously also ISIS edging in on the Syrian government, the world should now finally see clearly what was planned as early as 2007 and what many have suspected since the beginning of Russia’s recent intervention in the conflict is now unfolding completely in the open. The United States and its regional allies have created this force of mass-murdering terror to intentionally direct against its enemies.
The death of General Hossein Hamedani and America’s celebratory mood in its wake is a call to arms ofthe entire civilized world. Stop the US and it’s now transparent, naked evil in Syria now – shoulder-to-shoulder with the Russian-Syrian-Iranian-Iraqi coalition – or fight them by yourself inevitably in the future.
America Finds its “Power Move” to Counter Russia
The next step for Russia and Syria’s allies, including Iran and China, is clear. This will not stop in Syria – it is clearly aimed next at Iran, and then beyond. Full-scale intervention by Iran and a sizable commitment by China will be necessary to block Washington’s next move – a counterstroke hastily planned and hoped to deter, disrupt, and completely displace Russia’s goal of ending the conflict and restoring Syria’s stability.
The Obama administration is overhauling its approach to fighting the Islamic State in Syria, abandoning a failed Pentagon effort to build a new ground force of moderate rebels and instead partnering with established rebel groups, officials said Friday.
Washington Post reveals transparently that American support of “rebels” in Syria is aimed not at ISIS, but admittedly at the Syrian government. It reported (emphasis added):
The change also reflects growing concern in the Obama administration that Russia’s intervention has complicated the Syrian battlefield and given new life to President Bashar Assad. Russian airstrikes have raised questions about whether and how the U.S. would protect rebel groups it is working with if they are hit by Russian bombs. Meanwhile, the CIA has since 2013 trained some 10,000 rebels to fight Assad’s forces. Those groups have made significant progress against strongholds of the Alawites, Assad’s sect, but are now under Russian bombardment. The covert CIA program is the only way the U.S. is taking on Assad militarily.
It is obvious that among that number of 10,000 is Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra which operates precisely in the areas described by the Washington Post, toward precisely the same objectives stated in the article.
Despite the Washington Post’s claims that the US goal is to “defeat” ISIS, it is clear that these terrorists backed by Washington are not fighting ISIS – admittedly so – as both CNN and the Washington Post have stated clearly, their aim is to remove the Syrian government from power. That also happens to be ISIS’ goal – one which has manifested itself in the death of Iranian General Hamedani.
The “shift” in logistical terms is meaningless – since any and every available amount of money, weapons, and fighters has already been fed by the US and its allies into Al Qaeda’s ranks since the conflict began – but the shift rhetorically is important. It signals America’s attempt to introduce direct military support for Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front and other assorted terrorist groups on the ground to counter and ultimately defeat Russian, Syrian, and Iranian efforts. This will also leave virtually no capable force on the battlefield to counter ISIS – which was the plan all along.The US hopes that this “power move” – the abominable assault with terrorists on a coalition demonstrably attempting to fight Al Qaeda and ISIS in the region – will force Russia to the negotiating table. However, Russia can do nothing of the sort. With the death of General Hamedani so clearly benefiting the United States – the conflict is of a clear existential nature. Failure to stop these terrorists in Syria and they are headed next to Iran, then through the Caucasus Mountains into Russia – and as far as China is concerned – across Central Asia and into its vast Xinjiang region.In hindsight, looking at a map in the 1930′s at Nazi Germany’s extraterritorial transgressions would have made it clear what was being done and what was soon to follow. With the United States and its allies devastating the nations of Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and with Iran and Lebanon next on the list – with the US already supporting terrorist groups in China’s Xinjiang region and threatening Russia itself with isolation, destabilization, and regime change, the lines have been clearly drawn and the stage set by Wall Street, Washington, London, and Brussels for a catastrophic confrontation it has left the world with no choice but to face.
The book Waking Up in Tehran by Margot Lachlan White, which David Swanson describes as a “magnificent modern epic”, was apparently never published. What happened to her and the book? It is not hard to imagine the pressure from Israel and the United States to make sure it did not see the light of day, especially in light of the experiences she describes. There are a few reviews online and a podcast interview.
It’s more timely than ever to get this book published and/or posted online.
Posted on War is a Crime.org, January 11, 2013 Waking up in Tehran
by David Swanson
According to one theory, U.S.-Iranian relations began around November 1979 when a crowd of irrational religious nutcases violently seized the U.S. embassy in Iran, took the employees hostage, tortured them, and held them until scared into freeing them by the arrival of a new sheriff in Washington, a man named Ronald Reagan. From that day to this, according to this popular theory, Iran has been run by a bunch of subhuman lunatics with whom rational people couldn’t really talk if they wanted to. These monsters only understand force. And they have been moments away from developing and using nuclear weapons against us for decades now. Moments away, I tell you!
According to another theory — a quaint little notion that I like to refer to as “verifiable history” — the CIA, operating out of that U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1953, maliciously and illegally overthrew a relatively democratic and liberal parliamentary government, and with it the 1951 Time magazine man of the year Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, because Mossadegh insisted that Iran’s oil wealth enrich Iranians rather than foreign corporations. The CIA installed a dictatorship run by the Shah of Iran who quickly became a major source of profits for U.S. weapons makers, and his nation a testing ground for surveillance techniques and human rights abuses. The U.S. government encouraged the Shah’s development of a nuclear energy program. But the Shah impoverished and alienated the people of Iran, including hundreds of thousands educated abroad. A secular pro-democracy revolution nonviolently overthrew the Shah in January 1979, but it was a revolution without a leader or a plan for governing. It was co-opted by rightwing religious forces led by a man who pretended briefly to favor democratic reform. The U.S. government, operating out of the same embassy despised by many in Iran since 1953, explored possible means of keeping the Shah in power, but some in the CIA worked to facilitate what they saw as the second best option: a theocracy that would substitute religious fanaticism and oppression for populist and nationalist demands. When the U.S. embassy was taken over by an unarmed crowd the next November, immediately following the public announcement of the Shah’s arrival in the United States, and with fears of another U.S.-led coup widespread in Tehran, a sit-in planned for two or three days was co-opted, as the whole revolution had been, by mullahs with connections to the CIA and an extremely anti-democratic agenda. They later made a deal with U.S. Republicans, as Robert Parry and others have well documented, to keep the hostage crisis going until Carter lost the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s government secretly renewed weapons sales to the new Iranian dictatorship despite its public anti-American stance and with no more concern for its religious fervor than for that of future al Qaeda leaders who would spend the 1980s fighting the Soviets with U.S. weapons in Afghanistan. At the same time, the Reagan administration made similarly profitable deals with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, which had launched a war on Iran and continued it with U.S. support through the length of the Reagan presidency. The mad military investment in the United States that took off with Reagan and again with George W. Bush, and which continues to this day, has made the nation of Iran — which asserts its serious independence from U.S. rule — a target of threatened war and actual sanctions and terrorism.
Ben Affleck was asked by Rolling Stone magazine, “What do you think the Iranians’ reaction is gonna be?” to Affleck’s movie Argo, which depicts a side-story about six embassy employees who, in 1979, avoided being taken hostage. Affleck, mixing bits of truth and mythology, just as in the movie itself, replied:
“Who the FUCK knows – who knows if their reaction is going to be anything? This is still the same Stalinist, oppressive regime that was in place when the hostages were taken. There was no rhyme or reason to this action. What’s interesting is that people later figured out that Khomeini just used the hostages to consolidate power internally and marginalize the moderates and everyone in America was going, ‘What the fuck’s wrong with these people?’ You know, ‘What do they want from us?’ It was because it wasn’t about us. It was about Khomeini holding on to power and being able to say to his political opponents, of which he had many, ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the Americans’ – which is, of course, a tactic that works really well. That revolution was a students’ revolution. There were students and communists and secularists and merchants and Islamists, it’s just that Khomeini fucking slowly took it for himself.”
The takeover of the embassy is an action virtually no one would advocate in retrospect, but asserting that it lacked rhyme or reason requires willful ignorance of Iranian-U.S. relations. Claiming that nobody knew what the hostage-takers wanted requires erasing from history their very clear demands for the Shah to be returned to stand trial, for Iranian money in U.S. banks to be returned to Iran, and for the United States to commit to never again interfering in Iranian politics. In fact, not only were those demands clearly made, but they are almost indisputably reasonable demands. A dictator guilty of murder, torture, and countless other abuses should have stood trial, and should have been extradited to do so, as required by treaty. Money belonging to the Iranian government under a dictatorship should have been returned to a new Iranian government, not pocketed by a U.S. bank. And for one nation to agree not to interfere in another’s politics is merely to agree to compliance with the most fundamental requirement of legal international relations.
Argo devotes its first 2 minutes or so to the 1953 background of the 1979 drama. Blink and you’ll miss it, as I’m betting most viewers do. For a richer understanding of what was happening in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s I have a better recommendation than watching Argo.For a truly magnificent modern epic I strongly encourage getting a hold of the forthcoming masterpiece by M. Lachlan White, titled Waking Up in Tehran: Love and Intrigue in Revolutionary Iran, due to be published this spring. Weighing in at well over 300,000 words, or about 100,000 more than Moby Dick, Waking Up in Tehran is the memoir of Margot White, an American human rights activist who became an ally of pro-democracy Iranian student groups in 1977, traveled to Iran, supported the revolution, met with the hostage-takers in the embassy, became a public figure, worked with the Kurdish resistance when the new regime attacked the Kurds for being infidels, married an Iranian, and was at home with her husband in Tehran when armed representatives of the government finally banged on the door. I’m not going to give away what happened next. This book will transport you into the world of a gripping novel, but you’ll emerge with a political, cultural, and even linguistic education. This is an action-adventure that would, in fact, make an excellent movie — or even a film trilogy. It’s also an historical document.
There are sections in which White relates conversations with her friends and colleagues in Iran, including their speculations as to who was behind what government intrigue. A few of these speculations strike me as in need of more serious support. They also strike me as helpful in understanding the viewpoints of Iranians at the time. Had I edited this book I might have framed them a little differently, but I wouldn’t have left them out. I wouldn’t have left anything out. This is a several-hundred-page love letter from a woman to her husband and from an activist to humanity. It is intensely romantic and as honest as cold steel. It starts in 1977.
In honor of Persian New Year, here is a 2012 article from the mainstream American news.
From the Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com
Iran’s nuclear program: 4 things you probably didn’t know
Tensions over Iran‘s nuclear program, which some in Israel and the US say is meant to produce nuclear weapons, continue to run high in the West. Most recently in a Iranian New Year’s sermon, Ayatollah Khamenei promised that Iran would respond “on the same level” as any attack against it. But even as Israeli and Iranian officials take turns rattling their sabers, several key points remain misunderstood. Do the US and Israel believe that Iran has a nuclear weapons program? Did President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really promise to “wipe Israel off the map”? The answers may surprise you.
By Arthur Bright, Correspondent posted June 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm EDT
1.President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”
One frequently proffered explanation for why a war with Iran is needed is because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants Israel “wiped off the map,” and that with a nuclear weapon, he could. But some argue that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement was mistranslated from less incidiary language.
Ahmadinejad’s alleged condemnation of Israel came at a “World Without Zionism” conference in Tehran in Oct. 2005, in which he was quoted by an English-language Iranian news site as saying “Israel must be wiped off the map.” But as several analyses of the original Farsi statement show, this appears to be a mistranslation.
Arash Norouzi of the Mossadegh Project noted in 2007 that Ahmadinejad “never… uttered the words ‘map,’ ‘wipe out,’ or even ‘Israel'” in his statement. Rather, he argued, the translation should have been that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” (Both The Washington Post and The Atlantic came up with similarly variant translations.)
This is a key difference, Mr. Norouzi argued, because Ahmadinejad used the “vanish from the page of time” idiom elsewhere in his speech: when describing the governments of the Shah of Iran, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein. While war and revolution were involved in the three regimes’ collapse, none of them, Norouzi argued, were “wiped off the map.” Rather, they underwent regime change. This suggests in turn, he said, that Ahmadinejad was calling for regime change in Israel, not nuclear genocide. Juan Cole, another critic of the speech’s translation, compared Ahmadinejad’s statement to Reagan-era calls for the end of the Soviet Union.
Critics note that the translation is a matter of semantics and that regardless, they show Ahmadinejad’s hostility to Israel. Ahmadinejad did not help the case for mistranslation when in subsequent interviews he refused to clarify whether he truly meant that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth. But the ambiguity of the words and the indications from context suggest that “wiped off the map” is not the best translation for his statement.
2.Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.
Whatever words Ahmadinejad used to describe his attitude towards Israel, it is undeniable that he is not the true leader of Iran. That role is filled by the country’s supreme leader and foremost religious figure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Khamenei’s words are highly influential among religious Shiites –thus making his 2005 fatwa against nuclear weapons a significant factor in discussing Iran’s nuclear program.
A fatwa is a ruling on Islamic law issued by a recognized religious figure. While generally nonbinding, fatwas have influence among the faithful, and fatwas issued by Iran’s supreme leader have more influence than most in Iran, both politically and religiously. So when on Aug. 9, 2005, Khamenei issued a fatwa against the production and use of nuclear weapons, it was not simply a sermon – it carried political weight. As Jamil Maidan Flores wrote in a commentary last week for the Jakarta Globe, “Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa on nuclear weapons does count for something. He issued it as the supreme spiritual and temporal leader of Iran, and as a marja, a holy man. The fatwa should be binding to all Iranian Shiites, and most binding of all to he himself who issued it.” Khamenei has repeated his commitment to the fatwa manytimessince. Most recently, in February he called having nuclear weapons a “sin.”
But there is another Shiite religious concept, that of taghiyeh, which “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ” author Hooman Majd translates as “dissimulation.” A byproduct of the early years of Shia’s split from the Sunni mainstream, taghiyeh allows Shiites to lie in order to avoid death. Mr. Flores notes that taghiyeh could be a factor in Khamenei’s fatwa on nuclear weapons, if somehow lying about development of such weapons would protect Shiites. But Mr. Majd notes that taghiyeh is meant only for the purpose of lying about one’s religion to avoid death – which is not the case here – and adds that neither Khamenei nor the former supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, ever to anyone’s knowledge made use of taghiyeh.
3.Iran has a legitimate need for more energy, which is driving its nuclear efforts.
Iran has always insisted that its nuclear research was for peaceful purposes only: to provide more energy to a growing Iran. In all the debate over the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons, it is easy to overlook the fact that Iran does indeed need more power, power which nuclear plants could provide.
While Iran is a major supplier of both oil – it is the fourth largest producer in the world according to the CIA’s World Factbook – it is also a major consumer. The Green Party of Iran (an environmental party not to be confused with the Green Movement behind the 2009 presidential protests) estimated in 2000 that Iran ranked second only to the US in gasoline consumption. But despite Iran’s huge oil production, it lacks the facilities to refine it into gasoline, forcing it to import a barrel of oil for every eight it exports. According to Majd, some Iranians blame their lack of refining infrastructure on Western sanctions.
Iran is also the world’s fifth largest producer of natural gas globally according to the CIA’s World Factbook. But it consumed 137.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2010, almost as much natural gas as it produced that year. (Editor’s note: This sentence was revised to correctly reflect Iran’s natural gas production in 2010.)
4.The US and Israel both say Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
It is perhaps the most important fact that is often ignored in the debate over war with Iran: Both US and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Just last month, National Intelligence Agency Director James Clapper wrote in a report to the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons… should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”
When asked in a hearing by Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michiganto confirm that “Iran has not yet decided to develop nuclear weapons,” Mr. Clapper did so, saying “That is the intelligence community’s assessment …,” and he reiterated that he has doubts about whether Iran is attempting to create a nuclear weapon when pressed further by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) of South Carolina. Gen. Roland Burgess of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who also appeared at the hearing, agreed with Clapper’s assessment.
Israeli intelligence also does not believe that Iran is currently pursuing a nuclear weapon. In January, Haaretz reported that Israel believes Iran “has not yet decided whether to translate [its efforts to improve its nuclear power] capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile.” That same month, Israeli military intelligence chief Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a Knesset hearing that Iran is not working on building a nuclear bomb, reported Agence France-Presse.
Today is one of the four powerful days in the year, the solstices and the equinoxes. There are two equinoxes – spring and autumn. In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the Spring Equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere, today is the Fall Equinox.
On these days, there is balance between day and night. From ancient times, cultures celebrated these important days. Fortunately, some cultures and people throughout the Earth still celebrate these days as powerful times for creating change and aligning with the Earth and her values.
In Iran, they mark their new year by this date. The new year has various spellings in western script, including Nowruz, NoRuz, NoRooz. One of the ancient themes of Nowruz is the triumph of good over evil. This is what the Earth and its people need. Nothing could be more timely or more important to direct our hearts and prayers to creating that today.