So, I am guessing this is Bush’s new plan for Iraq? Or is that the plan for Iran? Raiding Iranian embassies and kidnapping Iranian diplomats? Yeah, that will solve the U.S woes in the region.
Category Archives: Iran
So, the thing I dread most had to happen. We had guests over for “a cup of coffee”. These are not regular guests, so the “drinking coffee” part had to be translated to “having at least 3-4 coffee-sessions”. To make it worse, I was handed the task of “entertaining” them. OK. So we sit, discuss family affairs (after going around the point for some time, eventually they get to it, and ask me about my “dating status” – seriously, why do people think that is any of their business???). So having successfully passed the first half an hour of many half-hours, we had our first Arabic/Turkish/Armenian(or Mauritanian, Fijian, Baluchian, Zanzibarian) coffee. OK. So far so good. Then, for lack of anything else to talk about and “entertain” them with, I (silly me!! :-S ) mistakenly opened a can of worms… I asked something I will never dare ask again. Call it bowing to the desires of thought controllers (and terrorists), call it whatever you like!! I say, never, EVER, again! I asked, “sooooooo… any thoughts on the political scene………” Yeah. By the time we got to the second round of coffee, my semi-deaf gramma was complaining about a terrible headache. So, what happened was that we (well, they) were going ’round and ’round the same arguments, and quite loudly so (I will let my semi-deaf gramma’s complaint be the measure of how loud we – well, they – were). Actually, there were 3 sides in this mess. Me (solo), they (the guests), my dad (the devil’s advocate, who seemed intent on giving me a major headache). So, basically, it started with a discussion of General Michel Aoun. In truth, it started between them and my dad. My dad kept insisting that Aoun would make no difference, that no one would make any difference in Lebanon, so it was better to maintain the status quo (Hariri, Siniora) than abandon it. Mmmm! The guests respectfully disagreed, and defended Aoun’s position, following which a whole new can of worms was opened (and for once I wasn’t the one who opened it). Basically, a discussion of the herd mentality. Now this was a mess, because my dad was actually contradicting himself all the time (don’t give him my blog URL or you will regret it for the rest of your miserable life : -D ) and the guests were also blabbering on and on about “those Muslims”, whom they accused of having herd mentality, and believe me, much, much worse things… Well, at least they and my dad discovered they shared common ground on that one, which earned us a much-needed pause, the second coffee break! This is where things started going downhill. The discussion started to heat up even more, and at last we stepped into the tricky realm of imperialist, sorry, U.S foreign policy, and embarked on a discussion of the real purpose behind these policies vis-a-vis the Middle East, and the response that it has elicited from “those Muslims”. Actually, we had to clarify some matters before we embarked on such a topic, because while I insisted that the “roots of Muslim rage” – as the so-called Middle East affairs expert, Bernard Lewis, ingeniously (sic) calls it (Lewis is now busy crunching numbers to determine the date that the Islamists have chosen for their collective annihilation campaign against Israel) – have nothing to do with the personality traits and/or character of Muslims (and Arabs; another thing we differed on and clashed about was the interchangeable use of Arab and Muslim) and little to do with the cultural/religious identities that are prevalent in Muslim societies, the former being a rather bigoted if not utterly racist statement to make. Rather, the “roots of Muslim rage” have more to do with – among other things – reactions to threats (in speech or action) or, at any rate, perceived threats (the way motives and intentions are viewed and analyzed, etc.), and radicalization due to forceful isolation (if they think by isolating Hamas they would be solving anything, they might want to think twice, and actually realize that their actions will only serve to radicalize it, and along with it a very large segment of Palestinian society; although one can easily argue that Palestinian affairs have become increasingly “Lebanonized” – however, as Lebanonized as they might be, Lebanonization is never a cure for imperialists’ headaches; one would expect that the Americans would have learned at least that in their dealings with, in, and through Lebanon). Scholars have been studying the impact of political mediation for possible inclusion and acceptance into the body politic, on extremist parties. These studies have shown that extremist parties tend to moderate their speech and actions when they are accepted into the real political world so to speak, and more radicalized when they are not (see for example Lisa Andersen’s “Fulfilling Prophecies: State Policy and Islamist Radicalism” in Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?, ed. John L. Esposito [Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1997]). But don’t expect Bernard Lewis to pay any attention to this. So back to my guests, who surprisingly adhered to my take on this, in contrast to my dad, who insisted that “Muslims/Arabs are aggressive by nature”, and therefore the Western attempts to “pacify” them are justified and even necessary. To his credit, he did admit that the crimes of the imperialist forces/factions were unjust, but of course, he had to insert the infamous “BUT” after that sentence… Now, the whole debate was not academic at all, not even closely inspired by academic knowledge. Rather, it was inspired by “street/salon(??) discussion of politics”, where you have the chicken-seller, the fisherman, the shoe-shiner, and worst of all, the Ferrari-owner, all philosophizing about the dynamics of superpower/great power foreign policy, international relations, and so on. Not that my opinion is more valid than theirs (certainly I do not subscribe to such hierarchical/supremacist categorization systems), but there is an ocean between, on the one hand words backed by research, sound analyses, and actual knowledge of both theories and historical facts, and on the other hand perceptions of facts, assumptions of motives and intentions, and so on. Moving on, my dad put forth the thesis that while USA was in Iraq not out of any dedication to human rights or concern for the violation thereof by Saddam Hussein’s regime, its intentions were nevertheless altruistic, in that the Bush administration has planned to re-draw the map of the Middle East to allow for peaceful co-existence between the different ethnic and religious groups. This is a preposterous assertion, on a number of grounds, which I pointed out one by one: 1) The concept of altruism is pretty subjective, and not only that, but using it in the context of U.S foreign policy (in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), or what us activists used to write sarcastically on our banners, “killing for peace” [is like f*cking for virginity], is surely a travesty; 2) The problem with the so-called U.S perceptions that the (imperialist) re-drawing of the map drawn by European colonists/colonialists (or the toppling of minority-led regimes, and their replacement with majority-led regimes) would solve the long-standing issues and blood feuds between the various groups that make up the Middle East, is that it ignores the fact that any forceful drawing of borders that does not take into account the real concerns and grievances of the indigenous populations (and completely ignores aspects beyond ethnic/national/religious identities and/or divisions; for example, economic-territorial or strictly economic concerns) would leave a number of issues hanging in the air, institutionalize injustice in the name of justice (similar to the killing for peace concept), besides the fact that it would provide no guarantees that the relatively homogeneous newly-drawn states would not be at each others’ throats the minute the imperialist “protector” turns his back (perhaps this project does not stem from altruism after all, but from the role of protector and mediator that the U.S casts itself in, which would necessitate intervention and amounts to constant influence and interference), or that they would not embark on genocidal campaigns to rid the country of the minorities that might’ve been their previous oppressors, or against whom they might have historical grievances. For example, one has to consider the possibility that following the U.S withdrawal from Iraq, the Shi’ite regime in Iran might facilitate and even directly participate in the deportation and even mass-murder of Sunni Iraqis. Is this the U.S grand plan for “eternal peace” (ironic that these same people who are portrayed to be working on achieving peace are the very same people who believe in the inevitability and even desirability of an apocalyptic showdown)? My dad explains, yes, because there will be Saudi Arabia as a deterrence to such actions. I point out that this alleged deterrence is, at best, very shaky, and at worst, totally irrelevant and conducive to war, rather than peace; 3) As for the argument that this plan is merely the result of the failure of all attempts to reconcile east and west (one could go on for hours about the misleading orientalist oversimplification of the conflicts in the Middle East as a clash between east and west) – a prime example of which is, allegedly, the opening of the doors of immigration to Europe and North America for Muslims, with the hope that they would be “educated and illuminated” (!!) and that this would in the long run result in the de-radicalization of the countries they hail from (I fail to see how one can extrapolate in this manner), and which was turned down by Muslims, who “bit the hand that fed them” – what guarantees do we have that all the “killing for peace” would eventually result in the realization that war is ineffective and destructive, and would lead to the peaceful resolution of this clash (another problem with this is that it disguises unconditional surrender as the “realization that war is ineffective and destructive”) ?; 4) Interpretations of the U.S performance in Iraq are tailored based on the so-called plan to coerce Muslims into accepting that “war is ineffective and destructive”, which is based on the argument that “it should get worse before it gets better”. This is, according to the proponents of such a view, why the Sunni-Shi’ite clashes/war in Iraq are not necessarily a bad thing (indeed according to these people, they are necessary and welcome), at least from the perspective of the achievement of the long-term U.S aims (i.e. “peace”). This is a post-failure explanation and justification of a failure, and alters the facts of pre-failure/pre-quagmire rhetoric to adapt the “killing for peace” argument to the realities on the ground; 5) The complications in Iraq are said to be part and parcel of the very long process that would span decades, even centuries, until there is a surrender of Muslim will to the reality that they cannot transcend U.S/western hegemony and have to accomodate it (this is not the exact term used. For example, this submission to U.S hegemony is termed “co-existence” or “giving up on Jihadism”). However, on what bases are we to accept a plan that is based on a time-span that perhaps stretches much further than the actual life span of the U.S empire/hegemony would? How reasonable are expections and demands that we should accept a project on such a scale embarked on by a time-constrained entity? And what if, after all the “killing for peace”, the project shows no signs of achieving the stated aims? Last but not least, on what bases are we asked to believe that Jihadism is agreed upon by (let alone on the agenda of) Muslims across sects, boundaries, ethnic/national identities, political/personal/national interests, and levels of religiosity and extremism)?
These are some of the points I raised; of course, the discussion was so long and so messy (with, you guessed it, frequent interruptions, yelling matches, and whoever-is-louder-gets-to-have-the-stage competitions, Lebanese style of course) that I don’t remember all the arguments and counter-arguments. But suffice to say, a deafening silence reigned in the room following the challenge I mounted against these preposterous allegations and unsubstantiated claims of American altruism and good-will. At best, the only responses I received, for example when referring to the U.S-backed regime of the Shah in Iran, and the collaboration between the CIA, Mossad, and the Iranian Savak in the incarceration and systematic torture of thousands of dissidents, which was in response to the claims that the U.S was after peace and human rights and sharing of resources for the betterment of the world and our ability to survive the ecological/environmental challenges that await us (which are in turn the result of capitalist greed), were: “well, yes, these were horrible acts, BUT this doesn’t mean….”. Ah yes, the (in)famous “BUT”. So, after 3 coffees and 1 tea, I had had just enough of going in circles, as had my opponents (primarily my dad, since the guests were mostly nodding in approval of my arguments – though they did clarify on more than one occasion that they were “not saying this out of love for Muslims”, and that they “hate those Muslims more than anyone else”), who called for an end to the debate “because no one will convince the other”. Hah! What a climactic end to a 4-hour bout…
My apologies if my parantheses burdened your eyes with excessive strain… I am sure that if you listen to Bernard Lewis’s prescriptions all your problems will go away. Or so the White House thinks…
Fascism alive and kicking, eh?
Not that I had any doubts about it. A number of kilometers to our south there is a fascist regime, which constantly reminds us, with its violations of “our” airspace, that our fate is in its hands, that it is our God: it can allow us to live, or take life away from us with the push of a button. To make it worse, the whole region is home to a dozen or so totalitarian, fascist regimes, all of which were supported by USA (and Israel) at one time; some of them still are.
This entry was triggered by a column by Michael Coren that appeared in Saturday’s Toronto Sun, titled “We should nuke Iran”. Don’t ask me how it is that anyone could actually print such garbage. I am sure that by now, the folks at Little Green
Footballs Fascists are devouring the pages of Toronto Sun for a taste of more columns of this sort.
Coren begins the article by a classical logical fallacy, dismissing those who might disagree with his thesis as unknowledgeable. Then he “boldly” drops the bomb, arguing that a nuclear bomb should be dropped on Iran. But don’t panic, hear it out, the man is actually quite sensible (sic) and assures us that there would be “a limited and tactical use of nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s military facilities and its potential nuclear arsenal.” If you aren’t reassured, you are not knowledgeable. But since Coren’s assumption is that he is knowledgeable, we can assume that he is aware of Israel’s real (rather than potential) nuclear arsenal. Why is he so obsessed with Iran’s potential nuclear arsenal, then? The answer is simple. For Coren and millions of fascists like him, there are two definitions under fascism in the dictionary. There are “good fascists”, and those are the people who massacre a Canadian family visiting relatives in south Lebanon. Those are supported by the enlightened and civilized West and most importantly by Tories chairman Stephen Harper. Those are also the ones who oppress women, cut the hands of thieves, throw dissenters into dungeons, and execute homosexuals. They are loved by the media, and their acts – “massacres” always placed in quotation marks, making a mockery of the lives of those who have perished by their WMD – are hailed as strategic necessity. Then there are the “bad fascists”, and those are the ones who murder an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist. This necessitates international investigation, talks on nuclear non-proliferation, a clean-up of the human rights record, and so on. This will steal the headlines for weeks, months, years, whereas the aftermath of the merciful acts of the “good fascists” will be mentioned once or twice (if it’s your lucky day). They will never be on the headlines. Hockey, after all, is second to none. Well, none other than a “bad fascist” headline.
Coren then argues that dropping a nuclear bomb is “the only response that this repugnant and acutely dangerous political entity will understand.” There are a number of problems with this statement. First, has Coren tested all the other possible scenarios, and if so, would he enlighten us as to how he arrived to the conclusion that they would fail? Second, the Iranian regime might be “repugnant”, but the Israeli regime is no less repugnant. The Saudi regime is no less repugnant. The Egyptian regime is no less repugnant. The list goes on. It seems Coren is a man with an agenda, and from his complete disinteredness in the repugnancy of a number of regimes, which by far surpass the Iranian regime in their crimes, it seems that this agenda has nothing whatsoever to do with human rights. What, then, is Coren’s agenda? The answer to the question is in that very sentence. The Iranian regime is considered an “acutely dangerous political entity”. There are no clarifications as to whom it is dangerous for. The Saudis? The Sunni fundamentalists? Turkey? The Iranian/Persian people??? Or is Coren solely concerned with the threat it poses to the sectarian patron-protégé order in Lebanon (via HezbAllah), Israel, and the U.S/allied influence in and military hegemony over the region (facilitated by bases in many a dictatorial – but not repugnant by Coren’s standards – Arab regime)? Hard to tell, really, as Coren strangely does not see fit to elaborate.
Unrelenting a human rights and world peace advocate as Coren is, he terms the nuclear massacre he dreams of a “tragedy”, practically echoing what Shimon Peres once said referring to the Armenian Holocaust, “It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through, but not a genocide.” Yes, he says, people will die, “[b]ut not many”. A consolation. The lives it will save will be in the millions, he argues. The logic has been accorded legitimacy for centuries. What is the burning of a few thousand [heretics] at the stake when the aim is to save the souls of millions? The end justifies the means. Machiavellian ethics to the bone. Literally. The “civilized world” against the world of barbarians who must be subdued and civilized against their will. For their own good. Or so it goes. This is not fascism. This is liberation. And we all know that there are no ifs or buts when it comes to killing in the name of liberation (from whatever it might be, real or perceived). Coren argues that it would be more appropriate to question if there is any sensible alternative (and he assures us the answer will be no – but does not elaborate) than to be disgusted at the barbarism advocated. Even as he drums the tunes of war, he claims that the Iranian regime is obsessed with waging war against its perceived enemies. Its motives are unquestionable, he insists, yet he fails to elaborate as to how he arrived to that conclusion. Something tells me that logical argumentation is one of Mr. Coren’s weakest points. In yet another demonstration of his double standards, he points out that Iran spends billions developing missiles and weapons. Yet what is he implying by stating this fact? That Iran should be prohibited from doing so, but not Israel? That the Iranian regime becomes a dangerous political entity once it adopts such aspirations, but not the Israeli government? How does the Iranian regime differ from Israel? Israel’s human rights record is quite damning, more damning than that of Iran. The only real difference that I can think of is that Iran has used verbal threats and so far acted on none, whereas Israel has threatened a lot and remained true to these threats, massacring and destroying anything that stood in its way. The only fault of many of its victims was that they were moving. A country that is afraid of its own shadow can claim to have achieved victory but will know it will never win.
In a predictable albeit disgusting comparison to the Nazis, he argues that Iran, unlike the Nazi regime back in the 30s, has no “aggressive enemies” in the region. This is mind-boggling. It is evident that Coren has tried too hard to bring Nazism into the article somehow, however stupid it might actually sound. It seems that Mr. Coren, who places great emphasis on fighting fascism, needs a lesson or two in Nazi instigation, aggression, and occupation. But perhaps that would hit too close to home. Israel, after all, is considered a civilized nation. Surely the concept of lebensraum (living space), which formed the core of Nazi ideology and driving force, is an inalienable right? Moreover, isn’t threatening to nuke Iran an aggressive enmity enough to convince it that it needs the nukes to begin with? How would anyone in his/her right mind interpret the double standards that Coren endorses?
Then comes a ritual bashing of Ahmadinajad. The problem is that he controls a brutal police state (bad fascist compared to the good fascist leaders of, say, Egypt, or KSA, or Jordan), “finances international terror” and “provokes bloody [?!] wars in foreign countries” (bad fascist compared to the good fascists who practice and/or fund terrorism all over the world, from Palestine to Iraq to Afghanistan to Vietnam to Grenada and on and on it goes; or maybe I am geographically ignorant – perhaps Mr. Coren would explain to me where Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Grenada, and a whole lot of other countries are located in relation to the United States of America). He then argues, parroting the racist claim often voiced by Israelis that “Arabs only understand the language of force”, that Iran and its allies (only good fascists are supposed to have allies) “only listen to power and threat”. From the safety and luxury of his house in Canada, Mr. Coren beats the drums of war and decides that it is better (for the Middle Easterners) to undergo limited suffering than for everyone to suffer in five years. Somehow I doubt that had he been sitting anywhere in the Middle East he would have been advocating nuclear armageddon.
He closes (I do not want to say concludes, because there is no conclusion as there is no logical sequence of argumentation; there is only one idea, and everything else is manipulated in support of that) the article by directing a cheap shot at “post Christian churches” (?!) and “the Marxists” (as if there is only one interpretation of Marx and no diversity in Marxist movements). Yet another instance of fallacious reasoning. An example of ad hominem fit to be printed in a philosophy / logic 101 textbook. The “same sort” (same sort???) of people “moaned and condemned in 1938”, he points out, in another reference to the Nazis. I only wish that, for all his obsession with the Nazis and for the sake of his alleged dedication to fighting fascism, Mr. Coren would take a closer look at the history of WWII. Had he done so before philosophizing about the Nazi regime, he would’ve heard of the appeasements of Hitler by the conservative Chamberlain, or of Operation Barbarossa and its implications. But perhaps I am expecting too much of a fascist who talks about “post-Christian churches” and fantasizes about apocalypse.