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Monthly Archives: September 2010

He was certainly a busy fellow in New York.  Banafsheh passed this on.  He met with a hundred

leaders and representatives of anti-war, labor, alternative media and Iranian and Palestinian solidarity organizations. Among the participants were Sarah Martin, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Margaret Sarfehjooy, board member of the Minneapolis-based Women Against Military Madness, former attorney general Ramsey Clark, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Sara Flounders from the International Action Center, Brian Becker of the ANSWER coalition, Ramona Africa of the Free Mumia Coalition and Amiri Baraka, poet and activist.

No doubt Ron Radosh will deconstruct this list, but at first blush it seems to be the Old Left (Ms Sarfehjooey, for example, who is a nurse in Minneapolis, recently participated in what Workers World called the biggest nurses’ strike in US history) plus whatever form of fanaticism Ramsey Clark represents, and they proclaimed themselves well satisfied with their conversation.  Ahmadinejad agreed with everything they said, and then called for common action against the warmongers in America.

Perhaps the most striking statement from a participant points to Ahmadinejad’s ambitious agenda:  to organize Americans on behalf of Iran.

Margaret Sarfehjooy reported, “I think the meeting was important because we had the opportunity to meet with so many dedicated grassroots activists from all over the country and share our hopes for peace and justice with the Iranian people through their president and his wife.”

As if the “dedicated grassroots activists” would not otherwise have had the chance to meet…maybe the Iranians even covered the activists’ expenses?

I wonder who else was brought to New York in order to coordinate action with Tehran…

Ahmadinejad Charms the Yalies

September 27th, 2010 - 1:07 pm

Thanks to Hillary Leverett, the Yale prof and female member of the well known Flynt and Hillary Iran appeasement team.  She set it up, and–according to the Yale Daily News account–neither she nor any of her students seemed to notice that Iran kills Americans most every day.

Leverett said she thinks students took away from the meeting in New York that Ahmadinejad is “not a crazy, irrational leader,” and whether students agree with him or not, he has a strategy for Iran. She added that she also hopes students understand “that it will take a lot more from the U.S. if we want to have a real policy of engagement.”

Not all the students were charmed.

Ahmadinejad also spoke about his vision for an approach to international relations governed by justice and righteousness, said Osman Haneef GRD ’11, another member of the class.

“In some sense, justice in the international system sounds great, but not the kind of justice he is looking for,” he said.

More good news: the females in the group didn’t cover their heads.  Have a look:

Photo detail

Yale should advertise this sort of thing:  “for a mere 40-50 thousand dollars a year, your kids can meet the worst people in the world, guided by professors who think it’s mainly our fault.”

The Iranian Mess (UPDATED)

September 26th, 2010 - 7:50 pm

The chimpanzee has returned to Tehran, where he is unlikely to have as much fun as he did in New York. Thanks to the New York Post, we now know that in between blaming America for the 9/11 terrorist attack, Ahmadinejad had an unannounced dinner with Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan. Wouldn’t you love to have a transcript of their conversation?

One will get you ten that there were other unannounced meetings as well. One of the supreme leader’s favorite newspapers has announced the arrival in Tehran of a delegation from Oman to facilitate the release of the remaining two American hikers from imprisonment. If that is true, the deal was undoubtedly hammered out during Ahmadinejad’s sojourn in New York.

Back home, he is facing a new round of strikes in the bazaars, where the gold sellers have shut down their shops around the country, from Tehran to Torbat Haydariyeh, Nayshabour, Sabzevar, Isfahan, Tabriz and Shiraz, to protest against the rising taxes. And he is still in the midst of a battle over the political system; he claims that he is superior to Parliament, and that he is in charge of foreign policy.  The elected representatives reject the first, and the supreme leader will not accept the second. So the chimpanzee is now fighting on three fronts, as well as facing a mounting barrage of criticism from the opposition Green Movement.

You may recall that the green leaders feared they would be arrested when Ahmadinejad returns from his boffo performance at the United Nations, and in order to impress the leadership with the strength of their mass following, they called on the people to chant every night from their rooftops.  The chants of “Allah o Akbar” and “Death to the Dictator” have been very loud, and Mousavi and Karroubi have hammered away at the illegitimacy of the regime.  Will the regime risk an open confrontation with millions of their own people? And if it does, how will the people respond? Nobody really knows, and in all likelihood there is a lot of heated rhetoric in the corridors of power at this very moment, between those who fear that a direct move against Mousavi and Karroubi would result in a very violent civil war, and those who fear that failure to move would produce the implosion of the regime.

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Iranian Nights

September 23rd, 2010 - 9:04 am

The Green Movement is calling for the people of Iran to support Green leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi by chanting “God is great” from the rooftops every night at ten o’clock.  Mousavi and Karroubi believe that they will be arrested when President Ahmadinejad returns from New York later this week.

Karroubi and Mousavi have worried about this before, but there is some evidence they may be right this time.  The chief prosecutor has promised to arrest and prosecute them.  Their offices and home have been ransacked and even set on fire;  Karroubi’s son has said his father was convinced that regime thugs were seriously trying to kill him, and Karroubi responded with a letter to former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Experts’ Council (that has the power to remove the supreme leader for cause), pointing out the many failures of Supreme Leader Khamenei and the unconstitutional powers amassed by the Revolutionary Guards.  Meanwhile, all telephone lines to Karroubi’s house have been cut, and would-visitors, even national heroes, have been arrested and interrogated.

This does seem portentious, and the Green leaders have issued a warning.  “should the Iranian regime be foolish enough to in any form or shape imprison the Movement’s leaders, the repercussions will indeed [be] “bitter” and painful for Iran’s un-Islamic rulers.”  And the chants in support of Mousavi and Karroubi were certainly impressive.

Meanwhile, there was an explosion on a military base in Mahabad.  The Intelligence Minister announced that the guilty parties have been identified and that he hopes they will soon be brought to justice.  This comes after earlier announcements that identified the guilty as Kurds, then Israelis, then Americans.

Somebody on Twitter pointed out that the base had been under tight military control for several days before the explosion, preparing for the celebrations of the end of the Iran-Iraq War.  So the regime would do well to look within its own ranks when such events take place.  I think the supreme leader knows this, and fears the size and commitment of the opposition.

Which is why, if Mousavi and Karroubi are indeed arrested in a few days, it will be yet another sign of the desperation of the regime.  Stay tuned.

Iran Sinks into the Muck

September 14th, 2010 - 4:45 pm

It is hard to know where to begin with Iran these days. Many commentators are telling us that there is considerable “infighting” within the regime, which is certainly true. But so far I have not seen anyone point out that these conflicts are not merely political. We are witnessing, I believe, a struggle for survival, both within the regime and between the regime and the opposition. All those explosions — big explosions — at the natural gas pipelines running from Iran to Turkey, to Russia, and to Afghanistan cannot possibly be accidents. The latest took place last night (I haven’t seen press reports yet, perhaps because Ahmadinejad has ordered oil and gas facilities to censor any news about disasters), two of them:  one at a petrochemical plant on an offshore island that destroyed a polyethylene plant and pipeline, the other against a pipeline from Bandar Abbas to Bushehr.

Moreover, there have been some open gunfights here and there, with casualties running well over 100. To round out this very ugly picture, the nastiest elements of the regime have been murdering their opponents. If you follow the reports, you will see that many people are being executed every day, and there are events far more terrible than those that have been reported.  In the past five months, some seven hundred “dissident” Revolutionary Guards and Basiji have been executed under the guise of “drug smugglers,” and there is even worse than that:  in the past few days about 30 dissident RGs in the Mashhad prison were told they had been forgiven, and would be reintegrated into the ranks.  They were put on a bus and fed food and (poisoned) drinks.  When they passed out they were dumped into a mass grave and buried, more or less alive.  Astonishingly someone saw it, and reported it, and some fifty security officials are now being interrogated.

Other very obvious signs of the disintegration of regime coherence abound– such as the repeated calls from the Supreme Leader and the people around him for “unity” (a sure sign they don’t have any).  Take, for example, the recent defections of Iranian diplomats based overseas. The two latest ones (one in Brussels, the other in Helsinki) were not merely disgruntled diplomats leaving their country’s foreign service; both proclaimed themselves followers of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s Green Movement, and both forecast that others would soon follow them into open opposition. We shall see.

And more:  the divisions are so intense that Parliament has been closed for fifteen days, on top of the Ramadan holiday.

As most everyone has pointed out, the Sarah Shourd affair also shows deep fissures within the regime. First, Ahmadinejad ordered her release. Most likely, he wanted to take her on his airplane to New York, where he could present her to American authorities and then go on to meet with Pres. Obama. The Iranian judiciary put a stop to that, asserted their authority over all prisoners, and insisted she would stand trial along with her traveling companions. Then came the story of bail, a fantastically high bail of half a million dollars.  In any case, it’s wonderful to see her free.

There are lots of unanswered questions, as usual in these matters. Did they compel her to sign some sort of confession? And what about the bail payment? On the face of it, any such payment would fly in the face of sanctions against Iranian banks, so one wants to know who paid it, and if there was any American complicity.

There may well be a missing link — call it the story of the other Sarah. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal today, Sarah Levinson laments that she is soon to be married and cannot share her joy with her father, Robert, the former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran three a and a half years ago. I have been told — although I can’t verify it — that Robert Levinson died in an Iranian prison a few months ago, and that the American government has come to that conclusion as well.

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How to Fight Them

September 5th, 2010 - 7:32 pm

We have to fight them, because their radical imams, mosques, and schools threaten us; they constitute an assembly line for the next generation of home-grown American jihadi killers. But we can’t ask the courts to silence them, because we want to maintain our 1st Amendment rights.

How, then, do we fight? There are three basic lines of attack. The first is to openly contest their odious doctrines and practices.  As Manda Ervin said here yesterday, speaking in the name of Muslim women:

We want America to treat Islam like it treats Christianity and Judaism, and to stop exempting Muslims from requirements imposed on others. We want Islam to be challenged by the same questioning, criticism, and control that is applied to other religions. Please stop pampering Islam to appease the terrorists and dictators.

Amazingly, a lot of people act as if it is somehow improper for members of one religion to challenge basic doctrines of other religions, but not only is it proper, it is not nearly as rare as you might imagine. And a lot of what we want to challenge isn’t doctrine, but practice.

Take this fascinating story for example. It turns out that the Mormons have the somewhat unusual practice of retroactively baptizing dead people. I don’t find this objectionable, any more than the Baptists’ zeal for converting live Jews, but there are many Jews who are upset by the practice, especially in the case of Jews murdered in the Nazi death camps. They denounced the “proxy baptism,” and went to the Mormons to make their case. Longish story, but the Mormons have twice reacted with sympathy and promised not to do it. There are lots of such cases, involving various religious groups. As Manda says, it’s un-American to have special, kid-gloves standards for any American religious community, including Muslims.

Indeed, many of their practices have no Koranic justification, above all the way they treat their women.  So far as I know, the Koran doesn’t require women to be covered up, and there are certainly Islamic communities in the Middle East and Asia where women dress “normally.” We have every reason to challenge this, instead of granting special exemptions to Muslims. And we do just that, to our shame. Take a look at the State Department’s instructions for submitting a passport application. In numbered paragraph #4 you will discover that while most folks have to submit photographs with their head uncovered, this does not apply to those who cover themselves for religious reasons. This is nonsense. This means that some man can show up at the airport in a burqa, and the security people can’t routinely match him with the (woman’s) passport he’s carrying. Indeed, we should emulate the French and forbid women to cover themselves in public.

And of course we should relentlessly condemn their misogyny, especially the several “honor killings” which, if we are bound and determined to prosecute evil acts as “hate crimes,” should be at the top of the list.

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Bozo Was a Marine! (and Lee Trevino, and…)

September 2nd, 2010 - 5:19 pm

Every now and then I drop by the Naval Institute web page for enlightenment;  when you’ve got Marines in the family you’ve got to pretend to be smart, after all.  I found this very cool article about guys-you-didn’t-know-were-marines.

It turns out we’re surrounded.

And not for the first time.  One day, in Reagan’s White House, i looked around and realized:  i share an office with Col North, a Marine.  The National Security Adviser is Col McFarlane, Marine.  SecState is Shultz, Chief of Staff is Baker, both Marines…

Remember:  in our country today, the military is the best institution, and the Marines are the best of the best.