Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Iran Discussion: A Little Reality Intrudes

I noticed some interesting Iran reporting this morning on NPR -- namely, reporting that acknowledged the following facts: -- Iran's hard-line president is not the only, or even the most powerful, voice in Iran. Khameinei is as important (actually more important), and he's much more pragmatic. -- Even Iran's president has been, along with the clerics that hold the actual power, spending the past few months making overtures to the US. This is in striking contrast to the usual inflexible-madman image of him in the US media. -- The Bush Administration's response to these overtures has been a joke. Matt Yglesias, subbing for Josh Marshall this week over at TPM, has also noted how the US media is suddenly giving fuller voice to what its most frequently-viewed/heard outlets have for months been unwilling to mention:

It seems to me that this has been pretty clear for a while, but now it's explicit -- the Iranian government wants to engage in talks about the various US-Iranian issues, including Teheran's nuclear program. If you're concerned with things like America's interests, not getting lots of people killed, and preventing Iran from going nuclear you'd take them up on the offer. I honestly don't think this is even remotely a hard question. It might not work, of course, but even that would leave us better off than we are now as the weird kid sulking in the corner refusing to talk to Billy. Nevertheless, there's no mistaking the fact that just as Iran has been trying to at least set the stage for possibly ratcheting tensions with the United States down, there's been a fairly concerted effort in the American press to ratchet things up. The folks doing the ratcheting have, it's clear, some friends and some influence inside the administration. People need to understand this and be clear with themselves. This is not a group of people primarily concerned with Iran's nuclear program -- anyone who thought that would be open to some negotiating. This is a group of people primarily concerned -- for whatever reason, no doubt the reasons are mixed and vary somewhat -- with continuing and intensifying US-Iranian conflict. It's not clear how influential this faction is or will be in the president's decision-making, but those of us on the outside are either with them or against them. As recent posts from Ivo Daalder and Michael Levi indicate, there's no reason to think Democrats have anything to fear from standing up for engagement rather than war. The real political risk is that staying silent lets the other side shape people's understand of what's happening so deeply that it becomes harder to speak up later. The odds that this whole situation somehow won't come up in the midterms are low. Democrats are going to have to deal with it, and it's better to start sooner than later.
It's really very simple. All any Democrat addressing this -- or ANY -- issue need say, is the following: "Bush has screwed up everything he's touched for the past five years. What makes you think he'll do any better here?"

It would appear that someone at NPR has been reading Juan Cole who made most of those points about a month ago. Nice to see some actual facts on our most august broadcast newsource for a change. I still hate them.

"All any Democrat addressing this -- or ANY -- issue need say, is the following:

"Bush has screwed up everything he's touched for the past five years. What makes you think he'll do any better here?"

If I might put in a word for my moring post? I think you might like it.
This is the critical point to understand, PW-- that power in Iran is distributed far more than it is in the United States, which is governed by Decidership.

Olvlzl, I got a good grin out of the Chomsky comment on your blog: "I don't have a right to be discouraged."

It's true, and it just goes to show you how deeply religious that entrenched and unrepentant agnostic Chomsky is.

Theologians classify negative emotions as a kind of sin because they subtract from this thing called life. When Chomsky says he has no "right" to be discouraged, he has defined his Constitution, his Kingdom, as one in which Mercy rules over self-indulgence.
Unrest across Iran, please visit:

Support the Iranian People and Spread Awareness!
The Kiani flag, Aryamehr?

Forgive my uncertain grasp of Iranian politics: does this mean you want a return of the Shah?

Whatever the Iranian people want to do, as long as it happens inside their borders, is ok with me.

But it would be tragic if they allowed frustration with the troglodytes currently running the country to turn them to accepting American aid in overthrowing it. It was Iranians, acting with American money, who overthrew Mossadegh and put the nation's hands into chains. Absolute power leads to absolute corruption, and Savak led to the current Islamic Republic.

When one reads statements such as one finds on like "This weblog is to serve the Neo-con American Right-wing Zionist/Christian Imperialist Conspiracies against the Iranian Mullahcracy " it's not especially reassuring.
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