The common media reactions to Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s speech at the U.N., Columbia University President Bollinger’s introduction to the President Ahmadinejad’s talk on campus, President Bush’s remarks at the U.N. on Iran, and Sen. Lieberman’s sense-of-the-congress bill on Iran are all of a piece : threatening, ill-informed, insensitive, churlish, untrue and the first salvos of another American war.
One does not have to agree with any of President Ahmedenijad’s views, or his government’s actions against dissenters/critics in Iran to state that the president of Columbia University and his Dean came out looking boorish and intemperate yesterday. Why invite someone to speak when you are going to insult him with such vitriol before he even had a chance to speak his mind? What kind of “civilized” behavior is this…from a President of a well known university towards the President of a nation with a history that goes back six thousand years ? How do you think this will play out in Iran, in the Middle East, in the Muslim world, in fact in most of the rest of the world which holds the U.S. in such low esteem?
Just this week Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has made an impassioned appeal to his fellow senators, declaring that the Lieberman-Kyl amendment on Iran should be “withdrawn” because the “proposal is Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream.” Webb cautioned that the “cleverly-worded sense of the Congress” could be “interpreted” to “declare war” on Iran.
One remembers the precursor to the U.S. invasion of Iraq being similarly uttered shrill accusations leveled at one Saddam Hussein. He was demonized as another “Hitler”, accused of possessing non-existent weapons of mass destruction and linked with al-Qaeda sans evidence.
For the record, Iran’s President is not a “dictator”. He was duly elected in a two-level election in 2005 by 62% of the electorate, slightly more than the margin of “victory” in President Bush’s two elections. Several groups were involved in the elections in Iran unlike the only two, nearly indistinguishable corporate parties that have controlled the U.S. government since independence. In the last two presidential elections in the U.S., serious irregularities were reported, in Florida and Ohio that worked to benefit George Bush’s victory. In the former, in 2000, an inordinately large number of African-American voters were illegally disenfranchised. In 2004, the electronic voting machines in Ohio were suspect and conveniently unavailable in key precincts. As to President Ahmadinejad being “cruel and petty”, I would suggest that a current resident of Washington, D.C more eminently qualifies for this epithet.
Incidentally, for those who have forgotten or never known, the U.S. imposed an oppressive dictator (the Shah) on the Iranian people in 1953 in a CIA-supported coup that overthrew a democratically elected leader, Mossadegh. The U.S. kept the Shah in power for two decades before the Iranian revolution. With regard to Iran being a sponsor of terrorism, the biggest perpertrator of state terrorism is the USA; remember Vietnam, Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mozambique, Iraq, Afghanistan… In an amazing display of gall, Iran was accused of violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by President Bush. Have Americans already forgotten the tortures at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo? The indefinite imprisonment of suspected “terrorists” with no hope of recourse to a fair trial? The continual erosion of personal freedoms and privacy rights in the U.S.? Even habeas corpus, the signpost of a democratic society is under threat here. And the U.S. refuses to accept the rule of international law.
The rudeness and disrespect shown to the Iranian leader elected democratically is a petulant exhibition of the arrogance and stupidity of the US. What made this even more amazing is that such moronic and boorish behaviour was forthcoming from the president and dean of a prestigious Ivy-league university. They both insisted on President Ahmadenijad answering their rapid-fire questions and then mocked him for not replying the way they wanted to hear! Today’s America, from President Bush to President Bollinger and farther down, is woefully ignorant of the world. Its media is a joke with newspapers, TV news and radio talk-shows unwilling to challenge the daily dose of lies and exaggerations from the spin masters in Washington.
President Ahmadinejad is attempting a dialogue, which is more than one can say for America’s leaders. Iran was one of the first nations that sent sympathies and condolences to the U.S. after the 9/11 attack. But by the very next day Bush had labeled Iran as an axis-of-evil country even though most of Al-Qaeda’s members and finances came from the feudal dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, a long-standing American ally with close ties to the Bush/Cheney Whitehouse. Some might even remember the bin-Laden family members who were spirited out of the U.S. soon after 9/11 when the airspace over the entire country was closed to traffic. The Iranian President’s acts disdaining or condoning the punishment of homosexual Iranians is certainly to be criticized.
His government’s harsh treatment of political dissidents and harassment of intellectuals and media that differ with the official discourse needs to be excoriated. But can they stand comparison to the daily dose of death and destruction wrought in Iraq and Afghanistan by the pompous purveyor of extreme violence in the White House?
American generals have recently stated that there is no hard evidence to prove the oft-repeated accusation of President Bush and Senator Lieberman that Iran has supplied weapons to the insurgents in Iraq and the Taleban in Afghanistan fighting American troops. The “caveman” that Sen. Lieberman might want his President to focus his attention on lives unmolested in a real cave (apparently) along the borders of a country ruled by (surprise!) a favorite American supported dictator, President Musharraf of Pakistan. “Cavemen” can also be seen to reside in Washington’s corridors of power, refusing to acknowledge the very serious threats to peace posed by the relentless violence unleashed on the beleaguered and impoverished Palestinians by their bosom pals in Israel, and by their own support for American thuggish behavior around the world.
Iran has not attacked any of its neighbors. Regional domination and control of energy resources is the goal of the U.S. That is why the Bush-Cheney administration invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and are now threatening Iran. It has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear programme. The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), a grouping of NGOs, intellectuals and writers opposed to the war in Iraq, accused the United States of causing more deaths in Iraq than ousted president Saddam Hussein.
For twenty-five years Iran was under the Shah’s dictatorship, backed by the USA. It began a nuclear programme at that time. But it is not Iran or its nuclear programme that is a threat to peace in the Middle East or the broader world. It is the world’s self-proclaimed policeman and arbiter of right and wrong, with its massive arsenal used in waging perpetual wars from 140 military bases around the globe, and its powerful, “immaculate” ally, Israel that are the real and constant dangers. The latter is equipped with a huge arsenal of conventional (supplied by the U.S.) and nuclear (ignored by the U.S.) weapons primed for use. Israel has amassed an arsenal that includes biological and chemical weapons.
Any weapons and ammunition expended in its undending conflicts with the imprisoned Palestinians or neighboring Arabs is immediately replenished by American taxpayers, to the tune of $3 billion a year. It has a disgraceful record of 60 years of a brutal, illegal occupation of Palestinian territory that exceeds that of the most odious regime since WW II — the white apartheid government of South Africa. It wages devastating wars against neighbors (like Lebanon) and exhibits unremitting hostility to concluding a fair and genuine peace with the Palestinians and the Arabs. It is immune from sanctions for its aggression thanks to the automatic American veto at the U.N. to any resolution critical of Israel that requires it to abide by humanitarian principles and the Geneva Conventions.
The influence and power of the military-industrial complex and the Israel lobby together with a compliant media all but guarantees that there is little possibility that Americans or their leaders will confront the real dangers to peace in the Middle East. Any legitimate criticism of Israel’s appalling violence directed at Palestinians is squelched by characterizing it to be “anti-Semitic”.
The greatest threat in the world is the American war machine driven by the insatiable greed of the corporate capitalists in the U.S. It has a close ally in this enterprise in the oil-rich Middle East in Israel. The president of Iran talks peace and Bush II talks of war. No wonder most of the world considers the U.S. and Israel the biggest dangers to peace.