Friday, June 03, 2005

Antiwar.com's comments about "Iran Liberty Walk"

Blogging...Antiwar.com style!

Here’s a short piece I wrote about this ultra conservative website some time ago:

Iran in “Antiwar.com”

What exactly is meant by being “anti-war”, or “pro-peace” for that matter, I confess I don’t know. I do know however that the majority of readers visiting Anti-war.com do so to read “alternative” viewpoints on the war against terrorism. This “progressive” site is linked to by the overwhelming majority of other “Leftist” websites and is quite popular among “peace activists”. Readers, particularly the more vulnerable younger readers, visit the site believing they’ll find writers genuinely concerned with the peace and welfare of people around the world. Yet, this anticipation is a good illustration of being blinded by one’s own senses for, obviously, calling an article or a writer humanistic or progressive requires a better reason than the title of the website where they can be found. Calling a writer progressive requires that one first read his or her works!

Iranians visiting websites such as Counterpunch, Antiwar and Znet can grasp that the same “Left” that endlessly vilified the government of Iran in the 1970’s---paving the way, by way of shaping public opinion, for powers that be to set in motion, and subsequently justify, the Islamic-communist revolution of 1979---continues to be either signally passive towards the genocidal crimes of the Islamic Republic against the people of Iran, or provides analyses or submits proposals that accommodate the interests of that barbaric regime. These Iranians are not puzzled for instance as to why, during the bloody 2003 student uprising, a “progressive” organ called Counterpunch would publish an article called “Keep Your Hands Off the Islamic Republic, Please!” by a Kam Zarrabi*. These Iranians are not puzzled as to why the Leftist Tompaine.com (“The best progressive insight and action…all day”) would ridicule President Bush’s proposal for regime change in Iran only to speak approvingly of the Council on Foreign Relations and Zbigniew Brzenski’s call for appeasement.

In a previous post I wrote about Stephen Kerr’s defense of the genocidal anti-Iranian Islamic Republic in Znet. Today we’ll focus on Roger Howard of Antiwar.com.

In an article titled “Dealing With Iran’s Nuclear Challenge” (June 22, 2004) he recommends a number of steps to “enhance nuclear cooperation” on the part of the Islamic Republic. Considering the likelihood of the Islamic Republic being reported to the UN Security Council in the coming months, he argues that as there is neither sufficient evidence to incriminate the Iranian Taliban in building atomic bombs, nor likely that economic sanctions would be imposed, the threat of such sanctions might instead be more effective if it stands “alongside some other measures.” What are these measures or steps that Howard recommends?

He writes,

A clear American acknowledgement that Tehran has legitimate security interests of its own would, for example, help the mullahs put aside their nuclear ambitions, even if it is an exaggeration to say that Iran wants a nuclear weapon just to deter any future aggressor: considerations of national prestige, for example, also come into play.”

Iran certainly does have legitimate security interests. These interests, however, should not be confused with the interests of the barbaric Islamist regime that has been ruling Iran since the overthrow of the Iranian government. Substituting “the Islamic Republic” with “Tehran” will not do, Mr. Howard. The interests of turbaned clerics stoning Iranians to death, and their lackeys such as Ayatullah Ebadi who sing their praises in Oslo, Paris, and Toronto, Howard should not feign ignorance, differ from the interests of their victims, who are the people of Iran. If the Islamic Republic has one “legitimate” security interest that desperately needs acknowledgment from the United States is that it be allowed to remain in power. It wants a clear American acknowledgement that leaders such as President George W. Bush discard the idea of regime change. Also, if Howard believes that the Iranian Taliban is the least concerned with Iran’s national prestige, then he knows next to nothing about Iran and Iranians. Iranian national prestige, Mr. Howard, will only be restored when this barbaric, bloodthirsty, and anti-Iranian regime is overthrown.

Howard continues that Washington could make just such an acknowledgement by withdrawing or scaling down some of its military presence in the region, and answering the Islamic Republic’s accusations of influencing IAEA, the latter for the benefit of those proclaiming that the IAEA is either under US pressure or a tool in the hands of Great Satan. “A fitting American response,” he writes, “would not only quiet demands for UN sanctions but also avoid any unnecessary criticism of [the Islamic Republic] that fosters the impression of implacable U.S. hostility.” He writes, “American administrators in Iraq could, for example, drop their frequent accusations about Iranian ‘interference,’ none of which has been backed with evidence and most of which are at odds with the views of their British counterparts…” What Howard, in effect, is proposing I’ll leave to the judgment of the reader herself. I will only point out that the article ends with the following observation:

Economic leverage on Iran may perhaps be enough to meet the nuclear challenge. But looking at the bigger picture will much improve its chances.”

The last measure recommended by Roger Howard in the “progressive” Anti-war.com website, in my opinion, is the most eye opening of all. To further avoid any “unnecessary criticism” of [the Islamic Republic] that fosters the impression of hostility, Roger Howard concludes by recommending:

The U.S. and the European powers will also need to tone down their rhetoric about human rights inside Iran.”

A real internationalist! A believer in the universality of human rights! Incidentally, readers may want to search the archives of these “progressive” websites for articles still vilifying the Shah and the "horrendous" government which these Islamists and their "leftist" allies overthrew.

Pointing out that EU's policy of "critical dialogue"--- which he claims has made Europe's diplomatic/economic talks since 1995 dependent on discussion of human rights---has achieved nothing, he infers that outsiders are powerless to influence the Islamic Republic’s domestic policies. Mr. Howard fails to point out that despite (or because of) their lip service for human rights since 1995, continued violations of human rights did not prevent the European states from dealing with, and profiting from the Islamic Republic. In short, critical dialogue achieved nothing because it was a farce: Europe's diplomatic and economic intercourse was dependent on discussion of human rights on paper only.

He writes,

The legal ban in December 2002 upon the barbaric custom of stoning some criminals to death is trumpeted by diplomats as a triumph of the EU's approach, but it is misleading since the practice was virtually dead in any case.”

Taking the Shiite Taliban at its official word, Howard, like other supporters of the Islamic Republic, does not provide evidence that the practice was “virtually” (surly a most abominable use of this adverb) dead in any case. Had he written with less haste, had he consulted with the regime’s opponents, or had he consulted the Islamic Republic’s own newspapers**, he would have realized that stonings have naturally continued since December 2002. Furthermore, that the Islamic Republic can carry out such acts in secret is not even considered.

He concludes:

Any such focus on Iran's dire human rights record instead fosters Iran's paranoia and allows Western criticism of the matters that we can influence – such as the nuclear issue – to be portrayed as ‘a calculated conspiracy’ against the Islamic Republic instead of legitimate concern for our own national interest.”

A conclusion also reached by the peace activist Zbigniew Brzezinski, most Democrats and other peace loving folks in the Council on Foreign Relations. An “alternative” view indeed!


* http://www.counterpunch.org/zarrabi06282003.html
** Quds newspaper. November 11, 2003: Report on the sentencing to death by stoning of four men. In fact, in November 2003 the Islamist "judiciary" initiated an amendment to existing laws, detailing how to carry out stoning and crucifixion!

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