Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Adding insult to injury

This is a transcript of radio KRSI’s “interview” with Michael Ledeen, conducted by Hamid Arabzadeh (University of California, Irvine) on Friday Oct 21, and placed here for the visitors to notice the total absence of a single comment or criticism from the interviewer questioning Ledeen’s intentions or hinting at his real intentions. Nevertheless, listening to the interview has the merit of exposing the gap between Ledeen’s replies and Arabzadeh’s “interpretation” of those replies for the benefit of KRSI’s audience.

HA--We have always appreciated your efforts on behalf of behalf of democracy and freedom in Iran. What we want to do is to ask you to please explain to us about your most recent endeavors and efforts and the panel that you’re planning to get together next week.

Ledeen--Yes. It’s an effort to explain to Americans the diverse nature of the Iranian people, because I find that most Americans, when I talk to them, have no idea of the wonderful complexity and diversity of the Iranian population. And so we’ve asked people from various ethnic groups, minority groups, in Iran to come and talk about their people and the way in which they’re being oppressed by this regime and how…what kind of country Iran will be, the diversity of its makeup and the crazy quilt nature of the population once the Mullahs have fallen, so that Americans get used to thinking about the Iranian people the way they are.

HA--Could you expand, if you would, more on the efforts that you are leading? I understand that there are representatives from different Iranians groups and ethnicities that will be participating in the panel with you.

Ledeen--Well, if I can compare it to what I would do if I were trying to explain to an Iranian audience the nature of the American people, I would have Christians and Jews and Moslems, I would have black people and red people and oriental people and south American people and people of European origin and so forth, so that Iranians would understand how diverse the population of the United States is, so that they will not think of us just in stereotypical terms and think of Americans as all the same. You know what I mean?

HA--Yes I do! [LOL!]

Ledeen--Right. So in this case, we’re going to present to an American audience various different kinds of Iranians. We will have Turcomans and Kurds and Azaris and Lor[s] and people from various ethnic backgrounds and so forth, so that the American people will understand that they should not think about Iran just in terms of one single stereotype but to realize that the Iranian people are composed of people from various ethnic backgrounds.

Our purpose at the American Enterprise Institute is to explain to Americans the real nature of the various countries and problems that interest us, and I thought I…it’s an educational service to try to explain the nature of Iran, because Americans are not very well educated or very knowledgeable about Iran.

For some reason some people got it into their heads that we were somehow advocating breaking up the Iranian country into little pieces, which is one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard. And I’m extremely annoyed that many people did this without bothering to talk to us about what we were doing. They just imagined what it was going to do and they started attacking us. Not one, not one of the groups that has organized petitions and written letters and done website petitions and so forth, not one of them ever spoke to me before they did this. Not one of them gave us the courtesy of asking what are you doing and why are you doing it.

And it’s particularly irritating because I and my colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute have been among the very few Americans who for years and years have been fighting as hard as we can for the freedom of all Iranians. And the idea that we would lend ourselves to anything that would disrupt the unity of the Iranian people at the moment when they’re fighting for their freedom is insulting and outrageous.

So our discussion will be about the ways in which the various ethnic groups among the Iranian people have been singled out for repression and torture and murder by this regime, so our American listeners will get a chance to see how desperately the regime is trying to isolate various groups among the Iranian population and single them out, which is a way of disrupting the unity of the Iranian people in their fight for freedom.

And I’ve said to everybody who has taken the time to talk to me that I live in a country with lots and lots of different ethnic groups and lots of minority groups, and I’m very happy about that. I’m very proud to live in a country which is a federalist country, which is the world’s longest lasting democratic society, and one reason why is because we have learned to live with each other and we all think of ourselves as Americans, even though we come from different backgrounds, and may have different religions and different ancestors and so forth, but we’re all Americans. And I can promise you that Americans really like countries that have diverse populations, and we have all, for example, been extremely impressed by how well the Iraqi people, despite the great diversity among them, have pulled together and are fighting together in order to accomplish democracy.

HA--Mr. Ledeen, thank you very much. If I may, I and radio KRSI we understand what you are…have been about the struggles that you have accompanied the Iranian people and those of us who have been fighting for freedom and democracy in Iran, and you’ve been with us. So if I may, not that it is our opinion, but to just perhaps help bridge this gap, to mention that Iranians historically have always been very leery of anything that even…it’s close, or even smells with the possibility of any secession. As you know in recent past some major parts of Iran were seceded. Afghanistan was one, British were involved in that, and the tsarist Russia were involved in the northern Azarbaijan part of Iran, and even in the administration of the Shah’s father there was a major movement to secede Khuzestan, the most important oil producing province of Iran. So this is always been an issue…however, democracy, freedom loving Iranians always have believed that Iran definitely has different sections. Even though, for example, Kurds and Lors are, if you wanted to even look at their purity, they are pure Persians. Their languages are even the old Persian languages. So we are all cognizant that there are issues that are unique and have to be addressed. But there is another ethnicity in Iran, Azarbaijanis, Azaris, but they actually, economically, have always been in a better shape perhaps than the rest of Iran, even though language wise sometimes they have not been able to get all their rights. So I just wanted to let you know why it is that Iranians are so very concerned. I don’t think anybody questions your motives and we know you are with us. So I just wanted to share that with you and see what your thoughts are.

Ledeen--Yes, well, thank you Hamid. This is not my problem. I mean I recognize that people can be sensitive about one issue or another. But I am not dealing with the question of secession, and nobody on this panel is going to talk about separatism or secession. And a population which is very diverse raises certain kinds of political questions that Iranians will have to deal with sooner or later, one way or another. But that is not my problem. I am not about that. I’m not suggesting solutions to that. The Iranian people will decide all of that. My only interest is accomplishing freedom for Iran, and once that’s done, believe me, I will have accomplished everything I want. And whether they have a federal republic, or whether they have a monarchy, or whether they have a religious republic that’s up to Iranians, that is not up to me and I have nothing to say about that.

HA--Mr. Ledeen, I truly appreciate your time and we want you to know that federalism is an issue that many of us in the Iranian community who have been involved with the struggle for freedom have been thinking about. If I…

Ledeen--Thank you Hamid. Thank you so much for calling.

HA--…I also wanted to mention to you and see if you have any comments, but the other issue also is that in Iran, especially and uniquely, freedom would be done as [???] among ourselves, freedom would start in Tehran and would spread everywhere and comeback. So I am very grateful that you are with Iranians and please know that many of us do appreciate what you’ve done and please do not feel discouraged. We do want you to be with us in our struggles.

Ledeen--No, don’t worry about that Hamid. Thank you very much.

HA--Thank you Mr. Ledeen.


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