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  • About Democracy In Iran

    There are great lessons to be learned about the downfall of the Republican Party that was mainly due to failure of Iraq War. Had the architects of Iraq war read the book The Art of War by Sun-Tzu, one of the greatest Chinese war writers in 400 B.C., they would have learned this invaluable piece of wisdom, 'Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win!'

    Imagine how much money and how many American and Iraqi lives would have been saved if we did not ignore mankind's history and repeat it time after time in fighting most of our recent wars; Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War, Iran-Iraq War, the so called 'War on Terror', just to name a few and still contemplating to get into new ones!

    The question is why do we allow a few extremists make a mockery of wisdom, insight, truth and above all, the American Ideals and values by venturing into unchartered territories without the knowledge of their culture, history, geography and other vital statistics, even pronouncing the name of the country in question during Information Age! The most ridiculous part of this tragedy is fighting extremism with more extremism. One wonders whether it is past the time when we call a spade a spade and instead of coining names lie 'axis of evil' we admit that the universal Triangle of Evil with three words on its vertices; Hypocrisy, Ignorance and Arrogance and HIA as the acronym. As we know there is no shortage of ignorance even during Information Age. In other words ignorance knows no border!

    While it is important to learn from those terrible mistakes, it is more important to cease the moment and congratulate the American public for their victory in the midterm elections. The loss of patience of erstwhile non-voting and apathetic but decent, generous and forgiving Americans and their record turnout in the elections was an indication of the fact that America was really heading in a worng direction and the people no longer wanted to subscribe to 'stay the course' policies and archaic and un-informed decisions making in a dynamic country and a dynamic world.

    The great American people did not react until push came to shove and their intelligence was enormously underestimated by the extremists. The extremists were on their way to take the word 'people' out of the 'government of the people' and establish a one-man rule that was defying the American Constitution, Bill of Rights and other unique privileges that are accorded to the people or individuals only in America. What a great loss that would be for the world?

    In a post-election interview on CNN, Tom Delay said, “We have not lost, the Democrats have won!” And when the president was asked for his reply was; “Well, I am still the Commander in Chief!” This was in atone that he meant he still does not give a hoot about the elections. Of course he changed his tone soon after that. And let us not forget Rummy’s remark right after his resignation or firing-we never know which, who compared himself to Winston Churchill as an icon of taking criticism and trying to go down in history as a statesman! I cannot go in detail into everything that will be the subject of history books

    But, I do like to point out a few other take-home lessons from this defeat-temporary or long term, depending on our post-election vigil, of extremism and the victory of the people. Here are a few examples of how the so called Republican Revolution was out of touch with the reality even after their downfall:

    While we should be careful not to take this victory of the people lightly, it is equally or more important not to become complacent, sit back and think the damages done to America will be repaired by themselves or by a few elected officials. We should be wary of the fact that although we Democrats have won, we still have some hawks among us who will continue to harbor the same philosophy that we just rejected. Those policies can take us back to square one and status quo and invite more disasters and defeats. We should try to find the facts and get involved, learn from history and go forward. We should do what our president did not do. When asked whether he reads books, he said, 'I do not read books, I read people!'

    We have to learn that alienation of other countries is the underlying cause of terrorism that necessitates the so called 'War on Terror.' In other words we are most unwise to create terror and then fight it! It is as silly as punching an innocent person in the nose for no reason and then use the person's defense posture as barbaric and uncivilized! We have to understand that the colonial mentality of the extremists does not work in the present global arena. We must no longer destabilize our world by invading other countries with no reason or fabricated reasons of our own. We to understand that bullying no longer works and almost all people are decent and they only resort to terrorism as their last resort.

    We have to recall our own history particularly where the founders of America were called terrorist by the colonial power they deposed. The people who are inducted into life of violence are the deprived generations of the lands whose resources were siphoned out when their parents were not educated and their rulers did not care in exchange to sustaining their rules. It is more ironic that we resort to the same methods of exploitation that even the former colonial powers have abandoned. While we justify our trespassing on other people's territory and calling them names such as 'killers who hate our freedom and way of life,' or impose tyrannical rules on them we have to remember that America is the nation whose Thomas Jefferson said, 'resistence to tyranny is obedience to God.'

    With so many American people doing so many good things throughout the world and inside America we deserve a foreign policy that is base on the American Ideals and the will of majority of the people who are decent. The best news is that the people the extremists call 'uncivilized' and killers still love the American people and are informed enough to separate the American people from unwise and mis-directed policies of the American government. To prove this, I am willing to take any American or any groups of Americans to the countries we call by divisive words such as 'rogue nations' and bring them back safer than if they had toured some parts of America. Why do the extremists choose not to trust human nature that unless people are provoked they never show violent reaction. This is embedded in the American Ideals and the American value system. It is noteworthy that people of all other major powers tour any country without experiencing any antagonism and all rage is directed only on Americans and only if they have anything to do with the American foreign policy.

    I hope that we have learned that 'stay the course' policy was only making the already bad situation worse by contributing to more violence. By ignoring history we are knowingly or unknowingly repeating it. Please read the following piece of history and see how the extremist policies matches it:

  • #2
    “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fever, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their right unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done and I am Caesar.”

    Domestically, we should yet quit another archaic 'divide and conquer' policy and split this nation of immigrants along its seams and into its components. Or, Bang more drums of war by blaming the immigrants for all of our ills and resorting to erect another China Wall at our borders in an increasingly interdependent world. America can ill afford to curtail the freedom of its citizens by Patriot Act and surveillance without warrant. Such measures are un-American and lead to self-destruction of America, to say the least. Almost all legal immigrants, and ironically some illegal ones have escaped tyranny and chosen America-Land of the Free for that reason-freedom and opportunity. Who is to say that they should be discriminated against because they did not come on May Flower! The overall and per capita contribution the immigrants relative to their number have been higher than average. They have been a source of new ideas, new energy and vitality and a breath of fresh air without whom America would not be America that is today.

    As educated and informed public is an integral part of government of the people, we need to treat public education as a national defense instead of coining fancy names in the name of rather than for education. Example is the 'No Child Left Behind' that for most part has failed due to lack of funding. We have the wherewithal not to educate and inform our people but the whole world with a budget that would be like a drop in an ocean as compared with what we spend on weapons of mass destruction.
    We have far less reason to fear an educated people. As Thomas Jefferson said, 'enlighten people and tyranny of body and mind will disappear like evil spirit in the dawn of a day.'

    Speaking of funding we have to balance the budget and take our huge national debt very seriously. A per capita share of national debt of about $30,000 is indeed scary. This waste of resources and letting the future generations pay for it or the use of social security funds constitutes the best means of total bankruptcy and self-destruction.

    We as Iranian-Americans are among the most educated and successful people and have a duty to get involved in searching for a new direction for America for the simple reason that we have vested interest in it. We have the responsibility to make this a better home for ourselves and our children and grandchildren for whom America has become a primary home.

    While there are several groups among us who work tirelessly to promote good relation between America and Iran. Unfortunately or naturally there are also a few of us who are opportunists. They are in America only to make money and do not give a hoot about one country if they make their money in the other. They even go as far as promoting the what I call Iraquization of Iran forgetting that Iran belongs to all Iranians no matter where they live and no matter who rules it. I wonder how many of us know that after going through some 400 kings and rulers in our country we have still maintained our identities. I hope we are not unwise to throw the baby with the bath water, so to speak. We owe it to America, to the world and to ourselves to do all we can to reduce the possibility of making a living hell out of our world by continuing the present foreign policies.

    Albert Einstein said, 'I know not what weapons will be used in World War III, but I know that World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.' It was his power of projecting the future when he uttered those words. Another great American, Ralph Waldo Emerson predicted a grim future for mankind when he said, 'The end of human race is tht it will die of civilization.' The bottom line is that no gadgetry and sophisticated weaponry will make our world safe if they are made without considering ethics, wisdom, history and human nature.


    • #3
      Iran's fundamentalists push for segregation on campus

      Religious fundamentalists in Iran are demanding separate university classes for men and women in a drive to impose puritanical Islamic values on the country's campuses.
      The call - backed by senior figures close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - comes as new statistics show female students outnumbering their male counterparts in a sharp reversal of traditionally masculine-dominated trends.

      It is being spearheaded by Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohamadian, a cleric heading the state body representing Mr Khamenei in the nation's universities. Mr Mohamadian warned in a speech that universities were descending into "fashion shows" and urged chancellors to punish students who breached Islamic rules on dress code and gender-mingling. He demanded segregated classes and the evaluation of faculty members on religious and moral grounds to transform the culture.

      "At present the public environment of universities is free and the moral situation is offensive," Mr Mohamadian told a gathering of university administrators. "University chancellors are responsible not just for education and research, but for the religion, beliefs and ideas of students. If one or two out of the minority who deface universities are confronted and severely disciplined, the rest will be warned and change their ways."
      The demand is in line with a clampdown that has seen CCTV surveillance cameras installed on some campuses. Politically active students have been denied access to courses and large numbers of lecturers forced to retire. Two months ago, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded a purge of liberal and secular lecturers.

      Iran's Islamic laws already require men and women to sit in different rows in classes and lecture halls. Campus libraries, reading rooms, refectories and halls of residences are also segregated.

      The higher education ministry is resisting further separation as impractical and unnecessary. However, the proposal has strong support from MPs on the influential parliamentary cultural committee.

      "When the working environment is all-male or all-female, employees and students are liberated from certain distractions," Mousalreza Servati, a committee member, told the ILNA news agency. "In free environments, the possibility exists that when a lady passes, a gentleman likes her face or her behaviour and has it not happened quite often that this interest later results in the wife leaving the husband to marry another man."


      • #4
        everytime i hear segregation .. i get mad ..

        { иooяiє kнояѕнєєδ™ ~


        • #5
          that's what happens when a foreign country (like the US and Israel) tries to change another culture through pressure and force. that government of the target country becomes excessively conservative, justifying it through protecting it from outside powers.
          Take him and cut him out in little stars,
          and he will make the face of heaven so fine,
          that all the world will be in love with night,
          and pay no worship to the garish sun

          - Shakespeare

          "In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny." - JS Mill


          • #6
            some times change comes from out side if that change is for the better you should embrace it decpite were it comes from

            G-d determines who walks into your life....It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.



            • #7
              its not for the better. Iranians don't need Israel or the US to tell them how to live. If anything US and Israelis should learn how to think and act based on the uniquely rich, superior and moral cultural cognition that Iranians have evolved through their superior cultural and historical experiences and employ.

              Since its crap and unjustified the government of the victim country, unfortunately has the right to produce counter culture.

              Right when racism inherent in US and Israel hegemony is out of the region and minds of ME people, then there is absolutely no excuse for the government to be coercive against its citizens.

              What part of this do you not agree with? Can you pin point where in this argument that's evident as clear as day there's a problem?
              Take him and cut him out in little stars,
              and he will make the face of heaven so fine,
              that all the world will be in love with night,
              and pay no worship to the garish sun

              - Shakespeare

              "In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny." - JS Mill


              • #8
                The global spread of democracy since the 1970s, especially after the collapse of communism, has been impressive. According to Freedom House, an American organisation that tracks global trends in political freedom, at the end of 2005 there were 122 “electoral democracies” (64% of the world’s states, compared with 40% in the mid-1980s). On a more stringent criterion, 89 of these were rated as “politically free”—46% of all states, compared with only 25% in 1975. However, the spread of democracy appears to be coming to a halt.

                Negative examples abound. The weak response in the Middle East to pressures for democratisation, as well as the experience with imported political change in Iraq, is making a mockery of George Bush’s “freedom” agenda. In Asia, the coup in Thailand was a reminder of democracy’s fragility. The promise of the multi-coloured revolutions around the former Soviet Union remains unfulfilled, and a slide into authoritarian ways in Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues. Political crises in central Europe have raised questions about the strength of the region’s democratic transition. In Latin America populist forces with dubious democratic credentials have come to the fore, in Venezuela and elsewhere. Even in the developed West, a lack of interest in politics and security-related curbs on civil liberties are having a corrosive effect on some long-established democracies.

                A new democracy index devised by the Economist Intelligence Unit illustrates some of these trends. Compared with Freedom House’s measure, it delves “deeper” into the texture of democracy, looking at 60 indicators across five broad categories: free elections, civil liberties, functioning government, political participation and political culture. Free elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but they are unlikely to be sufficient for a robust democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least minimally efficient government, adequate participation in politics and a supportive culture. It is not easy to build a sturdy democracy. Even in long-established ones, if not nurtured and protected democracy can corrode surprisingly quickly.

                The index provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy for 165 independent states and two territories. (Click here for a complete list of countries and a full explanation of the methodology.) Although almost half of the world’s countries can be classified as democracies, the number of “full democracies” is low (only 2. Almost twice as many (54) are rated as “flawed democracies”. Even a flawed democracy is better than no democracy at all; of the remaining 85 states, 30 are considered to be “hybrid regimes” and 55 are authoritarian. As could be expected, developed OECD countries (with the notable exception of Italy) dominate among the full democracies, although there are also two Latin American countries, two from central Europe and one African country.

                Sweden, a near-perfect democracy, comes top, followed by a bevy of similarly virtuous northern European countries. More surprising are the relatively modest scores for two traditional bastions of democracy—Britain and the United States. In America there has been a perceptible erosion of civil liberties related to the fight against terrorism. Long-standing problems in the functioning of government have also become more prominent. In Britain, too, there has been some erosion of civil liberties but also a shocking decline in political participation. Britain’s score in this area is the lowest in the West and is reflected across all dimensions—voter turnout, membership of political parties, willingness to engage in politics and attitudes towards it.

                Why the setbacks in democracy’s spread and quality? The pace of democratisation was bound to slow after the easy gains that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. China and Middle Eastern autocracies were always going to be a more difficult proposition. Many autocrats preside over energy-rich states and have been strengthened by high oil prices. And America, which should be a shining example, has damaged its liberty-enlarging cause: its military intervention in Iraq is deeply unpopular around the world, Mr Bush is widely loathed and Guantánamo and other cases of prisoner-abuse have led to charges of hypocrisy against the United States.

                There have been reversals before—a wave of democratisation after 1945 ended with more than 20 countries sliding back into authoritarianism. We are not witnessing that sort of regression, but in 2007 the threat of backsliding outweighs the likelihood of further gains. Accompanying our new index is a watchlist of significant changes in 2007: nine countries are on negative watch and only one (Hong Kong) on positive watch.

                Nevertheless, it would be wrong to be too pessimistic. Democracy as a value retains strong universal appeal. Creating democracy by external intervention has not gone smoothly. But trends such as globalisation, increasing education and expanding middle classes favour its organic development. These underlying forces suggest that any retreat from democracy will be temporary.


                • #9
                  The only i can add is . .. you people talk important .. and i love it ..

                  { иooяiє kнояѕнєєδ™ ~


                  • #10
                    oH gOD!!!!!!
                    how Stupid...!!


                    • #11
                      LoL.. Yeah.. maybe stupid..


                      • #12
                        Howard Zinn on The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism

                        Howard Zinn is one of this country's most celebrated historians. His classic work "A People's History of the United States" changed the way we look at history in America. First published a quarter of a century ago, the book has sold over a million copies and is a phenomenon in the world of publishing - selling more copies each successive year. [includes rush transcript]

                        After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Howard Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past 40 years.
                        He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women, and was fired for insubordination for standing up for the students. He was recently invited back to give the commencement address.
                        Howard Zinn has written numerous books and is professor emeritus at Boston University. He recently spoke in Madison, Wisconsin where he was receiving the Haven Center's Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship. We bring you his lecture, "The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism."

                        HOWARD ZINN: Madison is a very special place. I always have a special feeling when I come here. I have a feeling I am in a different country. And I’m glad, you know. Some people get disgusted of the American policy, and they go to live in some other country. No. Go to Madison.

                        So, now I’m supposed to say something. I am glad you’re there, whoever you are, and this light is shining in my eyes to wake me up.

                        Well, do you get the feeling sometime that you’re living in an occupied country? Very often that’s a feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. I think, “I’m living in an occupied country. A small group of aliens have taken over the country and are trying to do with it what they will, you know, and really are.” I mean, they are alien to me. I mean, those people who are coming across the border from Mexico, they are not alien to me, you see. You know, Muslims who come to this country to live, they are not alien to me, you see. These demonstrations, these wonderful demonstrations that we have seen very recently on behalf of immigrant rights, say, and you’ve seen those signs saying, you know, “No human being is alien.” And I think that’s true. Except for the people in Washington, you see.

                        They’ve taken over the country. They’ve taken over the policy. They’ve driven us into two disastrous wars, disastrous for our country and even more disastrous for people in the Middle East. And they have sucked up the wealth of this country and given it to the rich, and given it to the multinationals, given it to Halliburton, given it to the makers of weapons. They’re ruining the environment. And they’re holding on to 10,000 nuclear weapons, while they want us to worry about the fact that Iran may, in ten years, get one nuclear weapon. You see, really, how mad can you be?

                        And the question is, how has this been allowed to happen? How have they gotten away with it? They’re not following the will of the people. I mean, they manufactured a will of the people for a very short time right after the war started, as governments are able to do right after the beginning of an armed conflict, in order to able to create an atmosphere of war hysteria. And so for a short time, they captivated the minds of the American people. That’s not true anymore. The American people have begun to understand what is going on and have turned against the policies in Washington, but of course they are still there. They are still in power. The question is, you know, how did they get away with that?

                        So, in trying to answer the question, I looked a little at the history of Nazi Germany. No, it’s not that we are Nazi Germany, but you can learn lessons from everybody and from anybody’s history. In this case, I was interested in the ideas of Hermann Göring, who, you may know, was second in command to Hitler, head of the Luftwaffe. And at the end of World War II, when the Nazi leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg, Hermann Göring was in prison along with other of the leaders of the Nazi regime. And he was visited in prison by a psychologist who was given the job of interviewing the defendants at Nuremberg.

                        And this psychologist took notes and, in fact, a couple of years after the war, wrote a book called Nuremberg Diary, in which he recorded -- put his notes in that book, and he recorded his conversation with Hermann Göring. And he asked Göring, how come that Hitler, the Nazis were able to get the German people to go along with such absurd and ruinous policies of war and aggression?” And I happen to have those notes with me. We always say, “We happen to have these things just, you know, by chance.”

                        And Göring said, “Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war? But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. It works the same way in any country.”

                        I was interested in that last line: “It works the same way in any country.” I mean, here, these are the Nazis. That’s the fascist regime. We are a democracy. But it works the same way in any country, whatever you call yourself. Whether you call yourself a totalitarian state or you call yourself a democracy, it works the same way, and that is, the leaders of the country are able to cajole or coerce and entice the people into war by scaring them, telling them they’re in danger, and threatening them and coercing them, that if they don’t go along, they will be considered unpatriotic. And this is what really happened in this country right after 9/11. And this is happened right after Bush raised the specter of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and got for a while the American people to go along with this.

                        But the question is, how did they get away with it? What about the press? What about the media? Isn’t it the job of the press, isn’t it the job of the media, isn’t it the job of journalism to expose what governments do? Don’t journalists learn from I.F. Stone, who said, “Just remember two words,” he said to young people who were studying journalism, he said, “Just remember two words: governments lie”? Well, but the media have not picked up on that. The media have gone along, and they embraced the idea of weapons of mass destruction. You remember when Colin Powell appeared before the United Nations just before the onset of the Iraq war and laid out to the UN this litany of weaponry that Iraq possessed, according to him, and gave great details in how many canisters of this and how many tons of this, and so on and so forth. And the next day, the press was just aglow with praise. They didn’t do their job of questioning. They didn’t do their job of asking, “Where? What is your evidence? Where did you get this intelligence? Who did you talk to? What are your sources?”

                        Isn’t this what you learn as a freshman in college? “Hey, what are your sources? Where are your footnotes?” No, no. They were just -- the Washington Post said, “It is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” And the New York Times, you know, it was just beside themselves with admiration for Colin Powell. Of course, it all turned out to be untrue, all turned out to be lies. But the press did not do its job, and as a result, the American people, watching television, reading the newspapers, had no alternative source of information, no alternative opinion, no alternative critical analysis of what was going on.

                        And the question is, why still did the people believe what they read in the press, and why did they believe what they saw on television? And I would argue that it has something to do with a loss of history, has something to do with, well, what Studs Terkel called “national amnesia,” either the forgetting of history or the learning of bad history, the learning of the kind of history that you do get, of Columbus was a hero, and Teddy Roosevelt is a hero, and Andrew Jackson is a hero, and all these guys who were presidents and generals and industrialists, and so on. They are the great -- they are the people who made America great, and America has always done good things in the world. And we have had our little problems, of course -- like slavery, for instance, you know -- but we overcome them, you know, and, you know. No, not that kind of history.


                        • #13
                          If the American people really knew history, if they learned history, if the educational institutions did their job, if the press did its job in giving people historical perspective, then a people would understand. When the President gets up before the microphone, says we must go to war for this or for that, for liberty or for democracy, or because we’re in danger, and so on, if people had some history behind them, they would know how many times presidents have announced to the nation, we must go to war for this reason or that reason. They would know that President Polk said, “Oh, we must go to war against Mexico, because, well, there was an incident that took place on the border there, and our honor demands that we go to war.”

                          They would know, if they knew some history, how President McKinley took the nation into war against Spain and Cuba, saying, “Oh, we’re going in to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control.” And in fact, there was a little bit of truth to that: we did go in, we fought against Spain, we got Spain out of Cuba, we liberated them from Spain, but not from ourselves. And so, Spain was out, and United Fruit was in, and then the American banks and the American corporations were in.

                          And if people knew their history, they would know, you know, that President McKinley said, when -- as the American army was already in the Philippines and the American navy was already in the Philippines, and Theodore Roosevelt, one of our great presidential heroes, was lusting for war, then people would know that McKinley, who did not know where the Philippines were, but very often now presidents need to be briefed and told where something is. You know, George Bush, “This is Iraq is,” you know. Lyndon Johnson, “This is where the Gulf of Tonkin is.” You know, they need it.

                          And president -- they would know, if they knew history, that President McKinley said, “We’re going into the Philippines to civilize and Christianize the Filipinos.” And if they knew their history, if the history books spent some time on the war in the Philippines in the early part of the 20th century, instead of, as history books do -- they spend a lot of time on the Spanish-American War, which just lasted three months -- they spend virtually no time on the war on the Philippines, a bloody war which lasted, oh, seven years, and which involved massacres and the extermination of populations. That history doesn’t appear. You know, we had civilized and Christianized the Filipinos and established our control.

                          They would know, if they heard the President say, “We are going to bring democracy to the Middle East,” they would know how many times we brought democracy to other countries that we invaded. They would know if we brought democracy to Chile, when we overthrew a democratically elected government in Chile in 1973. They would know how we brought democracy to Guatemala when we overthrew, again, a democratically elected -- oh, we love democratic elections, we love free elections, except when they go the wrong way. And then we send either our army in or the CIA in or secret agents in to overthrow the government.

                          If people knew that history, they would never for a moment believe President Bush, when he says, oh, we’re going into Iraq, you know, because of this reason and that reason and liberty and democracy, and they’re a threat, you know. I mean, it takes -- yeah, it takes some historical understanding to be skeptical of the things that authorities tell you.

                          When you know history, you know that governments lie, as I.F. Stone said. Governments lie all the time. Well, not just the American government. It’s just in the nature of governments. Well, they have to lie. I mean, governments in general do not represent the people of the societies that they govern. And since they don’t represent the people and since they act against the interest of the people, the only way they can hold power is if they lie to the people. If they told people the truth, they wouldn’t last very long. So history can help in understanding deception and being skeptical and not rushing to embrace whatever the government tells you.

                          And if you know some history, you would understand something which is even more basic, perhaps, than the question of lying about this war or lying about this invasion, lying about this intervention, something more basic, if you knew some history: you would understand a sort of fundamental fact about society, and including our society, that the interests of the government and the interests of the people are not the same.

                          It’s very important to know this, because the culture tries very hard to persuade us that we all have a common interest. If they use the language “national interest” -- there’s no national interest. There’s their interest and our interest. National security -- now, whose security? National defense, whose defense? All these words and phrases are used to try to encircle us all into a nice big bond, so that we will assume that the people who are the leaders of our country have our interests at heart. Very important to understand: no, they do not have our interests at heart.

                          You will hear a young fellow who is going off to Iraq. I remember hearing the same thing when a young fellow went off to Vietnam. And a reporter goes up to the young fellow and says, “You know, young man, you’re going off, and what are your thoughts and why are you doing this?” And the young man says, “I’m doing this for my country.” No, he’s not doing it for his country. And now, she’s not doing it for her country. The people who go off to war are not doing fighting for their country. No, they’re not doing their country any good. They’re not doing their families any good. They’re certainly not doing the people over there any good. But they’re not doing it for their country. They’re doing it for their government. They’re doing it for Bush. That would be a more accurate thing to say: “I’m going off to fight for George Bush. I’m going off to fight for Cheney. I’m going off to fight for Rumsfeld. I’m going off to fight for Halliburton.” Yeah, that would be telling the truth.

                          And, in fact, you know, to know the history of this country is to know that we have had conflict of interest in this country from the very beginning between the people in authority and the ordinary people. We were not one big happy family that fought the American Revolution against England. I remember, you know, in school, that’s how it seemed, you know: they’re the patriots, and there’s all of us, working, fighting together at Valley Forge and Bunker Hill, and so on, against the Redcoats and the British, and so on. It wasn’t that way at all. It wasn’t a united country.

                          Washington had to send generals down south to use violence against young people to force them into military service. Soldiers in the revolutionary army mutinied against Washington, against officers, because there was class conflict in the army, just as there had been class conflict all through the colonies before the Revolutionary War. Well, anybody who knows the military, anybody who’s been in the military, knows that the military is a class society. There are the privates, and there are the officers. And in the Revolutionary War, the privates were not getting shoes, and they were not getting clothes and not getting food, and they were not getting paid. And the officers were living high in resplendence. And so, they mutinied, thousands of them.

                          I don’t remember ever learning about that when I studied history in school, because the myth comes down: oh, we’re all one big happy family. You mean, including the black slaves? You mean, including the Native Americans, whose land we were taking from them, mile by mile by mile by mile? We’re all one big happy family? The women, who were left out of all of this, were -- no, very important to understand that fundamental fact: those people who run the country and we, our interests are not the same.


                          • #14
                            After nearly four years of successive disasters in Iraq, which unleashed a civil war and brought the country to its knees, not to speak of the monumental American losses, there are still those dreamers, including the president, who speak of victory. Knowing what we know about the grave situation in Iraq today, we can no longer engage in such recklessly wishful thinking.

                            As Mr. Bush reviews his options, in the wake of the Iraq Study Group’s report, he must clearly demonstrate the cause and effect of every aspect of any “victory strategy” he envisions before embarking on another perilous misadventure. Sadly, the reality in Iraq precludes a victory in any classic sense, and the only realistic solution lies in dividing Iraq into three self-ruled parts—a Kurdish part that actually already exists, a Shiite part, which is in the making, and a Sunni part which must be created.

                            But some influential voices, including those of Senator John McCain and Richard Pearl, a prominent neoconservative, advocate increasing American combat troops for a limited period to bring order to Baghdad and crush the insurgency. There is no greater fallacy than the notion that the insurgency can be crushed. Mr. McCain, with his rich military experience, should know better: he should know that a determined insurgency cannot be overwhelmed, especially when it is deeply imbedded in supportive communities that provide both cover and unlimited resources. Moreover, the Sunni insurgents in Iraq operate extremely adeptly within this environment; they are patient, have enormous caches of munitions, select their targets carefully, and take their time to strike at will. When faced with overwhelming power, they melt away into their respective communities, where they can wait for weeks, months, or even years to surface again and with only greater intensity, as the Talibans in Afghanistan have shown insurgencies can do when operating within their own country. Increasing American forces may initially show some signs of success in fighting the insurgency, but the success will not be enduring. Rather, it will prove to be nothing but a recipe for additional American casualties and the complete disintegration of Iraq.

                            In addition, increasing American trainers by many thousands more, an idea strongly advocated by the Iraq Study Group and embraced by the victory seekers, will not in itself work either. Accelerating the training of unified Iraqi forces so they can assume expanded security functions to reduce and eventually eliminate American involvement is necessary, but the focus must be shifted to the Sunnis. While it seems on the surface self-evident that better trained Iraqi security forces should be able to do the job, the reality is that the military and the police are infested with Shiite militias, whose questionable loyalty has severely undermined their neutrality. Although historically Iraq was already divided along sectarian lines, the war has intensified that division and the greater loyalty of the security personale remains to the tribe or sect they belong to rather than to the nation. Moreover, as long as the current government and future governments are led by Shiites, they will remain beholden to their militia, which they will rely on to strengthen their power base as well as safeguard Shiite interests before any other.

                            Nevertheless, in contrast to many conservative Republican politicians, who have spared no words in tearing apart the Study Group’s report, I find it contains many good points that the White House should embrace, including the recommendation to withdraw American combat brigades in the beginning of 2008. But to achieve anything that offers the United States any possibility of a face-saving way out while leaving behind conditions with the potential for stability, the administration must promote the Sunnis’ self-rule over their three provinces while maintaining loose federal ties. Unfortunately, the Study Group failed to address the absolute need of the Sunnis to govern themselves, as it is a prerequisite for achieving even a modicum of stability in Iraq. As long as the Sunnis fear for their lives, there will be no hope that the sectarian killing and insurgency will end. To ally their fears, the Sunnis can build their own security forces with American or preferably European training to protect them now and in the future in a similar vein as the Kurdish Peshmerga. This can be facilitated now especially, since the Iraqi government is nearing an agreement on the distribution of oil revenue, something that the Sunnis must secure to establish an economically viable entity of their own. To that end the United States must insist that equitable distribution of oil revenue becomes a basic law of the land to be administered by a federal agency.

                            The Sunnis, who have lost power, must now be persuaded that ruling all of Iraq is no longer possible, and the only realistic alternative they can achieve is self-rule with equitable revenue sharing from the sale of oil. If they are persuaded, it may represent a partial victory for the Sunnis and lead to a somewhat dignified exit for the Americans.

                            Given these realities, those who advocate total victory over the insurgency by military means must be listed in the column of recklessly dangerous bordering on criminal. They are gambling with the lives of thousands of Americans and the future standing of America without offering a shred of evidence that their strategy for a so called victory is anything but a hallucination.


                            • #15
                              Iran rejects a demagogue

                              ELECTIONS TO Iran's city councils and the clerical body called the Assembly of Experts suggest that even small doses of democracy can deliver a potent therapeutic wallop.

                              The results are an unmistakable rejection of Iran's demagogic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hard-line followers. Ahmadinejad and his backers have tried to spin the outcome of the voting by saying that the exceptionally high overall turnout of more than 60 percent illustrates the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, and that Ahmadinejad's government supported no particular candidates in the two elections.

                              Each of these fibs is transparent. The high turnout reflected two factors: the determination of reformists to rectify the mistake they made when they boycotted the balloting that brought Ahmadinejad to power; and the splitting away of pragmatic conservatives from the fanatics and thugs associated with Ahmadinejad.

                              In Tehran and other cities where Ahmadinejad's supporters lost control of city councils, their association with him was public knowledge. And it was well-known that in the Assembly of Experts voting, Ahmadinejad's religious mentor -- the virulently anti democratic Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi -- was in competition with the worldly and wealthy former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani ended up with twice as many votes as the ayatollah whose influence Ahmadinejad wanted to enhance.

                              This outcome is significant becausethe Assembly is empowered to choose a successor to the powerful Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is often said to be in poor health. In theory, the Assembly may also supervise and correct the performance of the Supreme Leader. In reality, Khamenei assured himself continued freedom of action by seeing to it that several Assembly candidates linked to Ahmadinejad were disqualified from the ballot in advance of the election.

                              RELATED STORY: Local elections point to discontent with Iranian leader's policies

                              Limited and manipulated as Iran's electoral exercises may be, this time they produced a healthy reaction of the body politic to the toxin of Ahmadinejad. Iranian voters know that despite windfall profits from high oil prices, he has not kept his campaign promises to improve the lot of the poor, reduce unemployment, and curb inflation. The corruption of the clerical regime is as flagrant as ever. Billions in private assets are being sent to Dubai. And there have been angry demonstrations against the regime's financial backing of Hezbollah while the plight of poor Iranians remains unremedied.

                              The election results do not promise a sudden change in Iran's nuclear policy or its regional ambitions. But they do suggest that a self-correcting mechanism is at work in Iran's unique political system, and that Ahmadinejad's brand of extremism will have a short shelf life.