Deter Iran

Iranian Expert Urges Promotion of Democracy to Deter Iran From Becoming Nuclear

28 September 2006

President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently addressed the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University, says he thinks President Bush’s more conciliatory remarks addressed directly to the Iranian public is part of a new “two-track policy” of talking tough with the regime while conveying to the Iranian people that Washington’s fight is not with them but with their government.

Speaking with host Carol Castiel of VOA News Now’s Press Conference USA, Professor Milani says that President Bush’s assertion that the Iranian people had a right to a peaceful nuclear program was very significant. Abbas Milani noted that in the past, President Bush has refrained from such assertions. When asked what he thought would be the best long-term strategy to deter Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons, which the United States and many members of the UN Security Council believe is Iran’s goal, Professor Milani advocated a dramatic increase in contacts between Iranian scholars and democratic activists and their counterparts in the United States. He urges more people-to-people exchanges and the easing of travel restrictions so both sides get to know each other better. Professor Milani notes that it is now a bit easier to get visas for Iranian democrats, but the process needs to be improved. At the official level, he believes the two sides need to “sit down and discuss their differences” through direct negotiations. He says he thinks both governments are now trying to find ways to overcome the hurdle posed by their divergent views on Iran’s nuclear technology.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the UN

Regarding President Ahmadinejad’s U.N. speech, Professor Milani said that while it did not include as many virulent attacks as in the past, it was nonetheless “vapid and full of empty slogans.” In addition Professor Milani said President Ahmadinejad missed a chance to make a case for “what he and his government stands for.” Rather, he ironically criticized the UN for “allowing a small minority - the five members who have a veto power - to exercise undo hegemony over the rest of the world, and yet he is the president of a regime in which a small handful of people have arrogated to themselves the right of exercising hegemony over the Iranian society.” Professor Milani notes that “if there is one leader in the world who is not justified in making that criticism of the United Nations, it is Mr. Ahmadinejad.”

Abbas Milani reminds that Tehran is quite accomplished in simultaneously sending “conflicting messages” to sow confusion. For example, former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, considered to be among the “reformers,” sent a conciliatory message during his recent visit to the United States. Abbas Milani believes this message was designed to strengthen the position of China, Russia, and France, who support more negotiations before imposing an embargo on Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment as mandated by the UN Security Council.

Professor Milani believes that the regime is indeed “bent on having a nuclear bomb,” and he says the only long-term, effective deterrent to a nuclear-armed Iran is to “push for democracy” there.

For full audio of the program Press Conference USA click here.




Allah Akbar!

The phrase Allah Akbar – meaning God is Great – is uttered by Muslims the world over. The fact that God is great is not in dispute. God affords human beings the liberty to manifest their own destiny. Liberty is the greatest gift of all; eternal liberty. Some Muslims may consider naming the image of the Statue of Liberty – Allah Akbar, controversial. For those Muslims that are offended, you are indeed the enemy of God. To subjugate and sequester the individual liberty of women and dissenters is blasphemy.

This universal truth is written in the Torah, Bible and Koran. With this post, the phrase Allah Akbar will be tied to a symbol of God’s greatest gift to humankind. Liberty. It is my sincere hope that this image rises above other images – films and the like – where terrorist utter the phrase “Allah Akbar” in succession; before, during and after they commit murder.

I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.Thomas Jefferson




ماه رمضان مبارک باد



humint ONLINE

About HUMINT - the blog:

HUMINT is the combination of two words, Human and Intelligence. The United States Military and various Intelligence agencies are the originator of the term. It commonly applies to clandestine or overt operations in which intelligence is gathered through personal interactions with the enemy.

That said, this site is not affiliated with or associated to any clandestine government operation, overt government operation or any government agency at all. Content produced by any government official or government agency IS or IS NOT posted on this blog - exclusively because of its interest to me. This site is not intended to nor does its administrator desire to disclose classified information. All of the information contained on this blog is either unrelated to government or was previously disseminated by a government and is currently available to the public at large. Information formerly classified as SECRET is available herein. All of that information has been revealed through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

This blog is in no way intended to be comprehensive in its scope. As a citizen of the United States - not employed by the government of the United States - under the auspices of freedom and liberty - I alone hold the authority to add and delete content at my own discretion, so long as said content abides by the agreement made with

My discretionary attention usually orbits around religion, politics, war, terror, related art and history. The term humint is used here as a name. It was chosen by me as a user ID on the website Its connotations in the context of blogging should be obvious.



Prince Arrested

38 Terrorists Including Prince Arrested

Baghdad, IRAQ - Security forces arrested 38 terrorists including the prince of the 20th revolution corps, 5 terrorists were killed while 80 suspects were arressted. A statement issued from the press office of the general leader of the army forces mentioned the arrests of a so-called "prince of the 20th revolution corps" along with 7 of his supporters in the Abu Ghrieb sector. The "prince's" name has not been released. Also, a second statement issued later said security forces arrested 3 terrorists in the Diala-Kirkuk-Saldin sector and have detained another 80 suspects.



Counter Extreemists

Counter Extreemist Attack
By Army Sgt. Amber Robinson

SALERNO, Afghanistan - “You cannot completely prevent a suicide bomber or attacker who is motivated to die for his cause from doing damage, but what we can do is prevent him from having access to his target, and the supplies and intelligence he needs to accomplish his mission. That is what we’re here to do,” said Lt. Col Richard Kaiser, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander.



Target Iran's Youth

Amsterdam-Based Radio Station to Target Iran's Youth
By Abdullah Ibrahim

Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat- A new Iranian radio station has been established in Holland, aiming at the Iranian youth, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned. Radio Zamaniya aims to become the voice of the Iranian youth, according to a statement issued by Radio Holland. The new station will not avoid dealing with contentious issues such as sex and women's rights, added the statement.

"The Iranian youth is thirsty for knowledge and is not satisfied with the information provided to him by the one-sided point of view presented by the Iranian media," said Bantiya Moudiri, an employee at Radio Zamaniya. Moudiri added that young men and women in Iran want to learn a lot about human rights and world politics. Among the organizations which helped to establish Radio Zamaniya is the non-governmental organization Journalism Now. This NGO helped train some of the journalists working for the Iranian station. The new station will begin with 12 to 15 employees. Its managers believe that citizens across Iran will be able to receive the station's broadcasts. Radio Zamaniya's broadcasts will be transferred through satellite, Internet and short wave.

Reports indicate that six million Iranians are using the Internet; many have satellite dishes, and most have radios. The station will broadcast 24 hours a day. Four hours each day will be dedicated to news and culture issues, and the rest will consist of music. Unlike Iran, where it is not allowed, women singers will be heard on Radio Zamaniya at all times.




Iraq to America

Iraqi President Talabani's Letter to America

Although portions of Iraq are already safe and secure, certain parts are still coming under attack from the vicious, bloodthirsty enemy. With the support of the citizens of Baghdad, the government started its Baghdad Security Plan. This plan is already showing signs of success, with a marked drop in the reported incidents of violence over the last month. The battle in Iraq today is not between the various communities. Their elected representatives have agreed on a government of national unity and on national reconciliation. Nor is it a battle between civilizations, as some have seen it. It is a war "about civilization" as Prime Minister Tony Blair has phrased it so well - the conflict is between those who believe in having a civilization and those who don't believe in having one at all.




Iran's Donkey

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran closed down two opposition newspapers on Monday, one of which had recently poked fun at hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the way his government has handled nuclear talks with the West.

It was a fresh show of determination by Iran's ruling clerical establishment to silence dissent over its handling of nuclear talks with the West and deny reformers a chance to air their views ahead of elections scheduled for Dec. 15. The rights group Reporters Without Borders voiced concern last week about harassment of Iranian journalists, including prison sentences and interrogations. Ahmadinejad has purged dozens of journalists, university professors and government officials seen as supporting warmer ties with the West. Iran's most prominent reformist daily, Shargh, or East, ran a cartoon Thursday depicting a horse and donkey facing each other on a chess board. The donkey — a symbol of ignorance in Iranian culture — has his mouth open and light around him, while the horse shows no emotion. Iranian judiciary officials apparently took the donkey to represent Iran in nuclear negotiations with the West, journalists said. Ahmadinejad reportedly said he felt there was a light around him, and that world leaders focused unblinkingly on him when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly last year. Ahmadinejad is reportedly planning to address the assembly again later this month.




العراقي Parliamentary Progress


بغداد - الصباح

The Iraqi House of Representatives yesterday held a regular session. The political blocs failed to reach a consensus on a new formulation of the draft and establish a federation. An informed source said that the bloc did not reach a consensus satisfactory to all parties involved and that it had finally agreed to continue debating the subject at a later time, outside parliament.

Judge Wael Abdel Latif said, "The points that are the subject of discussion and dialogue are not related to the draft law Territories, but other topics relating to-

  1. The identity of the state
  2. Arab affiliation and full sovereignty
  3. Representation of regions
  4. Embassies

Each requires a robust debate. He added more topics needing parliamentary attention. In his opinion, the following issues should be treated in accordance with Iraqi law, not international-

  1. Petroleum and the division of wealth between provinces, according to their respective populations
  2. Constitutional articles on personal status law
  3. The acquired rights of women
  4. Water rights

Finally, the constitutional article concerning the dissolution of the militias, treatment and prevention established within the armed forces all of this in addition to federalism still needs more dialogue in order to reach consensus. Afterward the President of the Council held a closed meeting to discuss arbitrary arrests and illegal activities of the militias.



the American Street

An Acknowledgement—and thanks to the American Street!
by Victor Davis Hanson

There is an American Street that is a far more powerful, and a more responsible force than any such populace in the Arab world. Like many of you, I tire of hearing “Death to America” from the mobs in Teheran or Jericho, and am sick of the usual coffee-house Middle Eastern hack intellectual that CNN drags out from London, who, during the past 5 years, in his condescension and pompous diction, and in the safety of a host Western humane society, starts listing various perceived grievances against the West, and then issues warnings (!) about the furor of the temperamental “Arab Street.” I respect and fear the American version far more, because its anger is fueled by reason and is slow and steady and furious when released. The world should not worry when the half-educated, fueled by zealotry and nursed on conspiracy theory, starts chanting; but it should when a rational and patient American slowly fumes and decides he has had it with the Iranian “President”, Hezbollah’s fascism, the various thugs on the West Bank, the Sunni Triangle’s murderers, the primordial of the Hindu Kush, or some subsidized dictator in Pakistan or Egypt lecturing us.





From a "Free" Country

I spent the last weekend with a friend of mine, an American reporter whom we worked together in Baghdad. He came from Boston to attend a wedding of a relative of his friend. We met on Sunday. He took me to Pat’s, Philadelphia’s most famous cheese stakes’ restaurants. We took the cab to Pat’s. on the way, the nosy taxi driver asked us where we come from? My friend told him that he came from Boston and that I came from Baghdad. Silence followed. “Oh the enemy, you mean? I should report you to the CIA!” the driver said. I can’t deny that I was not surprised. He was the first American who reacted like this in front of me. Most of Philadelphia’s people are liberal and that’s what made me love this city. I wonder if Iraq invaded

It did not surprise me to get such reaction. He is one of the millions of Americans who watch TV only. I wasn’t surprised to see how the U.S. TV stations poorly cover the war in Iraq. Since I was in Iraq, I read how small number of American people knows what is really happening. I’ve been watching the news channels for about a month and I have never seen a report on Iraq for more than five minutes. Even the five minutes report showed part of the U.S.-Iraqi military second sweep that started in Baghdad after the failure of the first one few months ago.

HUMINT: I’ve never spoken to any American who has reacted this way in public or private about Iraq or Iraqis. Almost every time someone brings up the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or the people of Iran – Americans tend to speak with empathy, respect and optimism about the People of the Middle East. I think they speak so highly of the people of the Middle East primarily because they don’t know the people of the Middle East and simply assume they are a people like themselves. IMO, American ignorance of Iraqi culture is not to say their opinions are inaccurate. Some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met have come from the Middle East.

I personally think the ME suffers from two afflictions. The first; old cultures crash often - like old computers asked to run new software. However, imagine old computers violently rejecting new software and vociferously condemning the production of faster processors.

The second reason; the ME is petro-rich and therefore most countries there have economies not rooted in the abilities and efforts of their people. Human nature is clear on the subject. People ignore what has little or no significance.

To be fair – Americans have afflictions too. But there is always an ear here for grievances. Articulate grievers are the first to garner the attention of American philanthropists. The only real obstacles for Americans are personal – not institutional.

At the end of the day, with all the blood and misunderstanding… I’m still optimistic. On this path, there is no turning back.



Self-determination, not self-preservation.

The current sectarian-affiliated political parties, and specially those represent the southern region constituents, have been rather busy with crafting out legislations to grant bigger role for the southern region by introducing a governing self-rule apparatus similar to that of Kurdistan. Also, they seem quite certain that their vision will secure ‘their’ children future – and not ‘Iraqi’ children future! - from the re-occurrences of past dark histories. In fact, if there was one thing that had been destructive and will always be so to the Iraqi children future is the recursive self-preservation mental map that is encoded in our politicians’ mind road.

This is a very interesting -introspective- look at the real power of a people. When an individual identity, upwardly crosses distinct boundaries of the theoretical pyramid - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - there is hope.




Accept Criticism

When will we be ready to accept criticism?

Are those who demand an apology from the pope ready to apologize for some of their own mistakes? Or have they never made any mistakes? Regardless of what the pope said, the Arab and Muslim world, through the tense and offensive reactions, showed once again how incapable its leaders are to respond to criticism in a civilized way. Here we always insist that the greatest miracle of the prophet is the words he was sent with, the same words that tell Muslims to use logic and kindness in their attempts to invite others to the Islamic faith, the same words that discourage them from using a rude or repulsive tone in their conversations.




Jihad, Lord's Supper, eternal life

Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life
By Spengler

Jihad injures reason, for it honors a god who suffers no constraints on his caprice, unlike the Judeo-Christian god, who is limited by love. That is the nub of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12 address in Regensburg, Germany. It promises to be the Vatican's most controversial utterance in living memory.

When a German-language volume appeared in 2003 quoting the same analysis by a long-dead Jewish theologian, I wrote of "oil on the flames of civilizational war". [1] Now the same ban has been preached from St Peter's chair, and it is a defining moment comparable to Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. Earlier this year, Benedict's elliptical remarks to former students at a private seminar in 2005, mentioned in passing by an American Jesuit and reported in this space, created a scandal. [2] I wrote at the time that even the pope must whisper when it comes to Islam. We have entered a different stage of civilizational war.





Yemen Stops 4 Al Qaeda

Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister Dr Rashad Al Alaimi today announced that Al Qaeda was responsible for the two foiled terrorist attacks that targeted an oil refinery in Maareb and the Hadhramout seaport. The minister said at a press conference that the Yemeni forces arrested today a four-member cell linked to the attacks, reported the Yemen News Agency (SABA). Security forces found explosives in their possession, he said.



Israel indicts 3 Hezbollah

JERUSALEM - Israel on Monday charged three Hezbollah members arrested in Lebanon during the recent war with murder for involvement in deadly attacks on soldiers. The three are Hussein Suleiman, 22, Mohammed Sarour, 20, and Maher Housani, 30, Rosenfeld said. Suleiman was involved in planning an attack that sparked the 34-day war on July 12, in which Hezbollah militants infiltrated Israel to attack a border patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two, Rosenfeld said. He was involved in other deadly attacks on soldiers, he said. The three have confessed to participation in the attacks and to receiving military and terrorist training in Iran , which backs Hezbollah, Rosenfeld said.




Cotton and Oil


there can be no doubt that opponents of slavery had come to view the South's "peculiar institution," as an obstacle to economic growth. Despite clear evidence that slavery was profitable, abolitionists--and many people who were not abolitionists--felt strongly that slavery degraded labor, inhibited urbanization and mechanization, thwarted industrialization, and stifled progress, and associated slavery with economic backwardness, inefficiency, indebtedness, and economic and social stagnation. When the North waged war on slavery, it was not because it had overcome racism; rather, it was because Northerners in increasing numbers identified their society with progress and viewed slavery as an intolerable obstacle to innovation, moral improvement, free labor, and commercial and economic growth.

On March 14, 1793, Eli Whitney obtained a patent for the cotton gin. The cotton gin made the production of cotton highly profitable. This changed the economics of slavery greatly. Many had believed that slavery would slowly die out, as the tobacco fields (where most slaves were employed) were slowly depleted. The economical production of cotton, on the other hand, greatly increased the economic importance of slavery to the South, thus ensuring its continued dependence on it.


"Dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes our capacity to grow," Bush said in a speech focused on the economy -- a key issue in November elections that might determine whether the GOP retains control of the House and Senate. Democrats contend the middle class isn't enjoying the benefits of U.S. economic gains. They say sluggish median earnings show paychecks have failed to keep pace with inflation, and they note rising health care and energy costs. Gasoline prices have eased over the past month, but Bush warned against continued reliance on oil-producing countries where the United States is unpopular. "The problem is we get oil from some parts of the world and they simply don't like us," Bush said. "And so the more dependent we are on that type of energy, the less likely it will be that we are able to compete, and so people have good, high-paying jobs."




Military Dictatorship - Sheibani

Mehrdad Sheibani
16 Sep 2006
The last month of the Persian summer, which is half way through, clarified the political situation in Iran. Two hardline religious governments face each other. Their battlefield is the Middle East for which forces are aligning themselves from outside the region. The conditions on the ground are complicated conditions, the situation is complex and there are multitudes of events, some of which contradict others, while some others compliment. They all reflect the strategic importance of a war whose consequences will have a long term impact on our contemporary world.
On one hand we have the Islamic Republic of Iran which is not pursuing this in defense of its national interests, but to advance its ideological reach which is called the ‘Mesbahie’ movement (Mesbah Yazdi) in Iran, while George Bush calls it the ideology of al-Qaeda. This week the Islamic regime announced its view of the world through the words of the commander of the Revolutionary Guards - Passdaran the principal helmsman of Iran's power - who said this to a group of military commanders : "The leader of the honored revolution(Ayatollah Khamenei) is the awakening of the Islamic world, the Muslim nation and awakening movements in the Third World. " The frequency of this view is no other than President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who showed his presence in all domestic and international events.



Ineptitude on Iran - Askari


There is a viable alternative to imposing more sanctions: stop threatening Iran, especially in public. And America should attempt to understand (not necessarily agree with) the Iranian perspective, minimize U.S. hubris and engage in true dialogue. Iran would be instrumental in allowing the United States to solve most of the problems it faces in the Middle East, including achieving peace and stability in the region, saving U.S. lives and treasure and enhancing global energy supplies.


Hossein is trapped in dimension where only he, and presumably those who agree with him, maintains the capacity to understand Iran, its people and its government. What he perceives as American hubris is indeed responsible governance. On many occasions the U.S. has worked with its allies around the world to encourage Iranian officials to positively change their behavior. Americans have done so in both word and deed. It is at the highest levels of Iranian government they scream “Death to America!” How does one institute dialogue with Iranian men of such low character? Each American administration has tried and this one continues to try to engage the Iranians in a way that can bring them back from their suicidal path. The onus is on them Mr. Hossein. The Iranians must be held responsible and therefore encouraged to behave in a way that demonstrates they can live peacefully among the community of nations. The ayatollahs of Iran are not children who deserve unconditional love. They live in the same world everyone else does and are beholden to the same rules.

Hossein Askari is the Iran Professor of International Business and International Affairs at George Washington University.



بلال بن رباح

Bilal was an Ethiopian born in Mecca in the late 6th century, sometime between 578 and 582. Prophet Muhammad chose Bilal as his muezzin. He was among the slaves freed by Abu Bakr and was known for his beautiful voice with which he called people to their prayers. His name can also be spelled as, "Bilal ibn Riyah" or "ibn Rabah" and he is sometimes known as "Bilal al-Habashi" or "Bilal the Ethiopian". He died sometime between 638 to 642, dying when he was just over sixty years old.



Frederick Douglass

(February 141, 1818February 20, 1895) was an American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer. Called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia," Douglass was one of the most prominent figures of African American history during his time, and one of the most influential lecturers and authors in American history.

Frederick Douglass was one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery within the United States in the decades prior to the Civil War. A brilliant speaker, Douglass was asked by the American Anti-Slavery Society to engage in a tour of lectures, and so became recognized as one of America's first great black speakers. He won world fame when his autobiography was publicized in 1845. Two years later he bagan publishing an antislavery paper called the North Star. Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for blacks. Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice.

Douglass' works online

Biographical information

Memorials to Frederick Douglass




U.S. Constitution - Second Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.



Koran 2.256

There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.



The Tehran Calculus

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, September 15, 2006; Page A19

In his televised Sept. 11 address, President Bush said that we must not "leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons." There's only one such current candidate: Iran. The next day, he responded thus (as reported by Rich Lowry and Kate O'Beirne of National Review) to a question on Iran: "It's very important for the American people to see the president try to solve problems diplomatically before resorting to military force."

"Before" implies that the one follows the other. The signal is unmistakable. An aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities lies just beyond the horizon of diplomacy. With the crisis advancing and the moment of truth approaching, it is important to begin looking now with unflinching honesty at the military option.

The costs will be terrible:

· Economic .

An attack on Iran is likely to send oil prices overnight to $100 or even to $150 a barrel. That will cause a worldwide recession perhaps as deep as the one triggered by the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Iran might suspend its own 2.5 million barrels a day of oil exports and might even be joined by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, asserting primacy as the world's leading anti-imperialist. But even more effectively, Iran will shock the oil markets by closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's exports flow every day.

Iran could do this by attacking ships in the Strait, scuttling its own ships, laying mines or just threatening to launch Silkworm anti-ship missiles at any passing tanker.

The U.S. Navy will be forced to break the blockade. We will succeed, but at considerable cost. And it will take time -- during which the world economy will be in a deep spiral.

· Military .

Iran will activate its proxies in Iraq, most notably, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Sadr is already wreaking havoc with sectarian attacks on Sunni civilians. Iran could order the Mahdi Army and its other agents within the police and armed forces to take up arms against the institutions of the central government itself, threatening the very anchor of the new Iraq. Many Mahdi will die, but they live to die. Many Iraqis and coalition soldiers are likely to die as well.

Among the lesser military dangers, Iran might activate terrorist cells around the world, although without nuclear capability that threat is hardly strategic. It will also be very difficult to unleash its proxy Hezbollah, now chastened by the destruction it brought upon Lebanon in the latest round with Israel and deterred by the presence of Europeans in the south Lebanon buffer zone.

· Diplomatic.

There will be massive criticism of America from around the world. Much of it is to be discounted. The Muslim street will come out again for a few days, having replenished its supply of flammable American flags, most recently exhausted during the cartoon riots. Their governments will express solidarity with a fellow Muslim state, but this will be entirely hypocritical. The Arabs are terrified about the rise of a nuclear Iran and would privately rejoice in its defanging.

The Europeans will be less hypocritical because their visceral anti-Americanism trumps rational calculation. We will have done them an enormous favor by sparing them the threat of Iranian nukes, but they will vilify us nonetheless.

These are the costs. There is no denying them. However, equally undeniable is the cost of doing nothing.

In the region, Persian Iran will immediately become the hegemonic power in the Arab Middle East. Today it is deterred from overt aggression against its neighbors by the threat of conventional retaliation. Against a nuclear Iran, such deterrence becomes far less credible. As its weak, nonnuclear Persian Gulf neighbors accommodate to it, jihadist Iran will gain control of the most strategic region on the globe.

Then there is the larger danger of permitting nuclear weapons to be acquired by religious fanatics seized with an eschatological belief in the imminent apocalypse and in their own divine duty to hasten the End of Days. The mullahs are infinitely more likely to use these weapons than anyone in the history of the nuclear age. Every city in the civilized world will live under the specter of instant annihilation delivered either by missile or by terrorist. This from a country that has an official Death to America Day and has declared since Ayatollah Khomeini's ascension that Israel must be wiped off the map.

Against millenarian fanaticism glorying in a cult of death, deterrence is a mere wish. Is the West prepared to wager its cities with their millions of inhabitants on that feeble gamble?

These are the questions. These are the calculations. The decision is no more than a year away.



Iran: Know Thine Enemy

By Bill Berkeley, Columbia Journalism Review. Posted September 14, 2006.

There's been a blizzard of western media coverage of this avowed Islamic theocracy. But now a slew of new books by Persian-speaking journalists reveal how well we really know Iran.

On a reporting trip to Iran in the spring of 2004, I visited the northeastern city of Mashhad. It's an important pilgrimage destination for Shiite Muslims, a sprawling, low-slung metropolis that fans out from a central plaza built around the gold-domed shrine of the Imam Reza. Imam Reza is believed to have hailed from the family of the prophet Mohammad. He was designated the eighth of the twelve sacred imams of the Shi'a faith, and is the only one buried in Iran. Hundreds of thousands of devout Shiites from across south Asia and the Arab world make pilgrimages to Mashhad each year to worship inside this splendid compound of aqua-tiled spires and arches, luminous chandeliers, and gushing fountains under two glittering domes.

My own experience of Mashhad was memorable for a different reason: it raised fresh doubts about the significance of religious orthodoxy in the Islamic Republic.

My driver in Mashhad was an amiable, bearded man named Ali, whose enviable ability to shirk traffic rules and park in no-parking zones was soon explained by his membership in the Basij militia, the hard-line paramilitary force that serves as one of the main coercive arms of the ruling mullahs. Like many Basiji, Ali, who is from a poor and devout family in the hinterland far from Tehran, had joined the Basij as a sixteen-year-old and gone off to fight in the Iran-Iraq war. The Basiji achieved notoriety in the war for their massive human-wave attacks and suicidal mine-sweeping operations, in which tens of thousands perished. Ali himself was wounded by shrapnel.

After eight years of brutal fighting and incessant clerical exhortations about the inevitable triumph of the armies of God, Iran's war with Iraq ended without achieving any of its declared objectives. For many veterans like Ali, there was a ready explanation for this disastrous turn of events. It was not the inadequacy of Iran's military planning or the miscalculations of its commanders. Rather, Ali told me, it was the West's cynical machinations that had turned the tide of battle. Ali reminded me that the Reagan administration, eager to block revolutionary Iran from defeating Iraq and spreading its influence across the Persian Gulf, helped arm Saddam Hussein and provided him with satellite reconnaissance of Iranian troop positions. Ali and many of his comrades would remain forever suspicious of America, and steadfast supporters of the ruling mullahs.

For all that, Ali, like so many Iranians I'd met, was eager to invite an American into his home. And so one evening Ali's wife and daughter served me a scrumptious traditional lamb stew known as abgusht. After a dessert of peeled cucumbers and tangerines, we shared a water pipe, known as a hookah, and talked into the night. When it was time to leave, Layli, Ali's lovely thirteen-year-old daughter, eagerly pressed upon me a delicate silver necklace -- a gift for my own daughter back in New York.

On the strength of this warm experience of cross-cultural bonding, over lunch the following day I put a sensitive question to Ali that I'd wanted to ask all along. "Ali," I said, "do you think these ruling mullahs are genuinely religious people?" Or did he think, as many Iranians I'd spoken to had told me, that they are just using religion as an instrument of power?

Ali listened carefully as the question was translated. A small smile crossed his lips. But he said nothing. He simply let the question pass.

After lunch, we repaired to a teashop across the street. I put the question to him a second time. "Ali," I said, "You didn't answer my question. Do you think these mullahs are genuinely motivated by religious piety?"

Again Ali listened carefully as the question was translated. Again a smile crossed his lips. And again he said nothing.

I've reported enough from abroad to know not to generalize too much from a single interview with an opinionated driver -- a classic error of foreign correspondence. But it struck me as significant that this avowed supporter of the regime, deeply suspicious of America, was unwilling to defend the religious bona fides of the ruling clerics -- the core of the regime's ideology and a central pillar of its legitimacy -- in response to a question from an American journalist.

I had grown accustomed to middle-class elites back in north Tehran vehemently mocking the religious pretensions of the ruling mullahs. But a Basiji in conservative Mashhad? Surely he would vouch for the clerics. Ali's disinclination to do so seemed to suggest just how cynical even the regime's most trusted allies had long since become -- and how illusory its mask of religious orthodoxy really was. It fit into an impression I had that was reinforced in scores of subsequent interviews with Iranians across a broad spectrum, left and right, high and low.

My encounter with Ali was typical of Iran: surprising, paradoxical, counterintuitive, and both gratifying and humbling for an American reporter whose memory of cold-war intrigue was short and whose assumptions about the so-called Islamic Republic turned out to be inadequate. Those assumptions would be all the more confounded a year later, when Ali and his Basiji confederates played a key role in electing one of their own, the fiery Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as president -- apparently in protest against their sponsors among the mullahs as much as in support of them.

Ahmadinejad's election surprised nearly everyone, not least the American journalists who covered it. In the fifteen months since then -- a time of escalating tensions over Iran's nuclear program, of ever more belligerent rhetoric from Washington, Tehran, and Jerusalem, of growing Iranian influence in American-occupied Iraq, and of fighting in Lebanon and Gaza between Israel and Iran's allies, Hezbollah and Hamas -- there has been a blizzard of U.S. media coverage of this avowed Islamic theocracy. But how well do we really know Iran? And how well are the American media helping us to understand it?

A proliferation of new books in English by Persian-speaking journalists and scholars suggest that we don't know it as well as we ought to. The books shed valuable light on a country that has long been prone to journalistic caricature. At a time when Iran is routinely conflated in our public discourse with al Qaeda and even Nazism bent on genocide -- "the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism," the "axis of evil" -- a deeper and more nuanced impression of this seemingly intractable foe is long overdue. Together the new books convey a more complex and evolving picture, one notably lacking in the moral clarity that Americans too often project onto Iran when we view it through the prism of Islam or the Holocaust.

The challenge of getting it right on Iran has vexed American journalists for more than a quarter century, beginning with the revolution that swept the mullahs to power in 1979 -- an event that also surprised and confounded nearly everyone -- and especially with the hostage crisis that ensued in November of that year. The seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian student militants and the holding of fifty-two American hostages for more than a year was a seminal event. It helped bring down Jimmy Carter's presidency, spurred a new ideology on the American right that would come to be called "neoconservativism," and seared into America's consciousness a phenomenon that came to be called "militant Islam." Then, as now, the challenge of reporting on an immense national trauma at the hands of seemingly alien and irrational Muslims was fraught with problems.

Among the most vociferous critics of the America media then was Edward Said, the late Columbia University professor and intellectual pugilist, whose 1981 book Covering Islam -- How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World dwelled mostly on coverage of Iran. It was an early broadside against what Said called "highly exaggerated stereotyping and belligerent hostility" in much media coverage of the Muslim world. Said decried typical news accounts of "Islam" -- what he called "a poorly defined and badly misunderstood abstraction" -- as a steady diet of myths and generalizations purporting to show that Islam was "one unchanging thing that could be grasped over and above the remarkably varied history, geography, social structure, and culture of the forty Islamic nations" on four continents. In the place of what he called "references to the Islamic mentality or Shi'a predilections for martyrdom or any of the other nonsense parading as relevant 'information,'" Said advocated reporting that "understands politics . . . understands and makes no attempt to lie about what moves men and women to act in this (Iran) as well as other societies."

As he was wont to do throughout a long and controversial career, Said sometimes overstated his case and cherry-picked the evidence to support it. Then, as now, there was good as well as bad reporting on Iran, and even some great and memorable journalism, most notably Ted Koppel's nightly broadcasts on ABC, which began as a late-night special called "America Held Hostage" and evolved into Nightline, the show that Koppel would host for the next quarter century.

Similarly, there has been some excellent reporting from Iran today. Some of the best has come from a growing legion of young Persian-speaking reporters, mostly of Iranian background, who have penetrated Iranian society in a way that reporters who lack the language rarely can. A number of these young reporters have produced valuable books. Christopher de Bellaigue's In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs and Azedah Moaveni's Lipstick Jihad, both published last year, are of uneven quality, yet they achieve an enviable intimacy with Iranian society that belies the crude stereotypes that Americans have grown accustomed to. The best of this genre, to my mind, is Afshin Molavi's Persian Pilgrimages, a skillfully reported and marvelously told political travelogue first published in 2002 and reissued last year in paperback under a new title, The Soul of Iran. Molavi, who reported from Iran for the Washington Post, weaves his own travels into an engaging and highly informative tour of Iranian history, politics, and culture. The result is a multilayered portrait that leaves us no less wary of the ruling mullahs but vastly more sympathetic toward the Iranian people.

Still, some of Said's concerns a quarter century ago were valid, and they remain so in the current coverage of Iran. One classic error of foreign correspondence that was much in evidence then helps explain how so few American reporters anticipated the election (however flawed) last year of Ahmadinejad as president. It's the mistake of reporting excessively among the elite who speak English, and too little among the poor and (seemingly) marginal folks, like Ali in Mashhad.

Thomas W. Lippman, a Washington Post correspondent who covered the revolution in 1979, had this to say about Western press coverage of Iran, then and now:

"Journalists from all over the world with little direct knowledge of Iran spent far too much time among the people who live at the top of Tehran's hills -- the ones who wore well-tailored suits and spoke English or French -- and not enough time at the bottom of the hills or in the bazaars, which is where the real revolution was coming from. I was as guilty of this as my colleagues. We spent hours conversing with secular liberals among the Iranian bourgeoisie and with the westernized political pretenders who expected to be important after the Shah was gone. . . . In my recollection, only the late, great Don Schanche of the Los Angeles Times had any feel for the Khomeini phenomenon that was building among the no-necktie masses. The result was that we were surprised by the outcome, when we shouldn't have been."

Lippman was responding to a comment, in the wake of Iran's presidential election, on Columbia University's invaluable Gulf/2000 Web site, posted by Cyrus Safdari, an independent Iranian-born analyst. Safdari had this to say about the Western media's failure to anticipate Ahmadinejad's victory:

"The past several years we have witnessed an almost obsessive coverage of Iran's . . . "gilded youth" of Northern Tehran (some of it by U.S.-based Iranian reporters who come from the same background themselves) and their alcoholic shenanigans, hipster bloggers with one foot in the West, and not to mention the almost lurid obsession over women who have nose jobs and wear Victoria's Secret underwear, etc. They've only entered a neighborhood mosque as a tourist, never attended a local guild meeting, they have no idea of the complex religion-based substratum of Iranian society, have only occasionally ventured to southern Tehran, and once there have tended to ridicule and express disgust at the vast portion of Iranians -- the so-called "pious poor" -- who have apparently voted for Ahmadinejad."

Safdari has a point -- although one of the most interesting of the past year's books on Iran is indeed about Iranian bloggers. We Are Iran -- The Persian Blogs, by Nasrin Alavi, a London-based Iranian journalist, is a fascinating account of the explosive growth of the Iranian blogosphere.

And yet for all the fawning coverage over the past decade of Iranian reformists, whose brief and hopeful heyday under former President Mohammad Khatami came crashing down with Ahmadinejad's election, the overwhelming impression Americans have of Iran remains that of the bearded and black-veiled revolutionaries of a generation ago, during the hostage crisis, chanting "Death to the Great Satan!" -- a seemingly alien, inscrutable, implacably hostile land of raving fanatics. President Ahmadinejad has certainly reinforced this impression with his bellicose speeches doubting the Holocaust and declaring that Israel should be wiped off the map.

But here it seems to me we have too often been swayed by two more classic errors of foreign correspondence. One is the danger of dwelling on exotica. It's not just the ubiquitous images of black chadors which, in geopolitics no less than in physiology, obscure more than they reveal. It's Islam itself, as vaguely defined an abstraction today as it was in 1979. The very use of the label "Islamic" to characterize Iran's regime falls prey to a propaganda ploy that even many of the Iranian regime's most loyal supporters -- people like Ali in Mashhad -- no longer take seriously. In four trips to Iran in the last two years, I formed an impression that "Islamic" is scarcely more informative as a descriptive adjective for the Islamic Republic than "Democratic" was informative about East Germany when it billed itself the German Democratic Republic.

Many Iranians will tell you that the key to understanding Iranian politics is to be found not in religious teachings but in the universal exigencies of power: the book to read is not the Koran but Machiavelli. The thing to remember is, as an Iranian diplomat wryly put it to me, citing Tip O'Neill: "All politics is local." And another thing: "Follow the money." President Ahmadinejad may well be genuinely motivated by religious ideology, but if he is, most Iranians will tell you, he is just about the only Iranian leader who is. And he is not the most powerful leader in Iran, least of all on foreign policy. The most powerful is the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who likewise talks tough -- in July he said the Israeli strikes against Lebanon proved that "the presence of Zionists in the region is a Satanic and cancerous presence" -- but is widely viewed as a cunning pragmatist who governs by consensus among an array of competing interests and political rivals.

Iranian politicians, like politicians everywhere, are mostly motivated by power, not religious ideology. Religion in Iran, as elsewhere throughout history, has political uses -- and abuses -- that suffuse the struggle for power. In the Islamic Republic, Islam is a mask of power.

Two U.S.-based scholars of Iranian background, Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr, put it this way in their concise and informative new history, Democracy in Iran -- History and the Quest for Liberty: "Born of a social revolution, the theocratic edifice of the Islamic Republic has nevertheless produced a pragmatic authoritarian regime. That regime speaks in the language of Islam but rules over society and the economy in ways that are familiar to political observers of developing societies." The Gheissari-Nasr book, while sometimes dense and dry for a general reader, is also a useful reminder that Iran, more than any other Muslim country in the Muslim Middle East apart from Turkey, has a century-long history of struggle for democracy and the rule of law. That struggle has been repeatedly sabotaged not just by the revolutionary mullahs but by the United States, which helped topple the elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq in a CIA-backed coup in 1953.

Professor Nasr has also published a second book this year called The Shia Revival, a valuable primer on Sunni-Shia divisions. In it he highlights how religion is but a small piece of the larger context meant to be described by such sectarian labels. "It is not just a hoary religious dispute," he tells us, "a fossilized set piece from the early years of Islam's unfolding, but a contemporary clash of identities. Theological and historical disagreements fuel it, but so do today's concerns with power, subjugation, freedom, and equality, not to mention regional conflicts and foreign intrigues."

The ritual identifier "Islamic" is problematic for another reason: it perpetuates flawed assumptions about motives and alliances. We assume that "Islamic" Iran is somehow allied with other groups that call themselves "Islamic," not least al Qaeda. The Bush administration has reinforced this impression with its repeated characterization of Iran as "the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism," conflating Iran in our "war against terrorism" with the authors of September 11. The press too often repeats that characterization uncritically. In fact, Shiite Iran was a mortal enemy of both al Qaeda and the Taliban. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Iran helped the United States bring down the Taliban by facilitating ties with Iran's old ally in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance.

It's worth noting, too, that the "world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism" formulation obscures the fact that Iran's support for terrorism over the last decade has been confined almost exclusively to Lebanon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which Iran has long backed the rejectionist groups Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Iran has not been linked to an attack on American interests since the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Saudi Arabia.

Lamentable as Iran's support for Hamas and Hezbollah may be, it seems to me that here we have too often been swayed by a third classic error of foreign correspondence: projecting the template from a different part of the world at another time in history -- in this case the Holocaust -- onto contemporary problems in a part of the world, the Middle East, where the circumstances are far from analogous. For all the recent rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map, which is hardly new, the Iranians are not Nazis.For one thing, Iran is not the dominant military power in the region, Israel is. Iran can harass Israel through its proxies, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, but it lacks the military capacity to attack Israel itself. Moreover, Iran lacks a rational motive for doing so, since Israel would surely respond to such an attack with massive force that could jeopardize the Iranian regime's survival in power.

For all its bluster, many Iranians and most experts on Iran will tell you, the Iranian leadership is not irrational. Time and again, at least since the disillusioning end of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran's rulers, when given the choice between ideology and national interests, have come down on the side of national interests. At the same time, Israel, looking after its own strategic interests and viewing Iran as a rival in a post-cold war world bereft of the Soviet threat that reliably bound Washington to Jerusalem, has often invoked the moral clarity of the Holocaust to demonize Iran. It was former Prime Minister Shimon Peres who first called Iran "more dangerous than Hitler." More recently, Israel's current prime minister, Ehud Olmert, called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "a psychopath of the worst kind. He speaks like Hitler did of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation."

For a timely and provocative history of the rivalry between Israel and Iran, we will soon have the forthcoming Treacherous Triangle -- the Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel, and the United States, by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-born scholar. Parsi's research cuts through the existentialist rhetoric of all sides and views this frightening conflict through the cold-eyed calculations of regional rivals ever jockeying not to annihilate each other but merely to gain strategic advantage. The book should be required reading for those inclined to see conflict in the Middle East as a zero sum contest of good against evil.

Likewise, Ali Ansari's Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Crisis in the Middle East is a thoughtful, readable, and well-reasoned history of relations between the United States and Iran that cautions against too much moral clarity on either side. Ansari, an Iranian-born historian at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, reviews not just the indelible tragedies of the 1953 coup and the 1979 hostage crisis, but also the many opportunities that have been lost as both sides seem forever bent on bringing out the worst in each other. Ansari, no apologist for the mullahs, nevertheless argues that after years of bellicose rhetoric from the Bush administration about "regime change" and "the axis of evil," which to Iranian ears sound every bit as terrifying as "wiped off the face of the map" sounds to Israelis, the Iranian leadership is convinced that Washington's attempt to block Iran from developing nuclear weapons is only a thinly veiled attempt to do to Iran what it did to Iraq. "This fear is at the heart of the political inertia that has constrained political debate and allowed a hard-line reaction to take hold," Ansari writes. "No serious internal challenge will be contemplated while the very idea of Iran is considered under threat. Many in the West are too easily impressed by the Islamic rhetoric that periodically emanates from the Islamic Republic to recognize that at the core what matters is Iran. Islam may be the means for some, but for the vast majority Iran is the end."

For Iranians, the coup of 1953 remains seared in national myth and memory, the fateful betrayal of Iranian democracy that exposed America's ever-lasting perfidy. For Americans, the hostage crisis of 1979-1981 was a kind of mirror image, a permanent scar in our collective psyche that has cast Iran as forever beyond the pale. The hostage crisis is the subject of a huge new book called Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden, best-selling author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo. Bowden's formidable reporting and narrative skills have produced a vivid and sometimes gripping recreation of the hostages' ordeals and those of the mostly hapless decision-makers in the Carter administration.

But to what end? At a time of renewed crisis with Iran, what insight can we gain from this event with the benefit of hindsight? What can we learn about Iran that would help us confront the challenge we face today? Here Bowden has little to offer. Even as he succeeds in rekindling the old heat, he sheds disappointingly little fresh light on the Iranians, then or since. Because Bowden is a journalist of considerable stature and his book is likely to reach a large audience, his account of the hostage affair is worth considering in some detail. (Full disclosure: I have spent the last three years working on a book of my own about the hostage crisis, focusing on political careers of the surviving Iranian hostage-takers, some of whom have emerged in middle age as prominent figures in Iran's embattled reform movement.)

Bowden has done extensive original reporting on the hostage crisis itself, but very little systematic reporting on subsequent events. He has spoken to scores of Americans, but he's done only limited reporting in Iran itself -- barely more than a dozen interviews, by his own account, in two brief trips to Tehran. He appears to have consulted no Persian-language sources, of which there are many.

The hazards of such limited reporting in Iran are only too evident. The book is entirely impressionistic on the country itself, and wrong in important respects. It draws no distinction, for instance, between the regime's propaganda and popular opinion. Bowden gives the reader no basis for knowing that a great many Iranians, including most of the former hostage-takers, despise the current regime.

Bowden does mention that several of the hostage-takers are now "reformers," but he gives the reader almost no information on what Iran's reform movement is all about, who supports it, or what it has been through -- the arrests (including of several prominent hostage-takers), the press closings, the beatings. Bowden seems to have missed altogether what to me is the most interesting and surprising aspect of the hostage-takers' careers, namely that Iran, of all places, has produced what many still view as the most promising (if currently embattled) democracy movement in the Muslim Middle East, and that the hostage-takers, of all people, have emerged as some of its most prominent early leaders.

Bowden's broader conclusions about the hostage-takers seem wrong to me, and he contradicts some of them with his own evidence. How they feel about their role in the hostage affair does not, as he observes, tend to define where they stand in Iran's political spectrum. Those who defend their role in the embassy seizure include prominent figures who have long since fallen out with the mullahs. Those who are ambivalent about their role include some who, far from staying in the shadows as Bowden says, have been leading journalists and reform strategists, including Abbas Abdi (who was recently released after two years in jail) and Saeed Hajjarian (the so-called "brains of reform," who was shot in the face and paralyzed). Bowden seems not to have reported at all on the obvious question of how those folks fell out with the regime, and why? And he seems never to have asked, What are we to make of it? Their counterintuitive evolution from student militants to leading democrats would certainly seem to call into question how well we understand large abstractions like "militant Islam."

Indeed, one important question he completely ignores is what Iranians, at this late date, have to say about "Islam." Instead, he settles for the familiar broad-brush abstraction, beginning with his subtitle: The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam. Two other post-September 11 books about the hostage crisis strike the same opening chord. David Harris's The CrisisThe President, the Prophet, and the Shah: 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam. David Farber's Taken Hostage (2004) was likewise subtitled The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter With Radical Islam. The apparently irresistible abstraction tells us very little. (2004) was subtitled

Bowden writes of "the nation's undying disdain for its once-favorite ally," but in fact, if you scratch beneath the surface of Iran, you find that many Iranians admire America and love Americans, if not always our government. He writes of "the different ways this event [the hostage crisis] is remembered in Iran and in the United States," and says that "many Iranians" remember it as an "unalloyed triumph" that has become "a keystone of the national mythology." But that is government propaganda that most Iranians seem to deplore."

For a more clear-eyed, authoritative, and compellingly written account of the human rights situation in Iran, we now have Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope, by the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. Co-authored with Azadeh Moaveni, Ebadi's memoir provides an unusually intimate look at some of the most infamous political assassinations, detention abuses, and student beatings of the past decade.

It's a story told by a courageous feminist lawyer who was herself detained in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, and who has represented the families of many prominent victims, including the family of the Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kasemi, who was beaten to death in police custody in 2002. It's a troubling story, to be sure, and it certainly puts in doubt the religious piety of those who claim to be acting in the name of God. And yet, as her mixed-message title suggests, Ebadi places herself within a much larger tradition of activism and yearning for democracy and the rule of law, a powerful undercurrent of Iranian society that is highlighted in all these books. It is that deeply rooted tradition, often frustrated yet remarkably resilient, that gives her cause for hope. It is also what makes Ebadi and all these other Persian-speaking writers deeply apprehensive about American threats against Iran. "The threat of regime change by military force, while reserved as an option by some in the Western world, endangers nearly all the efforts democracy-minded Iranians have made in these recent years," Ebadi writes. "The threat of military force gives the system a pretext to crack down on its legitimate opposition and undermines the nascent civil society that is slowly taking shape here. It means Iranians overlook their resentment of the regime and move behind their unpopular leaders out of defensive nationalism. I can think of no scenario more alarming, no internal shift more dangerous than that engendered by the West imagining that it can bring democracy to Iran through either military might or the fomentation of violent rebellion."

Bill Berkeley is the author of The Graves Are Not Yet Full -- Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa (2001). He teaches writing at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, and is writing a book about the Iranian hostage-takers.




  • Deter Iran
  • Allah Akbar!
  • رمضان
  • humint ONLINE
  • Prince Arrested
  • Counter Extreemists
  • Target Iran's Youth
  • Iraq to America
  • Iran's Donkey
  • العراقي Parliamentary Progress
  • the American Street
  • From a "Free" Country
  • Self-determination, not self-preservation.
  • Accept Criticism
  • Jihad, Lord's Supper, eternal life
  • Yemen Stops 4 Al Qaeda
  • Israel indicts 3 Hezbollah
  • Cotton and Oil
  • Military Dictatorship - Sheibani
  • Ineptitude on Iran - Askari
  • بلال بن رباح
  • Frederick Douglass
  • U.S. Constitution - Second Amendment
  • Koran 2.256
  • The Tehran Calculus
  • Iran: Know Thine Enemy

    01.90   06.90   09.90   01.91   05.91   09.94   08.95   01.97   09.97   08.98   11.99   01.00   05.00   07.00   03.01   09.01   01.03   03.03   05.03   06.03   07.03   09.03   10.03   11.03   03.04   05.04   06.04   07.04   09.04   10.04   11.04   12.04   01.05   02.05   03.05   04.05   05.05   06.05   07.05   08.05   09.05   10.05   11.05   12.05   01.06   02.06   03.06   04.06   05.06   06.06   07.06   08.06   09.06   10.06   11.06   12.06   01.07   02.07   03.07   04.07   05.07   06.07   07.07   08.07   09.07   10.07   11.07   12.07   01.08   06.08   09.08  


  • Best of Google Vid
  • Iraqhurr Radio Free Iraq
  • Kurdistan TV
  • RFE Radio Liberty
  • Radio Free Iraq
  • 1st Headlines
  • Al Bab
  • Al Bawaba - ARABIC
  • Al Bawaba - ENGLISH
  • Al Iraqi
  • Aswat al Iraq - ARABIC
  • Aswat al Iraq - ENGLISH
  • Aswat al Iraq - KURDISH
  • Big News Network
  • EIN News
  • Electronic Iraq
  • Inside Iraq
  • Iraq Crisis Bulletin
  • Iraq Daily
  • Iraq Economy
  • Iraq Energy
  • Iraq Journal
  • Iraq Net
  • Iraq Photos
  • Iraq Sport
  • Iraq Updates
  • Iraqi News
  • Iraqi Papers
  • Moreover
  • One World
  • RUSI
  • Sotal Iraq
  • Topix
  • Yahoo
  • Zawya
  • Baghdad Bulletin
  • Economist
  • Az Zaman - ENGLISH
  • Iraq Today
  • Guardian
  • Al Mannarah
  • Al Ahali
  • Al Fourat
  • Al Itijah Al Akhar
  • Al Ittihad
  • Al Sabah
  • Al Tariq
  • Alef Yaa
  • Baghdad
  • Baghdad
  • Iraq Today
  • Radio Dijla
  • humint

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?