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Iran in a state department's deja vu
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-05-03 10:02:55
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Was what I read in the news a déjà vu, or is it just me? According to a US State Department report, Iran remains the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world. My next thought was, when the invasion will start? I never thought much good of Iran and its religious freak dictators, nor did I in the past think of Saddam as the defender of democracy – on the contrary, I always said that Saddam’s regime should end. And I strongly believe that the world will be a much better place the day the clerics of Tehran reduce their actions in the shrines and temples, and start preaching love instead of hate.

But unfortunately the recent past has taught us that when reports like these emerge, bad news follows, usually for the local innocents!

The same report states that Iran plays a major role in planning and financing terror related activities in the Middle East and in Afghanistan, and that it threatens all international efforts to promote peace in the region. Of course this hints at another big threat, the almighty al-Qaeda. Other countries were mentioned in the report, such as Syria, but I failed to see any mention of the main financier of al-Qaeda and Bin Laden: Saudi Arabia! Actually Mexico is unlucky because pork is not popular in the Middle East; otherwise Iranians might have been blamed even for the swine flu!

I know I have often written about the Iranian dictators and I’m not going to stop writing about them. I have also written that I think the Syrian ruling regime is the real local menace. But this doesn’t mean that I will ever support any kind of violent solution to these problems, especially not from abroad.  After all, Iraq is a good example of how violent solutions only make things more complicated. Instead of saving lives, they end up costing everybody far more than anybody expected.

Franco’s regime and the Greek dictators weren’t kicked out by invaders; they were kicked out by the people who wanted only one thing: freedom. Even the strictest of regimes have ended when the people decided to act. Eastern Europe is a good example of this. The time frame for something like that to happen differs in each country, depending on the social structure of the country. Saddam crossed the line by invading Kuwait, and he personally became an international problem, demanding interference. The world acted, but unfortunately left the job half done – but this is a different story all together.

We are now faced with two questions: one is preparing for action, whatever the action might be, even if it means putting diplomatic pressure on Iran by threatening with violence. Secondly: how is a terrorist nation identified, and how can they prove it? I think the second part is somehow the most important, because again as history has taught us; it is easy to call any kind of opposition terrorism, thereby victimizing the rest. But don’t forget that in the past there have been many cases where the terrorists became the liberators and vice-versa, all within in a few hours.

If proof exists, why doesn’t the US State Department present it to everybody? Instead of being met with doubt and suspicion, they would receive the full support of all nations, and more importantly, they would receive the full support of all the people around the world. Don’t forget that after 9/11, the American administration enjoyed the support of the entire world, regardless of any other old disputes.

But the proof has to be solid. Remember the past with all the fabricated reports that led to the invasion of Iraq. At the moment the State Department is using indications and rumors collected by intelligence, which in everyday life translates into gossip –pompous and often rhetoric accusations of lack of democracy, repeated disrespect for human rights, mysterious funding to suspicious individuals and the sworn opposition to Israel.

Earlier I said that there is another country, actually the major player in the region, which covers all of the above characteristics, but which is never mentioned in any of the reports: Saudi Arabia. Who is protecting Saudi Arabia from joining the list of state sponsored terrorism, the list of countries violating all human rights? After all, this is the country that is the backstage of al-Qaeda and its branches.

Why is it not mentioned anywhere? I suppose a list of answers is already in your mind, but the major question is, how are we going to promote democracy and peace, when we have two different measures that contradict each other most of the time? You may have noticed that I avoid referring to anything like Guantanamo, respecting what the American President has promised to do with the camp of international embarrassment.

Of course Iran’s regime carries the very same virus of stupidity and arrogance all dictators share, and it continues to provoke the world with hateful rhetoric and pointless statements. This only excuses more provocations and they do it so often, and so badly, that it makes me wonder if they don’t deserve everything they get!

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Dimitra Karantzeni2009-05-03 12:33:26
Thanos, I suppose the connection you've made, by referring to a "deja-vu" is well-based. Truely, USA's propaganda, in order to prepare the public opinion for a diplomatic pressure or even an operation - their so called 'war against terrorism', usually starts likes this. On the other hand, there are few who claim that Iran is one of the most powerful strategic players in the Middle East, which in fact limits radically the american prospects. Who knows...

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-03 15:45:38
“I strongly believe that the world will be a much better place the day the clerics of Tehran reduce their actions in the shrines and temples, and start preaching love instead of hate.”

Thanos, while concurring with most of what you refer to in the above, I disagree with the reductionism expressed in the above sentence. Let me explain why lest I be misunderstood as defending tyrants and despots which is exactly what the clerics in charge of Iran are. But one need not be a cleric to be a tyrant, as you yourself acknowledge about the late Sadham Hussein. What I find perplexing is that while you commendably allow the voice of religion a place in this very magazine, you then suggest that it should be “reduced” (in philosophy that is called reductionism and it is never a positive) and muzzled in the public square. Would it not be beneficial to the public good to allow it to compete in the market place of ideas where it can be examined under the light of reason and moderation, rather than giving it an excuse for fanaticism and extremism and the political setting up of theocracies, the worst kind of political system within a democracy? (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-03 15:46:11
Actually the two articles on the concept of multiple modernities by Habermas published in Ovi already explains the disagreement, for Habermas for one, among other scholars in Europe, is convinced that it is a great ideological mistake for Europe to be the only continent on earth to insist on relegating religion’s voice to the church, the mosque, the temple, or the synagogue to the exclusion of the public square. Voltaire said that he might disagree till death with someone but he was ready to defend to death his right to disagree with him. Indeed, he ought to have taken his own counsel and while disagreeing and even despising religion he ought to have continued to defend to death its right to a voice in the public agora rather than suggesting its reductionism or even worse, its liquidation.

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