Ooooooh, betcha didn't think this was an international affairs blog, didja?!
Yeah, I was interested in that stuff long before I twiddled around with gender studies, gender relations, & feminism.
I finally got my act together to put together a smorgasbord of my favorite articles on what we should be doing with respect to Iran. I posted it in response to a thread on a message board called, "The Iranian Threat."
From this article I took away the idea that everybody needs to pick up on what Ali Eteraz has found on a smattering of blogs, including a smattering of (though certainly not enough) left-leaning blogs.
Eteraz.org, one of the best sites ever on the Muslim world wrote:
This week the rightosphere was all agog over one particular news story: Iranian students protesting Ahmedinejad and the Iranian mullahocracy.
Norm wrote on it; so did Dr. Yes; also the Bear of Truthiness; Gateway Pundit did; so did RegimeChange Iran.
Question: what lesson did they draw from this? Aside from the brisk conclusion that there are people in Iran who do not like Ahmedinejad, nothing. Further, upon seeing a totally native outpouring of dissent in Iran, none of them became intrigued enough to revisit the Invade Iran debate. These bloggers could have wondered one simple thing: perhaps invasion is counterproductive in light of the fact that given the right circumstances, Iranians themselves will put appropriate leaders in place (whereas a war started by outsiders would likely destroy any chance of these dissenters succeeeding).
This is not the first time that the rightosphere has stopped its investigation of Iran despite the discovery of dissent in Iran. A few weeks ago bloggers found another Iranian dissent worth clapping for; namely, Ayatollah Boroujerdi -- a traditionalist Shia ayatollah who hates the Iranian regime. Back then Gateway covered him. So did the FreeRepublic. So did Pajamasmedia (with a video no less!).
Again, what lessons did the right derive from the presence of this dissenter (with a very large following clearly)? Did they revisit the Invade Iran debate to ask the simple question: does, or does not, a war against Iran advance the chance of people like Boroujerdi and the student dissenters? (The answer is that a war derails any chance these guys have, but I would have been satisfied with any kind of introspection).
It also became pretty clear to me that it was the Left which was doing the best analysis of dissenters in Iran. The Left. It was the Left which broke the Ayatollah Boroujerdi story (Soros owned), for example.
Not only that, it is again the Left which has broken another huge story about a very important Iranian dissenter, who is being called the Iranian Gandhi, namely: Ramin Jahanbegloo.
Open Democracy (Soros owned), started talking about him and his non-violent approach in May. They followed up on it in September.
Simultaneously Ramin Jahanbegloo got picked up by a quasi-Left (certainly not Right) publication called Logos (its board of advisors includes Drucilla Cornell, an uber-feminist). Logos interviewed him. They followed up on him and argued that he was creating a Velvet Revolution in Iran. Meanwhile, that Soros owned publication set up an Open Letter for Ramin's release which was signed by, which was signed by such Right luminaries and Mr. No One, and Miss Not Available and by such Left luminaries as Noam Chomsky, Juan Cole, Howard Zinn, Shadia Drury, Umberto Ecco and Immanuel Wallerstein.
So, who would you rather listen to when it comes to Iran? I say go with the Left. Please keep in mind that I don't hate the Right. I pick up many great stories from them not available elsewhere and I share their hawkish position towards terrorism. However, ultimately I consider myself Center Left, and it bears demonstrating that the Left is at the forefront of democracy promotion and dissent when it comes to Iran, and they do it without the need to talk about Invasion from morning till night.
Anyhow, please go and follow up on Ramin Jahanbegloo:
Here is one of his offending articles which talks about Auschwitz.
Here is his website with his articles.
Here are some secondary sources on Ramin.
Here is the website of the Ganji you do need to know about: Akbar Ganji, the Iranian dissenter.
(Go to the original article for the hyperlinks originally in the text; I'm in a hurry to get to work and am not going to paste them all back in here.)
Now, one of the better posters on that site, Samaha, does bring up a fair point:
We had been waiting for that revolution for ages, it was supposed to be the first domino to fall for change. So, so, so close and what happened? How did they end up with Almanamanadingbat?
But anyway, my point of posting all this is that the growing opinion among scholars and people who get their news from scholars--especially ones who have studied how international relations & politicking play out--aren't worried about a "threat" from Iran.
They feel like it's not a country most of us here would like to live in, but that they're not going to wipe Israel off the map and that they're not going to attack us, either.
They feel like we should be asking, "How did they end up with Almanamanadingbat [when they don't seem to like him]?" perhaps, as a question that could guide us to sensible policy in the future, but not asking, "How do we interact with the rest of the Iranian government and the part of the Iranian government that will probably come into power in the next 5-10 years?"
This article, also posted on Eteraz.org, especially makes me feel like we should be as interested in what kind of Iranian government we could be interacting with if we just lay off the "threat" thing (since the experts, even if not the mass media, are saying that that's perfectly reasonable to do):
The similarities between Bush and Nejad do not stop. They started off merely looking alike: short beady eyed weasel with combovers and stupid laughs; they both tricked their populations into voting against their own interests by using social values; they both became apocalyptic psychos; their approval ratings sank to equivalent lows simultaneously; and they both, now, have suffered beatings at the midterm elections at the hands of the "progressives" and "reformists."But on Thursday, Ahmadinejad had no reported comments on the final election results, which showed moderate conservatives opposed to his policies had won a majority of seats. The second biggest bloc of vote-getters were reformists, making a comeback after being driven out of local councils, parliament and the presidency over the past five years -- a result many analysts interpreted as a repudiation of the status quo.
Instead, Ahmadinejad spent the day in western Iran, telling crowds that Iran would never dismantle its nuclear program and referring to President Bush as the "most hated person" in Iran -- the kind of fiery focus on international issues that a number of analysts said was behind his loss at the polls.Similar anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment appeared in final results of a parallel election for the Assembly of Experts, the body of 86 senior clerics that monitors Iran's supreme Islamic leader and chooses his successor.
"We consider this government's policy to be against Iran's national interests and security," said Saeed Shariati, a leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist party. His party seeks democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment and supports resumed relations with the United States.
A big boost for moderates was the large number of votes for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election runoff. Rafsanjani, who also supports dialogue with the United States, got the most votes of any candidate from Tehran to win re-election to the assembly.
Hey Ahmedinejad, keep focusing on Israel, ok? Just like Bush focused on Iraq. Focus your way straight out of office.
If this parallel is true (whether or not you like Bush and whether or not you like Democrats and whether or not you like progressives), it would behoove us to pay as much attention to what it would be like if we were dealing with the potential takers-over as it did for the Muslim world's media to pay attention to our potential takers-over--that is, to assume that not all administrators of a country want the same things, and that we need to be prepared for all sorts of "Irans" the same way they debated in preparation for all sorts of "USAs"
And, lastly, though on account of having read about how diplomacy works (and doesn't ever get around to the "talking" part that would make it work far too often!) in this book, I thought I'd throw in one US soldier's opinion about a particular question our diplomats should ask to Iran's diplomats:
He goes on:
We want Iran to stop sponsoring militias in Iraq and Lebanon and other terrorists. They want us to stop calling for regime change. If we are willing to do the one, are they willing to do the other? Has anyone ever freakin' asked them?
Now, there is also the question of Iranian nuclear status. Perhaps it is time to make realism the guiding light here. Nuclear bombs can be built by crappy little countries run by goofy-looking degenerates who can't even manage to get a decent haircut. It is unrealistic to expect that we can keep them out of the hands of determined countries. What we can do is make the consequences clear to Iran--that with the power will come a certain level of responsibility to control their nuclear power, and also that the United States will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if forced to a direct confrontation with another nuclear power.
The United States can posture all we like about the Axis of Evil and war to the death with Iran. It's not realistic, and if we meant it, we'd be working a lot harder for regime change. Hence abandoning a rhetorical stance that serves no one and means nothing in favor of a no kidding offer of substantive negotiations in good faith (an approach not yet tried in dealing with Iran) costs us nothing but has the prospect of huge payoff. Maybe it is time to realize that the Shah fell the year after I was born, and nothing is going to put him back. We can't have a puppet government in Iran, but maybe we can have one we can get along with. After all, the French are just as hostile and George isn't calling for regime change in Paris.
And heck, let's get real honest. If they don't play ball, we can always nuke them into glass.
But the Persians were a civilized people when our ancestors were painting themselves blue and running around naked. Treating them like they are defined by a handful of religious nutjobs doesn't get us anywhere.
We are more likely to cause Iran to evolve in positive directions (secular, democratic, free) by having contact with America and Americans through diplomacy, trade, even tourism than we are by ranting in their direction while they rant at us. We can support economic and human rights reforms more effectively within the framework of normalized relations than we can from the otherside of a self-imposed moat.
(He is not the only person I've seen who says that
- the Iranians have the democratic process down better than any other Middle Eastern country, despite what it looks like from over here and
- the form of Islam-as-an-important-guiding-principle-for-our-country that this democracy brings to power is not the kind that we need to get our panties in a bunch over; it's actually a bunch of people saying, "What's this shit that you've been saying is Islamic? How about the Islamic principles of free speech in the community, popular participation in decision-making, etc?")
Much like our "liberal Christians" have been trying to voice their opinions about Christianity and feel that "real Christianity" could make our policy a lot better. (Whether you agree with them or not, I hope this is at least a useful illustration of what type of Islamicization the experts are predicting over in Iran through its democratic processes.)
Unfortunately, I lost the main link I had reflecting that opinion. Please forgive me. I'll look it up later!