Monday, August 10, 2015

Iran: The Bitter Harvest

[this essay was written in support of an agreement that Barack Obama reached with Iran in August of 2015, but many of the points continue to be applicable after that issue has passed from the public consciousness]

We, in the USA,  find ourselves reaping the bitter fruits of a long period of misguided foreign policy, policy that has been as evil as it has been stupid. We have supported brutal, unpopular regimes around the world to advance short term interests, ignoring the ill will we were sowing in the people affected. We have repeatedly abused our super power status.

First, there was the anti-communist period.

Iran is only one country that has been the object of such treatment. Our CIA helped overthrow a popular government in Iran in favor of a shah, whose policies were more palatable to us.

This action totally ignored the future. Most Iranians were furious about our actions. Eventually they wrested control back to an elected government. This government, being a reaction to anger over our actions, was angry at the USA and unpleasantly conservative, more so than it might have been if we had not intervened.

We did something worse in Chile, where we conspired to destroy an 84 year old democracy, because the elected president was a communist. The resulting brutal dictatorship was known for "disappearing" large numbers of people.  This became the topic of a popular song

Worse still was our intervention in Viet Nam, where we fought for years to prevent a popular election, because we feared that communists would be elected. The result was untold carnage. Fortunately those people are Buddhists and seem to have forgiven us.

With the passage of time, we have come to see that our domino theory ideas, which led us into many of these actions, did not come to fruition. Politics is much more complex than black and white dotted toys. We also did not recognize that a communist government, popularly elected through a constitutional democracy, might be a very different thing from the Soviet Union or Maoist China.

I don't really understand the history of Korea, but whatever we did there has at least contributed to the survival of the fiendish lunacy that they call a government there.

More recently there has been the period of attacking Muslim regions.

The evil folly of our intervention in Iraq is fresher in our memory. First, we took the side of Kuwait in an oil dispute, ignoring the fact that Kuwait was one of those countries where women were held as slaves, while Iraq was a country where women had relatively better status. Women's rights have never taken a sufficiently important role in our considerations of foreign policy.

Then Bush II, and Cheney, conspired to deceive the American people into participating in a second war in Iraq that benefited Cheney's company at horrendous expense, both in money and in human lives. They overthrew a stable government that kept terror under control, in favor of violent anarchy. They violated the Geneva convention, relating to war criminals, a treaty our country self-righteously imposed on others, by authorizing torture and refusing international inspection. They are war criminals, yet they walk free.

Afghanistan is a strange story. Our fear of the Soviet Union was so great that we backed and trained the mujahideen, an insurgent group that opposed Soviet influence in the region. We didn't look too closely at who we were training, because we trained the likes of Osama bin Laden.

I remember reading an interview with a mujahideen member in Time magazine back in the early eighties. The fighter was asked why he opposed the USSR. He replied that they wanted to educate women and girls, which he opposed. It immediately occurred to me that, in our blind fear of the Soviets, we had rushed to help the bad guys. We saw that later, when the Taliban arose, saw too late the folly of our actions.

Then we rushed to install Karzai in Afghanistan, one of Bush II's oil industry cronies, becoming involved on the pretext that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan, when it now appears that he was in Pakistan. While this action seemed temporarily successful, we see the Taliban coming back now -- those same women haters who we helped back in the 70's and 80's.

Ever since WWII, our military adventurism has been mostly evil and stupid, earning us much enmity all over the world.

People in the Middle East, in particular, remember military adventurism from other countries as well, notably European countries, not only in modern times, but also in ancient times,  especially during the crusades which is still a topic frequently mentioned by terrorists, and which provokes a lot of negative emotions in the minds of Middle Easterners.

I remember being in seventh grade social studies and having Mrs. Raymond, at Cherokee Junior High School, teaching us about the Monroe Doctrine.  For those of you who dont remember, this was a policy instituted during the early history of the USA.  We undertook to protect other Western Hemisphere countries against European military incursions. 

I asked her, Who is going to protect them from us?

She said No one needs to be protected from us.

Really, Mrs. Raymond?  Really? Why are we studying in a school called "Cherokee?"  What did we do to the native peoples?

So now we find, "Gee whiz! Iran is actually a fairly powerful, wealthy country. They're developing nuclear capability, and they hate us."

As I stood on 8/10/15 in front of the Manhattan building where Schumer has an office, protesting Schumer's stance on Obama's agreement with Iran, I heard a counter protestor shouting, do you trust Iran? He was talking to someone else. I didnt say anything,

Afterwards, I thought No, I dont.  Do you trust the government of the USA? If you do, theres a bridge in Brooklyn Id like to sell you.

Still, my sense is that Iran is not part of the axis of evil, the way Bush II characterized it.  They have a democracy granted not perfect, but still a democracy of sorts.  The people there do have a deep concern about morality maybe not our sense, but still a sense.  Theyre not at all like North Korea, where the people are held in slavery to a mythical king.

One question is whether Iran is less to be trusted with nuclear weapons than countries that  already have them, such as Russia, China, Pakistan, India, France, the UK, Israel, and North Korea.  I would personally rate them as more trustworthy than North Korea and Pakistan possibly on a level with China and India, in terms of the quality of people who are in government. 

We should note that, as afraid as we were of Russia using nuclear weapons against us, it has never happened.  Please note my prior blog about Russia Russia v Ukraine a Dissenting View

What is the only country that has used nuclear weapons in war?  The USA!

What moral authority do we have to say that we should have nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction while others cannot? My view is none no moral authority whatsoever.  Our history is shameful -- as I've listed above.  We're just international bullies.

The real problem here is that Israel is afraid that Iran is going to attack them.  Its not the nuclear weapons exactly after all Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons itself, though I dont think thats been officially confirmed.  The problem is that Iran has committed to wiping Israel out. 

Its a unfortunate that were arguing about nuclear weapons rather than the real issue.

It would be more cool if Iran were committing not to invade/bomb Israel, much more cool, but what we have is this proposed agreement.  Its remarkable, given that we have had this ignominious history of perfidy with respect to Iran, and so many others, that theyre willing to talk to us at all.  Thats to be celebrated.  That we got any kind of concessions out of them at all is a miracle.

Can we trust them?  No.  Can they trust us?  No.  Will they abide by the agreement?  Who knows?  Will we? Who knows?

Still its progress. Its a commitment not to go into nuclear weapons.  Thats cool.  It should be supported.

The alternative seems to me to be war short-sighted, evil, misguided war a reflection of the short-sighted, evil pattern that weve been exhibiting for so very long. Let's stop this pattern.  Let's stop trying to control the world.


Addendum 8/26/15 Here is a link to the FCNL flyer on the topic of the Iran deal FCNL FLYER


I was at a protest demonstration in front of Chuck Schumer's office and an obnoxious person came up and started making outrageous statements which I later realized were sardonic critiques of Obama's Iran Deal.  She claimed he would do well as Hitler, and wanted to wipe out Jews.

I found this offensive.  My father was a refugee from the Holocaust, because his ancestry was Jewish.  
I do not want to wipe out Jews.

I think that we have a better chance of negotiating with Iran about Iran's position on Israel if we have good relations with them.  This deal is a good step in that direction.

Also she implied that Iran is like North Korea. NO.  I don't think so, not at all.