Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Post #352 - Inching toward War

The following article, "A March of Folly Toward Iran," was written by Paul R. Pillar and published on ConsortiumNews.com (9/24/12), having first been published by The National Interest. Pillar was a top analyst at the CIA and teaches security studies at Georgetown University.


Two actions at the end of last week, involving two different branches of the U.S. government, continued a pattern of unthinking support for anything that gets perceived as opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

One such action was passage by the U.S. Senate in the middle of the night of a resolution declaring that the United States and other countries have a “vital interest” in working “to prevent the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.” The resolution “rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.”

Never mind that this resolution buys into Benjamin Netanyahu’s “red line” game of talking about “nuclear weapons capability,” which by some measures Iran already has now, rather than possession of a nuclear weapon, which Tehran consistently disavows.

The most disturbing thing about the resolution is its categorical rejection — in the wee hours of the morning, no less, as Congress was rushing into its pre-election recess — of an entire category of policy options with no consideration whatsoever of the alternatives or any weighing of advantages and disadvantages in comparison with the alternatives.

All we get to accompany the rejection is a string of “whereas” clauses that repeat a familiar litany of things people don’t like about Iran.

Evidently some members who might otherwise have had reservations about this resolution were reassured by a clause stating that “nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.” The resolution passed 90-1, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, casting the only vote against.

But if the P5+1 (the countries of the UN Security Council plus Germany) continue refusing to offer any significant sanctions relief in return for major restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities and as a result the negotiations with Tehran go nowhere, we will inevitably hear voices loudly proclaiming that military force is the only way to abide by the policy objectives that this resolution declares.

Congressional statements such as this midnight resolution have a parallel from prior to the Iraq War: the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Although most of the members who voted for that legislation and the president (Bill Clinton) who signed it may have had no intention of facilitating a war, it became a benchmark that promoters of the war repeatedly referred to as a bipartisan statement that regime change in Iraq was the policy of the United States.

The other piece of anti-Iran posturing last week was the decision by the Obama administration to remove the Iranian cult-cum-terrorist group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK, from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. Adding groups to that list or removing groups from it is supposed to be a dull process of administrative and legal review, and usually it is.

But the MEK’s case became the subject of a lavishly funded public-relations campaign, unlike anything seen with any other group in the 15-year history of the list. Prominent figures, including well-known Democrats as well as Republicans, reportedly received five-figure fees to speak on behalf of delisting the group.

Many members of Congress and others, even if they did not prostitute themselves through such arrangements, naively believed that anything or anyone opposed to the Iranian regime must be worth supporting.

No good will come out of this subversion of the terrorist-group list with regard to conditions in Iran, the behavior or standing of the Iranian regime, the values with which the United States is associated or anything else.

The regime in Tehran will tacitly welcome this move (while publicly denouncing it) because it helps to discredit the political opposition in Iran — a fact not lost on members of the Green Movement, who want nothing to do with the MEK.

The MEK certainly is not a credible vehicle for regime change in Iran because it has almost no public support there. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime will read the move as another indication that the United States intends only to use subversion and violence against it rather than reaching any deals with it.

Although the list of foreign terrorist organizations unfortunately has come to be regarded as a kind of general-purpose way of bestowing condemnation or acceptance on a group, we should remember that delisting changes nothing about the character of the MEK. It is still a cult. It still has near-zero popular support in Iran. It still has a despicably violent history.

As for more recent chapters of that history, given how public the delisting issue became with the MEK, it probably would have been appropriate for the Department of State to address publicly the press reports, sourced to U.S. officials, that the MEK has collaborated with Israel on terrorist assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. But that, of course, would have required the politically inconvenient act of publicly addressing Israeli terrorism.

Attention to the issue of moving MEK members from one camp in Iraq to another camp in Iraq, and about threats to the group from within Iraq, appears to have become in the end an excuse for caving in to the public-relations campaign. Whether the group resides at Camp Ashraf or Camp Liberty doesn’t determine whether it meets the definition under U.S. law of a foreign terrorist organization.

Whatever problem there may have been at Camp Ashraf, it was the MEK itself that was balking at a move, not any Iraqis that threatened the group. If there is an issue of human rights and refugees, it is mainly one of permitting rank-and-file members to escape the control of the cult’s leaders.

The MEK story also has a parallel with the Iraq War. A role that the MEK has to some extent assumed for anti-Iran agitators in this country — and that the delisting will only encourage — recalls the prewar role played by Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress (INC).

Each case involved a group of exiles with a slick talent for manipulating public opinion in the United States but a paucity of support in their own countries. A possible difference is that the MEK’s support in Iran is even less than that of the INC in Iraq, given the former’s treasonous behavior (in Iranian eyes) during the Iran-Iraq War.

Both of last week’s actions, which involve both political parties and both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government, are discouraging not only for what they imply about discourse and policy on Iran but also for what they say more generally about U.S. policy-making. The competitive politics of an election campaign have not helped and probably have hurt.

Competitive politics did not have to hurt, especially at a time the Romney campaign is groping for any stick it can use to beat the Obama administration. On the MEK matter, the administration could be legitimately criticized for pusillanimously giving in to a terrorist group’s public-relations campaign. It could be charged with appearing to convey approval to a group whose behavior is repugnant to American values. It could be further charged with hurting the cause of democracy in Iran and providing propaganda points to the Iranian regime.

But the campaign evidently is sticking with the usual simplistic approach that anyone who bashes that regime must be a friend of ours — and besides, some prominent Romney advisers are among those who have spoken publicly on the MEK’s behalf.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Post #351 - Spineless New World

This is a link to a lengthy documentary on the press and politics.  Beginning just before the 45-minute mark, the video deals with what has come to be known as the "October Surprise" in which the Reagan administration allegedly took positive actions to delay the release of the U.S. hostages in Tehran:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_lYGyIaK80&feature=related

Post #350 - Out of Sight, Out of Mind

This piece comes from the Waging Non-Violence website (9/24/12) and was written by Sahar Namazikhah:

The Green Wave washes over a movement in hibernation

As the debate in Washington on whether to strike Iran advances — at the continued behest of Benjamin Netanyahu — the memory of the 2009 popular uprising against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection recedes. Ironically, the same people who were championed for taking to the streets are now potentially facing bombs and protracted war. It’s as if the world has no memory — not only of the Iranian people, whose courage was the source of daily coverage in the Western media that summer, but also the potential of people power to affect real and lasting change.

The recently released documentary The Green Wave is an invitation to remember. By recounting the early days of the Iranian Green Movement through the eyes of two fictional students and bloggers (the composite of over a thousand different entries in Iranian blogs), director Ali Samadi Ahadi tells the story of the Iranians who poured into the streets, screaming “Where is my vote?” At the same time, however, it also shows what happened next: kidnappings, beatings, stabbings, shootings and disappearances.

While the The Green Wave offers a reminder of the remarkable people who risked their lives for democratic change, it falls short in offering a way forward. There is no smile and no hope, but only fears as the audience is taken to dark rooms and torture cells — ultimately left feeling unsure of how this movement even formed in the first place. Knowing that history helps explain why, after three years of violent repression, Iranians still seem eager to rise up once again.

Despite the perception that the movement was led by elite and opposition leaders, it was the populace that started the demonstrations. Only after this mobilization did the reformist leadership join the protesters and help coordinate demonstrations and strikes.

Some analysts argue that one of the most obvious errors of the Green Movement was the dependence of the populace on these leaders. As evidence they point to the decreased number of demonstrations following the house arrest of the two major leaders of the movement, Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Reviewing the Green Movement’s successes and failures demonstrates that it is in the fifth stage of Bill Moyer‘s Eight Stages of a Social Movement. According to Moyers:

"After a year or two, the high hopes of movement take-off seems inevitably to turn into despair. Most activists lose their faith that success is just around the corner and come to believe that it is never going to happen. They perceive that the powerholders are too strong, their movement has failed, and their own efforts have been futile. Most surprising is the fact that this identity crisis of powerlessness and failure happens when the movement is outrageously successful — when the movement has just achieved all of the goals of the take-off stage within two years."

This final point of Moyers' is a positive one for the Green Movement and is bared out in my own interviews with Iranian activists. There is a strong and common belief, especially among young green activists, that “the movement has not died.” They believe that the movement is alive, but in a state of hibernation. The government seems to believe this as well, monitoring even minor activists, their families and friends. It knows full well the strength of this movement, its skill at organizing public demonstrations through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as reaching the outside world in spite of all efforts to block global electronic communications.

This current state of hibernation has not been helped by the international economic sanctions imposed on Iran. Many people are too distracted by their daily needs being threatened to focus on the movement. Meanwhile the main activists, organizers, planners and thinkers who would be working to move beyond the current situation are regularly placed in prison.

If this state of hibernation is to be broken, the movement needs to re-strategize and remind the populace of its beliefs, values and interests. Serbia’s Otpor movement did just that a little over a decade ago. Not unlike Iran today, Serbia was enduring U.S. economic sanctions and struggling with domestic pressures. But Otpor overcame the fears created by former Prime Minister Slobodan Milosevic by using tactics that put the government in a position where no matter how it reacted — either by ignoring the protestors or cracking down on them — it would lose. This strategy empowered the populace and led to increased participation and ultimately a general strike, which forced Milosevic out of power.

While some critics and analysts from outside and inside Iran continue to complain about the lack of strategic leadership and campaign organizing in the Green Movement, valuable time is being lost. They should instead be helping to strategize on how to wage a long-term campaign for the movement that will spur successive moves leading toward the achievement of social and political reforms.

Where The Green Wave fails in portraying hope and the positive aspects of the movement, it at least succeeds in reminding the world that Iranians desire to secure their own peace and justice. The story of how they awaken from hibernation and move forward in the aftermath of torture and suppression will be found in the next green wave. After all, the tide may go out, but waves will continue to roll in.


To know more, visit the website, http://www.thegreenwave-film.com/

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Post #349 - Really???

The following report was published by RIA-Novosti (9/23/12):

The Iranian Fars news agency reported that the United States denied entry visas to Iranian officials, including two ministers, expected to attend next week's U.N. General Assembly meeting.  The U.S. Department of State refrained from issuing visas for 20 of the 160 people for whom the Iranian government had requested entry visas two months ago.  Many Iranian officials are subject to travel bans under sanctions over Iran's controversial nuclear programme.  Fars did not name the two ministers denied visas to attend the UN General Assembly meeting, but it said that Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie would accompany Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Ahmadinejad is expected to give his final speech at the UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday.  Since he took office, Ahmadinejad has attended all annual UN General Assembly meetings.  Over 150 security officers will guarantee Ahmadinejad's security during his stay in New York.  Tehran is currently under several packages of Western-backed sanctions, including an EU-brokered oil embargo that came into effect on 1 July.  The USA, Israel and a number of Western European countries suspect Iran of running a nuclear weapons programme under the guise of a civil nuclear project.  Iran denies this; it maintains that its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful.


Can you imagine what the reaction of the United States Government would be if U.S. diplomats or representatives were kept from attending a meeting of a U.N. agency in Geneva or Brussels?  I expect that we would cut off all funding for the organization (many in Congress are itching for such an opening) -- in effect, take our marbles and go home. Remember, we have already had a fling with that approach in regard to UNESCO, pulling out our $60 million dollars in support when that agency admitted the Palestinians.

If we are in doubt about the Iranians' intentions, wouldn't it be better to have more contacts, rather then fewer?

Post #348 - Where You Stand Depends on Where You Are SItting

This morning's Washington Post contained (in the Outlook section), three articles that answered the question of what would happen if Israel attacked Iran.  One was written from the perspective of a person in Washington, DC, a second was a dispatch from Tehran, and the third attempted to give the view from Tel Aviv.

The salient conclusion one can draw from all three taken together is that such a strike would be likely to increase the unity and resolve of both Iranians and Israelis, and to leave the United States with no good options.

Here is a link to the pieces:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-if-israel-bombed-iran-the-view-from-washington/2012/09/21/05266fca-7f33-11e1-bc36-069277cb6efc_story.html

Friday, September 21, 2012

Post #347 - Eyes Wide Shut

The following came to me with my morning coffee, courtesy of our friends at the Washington Post  (9/20/12).  It was written by David Ignatius, one of my favorite sources of common sense on the subject of Iran.

Lessons from an Iranian war game

Perhaps it was the “fog of simulation.” But the scariest aspect of a U.S.-Iran war game staged this week was the way each side miscalculated the other’s responses — and moved toward war even as the players thought they were choosing restrained options.

The Iran exercise was organized by Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. It included former top U.S. officials as Washington policymakers, and prominent Iranian American experts playing Tehran’s hand. I was allowed to observe, on the condition that I wouldn’t name the participants.

The bottom line: The game showed how easy it was for each side to misread the other’s signals. And these players were separated by a mere corridor in a Washington think tank, rather than half a world away.

Misjudgment was the essence of this game: Each side thought it was choosing limited options, but their moves were interpreted as crossing red lines. Attacks proved more deadly than expected; signals were not understood; attempts to open channels of communication were ignored; the desire to look tough compelled actions that produced results neither side wanted.

Let’s walk through the simulation to see how the teams stumbled up the ladder of escalation. The game was set in July 2013, with some broad assumptions: It was assumed that President Obama had been reelected, the P5+1 negotiations remained deadlocked and Israel hadn’t launched a unilateral attack.

The game controllers added some spicy details: Assassinations of Iranian scientists were continuing; and the United States, Israel and Britain were developing a new cyberweapon (imaginary code name: National Pastime) to disrupt power to Iran’s nuclear and military facilities. Even so, the Iranian supreme leader thought that America was a paper tiger, telling aides: “The Americans are tired of the fight, and they are led by a weak man with no stomach for the struggle.”

Meanwhile, Iran was pushing ahead with its nuclear program; it had a rough design for a weapon and, in three to four months, would have enough highly enriched uranium to make two bombs. The action started on July 6 with an Iranian terror operation: A bomb destroyed a tourist hotel in Aruba, killing 137 people, many of them Americans, including a vacationing U.S. nuclear scientist. The damage at the hotel was far greater than the Iranians had expected.

The U.S. team recommended strong retaliatory moves to signal Iran that it had crossed an “unacceptable threshold.” The United States bombed a Revolutionary Guards camp in eastern Iran; launched a cyberattack that disrupted power at 40 Iranian security facilities; and warned Iranian operatives in 38 countries that they were known and vulnerable. U.S. military leaders in the game complained that these calibrated moves were half-measures.

Bombing the Iranians’ homeland rocked their team. It crossed a red line, in a way the U.S. side hadn’t anticipated. The Tehran players spurned a secret message from Obama, delivered through Russia, warning of “dire consequences” if the nuclear program wasn’t stopped; the imaginary Iranian defense minister called it a “bluff.” The Iranians wanted to respond forcefully but not so much so that they would trigger an attack on their nuclear facilities.

Then the Iranian team made what proved a devastating mistake. After rejecting the most aggressive options (such as attacking Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain), they chose limited actions, described as the “random mining” of the Strait of Hormuz and “harassment” of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf. The Iranians also dispersed their stockpile of uranium, but only half, to signal they were still willing to negotiate. But the United States missed the message.

“They’ve crossed our red line,” responded the imaginary U.S. national security adviser — expressing the group’s mistaken view that the Iranians had decided to close the strait and attack U.S. vessels. As tensions increased, oil prices headed toward $200 a barrel.

U.S. military options were between harsh and harsher: (a) reopen the strait by force and deliver an ultimatum that Iran stop its nuclear program within 24 hours; or (b) hit Iran’s nuclear facilities simultaneously with reopening the strait. Military logic seemed to require the strongest move. The U.S. team ultimately voted, 5 to 3, for an attack across Iran to disable the nuclear program and destroy coastal defenses.

The unsolved puzzle for the U.S. side was how to stop the conflict, once it started. The Iranians, for their part, had decided to bleed the United States in a protracted struggle. The lesson of the exercise, concluded Pollack, is that “small miscalculations are magnified very quickly.”

********************************************************************************

This account may -- quite understandably -- seem a bit scary to you. Let me tell you why I think it ought to seem scarier still:

One, in the real world, there tends to be an awful lot more interference by external factors. These may include: competing crises (just because things are going off the rails with Iran that doesn't mean that everything is uncharacteristically quiet in Afghanistan or Libya or Syria or that there aren't worrying developments elsewhere that come completely out of left field); political pressures can be intensely confounding (suppose the crisis intensified a week before the November elections? Suppose it reached a climax during a new president's first 100 days?). Such factors may have been built into the game, but it's not likely they were as bizarro as the real world often is.

Two, one might wonder who the gamers were in this case. While Ignatios is sworn to silence on that score, we can certainly surmise who some of them might have been. Ken Pollack is a knowledgeable, well-connected guy, who would likely tap some great resources within or just outside the Beltway. On the "Iran side" of the corridor, he might have installed people such as Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and author of two first-rate books on U.S.-Iran relations. Perhaps he'd invite Dr. Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, or Prof. Ahmad Iravani, who graduated in Islamic Studies in Qom and who has been an advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace. Or Ali Banuazizi from Boston College, who has been a member of the Council of Foreign Relations' Task Force on Public Diplomacy.

On the "United States" side, Pollack might have tapped Amb. John Limbert, a former hostage in Tehran and a teacher at the Naval Academy, author of Negotiating with Iran. Others may have included George R. Perkovich, an expert on nuclear strategy who has advised Vice President Biden on foreign policy during his Senate years. A military expert, such as ret. Adm. William O. Fallon (who headed the U.S. Central Command during the last decade) would be a must. Some former administration insiders and a scientist or two, and you've got it.

Why are these fantasy football team rosters scary? Because such a group would have a good deal more expertise, experience and wisdom than the folks who actually would have to make all the life-and-death, multi-billion-dollar decisions, if it came right down to it. Remember, then, that whoever did participate, they were unable to keep us out of war during the make-believe process.

The ranks of our "experts" actually serving currently in key positions in the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council include virtually no one with on-the-ground Iran experience. Add to that the fact that most of our intelligence is either old or third-hand. We haven't had diplomatic relations with Iran (hence, very limited "listening post" opportunities) for over thirty years. If it's a comfort (I doubt that it will be), even when we did have an embassy and a CIA station there in 1978-79, they had no inkling that the Islamic Revolution was about to blow.

If the war-game fantasy seems like a nightmare, don't wake up -- it only gets worse.

Post #346 - Not All Exposes are Morally Uplifting

Watch this video and then come back to this page for my reaction:

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/must-watch-iran-bashing-terrorism-and-who-chose-the-chosen-people-anyway/

Okay, you've watched Anthony Lawson's video presentation.  Lawson describes himself as a "retired commercials director, cameraman, editor, writer and advertising agency creative director," and says that his hope is to "use what I've learned during my working life to try and give back something of value to a world which could be so beautiful, but which is being despoiled by the greed of those for whom sufficient is never enough."  He casts himself, therefore, as a friend of the "good" people and opponent of the selfish bad actors in the world.

The title of his video -- "Iran-Bashing, Terrorism and Who Chose the Chosen People Anyway" -- is telling in that his agenda is not a simple one.  He is addressing the way Iran is being treated by the West, he is discussing various kinds of brutal actions (acknowledged or alleged), and he is focusing strongly on the influence of one nation, Israel -- more specifically, Zionists.

How much truth is there in what he says?  Are there elements that ought to give one pause?  Most of the bare factual details are hard to fault him on.  Clearly, a lot has been thrown at the Irainians' wall that frankly does not stick -- the "wiping Israel off the map" quote, which is endlessly recycled to maximum effect; the charge that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons (when stated as a fact, rather than as a fear or a guess); these are but two examples.

But the video is not just a presentation of historical fact; it is a admixture of verifiable truth and much more subjective evaluative statements.  For example, there is a vast difference between saying that AIPAC is extremely influential in the United States, and saying that the Israel lobby "largely controls" the United States -- the first is undeniably true, the second is a conclusion based on a highly complex set of realities.

Stylistically, one can scarcely ignore the demagogic habits of expression that Lawson employs when he repeatedly appends emotionally-loaded adjectives (such as in "nuclear Zionist Israel"), or when he terms Donald Rumsfeld and John R. Bolton "Zionists."

The liberties Lawson takes are nowhere more evident than in this assertion:  "If it is unlawful for 250 million Europeans to question details of the Holocaust, it must mean there are some things that the Zionists do not want the un-chosen people to know."  Need I say more about that baldly illogical syllogism?

Additionally, is the presentation fair and balanced when it comes to its treatment of religious faith?  One can certainly object to the injection of religious revelation into public policy decision-making.  To go the extra step to characterize biblical or theological interpretations as "claptrap" and "mythology" bespeaks an militantly atheist world-view that can actually make dialogue and fact-finding more difficult, rather than more productive.

Lastly, have tricks of a technical nature been used to allow Lawson to make his case more powerfully?  A case in point would be his comparison of two sets of security camera stills that show persons alleged to have committed terrorist acts.  He urges the viewer to notice a "similarity" between them.  One must stop a moment and ask two questions:  Is there actually any unusual similarity? (could you pick any of them out of a line-up if they weren't with the others?), and What does it mean if there is?  The photos are clipped and superimposed (how did Lawson choose which image to place where?)  as though to imply a link between the two incidents, or perhaps that the individuals were the same persons -- in fact, what he is implying is (I believe) purposely ambiguous.  He has made his point through sleight-of-hand and innuendo. (I urge the reader to go back and see for himself what impression the raw images make on one, absent Lawson's voice-over.)

My conclusion is that this video producer has created a lamentably flawed work.  His video takes some important and worrisome facts about the recent conflict between Iran and the West, and between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, and combines them with his own often-questionable connecting-of-dots in order to render them more damning of the video's targets.  My problem with it is that it may allow savvy and skeptical viewers to dismiss the substance, because the messenger himself is of dubious intent. One could almost say, "by way of deception, thou shall make popular videos" -- but not necessarily contribute to the cause of Truth.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Post $345 - Is It Just Me....??

Let's get real.  The military spending of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Somalia combined represents about one per cent of global spending on defense.  In contrast to that, the United States share, combined with our NATO allies, is roughly 66% of the world's expenditures on armaments and preparedness.  Who are we kidding, when it comes to "threat?"  I mean really.

"Asymmetrical warfare!," I hear someone shout.  Yes, but that's partly my point.  Why are spending so much to be so....strong and omnipresent, when subtle, quick, agile and creative is what's arrayed against us?  It's like fighting mosquitoes by swinging a sledgehammer.

Let's look at some other disparities and dichotomies:

We are the world's largest economy -- right?  Then, why is it that when Europe is feeling a bit peaked, we start raising hives?  China throws a tantrum and we start offering them ice cream cones, while scolding at the same time.  India threatens to sell oil to Iran and we kvetch and scowl.  Meanwhile, Iran has had to go it alone, since the sanctions have forced them to do so.  Interestingly, their banks, stock market and housing sector did not implode when ours did, because unlike the Europeans, they have relatively few ties that bind them.

Now, Iran is preparing an "internal internet" (per today's article in the Washington Post) -- why they're doing it doesn't matter so much -- political control is everyone's best guess; I'm interested in the whole idea of a country forging its own little web, controlling the spiders that weave it, and being able to decide what flies land and which don't.  Can't you imagine someone at Langley or the Pentagon secretly wishing that they could have their own?

Globalization, as everyone knows, is the modern equivalent of Prometheus' gift of fire, encased in Pandora's box.  It is the bearer of gifts, but many of them are Trojan horses.  Of course, a Washington-based security researcher who reported on Iranet (my neologism) says, "bad actors will always think of new ways to thwart the aspirations of the public.  People and organizations have to remain vigilant to the ever-changing environment in order to support those who want to fight back against isolation."  So...it's the Iranians who are isolating themselves from the rest of the world??  Last time I looked, isolating them was a foreign policy goal.

In fact, lots of Iranians are very plugged-in (perhaps as many as 600,000 blogs in the Persian language, more than any except English), but am I the only one who is curious to see what the long-term impact of casting Iran "outside the walls" is going to have?  If Pakistan had been more isolated, might they have developed a world-class film industry, too? 

Is it a great advance, if by having billion-dollar airplanes and a thousand bases we force our antagonists to use small bombs, delivered by motorscooter?  Which of us comes out ahead financially?  All of our federal spending on education, housing, energy, environment, health, science, transportation and agriculture is way less than what we devote to the military.  What does that say about our priorities and our values?

And, if our old strategy of providing Western movies, Lee jeans, Bell helicopters and nuclear technology eventually led to LESS influence in Iran, will the current crop of constraints and embargoes lead to MORE?  We haven't a clue.

If you're waiting for the point, there isn't one.  I don't have any answers to this conundrum.  I just know that we've tried everything from CIA-managed coups to cyberwar and we're no closer to either winning friends or influencing people in Tehran than we were in the '50s.  The definition of insanity is...trying a series of dumb ideas, just because they make us feel like we're doing something.

Post #344 - One Damn Thing after Another

From NIAC Action Alert (9/20/12):

Stop Last Minute Senate Vote to Adopt Netanyahu's War Red Line

The Senate is poised to commit the U.S. to a red line for war demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposed by the Obama Administration. 

A resolution by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) expresses support for Netanyahu’s red line for military action against Iran and may come up for a surprise vote TODAY.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Foreign Policy Magazine, “Red lines are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner."  But Netanyahu rebuked the Administration and implied if the U.S. does not commit to attacking Iran, Israel would.  The Senate is poised to side with Netanyahu.  

We stopped this redline in the Senate earlier this year.  But with Netanyahu ratcheting up his pressure on the U.S. again, the Senate looks like it may fold.  Please call your Senators to tell them you oppose the Iran redline resolution.  

Call 1-855-68 NO WAR (1-855-686-6927) to be directed to your Senators offices and tell them:

I am calling to ask that the Senator oppose S. J. Res. 41, which sets dangerous red lines for war with Iran.  This measure could be headed to the Senate floor today and I strongly urge the Senator to oppose it and to support a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the standoff with Iran, not another war of choice.

Post #343 - Coming to a City near You...?

Courtesy of the Friends Committee on National Legislation Nuclear Calendar, events that have a bearing on U.S.-Iran relations:

Sept. 18

3:00-4:30 p.m., Karim Sadjadpour; Dennis Ross; Anne-Marie Slaughter and Bret Stephens, "What Should the Next American President Do About Iran?." TimesCenter, 242 W. 41st St., New York. RSVP online.

Sept. 19


10:00-11:30 a.m.,Henry Sokolski, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and Victor Gilinsky, former member, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "Serious Rules for Nuclear Power without Proliferation." Harvard University, 79 JFK St., Cambridge, MA. RSVP by email.

Sept. 21


Noon-2:00 p.m., Washington Institute, "How to Build U.S.-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout," with Dennis Ross, former Special Assistant to President Obama; Patrick Clawson, Iran Security Initiative; David Makovsky, Ziegler Fellow, Washington Institute. 1828 L St., NW, Suite 1050, Washington. RSVP at (202) 452-0677.

Sept. 21


International Day of Peace.

Sept. 25


10:00 a.m., President Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly. United Nations. Broadcast on CNN, webcast on the U.N. website and may be webcast on the White House website.

Sept. 25


12:30-2:00 p.m., William Potter and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Monterey Institute, "Nuclear Politics and the Non-Aligned Movement." Japanese Mission, Conference Hall, Andromeda Tower, Floor 24, Donau-City-Strasse 6, Vienna. RSVP by Sept. 21 online.

Sept. 26


Time TBA, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the U.N. General Assembly. United Nations. Webcast on the U.N. website.

Sept.


Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Turkey and UAE) meeting of foreign ministers on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly. New York.

Oct. 4


PIR Center (Russian Center for Policy Studies), "2012 Conference on the Middle East Free Zone of Weapons of Mass Destruction--Searching for Solutions." Moscow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Post #342 - The View from Just Inside the Beltway

The following piece was written by a friend, Adil Shamoo, born of a Chaldean family in Baghdad, who teaches at the University of Maryland. It was published (9/18/12) by Foreign Policy In Focus , a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.

No to War with Iran

Israel and the United States have waged a campaign of cyberwarfare and covert operations against Iran for the past several years. If Iran had taken similar actions toward Israel or the United States, we would have considered it a declaration of open war. [Editor's note: a recent Washington Post article cited the State Department's top lawyer as saying that cyberattacks may be considered an "act of war." - A.P.]

Iran is working hard to develop nuclear capability—if not an actual weapon—despite its repeated denials. After all, Iran is surrounded by the U.S. military might, and its primary regional rival—Israel—has possessed a sizable nuclear arsenal for decades. Nuclear proliferation is never desirable, but for Iran it could fit with a perfectly rational strategic calculus.

Recent U.S. and Israeli wars in the region drive this point home emphatically. In fact, these conflicts—variously pitting the strongest military in the world and the strongest in the Middle East against a host of weaker rivals—cannot rightly be called wars. They are massacres. The kill ratio of the powerful versus the weak fluctuates from 10 to 1 to over one 100 to 1. Take the most glaring example, the 2008-2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza. Gazans suffered 1,500 deaths and 5,000 wounded compared to just 12 Israeli deaths.

Elsewhere, Americans were coerced into war with Iraq by the myth of a mushroom cloud and the farcical notion of eliminating terrorists in Afghanistan. These manufactured reasons for war increased anti-American hatred and strengthened the terrorists’ reach.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has changed the conversation in the past year or so from U.N. sanctions against Iran to war with Iran. He wants a deadline for Iran’s noncompliance in stopping any uranium enrichment for any purpose—a violation of Iran’s rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which permits peaceful enrichment. If the election-season statements of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are any indication, Netanyahu has succeeded in changing the U.S. conversation on Iran as well to put military action on the front burner.

Netanyahu is still not satisfied and wants military action now, not eventually. Netanyahu surrogate Danny Danon, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, is using the recent senseless killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya and the demonstrations in Cairo against a film insulting the prophet Muhammad as another reason why we should attack Iran. This is what my Jewish friends call chutzpah.

Given the threats to regional peace posed by U.S.-Israeli dominance in the Middle East, some scholars have even suggested that a stronger Iran could preserve stability in the region by counterbalancing the aggressive Washington-Tel Aviv axis.

Kenneth N. Waltz, a respected professor of political science at Columbia University, argues in Foreign Affairs that Iran’s nuclearization could improve its behavior as an international actor. Waltz refutes the common characterization of the “mad mullahs” who run the country and cites how Pakistan, India, and China became more responsible once they acquired the bomb. Meir Dagan, the former head of the Israeli Mossad and architect of Israel’s covert war on Iran, told CBS that Iran’s leaders are rational international actors and famously called attacking the country a “stupid idea.”

It would serve this country well to listen to rational voices apart from the drumbeat of war from Israeli leaders and U.S. neoconservatives, who hope to reshape the Middle East through Iran and Syria after failing to do so in Iraq. The United States has already suffered two decade-long wars that brought this country to financial catastrophe and military exhaustion. We cannot afford another war.

A U.S. or Israeli war on Iran could spark a regional conflagration that would cause untold suffering across the Muslim world and spark deadly blowback for decades to come. Such a war must be prevented, and this starts with shouting “No!”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Post #341 - Another Country Heard From

Here is a view from Russia by Boris Volkhonsky, writing for the Voice of Russia World Service (9/17/12); as is well-known, that country's government has been reticent when asked by the United States or the United Nations to toe the line on economic sanctions and other types of pressure on Iran:

Last week’s pogroms in the Middle East should have made the hawks in the West realise that something’s wrong with their strong-arm attitude towards the Muslim World. They should have, but it didn’t seem to have persuaded everyone. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told NBS's Meet the Press that Iran would be on the brink of nuclear weapons capability by next spring, saying, “You have to place a red line before them now, before it’s too late”. The idea of drawing a “red line” for Iran isn’t new. Netanyahu has long insisted that the USA should put forward conditions, then, if Iran violated them, it’d prompt a unilateral military action by either the USA, or Israel, or both, without the  UN Security Council's approval.

Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta rejected this scenario. Mr Panetta accused Netanyahu of trying to force the USA into a corner over its Iran policy. Ms Hillary said very clearly, “We aren’t setting deadlines”. American officials still appear to believe that negotiations with Iran and stricter sanctions could force the Iranian leadership to abandon its hardline stance on its nuclear programme. On the contrary, Mr Netanyahu’s convinced that the Iranian leadership is too fanatic to step back. He even said that supporters of the policy of “containing” Iran and its nuclear ambitions “set a new standard for human stupidity”. As for President Obama, who’s the main target of the Israeli premier’s criticism, according to Israeli officials, he’s declined to meet Mr Netanyahu when he comes to Washington later this month.

Actually, it isn’t the Israeli premier; the administration’s own policy towards Iran and the Middle East in general forced the USA into a corner. By ardently supporting coups in a number of Arab countries, the USA and its Western European allies created rĂ©gimes much more monstrous than the previous ones. The backlash is obvious… a wave of anti-American protests swept the Muslim world. These tragic consequences are the direct product of American strong-arm policies in the region. Now, the Israeli premier’s trying to force the administration into continuing this bankrupt policy. What’s more, he’s finding allies within the USA. Whilst the administration itself seems to be wavering and playing the part of the “good cop”, Obama’s Republican contended Mitt Romney is all too eager to exploit this vacillation.

In an interview, Romney hinted that he’d use military force against Iran and accused Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus”. It remains unclear how many of his promises Romney would keep if he became president, but the propaganda effect is there. The hawkish attitude may have an impact on “swing” voters and change the pre-electoral picture in Romney’s favour. Netanyahu himself has denied that he was trying to influence the American election, although he’d definitely be much happier with a more hawkish US president. However, most probably, the belligerent rhetoric used by the Israeli premier is less meant for an American audience than it is for the Israeli public. In Israel, general elections are due in October 2013, and the current premier is facing an uphill battle. In this context, the last thing he’d want to do is to weaken his image as a strongman. Indeed, hardly anyone in the USA or Israel would wish to face a backlash similar to the one the world witnessed last week. Attacking Iran could lead to a much more violent one.

This idea seems to have dawned on a number of competent people in Israel itself. Speaking on CBS' 60 Minutes, Meir Dagan, a former head of the Mossad, said that an attack on Iran would be the “stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”. Such revelations, followed by an assessment of the Iranian government as “a very rational” one, came from a man who the Iranian authorities claim has dispatched assassins, computer viruses, and faulty equipment in a bid to delay the Iranian nuclear programme. Well, maybe, before labelling those who’d adopt a more cautious stance on Iran as “setting new standards for human stupidity”, the Israeli premier should listen to the voice of reason from his own ranks.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Post #340 - Hands Off

This is a link to a portion of a longer rap video about looming war with Iran:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=234QkrRSZWU

This is longer, but has no live video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=8_1MrL8z0-A&NR=1

Both are worth a look.

Post #339 - Consensus Forming

Mark Hanrahan, in The Huffington Post (9/16/12), included a video interview of Meir Dagan, Former Mossad Chief, noting that Daga "Says Attack On Iran 'Stupidest Idea' He's Ever Heard"

Meir Dagan, a former head of the Israeli Intelligence service Mossad, says that an attack on Iran would be the 'stupidest idea [I've] ever heard."

Speaking to "60 Minutes," Dagan said: "An attack on Iran now before exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it [sic]."

Dagan, a man who Iranian authorities reportedly claim has dispatched assassins, computer viruses and faulty equipment in a bid to delay the country's nuclear program, appears to have developed a surprising appreciation for the Islamic Republic's regime - which is a sworn enemy of Israel.

The regime in Iran is a very rational regime," according to Dagan. Asked if he felt the regime in Iran was capable of backing down from an escalating crisis over the country's nuclear program, he replied: "No doubt that the Iranian regime is not exactly rational based on what I would call 'Western Thinking,' but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions."

Dagan's interview is in stark contrast to the opinions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared on 'Meet The Press' earlier. Netanyahu said that supporters of the policy of 'containing' Iran and its nuclear ambitions "set a new standard for human stupidity."

Here is the link for the video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/16/meir-dagan-mossad-iran-attack-stupid_n_1888840.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Post #338 - Closing the Barn Door

This timely essay appeared on Politico.com yesterday on its Opinion page, written by former ambassador John Limbert:

In an embassy under siege

It takes very little to turn the world upside down.

With the Internet, you’re only one idiot away. An amateurish video from California, or an controversial pastor in Florida can do the job quite nicely. Even without the Internet, a bad decision at the White House can do the same.

These attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts across the Middle East are not new. Thirty-three years ago, the U.S. government did in me and my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by letting the ailing Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the United States — and leaving us to face the consequences.

The most recent explosions seemed to come from nowhere. A few minutes of third-rate video appears on the Internet, and our embassies are under siege and killers in Benghazi use the incident as cover to murder a brave U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three of his colleagues.

Today’s grim images bring back terrible memories. They bring home to me just how fortunate we were to have emerged safely after the Tehran attack and 14 months in captivity. They also again bring home how much we owe the young Marine embassy security guards whose training and discipline saved our lives that awful day. The Marines held their fire, kept their cool and averted the day becoming a bloodbath.

When I went out the door of the embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, the attackers threatened to shoot me and my colleague, Al Golacinski, if they weren’t allowed to enter. With no help coming from either Washington or the host government, we were on our own.

Golacinski had left the secure building in an effort to calm the growing throng. He was seized and a gun pointed at his head. He seemed to face certain death. I was terrified.

Some might say all we hostages were lucky, because no one was murdered. When I speak with so many of them, however, they are still in pain mentally and physically, or just not there, or have never climbed out of those 444 days of gut-wrenching fear — when each sound you heard was perhaps the last one. I understand too well that there are things that happen to a human being that are worse than death.

Today’s images also remind me just how vulnerable we were to waves of violence, to opportunistic Iranian politicians and to bad decisions in which we had no say. Our security – like that of our colleagues today – depended on our host country’s authorities and their willingness to assume their responsibilities. In 1979, those authorities did nothing to stop the attackers and rode that wave of mob rule to cement their own power.

The current tide of violence against U.S. diplomats and embassies that has erupted in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere should make us recall:

• Our representatives operate in a dangerous world. Their safety hangs by a thread, and violence can come without warning.
• The American people are well-represented overseas. Stevens was a superb public servant – courageous, empathetic and smart. His death and the death of his colleagues in Benghazi represents a loss for all of us.
• Cheap shots do not help. Those who call the U.S. government “the enemy” or criticize our public servants ignore the courage and self-sacrifice not only of Stevens, but also of brave Americans like Ryan Crocker in Afghanistan and Robert Ford in Syria.

Too often, our representatives around the world live under siege because of conditions not of their making. It happened in Tehran in 1979 and is happening now in too many countries. Instead of exchanging ideas, building understanding, finding common ground and looking for resolution of disputes, our people must hide behind walls and dodge angry mobs, bricks, fire-bombs and worse.
The sad reality is that the scoundrels who perpetrated and supported the Tehran outrage in 1979 have gotten away with it.

No one has ever held them to account for their action. Instead, the authorities in Iran every year mark the anniversary of the embassy attack (Nov. 4) with marches and speeches — as though that ugly action was something to be proud of.

The lesson of 1979 is clear: You can attack U.S. Embassies and American diplomats – our people’s representatives – and you pay no price.

There will always be those who wish us ill. There will always be those who make bad decisions and supply our enemies with pretexts by throwing matches on dry tinder. Both enemies and idiots will always be with us. We should never send the message, however, that one can attack Americans and never be held accountable.

(John Limbert, a retired Foreign Service officer, is now a professor of Middle East studies at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was among the Americans held hostage in Iran in 1979-81.)



As much as I respect John -- a good friend (the main person who introduced me to Persian culture) and perhaps the most knowledgeable non-Iranian American about Iran and its recent history -- what he has said begs the question of how we can avoid such situations before they happen. Not "cheap shots" or the groveling "apologies" that figure importantly in Republicans' critique of our stance toward the rest of the world, but genuine, eyes-wide-open grappling with the diversity and complexity of that world. We are clearly not earning high marks when it comes to either winning friends or influencing people -- despite our success in influencing governments and manipulating economics. In fact, part of our problem stems from the fact that we are the single superpower, the most important nation, the hegemon ~ but not ALL of our problem. We also manage to botch a lot of opportunities to establish relationships of mutual respect and real dialogue. If it only takes one idiot on the internet to run us into the rocks, it will take a great many sensible and sensitive people to steer us toward seas of tranquility and harbors of safety.

Specifically, in the case of Iran, President Carter should not just be faulted for failing to support and protect those who served at his pleasure in the Embassy in Tehran, but for failing to realize that our "constituency" in Iran was not merely the crowned autocrat on the Peacock Throne, but the people of Iran, who were not all supporters of the Shah, his modernizing agenda or his ruthless lieutenants. By the time the "King of Kings" was diagnosed with cancer, our foothold in Iran was itself at Stage Four, with no therapies available to make it well.


We see the same scenario, with variations, replayed in Egypt, where we supported Mobarak for many years before we opposed him, in Saudi Arabia where we hold hands with princes who hold hands with fundamentalist Islamists, and in Afghanistan, where the forces we helped create gave safe haven to those who would now destroy us. Self-serving foreign policy has a way of morphing into self-destruction, sometimes in a very short period of time.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Post #337 - Sowing Seeds of War

Introduced 9/12/12 as a House resolution (#137) by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the following language:

"Expressing the sense of Congress that the Azeri people, currently divided between Azerbaijan and Iran, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country if they so choose."

Self-determination is concept that is hard to object to in the abstract. Of course, our government, during the 1860's acted forcefully to deny self-determination to residents of our southern states, and self-determination for Native Americans is a status that has still not been fully achieved -- to say nothing of the residents of the city where Congress meets.

Congressman Rohrabacher, 65, representing California's 46th congressional district, serves on the Committee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Before his election to Congress, Rohrabacher was an assistant and speechwriter to President Reagan, playing a significant role in the development of the Reagan Doctrine, which supported the use of overt and covert aid to anti-communist movements around the globe, as a way to contain the Soviet Union's influence in various countries. (This led to such efforts as the Iran-Contra affair, support for the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, and Joseph Savimba's UNITA in Angola.)

Southern California is one of the areas in the United States where Azerbaijanis (either from the former Soviet Union and Iran, or from the diaspora elsewhere) have settled. Since 2004, there has been a congressional caucus on Azerbaijani interests, which is clearly having some influence.

The province within Iran known as East Azerbaijan has a mixed population of Azeris (a Turkic-speaking people of mixed Caucasian, Iranian and Turkic origin, who comprise about 15-20 percent of Iran's population overall), as well Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Talysh, Jews, Georgians and Persians). The principal city is Tabriz and the city of Ardebil is a Caspian seaport. (West Azerbaijan is majority Kurdish.) The people of (the former Soviet republic of) Azerbaijan and Iranian Azerbaijan have been separated for more than two hundred years. The Azeris in Iran are about 50% greater in number than those of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Like most Persians, they are predominantly Shi'e Muslim.

The question is why this member, without a co-sponsor as yet, has introduced a resolution weighing in on the status of one particular minority in Iran. Can we expect other such measures related to Iranian Arabs, Kurds, or tribal peoples? Is the resolution designed simply to create more problems for -- or to further alienate -- the Islamic Republic of Iran? Rohrabacher has been quoted as saying, "Iran has played on ethnic and religious groups to advance its interests in Lebanon and Iraq. The United States should look for opportunities to do the same...”

The National Iranian-American Council has called the idea behind the resolution "radical," and has said, "playing on ethnic tensions is a recipe for the worst kinds of violence, and that’s exactly what he’d like to see happen in Iran. In fact, Rohrabacher has admitted that he supports the terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq over peaceful opposition groups because of the Mujahedin’s willingness to use violence."

If the Obama administration is emphasizing its concern about nuclear weapons programs and eschewing any intent to foment regime change from outside, are such resolutions really helpful to the ongoing negotiations our diplomats are conducting? We saw what division along ethnic lines did to Iraq in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion.

Shouldn't the Congressman tend to what directly impacts Long Beach or Rancho Palos Verdes, rather then seeking to decide the fortunes of groups on the other side of the world? It strikes me that tossing gasoline on the flames may not be the best way to bring a fire under control.

Post #336 - Video Views

These are some of the film offerings of Icarus Films that relate to Iran:

Shirin Ebadi:  A Simple Lawyer
Association Film Fest award winner for National Women's Studies and Middle East Studies categories
48 min., color, 2004
$348

Zinat, One Special Day
A Film by Ebrahim Mokhtari
"Zinat, the first woman from the island of Qeshm in the south of Iran to remove the traditional face mask (boregheh), is running for office."
Association Film Fest award winner for National Women's Studie, 2000 Cinema du Reel (Paris) Special Mention of the International Jury
54 min., color, 2000
$348

Iran:  a Cinematographic Revolution
A Film by Nader Takmil Homayoon
"The intertwined history of Iran and its cinema, from the first silent films to the talkies, from the Shah's regime to the Islamic revolution, and the international cinematic success of today."
2011 UN Association Film Festival award winner, 2008 American Historical Association award winner
98 min., color/b&w, 2006, $348

Inside Out
A Film by Zohreh Shayesteh
"Transsexuals in Iran.  Intimate conversations with doctors, religious authorities, and transsexuals about the mind/body conflict, Islamic interpretations, and the impact of sex-change treatments on their lives."
39 min., color, 2006, $298

Fragments of a Revolution
"Directed by an anonymous Iranian living in exile, the film brings together clandestinely sent emails, online videos and footage shot by protesters in the midst of demonstrations."
2011 Best Documentary on Democracy, DOK Leipzig, 2011 Louis Marcorelles Prize & Special Mention Young Jury Prize, Cinema du Reel (Paris)
57 min., color, 2011, $348

Siah Bazi (Black Games):  The Joy Makers
"Siah Bazi theater troupes, similar to Commedia dell'arte, traditionally performed at weddings and parties, led by men and women in full harlequin garb, making impromptu skits peppered with subtle commentary on current events and politics...Tehran's troupe faces the closing of its 400-year-old theater..."
2006 Tribeca Film Festival (NYC) award winner
48 min., color, 2004, $348 for two films (the above and the following title on one DVD>>>>)

Shadi
"Siah Bazi troupe is invited to perform with Theatre du Soleil, a Parisian avant-garde improvisational stage ensemble."
58 min., color, 2008, price:  see above)

Final Fitting
A Film by Reza Haeri
"Mr. Arabpour is a spry octogenarian and master tailor who has served Iran's most important religious leaders for decades...Showcases the changing cultural styles of Iran and its clerical elite."
Grand Prix Short Film at 2008 Iran International Documentary Film Festival, 2009 Hot Docs Film Festival (Canada) award winner
31 min., color, 2008, $348 for two films (the above and the following title on one DVD>>>>)

All Restrictions End
"Structured like a collage, interweaving archival footage from Iranian cinema, imagery from various stylistic epochs in the history of Persian painting, graphics from the period of the Islamic revolution.."
award winner at:  2011 Society of Visual Anthropology Conference, 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, 2010 European Media Art Film Festival
35 min., color, 2009 (price:  see above)

 Order at:  www.icarusfilms.com