Archive for Iran

Colbert Report: ThreatDown – Barack Obama, Fundamentalist Flippers & Coked Up Diplomats

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by loonwatch

Colbert believes that under the sea, Bin Laden might be finding young impressionable dolphins who are willing to wage Jihad.

Starts at 2:23-4:14

Colbert Report: ThreatDown – Barack Obama, Fundamentalist Flippers & Coked Up Diplomats

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/407251/january-30-2012/threatdown—barack-obama–fundamentalist-flippers—coked-up-diplomats
Barack Obama plays the same old dirty political trick of being irresistibly appealing, the Navy trains dolphins to sweep for mines, and the U.N. receives 35 pounds of cocaine. (06:11)

The Assassination of Iranian Scientists Continues

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2012 by loonwatch
Israel_Assassination_Scientists
Benjamin Netanyahu

Do we even have to spell out a “what if…” scenario here?

MJ Rosenberg has a great piece on the assassination campaign against Iranian scientists and its implications.

Assassination in Tehran: An act of war?

by MJ Rosenberg (AlJazeera English)

Washington, DC – I rarely learn anything meaningful from reading The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg. In my opinion, his tight relationship with the Israeli government and its lobby here greatly influences his take on both foreign and domestic events. Although he occasionally deviates from the Israeli line, he not only appears very uncomfortable doing so, he tends to correct course fairly rapidly.

Nonetheless, in a Goldberg column about Iran this week, there was one paragraph that was dead-on and which he will have a hard time taking back (should he be so inclined).

Writing about a piece in the current edition of Foreign Affairs that endorses bombing Iran as a neat and cost-free way to address its nuclear programme, Goldberg explains why he thinks the author, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Matthew Kroenig, is wrong. Goldberg says he now believes:

 …that advocates of an attack on Iran today would be exchanging a theoretical nightmare – an Iran with nukes – for an actual nightmare: A potentially out-of-control conventional war raging across the Middle East that could cost the lives of thousands Iranians, Israelis, Gulf Arabs and even American servicemen.

Think about that for a minute. Uber-hawk Jeffrey Goldberg is saying that the threat posed by Iran is a “theoretical nightmare” while a war ostensibly to neutralise that threat would present an “actual nightmare”.

No critic of US policy toward Iran could say it better or would say it differently. And why would we?

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has not yet made the decision to go nuclear. Speaking to CBS’ Face the Nation last Sunday, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta made the same point. Iran is not working on the bomb.

We do know, as Goldberg says, that a “potentially out-of-control conventional war raging across the Middle East” could “cost the lives of thousands of Iranians, Israelis, Gulf Arabs and even American servicemen”.

And that makes the decision against war a no-brainer. As Goldberg puts it:

Now that sanctions seem to be biting – in other words, now that Iran’s leaders understand the President’s seriousness on the issue – the Iranians just might be willing to pay more attention to proposals about an alternative course.

That alternative course would be an attempt “to try one more time to reach out to the Iranian leadership in order to avoid a military confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear programme”.

In short, dialogue.

The US, to this day, has never attempted a true dialogue with Tehran. Even under President Obama, all we have done is issue demands about its nuclear programme and offer to meet to discuss precisely how they comply with those demands.

That is not dialogue and it’s not negotiation; it’s an ultimatum.

The one attempt at dialogue (i.e., a discussion that involves give and take by both sides) was initiated by the Iranian government in 2003. That was when it proposed, according to the Washington Post, “a broad dialogue with the United States,” in which “everything was on the table – including full co-operation on nuclear programmes, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups”. In exchange, Iran wanted normalisation of relations with the United States.

As is well known, the United States did not respond. In fact, we chastised the Swiss intermediary who delivered the offer for having the temerity to do so.

It was us, not Iran, that spurned a process that would have led to improved relations.

Rather than diplomacy, we’ve pursued a policy of sanctions, which we escalate every time the war lobby demands them.

But sanctions will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapon capability, nor will “regime change”, considering that Iranians across the political spectrum support the Iranian nuclear programme. The only effect sanctions have is to please AIPAC, which has made confronting Iran central to its mission. AIPAC writes the sanctions bills, Congress passes them, the president signs them, and the Iranian people (not the regime) bear the brunt of the effects. (The politicians who endorse such measures, however, quite often are well rewarded.)

Goldberg deserves some credit for calling for dialogue. But his seriousness is undermined when he explains that the US offer must be our final one. Although real dialogue is a process, Goldberg’s suggestion is to try to talk just “one more time”. And then: war.

Nonetheless, Goldberg does not seem to be on the same page as the Israeli government or its neoconservative backers here, who reject any dialogue at all.

Any doubt on that score came today when an Iranian civilian nuclear scientist was assassinated in his car on a Tehran street. This was the fifth Iranian scientist killed in such an attack in the last two years.

The attack today certainly looks like an Israeli hit, especially when top Israelis themselves have warned that “unnatural” events were about to befall Iran. At this point, circumstantial evidence is all we can go on.

“For those hell-bent on getting the US engaged in a war that even Jeff Goldberg views as a ‘nightmare’ for both the US and Israel, this is a very good day indeed.”

That, and the answer to the ancient Latin question: Cui bono? Who benefits? (Check out Commentary, the neocon website that iscelebrating the murder.)

In theory, at least, the Netanyahu government benefits. A 32-year-old Iranian nuclear scientist is dead. The opportunities for dialogue or successful multilateral negotiations diminishes. And, if Iran responds in any way, US neocons (including Congress, which will recite its AIPAC talking points) will intensify calls for war.

On the other hand, actions like these against civilians in one country endanger civilians in others. Imagine how the United States or Israel would react if Iran or even Canada started bumping off nuclear scientists (or anyone else) in Washington.

Innocents in Israel, the US, Europe or elsewhere will pay a price for this criminal act of colossal stupidity. And from a security standpoint, such clear acts of aggression can only convince the mullahs that they need to develop a nuclear deterrent.

Here is Jeff Goldberg again in a column subsequent to the one I already cited:

If I were a member of the Iranian regime (and I’m not), I would take this assassination program to mean that the West is entirely uninterested in any form of negotiation (not that I, the regime official, has ever been much interested in dialogue with the West) and that I should double-down and cross the nuclear threshold as fast as humanly possible. Once I do that, I’m North Korea, or Pakistan: An untouchable country.

In short, for those hell-bent on getting the US engaged in a war that even Jeff Goldberg views as a “nightmare” for both the US and Israel, this is a very good day indeed.

Congratulations. Or something like that.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.

You can follow MJ on twitter @MJayRosenberg

Umm, Iran, Can You, Like, Give Back Our Drone Please? [Updated]

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by loonwatch

(updated below)

Recently, I’ve been focusing on the double standards in the U.S. media and national discourse with regard to American foreign policy in the Middle East and greater Muslim world.  This leads to absurdities like this:

President Barack Obama said today the U.S. has requested that Iran return the highly sensitive stealth drone that crash landed there two weeks ago, but an Iranian general already said that’s not going to happen.

“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said at a news conference.

So, let me get this straight: the U.S. has been using surveillance from stealth drones to bomb and assassinate targets inside Iran, one of these drones goes down while flying inside Iran’s sovereign territory, and now the U.S. is asking for it back?  This reminds me of childhood story an Indian friend of mine told me: his mother used to ask for her shoe back whenever she used to throw it at him.

A shocked Iranian military official replied:

No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country.

What do you think the United States would do if an Iranian drone was downed in U.S. territory?  We all know the answer: bomb Iran back to the Stone Ages.  Or, at minimum we would use drones to drop a few bombs on their heads.

Some Americans wonder why there are so many Muslim suicide bombers.  Well, they don’t have drones, which are the American equivalent of suicide bombers.  Drones have the added benefit that they can be operated without fear of any personal harm.

Drones are now America’s favorite Muslim killer, used against at least six different Muslim countries (Iran could be considered the seventh Muslim country to have this honor).

But, always remember: they (Iranians, Muslims, etc.) are so violent, and we are so peaceful.

Update:

JihadWatch’s Marisol just posted an article complaining about the fact that “Pakistan will shoot down any U.S. drone that intrudes its air space.” (h/t Believing Atheist) Marisol huffs: “So, does anyone still say ‘friend and ally?’”

The “threat” comes after U.S. drones violated Pakistan’s sovereignty for the millionth time and committed what under international law is considered an act of war: they bombed and killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.  Some “friend and ally” America is.

This is not the first time American drones have killed Pakistanis.  In fact, they have been doing so for many years, killing hundreds of civilians–including children.

If Mexico routinely sent killer drones across the border to snuff out American lives, what do you think the American reaction would be?

But in the Orwellian world of JihadWatch, it is the party that defends its sovereignty that is at fault (because it is Muslim) whereas the party violating sovereignty is justified in doing so (since it is fighting Muslims).  Unfortunately, this bizarro world is not limited to the loony land of JihadWatch but rather exists in mainstream political discourse and is a part of conventional wisdom.

Message from Iran: Tell All Americans We Love Them

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch
Green MovementDemonstrators from Iran’s Green Movement

The Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t a top tourist destination for most Americans.

Iran is portrayed in the Western media as a country run by fanatical, bloodthirsty Mullahs, ruling in concert with the often outrageous President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As for the Iranian people, angry mobs are often shown in the streets, burning American flags and shouting “Death to America!”

No wonder it is easy to convince Americans that Iranians are consumed by hatred and eager to reduce American cities to rubble.  Yet Americans brave enough to visit Iran quickly discover Iranians are a friendly, gracious people. They love Americans, and they are not bashful about sharing their  affection. Tourists from California said they were amazed by their experience:

“We were besieged, mobbed almost, by whole classrooms of up to 50 or 60 individuals who would come up to us and smother us with hugs and kisses,” reports Caroleen Williams, of Coronado. “‘Are you Americans?’ they asked. ‘We love Americans.’ Women walking down the sidewalks in full black burqas would wave to us and tap their hearts.”

In fact, Williams says they were repeatedly urged to take home a message: “Tell all Americans we love them.”

The experience is not unusual. An American Rabbi who visited Iran described a similar experience in his blog. He concluded that Iran is misunderstood by Americans, and especially by American Jews, many of whom are convinced the Iranians harbor a special hatred for them:

The most essential thing I’ve learned is in some ways the most basic: Iran is a beautiful country with a venerable history and wonderful, gracious people. It is also a powerfully complicated country, marked by a myriad of cultural/political/religious/historical layers. I am now more convinced than ever that we in the West harbor egregiously stereotypical assumptions about this country – and that we harbor them at our mutual peril.  ~ Rabbi Shalom Rav

A journalist from the Christian Science Monitor confirmed that the affection Iranians have for Americans is not confined to secular liberals:

After speaking with numerous Iranians from all walks of life – lower and upper class, religious and secular, Westernized and traditional, government- affiliated and civilian – I became convinced that this vilified member of the ‘Axis of Evil‘ is actually one of the most welcoming places for Americans to travel in the Middle East. Indeed, all Iranians with whom I spoke shared a positive opinion of Ameri-cans.

Iranian admiration for America is not a new phenomenon. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks more than a decade ago, Iranians held spontaneous candlelight vigils, mourning, praying for the victims, and expressing solidarity with the American people.

The New York Times reported that an opinion poll showed 74% of Iranians want to renew relations and start a dialogue with the US. Iranian authorities were so incensed by the results, they arrested the pollster. The regime has always capitalized on legitimate grievances against Western foreign policy to rally Iranians against America, but many Iranians are no longer listening.

Refusing anti-Americanism is one way to swipe at the hated regime. Iran has an overwhelmingly young, vibrant population fed up with the oppressive theocracy that began more than three decades ago when the late Ayatollah Khomeini and his allies established the system of Vilayat-i-Faqih, “Rule of the Jurist”.

In some ways Iranians are more American than Americans themselves, because Iranians truly cherish liberty and have struggled for over 100 years to be free. ~ Iranians love America – But – Americans Hate Iran

Paradoxically, the US is largely responsible for setting back Iranian democracy and self-rule by decades. In 1953, the US and Britain overthrew Iran’s democracy, imposed the tyrannical Shah of Iran as the new leader, and divided up the country’s oil wealth among themselves. The operation was not a secret, and is chronicled in mainstream sources here, here, and here.

Hostage CrisisAmerican Protester

In 1979, the Iranian people deposed the Shah. Later that same year, rumors circulated that the US was poised to retake the Iranian government, and the infamous Iranian Hostage Crisis ensued.

In the wake of the crisis, the late Ayatollah Khomeini dubbed America the Great Satan, a term that has been co-opted ever since by Islamophobes determined to portray Iranian leaders as hateful and irrational. The Iranian Hostage Crisis enraged Americans, and spawned Iranophobia, a special strain of fear and hatred that has never entirely faded from public memory.

Apparently emboldened by the dispute, Saddam Hussein subsequently waged war on Iran. The US supported and armed Saddam Hussein, who was an ally at the time. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed during the Iran-Iraq War.

In the years since, US policy has remained aggressive and hypocritical in the eyes of many Iranians, and for good reason. Sanctions hurt the people of Iran and do little to weaken the regime, and frequent saber rattling by the US and Israel is unsettling:

When Iranians burn the American flag in street demonstrations – they are NOT showing hatred toward Americans; they are in fact pointing out the the U.S. government has and is continuing to try to destroy Iran and Iranians.

Who is the U.S. government fooling? Maybe Americans – but not Iranians. We know the truth and understand fully the harm that is being imposed on Iran – every single day.

As much as Iranians despise their current regime and adore Americans on a personal level, they are united in the opposition to foreign intervention. If the US attacks Iran, Iranians will rally around the flag. As the aforementioned article  in the New York Times states:

Left to its own devices, the Islamic revolution is headed for collapse, and there is a better chance of a strongly pro-American democratic government in Tehran in a decade than in Baghdad. The ayatollahs’ best hope is that hard-liners in Washington will continue their inept diplomacy, creating a wave of Iranian nationalism that bolsters the regime — as happened to a lesser degree after President Bush put Iran in the axis of evil.

Like the people of Iran, most Americans support diplomacy and are opposed to war. While it’s true that most Americans don’t reciprocate the love Iranians feel for them, it is largely because they glimpse into Iranian society exclusively through the corporate media.

Hardliners on both sides fan the flames of hatred and mutual distrust because it serves their nefarious agendas. The interests of the people lie in recognizing each others’ common humanity.

The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (II)

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch

This article is part II of The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (I).  

Read Part I first.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg is a prominent establishment journalist who helped push the country to war against Iraq: he famously claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was on the verge of going nuclear, and was linked to Al-Qaeda and 9/11.  These were all lies, nothing short of alarmist war-propaganda.

Jeffrey Goldberg is at it again, but this time against Iran and Pakistan.  This is part of his overall warmongering ideology, one that involves advocating what I call the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.  The justifications used to wage war against Muslims are steeped in hypocrisy and double standards, which are very prevalent in Goldberg’s articles.

In part I, I responded to Goldberg’s claims that Iran should be attacked because it is supposedly on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons.  I pointed out the hypocrisy of the U.S. and Israel in this regard, both of which also have nuclear weapons and are either in violation of the NPT (the U.S.) or refuse to sign it (Israel).  As George Orwell famously said in his critique of nationalism: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

For the record, I am a strong believer in complete nuclear disarmament.  However, either all countries should get rid of nuclear weapons or all countries have the right to acquire them.  There cannot be a double-standard in this regard.  If the United States and Israel possess them, then Iran–which is under constant American and Israeli threat of not just conventional warfare but nuclear strike–not only has the right to obtain them, but–as Glenn Greenwald notes–“nothing is more rational than Iran’s wanting a nuclear weapon” (note: that is, if Iran secretly wanted to do so).

*  *  *  *  *

Here in part II, I will tackle the rest of Goldberg’s article, which is filled with typical Zionist, neoconservative, and warmongering rhetoric.  Each of his pro-war arguments can be equally applied to America and/or Israel, reinforcing Orwell’s statement.

First, Goldberg writes:

The leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites; men who, for reasons of theology, view the state of the Jews as a “cancer.” They have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction… Iran’s leaders are men who deny the Holocaust while promising another.

Goldberg is repeating multiple falsehoods against Iran.  Here, he is referring to an infamous statement that was uttered by the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he supposedly said “Israel must be wiped off the map.”  In fact, this was a case of blatant mistranslation by the Western media: what he really said was:

The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.

Ahmadinejad was calling for regime change, not for Israel’s destruction or the annihilation of Jews.  Certainly, the two greatest proponents of regime change–the United States and Israel–should be the last to equate regime change with genocide.

In fact, the Iranian leadership, while reserving the right to defend itself if Iran is attacked, has never threatened to initiate an attack against Israel, let alone “repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction” as Jeffrey Goldberg imagines.  Once again, quite ironically, it is Israel that has repeatedly threatened to initiate an attack against Iran.  Remember: actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Goldberg’s claim that the Iranian government has “promised another [Holocaust]” is absolutely bogus; therefore, his claim that “[t]he leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites” is also completely contrived.  They are anti-Semites, but they are not eliminationist anti-Semites.  Do we bomb people for being anti-Semites?  To put the shoe on the other foot, would any sane person call to bomb Israel for their leaders being anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and/or Islamophobic?  One cannot help but reiterating the Orwellian mantra: actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Meanwhile, it is Israeli leaders who have not just endorsed but actively enacted a policy of “driving the Palestinians out of Palestine.”  The Israeli leadership has, for well over half a century, supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, euphemistically called “forced transfer.”  For example, the current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed support for ethnic cleansing by famously saying that Israel should “carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”  (In fact, a majority of Israelis support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.)  Worse yet, Netanyahu has not just supported ethnic cleansing by mere words, but is right now engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

In a previous article, I pointed out how misleading it is to focus on Iranian rhetoric over Israeli action.  While the Western media obsesses over whether or not Hamas or Iran may have called to wipe Israel off the map (mere rhetoric), Israel has literally wiped Palestine off the map (actual action)–it has been and is currently in the process of wiping the land of pesky Palestinians as well.  This is the difference then between word and deed: if one looks at a map, Israel is on it and Palestine is not.  Who has wiped out whom?  That this obvious absurdity is not ever pointed out in the Western media speaks volumes.

Yes, the Iranian leadership has called “the Zionist regime” a “cancer.”  So, now we are invading countries for simple name-calling?  If the Venezuelan government calls the United States and everything it represents a “fulminating disease” or even a “pile of human feces,” are we justified in attacking it?  If that is the case, then would Iran be justified in attacking the United States and Israel for all the things it has been called?   We dubbed Iran to be part of the “Axis of Evil.”  That’s just as bad as being called a “cancer.”  Can Iran attack us on that basis?  Here exists another double standard: we freely label Iran with the label of “Axis of Evil” but if Iran did the same to us, that would be proof of their innate belligerence.  This is because actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

There is no doubt that denying or downplaying the Holocaust is morally repugnant, but how could such a person as Jeffrey Goldberg, who throughout his career has justified, downplayed, and denied the Palestinian suffering, be up in arms about Iranian leaders doing the same with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust?  More importantly, would any sane person apply the logic to Israel, arguing that denial of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe)–the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948-1949–is reason to attack Israel?  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. (Note: Denying either the Holocaust, the Catastrophe, or any other such crime against humanity should be considered completely unacceptable.)

*  *  *  *  *

Then, Jeffrey Goldberg uses every Zionist’s favorite go-to trump card: “Hamas and Hezbollah!”  He writes that Iran has been

providing material support and training to two organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, that specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews.

Prof. William Beeman of Brown University argues that the Iranian links to Hamas and Hezbollah are exaggerated.  Aside from this, however, there is a profound double standard at play here: Israel supports Mujahedin-e Khalq, a militant group inside Iran that even the U.S. State Department designates a “terrorist organization”:

It is widely known within intelligence circles that the Israelis use the MEK for varied acts of espionage and terror…

If it is justified to attack Iran on the grounds that Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah which in turn commit acts of terrorism against Israel, then would our opponents argue that it is justified for Iran to attack Israel because Israel supports the MEK which engages in terrorism against Iran?  Such double standards are never pointed out in the U.S. media, but they certainly do not go unnoticed in the Muslim world and elsewhere.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.  

If Iran is to be attacked for its “material support” of groups that commit acts of terrorism, then wouldn’t the Iranians be more justified in attacking Israel, which has committed not just “material support” but actual acts of terrorism within Iran?  Israel has been implicated in several terrorist acts within Iran, including “bombings” and “assassinations” of Iranian scientists.  Just a couple weeks ago, the Israeli intelligence agency orchestrated a terrorist bombing within Iran, “in which 17 people were killed” including a prominent Iranian scientist.

One can only imagine the reaction within pro-Israeli circles–and the absolute indignation of the American media–if “stealth jihadists” of Iranian descent bombed an MIT lab and killed a dozen and a half civilians along with a prominent research professor.  Do you think the mainstream media would be silent about this string of terrorist attacks if they were against American targets and perpetrated by Muslims?  Remember:  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.  (This media double standard explains why most Americans believe the lie that nearly all terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims.)

The Guardian reports:

Israel has been linked to several previous incidents in Iran similar to Saturday’s explosion, including an explosion at a Shahab facility in south-western Iran in 2010 and a bomb attack earlier that year in Tehran, in which Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi was killed.

One need not look back to two weeks ago to prove Israeli terrorism in Iran: just a few days ago it was reported that an Iranian power plant was bombed in an Israeli terrorist attack JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer rejoiced, calling this terrorist attack “good news” and saying that “[t]his calls for some champagne.”  Similarly, Jeffrey Goldberg gleefully reported the news that Iran is under attack, showing once again how the Goldbergs and Gellers (in this case, Geller’s partner-in-crime) agree on advocating the Supreme Islamophobic Crime of bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim countries.

What do you think Spencer or Goldberg’s reaction would have been had it been a “stealth jihadist” who bombed an American power plant?  Recall the absolute rage of Islamophobes, neoconservatives, Goldbergs, and Gellers–as well as Americans in general–over the Fort Hood Shooting.  In that incident, Nidal Hasan killed U.S. soldiers on a military base as they were about to be deployed to go to war against Muslim countries.  At that time, it was wondered: how could Muslims be so bloodthirsty that they would do such a thing?  Yet, when Americans or Israelis kill Iranian scientists, then this is either brushed off as a necessary casualty in the War on Terror or even gleefully rejoiced over as yet another “success” in the War on Terror.

Of course, such double standards abound in our national discourse, without anyone pointing out the obvious.  This is because, repeat after me, actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

*  *  *  *  *

Goldberg then tries throwing the kitchen sink at Iran, arguing that we should attack Iran because it is lead by a “messianic, apocalyptic cult”:

[I]t isn’t too much to imagine that some of Iran’s more mystically minded leaders, mesmerized by visions of the apocalypse, would actually consider using a nuclear weapon on Israel — a country so small that a single detonation could cripple it permanently.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who once told me he believes that Iran is led by a “messianic, apocalyptic cult,” is correct to view Iran as a threat to his country’s existence.

Here, we see another example of Goldberg’s double standards.  While it is true that some Iranian leaders dabble in “messianic, apocalyptic” dribble, there is an equally pernicious ”messianic, apocalyptic” impulse among Israelis, which Jeffrey Goldberg himself acknowledges.  Should this be legitimate grounds for another country to attack Israel?  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

The only recognized sect of Judaism in Israel is Orthodox Judaism, the most prominent sect of which is Religious Zionism.  Rabbi Abraham Kook, considered the father of modern Religious Zionism, argued that “Zionists were agents in a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era.”  According to this messianic group, the congregating of the Jews in Israel will bring about the end times, meaning the wheels are already in motion.

Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, doesn’t seem to have a problem with “messianic, apocalyptic” Religious Zionists; in fact, Netanyahu proclaimed:

The religious Zionist public is part of every major way of life in Israel and it is time it was part of the ruling party

Netanyahu not only reached out to put such messianic Jews in “the ruling party”  but also “affirm[ed] Christian Zionists”, a nutty “the End is Near” Christian group.  He has himself engaged in messianic babble, and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article entitled “Netanyahu’s messianism could launch attack on Iran“.

There is another underlying irony here.  As noted above, Israel supports Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is a “revolutionary cult.”  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

*  *  *  *  *

Jeffrey Goldberg gives four more reasons why President Obama should lob missiles at Iran.  The first:

First, Iran and the U.S. have been waging a three- decade war for domination of the Middle East. If Iran goes nuclear, it will have won this war. American power in the Middle East will have been eclipsed, and Obama will look toothless.

This is a complete non-sequitur.  How does Iran having nuclear weapons in the region equate to “domination of the Middle East”?  Israel would still have tens or hundreds of times as many nuclear weapons as Iran, and the United States would have Iran surrounded.  What it would do is even out the scales of power a bit, making Israel think twice before nuking any of its neighbors.  What Zionists like Goldberg do not want, and will seek to prevent at any cost, is Iran to balance out the scales of power.  Goldberg et al. want American and Israeli “domination of the Middle East.”

Goldberg’s statement is very telling, because he accidentally reveals what every Arab and Muslim in the region knows: “[T]he U.S. [has] been waging a three-decade war for domination of the Middle East.”  Hmm….I wonder why do Arabs and Muslims in the region hate us?  It’s such a big mystery to me.

How would Americans feel if some other country was “waging a three-decade war” to dominate them?  But, of course, such comparisons–putting the shoe on the other foot–must never be discussed in the national discourse–and anyone who does so should be ignored, marginalized, and vilified.

Then, Goldberg says:

Second, every U.S. ally in the Middle East — Israel, the Gulf countries and Turkey, especially — fears a nuclear Iran. The president would have their complete support.

Here, we have another glimpse into the imperialist mind.  The reality of Arab street is thus:

According to the Brookings Institution’s 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, 77 percent regard Israel as the biggest threat, 80 percent regard the United States as the biggest threat, and only 10 percent regard Iran as the biggest threat. Fifty-seven percent think the region will be better off if Iran had nuclear weapons.

The same is the case in Turkey:

Turks see US as biggest external threat, poll results show

Some 43 percent of Turks perceive the United States as the country’s biggest threat, followed by Israel, according to a broad survey carried out in December…

The survey asked “From which country does the biggest threat come?” with 43 percent of Turks saying the U.S., followed by 24 percent who indicated Israel, 3 percent for Iran…

The percentage of Arabs, Muslims, and Turks who would support an American or Israeli attack on Iran would be, one can reasonably assume, even lower.

What Goldberg is saying then is that the American-supported stooge dictatorships–those same ones that the democratic Arab Spring has been shaking off–would support such a move against Iran.  To any good colonialist, what the people of a nation want does not matter: simply install a subservient client regime and through it thwart the will of the people.  I wonder why they hate us?  It is an absolute mystery to me.

Goldberg goes on:

Third, the president is ideologically committed to a world without nuclear weapons. If Iran gets the bomb, it will set off an arms race in the world’s most volatile region. At the very least, Saudi Arabia and Turkey will seek nuclear weapons. It would mark a bitter defeat for Obama to have inadvertently overseen the greatest expansion of the nuclear arms club in recent history.

The irony of the president of the United States–leader of a country that has the most nuclear weapons in the world, the only one to have ever used them (not once, but twice), one that is in violation of the NPT, one that still actively plans on how to use nuclear weapons in future wars, and one that comes to the swift defense of Israel when it opposes a nuclear free Middle East (see part I of my article)–claiming to be “ideologically committed to a world without nuclear weapons” should not be lost.

In fact, President Barack Obama–unlike Iran’s leaders who have steadfastly pledged never to use nuclear weapons against anyone–came up with a list of conditions under which the U.S. could use nuclear weapons (see this article by The New York Times).  Obama argued that any restrictions on nuclear weapons would simply not apply to “outliers like Iran and North Korea.”  He also reserved the right to use “nuclear retaliation against a biological attack” by any country (or even by a non-state actor, one assumes).  Obama refused to issue a “blanket statement that the country would never be the first to use nuclear weapons.”  Therefore, the United States effectively rejects a “no-first use” policy.

To be sure, the NYT article article mentions that Bush had an even more militant position; he “reserved the right to use nuclear weapons ‘to deter a wide range of threats,’ including banned chemical and biological weapons and large-scale conventional attacks.”  In other words, the Republican party is even more militant than Obama in this regard, giving an almost carte blanche to use nuclear weapons.

To sum it up: America reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, but is dedicated to restricting nuclear arms to, in Goldberg’s words, “the nuclear arms club”–with the U.S. being the leader of this exclusive club.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Goldberg’s obsession with Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons contrasts sharply with his indifference or acceptance of Israel’s known nuclear program.

Goldberg’s last reason to attack Iran uses typical Zionist exploitation of Jewish suffering coupled with alarmist fear-mongering to justify war:

Finally, the president has a deep understanding of Jewish history, and is repulsed by Iranian anti-Semitism. He doesn’t want to be remembered as the president who failed to guarantee Israel’s existence.

Does Israeli bigotry towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims give Iran the justification to attack Israel?  Or does this, like all of Goldberg’s other reasons, apply only one way?  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Jeffrey Goldberg completes his pro-Israel propaganda by invoking the mandatory Hitler reference, arguing that a “nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people.”  As Greenwald noted:

No discussion of any of this is complete without noting that it was endlessly claimed that it was Saddam who was the New Hitler in order ratchet up fear levels and justify an attack that country, too. How many times can we be persuaded to attack the New Hitler?

*  *  *  *  *

Glenn Greenwald’s recent article, George Orwell on the Evil Iranian Menace, is an absolute must read.  The United States has been hard at word portraying the Iranians as “the Aggressor, the Modern Nazis, a True Menace” and itself (and Israel) as Iran’s “innocent peace-loving victims.”  This is of course placing reality on its head, which is completely obvious if one puts the shoe on the other foot.

Imagine, for instance, if Iran militarily occupied Canada and Mexico, if Cuba and other islands near the U.S. mainland were Iranian client regimes, if a massive Iranian naval fleet were stationed nearby on both East and West Coasts, if Iranian sky robots were flying over American soil targeting and killing U.S. citizens, if Iran committed acts of terrorism on U.S. soil such as blowing up power plants, if Iran assassinated American scientists, if Iran launched sophisticated cyber-attacks against the U.S., if Iran lobbied for crippling sanctions against America, and if Iranian leaders routinely called for war against America–what do you think the American reaction to all this would be?

After noting that the U.S. has done all this whereas “Iran has not invaded, occupied or air attacked anyone”, Greenwald writes:

Given the extensive violence and aggression the U.S. has perpetrated, and continues to perpetrate, on numerous countries in that region, one might think that not even our political culture could sustain the propagandistic myth that it is Iran that is the aggressor state and the U.S. that is its peace-loving victim. But, of course, one who thought that would be completely wrong. Not only is it a widespread belief, but it’s virtually mandated orthodoxy. But none of that should be at all surprising or confusing, given that 66 years ago, George Orwell — in his 1945 Notes on Nationalism— explained exactly the warped form of thinking that creates this mindset:

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

This is not to say that the Iranian regime is benevolent; there is no question that it is domestically oppressive.  Oppression of Bahais and other minorities is something that should not be downplayed.  (This is why I hope that, like other Arab dictatorships that have been toppled by the people themselves, the same happens in Iran.  This is also the reason I supported the Iranian Green Movement against the Iranian regime and ayatollah-ruled theocracy.)

But, as Greenwald pointed out:

Iran, to be sure, is domestically oppressive, but no more so — and in many cases less — than the multiple regimes funded, armed and otherwise propped up by the U.S. during this period.

I would also point out that this line of argumentation cannot reasonably be used by Goldberg and other Israeli apologists because Israel itself is domestically oppressive to its significant Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim population.  This, as we see, is another argument that seems to only work one way, because the moral of the story is that actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

*  *  *  *  *

In conclusion, every single one of Jeffrey Goldberg’s reasons to go to war against Iran are hypocritical.  He, like Islamophobes everywhere, uses profound double standards, applying one standard to Muslims (Iranians, in this case) and another for America and Israel.  This is the Greater Islamophobia, which revolves around the Supreme Islamophobic Myth: radical Islam is the greatest threat to world peace.  This is something that both Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller strongly agree with, and they advocate the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.

The disagreement between Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller just has to do with a difference of opinion with regard to P.R.: Goldberg believes that the Lesser Islamophobia gives the Greater Islamophobia “a bad name”, whereas Geller believes it helps create popular support for it.  In reality, both of them are correct:  Goldberg gives the Supreme Islamophobic Myth the Seriousness it needs in order to be taken Seriously by policy-makers and Serious People, whereas Geller helps create popular support for such warlike policies among the masses.  The Goldbergs and Gellers of the world work hand in glove.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Iranian Book “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet” No Different than Israeli Publications

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by loonwatch

The anti-Muslim blogosphere operates as an echo-chamber: one Islamophobic site publishes a story and then the other ones quickly reproduce it.  The latest story to get the Islamophobic juices flowing was with regard to a book that was supposedly published by religious students in Iran.  I wrote about it earlier:

Iran: Yet Another Case Study in Robert Spencer’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer just posted an article with the following title:

How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet: Iran promotes genocidal book by Muslim seminarians, published by Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance

He’s taking exception to an anti-Israeli book supposedly written by some religious students in Iran, called “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet.”  Spencer calls this a “genocidal book.”

This is why LoonWatch exists.  We’ve been documenting what loons like Robert Spencer say so that we can pull Jon Stewart moves like the one I am going to pull now…

The reader is referred to Robert Spencer’s post in March 2010 wherein he promoted a “genocidal video” calling for “wiping Pakistan off the map” and nuclear annihilation of Pakistan:

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: Wipe Pakistan Off the Map

And my article on the topic back then:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Promote Video by Militant and Genocidal Group

When Iranians/Muslims call to “wipe Israel off the map” or “eliminate Israel from the planet”, then it is a “genocidal book” and all freedom-loving people must be outraged by this.  When anti-Muslim extremists call for the same against Muslims, then that’s a “genocidal freedom-loving video” that all freedom-loving people must support.  As George Orwell put it: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

Robert Spencer’s hypocrisy and double standards are of course shared across the Islamophobic spectrum, from the mild-mannered Jeffrey Goldberg to the foaming-at-the-mouth website BareNakedIslam.

For now, I am assuming that Robert Spencer et al. are accurately reporting the story–a huge assumption considering: (1) I have not found the story reported by any reputable sources; (2)  Loons like Robert Spencer aren’t exactly known for accurately and truthfully reporting anything about Islam or Muslims. (3) Spencer cited Pajamas Media as his source (note: Remember how Robert Spencer and his minions scoff at using a source with silly names like “LoonWatch” or “Danios”…)

Leaving aside for now matters of accuracy, I’d like to expose even more hypocrisy and double standards from not just Robert Spencer but by the Islamophobes in general who are reporting this story in an effort to warmonger against Iran on Israel’s behalf.  They are trying to argue that the anti-Israeli book was not just written by a couple random students, but was in fact endorsed by the Iranian government; their evidence for this is the claim that the “book has been published by the Khorasan branch of the Ministry of Islamic culture and guidance.”

If this is proof of how evil Iran and Islam are, then what about this:

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and “is recognized by law as the supreme halakhic and spiritual authority for the Jewish people in the State of Israel.”  During the Gaza War (Massacre) in 2009, the Chief Rabbinate “gave soldiers fighting in Gaza pamphlets urging them to show no mercy.”  Other pamphlets elaborated on the Chief Rabbinate’s orders, spelling it out in no uncertain terms: kill the civilian population because “it is not innocent.”

Haaretz, the oldest and one of the most established of Israeli newspapers, reported:

An overview of some of the army rabbinate’s publications made available during the fighting reflects the tone of nationalist propaganda that steps blatantly into politics, sounds racist and can be interpreted as a call to challenge international law when it comes to dealing with enemy civilians.

Robert Spencer wrote that the Iranian book was a “book filled with genocidal hate, rooted in the Qur’an”; he bolded the parts of the passage that mentioned the Islamic holy book.  His purpose in doing so is obvious: to smear the entire faith of Islam.

It should be pointed out to Spencer that in the case of the military rabbinate’s violent, racist, and genocidal publications, it was none other than the Bible and traditional Jewish law that was cited.  Haaretz noted:

Following are quotations from this material:

“[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.” This is an excerpt from a publication entitled “Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead,” issued by the IDF rabbinate. The text is from “Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner,” who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

The following questions are posed in one publication: “Is it possible to compare today’s Palestinians to the Philistines of the past? And if so, is it possible to apply lessons today from the military tactics of Samson and David?” Rabbi Aviner is again quoted as saying: “A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land … They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country … Today the problem is the same. The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence.”

The IDF rabbinate, also quoting Rabbi Aviner, describes the appropriate code of conduct in the field: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers. ‘A la guerre comme a la guerre.’”

To be perfectly clear, if it is true that an Iranian book was published with such offensive material in it, we should condemn it wholeheartedly–just as we should condemn the Israeli publications I mentioned above.  But we shouldn’t vilify Islam as a whole, just as we shouldn’t vilify Judaism as a whole.  Neither should we beat the drums of war against Iran, just as no rational person would use the Israeli publications as a valid justification to attack Israel.

I would, however, point out that there is one major difference between the case in Iran and Israel.  If it is argued that the Iranian book endorses ethnic cleansing as our opponents claim, it should be pointed out that Iranians are not actively carrying out such a thing.  The belligerence is limited to mere words and rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the publications in Israel were handed out to soldiers deployed in a brutal war against Palestinians/Muslims, part of a long campaign of ethnic cleansing that first began in 1948.  Those instructions to show no mercy to the enemy population were actively executed and acted upon by Israeli soldiers.

Leading international human rights organizations condemned “Operation Cast Lead” (as it was called by the Israelis).  Amnesty International, for example, titled their report: “Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction”.  The report noted that Israeli forces committed “wanton destruction” and killed “[h]undreds of Palestinian civilians” (whereas Palestinian rocket attacks “only rarely caused civilian casualties”).

Meanwhile, no Iranian publication can be linked to actual Jewish or Israeli fatalities.

Iran cannot realistically go beyond anything more than mere words or rhetoric, because actual acts of violence will be met with overwhelming force and massive retaliation from Israel and/or the United States.  This is so much so that it is being reported, by the likes of none other than Jeffrey Goldberg, that Iran is already under attack by Israel and the United States, and yet the Iranians have not retaliated or declared war.

If bombing Iranian facilities, killing their scientists, and using drones in their territory cannot evoke a military response, then why would anyone assume that they would have the audacity to initiate an attack on Israel?  The reason Iran hasn’t responded to these acts of war against it are that it wants to avoid being “bombed into the stone ages” like Iraq was.  In other words, the last thing Iran would want to do is give Israel or the United States a smoking gun.  Angry but empty rhetoric earns Tehran popular support, whereas action would jeopardize the regime’s very existence.

The Iranian leadership is no doubt despotic, oppressive, and illegitimate; but it is also, like many dictatorships, tenaciously pragmatic when it comes to holding onto the reigns of power.  The desire for self-preservation is an amazing thing.

Meanwhile, Israel can afford to act unilaterally, and it does so quite regularly and with a great deal of impunity, thanks to Uncle Sam, who acts as a shield to any international response.

This is why dwelling on Iran’s rhetoric as opposed to Israeli action is misleading, but that of course is the essence of war propaganda.

Update I:

Prof. Juan Cole worded it best (h/t Believing Atheist):

Moreover, Iran cannot fight Israel. It would be defeated in 72 hours, even if the US didn’t come in, which it would (and rightly so if Israel were attacked). Iran is separated by several other countries from Israel. It has not attacked aggressively any other country militarily for over a century (can Americans say that of their own record?) It has only a weak, ineffective air force. So why worry about it?

What is really going on here is an old trick of the warmongers. Which is that you equate hurtful statements of your enemy with an actual military threat, and make a weak and vulnerable enemy look like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one can complain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce his country to flames and rubble.

Iran: Yet Another Case Study in Robert Spencer’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2011 by loonwatch

 

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer just posted an article with the following title:

How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet: Iran promotes genocidal book by Muslim seminarians, published by Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance

He’s taking exception to an anti-Israeli book supposedly written by some religious students in Iran, called “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet.”  Spencer calls this a “genocidal book.”

This is why LoonWatch exists.  We’ve been documenting what loons like Robert Spencer say so that we can pull Jon Stewart moves like the one I am going to pull now…

The reader is referred to Robert Spencer’s post in March 2010 wherein he promoted a “genocidal video” calling for “wiping Pakistan off the map” and nuclear annihilation of Pakistan:

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: Wipe Pakistan Off the Map

And my article on the topic back then:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Promote Video by Militant and Genocidal Group

When Iranians/Muslims call to “wipe Israel off the map” or “eliminate Israel from the planet”, then it is a “genocidal book” and all freedom-loving people must be outraged by this.  When anti-Muslim extremists call for the same against Muslims, then that’s a “genocidal freedom-loving video” that all freedom-loving people must support.  As George Orwell put it: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

(Image at the top of the page comes from an earlier article exposing Robert Spencer: LoonWatch Exclusive: Robert Spencer’s “f**kallah.com” & “f**kislam.com”)

The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (I)

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by loonwatch

Jeffrey Goldberg, an establishment journalist, has made a career out of shilling for Israel and war-cheerleading against various Muslim countries.  Goldberg’s polite, professional, and mainstream expression of Islamophobia is far more pernicious than the rude, amateurish, and fringe Islamophobia of Pamela Geller.

This Thanksgiving, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs crossed swords over Butterball’s halal turkeys; the animosity between the two has reached the point where Goldberg refers to Geller as his “arch-nemesis” and Geller calls Goldberg a “Jewicidal Jihadi” (whatever in the world that means).

But while Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller may disagree over such silly matters as “stealth halal” turkeys (which I call the “Lesser Islamophobia”), Goldberg and Geller are guilty of advocating the “Supreme Islamophobic Crime”: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.  With regard to this “Greater Islamophobia”, establishment journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg have a lot more influence than the Pamela Gellers of the world in promoting the war hysteria necessary to sustain the political and popular support for American wars against an increasingly long list of Muslim countries.

The Crusades that ravaged the Muslim world centuries ago were fueled by mindless hatred of the Other, a hatred without which it is unlikely that a whole civilization could have been successfully mobilized against another.  Similarly, the United States of America has taken up the sword against the Muslim world, something that simply would not be possible without large segments of the society accepting an anti-Muslim worldview as axiomatic.

Islamophobia is necessary to wage war against the Muslim world but it is also the inevitable result of such wars.  There is a need to spread the Supreme Islamophobic Myth that radical Islam is the greatest threat to world peace and must be fought.  This need exists (1) in order that nobody, especially the American population itself, realizes that the opposite is true (that it is the United States–not any Muslim country–that is committing the “supreme international crime” of waging aggressive wars in foreign lands), and (2) in order to justify endless war and military occupations.

It is important to understand that one reason Jeffrey Goldberg rejects the Lesser Islamophobia such as Pamela Geller’s silly “stealth halal” turkey nonsense is because, in his own words, “Pamela Geller…gives the fight against Islamist terrorism a bad name.”  In other words, the Lesser Islamophobia gives the Greater Islamophobia “a bad name” and might turn people away from bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.

We saw a similar dynamic earlier this year when Harry Reid, Lindsey Graham, and others suggested that formal action be taken against the Quran-burning Florida preacher Terry Jones.  Jones was vilified as an Islamophobic bigot (and there is no doubt that he is one), whose (Lesser) Islamophobia was supposedly placing U.S. troops in Afghanistan at risk.  Yet, these same individuals are among the greatest defenders of the Greater Islamophobia, which is the real cause behind Muslim anger: the bombing, invading, and occupying of Muslim lands.  In fact, their opposition to Pastor Jones was that he was making it more difficult to sustain the military campaign against Muslims.  As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald wrote:

[T]here is an extreme irony in Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham, of all people, suddenly worrying about actions that trigger anger and violence in the Muslim world. These two Senators, after all, have supported virtually every one of America’s actions which have triggered vastly more anti-American anger, vengeance and violence in the Muslim world than anything Pastor Jones could dream of spawning — from the attack on Iraq to the decade-long occupation of Afghanistan to blind support for Israel to the ongoing camp at Guantanamo.

Similarly, war-cheerleading journalist Jeffrey Goldberg supports the Supreme Tenet of Islamophobia: seemingly endless war against the Muslim world.  Even before the blood of Afghan and Iraqi citizens dried from the American sword, U.S. war rhetoric against two other Muslim countries–Iran and Pakistan–has ratcheted up.  Just like in the lead up to the Iraq War, the Jeffrey Goldbergs of the mainstream media have been furiously at work making the case for war.

To understand the war-obsessed brain of Jeffrey Goldberg it would be worthwhile to look back to his 2008 article Re-Thinking Jeffery Goldberg.  In it, he reveals the interesting fact that not even Jeffrey Goldberg can keep track of how many Muslim countries Jeffrey Goldberg has called to attack.  He writes:

Last year…I called for the immediate invasion of Yemen (or possibly Oman)…

Was it Yemen or Oman?  Goldberg can’t remember–surely, we can’t expect him to remember such a long list of countries to invade.  The article reveals how flippantly Goldberg discusses such matters; it’s just table talk for him.  Bomb Yemen?  Oman?  Iraq?  Iran?  They all sound so similar!

It would also be worthwhile to take into account his ideological background:  Jeffrey Goldberg, like Pamela Geller, is a militant Zionist extremist.  He “moved to Israel while still a college student” where he served “as a military policeman in the Israeli army”, earned the rank of corporal in the Israel Defense Forces, and served as a prison guard in “the Ketziot military prison camp”, the conditions of which Defence for Children International called “truly appalling”; Human Rights Watch declared the Ketziot prison camp a “clear violation of the IV Geneva Convention.”

Glenn Greenwald wrote of Jeffrey Goldberg so:

[Jeffrey] Goldberg[‘s …]devotion to Israel is so extreme that he served in the IDF as a prison guard over Palestinians and was described last year as “Netanyahu’s faithful stenographer” by The New York Times’ Roger Cohen…

The link between Zionism and Islamophobia has been investigated before; the connection between Zionism and warmongering is even clearer.  So, it is no surprise that Jeffrey Goldberg is a war-cheerleader.  The Institute for Policy Studies calls him “a hawkish ‘pro-Israel’ commentator[]” whose “articles have often seemed to parallel efforts by hawks to push the United States into war.”

His most recent war-cheerleading articles have been against Iran and Pakistan, which is what I will focus on here.  Goldberg is not the only journalist beating the drums of war, but he is one highly prominent figure in the establishment media who serves as a quintessential example of the typical hypocrisy, profound double standards, and bloodthirsty warmongering that permeates the national discourse.

America’s Hypocrisy toward Iran

Jeffrey Goldberg urges President Barack Obama to launch “missile strikes” against Iran for its supposed nuclear weapons program:

The International Atomic Energy Agency is set to release a report today offering further proof that the Iranian regime is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

No intelligence is entirely dispositive, but the evidence on hand about Iran’s nuclear activities, even before the release of the latest report, is fairly persuasive, and the IAEA isn’t known to be a den of neoconservative war-plotting. It isn’t interested in giving Israel a pretext for a preemptive attack on Iran unless it has to.

The question now is what Israel — or the U.S. — will do about it.

The Israeli case for preemption is compelling, and has been for some time.

Notice that Goldberg doesn’t even care what the IAEA report would say: he wrote this article before the report was published.  Either way for him, the Iranian regime is producing nuclear weapons and should be attacked.

Goldberg fails to mention what The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh pointed out in an excellent article explaining why the IAEA’s change in leadership from the respectable Mohammed ElBaradei to Yukiya Amano gives reason to doubt its impartiality: according to leaked cables obtained by Wikileaks, the American permanent representative to the IAEA commented that “[Amano] was solidly in the U.S. court in every strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”  

Furthermore, despite all the war-cheerleading from America’s propaganda press, “there is nothing [in the report] that indicates that Iran is really building a bomb.”

In any case, Jeffrey Goldberg’s article on Iran in 2011 should evoke in the reader feelings of deja vu: in the run up to the Iraq War, Goldberg published a very similar article against Saddam’s Iraq.  Then, Goldberg had written:

“It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years,” [a German official] said.

There is some debate among arms-control experts about exactly when Saddam will have nuclear capabilities. But there is no disagreement that Iraq, if unchecked, will have them soon, and a nuclear-armed Iraq would alter forever the balance of power in the Middle East. “The first thing that occurs to any military planner is force protection,” Charles Duelfer told me. “If your assessment of the threat is chemical or biological, you can get individual protective equipment and warning systems. If you think he’s going to use a nuclear weapon, where are you going to concentrate your forces?”

There is little doubt what Saddam might do with an atomic bomb or with his stocks of biological and chemical weapons.

Simply exchange “Iraq” for “Iran” and we now have Goldberg’s 2011 article.  Goldberg was one of the key journalists who played a part in pushing the case for war against Iraq, by spreading the lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (on the verge of becoming nuclear) and that he was somehow connected to Al-Qaeda and 9/11.  Goldberg even repeats the claim that “Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years”: he says bombing Iran will have a “reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years.”

Goldberg and his ilk had succeeded in misleading the American public with regard to Iraq, pushing the nation to war and leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. He served an important role in spreading the government’s propaganda in order to justify the “supreme international crime”: initiating a war of aggression.

And now Goldberg et al. are at it again, this time against Iran.  The image at the top of this article really speaks to the “now serving bombing customer #224″ mentality that permeates the American military juggernaut.

In addition to being a hyper-aggressive superpower that bombs countries left and right (which, for Iran, is literally the case: countries neighboring it on both sides have been bombed, invaded, and occupied by America), the U.S. obliviously engages in the most egregious of hypocrisies.  It simply does not enter into polite discussion in Western media–but it does in Iran, Pakistan, and the rest of the Muslim world–how hypocritical it is of the United States, the country with the most nuclear weapons in the world, to vilify a country for (allegedly) trying to build a single such bomb.  The forbidden question to ask is: what moral right does the United States, the greatest nuclear power in the world, have to stop other countries from pursuing the same course of action?

Other absurdities include the fact that Israel, America’s closest ally, also has a secret (not so secret) nuclear weapons program, possessing “over 400 nuclear and hydrogen weapons.” Why can Israel have so many nuclear weapons, yet Iran cannot have a single one?

Furthermore, in the words of FAIR, “[t]he U.S. is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”  As Jimmy Carter wrote:

While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons.

Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara issued an unusually honest assessment, saying:

I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous.

FAIR notes further:

The NPT’s preamble calls on nuclear weapons states “to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.” Article VI of the NPT explicitly obliges signatories “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Thirty-seven years after agreeing to these conditions, the U.S.—the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against human beings—spends $40 billion a year to field, maintain and modernize nuclear forces, including an arsenal of 10,000 warheads, 2,000 of which are on hair-trigger alert.

Meanwhile, Israel refuses to even sign the NPT.  Why aren’t the war drums beating against Israel for its reticence in this regard?  In fact, “[n]early 200 nations, signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), backed plans” to hold a conference to achieve a nuclear-free Middle East.  The only country in the region refusing to hold such talks?  Israel.

I’m sure the United States of America condemned Israel for this, and threatened sanctions and war.  The President of the United States supported Israel in its decision and claimed that such a conference “singles out Israel.”  Well, yes, I guess one might think it “singles out Israel” since Israel is the only country in the region to have nuclear weapons, the irony of which should not be missed considering Israel pushed war on Iraq and is now doing the same with Iran for trying to produce nuclear weapons.

But such ironies do not get discussed in America, only in the rest of the world.  In the Muslim world, it is clearly understood that the United States and Israel are not against nuclear weaponry nor do they ever want a nuclear free Middle East–instead, they simply want to hold a nuclear monopoly.  We get nukes; you don’t; if you break this “fair” agreement, then we’ll bomb you, on the grounds that you have nukes–we might even nuke you for having nukes, because nukes are bad, except when we have and use them.  As George Orwell said: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

Some Israeli apologists have argued that there is no equivalence between Iran and Israel since the former is a signatory of the NPT and the latter is not.  This is a purposefully deceitful argument: can anyone imagine the sort of pressure (sanctions, military force, war, and/or occupation) that would await Iran had it refused to sign the NPT or now withdrew from it?  (It is legal to withdraw from the treaty after giving three months notice.)  If Iran weren’t a signatory of the NPT, we all know that the entire premise of sanctions and military action would be: Iran must sign the NPT!  If Iran withdrew from the NPT, the entire premise would be: Iran withdrew from the NPT!  Furthermore, proponents of the “Iran signed the NPT, Israel didn’t” defense should be asked: What about the United States, which signed the NPT and is in violation of it?  Can Iran legally bomb the U.S. now?

Another counter-argument raised is the claim that the United States and Israel cannot possibly be equated with countries such as Iran.  The implication here is that Iran is just so absolutely warlike that it cannot be trusted with nuclear weaponry.  Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel are peace-loving democracies and can be trusted never to use them.  Orwell’s quote–and Glenn Greenwald’s recent article on Orwell and Iran–come to mind.

There is the obvious absurdity that the United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against human beings (not once, but twice).  Not only this, but the U.S. has never apologized for doing so; quite the opposite: Americans have always claimed that incinerating two civilian cities saved millions of lives, a morally repugnant lie that lives on.  Only the most brainwashed mind could understand such depraved logic: bombing and killing thousands of people actually saves lives.  In the words of George Orwell: war is peace.

Imagine if Nazi Germany had produced the atomic bomb first–and had nuked Great Britain or the United States (not once, but twice).  The dastardly act would be remembered by the Western powers as the ultimate act of Nazi depravity; the atomic bomb would be viewed as the most Nazi-like of weapons, one that wantonly and indiscriminately incinerates civilian populations.  In such a scenario, Nazi propaganda that such an act was noble because it “saved millions of German lives” would be scoffed at and not taken seriously.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

If Americans still engage in the morally atrocious act of justifying the mass murder of Japanese civilians from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (even though Japan had been ready to surrender long before it was nuked), one shouldn’t be surprised that the United States continues to ponder the use of nuclear weapons in the near future.  Leaked documents have shown that the U.S. government has

outlined a broad array of contingencies under which the U.S. might use nuclear weapons. Among these contingencies: using nuclear weapons against countries with no nuclear weapons capacity, such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Here, we see the profound hypocrisy of the U.S. government on full display: while using the threat of Iranian nuclear attack as a moral pretense to wage war against Iran, the United States itself has long been planning “a broad array of contingencies” under which Iran may be nuked.  Is this not a case of mind-boggling projection?

From this, it is clear that the U.S. government does not desire nuclear disarmament, but nuclear monopoly: this unequal balance of nuclear power leaves open the nuclear option against its non-nuclear enemies without fear of nuclear retaliation.

The same is the case with Israel, which has issued contradictory statements about the use of nuclear weapons.  Yes, Israel has said “it would not be the first country in the Middle East to formally introduce nuclear weapons into the region”, but what does this vague statement mean?  Do Israelis think Iran has now “introduced” nuclear weapons into the region?  In fact, Israel “reject[s] no first use because they believe that there may be circumstances in which they would initiate use of nuclear weapons.”

Indeed, Israel endorses the Samson Option, whereby Israel will respond with “massive retaliation” (including the use of nuclear weaponry) if it feels threatened.  What policy could be more maniacal than this?  Here, we have Israel endorsing a policy of nuclear Armageddon, yet on the other hand we are constantly told that Iran, unlike Israel, might use the bomb–a bomb it doesn’t even have.

Meanwhile, the truth is that the Supreme Leader of Iran has rejected the use of nuclear weaponry  because it is “forbidden in Islam”:

Nuclear weapons unholy, Iran says / Islam forbids use, clerics proclaim

In a surprising development, Iran’s hard-line clerical establishment, which had bitterly resisted American pressure to open the country’s nuclear facilities to inspection, is using its religious influence to rally support for an agreement with the West to foreswear the development of nuclear weapons.

Led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s “supreme leader,” Iranian clerics have repeatedly declared that Islam forbids the development and use of all weapons of mass destruction.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Khamenei said recently. “In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.”

The ironies just keep adding up: the United States–a country that has used nuclear weapons in the past, possesses the most nuclear weapons in the world, and actively makes plans on how to use nuclear weapons against its enemies–is threatening to take action against Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons program–a country that has never used them, does not have them, and has sworn never to never use them (not even in self-defense or retaliation).  Only in the U.S. media could such absurdities go largely unchallenged.

If anyone tries to mention that the United States and Israel are far more warlike than Iran, he must be quickly shut up.  One recalls the debate Ahmed Rehab had with Bill O’Reilly; asked Rehab: “How many countries has Iran attacked in the past 50 years?”  The answer: zero.  Meanwhile, the United States and Israel have attacked dozens and dozens of countries (in a future article, I will compile the lengthy list of nations that have been attacked by the U.S. and Israel.)

O’Reilly couldn’t give a straight answer to the question (the answer is zero–Iran has never initiated a war against another country) so he brought up the Iran-Iraq War and the current Iraq War.  Yet, the Iran-Iraq War was not initiated by Iran–rather, Iraq attacked Iran.  There is no debate about this fact, so either (1) O’Reilly is ignorant of the facts he cites, or (2) he is using a misleading argument, which really speaks volumes about how few countries Iran has ever invaded (zero) that he was forced to make one up.  Worse yet, the example O’Reilly cited is an example of Iran being attacked by a country that received the military backing to do so by the United States.  In fact, “the CIA authorized, approved and assisted…in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq” for use against Iran.

The second example O’Reilly cited was of the current Iraq War.  Once again, O’Reilly reverses reality: Iran did not invade Iraq.  He must have mistaken the United States for Iran.  Both examples O’Reilly used show America’s belligerency, not Iran’s.

The other examples O’Reilly gave, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, also show that he simply cannot answer the question in a straight manner.  The reason he can’t do so is because the answer is zero. Neither Hamas or Hezbollah is Iran.  At most one could argue that Hezbollah operates as a proxy for Iran.  In that case, we should compare the number of countries that the United States has not only attacked but how many the U.S. has done so by proxy.  That list would certainly dwarf Iran’s.

The double standard is well-understood by Iranians and Muslims living in other countries: nuclear weapons are OK for America and Israel, but off limits to countries like Iran.  Yet, it is exactly such countries that would most need nuclear weapons to act as deterrence against American and Israeli threats of military action, belligerence, and propensity toward aggression.

Part 2 of this article to be published within 24-48 hours.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Exclusive Loonwatch Interview with Reza Aslan

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by loonwatch

Recently we sat down with Muslim scholar and best selling author Reza Aslan for an in-depth interview on a wide range of issues. This is the first in what will hopefully be a longstanding series of interviews that are planned with high profile scholars and movers and shakers in pop culture.

We covered Reza’s days as a break dancer, conversion to Christianity and return to Islam, his thoughts on Islamophobia, Robert Spencer, the Arab Spring, reformation of Islam and the current saber-rattling with Iran.

It was a fascinating and hilarious interview and I think you will find we covered new ground, such as the breaking news that Reza is willing to finally reciprocate Robert Spencer’s man crush!

Loonwatch (LW): I heard you used to break dance?

Reza Aslan (RA): Yes, (laughter) I used to be a break dancer. My name used to be El Penguin, because I was so bow legged.

LW: Did you ever graduate to doing head spins and flares?

RA: I could do a really poor head spin but it was definitely not my forte with my footwork. I was in a (laugh) break dance troupe called Etron, which was Norte spelled backwards because we were on the north side of Fresno.

LW: Do you still break once in a while?

RA: Hell no. If I tried to break dance today I would definitely break something. Oh, I could still pop-block with the best of them but break dancing, no.

LW: We heard in the course of one of your interviews that you converted to Evangelical Christianity at one point in your life?

RA: Yes, when I was 15 years old…

LW: Were you practicing taqiyyah?

RA: Yes. (laughter) My entire life is just one big practice of taqiyyah. Like everything I do as a human being.

Actually, it was part of this group called Young Life, pretty famous nation-wide group. They go into High Schools and Junior High Schools and they evangelize. I went to this summer camp where you hear the Gospel message, and yeah when I was 15 years old, a sophomore, and so it was before my sophomore year of HS. Yeah, I found Jesus, he was awesome.

LW: How was that, what was that experience like when you were an Evangelical?

RA: It’s magical! The thing about Evangelical Christianity and why I think it is so appealing, particularly to young people is that I mean it is just such a brilliant and profoundly moving story. There is a reason why it is called the greatest story ever told, right? That God had this physical son, like His little baby boy you know that came down to earth and because you yourself are such an awful human being, because of all the terrible things you do, God decided to have His son tortured and murdered in order to save you from yourself and that if you don’t accept that story, not only are you spitting in God’s face but oh yeah you are also going to burn in hell for all eternity.

It’s an amazing story, that’s why it is so appealing. Now the important thing to understand is that is what it precisely is, a story. I am not by any means discounting it or criticizing it. All religion is story, all mythology is story but that is a particularly good one, and it’s a story, I think particularly for young people looking for easy answers to complicated questions can flock to, and the last 2000 years are testimony to that.

LW: That is quite profound. I was wondering, going from that to becoming an Islamic scholar and someone who regularly speaks on Islam, how did you return to Islam? Was it a going back to your roots?

RA: Well, after High School, like most people who are introduced to Evangelical Christianity when they’re kids then go to college you realize, “oh wow, a lot of the stuff that I was told by my youth leaders and my pastors was kind of nonsense actually” and so you begin to question those issues, question those ideas.

I went to a Catholic College, a Jesuit Catholic College and began studying the Bible and particularly the New Testament from a scholarly perspective and the more I kept studying the more I realized almost everything I was told about the Bible and about the New Testament and frankly about the Gospel story was false. More importantly the truth behind the Gospel story, the truth behind who Jesus was and what Jesus really said was far more interesting, far more profound and frankly far more appealing than the false notions of it that I was fed as a kid. So throughout my early years in college I decided to get a degree in Biblical Studies. I became fluent in Greek and became a young scholar about the origins of Christianity and the historical Jesus and then when I graduated I was heading off to Harvard to get a Masters degree in that topic when one of my undergraduate professors, one of my mentors, Katherine Bell sat me down and basically said, “Why aren’t you studying Islam?” and I said “what do you mean?”

She basically said something at the time that really changed my life, which was by the time I get my PhD in Bibilical Studies no one is going to care about Biblical Studies anymore, everyone is going to want to have scholars and experts on Islam. You know, this was in 1995 when she said this, she obviously was quite prescient in what she was talking about. She gave me a couple of books and obviously my family was nominally Muslim, well not really, culturally Muslim, just as most Christians are culturally Christian and I had grown up surrounded by Muslim culture, so I was somewhat familiar with it, but of course like most people of a particular religion I really knew nothing about the religion that I “called my own.”

I spent the summer before I went off to Harvard just reading some books about Islam, reading the Quran really for the first time as an adult and the more I started reading about it, the history, the theology, the Quranic studies, the more I was just kind of excited about it. I always talk about how I had an emotional conversion to Christianity but a rational conversion to Islam. Reading about the way Islam talks about the divine and the relationship between human beings and God and conceptions of the universe and ideas of the transcendent, these made a hell of a lot more sense to me cosmologically speaking than some old man in the sky impregnated a virgin and His son came out and died for us.

It’s just that the symbols of Islam suddenly broke through and made sense to me in a way that traditional Protestant Christianity never really did, and then when I entered Harvard the first day of class I had to get all new classes and change my advisers and tell everyone, “by the way I am not here to do what I told everyone I was going to do, instead I am going to study Islam.”

LW: Wow, fascinating, you don’t hear today, discussion about Islam and rationality often…

RA: There is no more rational religion than Islam. Islam is founded upon reason and rationality, very much like Judaism. You have to understand that Islam and Judaism are legalistic religions, Christianity is a creedal religion. Christianity is all about belief, right? In fact, if you are a Catholic that creedal formulation is a complex formula, “I believe in God the Father maker of heaven and earth, I believe in Jesus His only begotten son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Apostolic Church, etc. etc.”

In Judaism and Islam there is no creedal statement as such. In Islam the creedal statement is as simplistic as it possibly can get. “There is no god but God, Muhammad is God’s messenger,” that’s the sum in total of creed when it comes to Islam, as a result both Islam and Judaism developed as highly legalistic religions. In legalistic religions the people who usually control the interpretation are scholars. In a creedal religion the people who control interpretation are preachers, priests and pastors, you see what I mean?

In other words, and by no means am I saying priests aren’t intelligent, of course they are, and often times they go through enormous amounts of religious training, but their job is to shepherd a flock, not to deal with the very high rational concepts of legal theory that is born from a religion founded on orthopraxy, correct practice instead of orthodoxy, correct belief.

It’s just another wide spread misperception in the United States about Islam, that Islam is a religion that cannot reconcile reason and faith.

The only real global religion which has dealt with that problem really is Christianity. I mean if you are talking about Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and all the way to Paul Tillick and Reinhold Niebuhr, these are the great Christian theologians that for thousands of years have been struggling to reconcile faith and reason. That hasn’t really been that strong of an argument in Judaism and Islam, the argument has been about the different “rational answers” that are possible to the various questions, theological questions that Islam and Judaism bring up, but the question is not should reason even play a role.

LW: It seemed the Pope didn’t help that case with the Regensburg Address. What was he after with that? When Pope Benedict made that speech, he used Islam as a counter example to Christian rationality.

RA: Yeah, that’s the thing. Of course the Pope was advancing an old Papal argument against Islam that goes back to the Crusades, but again what the Pope is talking about is it took Christianity 1600-1700 years to reconcile  reason and faith and so therefore Islam needs to do the same, without recognizing that during those 1700 years in which reason and faith were divorced in Christianity, they were married very well in both Islam and Judaism.

LW: This might be a good time to segway to the Anti-Muslim Catholic polemicist Robert Spencer, one of the premiere Islamophobes today. He is funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which in turn is funded by right-wing foundations, you’ve probably read about this in the Fear Inc. report already. We’ve been tracking him and what he says about you…

RA: Oh yeah he is in love with me.

LW: (laugh)He calls you all sorts of names, calling you a “metrosexual,” “boy Reza Aslan,” “Bright Young Muslim Thing,” “little boy Reza,” “pathetic little Islamic Supremacist Reza,” “pseudo-Moderate,” etc. What is behind all this name calling, he seems to have a crush on you?

RA: I do think he has a crush on me. As a lot of people know, this guy is someone who poses as some sort of pseudo-scholar because he has a one year Masters degree from a school in North Carolina and because of that a lot of people let him get away with the asinine things that he says. I think I was probably the first person to utterly embarrass and shame him on national television and since that time he has taken all the internal feelings of inadequacies that I am sure he has, poured it all out on me and I am perfectly happy with that. The fact of the matter is that if Robert Spencer thinks you are wrong then you got to be right.

I am pleased as punch, every word that Robert Spencer writes about me puts a gigantic smile on my face. You know he used to actually email me his columns as though I actually care, you know, to read the drivel that he writes. We reply to him just making fun of him.

In fact, I’m going to say right now, and you can publish this, I’m kind of in love with Robert Spencer.

(laughs)

There’s something about that giant beer gut and the furry face, there’s this kind of walrus quality to him, that, I don’t know how to say this, that just turns me on, and I think I am pretty sure, that he feels the same about me.

LW: He definitely has a man crush on you.

RA: He definitely has a man crush on me and I guess what I am trying to say is that for the first time I am ready to publicly admit those feelings are reciprocated.

LW: (laughs)This is breaking news.

RA: And I know Robert Spencer reads Loonwatch and I just want him to know: “Robert, I think we may have something here. Robert I think there is a possibility for the two of us to have a future together, this could really be a beautiful love story.” And, if he is willing to finally admit to his true feelings for me, I am in the position now where I can reciprocate those feelings.

LW: Amazing, maybe he will finally admit what he has been feeling all this time.

RA: I think he is ready to admit it. But only if his mom lets him…and by his mom I mean Pamela Geller…

(laughs)

LW: Who in this relationship, between him and Geller, who holds more sway?

RA: Are you kidding me! I’m surprised that in pictures of the two of them that she is not holding a leash.

(laughs)

LW: He is enthralled by her, always defending her loony comments, such as her advocating the nuking of Tehran, Mekka and Medina.

RA: Of course Pamela Geller is known  most for her rationality.

(laughs)

It’s not a surprise to hear those comments. No look…

LW: How does she get away with it?

RA: What do you mean!? This is how the world works, the more insane you are the more attention you get, exhibit A: Herman Cain…this is how it works, but in all honesty I do just want to say I make fun of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer because they are clowns and you are supposed to laugh at clowns.

This idea that these are people who deserve engagement (laughs)…Spencer’s fans email me all the time and say “you’re afraid to debate Robert Spencer.” No, I don’t debate Robert Spencer for the same reason I don’t debate a four year old child because this is not about a conversation. You cannot have a rational conversation with a clown and the fact of the matter is that the reason Robert Spencer is constantly begging people like myself to debate him is because he knows that appearing on the same platform legitimizes his view.

You are not going to have a debate about the African American experience in the United States with the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (laughs), that person does not belong in that debate. To have him there by definition legitimates his position.

So Spencer, Geller, Emerson, these guys belong in the gutter where they are. That’s where they are, that’s where they belong. They get a lot of attention because Fox News keeps inviting them and good for them. Fox News has become the go to Islamophobic network for these kinds of guys, and that’s great, and they are going to keep preaching to the same choir that watches Fox. Good for them but the notion that these guys somehow belong in the mainstream, that they belong  on a dais debating socio-religious matters with an actual scholar is absurd.

LW: As you know we have been trying to debate Spencer, and as you say he tries to get you guys so he can legitimate his views. However, he has been avoiding our entreaties to debate, why do you think that is.

RA: I’ll tell you why because you’ll make fun of him. You know, I call this the Colbert Principle. People always ask me how do I respond to these anti-Muslim clowns like Geller and Spencer and my answer is I don’t respond to them, I make fun of them. It’s the Colbert Principle, if you respond to the inanities that come out of Robert Spencer’s mouth by definition you are saying that it’s worth a response and it’s not, what it is, is worth making fun of, and in this case I would really like to thank Geller and Spencer for being so easy to make fun of. It’s really effortless.

Robert Spencer and Julius Streicher

LW:   Recently we posted a piece comparing quotes Spencer has made about Islam and Muslims to those by a precursor to the Nazi era, Julius Streicher’s quotes about Jews and Judaism. It’s interesting because if you just change “Jew” to “Muslim” or “Judaism” to “Islam” they are identical. Yet Spencer in one of his posting calls you the modern day “Fritz Kuhn,”  the leader of the American Nazi party. Would you consider this unintended projection on his part?

RA: One thing we shouldn’t forget about these guys is that they have been accused by organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish organizations of being anti-Semitic. It’s not only that they hate Muslims, they like to pretend that they are supporters of Israel, etc. but the statements they have made about Jewish politicians, look at what they have said about Elena Kagan.

Alicia Rosenberg, the Atlantic writer who just wrote a piece on All American Muslim was called a dhimmi Jew by Pamela Geller, I mean these guys are anti-Semites. Again that’s not me, that’s the Southern Poverty Law Center calling them anti-Semites, that’s the anti-Defamation League calling them anti-Semites. I think their words speak for themselves.

LW: I don’t want to spend too much time on Spencer but one thing I did want to bring up is Spencer’s frequent attempts to link you to the “Mullahs” of Iran. He casts aspersions on really what seems to be a great organization that you are a board member of named, NIAC, National Iranian American Council.

RA: It’s a council actually that is trying to keep Iran and the United States from engaging in a global war, so of course they are obviously agents of the Iranian Republic. You know, come on, don’t we all know this.

Yes, I am also ready to admit that my parents brought me here at 7 years old as a sleeper agent and I am going to be activated any moment now, my code word is Cello Kabob, if I hear Cello Kabob then I am immediately activated and then my training as an agent for the Islamic Republic kicks in, so be careful.

LW: (laughs) He links to this group called the Pro-democracy Movement of Iran, I don’t know if you have ever heard of this group, PDMI, we went to their website and it’s a ridiculous website. It has articles on there supporting the Mujahideen-e Khalq.

RA: Exactly, which is all you need to  know. These “pro democracy sites” are run by neo-conservatives, by people with a very clear agenda, the same agenda that they had for Iraq, so the very fact that they support a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of a number of American citizens as well as Iranian citizens, Iranian non-combatants. An organization that has repeatedly been cited for torturing its own members, for brainwashing its own members, for taking children and turning them into armed militants, but the idea that these pro-democracy movements in the United States are supporting the MEK is really the only thing you need to know about these organizations.

LW: All of this exposes a deep hypocrisy when they are badgering Muslim organizations on the flimsiest of guilt by association smears. Regularly calling Muslim Advocates, CAIR, ISNA “Hamas-linked,” this is their favorite trope.

RA: But again this is what I’ve been trying to say, this is just an indication of why these groups do not deserve a response because when they say NIAC is a Hezbollah supporting group, you can’t respond to idiocy, you can’t respond to those kinds of moronic statements, because again that sort of bigotry does not reside in the mind, that bigotry resides somewhere more visceral. It’s much more, it’s something that exists in the gut, in the chest and that kind of feeling can not be deflected by logic, by reason. It’s immune to reason.

LW: Staying on the topic of Iran, there has been a lot of discussion about Iran in the media. Of course not too long ago we had the case of the alleged car dealer mastermind terrorist. One day it was news and the next day it wasn’t, you said about it, “It’s sloppy. It’s uncharacteristic,” … “It really does not serve Iran’s interest in any legitimate way.”

Do you think all this activity regarding Iran is just a preliminary way to pave the way for war with Iran, much in the same way as was done with Iraq?

RA: No. We are not going to war with Iran. Nobody is going to war with Iran, neither the United States or Israel. I can tell you for a fact that Israel is not going to war with Iran because Israel keeps talking about it. If anybody who has studied Israeli politics at all can tell you anything is if Israel talks about bombing Iran then that means it has no intentions of doing it. When the Israelis want you dead you just die, OK.

No one sends an invitation first, no one issues a press release and this is exactly what is going on and I love it, it’s like the media is a monkey that sees something shiny in the corner. There was this great piece that I circulated not too long ago in which it was just a collection of headlines from major newspapers and magazines: the Atlantic, Harpers, New York Times, Los Angeles Times.

A collection of headlines describing imminent war, the imminent bombing of Iranian nuclear sites by Israel and or the United States, the collection was from the last fifteen years, so again, all we have to remember is the cover of Atlantic last month, Jeffrey Goldberg’s article that Israel is six months from bombing Iran. This is every few months, people start to raise this specter that Israel is going to bomb Iran. Israel, America these aren’t stupid countries. They know better than you and I the repercussions of such a conflict. I can show you half a dozen quotes from Ehud Barak himself, the defense minister of Israel stating in no uncertain terms the idiocy of such a campaign. So the idea that he has all of a sudden changed his mind and is planning to bomb Iran is ridiculous, I think this is just what Israel does every few months to ratchet up the pressure on the United States to be more aggressive and robust in trying to counter Iran’s nuclear program.

LW: Well  that really puts it in perspective. So you think it is only saber rattling and positioning within the region.

RA: That’s all it is and that’s all it’s ever been for the last 20 years.

LW: Interesting. OK, to pick your theological brain for a second, Joel Rosenberg wrote this article for Fox News about why Iran’s leaders believe the end of days has come, and this is a regular idea thrown out there by Islamophobes; that we have to fear a dangerous off shoot of Shia’ Eschatology. Is there any truth to this idea?

RA: No. It’s as true as George Bush thinking that Jesus made him president so to bring about the Messiah’s return, people were saying that as well. It doesn’t mean that George Bush didn’t believe that Jesus made him president, it’s not that George Bush didn’t believe the Messiah would return some day, but the notion that, that belief predicated his foreign policy is nuts and the same thing with Iran.

Mahdi

It’s just part of this fear-mongering that has been going on for a very long time and again predicated on this idea that Iran is this irrational actor, that if they manage to get a nuclear weapon, the first thing they would do is commit suicide with it. Of course, don’t you know it! That’s all they want, so that all 75 million Iranians could be nuked off the face of the earth as soon as possible.

Again, the stupidity of that statement speaks for itself. Iran is an oppressive, autocratic, blood-thirsty government that tortures and murders its own citizens, that supports terror organizations around the world because it feels as though it benefits from doing so, but it is not stupid. What your readers should understand more than anything else about the Iranian government is that they care more about their own survival than they care about anything else. So again, these kinds of statements are not the kind made by foreign policy experts, these are not statements by experts in the region, these are statements by the amateurs who read an article one day about the fact that the Shia believe in a Messiah and then continued to regurgitate the same nonsense over and over again and in any case it doesn’t matter because these people have no effect whatsoever on what our government does.

It’s not as though the state department is sitting around wondering what Frank Gaffney thinks about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

LW: One of the topics that you hit upon in your work in No God but God and in speeches and lectures is that Islam is in a reformation period. Seeing the events in the Arab Spring, and the changes sweeping the region how do you see that idea of reform playing a part in these protests, if any?

RA: The reformation of Islam is not something that is new or unique, it has been going on for over one hundred years, and again you have to remember reformation is an actual, technical term. It doesn’t mean reform, what it means is the inevitable conflict that arises in all religious institutions over who has the right to define faith, is it the individuals, or is it the institution itself.

That conflict is ever present, it exists in all religious traditions, but in times of societal stress, in times of social ruptures that conflict jumps to the surface as it did with Temple Judaism in first century Palestine that ultimately resulted in the destruction of the Temple and the construction of Rabbinic Judaism. As it did in the fifteenth and sixteenth century in Europe, in which the conflicts over the Pope’s authority to define Christianity ultimately fractured Christianity into competing sects and schisms based on sola scriptura; that individuals should define what scripture means for themselves, not have the Pope tell them what it means, and it’s been going on in Islam since really the end of the 19th century as a result of the colonial experience in the Middle East and the rapid rise of literacy and education.

So this idea that the Islamic reformation being something new or unique is really borne out of a misunderstanding of what that even means, and so the relationship to what is happening with the so called Arab Spring and the phenomenon that I am talking about and writing about is very clear.

These are kids, these are young people who because of their education, because of their literacy, because of their access to new ideas, new sources of information are no longer interested in the answers given to them about religion and society, whether its by religious institutions, the clerics, the Mullahs or even political organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the National Islamic Front.

Nor are they interested in their governmental institutions at all. What you saw on the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria is not an Islamic Awakening by any means, these people are not calling for Islam, on the contrary the traditional Islamic authorities have been totally left behind by these protests, they didn’t have anything to do in starting them, they didn’t have anything do in perpetuating them and they have nothing to do with defining them so this generation of young people is the inevitable result of a century long process whereby individuals in the Muslim world have begun to decide for themselves without the mediation of any institutional authority, whether religious or governmental, what it means to be Muslim in the modern world, what the answers to Islam are as a result of the rapid changes that are taking place in their society.  I’ve been saying it’s going to happen for over a decade and so those people who were saying the Arab Spring came as a surprise or it wasn’t going to happen weren’t paying attention.

LW: You wrote in Tablet and Pen “The United States has displaced the old colonial powers to become, for better or worse, a dominant and unavoidable presence in the lives of the people of the Middle East. The consequences of American involvement in the region will be felt for many years to come.” How do you think America and our government in particular has reacted to this, do they know what they are doing over there?

RA: No, of course not. The American public? Of course not. I think the American public recognizes that we have had a fairly destructive presence and influence in the Middle East and in the pursuit of our national security and economic interests we’ve made a lot of enemies in that region. So i think most young people know that now, it’s kind of part of the national narrative, whether those young people know how embroiled we still are in the region, and how we still are making disastrous choices not just for the peace and stability of the Middle East, but when it comes to our own safety and security I think for the most part young people are more interested in Snookie’s panties than they are in what is going on in Yemen or Syria.

(laughs)

LW: You debated one of the New Atheists, Sam Harris. Is Sam Harris a smart guy? What were your thoughts about him?

RA: There is no doubt Sam Harris is a smart guy, he has a PhD in neuro-science. You can be a smart guy and be ignorant about particular topics and issues. The problem with Sam Harris is that he tends to write about the things he is ignorant about, (laughs) I think Sam Harris should stick to writing about neuro-science, I think his last book was great. When Sam Harris writes about neuro-science, in other words his expertise, I think it’s great, I love reading his work. When he talks about religion, a topic he knows nothing about, that he’s never studied as an academic discipline, that he’s done no field research in whatsoever, and in which he frankly is unqualified to opine about, that’s the problem. I don’t write about nero-Science because I’m not a neuro-scientist.

LW: On a random note you compared Osama Bin Laden to Freddie Mercury, (laughs) can you expand on that?

RA: Yes, I did, the point I was making was that what made Bin Laden attractive to young people was his personal charisma not his intellectualism or writings on Islam. Again Bin Laden was an engineer. He cannot talk intelligently about Islamic Law, or Philosophy and for the most part he doesn’t do that, what he has, and everyone knows this, even his biggest enemies know this about him, he had this intense magnetic appeal, this charisma that drew people to him.

People like Peter Bergen and Fawaz Gerges, who have met Bin Laden, who have spoken to his followers, who have spoken to people who were on their way to commit suicide on his behalf but were caught, what they find is the same thing, that Sheikh Bin Laden is this mystical being. People talk about dreams in which Sheikh Bin Laden comes to them and tells them to pick up a gun and join the fight, it’s that intense mystical quality that has transformed Bin Laden even after his death into a pop culture phenomenon like Freddie Mercury or the other person I compared him to was Che Guevara. Like Freddi Mercury or Che Guevara who have entered the pop culture zeitgeist in a way that goes beyond their particular talents or their particular ideas.

LW: There is a quote In your book No God but God, you wrote that in 2005…

RA: That’s when it was published…

LW: I found this quote in which you write:
“Simply put, Islam in the United States has become otherized. It has become a receptacle into which can be tossed all the angst and apprehension people feel about the faltering economy, about the new and unfamiliar political order, about the shifting cultural, racial, and religious landscapes that have fundamentally altered the world. Across Europe and North America, whatever is fearful, whatever is foreign, whatever is alien and unsafe is being tagged with the label ‘Islam.’”


RA: That is from the new introduction from the updated version that just was released in 2011…

LW: This is of course still the case today. Are you encouraged that Muslims are breaking through this concept of being “otherized” or their religion being “otherized”?

RA: This is not the first time in America’s history that a religious minority has been otherized and told they are the internal enemy, that they are not American. Every single word that is being said about Muslims today by these radical anti-Muslim zealots was said by anti-Semites in the 1920′s and 30′s about Judaism, by anti-Catholic activists in the 19th century by the Know Nothings and preachers like Lyman Beecher. This is not a new thing, this is what we do in this country, we so often define ourselves, what it means to be American which is of course a malleable and slippery identity by defining ourselves in opposition to somebody else whether: Catholics, Jews, Japanese or Germans and now it is just Muslims.

There should be no question in anyones mind, anyone who has bothered to study  for even a few minutes should know that in a generation from now we are going to look on the anti-Muslim zealots of today, these clowns like Pamlea Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney and Steven Emerson with the same exact shame, disdain, mockery and derision that we look back at the anti-Jewish and anti-Catholicism of our past. That’s guaranteed. These guys have always been there, they have always been around, they have always been on the fringes and on the margins and you know in a generation from now when Muslims become as much a part of the American religious fabric, as much as Jews and Catholics have become, I am sure these guys will show up again and start picking on some other religious or cultural minority. This is an issue that they have themselves. They have a psychic problem, bigotry is a psychic problem and it’s part of the human condition, and you know lets not kid ourselves, it’s always going to be around, it’s just that it’s target is going to change.

LW: I think this is good place to wrap up, we have a lot to unpack here. Thank you for your time!

RA: Awesome. Thank you, it’s been my pleasure.

Owner of car dealership labeled “Taliban Toyota” wins millions

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Owner of car dealership labeled “Taliban Toyota” wins millions

(Reuters) – The owner of a large southwest Alabama car dealership derided as “Taliban Toyota” by a competitor has been awarded $7.5 million in damages after a jury trial for his slander claim.

Iranian-born Shawn Esfahani, owner of Eastern Shore Toyota in Daphne, Alabama, sought $28 million in compensatory and punitive damages from Bob Tyler Toyota, claiming employees at that Pensacola, Florida-based dealership falsely portrayed him as an Islamist militant to customers.

“The feeling I received in the courtroom for the truth to come out was worth a lot more than any money anybody can give me,” Esfahani told Reuters on Tuesday.

Esfahani’s lawsuit said that Bob Tyler sales manager Fred Kenner told at least one couple considering buying from Eastern Shore Toyota in 2009 that Esfahani was of Middle Eastern descent and was “helping fund the insurgents there and is also laundering money for them.”

Esfahani, a naturalized U.S. citizen, fled his native Iran in 1980 following the Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah and swept Shi’ite Muslim clergy to power, his lawsuit said. He opened his car dealership in 2007.

The Taliban, by contrast, are hardline Islamists in the central Asian nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan who follow an austere interpretation of Islamic law.

A Bob Tyler salesman was accused of telling the same couple that Esfahani was from Iraq and calling him a “terrorist” who put soldiers including the salesman’s brother in harm’s way.

“(Esfahani) is funneling money back to his family and other terrorists. I have a brother over there and what you’re doing is helping kill my brother,” the salesman told the couple when he called them on the Eastern Shore sales floor, according to the suit.

The jury deliberated for three hours before awarding Esfahani $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages on Monday evening.

Bob Tyler’s attorney Jeffrey Ingram could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, and Tyler and Kenner both declined to comment on the verdict through a dealership spokesman.

Esfahani said the dollar amount awarded by the jury was irrelevant unless the case sets a precedent by which other business owners can seek recourse against tactics he considers “un-American.”

“This case didn’t take aim at just Mr. Tyler,” he said. “It was intended to address any other business that resorts to those kinds of actions to win at their game unfairly.”

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)

Original post: Owner of car dealership labeled “Taliban Toyota” wins millions

Glenn Greenwald: The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

Maybe the best piece Glenn Greenwald has ever written. A complete evisceration of the surreal absurdness that has come to characterize US politics.

The Islamophobes have been going buck-wild over this “Iranian plot,” which is surprising when one considers the fact that Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller both think Obama is a wacky Jihadi Mooslim who is working on behalf of Iran. See our post: Obama is a Mooslim, Jihadist, Pimp, anti-Semite who is aiding the Iranian Nuclear program

The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

(updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV)

The most difficult challenge in writing about the Iranian Terror Plot unveiled yesterday is to take it seriously enough to analyze it. Iranian Muslims in the Quds Force sending marauding bands of Mexican drug cartel assassins onto sacred American soil to commit Terrorism — against Saudi Arabia and possibly Israel — is what Bill Kristol and John Bolton would feverishly dream up while dropping acid and madly cackling at the possibility that they could get someone to believe it. But since the U.S. Government rolled out its Most Serious Officials with Very Serious Faces to make these accusations, many people (therefore) do believe it; after all, U.S. government accusations = Truth. All Serious people know that. And in the ensuing reaction one finds virtually every dynamic typically shaping discussions of Terrorism and U.S. foreign policy.

To begin with, this episode continues the FBI’s record-setting undefeated streak of heroically saving us from the plots they enable. From all appearances, this is, at best, yet another spectacular “plot” hatched by some hapless loser with delusions of grandeur but without any means to put it into action except with the able assistance of the FBI, which yet again provided it through its own (paid, criminal) sources posing as Terrorist enablers. The Terrorist Mastermind at the center of the plot is a failed used car salesman in Texas with a history of pedestrian money problems. Dive under your bed. “For the entire operation, the government’s confidential sources were monitored and guided by federal law enforcement agents,” explained U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and “no explosives were actually ever placed anywhere and no one was actually ever in any danger.’”

But no matter. The U.S. Government and its mindless followers in the pundit and think-tank “expert” class have seized on this ludicrous plot with astonishing speed to all but turn it into a hysterical declaration of war against Evil, Hitlerian Iran. “The US attorney-general Eric Holder said Iran would be ‘held to account’ over what he described as a flagrant abuse of international law,” and “the US says military action remains on the table,” though “it is at present seeking instead to work through diplomatic and financial means to further isolate Iran.” Hillary Clinton thundered that this “crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.” The CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post, David Ignatius, quoted an anonymous White House official as saying the plot “appeared to have been authorized by senior levels of the Quds Force.” Meanwhile, the State Department has issued a Travel Alert which warns American citizens that this plot “may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian Government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States.”

In case that’s not enough to frighten you — and, really, how could it not be? — some Very Serious Experts are very, very afraid and want you to know how Serious this all is. Within moments of Holder’s news conference, National Security Expert Robert Chesney  – without a molecule of critical thought in his brain — announced that this “remarkable development” was “very scary.” Very, very scary. Chesney then printed large blocks of the DOJ’s Press Release to prove it. Self-proclaimed “counter-terrorism expert” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross tapped into his vast expertise to explain: ”Holder weighing in on the plot’s connection to Iran means the administration is deadly serious about it.” Progressive think-tank expert and Atlantic writer Steve Clemons decreed that if the DOJ’s accusations are true, then ”the US has reached a point where it must take action” and “this is time for a significant strategic response to the Iran challenge in the Middle East and globally,” which “could involve military.”

The ironies here are so self-evident it’s hard to work up the energy to point them out. Outside of Pentagon reporters, Washington Post Editorial Page Editors, and Brookings “scholars,” is there a person on the planet anywhere who can listen with a straight face as drone-addicted U.S. Government officials righteously condemn the evil, illegal act of entering another country to commit an assassination? Does anyone, for instance, have any interest in finding out who is responsible for the spate of serial murders aimed at Iran’s nuclear scientists? Wouldn’t people professing to be so outraged by the idea of entering another country to engage in assassination be eager to get to the bottom of that?

Then there’s the War on Terror irony: our Hated Enemy here (Iran) is a country which had absolutely nothing  to do with the 9/11 attack. Meanwhile, our close ally, the victim on whose behalf we are so outraged (Saudi Arabia), is not only one of the most tyrannical and aggressive regimes on the planet, but produced 15 of the 19 hijackers and had extensive and still-unknown involvement in that attack. If the U.S. is so deeply offended by the involvement of a foreign government in an attack on U.S. soil, it would be looking first to its close friend Saudi Arabia, where “elements of the government” were likely involved in an actual plot rather than a joke of a plot.

To make sure you understand just how dastardly and evil the Iranian plotters here are, the DOJ in its complaint highlighted that the used-car-salesman-Terrorist-Mastermind said that he preferred that nobody else be killed when the Saudi Ambassador was assassinated, but if it were absolutely necessary, he could accept some unintended deaths! Here’s how the NYT summarizes that:

The complaint quotes Mr. Arbabsiar as making conflicting statements about the possibility of bystander deaths; at one point he is said to say that killing the ambassador alone would be preferable, but on another occasion he said it would be “no big deal” if many others at the restaurant — possibly including United States senators — died in any bombing.

What kind of monster thinks that way, we are supposed to ponder. Behold the warped mind of the Terrorist! He’s actually willing to accept that others die besides his intended targeted! Is that not the mentality that drives U.S. behavior in multiple countries around the world every day? The U.S. flattened an entire civilian apartment building in Baghdad with a 2,000-pound bomb when it thought Saddam Hussein was there (he wasn’t — oops — but lots of innocent people were). NATO repeatedly bombed structures in Tripoli where it thought (mistakenly) Moammar Gadaffi was located, in the process almost certainly killing large numbers of unintended targets. The U.S. just killed one of its own citizens that it insists (not very credibly) it did not intend to kill in order to eradicate the life of Anwar Awlaki, and killed dozens of innocent people when it previously tried to kill Awlaki with cluster bombs.

The U.S. is the living, breathing symbol of this “collateral damage” rationale. It’s what drives all the multi-nation American wars and occupations and drone campaigns and assassinations that continuously pile up the corpses of innocent people. But we’re all going to gather in righteous disgust at the idea that this monstrous International Terrorist would be willing to incur some unintended civilian deaths in order to assassinate an official of the peaceful, freedom-loving Saudi regime. Really, for brazen irony, how can this be beat?

Tom Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 Commission said the alleged plot “surprises me.” Speaking to CNN’s Erin Burnett, Kean said the plot is “pretty close to an act of war. You don’t go in somebody’s capital to blow somebody up.

Meanwhile, President Obama decried this plot as “a flagrant violation of US and international law.” But maybe some Persian Marty Lederman in Tehran wrote a secret legal memo concluding that this was all in accordance with domestic and international law, which — as we know — is conclusive and provides a full shield of immunity.

So facially absurd are the claims here — why would Iran possibly wake up one day and decide that it wanted to engage in a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil when it could much more easily kill Saudi officials elsewhere? and if Iran and its Quds Force are really behind this inept, hapless, laughable plot, then nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like this does — that there is more skepticism expressed even in establishment media accounts than one normally finds about such things. Even the NYT noted — with great understatement — that the allegations “provoked puzzlement from specialists on Iran, who said it seemed unlikely that the government would back a brazen murder and bombing plan on American soil.” The Post noted that “the very rashness of the alleged assassination plot raised doubts about whether Iran’s normally cautious ruling clerics supported or even know about it.” The Atlantic‘s Max Fisher has more on why this would be so out of character for Iran.

But while some attention has been devoted to asking what motive Iran would have for doing this, little attention has been paid to asking what motive the U.S. would have for exaggerating or concocting the connection of Iran’s government to this plot. Aside from the benefits the FBI and DOJ receive when breaking up a “very scary” plot — the bigger, the better — it has been one of Obama’s highest foreign policy priorities to isolate Iran and sanction it further: as a means of placating Israel and punishing Iran for thwarting America’s natural right to rule that region (so monstrous is Iran that, as the U.S. has repeatedly complained, they actually continue to “interfere” in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan!). As Ignatius explains, the U.S. Government instantly converted this plot into a vehicle for furthering those policy ambitions:

With its alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Iran has handed the United States an opportunity to undermine Tehran at a moment when U.S. officials believe the Iranian regime is especially vulnerable. . . . “We see this as a chance to go out to capitals around the world and talk to allies and partners about what the Iranians tried to do,” the [White House] official said. “We’re not going to tolerate targeting a diplomat in Washington. We’re going to try to use this to isolate them to the maximum extent possible.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden announced today that the U.S. is “working to unite the world” behind a response to Iran’s “outrageous” actions and that ”nothing has been taken off the table.” So Iran’s supposed involvement in this plot is the ideal weapon for the U.S. to advance its long-standing goals with regard to that country. Maybe that warrants some serious skepticism about whether the U.S. Government’s claims are true? But we all know that only Bad Muslim countries exploit foreign policy exaggerations or fabrications for political gain, and not the United States of America (especially not with Barack Obama, rather than a Republican, in the White House).

What’s most significant is that not even 24 hours have elapsed since these allegations were unveiled. No evidence has been presented of Iran’s involvement. And yet there is no shortage of people — especially in the media — breathlessly talking about all of this as though it’s all clearly true. If the Obama administration decided tomorrow that military action against Iran were warranted in response, is there any doubt that large majorities of Americans — and large majorities of Democrats — would support that? As I said when discussing the Awlaki killing, the truly “scary” aspect of all of this is that the U.S. Government need only point and utter the word “Terrorist” and hordes of citizens will rise up and demand not evidence, but blood.

 

UPDATE: Perpetual war-cheerleader Ken Pollack of Brookings says that, if true, this plot “shows that Tehran is meaner and nastier than ever before” and “would represent a major escalation of Iranian terrorist operations against the United States.” Also, he announces, this “should remind us that Iran also is not a normal country by any stretch of the imagination.” That — self-anointed arbiter of who is and is not a “normal country” — from a person as responsible as any pundit or think-tank expert for the attack on Iraq that killed at least 100,000 human beings, denouncing as Terrorists and abnormal a country that has invaded nobody.

 

UPDATE II: On NPR this morning, Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations — and Ken Pollack’s co-author on Iran — said this when asked if he has any doubts about the accuracy of U.S. government statements: “The only unusual aspect of this is actually having a terrorist operation on American territory. I don’t know what the evidence about this is, but I’m not in a position to doubt it.” That perfectly summarizes the political, media and “expert” class’ attitude toward U.S. Government claims: they’re keeping everything secret about their accusations, so there’s no reason to doubt what they’re claiming. The National Security Priesthood that uncritically amplified every U.S. Government claim and fanned the flames of war against Iraq is alive, well, and more mindless and dutiful than ever.

 

UPDATE III: The Christian Science Monitor details the many reasons why “Iran specialists who have followed the Islamic Republic for years say that many details in the alleged plot just don’t add up.”

 

UPDATE IV: On Good Morning America this morning, Joe Biden warned that “the Iranians are going to have to be held accountable” and “nothing has been taken off the table,” and then promised: “And when you see the case presented you will find there is compelling evidence for the assertion being made.” Except — after 24 hours of media hysteria — there’s this Reuters article, which — under the headline “Officials concede gaps in U.S. knowledge of Iran plot” — reports:

Iran’s supreme leader and the shadowy Quds Force covert operations unit were likely aware of an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, but hard evidence of that is scant, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The United States does not have solid information about “exactly how high it goes,” one official said. . . .The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their confidence that at least some Iranian leaders were aware of the alleged plot was based largely on analyses and their understanding of how the Quds Force operates.

I wouldn’t exactly call that — what was the phrase Biden used? — “compelling evidence for the assertions being made.” In fact, it reminds me of the language anonymous government officials began using to describe their “knowledge” of Anwar Awlaki’s alleged operational role in plots against the U.S. once they killed him: “patchy”; “partial”; “suspicion.” But what we learned with Awlaki is likely what we’ll see here: many people reflexively believe government accusations even when unaccompanied by evidence, and that belief is not diluted even when government officials began acknowledging (albeit anonymously) that they do not possess and never did possess any conclusive evidence to support their accusations.

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

Iranian ‘plots’ and American hubris

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

An insightful piece by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverret on the repercussions of the so called “Iranian plot.”

Iranian ‘plots’ and American hubris

Editor’s note: Flynt Leverett teaches international affairs at Penn State and is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Hillary Mann Leverett teaches U.S. foreign policy at American University and is CEO of a political risk consultancy. Together, they write The Race for Iran. They both held senior positions on Middle East policy at the State Department and National Security Council.

(CNN) — Calls by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary Hillary Clinton to “unite the world in the isolation of and dealing with the Iranians,” in response to an alleged Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in Washington, reflect a hubristic misapprehension of reality.

The Obama Administration mistakenly believes it can exploit the accusations for strategic advantage. In fact, they are likely to play to Iran’s advantage, not America’s.

The U.S. foreign policy community profoundly misunderstands the Islamic Republic’s national security strategy. The Islamic Republic seeks to defend itself not primarily by conventional military power, in which it is deficient, but by forging ties to proxy allies around the region-actors with the ability to affect on-the-ground outcomes in key regional settings who are inclined to cooperate with Tehran.

In some cases, these actors are discrete political movements, often with paramilitary capabilities, for example, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shia political parties-cum-militias in Iraq.

In other situations, Tehran sees public opinion as its chief ally. By contrasting some regimes’ cooperation with the United States and Israel with its own posture of “resistance” to American and Israeli ambitions to regional hegemony, Tehran cultivates “soft power” across the Middle East.

Iran conceives its strategy, especially in a period of relative decline in America’s standing, as one that constrains unfriendly regimes in the short term and undermines them in the longer term. Over the last decade, it has helped the Islamic Republic reap significant political and strategic gains in important theaters across the Middle East-Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories.

With the advent of the Arab awakening at the end of last year, Iranian decision-makers are confident that some Arab states’ shift toward governments more reflective of their peoples’ attitudes and concerns-and, hence, more inclined to pursue more independent foreign policies vis-à-vis the United States and Israel-will work to Iran’s advantage.

Iranian policymakers correctly calculated that virtually any successor to Saddam Hussein ‘s regime in Iraq would be a net positive for Iranian interests. Now, they calculate that a successor to the Mubarak regime in Egypt is bound to be less enthusiastic about strategic cooperation with the United States and Israel and more receptive to Iran’s message of resistance.

Iran’s strategy toward Saudi Arabia runs very much along these lines. Tehran’s approach is to highlight Saudi collusion with Washington and (at least indirectly) with Israel on important regional issues, thereby attracting support from ordinary Saudis-not just Saudi Shia but also Sunnis who dislike their government’s pro-American stance.

In the short term, Iran seeks to constrain the Saudi government from cooperating in military strikes or other coercive actions against it by making this an unpopular prospect for much of the Saudi population.

In the longer term, Iran is working to transform the regional balance of power from one in which the United States, the Saudis, and other American allies dominate to one in which American, Israeli, and Saudi influence is marginalized by the diplomatic realignment of Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, post-Saddam Iraq, and now Egypt.

The Saudi leadership tries to push back by portraying Iran as an “alien”, Shia/Persian element in its environment. At times, this helps the Kingdom hold the line against the Islamic Republic’s soft power offensive. But the long-term trend is toward rising Iranian influence. In this context, the notion of an Iranian government plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States simply has no logic.

History also suggests we treat the Obama Administration’s claims of Iranian government complicity with deep skepticism.

For eight years, during 1980-1988, the fledgling Islamic Republic had to defend itself against a war of aggression launched by Saddam Hussein — a war of aggression financed primarily by Saudi Arabia. Nearly 300,000 Iranians were killed in that war. But, during the entire conflict, the Iranian government never targeted a single Saudi anywhere in the world.

This is not because the Islamic Republic loves the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is because Iran’s national security strategy ultimately depends on appealing to the Saudi public not to support attacks against Iran, by harnessing popular anger over Israeli actions and U.S. overreach in the war on terror.

Killing a Saudi Ambassador would have exactly the opposite effect. Whatever Mansour Ababsiar and his cousin may have talked about, it is wholly implausible that the Iranian leadership decided that this was a smart thing to do.

The Obama Administration’s calls for more concerted action against Iran will ultimately backfire-because they will be seen in most of the Muslim world (outside Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab monarchies closely linked to Saudi Arabia) as the United States yet again leveling dubious life-and-death charges as the pretext to contain or even eliminate another Muslim power.

President Obama, his advisers, and all Americans need to ask themselves if this is really the time to bring the United States even closer to another Middle East war fought in blind defiance of the region’s strategic realities.

Joe Kaufman-O-Meter #5: Dodges Question on Whether He Supports Nuking Iran

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch
Joe Kaufman

Just when you thought Joe Kaufman couldn’t make more of a fool of himself he proves you wrong! Previously, Kaufman eulogized a dead terrorist and racist by the name of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and we thought “well he can’t top that!” Then he called for nuking Muslim countries, and we thought “OK, that’s it, no way he can surpass such lunacy.” Then it so happened we learned he’s been paying homeless people to join his pathetic anti-Muslim rallies to bolster their numbers, and we’re like “golly jee, he keeps setting the bar so low.”

Recently, Kaufman was at a rally to express love for anti-Muslim politician Allen West and condemn CAIR South Florida. I kid you not, Kaufman’s exact words at the rally were “I love Allen West.” But that’s not the real ludicrous bit.

The ridiculous portion is Kaufman’s response to a reporter who asked him about his infamous call to “nuke the Mooslims”:

Reporter: “Do you support the nuclear bombing of Iran?”

Joe Kaufman: “No…um, well, I would never say whether I would support that or not.”

Why is this so ridiculous? Well, Kaufman has had 10 years to reflect and ponder on how he would answer this inevitable question, and the above is the best he could do. Rather then coming right out and saying he “wouldn’t,” as most conscientious people would, he hesitated and dodged. By dodging however, he not-so-subtly implied he is open to supporting such horrific action. That’s wily Kaufman for you I guess.

Who is he?:

Joe Kaufman, has been on the Anti-Muslim scene for quite a while now and is dubbed by the far Right-Wing FrontPageMag as, you guessed it…another one of their ”Investigative Journalists.”  That he has been influenced by Meir Kahane and the Kahanist ideology is well documented, as is his love and angst for Kahane.

In the past he has been accused of contributing to the terrorist organization founded by Kahane known as JDL (Jewish Defense League) while others accuse Kaufman of at the very least holding views that parallel JDL positions.

Kaufman’s unsavory associations and views are quite real and they are only dangerous to America if you’re stupid enough to swallow his conspiracy theories but other than that he is simply a half-baked paranoid conspiracy theorist, some what along the lines of the “9/11 Truthers.”

In every nook and cranny there is a “Mooslim”…hiding and ready to get ya…so beware and be afraid. Be veryyyy afraid goes his story.

In this special LoonWatch series we will detail the exploits and punchlines that Krazy Kaufman throws out there and attempts to pass as serious journalism, commentary and investigation.

Anti-Muslims and Politicians Find Common Cause with Iranian Terrorist Organization

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by loonwatch

The surreal world of anti-Muslim Islamophobia knows no bounds. Islamophobes and the political class that panders to them have been caught with their pants down–figuratively for once. Since 9/11, these traffickers in hate have profited from the development of an industry of “terror expert professionals,” consisting of so-called: “ex-terrorists,” “ex-Muslims,” “scholars,” “think tank gurus,” pontificating on the incompatibility of Islam and Democracy, the danger of a growing Muslim populace in the West, the need to be suspicious of Muslims, Muslims’ susceptibility to terrorism, etc.

This narrative belies reality, Muslims who commit terrorism are an extreme minority, in fact what is most glaring in the face of this propaganda is what Charles Kurzman terms, The Missing Martyrs (book review to come soon). For all the hackneyed anti-Muslim diatribe and hypotheses of an omnipresent and ever dangerous “Islamic terrorism,” what is remarkable is the absence of “would-be martyrs,” let alone a threat level that is blown out of all proportion. The Arab Spring has, more than anything else, dealt a stinging, if not lethal blow to the harbingers of doom.

What is most irksome is that the real radicals, the ones who draw us into endless war, increase hostilities amongst communities, and hob nob with anti-freedom organizations are the same individuals projecting their worldview onto Muslims.

Where else (with the exception of perhaps a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel) could we witness a House Homeland Security Sub-committee Hearing being chaired by a Congressman who once was the most outspoken advocate of a terrorist organization. Rep. Peter King’s involvement with the IRA while they were targeting and murdering civilians is well known, and the hypocrisy and double standard of him chairing hearings on “American Muslim radicalization” is painfully evident.

This however is not the only, or even the most glaring example we can turn to of Congressmen or former high ranking government officials supporting or advocating on behalf of a terrorist organization.

Congressmen (including Democrats) and former government officials have met with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that was designated a terrorist group in 1997 when the list was first compiled, and is STILL ON THE LIST–for now.

MEK has a very aggressive and organized lobby effort in Washington D.C. According to one House staffer, the MEK is “the most mobilized grassroots advocacy effort in the country — AIPAC included.” Their mission is to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), push the USA to foment war with Iran, i.e. “regime change,” and have themselves installed into power. Sound familiar?

They attempt to pass themselves off as the sole legitimate opposition to the Iranian regime, going so far as to claim that they are the Green Movement or the government in exile. Now there is a quiet push to have them delisted from the FTO list:

Members of Congress led by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have introduced a resolutioncalling on the Secretary of State and the President to throw the support of the United States behind an exiled Iranian terrorist group seeking to overthrow the Iranian regime and install themselves in power. Calling the exiled organization “Iran’s main opposition,” Filner is urging the State Department to end the blacklisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) — a group listed by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The resolution currently has 83 cosponsors and is gaining significant ground.

Such a move would have disastrous repercussions for the USA, and would inevitably lead to blowback considering what the MEK is about:

[F]or the record, here are the facts about the MEK (you can find this and more at www.mekterror.com):

  • The State Department reports the MEK is a terrorist group that has murdered innocent Americans and maintains “the will and capacity” to commit terrorist attacks within the U.S. and beyond. [1]
  • The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism in 2001, but a 2004 FBI report states “the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [2]
  • RAND and Human Rights Watch have reported that the MEK is a cult that abuses its own members. [3] [4]
  • MEK has no popular support in Iran and has been denounced by the Green Movement, Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition movement.[5]

Iran’s Opposition Green Movement Rejects the MEK

  • The leaders of the Green Movement, Iran’s true popular opposition movement, have denounced the MEK and warned that the Iranian government seeks to discredit Iran’s opposition by associating it with the MEK:
  • “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Greens) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.” – Mehdi Karroubi, Green Movement leader. [6]
  • “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement. This bankrupt political group is now making some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi.” – Zahra Rahnavard, Women’s rights activist and wife of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi[7]

Iraqi National Congress Redux?

  • The MEK claims it is “the main opposition in Iran,” yet similar to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that helped bring the United States into war with Iraq, the MEK is an exiled organization that has no popular support within Iran[8]
  • RAND reports that the MEK are “skilled manipulators of public opinion.” The MEK has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. [9]
  • Members of Congress have been deceived and misinformed into supporting this terrorist  organization:
  • In 2002, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led efforts for the U.S. to support the group, prompting then-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House International Affairs Committee, Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, to send a Dear Colleague warning against supporting the MEK.  They cautioned that many Members had been “embarrassed when confronted with accurate information about the MEK.” [10]
  • In the current Congress, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have each introduced resolutions calling for MEK to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

A Capacity and Will to Commit Terrorist Acts in the U.S. & Beyond

  • The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” [11]
  • The Canadian and Australian governments have also designated the MEK as a terrorist organization. The Canadian government just reaffirmed its designation in December.[12] [13]
  • An EU court removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, but only due to procedural reasons.  According to a spokesperson for the Council of the European Union, the EU court “did not enter into the question of defining or not the PMOI [MEK] as a terrorist organization.” [14]

Saddam Hussein’s Terrorist Militia

  • The MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein, including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food Program, until 2003. [15]
  • The MEK helped execute Saddam’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s permanent leader, instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” [16]

A Cult That Abuses Its Own Members

  • Human Rights Watch reports that MEK commits extensive human rights abuses against its own members at Camp Ashraf, including “torture that in two cases led to death.”[17]
  • RAND report commissioned by DOD found that the MEK is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members. [18]
  • RAND concluded that up to 70% of the MEK members at their Camp Ashraf headquarters were likely recruited through deception and are kept there against their will. [19]
  • The FBI reports that the MEK’s “NLA [National Liberation Army] fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network. […] These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK. ”[20]

A History of Anti-Americanism

  • One of the founding ideologies of the MEK is anti-Americanism—the MEK is responsible for murdering American businessmen, military personnel, and even a senior American diplomat[21]
  • The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, vigorously opposed their eventual release, and chastised the government for not executing the hostages[22]

The MEK was Not “Added” to the FTO List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran

Delisting MEK: Disastrous Repercussions

The MEK is opposed by the Iranian people due to its history of terrorist attacks against civilians in Iran and its close alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

  1. The greatest beneficiaries of delisting MEK would be Ahmadinejad and Iranian hardliners who seek to link the U.S. and the Green Movement to MEK.
  2. U.S. support for MEK would be used as a propaganda tool by hardliners to delegitimize and destroy Iran’s true democracy movement.
  3. American credibility among the Iranian people would be ruined if the U.S. supported this group.

This should all gives us pause. Do the elected and former government officials who support delisting the MEK know the troubling anti-American, terrorist history of the MEK? If they do, then how in good conscious can they actively push to delist them?

The scenario that keeps coming to mind is cover for war or a possible Israeli attack against Iran. A possibility that seems ever more likely as MJ Rosenburg wrote recently:

A longtime CIA officer who spent 21 years in the Middle East is predicting that Israel will bomb Iran in the fall, dragging the United States into another major war and endangering US military and civilian personnel (and other interests) throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Earlier this week, Robert Baer appeared on the provocative KPFK Los Angeles show Background Briefing, hosted by Ian Masters. It was there that he predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to ignite a war with Iran in the very near future.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Robert Spencer’s link to the MEK. Spencer frequently spews insults at Reza Aslan for being a board member of the NIAC. In his “expert” opinion true Iranian Freedom organizations oppose the NIAC, and view them as tools of the Mullahs.

A contemptuous claim if it wasn’t so laughable, considering that the NIAC has frequently spoken out against the Iranian regime and has thrown its weight completely behind the Green Movement.

Spencer comes to this conclusion based on the opinion of his friends in a group called the PDMI or Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran. No one really knows how many people are in the PDMI, all they have is a blogspot website which Spencer links. The website is quite strange, it has an image of former Iranian dictator Reza Shah, and also articles supporting the MEK. Is it another MEK front group? One recent article from July 15 is titled “Iran, Mujahedin-e Khalq, and the US State Department,” by Hamid Yazdanpanah, who writes:

[W]hat has consistently been a go-to practice in appeasing Tehran? The harassment and terrorist listing of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK)…the terrorist designation of the MEK arose purely out of appeasement of the Iranian regime…The terrorist designation of the MEK has not only failed to appease the Iranian regime, it has resulted in severe harm and restriction for an organization devoted to the liberation of the Iranian people. The State Department has a moral and legal obligation to undo this grave error and delist the MEK.

It looks as if on top of all the conspiracies, hatred, and anti-Freedom ideas that Spencer pushes he is also linked to the terrorist MEK. Human Events, another website Spencer writes for contains articles supporting the MEK, such as this one by James Zumwalt. Can we now begin every piece on Spencer with, “The MEK linked Robert Spencer…”?

Sadly, this chimera world in which the Islamophobes and their allies turn everything upside down or sweep it under the rug hoping no one will find the truth is real. We are confronted with an organized mechanism of propaganda seeking to profit from endless war, occupation, hatred, hypocrisy and double standards. We are in an age in which the Supreme Court has upheld a “criminal prohibition on advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization,” and yet our Congressmen, and their lobbyist friends can get away with doing exactly that when it suits their purposes!

*Update: There are more Islamophobes involved in the cynical nexus of bringing legitimacy to the MEK. One such longtime advocate has been neo-Conservative Daniel Pipes, who rather seems like a mild Islamophobe these days. For his support of the MEK see, Daniel Pipes: My Writings on the Mujahedeen-e Khalq. (hat tip: NassirH)

Lesley Hazelton: Soccer v. Headscarf: 0-1

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by loonwatch

A great piece from the Accidental Theologist, Lesley Hazelton.

Soccer v. Headscarf: 0-1

by Lesley Hazelton

More absurdity this week:  FIFA, the international governing body of football, banned the Iranian women’s soccer team from an Olympic qualifying event because the players wear hijab — Islamic headscarves.  The official reason:  safety.  Wearing ahijab while playing “could cause choking injuries.”

Yeah, sure.  As one commenter noted, Google “hijab soccer choking deaths” and the search engine doesn’t exactly hum.

These aren’t just anyhijabs, mind you.  They have to be the coolest ones ever.  They’re like speed-skaters’ hoods, and the players look like white-clad ninjas.   I’ll bet they can move like ninjas too.   Clearly FIFA has no sense of style.

Correction:  FIFA has no sense, period.

The decision to ban the Iranian team was made by FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who’s apparently one of those Berlusconi-type men who’ll tell you how much he loves women, by which he means how much he loves looking at female flesh.  No, I’m not making assumptions.  The arrant hypocrisy of this banis clear when you consider the fact that Blatter proposed in 2004 that women players wear plunging neckines and hot pants on the pitch to boost soccer’s popularity.  Tighter shorts, he said, would create “a more female esthetic.”

I guess it was kind of amazing he didn’t propose wet tee-shirts.

And if you believe that Blatter is for a moment concerned about women being injured, his response to requests by human rights organizations to take a stand against the sex trafficking that accompanies the arrival of the World Cup was this:  ”Prostitution and trafficking of women does not fall within the sphere of responsibility of an international sports federation but in that of the authorities and the lawmakers of any given country.”

No, Blatter’s all about the sport.  He’s presumably salivating for more on-field celebrations like Brandi Chastain‘s famous shirtless moment when the U.S. won the 1999 Women’s World Cup.  And drooling over women’s sportswear catalogs instead of Victoria’s Secret ones.  In which case he’s pathetically misreading that Chastain photo.  This was the victory of hard work and muscle over frills and pretty posturing.  Serena Williams revolutionized women’s tennis in much the same way, making it a power game (in dress as well as style of play — the black catsuit she wore a couple of years back was dynamite).

What Blatter’s really doing is trying to piggyback on the burqa ban in France and theminaret ban in his native Switzerland.  But the good news is that it’s backfiring on him.  Badly.  Already the focus of multiple accusations of corruption in his 12-year tenure as FIFA president, he probably saw this as an easy way to try to redeem himself by jumping on the anti-Muslim bandwagon.  Instead, the storm of criticism might be an indication that Europeans are beginning to realize just how badly they’ve been manipulated by misogynistic xenophobes on such issues as burqa bans.

One further note on that shirtless photo:  Chastain herself was amazed when it ran worldwide .  “I wasn’t trying to make a statement;  I was just carried away, and doing what male players do in the same situation,” she told me when I met her not long after.  “I was really surprised there was so much fuss about it.  I mean, there’s a much better photo of the victory moment, but nobody ran that one.”  Here it is, on the right — the photo they didn’t run, baggy shirt, baggy pants, and all.  Which I guess just means the world is full of Blatters.

—————————

(Thank to Sarah Hashim for alerting me to this story.  I know I was born in England, but soccer’s not my thing.  Tennis, though…)

Greenwald: Primitive Muslims’ unique love of violence

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by loonwatch
Glenn Greenwald

Islamophobes constantly argue that bloodlust is unique to Muslim extremists. However, as Glenn Greenwald points out, there are plenty of blood thirsty American Christians and Jews out there as well. Remember people like Joe Kaufman who were shouting for American nukes to be launched against Iraq and Syria after the 9-11 attacks. This is systematic in the loonosphere.

Salon.com: Primitive Muslims’ unique love of violence by Glenn Greenwald

University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, today, echoing so many by lamenting the compulsive violence of Muslims:

It’s hard to keep track of all the barbaric behavior emanating from that part of the world.

Glenn Reynolds, November 23, 2010, on his prescription for dealing with North Korea:

If they start anything, I say nuke ‘em. And not with just a few bombs. They’ve caused enough trouble — and it would be a useful lesson for Iran, too.

Glenn Reynolds, November 4, 2006, on how to deal with the Muslim world:

It’s also true that if democracy can’t work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a “more rubble, less trouble” approach to other countries in the region that threaten us.

Glenn Reynolds, February 13, 2007, on how to deal with Iran:

We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists . . .

Glenn Reynolds, September 11, 2001, on responding to the 9/11 attacks:

GEORGE BUSH IS NOW THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD:. . . Now, if he wants to nuke Baghdad, there is nobody to say him nay — and damned few who would want to.

Boy, those primitive, dirty, lowly Muslims sure do have a bizarre, unique cultural compulsion toward violence and barbarism, don’t they? Reynolds is highlighted here not because he’s unique but because he’s so drearily common. Behold the spectacle of those who cheered for the attack on Iraq (resulting in the deaths of at least 100,000 innocent people), who casually call for massive first-strike nuclear attacks on other nations (certain to vaporize hundreds of thousands or millions of human), who loyally marched lockstep behind a leader who instituted a worldwide torture and disappearance regime, lamenting how those grimy, backward Muslims over there have a disturbing and incomparable affinity for violence (and for examples of religious-motivated violence among Christians and Jews, see here).

Nuke ‘em. Invade ‘em. Torture ‘em. Occupy ‘em. Murder their scientists and religious leaders.  Put ‘em in cages for life without due process.  Reduce ‘em to rubble. Why? Because Muslims are so prone to violence and barbarism! That’s a fairly succinct summary of America’s political culture for the last decade at least.

Haaretz: Mubarak’s Departure Thwarted Israeli Strike on Iran

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2011 by loonwatch

Netanyahu afraid of an “Islamic Revolution” hopes for a “Turkish” outcome in Egypt. So I guess he will be apologizing for the Mavi Marmara incident sometime soon?

Mubarak’s departure thwarted Israeli strike on Iran

by Aluf Benn (Haaretz)

Most Israelis were either born or immigrated to this country during the period in which Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt. This is the reality they know. And this is the significance of the stability that Mubarak provided them with.

In all the upheavals that took place in the Middle East over the past three decades, the Egyptian regime appeared to be a powerful rock. The leaders of Israel knew that their left flank was secure as they went out to war, built settlements and negotiated peace on the other fronts. The friction in relations between Jerusalem and Cairo, however frustrating it was at times, did not undermine the foundations of the strategic alliance created by the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement.

The resignation of Mubarak following 18 days of protests in Egypt ushers in a new era of uncertainty for the entire region, and for Israel in particular. The long reign of the Egyptian leader was not unusual for the Middle East. Hafez Assad led Syria for 30 years, like Mubarak in Egypt; King Hussein and Yasser Arafat ruled for 40 years. But when they stepped off the stage, their legacy was secure. Hussein and Assad passed the reins on to their sons, and Arafat was replaced by his veteran deputy, Mahmoud Abbas. This is why the changing of the guard in Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian Authority were perceived by Israel as natural, arousing no particular concern. After all, the familiar is not all that frightening.

But this is not the situation in Egypt today. Mubarak was thrown out, before he could prepare one of his close aides or his son to take over as president. The army commanders who took over are trying to calm the Egyptian public and the international community with promises that they have no intentions of setting up a new junta in Cairo, but rather, plan to pass to transfer authority to a civilian government through free elections. But no one, including the generals in the Supreme Council of the Armed forces, knows how and when the regime transition will play out. History teaches us that after revolutions, it takes a number of years of domestic infighting before the new regime stabilizes.

This uncertainty troubles Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His reactions during the first days of the revolution exposed deep anxieties that the peace agreement with Egypt might collapse. He tried to delay Mubarak’s end as long as possible, but to no avail, and on Saturday he praised the Egyptian military’s announcement that all international agreements would be respected, including the peace treaty with Israel.

Netanyahu is afraid of the possibility that Egypt may become an Islamic republic, hostile to Israel – a sort of new Iran but much closer physically. He hopes this doesn’t happen and that Egypt will follow Turkey’s footsteps, preserving formal ties with Israel, embassies, air connections and trade, even as it expresses strong criticism of its treatment the Palestinians.

The best case scenario, in his view, even if it is less likely, is that Egypt will become like Turkey before the era of Erdogan: a pro-American country, controlled by the military.

Netanyahu shared with Mubarak his concerns about the growing strength of Iran. Egypt played a key role in the Sunni, the “moderate,” axis, which lined up alongside Israel and the United States against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

The toppling of the regime in Cairo does not alter this strategic logic. The revolutionaries at Tahrir Square were motivated by Egyptian national pride and not by their adoration of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Whoever succeeds Mubarak will want to follow this line, even bolster Egyptian nationalism, and not transform Egypt into an Iranian satellite. This does not mean that Mubarak’s successor will encourage Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear installations.

On the contrary: they will listen to Arab public opinion, which opposes a preemptive war against Iran. Israel will find it difficult to take action far to the east when it cannot rely on the tacit agreement to its actions on its western border. Without Mubarak there is no Israeli attack on Iran. His replacement will be concerned about the rage of the masses, if they see him as a collaborator in such operation.

Whoever is opposed to a strike, or fear its consequences – even though they appear to be in favor, like Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – now have the ultimate excuse. We wanted to strike Iran, they will write in their memoirs but we could not because of the revolution in Egypt. Like Ehud Olmert says that he nearly made peace, they will say that they nearly made war. In his departure Mubarak prevented a preemptive Israeli war. This appears to have been his last contribution to regional stability.

 

Three questions: Egypt’s transition

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by loonwatch

(AlJazeera English)

Three questions: Egypt’s transition

by Marwan Bishara

As change sweeps Egypt and becomes imminent in Arab political life, Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, evaluates the speed and efficacy of the transition to democracy.

What are the chances that the transition could still go wrong in Egypt?

New decisions of the supreme military council such as dissolving the country’s unrepresentative parliament that came after rigged elections, bodes well for the dismantlement of the old regime and erecting a new one.

However, the military’s insistence to keep the Mubarak appointed Ahmad Shafiq government for the transitional period has raised concern. Likewise, freezing the constitution is a double edge sword.

While it allows for writing a new more democratic constitution, it could also enable the military leaders to act according to its own interest, rather than the interest of the revolution.

It also begs the question, why hasn’t the military command cancelled the emergency laws nor freed those arrested during the last three weeks, not to mention the political prisoners.

All of which underlines the importance of continued pressure on the military until the regime is completely dismantled and its calls for a new temporary government to oversee the transition to democratic elections are heeded.

Today, public pressure is crucial to maintain the momentum towards positive change. While working with the military is indispensable for peaceful change, progress can’t be held hostage to its prerogatives.

Those with leverage over the Egyptian military, such as the Obama administration, need to keep the pressure on the generals to act as the true guardians of the revolution and its transition to republican democracy.

Otherwise, matters could get out of hand once again if the military falls back to old way of doing business, as pressure builds up against the spirit and of the revolution and its potential to spread throughout the region as a whole. After all many are bound to lose because of the historic changes taking place in Egypt.

Who are the potential losers from the Egyptian revolution?

In the short term, the foremost  loser are the region’s  autocrats who most likely will face serious pressure as the spirit of peoples’ power spread around the Arab and even Muslim world. So will al-Qaeda and its ilk that preferred violence to peoples’ power.

In the long run, the three theocracies, or theocracy-based regimes – Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran – could see their religious-based legitimacies falter in favour of civic and democratic legitimacy as more people rise and claim their governments as citizens and people not subjects and sects.

A united, democratic and strong Egypt can regain its long lost regional influence as an Arab leader. It will eclipse Saudi Arabia, put the belligerent Israeli occupation on notice, and curtail the Iranian Ayatollahs’ ambition for regional influence.

In reality none of these regimes would like to see the Egyptian revolution succeed, regardless of what they might say publicly. And if they can help reverse it or contain it, they will without any hesitation. Fortunately however, their conflicting agendas, animosity and differences will prevent these autocrats and theocrats from jointly conspiring against the young revolution.

How will the revolution attain its goals?

If the foremost winners from the revolution, peoples’ power and democracy, are to succeed, the revolutionaries must stay steadfast and continue to apply pressure for change.

Future praise of the military should be conditional on its performance.

The revolution has accomplished so much, but serious challenges lie ahead. It’s no picnic reversing decades of stagnation, corruption and nepotism.

They need to convince the military that they seek not merely cosmetic reform that encourages passivity and defuse the revolutionary spirit for change, nor mere change of faces and titles. Rather, they seek to wipe the table clean of the old ways and means.

It’s this only their revolutionary spirit and yearning for radical change that will insure their achievements are not lost or compromised. In the words of one American republican: Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Egyptian revolutionaries have at last changed their and the Arab long held Arab motto “In-shallah” or “God willing” that presumes lack of action and indecision. Today’s spirit is in the realm of Ma-shallah, or “God wills it”, and it’s up to the people to make it happen.

As the Egyptian military command tries to bring back “normalcy” – which invokes stagnation in the minds of many – Egyptians are seeking extraordinary.

 

Haroon Moghul on Why the Egyptian Revolution is not Islamist

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2011 by loonwatch

Via the Huffington Post, an insightful and nuanced analyses from Haroon Moghul. Hopefully people will start to listen.

4 Reasons Why Egypt’s Revolution Is Not Islamic

The following is reprinted with permission from Religion Dispatches. You can sign up for their free daily newsletterhere.

Just as in the case of Tunisia, we’ve been caught off guard by the rapid pace of events in Egypt. Commentators are having a difficult time understanding the dynamics of the Arab world and especially the role of religion in this latest apparent revolution. Many wonder why this isn’t an Islamic Revolution, and are audibly breathing a sigh of relief that it isn’t — assuming that somehow Egypt would follow Iran’s rather unique trajectory in 1979 and thereafter.

So why isn’t Egypt’s revolution an Islamic one? And what sets Tunisia and Egypt apart from Iran? Due to the quickly shifting nature of events, I’ve recorded four reasons why Egypt’s uprising isn’t an explicitly Islamic one.

1) The political Islamism that ended up triumphing in Iran was a much more authoritarian interpretation of Islam. It specifically embraced political power and preached a narrative of resistance, though its victory in Iran paradoxically ended any chance of victory elsewhere. That’s because when elites and other, non-religious ideological forces in neighboring Muslim countries saw the purges of prior elites taking place in Iran, they immediately became skeptical of working alongside Islamists in their own country.

Islamic challenges to regimes in Tajikistan, Algeria and Tunisia, among others, were violently supressed even though they pursued their goals democratically. Most Islamists learned from this brutal experience and grew from it; Egypt’s most powerful Muslim group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was one such group. It’s probably safe to say that Iran was the only victory for this style of Islamism, and now, some 30-plus years later, its moment has largely passed. The geopolitical, economic and social reasons for its emergence have disappeared.

2) Iran’s Islamist opposition to the Shah was shaped by the peculiarities of Shi’a Islam and Iranian history. Shi’as have a more organized and powerful clergy than Sunnis, and Iran’s clergy, unlike Egypt’s, were much more independent of the state. In Egypt today, among the main trends in Islamic practice are a quietist Salafism, which seeks a rigorous but non-political personal morality, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

And while the Brotherhood is an incredibly large and powerful organization, it is today a product of years of suppression, torture, and intimidation. While it seeks to change society, it does not pursue an explicitly political agenda. Rather, it believes that an ideal politics will be achieved once society is Islamized — in other words, enough introduction of Muslim values into popular culture, and society will simply reform itself — and that includes the state. So while they have political ideals, they certainly don’t have an explicit political program.

That said, it’s no surprise that the Brotherhood weren’t out ahead in the recent protests: They’ve largely eschewed street politics (it ends with their members electrocuted in jails). It’s also worth considering, although this is still conjectural, whether the Brotherhood declined to play a more public role even after they caught up to events on the street precisely because they know a more prominent role for themselves could draw negative attention. I’m sure the Brotherhood knows that Mubarak would love to have Islamists to blame for the uprising. It would make our government support for his crackdown that much easier to obtain.

3) People who study Iran know how vexed the relationship is, and has been, between Persian cultural identity and Islam. While many Iranians before the revolution were religious in a non-political way, the country’s elite tended to see Islam and Persianness as mutually incompatible. On the other hand, Egypt is a proudly Arab society (hint: the Arab Republic of Egypt) which has never seen Islam as incompatible with their specific ethnic and national project.

Arabness and Islam are hard to pull apart, such that the late Michel Aflaq, the founder of the Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party — he was a Christian — praised Islam as an achievement of the Arab cultural genius. (Many Muslims wouldn’t take too kindly to such a reading, but there you have it.) That difference in dynamics between Egypt and Iran needs to be stressed.

While Iran’s Shah campaigned against Islam and sought to erase its role in Persian history and culture, Mubarak never attacked Islam with anywhere near the same vehemence. He’s far more concerned with preserving power for himself than he is with rewriting Egyptian history (unfortunately for his prospects of remaining in power, he’s concerned with himself–and not even for Egypt’s advancement, unlike other Third World dictatorships, which do emphasize and achieve real economic growth). And this brings us to the most important point…

4) Egypt’s revolution doesn’t have to be Islamic because Islam isn’t at the heart of the problem on the ground. In fact, the non-political Egyptian Islam of the last few decades has succeeded in deeply Islamizing Egyptian culture, making Muslim piety interwoven with the everyday rhythms of Egyptian life. We saw this in the protests after the Friday prayers today, in the spontaneous congregational prayers that took place in the heat of demonstrations–and we can see it in the number of Egyptian women who veil (though many don’t and still strongly identify with Islam, whether culturally or religiously, personally or publicly).

Egypt’s society is a deeply Muslim one, and the very success of this non-political religious project has negated the need for a confrontational Islam. Egyptians know their religious identity is not under threat. ElBaradei, for example, joined in Friday prayers today before going out into the streets. Whether Egyptians identify with political Islam or secular democracy, their Arabness and Islam tend to be mutually supportive, and certainly not incompatible.

Where there is a danger is that if the United States does not come out explicitly in favor of the people, subsequent events will become more confrontational, and may even see the introduction of a more cultural and civilizational rhetoric. The Shah monopolized power and sought to erase a culture. Mubarak, for all his brutality, has had no such grandiose presumption.

As an aside, I might also add that Muslim societies often have flourishing religious institutions and practices, organic and varied. But in the case of Iran, the regime paradoxically undermined that popular and organic religiosity when they sought to enforce faith through the state. This is an argument for keeping religion and politics separate in the Muslim world: in the interest of defending both from the negative effects of the other. Egypt’s “secular” dictator, who didn’t meddle too far into his people’s religious life — he was no Shah, and no Ben Ali — hasn’t created a sharp cultural divide in his country (the economic one is something else altogether). So why would Egyptians need, want, or stress, an Islamic Revolution?

 

Iranium: Clarion Fund’s Third Crusade

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2010 by loonwatch

Third time’s the charm, so they say. Following the last two transparent failures to influence American politics with Islamophobia, the Clarion Fund (Aish HaTorah) is literally counting the seconds down until their “nationwide event” to reveal their newest scare-mongering dud: Iranium.

We have reported on Clarion’s last two anti-Muslim films: Obsession (see: Obsessionforhate) and Third Jihad. Those films featured a number of Islamophobic “experts” we have exposed on this site (i.e. Daniel Pipes, Brigitte Gabriel, Walid Shoebat, Steven Emerson) who specialize in making lucrative careers off Islamophobic fear. Those two films were disturbingly similar to other sophisticated propaganda films that demonize entire populations. Jack Shaheen, an Oxford University research scholar and author of four books on racism, stereotyping and propaganda, describes the film Obsession as “very convincing.” He says:

“Goebbels would be proud. This film has a place in cinema history with the racist film Birth of a Nation and the Nazi film Triumph of the Will because it so cleverly advances lies to vilify a people.”

Those are the old films. But with this new film will Clarion reform its alarmist ways and instead present us with an insightful, balanced, and objective analysis of the situation in Iran? A quick look at some of the film’s interviewees tell us, no.

Iranium, like its predecessors, seems to rely on a highly edited mix of expert and pseudo-expert commentary. Among the most glaring pseudo-experts is Frank Gaffney; noted on this site for his adherence to the “stealth jihad” conspiracy. Gaffney is founder of the Center for Security Policywhere he lobbies for hardline neoconservative security policies. Gaffney is a prolific writer on the Washington Times’ anti-Muslim editorial page where he has seriously argued that President Obama is a secret Muslim, lambasted Obama for daring to reach out to the Muslim World, and accused Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan of facilitating a Sharia take-over… twice.

Due to his obvious conflict of interest, Gaffney’s presence as a film expert raises serious doubts about the credibility of the film. Since Gaffney is a neoconservative lobbyist, he writes security “analysis” that favors neoconservative policy prescriptions. In other words, it is not in his policyinterest to provide us with an objective analysis. Hence, he has been duly noted for the idiocy of his hyper-inflated anti-Sharia report.

If all of Clarion’s films have relied on pseudo-expert testimony that supports a pre-defined policy prescription, then why should we take seriously their hyping the Iranian threat? Is the purpose to inform the public or to influence them to vote a certain way? Iranium appears to be just another expensive attempt to influence American politics by scapegoating the Islamic/Iranian boogeyman.

People who are inspired by the Clarion Fund should flip the scenario around. Would it be acceptable for me to create a serious documentary entitled Israelanium featuring Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu? Would it be right if my film deliberately blurred the line between extremism and Judaism? Somehow I think charges of anti-Semitism would immediately ensue, but this same crowd of people has no problem using the same cut, paste, and smear tactics against Muslims.

Don’t get me wrong. The Iranian government should be subject to all the international laws and standards that all nations are held to. There are important concerns about which people need to get good, balanced information. So for this reason the film Iranium promises to harm our national debate even more by injecting inflammatory, one-sided propaganda into the discourse at a time when people need clear-headed assessment.

So while Clarion prepares for another Muslim-fearing mulligan, let’s hope that this film follows its cousins as another embarrassingly epic failure. Perhaps our efforts to restore sanity will overcome their march to keep fear alive.