Payvand, a Silicon Valley Persian community web site, has published a summary of "Answering the Charges Against Iran: Dispelling the Demonising Myths" report by U.K.'s Campaign Iran. You will need to scroll down through Payvand's introduction to see the list of charges and the summary debunks.

Another article on a roughly similar topic has been written by Edward Herman and David Peterson for Z Magazine. The latter article contains some misunderstandings regarding the social make-up of Iran although it does expose some of the other demonizing myths propagated by the mainstream mass media. In their article, Herman and Peterson have included a scholarly exposé, complete with references, of the realities hiding behind the rhetoric against Iran including those of the Democratic party leaders.

Less tersely, you can partake of a youthful skier's visit to Iran on YouTube. (It was the first video listed under Iran on YouTube.) You need to be patient through the introduction but I think recreational skier Jasin Nazim has done a much better job of reporting than many other professional journalists who have visited the country. I certainly learned quite a lot from the video. It motivates me to ski the same mountains!



I am reminded of an ethics question posed in challenging times:

Which side were you on when it mattered?

It is easy to say "There is absolutely no proof that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme." But lack of proof does not mean something has not happened. Lack of proof does not mean something has not or is not occurring. Similarly, being reasonably suspicious of something based on circumstantial evidence is not wrong, evil, or sinful. It is pragmatic.

This report loses credibility by cherry-picking one statement by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which it claims is mistranslated. The inference is this "proves" benign intentions. No mention is made of dozens of other statements by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some would call such reporting, "lying by omission". Also, no evidence is given to suggest Ahmadinejad's intentions are benign.

Indeed, Ahmadinejad is losing political support at home. Given the recent Iranian elections, the authors have painted themselves into a corner. If, at some point, a more reasonable man replaces Ahmadinejad, and changes Iran's foreign policy, what would the response of the report's authors be?

Likewise, if we wake up someday soon to the news of a Iranian nuclear weapon test (like we did not so long ago in North Korea), then what will the opinion of the report's authors?

Worst of all, if we awaken to the news Tel Aviv has been destroyed in a nuclear attack, what then might the report's authors say?

I'm sure they would condemn such an act.

But I know what I would ask them:

Which side were you on when it mattered?

Posted by guest on January 28, 2007 at 12:10 PM PST #

The logical problems (not to mention the even greater moral problems) with the "Which side were you on when it mattered?" argument has already been elucidated by the late English moral philosopher and Berkeley and Cambridge professor Bernard Williams in his Moral Luck. The problem with the argument grows as the assumed omniscience and the flaws in its formulation go into serious question. In the case of Iran, the assumed omniscience equates evil with Iran--a claim in contrast to which plenty of facts exist. The report mentioned above summarizes those facts.

To put it in simpler terms, the arugment "Which side were you on when it mattered?" assumes that you have certainty of the facts, know what the sides are and whose side you are on, what really matters and how the future will unfold. To know all this, even if we exclude and seek to gain insurance against what we cannot tell will occur in the future, will prove quite a feat. Since, in the case of Iran, this type of knowledge is not only hard to come by but nonexistent, it becomes absolutely necessary to lie and to demonize Iran by all means available. Unless you can effectively demonize Iran and its political system to the point of singular evil, you cannot argue about sides, what matters and what the future will hold.

To follow the other thread pursued by the comment above, I would say there is no "lying by omission." That would be too simple and frankly quite stupid unless one owns large masses of mass media channels to the extent that one's lies can effectively overwhelm, albeit momentarily, all the facts that exist and can be found by patient investigation.

I would say that despite my close following of the news, I am not aware of any other relevant public statements by Ahmadinejad than the ones discussed by the two reports mentioned above. The fact remains he has never used the concept of "wiping off the map." (In contrast, I can also testify that I have read it said by the Iranian defense minister and other officials that Iran will severely punish any aggressor or group of aggressors who attack her soil and that Iran has no need for nuclear weapons to defend herself.) I can make these claims with some certainty because, in cotrast to the vast majority of English speakers, I can actually read and listen to all the reports and speeches in the original Persian. (Of course, Iranian papers and news agencies have regular editions of their news in English or other languages. See, for example, IRNA and IRIBNews. However, while with patient investigation the English speaker can readily learn various sides of the stories as they unfold, doubts regarding translations may still remain. Well, I have little such doubts because I speak, read and write both languages relatively well.

In the meantime, I point the reader to the following: Arash Norouzi, an artist and director of the Mossadegh Project, has already provided an analysis, verbatim translation and various interpretations of Ahmadinejad's statement. Similar analysis has been published by The Guardian.

In conclusion, given the facts we have settled and given other facts which are available on own mass media, e.g. given the fact that it is only Israel and the U.S. which have openly and wantonly threatened to launch "pre-emptive" strikes against Iran, and since it is only Israel and the U.S. that currently possess and have threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iran (although Israel has later denied having made such threats), one would have to ask the same question back: Given these facts, "Which side were you on when it mattered"? On the side of lies, injustice, war and occupation or on the side of truth, justice, peace, security and commerce?

Posted by M. Mortazavi on January 28, 2007 at 03:47 PM PST #

Take for example, the column by Mark Weisbrot and Robert Naiman, who note that

Negotiations could create the wrong dynamic for the Bush team. When the last round of negotiations were taking place between European countries and Iran over Iran's nuclear program, it became clear that Germany was willing to consider compromises that would allow Iran to enrich uranium under strict UN inspections. The Bush team did not want to allow this, even to allow discussion of it, since the real position of the Bush Administration is that Iran cannot enrich uranium on its own soil ever under its current government under any circumstances, even though Iran is guaranteed this right by international treaty. These kinds of divisions, and the attention (however limited) they get in the media, educate the public and show that the Bush Administration is not seeking a negotiated solution, but trying to avoid one.

Posted by guest on January 30, 2007 at 08:17 AM PST #

Weisbrot and Naiman article can be found here

Posted by guest on January 30, 2007 at 08:19 AM PST #

Or consider what a former Israeli prime minister (currently, deputy prime minister) has said at the recent World Economic Forum, as published in a Guardian report:

Speaking in Davos the deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, demanded immediate regime change or failing that, military intervention.

If this is not an open threat of aggression announced with no reservations on a premier world stage, what is?

In contrast, read what Khatami, Iran's former president has said in the same forum.

There is a “tall wall of distrust between Iran and the United States,” former president Mohammad Khatami said on Saturday.

“A relation requires mutual understanding; it is not possible for Iran to show flexibility when the other side’s policy is to change Iran’s regime which is the most democratic system in the region,” Khatami said at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2007.

It is not possible to build trust and provoke the Arabs against Iran at the same time, he added.

He asked why the major powers do not support the Middle East to establish a union when the entire world is moving toward setting up more unions.

Posted by guest on January 30, 2007 at 08:32 AM PST #

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