Hard Rain Journal 8-31-06: Who Will You Believe About the Coming Confrontation with Iran?
By Richard Power
The Iranian regime should be confronted by the great nations about its nuclear program and its human rights abuses.
Tragically, the Bush-Cheney regime does not have the credibility or the moral authority to lead the great nations in such a confrontation.
Whatever Bush-Cheney does will only make a bad situation much worse -- just as in Afgahnistan, Iraq, and North Korea.
Who should be believed about the coming crisis with Iran? Those who insisted that Iraq must be invaded and occupied? Or those who warned that it would result in a debacle? Those who boasted with great certitude that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that they knew were they were? Or those who said that there probably were none?
Unfortunately, those who should be believed will not be listened to by the US mainstream news media.
What will the leadership of the Democratic Party do when the drum-beat of war begins reverberating in the echo chamber of cable and network TV and radio, and the cacophony drowns out the voices of reason and conscience?
Will they succumb once again to political expediency and moral cowardice as most of them did in the ramp up to the invasion of Iraq? Or will they make a stand for sanity, self-discipline and real security?
The domestic threat from the Bush-Cheney regime, with its foolish military adventurism and homeland security boondoggles, constitutes a more urgent threat to the security of the US than Iran, which is still 5 to 10 years away from developing nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, to be effective again as a global peacemaker and as a peace enforcer, the US must its own clean house in accord with the demands and proscribed remedies enshrined in the US Constitution.
Who will you listen to?
Will you listen to Khatami, the reformer who the US could have and should have been talking to over the last crucial years?
Khatami's upcoming visit to the US, sponsored largely by the Episcopal Church and the Carter Center, is being condemned by the Neo-Con propapundigandists nervous that Khatami's message might resonate with an already suspicious US electorate:
Ledeen, who has long argued that all al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamist terrorist groups are actually controlled by the "terror-masters" in Tehran, called the visa approval "blatant appeasement", while James Phillips, a Middle East analyst at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, called it "a major error... at a time when Iran is defiantly thumbing its nose at the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council regarding its nuclear weapons programme." (Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, 8-30-06)
Will you listen to Akbar Ganji, an investigative journalist and dissident who was jailed and tortured by the Iranian regime?
Ganji is speaking out against US military action: "I don't think this can help in any way our democratic movement. Our first demand and our first concern is to make sure that there is not going be a military invasion against our country. We do not want war. I say these things, and I appreciate your making it available and broadcasting it. They hear what I say, and if they are really interested in peace, they will not invade." (Democracy Now! 8-30-06)
Here are excerpts with links to the article on Khatami and Amy Goodman's interview with Ganji:
Next week's visit to the United States of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has been strongly denounced by hard-line neo-conservatives and other hawks here as "appeasement". According to a consensus among nearly a dozen participants in a "Symposium" Wednesday on the website of the right-wing National Review Online, Khatami's presence here could make it more difficult to rally U.S. public opinion against the Islamic Republic and discourage democratic forces back in Tehran. "Giving Khatami prestigious platforms all over America is a dumb move, and it will enormously discourage the Iranian people," according to Michael Ledeen, an influential neo-conservative based at the American Enterprise Institute. What's more, he added, "for those who believe (U.S. President George W.) Bush is serious about regime change (in Iran), this is a numbing blow... Alas, this confirms my worst fears about this administration. Talk, talk, talk, but when it is time to act, they are still talking." Identified with the reformist wing of Iran's clerical establishment, Khatami, who served as president from 1997 to 2005, reportedly plans to spend as much as two weeks here under the sponsorship of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Atlanta-based Carter Centre whose founder, former President Jimmy Carter, has expressed interest in meeting with him. Khatami's trip, which kicks off Sep. 5-6 at a U.N. conference on the dialogue of civilisations in New York, will also include appearances at the National Cathedral here next Thursday, speeches to an Islamic group in Chicago, and university audiences in Virginia and elsewhere....Ledeen, who has long argued that all al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamist terrorist groups are actually controlled by the "terror-masters" in Tehran, called the visa approval "blatant appeasement", while James Phillips, a Middle East analyst at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, called it "a major error... at a time when Iran is defiantly thumbing its nose at the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council regarding its nuclear weapons programme." Jim Lobe, Neo-Cons Denounce Khatami Visit as "Appeasement," Inter Press Service, 8-30-06
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we turn to an Iranian dissident who refused Bush's invitation to the White House. Akbar Ganji is a renowned Iranian activist and investigative journalist, recently visited Democracy Now!’s Firehouse studio in the midst of this month-long world tour to raise awareness about human rights violations in Iran. His visit came just months following his release from an Iranian jail where he was imprisoned for nearly six years, imprisoned and tortured.
Akbar also used his time in the U.S. to speak out against human rights abuses in Iran. He took part in a three-day hunger strike outside of the UN, aimed at forcing the Iranian government to release political prisoners. But he also carried a message for the Bush administration. Yes, he declined that personal invitation to the White House to meet with top U.S. officials overseeing Iran policy.
AKBAR GANJI: [translated] As I mentioned before, Amy, I don't think this can help in any way our democratic movement. Our first demand and our first concern is to make sure that there is not going be a military invasion against our country. We do not want war. I say these things, and I appreciate your making it available and broadcasting it. They hear what I say, and if they are really interested in peace, they will not invade. Always in a negotiation, there's a give and take. And I have nothing to offer to the President. I’m an intellectual. What can I offer him? If there are negotiations, it must take place between the government of Iran and the government of the United States, and it must be a transparent negotiation.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned if Iran develops nuclear weapons?
AKBAR GANJI: [translated] More than that, I’m concerned about the possibility of a disaster like what happened in Chernobyl. What Iran has acquired has been through black market. And we don't know anything about the security and the safety of this project. Should there be an explosion, should there be a catastrophe, the environment, the ecosystem and the people will be destroyed. It's not the West that is confronted with the possibility of a nuclear Iran, an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon, but it's the people of Iran faced with a potential disaster like a Chernobyl. And also I should say that the policies of the West, in this regard, are fundamentally -- it’s fundamentally a dual standard. They disregard the atomic weapons, atomic bombs, available to Israel, Pakistan and India, but Iran is said not to have the right to enrich uranium. Of course, I find the policies of the Islamic Republic fundamentally unwise. We should strive to disarm internationally, for an international disarmament. We have to fight the militarization of the world....
AMY GOODMAN: You were arrested in Iran. You had exposed during the Khamenei regime the killings of many dissidents. You were held for six years. Were you tortured in prison, just recently released?
AKBAR GANJI: [translated] I was gravely mistreated. But it's not only me. It's a matter of dozens, scores of prisoners who are treated in the worst conceivable way. I have always tried to be their voice. I was lucky enough to be well known in the world. However, there are numerous people in prison in Iran, but their names are unknown, even to the people in Iran, within Iran. They are kept in solitary confinement on no grounds. No access to books, newspapers or telephone. No attorney present, no legal representation. And they are deprived of meeting with their families. And they are under pressure to confess to charges of espionage. They bring them in front of camera in the same way Stalin used to do and make them confess. And they will convict them to prison, sentence them, give them sentences based on those television shows. We object to this process.
AMY GOODMAN: Do they broadcast these so-called confessions on television in Iran?
AKBAR GANJI: [translated] Yes, they do. Yes, they beat them up in prison and then bring them in front of camera, and tey confess to crimes they have never committed.
AMY GOODMAN: Akbar Ganji, were you beaten up?
AKBAR GANJI: [translated] I had similar problems.
AMY GOODMAN: Did they broadcast your so-called confession?
AKBAR GANJI: [translated] I never went to any show. I never withdrew my position, from what I put forward. My positions that I advocated from prison were far more radical from what I had said before going to prison. The harsher they treated me, I became more radicalized. But I have no personal problems with anyone, and I have no personal complaints. Our problem is democracy. Our concern is democracy, human rights and freedom in the country. Amy Interviews Leading Iranian Dissident and Former Political Prisoner Akbar Ganji, "We Don't Want War," Democracy Now!, 8-30-06
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Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bush, Khatami, Amy Goodman, Akbar Ganji, Iran, Cheney