Archive for the ‘iran’ tag
Andrew Sullivan wrote a blog post recently outlining what he feels is the “moral case” for Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney based on Obama’s stance on health care, and Romney’s apparent position on torture and what he may do (We don’t really know) regarding the potential for a nuclear Iran. Based on these issues, as well as the GOP‘s “institutional bigotry” toward the LGBT community, Sullivan, a well-known conservative on most issues, announced that he was withholding his support for Romney. Much of his argument in the post hinges around health care. He concludes:
On the universality of access to healthcare, on torture, and on pre-emptive war, my conscience therefore requires me to withhold support for the Republican candidate. I disagree with him on many prudential policy grounds – but none reach the level of moral seriousness of the above. Yes, a lot of this comes from my faith in the teachings of Jesus and the social teaching of the Catholic tradition in its primary concern for the poor and weak and the sick – rather than praising, as Romney and Ryan do, the superior morality of the prosperous and strong and healthy. But on all three topics, a purely secular argument also applies, simply based on the core dignity and equality of the human person, and the fragile advances we have made as a civilization against barbarism like torture.
That matters. It matters in a way that nothing else does.
I was particularly struck by the lines I have italicized above. First, the argument that Christianity is a religion for the “poor,” “weak” and “sick” is bullocks. No one denies that the church, for all of the spiritual and physical harm it has caused humanity in 2,000 years, has contributed its fair share of charities and needy causes. But the central doctrine, that we have a loving father in heaven who will nonetheless exercise his absolute power and sit as a judge on the entire world does not exactly denote a meek and mild deity. Nor will this god exercise his absolute power to heal anyone’s sickness, hunger or poverty. The problem with the entire GOP program is that it assumes that people generally want to be and should be left to their own devices and that God and/or or the church or other nonprofit organizations will come along and meet the needs of local communities. Many churches do help, but they help in spite of their god’s utter silence and impotence: the god that wasn’t there and never will be.
In the above passage, Sullivan appeals to his church’s and his god’s apparently benevolent view of humanity to inform his political stance during this election. I don’t see it that way, but he nonetheless goes on to say that the same position could be held based on a “purely secular argument.” So, I must ask: if a person can arrive at the same conclusion, that the principles for which Obama stands are basically moral independent of religion, what’s stopping him from abandoning religion and embracing those principles, as he says, “based on the core dignity and equality of the human person?” Why drag dogma and doctrine into the equation when he admits that in theory, one could just as well arrive at the same conclusion without assuming at god at all? Sullivan is a sharp guy. I fail to understand how a person of his intelligence and insight finds the need (Perhaps it’s more like a desperate desire) to cling to religion like he does.
I don’t write many film reviews on this site because most have limited or no real-world relevance. Some of my favorite movies, like “Agora” and “Doubt,” tend to be those that have something to say beyond the rudimentary goal of presenting an entertaining plot and compelling acting.
The 2005 film, “Syriana,” seems to have so much to say that it becomes a bit difficult to digest it all on a first viewing. The movie is a geopolitical drama that explores, through numerous subplots, the economic and political implications behind the global dependence on oil in the Middle East and the often devious risks that oil companies and governments take in securing a share of oil resources in Asia and the Middle East.
The plot generally centers around two characters, veteran CIA officer, Bob Barnes (George Clooney), and energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), whose paths largely take different routes through much of the movie until the final scene.
Barnes, who is known for his operations in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War in the mid-1980s, is in Tehran, Iran, at the beginning of the film attempting to thwart illegal arms trafficking by killing a pair of arms dealers. While there, he witnesses piece of weaponry being diverted to an Egyptian source. After a brief stint back in Washington, he is again sent to the Middle East with the purpose of assassinating Prince Nassir, who was believed to be behind an arms deal with Egypt. We later learn, however, that Nassir, unlike his younger brother and father, is a reform-minded leader who hopes to bring wealth to his country and the Middle East at large by selling oil to China and funneling an oil pipeline directly from the Middle East to Europe. Woodman becomes Nassir’s top economic adviser in these endeavors after advising Nassir begin thinking about such a pipeline.
Nassir’s father and brother, in contrast, toe a friendly line with the United States government, while Nassir’s goals run counter to American interests, with the implicit message that it’s in America’s interest to keep parts of the Middle East poor, uneducated and undeveloped so that the we can remain the control of oil reserves, not the other way around, thus Barnes’ initial mission to kill Nassir.
The other major plot line involves a shady merger of American oil companies Connex and a smaller organization, Killen, the latter of which surprisingly secures a major deal to drill in Kazakhstan. Bennett Holiday, an attorney with a Washington law firm, is charged with smoothing out the merger and giving the appearance of due diligence in the process. Meanwhile, Holiday is certain that a Killen officially committed bribery in securing the oil deal.
One of the main subplots follows the family life of Woodman, whose young son is killed while visiting Nassir’s family at their resort in Spain. Woodman’s son jumped into a pool of electrically charged water prior to a faulty pool light being discovered. This, along with Woodman’s globe-jumping travels, puts a strain on his relationship with his wife.
Another minor plot traces the life of a young Middle Eastern worker and his father, both of whom are laid off when Connex is outbid by a Chinese company for drilling rights in the region. Nassir, as we later learn, was behind China winning the bid, rather than Connex, and it’s here that we see the clash between American interests and Nassir’s desire to see a prosperous and developed Middle East.
Yet another plot follows Barnes and the torn relationship between his wife, who also works overseas, and his son, who calls both his father and mother “professional liars” because of the “classified” nature of their jobs.
That’s all I will divulge of the plot. Needless to say, these elements come to a dramatic conclusion in the final scene.
Superb acting carries the film, from Clooney and Damon, down through the supporting cast. Clooney was particularly at the top of his game during one torture scene in which a character named Mussawi attempts to get information from Clooney by pulling out his fingernails one-by-one. I can imagine it takes a large measure of acting acumen to make a moviegoer wince when the actor himself is likely in little if any real pain, yet fains immense suffering.
I also enjoyed the camera work. At times, the view is a touch jittery, which gives a grittier impression that the camera man is actually holding the camera, and this also puts the viewer right in the middle of the dialog and on-screen action. For instance, in an elevator scene in which Clooney was supposed to have Nassir assassinated (He is kidnapped by Mussawi’s men instead), Clooney gets on an elevator, which also holds Nassir and Damon. The camera is looking at the back of Clooney’s head and the image of his face is reflected back through the elevator door. This, of course, gives the effect that the movie viewer is actually in the elevator. I think that added a nice effect.
Finally, that the director followed closely the individual lives of the main and secondary characters so closely certainly supplies a personal element. It makes the statement that, not only does the subject matter have huge implications for the U.S., the Middle East and the world, but that real people are and will be affected by the decisions of men of power. Thus, monolithic institutions like oil companies and governments stand in sharp contrast to the individual lives they implicate.
The nature of the plot makes the movie a touch hard to fully follow on a first viewing and becomes more concrete on a second watch, but I don’t think the complicated plot is a drawback. Life is complicated, all the more the functions and duties of giant corporations and governments. This movie vividly captures the complexities and ethical implications pregnant, not just in capitalism itself, but in attempts to bring largely undeveloped nations into a more modern era whilst sometimes being left behind in the power grab for their resources.
That former interim Iraqi Prime Minister and secular Shia Muslim, Ayad Allawi, has beaten out Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the Islamic Dawa Party, can only be considered a positive for a country on the cusp of being on its own, as America prepares to pull out. Allawi, who does not throw his support beyond the theocracy of Iran (Side note: This is where we would be inexorably headed if folks like Pat Robertson and James Dobson ultimately had their way), while al-Maliki did, just edged his opponent by a 91-89 count.
Here’s a look at how voting broke down.
Maliki, who seems to be more of a polarizing figure in a country that needs the unity that only a secularist — one that has gained support from Sunni and Shiites, nonetheless — can provide. Consequently, Maliki has said he will challenge the results, as he and
his supporters in the State of Law coalition, who hurled accusations of fraud and made vague references to the prime minister’s power as commander in chief.
according to this New York Times article.
Here’s the video and story from NBC News:
Iran, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is planning to charge five people in connection with recent protests against the government with, no joke, warring against God. Eight people were killed Dec. 27 on the day of ritual Shi’ite mourning in protests against the established leadership led by supporters of Mirhossein Mousavi. Make no mistake. Iran is a theocracy in which Khomeini regularly leads the country in prayer in talks with his populace, which are commonly dubbed, not speeches, but sermons.
Now, suppose this was the case in America. Many folks these days think the United States either is, or should be, a Christian nation. Indeed, Sam Harris wrote a book called, “Letter to a Christian Nation,” with this thought in mind. Of course, Harris knows that America isn’t literally a Christian nation because that would mean it’s a theocracy, but he was working from the assumption that most people in this country profess some form of Christianity. In fact, that number is at about 76 percent, as of 2008. Here’s some stats on the topic.
What would this mean for America to actually and literally be a “Christian nation?” We would first have to define what that would mean. Would we mean that the country was led by a majority of evangelical, biblical-literalist Christian lawmakers? Or that the president was an evangelical and only some of the legislature was evangelical? Or that the president and lawmakers were mixed in their respective religions, but the general populace consisted of a majority of evangelical Christians?
I do and always have taken this to mean that, like Iran, a complimentary example of a theocracy, that the president himself would have to be an evangelical, and that government bodies, from the U.S. Congress, down to state and local bodies, would conduct their business under the auspices of the dominant religion. So, literally, I take it to mean a state governed and regulated by a religion. A certain segment of our population seems to think our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. Here is what James Dobson had to say in an April 15, 2009 interview with Sean Hannity on America as a Christian nation:
HANNITY: Dr. Dobson, the president said, as we all know, that America is not a Christian nation. Every other president had suggested we were. Our founders and framers suggested we were. What did you think when you heard that, and how would you answer him and tell him otherwise?
DOBSON: Well, Sean, it would — I would really like to hear the question asked and answered in a different way. Whether or not we’re a Christian nation is not the issue. The issue is did we have Christian roots and has that influenced, the Judeo-Christian value system, influenced our law, our constitution, and our way of life. And it has, and he implied that there was a kind of theological equivalence between Christianity and all the other religions of the world on that issue, and that’s not true. The United States has been from the beginning greatly influenced and primarily influenced by the Judeo-Christian system of values. And that is still accurate.
Of course, folks always have to add the “Judeo” part because to say simply “Christian beliefs” would be wrong in every degree, and they know it. Adding the Judeo part makes it more general and, in part, accurate, but not much more. The evangelical brand of Christianity that we see today, in part, began with the moral majority camp, which got its start in the late 1970s. The Founders, and I can probably say this until I’m blue in the face, were not evangelicals at all, but most of them were deists, which meant they did not believe in a personal god. They believed in a god who set the world in motion and did not interfere in human affairs. This would rule out both Jesus and Yahweh, both of which intervened in human affairs.
Sure, many Christians lived here early in our history and immigrated to escape the Church of England and other tough circumstances, but our documents are, at their core, secular. Obama, in the above reference, was speaking of the current population of America, which consists of Christians, Muslims, Jews, non-believers and many others. Article XI of the Treaty of Tripoli said that the U.S. “is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” The following was enacted under one of them, and one of my favorites, President John Adams:
The 1796 treaty with Tripoli states that the United States was “in no sense founded on the Christian religion.” … This was not an idle statement, meant to satisfy muslims– they believed it and meant it. This treaty was written under the presidency of George Washington and signed under the presidency of John Adams.
Thus, to think that this is a Christian nation, in the most literal sense, is false. To believe that this should be a Christian nation subjugates every person, believing or not, in this country and creates a timorous and dictatorial atmosphere, the extreme of which we can observe in Iran on a daily basis, where “warring against God” is not merely a moral indictment, but a legal one.
And that would be a dangerous leap to make.
The inevitable questions and concerns of nuclear proliferation that haunted us in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, thus sending American forces hurling toward Iraq after sanctions broke down, now has us knocking at the doors of Iran, which I must say, is led by a nuttier bunch than even Saddam Hussein’s nutty bunch.
President Barack Obama at a recent U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday and throughout his campaign and young administration have made it clear that one goal is to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities. In a tactful display (sarcasm), given the rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear intentions, the country recently test-fired long range missiles with
sufficient range to strike Israel, parts of Europe and American bases in the Persian Gulf. — The New York Times, Sept. 28, “Iran Conducts New Tests of Mid-Range Missiles”
According to The Times article, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official said the tests had been planned for awhile and were not associated with, precipitated by or linked to the sanctions dispute. Maybe not, but they, perhaps, came at the very worst time.
In an interesting and provocative Newsweek article titled, “Why Obama Should Learn to Love the Bomb,” from Aug. 29, the writer makes the case that the existence of nuclear bombs, even in the hands of dictators, makes the world a safer place because no one in their right mind is going to actually use “the bomb” to wipe out a large expanse of people, citing the logical point that such action would likely bring about the destruction, not just of entire countries, but perhaps, life as we know it. Here’s the basic case:
The argument that nuclear weapons can be agents of peace as well as destruction rests on two deceptively simple observations. First, nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945. Second, there’s never been a nuclear, or even a nonnuclear, war between two states that possess them. Just stop for a second and think about that: it’s hard to overstate how remarkable it is, especially given the singular viciousness of the 20th century. As Kenneth Waltz, the leading “nuclear optimist” and a professor emeritus of political science at UC Berkeley puts it, “We now have 64 years of experience since Hiroshima. It’s striking and against all historical precedent that for that substantial period, there has not been any war among nuclear states.
Striking indeed. What also strikes me here is that for all of our (i.e. Americans’) worries about nuclear proliferation around the world and nukes in the possession of dangerous men, this country was the last to use one, with fantastic, yet tragic, results. It’s quite hypocritical of us, couldn’t one say, that we today now claim to be the bastion of peace and freedom, yet we were the last to use this nearly godlike (godless?) device of mass annihilation?
That said, while I want to agree with the Newsweek writer, I don’t know that I can. Though, while it’s true that, in the nuclear age, that cataclysmic event has happened only once, I’m not sure that all world leaders, even the evil ones, are made of the same stuff. The Newsweek article cites Hitler and Stalin:
… you need to start by recognizing that all states are rational on some basic level [I'm not sure that we do]. Their leaders may be stupid, petty, venal, even evil, but they tend to do things only when they’re pretty sure they can get away with them. Take war: a country will start a fight only when it’s almost certain it can get what it wants at an acceptable price. Not even Hitler or Saddam waged wars they didn’t think they could win.
To understand why—and why the next 64 years are likely to play out the same way [with no nukes]—you need to start by recognizing that all states are rational on some basic level. Their leaders may be stupid, petty, venal, even evil, but they tend to do things only when they’re pretty sure they can get away with them. Take war: a country will start a fight only when it’s almost certain it can get what it wants at an acceptable price. Not even Hitler or Saddam waged wars they didn’t think they could win. (italics mine)
Hitler and Stalin had some rational sides to their nature. Hitler, at least, was deluded, no doubt, but he was certainly not a religious fanatic in parallel to the 9/11 hijackers.
Islam, however, the religious that runs things in Iran, a clear theocracy, has a much stronger, and dare I say, deathlike grip over its believers than other major religions, at least in these modern times. This is where I must differ with the points made in the Newsweek article. Indeed, world leaders, even those like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who, if he held the bomb would, perhaps, not be a threat because Mugabe, for all his flaws, is probably a rational person in his own self-ingratiating way and would understand the dire consequences of using the weapon. It would be behoove him and his empire not to use it. This holds true for Hitler and Stalin.
But turning over nuclear usage to true believers who live by statements in the Koran like:
We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. — Koran, 3:149-151
is another game altogether. Sam Harris in his book, “The End of Faith,” speaks at length on Islam. Indeed, if any religion wants to bring about the utter annihilation of everything, it’s this faith. And I will not draw a distinction between moderate believers and “fundamentalists,” as George W. Bush did, because we only have to cite what the Koran actually says to find out its means to a consequential end. For even a cursory reading of the Koran reveals bloodletting of the highest order:
God will humiliate the transgressors and mete out to them a grievous punishment for their scheming (6:121-125). If God wills to guide a man, He opens his bosom to Islam. But if he pleased to confound him, He makes his bosom small and narrow as though he were climbing up to heaven. Thus shall God lay the scourge on the unbelievers (6:125)
So, these folks, namely those who take the Koran as literal truth (I realize that many Muslims are peaceful people), namely the leadership of Iran and who maintain a long-spent theocracy there, long, hope for, a global, total Islamist state. Short of that, I’m sure many of them would have no problem, and indeed be gleeful, for the chance to sacrifice or quicken their deaths to see that they spend eternity in their fanciful heaven and with their 70-something virgins. Again, the Newsweek article:
Nuclear weapons change all that (the costs of conventional warfare) by making the costs of war obvious, inevitable, and unacceptable. Suddenly, when both sides have the ability to turn the other to ashes with the push of a button—and everybody knows it—the basic math shifts.
Yes, the “basic math” does shift when you are dealing with rational leaders (even evil leaders can be rational), but when you introduce the religious variable, the math changes. I’m not sure that we, or Obama, “should learn to love the bomb” regarding those who lead theocracies because those who work toward a jihad actively seek the utter destruction of unbelievers. It seems to me that nuclear proliferation would play directly into their hands.
Newsweek in the Sept. 14 edition featured a piece on the protests that Iran’s leaders may face — and subsequent crackdowns by the government — as that country’s liberal sector gets back to the books. Here’s the online version of the story. Classes begin this month, and as the article notes,
Throughout history, universities from Beijing to Berkeley have served as petri dishes for dissent, and with classes beginning this month in Iran, a widespread crackdown is likely. — Newsweek, Sept. 14
Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khameini with his police and Basij will likely level more crackdowns against academia there. For a man in which little makes sense, this, at least, does, given that the university, even in a backward theocracy like Iran, is the one bastion of enlightened ideas surrounded by very, very dim minds and presents a threat to his holy power. Here’s what the enlightened Khameini said to a gathering of university professors earlier this month:
… many of the liberal arts and humanities are based on philosophies whose foundations are materialism (and can potentially) lead to the loss of belief in godly and Islamic knowledge.
You don’t say? We can only hope such loss is, indeed, the result because there isn’t much “knowledge” worth anything in Islam at all. We have a violent, cobbled together text mostly plagarized from the Bible, which calls its followers to, not live and let live, but actively engage in a push back against the rest of us non-Islam believers. By the way, every single Jew or Christian reading this is an “atheist” to the millions following Islam, and so they are to you. Further, they believe in their cobbled together religious texts more fervently than most in America, which is even more disturbing given the fact that it was put together long after the Bible.
One positive might be, for instance, that, perhaps if radical Muslims were less bent on the destruction of everyone who doesn’t believe as they do and if they didn’t believe in setting up a global Islamic state, or a jihad, that Iran eventually could develop as a center of learning like Turkey. But this isn’t reality at the moment, and we are a long way from all that. In Khameini’s version of reality, we should simply keep the lights dim and keep the bright bulb of progressivism far from those primitive, blood-soaked lands.
As if we needed anymore proof that leaders in Iran, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but especially Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the latter of whom’s addresses to the public are not even considered speeches, but sermons, and are rife with religious nonsense, were living in the dark ages, here’s further proof.
As The New York Times reported July 28:
The accounts of prison abuse in Iran’s postelection crackdown — relayed by relatives and on opposition Web sites — have set off growing outrage among Iranians, including some prominent conservatives. More bruised corpses have been returned to families in recent days, and some hospital officials have told human rights workers that they have seen evidence that well over 100 protesters have died since the vote.
On Tuesday, the government released 140 prisoners in one of several conciliatory gestures aimed at deflecting further criticism. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a letter urging the head of the judiciary to show “Islamic mercy” to the detainees, and on Monday Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, personally intervened and closed an especially notorious detention center. — Robert F. Worth, The New York Times, July 28
Islamic mercy, you say?!? Islam is not a religion of mercy, nor peace, no matter how much apologists, world leaders, including our president, attempts to cast it in that light. From Surah Al Baqarah 2:191 , we have:
And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
In this, rather flimsy defense of the above verse, the writer of the site says the passage will be made all better and more moral if we are only to read it in context. So, let’s do just that:
YUSUFALI: Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
YUSUFALI: And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
YUSUFALI: But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful
YUSUFALI: And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
So, from this, we have that Allah, apparently not the same all-loving god of the Bible, doesn’t even love transgressors (Does this mean sinners? Unbelievers? Attackers of Muslims?), so we are to slay them (transgressors) wherever we catch them, for, the verse notes, “for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.” But, the verse reads, “fight them not,” at the mosque (But slaying them at other locations is better?) unless they fight you first. But if they do fight you, “slay them.”
First, I must say, are these kindergartners we’re talking about or grown men? Only children (or very immature men and women) are unlearned or uncultured enough to, at times, to seek retaliation for offenses. And here, even, God’s (Allah’s) word is telling us to strike back. Quite a rudimentary way of thinking and acting, if you ask me. From the original poster:
So here is the passage being quoted in context, and as you can see when the verse is quoted in context one will notice there is no terrorism or genocide being preached or advocated! The context is if MUSLIMS GET ATTACKED then Muslims have the right to attack back [Why should they have this right?], and the context is very clear on that, the theme comes into play on verse 190, not verse 191 which non-Muslims quote alone, the non-Muslim should quote from verse 190 onwards, and once doing so one will see that this is a defensive war, not an offensive one, if people attack the Muslims then the Muslims have the right to attack back, and that is exactly what the verses are saying.
The verses even say that if the people who started the fight begin to stop and make peace than we too must also stop and make peace as well, far from terrorism.
So it is that simple, verse 191 does not advocate terrorism or genocide, it advocates self-defense as can be seen from it context starting from verse 190 which states that if Muslims are attacked then we can attack back, and the context goes on to say that if the enemies stop attacking and make peace then we too should make peace, very simply and easy!
Still the axioms of Christ, if they were really spoken by him, that of teaching man to turn the other cheek, are far superior to this childish reactionary retaliation. Who cares if the verse does not advocate terrorism or genocide? It, among other verses in the Koran, was reason enough for God-fearing, paradise-believing men to steer hijacked planes into the World Trade Center based on that supposed sacred document’s good word. What peace-loving religion retaliates on its naysayers?
And under this cloak of ignorance, stupidity, myth and legend, coupled with its supremely stupified leader, Iran, once a beacon of learning (It still is to some degree), clambers toward an enlightenment it will never see, at least not under its Mecca-bowing, dim-witted leaders and followers.
As I was walking on the stairmaster, or whatever mechanism it was, I tuned into C-SPAN to catch Ayatullah al-Khamenei’s speech, or sermon, if you will, before supporters at Tehran University. As I watched grown men weaping at what he was saying, I could not helped but be gripped by the silliness of their rabbit little minds. Witness the foolishness here:
Khamenei, of course, was responding to the recent criticism of the election process of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, the state government said, won the unprecedented 80-percent turnout election. Mir Hossein Moussavi was the opposition leader, and he and his supporters have claimed the election was rigged. And they probably were, but that seems beside the point at this juncture. If you thought Ahmadinejad was loonier than Bugs Bunny on PCP — evidenced alone by his speech last year at Columbia University — al-Khamenei is Elmer Fudd on crack.
He actually said Iran was the “flightbearer of defending humanity,” who was supporting ”oppressed people” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine (with no mention of Israel, except in derogatory terms). He repeatedly referred to the Zionist nation (Israel) in antagonist language. So, Iran is the flightbearer of humanity, except with regard to countries who’s policies (or religions) he disagrees with.
The culminating statement of al-Khamenei in my view was: ”We (Irananians) do not need any advise on human rights.”
Really? Are you sure? Really?? Really???
Some sectors of society – including ethnic minorities – continue to face widespread discrimination, while the situation for other groups – notably some religious minorities – has significantly worsened under the current President.
Those seen as dissenting from stated or unstated official policies face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly. Women continue to face discrimination – both in law and practice. Impunity for human rights abuses is widespread.
In the last three months alone, Amnesty International has received reports of waves of arbitrary arrests and harassment, directed particularly against members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minority communities, students, trade unionists and women’s rights activists.
Amnesty International is aware of the apparent arbitrary arrest of, or other repressive measures taken against, over 220 individuals. Many of those arrested, if not all, are at risk of torture or other ill treatment. Other individuals arrested before this period have been sentenced to death.
In addition, several newspapers have been closed down, and access to internet sites has been restricted, including some relating to human rights or operated by international broadcasters. These measures may in part be intended to stifle debate and to silence critics of the authorities in advance of the forthcoming presidential election in June 2009. — http://www.amnesty.org, Feb. 2009.
Near the end of his speech, al-Khamenei struck a personal tone, to audible cries (literal wheeping) from his supporters:
“I have my own life. I have a handicapped body, and I have a little good name, but I owe that to you. I put this all on the line, and I’m ready to sacrifice all I have for the cause of this revolution and the establishment. I’m offering it all to you. We want you, we beseech you to pray for us (for) everything in this country. The revolution belongs to you. This establishment is yours. You are our supporters. We’ll continue the path with force, with full force. We ask you to support us with your prayers all along the way.”
Folks throughout were chanting that they were prepared to give their lives for their leader’s cause. (Cry us a river.) He’s not even clear on what a revolution is. Mousavi being elected, after an oppressive rule since 1979, would have been a revolution. Not the same authority of the incumbent.
Mousavi would have been the better choice, and heck, he probably won, but in a backward land like Iran, there’s no way to, either track results, or enforce malfeasants, even if there were illegitimate votes. And of al-Khamenei, the entire country (and much of the Middle East) is soaked in a kind of religious bath in which they are continuously purged from the realities of the modern world or logic. If you look, media outlets described al-Khamenei’s presentation as a sermon, rather than a speech, and that’s probably right judging from the crowd’s ceremonious, sacrimoneous chants throughout the display. Until this region and others purge their reliance on religion (and it is an insistence that Allah is the right god to be followed), we as a world will continue to draw our fists at each other. After all, what is a more persuasive motivator than even country or nativism? Religion. And too much of it, based on false and intra-contradictory documents is still floating about by insipid, brain dead people.
As protests continued late this week, this street-level videographer was close to the action, where Mousavi supporters were throwing rocks and other objects at the state militia. I’ll leave it someone else to explain the irony of the fellow’s gesture at the end of this video, right before (or after) he tossed a rock toward the police. The point is, the protesters wanted peace and a less dictatorial president by seeming to elect Mousavi over Ahmadinejad. Unless you speak Farsi, you probably won’t understand much at this Iranian protest this blog site, but he has included interesting videos and pictures. Also, here’s some various information and photos gathered from Iranians by The New York Times.
As riots embroiled the streets of Iran today, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claimed he had won a landslide victory over challenger and more moderate (Read: Not as crazy), Mir Hussein Moussavi, one can only think back to another election that had many within and without of the country crying foul. That is, the election last year in Zimbabwe, where challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, whom I feel was at least more genuinely trying to turn his country around, decidedly won the election, but was then apparently ramrodded at the polls by the Robert Mugabe crew. As the article at the last link mentions, Mugabe hasn’t enjoyed a majority of the people’s support in Zimbabwe since 2000, and I would wager, longer than that. But, he like any dictator who simply will not die, he always finds a way to win to maintain his own relevancy.
Mugabe controls the state newspaper, The Herald. He apparently controls the polls. And now, he controls the challenger who, by all counts, beat him at the polls. Tsvangirai is now the country’s prime minister, and we can only hope, Tsvangirai is biding his time so that, eventually, when the house of cards collapses around Mugabe’s inflated ego, Tsvangirai will be able to get the country on a path to, for God’s sake, stability such as that it can support it’s own people.
Truth be told, Mugabe — and it will be a bright day when he’s dead and gone — has done about as much to cripple a nation as one man possibly can.
After 28 years, Mr Mugabe has left his country broken and bleeding. Inflation is running at 165,000 per cent. Eighty per cent of Zimbabweans are unemployed. A country that was once a major food exporter is close to starvation. — The Telegraph, London, March 31, 2008
Now, that’s a track record of which one can be proud! I’d say “close to starvation” is probably an understatement. Already, men with mouths to feed in their villages are forced to go South Africa to live to find work with hopes of sending money back home. Sound familiar in light of the daily sacrifices Hispanic men make to risk death and imprisonment to come to America in attempts to find work to send back home to the wife and kids? Imagine traveling thousands of miles away, with no guarantee of seeing your family ever again, just for the chance to be able to send a trifling amount back to them in some resource-deprived country where the home government is basically burying its own people. This next quote sounds almost precisely what happens here in America to Hispanics seeking work:
Zimbabwean immigrants working in South Africa are calling on the government of Jacob Zuma to protect them against abuse by unscrupulous employers. They claim business operators are taking advantage of their desperation. The Zimbabweans believe many firms are exploiting foreigners in their attempt to survive the global credit crunch. — VOANews.com, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 5, 2009
So, Tsvangirai has made a recent, admirable push to re-establish the rule of law and freedom of the press in Zimbabwe, efforts which were quelled by Mugabe. A recent New York Times article reported Tsvangirai saying:
“There’s more need to move from humanitarian to recovery support for the government. The government needs resources to fulfill its obligations.”
But as long as Mugabe is ultimately in power, other countries will not be as willing to help. The New York Times article brought to light the fact that this puts Tsvangirai in a tight spot. Is he for or against Mugabe? Well, as I said, I think he’s clearly against him and wants serious reforms in the government but is biding his time. Meanwhile, he has at least gotten his foot in the door. In the meantime, he has made personal sacrifices in doing so. He has been beaten, jailed and generally persecuted in the past for his opposition to the administration’s iron-fist rule. He has endured the loss of his wife of 30 years and the death of his 4-year-old grandson, who drowned in a swimming pool. And he still carries on. And that, to me, says something of the measure of the man. As quoted in The Times:
“He’s clearly seen as a savior,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe. “And the deaths of his wife and grandson have raised his profile as someone who can endure suffering and still try to assist those he serves.”
Thus, Tsvangirai has two things going for him: He’s seen as something of a progressive leader who seems to want the best for his countrymen, and that Mugabe is 85 years old and is well on his way to eternal disgrace in the everafter. We can only hope, for the millions in Zimbabwe, that Tsvangirai can endure long enough to see the final decay of Mugabe, for whom, violins will be strummed by no one.