In another recent co-opinion posted by ABBAS MILANI and ISRAEL WAISMEL-MANOR, entitled “Are Iran and Israel Trading Places?” (here’s the mobile link, I couldn’t actually find it anywhere on the main NY times website), once again the pitfalls of writing too much optimism into the news and information about Iran, could be misleadingly again to any real hope of changing Iran.
Part of the problem in getting Iran to change from a brutally oppressive tyrannical religious dictatorship whose entire “operation” is run by one unelected self appointed religious ruler, for life, is when the free analysts and reporters and writers and opinionated mouthpieces naively and with well intentions mis-inform their audiences about the facts of Iran.
This gives the outside world, and especially those that have the power to influence change in Iran, the wrong information, which naturally leads to the wrong actions. I assert that this is why Iran never really changes, but from listening to these optimistic observations, one would naturally draw that it always seems that Iran is just about to.
So we in the hopeful stands of the Iranian world stadium, sit obediently, and shut up, and keep our hands to ourselves, and wait. And we’ve been doing this since 1980, as we watched and waited to see how the US botched hostage rescue attempt would impact Iranian politics, as we watched to see when Iran elected Bani Sadr if that would steer the careening clown car back on track, as we watched and waited for the Iran-Iraq war to conclude and see what happens after that, as we watched Rafsanjani line his pockets with Clinton legalized Pistachio billions, and then we watched Khatami flicker and the burn out, as we watched Ahmadinejad line his pockets for two terms, as we watched Moussavi do whatever Moussavi is credited for doing.
We have most certainly watched and waited. A very long time. Always obedient. Always polite. Always patient, always steadfast in our always quiet side bar hushed “petch petch” whispered claim amongst ourselves, that “Don’t worry, these people will not last, they will be gone just like the rest have gone.”
Those like Milani who actually have a voice, seem to sway back and forth between clear logical criticism and “Here’s how f***ed up Iran really is folks!”, and then right back to what puzzlingly (like this latest post) appears to be semi-optimistic-pragmatic-capitulation.
Or maybe it’s all about money. Maybe these days co-writing an article about Iran and Israel being one and the same gets you paid by the NY Times, or your publisher about to publish your latest book on the same topic. God I hope not.
The current subtle leading commentary all the folks in this media publicity boat seems to be that Iran is now on a uniquely opportune path towards some sort of miracle period of reform. Once again, the encouragement hidden between the lines, is for all of us who have sat patiently waiting, to “shut up, waitch, wait, and above all keep your hands to yourselves.”
In this NY Times Mobile piece, Milani and Co. write things like,
“…As the winds of change blow across Iran…”
The key word is “blow” and “across” because these winds of presumable change have yet to stop in Iran, even once, to take effect. Always across. Ironically from Iraq and all the way across to Afghanistan.
“…But sanctions have taken a serious economic toll, with devastating effects on the Iranian people…”
Never is there the mention that oddly enough since the Shah-era that Milani also knows so well, Iranian governments have routinely and repeatedly mis-managed the Iranian economy. To far worse effect then all of the US sanctions against the bazari-gangster-criminal-family-connected rich that now infests Iran at every stratum of it’s crumbling society, in every industry from plastic bowls imported from China, to knock off Adidas sports apparel, to Apple iPhone 5Ss. Proof? At the peak of it, or last year, you could (and many of you did) attend lavish parties in Tehran where cocaine, heroin, crack, meth, and Johnny Walker black, blue, and green were served like appetizers. By now, I will bet you Platinum. More proof? According to Porsche, more Porsches were sold in Iran (at the height of sanctions no less!) than the rest of the Mid-East. More Porsches than even your precious Dubai.
“…The public, tired of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s bombastic and costly rhetoric, has replaced him with Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist…”
Again, the public did no such thing. They couldn’t replace Ahmadinejad if they wanted to. Proof? He served his maximum allowable two terms. 98% successfully. The well behaved and tamed Iranian public may have lottery ticket endorsed Khamenei’s rubberstamped pre-sanitized wine paring of Rouhani, to go with his ongoing meal of Iran, but then again, not voting in an Iranian election has “boogey man will come and get you in the night” consequences. Even if it is an urban myth, intimidating the population and holding the “Evin Express Card” has it’s advantages.
“…But Mr. Rouhani’s rise is in reality the consequence of a critical cultural and demographic shift in Iran — away from theocracy and confrontation, and toward moderation and pragmatism…”
Rouhani’s rise is merely Khamenei’s original plan to “give the Coliseum a champion” a diversion so the people steer away from rising up, and sit and watch and wait and keep their hands to themselves. Nothing more than the contract Khamenei signed with Rouhani. The deal, as always, first term you become a millionaire, second term you become a Billionaire. In real dollars, not worthless tomans, just look at Ahmadinejad’s personal wealth. Apparently while he may have been an altogether inept politician and an utter idiot, Ahamdinejad was also the Albert Einstein of business and investment. We never knew he was so gifted…
“…More than 60 percent of Iranians are under age 30, and they overwhelmingly believe in individual liberty…”
Another pointless hope instilled well-wish. Unfortunately 80% of the 60% are under 15. While they may believe in “individual liberty”, their likely concept of it, is based on whatever xBox teaches them about it. In fact only 25% of Iran is the US State Department/CIA coveted 30-40 year old “sweet spot” suggested by this misinformed demographic. However, another 25% of Iran is over 60, so that should explain the “respect for your elders” stalemate.
“…As moderate Iranians and some of the country’s leaders cautiously shift toward pragmatism and the West…”
Shift? Maybe there is the slightest shift of their growing bottoms, embedded comfortably into their well cushioned dining chairs, during the increasingly lavish Tehran dinner parties, in growingly ostentatious luxury apartments that now over-look the Alborz mountains, instead of traditionally south towards where one can be reminded the poor live. By poor, I mean middle class. Iran’s actual poor get fed well every Friday. Paid every month from the multi-billion dollar Dubai construction and real estate and other overseas invested social welfare coffers. That’s why it appears there are “throngs” of supporters. The meal coupon is you have to say “Death to America, Death to Israel” whenever the sign goes up.
“…[Iran’s diaspora] are now well known in the United States thanks to people like the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. They are increasingly establishing themselves as a powerful force advocating a more democratic Iran and better relations with the United States…”
Ah! Once again the mention of the mythical, strangely absent ancient hero of Iran! Pierre Omidyar! I’m now not even sure he actually exists. Sure there is this long-haired guy with big ears on Youtube that looks like Iranian, but Omidyar is about as present in ANY Iranian political, cultural, social, community aspiration as his Iranian accent. Or none. The suggestion that Omidyar, or ANY Iranian entrepreneur/lottery ticket winner would EVER run the risk of the ever present “Cheshmam Mizanan, Hala Hichi Nagoo” curse/jinx/karma/IRS audit, and their run of luck by speaking about anything Iranian, can be measured by the frequently used scientific measurement known as, Zilch.
So, you can see how idealistically naive hope-tinged rhetoric like this, placed in major US media, that has NO on the ground, Iranian basis in real facts, logic, or more importantly that funny thing that always seems to evade the Western exposure, that never comes up in any of these well wishing pre-book sales, is the misfortunate rule of current Iranian law.
While all of what Milani and his international cadre of compadres suggests is entirely plausible, it isn’t in fact possible. And it sure as hell hasn’t ever been probable! Because as the very last period is placed at the end of this exorcise of futility, with Khamenei’s deft use of Arab-o-Farsi language of Constitutional law, making ANY changes to it, feloniously illegal (and just like the West, felonies in Iran are subject to the death penalty too!), as well as a religious sin, there is no legal way, no religiously acceptable way, and therefore no practical way to moderate Iran. In a word, Zilch.