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Elections

Forward not backward
Unlike the Neoconservative-infested Republican Party, the progressives in this country do not need to resort to whole scale fiction, seasoned with innuendos, to drive their points home

Payam Ean
November 1, 2004
iranian.com

After reading "President Bush? Yes!", I felt compelled to respond. I do so because I strongly sense that it is time that our people in the United States wake up to the genuine political make-up of the Bush Administration, as well as to realities facing our collective political maturity here in America.

Essentially, Bakhtavar's article resonates the standard partisan rhetoric so consistently emanating from this administration, albeit customized for our particular constituency group (the evolving intellectual diversity of our group notwithstanding).

Bakhtavar states upfront: "As the American electorate enters the last couple of weeks before the 2004 presidential elections the American left are stepping up their propaganda war against President Bush."

How is simply summarizing this president's dismal four-year economic and foreign policy record to the American public considered propaganda? Can any of the facts about a net job loss, Himalayan-sized trade, account and budget deficits and an alienating effect abroad (over 90% of the world opposes Bush) be proven false (the necessary criteria for ultimately categorizing propaganda)?

No, unlike the Neoconservative-infested Republican Party, the progressives in this country do not need to resort to whole scale fiction, seasoned with innuendos, to drive their points home and garner (read: retain) support amongst the already stupefyingly distracted electorate.

He continues: "The closer the election gets, the more desperate the left gets in their attempt to undermine President Bush's presidency and his doctrine for a free, democratic Middle East."

Free and democratic to whom? Certainly not the people living there.

It is rational to expect that true, functioning democracy in this day and age, *anywhere* in the world, must accompany a peoples' right to economic self-determination. This assumption is certainly no different for the oil-rich regions of the Middle East, the Caucasus, South Asia, Africa and South America.

Yet, based on this assumption, viable democracy in any oil-rich nation in the Middle East will most likely conflict with core US "strategic interests" in that region, as it apparently does in other oil-rich parts of the world (consult Venezuela). I.E. it will devolve into an oil grab, with a hoped for installment of "client-state status" from the US.

A cursory study of the US/UK treatment of Dr. Mossadegh should be adequate to drive home this point, and said historical lesson remains as pertinent to geopolitical realities today as it did in the 1950s (possibly more so considering the dissipating state of known global oil reserves).

Bakhtavar then reminds readers of Reagan and Eastern Europe as an example of presume export of democracy. Suffice it to say that Eastern Europe was a different game vis-a-vis US strategic interests than was/is the Mid-East (hint: no substantive oil or natural gas reserves there...just a buffer against the then Soviet Union).

Bakhtavar states: "The Iranian-American community must understand that these vocal critics of President Bush are no friends to the Iranian populace. In fact, in order to achieve their agenda they will back any radical group including the hard-liners in Iran. Some of the financial fuel for this agenda comes from US based Iranian-American organizations that have questionable ties to the Iranian government and millions of dollars to disperse throughout the Iranian-American community."

What "agenda" is Bakhtavar opaquely referencing? The agenda of replacing a catastrophically poor performing administration with a better informed, sober and credible one? The agenda of trying to prevent full-scale, multi-regional warfare and a further drive towards domestic and global fiscal insolvency?

Iranian progressives seek to prevent a fiscal quagmire from occurring in this country as well as prevent an ill-advised attack on the nation of our mutual ancestry. The Bush administration has blinders on to the ostensibly cataclysmic ramifications of either solely performing, approving of, or acting in concert with, an attack on or invasion of Iran. Such an act would not be an isolated incident a la the Israeli attack on Iraq back in the early 1980s, as it would necessitate further actions involving a full regime change as well.

Despite the salivating that such a prospect of regime change presents for the myopic, tragically uniformed and politically codependent Iranian-American populace in the US, the realities of the matter are much more complex. Such an attack on Iran might very well be the modern equivalent of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, as it would unleash a conflict that would destabilize the region and spiral into a wider global situation.

Nations and Unions such as Russia, China, India and the EU have gone on the record in opposing such a strike, and informed, seasoned strategists such as Zbigniew Bzrezinski, General (ret.) William Odom and others have advised against such acts (preferring that Europe lead on the matter of containing an increasingly defensive Iranian government through diplomacy and possible use of sanctions).

In fact, there may be signs that the Bush Administration is starting to seriously consider the admonitions of the latter experts regarding Iran because even *they* realize the delicacy of the Mid-East and scarcity of US resources. These are current realities that the hopeful yet electively uninformed Iranian-American supporters of the Republican Party must come to grips with.

Also, why does Bakhtavar rely on conjecture and outright lies to try and attack those Iranians who choose to back the Democratic Party in America? Would he care to elaborate on the "questionable ties to the Iranian government" that he implies the Iranian backers of the Democratic Party readily employ?

Or is Bakhtavar tritely content to leave the accusation as a dangling innuendo, knowing well that our community is unfortunately highly impressionable to rumors and conspiracy theories due to our demonstrable political immaturity (domestically and abroad)? Provide tangible, substantive proof for Bakhtavar's serious allegations, or kindly refrain from regurgitated, Neocon-spoon-fed propaganda.

Further, I would hope, nay insist, that Bakhtavar and other Iranians choosing to side with the Republican Party stop channeling Kenneth Timmerman, Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle in Bakhtavar's arguments and public stances, as the latter crew of Straussian NeoCONservatives hardly retain the best interests of our peoples here or abroad, let alone the best interests of the rest of Americans.

Kindly consult the following for the backgrounds, true ideological roots and thus, true motivations of said crew:

-- http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Anthropology/publications/Ledeen.htm
-- http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040223&c=1&s=lind
-- http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/8249
-- http://www.alternet.org/story/15935
-- http://www.amconmag.com/3_1_04/cover.html
-- http://amconmag.com/06_30_03/feature.html

Separately yet relatedly, before Bakhtavar and others resort to vaguely, nefariously and insidiously accusing Iranian Democrats of working in a monetary capacity with the government of Iran, Bakhtavar should be fully aware that Richard Cheney's former corporation, Halliburton, as well as G.E. and Conoco Philips, continue to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran through their diversified subsidiary relations:

-- http://www.halliburton.com/news/archive/2004/report.jsp
-- http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1146373,00.html
-- http://www.nzherald.co.nz
-- http://www.forbes.com/business/energy/newswire/2003/12/15/rtr1181370.html
-- http://www.forbes.com/home_europe/newswire/2004/02/11/rtr1255992.html
-- http://money.cnn.com/2003/02/10/news/companies/terror_firms/
-- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/01/22/60minutes/main595214.shtml
-- http://www.counterpunch.org/leopold10282003.html
-- http://money.cnn.com/2003/05/29/news/iran_sanctions/
-- http://www.conflictsecurities.com/media/article.php?cat=ny&id=24
-- http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=142210
-- http://www.iranexpert.com/2004/oil9march.htm
-- http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0304/S00160.htm

Bakhtavar refers to "the historically Republican Iranian-American community", implying that our people should collectively continue to remain in said partisan camp without explaining the whys and hows of said party's current platforms... platforms that differ significantly from the Republican Party of old. This is NOT the Republican Party of Nixon nor even of Reagan.

Again, I highly suggest Bakhtavar investigate the nihilistic Machiavellian roots of Neoconservative ideology [a great place to start, book-wise, is Shadia Drury's brilliant-yet-concise "Leo Strauss and the American Right"] before equating this administration with those of Republicans past.

Bakhtavar continues: "Using propaganda, fear tactics, hysteria and sometimes outright lies [the Iranians on the Democratic side have] scared the Republican Iranian-American community to the side of John Kerry."

First, those Iranian-Americans who are attracted to the Democratic Party and the progressive side are proud Americans who are also cognitive, educated and sober. They are NOT tired, politically impotent, and culturally distracted sycophants who are anxious to garner transitory approval from a patently clandestine domestic political force that shrewdly parades itself as a broad-based, all-inclusive political base (read: the current Republican Party).

Second, "propaganda, fear tactics and hysteria" is the definitely relied-upon M.O. of the Neoconservatives who "advise", nay drive, the Bush presidency. Case in point is the very blog Bakhtavar cite, regimechangeiran.com, which is practically devoid of informed economic or geopolitical viewpoints from here or, especially, from abroad. Said website, as well as the magazines it relies upon, are shouting boards for the bloated, fear-driven-and-fear-triggering, manipulative and shrewdly misleading modern Republican shouting machine.

Bakhtavar states that Democrats claim "Iranians are too backwards to accept democracy", as well as "To [Democrats], nothing matters more than taking power in this country, even if they have to prevent democracy from taking root in Iran".

Such statements, especially the latter, should in actuality be aimed at Republican Party Neoconservatism, which only sees democracy as a means towards an elites-vs.-"vulgar masses" end, holds a core disdain for Liberalism, Modernism and the Enlightenment, and disturbingly yet demonstrably favors the use of religion as a tried-and-true political tool for keeping said "vulgar masses" in line.

Neocons are more inspired by the thoughts of Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger (his early 1930s thoughts endorsing the Third Reich), Leo Strauss and Niccolo Machiavelli, rather than those of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.

Again, kindly consult here, or better yet, consult the writings of Neoconservatism's philosophers themselves (Leo Strauss, Michael Ledeen, et al). [Marx thought religion was "an opiate for the masses" and thus was bad; NeoCONs believe it is indeed an opiate, yet also believe that the "masses need their opium". Hence, witness the broad, faith-based domestic transformations before us].

Thus, I tend to wonder whether the Straussian Neoconservatives that drive Bush's foreign and domestic policies aren't, in actuality, ENVIOUS of the autocratic mullahs in Iran because of the latter's use of religion to maintain control. Interestingly, and despite its seemingly ironic inanity and potential counter-shrewdness, Iran's ruling mullahcracy nonetheless recently endorsed Bush for another term.

No, the average student in Tehran knows more about political philosophy than the average student in Los Angeles. The average enlightened, modest, information-hungry, humble and increasingly aware female student in Iran can better tie together the nuances of Enlightenment philosophies, economic and political reform, and an authentic, evolving Iranian national identity (with or without Islam at it's core, trust me) than can a Kobe & Britany Spears-citing, BlackCats-hip-hop-quoting, Westwood-cruising, hair-dying-plastic-surgery-embracing Iranian-American student in the US.

The former phenomenon can be attested to through a rudimentary review of blogs and other websites emanating out of Iran; the latter phenomenon can be attested to through, well, take Bakhtavar's pick: LA-based Iranian TV and radio; an average afternoon walk down Westwood Blvd.; or a visit to various bland-cultured websites.

Importantly, those Iranian-Americans in the US who are attracted to the progressive side embrace the burgeoning, formerly cited, miracle of Iranian intellectual sobriety, rather than the cookie-cutter, two-dimensional caricatures of Iran and Iranians posited by the Neoconservative spin-machine (more than this caricaturing later, in response to Bakhtavar's comparison of Iranian-Americans to Cuban-Americans).

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a repressive, retarding, inefficient, paranoid and increasingly disastrous form of government that is further alienating the land of our ancestry and origin from the rest of the world. In other words, Iran's is a Neoconservative government.

I urge Bakhtavar to take a look at the instincts of mullah Neoconservatism and compare it to the increasingly rabid form of domestic Neoconservatism in the US, in light of the above perspective.

Bakhtavar will realize why Iranians did not flee the Islamic Republic of Iran to the US in order to be housed under a different brand of Neoconservatism. No, we came here to embrace Liberalism and Modernism. The true American Conservative, then, whether of Iranian descent or otherwise, thus seeks to ***conserve*** said Liberalism alongside their unique cultural traits.

This is a key distinction that Iranian-Americans must realize and embrace in order to mature politically in the US and, in turn, assist the true economic and political liberation of Iran, rather than reverting to a sheepish appeasement of Iran as another potential "client-state", rich in oil and natural gas for any variety of conglomerate-based "liberalization".

This is also not a request for Iranian-Americans to side with the Democratic Party in full, just as it is not a request for full abandonment of the Republican Party by Iranian-Americans. It is rather a clarion call for replete political maturity where our people can awaken to political realities here and abroad and choose our political affiliations with sobriety and ultimate cultural fidelity in mind, rather than relying on others' interpretations of domestic and foreign politics for us (read: Neocons). Spouting preposterously conspiratorial vitriol about a mainstream, Brahmin-bred, Establishmentarian Democratic presidential candidate does not achieve those ends.

A related caveat: Jewish Americans manage to join both Republican and Democratic parties (as well as other domestic parties) while retaining a core fidelity to their culture, language, and religion and to the sanctity of Israel. Said diversified and longstanding approach has garnered irrefutable gains for them in the US while benefiting their nation of cultural origin in the Middle East. Why should it be any different for Iranians? In this light, Bakhtavar's article, by urging complete Republican Party membership by Iranian-Americans, takes us backward, not forward.

Regarding domestic politics in Iran, Bakhtavar promotes an ultimate referendum in Iran, as do I and others in our Diaspora, stating: "My point is that we should let the Iranian people choose whatever that choice may be, but they certainly deserve moral support in having that choice. Therefore, this election season I merely ask Bakhtavar to reason through and seek the truth. Don't let bias steal Bakhtavar's vote."

We are, again, in agreement regarding the above statement, all the more reason to reject Neoconservative manipulation of our people in favor of transparent, sober, evolved support alternatives. Few issues are more critical to our people either domestically or abroad.

Neoconservatives in America haven't the slightest clue on what to do strategically with regard to Iran; we would not help by enrolling behind them carte blanche.

Case in point, Bakhtavar conclude: "My guess is that if the Iranian-American community understood the issues similar to the Cuban-American community, over 70% would support President Bush." That is, I guess, the core of the problem -- Bakhtavar think as the current neophyte Neocon strategists do, lumping together Iranians, Cubans, Vietnamese, Koreans and Venezuelans in this country as one, big collective group of knee-jerkily frustrated ex-patriots who couldn't care about any other issue in their voting patterns (I.E. health care, fiscal prudence, Medicare, energy independence, the environment, education, genuinely libertarian values and others), let alone in their views of how to approach their lands of origin from within the United States.

Well, the world is not a video game, unlike the view of it from the Neocon perspective. Iranian-Americans' adoption of warped Neocon thinking is tragic, as said thinking begs sober analysis. Such habits only further our state of political co-dependence and impotence in the United States.

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