HAMMER FORUM: Robert Baer and Trita Parsi


HAMMER FORUM: Robert Baer and Trita Parsi
by Darius Kadivar

A Third War: The Threat of War With Iran, Hammer Forum

10/16/08 -- Former CIA officer Robert Baer makes the case that the US has unwittingly made Iran an emerging superpower. Dr. Trita Parsi argues that allowing Iran to use enriched uranium for fuel under the strict guidelines of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty puts the US in a strong position against nuclear weaponization and avoids engaging in a third war in the Middle East.

Hammer Forums is an ongoing series of timely, thought-provoking events adressing current social and political issues.

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About the Participants:

Robert Baer:

From Wikipedia:

Baer's books See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil were the basis for the 2005 Academy Award winning Warner Brothers motion picture Syriana. The film's character Bob Barnes (played by George Clooney) is loosely based on Baer. For this role, Clooney won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. To better resemble Baer, Clooney gained weight. When Baer learned of this, he was inspired to get back into shape. For the past two years, Robert Baer has worked closely with the director Kevin Toolis and Many Rivers Films, a Channel 4 production company in the UK, and presented four authoritative documentary series, Cult of the Suicide Bomber I, The Cult of the Suicide Bomber II and Cult of the Suicide Bomber III on the origins of suicide bombing. Cult of the Suicide Bomber I was nominated for an Emmy in 2006. In 2008 Baer presented Car Bomb - a film history about the weapon.

During his twenty-year CIA career, Baer has publicly acknowledged field assignments in Madras and New Delhi, India; in Beirut, Lebanon; in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; in Morocco, and in Salah al-Din in Iraqi Kurdistan. During the mid-1990s Baer was sent to Iraq with the mission of organizing opposition to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein but was recalled, and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for allegedly conspiring to assassinate the Iraqi leader.[1][2] While in Salah al-Din, Baer unsuccessfully urged the Clinton administration to back an internal Iraqi attempt to overthrow Hussein (organized by a group of Sunni military officers, the Iraqi National Congress' Ahmad Chalabi, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's Jalal Talabani) in March 1995 with covert CIA assistance. Baer quit the Agency in 1997 and received the CIA's Career Intelligence Medal on March 11, 1998. Baer wrote the book See No Evil documenting his experiences while working for the Agency.

In a blurb for See No Evil Seymour Hersh said Baer "was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East."

Baer offers an analysis of the Middle East through the lens of his experiences as a CIA operative. His political outlook does not hew exclusively to either conservative or liberal viewpoints. Through his years as a clandestine officer, he gained a very thorough knowledge of the Middle East, Arab world and former Republics of the Soviet Union. He speaks Arabic fluently. Over the years, Baer has become a strong advocate of the Agency's need to increase Human Intelligence (HUMINT) through the recruitment of agents.

In 2002 in his autobiography See No Evil, he says on page 200 that he joked with Charles (Tiny) McKee that he ought to be careful or the terrorists would get him. This is said to have happened six months before the Lockerbie bombing. Unfortunately, the chapter is entitled 12, August 1988, Beirut, Lebanon, only four months before Lockerbie and nearly two months after the downing of Iran Air Flight 655. Baer long a supporter of the theory that the PFLP GC brought down the Maid of the Seas, has recently begun to promote the theory that Iran was behind the bombing.

In 2004, he told a reporter of the British political weekly New Statesman, regarding the way the CIA deals with terrorism suspects, "If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt."[2] In 2008 in an interview with Gideon Levy he described himself as having been chief bomber for the CIA.

Baer was interviewed in the Robert Greenwald documentary Uncovered: The War on Iraq. He was also one of the main participants in the 2009 documentary film Lockerbie revisited by Dutch film director Gideon Levy.

Recommended Reading:


Trita Parsi is founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian politics, and the balance of power in the Middle East.  He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers.  Treacherous Alliance is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic and non-Muslim who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D. He founded NIAC to provide a non-partisan, non-profit organization through which Iranian-Americans could participate in American civic life.  NIAC is a vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the US and Iran, which Parsi consistently has argued would enhance our national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.

Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters.  Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly's Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

Parsi studied for his Doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations under Professor Francis Fukuyama at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to his PhD, he holds a Master's Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University and a Master's Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS.  He is currently an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.

He is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. Parsi's articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Jane's Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. See Official Website

Related Blog:

BBC DOHA DEBATES: Can Iran Be Trusted on the Nuclear Issue ? (Nov 10th, 2009)


more from Darius Kadivar
arash Irandoost

Trita's Trecherous Alliance with IRI

by arash Irandoost on

The trilateral relationship between
Israel, Iran, and the United States is complex. Alas, Treacherous Alliance
does not explain it. Based on the Johns Hopkins University doctoral thesis of
Trita Parsi, best known as a Washington-based Iran lobbyist who trades on his
connections to officials within the Islamic Republic, the narrative wallows in
half-truths and conspiracy rather than fact.


Parsi begins, for example, by
stating that neoconservatives "desperately wish" for a U.S. war with
Iran. Perhaps Commentary's Norman Podhoretz does, but he is in a
minority. Further, Parsi suggests that foreign policy hawks worry about Iran
itself, rather than the Islamic Republic's covert nuclear program and terror
sponsorship, an obvious mistake.

Basing his research largely on
interviews, Parsi picks and chooses what he wants to include. The result is a

He emphasizes Iranian pragmatism and
dismisses the role of ideology. Iranian support for Hezbollah, in his
rendering, has more to do with regional power ambition than ideology—this would
come as a surprise to Hezbollah, which defines itself in opposition to the
Jewish state and whose secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, on October 23,
2002, encouraged Jews all to gather in Israel, thereby saving Hezbollah
"the trouble of going after them worldwide."[1]

Parsi breaks no new ground in his
treatment of the early relationship between Iran and Israel, offering little
more than a potted history. He omits the role of Ziama Divon, the first Israeli
to visit the shah and confidential assistant to Israeli prime minister David

He treats as a primary source the
views of Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell,
without ever bothering to ask whether Wilkerson has direct knowledge of events
he describes. Had Parsi asked, Wilkerson would have had to admit he attended
none of the interagency policy meetings and lacks firsthand knowledge of them.

Parsi suggests that in 2003 Tehran
offered to disarm Hezbollah, but this is false. He makes much of a freelance
proposal by the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, Tim Guldimann, that did not win the
support of the Iranian regime,[2]
which at that time was in fact accelerating its support to Hezbollah. This
incident suggests that Parsi's Iranian interlocutors view him as a mechanism
for disinformation.

Parsi's manipulation of data
undercuts his work. He argues that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call
for Israel to be "wiped off the map" was mistranslated and instead
renders the phrase more benignly that Israel should be "eliminated from
the pages of history." But the Iranian state-controlled news agency used
the former translation.

As documents and correspondence are
declassified, Yale University Press will appear foolish for publishing this
volume, as will Francis Fukuyama, Parsi's academic advisor, who appears to have
been AWOL in his supervisory duties.

[1] Daily Star (Beirut), Oct. 23, 2002.
See Michael Rubin, "The Guldimann Memorandum," The Weekly Standard,
Oct. 22, 2007.

ramin parsa


by ramin parsa on

Well said,

and same to Faramarz and vildemose. 


Vildemose and others

by benross on

I really think we are going the wrong way about it. Just ignore him. Let those who share his ideas comment on it. I can think of few closet supporters of IRI right here in IC. Let them to react.

This way, first, we will not be distracted and diverted from our subject. Second, we let the closet supporters (not much in closet anymore) reveal themselves even more. Win win situation thanks to our brave sargord!


Major Pirouz: You are in

by vildemose on

Major Pirouz: You are in the Islamic Republic's military as a Major and you think you have credibility to discuss matters objectively? How stupid do you think we are ? If you live in the US as an active/inactive officer of the IRI, I wonder how you were able to get your Green card or visa to stay here. I think you're being irresponsible by coming here and causing a  possible link between the IRGC and IRI military and IC members.


Tahgord Pirouz

by Faramarz_Fateh on

Soul-less means you and likes of you; supporters of IRI

There are other adjectives that better describe you, but due to i.com's policies on use of profanity, they cannot be mentioned here. 

Sargord Pirouz


by Sargord Pirouz on

How can anyone be "objective" and so biased about something at the same time?

What exactly constitutes "soul-less"?

Why the need to resort to ad hominem attacks?

ramin parsa

Baer and Parsi vs. Iranian Freedom

by ramin parsa on

These two con-artists are two cogs that continuously grease the dying engine that is the IRI. I would never EVER purchase a book penned by these soul-less characters. All those who are objective about Baer and Parsi, know what kind of vermin we're dealing with here. Their individual track records speak volumes.  

Sargord Pirouz

Baer and Parsi

by Sargord Pirouz on

I skipped Baer's book. I feel he's a "has been", being out of the loop of the CIA for so long. I recently watched a brief segment of Peter Robinson's Uncommon Knowledge which featured Baer as a guest speaker on Iran. Baer didn't have anything interesting to contribute.

Parsi's book "Treacherous Alliance" is a good read. He's an intelligent man. Approachable. Recently, however, unfair accusations by the Israel lobby, neocons, MEK and the monarchists, in something resembling a gang tackle, seem to have pushed him into anti-Iran positions from which to qualify the relatively successful NIAC against attack. Unfortunate.


An Omen of New Sanctions or a Symbolic Slap on the Wrist?

by vildemose on


"...That the hawks were able to veto the representative of Supreme Leader Khamenei lends credence to Gary Sick's argument that the Revolutionary Guards have carried out a soft coup behind the scenes and Iran looks more and more like a military junta.

I personally suspect that most Western officials involved in this matter know perfectly well that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and does not want an actual bomb. I think the Western leaders do not want Iran to have nuclear latency, either, because it would change the balance of power in the Middle East and would take forcible regime change off the table as an option for the West.

Although some observers are wondering if Friday's vote is a prelude to stricter UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, Howard LeFrachi at CSM rightly points out that China does not want more sanctions. China was essentially blackmailed into voting for Friday's resolution, according to the Washington Post, by an Israeli threat to start a war, conveyed by Dennis Ross, a prominent member of the US Israel lobbies who also has a position in the Obama administration. But voting for an IAEA text is different from actually imposing sanctions that might hurt the Chinese economy.

Moreover, Russian Prime Minister and eminence grise Vladimir Putin is against a tightening of sanctions. India announced its opposition to a tougher economic boycott even as it voted to condemn Iran.

The reason for the reluctance of the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to push Iran harder economically is that they have an interest in Iran's resources not being closed off to their exploitation. Reuters just reported that: "Indian state explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.BO) is seeking a 20-25 percent stake in a $7.5 billion phase-12 project of Iran's South Pars gas field, media reports said on Friday." India is growing 7 and 9% a year and has relatively little energy of its own, and so is very hungry for Iranian natural gas.

So far the US has managed to strongarm India into backing off, by threatening Treasury Department third-party sanctions. But it is entirely possible that Indian energy hunger will cause its firms to write off the $14 trillion US market and to partner with Iran. After all, the world economy is now about $60 trillion, and united Europe's economy is as big as that of the US. If India has a choice of seeing its growth strangled for lack of electricity to run its factories and being excluded from 23% of the world economy, it may decide that the 77% is enough of a market. The importance of the US economy as a proportion of the global whole will likely rapidly decline over the next four decades.

The same considerations affect China. Russia is different because it is an energy producer. But in a world where demand for hydrocarbons is rapidly growing, there is enough demand to go around, and Russia's economy is sufficiently diversified that it views Iran as a market and an investment opportunity. Harsher UNSC sanctions on Iran would backfire on BRIC, and therefore short of egregiously bad behavior on Iran's part (discovery of an actual, dedicated weapons plant, e.g.), the BRIC countries will likely seek to block them.

Bottom line: Friday's vote was likely symbolic and a signal to Iran from the international community that there is discomfort with its secretiveness and lack of transparency, and that many are suspicious of its motives. In China's case, it may have been a warning against actions that could harm the Middle Kingdom's burgeoning economy.

What it likely was not was a harbinger of tougher international sanctions against Tehran or a sign that BRIC is softening on that issue.



Mr.Kadivar I admire your

by Faramarz_Fateh on

patience and perseverence with with likes of Q and Irandokh, but I am sure you realize until and unless there is a personal gain for them, they will defend the illegitimate IRR to death.

If you show them that there is 5 rials additional $ for them in supporting of the downfall of the IRI, they will change their tune faster than you can say oui.


Darius Kadivar

Absolument MON Q !

by Darius Kadivar on

But You don't need to justify YOUR Treason to both King and Country !







Sweet Dreams !



Well, at least we can end on a mutual agreement!

by Q on

I am definitively a scoundrel when it comes to defending TRUE patriots and my Country !

Darius Kadivar

MON Q ! ... ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

I am definitively a scoundrel when it comes to defending TRUE patriots and my Country ! ...



Anyway I've wasted enough time with you !

Oh But before I forget


Reza Pahlavi's message on the Anniversary of the 1906 Constitutional

Good Night !

Best !



Kadivar, same to you

by Q on

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." -Samuel Johnson

"Kings are not born: they are made by artificial hallucination." -George Bernard Shaw

Darius Kadivar

MON Q ! ...

by Darius Kadivar on

"One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others." -Moliere

"All reformers, however strict their social conscience, live in houses just as big as they can pay for."  - Logan Pearsall Smith ( See Millionaire Mullahs by Paul Klebnikov FORBES Magazine)

Bonne Nuit ,



Darius Kadivar

Thank You Craig ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

"I Shall Return" - General MacArthur as he reiterates his intention to return to the Philippines.


Trailer of McArthur ( Starring Gregory Peck) :



ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

Welcome back :)

The Phantom Of The Opera

Ideas don't die...On either side!

by The Phantom Of The Opera on

For some seemingly awkward reasons Afghan's account has been blocked while some of its remarks have been "wiped off the map"; one of which was posted here in response to an inflammatory reply posted by DJ aka DK.

I personally don't think that advising someone to stay in his or her professional genre should provide enough ground for the removal of the comment let alone blocking the account.

Then it might have been for the observation about the fedora hat in the avatar and the optical resemblance to the fiddlers on Sirous Avenue in good ol'days. Maybe.  


Kadivar, a better question for you:

by Q on

Yes I think they have both readjusted some of their views since.

But have you readjusted any views since 10 days ago when you called Trita Parsi:

clueless Patriot and Last Minute Opponent to the IRI


Or for that matter, back when you said:

Baer is nothing but a double agent on the IRI payroll.
Now that the Americans are going to leave Iraq, Baer's arguments are simply a pretext to enhance Iranian influence in the region.

Are these better questions about "readjustment" of views?

You know, "in all fairness" ?


I am curious to know if they

by benross on

I am curious to know if they think differently about some of the issues after the rigged elections, it already seems so long ago.

So all those hoopla about rigged elections is coming from these bottomless analysis of Trita?!

All elections in IRI are rigged. This one was miscalculated in procedure, otherwise the real numbers were favouring Ahmadinejad anyway.

The outcome of this miscalculation was a popular uprising that wasn't in the plan of IRI, Trita or anybody else for that matter. Actually based on the analysis in this video, the uprising should have been considered as 'counter productive', and it could only be supported (without loosing face) if the results of the elections was considered 'rigged' as if Moosavi was the actual winner!

This whole thing stinks really bad.

But I agree with Darius, for these people, there is always a job in Washington DC. All they have to say is that 'it didn't work out the way I said because of internal dynamics'! 


Thanks DK jan

by IRANdokht on

After I saw this debate live at the Hammer museum, I purchased both books although I was a little bored with Robert Baer's speeches and arguments during the debate. I figured his writing might be different and to some degree it was. But Parsi's book was right on the money and I was sold! ;-) I had a little chat with Dr Parsi when he signed my book. That was the first time I met Dr Parsi in person and found him very down to earth, upbeat and friendly and above all very intelligent and well spoken.

I understand how you may disagree with some of the arguments he presents in his book, and I read your comment to Princess here where you do not agree that people might be worried about the opposition. I invite you to look at some of the comments and blogs written even on this website. It seems like a lot of the people can't wait to discuss how they'd kill all the akhounds, bassij, sepahis, and just about anyone who's ever worked with the IRI. The lady he spoke of, works in a government office in IRan, what is she to think? We both know that what Reza Pahlavi says is not the same as what his followers say. He's shown to be more moderate and democratic in his speeches than an average monarchist. For example, he says he respects Mossadegh as a great patriot in our history, but in some informal debates, I have noticed people who call themselves monarchists compare Mossadegh to AN and resort to unpleasant words when speaking of him. What RP says may very well be irrelevant! 

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for posting this very interesting clip. 



The Baer Book Was A Good Read

by NOT_AK69 on




Darius jan,

by Princess on

Both books have been on my reading list for a long time. I am even more intrigued now. I look forward to reading your review.




Darius Kadivar

Princess Jaan Indeed !

by Darius Kadivar on

Yes I think they have both readjusted some of their views since.

Like the French Say " Seul les Imbeciles ne Changent Pas" aka "Only Imbeciles don't change"

Evne if I don't share much of their analysis' I think we can agree that neither Bob Nor Trita are Imbeciles ...

I am reading Trita's Book actually which is interesting from a geo political perspective but I find that nearly everything he wrote regarding the Opposition in exile and particularly Reza Pahlavi to be very biaised and not based on any real evidence but rather "les Ont Dits" aka "what was said in certain circles". I may reproduce or write a review on what he says particularly regarding the opposition in exile which unlike the rest of his book was not truly researched.

He makes a similar comment when he says that by speaking to an employer of the IRanian government he concluded that she did not trust the opposition abroad and felt her own life would be at risk if there was a regime change.

I personally don't see Why ?

REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc... By DK

In addition even Karoubi and Moussavi admited that the Shah's Rule was less violent than that of the current government. Just another effort on their part and they will admit that the current regime ( and not just government) is far worse than the Shah's rule.

Anyways in all fairness both books respectively of Robert Baer and Trita Parsi are interesting reads even if I don't share these two authors perspectives prior to the elections on Iranian regime's flexibility.

Since they seem to have to look at the real nature of Iranian society and the regime from a different angle.

Well Trita was right on one thing though :

"On Capitol Hill ... Political Analysts will never lose their jobs however wrong their assessments of the situation in the region."

In that case I suppose Trita and Baer are No Exceptions to the rule ! ;0)


Darius Kadivar


Darius Kadivar

Begheir Az Koseh Sher Cheeh Dary Begeeh ?

I told you before and Will Repeat it now ... YOUR Comments Are Not Welcome on my blogs !

And YES I have Prejudice against Anonymous Shit Heads like YOU !

Particularly With Scary Masks !




Maaro az karo zandegi andakht

by Princess on

... but I really enjoyed this. Both Baer and Parsi made a lot of great points. I am curious to know if they think differently about some of the issues after the rigged elections, it already seems so long ago.

Thanks for sharing, Darius! 



Iran has to be stopped!

by فغان on

I don't know what's the use of a forum without a debate? This museum, whatever it is, could've saved money by inviting only one of these guys for rambling some nonsense over and over again.

I personally prefer the "before time-off" style of posts; let's go back to Farah dumping a bucket and so on.

The Pahlavis and all mullahs must disclose the source and the amount of their wealth.