By Michael J. Smith on Friday February 24, 2012 08:04 PM

Robert Naiman, a guy alternately pilloried and applauded here, has gotten himself into the SMBIVA penalty box again:

Largely missing from the recent political debate [about Iran], until now, has been a full-throated defense of diplomatic engagement with Iran towards negotiated agreements that would resolve or mitigate international concerns about its disputed nuclear program, thereby pushing back the prospect of military confrontation.

But that could change. Representatives Keith Ellison [D-MN] and Walter Jones [R-NC] are currently circulating a Congressional letter to President Obama urging the president to redouble U.S. efforts towards a diplomatic agreement.

I love the image of "a full-throated defense of diplomatic engagement": Yeah, I wear striped pants. You gotta problem wit dat?

But what really amazes me about Naiman's piece is that although he concedes the widely-reported and uncontroversial fact that the US government does not believe Iran is trying to build a bomb, he nevertheless persists in speaking of some phantasmal "concerns" the US has which might somehow be "addressed" by something short of exhuming the Shah and propping his putrid corpse back up on the Peacock Throne. Surely it is clear, is it not, that the "concern" the US has with Iran is that it escaped from clienthood 35 years ago; and the only way this "concern" could be "addressed" is by restoring it to clienthood.

More confusion:

A key part of the story is that we've had a one-sided political debate about Iran....If we could get 40 Members of the House to sign this letter, including 5 to 10 Republicans, that would be a good start. Insider D.C. press, at least, would report it; Ellison and Jones would have their profiles raised as voices for diplomatic engagement; and to some degree and at long last, the debate in the media would have two sides.
Well, no, it wouldn't. Two sides would mean that one side was saying: This bomb scare is bogus, a pretext for imperial aggression. Iran is a sovereign state. It confronts an aggressive and half-crazed nuclear-armed adversary clearly bent on dominating the region by any means necessary. Leave Iran alone.

But here the two sides seem to be all about different means of achieving the same end, namely a compromise -- preferably a fatal one -- of Iran's sovereignty. Here's what the two Congressional soup-hounds say in their "full-throated" letter -- I leave visualization of the epithet up to the reader:

Now that the international community has enacted the strongest sanctions against Iran to date, we must redouble our diplomatic efforts to achieve the transparency measures that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program remains a civilian one.
"Transparency" is good, isn't it? Who could argue against transparency? But sovereign governments do not operate transparently. They keep their inner counsels secret. They don't open their weapons stockpiles to nosey-parkers from other countries, they don't advertise their troop dispositions, they don't provide blueprints for their weapons or even publish details about their power grids. We're to insist on "transparency" from Iran but not from Israel or India or Pakistan, not to mention France and England and so on.

Of course what gives the game away most clearly is the pairing of "sanctions" with diplomatic engagement. This makes the "diplomatic engagement" look a lot like those YouTube videos of cops beating an unarmed man, prostrate on the ground, while yelling over and over, "Stop resisting!"

Comments (10)


Modest Proposal:

Iran to invite Pakistan to operate several nuclear missile bases along the border of Iran and Iraq, sort of like US bases in Germany. A few dozen deliverable nukes rather closer to the Zionist state under the full control of the Pakistani armed forces with the operating costs covered by deliveries of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan.

At that point everyone can start faking mutual respect.

The Iranians, then, need no nukes, but, in a sense, have them. The few square miles effectively ceded to Pakistan should be of little concern to such a huge nation as Iran. The Pakistanis will feel proud to have stuck a peace-promoting thumb in the eye of Uncle Sam, who has been violating their sovereignty, thus regaining much of the self respect lost in recent years.

Iran can proceed with their nuclear energy program, burying everything as deeply as their hearts desire and inviting the IAEA to come on down and look whenever they want.

Peter Ward:

So the GF got me watching the Golden Globes where "A Separation" won best foreign film. The film (I gather) tells the melodramatic story of the tension between finding a better life for the couple's daughter abroad or staying and caring for the Alzheimer's-afflicted father. And it's set in Iran. In other words, Art House gold.

Of course, one suspects the win as much to with a sense of patronizing sympathy for the oppressed Iranians as artist merit. However that may be, watching director Asghar Farhadi walk to the stage to accept the award I felt a very genuine sense of tension. What would he do? -- the US's threats of attack -- vain though they may be -- couldn't be far from the surface of his mind. Bury whatever integrity he might have and politely efface the topic? Create an embarrassing scene and ruin his fifteen minutes of Art House fame? ... Well, he chose a comprise -- and yet, what he achieved with subtlety was perhaps far more eloquent and pointed than calling the Academy (or whatever the GG equivalent is) a bunch of imperialistic hypocrites, as I would have liked.


Why don't Iranians build 'a false wall' to separate the front lobby of their nukes plant from the assembly floor and shipping areas before inviting US observers to pay a visit? It seems fairly easy to jaw-jaw your way to victory over American negotiators through such a gambit, with some "Talmudic-like discussion" over definitions thrown into the mix to seal the case.

To restate the obvious, if the US insisted on transparency from the Eretz, it would soon follow that the "only democracy in the region" would no longer serve the purpose of being run by a rogue's gallery of ineptitude and parochialism, whose actions "forced" the enlightened and benighted leaders of the West to come to its rescue by staving off the rapey schwarztes intent on sullying its democratic and Jewish virtues.


Had a good chat with an Iranian cabbie here in NY the other day, and he made your very point exactly, MJS: "They don't care about our nukes, they don't like that we're independent and that they can't take our oil and tell us what to do." Not to get all talking-with-man-on-the-street patronizing, but in a 15 minute chat, this guy clarified what hours and hours and hours of NPR and NYT "analysis" and thousands of pages of think tank white papers obfuscate.

Two questions I invariably ask a cabbie: "Where you from?" And: "Whaddya think about ___?" The replies are invariably illuminating deployment deeply encouraging.


He also noted: "Look how far we've come since independence." And: "The Israelis aren't crazy, they're smart. They're too smart to do something stupid like attack us."

Al Schumann:

Yeah, CZ, but Tom Friedman's cabbie told him that the middle class Iranians—who are liberal, like Tom—want nothing more than a chance to play on the level economic playing field of the global flat earth. Then he gave Tom a balsa wood replica of the Peacock Throne, which he'd carved while solving calculus problems on his voice-controlled iPad.


Al, I know, I thought of Mustache Man when I posted that comment, fearful of evoking him. I suspect the difference is, my cabbies are actual people, not the imaginary ones rattling around in Tom's head. Also, he probably gets furnished with company car service, and maybe the drivers have learned to spout the company line or to tell the likes of Mustache Man what he wants to hear. Flat-earth chatter no doubt yields a decent tip.

Of course, cabbies, like all of us, say all sorts of things. Happens that I've encountered some astute ones of late.

Al Schumann:

I couldn't resist and there's no doubt you're right about Tom's make-believe interlocutors. Somehow he always manages to find the one who fits his column's needs.

There's some serious juice to your encounters. People who have been spared an elite education are usually much more perspicacious about the doings of Uncle. They're not invested in the cruise missile mindset. I think it's likely that a random sample, drawn from the streets, and drafted as legislators, would form a far more humane and clear-headed government than our elected one. They could hardly do worse!


Al, the fact that the vast majority of the world knew that the I-raq "liberation" was an oil grab, and either doesn't care that Iran might want nukes, or thinks they have every right to have 'em, are two pieces of evidence --- off the top of my head ---- that support your theory.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Friday February 24, 2012 08:04 PM.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31