Friday, October 28, 2011

Post #28 - Placing Blame

Is Iran part of an “Axis of Evil?” Is the United States “The Great Satan?” Or is our concept of an "evil empire" – conveniently located in that place (always over there) -- itself perhaps deficient?

Iran is a country where pro-American feelings remain strong among the people, in spite of a decades-long program of demonization not seen since the days of the “yellow peril”. (This effort has been carried on by both our governments, about the other.) Will it endure, even through more severe sanctions and clandestine forays into Iran? A June 26, 2006 article by Azadeh Moaveni (author of Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran, who writes for Time Magazine from Tehran) depicts a notable shift in opinion over the past few years. “A poll conducted in 2001” she wrote in 2005, "found that 74% of Iranians supported restoring ties with the United States…But today, the Great Satan is back to being, well, the Great Satan….The fact is, most people here, with images of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib fresh in their minds, would not trust the United States to conduct a responsible invasion…At this point, most people I talk to feel as a friend of mine recently described: ‘I would rather be oppressed by an Iranian than a foreigner.’” That was one change that was wrought in the aftermath of President Bush's "Axis" speech to Congress.

Let's be honest, we don't absolutely know whether or when Iran has been guilty of “meddling” (as the administration terms it) in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. There is evidence, the White House has said, that Iranian-made arms have made their way into Iraq and Afghanistan to be used by insurgents. Similarly, however, there is evidence that U.S.-made arms have made their way into Turkey to be used by the PKK, the Kurdish group that has been listed by the U.S., as well as Turkey and the EU, as a terrorist group. There is plenty of evidence that U.S.-supported forces (CIA beneficiaries) have been operating within Iran against the government there. It is a messy region, to be sure, and the borders are all quite porous.

An August 2007 Washington Post article quoted Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, then commander of US operations south of Baghdad, as saying, "50 members of an elite Iranian military unit" were training Shi'ite militiamen, yet he also said that "no Iranians have been captured in his area of command and that U.S. troops have never found any illegal weapons in two months of patrolling 125 miles of the Iran-Iraq border." The handful of Iranians who were apprehended around that time were not charged with any offense, and most were released and repatriated by mid-November of the same year.

Lynch also insisted that Sunni insurgents were using Iranian weapons, though he "did know how the weapons were obtained." The more puzzling question is why Iranians would be arming Sunnis who oppose their fellow Shi'ites in Iraq. It appears quite likely that the Saudis and others aided Sunni insurgent activities which were responsible for most of the U.S. casualties, yet we did not make public demands and aim public allegations at those countries. In fact, the administration that summer floated a new, massive arms deal, in which the United States was to supply $20 billion dollars of sophisticated new armaments to the Saudis. Another $30 billion dollars over 10 years for Israel was agreed to, expressly as a "counterbalance" to Iranian strength in the region.

Moreover, we know with complete certainty that we were guilty of the most egregious kind of "meddling" when we helped overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected government in the 1950’s.(More on that later.) Should they just let bygones be bygones?
Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, with President Truman at the White House, 1951

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