Thursday, January 24, 2013

Post #400 - Quiz, continued

7. Saddam Hussein made the most extensive use of chemical weapons against:

A. The Kurdish
B. Sunni Muslim Arabs
C. Shi'ite Muslim non-Arabs
D. The Turks
E. None of the above

C -- Iraq's neighbors in Iran. There are still about 50,000 Iranians, even today, who are living with the effects of the chemical weapons, as pulmonary cripples, dealing with blindness or other conditions. There are lakes in western Iran that are still incapable of supporting life. The chemicals he used were coming from companies in the United States and Germany. The United Nations eventually confirmed their use (illegal under international law), but not until after the war had ended. A few business people in Germany were prosecuted, but none here. It is important, I think, to remember that Iran's leaders decided not to use their own WMD's during the Iran-Iraq War, even though Tehran and other major cities were being bombed daily and thousands lost their lives.

8. The country that gave the most support to the Taliban in their fight against the Soviets:

A. Pakistan
B. United States
C. Iran
D. Saudi Arabia
E. None of the above

B. The United States.  Eventually, we thought better of that. Haleh Esfandiari (director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, who was a prisoner in Iran a couple of years ago write in 2005: “In 1997, when [Shi'ites in Hezara] were massacred and a number of diplomats were killed [by the Taliban] in Mazar-i Sharif, Iran massed its troops at the border with Afghanistan.” She contrasts the situation of the two neighbors at that time: "While Pakistan had relations with and condoned the actions of the Taliban, Iran condemned the Taliban’s treatment of women and the excesses that were perpetrated under the name of Islam." In the same Wilson Center report, Dr. Vali Nasr (at the time, Associate Chair of Research in national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Post-Graduate School) was quoted by Esfandiari as saying:

"After 9/11…Iran’s objectives included…rekindling a dialogue with Washington based on cooperation in Afghanistan…Iran would benefit from a stable Afghanistan and a central government that can control the flow of drugs into Iran and entice Afghan refugees in Iran to return to Afghanistan…Iranians found the U.S. to be in no mood to mend fences with Iran; in fact, the U.S. was buoyed by its victory in Afghanistan and became keen to challenge Tehran’s policies. This realization changed Iran’s strategic objectives in Afghanistan. Iran began to view long-term U.S. presence in Afghanistan, a pro-American government in Kabul, and more generally a centralized Afghanistan state as strategic threats."

9. The largest number of suicide bombers has been:

A. Sri Lankan
B. Saudi
C. Palestinian
D. Iranian
E. Afghan

Iran should not even be on this list; there have been no Iranian suicide-bombers that I have heard about. Sri Lanka likely leads that list, being the first to use this tactic, in their long-running civil war; the last time I was in Colombo, there were troops on every single block of the downtown area, and the hotel where I stayed was bombed the week after I left . Palestinians and Afghans would come next. Saudis have certainly been implicated in the recruitment of many such bombers, in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Also left off the list: Iraqis, who might even come in second.

The "suiciders" in Iran were the young men who plunged into the frontlines of the Iran-Iraq War, literally "laying down their lives for their friends and countrymen." A huge cemetery outside Tehran is full of them -- 14-year-olds who will never get any older, 17-year-olds who never had a chance to raise a family.

10. The United States has military stationed in which country adjacent to Iran?

A. Afghanistan
B. Iraq
C. Turkmenistan
D. Pakistan
E. Turkey
F. All of the above

The answer is F. It is important to remind ourselves how the world looks when you are in Iran, looking out. Rather like being in a circled wagon train, with the Indians massed on the edge of the buttes on all sides. But, more important even than the military presence is the impact of sanctions on the people of Iran. Asne Seierstad, a Norwegian journalist reporting from Baghdad in early 2003 gave this analysis in her book A Hundred and One Days: Fear and Friendship in a War Zone:

"Sanctions were aimed at enfeebling the regime but have actually made people more dependent on it. Sanctions have isolated the country from the outside world and have made it easier to reward loyalty and punish deviation. It is virtually impossible to operate on any large scale without the regime keeping track…

A physician friend of mine at the G.W. University Medical Center, Dr. Nader Sadeghi, found, using UNICEF figures tracking child mortality rates since the 1960’s, that infant mortality in Iraq increased from 40 per 1000 live births to over 100 between 1991 and the beginning of the U.S.-led Iraq War; mortality in children between the ages of 1 and 5 increased from 50 per 1000 (in 1990) to 125, while the comparable figure in the United States or Canada was less than 10. The instances of serious malnutrition and chronic diarrhea in the first sixteen months of occupation were above levels found in Haiti, where I have done some medical outreach in poor villages and have seen the levels of deprivation that are prevalent there. A humanitarian aid group, Save the Children, estimated that by 2005, one Iraqi child out of every eight was not making it to his or her fifth birthday. Sadeghi extrapolated from the historical data in Iraq to the potential impact in Iran, under such a sanctions regime: "There are 1,171,000 live births in Iran per year... [Under similar sanctions] 80,000 more infants will die each year. 100,000 more children between 1 and 5 will die per year."

11. Which nation has invaded a country in the Middle East in the past century?

A. Iraq
B. United States
C. Israel
D. Turkey
E. All of the above

The answer is E, all of the above. Notice who is missing?

Speaking of Israel, lets not forget that the former Iranian government, under the Shah of Iran, had significant interchange with Israel, further complicating the way Iranians view that country. In fact, some of this extended even into the post-Islamic Revolution era. A book by Trita Parsi, PhD, published in 2007, presents a superb summary of this period. Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States lays out the schizophrenic overt/covert interface between post-revolutionary Iran and Israel, which included exchange of intelligence, commerce in technology and weapons, migration from one country to another and joint training exercises -- while the public rhetoric on both sides was often abrasive and derogatory. On both sides, broad geopolitical interests have seemingly meant far more than ideology when dealing with the other nation. The height of this pragmatism was the Iran-Contra affairs, when the U.S. used Israel to supply weapons to Iran, during the Reagan presidency. Such a rapprochement could happen again, once leaders are convinced that it is in their national interest.

12. Match the countries and the estimated number of nuclear warheads held by each:

A. North Korea   1. 240
B. Iran                  2. 0
C. Israel               3. 70-90
D. United States   4. 5 - 15
E. Pakistan           5. 1790
F. China                6. 200

I left off the list Number Two: the Russian Federation, as well as the US allies such as France and the UK. Our country alone has bombs that are the equivalent of 200,000 Hiroshimas. Annually, the US and its allies spend about a trillion dollars on military -- 20 times the cost of K through 12 public education in our entire country. What are we so afraid of? Clearly, just having the world's strongest military power and the widest presence is not enough to keep us safe, so you'd think we would try a different way.

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