Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 6, 2006
WAR: Forked Tongue
Amir Taheri parses a NY Times op-ed by Iran's UN ambassador to observe the ways in which the Iranian regime's diplomats present a deceptive face to the West:
Taqqiyyah, a Shiite theological term, advises the individual and the community not only to hide their true beliefs but even to profess the opposite where this is to their advantage. Kitman, a politico-theological terms, means never revealing one's true intentions, especially when dealing-with non-Shiites and "the Infidel".
Muhammad-Baqir Majlesi, the most prolific of ayatollahs, has a famous saying: "Not to be exposed, adopt the prevailing colour!"
The ambassador, remembering his Majlesi, started by editing his own name, which is Muhammad-Jawad Zarif, by dropping the Muhammad bit which, so he must have thought, sounds threatening to American readers. Next he described himself as Iran's Ambassador, not the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic as mentioned in his official diplomatic credentials. He made only one reference to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describing him as "leader", and ignoring his titles of "Supreme Guide" and "Regent of the Hidden Imam."
The ambassador also referred to the "Iranian Parliament", something that does not exist. What exists is the Islamic Consultative Assembly. But once again, taking his clue from Majlesi, he thought that such a phrase might frighten American readers. Although he represents a regime which uses the words Islam and Islamic more frequently than Iran and Iranian, Zarif did not once use "Islam" or "Islamic". Nor did he cite "Imam" Khomeini's name which features in every single official discourse in Tehran as a leitmotiv.
More interestingly, he made no mention of President Ahmadinejad who is, after all, his ultimate boss under the Khomeinist constitution. One again, it was Majlesi who advised Zarif that mention of Ahmadinejad to an American audience might be ill advised.
Last but not least, the Khomeinist ambassador presented Iran's recent history as a seamless continuum by recalling that Iran had not invaded any country in the past 250 years.
What he did not mention is the fact that the current regime regards all of Iran's pre-Khomeinist history, including the period mentioned by Zarif, as an era of "zulm" or "darkness", and thus something evil to castigate rather than applaud.
Dishonest propaganda and doublespeaking diplomats are, of course, hardly innovations in international affairs, but it's another reminder nonetheless of the value of blandishments offered by the Iranian regime and its apologists.
Sounds like the ambassador wold be right at home in our Senate.
Irish, I know you are joking, but there are whole groups of people who actually think that. When you think of Iran, it is important I think to substitute "Afghanistan, but with technological capapbility" is accurate. And while we may cynically think our government istitutions are no good, they do work, albeit in spurting ways. Not always right, they do admit it, collectivley, but never separately. That is human nature.
We got tired of Republicans running things, so FDR came in, and then we got tired of Democrats, then Republicans, on and on. I think the public is getting tired of the republican act, andthe reaction to the stupid $100 gas rebate garbage is proof of that. Congress seems to understand what we are really saying is, "OK, you've all pranced, it's been going on forever, now solve the base problem." It's how we do things.
I bet most Iranians are tired of this as well. They can't change the regime though, can't they? So no more cynical, "Well Congess, or Bush, or the Courts, or (fill in) are just as bad." NO THEY ARE NOT. Maybe they want to be, which I really doubt--and cynical me does think Cheney and Rummy do--but this is not Iran in any way, shape or form. Fundamentalism here rises and falls in waves, alwayts has, always will. It happened during revival meetings in the 19th century, the Scopes Trial happened (intenionally) during one, that's part of what we are.
We can shoot form the hip, we also sadly get into wars we shouldn't, but at our worst, we have an immigrant problem because the streets, and our hearts, really are paved with gold. Does Iran have an immigrant problem?
I spoke in jest and did not do a good job of conveying my meaning. The ambassador delivered a piece full of double-speak not unlike many of our Senators. Politics in our country has become more about spin than doing the work of the people. It make one ponder term limits and the effects they could have on our political landscape. Maybe if they knew their time was limited, they would work a little more on doing their job instead of posturing.
Irish, I said I knew you were joking. While I support the two term limit for President, I don't like it for anyone else. When you are a chief executive, be it Mayor of NY or President, you have a chance to make your mark, not mark time, and hopefully you make the most of it. Sounds good for all, but as landlord in the Occupied Territories of the People's Republic of New York, I see the insane damage that term limits has wrought to the NY City Council. Those locally elected morons want so much to make their own mark, only the veto of a mayor keeps them from passing some of the most inane legislation since the myth that pi would now equal 3.
So no term limits. When they are so bad, like Tom Delay, then even their biggest friends will abandon them.
There may be a downside, somehow we need to get past the partisan BS and get back to what is best for the country. Neither party is right all the time and while I definately fall into the Conservative camp, the Republicans are not getting the job done either. I have never seen a group squander an opportunity to govern like this bunch has. They are a bunch of sheep without a leader it appears. Makes you want to throw out the whole bunch and start over.