Iran 472

For me, any sensible discussion of Iran must accept a number of facts. I will set these out as Set A and Set B. Both sets are true. But ideologues of the right routinely discount Set A, while ideologues of the left routinely discount Set B. That is why most debate on Iran is inane.

Set A

Iranian Islamic fundamentalism allied to fierce anti-Americanism was born from CIA intervention to topple democracy and keep in power a ruthless murdering despot for decades, in the interests of US oil and gas companies

Iranian anti-Americanism was fuelled further by US support for US friend and ally Saddam Hussein who was armed to wage a murderous war against Iran, again in the hope of US access to Iran’s oil and gas

The US committed a terrible atrocity against civilians by shooting down an Iranian passenger jet

Iran is surrounded by US military forces and has been repeatedly threatened to the extent that the desire to develop a nuclear weapon is a reflex

There is monumental hypocrisy in condemning Iran’s nuclear programme while overlooking Israel’s nuclear weapons

Set B

Iran is governed by an appalling set of vicious theocratic nutters

Iran is not any kind of democracy. It fails the first hurdle of candidates being allowed to put forward meaningful alternatives

Hanging of gays, stoning of adulterers, floggings, censorship and pervasive control are not fine because of cultural relativism. Iran’s whole legislative basis is inimical to universal ideals of human rights.

Iran really is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme, though with some years still to go.

There are two very good articles on the current situation in Iran. One from the ever excellent Juan Cole. I would accept his judgement on the elections being rigged.

The other from Yasamine Mather, which puts it in another perspective.

I am not optimistic about the outcome of the popular protest.

472 thoughts on “Iran

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  • amk

    “Iran really is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme”

    Is it possible that Iran is going for the Japanese solution of having the ability to make nuclear weapons but not actually doing so? Rafsanjani (IIRC) made some comment about Iran only needing the ability to make nukes, not actual nukes.

    Another article, from Prof Gary Sick:

  • wcf

    I’m afraid that Israel may decide to take advantage of the growing instability in Iran, and will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

  • Anonymous

    The US congress legislated for $400 million to be set aside for ‘covert actions inside Iran’. This is a fact.

    The first shots I saw of the protesters on TV showed them all wearing green….i.e. another CIA-backed ‘colour revolution’ like the orange’ revolution in Ukraine, one in Burma (forget the colour) and a few more besides.

    This does not mean that there is no real and justified resistance inside Iran, only that we should not doubt that ‘our’ side are not only supporting dissent but also lying about it.

    (See: “How the spooks took over the News”)

    …..and there can be no doubt, they’re still at it (evil does not sleep).

    We should take heed of the saying (Luke 6:42, King James Bible):

    “How canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

    Democracy in the UK is an utter fraud. Why don’t we sort that one out before lecturing a people we have persecuted for the best part of a century on their failings.

    If they are led by lunatic and vicious religious zealots then that is yet another catastrophe for which we are at least partly responsible.

    Make the UK a true democracy and everybody will be simply desperate to copy us.

  • mary

    Totally agree anon 5.01. USUKIS’s hypocrisy is massive. We are incinerating human beings in a flash of energy by remotely controlled drones with the aid of RFID chips. How cruel and pre-meditated is that?

  • SJB

    Did you see Fisk’s article in The Independent? His long-time, trusted Iranian source stated: “… in the cities and in thousands of towns outside [Tehran], they voted overwhelmingly for Ahmadinejad.” He gives two examples of groups that benefited from Ahmadinejad’s actions: (1) three million poor women carpet-makers that now have full insurance; and (2) university courses for Azeri people (24% of the population) to obtain degrees in their own language.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Quote from an UK ex-diplomat posted in Teheran in the 1970s whom I met a decade later, at the height of the Iraq-Iran War and also at the height of the negative propaganda about Iran:

    “I’m not surprised they hate us. We had spies right through that society.”

    The CIA and SIS ran Iran from 1953 to 1979. They’re still trying to run it, and to ruin it.

    I agree with A and B and with the previous commentaries, too – though I wish I could read Cyrillic script.

  • David Wearing

    You would have to go some way into the depths of the extreme left before you encountered many people who accept your Set B. The vast majority of both the centre-left and the anti-imperialist left that I’m aware of would agree with those points. Lets not get into this Nick Cohn world of smearing the left as reflexive apologists for any anti-American tyrants. Those types of lefties are little more than a gobshite minority.

    Set A, by contrast, is ignored not just by the right but by pretty much the entire mainstream.

    But back to Set B – one possible exception is the point on nuclear weapons. Its worth noting that Juan Cole, who I also greatly admire, doesn’t take it as read that Iran has such a program. Washington’s own National Security Estimate says Iran ended its work on nukes several years ago. And the IAEA doesn’t appear to have any evidence of enrichment being transferred to weaponisation programs.

    I say this merely to stress that this is a grey area – I wouldn’t want to say with certainty whether Iran was or wasn’t developing nukes. In a sense its a moot point since (a) Iran may simply want to master enrichment to the point where it can get up a weapons capability in short order, and (b) if Iran is developing nukes we can quite easily understand why, as you rightly point out, and know what to do to remove that motivation.

  • Abe Rene

    In dictatorships, a country’s leaders ignore the will of the people. But Iran at least claims to follow it. Holding a fraudulent election should therefore contain the seeds of the present regime’s eventual downfall.

  • Uzbekistani

    One more proof of HYPOCRACY of American Democracy: In Iran 64% people voted for Ahmadinajad, in Uzbekistan Karimov rigged the votes 100% and violated the Constitution by running for how many times God only knows. Yet, not only they (in the West) haven’t made criticism to the address of Mr Islam Karimov but they are in fact licking the arse of Uzbek dictator Mr Karimov by sending high level offcicals to Tashkent. Why? Because they need the airbase in this country to finish up with the taliban in neighbouring Afhganistan. When the americans criticised the Uzbeki regime in 2005 for killing the innocent people, they did not know that they would be kicked out of the base. Moreover, they did not expect that the taliban would emerge the stronger and more resilient. Now, they are back at the backyards of Mr Karimov. Unfortunately, they lack understanding of one important moment: the war in Afganistan is a leverage for Karimov to keep the West and americans in need for him. He he doesn’t want the war to end, at the same as he doesn’t want the taliban to win it. So, he is a clever old fox to use americans for strenghthening his power. 10 years ago I believed in democracy. Now, I undesrtand it as a tool in the hands of military powers to conquer the poor countries, at times by using puppets in the power, even if they are people killers.

  • lwtc247

    I can honestly say I’ve never met a dumb Iranian, other than those of a western bent.

    And of those who prefer to focus on Set A, I’ve not seen anyone dimsiss Set B. Set A (i.e. our meddling) is within our sphere of influence. Set B isn’t.

    Go figure which one deserves our focus.

    However, I must say Craig, claims of a weapons program… It would be interresting to see what unbiased sources provide enough evidence to support that theory.

  • Anonymous

    @ David Wearing

    Some know what to do but NOONE will do it. There all bought and paid for and have been for some time.

  • Courtenay Barnett


    In a sense I think that you are on the money, but I beg to differ on the flip side of the Iranian coin.

    Your sets A and B are fine by me. However, implicit in all you are saying is the suggestion that political constructs this side of the world, once satisfactorily exported/imported, offer the Iranians a viable prospect for some sort of viable change. There I part ways with you.

    Do you believe that this “green revolution”, or intended one ?” is anything more or less than the West wanting to be able to dominate again ?” when we strip everything down to raw global power politics. Mossadegh in 1953 was a democrat, pro-western, building or trying to build Western institutions and modernise his country. It was indeed an unholy Anglo-American alliance that punished him for setting about nationalising Iranian oil, despite the World Court ruling that he could legitimately do this. Then we have the horrors of the US backed 8 years war with Saddam as paid puppet. With realities like these, shouldn’t the Iranians be free of Western political interference?With all that you say:-

    “Hanging of gays, stoning of adulterers, floggings, censorship and pervasive control are not fine because of cultural relativism. Iran’s whole legislative basis is inimical to universal ideals of human rights.”

    And I believe these things to be as true for Iran as they are for the US backed Saudi Arabia ?” I still do not see any hope for the Iranians embracing what either Britain or the US have on offer for Iran’s political future. If invaded neighbouring Iraq is supposed to be some sort of model ?” the Iranians are better off with what they have ?” blemishes and all. The fa

  • avatar singh

    who is the west -meaining anglosaxon scvumbags-to ask as to which country is democtratic or not? is briitan democratic?

    does democracy mean piracy and loot of others?

    the briitsh media BBC was urging gore to not cvhallenge florida elelction result 2 days after the eelction. the americansd have conssitently stolen their elelction.

    anglosaxon regularly install unelelctabl;e person in other countries.

    even amalliki in iraq was sintalled because bastard balir went to iraq to not support the first elelcted prime minster who were chosen by the MPs there.

    the tactics of anglosaxon scumbags is to install some stooge through fraud or propaganda -then if theat is not possible then hitre a crwod and use that rented crownd to destablise the country.

    when the anglosaxon bastards thought theat opposotion could win iran elelction then they showed eellction process 0but as soon as the iranins rejected the western stooges -the media started doing propaganda to disctredit the legiti macy of the elction.

    thwe iranian president has won with much larger margin then the bastard nbalir-who must eb given death d=senentence-couldever hope for.

    “What was left for america to do was install maleable stooges inside the thrirld world countries. escpeally those types who are unelctable and have no mass base of their own– in other words who are not elelctable democratically but installed from above through media and other manipulations.

    this manmohan singh in india fulffiled that criteria of being unliked and unelctable insignificant person who was willing to act on arder of his american masters -if they had asked him to turn communist he would have done isa sad refletion on india that since 1986 we have has only weaklings as our prime minsiters and fincnace minsiters not to speak of non mentionable defence misnters who made sure that indians nuclear and missle programme got stuck at 1986.”

    this manmohan sihngh has not been eelcted by indian people-but as he is a certified west asttoge you donot hear about that.

  • Uzbek

    Dear Craig,

    excuse me that I am posting this as comments, I don’t have your email address.

    Glad to see that you have courage to go for election again.

    Just wanted to inform you of this:

    They are going mad. And still, I don’t see anyone except you who can talk about it in the West. In case this is irrelevant, apologize me.

    Would be nice to have your email. Just to inform you of some news.

    Best regards!

  • lwtc247

    @ Courtenay Barnett.

    Excellent comments.

    At home, Democracy is a poisoned pill(a supposed pill). However ‘democracy for foreigners’ is set to an entirely different standard. The democracy that is tolerable is the one that the west can get it’s teeth into.

    John Perkins (of Confessions of an Economic Hitman) reveals this perfectly will with regard to Latin America and Indonesia. Pilger too, including South America. Steven Kinser (Overthrow) extending it to the Philippines and Hawaii and to Iran in All the Shah’s men.

    Chomsky wrote recently:

    “The term ‘moderate’ has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands….”

    In this context, “democracy” is clearly ‘moderates’ equivalent.

  • ingo

    The only support for a weapons programm I have heard of is a twisted double bluff, the handing over of US nuclear bomb blue prints to the Iranians via a russian double agent in Vienna.

    I read the story in the Spiegel, but there are other sources that agree with the guist of the story.

    This could come straight out of the creators of the war on terror

    handbook article1)

    If you want to fight off the nuclear ambitions and weapons programme of a state, then you must at first make sure that they have the knowledge, materials and the plans.

    What the US did, or did not forsee, or failed to come to terms with is that these mistakes must have been found by Irans exquisite mathematicians.

    So now we have provided them with the nuclear means to help themselves,as I’m sure that the Shah was somehwat in ahurry and could not take the nuclear research and advances with him, the basis for a nuclear programm was formed, then we thrown in the blue prints, just in case.

    The ironie is that we believe to have a legitamit option to sanction Iran, for developing a nuclear programm. A country that has a nuclear Russia to the north, a rampaging Taliban with a struggling Pakistani army trying to make sure they can’t lay their hands on Pakistans nukes to the east.

    To the south we have two US fleets permanently stationed with a french contingent, both armed with nuclear weapons. Then there is Israel to the north west, a rogue state that does not listen to anybody and holds a secret nuclear arsenal with bouncers in charge of foreign affairs.

    This plan might be considered fiendish but its not very clever.

    We hear a lot about stalled peace plans in Israel, today Netanyahu tries desperately to create new demands for a Palestinian statehood, the usual patronising bit without first negotiating, but were are the results of apparent ongoing talks with Ahmadinedjads administration and the US, have we waited for the election results and possible change? Have we not got a plan B, because one thing I’m sure about is, we must keep in dialogue, change comes from engagement and talk, bilateral trade, cultural exchanges, the more the better.

    To stoope to the lows of a manufactured western consent that directs our relations with Arabs, that overlooks the slavery in Saudi, that ignores how females or homosexuals are treated there, but want to make points about it against Iran, is not necessarry on here.

    Thanks Courtney for showing us the amount of money that is invested in creating terror inside Iran, it needs saying and stopping.

  • eddie

    Craig Your A and B are both good, but there is a danger that some people will say that B is due to, or even justified by, A, i.e. Iran’s theocratic fascist regime is the result of our meddling and serve us right. Iran’s population is overwhelmingly young and has no memory of the Shah. The election has clearly been rigged and the majority of the population want reform and a better relationship with the West. Morevoer, the tyranny of the present regime is far worse than anything petpetrated by the Shah – not least the highest execution rate per head of any country in the world.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    No, eddie, that is not true. The shah’s regime was a heinous one, SAVAK was brutal and efficient. Don’t try to minimise that. Iran has independence and the USA and UK want to take that away. That’s the key point. They may not have direct personal memory of the shah, but they bloody well know what happened and is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan – anywhere where the USA has had its way. Have you forgotten WWII? I haven’t, even though I wasn’t born then. Do not try to paint em as a supporter of theocracy. I do not agree with theocracy. And Craig’s Point B covers that anyway. Yes, the Iranians want a good relationship with the West – but NOT at the cost of becoming a colony again.

  • technicolour

    Just to nit-pick, the Americans certainly don’t want to take away Iran’s independence. They don’t want a continuation of any war. That’s why they elected Obama. I doubt the UK would really go for it, either.

    It makes me wonder who the politicians think they’re convincing with this sabre rattling. Each other?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Technicolour – you say ” Just to nit-pick, the Americans certainly don’t want to take away Iran’s independence. They don’t want a continuation of any war. That’s why they elected Obama.”

    The Americans did indeed elect Obama – but who controls American power? Is it exclusively the people who elect Obama or the military-industrial complex.

    I read of a figure of some 700 military bases that the US has around the world. If corporations are being funded trillions of dollars to produce more arms and weaponrry to be deployed at these bases or in new wars – what powwer do the people have to stop a machine that controls Obama?

  • anon

    They don’t want a continuation of any war.

    No they want to wrap up Pakistan quick like they did Iraq with what is politely described on this blog as false flag operations.

    It is absolutely McChrystal clear how the US intends to operate in Pakistan. Every scholar who was blown up, or market place bomb, or police station revenge attack or Hotel ‘blast’ in Iraq was the work of USUKIS. Their generals have been floundering around in the Afghanistan project for eight years trying to win the thing militarily.

    Lahore, being so close to Armritsar is an easy target for false flag operations especially when the late scholar Naeem may God have mercy on him recently made a fatwa against India that every single Muslim in Pakistan should defend their country against them in the event of hostility from them.

    Every single voice of reason in Iraq from any side of the sectarian fire, which Tony Blair deliberately ignited there, who had called for people to recognise the perpetrators of the atrocities as the UKUSIS aggressors, was summarily executed. Thousands of scholars and other voices of calm were quashed in order to allow the flames of civil war to scar Iraq for generations. Same as Africa, same as the British Raj. Same same same same same.

    Aliens is too good a word for Cheney and Brizinsky, Bush and Blair.

  • lwtc247


    “The election has clearly been rigged” – You have no proof.

    “the majority of the population want reform” – Again you have no proof of that, but there appears to be a 2 to 1 ratio of the electorate want to retain Ahmadinejad.

    “the majority of the population want… a better relationship with the West.” – What “West”? I presume you mean predominantly the United States and the Britain? And any improvement in relations, comes about by the USUK changing it’s policy to Iran, not Iran changing it’s policy to the USUK. Why should Iran have to yield to USUK hegemony?

    “the tyranny of the present regime is far worse than anything petpetrated by the Shah” – The Iranian govt faces discontent from some members of its population (some of which receive US support and funding: see anon 5.01, June 14th) But to call it fascist but you repeatedly scold people who call the USUK fascist administrations shows yet again your Kiplingesque mind.

    I half suspect you work in the FCO.

    Page 8 of AI’s 2008 report ( – pdf)

    The following countries carried out executions in 2008: China (at least 1,718), Iran (at least

    346), Saudi Arabia (at least 102), USA (37), Pakistan (at least 36), Iraq (at least 34),

    Viet Nam (at least 19), Afghanistan (at least 17), North Korea (at least 15), Japan (15),

    Yemen (at least 13), Indonesia (10), Libya (at least 8), Bangladesh (5), Belarus (4), Egypt

    (at least 2), Malaysia (at least 1), Mongolia (at least 1), Sudan (at least 1), Syria (at least 1),

    United Arab Emirates (at least 1), Bahrain (1), Botswana (1), Singapore (at least 1) and

    St Kitts and Nevis (1).

    Population Iran: 70m (2006, wiki)

    Polulation USA: 306m (2008, wiki)

    death sentence per capita:

    USA: 0.121

    Iran: 4.94

    IS eddieTroll(TM) right then? That’s contestable because what eddieTroll(TM) doesn’t give you, is the big picture: The number of deaths caused by the US (and UK) across the globe every year via foreign and economic policy.

    That’s what eddieTrolll(TM)’s do. They cherry pick “bad” points about others while utterly whitewashing the crimes of the state which they support. So they will use stats like domestic death sentences to demonize.

    As for the rest of us, we should really tread with caution as to how we criticise other countries legal framework. If the majority of people there subscribe to a religious basis for the punishment of homosexuals, then that is their democratic right to do so. By criticising it, we are not respecting their democracy. Criticism of ‘fair trials’ is legitimate however because their legal system is supposed to provide fair trials.

    And when Ahmadinejad won for the first time, people didn’t respect the Iranian peoples choice then, still ignoring the fact that he was democratically elected, calling the country a dictatorship. A similar story can be told of Hamas and Chavez.

    And why oh why is IRAN always the subject of negative discussion? Why not look at how the Jews in Iran really love Iran. How the Iranian parliament RESERVES seats for the Jewish people there.

    P.S. Surprizingly, Uzbekistan is said in Amnesty International 2008 report, to have abolished the death penalty. Craig… any comments?

  • opit

    And I still can’t believe the mindset of many so-called ‘analysts’.

    Despite knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that secrecy and dirty tricks are centuries-old attributes of both the UK and USA there is the naivite of thinking you know whether you’re punched or bored in opinions about a place where SAS and other black ops have been going on literally for deacdes.

    Credibility. 1960 Cuban Missile Crisis – Sovs installing nuke missiles in Cuba in response to US installing same in Turkey.

    Lately : Russia raising holy hell over proposed missile silos in what was Eastern Bloc – contrary to agreements made prior to withdrawing land forces from Eastern Europe.

    Nobody much pays attention to Russian warnings about not mucking with Iran : couched in terms protecting it as much as of it was part of Russia.

    Russia even leaked a plan to deploy floating Arctic nuclear platforms – which you don’t hear much about.

    Given all that : can you imagine the kind of proof I would require to convince me that Russia knowingly gave Iran the capacity to generate WMD : considering its proximity ?

    Anyone believing that : I have title to a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to negotiate on.

    If Ahmadinejad really has made a coup : the CIA is the first sponsor I would look for. Otherwise…there really must be other candidates, hm ?

  • Anonymous


    Well done renaming ‘eddie’……who’s main argument for rejecting the 9/11 was an inside job thesis is ‘how come no one has spoken about their involvement in such a crime’.

    Well, eddie, it’s your lucky day.

    Someone has……one of the little people……Lloyd England, a cabdriver at the scene of the Pentagon crash. Watch this short film……still not convinced? ….thought so, troll:

  • Edo

    Totally agree with the comments from Courtenay Barnett and LWTC247 on this one…

    Set A = What we did,

    Set B = What we say ‘they’re’ doing.

    As with any dispute that seems plagued with ongoing disagreement, it seems the only course of action is to address the things ‘we’re’ responsible for, in the hope that the Iranians do the same.

    This coupled with an acceptance of the other’s actions seems, to me at least, the only sensible option.

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