Archive for July 14th, 2009

Clever half truths.

14 July 2009

Handle with care.

An article by Fareed Zakaria has appeared in the Indian Express under the heading ‘Handle with care’. I could not overcome the temptation to use it recursively to apply to his article itself at the end of my own reading of it. While following the link provided would take readers to full article, he has essentially articulated his thoughts on how Democracy, Religion & Nationalism are the three most patent forces that are shaping the political landscape today. His focus is on Iran post the recent elections, the results of which have been hotly contested by significant numbers through street protests in the face of often brutal crackdown by authorities. Fairness of election result is overwhelmingly doubted outside Iran, and may be even inside. Will these protests lead to regime change in Iran is what he grapples with in the article? Unlike the situation in 1989, he contends, when all the 3 forces were arraigned against regimes in Soviet Union & Eastern Europe making possible the changes that swept over there; in Iran by contrast democratic yearnings alone are in opposition to the establishment. Besides his analytical exertions in the article, he has shared 2 interesting nuggets of information.

“……were Iraq-based Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to issue a fatwa condemning Tehran in any way, it would be a seismic event, probably resulting in the regime’s collapse. Remember, Sistani is Iranian, probably more revered in the entire Shia world than any other ayatollah………” .

“…….And it is worth remembering that the United States still funds guerrilla outfits and opposition groups that are trying to topple the Islamic Republic. Most of these are tiny groups with no chance of success, funded largely to appease right-wing congressmen……….”

Zakaria however omits some important facts when presenting his arguments. It could be excused as normal lapses of memory all of us suffer when each lapse is seen in isolation. But when seen together as to which facts were omitted, a pattern emerges in the method. Selectively inconvenient facts are axed. Since it is difficult to put this down as a random event – the odds are too high –, one has no choice but to conclude it is deliberate. Let us look at the concealment.

“……Over most of its history, the Iranian regime has exploited nationalist sentiment. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power by battling the shah, who was widely seen as an American puppet.……..”

Were the Iranians suffering from delusions when they saw Shah as puppet of USA? Or is it some unfortunate accident of history? When glossed over, this certainly queers the picture especially in the climate of ‘well formed opinions & prejudices‘ informed by the malicious & mischievous propaganda orchestrated in mainstream western media and relayed obligingly by media in rest of the world. Even the present article by Zakaria carefully skirts the facts that would destabilize this carefully established edifice of public opinion. IF authoritarian regimes disregard public opinion as long as they could, the democratic regimes (word deliberately used to impart flavour of clever insinuation) assiduously manufacture public opinion through control & colouring of information flows. Let us see what crucial information is withheld. Iran was among the earliest to experiment with democracy in the region. This was much before George Bush & his predecessors avowedly wanted to spread the warm glow of democracy in Middle East. That experiment was crushed in the bud when democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq was overthrown in a CIA coup & Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was reinstalled in his place as king & dictator. Through a consortium agreement of 1954 Shah handed over 80% of the control of Iranian oil to USA & UK companies, while brutally suppressed Iranian people using CIA trained SAVAK – a dreaded & hated secret police force. Ayatollah Khomeini’s triumphant return in 1979 was facilitated because Iranian people were so severely oppressed by Shah that they were willing to accept anyone who would deliver them from his tyranny. Are Iranian people to be blamed for experiencing & remembering these facts?

Coming to Nationalism, every government/ administration/ regime without exception has exploited nationalist sentiments to sub serve its own hidden agenda. During cold war or out of it, from Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq, every mobilization of resources & men for war in USA was done on whipped up nationalist sentiments by deliberately feeding lies to American people. Why then make Iranian regime look unique in exploiting nationalist sentiments?

“……The United States supported Iraq in that war, ignoring Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iranians — something Iranians have never forgotten. Over the past eight years, the Bush administration’s veiled threats to attack Iran allowed the mullahs to drum up support……..”

Suffice it is to state here that the ‘ignored use‘ of chemical weapons by Saddam went hand in glove with the supply to him of very same chemical weapons as well as equipment & ingredients to manufacture the same by USA. USA was not only the proliferator of chemical weapons to Iraq, but this very inventory was later touted as Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to justify attack & invasion of Iraq in 2003. The veiled threats of Bush & Cheney were not at all nebulous or mere sabre rattling. Indeed there were clear plans to attack Iran right from the beginning. All this was part of the grand strategy to have absolute control over world’s most prolific oil producing region. Fortunately for Iranians & the world, the US public by this time had woken up through tireless work of courageous journalists & activists to Administration’s sinister games played out ostensibly to defend democracy, freedom & American way of life. It was their disapproval & opposition to any escalation of hostilities that finally saved the day.