Tag Archives: iran

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

I know my posts have consisted of a bit more fluff than usual but:

  1. I’m working on a project at work and need a bit of a break when I get to blog and,
  2. that’s one of the things I really enjoy about my little project here.  I can follow my whims and not get bound by artificial restrictions.

Anyway, I imagine I’ll be getting back to more weighty topics next week.  But for now:

Your Swedish headline of the day:

Blow for bishop as orgasm church flops

Comrade Bear shoots a whale.  Does the Kremlin count as his lair or should he really have a base under a volcano or something?

Putin held his balance in a rubber boat that was being tossed around in choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and eventually hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples.

Courtesy of Balko, more homeland security nonsense.  Seven people dressed up as zombies and decided to go to the local mall to protest consumerism.  Someone saw their PA system and, freaking out, called the cops who arrested them for:

…disorderly conduct and said the zombies’ homemade public address rig looked like a weapon of mass destruction.

The zombies sued and the city council decided to settle for $165,000.  Good for them.

YT sent me this article about the unveiling of the Iranian drone bomber thingy.  Leave it to the Iranians to screw up on the messaging…

“The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,” said Ahmadinejad at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country’s national day for its defense industries.

WTF does that mean?!  I guess he had an extra dose of crazy with his breakfast.

Is it me or would Putin, Assange and Ahmadinejad make a great league of super villains?  It wouldn’t be a stretch to give them superpowers…Putin could be like Colossus, Assange could be the Leader.  I’m not sure about Ahmadinejad…someone crazy and out of touch with reality…Green Goblin, maybe?

The legacy of the Arctic Sea?

Remember the Arctic Sea? It was the Finnish ship that was either hijacked, picked up some floundering boaters, suffered a radio malfunction, carrying illegal arms, or some combination of those.

One of the rumors swirling around was that the ship was carrying S300 surface to air missiles to Iran.   The idea was rejected by most (including myself…but what the hell do I know).  But, once the ship was recovered the story died and discussions of its possible cargo faded to the realm of water cooler speculation (What kind of water cooler do you hang around at?  eds.).

But then…out of the blue, Iran announced it had four S300s.  But wait, it gets more interesting…

The Fars news agency said Wednesday that Iran has obtained two missiles from Belarus and two others from another unspecified source. [italics added]

And even better

A spokesman for Belarus’ state military trade committee denied that any missiles had been transferred.

There are just so many ways this could play out, it’s dizzying.  Does Iran want Israel and the U.S. to think they have the S300 system (to deter an attack) and therefore might be willing to claim they have them, even if they don’t?  Would the U.S. be willing to downplay or deny the existence of Iranian S300sin order to avoid escalating tensions?  Would the Russians (or anyone else) want to thumb their noses at U.S. objections and sell a few of these systems to Iran?

So, is it possible that the Arctic Sea did have some S300s on board and that they managed to get them to Iran?  If so, could it be that the two IL-76s that the Russians sent purportedly to bring the two dozen sailors was really a deception operation to make everyone think that they had taken those S300s off ship and were sending them back to Russia when, in fact, they had already been delivered?

Kvick Tänkare

Great headline:  Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts. (h/t Boingboing)

IBM has created a web-based version of the CIA factbook.  There’s enough variables to filter, views to alter and colors to see that even the most jaded of you will start to drool. (h/t sources and methods)

Sitherine is coming out with a new game that looks fun.  Battlefield Academy is based on a free BBC game of the same name.  You can still play the BBC versions with allow you to fight the Battle of Trafalgar or the original games which takes you through Rome, the Middle Ages, Napoleon’s time and WWII.

Peter talks about the Soviet withdrawal from his country (Hungary).

FBI epic fail.  Wikimedia epic win!  Hopefully the FBI realizes they are in a hole and will stop digging.

Lung Hu has two great posts worthy of your attention both revolving around that Iranian scientist defector/abductee/whatever Sharram Amiri. If you like your international relations with a lot of alternate hypothesis you probably haven’t heard before, check it out.

Iranian military humor!

I saw this while catching the tail end of Christiane Amanpour‘s TV show…just brilliant.

Not to be confused with the quadrangle of unpleasantness…

Iran really needs a better quality of writers if they want to stay competitive in the propaganda game.  Even though I didn’t agree with the ‘AXIS OF EVIL’, I do have to admit it had a nice ring to it.  But really, the ‘triangle of wickedness‘?  How lame is that?

But wait, it’s even lamer because it’s not even a real triangle.  The Iranian regime identifies the members of the triangle as:  “the Zionist regime, America and their hired agents”

Now, you’ll notice there’s a bit of double counting going on there.  Agents, by definition, are acting on behalf of their paymasters and so should be considered representatives of them.  The pathetic attempt to count them twice is ridiculous and should be rejected out of hand.

Ah, good.

A State Department spokesman in Washington dismissed the accusation of United States involvement as “absurd.”

I would have preferred if the State department statement included a definition of the term triangle but that might have been seen as too provocative.

By the way…h/t Scott Adams via Sullivan.

The 24 news channels live up to expectations…again!

I was out of contact with the outside world for almost all of the past 4 days with the exception of getting a newspaper on Friday morning.  I was actually quite thankful after seeing the story about the attempted plane bombing, since I just knew that all of the coverage Christmas Day would be endless idle speculation with virtually no facts.  I figured most of that would have burned out be the time we got back this afternoon and so turned on the news to see what had gone on in the world while I was away.

In half an hour of watching CNN (MSNBC had it’s usual Sunday mass-murderer porn on) I heard about the flooding of Reagan National Airport, increased security at L.A., an interview with the Dutch guy who apprehended the terrorist suspect (twice).  By the way, who would have thought a European would save the day?  I thought they were all too busy eating brie and surrendering to Muslim fanatics to actually take a stand.  I guess Fox News and the Right are wrong again.

But not once did I hear that there was even a peep on news out of Iran.  I only knew there was something up because there were about a billion posts from the Daily Dish in my rss reader.

Why am I always amazed at the crappy world coverage we get here in the states?

And it was impossible to tell the difference between the pigs and the men

Iran has become a sick parody of how revolutions devour themselves

Police used batons and tear gas, according to the witnesses. There were also unconfirmed reports of security forces using live rounds.

The violence came on the day that Iran holds an annual commemoration for the killing of three students in 1953.

So the regime that got its inspiration from the 1953 coup is now suppressing students for commemorating the same event.

Orwell strikes again:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

After the first generation of revolutionaries age and become comfortable in their positions, they become the very thing they rebelled against.

Putting the ‘jerk’ in knee jerk reaction

I haven’t written much anything about Iran because there really hasn’t been much I could add but last night I hit the breaking point.

I was watching an interview with Saxby Chambliss last night who was prattling on about how we need to come out strongly in support of the demonstrators and how our current policy was shameful.  The interviewer asked if, given our history of meddling in Iranian domestic affairs in the past, explicit support for the demonstrators might not be counterproductive.

He replied, with some apparent incredulity, that all that stuff happened 60 years ago and so could safely be considered ancient (read:  irrelevant) history.  Besides, he said, the vast majority of the demonstrators were young and he doubted they would even know about the overthrow of their government in 1953.

*insert spit take here*

Yeah.  A bunch of university educated Iranian who are politically active won’t understand why every Friday people chant “Death to the great satan”.

Wow.  I had to turn off the TV lest the stupid seep through the cable wires and begin to eat out my brain.

Talk about projection.  Just because one of our (greatest and, simultaneously, worst) traits is a very short cultural memory doesn’t mean that everybody shares that same trait.  Even with that, I suspect we’d harbor some ill will to a nation that overthrew our democratically elected government, even if it did happen a few decades ago.  This is what is called ‘terrible critical thinking skills’.

Leaving that aside.  Is this really the plan?  Make some bold pronouncements of support? Give a bunch of people the excuse to pat themselves on the back for ‘supporting democracy’ without really having to do anything (sort of like ‘supporting the war’ without serving or sacrificing anything – apart from putting that really cool magnet on your car, of course).

Because history is filled with examples of popular uprisings succeeding when the U.S. gives verbal support with the clear understanding we won’t actually lift a finger to help.

Marching towards Hell

I watched Michael Scheuer on UChannel last night.  He’s an interesting speaker and challenges a lot of beliefs that are tightly held by many Americans.  I find myself agreeing with many of his assumptions but disagreeing with his conclusions.  He advocates a foreign policy of hyper-realism that submits every question to one criteria:  Is it in the national interest?  If not, there’s no reason to waste a bit of blood or treasure on it.  Here are some of the ideas he mentions that struck me as noteworthy:

  1. We shouldn’t get involved in religious wars.  The Israeli/Arab conflict is one such war where we are supporting both sides, ensuring that regardless of who wins, we lose.
  2. Bin Laden and the Islamists are very clear about why they are in conflict with us and it’s not because of our freedoms but rather our policy
  3. Democracy does not automatically translate to pro-U.S./pro-Israel, especially in the Middle East
  4. Iran, our bogeyman dujour, is probably the most representative nation in the Arab world
  5. The U.S. congress, by replacing declarations of war with ‘authorizations for military force’, is trying to have its cake and eat it too.  Taking credit for successes and free to criticize during failures.

There’s nothing particularly new in Scheuer’s speech and if you’ve read ‘Imperial Hubris’ you’ll recognize many of the same arguments although perhaps argued more forcefully.

I have to think that Scheuer is arguing that our only hope if to relinquish the very things that make us American.  One of America’s deepest characteristics is a messianic streak to improve the world and remake it in our image.  While that has led to some serious problems in our past it’s also the one that fuels huge amounts of charitable giving, volunteerism and ingenuity.

The answer, I would argue, is not a retreat into a walled fortress America, only venturing out to conduct business deals and keep the sea lanes open but to make our goals explicit, encourage debate about what sort of foreign policy we should have (almost 20 years after the Cold War and we still haven’t had that discussion yet) and come to an answer about how we should interact with the world in the 21st century.

There’s just something deep down that rebels at the thought of seeing vast levels of suffering like the genocides of the 20th century and saying “Yeah…too bad.”

If I wanted to live in a country like that I’d move to China.

The real value in this speech is the fact that Scheuer is able to say things that would normally have him written off as a crank or tin foil hatted nutcase.   But…he has apparently accumulated enough cache through his career and the university environment he’s surrounded by that the audience is compelled to consider his arguments even though you get the impression that in another venue they’d dismiss similar arguements out of hand.  It is very entertaining to see the cognitive dissonance playing out on the faces of the audience members as they formulate their questions.

If you haven’t seen/heard Scheuer watch this.  If you have seen him before, you can probably skip it.

In Iran, Bangladesh=Canada

Foreign Affairs has a really good article on the internal politics of Iran, particularly the role of Ali Khamenei, the ‘Supreme Leader’ of the country.  I’m loathe to quote from the article because it’s really jam packed with informational goodness and it’s hard to just select what to identify as ‘most important’.  But, that’s why I get this massive salary to write this blog (not wanting to brag but I’m almost pulling down six figures with this blog…unfortunately, those figures are preceded with a decimal point) so here are some interesting quotes:

Contemporary Iran is still officially an Islamic theocracy, but no single ideology dominates the country…Iran has no single all-embracing party in charge of organizing society. It has dozens of parties…and although they are not as free or autonomous as parties in democratic countries, they represent views that deviate from the government’s.

Nor does Islam run Iran. The ruling religious fundamentalists lack a unified vision, and fundamentalist, traditionalist, and modernist versions of Islam compete for attention among Iranians…Khomeini [holds] a resolutely sultanistic view of Islam. “The state . . . takes precedence over all the precepts of sharia,” he wrote in 1988. “The ruler can destroy a mosque or a house if it impedes the construction of a road. . . . The state can temporarily prevent the hajj [the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, an important religious duty] when it considers it to be contrary to the interests of the Islamic state.” Although there are, of course, both fascists and fascistic readings of Islam in Iran, these do not make Iran a fascist state. Whatever the intentions and aims of the country’s ruling fundamentalists, it is the social facts on the ground that determine what kind of regime Iran really has.

Even after Bush’s famous “axis of evil” speech and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, Tehran made a conciliatory gesture. After coordinating the move with Khamenei, Kharrazi, then the Iranian ambassador in Paris, delivered an unsigned letter to the Swiss embassy in Tehran suggesting that the Iranian government would contemplate recognizing Israel, reining in the region’s radical organizations, and proposing a security plan for the Persian Gulf. But the Bush administration, drunk on its quick military victory in Iraq, disregarded the offer. All sections of the Iranian regime, including Khatami and the reformists, interpreted the brushoff to mean that after Iraq, it was Iran’s turn to be invaded by the United States.

But that doesn’t mean they’re ready to be our BFF.

Wise or unwise, Tehran’s policy of meddling in the business of its neighbors has very little to do with Ahmadinejad; this has always been the approach favored by the supreme leader…Even while Iranian policymakers have at times collaborated with Washington in Afghanistan, they have recently been working to keep the U.S. government embroiled in the turmoil in Iraq and distracted by Lebanon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The goal, says Rowhani, is to keep Washington busy with greater priorities than pressuring Tehran.

and they’re determined to go nuclear.

Even if Khamenei committed to suspending Iran’s nuclear operations again, such work might not actually be halted. “It is true that we accepted suspension, but not in order to close things down,” Rowhani told Etemaad newspaper in November 2007 of Khatami’s agreement to halt nuclear activities in 2004. “During the suspension, we built the centrifuges, we built the Arak plant. . . . Whatever was incomplete, we completed under the shadow of suspension. The West was demanding a suspension so that we would close things down, but we suspended things in order to complete the technology.” And the Iranian government was ready to go further, even under the reformist Khatami. “For my own part,” Rowhani recalled, “I said at several meetings with the officials in charge of the technical side, ‘Whenever you are ready for enrichment, let us know and we will break the suspension.’”

And my favorite quote…

Karroubi recounted challenging the commander, who was concerned about the bill’s passing, by asking whether he would continue to endorse screening by the Council of Guardians if, say, the two reformist senior clerics Ayatollah Yusuf Saneii and Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili were on the council. “If these two are appointed,” the commander responded, according to Karroubi, “we will have to move to Bangladesh.”

That just made me chuckle thinking about the quadriennial claims of people moving to other countries if the election doesn’t go their way.  Seems the Iranians aren’t that hard to understand after all!