• 4 March 2008
  • Posted By Ali Scotten
  • Diplomacy

Thank you Diane Feinstein

The editors at the Economist are arguing that December’s National Intelligence Estimate on Iran has brought “international policy on Iran to the edge of collapse.” It has made America’s diplomatic position weaker, they say.

If by “diplomatic position” you mean threatening war and creating a hostile environment that strengthens Iran’s hardline elements, thus rendering a peaceful solution even more out of reach then, yes, the Economist is correct.

Thankfully, the NIE has opened up space for clearer heads to prevail by silencing those who were itching to bomb Iran.

Diane Feinstein is one such voice of reason. She states correctly in her San Francisco Chronicle op-ed today that “now is the moment for a bold U.S. diplomatic move to begin direct official talks with Iranian officials.” Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable, as the recent patrol boat incident has shown. She uses Nixon’s and Kissinger’s leadership in opening up China as a good example of what can be accomplished through negotiations. She further argues that preconditions to talks with Iran are counterproductive.

This type of straight talk, which we have also begun to see on the presidential campaign trail, would have been political suicide before the release of the NIE. Calling for talks without preconditions was a sure ticket to garnering the label of ‘Islamofascist’.

It’s also important to note the effect the NIE had on Iranian domestic politics. Contrary to what the Economist would have us believe, the intelligence report has opened up space for debate inside Iran in the month preceding important elections in the majles.

It’s not inconsequential that Congressional representatives with high numbers of Iranian-Americans in their districts have been vocal about diplomacy with Iran. This shows the impact that our community is having on the debate.

Posted By Ali Scotten

    3 Responses to “Thank you Diane Feinstein”

  1. Sara says:

    Behind the scenes, Senator Feinstein has been a key proponent of diplomacy and negotiations. Members in California should research her and get to know her a bit better.

  2. nader says:

    The Economist has no credibility. they cheered for the Iraq war. They lost me as a reader.

  3. Behnam says:


    I used to think highly of the Economist until I read that venomous article. It reeked of utter disappointment of a person who has gleefully come to see someone beheaded only to find out that the show has been cancelled.

    I found it impossible to get through the thick bias to make it to the end of the piece. And, I wondered how many of the articles I had quoted in the past about topics I knew little about were just as awful as this article.

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Sign the Petition


7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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