• 24 March 2008
  • Posted By Daniel Robinson
  • 13 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file

In the Holiday Season, No Room for Warmongering

President Bush’s interview on Radio Farda should leave no doubt that Iran is still in the crosshairs. At the beginning of the end of his presidency, President Bush leaves the legacy of a ruinous war in Iraq, a destabilizing situation in Afghanistan, and an inflammatory situation with Iran that his administration cannot (or perhaps, will not) solve.

In his address to the Iranian people for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, President Bush performed a feat of rhetorical gymnastics: he extended good wishes to the Iranian people, while simultaneously banging the drum of war. Bush pronounced the United States’ respect for the great Iranian history and culture, but blamed the Iranian government for isolating the Iranian people for the last 30 years.

“We have great respect for the people, and we’ve got problems with the government,” President Bush said. “We have problems with the government because the government has been threatening, has made decisions that — and statements that really have isolated the people of Iran.”

Mr. Bush fails to recognize that bloated rhetoric will not alter the US-Iran relationship. The administration’s continued ultimatum of “zero enrichment” refutes Bush’s own claim that Iran has a right to civilian nuclear power. Bush presupposes that Iran can gain the wherewithal to develop nuclear energy without a government program, even though Iran (as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty) is within its rights to develop its own nuclear energy. Almost all countries that have nuclear energy developed it with central government programs.

Bush’s most dangerous point continues on the nuclear track. “They want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people — some in the Middle East. And that’s unacceptable to the United States and it’s unacceptable to the world,” President Bush said, though there is no evidence to suggest that Iran has made such a statement. Also, the President fails to recognize that the United States and its closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, can contain Iran with their own nuclear arsenals: A hypothetical attack by Iran would lead to apocalyptic consequences for the Iranian government.

Nowruz is a time of hope and renewal. Bonds that tie disparate communities from Baku, Dushanbe, Tehran, Toronto and Los Angeles are strengthened by reflecting on the past and holding high hopes for the future. When will the Bush administration wake up?

Even policy makers in the highest annals of power realize the significance of this celebration and the hope it can engender. The present challenges in our policy toward Iran require a new paradigm of diplomacy– one that espouses direct negotiation, not ‘cowboy diplomacy,’ as President Bush would have it. Bush’s empty rhetoric, myopic view of foreign policy, and steadfast insistence on “preventive” war have dealt the United States a great blow in prestige, leadership and even blood and treasure.

Mr. President, leave the six-gun in Crawford.

Posted By Daniel Robinson

    13 Responses to “In the Holiday Season, No Room for Warmongering”

  1. Dan,

    This is INCREDIBLY well-written and insightful. I thank you for your strong words in favor of diplomacy.

  2. Daniel Robinson says:

    Shadee

    Thanks so much. I think we’re in a situation where the US, in desperation unfortunately, must look at other alternatives. My hope is that ordinary citizens like us can help our leaders return to a foreign policy model that relies on direct negotiation and America’s role as a constructive leading partner in solving the world’s problems. I firmly believe NIAC is at the helm of this sea change.

  3. azadeh says:

    I am tired of warmongers and thier statements. I hope the next admnistration choose diplomacy over wars and bloodshed.

  4. Ali Scotten says:

    Check out this article in the LA Times. Looks like Daniel was ahead of the game:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2008/03/iran-bushs-bomb.html

  5. Mehdi says:

    Maybe we could be bold. Maybe we should bypass the US administration. Maybe we could just start a plan to actually contact Iranian authorities directly and get each one to start drawing up a list of requests from US that if honored by the US, Iran would take steps towards re-establishing relations with the US! I mean just go to each individuals, such as Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad, etc, and ask them to respectfully explain what the US must do or not do in order for that individual to seriously consider re-establishing relations with the US government. Currently, I don’t think anybody really knows why there is animosity between the two governments. Nobody really knows why the US is the “great evil.” Nobody knows if there is a way for the US to not be considered the great evil. I think this could be very effective and fruitful in the long run, if not immediately. It is a matter of getting the Iranian government to put down specifics of how it could possibly improve Iran-US relations. At some point some Iranian officials made an attempt at this, apparently, which was ignored by US administration. I think we could make enough noise to make it hard for the US administration to ignore such efforts anymore. Let’s get the issues clarified, and let’s not wait for the US administration to do that. Just bypass them!

  6. Michael Mahyar Hojjatie says:

    Bush has much bigger problems to worry about, like the Iraq fiasco that has spiraled out of control in time, money, and energy and is basically Vietnam with a few less zeros on the US body count. Afghanistan isn’t anywhere near stable either and has a wreck of an infrastructure. Oh yeah, and then there’s the economy here in America, immigration issues, global warming, on and on. I seriously doubt he wants to pick a third fight (especially with a government that is sure to fight to the death and not wave white flags in surrender like much of Saddam’s soldiers did), and his replacement next year, whomever it may be, won’t want to tarnish his or her reputation right away or be the second coming of Bush anytime in his or her career at all. Let’s just be patient and wait for him to disappear, which is sooner than later. Rhetoric is just that, rhetoric. It’s almost like both presidents take turns insulting each other and saying incredibly stupid, unfounded things in front of the whole world. Bush says “Iran wants to build nukes”, Ahmadinejad says “there are no gays in Iran”. It’s as if they’re having a contest, really.

  7. Daniel Robinson says:

    Michael and Mehdi

    I agree, on the whole, with a lot of your points, but my concern is that this rhetoric is leading to policies that could be irreversibly damaging. The bomb allegations by Bush serve no reasonable end other than to raise fictional alarms about Iran and thus, by the fault of our own incapacity to act militarily due to Iraq and Afghanistan, might push another state to deal with Iran.

  8. nader says:

    Here is another lie: Ahmadinejad says “there are no gays in Iran “.

  9. Michael Mahyar Hojjatie says:

    Daniel,

    Yes, of course, the possibility of “another state” (all the while backed by its US and UK cohorts) attacking Iran has been a reality ever since the tragedy of 1979. Let us consider a few possibilities:

    First, the Islamic world has made it abundantly clear that it’s sick and tired of non-Islamic civilizations taking military action against it. That state in particular attacking Iran, the main stronghold of Islamic extremism, may usher in consequences apocalyptic in nature, to say the very least, especially given some of the more maniacal governments running some Islamic nations.

    Second, and in my opinion more likely, the great Sunni vs. Shi’a schism that people often tend to get violent over may manifest, and Iran will be forced to battle that state on its own, with no chance of coming out victorious. I seriously doubt Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan would dare help Iran, regardless of any historic ties.

    Of course, let’s hope that nothing at all happens and the region does stabilize. Hopefully these barbaric regimes will end up like Castro’s Cuba, on borrowed time life support as more and more years fly by.

  10. Mehdi says:

    Unlike what Michael Mahyar Hojjatie says, I think the threat of war is very real, maybe more real than it has been admitted in the media. There could be plans already in motion. Currently, the situation is volatile enough that all that is needed is an “incident.” Something like what happened between US and Iran navy recently. Such incidents could even be created by third parties, such as the MEK – it doesn’t even need the Iranian government to create it! I think we should not rest, for as long as the most powerful man on Earth is strongly recommending war with Iran. Even as a rhetoric, it should be taken VERY seriously. We should rest only when there isn’t even an empty rhetorical statement made. I think contacting the individuals in the US government, such as congressmen, etc, is great and must be done, and all Iranians must support it. But I think we should go even further than that and basically hand-hold them through the process. I mean making them understand what needs to be done; clarify the issues. I think, for example, it would be very helpful to convince either government to publicly and unilaterally announce what each expects from the other. That way, people on both sides will have a more clear path as to what they should or could do, instead of the current mess where nobody really knows what the problem is.

  11. Michael Mahyar Hojjatie says:

    Dear Mehdi,

    Very well expressed thoughts, and it’s good to see how strongly you feel about them. This seems to be one of the better places to share one’s opinions on matters such as this, unlike other sites where Iranians take turns bashing each other and call each other insults in Finglish (which I refuse to do, as it sickens me to treat my people that way). There are certainly many different angles to view this sticky sitation of two vapid presidents showboating. I’m sure we all are patiently awaiting 1/20/09 when Mr. Bush leaves office and hopefully someone without any damn idealistic crusades takes over.

  12. Babak Talebi says:

    Mehdi, I have to say, I agree with you. The danger of a ‘hot’ war with Iran IS very real, and I hear way too many Iranian-Americans and Americans dismissing it.

    With Fallon’s resignation a few weeks back, McCain making statements equating Iran and Al-Qaida, and even Bush and Cheney getting into the action with harsh words on Iran, it is clear that those who support war with Iran are not backing down.

    Next week, David Petreaus will be on Capital Hill, and with Senators like Lieberman and McCain goading him on, there is no doubt in my mind that Iran will be topic of discussion again. What we are hearing on the Hill very consistently is that members of Congress are getting mixed messages – specially in the last few months. They say they are hearing from Iranian Americans who oppose war, and increasingly from Iranian Americans who support war. This is not a joke – we have had staffers literally tell us that they are getting ‘confused’.

    The MEK types are not letting up – but unfortunately the majority of Iranian Americans who do oppose war are so busy with real jobs and real lives that they do not contact their members of Congress nearly enough.

  13. Michael Mahyar Hojjatie says:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23882904

    Looks like Bush is struggling to keep an image that has long been a lost cause.

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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.

Sincerely,

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