• 21 August 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Election 2008, Presidential 2008 Elections, US-Iran War

If only that text message comes soon…

Guest post by Goudarz Eghtedari, Ph.D.

NIAC is a non-profit, non-partisan 501 c(3), and therefore does not endorse candidates for political office.  The following article should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any candidate for any office, and reflects solely the personal opinion of the author.

By the time you read this, you might have already heard who the actual VP is on Senator Obama’s ticket.  And I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut that there is a good chance that my phone will ring early morning, like two million other phones to say that Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States of America.

In a speech before an event sponsored by the American Iranian Council in March 2002, Biden gave his prescription for U.S.-Iran relations.  The address, later entered into the Congressional Record, offered a five-step program for U.S. policy to improve relations with Iran. Biden said the United States should allow non-governmental organizations to support a range of civil society and democracy building activities in Iran; continue to work with Tehran on matters of mutual interest; should go along with Iran’s bid to join the World Trade Organization; should work to “indirectly assist” the Tehran regime in the fields of refugees and anti-narcotics efforts; and should encourage citizen exchanges with Iran.

Back in 2004, Biden held a high-level, 90-minute meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, which took place during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Of that unprecedented meeting, IRNA, the state Iranian news agency, reported Biden “stressed the importance of Iran and the role which it can play in the sensitive and volatile region” and said “he hoped the existing problems between the Islamic Republic of Iran and America would be removed someday.”

After expressing concern about Tehran’s nuclear intentions, Biden reportedly told Kharrazi he also is urging his own government to rethink its positions.  “You have to grow up, and my administration has to grow up, with all due respect, and find out if there is any common ground,” the Senator said. “We are on the course of unintended consequences.”  Biden criticized Bush’s unwillingness to rule out an armed response, according to the report.

Today these words seem very reasonable and not too controversial, but back in 2004 it required a whole lot more guts.

Early in 2005, Biden was cited by Boston Globe columnist H.D.S. Greenway, who wrote that President Bush’s rhetoric about freedom and specific references to Iran are making people wonder if Tehran will be the next target, after Iraq.   Iran’s historical nightmare is foreign intervention, he asserted, whether it be by the Soviets and British in the past, or the American coup against a democratically elected government in the 1950s. With American armies on their borders in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with Bush calling them part of an ”axis of evil,” some believe that nuclear weapons have become an emotional necessity for Iranians.  “Senator Joseph Biden said that even if Iran was a full democracy like India, it would want nuclear capability, like India. What the world needed to address was Iran’s emotional needs, he said, with a nonaggression pact.”  The columnist added that the U.S. and Europe might not succeed in preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb “unless they are willing to address Iran’s nightmares and guarantee its safety. But that runs contrary to the reigning theology in Washington that divides the world into good and evil, and believes in the benefits of using force.”

In February of 2005 right when the Iran-EU negotiations had reached a stalemate, Biden said the Bush administration, which says it does not rule out any option to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, had to be willing to sign on to a “genuine nonaggression pact.”  “This is a case where we’re remaining to sit on the sidelines,” Biden said. “The three European countries that are negotiating with the Iranians are saying, ‘Look, we’ve got to get in the deal with them. We can’t just sit on the sidelines.”‘

He criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for saying the U.S. might not sign on to a deal even if Iran promised to eschew missiles and nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.   Shortly after those comments Iran and EU stopped the negotiations and few months later when Khatami was ready to transfer the office to Ahmadinejad, Iranian party started the uranium enrichment activities.

Later in December of 2007 in a posting to Huffington-Post Joe Biden wrote: “War with Iran is not just a bad option. It would be a disaster. We’re talking about a country with nearly three times the population of Iraq – 70 million people – and infinitely more problems waiting for us if we attack. The regime is unpopular, but it has millions of fervent supporters it will mobilize for war. If you thought going to war with Iraq would be a “cakewalk” maybe that wouldn’t deter you. But if you are a part of the reality-based community, it should.”

If Iranian Americans all across the country wake up tomorrow to that text message, I would bet that most would consider it pretty good news!

Posted By Patrick Disney

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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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