• 11 September 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Events in DC, US-Iran War

Rethinking the Message We’re Sending

“The ideology behind 9/11 has become mainstream in much of the Middle East” said Jim Sciutto, author of Against Us: The New Face of America’s Enemies in the Muslim World. Jim Sciutto in his first public appearance since the books publishing was hosted by David Gray from the New America Foundation yesterday.

The book profiled eight people from various Middle Eastern countries throughout the last seven years, analyzing the roots of their negative views of US foreign policy; the war in Iraq, the Afghan invasion, US support for Israel, and foreigners in Muslim lands. “You hear the same buzz words, same manifesto, and same rhetoric…What you heard from Jihadists [in the past], you now hear from people on the street.”

Much of it is rooted in a perception of US hypocrisy. “US interests seem to override US principles and principle is central to our sales pitch,” commented Sciutto. Similar contradictions exist in the Middle East – “they have an admiration and desire for US culture and government,” he said, yet they dislike many things American. He named this as the main cause of the severe disappointment among many Afghanis and Iraqis.

Sciutto depicted Tehran as a city that was friendly to the west, “certainly more friendly to us than our allies in Egypt and Jordan.” He profiled a young man in Iran, Babak Zamanian, who was sentenced to time in prison after protesting Ahmadinejad at a rally, reportedly yelling “Death to the Dictator” and burning his picture. Zamanian said that our cause for winning the Iranian people’s hearts and minds is hurt by the constant talk of war.

Footage of the event can be viewed online at http://www.newamerica.net/events/2008/against_us

Posted By Rebecca Schiel

    2 Responses to “Rethinking the Message We’re Sending”

  1. Rebecca Schiel says:

    Among the many problems Sciutto sees with our image in the Middle East, he noted a measure of admiration among many Middle Easterners. How is it that the US can be both admired and hated? Why do our promises seem to consistently fall short of expectations in this part of the world? How can we satisfy both our principles and our interests or is this possible at all?
    Public polling has shown that Iranian Americans are the most favorably inclined to the US among Muslim Countries. While we understand that foreign policy plays a large part in the perception of America and the west; what else has a decisive impact?

  2. Bob van den Eijkhof says:

    Nobody likes Mcain! Atleast not if you ask… the rest of the WORLD!

    Done some reading and it appears that BBC recently did a survey in 22 countries, asking people who they belive would improve Americas relation with the rest of the world. Well to summon up …

    46 percent voted for Obama and

    20 percent for Mcain and

    34 percent said they where not shure!

    AH… In Canada which after all is the neighbouring country 69 percent voted for Obama, Italy 64%, France 62% and Germany 61%…

    ONLY in USA… in a new survey it reveals that Obama gets 47 percent of the votes and Mcain 46! How in the world is it that the rest of the planet, people like Obama vastly more than Mr Mcain … while only in The US, it appears to be equal?

    No matter the reason, I believe the rest of the planet also should get their say in this election… (or at least the 100 countries America has put under their military control !!) Anybody more affected by an election should be able to vote… otherwise it cant under any circumstances be called a democratic system. We live in a global world where no nation stands excluded from neighbours around. Obviously its hard to have a global election for the president-post in every country, but think about it… don’t you believe a great deal of people in Iraq are more affected by this election than a whole lot of people in the USA… ? I do! If the US e´wants all this global military/financial responsibility, they can atleast hear what the world has to say… jao!

    But hey … anywho anyways anywhat, that just me right!?

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7,350 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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