Former State Dept official echoes neocon oil argument

The continuing saga of the only new idea neoconservatives have had regarding Iran.  Though the blockade bill died in Congress, the idea of stopping oil exports to Iran continues…

Former State Department negotiator Orde Kittrie spoke on Thursday about viable alternatives for pursuing peace with Iran at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he is a visiting professor. “A US or Israeli military strike on Iran is bad idea and a nuclear Iran is a bad idea. We should attempt to persuade them peacefully” he said.

Among the reasons why a peaceful solution must be found to the Iranian nuclear question, Kittrie emphasized the notion that a nuclear Iran would prompt other states in the region to proliferate. He explained that in a region where conflicts tend to get out of hand quickly, nuclear arsenals would further escalate the situation. Additionally, “the apocalyptic ideology of the Iranian government makes it hard to determine whether deterrence would work” said Kittrie.

Kittrie’s plan for forcibly coercing Iran to give up its’ nuclear program centers on pressuring global corporations such as British Petroleum, VITOL, Trafigura and Total to cease exports of refined petroleum to Iran. Kittrie notes that although Iran sits on one of the richest deposits of crude oil in the world, they still import over 40% of their refined gasoline. In order to convince these companies to stop their dealings with Iran, Kittrie suggests that we utilize a combination of strategies. First, “we should ask.  Bush never asked.” If that doesn’t work, Kittrie suggested that the US should utilize their leverage with these companies by denying investment opportunities.

There are serious concerns as to whether this plan would work due to the opaque nature of commerce. The overabundance of smuggling, laundering and outright deceit seems to indicate the weakness of this plan from the beginning. Kittrie suggests that as long as we can convince the big five companies to cease exporting oil to Iran, the plan would have its desired effect.  But in the international oil market, where there is an incentive to cheat it is usually a good bet that someone eventually will.

Posted By Rebecca Schiel

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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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