• 26 January 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf

Bizarre fearmongering on Iran

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This video comes from a site called ShieldAmerica.org, which is a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (better known as Frank Gaffney’s partners in the dilapidated push for Iran divestment).

The leaders of the project and other fringe activists are on a campaign to raise public concerns about the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) after a nuclear detonation, and they point to Iran as the most likely culprit to use this dastardly tactic on the United States.

Forgetting for a moment that the consensus opinion of all 16 US intelligence agencies declared that Iran has no nuclear weapons program; and ignoring the fact that Iran has absolutely zero ballistic missile capability that threatens the US; and forgetting also that a nuclear attack on the United States would guarantee a massive retaliation that would destroy the whole of the Iranian leadership and much of its civilization…forgetting all of that, why is it so important that the American people become terrified that their electronics won’t work after their city gets hit by a nuclear weapon? Isn’t a nuclear detonation scary enough for these people?

Without getting too much into the science of things, everytime a nuclear explosion occurs, the shockwave sends out an EMP so powerful that it knocks out every electrical device within miles. Usually this doesn’t matter, though, because electrical devices don’t often stand up to a nuclear explosion.

So forgive me if I’m puzzled by an organization whose mission is to stoke irrational fears about Iran–and to advocate for hawkish policies to address those fears–choosing to focus its efforts on such a bizarre and outlandish threat.

What is the benefit from doing this? Either way, a nuclear attack on the United States would be a bad thing. Whether it’s because of the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in an instant, or if it’s because of *cough* massive power outages, the US has an interest in preventing a nuclear attack. And if there are those that think Iran poses the greatest threat to the US, then policymakers should focus on the most realistic way to reduce that threat.

On that, there is nearly universal consensus: start talking to Iran now.

Posted By Patrick Disney

    4 Responses to “Bizarre fearmongering on Iran”

  1. Ian says:

    You might be right that the method of getting people thinking is hyperbole. The message, however, is vital to understand and act on. Check out http://www.empcommission.org for the government’s own findings. I hope you’re not in favor of doing nothing with regard to defense. Regardless whether the perpetrator is Iran or a well-funded terrorist organization, making the US a less tempting target will increase the prospects for peace. What’s important is investment in protection of critical infrastructures and building reasonable defenses including the ability to intercept missiles that might be carrying nuclear warheads. And of course you are right that talking to Iran is an excellent idea. This is common sense and has probably been taking place via back channels for years.

  2. Patrick Disney says:

    Thanks, Ian, for your thoughts on this. I agree wholeheartedly with your point that “making the US a less tempting target will increase the prospects for peace.” Your point about investing in protecting critical infrastructures and building reasonable defenses is also right-on. However I’m not sure it’s wise to place such a high premium on missile defense–most experts not tied to defense contractors will tell you that the biggest threat to the US does not come at the tip of a missile–rather it comes from our porous borders. And even if that weren’t true, the DOD has yet to develop a missile defense system that works, period. This despite the $9.188 billion budget that went to missile defense programs last year alone.

    But your point is well taken–inaction is everyone’s enemy on this issue. And I thank you for your comment.


  3. FYI: Frank Gaffney will be speaking at Oxford Union Debate on March 5. The title of the debate: This House Would Rather Bomb Iran Than Allow Iran The Bomb


  4. Patrick,

    Just read your response above regarding missile defense systems. I spoke directly with Sen. Carl Levin on Wednesday at the Progressive Media Summit hosted by Senate Democrats. The issue of missile defense came up (along with other Iran-related issues) and I actually was hoping to speak with someone at NIAC about his comments for an upcoming article. Planned to phone the Council tomorrow for a press inquiry, but if you would be willing to share a few minutes some time this week that would be great. Or, if you could direct me to someone else that represents NIAC I would really appreciate it.


    Cheryl Biren-Wright

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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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