Four reasons why talking is a good idea

Amid the historic first rounds of talks between the Islamic Republic and the United States, there have been a number of small, but significant developments that would not have happened otherwise.

1. Iran frees Maziar Bahari, grants Swiss access to US hikers – Just prior to today’s talks in Vienna, Iran released Iranian-Canadian reporter Maziar Bahari from prison.  The Newsweek reporter had been held since June 21.  Also just prior to the previous round of talks in Geneva, Iran granted access to a Swiss emissary to visit the detained US hikers in Tehran. (We should be cautious, so as not to allow Iran to repeat its history from the 1980’s in Lebanon where it would release a hostage or two, simply to nab a handful more to take their place as a bargaining chip.  Iran also still has a long way to go to make up for its political persecutions in the wake of its election, but these are two small steps forward, and there should be many more.)

2. The US unequivocally condemns terrorism against Iran – This weekend, a suicide bomber killed at least five IRGC commanders.  The news was met immediately with a stern condemnation from the US State Department, as well as an emphatic denial of involvement.  (Many have suspicions that the US has continued its support of the Sunni Baluchi terrorist organization known as Jundallah, even under the Obama administration). But at its core, the Obama administration condemned an act of terrorism.  Of course, there are those who are outraged that Obama would condemn a terrorist act targeted at the Iranian government.  But anyone with any common sense would call those people ridiculous.

3. Talking delays sanctions, which forestalls war – Although it is a gross oversimplification of things, international disputes evolve in stages: first is diplomacy, then sanctions, then war.  So long as two sides continue to talk (absent a total breakdown), there is less need for imposing new sanctions.  Only when the talking stops is there a real danger of bombs falling.

4. Prospects for a nuclear deal – This part remains to be seen, but simply by virtue of these talks, there is a very high likelihood that in the near future, Iran will ship its stockpile of low-enriched uranium out of the country for fabrication into reactor fuel.  That will make an Iranian nuclear weapons breakout scenario much more remote.  And that is a good thing, no matter what.

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.

Sincerely,

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