Iran’s military and political leaders: How high will they jump?

Iranian’s head honchos should remember Shakespeare’s words: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” What are you?

 by Alan Simons

If there’s been one American individual over the years that has clearly taken to task the United States’ foreign policy, credit must be given to Richard Nathan Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, prior to which he was Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Haas most clearly outlined his foreign policy views in his book The Reluctant Sheriff (1997), in which he argued that the United States should play the role of international sheriff.  He said, “maintaining international order often means ‘assuming the role of international sheriff, one who forges coalitions or posses of states and others for specific tasks,’ Haas writes (Haas 1997). While Haas argued that the approach would largely benefit the international system, he also made it clear that he intended for the United States to play the role of international sheriff to pursue its own preferences for the world. In the years ahead, “what will prove crucial is the ability of the United States to persuade others to adopt and abide by its preferences – and the will and the ability of the United States to act as a sheriff, to mobilize itself and others to insist on them when resistance emerges,” Haas notes (Haas 1997). ‘”

Iran, the real choices. Losing face is not particularly one of Iran’s more favourable characteristics.

Eight years ago, on April 19, 2010, Haas, in a statement as the President, Council on Foreign Relations, made it adamantly clear to the Obama administration their initial approach toward Iran was wrong. This is what he had to say on the matter:

Gates’s Welcome Take on Iran Realities

      Richard N. Haas

The “Gates memo”–a classified memorandum written by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in January [2010], arguing to his senior colleagues that the administration needs to develop a more effective  policy for dealing with Iran’s nuclear progress–marks a significant signpost in the evolution of President Barack Obama’s national security policy and presidency.

The Obama administration’s initial approach toward Iran emphasized negotiations, but there is no evidence Iran is prepared to accept meaningful limits on its nuclear activities. The United States is working to gain UN Security Council approval of new sanctions, but while the symbolism of a common international front is welcome, the substance will not have much effect. The price of gaining Chinese and Russian support is delay and dilution. A second set of sanctions, more biting and more focused on the Revolutionary Guard, should be cobbled together quickly by those countries willing to sign on. And the United States should keep exploring what can be done to bolster Iran’s internal opposition.

But the reality is that these measures are unlikely to accomplish the goal of halting (much less reversing) Iran’s nuclear program. Three sets of actions are needed. First, the United States should take the steps that would allow it to enforce tough sanctions, such as a ban on Iranian oil exports and refined oil imports. Second, the United States should develop plans for the use of military force in an effort to set back Iran’s nuclear program and weaken the government. Third, the United States should assess the pros and cons of an alternative or a fallback: a “North Korean” strategy, in which there would be an implicit acceptance of an Iranian nuclear weapon (or something close to it) that would involve deterrence of Iran and defence for its neighbours. All planning should anticipate Iranian retaliation and what would be needed from Saudis and others to stabilize energy markets.

The Gates memo is right to focus attention on the real choices. In the end, it is Iran, far more than Afghanistan or Iraq or even Pakistan, that is likely to prove the most significant strategic decision and challenge for the forty-fourth president.

“Iran is able to build a plant for every field of nuclear program . . . this issue is not reversible.”

                Heshmatollah Falahatpishe

In September 2009, Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, (seen here on the right) member of Majlis the national security and foreign policy commission, said that construction of a new uranium enrichment plant indicated that Iran’s nuclear program is in progress on schedule,  in spite of political pressures.  He added, Iran is able to build a plant for every field of nuclear program, because, “we have gained access to the nuclear technology and this issue is not reversible, a fact that has already been acknowledged by IAEA analysts.” The MP added unlike Libya and Iraq, who bought nuclear technology in the markets, Iran, upon its own ability, has turned threats to an opportunity. (IRNA).

How much of what Falahatpishe had to say at the time would have been poo-pooed by the Obama administration as pure grandstanding is open to further debate. But, it is interesting to note that in 2016 Falahatpishe survived an assassination attempt in Kermanshah Province in the west of the country, Iranian news agencies reported. Falahatpishe sustained minor injuries but a local official and their driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, the reports said. Falahatpishe survived and today he is the Head of Iran’s all-powerful Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Which brings me to Iran in 2018. Today, it’s military and senior political head honchos continue to put on a brave appearance to outsiders. After all, losing face is not particularly one of Iran’s more favourable characteristics.

First, let’s look at their military.

As I reported in jewishinfoNews in May 2018, “Iran’s military has major problems. The Iranian regime revealed last month that 2,100 Iranians have been killed fighting in Syria the past few years, more than double the previous death toll announced 16 months ago… “As a proportion of the population, that is a greater loss than the United States has suffered in all its wars in the Middle East since the start of the century… “Iran has said it does not send combat troops to Syria, only military advisers, most of whom are Pasdar officers… “Given that the United States has four times the population of Iran, the Iranian losses in Syria are proportionately about a quarter greater than the US losses throughout the region this century.”

Secondly, the economic turmoil and protests taking place throughout all sectors of society in Iran are now increasing on a day-to-day basis. This week alone, reports include the following:

Labor Minister impeached

The Iranian parliament has given a no-confidence vote to Labor Minister Ali Rabeei on Tuesday. Rabeei was impeached by 129 to 111 votes. This gives Rouhani three months to find a replacement. As Iran’s economy has worsened in recent months, the Iranian regime and particularly hardliners have tried to portray Hassan Rouhani’s economic team as being mainly responsible for the increasing hardships that Iranians face. In an interview before his impeachment, Rabeei had said the U.S. sanctions would increase economic pressures and until March 2019 one million jobs would be lost. (International Institute for Iranian Studies).

People’s rage building up

This editorial deals with Iran’s dire economy and people’s rage against reformists in this regard. The editorialist begins by saying that Iranian people have had it up to here with skyrocketing prices, corruption, and the government’s inefficiencies. People have repeatedly voiced their hope in reformists, voting for them in elections. However, reformists have not been able to find a solution to their problems, and people can no longer wait for a change in relation to this particular point. The editorial then zeroes in on President Hassan Rouhani and the role he and his administration play in creating unrest in society. Rouhani has become involved with those in his milieu who have no reasonable, organized relations with society and their political base. Neither can they pave the way for Rouhani to get connected with people. All things considered, people expect reformists to speak their mind candidly and with clarity under current conditions. In the end, the editorialist claims that the only way out is reform, but it is really getting late. An editorial in Mostaghal on August 7, 2018

Protests continue

Popular protests hit several cities in Iran on Saturday night. [August 4, 2018]. Along with confirming the death of a protestor in the city of Karaj, the city’s officials declared the implicit martial law in the city. Film footages sent to VOA show that at least in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Qom, and Eshtehard, people held demonstrations on Saturday night. Fars news agency, affiliated with IRGC, announced that an individual was shot dead in Friday night protests in Karaj. This is the first death in the new round of demonstrations in cities of Iran. In December protests, at least 23 people were killed in more than 80 cities of Iran. In Tehran, protesters chanted: “Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation” and “Death to Dictator!” VOA

Released footages in social networks indicate that gatherings and protests have continued in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Qom, and Eshtehard. In footages related to demonstrations in Tehran, the protesters chanted: “Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation,” “Iranians must show their courage,” “Death to Dictator,” and “Courageous Iranians, Support us.” In another footage, the narrator says: “Here everybody is exhausted. They all have wives and children and are under injustice. Here everybody has a lot of debts. Look, we are all together. We are exhausted. We all want freedom.” In Karaj, the protesters chanted: “Shame on you, Khamenei; let go of the country” and “Law enforcement, support us!” The new round of street protests in Iran started following the plunge in the value of the national currency, critical economic conditions, high prices, and daily increase in the price of foreign currency and gold coin. But in recent days, the protesters’ main slogans have been against the supreme leader, the regime, and the clerics. Radio Farda

Currency deputy of Central Bank arrested

Judiciary system spokesperson Gholamhossein Ejei said the currency deputy of the Central Bank, who was recently removed from his position, was arrested. He added that in dealing with cases of disruptors in the country’s financial system and currency, three individuals would be soon going to courts after issuing their indictments. Meanwhile, 20 lawmakers wrote a letter to the head of the judiciary, asking him to ban former governor of the Central Bank, Valiollah Seif, from leaving the country. Fars news agency

How much of what Richard Haas had to say in 2010 reflects on the Trump administration’s decision in 2018 to pulverize Iran by means of military pressure and especially by economic sanctions, is admittedly, on the onset, having a dent in Iran.

However, Holly Dagres, an Iran analyst and curator of The Iranist newsletter in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle said she, “believes that the Iranians will continue to pursue their political agenda in the region, in spite of renewed American pressure. After decades of international isolation, Iran has managed to circumvent sanctions in numerous ways, whether by working the middleman, the black market, or trading with countries that the American sanctions enforcement agency OFAC cannot reach. If Iran wants something to be done, it will find a way, Dagres concluded.”

Which in conclusion brings me to a quote I’ve used previously. There’s a well-known wise Persian proverb: “Risk – If one has to jump a stream and knows how wide it is, he will not jump. If he doesn’t know how wide it is, he’ll jump and six times out of ten he’ll make it.”

Iranians are an educated and proud people and in that, I would ask their leaders to remember Shakespeare’s words: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” What are you?

Alan Simons is the publisher and editor of jewishinfoNews. Comments to this article are accepted.

Partial content in this article is credited to Wikipedia. Photo credit: Flickr.

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Antisemitism! The abhorrent display of pathological hatred of Jews continues.

This article has been updated from the original version.

The American writer Eric Hoffer once said, “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”

by Alan Simons

Saadia Gaon, (Sa’id ‘ibn Yusuf al-Fayyûmî) the great ninth-century Jewish philosopher born in Egypt and father of both scientific biblical exegesis and Jewish philosophic theology, who is regarded as the chief Jewish legal authority of his time in the world, commented that whoever is consumed by the desire for revenge gets into a frame of mind of refusing to accept intercession or entertaining any feeling of compassion or pity or listening to any plea of clemency.

Hatred and Revenge. Over one thousand years later Saadia’s comments still reflect the attitude that we have learnt nothing. For very little at this time seems to be based on the two-way acceptance of my world is also your world.

Today, among the lives of many people in America there are some who maintain that the best thing to strive for in their world is to take revenge on one’s enemies. Right now the satisfaction of the thirst for revenge cannot be clearer than it is in our society!

Today, we gloat over people’s misfortunes, we instil a hatred in each other’s cultures and religions that no civilized government has a hope in hell, or will in stopping. It is a hate that has its own direction, its own time and space, egged on by the perverse nature of fanatics utilizing the services of mobile phones, social media and Internet websites. Nor, one must not forget, the antisemitic actions of numerous religious leaders.

Today, the traditional western media broadcaster and newspaper, continue to flout their flag-waving old-boy school-tie elitists’ defiance to remain in a bygone era, in what they believe is their absolute right to express their view to us of what freedom of speech is. They must also accept responsibility for continuing to light the matches of religious hate.

hate (2)Today, what media has the moral fibre to acknowledge that the hatred of Jews is not primarily caused by the Middle East conflict, nor by actions taken by the Trumps of this world, but by the age-old belief of their Jew-hating forbearers across the globe, that Jews are a conspiracy for evil in the world? The Middle East conflict is the result, not the cause, of this appalling hatred of Jews.

Today, it is terrifying, not least because of the attitude of our society, which far from springing to the defence of Jews against inexcusable bigotry and mortal threat, is either indifferent to it or actually shares the prejudice and points a finger at our Israeli brethren for causing the threat.

Today, the non-Jew, in general, not only remains an indifferent individual towards their Jewish brothers and sisters but also to many other sectors of our society. Be it the Yazidis, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, The Yemeni catastrophe, the children of southern Syria, and may I say it, the unspeakable and ongoing persecution in Arab lands of Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian Palestinians. Canada’s smug and self-satisfying image of tolerance to outsiders, compared to how it has treated its First Nations people, has been well documented and continues to be so.

Today, we make direct comparisons to what apartheid South Africa was and that of Israeli Jews and their Israeli Arab cousins. Insinuations about links between Jews and the Nazis abound daily.  

Today, we have observed what Beijing has called the “biggest [USA-China] trade war in economic history.” At a particular juncture, how many hours will pass before countless non-Jews express their abhorrent display of pathological hatred of Jews by accusing the Jew of having a hand in this trade war, just to make a profit?

In 1762, J.J. Rousseau, the 18th century French philosopher said, “The Jews in Dispersion have not the possibility of proclaiming their own truth to humankind; but I believe that when they once have a free Commonwealth, with schools and universities of their own where they can speak out safely, we shall be able to learn what it is that the Jewish people have to say to us.”

Today, in 2018, 256 years later, yes Jews have one thing to say. “We want frickin peace!”

Today’s world of the Trumptwit. A Canadian perspective.

(This Opinion piece in part has been updated from an earlier version)

– President Trump, take care. He who threatens us Canadians will find us deaf to your threats. We are willing to listen only to rational arguments.”

-To paraphrase Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel (1977 to 1983)

– We are watching a man whose political thirst for power is for many Canadians so repulsive it goes far beyond the pale. And, as it’s been said: His actions are outside the bounds of morality, good behaviour or judgment.

– Trump. He is the archetype of a destructive lost soul whose aim in life is to put a culture of fear into people. If it wasn’t all so pathetically sad his character could be taken right out of a Thomas Pynchon novel!

– Between friends. Black storm clouds have now become the norm on the Canadian-USA border.

by Alan Simons

There are many Trumptwits in this world. Some belong to the world of politics. Some to the corporate sector and some spend their lives trolling on social networking services and online social media. But, the bottom line is this: All Trumptwits must have a supreme leader. And now they certainly have one in the canicula figure of King Trumptwit the First.

It was Euripides who said: “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” 

Canadians, in general, have an admiration towards our friends living to the south of us. After all, many Canadians have close family ties in the U.S.A. going back generations. 

Unfortunately, at the conclusion of last week’s G7 meeting, it became apparent that nothing is more certain today in Canada than of a profusion of black storm clouds that have loomed on our border with the U.S.A. In times of storms, one normally takes shelter with family and friends alike. We are one, so to speak.

Sadly today, President Trump said the unthinkable to the Canadian people. He came outright and stated his promise to punish “the people of Canada” economically because of  Prime Minister Trudeau’s criticism at the G7 meeting against his tariffs. “That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada,” Trump said.

Sadly today, with President Trump in control, we are seeing a shift away from admiration to a “weltschmerz” – a mood of sentimental sadness towards a vast section of the American population that politically seems to have lost its will and direction. This is a President who is intensely disliked by many, riding high on top of a vicious heap of dirty rags, who is thriving to light the destructive match of hatred between its primary neighbour Canada, between Muslims and Christians, between blacks and whites, between the poor and the rich, between its Mexican population and those born in the U.S.A. Trump falsifies credible and substantiated information with such downright bullheadedness and utter ignorance making President Warren Harding look like a genius!

President Trump, Napoleon Bonaparte said: “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” 

Sadly today, anyone who Trump believes doesn’t agree to follow his train of thought had better watch out. The similarity to Dr Strangelove is unnerving. Trump. He embellishes all that is distasteful in an individual. Trump. He is the archetype of a destructive lost soul whose aim in life is to put a culture of fear into people. If it wasn’t all so pathetically sad his character could be taken right out of a Thomas Pynchon novel!

“Le président Trump, avec respect, au nom du Canada, va te faire cuire un oeuf!”

To put it as succinctly as possible, we are watching a man whose political thirst for power is for many Canadians so repulsive it goes far beyond the pale. And, as it’s been said: His actions are outside the bounds of morality, good behaviour or judgment.

Let us not forget, Canada is America’s largest trading partner, and its largest customer, purchasing US$338 billion in goods and services in 2015. Canada buys more from the United States than does any other nation – including all 28 countries of the European Union.

Nearly nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada. In addition, the USA is the most important destination for Canadian direct investment abroad, which totalled $448 billion (stock) in the U.S.A. in 2015.

Other than President Nixon, no other president has done more to build a wall that has fractured the Canadian-American alliance than Trump. In 1971 President Nixon once referred to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the father of Canada’s present Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as a “clever son of a bitch” and “an asshole,” comments that were caught on the White House recording system. Later, when these were revealed, Pierre Trudeau quipped: “I’ve been called worse things by better people.” 

Trumptwits have now become unable to differentiate between ignorance and conscientious stupidity and the ability to make intelligent decisions.”

It was Napoleon Bonaparte who was overheard to say that in politics, stupidity is not a handicap, a statement little Trumptwit subordinates in their eagerness to please their leader are making every effort to accept him as their leader. What this all boils down to is Trumptwits have now become unable to differentiate between ignorance and conscientious stupidity and the ability to make intelligent decisions.

Encouraged by their King, we are experiencing a frightening political infectious disease that contains no international borders. Trumptwit is a language common to many people, irrespective of what country one lives in.

It’s been said little Trumptwits are analogous to the zebra mussel, “a species originally native to the lakes of [Putin’s] southern Russia and accidentally introduced to numerous other areas. It has become an invasive species in many different countries worldwide, including the USA.”

Ordinary, decent Americans have become fearful of the political consequences now taking place in their country, a trait not particularly recognized by many of them before Trump.  But they sure understand it now. And so should you, whatever country you live in. If this is the way President Trump, his subordinates and America treats its congenial neighbour, your country could be next.

We are all dealing with a U.S. President who in a couple of days went from personally threatening citizens of Canada, to a handshaking piss-full of Trumptwit sarcasm love fest, with the leader of a country that is regarded as one the world’s most repressive countries. “A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that the government committed gross, systematic and widespread rights abuses, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture, starvation rations, and forced labor. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent.”

By all accounts,  looking at the body language of the North Korean leader, he was at a loss to understand Trump was ridiculing him, an impropriety we have become well-aware of in Canada.

This is Trump’s way of communicating.  As adults, we had better get used to it.

* * *

Alan Simons is the publisher and founder of jewishinfoNews.

Sources: Photo credit Strangelove, sillyfunda. Financial data, Canada-USA trade & Investment source: Global Affairs Canada.

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