Friday, March 2, 2007

Sitting Down to Talk, or Musical Chairs?

Suddenly the U.S. government is willing to sit down and talk with Iran and Syria. Add to that the apparent new willingness to act reasonably toward North Korea (as long as North Korea satisfies U.S. demands, of course), and one has to ask what’s going on.

Has “The Decider” or his snarling Iago VP experienced an epiphany? Has a present-day Saul of Tarsus, traveling on the road to Damascus with the intention of doing as much damage there as possible, been struck by a blinding light and converted to the pursuit of peace?

Or, even more improbably, has Israel undergone some similar miraculous change and been cured of the notion that the Jewish state can’t survive without the destruction of all the other states in the region?

Common sense says the answers to those questions is “No.” Still, why the apparent about-face from saber rattling and almost daily threats by the U.S. and Israel to bomb Iran, to a willingness to sit down and talk?

I recently asked whether the public threats against Iran could be more psychological warfare than expressions of actual intent to attack in the immediate future. We now need to look at the other side of the coin: Does the willingness to have discussions with two neighbors of Iraq whose previous offers of talks and help have been rudely brushed aside mean that there really is a change of U.S./Israeli policy (the two have been inseparable and indistinguishable to date), or is this new conversion on the roads to Damascus and Tehran a mere feint?

One can surmise that a brief show of willingness by the Bush gang to engage in talks with Syria and Iran is empty propaganda designed to place the U.S. on higher moral ground while Israel bombs Iran with U.S. backing. Or it could be a pretense of diplomacy to enable the U.S. to say in the future, after the U.S. itself attacks Iran, “Well, you can’t say we didn’t try talking first.” The latter possibility is supported by the opinion I recently expressed that the Bush “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq may be primarily in preparation for an American attack on Iran.

A new and incredibly better world would dawn if the U.S. broke free and refused any longer to play Zionism’s game of domination and destruction, but it will take more than contradictory public statements by the Bush administration’s seasoned liars to persuade the world that anything has really changed. At the very least, it’s safe for Bush to make a phony show of willingness to talk when so many ways to sabotage the proceedings are readily at hand.

I liken Washington’s “change of heart” to the wolf donning the nightgown of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, but the New York Times called the “U.S. overtures to foes”* “new respect for pragmatism.”

Time will tell whether it’s true pragmatism or a deception. I would say that an article which credits American Secretary of State Rice with personally originating and initiating important foreign policy strategies shows that the NYT is out of touch with reality in all respects. Watching the Bush administration’s performance is like watching a magician’s stage show: If it ever looks real, you need to remind yourself that it’s all illusion.

*Why is the word “foes” applied to countries which have never so much as disturbed a grain of sand on an American beach?

Some views from other countries:

Jordan Times
‘Washington has resisted a regional solution to the debacle the US created in Iraq for far too long, but better now than never.’

Saudi Arabia
‘The US meeting with Syria and Iran may be the lifeboat that gets the US out of Iraq with some success and some moral gains.’

Iran, Voice of the Islamic Republic
‘Without a doubt, the invitation by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Iran and Syria to attend an international conference on Iraqi security could be a starting point for a change of American attitude to Iran and an indication of acceptance by the Bush administration of the reality of the Islamic Republic... Although Iran is quite willing to relieve the pains of the Iraqi Muslims one way or another, and to that end may attend the conference, the real intentions of the American administration remain suspicious.’

Iran, Al-Vefagh
‘Western media highlighted Iranian agreement to attend the conference in an attempt to include it on the list of US achievements. The reality differs from what the Americans would like the world to believe. Iran's participation is not out of the desire to talk to Washington or out of the hope of correcting a disastrous military mentality. Iran, with this decision, has proved its good intentions towards Iraq's interests, freedom and independence and territorial integrity.‘


N. said...

I have a simple analogy:

Iran and the US are this troubled couple that have undergone a violent breakup (reasons complex)
They are now pondering whether to get back together or to divorce.
The mistress (Israel) is doing all in her might to prevent the reunion.
The whore (Saudi Arabia) is doing all in her power to keep Dick, to detriment of both Iran and Israel!

Davo said...

Interesting that you should mention Saul .. and Damascus. Have been pondering a post along those lines about our own PM, the sudden change from "climate change denial" to umm, let's put some policies in place. All crap, of course .. there is a National election within a few months.

J said...

"The reality differs from what the Americans would like the world to believe." (Iran, Al-Vefagh)

Ughh! I wish it said instead, "the American administration". What Americans would like is far from what our President would like.

Fleming said...

N., thanks for the imaginative analogy! I think that everyone who sees it will enjoy it as much as I did.

Fleming said...

Davo, it's quite a coincidence that Saul of Tarsus should come into both our minds after all these years. I'm looking forward to seeing what you write about him, especially if you can enlighten me about the sudden recognition of dangerous climate change.

When you write about Saul, feel free to use the picture I posted. I painted it last weekend.

Fleming said...

J., a point well taken! I'm glad you indicate that what Bush, Cheney & Co. say and do is unrelated to what we American citizens would like. It's sad to admit that Americans are so powerless, in terms of actually being able to form U.S. foreign policy, that they might as well be living on a different planet from "their" government.

Just one example: They elected the Democrats specifically to get America out of Iraq, and the Democrats are proving as effective as a bowl of tapioca pudding.

Sophia said...

Thanks for visiting. I label present US policies in the middle east as USraeli policies.

N. said...

Hi Fleming, on your comment about America's helplessness ... I just thought, no wonder BushCo gets along so well with middle eastern states that do not even have an active discourse around democracy, but beats down on Iranians, who regardless of education, occupation, age or class, are highly polticized in action (until America's foreign policy undoes what they have patiently, painstakingly, threaded, of course!)

Still, when Americans have awakened and spoken loudly, they have made a difference. So I still trust the republic's power. I'm not old enough to say this, but history takes time, and I think this time Zionism will have dug its grave, if it drags the US to war. Bush is acting too Hitlerly to be able to last the test of time much longer!

(I see NO moral difference between the attempt to justify the carpet bombing (nuclearly) of a sovereign country that has NOT BROKEN any laws, has not ever acted aggressively; and the lining up of jews to fume to extinction. Hitler thought his unipolar empire and removing the always critical Jews would bring "peace" to the world!)


N. said...

:( I made a long comment that was devoured by blogspot.

But i think is expressing similar concern as ours in his recent post "a case against Democracy"

No wonder America has no trouble supporting despotism in the middle east, but manages to undo all threads that Iranians weave towards democracy. Perhaps democracy is just not good and other nations should be prevented from bloody struggles to acheive and attain in in their country! Nothing has set Iran's reforms back as much as Bush's rhetorics. Someday, America will have to apologize for this set back, just as they did for the 1953 coup against Mosaddegh!

Fleming said...

Sophia, I think I'll adopt your word, "USraeli". Very good, thank you.

Fleming said...

N., thanks for the very interesting comments. Look at my archives and you'll see that I've also been critical of democracy as well as the use of the word "democracy" by Bush, and have discussed it in the US and Middle Eastern contexts. I'm in favor of freedom, but necessarily of democracy.

You're right, history takes time, and I have no doubt that in the long run Israel in its present form, and people like Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Perle, will be swept into the dustbin of history . . . but how long will it take? I don't like to refer to "the Jews" as such, but I've read the statement that in history the Jews have always pushed too far when they gain an advantage, and that their overreaching brings on a disaster. Their relatively small numbers make them dangerously dependent on controlling much, much larger numbers of people, and when the control fails, look out. The trouble is, I don't see it clearly failing yet.

N. said...

To consider oneself the "selected" can be of dangerous consequences. But I refrain from lumping the Jewish people together with the Zionist people. Take a look at

There, you would find a number of Jewish independent voices against greed!

Again, I don't think that Israel is the problem; Israel is a part of the racist (still) dominant ideologies in Europe and in much of the industrialized world!

Israel is the excuse for never ending the British colonial practices in that region. (Keep in mind that Pakistan was also created out of India's flesh for the same reason. Also keep in mind Western support of Mosharraf who is sustaining himself in power by support of Americans and the Talibans!)

It was not solely the Germans who wished for the suffering of the Jews. And I don't blame the suffering jews for being drawn to the idea of having a land of their own! But again, the planning for Israel began far before WWII, and Europeans, even Germany, were eager to be part of that process, weren't they? Hitler just pushed the idea further! He didn't plant it! And the history is yet to be written on WHO really victimized the Jews!

Paul said...

Very thoughtful, but personally find it impossible to analyze the actions of the Bush administration in rational terms.

I think someday historians will find that Cheney-Bush had genuine "issues" and answers will only come by way of psychoanalyzing...

Nabila Harb said...

I'm afraid that I see this as a very corrupt 'game' between the U.S. and Iran and feel that the idea of 'rapprochement' in any case is not necessarily positive in terms of justice and the Arab Nation. For a start, what would this mean with respect to the illegitimate puppet government in Iraq? The U.S. wants to force the Arab Nation to accept the occupation of Iraq and the downfall of a free Arab Nation as a fait accompli. Moreover, one of the terms of any new 'truce' between the U.S. and Iran would be that Iran abandon Hizb'allah and any support of the Resistance in Iraq. Hizb'allah has been absolutely steadfast in its repudiation of the Zionists and their ambitions.

A few years ago, when Junior Bush was running for a second term of office, a spokesperson for Al Qaeda declared that it would be better if Bush won, because he was an avowed enemy and every one knew where he stood. The entire world knew Bush's ambitions! If some one else won, on the other hand, that new President probably would have very similar aspirations and goals but be able to conceal them for a time...

After all, Clinton was NOT a man of peace either. Many people have forgotten HIS attacks on Afghanistan as well as the fact that he was the one who began to erode the protections given to the poor in the U.S. with his 'welfare reform'... I still would far prefer Clinton to Bush Junior, because Clinton was neither a fanatic nor a megalomaniac.

As far as Iran is concerned, at this point in time, many people believe that the U.S. will offer vague inducements to Iran while encouraging the Zionists to proceed with 'maverick' attacks as they have done so often in the past.

One other point needs to be made here. What is gained if the U.S. does come to some 'diplomatic' agreement with Syria and Iran? It would benefit the U.S. and the Zionists far more than it would benefit the Arab Nation or the Ummah! Two more proud nations to bow the knee to Zionist propaganda, accepting the Jewish hollowcause as religion. Look at the way the Zionists put it: 'Iran has nuclear ambitions AND denies the Holocaust' as if both are inexcusable and equal somehow.

There is some security for the world in a 'balance of power'. Nuclear capacity aside, if a sovereign nation cannot be allowed even to voice its honest opinion of historical events, then there is no hope for any NO balance of power in the world for a long time to come.

Iran is not behaving in a manner that gives hope to any one frankly. If it would be steadfast in its repudiation of the Zionists and steadfast in its support of the Resistance, then it would gain respect in the Arab Nation. Instead, it allowed the U.S. to use its soil as a base to attack Afghanistan, and even while it gives support to Hizb'allah, it negotiates with the U.S. by offering to abandon that support!
One understands what it is like to be threatened by a bully like the U.S. but even so, there has to be some integrity or Iran will fail on every front.

Daniel said...

It is interesting to note the outcry by Americans about what has happened to their democracy but the outcry is not matched by any real action.

How can a handful of Neocons hold 300 million people to ransome? Where has the American spirit gone, the one that was there at the beginning of the nation?

N. said...

Nabila, it would be nice if the Arabs and Ummah stood up for themselves, and didn't expect Iran to make sacrifices for them! The Arabs have done all in their might to weaken Iran in fact. I resent Iran getting the hit because of the Arab Ummah!

Why should Iran be the enemy of Israel while Iranians have no quarrel with Jews and Israelis.

I'm sorry but inside Iran, the majority of people do not really care much about Hizbollah or Hamas. The majority of people also hate these hate mongering mullahs! But for now, we are standing united against Americans.

Fleming said...

N., as always I appreciate your comments, and I'll be rereading and thinking about them. You and Nabila are far beyond me in understanding of the region.

Fleming said...

Paul, welcome! Thanks for visiting and commenting. I think you put the problem of Bush and Cheney very well, and that it is impossible to analyze irrational behavior in rational terms.

This is a bit off your cpmment's
s subject, but after watching several history documentaries lately I've been impressed with the role of power-hungry individuals in bringing about wars. We tend to think in terms of historical "forces", but ambitious individuals are extremely important causes. Unfortunately we have two such people running the U.S. at this time. Their dementia is causing horrible consequences for so many people. The aims of many other people are creating the trend which Bush/Cheney are following, but even so, a different president might make a big difference.

N. said...

Iran is not behaving in a manner that gives hope to any one frankly. If it would be steadfast in its repudiation of the Zionists and steadfast in its support of the Resistance, then it would gain respect in the Arab Nation.

You know Fleming, comments of Nabila infuriate me!

What the hell does Iran want respect of Arab Nation for? Maybe Arab nation should find an Arab country to raise their respect!

Oh wait a minute: they had Saddam! he was their scare crow, wasn't he?

How did they stand behind him? Thy didn't!

So Arab nation can go ...

aaargh. No one has EVER gotten me as mad as this Nabila!

Fleming said...

Daniel, your comment and question are exactly on point as far as my own outrage and frustration is concerned. I wish I could give an optimistic response, but I feel that "the people" are, in the short term, basically powerless.

When it comes to one asking, "What exactly can I do?" the answers are "Vote," and "Write to your congressman" . . . acts which have no effect at all unless you are part of a large pressure bloc.

The Americans did express an outcry when they voted for the Democrats recently, but of course nothing has happened. The whole thing is a farce. As you ask, how can a handful of neocons control a nation? It's due to the cowardice and greed of the politicians and "opinion formers" they are able to control. . . and to their grip on the communications media. Beneath that pinnacle of the pyramid, the people seem powerless unless they are pushed to (1) join large voting pressure groups, or (2) take to the streets. I'm sure you'll agree that the chances of revolutionary activity are slim as long as the people aren't hit too hard in their pocketbooks.

Fleming said...

Nabila, your comment has given me a long period of thought, and I'm still thinking. As I responded to N., you and she are far, far ahead of me in your understanding of the region we're talking about, and I am in elementary school compared to you. Until a short time ago I had no idea there were such tensions between Iran and the Arab world, and there's still much that I don't understand. It's very important to me that I learn more. Thank you.

Fleming said...

N., looking at your latest comment about Nabila, I hope we don't have a war breaking out here. You're a fiery woman!

Nabila Harb said...

N writes: 'Why should Iran be the enemy of Israel while Iranians have no quarrel with Jews and Israelis.'

Well, I hope your view doesn't represent that of ALL Iranians. 'Israel' is an illicit entity, a foreign occupier of Palestine which is part of the Arab Nation. Moreover, I submit that every Muslim must be united in resistance to the entire concept of the Zionist Occupation of Palestine. Not only Muslims, actually... Every individual of integrity who decries 'racism' must be united in resistance to the very concept of a 'land for the chosen people' built on the corpses of the native population.

Fortunately, I happen to know that there are Iranians who are steadfastly opposed to the Zionist entity and indeed, the Revolution in Iran cannot be faulted on those grounds. N, I personally do not equate all Jews with 'Zionism' but I do challenge every Jew to be a human being first and a Jew second.

Furthermore, 'democracy' is a
much-abused word and when it is a cloak for capitalist greed and plutocracy, it does not impress me at all. It is nothing but another one of those propaganda slogans designed to blind people to the facts.

Propaganda is hard at work to create a huge artificial division between Sunni and Shi'ani 'Ali as well. It distresses me enormously to discover Americans who don't know the basic principles of Islam and yet speak about the 'religious war' in Iraq! It is NOT a religious war. There is tribal conflict, which often takes on a spurious 'religious' overtone simply because families tend to belong to the same sects. More than that, however, there is the anarchy and chaos that accompanies the utter destruction of a modern prosperous nation after 13 years of crippling sanctions and foreign invasion. There is absolutely no religious reason for Shia and Sunni to be at one another's throats. The difference is no more extreme than that between Methodists and Lutherans.

Iran is a proud and ancient nation as well as being a vital part of the Ummah. I am not one of those who seeks to widen the rift between Iran and the Arab Nation. On the contrary, I think that unity is the only hope.

N. said...


My apologies Fleming! I went off to my own blog and vented off about Nabila's comment. I don't have a quarrel with her views; but I think it is important to consider that The Iranian government's support of Hizbollah does not translate to Iranian's support of Hizbollah!

I agree with a lot of what Nabila says. I wish she visited me, and helped me understand her comment about "Arab Nation". When someone thinks in pan arabic terms, I tend to very quickly become Pan-persian :) And as I have said elsewhere, Iranians have never forgiven Arabs for bringing them Islam (by sword), 1300 years ago! ;) And you are likely to get a swift wind of "We are not Arabs", if you mistakenly say Iran is a part of the arab world. You can test that fr yourself :)

That said, no, no war will ever break between Nabila and I. I just wanted to show her a bit of the Iranian reality, and to make her realize that Iran will NOT lose on every front, and that Iran's integrity is not dependent on what say the Arab Emarat, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. thinks of it. Iranian government has to respond to 70 million Iranians, first and fore most! People of Iran "DO NOT WANT WAR." (And ironically, majority of Iranian people really do not know much about Palestinian plight. They are too involved in struggling with their own problems with Ahmadinejad to care about anything else!)

But since you mentioned that the dynamics of the middle east are confusing; I thought it was worthwhile to mention that many Iranians do not like the Iranain government's connection to Hezbollah.

The common belief in Iran is that the Iranian fundamentalists who crack down on people's freedom are trained in Lebanese camps. I cannot confirm these rumors, but it is important to know that they are a part of a nation's daily narrative.

But I agree with Nabila that a strong Iran, will create the balance against Israel, and it likely to stabilize the situation.

Sorry for long comment.

N. said...

Well, I hope your view doesn't represent that of ALL Iranians.

They represent the views of the majority of Iranians. Iranians have no quarrel with Israel, the governmet of IRan is seeking foreign Arab alliance because it is unpopular inside Iran. This IS a fact.

If Iranians were to fuss about land, they would still be moping over all that was taken away by Russia almost 200 years ago!

And frankly, I think to make peace and coexist and let away with this "nationalism" is the best option that Arab Nation has. I think a few Arab nations have already come to that realization themselves.

Once Israel is recognized, it will be much easier to fight Zionism and to fight for the rights of Palestinians.

You cannot ask a country that you do NOT recognize to abide by the international law! As long as Arab Nation wants to anihilate Israel, Israel has an excuse to be atrocious! And atrocious Israel is!

Fleming said...

Nabila and N, I have been enthralled by your dialogue. If it continues here or on N's blog, I don't want to miss any of it. You are doing a valuable service to all who read what you say.

I feel relatively well informed about Zionism and its effects, and about Persian history, but I see now how ignorant I am about today's Iran, its dynamics, and the various streams of Iranian thought.

Like Nabila, I vehemently oppose Zionism and Israel and have no sympathy with Israel's insistence on being "recognized"; perhaps there are radical intiatives they could take which would make recognition a possibility (Nabila probably won't agree with that), but at this point I consider them no better than thieves and murderers who have no right to negotiate anything but their own surrender.

I have also unconditionally admired Hizbollah as a defense and welfare organization, and therefore I've admired Iran's support of Hizbollah. I did not know of the division of opinion in Iran regarding Hizbollah. . . and about many other things, for that matter.

I see the Zionist/Arab/Iranian situation from the oversimplified viewpoint of an American whose country is responsible for Israel's crimes, for a criminal war on Iraq, and for threatening Iran with attack. It is very useful for me, and I hope for other readers, to receive Nabila's and N's views. I expect that by reading N's blog, NEO-RESISTANCE, I will gain the greater understanding of Iran that I need, as I've gained a lot of understanding from reading Nabila's blog, UMFALASTIN.

N. said...

Thank you Fleming, for your lovely compliments. You know, when I was in Iran, opposition to Zionism was something that the government said; and we used to hate everything that the government said. It was coming to the west that made me realize what an evil the concept of zionism is. It's similarity to Nazism horrified me. Thus, I am devoted to fighting it.

I think Zionism is responsible for MANY a crime done to humanity over the past century. As I repeatedly have said, I hope someday the history will be written ... for now, the Zionist money owns all of us ...

Best to you and to Nabila.