Naj on Washington DC, old posts, and a great history site

Looking at my archives under “Iran” I find quite a few posts I can look back on with continued interest, even a smidgin of pride in having done not too bad a job, for a blogger. Here is a selection.

But what had gone before? And why might the Ayatollah’s revolution at first have seemed appealing? Here is one interesting account by NPR Producer Davar Ardalan. And here is another: Former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Fereydoun Hoveyda, “speaks to Global News Net for three hours on issues of both heart and mind. These include his thoughts on the dangers of fundamentalist Islam; the past and future of Iran; Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and son; the forces which resulted in the Iranian Revolution of 1979; the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and Yassir Arafat; George W. Bush; and the lasting legacy of his martyred brother, former Iranian Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda.”

See Wikipedia on the last Shah of Iran, a very mixed blessing that one. See also The United States and the Shah.

Sadly, the worst of Iran seems likely to triumph in the current elections there. It could be argued that George Bush’s sabre-rattling has assisted these Iranian troglodytes.

No guarantee all the links in that quote still work, but it is interesting that this was a topic that came up in conversation with my Iranian neighbour last night, when I asked him to have a look at Naj’s blog, especially the last two posts there and maybe tell me what he thinks.  I find these posts extraordinarily thought-provoking.

First An Ode to Life in America (19 March 2013).

On the eve of Persian New Year, sitting on my bed, looking out at the dark midday skies over Washington DC, from a window with one of the “most patriotic” views in the country: looking down onto the Capitol Hill, and Washington monument and even Pentagon if I stretch myself a bit, with the Marine Corp graves at walking distance, and the war-supplying BAE systems not too far.

I am posting it because this freshly decorated house was just set up two hours after I received the official letter of my termination from a job that I did not even start. Hubby and I decided to have the little furniture pieces I bought two weeks ago shipped, so I can enjoy a normal home for a few months, vacationing in DC as a tourist…

My 4-week ordeals in America have been educational and to have joined the American health-care workforce was a great experience (although financially costly and hassling):

Lesson 1: There is no freedom of speech in America!
Lesson 2: Corporates in America are criminal!
Lesson 3: The health-care market in America is scammed by insurance industry!
Lesson 4: American workers are prisoners to corporations, self-censoring, ratting on each other, scared and timid to ask, to question, to challenge anything that is ordered to them from above…

Second, The Heart of Dystopia: Washington DC (25 March 2013).

My newyear sun rose on Washington DC; the city where I moved to because of first curiousity and next the promise of “sky is the limit”. Those who knew me, warned me that I was not the sort to find happiness in America. they were right. I am leaving, in a hurry, there is too much WAR in this city for me to survive it sane or healthy. I must leave.

This city is depressing me. Not because my “free-speaking” led to my prompt termination based on the “employment-at-will” law of DC; but because in every corner of this capital city I look, I am reminded of  WAR…

Naj’s blog was a great source during 2009 especially, when Iran experienced that period of democratic protest – in which, incidentally, my neighbour was involved. Back to Naj:

Dystopia has now a real tone for me, after spending a lot of time talking to various government offices, with people introducing themselves with their agent-code and speaking to me in a tone that has made me pause in a few occasion to ask: sorry is this a human or a voice-robot. No, I am not kidding.

In Washington DC, the hub of the WAR industry, the heart of the “country of the free”, I am learning that those who “would NEVER live under the Iranian dictatorship”,  would also not risk losing their livelihood that is tied to DoD, Pentagon, CIA or the Hill. For there is this thing in DC called “employment at will”, that enables those in the upper food chain, to just fire those below without really needing to explain much. Association with a “careless” “opinionated” person like me might be too impudent for someone’s income. It is an illusion perhaps, but it is a strong illusion, one that makes you pathologically paranoid, and forces me to be in the “offensive” and “defensive” simultaneously–it is making me into a fighter, the wrong kind though.

Is this merely reflexive of Naj’s personal life issues, or is it an indicator – albeit disturbing – of the reality of this current world?

I also now have a Pakistani neighbour. He is a friendly person, but does appear to be a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. The Pentagon/CIA did it. We have had quite civil discussions where I expressed some scepticism about this, but I know a lot out there subscribe, perhaps especially in places like Pakistan. Perhaps as the latest drone buzzes overhead it all seems a touch more plausible there. I was rude enough to mention Elvis and moon landings, however.

My neighbour does construct an orderly narrative, in which much depends on a detailed account of the chronology of 9/11 and the subsequent action in Afghanistan. Now I have come upon an excellent resource – perhaps for the neighbour as much as myself: Complete 911 Timeline on History Commons, which has been called “the undisputed gold standard of truth research.”  It begins thus:

July 2001: Member of Al-Qaeda’s Hamburg Cell Detained in Jordan and Then Let Go

Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a member of the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, is detained in Jordan and then let go. According to a German intelligence official speaking in 2002, Zammar is in transit through Jordan. However, the official will not say where Zammar is going, where he is coming from, or why he is held. Zammar is detained for several days and then deported back to Germany.[WASHINGTON POST, 6/12/2002] When Zammar is questioned by German intelligence shortly after 9/11 (see Shortly After September 11-October 27, 2001), he will mention his detention in Jordan. He will say that Jordanian officials “asked me about Afghanistan, the people there, my beliefs, contacts in Jordan, and my party membership. By party membership that meant whether I was a follower of Hezbollah, Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad, or Osama bin Laden.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/18/2003]Interestingly, in the beginning of July, CIA Director George Tenet made an urgent request to allied intelligence agencies to arrest anyone on a list of known al-Qaeda operatives (see July 3, 2001). In 1999, US intelligence determined that Zammar was in contact with one of Osama bin Laden’s senior operational coordinators, and the US notes Zammar’s terrorist links on numerous occasions before 9/11 (see Summer 1999), so Zammar would be a likely candidate for Tenet’s list. Zammar also was the target of a German intelligence investigation that started in 1996 and lasted at least three years (see 1996)…

Speaking of Afghanistan, did you see Four Corners last night? An extract from the interview following:

KERRY O’BRIEN: And of course the military and the police are there to act as a secure force to back the rule of law, but what is the rule of law in Afghanistan? What is the state of governance in Afghanistan? Is there an area of government anywhere in the country where corruption and abuse of power are not entrenched?

DAVID KILCULLEN: I think you’re putting your finger on what I think is actually the most important aspect of this whole thing. A lot of people are worried about the military side and how are we going to get to 2014? How are we going to hand over to the Afghans effectively and prevent the Taliban coming back?

And I think that’s the issue but it’s not the most important issue. The most important issue is governance and politics. And I would centre it on a couple of issues that you mentioned – corruption and rule of law, but also on the specific event of the 2013 Afghan presidential elections.

President Karzai right now is in his second term. The Afghan constitution limits the president to two terms and when he comes to the end of his term, there’s no identified successor, and there’s going to be some significant transitional issues politically across Afghanistan.

And when you add to that very pervasive corruption and abuse of rule of law, I think you’ve got some really significant challenges that to my mind actually dwarf the problems of the military transition.

I think we’ll get there. I think we’ve actually done a pretty good job militarily in defeating the Taliban in the field. We’ve done an okay job in standing up the Afghan military. That’s all messy but it’s going to hold.

The issue is the political side and the governance side. If we can’t get that to hold then everything we’ve done will be for naught.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But that’s…

DAVID KILCULLEN: And that I think is still very much an open question…

Also one must acknowledge the excellent series in the Sydney Morning Herald lately by Paul McGeough — and also here.


I recalled another archive of my posts:  especially The march of folly and the guns of war (20 September 2007).

Still true, as is Don’t Blitz Iran — Brian Cloughley (April 18, 2006). But they won’t take any notice of me, will they?

See also: Inside Iran (August 27, 2007); Iran, Hilaly, The Heathlander, and trying to keep some perspective… (April 10, 2007); Visiting Israeli fascist’s advice spurned? (February 17, 2007); Dissenting Jews on Israel (February 6, 2007); They would have to be mad of course… (February 3, 2007); Eteraz on Iran (December 16, 2006); Building peace on a foundation of lies? (December 14, 2006); Robert Scheer tells it like it is… (August 3, 2006); From The Poet: How We Miss Yitzhak Rabin (July 31, 2006); Three from Truthout (July 26, 2006); The new war in the Middle East — Sojourners (July 22, 2006); Strong stuff from the grumpy old man from Burgundy (June 3, 2006); CounterPunch: always provocative, sometimes enlightening (May 15, 2006); Raed Jarrar is hard to rebut on Iran (May 13, 2006); The Backlash Against Democracy Promotion (April 28, 2006); Zbigniew Brzezinski: Been there, done that (April 24, 2006); Yet more from The Poet (April 13, 2006). So I really have had a bit to say, or I have added thoughts to this“commonplace book” of my blog, on quite a few occasions. I just don’t see much point to banging on about it every day.