Friday, January 25, 2008

NIE Report and Iran's Nuclear Challenge

NIE Report and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge
Ali Asghar Kazemi
January 2008


Amid heated debate about US President
claim that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could start World War III, the official NIE report on the matter came as a shock to all. Whatever the true intention behind the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran’s nuclear project, it had the following immediate consequences:
It prompted the Islamic regime to construe the report as a proof of innocence and peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities;
It gave Iranian hardliners some self-confidence and security assurance about their defying stance;
It encouraged “revolutionary coast guard” to challenge US warships’ “transit passage” through the Strait of Hormoz during recent Bush’s trip to the region;
It instilled Russians to deliver the first shipment of enriched uranium for Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr as a deterrent safeguard against any eventual preemptive strike;
It induced Russia and China to stiffen their position on the matter in the UN Security Council;
It relieved US President from a mounting psychological pressure exerted by Neo-Con folks in Washington to go for military option against Iran; and finally
It assured pacifists in America and elsewhere that the United States will not venture another war in the Middle East. .....Continued...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Global Context of Knowledge

The Global Context of Knowledge

Ali Asghar Kazemi
January 2008


The age of internet and mass communication has created an environment in which we are compelled to think beyond conventional geographic and political boundaries. Proponents of globalism believe that we have no other choice than to conform to the requisites of a democratic culture and make use of a world language in order to express ourselves and exchange views with others. Opponents of globalization are quite skeptical about this development and warn against dangerous impacts of this trend on native cultures and languages around the globe. ...More..

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Iran: Political Impact of the Cold

Iran: Political Impact of the Cold
Ali Asghar Kazemi


The start of the year 2008 will be remembered in current history of Iran. On January 1st 2008 Iran has experienced an unprecedented cold and snowy weather. This same day, pipelines which provided Turkmenistan gas to northern Iran was shut down without prior notice, at least to people caught in the terrible cold.

While climatic changes are among crucial environmental factors which threaten the security and well being of mankind, political dimensions of the matter are significant as well. Governments caught in such natural calamities often blame extraordinary conditions to justify their incapacity to tackle with environmental crises. Iran’s incumbent system did the same during the unprecedented cold of January 2008.

With regards to the stoppage of Turkmenistan gas at this very critical time it was first claimed by government officials that the matter pertained to technical problem. But, soon it was revealed by some domestic newspapers that the problem was deeper than a simple technical matter and related to a long dispute about the price of gas between the two countries. The unexpected harsh weather only brought the matter to the surface.

Engulfed in a terrible cold and snow storm with no heating facilities, people of the majority of provinces started to complain about the incapacity of the government to handle the crisis. Meanwhile many thousands of household gas connections were either completely cut off or became unusable because of lack of pressure. Hundreds of cars were caught in blizzard in principal roads without much help.

The political impact of the cold began to show up when high official started to beg people for economizing and reducing gas consumption. The government ordered industries to shut down production in order to redirect gas to household consumption. Indeed, the cold came to the assistance of political opponents as an opportunity to criticize the hard-line government in the coming parliamentary elections campaign.

Hardliners are anxious to loose their majority seats in the Parliament which seems to be a possibility in the present situation. However, they count on other leverages which could work in their favor in order to change eventual adverse results of the elections.

There is no question that the cold weather at the beginning of winter has shown its enduring impact upon the present political scene of Iran in the following directions:
· Though the Islamic regime owes much of its strength and endurance to low level conflicts and crises, however it has never been ready to face natural disasters and events beyond the control and management capability of inefficient institutions;
· The governmental institutions and machinery are incapable of handling sudden environmental crises such as earthquakes, floods, extreme cold and other natural hazards;
· Lack of strategic insight and contingency planning make it very hard for a self-proclaimed revolutionary regime to tackle with crisis situations;
· Political opponents are no better than the incumbent authorities, because the matter is deep-rooted in the structural and institutional deficiencies;
· Sentimental and not rational approach to foreign policy has already caused much damage to our national and public interests. Turkmenistan irresponsible attitude during the last cold calamities is only one example to be remembered;
· Although it is sure that hard-liners will capitalize on this catastrophe to claim success in handling the crisis, there is no doubt that the government should be taken accountable for its mismanagement and misinformation which caused the death of more than hundred innocent people and huge loss of production during the cold.

Environmental changes are now accepted facts of life on the globe either by natural causes or through man-made artificial reasons. Strategists even go further to predict that future conflicts among nations would be environmental. This is to say that technologically advanced nations are now capable, at least theoretically, to cause inundation or drought by manipulating the clouds over a hostile territory.

Thus, common sense dictates that states should be prepared in their contingency plans for any unexpected natural or artificial events which could have adverse social and political impact upon them. /

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Persian Hypocrisy

The Persian Hypocrisy*
Ali Asghar Kazemi
January 2008


Ever since the hard-line government came to power in Iran and attempted to solve various problems of the country by force and populist policies, inflation, unemployment and other social troubles got out of control in various sectors of the society. At first officials denied the whole quandary and blamed liberals and enemies of Islam for fabricating propaganda in order to weaken the popular government.

Gradually the matter became so flagrant and critical that even hard-line MP’s in the Islamic Parliament (Majlis) started to nag and criticized the government for its failure in containing the galloping inflation. Finally the President and other high officials admitted to some extent the existence of these problems but, as expected, they put the blame on domestic invisible evils hand and extraneous factors for the anomalies.

Indeed, Inflation, unemployment, poverty, corruption, drugs abuse, robbery, burglary, forgery, assault, petty crimes and other social ills are familiar occurrences in almost all societies. But when these events grow out of proportion in a religious state such as Iran, the matter requires serious attention.

Official media usually depicts only parts of the problems and others prefer not to cover such events fearing regime discontent which could be very costly. Nevertheless, from time to time when bad news pierces their way to mass media, we realize that their propagation is amazingly dangerous. For instance, you would hear that in just one day hundreds of burglars, thieves, mobs and drug traffickers are arrested in the streets of Tehran and handed over to the justice department. Apparently, the Justice department is compelled to release them back to the streets because lack of sufficient rooms in jails and detention houses; and the vicious circle goes on and on.

Tremendous gap between the haves and have-nots has created an extremely hostile environment among people in big cities such as Tehran. Flashy cars, lavish restaurants, sumptuous shops and luxury houses are indeed very repulsive to people who really can’t afford their daily bread. Without a doubt, the situation is susceptible to create clash between various layers of the society. There seems to be no chance that the government could tackle with the problem the way it has been doing so far. This will incite little people to solve their misery outside the realm of law, ethics and rationality.

Of course many descent and honest poor people may take the hardship as a misfortune, fate, and bad luck. But needy greedy populaces don’t see the matter this way and are tempted to revolt against such injustice in their own ways. Realizing to be unable to claim justice from the government, they will go after wealthy and opulent targets in order to put things straight and get their share. Car thefts, burglaries, assaults, larceny, bank robbery etc. are ordinary occurrences in big cities. In their view this is a handy way to get around poverty, injustice and unfair distribution of wealth and oil revenue promised by the president!

For example, commuting to your work by car is a risky affair these days; since you are always susceptible to fall into some sort of tricky trap laid on your way in order to drag you into some kind of trouble. Phony accidents for stealing your valet or hand bag, asking money for faked injury and damages, staging scenario to eject you out of your SUV, stabbing you to death for stealing your car; and other hazardous incidents, are ordinary occurrences in the daily life.

Forgery and counterfeiting of all kind of documents: academic degrees, driving license, identity card, certificate of conscript, invoice, letter of credit, money bill, traveler’s checks, etc. are common lucrative business. You can get any degree from any university in any academic and professional field by few hundreds dollars. You can obtain any kind of hard drug in the corner of the street or in public parks. They are cheaper and more accessible than cigarettes.

If you decide to spend your life saving to buy an apartment or a piece of land, you may end up becoming victim of a fraudulent deal. Charlatans, imposters swindlers and moon-shiners are waiting for you every where. Use and abuse of sacred names and religious symbols for cheating you are common business and you should always be cautious of not being rip-off here and there.

There is no doubt that these plagues can not be remedied by mere force, coercive measures or even enacting of laws and regulations. When poverty and injustice surpass its tolerable threshold, social disruption is inevitable. In such circumstances, if the ruling system proves incapable to cure the malaise and show signs of weakness and perplexity, people may revolt against it; otherwise they will launch at each other’s throats.

Elections days are nearing and officials are showing their friendly faces. Hard-liners are more or less confident of their victory in the parliament. Nonetheless, they make believe to need people’s support to remain in power. But in practice, both rulers and ruled only pretend to be gratifying each other while permanently planning for mutual deception. This is hypocrisy par excellence which is becoming rule of the game in this land of legend.

Persian hypocrisy has had tremendous impact upon Iran’s history. It has misled governments and rulers in their evaluation of the situation. Contemporary political process, from constitutional revolution to Mossadeq era and later the 1979 revolution, which caused the downfall of monarchy in Iran, is vivid consequences of this characteristic.

The “amazing Persian” who has survived throughout the time elapsed by adapting himself to repression, deprivation and decadence, is experiencing yet another era of hardship and confusion in his long tumultuous history. God knows where the present trend will drag our nation and the future generations. /


* This is the third and last commentary on the subject of Politics and Hypocrisy. To read the previous articles see Strategic Discourse .