Monday, December 7, 2009

Iran, Protests, Internet Blackout, and Nuclear Bombs

Iran is in the news again today. If the reports resemble the sort of reporting we used to get from distant lands, back in pre-Internet days, there's a reason.

'Noted and recorded' excepts from the news are at the end of this post.

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Iran has - right now - the parts and tools it takes to build one nuclear fission bomb. And vehicles that could send such a bomb to Israel.
  • Netanyahu also says that Iran's leadership is losing respect - and legitimacy.
  • Today is National Students Day in Iran, and there are protests.
    • Against the June "election."
  • Iran's police are using tear gas - and live bullets - against the protesters.
People on the same page, more or less, as Iran's Ayatollahs, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, can ignore the first two news items - or use them as more "proof" of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy.

Me? I think Prime Minister Netanyahu has a fairly well-defined point of view. And, in all probability, would just as soon not have a nuclear bomb go off over his country. Well, everybody has biases of some sort.

I also think that anti-Semetism is alive and well, but nowhere near as popular as it was after the 1940s and places like Dachau and Auschwitz were liberated. Chancellor Hitler did no favors for either the traditional practice of blaming the Jews or eugenics. But that's another topic. (September 29, 2009, for starters)

"Death to the Dictator" - With a Twist

Back in the "good old days," news of a demonstration somewhere and chants of "death to the dictator" could be counted on to be of the reassuringly familiar anti-American sort. After all, 'everybody knows' that the American Empire (which doesn't show up on the map, oddly enough), and/or the military-industrial complex was the focus of animosity. After all, as 'everybody knows,' America is pretty much all icky and oppresses people something fierce.

Today, at a University in Iran, people are protesting the dubiously-legitimate election in June.
"...Police in Tehran shot tear-gas canisters at demonstrators, who chanted, 'Death to the dictator' and set garbage bins afire. Hundreds of security forces in riot gear stood alongside streets, witnesses said...."
In context, it's fairly clear that the "dictator" is the Ayatollahs' pick in the June election, who just happened to win. In a statistically-improbable way.

The LA Times deserves credit for pointing out what Iran's "National Students Day" is about:
"...National Students Day marks a violent crackdown on a 1953 protest against a visit by then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon following a U.S.-backed coup d'etat that ousted the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and restored the absolute rule of the monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.Since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, the day has traditionally been an occasion for high school and college students take to the streets and chant anti-American slogans...."

"...On Sunday night, loud cries of 'Allah akbar,' or 'God is great,' could be heard being shouted in Tehran neighborhoods and campuses in what has become a regular protest ritual since the disputed vote...."

"...'They ask us to forget about the election results as if the problem is only the elections,' [opposition leader Mir Hossein] Mousavi said in a recent statement published on the Internet. 'The problem of our people is not who the head of the government is or who is not. The problem is that this few are bolstering their egos to the shame of a great nation.'

"He added, 'You fight people on the streets, but you are constantly losing your dignity in people's minds.'..."
(Los Angeles Times)

America isn't Perfect, and Never Has Been

I don't think America is perfect, and have written about this lack before: On the other hand, although I don't have the fashionable anti-American attitude, I also don't think that a bicameral legislature and strong democratic traditions are the one and only 'right' way to run a country. (November 15, 2009, December 29, 2008)

Moving along.

"Allah Akbar" - That's Anti-American, Right?

Wrong. In my opinion, anyway. That bit, "loud cries of 'Allah akbar,' or 'God is great,' " isn't something that you're likely to hear in America, but that doesn't make something anti-American.

The 'default' religion in American is a sort of Protestant Christianity. (April 16, 2008) And, for several decades now, the more intelligent and sophisticated and tolerant (just ask them) Americans "know" that citing Christian beliefs in public is just like the KKK burning crosses back in the fifties or sixties. You can't argue with logic like that. (August 5, 2008)

Besides, I've gotten the impression that quite a few Americans don't take their religious beliefs all that seriously - or think religion is a "private" thing, and doesn't have any place in the workplace or in public discussion. Which is a topic for another blog.

In sharp contrast, quite a few people in countries where Islam is a common faith aren't ashamed of their faith, give a rip about what they say they believe, and aren't embarrassed or ashamed to apply their faith to what an American might call "real life."

Hence, "Allah Akbar" or "Allahu Akbar" being part of public demonstrations.

And remember, it looks like this time it's part of a strongly-held belief that the Ayatollahs' government isn't acting well. At all.

Anti-American? Doesn't look like it. Something you aren't likely to hear in carefully secular America? Yeah, I think so.

The Ayatollahs Learned Something From That Neda Thing

Remember Neda Agha-Soltan? (Persian: ندا آقا سلطان - Nedā Āġā Soltān; 1982 – June 20, 2009 (Wikipedia))

Looks like the Ayatollahs do, too:
"...Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia had warned the opposition not to use the rally to revive protests against the clerical establishment after the June vote.

""Internet and mobile phone connections were also affected by an official clampdown. "The network in central Tehran and near Tehran university is completely down," said one website...."
I think that (attempted) Internet and telecommunications blackout are a response to the embarrassment of the non-shooting undeath of Neda: who at at one point hadn't been killed, and anyway the CIA did it or foreigners or something like that.


It looks like Iran's leaders learned something from the Neda fiasco. And, tried to control the flow of information this time.
It Can't Happen Here?
Remember, I said I don't think American has ever been perfect? I don't think it will be, either. Which is why I very emphatically do not want 'the government' to 'protect' me and my family from the big, bad Internet, the Wicked, Wicked Web, impertinent bloggers, or anyone else with opinions that may not meet with official approval. (March 9, 2008)

Nuclear War? Not Impossible

I sincerely hope that people in Iran who don't agree with the Ayatollah's peculiar take on Islam get control of the country - before the Supreme Leader decides to start a nuclear war.

The way Iran is going now, I think it's possible that Russia may actually fire the first shot. The current Russian government has declared a first-strike policy for using nuclear weapons. (January 19, 2008)

It's not hard to imagine, if things get tense enough, that Russian leaders decide that, all things considered, they'd rather have Tehran disappear with a bright flash, than have the same thing happen to Moscow.

I hope that doesn't happen: but the Supreme Leader may decide that Allah's telling him to destroy the infidel bear.

Related posts: In the news: Background:
Noted and recorded:
" 'Iran can now produce nuclear bomb' "
Jerusalem Post (December 7, 2009)

"Iran now has the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb and the only thing separating it from the bomb is the decision to go ahead and build one, said Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence's research division, on Monday.

"Speaking at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Baidatz said Iran had successfully enriched 1,800 kilograms of uranium, enough to build over one bomb...."

"Netanyahu Says Iranian Leaders Losing Support"
Reuters, via The New York Times (December 7, 2009)

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel had benefited from what he called the Iranian government's loss of legitimacy, both among other states and with its own people.

"Speaking to a closed session of the parliamentary defence committee, as quoted by an official, Netanyahu repeated his view that Israel must prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons but gave no indication of if or when Israel might use military force -- an option his government has refused to rule out...."

"Violent clashes erupt in Iran as protesters renew outcry over June presidential election"
Los Angeles Times (December 7, 2009)
"Police, protesters clash in Tehran on National Students Day. The event marks a 1953 crackdown on protests after a U.S.-backed coup, but activists use the occasion for anti-government demonstrations."

"Reporting from Beirut - Anti-government protests surged in Iran this afternoon as college students in several cities clashed with security forces armed with clubs in the latest round of confrontations over the nation's disputed presidential elections."

"Police in Tehran shot tear-gas canisters at demonstrators, who chanted, "Death to the dictator" and set garbage bins afire. Hundreds of security forces in riot gear stood alongside streets, witnesses said...."

"Iranian police shoot at unarmed protesters during Tehran demonstrations" (December 7, 2009)
"Iranian police fired tear gas and live bullets as they fought back thousands of unarmed protesters on the streets of Tehran."

"There were bloody clashes as young people launched a fresh wave of anti-government protests on the country's official Students Day.

"Police used warning shots, baton charges and gas but failed to stop rallies, sit-ins and campus marches across the capital...."

"...Earlier in the day, the authorities detained 23 members of a protest group of grieving mothers. They included the mother of Neda Agha-Soltan, known as the "Angel of Freedom", who was shot by pro-government militia at the height of demonstrations against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June...."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.