Is war imminent? I hope not.

Just moments ago I came in the door after a morning run. Greeting me at the top step of the stairway of my apartment was my Pitbull Marcus. I hadn’t been this happy to see him in a while.

Marcus woke me up by vomiting this morning. The moron had broken into a Ziploc bag containing his dog food (despite his earlier dinner) and hours later, had to let it out some way.

I cleaned up the barf (really makes me wonder why anyone wants kids) and put on my shoes for a run.

Crossing Madison Avenue I noticed a headline on our local paper, the Times Union. Apparently now a paper known for its restraint is handicapping a war or at least the chances of one.

More than 50 years ago Mohammed Mossadeg, the aging, bird-like but grandfatherly president of Iran made his first transatlantic flight to address the United Nations. The issue he was here for, one on the minds of so many Iranians: The right to protect their national interest and get a fair return on the oil pumped from their land by a heartless company based in the dying British Empire. Michael Kirzner’s All the Shah’s Men, a fabulous book, recounted the secular president’s trip as one of do or die consequence. If the United Nations could not understand how a sovereign nation could demand better treatment of its workers on its own oil fields operated by a foreign state-run petroleum company bent on withholding as much in dignity as in money, then his country was surely doomed.

A cane-carrying Mossadeg, erudite but emotional, kind but stern, made his appeal to the newly formed world body, a passionate address in which he urged member nations to see the plight of underpaid workers and the sorry state of his country, which had long been dominated by imperial interests. Tears streamed Mossadeg’s face, newspapers reported. A subsequent meeting between him and U.S. President Harry S. Truman was pleasant and Truman urged the leader to stay a few days longer while he negotiated with the British to no avail. Mossadeq left the U.S. embittered and broken. Within two years he was arrested in a U.S.-backed coup d’etat brokered by a lukewarm Dwight Eisenhower and lived out the rest of his life under house arrest, a broken man.

Yesterday evening a different type of Iranian statesman touched down in New York City and is expected to address the General Assembly at Turtle Bay. Petulant, fire breathing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will likely rouse furor when among other things he speaks to his foreign peers but also makes a speaking engagement uptown at Columbia University.

Although the two leaders could not be much more different in their philosophies and approaches, the secular Mossadeg and the fundamentalist Ahmadinejad are tied together through the fabric of recent history by their disdain of the United States. Mossadeg truly thought we would avert the intervention that put his nation under the thumb of a brutal dictator. Ahmadinejad came to prominence as a young man by unseating that dictator and as a part of a youth movement dedicated to a hatred of the United States, would install harsh clerical rule of nearly every facet of Iranian life. One could say the 1979 hostage standoff of U.S. State Department employees in Tehran was the innevitable result of meddling two decades earlier or as intelligence experts call it, blowback.

No one doubts Ahmadinejad’s worldview and designs. He is the representative of a nation run by ayatollahs so virulent in their devotion to Shiite extremism that they are willing to jail opposition, subvert free expression and execute opponents at will. Ahmadinejad would like to usher in a new era of Persian dominance in the Arab lands. He would like to obtain a nuclear weapon to help him with that end (perhaps no arrogant intelligence officer in 1953 ever imagined one day the Iranians would have harnessed their newfangled technology).

Despite sharing his birthday, I have nothing in common with the hate-spewing Iranian leader. I don’t like him the way I don’t like any dictator (although he was democratically elected). He’s a pig, a monster.


No matter how much we may dislike Ahmadinejad, it is important that we understand his tenacity and recognize his vulnerability too, before we do anything rash or untoward as we did in 2003 when we invaded her neighbor Iraq, which may soon be under the thumb of Iran.

During the 1980’s we funneled money and provided diplomatic support to the Saddam Hussein in his brutal war of attrition against Iran. The maniac used chemical weapons against his Persian enemy. We knew about it. We not only allowed it to happen, Ronald Reagan’s administration supported it. In essence, we supported a war of terror so brutal against the Iranian people that today many young adults are fatherless.

In essence, the bed we’re lying in with Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Council of Iran is one we’ve helped make. It’s hard to forgive terrorism, as our president is quick to point out about Ahmadinejad. Lest we be anymore ahistorical, let’s remember that we helped Hussein carry out atrocities so unforgivable against Iran, that we should be thankful anyone in that nation looks to us with anything but scorn.

Iran may soon have nuclear weapons–although it insists its uranium enrichment is for purely energy purposes–but within the nation is a weapon that is being built against its leadership, the more than 20 million citizens under the age of 24, who, deprived of a prosperous life after nearly 30 years of religious tyranny, are open to the idea of Ahmadinejad’s ilk some day taking a hike.

Let us not squander our solidarity with millions of Iranians who despite the threat of imprisonment, run Web logs and news groups to challenge the official line. Let’s not forget how many clips exist on yahoo, made by Iranians at home or in American cities such as Los Angeles portraying the virulent clerical leadership of their nation. Let’s not forget a nation of young people yearning for actual freedom, the type that doesn’t come from being bombed.

There’s a lot of tough talk from cowards like Rudy Giuliani and propaganda institutions such as FOX News about being tough on Iran and bombing its reactors or even doing what only the most delusional person could support, which is an invasion.

Iran would be the victor in that conflict. Not only is their terrain familiar, but our armed forces are stretched thin. We have given Iran an ally in Iraq. We would be toast. But the greatest threat to Ahmadinejad are those young people, yearning for something closer to our system. However nice tha tthought may be, democracy comes from within a nation, not from outside and only our diplomatic support of Iranian democracy will truly spell the end of the clerics.

When we foolishly invaded Iraq, it seems our leaders were blind to its neighbor, who will mobilize, with the memories of coup and chemicals, to destroy us.

I was happy to see my dog, wagging his tail and trying to lick me with his sick tongue because on my run I was sad thinking of the newspaper box I’d seen and the headline mentioning war with Iran. I don’t want war and I certainly don’t want a war we can’t win. I want peace and stability, which was all that Mossadeg wanted. I only hope we can have that.

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One Response

  1. Very well said. It really does seem in these days that the lunatics are running the asylum, and it can be very discouraging and frustrating. The greatest weapon against those debilitating emotions are speaking out, and coming together. If you’re interested in more about the US/Iranian connection, please visit my blog and read the third of fourth story down, ‘The Secret History of the War the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know About.’ And keep up the great work. Oh, ps, WHERE did you get that pic of the young, rather er…passionate, Red Sox fan???? It’s priceless. As a Red Sox fan myself, I can attest that I wasn’t taught the secret Red Sox chant (“Yankees Suck!”)until I hit puberty…apparently, the times they are a-changin’…

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