Monday’s Piers Morgan interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered plenty of thrills, chills and excitement for American viewers of all ages, especially the uneducated and paranoid among them, which includes most of America when it comes to the country of ancient Persian, modern day Iran. For those in the know — Morgan clearly not in that circle (though one doesn’t doubt his sincerity) — there were few surprises. Though CNN tried to promote the interview as “a world exclusive”, the truth is that this is the eighth such annual interview we’ve seen with this Iranian president on CNN, at the least, and considering that he also gave one to Charlie Rose the day before made Morgan’s boyish excitement all the more sophomoric. Every year Ahmadinejad attends the same United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York and every year he endures an endless series of torturous interviews with attention hungry journalists desperate to create any kind of controversy while he is here. And endure he does, with compassion, respect and tolerance. Considering how his country is being treated by the United States and Israel currently it is surprising he comes here at all; the fact that he grants so many interviews with usually ignorant journalists is generous and admirable.
As exciting as the opportunity may have been for Piers (and we don’t want to take that away from the man — let us remember his humble beginnings as a judge on America’s Got Talent just a few short years ago, or even worse his editorial position at a Murdoch owned British tabloid. Edward R. Murrow he is not), I had a similar encounter with President Ahmadinejad in 2008; at the same event, a UN General Assembly meeting, where a small group of us, leaders of the peace activist community gathered at an undisclosed location in Manhattan to discuss and strategize peaceful relations between our respective countries. I’ve also visited his country a few times and met with many of his fellow co-leaders and his predecessor, former President Khatami. One thing that can be said about Ahmadinejad is that he is trustworthy and consistent. Unlike what we are accustomed to in the United States with our own presidents and political leaders, where every other word out of their mouth either contradicts something they said the day before or the cold hard facts in front of us all (making the phrase “fact checker” a necessary household word in this year’s presidential election), the Iranian president has been saying the same things year after year since the moment he took office nearly eight years ago.
Over the last 48 hours I have received numerous text messages and emails from folks asking for my opinion about the Ahmadinejad interviews, most from compassionate people whose main concern has been about what I thought about one of the only voices of leadership in the world today willing to stand up to the frighteningly powerful nation of the United States of America; by far the most murderous and barbarous countries militarily since the end of the World War II era. Though as the years have passed and Ahmadinejad nears the end of his presidency, one notices the man has tired slightly, and yet he also possesses a healthy wisdom and maturity is now gracing his ideas and demeanor as with most two term presidents. He also still exudes strength and courage when discussing the overt double standards that seem only to apply to the State of Israel and the United States government.
At one point he asked Morgan: “In order to avenge the blood of three thousand people, a million people shouldn’t give their lives, should they? The behavior of the United States in our region encourages extremism. Perhaps because they don’t know the people. So they do need to reform their behavior. There was no need for five or six thousand young American men to lose their lives in these wars your country started in our region of the world.” You could hear a pin drop as Morgan attempted to regain his composure after internally recognizing that he agreed with the Iranian President.
As we continue to engage in this dialogue through the coming months about Israel’s defiantly heartfelt plans to attack the people of Iran, about who the terrorists really are, and about the blatant imperialists that the United States government has become over the last sixty years, let us always remember one thing: those of us in the peace and human rights activist community, those of us who dare to speak out against the atrocious acts of violence and bullying that we see our government participate in on a daily basis year after year, must never forget that one of the most important aspects of our country that separates if from the country of Iran is that WE have the freedom to be able to publicly voice our observations and our objections to what we see as blatant international human rights violations all over the globe; whether it be by our governing leaders here at home, or those in Israel or Iran. We are blessed for these freedoms.
This is one of the many things that makes our country “great”. Does it make it “exceptional” as some right-wing conservative citizens among us are apt to contend? Certainly not. There are plenty of other countries all over the civilized world who now have democracies in place whose people enjoy the same freedoms that we do. And perhaps that’s one of the major problems that has led to the United States being in the unfortunate position it is in now. In debt to the tune of more than sixteen trillion dollars — that’s debt, meaning no savings, no money in the bank and a negative balance. [That alone spells impending doom, gloom and disaster for any country, just as it would any corporation or any person; and it would for the U.S. too, would it not be for the fact that the U.S. also happens to possess the largest military arsenal on earth. That is the only reason why the United States is still standing and not in total ruin like Greece or Spain. But again, not many will ever dare to speak out about this fact either.]
A severely unpopular reputation in the Middle East — to the point where Americans are now used to seeing riots in the streets of numerous countries all over the globe burning American flags and protesting her imperialistic and domineering ways on the news every day. Worse yet, even in more secular and Western countries all around the world one hears harsh criticism of the United States foreign policy from young and old alike. Go to just about any civilized country on earth and speak with an average educated citizen and you will soon learn that the only people who believe America exceptional or special in a good way are Americans themselves at this point. It is certainly not the standard view of the United States held by people from other countries.
Of course, again, most leaders and people in positions of power will never dare to speak out regarding their true feelings about the United States government. And for good reason. They would either be quickly assassinated in an overnight raid and coup d’etat by our CIA, as has happened repeatedly to so many countries’ leaders over the last sixty years, or they would soon find brutal economic sanctions levied against their country and it’s people by the U.S. led United Nations Security Council, which, like the IMF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, is nothing but another thinly disguised strong arm of American brute force in the world. So they stay quiet, speaking only the truth in private circles. I have been among these leaders in these private circles and heard for myself how the leaders of most of the world’s countries feel about U.S. foreign policy. It isn’t with admiration that they speak, but rather with disgust, indignation, dismay and disrespect. The reasons for this are obvious and would be redundant here in the Transcendence Diaries after so many years of writing about this subject.
When on the rare occasion an uneducated and brainwashed American reads thoughts such as these, their first response is always to indignantly shout something to the effect of “Well it’s this very country and it’s military might that gives you the freedom to say the things that you’re now saying mother fucker!” And that is why one might propose that this could be the very crux of the problem America is in now. The citizens of the United States have become so accustomed to freedom of speech and religion and the press accompanying brutal bullying and hostile take overs of smaller countries all over the world under the guise of “freedom and democracy” that they have become confused as to what “democracy” really means. They’ve been told that America is exceptional because it is a democracy where everybody is free to do whatever they want, while at the same time watching this same country brutally invade other countries and murder millions of people whenever it sees fit and at the drop of a hat.They have confused freedom and democracy with military might, brute force and imperialism.
Not being educated enough to know the history and current foreign policy of other Western democracies around the world, they are unaware that the United States is one of the only countries left on planet earth still playing dictator and supreme leader as if it were the early 20th century. They don’t realize that France, Germany, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (the list is endless) stopped these games decades ago. The people of these countries enjoy the same freedoms that the people of the United States do, enjoy the same economic opportunities, enjoy the same free enterprise system, the same protection from invasion by outside forces. The only difference is that these other countries do not have military troops stationed in over 150 military bases in countries all over the world ready to strike whenever they so desire. These countries do not threaten to invade or take over smaller countries if they don’t cooperate with them. These countries do not threaten military action or economic sanctions against or to forcefully remove the elected leaders of other countries if they do not play ball with them or do as they are told.
And this is one of the greatest misgivings about the good ole USA. Sounds like a great idea. Dresses up real nice. Reads well on paper. But don’t confuse it for a real democracy or a card carrying member of the civilized world or even the United Nations. U.S. president George W. Bush reminded us of this when in 2003 he announced to the world “We don’t need the permission of the United Nations or anyone else for that matter if we want to invade Iraq or any other country.” (In fact, we do. But Bush was declaring that we were now going to start playing by different rules.) The United States government, for all intents and purposes, is every bit a global terrorist organization, and a bullying and globally domineering imperialist dictatorship, the likes of which the world has not seen since Nazi Germany over seventy years ago. It is the only country on earth who has ever decimated entire cities with a nuclear weapon. Twice. Something that is made all the more ironic in light of it’s current demands on the country of Iran to not be allowed to have a nuclear energy program for fear that “they might develop nuclear weapons and use them.” Told you it was ironic.
For this reason and so many others that will be made more clear in this article, it is one of the reasons that, despite the fact that Iran has plenty of problems of its own in regards to human rights violations, their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is such a strangely admirable figure on the world stage today. He is one of the only world leaders who continuously shows strength and courage and a committment to truth when confronting the double standards and single minded hypocrsy that is the United States of America and the Zionist leaders who control what is currently called the State of Israel. On September 24th, 2012 two more American journalists were afforded the opportunity to interview Ahmadinejad. Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell.
O’Donnell was abominable in her lack of respect and journalistic objectivity. It was clear she was nervous and excited about the meeting and knew nothing about Iran. Sixteen different experts from the United States over the years who have visited the country to investigate their nuclear facilities have stated repeatedly that Iran is “not in the process of trying to develop nuclear weapons”, and yet the first question Ms. O’Donnell posed to President Ahmadinejad was “Are you building a nuclear weapon?” Clearly she hasn’t been doing her homework. Or worse, as many fear in the international peace community, the propoganda machine of Israel is so powerful that it is clouding the glaring facts being repeated over and over again by the experts and inspectors responsible for alerting the world to just what exactly is happening in Iran. A country with a seven-thousand year history, Iran hasn’t invaded another country in centuries. And like most civilized countries around the world these days, they also don’t spend any time or energy bothering to threaten other countries.
[A note: Ahmadinejad has repeatedly explained that his controversial comments regarding “blowing Israel off the map” were mistranslated and that what he really meant and means to say is that their country’s wish is to “blow the Zionist regime and occupying forces of Palestine off the map.” There is a difference, though slight one could admit, but a difference nonetheless. Their wish is not to attack Israel. Their wish is to stop the State of Israel from continuing to attack, kill and violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. Visit the country of Iran once and this will become very obvious.]
Unbeknownst to Nora O’Donnell, and definitely to Piers Morgan — who responded to this bit of new information with childlike belly laughs akin to as if he had just discovered a bowl full of fresh baked cookies, the country of Iran has the highest population of happy settled and content Jewish people living in it than any other country in the Middle East except for Israel. These people are Iranian, and they are Jews, free to practice Judaism as they have for thousands of years ever since Persia’s King Cyrus the Great freed them from Babylonian captivity as the Jewish bible tells. Iranians can’t be anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish. They’ve got more synagogues than anywhere else on earth except for Israel and the United States. It’s not Jewish people that they are opposed to. It’s the Zionist movement that installed a country of people from all over the world on top of another country of people already living there, the Palestinians. As Ahmadinejad asked Piers Morgan, “Forget the scientific veracity of the so called holocaust for a moment and answer me this: what did the Palestinian people do to deserve to be displaced from their homes and country? What did they have to do with World War II and this holocaust?”Morgan of course was speechless, and then finally he agreed with the Iranian president. It doesn’t necessarily make any sense, this plight of the Palestinian people considering they had nothing to do with World War II.
The brave president asks an important question. And of course the only answer that speaks a word of truth to this questions is “nothing”. The only thing the Palestinians did was “nothing” and that is what cost them their homeland, their safety and security and their country. Not having enough money for weapons to defend themselves from a strong military and imperialist take over, they could afford to do nothing at all when invaded by the newly formed State of Israel. And they’ve been living with the consequences of doing nothing ever since. Hundreds of them die every year at the hands of the occupying forces of Israel and the world doesn’t say a thing. None dare do. Jewish settlements are built on the little land the Palestinian people have left, much like the reservations of Native American people, while bulldozers knock down the homes of these Palestinian people, and the United States says and does nothing. In fact it rewards Israel with billions of dollars in free loans every year. Israel threatens to bomb Iran everyday in the news and even threatens the various leaders of the United States to also bomb Iran, and no one says anything.
This is what occupied the mind of the Iranian president as he spoke at this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting, as it does every year. And regardless of how much applause and acclaim he receives from the rest of the world in attendance at these meetings for speaking out against these cold hard facts, the American media continues to try to brand him an evil dictator or a cruel and malevolent terrorist. Now in regards to Ahmadinejad being a dictator, that would be a hard idea to prove. As president, he has very little power in the country of Iran or around the world. The Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khameni, actually has most of the power in that country. And yes, living conditions are harsh in Iran for those who want to speak out against injustice. The citizens of Iran do not enjoy the same economic, academic or social freedoms that those of us who live in more democratic societies do. That’s for sure. An entire family can be arrested and kidnapped, taken from their home, and tortured and murdered in the dead of night just for speaking up against the laws or leaders of their country. This is a sad fact of life in this theocratic state.
But it is no reason to allow Israel or the United States to continuously bombard them with threats of military action or bombs. If this were the case, we would have to be willing to allow these same actions to be taken against many other countries all over the world. Iran pales in comparison to some of the more brutal dictatorships in other parts of the world. The only reason it is in the news all the time in the United States mainstream media is because Israel just happens to have the largest and wealthiest political lobby in the U.S. (Look it up). Larger than Big Oil. Larger than farming, or electricity or the automobile industry or even Big Pharma. Larger than anything else on earth. In a way, a very real way, the Israeli Political Action Committee, or lobby, has more control over Washington D.C. than any other single interest our president and congress persons are faced with dealing with. Just ask one of them. They’ll tell you.
But that’s not supposedly how the world works now. After the signing of the Geneva Convention and Warsaw Pact and all the peace treaties the countries of the world have signed since the great World Wars, we are supposed to follow certain laws that protect all countries from attack by foreign nations. The problem is that the United States is the one country that seems immune to these agreements and treaties, having bombed or invaded over four countries just in the last ten years alone. And Ahmadinejad, politely and respectfully, continues to ask why this double standard is allowed to exist in the world. This is what makes him such an admirable figure, though a shadowy one and despite his propensity for defending egregious human rights violations in the country he is the president of. [Though one can easily see this as being a careful political ploy on his part, no different than how America’s political leaders must take part in such folly; only for Ahmadinejad, it is his very life that he is protecting, not just his political career. So one must allow him some slack. His every word and move is being watched and listened to by his bosses, and he knows it.] Though he doesn’t represent a country that is necessarily even close to a model democracy, he at least is one of the only leaders left standing on the world stage still holding out from dropping to his knees and sucking the great and greedy corporate cock of the United States. For this he is a sort of broken hero. Risking his life when coming to the United States on both counts, both from his enemies here and in Israel, and those in his own country who are much more conservative and less forgiving of American greed and imperialism.
Independent and proud, Iran just wants to be left alone, without fear of invasion or military strikes. This is a sentiment that is widely held by every Iranian citizen as well. Whether they live in Iran, or here in the United States — and over three million live here. They admire the democracy that the citizens of the United States enjoy. And the freedoms. And one day they hope to be able to form their own form of democracy, but ask any of them on the street where they live and they will gladly tell you that they want to accomplish this feat on their own, in their own time, without the help or intervention of anyone else, especially not the United States.
Regarding their nuclear program, they’ve already announced to the world more times than can be counted that they aren’t in the business of building bombs and have allowed countless inspectors into their nuclear facilities who have all corroborated this fact. In fact, every year Iran allows IAEA inspectors into its nuclear program facilities. Israel has never allowed any inspectors into their nuclear facilities in forty five years. Israel also has an estimated two-hundred and fifty nuclear warheads. Though that number is questionable because Israel will not publicly answer the question as to how many it has. Iran answers the question repeatedly: we have none. We don’t plan on having any. Israel admits it has thousands but refuses to say how many. Iran has signed numerous weapons treaties promising it will never build a nuclear bomb or use one against another country. Israel refuses to sign even one weapons treaty. Israel is responsible for the death of hundreds of Palestinians each year, and threatens Iran with military strikes everyday in front of the whole world. Iran threatens no one and has more Jewish people happily and safely living in its country than any other country in the Middle East except for Israel. And yet the world is supposed to believe that Iran poses the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East. It is an equation that just does not proof out.A physicist would be puzzled by this, if not downright amused.
And yet what country is on the tip of the tongues of every wagging dog of a journalist desperate for controversy and attention in the United States’ mainstream media? Iran. They threaten no one, ask to be left alone and live in peace, endure brutal economic sanctions that have crippled their economy and proudly march on attempting to live their lives in abhorrently barbaric conditions due to these unfair and unwanted sanctions rather than cater to the whims of the dictatorial U.S. government as most countries do, and they are consistently attacked in the mainstream American media as being terrorists. When all along in front of all the world the United States military invades and bombs other countries around the Middle East to their hearts’ content, killing hundreds of thousands in the process. Now with remote controlled drone planes. Talk about cowardice. One can find it odd to hear jingoistic American “exceptionalists” label suicide bombers, who give up their very life to defend their country, “cowards” in light of the fact that American soldiers are now bombing whole villages half way around the world with remote control little airplanes from the comfort of underground bunkers in their own backyard. But such is life in the defenseless great hypocrisy that is America in modern times.
Very few in the United States dare to speak out against these brutal intimidation tactics and double standards. The great Howard Zinn did. Mohammed Ali did. Noam Chomsky does. Dr. Cornel West does. Amy Goodman does. Ward Churchill does. Either out of ignorance or fear, most — even scholars and academics — do not. It is Rome, Alexander the Not So Great era Greece and Napoleon Bonaparte era France in modern times. The only difference is that we live here. Now. And through our silence we are complicit in the atrocities that the American government carries out on a daily basis. Not only against Iran, but Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and countless other countries that came before this recent modern era. Grenada, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Guatemala are also standing in line for apologies and reparations from the devastating effects of American intervention.
It is not that life is perfect in Iran. It’s not. It is not that they have developed an admirable democracy that leads by example for all the world to follow. They haven’t. It is not that their people are free to speak act work or worship as they please. They are not. But that is their problem. Not anyone else’s. And that’s only IF they consider these things problems. (they do) But that’s their call. No one eles’s. Their president does not back down from coming to the United States. And to it’s credit, the United States does not deny him the privilege of coming here. He speaks his truth. Our government leaders speak theirs. If only the leaders of the United States could speak a bit of the truth; could even agree to speak truthfully about each other, or about their own fellow citizens or opponents in political election races. But they cannot. So it is hard to believe what they say about the leaders of other countries. Especially in light of their shadowy history when it comes to dealing with other countries in general. Especially when it comes to a country, Iran, where it is currently occupying BOTH of the countries on either side of it and building pipelines of oil through them and having to go AROUND Iran to do so — as Iran will not let the United States enter its country and build oil pipelines through it. Any coincidence there? Surely not. ;->
At the very least President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had the courage this year, as he has every year since becoming president of the great cultural epicenter that Iran has been for almost seven-thousand years, to enter the United States and speak up to the hypocritical and dictatorial powers that have taken over the American government. He asked some intensely important questions in front of tens of millions of American people on this trip. How we answer these questions, if we even bother to think about or answer these questions, will speak more about our own strength and courage than nearly anything else we will face this coming year.
Will America be swayed by the wide-eyed insanity of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he attempts to march the U.S. and the rest of the world off to a third World War? Or will we maintain our sanity and our sovereignty and finally cut the leash off this mad dog and let him roam free to do what he and his war mongering cohorts please? Let us hope for the latter. Or even better, let us hope his own people will get to him first and either talk some sense into him or impeach him. For their sake, for the people of Iran’s sake, and for the sake of all humankind. Enough is enough. And we’ve certainly heard enough war mongering to last the lifetime of our species. It is time for peace. For all of us. Not just a privileged few, but for all of humanity.