As violence intensifies in Iran and Neocons increasingly demagogue in DC, I wanted to say a few words about meddling.

The debate, right now, is being framed on whether to meddle or not to meddle.

In the strongest message yet from the U.S. government, the House voted 405-1 Friday to condemn Tehran’s crackdown on demonstrators and the government’s interference with Internet and cell phone communications.

The resolution was initiated by Republicans as a veiled criticism of President Barack Obama, who has been reluctant to criticize Tehran’s handling of disputed elections that left hard-liner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.

Rep. Mike Pence, who co-sponsored the resolution, said he disagrees with the administration that it must not meddle in Iran’s affairs.

"When Ronald Reagan went before the Brandenburg Gate, he did not say Mr. (Mikhail) Gorbachev, that wall is none of our business," said Pence, R-Ind., of President Reagan’s famous exhortation to the Soviet leader to "tear down that wall."

What few want to admit openly is that we have already meddled.

On top of our long history of meddling in Iran, we have, in the last three years been intentionally meddling, investing in democracy promotion and covert ops to bring about precisely what we’re seeing today. In 2006, we did this through the State Department.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress this week that the administration is seeking $75 million in emergency funding to immediately begin ratcheting up support for pro-democracy forces inside Iran. Currently, $10 million was budgeted for such efforts, and little of that money has been spent.


The money will go toward boosting broadcasts in Farsi to Iran, support for opposition groups, and student exchanges.

After some pushback from Iranian opposition groups the figure was multiplied and given to the CIA.

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.


“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.”

Though some of this money undoubtedly funded special forces operations, much of this 475 million dollars presumably went into the kind of political opposition we see in the streets of Iran right now.

And I’ve got seriously mixed feelings about that. Support for opposition groups and soft power is one of the ways we won the Cold War.  I’d much rather fund opposition groups than go to war (we ought to, of course, consider choice "C," none of the above). But would it have been necessary if we hadn’t overthrown Mossadeq in 1953, if we haven’t been playing this losing chess game for a half century?

In any case, as someone who studied the way Czech dissidents used Radio Free Europe to broadcast their own writings back into their country leading up to 1989, I don’t know that US support diminishes the authenticity of opposition action.

That said, this whole debate about meddling, right now, is about war, not about a peaceable show of democracy. Pence and Cantor and McCain and Lieberman–and people like Michael Ledeen, which ought to raise hackles right away–are trying to push Obama to say something that will imply a promise to those protesting in Iran that if things get violent (which is already happening and was predictable even ignoring the possibility that CIA is funding some of this), we’ll come in to break up the violence. As Hisham Melhem pointed out on Diane Rehm on Friday (just after 40:00, but all guests discuss this in a useful way from 33:30 to 42:00), we have promised democracy activists in Iraq and Hungary in the past, yet not delivered.

You don’t call on people to rise up and do nothing when they do that, there is a moral responsibility.


He cannot and should not go beyond that, especially when he cannot delivery.

The Neocons pushing for some stronger words, I think, don’t give a damn whether Obama can deliver or not. They’d like to put him in a position where he is forced to deliver. And that’s why their calls for support now are perfectly consistent with their recent calls to bomb Iran. Charitably, both positions are about regime change no matter what, and honestly, both positions are likely about war in Iran.

85 replies
  1. BoxTurtle says:

    We stay the heck out of this and we try to deal with whomever comes out on top. What some forget is that both sides are strongly anti-american.

    I think we’d be better off with a change in management, but not so much as to make it worthwhile to meddle.

    Boxturtle (America is one of the few things almost all of Iran agrees upon)

  2. freepatriot says:

    the funny part is how well Obama is playing the repuglitards

    I saw richard shelby explain how the Iranians don’t think about our 1953 CIA coup all that much

    it might have worked in 2002

    but America has figured out that some people can hold a grudge for a LOOOONG time (like, 1400 years an countin dude)

    last week, tweety called the expected repuglitarded knee jerk criticism of Obama “Hitting the stupid switch” in reference to mcstain; ie, why do they hit the stupid switch every time in response to Obama”

    the repuglitards are becoming a caricature, kinda like the judge in “My Cousin Vinnie”

    I’m finding you in contempt

    now there’s a fucking surprise

    what did you say ???

    I can’t wait to see this headline

    Obama favors breathing, Republicans hold their breath

  3. Jkat says:

    i wonder ?? how would we respond to a foreign power spending 75 million dollars to destabilize our gov’t ?? for sure ..we don’t need that .. after all we’ve got the conservoturds spending much more than that already ??

  4. alabama says:

    I’m beginning to believe that Americans can’t stand the sights and sounds of other people. It’s as if the whole world had to speak English, and had to vote as Democrats or as Republicans in rituals known as “elections”. We seem to have lost all sense of the Other, if indeed we ever had it.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      Travel broadens the mind. Travel to Branson, Talledaga, Daytona and to the casinos, not so much.

  5. perris says:

    thanx for the read, one point I want to make though;

    we have, in the last three years been intentionally meddling, investing in democracy promotion

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress this week that the administration is seeking $75 million in emergency funding to immediately begin ratcheting up support for pro-democracy forces inside Iran. Currently, $10 million was budgeted for such efforts, and little of that money has been spent.

    that’s not a promotion of democracy when bush is talking it’s a promotion of neo-con ideology, they have no interest in democracy when it comes to the middle east but they use the term to get american support

  6. LabDancer says:

    Thanksthanksthanks, fearless leader, for finally wading in on this issue of meddling in Persia [It’s all the Rhages!] — especially as it gives me a chance to raise this fellow: , bearing on the composition of the material used in constructing the road to Hell.

  7. Civlibertarian says:

    both positions are likely about war in Iran.

    Yep, earlier this week, Paul Craig Roberts said:

    What we see here is the raising of the ugly head of the excuse for “diplomatic failure,” leaving only a military solution.

    As a person who has seen it all from inside the US government, I believe that the purpose of the US government’s manipulation of the American and puppet government media is to discredit the Iranian government by portraying the Iranian government as an oppressor of the Iranian people and a frustrater of the Iranian people’s will. This is how the US government is setting up Iran for military attack.

    So the Iranian government cracks down hard, the revolution fails, and down the road this gets used as justification, just like “Saddam gassed his own people.”

    • Civlibertarian says:

      The comments in that Moon of Alabama post are interesting as well.

      A bit off-topic, but still on Iran:

      I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

      That’s Ron Paul in his floor speech before he voted against the House resolution in support of the Iranian dissidents, which passed 405-1 (via TPM).

  8. Jkat says:

    it only differs a little bit from the way the nazis developed their pretexts to the invasion of poland .. etc .. the neocons have just removed the ethnic connection from the pretext for a war ..

    aggressive war is a crime against humanity .. even when WE do it ..

    so .. the war crimes trials start when did you say ??

    • fatster says:

      They are “spreading democracy”. They’ve been “spreading democracy” all across the planet for many decades. This “spreading of democracy”, unfortunately, has meant toppling existing governments (particularly those run by evil leftists), sending war and anti-insurgency stuff to governments friendly toward “democracy”, and even armed invasions to impose “democracy” and to hell with what the locals want–after which the country to which “democracy” has been spread has lost thousands or more of its population in the effort to “spread democracy”, its institutions disturbed if not overthrown, populations displaced and driven to slums in the cities and big corporations settling in as a result.

      At least that’s what I’ve heard and witnessed throughout my lifetime. Hateful stuff, that.

  9. tanbark says:

    What Perris said, about “promotion of democracy”…BIG time. Those are buzzwords used by bushCo, to foment violence and unrest, which justfied the violence which the neocons loved and needed, to justify their warped worldview.

    And while we’re discussing it, let’s not forget the earlier “promotion of democracy”, which despite being on the back burner, is bloodily bubbling away:…..k-bombing/

    In short order, probably, a few months, we’re not going to have the luxury of parsing memos between Cheyney and his SS-lite: instead, we’ll need to be dealing with either the results of pulling our troops out of the cities of Iraq, or dealing with the reaction of some rather violent Iraqis to NOT pulling them out.

    Soon, Obama is going to be confronted with the very unpleasant Hobson’s Choices that are the real legacy of George Bush and his lunatics-r-us administration, as events force him to make a decision about the cost/benefits of trying to sustain neo-conservative fantasy in the face of bloody reality. Kharmically speaking, and since he was elected in substantial measure on his promise of getting us out of the shitmire(s) it’s hard to be too sympathetic to him.

  10. WilliamOckham says:

    Let’s lay out a few (seemingly eternal) verities about neocons:

    1. No matter what the problem is, their answer is war. The variations are endless (proxy war, escalation of current war, start a new war, etc.)

    2. For the neocons, there is no downside to war (because they are never the ones fighting or paying for the war). No price is to high (for someone else to pay), no casualty figure is unthinkable, no amount of collateral damage to avoid, etc. War is free, but the consequence of not going to war is too dire to contemplate. If we don’t fight this war right now, the world as we know it will end.

    But the most important truth about the neocons is:

    3. When the neocons deal with the Iranians, the neocons lose their shirts. Every. single. time.

    Whatever “meddling” we’ve been doing has had zero impact on the current situation in Iran other than to enrich whatever individuals and factions have been able to siphon off American dollars. It would be sheer coincidence if our dollars were funding the opposition. More likely, we’ve been feeding money to front groups maintained by the present regime.

    • Civlibertarian says:

      Interesting and plausible stuff about the neocons and Iranians. In the meantime my thoughts went in the other direction:

      Throughout, there’s been a constant, unvoiced assumption of no fraud in support of Mousavi. But 475 million would buy a lot of votes. We’re supposed to believe that folks willing to murder, disappear, torture and the rest aren’t going to engage in good old American ballot box stuffing?

      Faced with enough fraudulent votes for a Mousavi win, the regime could:

      1. Announce the results and contest them as fraudulent. (Yeah, right, imagine the reaction then!)

      2. Engage in its own fraud, which is what many claim has happened.

      Either way, it’s win-win for the supporters of war with Iran. I’m not saying that this happened, but who knows what the 475 mil has been up to.

      • emptywheel says:

        Yeah. One of the reasons I raised this is because there was a TON of vote buying in Lebanon. Happens all the time in other countries–and probably our own–and it’s a way the CIA has exercised influence in the past.

  11. tanbark says:

    As for making war on Iran, that’s only an “option” if you’re part of the foilhat-wearers-for-JOE Lieberman-and-Bibi. Despite bush’s periodic purges of generals and admirals who think with their brains instead of their testacles, I’m sure there is a large majority of the american military brass who understand that if one JDAM goes sailing into Iran, life on the planet Earth will take some radical changes for the worse.

    At the risk of over-simplifying, I believe there are far more americans in postions of influence who have no desire to find out what the Iraqi Shia will do if we and/or the Israelis attack the Iranian Shia, than there are americans who are curious about that.

    I would even say that lack of curiosity extends to practically every country in the mid-east and the world…with, again, the possible exception of Israel.

    The image of Slim Pickens in “Dr. Strangelove”, hat-whipping an ICBM comes to mind, as he manically drops into armageddon.

    (Incidentally, the results would make it a dead lock that Obama and the dems would get no second term…)

  12. tanbark says:

    Amurkan foreign policy has had one primary thrust, and only one, for a long, long, time: to perpetuate and extend corporate power.

    The idea that governments can directly exercise such a high of control over our day-to-day lives is in bad-cess; at least in terms of lip-service.

    Not so with an alliance BETWEEN government and big bidness; that can be packaged as “marketplace freedom” no matter how wretched the effects on our lives nor how much it reduces us to the existence of hamsters on a treadmill.

    I was watching the Champions Cup of the professional soccer league of Brazil a couple of days ago. The players looked like walking billboards. You couldn’t tell what the teams’ names were, nor the players’ names. (the players’ names were at the bottom of the backs of their shirts, underneath a yellow-pages-list of corporate interests.)

    I was thinking: “There’s an unscientific but-I-betcha-accurate yardstick of just how much corporatism permeates our existence.”

    And the next thought I had was of Richard Perle’s starry-eyed pimping of one of the salutary results of invading Iraq being that we would rebuild that old Mosul-to-Haifa pipeline; run it across SYRIA (for god’s sake!) and into Haifa, where the FOB’s (friends of Bush) would get access to lots of cheap oil (Not cheap by the time it got to the rest of us…) and the Israelis’ petro-problems would be permanently solved.

    It was, of course, the stuff of insanity; a lunatic’s ponzi-scheme greased with the blood of hundreds of thousands of people and the plundering of the U.S. Treasury, and now our ass is in the grinder, seemingly in perpetuity, with no end in sight and with yet more of an astronomical cost to be paid, whether we stay or leave.

    • fatster says:

      I’m gung-ho about the suggestion that our Congresscritters ought to be made to wear corporate logos on their jackets, too, to indicate who owns them (we don’t own most of them–we just pay their salaries and fbs).

  13. Jeff Kaye says:

    Excellent post, and I found the Moon of Alabama piece equally compelling.

    The problem with “meddling” — especially to the tune of near half-a-billion dollars, is that the domestic politics of the country so manipulated is thoroughly sullied. We cannot know anymore what the domestic opposition to the theocracy would look like. The French and Italians mainstream parties were suspect for over a generation because of their association with CIA electoral interventions in the late 1940s and in the 1950s. This was a contributor to the popularity of those countries’ communist parties even into the 1980s. The same thing happened with numerous Latin American parties and elections over the years, delegitimizing the electoral process and inadvertently promoting guerrillaism.

    Would the U.S. stand for a moment with such meddling in U.S. politics? We already do! But is the rich and corporate sponsors that buy elections here.

    When I hear anyone talk about spreading democracy these days, I look quickly to see if my pocket’s been picked.

    Plans for attacking Iran have certainly been on the boards for some time now. I think it’s saying a lot, with little proof, to conclude an actual date has been set. It takes a lot of propaganda to build up a war effort, at a minimum two to three months of real heavy hitting and a presumed casus belli aimed at the “world community”, not to intervene in a domestic “atrocity”. I don’t smell that kind of war fever emanating from the Oval Office at this time. But things could change quickly in the near future.

  14. tanbark says:

    [email protected]; I’m not there either. It’s part and parcel of the notion that bushCo knew about or implemented, 9-11. Despite the fact that it dovetailed so perfectly with their fearmongering policies, it’s too far out for me.

    I hope.

    • windy says:

      Despite the fact that it dovetailed so perfectly with their fearmongering policies, it’s too far out for me.

      Chris Floyd doesn’t think it is (the article is about a different terrorist attack, and the suggestion isn’t that US has directly planned attacks, but that it has a hand in financing these groups)

      • macaquerman says:

        It would have been nice if Floyd had some evidence to offer. Saying that Jundallah is financed or sent out to fight the Iranian government by the US is something that should be accompanied by proof.
        The bomb blast in late May has, on the face of it, nothing to do with US interests. Floyd notes that the Iranian government and Jundalleh are fighting over political influence, religion and drug smuggling and fails to note that Jundallah has been, in recent years,more widely linked to Al Qaeda than the US.

        • plunger says:

          “on the face of it?”


          Of course there’s no evidence of cause “on the face of it.”

          But you knew that, and chose your words with care.

          • macaquerman says:

            On the face of it,on the ass of it, on the side of it, or any other way except in your bizarro world.
            Things that are not obviously linked shouldn’t be said to be linked without providing linkage of some sort.

  15. Maxcrat says:

    Re the “promotion of democracy” meme, it is only our goal in countries that have resources or geography we care about. And we only support or promote democracy when it results in the election of parties or individuals we like. No one was howling about the assault on Hamas and seige of Gaza after they duly won election in 2006 through a reasonably open election process.

    • hackworth1 says:

      The US could easily spread some freedom to the oppressed people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but spreading freedom is not a genuine goal. It is a sales pitch that provides a good excuse for the US to impose its will – Especially when a nation has a brutal dictator who has gassed his own people.

      • Maxcrat says:

        Oh yes, Haiti. Another good recent example. They elected Aristide, and suddenly we whisked him off in the middle of the night to Africa..right, we just loved the way that little experience with democracy worked out.

        • PJEvans says:

          Aristide wasn’t a democratic leader either. He just wasn’t as bad as the previous dictators.

          We can’t tell from here who a good leader will be (and have proven it several times in various countries, including Iran and Cuba), so why do we think we have the right to meddle? Moreover, the GOoPers in Congress aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts; they have ulterior motives that the media are missing (as usual).

          • Maxcrat says:

            Agree totally with your points. Aristide was flawed, but elected. He had to go.

            Whenever U.S. government and media types start hyping a “good” team and a “bad” team in other countries, I have to wonder what the real agenda is and just assume that it has nothing to do with freedom or democracy.

            • PJEvans says:

              I tend to assume that when the idiots in DC start talking about ’supporting democracy’, they mean supporting the side that makes better promises to them. (Democracy, not so much: it’s so messy having us little people trying to run things, because we’re less predictable in what we’ll do.)

              This link is for plunger and the other conspiracy theorists.

  16. hackworth1 says:

    In 1898, spreading freedom, the US attacked and overthrew the governments of Cuba, The Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam.

    There is no good reason according to neocon logic, why the US can’t multi-task whenever war is concerned.

  17. tanbark says:

    Maxcrat; exactly.

    Turning it around, under the Reagan/daddyBush regimes, there were no illusions about Saddam being a bloody-handed tyrant; but he was OUR bloody-handed tyrant. That is, until he grabbed Kuwait and upset the mid-east oil can.

  18. tanbark says:

    [email protected]:

    True enough, back then; but if Obama is insane enough to attack Iran, or to countenance Israel’s doing it, there won’t be enough “multi’s” to do the “tasking”.

  19. ondelette says:

    And how do we know Moussavi, a former prime minister and 1979 revolutionary whose candidacy was approved by the government and who represents a coalition ticket between the reformers and the clerics, is in fact the recipient and spender of CIA funds? Just asking, because sometimes all this CIA talk has people backing people who are cracking heads and using water cannons, and the government in Iran isn’t a clean slate for human rights abuse no matter what happened in 1953. My enemy’s enemy gets you into trouble east of Europe.

    Keep the internet lines open and the camera lights on. Nobody there asked for any involvement other than that.

    • emptywheel says:

      We don’t–and some of the people listed are non-Azeri minorities, so other than Moussavi.

      Though before you get too defensive of Moussavi do click through for a remidner of Moussavi’s ties to Iran-Contra, Ghorbanifar, and Michael Ledeen.

      • ondelette says:

        It’s not that I’m being defensive of Moussavi, I just think people need to worry when they seem to de-legitimize unarmed protesters in the streets as a CIA plot. It seems highly unlikely to me that the CIA knows what either “pro” or “democracy” mean, no matter how much money they have. And those opposing the protesters are not angels, in fact many of them are armed and dangerous.

        • emptywheel says:

          As I said in the post, potential support of some in Iran from the CIA does not make protesters inauthentic.

          Though you’d be historically blind if you pretended the CIA has not, successfully, funded pro-Democratic opposition groups in the past (as well as some thugs)–again, I raise the Czechs (though the support was not as direct in country and they didn’t “pick” Havel until late in the process, though trust me the CIA did indeed consciously make a decision to support Havel).

          • ondelette says:

            Okay, if you will. But I remember hearing that during Tiananmen too, and AFAIK none of us were CIA where I was. There were Chinese spies, though, we knew who they were and they were dangerous. Governments do so love accusations of CIA involvement as justification for clubbing heads and shooting people.

            After 8-8-88, the R2P thing to do is to keep the communications and the lights on until the confrontation is over. Other than that, I’m all for not intervening in any way.

            • emptywheel says:

              Fair enough.

              Maybe if we’re lucky Sara will show up and she can share her experience discovering she was unknowingly being funded by the CIA.

              • ondelette says:

                Not saying it can’t happen, but it didn’t happen to us.

                Maybe governments can find enough speculation about CIA involvement on the internet to charge arrested protesters with espionage, too. It’s kinda like leaving a relative in jail after you’ve been told they’ve been arrested. It’s something you don’t do no matter what they’ve done, until the people are out of danger.

                • emptywheel says:


                  I’m not speculating.

                  I’m pointing out that our overt budget, in 2006, had funds to bring about precisely this result, and that one of our better journalists says our covert funds had four times that money in 2008.

                  Money in a governmental vacuum does not disappear. It went somewhere.

                  • ondelette says:

                    I’m concerned about the people in the street. Three million people (who turned out last Monday) are not all agents of the CIA. But an incessant drumbeat goes on the blogosphere connecting what they are doing to neocons and CIA. Those people are still in the street, and they are unarmed. Digging up shit at this point benefits who? Who will be asked about their connections to foreign agents? Isn’t that considered meddling too? Or do those who genuinely believe their votes were stolen, students, protesters and the like just deserve to be collateral damage? When Tiananmen went sour, people had to be disappeared. Because there was genuine worry that they’d be killed otherwise.

                    If you think I’m worrying too much, fine, I can accept that. But I am worried.

                    • emptywheel says:


                      I held off putting up these thoughts for a week.

                      That said, my thoughts, by themselves, do not constitute “an incessant drumbeat … in the blogosphere.”

                      IN fact, I’d suggest that by pointing to two already published reports–one of them based on overt budgeting–I’m doing MUCH less harm than the green armband brigade here in the US. I’m pointing to something that happened a year ago or three. The rest of the blogosphere is actively cheering. The latter is much easier to politicize and turn into a capital offense. The latter is MUCH more dangerous, both for perception and reality’s sake.

                      We could all shut up==but short of that, I think it worthwhile, for good and ill, to point out that the whole debate on meddling is too late.

                    • ondelette says:

                      That’s true, if you were the only one. But between comments on Glenn’s posts earlier this week (and even today), comments from Daniel Larison even earlier, comments from various Pauliac sites, and other places, it isn’t like no one on the blogosphere is saying CIA. It’s like way too many are.

                      But I’ll stop. Like I said, I could be overly worried.

  20. skdadl says:

    Note-perfect from my pov, EW.

    Through the Bush administration, some of us were picking up just enough bits and pieces of information to suspect that Cheney’s frequent visits with Musharraf had a lot more to do with the border with Iran than with chasing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the northwestern frontier provinces, and the way things have played out in both plots tends to support those suspicions. People might be interested, eg, in this 2006 article by Luciana Bohne about the “pacification” of Baluchistan (against a provincial nationalist movement), apparently to clear the way for U.S. military bases from which special ops forces could enter Iran.

    Obviously, I have no idea how all that works, but I also have no doubt that it has been happening, and people can see from EW’s figures above that that’s a lot of destabilizin’ money floating around somewhere.

    There are some groups within the current protest movement whose independence I believe in. I don’t think that the students, eg, have been bought off by anyone — they are genuinely seeking liberalization. Mousavi and Khatami, however … I dunno. Do Americans remember that Khatami was president at the time of Bush’s axis-of-evil speech?

    I also don’t believe that Ahmadinejad is a demon, and besides, he ain’t teh power. The Iranian electoral system is so chaotic that there are bound to have been some irregularities, but I think it’s quite believable that Ahmadinejad actually won. Robert Fisk, eg, has written interestingly of the many populist reforms he’s brought in, especially for Iranians outside Tehran.

    I will always support genuine liberation movements, even, sometimes, if they don’t begin with a majority. It’s common enough that most oppressed people won’t find the courage to rebel until they see daring leadership they can trust. So … maybe.

    But I am suspicious of Western enthusiasms for the “colour” revolutions, especially when those enthusiasms are driven by all the usual suspects people are listing here. It’s more our job to be doing just that, watching our own suspect pressure groups and elites, than to be telling the Iranians what to do, although support, real support (which excludes attempts to lead), is never wrong either.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yup. This feels a lot like the Ukrainian “revolution” to me, which didn’t work out so well and largely replaced one thug with another.

  21. emptywheel says:

    And I’m not backing the Mullahs. I’m saying that we would be foolish to assume the opposition has no ties to the US. That’s not necessarily a bad thing–lots of opposition parties that we’ve funded, historically, have been great. That’s why I raised the Czech example, some people I dedicated a chunk of my life to studying.

    • fatster says:

      Good idea, but I doubt there’s enough space to handle the number of logos many of them would have to wear.

  22. Mary says:

    It wasn’t just the propaganda and soft power, it was also the US support for renamed and cleaned up MEK terrorits.

  23. markfromireland says:

    Thank you for this posting.

    For God’s sake don’t meddle if there’s one thing I learnt when I was studying in Iran it’s this:

    If you think Americans are patriotic you ain’t never met an Iranian.

    Don’t meddle it’d be the kiss of death to those you’re trying to support.


  24. emptywheel says:

    Related note, a new statement from Obama:

    The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

    As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

    Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

    • Petrocelli says:

      I just don’t see how electing Mossavi instead of Ahmedinajad will subvert the Supreme Powers of the Mullahs.

      That’s what is particularly vexing to Persians … that the Mullahs hold the reins of power. The anger toward America is that Mega Corporations benefit tremendously from this, so they see American complicity in the Mullahs controlling Iran.

      BO has to skate a very thin line on this and hold the moral high ground. His Cairo speech in which he acknowledged the U.S. role in the overthrow of “… a democratically-elected Iranian government” was intrinsic to gaining and holding this moral high ground. It will be interesting to see if the Mullahs agree to a do- over election. Many Iranians want this, along with international oversight.

        • Petrocelli says:

          “mystique” & “aura” ?!! Has Steve even spoken to a single Iranian or did he write this from his La-Z-Boy Recliner ?

          Not even Ayatollah Khomeini had “mystique” & “aura”, according to the Iranians … he used terror and bribes to rule.

  25. tanbark says:

    Petrocelli’s right; this is not either/or. It’s not about a moderate and an extremist. The difference between the two is not huge. Obama is walking the line about right, by me, and his admission that our hands weren’t clean in Iran was the right kind of meddling.

    Having said all that, the fact that so many Iranians want to see movement away from a government by, for, and of, the Mullahs, is heartening, and should be welcomed…but not gloated over.

    One giant step toward empowering the Iraninan moderates in the future, would be getting us the fuck out of La Brea East.

  26. plunger says:

    Is there any good reason why our entire society has succumbed to use of the word “Neocon” rather than “Zionist?”

    Is it not true that only Zionists can refer to one another as such, and the rest of us are relegated to speaking in code, until finally, we forget what the code-word actually stands for?

    Can we please stick to the English language, and the Law, and the US Constitution?

  27. Frank33 says:

    Those neo-cons are mighty, mighty interested in Iran. The neo-cons love one thing more than all else. That suggests to me, that Iran possibly has Oil.

  28. regulararmyfool says:

    emptywheel for secretary of state.

    Ever notice how little we hear of the Swedes, Danes, Finns and Norwegians?
    It is because they keep their noses out of other people’s business.

    An American president whom, as I type, is authorizing torture by Americans and surrogates, has the actual damn gall to say anything to the Iranians?

    The chief liar for the “command” in Afghanistan was pleased to announce that last week’s murders of civilians had fallen to 87. And the American government still pretends like their shit don’t stink. Hey, great idea, why don’t we spend half a billion dollars destabilizing a government.

    At the same time let’s play tag with an American spy ship and a Chinese sub in international waters with the most populous country in the world, who just happen to be able to sink our economy simply by stopping buying American bonds?

    Oh, great idea number 3, why don’t we start an embargo of N Korea and see if all of our 15000 antique hydrogen bombs still work. Hey, glad Obama was elected, McCain might have come with some really truly stupid ideas like these three.

    Please, don’t forget how nice we were to the Kurds after sending them off the rails to shake up Saddam. You would think that intelligent people world wide would remember the Hungarian revolution in 1956 and how well that worked out for the protestors. (Side bar – I knew two families of Hungarian refugees and if the American government had had any clue as to just how deeply they hated the US, they would have shipped them out.)

    • windy says:

      Ever notice how little we hear of the Swedes, Danes, Finns and Norwegians?
      It is because they keep their noses out of other people’s business.

      What! Swedes always have their noses in other people’s business, at least if you ask Danes, Finns and Norwegians… (most recently, the Swedes want to tap our internet traffic)

      Maybe the world could stand to hear a little more from the Swedes, but they don’t make them like Olof Palme anymore – I can’t imagine the modern Swedish leadership risking a freeze of diplomatic relations with the US. (But at least they occasionally admit when they’ve screwed up.)

  29. plunger says:

    In response to EW at #60:

    I beg to differ. The word “Neocon” itself has been hijacked – to take on an entirely new meaning in this century, as evidenced on Wiki:

    The term “neoconservative” was the subject of increased media coverage during the presidency of George W. Bush.[9][10] with particular focus on a perceived neoconservative influence on American foreign policy, as part of the Bush Doctrine.[11]

    The first major neoconservative to embrace the term, Irving Kristol, is considered a founder of the neoconservative movement. Kristol wrote of his neoconservative views in the 1979 article “Confessions of a True, Self-Confessed ‘Neoconservative.’”[5] His ideas had been influential since the 1950s, when he co-founded and edited Encounter magazine.[12] Another source was Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine from 1960 to 1995. By 1982 Podhoretz was calling himself a neoconservative, in a New York Times Magazine article titled “The Neoconservative Anguish over Reagan’s Foreign Policy”.[13][14] Kristol’s son, William Kristol, founded the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

    The hijackers of this word are Zionists – and frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to name anyone known to be a “Neoconservative” under this new definition, who is not also a “Zionist.”

    That represents intellectual honesty in my opinion. The meaning of the word itself has changed. It is a code word in present use. That is my point.

  30. plunger says:

    Re: Neoconservatism in America:

    Democratic Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, derisively known as the Senator from Boeing, during his 1972 and 1976 campaigns for president. Among those who worked for Jackson were future neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith & Richard Perle.

    Each year, JINSA (The Jewish Institute For National Security Affairs) presents the “Scoop Jackson Award” to those who do Israel’s bidding:

    McCain’s award was presented by none other than Joe Lieberman. Among McCain’s advisors in his bid for the White House were several prominent neoconservatives (Zionists), including Robert Kagan… Max Boot… John R. Bolton… [and] Randy Scheunemann.

    In his semi-autobiographical book, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, Irving Kristol cites a number of influences on his own thought, including not only Max Shachtman and Leo Strauss but also the skeptical liberal literary critic Lionel Trilling. The influence of Leo Strauss and his disciples on neoconservatism has generated some controversy, with Lind asserting:[20]

    For the neoconservatives, religion is an instrument of promoting morality. Religion becomes what Plato called a noble lie. It is a myth which is told to the majority of the society by the philosophical elite in order to ensure social order… In being a kind of secretive elitist approach, Straussianism does resemble Marxism. These ex-Marxists, or in some cases ex-liberal Straussians, could see themselves as a kind of Leninist group, you know, who have this covert vision which they want to use to effect change in history, while concealing parts of it from people incapable of understanding it.

    William Kristol defends his father by noting that the criticism of an instrumental view of politics misses the point. When the context is a discussion of religion in the public sphere in a secular nation, religion is inevitably dealt with instrumentally. Apart from that, it should be born in mind that the majority of neoconservatives believe in the truth, as well as the utility, of religion

    Bush’s policies changed dramatically immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to columnist Gerard Baker,[31]

    It took, improbably, the arrival of George Bush in the White House and September 11, 2001, to catapult [neoconservatism] into the public consciousness. When Mr Bush cited its most simplified tenet – that the US should seek to promote liberal democracy around the world – as a key case for invading Iraq, neoconservatism was suddenly everywhere. It was, to its many critics, a unified ideology that justified military adventurism, sanctioned torture and promoted aggressive Zionism.

    Bush laid out his vision of the future in his State of the Union speech in January 2002, following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The speech, written by neoconservative David Frum, named Iraq, Iran and North Korea as states that “constitute an axis of evil” and “pose a grave and growing danger.” Bush suggested the possibility of preemptive war: “I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

  31. emptywheel says:


    You’re displaying your own ignorance then. Zionist is a word that dates to the 19th century and which has its own meaning.

    Neocon is a more recent word–and wiki uses it correctly.

    These are intellectual movements that distinct, though include some of the same people. But if you understand Neocon solely through the lens of Zionist, then all your lovely conspiracy theories will be inadequate as a result.

    • plunger says:

      Your point is well taken, but I think you get mine as well. I can’t name a Neocon, who is not also a Zionist. Can you? Who told us to use the word Neocon? How did we come to accept that?

      As for theories about conspiracies, I’m sure you have some of your own. I’m not sure why you chose to use the word “lovely” to describe mine, unless of course you intended to be derogatory.

  32. tanbark says:

    The term “neocon” just lets their parents, the conservatives, off the hook.

    It’s a pejorative, no matter they may use it themselves. It’s like we’re letting the conservative Germans of the 1930’s skate, because the Nazis were worse. The problem is, that the conservative Germans (and a lot of others, too) whelped the Nazis.

    Is Pat Buchanan a conservative or a neo-conservative? It’s like asking how big an asshole is he. Prior to their pimping for the loon-crusade, I think Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle would have been just…your everyday peckerhead rightwinger, except, with power and influence; no new category was required to describe them and their ilk.

    That, collectively, we have invented a category, is nothing but copping to the process of dragging the political reference points even further to the right than they’ve been dragged since Reagan. I mean, how often do we hear the term “neo-liberal” used?

    A few decades ago, when Gore Vidal called William Buckley (to his face!) a “neo-fascist”, he nailed him. That Buckley responded by threatening to punch him out, was just evidence of how accurately Vidal had touched the nerve of truth. And that’s what these people are: perfectly willing to wipe their asses with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and comfortable in their certainty that THEY and only they know what is right for amurka. That collectively we have coined a new (and somewhat dignified) label for their old love of authoritarian control is, in large measure, an act of cowardice. Vidal had the courage to name them, and so should we.

  33. Nell says:

    I make a strong distinction between what each of us, as individuals do, and what official representatives of the U.S. government do.

    U.S. intervention in Iran and the region has been so poisonous and so pervasive that it is impossible for our government to do or say much of anything helpful to genuine popular movements for democracy or human rights — it’s simply lost the moral legitimacy to do so even when, in rare circumstances, it is able to recognize them.

    For that reason, I appreciated the intelligence of Obama’s acknowledgement of the U.S. role in the overthrow of Iran’s last truly democratically elected president. I’ve appreciated Obama’s emphasis on the role of Iranians themselves, and his restrained statements — focusing on criticisms of violence and cutting off communications, not explicitly
    supporting a ’side’. It’s worth saying that the White House succeeded in toning down the language of the House resolution to restrict it to criticisms of blocked communications and violence against peaceful expression.

    Each of us, as people and activists for human rights and expanded democracy, are much freer to say what we think. I think that the evidence of electoral fraud in the June 12 election is substantial, that the regime miscalculated in the way in which they conducted the fraud, and that their failure to understand what the effects would be of rubbing the Iranian peoples’ faces in the fact that they live in a complete dictatorship has turned the popular response into something that does actually threaten the regime over the long term.

    It would be ridiculously naive to assume that none of the millions of U.S. destabilization dollars have gone into organizations and networks that have been involved in the popular response to the election aftermath. But to assume that all the strings are pulled by the CIA, or that the U.S. and the sanctimonious fakers of the neocon crowd have any kind of control of events now, is equally ridiculous.

    I reject the idea that the past and current crimes of my government discredit my personal analysis and sympathies, or imply that I must be silent. That does not remove from me or any of us the obligation to think through the effectiveness and appropriateness of what we say and do. But that comes with the territory in political discussion and activism.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Hear ! Hear !

      Mistakes of the past must not make us silent or inactive in the present or future.

  34. jbnhm says:

    On the subject of covert-ops in Iran and reasons for them these two articles have some interesting info. They also mention Jundallah. And this somewhat satirical post from Sibel Edmonds (who lived in Iran during her childhood) addresses the issue of our concern for Iranian democracy in a somewhat novel way.

    • macaquerman says:

      Your link is to the Asia Times which is the same rag that reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
      is dead and that the US is holding and interrogating an impostor.
      Get a more credible source .…..0Df01.html

      • jbnhm says:

        I wasn’t aware of that, so thanks for the link. I’ll bear it in mind when reading articles there in the future. But as it’s by a different author it’s not directly relevant. Shouldn’t you have borne that in mind? I mean NYtimes has published a lot of bullshit over the years. We don’t write off everyone there because of that.

        • macaquerman says:

          I didn’t mean that everything they publish is wrong, but I’ve seen other things there nearly as bad. A more credible source would be good.

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