Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nuclear Warheads: If Israel, why not Iran, Saudi, the GCC, or MENA? The Doha Debates Chez Chiara


As indicated by the poster above, it is important to note that the topic of  the Doha Debate in November last year, "This House trusts Iran NOT to build a nuclear bomb", was not whether Iran had the right to have nuclear weapons, but whether they could be trusted when they said they didn't and wouldn't. However, the debate veered in the direction of whether they did had the right to weapons of mass destruction, perhaps because the 2 issues are inextricably linked. I was struck by the excellent questions from the student audience members from an unusually wide number of MENA and GCC countries, including Palestine, as well as Central and South Asian ones; and their invocation of Saudi and UAE plans for nuclear armament, as well as concern for the region generally.

As most readers know, President Obama recently hosted a historic Nuclear Security Summit with 47 nations in attendance. It was historic in that it was the biggest such international gathering on US soil since the 1945 San Francisco meeting at the end of WWII that resulted in the founding of the UN. A number of middle power players, like Canada, were invited to facilitate the proceedings and lend diplomatic weight to the efforts to reduce nuclear weapons world wide. It was also remarkable for Netanyahu's refusal to attend personally at the last minute, reportedly for fear of answering questions by Egypt and Turkey on Israel's nuclear arsenal. Ultimately Russia agreed to limit its stockpile, China agreed to think about it, while the countries of  greatest concern were excluded from the discussion: Iran, and North Korea. President Obama made clear that he believes there is a real attempt by Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations to get nuclear weapons which outweighs the threat by nuclear nations. They were not represented either, obviously.

Map of nuclear weapons states (From Widipedia) (NPT --Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)
   NPT Nuclear Weapon States (China, France, Russia, UK, US)
   Non-NPT Nuclear Weapon States (India, North Korea, Pakistan)
   Undeclared Nuclear Weapon States (Israel)
   States suspected of having nuclear weapon programs (Iran, Syria)
   NATO weapons sharing weapons recipients
   States formerly possessing nuclear weapons

One of the reasons for Netanyahu sending a minister in his place, was that Israel does have nuclear military capacity but never fully admits nor denies it. The evidence that they do is compelling from satellite images, from their refusal to deny and the way they do so, from the fact that the site is known and feared to be a target, from the testimony of Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear technician who spread the word abroad, and how he was treated by Mossad and the Israeli government, and  by the admissions of other spies and counterspies.

Israel claims they will not be the first in the region to introduce nuclear weapons", leaving open to interpretation whether they already have them or whether they will only use them in self-defense. This ambiguity, which everyone seems to find disingenuous, allows Israel to have nuclear weapons, to be exempt from IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspections and controls, and to continue receiving billions annually in US aid, which the US cannot legally give to countries with weapons of mass destruction. Patrick Martin summarizes well the universal belief, the ambiguity, and its usefulness to Israel here.


As for Saudi Arabia's nuclear ambitions, it seems that more "evidence for it is found in news stories about a supposed desire, or plans, than in reality, when investigations are carried out; or based on Saudi's consistent stance against nuclear armament and for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is part of a GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council--Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) plan for a joint civil atomic energy program, however. The US has a joint agreement with the UAE to supply nuclear technology expertise, equipment, and fuel--presumably for civilian purposes. It seems that in all cases of argument about Arab and Muslim countries having nuclear capacities, Israel is the named or unnamed elephant in the room; and, immediately fears are raised of an arms race starting in the region if anyone else gets nuclear power.

I thought that in light of these concerns in the news this week, it would be a good time for readers to review the Doha Debate on Iran and nuclear power/weapons that was originally held on November 9, 2010, and to share their own thoughts here.

For more information on The Doha Debates generally, which follow Oxford Union debating rules, see the website of  The Doha Debates, for more information on The Doha Debates and the Doha Debates Chez Chiara see the introductory post, and the blog Category Doha Debates (DohaDebates) on the sidebar. The following includes excerpts from the panelists' biographies, the debate transcript, and the final result. A summary statement precedes each of the dialogues with a particular audience member whose photo is included. Full information for this debate is here. The full transcript may be read here. The full debate may be viewed here, and the podcast link is available on the main site for this debate.

The Motion
This House trusts Iran NOT to build a nuclear bomb


TIM SEBASTIAN
Ladies and gentlemen, a very good evening to you and welcome to the latest in our series of Doha Debates coming to you from the State of Qatar and sponsored by the Qatar Foundation. Tonight we turn our attention to Iran with its coastline just over a hundred miles away from us across the warm waters of the Gulf. Its proximity and its growing influence in this region mean that the current standoff over its nuclear intentions is being watched even more closely here than in the rest of the world. This is where the consequences of any crisis will be felt first. But just what are Iran's intentions? Its leaders insist their nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes. The West is highly sceptical. Our debate tonight is therefore about trust, and our motion, 'This House trusts Iran NOT to build a nuclear bomb.' Where do you stand on the issue? Well, as ever our panellists sharply disagree.

Speaking for the motion


Dr. Mahjoob Zweiri is Professor in Middle East Politics and Iran at the Centre for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan where he also serves as the head of the Iranian Studies Unit. Among other posts he has been director of the Centre for Iranian Studies at Durham University in the UK. Dr. Zweiri earned a B.A. and an M.A. in History at the University of Jordan and in 2002 completed his doctorate in Modern History at Tehran University.

MAHJOOB ZWEIRI
Thank you, Tim. Through working on Iran the last ten years, I am convinced that Iran is not [going] to build a nuclear bomb for the following reasons. Number one, reports by the IAEA stated that there is no evidence since 2003 confirming that Iran has developed any kind of nuclear weapon or capabilities. Number two, the NIE report confirmed in 2007 that Iran has halted suspicious activities - and they put here two lines - suspicious activities 2003: it seems that this conclusion was accepted within the American decision-making circles... and consequently the US statements regarding the Iranian nuclear programme tended to focus more on peaceful capabilities than weapons production programmes since 2007. Inaccurate intelligence has repeatedly confused this issue. Israel reported several times that Iran was on the verge of developing a bomb only to push ‘Doomsday' forward. This seems more a political tactic to keep Western pressure at a high level and to keep the media buzz going. To me, Iran's focus seems to be more on the development of conventional weapons systems, especially missiles. This trend has started at the end of 2002 and the Iranian military strategy began to change and it seems to me that Iran is more focused on missiles rather than unconventional weapons or building a nuclear bomb. Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to a level necessary for a nuclear plant, as [is] apparent [from the] Russian offer to enrich uranium, which we heard about last two weeks. The Iranians have 1500 tonnes of uranium which is enriched up to just 5.3. To build a nuclear bomb, you need enriched uranium between 40 to 60, and Iran does not have this kind of uranium enriched.
The last point: Iran is not capable alone to build a nuclear bomb and the relationship with a country like Russia - which kind of supports Iran - is not in good shape, so I don't believe that Iran is to build a nuclear bomb.


Dr. Mohammad Marandi is Head of the North American Studies Department at the University of Tehran and is a regular commentator on Iranian affairs. He has published numerous papers and articles on Iran-US relations and co-authored the book The British Media and Muslim Representation: the Ideology of Demonisation. In 2008, he was a visiting Fellow at the International Forum for U.S. Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Iran is a very independent country and it has gained its independence at a very heavy price from the United States, therefore it is understandable why Western governments and much of the Western media constantly demonise the country. I'm thankful to Tim and his colleagues for providing this format and this somewhat rare opportunity to give us the story from a different perspective, that this House should definitely trust Iran. Since the revolution, Iran has been trying to break the Western monopoly over hi-tech research, development and industry, and it believed that all countries have a duty to advance in these fields. This is why today Iran is one of the world's most advanced countries in fields such as stem cell research, as well as nano-technology, because there is no doubt that oil will soon fail us. Iran's peaceful nuclear programme should be seen within this broader framework. Contrary to Western claims, the IAEA and Dr. ElBaradei have stated time after time that there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran's nuclear [programme] has ever been anything but peaceful. In light of the fact that the IAEA is not a democratic body and it is for the most part, the Board is controlled by Western countries, this is very significant indeed. Countries that advance in the field of peaceful nuclear energy will be producers and not consumers of what is called the energy of the future: fusion energy. Such technology must not be monopolised by a few powers. So, as all of Iran's nuclear installations are under the supervision of the IAEA, 24 hours a day, this House should definitely trust Iran. On the contrary, we should question the motives of those countries who actually haven't used nuclear weapons and who have no problem with the apartheid regime in Palestine having them, especially as it constantly uses illegal weapons against civilians. It is these countries that have given weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein to use against his own people, and Iran, and they have yet to express any remorse for these crimes. Ironically...while Iran is the world's biggest victim of WMDs, it is very revealing that it has never produced chemical weapons, because Iran deems them to be immoral. However, I believe that the members of this House should definitely trust Iran and one another, and work together to neutralise the policies of divide and rule, so that we can all work together to build a better future for the region and beyond.

Speaking against the motion


Baria Alamuddin is a Lebanese journalist and broadcaster. She is currently foreign editor of the newspaper Al-Hayat and editor of the London-based Media Services Syndicate. She appears regularly on international television, including the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera as a Middle East analyst. Her career has included stints as a news anchor for Lebanese Television. Since 2004 she has been president of the IAC (International Arab Charity).

BARIA ALAMUDDIN
With pleasure. I'd like actually from the outset to say what I'm going to say does not include the Iranian people or the Iranian culture. I'm mainly speaking about the regime and the government in Iran, and I'm somebody who endorses the position of zero tolerance with nuclear weapons, not only in Iran and this region, but in the whole world. More so actually in this part of the world. The Middle East is one of the most volatile if not the most volatile and violent parts of the world. Indeed we have a case in Israel where we know that Israel has nuclear weapons, so we hardly need another country with nuclear weapons. What we need is to get rid of all nuclear weapons in this region, so we don't want to add another one. I don't trust Iran. Of course I don't trust Iran. Iran says one thing today and another thing tomorrow. How can I trust it? Iran says that it's going to allow the world to take some of its centrifuges and indeed deal with them in Russia and then in France, and then the next day we have something contrary, completely contrary. I do not trust Iran because I'm an Arab, and because I'm Lebanese. I know what it means to work against those countries. I know what Iran is doing in countries like Lebanon, what it's doing in Iraq. I know that it's said it loves the Arabs, it loves its neighbours, I know that one day you hear some, you know, maybe the leader of the parliament saying: "Bahrain is the 14th province." It depends on the country, a sovereign country, Bahrain. So yes, I don't trust Iran because Iran comes across as devious and dishonest and I have a big problem with Iran becoming a nuclear weapon. I do not trust Iran at all when it comes to nuclear weapons or its ambitions towards the Arab world or its neighbours. What we need to do is get rid of nuclear weapons. I do not trust Israel as well, so...My conclusion is, what worries me most, is that if this action by Iran will lead to indeed a race in acquiring nuclear weapons in this area, and this is what we can't do. Thank you very much.


Dr. Alireza Nourizadehis a senior researcher and Director of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies in London. He is also a journalist, columnist and commentator for numerous newspapers and media outlets including Voice of America, Kayhan London, Al Jarideh in Kuwait and Al-Sharq alawsat. He started his journalistic career in Iran and in the 1970s became Political Editor of one of the country's main daily newspapers, Etela'at. As editor in chief of the weekly political magazine Omid Iran, he came to the attention of Ayatollah Khomeini who closed down the publication and ordered Dr. Nourizadeh's arrest. He later fled to London after receiving death threats.

ALIREZA NOURIZADEH
Thank you, Tim. Thank you, yes. Well, first of all I would like to say that I'm not living in Iran. I left my country, as Tim mentioned, 29 years ago and I love to go back. My window every day opens to Iran. I'm living in London physically, but emotionally, morally, mentally I am there, and I have a TV show called A Window to the Fatherland so through that show I speak to my people and, you know, they call me, they are in contact with me. I just want to ask one major question: how can we trust a government who kills its own people, tortures them, rapes them, killing them in the street of Tehran in front of your eyes... and then the President comes and denies that and says: "That was a conspiracy" and maybe you all saw Neda is a symbol for us, or the Green Movement of Iran, and you all saw Neda and he comes and say, no, maybe there was a conspiracy, maybe they themselves killed Neda. We cannot trust Islamic Republic of Iran because of its record. They lied to the international community year after year and when the international community discovered that, they came and tried to justify it. After the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini said: "Whatever has been done during the Shah's time, it has no value." Almost they closed down the whole nuclear file. After the war they found out no, they need nuclear energy, so the programme started again. And during that period, they tried to hide mainly the military side of it and how the... I think Dr. ElBaradei is the most decent man I have ever seen in such a important job. He tried to avoid confrontation, he tried to save Iran from attack, but even Dr. ElBaradei is fed up. Each time he discovers something new, so the...
well, I hope I have time during the discussion, during the debate, to explain to you what they have done and why and Baria not trust them. Thank you.


Audience Input



What would happen to the region if both Iran and Israel had nuclear weapons
AUDIENCE (F)
Good evening. I'm Iraqi. Well, my question is to the proposition side of the debate, the people who are speaking for the motion. Well, looking at the history of Iran's statements, and if we trust Iran this time, what happens if - as usual - what Iran has stated is not real, is not true? This region, where we are, between two powerful countries, as in Iran and Israel, with nuclear weapons... where do you think that this region will be, in the middle of what - what kind of mess?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Mohammad Marandi, would you like to take that?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
First of all, Iran's position has never changed, in fact with regards to the recent negotiations, the fact, the point that was mentioned that they switched their positions is not true, because the Iranians never made any statement. The problem is that in the Western press, we have a very misleading picture of Iran, and it is very rare for people to see the Iranian perspective told by the Iranians themselves. The guests on the other side, he says he has all sorts of evidence. Maybe he is linked to intelligence organisations in the West, I don't know, but from what I've seen in Iran, from the newspapers that I've read, from the materials that I've seen myself, I have never seen any inconsistencies.
TIM SEBASTIAN
But you haven't ever seen any classified material yourself, have you? And you're a university professor.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
That's right.
TIM SEBASTIAN
You're not the first person they would tell, are you?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Definitely not, but I have seen the reports of the IAEA. What your guest has said about Mashhad, none of these exist in any of the reports. It's interesting that the President of the United States, Mr. Obama, says he has full confidence in Mr. ElBaradei. Mr. ElBaradei says that there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran's programme is anything but peaceful.
TIM SEBASTIAN
I think the speaker wants to come back to you.
AUDIENCE (F)
Okay, sir, but you yourself said that Iran is a very developed country when it comes to research and so on. Looking at a country as strong as Iran, don't you think - and knowing that the relationship between Iran and Israel, and knowing the tension that's going through there, and knowing that Israel has a nuclear weapon, and you yourself stated that Iran is a very developed country when it comes to research - do you think that Iran would not take this chance to do it, to go and develop and have the nuclear bomb?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Of course, there's no reason why Iran should, I mean, who's going to launch a nuclear attack? The point is that in the 90s in fact, Western countries tried to prevent Iran from developing its oil industry, and petrochemical plants, saying that Iran may make chemical weapons, so why don't we just prevent Iran from having refineries? Why don't we just take away their computers, why don't they just live in a desert and sit back and have the Americans give them what the country needs? The reality is that the country is developing and in fact Iran has said repeatedly that it is willing to co-operate with every country in the region in order to develop the nuclear industry as well as other industries, nanotechnology, stem cell research together.
TIM SEBASTIAN
All right, okay, I'm going to ...
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
I think to answer her question, this area will go to hell, between the two powers having nuclear weapons - indeed to hell, there's no other place to go when you have such things. Every single day we hear statements coming out of Iran for the annihilation of Israel, for you know... it's... every day Mr. Ahmadinejad gives a speech and ‘death to America' and ‘death to Israel' and I don't know what. This is not a regime that talks about peace or about prosperity or indeed about... I'm not here to defend Israel in any way...
TIM SEBASTIAN
I just want you to answer that point.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Yes, first of all this is a myth that we have in the Western press again. Mr. Ahmadinejad, I didn't vote for either Mr. Ahmadinejad or Mr. Mousavi by the way, but Mr. Ahmadinejad never said that Israel must be destroyed. He said that Israel must cease to exist. This is Iran's official policy, it's far away from that.
TIM SEBASTIAN
So what's the difference? Cease to exist or be destroyed. It's not going to go by itself, is it?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
It should cease to exist as a political entity because it is an apartheid regime and the Palestinian people all have the right of return. Basically Israel is like apartheid South Africa. It is not morally legitimate in the eyes of the Iranians, and just as the black African majority had the right to go home.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Just one thing ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Very briefly because we're going to take another question in a minute. Just very briefly.
ALIREZA NOURIZADEH
I think when Dr Marandi is talking about the apartheid regime of the Israel, you should also talk about apartheid regime of Iran.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay.
ALIREZA NOURIZADEH
We have 14 million Sunni and we have no minister, no deputy minister, no government, not even head of a bank, a Sunni.


Why Iran, why not Israel; Iran itself vs Iran in the region
AUDIENCE (M)
Good evening everybody. I'm from Palestine. The question of trust. All the debate so far is building on what Mr ElBaradei has said, and where did he say that? He said it in Iran, and after Iran had actually disclosed the new premises for the inspection. Now the question of trust when it comes to nuclear armament, which of the countries that have capabilities were trustworthy on this question? Now the lady here ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Are you coming to a question, please?
AUDIENCE (M)
You see, if this area is so volatile, Margaret Thatcher when she was in office, and the question of nuclear armament was brought up, raised the point that Europe has never seen any kind ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, could we have a question please? You do have a question?
AUDIENCE (M)
The question is: why, why Iran, why this campaign that is to bring Iran as just one country down to its knees because Israel is, and the other countries, are after just Iran? Why Iran in particular? Thank you.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, all right. Dr. Nourizadeh.
ALIREZA NOURIZADEH
Always he is right. Whenever we want to talk about something: Israel conspiring against us, America conspiring against us, for 30 years we keep talking about the enemy, and when the enemy raises his hand to come and shake hand, we say ‘no'. Always enemy, always Israel - we should find different wording in order to justify the Iran nuclear programme, rather than talking about Israel has got 200 warheads, Israel has got ... Nobody wants to deprive Iran of nuclear technology. Everybody would like to see Iran advancing in all aspects of life. Iran is a great country, is a superpower of the area. Who wants to prevent Iran from having nuclear technology? The question is, this regime lost the trust of the world. First of all they have to gain back the trust, how could they? They could send 1200 kilograms to Russia and to France ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, we need to keep the answers relatively short because there's a lot to get in. Mahjoob Zweiri, you wanted to come in.
MAHJOOB ZWEIRI
I think there are two levels of discussion, and I drew your attention to that. One: the main question of this debate - according to the evidence available, now Iran is not [going] to build a nuclear bomb. We don't speak about tension, we speak about reality. Reality says Iran will not be able to build a nuclear. The problem of capabilities, problem of co-operation with the international community, the impact of sanctions, this was obvious to me. The other level of discussion is the political side of a problem between Iran, the region and the international community, and if you want to open the debate to this, then it will be never-ending. Now, there are different opinions over Iran's policy. We may disagree with some of them but at the end of the day the issue over the nuclear bomb... there is enough evidence that Iran will not build it, because it has the problem of capabilities.


Who/what can we trust: evidence vs pattern of behaviour, and bias in reporting
AUDIENCE (F)
Hi, I'm from Qatar. [pointing to Mohammad Marandi]. You mentioned that because the IAEA is run by Western nations, that their findings can be seen as biased. My question is, in this case who can we trust as an investigator of Iran's past?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Before I begin I'd just like to say it is distressing for me... it is distressing for me to see anyone use the race card and the sectarian card...
AUDIENCE (F)
But you did.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
No, I didn't. My mother-in-law is Arab and she's Sunni, she comes from a Sunni family, and I do not agree with this, and I think, I don't agree that Arabs are emotional either, that's an Orientalist stereotype, but in any case ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Well, you just heard one say she was.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Well I don't agree... but what I was saying was that despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency is biased towards the West, they have never shown a shred of evidence to prove that Iran's nuclear programme is anything but peaceful.
AUDIENCE (F)
What evidence do you have that says that the IAEA is biased towards the West?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Because the majority of the countries ...
AUDIENCE (F)
Yes, I realise that.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
... the members of the Board are from European countries, they don't reflect the international community proportionately.
AUDIENCE (F)
But I think that's what their job definition is, to investigate things on a non-biased...
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
I know, but we have like roughly 200 countries in the world ...
AUDIENCE (F)
I just don't believe their findings are accurate.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
... and therefore the developing countries are the majority countries, but on the Board they are a small minority.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
But the president is Egyptian.
AUDIENCE (F)
You still haven't given me an answer.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
But the countries of influence are European.
TIM SEBASTIAN
The questioner doesn't feel you gave here a satisfactory answer.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
My understanding was that you were asking me why do I think that despite it [being] biased, so what's the significance of what they say, how can we find the answer. I'm saying that even though it is biased, they have no evidence. That is itself very significant.
AUDIENCE (F)
My question is: who can we trust?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Well, I think that we have to trust evidence on the ground. If you say that, well, Iran is as usual guilty until proven innocent, that's fine. Palestinians are terrorists until proven otherwise, you know, that's how the media in today's world seems to be working.
TIM SEBASTIAN
I don't think it's quite so simple.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
It is, sometimes...


Any nuclear arms in any region causes an arms race and now Saudi Arabia and the UAE want a nuclear programme
AUDIENCE (F)
Hi. I'm Iranian-Canadian. I just wanted to ask you, did you know that having nuclear weapons, nuclear programme in any region has always caused an arms race in that region, and now UAE and Saudi Arabia are talking about having a nuclear programme - aren't you concerned a little bit that that could cause a future arms race, even if so far, I don't say that I don't believe in Iran not pursuing nuclear weapons because who knows, they had hidden so much evidence so far, who knows that they're not having a hidden programme now? What can actually guarantee ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
So what is your question?
AUDIENCE (F)
I want to know that, knowing that the Iranian government is so unpredictable, and knowing that they have hidden so many things so far, what guarantee is there that you are not hiding, I mean the Iranian government, is not hiding something right now, what's the guarantee?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, I'm going to ask Mahjoob Zweiri please to answer that one.
MAHJOOB ZWEIRI
Again, I'm not defending the Iranian government, this is not my work, I am a professor in an academy. I'm looking at the political scene in the region...
TIM SEBASTIAN
No, but you are on this side of the argument. The questioner asked you what guarantees she can expect that Iran is not intending to produce a bomb.
MAHJOOB ZWEIRI
We're taking into consideration 18 years that Iran hid its programme and 7 years that the international community knows about the programme. They failed to bring one piece of evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb. This is thirty years that they failed to bring any evidence...
TIM SEBASTIAN
All right, okay, does that answer your question?
[Questioner shakes her head]
MAHJOOB ZWEIRI
They will not do it.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Would you like to come back and say a bit more? It just doesn't answer your question?
AUDIENCE (F)
I want to say that so far they have hidden so many things. And the government is so unpredictable, what can guarantee... where, somewhere else they find nuclear programme and they have hidden something. It's an anarchy and in the anarchy they can do it.
TIM SEBASTIAN
I think he's already answered. Do you want to add something?
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Yes, very briefly. First of all I think that it is Saudi Arabia and the right of all other countries in the regions to have a nuclear programme within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and I think that developing countries have every right to have the same sort of technology that Western countries do.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, all right.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
And I think those countries should be able to co-operate in fact but the fact is that Iran's policies have not been inconsistent. In fact Iran for over two years stopped enriching uranium. They applied additional protocol, effectively allowing the IAEA to carry out intrusive inspections throughout the country, yet they never found anything suspicious.


The West is trying to protect whom in the Middle East, while giving Israel a free pass on nuclear and biological weapons
AUDIENCE (M)
Assalaam aleikum. I'm from Qatar. My question is against the motion. Who is the West exactly trying to protect, the neighbouring countries or their "spoiled brat", Israel? Why are we attacking Iran now, and when Israel used illegal biological weapons, no-one said a word? That is my question.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
The last thing I will ever do in my life is protect Israel or defend Israel. I'm Lebanese, I left my country, I live in the UK since...
[audience applause]
...I left my beloved country since 1982, I live in the UK courtesy of an Israeli invasion of my country, and Israel still invades my country whenever it pleases. You think I defend Israel? I think you haven't heard my comments. My comments were first, that we do not accept that Israel, and we know that Israel has nuclear weapons. I think we're missing a point here. We're not discussing whether Iran has a nuclear weapon now. We're discussing that: can we trust Iran not to build a nuclear weapon maybe tomorrow, maybe after tomorrow, maybe the year after? What I'm trying to say is that the way Iran conducts itself does not make us believe it or trust it. I would like Iran to have a peaceful nuclear programme, of course I would.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Let's let the questioner come back.
AUDIENCE (M)
Why wasn't this question asked when Israel used those biological...?
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
It is asked...
AUDIENCE (M)
Then where's the answer, I want the answer. Why does Israel have the right to use them and Iran doesn't have the right to have ...
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
No, no, Israel doesn't have the right, let's make this clear. Every time, I'm a journalist and I live in the West, and every time I interview a Western politician, I always start by asking: "What are you doing about the nuclear programme in Israel?" and you know what the answer I get is? "We're against it." Of course we always tell Israel, but this is what you get.


Israel has had nuclear weapons for decades, so why would Iran having them trigger an arms race in the Middle East
AUDIENCE (F)
Hi. I am Egyptian. My question is for the motion against. You stated earlier that it's no secret that Israel had nuclear weapons for decades now, so what makes you so sure that Iran developing its nuclear weapons programme will be the trigger for an arms race in the Middle East?
TIM SEBASTIAN
That really wasn't the motion that we're discussing. We're discussing whether the House trusts Iran not to build one, not whether Iran would be the trigger for an arms race in the region.
AUDIENCE (F)
But the larger significance of that would be that one of the reasons stated was that it would trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, so I was asking why that would be the role played by Iran as opposed to Israel who's had them for decades.
TIM SEBASTIAN
That's going slightly beyond what we want to ...
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
It's a matter of self-defence, my friend, it's a matter of self-defence. When I see my neighbour that hates me, that is trying to trigger problems in my country, we know what they are doing, for example what Hamas and the Palestinians... dividing the Palestinians. We know what they're doing in Iraq again I tell you, what they're doing in the Emirates with the island, and Yemen with the Houthis so this is why you will find out countries for example perhaps like Qatar or Saudi Arabia or Egypt or other countries feeling the need to have such weapons to defend themselves. At the end of the day, we're all going to go to hell.
[Audience applause]
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
It's very worrying to see first of all, all sorts of quotes made, and we don't know where the sources are from. Ayatollah Khomeini said that, this person said that, we've never heard of them. I can say Obama said in a private meeting that there's no concern, but with regards to Iran, Iran supports the Palestinian people, Iran is guilty. Iran supported the Lebanese people. When no-one supported Bosnia, Iran did.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
Iran does not support the Lebanese people, I'm sorry. Iran is making problems for the Lebanese people.
[Audience applause]
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
Not everyone agrees with you. Not everyone agrees with you.
ALIREZA NOURIZADEH
I'll just give you some figures. Iran gave Hezbollah $1 billion, 200,000 million, this is record, public record - you can refer to it.. in two years' time, in two years, and Hamas obtained $120 million from Iran last year, and Iran did not give one penny to the Palestinian legitimate government of Abu Mazen.


Iran, but why not also Syria which was bombed by Israel
AUDIENCE (M)
Assalaam aleikum. I'm from Syria. Talking about Iran, this leads us to talking about Syria as well. I am from Derezor by the way and Israel last year bombed my city, claiming that we have a nuclear programme in Derezor - and in Derezor, if you look at this city from the desert, they look through the satellite ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, well, we're really not discussing the bombing that took place in Syria.
AUDIENCE (M)
Okay, but the same problem, that nobody here would like to have a nuclear bomb in Iran or an Arab world in the whole region, but Israel has nuclear weapons and nuclear ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
So what is your point? That Iran should have weapons as well?
AUDIENCE (M)
No, no, no, I don't agree that Iran should have, or I don't think or don't believe that Iran is going to have a nuclear bomb. They have a peaceful nuclear programme and they are announcing that and ElBaradei himself ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, that's your view. Do you have a question?
AUDIENCE (M)
My question is why the West [has] invaded Iraq headed by, of course they are headed by America, they are attacking Syria, they are attacking Lebanon...at the same time...
TIM SEBASTIAN
No, that's not really the question. That's not the question we're discussing. Thank you very much. Would you sit down please. That's not the question we're discussing. I'm going to take another question from over there. I'm going to take another question from over there, the lady over there, thank you. If we can stay with the subject, that would be awfully helpful for us all, thank you.


Why does Iran, a sovereign nation, need to prove its trustworthiness
AUDIENCE (M)
Thank you, Tim. I am Tunisian. My question for the opposition is why, in the first place, should Iran seek the trust of anybody? Iran is an independent country, a sovereign country and it has every single right to defend itself against the United States-led campaign, anti-Islamic and anti-Iranian campaign.
TIM SEBASTIAN
So you think if it wants a bomb, it should have one?
AUDIENCE (M)
Sorry?
TIM SEBASTIAN
You think if it wants a bomb, it should have one?
AUDIENCE (M)
If it wants a bomb, definitely it should have one. The gentleman in the opposition earlier mentioned that ...
[Applause]
TIM SEBASTIAN
Even though it says it doesn't want one?
AUDIENCE (M)
Within the periphery of fifteen neighbours, Iran is not threatened by anybody and that's very misleading because one of the major enemies of Iran and the Islamic world is Israel.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, Baria Alamuddin, you want to answer this gentleman?
BARIA ALAMUDDI
Yes, thank you. You know what I really do not understand is this love for wars and nuclear weapons. I mean, where is this coming from?
[Applause].
Don't people want to live, don't people want to enjoy themselves. We have enough wars. As you said rightly we have a great big enemy called Israel that wages war every single day and threaten us all. Do we want to be threatened more? I agree with you.
TIM SEBASTIAN
I think 'every single day' is a little bit of an exaggeration.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
Iran is a sovereign country, yes, you're right, but also we live in a global village and we cannot let every single nation in the world, especially with a track record like Iran, have a nuclear weapon.. No, I'm sorry, I do not agree with that.
ALIREZA NOURIZADEH
Israel is not our neighbour, sorry.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
Israel should not have a nuclear weapon, they should get rid of nuclear weapons today.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Baria Alamuddin you made your point. Professor Marandi.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
First of all I don't agree at all with the assumption, at all, that Iran is in any way or form pursuing nuclear weapons. This is a policy of divide and rule. To demonise Iran. If any other country tomorrow let's say takes a more independent line from the United States, they will face the same situation as Iran does today. Iran's problem is basically that its stance is independent from that of the United States. That is its main problem. It will be accused of everything and everything, terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, all right, OK. You've made your point . Thank you very much. Gentleman in the fourth row. That's right, we'll get a microphone to you.


How to make the Middle East a nuclear free area when Israel won't stop even settlement building
AUDIENCE (M)
Hi, I am Tunisia. I would like to ask Mrs. Baria, how can you look for free nuclear area and still we cannot even impose on Israel to stop settlements? How can you stop, how can you impose on Israel to stop their nuclear programme?
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
Yes, I agree.
[Applause]
AUDIENCE (M)
So please, please, can we be realistic?
TIM SEBASTIAN
What is your point about the motion?
AUDIENCE (M)
My point is ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Can you relate your questions to the motion, please?
AUDIENCE (M)
Can I talk? Can I talk? It's about me, I'm Arabic, so my point is, if there are countries who do have nuclear power, not to use it. It's just for the balance of power, there is something called the balance of power and now we need balance of power. As long as there is Israel, we need the nuclear bomb.
[Applause].
As long as there is Israel ... So yes, yes, it's good to be optimistic but as long as there is Israel, we cannot even impose on her to stop settlements, so what about nuclear weapons?
TIM SEBASTIAN
You've made your point.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
I trust you and I understand ...
AUDIENCE (M)
Me too I trust you but I cannot wait for twenty years ...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, can she please answer the question now? Thank you.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
I agree with you. I think Israel should not be allowed to behave like it does and I do not agree with the double standards that many countries including the United States or Britain or anybody exercises when it comes to the right of the Palestinians, but this does not mean, my friend, that we should add insult to injury and have another country in the region with nuclear weapons. We want to live, okay, we want to develop. We don't want to build nuclear weapons. We don't want more wars.
[Applause]
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay. Does anybody, excuse me, we have to move on to another person.
BARIA ALAMUDDIN
This is not about Israel. It's not about Israel.
TIM SEBASTIAN
It's not about Israel, you're right. Professor Marandi.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI
One evidence is that Iran was a victim and is the most important victim of weapons of mass destruction in the modern world, and of course Western societies have yet to apologise for what they've done to Iran. Has Iran produced chemical weapons? Has Iran used chemical weapons? No, but therefore Iran has a clean track record, contrary to what these other Western countries have. Their track record is not nearly as good. Iran has to face the NPT and work within the IAEA. Fantastic, that is how it should work, and other countries in the region should also develop their nuclear programmes in co-operation, in co-ordination with one another. When gas and oil runs out, what are we going to do here? What are we going to do?


The Result

The vote is 48 for the motion, 52 percent against.
The motion has been narrowly defeated.


Addendum: Ahmed of Saudi Jeans recently posted a link to a Saudi Press Agency news item on the development of nuclear technology in Saudi Arabia at the initiative of King Abdullah, along with the text in English and his own comment. I have linked and reproduced it below, as pertinent to this post:

KSA Goes Nuclear and Renewable

The state news agency says:

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued today a royal order establishing “King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy” in accordance with its law. Former minister of commerce and Harvard-trained physicist Hashim Yamani will head the new organization.

I always believed that Saudi Arabia, as the world’s top oil exporter, should invest part of the wealth generated by its vast but finite natural resources to deal with the reality of living in the post-oil era. This is a step in the right direction.


Is Iran any less trustworthy than any other state regarding nuclear capacity?
Should Israel be allowed to have nuclear weapons without declaring them openly and without agreeing to IAEA cooperation, non-proliferation, armament reduction? Why or why not?
How could they be made to adhere to international norms?
Should the moderator have allowed the question about the bombing of Syria as being relevant?
If any other Middle East country gets nuclear technology, does an arms race automatically follow?
Can Saudi, the GCC, the UAE, or any MENA country be trusted any more or less with civilian nuclear technology?
What would happen to the region in your opinion if Iran, or Saudi, or the UAE were to have nuclear weapons?
If you were an audience member what questions would you have asked the panelists?
How would you have voted on the motion? Why?
Does the information added in the addendum change your impressions any? How so?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

46 comments:

Usman said...

A question I am asking from Americans for years over different news and blog sites. But to date, I have to hear a single eloquent answer.

Q: If USA can have nuclear weapons, then why not Iran?? What makes USA more responsible than Iran? Who has history of going to wars every decades and even using Nukes? USA or Iran? How come you (the Americans) allow yourself to do certain tings but even think of prohibiting others to do so?

The unspoken answer, the unheard sentence, I can feel in the air:

"Might Is Right!"

Wendy said...

Very good question!!

Solomon2 said...

Consider the Iraqi. Under Saddam people decried Israel in public. Now that they are addressing their domestic issues under a democratic government this citizen's main concern about Israel is what happens if Iran gets nukes and Iraq is caught in the middle of a conflict? Security and truth - reasonable and generally manageable concerns - have replaced the implacable ideological hatred that characterizes the discussion of so many other Arabs.

Susanne said...

Thanks for sharing this. I felt myself wishing the moderator allowed the people to explore some of the topics he said was off topic including the gentleman from Syria.

Usman, your question sounds like one my Syrian friend asks me on occasion. It's a good one for sure.

I think Iran's President has to overcome his negative image so that my people don't think he is a mad man. I'm sure some (most?) of it has to do with the biased reporting of western media outlets, but that's life.

I wasn't impressed with how they dealt with their own people after the election last year. It didn't seem to make us feel all warm and fuzzy about the Iranian regime.

So I would have voted with the majority on this one.

Chiara said...

Usman--Thank you for your comment. That is a good question, and one answer to it. I wonder what other answers might be suggested.

Wendy--Thank you, it is a good question (the one in the title I assume). Any further thoughts?

Solomon2--Welcome to my blog and thank you for your comment. Ideologies do close down discussion. In the case of Iran of course it is not an Arab ideology, but a specific politico-religious one that Iranians seem unhappy with too. At least based on my conversations with those outside of Iran, whether they are here as refugees or students with no intentions of going back. When I was there I even had shop keeper dare to say, indirectly of course, that things were better under the Shah (that is debatable too of course, but overall at least more open for most). Don't we wish that the CIA hadn't interfered with the democratically elected Mossadegh, even if he did plan to nationalize Iranian resources? Thanks again for your comment, and I look forward to your response.

Susanne--thank you for sharing your perspective. I think you made a number of good points, including that Iran's handling of recent elections was lamentable (to put it mildly), and that despite the Western medias overlay, it is hard to find Ahmadinejad an appealing political figure.

I too wished the moderator had allowed the discussion to move more freely where everyone seemed to be taking it, which was from trusting Iran to trusting other countries with nuclear power, notably Israel.

Maybe Samer will share his perspective on the Syrian situation and rationale for weapons that the student here was attempting to address.

Thanks again for your comment.

I hope others will contribute their perspectives on the motion, the debate, the questions raised in the post or in the comments.

I for one found it very interesting that journalistic articles proclaiming that Saudi has nuclear weapons ambitions get so much traction, when the serious investigations show time and again that they don't. The UAE and GCC wishes for nuclear potential other than military seems to be dismissed by the same people who warn what will happen when the oil runs out.

Usman said...

One more thing. Before Ahmadi Nejad came to power, Was Iran's Nuclear program acceptable to the West? oh, probably there was another "mad man".

Chiara said...

Usman--thanks for your additional remark. I agree that it is convenient to mislabel Ahmadinejad as a "mad man", as was done to Gaddafi. The US has a very political and "personal" history with Iran that has obviously a lot to do with control over oil, and geo-politics. I doubt the US wants anyone but itself and Israel as a satellite to have nuclear power, but a number of countries do, including ones the US would really prefer didn't like Pakistan, Russia, China.

Usman said...

Russia and China acquired the nuclear status more or less in the same era when US was developing it's nuclear technology. So, matter was already out of US hand by then.
Pakistan's Nuclear project is a whole new adventurous story. It defied all the expectations and conspiracies, not to mentions enormous blackmailing tactics adopted by US in 1990s. I spent my childhood reading words; CTBT, NPT in newspaper. Nobody knew what acronym stand for, but everybody knew what it is for. Another major factor was that Pakistan completed the project in cold war era. Had they been late a few years, their capabilities would have been blasted in the way Iraqi facilities were bombed by Israel.

oby said...

I have not read the article yet as I have just come across it but I will. But quickly: Perhaps I am wrong and a victim of propaganda but wasn't it Ahmadinejad who said the Holocaust was a story made up by the Jews and the West and that the Jews should be wiped off the face of the earth? Whether he was kidding or rattling sabers, that right there gives me pause about letting Iran have nuclear weapons. When a leader of a nation makes such a sweeping genocidal comment about a people, any people, I have to at least question their mindset.Never mind how he treated his won people during the elections as Susanne mentioned.

I have to run, but I will be back and comment further.

Solomon2 said...

"Don't we wish that the CIA hadn't interfered with the democratically elected Mossadegh, even if he did plan to nationalize Iranian resources? "

When the Shah fell on Carter's watch he tried, improbably, to blame the Nixon Administration for selling the Shah F-14 fighters. But yes, overthrowing Mossadegh was a goof. I blame the Brits and the oil companies for leading us on with it. Eisenhower was initially very happy with the result, but I think he soured later and that may have contributed to his opposition to the Suez Campaign in 1956. As Khruschev once noted, the U.S. had trouble perceiving national liberation from communist movements. We paid for that in Iran as well as in Vietnam.

"..a specific politico-religious one that Iranians seem unhappy with too. At least based on my conversations with those outside of Iran, whether they are here as refugees or students with no intentions of going back."

I find that bitterly amusing. As a kid I met a number of Iranians unhappy with the Shah. They had every intention of going back; they were college poli-sci students studying the mechanisms dictatorships in college, not so they could avoid it but so they could build their own empire, starting at home. They knew, they told me, that with Britain withdrawing, the U.S. timid, and the Soviets absent there was a vacuum, a space for their desires. They laughed when I asserted that "the people" would stop them.

What is absent? No Madame de Staël, no vocal expatriate movement that dares advocate that Iran be invaded to remove the current regime. That is the true success of the terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan; they scared the Iranians from the idea of liberation. Which is part of the reason why the mullahs support terror in those places.

Obama has declared himself Pontius Pilate rather than stand with liberating Iranians. We may pay as dearly for that stance as France did for failing to stand up to Hitler in 1935. Vocal Iranian expats could make a difference.

Usman said...

oby,

What is the death toll made by Iran and US in the last century? What matter most? "rattling sabers" or the actual acts of massacre?
Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, South America, Iraq, Pakistan. A long list massacres by US.

Samer said...

Thank you Chiara for posting about this interesting topic. I do not believe that Iran's government is a good government, however, I also do not think that American government is more righteous than the Iranians.

As far as I am concerned Iran never began any attack against any country in modern history. Their war with Iraq resulted from Saddam attacking them and him being supported by Western governments. However, can anyone count the number of countries that were attacked by Western governments in the last 100 years?

I want to emphasize that I DO NOT believe that Iran's government is a peaceful or good government , but I just don't see any reason for trusting other governments having destructive weapons that were actually used to murder my people.

Depleted Uranium and white phosphorous were used in Iraq by American military and they are causing many serious illnesses like cancer to the population. It is enough to note that the Iraqi ministry of health URGED the mothers in Fallujah to stop having children because of the extremely high rate of child defects that have occurred in the area after the American attack.

I just cannot help it but to think in the following way: if Iraqis really had weapons of mass destruction, would others dare to attack them in this way and murder tens of thousands of them? Would we see such a video like the one we saw in Wikileaks where you would see a clear example of how many Iraqis are just killed like they are insects that no one care about?

I just wish Arabs had powerful weapons and were assertive enough to send a clear message to Israel,"If you keep killing Palestinian children, don't think we will just keep watching." I am just bored of seeing my people being treated this way and I wish to see their rights being defended like others.

I know that governments in all parts of the world are not foolish enough to commit suicide. Unlike what the US media wants us to think about Iran. It is a great myth to say that Iran's government is foolish enough to actually use destructive weapons to hurt other nations. They know this would cause their own destruction. However, I think that different opponents having similar powerful weapons would prevent both sides from attacking each other and can actually lead to something we ALL want which is peace!!!

Usman said...

Thanks Samer, I couldn't have said it better!

Chiara said...

Usman--thank you for your further comments, and sharing the information you have, and your perspective from being in Pakistan.

Oby--Thanks for your comment and I hope you will add to it. It has been reliably reported that Ahmadinejad was mistranslated and misquoted on Israel, and that his main point was not Holocaust denial but not excusing all of Israel's actions based on the Holocaust. In that sense he is among others who criticize a "Holocaust Industry". That is not to say I agree with any version of what he has said, or with his governance of Iran, but I only make the remark in the interest of accuracy. Thanks again and I do hope you will elaborate.

Solomon2--Thanks for your followup comment. Your historical knowledge is impressive. Indeed there were many who were unhappy with the Shah and for good reason. They now mingle in exile with those unhappy with the regime that replaced the Shah. As I understand the revolution that brought Khomeini to power, most of those trying to overthrow the Shah were not planning on Khomeini; and even those who supported Khomeini were not planning for what they got. The (auto-)biography of Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi, is very illuminating. She talks of being a law student and demonstrating for Khomeini. Her professors tried to tell her she would be one of the first negatively affected by his coming to power, but she thought they were wrong. Of course after going from judge to legal secretary, working her way up to law clerk and then being unemployed she thought rather differently.

Samer--thank you for joining the discussion so insightfully. In reading your comment I was reminded of Madeleine Albright's critique of the Bush administration's foreign policy: American actions had proven to the world that if you have nuclear weapons the US will leave you alone (North Korea) and if you don't you would be attacked (Iraq).

I hope those who have commented will elaborate further and that others will join in the discussion!

Solomon2 said...

Israel has a shadowy nuclear capability to defend itself. Iran, on the other hand, seeks nukes because they want to establish a new Persian Empire. For ninety years America worked to destroy Imperialism and embrace nationalism. Now the Obama Administration, it appears, is moving to reverse this. Unless they change course - fast - life may change quickly in the middle east - for the survivors, anyway.

countrygirl said...

Iran is a well known country that gives money to terrorist and would probably furnish them with the so called dirty bombs (or the materials to built them) . I don't think he will nuke Israel but the chance that he would furnish nuclear materials to the various terrorist group is high....

The mad dog (aka Ahmadinejad) in many occasion spoke about the destruction of Israel and the denial of the Shoà there were always a "mistake" in the translation? I don't think so.


Sadly Obama imho is a Carter (or Chamberlain) redux he is simply ignoring the problem by making good speeches he didn't do enough when the students protested in Iran

oby said...

Usman…

Let me state categorically and very unambiguously I think the Iraq invasion was wrong. I thought so from day one and was livid when Bush invaded. I felt that he had done nothing to prove the WMD theory and as an American citizen, I felt it was being shoved down our throats. Journalists, pundits…no one was able to provide a credible piece of evidence that Sadam was a threat to the USA. It was poorly executed (for example, directly after the invasion there should have been ground troops that followed immediately to maintain order and at the very minimum protect the country’s amazing museums and heritage and prevent the looting). It has wasted an unimaginable amount of American tax dollars that could have gone to things we need in our country such as infrastructure repair and for all the fighting I don’t think it has done much to make the world safer from terrorists…in fact I think in some ways it has enabled and emboldened them. It has destroyed our image in the world and squandered a lot of goodwill. More than anything else a lot of American men and many, many innocent Iraqis have died.

Having said all that I don’t trust Iran to use any weapons they have in a responsible manner. IF they were using it for domestic purposes due to oil running out (which I might add is a very far sighted and mature thought process if true) why were they so secretive for years? Why the cat and mouse game and why did they admit to it only after they were found out?

No one wants to deny Iran a way of taking care of itself and its people. Oil will run out and America will be in a bad way as will the rest of the world when that happens. Alternative energy sources are vital. If Iran was building wind energy or solar energy or figuring out how to get energy from algae (which is kind of hot now) I don’t think the rest of the world would say a thing. But they are trying to have nuclear power. Iran itself may not drop a bomb but I am not entirely sure that they won’t give that technology to people that will use it against Israel and the “Great Satan” as we are affectionately called! The problem with that, other than hurting an entire people for the government’s choices is the fallout from that will, in the case of Israel sweep across the Middle East and in the case of America will possibly affect Mexico and Canada. The potential for major harm in a grand sweeping manner is too great.

If I had my choice I would get rid of nuclear weapons. Destruction of the world is a push of a button away and the fact that my life and yours depends on the generosity of someone does not make me feel very good. However, I trust America not to push the button far more than I trust Iran. IF FOR NO OTHER REASON America has interests in the Middle East and wouldn’t want to harm that.

Ahmadinejad is a scary fellow IMO. That whole statement I made in the first paragraph about being against the war could get me thrown in jail or tortured in Iran as a dissident. Not the type of free speech and open attitude that would make me feel better about a government's view of dissenting opinions and tolerance of differing attitudes. If Iran was run by someone else I might have a very different attitude about the whole thing.

As to Chiara’s point about not using the Holocaust to excuse Israel…I agree completely. One has nothing to do with the other and we can’t confuse the two. The Palestininians need a fair deal and IMO, the Israelis perhaps more than anyone, considering their past should understand the need and a desire for a homeland.

Usman said...

oby,

Question is not if you trust Iran, the question is; Who are you to say that in first place?
I am not American, I do not trust US to use any weapons they have in a responsible manner. The reason of which you yourself had explained in the first paragraph of your comment. And on the top of that US is the only country who actually had used it. So, I can trust France, I can trust China, I can trust UK, I can even trust Russia, but NEVER US, given it's past and current history. Why does your "trust" matter more than mine?

You played a hypothesis of Iran giving weapon to "terrorist". Well, US had already given the nuclear weapon to a terrorist state. Guess the name!

"Great Satan", What about "axis of evil"?

You said:
"IF FOR NO OTHER REASON America has interests in the Middle East and wouldn’t want to harm that. "

My friend, US is ALREADY in the state of war in ME.

"Ahmadinejad is a scary fellow IMO." So is to me whoever sitting in White house.

"That whole statement I made in the first paragraph about being against the war could get me thrown in jail or tortured in Iran as a dissident." If I would be writing my comments while sitting in America, I would be as concerned as you are due to "patriot act".

"If Iran was run by someone else I might have a very different attitude about the whole thing." When Iran was run by someone else, the attitude of US and it's allies was NOT different.

Everything boils down to a simple question. How can you stop me doing certain things when you yourself do and continually doing it?

********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
The comment above is no personal attack. I genuinely think these are legitimate questions. Hope, I didn't breach the comment policy.

oby said...

Usman…

"This House trusts Iran NOT to build a nuclear bomb"

That was the motion. A question about trust. You asked, “Question is not if you trust Iran, the question is; who are you to say that in first place?” My question to you would be why shouldn’t I say that? Why would I not have the right to say I don’t trust Iran? You have freely said you don’t trust America. You don’t have to agree with me and almost 50% of the house didn’t. That is your right. I am answering the question that was posed. You asked why my trust matters more than yours. I am pretty sure that nowhere in my response did I indicate that your opinion or trust matters less than mine. I directed my question to you in particular because in my previous statement which I directed at no one in particular…simply gave my comment…you chose to pose a question to me directly. So I answered it. That is the only reason I have commented to you personally.

I do think it is a question of trust…if it wasn’t I don’t think Iran would be facing the resistance it is at the moment. It isn't only America who doesn't trust them. I would like to see a poll of the countries of the world INCLUDING the Middle East that think it would be a good idea to let Iran have a Bomb. To the best of my knowledge no one is trying to take the nuclear energy away from Iran...They are asking for some transparency and cooperation. Again, why be so secretive and say one day they will cooperate and the next not? As I said before it isn’t about Iran in particular it is about the regime at the moment. I do worry that if one gets it then an armament race will be started in that section of the world. At the moment the M.E. is not the most peaceful place on earth American involvement notwithstanding. That concerns me as well.

"Ahmadinejad is a scary fellow IMO." So is to me whoever sitting in White house.” That’s fine, you are entitled to feel that way if you like. I worry about it sometimes too. As I stated above I don’t always and often don’t agree with what the president does.

If I would be writing my comments while sitting in America, I would be as concerned as you are due to "patriot act". You can be concerned but in that case I would have to say it is a displaced concern. There would be nothing in your comments that would target you as a potential problem to be watched. As for MY comments and the Patriot Act…not a worry. We are allowed to disagree with the government without fear of repercussions.

"If Iran was run by someone else I might have a very different attitude about the whole thing." When Iran was run by someone else, the attitude of US and it's allies was NOT different.” Again, I can’t speak for the USA as a whole. I can speak for myself only which is what I have done. But I don’t find the current president trustworthy…even many of his own people don’t find him trustworthy and accuse him of rigging this last election. What about them? If they don’t trust him why should I? I would feel more comfortable if someone like the King of Jordon was running Iran…he seems to be a reasonable person who takes care in what he says and how he acts on behalf of his people and country. He has a measured, thoughtful tone, he has raised the standard of living of his people, he has genuinely tried to help Palestinians rather than just spout rhetoric that is useless and inflammatory.

I do think that you have some legitimate questions and actually a couple of the same concerns I do. But, obviously there are areas of disagreement.

THE HOLY SINNER said...

Interesting topic, I must say. And an attempt to garner support for the fallacy that nuclear Iran is a threat to the arab world, in the first place.

Now consider this. If Iran is acquiring technology for weapons, will it not be defensive in nature considering Israel in the west, Pakistan, India and China in the east, Russia in the north and american bases on the british islands in the south are nuclear capable? Where was Tim Sebastian with his smart-ass-mouth combination when Israel acquired the nuclear weapons? When England and France helped it become a nuclear power and when the americans helped graduate israel to a thermo-nuclear capable country?

Why is the smart-ass-mouth combination here not holding a debate on how the nuclear capability of israel threatens the region? Why is there no mention that Golda Meir had ordered nukes ready and was contemplating a strike at Cairo and Damascus when the USSR intervened?

Why do the arabs not feel threatened from Israel, when Israel was about to nuke them and can bomb them whenever it wants, than to feel threatened from Iran, atleast 10 years away from the first bomb it can have?

I am not siding with anyone here. I hate the game and not the player. The beautifully made ladies and gentlemen, present in the debate hate just the player! What a shame!

THE HOLY SINNER said...

For the "mad dog" thing, the media should be responsible enough to know when freedom of speech breaches the freedom of respect, per se. And if we do have to compare mad dogs, let us comapre Mr. Ahmedinejad with George Bush. Compare him with both the father and the son! Holy Ghost my man!

And then compare him with Bill Clinton, who bombed baby milk plants et al, and why because he was about to be had for focing an intern to give him a blow job in the office! Ah so no sanctity of the President's office there in question? No one in the US got up to ask the WTF question from the Commander-in-chief? Killing innocent people around the globe only because you want to hide your deeds and remain in the seat? I will suggest a little less lard there please for our american readers.

Usman said...

oby,

You tried your best to dodged the question. But it's OK, I never expected from any American to genuinely answer the question I posed.

"I would like to see a poll of the countries of the world INCLUDING the Middle East that think it would be a good idea to let Iran have a Bomb." ----My friend, would you like to see a poll of the countries of the world that think it is good and safe to have US the pile of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? The problem is, their opinion would not matter, simply because nobody can dictate the Empire.

"I do worry that if one gets it then an armament race will be started in that section of the world." ------ Hello!, would you like me to remind who started the Nuclear race in the world?

"even many of his own people don’t find him trustworthy and accuse him of rigging this last election. What about them?" ----- There is no government in the world which does not have opposition in their country. What's so surprising in that?

"I would feel more comfortable if someone like the King of Jordon was running Iran…he seems to be a reasonable person who takes care in what he says and how he acts on behalf of his people and country. He has a measured, thoughtful tone" ----- Americans are always comfortable with American leaning dictators in third world. Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Pervaiz Musharraf, Zia ul Haqq, Ayub Khan of Pakistan, Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan..., a log list of "allies".
Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah, Hamas are elected governments. It's their people's trust which matter's to them. NOT YOURS!

I know the "concerns for democracy" is another favorite punch line of America hypocrisy, but let's stick to the topic here. Leave the democracy debate for some other forum.

oby said...

Chiara...

This is long and I apologize for that. I hope you will allow it anyway.

Part 1.

Usman…

I have been respectful, nonattacking and have taken far more time than I should have to try to engage with you and explain what I am saying. I will make a final attempt to make my point clear but it feels in some ways we are not even talking about the same points. You keep throwing things into the conversation that I haven’t even mentioned. You simply answer my points with a question.

It appears that you have a major ax to grind with the USA…I am quite certain you are not alone. I cannot solve your problem for you nor have I defended the USA in their actions. In fact, I think I have been very clear that I think their choice to go to war was a bad one and our foreign policy could use a bit of rethinking. (To put it mildly).

To answer your questions once more: Yes, I would love to see a poll of the entire world and what they think of the USA having nuclear weapons…in fact, I would love to see a poll that would ask them to choose who they would prefer to have it: the USA or Iran. Perhaps if the whole world were against the USA having one it might send a message and they can lead the world in getting rid of them. Obama has started that process. I don’t know where it will lead but hopefully to the destruction of all nuclear weapons in the world. It can only lead to trouble for the world to have more rather than fewer (and hopefully no one eventually) to have them. However, if I had to choose I would prefer many other countries even some in the Middle East to have weapons instead of Iran…

“There is no government in the world which does not have opposition in their country. What's so surprising in that?”

So it is OK for the Iranians themselves to have issues of trust with Ahmadinejad, but it is not OK for anyone else in the world even when his own people rioted, risked their lives against the regime, were jailed, tortured and hanged for voicing their opposition? How he treats his OWN people who voted in an election that they feel was tainted speaks a lot about his personal style of governance. When it is not OK in the USA to criticize the President or the government openly and I need to worry about a noose around my neck for voicing my opinion then I will consider Mr. Ahmadinejad’s tactics normal. Until then in my book, he is not a person of trust. In your book he might be a great leader. I suspect, since you listed Hamas and Hezbollah you think that he is.

“Americans are always comfortable with American leaning dictators in third world”.

Actually, more accurately Americans are more comfortable with leaders who are reasonable, willing to enter into some kind of dialogue about how to solve the Middle East issue and who treat their people well. Hanging them for objecting to what they feel was a rigged election is not treating your people well. Claiming and working toward the elimination of Israel is not reasonable (which is the stated cause of both Hamas and Hezbollah as well as Ahmadinejad. )…Just as saying Palestinians shouldn’t have a country of their own is not reasonable or acceptable. We prefer leaders who are interested in raising the standard of living for their people and not robbing them blind, who will be able to give and take in issues with their neighbors and are interested in establishing and maintaining a stable country. That is a small wish list of sorts.

oby said...

Part 2:

I find it very interesting that you would think that the King of Jordon was a dictator and someone to be concerned about. He is one of the only leaders in the Middle East to help the Palestinians when they needed it. What about the rest of the countries there? What have they done to help them? Everybody gripes about it but what are they doing about it to help them in the here and now? They are not taking them in to give them shelter so that they have a stable life until an agreement can be struck so that they can have a homeland of their own or at least be full fledged rightful citizens of Israel if that is their preference. How much aide are these other countries giving the Palestinians? You say that since Hezbollah is an elected government the peoples’ trust in them matters. Yet the ones you mentioned (Mubarak and the others) who were also elected don’t count? Why wouldn’t the people’s faith in those elected leaders count?

“I know the "concerns for democracy" is another favorite punch line of America hypocrisy, but let's stick to the topic here. Leave the democracy debate for some other forum.”

I never mentioned democracy in my entire statement. You inserted that yourself. In fact, I had not thought of it until you brought it up so let’s address that since it is on the table now. In case you have any doubts here is my stance on that. I believe that people of all kinds have the right or should have the right to choose their elected officials. I believe the best way and fairest way is by vote…a real vote, not a sham vote. I believe that people generally and genuinely try to make the right choice for a person that will represent them fairly. I believe that if the person doesn’t, the people should have the right to vote the leader out and replace them with another candidate. I also realize that not only in the USA but all over the world sometimes the choice available is not the greatest choice, but even then, people work with the choice available. I personally believe in democracy. But I also believe that the people have the right to choose how they prefer to be governed. If they would like to not be a democracy and prefer to be lead by a dictator or have an Islamic state that is up to them. I don’t think dictatorships are in the best interest of the people as it doesn’t give them a fair voice. But if that is what they want that is their choice. I am not so sure that it is important HOW a country is governed just as long as they can get along with the rest of the world and the people are satisfied with their governance and their lives are fulfilling and they have a chance to thrive. Not many dictatorships can offer that.

Now back to the issue:

Iran is stating that they don’t want a nuclear weapon. Maybe that is true. I am not saying they are lying…I am saying I have doubt therefore don’t fully trust them, which once again was the point of the Doha debate. I am not clear why you are arguing so strongly for something that they say they don’t even want. Perhaps it isn’t a question of you thinking that Iran should have a nuclear weapon. What I think is more to the point is that for you it is an issue of the USA being against the theoretical nuclear weapon. A hypocrisy as you say. But here is the thing…even if the USA was out of the equation completely the rest of the countries involved who haven’t used nuclear power would take a stand against Iran having a weapon most likely. Would that work better for you? Would it feel less unfair? It isn’t about US hypocrisy…it is about Iran not being trusted because of their less than forthright behavior.

Do you think that Iran should have transparency and cooperate with the IAEA? My question is why wouldn’t they if there is truly nothing to hide? “Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” On the contrary, it is their moment to shine and show the world how much a force for good they can be in the region and how they are attempting to lead the way in alternative energy. Why screw it up by being secretive?

oby said...

Part 3:(the last part I promise)

I have done my best to answer your questions and accusations. Any further conversation between us will not be productive as I don’t think you are actually looking to explore possibilities, debate ideas, but to gripe about the USA. Guess what? I am not the President. I don’t get to make the rules. I can try, by vote, to influence them and I certainly do my best in that regard when I see something that I think is wrong. I don’t know where you are from nor do I want to know as I haven’t let it influence my answers to you (unlike your snide comments to me about being American).

Now perhaps you would like to give a definitive argument about why the world (take the USA out of it entirely) should trust Iran with weapons grade nuclear material and why we should trust them not to build a bomb.After all that was the point of the debate in the first place.

Chiara said...

Just a quick comment to thank you all for the additional perspectives and thoughts on the topic and the discussion. I am glad everyone has remained this civil on what is a "hot" topic (pun intended) and by the nature of the Doha Debate and the motion itself a polarized one.

Unfortunately none of us directly controls our respective governments or their foreign policies so I hope we continue to distinguish respectfully between the commentators here and those greater forces at play.

I will comment more later, and look forward to further comments and views from all in the meantime.

Thanks again for the comments to date.

Usman said...

Three of the five major powers in UN; Russia, France, and China are always less hostile to Iran than their fellow US and UK. UK always has been under the influence of US. It would be a logical conclusion that, had the "US off the equation", the hostility towards Iran's nuclear program would be far less than what it is now. In fact, pretty much same is the case with North Korea. Russia and China have quite developed relation with North Korea. It is only US which considers it "axis of evil".

US is the sole motivator behind the embargo of these two nations. It is this empire which is pushing these nations to the corner.

"Take the US out of the equation" and Israel does not have nuclear weapon. "Take US out of equation" the entire issue of Nuclear Proliferation is out of the table.

People are worried that Iran will start the nuclear race in the region. Somebody inform the hypocrites that Israel has already started this race in ME, thanks to US!

Usman (with editing by Chiara) said...

I am from Pakistan. And I have enjoyed the American "support of democracy" when a dictator in uniform locked down the Judiciary, thrown the judges out on the road and declared himself to be "elected by election" while John Negroponte and Richard Boucher of US state department advocating and fiercely supporting his side. Reason? well, he was a close allied of the war on terror, oh excuse me, "raising the standard of life" for his people. Just like Hosni mubarak is "raising the standard of his people". I am sure Cubans will scratching their heads that why their dictator is not backed by your support. After all literacy rate is close to 100% and free health care makes their standard of life better.

"Take US out of equation"--- I wish if we could do it. The world would be better off!, more peace!. Just take the US out, and there is no armed race in the world at all. Just take the US out and we don't see these two wars that we are seeing now. Only if we could take the US out!

THE HOLY SINNER (with editing by Chiara) said...

I dont want to jump in between Oby and Usman, but Oby, the questions you asked Usman, can you reply for the US? Has the US already not failed all the questions?

US is the only country in the world that used the two nukes used on civilian population. Even though it was clear that the Japanese were going down, we bombed them. The first one being uranium based did the job. But no sir, the second one was needed to see which one is more lethal, uranium or plutonium? One stupid president...one stupid nation. I am ashamed forever for this.

Oh and elections, and free and fair elections remind me of the opening line of Al Gore's movie...The Inconvenient Truth...I USED TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

What a shame for the whole country. The government keeps giving us dozes of democracy and in our own country, the one who should have been the president, was not allowed to be it, and why? Because the judges of the supreme court were hired by George Bush senior?

Chiara said...

Usman and THE HOLY SINNER--I have been holding back from publishing your most recent comments as they contained a combination of substantive points, and some remarks I found too personal.

Since I value you both as regular commentators I found a way to copy them out and edited out the personal bits. I apologize for doing so without getting your permission first, but I assumed you would prefer not to lose the substantive bits too, if I rejected them.

Now that I know how to copy the comment I would email it back to you for you to edit it yourself.

If you prefer, let me know by email and I will delete your comments as published above, or repost them with your approval with your own names only (ie not mine in brackets as editor) and then delete this comment too.

A reminder to all that it is easiest to remain substantive and avoid the personal but sticking to the issues.

Who would have thought nukes would be such a hot topic! LOL :)

Chiara said...

Edit: ...by sticking to the issues

Chiara said...

Please note the Addendum I added in the post, and include it in your considerations for comments.

Looking forward to more perspectives and ideas on this "hot topic"! :)

Solomon2 said...

I just wish Arabs had powerful weapons and were assertive enough to send a clear message to Israel,"If you keep killing Palestinian children, don't think we will just keep watching." I am just bored of seeing my people being treated this way and I wish to see their rights being defended like others.

The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.

H/T: Michael Totten

oby said...

Chiara…

I thank you for your patience with my comments.

For some reason, Usman and to a lesser extent, The Holy Sinner can’t seem to understand my point. I have said that I don’t think anyone should have nuclear weapons and that includes the USA. To a degree I understand where they are coming from (at least I think I do) and to some extent as I said before, I think we have some points of commonality in our thoughts on this. I too feel shame about the Japanese, but I can’t change it and would like very much to avoid as much of that in the future as possible. I have tried my level best to give my opinion on this which is what you asked of us and explain my feelings as clearly and respectfully as I am able. I will not apologize for my answers or change them to suit someone who disagrees with me. I will not apologize for being an American as I am proud to be so. (I am sure that Usman is a proud Pakistani despite his country's flaws.) I don’t think America is all bad despite the fact that I don’t agree with their foreign policy in some ways. I am hoping that we are moving in a new direction in that regard and time will tell if we are.

The fact that you had to edit out personal comments means that they are coming from a place of anger and frustration most likely. I can’t change that and I am not the one to take that anger out on. I have not said anything against them in a derogatory way and have tried to stick to the facts and my opinions.

I keep wondering to myself why they are not angry at the rest of the audience in the Doha debate that voted against it too. There were plenty of people who agreed with me, much of it from the Middle East itself which I think speaks volumes about how Iran's neighbors feel about the situation.

Be that as it may,any continued comments by me is not going to make anything clearer from my side and will only pour fuel on the fire and solve nothing. I feel like we are going around in circles.

Thank you for your continued forbearance and allowing me to contribute to a very important debate. At this point I am going to respectfully bow out and will not engage in the conversation any longer as it is going nowhere. Keep up the good work! You always have such important issues to discuss.

Chiara said...

Solomon2--thank you for your further comment and the link. It makes your point very well. As you might guess, I disagree, but mostly I disagree with the writer's premise that disagreeing with Israeli policy is tantamount to a hidden (whether secretive, subconscious, unconscious, etc) wish to kill Jews. It is unfortunately a skillful way to stop or deflect dialogue that could lead to resolution. The only thing worse, in my opinion, is accusing Jews who disagree with Israeli policy of being self loathing Jews.

Thanks again for your comment and your civil disagreement.

Chiara said...

Oby--Thank you for your always civil and well-thought out comments. The personal bits I deleted were not so bad in the broad scheme of things, but did detract from the substantive points that both Usman and THE HOLY SINNER are able to make, and did.

I just want to make sure that everyone feels they can share their opinion here without having unpleasantness. Perhaps that makes discussion less interesting for some, but I think it makes for more honest dialogue, and I find it usually is the way that my own perspective is the most enriched, whether I agree or disagree.

I thank you for your kind words, and I look forward to your comments on other posts, as I do look forward to those of all regular commentators, occasional ones, and the blurkers! :)

Usman said...

"I keep wondering to myself why they are not angry at the rest of the audience in the Doha debate that voted against it too."

I will not "angry" on any Swiss, Norwegian, Swedes, or any other countrymen whose country does not have nukes and does not have any recent history of going to wars. That said, I see them peaceful and they in general have shown that they are genuine peacemakers.

THE HOLY SINNER said...

Thank you for editing (deleting?) the part which would have shown anger and frustration. Frustration, was never meant to be and is not there, as I am fully aware of what I am talking about and what is happening. Any comment made to sound personal, is completely unwitting and warrants editing. Although here, editing and deleting sound more like that wall and border barrier thing, I am ok with it. Since I do not know Usman, I am not sure about his stance on it.

I will refer my fellow bloggers here to please see if they can get to read a book by George Hananiya. It is about an Arab growing up in the US. But he has his roots in the occupied lands of Palestine. See this war is being made to look like a final frontier between Islam and Judaism, where it is more a problem of arabs and jews, where some of the jews are themselves arabs. In the hatred for arabs, this conflict also engulfs christians and perhaps some others we all might not be aware of. The book also goes to say how the arabs at one time wanted to shift in the jewish areas, simply because jewish areas provided them with better living, in terms of the area and how the jews maintained it.

Now the point I am trying to make is, that given a chance to them, I personally believe, they can co-exist, if we take the clergy out for a while and the US out for a lot of while. I do not see the rabbis fanning the fire taking the brunt of the Palestinian anger and vice versa for the latter. It is the injustice to one race only, it is the blaming and labeling of one side only which is wrong. Calling Hezbollah terrorists, only because they have no voice is wrong. Calling Palestinians terrorists only because you can strangle them any way you want is not right. Only the americans do not have a right to be proud of who they are. How one feels when one fine evening you have a bulldozer razing your house, with little regards to your property and how you have made it in a land where you are strangled economically at the drop of a hat? More importantly, what will someone feel? What will someone feel if you are forced out of your house and another family is shoved in to live off of your belongings? How will you sleep if you ve just lost your bed to a person you were not aware of? How will sleep from here onwards? How will you feel looking from a refugee camp at your house now occupied by a person who was brought in from another part of the world. And then the icing on the cake comes in the form of Sabra and Shatilla massacres. Let us see the free world holding Ariel Sharon responsible and give it the status of a genocided, which it was, just like the US Congress did to the Armenian war. Or will it take another century before the realities dawn upon those who shoud be up and running by now?

Iran, is just another injustice. Governments are indulgin into their politics. We are indulging into hating people for what we are told by our governments.

If US has the right to, or let me say, if one country has the right to have nukes, every country has the right to have them. Americans get worried about Iran using nukes. Are the Iranians not worrying about the constant reminders of a "tactical" strike or "every option on the table" rhetoric? Or is it ok with just one feeling insecure and the whole world should shout at the other?

Simply speaking, the sun shines without prejudice, the garments of the rich and the poor.

Susanne said...

THE HOLY SINNER, during the last couple of years I have been forced to look at my country in a different way. While I've always been a patriotic American who tended to support the troops almost unconditionally (and ignorantly perhaps!),I have had to look at the shameful things my country has done and have come to different conclusions on many of the issues you're addressing.

It truly IS hypocritical of us to excuse ourselves of many of the things we criticize others for doing. It's wrong of us to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups when we refuse to address the reasons these parties have come to power and remain popular among many. It's wrong of us to label Iran and Syria as parts of the "axis of evil," when America and our ally Israel have committed more civilian deaths in the region than Iran and Syria. Really, we've done more evil there than most Americans want to admit. So they stay ignorant. You know the saying, right? "Ignorance is bliss."

I don't really have much of a point to this comment except to let you know that I am trying to understand better and I pray you will realize some of us ARE able to change and are willing to see the bigger picture and other perspectives.

Solomon2 said...

mostly I disagree with the writer's premise that disagreeing with Israeli policy is tantamount to a hidden (whether secretive, subconscious, unconscious, etc) wish to kill Jews.

How is that the author's premise? I don't read that.

It's wrong of us to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups when we refuse to address the reasons these parties have come to power and remain popular among many.

These parties came to power and stay in power and "popularity" by breaking promises, legs, and lives, as in, "Shut up, obey, and smile or else". So why not call them terrorists?

Solomon2 said...

America and our ally Israel have committed more civilian deaths in the region than Iran and Syria.

Can't let this one pass! The historian Bruce Thornton estimated back in 2005 that sixty-plus years of Israel defending itself against chronic existential threats - including enemies who deliberately employ human shields - resulted in about 8000 civilian deaths. That's a bad hair day for Syria's rulers (who wiped out the 20,000+ people of Hama in a week) and a mere bagatelle to the Iranians, who killed at least 3,000 Iranians during their revolution at home, then sent away hundreds of thousands more to die in the Iran-Iraq war that helped secure their power. They care even less for the civilian casualties in their satraps, save as propaganda value.

Susanne said...

Solomon2, I appreciate your comment. Thanks for reminding me of the awful Hama massacre. Well, I don't think Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are made up of saints for sure, but neither can we claim *they* are evil and *we* aren't. That was my point moreso than my facts being entirely accurate. :) I think we all have those inclinations when it suits our purposes. America isn't the bastion of goodness we like to pretend we are sometimes. :)

Chiara said...

THE HOLY SINNER--Yes, the edit I did on your comments was to collapse the 2 into one, and to delete the final sign off on each (a 7 word sentence on one; a 2 word sentence on the other). I also deleted the first 15 words in the opening subordinate clause of the second one for better flow. I trust the essence and the substance of what you wished to communicate were preserved, and that the edits in fact enhanced them, since as you say the deleted words reflected your frustration.

I must confess I am lamentably behind when it comes to acquiring slang terms. I still wince whenever my nephew calls me dude, and have to work hard not to let it show, and take it in the spirit in which it is intended, rather than say something auntilary, like “That would be dudette to you, dude!”. So bear with me. :)

Usman--I deleted the first paragraph of your comment which had a bit of a tone to it, and which made points you had already made better in other comments.

As I stated above I have never edited a comment before, and I usually publish all the comments I receive, except for spam, and 3 comments that I explained on another thread.

I struggled with these 3 comments on this thread because they made many valid points but had a couple of instances of tone that detracted from their purport and risked turning a challenging discussion into a more personal one.

I value you both of you as commentators, and I am pleased you have both continued commenting.

If you have further concerns, either of you, don’t hesitate to contact me by email (the one both of you already have :) ).

Thanks again for your ongoing interest and comments!

Chiara said...

Susanne--thank you for your further contributions to the discussion here. I am always impressed by how willing you are to acknowledge a major shift in your own thinking, proving both your openness and the value of those whose input has helped you to broaden your horizons.

THE HOLY SINNER said...

Susanne, I agree with you totally. You see, my there are only two points I am trying to make here, one is that I hate the game, and jews have been playing it since before the time of the Prophet Sulaiman (Peace be upon him), and are still playing it. And then the second is, I am not opinionated or biased against one or in favour of another. Some of my best friends are hardcore Americans. But the thing is, a few people, like Solomon here, spoil it all for all the rest. It is the hatred for George Bush and Rumsfeld, Netanyahu and Sharon, that enrages all the sane people against them and their countrymen.

Now the inherent problem with truth is that it prevails. It takes time, but it prevails. And it will. Jews know it and are trying to stop it. They wont be able to.
I solidarity girl, till then.

Chiara said...

Solomon2--I read the full article carefully. It begins with the Holocaust, situates Zionism with Hertzl, proceeds through contemporary anti-semitism and anti-zionism; and specifically charges that there would be peace if only the Palestinians would say that Israel can exist in peace, and then goes about setting impossible conditions for the acceptance of their word on that:

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.

It next moves on to the liberal supporter of Israel who turns out to be not so supportive and equally unreliable and misguided.

It concludes with an apologia for any errors may have made as a nation under constant universal threat, and with the Holocaust again, this time unleashed by a nuclear armed Iran.

So...I'm standing by my interpretation. According to the author, if you don't agree with Israel's policies, at some level you want to kill Jews.

Thanks for the opportunity to elaborate!

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