Greetings! I am back in St. Louis now getting ready for the academic year. I hope you are enjoying what is left of the summer. If you have written recently, do please give me a few days to reply. I am getting back into the swing of things and have tackled the piled-up mail and e-mail only recently.
It is good to be back and to send you one of the regular large windows, Window on Iran – 35. So, let’s get started without much ado:
The Best in the World
Iranian Americans of all backgrounds and political persuasions take a
lot of pride in educational achievements in Iran. The latest clip of
film (one minute) circulating in the community quotes the chair of the
department of electrical engineering at Stanford as describing the
department of electrical engineering in Sharif University in Tehran to
be the best in the world! http://youtube.com/watch?v=s957W6jomBc
Iran’s Role in Afghanistan
In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, President Hamid Karzai of
Afghanistan, in a feat of courage unprecedented for US-supported local
leaders, contradicted the US claims that Iranian arms were helping to
erode the security situation in Afghanistan. He described Iran as “a
helper and a solution:”
“Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that
we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics
in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in the interview conducted Saturday. He
went on to say that Afghanistan and Iran had “very, very good, very,
very close relations. … We will continue to have good relations with
Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.”
Here is a brief commentary: If you have wondered why President Karzai
should be so ungrateful as to make such embarrassing comments about
his American friends, the simple explanation is that he is the one who
has to face the Taliban and the al-Qa’ideh on the ground. He knows who
in the region will come to his help. Furthermore, Iran rushes to
Karzai’s help in facing these extremist groups because they are its
sworn enemies as well. If that is not enough, they infest the region
with their narcotic trade. Iran loses about 300 soldiers annually
preventing drug dealers from crossing into the country. Finally,
instability in Afghanistan is not good for Iran which has ethnic
populations close to the border, and which would love to see economic
ties (rather than ethnic uprisings) on the two sides of the border.
All right, call this one the happy window! I have more good news:
Americans Wage Peace on Iran
* It is unfortunate that we hear a lot more about war-mongers than those
who wage peace. The truth is a large number of peace loving Americans
are devoting their time and life precisely to that, chief among them
CodePink. When Leslie Angeline of CodePink started her fast to get the
attention of Senator Lieberman who had promoted a war with Iran,
little did she know that she would be unleashing a new campaign to
stop the next war now. But that’s precisely what has happened. Click
on the link below to read about CodePink’s Cities for Peace in Iran:
* Also, the Virginia Anti-War (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender Newspaper
organized a People’s Peace Delegation to Iran in response to a
suggestion by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention
in Iran (CASMII). The five member delegation traveled over 1,750
kilometers during its 12 day trip in Iran and returned to the U.S. on
July 31. Here it is a picture and more details:
The Nuclear Issue — a correction and some comments
* A dear friend who shared window 32 with his friends has brought a
couple of queries to my attention. Since they pertain to the nuclear
issue, I thought of sharing them – and my responses – with you. In
that window, I contrasted the U.S. and three other countries
(Pakistan, Israel and India) with Iran in that they have not become
members of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). The critic pointed out
that this is partially incorrect, the U.S. is a signatory to the
treaty. S/he is right. This is a mistake on my part, and it must have
occurred because of the abundance of discussions on the ways in which
the U.S. is in breech of that treaty. Here is the latest example of
that from N.Y. Times:
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is officially a signatory
of the NPT. I’d like to correct the mistake.
* The same reader asks if we can be certain that the Iranians do not
have a weapon’s program. My answer is that our only means of gaining
that certainty is to ask countries to become members of the NPT and
stay open to surprise inspection. Iran has done that and no evidence
has been found. If our reaction to that is going to be “You have done
what is required but we still do not believe you because you are
Iran,” we are proposing to dismantle international organizations and
regulations and act on instinct. Others will do the same and the
result will be chaos. The way out is to examine uncertain situations
and to think of additional ways to get guarantees. This can be
achieved by staying at the negotiation table. Iran is still offering
to do this. Their only condition is “no pre-conditions.” The Iranian
chief negotiator Ali Larijani has said repeatedly that even enrichment
is open to negotiation.
* Third, I had said that “Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in
the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian
casualties.” The reader asks if this is not something that the Iranian
government should worry about? The problems with this view, in my
1. these facilites were built over the years (some of them encouraged
by the U.S. government).
2. they were not built by one Iranian government and not during a time
of military tension. In other words, they cannot all be viewed as
President Ahmadinejad’s way of shielding weapons behind people.
* Even if we make that assumption, to say that it is all right to
endanger millions of Iranian lives because their government has used
them as shields would amount to accepting genocide (in the hope of
preventing a future genocide for which we do not have any evidence
besides our mistrust of the other side).
* I draw the attention of this reader to the fact that in many places in
the world, people have a different perception of Iran. Examples? Take
another look at what the President of Iran’s troubled neighboring
country, Afghanistan, has had to say yesterday.
* Before we leave this subject, I would like to clarify and reiterate
the points that I made in window 32 concerning Iran’s nuclear
1. Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in
the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and
stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out).
2. Iran is a signatory to the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) which means
its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why
El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened.
Please note that there are countries such as Pakistan, Israel, and
India which have not agreed to become members of NPT.
3. Surprise inspections have not yielded any evidence of a nuclear
weapon’s program in Iran to date.
4. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of
suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything
(including suspension of enrichment).
5. Iranian nuclear facilities – which were built over a period of time
starting before the 1979 revolution – are spread out in the country.
It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.
Continued Military Threat Against Iran
* The Cheney camp pushes for war with Iran. Once more, the Iranian
government’s offer of its willingness to hold a higher level dialogue
with the American government gets rejected:
* More on the defense authorization bill that mentions Iran:
Iranian Women in Sports — American women athletes in Iran!
Believe it or not, as you read this window, the American women’s softball team is in Iran preparing for a competition with Iranian women softball players. Shirzanan, the Iranian women’s sports weekly which reported the news provided no pictures (unfortunately). I have another sports picture for you, though. Click on the link below and, even if you don’t read Persian, scroll down for images of Iranian women volleyball players: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article375
I won’t give you a painting show this time either. This window has simply grown too large. Instead I’ll attach a slide show of Tehran that a dear friend has forwarded. It is different from all the previous shows in that it combines some really old and some very recent pictures of Tehran. The combination is quite fascinating. Just click here: Tehran, A Modern Metropolis.
Have a great week!
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399