“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary;
the evil it does is permanent.” — Mahatma Gandhi
[ Editor’s Note: Alexander and Hamed are VT contributors from opposite sides of the world, but have a common connection, their Iranian heritage.
The interviewer, journalist Reese Erlich, is making it in a corporate media which has nailed its doors shut to VT as we have been harsh critics over much of what they do, or don’t do. But he has enough independence to do an interview like this, where many would not. Congrats to him.
But we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and to prove it we were happy to share this indepth current events piece from two geographically separated Iranians who have their hearts and minds in the same place. This is definitely a change of pace piece for our VT audience, which is exactly why I wanted to put it up.
You will read a lot below that is “inconsistent”, to say the least, with most of the anti-Iranian propaganda that Americans have been fed for decades. But America’s New Cold War against the Near East and Eurasia has opened the eyes of many as to who the real threat to both East and Western people really is.
Gordon spilled the beans on that when four VT editors were invited to the Syrian Anti-terrorism convention in Damascus last December.
As we were spreading ourselves out to have more coverage at what was going on at the conference, it was purely good luck that I was able to jump out of the translation booth with my video camera when I heard Gordon start to speak. I had not even seen him walk in. A large building column blocked my view.
And what I videoed was heard by a spellbound audience listening to Gordon explain that the marriage between corrupt high-level political powers and international crime was the driving engine behind the huge increase in worldwide terror and destabilization, because huge fortunes were being made by those involved.
VT has been working closely with our Syrian friends to share what we learn about these mega criminal networks that lurk behind the scenes. The crime networks hide behind their numerous political duck blinds so their frontmen absorb the blowback from the networks’ Wars Of Terror that they subject The People to.
The audience had to have an open mind to listen to many of Gordon’s famous briefings on “How the world really works,” which is not pretty.
So I will ask you in turn to listen to our two Iranian friends — one in America and the other in Tehran — to see what you can learn from their perspectives. The old saying, “Know thine enemies” is a well-worn phrase, but this one is not… “Know thy friends”… Jim W. Dean ]
Reese Erlich is a best-selling author and freelance journalist for The Progressive Magazine. He also writes regularly for CBS Radio, Australian Broadcasting Corp., and National Public Radio. He is a special correspondent for GlobalPost. He has won numerous journalism awards including the prestigious Peabody award.
Alexander Azadgan is an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Global Business & International Political Economy as well as a writer/ analyst on various socio-economic and strategic geopolitical issues, especially those pertaining to the Middle East region. He is an American of Iranian heritage and is based in California, USA.
Hamed Ghashghavi is the organizer and Secretary of International Affairs for Tehran’s New Horizon Conference (AKA, International Festival of Independent Thinkers) as well as a columnist and researcher of Western European and North American studies. He is an Iranian citizen and is based in Tehran, Iran.
RE: What is the reaction of the working class ordinary Iranians to the “Lausanne political framework”?
AA & HG: Before we answer this question, let us briefly expand on the cultural context that is so often ignored about Iran:
What Washington hasn’t understood – or at least is coming to a slow, albeit begrudging understanding in these late stages of nuclear negotiations – is the fact that despite decades of Washington’s harsh and inhumane economic sanctions, the working class ordinary Iranians remain a proud, steadfast, independent, and resilient people. 2
And here is another fact that is often intentionally ignored by the western mainstream media: The Iranian people, the Iranian leadership, and the Iranian nation (as in, the Islamic Republic of Iran), are an inseparable trinity.
Are there some frictions within this trinity? Of course there are, just like there are differences of opinion within any system of governance, especially a complex one like Iran’s.
Washington, however, has been foolishly [and vainly] refusing to acknowledge and/ or is constantly trying to create rifts and separate the working class ordinary Iranians from their leadership cadre.
This has been quite apparent in Barrack Obama’s rather bellicose and hostile Norouz (Iranian New Year) video messages in the past several years, during which he attempts to only address the Iranian people and rudely circumvent and/ or diss the Iranian leadership.
Such boorish political communication tactics, especially during what would otherwise be a festive occasion (Norouz), are considered rather insolent and discourteous by the Iranian people.
Having explained this socio-political context, in regard to the Lausanne political framework, Washington has to learn that the working class ordinary Iranians take immense [and irreversible] pride in their natively-attained scientific achievements when it comes to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Allow us to repeat that one more time: peaceful use of nuclear technology!
Again, Western mainstream media constantly [and falsely] tries to inject the phrase “nuclear weapons program” instead of the correct phrase, “peaceful access to nuclear technology”.
This is very much a contrived effort in order to tarnish and smear Iran’s intentions, even though the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has repeatedly verified the peaceful nature of Iran’s program, as no contradictory evidence has ever been discovered. In fact, Iran’s nuclear program has been the most transparent and most scrutinized nuclear program in history!
What is playing a major role for the working class ordinary Iranians is
1) To heroically save their country’s right to this natively-developed peaceful nuclear program and,
2) To diplomatically resolve Iran’s Washington-imposed economic sanctions. The Iranian people stand together [and stand proud] in not submitting to the forceful orders of the imperialist so-called “world powers”, regardless of who these “world powers” may be. Iranians will never succumb to the unfair, irreconcilable, and heavy-handed approaches and strategies of the aforementioned imperial powers, without naming names.
It is precisely this complex histo-socio-psychological sensitivity that some of these so-called “world powers” just don’t seem to want to understand about the Islamic Republic of Iran and this goes back 36 years, not just during the nuclear negotiations.
Even if they did, these so-called “world powers” are more-or-less caught up in an insane cycle of denial and an illegal desire to engage regime change: something they have obviously not learned from their three reckless adventurisms in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc.
Let us make this perfectly clear: The Islamic Republic of Iran has been here for 36 years. The Islamic Republic of Iran is here now. And the Islamic Republic of Iran will be here to for many more years to come! Even before Iran adopted a republic as its form of government, the Iranian (Persian) Empire was around for 3000 years. So Iran cannot and will not be marginalized. Period.
As far as any negotiations or any new political frameworks, the Iranian nation [and its leadership cadre] have time-and-again displayed heroic flexibility. Although some credit the term, “heroic flexibility” to the developments of the past two to three years, it actually goes all the way back to the very beginning of the 1979 Islamic Iranian Revolution.
And yet, some of these so-called “world powers” still fail to adjust their arrogant and punitive behaviors towards the great people of Iran, which by the way has clearly not accomplished anything for them but instead strengthened the resolve of working class ordinary Iranians.
Generally speaking, when its comes to the spiritual and patriotic psyches of Iranians, regardless of where they live or whether or not they believe in the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the working class ordinary Iranians have learned [the hard way] to always resist what is going to be imposed on them.
Much to Washington’s adamant denial, this has been a non-negotiable reality that has been self evident for 36 years – and counting.
This is the impending, honest, and fair question that almost all Iranians [and not just working class ordinary Iranians], not to mention many other nations began asking when these seemingly never-ending nuclear negotiations began taking place several years ago, and that question is this:
“Why do so many of these so-called ‘world powers, who by-the-way have an extremely dark history of 500 years of theft, rape, and murder in the forms of colonialism, imperialism, two world wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, and repeated shamelessly genocidal hegemonies and destructive adventurism just in the past 15 years in the Middle East alone (just to name a few) get to have tens of thousands of nuclear war-heads and bombs, one of which actually used nuclear bombs not once but twice against a defenseless civilian population [in Hiroshima & Nagasaki in August of 1945]?
And yet when it comes to Iran, who actually wants to use nuclear energy in a peaceful manner, this suddenly becomes a redline and an unforbidden territory?
This profound paradox, better put, this despicable and downright outrageous hypocrisy, is simply unacceptable in the minds of millions of Iranians, not to mention billions of other people around the world who have been diligently following these so-called negotiations during the past several years.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the working class ordinary Iranians are asking these very essential and most vital questions which unfortunately seem to have been somehow bypassed 4 and side-stepped in some Western countries due to an intentional [or unintentional] general historical amnesia.
Could it be that these so-called “world powers” do not wish to acknowledge their rather dark and hegemonic pasts and their current repeated and cyclical misbehaviors and instead divert the attention to Iran?
If anything, the Islamic Republic of Iran [and its people] should be thanked for bringing these inconsistencies to the forefront of humanity’s consciousness, or lack-there-of, in order for positive change and political behavior modification to effectively be implemented. But no! Instead we get constant propaganda from Washington and its surrogate mainstream media outlets against Iran.
We have seen these constant demonization tactics in the past 15 years alone as the main psychological tool to prepare the American masses into giving their consent to yet another mindless and unnecessary war. However, as all polls indicate, the American people, for most part, are finally aware and awake. They are not buying Washington’s lies anymore!
It is exactly within this crucial histo-socio-psychological context that the so-called “Lausanne political framework” must be analyzed [and understood] if any meaningful so-called “win-win negotiations” and eventual settlements could actually be accomplished.
Since your question specifically addressed working class ordinary Iranians, it is also noteworthy to mention the following. After the announcement of “The Switzerland Statement on Solutions on Key Parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” was broadcasted throughout the world media at the end of March, a few people came out in the streets of the posh, rich, and affluent North Tehran to express their contentment at the negotiation results.
This small minority of super rich Iranians definitely do not represent the working class ordinary Iranians. They are a very small segment of the overall society and are so blatantly westernized that for most part, they are actually loathed by the overwhelming majority of Tehran’s population, not to mention the average so-called “ordinary Iranian” who lives in small towns, different provinces, and/ or the rural areas.
This very small [and exclusive] part of the Iranian society, which as stated is a minuscule minority, foolishly, erroneously, and naively assumes that by having a deal with the P5+1 and finally entering this so-called ‘’International Club of Nuclear Nations’’, all of Iran’s social, political, and economic problems will be immediately resolved.
The overwhelming majority of this small group of people who came out in the streets of Tehran, while show-casing their outrageously over-priced European and Japanese luxury cars after the announcement of this “Switzerland Statement”, are über-capitalists who are nowhere as affected [by these cruel and inhumane economic sanctions imposed by Washington and her allies] as the average working class ordinary Iranians. 5
As such, this small group of über-rich, super capitalist Iranians actually [albeit erroneously] believe that after making this deal, the Iranian economic and financial situation will be so drastically improved as it has never been before.
The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the other hand, has repeatedly advised and pointed out that the solution to Iran’s economic crisis is not to be blindly subservient to Washington’s unreasonable, hegemonic, and heavy-handed demands, but instead further adapt and implement the long-term policies that have become known as strategic economic resistance.
The Supreme Leader advises that the solution to the problems that have been imposed on Iran cannot only be found in the economic and financial realms.
Even if these problems were to be resolved in the short term, other long term problems such as of what seems like an unrelenting western cultural invasion, better known as westoxification, as well as Washington’s constant military and political intrusions in Middle Eastern internal affairs, among other things would still have to be seriously addressed and resolved.
RE: Can you give us some examples of your own opinion, or people you know, who support or oppose the political framework. Also, can the US government be trusted to carry out an agreement if one is eventually signed at the end of June? Why?
AA & HG: Since the 1953 CIA and MI-6 masterminded coup d’état which overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, Washington has unfortunately managed to create a very negative image of itself in the long term and historical psyche of all Iranian people.
It is imperative to mention that the Iranian people do not [and never had] any problems with the noble American people or the America nation itself. On the contrary, there has always been a deep affection between the two peoples due to their revolutionary spirit to fight against tyranny and oppression.
However, Washington’s continuous hostile behavior and antagonistic policies towards the Iranian nation during the past 36 years and in particular since George Bush’s deeply flawed inclusion of Iran into his now infamous axis of evil speech in 2002, followed by that bellicose administration’s unsound invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and what has followed ever since, these have all contributed hand-in-and in creating an atmosphere of deep mistrust and suspicion.
Unfortunately, this corrosive atmosphere has reached a climax point where the Iranian nation can no longer feel it can afford the risk of trusting the US officials – Democrat or Republican.
One does not have to look too far back. We urge our readers to examine the content of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s press conference from only two years ago (2013) when he reneged on his word on what was agreed upon in one of the negotiation sessions with the Iranian Foreign Minster, Dr. Zarif, and instead pointed to something contrary to what he had agreed on during their meetings.
This deception took place right in front of the world news cameras. One does not have to be a seasoned diplomat to realize such devious tactics are an obvious faux pas, one that may be unrecoverable.
During the last two years of President Rouhani’s administration, the Iranian government has taken every step in every which way possible to built trust, create good faith, and build a new reconciliatory political framework among the two governments, be it in dealing with the crazed ISIS terrorists in Iraq or other common areas of cooperation between Washington and Tehran.
Has the Obama Administration equally reciprocated? No. We believe not, as clearly demonstrated by Washington’s repeatedly threatening postures via the ambiguity of various hostile and un-reconciling factions within the U.S. Congress which for the sake of the argument we shall call, “the party of war” – Democrat or Republican.
Not only do we believe this reciprocation hasn’t happened, but we raise objection to Washington’s repeatedly aggressive tone and total disrespect for the Iranian nation and its various leadership cadre.
Going just a few years back, there was even an incident where Washington refused to issue a visa to Iran’s UN Ambassador! Such blatant disregards and obvious undiplomatic negligence cannot possibly help in building a new political framework, be in in the nuclear field and/ or other complex areas of divergence between the two nations.
How can you trust a negotiating partner who is clearly not willing to change course and/ or adopt a more positive and respectful diplomatic tone?
Unlike some who have [or pretend] to have a short attention span or worst, seem to suffer from a delusional historical amnesia, the Iranian nation, as forgiving as it is, cannot afford to throw caution into the wind and trust a negotiating partner who frequently renegs on its promises and agreements.
Iran cannot [and will not] tolerate repetitive political and cultural offenses and continual insistence on positions which clearly have not even worked for Washington itself.
As such, we believe this type of aggressive and inconsistent behavior makes it increasingly difficult to trust the other side. It is increasingly difficult to trust Washington, as we have seen the recent US factsheet, for example, being clearly inconsistent with The Switzerland Statement.
The U.S. officials released this factsheet two or three hours after their official media statement. Obviously, this was a cheap, premeditative tactic that was put together days or even months in advance. This demonstrates disingenuousness on behalf of Secretary Kerry and his team while pretending to be negotiating for a deal.
Meanwhile, all along, they were privately constructing a “fact sheet” that clearly went contrary to the spirit of what was actually being negotiated, all for the world media consumption and capturing or better put, falsifying the court of public opinion against Iran.
To put it simply: a whole lot of double-talk and intentional failings to act in good faith. As such, Iran finds it increasingly difficult [even intolerable] to negotiate with those who engage in such devious and deceitful tactics which go contrary to the spirit of negotiation principles themselves.
And as for the powerful internal Iranian factions who oppose these types of one-sided nuclear deals and impositions, they are basically in concordance with the Supreme Leader’s rightful suspicions and lack of optimism for the reasons we have listed above.
These factions appropriately believe that Washington’s double-talk in handling Iran’s nuclear issue is rather similar to the so-called “peace talks” or “the peace process” between Israel and Palestine: After 40 years of these so-called talks and diplomacy, there is basically nothing to show for.
No tangible substance whatsoever, in fact quite the opposite: The Israeli-Palestinian dilemma is more dismal than ever, be it in Gaza and/ or the occupied West Bank.
And while we are on the Israel-Palestine issue, let this also be said: It is time for the great American people to wake up and smell the profound exploitation when it comes to their country’s Middle Eastern foreign policy being continuously manipulated by the AIPAC and other corrosive Zionist lobbies in Washington.
We strongly believe America itself needs to be saved from these destructive groups who clearly do not have America or the American people’s best interests at heart, but only own their selfish and long-term gains at the expense of the American people.
Why is the Iranian nation interested in this? Simply one word: Humanitarianism, as in abiding by the much higher moral principle of truth, justice and equity.
Iran strongly believes that peace in the Middle East, in the context of creative, new, multi-faceted, positive political frameworks, will simply not be possible while a racist, illegal, dictatorial, fascist entity [or entities] get to operate freely without any accountability whatsoever, while being funded in the tune of billions of dollars by the hard-working American tax-payer.
The time for political, social, economic, and military siege of an entire nation of people (the oppressed Palestinian people) by stealing, massacring, torturing, imprisoning, physically and psychologically traumatizing, and systematically discriminating against an entire population, especially innocent men, women, and children [for over 66 years] must simply come to an end.
Iran believes that once the chokehold of the Zionist lobby over the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East subsides, there will be an incredible resurrection of hope and an actual possibility for peace and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond.
RE: Describe the impact of sanctions on ordinary people. Also, of the many sanctions imposed by the US and Europe, which hurt the most, for example, banking restrictions, etc.
AA & HG: Let us cover this question with two different examples: In domestic Iranian ballistic missile industry, the imperial powers have consistently imposed severe sanctions. The result: Iran has the 6th strongest missile industry in the world!
On the other hand, Iran has never been sanctioned in its domestic, mass-produced, automobile industry which by the way happens to be the largest in the entire Middle East region. The result: Iran has not advanced nearly as far as it had planned. So what is the moral of these two examples?
Because of the Iranian independent-mindedness, resilience, and ingenuity, whenever it is forced into a situation that pushes it to be creative and independent, Iran thrives! Iran can achieve an unimaginable level of invention and innovation because of its highly educated youth population. But take a look at the North African countries or other consumer-based economies that have the same average age populace:
Their markets have been so over-saturated with Western & East Asian [Chinese, Japanese, South Korean] products and services, to the point that the bond of their strong addictive dependencies [to the West and the Far East] is so strong that the prospect of independent and domestic production has simply vanished and become unfeasible – or so they falsely assume. For Iran, economic autonomy is a central, non-negotiable, strategic issue.
The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that this achieved autonomy is one of the unintended consequences of not just the near-past Western sanctions, but also a long-term reality of almost continuous Western sanctions that stretches all the way to the very beginning the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Albeit very cumbersome from a political, economic, and socio-psychological perspective, it was [and still is] because of the sanctions from the very beginning of the revolution that Iran has developed her natively/ domestically generated scientific, economic, military, academic, and industrial know-how.
Even with all the unprecedented current adversity and hardship that Washington regularly boasts about throwing at Iran, as it also boasts it has never done this to any other nation in modern history, Iran continues to thrive, progress, and advance. To put it simply: This progress will be unstoppable, no matter where the pressure comes from! Washington cannot break the will of the Iranian people.
When a nation like Iran has firmly decides in coming up with an independent and fresh socio-economic paradigm that goes contrary to the currently decaying and corrupt global financial model, then rest assured that Iran has also anticipated the difficulties and achieved the resistance capacity to deal with these associated hardships that are being unfairly and immorally imposed on Iran.
But Iran will continue to resist until it achieves its goals which are based on a much higher moral high ground than the current global model.
On the same token, we cannot ignore the sanctions and their designated cruel and punitive impact on what you have called, “the working class ordinary Iranians”, which by the way, is a contradiction in terms, since the Iranians have proven time-after-time to be an extraordinary people, and not at all an ordinary bunch unlike some other nations.
To specifically address your question, these unfair and unjust sanctions, for example, have taken a medical toll on the Iranian people who are sick and/ or dying from rare or special illnesses.
However, the domestic pharmaceutical and medical industries have been relentless in their efforts in coming up with home-grown solutions and scientific advancements. This has been a continuing reality in the past 36 years, ever since the victory of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Nevertheless, the situation is very difficult and frustrating.
It is evident to everyone that Washington’s sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran and its people have always been concentrated on targeting two strategic central industries: 1) The Iranian oil industry, and 2) The Iranian banking system.
Clearly, these sanctions have drastically and negatively impacted money transfers and various other multi-national financial transactions between Iran and the rest of the world’s financial sectors. But Iran remains steadfast and continues to look for alternative solutions.
RE: Will an agreement on the nuclear issue impact US-Iran relations in Iraq, Syria, and/or Yemen?
AA & HG: If Washington actually manages to change its hegemonic nature which in-and-out of itself is a Herculean task, one that requires the type of heroic flexibility that Iran has been practicing, then the answer could be optimistic when it comes to cooperating in other areas.
But up to now, what the international community has witnessed, time-after-time, is Washington making one wrong decision after another which has caused unprecedented destabilization in the region.
This has directly resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent lives whether that be in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, just to name a few!
In addition, and contrary to Washington’s constant projection of this label on Iran during the past 36 years, Washington is [and has been for six decades] the biggest state sponsor of terror, not just in the Middle East region but throughout the world!
Washington supports the most vile, barbaric, dictatorial, backward-minded, misogynist, corrupt, and unpopular monarchies, especially in the Middle East region, politically, economically, socially, and militarily.These loathed monarchs continually and brutally oppress their own populations.
Yet on the same token, Washington actually has the audacity [and continually reserves the right] to preach and use as pretext such consecrated terminology as freedom, democracy, and human rights. This hypocrisy could not be any more obvious, not to mention vile and stomach turning!
As an ancient nation that has historically served as one of the main cradles of human civilization, the benevolent global vision that the Iranian nation has in mind is in stark contrast to what Washington has been implementing, especially since the end of World War II.
The Islamic Republic of Iran believes each nation must lead its own manifest destiny, as designated by The Divine Providence, without the constant meddling in the internal affairs of others under the hypocritical disguise of time-honored core values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights.
The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly believes that once Washington adequately develops the willpower to make brave and genuine changes in its behavior and actually modifies its deeply flawed foreign policy, especially those that pertain to the Middle East, the waves of the collective positive change that has been in motion for decades will be inevitable to turn back. Iran is convinced of this, and along with other non-aligned nations, is on the right side of history!
The Iranian nation has been, is, and will continue to directly and positively respond to these constructive alterations in Washington’s behavior.
But until then, Iran will remain steadfast and loyal to its time-honored core values and deep and long cherished principles of truth, justice, and equity without hesitation. The ball is clearly in Washington’s court. The ball has been in Washington’s court for a long time. This window of opportunity [for both nations] will not last forever.