Tag Archives: middle-east

They’ve learned nothing. The media cheers Trump’s “decisiveness” on “beautiful” missile strikes.

Launching a few missiles is all it took. Now, much of the American media is rooting for the “shock and awe” show they most love to cover.

Example A: Brian Williams, gushing about “beautiful pictures” of missiles being launched from ships, obliviously quoting Leonard Cohen on “the beauty of our weapons”:

In his speech announcing the airstrikes, Trump said he was prompted to act by the sight of of “beautiful babies” killed in the attack. He said “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Example B: The New York Times wrote an article:

On Syria Attack, Trump’s Heart Came First

On Thursday, an emotional President Trump took the greatest risk of his young presidency, ordering a retaliatory missile strike on Syria for its latest chemical weapons attack.

The Times changed the headline eventually.

They must be suffering from amnesia, because the article doesn’t mention any of the dozens of “beautiful babies” who died in bombings or raids over the past month in Idlib, Raqqa, Mosul and Yemen. Bombings facilitated by Trump’s decision to loosen the Obama administration’s rules meant to reduce civilian casualties. Among those killed by our bombs was there no “child of “god” who suffered? Why didn’t Trump ever find a podium to speak of their suffering? He wouldn’t even have to launch missiles to ensure that doesn’t happen again, he can just sign an executive order strengthening US rules. Today again, there are early reports of a US airstrike killing 15 civilians, including 4 children.

Example C: Fareed Zakaria has decided launching missiles and weeping crocodile tears makes Trump finally seem Presidential.

I understand why Republicans who opposed any military action against Syria during Obama’s presidency are suddenly very supportive of airstrikes to bolster up Trump’s approval ratings. What excuse does the media have?

On Fox and Friends they were talking about how “cool” it was that Trump ordered missile strikes over “creme brulee” with the Chinese “politburo” at Mar-A-Lago.

The financial networks noticed this:

I guess the infrastructure stimulus plan won’t involve modernizing our infrastructure. The plan is to stimulate our economy by bombing someone else’s infrastructure to smithereens. It’s good for Trump too, he likely still owns Raytheon stock.

“Liberal” MSNBC wasn’t immune:

Know who else is cheering the bombing? Our “allies” in the region:

— Cross-posted at DailyKos | @subirgrewal

Surveillance in Iran

The WSJ reported today on the surveillance infrastructure Iran has deployed over the last year and it explains why Iranians have been complaining about the speed of Internet access. It seems likely that the regime is monitoring (quite comprehensively) the activities of all Iranians. Since the internal network is controlled by the regime, it may be possible for them to identify protesters who are posting information online. This makes it extremely important that the protesters are successful in having the election re-run. If the current administration stays in place, they will most likely resort to a bloody purge, similar to ones in 1989 and 1999, killing another generation of reformist leaders. Ayatollah Montazeri’s fear that “People in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people” will be realized in horrific fashion.

Meanwhile, the Guardian Council admitted that up to 3 million votes cast may be questionable, at the same time they claim this could not have affected the outcome (it’s 9% of the vote). It seems to me that the Guardian Council (all of whom are directly or indirectly appointed by Khamenei) are trying to reduce the appearance of lying through their teeth, but still trying to avoid another election. NYT’s The Lede blog has an analysis of the vote from a more disinterested organization.

Of course, the story of the day is a video of a young woman being shot in a melee. The videos are online, I’m not going to link to them, some news outlets are identifying her as Neda Soltan. A number of people as young as her have been killed, most likely by security forces using deadly force against largely peaceful protesters as a means of intimidation. Roger Cohen writes in today’s NYT about why these killings are a bad idea for the regime, given the importance of martyrdom in Shia history.

Montazeri

I’ve been following the Iranian election and ensuing protests with immense interest over the past few days. Through it all, I’ve been wondering what has been going on in Qom, amongst the clerics who wield immense authority. As I dug around, one name stood out was that of Ayatollah Montazeri, who made a statement earlier in the week that he considered the election results highly questionable.

I knew next to nothing about him, but a little bit of digging around suggests Montazeri is among the more intriguing clerics in Iran, and may be more liberal than I personally would have expected an Iranian ayatollah to be. Reading about him has forced me to acknowledge that I prejudged some of the participants. What has also struck me as I’ve read more about the clerical system in Iran is its discursive aspect, and how much authority Montazeri appears to have, apparently only because of his ideas. He has been at odds with the regime for years, but it seems to me that questions about his religious authority just wither away, and he remains resilient. There is a must-read article from the new York Times in 1989.

I’ve always felt that Iran was special in the Middle Eastern context because of the age, strength, beauty and resilience of its culture. I now think my feelings have been more right than I thought.

Ayatollah Montazeri was Khomenei’s designated successor till he was forced to resign in 1989. After his release from house arrest in 2003, he was quite outspoken about the injustice of a repressive regime. From all accounts he is a highly respected cleric, committed to change from within. I particularly liked this quote, he advised his listeners as “brothers and sisters to seek knowledge and don’t chant slogans about it.”

His political thinking has evolved over time, there is a remarkable BBC interview with various clerics where he spoke of how the execution of a 13 year-old girl was the catalyst for his split from the more hard-line elements. Particularly striking is his early criticism of the harsh treatment and arbitrary executions of critics. The current uproar may have made for strange bedfellows, since Montazeri seems to have come into conflict with Rafsanjani in 1987 over the Iran-Contra affair. In each episode I’ve read about, it seems Montazeri has been on the side of reflection and thoughtful action, and his opponents in the regime have been focused on creating and retaining power. He’s been a thorn in the side of the regime for a while, and they have gone so far as to make veiled accusations of treason against him in 1997. He has survived earlier, dramatic purges, and in 2007 he went so far as to question the confrontational manner in which the regime was pursuing its nuclear ambitions. I think the wikipedia article on him is required reading.