Sunday, August 24, 2008

Protest the RNC?

Some people have emailed me expressing an interest in going up to St. Paul for the large anti-war rally outside of the RNC on Labor Day.  For anyone interested, there is a group of students are planning on going up,  who you can contact here .  

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The sadness of John McCain

Remember how John McCain was so brave because he stood up to Bush on the issue of torture? Well, all of that is no more, as McCain has now voted against a bill that would ban waterboarding.

It's easy to point out, as many have, that this demonstrates that McCain isn't really the straight talker that the media portrays him as. Of course, this isn't really news as he's already caved on things like lobbyist influence and religious fundamentalism in order to try to impress the conservative base before the election. But rather than gleefully pointing out McCain's inconsistencies, I think this particular action is best described as a profoundly sad event. McCain is someone who has been tortured, who knows what if feels like, and who has stated publicly that it doesn't work and that other methods are more effective at getting information. Yet, in order to get to the White House, he has now sold his last shred of human dignity to pander to the bloodlust of the far right. I often believe, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, that politicians retain at least some core principles even while they play the dirty game. Events like this do not help this belief.

Also, considering the bazillions of hours of press McCain got for criticizing torture in the past, it would be nice if the mainstream media would actually cover his shift in position.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"The Sound of Democrats' Silence on Civil Liberties"

I'm posting the link to an article written by Jeanine Molloff, educator in the St. Louis Public School system. She discusses the Gonzales/torture protest as well as other shocking bills making their way through Congress now that will seek to criminalize dissension. For those who think Democrats are the key to change in this country, or others who support Democrats as the lesser-of-two-evils, you might find this article especially poignant. Take heed.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Only in Iran?

I think this bears repeating over and over. The media continues to regurgitate the claim that certain IEDs could only have been made in Iran. Yet, there were stories last year that describe how U.S. troops stumbled across a factory in Iraq that made these same IEDs. No attempt at reconciling the "Iran-only" story with this fact is ever given in subsequent stories. Atrios's post cites a Boston Globe story, and from here you can find stories in the NYT, the Wall Street Journal, and the LA Times that all allude to this idea (subscription required in all cases, unfortunately).

Though I'm tempted to make a stronger claim, I guess all I can legitimately say is that no evidence has been provided that demonstrates that the IEDs were made in Iran. But, of course, all we could say before the war was that there was no evidence provided that Iraq had WMDs. Shouldn't our media, especially after that debacle, require that the administration actually provides some evidence for its claims?

My own hunch is that most of the stories coming from the U.S. military are carefully controlled, but in the excitement of trumpeting the 'success' of the occupation, they accidentally let a story through that contradicted their claims that the IEDs could not possibly be made by Iraqis.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Windows on Iran--45 (Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz)

Dear All!

Greetings! I am back to wish you all a wonderful 2008 -- and to open another window on Iran.

I hope you have had a peaceful holiday. In the spirit of celebration, let's open this window with festive images of light and color. The young Iranian photographer Hoda Alavi uses urban landscape as her canvas and paints with light. Let's visit her latest photo exhibit. Click on the first attachment, then on view, and then on *slide show.

Article on Iranian Women

* While on the subject of women, I have a very interesting article for you from the Guardian (Jan. 9) courtesy of Amir Companieh.
*The essay encourages readers to forget about stereotypes and look instead at the reality of women's vibrant and organized activism in Iran.,,2237579,00.html

* Still on the subject of women, take a look at images of Iranian women chess players competing for the national championship. Chess is an extremely popular hobby in Iran:

Recommended Reading:

* Over the holidays, I read an excellent book which I recommend to anyone interested in better understanding the complexities of the strategic games played by various regional and outside forces in relation to Iran and its neighboring countries. Authored by Trita Parsi and published by Yale University Press, the book is called Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.

*The Persian Gulf Incident*

* Trita's book is, in fact, a great tool for helping us understand that many a piece of shocking news about the region has to be placed in its full strategic context to be understood better.

* A perfect example of that is the recent news of the "aggressive maneuvers" by Iranian boats near American warships in the Persian Gulf. The incident, which many of you have been asking about, seemed totally baffling. Why would Iran provoke the massive American military machine sitting on three of its borders?

* According to an article sent to me by Daniel Pourkesali "The list of those who are less than fully confident in Pentagon’s video/audio mash up of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself." You can read the full article at this link: Daniel also distributed a video supplied by the Iranian Navy which suggests that the incident was a simple and routine exchange in the Gulf:

* Today's Washington Post, contains an article that supports Dr. Pourkesali's view suggesting "Iranian Boats May Not Have Made Radio Threat, Pentagon Says," check it out:

* Matt Miller, watching the world from Cairo where he is studying Arabic this semester, has sent another related piece by the historian and national security policy analyst, *Gareth Porter*
who further supports the view that the initial report on the Iranian "aggressive" behavior has been unfounded. Thanks Matt!

There we are! Another misinformation about Iran...and a scary one.

Iran Opens a Peace Museum

* Iran will open a peace museum to promote sentiments for peace in a culture that still remembers the pain of an 8-year war that started with Saddam's aggression and led to his use of chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and Iranians. The museum which will soon open in Tehran City Park has the sculpture of a white dove at its entrance. While attributing imaginary violence to the culture is common, Christian Science Monitor's exceptional attention to this museum is commendable. Not surprisingly, the tone of the article suggests that the museum is something of an aberration in a culture that "glorifies martyrdom." It would be fantastic if the author of the article Scott Peterson would have the opportunity to take a trip to Iran. You can read the article on the Peace Museum in Iran at:

A Concert of Sufi Music in Tehran

* Iranians love live music. When master musicians perform, it is common to line up outside the concert hall from the night before the box office opens to make sure you can obtain tickets. I would like to close this window with a ten minute clip from a Sufi music performance at Vahdat Hall, a major concert hall in Tehran. The concert was sent to me by a dear friend, Nakhostin Javidani:

Until our next window, 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