Iran from the Cheap Seats

Iran from the Cheap Seats

When it comes to the situation in Iran all I can do is offer my view from the cheap seats. I am no Middle Eastern scholar. I find the history of America’s relationship with Iran so disheartening that reading about it just makes me feel angry at the country I love. We meddled, we meddled a lot, and not for any altruistic reasons either. We created a theocracy stoked by passionate religious patriotism, at least that is the consensus of Middle Eastern experts. Trying to place leaders in power who were friendly to the US backfired, those in the know say. Well, power and money have been the motivations for plenty of the activities in the modern world and we are not alone in having impure motives. But when strategies don’t work it makes no sense to resort to the same strategies over and over again. Is the world a more belligerent place because of America? I don’t know. Other nations besides America seem pretty belligerent also.

The Iraq war waged by the Bush II administration certainly did open up the animosities in the Middle East and expose them to the light of day. Words like Sunni and Shite and Wahhabism now are familiar words that we toss around in conversation, although we possibly do not have a deep understanding of the entire schema of ideas these words represent. After all this is not a religious tradition most of us are literate in. It seems difficult to comprehend how two branches of a single religion can be at loggerheads, until you think about the history of Catholicism and Protestantism, a religious split in Christianity which was often fraught with tensions or downright hostility and war.

So my cheap seats view does not go back very far, it mostly considers recent events. Clearly Iran’s behavior has been provocative. It has even gone a bit beyond rattling sabers. Perhaps the Iranian government does not respect America under Trump, and he has given the world precious little reason to respect us. We are accepting his imperial take on the Presidency and allowing him to sever relations with allies. We seem unable to exercise any control over his behavior at all. The Republicans are willing to sacrifice the power of their beloved Senate to this President for reasons that are suspiciously seditious. So Iran is venturing forth with more daring tactics as opposed to staying home and taunting from afar. They are making themselves at home in the chaotic Middle East and in Middle Eastern countries too small to put up a fight. This brings the US and Russia in to throw weight around on one side or the other. Iran starts appropriating ships that are transiting the Straits of Hormuz, a tactic they have used before, but still, waving a red flag in front of bulls.

This is all very worrisome. The Middle East is a tinderbox right now. Into this wanders a wooden match. Into this wanders a President who is already so angry he is about to explode. He has been impeached, and although it is just a flea to him that he can swat away, it has raised his ire. He wants to be loved unconditionally and this is not unconditional love. Iran whips up an attack on the American embassy in Baghdad. The final straw has been added to a giant pile of tinder. This could be Trump’s Benghazi if he doesn’t do something. Personal anger becomes public anger displaced and deployed against a country that is deliberately pushing boundaries and buttons. Trump is offered a variety of responses, but he decides to “release the Kraken,” he pours out all his stored up anger and choses the response that is most extreme. Now that his anger has been temporarily defused he is purring like a kitten. That will not last. This presidency could be the death of America in more ways than one. Live your life, and watch the fates rage, and hope that something as civilized as an election will get us out of this mess.

Photo Credit – From a Google Image Search –

Thanks to James Dorsey and Captain Patch for their historical perspectives on Iran and America.

Iran Nuclear Deal

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When we hear people say that either we do the Iran
deal or we go to war we also hear other people saying that these are not the
only two choices. I think that the people who say deal or war say that because
Iran is so close to having a nuclear bomb without this agreement that if we
want to stop Iran without the Iran deal the only way to do that will be to
attack and distract. It may be Israel that makes the first strike, or perhaps
it will be Israel and the US. Given Iran’s proximity to Israel and Netanyahu’s
rhetoric, war may be inevitable without this deal, however flawed it may be.

Accepting the Iran deal falls in the category of “no
brainer” as far as I can see, even with the new information released today
about a key inspection that Iran will be allowed to conduct. If sanctions are
going away (at least the other partners to the negotiations say that will
happen) then we are better off with the deal than without it. If Iran is
playing “bait and switch” we will soon find out and then all bets will be off
anyways. Then we will say, “recalibrating.”

[I can forgive Chuck Schumer, one of the Senators
from my state (and next in line to lead the Dems in the Senate) because
although his heart belongs to us it also belongs to Israel. There are probably
enough favorable votes that he can afford to abstain from appearing to favor an
enemy of Israel. I won’t hold a ‘no’ vote on this matter against him.]

Again, if this is not an acceptable deal, one that
postpones the development of a ‘nuke’ in Iran, we will know that soon enough.
It is the only move that promises to take the threat of a nuclear bomb in a
volatile corner of the world and move it at least a decade into the future.
By Nancy Brisson

47 Ronin Loose in America

Everyone is shocked by the letter that 47 Republican
Senators sent to Iran and it was a truly outrageous act. It was not bad just
because it broke with protocol but it also went against our Constitution and,
according to the Logan Act, this action may be punishable by fines or jail
time. This letter to Iran also revealed what until now have been internal American
political schisms and took them global.
The GOP is a party that is frightened by everything.
They believe immigrants will overrun America. “Give them an inch and they’ll
take a mile”, is their unspoken mantra.
They believe that terrorists are planning to flood
across our southern borders.
They believe that the Federal government is out of
control and needs to be much, much smaller which means good-bye to programs
that help poor moms have healthy babies, good-bye to programs that make sure
poor families can feed their children, good-bye to programs that take care of
people with mental disorders or physical disabilities and good riddance to
programs that keep the elderly from poverty. Good-bye public pensions, good-bye
unions; we don’t need public employees. Their fear here (they claim) is that
they are creating citizens with permanent dependencies.
The UN plan to help us save energy and stop sending
too much CO2 into our atmosphere, Agenda 21, makes them crazy
because it offers steps that would be “imposed” by an agency outside our
government. To the GOP this plan reeks of communism or socialism or all of the
bad “isms” rolled into one. It is obviously a plot to allow the UN to end our
They are so afraid of climate change and the steps
they would have to take to ameliorate it that they cannot even admit it exists.
They believe their immortal souls will burn in Hell
unless American becomes a Christian nation and stops sinning.
They are certain that one or more of the secretive,
hostile nations around the world will make or have already made nuclear weapons
(which is highly likely because once a technology enters the world it always
proliferates) and that we will either have to fight a nuclear war or become
subjects of a totalitarian regime that will turn us all into slaves or kill us.
It is true that we all fear these things to some
extent. The future seems a bit more unsettling than it did in the Jetsons. Obviously any or all of these
things could happen, although some are more likely than others. The world seems
to be chaotic and to be possibly teetering on the edge of several equally scary
abysses. We seem to have lost a stability and certainty that we have always possessed
until now. Perhaps this is just what it feels like to live in a pivotal age.
But one wonders (well I wonder) if all these fears
are as strong as professed or if there could possibly be a bit of theater at
work here designed to provide a rationale (however bogus) for obstruction. If
these Republicans are truly as freaked out by real change in the world then
they are definitely not the folks to help us pick our way through the chaos to
more settled times.
I have been arguing for some time that there are Republicans
bent on sedition; on a sort of “Jesus take the Wheel” tear with the GOP
providing the “hands” for Jesus. They have been putting in place a plan that will
give the GOP control of all three branches of the Federal government in the
same way they have taken over in a number of states.
I wonder why the Democrats and the media seem so
clueless. Even now Hillary Clinton gets more flak about her email than those 47
Republicans get for breaking an act of Congress. Either we’re like those dogs
who forget what they are doing every time someone yells “squirrel” or Democrats
and the media are trying to avoid a crisis in America by down-playing
Republican activities so that our government comes out of this strife intact.
If Democrats act like what is happening is just a
touch more serious than things that have happened at other moments in history
then we can avoid a breach that cannot be healed. Their explanations do soothe
what is possibly my paranoia for a bit but this all just seems a little more
concentrated, organized and extreme than previous party hostilities. It does
seem odd to me that the rather serious lapse in constitutionality by these 47
Senators will die down quite quickly and that there will be no repercussions.

Those 47 ronin who abandoned their samurai lords in
Japan had better reasons for their outlaw behavior and yet they were hunted
down and had to fight for their lives. They may have found a new incarnation in
Japan as “superheroes” but I don’t think that will be the case with our 47 “ronin”.
I don’t expect our 47 outlaws to commit seppuku but somehow head/s should roll.
I think that, given there are so few pushbacks, these “outlaws” will probably
find new ways to pursue their program of obstruction.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

Why Does Iran Act Like a “Hater”?

Iran is now providing us with the newest “Fear Factor” episode in the daily parade of aggressive world leaders who hate America and want to inflict pain on America. Iran wants nukes. We are not sure why Iran wants nukes, but we are sure that letting an aggressive nation who hates America develop nukes is probably not a good idea. (I am not even including Iran’s dysfunctional relationship with Israel in this discussion.)
Iran says they want nukes to use for peaceful purposes. They want to provide energy to the people of Iran. This is a laudable goal. Why would anyone need to be secretive about it? I can see that it might provoke anger when the world will not believe what you say, when they want to enter your country and poke around to see if you are being truthful.
But why are your borders closed in the first place? What are you doing in there that the world is not welcome to see? I know the culture of the 21st century can be invasive, as we are seeing in other Arab nations. I am guessing that you are trying to keep out these cultural influences so Iran can remain Iran. But in trying to hold off the world and stop progress Iran seems to us to be keeping its citizens in the prison of a time warp. It seems to us impossible, controlling, and artificial to hold the world out forever.
Is Iran like the “small dog” who barks a lot because s/he feels threatened or is Iran imperialistic? Does the nation want to be “top dog” and rule the world? This is what we worry about. We are not sure, based on the hostile rhetoric we hear, about what Iran’s true goals are. This is why we worry that Iran is developing nukes as weapons and not just for peaceful purposes.
Iranian leaders project hate, they project paranoia, and they project a chauvinism that often leads nations to attack other nations. They keep defying the world and taking it to the edge of war, as in their current threats to close the Straits of Hormuz. It may just be the protective stance of a beleaguered nation, or it may be a set-up to hostilities that involve more than an exchange of hateful words and threats. We want to like you Iran, but as things stand, we cannot know if your bite is worse than your bark.
The sad thing is that it is difficult to imagine any Iran scenario that does not eventually involve armed conflict. I hope we find another way to relate to Iran. Of course, we cannot really exclude Israel from any discussion about Iran because Israel is our BFF and Iran refuses to even admit their existence. Any solution that involves only Iranian-American relations is unacceptable. Any solution that involves Iranian-American-Israeli relations seems impossible. So far we have not come up with any ways to turn Iran from a “hater” into a friend.