Friday, December 21, 2007

Iran Again?

Because of the awful job the mainstream American Media does in portraying events that unfold in the world, many noteworthy news items are quickly overshadowed by useless information containing superficial material such as celebrity gossip. Even when the Media does feel responsible in covering important stories, they are so biased in the subjective analysis that those critical items are easily marginalized. We rarely have the pleasure of receiving objective information because as soon as the information filters down to the mainstream media, it is picked apart, over-analyzed and sucked of any importance by TV analysts, both on the political left and right. Those of us who've grown distasteful of such subjective bias have either become completely apolitical and apathetic, choosing to dissociate ourselves from politics all together, or forced to actively search for unfiltered and objective news on the internet. Sometimes, both of these forces come into play in determining how we interact with the outside world. As the world has become closely linked, and globalization a fact of life, news that happens on the opposite side of the world can have a serious impact on our way of life. When many politically unstable countries possess nuclear weapons (Looking at you Pakistan and Israel), any minor error in judgment can lead to a nuclear outcome. Choosing to close our eyes, ears, and mouth, remaining ignorant to global developments can have disastrous consequences. We can't grow accustomed to being spoon fed information that has been completely removed of impact and importance.

Having already written about Iran in at least 3 or 4 other blogs, recent key developments must be addressed. Thanks to the media coverage we have received, to those who obtain their news from the mainstream media, Iran appears to be this evil entity hell bent on destroying our way of life. We choose to forget that our actions towards Iran have never been completely benevolent. In fact, Iran's current non-secular Islamic Extremism is a product of the CIA's plot to overthrow their democratically elected leader, and installing in his place a corrupt dictatorship run by the Shah. The reason for this was an attempt at exploiting Iran's resources, especially the oil, and as the people grew weary of an inept government, they rose up and thus, the Islamic Revolution in Iran was born. As mentioned before, the US government has a track record of interfering and vilifying those countries that have the self respect to control their own resources. Venezuela for example is a recent player in global politics, mainly because as our dependence on oil has grown (thanks to an auto industry that for years has lobbied for continued production of gas guzzling fuel exploiting mini tanks called SUVs), we have become inadvertent financial supporters of their economies. For those sovereign nations that have allowed exploitation like Saudi Arabia, we have turned a blind eye to their globally dangerous behavior, while attacking those regimes that are a threat to our oil industry. Enter Venezuela, Iran and Russia. We demonize their political mistakes and constantly criticize and berate their leaders, when in effect, most people in those democratically elected countries support them. Having elected Bush, American's can't exactly feel any superiority to the general population of those countries in the negative spotlight.

Continuing with recent Iranian developments, the National Intelligence Estimate has just established that Iran stopped the development program for Nuclear Weapons in 2003. Naturally, news like this, though beneficial to global prosperity and peace, has become problematic for the Military-Industrial complex. As long as Iran was a credible nuclear threat, then forces could be amassed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iran's northern neighbor, Azerbaijan, in a bid to contain Iran's political and economic influence. The pursuit of nuclear weapons development was just peripheral to the Administrations policy of security sanctions in an ever desperate bid to exploit Iran's internal divisions and thus control their resources, particularly oil and natural gas. When news of the Intelligence Estimate was released (1), the Mainstream media had to put some kind of negative spin (Washington Post Article). In addition to the saber rattling practiced by the US State Department, Israel, seeing itself as a self-imposed "party of interest" in containing and vilifying Iran, increased the tired rhetoric of Iran malicious intentions (2). As is often the case, Israel seems to consistently seek conflict and instability in the Middle East in order to receive protection both financial and militarily from the United States. The glaring hypocrisy in this instance is that Israel does possess nuclear weapons, hasn't ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (which Iran has ratified), and continually interferes with neighbors through cross-border raids into Lebanon and Syria (3). Claiming to have neutralized a "nuclear plant in Syria", it has now become clear that this was most likely a hostile act of pre-emptive bombing to send a message to Iran that the biggest threat in the Middle East is Israel (4). These kinds of actions are not exactly conducive towards peace in the region. As far as Israel's influence in the United States, beyond just a powerful lobby, it is American troops and American tax-payer dollars that will continue to fund Israel's amoral and misguided behavior. Israel's poweful lobby also stands in opposition of the United State's opening diplomatic channels with Iran on an official level. In direct contrast however, much of the current Middle Eastern mess would be better solved through an increased Diplomatic presence, and an attempt at understanding Iran's point of view. It should be noted however that understanding a point of view is not the same as accepting that behavior or condoning it.

It's understandable that Iran doesn't exactly provide a message of hope and stability for the future because ultimately they have a theocracy backed by Islamic Fundamentalists. Besides diplomacy, which is but one avenue of pursuit in achieving a stable region, how can we extend beneficial strategies to help usher in a more prosperous future? Of primary consideration is to endeavor in spreading the message of secularism, which can ultimately be propagated by science and education. Before embarking on such a grand scheme however (not just limited to Iran and the Middle East but other troubling regions of the world), we must strive to provide a solid core of science and mathematics education within the United States. Our own flirtation with theocracy is a direct result of the power that religion plays in the political process. Religion should have no power whatsoever in the secular political sphere. The only way to promote secularism and critical thinking is to increase science education at all levels and attempt at standardizing curriculi across American schoolboards. As we reform our educational system, we should also strive to promote the same in all countries of the world, especially those mired in political trouble. As we distribute foreign aid, we should hold accountable the educational bodies in those countries and help to promote their educational spending. When people start to think more critically, both domestically and abroad, their personal growth and prosperity is unlimited. They come to realize that the world is a far more complex place. Both the subtle and more obvious nuances that separate cultures can ultimately be resolved without a loss of the richness that the cultural fabric provides us. By understanding other cultures, and striving to support the beneficial elements within them, very little hostility need be exercised. Instead, some understanding, a change in perspective, and perhaps empathy can go a long way in resolving future conflicts and also raising the general awareness of the population.

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