|Astronomical Clock, Prague (image via Wikipedia)|
Time, I am convinced, is not a linear dimension. Rather, I believe it is a mysterious force of cyclical motion, propelling events along the nearly imperceptible curve of reality. It is at those moments that stand out for their enduring personal impact that time’s cyclical nature reveals itself. And for me, such a time is when fears of war between the West and Iran are flamed.
The first instance of this in the summer of 2006 had an enormous impact on my life, as I was in the midst of a major transformation. I was at the cusp of an awakening, when I first began to feel truly connected with the universe, realizing that my thoughts and my actions (mostly my thoughts) had a profound impact on reality – not just my own reality, but far beyond my own self. And my being connected taught me that everything else was also connected in a universal web of interrelationships between each and all.
My moment of fiery impact with this universe of infinitely interconnected ideas and occurrences was the convergence in one place, at one time, in one mind, at one synaptic moment on the map of universal happenings, of a set of thought patterns and circumstances that revolved around the discovery of a phenomenon of cultural and social paranoia that is driven by the manipulation of human emotions, particularly the manipulation of fear of “other.”
At that time, I was greatly troubled by my own fear that the George W. Bush administration, at the behest of such influential actors as the practically heartless Vice President Dick Cheney, the incompetent Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the one-time top “human rights official” in the Reagan administration who applauded the grisly victory of the Reagan Death Squads in El Salvador, the indicted Iran-Contra deceiver of Congress who President Bush nevertheless named as Deputy National Security Advisor for Democracy Strategy, Elliot Abrams, would do the unthinkable and ignite yet another war with Iran.
My fear was aimed not only at the neocons who were in charge of U.S. foreign policy, but also at a society in the United States that would allow them to use similar tactics to those that had been employed to gain wide support for the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq three agonizingly long years prior to that time, having played up fear of another society that is not very well if at all understood in U.S. culture, a society that is perceived to be made up of radical Muslims, despite the fact that Iranian culture is far more complex and sophisticated than what is regularly portrayed in the U.S. media.
Of course, there are those ingrained images from the time of the Carter presidency of men with their faces wrapped in white cloth being held hostage, narrated by the sound of Ted Koppel’s voice announcing the number of days since the crisis had begun (ultimately 444) on a nightly basis, in addition to the sinister visage of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his rhetoric against the United States as “Great Satan” that would remain fixed in the cultural conscience of the nation during the decade of the 1980’s and beyond.
But of course, there is also another side to this coin, which, to me, is even more sinister than the vehemence of any robed and bearded religious zealot, because it is born of a zeal that looks more like you and me, speaks in terms of “democracy,” “human rights,” and “shared values,” and has the world’s most powerful financial and military might backing it up, often clandestinely. But these righteous agendas are also advanced via so-called “non-governmental” organizations (NGOs) such as the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and Freedom House, which are at least partially Congressionally funded through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and, contrary to their stated goals, have worked to undermine democracy in such cases as the IRI’s destabilization activities prior to the 2004 coup d’état in Haiti and their involvement in Honduras following the 2009 coup there, to give just a couple of examples. Now, the Egyptian military authorities have announced that they will criminally prosecute the employees of these same NGOs and others in their country, stating, “The government will not hesitate to expose foreign schemes that threaten the stability of the homeland.” John McCain is the Chairman of the IRI’s Board of Directors, which could explain why he was over in Egypt second-guessing the president during the spreading Arab Spring. But who knows what Joe Lieberman was doing there by his side?
These meddlers claim to only be interested in human rights and democracy (and, of course, free market capitalism) but in practice, they have no real interest in ensuring that the will of the people will be fulfilled when those people are “Islamists” (on par with capitalism are Judeo-Christian values) who have been suppressed for forty years by a corrupt, elitist, secularist oligarchy. There is very good reason for the distrust of these NGOs in Egypt, as the Muslim Brotherhood, which is much more moderate than the hard line Salafis, gains democratic power. After seeing the previously unspoken religious superiority come to the surface with Bush’s rhetoric about crusading against “Evil Empires,” the world has little reason to doubt the depth of the religious/capitalist neocon fervor that flows thick through the culture of the United States of America.
Yet even more sinister than this hypocritical NGO business is the bizarre history of the relationship between neocons and the countries of North Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia, particularly Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The trail of tears in which the US has played one side against another and been instrumental in the tragic destabilization of the entire region is long, with such unforgivable episodes as the secret sale of arms to Iran (because of the Cold War mentality that if they didn’t do it, the Soviet Union would), via Israel, for use in their war against Iraq, which the United States both openly and less openly supported. After the hostage crisis came to an end, Ted Koppel’s nightly reports on the Iranian Hostage Crisis had transformed into Nightline, where he reported in 1992, “It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq” into the power it became, and “Reagan/Bush administrations permitted—and frequently encouraged—the flow of money, agricultural credits, dual-use technology, chemicals, and weapons to Iraq.” Some of this flow was above board, but much of it was illegal and immoral, as all kinds of illicit activities were laundered through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a bank that set itself up in unregulated jurisdictions with funds from Saudi and other Arab investors (no Jews, mind you) and became one of the world’s premier financial institutions for such Illuminati as Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega of Panama, the Medellin Cartel, Fatah founder Abu Nidal, Oliver North, and George Bush Sr.’s CIA, which utilized the bank to launder the heroin trafficking profits that were used to secretly arm and finance the Afghan mujahedeen, in addition to their illegal funding of the Nicaraguan Contras through cocaine sales. Yes, BCCI was like one big happy mafia family.
The specter of war with Iran rises up like a phoenix from the gentle ashes of tranquility, always coinciding with key political events. So in the summer of 2006, we had the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in response to Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Qassam rocket-lobbing Shi’ia militants, having kidnapped two Israeli soldiers to swap for the Lebanese who were being held by the Israelis. Then came the saber rattling in Iran’s direction and the accusations, with the many neocons in high places in Bush’s foreign policy apparatus and their fear-mongering friends in the media rattling right along (remember those faked images of a bunch of Iranian warheads that was drudged up on the Drudge Report?). The cause for fear and saber rattling at that time was that Iran was on the verge of becoming a nuclear threat to the existence of Israel, a claim that, despite the lack of a preemptive bombing campaign, has proven to be off the mark.
But the bluster really had more to do with Israeli insecurities, with local politics playing their part. Despite warnings from allies that it was not a good idea, the United States had orchestrated Palestinian parliamentary elections in January of that year as a step in George W. Bush’ grand plan to build a viable Palestinian state and bring peace to the Holy Land. The results of these elections were that Hamas won 56% of the seats over the divided and corrupt, U.S.-backed Fatah politicians – oops. Nation building was never Bush’s strong point (it is difficult to see what was).
Because this act of spontaneous democracy had not provided the desired results, it was back to Elliot Abram’s familiar playbook: the short-sighted, entirely repugnant, and borderline illegal incitement of a dirty war, providing material and political support for a brutal strongman that was the enemy of the enemy du jour. But by this time, the usual suspects in the United States government were losing their knack for pulling off cockeyed schemes, and the outcome of this cockeyed scheme, just like the elections, did not play out as planned. The newly trained and armed Fatah security forces were quickly overtaken by Hamas, who obtained much of the shiny new military equipment, the Gaza Strip fell into their control, and Israel had Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon to blame Iran for.
Fast forward to the election of President Barack Hussein Obama on 4 November 2008, when, as the world was captivated by the drama unfolding in the United States, Israel launched a military strike against Gaza, which Israel claimed was not a violation of the ceasefire agreement, but a necessary response to a supposed immediate threat. What followed was a horrendously disproportionate attack on the people and infrastructure of Gaza using bombs and chemical weapons, lasting until the eve of the historic inauguration. That 13 Israelis were killed compared to 1300 Gazans outraged me, but then came more outrage. My relief that we had made it all the way to the end of the Bush administration’s tenure without a final hour bombing of Iran proved to be short-lived, as the Israeli attack on Gaza seemed to have been a political ploy carried out in the run up to the Israeli elections, and the far-right politicians there were promising to take vengeance on the Iranian suppliers to Hamas of the Qassam rockets that had been fired from behind the grotesque Palestinian retaining wall.
The cycle had come around again, and by that time, I had completed the book that I had been inspired to write by the series of intriguing events and corresponding ideas that had launched themselves when I made the connection between how people’s emotions are so easily manipulated, especially the emotion of fear, the way that the same phantom – the Universal Keyser Söze – always makes an appearance in the spooky tales that are employed to scare entire societies, and the importance of understanding who it is that is telling the tales and what their motives might be. After having finished this book, I had continued to write the blog that I had begun with the words of Jeff Halper, an activist with the Free Gaza Movement who was one of the few early birds who were able to break the Israeli siege and successfully sail to the shores Gaza, which continues to be held under siege more than three years later. My warning then was to pay attention to what Israel was saying and doing, and to not forsake the Palestinians.
Fast forward yet again to today, and we have Hamas and Fatah finally doing what the Bush team had prevented them from doing, which is that they are talking with each other about reconciliation, pledging a turn toward nonviolent methods of resistance against the Israeli occupation, and planning for the future of Palestine as a recognized, legitimate state, both in terms of achieving statehood status through the United Nations and through upcoming 2012 elections.
Perhaps it is these politics that is freaking Israel out this time around the be afraid, be very, very afraid of Iran bend. That, combined with the change in the leadership of the International Atomic Energy Agency from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mohamad ElBaradei to the Japanese diplomat, Yukia Amano, whose promise to a U.S. representative that he was “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program,” which was exposed by WikiLeaks, has helped to spark this new round of fear-mongering. And of course the elections in the United States certainly plays into the scenario, as the Republican candidates puff themselves up to look “Presidential” (hmmm – none of them are too convincing so far). There has to be an enemy to posture before.
Each time this fearful monster has been raised from the depths of the bottomless lake in the past, I have felt fearful, not of Iran’s supposed nuclear capabilities or intentions, but of those who would exaggerate those capabilities and intentions for some kind of political gain, or worse, with an objective of doing something heroic about it. So far, no one has managed to get up the nerve to take the suicidal step of attacking this large country, because it is clear to everyone except the most delusional ideologues that it would be suicidal. Non-military solutions to the perceived problems being presented by an Iran with nuclear capacities of any kind are the only truly viable options, and these options are being vigorously pursued by the current president of the United States, in conjunction with the world community – including China and India, which is a neighbor and close trading partner with Iran.
...And yet I sense fear all around me. Many people are fearful of Iran, and of the Muslim Brotherhood, and of the changes occurring in North Africa and the Middle East that have been brought about by the Arab Spring. These people fall prey to the fear-mongering, in terms of Iran being a threat that needs to be dealt with by people who can handle dealing with this kind of threat, if they can just get enough support, enough funding, enough weapons, enough time...
Others fear the government of the United States, mistaking the materialistic, self-absorbed, selfish, militaristic, arrogant national character for a dark force that operates from above called the New World Order, making no distinction between one administration and another. These vulnerable individuals, who are easily swayed by snippets of hatred and a narrative that takes random shards of out-of-context reality and reconstitutes them into a bizarre image of the universe, think that they have everything all figured out as far as the bankers and the corporations and the politicians getting together to create endless wars and conflict so that they can reap the benefits of the “most profitable business in the world,” which is supposedly war. (It isn’t – oil and gas top the list).
This kind of thinking disturbs me because it leaves the individual powerless in the face of what is believed to be the inevitable forces that perpetuate wars and crises of every kind. They hear rumblings of war with Iran, and immediately jump to the conclusion that China and India have agreed to purchase oil from Iran with gold, which, according to these people (as well as to goldstockbull.com), was the real reason why the United States attacked Iraq – Saddam Hussein was going to start trading oil for gold dinars. And Gaddafi’s plan for doing the same was the real reason for the “invasion” of Libya, which had been a thriving country with very little poverty, an excellent education and health care, and happy people, contrary to what you might have heard (and you cannot trust that Amnesty International, because they are “no doubt another front controlled by the elite”).
If inciting wars and playing on fears is what makes the rulers of the New World Order so incredibly (and I mean that quite literally) intelligent, then they sure have done a great job striking fear into the hearts of these people who are so fond of labeling as “sheeple” everyone who doesn’t believe in this viewpoint that is being hawked by gold salesmen, corporatist libertarians, and theocrats. They are a fearful bunch, and their response to their fears is to spread the fear around, because resistance is futile.
The amazing thing about seeking connections between histories and people and places and ideas, investigating a diversity of opinions and digging into where those opinions came from in the past, distinguishing between ideas that are similar yet are not the same, and making sure that tidbits of information such as individual quotes are understood in context rather than simply free-floating and therefore subject to misinterpretation or misdirection from their original intent, is that these pursuits provide the investigator with an active role in the development of events rather than a passive role of simply allowing someone else’s line of thought to carry them along to wherever it may. It engages one in the process of the unfolding of time. Through vigorous thought and exploration of ideas, eyes may see beyond the narrow scope of a singular ideology to take in the lay of the landscape to a far-off horizon. Minds will be opened to new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new understandings. Fear that arises because of unfamiliarity, misunderstanding, and otherness, can be vanquished. And this brings peace of mind and hopefulness about what the future may bring...
...at least it does for me...
Common Dreams. 15 February, 2012
Israel vs. Iran: The Truth Slips Out
Informed Comment. 22 January, 2012
South Carolina & Gingrich, Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood
Vanity Fair. April 2008
The Gaza Bombshell
The New Yorker - Daily Comment. 18 November, 2011
Iran and the I.A.E.A.
GoldStockBull Investment Strategies. 6 May, 2011
Invasion of Libya was About Gaddafi's Plan to Introduce Gold Dinar
Above Top Secret. 21 October, 2011
In Memory of the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi – What History Books will NEVER tell your kids about