They only know the languages of menace and violence

The foreign ministers of the G-8, meeting in Italy, have something to say about the atrocities in Iran. The Italian foreign minister said: “We will adopt a particularly tough and clear position.” The Iranian ambassador in Japan, Seyed Abbas Araghchi, warned them not to “saying”:http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D99271580&show_article=1 it would be “their biggest mistake.” He also said that there is “no legal problem” with what Iranian police have been doing, such as this (thanks to “Raye man kojast? Where is my vote?”:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/). The key footage begins 56 seconds in.

More on Roger Cohen

There have been some very interesting comments on Roger Cohen. His support for ordinary, decent Iranians is welcome. What is interesting is how he covered Iran previously, which is separate from the question of why he covered it that way (a question that too easily becomes _ad hominem_).

Here is the example of when he covered Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech in March, during which Khamenei responded to President Obama’s Iranian New Year message. Roger Cohen wrote “that”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/opinion/l23cohen.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all:

bq. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded to Obama with a scathing speech at the country’s holiest shrine in Mashad, recalling every past U.S. misdeed, describing prerevolutionary Iran as “a field

for the Americans to graze in,” and demanding concrete steps — like a lifting of sanctions — rather than words.

bq. View all that as an opening gambit. Khamenei also quieted the crowd when it began its ritual “Death to America” chant and he said this: “We’re not emotional when it comes to our important matters. We make decisions by calculation.”

bq. That’s right: the mullahs are anything but mad. Calculation will demand that Iran take Obama seriously.

Here is Khamenei’s speech from his official website. What is interesting is that official English translation changes “Death to America” to “Down with America.” Here is the relevant “section”:http://english.khamenei.ir//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1076&Itemid=4 (Persian is “here”:http://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=6082 and clearly includes the words “Marg bar Amrika”):

bq. The new US President insulted the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic right after he was inaugurated as President and delivered his inaugural address. Why? If you really believe there has been a change, show us. We cannot see any change. I would like to tell everybody – including US government officials as well as others – that the Iranian nation will neither be deceived nor intimidated.

bq. First of all, verbal change is not enough. Of course I have not noticed much verbal change either. There must be genuine change. I would like to tell American government officials that the kind of change to which they only pay lip service is a necessity for them. You have no other choice: You must change. If you do not change, the divine laws of nature will force you to change. Nature will force you to change. You must change, but this change must not be in words only and there must be no ulterior motives. You cannot talk about change if you only change your policies and pursue the same goals. This kind of change does not constitute genuine change: That is deception. If there is any genuine change, it must manifest itself in action. I advise the US government officials or whoever makes the decisions there – be it the President, the Congress, or other people – that the situation in which the US government is involved is harmful to the American nation as well as the US government. You ought to know that you are one of the most hated countries in the world. Other nations burn your flag. Muslim nations shout “Down with the US” throughout the world. [Howard Baskerville note: at this point the crowd shouted “Death to America”]

bq. What is the reason behind so much hatred? Have you ever tried to investigate this issue? Have you ever scrutinized it? Have you learnt any lessons?

That’s right. Khamenei did not quieten his listeners’ chants of “Death to America.” He incited them.

Theocratic crowd control

Hat tip: “Rayeman kojast?”:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/ (Where is my vote?)

President Obama’s letter to Ayatollah Khamenei

Barbara Slavin at _The Washington Times_ has a great story: that the Obama Administration sent a “letter”:http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/24/us-contacted-irans-ayatollah-before-election/?feat=home_cube_position1 to Iran’s theocratic dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in May. The text is not yet available, but knowing Washington D.C. soon will be. (By the way, CNN has the same “story”:http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/24/iran.obama.letter/index.html but ungraciously does not source _The Washington Times_).

What was Iran’s response to the letter? Silence, until the Iranian people stood up against the theocracy’s tawdry practice of electoral theft. Then, with the sound of gun fire and breaking bones in the background, Ayatollah Khamenei derided the letter in his sermon on June 19, 2009.

The State Department also invited Iranian diplomats in countries where Iran and the U.S.A. have embassies to attend July 4 parties. The offer was a waste of time. The Iranians were never going to attend. Today, the State Department withdrew the “invitations”:http://raymankojast.blogspot.com/2009/06/us-rescinds-july-4-invites-for-iran.html. More Bud for everybody else, but a pointless charade in the interim.

But is it news?

The Iranian interior ministry claims that its recount of some ballot boxes “found”:http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=902155 “no discrepancies.” The discrepancies could have been minor or or insignificant. That would have been a very slightly credible but unsatisfactory claim. Instead, they have stuck with the notion that this is a clean election.

We will take that as a compliment

Boris Johnson, the untidy haired Mayor of London, has a good laugh at Ayatollah Khamenei’s “expense”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/5599270/What-has-Ayatollah-Khamenei-of-Iran-got-against-little-old-Britain.html. Johnson is flattered that Khamenei considers Britain still to be a superpower:

bq. Doesn’t it make you almost burst with pride? For decades, we have got used to the idea that we are a dowdy middle-ranking sort of country that long ago abandoned any pretensions to influence east of Suez. We thought we were wholly dependent on America for our nukes and our cryptography–and here’s this top mullah who seems to think that the Tehran protests are being staffed by swarms of burka-wearing Bonds, and that the whole thing is being orchestrated by Dame Judi Dench from her lair on the South Bank.

Targeting a journalist

The Iranian regime is now targeting Iason Athanasiadis (aka Jason Fowden) of _The Washington Times_. According to Hossein Mohseni Ejeii, Iran’s intelligence “minister”:http://www.reuters.com/article/Iran/idUSTRE55N1Q920090624:

bq. “Some people with British passports were involved in recent riots,” he said. “One of the detainees collected information needed by the enemies under the guise of a reporter.”

Such an unfair focus on one person, without regard to their rights or due process, is deeply worrying and authentically totalitarian.

Shy and retiring

_The Financial Times_ claims that Ahmadinejad is remaining in the shadows temporarily to calm things “down”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c3bcecde-603c-11de-a09b-00144feabdc0,dwp_uuid=be75219e-940a-11da-82ea-0000779e2340.html. If true, this means has had finally had a good idea. He can make this a great idea: make it permanent.


Emanuele Ottolenghi simply and effectively takes apart a newly minted friend of “Iranian democracy”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/ottolenghi/71191.

A partial record of the suffering in Iran

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has a partial list of those killed and arrested in “Iran”:http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2009/06/list/. The roll call of names is long, the sadness worsened by the knowledge that there are many more unaccounted for.

Who is helping the bad guys?

Eli Lake at _The Washington Times_ had this article in “April “:http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/13/europe39s-telecoms-aid-with-spy-tech/about how some European companies have been helping the Iranian regime. He also reports the same companies do a lot of business with the United States government (i.e. your taxes). Maybe they should choose between the dollars of a democracy and the blood money of a dictatorship?

Confused in Tehran

Press TV, one of the Iranian regime’s slimey organs, is confused. The headline on a report about President Obama’s comments today is:

bq. US supports street rallies in Iran

The report “states”:http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=98873&sectionid=351020101:

bq. US President Barack Obama has criticized the Iranian government’s response to street rallies but rejected that US was instigating the protests.

Obama dismissed accusations that the US was instigating massive protests as ‘patently false and absurd’.

So which is it?

How much do taxpayers spend on them?

There is an organization out there that competes with the Iranian regime for the clueless gold medal. Not clueless in the treatment of its citizens/democracy sense, but in its understanding of the world beyond its shores. It is called the U.S. government. Billions of dollars on intelligence later and they still “don’t know”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/world/middleeast/23diplo.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all.

Are we worried?

Iran’s Guardian Council has asked for an “extra five days”:http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran24-2009jun24,0,4945198.story to review the election (full text “here”:http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/06/23/breaking-five-more-days-of-assessment.aspx). The Guardian Council had previously said the election was just “fine”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/5608671/Irans-Guardian-Council-rules-out-annulment-of-election.html, there having been “no major polling irregularities.”

So what’s happening? Maybe, they are cooking up an explanation. Maybe there is behind the scenes quarreling. Or maybe, there is some sad guy sitting there filling in the extra ballots to justify Ahmadinejad’s supposed victory. Here’s what the conversation was probably like:

bq. Scene: a smoke filled room, loads of empty candy packets and empty coffee cups.

bq. Boss: How are the ballot papers coming along?

bq. Sad dude: Fine.

bq. Boss: When will those 20 million papers be ready?

bq. Sad dude: Soon

bq. Boss: How soon is “soon”?

bq. Sad dude: Next week

bq. Boss: Are you nuts? What am I gonna tell the Ayatollah?

bq. Sad dude: Five more days?

bq. Boss: Let me see what I can do. By the way, no need to put “Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” just put “Ahmadinejad”

bq. Sad dude: Now you tell me

Rounding up the usual suspects

Here is a list of some of the journalists under arrest “in Iran”:http://cpj.org/2009/06/iranian-newspaper-raided-25-employees-detained.php. As we now know (and that for the comment on this), all Iranians are now journalists. Still, there is somebody in the Iranian secret police methodically working his way down the list of journalists: “40 arrested, 70 million to go.”


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