Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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Wake Up, America: Iran is Not What You Think

Americans must realize that it is time to accept Iran as it is today, and not as they daydream it to be, as some sort of a retro-1950s creampuff headed by a brutal puppet.

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All Comments (377)

Payday Loans Agent Man:

I totally agree with this writer. The problem with most Americans is that they can't or don't want to think independently. Most of them live in their own little worlds which includes probably the town, or city they live in, or state at most in some cases, MLB, NBA, NFL, and the things of their own world. Just when you take these sports, it is funny how they call their own league finals the "World Championship". In any case, many of them just want to agree with their President or the people that govern them. I think that is very dangerous for a vibrant democracy that claims to be one of the largest in the world and most advanced.

Payday Loans Agent Man:

I wonder where those middle eastern commentators could have possibly picked up the strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions, either by giving obtuse answers or completely changing the subject?

When is the last time a straight answer was ever given by President Bush, Alberto Gonzales or anybody in this administration?

Gonzales seems to never recall anything when he is pressed on a sensitive matter. Bush completely ignores questions or goes off subject.

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Pam:

Enjoyed reading your article. Very true. Thanks.

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Faramarz Fathi:

arrabbiato:
"someone who is perpetuating evil all over the world."
If you have been schooled in this country by any chance you should have learned who this title belongs to solely.
"Which is why we know, and have known since 1979: THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN HAS GOT TO GO!"
Iranian people are quite capable of making decision on their own and for the benefit of their own and please be assured they are not interested in any assistance from the people of a country which itself is controlled by Tel Aviv,.

Anonymous:

Great comments. Well said.

arrabbiato:

Hey Ali-

Wake Up, America: Iran is Not What You Think


You're right about this. It's FAR WORSE. Which is why Columbia U's dean was so brilliant-he called out the evil he saw, and he knew, you can't prettify evil, and you can't use nice words of diplomacy to legitimize someone who is perpetuating evil all over the world.

Which is why we know, and have known since 1979: THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN HAS GOT TO GO!

reason:

It is a relief to finally hear some reason coming
out of the mainstream press. I was beginning to feel i was going crazy with all this warmongering and misinformation about iran. Wake up people! This is nothing but a play on our fear and ignorance. These are humans with families and dreams not the boggy monster.

Andy T.:

Superb! The USSR mentality is taking over USA: CNN is the old TASS News Agency, Washington Post is the old Pravda, the Homeland Security Department is the American KGB, intrusive government in people's privacy, waves of massive financial mistakes, daily waives of new laws, and of course the Iraq war which also destroyed the Soviet Army's morale in Afghanistan.

Educator:

VAMAN

You write: ... "Most people in this country is quite knowledgeable about Iran and they make up the....."

Tell me, jive man, ARE most people in America as well-versed with their mother tongue of the English Language? or have you just demonstrated a leading and stark example of the majority, all graduates of the George W. Bush school of neo-lingual grammer?

Given your demonstration and depth of education (that is to say, lack of it), I take your comments with the due weight and attention it deserves!

So, I tend to think the poster BIG BIJAN is right!


AMviennaVA:

Vaman: Please clarify for me: We (the US) invaded a country (Iraq) and caused tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of deaths, all contrary to UN rules. Please do remember that we tried to get UN authorization BUT FAILED. What grounds do we have to complain about 440 people who were held, but were all released? Somehow, the relative scales are not equitable, and very much against us.

Big Bijan:

VAMAN
only 20% of Americans can locate USA on a world map and you say that most people in USA are knowledgeable about Iran......this must be the grand misrepresentation of the century....or in the words of your president Bush a "misunderestimation" of the century!

Be it as it may, looking back does not solve any problems. Uncle Sam and the "evil" USSR settled their differences within a few hours and it took a simple one-on-one talk between Reagan and Gorbachev in Geneva. It took will, leadership and determination to solve problems of the past.

You Americans think that you can tell others what to do, and when you invite a president of a country you think it is right insult the guest.

So, you can stay in the dark and be isolated in the world. Who cares......? I bet you think that you are winning in Iraq too, don't you?


Vaman:

It is easy to point faults at USA as Iran hates USA. As long as Iran has taken embassy hostages in their country against the UN rules, it should not claim Iran is some how a grand country. Most people in this country is quite knowledgeable about Iran and they make up their opinion one way or other. It will really take a long number of years to convince people here that Iran is different than what we think. There is no reason for writing these articles to tell us.

Nazanin Ghasemian:

Dear Mr. Ettefagh,

Thank you for your column. I truly enjoy reading it. It's refreshing to read in this part of the world (Washington, DC).

Many thanks.

Horse:

A realistic article. We must deal with today and now the way it is.

Second, it is a bad assumption by Americans that Iranians need help, guidance, a push or other kinds of hollow offers or alligator tears, as one poster said.

What Iranians need is space and time and removal of any pressure to figure things out for themselves. Iran is an old civilisation and has faced many challenges and foreign attacks in the past. It has survived them all and there is no reason why it cannot survive again. This divide and dominate theory of western countries, and applying pressure is a short-sighted way. Iranians and people in the Middle East and the Far East think about the long-term and decades past and forward.

So, the best service the West and Americans can do to Iranians is to leave them alone.

Ahmad:

Fate, I agree with your post and I hope my compatriots get to be a bit more open to discuss our differences. Afterall, we have all inherited all these problems. I know that the progressives and the NGO's in the U.S. are very active and that's encouraging. Everyone's number one priority right now should be to prevent a war between our countries.
If you all think we have grievances against each other right now, wait until a war takes place and there will be a million more grievances to shout about.
Our differences are big but not unsurmountable. If a war takes place, we will be forever separated. That would be a pity.

Ramsar, Iran:

Wow....a great article!
But I cannot understand these Americans that they think they must give Iranians advice and tell us about the world. They elected a president that didn't have a passport!

GooZoo:

IRONMAN
Good luck with your soon to arrive "new government". Just leave ours and us Iranians alone.

I don't blame you, really. You are a very young country that has gone from barbarism to arrogance without going thru civilisation. Just stay away!

Ironman:

Jeez, who would have thought there would be so many apologists for a brutal regime? Persia was great, Iran is a dump.

America is going to get a new government soon with real elections, Iran will get more mullahs with rigged "elections". You get the government you deserve. Enjoy yours!

GooZoo:

To FATE

Please save us from your alligator tears. Leave us Iranians alone.
That will be best for every one.

Ghazanfar:

FATE
Have you ever been to Iran? If not, I suggest you hold back your comments until you see reality, not parts of reality.
In your country that you think freedom of speech means insulting a visitor, the same country that has not taken care of its own people in New Orleans, only 20% can locate USA on a world map. So, who cares what you all do!

And arrest of journalists: See the story of Judith Miller of The New York Times....right there in your own country!
Among all angles and serious issues, your press took up the sex stories and homosexuals (perhaps 0.1% of all Iranians) as a keynote, when Ahmadinejad was talking about the fact that there is no need for a war. So I think the writer of the article has been precise with the mind set of America: a riddle and an enigma.

Fate:

I agree completely with you Ahmed. And as an American, I do criticize my government. I saw a bumper sticker on the way home last night that said "Impeach Bush". Now how many bumper stickers are there in Iran calling for the removal of the council or Ahmadinejad. I also have watched the reports of newspaper shutdowns and arrests of journalists and students. Iran is more like Myanmar than like any democracy. I find it funny that some can only respond by insulting you or say "Rome was not built in a day". They fail to understand that it does not take much time to turn a country toward freedom and liberty. Asking for time while tyrants rein should never be a request from a civilized person.

Your country will be free one day because it is what the people want and people can never be kept down for very long. Continue the struggle, don't accept the injustice, support those who fight for freedom. You do it in Iran and I'll do it here in America, then both governments will be friends when they reflect the wishes of their peoples.

ahwazi:

AHMAD:
Rome was not built in a day!

p.c.i. & friends:

Long live Ahmadinejad....
Down with AHMAD!

Ahmad:

Petty and Cruel Iranian:

Last thing I want to see in this debate is blinding nationalism (on either side). Yes there are many thousands of bloggers who write everyday in Persian and I read most of them. But add that to the fact that many bloggers have been jailed in the past few years, many many sites on the internet are filtered by "ministry of information", and there is a report of a newspaper closing almost everyday. I like you to show me one newspaper printed in Iran where they openly critisize high government officials (not the petty ones). I want to see one of these newspapers dare say anything negative about the "spiritual leader" and see if it's not going to be accused of "insulting high officials" and get shut down the next day and the editors thrown in jail. How many "reformer" newspapers have been shutdown in the past 4 years for the crime of "insulting high officials" and "questioning the pillars of the regime"?
Didn't Mr. Ahmadi-Nejad in his pre-election speech say: "Our biggest problem is not what women wear? It's an insult to the Iranians to tell them what to wear and what not to wear?" and then retracted his words when the crackdown on women began in the streets? If you have not seen it, go to YouTube and it's right there for everyone to see (sorry if you are in Iran YouTube is filtered). I must say here that I completely disagree with Columbia president that Ahmadi-Nejad is a dictator. How can he be a dictator when nobody in the government even listens to his words and they constantly poke fun at "Mahmoud"? Didn't he say that women are now allowed go to the stadiums and then the next day the "council of Ayatollahs" overruled the president? what kind of a republic is this where the president has zero power? No sir, he is not a dictator. He is a nobody!

Please stop painting a rosy picture. It doesn't wash anymore. Just be honest so you can contribute positively to the debate not detract from it. I also like to ask my American friends to critisize their own where they have to and not let this type ultra-nationalism get in the way of an otherwise great debate.

w:

good points to debate

petty and cruel Iranian:

FATE
It is widely reported that Persian is one of the most blogged languages. Technocrati (the blog tracking service) reports that it is tenth most blogged language. Add this to the fact that about 45 daily newspapers are published in Iran, in Persian and not conveniently in English so you Yanks can understand....... and there are very open debates about lots of things. We didn't have this 30 years ago when America's man (as the article above mentions, that is the Shah) was around. So, it is change for the better.

As for religion being the centre of policy in the Middle East.....gee, holly cow! You seem to forget who started this trend ....... by creating a religious apartheid Jewish state in the region wrapped around a militarist doctrine of Zionism!

Faramarz Fathi:


jcorco2862:
"When Iran cuts a check for $10 million to each American they kidnapped in 1979 and held until 1981, then it will be time to talk. Not before."

I trust this respectable writers refers to the Americans in US embassy in Tehran who had departed from their routine political representation of US to running Iran with their installed puppet and committing all sorts of crimes against Iranians and now with a verdict, worthy of no attention, that Iran always even refused to acknowledge and participate in the case, this writer has decided to display and brag about his or her intelligence.

Well, now that we have the pleasure of his or her company here, may be he or she can tell us when victims, dead or surviving at the hands of US could be compensated ? Shall we start with most recent ones exceeding One million and more than Four million dislocated in Iraq and how about their sovereignty when the US voided when they walked in to loot their only natural resources whom they had learned in advance to be the second largest reserve in the world ? Or shall we start with the Japanese when the US could have dropped the very same Two bombs on uninhabited areas and achieved same results ?

Could you enlighten us with the good news now ?

Fate:

Abgoosht & Pizza wrote: "Wake up and grow up! Iran is the only country in the region that allows Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians their freedom of religion by law and in practice."

What has that to do with the foreign policy of any nation or its desire for regional power and dominance? Hitler did not restrict religions, except judiasm. In WW2 Germany you had Catholics working at concentration camps. The problem in the ME in general is that religion is linked with everything and that linkage is considered important. It is not and never has been. The lnkage is an illusion. The Iran/Iraq war should be a reminder that religion and its existence within a country has little to do with the country's goodness or badness.

Ironman:

Chaotician: it may be possible that you missed a cliche in your rant but I doubt it.

ITSNOTFAIR: Excellent points and a reasonable plan for going forward. Thanks.

Chaotician:

Perhaps George and Dick can spell Iran, it is very doubtful that anyone has a clue about anything outside the beltway! You are confused if you think any American cares about anything outside his or her personal power and/or wealth; the more one has the more one wants! If you consider that all actions of Geoirge and Dick are purely for the increase of their Power; then you will undersatnd why all of these adventures are miserable failures from any sane perspective...but great successes in getting these evil men control of the American people and the nation's military power! These "Wag the Dog" escapades have destroyed all of the Constitutional safe-guards, the moral autority, the economic well-being, the capability to act of America.

Fate:

It may be better to jaw-jaw, but Churchill did bring his nation to war-war when he could not see a better option. When Germany's militaristic desires for land and political thinking threatened to engulf Europe, he sent his country into war even though it had not been touched by Germany. Its always better to jaw-jaw, but that does not rule out war-war when necessary.

Also, can Mr. Ettefagh or some of the other Iranian supporters here point me to an Iranian newspaper where free blogging on subjects such as this are practiced? Any Iranians newspapers that are still around that is.

ITSNOTFAIR:

Friends,
Reading all these comments one thing is obvious. You don't have to go very far to find faults with the government of Iran and same goes for the U.S. government. It seems like we all first need to solve problems within our own countries before being able to engage in "moral advisory" conversations with the other side.
Unfortunately, what happens with smaller countries is that quite often the big powers try to agitate the situation until "their interests" are met. Now this doesn't mean that the governments in smaller countries are outstanding entities who are being victimized (as they like to portray it). Quite the contrary, in Iran we suffer from a theocratic regime that quite often exhibits 0 tolerance policy towards it's own citizens. But at the same time we have to realize that the last 30 years have been turbulant times in Iran and things keep changing day by day. The policies of the Iranian government today are not comparable to the ones even 15 years ago. So as an Iranian citizen I like to ask the big powers to lay off for a while. Let us resolve our own problems and then see if we can build a better friendship. Agitating the situation will not help anyone. There are fundumental unsolved issues between Iranian people and it's government. Those need to be sorted out first. Insults and threats from the outside are not helping. They push people to one side or the other. Moreover, the government can use those external threats as an excuse to crack down on all dissent. The same thing happens when a foreign national critisizes the U.S. government. Even if you are against this administration, you tend to rise up and defend them, essentially you are being pushed into defending something you really don't believe in.
Meanwhile, building the friendship bridges between the "people" of Iran and the "people" of the U.S. seems more important than defending failed government policies of either side. It's up to all of us to define how our governments interact with each other.
Peace!

Ironman:

GooZoo - Iran is not the beacon of light and advancement you say it is. Iran is a religious tyranny which is doomed to fall apart just like all intolerant regimes. It will happen from the inside not from the outside. Watch it and weep.

Goozoo:

IRONMAN
When read objectively, Abgoosht & Pizza is reflecting the view of a majority of Iranians, in Iran or outside.
More important is that he was addressing the post of an Iranian and his moaning.
So, I don't think it is envy or hate, just a clear showing of pure facts, also showing that America and the West has showed that it has no goodwill to Iranians that wanted democracy and advancement for themselves.

I think the article above is right. Americans don't want to accept Iran as it is and they want to bring back an idea from 50 years ago and it is now just an old fossil. Iran and Iranians are not just about oil and gas.

Ironman:

I think what Victoria really wants to say is that she hates George W. Bush.

Abgoosht & Pizza - You seem to have a lot of hate and envy.

David:

Michael Ledeen is another Israeli douche bag that is trying to suck blood and treasure out of the US and pipe it into Israel. While our Social Security is nearing bankruptcy and our infrastructure is crumbling (our bridges are falling, Manhattan is literally falling apart), we send Billions of dollars of our tax money to Israel. We are bleeding money and the blood of our sons and daughters in Iraq, because Israeli lobby took us to war.

Watch any of the presidential debates on either party. There is a litmus-test that each candidate must pass in order to be able to be a candidate for presidency. They must all pledge their unconditional surrender to the Israeli lobby.

I’m sick of it. @#$% enough is enough

Mike:

Victoria:

So I guess your argument is that since America is a wealthy country and you hate our foreign policy so much you have to shout it in caps, there should be no recognition of those views that don't hate America?

Gee, that makes sense. Can you please let us know what other positions you hold, so we can avoid printing any articles that disagree with them?

Why are liberals so afraid of any views that are not rabidly anti-American? I guess you guys think that we should have a dialogue with Iran, but not with any Americans who don't hate America?

Tabriz-R-US:

Great writing and excellent observations. Thank you Dr. Ettefagh!


ARDESHIR GILANSHAH:
Take some blood pressure medicine.
Since you say that you travel abroad, surely you can go outside Iran and stay out of Iran..... if you don't like your own home country.
There are many opportunities for you in the pizza delivery and cab driving industries! In those Arab countries that did not exist 30 years ago or USA. We Iranians like to live our way in our own home country, and unlike before, we can change it.

Otherwise, try to be a bit more positive and respectful about your own home country.
There is no place like home. Even if you end up in USA and take an American passport and a blood American wife, they will still call you and Iranian-American, never a full American: always separated from Americans with a (-) and they will call YOU a terrorist when a wild Arab from Afghan mountains kills Americans, as the president of Columbia University showed the world. Been there!

$9.99:

well, looking at the comments of JCORCO2862, it looks like the bidding has started. I knew there was some cash stuck in this whole story. Let's see $10m for 444 days $938.44 an hour for each of the 52 hostages.

So, what is good for the goose, must be good for the gander, right? So:

1979-1953 coup = 26 years or 9490 days x 24 hours x $938 x about 30 million Iranians =
$ 6'409'166'400'000'000 plust about 50+ years of interest + refund of all that military hardware junk that America sold to Iran + $100 million for every Iranian that USA killed by shooting down an IranAir Airbus.....If you pay in cash, we can give you a 2% discount.

Don't confuse this with those zero-down mortgages now!

jcorco2862:

When Iran cuts a check for $10 million to each American they kidnapped in 1979 and held until 1981, then it will be time to talk. Not before.

Ardeshir Gilanshah:

I do not wish to engage in a "pissing" match with "visceral" America haters who most probably live in one of the 50 states, hold green cards/passports, travel without difficulty, have had "girlfriends", got an education and making a bit of cash here and there.

What bothers me the most is this: No one but the the so-called Islamic and Marxist intellectuals many of whom were educated in the West is more responsible for the:

1. sanctions
2. the war with Iraq
3. economic mismanagment
4. executions in the thousands of men, women of different persuasion
5. stoning to death
6. killings of opposition figures in Germany, France, the US
7. Taking over a sovereign nation's embassy
8. Mass hysteria and ecstacy in welcoming Khomeini and his rabid ideology
9. In short, taking Iran to the edge of the abyss

Don't blame the US and the West for the miserable state of the Iranian economy. Blame your America haters who got rid of a corrupt system just to substitude it with a much worse one.

With respect to Persian Gulf nations, I travel to the region quite a lot. The Arabs may be not as smart as Iranians, but they know one thing: Pay for talent and import it. Not a day goes by in Dubai when a skyscraper goes up, whereas in Tehran it takes forever to construct a multi-family building.Just do a banking transaction in Iran and you face an avalanche of paper work and signatures, but then you checks get bounced and signature forged. I can give you images of today's Iran but it would fill volumes. Too bad, you don't live here to see young boys and girls selling chewing gums at intersections; or the begger whose infant is perrenially asleep under the influence of opiom so the mother can arouse passing cars' sympathies for a mere 50 cents.

More fundamentally, why don't you ever measure the happiness of the people? Come to Iran, you dishonest and pathological America haters and see how the common man's back is brokern under the burden of inflation, corruption, nepotism, favoratism and "agha zadehs".

I have seen women dragged from streets in the heat of mid-day Tehran by uniformed men and women (the Gestapo) who insult them, abuse them and then lock them up in a hot stifling van--just to be taken before a clergy man and be "guided"...

If Iran's sistuation and the regime are so good, please come over here; find a place to rent, get a job, breathe the polluted air, get your wife's insulted on the street.

You people make me sick. You are the ones who fooled a nation 30 years ago and then ran off to the comforts of California, Chicago, DC, New York.
Leave your pseudo-nationalism in your local Kebab place in the States and let the Iranian people join the world as a "normal" nation.

No. 52:

Great Analysis Dr. Ettefagh, and a good debate posters.
This is what it should be and we could all help ourselves by lowering the temperature and be more civilised. It is the 21st century.


Abgoosht & Pizza:

ARDESHIR GILANSHAH & Others;

Well, let's see if we can use a (neutral) Taiwanese calculator: Iran exports 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, population 72 million. Saudi Arabia exports 8.5 million barrels, population about 22 million. Qatar, UAE and Kuwait together export about 4.5 million bbls for a total population of less than 10 million. You can do the math,.... I hope!

As for your other rants and raves, did any of them suffer thru a war of 8 years? When export of medication to treat chemical weapon injury was banned? How about stupid sanctions? Does any other country in the world have living victims of chemical weapons amongst its population, all courtesy of Uncle Sam?

If Iranian cars are bad, why is it that Iran is now the 12th largest car producer in the world? and it has production in Egypt, Venezuela, Belarus (for the Russian market) and Syria?

Israel has no problems with Iran? What are you smoking??!
Then, please help me understand who is this AIPAC thing and what are the all about as they have occupied Capital Hill in your USA? And the funniest part is that their best "sources" on Iran are a few charlatans-- some guy that skipped prison town on a prison break program, another guy that used be a revolutionary guardsman and has now flipped, and an assortment of others that are trawling for Yankee cash. There was also a guy that was a convicted low level fraud artist from Isfahan that had claimed to have seen Israeli prisoners in Iran....!!!

Finally, it is fair to say that Iran has advanced its economy, its production base and business structure and its unversity capacity despite:
(a) a doubling of population,
(b) a destructive 8 year war,
(c) announced and unwritten sanctions,
(d) bad publicity and, finally.....
(e) not having any relations with USA, a blessing in disguise.

If it was the old Shah and the old B.S. of the past, there would have been no elections, no parliament and no debate. There was no electricity a mere 20 miles away from the Shah's grand palace. All for what? To appease Israel and its 6 million extremists-- as the writer said, half of Tehran's population?

Wake up and grow up! Iran is the only country in the region that allows Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians their freedom of religion by law and in practice. It is the only country in the region, including Turkey, that has a special line item of government budget as aid to religious minorities for schools, places of worship, cemetaries, etc.
I dare you to find a church or synagogue in any of your listed Arab countries, the ones you think they are better off, or equality of Muslims under Israeli law-- racist system of government!

VICTORIA:

well mike, since our benefit has been disproportionate to our population and needs-
(and energy expended) it is only just that our responsibilty for these benefits also be disproportionate.

to those whom great wealth is given, great responsibilites are expected

I AM AN AMERICAN AND I REALLY REALLY HATE THE FOREIGN POLICY OF MY GOVERNMENT

REALLY HATE IT

AND I LOVE MYSELF
and most (but not all)of the people i love dearly are americans-

so, your contention is simply illogical as i am a real life example of its wrongness.

it is possible to love someone dearly and still recognize their faults.


Faramarz Fathi:

It is quite discouraging when one experiencing difficulty on net to get through National Inquirer accidentally drops by here and delivers, I sincerely believe out of ignorance, the ultimate insult to the Persian by comparing Four Particular Persian Gulf nations to Iran.

This forlorn is so out of touch and clueless that he does not know those Four particular nations combined are yet incapable to produce a light bulb on their own and everything with the exception of sand is imported over there including human skill, while Iran with its own faults, cut off by Western countries since 1980 makes revolutionary advances in science consistently and has proven to be very self sufficient in military hardware too.

I trust Dr. Ettefagh will not compromise his class and intelligence by taking notice of this strayed helpless.

As for President Ahmadinejad, not only he came out as a decisive winner last week, nothing out of ordinary, his consistent vilification in US can solely be attributed to his independence and disobedience of US and rest, a primary quality a Persian needs to possess to qualify as one, has also secured himself a title shared by another grand Persian, the late Doctor Mossadegh.

Ironman:

Ardeshir Gilanshah:

Excellent analysis - thank you!

Mike:

See how simple the American-Iranian crisis is? It's all America's fault. Now that is some impressive dialogue!

So when is there going to be a stridently pro-American voice on PostGlobal? We have this large cast of stridently anti-American pundits, but no contrasting view.

I guess the "conversation on global issues" isn't large enough to include any of those who don't blame America exclusively for the world's problems.

GhasemBadiee:

I am Iranian-American and no fan of Ahmadinejad. Reading about Ahmadinejad's appearance in Columbia University and the way he was treated I felt outrageous and very disappointed..

Ignoring Lee Bollinger's introduction of Ahmadinejad's extremely rude, insulting, vulgar and way off the norm of any common courtesy to hostile audience, his questions was absolutely idiotic. He only regurgitated, the baseless acquisitions of neocons.

One wonder where does he live and get his information. He is not even updated with the day's news, forget about recent history. It is shame that this man is at the top of Prestigious institute such as Columbia University.

Just look at the fact that Americans in last 4 years with all their powers, resources and might, as hard as they have tried, not been able to find any evidence to connect Iran to support of resistance in Irag . They have been so desperate that have done any thing including kidnapping and arresting any Iranian and other nationals in Iraq without any regard to international law or wish of Iraqi's government; yet, have not been able to present any acceptable evidence to the word to somehow connect Iran to their failure in Iraq.

The man opened his mouth and showed how uneducated, shallow and ignorant he is. He may not be as ignorant, but knew the facts, just was trying to make certain people happy; He is still condemn.

I'll be ashamed to even be student in the University that has such a president. Any professor with an average intellects and self respect need to be ashamed to have such a person as a boss. He need to acknowledge his mistake or ignorance and resign. It may bring creditability to that Institution.

Khalil Mohajer:

One can clearly understand the outrage most Iranians felt from differnet viewpoints by very harsh and blatant attacks as well as unsubstantiated and inflamatory comments leveled against their president by Mr. Bollinger. However the events that led to Mr. Bollinger theatrical provocation deserves more attention. Prior to Mr. Ahmadinejad speech, a choir of Israel enthusiasts within the administartion, congress and media began a frenzy to stop president Ahmadinejad from addressing the American people on the eve of a very positive report by IAEA acknowledging Iran's peaceful nuclear activities. Thus, the pressure mounted on Mr. Bollinger to withdraw the invitation which resulted in his introductory speech hoping to cause sufficient outrage in Mr. Ahmadinejad to leave the auditorium. However his prudence and estraint prevailed and he achieved his major objectives of his visit and dealt a major blow to his Isralei opponents by posing cleraly defined questions and challenging the intellectuals and academics to confront them. Mainly whether Paletinians should be the subject of a sixty year old attrocities and pay the price of western committed crime against humanity better known as holocaust and what western liberal democracies fear over further research on the issue and subject people to prison who wish to do so, specially when no other subject regardless of how controversial it may seem initiates any legal barriers. His emphasis on peace,global brotherhood, justice and compassion was indeed a knockout blow to anti iranian handfuls and warmongers who had enjoyed massive coverage by the media. Regardless of "don't show, don't tell" enthusiasts spin on his comments about gays in Iran, there were three major outcomes as well. namely his arab and muslim audience who according to most feedbacks found his comments soothing, the domestic audience in Iran which were left with a mixed feeling of approval and raised eyebrows at times and the last which was quite unintended on his part and actually delivered by Mr. Bollinger to anti zionists opposition when he objected to the boycott movement of Israel's educational instituions. His Pathetic speech and ridiculous performance dropped Columbia's credentials to a new low and gave more validity to the boycott initiative.

Ardeshir Gilanshah:

Dear Mr. Ettefagh,

I think it was sensible of Columbia University's officials to invite Mr. Ahmadinejad to speak at the School. However, in view of the massive protests againt the decision to invite Ahmadinejad, the School's president punched below the waist:

You simply don't insult a guest whom you have invited. It lacks decorum and does not benefit anyone and certainly does not advance the cause of understanding.

However, your comments about Iran of today being implicitly better than Iran of the Shah's days are patently false. I live here and see that despite the largest oil/gas revenue ever recorded in Iran's history, the country is mired in 20% inflation, 15% unemployment, 40% liquidity expansion, drugs, prostitution and most of all, people's increasingly "double" lives. Exterior modesty and religiousity and interior hedonism.

For comparison, I invite you to visit the Persian Gulf nations and see for yourself how far advanced you have become: Qatar, Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia.

After all, they also reaped the benefits of higher oil/gas prices, but how is that they have from $1 to $2 trillion worth of liquidity, whereas in Iran, people's income in real terms have declined?

Is it also the fault of America? or Israel?

Since when Iranians and Israelis have ever been in a state of mutual antagonism? Never, till the advent of the Islamic Revolution.

Has Israel ever done to cause Iranian people's wrath? Not to my knowledge.

The tomb of Esther is in Hamedan; Cyrus freed the Jews from Captivity and allowed his subjects to worship their own Gods?

How far have we degenerated to prevent the Bahaiis not to worship as they like? and treat them as non-persons?

You probably remember that under the Shah, people used to drink in public, but do prayers in private. Now, it is just the reverse: prayers in public, but sex/drugs/whatever goes in private.

This does not bode well for any society, especially one whose government claims to be the vanguard of Islamic "democracry".

I am reminded of the good old "Soviet" days in Moscow. And whatever became of that??

Please ask yourself this question? What kind of society do you wish to leave for the youth of Iran?

Please, next time, be a bit reflective instead of "knee-jerk" anti Americanism. It is not the Americans that sell Iranians cheap French-made cars that catch on fire and burn their passengers? It is not the Americans that keep delaying completing the Bushehr Nuclear Plant while sending us bills for jobs not complete?

Stop your visceral anti-Americanism.

You could be a friend of America or at least neutral to it, but not deprive your people of educational opportunties that a generation of us obtained in America's schools, including Columbia.

Let the youth of Iran speak their mind and please let your generation of venomous old men step aside. You have done enough damage!

Thank You.

Ironman:

Faramarz Fathi:
America is a republic which means our government is our people, Iran is someother thing run by mullahs who hide behind a facade - they are not the voice of the people. If you hate American foreign policy then you hate Americans.

The Dude:
Your statements indicate that you believe that the Iranian nuclear power program is peaceful. If that is so you are the only one.

Coca-Cola man:

We cannot wake up and face reality...too buxy watching TV!

Jinx:

Bravo AWABNAVI! Well said....!

awabnavi:

"Your militant, totally inflexible leaders having been singing the same tune for years and show no signs of bending to the international complaints" --- There we go again. The term "International" is being time and again abused. Who are the "international" community. We don't hear of India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and scores of other countries calling for the scalp of Iran. It is only a handful of western countries, calling themselves the "international community", who are calling for the scalp of Iran. Americans, wake up.

The Dude:

IRONMAN
You really have a mind for fantasy and fiction. When did Iran indicate that it is building a bomb or will commit nuclear annihilation of any one?

In fact, which IAEA report, an agency of the United Nations and the world body tasked with policing world nukes, has CONFIRMED that Iran is building a bomb? This bomb business is just part of the psychological warfare against Iran.

If Iran was in the bomb business, then Ahmadinejad would have not invited the world (as he did 2 years ago) to take a partnership stake in Iranian enrichment activities to produce commercial grade 5% enriched fuel for reactors. And if those war mongers were serious people, they would have formed a "world consortium" (say, France, Canada as U.S. proxy, Britain, Germany, Japan.....) to get in that partnership and have its own eyes and ears to observe what is really going on....just in case they do not believe IAEA. Why didn't take up such offer, if there was any goodwill of any kind?

mohammad allam:

It is true that present iran is different from the past iran.see how iran used America to destroy the sunni taliban power of afghanistan and got the power in afghanistna through Northern alliance.
In iraq it cleaned the old enemy saddam and got power there .it also got power in lebnan when pro american Israel bombarded lebnan.Same can be said about syria.
Thats why iran is differen t. with passage of time iran became more powerfull and followed the dualistic foreighn policy with America.other hand deliberatley or not america strenthen the hands of Iran in hope to provide a ground for shia sunni clash in iraq and it spread in middle east which didnot occured.As Iran has more advance plan to make capture of oil resources of saudia by the shia inhabitant and making more powerfull then challeneg the might of israel and America in the middle east.

Bruce M Smith:

Bravo, Dr. Ettefagh, another superb commentary. Since you have a liking for British sayings, I'll share one I heard years ago: "America is the only empire that went from barbarism to decadence without even passing through civilisation".
Lee Bollinger's disgraceful introduction of a head of state to speak puts American not ahead - but behind - more enlightened countries. True junk society verbage. Yet Prez Ahmedinjad in fact won the debate: He asked 2 questions no one can answer. #1. If America "won" in Iraq..what is our army still doing there? #2. If the Holacast is in fact a European crime, why are Palestinians paying for it with their land? These are not questions of a cruel and petty dictator....

Faramarz Fathi:


Ironman:
Faramarz Fathi:

"the issue is not that I need to learn more about Iranians - the issue is Iran needs to stop threatening nuclear annihilation.

I have heard that internal Iranian opinion is that all this "Death to America" is just sloganeering. I got news for you - we take it seriously."

You are the only person in the world claiming Iran is threatening anyone with nuclear annihilations.
You would be surprised to learn how much American people have in common with the Iranian people.
The Iranian people love American people but have everything in the world against the oppressive and inhuman American foreign policies in the region. When they shut death to America it entirely reflects their anger and sufferings as a result of a brutal American foreign policies.

Faramarz Fathi:

Benjamin Banta, University of Delaware:

Quoting "I'm not going to get into a debate over why the U.S. can have nukes and Iran shouldn't - the literature of Democratic Peace theory does well enough to explain."

Does it ???
It certainly does not in US case. , I for one, have always argued that the US could have achieved the same results by dropping the same two bombs on an uninhabited areas in Japan and no one has so far proven me wrong.

"I'm not going to debate whether Israel has committed attrocities against Muslims - Just War theory explains quite well why it hasn't."

Does it ???
Still after Sixty years people are looking for explanations why Arabs were kicked out of their houses and lands with machine guns behind their heads.

"And I'm not going to debate the right of Israel to exist - it does. "

I pray so. I am against any bloodshed regardless of people's nationality and religion.
However, the history teaches us differently. The oppressors have had common fates and unpleasant ones. Whether they are in Iran or Israel let the time tell us their fates.

"All one needs to know is that the international community would be fine with Iranian peaceful nuclear power, except that Iran refuses to let the international community garauntee that it is peaceful. Ahmendinijad's evasions, and this objective fact, point unmistakably to the real problem with Iran."

An independent look at IAEA report on Iran's cooperation with the agency will influence a change of attitude on your part towards Iran's nuclear energy program. It is not President Ahmadijejad's evasion that you have no tolerance for. It is his independence from Jews and Zionists that you have no tolerance for.


Ironman:

What is with all the anti-Israeli talk? The author wrote about Iran and we added the recent visit of the President of Iran to Columbia University. Why is this being driven to Israel? Perhaps some people are letting their inevitable bias show through.

Ironman:

The Dude:
We are discussing talk being used as a stalling tactic while our self-stated enemy gets the bomb - what does that have to do with Hitler being elected?

Ironman:

Faramarz Fathi:

the issue is not that I need to learn more about Iranians - the issue is Iran needs to stop threatening nuclear annihilation.

I have heard that internal Iranian opinion is that all this "Death to America" is just sloganeering. I got news for you - we take it seriously.

Faramarz Fathi:

CYRUS THE GREAT:

Appropriately and interestingly enough, The Iranian Jews outside Iran have greater preference to opt for their partners from Iran regardless of their partner's religion than the non-Jewish Iranians.

Faramarz Fathi:

The Jewish and Zionist owned Media through continuous vilification of Iran have made it impossible for the ordinaries to learn about Persians, their culture and their mentalities towards all sorts subjects.
One would benefit greatly if he or she approaches this in an unbias manner .

colorado kool aid:

And there were Germans in the late 30s declaring how Europe must accept Hitler and the German demands as well. Churchill decided it was necessary to "war war" instead of "jaw jaw" with the German dictator and I'm sure his judgement about Iran and Ahmedinejad would not be that of this Iranian apologist. The only mindset that is indecipherable belongs to Dr. Ettefagh and those who drink the kool-aid about how benign and loveable Iran is and how evil and mean the United States is. This man and his advice would lead us - and the world - into a very dangerous place. Ignore it.

Rock Star:

Good views and observations.
Need more talk and less bully behaviour. It was very rude to speak to the president of a country in that way, even though we Americans may disagree with them.
If the two countries diplomatically recognise each other, they must have meet minimum standards of civil behaviour. And in a unversity? It is a requirement.

Rainman:

Talking is definitely, definitely better.

It is also because I could have my Cuban cigars...always on Fridays, definitely on Fridays, not Saturdays!

The Dude:

IRONMAN
You ought to fast forward to the 21st century. First of all, both Hitler and Bush were elected! It is a fact.

Secondly, the chance of "nuclear hell" happening is zero. USA is the only country that has used nukes, and essentially out of intolerance. All other nuclear powers have relied on nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Objectively, you should also listen closely what Ahmadinejad has said: the age of nukes has passed as it was a weapon for post-WWII era of about 50 years ago. USA has nukes but that has not helped in Iraq, USSR had nukes but those weapons didnot stop the dissolution of USSR.

Finally, any nation that has the knowledge and science and the will to build a nuclear bomb is smart enough not to use it as a first strike, save perhaps for USA (as proven in history).

So, the nuclear weapon story is baloney. It is mere Israeli propaganda to divert attention from the real problem in the Middle East. Even if Iran rolls over and plays dead tomorrow, and Ahmadinejad shaves and all mullahs throw away their turban, the crux of the Middle East problem --OCCUPATION -- (of Iraq and of Palestine and the Apartheid racists regime of Israel) will still be in its place.

Faramarz Fathi:


Ironman:

I am confident a little studying and learning more about Persian culture and its people will influence a change of attitude on your part towards Iranians.

Faarmarz Fathi:

Jack:
"Lets have President Bush answer question by Middle Eastern reporters and see how he is able to answer."

Not a chance.
Mr. Bush is too happy to remain within his sanctuary in WH and content with reporters to ask questions within his intelligence perimeter and likewise, questions not to upset the Jews or participate in audience friendly only events.

Ironman:

The Dude: I like your posting and I don't disagree that engagement is better than isolation. I am simply saying that Iran is threatening nuclear hell and we ought to take them seriously and do something about it before we lose LA. In the 1930s Hitler threatening and the world talked and talked and talked and talked and enabled a world war.

Riddle me this Batman - What if endless talking once again leads us to let our guard down and then to world war?

Faramarz Fathi:

Intellectual Integrity:
Quoting "Talk about intellectual bankruptcy! No wonder most of the Middle East (not all) stands little chance for a stable, functioning society in this century." End of quote.


First and foremost,It would be void of any intellectual integrity not to distingush between peoples of ME and their leaders.

And, we all have US to thank for either installing or protecting dictators in the region with the exception of Iran and Israel, whose survivals solely depends on US protection despite their people's desire to be a democratic functioning societies.
Generally speaking, Iran is paying a heavy price for being independent and disobedient of US and needless to mention, being vilified consistently.
I have a strong feeling the Iranians are content with this trade off.


Idea Man:

How about Bush speaking at an Iranian University, or better yet at Baghdad U?

Hick from texas:

Very true.....

66/2:


Very correct observations. Thank you.

Voter:

I think there should be referendum in USA to ask 2 questions:

a) support current policy of USA and Israel or rethink it; and

b) resume diplomatic relations with Iran and set all of the past aside.

Let the people of USA think for themselves. Politicians must serve the people, not dictate and not serve the interest of a foreign country called Israel.

Double D:

DINGS above has excellent observations. Great article too!

Dings:

Peace is proving elusive to us in so many parts of the world; it should really lead us into thinking as to whether there is something fundamentally flawed in our societies, in our Governments, in our abilities or the lack of it, to arrive at a key common ground on the reason(s) for continued failed efforts to stop battles, wars etc once they have started, especially in this generation.

One of my friends posted for a bank in Sri Lanka, where he had shifted after a few years in the Middle-East, had the following candid observation: "War has become a business"

It's been more than a year since he made that observation to me and each and every time, when I see, read or engage in discussions on "war and peace" so to say, whether it is the Middle-East, Sri Lanka, India-Pak, Israel-Palestine, Al Qaeda etc, one cannot help but embrace the view that somewhere, in some sense, it is true that war has indeed become business; yet the media rarely talks about it; the intellectuals always choose not to bring it up in any debate or discussion and politicians ofcourse are happy being completely oblivious to it.

However, it is time that companies, institutions, whether Government-backed or private, that engage in businesses related to the military or arms or ammunitions should come under far more scrutiny than is currently the case. Their customers, order-books, new weapon discoveries, markets, growth rates should indeed be available for public information and analysis. The current veil of secrecy only suits the politicians and vested interests and they often are smart to ensure that battles and wars are fought outside their homelands and through proxies viz Iran supporting Hamas; US being the biggest supplier of arms to Taiwan.

If activists were to focus their efforts on this cause, surely their efforts would be far more rewarding and impactful.

what a load...:

to GARY above...
You must have been absent for all history lessons. Remember Yalta? When America, Britain and USSR agreed to divide, i.e. partition, Europe into influence zones? Gee.....who is the silly nit-wit now?

Never mind that Americans subsequently tried to go against their own deal in Yalta, and never mind that America has only itself to blame for all the suffering of Eastern Europeans until 1990.....in fact, you should never mind anyhow!


Goozoo:

For those that do not have enough knowledge of history, Kermit Roosevelt Sr. was the project leader and the CIA officer in the 1953 coup in Iran that installed the Shah.

The Dude:

To IRONMAN
Sir, on the coldest days of the Cold War, USA and USSR had diplomatic relations, periodical dialogue and summits. They met and talked and they disagreed, but one side didn't call the other stupid or "terrorist" or "evil". And, it was talk....that famous Reagan-Gorbachev one-on-one walk on a cold Geneva winter day that turned things around. Ditto for USA and China: there were established channesl of communication.

Right now, the danger is in the fact that American politicians (R or D) have mortgaged their political future and American policy in the Middle East and standing in the world to the Israeli lobby which has a much more narrow, myopic view of the region and thus diplomacy is now confused with schoolyard bully talk.

Ahmadinejad clarified himself at his UN press conference about the "wipe out" of Israel: He called for a free and fair election in all of Palestine for all residents, Jewish or not, to choose their own future. He correctly observed that the USSR also disappeared-- with the vote of the people! He also observed that nukes have not helped USA in Iraq, nukes did not help the dissolution of the USSR and the era of nukes has passed.

Against this kind of fair logic, America looks very silly and petty indeed.

Cayambe:

Dear Ali,
I can’t say I like your piece. I don’t. On the other hand, I largely agree with its substance. I would point out however, that your stereotype of an “American” is not very representative; something that is readily apparent in the wealth of comment postings on PostGlobal.

Kermit Roosevelt Jr.:
As an American I was pleased with and proud of your response to Mr. Ettefagh. It did at least acknowledge the existence of some of our more serious faults and thus gives lie to his oversimplified American stereotype. Having said that, I have to disagree with you about the ease with which our human rights reputation will be restored abroad. It is not just the absence of judicial procedures in processing prisoners, but the undisciplined and wanton manner some of our forces behave in the field. I’m sorry, but if you read the detailed reporting on the trials of some of our soldiers, on the actions of thousands of contract mercenaries in our employ, on mistaken bombing targets, etc., we have to recognize that we have real cultural problems within our armed forces. We are not the good guys in this one, and it will take a long long time to get the good back. It could be worse. At least we don’t drill out peoples brains with a half inch drill.


WALA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:

GARY: (post right above)

The French word is "Voila"- not "Wala."

Good golly miss molly! This is why the world ridicules our nation - one where 85-90% don't even have a passport.
Wala, indeed!!!

And before you start advocating the Nuking of nations - remember, the US hasn't even had a normal conventional war inflicted on its mainland. Americans have never encountered aerial and indiscriminate bombardments. Where entire cities and populations, whether left, right, those who know the difference between "Voila" and "Wala", those who don't, everyone - has to spend their nights in bunkers. Only such people would have the gumption to talk of brazenly bombing people.

gary:

talk down to somebody else nit-wit. the riddle about russia by churchill was originally about china. anyway,the riddle russia hid was gulags and millions murdered. if america knew this in 1945,PATTON would have been able to nuke the kremlin. wala,no cold war.

Darden Cavalcade:

There are some societies that should just give each other a wide berth. Iran and the United States are two such societies.

In my circle of sensible friends the subject of Iran gives rise to passionate opinions. Nearly all are negative. Nearly all express some degree of hatred that originates from the hostage episode.

Iranians, as I understand, it reciprocate in full. Doubtless, Iranian grievances are real and true.

When I point out to my friends that none of us has encountered an Iranian citizen in over 30 years, and most Iranians have never met an American, it seems to make no impression.

So many factors -- historical grievance, contemporary crises, shifts in the balance of power (mostly toward the US...those who count the US out of the game have been mistaken for 150 years...and they are mistaken now), and the hardening of entire populations as they rally to their ensigns of nationalism -- adduce to only one conclusion. War is coming. If ordinary Americans and Iranians look at each other and cannot see human beings, then there is no hope. The war will be a reckoning between cultures whose members believe the other has no right to exist.

In the history to be written when this tragedy ends, the wise will ask how well-meant opinion-logs like this one contributed to the estrangement of peoples and led to genocidal destruction. It is a question worth considering right now.

Dwight:

Figures you would say something like that. tell us, who are you financing?

CYRUS THE GREAT:

The LARGEST JEWISH POPULATION in the Middle East is in Iran (outside of Israel.)
A little fact not much talked of. Iranian Jews are proud of their heritage, have representation in government and are free to leave Iran - indeed are regularly inivited by Israel to emigrate.
I'm so BORED of painting Iran as an anti-semitic nation.

They supported the ANC, the IRA and the PLO - when their Revolution broke out. All three groups being underdogs, which rightly or not, the Revolutionaries symathised with.
ANC: Nelson Mandela has openly thanked Iran for years of support.
IRA: An Avenue, running by the British Embassy is called "Bobby Sands Avenue" - after the Irish hunger striker.
PLO: The Palestinian story is well known.

To manipulate this position - whereby two of the above groups aren't even in the Middle East - as an anti-semitic position, is manipulative and duplicitous.

Cyrus would be turning in his grave.

CYRUS THE GREAT:

The LARGEST JEWISH POPULATION in the Middle East is in Iran (outside of Israel.)
A little fact not much talked of. Iranian Jews are proud of their heritage, have representation in government and are free to leave Iran - indeed are regularly inivited by Israel to emigrate.
I'm so BORED of painting Iran as an anti-semitic nation.

They supported the ANC, the IRA and the PLO - when their Revolution broke out. All three groups being underdogs, which rightly or not, the Revolutionaries symathised with.
ANC: Nelson Mandela has openly thanked Iran for years of support.
IRA: An Avenue, running by the British Embassy is called "Bobby Sands Avenue" - after the Irish hunger striker.
PLO: The Palestinian story is well known.

To manipulate this position - whereby two of the above groups aren't even in the Middle East - as an anti-semitic position, is manipulative and duplicitous.

Cyrus would be turning in his grave.

Valerie Lee:

I appreciate your views that are in direct opposition to our government's propaganda and "group think." Until we can have an open and honest debate with the leaders from all foreign lands, not just the countries that operate according to our wishes, our vision for a peaceful world will not be realized. I'm anxiously awaiting the anticipated release of the documentary about former president Jimmy Carter, a true Christian and a leader in the quest for a peaceful world.

ItsNotFair:

John-Michael,

You have written alot of words to say that the world is not fair. So what are you complaining about? Ahmadi-Nejad said regarding Iran's nuclear program: "case closed". It's not really fair for Iran to close the case so soon. But hey, nothing is fair, as you indicated. "Past cannot be undone". So I guess by your own ideology you need to live with it.

Anonymous:

Why doesn't the government start some sort of direct dialog with Iran, despite I.R.'s repeated messages that they are willing to talk to the US government? I recall 3 times that they made this suggestion in the last 10 years or so (the last one being a few days ago by Ahmadinejad). Isn't that in the interest of the United States? who's preventing it? and why? this will also help with the moderate movement inside Iran, in all aspects. Do you know that if some day, regardless of who is in power in Iran, if there were trade relations between the 2 countries it would add up to a good chunk of surplus in the trade for U.S.? or should we have more no-bid contracts for future generations to foot the bill (just like the Iraq war which is not being paid now and being charged to future generations) to bomb and kill Iranians also?
is this in the interest of "we the people"?

David:

Michael Ledeen is another Israeli douche bag that is trying to suck blood and treasure out of the US and pipe it into Israel. While our Social Security is nearing bankruptcy and our infrastructure is crumbling (our bridges are falling, Manhattan is literally falling apart), we send Billions of dollars of our tax money to Israel. We are bleeding money and the blood of our sons and daughters in Iraq, because Israeli lobby took us to war.

Watch any of the presidential debates on either party. There is a litmus-test that each candidate must pass in order to be able to be a candidate for presidency. They must all pledge their unconditional surrender to the Israeli lobby.

I’m sick of it. @#$% enough is enough

Ironman:

How very interesting. I hear the threats and I say we ought to take them seriously and the response is that I am told to stop smoking something and to grow up.

Perhaps you ought to reconsider the endless mortal threats because we hear you and we take it seriously.....and we'll act to prevent the hell you promise.

AMviennaVA:

IRONMAN: You really must stop smoking and inhaling. It's gotten to your head.

Ironman:

The danger the author represents is not that he is talking, the danger is that he is distracting.

Once the Iranians stall long enough and get the bomb and give it to their bully-boys to incinerate their avowed enemies - who do we talk to then? Who do we blame for stalling and lying and creating confusion? Do we revisit this author and ask him his opinion of how the Iranians are peaceful and misunderstood?

The point is simple - Iran is publically threatening to wipe Israel from the map and they are trying deparately to get the weapon to do it. Why do you not believe them?

KAHOOR@YAHOO.COM:

I wonder this big defense of Ahmadi Nejad and his policies in Iran and the comparison of the 30 years ago.I have always written about the brutality of the " SAVAK " the Shah's secret police but the present secret police of the Clerics are more brutal than that of SAVAK, as the record reveals that the hanging of the Iranians in collection and the presence of the large spectators have become the daily show of the authorities in Tehran. Despite the 15 million Baloch Sunni and the same Kurd Sunni population,the religion of the constitution of Iran is based on shiite faith,and no Sunni can pray freely even in their own provinces and can not get the birth certificate of his child with a Sunni name and can't get any employment if he is not converted to shiite religion.

bunny:

Good observations.
We need objective debate and we have to rethink many things. Rethinking is not wrong and it is not defeat.
Time to break this bubble.

Meydoone Shush:

IRONMAN
The author is an enemy of mankind because he prefers talks and debate? Have you run out of your mind control medicine again?

Grow up dude.....no one needs your saving of the world.

Irooni in Shiraz, Iran:

this IRONMAN poster must be smoking something really strong.....
Americans didn't save the world, as you say. They saved their European cousins. All financial aid that flowed from America to Europe was simple family-related help in the time of need.

What did Iran do during WWII? Nothing.
WWII had nothing to do with Iran. Both world wars were European. Europeans savagely killed each other in those wars. The war with Japan was also unrelated to the Middle East and Iran.

I remind you that USA is the only country that has used the nuclear bomb on people, so you think every other country wants nuclear technology just for war purposes. The rest of the world have used the nuclear bombs as a guarantor of peace.

Obviously you do not know enough about history. Read about the Tehran Conference and Bridge of Victory. Then you can understand the positive role that Iran played. Iran was also a safe passage route for Polish Jews that came to Iran in transit and then went to America from southern ports. Some stayed in Iran.

The world has changed since WWII. A lot! But, and as the writer has said, you Americans are still stuck in the middle of last century.

Ironman:

I consider Dr. Ali Ettefagh to be an enemy of mankind. His pseudo-rational argument is geared to lull us into an endless loop of self-doubt so that Iran has the time it needs to build the nuclear bomb.

The reason America has the right to pass judgment on the world is because it is America that has been, and will again, be called upon to save the world. How much world-saving did Iran do during WWII? If we have to pick up the pieces of madness we get to be the ones who judge others. Deal with it.

neutral:

This story of America's support for Iranian gays is just another cheap ruse, as the author said.

There is a don't ask-don't tell unwritten rule in all of Middle East be it in Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran (places I have visited) and probably elsewhere. Even in India, it is a criminal act to engage in a homosexual act.

In all of these countries, the gay or homosexual population is small and their behaviours are not like western homosexuals as for demanding gay marriages, etc. Also the male-male or female-female personal relationships in these countries are a lot less sexual and a lot more about friendship. This western style gay behaviour is completely foreign to Middle Eastner cultures, even to Indians and Pakistanis, Russians, Turks, etc.
Making politics out of differences in cultural values is a desparate act of ignorance or a cheap shot.

saj:

that was a good one- America behind the Iron curtain! how true

cheragh:
bala srini:

it is truly like a blind men's description of an elephant when it comes to american foreign policy in middle-east and west asia.we allowed the failed state of pakistan to develop the nuclear proliferation and saudi-arabia to become rabidly fundementalist islamic all in the name of our self interest.now we cry foul when iran is openly defying us.WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.just you wait when china starts its defiance then we are truly up the creek without a paddle.when are we going to wakeup and show our true and tested intellectual and moral supremacy rather than some shortsighted california congressman and senator highjack american foreign policy.

Ahmad:

I am a little surprised to see so many Americans care about gays in Iran. Everyday in US, you can read about crimes against gays. They are hated by the general population and have had to segregate themselves into certain areas in large cities to find security in numbers. A couple of guys raped a young boy in Iran and unlike in US, he was not their kid brother or their cousin so the fammily raised hell and the boys were punished according to Irania law. Case closed. If you actually are intersted in finding out something about gays in Iran read this article.

http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=3a90d68c4ee619b83cd450f0661f0343

AMviennaVA:

John-Michael: Hello again.

We purchased many of those in Gitmo. The Afghan tribes, knowing that we were offering a reward grabbed individuals they did not like and turned them over to us, in exchange for the reward.

About proxies and the like: if we stopped creating them in Iraq, and left, we could complain about what Iran is doing. The fact is that Iran was not funding any proxies in Iraq till after we went there. To use an example I posted elsewhere, if Iran (by example) invaded and occupied Mexico, I would expect the US to arm and support any resistance to it in Mexico. Any complaint by Iran (in this case) would be irrelevant. It is incumbent on the invader to leave; not for anyone else to accomodate the invasion.

About the Palestinians, you posted "It is not fair or right that Israel was founded on Palestinian land. It is not fair or right that the US and other powers have meddled in the affairs of the ME. Colonialism was not fair or right." And I will repeat my question: So what do you think we (the SUPERPOWER) should do about it? As I see it, we either stop financing Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the so-called 'wall' and insist that Israel complies with the UN resolutions (afterall, Bush claimed that Iraq's non-compliance was justification for an invasion!), OR ... what? Given our subservience to Isareli actions, the only conclusion is that we advocate killing the Palestinians. Not in words, but definitely by lack of action on the one hand, and unconditional support for the occupier and oppressor. Saying that the two state solution is viable, etc. is empty rhetoric, because the actions we take and actions we support, preclude it.

Especially this, our stance towards the Palestinians, renders us not just amoral but immoral as well.

John-Michael:

amviennava

I never said anything about defending truth and justice. Those platitudes are what predominantly amoral state actors use to sell their policies to the moral citizenry.

I should not have used the word terrorist. The word has been over used and abused for so long that it really does not mean much. There really is not a good word for it when governments use proxy, irregular forces that employ such tactics as bombings often of innocent, non-military targets. The training and arming of various factions in Iraq today would be such a case.

I have not heard about the purchasing of random Muslims from tribes and find it hard to believe not because we are necessarily to good for that but because it does not make any sense.

I have no idea how you arrived at the notion that the (as though there is only one) rational conclusion of my words is that we should kill all the Palestinians. First of all that is the worst "solution" to the problem imaginable. Second, all I said that the past cannot be undone. Israel is there and so it shall remain. I did not mention, imply, or insinuate anything beyond that. There is no reason why there cannot be a Palestinian state intertwined with Israel. That would seem to be the only realistic solution. The Iranian talk of a referendum is empty rhetoric. Israel is a Jewish state and unless its Jewish citizenry wants that to change it never will. So what about the right to self determination you ask? Well the dual state option would essentially fulfill that right.

Jinx:

In essence you want Iran to prove a negative. Isn't that stupid?

Secondly, "rewarding Iran" or compensating means what, exactly?
Save for some banana republic, or a creampuff as the writer has said, which sovereign country can say what "reward" or "compensation" is enough in exchange for giving up the RIGHT of that country under an international treaty, NPT, especially when there is nothing except junk and hype on may be speculation. There is no firm evidence. There are international inspections in accordance with international law.

The Russians are not that stupid to let Iran develop nuclear weapons as a side show to a nuclear reactor for power, especially when you consider that the nuclear power plant in question is EXACTLY the same kind and technology that Jimmy Carter offered to North Korea in exchange with their graphite cooled plutonium producing reactor. Can we also ask the Israelis to prove the same negative on nuclear weapons?

Double standards of the absurd kind, perhaps? Or just simply stupid logic that has no other buyers outside the bubble of USA?

John-Michael:

@Jinx

The standards are subjective and that is not the height of fairness. Reality and reasonable necessity often are not fair.

I do not see where I used double standards in the Gitmo discussion. There is a bit with Iran in the sense that America and Europe are demanding certain conditions be met on the nuclear issue from Iran, and we would balk if another country made similar demands on us. To that I say, deal with it. Iran has continuously shown itself to be an unreliable negotiating partner by using diplomacy as a stall tactic. While a dialogue between Iranians and Americans is undeniably a good idea for the future of both our nations, the time for dialogue on the nuclear issue is over. It is now time for compliance. We need to see the program opened up completely and we need to see enrichment take place elsewhere. That is an affront to Iran's sovereignty, but quite frankly global security is more important. Iran will also be well compensated for the sacrifice.

The Dude:

I wonder what is the Iranian name for Freedom Fries?

The Dude:

I wonder what is the Iranian name for Freedom Fries?

AMviennaVA:

John-Michael: I can actually accept much of what you wrote, as long as I don't also have to read about us defending truth, justice, etc. If you want to take the 'pragmatic' stance, please do be consistent; and truthful.

Has Iran used 'terrorist tactics'? I actually do not believe so. We definitely label 'terrorist' those we do not like. Saddam Hussein was a terrorist but Pinochet was authoritarian. Hogwash! It is crap like that that discredits the 'terrorist' label. (Plus the fact that EVERY SINGLE resistance and liberation movement has been labelled terrorist).

As far as Iraq is concerned, we certatinly cannot complain that anyone else is 'distabilizing' it. Afterall, we are the ones who went 10000 or so miles to invade a country for no reason. For that matter, it is hard to think of a year (say since 1980) when we were not at war against someone; or using a proxy or two to fight a war for us. Then again, considering how quickly we changed our tune with N.Korea, do you blame any country for wanting to have a little nuclear technology? We certainly acted the part of the bully who ran home to mama as soon as we got nicked a little.

About 'enemy combatants' (a weasel term) and Gitmo you wrote "You seem to think that we have no reason for imprisoning the inmates there. I wonder then what selection criteria was used. Perhaps we just picked Muslim males around the world at random." That is ironic, because we DID. Many were actually PURCHASED from tribes that are known for such trafficking. To this day there are many in prison because we don't know where to return them!!! Perhaps you think of prison as another term for home away from home.

Lastly you said, "It is not fair or right that Israel was founded on Palestinian land. It is not fair or right that the US and other powers have meddled in the affairs of the ME. Colonialism was not fair or right." So what do you think we (the SUPERPOWER) should do about it? Kill of the Palestinians? That by the way is the rational conclusion of YOUR words.

Jinx:

JOHN-MICHAEL
But you are applying double standards and subjective standards.

ROBERT G. HARRIS
If you are so right and so wonderful (of an American and as America), how is it that America is ever more isolated in the world, even with your European cousins who first supported you and then left you to fry in your own fat? Why is it that you are losing two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I tend to think that the common factor for all of this bad news is the massive lie that America has piled on itself and others, living in the bubble that the writer above has described. No matter what you say, or how loud you say it, Americans are a mere 5% of world population and must accept world standards, i.e. the UN charter and other international rules.

John-Michael:

@Jinx

I hardly mentioned Iraq and when I did I implied that the invasion had only strengthened Iran's hand. I actually vehemently disagreed with the invasion as I thought it was a horrible idea with far too likely destructive consequences and far too remote possibilities for the stable and prosperous Iraq based on western institutions that I think was the actual primary reason for the invasion. Now that we are there however I believe it to be absolutely imperative that we make every possible effort to at least realize a stable Iraq.

Now to the Gitmo issue
You seem to think that we have no reason for imprisoning the inmates there. I wonder then what selection criteria was used. Perhaps we just picked Muslim males around the world at random.

I am sure that there are innocent and reasonably innocent people in Gitmo. They could have been mixed up with the wrong people or just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. That we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that every inmate was involved in terrorist activities I do not doubt either. The fact of the matter that we are at war and we do not have the luxury of applying such stringent standards to people that we have reason to believe want to murder massive numbers of Americans. You cannot expect public officials to take the very real chance of releasing someone that will be either responsible for or involved in the deaths of thousands of more Americans. We are not detaining the Muslim American population (thank God), but we are erring on the side of caution for the American people. That will entail ruined lives but will save many lives as well. There just are not nice and simple answers.

Anon. 2:58 p.m.:

Dear Ben,

The only thing I "loyally defend" is to try to explain and stop another war that is not necessary and is in no one's interest other than that of extremists' warped desires.

The only thing I loyally try to explain is that killing people and ruining their country (irresepctive of the specific people and country) is against all norms of decency, civility and humanity.

p.s. as is abundantly clear, "paradise" does not exist in any part of our world (but a lot of justifications for fostering hate and more wars do, by some).

(I will respond a bit more to your comments later)

Robert Harris:

9/26/07

President Lee Bollinger was shockingly blunt in his opening assessment of Mr. Ahmedinejad. I apply the words ‘shockingly blunt’ only because it has become so rare in our society to hear any person of position exhibit the integrity too actually: “say what they mean”.

This maxim was never meant to be taken as an absolute – rather it was intended to be applied as an ethical ‘guide post’ in the conduct of honest relations.

Decades of American society now having been remolded in the image of hissing sleazy lawyers - who measure successful business models as those who can out trick and out deceive all others and thus win the prize – has contaminated and diminished subjects like virtue and dignity to a glum level of quaint relics.

President Bollinger’s words were indeed stern. I have read and hear much ‘distraction’ about Mr. Bollinger’s harsh statements about both Iran and their Persian Prince of “pretzel logic”, who masquerades as some sort of academic principal. < according to his opinion of himself).

What I have not read or hear is any plausible statements nor believable spokes persons denying or rejecting any of the clear points charged by President Bollinger and directed at Ahmedinejad and Iran – even though Mr. Ahmedinejad could have had the last word with his explaining or responding to the charges… he chose instead to mutter a card Blanche denial, and then changed the subject.

I was surprised. Who is this guy trying to portray himself as being – a President, or is he a crackpot completely detached from reality like some “Bagdad Bob” type.

To be sure, any visitor who comes genuinely in friendship should be greeted with friendship. But, the veiled deceivers – ‘liars’ by any other name – cloaked in false pretences – and persons known to harbor belligerent hostility, have no case for being treated with friendly favor or respectful formality, beyond civil courtesies and that is more than they are due.

There is one common connection that I have keenly noticed about Middle East Muslims, whether prince or pauper. It is their common capacity for telling the most ridiculous lies. I do not trust people who would climb a tree to tell you a lie, when they could stand on the ground and tell you the truth… maybe the biggest liar is supposed to get extra virgins or some other such lie that they are being told.

All that is of no matter, the only thing important to remember is that neither their word nor their words can be trusted.

If you, the Columbia student body, wish to get upset with President Lee Bollinger, then you can just get upset with the greater majority of America. He did not state nor ask anything more than what is stated and asked by tens of millions of working American men and women every day all across this country – Mr. Bollinger simply had the integrity to speak out for – without realizing I’m sure - a continent nation of people true to America – but who must strain to be heard.

Thank you sir.

Robert G. Harris

Robert Harris:

9/26/07

President Lee Bollinger was shockingly blunt in his opening assessment of Mr. Ahmedinejad. I apply the words ‘shockingly blunt’ only because it has become so rare in our society to hear any person of position exhibit the integrity too actually: “say what they mean”.

This maxim was never meant to be taken as an absolute – rather it was intended to be applied as an ethical ‘guide post’ in the conduct of honest relations.

Decades of American society now having been remolded in the image of hissing sleazy lawyers - who measure successful business models as those who can out trick and out deceive all others and thus win the prize – has contaminated and diminished subjects like virtue and dignity to a glum level of quaint relics.

President Bollinger’s words were indeed stern. I have read and hear much ‘distraction’ about Mr. Bollinger’s harsh statements about both Iran and their Persian Prince of “pretzel logic”, who masquerades as some sort of academic principal. < according to his opinion of himself).

What I have not read or hear is any plausible statements nor believable spokes persons denying or rejecting any of the clear points charged by President Bollinger and directed at Ahmedinejad and Iran – even though Mr. Ahmedinejad could have had the last word with his explaining or responding to the charges… he chose instead to mutter a card Blanche denial, and then changed the subject.

I was surprised. Who is this guy trying to portray himself as being – a President, or is he a crackpot completely detached from reality like some “Bagdad Bob” type.

To be sure, any visitor who comes genuinely in friendship should be greeted with friendship. But, the veiled deceivers – ‘liars’ by any other name – cloaked in false pretences – and persons known to harbor belligerent hostility, have no case for being treated with friendly favor or respectful formality, beyond civil courtesies and that is more than they are due.

There is one common connection that I have keenly noticed about Middle East Muslims, whether prince or pauper. It is their common capacity for telling the most ridiculous lies. I do not trust people who would climb a tree to tell you a lie, when they could stand on the ground and tell you the truth… maybe the biggest liar is supposed to get extra virgins or some other such lie that they are being told.

All that is of no matter, the only thing important to remember is that neither their word nor their words can be trusted.

If you, the Columbia student body, wish to get upset with President Lee Bollinger, then you can just get upset with the greater majority of America. He did not state nor ask anything more than what is stated and asked by tens of millions of working American men and women every day all across this country – Mr. Bollinger simply had the integrity to speak out for – without realizing I’m sure - a continent nation of people true to America – but who must strain to be heard.

Thank you sir.

Robert G. Harris

Ben Graham:

Dear Anonymous:

You say that you disapprove of the persecution of the Bahai's in Iran, but then claim they are not murdered or imprisoned?

Kindly consider this year 2003 report from a French human rights organization: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/ir0108a.pdf

Since you have access to a computer, try conducting a Google search based on: "Baha'i persecution" "Iran". Baha'is, you will find, are not only executed and imprisoned, they also cannot make a living because educational and advantageous economic activities, plus the right to practice their religion, are activities barred by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Simply put, as a matter of Islamic decree, Bahai's are deemed "heretics" in this Islamic paradise that you loyally defend.

Regards

jinx:

To Anonymous at 10:53

Bring 'em on!
Mission Accomplished!
Cakewalk.....Liberator!
Freedom in Iraq!
Democracy and freedom delivered on the back of a tank....yeah, sure!

Enemy Combatants on fair evidence? Give me a break! Why is it that you have not come up with a single piece of "fair" evidence to convict the people in Gitmo?

You must be one of those few that has not noticed that your tax dollars are paying for losing a war and losing face all over the world.

John-Michael:

I forgot to author the 10:53 post

Anonymous:

Yes, we ignorant unthinking Americans need to open our eyes say yeah to a nuclear armed Iran and 'piss off' to those Zionist pigs.

Dr Ettefagh the Iranian regime is our enemy. From its foundation the Iranian regime has used terrorist tactics to combat US interests. Its proxies are responsible for a steady trickle and at times a torrent of American deaths. That is to say nothing of the death, destruction, and instability they have sewn through the region.

Plainly put the ME contains a very large portion of the world's most vital resource. The world cannot and will not be held hostage by the vagaries of a hostile regime. That is why the world cannot and will not allow Tehran to have nuclear weapons.

Our foreign policy is not controlled nor unduly influenced by Israel. Our interests in the region happen to often intersect largely due to the actions and inherent threat of Iranian proxies like Hizbollah and to a much smaller extent Hamas.

Your arguments about the hypocrisy of the criticism of Ahmadinejad are not going to convince many here. Yes we have capital punishment for people convicted of crimes so heinous that they are deemed irredeemable by society. I do not agree with it but it is quite a bit different then killing dissidents. We do arrest citizens as enemy combatants when it is believed with sufficient evidence that they are either directly planning to murder massive numbers of innocents or they are directly supporting such a mass murder. We do not jail agitators. The MoveOn.org people do not fear for their freedom let alone for their lives from the government.

It is not fair or right that Israel was founded on Palestinian land. It is not fair or right that the US and other powers have meddled in the affairs of the ME. Colonialism was not fair or right. Slavery was not fair or right. Westerners do not feel good about these things, but reality is what it is and the past cannot be undone.

We are not going to allow a country with a very consistent record of hostility to the US to be the dominant player in the region. That our actions in Iraq have only hastened that potential is irrelevant. Again, that is not fair or right but it is the reality of the situation. The Iranian regime would do well for its citizens to start playing ball. The world order is not going to suddenly change. Being a player in that order is the best and quickest way to increase Iranian wealth and power and peaceful coexistence is the quickest way to change the world order more in favor of states like Iran. Not playing ball makes conflict inevitable. Thats not right but we weigh a lot more. Its not a good fight for Iran to pick.

Anonymous:

Hang Ben!

Anon. 2:58 p.m.:

Ben, You again displayed your extremist views. I disagree with the discrimnation of Bahais, but they're not being beheaded in Iran and nor are they being thrown in jail just because they are Bahai. Are you deliberately misrepresenting the truth? Later today I will respond to the rest of the comments which you have been fed and consider them as the truth, or are deliberately writing to demonize Iranians so the public would approve them being attacked, killed and their country ruined (another war and more people getting killed). I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you just don't know any better and that your knowledge of Iranians and Iran is extremely limited.

harlem man:

Good article, but the writer assumes that America wants to give up the show business circus and enter into real dialogue. In America, we only enter dialogues when we are absolutely sure about the result in advance.

As you can observe, Bush has not met with Putin one-on-one because he does not want the risk of losing the debate.

This is not sustainable, of course. America must find a way to get along and accept others.

Bravo!:

President Ahmadinejad's response to an Israeli reporter at his press conference:

....about wipping off the map, tell me...how did the USSR disappear? By vote of the people!

Objectively, that is a bull's eye hit by the president. Bravo! He exposed the militant nature and presumption of Israelis.....they think they can just bomb their way into any discussion.

Read and wake up!:

Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions

TEHRAN - Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger's insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals.

The following is the full text of the letter.

* * * *

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran, hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country's political parties and groups participated. To assess the
quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the
truth.

Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran's national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah's
dictatorship?

Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own
people?

Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran 's proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration's efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran 's current government to act against the MKO's main base in Iraq?

Was the US invasion of Iraq based on International consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

Why do America's closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

Why is the US displeased with Iran's agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the
Iranian nation and government.

You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.

© 2007 Fars News Agency

Darvaze Ghar:

To poster Hossein;

The first step towards redemption and salvation of oneself by a nation is to fend off aggressors. This means Iranians must not allow absurd attacks on themselves by outsiders so that they can solve their problems, step-by-step. If there is to be order in a society, the president of a country represents the people of that country.

Secondly, and if you think the Yanks are right, please answer this: Are Iranians better off that they were 5 years ago? Especially when you compare them with Iraqis--people in the same league, not Swedes or the Dutch, etc.?

Remember Mr. Hossein that the debate of the world is about Iran as a regional power. Thirty years ago, the debate was about Iran as the cheap gas station to fuel Americans, and 65+ years ago the world powers of the day (Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin) gathered in Tehran to meet but didn't bother to invite the king of their host country as a polite gesture. Hell of a change in two generations, isn't it?

Hossein:

Mr. Etefagh,

Instead of selectively picking points made by Lee Bollinger about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and feeling nationalistic about Mr. Bollinger's speech, take a realistic and impartial look at Iran, its people, and the terrible economic, social, and political condition in Iran. If Mr. Bollinger's speech was pleasing to Zionists, it is none of people of Iran's business. Ahmadinejad and his guiders (Velayate Faghih and all Islamic Republuc government) are criminals who have killed so many innocent people in Iran since beginning of revolution. So, considering insult on Ahmadinejad an insult on Iranian people is a trick by people who ignore Iranian Government's responsibility in all treasons to that great revolution. First, we are better off to take a mirror and look at our own miserable lives, and then start acting nationalistic against others.

Garage keeper:

"You ask the questions but you want the answers the way you want to hear them. This is not a free flow of information. In Iran when you invite a guest, you respect them, that is our tradition."

-- President Mahmood Ahmadinejad

Pretty boy:

The idea of bring the homosexual discussion in a foreign affairs debate is very much like American politics...when they get stuck on real issues such as social security, budget, employment, etc. etc.....all of a sudden, a big debate about gay rights appears on the scene.

Be it as it may, gays in most countries are a very small minority. Yes, they have rights too but the matter is best left to social custom of each country. Americans must not tell Iranians or Saudis what to do about their women or their gays, and vice versa. There are much more important, and universal, topics to be discussed: Guantanamo, occupation of other lands, the right to vote.

Obstreperous:


Victoria.

We saw it.

He had every right to say what he said but he should NOT have invited that person in the first place.

PEOPLE ARE NOW TRYING TO TO MAKE LAWS TO STOP THESE PEOPLE (FOR WANT OF A BETTER WORD) GAINING ENTRY INTO THE US.

HOORAY.

SOME SENSE AT LAST!!!!!!

The UN needs to be leveled.

Here is just one reason why.

http://www.eyeontheun.org/view.asp?l=21&p=142

VICTORIA:

im wondering if some of the posters here actually saw the speech to have an opinion about it.
(it was aired 3 times on c-span- but 2x at 4 in the morning, and unscheduled- i happened to catch it because im up for ramadan preparing our pre-dawn meal.)

i saw disgraceful and embarrassing behavior on the part of the president of columbia-

all it proves to the world at large is that even the academia in america is boorish and without any intellectual capacity to dispute without rancor.


ahmadinejad asked 2 questions-

they actually WERE non-responded to in this way-
1) Answer a question with a question.

that was a response

2) When you can't think of a question to respond with, provide an obtuse answer.

actually there was no attempt at an obtuse answer-

3) When all else fails, point out the faults of the man, woman, country asking the question, and then fail to answer the actual question.

well, we certainly know that is what happened.

what a disastrous example we set to others.

Verbatim:

Was Columbia University wrong to invite Ahmadinejad to speak in a public forum? The answer depends on what the expectations were; one can assume that if good faith was present, some benefit to the students was expected from it.

At the least,it was safe to assume, as Woodrow Wilson put it in a speech that "..if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."

Was good faith present at the time of the invitation? No need to speculate on that either way, suffice it to say it was a bold experiment.

We could speculate--out of kindness for Mr.Bollinger,-- that he felt some regret for the experiment, once the displeasure it created was made fully clear to him. Thus Mr. Bollinger set out to pacify the protesters by speaking...
perhaps under duress, and making himself the bigger fool for it, instead of heeding the Wilsonian wisdom and letting Ahmadinejad advertise his foolishness. A poor student of history, this university president.

Let us remember, however, that Mr.Bollinger spoke harshly only of Ahmadinejad, bad as that was for courtesy, stile and fair treatment of a guest.
He did not deride Iran, its people or their collective perception of world affairs, not even their obvious lassitude in tolerating the lamentable conditions imposed on them by their fanatical religious regime. His only target was his guest, whom he introduced, needlessly.

As much as I think that Mr.Ettefagh may also have been under some duress when he sent his broadside aimed, needlessly, at America,its people and their collective perception of word affairs including those which concern Iran, I believe that we ought to call his attention to the fact that by returning Bollinger's affront to America and all Americans makes him, yet, the biggest fool of the three who spoke.
And that does not consider the foolish non-sense, Mr.Ettefagh, which you have employed in order to make Iran something else than what America thinks it is. Actually, America may not be what you think it is!

You, Mr.Ettefagh, have copiously proven true the so-called misconception that some people cannot abide by anyone casting a light upon their leaders and their dark extremist views.
Unless, of course, your life depends on that, in which case I am sorry for you and your lassitude.

victoria:

im wondering if some of the posters here actually saw the speech to have an opinion about it.
(it was aired 3 times on c-span- but 2x at 4 in the morning, and unscheduled- i happened to catch it because im up for ramadan preparing our pre-dawn meal.)

i saw disgraceful and embarrassing behavior on the part of the president of columbia-

all it proves to the world at large is that even the academia in america is boorish and without any intellectual capacity to dispute without rancor.


ahmadinejad asked 2 questions-

they actually WERE non-responded to in this way-
1) Answer a question with a question.

that was a response

2) When you can't think of a question to respond with, provide an obtuse answer.

actually there was no attempt at an obtuse answer-

3) When all else fails, point out the faults of the man, woman, country asking the question, and then fail to answer the actual question.

well, we certainly know that is what happened.

what a disastrous example we set to others.


Blackstone:

Middle Eastern:

Americans have the right to express their opinions, and if they judge the President of Iran to be an unattractive figure they have both the right to make that judgment and the right to express it?

Who gave them the right? Their fathers earned the right by killing those who questioned their authority to think for themselves, believe what they wanted, and speak their minds.

I agree it's not very Middle Eastern.

Connect the Dots:

I never thought I'd say this, but gas stations hate gay people! Yes, I know this is a stretch, but I encourage you to follow your dollar. You pay for gas at your local gas station. That money goes to the gas station owner, who uses it to buy more gas. The gas he buys comes from a corporate refinery. That refinery is owned by a multi national corporation who buys oil on the open market. Saudi Arabi sells oil to this multi national corporation - which ultimately becomes the gas you buy.

Saudi Arabia kills homosexuals who are outed in their country. Your dollar at the local gas station ultimately ends up in the pocket of a person who sanctions killing gays.

So there you have it, gas stations hate gay people!

Down with gas stations!

No Use Arguing:

Our cultures are too different.

I myself understand in the God given freedom of "free-will". Without free-will we cannot truly be put to the test here on Earth.

I believe America is the platform for such a thing. It is not perfect in any way. I don't think it claims to be. unfortunately, corruption is even here.

I have listened to the content of speeches made by the Irania president. Unfortunately, I believe he does not like when people have free-will. Therefore, it sounds too much like a person who demands control...not a person filled with love and respect for others rights. I however, do not live in Iran. I don't know any people living there. So, I cannot say whether or not "first-hand" people are being treated as though they were sheep. Nor can I say if they desire that type of life or not. I only have 2 friends that are Iranian and I do know how they feel about it. They both live in the US...I guess that's a good replacement of any words.

No Use Arguing...the truth eventially is realized over time.

No Use Arguing:

Our cultures are too different.

I myself understand in the God given freedom of "free-will". Without free-will we cannot truly be put to the test here on Earth.

I believe America is the platform for such a thing. It is not perfect in any way. I don't think it claims to be. unfortunately, corruption is even here.

I have listened to the content of speeches made by the Irania president. Unfortunately, I believe he does not like when people have free-will. Therefore, it sounds too much like a person who demands control...not a person filled with love and respect for others rights. I however, do not live in Iran. I don't know any people living there. So, I cannot say whether or not "first-hand" people are being treated as though they were sheep. Nor can I say if they desire that type of life or not. I only have 2 friends that are Iranian and I do know how they feel about it. They both live in the US...I guess that's a good replacement of any words.

No Use Arguing...the truth eventially is realized over time.

No Use Arguing:

Our cultures are too different.

I myself understand in the God given freedom of "free-will". Without free-will we cannot truly be put to the test here on Earth.

I believe America is the platform for such a thing. It is not perfect in any way. I don't think it claims to be. unfortunately, corruption is even here.

I have listened to the content of speeches made by the Irania president. Unfortunately, I believe he does not like when people have free-will. Therefore, it sounds too much like a person who demands control...not a person filled with love and respect for others rights. I however, do not live in Iran. I don't know any people living there. So, I cannot say whether or not "first-hand" people are being treated as though they were sheep. Nor can I say if they desire that type of life or not. I only have 2 friends that are Iranian and I do know how they feel about it. They both live in the US...I guess that's a good replacement of any words.

No Use Arguing...the truth eventially is realized over time.

Panza:

I came away impressed with Ahmadinejad. From the Charlie Rose interview to the Columbia debate (excluding the absurd homosexual comment), Ahmadinejad performed quite well. Surprisngly, he reminded me a bit of GW - folksy, conservative, a simpleton but crafty.

Ben Graham:

Aryo Parsi:

Thank you for your informative post. Your post recounts the action of a brave diplomat who saved the lives of people who would otherwise be exterminated.

I agree that it is a shame that the current Iranian government does not have the sensibilities of those men. I trust that the Iranian government and the Shah confirmed Mr. Sardari's good deeds after the war as Mr. Sardari wished.

Regards

obstreperous:


Go to YouTube or LiveLeak and see how the Iranians treat their women and their protestors.

Touche!

In LiveLeak go to the Iran section and type in the search bar woman and two men hanged in iran and see how you go.

Ask the gays what they think of Iran.

It's a hell hole.

End of.

Aryo Parsi:

TO BEN GRAHAM:

You are wrong about “…It shows that the one loan diplomat was bucking the trend of Iranian diplomacy, and shows that his lone acts were the exception rather than the norm…“

It was Reza Shah who stopped in the 1920s the islamic oppression in Iran against the Jews. It was he who stopped the islamic genocide and discrimination against Jews and Zoroastrians and protected them with the civil law. Contrary to what you assert regarding the Iranian diplomacy during the Pahlavi era the protection of the religious minorities was the official and declared and exercised policy of the Pahlavi dynasty.

Fereydoun Hoveyda, Iranian ambassador to the United Nations from 1971 until 1979 states in his website the following about his uncle Abdol Hossein Sardari and the events of 1940. Please pay attention to the last part:

"In June 1940, embassies were transfered from Paris to Vichy which had become the capital of the new French Government. Nevertheless in each embassy residence in Paris a caretaker was left behind. Uncle Abdol Hossein Sardari, my mother's youngest brother, pictured left, who was in charge of consular affairs remained in the former French capital, now occupied by German Nazi military forces.

My uncle … established close contacts with the German authorities and at the outset made it clear to them that Iranian Jews were Iranians since the time of Cyrus the Great and therefore fell under the protection of Iranian laws like any other Iranian. He added that it was the reason why religion was not mentioned in Iranian passports.

...the head of the Iranian Jewish community, contacted my uncle about his french co-religionists who were in danger of being sent to concentration camps. My uncle had in his office a good supply of blank Persian passports. He took upon himself to also issue them to non-Iranian Jews who were facing deportation.

Referring to the humanitarian attitude of Cyrus the Great who had freed in 500 BC the Jews held captive in Babylon, Sardari had no doubt that the Shah and the Iranian government would confirm his decision after the war."

Aryo Parsi :

To Visitor

There is no need for you two explain me how Iran was 30 years ago. I am an Iranian and I grew up in Iran. You seriously want to tell me that Iran made progress compared with 1978? You write about Savak, secret police, brutalizing…. Do you really want to tell me that Iran of today isn’t a brutal fascist dictatorship? The number of both the political prisoners as well as the agents of the secret police has been increased 100 times after the evolution. No one was beaten, stoned, executed 30 years ago because of homosexuality and adultery or enjoying an ice-cream during the Ramezan or simply because the sharia judge wants it. Sir or madam visitor, 30 years ago we could rely much much more than today on the rule of law in our country.

Your comment “…he hardly cared about the aspirations of Iranians…“ is cheap. On which evidences is your comment based? On the enormous raise of the people’s prosperity during the 70s? Or on the fact of the free of charge education system at that time? Stop teaching me about Iran. You state “…how to deal with other countries as equals rather than as supplicants for our approval“. As a confused American you don’t get that my country was 30 years ago much more treated as an equal partner from the west than today, that we were much more recognized as a respected member of the world community than we are today.

You state very intellectual like “we might as well get used to dealing with regimes unwilling to do our bidding.“ As a typical confused American liberal you forget that IRANIANS don’t want to live with this regime regardless of YOUR willingness to deal with it. That’s why the regime has 10s of thousands of political prisoners. You equate “unwillingness to do your bidding” with islamofascism. You are wrong, we want exactly the same liberal democracy in our country as you have in your country. But democracy doesn’t mean “willingness to do your bidding”. In the opinion of the confused westerners such as you we are unwilling to do your bidding only if we have silly dictators such as Nasser and Khomeini but if we have a responsible government which is open to the west then we are your puppet.

Ben Graham:

To Anonymous:

I have some knowledge that may fill in the gaps in your knowledge of Iranian and Nazi history that you displayed on your post.

First, as any college student knows, it was King Cyrus, the Persian king, who returned the Jews to Israel in the sixth century B.C. I do not think that this fact is taught in Tehran's public schools any more. It causes too many problems with current Islamist propaganda, particularly since the Arabs did not bother to migrate out of the Arabian peninsula for their bouts of conquest until the seventh century AD.

Second, those Jews who did not return to Israel with King Cyrus generally had survivable conditions as "dhimmi" subjects in Iran once Islam became the religion for most Persians. Under Islamic rule, Christians and Jews are not infidels or heretics. Instead, they occupy a class of people known as dhimmis who are promised well-intentioned "separate, but unequal" treatment by Muslims. You can guess on what road those good intentions lead.

Third, to the extent that one Iranian diplomat had the decency to save Jews during WW II, I say bravo. That it was one, rather than some or all, however, is what makes it a telling story. It shows that the one loan diplomat was bucking the trend of Iranian diplomacy, and shows that his lone acts were the exception rather than the norm. Thank you for inadvertently proving my point with this example.

Fourth, since Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution (thank you France for harboring him), there has been an exodus of about 90% of its Jewish population, and the exodus has not been out of Islamic tolerance, but rather in response to vicious Islamic persecution, including hangings. A small community remains, numbering about 25,000, and the Constitution requires one Jewish legislator who dutifully never opposes the party line. Mind you Islamic religious persecution is not limited to Jews. You could lose your head over engaging in religious practices if your were Baha'i.

Fifth, state-controlled Iranian media last month carried news stories where Iranian governmental officials demanded the return of Bahrain. They seemed rather proud and unashamed of the demand. The Gulf states were extremely nervous because there is much contiguous land connecting Bahrain to Iran, namely Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Iranian claim was intended to assert territorial domain of much of the Persian Gulf.

In conclusion, the current Islamic regime's (1)murdering of homosexuals, (2) beheading of Bahai's and persecution of other religious minorities, (3) putting women in their place (in Nazi Germany a woman's place was to be in the kitchen, in the bedroom producing kinder, or at a good book burning), (4) imprisoning or killing academics and students, and (5) making territorial demands are acts that were also the hallmarks of Nazi Germany.

Regards

Michael / Barcelona:

Possibly the good "Doctor" could enlighten us about where, really where, he got his "education"?

Frankly, as a homosexual, I think I would prefer to be encarcerated in Guantanamo rather than anywhere else in Cuba. God only knows how Hugo Chavez is treating his homosexuals.

The point is this: Criminals should not be offered a "debating platform" - but a prison cell. The President of Iran belongs alongside Charles Taylor.

Visitor:

"'...Has anyone taken the time to observe that the Iran of today has made tangible progress when compared with the Iran of 30 years ago…'
Do we have really to take such statement seriously? Is he insulting our intelligence? It’s sad for Washington Post to publish such nonsense."

Actually, thirty years ago Iran was in the tight grip of a dictator American leaders loved, the Shah of Iran, who with his secret police, the Savak, trained by Americans, brutalized anyone objecting to his regime. Yes, he was a wonderful customer for our military hardware, and he made certain the oil kept pumping but he hardly cared about the aspirations of Iranians. His overthrow led us, of course, to our close relationship with Sadam Hussein who accepted weapons and chemicals from us that he proceeded to use to attack not only the Iranians but the Kurds.

We may not like the direction Iran has taken since the overthrow of the Shah who was hardly a democrat, hardly a champion of human rights. He was a thug with a friendly smile and lovely wife. Iran today is what every single country in the region would become if Bush's dream of democracy was realized... Islamic republics with significant control by religious fundamentalists. I doubt we will ever see representative democracy of the sort we've tried to install in Iraq anywhere in the region, so we might as well get used to dealing with regimes unwilling to do our bidding. We may have to pay more for oil and we may have to step back from our unconditional support for Israel. We may actually learn how to deal with other countries as equals rather than as supplicants for our approval.

Aryo Parsi:

This article is a demonstration of ignorance in the same way as Ahmadinejad denies the existence of homosexuality in Iran. No wonder, when the Islamic republic’s “president” denies the holocaust its authors must follow the same path. Just one example from this “article”:
“...Has anyone taken the time to observe that the Iran of today has made tangible progress when compared with the Iran of 30 years ago…“
Do we have really to take such statement seriously? Is he insulting our intelligence? It’s sad for Washington Post to publish such nonsense.

Anonymous:

"It should come as no surprise that the most of the victims of Iran are the same groups that suffered persecution or murder by the Nazis". - Ben

I know you didn't address your comment to me, but here's my response. Before (during, and after) Jews gained power and influence in Europe and later in the States, they lived in Iran, worked, and can work and can pray in their synagogues. Aren't you ashamed to make such outlandish lies? Thousands of Jews were saved by an Iranian in WWII (a shia muslim). Jews have lived in Iran for many centuries. Your comments are historically incorrect, unless you are trying to spread misinformation and defame Iranians for the hopes of justifying Iran to be attacked and bombed, and many Iranians to be killed for no sane reason at all, other than the wish of fanatics.

"By the way, the Nazis also made territorial demands against neighboring countries (Sudetenland) just like Iran does today (Bahrain)". - Ben

Iran has no claims on Bahrain, although Bahrain was a part of Iran and it was taken and a new country created in the 1970s (by the same name as a part of, and a province of Iran). The Shah had to accept and say yes, he had no choice.

Ben, your distorted propoganda won't help anyone (including Israel).

Ben Graham:

To "Persian Redneck"/"Ali Ettefagh", thank you for your response that is identical to the responses of supporters of Nazi Germany in the 1930's. It should come as no surprise that the most of the victims of Iran are the same groups that suffered persecution or murder by the Nazis. By the way, the Nazis also made territorial demands against neighboring countries (Sudetenland) just like Iran does today (Bahrain).

Of course Iran and its supporters like you have the sovereign right to undertake the eight murderous actions described in my post, but subject to the rights of courageous men and woman to undo each and every one of them.

As to "Straight Talk", any free man or woman would be proud to be related to Lee Bollinger. By your remarks, I wonder are you temperamentally related to Ahmadenijad? Ahmadenijad thought that he could traipse unencumbered onto Columbia's campus and spew propaganda. Fortunately, Lee Bollinger smartly sprung a trap for him and Ahmadenijad stepped right into it. We should all thank Lee Bollinger for providing the proper context for Ahmadenijad and his dangerous rants.

Also, Bollinger relies on facts unlike the writer. Every statement that he made was supported by facts. However, the writer, "Persian Redneck/Ettefagh" knows no facts, but is rather cozy with propaganda. Let's see if he can redeem himself by mustering the courage to unconditionally condemn (no weasel words please) at least three or four of the eight factual murderous actions that I raised.

Banafsheh:

What an absolute pile of nonesense. Apparently this writer is another one who is stuck in the old-fashioned retro 1950's version of a revolution that was pumped up, courtesy of a bunch of morally bankrupt tools of Stalin. It's a shame that Iranians like this talk as if they speak for all of Iran and give directives like they are in any position to decide for 70 million people. He sounds TYPICAL of every Iranian with emotional baggage who refuses to take the blame for his lack of action. He thinks that writing articles criticizing the west is the answer and meanwhile he is THE typical male Iranian who thinks that because he's from a country that's been gutted by imperialist interest and maniacal ideological fervor that he's somehow an expert. BEWARE of Iranians claiming to have the answers and who blame the west for our lot...there's a lot of them and they are usually people with a hidden agenda. The blame is squarely on the shoulder of Iranians...LIKE HIM who sold our country to their hyper-emotionalism.

Banafsheh:

What an absolute pile of nonesense. Apparently this writer is another one who is stuck in the old-fashioned retro 1950's version of a revolution that was pumped up, courtesy of a bunch of morally bankrupt tools of Stalin. It's a shame that Iranians like this talk as if they speak for all of Iran and give directives like they are in any position to sit outside of Iran, in their luxurious western lives and hand out edicts for a country whose day to day reality they do not have to grapple with. This fellow is THE typical male Iranian who thinks that because he's come from a country that's been gutted by imperialist interest and maniacal ideological fervor that he's somehow an expert. BEWARE of Iranians claiming to have the answers and who blame the west for our lot...there's a lot of them and they are usually people with a hidden agenda. The blame is squarely on the shoulder of Iranians...LIKE HIM who sold our country to their hyper-emotionalism.

FAIR BOY:

A messahe to all hypocrites, Mathew 7:5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Straight talk:

Good article and very keen observations. We live in a bubble in North America. We don't even know enough about our neighbors in Mexico and Canada.

To Ben Graham,

Are you related to Lee Bollinger? And, from the comments above, it seems that the writer knows what he is talking about. Do you? or do you just rehash the junk news, like the writer has said!

Persian Redneck:

To BEN GRAHAM,

Mind your own business. Iran is a sovereign country and it can decide for itself.

As for your boys losing a war,.....well, a loser is just that! Live with it. A video game, it is not!

Ben Graham:

Thank you for the greetings from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Your comments on behalf of your country will be taken seriously when:

(1) Iran stops murdering homosexuals (whether or not of the kind that we have in the US);

(2) Iran stops beheading Baha'is;

(3) Iran stops oppressing women (even if they can drive they still must dress appropriately);

(4) Iran stops imprisoning and executing students;

(5) Iran stops imprisoning and executing academics;

(6) Iran stops demanding the land of other countries as long-lost Iranian provinces (Bahrain) to be reclaimed;

(7) Iran stops advocating the mass murder of the Jewish and Arabs living in Israel by annihilation of that State and contrary to UN Charter; and

(8) Iran stops supplying armor-piercing IEDs that kill our boys in Iran.

Until you have the courage to publicly condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran on any one of the eight issues described above, your comments are
nothing more than pure propaganda masquerading as insight.

A country that engages in these murderous actions against its own peoples, makes territorial demands against a sovereign state, and threatens mass murder is a country that can never be tolerated to possess nuclear weapons.

Nivedita:

Great article!

Fred Tahmasbi:

What is the America's position of the Israeli nuclear power. Why Americans are so quiet about the fact that Israel is killing innocent people in their homes in Lebanon, palestine and at the end they say they killed terrorists.
I am puzzled for the definition of the terrorist in the dictionaries.

Kamran Ramyar:

In response to Mr. Ali Ettefagh's excellent analysis of Lee Bollinger's remarks to President Ahmadinejad.....
Lee Bollinger lacks intellectual capacity to engage in any kind of dialogue or debate. He lacks proper judgement. His only claim to fame appears to be presidency of Columbia University, a so called institution of higher learning in the heart of an Jewish enclave. Considering this, it is no wonder that Lee Bollinger's remarks were rude, undiplomatic, and plain old stupid. It further solidifies the fact that he is a complete imbecile, easily manipulated by Jewish run/ dominated media in this land of so called democracy.

Sincerely;
Kamran Ramyar

David Hall:

You talk about cool-headed and objective debate when your whole editorial was entirely polemical and filled with rhetoric. When YOU are ready for cool-headed and objective debate, write another column.

I agree with you that the forum for Mr. Ahmedinejad was poisoned from the start, and the President of the University engaging in such political posturing was a silly display. However, your equation of American criticism of modern day Iran as a pining for the days of the shah seems very misguided, and does not derive from the premises of most thought out critique of Mr. Ahmedinejad's government. There can be things that are very, very wrong about what the President says, and how the government conducts business without wishing a more oppressive, former regime was back. Why cant Iran have one better than both?

Yoeman Anton:

Iran has been reformed a lot since the revolutionary government reigned. Its democratic movement has been advancing, although the US didn't teach them. Saudi, Egypt and Yordan is even uncomparable to what Iran had achieved. US shouldn't isolate Iran anymore. It's a ring bell for bush Adminstration to advance their relations if they want to see stabilization in global politics power. Who is in charged for the failed state like Iraq and Afghan? It's US responsibility who create havoc. US should shift his policy to be more friendlier against Iran. By doing this, US will save a lot of cost including risks to be attacked again by terorists in near future.

Anonymous:

Lee Bollinger gives dumb blondes a bad name. Otherwise, a great article.

Prosecutor:

Lee Bollinger has damaged American academic image to the extent that he can be called Professor Bin Laden, USA!

Let the world know that Americans do not set up their guests and this was a shameful act by Columbia University. It created a very bad image for a place of civilised debate and teaching. Poor judgement indeed.


hangman:

Hang Lee Bollinger and all others that set up this ruse and damaged the image of America and Americans abroad.

He must be sued and put in prison for confusing the right to free speech with the right to insult others, regardless of whether Ahmadinejad is a good or bad person. He was there as a guest and as an elected leader of another country.

Who will trust American invitations after this?

Joe Cisar:

One example of a media disconnect is the words of the Iranian head of state on homosexuality.

The first half of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's sentence -- "Iran does not have homosexuals" -- was cited nationwide, but the second half -- "like in the United States" -- was often omitted.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, director of the Persian Studies Center at the University of Maryland, as cited in "Hostility Counterproductive, Some Say" by Pamela Constable, grudgingly admitted that the Iranian President's words could have been misconstrued. First calling Ahmadinejad a "despicable human being," Karimi-Hakkak suggested that the Iranian President "probably meant to say that ... the country does not recognize homosexuality as an orientation."

With a moment's worth of multi-lingual and multi-cultural consideration, Ahmadinejad's words at Columbia University can be parsed as a common sense statement. In answer to the question of how homosexuals in Iran are treated, he answered that homosexuals in Iran are not like those in the United States, i.e., they do not lobby the government, do not advocate gay unions, etc. In short, Iran does not have homosexuals like [the ones we have] in the United States.

Having a sense of other languages and other cultures can be indispensible in communicating specific thoughts, and the language sense also occasionally generalizes nicely to conveying ideas in general. Knowing a second language can provide a cutting edge in the highly competitive world of mass media and communications.

AMviennaVA:

A V: True. Perhaps Bollinger should not have invited Ahmadinedjad. But once he did, he should have treated him as the guest that he was. Instead he confirmed the opinion many have that we Americans are simply hypocritical boors.

Stupid posts are killin' me:

These posts are killin' me wrote: responding to
"As another poster pointed out, comparing Israeli casualties with those of Israel's enemies show that Israel inflicts disproportionate damage..."

"Since Israel left Gaza there have been over 4,000, yes 4,000, rockets launched from Gaza into Israel, most near Sderot. They all don't get reported in the Times because it's a "dog bites man" story."

I did not know that 'rockets' are casualties. Then again, if you want to compare rounds of ammunition and rockets, you must remember all the helicopter and gunboat attacks that israel launches.

The fact is that CASUALTIES are human beings.

A V:

PS: Lee Bollinger has proven himself an insufferable boor. He should resign and Columbia should hang its head low for utter shame.

A V:

PS: Lee Bollinger has proven himself an insufferable boor. He should resign and Columbia should hang its head low for utter shame.

Anonymous:

"Jeff" & "mightysparrow" & "Andy": No response? I am not surprised.

A V:

PS: Lee Bollinger has proven himself an insufferable boor. He should resign and Columbia should hang its head low for utter shame.

A V:

Sadly, I cannot argue with Mr. Ettefagh's points. While I love my country, I am unequivocally at odds with much that goes on in our politics. The tangled knot that represents the gestalt of American political troubles is so large and convoluted, that unraveling it appears to be an impossible task. Poor education, willful ignorance, a refusal to consider the views of others - these are but a few of the elements in a long litany of factors that have lead us to our sorry state. Perhaps the worst of it is the fact that our nation, as it is represented in the international community by our government, may be the grandest of all hypocrites.

Perhaps the saddest thing is the fact that though the American people are very good hearted, we sit back and suffer the thieves and tyrants in our own house, letting them run roughshod over anyone they choose, including us. Do we think so little of ourselves that we allow this, or are we just that lazy and apathetic?

I wish I knew the solution for this terrible mess that has been foisted upon the world and my nation. It seems that the minds of people all over the world have lapsed into insanity that is so pervasive that it has become widely accepted as normal and the unthinkable become common. Of all the nations on this earth, the USA has the least excuse for finding itself in such a pitiful condition. We really are smarter than this - I just think most people don't want to be bothered having to think about it because that would demand action.

I do not agree with Iran's president. I do not agree with America's president, either. They both seem as dangerous animals who threaten us all with their unsound ideas and inflamatory rhetoric. Perhaps it is time they are both shown the door, along with all others of their ilk. Iran's government stinks to high heaven. So does ours. Mr. Ettefagh points this out well enough - but he seems to justify the acts of Iran just because we do similar things. I would have preferred a more unequivocal condemnation of Iran alongside that of the USA. Perhaps he has an axe to grind as well?

Best wishes.

In Dubai:

Good observations.
Americans must see reality of the region as it is today. When they are here, they want to change every thing to their way of doing things. As a result, they are not doing any business and have very few friends (when compared with Europeans, Russians, etc.)

$ 9.99:

Great article, Dr. Ettefagh.

I agree with you that the Columbia matter was a ruse, and it failed. Poorly mannered and ill-intended. I dare that University president to speak in the same way with ANY other person and not get punched in face.
And Bollinger is tasked with educating the next generation?

Big Bijan:

The president of Columbia University proved the long-known fact: Americans move the goal posts. They invite you to a debate just to attack you. So, it is best to distrust them all the time.

My country, Iran, has been in a much better shape since it has no ties with the Great Satan.

Refund:

All Columbia graduates must unite and ask for resignation of Lee Bollinger and his shameful act of impolite reception or demand a refund of all tuition money paid. Shame....shame!

Fil Munas:

I watched Mr. Bollinger's utterly rude, juvenile, petulant and insulting introduction of his guest, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on TV yesterday. It was a sorry spectacle and a disgrace to Columbia University. As Chris Matthews said on MSNBC's Hardball yesterday, Mr. Bollinger is a "horse's arse." I think he should be fired as president of Columbia University.

Actor:

Unfortunately, American politics can be better described as theatre where form is more important than substance. And that is sad for a world superpower.

As the author said, it is time to wake up America!

Fil Munas:

I watched Mr. Bollinger's utterly rude, juvenile, petulant and insulting introduction of his guest, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on TV yesterday. It was a sorry spectacle and a disgrace to Columbia University. As Chris Matthews said on MSNBC's Hardball yesterday, Mr. Bollinger is a "horse's arse." I think he should be fired as president of Columbia University.

Betty Boop!:

Superb observations. I especially liked the last paragraph.

It is time to have a different approach.

Bimbo:

Excellent observations Dr. Ettefagh!

The president of Columbia University is a disgrace to American academic community and America. One does not invite a president of a country for a debate and then hijack the opportunity to insult that person.
Ahmadinejad should sue him for slander, just to teach him a lesson.

nasser:

Excellent!

victoria:

i watched the speech twice on c-span - when it was occuring and yesterday about 4am-

i cannot even imagine how the rest of the world judged the actions of lee bollinger, or the crowd at the university-
but persoanlly, as an american, i was embarrassed at the crudeness and visciousness extended to one who is an invited guest.

all that we proved is that american academia, supposedly our best and brightest-
are ill-mannered boorish hosts.

i think our intellectual prowess was especially highlighted poorly-

you just dont invite someone on a pretense, and then abuse them.

and predictably the tabloids that pass for newspapers are triumphantly patting themselves on the back as if they own something-
yes, theyve won the right to twist peoples fears into a war with iran-
yay!

all weve confirmed to the worldwide view is that americans are poor debators, and resort to childish namecalling when trumped.

a sad and very very predictable affair

Sean:

The first serious commentary I have read recently.

Sean:

The first serious commentary I have read recently.

Sean:

The first serious commentary I have read recently.

alan:

I am all for dialogue but the good writer seems very happy to ignore the Iranians well financed terrorist behaviour in the mid-east and their threats to obliterate Israel which if anything is not conducive to any meaningfull dialogue, why on earth do the peace-loving Iranians need to foster Hizballah in Lebanon or hamas in Gaza or Shiite extremists in Iraq?

Bob Rand, Temecula, CA:

University presidents are just pols, hired to siphon money and make nice. Embarrassing to not take the high road and then let the gathering ask the tough questions. Or doesn't he think his students are capable of critical thinking? Foreigners won't focus on Ahmedinejad's lies and evasions but the brutish and counter-productive, McCarthyist setting that typifies Bush country.

Matt:

At Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University we see Lee Bollinger of highest ranking academia doing his best to look like a tough guy and bad ass by standing up and insulting a man who should be dealt with in the most diplomatic way possible at a time when relations are so tense and volatile. The questioning and criticizing, no doubt necessary and indeed called for, should have been done in a much more cordial fashion, not like the grade school bully approach taken by this president of Columbia University on his high horse trying to look cool. Way to go jackass.

Chris Delzio:

Wow! How refreshing to hear such truth!! A man with that kind of courage can not be found in America. Finally someone to tell Israel and it's Christian Zionists where to get off. Believe me, there are many, many people in America that will agree with what he said. Zionist Jews and Zionist Christians should be put on notice, WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND AREN'T TAKING IT ANY MORE!!

Pelock:

Very nice and succinct, Ali. I agree 100% and I'm a westerner.

SB:

People here always criticize about how Iranian women are treated. In fact they criticize how middle eastern women are treated by men. Well if they stop and look at, for example hip-hop music videos, what do they see? I tell you what they will see. Women being treated like cheap things. Is it any better?

The western have different ideals than the other countries. What makes the Americans think that what's good for them would be good for other people? By going around trying to impose your own rules is nothing more than being a big bully. Why don't we correct our country first before correcting others? America can't even take care of its own citizens. Until they do, they should just let other countries run by themselves. And maybe that would help in making more friends than foes.

B. Robert Harand:

Lee Bollinger thought he was talking to his students, or the pressure of Zionism/Neo-cons brought him down to that level to save his rear end.
It is a shame Columbia University has such an uneducated president, I feel ashamed of such ivy league university from which my son who is now a physician, had graduated.
It is a shame, lee Bollinger needs to apologize to the whole word of academia.

Yours truly,

B. Robert Harand
9914)960-1900

B. Robert Harand:

Lee Bollinger thought he was talking to his students, or the pressure of Zionism/Neo-cons brought him down to that level to save his rear end.
It is a shame Columbia University has such an uneducated president, I feel ashamed of such ivy league university from which my son who is now a physician, had graduated.
It is a shame, lee Bollinger needs to apologize to the whole word of academia.

Yours truly,

B. Robert Harand
9914)960-1900

B. Robert Harand:

Lee Bollinger thought he was talking to his students, or the pressure of Zionism/Neo-cons brought him down to that level to save his rear end.
It is a shame Columbia University has such an uneducated president, I feel ashamed of such ivy league university from which my son who is now a physician, had graduated.
It is a shame, lee Bollinger needs to apologize to the whole word of academia.

Yours truly,

B. Robert Harand
9914)960-1900

thatbobguy:

yes, brother, there are those of us americans who love to talk as much bull crap as any man can stand ina a given period of time. the media, the news media, in particular, are full of them, as you have obviously surmised.

most of us, though, would like to see a more peaceful coexistence....iranians and americans alike. how much more simplicity do we need for a concensus?

don't throw us out with the idiots we elect. we're human, too. most of us learn from our mistakes and even more of us learn from the mistakes of others. we suspect it is that way globally. this is why americans dont hate other nationalities, by nature...individually, we are the most tolerant beings you'll find anywhere...as an entity, I'm sure we all reject your assertion that we visualize your Iran as some sort of 50s idealised government travel brochure....if you expect more faith from us americans, please have faith that most of us are more intelligent than that.....and please also believe that there is much less tolerance in this country of media antics than is largely perceived...we love our country and our countrymen...we dont always love our government...they dont always love us, either...we are not ignorant to that fact; but we will, as loyal americans, stand beside the country as a body and speak as individuals in a democratic nation that gives us the freedom to do so, so long as that freedom may last.

don't let a few diehard closed-minded blueblooded political jesters make your blood pressure get out of control. have a drink, relax, think of the possibilities, reassess.

These posts are killin' me.:

"As another poster pointed out, comparing Israeli casualties with those of Israel's enemies show that Israel inflicts disproportionate damage..."

Since Israel left Gaza there have been over 4,000, yes 4,000, rockets launched from Gaza into Israel, most near Sderot. They all don't get reported in the Times because it's a "dog bites man" story.

How many rockets would you need to have fall on your town before you got upset? Have the Israelis, invaded Gaza because of these rockets? No! Do you think if 4,000 rockets were fired from Juarez into El Paso, there would be much of Juarez left? The Israelis have shown enormous restraint. Few could live under the daily hail of rockets and bide their time the way Israel has.

In the words of Colonel Sherman Potter... "Disproportionate? Horse Hockey!"

Ivan:

//These self-elected thinkers and news producers are stuck in a box of rehashed propaganda

Of course. And Iran is the hope of all progressive humankind. Not in the last part because it stands against America. Right? Anybody who stands against America - North Korea, Iran, Syria - are progressive by definition.

And take the gibberish of Ahmed-Genocide seriously. Please! The man clearly leaves in 15th century.

Iran is weak. that's why Mullahs use terror as a weapon. Via their proxy Hezbollah. Starting in 1980s - in Lebanon and France.

Anyway, even Mullahs running Iran understand what a parody this Ahmed-Genoside is. Or maybe they put him in this position on purpose. Another Rafsajani will be something US will be willing to talk to after they saw this ridiculous "alternative"

George P - NY:

We expect this kind of hostile questioning- however distasteful- from our journalists (noone should have been surprise by 60 Minutes). But, the opening comments from Mr. Bollinger who had invited a foreign guest was not only bad mannners, but totally inappropriate. Shame on him! Let's learn some manners as is appropriate in the poorest Muslim home.

Save the commentary until at least the guest has had an opportunity to present his views in person and not as relayed by the "impartial" media. What a lack of class and good judgement! And again, what a poor presentation of what the US stands for.

Jonn Lilyea:

I guess "thinking outside the box" replaces common sense these days. It's the thought that counts, not the fact that it's completely void of reason and facts. That's neo-liberalism at it's finest. Pompous, arrogant over-educated pseudo-intellectuals engaged in mutual ego stroking - that's how ya run a country, by God!

binkynh:

Thank you, Ali Ettefagh, for thinking "outside the box" and encouraging others to do the same. The problem with my country (US) is too many of my fellow countrymen have become too engrossed in our personal pleasures, soft-bodied and lazy-minded; and this decadence, also embodied by too many of our "leaders", threatens to turn my country into a field of cattle stirred merely by a few well-placed, uninspired and manipulative sound bytes--this, as if it hasn't already happened. We're desperately in need of new leaders--energetic, intelligent, progress-minded people--to inspire us into becoming an America that imagines and inspires. Until then, Ali Ettefagh, don't expect much from us because it's easier to play cowboys and indians and fire away at imaginary enemies while we suck down twinkies than it is for us to have to use our heads.

binkynh:

Thank you, Ali Ettefagh, for thinking "outside the box" and encouraging others to do the same. The problem with my country (US) is too many of my fellow countrymen have become too engrossed in our personal pleasures, soft-bodied and lazy-minded; and this decadence, also embodied by too many of our "leaders", threatens to turn my country into a field of cattle stirred merely by a few well-placed sound bytes--this, as if it hasn't already happened. We're desperately in need of new leaders--energetic, intelligent, progress-minded people--to inspire us into becoming an America that imagines and inspires. Until then, Ali Ettefagh, don't expect much from us because it's easier to play cowboys and indians and fire away at imaginary enemies while we suck down twinkies than it is for us to have to use our heads.

Anonymous:

This poisonous polemic adds nothing and detracts much from the promotion of a necessary debate. We can do without this junk writing.

binkynh:

Thank you, Ali Ettefagh, for thinking "outside the box" and encouraging others to do the same. The problem with my country (US) is too many of my fellow countrymen have become too engrossed in our personal pleasures, soft-bodied and lazy-minded; and this decadence, also embodied by too many of our "leaders", threatens to turn my country into a field of cattle stirred merely by a few well-placed sound bytes--this, as if it hasn't already happened. We're desperately in need of new leaders--energetic, intelligent, progress-minded people--to inspire us into becoming an America that imagines and inspires. Until then, Ali Ettefagh, don't expect much from us because it's easier to play cowboys and indians and fire away at imaginary enemies while we suck down twinkies than it is for us to have to use our heads.

Sheesh:

There was a sign at the speech, "I refuse to choose between Bush and Ahmedinijad," that perfectly encapsulates the debate. Neither of these people are reasonable, or particularly intelligent, and the only reason anybody pays attention to them is because they are so determined to frame themselves in opposition to each other. The world is more complex than that! Don't give in to the rhetoric of either side. Please, please, please, think for yourself and don't get involved in the ridiculous false dichotomy between a quasi-imperialist asshole and a racist, misogynist, Islamist asshole. It may shock the two of them, but the world is way more complicated than that ridiculous debate.

M. Bakhtiar:

Dear Sir,
I could not disagree more with your analysis of of how most Americans find it naturally difficult understanding Iran of today, as opposed to a pathetic type banana-republic, which they once used to praise as a friend of America. That by all definitions, it reminds us all, how narrow and belinkered systematic-thinking has turned Americans into, that even power of logic and persuasions have become obsolete in the face of all self-made reality and what America is today.

Thank You

M. Bakhtiar:

Dear Sir,
I could not disagree more with your analysis of of how most Americans find it naturally difficult understanding Iran of today, as opposed to a pathetic type banana-republic, which they once used to praise as a friend of America. That by all definitions, it reminds us all, how narrow and belinkered systematic-thinking has turned Americans into, that even power of logic and persuasions have become obsolete in the face of all self-made reality and what America is today.

Thank You

Joe:

Ahmadenijad trivia based on Lee Bollinger tirades:

Why is the Iranian president a dictator?
Because he won elections by several million votes and not 5:4.

Why is he petty?
Because he is smaller than G. W. Bush (the standard of greatness).

Why is he cruel?
Because Iran refuses to liberate other countries in the Middle East (and kill hundreds of thousands in the process, like U.S."heros" and Blackwater in Iraq, which is humanitarian).

M. Bakhtiar:

Dear Sir,
I could not disagree more with your analysis of of how most Americans find it naturally difficult understanding Iran of today, as opposed to a pathetic type banana-republic, which they once used to praise as a friend of America. That by all definitions, it reminds us all, how narrow and belinkered systematic-thinking has turned Americans into, that even power of logic and persuasions have become obsolete in the face of their own creation of all self-made reality and what America is today.

M. Bakhtiar:

Dear Sir,
I could not disagree more with your analysis of of how most Americans find it naturally difficult understanding Iran of today, as opposed to a pathetic type banana-republic, which they once used to praise as a friend of America. That by all definitions, it reminds us all, how narrow and belinkered systematic-thinking has turned Americans into, that even power of logic and persuasions have become obsolete in the face of their own creation of all self-made reality and what America is today.

Anonymous:

Andy @ September 25, 2007 4:50 PM: Your definition of 'Jewish' must differ from mine. I distinguish between Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist. Apparently you do not! Further, there is no attack on anything other than certain practices that we condemn in some cases but accept and actually support in others. Please do prove me wrong; bear in mind that 'it is justified' or 'he is worse' or 'he means well' are NOT acceptable since the end result, the practive itself, is the same.

By the way, thank you for encouraging my caution in not including my usual handle. As is typical, the resort to 'anti-jewish' or 'anti-semitic' was quick. But it is not effective. Perhaps, you should heed the poster who said "Why can't we just address that question without descending into vicious, ignorant attacks"?

My upbringing requires me to respond to a question. So, you asked 'since there are no Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip anymore, why do you consider the continued attacks coming from Gaza to be justified "resistance" to "occupation" since no such occupation exists'? The occupation does not exist only if you choose to treat each province as a separate and distinct entity. That is a falacy. Palestinian land is still illegally occupied. I will entertain further questions, but first you must respond to those I posed, both here and in the post on 4:28pm.

Susan McLoughlin:

Thank you Ali Ettefagh for your no doubt controversial commentary on this issue. I find America's pride in the actions of Columbia University President Bollinger disheartening. We all know that it would be a frosty Friday before Mr. Bollinger would shine the spotlight on his own government's leadership in such an audacious manner. America has mastered the diminution and demonization of those who do not fall into line with its global initiatives. I do not support evil, dishonesty and harm to any peoples anywhere in the world including America and I am so tired of watching Americans turn a blind eye to the incredible corruption and human rights abuses of their own government all the while characterising themselves as the global standard of light and courage and integrity for an ignorant and misguided world. The magnitude of self-delusion that this represents is staggering and very discouraging.

gregory:

thank you for your fine words... i am embarrassed for my country, and more than a little angry, because the immaturity and limited vision of the "leaders" are very destructive for everybody... elections won't help, there is no difference between parties, and education is too woeful to be of any use... those who seek power in a democratic system by definition have personality problems... the truly competent are doing their work, and shaking their heads, wondering how anyone can be so stupid... well, they can, the evidence arises daily...

Leo Bixby:

"I can't help but notice that most defenders of Ahmadinejad are also, like Anonymous at 4:28, strident anti-Jewish bigots."

Give us one example of someone who has said anything that can be construed as anti-Jewish. I am so sick and tired of being called anti-Jewish when I - and millions of others - am simply speaking out against the hypocrisy of the Israeli government! Your obvious allegiance to the Israeli government does nothing to further the Jewish people, and everything to further the Israeli government, at the expense of Judaism. Wake up man!

Anonymous:

"They also deny the Holocaust and proclaim on a daily basis that they wish to destroy both America and Isreal using the weapons of the west (read nuclear weapons anybody)." - Eric

Incorrect statement.

"Further, the Iranian president is convinced that his job is to bring about the end of the world by ushering forth the fifth Imam. How does that happen, through a major war". - Eric

He doesn't have the power to start any wars.

"To sum up: Iran is lead by a slightly crazy and murderous dictator who compares well to Hitler of the early 30's. Everybody wants to dismiss him as irrelevent when in fact he is the most dangerous man on earth right now". -Eric

Right, Ahmadenijad is a religious semi-dictator. But you are wrong to assert he's the most dangerous man on earth, that's ridiculous. The most dangerous men on earth are those who conveneintly sit in their homes and want to justify and provoke United States to go and bomb and kill many Iranians for no reason, and of course with the money and blood of Americans (per the wish of the ultra-right faction of Israeli society).

Andy:

I can't help but notice that most defenders of Ahmadinejad are also, like Anonymous at 4:28, strident anti-Jewish bigots. Wonder if that's purely coincidental?

Seriously people, it's very depressing to read so many lunatic opinions being expressed when the initial topic was about what it's like in Iran today. Why can't we just address that question without descending into vicious, ignorant attacks against Israel, the US, the West, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus?

P.S. To Anonymous -- out of the many questions your post raises, I'd really love you to answer this one: since there are no Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip anymore, why do you consider the continued attacks coming from Gaza to be justified "resistance" to "occupation" since no such occupation exists?

Jason:

It is refreshing to read an article like this in the atmosphere of absolute anti-Iranian hysteria, because it shows that not all Americans are hillbillies (whether or not covered by an Ivy League fig lea

f like Mr. Bollinger) who are simply unable to behave like civilized people and by showing off their arrogance cause the whole world hating them. So now thanks to the President of Columbia University the U.S. got another black eye. How tragic!

RudyK:

It is amazing to hear individuals on this forum defending the policies of a nation that has, for years, denied basic human rights to its people, engaged in ethnic cleansing, destabilized its neighbors for its own gain, and assassinated and imprisoned political dissenters within its borders.

And by the way, in this instance, I'm referring to slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism; the genocide of Native Americans; the balkanization of Colombia and present-day Panama (T. Roosevelt proudly proclaimed that American "stole Panama fair and square) and any number of other U.S. interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean; and the assassination and imprisonment of Fred Hampton and Geronimo Pratt, respectively.

The list of unpardonable sins committed by the American Empire far surpasses any charges, real or imagined, that the Bush administration can make against Iran and the other nations of the Middle East. Further, as has been mentioned, Saudi Arabia, the recent recipient of a $20 BILLION U.S. arms deal, compares unfavorably to Iran in many of these respects. So regardless of what side of the equation you rest on, please let's not pretend that the U.S. stance on Iran is in any way related to human rights. It is about the geopolitics of oil.

Further, even if we accept the proposition that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, does the U.S. position mean that nuclear bombs are only permissible when possessed by our putative allies, such as Israel? Why is nothing said about Israel's nuclear weapons, and why would anyone be surprised that their neighbors would seek military parity? Isn't that what the Cold War was about?

The refusal of many Americans to view themselves and their history through the eyes of the oppressed peoples of the world, or to put themselves in other people's shoes speaks volumes not only about our government and our media, but about out collective ability to see humanity as just that--humanity.

Anonymous:

Jeff @ September 25, 2007 2:11 PM &
mightysparrow @ September 25, 2007 2:30 PM:

Where can one begin:

1. I noticed that the the question "If holocaust happened in Europe why Palestinians have pay for that. If Germany killed Jews ..why Palestinians are killed now " has NOT been answered. The fact is that the US/Britain (out of anti-semitism) dumped the problem somewhere else. We (US/Britain) are now angry and cannot comprehend why the 'natives' still have not surrendered.

2. Contrary to what we are fed, the issues between Muslims and Jews are due to Zionism. That is only natural, since Zionism says "give us, a people without a land, a land without a people". This conveniently ignores the 'natives'. Obviously, the unstated intent is to exterminate them. (if it is not, please expalin what should happen to the natives since the goal is a state for Jews).

3. The argument that Palestinians chose to leave rather than stay in Israel is false on its face. It is no accident that people such as Begin & Sharon & BenGurion were considered terrorists (not by me of course, but by the British). Interstingly, I believe they have all held eleftive office. Can you remind me what that office was?

4. The 'terrorism' exploded after 1967. The way to end it is to end the occupation. That means that the 'settlements' must be vacated. They are illegal by international law, and under UN resolutions (passed without US veto, obviously). The international standard is that resistance to an uninvited military presence in your homeland is NOT terrorism. That is the definition of RESISTANCE. That means that the illegal acts are the settlements in Gaza & the West Bank, as well as the 'wall' being built outside of Israeli borders. That also means that the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 was not terrorism since we decided to go there to bail out Israel. For that matter what is happening now in Iraq is a classic case of resistance (resistance movements typically have internal power struggles).

As another poster pointed out, comparing Israeli casualties with those of Israel's enemies show that Israel inflicts disproportionate damage (that is always the case with resistance movements, but almost always fails). Palestinians die at the rate of almost 100 times the rate of Israelis, and Lebanon of course was carpeted by Israel with cluster bombs meant only to kill and maim civilians (the same tactic the Soviets used in Afghanistan that offended our sensibilities).

I do not really want to change the topic of the blog, but some things must be responded to.

Q-bert:

I'm sorry Ahkmeddinnerjacket embarassed you so badly that you have to write yet ANOTHER whole article on how bad the U.S. is.

New Reader:

I suggest we submit the question of whether or not Bollinger's intro was appropriate to the ultimate arbiter of such things: Miss Manners.

Leo Bixby:

:)

chris:

To Coffee Drinker:
Reread your post. You are a fool. Mass generalizations? How about your assertion of the American media, being made up of communications majors and football players. And your categorical assertion of their lack of intelligence. Here's a college football player for you. Jack Kerouac. One of the most poignant American voices in the previous century. I am not here to attest to the integrity of American media nor the cognitive prowess of collegiate athletics. However, I certainly wouldn't blame college football players and communications majors for the downfall of our media. I would blame short sightedness, laziness, and the dependence on advertising money. Drink up bud.

Thirsty as hell in a Sea of Kool-Aid:

Intellectual Integrity:

A wonderful post indeed. I wonder if you realize your brilliantly written post has a few interchangeable words - and still rings just as true.
----------------------
All nations have faults. Pointing out Iran's faults does not diminish Americas's massive faults in any way. Also, American commentators and politicians have an interesting style when dealing with questions.

1) Answer a question with a question.
2) When you can't think of a question to respond with, provide an obtuse answer.
3) When all else fails, point out the faults of the man, woman, country asking the question, and then fail to answer the actual question.

Next time you watch or listen to American speakers/politicians, watch what they do.

Talk about intellectual bankruptcy! No wonder most of America (not all) stands little chance for a stable, functioning society in this century.
--------------------------

Intellectual Integrity, you should watch a White House press conference with that same critical eye. You should also speak with intellectuals outside the US some time. The common consensus, even amongst our friends in Europe, is that we are a misguided country, who under almost every Presidential administration in history has found some reason for military action against a smaller nation.

Remember the big kid in school who was always picking on someone else? What did everyone call him? The bully. Do you know were most of those guys end up in life? As isolated adults.

Failing to apply that same critical eye to our own words and actions is neither intellectual in nature, nor does it have any integrity.

The only wise people in this debate are those who realize that you have to cut through the propaganda of your own country's media. The US press is pure propaganda, as is the Iranian press. Your original statement is regurgitated American propaganda. Stop drinking the Kool aid and think for yourself - or give up the name Intellectual Integrity.

Leo Bixby:

Thank you BABA.

K:

What incredible noise. There sure are a lot of "opinions" on this board.

It's nice to see the foreign idiots here are no different than the domestic idiots ... remarkably similar in fact. It just goes to show, no matter how different people seem on the outside, no matter how strange their breath or hairdo, they are each really just editions of each other.

Leo Bixby:

Yes! U, S, A! U, S, A! I should have known better than to come here for any kind of real debate. There is always some flag-wavers who insist that being critical of Iran, while ALSO being critical of the US amounts to nothing more than being anti-American or something. What a sorry state of affairs we are in.

By the way, in terms of press freedom, the US ranks right above Jamaice, at 22nd in the world. It will really piss off you flag wavers to see which countries are in the top 10. Press freedom has a direct impact of speech freedom as well.

Yes, you are correct that the Iranian President does not enjoy the right to freedom of speech as directed by our Constitution. However, Columbia University and the organizers of the event at which he spoke, does enjoy those rights. Even our idiot in chief was willing to let the Iranian President speak for himself. Anyone with half a brain knows that he will basically just bolster the claim that he is a bit nuts, to say the least.

BABA:

Amadinejad's comments on gays is Iranian equivalent of don't ask don't tell.

Homosexuality is as old as Iran, but this is the best a conservative government can do to tolerate it.

Please have some contextual fairness here. A black man would have been lynched if caught with a white woman in this country as recent as 50 years ago.

May be you and I are comfortable with gay friends but in this great country of ours, to this day, they get physically harassed and even murdered because of their sexual preference.

Of course we have come a long way and now (most of us) can tolerate gays, even blacks, most of the time. But catch yourself and what goes in your gut and head next time you see a woman with a Muslim scarf. Discrimination can take many colors.

May be you feel OK when you see a woman with a Muslim scarf, but remember since 911 discrimination and abuse of Muslims in our country has skyrocketed.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw (too many) stones.

Eric:

I find the fact that anyone can see some semblence of moral equivalency between Iran and the US insulting. The US, regardless of our own inherent faults, is the greatest and most free nation in the world. There is no other nation who is capable of feeding or clothing or supporting the world after natural disasters as we are and DO. Iran is a dictatorship regardless of any elections that they hold. They also deny the Holocaust and proclaim on a daily basis that they wish to destroy both America and Isreal using the weapons of the west (read nuclear weapons anybody). Further, the Iranian president is convinced that his job is to bring about the end of the world by ushering forth the fifth Imam. How does that happen, through a major war.

To sum up: Iran is lead by a slightly crazy and murderous dictator who compares well to Hitler of the early 30's. Everybody wants to dismiss him as irrelevent when in fact he is the most dangerous man on earth right now.

Finally, free speech only applies to American citizens not to foreign citizens. And it does not guarantee a right to be heard by anybody.

Please tell me where I am wrong.

Leo Bixby:

Woops! The "free-market lie" was indeed NOT a step forward, so I should strike that from the record. :)

Leo Bixby:

"Thank God Americans don't think they're told to think by what you consider the mainstream press."

Huh?

Anyway, I happen to live between the coasts, "bud". In fact, I moved here from the one on the West side, because I couldn't stand all the damn elitist hypocrisy. So on that front, we probably agree.

However, I would venture to say that the folks you might consider "mainstream" are nothing of the sort. There is a plethora of studies, surveys, etc out there that lay out a general feeling on behalf of the American people that simply does not mirror neoliberal tendencies at all. And by the way, "neoliberals" ARE "classical liberals." They just take it one step further in globalizing the basic idea of total liberation from the masses.

Lastly, the fact that highly educated, critical thinkers do indeed make up nothing more than an "echochamber"in this country is damn sad. Perhaps the only thing sadder is that you are happy with that. Another crusader for mediocrity in a time of wonderful capability.

One other quick note: I would not be so quick to say that those of us on what I like to call the "critical left" are simply singing to the choir. Every single major step forward in this country - with the exception of the big "free market" lie perpetrated on the American people and the entire Third World - has been accomplished by citizens who were critical of their government, even when there were significantly more freedoms and rights than we have now.

So, which sources of information do YOU think the "mainstream" American goes to? Just curious.

druvas:

Disclaimer: The following is dripping with sarcasm. Please do not confuse it with racist rhetoric...

I for one, won't accept Iran into the mainstream until they have finished executing all of their Gays and Liberals, removed Israel via nuclear holocaust, and finish reducing New York's buildings to rubble.

Just woke up:

mightysparrow,

When it comes to being against terrorism I am with you. I said Palestinians' right to fight back. You labeled that terrorism. Germans labled partisans terrorists.

But as I said I am with you. Specially when you look at the statistics and see that on the average for every Israeli, 10 Palestinians are killed every year, most women and children. Victims of terrorism by Israeli government, which make you and I sponsors of terrorists. Yes we are sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East:

Blowing one's up is terrorism (I agree) but using F-15 to blow up residential areas or hovering with choppers to shoot missile through someone's house is not terrorism? Turning Gaza into a 21st century concentration camp is not terrorism?

So I am all the way with you.

Since Palestinians are much weaker than the government of Israel, the first step should be for you to write to your congresswoman/man and ask to stop financing the Israeli government.

No more arms to Israel. NO MORE ARMS TO ISRAEL.

That is how as a citizen you can do your part. Write to the congress and ask them bring some level playing field to the Middle East.

Verbatim:

One brutum fulmen deserves another?
Sad to see how low discourse can stoop.

Jonn Lilyea:

Leo Bixby: I must be really stupid then, because I come here to figure out exactly how the mainstream American thinks. When I am interested in what highly educated, activated citizens think, I don't spend much time with the three sisters.

Jonn Lilyea: I don't think you're stupid - just misinformed. If you think mainstream America thinks like the WP, NYT and LAT tell them to think, you're out of touch with mainstream America. There's a whole country between between those coasts, bud.

Personally, I don't care what your supposed "highly educated, activated citizens" think - they're a bunch of pretentious, cloistered fools who live in an echo chamber. Just like the Iranian president who didn't answer one question put to him all weekend. And all of the pretentious, cloistered people here on this thread who think he said something smart and important - so they can sound smart and important, too. Mostly guilt-ridden white liberals (and I mean that in the neo-liberal sense - not the classical liberal sense).

Thank God Americans don't think they're told to think by what you consider the mainstream press.

Guest Worker:

Before this year is over, the US Administration will launch an all-out war on Iran to liberate the Iranian homosexuals and to defend their human rights. It will be at least a year before we realize that Ahmadinejad was telling the truth and there were no homosexuals in his country.

Sriram Kalyan:

Jeff,

I know that Arabs are against Jews .. It came with Islam .. ( Madina/khaibar massacre of jews)

Issue is how to restore justice to Palestinians.

Israel is created out of their land.

Palestinians should have their state and since Israel is on to Palestinian land, it has to part with taxes to Palestinian Govt.

David Jakupca:

RE: President Ahmedinejad and Lee Bollinger
For the most part, the phenomenom of “holocaust denial”, or “holocaust minimizing” doesn’t have it’s origins in “anti Semitism”. It arose as a (admittedly illogical) reaction to the way that Israel, in the wake of the 1972 war, started a deliberate campaign to elevate the nazi holocaust to sacred status, and the Jews and only the Jews (gypsies, Gays, socialists, slavs need not apply) the Eternal Victims of which no other victims in history can hold a candle to. (never mind the native americans, the african middle passage, the Armenians etc…)
Then, with the nazi holocaust elevated to epic status (”The Holocaust”), it is used to justify every crime against humanity Israel commits and to bludegeon anyone who dares to criticize the state of Israel.
Holocaust denying nuts like Irving and David Duke are easy to, and worthy of, ridicule. But those making an entirely principled criticism of the holocaust-elevation, and holocaust bludgeoning, like Norman Finkelstein, get smeared and their careers ruined by the Israel-lobby just the same.
From a strickly business point of view, The 'Holocaust Industry' is a lucrative global marketing tool for Israel.

David Jakupca
President,
Ohio German American Business Assoc.
www.OhioGABA.com

Taymaz Rastin:

Great article, I could not agree more.

Saint Michael Traveler:

American Invasion of Iraq and Israeli-American Front

It is well documented that Israeli-Americans , a segment of International Lobby for the government of Israel had advocated invasion of Iraq. The same groups are using their highly placed influence on the government of the United States and along with the neoconservative fronts to attack Iran.

Israeli influence is fully integrated into the American government through its strong Lobby. Even with a majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate of the United States, the Congress still is tied to the yoke of the Lobby. At a late night session in the Senate on Friday, September 14, 2007, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-VT) submitted an amendment to provide $75 million for “democracy promotion in Iran”. The amendment, which was cosponsored by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mel Martinez (R-FL), David Vitter (R-LA), passed by voice vote in Senate bill State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act (HR 2764). The Bush administration’s original request in the Fiscal Year 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for $75 million, which had been cut by two-thirds to $25 million by the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs earlier this year. The Democratic Party leadership horse traded Lieberman’s vote for the Fiscal Year 2008 budget for the amendment.

Senator Lieberman, a front for the Israeli Lobby, called the program “loudly heard and appreciated within the Iranian dissident community.” The past experience of our government should have demonstrated that such interference in the affairs of another nation would create greater hostilities. One of the objectives of the Lobby has been to create greater hostility between Iran and our government. Also, it must be obvious that any Iranian accepting money from our American administration to create trouble for Iran would be considered a traitor, a spy and at least would be shunned by Iranians. Would we react differently if anyone of us would accept money from a foreign country for the purpose of creating unrest within the United States?
In the jargon of the present administration of the United States, any government friendly to Israel and subservient to our American foreign policy and providing us with cheap natural resources is a friend of the United States.
What is “democracy promotion in Iran”? One definition of democracy would be a country managed by a representative government elected under the principle of “one man one vote”. Under this definition, Iran is democratic country; the Iranian president and the representative of government are elected by the Iranian people. During the last elections more of the eligible Iranians voted than in our own elections. Why are we so concern about Iran? We have too many problems at home to deal with, including education, healthcare and deteriorating infrastructures.

mightysparrow:

"are 5 million Palestinians who are entitled to the land of Palestine.

Not my opinion. It is the international law.

When they fight back it is not terrorism, it is resistance.

Not my opinion. It is the international law.

There have been numerous UNSC resolutions against Israel, including two that demands they must At Least leave the occupied territories NOW. It has been in effect for 40 years."
----------------------
Fact: your so-called facts are not entirely "facts." The fact is that there is no international law, resolution, etc., allowing Palestinians to murder Israelis. The fact is that we should pressure Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders. However, they should also have a right to defend their people against murderers. Fact: murderers are not "freedom-fighters."

Fact: I am not a Zionist, but I believe good people of all faiths and nationalities should have a right to security and safety while a overall solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians (and btw. all other nearby nations and Palestinians) is worked out as quickly as is possible.

kl:

The President of Iran did the administration a huge favor yesterday by his ranting. His evasive answers to direct questions, the denial concerning homosexuality in Iran, and ridiculous bragging re: womens rights in Iran revealed the extreme delusion and dishonesty. Only those who are equally delusional and share in his delusion could take this man seriously and that is what makes him a very dangerous man. Those of us who study Islam understand his Messianic and apochalyptic politics. His statements about human rights are just little white lies compared to the whopper he is fabricating concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Leo Bixby:

"It's been my experience that people who regularly read the tripe in the Washington Post, thinking that it, like Ahmadinejad, has something of value to offer it's readership are pretentious, pseudo-intellectuals who already everything there is to know about...well...everything and only read stuff that fits their preconceived notions. Notions to which they've mostly clung since college - through the hemp-haze."

Interesting. So, we have now gotten to the point at which the "three sisters" (WP, LA times, NYT) are where the "pretentious, psuedo-intellectuals" go?

I must be really stupid then, because I come here to figure out exactly how the mainstream American thinks. When I am interested in what highly educated, activated citizens think, I don't spend much time with the three sisters.

Jonn Lilyea:

Oh, I see now. The reason Ahmadinejad was given this forum (which, by the way, he totally blew) was so the left could go off on some sort of American-hating tagent and throw in some ludicris meme about "free market dreams" and call Americans ignorant and lazy.

Um, ignorant and lazy can be defined, in this case, as holding, for even one moment, the thought that Ahmadinejad had anything of value to offer the United States, it's press club or the students of Columbia University.

Thanks to the writer who recommended Milbanks' great report - few here will read it, though, because Milbanks, apparently, has strayed from the plantation.

It's been my experience that people who regularly read the tripe in the Washington Post, thinking that it, like Ahmadinejad, has something of value to offer it's readership are pretentious, pseudo-intellectuals who already everything there is to know about...well...everything and only read stuff that fits their preconceived notions. Notions to which they've mostly clung since college - through the hemp-haze.

Anonymous:

Rory, he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones (on your grandstanding comments). It doesn't help Israel, Iran, and nor United States. It is fully understood per your comments that you don't want any opening of dialog and relations with Iran. why should'nt there be dialog, and with an expectation of actions based on agreements to follow? what is there to lose?

p.s.
"Only when Iran stops doing these things - basic elements of civilization that were established not today, but hundreds of years ago in Europe - will you have the right to critize others."

Not hundreds of years ago in Europe Rory, actually, about 2.5 thousand years ago in Iran.
Another small tidbit, back then women had their own businesses also, in Iran, not in Greece (verified by European researchers and archeologists also, per dated written business records and transactions on stone or clay tablets).

Jeff:

""If holocaust happened in Europe why Palestinians have pay for that" If Germany killed Jews ..why Palestinians are killed now "

Can any one answer this question ..I believe answer to this question will solve the Middle East issue."
--------------
He didn't say that, actually. But now that you bring that question up, the answer is that the Palestinians should not have to pay for the holocaust. But the suffering of Palestinians is not all at the hands of Zionists. And, you should also ask the reciprocal question, to be fair: "why should Jews all over the world, many of whom are not Zionists, be bombed, shot, etc, because the Palestinians are suffering?" Killing Jews is no more just than killing Palestinians, in my view and in the view of the vast majority of Americans. I'm afraid that whitewashing the extreme prejudices toward Jews among many people Arab and Persian lands will not hide the fact that eliminating Israel would not eliminate conflict due to bigotry. In the 1940's, many Palestinians left Palestine to wait for the Arab armies to wipe out the Jews and prevent their return to a land they should have a right to live in, as anyone else.

RAJIV:

I am no fan of Ahmedinejad. I believe he is too hardlined to be reasoned with. I believe Iran should be stopped from getting nukes at all costs. Iran armed with Nukes will be a threat to all countries in the Region, not only Israel.

But I think we will be better of to face the realities about Iran, rather than squarely branding it as an evil nation. First of all it is plain wrong to characterize Ahmedinejad as an evil dictator. He is a democratically elected President (and he has more credibility at that than President Bush I would say) and the question we have to ask is why the people of Iran choose to elect such leaders to represent them. Iran certainly is not an open society, but it is nevertheless a democratic country and a much better democracy than many of its neighbors. The voting percentages in elections in Iran hovers around 80% (remember we have around 40% electoral participation here in America).

Secondly, if we are so concerned about human right violations and plight of women in Iran, what about countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, our two strongest allies in the Muslim world? I dont think our concern is about human rights or womens rights in Iran (which is actually better than some of our allies). Iran is an alienated nation (we have no diplomatic relations for last 28 years), that can hurt American interests in the region. We have to face the reality and engage with the people of Iran instead of driving them to hardliners like Ahmedinejad.

Ahmedinejad's greatest political benefactor has been George Bush. He removed two of their most powerful enemies (Taliban on the North and Saddam on the South) and enabled a significant political emboldening to Iran in the region. Bush also drove the Iranian people towards the hardliners by treating even the most moderate Iranian administrations like dirt and by never showing any interest to engage diplomatically. It takes much thoughtlessness to say Iran, Iraq and North Korea are an axis of evil. They may be the three nations US is most wary of, but there is nothing to suggest that they are an "axis" of evil against America. Ahmedinejad owes his political victories and the popularity he enjoys in Iran today to President Bush.

We badly need a fresh start on foreign policy - on so many fronts!

Anonymous:

"I hope all of you so quick to criticize the United States take a moment to think about what you are doing at this moment: holding a public discussion about the U.S. government and media. If you were to do this in Iran, you could be jailed, tortured or killed for doing the same." (Josh)

So, does that mean we should not hold this discussion; that we should just sit back and enjoy the ride of basic human rights and freedom of speech? Wake up man! While people like you sit and pat yourselves and your flag on the back, your rights and freedoms - and those of the people you say you care about - are systematically eroded by intrusive laws passed in the dark of night.

Leo Bixby:

We should all thank "Coffee Drinker" for making the case, loud and clear, that America is indeed beginning to live up to international reputation as a population of intellectually lazy, gluttonous, and self-centered people, who will stop at nothing to achieve their own ends at the expense of anyone else's, the world over.

Enjoy the free-market dream you are living Mr/Mrs Coffee Drinker, because it will be over in short order. You can only balance a pyramid on its head for so long before it falls over.

carl:

Good to have some sensible perspective placed on
our relationship with the Middle East. Hope we may
yet withdraw without being booted out.

Jeff:

"Ali, what do you expect. The deepest thought, the question of most significance among the elite intellectuals in the U.S. has to do with whether Rex Grossman will quarterback the Chicago Bears next week.

That's why they elect someone like GW to lead the country."
-----------------------
False statements that reflect the ignorance and bias you claim to be against. This is called hypocrisy. We do not all have our "deepest thoughts" about a NFL quarterback. And we did not initially elect George Bush-- the popular vote elected Gore. Who's ignorant about whom, in truth? Take care of your own ignorance and bigotry first, then you will be qualified to discuss that of Americans.

Josh:

The United States is far from perfect and has committed egregious violations of Muslims' rights since 9/11. However, Ettefagh never addresses the comments made by Bollinger, merely dismissing them as "junk news."

I hope all of you so quick to criticize the United States take a moment to think about what you are doing at this moment: holding a public discussion about the U.S. government and media. If you were to do this in Iran, you could be jailed, tortured or killed for doing the same.

Please just take a moment to read Dana Milbank's article "Live From New York, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Unreality Show" in today's Washington Post regarding the content of the Iranian PM's speech.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/24/AR2007092401471.html?hpid=topnews

A Better Way:

As with most biased columnists, Mr. Ettefagh makes some good points, some irrelevant ones, and some false ones. What I found most important to the question we should all be asking -- how to make things better for people in Iran, the Middle East, and America -- is in his rhetorical question about how things would have been different if we had taken a different tack with Cuba 40 years ago.

It's an unanswerable question, for sure, but it brings up a good point. Using the isolation, criticism-without-communication, and sanction method has consistently failed at what should be our primary goal with any foreign policy -- opening up the world to the best of American products, that is, the rights we bestow on our population (with a spotty record), thereby improving the lives of all citizens, bolstering the world economy, and reducing the chance for war. Closing the door on someone, berating them to change through that door, while trying to inhibit their economies, does not engender change at all -- at least not for the better. It's not a matter whether our criticism is right or not, whether our demands are reasonable or not, it's whether we are serious about being effective in managing change.

Now an analogy to prove my point. Say you're having financial trouble -- some of it self-imposed by habitually poor decision making, greediness, some illegal acts, but also caused by things out of your control. Here comes one creditor, who before even meeting you publically announces your inferiority, your faults; he calls you a criminal, threatens to arrest you, demands this and that. He refuses to meet with you personally, only delivers harsh communiques demanding a litany of actions, some impossible in your current state. He gets the law involved, he freezes accounts (worsening your situation), he pushes you deeper into a corner while increasing his demands.

Now here's another creditor. He comes to you and says, we both have a problem and we need to figure out a way to fix it. He doesn't dismiss or minimize the mistakes you've made, but he also does not, at least not blatantly, upbraid you for them. The request is simple -- a dialogue so we can try to create a common ground, and, eventually, some solutions to the multitude of problems.

Which, do you think, would end best for the creditor and for you? Most creditors -- even after blustery talk -- take the latter route. They know it's the only way they'll get any kind of security. Most consumers are learning to ask for it too, because they know it's the only way out of their trouble to avoid homelessness, jail, or worse.

Taking that approach does not mean tacit approval of whatever words or actions have come before it. It is simply the best solution for all involved. Unfortunately, in our foreign policy decision making, it is rarely the one we choose to deploy. Would it work better than what we have done with Cuba, what we're doing with Iran? It's very possible. Would it cause worse harm? Never.

Citizen Kate:

Americans will only remember about three salient points about a country of Iran's prominence. The key to reaching the American people peacefully is to give them three good facts that are more memorable the 1979 hostage crisis.

If this seems hard, that's because it is. If it's any consolation, Cuba knows how you feel.

A Better Way:

As with most biased columnists, Mr. Ettefagh makes some good points, some irrelevant ones, and some false ones. What I found most important to the question we should all be asking -- how to make things better for people in Iran, the Middle East, and America -- is in his rhetorical question about how things would have been different if we had taken a different tack with Cuba 40 years ago.

It's an unanswerable question, for sure, but it brings up a good point. Using the isolation, criticism-without-communication, and sanction method has consistently failed at what should be our primary goal with any foreign policy -- opening up the world to the best of American products, that is, the rights we bestow on our population (with a spotty record), thereby improving the lives of all citizens, bolstering the world economy, and reducing the chance for war. Closing the door on someone, berating them to change through that door, while trying to inhibit their economies, does not engender change at all -- at least not for the better. It's not a matter whether our criticism is right or not, whether our demands are reasonable or not, it's whether we are serious about being effective in managing change.

Now an analogy to prove my point. Say you're having financial trouble -- some of it self-imposed by habitually poor decision making, greediness, some illegal acts, but also caused by things out of your control. Here comes one creditor, who before even meeting you publically announces your inferiority, your faults; he calls you a criminal, threatens to arrest you, demands this and that. He refuses to meet with you personally, only delivers harsh communiques demanding a litany of actions, some impossible in your current state. He gets the law involved, he freezes accounts (worsening your situation), he pushes you deeper into a corner while increasing his demands.

Now here's another creditor. He comes to you and says, we both have a problem and we need to figure out a way to fix it. He doesn't dismiss or minimize the mistakes you've made, but he also does not, at least not blatantly, upbraid you for them. The request is simple -- a dialogue so we can try to create a common ground, and, eventually, some solutions to the multitude of problems.

Which, do you think, would end best for the creditor and for you? Most creditors -- even after blustery talk -- take the latter route. They know it's the only way they'll get any kind of security. Most consumers are learning to ask for it too, because they know it's the only way out of their trouble to avoid homelessness, jail, or worse.

Taking that approach does not mean tacit approval of whatever words or actions have come before it. It is simply the best solution for all involved. Unfortunately, in our foreign policy decision making, it is rarely the one we choose to deploy. Would it work better than what we have done with Cuba, what we're doing with Iran? It's very possible. Would it cause worse harm? Never.

Jeff:

Mr. Ettefagh wrote: "...He allowed himself to comment about capital punishment in Iran, as if the U.S. has no such thing, and went as far as calling the Iranian President a “petty, cruel dictator”."
-----------------
This is not accurate. While the President of Columbia was inarguably rude in addressing the President of Iran the way he did, the question he asked was not about capital punishment. It was about executing gays for being gay--- so it was not hypocritical of the Iranian President to be asked that question, as we do not execute gays for being gay in the U.S. (Although they do not enjoy all the civil rights of others, which is a violation of the 1st, 5th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution).

Mr. Ettefagh is in other ways not honest in his portrayal of the Iranian president, and the Iranian regime, in the U.S. The American people are indeed largely ignorant of the cultures and histories of other nations, but you can't convince me that the people of Iran have a more realistic and accurate idea of U.S. history and culture. And your piece does not help boost the knowledge of anyone regarding the American people-- your stereotypes are apalling! You come across as a bigot- not worthy of a international businessman.

Observer:

As soon as Mr. Bollinger started his introduction, it became obvious where he was going. This invitation was a pre-meditated set up to attack, insult and ridicule a nation’s president. This was not expected in an academic atmosphere. This is not as claimed by the news media providing a democratic environment even for the enemy to speak freely. The American mainstream news media are all bios and instruments of certain interest groups. They echo the same exact voice repeatedly until people start to accept and repeat them themselves. A true journalist is free and searches for the facts. I do not see mainstream American journalism free.

The so called “questions” that Mr. Bollinger asked in his 15 minutes (!) introduction, were not questions. They were all unsubstantiated allegations that each needed many hours of discussion and evidence presentations. That is why it would have been impossible for Mr. Ahmadinejad or anyone else to address those allegations fully in such a short time.

By insulting Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Bollinger insulted the nation of Iran. How would you feel if your president was invited to a university and was treated the same way? A civilized culture has respect for its gusts and treats them with dignity especially if they represent a nation.

FYI:
Homosexuality as Ahmadinejad said (not homosexuals), is not an issue in Islamic Iran. There have always been homosextuals in the history of humankind everywhere on earth. However, Islam has its own way of dealing with it. It is not allowed to be practiced openly. According to Islam anyone openly practicing or promoting this act would be dealt with according to Islamic laws. All Muslim countries practice the same law and this is not Mr. Ahmadinejad or Iran’s law.

Jonn Lilyea:

Fahd: anyway, so the crazy arabs, blew themselves up, and the poor israelis had no choice but to occupy their lands, inflict collective punishment, and arrest and torture them by the thousands.

Jonn Lilyea: Is that what I said? Mainly Palestinians are dying because they won't stop inflicting injury and death on themselves - or each other. The Arabs insist that we deal with them as if they're civilized people - but they're not. I didn't call them "crazy", you did. So apparently you think that their behavior is crazy - think about that for a minute.

Coffee Drinker:

I find most of these posts to be hilarious and mass generalizations based on what people see on MTV...oh and that includes Mr.Eteffargh's "post" too.

What most of you here don't understand is who is at these forums and events. It's mostly irrational people that don't do enough homework and don't have jobs to keep them from visiting with the Iranian President. Although when an actual intellectual did step up it was fun to listen into the Iranian President do the Texas Two-Step.

For all those who don't know: The United States is the greatest country in the history of the world. We can debate, and scream at each other until our faces turn blue and we're still free to hold those opinions without fear of repression.

For all those that think the "US needs to look at itself" before it goes throwing stones....TOO BAD. The Iranian president should have come a little bit more prepared for the debate that he wanted to get. He got it, he lost. So quit crying.

American's love a winner and won't tolerate a loser (aka Bush). Sure as heck we will rain fire on those that try to kill our allies (Israel). Oh and one other thing: There is only one Hegemony - and it's us. WE are the free nation and yes the Holocaust happened, Bush isn't the smartest man in America, and if you try to side-step a debate expect to get called on it.

We criticize our own media because they typically were Communications Majors in college. You know who else makes up the other 99%: College Football Players. Not exactly our brightest group. The US press corp is pretty thin on bright people and we know this.

If you want to see what the smartest people in america think why not check out some of the think tanks right in Washington DC. There's tons and all with varying opinions, but you won't see those folks being put to death for their analysis, cuz this ain't Iran BOYS!

Good luck with trying to convice us that America is the root of all evil. We like it, you guys can stay in the sand box, but we're gonna have to play mommy and seperate ya both if ya start fightin. We carry a big stick and we'll beat ya if we have to.

Enjoy the corporate coffee drinks, brought to you by the market economy circa 1989.

Fahd:

Jonn Lilyea:

oh, yes, thanks for answering the question so brilliantly. what happened was that one day, palestinians woke up and said "lets blow ourselves up." this is because arabs are crazy and sub-human animals, otherwise of course this wouldn't make sense.

anyway, so the crazy arabs, blew themselves up, and the poor israelis had no choice but to occupy their lands, inflict collective punishment, and arrest and torture them by the thousands.

thanks for clarifying.

Jeff:

"I Would like to comment with a question (may be I'm Arab...): why Americans always need somebody to hate?"
------------------------------
This is a hypocritical question. Americans do NOT always need somebody to hate. We do not gather in the street and burn Iranian flags and shout "Death to Iran," do we? We live in the most religiously and ethnically diverse country in the world, and we also have the most acceptance and political equality, along with that diversity, of any country. Can you say the same thing about Iran? No way!

Let's be accurate here-- most of the anti-U.S. commenters here are pushing their own stereotypes and falsehoods about the U.S.A. at the same time they are criticizing people in the U.S. for being ignorant and mean-spirited in the same way. Take care of your own ignorance and mean bigotry first, then you have a right to chastise us for our failings.

Visitor:

Iranians have good reason to fear and loathe the United States, as anyone familiar with the history of the region surely knows. Those who don't know the history and simply rely on statements from President Bush, as well as actions of the American government in the region, will also be aware that Iran is not on our "most favored nation" list. Efforts by the elected leaders of this country to prop up its friend and ally Israel, the thorn in the side of every Middle Eastern nation, certainly contribute to the disquiet we witness. President Ahmedinejad is no less skillful than President Bush in playing to his base. His statements about Israel and the Holocaust play well with Muslim fundamentalists much as our President's rattling the saber against the axis of evil warms the hearts of god-fearing patriots who are part of his base. Fundamentalists need a steady diet of red meat whether they live in the east or west...

It is comforting to believe that one's own country has a corner on righteousness. We are after all the "land of the free and home of the brave." We've said that even as we've enslaved Africans and killed indians to take their land, all in the spirit of free enterprise, of course. The indians weren't noted for their entreprenuerial spirit, so perhaps it was inevitable that we take their land and give it to the Southern Pacific Company who could parcel it out for all the white men anxious to stake their claim in the west. And those Africans were simply killing each other, so giving them useful work made good sense.

Let's be clear. America makes the world safe for American companies to do business. We want cordial relations with other countries not because we're exporting human rights or the wonders of democracy. We want peaceful environments where American companies can extract resources at the cheapest possible price and sell goods at the maximum possible price. That doesn't make America evil, but it makes us much less a beacon of hope than a purveyor of a way of life that is inimical to cultures and religions unwilling to buy from the company store. The Shah of Iran was a willing partner and good customer. The current leaders of Iran are not.

Sriram kalyan:


Why Israel was created on Palestinian lands ?

I think part of Germany should have been Israel !!

Can any one give me link to UN resolution for formation of Israel ...?

Bill:

Intellectual Integrity: I've got one to add: the "Two-wrongs-make-me-right" trump. Ahmadenijad gets criticism for Iran's policies which are, to be fair, not exactly glowing examples of enlightened humanitarianism. Ah, but Bush sent us to war in Iraq! Therefore, any criticism of any foreign government is inherently wrong, as if to say that any wrongdoing or misjudgment by our government automatically vindicates any wrongdoings by any country that has an adversarial relationship with us.

Ettefagh uses this tactic when he compares American capital punishment to Iranian capital punishment, and prosecution of enemy combatants with Iranian prosecution of "agitators". He fails to make the distinction between the death penalty for murder in this country and for homosexuality (among other things) in Iran, as well as the prosecution of alleged terrorists and plain-clothes combatants versus the arrest and prosecution of nonviolent protesters and dissidents.

He also mentions a figure of $20 per Palestinian in aid with some disdain. Setting aside the idea that we're somehow obligated to provide financial aid to the Palestinians there are by conservative estimates some 3.33 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza combined. This would amount to some $66 million dollars in aid. However, the actual figure is closer to $86 million, specifically earmarked for infrastructure and to be given to the Fatah government, in addition to $40 million to be distributed through a UN relief agency. He also neglects to mention that the US provided $400 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority prior to Hamas taking control. Contrast this to the $50 million or so Iran pledged to Hamas. How helpful has the Iranian regime been to the more moderate and peace-minded Fatah party?

I find it interesting that he calls for the universal application of international law towards the end of his article. I wonder if he means the Geneva Convention? Will we now see Iranian soldiers in uniform in Iraq? Or perhaps the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Frankly, Dr. Ettefagh, based on President Ahmadenijad's statements and Iranian policy, Iran appears to be *exactly* what I think.

Jonn Lilyea:

Kalyan; If holocaust happened in Europe why Palestinians have pay for that" If Germany killed Jews ..why Palestinians are killed now "


Jonn Lilyea: The answer is simple, Palestinians are killed now because they strap on vests and blow themselves up. That's science.

Well, except when one peaceful group of Palestinians drag other peaceful groups of Palestinians out into the street and shoot them in the head. That one I can't explain, but it gets the same results.

Leo Bixby:

I think it is dreadfully important for Americans to re-learn how to think critically, and how to look at a situation from a more scientific, if not agnostic point of view. Iran is a perfect test case. For example, while the President of Iran has publically denied the Holocaust, Jews are proportionally represented in the Iranian Parliament. Also, while Iran clearly has undue influence in much of the region, and not in usually good ways, America is occupying two countries, one of which has yet to be justified in any way. And we could go on for days about how many people have perished and entered poverty as a result of our brutal trade policies and so on and so fourth. Until we can look at ourselves with clear eyes, not dilated by the blurry logic of our own right wing government, we cannot so easily paint Iran's with the same brush.

This was a very good piece, and there should be more like it. This is real debate.

David Parker Sucks:

David Parker, you are retarded. Your comment is about as useful as this one. How can one prejudice see through another, you're already obvious bias, you have no relevance to this debate. As well, your statistics are opinions and have zero proof behind. You are probably the one with the low IQ. Come up with something a little better.

Jack:

Why do Arabs keep attacking Israel? It takes two to tango. Do you want all the Jews in Israel to somehow go back to Europe? Ask the Israel's why.. work it out or do you intend to keep killing each other forever?!

Dogbert:

Could Bushie-boy ever have the Courage to visit "any foreign country" and give a Speech after which Bush would answer questions from a University Audience?
Hell, Bushie-boy, much less, Cannot Even do It in USA!

OOTZARD:

30 YEARS AGO IRAN DID PRODUCE ITS OWN, NOT VERY GOOD, CARS.THEY LOOKED LIKE AN EARLY VERSION OF THE PLYMOUTH VALIENT.EVERY MIDDLE CLASS PERSON OWNED ONE.

Jeff:

Mr. Ettefagh wrote: "Such realization must also extend to universal application of international law, and to the naked truth that isolation methods have failed. Americans must also take note that their foreign policy extends beyond the interests of a small country in the Middle East that has less than half the population of Tehran."
-----------------------------
Mr. Ettefagh suffers from the same malady he accuses us in the U.S. of suffering from: he has no idea what Americans really think, or how we really act. He merely spews stereotypes, or perhaps the scripted line of the Iranian government and others who love to hate us.

We in the U.S. have not been isolationists- far from it. We have given more charity to the rest of the world than any other country-- and I am referring to charity coming form our personal pockets, in the form of tax dollars and personal contributions-- much of that amount going to predominately Islamic countries.

And my opinion of the knowledge and sympathies of people in the U.S. regarding people in other lands compared to the knowledge and sympathies of other people have of America and our people has risen higher and higher, as I've come to see more of the "educated" opinions of elites in other lands, such as Mr. Ettefagh and the Iranian President.

People such as Mr. Ettefagh have no concept of what Americans are thinking, but that doesn't stop them from looking at us as spoiled children with no understanding or empathy for what people in other lands go through. We are currently very dissatisfied and upset at our President, because of the wasteful destructiveness of his war in Iraq- but you'd never know this from reading Mr. Ettefagh's description of our opinions. He see's the Bush core administration as one and the same as the American people. He could not be more mistaken. Mr. Ettefagh, you need to work on correcting your own prejudices before you can lecture us accurately about ours.

Sriram Kalyan:


Yesterday Iranian President had one simple question

"If holocaust happened in Europe why Palestinians have pay for that" If Germany killed Jews ..why Palestinians are killed now "

Can any one answer this question ..I believe answer to this question will solve the Middle East issue.

Jack:

This guy says that the murder of millions of Jews never happened and we're supposed to take him seriously? He wants more investigations into the mass killing of Jews? Then let him travel next time to Israel. He can read the names himself.

Suri Dalir:

Excellent article.

I have studied and taught at UCLA, and participated in numerous speeches and debates. But I have never seen a host, though sometimes worlds apart in his/her views with the speaker, to treat a guest speaker (that too officially invited) so uncivilly. Mr. Bollinger has tarnished the image of American academia, as no one has ever done. I hope Mr. Bollinger accepts President Ahmadinejad's invitation and takes a trip to Iran. He might learn a lesson or two from cultured and civilized Iranians (as president Ahmadinejad pointed out), and enjoy their world famous hospitality.

Suri Dalir
Professor of the Middle Eastern Cultures and Literatures

rodney king:

Why can't we all just get along?

(BTW, Cazart, I don't think there would be any problem for an Iranian to what "... total idiots our President and his cabal are.")

Jack:

This guy says that the murder of millions of Jews never happened and we're supposed to take him seriously? He wants more investigations into the mass killing of Jews? Then let him travel next time to Israel. He can read the names himself.

HC.:

What you wrote is outrageous, you seems to be recipient of funds from Ahmadinejad and his clans.

Ahmadinejad is invader of human rights, inside and outside, he is a cruel dictator, not for Iranians but also for nations around the world except for Palestinians who have nothing to do with Iranian culture and background.

If this is another plot, taking this "chimpanzee" out bringing back Khatami or Rafsanjani clans, you and your other daydreamers.

We would stand firm in regime change. nothing but regime change.

Okay:

And yet somehow we are supposed to consider that when the Ahmedinejad says Iran has no homosexuals thatIran has "progressed." Sounds like Republican Rhetoric at it's finest to me.

Iran:

He forgot to mention that modern Iran doesn't have homosexuals.

KPJ:

Columbia university is a disgrace to American
so-called hospitality, free speech, courtesy,
and academic debate.

It was very hard to see who was defending free speech in this debate...

No wonder Bush is the president in this country,
with these actions of the president of one
of the country's finest educational institutions.

Is Bollinger being reprimanded or is all of the US finally morally bankrupt?

Or is this a sign that the fata morganas of enemies that the Bush administration has succesfully managed to induce, to secure profits for the weapon companies in times of huge deficits and a declining dollar, has even reached the not-so independently thinking mr. Bollinger?

Haha:

All I have to say is: "There are no homosexuals in Iran."

That guy is so inundated with Islam, its funny. He actually believes the things he says, which are of course completely crazy.

Reminds me of Bush.

So do not try to tell me to "debate" with madmen. They may be running countries but that does not make them sane, or worth my time.

Jeff:

Ali, what do you expect. The deepest thought, the question of most significance among the elite intellectuals in the U.S. has to do with whether Rex Grossman will quarterback the Chicago Bears next week.

That's why they elect someone like GW to lead the country.

Jackie:

Americans looked and sounded like idiots and showed total disrespect to President Ahmadinejad. The US Leaders show by example what our values are and we follow. The action shown to the Iran President should make every American embarrassed. I just hope he doesn't think all Americans are like the ones he saw.

Here's what George W. Bush had to say to the student he visited in China:
"I'm so grateful for the hospitality, and honored for the reception at one of China's, and the world's, great universities.

The people showed respect for their guest even if they don't believe in his way of teaching.
American children can now see by example that disrepect is ok because this is how adults act.

Disgusted:

Ciap: You are a glittering example of American ignorance, if not total stupidity. Iranians are not Arabs. They are two distinct ethnic/racial groups. Arabs are Semitic, and Iraninas, as the term suggests, are Aryans (Indo-Europeans). Your ignorance is typical of the belligerent, bullying tone of the majority of Americans, who have toppled more governments and discriminated against more people for economic reasons than any other nation on earth. As Jesus said, you are more prone to criticize the mote in your neighbor's eye the the plank in your own. And for the rest of you Know-Nothings, the fact that the U.S. undermined a legitimate government in Iran and installed a puppet tyrant will always be a factor in U.S. foreign relations. It did it in South America, Asia, and Africa in brutal, murderous ways. The U.S. government always says it does these things to bring democracy, but that is a lie. All governments lie, but the U.S. has brought it to a level never before seen on the planet, because it has used all the developments in anthropology, psychology, and sociology to get you monkey brains to believe them, fight for them--despite the fact that it is against your own self-interest. Your country is in monstrous debt; Cheney had converted much of his fortune to euros; your middle class is struggling; and still you march like zombies to the martial tunes of Bush, Cheney, and the racist Republicans. And the rest of you, who don't follow Bush, put your faith in the toothless, pusillanimous Democrats. Happy future, morons.

Mike:

Mr. Eteffagh, you are right on the money about what you said in this article! Bravo!

Hoping the U.S. Gets Real (and fast):

WAKE UP!!! Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' set a tone for the fact that it's time to WAKE UP regarding community and race relations in the States but, as, Ettifagh points out, it's not the only area where we really need to wake up. It's not to say that other nations don't have some waking up to do of their own. But we're talking about America and our approach to international politics right now, aren't we?

The questions raised:

'Is it finally time to engage in a proper, cool-headed and objective debate? Have isolationist daydream policies worked in Cuba? What was achieved, or lost, by not talking to Fidel Castro? Have militarist endeavours in Iraq produced a western-style, liberal and open democracy anywhere else in the Middle East, or are they still run by “petty, cruel” regimes?'

are exactly the kind that I wish our legislators were raising and that the American people and media would begin demanding be answered. Anyone who takes a small step towards understanding the current state of US-Middle East politics by doing a light review of the history (with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or elsewhere) would first understand that the situations of today have strong connections to US government decisions 25 or so years ago. Also, that these kinds of strategies do not work - except to install more tyrants or create a nation that sees the US as a tyrant as well. I agree. It's about time for the US to change its role in the world. It's not 1936 anymore and it's about time we took a good look at how we approach our world and our country.

Benjamin Banta, University of Delaware:

The author misses the over-arching point: Iran, per the rhetoric from not only Ahmedinejad but other Iranian leaders throughout the years, will attempt to destroy completely the sovereign nation of Israel if it acquires nuclear weapons.

The background talk chastizing Iran for human rights abuses is merely support in the fight against Iranian nuclear weapon acquirement for those that know this objective reality.

And those who spend print refuting point by point the human rights allegations inevitably miss this over-arching point, or purposefully ignore it because they would cheer Israel's destruction.

I'm not going to get into a debate over why the U.S. can have nukes and Iran shouldn't - the literature of Democratic Peace theory does well enough to explain. I'm not going to debate whether Israel has committed attrocities against Muslims - Just War theory explains quite well why it hasn't. And I'm not going to debate the right of Israel to exist - it does.

All one needs to know is that the international community would be fine with Iranian peaceful nuclear power, except that Iran refuses to let the international community garauntee that it is peaceful. Ahmendinijad's evasions, and this objective fact, point unmistakably to the real problem with Iran.

b in the lou:

Mr. Ettefagh,

While listening to Mr. Ahmandinejad last night on Charlie Rose, I was absolutely dumbfounded at one assertion, namely that Iran "does not have any Gays, as we do in the U.S." Perhaps this is true, but only because they have been killed or have left the country. As a very intelligent U.S. Senator recently said, the Iranian president is a "country rube" and our policies and actions have merely provided him with a broader stage to release his diatribes. Really, attacking the academic integrity of Mr. Bollinger was below the belt. Columbia and its president showed enormous chutzpa for even allowing the Iranian president to speak at its campus - it was threatened with losing govt. funding, which every person involved with universities knows is crucial. It is considered STANDARD at EVERY academic address to introduce the speaker and provide the listening public with information that will help them to digest the talk. The listening public may decide for themselves whether or not they find that introduction misguided or not, but we don't just put someone on stage and say "talk." If Mr. Ahmandinejad felt skewered by Mr. Bollinger's comments, then perhaps they bear more truth than the Iranian President would like to admit. What a disgrace for an otherwise thoroughly interesting society.

Hoping the U.S. Gets Real (and fast):

WAKE UP!!! Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' set a tone for the fact that it's time to WAKE UP regarding community and race relations in the States but, as, Ettifagh points out, it's not the only area where we really need to wake up. It's not to say that other nations don't have some waking up to do of their own. But we're talking about America and our approach to international politics right now, aren't we?

The questions raised:

'Is it finally time to engage in a proper, cool-headed and objective debate? Have isolationist daydream policies worked in Cuba? What was achieved, or lost, by not talking to Fidel Castro? Have militarist endeavours in Iraq produced a western-style, liberal and open democracy anywhere else in the Middle East, or are they still run by “petty, cruel” regimes?'

are exactly the kind that I wish our legislators were raising and that the American people and media would begin demanding be answered. Anyone who takes a small step towards understanding the current state of US-Middle East politics by doing a light review of the history (with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or elsewhere) would first understand that the situations of today have strong connections to US government decisions 25 or so years ago. Also, that these kinds of strategies do not work - except to install more tyrants or create a nation that sees the US as a tyrant as well. Only a month or two ago did we hear Barack Obama being criticized for saying he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Cuba, North Korea, et al as President. Now we're seeing that diplomatic conversations with some of these nations are being pursued readily as the only possible start to finding international solutions. Something tells me that if better multi-lateral communication strategies (rather than sanctions and demands) had been pursued sooner, some of the tensions that have led to catastrophes could have been avoided. But then again, that's assuming that those developing our policies (at the higher levels) are even interested in a safer, more connected, civil world at the expense of oil and labor controls abroad. One might argue that there would be more sustainable opportunities to interact fairly and economically with many of those nations in the long run if we approached things differently. I agree. It's about time for the US to change its role in the world. it's not 1936 anymore and it's about time we took a good look at how we approach our world and our country.

John Hawkins:

I agree with Ali, nothing was gained by isolating these contries socially and politically and only using military options to solve problems. You can't change a countrie's or a civilizations' policies toward a democracy by force.

Democracy is supposed to be the will of the people

Hoping the U.S. Gets Real (and fast):

WAKE UP!!! Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' set a tone for the fact that it's time to WAKE UP regarding community and race relations in the States but, as, Ettifagh points out, it's not the only area where we really need to wake up. It's not to say that other nations don't have some waking up to do of their own. But we're talking about America and our approach to international politics right now, aren't we?

The questions raised:

'Is it finally time to engage in a proper, cool-headed and objective debate? Have isolationist daydream policies worked in Cuba? What was achieved, or lost, by not talking to Fidel Castro? Have militarist endeavours in Iraq produced a western-style, liberal and open democracy anywhere else in the Middle East, or are they still run by “petty, cruel” regimes?'

are exactly the kind that I wish our legislators were raising and that the American people and media would begin demanding be answered. Anyone who takes a small step towards understanding the current state of US-Middle East politics by doing a light review of the history (with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or elsewhere) would first understand that the situations of today have strong connections to US government decisions 25 or so years ago. Also, that these kinds of strategies do not work - except to install more tyrants or create a nation that sees the US as a tyrant as well. Only a month or two ago did we hear Barack Obama being criticized for saying he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Cuba, North Korea, et al as President. Now we're seeing that diplomatic conversations with some of these nations are being pursued readily as the only possible start to finding international solutions. Something tells me that if better multi-lateral communication strategies (rather than sanctions and demands) had been pursued sooner, some of the tensions that have led to catastrophes could have been avoided. But then again, that's assuming that those developing our policies (at the higher levels) are even interested in a safer, more connected, civil world at the expense of oil and labor controls abroad. One might argue that there would be more sustainable opportunities to interact fairly and economically with many of those nations in the long run if we approached things differently. I agree. It's about time for the US to change its role in the world. it's not 1936 anymore and it's about time we took a good look at how we approach our world and our country.

Anonymous:

"Great piece. At least women in Iran can drive ;-)" - Jorge

Good one, and a good point made. Actually they can do much more in Iran now (work, teach, run their own businesses, etc.) but to Iranians it is not enough and they are peacefully demanding for more rights, and not only for women, for civil rights as a whole also.

"So... What is Iran like now? Americans know nothing more than what the news tells us about Iran, and you have told us nothing new. Thanks." -Jay

Jay I know you didn't ask me, but here's my two cents. From one aspect (for there's so much to say, on different topics), Iran is a country in transformation, something that Iranians have been pursuing since a little over 100 years ago. It is their quest for a more transparent and representative system of government (despite all challenges external, and also internal). Iranians know it will not happen overnight and that it takes time. On another and related note, you would be surprised to read the experiences of Americans who have visited Iran (they were surprised, according to themselves, and so will you when you read their comments), as to what their perception was prior to visiting Iran, and how distant it was when compared to the truth.

LARRY:

The hateful bigotry of Dr. Ali Ettefagh, while at the same time saying nothing substantive, shines through his essay. The only redeeming factor about Ahmedinejab is that he openly expresses his hatred for the most part (except when calling for "more objective study" of the Holocaust). His phoney desire for dialog is a front to gain more support for his destructive policies, and gives him an opportunity to to gain ever-more non-thinkers who are impressed by his bombastic diatribes. The parallelism with a Hitler-esque leadership style is palpable. What may gain him followers here is his strong statements of whatever he believes in.In America, an unfortunate by-product of acceptance of all peoples and ideas is the softening of a central core of beliefs of what is right and wrong. As a result, someone who comes along and states his beleifs, however extreme they may be, can exhibit a strong pull on those of us lacking our own strong, central belief core. It fills a vacuum in our innards in a satisfying way. But expressing beliefs in a strong manner in no way justifies or makes right those beliefs, as is obvious in the case of Ahmedinjab.

Just woke up:

Boys and girls, you can spend the rest of the day talking about all the tangential issues surrounding Ajmadinejad and ignore the key issue:

There are 5 million Palestinians who are entitled to the land of Palestine.

Not my opinion. It is the international law.

When they fight back it is not terrorism, it is resistance.

Not my opinion. It is the international law.

There have been numerous UNSC resolutions against Israel, including two that demands they must At Least leave the occupied territories NOW. It has been in effect for 40 years.

Have you asked you congressman why they are sanctioning Iran and not Israel?

Do you guys know the difference between occupied territory and the territory UN has recognized as Israel?

Not only the UN has been asking Israel to leave the occupied territories for 40 years, ethically and again according to international law Palestinians are entitled to return to the entire land of Palestine.

Until this question is resolved you can love or hate Ahmadinejad as much as you like. He is not the point.

Brother Buzz:

I think the American dilemma is that they have not been able to find a corrupt Iranian leader to tilt towards America and, secondly, the Iranian regime has a kind of distribution of power that prevents the concentration of too much power in the hands of one person, at the risk of turning corrupt.

Even the supreme leader of Iran is answerable to an assembly of experts.

We can certainly debate the policies of Iran, but the sum and substance of it all is that it is not the kind of comfortable, cozy, morrally compromised "leadership" that America usually wants in foreign countries.

cazart:

As screwed up as our country is, at least we can come out and say what total idiots our President and his cabal are.

What would happen if an Iranian did the same?

That's what I thought.

jj:

I hope Obama was watching. Maybe he will realize that, inviting some in to speak does legitamize what they say to some and can cause more trouble than it cures.
Yes the Palestinians got the short end of the stick when Israel was created.But it was Israels traditional home lost through combat/conquest. And given to them by the British/ League of Nations who "ruled" the area they had gained through combat/conquest. Why not put them somewhere else, it is where they wanted to go.
It was a bad situation, and the Palestinians should have been consulted more and compensated for it.

Jonn Lilyea:

SE DC; The Eurocentric ways of doing business will soon shut down and the Ethnic world will be in control.

President Ahmedinijad is not a dumb man. He knows exactly what he is doing. He will expose the hypocrisy of America.

Jonn Lilyea: Yeah, that's why people are flocking to Iran from the West. That's why Floridians are crossing to Cuba on rafts. That's why millions wade across the Rio Grande to live in Mexico - because the US is so evil.

Alex M:

This is a reasonable point. Iran is a far from ideal society, and Lee Bollinger was factually correct to criticise Iran's treatment of gay people, for one thing. However, if you invite someone to speak at your university, it is the height of bad manners to upbraid him in public, and surely it should be up to the attendees at the event in question to make up their own minds about Iran on the basis of careful and rational debate.

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is a pretty horrendous president, one who is doing a better job of wrecking Iran's economy than the United States ever could, and his attitude towards Israel, Jews and the Holocaust is depressingly reactionary (and his understanding of satire primitive at best, to judge from his conference for Holocaust deniers, organised as a response to the Muhammad cartoons). Iran is not a free society, by any means, and its president an amateurish ideologue.

But attacking him, and attacking Iran, is the best way to make Iranians rally round their president. Kneejerk hostility toward Iran will only provoke hostility in return.

Calling Ahmedinejad's bluff, offering to talk, to trade, to help Iran develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes, will make Iranians less inclined to defend him to others, and indeed less defensive about Iran's relationship with the West.

The United States is a free country, and its students intelligent enough to make up their own minds without having propaganda channelled at them by either side. What a shame that Lee Bollinger fell right into the trap and instantly confirmed Iranians' perception of anti-Iranian feeling in the US.

Iranians are fed unsophisticated, inaccurate propaganda about the US, and then they see the US reactions and see their worst prejudices confirmed. What a shame it would be if the United States (whether through the press or through government action) did exactly the same thing to its citizens. Americans should learn about Iran, simply so they have an accurate picture of whom they are dealing with. Crude stereotypes help nobody.

Maria:

Iran has been chosen as "Most Evil Enemy of the Month" by the Bush Administration. What many Americans fail to understand is that Bush's war in Iraq has only ENHANCED Iranian power in the region and all the vilification of Iran's President only serves to shore up his support from extremist elements there. Notice how America rallied around Bush after 9/11 even though his approval before the attack was 45% at best? The natural knee-jerk response to any attack on your country is usually more fervent nationalism. The role of "President" in Iran is not as powerful as it is here. The religious leaders there have much more control than this guy does, and he is not very well liked by the educated population.

We have a genocide going on in Darfur but everyday all we get is suspect propaganda about Iran doing this or that to "undermine" our efforts in Iraq. These tidbits trickle out of Cheney's office and the Press will just run with it. Yeah, Iran is not exactly a free society but last time I checked they were chopping of people's heads in soccer stadiums in Saudi Arabia and stoning women in Afghanistan, which is a country we supposedly "brought" freedom to. This article is right on about which human rights abuses our Government chooses to magnify and the reasons why they do it. I don't think the author is making excuses for Iran, he is just trying to push back on this sort of manufactured hysteria that helped this administration drum up support for invading Iraq. Cooler heads need to prevail here, not Bush's political agenda for 2008 which is what is driving this PR campaign.

Mobedda:

Oh, come ON! I'm as far left as sane people get in America, and this is STILL the biggest bunch of hooey I have ever read! Some of our news outlets may let themselves be pushed around, or may do a regrettable job of self policing to fit whatever they feel the political climate may be, but we are not blind and stupid; the Iranian regime is brutal and dictatorial, and saying that doesn't mean one can't criticize Saudi Arabia or any other government that deserves it. Feeble, flabby, silly, propaganda.

SE DC:

It is time for the global world to revolt against western policies. It is happening slowly and the West (now called the U.S.) is scared to death. The Eurocentric ways of doing business will soon shut down and the Ethnic world will be in control. Watch out for China, India and Africa...

President Ahmedinijad is not a dumb man. He knows exactly what he is doing. He will expose the hypocrisy of America.

SE DC:

It is time for the global world to revolt agains western policies. It is happening slowly and the West (now called the U.S.) is scared to death. The Eurocentric ways of doing business will soon shut down and the Ethnic world will be in control. Watch out for China, India and Africa...

President Ahmedinijad is not a dumb man. He knows exactly what he is doing. He will expose the hypocrisy of America.

Christian Kolouch:

From the few comments I read, it seems that the voicing party of each comment is vastly generalizing each others culture. Each party is talking back and forth about what Iranians want, how much or little cultural and intellectual integrity Americans have, attempting to expose the inability of both parties foresight and compassion. Listen to yourselves. You are saying the same things to each other. Bad mouthing and poorly attempting to build arguments against each other by making assertions with validity and reference thrown to the wayside. Maybe this blame game is what the real problem is. Our politicians do this on a daily basis: rhetorical bashing, comprising moral hierarchies, and denouncing opposing governments. Then we carry these same forms of communication to internet forums? It seems that political meandering has become the way of the lamen and that we have learned to share discourse through blame and personal assertion, in turn, all becoming simple mouths for our governments and their beliefs. Where has self awareness gone? Where has the desire for individuality in absence of government rule gone? What are we doing?

Christian Kolouch:

From the few comments I read, it seems that the voicing party of each comment is vastly generalizing each others culture. Each party is talking back and forth about what Iranians want, how much or little cultural and intellectual integrity have, attempting to expose the inability of both parties foresight and compassion. Listen to yourselves. You are saying the same things to each other. Bad mouthing and poorly attempting to build arguments against each other by making assertions with validity and reference thrown to the wayside. Maybe this blame game is what the real problem is. Our politicians do this on a daily basis: rhetorical bashing, comprising moral hierarchies, and denouncing opposing governments. Then we carry these same forms of communication to internet forums? It seems that political meandering has become the way of the lamen and that we have learned to share discourse through blame and personal assertion, in turn, all becoming simple mouths for our governments and their beliefs. Where has self awareness gone? Where has the desire for individuality in absence of government rule gone? What are we doing?

Christian Kolouch:

From the few comments I read, it seems that the voicing party of each comment is vastly generalizing each others culture. Each party is talking back and forth about what Iranians want, how much or little cultural and intellectual integrity have, attempting to expose the inability of both parties foresight and compassion. Listen to yourselves. You are saying the same things to each other. Bad mouthing and poorly attempting to build arguments against each other by making assertions with validity and reference thrown to the wayside. Maybe this blame game is what the real problem is. Our politicians do this on a daily basis: rhetorical bashing, comprising moral hierarchies, and denouncing opposing governments. Then we carry these same forms of communication to internet forums? It seems that political meandering has become the way of the lamen and that we have learned to share discourse through blame and personal assertion, in turn, all becoming simple mouths for our governments and their beliefs. Where has self awareness gone? Where has the desire for individuality in absence of government rule gone? What are we doing?

Bruce from Virginia:

The standard for intellectual bankruptcy is set by the theocratic Iranian regime, fronted by the pseudo-acamedician, President Ahmedinejad. He brazenly declares the non-existence of homosexuals and crows about the freedom of women and the Iranian people. For him the holocaust is a subject “bearing further study”, an abstraction like physics, not a substantial fact of history. Yes, the holocaust is an old story Mr. President, what about more recent history that Iran is responsible for; like the execution and imprisonment of Bahai’s, the jailing of journalists, the kidnapping and imprisonment of American nationals, the continued financing and support of terrorists from Lebanon to Afghanistan, the threats to Israel? No, the Iranian regime is not the Taliban nor is it the Saudi regime. It is something more insidious, provocative and dangerous because it had regional aspirations. At its heart it is a fundamentalist, expansionist regime which maintains a thin veneer of democracy to deflect criticism and pacify it's people. The end goal is to effect global policy by holding a knife to the jugular of the world’s oil supply.
Lest the Iranian regime forget, the United States prevented Cuba (at great risk to itself) from retaining nuclear weapons on its territory through embargo and blockade. Woe to us if we ever allow the mystical fanatics ruling from Tehran access to nuclear weapons. The world view of the Iranian theocracy is incompatible with western values and skews their calculus of risk in using nuclear weapons. Strategic parity can never be achieved between Iran and its neighbors, and it will be a catastrophe if Iran is allowed to attempt it.

Joshua:

Gisela,

If you press the "More>>" button you will get a little bit more information about the author:

"Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish."

And Gisela, I know Israel is so close to your heart, but the issues Dr. Ahmadinejad raised regarding the plight of Palestinians, had you listened, are very serious issues that WILL NOT go away until we can start listening to each other.

Trust me, wasting your life on K Street, securing all the congressional influence, funding and munitions for Israel, in the long run, will not be as effective as recognizing that Palestinians have an equal right to the land (where ironically you have chosen not to live) of Palestine.

Best wishes for Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Yom Kippur.

Shalom

Frank:

You are sounding very sanctimonious when you say most Americans just want to live their own little bubble. Personally, I think there are very good reasons for Iran being part of the "axis of evil:"

-Iran is funding Insurgent groups in Iraq who are primarily concerned with Shiite domination of Sunnis. They kill mostly sunni civilians and also US soldiers.
-Iran is aiding anti-Coalition insurgents in Afghanistan, an insurgency actively trying to overthrow a democratically elected government.
-Iran is funding Hezbollah in Lebanon, whose primary goals are offensive against Israel and undermining Lebanon's democratically elected government.
-Iran is developing non-peaceful weapons program in defiance of UN demands.
-Iran has threatened to destroy Israel, and is actively funding groups trying to.

You have to ask yourself whether these are legitimate security interests or offensive actions guided by something else.

Frank

agsoba:

well written.

Bernice:

How refreshing to hear a voice of sanity write on Iran and its president.

Would that the United States Congress were half as objective instead of buying into the anti-Iranian demonization being sold by Bush/Cheney/Lieberman and their friends.

Bernice:

How refreshing to hear a voice of sanity write on Iran and its president.

Would that the United States Congress were half as objective instead of buying into the anti-Iranian demonization being sold by Bush/Cheney/Lieberman and their friends.

AI:

Iranian:

Why would I want to travel to Iran? So I can be thrown in a prison, starved and beaten for starting a "revolution?"

rray3344:

Are either the Iranian or US Governments' 100% innocent or 100% guilty no. The world is a strange shade of grey and not the black and white versions portrayed by the far left, far right, and most of the time the media as well.

US policy since it's wonderfully amazing inception has infuriated various countries at one time or another and we are now paying a price for the actions of both our Democratic and Republican led administrations, not just the Bush administrations actions/policies. To assume it is just a problem of the world against us because of Bush is white washing the problem.

The same can be said for the actions of the Iranian gov'ts polices since the overthrow of the US backed Shah. Don't forget it wasn't Bush's fault that a 60 plus year old professor was jailed without fault for months on end only to be released mere weeks ago looking like a shadow of her former self.

The comments of the Iranian president, an educated man for sure, are inflammatory. Lest we forget that he partook in the whole mess at the US Embassy during the Carter Administration!

We don't know all there is to know about Iran and Iran doesn't know all there is to know about the US but that doesn't change the fact that the Iranian gov't is arming Hamas and Hezbollah and waging a proxy war against the US, NATO, and especially Israel. It also doesn't change the fact that many in the Middle East are at their wits end about US policies in the region.

Ioana Stoica:

To "Intellectual Integrity" ("Intellectual Immaturity" is more like it!)

1) Answer a question with a question--

This is called the Socratic method. It's as old as Western "reason" and a brilliant pedagogical and rhetorical tool. As you have demonstrated, it enervates the uneducated and anti-intellectuals.

2) When you can't think of a question to respond with, provide an obtuse answer.
Hrm. This is called Politics. It's certainly not a uniquely Middle-Eastern tool.

3) When all else fails, point out the faults of the man, woman, country asking the question, and then fail to answer the actual question.

EXACTLY. Now reflect for a moment--why do you hate the Iranians so much? Could it be, just maybe, that it's because they've been demonized by the United States?

And for those who keep crying out for Iran to give up their nuclear powers--excuse me? First of all, what do you, as a single individual American civilian, know about how a country should conduct their research? And second of all, who is ANY country to dictate what others MUST do? Why do America, Israel, France, etc. have a right to nuclear weapons, but not Iran?

I know, I know. because they're dangerous, you'll say. Now imagine the world turning against the US--would WE be so happy to give up our nuclear weapons? NO! If anything, we'd argue we need them even more.

Try and think outside your little bubble for a moment. if not, you've proven exactly the point this editorial gets at: Americans tend to be selfishly contained in a "me me me" bubble.

Barbara B.:

Thank you for saying what I've been thinking. You are so right about America's bubble. And your point about Castro is right on. Why do we abandon tiny Cuba but engage China? I wish you had singled out the media a bit more for some of the blame too.


Bollinger's introduction was outrageously rude. He was obviously so afraid of appearing to support Ahmedinejad and thereby incurring the wrath of Americans that he just looked like a high-level panderer.

Deb Chatterjee:

Dr. Ettefagh,

What if the following happened ?

(a) USA makes it clear that it shall go for alternative energy, and hence obviate all the need for fossil fuels as the chief source of energy, and willingly undertook the economic "hardship" for such changes

(b) Stopped all Muslim immigration to USA for the forseeable future

(c) Reduced significantly the level ofr all diplomatic contacts, humanitarian financial help, with all Muslim nations

(d) Allowed no technical/scientific collaborations and exchanges with the Muslim nations

(e) Persuaded all European nations to do the same.

In that case, why would that be wrong ? What is so binding on the part of USA to be nice to the Muslim nations and get hit by the 9/11 stuff and the homegrown Islamic radicalism ?

rray3344:

Are either the Iranian or US Governments' 100% innocent or 100% guilty no. The world is a strange shade of grey and not the black and white versions portrayed by the far left, far right, and most of the time the media as well.

US policy since it's wonderfully amazing inception has infuriated various countries at one time or another and we are now paying a price for the actions of both our Democratic and Republican led administrations, not just the Bush administrations actions/policies. To assume it is just a problem of the world against us because of Bush is white washing the problem.

The same can be said for the actions of the Iranian gov'ts polices since the overthrow of the US backed Shah. Don't forget it wasn't Bush's fault that a 60 plus year old professor was jailed without fault for months on end only to be released mere weeks ago looking like a shadow of her former self.

The comments of the Iranian president, an educated man for sure, are inflammatory. Lest we forget that he partook in the whole mess at the US Embassy during the Carter Administration!

We don't know all there is to know about Iran and Iran doesn't know all there is to know about the US but that doesn't change the fact that the Iranian gov't is arming Hamas and Hezbollah and waging a proxy war against the US, NATO, and especially Israel. It also doesn't change the fact that many in the Middle East are at their wits end about US policies in the region.

kam-korder:

I was equally appalled by Mr. Lee Bolinger's opening remarks referring to a head of state as "a pretty cruel dictator." It was unbecoming and out of protocol to a visiting head of state, regardless of whether one likes or disliks Mr. Ahmadinejad. I think Mr. Ahmadinejad should have simply walked away, like many other heads of states would have done under similar circumstances.

Ashah:

This is the real story , thank God some has the courage to be honest and call a spade a spade as it is most american admin views or U.S. propaganda is viewed around the world as Propaganda. I am still reminded of a Head Line in The Daily Mirror of London " How could 52 million American be such fools to have voted for G.W. Bush and Cheney.
Dream on ! We will be irrelevent to the rest of the World if we continue this path, in the next 50 years unless we change and be realistic.
about what is the truth and what is happening around us.

Marcus:

The United States has the dubious honor of having (1)Been the only nation to drop an atomic bomb on a civilian population. (2)Engaged in genocide against the 'Native Americans'. (3)Built it's economic standing on the backs of imported slaves. (4) Been founded by a bunch of criminals kicked out of Briton for being....crooks. Yet we have the nerve to tell other nations how to behave when we are systematically ripping our own constitution to shreds while turning into a fascist nation. You white boys and this 'Manifest Destiny' thing have gone far enough. Look around you, I doubt if you see the parallels between the USA and the fall of the Roman Empire. You're to busy being scared, and let's face it you have plenty to be fearful of ! So many enemies, internal and external. But no one has to do a damn thing, you're doing it to yourselves. (MOVING TO ANOTHER COUNTY WHILE THERE'S STILL TIME).

Simply:

How many other foreign presidents would have sat there and listen to personal attacks and insults from the purportedly "educated" president of a university? Especially when they laid out a trap of INVITATION? and all insults made before hearing the speaker?

All respect for American education, science and knowledge went down the tube after yesterday.

d thompson:

Thank you Mr. Ettefagh for actually listening to what president Ahmandinejad said and not just falling in line with the American press. Has our media lost the ability to think critically? They only seek to see Iran one way. In their minds, Iran has an aggressive nuclear program and is supplying Iraq with weapons. Where are they getting this intelligence though? Is it the same source that told them that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Grow some balls media and quit spinelessly going in line with the Bushies.

Michael Akbar:

Oh Boy Oh Boy -- If Lee Bollinger represents the level of academic and intellectual integrity in our country we are in for a rude surprise.

I wish Mr. Ahmadinejad skip the speech part in the future and just foucus on answering questions. I think he did an outstanding job of explaining Iran's position and for those who cared to watch and listen before making comments they will tell you he was rewarded with lots of applaud. That says a lot for a crowd that was warmed up by Lee Bollinger.

I sure hope there is more to Columbia than what Lee Bollinger presented.

YTS:

Excellent!

Chris in Denver:

Well, that was unfortunate. I read you blog, based on its title - that "Iran is not what we think it is." But you didnt talk about Iran is now. Instead you wanted to complain about the US. Fair enough, plenty to complain about, but I wanted to hear what is the situation in Iran today, to better understand why their President speaks internationally the way he does. But you didnt offer anything.

Some of us understand that the Iranian President is not necessarily all that well-regarded in his country, and that political winds are against him. But what do we make of it? How should the US engage him (to "jaw-jaw, not war-war") without pandering to hateful rhetoric? This is a very complex case of diplomacy. You offered nothing to enlighten that cause.

Doug H:

Wow...what a strange, sarcastic, mean-spirited editorial. It could be read as a self-serving case for reducing economic sanctions, and thereby increasing opportunities for "investment in emerging companies in the middle east", no?

Without worrying about Saudi or Iraq or the US, isn't it true that the government of Iran is a brutally repressive fundamentalist theocracy dedicated to sham elections, busily involved in efforts to arm Hezbollah, Shiite militias and the Taliban with the goal of killing Americans and our allies? Of course, perhaps one day, inshallah, they will have atomic weapons that will bring about the elimination of the great satanic US and Israel, which their head of state loudly proclaims as his goal (when not professing his love for all people, of course). This is certainly not the Iran of thirty years ago...it's something far worse in fact. I think we're clear on that...are you?

Ciap:

Wow, another Arab calling Americans dumb and Iranians great.

Who would have ever thunk it.

Please give us more as we havent heard this same dribble since yesterday.

Ted H:

This should be required reading for all Americans. It is time to put aside the small minded thinking of our small minded president and consider the big picture. we need to acknowledge what we have done wrong, and try to become the world's good steward instead of the world's bully. Is Bush's term up yet?

tuciu:

I could not agree more with this article, but am afraid the Americans are so isolaed, that even if it is noticed, they will respond to it with the same questions all over.

About Women:

In response to CH123,

Women belong in the kitchen. Plain and simple, so other countries that allow them to do more are doing them a favor.

:-)

David Parker:

First of all, most Americans do not have a clue of what is going in their own city, let alone events happening around the world.
Second, most Americans are very busy with their lives that they do not spend much time reading and researching.
Third, most Americans rely on the news media and government to feed them with information, and most of time, it turns out to be misinformation.
Finally, most Americans have limited IQ and cannot see beyond the surface.

Anonymous:

.
Many good points.
.
For some reason, I now have the urge to go to the bakery and get some creampuffs.
.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...............
Creampuffs.
.

K Street/Gisela Schon:

One more thing - I have no idea who you are, Mr. Ali Ettefagh (and not knowing who you are/not having heard about you before has probably saved me some considerable grief), but I suggest you understand the paradox here (I am an optimist, see? Even you would be able to understand that). I mean, let's face it: in a reverse scenario, I would never be able to publish such aggressive and spiteful rhetoric (against anything Iranian) in an Iranian publication for several reasons. Let me please list those for your benefit:

1. That would require freedom of speech and of the press;
2. I am a woman;
3. I am a Jewish woman.

Of course, I realize that according to you I must be corrupted by American propaganda and the Jewish lobby; but if the alternative is to be like you and that dangerous caricature of a president (can Ahmadinejad be described in any other way?), I'll stay corrupted - forever and ever.

Andy:

Chris Smitty, you proved Intellectual Honesty's point by doing exactly what he said you would do! Please, show some critical thought next time before you put fingers to keyboard.

Mr. Ettefagh is mistaken in how he describes Americans' view of Iran. We don't think it's some 1950s-era banana republic, and we certainly don't think the Shah has anything to do with anything. We think Iran what it was when our embassy workers were taken hostage in 1979 -- a backward, fundamentalist regime bent on fomenting conflict with the West and sowing discord in the Middle East. As Mr. Ahmadinejad proves, that is exactly what Iran remains today.

CH123:

Dr. Ettefagh,

Compare the treatment of Iranian women to those in Saudia Arabia? Great comparison genius. Congratulations, Iran treats women better than the one country in the world that treats them worse. Wow, I sure feel silly now for questioning Iran's brutal treatment of women.

I doubt many here are appologists for the US government. It has done much harm in the world and I for one have criticized and protested against it relentlessly. Too bad that you don't have the guts to do the same in your country. Don't worry though. There are some brave Iranian women who are fighting for women's rights against all odds. Maybe one of them can teach you how to be a man and take a stand against injustice in Iran.

Kermit Roosevelt Jr.:

The few valid points Dr. Ettefagh makes are lost amid the rest of his post. Did the U.S. screw up badly in 1953 by engineering the brutal monarchy of the Shah? Yes. But that does not mean the current Iranian theocracy is a model of human rights or that the U.S. should ignore its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

No one in the U.S. is blind to the Saudi's horrible record of oppression against women or the role of Saudi/Wahhabi ideology in the attacks of September 11. We do not hold up Saudi Arabia as a model of human rights and equality. The difference is that the (admittedly autocratic) leaders of Saudi Arabia are not hostile to the U.S., while Iran's leaders (including its nominal president) call for the destruction of the U.S. That difference is source of the double standard that Dr. Ettefagh refers to.

Guantanamo, the CIA "black sites" and Abu Graihb have hurt America's leadership on human rights. Thankfully, the military has cleaned up Abu Graihb, some sort of review process has been set up for the prisoners at Guantanamo, and the administration is ending its black sites program. A more robust judicial review for the prisoners at Guantanamo would go a long way to re-establishing U.S. credibility in the human rights arena.

How about this?
1. The U.S. apologizes for Operation Ajax, while the Iran apologizes for holding American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
2. The U.S. cuts its rhetoric of regime change or airstrikes in Iran, while Iran cuts its rhetoric about the destruction of Israel and the U.S. In short, we both cut the belligerent rhetoric.
3. The U.S. cleans up its judicial review of enemy combatants in Guantanamo, while Iran stops jailing academics, journalists, and other enemies of the Islamic revolution and establishes something a little closer to equal right for women.

Kermit Roosevelt Jr.:

The few valid points Dr. Ettefagh makes are lost amid the rest of his post. Did the U.S. screw up badly in 1953 by engineering the brutal monarchy of the Shah? Yes. But that does not mean the current Iranian theocracy is a model of human rights or that the U.S. should ignore its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

No one in the U.S. is blind to the Saudi's horrible record of oppression against women or the role of Saudi/Wahhabi ideology in the attacks of September 11. We do not hold up Saudi Arabia as a model of human rights and equality. The difference is that the (admittedly autocratic) leaders of Saudi Arabia are not hostile to the U.S., while Iran's leaders (including its nominal president) call for the destruction of the U.S. That difference is source of the double standard that Dr. Ettefagh refers to.

Guantanamo, the CIA "black sites" and Abu Graihb have hurt America's leadership on human rights. Thankfully, the military has cleaned up Abu Graihb, some sort of review process has been set up for the prisoners at Guantanamo, and the administration is ending its black sites program. A more robust judicial review for the prisoners at Guantanamo would go a long way to re-establishing U.S. credibility in the human rights arena.

How about this?
1. The U.S. apologizes for Operation Ajax, while the Iran apologizes for holding American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
2. The U.S. cuts its rhetoric of regime change or airstrikes in Iran, while Iran cuts its rhetoric about the destruction of Israel and the U.S. In short, we both cut the belligerent rhetoric.
3. The U.S. cleans up its judicial review of enemy combatants in Guantanamo, while Iran stops jailing academics, journalists, and other enemies of the Islamic revolution and establishes something a little closer to equal right for women.

David:

Dr. Ettefagh, you're equivocation is worthy of Ahmadinejad himself. The fact that you would cite a U.S. institution that is hosting one of the country's most vocal antagonists and criticize it for not being more conciliatory shows you're own 'intellectual bankruptcy' and a basic misunderstanding of the First Amendment.

Freedom of speech guarantees a free exchange in the marketplace of ideas. Like an economic marketplace these ideas compete for supremacy on the basis that each will be tested and debated. In order for it to work the most abhorrent ideas must be tendered along with the most sublime.

Bollinger had every right to stand up and accuse Ahmadinejad of tyranny as long as he allowed Ahmadinejad to defend himself. It was an historic example of the power and breadth of this country's most basic freedom. Moreover it was an opportunity for intellectual debate that would never be afforded to an American leader in Iran, as it is not afforded to the most benign of Iranian citizens.

Ahmadenijad spoke largely in his typical form wasting the opportunity granted to him and positing his usual empty histrionics coupled with outright mendacity.

For you to look upon that event and see the U.S. as 'intellectually bankrupt' is grimly ironic, and typical of the very isolated thought you presume to admonish.

Tarcisio:

I Would like to comment with a question (may be I'm Arab...): why Americans always need somebody to hate? Even previous ally like Saddam Hussein or Noriega (many more could be mentioned) can become evil enemy to be destroyed when not useful anymore? It seems to me that the old saying "with me or against me" applies here.

Kermit Roosevelt Jr.:

The few valid points Dr. Ettefagh makes are lost amid the rest of his post. Did the U.S. screw up badly in 1953 by engineering the brutal monarchy of the Shah? Yes. But that does not mean the current Iranian theocracy is a model of human rights or that the U.S. should ignore its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

No one in the U.S. is blind to the Saudi's horrible record of oppression against women or the role of Saudi/Wahhabi ideology in the attacks of September 11. We do not hold up Saudi Arabia as a model of human rights and equality. The difference is that the (admittedly autocratic) leaders of Saudi Arabia are not hostile to the U.S., while Iran's leaders (including its nominal president) call for the destruction of the U.S. That difference is source of the double standard that Dr. Ettefagh refers to.

Guantanamo, the CIA "black sites" and Abu Graihb have hurt America's leadership on human rights. Thankfully, the military has cleaned up Abu Graihb, some sort of review process has been set up for the prisoners at Guantanamo, and the administration is ending its black sites program. A more robust judicial review for the prisoners at Guantanamo would go a long way to re-establishing U.S. credibility in the human rights arena.

How about this?
1. The U.S. apologizes for Operation Ajax, while the Iran apologizes for holding American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
2. The U.S. cuts its rhetoric of regime change or airstrikes in Iran, while Iran cuts its rhetoric about the destruction of Israel and the U.S. In short, we both cut the belligerent rhetoric.
3. The U.S. cleans up its judicial review of enemy combatants in Guantanamo, while Iran stops jailing academics, journalists, and other enemies of the Islamic revolution and establishes something a little closer to equal right for women.

David Parker:

First of all, most Americans do not have a clue of what is going in their own city, let alone events happening around the world.
Second, most Americans are very busy with their lives that they do not spend much time reading and researching.
Third, most Americans rely on the news media and government to feed them with information, and most of time, it turns out to be misinformation.
Finally, most Americans have limited IQ and cannot see beyond the surface.

SayItLoud:

Notice how the so called FREE US media never answered the most essential of question president Ahmadinejad asked (WHY HAVE PALESTINIANS BEEN PAYING FOR 60 YEARS FOR THE HOLLOCAUST WHEN THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT).
intead they are all talking about one passing sentence of we have no gays in iran.
Any meida in the world is more legitimate than the so called free US media.

adil:

great piece thank you,
as far as i am concerned, ahamadinajad was by far more convincing that any rabbish and utter propagandastic information by the jewish lobby.

K Street:

Concerned wrote: "Because of Isreali lobbyists we MUST consider Iran an enemy of the United States. Very sad."

I am sorry, Concerned, but this has much less to do with the Israeli lobby (which is actually Jewish lobby, in case you care to comment on the subject in a more correct and relevant way) than it has with the fact that Iran's president is a lunatic of the highest magnitude who has even the audacity to claim that Iranian women are the freest of the world - among other things. Iran's record is impressive: incredible media censoring, kidnapping and murder not only of Iranian dissidents but also of foreigners (does Robert Levinson not ring a bell), the non-existence of freedom of expression and religion, to name a few.

How can you even twist this around?

Read This!:

Please see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20746548/

A series report on Iran by the American TV network NBC, especially the section with the title:

A glimpse of Iran you don’t see

http://video.msn.com/v/us/msnbc.htm?f=00&g=b3d2f05e-df3f-4757-ad2f-bbf56a88cf87&p=Source_Today%20Show&t=m5&rf=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20746548/&fg

A bit different from what you usually see in the news!


BPSCG:

Leftists like to say, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

Silly people think that because THEY are reasonable, everyone else will be reasonable. When the only tool you have in your tool box is reasonableness, every brutal thug looks like someone you can reason with.

No, every brutal thug is NOT someone you can reason with. In fact, NO brutal thug is someone you can reason with; if he were, every thug, from schoolyard bullies stealing your lunch money to oil-rich dictators building nuclear weapons and threatening you with extermination, could be reasoned with. The only thing you can do with a brutal thug is make certain you are always ready, willing, and able to kill him if necessary to protect yourself, and make sure he knows it. Otherwise he will try to kill you the moment he gets a chance.

No matter how reasonable you may be.

K:

Another false choice offered by another greasy, slimy, stinking politician.

"You're either with Bush, or you're with Iran."

We get enough of that from the busheviks, for some idiot who doesn't even live here to use the same false-choice crap offered by the busheviks, then to claim some kind of superiority .... what a putz.

And how many of the peasants in your country know where New Orleans is, or Vermont?

.. the oldest university is in Baghdad. So what? Where's the oldest toilet then?

This is called scoring points, if you feel so low you need to score points in this manner, you need to find the world's oldest toilet.

R. Russell:

Any serious exposition on the American condition will come across as farce, satire and comedy. It has been this way for a long time, Mark Twain and Washington Irving knew this. It won't change for a long time.

Jonn Lilyea:

Yes, we should let the enlightened Iranian government continue to hang gays and stone to death victims of rape. No one should confront sexy and smart Mr. Ahmadinejad on his record of denying every citizen of Iraq basic human rights. I mean, if the Iranian government wants to hang men from a crane off the flatbed of a cargo truck in full view of the public after a sham trial, who are we to question? Do we honestly think we're better than that?

Apparently, I'm better than many of the commenters to this self-gratifying nonesense presented on the webpage of a formerly great periodical. The Iranian government is barbaric - to a degree much more extreme than the United States and Americans have been barbaric in our entire history.

It's disnengenuous of the writer to compare the United States to Iran in the realm of civil rights - no, I'm sorry - it's criminal to make such a comparison. Intellectually bankrupt.

Any apologist for the Iranian regime should be sentenced to life imprisonment in that 8th century land lost in time.

Iranian:

Jay,
You can travel to Iran and see for yourself.

Bravo Dr. Ettefagh! With all Starbucks shops around USA, America has not woken up to smell the coffee!

mlee:

People are saying that Americans agree with everything the President says and are taken in and blinded by propoganda that makes us ignorant. That is not necessarily true. YOu're saying that the anti-american senitment from Europe and the middle east is b/c somehow they have access to unbiased and completely fact based media? People in America AND people in Europe and Middle East have been too apt to believe in mass media and anti-islam ( in America) and anti-american (everywhere else) propoganda and it seems Ali Ettafagh has too. Its a kind of reaction really. Reasearch more about Anti-Americanism abroad and see how it affects American's attitude toward isolationism. Despite America's many faults, They do alot for the world community. We can't be successful in every ventuer I'm afraid. I do think that it was somewhat impolitic to invite the President of Iran to come and then attack him. Accusation and hostility will not brig anyone anywhere and its absolutly pointless

Chuck:

Honestly, its not going to matter anyway. Sooner or later they'll get the bomb, and they probably won't be able to resist using it on some sunni hellhole, and then the rest of the world will flatten them, and then they'll have yet another revolution and start over. Honestly, you'd think that in the region where civilization began, with the thousand-year head-start that gave them, the Persian people would have a more functional society by now.

And did anyone else notice how rapidly the pro-Iran responses to "intellectual integrity" followed the exact pattern the poster had just finished pointing out? Instead of addressing the actual points, they went right for America's most obvious weak spot: our intellectually-challenged president and his collection of neo-con cabinet clowns.

Jay:

So... What is Iran like now? Americans know nothing more than what the news tells us about Iran, and you have told us nothing new. Thanks.

L. Bruce:

It's refreshing to get an opinion about the debacle at Columbia that doesn't parrot the official line of the Administration or the mainstream press. I was appalled by the nasty remarks of Bollinger. Ahmedinejad is an elected President of a nation and for the President of Columbia University to invite him to speak and bushwhack him before he had spoken a word was highly insulting. I imagine that Ahmedinajad's approval rating soared in Iran after this sad event.
Thanks, Dr. Ettefagh, for giving us a clear eyed look at Iran.

Randy in Gainesville:

You quote Churchill, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” Yet you then attack anyone with the temerity to point out (jaw-jaw) this man's most outrageous statements and denials. Does my citizenship prevent me from calling him out on anything? Does the fact that Saudi Arabia is such a backward country prevent me from criticizing Iran at all?

Guest Worker:

Here is how I see the score as of today:

Ahmadinejad 1- Chicken Hawks 0.

Chris S:

In response to "Intellectual Integrity"...

I wonder where those middle eastern commentators could have possibly picked up the strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions, either by giving obtuse answers or completely changing the subject?

When is the last time a straight answer was ever given by President Bush, Alberto Gonzales or anybody in this administration?

Gonzales seems to never recall anything when he is pressed on a sensitive matter. Bush completely ignores questions or goes off subject.

So before we can look at how others act and be hypocritical of them, we should take a look at ourselves.

Montanafats:

Mr. Ettefagh is very correct to say that we do not understand the Iran of today. Indeed Iran today is not the Iran of 1970. Yes, Iran has made many changes and yes Iran is now more self sufficient than the Iran of the Shaw and even the Iran of Mossadegh. What Mr. Ettefagh does not discuss is the brutal fact that the Iran of today is stubbornly set on path of confrontation by seeking to become a nuclear entity. Only a pollyanna would ignore or deny that the Iran of today is seeking to develop weapons that will so threaten it's neighbors in a 2000 mile radius of Iran, that they may take unilateral actions to stop their development.

The Iran of today has to face the reality that the rest of the world is not going to allow development of nuclear weaponry or the means to develop or disseminate such provocative devices.

Montanafats:

Mr. Ettefagh is very correct to say that we do not understand the Iran of today. Indeed Iran today is not the Iran of 1970. Yes, Iran has made many changes and yes Iran is now more self sufficient than the Iran of the Shaw and even the Iran of Mossadegh. What Mr. Ettefagh does not discuss is the brutal fact that the Iran of today is stubbornly set on path of confrontation by seeking to become a nuclear entity. Only a pollyanna would ignore or deny that the Iran of today is seeking to develop weapons that will so threaten it's neighbors in a 2000 mile radius of Iran, that they may take unilateral actions to stop their development.

The Iran of today has to face the reality that the rest of the world is not going to allow development of nuclear weaponry or the means to develop or disseminate such provocative devices.

AMviennaVA:

I belive that you are confused. Either that, or you have not watched any of Bush's conferences. Or for that matter the administration tactic of attacking the messenger so vehemently that the attack becomes the issue and not the message.

Jorge:

Great piece. At least women in Iran can drive ;-)

Chris Smitty:

In response to "Intellectual Integrity"...

I wonder where those middle eastern commentators could have possibly picked up the strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions, either by giving obtuse answers or completely changing the subject?

When is the last time a straight answer was ever given by President Bush, Alberto Gonzales or anybody in this administration?

Gonzales seems to never recall anything when he is pressed on a sensitive matter. Bush completely ignores questions or goes off subject.

So before we can look at how others act and be hypocritical of them, we should take a look at ourselves.

Chris Smitty:

In response to "Intellectual Integrity"...

I wonder where those middle eastern commentators could have possibly picked up the strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions, either by giving obtuse answers or completely changing the subject?

When is the last time a straight answer was ever given by President Bush, Alberto Gonzales or anybody in this administration?

Gonzales seems to never recall anything when he is pressed on a sensitive matter. Bush completely ignores questions or goes off subject.

So before we can look at how others act and be hypocritical of them, we should take a look at ourselves.

Chuck:

Interesting that Dr. Ettefagh picks his arguments so carefully- he neglects to mention Iran's ongoing provocation of strife in the Middle East through "puppets" (to borrow one of his phrases) such as Al Quaeda in Iraq and Hizbollah, and its apparent determination to get its hands on nuclear weapons. Moreover, his standard diatribe against the United States fails, as usual, to address the real problem. Americans don't falsely perceive Iran as a creampuff dictatorship. They rightly perceive it as an aggressive wanna-be regional hegemon, a destabilizing force for fundamentalist insanity in an already unstable Middle East, and the root of many of their problems in Iraq.
And as for isolationist policies never working, how close is Cuba to getting nuclear weapons? How close are they they to building a working airplane, for that matter?
I'm the first to agree that American foreign policy in the gulf is perpetually messed-up, especially with the current dimwit in office, but surely there's someone with a little more credibility around to make this point more rationally (and less disingenuously)?

Chris Smitty:

In response to "Intellectual Integrity"...

I wonder where those middle eastern commentators could have possibly picked up the strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions, either by giving obtuse answers or completely changing the subject?

When is the last time a straight answer was ever given by President Bush, Alberto Gonzales or anybody in this administration?

Gonzales seems to never recall anything when he is pressed on a sensitive matter. Bush completely ignores questions or goes off subject.

So before we can look at how others act and be hypocritical of them, we should take a look at ourselves.

Chris Smitty:

In response to "Intellectual Integrity"...

I wonder where those middle eastern commentators could have possibly picked up the strategy of avoiding direct answers to questions, either by giving obtuse answers or completely changing the subject?

When is the last time a straight answer was ever given by President Bush, Alberto Gonzales or anybody in this administration?

Gonzales seems to never recall anything when he is pressed on a sensitive matter. Bush completely ignores questions or goes off subject.

So before we can look at how others act and be hypocritical of them, we should take a look at ourselves.

Jack:

Intellectual Integrity:

Lets have President Bush answer question by Middle Eastern reporters and see how he is able to answer. Then we can talk about "intellectual bankruptcy" or the "chance for a stable, functioning society in this century."

Rory:

More burble from the Iranian spin machine. Comparing the plight - sorry, "condition" - of Iranian women to those of Saudi Arabia? Claiming undefined "tangible progress" in a country with high levels of inflation that actually has to import gas despite sitting on some of the largest reserves in the world? These are disingenous comparisons and completely without merit.

America is not in an isolation bubble. We see the dangers Iran represents, perhaps more clearly than we have in decades. Your militant, totally inflexible leaders having been singing the same tune for years and show no signs of bending to the international complaints about their regime that you claim the United States is oblivious to.

Stop killing journalists and gays. Stop treating women as subservient creatures only worth 50% of a Muslim man and who must dress up in a portable tent so those "holy" Muslim men won't flip out and just rape them. Stop agitating for nuclear "civilian" technology in a country that won't lack for petroleum resources for hundreds of years. Stop funding terrorist organizations around the globe as your proxies because you aren't man enough to at least step up for your virulent acts - like Hezbollah, which shamelessly takes Iranian money and lobs Iranian weapons into Israel in advance of radical Islam. Only when Iran stops doing these things - basic elements of civilization that were established not today, but hundreds of years ago in Europe - will you have the right to critize others.

Middle Eastern:

Dear Intellectual Integrity:


First of all, we try to be polite when we INVITE guests. The Yank at Columbia failed that test.

Second, who in the world gave America the right to pass judgment on other nations?

Third, the oldest university in the world is in Baghdad.

Finally, if Lee Bollinger is not fired, it means that all other Americans are just as rude and absurd as this guy. If he thinks he has a license to insult the elected president of another country because he is "educated", give me an uneducated Ahmadinejad any day.....

Sam:

I totally agree with this writer. The problem with most Americans is that they can't or don't want to think independently. Most of them live in their own little worlds which includes probably the town, or city they live in, or state at most in some cases, MLB, NBA, NFL, and the things of their own world. Just when you take these sports, it is funny how they call their own league finals the "World Championship". In any case, many of them just want to agree with their President or the people that govern them. I think that is very dangerous for a vibrant democracy that claims to be one of the largest in the world and most advanced.

None of these people who think Iran is one of the 'axes of evil' don't really care about what the people of Iran want or what they think about their own country and how things have gotten better or worse for them. The saddest part is, when someone like this writer takes the opportunity to speak out so their voices are heard, we have people like "Intellectual Integrity" who are set out just to criticize without taking a few minutes to understand what the author is saying. So much for a free thinking democracy.

Concerned:

Because of Isreali lobbyists we MUST consider Iran an enemy of the United States. Very sad.

Intellectual Integrity:

All nations have faults. Pointing out America's faults does not diminish Iran's massive faults in any way. Also, Middle Eastern commentators and politicians have an interesting style when dealing with questions.

1) Answer a question with a question.
2) When you can't think of a question to respond with, provide an obtuse answer.
3) When all else fails, point out the faults of the man, woman, country asking the question, and then fail to answer the actual question.

Next time you watch or listen to Middle Eastern speakers/politicians, watch what they do.

Talk about intellectual bankruptcy! No wonder most of the Middle East (not all) stands little chance for a stable, functioning society in this century.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.