By Martin Love

Exhibiting confidence and strength can be a delicate dance

February 4, 2018

Fiction or not, and it’s probably not at all, there is this term floating about regarding who really runs the U.S. government called the “Deep State”.

This entity, assuming it is something fairly organized and real, consists of institutions like the CIA, and NSA and perhaps even the big players in the mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and the big network broadcasters. And it may include major so-called “think tanks” as well, this latter staffed by pundits, alleged intellectuals, writers and policy promoters in or around what Donald Trump in 2016 characterized as “the Swamp”, denoting Washington.  Well, one thing is for sure, the U.S. is now a democracy in name only, even with elections, because many of those who manage to become candidates for public office have already passed a litmus test and if their views diverge too far from this Deep State (it would seem), they never manage to become acceptable candidates, even if they claim they are.

One case in point is that of Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. soldier, who blew the lid off war crimes in Iraq in 2010 when he gave Wikileaks classified documents and videos detailing some of the military abuses in the Middle East. Manning, a transgender, was imprisoned and ultimately sentenced to decades in prison until Barack Obama pardoned him.  Now, Manning is apparently going to run for the U.S. Senate in his current home state of Maryland. Most people think he hasn’t a chance of winning any election, but stranger things have happened and his campaign ahead, whatever it consists of, will at least be interesting to watch.

Now, in the U.S., huge efforts are underway to limit public exposure to the ideas and reports of dissenters on Facebook, Twitter, the Internet and other social and informational media platforms. And we already know billions of dollars have been spent to keep tabs on not just Americans but a good portion of the entire world by vacuuming up e mails, telephone conversations and more. It’s like nothing ever seen before, in part because the technology is available, and it would put past totalitarian or repressive regimes like, say, East Germany with its Stasi apparatus, or perhaps even the reign of the Shah in Iran with his Savak goons, to shame for having nothing so intrusive and objectionable.

Meanwhile, regarding Iran, we see the Trump administration and others attacking the JCPOA, a good agreement addressing the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons based not on trust but on tough verification procedures.  But here’s what is especially galling. That whenever one reads reports in the U.S. from academia or the mainstream media about the JCPOA and its merits or demerits, the almost universal presumption is that Iran was aiming to have nuclear weapons, or eventually build them.  And yet Iranian authorities have at bottom said that such weapons are anathema to Islam and Islamic values, and that Iran never had any serious intention, at least as the Islamic Republic since 1979, to build them, even if Iran developed some rudimentary capacity to do so. You really can’t get any clearer if Iran, as the ISLAMIC Republic, declares nukes verboten to Islam. Otherwise, Iranian authorities could be treading into a supreme hypocrisy that undercuts the very ideological foundation of the revolution and the current state! So, one must ask, why the presumption in the West? Why can’t Iranian authorities be believed?

I really don’t think the non-belief is about nukes, or the gripes about Iran. One reason is simply that it makes NO sense for Iran to have nuclear weapons, because they would not be a real deterrence against attack by the U.S. and Israel and maybe other countries. The nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Israel would ever be far superior and more dangerous, and Iran might only invite a preemptive attack that would be disastrous for the entire Middle East. Netanyahu for one has been itching to attack Iran for decades and drag the U.S. into a joint campaign. Frankly, we now know from recent history that countries that wind up as alleged or implied enemies of the U.S. land in such an onerous position because, quite simply, they won’t align themselves with U.S. “empire” or hegemony, which anyway is very slowly melting away. Remember what happened to the USSR in the late 1980s. It exhausted itself trying to maintain military might, and in Afghanistan, too. This, I believe, this exhaustion is ahead for the U.S.  It seems inevitable and patience is required to see it play out, and then, perhaps, a more peaceful world, one would hope or dream.

But some observers in the U.S. like me wonder. Iran must try to do its part and try to appear magnanimous to some degree, to obviate criticism from the U.S. and so-called “allies” like Israel. The latest suggestion by Mohammad Javad Zarif about setting up mechanisms for real dialogue between countries on the Persian Gulf is a fabulous idea. We see, for example, the two Koreas attempting to do just this, an effort which in some respects makes tremendous sense and excludes the U.S. from pretending it is “protecting” that part of Asia when, in fact, it’s mostly looking after its own narrow interests. The same might be accomplished, say, between Iran and other Mideast countries.

Obviating Western criticism of Iran may also be inherent in much smaller matters, such as perhaps going easier on some Iranians who have been in the West and then imprisoned in Iran when they returned to their native country.  Whatever the charges against them, some of them (if not all) may not truly be serious “threats” to Iran and letting them go could improve Iran’s standing from a PR perspective. Again, the matter of handing the U.S. “ammunition”. Magnanimity and forgiveness, which seems to be a deeply forgotten concept in the U.S., really is or can be a real, convincing sign of confidence and strength whether one is talking about an individual OR an entire country such as the U.S. or Iran.  We certainly don’t see magnanimity in the U.S., not with any government in several decades, although Obama did do a good thing in letting Chelsea Manning out of prison for revealing truths, even if they were “classified”.

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