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July 01, 2005

Kidnapper President
Posted by Michael Signer

On the revelation that Iran's new President may have been an organizer of the 1980 hostage-taking in Tehran, I have to disagree with my friend Kevin Drum, who writes:

I'm not sure that this really matters a lot, since Ahmadinejad has been routinely described as ultra conservative all along and it's pretty obvious that neither he nor the clerics who actually run Iran have any love lost for the United States. But it's an interesting tidbit anyway and I thought you might be interested.

Well, I completely disagree.  I side with Laura Rozen, who writes, "It's hard to imagine that US-Iran relations could get much worse but this would be the kind of historical irony that could do it." 

On reflection, I'm concerned less by what this signifies of any further intentions by (this may have been Kevin's point) Ahmadinejad, than by how the Administration will react to this predicament.  Especially with an Administration possessed with all the nimble diplomatic skills of, say, William Wallace, Ahmadinejad's past is going to present a terrible challenge. 

Ahmadinejad was already going to be a terrible pain in the ass.  The media has generally just described him as a "hard-liner," without going into specifics.  But look at a description in the Khaleej Times of a June 24th campaign rally for the "little street-sweeper":

British, US and Israeli flags had been painted on the ground at the entrance to the mosque so voters could sully them with the soles of their feet as they entered.

Ahmadinejad proceeded to praise the "martyrs of Islam" in his speech, as well as the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini." 

Well, so there's all of that, which could be interpreted (a) as raw affection for suicide bombing, (b) sheer pandering to the lower-class population that constituted his base, (c) a little bit of both. 

But, still, the picture may be more complex.  In his same speech, Ahmadinejad proceeded to extoll freedom.  Freedom, you say?  Really?  Just read what he said:

"Freedom is the spirit of the Islamic revolution and it is God's biggest gift to the Iranian nation.  We want to spread freedom in all aspects and we will have the biggest freedom in the spheres of economy, society, and politics.  Today the freedom in Iran is unique but compared to the desired freedom we are just the beginning of the way."

There are several ways to interpret these remarks:  (1) It's a whole-hearted lie, aimed at converting a popular sort of Western freedom-rhetoric in a media-sensitive age to soften Ahmadinejad's image, a little, (2) To Ahmadinejad, "freedom" is code for "rebellion against Western cultural decadence and political and military imperialism," and (3) There's actually a very subtle emerging doctrine of nativist nationalist Iranian/Islamic proto-democracy whose best aspects are worth cultivating by the United States. 

I think (3) is the answer, bolstered by a fascinating speech titled "Letter to Tomorrow" by Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Khatami, from this spring.  Khatami says (and apologies for the length quotation, but I think it's necessary to truly get the flavor of this new ideology):

Advancing toward a democratic system demands that a democratic culture be nourished. In our country, this culture can thrive and flourish by relying on Islamic justice and modesty, which have brought justice to the humanity, and have also been the factors contributing to the establishment and consolidation of democratic social relations, norms and practices and democratic political processes as well. It is left to our young generation to contemplate on the exiting historical situation and follow up its brave demand for establishment of a democracy compatible with its religion and culture; recognize both its resources and impediments and deal with them prudently. Democracy is a concept, a path and a process.

And then this passage on Iran’s resentment of outside influence.

A generation, which is agonized by dependence, which rightfully considers itself deserving freedom, without breaking away from its own national culture and religion and which is fearful and resentful of extremist and the narrow-minded moves that try to impose their violent and biased guardianship and volition on societies should be made to take charge of its own destiny lest deviated thoughts, narrow-mindedness and illusions hijack the great opportunity afforded to us, our Revolution and our noble people in this era. 

Ahmadinejad's victory speech makes a little more sense in light of his predecessor's remarks, which indicate some appreciation for the Western ideal of freedom, strained through the sieve of Iranian Islamist culture.  Ahmadinejad has already made some surprising overtures to the West,  politically, suggesting in his victory speech:

We are interested in protecting the rights of the Iranian people, and there is no one who can tell us not to use this technology. And if we look at this with mutual trust and understanding and if the European Union is committed to what they promised, we will continue our cooperation with them.

Based on all of this, there's a chance -- a small chance, granted -- that there's a narrow, brambly, but promising path for US-Iranian relations, focused on cultivating the intriguing hybrid of nativist self-respect; education; increasing secularization and a rolling-back of the clerics' institutional power; a growth in democratic institutions; growth in the lower-class, fanatic-breeding economy; and careful, deft diplomacy focused on carrots as well as sticks.

With some blend of these ingredients, there's a chance we could help this populist leader walk out of the wilderness and into the world.

But if we react to this hostage story -- as horrifying as it is -- with the President's customary sturm und drang, we're going to make things worse.


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I believe they know it all along .CIA has been operating inside Iran well over half century. They had file on this guy and now they want to black mail Mullas even further other wise who cares what the man has done.
The whole hostage tking was a set up to bring the Republican Regan to power anyway.

If he was one of the hostage takers I m more worring for Iran than the US,because the whole hostage taking was front to cover the real face of Pro-American Mullah Rfsnjani and his devotion to serve Imperilism by his policies of Free Market economy,

IRANIAN ELECTION COUP: The Mullah Who Stole The Election


Democracy is a double edge sword used by the ruling class to rule by deceit rather than the naked dictatorial force. Iranian Mullahs are master of this theater of absurd. For centuries their livelihood has come from the reruns Martyrdom Tragedy of Imam Hossien and they are master of theatric illusions.. Americans wanted an election and the clever Mullahs delivered a perfect election. The tragedy of the masses of oppressed Iranians is that the hard liners who chant “Death to America” are the one who are in bed with Americans. As Iranians approach to the infamous 51st anniversary of the CIA coup which crushed their Democracy, their aspiration for social change through democratic means is blown apart by a Mullah Coup which stole the Iranian Election.

It seems that close to the 51st Anniversary of despicable American Coup to topple MOSSADEGH in Iran , American Mullahs have carried a coup dressed in election rhetoric to continue their rule in Iran. They have successfully derailed the reform movement and with the vast propaganda machines have made the world believe that an unknown “pawn” actually won a “legitimate” election in Iran. Mullahs of Iran are the living proof that Democracy and Democratic Elections can be manipulated in the Middle East too. Election fraud is not the monopoly of Americans only. It is becoming clear that Mullah Rafsanjani entered the race for the sole purpose to divide the vote for the reform candidates in order to steal the election for the Mullahs.

It is highly possible that the clever Mullahs of Iran who are master in the art of religious theatrics pulled off the biggest stunt of all, they stole the election and derailed the reform movement in Iran. The world wanted the vote and they had their base organized. They saw the challenge . They sensed the danger. Then cleverly devised an strategy to win the election. Mullah Rafsanjani, entered the race not as a conservative candidate, but as a liberal with his army of call girls and drug pushers to announce the coming of reform. All they wanted to do is to disqualify the reform candidates from the run off. Even Ghalibaf , the conservative front runner candidate, was surprised by the outcome. The secretive Mullah hierarchy had planned and executed an election coup.

If we equate Democracy just with voting, Iranians have gone to polls and in a fair campaign have elected a president. No body should worry about the process of selection, had the system left 1000 candidate to run separately, still the recommendation and approval of the Spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei would have had similar effects. Therefore, we must respect the wishes of Iranians and the nation should unite behind Ahmadi Nejad as the new president. This is how is done in all Western Democracies. But the Government of the oppressed can not continue to be an instrument of oppression. The new government must prove its viability, transparency and authenticity by action rather than slogans.

Now that the ruling Mullahs with a great help from their God father Billionaire Mullah succeeded in pulling a political coup, Mullahs are in unquestionable control of all branches of the government of Iran, there is time for reflection. However, now that the presidency is under the control of "Osool Gerayan"(fundamentalists)the regime could blame no one else for its failure in the past 26 years. Therefore, the regime must come clear and present rapid solution for immediate problems that exist in Iran.

Iran is facing with such fundamental economic and social problems form 26 years of neglect and mismanagement that cosmetic changes and political slogans alone can not fix it. The legitimacy of election would be ultimately decided by actions rather than cosmetic changes. Denouncing the past is not enough if those who in the past 26 years ruled in Iran stay in position of power and privilege and are the root causes of devastation of Iran continue their escapades. Those who caused Iran's problem were not aliens from outer space, they were part and parcel of this failed economic and social system that must be uprooted.

This is a fundamentalist government and must be applauded because the New president has declared that it would take Iran back to the ideals of humanistic socialistic Islam. The Government of the oppressed, by the Oppressed and for the Oppressed with Mullahs as Catalyst not prime beneficiary. This is a fallacious argument since this supposedly new system has been there for the past 26 years. If the fundamentalists claim that Ideals of Islam was hijacked by Rafsanjani and others then they must bring the wart of God on the now otherwise they are hijacking Islam under a new turban. Therefore any claim of legitimacy of this new government directly relates to the question of punishment of the perpetrators of crime against Iran.
Without punishing those who subjugated, rubbed, expropriated resources and transferred our resources to outside corporations this government would be another hollow drum beating to fool the masses for the next 25 years.


Sons and daughters of many mullahs are spoiled by the loots of their fathers. WEALTH IN THE HANDS OF A FEW DOSE NOT BRING DEVELOPMENT. One fashionable lady in a late model car while millions are forced into cultural slavery is not the sign of freedom. These are facades of the nations, signs of economic corruption and not progress in the Iranian Society. When one sees wonderful lives, Racy Cars, expensive Restaurants, Million dollars Villas , fashionable women with original designer Cloths of an elite , in the midst of poverty , destitution and despair of sixty nine million population, whose average yearly income is below $1800, you have to smell the dictatorship of Mullahs and not the egalitarian ideology of Islam in action.
The Government of the oppressed must introduce progressive system of taxation so the rich would not get richer and the income get redistributed. Fast times for Mullahs and downturns for the masses must end now. Mullahs are facilitators of spiritual and economic relations between the oppressed man and Allah not an agent for transfer of God's natural resources to an oppressor elite. Therefore every body including Rafsanjani family and associates must be brought to justice by forcing to declare how they have acquired their wealth and face the Islamic justice. All fast hand Mullahs who have converted the wealth of the nation must be exposed and punished severly.

In actual 1979 dollar, per capita income in Iran has fallen by 7 per cent, while the wealth of a handful has gone up astronomically. May be in addition to other program the new government must consider, as karrobie suggested, $60.00 dollars month to every Iranian each month.

Inflation in Iran is 25 percent, that means the bankrupt policies of Free Market, that Rafsanjani initiated must be changed. Printing money and spending on consumer goods abroad actually made Iran more dependant.

Capital Flight from Iran, that is money earned from profit or sales of national resources in Iran that is being siphoned out by Mullahs and invested in Foreign corporations, is a minimum of 3 billion dollars yearly. The government must immediately stop any and all sort of capital transfer.

Under economic miss management Iran is actually an importer of refined oil. It pays $2 billion dollars, yearly, in hard currency for its dependency. If this election was not a sham then this process must stop immediately by reinvestment in refineries and accelerating the present projects for development of oil by- production Iran. This would quadruple Iran's revenue from central bank oil and provide the necessary jobs for the unemployed.

In the past 26 years Iranian Rial, that is the sweat and blood money that people get from their hard work, has decreased in value 120 times under 1979 value of the US dollar. That is thanks the Islamic Republic monetary policy the US dollars which has fallen in value through out the world has improved its buying power in Iran. 120 per cent e to s per cent. Never mind the "Death to America" Slogans, this regime has This system has helped the American Dollar holders and not the average honest bread winners in Iran. If the system do not stop printing worthless Rials,does not stop "Capital Flight,” and does not stop Rials Free Fall then it proves that the whole election was a sham.

The economy has not produced enough jobs and the unemployment rate is about 30 percent. Actually, The regime has been actively engaged to purchase factories abroad and transfer the wealth of Iran outside. The Government which was installed in Iran under the deceptive name of Islamic Republic has succeeded in its mission which was the “theft of Iran’s wealth”. All has been achieved under the Rafsanjani’s design and supervision. If this government claims to represent the underclass then must order the arrest of Rafsanjani and his gangs.

Right before the 1979 Shah had plans to un-peg Iran from the US dollars and sell Iran oil in an open market and under the Rafsanjani’s scheme Iranian Oil is being sold below its value of fifteen years ago because it is pegged to a declining dollar. From every gallon of oil actually less than .30 cents go to Iran. This hideous process must immediately be stopped. Any regime which does not stop this wholesale auction of Iran is committing treason against Iranians, no how it market itself. Any regime that screams death to America for propaganda and in practice has condemned Iranians to a slow death, is based on hypocrisy. There is no excuse to sell a gallon of oil less than a gallon of bottled water.

Rafsanjani ‘s fingerprint is all over the blue print of Dictatorship of Terrorist Mullahs who hi jacked the mere social discontent with their nationalistic benevolent dictatorship, to an ultra malevolent reactionary anti-nationalist regime. He has operated this system from the beginning for his American and British masters and if the regime does not expose him , his allies and associates who manage BILLIONS OF DOLLARS of stolen money invested in Canada and elsewhere. No claim of legitimacy is acceptable until the Government of the oppressed rid itself of Rafsnajani , the Godfather of all oppressors, and its lackys.

Out of all the people who've died for Islam between Muhammad's day and this, is there any reason that when Ahmadinejad says "martyrs of Islam" he must mean suicide bombers?

That's just it. Because he WAS the voice of the captors way back then, it's the first thing we think of and we can't get it out of our minds so it influences our actions.

Which is why I want whatever Singer is drinking because this is going to be a disaster. It's been a tough week.


I think you are far off the mark in your strained attempt to interpret Ahmadinejad's comments on freedom in some way as to connect them with Western political thought, and therefore as some sort of gesture or overture to the West. You seem to think that only Western political thought extols freedom as a value or virtue, and thus that Ahmadinejad's comments must then be in some way Westward looking, either an attempt to appropriate Western rhetoric, react to Western culture or move toward Western ideals. All three of these interpretations are too inward-looking and miss the point.

There is nothing new or surprising or cryptic in Ahmadinejad's talk of freedom - no subtle signals for Western audiences. Rhetorical appeals to freedom are a common component of modern political Islam, as well as historical Islam, and they have been part of the revolutionary Khomeinist discourse of the Iranian republic since the beginning. The notions of national independence, and both personal and national freedom from oppression, are enshrined in Article Two of the Iranian Constitution.

"Islam" means submission, and it is standard in Islamic thought that when one submits to the will of God, one achieves the freedom and peace that come from ending the struggle against one's true nature, and one's enslavement to the false gods of the ignorant and faithless. It is also standard that it is the perogative of God alone to rule, and that the rule of some men by other men is a usurpation of God's authority, a perversion of the divinely ordained order, and a form of oppression characteristic of the un-Islamic House of War. It is held that a perfect Islamic community, one based on God's Law alone, would be a community that experiences the most perfect freedom - freedom from oppression of men by men, feedom from internal strife, and freedom from the suffering that comes from enslavement to material goods and selfish pursuits.

Also it is strange that you would think that a reference to the "martyrs of Islam" must primarily refer to suicide bombers. Iran is a state in which Shi'a Islam is the state religion, and Shiism is a religion largely built around devotion to martyrs, and particularly the martyrdom of Hussein. References to the martyrs of Islam in Iran are as commonplace as references to American patriots here in America.

I find this whole affair rather remarkable. A hard-liner wins in Iran,and suddenly ,to the delight of the villians in the White House,the man is (a kidnapper) and possibly(an hit man )to boot. What Luck for the Bushies.!!How came they never became aware of this while he had a very public career as Mayor of Tehran. in recent years..and I think when the US administreation calls somebody a"hard-liner",that actually means he is someone the Bush admin. can budge or doesn't like.! Here in Australia sections of the media and the public are openly derisive,but that"s what Bush and Co get for being seen as such damnliars!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Michael: You may be right that there is a small chance for a "narrow, brambly, but promising path for US-Iranian relations". But progressives will need to sound stronger if they make that case.

We cannot sound forgiving of people who kidnap Americans, no matter how many years have passed or how terrible the shah was.

Even if, or especially if, Bush decides not to use this to step up calls for regime change, he will try to make Dems look like apologists for Iranian hardliners.

Perhaps focus on human rights issues for regular Iranians would be the best, and most consistent, stance for Dems now. And greater energy conservation, because democracy in the Middle East may mean anti-US winners.

You know, in a nutty, hostage-taker-coddling sort of way, the silver lining could be that he may empower the presidency in a way that a reformer could not. That would be at the expense of the unelected rulers.

As all powerful people are wont to do, it's likely that he will try to make himself and his position more powerful. In this case, that's good for democracy.

I don't know how that translates into a progressive policy for Dems to promote, and I don't think "we like Ahmadinejad" buttons are in order, but it's something.

PS- When I said "We cannot sound forgiving of people who kidnap Americans", I meant the hostage takers themselves, not all Iranians.

But maybe the best thing is for Dems not to get into a debate about Ahmadinejad and his role. Ignore it. We shouldn't apologize for him so why talk about it?

Repubicans can complain about election results if they want, but we gain nothing by discussing it.

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