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Joel Whitney: All About Iran

June 22, 2009

If you’re trying to keep tabs on what’s going on in Iran, and want a bit more background, below are some smart, long videos with a variety of viewpoints, preceded by a fantastic article from the _New York Review of Books_. I’m intrigued (though not surprised) that the US media are covering this so extensively, and that the public is responding the way it is. It’s of course a great story no matter what your political viewpoint. Americans love tales of underdogs up against the repressive state, and that’s how this is being presented to us. I would only suggest that those of us who aren’t Iran experts avoid what Mahmood Mamdani “accused”:https://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/1031/the_genocide_myth/ the Save Darfur Coalition of fostering: “[feeling] virtuous even when acting on the basis of total ignorance.”

I’m not alone in asking what besides the underdog story might be fueling our interest; there’s fertile territory there, a perfect (if ugly) confluence. In an “interview from last year”:https://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/506/man_with_a_country/, Iran’s USA scholar, and former Ohio resident, Seyed Mohammad Marandi told _Guernica_ that demonizing Iran is an American pastime. I think he’s right, and we should probably (many of us) hold our tongues until we know a little more. There’s also of course the fresh, refreshed images of Tiananmen Square, since the 20th anniversary just passed. That can’t fail to echo with these young reformers out on the streets. And finally, of course, many here in the U.S. have likely fantasized over the past eight years that our own youth might have risen up in response to election irregularities of both the 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections. It is beyond strange our habit of, perhaps addiction to, disdaining our own cultural dysfunction, in part at least, by projecting it on some Bad Guy—in this case Iran. (If we wanted to have a national dialog about election theft, would 2004 have been a great time?) But it’s also an opportunity for the conservatives to paint President Obama as weak; remember what a big deal it was to Candidate McCain that Obama would deign to _talk_ to these bad guys. Here’s proof what vain weakness, what folly, this soft liberal thinking is. Except it’s not. And conservatives haven’t had a foreign policy insight since 1989.

And so learn we must; without further ado, here’s “a long and smart review”:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22772 of recent books on Iran published in the 7/2/09 issue of _New York Review of Books_. (This via Kate Perkins of “n+1″:http://www.nplusonemag.com/.)

And here’s a video from Fora.TV and Janera, called The Persian Paradox: Understanding Iran and Iranians. This was recorded just a week and a half before the elections, and you’ll learn things that don’t seem to be appearing in breaking news coverage. It’s followed by more videos on Iran from “Fora”:http://fora.tv/search_video.php?sort=date_down&q=iran.

“Why”:http://www.merip.org/mer/mer250/abrahamian.html has the Islamic Republic survived since 1979?

Mousavi’s “biggest blunders”:http://www.aljazeera.com/news/articles/39/Mousavi_s_big_blunders.html.

Aggregated Iran coverage “here”:http://www.payvand.com/news/ (again via Kate Perkins).

And Steven Kinzer “argues”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jun/19/iran-protests-mousavi-mossadeq that the protesters want reform without US intervention. See the interview I did with Kinzer “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/298/americas_century_of_regime_cha/ for more on the US overthrow of Mossadegh.

“Here is the link”:http://fora.tv/search_video.php?sort=date_down&q=iran to Fora’s Iran coverage.

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