Grace under pressure

I continue to be impressed, and occasionally entranced, by the wit, restraint, artistry and grace of the articulate opposition. It is no mean achievement, in the teeth of violence, torture and rape, to produce satire of this order. Somehow the preservation of humanity is integral to its appeal.

Ahmadinejad and fly, by Garland in Daily Telegraph

For instance, I commend this animation of an Ahmadinejad election speech. Bear in mind that this man is notorious for his lies (and his halo). He will say absolutely anything, having no sort of intuition of the difference between truth and falsehood.

Lucky viewers at the Venice Film Festival are being treated, not only to Green Days by Hana Makhmalbaf, as reported earlier, but to the talents of several of the younger generation of Iranian film-makers.


Similarly, a wonderful anthology of recent photos may be seen here. It is impressive to see what appears to be the entire population swarming in the streets of Tehran, emphatically rejecting the monkey government that lies all the time and spends oil revenues promoting world terrorism. It is very tiresome to be governed by terrorists.

It would be physically impossible to fit a single extra person into the streets in some of these photos.

“We can win,” they say. In every case known to history a brutal dictatorship has capitulated in the face of universal popular rejection. To rule, one needs moral authority. In the case of present day Iran, the regime can, in addition, be relied upon to do everything necessary to ensure its own extinction. If they had conceded to popular feeling after the fake election, the Islamic regime would have tottered on with some harmless dope like Mousavi in charge. Now the people will be content with nothing less than the end of the Islamic Republic.

If you don’t follow the logic of this, try the evidence of yet another male rape victim. That should make it clear.

Caspian Makan

Caspian Makan

This fiancé of Neda Sultan has reportedly been released from Evin Prison ─ without a forced confession. Amnesty International remains fearful for him, however: prisoners released “on bail” are often subsequently put on trial.

Donkey philosophy

Khamenei in his Friday sermon (on 11- Sep-9) has said:

جدایی دین از سیاست باعث “غیراخلاقی شدن” سیاست می شود ,

“The separation of religion and politics is the cause of immorality.” But the separation of politics and morality is the basis of religion, in his case. Notice how all the prison guards, challenged as to the Islamic justification for their brutal rapes, say the same thing: It was sanctioned by the Supreme Leader!

Rank of dishonour

In a further twist, people are coming forward with other stories of this kind. For instance, after raping one woman in prison who appeared to miscarry, a prison guard enquired if she was pregnant. “I might have been,” she replied. The man clapped his hand to his forehead. “I didn’t have permission for that!”

Permission to rape a non-pregnant woman, but not a pregnant one. That’s a different rule. What does this say about a people who think religion consists in being told what to do by a higher authority who issues rules?

Versatile philosophy

Roger Scruton, versatile philosopher, writes about ‘Dealing with Iran’ in the latest American Spectator. The 1979 taking of American diplomatic hostages was the source act from which 30 years of policy followed:

President Carter chose not to regard this outrage as a declaration of war, though de facto, and probably de jure, that is what it was … His failure to retaliate at the moment when retaliation was called for is the root cause, in my view, of Khomeini’s triumph […]

Aftter the dream, weeping tears of gas

As we know, since then there has been more of the same:

Two years ago Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized 15 British navy personnel from a patrol boat in the Gulf and enjoyed the opportunity to show the powerlessness of the Royal Navy … The 15 were released, after the usual humiliations, and Iranian power, belligerence, and self-confidence was ratcheted up another notch … [More recently] innocent people are taken prisoner from the British embassy—Iranians, this time, but accused of collaboration with a hostile foreign power. And again we rush around in a flurry of doubt, consulting our feeble partners in the EU, wondering whether to break off diplomatic relations, while the BBC goes out of its way to remind us that Britain and America have a long and disgraceful record of interference in Iranian affairs, and that after all the paranoia might be justified.

Scruton makes the comparisons with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union:

States can be paranoid in the same way … Paranoid states regard others as threats or mysteries, which must be brought under control. They have no conception of dialogue and regard diplomacy as war by other means. They crush opposition at home, since self-criticism is as much a threat … They proceed in a straight line until encountering some external force, like Nazi Germany, or hitting a brick wall, like the Soviet Union.

Iran democracy 16-Jun-09

He favours minimal contact with, indeed avoidance of, the regime with the ‘personality disorder’, but fears that such common sense may be lacking in our own rulers:

Do [our governments] respond as you and I respond to the sight of flag-burning, air-punching, slogan-shouting men who seem to have nothing behind their beards save teeth? … The Iranians have been permitted a run of cost-free bellicosity, during which we maintain embassies and trade relations that serve no purpose but to maintain the supply of innocent victims, should victims be needed. We constantly endeavour to enter into dialogue with senile buffoons who have mastered no style of speech save that of the monologue; we tolerate the presence of President Ahmadinejad in New York, where he is able to address Columbia University without fear of being blindfolded and paraded on television as he deserves […]

The continuity with the confrontations of the twentieth century is upheld:

Green hearts, we are all together

A paranoid state will sign treaties; it will present a smiling face like the faces of Hitler at Munich and Stalin at Yalta; it will indignantly protest whenever some minute obligation undertaken by others seems to have been neglected. But it cannot be bound by treaties and will always regard them as instruments for achieving its ultimate goal of domination. Its dialogues are carefully disguised monologues, and it looks for the sources of criticism not in order to listen to them, but in order to silence them … Hence all diplomacy with the Soviet Union had the effect of increasing Soviet power, as we bound ourselves by treaties that the Soviets disregarded, and as we opened our resources, our media, and our gullible intellectuals to a power that would never reciprocate so precious a gift. It is only when Ronald Reagan arrived on the scene, and decided to place a brick wall in the unalterable path of the great machine, that it came abruptly to a halt.

It may seem facile to attribute psychological attributes to a nation state; but Scruton has covered this ground before, in The West and the Rest: globalisation and the terrorist threat (London: Continuum, 2002). Here is what he had to say:

[…] in the West, but not in the rest, there is a political process generating corporate agency, collective responsibility, and moral personality in the state (p. 134) … The nation-state can therefore be praised and blamed, hated and loved … When we speak of the United States as negotiating a treaty, as building up its army, as declaring war on terrorism, we are not speaking metaphorically … There is no such entity as Iraq, only a legal fiction erected by the United Nations for the purpose of dealing with whichever individual, clique or  faction is for the moment holding the people of that country hostage (p. 135) … The formal defeat of Iraq was the defeat of a legal fiction (p. 139) … with the exception of delegates from personal states, those who turn up to UN meetings literally have no business being there. They are not the representatives of the people from whose territory they come, and if they speak for anyone it is for the party, faction, or tyrant who sent them (p. 145).

When you kill eight infinity is born

Scruton barely mentions the current struggle of ‘normal people’ against their vicious and unscrupulous government, but no doubt he remembers his youth in Czechoslovakia.