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February 18, 2006

Voted for by people who thought his policies were the kind that would make life better for ordinary people and return their society to its roots, he's done nothing so advance that agenda so far.

And yet, he is managing to consolidate his hold on power, rebuilding the government and placing his supporters in positions of power and influence everywhere possible. He's replacing experienced diplomats and economic figures with his personal cronies, regardless of suitability for the job.

And he's increasingly disliked by both the Religious Right and the Liberals on the Left.

George Bush? Good guess.

But, no.

Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

For those playing along at home, you will need to learn to spell the name. Ahmadinejad is Iran's president and probably the one we'll be making war against, if things continue to play out as they have so far.

Just to add to the excitement, Iran's current leader has even more in common with our nutty leadership.

At the center of this unfolding drama is the perplexing figure of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has managed to isolate, enrage and frighten important domestic and external constituencies in the space of only six months.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Although it took most of the complacent USofA population, Left and Right, longer than 6 months to figure out that the Bush Administration was peopled by extremist nutcases.

But never mind us. This is about Iran and about how we're Funding regime change.

I've been wondering, in a vague sort of way, just what Rice wanted to do with that $75 million she's requesting to "promote democracy" in Iran.

Of the new outlay, $50 million will go toward Farsi radio broadcasts; another $15 million is earmarked for increasing participation in the political process, including measures such as expanded Internet access. The Bush administration hopes to spend $5 million to fund scholarships and fellowships for young Iranians, and the State Department said $5 million "would go to public diplomacy efforts aimed at Iran, including its Persian-language website".

"The United States will actively confront the aggressive policies of the Iranian regime," Rice said. "At the same time, we will work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy in their country."

Okay, so we're spending $75 million in an attempt to erase history, convince the Iranian people that we're the good guys, and try to bring about "regime change" in the country? But, as the article goes on to say, Iran already enjoys relatively free access to satellite radio and the internet. Pressure from outside, especially the USofA, and especially now, will only increase the forces currently working to shut down public dissent.

For example, from the first article mentioned above:

Reformists and conservatives alike are desperate to avoid war, for diametrically opposed reasons. For the former, aggression by the US would spell the end (at least for another generation) of the country's emerging grassroots democracy movement.

If we intervene in Iran, they're going to panic and shut down on the only forces for democracy that currently have any influence in the country.

I'm not claiming that a free society is just around the corner, if we stay home. The situation is much more complex than that. What I am saying is that you can't bomb people into democracy.

Such pronouncements are greeted with open skepticism by ordinary Iranians who have seen the infrastructure of neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan sustain significant blows by US invasions, after which they have lagged far behind the touted recovery schedules.

They've seen our way of exporting democracy and decided not to sign up.

Iranians also have not forgotten the support offered by Washington to their arch-enemy Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

This is what I mean by "erase history." You never read about this in USofA mainstream publications, this bit about where we put Saddam Hussein in power and supported him for years. Just like when we went after bin Laden, the MSM developed amnesia around how we created the Taliban in the first place.

And those who wanted to know the history of Chalabi, the Bush Administration's golden boy hand-picked to take over Iraq, had to Google around and find out on their own he was a criminal and his only claim to the throne in Iraq was that he'd spent a lot of time in Washington, demanding that we put him in power.

Fortunately, we've learned better these days. Or, have we?

One of the militantly anti-clerical-regime groups that could stand to benefit from the new windfall is the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), a Marxist-Islamist organization that is hated within Iran because it sided with the Iraqi dictator against Iran during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.

The MEK has been registered by the State Department as a terrorist organization for the past 10 years, but now neo-conservative factions of the Bush administration are lobbying hard to remove it from the list. Should the MEK end up benefiting from US pro-democracy largesse, it would send a clear message to people inside Iran that Washington funds groups that engage in terrorist activity. Some reports quote unidentified US officials as saying that the MEK would not receive any of the new funds.

Well, well, well. Our neocon buddies in Washington don't seem to be quite as terrorist-phobic as they looked five minutes ago.

You got that? We're all so dangerous that the Bush Administration should be allowed to secretly spy on us without warrants or even probable cause, but a long-time "terrorist organization" might be delisted and funded by these folks...not because it's changed its aims or goals, but because we might decide that it's not really "terrorism" if it's not directed at us.

I'm sure even the children among us remember the Iranian hostage crisis (or learned about it in school) but this was new to me:

More recently, in 1996, an $18 million covert action aimed at unseating the government of then-president Hashemi Rafsanjani had its secret cover blown even before it started. Washington insiders, concerned at the potentially disastrous effects it would have, leaked the story to the mainstream press, prompting a furious backlash from the authorities in Tehran, which authorized a $20 million counteroffensive.

What "Washington insiders" would these have been? I'll go search, but in the meantime....

Some American analysts have also reacted with skepticism at the initiative, pointing out that it may be a case of too little too late. "One suspects there are no shortage of potential Iranian Chalabis [2] ready to set themselves up in a nice apartment in London's West End with some copiers and fax machines and the requisite bank accounts to reap the windfall," said James Russell, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School's department of national security affairs.

No shortage at all, I'm sure.

You should read both articles. It's clear that confrontations with Iran are going to be frequent in the near future.

(And, as always, the BBC has a good overview of the country.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:06 AM