Archive for the ‘Farhang Jahanpour’ Category
By Farhang Jahanpour
Last year’s U.S. presidential election campaign was the most acrimonious in recent history. The debates were personal and bad-tempered. Some email leaks from the Democratic National Committee showed that the committee had been actively trying to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in favor of his rival Hillary Clinton, which deprived both of them of victory in the election.
On the Republican side, most candidates engaged in crude personal attacks against each other. Senator Marco Rubio hit an extreme low by referring to Donald Trump’s small hands, and Trump retorted that Rubio had “really large ears” and gave him the nickname of “Little Marco”.
Trump called Senator Ted Cruz “the single biggest liar” and threatened that “he would spill the beans” on his wife. Trump also constantly referred to his Democratic rival as “Crooked Hillary”, with the crowds chanting: “lock her up”.
The campaign manifested a level of vulgarity that has been unprecedented in American politics. Based on Trump’s comments about women, blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, etc. many American commentators have described him as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and narcissistic.
However, alongside those controversial remarks, Trump also gave the impression that if he were elected his presidency would mark a major break with the past and would usher in a more peaceful world and a more constructive relationship with Russia.
Trump strongly criticized the invasion of Iraq, the trillions of dollars that were spent on it and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost. He hinted that his administration would not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and would concentrate on “making America great again”.
Donald Trump won the election on the basis of Electoral College votes, yet his victory was far from impressive. Some 40% of registered voters didn’t vote. Of the 60% who voted, Trump got a little more than 28% of the vote. His 62 million votes constituted 18% of America’s 340 million people, and Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more popular votes than Trump did.
So, although technically Trump won, he certainly has no decisive mandate. He is also the only president to have come to office with no previous elected post and no public or military service, even at a junior level, and not even having the support of leading Republicans.
An administration filled with generals and millionaires
President Trump formed a cabinet of generals and millionaires, basically to boost his own ego, because he feels strong in the company of generals and rich people. Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
I have just spent a couple of miserable hours reading General Michael Flynn’s and Michael Ledeen’s book, The Field Of Flight. He will be President Trump’s national security adviser. And, frankly, I don’t know where to begin.
As someone who is opposed to the regime of the mullahs and would like to see the end of that regime through peaceful and democratic means, I truly cannot understand the reason for what one can call the irrational hostility and the depth of hatred of people like Flynn and Michael Ledeen towards Iran. Of course they are entitled to their feelings of hatred and hostility towards Iran and Muslims as a whole, but they are not entitled to their facts.
It is really amazing to see how without any concern for the facts Flynn jumps from one subject to another, Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
TEHRAN – Professor Farhang Jahanpour, a former senior research fellow at Harvard University, is of the opinion that many American voters viewed Donald Trump “as an outsider standing up against the establishment.”
In an interview with the Tehran Times, Jahanpour also says, “Trump made use of some sensational and often contradictory slogans as a way of winning popular support.”
Fifteen years ago on 9/11, Al Qaeda terrorists changed the course of history, and the consequences of what happened on that day are still very much with us, and are arguably even growing more complex and more dangerous.
On 11 September 2001, 19 young Arab militants affiliated to Al Qaeda who had received rudimentary flying instruction in the United States hijacked and flew two passenger aircraft at the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one at the Pentagon in Washington and another aircraft was allegedly also flying towards the White House or the Capitol but it was brought down before it reached its target.
Nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed as the result of those terrorist outrages. In response, America launched the “War on Terror” that has killed upward of a million people, destroyed many Middle Eastern countries, ruined the lives of tens of millions, killed nearly 7,000 US troops and injured another 50,000, and has cost the United States a staggering six trillion dollars.
This was the first time in US history that the American mainland had been attacked after the British troops had set fire to the White House in 1814 during the war between the United States and England. Even during the Second World War the continental United States did not receive any direct attacks, and the closest that the Japanese got was to attack the US naval base at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
Of course, during the past few decades there have been numerous terrorist attacks on the US and other targets, the most notable being the attack carried out by Timothy McVeigh on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which claimed 168 lives and left over 800 people injured. McVeigh too had religious motivations for his attacks.
He was a religious fanatic and a follower of David Koresh, and he bombed the federal building on the anniversary of the destruction of the Branch Davidian camp in Waco by federal forces, as the result of which Koresh, 54 other adults and 21 children were burnt alive
One can think of the massacre of close to a million Tutsis and Hutus in Burundi and Rwanda. A Human Rights Watch analysis estimated that 77% of the Tutsi population of Rwanda was slaughtered in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
Apart from the initial slaughter of hundreds of Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing of nearly 70% of the Palestinian population in 1948, we had the slaughter of as many as 3,500 Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila Camps in Lebanon by the Christian Phalangists between the 15 and 16 September 1982, under the supervision of the invading Israeli forces led by Ariel Sharon.
However, the 9/11 attacks have assumed a significance far greater than all other terrorist acts in the world.
Most Americans believe Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
Today (16 June 2016), Jo Cox, the 41-year old Labor MP, was killed after she was shot and stabbed in her constituency in Yorkshire. A 52-year old man was arrested in the area. The suspect was named locally as Tommy Mair.
There is as yet very little concrete information about him or his motives, and it is too early to jump to a conclusion and link his dastardly act with the referendum, but some eyewitnesses have said that before shooting Jo Cox twice, Mair shouted “Britain first”. Clearly, he is a deranged individual, but if he uttered those words, it is possible to conclude that the assault was connected with the referendum.
The fact remains that the assassination of such a strongly pro-EU MP is a big shock, a major loss and of course the source of great grief for her husband and her two small children. Before being elected as an MP in the last general election, Jo Cox had been a charity worker and a human rights campaigner all her life. Her husband, Brendan, used to work for Save the Children. They and their two little children lived a quiet and unassuming life in a barge on the Thames near the Houses of Parliament.
Her husband released the following touching statement after her death:
“Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.
Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it everyday of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
In any case, this ugly deed provides an extreme example of the acrimonious debates that are held over the referendum. All campaigning has been suspended as a sign of respect for the death of the MP.
On June 23, the British people take part in a rare referendum Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
The first article in a TFF Series on The New Cold War
There are many ominous signs that dark clouds are gathering over international relations, from the South China Sea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea to the Middle East, and to Ukraine and the Baltics. We are entering a new and perhaps a more ominous Cold War.
This is something that will affect all our lives and will plunge us into a new era of East-West confrontation that none of us wants and that all of us should try hard to prevent.
Many young people were born after the end of the Cold War or were too young to remember its horrors, and how the world was on a knife’s edge about a possible global confrontation between the two superpowers with thousands of nuclear weapons whose use could have ended human civilization. We, who remember those days, should make sure that we do not see a repetition of that dark period in human history.
Yet, sadly, a Cold War mentality is once again creeping back into political discourse.
The Second World War that killed more than 60 million people and devastated many countries had hardly ended when new hostilities emerged. The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not so much the final act in the Second World War as the opening shot in the Cold War. Contrary to the stated justifications for the dropping of the bombs as a means of forcing Japan to surrender, it is now clear that Japan was ready to surrender before the use of those awful weapons.
Many historians believe that the real reason for the use of nuclear weapons was to prevent Japan falling into the hands of the Soviet Union, as the Red Army was poised to take on Japan’s remaining army in Manchuria, thus forcing Japan to surrender to Russia. Furthermore, it was a clear signal of the West’s possession of the new devastating weapons.
For instance, the scientist Leo Szilard who met with US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes in May 1945, reported later: “Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war … Mr. Byrnes’ view was that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable.” (1)
Therefore, far from wanting to save lives, the use of nuclear weapons was to demonstrate America’s overwhelming military might, and to issue a warning to Russia.
The war had hardly ended when in a speech in the British House of Commons on 16 August 1945 Winston Churchill referred to “the iron curtain which at the moment divides Europe in twain.”
It was in view of those ominous events that mankind decided to create international organizations that would “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” The Charter of the United Nations aimed Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
Since the latest Iranian elections held on 26th February 2016 for the 290-seat parliament (Majles) and the 88-member Assembly of Experts there have been many negative comments about the election results from the usual suspects.
Some people who are fundamentally hostile to Iran, criticize everything that Iran does, regardless of outcome. When the leading Iranian reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami won a landslide election in 1997 and initiated a series of important reforms at home and advocated a dialog of civilizations and even made a remarkable offer to the United States to reach a grand bargain over all the issues of contention, some pro-Israeli groups dismissed him, saying that he had no power.
However, when President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad made a number of outrageous comments, not only were his statements taken out of context and exaggerated, it was said that he posed an existential threat to Israel and the West.
Some people are at least honest about their real motives. During the controversial election in 2009 when Ahmadinezhad was declared the winner over the reformist candidate Mir-Hoseyn Moussavi, some American neoconservatives and Israeli commentators openly said that they preferred Ahmadinezhad because they could demonize him more easily.
“Just because Moussavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. After all he was approved by the Islamic leadership,” said Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University. “If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Moussavi we have a serpent with a nice image.” The then Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, told a panel of Israeli lawmakers: “If the reformist candidate Moussavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat.”
Recently, the staunchly anti-Iranian lobby, The Israel Project (TIP), produced a promotional video showing the leader of the terrorist group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, denouncing the latest Iranian elections. This is despite the fact that before some right-wing pro-Israeli groups had decided to promote this terrorist group as a popular opposition group, in 2011 TIP director Josh Block had described the group as a terrorist organization. (1) Nevertheless, now his organization calls upon the same group to denounce the Iranian elections.
However, despite all this negative propaganda, the results of the latest Iranian elections exceeded all expectations. The elections set another milestone in the desire of the Iranian people for change and reform following the 2013 presidential election that resulted in the victory of the centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani.
Ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution, the government has held flawed, but competitive and relatively free and fair elections. In order to appreciate the significance of the election results, we should look at some of the obstacles that had been placed on the path of the reformists and moderates.
The right-wing Guardian Council, formed by six clerics appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six appointed by the head of the judiciary, who is himself appointed by Khamenei, has the job of vetting all the candidates who run for high office in Iran. In the absence of organized political parties, anybody can declare himself or herself a candidate in presidential or parliamentary elections, and normally many unqualified people do so.
Therefore, there is a need for a vetting organization, but the criticism against the Guardian Council is that it does not act in a fair and impartial manner.
During the recent elections, Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
On Monday 14 March, in a surprise move and without any warning to Western leaders, President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of Russian forces from Syria, and instructed his diplomats to speed up the push for peace. “The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,” he said. “I believe that the task put before the defense ministry and Russian armed forces has, on the whole, been fulfilled.”
He added that with the participation of the Russian military, Syrian armed forces “have been able to achieve a fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism.”
According to Western reports, Russian forces are already being prepared for flights back to Russia and equipment is being loaded onto cargo planes.
Although President Putin’s sudden announcement has given rise to a great deal of surprise and some false assumptions in the mainstream Western media and among political pundits, his decision is a timely, bold and constructive move that may result in some positive developments in the long-running catastrophe in Syria.
One of the reasons for the negative and cynical comments about the Russian move is that in five months President Putin has achieved more in halting the advance of the terrorists in Syria than the West had achieved in five years, if indeed it had been the West’s real intention to defeat the terrorists.
The Syrian uprising started with demonstrations on 28 January 2011 in Damascus and Aleppo in the wake of the “Arab Spring” in Tunisia and Egypt. Read the rest of this entry »
By Dr. Farhang Jahanpour
TFF Board member
Lund, Sweden, February 24, 2016
Two general elections are to be held in Iran this coming Friday the 26th – to the parliament (Majles) for the next 4 years and to the Assembly of Experts for the next 8 years.
Their results will be of utmost importance for the Iranian society and politics, for its foreign policy and the Middle Eastern region and – in the light of the nuclear deal – for the world too.
We are pleased to send you some links to essential analyses of these issues by Iranian-born scholar Dr. Farhang Jahanpour, Oxford University and TFF Board member.
Iran is leaning neither towards the West nor the East
Interview with Tehran Times also available here.
These articles exemplify one of three project aims TFF has for it’s multi-year engagement in Iran since 2013 – namely to increase the knowledge about Iran and thereby help change the hitherto unreasonably negative image of it in the West.
Simply put, where knowledge and understanding replace stereotypes and enemy images, the chance of confidence and peace-building increases.
The second sub-project is to help establish academic peace and conflict research at Tehran’s University, and the third is to create an art photography book from various parts of Iran.
By Farhang Jahanpour
Since achieving their independence from Western colonialism, most Arab countries have never experienced events such as they have seen during the past few years. The demonstrators in Tunisia got rid of their autocratic ruler in a remarkably short time.
And the events in Egypt starting exactly five years ago today (25 January, 2015) spelled the end of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The fire of revolutions and uprisings spread to other Arab countries, and are still continuing.
Although those revolutions have not yet led to any lasting democracy or improvements in the lives of their citizens, nevertheless, what has happened during the past five years cannot be reversed, no matter how hard the autocratic rulers try to set the clock back.
For better or worse, the Arab world is undergoing profound changes, which will affect both the lives of Arab citizens and the relations between those countries and the rest of the world for a long time to come.
Let us remember that the Prague Spring began on 5 January 1968, but it took more than another two decades for East European countries to achieve their independence and a greater degree of democracy. The Prague Spring was short-lived, as was the Arab Spring, but the spark that it ignited never died.
The spark of the revolution in Tunisia was an Read the rest of this entry »