On the Road


"Finally," writes Nicholas Kristof, "I've found a pro-American country." It's a place where "people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States, and often for President Bush as well." Here, people "seem convinced that the U.S. military ventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are going great" (and, adds Kristof, "they say this with more conviction than your average White House spokesman"). Indeed, the best-selling authors here include John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel.

Where is he? Iran.

NEXT: Bush Transcript

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  1. Danielle Steel? The poor bastards.

    Honestly, does anyone ever find these sorts of articles to be helpful?


  3. Iran rules — we should certainly start buying our oil from them rather than the Saudi’s – the Iranians are more progresive than any other nation in the region that we pour billions into and we should work with them, not against them..

  4. Iran rules — we should certainly start buying our oil from them rather than the Saudi’s – the Iranians are more progresive than any other nation in the region that we pour billions into and we should work with them, not against them..

  5. This just reinforces a belief I’ve had for a while: the US and Iran have no fundamental beef with each other (just a fundamentalist beef *rimshot*) and George Bush’s demonization of Iran is totally counterproductive. I laughed out loud at this one: ‘I ask why they want to go to a nation denounced for its “disgustingly sick promiscuous behavior,” but that turns out to be a main attraction.’ You know, everywhere around the world, people just want to be free; it’s mainly a cadre of bluenoses who want to control everybody. The trick is not to let the bluenoses drive.

  6. Hey Lonewacko,
    In the Zan-e Emrooz link who`s the good looking chick with the big bugger on her nose?

  7. It’s no surprise. Iran was a center of civilization in years past and will be again. All that love poetry! These are sophisticated people.

    And there are many Iranians in the US; they seem to do well, and they report back to their families.

    Persian women are the most beautiful, by the way.

  8. Persian women are the most beautiful, by the way.

    As a loyal husband, I am obliged to insist that half-Irish/quarter German/quarter French women born and raised in Maryland are the most beautiful in the world. Or at least one of them is.

  9. This just reinforces a belief I’ve had for a while: the US and Iran have no fundamental beef with each other (just a fundamentalist beef *rimshot*) and George Bush’s demonization of Iran is totally counterproductive

    The US and Iran have a huge fundamental beef with one another — namely, that Iran is a terrorist nation which supports people who murder Americans. Bush was right to condemn Iran.

    It’s *Iranians* that we have no beef with — and, appropriately enough, Bush has had plenty of positive things to say about the people of Iran.

  10. You’re slipping, thoreau, you’re slipping.

    “…George Bush’s demonization of Iran is totally counterproductive.”

    Well, once they get around to hanging their evil mullah’s from the street lamps, I’m sure we’ll all get a long fine. He isn’t demonizing Iran, obviously, he’s demonizing the demons that run the country. *Rim shot*

  11. How am I slipping?

  12. Exactly. Bush has demonized the regime that oppresses the Iranian people. He has stated on many occasions that he believes the Iran people want and deserve freedom and would be good friends of the United States, if only the damned Mullahs would give up their tenacious grip and realize their day is done.

    It’s been no secret that Iranian public opinion is markedly pro-western and pro-U.S. Iran has a very young population of well educated people, and they have very western attitudes about many things. Western culture is very popular in Iran. This is one reason why there is so much dissatisfaction with the regime. Not only do the Iranian people see their leaders as pulling them towards a conflict with the U.S., but they don’t even like what their leaders stand for.

    If Iran can shake itself loose from the grip of the mullahs, it would be a tremendous thing for the middle east. Iran and Iraq would probably draw closer, and between the two they could forge a path to democracy in the middle east.

  13. just kidding thoreau. It just reminded a little of when some singer writes (or records) a love song to his wife, and a little while later they’re divorced. John Denver, Kenny Rogers, there might be others.

  14. Perish the thought.

  15. I’m an expert on Iran because I have had an Iranian acquaintance for some years here in Cincinnati, a librarian and Ruth Buzzy look-alike, and I also have a first cousin (female), once removed, married to an Iranian, now residing in Hong Kong.

    With that out of the way, my point is how easy it is to stop pissing off foreigners. They are not infiltrating the world with chips on their shoulders.

    My government’s and other government’s take on it, unfortunately, is how easy it is to paint bull’s eyes on the back of naive civilian schmucks.

  16. With that out of the way, my point is how easy it is to stop pissing off foreigners. They are not infiltrating the world with chips on their shoulders.

    Look, Ruthless, there are two kinds of people in the world: people who agree that the Iranian government is evil, and people who can go fuck themselves.

    Bush, myself, and most of the Iranian people are in the first group. Which group are you in?

  17. Everloving Dan,
    We’re not talking Iranian government. We’re talking people.

    BTW, on recalculation, my cousin is not even once removed. Just first, plain and simple.

    Lastly, I’m not in a group. I’m an anarchist.

  18. Iran is an interesting case. Calling Iran a member of the “axis of evil” set back the reformers. They are a society in flux. Change in a libertarian direction is really possible there. They have a strong entrepreneurial element.

    There are Iranian chat rooms where freedom is definitely in the air (or cyber space). We should talk with them; tell them of the wonders of liberty. There are many Iranian immigrants in this country who are making it in this land of relative freedom of enterprise and as Larry Edelstein at 06:59 PM, observed, they tell the folks back home. This probably helps fuel the reform movement.

    A more open immigration policy for people from Iran and the Mid-east in general would help open up the Region. Also, the government should make student and business travel visas much more, not less, abundant for people from Iran and the rest of the Mid-east. BTW, Castro is scared to death of this type of approach toward Cuba. He knows that freedom is infectious.

    “Persian women are the most beautiful, by the way.”

    It’s pretty subjective of course, but there do seem to be a lot women from Iran who are just “drop dead gorgeous”. OR, as the kids say, “hot”. (I’m hep to the youth lingo. [to be read in the voice of Dr. Evil])

    BTW, Kudos to thoreau for his expressions of love and admiration for his wife. Very nice.

  19. Dan,

    Agree with your comment about Iran but am nota as optimistic about Iraq.

    Iran got to this place after getting rid of a U.S. government-backed strongman and his oppressive regime. This marked the last part of a long period of foreign powers meddling with the internal affairs of Iran.

    The result was an oppressive Islamist regime. Certainly not great but at least it was home-grown and most Iranians cannot blame foreign intervention for it.

    It has clearly not delivered as promised and lost most of its domestic support. Because it cannot rely on foreign support in lieu of domestic legitimacy to prolong its stay in power (like the Shah could) it must either gradually give into the wishes of most Iranians or become more repressive and eventually face a violent revolution. (The new question is whether the regime will use the nuclear weapons issue to provoke us into provoking average Iranians to close ranks with them and buy more time.)

    Whether you agree with the justification or not, the U.S. government is messing around with Iraq now. It is steadily losing the little legitimacy it had in Iraq before the war and will likely not have the trust of average Iraqis to build a functional democracy.

    Many political thinkers here are already looking for a “democratic strongman” to take over instead. In reality, this strongman’s willingness to take U.S. government direction will be more important than his democratic vision or his domestic legitimacy.

    This will likely produce a regime that looks like other Arab allies in the region. They oppress their own populations as they wish but still get varying degrees of U.S. government support as long as they keep the oil flowing (if they have it) and don’t overtly threaten Israel. This will produce an tremendous amount of anti-American sentiment that helps feed the ranks of al-Qaeda as it does elsewhere.

    The general lesson to draw from Iran (and most of the Cold War fought in the Third World) is that where the U.S. government leaves well enough alone or gets booted out, the people eventually come around to our values on their own or at least pose no threat.

  20. The US and Iran have a huge fundamental beef with one another — namely, that Iran is a terrorist nation which supports people who murder Americans. Bush was right to condemn Iran.

    Our own history with respect to Iran isn’t so great either, if you recall. While supporting terrorism is unquestionably a Bad Thing, remember that we’re dealing with a stable national government here, not Fatah or the Al-Whatever Brigade of The Week. These guys aren’t a random collection of nutcases, they’re a (quasi-)legitimate government, and stability and keeping their heads on their shoulders is in their interest. This means they can be dealt with, much as we dealt with the Soviet Union despite their support of rebellions, terrorism, assassinations, etc. Declaring that we’ve got them in our sights only plays into the hands of the hardliners.

  21. Patrick –
    great post. but, i’m wondering whether or not the shah had something to do with the more western attitude that the general iranian population seems to have more affinity for than many other muslim nations. he was in power for almost a quarter of a century, and, from what i understand, was oppressive, but not nearly to the level that the mullahs are. fine, the shah wasn’t “homegrown”, but how can you say that a bunch of religious fanatics are in any way more “homegrown,” especially when you agree that a large portion of the iranian people think the islamist theocracy is a load of crap as much as we do? never mind the fact that the ayatollah and his cohorts were being supported by the soviet union …

  22. Larry Edelstein: “Persian women are the most beautiful, by the way.”

    “Ah, Glory,” says The General. “Good Filipina name. Filipino women are the most beautiful in the world, don’t you think?”
    Bobby Shaftoe screws up his face, trying to think of all the women he’s known and make a comparison. Then he realises The General probably doesn’t want a reasoned answer. Of course, The General’s wife is American. This could be difficult.
    “I reckon the woman you love is always the most beautiful, sir!”
    The General looks displeased. “Of course, but -”
    “But if you really don’t give a shit about them, Filipino women are the most beautiful, sir!”

  23. Snickerdoodles are the national cookie of Iran (or so my wife was told years age when she brought some to the students at work, some who were from Iran)

  24. I think what’s unique about US Iran policy is how it’s based on disengaged neglect. On one hand, we condemn the theocratic government and have strong trade and cultural sanctions in effect. On the other hand, we don’t seem to back the homegrown opposition, and Iran’s economy and its links with the outside world remain largely unharmed by us, because plenty of other countries do have normal relations with them.

    So Iran’s not being starved by the US, the US takes a noble stand against the regime’s authoritarian wing, and the opposition doesn’t come across as an American-funded puppet movement.

    Compared to things like our suffocating Cuba policy and our embrace of horrible regimes like the Sauds, this porous neglect seems to be a winner.

    Here’s hoping that the next US administration continues the same muddled all-bark no-bite approach to Iran.

  25. I’ve always thought Iran was our most natural ally in that part of the world. Stupid Cold War politics.

    Maybe an apology for overthrowing Mossedegh would help the opposition.

  26. Dylan,

    There are huge issues around whether certain attitudes and values are “western.” But no time for that here.

    A few things about the western attitudes you see in Iran: They are most visibly held by a very large generation of people that were very young or unborn when the Shah left. All they know is the Islamist regime (its not fun now and promises a bleak future). They are rebelling against it by choosing to pursue (in the ways they can) a way of life that flies in its face (and is more fun!).

    These attitudes don’t run as deep as they seem. A lot of it is the trappings of pop culture. Scratch the surface and you find people who are against theocracy to the extent it is practiced there and more socially liberal than the previous generation but still more conservative than most Americans.

    The people you refer to in relation to the Shah is the revolutionary generation. The Shah, with seemingly good intentions, tried to force-feed modernity to these people through large government programs. It rocked their traditional world to put it mildly. They suffered under the accompanying unchecked nepotism and corruption in a government that ignored them because it could rely on oil money and U.S. support.

    At the time, most Iranians felt threatened and became more traditional and conservative (longing for ‘the good old days’, typical human nature) in response to what was billed as “modernity”. The Islamists benefited from that reaction. They were also the only viable opposition left. The army and SAVAK squashed all other forms of dissent but they never got a handle on the mosque and madrasa network. Finally, the Shah even lost support among the army and SAVAK and everything collapsed.

    Now most of that generation is disillusioned by the revolution’s failure and can choose to head back in the direction of modernity on their own terms.

    I don’t think Iranians are different in significant ways vs. other Muslims, Arabs, Turks or anyone else. The only major difference I see is that the Iranians were able to make their bed, sleep in it and change their minds.

    Regarding Soviet support, I’m not sure what you are refering to. The Soviets were wetting their pants over the potential of Islamic fundamentalism spilling across their border into the ‘stans while the U.S. was worried about it spreading around the Gulf. I don’t know of any Soviet support that would have kept the Islamists in power if they faced significant domestic opposition.

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