Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE TALENTED MR. TAKEYH: Why Doesn't the Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Like Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett?
Takeyh's analytic malfeasance extends to Iran's domestic politics as well. His conversion from unimpressive establishment scholar to full-blown neocon fellow traveler is underscored by his remarkable insistence thatIran's clerics are to blame for the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (sic). Takeyh also refuses to understand the reality of the Green Movement in Iran, elevating it to surreal heights of organization, unity, and potential.In his review of Going to Tehran, Takeyh notes what he calls "transparent electoral fraud in the presidential election" of 2009, but again fails to advance any actual documentation to support this contention. Since 2010, he has been warning us all of Ahmadinejad's impending consolidation of power over the Iranian government. This didn't happen. Good call, Ray,how astute.The self-serving vacuity of Takeyh's review is especially glaring in his treatment of the Leveretts' critique of U.S. policy toward Iran. As the Leveretts themselves have already noted, Takeyh is adamant that the U.S. has often and openly reached out diplomatically to Tehran but can't seem to square this with reality -- including statements made by his former boss,Dennis Ross, who sees the perception of failed diplomacy as necessary to sell the American public on a new illegal war against another enemy that poses absolutely no threat to the United States.Whether looking at our torture regime, our indefinite detention, our illegaldrone program, our invasions, our assassinations, our surveillance state, our contempt for due process, our racist justice system and bloated prisons, and -- perhaps, most relevant -- our continued support and encouragement of ongoing Israeli war crimes, ethnic cleansing, colonization and occupation of Palestine alongside weapons sales and willful blindness to the atrocities of true dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the concept that American diplomacy or interests rest upon virtuousness and humane practices is not only hypocritical; it's downright laughable. As Glenn Greenwald recentlywrote about Iran, Syria, and Libya, "That the US and its Nato allies -- eager benefactors of the world's worst tyrants -- are opposed to those regimes out of concern for democracy and human rights is a pretense, a conceit, so glaring and obvious that it really defies belief that people are willing to advocate it in public with a straight face." Because, for the U.S. government, human rights abuses are used merely as a bludgeon against its adversaries while the myriad transgressions of its strategic partners are routinely ignored (if not, in the case of Israel, even funded and justified), Takeyh's argument is disingenuous at minimum. As always, he and his fellow mavens of the established foreign policy community are silent about America's role as the guarantor of Middle Eastern tyranny, as long as its puppet dictators do our bidding, namely with regard to acquiescing to Israeli regional hegemony and following the U.S. lead on isolating and threatening Iran. Our best friend in the world, Israel, meanwhile is a militarized colonial statein routine contravention of existing international and humanitarian law. Ample evidence reveals the illegality of Israel's Apartheid Annexation Wall, Israel's use of administrative detention to hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial and the rampant Israeli arrest ofPalestinian children and toddlers, who suffer abuse -- mental, physical, and sexual -- and who are tortured during and traumatized by theirimprisonment. Palestinian communities are constantly victimized byhousing demolitions and eviction, a particularly vindictive form ofcollective punishment favored by the Israeli government.None of this seems to bother our government one bit and any attempt to hold Israel accountable for its crimes is met with derision in the circles in which Mr. Takeyh travels, all expenses paid, of course.The issue isn't about whitewashing or justifying abuse and repression; it's about U.S. government policy, which clearly has no problem overlooking such horrors depending on who commits them. If the U.S. were consistent in its concern for human rights (rather than selectively using them only to condemn its enemies), Takeyh might have a point. But it isn't, so he doesn't.The Leveretts explicitly address this issue in Going to Tehran. They write, "Washington has never demonstrated that it cares about human rights in the Middle East for their own sake. It cares about them when and where caring appears to serve other policy goals." In their explicitly stated effort "to outline a potentially far more efficacious diplomatic approach" (p. 388), the Leveretts point out that "the only way human rights conditions in the Islamic Republic, as defined by Western liberals, are likely to improve is in a context of U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, whereby the United States had credibly given up regime change as a policy goal" (p. 326).While conventional Washington wisdom (and actual acts of Congress and executive orders by the President) holds that the U.S. government should be critical of Iran's human rights record as a matter of policy, doing so is pure propaganda. The United States is in no position to affect the violations of the Iranian government because it has no diplomatic presence, credibility, or connection to the Islamic Republic. As George W. Bush admitted in December 2004, in a rare moment of candor and honesty, "We're relying upon others, because we've sanctioned ourselves out of influence with Iran. . . We don't have much leverage with the Iranians right now."Takeyh, by employing ad hominem attacks on the Leveretts in an effort to label them apologists for theocratic authoritarianism and thereby discredit their views, is trying to poison the well, so to speak, with anti-war progressives who might find a new approach to Iran novel and welcome. He calls Going to Tehran "tedious," "stale," and "trite." That's coming from a guy who works at the Council on Foreign Relations and writes about implementing even more "crippling" sanctions on Iranians in order to compel their government's capitulation to American and Israeli diktat. How original, fresh, and innovative!Regardless of whether one finds their arguments compelling or their history sufficiently comprehensive, the Leveretts deliver a blow to the establishment narrative of "what to do about Iran." It is no surprise that Ray Takeyh is offended by the Leveretts -- they directly address the danger he and others like him in the official foreign policy community pose to those who oppose another war.They write that the claims put forward by Takeyh "that Iran's leadership is too ideologically constrained, fractious, or politically dependent on anti-Americanism to pursue a strategic opening to the United States are not just at odds with the historical record. Such claims push the United States ever further in its support of coercive regime change and, ultimately, down the disastrous path toward war" (p. 108).The main thesis of Going to Tehran, as evident in the book's title, holds that, as American power declines worldwide, recognition of faulty and detrimental foreign policy is required for the U.S. to better adapt to an ever-changing and more independent Middle East -- a region in which Iranian influence is ascendant whether we like it or not. They see the precedent set by Richard Nixon's historic visit to China as the best way forward with regard to Iran.Such a suggestion, while increasingly relevant, is not actually new. A noted foreign policy expert proffered an identical view in 2006, explaining, "First of all, this is not a unique historical moment for the United States. We've been in this position before. If you look back in the late 1960s, early '70s, we were in a position in East Asia where our power was declining because of the Vietnam War, and the Chinese power was increasing because of China's own capability and declining American power. And then there was certainly antagonism between the two countries."Lamenting the "conceptual divergence" of Iranian and American negotiating positions, the analyst continued,I think you have to accept certain basic realities. Iran is an important power with influence in the region, and the purpose of the negotiation would be how to establish a framework for regulation of its influence. Therefore, in a perverse sense, negotiations [are] a form of containment. We're negotiating as a means of containing Iran's influence, surely as we negotiated with the Chinese in the early 1970s as means of coming to some arrangements to rationalize U.S.-Sino American relations as a means of regulating Chinese power.He further insisted that the United States must take a bold step to enter into "comprehensive negotiations on all of Iranian concerns and all of our concerns. Our concerns are human rights, terrorism; they have their own grievances and so forth. And these negotiations will take place ultimately without precondition," just as negotiations with China in 1970 were not preconditioned.Again making the explicit analogy to Nixon's overture to Beijing, he stated, "The purpose of these negotiations would be to foster an arrangement where Tehran's relationship with Washington is more meaningful to it than various gradation of uranium or potentially its ties with Hezbollah." This way, he concluded, an "end point" would be reached "by creating a new framework and a new basis for U.S.- Iran relations," which would, in order to be at all successful, have to recognize Iran's position in its own neighborhood. "[I]n all these discussions and negotiations," he affirmed, "we have to appreciate that in a sense we are legitimizing Iran's at least Persian Gulf if not larger regional aspirations."That analyst was Ray Takeyh. He was addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the 109th Congress. Sitting on the Committee at the time of his statement were John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. Its ranking member was Joe Biden. Also on the committee? The junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.Just six months later, Takeyh wrote in Foreign Affairs that no U.S. policy regarding Iran in the past thirty years has worked. Noting the impossibility of regime change, military action, isolation, and obstinacy, Takeyh wrote the U.S. government must abandon these "incoherent policies" and "must rethink its strategy from the ground up."He continued,The Islamic Republic is not going away anytime soon, and its growing regional influence cannot be limited. Washington must eschew superficially appealing military options, the prospect of conditional talks, and its policy of containing Iran in favor of a new policy of détente. In particular, it should offer pragmatists in Tehran a chance to resume diplomatic and economic relations.He added, "The sooner Washington recognizes these truths and finally normalizes relations with its most enduring Middle Eastern foe, the better."This is literally what Going to Tehran is about. Literally.By attacking the Leveretts' new book, Takeyh is attacking the very ideas he himself once espoused so confidently, both in a leading policy journal and to a Senate Committee that included the current administration's President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense themselves.But he doesn't want you to know that.
[ed notes;just citing few excerpts,click link for whole article..

No comments: