Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Time on "What White People Think About Iran"...!
Iran Nuclear Scare Timeline Update XLVIII

During Bloggingheads' latest installment of "What Do White, Jewish Zionist Think-Tankers in Washington D.C. Think the U.S. Should Do About Iran?" [*], former AIPAC operative Josh Block, now a fellow at the bizarrely-named Progressive Policy Institute (given its penchant for espousing hawkish foreign policy views, especially on Iran), gave a veritable tutorial on how to cram every long-debunked fear-mongering talking point about the Islamic Republic into a mere 50-minute conversation. Block, who is a proud protégé of the reptilian Lanny Davis, also made it perfectly clear how much he loves the sound of his own voice. (Unsurprisingly, in the above picture, Block is the one on the right.)

In the course of his discussion with Joel Rubin, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the Ploughshares Fund, Block repeated (among other things) the false claim that Obama "exposed" a secret Iranian nuclear enrichment at Fordow in September 2009, insisted that Iran seeks hegemony over the Middle East and is violently involved in Iraq, advocated forcefully for regime change (though he called it "democratic change", and was oh so sincere about it), was adamant about Iran's headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons (any other perspective, like one based on evidence for example, was "nonsense"), said that the IAEA itself has said Iran has a nuclear weapons program (literally not true, as evidenced by IAEA head Yukiya Amano's statement to Der Spiegel in January: "Despite all unanswered questions, we cannot say that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program."), and even added a new mathematical assessment of Iran's nuclear progress. He said that Iran's mere capacity to enrich uranium up to 20% is "90%, if not more, of the ability to get to the fuel you need for a nuclear weapon." This kind of algebra would make even Muhammad Al-Khowârizmi blush (but then again, he was Persian and therefore, in Block's expert estimation, is most likely a terrorist and liar).

Despite Rubin's efforts to infuse certain facts into the discussion (filtered, of course, through a significant amount of silliness of his own), Block remained a blowhard, a blabbermouth, and a liar. The best part, perhaps, was when Block furrowed his brow, and said:

I'd like to see no war. I'd like to see peace! But I think the best chance to get there, the best chance to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, which, by the way, it's not just a question of them dropping a bomb on Israel. I mean, they went into the streets in 2009 and were brutal to their own people. They walk around saying Bahrain belongs to them. How will they act when they have a nuclear weapon? What kind of activity will we see then? Who will be able to stop them? How will they treat their people then?
Block advocated "more pressure" to "destabilize" the Iranian government in order to ensure his preferred outcome. He also refused to admit that Israeli and U.S. predictions about when Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon have been wrong for three decades. Rather, he credited sanctions for "working" over that time and then completely misrepresented the TRR nuclear deal among Iran, Brazil, and Turkey.

Block also said that Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak in 1983. It was 1981 and Joel Rubin told him so. But he really insisted it was '83. He also was determined to place the U.S. Persian Gulf campaign against Iraq, known as Operation Desert Storm, in 1992-3. When Rubin again tried to correct him by telling him it was actually 1991, with Operation Desert Shield (the ostensibly "defensive" mission to keep Iraq out of Saudi Arabia) actually occurring in mid-1990, Block repeated his error, with even more confidence.

Block closed, predictably, by advocating a military attack on Iran but pretended it was just a rhetorical question.


If you can stand it, here it is:



Will Shetterly said...

This is a pet peeve: what does whiteness have to do with this? People who are insane about muslims include Herman Cain. Jewishness has little to do with this either: you can find Zionist Christians, and you can find Jews around the world and in Israeli who oppose Israel's policies.

Nima Shirazi said...

Will -

I absolutely agree with you and thank you for the comment. My reasoning for the title (and first sentence reference) is two-fold:

1. I thought it was funny. While I understand that writing "white people" seems a bit reductive, that's kinda the point, especially since Beltway punditry is so dominated by "white people".

But far more importantly,

2. My reference had more to do with Bloggingheads itself than with the perspectives or policies espoused or discussed during the conversation. Bloggingheads, while I do believe it to be incredibly valuable and substantive, has generally seemed to me - and especially when it comes to Iran or the Middle East in general - to often exclude Iranian, Muslim, and Arab voices. I do not believe this to be in any way deliberate or discriminatory on their part. Many pundits are white. Some are even Jewish. I get it.

Again, I do not believe this to be in any way deliberate or calculated or devious. It is what it is.

But what it is kinda happens a lot, whether it's Josh Block and Joel Rubin, George Perkovich and Robert Wright, Eli Lake and Matthew Duss, David Frum and Joe Kelin, Aaron David Miller and Daniel Levy, Barbara Slavin and Flynt Leverett, Michael Anton and Max Bergmann, Richard Parker and Jacqueline Shire, Rachel Kleinfeld and Robert Dreyfuss, David Corn and James Pinkerton, Heather Hurlburt, Daniel Drezner, Spencer Ackerman, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Robert Kagan...the list goes on and on.

And, of course, there are plenty of exceptions, which one can see by going to Bloggingheads and doing some topic searches.

I also do think that there is a certain Bloggingheads community, which would include Duss, Frum, Hurlbert, Drezner, Lake, Wright, etc., who appear a lot, probably because they really enjoy doing it (which is perfectly understandable, because talking policy with someone you may respect but disagree with is indeed fun).

Again, my post title was meant to be both tongue-in-cheek and to say more about Bloggingheads itself than any ideology proffered during the debate.

Incidentally, I recently addressed Herman Cain's latest outburst about Iran here.

Thanks again for reading.

Will Shetterly said...

Nima, no worries. I know your politics aren't that simplistic. It's just that there's a fad on the left for using "white" as a shorthand for "rich and conservative" that's funny, but imprecise. Every so often, I'll make a kneejerk objection, and then I'll shut up. It's really no big. You're doing excellent work here.

Nima Shirazi said...

Haha, thanks again for reading, Will.

Again, I agree with you that "white" is a broad term and one that is, clearly, more about politics than pigmentation. For instance, Iranians of "Persian" ethnicity (as it's called) are caucasian. So are many Arabs. So, therefore, they'd be "white", least on a census form. But, naturally, I don't think the vast majority of people in this country would consider Iranians or Syrians or Iraqis or Afghans or Jordanians or Bahrainis to be "white people."

Whoops...I did it again.


[NOTE: "Joe Kelin" in my above comment should, obviously, have read "Joe Klein". Forgive my sloppy fingers.]

Will Shetterly said...

Race is an obsession of mine--I grew up in a family that was involved in the civil rights movement. I went googling to see when Iranians were legally declared Caucasians in the US (either late 19th century or, more likely, early 20th), and got sidetracked when I found this:

If Stormfront thinks Iranians are okay, they're about as white as white can be in the US.

Uh, apologies for taking the conversation sideways.

Ibrahamav said...

Unfortunately, Nima's politics are that simple. He simply forgets to keep his feeling under wraps all of the time.

Nima Shirazi said...

@Will -

Yeeeesh, that's creepy.

@Ibrahamav -

Yeeeesh, you're boring.

- Nima Shirazi
Anti-White Racist Extraordinaire/Self-Hater/Ibrahamav Devotee

Rowan Berkeley said...

I'm interested in the relative semantics of 'Jewish' and 'white'. These are not completely unique: for instance Chechens might be seen phenotypically (in terms of appearance) as 'white', but described as 'Muslims' in the Western press. Similarly, Jews nowadays (as opposed to in the days of Sir Richard Burton) are generally described as 'white' in the Western press, but there is a curious reason for this: the reason is the political and cultural ascendency of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews over Sefardi or Mizrachi ones (Mediterranean). Even in Israel, the latter tend to be seen as 'Jewish Arabs', i.e. as non-'white'. So, within the Jewish world itself, there is a tension over the cost of claiming 'whiteness' and its exclusionary effect on these latter groups.

Average Joe Body Builder said...

well i thought you were muslim...