Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Letter from Iran

My dear friend Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, has been in Iran this past week with a Code Pink delegation. If you're not familiar with Code Pink, they are, to quote from their mission statement, "a women initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement that seeks positive social change through proactive, creative protest and non-violent direct action." Emphasis on creative - Code Pink's protests are attention-getting, eye-catching, on point in terms of message, and most of all, they are damn funny. You've probably seen one of their giant "pink slips" given out to many of those officials we'd all like to see fired. They've disrupted every major Republican event of note in the past few years, including the Bolton hearings and Bush's convention acceptance speech.

But this email from Iran is anything but funny, as Jodie writes from another country that may be on the verge of experiencing the shock and awfulness of George Bush's foreign policy.

Jodie writes:
Our last night in Iran, it's 2am and I am looking out at the park along the river in Esfahan, a fabulously beautiful city, full of parks and squares and monuments more beautiful than the next. It is as beyond my imagining as it is all the Iranians I have met this last week, that the US could be thinking of bombing anything or anyone here.

When I spoke to Medea (Benjamin) earlier tonight, she told me about the FOX hour on the nuclear proliferation of Iran and then read on the internet about the ads being bought in the US depicting a nuclear threat to NYC, I felt a moment of total insanity wash through my psyche, I couldn't reconcile the week here and all the people I had met and spoken with .... and what I was hearing.

There isn't much Iranians agree on, but the response to my questions about the US bombing them always receives the same response, laughter. Unthinkable, insane, outrageous and impossible. Why, is a question that comes up rarely as there are no reasons in their minds. When I respond what about your nuclear proliferation, again I get a laugh. Propaganda of your administration is the answer. A few times the response was, well what if we do have or are making a bomb, why can't we have one to protect our natural resource that everyone wants??? We are surrounded by Pakistan, India and Israel, we have US bases surrounding us in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq. We are the vulnerable ones. Why can the US break treaties and demand that we obey? How can they speak about democracy, they have no idea what it means if they can also have veto power, veto power doesn't exist in democracy. How many times did I hear them say, "Can't we all just get along?"

"If the US wants to do something about all the violence and terrorism in the world, how can bombing a country bring understanding and world community? Study our history, we have never invaded, we have been invaded over and over again and still suffer to this day from all these invasions going back hundreds and hundreds of years."

"We may want changes in the laws of our country and we may want freedoms and democracy but we can only achieve those from working for them ourselves, from within our country, no one from the outside can bring them to us, and especially not the US through aggression. If the US was to bomb us it would unite us against them immediately, just as we were united against Iraq."

"We have are just coming out from a very dark tunnel, a failed revolution, 25 years of sanctions and a very horrible Iran/Iraq war, to invade or bomb now would send us backwards and be a horrible crime against the people of our nation. We like Americans, we don't agree with the American Government, but know it is like all unchecked power, behaving stupidly and full of corruption."

Iranians are just trying to live their lives and this just sounds to them like a lot of propaganda not worth giving the time of day....they don't want to be used by the stupid thinking.

They laugh that we are taking it seriously, that we traveled all this way to ask these questions, don’t we know we are just being manipulated by stupid American propaganda meant to make us afraid, they refuse to have their chains yanked by it and made afraid. They are suspicious it is happening around their elections and think it is just more manipulations. It will not affect their votes..

During our meetings with local NGO's we have learned of the destructive effects of Rumsfeld's comments about the US government working to make changes in Iran through their civil society. This comment has meant a crack down on NGO's, so it has harmed the help for change that does exist here.

Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan, they are not Arabs, as every Iranian will remind you, they are much more affluent, and have a population of 70 million, 60% are under the age of 25. They ask how crazy would the US have to be to come here, they can't deal with Iraq and we are much larger. Iranians all serve 2 years in the military, meaning there are probably 5 million who could be called back into service in a matter of a month who have already been trained and have served 2 years in the service. Every year 2 million Iranians turn 18, think about it. This is one of the reasons given when I ask why is it beyond their imagining that we could attack. Does Bush know what who we are, our history and what he would be coming into???

In the internet café I have just finished a conversation with a woman from NYC who comes to visit her family once a year, she too laughs, "The Iranian people are not afraid of the US and their silly propaganda she says....I am not sure why all this silly talk but it is out of the question. This is Iran, they can't be that stupid."

It reminds me of what a few others have said, foreign policy is one thing our current administration is doing right, because we don't owe anything to the US and our trading partners are Europe, China and Japan, we can stand up to the bullying tactics of the US and it makes us proud that our government is not letting the US walk all over them, like the other silly fearful countries the US can and does manipulate.

For more news from Jodie and the Code Pink delegation, visit their website.

4 comments:

zhadi said...

Y'know, stuff like this used to make me embarrassed to be American, but now all it does is make me feel embarrassed for all those people who believe that what Bush and Co are doing is in any way right OR good for the country...

Real History Lisa said...

It's astonishing that Bush will destroy Persia, the Fertile Crescent, the very birthplace of humanity on this planet. There's an ironic symmetry in that, but it's horrific. America was supposed to embody the ideal, all that man could aspire to on our planet. Bush has, in a few short years, turned us into the scourge of nations, an example of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

joann said...

As a Canadian, I was really concerned with America's last election. I wanted to see who the American people would vote for.

I'm actually glad it was a close race (close - relative term). I'm glad to know almost 1/2 the country didn't want the Bush administration around a 2nd time.

It's a long 4 years.

Other Lisa said...

Joann,

Here in southern California it was particularly tough - we live in a little liberal bubble here. Nearly all the bumperstickers were for Kerry - when you saw a Bush sticker, it was like, "who the hell is that?"

Bush won purely because he and his administration knew how to play the fear card. And no sitting American president has ever been defeated during a war. This was actually the closest election in American history during the conduct of a war. His economic and environmental policies are extremely unpopular and his poll numbers continue to drop. Though I am not a religious person, I pray to whatever universal forces there might be for a strong Democratic showing in the 06 Congressional elections and a Democratic victory for President in 08. Dems aren't perfect, and as for Iraq, they will have to play the cards they've been dealt, but at least very few of them are crazed neo-Cons with delusions of global domination...