Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chomsky on Iran

I recently had a rather interesting email exchange with renowned Professor Noam Chomsky. Among other things we discussed the situation in Libya, the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange and the ongoing situation in Bahrain.

Under the below headings are comments Chomsky made with regards to the situation in Iran:

The young Iranian democrats.
Iran is also obscure. The democracy uprising that was brutally repressed was courageous and inspiring, but by most accounts it was pretty much "North Teheran," relatively affluent and modern younger people. There doesn't seem to have been much working class participation (in sharp contrast to Egypt and Tunisia), and the rural population appears to remain mostly conservative and probably supportive of the regime. Rather strikingly, western-run polls that came out about the same time as the election gave results not very different from the electoral results. And there are also complex internal divisions. I don't know of any knowledgeable person who is making predictions with much confidence.

Thoughts on the mounting opposition to the Iranian regime in social classes of Iran that include conservative and devout Muslims.
I have lots of friends in Iran too, and I they come from very much the same circles as yours (so I presume). I don't have contact with peasants in rural areas, and apart from a few labor activists, with working people in Teheran. It's entirely true that they have legitimate grievances, very serious ones. What is less clear, because we have little information, is how far they are shared with the general population.

Martin Luther King had enormous support from the kind of people I'm likely to meet, but in the general population support was never very high, and waned when he began to emphasize issues beyond racist sheriffs in Alabama.

A possible seizure by the United States of the Khuzestan region in a potential future war.
If there is bombing, by the US or Israel, the outcome is very uncertain, and in the turmoil the US might try to seize the main energy resources, in the largely Arab areas near the Gulf. But I certainly wouldn't predict it.

On the former Libyan foreign ministers comments about the Lockerbie bombing and thoughts on the possibility of Iranian involvement.
My initial assumption about Panam 103 was that it was Iranian-inspired, via Syria, in retaliation for the US destruction of 103 in commercial airspace, killing almost 300 people, a brutal act of international terrorism – praised in the US in a disgustingly vulgar way. That's the way all the evidence pointed, and it was the assumption of US investigators too, as well as the very good organization of families of victims in England (which is independent, unlike its counterpart here). When the US was organizing the first Gulf war it needed Syrian support, so that story was dropped and they turned to blaming Libya, the usual punching bag. It's an extremely shoddy case, well-studied, in particularly by the really outstanding British lawyer and legal analyst Gareth Pierce, and others too. I still think that the original assumptions are the most likely. So does the British families organization.

Hard to comment on the current charges. As they stand, they are a joke, ridiculed by most knowledgeable observers (outside the US). Until some evidence is provided, I see no reason to take them seriously.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Sadly, Mr. Chomsky is dismissive of anything that is nit wnt-emperialist.
He should be more supportive of Iranians even if he things they are the affluent north tehranis.
We lost a brother in law in the demonstration, shot in the head, he was an Arab minority iranian from a poor area of Iran. The same area Mr. Chomsky thinks will be occupied by foreign forces if they dare revolt.
Mr. Chomsky may be half right about he entitles (students, the educated, and yes, the rich elites) leading the charge and ignoring the massess. The fact is that the masses need to be reassud hat change doesn't mean a return to the shah era government were religion and local costumes were shunned all together.