Iran Now In Global Mirror

English: TEHRAN. With Ayatollah Sayed Ali Kham...
TEHRAN. Putin with Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adapted from Nikolai Bobkin’s article

Tehran was not congratulated by Washington on Rouhani’s victory in the presidential elections, demonstrating that they did not intend to soften their policy towards Iran. This is at best a language of despair and of malintent at worst. In contrast, the Brookings Institution said : “Under the circumstances when the authorities of the USA, China, Russia and European states are preparing for the next steps of the negotiations with Iran, new opportunities arise in connection with the predominantly moderate tendencies in the foreign policy of Tehran.” American politicians quickly appraised the electoral defeat of conservatives in immediate entourage of the head of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, as a motive for changing Washington’s stance towards Tehran. Thus, 118 US Congressmen on both sides of the aisle issued a letter of appeal to President Obama, calling for efforts to start direct negotiations with Iranian authorities. Further, 29 retired high-ranking diplomats and officials wrote to urge the US President into fresh multilateral and bilateral discussions with Iran after President Rouhani assumes charge.

There is cautious optimism in Europe as well about change of guard in Iran. Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague stated his nation’s willingness to improve ties with Tehran on step by step basis. London and Tehran have begun reflecting on restoring full functioning of their respective embassies in the other country. Iran made a friendly protocol step and congratulated Queen Elizabeth and  Prince William on the birth of an heir to the British throne.

It is not only the British who are willing to make adjustments in the relations with Iran. European economists prove openly and convincingly that their countries are missing out on many opportunities as a result of sanctions initiated by Washington. But American experts are unrelenting; they say, the situation around Iran will not change fundamentally merely because of a new president. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, currently with American Enterprise Institute, is sure that Rouhani’s election is nothing but a trap that gives America a false sense of security and delays negotiations already on, even while Iran does nothing to halt its nuclear enrochment process. In his view, the difference between the new president and Ahmadinejad is only in the rhetoric; the latter expressed the goals publicly while Rouhani will act without unnecessary declarations. It is recalled, of course, that Rouhani led the Iranian delegation in 2003–2005 at the negotiations table on the nuclear issue. It is reported, he boasted to his Iranian colleagues about the ease with which he had been able to outsmart European diplomats. Allegedly, in 2004, in a speech he gave before Iranian legislators and professors, Rouhani said that Tehran had managed to gain time for its nuclear development.

Now however, Rouhani takes a pragmatic stance : “We will undertake two steps to lift the sanctions. Firstly, we are going to double the transparency of our nuclear programme. Secondly, we intend to build credibility between Iran and the international community.” It must be admitted that this sort of statements by Rouhani have been heard and received seriously. The representative of European Union for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, encourages swift resumption of the negotiation process with the Iran. In Brussels, at non-public consultations of political directors of the “group of six”, participants suggested a turn to new phase in discussions on the Iranian nuclear dossier. The negotiation process, which is on hold since April, will resume after formation of the new government in Iran.

Political analysts though are wary of the US lead in the “group of six.” The US State Department aims at gaining major political concessions from the new Iranian president. They intend to further increase pressure on Tehran, in a bid to test Rouhani’s firmness. After the elections in Iran, the US imposed new sanctions – against Iran’s automotive industry. In the Security Council however, Russia did not accept claims against Iran and blocked imposition of new UN sanctions, alongwith China. Whilst Russia is convinced that the actions of the international community aimed at resolving issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme are undermined by unilateral sanctions, Washington has already threatened President Rouhani with new punitive measures of its own. The main argument is that, in the Islamic Republic, the president does not have the last say in foreign policy matters; it is the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei who holds the right to hammer last.

The US assessment rests on matters of fact. President Rouhani cannot radically reform and change Iran’s strategic policies on his own. He is elected as the head of only the executive branch of the government. The head of state in Iran is the supreme leader who has control over the armed forces, which function independently of the government, as well as over various religious and political oversight bodies, judicial power and the Parliament. Besides, Rouhani is closely linked to the community of religious clerics : he has been a member of the political entourage of the founder of Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini. He worked for decades at the side of the current supreme leader, Khamenei, and was his trustee. Their relationship rules out open political confrontation and the very possibility of systemic contradictions between them.

Ayatollah Khamenei brought discussions with US to a stop. He declares, Washington “does not deserve the Islamic Republic’s trust”; that is why there can be yet no talk of establishing diplomatic relations between the two states. Nevertheless, the leader of Iran does not rule out the possibility of a dialogue on certain issues of mutual interest, admitting : “…over the last years, I have not prohibited a dialogue on specific issues such as, for example, on Iraq”. It looks like the Iranian nuclear dossier is not a permissible topic for bilateral discussion. The format of the “group of six”, with participation of Russia and China, suits Tehran. Realising that the Americans cannot afford military aggression, the Iranian leadership follow and will continue to follow their commitment to conducting nuclear research.

The US sanctions, supported by EU, undoubtedly causes serious problems for the Iranian economy. At the same time, it should be admitted that they are not the only reason for Iran’s economic downturn, which in part is also the result of some not very successful experiments of the previous government. As of now, the steering wheel of the country’s strategic course remains with the supreme leader of Iran.

Nikolai Bobkin is an expert on the Near and Middle East security, candidate of military sciences, docent.

This article was written exclusively for New Eastern Outlook.

Northern Tehran City with Alborz Mountains in ...

Secrecy Corrupts … Snowden Is Right

Snowden was not mistaken to flee the U.S.. UU.
Daniel Ellsberg · · · · ·
Adapted from
Cover of "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam an...
Cover via Amazon

Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, was accused in 1971 of violating the Espionage Act and of theft and conspiracy, for copying the so-called Pentagon Papers. The judgment was overturned in 1971 after he presented evidence to the court of the U.S. government misconduct, including illegal wiretapping.


Many people compare Edward Snowden unfavorably to me, for leaving the country and seeking asylum rather than face trial as I did. The country in which I stayed was a different America, long ago.

After the New York Times was prevented from publishing the Pentagon Papers – on June 15, 1971, the first of a newspaper censorship in American history – and I had given a copy to the Washington Post (which was also prohibited from publishing it), I went underground with my wife, Patricia, for thirteen days. My goal (quite similar to Snowden’s travel to Hong Kong) was to elude the vigilance while preparing – with the crucial help of a number of people yet unknown to the FBI – for the sequential distribution of the Pentagon Papers among 17 other newspapers, given the two prohibitions. The last three days of the period passed in defiance of a warrant. Like Snowden today, I was a “fugitive from justice”.

However, when I gave myself to be held in Boston, after having given out the last copies of the papers in my possession the night before, I was released on bail the same day. Later, when the accusations were compounded against me, from three to a dozen initial charges, which carried a possible sentence of 115 years, my bail increased to $ 50,000. But during the two years that I was tried, I was free to talk to the press and public, at rallies and conferences. At the end of the day, I was part of a movement against a war that is still going on. Helping to end the war was my outstanding concern, which I could not have done from abroad, and it never entered my head to leave the country.   

There is not the slightest possibility that this experience will be repeated today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by revealing actions of the White House against a criminal defendant, as it clearly was in Richard Nixon era.

I have the hope that the revelations of Snowden will trigger a movement that rescues our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is null chance that he might be released on bail, as I was. On the other hand, he would be in a prison cell as Bradley Manning, in solitary confinement.   

Snowden would be confined in total isolation, even longer than that suffered by Manning during his three years in prison before recent start of his trial. The Special Rapporteur on Torture of United Nations on Manning described the conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” (this would be realistic foundation in most countries to grant on Snowden’s request for asylum, if they could resist the intimidation and bribery by United States).

Snowden believes he has done nothing wrong. I absolutely agree. More than 40 years after the publicationof of the Pentagon Papers without permission on my part, these leaks are still the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. 

One of the lessons of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden leaks is simple : secrecy corrupts, as does power.  

Daniel Ellsberg (1931), legendary civil rights activist, became famous for leaking in 1971 the New York Times called Pentagon Papers, which revealed the involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam. PhD in Economics from Harvard, is also known for the “Ellsberg paradox” in the field of mathematical theory of decision.

English: Four Presidents: President Ronald Rea...
Four Presidents: President Ronald Reagan with his three predecessors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I Am Free.” But At Death !


Adapted from confessional narration of a US military veteran in Iraq. He speaks of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the coverup. The testament took the same courage as the evidence revealed by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. When and how will this madness stop ?

Does anybody understand what letter below means to us : about us, our government, its neo imperial adventures … and their consequences.

The “unspeakable horrors” are telling. For what ?

If you are a US citizen and are convinced with an answer, any worthwhile answer, please enter in the comment section.

English: US Marines Corps (USMC) Marines from ...
US Marines Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This”: A Soldier’s Last Words

Daniel Somers. Letter featured on .


Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions, interviewed countless Iraqis, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions.

On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life.

Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes, during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for ?

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers

US Navy 030416-D-0000D-001 Gen. Tommy Franks, ...
US Navy Gen. Tommy Franks, Commander, U.S. Forces Central Command (CENTCOM)





Journal : Musings

Elections 2014 

My senior friend, Basudeb Sen, brilliantly observes :

“2014 is going to be much tougher than it was in 2009 for the Congress. The corruption stigma may still haunt its poll prospects. Its only hope lies is a miraculous economy bounceback and direct food subsidy flowing in a large measure in 2013. Still Congress may need a stronger UPA3 coalition partner support. And, the left parties, especially CPM is waiting for an opportunity to give outside support to Congress so that they can regain a status of some importance in national politics, and will keep trying to keep BJP at bay.

“However much one may dislike Cong and consider support to BJP, BJP does not show much unity and any alternative, internally consistent election manifesto attractive enough to people. If N Modi repeats his performance with at least 110 seats on 21.12.12 and the BJP accepts him as the next PM candidate without the slightest of reluctance, and keep Sangh Parivar absolutely quiet, BJP can still hope to get to power, provided a new NDA is strong enough.

“If CPM is ready to offer outside support to Cong., Mamata’s TMC may provide outside support to NDA just to keep CPM away from links with the Central Govt. Either of BSP or SP can deny support to Congress if they find the deal could be better with BJP. The Tamil lady may join the side that gives more cabinet post allocation to her party nominees.

“BJP is yet to show any triumph strategy.”

There’s nothing I could add to Mr Sen’s analysis, except of that chance build up to an elusive “wave” … which seems least likely to be in favour of either the Congress or its allies. On the other hand, the political polarisation along 2 – alliance columns is nebulous in favour of NDA and, as Mr Sen observes, fraught with opportunism in the UPA camp.

Only a big enough margin between the individual counts of the two behemoths – BJP and the Congress – will clarify the day.

Killing Culture

Gunmen shot dead 30 children and injured several others in a school in Connecticut, USA. It is such a collosal loss of life, love, opportunity and future. My friend, Francis Hunt, says :

” My heartbroken sympathy goes out to all the families whose children were murdered in Newtown. To the families of the dead teachers as well. Looking from Europe, where the possession of firearms just isn’t an issue for the overwhelming majority of people – and where we honestly don’t feel threatened in our unarmed state – I find US gun-culture very hard to understand.”

But Obama felt that this wasn’t the time to talk of such issues ! There has been a spate in the series though that lends an urgency to the matter, including the fundamental one :

What value abides with us in a world without order, but for the pervasive niche of porn and media ? What do we make of the leadership – religious, political and economic – that leaves us to this existential chaos before us ? These questions preoccupied Albert Camus through every one of his works over half a century ago !

Because, indeed, it isn’t just the society in the United States. Europe’s quiet still seems tenuous : Athens, Spain, Italy, Portugal … saw riots and expressions of people’s angst. How will the British take it as the NHS gets dismantled ? Sweden’s killings have not vacated in our minds. The Muslim world seethes the same …

The latest from China reports of a knife-wielding man injuring 22 children and one adult outside a primary school, as students were arriving for classes yesterday. It again is one more in a series of periodic rampage attacks at Chinese schools and kindergartens.

A Beautiful Soul

Let me wind up with the thoughts of an exceedingly beautiful soul and musical genius extraordinary, whom the world has not heard … Annapurna Devi !

She is one whose success about the middle of the last century troubled the much eulogised Pandit Ravi Shankar and inspired the Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic, Abhimaan !

The Western world might not even be aware of the instrument but Annapurna Devi’s is “The story of the greatest surbahar player you never heard.”

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