Iran: Diary of a Journey

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#11 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby Gaybutton » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:33 pm

fountainhall wrote:it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

You seem to know much more about Iran than most of us would probably know. I'm interested to know how you think it will play out.

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#12 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby fountainhall » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:18 pm

Other than what I wrote in my earlier posts and what i now see on the television news, I really do not know. When I was there almost 3 months ago, my main guide made it clear that there was a lot of discontent with the regime even amongst the most devout Muslims. It was known that sanctions were biting, prices rising quickly and corruption at the top was rife. Against that I was told it was generally accepted that the tight grip held over society by the mullahs backed by the much feared National Guard and some other military groups virtually ruled out a second revolution. So reform would have to come from within. But the regime ensured that reformist cells in different cities were strictly monitored and that no national movement could take hold.

In 2009 there were major protests against the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. Initially peaceful, these started in Tehran. When they turned violent after the regime began to suppress them, the protests spread to other cities. The difference today is that they did not start in Tehran but in several secondary cities - and largely at the same time. Corruption and rising prices are obvious targets. This time, though, there appear to be two new factors.

The substance of the protests extends to anger that so much of the country's cash is being spent on overseas conflicts rather than improving the lot of the people. As my guide told me, virtually all the countless thousands of Iranians sent to fight ISIS in northern Iraq and Syria were killed. They had responded to exhortations from the country's Supreme Leader, who said early last year, "The door for martyrdom, which was closed by the end of the Iranian-Iraqi war, is now open in Syria." News of the early deaths were widely reported in Iran. As the numbers rose, I am sure the information would have quickly spread.

As worrying for the regime will be calls for the return of a Shah. Despite the terror he inflicted, the last Shah retains popularity amongst some of the older Iranians. His son, Reza Pahlavi, is presently 57 and so presumably could return as leader in the unlikely event the current regime falls. He has consistently advocated a separation of church and state and the necessity of true democracy.

But it is the country's youth who probably hold the key. They were born after the 1979 Revolution and the absolute disaster of the Iran/Iraq War. They are now used to greater freedom (within limits), western style coffee shops and clothes, influence from their family members amongst the large Iranian diaspora who fled after the Revolution. Will they hold their nerve this time, even as the regime kills off what may turn out to be many thousands, if not more? I just do not know.

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#13 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby firecat69 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:29 pm

Lot of news coverage today of the protests happening in Iran. Not just in the cities but all over the country. The young are getting sick of despot regimes and one can only hope that this is the beginning of an uprise by the entire population. Of course this is what Obama was betting on when he made a deal to stall the Nuclear Program, hoping that the young would eventually move the country away from its terrorist leaders.

Unfortunately despots don't give up their power easily. Just look what happened when the youth tried to rally for changes in Tiananmen . They failed but of course the leaders changed their economic model in order to keep order. They have consolidated their hold on power and the man at the Top is no better then any Autocratic Ruler. Those types are only interested in power and wealth for themselves . Luckily for China they had a willing partner in the USA to enrich themselves and their country. Iran has no such partner.

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#14 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby fountainhall » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:27 am

firecat69 wrote:ust look what happened when the youth tried to rally for changes in Tiananmen . They failed but of course the leaders changed their economic model in order to keep order

That is an utterly simplistic condensed version of what actually happened in 1989. I suggest that Surfcrest read more about the three month lead up to that incident. Overthrowing the regime and even making more than relatively minor changes was never part of the agenda of those in the Square. The present Iran protests go much deeper.

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#15 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby firecat69 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:23 am

First I am not Surfcrest. Then I agree it is simplistic but the point was more that Autocrats will do anything to hold on to power. After using force the rulers of China realized quite smartly they could not afford to have a Billion + people remaining in extreme poverty and hope to continue in power.

So they smartly changed the Economic Model and began to use their large population to both build and staff factories . 16 hour days and 7 days a week for meager salaries ( better then what they had) allowed them to trick the US and other western Democracies into moving factories and importing Billions in goods . You can find people who will argue both sides of whether this was good for the US. I grew up during that time and I can tell you the long range changes have all been bad.

And of course since the Chinese are by far the biggest thieves in the world of Intellectual properties , there have been long term harms to many Western Companies .

It is really not fair to compare Iran and China because Iran made nothing but mistakes after the Revolution and plunged millions into poverty and have gone backwards in their economy in many respects . And of course they had Oil and continued to screw that advantage up.

So yes you are right that I should not compare China with Iran except both are Autocratic Countries . Both of them used their power to increase the wealth of those in power but China was able to walk a tightrope with the help of the West and lift many millions out of poverty.

Will they be able to continue that is the next question. They certainly still have hundreds of millions in poverty but their rulers are much more sophisticated then the rulers of Iran so only time will tell .

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#16 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby Jun » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:52 am

Disposing of current leadership is one challenge.

Then they need to install honest & competent replacement leaders. That part often goes wrong, as one lot of corrupt self serving leaders is often followed by another.

Once you have leaders who create the conditions required for economic growth, other factors come into it. For example, is the education system good ? I don't know about Iran, but time spent studying religion doesn't help to achieve high living standards (For example).

Even after revolution, countries can quickly slip back to another dictatorship. In the middle east, it seems to happen every time.

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#17 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby fountainhall » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:15 pm

Firstly my apologies to firecat69 for even mentioning Surfcrest. I can think of no reason for having done so other than over-imbibing at an early stage of the evening. Again, apologies!

As I have said before, firecat69 and I will never agree on China. Our views are almost diametrically opposed. I see it from having lived on the doorstep of mainland China for 19 years and then in what became part of China for a further 4 during which time I had been making regular visits to the major cities. Thereafter I ran a small company in China for a further 16 years. During all that time I have visited these and many more cities on well over 50 occasions, including Beijing just before and again just after June 1989. I have met a wide variety of Chinese from government Ministers to those pretty near the bottom of the food chain. And just incidentally one of my good friends in Shanghai produced China's first full frontal gay movie "Lan Yu" - even though such a film was, and I imagine still is, against official policy. There are far more freedoms in China than firecat69 suggests!

Firecat69's view is an ingrained American perspective (understandable if one makes little attempt to view the country from a broad historical perspective). Sadly much of that view is skewed by propaganda - and an obvious (and again understandable) view that China has screwed the USA big time. Wasn't it Trump who said that had been America's fault??

Apart from sweeping generalisations, I do take issue with these comments -

firecat69 wrote:After using force the rulers of China realized quite smartly they could not afford to have a Billion + people remaining in extreme poverty and hope to continue in power.

So they smartly changed the Economic Model and began to use their large population to both build and staff factories . 16 hour days and 7 days a week for meager salaries ( better then what they had) allowed them to trick the US and other western Democracies into moving factories and importing Billions in goods.

That is just totally untrue - totally! The Cultural Revolution ended in 1975. It had utterly destroyed the country's economy, its education system as well as much of the very fabric of Chinese society. The country was a total basket case. By 1975 it had endured well over a century and a half of disintegration from within and outright war. Chinese wanted stability and an end to the disastrous policies of Mao which had ended up killing tens of millions. Deng fought his way back to power in the late 1970s determined to change everything and implement reforms, both economic and political. To that end, in 1980 he appointed two key reformers to the posts of Party General Secretary, Hu Yaobang, and Prime Minister, Zhao Ziyang. Both were to play roles in the 1989 protests even though just beforehand both had been stripped of power and Hu had died. The old guard had won that round.

By then, though, the new economic model was under way - and had been well under way since 1979. The suggestion that the economic model changed after Tiananmen Square is thus totally wrong. Although a member of the old guard himself, Deng usually sided with his younger colleagues in terms of reform, although most reforms were thwarted by the much larger contingent of Maoist/Marxists.

As for the suggestion that Chinese people had to work "16 hours a day, 7 days a week", that is pure fiction. It is utter nonsense. Yes, the Chinese certainly worked hard, if only because under the new economic model which had started ten years earlier vast numbers were able to become much richer than they had ever dreamed before. At that time this was not on the back of exports. It was a result of the complete abandonment of the state collective farm system, a return to individual farming and the abolition of the state price control mechanisms. Tens of millions in the countryside were the first to benefit.

Back to Iran -

firecat69 wrote:It is really not fair to compare Iran and China because Iran made nothing but mistakes after the Revolution and plunged millions into poverty and have gone backwards in their economy in many respects.

Here we agree. But here I believe we also have to take into account the effects of the disastrous Iraq invasion in 1980 which did not end till 1988. I am in little doubt that that not only hardened the regime's resolve in terms of its theocratic aims, it also mobilised Iranians to give even more support to the mullahs. There's often nothing like a long and ghastly war to get people on the side of the government.

Perhaps with Iran we also have to look further back. Iran was actually a democratic society in the early 1950s. Unfortunately for the country, outside intervention killed that off. Having put together a coalition of parties, Mohammed Mosaddegh won the 1951 elections in the country's Parliament. Part of the coalition agenda was the nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil company. Both Eisenhower and Churchill objected and decided Mosaddegh had to go. In 1953, as proved by documents released in 2013, the CIA made the first of what were to prove many successful interventions to remove a democratically elected leader in a foreign country. In his book "All the Shah's Men. An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror", Stephen Kinzer claims this CIA action left a "haunting and terrible legacy."

I do not believe we can judge present day actions without looking back at the historical circumstances that brought them into effect. In that respect, the USA, Britain and other western powers have on too many occasions interfered to solve what they perceived as a short term problem - a problem for them - but left a far larger problem that would "haunt" them in the longer term.

haim

#18 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby haim » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:10 pm

fountainhall wrote:Firstly my apologies to firecat69 for even mentioning Surfcrest. I can think of no reason for having done so other than over-imbibing at an early stage of the evening. Again, apologies!



I do not believe we can judge present day actions without looking back at the historical circumstances that brought them into effect. In that respect, the USA, Britain and other western powers have on too many occasions interfered to solve what they perceived as a short term problem - a problem for them - but left a far larger problem that would "haunt" them in the longer term.

All countries act in the national interests (which change with time) and cannot be judged on "moral values". USA made the most impact in last century simply because it was the most powerful country. While ,of course, one can judge that certain actions were not perfect, on balance the US impact was overwelmengly positive: those countries who embraced under US influence the ideas of liberal democracy (Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand,South Korea,Taiwan, Israel) are thriving and provide the best opportunities for their citizens and residents). On the contrary, countries like Russia and China promote corrupted, repressive dictatorships ( in other words, reproduce their evil empires in other places). That is the bottom line. Only pathological American haters (usually losers in real life) cannot see this simple truth.

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#19 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby fountainhall » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:02 pm

I think there can be no doubt that in general terms the US has been a force for good in the world. But that is not to say a veil should be drawn over the evils it has sometimes perpetrated (often in conjunction with other countries, it must be added).

haim wrote:All countries act in the national interests (which change with time) and cannot be judged on "moral values".

I agree with the former but certainly not with the latter. Of course countries can be judged on moral values. They may not like it, but they cannot stop it. I made several visits to and remember the frightful poverty and murdering dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines whose regime only existed because it was of use to the USA. It was only when the Filipinos themselves finally rose up as one that America realised it could no longer have its own way and Marcos fled - to the USA!

I remember also Kissinger's visits to Jakarta and West Pakistan on the days before East Timor and East Pakistan were invaded. 300,000 lost their lives in the former annexation and 3 million in the latter war. The US had given its nod of approval to both. Does that not merit a moral judgement?

And that's before we come up against the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodian disasters - utterly unnecessary and, in the case of the last two, wars that were illegal, not even authorised by the US Congress. That resulted in the US making one B52 bombing sortie over Laos every 8 minutes for 9 years. Is that not morally repugnant? It also created the conditions which in the resultant vacuum saw the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge and the death of 1.5 million + Cambodians. Is that not morally disgraceful and utterly repugnant?

haim wrote:those countries who embraced under US influence the ideas of liberal democracy (Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand,South Korea,Taiwan, Israel) are thriving and provide the best opportunities for their citizens and residents). On the contrary, countries like Russia and China promote corrupted, repressive dictatorships ( in other words, reproduce their evil empires in other places). That is the bottom line. Only pathological American hates (usually losers in real life) cannot see this simple truth.

Sorry Haim, you need to look more at your history books. Australia and New Zealand became liberal democracies under British influence and long before the USA rose to become a world power.

As for China, I believe it has never been called an evil empire by any world leader - as far as I am aware. And whatever system it has adopted, you cannot deny the absolute fact that it has raised more people out of extreme poverty - estimated at at least 400 million - in the shortest time ever in world history. And the present leadership has vowed to abolish poverty by 2020. When, I wonder, will the USA abolish poverty and the need for 42 million of its own citizens to be handed out food stamps?

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#20 Re: Iran: Diary of a Journey

Postby fountainhall » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:05 pm

haim wrote:countries like Russia and China promote corrupted, repressive dictatorships ( in other words, reproduce their evil empires in other places). That is the bottom line. Only pathological American haters (usually losers in real life) cannot see this simple truth.

Personally I object to the last sentence. I do not agree that China has a corrupted (corrupt, perhaps, but then you can say that of many democracies around the world - care to check on Malaysia?) repressive dictatorship, I am not a pathological American hater - and I am not a loser in real life! I do not believe such sweeping illogical presumptions contribute anything to the discussion..


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