Monday, October 15, 2007

I Walked, I Crawled, I Ran

I have to admit that I have been ignoring the sabre rattling going on lately in regards to Iran. To me, its the same old situation, just move one country to the East.
I have read several books in the last few years about Iran, and it was rather suprising that I picked them up in the first place. The first one was Reading Lolita in Tehran. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially since I was a lit minor and it brought back fond memories of my college days. It did open my eyes to what Iranian women were like, even if they were painted in rather broad strokes. I also understood what motivated those college students in the 1970's who took our embassy hostage. I am not saying that I agree with them, their motivations and their actions, but the mood was clear. It can be compared to the mood that swept our country in the late 1960's, when it seemed anything was possible and there was a world of hope. Change, no matter what, would mean better lives and a better world, before bitter disillusionment sets in. Its that brief shining moment that you have before you realize what you currently have is actually worse than what you had before.
I really was not able to empathize with the women in the book group. Then again, I have problems empathizing with the women in the book group I used to attend. There are a variety of reasons women join book groups-some for the intellectual stimulation, others as a way to get out of the house, and for others its all about the network. You never really got a sense of what drove these women to literally risk their lives to read banned literature. Was it thumbing their noses at the regime? Was it the feeling of doing something dangerous? A sense of rebellion? Daring?
The second book that I read was Lipstick Jihad. The title alone intrigued me, and being a supporter of women's rights, thought it would discuss the opression of women in Islamist regimes, or something light and fluffy along those lines. Again, I was rather disappointed in the fact that it was more of a love letter to an Iran that seemed to exist in the author's dreams and memories. Unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you really can't go home again. The author thought that by returning to her ancesteral homeland she could connect with her family on a different level. Living in an oppresive culture can do that to you I guess.
The third book was Guests of the Ayatollah. I saw the special on Discovery Times channel around the same time the book came out. It was an extremely well written, well researched book as was the documentary. I have to admit, I did enjoy watching it better than reading it since I seem to have the attention span of an ant lately. It was sobering to think that our fellow Americans lived on a razors edge for over a year. I was 9 years old during the Iranian hostage crisis, a very politically astute 9 year old, but still a child. I remember watching what later became Nightline, with the picture of the blindfolded hostage being paraded about. I also remember the triumph of hearing the hostages were to be released as Regan was inaugarated.
I am also a great fan of ancient history and have spent time studying about ancient Persia. I would not say that I am an expert on the history, but I feel like I can at least respect the culture.
This being the background, I have to admit that I have been ingoring the sabre rattling going on of late, with our government laying the ground work for war with Iran. I agree that Ahmidinjad is a nut job, and probably should be taken out. I did applaud the bellicosity of Columbia's president when he was introducing him to speak (I did not agree with the fact that he spoke at the university). I did not stay tuned into CNN to hear the speech, I really did not care. I also did not pay any attention to the UN General Assembly.
I am nervous that things are going to start escalating to bring us to a full fledged Middle Eastern war. I am nervous that the doomsday clock will start ticking and we will be marching towards Armaggedon. Iran having nuclear weapons is not acceptable, and it is a very scary proposition because of the kook who could press the button. Also, I am hoping that we are not being lied to by the government regarding the fact that the Iranians are supplying the Iraqi insurgency and providing material support to our enemy.
I am hoping that we can pursue some other options before we undertake another military campaign in Iran. Divestment in companies that finance the regime in Iran may be a start. It worked with ending apartheid in South Africa. However, it does not seem like there is enough financial incentive to do so. Labelling them a terroristic or rogue state has not curtailed their activities, so name calling isn't going to help. Finding a third path may be the only way to avoid more conflict.

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