American Scholar In Iran.

Posted on January 30, 2015

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-29Alphabet Executive Director of the MIT Center for International Studies John Tirman appeared on Iranian network Press TV’s “Face to Face” recently to talk about the Middle East. In answer to the woman interviewer’s questions about ISIS and where it gets its funding, he responded that it came from a variety of sources.

Starting around three years ago, according to Mr. Tirman, the Middle East’s Gulf monarchies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and perhaps others directed financial support to ISIS and other terrorist groups to topple the nation of Syria under Bashar al-Assad. He describes ISIS as “well-funded and well-organized”, whose other sources of funding includes a sophisticated online presence for both raising money and recruiting.

Tirman believes that ISIS was able to overrun large areas and cities in Iraq in the summer of 2014 because the regions they operated in were weak in both law enforcement/military and absent strong government institutions. On the topic of what drives young men to consider then join ISIS, he points to a number of factors.

Motivation from religious beliefs that most Islamic scholars would reject at once

Seeking some form of “adventure”

An option for receiving a paycheck after living in regions of high unemployment and economic downturn

Tirman apologized, then said unfortunately some ISIS recruits join for the violence carried out by the terrorist group

John Tirman told the interviewer that he “is not optimistic” that peace will come to the Middle East any time soon, given the horrendous conditions in Libya, the ongoing 4 year-old war and violence occurring in Syria, and the “continuing standoff” between Israel and the Palestinians. He finds it very difficult to find any positive near term solution for the wars occurring in the Middle East, however Mr. Tirman does find reason for hope if the current US – Iran – P5+1 nuclear negotiations are successful.

There is a possibility that ISIS could fall rapidly if they lost control of the Iraqi city of Mosul, recruitment efforts became prevented or stopped, and/or if somehow an alternative to joining ISIS became developed giving young people a reason not to join the terrorist groups.

Mr. Tirman sees that perceptions by many around the world about Iran have evolved to the point where the Iranians are increasingly being seen/recognized as a force for positive potential developments in the region, and he further stresses through repeating how important he feels about reaching a successful agreement on the P5+1 nuclear talks.

Finally John Tirman conveys his belief that the United States should withdraw militarily from the Middle East; that there is a strong argument for “rethinking” on US military intervention. He sees the current situation as one where there is a need to create new relations with nations of the Middle East by America – “rather than projecting military power”. As a first step in that new direction, according to Tirman, the US must end its insistence to “push the consequences of the Iraq War aside”.

Perhaps it’s time for American media programs to bring Iranians in the same scholarly league as John Tirman on the air for interviews. Maybe those same American media organizations would end up with far fewer reports on war and violence in the Middle East as a result.

That would be widely appreciated as some really good news. 

****

(Thank you to PressTV News Videos at YouTube)

Advertisements

Sarah Palin In Iowa: Compassion.

by Jerry Alatalo

Header10Alphabet After considering Sarah Palin’s speech in Iowa at a meeting of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls over the weekend, it’s hard to determine just how to analyze it. One could come from a place of humor and ridicule, and generate a few laughs through witty remarks about the very real possibility, if in 2008 John McCain and Ms. Palin had won the presidential election, and that, if McCain had become incapable of continuing, she could have become the President of the United States.

Ms. Palin’s speech leaves one afterward in a state of mixed emotions, but perhaps the best description for how most people reacted was with feelings of not knowing exactly whether to laugh or cry. Being a person who refrains from ever kicking another person when they are down, the best emotion in response to Ms. Palin’s embarrassing oratory performance is probably compassion.

She may have consumed some alcohol before going on stage to speak, innocently loosening up with her friends whom she hadn’t seen in a while, but unfortunately placed too much faith in the problem-free operation of her teleprompter. As a person who has a history of alcohol abuse, it would be difficult to judge Sarah Palin harshly if that were the case.

There could be other explanations for her unusual reasoning during the talk, perhaps something to do with taking prescription medication, with incoherency being one of the side effects like those many at the end of every TV advertisement. Now, if Sarah Palin was actually stone-cold sober during this talk, then, well, this was a very, very sad moment for the United States of America.

For whatever reason, after watching Ms. Palin’s Iowa talk, the image of U.S. Attorney General nominee to replace Eric Holder – Loretta Lynch – came to mind after watching a good portion of her senate confirmation hearing today. Both Ms. Lynch’s opening statement and her answers to senators’ tough legal questions struck one as highly impressive, surely the result of law school and many years of experience as an attorney and prosecutor in New York.

What became crystal clear and felt absolutely astonishing was to become aware of the profound distance between these two women regarding their ability to “think on one’s feet”, as the cliché goes. Now, once again, in order not to kick another while they’re down, law school training is one of the most challenging of all academic disciplines, and it’s abundantly apparent that Sarah Palin’s extent of legal studies and experience amount to a small percentage of  Loretta Lynch’s.

There is an important lesson to become learned from making a comparison between Sarah Palin in Iowa and Loretta Lynch during the Senate confirmation hearing. With a feeling of sadness for those young people in America who will watch Ms. Palin’s Iowa talk and end up confused because they’ll know she could have become both Vice President and President of the United States, as well as great compassion for a fellow human being/soul who will unfortunately experience kicks while she’s down, putting a finger on exactly what that lesson is leaves one almost as confused as the young ones.

It’s a bizarre lesson. Perhaps the lesson learned has to do with disallowing teleprompters for politicians altogether, guaranteeing elimination of any possibility in the future of less-than-ideal candidates’ winning elections. Or the lesson may relate to instances where human beings become so overwhelmed by what they perceive as problems in the world they are powerless to solve that the result is separation from that dark reality. And for that reason great compassion is the only response.

Whatever the lesson is, and there are many possible teachings, one thing is certain.

The lesson is greater than we know.

****

(The Young Turks – YouTube)

Greece Ignites Global Economic, Monetary Debate.

Posted on January 26, 2015

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-31Alphabet Ashort excerpt from Greek philosopher Plato’s “The Republic”.

Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the isolation to be effected? I answer: Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just; nothing is to be taken away from either of them, and both are to be perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives.

First, let the unjust be like other distinguished masters of craft; like the skillful pilot or physician, who knows intuitively his own powers and keeps within their limits, and who, if he fails at any point, is able to recover himself. So let the unjust make his unjust attempts in the right way, and lie hidden if he means to be great in his injustice (he who is found out is nobody): for the highest reach of injustice is: to be deemed just when you are not.

Therefore I say that in the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice; there is to be no deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have taken a false step he must be able to recover himself; he must be one who can speak with effect, if any of his deeds come to light, and who can force his way where force is required his courage and strength, and command of money and friends.

And at his side let us place the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be and not to seem good. There must be no seeming, for if he seem to be just he will be honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honours and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in justice only, and have no other covering; and he must be imagined in a state of life the opposite of the former.

Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thus to the hour of death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.

The Syriza Party of Greece came close to winning in 2012, and, since economic conditions for the Greek people have remained dire up until the January 25 elections, the people have decided and voted for an entirely new political direction.

Alexis Tsipras became sworn in as leader of Greece without any of the typical pomp, wearing his much commented-on open-collared shirt without tie, speaking to the citizens of the nation about an end to their multi-year “humiliation” at the hands of the oligarchs and elites.

Worth noting is that on Monday January 26, the day after Mr. Tsipras’ swearing-in formalities as such, no American mainstream media TV outlets reported on the results of the Greek elections. This despite the truly historic nature of the event, and widespread first story treatment on nearly all TV news broadcasts outside the United States. In a certain sense, while it is obviously an important public service to report on what some are describing as one of the most dangerous winter storms ever in America’s northeast, Syriza’s election victory in Greece could be seen as a record-breaking “political blizzard” of its own.

If those Americans who know about the results of Greek elections asked their fellow Americans if they’d heard about it, the odds are probably good that not a small percentage would answer with “No, what about Greece elections?” or “No, what happened? or “Was there an attack by ISIS or something?” or “Did Putin invade Greece?”

American mainstream media’s apparent censorship by omission, and absence of Americans’ awareness of the true significance of Greece choosing an astonishing direction aside, most men and women observers are well aware that things have changed in a big way. For people who participated in the Occupy movement whose motto “We Are The 99%” is now recognized internationally, what they see now is that the real battles (knowing the Greeks’ esteemed philosophical history, ones fought with reason and in-depth debate) with the banksters has begun.

So, if anyone noticed, the Greek people followed the advice of one of America’s “radical leftists” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, and overcame efforts to portray Syriza as the dangerous choice which would result in “the sky (over Greece) falling”. Radical left, radical right, radical whatever. There is no doubt that something fundamental and certainly to some extent extreme happened on January 25, 2015 in Greece and, by extension, around the Earth.

Syriza is now faced with trying to carry out its campaign proposals to end austerity, negotiate with the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund (the Troika) on Greek debt, tackling corruption and tax evasion by performing honest governance, and – fitting for the nation where democracy was born – bringing about a higher level of democracy-based politics.

According to interviewer Tariq Ali in the following video, mass popular mobilization is “critically important for Syriza’s success”. This has become more difficult to accomplish after Greeks have grown weary of political activism from their tough, years-long economic experience with harsh austerity. It will be no small task to improve the health and well-being of the Greek people who, according to the televised discussion – “have become marginalized and basically forgotten”.

Other challenges for Syriza include stopping privatization of government-owned industries and assets, fiscal reforms, environmental regulation, and creating completely new economic development models. Although positively transforming reality for the Greek people will need a strong united effort, of the greatest outcomes of Greek elections is that political philosophy has made a fortunate “comeback” starting from Greece, where it originated thousands of years ago,  and “Syriza can trigger large social movements across Europe, a re-composition of political forces, and a new internationalism”.

Wonder what Plato’s thinking.

****

(Thank you to teleSUR English at YouTube)

Iran Leader’s Message To European, North American Youth.

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-32Alphabet In an effort to discourage and prevent the young men and women of Europe and North America from becoming involved with ISIS, al Qaeda and/or other terrorist groups falsely claiming adherence to the principles of Islam, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei wrote a letter directed to those young people.

In the letter he asks the young people (all people should read the Quran before forming any opinions about Islam) if they have ever read Islam’s sacred text the Quran, and suggests they do so before even thinking about joining any terrorist group. Some reading this may have read the text in the past and understand where Iran’s leader is coming from and why he felt it necessary to communicate with vulnerable young people.

Having read the Quran within the last few weeks, there is absolutely nothing in the writings which gives ISIS or other terrorist groups any Islamic justification for the heinous, barbaric crimes committed since the summer of 2014 in Iraq, or since 2011 in Syria. Let it be said in another way. For ISIS to assert that it follows the sacred teachings of the Quran and Muhammad would be the same thing as if it said it was following the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ. ISIS does not equate with Islam.

The Quran corresponds to every essential sacred text of all major Earth spiritual traditions, in that it teaches right, Godly conduct in all one’s affairs, and penalty to pay first here and in the afterlife for failure to live in such a manner. True devoted adherents of all the Earth’s spiritual traditions, be it Hindu, Islam, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Tao, Indigenous or any other could never in a million years condone murderous actions or inflicting great harm upon – especially – innocent human beings.

Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei is doing the right thing in correcting the great – but absolutely false – misperception that ISIS has some relation whatsoever to true Islam. Perhaps the time has come for leaders from every spiritual tradition on Earth to join in strong unity and publish a letter similar to the letter Iran’s leader has directed to the European and North American young people.

Such an all-tradition message could not only be directed to young people tempted in their ignorance to join criminal organizations like ISIS, but toward adults around the world who are also ignorant of Islamic core spiritual teachings, who unwittingly increase dissemination of erroneous and dangerous concepts based on profound misperception. It is both disappointing and puzzling to know that such a joining of the Earth’s spiritual tradition leaders, and publication of their unified message of peace in correcting dangerous and ignorant views, has not yet occurred.

Because if there’s one thing humanity is in desperate need of now is wisdom, understanding and action from those called, and who claim themselves as, the makers of peace.

In recent news regarding the insane and misguided phenomenon called “Islamophobia”, many are familiar of since discredited reports from FOX News about so-called “no-go” zones/cities in Europe, in particular Paris, France and Birmingham, England. “Terrorism experts'” appeared on FOX News talking about imaginary Muslim-controlled “no-go” zones where even police officers dare not enter. Those reports have been completely discredited as false, FOX News has had to publicly apologize for them, and the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has gone so far as to threaten legal action against FOX for the harm done to her city Paris’ reputation.

In her own way Anne Hidalgo has decided to powerfully clear up misperceptions. Perhaps the mayor of Birmingham, England will follow Mayor Hidalgo’s fine example and take legal action against the media corporation whose report seems to meet the criteria of criminal libel against the people of that British city. Perhaps this will start a good trend of governments initiating lawsuits against media companies for instances of reporting false information.

Most of the time libel occurs against one person or a small group of people. When entire cities become the victim of libel by media companies millions of people become harmed, so when the first multi-billion dollar judgment for a Paris or Birmingham comes around there could well be just a few less false reports and a lot more fact-checking by the mainstream media.

What follows is a transcript of Ayatollah Khamenei’s letter followed by a video about it with comments from an Islamic leader in Michigan in America.

In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful.

To the Youth in Europe and North America,

The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.

I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.

I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.

Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.

The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.

By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?

You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.

My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.

I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.

Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?

Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?

I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.

Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.

Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei
21st Jan. 2015

****

(Thank you to PressTV News Videos at YouTube)