VIDEO: Hollywoodization of WWII (west is the best nevermind the rest)

http://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday#p/u/25/Wqz4KRoExok

On this edition of Peter Lavelles CrossTalk, he asks his guests about memory and the damage Hollywood does to the historical record.

Iran´s revolution Army labeled terrorism

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Iranian official backs labelling U.S. army, CIA as terrorists

AMERICA THE STUPID (from the inside)


?

http://www.informatics-review.com/FAQ…

http://www.washtimes.com/national/200…

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harr…

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion…

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne…

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/3/…

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/sci…

http://webspace.utexas.edu/cokerwr/ww…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/amer…

http://www.coreknowledge.org

http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci…

Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions

Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US, Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger’s insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses to 10 questions by Iranian academics and intellectuals.

The following is the full text of the letter:

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran, hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country’s political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the truth.

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow Iran’s national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah’s dictatorship?

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran’s proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration’s efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran’s current government to act against the MKO’s main base in Iraq?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

8- Why do America’s closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran’s agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.

Wake Up, America: Iran is Not What You Think

Winston Churchill said, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war,” and one ought to frame Columbia University’s debate in such a context. But the invitation proved to be a cheap and failed ruse, put on by aggressive and skewed observers who once supported cakewalk actions and are now suffering from intellectual bankruptcy.

The opening comments of Lee Bollinger, the president of the University, fell far short of objective debate. The professor tried to hide behind an academic façade to deliver a rehashed version of retail and junk news, in all likelihood courtesy of Google. He allowed himself to comment about capital punishment in Iran, as if the U.S. has no such thing, and went as far as calling the Iranian President a “petty, cruel dictator”. Perhaps Lee Bollinger is still stuck in the Iran of 30 years ago and he confused Ahmedinejad with the Shah, America’s man in Tehran. It was exemplary of how Americans, and American foreign policy, are stuck in the past, and how Americans are resistant to acknowledge just how thick the self-isolation bubble that surrounds them has become.

It was also amazing to see the American Rainman repeat the same questions over and over again. A reporter from CBS’ 60 Minutes asked tough questions in an interview in Tehran, which was broadcast on Sunday and subsequently reported in newspapers and more than 2000 websites. The very next day, the National Press Club members repeated the same questions, and later that day, an academic put the same questions to President Ahmedinejad a third time. Somehow, the CBS reporter, the National Press Club and the professor did not recall that it is their treasure and blood that funds Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the death and destruction of Iraq. (They are probably too busy congratulating themselves on their massive foreign aid of US$20 per Palestinian!).

These self-elected thinkers and news producers are stuck in a box of rehashed propaganda and have no mind for an objective debate. When was the last time that you read a report that compares Iran, and Iranians, with regional countries in the same league? Has anyone asked whether Iranian women are better off than their Saudi neighbours? Or how many elections were held in Iran prior to the Revolution? Has anyone taken the time to observe that the Iran of today has made tangible progress when compared with the Iran of 30 years ago – when it imported more than half of its food and all of its cars, pharmaceuticals and military hardware? And why is it that the United States can prosecute its own citizens as “enemy combatants” but Iran should not confront agitators that are funded by foreigners?

Americans must realize that it is time to accept Iran as it is today, and not as they daydream it to be, as some sort of a retro-1950s creampuff headed by a brutal puppet. Such realization must also extend to universal application of international law, and to the naked truth that isolation methods have failed. Americans must also take note that their foreign policy extends beyond the interests of a small country in the Middle East that has less than half the population of Tehran.

Is it finally time to engage in a proper, cool-headed and objective debate? Have isolationist daydream policies worked in Cuba? What was achieved, or lost, by not talking to Fidel Castro? Have militarist endeavours in Iraq produced a western-style, liberal and open democracy anywhere else in the Middle East, or are they still run by “petty, cruel” regimes?

This atmosphere, and the amateurish psychological pressure of foreign lobbies piled on the American bubble lead me to Churchill’s description of the USSR: this situation appears to be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, concealed in an enigma. That is probably the best description of the mindset of contemporary America in this global village.

Ref: PostGlobal, by Dr. Ali Ettefagh

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East

War on Words – (Mis)labeling isn’t an exclusively Iranian prerogative

Less than a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left a bemused and scornful audience at Columbia University, Iran’s parliament voted by a margin of 215 to declare the “aggressor U.S. army and the Central Intelligence Agency…terrorists [who] nurture terror.” Their reasoning might seem dubious—apparently based on the U.S.’s decision to drop atomic bombs 60 years ago—but the vote provides a unique opportunity for American introspection.

The Iranian parliament’s resolution uses the word “terrorist” rather liberally and, given conventional definitions, incorrectly. But U.S. lawmakers should think twice about condemning this propagandist political move. The American government, in conducting its “war on terror” is no stranger to semantic sleights of hand, displaying a tendency to label (or mislabel) just as egregiously as the Iranian parliament.

The Iranian action is a clear response to the US Congress’s recent resolution labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) a “foreign terrorist organization.” Supposedly, Iran’s longstanding support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and its current support for Iraqi insurgents justifies the “T” word. But this argument has many problems, including inaccuracy and meaninglessness.

First of all, calling a state instrument, specifically the recognized army of a legitimate state, a terrorist organization akin to Al Qaeda or Hezbollah goes against the conventional understanding of what a terrorist organization is. We might as well say that the entire state of Iran is a terrorist organization. While this might please some interests and provide a symbolic slap in the face to Iran’s government, it would be ignorant. The army, just like the state, may have some components that support other terrorist organizations (such as training Hezbollah), but this does not mean the entire armed forces are terrorists.

So the declaration is meaningless, especially since it is only a non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution, which cannot officially influence the president’s foreign policy. The move is generally recognized as symbolic posturing designed to aggravate relations. It also reduces the meaning of the word “terrorism” from actions characterized by their deliberate use of civilian death and terror to further a goal, to a nasty word used to describe those we don’t like.

But this is more than just an argument over semantics. Under Executive Order 13224, the U.S. government can disrupt financial assets of any terrorist organization. Conducting such acts against a sovereign state is essentially an act of war. Labeling the IRG in such a way is potentially tantamount to imposing clandestine unilateral sanctions on Iran using a legal loophole.

And this isn’t the first time the U.S. has engaged in linguistic gymnastics. Perhaps the best known case of disingenuous mislabeling in the “war on terror” is the now-famous term “enemy combatant.” This term has existed since at least World War II, used generally to describe non-uniformed enemy personnel such as spies. With the invasion of Afghanistan, the term was broadened to include those who supported Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and it now seems to include potentially any person picked up by the army during operations. Such labeling allows for the skirting of the Third Geneva Convention, which deals with prisoners of war. Even the Supreme Court has not offered a great deal of clarity on this issue, deciding in 2004 that detaining without trial at Guantánamo was legal, and deciding in 2006 that, in fact, special executive tribunals violated the Geneva Convention. The government’s mislabeling amounts to a deliberate attempt to create legal ambiguity and a screen for the army’s actions.

This irresponsible rhetoric has real harms, for individuals and for international relations. It shouldn’t be a surprise when countries the United States calls “evil” respond in kind with similar posturing and ridiculous assertions. While the Iranian government’s logic is seriously flawed, it’s less easy to dismiss if we consider our own government’s inaccurate name-calling. This mutually disingenuous verbal battle only increases enmity and tension between nations. Before criticizing Iran, even if such criticism is deserved and accurate, we should examine our own misappropriation of language.

Ref: The Harward Crimson, by Shai D. Bronshtein

Shai D. Bronshtein ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a social studies concentrator in Lowell House.

Debating Ahmadinejad at Columbia

A tall man with white hair, wearing a US-flag print shirt and pants, patrolled the sidewalk at 116th and Broadway. He waved a huge American flag as he marched, in movements that were nearly metronomic in their consistency. Stacks of brochures sat on a bare and rickety table, waiting to be handed out to anyone who didn’t look away quickly enough. Bystanders stared.

I hadn’t been back to my former school almost since I graduated. Returning as an alumna of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the school that sponsored Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s talk here on Monday, I felt the puff of pride that Columbia had not backed down in the face of media pressure. I also felt just a little bit cheated that it was happening now, when I was attending as an outsider, rather than the first time his talk had been announced, in 2006, when I was still a sleep-deprived student.

The police officers stationed in and around the university, beginning at the platform of the subway that I had taken to get there, looked at everyone suspiciously. Women in dark, severe suits monitored the entry of the press, taking signatures and examining credentials. Everywhere, people in uniforms directed the human traffic and at certain entrances demanded identification. Fliers lined the walkway to the main quadrangle and littered the brick paths. Students milled around the campus, talking excitedly in tight groups or listening to the speakers outside Low Library. Homemade placards offered silent counterpoint to some of the speeches delivered at the podium. “Ahmadinejad Is not Iran Just Like Bush Is not America,” said one. “We Say No to War on Iran,” proclaimed another. And a third, my favorite, in black paint on a wood sheet: “Free Speech for All, Even Douche Bags.”

Debating Ahmadinejad at Columbia

Jayati Vora

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A tall man with white hair, wearing a US-flag print shirt and pants, patrolled the sidewalk at 116th and Broadway. He waved a huge American flag as he marched, in movements that were nearly metronomic in their consistency. Stacks of brochures sat on a bare and rickety table, waiting to be handed out to anyone who didn’t look away quickly enough. Bystanders stared.

I hadn’t been back to my former school almost since I graduated. Returning as an alumna of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the school that sponsored Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s talk here on Monday, I felt the puff of pride that Columbia had not backed down in the face of media pressure. I also felt just a little bit cheated that it was happening now, when I was attending as an outsider, rather than the first time his talk had been announced, in 2006, when I was still a sleep-deprived student.

The police officers stationed in and around the university, beginning at the platform of the subway that I had taken to get there, looked at everyone suspiciously. Women in dark, severe suits monitored the entry of the press, taking signatures and examining credentials. Everywhere, people in uniforms directed the human traffic and at certain entrances demanded identification. Fliers lined the walkway to the main quadrangle and littered the brick paths. Students milled around the campus, talking excitedly in tight groups or listening to the speakers outside Low Library. Homemade placards offered silent counterpoint to some of the speeches delivered at the podium. “Ahmadinejad Is not Iran Just Like Bush Is not America,” said one. “We Say No to War on Iran,” proclaimed another. And a third, my favorite, in black paint on a wood sheet: “Free Speech for All, Even Douche Bags.”

Representatives of various organizations were eloquent in their denunciation of Ahmadinejad’s professed views on Israel and the treatment of women and homosexuals in Iran, yet many supported his right to speak at the university. Many declared that they had never felt prouder to be associated with Columbia. Some said that they had never felt more ashamed.

Matteen Mokalla, an Iranian-American student at SIPA studying the Middle East, spoke of the mood on campus. “Before the talk, the entire campus was electrified,” he said. “Everybody was talking about it. When we were standing in line, we joked, ‘Is this the line for the Rolling Stones?’ Because it felt like that.”

But that pride and excitement was tarnished by the opening remarks of Columbia President Lee Bollinger. In his statement, combative and unduly vicious, Bollinger accused his invited guest of being nothing more than a “petty and cruel dictator,” of having a “fanatical mindset.” He claimed that this exercise was valuable in knowing one’s enemies and understanding “the mind of evil.”

These words were prefaced by his describing the invitation to Ahmadinejad as the “right thing to do.” As abhorrent as Bollinger’s parroting of Bushisms is, the invite was the right thing to do. Not because the Iranian president has a right to share some of his more odious views but because of “our right to listen. We do it for ourselves.”

But where were all these references to freedom of speech just last year, when Bollinger first endorsed, then rescinded, the SIPA invitation to Ahmadinejad? Then-SIPA dean Lisa Anderson had invited the Iranian leader to give a lecture. Bollinger has claimed that the invitation was taken back because he wasn’t sure that the exchange would reflect the “academic values” that the platform stood for. He also called Ahmadinejad’s views “repugnant.” Campus gossip, however, put the reason as outside pressure. What else could it have been, the whispers went, when the university president at first endorsed Dean Anderson’s invite but backed off the next day?

That’s why it was all the more disappointing when students showed up to hear their president uphold all the values of free speech in the face of withering media criticism–only to hear him stoop to name-calling.

“Bollinger’s remarks were uncalled for,” said Julie Payne, a second-year SIPA student and co-editor of SIPA’s student newspaper, Communique. “There was no need for a fifteen-minute tirade, nor for using some of the adjectives he did. Everyone disagrees with [Ahmadinejad’s] rhetoric, but debate shouldn’t be so debased by using that language.” Bollinger’s opening remarks changed the nature of the discussion at Columbia. After the talk, said Mokalla, “the discussion was not about Ahmadinejad at all. Bollinger was outrageous. If he feels this way about him, why invite this man? Twenty of us were talking about it for two hours afterward. It was a bit embarrassing because he sounded like President Bush or like a neoconservative ideologue.”

Bollinger’s comments were radically different from other introductions he has given in the course of the World Leaders Forum, an annual cluster of talks hosted by Columbia, where visiting heads of state are invited to address students on campus.

I remember attending a similar lecture two years ago, in the fall of 2005, in my first semester as a SIPA student. It was a talk by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a leader closer to my home country. As one of many Indian students at the event, I burned with questions I was dying to pose about democracy, women’s rights and peace with India.

Then, as yesterday, we arrived more than an hour in advance. On each of our seats was a pamphlet with a brief history of the leader. I was astonished to find that, according to his biography, Musharraf “assumed the office of chief executive of Pakistan in October 1999.” There was no mention of the coup through which Musharraf seized power. Not once did Bollinger refer to the military man, who had overthrown the elected government and then refused to hold elections as promised, as a dictator–a word he seemed to have no problem using to describe Ahmadinejad. The question of how Musharraf “assumed office” was delicately avoided, a diplomatic skill that has clearly been forgotten in these two intervening years. No one seemed curious to know how Musharraf’s rhetoric about democracy fit in with his continued reign as a dictator–at least, no one with access to a mike.

Neither Bollinger nor the press has been so forgiving of Ahmadinejad. He has been attacked in all quarters–from the front pages of New York’s daily newspapers to the sidewalks outside Columbia’s main gates to the podium where he was invited to speak. He has been called “thug,” “madman,” “tyrant,” “dictator” and more. And in this volley of words, an important opportunity was lost.

Sitting with a bunch of his Iranian friends on the lawn with the thousands who couldn’t get into the lecture hall, Bill Berkeley professed himself disappointed with the direction of the debate. An adjunct professor at Columbia’s School of Journalism, Berkeley is the author of a book on Rwanda and is currently at work on another on Iran. “I didn’t feel the discussion moved forward,” he said.

For in the melee of questions about the Holocaust and wiping Israel off the map, Ahmadinejad got off with mouthing generalities about loving all nations and admitting that the Holocaust had indeed taken place. (“Given that the Holocaust is a present reality of our time,” said the Iranian president, “we should have research to approach this from different perspectives.”) He got a free pass on issues that many Iranians would have liked to see raised, such as women’s rights, homosexuality (according to Ahmadinejad, homosexuals simply do not exist in Iran) and the misdeeds of the Revolutionary Guard.

Iranian SIPA student Hani Mansourian knows what his question would have been. “I would have asked him, ‘If you support a referendum in Palestine, and if you say that women are free in Iran, why don’t you hold a referendum in Iran and ask women whether they want to wear the hijab or not?'” For all his evasion of questions posed to him, on some points Ahmadinejad was eloquent and passionate. His support for the Palestinian people dominated the speech. “For sixty years, these people are being killed. For sixty years, on a daily basis, there’s conflict and terror. For sixty years, innocent women and children are destroyed and killed by helicopters and airplanes that break the house over their heads.”

He was persuasive when it came to Iran’s nuclear policy. Recalling the after-effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he asked, “What can a perpetual nuclear umbrella threat achieve for the sake of humanity?”

In this face-off between Bollinger’s prefacing remarks and Ahmadinejad’s speech, the university president “made Ahmadinejad look the winner,” said Mansourian, “and that’s not what I wanted.” The Iranian, like the rest of us, wanted a real debate, one in which Bollinger would practice what he had preached the previous year in a campus-wide e-mail to students.

“In a society committed to free speech,” it had said, “there will inevitably be times when speakers use words that anger, provoke, and even cause pain. Then, more than ever, we are called on to maintain our courage to confront bad words with better words.”

Sadly, what Bollinger had in his arsenal were not better words but Bush’s words.

Ref: the Nation

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