Mysteries from the week’s news

1. Why on earth would you think that you needed a gadget so badly that you would stand in line for it? I saw people waiting in a line that went around the corner of the block for the iPhone 3G S this past Friday, on Burlingame avenue, which usually is basically deserted at 8 am on a Friday. (Granted, the Apple Store is on the corner.)

People waiting for the iphone in New York

People waiting for the new iPhone in New York

2. Why do so many republicans in Congress and other conservatives think that Obama should take a firmer stance on Iran? Obama has already urged Iran’s government to stop violence against protesters, but has said,

“The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States…. We shouldn’t be playing into that.”

It’s good that Europe, the UN, etc are able to be more outspoken, since they have stronger relations with Iran and are generally not considered the main enemy. But it’s clear why it’s less easy for Obama to be outspoken, though he did step up the rhetoric today. (I like that he thinks first, then speaks, and revises.) It’s likely that further moves by the US to support the opposition would undermine the opposition’s legitimacy within Iran and the larger Middle East.

It would be a huge bummer if, because of the US’s explicit support, any social or political change in Iran was sullied by the implication that it was not fully homegrown. Strong US involvement would also make it easier for Iran to deal harshly with or expel Western observers. Along with the often-cited current nuclear-related reasons for Obama’s relative lack of force toward Iran, it’s important to consider the US’s history of  interference with Iran – especially the 1953 CIA-propelled coup of Mossadegh. It’s especially unfortunate that these operations were covert, because now it’s always easy to say, “The US doesn’t seem involved because its actions are covert.”

An AP article notes:

At Friday prayers, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Western countries of blatant interference, singling out Britain as “the most evil among them.”

“It’s interesting that the U.K. is being targeted, not the U.S.,” said O’Donnell. “The Iranian regime doesn’t want to close off that avenue completely, and it’s easier to portray the U.K. as the problem because at the end of the day they know the real country they need to deal with is the U.S.”

This especial bitterness toward the UK makes sense given that, among other things, Britain’s MI5 cooperated with the CIA in Mossadegh’s overthrow.

Propaganda journalism from MI5 and the CIA was important in toppling Mossadegh. Now, it’s not surprising that Iran is accusing Western journalists of trying to destroy the country’s stability. If it seems that such past history doesn’t play a large role in current Iranian-US relations, remember that the Iranian hostage crisis took place 26 years after the Operation Ajax, yet a hostage-taker told a hostage, “You have no right to complain, because you took our whole country hostage in 1953,” while many revolutionaries at the time feared another US-backed coup.

There is probably some approval-rating pragmatism involved in Obama’s relative reticence, since he made campaign promises to have nice talks with Iran. But it’s also common sense – don’t give the country with nuclear ambitions that has over fifty-year-old grievances against you an excuse to be pissed off at you. Don’t compromise the image of democracy by preaching democracy.

Maybe conservatives do realize the risks of Obama becoming more vocal. After all, we know that some conservatives want Obama to fail. More likely, however, the actual fates of other countries continue to be less important to some than the rhetoric of our own.

3. King Tut is coming to San Francisco again! My point of confusion here isn’t actually directly related to this news. But it got me thinking about something that we watched in my US and World Affairs history class last fall:

in light of a previous post of mine.

Can one be accused of “politically incorrectness” against cultures that no longer exist? 🙂

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3 Comments on “Mysteries from the week’s news”

    • breadriot Says:

      He makes it sound pretty simple – I think he over-weighs the importance of oil in the USSR’s collapse – but his proposal makes a lot of sense to me. Anything that works on both an IR and environmental level is awesome 🙂

  1. […] Original post by breadriot […]

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