NY Times: US used ‘sabotage’ in Iran to ‘keep the protests going’… and that’s ok
by Ramin Mazaheri on 23 Dec 2019 0 Comment

There I was again, flying on the “Job Creators’ Red Eye” from California to New York – first-class, of course – and I was able to catch up with the papers. One column from December 2nd caught my eye, “Sanctions May Have Fueled Iran Protests, but Have Yet to Further U.S. Goals”, from longtime New York Times White House correspondent David Sanger. The analysis focused on Sanger’s confusing declaration/refutation of the role/non-role of the US during the recent protests in Iran.


As a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party’s 3-year Russophobia campaign, I was shocked to see support for Donald Trump in Sanger’s lede paragraph, muted though it was: “Even his most vociferous critics acknowledge that Mr. Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign helped fuel that unrest.”


Now I don’t really understand Iran, but that is mainly due to a phobia of Iran I have inexplicably acquired over the past few decades. This phobia has now turned into a spasmodic physical reaction: whenever there is any problem in the Middle East my left knee immediately jerks forward and out of my mouth uncontrollably exits, “It’s because of Iran!” This happened recently at a Lebanese restaurant when my food was undercooked – it was quite embarrassing.


So, if Sanger says that everyone in Washington agrees that the US fuelled the recent unrest in Iran, then in the name of avoiding future social miscues I will begrudgingly grant Trump this victory against Iran’s peace. However, just a sentence later, Sanger contradicts himself by dubbing as a conspiracy the idea that the US ever helped foment any unrest: “…the Iranian government will press its case that the uprisings are more evidence of a broad American plot to destabilize the government.”


Didn’t Sanger just write that everyone in Washington agrees on this – is more evidence needed than that? Or is it possible that everyone in Washington is right and everyone in Tehran is wrong? Did I just accidentally describe the basis of US foreign policy towards every nation?


All I know is that I keep calling my investment bankers about when we can buy 51% of Iran’s nationalised oil and major industries and he keeps telling me, “Not yet”. I told him “It’s been so long that foreign high finance hasn’t controlled the Iranian economy that we’ll settle for buying a bonyad or two!” My banker didn’t know what that was.


The problem of foreign high finance is not Iranian economic patriotism and anti-capitalist attitudes, but simple geography: we want Iranians in charge of Iran, but we need to get the Iranians in Beverly Hills, California and Washington DC in charge. Sanger knows what I’m talking about: “The government has to crack in the right way, and that is far from assured.” Sanger continues, explaining the best way to get some of the “right” Iranians in charge, and he and I both mean the extreme-right Iranians:


“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ‘Fox & Friends’ on Monday that the United States was supporting the protesters and that ‘we’ve done our best to make sure they can continue to communicate by using the internet….’ He was referring to a quiet American effort, dating back several years, to provide ordinary Iranians with tools to encrypt communications and other ways to communicate without government interference — what the United States calls free speech, and what the Iranian government calls an interference with its cyber-sovereignty.”


Let’s stop the naysayers right away: the US giving spy-level encryption tools to Iranians in order to fuel unrest is not at all similar to fake Russian Facebook pages during the 2016 election – it is far, far worse. Secondly, people going into Iran to teach people how to encrypt communications in order to fuel unrest may sound like something imprisoned Reuters’ journalist trainer Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could have done at one of her “journalism courses”, but all I need to read is “free speech” and that ends this conversation for me, and for Sanger as well.


Sanger continued: “But poking holes in Iran’s digital dragnet is a tactic to keep the protests going, not a strategy for transforming Iran’s behavior. And it runs the risk of playing into the Iranian government’s narrative that American efforts are aimed at regime change rather than a change of behavior — and has echoes of “Operation Ajax,” the C.I.A.’s recently acknowledged role in supporting a coup in the country in the mid-1950s.”


I don’t know why Sanger brings this up because American foreign policy since the mid-1950s has hugely, hugely changed since then – Washington and US high finance would absolutely never support a coup in a foreign country in the 21st century. Poking holes in a digital dragnet to keep protests going is not at all fomenting a coup. To call such US policies “sabotage” or something like that could only be uttered by a Russian sympathiser! “And they may be proved right: It was a mix of sanctions and sabotage that forced Iran to the table seven years ago, leading to the 2015 agreement that Mr. Trump discarded last year.”


Oh, I guess Sanger is calling that “sabotage”, after all? Or did the US commit even worse sabotage seven years ago, and which we have now stopped? Sanger sure got pretty high up despite being so confusing…. Oh well, we’re only talking about Iran – no matter what the West does we can never lose the moral high ground, right? Sanger goes on to suggest that US policy towards Iran is correct: it is normal to use sabotage to create diplomacy.


That seems rather counter-intuitive? Sanger believes this, and I’m willing to believe whatever The New York Times writes of course, but nobody else believes, apparently: “But the far more likely scenario, given the mood in both capitals, he said, was ‘one in which the Iranian regime views the unrest chiefly as a foreign, U.S.-inspired plot and refuses to negotiate from a position of weakness.’”


So now I’m really confused – Pompeo and The New York Times declare that Washington is plotting against Iran and using sabotage, and Iran agrees with that… but Sanger says Iran is wrong to agree with what Washington openly says? I’ll be honest: I’m not really sure what a bonyad is, either.


I went back to the coach section to talk with one of my employees, Fazlollah. “Lefty”, I said (we all call him that because Fazlollah is too hard to pronounce), “has the US been trying to sabotage Iran or not?” He responded: “I think today they are taking the day off – isn’t it a bank holiday?” I would fire Lefty, but then who would figure out the engineering? Certainly not me in first-class.


I went back to my seat full of confusion and existential angst. These are moods which are not shared by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, apparently: “He doesn’t feel existential angst…” Frankly, it’s no wonder the US can’t get along with revolutionary Iranians – their lives aren’t consumed by a nameless anxiety which has no beginning and no ending. Western existential angst is a “universal value”, so we must continue to sabotage Iran until they are as miserably confused as we are!


Nobody has more existential angst than the Israelis, and aren’t they the pinnacle of Western political culture? Imperialism, capitalism, racism, segregation, a great prison industry, global mistrust, neighbours who can’t stand them – I really admire how they have it all. Sanger goes on to describe the shock in Washington produced by Iran’s shutting down of the internet for a few days. “…it prompted all kinds of side effects — including a halt to many kinds of commerce — that only worsened the economic pain.”


No American can imagine any situation when they are without the internet for a few days. Americans might have to stop surfing the internet and deal with their existential angst, and that would be very bad for my pharmaceutical shares. And halting commerce? That is a direct violation of the rights of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whom I support for vice-president alongside billionaire Democrat/Republican/Democrat Michael Bloomberg in 2020. What’s certain is that missing a few days of profits is not worth preserving a popular revolution – how could myself or Sanger be expected to comprehend that type of sacrifice?


So, Sanger admits that Washington has been engaging in sabotage, plotting and funding instability for quite some time – therefore, the fact that the Iranian government still has massive domestic support obviously proves that US policy has failed and is misguided, right? Wrong, Sanger insists in his concluding paragraph: “‘Because of our economic pressure campaign,’ Mr. Hook insisted, ‘the regime has far less money and less time to spend on its ambition to dominate the Middle East.’”


If there’s one thing CEOs across the West cannot accept it is domination of the Middle East by anyone but the West. That black gold is too profitable, and losing it could mean I have to fly coach! Honestly, I don’t see how Iran is dominating the Middle East – isn’t Israel obviously doing a better job of this than Iran?


This was a confusing article – the US is sabotaging Iran (but they are not), and it’s working (but it is not), and such policies are immoral (wait… that was never written). Maybe Sanger’s final point is that the US needs to stop helping Israel dominate the Middle East? Hmmm, I’m surprised such a point of view got past the editors at The New York Times?


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Courtesy The Saker, crossposted with PressTV with permission


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