Reza Aslan to US: Leave Us Alone

This is a recent clip from CNN where Reza Aslan schools Alexander Benard on whether or not Barack Obama should be more outspoken about the current situation in Iran. Sometimes, I’m amazed that people like Alexander Benard can appear on television. Earlier in the clip, you see John McCain expressing his support for the Iranian protesters and acting like the Iranian people respect him. This is the same man who was singing “Bomb Iran” during his presidential campaign! Does he really think that people will forget that?

Alexander Benard states that the President of the United States speaks on behalf of the world. Says who? Did American Presidents all of a sudden become Presidents of the world? Isn’t this reinforcing the notion that America is a bully nation that goes around policing other states? The US has no credibility in Iran anymore; the people don’t forget the CIA-backed coup in 1953 when a democratically-elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossedegh, was ousted for the sake of re-installing the pro-western Shah. The Shah’s dictatorship only led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeni and the subsequent Islamic revolution. And we all know in recent times how the Bush administration has been very hostile towards the current regime in Iran.

People like Alexander Benard need to get over their western savior complex and pay attention for once. I’m glad Reza Aslan shut him down and schooled him on a country that Benard doesn’t know anything about. All one needs to do is use their common sense: If the United States mingles with this situation, Ahmadinejad will use it to his advantage and it’s going to get very ugly. Look at Pakistan, for example. The Taliban invasion of Pakistan is retaliatory to the Pakistani military, which was forced into the region by the US. The Taliban accuse the Pakistani government (and anyone else who doesn’t agree with their radical ideology) of being complicit with the war crimes of the US. Ahmadinejad will do the same thing if the US interferes; he will associate Mousavi with the west and it will seriously create potential for increased violence.

I’m really fed up with these groups who suddenly “care” about Iran, when only a few months ago, they were pounding the war drum against them. I don’t understand how they can shamelessly appear on television and have the “guts” to talk about Iran. I heartily agree with Aslan. This is something that needs to be left to the Iranian people.

15 thoughts on “Reza Aslan to US: Leave Us Alone

  1. Great clip and post. Reza Aslan certainly holds the better view, position, and argument in my opinion, especially after he stated that Obama should speak out more forcefully against the violence being perpetrated against he protestors.
    Bernard used the typical lawyers’ trick of dismissing qualifications that outweigh his own.

    From another perspective, Robert Fisk has been doing a daily column on Iran since June 14 and has some excellent points as well. The man knows his way around the Middle East and as a foreign correspondent has years of reporting on similar events. Some columns are accompanied by photos that reveal the level of violence since almost the beginning, or as he says they go for the head and the testicles (when not shooting in the chest as one bloodied man’s body shows).

  2. I guess if we want to continue allowing Iran’s government to engage in state terrorism- silence would be best.

    If we care about human rights- then its probably best we speak up.

    1. Steven,

      If you want to talk about state terrorism, all you need to do is look at the Bush administration within the last 8 years. Don’t forget about the people who died at the hands of US bombs and invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Don’t forget about the prisoners being tortured in Guantanamo Bay. Did the Bush administration “care about human rights” then?

      As I mentioned in my post (and I was just reiterating what Reza Aslan says in the clip), if the US interferes, it’s going to make the situation worse. Ahmadinejad will associate the Mousavi supporters with the West and that will only generate more antagonism. I already mentioned Pakistan and the coup of 1953 in my post to point out how western intervention can have disastrous consequences. People need to learn from their history; not make the same mistakes again.

      If the US really cares about the Iranian people, it’s best for them to stay out of it. The US has NO CREDIBILITY IN IRAN WHATSOEVER.

      1. If you want to speak out against state terrorism- you ought to start with the terrorism in Iraq that Bush has fought to help end.

        And the war in Afghanastain?? If a group of terrorists sheltered by a government murdered 3,000 of your citiznes I would hope that you would be fight back.

        You know as well as I do that many of those dying in Iraq and Afghanastain are because of the mujahideen who seem to have a thing for murdering their own people. If you are blaming it on bush you are either ignorant or lying.

        Just the same, the issue is Iran which is a nation that has recently mrudered a 17 year old girl. I would like to direct you to a quote by Elie Wiesel, a man who was in a Nazi Concentration Camp

        “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”- Elie Wiesel

        If we continue to be silent while Iran engages in state terrorism- we will only be helping the terrorists. We need to state up to Iran’s tyranny and tell their government that we as the American people do not tolerate their evil ways.

      2. Steven,

        You should be informed that the majority of Muslims, Afghanis, Palestinians, Iranians, and Pakistanis are not very fond of George W. Bush. Our community was strongly opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from the very start. After 9/11, Bush bombed the hell out of Afghanistan in an effort to locate Osama bin Laden. Did they ever find him? No.

        Then Bush went after Iraq. Why? None of the hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were from Iraq, but Bush went ahead and bombed the country anyway. Now, thousands of people have died, including American soldiers. The violence in Afghanistan only created more antagonism towards the United States and it radicalized people even more. Similarly, the war in Iraq only increased anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world. If you kill someone’s family, you don’t think they’re going to fight back? If someone invaded YOUR home and started shooting up people that you Loved, aren’t you going to resist? But we label these resistors “terrorists” because that’s what happens in war: you vilify the opposition. You degrade them into something that is not even human.

        I don’t know how you can accuse me of being a “liar” or “ignorant” when I point out that innocent people died in the Iraq war and it’s absurd that you blame this all on the “mujahideen.” When US soldiers and bombs kill Iraqis in THEIR OWN COUNTRY, there is going to be a resistance. Violence begets violence. Nothing happens in a vacuum; the insurgents didn’t come from nowhere.

        Iranians don’t want the United States to interfere in their own affairs at all. People like Bush were pounding the war drum against Iran and now you’re expecting for the Iranians to trust America? Look at how many Iraqi and Afghans have been killed in the name of “democracy.” Muslims are fed up with it; it’s time for a new strategy. You seem so self-absorbed in your self-righteous western-centric attitude that you don’t even listen to what I’m saying: Ahmadinejad will use US interference to his advantage and it’s going to INCREASE MORE VIOLENCE. What part of that do you not understand? Do you want there to be a civil war in Iran? Do you want people to kill each other? It’s very easy for you to say because you just sit at your computer and make assessments based on your limited knowledge about the Muslim world.

  3. America should observe how China deals with other countries’ affairs:

    And don’t tell me (hypothetical you, not you Mast Qalander :)that America has a “moral” obligation to stand up for human rights because after the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, torture of detainees, and corrupt nature of “reconstructing” those countries alot of people realize America is BS’ing about its “concern” for human rights.

    1. America has a moral obligation to stand up for human rights. Even if mistakes were made in the past, we ought to still hold ourselves to the highest standards.

      Keep in mind, we do have better record than China- the country that continues to buy oil and therefore fund the genocide of black muslims in Darfur.

      1. I repeat again, like a broken record, America has no credibility whatsoever in the Muslim world right now, especially in Iran. If you supported Bush, then you were probably supported a war against Iran . The very same people that you pretend to “care” about are the same people who you would have bombed if everything went the way Bush planned.

        That’s why Iranians don’t want help from the U.S. They know how their neighbors were bombed and invaded, and they know how the US threatened them with war. It’s time for a new strategy.

        America will just make matters worse if they get involved. You seem to want things to get very ugly.

  4. I never said by the way that we should go in gun’s blazing. We should, however, issue a statement speaking out against Iran’s state terrorism and should proceed to continue to get stricter sanctions against their government for their evil, murderous, ways.

    No state of people, muslim or nonmuslim, should have to be in a constant fear that their government will murder them.

    I will never forget Iran’s state terrorism from the murder of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadin Journalist to Neda. Muslims deserve more- they deserve to live in a state that does not murder them.

  5. The murder of Zahra Kazemi, and worse its coverup, were indeed horrific, and pointless.

    I have read in more than one reliable source that Afghanistan, pre-war, offered to give over Osama bin Laden, but only to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. In fact, since bin Laden was at the time suspected of organizing and ordering the international crime that was 9/11, this in my opinion would have been the best option.

    Instead the Bush Administration chose a war. This was for 3 reasons in my view: 1) they saw an opportunity to increase their power in the region; 2) they saw a way to profit from the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline; 3) the US has not signed on to the International Criminal Court, as it prefers to “go it alone”, and to spare Kissinger et al. trials for crimes against humanity.

    In the case of Iran, it seems clear that the Iranian protest movement prefers the White House to stay out of it, while valuing the support of international humanitarian organizations, the media. and Iranians abroad.

  6. Iraq war casualties especially civilian are sorely underestimated, yet top public health researchers at Johns Hopkins have put them at 665,000 by Oct 2004 (most civilians). Others also have high, though not so high figures. Esteemed medical journals like the Lancet, and the British Medical Journal have pubished compelling articles and others have also done body counts in the morgues to report on the “unreported” casualties of war. Bush of course dismissed them all, and a deliberate strategy of not reporting body counts nor showing casualties on TV was adopted so as to avoid the type of revolt that Vietnam caused.

    The Johns Hopkins Study published in the Lancet:
    The Lancet, Volume 364, Issue 9448, Pages 1857 – 1864, 20 November 2004
    Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey

    Wiki overview of casualty studies

    Insightful articles on the topic

    The BMJ call for accurate casualty reports
    Editorial Counting the dead in Iraq BMJ 2005;330:550-551 (12 March) A call for accurate casualty reports by the British physicians; in their “rapid responses” the Italian and Spanish public health institutes do the same.

    In short, war is hell, and shouldn’t be started on a cowboy, oil-grab, hot-headed “whim”–especially where other solutions are obviously available and effective, even for “human rights”.

    I think with all that linking I am about to go off to cyberspace LOL 🙂

  7. Mast Qalander–have you read this article? It is an interesting perspective:

    Iran’s Show Trial and Me
    by Abbas Milani

    Abbas Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, where he is the co-director of the Iran Democracy Project. His latest book is Eminent Persian: The Men and Women who Made Modern Iran, 1941-1979 (Syracuse University Press).

  8. This is a very old post, but I’d like to weigh in on Reza Aslans views. I read his No god but God, and was enthralled by it. It was an amazing read.

    However, more recently, he said things about fgm that are incorrect at best, and implicitly anti-black racist at best. He shrugged it of as a “central African problem”, whereas it barely happens in Central Africa. It happens in West-Africa, all the way through the Sahel to Somalia, Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt. It also happens in parts of the Arabian peninsula, parts of Pakistan, parts of Kurdistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and parts of Latin America (I thought it was Colombia).

    And by calling it a Central African problem, or an African problem, he also acts as though Islam and Africans are two seperate cathegories, whilst 75% of Africa is Islamic, and there is a Muslim community in Central Africa, who are massacred by Christian brigands as we speak.

    And Burkina Faso made tremendous steps in eradicating FGM, especially after Ousmane Sembenes masterpiece Moolaadé (“Protection” in one of the languages spoken in Burkina)

    So, because of that, I’m no longer a fan. Alas.

    1. Wow! This IS a really old post! I completely forgot that I wrote this. Yeah, I cannot say that I’m a fan of his either. I remember the anti-black remark he made. I mentioned it in my post here:

      You’re right, he talks as if Islam and Africans are separate, essentially erasing African Muslims. There are other issues I have with him (which I won’t delve into here), but I also feel like he talks down to Muslims.

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