There was music in the cafes at night And revolution in the air

Secretary Wolfowitz, would you explain your plan for rhetorical 'shock and awe' again, please?

Mousavi’s latest statement released today. Here’s what we gleaned listening to cable experts Saturday:

PHOTOGENIC TELEPROMPTER READER: Welcome back Iranian Expert, Senior Scholar at Center for Study of Analysis and best-selling author of “Facebook for Dummies, Farsi Edition.” Yesterday, we spoke and you said that after the Supreme Leader’s speech in Tehran, the situation in your opinion is fluid and unpredictable. Given the partial images of, uh, oh here comes the clip, the, uh, well there you can see the images we have of demonstrations and possible bloodshed, what is your view of the future now?

IRANIAN EXPERT: Well, Photogenic, today’s developments certainly heighten the risks for both the Supreme Leader and the demonstrators.

PHOTOGENIC: Your professional opinion that we are in a ‘heightened’ state is compelling. What can we expect in the days ahead?

IRANIAN EXPERT: It’s hard to say. On the one hand, the demonstrators could loose resolve in the face of the regime’s demonstration of power. Or the demonstrators could take heart and continue to challenge the regime itself, not just the elections.

PHOTOGENIC: So you’re advising our viewers that the situation is fluid and unpredictable.

IRANIAN EXPERT: Yes, exactly right, Photogenic. You summed it up perfectly.

PHOTOGENIC {smiling at compliment}: Thank you, Iranian Expert, for your expertise and sharing your time with us, today. We will be calling on your insights often in the days ahead I am sure.

{TURN to camera 4; BREAKS OUT high beam smile} Now, coming up, Jon & Kate issue a statement addressed to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Citing their already stressful situation and the good of their eight children, they call for restraint . . . .

Oh, tell us we’re wrong.


  1. kulic says

    Moon over Alabama says maybe Moussavi is CIA. So does Engdahl(what is the deal with Engdahl?). Who are these people? Why did no one tell me!?

    Dear Tblisi:
    I thought long and hard about that question even before you posted it. I don’t know. I think it must be some kind of mental bloc, but there may be more too it. I realize objectively that they put together some amazing sounds. I respect very much all of the persons of the band. Mick Jones has been working on some stuff recently and has a website of it. It looks and sounds good. I have no beef really at present, I was just recalling something I would have said 15 years ago when I was actually into the music, and finding things to hate on was compulsory. It’s just this kind of earnest dippy sounding ska rythm, which I can dig now but at the time I would have wanted to take a chainsaw to. Which is actually what Cobain’s guitars sounded like on In Utero, provided the mushrooms were good. It sounded like he was playing the piano with a chainsaw. Fantastic sense of humor. But yeah the Clash is good. Just BSing…

  2. Tbilisi says

    Kulic: Please indulge me and explain why you can’t stand the Clash? I just find that statement odd from anyone other than a codger (old or young).

    “Can’t stand” is far beyond differences in taste, and implies that you object to something significant that they did or that they represent. As a fan of the Clash and Joe Strummer especially (and a foe of their ex post facto consumer-focused neutering), I’m really quite curious what your beef is.

  3. kulic says

    …(they say) it says a lot (not so good) about a swaggering bully what that only wants to fight a down-syndrome case in a wheelchair. Does this apply to nation-state scale as well? Our neo-cons?
    Classical realPolitik would have none of this idle talk. Stick to brass tacks says Henry. None of these geneological deep esthetic valuations. It’s all about resources and the zero-sum squabble for them. But I’ve always had an aversion for crass and clumsy models which tend to present operational paradigms from which have been amputated the most relevant factors in the mix; to wit, those which are called ‘intangible’ (we’ll throw these out, out of our model, they are merely esthetic considerations). The key is that these are subtle factors. There are no intangibles. A subtle factor is one that a social scientist would bring up. ‘Intelligence’ Social science is a mess, so it’s considered intangible and ignored in the realPolitik operational calculus. Oil, gas, those are tangible. Well, they are tangible because engineering as an intellectual discipline is not a total mess. But there is nothing intrinsically intangible about the factor ‘intelligence’. It’s more mighty than the sword, etc… Maybe call it subtle. Indication: A more advanced and comprehensive realPolitik operational calculus. Call it realPolitik3.0. Precursor: A social science that isn’t a mess. If you follow thus far(not your fault if you don’t, mine all mine) come with me a little more: I’m working in two countervaling directions at once. On the one hand, we have a global rubric of operations vs. esthetics (kind of like Science vs Art/Philosophy) and we are trying to reduce esthetics into a non-dualistic paradigm of pure operational consideration, assimilating these former ‘intangibles’ into tangible, quantifiable objects. But at the other end of the spectrum (already seen the irreducibilty horizon) I’m the punk watching Deleuze watching Nietzsche, Nietzsche who is in sublime fulmination against all Utilitarians and Rationalists, Nietzsche and then Deleuze defending art/philosophy from me and Henry’s tyranical operational science. What to do? What to do? Ends are not reducible to means are they? All ends are esthetic. There is, in the end, only esthetics, at the end. But… after the fact, one can always reformulate the esthetic ends into terms which are operational in character. I want Moussavi to win. All things equal, I would prefer to have an adversary who is beautiful, evil, profound, compelling… instead of one which is merely a sad reflection of my own nation’s worst and most diseased and pathetic expressions. Call that an esthetic consideration. Now, are all things equal? In other words, I want to ask, are there in this situation gross operational considerations which must of necessity outweigh this apparently frivolous personal feeling? If there is say some kind of calculation which shows that the USA has under this scenario much degraded access to mineral resources in the time-frame 2020-2060 (which is given some kind of score on the final calc tally spreadsheet x_n = -100) then clearly this outweighs any personal feeling. But the apparently frivolous esthetic consideration is also an operational consideration, provided that the operational calculus is sufficiently advanced. For example, we know that on a personal level that a human being challenged by a high performing rival will herself/himself be driven to perform higher, will be forced to find access to unrealized internal creative resources, etc etc. (Nietzschean psych 101)… Surely this carries to the global scale. “Extrapolate, bitches!” … So. Ends and means and the adventure of being. Of being a nation or of being an individual sapient critter. That holy instinct of play & chance.
    Challenges in the short run? My hypothetical time-frame for Moussavi’s agenda to bear fruit was really generational. The agenda described is really civilizational, although it’s true there are some plays and adjustments he could make right away that would change the layout of the field considerably, the transformation of Iran into a major socio-political powerhouse would take 10-20 years. But yeah, a lot of things would obviously change in like 2 years.
    …I’m getting incoherent so should shut up but one or two other things occuring here. One is, this entire conversation running under heuristics/assumptions developed over the last 200 years in statecraft, lore, praxis. Many of the underlying assumptions no longer valid, or very soon to be obsolete. As such, …,
    It may not really affect USA mineral aquisition coefficients much whatever Iran’s internal political situation is, in which case a lot of the punditry is just a sham. Iterating: In the time frame 2020-2060 it may not affect USA industrial/economic options much whatever USA mineral acquisition coefficients look like. Etc…

    final proposition: Endgame scenario considerations are pure esthetics, but sometimes maybe not.

  4. Comment says

    That sounds pretty good – and it makes sense. It jibes with what we have been told by people who served in Iran in the 70s and still have an idea about the nation and the people.
    IMHO – Ahmadinejad’s Iran is a stupid and weakly country ruled by hearts and intuition. It makes sense that many of the neocons (Dave Pipes openly) make the Nixonian calculation that he is the rival they want in power.
    There is a cruel logic to that – but it seems short sighted and immoral to want to wish weakness on an entire people. A strong and liberal and vibrant Iran will present short term challanges – but overall it will correct itself and seek to find balance in the world to our benefit,

  5. kulic says

    This situation in Iran seems to me highly reflective of the situation in my own country, (the USA), in several important ways.
    Not in terms of specific personalities, but in terms of the disposition of the population at large, there are some glaring parallels.
    First of all, keep in mind what many have pointed out, which is that Moussavi is a committed Iranian nationalist who will endeavor as assiduously as any other to further Iran’s regional and geostrategic interests. What this implies is that he will be at least as implacable an adversary of US/Israeli/IMF interests/agendas as anyone else, perhaps even more so, for reasons outlined as follows: The key to Moussavi’s agenda is that he wishes to liberalize Iran’s domestic sphere, to liberate it from the oppressive elements of the theocracy. My conjectural take on Moussavi’s sense of things is as follows: From 1950-2000 Iran was under dire existential threat from the Anglo-American forces; under such conditions a militarization and radicalization of society was to some degree inevitible and necessary. However, increasingly after 1990, it has become clear that Iran has succeeded admirably at securing its socio-political centers of power from the kind of foreign influences which characterized the coup and the regime of the Shah. Since a liberal society is overall a more powerful and productive society, Moussavi realizes that now is the time –it is safe– to liberalize Iranian society to some degree, whilst maintaining as much as possible a membrane defence and immunity against aforementioned influences/pathogens. Moussavi wants a strong, liberal Iran. Well, still an Islamic country by and large. But to some degree one which embraces a kind of modern pluralism. My own guess (could be wrong!) is that this position constitutes for him a long-term geostrategic calculation; he thinks that this is the course that will make Iran more powerful and dynamic.
    My comparison: His enemies are akin to the religious-right and authoritarian elements in the USA. This is actually a pretty weak comparison for a lot of reasons I guess, but the one that comes to mind offhand is that the authoritarian/religious-right elements in the US have historically been directed by deep-capital, state-corporatist elements, Wall Street, the defense-industrial organism, etc… the fascists basically, not to put too fine a point on it. The theocracy in Iran is incredibly authoritarian and brutal, but its legacy and culture are quite distinct from anything similar in the West; the synergy of religious and anti-colonial/nationalist sentiments for one thing, are not directed and manipulated by capital/media conglomerates as in the West, but are more or less autonoumous forces. Brutality is brutality though, which is to say stupid and parasitic. Moussavi’s people are fighting to put this beast to the leash. If they succeed, Iran will become a much more formidable adversary, economically, culturally, politically, technologically etc… On the other hand, Iran will likely become a much more mature and rational society at the same time.

    I realized that the last line was or sounds like a tired parroting of common cliche to the effect that Iranian failure to toe the line (“get on your knees bitch”) amounts to “immaturity.” This isn’t what I intended to imply. Similarly ‘rational’.
    Lets try again: —On the other hand, Iran will likely become a much more intelligent, profound, and compelling society at the same time.—
    Something like that.

    Second order qualification w.r.t. the edit:
    I’m adopting the big-picture realPolitik analysis mode which eschews ‘moral’ judgments(which tend to be hypocritical). This would never go into a NYTimes column, because the party line is that Iran is acting aggressively in the region. In contrast, the realPolitik analytical viewpoint is that Iran is acting within its means to further its strategic interests/agenda in the region and the world at large. You understand this of course, but I need to spell it out as fine print. In the same spirit I’ll briefly address the nuke issue. Iran needs nuke power. It’s essentially free energy. They have a huge country and oil is not unlimited, and what there is needs to be exported for capital influx. Do they want weapons too? Yeah, but that’s icing on the cake. They /need/ the electrical power. Seriously. I don’t know much about the logistics of monitoring and that, but it seems to me that it would best serve Iran’s long term interests to find some allies in the international scene who will help it get some serious monitoring going to the effect that it would have a decent power program and no one could say that they were weaponizing anything. I’m not sure what the machinations are or would be from the Western side on this kind of play, but Iran needs a nuke less than anyone (as of 2009; I realize this could change). No one could possibly invade them, and the possibility of unilateral nuke attack from Israel or USA seems remote, even with a McCain/Palin or Liebermann in office. Having a nuke would actually make them less safe. It’s not even a good bargaining chip. It just makes them look like assholes to people that would otherwise be lining up behind them (like continental Europe) against sanctions and other aggressive activities… Possibly Moussavi understands this in something like these terms. If so, he would pursue some course of action that would guarantee nuclear/electrical program with as much transparency as possible.

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