An interesting article appeared in Foreign Policy magazine this week which indicates a lack of consensus among the Iranian-American community, with regard to how their host nation should approach the current regime in Tehran. It was written by Peter Kohanloo and Sohrab Ahmari, the latter being a member of the Henry Jackson Society. The general intent of the article is to portray the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) as being out of touch with the desires of the Iranian-American community at large…
By cynically exploiting Iranian-Americans’ deepest fears and by misrepresenting the community’s true aspirations, NIAC promotes an Iran policy agenda that shortchanges both Iranians and Americans.
The basis for the article are the results of a recent Zogby poll on the attitudes of Iranian-Americans garnered from replies to questions about how the US should approach the issue of Iran and it’s current leadership. However it is the manner in which the authors portray the Zogby findings which is quite interesting. They claim that the poll shows…
An overwhelming majority (63 percent) chose “promotion of human rights and democracy,” while 30 percent chose “promoting regime change.”
The basic tone of the piece is that the authors claim Iranian-American’s ‘…prefer a more robust U.S. policy toward the Khomeinist regime…’. However its what the authors don’t tell us about the poll that is most revealing. They refer to the fact that
‘only 14 percent identified “preventing an American military strike against Iran” as one of their top two priorities.‘
To read this you would assume that the remaining 86% favour a US strike on Iran, which i believe is the authors intent. However, as there is little to no chance of a US attack on their homeland, its patently obvious that ‘preventing one’ is going to be pretty low down the list of top priorities for Iranian Americans. This point is further reinforced by a finding that the authors (for some reason) decided to omit from their article.
They make no mention of the fact that the poll found ‘Only three percent (3%) of Iranian Americans favor a military option against Iran.‘ They can’t refer to this you see, if they hope for their piece to work. The authors go on to smear the NIAC as having ‘..consistently endeavored to shield the Iranian regime from Western sanctions and other forms of pressure.’ Which is not only an attempt to depict the NIAC as some kind of fifth column, but also fails to distinguish between support for the Iranian people versus support for the Iranian regime. Other little statistics that the authors have decided not to mention include that only 7% of Iranian-Americans favour tightening economic sanctions on Iran, something the authors undoubtedly seek to bring to fruition.
Kohanloo and Ahmari claim that NIAC ‘…continues to advocate against sanctions capable of shifting the mullahs’ nuclear calculus.‘ Aside from their apparent clairvoyance in knowing these sanctions will change alleged Iranian nuclear ambitions, the link they provide to ‘prove’ this accusation is one where NIAC plead for a more acute form of sanctions, those which target the leadership and human rights abusers in Iran directly, instead of the broadsword set of sanctions which worsen the lives of the average Iranian. This is a common-sense request and in making it, NIAC demonstrate a greater concern for their people at home in Iran than Kohanloo and Ahmari do with their ridiculous cherry picking of data to push for a ‘more robust’ US approach to their homeland. They continue…
Prior to the 2009 post-election uprising, for example, NIAC rarely spoke out on the issue of human rights in Iran and, indeed, repeatedly sought to defund U.S. government programs for promoting democratization there.
Two issues here. First the US fund for democracy in Iran was criticised not just by NIAC but by many human rights activists on the ground in Iran. Like like Iranian dissident journalist Akbar Ganji…
“The US democracy fund was severely counterproductive. None of the human right activists and members of opposition in Iran had any interest in using such funds, but we were all accused by Iran’s government of being American spies because a few groups in America used these funds.”
Secondly, NIAC are on record pre-2009 loud and clear on human rights issues in Iran. No mention of either of these facts by the authors, again we should ask ourselves, why?
Kohanloo and Ahmari also write…
Asked at a Middle East Policy Council forum in 2008 about the organization’s reluctance to address human rights issues, NIAC President Trita Parsi responded: “NIAC is not a human rights organization. That’s not our expertise.”
Aside from it being obvious that NIAC is not a human rights organization (clue is in the title guys) just like AIPAC aren’t, the authors odious attempt to portray Trita Parsi and NIAC as not being concerned with human rights is disingenuous to say the least. As already mentioned above, they are on record with regard to human rights, also I urge everyone to have a watch of the video the authors link to, to try and prove their accusation. Selective editing is, in my opinion, an apt description and it raises questions about the editorial standards at Foreign Policy magazine.
This article is, i believe, part of a broader attempt to smear NIAC and anyone associated with them, in order to either silence them or have their genuine, legitimate concerns for their homeland railroaded under another push for war. The authors of this piece are guilty of the very thing they accuse NIAC of, that is, not honestly representing the feelings of the Iranian-American community.
It is possible that NIAC could be close to the Iranian leadership, but the evidence against them or Trita Parsi is non-existent. Therefore it is my view that his and NIAC’s legitimate position as representative of a large portion of Iranian-Americans and their concerns, should be respected and listened to.