Fars News Agency Interviews
Fars News Agency Interviews - by Stephen Lendman
Iranian journalist Kourosh Ziabari conducted the interview. Topics included Tehran's successful NAM summit, Iranian/US/Israeli relations, Syria, potential war against both countries, and related issues.
Fars (FNA) calls itself "Iran's leading independent news agency." Its reports shame what appears in Western media.
Questions and answers are below. Some final comments follow.
US Radio Host: Iran's International Profile Raised through Hosting NAM Summit
TEHRAN (FNA)- American writer and radio host Stephen Lendman believes that the successful arrangement and hosting of the 16th heads-of-state Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran was diplomatically a triumph for the Islamic Republic, which disappointed Israel and the United States and helped Iran improve its political profile on the international scene.
Lendman believes that despite the US and Israeli propaganda, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran, which wrapped up on Friday, was a great diplomatic victory for Iran and defeat and failure for the US and the Zionist regime of Israel.
What follows is the full text of Fars News Agency's interview with Stephen Lendman in which a number of issues pertaining to the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, the frustration of Western powers at the successful summit in Tehran, the attendance of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at the summit, the prospects of the movement under Iran's presidency, and the role it can play in fostering global peace and stability were discussed.
Q: The United States and Israel had made rigorous efforts to make sure that the Tehran Non-Aligned Movement summit will be boycotted by the member states so that Iran fails to raise its international profile during the important event, but delegations from 120 world countries attended the summit in defiance of calls by the US and Israel. What's your take on that?
A: Washington and Israel both put heavy pressure on NAM countries not to attend. Israel ordered its ambassadors in all NAM states to apply heavy pressure. Likely Washington did the same thing.
The effort failed dismally. The summit was a huge success. Iran's prestige is enhanced. Participating nations support its peaceful nuclear program and oppose its isolation. These are major accomplishments.
They don't immunize Iran from a joint US-Israeli attack. I expect one eventually but not until after US November elections and likely 2013 at the earliest.
Syria's conflict is far from over. Even hegemons worry about biting off more than they can chew. Full blown war against Syria and/or Iran comes with great risks. The entire region could be embroiled. Russia and China may get involved. Israel and US regional facilities will be hit hard.
Israel's multiple nuclear sites will be prime targets. Hezbollah alone can inflict serious damage if it supports either or both countries.
I believe taking these risks is insane. High level political and military officials in Israel and Washington know it and oppose war. It doesn't mean it won't happen. I think odds are it will against both countries.
For now, US electoral considerations are prioritized. After November 6, anything is possible.
Q: What has been the most important achievement of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran? Will the movement, under Iran's presidency, succeed in retrieving its prominent position in the international developments and influence the global equations in an effective manner?
A: NAM gave Iran multiple achievements: added prestige, perhaps stronger economic and political ties, a big first step toward ending Washington's attempt to impose isolation, and a black eye for America, Israel and their rogue partners.
Not bad for a six day event. Hopefully, they'll be effective follow through. I think Iranian leaders understand and will press their advantage diplomatically.
Right now, Iran came out a winner. Odds are it will pay dividends ahead.
Q: While the NAM summit was underway in Tehran, IAEA published a new report on Iran's nuclear program, leveling new accusations against Iran and casting doubt over Iran's nuclear intentions. Was this report aimed at distracting the public opinion from the successful hosting of the NAM summit by Iran?
A: The new IAEA report was strategically timed to downplay the summit. It's old wine in new bottles. It's wearing thin. It lacks credibility, and deep within the report was information about most uranium fuel, in fact, below weapons grade and much of it either difficult or impossible to convert. Western, especially America's media, said little or nothing.
The IAEA under Amano keeps crying wolf. He's an imperial tool. Washington installed him. His credibility is low and sinking.
Q: How effective can the non-aligned nations be in solving the regional and international problems, including the crisis in Syria, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violence in Bahrain and the restructuring of the United Nations? Do they have the power to change the international equations practically?
A: To be effective, NAM nations must transform rhetoric into policies. It's not easy, especially as most of them have close Western ties and vote with America often at the General Assembly.
At the same time, Washington and Israel are losing influence. It takes time, but at some point they'll reach a point where more nations defy them. Challenging them on Iran and Syria would be a wonderful way to start.
On Syria, it's not likely. I fear full blown intervention without world opposition. It's very disturbing, and it could happen soon or post-US elections.
Solving the Palestinian issue is many years away. Palestinians must do more on their own. Getting rid of Assad/Fayyad leadership is key. They're Israeli/pro-Western stooges. A real Palestinian spring is needed. The so-called Arab one is fake. It's a Western term. Manipulated policy followed.
Q: What do you think about the Western mainstream media's coverage of the NAM summit in Tehran? Has it been a fair and balanced coverage? Have they reacted to the summit in an objective and impartial manner?
A: Western media coverage has been abominable. I've written many critiques. I call them all scoundrels for good reason. They're pro-imperial, pro-war, pro-corporate, and anti-populist. They lie for power. They're not journalists. They're propagandists, including the New York Times and Washington Post. At times, they make earlier yellow journalism look good.
They gave rotten coverage to NAM but mostly ignored it.
Q: During the past years, Israel and the United States have been constantly directing war threats against Iran, warning Tehran of a possible military strike on its nuclear facilities. Was the NAM summit in Tehran in which many countries threw weight behind Iran's nuclear program a deterrent for a possible U.S./Israeli war against Iran?
A: U.S. and Israeli war threats against Iran continue. Both nations have longstanding plans. Nothing changed except maybe timing. It would be foolish to attack Iran now. Israel absolutely won't go it alone. Netanyahu is a hothead loudmouth, but he's not crazy. He'll do nothing without Washington's OK.
Q: How do you see President Mohamed Mursi's trip to Iran to attend the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit? It seems that Israelis and the US officials are really angry at President Mursi's decision to approach Iran with a policy of reconciliation. He called Iran a "strategic ally" and called for the expansion of the bilateral ties. What's your take on that?
A: Mursi tried having it both ways. Showing up was significant. His anti-Syrian position shows his pro-Western position.
It's interesting that he called Iran a strategic ally. I'm sure Washington and Israel aren't pleased. I hope he means it.
Q: What's your idea about the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its European allies against Iran? Of course the IAEA and US intelligence agencies have so far failed to put forward compelling evidence, confirming that Iran possesses nuclear weapons or intends to build one. So, all of the sanctions are based on mere speculations. What's your idea about these sanctions, their effect on Iran's political stature and the role the non-aligned nations can play in helping Iran circumvent the sanctions?
A: The sanctions are illegal, as well as against Syria. Neither country threatens anyone. Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. Annual US intelligence assessments say so. So do high level leaders in Washington, Israel, and Europe.
The so-called threat is red herring cover for Washington's longstanding regime change plans. A pretext is needed. If not Iran's nuclear program, something else would be invented. Iran poses no threat whatever.
Q: One of the proposals which Iran put forward in the 16th NAM summit was a nuclear-free Middle East. The fulfillment of this objective demands that Israel should dismantle its nuclear weapons. Are the NAM member states capable of disarming Israel and realizing a real nuclear-free Middle East?
A: The nuclear free Middle East proposal was important. It has impact. It shows Iran deplores these weapons and doesn't want its own. It also reveals Tehran is wrongly accused. Every NAM nation knows Washington and Israel are the real threats. They just don't say so.
Q: And finally, do you think that major members of the NAM, including Iran, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cuba, Venezuela, Egypt, Sudan and Zimbabwe can lead an international anti-war, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism alliance? Can they succeed in upholding the primary objectives of the movement and resist the pressures of the world major powers?
A: It's hard to know if a coalition of anti-war nations will emerge. Indeed it would be significant. If I led a NAM nation, I'd urge it and participate. Everyone gains from peace, mutual cooperation, and multi-lateral economic relations.
Resisting Western pressures isn't easy. The threats now are so great, perhaps greater efforts will be made to do it. I hope so. It's a win-win. Otherwise, everyone loses and who knows what nations Washington will target next! It's time now to put a stop to belligerence.
Stephen Lendman is an American writer and radio host. He hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
He received a BA from Harvard University. He got an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes on many issues, including the Middle East.
He's a strong opponent of the US war threats against Iran and has written many articles in this regard.
Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
Some Final Comments
Thomas Edison called Tom Paine America's most important political thinker. His writings profoundly influenced the nation's founders. His words bear relevance today.
"These are the times that try men's souls," he said. He also wrote:
"When we contemplate the fall of empires and the extinction of nations of the Ancient World, we see but little to excite our regrets than the mouldering ruins of pompous palaces, magnificent museums, lofty pyramids and walls and towers of the most costly workmanship; but when the empire of America shall fall, the subject for contemplative sorrow will be infinitely greater than crumbling brass and marble can inspire."
"It will not then be said, 'Here stood a temple of vast antiquity; here rose a babel of invisible height; or there a palace of sumptuous extravagance; but here, ah, painful thought! the noblest of work of human wisdom, the grandest scene of human glory, the fair cause of Freedom rose and fell."
He was light years ahead of his time. So was Benjamin Franklin. He warned that America's republic one day would fail. "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald" its end. He also said those who "give up essential liberty (for) temporary safety deserve neither." They'll end up losing both.
James Madison called war the most dreaded enemy of freedom. He wasn't alone.
Modern thinkers issued similar warnings. Chalmers Johnson denounced America's imperial presidency. He described "sorrows invading our lives." He envisioned inevitable constitutional collapse.
People are scared, he said, but don't know what to do. "America is like a cruise ship on the Niagara River upstream of the most spectacular falls in North America."
"A few people on board have begun to pick up a slight hiss in the background, to observe a faint haze of mist in the air on their glasses, to note that the river current seems to be running slightly faster."
"But no one yet seems to have realized that it is almost too late to head for shore."
"Like the Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, imperial German, Nazi, imperial Japanese, British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Soviet empires in the last century, we are approaching the edge of a huge waterfall and are about to plunge over it."
It'll end in a bang, not a whimper. TS Eliot got it backwards. He wasn't up to speed on how things are now.
Permanent wars assure bad endings. America wages them one at a time or in multiples. Ravaging Syria continues. Moaaz al-Omari wrote on its staggering cost. A study he cited conservatively estimated $36.5 billion in damages and $200 billion needed for reconstruction.
Both numbers increase daily. Perhaps they'll double or triple before conflict ends. Add to them the cost of lost lives and futures. Human misery can't be quantified. Nor can crimes of war and against humanity in dollars and cents terms.
Washington bears full responsibility. It's America's war. Planning began years ago. Iran is also targeted. Israel wants a regional rival removed. America wants an independent state replaced by a pro-Western one. War is the bottom line option of choice.
The potential carnage throughout the region should give any imperial power pause. Cooler heads in high places know the risks and want them avoided at all costs. Others have delusions of grandeur. War is hell remains out of sight and mind. Reality for them may arrive too late.
Saber rattling may be prelude for what's planned. America doesn't just show the flag, it threatens adversaries with its might. September 16 - 27 military exercises are planned.
The USS Stennis joined two other carriers (USS Enterprise and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower) and their strike groups in the Gulf. They'll conduct a massive mine-sweeping drill.
They'll simulate breaching the Strait of Hormuz against potential Iranian efforts to block it. War games are also planned. Iran's military and nuclear sites are targets.
Reports vary. Some say the Stennis will replace the Enterprise. Others believe all three strike groups will remain. At issue is what's next? Obama may declare "red lines." Maybe timelines are next.
Americans vote in two months. Iranian aggression is on hold until then. Post-election, greater intervention against Syria and war on Iran may follow. The risk is too great to ignore. The potential consequences are too grave to risk.
On September 5, Press TV quoted Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi saying:
"Should the US attempt a folly in the Persian Gulf, by God's grace their soldiers would not survive."
If an attack occurs, he added, US commanders "should expect the Islamic Republic of Iran’s crushing response and know that they should not await a favorable outcome."
"Should a (single) bullet fly in the Persian Gulf, it will definitely be to the detriment of the US and its allies."
Fadavi makes no distinction between Washington and Israel. "On this basis," he said, "only the Americans have taken a threatening stance towards the Islamic Republic. If the Americans commit the smallest folly, they will not leave the region safely."
It's no idle threat. Iran can hit back hard, even though it's no match for America militarily. It can still deliver a powerful response if attacked. So can Hezbollah on Israel's border. War on either constitutes illegal aggression. So is conflict ravaging Syria.
What's coming appears troubling. Weariness doesn't deter Washington's war machine. Expect Israel to ride shotgun against Iran. Who knows what's next.
Conflicts may rage until MENA countries (Middle East/North Africa) are destroyed, raped and plundered. America's notion of democracy is none at all. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Humanitarian concerns aren't considered. Doublespeak mumbo jumbo convinces people bad is good.
America's political choice in November is either go along or else. Whatever the outcome, money power wins. Imperial ravaging won't end. Millions more will die. Humanity will be stressed to survive. Reality one day may reveal it failed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War:
Visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.