iOS app Android app More

Omid Memarian

Omid Memarian

Posted: November 29, 2007 11:55 AM

Iran Agenda: How Tehran Joined the Axis of Evil Club


For an accurate insight into US-Iran Relations, beyond what is covered by mainstream media, read Reese Erlich's latest book, Iran Agenda: the Real Story of U.S. Policy and The Middle East Crisis. In his recently published book, Erlich answers some vital questions such as why Iran is developing a nuclear program, why it supports groups like Hamas and Hizbollah, and why US attempts such as financing democracy in Iran or supporting enemies of the government are futile.

I was a chief research on this book, and find it to be a very useful and thoughtful tool for anyone who wants to sift through continuous streams of misinformation about Iran and wants to understand the dynamics behind US-Iran Relations.

The book discusses vital issues related to Iran today such as the history of Iran's nuclear contracts with the US in the 1960s, supported by key information about the country's history. It also delves into the characteristics of Iran's ruling system, its relationship with Hamas and Hizbollah, and the composition and diversity of Iranian dissidents.

The real dispute between the United States and Iran has little to do with Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons. The Bush administration declared Iran to be part of the "axis of evil" and has been pursuing a policy of "regime change," a euphemism for the U.S. overthrow of an internationally recognized government. The U.S. has adopted different tactical positions, sometimes calling for tightening sanctions, other times threatening military strikes. But the long-term goal remains overthrowing the Iranian government and installing a friendly regime. (Chapter Two)

Reese sheds light on US activity in support of Iranian armed opposition--a subject not covered by other media sources. During his September 2006 trip to Iran, he traveled to Northern Iraq to investigate the source of support for Iran's Kurdish opposition, a group that has become increasingly violent recently, gaining notoriety among Iranians. He was among the first journalists to discover these groups are funded and supported by the US Administration. In an article he authored for Mother Jones Monthly, as well as in an interview with me, he talks about his conversations with leaders of Iranian opposition groups:

Every opponent of the Iranian government that I spoke to criticized the disastrous impact of U.S. policies. When the United States periodically threatens military attacks, funds dissidents and sponsors terrorism, the administration helps fuel anti-American nationalism, said Ganji. "Passing this ($85 million) budget has made our work much more difficult and the work of the democratic forces much more cumbersome in Iran," Ganji told me.

...which summarizes why Iranians are not interested in US attempts at financing 'democracy' in Iran.

Perhaps one of the key contributions of this book is sharing lessons learned from the Iraq experience and ensuring we use them when dealing with Iran. Erlich who is the co-author of Target Iraq completed his new book just as the US-Iran rhetoric against each other has escalated: US seems to be setting the stage to bomb Iran using various media sources to influence first the US public and then the rest of the world, starting by labeling a sector of Iran's official army, the Revolutionary Guard, a terrorist organization.

Noteworthy characteristics of Erlich's book are that they is a culmination of information gathered from studying the cultures, political systems and historical events in the region, gained from extensive travels and interviews throughout the years, paired with his lifelong presence in the American media. He has visited Iran many times, including 2005 when he joined Sean Penn and Norman Solomon to meet with and interview many people including politicians and artists.

Iran Agenda also considers different aspects of the political and cultural spectrum of the Iranian Diaspora and argues how searching for an Iranian version of Ahmad Chalabi is a myth. Erlich not only interviewed Shirin Ebadi, Iran's 2003 Noble Peace Laureate and Akbar Ganji, one of Iran's prominent dissidents, but also the son of Iran's last king, Reza Pahlavi. In regards to US foreign policy towards Iran, the book concludes:

Successive Democratic and Republican administrations have made a mess of U.S.-Iran relations since 1979. The United States has tried economic embargoes, UN resolutions, propaganda broadcasts, covert terrorist attacks, imprisoning Iranians living in Iraq, and strident military threats. None have resulted in significant changes inside Iran. A number of leading experts suggest an alternative. The people of Iran must be left alone to change the government as they see fit. Meanwhile, the United States must negotiate with Iran as part of lowering tensions throughout the Middle East. (Last Chapter: Lessons of Iraq)

In hopes that such books are read, understood, and taken to heart to prevent further war.

Follow Omid Memarian on Twitter: www.twitter.com/omid_m