RUTHIE BLUM: NAM AND THE NEW YORK TIMES
NAM and The New York Times
Comic relief can be a good temporary remedy for actual, long-term tragedy. This must be why there was such a heavy dose of it in The New York Times on Thursday. Any other explanation for the piece by former political science professor at Tehran University and former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team Kaveh Afrasiabi either makes no sense, or is cause for mass subscription cancellations.
Indeed, “Gathering Hope in Tehran,” which the author penned from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has lived for many years and faithfully served as a mouthpiece for the mullahs back at home, is nothing short of pure propaganda for the Ahmadinejad-Khamenei regime and its nuclear program.
This might come across as an example of the Times taking its motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” to new heights of cynicism. But, hey, the article is an op-ed, which means its editors don’t have to concern themselves with its “news” value or slant. Opinions, by definition, are subjective. Afrasiabi is just as entitled to his views as the next guy, if not more – by virtue of his origin.
So let us take a look at what he has to say on the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit that is being held next week in Tehran, the capital of the country that will be presiding over it for the next three years.
The regime in Iran, writes Afrasiabi, “wants to seize this opportunity to neutralize Western-imposed isolation over its nuclear efforts and to defend its program, which has been consistently supported at past Nonaligned Movement summits as well as by Nonaligned countries in the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
“Unfortunately,” he bemoans, “the United States and a number of other Western countries have adopted a purely negative approach toward the … summit, going even as far as urging [U.N. Secretary-General] Ban [Ki-moon] to boycott it since the host nation is in defiance of U.N. resolutions on the nuclear issue. But the secretary-general must be lauded for exercising independent judgment in deciding to go to Tehran for the meeting,” which, he asserts, is “likely to have significant implications, above all for regional peace and stability.”
Hmmm. Sounds really promising.
Even more encouraging, as Afrasiabi sees it, is the following: “Though Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, may not participate, the crisis in Syria will be on the agenda and may culminate in a new Nonaligned Movement mediation push to complement the efforts of both the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.”
Yes, this should solve the Syrian bloodbath. But better still, as far as Afrasiabi is concerned, is the attendance at the summit of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whose “decision to go to Tehran indicates a thaw in Iran-Egypt relations and could be the harbinger of a diplomatic normalization between the two countries that could greatly enhance stability in the region.”
He is particularly optimistic about the summit’s ability to break the “stalemated nuclear negotiations between Iran and the “P5+1” nations” – as long as the United States and its allies … drop their rigid insistence on a complete halt to Iran’s enrichment efforts and take a more nuanced approach to help break the deadlock on the issue.”
Yes, he goes on, “The Western offer to provide nuclear reactor fuel and aviation parts in exchange for Tehran shutting down its high-grade enrichment work was called ‘ungenerous’ by the International Crisis Group. It is clear that one-dimensional, coercive diplomacy on this matter will not yield a positive result – and that the Western diplomatic approach toward Iran needs to be much more flexible and prudent.”
Flexible and prudent – you know, like the attitude of China and Russia. Why – he wants to know – can’t the U.S. follow their helpful example and request observer status at the summit?
Nor should the fact that Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map with its so-called “peaceful” nukes make it impossible for the U.S. to support the summit or attend as an observer, Afrasiabi insists. “After all,” he argues, “the United States sends observers to O.I.C. (Organization of the Islamic Conference) meetings that habitually condemn Israel.”
Yes, well, he has a good point there – though not as persuasive as his penultimate conclusion.
“The time has come for the West to reconsider its hostility toward the Nonaligned Movement,” Afrasiabi concludes.
“A small olive branch could be extended if the United States and the European Union requested observer status. And the deep North-South divide could begin to close.”
That Afrasiabi wants the “North-South divide” to close is understandable, given his history of print and broadcast apologetics for radical regimes, including the one from which he himself hails. What he clearly champions is worldwide Islamic domination. That really would create stability – the kind that comes from a total lack of freedom and dissent.
But why The New York Times should provide him a platform for such a position – other than in its April Fools’ Day edition – is incomprehensible.
Or maybe it’s not really unfathomable, which would be way worse. And not the least bit comical.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring,’” now available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America.
To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the “Arab Spring” by Ruthie Blum (Aug 2, 2012
Comments are closed.