March 22, 2008

Traditions, to abandon them or not... that is the question!

Few days ago, an Iranian blogger posted something about the 'useless', 'baseless' or even 'harmful' traditions in eastern societies, comparing a tradition of Sri Lankan people with a mostly Muslim one. I commented on that post. Today, Rasha, an author in Mideastyouth, posted something about traditions. Here is my comment to Rasha's post, which is relevant to that Iranian blogger's post as well.
Lets suppose that there is a tradition which is of no certain 'practical' use today, yet it does no harm to our cause as intellectuals, i.e. our common sense does not rule it out (as Nissim would argue). Do we have to set it aside?
Though some of the traditions, such as honor killing, are against the very essence of reason, some others have been of some use in the old times and nowadays play a symbolic role. For example, Iranians usually sprinkle a cup of water behind the pilgrim or the beloved one who is about to leave the city. The roots of this tradition back to the ancient Iran, when Persians used to worship several goddesses, one of which was Mitra, the goddess of Water; and this 'water' would be to request Mitra to support and protect the passenger. Yet, over centuries, several other features were added to this tradition: we put some flowers in the cup, as a symbol of nature and freshness; we put a mirror by the cup of water, in which the passenger would look and is a symbol of meditation; and else.
Such symbols play two important roles: first, to remember us of the past; Second, to differentiate our culture from that of others.
With regards to the second role, I'm not about to put a positive value on what we do or what we are as Iranians... I'm just saying that in the age of Globalization, keeping such symbolic traditions shields us against cultural globalization, which often translates into aggressive Americanization that is aimed at eliminating cultural diversity, whether deliberately or not.
By the way, I would agree with Rasha's main idea that one should investigate these traditions so as to ensure that they are not a barrier to the way of progress. I just wanted to emphasize on the role of neutral traditions.

March 17, 2008

Who is Iran's Obama?

Shahrvand Emroz (Today Citizen) is the only Iranian weekly dedicated to reformist cause, and probably the most professional journal of today Iran.
Mohammad Ghouchani, chief editor of Shahrvand Emroz, is a popular columnist as well as a well-known reformist figure whose articles attract a lot of attention from almost all political parties in Iran. Here is a translation of last part of his editorial in the last published volume of Shahrvand Emroz, entitled 'Who is Iran's Obama?'
Interestingly, most of Iranians have a high opinion of Obama. Conservatives compare Ahamdinejad to Obama, a comparison which is not that irrelevant, especially in terms of utopian promises and slogans. On the other hand, reformists think of Obama as a reformist figure. By the way, it seems that, to Iranians, black Obama means more of a utopia; and probably a lost utopia.
Who is Iran's Obama?
In the age we are going to embrace, every nation should seek for its own Obama: professional, fulltime politicians whose only preoccupation is politics, who are not afraid of [political] defeat, and who know very well how to play in the political system while being ready to break [ill-defined] structures [if necessary]. There are some prominent political figures who play a good game within the current structure, but their ambition is so limited. [On the other hand,] there are many ambitious figures who fail to follow the rules of the game. Obama [even] if got to surrender to Hillary Clinton, will not ever revolt against his party. And even if got to lose the election to McCain, will not revolt against the whole system.
America has never committed anything more notorious than what she did in Vietnam, yet Vietnam veterans are still the super-heroes of Americans. This by no measure means that Americans respect a bunch of war criminals; rather they oppose the military policy of their administration while defending their [patriot] representatives, i.e. their soldier (not their chief of staff). This sweet contradiction is what leads the democrat, anti-war Hollywood to ask US soldiers in Iraq to announce the final results of Oscar 2008, though directors of US movie industry [generally] oppose the Iraq war.
In countries such as Iran, one needs 'Medals' of national honor so as to be able to enter the political ground. This phenomenon is not unique to Iran. John Kerry and McCain are also veterans. If being republican or democrat translates into being loyal to the US Revolution and Constitution in US, being Conservative or Reformist translates into being faithful to Iranian Revolution and constitution in Iran. If being a Vietnam or WWII veteran is of a high importance in US, fighting Iraqi army is supposed to be important in Iran.
Iran, 30 years after its revolution, observes a generation who has not fully experienced the Revolution and War. Young democrats in US are of a similar position. Obama, from this new generation, finds his way into the political ground; the generation which should offer its respect to the Revolution, War and Republic, though in order to prove its political qualifications, it needs something more than just its political resume.
By the way, Iranian conservatives have surprisingly found their George Bush; and now, it is Reformists' turn to find their Obama. We have a full year (*) to find this 'Iranian Obama'.

(*): 15 months are left to Iran's next presidential election.

March 13, 2008

Thousands of billions of US$ for war on terror...

George W. Bush has spent thousands of billions of dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but terrorism still exists if not gotten stronger. I'm wondering what would have been likely to happen if US administration had spent this huge amount of money in constructive projects so as to bring some hope to the region? I'm not saying that this alternative could have made it impossible for Bin Ladans to rise again, but it could have eliminated the support ('market share' of public opinions) they enjoy today. George Bush adopted a counter productive strategy, I think.

March 10, 2008

Iran-US direct talks... how US generals think of it?

Today Pentagon Channel broadcast a briefing in Iraq in which two US generals were answering media correspondents. One of the Arab reporters asked US generals of the next round of security talks with Iran on Iraq issues, and the general responded: "that is not a dialogue between US and Iran; rather it is a direct talk between Iraqis and their Iranian counterparts and we participate in it trying to elaborate for Iranians how they could help Iraqis in security issues."

Pentagon Channel
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