Time for disengagement

I don’t think I’d like to live in Iran. In fact I’m sure I wouldn’t. I can’t stand religious single-mindedness, which in my eyes is tantamount to intellectual self-mutilation. However, maybe I am underestimating the country. Though scripture is one of the subjects taught in Iranian schools, a description on the British Council’s website gives a sympathetic impression of education in Iran.

Iran was brutally converted to Shia Islam by a powerful Shah in the 16th century. He had compelling political reasons for doing so – mainly the need to give his fractured country a single and distinctive national identity; indeed, Persia under his rule did become very great. The last Shah, hated though he was, was a Shia Muslim, too, as was almost everybody else even before the revolution in 1979. Shia Islam is appears to be ingrained in Iranian national identity.

You might argue that in 1979, most people in my own country, for instance, had been practising protestant Christians for 400 years. Scripture was taught in schools here too, yet we have become more broad-minded since then. But I have not had my country manhandled by a superpower, so I don’t know what sort of mind-set such abuse would have instilled in me. When you strike at a country, its population tends to rally around it – defending its identity. (The US orchestrated the coup d’état against Mossadeq in 1953 and supported the vain and profligate last Shah, whose autocratic government was probably no less repressive than the current one. And of course, the sanctions have been hitting all Iranians hard.) A Bloomberg headline dated 11/5/2018 reads: “It’s No Wonder Iranians Hate America”. And the subtitle goes: “When will the U.S. stop reminding them how legitimate their grievances are?”

Much as I dislike religious bigotry, I can sleep at night even if my neighbour is a devout Iranian. As a matter of fact, many of my neighbours are devout Muslims, and they are generally very good neighbours. Fortunately, none of them wear niqabs, which give me the jitters. But then again, niqabs are a Salafi thing – nothing to do with Iran. All the more to do with Saudi Arabia, actually, one of Emperor Trump’s favourite countries.

Speaking of which, I am finding it ever harder to sleep at night with the US stampeding all over the place, hurling its weight around, breaking every rule in the rule-book, giving just about everybody the jitters.

Frankly, I think it’s high time we all sat down and faced one momentous fact: The US is a major security threat in every way, perhaps the greatest security threat in the world today. We have to figure out how to disentangle ourselves from an extremely dangerous and ethically questionable “friendship”. In much of the world, almost all internet and mobile phone traffic can be intercepted (i.e. “spied on”) by US intelligence services. The US can probably paralyse our infra-structure. Our chipsets are made by the US. Our commerce is oriented towards the US, and last but not least, the US dollar is almost universally used for commerce outside the EU (SEPA area). Hence the US can and does dictate much of our foreign policies. It is currently bullying us into turning our backs on Iran and to rejecting Huawei as our 5G supplier. Look up the word suzerainty, and you get the picture.

Mind you, the source I just linked to about “suzerainty” refrains from mentioning US unofficial suzerainty over NATO members and other nations over which it has the financial and/or commercial upper hand. We all know about it, but do not call it by its right name.

Even in the US, US foreign policy is taking its toll: Just imagine how Google feels about being ordered to deny Android access to Huawei! (I have just ordered a Huawei computer out of pure spite, even though I don’t need a new computer now.)

Characteristically, the only direct answers I was able to find for my question “why can the US force us to impose sanctions on other countries” were on the US site Quora. The US has everything, and we all look to the US.

Future generations will – if they survive the consequences of irresponsible US policies and the aftermath of all the impending climatic disasters humanity is generating at full speed – look back upon our current governments and know what to think about them.

On the brighter side, I suggest we start watching a few Iranian films. There are some very good ones! There are also some very good Latin American films, Lebanese films, even Icelandic films … In short, some very good films are made almost all over the world, but we don’t hear about them. Why, do you think?