Thursday 16 July 2015

A Tale of Two Agreements: what do Greece and Iran have in common?

Two important agreements have been concluded recently, almost at the same time: one dealt with Greece and its economy; the other – with Iran and its nuclear programme.  The former was said to remove a threat to the financial health of the Eurozone; the latter is purported to remove a danger to the security of the entire world.

The Supreme Leader smiles with satisfaction...
There are both similarities and differences between the two ‘deals’.  In both cases, negotiations have been long and difficult – though in the case of Iran brinkmanship was taken to an entirely new level: overtly or covertly, various wheeling and dealing has been going on for 12 years, until just 2-3 months separated the mullahs’ regime from its first nuclear weapon.  Both with Greece and with Iran, extreme economic pressures ultimately made the agreement possible.  Both countries were about to reach the end of the rope from a financial point of view – Greece through years of mismanagement and economic profligacy, Iran through the piling up of international sanctions.

A broken Greek Prime Minister on national
television: “I fully assume responsibility
for mistakes and oversights, and for signing
a text that I do not believe in, but that I am
obliged to implement... The hard truth is
this one-way street for Greece was imposed
on us...”
But a humbled Greek government was ultimately brought to its knees and – in return for a measure of financial relief – was forced to accept incredibly harsh terms negating its core ideological basis; in contrast, the mullahs’ regime will be granted full relief from nuclear-related sanctions, along with consent to continue its nuclear programme, although banned by six UN Security Council resolutions.  The democratically-elected Greek government has been forced to admit, in front of their own people, that all they could achieve was a “bad deal”, preferable only to an even-worse alternative; conversely, Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei could smilingly thank his negotiating team for its great achievement.  The Greek population – which only a few days ago voted to reject the terms – gloomily received the news of their country’s capitulation to European pressure; whether spontaneously or at the behest of the regime, Iranians celebrated in the streets.  Democratic Greece has been forced to accept blatant, colossal violations of national sovereignty – in practice relinquishing control over its own economic policy; the rogue ‘Islamic Republic’ has won recognition of its ‘sovereign right’ to enrich uranium under its own control, upon its own territory.

Barely a day after the signing of the Greek ‘bailout’ deal, none other than the International Monetary Fund (the ultimate financial experts) cried ‘the Emperor is naked’: in a publicly issued report, they basically conclude that the ‘deal’ has zero chances of being executed as agreed.  Similarly, nobody but a handful of starry-eyed naïves truly believes that the ‘Iran nuclear deal’ will ever be implemented as agreed.  In fact, not even the deal’s most enthusiastic supporters seem to entertain such illusions.  Writing about a month ago in the Time Magazine, one such supporter (a chap called Ian Bremmer) admited that
“The history of Iran’s nuclear program says it will cheat, and inspectors won’t catch every violation. In fact, Tehran may already have started, reportedly growing a nuclear stockpile it had promised to freeze.”
Still, Mr. Bremmer advocates the deal, on the basis that
“Even if Iran one day builds a nuclear weapon, it’s unlikely to use it…”
The rest of us, who are rather less cavalier and not endowed with Mr. Bremmer’s enviable clairvoyance, can only guess how “unlikely” that possibility really is; we can try to figure out what degree of ‘likelihood’ (that some jihadi finger will pull the nuclear trigger and obliterate our families) we are happy to tolerate.

You may wonder why anyone would conclude agreements that have – from the word ‘go’ – zero chances of being implemented.  And why was the mullahs’ regime (a rogue theocracy sponsoring global terrorism and regional sedition) treated so differently from democratic, tame Greece?

Some Western politicians (especially the self-appointed ‘progressives’ among them) appear to believe that non-Western or non-white people (especially if they are Muslims) must always be treated with kid gloves; that they have a God-given right to misbehave and that their misbehaviour must be treated with a degree of tolerance – like that of children.  Feel free to attribute that attitude to post-colonial guilt, to moral relativism, to some form of ‘Stockholm syndrome’ or to sheer stupidity; I think it stems from deeply entrenched (albeit carefully – perhaps too carefully – concealed) racism.

It’s called reverse racism.  Rather than viewing people as complete equals in rights and responsibilities, irrespective of faith or the colour of their skin, reverse racists tend to infantilise Muslims.  The latter are seen as having rights – even special rights, like children or disabled people; but, again like children, they are not expected to manifest complete responsibility for their actions.  In effect, reverse racists subliminally place Muslims (and less frequently other non-Western people) under some form of mental tutelage.

Reverse racist attitudes are manifest not just in the über-tolerant treatment of Iran versus the harsh handling of Greece.  They are visible everywhere: when ‘the government’ (i.e. a ‘paternal figure’) is expected to prevent young Muslims from being radicalised – rather than their own families and communities; when older men are allowed to take advantage of young girls simply because the men are Muslims and the girls white; when indoctrination and extremist propaganda in schools and mosques are seen as cultural peculiarity, rather than criminal activity…

And here is another, perhaps less obvious example of reverse racism: President Obama’s famous Cairo speech.  Made at the beginning of his first presidential term, the speech is full of nice words.  So nice, in fact, that they often stray far, far away from the truth:
“I am honoured to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar [a famous school of Sunni Islamic doctrine] has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress.”
“Harmony”? “progress”??  “advancement”???  Oh, pleeease!  There was, there is very little “harmony” in Egypt, a country ruled at the time – and now – by a ruthless dictator who imprisoned opponents and turned Al Azhar into just another propaganda tool; there was even less “progress” in a country where poverty was – and is – rife, where homosexuality is not even tolerated, let alone accepted, where one in every three women can't read and write.  Mr. Obama knew all this, just like every Egyptian knows it.  Yet he chose to ‘beautify’ the truth, rather than spell it out in its candid nakedness.  Some will say that he was just being courteous; but where does ‘courtesy’ end, at which point does it turn into brazen lie?  Why do tyrants deserve courteous lies more than their hapless subjects deserve the courtesy of being told the truth??  Would Mr. Obama have used such language, had he spoken to a Western audience?

The Cairo speech was made in the capital of a failed country – one that cannot feed its people, let alone develop and fulfil their natural abilities; yet one word could not be heard among the more than 6,000 uttered by the President: reform.

Yet Mr. Obama knows how to advocate reform.  Hear the tone of another speech – one made less than a year later, not at Cairo University, but at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  The topic was healthcare reform:
“… every single President has said we need to fix this system.  It’s a debate that’s not only about the cost of health care […].  It’s a debate about the character of our country – about whether we can still meet the challenges of our time; whether we still have the guts and the courage to give every citizen, not just some, the chance to reach their dreams.  […]  George Mason, the time for reform is right now.  Not a year from now, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now -- it’s now.  We have had a year of hard debate.  Every proposal has been put on the table.  Every argument has been made…”
Question: when did the President sound like speaking to children who need to be placated and cajoled – and when did he seem to address mature, responsible human beings, who need to make crucial decisions about their future?

But let us go back to the Cairo speech:
“I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share common principles – principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings…”
Reading these exhortations about Islam and “Muslims around the world”, one may think that this was the Pope speaking, or perhaps a Chief Rabbi.  Yet Mr. Obama is neither; nor was he speaking in the name of Christianity.  So why did the leader of a nation (the United States of America) purport to speak not to the host nation, but to the followers of a religion??  Simply: Mr. Obama was trying to manifest ‘empathy’ with the concept of ‘Muslim nation’ (ummah).  But why?  That concept is one promoted not necessarily by Muslims, but by Islamists.  Surely Mr. Obama does not believe that followers of Islam (whether in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Europe or the Americas, whether speaking Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Turkish or English) belong to one nation and should therefore aspire to reconstitute the Islamic Caliphate.  No, he was just cajoling, ‘making nice’ to his audience, just like one tends to do with children.

I don’t pretend to know how “Muslims around the world” feel, but I suspect that, like everybody else, they feel in various ways – as individuals rather than collective; and I know that, were I a Muslim, I would feel deeply offended by such patronising, paternalistic and ultimately racist attitude.  Perhaps that is why Mr. Obama’s speech, replete with such over-schmaltzed attempts at ‘endearment’, was ultimately received with coldness, as just another expression of Western hypocrisy.  Perhaps it would have been better if he spoke and acted towards Muslims with the same unadulterated conviction, with the same honest bluntness that he uses towards Western audiences.

Folks, there is nothing remotely ‘progressive’ about reverse racism.  It does not compensate for past wrongs, it perpetuates them in the present and exacerbates them in the future.  The key word in ‘reverse racism’ is ‘racism’ is ‘racism’ is ‘racism’.

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