Reset Stephen Kinzer.

Stephen Kinzer believes that the best way forward for America on foreign policy is for it to listen to its friends in the Middle East that share America’s basic principles.

One of those potential “friends” is Iran (sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you hear this kind of thing).

Kinzer, an American journalist and author, was at SOAS, London last night promoting his new book Reset Middle East, with its brand new cover (below) which includes Israel this time (always bound to add to sales).

Kinzer has great sympathy with Iran as a country.

He acknowledges its democratic history and even the love that the Iranian people have for everything American.

He told us that when he was standing in Shiraz, Iran all the Iranians shook his hand when they discovered he was American. When Sean Penn visited Iran Penn was asked by an elderly Iranian gentleman what it was like being married to Madonna.

Kinzer seems to have a rare easy access to Iran, unlike most.

I would love to visit Iran. The Iranians I have met have been the politest, warmest and most articulate of people.

But I can’t imagine walking the streets for too long before being picked up as a Mossad spy. Even in the UK I get accused of that (see clip).

An American woman has just been arrested on spying charges and Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal still languish in an Iranian prison after being picked up as “spies” when they hiked a bit too near the Iranian border.

I can’t believe I would escape the same fate, unless, like Kinzer, I can rustle up a book or two favourable to such an oppressive regime.

First, Kinzer likes Turkey because it is a longstanding NATO ally, is the most democratic country in the Middle East and has a booming capitalist economy. It is also becoming more religious under President Erdogan which proves its credentials to other Muslim countries.

And because it tried to do a deal with Brazil on Iran’s nuclear programme and also condemned Israel over the Mavi Marmara tragedy it won’t be viewed as America’s lackey.

And Turkey’s advice to America on Iran? Stop with the confrontational rhetoric and try to compromise more.

Second, Kinzer describes Iran as having an open, vibrant and democratic society; a society as democratic as its government is undemocratic.

But he sees America as the the main stumbling block as it is still angry over the Iranian hostage crisis of 30 years ago and, therefore, reacts too emotionally on Iran.

But, he continued, Iran, being an enemy of the Taliban and Al Qaida, is America’s way out of Iraq and Afghanistan as long as America can prove to Iran that it won’t use Iraq as a base from which to attack Iran.

So how to achieve peace with Iran?

Kinzer says America must conduct broader negotiations with Iran than just on the nuclear issue. And it must allow Iran to bring its concerns to the table.

Kinzer compares the America-Iranian animosity to that once between America and China and says the latter was far worse.

But he thinks that America doesn’t wish to sign a similar accord with Iran as it would make Iran a regional power (which, says Kinzer, it is anyway).

Oh, and there must be incorporated into any American-Iranian agreement a deal on human rights in Iran.

I pushed him on the latter point suggesting that I couldn’t see Iran giving way on that at all and that any deal with Iran would only entrench such a brutal regime. Surely, it is the human rights abuses that keeps the current regime in power. Without the economic control of the IRGC (Iranian Republican Guard Corps.) and brutality of both the IRGC and the basij militia the regime would crumble quickly.

In reply Kinzer, bemusingly, cited photos of liberated Iranian women from the fifties. He failed to address the brutal Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime.

And eventhough America made peace with China that didn’t stop China going on to massacre hundreds of its own civilians in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and continuing to hang thousands of political opponents each year.

Similarly, an American peace with Russia hasn’t stopped the latter murdering anti-government journalists (Anna Politkovskaya shot dead on her way up to her appartment) and political dissidents (Alexander Litvinenko poisoned in London) and locking up its political opponents on trumped-up charges (Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev in prison since 2005 and who have just had their sentences arbitrarily extended).

Kinzer lives in Disneyland. He should realise that once a brutal regime, always a brutal regime.

The Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime really needs to be ousted before his nice theory on American-Iranian relations can take root.

35 responses to “Reset Stephen Kinzer.

  1. “Kinzer likes Turkey because it is a longstanding NATO ally, is the most democratic country in the Middle East ”

    What a loon.

    Sometimes I think that much of the human race has not evolved intellectually beyond a rather precocious amoeba.

  2. thanks, as always Richard a very lively and informative report

    Kinzer certainly sounds like he lives in a realm of his own construction.

    just take the argument that with China everything will remain fine once it became fine is ridiculous. Recently the US found out that China is capable of building more advanced weapons systems than they’d thought possible. They didn’t sound complacent about that discovery.

    my basic rule for alliances is, is the partner a reliable one? would I trust him that after a hand-shake I still had all my 5 fingers on it.

    we have a saying who wants to share soup with the devil needs to eat with a long spoon, Kinzer seems to think he can forgo that and replace it by a cozy hug.

  3. You can catch a lot of very nasty bugs that way. And if he does, it couldn’t happen to a nicer … oh, whatever.

  4. Richard Tebboth

    SK delivered the same talk at LSE the previous night.

    On that occasion he provided his view of the future of Israel/Palestine:
    there is increasing world recognition of a Palestinian state with its borders effectively defined by the ‘green line’ of 1967 with minor modifications;
    there will de a recognition of a de facto annexation of the entire West Bank by Israel.

    I see the latter view is that espoused by the Yesha movement – with wholesale population movement – echoes of prevous history in the area.
    And, of course, there are others who want population movements in the other direction.

  5. Another comment on SK
    ‘For the comfort of the paranoid Zionist Jews – Stephen Kinzer is no ‘Self-Hating; Israel-Thratening (S.H.I.T)’ Jew – but a genuine Khazarian pro-Israeli. He is critical of the current US foreign policy in the Middle East, which he believes is strengthening the Islamists in Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Palestine. As a ‘good friend of Israel’ – he honestly believes that America’s blind support for the Zionist-regime is pushing the country closer to its ultimate destruction.’

  6. Here are the polite, warm articulate Iranians expressing their love for everything American.

  7. Rehmat is a real charmer (“The Jews are white European imperialists”), but some of his commenters are even more deranged: acc. to one, Chomsky is a Mossad psy-op.

    • 1. If you can peel away the religious rule, Kinzer says, they could be more democratic than Turkey.

      So all it needs is to get rid of the theocrats. Simples.

      2. Iran is “the most pro-US country in the world,” Kinzer says, referring to US popular culture.

      Kinzer seems not to have heard of a small, faraway, insignificant country called Japan.

  8. here is the iTunes-Link to the Kinzer presentation for those who want to “enjoy” the original

  9. He failed to address the brutal Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime.

    A bit like you failed to address the brutal Shah regime then. A regime considered by most to have been on of the nastiest in the post-war history of the ME, installed and serviced by the US for one and one reason only: control of the flow of oil.

    Anyone who believes the West’s actions in the wider ME have anything to do with ‘enlightenment values’ or the spreading thereof, should be made to walk around with a dunce cap on permanently. We sold these values down the river a long time ago.

    The West relentlessly pursues its own interests and continued dominance over the region. That’s why we don’t like Iran: that country challenges us (very, very craftily too) and it won’t stop pursuing its own self-interest.
    The US’s complicity with brutal, fascistoid juntas in America Latina, all in the name of ‘anti-communism’ and the totem of ‘free marketering’ is legendary and extremely well documented. With ‘democracy’ this has nothing to do: the US itself is not a democracy, rather it’s a corporacracy where anything can be bought and sold if you’ve got the dough, that is. See also Israel Lobby. Why on Earth is there reason to believe its attitude to Iran is any different? There is none…

    David Charles’ account of the Kinzer talk was interesting, quite balanced and well written, something that cannot be said of Millet’s rather wooden prose…

    • Gert accuses others of wooden prose …. ROFLMAOWMP.

      Tell us about the fascist – not ‘fascistoid’ – regimes you support, Bridlington Boy.

  10. “With ‘democracy’ this has nothing to do”

    Went the day well, Bridlington boy?

  11. let’s see
    a British lady found the basic knowledge of how to prevent small pox by vaccination from Turkey to England and lo and behold then the evil imperialists standardized the product and saved people by the million

    I think it was the same British lady who found during her visits in harems a kind of cloth she liked very much and took it home to England. The manufacturers there had a look at it, designed special weaving machines and ever since almost all levels of population all over the world enjoy terry cloth towels which once upon a time, hand-made, were only for people with means.

    the benighted Bridlingtonian, hopefully still not succeeding in finding some friends in the community of Pyroenthusiasts, claims to be by profession unless when between jobs of course a chemist. I guess if he’d look around he could find examples of the west contributing to the wellfare of people galore.

    But imperialism is of course so bad that dying of small pox is to be preferred under all circumstances.

    I confess I’d be more worried about imperialism, if the overall human rights’ records of the countries which complain about it would be a little bit better.

  12. Silke:

    It really is a tribute to this blog that it has defenders like you who live in a topsy turvy world in which even imperialism and colonialism have to be pardoned and the human rights records of the countries that were once subjected to colonialism have to be scrutinised more than the actions of the colonisers. No wonder you’re a brainless Zionista.

    I suggest you write to the citizens of the former Belgian colony Congo to inform them that the Holocaust (upper estimate of death toll about 5 million) visited upon them by King Leopold II and his henchmen pales into insignificance compared to the current human rights record of that country.


    That comment of yours goes into my file: it’s just a little too precious to forget when and where it was made.

    • The stark raving bonkers Bridlington Boy spews his standard ignorant nonsense, this time about being ‘brainless’.
      Would you like to inform us when Turkey, for example, was last colonised, dumb Bridlington Boy?
      Oh, and btw, dumbo: calling someone a Zionist is praise, outside the padded cell you so obviously inhabit, that is.
      Went the day well, Bridlington Boy the arbiter of English prose style?

  13. Gert
    how sweet of you to talk to me again and to translate me into unrecognizability. I am glad to learn that this time you haven’t peed onto your precious chair – is the smell from last time gone already?

  14. It isn’t hard to find examples of wonderful people that, even in the context of imperialism or colonialism, did marvellous things, either as colonisers or as the colonised. But by and large the colonisers didn’t trot out to the farthest corners of the globe to ‘do good’ (although some useful idiots like missionaries probably did believe that). Colonisation was a ruthless pursuit of wealth, organised theft by means of war. Your ancestors had a stab at it too but thankfully failed miserably but not without exterminating about half of European Jewry…

    • Gert

      you dumbwit I am not talking of individuals

      – I am talking of “evil” profit-greedy industrialists who brought vaccines to the world and the comfort of terry cloth towels to boot.

      • get your facts right, my ancestors exterminated half of the world’s Jews

      • You can’t expect Bridlington Boy to pay attention to facts.

        One wonders why he comes here. On each visit, he is shown up to be a dumb, ridiculous ignoramus.
        Does he enjoy it?
        Is he a masochist?

  15. BTW, the human rights record (had such a thing existed) at the time of the two successive waves of colonisation of the colonisers back home in their own metropoles would have left very much to be desired by today’s standards. If the West eventually developed more benign systems of governance then rest assured that that is almost exclusively due to people of a progressive persuasion, not reactionary airheads like you (or ‘Yoni’)…

    • Err, Yoni is my time, moron.

      From the pen of our resident expert on English style:

      “With ‘democracy’ this has nothing to do”

      His more recent posts are not exactly beacons of prose excellence either, strewn as they are with misspellings and assorted howlers, but the above is quite unusually dumb.

    • and who gave them the money to transform their good intentions into good works ???????

      who financed Marx?
      Engel’s employer the evil industrialist …

  16. profit-greedy industrialists

    The profit greedy industrialists have reaped their rewards, no point in defending them. But if you’re talking about pharmaceuticals these companies are almost systematically more interest in brewing expensive drugs for consumption by countries that can afford them than to mass-produce cheap medicine that could save millions of lives in poverty stricken areas of the world. Saints they’re not…

    • Gert
      wake up today you are too low level ridiculous to amuse me enough so that I give you a good whipping for free and thus spare you the expense for a professional to give you what you obviously crave so much.

  17. Yoni

    Does he enjoy it?
    Is he a masochist?

    that has been my theory way back then. Daniel was reminded by him of the kid in the school yard nobody wants to play with. We operated on that basis for quite a while (it is better to cooperate based on a unifying theory;-) and became ever more successful insofar as Gert promised to quit forever and ever faster and faster in each round.

    But today he is so boring that I’ll think I just ignore him until he wakes up and puts a bit of effort into his stuff. He can’t do much better than this, but a little is within his reach.

  18. I’m now fully expecting Silke also to come up with the ‘positive aspects’ of the slave trade and slavery. Or Nazism, why not? IG Farben gave us a lot of modern day dyes, did it not? And much more interesting assorted chemistry…

  19. In the case of Silke, the apple really didn’t fall far from the tree…

  20. and I trust that Gert will now tell us all about modern day slavery and the areas where it is still going strong. Also he will tell us of the participation of the noble Arabs in the Slave Trade from way back when they left their desert.

    Gert, Gert, you are really losing it, the slave trade is the last subject where the west is alone in looking really really bad, maybe with the exception of your own dear Belgian king and because I wanted to do you a favour I have finally finally found a printable and thus readable version of this text
    As you don’t click, here’s what you’ll miss

    King Leopold’s Soliloquy:

    A Defense of His Congo Rule

    By Mark Twain