A Farcical Story: The Bizarre Relationship between the USA and Iran.

The bitter relationship between the United States and Iran has been agonizing to watch and live through, especially if you are suffering under economic sanctions due to this mutual animosity. During the better part of 35 years, with no official diplomatic relations, the Iranian and American governments have miraculously worked around the idea of a possibility of rekindled relations, at least in the near future.

The outrage against American foreign policy arguably began in the midst of revolutionary fervour in 1979, when a group of Iranian hardline students stormed the US embassy, and took Americans hostage. Ever since, during annual commemorations marking the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran (Nov. 4th 1979) groups of supporters of the regime, chant symbolic slogans such as “Death to America”. The United States for its part always responded with geopolitical manoeuvre along with political and economic sanctions in order to pressure the Iranian regime. 

However, the story only became interesting when a grieving and fiery United States of America, led by George W. Bush, gave Iran a taste of its own medicine, by calling it part of an “Axis of Evil”. The Iranian regime took offence, apparently since they believed that “Death to America” clearly doesn’t mean anything, since countries cannot die, and are not living things and do not have parents. But, labeling a country at once part of an “Axis of Evil”, after years and years of “Death to America” were deemed uncalled for, unjustified, and unforgivable.

So, Iran decided to ramp up it’s nuclear program, with more tenacity and research in order to protect itself from a possibility of an imminent strike by the United States. It was not a time to feel secure in Iran, because if there was one President who could by chance mistake an ‘N’ for a ‘Q’  due to a lack of ‘IQ’, not knowing the difference between Iran and Iraq, it would have been ‘W’. But, of course, in all seriousness, there were well trained, men and women with expertise, who could well advise the President, which country is Iraq on a map, which country has a nuclear weapons program, etc. And, of course, they did a great job.

The Iranian nuclear program evidently went under the radar, quite literally, after 2003. Seeing the result of Saddam Hussein’s fate, Iran slowed down its ambitions and proclaimed even more strenuously that its nuclear program was merely for ‘peaceful purposes’. The Iranian government has played an almost purposely ambiguous role in trying to extend ‘talks’ and meanwhile use this latest ‘argument’ (like a divorced couple) to settle some issues, and maybe see their mutual interests and quite faintly but possibly rekindle a relationship.

The US government for its part, does not mind ‘negotiating’ to settle past disputes with Iran, so long as the Iranian government does not say one thing and do another. Now, you see why it looks like marriage counselling? Iran’s government wants financial security, and stability, while the US wants Iran to stop talking behind its back and acting all tough. They also have relatives, called senators and congressmen (USA), and Members of Parliament (Iran), who are still bitter about every little thing the other party has ever done! So, even if the relationship is rekindled, it would be rocky and at best spiteful.

Then, what is Iran doing in the meantime? The Iranian leaders are trying to figure out a way to sell a novel idea to their most hardline supporters, which is, to cooperate with the USA in some matters of foreign policy and other issues in a conservative and pragmatic manner, may not be a bad thing. It is difficult to do that, hence the reason why there has been ‘no deal’ struck, and it is yet again postponed to July 2015.

It is quite clear what the dilemma is for Iran: The government is well aware that it thrives on political tension and economic disarray in order to survive since the people would constantly live in fear and need. But that is not the problem. Iran’s regime has implemented and maintained this status, and managed quite magnificently since its inception. The issue is that Iran now wants to alter this strategy, and wants to become a more economically friendly and politically cooperative country with especially Western states. These relations may certainly not occur immediately with the United States for example, but Iran has shown interest in ameliorating its relations with Western countries. Iranian President Hassan Rowhani actually met with British Prime Minister David Cameron in September 2014, the first of any official meetings between the two countries after 1979.

Thus, Iran is buying time, not necessarily to build a nuclear bomb as is the propagated rhetoric these days, but to warm up the hearts of those hardline elements within the Iranian regime that are still cold and bitter about anything and everything. It is the current Rowhani administration’s mission to ease the tensions by continuously extending the talks, in order to prove that cooperation and peaceful dialogue is possible. But, Rowhani also needs President Barack Obama’s help. This would lead to more necessary cooperation. 

With the terror of ISIS in Iraqi and Syrian land, Iran is showing its power and military might be joining in airstrikes against ISIS targets. This, in effect, has helped Iran show its ‘stance to fight against extremism’ and to cooperate, however unofficial and isolated it may be, along with other Western states who have joined in the same fight. This display of Iranian military power has allowed Iran to present itself once again as a force, but a force that fights ‘evil’. It cannot thus, be part of any axis of evil, but part of a coalition that fights extremism, opts for dialogue and cooperation, with all countries.

At least, that’s the image Iran wants to sell. We just have to see who’s buying it… 

Life is a Ship

Life is a ship that sails. It begins off the docks at your first moments of life, and moves forward with no map. For the first few years, there seems to be no ship, and no sea. One may feel lost and confused, and merely at the mercy of others. But it is in fact true that we sail along, at first, unaware of anything, and anyone. Our destiny is primarily determined by our initial experiences, through the captains of our ship, our parents.

Through powerful winds of change, and numerous storms, our parents teach us how to navigate, so we hope; how to manage, and cope. It is their experiences that we trust. No choice, we tell ourselves, we must. Then we learn of the patterns, and we learn of random events that shake everything around us, and bring discord.

We try to seek for ways to bring stability, to read a map with superb ability. To bring about a passage, to bring an end to fragility. It is I that learned to captain this ship, it is I that knows the meaning of hardship. I sought my parents for help find my way. Soon I realized, their path was routed to this route, to this day. I was the result of my experience, my parents’ intuition and their lack of experience.

I am in awe. Of what’s gone thus far, Sometimes I wish I foresaw. But it wouldn’t be life, would it? …If we already knew the draw.

So we sail along, and sail along. It doesn’t really matter if we’re right or wrong. The experience is the destination, and the rest remains in our imagination. Because, life is a ship that sails. Love the sea, love the ship, and you won’t fail.

“Hello and Goodbye” [poem]

The air is brisk cold. The polarity is wide. Wisdom is scarce, and disparity on the rise.

An age passes in a year. Some shed for the masses a tear. Yet nothing seems to change, little within our grasp, little within range. Holding a wish for eternity. Hoping it breeds fraternity.

Wealth holds sway, the power to persuades us, while dreams stand idle or seem to evade us. Passion is used to dissuade us. Often forgetting about ourselves in the present, and what made us.

Change comes within, they say. Work hard and the world will be yours one day. It’s true. We fought together one day, you and I. There were no worries of truths or lies. We took pleasure a midst our hellos and goodbyes.

We stood united, we fell divided, but we never gave in to power. Now, we are concerned with what we can sell by the hour.

But what is a world together, without you and I. What is a world at all without a hello and goodbye?

Legal Procedure in VAW Cases: Where does the law stand?

Violence against women is a serious issue all around the world that must be dealt with full force and careful analysis. It is difficult to uphold a legal balance when a man is accused of an abhorrent act such as violence toward a woman, sexual or otherwise. Such cases must be carefully investigated, and individuals proven guilty of such heinous crimes must be kept from committing these acts of violence ever again.

Due to the history of violence against women and the inequality between the genders, we have established a “compensation-based” legal system. This means that we are living in an age where our legal/judicial system constantly attempts to “amend” or make amendments to laws once bred systemic acts of violence to women, religious/ethnic minorities, and homosexuals. All these attempts and intentions for equalizing our rights as individuals and citizens of society are well and correct. However, from a legal point of view, as long as our justice system provides legal context merely for amending its historical neglect and past mistakes, it cannot provide a truly equal society for all.

I would like to discuss one particular pillar of our justice system that acts as the vehicle to safeguard our rights and preserve our equality before the law. This would be the fundamental principle that we are all “innocent until proven guilty”. Now, in our judicial system it is important to be mindful of its true meaning. What this principle provides us is the right of an accused to due process and legal procedure, wherein the accused must defend the allegations brought against him or her, but more importantly, it is incumbent on the prosecution to prove the accused as guilty of the charges. These are procedures in our legal system we have used for many years in order to give a fair and unbiased judgment based on evidence provided.

The legal system we have today however, with all the procedures and functions of our constitution and our amended individual rights,  in my view, is still flawed. For example, there are some cases where law and reason are apprehended by public sentiments and expectations of the law to keep its vow to compensate for historical neglect and “legal-malpractice” against oppressed women and minorities. What the law needs is an unbiased point of view, clearly. But today, due to our justified sensitivities and historical baggage regarding such topics as violence towards women, the law seems to be inept in properly dealing with and assisting accusing parties of rape, while properly protecting the rights of the accused of such serious allegations.

With the advent of the age of social media and easily accessible information circulation, the law has taken a back seat in properly addressing these serious matters. When an individual is accused of a crime, he or she is accused yet “innocent until proven guilty”. But in matters of rape and violence against women, due to the sensitivity of the matter, the law seems to retreat and thus the accused becomes “guilty until proven innocent”. I say the law retreats because it allows for anyone to accuse an individual of such serious allegations, without protection of the accuser or the accused in this matter.

There have been numerous cases where women have been too intimidated to go to the police to report matters of sexual violence, and many have looked for alternative channels, such as the media. The law must directly provide mechanisms and programs for police to follow to make women more comfortable in seeking the police in the advent of such horrific incidents. This neglect by the law also neglects the accused, since the accused has little recourse to protect his or her rights especially if the accusations are completely false and without merit. With the age of advanced communication and new age technology, one can go from “zero to hero”, or “hero to zero” in a matter of tweets.

Thus, it is incumbent upon our judicial system to devise certain procedures and policies in dealing with such allegations, considering the repercussions for the individuals involved. It is the duty of the law to be fair and balanced when dealing with arguably the most sensitive issues in society. For our judicial system to remain inactive in these circumstances is to the detriment of our justice system, and our democracy.

Although, it is a preliminary thought, I propose certain rules or regulations to be followed when encountering such sensitive issues. I hope it can help in providing a basic idea as to more complex solutions to be structured into our legal system to better protect all individuals and provide equal treatment to men and women before the law.

I propose:

1) There be a publication ban on allegations of sexual violence against an individual accused of such charges until the accused has faced the charges in a court of law and has been proven guilty in court.

2) There be better programs available to victims of sexual violence, to make it safer and more confidential when approaching the police. Since, the main obstacle to approaching the police seems to be a media backlash, again, all such allegations must be protected from media reports, until an investigation has taken place and allegations have been proven to be true.

3) As mentioned, it shall be illegal for media outlets to publish accusations of sexual violence since it is not yet proven in a court of law. Such allegations have serious consequences for all parties involved, especially the accused, and thus, the rights of all parties must be protected at all times. The repercussions would and should consist in allowing the accused to sue any media outlet that reports an allegation(s) of sexual misconduct prior to the verdict of guilt or innocence. Any interviews by media outlets of accusers should be banned until the court hears the accuser’s allegations.

Inaccuracies in the New CBS show “Madam Secretary”

The new political drama titled “Madam Secretary” starring Tea Leoni in its title role has generally received positive reviews from critics. In the latest episode titled “Blame Canada”, the story line cleverly navigates been two separate diplomatic tussles that inter-relate in the end. One deals with relations between Canada and the United States, while the other deals with the highly contentious nuclear program of Iran, and a broad commentary on current US-Iran “talks” regarding the nuclear issue.

Although the show does have a good cast and a fairly decent weekly drama on foreign relations, there are some inaccuracies that if corrected, would make for a great show. For example, in the latest episode, an Iranian “diplomat” to the U.N., Mr. Javani, whom we see later in the episode, does not sound Iranian at all. The show seems to cast Iranians to play “Arabs”, and Arabs to play “Iranians”. In the “Pilot” episode of this show, (those who speak Arabic or Farsi would have noticed) one of the prisoners in a Syrian prison was pleading in FARSI when dragged on the floor about to be tortured in a Syrian prison while his captures spoke Arabic.

Now, unless you are American and do not speak any other language, and you speak either Arabic or Farsi, you would have thought that an Iranian had been captured by the Syrians, to be tortured. But of course, that was not part of the story line because, to an American audience, it is not easy to distinguish, especially when they’re usually depicted as angry and incoherent!

One other inaccuracy, that might need to be looked at is the secret deal made the Iranian “diplomat” with the Canadian Ambassador to meet with Madam Secretary. I do not know if the writers of the show are aware that Canada broke off official diplomatic ties with Iran in September of 2012. Thus, Canada-Iran relations are virtually non-existent. So, if in the show, the Canadian Ambassador allows an Iranian “diplomat” into the Canadian Embassy in the USA, one would again question such an act.

If the show “Madam Secretary” bases its plot and weekly episodes on actual world events, then there should be a bit more research conducted. The fact is, the Iranians would have no reason to use the Canadians as the “mediator” between them and the Americans, since in today’s political scene, one could argue that the current state of relations between the US and Iran, although still bitterly contentious, is better than the virtually non-existent relations between Canada and Iran.

Oops.

Also, a show’s success depends on good casting, not “stereotype-casting”. The “Mr.Javani” character was not even close to sounding Iranian, let alone looking like one. But, having said all that, the show does seem to be picking up with each episode and there are signs of developing conflicts and issues stretching beyond news reel soundbites of current news and world diplomacy.

I look forward to better episodes to come.

Politics: The Most Underappreciated Artform

God, I love politics, not for the backstabbing, smear campaigning, double dealings, or its general propaganda. No. I love it because it is about intelligence, and as much as it is about emotional insight. It can be about how you raise an issue or word a phrase, to being about the science of presenting one’s image to possessing emotional gravitas.

To make it in politics, one must have more than one or two sets of skills. It is essential that one be masterful in a wide variety of areas in life. It is essential that one have high self-esteem and self-confidence, utilize their interpersonal skills, have fluency in language to convey a clear message to their audience, and be cognizant of impromptu questions that may lead to mistakes. Those are just the basics.

A political figure must be on a mission. The politician must have a goal. In this realm, therefore, it is not enough for one to attain all the aforementioned skills without a motivating factor. One must work with a motive in politics, like in life itself, in order to reach their audience and achieve a purpose. In essence, if we put aside the negative sides of the prism of politics, think of the best political statesmen, we can see: charisma, motivation, leadership qualities, fluency in language, and courage.

To me, politics is a form of art, and the politician is the painter. If you like their politics, chances are, you like their art work. A politician must paint a good picture for their audience, regardless of the scenery. With their words, the politician must portray an image with subtlety and detail yet render it abstract and vague in the end. A great statesmen possess all the skills I have mentioned and more, to paint an image as though it exists for real, though it may not be so.

Depression: The Cancer It Really Is.

This topic is a bit of a sensitive one to talk about for me. This is because I have been battling it for quite a while, and it is one type of illness that I would like to label as a “cancer (of the mind)”. It is, to me, like a cancer because it eats at your soul little by little and makes you feel smaller and smaller, weaker and weaker day by day. However, the worst part is, that in some cases unlike other types of known cancers, this one can go unnoticed. There are many people who put on a brave face, and smile in the presence of family and friends, yet feel their soul imploding inside.

I believe one who commits suicide, does so when their soul has fully imploded. It is difficult to describe and let alone categorize since there are many different feelings that the victim of this cancer goes through in order to make sense of everything. However, as I mentioned, I firmly believe that depression is a form of cancer. It is capable of crippling you not only physically, but also emotionally, cognitively and spiritually.

In my view, it is time that our medical community labelled this condition as nothing less than a cancer since it is just as life-threatening, if left untreated. In fact, there is research being done currently to see if there is a “depression gene”. If true, It would be like having cancer cells implanted within you from birth. But of course, not all cases of depression are genetic, as many cases are actually related to environmental factors. Nonetheless, if our medical community wants to hear from those who have suffered for quite sometime the effects of this cancer of the mind, I would call on them to take more serious action to find a cure, and consider it officially as: a type of cancer.

One may not be completely physically impaired and suffering from blatantly obvious depleting physical health, but the same if not more important functions of the body, being a persons cognitive ability (ability to think logically to solve problems) and their belief systems may become crippled with depression. The ability to function with simple tasks can be deemed too difficult for the depressed. The physical impairment of the severe forms of depression can mirror the weakened physical and mental abilities of a cancer patient. It is thus important that we see depression in a more serious light, with a more serious approach to treating its patients.

We all know that anyone can be crippled by depression, and regardless of your social class, age, ethnicity, or a blessing of fame and fortune, may not make you immune to it. It is a form of cancer not yet realized as such. It can arrest anyone’s mind and prevent them from taking any steps in a positive path, until it has eaten away at your sense of existence, to possess your mind and body, until you are no longer alive.

Depression is a cancer, and like different forms of cancer, it is curable. So, let’s take more serious action while we can and save more lives in need of dire support.

Fear and Phobia: Among The Political Elite.

There have been countless articles, editorials and books about the oppression of certain governments on their people. From the Machiavellian, to the “good dictators”, to the most evil “Draconian”, to the more modern systems of control (technological age) using complex socio-economic structures, we have theorized how best these types of governments should exercise control by means of laws. In doing so, we have legitimized government statehood, and thought it best to keep the citizens of the state subordinate to the political elite. However, in opposing certain forms of control exercised by government nowadays, we tend to look at the issue of fear from the perspective of the people, only. Let’s now look at the fear that people strike casually against those atop the legal and social hierarchy of society on a daily basis.

The more fear a government strikes against its people, the more it fears its people. Tyrannical governments are generally more fearful and paranoid than their people in any society, although they hide it very well. Their leaders have more to lose and have arguably spent more time and hardship to reach that point of social status in society (unless you were an heir to a thrown, of course, then little effort was needed). They struggle for years at times and sometimes endure prison sentences, forced to be exiles, or simply labelled and condemned as outlaws of society.

Depending on their personal predispositions, some aspiring political leaders become fighters for freedom and strive for something beyond themselves. But once they reach that stage, it seems they become intoxicated by their own words and lose purpose. Furthermore, as we all know, not all of us are perfect individuals and we are not fully immune to self-indulgence and material gain. Thus, political leaders may strike fear into the eyes of their people knowing full well, exactly how much there is to lose. They may constantly be reminded of their painful past, and will do anything to protect themselves and their families from experiencing those pains again in the future.

Another point to remember is that it is not only dictatorships that cause leaders to use force and evil mechanisms of control to remain in power. In countries that have laws that protect the rights of ordinary citizens, it becomes difficult for leaders to use their powers to directly strike fear in the eyes of their people. However, they do use instead the “external threat” strategy or policy, which is used by many countries in the developed world as a means to suppress internal dissent or disunity in order to better achieve their political objectives.

Whether it is a dictatorship or a democracy, in the end, each political leader has his or her own agenda, so does each political party, and finally each country in furthering and solidifying their security and power. Within this dynamic, power breeds totalitarianism or, effectively, the need for supreme authority. In other words, there will always be the need to gain more power, constantly. This feeling that one must gain more power in order to guarantee their security and the security of the nation comes from fear.

But one must remember that the people do strike fear in the eyes of their leaders more so than one might think. The people are always more powerful than they think they are. Whether a political leader is a “dictator”, or a democratically elected leader, their job becomes heavy. They must carefully uphold a political system, maintain and protect a reputation, provide a future for their children, whether or not they remain in power; have on the back of their minds that any day, ‘I may be betrayed, setup, plotted against or assassinated!’

Ever wonder why US Presidents’ hair go grey so fast?

Politics Is Bad If We Want It To Be

What is politics? If we walk down the street almost anywhere across the globe and we ask this question, the majority would probably give it more negative connotations than positive ones. They would say that it’s about “manipulation”, “deceit”, and “power”, among other things. Granted, they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, especially with almost all the news that we are fed. But if we look deeper into the issue, we see that politics is possible only when one side is uninformed, weak, apathetic, or inactive. The truth is, we, as a people, bring politics on our selves. If we as citizens become more informed and less apathetic, more engaged and less complacent, politicians wouldn’t find it so easy to govern the way they want as opposed to the way we want. A truly democratic state depends on its people looking at its politics more POSITIVELY.

Part of the reason for our pessimism and negativity is because we think we have a say in our system, but we don’t because we’re not so active and thus get disappointed when politicians don’t make policies that serve our needs. If we change our outlook on politics, we can see it as a place that can generate hope, security, wealth, and understanding, not in the material or spiritual sense, but in an intellectual sense. So let’s educate ourselves and then we have no reason to be pessimistic and feel like running out of the room when we hear the word politics.

If you were waiting for a definition of politics, you are unfortunately mistaken. I think definitions change through time and are not at all definitive. My hope is that we change the definition of politics in our minds for a more embracing and positive one without setting boundaries of what it means or what it could mean exactly. True democracy depends on our outlook. Now it is up to you to decide.