Sunday, 5 July 2009

Iran

Last night I watched a very interesting series on BBC Four called Iran and the West, this was all about Iran from the lead up to the revolution to just after Obama’s inauguration. I was fascinated by it as for me it put the whole situation around Iran into greater context, especially considering the recent events in the country.

 

In this entry I am going to talk about some of the key events in Iran’s history and express my personal opinion upon the matter.

First I need to talk abut the Shah, now this was essentially the King of Iran up until around 1979. Now whilst I am a supporter of any monarchy style government (primarily the Britain early to mid 20th century) the Shah was abusing his power, democracy was severely undermined meaning the people were not free despite the rise of western and American culture seeping into the country, enraging religious leaders. These instances were mostly responsible for the uprisings that followed, although we have to also consider the expulsion of Ruhollah Khomeini who was the prominent critic of the Shah and called for change. During the majority of the uprisings against the military Khomeini remained in France, much to the anger of the French President. Facing pressure and stress the Shah left Iran for a holiday, although never to return. Khomeini used this to return and with the support of the people assumed command of Iran and lead to the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But it was the events that followed that resulted in the formation of the Ayatollah. In November of 1979 students seized the US embassy and took hostage of all those inside. This caused disagreement in the cabinet and lead to the resignation of the moderates, leaving the hardliners full control and with this Khomeini could now assume the role of the supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah.

    

However by standing by and not helping the Americans in gaining the release of the hostages Iran felt some of the force of the US and had strict sanctions imposed, the reality of this meant that it was near impossible for Iran to purchase military supplies. This would be detrimental in the coming months. Although eventually the American hostages were released 13 months after they were first captured, but not until Carter was replaced by Reagan as President for less than 5 minutes!    

On 22 September 1980 Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraqi army to invade Iraq! And guess whose help he got (although indirectly) America and the UK! Oh how times change! The war between Iran and Iraq went on for 8 years with over 1 million people being killed! During this time the UN did arrange a cease fire with the support of Iraq, however it did not explicitly call for the withdrawal of Iraqi soldiers. But even though Iran was suffering heavy losses the Ayatollah declined the peace offer which meant the war continued… Eventually President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was able to convince the Ayatollah to admit defeat.

In 1997 the moderate reformist Mohammad Khatami became the new Iranian President. This was great news as for one he was not the choice of the Ayatollah and was also the main choice of the educated of Tehran. More importantly though was that he wanted to open up relations with America and the West. This was the most significant positive development to occur in Iran since before the revolution. However, the President only has so much power, as the Ayatollah is after all the supreme leader, then there is the cabinet and the various other divisions of power. Khatami allowed more freedom in Iran as well as opening it to the world, in an interview with CNN he made a statement saying that whilst he could not officially promise co-operation directly with the American government (as he knew that if doing so he would find himself out of power very quickly) but by the exchange of culture, business and tourism. Now as there are many restraints due to the overly powerful Ayatollah this was an extremely positive step forward. the first example of this was an Iran v US match of wrestling, despite Iran winning the outcome worked well for both countries and America for once looking good in the eyes of many Iranians. On top of this Khatami had a sense of humour, which helped him seem more amenable to others, such as the Americans. For example during one discussion between him and the Americans the issue that on Iranian missiles the phrase “death to America” was printed upon them, his response was “at least they no longer say death to Khatami”. To me this is a genius move, as it outlines the trouble he faces within his own country from the other divisions of power as well as staying on good terms with America.

However the 21st century changed things. First was the appointment of the then new President George W Bush. What was shocking for me to discover was that during the early days of the Afghanistan conflict Iran was actually giving America intelligence on Afghanistan! Of which was actually useful and helped lead to the installation of a new government (although the success of this as we all know has not been good). But then 9/11 happened, this was when suddenly W Bush became a war time President and his whole attitude and actions changed. This as we all know lead to the invasion of Iraq. Why Iraq? We all know the “facts” but none the less the coalition went ahead, but did you know that Iran was willing to help! Considering Iraq caused considerable damage to Iran in the 80’s they wanted to get revenge, but America turned them down, not due to the fact that revenge acts can be detrimental, just simply because they felt they didn’t need Iran, even though they were calling for all countries to help? Then Bush made his classic Axis of Evil speech, which included Iran. Now for years this required no second thought, but considering when Bush came into power Iran currently had its most moderate President it had had since the revolution. So why include Iran in the list?

 

This was only the beginning though as now Iran wanted to produce nuclear power, but the west feared that this was just a cover so that they could create nuclear weapons. As a result the world put its foot down and did all it could to prevent Iran from producing nuclear power. This defiance lead to the election of the hard liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad continually expressed his discontent of America and Western ideals as well as flaunting their increasing armoury, oh and not forgetting that he denies the holocaust and wants to bomb Israel into the ground! So whilst this crazy lunatic is in power there is no co-operating with Iran!

 

But of course there was the hope that he would be replaced during the election 3 weeks ago in which many hoped Hossein Mousavi would be victorious. Hossein Mousavi the moderate who wants to open up negotiations with the West as well as being supported by the educated middle class (feels like I’m repeating myself…), but apparently he did not win, well that’s what the official sources are still standing by, and as you all know lead to the protests that are still going on. These protests though are different to any other previously, this is because the internet has been a big part, especially social networking sites although mostly Twitter. So important has the use of Twitter been in the protests that they actually delayed the scheduled maintenance so as to help the protestors! Now that’s commitment. On top of that thousands of Twitter users around the world (including myself) have changed their Twitter icon green in support of the protestors. Usually I would tell protestors to go home and get on with day to day life, but the situation in Iran is very different. This is because the Ayatollah has too much power as well as the fact he is a religious leader! Religion and politics should not meet, it never works, if a country like Turkey can realise this, why not Iran? On top of this under Ahmadinejad personal freedom has diminished, stricter rules have been put in place with co inside with religious beliefs. So the hope was to remove Ahmadinejad and allow more freedom to the people so that they can prosper in a free society not bound by religious beliefs! That is not to say that they should all give up their beliefs, even the Iranian people do not want this, but the difference is how strict people can follow their religion, if woman do not want to cover themselves up, then why can’t they? Or if someone dislikes what the government is doing, then why can’t they Tweet about it? Now to close with a popular statment from the Bush administraion " The options are always on the table!"

 

 

Monday, 13 April 2009

Freedom

First things first, again it has been too long since my last post. The usual reasons apply; coursework, college, other blogs, social and video games. Oh yeah as well as that week in New York. Which was awesome by the way. Now the post…

Whilst I was doing some Politics revision on my eee pc (the best Netbook there is in my opinion) I suddenly basked in the freedom that it gave me. The ability for one to do my work anywhere in the house, then I remembered all the Photography work I have done on the train. It’s not that I have suffered memory loss, but it is the concept that suddenly became all so apparent. This lead me to thinking of something I could right about here for this very blog.

Freedom, something that here in the West we consider we have, whereas elsewhere it is thought of as not being the case. But what is freedom? Whilst I was on a tour in the United Nations in New York (although technically it is international territory) the Chinese person giving the tour kept on pointing out how important self-determination is. This person knowing we were British liked to point out how we were behind all of this. Does self-determination necessarily mean freedom though? One of the main countries that many people feel should govern itself is Tibet. People often complain that the Tibetan people do not have enough freedom. What people forget is that the ruling country China does not give freedom to its main inhabitants. After all China is still communist. Surely China aren’t going to give Tibet more freedom than it will give its own people. So what people really need to campaign for is more freedom for Chinese citizens, then more freedom can flow down to Tibet. Then again the likely hood of either happening is quite slim.

Then again people complain about the lack of freedom in countries like China, but what about here in the UK? We currently have one of the most paranoid governments since WW2, at least back then they actually had a reason to be suspicious. Yes there is the “constant threat of terrorism” but there are boundaries. And Jacqui Smith just loves to cross them. She is the one who wants to watch every single British resident. That means monitoring our every movements, reading ever text, email, Instant Message and listening to every phone call that we make. Our internet privacy is more under threat from our own government than cyber criminals. I thought we lived in a free democracy, some left wing Authoritarian state.

I know the classic argument that if you know you’re not doing anything wrong then you should have nothing to worry about. I can’t really agree with that, as it conflicts with my love for freedom of speech. What if I want to make a joke heavily condemning the government? And then linking them to terrorists? Like I am doing now…

Monday, 5 January 2009

Conformity/Trends

First I would like to start by apologising for not writing an entry for quite some time. This is mostly due to not having the time, and when I did I had nothing to write about... (Yes that is quite a lame excuse) Oh yes, and my other blog as well Thoughts of a British Gamer.

Anyway time the blog. And for this entry it is about something which has been annoying me for quite some time, but also recently doing analysis somewhat for my Communication and Culture coursework. And as the title suggests is about Conformity. But I will be going about it slightly differently. Now conformity in recent times when coming from my generation is often about the stereotypes that are chavs, emos, goths etc. But for this specific time I am using it to apply to the "normal person" the kind of person that wears jeans and a t-shirt kind and for the other sex, um well the non whorish kind... Anyway I have found there is a recent phenomenon (well down here at least), which is the sudden mass uptake of wearing Superdry clothes. Now originally they were being sold in one of the shops in Plymouth, which meant that the people who wore it was more diverse and spread out due to the catchment area that Plymouth is to shoppers. But I was unaware this "brand" existed until I noticed that a quarter of my Economics class were all wearing similar Superdry jackets. But I dismissed this as they are mostly stereotypical jocks that do law/business. But then I noticed so many more people around college wearing similar Superdry jackets, the reason why I am saying similar so much is because they are all practically the same!! I mean does this company not know how to make different styles? Now, the reason why Superdry has exploded at my college, because they opened a whole Superdry store in Truro! Right in the very centre of the city. Now to me this is very reminisant of a recent South Park episode in which everyone becomes "vamp" which is essentially emo. And why, because a Hot Topic opened up, so they all conformed and dressed the same just because it was cool and "in". And I expect everyone got Superdry because they thought it was cool and expresses who they are. No! Just no, you are all wearing it because you know someone else who has, and you just want to be like them and fit in. Well you can all go ahead and look the same and be lame. Whilst the rest of us will wear clothes. Yes clothes that yes another person somewhere in the college probably owns, but that is one or two out of 4000, so it doesn't matter, and we can live our lives ij the comfort that we are an individual!

Right, that's enough about stupid Superdry, now onto those bloody Palestinian/Hamas style scarves. Now this is not a rant about the Palestinians or Hamas, and due to the current situation with Israel practically invading, I don't feel it is appropriate either. Then again I did go against Tibet, but oh well.
But it is the English people who wear these scarves that annoy me. Why? Because the scarves have a symbolic message associated to them. Which is the fact that they are pro Islam, Palestine, Gaza, Hamas and anti Jewish and Israeli. And I really doubt that any of the English people who wear them are supporting this idea, or even have any idea what they are actually saying by wearing a scarf which in this country has absolutely no benefits attached to wearing it! Oh sure "it's cool and stylish", well so is a normal scarf!

Now after essentially having finished this entry it has become apparent that this is more about stupid trends than simple conformity, hence the dual title. Now do i think all trends are bad? No, as after all the 90's were full of them, and i am proud to say I followed most of them, such as Pokemon (which is still awesome), Yo-Yo's pogs etc. Yes there is hypocrisy in what I am saying, but isn't there always. But it is the context that is always different.

So remember, if you are feeling the cold this winter, and need to buy some new clothes to keep you warm here's some advice, stay away from Superdry and Palestinian scarves!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

US Elections 2008 (The Results)

Here I am as promised, 5th November (although coursework almost prevented this). The majority of the results have been released and Barrack Obama has won! There was a sigh of relief around the world after hearing this superb news. There are only a few nations in the world which aren’t exactly happy about this result, Israel to a degree, Georgia as they got on well with the Republican and feel they are more likely to defend them and the Philippines who are being helped by US forces to combat Islamic rebels. But apart from that the world got the US President it wanted. What more can I say? If the lection didn't go Obama's way global opinion of America would have plummeted to an all time low, and minority citizens will be outraged feeling that their one hope had been taken way from them.

But thankfully none of this has happened. So what does this mean? Well it does prove that anyone can be President of the United States of America (as long as you were born in the country, fair enough). And it also vindicates the battle black Americans have been fighting for over many, many years. In terms of policy, well we all know there will be no social conservatism. Good, as this was a plague upon America, I saw too many clips on TV of McCain supporters calling Obama a baby killer just because he wasn't pro life... But on the other hand he is not a socialist! I repeat he is NOT a socialist. Yes I will admit he will probably be the most "left wing" President America has had for a long time. But simply all that means is he will either be of the Centre or just right of centre. And in the global economic times, I see no problem at all with this, and so it seems America as well.

I managed to watch Obama's victory speech on the BBC and it was an inspiring speech. It was whilst watching this that it finally sunk in that Barrack Obama was President of the USA. He wasn't promising teh world, but what he did promise was change. Yes We Can!

Lets just hope he isn't assassinated...