(Note: Apologies for the broken links. We are working on fixing them now.)
What will become of us without barbarians?
Those people were some sort of a solution.
– C.P. Cavafy, "Waiting for the Barbarians," trans. by Evangelos Sachperoglou
When it comes, it will come quickly. No big build-up, no new "roll-out of the product." The groundwork has already been laid, the specious casus belli already embraced, enthusiastically, by Congress. Proposed legislation to "compel" Bush to seek Congressional approval for an attack will be ignored, just as Bush blatantly ignores any Congressional stricture he dislikes. If he decides to launch an attack on
The attack will probably be a limited one at first, with the immediate "reasons" being offered up afterwards or in media res. After all, who is going to seriously question the Commander-in-Chief when our brave boys are in the air over enemy territory in
They had parliamentary elections in
After all, they fought long and hard to get rid of the moderate government of former president Mohammed Khatami – spurning Tehran's extraordinary offer in 2003 of complete cooperation on nuclear safeguards, helping establish security in Iraq, ending armed support for Palestinian militias, cooperating against terrorism, and recognizing Israel. Instead, the Bushists hoped for a more demonizable figure whom they could use to "justify" their goal of establishing a pliable client state in the oil-rich, strategically located land. And just as with their openly stated wish in 2000 for a "new Pearl Harbor" that would "catalyze" the American public into supporting their radical imperialist program, they got lucky again with the election of Ahmadinejad – a sinister clown made to order for scaremongering propaganda, even though his actual powers are quite limited. Any development that complicates the cartoon, such as the recent elections, is bad for business.
And make no mistake, the Bush faction's predatory designs on
But who will be killed in the attack on
It is these mad, maniacal, frothing zealots who will die in any attack, most people think – when they consider the matter at all. One might oppose a strike on practical grounds, of course, as Admiral William Fallon, recently removed as head of U.S. Central Command, allegedly did; but not from any concern over the fate of those "ants," as Fallon described the Iranians, in a perfect encapsulation of the general consensus.
Even at the time of their creation, these images were gross exaggerations of Iranian society; today they are wildly absurd, even hallucinatory in their lack of connection to reality. Consider just one fact: almost 70 percent of
This week in the Observer, Peter Beaumont provided an insightful portrait of young
The rules of the coffee houses - in comparison with the street - reflect the fundamental division in
. It is not the divide between the 'Reforms' and the 'Principalists' of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who competed for Iran 's parliamentary elections on Friday. For many of the young… those elections represented an increasingly irrelevant distinction in a clerical system they feel is stacked in favour of itself. Instead, the division is between what Iranians do and say in private, or in places where they feel comfortable, and how they are forced to behave in public. Iran
The inevitable tension between the two is defining the boundaries of the country's culture wars. For it is here, rather than in the polling booths, that
's most crucial competition is taking place - over the limits of what is acceptable self-expression. It is the struggle to push the boundaries of freedom in Iran . Iran
, it is visible in the girls who wear their scarves pushed far back on their heads, hair springing free, faces heavily made up or tight jackets worn over their knee-length mantles in a challenge to the system. Even those attempting to push the boundaries insist that, despite the image of Tehran in the West as virtually a totalitarian regime, Iranians enjoy more freedoms than they are credited with. Two of those are Sohrab Mahdavi, editor of the online Tehranavenue.com, and his friend Ramin Sadighi, a musician and director of a record label, who are involved in a project to bring more music into public places. Iran
'The crucial thing to understand about
,' said Mahdavi, 'is that we do have freedoms. The important issue is the separation between public and private space in Iranian life. Since the revolution, public space has been tightly controlled [by the clerical authorities], so people have created their own "public spaces" in private. A consequence is that what is acceptable in private is now constantly in the process of trying to nibble away at the controlled public arena.' Iran
'And you have to bear in mind,' said Sadighi, 'how youthful the population is here. They are the fruits of the system in many respects. But they are going in an opposite direction to it. There is no social movement that is represented by them - and I think that is probably a good thing for the future of Iran - but what is happening is that people have joined together to form small colonies of interest.'
It is a business that is explained by a young Iranian teacher. 'In the private space, you don't have to hide yourself. There are no restrictions. No boundaries. On what I read. What I believe. What I want to know.'
These "islands of freedom" – as yet unconnected into a larger movement, still under threat – will be destroyed by an American attack and the subsequent, inevitable strengthening of the hardliners – or, in the extreme case, the subsequent collapse of Iranian society into the kind of murderous chaos Bush and his Establishment enablers have inflicted on Iraq.
These are the people who will die – innocent, young, hopeful, human – in any attempt to extend the militarists' empire of corruption and domination ever deeper into the oil lands.