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In the Name of God بسم الله

Why Doesn't The Us Talk To Iran?

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This is long, but please read it. I wanted to bold some parts of it, but then changed my mind because I would be bolding every other sentence. I decided to put the questions in bold, to break up the long interview. Please read this. You won't be sorry that you spent your time on it. If you want peace, this is one group's mission and how they go about implementing it. Please pass this on to your family and friends. Be sure to click on the link to the news story and copy the complete address from the browser at the top of the page. Or if you don't want to click on the link, click on the Reply to this message button and copy the link that I posted at the very bottom of this message. If you don't want to reply, just back out by hitting the Cancel button.

US author: I've come to appreciate Iran

Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:46AM

Press TV's interview with Phil Wilayto, an ýauthor and activist based in ýRichmond, Virginia


^ Phil Wilayto organized a five-member People's Peace Delegation to Iran.

The following is a rush transcript of an exclusive interview with Phil Wilayto, an author and activist based in Richmond, Virginia.

Wilayto is the co-founder of the community organization of Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality. Wilayto is also the author of In Defense of Iran: Notes from a US Peace Delegation's Journey through the Islamic Republic and a board member of Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).

Press TV : Can you tell us about your peace activities and campaigns in the US?

Phil Wilayto : The Defenders is primarily a community organization and we try to represent the interests of the poor and working people in Richmond, which is a predominately African American city and our membership is predominately African American.

But as we work on the issues of jobs, health, education, housing and so on, we also have to be aware that the government, that supposedly represents us, is acting in ways around the world that is causing problems for other poor and working people and the money they use for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places, is money that could be used at home to improve people's lives.

Therefore, we try to make the connection between the struggles for self-determination of the African American community at home and the struggles of other countries -- like Iran -- to determine their own destiny, free from outside aggression. So for us it is a natural connection between fighting for justice at home and peace abroad.

Press TV : You recently had a CASMII conference organized. Can you tell us about that meeting?

Phil Wilayto : I just participated in it [CASMII conference]. There has been a lull in the activities of the anti-peace movement for the last couple of years.

There are several reasons for that: People got their hopes up because of our presidential election and when Barack Obama was elected, people felt that he represented a fundamental change in policy and that maybe we didn't have to be so active on the issues of war because he had promised to end the wars in Iraq and elsewhere.

When that didn't happen, there was great disappointment. After a year and a half into his presidency, the peace movement has started to show some signs of life again.

There was a national conference called for Albany, New York, on the weekend of July, 23,24 and 25 that was to gather together as many of the peace organizations as possible and try to plan activities for fall and spring. It was expected that maybe about 250 people would show up; instead it was close to 800 people.

At this conference, The Defenders initiated, along with the Fellowship for the Reconciliation and other groups, a resolution to encourage all the peace organizations -- when they oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan -- to also include the demand of no war and sanctions against Iran. And that resolution passed unanimously.

That was not totally unexpected; but a second resolution condemning the Iranian government for internal policies was defeated overwhelmingly because the argument was made successfully that the Iranian people have the right to determine their destiny and the role of the US peace movement, which exists in the country that is threatening Iran, is simply to prevent war and the sanctions and get the US off Iran's back.

So that was a new development -- both in the size of the conference and the politics. It also, for the first time at a national peace conference, called for a complete end to all US military, political and economic support for Israel. That was very controversial; but it did pass with a very strong majority.

Press TV : This is your second trip to Iran, the first being in 2007. What made you think about traveling to Iran despite the "Iran is scary" general perception that is being propagated by the US media? How has your perception changed since?

Phil Wilayto : I do not do a lot of foreign traveling; but three years ago a series of events happened and tension was increasing between the US and Iran, and it looked like there might be a possibility of a US attack and there was a little more interest.

At that time we met members of the group CASMII and one of their members, who used to be a tour guide in Iran and is now an anthropologist and writer based in Washington DC, felt bad that more Americans did not visit Iran and see for themselves the reality of the country.

So he encouraged us to visit. We thought we would bring in about 15 people; but for various reasons, including fear, some folks decided not to come and we came down to five.

However, we had a good delegation. There were two US army veterans, one of them had been stationed in Iraq and now he is president of the board of directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and a woman, who is an environmental activist, and another old friend of mine from Milwaukee, who is a labor activist. So the five of us came over.

It was a tourist trip. We contracted with a local agency and we had an incredibly good guide, who had lived in the US and every day was a lecture on another aspect of Iranian society. As we drove across the desert from Shiraz to Yazd, he said, "Ok, today we are going to talk about Iranian history," "Tomorrow we are going to talk about Iranian religion," "The next day we are going to talk about Iranian politics."

When I came back from the trip, I did a lot of study about Iran and found out he was right. He was fairly self-educated about the topics.

Press TV : What was the most interesting thing you came across during the trip?

Phil Wilayto : Besides the political aspects of it, the fact that Iranian people like Americans. That was so widespread. We didn't have the slightest problem anywhere we went. In the country, everyone wanted to just come up and try out whatever little English they knew.

In Yazd, when we ran into 300 members of the Revolutionary Guard, I was walking behind the other folks in the delegation on the way to visit a wind tower and I looked over and a fellow was walking next to me and he was in green army fatigues and with a beard. He looked at me and I looked at him and he said, "Hello" and asked me where I was from. I said I was from the USA. He then stopped and took the little finger of his right hand and he hooked it around my little finger and he goes "Friends." I thought, "That's interesting!"

We then walked up a little further and we found the rest of our group and our guide talked to the guy for a minute and he [our guide] said the guy was a member of the Revolutionary Guard.

When we came out of the wind tower after our visit, there were around 300 Revolutionary Guard members in front, who were on a tour. They were between us and our van, so we five Americans had to walk through them and when we were walking through them, one of them [Revolutionary Guard members] said, "Hello" and we said "Hello" and he said "Where are you from?" and I am thinking "Canada" but then a member of our group yells out "USA" and all of a sudden they're looking at us; but someone said "Welcome" and they started calling "Peace, Hello, Welcome to our country."

I said to our guide "Tell them why we're here." Our guide told them that we're on a peace delegation to Iran trying to prevent a war and they're listening and they're going "Thank you, thank you." I don't know what would happen if five Iranians tourists ran into 300 Green Berets or Special Forces on a tour in Philadelphia. I don't know what kind of reception they'd get.

What this taught me is this -- and this is what we have been telling the American people: From the school children to the police officers to the college students to laborers to the Revolutionary Guard, no one in Iran obviously has been taught to hate Americans and no one was preparing the Iranian people to go to war with Americans. If the government is teaching children to hate Americans, some of that would pick up; but it wasn't like that at all. I got mobbed in Shiraz by 80 elementary school children -- surrounding me so I couldn't move, yelling, "We love you; we love America, Welcome." Just because they found that we were American.

Press TV : So Phil, this might be an elementary question, by the way, but I'd like to put it to you anyway; what is really feeding this storm of anti-Iranian media campaigns that are so prevalent in the United States?

Phil Wilayto : It is a coordinated campaign by the government and the large commercial media

Press TV : But large groups of people seem to be buying it; what makes it so believable for them?

Phil Wilayto : We have a very big problem with racism in the United States so there is a predisposition for people to believe bad things about other people.

The Iranian country, the government and people are projected as extremely foreign and different from "Americans" even though Americans are made of all kinds of people, themselves. I mean we have Iranians, we have Muslims and we have every nationality; but Iran's image in the United States is threatening, foreboding, medieval, dangerous, crazy -- and God forbid that they should get the bomb because then it is World War III.

Press TV : Speaking of the bomb, do you really think that Iran is after the A-bomb? And if not, why?

Phil Wilayto : I have a lot of friends, who said Iran would be crazy not to try to have the bomb; but as someone at the Tehran peace museum, a veteran of the eight-year war, told me three years ago, "If we had the bomb, they would leave us alone; if we try to get it, they are going to attack us." So that is a practical consideration; but these are the facts...

Press TV : ... And this was the time when the official opposition of the Iranian government -- as well as the Iranian leadership -- was that first of all, religiously we are not allowed to even think of that, and secondly, politically it is not useful and correct to have it, so it is out of the question and it is being categorically denied. Nonetheless, people over there in the US, the general average public, may not be buying it.

Phil Wilayto : They do not know because of the amount of propaganda. President Ahmadinejad has said Iran does not want the bomb; it wants a nuclear-free Middle East. The leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has issued a Fatwa, a religious edict, saying that nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are forbidden by Islam because they kill innocent people. But the Americans say, "Well of course they would say that."

Iran is the most inspected country in the world as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog, on a constant basis with cameras and visits and then surprise visits, more than any other country in the world and there has never been one shred of evidence that Iran's nuclear program is designed for anything other than the production of energy for peaceful purposes -- electricity -- no proof whatsoever that Iran is trying to develop A-bomb.

So what is the issue? The issue is that Iran is an independent proud sovereign country that happens to control the third largest oil reserves in the Middle East, plays an increasingly powerful and influential regional role in the Middle East, that contains two thirds of the world's known oil reserves, and is an obstacle to the US expansion of power and domination of this very important area of the world and it (Iran) can't be allowed to remain, as in President Obama's words, "defiant." And I would add, defiant of the empire because it is a bad example.

It is not that the US can't live in peace with Iran; it means that it has to dominate it in order to live in peace -- not because Americans are bad people, but because they have an economic system that forces them to be Number One or else they're afraid of being Number 100. They're forced to compete and they're forced to dominate economically because of the internal contradictions of their system.

So the American people are caught in the middle. We don't want war; we don't want the Iraq war; we don't want the Afghanistan war. If we had a real democracy, our wish would be respected, but instead, we're faced with the possibility of a war with Iran that might erupt into to a nuclear war.

Press TV : How serious do you think the possibility of a war is?

Phil Wilayto : Logically, it shouldn't be a possibility. There's no need for it and it would be incredibly dangerous -- and probably set off a series of events that the United States couldn't control. This is not Iraq; this is not Afghanistan. This is a strong, relatively powerful country that has the ability to defend itself and to inflict damage on those who would attack it. Iran has not attacked a country in over 250 years. It isn't threatening anybody. It doesn't hope to have a nuclear weapon and it's not trying to develop one. Its military is set upon the line of defense -- not offense. It doesn't have any nuclear carriers to go buzzing around in Massachusetts or New Orleans or Seattle like the Eisenhower that sits out in the Persia Gulf; but it's a relatively powerful country that could defend itself.

So you'd think the US would say, "We're bogged down and losing two wars already; why do we want a third war?" The problem is the US has backed itself into a corner, the US government. You always have to draw the distinction between the government and the people. It has basically said to Iran, "Your program for nuclear energy is really a cover to develop nuclear weapons and your leadership has threatened to destroy Israel" -- which it has not, but that is what they say -- "and if you get the bomb we're all in trouble so stop enriching nuclear uranium. We recognize you have a right to enrich uranium under international law, but we want you to stop it because it is just a cover for your nuclear weapons." Iran says "No" and so the US says, "Well then we impose sanctions" and then Iran says, "OK" and the US says "Well then we do more sanctions."

Finally what are they [the US] going to do? Here is this gigantic world bully saying to this much smaller country, "You do what we say or you're in trouble," and Iran says, "We're going to do what is right for our country because we're a sovereign country; we don't bow down to anyone; we don't threaten anyone, but we're not going to be susceptible to threats."

At some point, the US has to say, "We'd better back off and find another way to negotiate or we have to follow through with that threat and crush Iran.

They backed themselves into a corner and there's a strong section of the US government that would like to say, "Let Israel do it."

Press TV : The US and EU have unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran. The US has also engineered a Security Council set of sanctions on Iran, the fourth round of which, we're experiencing. Now these sanctions are said to be hurting the Iranian people and economy and they are meant to politically isolate Iran. Do you think Iran will be isolated and will end up giving up its sovereign right to pursuing its civilian-based nuclear program?

Phil Wilayto : Well, there are two questions there; First, do the sanctions hurt Iran? And second, is Iran going to be more politically and economically isolated as a result of the sanctions?

I think the history of the sanctions has shown that Iran has been able to find an opportunity in this challenge and Iran has been able to develop its industry and its technology and its science in order to counteract the effects of the sanctions. So it is probably more advanced in many areas of its economy than it would have been without the sanctions.

I don't think that is enough to say the sanctions are irrelevant. I think sanctions always put some economic pressure on a country. But Iran has taken very careful steps in order to develop relations with other countries. The United States is not the only game in town. Following World War II, it was, without doubt, the most powerful country. And after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it looked around and said, "Wow! We're the biggest kid on the block now and we should run everything."

But there are other global rivals. There's China, there's the European Union, there's Japan and there is, increasingly, India and Brazil -- countries that have the ability to be economic power houses, and while they're observing the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council, they're not necessarily observing the sanctions that were more recently imposed by the United States and the European Union that were directed primarily at the oil and gas industries. So China and Russia are still honoring their economic commitments with Iran.

In the last two weeks that I have been in Tehran, there have been visits by the presidents of Guinea-Bissau in Africa and Cambodia. There has been a meeting between Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and there has been an outreach to Lebanon and the neighboring countries, and also a deepening of relationships with the progressive governments in Latin America.

I just read this morning that Iran is saying, "We're willing to deal with other countries in currencies other than the dollar," countries that can pay with their own currency and Iran will make up the difference if there is a loss of value there in anyway. So basically, they're saying, "Let us have a new world order based on cooperation among countries and not domination by one country."

Press TV : Do you think that America is up to this competition in a world, in which the US is no longer the sole decision maker?

Phil Wilayto : Well, I guess we're going to find out. There've been situations in which western countries were more or less in a balance of power; but countries develop at different speeds and different levels and every time one of them gets more influence or power or resources over another it wants to take advantage of that to expand its control of resources and markets and labor and that was the basis for World War I: re-organization of the world based on competition of the western powers, which is basically the result of the fact that they are based on the free enterprise system; you expand or die.

A capitalist country cannot just stay within its own level of development. It has to expand and compete and dominate other countries or capital will flow to wherever there is the greatest return.

I'm sure Barack Obama is a very nice person. He certainly is an improvement over George Bush; but Mickey Mouse would have been an improvement over George Bush. People like Barack Obama, but he can't change the fundamental contradiction that the United States has to dominate the world's oil supply because it's afraid that it it doesn't some other country will.

It's just like Churchill, who had no great interest in dominating the Middle East after World War I; he just didn't want France to dominate it. So because he didn't want France to dominate it, he wanted England to dominate it. That was before they realized how much oil there was and how important the oil would be to the modern world. It's the question of, 'If I'm not in charge, someone else will be and they'll treat me just like I'd probably treat them, so I'd better beat them first.' It is not a world order that's based on trust, respect and mutual interdependence. It's a world order based on dominance and all you can do in that situation is to remain strong.

So in order to prevent war and sanctions against Iran, Iran must remain strong militarily, Iran must be strong politically, it must be made united internally -- and I do not mean that there should be no decent evolution, or no debate or no progress.

The situation, as I understand it, is that every Iranian would defend Iran and no matter how they feel about the internal politics, they would rally around their country, because that is the history of the country. That was the history of the eight-year war. The American people have no desire for another war. So our job is to pressure our government to say we need jobs; not war with Iran. That's the message we need to get out.

Press TV : Finally, how do you see the future of relations between the US and Iran?

Phil Wilayto : Those of us in the peace movement, who have a little energy and some fire, are going to do everything we can to make sure that the American people have more contact with Iran; that they understand the reality of Iran, understand the incredible complexity of the society and begin to appreciate some of the things I have come to appreciate about Iran -- the warmth and generosity of its people, the fact that the government has a commitment to improving [the lives] of a lot of the poor and working people and a desire for peace.

If we can get that across, maybe we can overcome some of the contradictions in the US system and we want a world that is just and equal and cooperative and peaceful.

Press TV : Thank you for joining us here on Press TV.

Source: http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/139747.html

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This is a question for brother Mahdaviat!

I will not try to act smarter than I am and will just say.

The former colonized people of the world are forced to express themselves and to move up socially, culturally, religiously (even). In terms/legislation, etc predertermined then established in the years theyn were being colonized (brutuly).

They (the people from then on) came into exsistance during invasions injustice etc...as a result are forced into the mold of the colonisits.

Iran resists this (influence) as much as they can, asserting their freedom to be who they are (shia). you will notice all over the world the supremists rejecting any thing 'whole' from any persons/group/party/ country.

Yes to talk with the U.S you must be fragmented (or blasted to bits) speaking meatphorically. Which is why is it then that; every race (which is not european and has been formerly colonised, or 'civilised') needs to have 2 faces the one they show the 'civilised' world and the one they throw away in civilised settings?

So when U.S. says jump ask 'how high' or shove off. thats how it is and thats how its gonna stay!

Anyone fancy representing themselves in whole and facing the consequences? no? I thought not.

Wa Salaam

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That is extremely obvious!

America used to have good ties with Iran, as you all know.

But they overthrew the Shah, who represented American interests.

So how could Americans talk to them, when they destroyed American interest in Iran?

It has nothing to do with Ideology, or Religion.

As long as it's business as usual America doesn't care.

But Iran will not get involved with the Capitalists and Imperialists.

They refuse to sell their nation into slavery.

So that's why America won't talk to them.

Extracting Israel from the Middle East will cause rivers of blood to flow.  

Do you agree with that statement?

It isn't a matter of extraction, it is a matter of replacement.

How did the south Africans get rid of their regime?

Israel doesn't need to be obliterated, just changed.

New Regime,

New Name,

New Laws,

It's called Revolution, if you are unfamiliar.

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