An Excellent Interview
With Amy Goodman
".....For more on Ahmadinejad's visit, we're joined by two guests. Ervand Abrahamian is an Iran expert and CUNY Distinguished Professor of History at Baruch College here at the City University of New York. He's the author of several books on Iran, co-author of a new book from City Lights called Targeting Iran. And joining me from Washington, D.C. is Trita Parsi. He’s the president of the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian American organization in the United States, author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States.....
AMY GOODMAN: Does this remind you of Saddam Hussein before the war?
ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: It does. In fact, Ahmadinejad didn't say it last night -- yesterday, but his policy is that there is no likelihood of war, because no one in their right senses would think of invading or attacking Iran. And that's the premise he works on, which is, I think, a completely wrong premise, because he doesn't seem to understand American politics, the same people who gave us the war on Iraq, the same people who are running foreign policy now. But he begins from the premise that no one in their right senses would think of attacking Iran......
TRITA PARSI: Israel has for a very long time been a critical factor in America's formulation of a policy vis-à-vis Iran. But what's really interesting is that the influence of Israel has gone in completely different directions, if we just go back fifteen years. During the 1980s, in spite of the Iranian Revolution, in spite of Ayatollah Khomeini’s many, many harsh remarks about Israel, far, far worse than what anything Ahmadinejad has said so far, Israel at the time was the country that was lobbying the United States to open up talks with Iran to try to rebuild the US-Iran relations, because of strategic imperatives that Israel had. Israel needed Iran, because it was fearing the Arab world and a potential war with the Arabs.
After 1991, ’92, that's when you see the real shift in Israeli-Iranian relations, because that's when the entire geopolitical map of the Middle East is redrawn. The Soviet Union collapses. The last standing army of the Arabs, that of Saddam Hussein, is defeated in the Persian Gulf War. And you have an entirely new security environment in the Middle East, in which the two factors, the Soviets and the Arabs, that had pushed Iran and Israel closer together suddenly evaporate. But as their security environment improves, they also start to realize that they may be ending up in a situation in which they can become potential threats to each other. And that's when you see how the Israelis shift 180 degrees. Now the Israeli argument was that the United States should not talk to Iran, because there is no such thing as Iranian moderates.....
AMY GOODMAN: Your book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States. And a final question for Professor Abrahamian: Are you afraid for your people? Are you afraid for the people of Iran?
ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Yes. I’m very much concerned that in the next few months there will be air strikes. I think what we saw before with Iraq, we are having a rerun of that, very much the same rhetoric. The same type of people are pushing for war and using even the same sort of arguments that often -- unsubstantiated arguments blown out of proportion. For instance, the constant drumbeat that Iran is actually supplying weaponry to the insurgents that are killing Americans, this is basically saying that Iran has already declared war on the United States. When you try to actually pin down what is the evidence for that, it boils down to the yellowcake stories and the stuff about Saddam Hussein being behind al-Qaeda. Until the United States actually gets real evidence that Iran is providing lethal weapons to the insurgents, I would not accept any of those arguments at face value......"