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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Here's one interpretation of Iran's response to Obama's overture... [UPDATE] [UPDATE II]
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Here's one interpretation of Iran's response to Obama's overture... [UPDATE] [UPDATE II]



here's a link to the full text of Khamenei's Speech courtesy of juan cole... believe me, it's a VERY worthwhile read...


i would expect the u.s. media to get all huffy about iran's not-terribly-warm response to obama's overture and to cast it in terms of iran's intransigence...
The Iranian leader's rebuff on Saturday to President Barack Obama's offer for dialogue was swift and sweeping: Words from Washington ring hollow without deep policy changes.

But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response was more than just a dismissive slap at the outreach. It was a broad lesson in the mind-set of Iran's all-powerful theocracy and how it will dictate the pace and tone of any new steps by Obama to chip away at their nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze.

"It's the first stage of the bargaining in classic Iranian style: Be tough and play up your toughness," said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of regional politics at United Arab Emirates University. "The Iranian leaders are not about concessions at this stage. It's still all about ideology from the Iranian side."

For Khamenei and his inner circle, that means appearing to stay true to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the political narrative of rejecting the United States. Any quick gestures by the ruling clerics to mend ties with Washington could be perceived by hard-liners as a betrayal of the revolution.

one other interpretation might be that iran, like so many other countries in the world, no longer has any trust or confidence in anything the u.s. says or does, and has no intention of being caught out again by jumping up and down and saying, "oh, boy, oh, boy, the u.s. wants to talk to us again"...


interestingly enough, juan cole shares my view...
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday, "Of course, we have no prior experience of the new president of the American republic or of the new government, and therefore we shall make our judgment based on his actions."

The US corporate media mysteriously interpreted Khamenei's words as a rebuff to Obama, but in light of the phrase I just quoted, I can't understand how they reached that conclusion. Certainly, he did say repeatedly that Iran has had a pretty horrible experience with the United States, and that it would take more than some nice words to change Iranian minds about Washington. You could say that this was a grumpy old man response to Obama's call for engagement. But you can't call it a rebuff, since Khamenei explicitly says that he has no basis for making a judgment about the Obama administration as yet, and will respond to its actual concrete policies.

Interestingly, the French news agency, Agence France Presse, got the story right, entitling their article, "Iran ready to change if US leads way: Khamenei."

And, the Iranian PressTV had an even more enthusiastic headline: "Iran vows response to real US change."

He said that the Iranian public would be offended if anyone addressed it with a discourse of carrots or sticks. That was when he immediately excused Obama from any such charge, saying the latter had a clean slate.

Elsewhere in the address he pledged, in AFP's translation, "If you change your attitude, we will change our attitude."


Khamenei also warned Obama to listen directly to Khamenei's own words: "Contemplate carefully my words. You must under no circumstances give them to Zionists to translate. Rather, consult with righteous persons." Well, the crack about Zionists is unfair, but Khamenei is obviously correct that his speech will be distorted by the Neoconservatives who desperately want the US to go to war against Iran.

I hope Obama will in fact get a good translation and analysis of the speech, which is far more welcoming of a potential change in Washington, and shows far more willingness to negotiate, than the corporate media in the US are reporting.

i didn't THINK i was trying to give a misguided interpretation to what i perceived to be the standard u.s. media propaganda spin...

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