Is the World a Safer Place under Trump?

In eight years under Obama, I never went to bed worrying about some unexpected military escalation. Now I worry every day. Why is that?

It isn’t because Kim Jong Un is all of a sudden crazier than he always was. Trump has just given him more fodder to look more important in the world than he is.

It isn’t because Iran has just gone off the rails. Iran went off the rails in 1979, and many previous presidents, since Reagan, have contained Iran. I believe the “Iran deal” was one of the more stabilizing events in the world and one of the more valuable contributions of Obama. But that’s my subjective opinion. Yet, Tillerson talks about Iran being a new danger.

North Korea is what it’s been since the 1950s. Iran is what it’s been since the 1970s. What changed? The U.S. changed in 2017.

Now Trump is telling us that the world is so dangerous, and we need to spend another $50 billion on weapons, while we cut everything else, including diplomacy. A society’s values are defined by what it spends its money on. Trump has hijacked our country, is telling us that suddenly the world is dangerous, and we need more guns.

I say that the biggest threat to the planet, our way of life, our society, and humanity in general, is the petulant, ignorant, self-absorbed dilettante we have elected into the White House.

We are the problem, not Korea or Iran or ISIS for that matter.


Propaganda against Iran in the U.S.

I find it funny how the conservative media ridiculed Obama for how he handled the Iran crisis a few days ago.

The facts appear as this: Two U.S. Navy speed boats, with a total of ten crew members, drifted one mile into Iranian waters, getting within 11 miles of the coast. When the Iranian coast guard approached, the tried to run away, but one of the boats’ engine gave them trouble and they were caught.

To make matters worse, several rescue helicopters from a U.S. aircraft carrier also entered Iranian waters, presumably to help out the boats.

I do not condone the way the Iranians arrested the U.S. sailors and video taped them and broadcast them to the world.

However, imagine for a minute what would happen if two Iranian military speed boats came within 11 miles of Florida. Would the American military go after them?

It seems to me that this was an unfortunate mistake, probably on both sides, and our leadership reacted in a measured manner. The men were free by the next morning. No shots were fired. That was not necessary.

But that’s not what our media portrays. They described this as if the sky were falling.

Donald Trump talks about  the Iranian nuclear agreement as “the worst deal ever.” He keeps talking about the $150 billion the Iranians are getting back as it that were taxpayer money paid to Iran. In reality, the $150 billion are Iranian assets in the United States that were frozen many years ago, that are now being returned.

Meanwhile, the only reactor in Iran that was capable of producing weapons grade nuclear material has been shut down and filled with concrete, as the agreement requires.

Seems to me all is going very well with Iran and the progress is in the best interest of Iran and the United States.


HP, Fiorina and Iran

Carly Fiorina has no problem blasting President Obama for the Iran deal on national TV during the debates. She also had no problem selling HP equipment to Iran bypassing the sanctions when it suited her and her company.

Sales to Iran despite sanctions

Under CEO Carly Fiorina, HP sold over $120 million worth of its printers and computer products to Iran through a European subsidiary and a Dubai-based East distributor, despite U.S. export sanctions prohibiting such deals imposed by Bill Clinton’s executive orders issued in 1995. The story was initially reported by The Boston Globe, and it triggered an inquiry by the SEC. HP responded that products worth US$120 million were sold in fiscal year 2008 for distribution by ways of a company based in the Netherlands, Redington Gulf, and that as these sales took place through a foreign subsidiary, HP denied violating sanctions.

HP named Redington Gulf “Wholesaler of the Year” in 2003, which in turn published a press release stating that “[t]he seeds of the Redington-Hewlett-Packard relationship were sowed six years ago for one market — Iran.” At that time, Redington Gulf had only three employees whose sole purpose was to sell HP products to the Iran market. According to former officials who worked on sanctions, HP was using a loophole by routing their sales through a foreign subsidiary. HP ended its relationship with Redington Gulf after the SEC inquiry.

— Wikipedia

If she really thought Iran was such a terrible threat to the world, why did she sell $120 million worth of high tech equipment to that evil nation?

Where is her patriotism?

The Bigotry of Suzanne Price

This showed up on my Facebook feed today:


I don’t know the woman whispering into Ms. Clinton’s ear, but sitting behind President Obama is Valerie Jarrett. Here are her credentials [source Wikipedia]:

Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman. One of her maternal great-grandfathers, Robert Robinson Taylor, was an architect who is sometimes cited as the first accredited African American architect.

Her father, a pathologist and geneticist ran a hospital for children in Shiraz in 1956, as part of a program where American physicians and agricultural experts sought to help developing countries’ health and farming efforts. When she was five years old, the family moved to London for a year, later moving to Chicago in 1963. Her parents were both African-American; on the television series Finding Your Roots, genealogical research and DNA testing indicated that Jarrett also has French, Scottish, and Native American ancestry. One of her great-grandfathers was Jewish. As a child, Jarrett spoke Persian and French. In 1966, her mother was one of four child advocates that created the Erikson Institute. The Institute was established to provide collective knowledge in child development for teachers and other professionals working with young children.

Jarrett graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon in 1974. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Stanford University in 1978 and a juris doctor (J.D.) from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

I am impressed with Ms. Jarrett’s background and career, regardless whether she was born in Shiraz, Iran.

For comparison, I tried to look up Ms. Price and found nothing but her own Facebook profile, according to which she is the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Director of Social Media at Stand Up America USA. Should I be impressed?

From Merriam-Webster:

Bigot :  a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Based on this definition, and her message above, Suzanne Price is a bigot and she is spreading bigoted messages on Facebook.

Who would I rather have advising the president? Ms. Jarrett or Ms. Price?


Putting Iran into Perspective

There is a general hatred of Iran that festers in the United States. This hatred is constantly stoked by the political right and it surfaces now more than ever, due to the recent nonproliferation talks and the “deal with Iran” that everyone on the right seems to call such a “bad deal” without providing substance as to why.

I was stationed as a soldier at Luke AFB in Arizona in the late 1970s. We were training Iranian pilots in American fighter jets then!

It all came apart in the late 1970s, and on November 4, 1979, under President Carter, the Iranian revolutionists captures 52 American diplomats and took them hostage for 444 days. The hostages were released “coincidentally” the day Reagan took office.

According to Wikipedia:

Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981), after a group of Iranian students, belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who were supporting the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

This is when our hatred of Iran started, over 35 years ago. When it happened, I had Iranian friends from my time as an exchange student. Of course, we lost all contact.

This got me thinking about Iran and its people.

Here is a population chart as of 2011 – which is the most recent data I could find (Wikipedia):

Ages Iran

As of 2011, there were about 75 million people in Iran. It’s by far the largest Middle Eastern country.

About 48 million Iranians, or 64 percent of all of them, or about two-thirds, were born after the hostage crisis. They do not know an Iran of the pre-revolutionary time.

About 62 million Iranians (all those highlighted in yellow) were about 15 years old or younger or not born at the time of the revolution. That’s a full 83 percent who were either children or not even born then.

Only 17% of all Iranians are therefore old enough now to have realistic memories of the time before the revolution.

I am personally older than 68 million Iranians or 91 percent of all of them.

And this is all data as of 2011. By 2015, there are probably about 5 million more – so the numbers are even worse.

The vast majority of Iranians are young people who want peace, stability, prosperity, education for themselves and their children. They don’t want war with America or anyone else. They want to travel, they want to visit the Grand Canyon and New York City, like all the people in Japan and China and France and Germany. They want to live normal lives, without hunger, censorship, and religious oppression.

In a few more years, all the old wackos will be dead and the only people left are the young generations.

We should watch Iran closely, but we should give them a chance to join the community of civilized nations, those that don’t preemptively invade or attack other sovereign nations, like we…

— hmmm, I guess not like we.

While the Clowns in the Debate Chatter…

… Twenty-nine top U.S. nuclear scientists – including five Nobel laureates – sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Saturday praising the nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran in July.

According to the New York Times, the letter used the terms “innovative” and “stringent” more than half-a-dozen times, saying the deal can serve “as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements.

’nuff said.

Republican Senators Send Letter to Iran

47 Republican senators have signed an open letter to Iranian leaders. This is an act that is completely irresponsible, it undermines the president, and it undermines the office of the president.

And it is flat-out stupid. Do they think the Iranians are a bunch of raghead hicks with machine guns?

Do our illustrious Republican senators know that today’s Iranian cabinet has more members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama’s cabinet does? In fact, Iran has more holders of American Ph.D.s in its presidential cabinet than France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, or Spain—combined.

Do they really think that the American educated and trained political brain power of the Iranian leadership cannot see through this bluster?

I am embarrassed for our senate.

Shooting Down an Iranian Airliner

These days many conservative Americans are up in arms about the Administration’s openings toward Iran. The saber rattlers in Congress are chastising the president. Netanyahu calls our pending talks a mistake. Congressman Duncan Hunter suggests we should use nuclear weapons on Iran. They all would rather have us keep Iran as an enemy.

In the meantime, Iran really hasn’t done anything of substance to the United States since about 1979, when they took the embassy hostages during the Carter years.

In contrast, we seem to have forgotten that we shot down a civilian airliner on July 3, 1988. Iran Air Flight 655, an Airbus A300, was en route from Tehran to Dubai. The United States cruiser USS Vincennes incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14, so it fired a guided missile at the plane. The airliner was flying in Iranian airspace in Iranian territorial waters. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished in this attack.

How did Iran get a hold of F-14s? We have all but forgotten that Iran used to be our ally, and we supplied them with weapons like the F-14. We also trained their fighter pilots. I still remember when I was in the Air Force in the 1970s running into Iranian student pilots on base.

We have a long history with Iran and its people. We were friends for many years, trained their soldiers and armed their military, while their monarch was willing to be our puppet. When the people of Iran rebelled against the suppression and subjugation of the Shah, the revolution put the militant clerics into power, and they have held onto it ever since. We turned away from Iran, and started courting, arming and supplying their foe to the west, a dictator named Saddam Hussein.

What would happen if an Iranian ship shot down an American airliner with 290 people on board?




Duncan Hunter and The Doctors from Tehran

I live in the California Congressional District 50 and my congressman is Duncan Hunter. I am totally embarrassed by being even remotely associated with this man.

Here he is, telling us that he would be in favor of using “tactical nuclear devices” in Iran.

I think a ground war in Iran with American boots on the ground would be a horrible thing and I think people like to toss around the fact that we have to stop them in some way from gaining this nuclear capability. I don’t think it’s inevitable but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.

President Obama has recently unlocked the stalemate we have had with Iran for over thirty years and we’re finally able to THINK about talking with Iran again – what a concept! In this time of right-wing indignation, where the likes of Duncan Hunter are blaming the president for TALKING and are asking instead of using nuclear weapons, we should remind ourselves who Iran actually is.

As of 2012, there are over 75 million people who live in Iran. More than half of Iran’s population is under 35 years old, which means the oldest of that half was just born when the American Embassy hostages were taken. Those Iranians know nothing about us that isn’t distorted by the internal regime’s propaganda.

I know many people from Iran, albeit all of them from before 1980. Some of those people are still in Iran today and I have no contact with them, of course. But I must say that I have never met an Iranian (or former Iranian) that I didn’t like or respect.

Today’s Iranian government may also surprise you. According to this article in The Atlantic, Iran’s cabinet has more members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama’s cabinet does. In fact, Iran has more holders of American Ph.D.s in its presidential cabinet than France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, or Spain—combined.

So let’s face it, we are dealing with a large country, the largest population in the Middle East. The academic credentials of their highest level of government are impressive, and many of them have doctorates from prestigious American Universities. These guys have friends in our society. They have traveled next to us in our airplanes, and they have stood in line behind us at Starbucks.

The majority of Iranians are young, under 35, and they want: education, better lives for their children and families than they had, freedom to travel the world, food, shelter and security for their loved ones.

That’s what the Iranian people want. All we need to do is wait a few more years until the cranky old zealots all die off and we have a country that we can work with.

Duncan Hunter’s moronic statements are so out of touch, I am dumbfounded. How do men like that make it to Congress?

The Griffin Chalice of Goodwill

Someone (JD) commented on my post about the fiasco of the website, in defense of Obama, giving some examples of good judgment under very complicated conditions.

Chalice of goodwill given to Iran
This chalice of a Griffin was looted from an Iranian cave and illegally smuggled into the U.S. in 2003. Luckily it was intercepted by the government and stored in a federal warehouse since.

This story in the L.A. Times is one example of Obama taking good advice and exercising good judgment with respect to Iran.

Reviewing the outcome in light of the intent, it was certainly the perfect thing to do, given a difficult situation. Congratulations to Obama on a job very well done.

A View of Iran

IranKhomeini and his regime in the 1980s actively encouraged Iranians to produce large families.

By 2009, nearly 70% of all Iranians were under 30. However, the country is the least religious in the Middle East.

Instead of the “armies for Islam” that Khomeini was hoping for, the youthful population is now the biggest threat to the deeply unpopular regime. We don’t need to use military force against Iran. All we need to do is help and keep its young informed.

With 70% of the population under 30, and most of the rest destitute and eager for change, peace and prosperity, in time, and not too much more time, they’ll throw out the nuts and crackers running the place.

[click for picture credit]

Movie Review: Argo

Every once in a while a movie hits the Zeitgeist perfectly. Two days ago during the vice presidential debate, the situation in Iran was one of the main topics. There are people in this country who want enter into a preemptive war against this Middle Eastern nation of 75 million people, over 60% of whom are younger than 30 years old. They were not even born when the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979 through 1981 was underway, something I remember vividly. I remember seeing the frightening pictures on television, of flag burning, blindfolded hostages and endless street mobs burning effigies of Uncle Sam. I was a young man of 23 then,  and I could not understand how a country could turn that violent against our country, so quickly.

I had personal friends in Iraq from my time as a foreign exchange student. I knew Iranian students in our country. Most of the Iranian fighter pilots had been trained in the United States. What happened?

Most Americans today don’t really understand Iran, its history, and why it is acting like it is today. Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is rumored to have been one of the hostage takers in 1979 (there are theories pro and con on that subject).

But why am I telling you all this in a movie review? The movie Argo is based on true events that took place in early 1980. Six of the people in the American Embassy, just before it was seized by the Iranian mob, escaped and found refuge in the private residence of the Canadian Ambassador to Iran. The hostage takers didn’t yet know they were missing, but the trail unraveled steadily. Time was running out for the hidden Americans. The CIA initiated a covert mission, different from any that we have heard about before, to get them out of the country before events would close in on them.

Argo tells their story.

During the very first minute, the movie narrates the history of modern Iran. The stage is set for us to understand why the Shah was hated so much, why they took American hostages in the first place, why America was held up as the great Satan, and what motivated a nation that was westernized and prosperous to descend into medieval theocracy and despotism within a few short years.

Ben Affleck directed and starred in this masterpiece. He plays a CIA operative on a mission to get these six unfortunate Americans out of the country. A powerful supporting cast of John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin help make the story real and give it a dark, comedic flavor at times. I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the end. Argo is one of the best movies I have watched in a long time. I was entertained, I learned much, and it helped me understand Iran and its trials.

Ayatollah once, ayatollah twice, I am not gonna tell you again.

Don’t Argo with me and see this movie!

Rating: ****