[News] Iran and Latin America
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 21 15:40:31 EST 2010
January 21, 2010
The Press Stirs the Pot
Iran and Latin America
By RAMZY BAROUD
Should the United States be concerned about
Irans determined efforts to reach out to Latin
America? Or, as was suggestively described in the
Economist, by the Ayatollahs strategy of cozying up to Latin America?
The US continues to see the world as its own
business. It gives itself and its allies, most
notably Israel, the right to geopolitical
maneuverability. Iran, on the other hand, is
censured, derided and punished for even its own
internal policies, within its own borders. Thus,
an Iranian move into Latin America is naturally
viewed as unwarranted, uncalled for and most
definitely dangerous as far as the US is concerned.
But Iran is not invading America geopolitical
space per se. It is neither financing a terrorist
group, nor involved in the ongoing narcotic war.
More, there is no historical connection between
an interventionist Iran and the bloody past of
Latin America, including its former dictators and
brutal juntas. In fact, Irans cozying up to
Latin American merely began in 2005. Since then,
Iran has opened embassies in several Latin
American countries and launched important joint
projects that provided funds and work
opportunities for thousands of ordinary people.
There is no Iranian equivalent to the School of the Americas.
So why the alarm?
Paul McLeary of Aviation Week gives us a clue.
Irans move has set off a proxy conflict between
Iran and Israel in South America, with the
presidents of both countries logging
frequent-flier miles to win friends in the
region. One cause for concern among many analysts
is the weekly flight between Caracas and Tehran
(with a stop in Damascus) that Iran Air has flown for two years.
He quotes Frida Ghitis: Flight manifests are
kept secret, so neither cargo nor passenger
information is well known
one Israeli report
suggested that Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying uranium to Iran.
Two questions emerge. One, is it required of
Caracas and Tehran to provide a detailed report
of the cargo and passengers to the US and Israel,
and perhaps also cc-ed to a list of their friends and allies?
The second pertains to Israel itself. Why is the
media most concerned by Irans suspicious
behavior in Latin America, despite the fact that
its presence is welcomed by various countries in
the hemisphere, while Israel - whose bloody
involvement has wrought much chaos to South
America - is simply unquestioned, and even cited
as a credible source? There is no evidence to
link Iran to death squads, or any Iranian firm
with an archive and computer file on
journalists, students, leaders, leftists,
politicians and so on to be hunted down, killed
or simply made to disappear under brutal
regimes. Israels own history in Latin America
seems to inspire little commentary by the
ever-vigilant many analysts. McLeary, Ghitis
and others need to do their homework before
leveling accusations against others. The book
Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the
U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship may be a good place to start.
Back to the lurking Ayatollahs in Americas
backyard, Susan Kaufman Purcell is also raising
questions, this time about Brazil. In Brazil
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva welcomed his
Iranian counterpart, president Ahmadinejad late
November 2009. In the January 7 Wall Street
Journal, Purcell claimed: Until recently, the
Obama administration assumed that Brazil and the
United States were natural allies who shared many
foreign policy interests, particularly in Latin
America. Brazil, after all, is a friendly
democracy with a growing market economy and
Western cultural values. Purcell suggests that
Brazils various achievements largely
beneficial to the US qualified the country to become more like us.
The article infers, however, that Brazil is
actually not like us. The fact that it dares to
be different - by pursuing a Brazilian-centered
foreign policy - shows the audacity of the
deceivingly loveable Lula. The Brazilian
president is apparently going rouge simply by
deviating from Washingtons regional and
international priorities. Amongst his many
crimes: Instead of expressing concern over
Iran's activities in Latin America, Brazil is
drawing closer to Tehran and hopes to expand its
$2 billion bilateral trade to $10 billion in the near future.
Another: He reiterated his support for Iran's
right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful
uses, while insisting that there is no evidence
that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. And of
course, Purcell doesnt fail to remind us of the
weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran that
bring passengers and cargo into Venezuela.
Western media is indeed rife with all sorts of
unfounded accusations, baseless speculations and
superfluous insinuations. They evoke in the
reader and viewer a dread and fear, based in this
case on the doomsday scenario whereby fanatical
Latin Americans and radical Muslims gang up on America, and ultimately Israel.
Now consider these appalling insinuations by the
Economist. First it claims that the Brazilian
President offered support for Irans work on
nuclear technology for (supposedly) peaceful use. Note the word supposedly.
Then: One of the instruments of destabilizing
Latin America is Irans production of news
programmes and documentaries for Bolivian
television, no doubt to give a fair and balanced
view of the Great Satan. Note the writers
insertion of the little irrelevant term Great
Satan to convert the act of TV production that
challenges Western mainstream medias narrative into a menacing endeavor.
More: Brazil president talked about Israels
right to stay just where it is on the map. Of
course, Lula didnt phrase it that way. This is
the writers attempt to remind us of the claim
that Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
protesters waved banners reminding
Mr Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust had indeed
taken place. This provides the big climax - the
claim that Irans president has denied the Holocaust.
But why the charged, exaggerated commentary?
A seemingly random Economist advertisement box
embedded with the article, and another long side
column at the magazines website reminds readers
of The Economist Debate Series January 11-18.
The topic of the week, presented with an image of
a warplane radar zooming in on the Iranian map,
asks the question: Is It Time to Strike Iran?
After reading such unsubstantiated, yet
disquieting analyses, how would most readers respond?
Ramzy Baroud is editor of
His work has been published in many newspapers
and journals worldwide. His latest book is
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a
People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). His
Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gazas Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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