June 15, 2013
Congratulations, Iran!

First of all, let me congratulate you, the people of Iran.

I’m really happy the election went smoothly; that there was no violence against voters - against you; that there is no violence so far in the aftermath. I’m hoping there will be no violence in the coming days either.

I think that was on my mind more than anything else. And by violence, I don’t just mean killings, injuries and beatings on the street, but arbitrary detentions, torture, and imprisonment as well.

We all tragically witnessed too much of that in 2009 and looking at arrests, including some yesterday of activists, we can legitimately say we’re still living in a time of repression. I’m glad that repression wasn’t used against you this time.

Secondly, I’m happy that it seems like your vote wasn’t stolen. That’s a strange thing to say. Yes, it looks like the votes were counted, but I for one cannot believe after what happened in 2005 and 2009 that they would’ve been counted unless the Supreme Leader had personally authorized the count. He could’ve just as easily said, “Make it Ghalibaf or Jalili”. And then we wouldn’t have to wait this long for a result - we would have had it within an hour of the voting process.

Finally, I’m happy that it’s Rouhani. I am not sure - as are many of my Iranian analyst friends have expressed- that there will be systemic or systematic change in Iran’s foreign policy or its domestic policy, especially in regards to the the nuclear program.

But right now, I’m just happy for you because you seem genuinely happy. Maybe you shouldn’t be happy? Maybe you should be upset and like me and many others and lament that the change Rouhani will bring will mostly be on domestic policy and that he’ll be different, but not too different from Ahmadinejad. That maybe the political prisoners won’t be released. That maybe women’s rights so repressed under Ahmadinejad will improve…

But it’s not my place to lecture you on how you should feel.

Rejoice and best of luck!

April 12, 2012
Iran Nuclear Talks: A Nuanced Response

I’m going to save you all the opening paragraph of such analyses and get straight to the point. Business Week reports:

"Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany will take place starting April 14 in Istanbul, European Union spokesman Michael Mann said yesterday. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Laura Seal confirmed the plans."

This by the way is only the first round. The report adds:

"Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said in a statement today cited by the state-run Mehr news agency that a second round of talks will be held in Baghdad, the date of which will be announced at the end of the Istanbul meeting."

By now, hundreds of foreign policy wonks have tried their hand at analyzing the upcoming talks. I could waste your time with a new one that seeks to numb your mind with expectations that are entirely hypothetical and already spewed and shown to be grossly incorrect.

I’m going to be honest.

The fact is that there have been countless such talks with results ranging from bitter resentment to outright outrage on both sides. The utter fruitlessness of these endeavors - for the umpteenth time mind you - without anything new to be put on the table by either side, can only elicit this reaction from me:

Hahahahaahah hahahaah hah ahahaha hahahahahaha hahaha hahahaha hahahah ahahhahahahaahahah ahahah haahah haahahahahah haahahahah haahahah haha hah haah hahaahah ha haahah hahahah ahahah hah ha ahah ahahahahahahahah hahahahahahaah haahahahahah haahahahah haahahah haha hah haah hahaahah ha haahah hahahah ahahah hah ha ahahahaha

SERIOUSLY?! AGAIN!? They will do it… AGAIN!?

Hahahahahahaahah hahahah haahah ahahah ahahah haha hah hahahahahahaha hahahah hahahahahaahah hah hh hahahahahaahahahahhahah ahahahahahah hahaahahah hahahaha hahahahah ahahhahahaha hahahah ahahah hahahaa hahahah ahaha hahahahahahah ahahahahahhahahahahahahah ahahaahahahahahahahahah ahahahahah ahahaha a ha hahahaa hahaah ah hah ah hahahahah hah hah

I’ll still be here when the talks are over with no results whatsoever or results that get nullified within a few weeks. I’ll still be here when the same wonks that are telling you something might come out of this or is probably going to, start to weave stories of how even in nothingness, these talks were ‘something’. Or keep trying to make this look like it’s anything but another attempt at making their allies happy by the West and another chance for Iran to buy more time to keep enriching uranium.

I’ll still be here… and I’ll be laughing just as hard.

Your Josh

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