Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Traitors" and Saviors

Twice in the same day, I was asked about "My Life as a Traitor," a title I had heard about, but hadn't paid much attention to. Clearly, it is being well-promoted, so I decided to see what I could find out. The book purports to narrate the experiences of Zarah Ghahramani, an Iranian woman who was imprisoned in 2001 as a result of her participation in student protests.

If there was ever a shred of doubt that the boom in Iranian women's memoirs are a part of broader political agendas, the following claim from Robert Hillman, the "co-writer" of this book, should put it to rest:

What happened to Zarah and tens of thousands like her should make us anxious about a nuclear-armed Iran.

The governments of other nations in the nuclear club sanction summary detention and torture as a means of silencing their political opponents.

But another nuclear-armed nation, with the disdain for the most basic human rights shown by Iran, is one more nation too many

Come again?

Now let's say that everything recorded about Gharamani's experience is correct, what does that have to do with the manufactured Iranian nuclear "crisis"? Hillman states at the outset of his piece that"the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons entitles us to speculate on what sort of nuclear custodian Iran might make."

The word "entitlement" is a good choice, Bobby, since there are a whole lot of people like yourself (99% of whom are in "the west") who feel entitled to stick their nose into the business of others, even in cases when the terms of that business have been guaranteed by international treaties such as the NPT.

Unless Hillman knows something that over 20,000 hours of IAEA inspections weren't able to find, Iran's nuclear facilities are for a civilian program. If the IAEA is allowed to do its work and the US/Israel stop their various threats against Iran, the program will hopefully always remain a civilian one.

In any case, the development of a nuclear weapons program would not negatively impact the situation of activists in Iran. Indeed, it might improve it since the government could no longer use the fact that it is being threatened with imminent destruction as an excuse to put pressure on those who object to its policies.

Of course, I am the last person to advocate for the development of weapons, nuclear or otherwise, but I just wanted to work for a moment within the framework that Hillman himself has set up to show how flawed it is.

"My Life as Traitor" is slated for a December 2007 release. Until then, here is some related reading material to satiate your curiosity: Robert Hillman living out his rescue/hero fantasy, in his own words.