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Sep-20-2009 02:17printcomments

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad & NBC's Ann Curry

Is it all about semantics?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

(SALEM, Ore.) - I'm pretty sure NBC's Ann Curry has her own questions about her interview last week with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

NBC's Ann Curry

I don't think the questions she asked, sometimes over and over again, were all her own by any means. I suspect she had one or more producer in her ear making her ask the irritating, repetitive questions. It is a horrible thought, and would explain her almost overzealous persistence at times.

The biggest problem is the eternal cultural barrier between the east and west. It cost us dearly during negotiations with Vietnam, and I have seen the problems associated with it first-hand in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But in this case we're talking about a foreign President from a country that is an ancient place near the crossroads of the world, where the culture is extremely different from western countries. In all likelihood, he has some trouble understanding exactly how to answer wordy questions, especially when in the end, it is the same question that has been asked a thousand times and answered just as many.

Iran says it doesn't have a nuclear weapons program, and FOX News turns around and says it does. They aren't the only ones, and it isn't a right wing or left wing issue. On many occasions, the media has incorrectly translated Ahmadinejad, right in the face of the American public. A good example was his visit to speak at Colombia University. (see:No Chance For Truth About Iran With Western Media - Political Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com)

Life in Iran Under the Thumb of the U.S.

It is often about national ego, and the time has come for Americans to make peaceful relations with countries that we have had difficulty with in the past. There are reasons that things have gone the way they have in Iran, and it all traces back to western interest in Persian oil, and the refusal of a British petroleum company to play fair with Iranian officials in the post WWII years.

Instead of letting Iran chart its own future path, the CIA and the British Secret Service took out Iran's first democratically elected President in 1953.

Then, after putting the Shah through nine months of reeducation in a CIA camp, the Americans installed him as a puppet leader in Iran for the next three generations. He kept his end of the bargain with the western governments, and made sure that Iran provided ample funding for the American and British economies through oil profits. (see: Warmongers, Chickenhawks, FOX News and Iran (VIDEO) - Tim King Salem-News.com)

But tensions in Iran over the country's lack of political and economic autonomy grew, eventually leading to the Revolution of 1979. Part of this involved the kidnapping of American hostages.

When that happened, American interests were lost. Iran was in control of its own country and economy for the first time in many years.

Tim King's Aug-30-2008 report from Baghdad, Iraq: Crossed
Swords of Baghdad, Iraq: a Window into History

The response of the United States government was to bankroll then "friend and ally" Saddam Hussein, with the hard earned tax revenue of the American taxpayer, to launch the Iran-Iraq War, which Iraq lost, though it appears the country scarcely admitted it.

Today the people of Iran are doing well on many levels. In terms of strength, their military is well armed and supplied, many young people go on to college and become doctors and scientists, and there is an extensive national infrastructure that maintains many social programs, all catering to the well being of the Iranian people.

During the years of the Shah, which many Americans recall fondly as the "friendly years", the Iranian people were much poorer as a whole. It is largely because their natural resources were constantly pillaged by western countries that were intent on exporting Iran's oil.

I learned something about this in Baghdad when I was lucky enough to meet a U.S. Lieutenant Colonel who was an Army historian, while I was standing at the base of a set of Saddam's famous Crossed Swords over his former military parade ground.

Thousands of military helmets collected from Iran's soldiers killed fighting the Iraqi Army, were brought back from the battlefield to be displayed, and they told a story of Iran's underfunded military that existed during the years of the Shah.

The helmets the Iranians were almost all old surplus; WWII American, British and German helmets, others from Russia, Sweden... even a British motorcycle cop helmet. The Iranian military, certainly during the years that the U.S. had economic and political leverage through the Shah, did not appear to be well funded ones.

Today Iran has a free education system, universal health insurance and income assistance. In 2008, President Ahmadinejad launched a program called "Bring the oil money to the people's dinner tables". For all of his criticisms and faults, this seems like a genuine gesture for the welfare of his people.

The program that paid oil proceeds to the Iranian people drove inflation after the previous, more prosperous year. 2007 saw Iran's economy grow by a healthy 6.9% according to Foreign Policy Magazine, but as it did, Iran saw oil prices rise well above predictions, softening the impact of the social spending.

Nuclear Weapon Accusations

But it always comes back to the nuclear weapons accusations. Israel kept its nuclear weapons program, involving hundreds of U.S. supplies warheads pointing at Israel's neighbors, quiet until last year, sort of. Smart people knew. People in Europe knew. But somehow in this day and age of information, Americans were still believing that Israel didn't have nukes until May of 2008, when former U.S. President Carter exposed the matter on international television. (see: Carter Reveals Israel's Possession of 150 Nuclear Weapons - Tim King Salem-News.com)

"With the bad press that is directed against this country, they cannot sow the seeds of discord amongst the ranks of our people"
-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ann Curry certainly has an air of sincerity. When she first began to address the nuclear question, the Iranian President asked, "You're not asking me to give you permission to visit our missile sites are you?"

It seemed to take Curry by surprise, as she answered, "Yes I would love to do that sir."

Ahmadinejad replied, "Hopefully in the future you will have a chance to visit."

I hope Ann Curry takes him up on it, and I can see a bold step from a network like NBC helping lead the way to a new tomorrow.

Curry asked about nuclear weapons, and Iran's President said, "After everything is done we need to live in peace and harmony with one another and we are sharing the wish for all missiles around the world to be dismantled, all weapons for that matter be destroyed, in their place schools hospitals and clinics need to be constructed, this is what we are wishing for, hoping for."

Ann Curry steered the conversation around to the recent presidential election in Iran. It was widely speculated at the time that the true vote of the people of Iran was not reflected in the election results.

People who believed Mousavi was the candidate who was rightfully elected, took to the streets by the thousand. Those who stood behind the protesters included people like John McCain and others who called for the Iranians to stand fast. It was a heart wrenching bloodbath. We reported about the events extensively and maintained information from the Iran Election Twitter Grid and through Salem-News contacts in Tehran.

The way the western media presented the story, ourselves included, was far from rosy for the Ahmadinejad government. Nobody really cared for what he had to say at the time. Whether that was a correct tact, may not be as clear as it seemed then. Curry was confrontational, or at least direct, when she asked Ahmadinejad about the recent political process that left him in office.

"Did you steal this election?"


Caption goes here

After the translator explained the question to Ahmadinejad, he answered, "In Iran expressing one's point of view is free and permissible, any person can express their views and have their opinions."

Curry repeated the question, "Did you steal the election sir?"

"It's very clear, very well known that different people and parties will have a different view, and the people will decide. We should be courageous to accept the vote of the people."

Election counts aside, the demonstrations became riots and soon the police in the street were not even speaking the local language, a Salem-News contact in Tehran said at the time. This is when everyone figured out that the motorcycle cops were from Lebanon; they were Basij-e Mostaz'afin, commonly known as Basij Militia.

Curry asked, "Why did you release Basij enforcers?"

Ahmadinejad responded by blaming matters on western media and western politicians, who he believes used the internet to drive the situation. "I think the behavior shown by the British govt as as well as the U.S. govt was heinous."

Answering Curry's actual question, he said, "The responsibilities are clear cut. The police officers in Iran were hurt much more than others, injured more than anyone else."

It is true that police were hurt by protesters, but video shown here on this very site, told a story of police, these Basij Militia, beating innocent Iranians like brutal thugs. To really believe that Ahmadinejad was not somehow directly connected to that brutality seems like a stretch of the imagination.

Iran's protesters fight for a new day

On the other side of the coin, he was the President of a country in turmoil, and it begs the question... what would the U.S. government have done if Americans took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, for weeks, to protest the way Bush likely or almost certainly according to many credible sources, used the influence of his brother who was the governor of Florida, to skew the numbers enough to ensure W.'s victory? The former President's own quote was, "Oh, I'll win Florida, you can take that one to the bank".

And indeed he did, yet Americans don't have the apparent patriotism or honesty or drive or ambition as our Iranian counterparts did in this case. There were thousands of Americans protesting, but the American mainstream media gave it little or no coverage. That isn't conspiracy theory either.

Iran's President wants Americans to believe that most Iranian people are behind him, and I think that is possible. It is also important to note that many of the people of Iran who wanted Mousavi, are the county's liberal population. It seems hypocritical for conservative politicians like McCain to encourage people who essentially are left wing demonstrators there, while condemning them here.

Ahmadinejad said, "Our people are cohesive and are standing as one, I'm talking about the 40 million who participated in the vote and all of the total 70 million population of this country."

He believes that the people who took to the streets were attacking police and committing illegal acts in conjunction with the demonstrations and riots. I recall reading an account from a Tehran policeman who was racing from one city garbage can to the next with a fire extinguisher, trying to keep fires started by demonstrators from spreading. I do wonder how Americans would appreciate having political upheaval driven by unscrupulous Iranian TV reporters and political media whores.

"With the bad press that is directed against this country, they cannot sow the seeds of discord amongst the ranks of our people," Iran's President said.

"In each country you can find a handful of people who will go outside the confines of the law, and every day we see images of how the U.S. police deals with ordinary U.S. citizens. For that matter the British police and how they deal with British citizens. What they are doing compared to Iran, is tens of times bigger, if I can use the word. This has nothing to do with the elections or what administration is in power for that matter."

Where we go with Iran depends on many factors. Just today PressTV reported that American politicians like Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta are stirring the pot.

They are both issuing claims that Iran is up to this and that; it is like we're in grade school and someone needs to tell the teacher that a kid keeps lying, but who is there to tell? (see: As Talks Near, US Threatens Iran Over Nuclear Work - Salem-News.com)

As long as Clinton and people like her cohorts continue to assert that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, even though year after year, time after time, there is not a shred of proof or evidence to indicate there is one, Americans will go on believing it.

Many say it all comes back to Israel, and the fact that the Jewish State has such major influence over American politics. If only the different sides could sit down and articulate a sound peace process that would be fair to all, the problems would become a thing of the past. As it is those with influence in the western world, in all of its bourgeois glory, will likely remain a truthless band of angry bees.

Here is the link to Ann Curry's NBC report: Ahmadinejad: Americans ‘trampled the law’.

I have written many reports about Ahmadinejad and our writers have referenced him many times. This is the link that will take you to all of our stories about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.

You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Nishiguchi September 21, 2009 11:04 pm (Pacific time)

Take a look at their history,they are perfect warriors to defend their country .

Charlie Barber September 21, 2009 10:42 am (Pacific time)

I know a little more than the average individual about strategy and tactics that would take place if we become compelled to neutralize Iran's nuclear bomb/missle program. It would be an attack on their infrastructure, air bases, seaports, and their missle sites. No ground forces would go in. We essentially did the same to Iraq by establishing a no fly zone. What ground forces we used in the first Gulf Conflict would not be needed in a Iran defensive mission. We have considerable military forces in the area so if Iran does not cease it's nuclear bomb program, this will happen. My hope is it will be Israel that will be the one not us, but it is quickly developing that this will happen. We certainly have learned from past wars that troops are not needed in all cases, and with our current technology we will have little loss of civilian life. Big difference between informed knowledge of tactics and strategy and uninformed and inexperienced.

Anonymous September 20, 2009 8:43 pm (Pacific time)

I agree with John, if we just go in and out it will be a brief war. The US is the best military force in the world but we are not ocupiers. What has happend is Obama has takne down the missle shield from Russia and now Russia has given the OK for Isreal to attack Iran. Russia doesn't want a nuclear Iran anymore than anyone else and now they/we have someone to take out Iran for us. Just wait and see

Editor: I spend endless hours researching and studying Iran, why do you feel qualified to talk about it in these terms?  Go read the State Department's pages on Iran's military.  It makes me mad that people like yourself are out there saying this, inferring that it would be a piece of cake.  I hope if it ever happens that you are a front line combatant leading the charge, but you won't be,  People like yourself sit back in your armchairs watching the war on TV and assuming you know something about it; you don't.  What you do however is show our international readers how damned lame and ignorant so many Americans are.    

John Jensen September 20, 2009 4:27 pm (Pacific time)

History is clear that Iran and Iraq fought for years with no clear winner. Saddam used WMD on the Kurds, so maybe his poker playing (having extensive inventories of WMD) kept Iran from taking a full offensive, but unlikely, because they already were. Iran is just not that powerful compared to western democracies like America, England, Australia and France. If a conventional war takes place with Iran by us, then it would be a very brief war. My hope is that does not happen, but it appears that the ball is in Iran's corner, for Israel who usually gets us to fight their filthy battles, will no doubt attack their energy infrastructure, shipyards and other primary military targets. Gas will go to ten dollars a gallon in a few months and any economic recovery would be over until we start lowering taxes and developing our domestic energy sources. OPEC always kicks up production when we start talking about energy independence, but we have to do more than talk now just in case we have a war in this area of the world.

Editor: A brief war?  What planet are you living on John?  Do you mean a brief war like the ones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam?  That kind of BS is exactly what gets Americans killed in needless wars.  You have not the first clue about this subject.  

Jess September 20, 2009 2:30 pm (Pacific time)

No one, including Israel or USA is in the position to attack Iran and be able to take the Iranian response. Iran is a few times larger than Iraq and has way more advance military which can retaliate against not only Israel but all US bases, europe, Saudi and other arab dictators that might cooperate or take part in any form of attack on Iran. I'm not defending the Iranian government but the fact is, USA after 8 years of war can not defeat Taliban. Iran has mastered the art of asymmetrical warfare which a good example of it was displayed by Hezbollah when last time Israel attacked Lebonan. Even Russian president just said israel won't attack Iran because they know what will happen next. It's time to go after real threats in this world and that includes disarming US, Israel, russia, china and all other countries that have nuclear bombs pointed at cities full of people.

Esther Haman September 20, 2009 2:21 pm (Pacific time)

I watched the show and it is clear that Mr President was not going to discuss his nuclear program. He would have been a traitor otherwise. He will not admit or deny if he has a plan for a nuclear weapon as we and the zionists keep the military option on the table and keep threatning them.

John Jensen September 20, 2009 12:57 pm (Pacific time)

Even people with both years in academia and in the state department working in not just the middle east but in countries all over the world will admit that cultural differences can almost always promulgate vexing problems in cross communications. It always seems that those with little academic backgrounds and/or little exposure to other cultures know what's going on and how to fix things. Since there will be very powerful forces that will want to error on the side of caution, Iran's nuclear situation will bring about an action that they might not like, unless they open up for inspectors. I expect they will, but patience is wearing thin for some countries out there, namely Israel and France.

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