Posts from April 2003

Iranian humor

Iranian humor
: Hoder, the trailblazing Iranian/Canadian blogger I’ve quoted often lately, maintains both an English-language blog and a Persian blog but even there, he’s nice enough to show us his English headlines, including this:

Joke: Saddam wrote a will before the Americans attacked. His wish was, “When I die, give my hand to Khamenei, my moustache to Rafsanjani and my balls to Khatami.”

Iraqi democracy

Iraqi democracy
: Alt.Muslim wonders about the form of democracy that can grow in Iraq.

When al-Qaida links couldn’t be found and the search for weapons of mass destruction didn’t move our allies into action, bringing democracy to the suffering people to Iraq became the new raison d’etre for “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” But what does democracy mean to a people who have never practiced it? How do you bring a society from tribal identifications with ethnic or religious groups into an arena where respect for the will of the majority forms the foundation of the state?

The writer debates the role of Islam — the Turkish model or (unspoken) the Iranian model? I didn’t make clear in my post on Iraqi democracy below that religion can be involved in a democracy, of course but it can’t replace democracy. England, Italy, Israel, Ireland and many other countries have official state religions. Yes, my American DNA brings with it a strong belief in separation of church and state to insure the freedom of both. But it need not be an absolute. Still, I do see a clear line: Do the people get to choose their leaders and their laws or does a religious leadership choose both for them? One is democracy, the other is religious dictatorship.

What he says

What he says
: Thomas Friedman:

As far as I’m concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. That skull, and the thousands more that will be unearthed, are enough for me. Mr. Bush doesn’t owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue). It is clear that in ending Saddam’s tyranny, a huge human engine for mass destruction has been broken….

Whether you were for or against this war, whether you preferred that the war be done with the U.N.’s approval or without it, you have to feel good that right has triumphed over wrong. America did the right thing here. It toppled one of the most evil regimes on the face of the earth, and I don’t think we know even a fraction of how deep that evil went. Fair-minded people have to acknowledge that. Who cares if we now find some buried barrels of poison? Do they carry more moral weight than those buried skulls? No way.

So why isn’t everyone celebrating this triumph?

B-Roll: Arab

B-Roll: Arab
: I’ve added new weblogs, mostly by Iranians, under B-Roll: Arab (on the right). I’m not sure what the proper description is: Arab, Persian… In any case, there are lots of interesting English-language blogs from that part of the world. Expect more.

: Bless the world of weblogs. Moments after putting up this post, I got advice to change to B-Roll: Persian. Done.

: Now I’m already in a MidEast PC problem. Some say Persian is too limiting. I would like to be able to include weblogs from anywhere in that neighborhood. Should it be B-Roll: Mideast?

What does Democracy mean (for Iraq)?

What does Democracy mean (for Iraq)?
: The people of Iraq must have a democracy. They deserve nothing less.

: Coming home the other night, I turned on the radio and heard someone with an accent say dismissively that you just can’t force democracy on a country — namely, Iraq. I came in too late to hear who said it. And, unfortunately, the NPR reporter didn’t bother to question the statement. For it was hogwash.

Democracy was “forced” on Germany and Japan and it has worked splendidly, just as well as (if not better than) it has worked in countries that came by democracy through popular uprising and revolt. Their Germans and the Japanese — once assumed to be incapable of managing democracy themselves — have long-since and resoundingly proven all their condescending naysayers wrong. They have proven that when people are given a chance to govern themselves, they will do it eagerly and well — in fits and starts, perhaps, but in the end, well.

: Now there is a school of thought that asks, what if the Iraqis choose a theocracy or even a dictatorship instead of democracy? That’s certainly what we’re hearing from Shiite clerics in Iraq. I’m hearing rumblings of this from the anti-war club.

A superb weblog by an Iranian called the Eyeranian poses the question well:

To me a dictatorship, mixed with visions of divine responsibilities is probably the most horrendous type of repression possible. Close to a quarter of a century of an autocratic government in Iran, bringing mass executions, murders, large-scale imprisonments, terror, oppression and corruption is the prime confirmation of this line of reasoning….

Having said that, one of the bases for any true democracy is to accept the people

A revolution starts with one blog

A revolution starts with one blog
: Hossein Derakhshan, aka Hoder, runs the Iranian weblog Editor:Myself where he not only has been reporting on the arrest of Iranian weblogger Sina Motallebi (and today he recalls witnessing the repression of free speech in Iran first-hand), but I now learn that he also practically single-handedly started the Iranian blogging revolution.

A fellow blogger named Khodadad wrote an article about Hoder and the start of Iranian weblogs:

It all started when an article appeared in a popular Iranian news site, written by a twenty something former Iranian journalist, a refugee of the shut-down reformist newspapers in Iran, who lived in Canada. He had discovered the format of blogging, and manipulated the latest common operating system to write blogs in Persian. In a few simple paragraphs, he explained what web-logs are, and how he had managed to created a template that allowed one to use the Unicode system to write Persian. He was perhaps hoping that a few Iranians would pick up the lead and make a presence in the world of web-logging. Well, he was right about

Dependence and democracy

Dependence and democracy
: Hooman, an Iranian blogger, raises an interesting question regarding economics and democracy:

Imagine you live in a country with a diverse economy. Imagine you keep 70% of your income in your pocket and end up paying 30% to the government as tax. Your government hinges on you and your fellow countrymen and women to stay afloat then…. Now imagine you live in a country with an economy living off

Just what are they trying to stop?

Just what are they trying to stop?
: I smell a cynical act China’s decision to shut entertainment venues to stop the spread of SARS. Included in that is the closure of Internet cafes. Why Internet cafes and why not trains, restaurants, stores, and other public venues? Perhaps they also want to stop the spread of information?