• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 4 april 2015

Robert Parry 27

The US-Israel-Iran Triangle’s Tangled History

Exclusive: Iran and world powers have gone into double-overtime in negotiations to ensure that Iran doesn’t build a nuclear bomb, but the shadow over the talks is darkened by decades of distrust and double-dealing, a dimly understood history of the U.S.-Israeli-Iranian triangle, reports Robert Parry.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to accuse Iran’s Islamic State of seeking Israel’s destruction – and U.S. neocons talk openly about bombing Iran – the history of Israel’s cooperative dealings with Iran, including after the ouster of the Shah and the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, seems to have been forgotten.
Yet, this background is important when evaluating some of Iran’s current political players and their attitudes regarding a possible deal with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes only. In the United States and Israel – for their own politically sensitive reasons – much of this history remains “lost” or little known.
Ronald Reagan and his 1980 vice-presidential running mate George H.W.  Bush.
Ronald Reagan and his 1980 vice-presidential running mate George H.W. Bush.
The division inside Iran between leading figures who collaborated with the U.S. and Israel behind the scenes and those who resisted those secret dealings took shape in the early 1980s but remains in place, to some degree, to this day.
For instance, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s current Supreme Leader, was more the ideological purist in 1980, apparently opposing any unorthodox strategy involving Israeli and Republican emissaries that went behind President Jimmy Carter’s back to gain promises of weapons from Israel and the future Reagan administration.
Khamenei appears to have favored a more straightforward arrangement with the Carter administration for settling the dispute over the 52 American hostages who were seized from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, by Iranian radicals.
However, other key political figures – including Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mehdi Karoubi – participated in the secret contacts with the Republicans and Israel to get the military supplies needed to fight the war with Iraq, which began in September 1980. They were later joined by Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi.
In 1980, these internal Iranian differences played out against a dramatic backdrop. Iranian radicals still held the 52 hostages; President Carter had imposed an arms embargo while negotiating for the hostages’ release; and he was struggling to fend off a strong campaign challenge from Republican Ronald Reagan.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious at Carter for pushing him into the Camp David peace deal with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat that required Israel returning the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for normalized relations.
Begin also was upset at Carter’s perceived failure to protect the Shah of Iran, who had been an Israeli strategic ally. Begin was worried, too, about the growing influence of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as it massed troops along the Iranian border.
At that time, Saudi Arabia was encouraging Sunni-ruled Iraq to attack Shiite-ruled Iran in a revival of the Sunni-Shiite conflict which dated back to the Seventh Century succession struggle after the death of the Prophet Mohammad. The Saudi prince-playboys were worried about the possible spread of the ascetic revolutionary movement pushed by Iran’s new ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini.
Upsetting Carter
Determined to help Iran counter Iraq – and hopeful about rebuilding at least covert ties to Tehran – Begin’s government cleared the first small shipments of U.S. military supplies to Iran in spring 1980, including 300 tires for Iran’s U.S.-manufactured jet fighters. Soon, Carter learned about the covert shipments and lodged an angry complaint.
“There had been a rather tense discussion between President Carter and Prime Minister Begin in the spring of 1980 in which the President made clear that the Israelis had to stop that, and that we knew that they were doing it, and that we would not allow it to continue, at least not allow it to continue privately and without the knowledge of the American people,” Carter’s press secretary Jody Powell told me in an interview for a PBS documentary.
“And it stopped,” Powell said — at least, it stopped temporarily.
Questioned by congressional investigators a dozen years later, Carter said he felt that by April 1980, “Israel cast their lot with Reagan,” according to notes I found among the unpublished documents in the files of a congressional investigation conducted in 1992. Carter traced the Israeli opposition to his possible reelection in 1980 to a “lingering concern [among] Jewish leaders that I was too friendly with Arabs.”
Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski also recognized the Israeli hostility. Brzezinski said the Carter White House was well aware that the Begin government had “an obvious preference for a Reagan victory.”
Begin’s alarm about a possible Carter second term was described, too, by Israeli intelligence and foreign affairs official David Kimche in his 1991 book, The Last Option. Kimche wrote that Begin’s government believed that Carter was overly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and was conspiring with Arabs to force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.
“Begin was being set up for diplomatic slaughter by the master butchers in Washington,” Kimche wrote. “They had, moreover, the apparent blessing of the two presidents, Carter and [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat, for this bizarre and clumsy attempt at collusion designed to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Extensive evidence now exists that Begin’s preference for a Reagan victory led Israelis to join in a covert operation with Republicans to contact Iranian leaders behind Carter’s back and delay release of the 52 American hostages until after Reagan defeated Carter in November 1980.
That controversy, known as the “October Surprise” case, and its sequel, the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s, involved clandestine ties between leading figures in Iran and U.S. and Israeli officials who supplied Iran with missiles and other weaponry for its war with Iraq. The Iran-Iraq conflict began simmering in spring 1980 and broke into full-scale war in September.
More Straightforward
Khamenei, who was then an influential aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, appears to have been part of a contingent exploring ways to resolve the hostage dispute with Carter.
According to Army Col. Charles Wesley Scott, who was one of the 52 hostages, Khamenei visited him on May 1, 1980, at the old U.S. consulate in Tabriz to ask whether milder demands from Iran to the Carter administration might lead to a resolution of the hostage impasse and allow the resumption of U.S. military supplies, former National Security Council aide Gary Sick reported in his book October Surprise.
“You’re asking the wrong man,” Scott replied, noting that he had been out of touch with his government during his five months of captivity before adding that he doubted the Carter administration would be eager to resume military shipments quickly.
“Frankly, my guess is that it will be a long time before you’ll get any cooperation on spare parts from America, after what you’ve done and continue to do to us,” Scott said he told Khamenei.
But Khamenei’s outreach to a captive U.S. military officer – outlining terms that then became the basis of a near settlement of the crisis with the Carter administration in September 1980 – suggests that Khamenei favored a more traditional approach toward resolving the hostage crisis rather than the parallel channel that soon involved the Israelis and the Republicans.
In that narrow sense, Khamenei was allied with Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the sitting Iranian president in 1980 who also has said he opposed dealing with Israel and the Republicans behind President Carter’s back. In a little-noticed letter to the U.S. Congress, dated Dec. 17, 1992, Bani-Sadr said he first learned of the Republican hostage initiative in July 1980.
Bani-Sadr said a nephew of Ayatollah Khomeini returned from a meeting with an Iranian banker, Cyrus Hashemi, who had led the Carter administration to believe he was helping broker a hostage release but who had close ties to Reagan’s campaign chief William Casey and to Casey’s business associate, John Shaheen.
Bani-Sadr said the message from the Khomeini emissary was clear: the Reagan campaign was in league with some of the Central Intelligence Agency’s pro-Republican elements in an effort to undermine Carter and wanted Iran’s help. Bani-Sadr said the emissary “told me that if I do not accept this proposal they [the Republicans] would make the same offer to my rivals.”
The emissary added that the Republicans “have enormous influence in the CIA,” Bani-Sadr wrote. “Lastly, he told me my refusal of their offer would result in my elimination.”
Bani-Sadr said he resisted the GOP scheme, but the plan ultimately was accepted by Ayatollah Khomeini, who appears to have made up his mind around the time of Iraq’s invasion in mid-September 1980.
Clearing the Way
Khomeini’s approval meant the end of the initiative that Khamenei had outlined to Col. Scott, which was being pursued with Carter’s representatives in West Germany before Iraq launched its attack. Khomeini’s blessing allowed Rafsanjani, Karoubi and later Mousavi to proceed with secret contacts that involved emissaries from the Reagan camp and the Israeli government.
The Republican-Israeli-Iranian agreement appears to have been sealed through a series of meetings that culminated in discussions in Paris arranged by the right-wing chief of French intelligence Alexandre deMarenches and allegedly involving Casey, vice presidential nominee (and former CIA Director) George H.W. Bush, CIA officer Robert Gates and other U.S. and Israeli representatives on one side and cleric Mehdi Karoubi and a team of Iranian representatives on the other.
Bush, Gates and Karoubi all have denied participating in the meeting (Karoubi did so in an interview with me in Tehran in 1990). But deMarenches admitted arranging the Paris conclave to his biographer, former New York Times correspondent David Andelman.
Andelman said deMarenches ordered that the secret meeting be kept out of his memoir because the story could otherwise damage the reputation of his friends, William Casey and George H.W. Bush. At the time of Andelman’s work on the memoir in 1991, Bush was running for re-election as President of the United States.
Andelman’s sworn testimony in December 1992 to a House task force assigned to examine the October Surprise controversy buttressed longstanding claims from international intelligence operatives about a Paris meeting involving Casey and Bush.
Besides the testimony from intelligence operatives, including Israeli military intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, there was contemporaneous knowledge of the alleged Bush-to-Paris trip by Chicago Tribune reporter John Maclean, son of author Norman Maclean who wrote A River Runs Through It.
Maclean said a well-placed Republican source told him in mid-October 1980 about Bush’s secret trip to Paris to meet with Iranians on the U.S. hostage issue. Maclean passed on that information to State Department official David Henderson, who recalled the date as Oct. 18, 1980.
Since Maclean had never written a story about the leak and Henderson didn’t mentioned it until Congress started its cursory October Surprise investigation in 1991, the Maclean-Henderson conversation had been locked in a kind of time capsule.
One could not accuse Maclean of concocting the Bush-to-Paris allegation for some ulterior motive, since he hadn’t used it in 1980, nor had he volunteered it a decade later. He only confirmed it, grudgingly, when approached by a researcher working with me on a PBS Frontline documentary and in a subsequent videotaped interview with me.
Also, alibis that were later concocted for Casey and Bush – supposedly to prove they could not have traveled to the alleged overseas meetings – either collapsed under close scrutiny or had serious holes. [For details on the October Surprise case, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege and America’s Stolen Narrative.]
Military Shipments
Though the precise details of the October Surprise case remain murky, it is a historic fact that Carter failed to resolve the hostage crisis before losing in a surprising landslide to Reagan and that the hostages were not released until Reagan and Bush were sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981.
It also is clear that U.S. military supplies were soon moving to Iran via Israeli middlemen with the approval of the new Reagan administration.
In a PBS interview, Nicholas Veliotes, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, said he first discovered the secret arms pipeline to Iran when an Israeli weapons flight was shot down over the Soviet Union on July 18, 1981, after straying off course on its third mission to deliver U.S. military supplies from Israel to Iran via Larnaca, Cyprus.
“It was clear to me after my conversations with people on high that indeed we had agreed that the Israelis could transship to Iran some American-origin military equipment,” Veliotes said.
In checking out the Israeli flight, Veliotes came to believe that the Reagan-Bush camp’s dealings with Iran dated back to before the 1980 election.
“It seems to have started in earnest in the period probably prior to the election of 1980, as the Israelis had identified who would become the new players in the national security area in the Reagan administration,” Veliotes said. “And I understand some contacts were made at that time.”
In the early 1980s, the players in Iran also experienced a shakeup. Bani-Sadr was ousted in 1981 and fled for his life; he was replaced as president by Khamenei; Mousavi was named prime minister; Rafsanjani consolidated his financial and political power as speaker of the Majlis; and Karoubi became a powerful figure in Iran’s military-and-foreign-policy establishment.
Besides tapping into stockpiles of U.S.-made weaponry, the Israelis arranged shipments from third countries, including Poland, according to Israeli intelligence officer Ben-Menashe, who described his work on the arms pipeline in his 1992 book, Profits of War.
Since representatives of Likud had initiated the arms-middleman role for Iran, the profits flowed into coffers that the right-wing party controlled, a situation that allowed Likud to invest in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and created envy inside the rival Labor Party especially after it gained a share of power in the 1984 elections, said Ben-Menashe, who worked with Likud.
The Iran-Contra Case
According to this analysis, Labor’s desire to open its own arms channel to Iran laid the groundwork for the Iran-Contra scandal, as the government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres tapped into the emerging neoconservative network inside the Reagan administration on one hand and began making his own contacts to Iran’s leadership on the other.
Reagan’s National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, who had close ties to the Israeli leadership, collaborated with Peres’s aide Amiram Nir and with neocon intellectual (and National Security Council consultant) Michael Ledeen in spring 1985 to make contact with the Iranians.
Ledeen’s chief intermediary to Iran was a businessman named Manucher Ghorbanifar, who was held in disdain by the CIA as a fabricator but claimed he represented high-ranking Iranians who favored improved relations with the United States and were eager for American weapons.
Ghorbanifar’s chief contact, as identified in official Iran-Contra records, was Mohsen Kangarlu, who worked as an aide to Prime Minister Mousavi, according to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman in his 2008 book, The Secret War with Iran.
However, Ghorbanifar’s real backer inside Iran appears to have been Mousavi himself. According to a Time magazine article from January 1987, Ghorbanifar “became a trusted friend and kitchen adviser to Mir Hussein Mousavi, Prime Minister in the Khomeini government.”
In November 1985, at a key moment in the Iran-Contra scandal as one of the early missile shipments via Israel went awry, Ghorbanifar conveyed Mousavi’s anger to the White House.
“On or about November 25, 1985, Ledeen received a frantic phone call from Ghorbanifar, asking him to relay a message from the prime minister of Iran to President Reagan regarding the shipment of the wrong type of HAWKs,” according to Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh’s Final Report.
“Ledeen said the message essentially was ‘we’ve been holding up our part of the bargain, and here you people are now cheating us and tricking us and deceiving us and you had better correct this situation right away.’”
Earlier in the process, Ghorbanifar had dangled the possibility of McFarlane meeting with high-level Iranian officials, including Mousavi and Rafsanjani. Another one of Ghorbanifar’s Iranian contacts was Hassan Karoubi, the brother of Mehdi Karoubi. Hassan Karoubi met with Ghorbanifar and Ledeen in Geneva in late October 1985 regarding missile shipments in exchange for Iranian help in getting a group of U.S. hostages freed in Lebanon, according to Walsh’s report.
A Split Leadership
As Ben-Menashe describes the maneuvering in Tehran, the basic split in the Iranian leadership put then-President Khamenei on the ideologically purist side of rejecting U.S.-Israeli military help and Rafsanjani, Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi in favor of exploiting those openings in a pragmatic way to better fight the war with Iraq.
The key decider during this period – as in the October Surprise phase – was Ayatollah Khomeini, who agreed with the pragmatists on the need to get as much materiel from the Americans and the Israelis as possible, Ben-Menashe told me in a 2009 interview from his home in Canada.
Ben-Menashe said Rafsanjani and most other senior Iranian officials were satisfied dealing with the original (Likud) Israeli channel and were offended by the Reagan administration’s double game of tilting toward Iraq with military and intelligence support while also offering weapons deals to Iran via the second (Labor) channel.
The ex-Israeli intelligence officer said the Iranians were especially thankful in 1985-86 when the Likud channel secured SCUD missiles from Poland so Iran could respond to SCUD attacks that Iraq had launched against Iranian cities.
“After that (transaction), I got access to the highest authorities” in Iran, Ben-Menashe said, including a personal meeting with Mousavi at which Ben-Menashe said he learned that Mousavi knew the history of the Israeli-arranged shipments in the October Surprise deal of 1980.
Ben-Menashe quoted Mousavi as saying, “we did everything you guys wanted. We got rid of the Democrats. We did everything we could, but the Americans aren’t delivering [and] they are dealing with the Iraqis.”
In that account, the Iranian leadership in 1980 viewed its agreement to delay the release of the U.S. Embassy hostages not primarily as a favor to the Republicans, but to the Israelis who were considered the key for Iran to get the necessary military supplies for its war with Iraq.
Israeli attitudes toward Iran soured when the lucrative arms pipelines of the Iran-Iraq War dried up after the conflict finally ended in 1988. Iran’s treasury was depleted as was the treasury of Iraq, where Saddam Hussein lashed out at one of his oil-rich creditors, the Kuwaiti royal family, in 1990, invading the country and setting the stage for a U.S.-led Persian Gulf War that drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait.
With Iraq burdened by post-war sanctions and its military might restricted by weapons inspectors, Israel began to view Iran as its principal regional threat, a view shared by the wealthy Saudis. That common viewpoint gradually created the basis for a de facto Israeli-Saudi alliance which has begun to come out of the shadows in recent years. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Deciphering the Mideast Chaos.”]
Meanwhile, in Iran, this half-hidden history of double-dealing and back-stabbing remains part of the narrative of distrust that continues to afflict U.S.-Iranian relations. Even 35 years later, some of the same Iranian players are still around.
Though Mousavi and Karoubi fell out of favor when they were associated with the Western-backed Green Movement in 2009, Rafsanjani has remained an influential political figure and Khameini replaced the late Ayatollah Khomeini as Iran’s Supreme Leader. That makes him the most important figure in Iran regarding whether to accept a U.S.-brokered deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program — or not.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Henk Hofland en de Massa 37


Het feit dat Henk Hofland als opiniemaker van De Groene Amsterdammer van oordeel is dat het Westen 'vredestichtend' optreedt, en daarom het recht bezit om, in strijd met het internationaal recht, gewelddadig mag ingrijpen in regio's, waarvan de westerse economische elite meent dat haar belangen worden bedreigd, kan twee dingen betekenen.

a. hij meent dat de slachtoffers van het westers expansionisme in bijvoorbeeld het Midden-Oosten door de westerse argumenten worden overtuigd,

of

b. hij bespeelt een onwetend publiek met propaganda.

In beide gevallen hebben 'we' te maken met een gevaarlijke dwaas, wiens propaganda de dood van honderdduizenden, zo niet miljoenen burgers tot gevolg kan hebben. In de praktijk van alledag verleent Hofland ideologisch steun aan terreur en zou hij in een volwassen democratische rechtstaat ter verantwoording moeten worden geroepen. In plaats daarvan is hij in Nederland als capo di tutti capi door zijn  picciotti  uitgeroepen tot de 'beste journalist van de twintigste eeuw,' met de daaraan verbonden omerta-plicht. De 'beste' wel te verstaan van een eeuw die de geschiedenis is ingegaan als het tijdperk dat de meeste oorlogsdoden ooit kent. Dat is niet vreemd: het werk van de mainstream journalistiek is zo succesvol geweest dat Frederic Jameson's analyse vandaag de dag actueler is dan ooit tevoren. Deze Amerikaanse hoogleraar en literatuurcriticus, auteur van ondermeer Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1992), wees er op dat:

it easier to imagine a total catastrophe which ends all life on Earth than it is to imagine a real change in capitalist relations.

De meeste burgers, met uitzondering van de polder-intellectuelen, weten uit eigen ervaring hoe dit te verklaren is. Van kindsbeen af krijgt de hedendaagse consument de boodschap erin gehamerd dat het kapitalisme de hoogste vorm van beschaving is. Sterker nog: de enig denkbare. Daarom luidde de val van de Sovjet Unie 'het einde van de geschiedenis' in, zo wisten de meest gehersenspoelden te verkondigen. De indoctrinatie is zo effectief geweest dat 'links,' of wat er voor doorging, niet meer in staat bleek om een alternatief te verzinnen. Wanneer een ideologie erin slaagt zelfs de verbeeldingskracht van de mens  te vernietigen, kan zonder overdrijven worden gesteld dat 'we' in een totalitaire systeem leven. Zonder dat de massa zich het realiseert, is de democratie het postmoderne eufemisme voor totalitarisme. Zeker de Nederlandse intelligentsia is de afgelopen halve eeuw maar al te bereid geweest om zich te laten omkopen, dan wel chanteren. De Amerikaanse journalist Chris Hedges merkte op:

Most intellectuals have a self-understanding of themselves as the conscience of humanity,' said the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein. 'They revel in and admire someone like Vaclav Havel. Chomsky is contemptuous of Havel. Chomsky embraces the Julien Benda view of the world. There are two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege it will always be at the expense of truth and justice. Benda says that the credo of any true intellectual has to be, as Christ said, 'my kingdom is not of this world.' Chomsky exposes the pretenses of those who claim to be the bearers of truth and justice. He shows that in fact these intellectuals are the bearers of power and privilege and all the evil that attends it.

De ‘conspiracy of silence,’ waarover ik al jaren op mijn weblog schrijf, is slechts één element van de intellectuele corruptie in Nederland, van ‘La trahison des clercs’ in de polder. In zijn in 1927 verschenen opzienbarende boek beschreef de Franse filosoof Julien Benda op overtuigende wijze de weigering van westerse intellectuelen om hun unieke rol van buitenstaander te spelen. In plaats van de officiële versie van de waarheid tegen het licht te houden, om daarmee de leugen te bestrijden waarmee de elite het leven verstikt, zijn mijn geschoolde generatiegenoten in Nederland bereid geweest om hun persoonlijke verantwoordelijkheid in te ruilen voor status en pecunia. In plaats van hun voormalige scepsis in te zetten om zo de geest te wapenen tegen de terreur van de macht, wilden ze al snel zelf de macht hebben. Hoflands 'politiek-literaire elite' had haar ijdelheid moeten bedwingen, had door de schijn heen moeten prikken, in plaats van zich te laten omkopen. De enige taak van de intelligentsia, door de eeuwen heen, is het dienen van de 'waarheid' geweest, in de rol van adviseur, chroniqueur, of nar. De Britse auteur Troy Depue schreef over laatstgenoemde:

They could be dwarfs, as the medieval people thought these little people to be very merry and funny. It could also be something more than simply being smaller; it could be an obvious physical deformity, such as a severe facial deformity or limbs that were out of the norm. The jesters would poke fun at their own expense in these cases, but also use them as a tool to poke fun at the noble court that they served in. […]

The jesters were given a power that no other person in the kingdom was granted: the power to openly mock any noble he saw fit, even the King or Queen. So long as it was done in a jesting manner, a jester could get away with poking fun at any of the nobles shortcomings. […]

Through all of it, Jeffery (een beroemde nar svh) knew that if it were not for his size and proportionality, he would not have had the opportunity to be in the court. […]

But this is not the only reference of a 'fool' or jester in Shakespeare’s works. There are approximately 22 identifiable 'fools' in Shakespearian plays, though many are never clearly identified as jesters.

This fact points to the importance a jester had on the times and times earlier than Shakespeare; otherwise he would not have thought to create the characters in his plays.

In closing, do not think of a jester as a dimwitted fool, as you would not be correct. Jesters played a major role in the shaping of the medieval and early renaissance era.

Van wezenlijk belang was dat de 'nar' ook zijn eigen tekortkomingen op de hak nam en dit hem een mogelijkheid gaf 'to poke fun at the noble court,' waardoor hij als buitenstaander, die de 'jester' per definitie is, een 'macht' in handen kreeg 'that no other person in the kingdom was granted.' Door deze 'power' speelden 'Jesters a major role in the shaping of the medieval and early renaissance era.' Zij waren de enigen die de 'waarheid' konden zeggen tegen letterlijk iedereen, van hoog tot laag. Zelfs de koning bezat vaak die mogelijkheid niet. 

Om iets te begrijpen van de rol van de nar in Koning Lear moeten we dus terug in de tijd, maar blijven we wel dicht bij huis, met Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) en de rederijkers.

In de wereldliteratuur erkent Erasmus als eerste de waarde van de zot, in zijn werk Lof der zotheid (1509). Hierin drijft Stultitia, de personificatie van de zotheid, genadeloos de spot met alle rangen en standen in de samenleving. Vol ironie en dubbelzinnigheid zingt deze zotheid een lofrede op zichzelf: want ligt dwaasheid niet aan de basis van al het menselijk gedrag? Zotheid wordt dus bejubeld als iets goeds en daarmee kan de zot alle blunders en oplichterijen van de mens aan de kaak stellen. Via deze spreekbuis kon Erasmus onverbloemd de pijnlijke waarheid zeggen en tegelijkertijd de verantwoordelijkheid voor zijn uitspraken ontlopen. Het is immers maar een zot die dit verkondigt, die wordt door een weldenkend mens toch niet serieus genomen? […]

Omdat de nar in zijn omgekeerde wereld niet gebonden was aan de heersende normen, had hij een ongelimiteerde vrijheid van meningsuiting. Zo kon hij onbelemmerd de waarheid verkondigen, zelfs als deze pijnlijk was. En hij sprak altijd de waarheid: het heersende idee was dat de onnozele, onbedorven door enige geleerdheid, geheel onbevangen kon spreken. Dat wordt zelfs in de bijbel geformuleerd door Paulus: ‘Als iemand onder u wijs meent te zijn – wijs volgens de opvattingen van deze wereld – dan moet hij dwaas worden om de ware wijsheid te leren.’ (I Kor. 3:18). De zot toonde dus aan dat er verschillende vormen van wijsheid bestaan.

De zotten die in dienst waren bij een edele of vorst, hofnarren genoemd, hadden een bijzondere positie. Alleen bij zijn nar kon de koning doen en laten wat hij wilde, omdat bij hem de bestaande verhoudingen niet meer golden. De nar was niet gebonden aan onderdanigheid of vleierij, maar zal zijn vorst de waarheid zeggen als hij daarom vraagt. Dat maakt de nar ook zo’n dankbaar personage in een tragedie: de nar kan de trots van zijn heer lek prikken, door hem de bittere waarheid over zijn gedrag te vertellen. In Koning Lear is het dan ook de nar die de koning onomwonden duidelijk maakt dat hij een verkeerde beslissing heeft gemaakt: Toen jij je kroon in tweeën kloofde en beide helften weggaf, droeg je zelf je ezel op je rug door de drek. Jij had weinig hersens over in je kale kroon, toen jij je gouden weggaf. […] Ik ben nu beter dan jij, ik ben een nar, jij bent niets.’ (I.4. 152-6, 184-5) Lear neemt geen aanstoot aan deze vuile woorden. Hij waarschuwt zijn nar slechts: als hij liegt, krijgt hij de zweep.

Ook de nar praat over het hanteren van de zweep, maar dan in een omgekeerde wereld. Hij zegt tegen zijn koning dat als Lear zijn nar zou zijn, hij hem zou laten slaan omdat hij oud is geworden voor zijn tijd. Het is een straf waarin een wijze les verborgen zit: ‘Je had niet oud moeten worden voordat je wijs was.’ (I.5.41-2) Wederom wijst de nar zijn koning op de dwaasheid van zijn handelen, alsof hij zijn geweten vormt. 

De nar draait de rollen van koning en zot wel vaker om. Als de nar en de koning tijdens de storm op de heide Kent ontmoeten, identificeert de nar zijn gezelschap met de woorden: ‘een schedel en een fluit. Dat is een wijs man en een nar.’ (III.2.40-1) Het is dan aan het publiek om te bepalen wie van de twee de wijze man is.

Centraal in deze machtsverhouding stond dus dat 'de nar in zijn omgekeerde wereld niet gebonden was aan de heersende normen,' waardoor hij 'een ongelimiteerde vrijheid van meningsuiting' bezat en daarom de 'waarheid' kon vertellen. De nar vormde een tegenmacht. Hij verwoordde de interne fricties die elke samenleving veroorzaakt, ondraaglijke spanningen konden zodoende worden verholpen of vonden in elk geval een uitlaatklep. Zonder tegenmacht is een systeem gedoemd zichzelf te vernietigen, om de simpele reden dat het zijn tekortkomingen niet beseft. Die rol zou de westerse intelligentsia hebben moeten spelen. Maar, zoals Benda al in het interbellum opmerkte 'verlangen' de intellectuelen in de moderne tijd er vurig naar ‘to abase the values of knowledge before the values of action.’ Zij zijn gebiologeerd doo‘the cult of success’ en gaan er vanuit dat 'politics decides morality.' Hij constateerde dat 

these new 'clerks' declare that they do not know what is meant by justice, truth, and other 'metaphysical fogs,' that for them the true is determined by the useful, the just by circumstances.

De rol van 'nar' in de brede betekenis van het woord, als degene die de 'waarheid' spreekt, is de intellectueel te min geworden, hij wil onderdeel zijn van de macht. Hij wenst alleen nog maar erkend worden door de macht, geprezen en bepoteld. Voor deze ontwikkeling waarschuwde tevens de auteur Milan Kundera, toen hij erop wees dat men zich wel 

de toekomst [kan] voorstellen zonder de klassenstrijd of zonder de psychoanalyse, maar niet zonder de onweerstaanbare opkomst van pasklare ideeën die, ingevoerd in computers, gepropageerd door de massamedia, het gevaar met zich meebrengen binnenkort een macht te worden die elk oorspronkelijk en individueel denken verplettert en zo de werkelijke essentie van de Europese cultuur van onze tijd verstikt.

Zoals de vis bij de kop te rotten, doordringt de corruptie van degenen die de 'waarheid' zouden moeten spreken, het hele maatschappelijke bestel. En daar zijn 'we' vandaag de dag getuige van. Zodra de 'waarheid' niet meer wordt verwoord, sterft een samenleving. De maatschappij is ernstig ziek wanneer een populist als Geert Mak het ene moment onweersproken kan beweren dat dat er 'Geen Jorwert zonder Brussel' kan bestaan, met als argument dat 

de EU een markt [is] van bijna een half miljard mensen met de hoogste gemiddelde levensstandaard ter wereld. Alleen al voor Nederland is de Unie goed voor tweederde van onze totale export, een vijfde van het nationale product. We hebben nu een open toegang tot die markt,

en 'we' die 'deur' dus niet moeten 'dichtgooien' om het volgende moment met evenveel pedanterie een aanval in te zetten op hetzelfde neoliberalisme door te stellen:

WEG VAN HET RENDEMENTSDENKEN: OP ZOEK NAAR ANDERE WAARDEN.

En niemand die tijdens deze 'toespraak bij de aanvaarding van de Comeniusprijs op zaterdag 21 maart 2015 in de Grote Kerk te Naarden,' opstond om Mak ter verantwoording te roepen. Integendeel, gezapig luisterde de gezeten burgerij naar diens betoog dat 

[h]et de opgaaf van deze tijd [is] om , zoals Comenius dat deed, opnieuw die verloren ‘menselijkheid der mensheid’ centraal te stellen. Dat geldt voor de samenleving als geheel en zeker ook voor de economie – ooit een normatieve wetenschap – en de politiek.


Geert Mak verheven tot 'Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur'

Bij ieder prijsje een nieuw wijsje, en zo probeert de opportunist iedereen te vriend te houden, en begrijpt Geert Mak werkelijk niet waarom iemand hem ooit zou bekritiseren. Dat hun verpolitiekte opvattingen juist een symptoom zijn van de huidige malaise, begrijpen de Makken en Hoflanden niet. Deels komt dit omdat de 'politiek-literaire elite' in de polder zo provinciaals is dat zij nauwelijks tot geen buitenlandse boeken leest, en deels doordat haar mening is gebaseerd op de berichtgeving van de zichzelf censurerende mainstream-kranten en weekbladen. Voor hen geldt inderdaad dat 'politics decides morality.'  Een treffend voorbeeld van deze houding gaf H.J.A. Hofland in De Groene Amsterdammer van woensdag 1 april 2015. Onder de kop 'Nieuwe oorlog in wording,' beweerde hij ditmaal het volgende:

Met de burgeroorlog in Jemen is een nieuwe fase in de totale ontbinding van het Midden-Oosten aangebroken. Chaos kweekt meer chaos. Het historisch bewijs voor die stelling is langzamerhand overweldigend.

De oorlogen in Afghanistan, Irak, Libië en Syrië hebben daar mislukte staten doen ontstaan, in de regio een eufemisme voor broeinesten van terreur en oorzaak van stromen vluchtelingen naar Europa. En sinds een paar weken begint Jemen erbij te horen. De sjiitische stam van de Houthi’s is in verzet gekomen tegen de centrale regering die de soennitische variant van de islam is toegedaan. Het soennitische Saoedi-Arabië is daarop de regering met bombardementen te hulp gekomen. Daarbij zijn enkele tientallen doden gevallen. De nieuwe toon is gezet.

Uitgaande van deze tekst, en eerdere columns van Hofland, is duidelijk dat hij meent dat 'de totale ontbinding van het Midden-Oosten' een autonoom proces is, waaraan het Westen part noch deel heeft gehad. Immers in De Groene Amsterdammer van 12 maart 2015 sprak hij met betrekking tot de 'enorme staatkundige en humanitaire, zich ongebreideld voortzettende ramp' in het Midden-Oosten en de Maghreb: 

Het is het hedendaags failliet van de Arabische beschaving. En sinds het begin van deze eeuw heeft het Westen metterdaad bewezen dat het daar machteloos tegenover staat. Pogingen om het tij met de oorlogen in Afghanistan en Irak te keren zijn uitgelopen op kostbare mislukkingen, 

om aansluitend daarop nog een andere leugen hieraan toe te voegen

Maar het kan nog erger. Sinds jaren werkt Iran aan zijn eigen kernwapen.

Kennelijk bedoelt hij, in navolging van Wilders, niet uitsluitend de 'Arabische beschaving,' maar de islamitische beschaving, aangezien de overgrote meerderheid van de Iraniërs geen 'Arabieren' zijn, maar Indo-Germanen. Dat er geen enkel hard bewijs bestaat dat 'Iran aan zijn eigen kernwapen [werkt],' is in zijn ogen een andere te verwaarlozen futiliteit. Zijn leugencampagne bereikt een hoogtepunt wanneer de hoogbejaarde mainstream-journalist stelt dat de gewelddadige westerse interventies 'pogingen' waren 'om het tij' aldaar 'te keren,' waarbij het Westen de zegeningen van de neoliberale democratie probeerden te verspreiden. Nog afgezien van zijn leugens is opmerkelijk hoe weinig Hofland van de regio weet. Hij kan niet bogen op eigen ervaringen, en ook niet op gesprekken met intellectuelen uit het Midden-Oosten en al helemaal niet op de bestudering van het werk van vooraanstaande deskundigen. Zijn kennis reikt niet verder dan dat wat de International New York Times bericht, dat doorgaans niet meer is dan tamelijk oppervlakkige, verpolitiekte verslaggeving. Vijf jaar geleden kreeg Hofland naar aanleiding van een NRC-column, met ondermeer de visie dat de 

hoogconjunctuur van het verzet tegen de aanwezigheid van grote aantallen niet geïntegreerde moslims in heel West-Europa een natuurlijke reactie [is],

de volgende reactie van een erudite lezer:

Leest iemand nog wel eens Edward Said in Nederland? Lijkt me nogal relevant. Said is al twintig jaar terug eens flink achter Daniel Pipes aangegaan. De Moslims van Wilders zijn toch oriëntaalse karikaturen, zo lijkt me, die erg aan Said’s beeld van 'oosterlingen,' zoals die gekoesterd werd (?) door westerlingen, doen denken.

Ondanks zijn stellige uitspraken is opmerkelijk dat Henk Hofland geen van Edward Said's boeken heeft gelezen. In diens 'landmark work' Culture and Imperialism (1993) schreef de Palestijns-Amerikaanse geleerde:

Conrad's Nostromo (1904) is set in a Central American republic, independent (unlike the African and East Asian colonial settings of his earlier fictions), and dominated at the same time by outside interests because of its immense silver mine. For a contemporary American the most compelling aspect of the work is Conrad's prescience (vooruitziendheid svh): he forecasts the unstoppable unrest and 'misrule' of the Latin American republics (governing them, he says, quoting Bolivar, is like plowing the sea), and he singles out North America's particular way of influencing conditions in a decisive yet barely visible way. Holroyd, the San Francisco financier who backs Charles Gould, the British owner of the San Tomé mine, warns his protégé that 'we won't be drawn into any large trouble' as investors. Nevertheless,

'We can sit and watch. Of course, some day we shall step in. We are bound to. But there's no hurry. Time itself has got to wait on the greatest country in the whole of God's universe. We shall be giving the word for everything — industry, trade, law, journalism, art, politics, and religion, from Cape Horn clear over to Surith's sound, and beyond it, too, if anything worth taking hold of turns up at the North Pole. And then we shall have the leisure to take in hand the outlying islands and continents of the earth. We shall run the world's business whether the world likes it or not. The world can't help it — and neither can we, I guess.'

Much of the rhetoric of the 'New World Order' promulgated by the American government since the end of the Cold War — with its redolent self-congratulation, its unconcealed triumphalism, its grave proclamations of responsibility — might have been scripted by Conrad's Holroyd: we are number one, we are bound to lead, we stand for freedom and order, and so on. 

Let wel, hier spreekt geen opiniemaker uit een klein land, maar een geleerde uit een grootmacht, een deskundige die wordt beschouwd als 'one of the most important literary critics and philosophers of the late 20th century,' wiens 'Culture and Imperialism was hailed as long-awaited and seen as a direct successor to his main work, Orientalism.' Wikipedia:

On the connection between culture and empire, Said observes that 'The power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them.' Hence he analyzes cultural objects in large part to understand how empire works: 'For the enterprise of empire depends upon the idea of having an empire... and all kinds of preparations are made for it within a culture; then in turn imperialism acquires a kind of coherence, a set of experiences, and a presence of ruler and ruled alike within the culture.'

Said defines 'imperialism' as 'the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory.' His definition of 'culture' is more complex, but he strongly suggests that we ought not to forget imperialism when discussing it. Of his overall motive, Said states:

'The novels and other books I consider here I analyze because first of all I find them estimable and admirable works of art and learning, in which I and many other readers take pleasure and from which we derive profit. Second, the challenge is to connect them not only with that pleasure and profit but also with the imperial process of which they were manifestly and unconcealedly a part; rather than condemning or ignoring their participation in what was an unquestioned reality in their societies, I suggest that what we learn about this hitherto ignored aspect actually and truly enhances our reading and understanding of them.' […]

Said argues that, although the 'age of empire' largely ended after World War II, when most colonies gained independence, imperialism continues to exert considerable cultural influence in the present. To be aware of this fact, it is necessary, according to Said, to look at how colonialists and imperialists employed 'culture' to control distant land and peoples.

Ziedaar, de onuitgesproken diepe overtuiging van de schaamteloze Hoflanden van de mainstreampers: 'We shall run the world's business whether the world likes it or not.' Dat daarmee eeuwenoude, door trial and error tot stand gekomen, culturen ernstig worden verstoord, en zelfs hele culturen worden vernietigd, is niet het gevolg van de westerse gewelddadige interventies om de economische en politieke belangen van allereerst de westerse elite's te dienen, maar moeten, volgens de ideologische opiniemakers van de commerciële journalistiek, gezien worden als signalen van 

het hedendaags failliet van de Arabische beschaving. En sinds het begin van deze eeuw heeft het Westen metterdaad bewezen dat het daar machteloos tegenover staat. Pogingen om het tij met de oorlogen in Afghanistan en Irak te keren zijn uitgelopen op kostbare mislukkingen.

Hoe minder hij weet des te stelliger kan Hofland als de 'beste journalist van de twintigste eeuw' zijn ideologische evangelie van de werkelijkheid verkondigen. Inderdaad, 'imperialism continues to exert considerable cultural influence in the present.' Men hoeft maar te kijken 'at how colonialists and imperialists employed 'culture' to control distant land and peoples.' Want ondanks zijn botte onwetendheid weet hij één ding maar al te goed, namelijk dat

The power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them.

En zolang de lezers van De Groene Amsterdammer nog minder weten dan de bejubelde opiniemaker, kan H.J.A. Hofland nog jaren mee. Daarover later meer.

Obama’s Dirty War on Yemen Murdering Civilians

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damage-left-in-sanaa-after-clash-between-houthi-rebels-and-yemen-military
Civilians suffer most in all wars. Yemen is no exception. Sanaa is becoming a ghost town.
One shopkeeper said “(t)here are very few people left here. Everyone has fled, and those who have stayed live alone without their families.”
“So hardly anyone comes to buy anything anymore.Now I’m lucky if I make $20 a day.”
“How can I pay my rent or even my electricity bills? If the situation stays like this then I’m sure I’ll be out of business within days.”
According to Yemeni Post editor-in-chief Hakin al-Masmari, “(a)t the beginning they were targeting only Sanaa, so people were fleeing to the provinces.”
“However, now they have expended to the suburbs as well.”
Yemenis in attacked areas are trapped in their homes. They face shortages of essentials to life – including food, water, medical supplies, and power.
Yemen already is the region’s poorest country. War exacerbated things greatly.
Even where food and other products and services are available, most Yemenis can’t afford them. Survival for many is threatened.
A growing refugee and unemployment crisis compounds things. Human misery affects millions.
The World Food Program says about 13 million Yemenis have only polluted water for drinking and other uses.
Around a million aged-five or under Yemeni children are malnourished. Expect the number to grow exponentially in coming weeks and months.
The Pentagon is coordinating Saudi-led terror-bombing – choosing targets, supplying munitions, providing intelligence, refueling attacking warplanes, and providing other services.
Sputnik News reported US warships shelling Yemeni targets. Air attacks struck residential neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, power stations, a Hodeida dairy plant, and other nonmilitary sites.
Reports indicate growing shortages of everything essential to life.
Areas being attacked are paralyzed. On April 2, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos issued a statement saying:
“I am extremely concerned for the safety of civilians caught in the middle of fierce fighting in Yemen.”
“I call on all parties involved to meet their obligations under international law and do their utmost to protect the ordinary women, children and men who are suffering the consequences of the conflict.”
“Reports from humanitarian partners in different parts of the country indicate that some 519 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in the past two weeks – over 90 of them children.”
“Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, some by crossing the sea to Djibouti and Somalia.”
“Electricity, water and essential medicines are in short supply.”
“Those engaged in fighting must ensure that hospitals, schools, camps for refugees and those internally displaced and civilian infrastructure, especially in populated areas, are not targeted or used for military purposes.”
“Despite the grave dangers, United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners are coordinating with the Yemen Red Crescent and local authorities to deliver emergency health kits, generators so that people can get clean water, food and blankets.”
Much more than delivered is needed. Bombing and blockade prevent access to Yemeni territory.
“Before this recent escalation in the violence, millions of Yemenis were already extremely vulnerable,” said Amos.
“I hope that peace, security and stability will be restored as soon as possible.”
Chances to achieve it are virtually nil. With Saudi-led ground forces mobilized to invade, expect bloodbath conditions to follow.
Hundreds of thousands already were displaced – maybe heading for millions.
UN Children Fund Yemen representative Julien Harneis calls what’s ongoing “a terrible situation, and it is moving so fast.”
“We are heading toward a humanitarian disaster” on top of others Washington bears full responsibility for throughout the region.
Scores are dying daily, many others injured. Children are gravely affected.
Half of Aden’s electricity was knocked out. Conditions in many areas are disastrous after only nine days of terror-bombing
US imperial arrogance is systematically ravaging and destroying another country.
High crimes against peace are being committed daily. Arab lives and welfare don’t matter.
Washington and its area proxies slaughter them in cold blood.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.