Needham, Mass.



Needham, Mass.

In “A Triangle of Realpolitik: Iran, Iraq and the United States” [March 17], professor Mansour Farhang, a dissident who to my knowledge has not been to Iran for more than twenty years, presents a misleading account of where Iran stood vis-à-vis the looming US invasion of Iraq. Farhang’s assertion that “Washington’s determination to overthrow Saddam Hussein is most welcome in Teheran” simply has no foundation in fact, and the author himself amends it in the rest of the article.

As a political scientist (and author of “Iran’s Foreign Policy After 11 September,” in Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, and of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy) who travels to Iran frequently, I am convinced that the wheels of Iranian policy are fast turning against the US war, following the balance-of-power argument that the larger enemy of my enemy is my biggest enemy. Consequently, in view of Iran’s national insecurity, fueled by the “Axis of Evil” doctrine, the Iranian opposition to the invasion is likely to get louder and louder as the war progresses. In fact, given Iranians’ intense opposition to the invasion, an undeclared war by certain elements of the Iranian military against the Western invaders now looms on the horizon.



New York City

Regarding my unwanted separation from Iran, what point in my article is questionable because of it? Kaveh Afrasiabi seems to believe that his frequent travel to Iran gives him a more accurate view of what goes on there. If that is the case, Iran’s diplomats who deny their government’s violation of human rights are more credible than the contrary reports of Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch because their authors have rarely been given a visa to enter the country.

Recently, the tie between the Bush Administration and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, the largest anti-Saddam Shiite group based in Iran, has been the subject of several news stories. The Council is one of the six exile Iraqi groups sharing the State Department’s $92 million aid to anti-Saddam elements abroad. The leader of this organization, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, has lived in Iran since 1980 and is a close associate of the Islamic Republic’s top clerical leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Al-Hakim’s armed forces, the al-badr brigade, are equipped and trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. About a month before the US attack on Iraq, Iran’s security officials facilitated the border crossing of such prominent US-based Iraqi dissidents as Ahmad Chalabi and Kanan Makiya from Iran to the Kurdish-controlled zone in northern Iraq. It takes little knowledge of Iran’s theocratic hierarchy to conclude that the leading Iraqi proponents of US military action against Saddam do not get together in Teheran to coordinate their activities without a green light from Teheran’s reigning ayatollahs.



Boulder, Colo.

There’s another reason that war on Iraq is wrong: its environmental impact. This war could have long-term health consequences for the entire region because of the threat posed by US depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. While depleted uranium is “only” half as radioactive as normal uranium, it is potentially just as deadly when its dust gets into the human body. DU has been linked to leukemia and kidney damage when it is ingested. DU weapons will not be used in a barren desert, as in the first Gulf War–they will be used in the fertile crescent of Iraq. DU dust from ammunition will be swirling around the best farmland in the region and will also be coming dangerously close to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the only source of fresh water for the entire area. This war will also be fought on the streets of Baghdad, and countless women, children and other civilians will be exposed to this very dangerous dust.

With all the talk in the mainstream media about the war as a clean and tidy operation, remember that Iraq’s civilians will be suffering the aftereffects for a great many years.



Warner Springs, Calif.

I believe… Bombing for peace is logical. The USA Patriot Act is patriotic. Good Americans don’t protest or question their government. Corporate executives can be entrusted with our elder citizens’ healthcare. Forests need to be cut down in order to save them. Oil companies will protect our environment. Our enormous new budget deficits are no problem. Pre-emptive war is legal by international law. We can liberate Iraqi civilians by launching 8,000 missiles into their cities and shooting our incredibly radioactive depleted uranium bullets all over their country. The world’s people support this slaughter, and Jesus thinks it’s OK, too.

Mr. President, I believe… I believe… I believe…



Cave Junction, Ore.

Katha Pollitt is right to both celebrate and question the Lysistrata Project [“Subject to Debate,” March 24]. The notion that women can influence men by withholding sex harks back to the days when that was women’s only power, and even that ace in the hole (so to speak) is always subject to forcible rape. But as much as women have moved into the spheres of politics and commerce, and as much power as we may be able to wield with nontraditional levers, women retain one power that is larger than all the others: the power to reproduce. Our objective must be to stop all wars and not just this one against Iraq. All wars are ultimately about resources. As the human population expands exponentially and resources shrink, wars over oil, water and eventually food will become more frequent and intense. There is only one way out of this trap the human species has created for itself: reproductive control. There is only one humane way to achieve reproductive control, and that is to place it firmly in the hands of women. The modern-day Lysistrata and her troops must seize the treasuries of the world and provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare, contraception and abortion services to all women. The cost would be a fraction of what the world currently spends on war. Only women can take and use this power. It’s time we got to it.



Nashville, Tenn.

Thank you for Tony Kushner’s “Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy” [March 24]. It’s the most complex, moving, savage piece I’ve ever read in your pages.


Brooklyn, NY

Yowsa. The normally wise and thoughtful Nation editorial staff really crossed the line on that Tony Kushner piece. It was a cheap shot in incredibly poor taste.



Medford, Mass.

Eric Alterman wrote about his dismay that celebrities were at the forefront of public dissent on war in Iraq [“Stop the Presses,” March 24]. David Fenton, the PR man who set Alterman straight, could have noted that the PhDs who study war and peace for a living–exactly the sort of experts Alterman would like to lead the antiwar movement–have done an awful job at making known their objections to the war. On September 26, the New York Times ran an ad on the op-ed page by thirty-three respected scholars on international relations. It listed a host of solid, mainstream reasons why war was short on benefits and long on costs. A number of the signers were well-known: Barry Posen appears now and again on TV in Boston on military affairs, and Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer have written op-eds for major newspapers.

The Times ad might have been a watershed event. But the professors did not start an organization, call a press conference or even have the text of the ad on a website. When I e-mailed Walt to get a copy, the only version he could send had been scanned into a computer and was useless for any search engine. If I had not put the original and a transcription on my website, it might still not be on the Internet. Don’t knock the musicians too much: The PhDs still have a lot to learn.




Yesterday I received the April 7 Nation, and read Eric Alterman’s “Perle, Interrupted,” on Seymour Hersh’s exposé of Richard Perle. Imagine my surprise and delight to hear today that he’s resigned! Amen and Alleluia! Bravo, Mr. Alterman!



Bloomington, Ind.

Those Pentagon sobriquets like Operation Iraqi Freedom are noble and inspiring but a little misleading. So, as a patriotic professional writer, I’m volunteering a few more appropriate to our unprovoked invasion: Operation Thunderous Pretaliation, Operation Altruistic Armageddon, Operation Perle Harbor, Operation Gratuitous Violence… Join in! Let’s have a jolly Name-the-War Contest to take our minds off the dead and maimed.



Hamilton, Mont.

The March 31 issue arrived just in time to save me from a terminal psychotic episode. Steve Brodner’s inspired illustration on the inside cover was a signal that this was to be no ordinary Nation fix. John Nichols’s “Building Cities for Peace” gave this Montanan, immersed in a largely meanspirited right-wing community, reason to hope; and Wallace Shawn’s “Fragments From a Diary” were magnificent. Now, if I can just hold out until the next copy arrives…


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