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by Mark Dankof (Global News Net)
Thursday, Oct. 03, 2002 at 4:05 PM
firstname.lastname@example.org 302-981-3797 USA
From his secluded home in rural Virginia, former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Fereydoun Hoveyda, speaks to Global News Net for three hours on issues of both heart and mind.
Fereydoun Hoveyda Speaks His Heart and Mind on the Issues
(Interview with Mark Dankof)
Fereydoun Hoveyda Speaks His Heart and Mind on the Issues
An Interview with Mark Dankof for Global News Net ( GNN)
From his secluded home in rural Virginia, former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Fereydoun Hoveyda, speaks to Global News Net for three hours on issues of both heart and mind. These include his thoughts on the dangers of fundamentalist Islam; the past and future of Iran; Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and son; the forces which resulted in the Iranian Revolution of 1979; the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and Yassir Arafat; George W. Bush; and the lasting legacy of his martyred brother, former Iranian Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda.
“At the age of four, with paper hats and wooden swords, we’re all generals .”
–Sir Peter Ustinov (Romanoff and Juliet–1956, Act I)
I was lost in my deepest thoughts recently, driving in rural Virginia one afternoon west of Washington, D. C. approximately three driving hours from my home in suburban Philadelphia. My first thoughts were of my own childhood in Virginia during my father’s United States Air Force tenure in Washington D. C. between 1956 and 1960. Eisenhower was President, but my own sense of American history, political thought, and culture at age four were being shaped by the previous century and the infamous American War Between the States. On the outskirts of Alexandria, Virginia, I was leading other neighborhood children in imaginary battles–and always on the side of the Confederate States of America (CSA). There would always be one kid tapped to be Robert E. Lee, another to be Stonewall Jackson. The most unpopular kids on the block were designated as Yankees. As for me, there was only one role to play–as the legendary leader of the most successful Confederate partisan ranger unit of the war, the Gray Ghost, John Singleton Mosby. Before one drives far enough west of Washington to arrive at Front Royal, Virginia, the northern tip of the Skyline Drive of the Shenandoah Valley, towns are encountered with names like Salem, The Plains, and Piedmont Station. In this area of real estate between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Bull Run Mountains, one is in the geographic center of Mosby’s Confederacy.
During one bend in the rural Virginia road I was driving, my mind switched channels. I was suddenly in high school again in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In those days, my father was the Air Force Logistics Command’s Liaison to Southeast Asia. Translation: he was a logistical director for Richard Nixon’s air war over North Vietnam. When those painful days came to mind, especially driving outside of Washington, D. C., my mind photographically reproduced the infamous Wall erected near the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington, containing the names of the 58,000+ American young people who did not survive that conflict which had such an ignominious end for the United States. Somehow it occurred to me that perhaps that Wall and the names contained therein might serve as a warning to the current leadership of the United States regarding the apparently impending conflict involving American forces in the Middle East. This thought was subsequently followed in my mind by the mental snapshot of my father’s Air Force retirement ceremony held at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio in April of 1973–the month and year of American withdrawal from Vietnam. He was finally home, and would lead a more tranquil existence Stateside, for the first time in decades. His plan was to teach at a small college in Nebraska.
Or so he said. After this did not materialize, a new and more lucrative offer came his way. He would travel to Iran with the Lockheed Corporation, and resume his duties as a logistics expert for the Air Force. Only this time, it would be the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, with the support and encouragement of the American government. By the fall of 1973, both of my parents were in Iran. I was beginning my freshman year at Valparaiso University in Indiana with the understanding that his new company would pay my way to Iran twice a year (summers and Christmas).
I made the most of this arrangement. Each summer I would travel to different parts of the capital city, Tehran, or the other areas of geographical and historical significance in Iran. Because of the Biblical significance of Cyrus the Great and the subsequent ancient Achaemenid kings, I did more reading about ancient Persia and traveled to Pasargadae and Persepolis. My travels took me to Isfahan and Shiraz, the Caspian Sea, Lar Valley, and elsewhere. I took a summer job as an English teacher for the Imperial Iranian Air Force. Over time, it became apparent to me that the history and culture of Persia were eternally captivating and inexhaustible, which is why in all the years since my own brief sojourn in Iran, I continue to read good books and articles about both its past and its present. Of all the foreign countries my father’s American Air Force career enabled me to visit, Iran continues to occupy a most special place in my heart and mind, even after the events of 1978-79 which culminated in the overthrow of the Shah, the ensconcement of the Islamic Republic, and the tragic political tension between Iran and the United States. Where all of this is headed in history, only God knows.
Making another series of sharp turns in the roads of rural Virginia, my mind then began to recall endless summer mornings in Iran in the mid 1970s, spent reading the Iranian English language daily Kayhan, after an early morning jog of five miles at mile high altitudes. In those days, I had decided in my late teens and early twenties that my favorite Iranian politician was the dapper, articulate Prime Minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda. He seemed to combine a basic sense of interpersonal decency with a keen intellect and an unforgettable style. I was impressed by the impeccably tailored suits and the trademark walking cane, lapel orchid, and smoking pipe. From an American perspective, he had the dynamism, vision, and ability to communicate vision that served as an uncomfortable contrast to several rather dull, nondescript fellows named Ford and Carter back Stateside. Somehow each day of each summer, it seemed important that I read his every word reproduced in the Kayhan . I even saved some of the issues for posterity.
A handful of years later, his savage murder at the hands of Islamic fanatics after a kangaroo court trial remains as my most tortured mental photograph of the worst aspects of the Ayatollah’s revolution. The Shah and most of his Court had fled the country; the American diplomatic and military coterie in Iran had gotten out of Dodge at the speed of light; and somehow in God’s mysterious providence, it was left to Mr. Hoveyda to willingly remain in Iran to defend his own personal honor and legacy on behalf of the Iranian nation before the legal and moral equivalent of a lynch mob. History will record that he did so successfully, as chronicled in Dr. Abbas Milani’s blockbuster of a book, The Persian Sphinx. In my review of this book for Global News Net, I wrote of being struck by the overtones of substitutionary atonement in the Hoveyda martyrdom, either in Christological interpretation or seen, alternatively, in the context of the death of Hussein at Karbala in 680 as a pivotal moment in Shiite Islamic history and theological development. The paradoxes in this event, and its interpretation, are palpable.
Now, in the final couple of turns in the road before reaching my destination in Mosby’s Virginia, my mind finally focused on the reason for this three hour drive from Philadelphia. I had an appointment to see and interview Mr. Hoveyda’s surviving brother, Fereydoun. A scholar and pivotal figure in Iran’s history in his own right, Fereydoun Hoveyda was once Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations. (He continues to serve as a senior fellow on the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.) Through the arrangements made by a mutual friend, I now began making my way up the driveway of his attractive but unostentatious home outside Washington. After parking the car, walking up the sidewalk to the front door and knocking, I was greeted at the door by the Ambassador himself.
Our initial encounter reminded me of my memories of my father’s boss with the Imperial Iranian Air Force, Colonel Sadeghi. The hospitality and warmth were considerable and genuine. The Ambassador beckoned me to waiting tea and sugar cubes, along with a plate of delicious cookies. Making my way to his dining room, I made mental notes of the pictures on the mantel of people that I recognized from the past, including Amir Abbas. When finally seated, I showed Mr. Hoveyda the tape recording device I intended to use to record both my questions and his remarks. It seemed necessary to say that he should feel free not to respond, or to respond off-the-record with the tape recorder turned to the “off” position. His reply and smile seemed eerily reminiscent of what I imagined Amir Abbas Hoveyda would have said. “I’m now 80 years old; I speak with people honestly and willingly. There is nothing I have to hide or keep concealed. Keep the tape running for the entire afternoon.”
What follows are a few of the basic highlights from a three hour conversation. I was struck not only by his candor, but his lack of rancor and bitterness. There was both a trace of sadness over the past, combined with an ongoing (and for me, surprising) sense of optimism over the future, both for Iran, America, and the rest of the world (dark, italicized print for points of emphasis added by the interviewer).
“I will repeat what has already been said by others about Iran. And that is that no one, not even Iranians themselves, understands Iran . . . . At one level, the 1979 Islamic Revolution was the outcome of a personal struggle between two men, Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlavi and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Shah won the first round in 1963 after riots provoked by the latter. He arrested Khomeini and later exiled him. Then, of course, 16 years later, Khomeini triumphed in the second round and returned to Iran after the flight of his enemy. Each of them partially represented one of the key, basic, contradictory trends that agitated the nation since the early years of the twentieth century—secularist modernization on the one hand, in juxtaposition with religious orthodoxy and traditionalism on the other. In my new book coming out this fall, The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution, I discuss many of the angles and the pieces of this complex puzzle that are largely unknown to the Western world and mind. These include the fact that the Iranian mindset has not changed over the centuries. Its identity has survived the Greek hordes under Alexander the Great, along with the Arab and Mongol invasions. This sense of permanence might appear to provide some semblance of stability, yet in another way, Iranians are prisoners of this permanence and its accompanying world view. The book will cover key areas for Western education and discernment in these matters. These include the influence of Zoroastrianism and its concept of ‘savior’; the historical pattern of change of leadership set by the legend of ‘Jamshid and Zahak’; the ‘Rostam Syndrome’ in dichotomous relationship to the Western ‘Oedipal complex’ mythology; the resemblance of the ‘Hidden Imam’ in Iranian Shiite doctrine to the ‘Shayoans’ in the Zoroastrian belief system; the ‘Tripartite ideology’ of Indo-Europeans and the ‘caste system’ as a model of social organization; the Modernization movements in Iran and their 20th century failures; the ‘repetition-compulsion’ character of Iranian history; the influence of Sigmund Freud’s ‘Fate Neurosis’ as a possible influence on the character of Iranian society; the influence of Shiite Islamic mythology on Iranians; the mainstream Shiite concept of Government as belonging to the ‘Hidden Imam’; Khomeini’s special interpretation of the Shiite concept of Government; the differences between Shiite and Sunni Islam; the significance of the rumors that Khomeini was the ‘Hidden Imam’; the legends and myths about the 12 Shiite Imams and their resemblance to ancient mythology; and the whole notion of whether or not there is a ‘curse’ on Iran’s history.
“At this point, there are two points I wish to emphasize for your readers. One is that the Iranian revolution was, in fact, started by ‘secular liberals.’ It was ‘hijacked’ by Khomeini and the Islamic mullahs. The revolution should be considered in the context of the fight between secular, reformist elements in Iranian society on the one hand, and Islamic radicals seeking an iron grip on the Iranian people and nation. What happened in 1978-79 was a unique combination of historical and political circumstances with mythical and religious beliefs. Second, I do look at the future of Iran. I believe there is a bright future for Iran, based on showing Iranians how, with the help of their ancient mythology, they can replace Islamic theocracy with a truly democratic government rooted in tolerance and dialogue.”
On the Role of Mythology in Iranian Political Culture and History
“Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran is both obscure and baffling. In November of 1978, it is noteworthy that Khomeini received an offer in Paris to return to Iran with international guarantees of freedom of speech and physical safety. He refused and followed this refusal with a demand for the departure of the Shah. One must remember that it was the Americans who put pressure on the Shah to leave Iran. But when Khomeini finally returned to Iran, he attempted to demand the Shah’s return along with a trial by Islamic tribunal. In 1979, the world was stunned by the fact that the Shah’s dictatorship was overthrown by Iranians, only to be followed by the Iranian people’s acquiescence to the harsher dictatorship of Khomeini and the Islamic Republic.
“Of all the causes of the Revolution, the role of Iranian mythology in the life of the nation is most noteworthy. One can begin by saying that there is a most striking resemblance in the leadership styles of both the Shah and Khomeini, especially in their autocratic style of governance and their mutual attitude toward the masses. In explaining this phenomenon, one must remember that Iran is not an Arab country . The ancient mythological heritage which undergirds Iranian culture and behavior is not Islamic. It is an Indo-European nation with a recorded history of 3000 years. Understanding the root causes of the Revolution in 1979 involves a deciphering of this rich mythology, as well as the special brand of Islam that Iran has created and nurtured. By this, of course, I mean the religion of Shiism.
“For example, the place and role of the ‘father’ in Iranian society is very different from that of other Middle Eastern patriarchs and tribal chieftains, as it is a divergence from the Western model as well. Iran’s ‘father myth’ is the exact opposite of the Oedipus legend. You will recall that Dr. Abbas Milani discussed this in the book about my brother, The Persian Sphinx. He mentions that in the Western Oedipus myth, the son kills the father. But in the Iranian Shahnameh, the father, Rostam, kills his son, Sohrab. It is a metaphor for the victory of the patriarch. The Iranian ‘father’ is an omnipotent autocratic figure whose authority cannot be questioned by his offspring. His absolute power is ingrained in Iranian mythology and is a major key in understanding what has happened in that nation.”
On Fundamentalist Islam
“Many years ago, well before the Islamic Revolution in Iran, my studies brought to me a number of observations. When looking at Latin America, it occurred to me that these societies were stuck in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. There were problems with both nationalism and internal in-fightings. In contrast to the Indo-European tradition which kept the military out of internal political machinations and interventions, one sees the military constantly involved in domestic political meddlings in Latin America.
“However, when you look at Islamic societies, it occurs to me that they are far more troubled than even the Latin American groupings. Islamic nations are stuck in the 12th century. During my studies in Paris years ago, I would ask myself, ‘Why is this, when during the Middle Ages, the Islamic nations were largely ahead of the Western ones in many scientific, technological, and commercial developments–and possessed a largely multicultural society and ethos?’ The New York Times, after September 11th, ran an article on the Islamic scientific advances of the Middle Ages and their subsequent halt in scientific and technological achievement, with the question, ‘Why?’ They didn’t pretend to have a clue as to the answer.
“But I believe I discovered the reason for the decline of intellectual achievement in the Islamic world after the Middle Ages, and the subsequent rise in influence in this arena on the part of the European West, during my studies 40 years ago. I discovered that it was around the 12th century that fundamentalist interpretations of the Islamic Koran won the upper hand. With the exception of astronomy, the caliphs, in their alliance with the fundamentalist interpreters of the Koran–and the military–began to extinguish the free, open-ended, inquiring scientific mindset that had previously existed in the Islamic world, much to the long term detriment of everyone. The only reason astronomy didn’t get completely extinguished is that the fundamentalist scholars and caliphs needed it to determine the beginning of Ramadan. All the rest of science was rejected. The earliest strains of this tragedy are to be found in a 9th century Islamic scholar named Ashari, who insisted that the use of reason in scientific inquiry was incompatible with the Koran and an insult to the sovereignty and sole supremacy of Allah. You can see how different this is from the Western world, where the European Enlightenment of the 18th and 19th centuries attempted to reassert the compatible character of scientific study and the utilization of human reason with Christian theology. The historic implications of all of this are enormous beyond the imagination. By now, if the fundamentalists had not taken over Islam in the Middle Ages, the present scientific and technological revolution would have been spearheaded by the Islamic World, not the Western. Because of the present tragedy, the best scientists presently in the Islamic tradition are having to conduct their work in the United States and Europe. I also want to say that people in the Islamic world who say that Western science and technology is anti-Islam are complete idiots, because Western science and technology are heirs of Islamic science and technology before the advent of Islamic fundamentalism.”
On Osama bin Laden
“Both because of what happened in the Vietnam war, as well as in the developments in the Clinton Administration, bin Laden mistakenly assumed that Americans were weaklings. American Presidents and Congresses need to do a better job of understanding the thinking of a man like this, his mentality from a different age, and be more careful to insure that the image–and the reality–of what America conveys and projects to people like this is both clear and consistent with no room for misperception or misunderstanding on either side.”
On Yassir Arafat
“Arafat is no statesman. He is incorrigible, an opportunist, a trouble-maker. He is a totally duplicitous man, a terrible person, and yes, a terrorist. The ink was hardly dry on the Oslo agreement in 1993, when Arafat made it clear that he would evade his responsibilities and renege on them. One day after the White House ceremony, in Durban, South Africa, Arafat compared the Oslo document to the treaty the prophet Mohammad signed with Meccan authorities less than a year before conquering the city at the point of a saber. His code of conduct is in complete violation of modern international law and acceptable behavior in the community of nations. His understanding of treaties harkens back to the medieval period, when treaties were made to be broken. After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, he continued to tolerate–some would say encourage–terrorism and militant Islamic fundamentalist organizations. He would say one thing to the West in English, another to his own constituency in Arabic. He is a participant in corruption and covers it up for his friends. He continues to teach hatred of Jews in his schools and to fund his own ‘hit groups.’ Arafat has established military courts that sentence people to death in summary trials without legal representation and appellate rights. When Clinton presented a reasonable plan in the summer of 2002 for Middle Eastern discussion and the peace process, Arafat’s response was to launch a second intifada with suicide bombings. But it must be emphasized that for an Iranian like me, none of this was surprising. You ask why? Take a look at his historical record. In the 1970s, he was training Iranians in his terrorist camps in Lebanon and helped Khomeini gain power in Iran. He lent his PLO representative in Paris to Khomeini. Ghotbzadeh became the Ayatollah’s spokesman in exile and later, his foreign minister in Tehran. Arafat’s Palestinian fighters participated in demonstrations against the Shah’s regime. In 1979, they were around the mullahs, in charge of security in the ministries and other public buildings. Arafat became the first foreign dignitary to visit and kiss the hand of the Ayatollah before joining forces with Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran! This is the caliber of man and human being we are talking about here, who brings misery and bloodbath to Palestinian, Lebanese, Iranian, American, and Israeli victims alike.”
On the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict
“This conflict is the result of two peoples operating according to antiquated, competing mythologies, to the detriment of both. As an example of this, the other day the Interior Minister of Israel refused to contemplate the just grievances of the Palestinian people in protesting the brutal character of Israeli occupation policies by saying simply that, ‘The Bible has given this land to Israel, period.’ Come on, we are in the 21st century! And as far as American policy is concerned, it needs to criticize both Sharon and Arafat where necessary , not simply Arafat alone.”
On George W. Bush
“I have been thinking about Bush recently in light of his role in attempting to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As I told the Iranian Times recently, it must be emphasized that George Bush has been the first American President in half a century to propose the only lasting solution to the Palestinian problem: building a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty. Bush’s Middle East speech did contain some new and essential points, especially his statement that, ‘For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East. . .a Palestinian state will never be created by terror. It will be built through reform.’ At the same time, I am disturbed and non-plussed by Bush’s public appeal to get rid of Arafat, despite the despicable character of the latter. It is up to the Palestinians to get rid of Arafat, to discard him in favor of dignified, honorable, statesman like leaders. By lecturing the Palestinians on jettisoning Arafat, Bush has driven them back into his arms. Let’s face it, I know you don’t like Bill Clinton [to the interviewer] as an American conservative. But what would your reaction be if some foreigner, during his problems, had been issuing you public international lectures on your responsibility as an American to get rid of him? It would have driven you toward Mr. Clinton, not away from him. We need not make this kind of mistake with Arafat and the Palestinian people. . . . and the people of Palestine, like bin Laden’s followers, need to understand that the mindset and cult of martyrdom is complete lunacy. It is a terrible waste of young life and the future. And a completely nihilistic repudiation of what the future could hold, if only this stupid, idiotic mindset could be replaced with the 21st century.”
On the “Clash of Civilizations”
“The notion of a clash of civilizations between the Islamic world on the one hand, and the Jewish and Christian worlds on the other, is completely absurd. The real clash should be understood as one between a dangerous medieval mindset, which expresses itself in the most aberrant fundamentalist religious expressions employing mythology in all of these religious traditions, and a modern, scientific, technological approach to the world and global civilization. We must be clear about this. Sharon, bin Laden, the most radical versions of the Christian Right in America like Jerry Falwell. Take your pick. They are all medievalists. Look out for all of them. Now, I am not opposed to religion and to the quest for the things beyond this world–I simply say that the best ancient religious literature in all these traditions must be reinterpreted in the light of the technological, scientific age in which we live, and that new, evolving insights about the divine and the cosmos are not illegitimate, but in the best mainstream of each of the world’s major religions.”
On the Legacy of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
“The legend of Jamshid in the Shahnameh provides a fundamental explanation to the tragedy of this man. Jamshid’s reported advances on behalf of the Iranian nation were followed by his conceit and his ultimate decision to demand the literal worship of the people. Jamshid’s actions cause the blessings of Ahura Mazda (Zoroastrian god of Light) to be withdrawn, followed by the judgments of Ahriman (Zoroastrian embodiment of evil). The Shah’s 1971 festival at Persepolis followed the pattern of Jamshid, including the cult of self-deification. He took credit for any and all of the advances made in Iran. He stopped acknowledging the obvious help and contribution of the United States in this historical process. He forgot the group of liberal reformers within his country, which included Amir Abbas, in their collective contribution to the attempt to bring Iran into the modern, scientific, technological era. The Shah, like Jamshid, became a despotic autocrat, with identical, tragic results. He was abandoned by God (Ahura Mazda in the analogy), and Khomeini came. All of this shows that there must be a complete break with the circular past. There must be a political and cultural alternative in Iran that is neither Achaemenid kingship nor Islamic theocracy, but the development of an honest Republic. If this change does not occur, Iran is doomed. The economic downturn and the well publicized brain drain from Iran to the West will be accelerated if there is not a third alternative to these elements of a failed, tragic past. But it must not be an attempted copy of European or American constitutional models, but a constitutional republican model that takes account of the unique role and influence of Iranian mythologies. But the entire Islamic world has a problem with autocratic kings. This must be changed. And without saying that the United States is perfect, for we are only too aware of the defects, it must be said to the Islamic world that the American commitment to freedom of speech, and the removal of religious influence from its Constitution, are two of the key principles that must govern any political and economic renaissance in the Islamic world . Despite the corruption of the American Congress and Wall Street, the fundamental concepts in the American Constitution still hold, and make the United States the most unique place in the world. The Iranian expatriate community in the United States must grasp this reality, and not make the mistake of searching for solutions for Iran in antiquated, nostalgic notions from Iran’s distant past.
“Now, in terms of this man [the Shah], I remember my last conversation with my brother on the telephone after the Shah’s departure. My brother was appalled that this man would run away from his historic responsibilities to defend the interests of his nation during a crisis, and to argue the merits of his own motives and legacy. A captain of a ship must be willing to go down with it, if he must. This is his responsibility. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, in history, will always be tainted because he abdicated his responsibilities at a most crucial juncture in the history of the Iranian nation. He will never escape this historical evaluation–ever. Iran had 4 kings in the 20th century, two were Qajar dynasty and two were Pahlavi dynasty. When things got difficult, all 4 failed to die in their boots. They all died in their beds. So who needs these types of kings again, or kingship? Iran needs a different way.”
On Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi
“He will suffer from two deficiencies. I think he is probably a nice man, but his father’s legacy of avoiding responsibility and fleeing his own country will follow the Prince as well, even if that is ultimately unfair. This is the way it is. He has the legacy of the last name. Second, I must confess that I find this young fellow to be somewhat superficial in the things he says about Iran’s future and his own role in it. Talking about democracy and economic reform are fine, but I can’t say that I truly believe that this man has any constructive, deep ideas about how to achieve this, or how to spearhead such a movement through his personal leadership. These are ultimately fatal flaws in any analysis of Reza Pahlavi’s chances of leading Iran into a new way, a new era. That is my verdict.”
On the Legacy of Amir Abbas Hoveyda
“Amir, like many of us of the same generation in Iran with Western educations, believed that the development of an economic infrastructure in Iran was the necessary ingredient and prelude to the development of a political superstructure that would sustain political reform and the development of a Constitutional model along the lines of the European ones, with special deference of course to Iranian culture and mythologies. Despite his, and our best efforts, the subsequent failures in this regard made me aware of what I had begun to see in the early 1960s–that ultimately Iran was a prisoner of its own mythologies. Now in terms of my brother’s death, he understood that he must remain in Iran, to defend his record and to continue there as a positive presence for reform for the people of that country. He also believed, mistakenly, that there would be a fair trial in which he would demonstrate that he had nothing to hide, and plenty to testify about in terms of his role and motives in history. It is this legacy of remaining, and testifying, at the ultimate cost of his life, that will forever distinguish my brother from Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and the others in his Court who fled for themselves and gave up the Ship.”
On being both an Iranian, a Citizen of the World generally and an American specifically
“I, of course, will always be an Iranian. Milani’s book on my brother mentions the way in which our mutual travels growing up because of my father’s diplomatic career, had a profound impact on the developing sense Amir and I both had of the outside world both East and West, the world of politics, languages, literature, cinema, and the free dialogue and exchange of ideas that should exist in a healthy society. For us, Beirut was formulative in giving us the exposure to all kinds of ideas in a cosmopolitan milieu. It made us open to the universe, open to the problems of minorities, Jews, Arabs, Shiites, and others. In a very real sense, I believe that this past enabled me to develop the idea that human beings, properly understood, are wandering witnesses and unremitting recorders of history and the development of ideas. This is their inescapable destiny. Yet in another sense, I have also developed a better understanding of this country (America) and its particular history, heritage, and unique role in the larger world. In a most profound sense, I am now an American as well.”
At the conclusion of three hours of conversation, the Ambassador walked outside to the driveway where my Mercury Van awaited my departure. He showed me his concern for the condition of some of the siding to his home. This was followed by some wistful recollection of his days living in New York after the Iranian Revolution. Finally he remarked that Mosby’s Virginia was a place that seemed so isolated and placid in comparison to New York. Initially, this disturbed him. Later he would discover that these conditions would facilitate the rejuvenation of his intellectual energy, insights, and desire to write. Then he extended his hand to me in a warm handshake, with a kind smile and a trace of moisture in his aging eyes.
“I hope you will come here again to see me,” he said. “I will let you know when there are conferences and symposiums in Washington that may be of interest to you and your news service. We can always meet up for these at mutually agreed times and places.” I agreed that this was my hope as well.
The imaginary member of Mosby’s 43rd Battalion, Virginia Partisan Rangers, began to back out of the driveway of the brother of Iran’s Persian Sphinx. Once out on the main road and cruising away in departure, I kept checking my rear view mirror. The Ambassador was lingering outside near his driveway until I was out of visual sight and headed back to Philadelphia.
Fereydoun Hoveyda is a senior fellow at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations. He is the author of The Broken Crescent: The Threat of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism (Praeger, 1999). His upcoming new book release is entitled, The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution. For more information on the Hoveyda brothers, surf their web site at www.hoveyda.org and consult Dr. Abbas Milani’s magnum opus, The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution.
Dr. Richard Cummings (email@example.com ) arranged the meeting of Mr. Hoveyda and Mark Dankof of Global News Net. Dr. Cummings is a member of the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers, a graduate of Princeton and Cambridge, and a past teacher of law at Haile Selassie University. He was an attorney and advisor with the Office of General Counsel of the Near East South Asia region of the United States Agency for International Development, with special responsibility for legal work pertaining to the aid program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The author of The Pied Piper–Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream , and the upcoming novels The Immortalists and (Dandelion Books). Dr. Cummings also serves as a political commentator and Middle Eastern expert for the libertarian web site www.LewRockwell.com .
Mark Dankof (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is an ordained Lutheran pastor. In recent years, he has pursued post-graduate theological education at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in systematic theology and theological German. A graduate of Valparaiso University in Indiana and Chicago’s Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, he serves as a correspondent for both Global News Net and the orthodox Lutheran weekly, Christian News. In 2000, he was the Constitution Party candidate for the United States Senate seat against Democrat Tom Carper and Republican William Roth. His web site can be found at www.MarkDankof.com .
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