Thursday, March 17, 2005

March 19th and 20th protests

Posted by Sima Shakhsari*

Here is the list of actions for March 19th and 20th (anniversay of the U.S. military attack on Iraq). If you have other information, please post it in the comments section.

1. Reza Nasri has suggested that on March 19th, the anniversary of the nationalization of Iran's Oil industry, we change our blog names to "Hands OFF Iran". See his post here.

2. I have listed almost all the protests in the U.S.

3. Sibestaanak has posted information about the protests in the U.K.

4. Iranians Against Military Intervention And Occupation will gather at Dolores Park in San Francisco at 11 am on Saturday. Look for their signs if you want to join the Iranian-American contingent.

5. Join Action Iran at the Stop The War Coalition national demo on March 19th in London. They are meeting at Midday on speaker’s corner in Hyde Park under the Action Iran banner. Or contact them at

* Sima Shakhsari is a Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford University and teaches at SFSU.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Establishing "truth"

by Mana Kia*

This is a story about the negotiations by the EU to halt Iran's nuclear energy program (and alleged nuclear weapons program). Amid the conflicting claims of the EU and Iran, the story has this nifty little picture that is suppose to, I guess, display Iran's "defiance" to EU and US proposals.

The ridiculous thing is that these women are not lined up with guns to defy the EU and US, they are female cadets graduating from police academy. The caption of the picture reads: "Iranian female police cadets stand during a graduation ceremony at Iran's police academy in Tehran March 12, 2005."

Leave it to the American press to create a collage of text and photograph to convey as monstrous a picture of Iran as possible, where EVEN the women, dressed like Islamicstorm troopers, are ready to defend their right to nuke the world at will. The uniformity of their clothing and arms, decontextualized from the fact that it is a municipal police uniform, conveys a sense of mindlessness and militancy. The repugnant power of thepicture depends on and reinforces gender stereotypes of women as passive and peace loving - thus the monstrosity of their "unnatural" behavior.

This collage is framed to established the "truth" of Iran's nuclear energy program as a cover for the development of nuclear weapons. There is no proof of this and Iran is completely within its rights (a la international conventions) to develop nuclear energy.

I am not saying that Iran has no aspirations toward nuclear weapons one way or another. I just wanted to call attention to the fact that media stories such as these persuade readers of a definitive truth, not by offering proof or analysis, but through this sort of manipulative, insidious and distorting persuasion.

Here is the story:
Iran Defiant in Face of United U.S., EU Approach

Sat Mar 12, 7:09 AM ET Top Stories - Reuters

By Paul Hughes

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran (news - web sites) defiantly insisted on Saturday it would never give up its nuclear fuel program despite a new united policy of incentives and threats from Washington and the European Union (news - web sites).

Mana Kia is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at Harvard University.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Families of American soldiers against war

Posted by Sima Shakhsari

This is a part of the letter written by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey Austin Sheehan, an American soldier who was killed in Iraq last year. Cindy Sheehan is the co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. The letter is from William Pitt's blog on

"And, most importantly and devastatingly, this war is based on lies and betrayals. Not one American soldier, nor one Iraqi should have been killed. Common sense would dictate that not one more person should be killed for lies. One of the people, my son, was more than enough for me and my family. I will live in unbearable pain until I die. First of all, because my first born was killed violently, and second of all, because he was killed for a neo-con agenda that only benefits a very chosen few in this world. This agenda and their war machine will chew up and spit out as many of our children as they can unless we stop them now.

Also, your views have the effect of invalidating what I, my organization, Gold Star Families for Peace, and other peace groups are doing to bring our troops home immediately, if not sooner.

In 1967 it was recognized by our government officials that Viet Nam was unwinnable...I don't even know how many more of our troops and innocent Vietnamese were killed before we finally pulled out in 1975. Please use your forum to expose the lies and the devastation this invasion/occupation is causing. We should not stay. We should not let Israel/USA invade Syria or Iran. The consequences of this would be too shocking to even contemplate.

In addition, my family and my group are offended by hearing this administration say that our troops have to remain in Iraq and complete "the mission" to honor our loved one's sacrifices. First of all, no one can explain the mission to us and we don't want any more innocent blood spilled just because it is too late for our soldiers and our families."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Women and War

Posted by Sima Shakhsari*

On International Women's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to post this brilliant piece which was published in Meridian 2.2, 2002. Although it is not directly about the threat of military action on Iran, it discusses the "war on terror," and was written in response to post-September 11, 2001 events. It captures many nuances to which one needs to be attentive in discussing the gendered effects of war and militarism. Click on the text to read the whole thing.

Transnational Feminist Practices Against War

A Statement by Paola Bacchetta, Tina Campt, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, and Jennifer Terry (October 2001)

As feminist theorists of transnational and postmodern cultural formations, we believe that it is crucial to seek non-violent solutions to conflicts at every level of society, from the global, regional, and national arenas to the ordinary locales of everyday life. We offer the following response to the events of September 11 and its aftermath:

First and foremost, we need to analyze the thoroughly gendered and racialized effects of nationalism, and to identify what kinds of inclusions and exclusions are being enacted in the name of patriotism. Recalling the histories of various nationalisms helps us to identify tacit assumptions about gender, race, nation, and class that once again play a central role in mobilization for war. We see that instead of a necessary historical, material, and geopolitical analysis of 9-11, the emerging nationalist discourses consist of misleading and highly sentimentalized narratives that, among other things, reinscribe compulsory heterosexuality and the rigidly dichotomized gender roles upon which it is based. A number of icons constitute the ideal types in the drama of nationalist domesticity that we see displayed in the mainstream media. These include the masculine citizen-soldier, the patriotic wife and mother, the breadwinning father who is head of household, and the properly reproductive family. We also observe how this drama is racialized. Most media representations in the US have focused exclusively on losses suffered by white, middle-class heterosexual families even though those who died or were injured include many people of different races, classes, sexualities, and religions and of at least 90 different nationalities. Thus, an analysis that elucidates the repressive effects of nationalist discourses is necessary for building a world that fosters peace as well as social and economic justice.

Sima Shakhsari is a Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford University and teaches at SFSU.