Advocates for overthrow of Iran’s government educate American high school teachers

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 16 Comments
Ahmari Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal writer and neoconservative advocate for military intervention in Iran (Photo: Northeastern.edu)

Americans badly need sober and well-informed analysis of Iran. They have been weaned on decades of television and movies that demonize Arabs and Muslims, including Iranians, and U.S. corporate media remains averse to some basic facts.

So it’s generally a good thing when a foreign policy institute comes up with the idea to educate American high school teachers on Iranian politics. But how about when two of the educators are ardent advocates of regime change in Iran?

Over the weekend, the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) brought together 44 high school teachers from around the country for “a professional development conference on ‘Understanding Iran and the Geopolitics of the Middle East.’” The teachers came from 39 schools across 21 states.

Here’s the e-mail announcement for the event I got, minus the list of schools participating:

On Saturday and Sunday, October 27-28, 44 high school teachers
from 39 schools across 21 states will attend a professional
development conference on “Understanding Iran and the Geopolitics
of the Middle East.” (List of “Schools by State” is provided below.)

Sponsored by the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Madeleine and
W. W. Keen Butcher History Institute and FPRI’s Wachman Center for
Civic and International Literacy in association with the Senator
John Heinz History Center and the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh,
the conference will be held at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania.

Through these history weekends, FPRI seeks to provide teachers with the larger historical, geographical and cultural context of contemporary
international affairs — in this case the question of Iran. Information about FPRI’s educational programs is available here or http://www.fpri.org/education/

Top scholars and writers in the field will address the teachers,
including —

Amin Tarzi, Director of Middle East Studies at Marine
Corps University, on “What Every American Needs to Know about Iran”

Farhad Kazemi, Professor of Politics and Middle Eastern and Islamic
Studies, NYU

John Calvert, Associate Professor of History, Creighton University,
on “Shi’ism and the Islamic Republic of Iran”

David Crist, Senior Historian for the US Government, on his new book
“The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict
with Iran”

Roya Kakakian on her book “Assassins of the Turqoise Palace”

Sohrab Ahmari, Assistant Book Editor at the Wall Street Journal, on
“The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Islamism”

Lawrence Husick, Co-Chair of FPRI’s Center for the Study of Terrorism,
on Understanding Stuxnet and Other Cover Resposnes to the Iranian
Nuclear Program”

Michael S. Doran, Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy,
The Brookings Institution, on “The US and Iran in Geopolitical Perspecttive.”

FPRI’s Butcher History Institute is co-chaired by Pulitzer Prizewinning
historian Walter A. McDougall and David Eisenhower.

The vast majority of the scholars are reputable. But two of the scholars who educated high school teachers about Iran last weekend are proponents for overthrowing the Iranian government: former Bush administration official Michael Doran and Wall Street Journal opinion writer Sohrab Ahmari.

Doran taught a session titled, “The US and Iran in Geopolitical Perspective,” with Ahmari lecturing on “The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Islamism.”

Doran is “close to militarist factions in the Republican Party” and “has advocated a passel of ‘regime change’ policies targeting the Middle East,” according to Right Web, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies that tracks hawks on the Middle East. He served as Former Deputy Assistant Secretary under the Bush Administration and is now a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

In January 2010, Doran took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to argue for U.S. support of the Iranian opposition in order to change “the character of the Iranian leadership.” Doran and co-author James Glassman, another Bush administration official, argued for “moral and educational support for the Green Revolution opposition movements.”

Back in 2006, The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh reported on strong opposition within the U.S. military to an attack on Iran. Many in the military argued that with the U.S. still embroiled in Iraq, bombing Iran “would heighten the risks to American and coalition forces inside Iraq.” Hersh quoted retired Army Major General William Nash as saying that if the U.S. attacked Iran, the country’s “first possible response would be to send forces into Iraq. And, since the Iraqi Army has limited capacity, it means that the coalition forces would have to engage them.” But the advocates for regime change had an answer for the military.

“The Iran hawks in the White House and the State Department, including Elliott Abrams and Michael Doran, both of whom are National Security Council advisers on the Middle East, also have an answer for those who believe that the bombing of Iran would put American soldiers in Iraq at risk, the [Pentagon] consultant said,” according to Hersh. “He described the counterargument this way: ‘Yes, there will be Americans under attack, but they are under attack now.’”

Ahmari, an ardent neoconservative and an Iranian-American, is even more explicit about the overthrow of Iran’s government. As MJ Rosenberg pointed out for Al Jazeera English, Ahmari is sure that the overthrow of the Iranian regime would be a good thing. In the pages of Commentary magazine last March, Ahmari crows that “regime collapse in Iran represents a historic chance for advancing democratic development there and, by extension, the wider Middle East and North Africa.” Sounds familiar to the arguments of the Iraq-era neocons.

Their inclusion in FPRI’s program should come as no surprise, though. FPRI is “one of the oldest right-wing think tanks” and their “writers and in-house scholars routinely supported the Bush administration’s counterterrorism, Israel, missile defense, and anti-multilaterism policies,” Right Web notes.

Still, Ahmari’s and Doran’s involvement in educating high school teachers on Iran prompts this question: do American parents really want their high school teachers parroting what they learned from two advocates for more conflict with Iran? And what are these high schools doing going to learn from an explicitly right-wing think tank, particularly when there’s no strong voice against sanctions and war?

Update: Here’s a list of the schools who attended the FPRI program:

Schools Represented by State

California
Independence High School
Salesian High School

Connecticut
The Hopkins School
Taft School

Florida
Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School
Suncoast Community High School

Georgia
Henry County High School

Illinois
Deerfield High School
Morton High School

Louisiana
Ruston High School

Michigan
Richmond High School

Minnesota
Metcalf Junior High School

North Carolina
Hunter Huss High School

Nebraska
Lincoln North Star High School

New Jersey
Bloomfield Public Schools
Livingston High School
Trenton Central High School

New Mexico
Santa Fe Prep

New York
Carmel High School
Emma Willard School
Marble Hill School for International Studies
Smithtown High School West

Ohio
Laurel School

Oregon
Bandon High School

Pennsylvania
Athens Area School District
Central High School
Germantown Academy
Olney Charter High School
Schuylkill Valley High School
West Philadelphia Catholic HS
Westtown School

Tennessee
Gibson County High School

Texas
Bellaire High School, Houston Independent School District
Flower Mound High School
Keystone School

Utah
Altamont High School

Virginia
Atlee High School

Wisconsin
Beaver Dam High School

BRAZIL (!)
University of São Paulo

16 Responses

  1. jimbowski
    October 30, 2012, 10:46 am

    I wonder how many teachers know about the CIA’s 1953 overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected leader that installed the American-backed dictator we knew as “The Shah,” who brutalized and tortured political dissidents for 25 years, which thereby sparked the 1979 Islamic revolution? Here’s a good video: “History of Iran & USA in 10 minutes”: link to youtu.be

    • Keith
      October 30, 2012, 12:44 pm

      JIMBOWSKI- Yes, and the extent to which the US supported and guided the him, including the establishment of “The Shah’s brutal secret police force, Savak, formed under the guidance of CIA (the United States Central Intelligence Agency) in 1957 and personnel trained by Mossad (Israel’s secret service), to directly control all facets of political life in Iran.”
      link to angelfire.com

    • Kathleen
      October 31, 2012, 9:47 am

      logical point

  2. marc b.
    October 30, 2012, 11:37 am

    why can’t you publish the list of schools, or link to a source that does list them? i’d like to know if any of the schools are from my home state, or my school district.

  3. Egbert
    October 30, 2012, 3:13 pm

    The Butcher History Institute?

    They certainly are doing a good job at that.

  4. examinator
    October 31, 2012, 1:10 am

    It seems to me that why the ‘right'(sic) are succeeding so well is simply that they’re doing these sort of things. Meanwhile the ‘left’ (sic) are just tut tuting or complaining.
    Remember the old adage “all you need for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing”…..
    The mass population is operating in a information vacuum. the right wing wheel may be crooked but it’s the only one in town or at least visible.
    The left need to mobilise and do the same thing but better and bigger, less politically dogmatic .
    The key is not to go in there pumping left wing ideology the key should be the left need to be more credible to the natives …stop frightening them. with radical rhetoric. ‘softly softly catchee monkey’
    A head on attack will simply make them more intransigent…curmudgeonly.

    • LeaNder
      October 31, 2012, 4:55 am

      Hello, you really look like an exterminator! I am frightened! are you poisonous, accidentially?

      “all you need for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing”…..

      At least you don’t attribute it to Edmund Burke. Consider the new meaning this quote has adopted in one of it’s most famous recent usages or variations as a fundraising slogan/motto. Notice, you are “good” if you shoot the suspicious out there; you would be evil if you let him get away. Who is suspicious? Well that’s actually not a big problem, as long as you stand your ground. That’s the good message for every NRA member out there, who is constantly suspicous.

      How about this:
      “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” [Edmund Burke]

      welcome by the way. I always appreciate to get a little gravatar company. ;)

    • LeaNder
      October 31, 2012, 11:03 am

      The left need to mobilise and do the same thing but better and bigger, less politically dogmatic .

      My humor is limited, I freely admit. I should leave it to our dear old Mooser. But I accidentally had the same idea concerning the larger context of a recent usage of the quote you used on my mind. prophilactic sequestration

      Accident really, no harm meant.

    • Mooser
      November 1, 2012, 6:10 pm

      “The key is not to go in there pumping left wing ideology the key should be the left need to be more credible to the natives …stop frightening them. with radical rhetoric. ‘softly softly catchee monkey’”

      You’ll always have sucess persuading people when you call them “natives” (meaning rube) and monkeys.
      At any rate, I’ll turn your prescriptions over to “the left” immediately. I hope they give it all the attention it deserves.

  5. Accentitude
    October 31, 2012, 8:19 am

    Oh wow, look at that. Another arm chair revolutionary advocating for the overthrow of Iran’s government from the safety of his high-rise office, hundreds of thousands of miles away.

    It’s convenient to advocate for armed resistance against a sovereign nation’s government when you don’t have to be involved in armed resistance against a sovereign nation’s government. I don’t know about you but where I come from (which technically doesn’t exist per se, thanks to Uncle Sam and the big bad bibi monster), what these fools are calling for is “state-sponsored terrorism.”

  6. Kathleen
    October 31, 2012, 9:48 am

    Great post Alex. Interesting how Americans thinking both old and young can be manipulated. According to what you have reported many of the Scholars are focused on some facts.

  7. hophmi
    November 1, 2012, 5:49 pm

    “do American parents really want their high school teachers parroting what they learned from two advocates for more conflict with Iran? ”

    There are nine scholars on the list. You’ve shown that 2 of the 9 have advocated overthrow of the Iranian regime. What is your problem with including people who advocate the overthrow of the regime? They were part of the panel, not the whole panel. It’s certainly a legitimate political position.

    • Cliff
      November 1, 2012, 6:09 pm

      It’s not a legitimate political position.

      What the hell is ‘legitimate’ anyway? LOL

      Less passive-aggressiveness hoppy. Just come out and say you want a regime change in Iran with the US doing the grunt-work.

      Iran is not going to nuke Israel. Iran is not a threat to world peace.

      The United States and Israel have done all the things Iran has done (supporting terrorism, killing civilians, etc. etc.) and with total immunity.

      And anyways, this panel is worthless Zionist claptrap.

      If you are a Jewish nationalist, Islamophobe, or Christian fundamentalist then you will support Israel. That’s an accurate rough estimate of the kinds of freaks who support Israel and buy into this fear-mongering nonsense.

      If those kids fall into any of those categories (meaning if they come from a household that fell into any of those categories) then they’ll eat up that organized hate-fest with a spoon.

      • hophmi
        November 1, 2012, 7:59 pm

        “Just come out and say you want a regime change in Iran with the US doing the grunt-work. ”

        I thought we were excluding this kind of nonsense.

        This is NOT my position. DO NOT MISQUOTE ME AGAIN.

        I am against a military attack on Iran, have been before and will continue to be. I do not understand why people who disagree with me, however, should be excluded from discussion of the issue.

    • Mooser
      November 1, 2012, 6:12 pm

      “What is your problem with including people who advocate the overthrow of the regime? They were part of the panel, not the whole panel. It’s certainly a legitimate political position.”

      Well, then, I’m relieved we won’t be hearing any kvetching from you when Mondoweiss openly calls for overthrowing the Zionist regime. I can’t stand a spoilsport.

      • hophmi
        November 1, 2012, 7:57 pm

        You mean like others on the panel probably kvetched at the two guys who supported regime change?

        What do you have against a panel representing a diverse spectrum of views?

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