US vs Iran: a case of rotten apples vs rotten oranges by Anwar Khan
I was reading a recent article by our most esteemed Saker, “US vs Iran – a war of apples vs oranges”, which examined the potential outcomes and scenarios that a war between Iran and US could create. Once again I felt being enlightened by the brilliant military analysis— the kind that only the Saker can provide. Only someone more knowledgeable in military affairs than him can really find an issue with his analysis. But that was until the Saker added an opinion on a religious issue, and suddenly made the article look a little more biased than it should have been, with the usual lionization of Iran and Shias appeared, a common feature now in Russo-Centric political commentary. He said:
Most Iranian are Shia, that is well known. But what is less well-known is one of the key motto’s of the Shia which, I believe, beautifully expresses one of the key features of the Shia ethos, is: “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala”. It basically expresses the willingness to die for the truth at any time and in any place. Millions of Iranians, even those not necessarily very pious, have been raised with this determination to fight and resist, at any cost.(1) (End quote)
Before moving forward, let me clarify here, in no uncertain terms, that this bias is not a crime. We are all biased in some capacity in our perceptions. It cannot possibly be avoided at all times, or even most times. A Russo-centric worldview of contemporary times naturally inhibit a soft spot for Iran as it is seen as an important ally in the Russian efforts to challenge the Uni-polar Anglo-Zionist paradigm. Civilizational parallels between Russia and Iran are also often invoked, though they seem to be of secondary consideration. This is understandable. But what this embrace of Iran by Russo-Centric analysts have done is to (a) promote Iran as this passive political entity trying to peacefully live in a very difficult neighborhood, and overlooking many of Iran related excesses on the sectarian and political front, and (b) conveniently glossing over voices within the Shia community, which offer a much more nuanced view to the algorithm of being than we are led to belief. This, I believe, will not serve us with the complete picture of reality, even if its subscriber hold it to be sufficiently useful as a paradigm. This defensive posture on Iran, without taking into consideration many problems associated with Iranian politics, is also making Russo-centric analysis a little too predictable, and lacking depth.
I am not suggesting that the Saker is consciously peddling (a) and (b). In fact, time and again he has prefaced his writings with disclaimers that he does not hold the Iranian state to be perfect. But nonetheless, the thinly veiled soft spot for Iran shows up in his analysis, and does raise some questions on his objectivity. The folks over at the Soul of the East have gone as further as seeking a metaphysical bond between the Shia and Orthodox ethos, the embodiment of that being, according to them, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein at Karbala.(2) While the last point is beyond the scope of this writing, let us briefly examine points (a) and (b), and see how they fare to the often invoked but little understood Everyday is Ashura and every land is Karbala, or “the willingness to die for the truth at any time and any place”.