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Point, counter-point

Replies in earnest
On the complete idiot's guide to the CIA

September 19, 2003
The Iranian

A reply from Parkhash to "Notable success!", followed by a reply from the author:

There are a number of notable errors in Moe's pedantic review of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the CIA. A point by point response, only to technical errors, is presented here. I leave the political misinterpretations to another time (numbers kept as original):

1. I take it that you are fiercely anti-British (or should I say pro-American) but making up English spelling rules is not the best strategy in bringing down the remnants of British Empire. Let me explain. It is perfectly correct to spell the noun 'shah' with lower case 's'. The term is used to refer, in a general sense, to an Iranian sovereign as the term sultan' is used in reference to an Islamic ruler. When used in general sense (as was the case in your quoted passage from the book) the shah should not be capitalised (unless you insist on adhering to your royal etiquette)! Only when as part of a title can the shah become the Shah. (see the link in 5)

4. You are also being creative in your spelling of MI6 (or as you spell it MI-6). Where the dash (hyphen) comes from I don't know but I can assure you that James Bond, as dashing a fellow as he is, is still employed by a dashless MI6.

5. This one is a common mistake, and not particularly your fault, but I expected better from a man with an eye for details. I can't imagine the late premier would have been happy to see the spelling of his surname so closely associated with the Israeli intelligence service: Mossad! The phonetically correct spelling of the late premier's name is Mosaddeq (with emphasis or tashdid on 'd' and ending in 'q' - see Encyclopedia Britannica). Why some people still insist in writing the late premier's name by adding the suffix 'egh' after the Israel's dreaded Mossad is beyond me.

7. Another popular error. Contrary to the popular belief (and with advance apology to my nationalist friends) the late premier Mosaddeq was never elected to his post - he was appointed by the monarch, as were all the post-Mashruteh prime ministers before and after him. The prime ministers were appointed by the shah and an elected parliament would accept or reject their appointments. And if you are referring to Mosaddeq's dissolution of Majlis and holding a general referendum, let me suffice by directing those interested to read the limits of the authority invested in the post of prime minister under the constitution of 1906.

Enough errors for one letter Moe? I think this should keep you busy for some time.


Reply from the author of "Notable success!" to Parkhash:

I see that the stone thrower throwing stones at the stone thrower isn't sinless either! And I'm quite surprised (maybe even a little disappointed) that you didn't pick on a few other grammatical errors (like in my point #9), which were a result of overzealousness, haste, and perhaps a little bravado.

But while my haste in writing a small piece of interest to readers (although I never intended it as a "review" of a book -- that was the Editor's decision) may be forgiven, should we apply the same clemency (or scrutiny!) to a book published on a topic of much import to world events of the last half century, as your letter seems to imply?

Ok... -- if your stone throwing was in jest, I accept. Hey, I even got a chuckle out of it. But if you truly mean to equate these two glass houses, I'm afraid your relativity scale is way off. Back to Physics 101 for you young man.

But in all good fun, let me reply in earnest to your points.

(1) There is no effort expended on my part "bringing down the remnants of British Empire." I'd say what "remnants" remain are by now ground to a fine powder. As it is, the "Empire" can't seem to be able to sneeze without official prior approval from the idiots in Washington (...oh, and there goes your theory about my pro-Americanism!). But if I did have an ulterior motive regarding the British, it would certainly be to shed light on their snooty, haughty, self-serving, belligerent and atrocious imperialism of the past. (Curiously, some of these adjectives still apply today when speaking of the British!)

1a - The book wasn't talking about a shah, but about the Shah! (rhymes with duh!). And you'd have a heck of a time making the case that Iran's shahs were sovereign (in the strict sense of the term), especially the last shah, also known as the Shah.

1b - Sultan usually refers to a ruler of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Most Muslim states of the Middle East variety would opt for Emir or Caliph. (My favorite is Despot.) Of course, that didn't stop Aref (popular singer of bygone days, though he is still at it) from assuming the title of Soltan-e Ghalbha.

(4) Ok - that was entirely the Editor's fault. No, it wasn't -- I thought I could get away with it, but I think JJ might actually read this! Anyway, I sincerely hope Mr. Bond can forgive my tactless dashing of his beloved organization. I'm inclined to believe, however, that he has other dashing objects occupying his libidinous head, eh, mind -- apparently unlike you and I! :o(

(5) Well, I guess if the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica says it should be " Mosaddeq," then who is I to argue! :) I guess next you'll be telling us to mind our Qorme Sabzi (oh, excuse me, Sabsi to the British) and listen to Siavash Qomayshi -- whose first name, by the way, was changed from Ciavash for precisely the same reason (although I can't back this up with a link to the venerable Britannica as its editors apparently don't listen to Persian music much).

(7) Quite right. The term "elected" is used very (and I mean very) loosely when speaking of Iran's past, the Shah's reign being no exception. And, frankly, it should be done away with in such circumstances. But that he was popular - and by far! - is undisputable (unless, of course, the almighty Britannica says otherwise).

7a -While we're on the subject of the 1906 constitution, why not also point out that the shah (referring to any shah, see point 1 above) could not legally remove the prime minister. Heck even the Americans were aware of this pseudo-legality as they duped the Shah into signing the decree removing Mossadegh from power. With Mossadegh's doctorate in jurisprudence from Switzerland and with his demonstrated life-long allegiance and fidelity to the rule of law, I think the comparison between he and the Shah in matters of law-of-the-land is rather a moot point.

Here's to hoping I didn't miss any dashes, - commas, or. periods...



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