Joining NIAC: Week 1.8


by bahmani

Thanks to the heads up from Soosan Khanoum, I was able to just make it into the speakers event NIAC put on today in DC. The topic was "The Day After Baghdad: Assessing the Nuclear Talks".

Today, the US tried round 2 of what I will now bet will be 5 rounds of talks. Before Iran announces their bomb just before the US election. I say this because I know what "Hal-Giri" feels like. Just before it happens, my left shoulder aches. Kind of like predicting rain.

As we all expected, since the US offered nothing, Iran gave nothing. Then they agreed to meet in Moscow (Pay up Afshin!), packed their gifts for the kids, got on their planes and flew back home. Apparently the US does not actually know how to negotiate. Apparently Iran sure as hell does. Well, that is natural. We did invent the bazar after all. And bluffing.

The speakers were:

PJ Crowley - He is the administration cog that was removed/retired/quit/fired, for wildly suggesting that the Wikileaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning, was being "mistreated" during his arrest. Or, Homeland Security Uber-Alles. Apparently Crowley has been tamed because today he offered probably the most "...well, it could mean this, or it could mean that..." winning the NIAC award for most boring and untalented assessment one could imagine. Bordering on Tom Ridge-era banality. Sorry PJ, dig deeper next time. You still have a few rounds left in the 'ole chamber. OK, 2.

Aaron David Miller - Singlehandedly finally explained to me why the 6 Secretaries of State he has advised, have mismanaged almost every foreign policy issue related to Iran, that they were presented with. Because he was advising them. While eloquent and humorous at times, Miller apparently still retaining what has got to be the leftovers of the genius of his past, apparently could not fathom why Iran would ever conceive of getting a bomb, AND why Israel could not possibly be seriously considering attacking Iran for having one.

Aaron Hint: Because thanks possibly to you, the US has taught Iran (like N. Korea, Pakistan and Israel) that if you get a bomb, we will instantly take you seriously, and pretty much cater your whole country. Showering you with gifts that would make the new post Arab-Spring now Islamic-Brotherhood-Summer newly elected Pharaohs in Egypt, blush. Or blech. That's why, Aaron.

Bijan Khajehpour - Actually the 2nd smartest man on the panel. Yes, before you go there, this is the very same Bijan Khajehpour the head of the infamous Atieh Bazar and their assorted franchises. I know, but Bazar sounds more accurate. But, he was smart and charming and funny and you know what? You cannot fault his logic. He is right, as much as you might want to wish it wasn't so, Iran is what it is, and you have to deal with them. That, and Iran is really far smarter than the US.

What I saw in Bijan's eyes however, was not a defiant IRI aparatchik or a cocky back-dealing businessman as advertised. I saw quite a bit of fear. Possibly the fear that spending time in an Iranian prison affords you. Possibly the fear that one gets when you suddenly realize, "Holy Shit! I'm the smartest person here! These guys are total idiots! And if I'm the smart one.... Holy Shit!"

George Perkovich - I take it back, George was not the most totally boring American in a Grey Flannel Suit. Although for a Nuclear Policy expert, he was surprisingly out of Nuclear Policy ideas. Actually now that I think about it Nuclear Policy is pretty banal itself. I mean, how hard is it to policy? All you really need to do is determine the conditions whereby you either will Nuke your adversary, or you won't. End of Policy. How much do these jobs pay?

Trita Parsi - Before the meeting began, I went up to him to say Hi. Given my recent amped attacks on NIAC not engaging Iran, I did not want him to scan the room during the event, and then suddenly lock on me and freak out. Not that he would. He was genuinely happy to see me, which was a relief, and glad I came, and after some words of hello and how are you, he said, "Be Fair".

So to be fair, Trita was the smartest person in the room.

After the discussion, the floor opened up to questions, mostly from the media and Capitol Hill. John Garamendi's Chief of Staff Charles Dambach announced that they had recently signed a bill increasing the reasons why the US could attack Iran, then in the same breath mind you, asked if this was helpful or harmful. And in one short sentence, beautifully proved everything that we have ever feared about Congress, to be entirely true. The good news is that it turns out not to have been the case, that George Bush was smarter than we thought. It is that Congress is really this dumb.

The conclusion? Like all perfectly poetic punditry, blissfully inconclusive. And certainly worth every penny the price of admission. The room was full with about 100, mix of interns, assorted media, and the well-miked if not well-liked. The refreshments about as tepid as the conclusion, bottled water and watered down cafeteria coffee. Left over from the Eisenhower era I believe. One sure sign that NIAC is not an IRI lobby? The IRI has better food. Actually the IRA has better food.

After the event I hung around to close it out properly and had a fascinating conversation with my first actual Zionist. Daniel, (no really!) who was obviously concerned. I took the opportunity to correct his pronunciation of Iran (ah-ran). And listened to the fears and obvious concern. During a pause I had to interject the issue of the Palestinians and suggested that from this side, "Ghettofication" with a full on proper wall, was a big PR problem for Israel. Daniel tried to suggest most of the barrier was a fence, but soon smiled and backed off realizing he wasn't helping the image with that. We settled nicely though, and exchanged cards. I hope to engage him more. That was very good.

Thanks to Reza Marashi, NIAC's Research Director, I was also able to somewhat clear up NIAC's seemingly unreasonable position against the MEK delisting. He clarified that NIAC is not that against it as long as the MEK gives up their weapons and renounces the use of terror and violence. Which makes total sense. I think we'd all sleep safer knowing that the MEK in our midst, aren't packing.

The event was funded by the Ploughshares fund. Which is somewhat baffling because for an organization that is primarily dedicated to getting rid of Nuclear weapons, I sat though an event today that was pretty much focused on how smart Iran was in its path to getting them, and how stupid and inept the US is at preventing Iran from it.

Which brings me to my usual tirade. Namely that NIAC's continued refusal to engage Iran in any way, with the interests section in the Pakistan embassy, barely a scant 10 minutes from today's meeting, especially with these kinds of experts, on this very important topic, is stunning.

One can forgive the US for its ignorance, ineptitude, and inability to engage in common street merchant haggling. Bowling and Golf can do that to you. But to pretend that the red, white, and green elephant, the only one in the room with the nuclear intent, is not practically part of the conversation, is seriously frightening. Serious, dude. Don't.

Scarier still, is that Ploughshares and the Pundit Confit assembled for a mid-afternoon tea, all appeared to cordially agree that where Iran's nuclear ambitions is concerned, Iran has no place at this table.

Sitting in the cheap seats, one has to wonder if there is ever any intention at all. Any real solution that can come of it, and if all of this is just purely for the titillating thrill of pretending to play Foreign Policy. The bored game.


more from bahmani
Shazde Asdola Mirza

thanks Bahmani, for another great satirical piece on NIAC and us

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Dr. Mohandes

Jumping in!

by Dr. Mohandes on

I think Mr. bahmani will be so tempted to just dance all of this stuff off with some Ghere too kamar:)))

Ferri jan (if i may call you ferri) You are Daaaa Bomb!

You tambien hombre:)


or maybe like this

by Faramarz on



Doctor Mohandes,

You are one of a kind! Have a great weekend.

Dr. Mohandes

Eeet eez like Dees

by Dr. Mohandes on

That is how i feel about her:


aha...hala dast...hala ye reez bia...:))


Doctor Mohandes Jaan

by Faramarz on

I knew that you had a soft spot for Soosan Khanoom. Ey Naa-Gholaa!

Dr. Mohandes

Not my place

by Dr. Mohandes on

But i just have to jump in and well, field a few  shots, keyboards, oh i don't know, whatever label/tag people want to associate me with. anywhoo. after reading the following. I hope Dr. ala would not mind:)

faramarz jan. I think you are jumping the gun here. I agree with everything that you said in your reply to soosan joon:) , all very real and very true, however when it comes to passing judgment on Dr. ala, you are way off mister! I doubt if What dr. ala said down there, was part of any classified information, that is just something the whole world knows, even the americans themselves. I would be preaching to the choir , telling you about it, since i know that you know better.

I have met With dr. ala during few  of his recent visit to iran and we had great conversations about so many thing. When it comes to looking in the mirror, you can bet that he has done that and he has done his homework and he is not at all about USA being bad and IRI being way up there. I think what you are doing here is comparing apples to orages, Yes, Trillions have gone down the drain because of massive mismanagements and f...up policies and ARE Still happening, But that does not Get US off the hook. You know that is true.

Bottom line: Please be fair and don't pass any judgment before you at least meet the fellow. I do understand Your heavy and major criticism of NIAC along with other fellows on this site, and heck, i am not even too fond of them and even have told dr. ala about it (have i not?) but there is a terrible mix up here and intentions are being misinterpreted.

Now, having said all of that, Who wants a Sugar-sided Tea?:)) Mehmooneh Soosan khanoom joon:)



Mr. Ala

by Faramarz on

Why are we going back to Iraq and Afghanistan when we are talking about the Regime in Iran?

If the US is so bad, why are we living here and want to do business with her?

Around a million or so Iranians have died because of this Regime. Billions of dollars of natural resources (including human brains) have gone to waste and fraud because of these people. And we are still trying to place the blame on the US.

Let's look in the mirror once in a while, as hard as it may be.


Soosan Khanoom

by Faramarz on


The three pillars of this Regime are hejab, death to America, and death to Israel. When and if this Regime compromises on one of those pillars, it will be the end of the Islamic Republic as we know it.

You may be ok with putting a scarf on once in a while that you travel to Iran for vacation. Most Iranian women that I know here or those who have just come from there have a problem with hejab.

Palestinians and Israelis will reach an agreement sooner or later, but this Regime and its supporters will not accept that.

The Regime will compromise with the US out of necessity for its survival, but it will never accept the US. Opening an embassy in Tehran will only create another potential hostage situation as we saw in the case of the recent ransacking of the British embassy.

Regime change is the only way forward. 

Mohammad Ala


by Mohammad Ala on

Service or Negotiation?"

A few months ago I told the American people that I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that is true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not." — President Ronald Reagan WP, March 5, 1987. LOL.  


On April 23, 2012, speaking in Washington, DC, President Barack Obama told his assembled audience that as president "I've done my utmost ... to prevent and end atrocities".


There are the multiple atrocities carried out in Iraq. There are the multiple atrocities carried out in Afghanistan and Pakistan under his watch,

Fox News, NPR, CNN, NBC, et al. will continue to claim that Iran has violated NPT.


Obama, is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As are Henry Kissinger and Menachim Begin/Arafat. And several other such war-loving beauties.   As long as there are free oil from Iraq and Bahrain, WHY to negotiate with Iran?


And she gets pissed for calling her niloofar...

by Cost-of-Progress on

Anonymous Observer

EA- as much as I am aware of your penchant for carrying on

by Anonymous Observer on

and carrying on, and carrying on...with meaningless debates, I will end this back and forth by saying that the situations were different.  I will further not carry on with this debate out of respect for VPK who is not on this thread.

So, as they say in Rome: Ciao!  Feel free to carry on if you wish.   

Anahid Hojjati

Soosan Khanoom, quit your campaign of misinformation

by Anahid Hojjati on

the hostage taking was done by daneshjooyane khate emam. tudeh had nothing with it but supported it just like mujahedeen, fadian, and most left groups supported it too. you are very shameless in your misinformation campaign and you have chosen a wrong site to do it. on ic we have many 45 to 55 year old contributors and they all know who did the hostage taking. 

Esfand Aashena

AO that's funny! read your comment again!

by Esfand Aashena on

Everything is sacred

Anonymous Observer

EA and HG

by Anonymous Observer on

EA- No.  he posted the same comment on two different threads, and I posted the response to both of them.  Unlike VPK who used to chase me from thread to thread, I haven't had any interactions with Mr. Ala for a long time now.

HG- You have a good point.  Didn't think of it that way.   

Esfand Aashena

AO 4 some1 who doesnt like 2 b stalked by VPK y r u stalkin Ala?

by Esfand Aashena on

Everything is sacred

hamsade ghadimi

a.o., i don't think bahmani

by hamsade ghadimi on

a.o., i don't think bahmani is wasting his time if his intention is to be in the reform business a la ...  a critical thinker would find it valid to question the management of niac's relationship with bob ney, casmii, amirahmadi, atieh bahar, and those who benefit from normalizing trade with iri.  a debate that niacis or their hopeful "reformers" conviniently ignore.

Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

I believe U.S has been doing that for a long time .. The problem is with U.S asking the world to do so due to AIPAC pressure and the banksters mentality which is ruling the world today.  That is wrong !

Still, capturing of the U.S embassy which, by the way, was conducted by our dear Todeh friends has been the most treason act ever done after revoultion. Certainly it did not have the Iranian people in mind.  That illegal act which was later supported by the Ayatollahs yielded to 8 years war and decades of hostility between these two countries.  

It is time for U.S to open an embassy in Iran but ... Todeh , yes, still Todeh, won't let that to happen. In addition to that Israel will commit suicide if that ever happens.  Now who are those who chant death to America?   Some have long term plans for destruction of Iran and some are just plain  " khar "  ....  



Anonymous Observer

I think you're wasting your time Bruce

by Anonymous Observer on

While I'm not opposed to attending lectures by those who disagree with my point of view, I am opposed to attending lectures when I know I will hear the same thing that I have heard umpteenth times before--as in the case of NIAC and Parsi.  

Anyway, I'll be in DC this weekend.  I love Memorial Day in DC, with all the events happening there honoring those who gave their lives fighting for our adopted homeland.  Perhaps I'll run into you at Moby Dick, or if you're fan of space, perhaps at the Smithsonian Air and Space or Natural History museums, which I always visit while I'm down there. 

Anonymous Observer

Amir jaan-here's a translation of prof. Ala's two point position

by Anonymous Observer on

"energy hasteii hagh mossalam maast;" AND

"Everything is Israel's fault."

Now, where have we heard these slogans before...hmmmm? :-)

Does this slogan chanting have anything to do with the good professor's recent visit to Iran?! 


We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service!

by Faramarz on


International trade is not a right, it is a privilege.

If a country's leadership says "Death to America" day-in and day-out, killing US service men in Beirut and Iraq and threatens US allies with destruction and annihilation, then what is wrong with the US saying "we don't want to buy your oil, we don't want our trade partners to do business with you and, if anyone does business with you, they cannot do business with us."

Is this so hard to understand? 


Negotiations fail because IRI is a terrorist regime

by AMIR1973 on

Sanctions against the Islamist terrorist regime are NOT illegal. Doing business with the Islamist terrorist regime is illegal and immoral.

Mohammad Ala

Why negotiations fail.

by Mohammad Ala on

Good for you for attending this meeting.  If I were there I would have brought up two points:

(1)   Illegal sanctions against the people of Iran must be lifted (e.g., Chicago Convention in regard to Civilian airplane parts).

(2)   Keep hearing about a country that has not signed NPT and has hundreds of nuclear warheads and is a violator of international law and has ignored over 200 Security Council resolutions makes any negotiations to fail.

Soosan Khanoom

hey .. you made it

by Soosan Khanoom on

I wish I could have attended it too.  So many thanks for taking your time and blogging about it.  Not only I like the style of your writing which carries unique sense of humor but also I enjoy the non-biased updates that you are providing us with.  

I have the same question, Iranian officials ? Why was there no one?  Could it be that the ones in DC are not really the officials and the one who are cannot leave New York?  Visa issue?  Or perhaps NIAC deliberately ignores them in general!   You have brought up a good point and I have no idea really !



by Kabriat on

Again, I don't care if you shine NIAC in a good or bad light.  But the thing I enjoyed about your article was that it was observational.  You described what you saw and reflected on it.  Keep it up.