Monday, March 13, 2006

Inside the US's regime-change school

For a couple years the Bush Administration has been rattling war against Iran (and Syria). (see here, here, here, and background material for the Iraq war for some of my previous coverage).

The justification is said to be Iran's plan to build out nuclear weapons ability. Except Iran says their plans are for peaceful nuclear power production, just for electricity. And, in any case, Iran is a Non Proliferation Treaty signatory and apparently they haven't done anything to violate that treaty. It's more than a little contradictory that on the one hand we are threatening Iran, who has yet to violate the NPT, while we are making a broad deal with India to support their nuclear power program, and India has never signed on to the NPT and is known to have (today) nuclear weapons.

Logic has never been a strong suit of the Bush Administration. And given their clear goal of toppling Iran after toppling Iraq we shouldn't be surprised to have them invent some kind of justification for launching a new war.

Inside the US's regime-change school offers an interesting glimpse into a "regime change school". It's clear to me the article isn't highly verifiable, instead it's an account of one person who "accidentally" attended a secretive U.S. backed program to train activists in methods that can be used to topple a government.

The "school" was a week-long session held at a Holiday Inn in Dubai. Sessions were led by members of the Otpor democratic movement that overthrew the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. And, given the secretive nature of the "school" the hotel advertised them as "Griffin Hospital".

In class, the Serbian instructors organized role-playing games in which the participants would assume the personas of characters such an Iranian woman or a Shi'ite cleric. Throughout these exercises in empathy and psychology, stress was laid on the importance of ridiculing the political elite as an effective tool of demythologizing them in the eyes of the people.

"They taught us what methods they used in Serbia to bring down Milosevic," Nilofar said. "They taught us some of them so we could choose the best one to bring down the regime, but they didn't mention directly bringing down the regime - they just taught us what they had done in their own country."

Hurm... your tax dollars at work, I suppose.

Later in the article Nilofar described the activists as mahrum, a Farsi word for deprived. Apparently the ones inside Iran most clamoring for change are "lower-class families who have been deprived of everything and now they've decided to overthrow the government".