Tag: Iran

International Standards on Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press is an essential aspect of functioning democracies.  Be it an institution or an individual, the liberty to express openly is the most important of attributes.  The press, in particular, being the Fourth Estate of a democratic society, is expected to be bold and articulate.  But ground realities differ from ideal conceptions of the function of the press.  In the real world, an array of external factors coaxes or coerces the press into acting against democratic principles. These include advertisers, political parties, businesses and even special interest citizen groups.  In this backdrop, it is interesting to analyze the state of freedom of press in the world today. It is an interesting exercise to find out which countries are exemplary and which are at a nadir. After all, freedom of press has an immediate bearing on the lives and prospects of citizens. It is not an abstract idea whose relevance is confined merely to the academia.

The Freedom House . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Hauss and Dahl’s definition of democracy vis-à-vis ‘American exceptionalism’

Various leading political scientists of the twentieth century have understood, defined and interpreted ‘democracy’ in a variety of ways.  Robert Dahl, arguably the most influential American political scientist of the 20th century reckons that democracy is a utopian concept that is not found anywhere in contemporary geo-politics.  In its stead, leading industrial societies of the world, including the United States have a ‘Plutocracy’, where power is shared and wielded by various major public institutions. Plutocracy is less idealistic than democracy in that it is not the people’s voice but the will of the institutions that holds sway over policy.  But plutocracy is still better than a totalitarian society where power is concentrated in the hands of small ruling elite with no accountability. Dahl classifies political systems under a spectrum of five gradations. At the top of the scale are the fairest systems that employ ‘rational persuasion’ for gathering . . . Read More

Continue Reading

What are the main arguments for and against the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons?

Warfare is one of the most tragic institutions devised by humans.  Many philosophers and intellectuals of by-gone eras have pondered over the destruction left by war.  They have questioned the merits behind purported motives for war.  The scale of human and material loss incurred in wars is hard to justify through reasoning.  If conventional warfare is bad enough then nuclear confrontation is even more catastrophic.  The only known instances of the deployment of nuclear bombs happened toward the closing days of World War II, when Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were atom bombed.  It led to the loss of nearly a million civilian lives and total destruction of the city.  Even those who survived this event, continued to suffer under effects of radioactive radiation for many subsequent years. A generation of Japanese children was born with congenital defects as a result of mothers’ exposure to radiation. Political leaders of today will have to consider their nuclear . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Comparing how Marjane and the young monk deal with their coming of age in ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and…Spring’ respectively

The two films in discussion – ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and …Spring’ are very dissimilar in terms of techniques employed, but share common themes.  Persepolis tells the story of Marjane from her childhood through adulthood in the backdrop of hostile political atmosphere in Iran. It is one of a kind movie, for it is rare that politico-historical subjects are treated in an animation format.  This cinematic experiment has worked out well, as symbolism and abstract depictions are well suited to socio-political drama.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and…Spring is a masterpiece in its own right.  This film treats such difficult subjects as nature v nurture, religion, meaning of life, human tendencies for sin, methods for salvation, etc.  Broad and yet profound in its interpretative scope, the director conveys his musings mainly through visuals set amongst brilliant natural scenery.  Dialogues playing second fiddle as a narrative device but . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Politics of Tolerance vis-a-vis Islamic Republic of Iran

The term ‘Politics of tolerance’ is usually not associated with the ‘Islamic Republic of Iran’.  Currently, the country is in the stronghold of radical Islamic forces and no tolerance is shown for dissidents, secularists and pluralists. While Iran has historically been a conservative society, the America backed coup-de-tat of 1953 proved to be a turning point. This coup inserted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in place of its incumbent leader Mohammed Mossadegh. The irony lies in the fact that Mossadegh was a legitimate and democratically elected leader with significant popular support.  Yet he was seen as an enemy by the intelligentsia of the leading democracy in the world.  The Shah was loyal to Western interests and it was institutions such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which masterminded his ascendency.  Under the Shah, Iran witnessed a transformation toward modern values and a tolerant socio-political culture.  But this was ended with the Islamic wave of the . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Differences in the accounts of the Iran Contra Affair between Christopher Andrew and Tim Weiner

A Portrait of the White HouseThe Iran Contra Scandal still remains one of the dark episodes of the Ronald Reagan Administration that spanned two Presidential terms between 1980 and 1988. Toward the end of 1986, the biggest political and constitutional scandal since Richard Nixon’s implication in the Watergate scandal unraveled in the United States. To the astonishment of the gathered press corps Ronald Reagan admitted that money earned from covert arms deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran had been used to provide weapons for the Contra rebels in . . . Read More

Continue Reading

How successful was the Nixon Doctrine in advancing his foreign policy objectives?

The Nixon Doctrine was presented to the American public on 25th July, 1969 by the then President Richard Nixon.  The doctrine had two important components to it – one pertaining to relationship with allies and the other regarding achieving world peace.  Nixon stated in his address to the nation that the traditional allies of the United States should defend themselves without the latter’s military involvement.  He also set an agenda for achieving world peace through a process of diplomacy.  Later in the year Nixon’s explicated his doctrine . . . Read More

Continue Reading

The Political Situation in Iran

As a strategically important country in the Middle East, the course Iran would take will have profound consequences for the entire region. But given its history and recent developments, the future looks dark and dangerous for both Iran and its enemies.

The recent years had seen a gradual but definite change in Iran’s social conditions. The fundamentalist mullahs have not been as strict in interfering with people’s life-style choices, probably due to the economic advantages presented by a consumerist culture. Considering that two thirds of Iran’s population is under the age of 30, this was seen as a tactical move by the Iranian administrators. For the outside observers this may give the impression of a free society. But the uncolored truth is that this apparent freedom of choice in a supermarket is not . . . Read More

Continue Reading