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War in the Caucasus: Towards a Broader Russia-US Military Confrontation?


by Michel Chossudovsky


Global Research, August 10, 2008



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During the night of August 7, coinciding with the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Georgia's president Saakashvili ordered an all-out military attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia.

The aerial bombardments and ground attacks were largely directed against civilian targets including residential areas, hospitals and the university. The provincial capital Tskhinvali was destroyed. The attacks resulted in some 1500 civilian deaths, according to both Russian and Western sources. "The air and artillery bombardment left the provincial capital without water, food, electricity and gas. Horrified civilians crawled out of the basements into the streets as fighting eased, looking for supplies." (AP, August 9, 2008). According to reports, some 34,000 people from South Ossetia have fled to Russia. (Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, August 10, 2008)

The importance and timing of this military operation must be carefully analyzed. It has far-reaching implications.

Georgia is an outpost of US and NATO forces, on the immediate border of the Russian Federation and within proximity of the Middle East Central Asian war theater. South Ossetia is also at the crossroads of strategic oil and gas pipeline routes.








Georgia does not act militarily without the assent of Washington. The Georgian head of State is a US Pr o _x y and Georgia is a de facto US protectorate.
Who is behind this military agenda? What interests are being served? What is the purpose of the military operation.

There is evidence that the attacks were carefully coordinated by the US military and NATO.

Moscow has accused NATO of "encouraging Georgia". Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underscored the destabilizing impacts of "foreign" military aid to Georgia: .

“It all confirms our numerous warnings addressed to the international community that it is necessary to pay attention to massive arms purchasing by Georgia during several years. Now we see how these arms and Georgian special troops who had been trained by foreign specialists are used,” he said.(Moscow accuses NATO of having "encouraged Georgia" to attack South Ossetia, Russia Today, August 9, 2008)

Moscow's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, sent an official note to the representatives of all NATO member countries:

“Russia has already begun consultations with the ambassadors of the NATO countries and consultations with NATO military representatives will be held tomorrow," Rogozin said. "We will caution them against continuing to further support of Saakashvili."

“It is an undisguised aggression accompanied by a mass propaganda war,” he said.

(See Moscow accuses NATO of having "encouraged Georgia" to attack South Ossetia, Russia Today, August 9, 2008)

According to Rogozin, Georgia had initially planned to:

"start military action against Abkhazia, however, 'the Abkhaz fortified region turned out to be unassailable for Georgian armed formations, therefore a different tactic was chosen aimed against South Ossetia', which is more accessible territorially. The envoy has no doubts that Mikheil Saakashvili had agreed his actions with "sponsors", "those with whom he is negotiating Georgia's accession to NATO ". (RIA Novosti, August 8, 2008)

Contrary to what was conveyed by Western media reports, the attacks were anticipated by Moscow. The attacks were timed to coincide with the opening of the Olympics, largely with a view to avoiding frontpage media coverage of the Georgian military operation.

On August 7, Russian forces were in an advanced state readiness. The counterattack was swiftly carried out.

Russian paratroopers were sent in from Russia's Ivanovo, Moscow and Pskov airborne divisions. Tanks, armored vehicles and several thousand ground troops have been deployed. Russian air strikes have largely targeted military facilities inside Georgia including the Gori military base.

The Georgian military attack was repelled with a massive show of strength on the part of the Russian military.




In this image made from television, Russian military vehicles are seen moving towards the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008. (AP / APTN)

Act of Provocation?

US-NATO military and intelligence planners invariably examine various "scenarios" of a proposed military operation-- i.e. in this case, a limited Georgian attack largely directed against civilian targets, with a view to inflicting civilian casualties.

The examination of scenarios is a routine practice. With limited military capabilities, a Georgian victory and occupation of Tskhinvali, was an impossibility from the outset. And this was known and understood to US-NATO military planners.


A humanitarian disaster rather than a military victory was an integral part of the scenario. The objective was to destroy the provincial capital, while also inflicting a significant loss of human life.

If the objective were to restore Georgian political control over the provincial government, the operation would have been undertaken in a very different fashion, with Special Forces occupying key public buildings, communications networks and provincial institutions, rather than waging an all out bombing raid on residential areas, hospitals, not to mention Tskhinvali's University.


Tskhinvali's University before the bombing
The Russian response was entirely predictable.

Georgia was "encouraged" by NATO and the US. Both Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels were acutely aware of what would happen in the case of a Russian counterattack.

The question is: was this a deliberate provocation intended to trigger a Russian military response and suck the Russians into a broader military confrontation with Georgia (and allied forces) which could potentially escalate into an all out war?

Georgia has the third largest contingent of coalition forces in Iraq after the US and the UK, with some 2000 troops. According to reports, Georgian troops in Iraq are now being repatriated in US military planes, to fight Russian forces. (See Debka.com, August 10, 2008)

This US decision to repatriate Georgian servicemen suggests that Washington is intent upon an escalation of the conflict, where Georgian troops are to be used as cannon fodder against a massive deployment of Russian forces.

US-NATO and Israel Involved in the Planning of the Attacks

In mid-July, Georgian and U.S. troops held a joint military exercise entitled "Immediate Response" involving respectively 1,200 US and 800 Georgian troops.

The announcement by the Georgian Ministry of Defense on July 12 stated that they US and Georgian troops were to "train for three weeks at the Vaziani military base" near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. (AP, July 15, 2008). These exercises, which were completed barely a week before the August 7 attacks, were an obvious dress rehearsal of a military operation, which, in all likelihood, had been planned in close cooperation with the Pentagon.

The war on Southern Ossetia was not meant to be won, leading to the restoration of Georgian sovereignty over South Ossetia. It was intended to destabilize the region while also triggering a US-NATO confrontation with Russia.

On July 12, coinciding with the outset of the Georgia-US war games, the Russian Defense Ministry started its own military maneuvers in the North Caucasus region. The usual disclaimer by both Tblisi and Moscow: the military exercises have “nothing to do” with the situation in South Ossetia. (Ibid)

Let us be under no illusions. This is not a civil war. The attacks are an integral part of the broader Middle East Central Asian war, including US-NATO-Israeli war preparations in relation to Iran.

The Role of Israeli Military Advisers

While NATO and US military advisers did not partake in the military operation per se, they were actively involved in the planning and logistics of the attacks. According to Israeli sources (Debka.com, August 8, 2008), the ground assault on August 7-8, using tanks and artillery was "aided by Israeli military advisers". Israel also supplied Georgia with Hermes-450 and Skylark unmanned aerial vehicles, which were used in the weeks leading up to the August 7 attacks.

Georgia has also acquired, according to a report in Rezonansi (August 6, in Georgian, BBC translation) "some powerful weapons through the upgrade of Su-25 planes and artillery systems in Israel". According to Haaretz (August 10, 2008), Israelis are active in military manufacturing and security consulting in Georgia.

Russian forces are now directly fighting a NATO-US trained Georgian army integrated by US and Israeli advisers. And Russian warplanes have attacked the military jet factory on the outskirts of Tbilisi, which produces the upgraded Su-25 fighter jet, with technical support from Israel. (CTV.ca, August 10, 2008)

When viewed in the broader context of the Middle East war, the crisis in Southern Ossetia could lead to escalation, including a direct confrontation between Russian and NATO forces. If this were to occur, we would be facing the most serious crisis in US-Russian relations since the Cuban Missile crisis in October 1962.

Georgia: NATO-US Outpost

Georgia is part of a NATO military alliance (GUAM) signed in April 1999 at the very outset of the war on Yugoslavia. It also has a bilateral military cooperation agreement with the US. These underlying military agreements have served to protect Anglo-American oil interests in the Caspian sea basin as well as pipeline routes.

Both the US and NATO have a military presence in Georgia and are working closely with the Georgian Armed Forces. Since the signing of the 1999 GUAM agreement, Georgia has been the recipient of extensive US military aid.

Barely a few months ago, in early May, the Russian Ministry of Defense accused Washington, "claiming that [US as well as NATO and Israeli] military assistance to Georgia is destabilizing the region." (Russia Claims Georgia in Arms Buildup, Wired News, May 19, 2008). According to the Russian Defense Ministry

"Georgia has received 206 tanks, of which 175 units were supplied by NATO states, 186 armored vehicles (126 - from NATO) , 79 guns (67 - from NATO) , 25 helicopters (12 - from NATO) , 70 mortars, ten surface-to-air missile systems, eight Israeli-made unmanned aircraft, and other weapons. In addition, NATO countries have supplied four combat aircraft to Georgia. The Russian Defense Ministry said there were plans to deliver to Georgia 145 armored vehicles, 262 guns and mortars, 14 combat aircraft including four Mirazh-2000 destroyers, 25 combat helicopters, 15 American Black Hawk aircraft, six surface-to-air missile systems and other arms." (Interfax News Agency, Moscow, in Russian, Aug 7, 2008)

NATO-US-Israeli assistance under formal military cooperation agreements involves a steady flow of advanced military equipment as well as training and consulting services.

According to US military sources (spokesman for US European Command), the US has more than 100 "military trainers" in Georgia. A Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman "said there were no plans to redeploy the estimated 130 US troops and civilian contractors, who he said were stationed in the area around Tblisi" (AFP, 9 August 2008). In fact, US-NATO military presence in Georgia is on a larger scale to that acknowledged in official statements. The number of NATO personnel in Georgia acting as trainers and military advisers has not been confirmed.

Although not officially a member of NATO, Georgia's military is full integrated into NATO procedures. In 2005, Georgian president proudly announced the inauguration of the first military base, which "fully meets NATO standards". Immediately following the inauguration of the Senakskaya base in west Georgia, Tblisi announced the opening of a second military base at Gori which would also "comply with NATO regulations in terms of military requirements as well as social conditions." (Ria Novosti, 26 May 2006).

The Gori base has been used to train Georgian troops dispatched to fight under US command in the Iraq war theater.

It is worth noting that under a March 31, 2006, agreement between Tblisi and Moscow, Russia's two Soviet-era military bases in Georgia - Akhalkalaki and Batumi have been closed down. (Ibid) The pullout at Batumi commenced in May of last year, 2007. The last remaining Russian troops left the Batumi military facility in early July 2008, barely a week before the commencement of the US-Georgia war games and barely a month prior to the attacks on South Ossetia.

The Israel Connection

Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Israel is a partner in the Baku-Tblisi- Ceyhan pipeline which brings oil and gas to the Eastern Mediterranean. More than 20 percent of Israeli oil is imported from Azerbaijan, of which a large share transits through the BTC pipeline. Controlled by British Petroleum, the BTC pipeline has dramatically changed the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucusus:

"[The BTC pipeline] considerably changes the status of the region's countries and cements a new pro-West alliance. Having taken the pipeline to the Mediterranean, Washington has practically set up a new bloc with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, " (Komerzant, Moscow, 14 July 2006)



While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will "channel oil to Western markets", what is rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards Israel, via Georgia. In this regard, a Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has also been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from there through Israel's main pipeline system, to the Red Sea.

The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for its own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian sea oil are far-reaching. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 2006)

What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel's Tipline, from Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon.

"Turkey and Israel are negotiating the construction of a multi-million-dollar energy and water project that will transport water, electricity, natural gas and oil by pipelines to Israel, with the oil to be sent onward from Israel to the Far East,

The new Turkish-Israeli proposal under discussion would see the transfer of water, electricity, natural gas and oil to Israel via four underwater pipelines.

[External Link Removed for Guests]

“Baku oil can be transported to Ashkelon via this new pipeline and to India and the Far East.[via the Red sea]"

"Ceyhan and the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon are situated only 400 km apart. Oil can be transported to the city in tankers or via specially constructed under-water pipeline. From Ashkelon the oil can be pumped through already existing pipeline to the port of Eilat at the Red Sea; and from there it can be transported to India and other Asian countries in tankers. (REGNUM)

In this regard, Israel is slated to play a major strategic role in "protecting" the Eastern Mediterranean transport and pipeline corridors out of Ceyhan. Concurrently, it also involved in channeling military aid and training to both Georgia and Azerbaijan.

A far-reaching 1999 bilateral military cooperation agreement between Tblisi and Tel Aviv was reached barely a month before the NATO sponsored GUUAM agreement. It was signed in Tbilisi by President Shevardnadze and Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyu. These various military cooperation arrangements are ultimately intended to undermine Russia's presence and influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

In a pro forma declaration, Tel Aviv committed itself, following bilateral discussions with Moscow, on August 5, 2008, to cut back military assistance to Georgia.

Russia's Response

In response to the attacks, Russian forces intervened with conventional ground troops. Tanks and armored vehicles were sent in. The Russian air force was also involved in aerial counter-attacks on Georgian military positions including the military base of Gori.

The Western media has portrayed the Russian as solely responsible for the deaths of civilians, yet at the same time the Western media has acknowledged (confirmed by the BBC) that most of the civilian casualties at the outset were the result of the Georgian ground and air attacks.

Based on Russian and Western sources, the initial death toll in South Ossetia was at least 1,400 (BBC) mostly civilians. "Georgian casualty figures ranged from 82 dead, including 37 civilians, to a figure of around 130 dead.... A Russian air strike on Gori, a Georgian town near South Ossetia, left 60 people dead, many of them civilians, Georgia says." (BBC, August 9, 2008). Russian sources place the number of civilian deaths on South Ossetia at 2000.

A process of escalation and confrontation between Russia and America is unfolding, reminiscent of the Cold War era.

Are we dealing with an act of provocation, with a view to triggering a broader conflict? Supported by media propaganda, the Western military alliance is intent on using this incident to confront Russia, as evidenced by recent NATO statements.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s "War on Terrorism" Global Research, 2005.
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The Handmaid's Tale
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The Handmaid's Tale

Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Margaret Atwood
Cover artist Tad Aronowcz, design; Gail Geltner, collage (first edition, hardback)
Country Canada
Language English
Genre(s) dystopia, science fiction
Publisher McClelland and Stewart
Publication date 1985
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 324 (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN ISBN 0-7710-0813-9 (first edition, hardcover)
The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. The novel explores themes of women in subjugation, and the various means by which they gain agency, against the backdrop of a totalitarian evangelical-Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government in the near future. Sumptuary laws (dress codes) play a key role in imposing social control within the new society.

The American Library Association lists it in "10 Most Challenged Books of 1999" and as number 37 on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000"[1] due to many complaints from parents of pupils regarding the novel's anti-religious content and sexual references.

The Handmaid's Tale won the Governor General's Award for 1985, and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987. It was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. It has been adapted several times into performance works.

Contents [hide]
1 Characters
1.1 Offred, the Handmaid
1.2 Fred, the Commander
1.3 Serena Joy, the Wife
1.4 Ofglen, the neighbour
1.5 Nick, the lover
1.6 Moira, the friend
1.7 Luke, the husband
2 Categories of people
2.1 Men
2.2 Women
2.3 Babies
3 Themes
3.1 Dystopia
3.2 Sex for reproduction only, not pleasure
3.3 Pre-Gileadian society
3.4 Biblical references
3.5 Key phrases
4 Social critique
5 Adaptations
6 See also
7 References
8 External links



[edit] Characters

[edit] Offred, the Handmaid
The protagonist was separated from her husband and child after the formation of the Republic of Gilead, and is part of the fisrt wave of Gilead's women, who still remember pre-Gilead times.. Since she has proven fertile, she is considered an important commodity and has now been placed as a handmaid in the home of the Commander Fred and his wife Serena Joy to bear a child for them.

Offred is a patronymic which describes her function: she is "Of Fred", i.e. she belongs to her Commander, Fred, as a concubine, a sexual slave. She is a chattel belonging to him, and so is given his name (see slave name). Atwood plays with her readers, because the narrator, whose real name is not revealed, does not accept her role; she is not "Of-Fred", a coded way of saying she is "not afraid". Offred can also be seen as "Off Red" which implies that she denounces the title and role of the Handmaid (red is their color) as well as the Republic of Gilead; she is off red and therefore rejects her social standing.

It is implied that her birth name is June. All of the women training to be handmaids recite their names, and all are later accounted for except June. In addition, one of the Aunts tells Offred to stop "mooning and June-ing." It may well be a pseudonym, as "Mayday" is the name of the Gilead resistance and could be an attempt on the protagonist's part to make something up; the Nunavit conference that takes place in the epilogue is held in June, as well. [2]

The only physical description of Offred presented in the novel is the one she gives of herself. Offred describes herself as: "I am thirty-three years old. I have brown hair. I stand five seven without shoes."[3] Notably, this description appears about halfway through the novel, so for a significant portion of the book the reader remains ignorant of her physical appearance.


[edit] Fred, the Commander
His background is never officially described as Offred does not have a chance to learn of his past, although he does volunteer, in one of their later meetings, that he is a sort of scientist and was previously involved in something like market research. Later, it is hypothesized, but not confirmed, that he might have been one of the architects of the republic and its laws.


[edit] Serena Joy, the Wife
A former televangelist who seems loosely based on Anita Bryant, as well in parts Tammy Faye Bakker and Phyllis Schlafly, she is now a Wife in the fundamentalist theocracy she helped to create. She is neither serene nor joyful; all power and public recognition have been taken away from her by the state, as it has been for all women in Gilead. Being sterile, she also has to bear the indignity of having a Handmaid and being present every month as her husband has sex with the Handmaid at the Ceremony on the Commander's bed.


[edit] Ofglen, the neighbour
A neighbour of Offred's and fellow handmaid, she has been partnered with Offred to do the shopping for the household each day, so that the Handmaids are never alone and police each others' behaviour. Ofglen is a member of the Mayday resistance, and gets Offred involved. In contrast to the relatively passive Offred, Ofglen is very daring, even leaping forward to kill a spy who is to be tortured and killed in a "Particicution" in order to save him the pain of a slow death. Ofglen later commits suicide before the government comes to take her away for being part of the resistance.

She is replaced as Offred's shopping partner by another handmaid, also named Ofglen, who does not share the original Ofglen's feelings about Gilead, and warns Offred against retaining any similar sentiments.


[edit] Nick, the lover
The Commander's chauffeur, he lives above the garage. On Serena Joy's suggestion and arrangement, Offred starts a sexual relationship with him to try to increase her chances of getting pregnant and saving herself from becoming an Unwoman and being shipped off to the Colonies. Offred subsequently starts to develop real feelings for him, even going so far as to tell him her pre-Gilead name, a revealing act of trust. Nick is an ambiguous character, and Offred does not know if he is a party loyalist or a member of the resistance.


[edit] Moira, the friend
Moira has been a close friend of Offred's since college, hinted in the book to be either Harvard University or Radcliffe College. She is a rebel, and a lesbian. Moira is taken to be a Handmaid shortly after Offred, but both women end up at the Rachel and Leah Center at the same time. While at the Center, Moira attempts to escape, while the more passive Offred declines. Offred then loses track of her for several years, but encounters her at Jezebel's, the party-run brothel. Moira has been caught and offered the choice between being sent to the colonies and prostitution. She is grimly practical about her life of having sex with party leaders: once her "snatch" wears out, she will be declared an Unwoman and sent to the colonies to clean up nuclear waste.


[edit] Luke, the husband
Luke was the narrator's husband prior to the formation of the Republic. She started seeing him secretly while he was still married; he then divorced in order to marry her. Luke, the narrator, and their daughter try to escape to Canada, but are captured. She constantly expects to see him hanged at The Wall but never sees him there and never learns his fate.


[edit] Categories of people
People are segregated into categories and dressed according to their social functions. White women seem to be the default in Gilead. The main non-white ethnic group mentioned are Blacks, who are called the Children of Ham; Jews are called Sons of Jacob, which is also the name of the fundamentalist group which rules the Republic of Gilead. The Jews were offered a choice of becoming Christian or going to Israel. Most chose to leave, but in the epilogue the lecturer mentions that many were simply dumped into the sea on the way over in boats, as a result of privatization if the "repatriation program," in order to maximize private profits. It is an underpinning assumption of the book that the reproductive value of white women is privileged over that of others. The sexes are strictly divided. Women are categorised “hierarchically according to class status and reproductive capacity” as well as “metonymically colour-coded according to their function and their labour” [4]. The Commander makes it clear that women are considered intellectually and emotionally inferior. Women are not permitted to read and girls are not educated.

The complex sumptuary laws serve to distinguish people by sex, occupation, and caste. Women are especially visually segregated; men are too, but they are equipped with military or paramilitary uniforms, constraining but also empowering them. All classes of men and women are defined by the colours they wear (as in Aldous Huxley's dystopia Brave New World), drawing on color symbolism and psychology. All lower status individuals are regulated by this dress code. Only rare civilians (increasingly persecuted) and Commanders seem to be free of sumptuary restrictions.


[edit] Men
Men have their particular roles and duties to carry out:

Commanders of the Faithful are the ruling class. Because of their status, they are entitled to establish a patriarchal household, with a Wife, a Handmaid if necessary, Marthas (servants) and Guardians. They have a duty to procreate but many are possibly infertile, as a possible result of exposure to a biological agent in pre-Gilead times-it is unlawful to mention that men can infertile,however. They wear black to signify superiority. They are allowed cars.
Eyes - the internal intelligence agency who attempt to root out those violating the rules of Gilead.
Angels - soldiers who fight in the wars in order to expand and protect the country's borders. Angels may be permitted to marry.
Guardians of the Faith - "They're used for routine policing and other menial functions." They are unsuitable for other work in the republic being "stupid or older or disabled or very young, apart from the ones that are Eyes incognito" (chapter 4). Young Guardians may be promoted to Angels when they come of age. They wear lime green uniforms.

[edit] Women
Seven legitimate categories and two illegitimate ones are described.

Wives are at the top social level permitted to women. They are married to the higher ranking functionaries. Wives always wear blue dresses, as did the Virgin Mary. After the death of her husband, a Wife becomes a Widow, and must dress in black.
Daughters are the natural or adopted children of the ruling class. They wear white until marriage. The narrator's daughter has been adopted by an infertile Wife and Commander.
Handmaids are fertile women whose social function is to bear children for the Wives. They dress in a red habit with a white head-dress that obscures their peripheral vision, both to keep them from seeing the world around them and to prevent their being seen and possibly tempting men. Handmaids are produced by reeducating fertile women who have broken the gender and social laws. Owing to the need for fertile Handmaids, Gilead gradually increased the number of gender-crimes. The Republic of Gilead justifies the nature of the handmaids through the biblical stories of Jacob's wives (Gen. 30:1-2) and Abraham (Gen. 16:1-6).
Aunts train and monitor the Handmaids. The Aunts attempt to promote the role of the Handmaid as an honorable one and seek to legitimize it by removing any association with gender criminality. They do the dirty work of the men running Gilead—being an aunt is the only way these unmarried, infertile, often older women may have any autonomy. It is also the only way to avoid going to the "colonies" for such women. Aunts dress in brown.
Marthas are older infertile women whose compliant nature and domestic skills recommend them to a life of domestic servitude. They dress in green smocks. The title of "Martha" is based on a story in Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus visits Mary, sister of Lazarus and Martha; Mary listens to Jesus while Martha is preoccupied "by all the preparations that had to be made."
Econowives are women who have married relatively low-ranking men, meaning any man who does not belong to the ruling elite. They are expected to perform all the female functions: domestic duties, companionship, child-bearing. Their dress is multicoloured red, blue, and green to reflect these multiple roles.
The division of labor between women engenders some resentment between categories. Marthas, Wives and Econowives perceive Handmaids as sluttish, and Econowives resent their freedom from domestic work. The narrator mourns that none of the various groups are able to empathize with the others; women are taught to hate and fear other women.

Outside of mainstream society exist two further classes of women.

Unwomen are sterile women, widows, feminists, lesbians, nuns and politically dissident women -- all women who are incapable of social integration within the Republic's strict gender divisions. They are exiled to "the colonies", areas of both agricultural production and deadly pollution, as are handmaids who fail to produce a child after three two-year assignments. Males who engage in homosexuality or related acts are declared "Gender Traitors", and either executed or sent to the Colonies to die a slow death. All those non-persons banished to the colonies, men or women, wear grey dresses.
Jezebels are prostitutes and entertainers, available only to the Commanders and their guests; some are lesbians and attractive, educated women unable to adjust to handmaid status. They have been sterilized, which is illegal for other women. They operate in unofficially state sanctioned brothels, and they seem to exist unbeknowst to most other women, st least, in society. Jezebels, whose title comes from the Biblical character, dress in the remnants of sexualized costumes from "the time before" viz. cheerleaders' costumes, school uniforms, and Playboy Bunny costumes. While Jezebels have some degree of freedom in that they can wear make up, drink and socialize with men, they are still tightly controlled by Aunts. Once their usefulness for sex is over, they are also sent to the Colonies.

[edit] Babies
Unbabies, also known as "shredders," are babies that are born either deformed or with some other birth defect;Offred does not know exactly how, and comments that she does not wish to know. they are quickly disposed of. Having an Unbaby is a constant fear among pregnant handmaidens, as they do not know whether they are carrying one until after birth. Defects have become increasingly common, probably as a result of the cause or causes that have rendered many people infertile.
Keepers are babies that are born alive with no defects.

[edit] Themes

[edit] Dystopia
See also: Dystopia
Dystopian literature investigates how the human impulse to create utopia (a perfect world) goes awry when it meets the power to make such a place a reality. In The Handmaid's Tale, those who establish Gilead do so through the use of emergency laws, para-military organizations, surprise, and relative disinterest on the part of the populace. Having enacted a theocratic fascist state, the novel chronicles the ways in which the state was effective only in doing injury, not in transforming individuals to higher-minded ideals.


[edit] Sex for reproduction only, not pleasure
Human sexuality in Gilead is regulated by the notion that sex is fundamentally degrading to women. Men are understood to desire sexual pleasure constantly but are obliged to abstain from all but marital sex for religio-social reasons. The social regulations are enforced by law, with corporal punishment inflicted for lesser offences and capital punishment for greater ones.

"The Ceremony" is a non-marital sexual act sanctioned solely for the purpose of reproduction based on a Biblical passage described below. The Gileadan enactment has the Handmaid lying supine upon the Wife during the sex act itself. Offred describes the ceremony:

"My red skirt is hitched up to my waist, though no higher. Below it the Commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body. I do not say making love, because this is not what he's doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven't signed up for."

Once a Handmaid is pregnant, she is venerated by her peers and the Wives. After the baby is born, if it is not an "unbaby" or a "shredder," it is given to the Wife of her Commander, and she is reassigned to another household although she has the guarantee that she will never be declared an unwoman.


[edit] Pre-Gileadian society
The novel indicates that pre-Gileadian society was not great for women. This society was a late 20th century version of the United States as Atwood envisioned it developing at the time of its writing (1985). In this society, women feared physical and sexual violence, and despite long-running feminist campaigns (approximately 1970–2000 within the text), they had not achieved equality. Feminist campaigners like Offred's mother and Moira were persecuted by the state. Radical feminism had teamed up with social conservativism in campaigns against pornography. In addition, mass commercialization had reached a nadir of "fast-food" and "home delivery" sexuality. Women outside of prostitution in "the former times" were subject to a socially constructed vision of romantic love that encouraged serial monogamy in favour of men's social and sexual interests.

In pre-Gileadean society, despite holding a university degree, Offred was a menial white collar worker whose colleagues were all women, with a male boss. Aside from having had to cope with oppressive cultural and social phenomena, women lacked full and meaningful control over their economic lives.

In the novel, women are depicted as the property of men in both societies, in the United States as private property and in Gilead as social property.

The novel is set in Harvard Square, where Atwood studied at Radcliffe College, and many locations in the novel are recognizable. "Gender-traitors" (i.e. homosexuals) are hanged on the wall of Harvard Yard; Fred's home is on the famous "Professor's Row"; and the Brattle Theatre, Memorial Hall and Widener Library make very prominent cameos.


[edit] Biblical references
Some of the underpinnings of the Republic of Gilead come from the Bible, especially the Book of Genesis. The primary reference is to the story of Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:31–35; 30:1–24). Leah, Rachel's sister and the first wife of Jacob, was fertile and was blessed by God, but Rachel, Jacob's second wife, was thought to be barren, i.e. infertile, until much later in her life. Rachel and Leah compete in bearing sons for their husband by using their handmaids as properties and taking immediate possession of the children they produce. In the context of Atwood's book, the story is one of female competition, jealousy, and reproductive cruelty.

Another story in Genesis concerns the infertile Sarah and Hagar, who conceives on her behalf. This story is different from the previous one, mainly because of the active role played by Hagar, who keeps her own child, and Sarah's fertility, which is restored by God at an advanced age. Atwood was aware of the similarity between these stories, and was using it to show the hypocrisy of Gileadean interpretation: this Biblical story shows a relationship between a wife and a handmaid which did not involve sexual and reproductive subjugation. Additionally, it was ultimately the choice of the wives in the Bible, whereas Wives in Gilead (such as Serena Joy) are forced.

The name "Gilead" is also from Genesis and means "hill of testimony" or "mount of witness".


[edit] Key phrases
Atwood takes pains to emphasize the effect of changing context on behaviours and attitudes. A key phrase "context is all" (1996, pg.154, 202) is repeated throughout the novel. The Scrabble game, for example, illustrates her point, since Offred describes it as once "the game of old men and women" but now forbidden and therefore "desirable" (1996, pg.149). Offred also perceives the world differently in a society that is morally rigid. Revealing clothes and make-up were part of her former life; yet, when she encounters some Japanese tourists wearing these, she is intrigued by her feeling that they are inappropriately dressed.


[edit] Social critique
The Handmaid's Tale comprises a number of social critiques. Atwood sought to demonstrate that extremist views might result in fundamentalist totalitarianism. The novel presents a dystopian vision of life in the United States in the period projecting forward from the time of the writing (1985), covering the backlash against feminism. This critique is most clearly seen in both Offred's memories of the slow social transformation towards theocratic fascism and in the ideology of the Aunts.

Immediately following the overthrow of the government, but before the new order had completely changed things, women begin to lose whatever freedoms they had previously had. Offred describes the loss of her own bank account as it is transferred to her husband's control, and then the loss of her job, before she, her husband and her daughter attempt to flee. An "Aunt" describes women's rights prior to the overthrow as "freedom to" (i.e., women having the freedom to do as they pleased), while the time after is described as "freedom from" (i.e., women having the freedom from difficulties, responsibilities, and fear).

In the chapter "Soul Scrolls", Offred reflects on what happened. "I guess that's how they did it," she thinks to herself, regarding electronic banking. It allowed the government to freeze women's bank accounts once the fundamentalist Sons of Jacob had taken power by assassinating the President and all of Congress, blaming it on Muslim terrorists. A state of emergency was declared and the Constitution suspended by the army, run by Sons of Jacob members. Mass pornography burnings took place, such as in the "Manhattan cleanup". Women are decreed unable to work, their bank accounts transferred into their husbands' or male relatives' control, and the Sons of Jacob set up a Christian fundamentalist state church, which causes rebellion by Catholics, Baptists, and other denominations, who reject it. The backdrop was "The Big One" in California, which caused radioactive waste spills and produced "R-Strain Syphilis" that, along with AIDS, caused widespread infertility. This is alternate history wherein a far-right messianic Christian movement forms in the government and military, who make a pact with the USSR to deal with rebellions occurring in their spheres of influence. The latter was explained at the end of the book in a future historical lecture on the Republic of Gilead, which had long-since disappeared.

Atwood mocks those who talk of "traditional values", for example, such leaders as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan who suggested that women should return to being housewives (see Kinder, Küche, Kirche and Barefoot and pregnant). Serena Joy, formerly a television preacher with a high public profile, has been forced to give up her career and is clearly not content. The religious and social ideology she has spent her entire long career publicly promoting has, in the end, destroyed her own life and happiness.

However, Atwood also offers a critique of contemporary feminism. By working against pornography, feminists in the early 1980s opened themselves up to criticism that they favoured censorship. Anti-pornography feminist activists such as Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon made alliances with the religious right, despite the warnings of sex-positive feminists. Atwood warns that the consequences of such an alliance may end up empowering feminists' worst enemies. She also suggests, through descriptions of the narrator's feminist mother burning books, that contemporary feminism was becoming overly rigid and adopting the same tactics as the religious right.

Most notably, Atwood critiques modern religious movements, specifically fundamentalist Christianity in the United States, with a reference to Islamic fundamentalism such as the theocracy founded in Iran in 1979. An American religious revival in the mid-1970s had led to the growth of the religious right through televangelism. Jimmy Carter, then president, had avowed his renewed and reaffirmed Christianity; Ronald Reagan was elected as his successor using a specifically Christian discourse.

Atwood pictures revivalism as counter-revolutionary, opposed to the revolutionary doctrine espoused by Offred's mother and Moira, which sought to break down gender categories. A Marxist reading of fascism explains it as the backlash of the right after a failed revolution. Atwood explores this Marxist reading and translates its analysis into the structure of a religious and gender revolution. "From each according to her ability… to each according to his needs" (page 127) is a deliberate distortion of Marx's phrase, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" — the latter, an ideological statement on class and society; the former, a stance taken by Gileadian society towards gender roles.


[edit] Adaptations
A 1990 film adaptation was directed by Volker Schlöndorff. It starred Natasha Richardson (Offred), Faye Dunaway (Serena Joy), Robert Duvall (Fred), Aidan Quinn (Nick), and Elizabeth McGovern (Moira).[5] MGM released the film on DVD in 2001.

There is also an operatic adaptation, written by Poul Ruders, which premièred in Copenhagen on March 6, 2000, and ran at the English National Opera in London in 2003. There is a full-cast dramatization, produced for BBC Radio 4 by the award-winning John Dryden in 2000. A straight stage adaptation by Brendon Burns was toured by the Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke, UK in 2002.


[edit] See also
If This Goes On— by Robert A. Heinlein
The Children of Men by P. D. James
Consider Her Ways by John Wyndham
Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin
Pregnancy in science fiction
Feminist science fiction

[edit] References
^ ALA List of 100 challenged books
^ Miner, Madonne. 'Trust Me': Reading the Romance Plot in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Twentieth Century Literature. 1991; 37:148-168.
^ Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Copyright © 1986 by O. W. Toad, Ltd. Anchor Books Edition from Random House, Inc.. 143
^ (Kauffman 232)
^ The Handmaid's Tale at the Internet Movie Database
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Page 1 of 2
Sufism, sodomy and Satan
By Spengler

Sigmund Freud thought that everything was about sex, and he was half right. Rarely is love so spiritual that it does not also stir the loins, for human beings are creatures not only of soul but of body. Although it is thought rude to say so nowadays, different kinds of love belong to different kinds of sex. Not even Hell can resist divine love, J W Goethe showed in the funniest vignette in all literature: his devil, Mephistopheles, is disabled by an obsessive lust for the cherubs sent to claim the soul of Faust in the drama’s penultimate scene. Heavenly beauty, that is, reduces the crafty demon to a pathetic old pervert, in a tableau not fit for a family newspaper.[1]

Goethe’s creepily convincing portrait of a pederastic devil in Faust (1832) drew on the poet’s earlier study of Persian love poetry of



the High Middle Ages,[2] where “as a rule, the beloved is not a woman, but a young man”, according to the leading Persian historian Ehsan Yar-Shater. Islamic mysticism (Sufism) of the High Middle Ages is the only case in which a mainstream current of a major world religion preached pederasty as a path to spiritual enlightenment. A vast literature documents this, and a great deal of it is available online.

Sufi adoration of pre-pubescent boys “persisted in many Islamic countries until very recent times,” according to the Orientalist Helmut Ritter.[3] The Afghan penchant for dancing boys in female costume, shown in the 2007 film The Kite Runner, is the last vestige of a Sufi practice that has been long suppressed by both the Sunni and Shi’ite branches of Islam. Sufism has a reputation in Western pop culture as a kinder and gentler branch of Islam. It is not a different kind of Islam, but rather Islam’s mystical practice, to which the adage applies, “by their fruits shall ye know them.”

Controversy persists over what is “authentic Sufism”. The Turkish organization of Fethallah Gulen claims millions of members and doubtless is the largest self-styled Sufi organization in the world. The American Sufi convert Stephen Schwartz has dismissed it as a “cult”,[4] while Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute warns that Gulen may become the Turkish Khomeini. Given Turkey’s turn towards political Islam (Turkey in the throes of Islamic revolution?, Jul 22, 2008), the world is likely to find out a great deal more about Sufism in the near future, and well may be dismayed by what it learns.

In contrast to the Judeo-Christian West, where marriage has been a metaphor for God’s love since the Biblical Song of Songs, homosexual pederasty was normative for the Sufi philosopher-poets of Islam’s golden age in Central Asia. For Christians, the earthly adumbration of God’s love was nuptial, but pederastic in Muslim Persia. The classic Persian poets, including Hafez[5] and Rumi,[6] pined for beardless boys while their European contemporaries wrote sonnets to women. Some apologists claim that the Sufi practice of “contemplation of the beardless” was a chaste spiritual exercise, but an Egyptian proverb warns: “In his father's home a boy's chastity is safe, but let him become a dervish [Sufi adept] and the buggers will queue up behind him.”[7]

Sufi pedophilia cannot be dismissed as a remnant of the old tribal practices that Islam often incorporated, for example, female genital mutilation. Genital mutilation is a pre-Islamic practice unknown in the ancient and modern West. Even though some Muslim authorities defend it on the basis of Hadith, no one has ever claimed that it offered a path to enlightenment. Sadly, pedophiles are found almost everywhere. In its ascendancy, Sufism made a definitive spiritual experience out of a practice considered criminally aberrant in the West. But pederasty as a spiritual exercise is not essentially different in character from the furtive practices of Western perverts. As the psychiatrists explain, pederasty is an expression of narcissism, the love of an idealized youthful self-image.

Sufism seeks one-ness with the universe through spiritual exercises that lead individual consciousness to dissolve into the cosmos. But nothing is more narcissistic than the contemplation of the cosmos, for if we become one with the cosmos, what we love in the cosmos is simply an idealized image of ourselves. An idealized self-image is also what attracts the aging lecher to the adolescent boy. That is the secret of Sufi as well as other pederasty, for pederasty is an extreme expression of self-love. That is the conventional psychiatric view; Freud for example wrote of the “basic narcissism of the vast majority of pederasts … proceeding as from narcissism, they seek their own image in young people.”

Sufism enjoys a faddish ripple of interest in America, where self-admiration is the national pastime. As opposed to the Biblical God, the cosmos is an unthreatening thing to worship. The universe, after all, is no one in particular, and those who seek to merge their consciousness with no one in particular at the end are left alone with themselves. Worship the cosmos, and you worship yours truly; worship yourself, and it is not unusual to adore your own idealized image.

I do not mean to suggest that Sufis today are more likely to be pederasts than members of any other religious denomination. Sadly, there is brisk competition in that field. Karen Armstrong, the popular writer on religion, claims to be a Sufi, and I have it on good authority that she is not a pederast. Non-Muslims who embrace Sufism view it as a generic form of “spirituality”, like Madonna’s dabbling in what she thinks is Kabbalah. That recalls the joke about the Chinese waiter in a kosher restaurant who speaks perfect Yiddish, of whom the owner says, “He thinks he’s learning English.” No one should blame Hafez or Rumi for the casual interest of American spiritual tourists.

Nonetheless, it is not entirely by accident that Sufism holds a fascination for self-absorbed young Americans who dislike the demands placed upon them by revealed faith. Mysticism of this genre provides a pretext to worship one’s self in the masquerade of the universe. As Rumi (1207-1273), the most revered of the Sufi philosopher-poets, said of his own spiritual master,
Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!
I do not speak Persian and cannot comment on the aesthetic quality of Rumi’s verse, which connoisseurs hold to be elegant. Its content, though, reduces to the same God-is-everywhere-and-all-I-have-to-do-is-look-inside-myself sort of platitudes of pop spirituality, for example,
I searched for God among the Christians and on the Cross and therein I found Him not.
I went into the ancient temples of idolatry; no trace of Him was there.

Then I directed my search to the Kaaba, the resort of old and young; God was not there even.
Turning to philosophy I inquired about him from ibn Sina but found Him not within his range.
I fared then to the scene of the Prophet's experience of a great divine manifestation only a 'two bow-lengths' distance from him' but God was not there even in that exalted court.
Finally, I looked into my own heart and there I saw Him; He was nowhere else.
If the point of love is to dissolve one's self into the All, then there is no difference between the self and the All; the self and the All are the same, and one loves one's self. There is no Other in Sufism, only your own ego grinning back from the universe. To embrace the cosmos implies the destruction of individuality. In Goethe’s drama, Faust conjures up the personification of the cosmos, the Earth Spirit, and cannot bear to look upon it; the Earth Spirit dismisses him with the epigram, “You are like the spirit whom you comprehend - not me!” Woe betide the adept who succeeds in merging his mind with the universe: he would become a monster, like Mephistopheles, the consummate nihilist.
Love of the cosmos reduces to idolatrous love of self. It is a radically different sort of love than the love of YHWH or Jesus, who are distinct beings with a personality, even if incomprehensible in their totality. The Judeo-Christian God is known to humankind by revelation, and specifically self-revelation through love. The revealed God seeks the love of humankind as an Other. Revelation does not reassure us that the Divine was in our hearts all along. It is not always a pleasant experience. It burns our lips like the kiss of a seraph, and casts our heart into the refiner’s fire. It shatters, burns, overwhelms and transforms us - but it does not dissolve us into a cosmic soup. On the contrary: it enhances our individual personality. Precisely because it reinforces our individuality, love in the Judeo-Christian world can be a very painful experience.

To Christians and Jews, God reveals himself as a personality, and through acts of love - the Exodus and the Resurrection. There is no such event in Islam. Allah does not reveals himself, that is, descend to earth; instead, he sends down from heaven his instruction manual, namely the Koran. Allah remains unknown, and ultimately indistinguishable from the nature in which he is embedded. Confronted by this absolutely transcendental entity the individual human personality shrivels into insignificance.

Mystical communion with an unrevealed and unknowable God demands the sort of star- and navel-gazing that brings the communicant right back to good old number one. Just as Rumi said, it’s all inside you, like the self-help books say. And that brings us back to the matter of pederasty.

Men and women are so different that the experience of heterosexual love is analogous to the spiritual encounter with the divine Other. Love is as strong as death, says the Song of Songs:
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
It is not only the passion of love that challenges death, but the
Page 2 of 2
Sufism, sodomy and Satan
By Spengler

fruit of love, the birth of children, that keeps death at bay. Nature appears to have arranged matters so that these two presentiments of immortality occur together. The Judeo-Christian God becomes the partner of human lovers: “Lovers could not love if they did not have an ally against death, if the only certainty were the grave and silence,” writes Michael Wyschogrod. Anyone who has been in love with someone of the opposite sex knows precisely what I am talking about. Those who have not may consult the Song of Songs, for example:
The love of bride and bridegroom is not quite the same thing as the love of God and his congregation, but the passion as strong as death that unites men and women is analogous to the encounter with the Other in the person of God.
On the extreme opposite of the spiritual spectrum, we encounter



pederasty as the foundational experience of Sufism. According to Wikipedia,
As a Sufi practice of spiritual realization and union with the godhead, the meditation known in Arabic as Nazar ila'l-murd, "contemplation of the beardless," or Shahed-bazi, "witness play" in Persian has been practiced from the earliest years of Islam. It is seen as an act of worship intended to help one ascend to the absolute beauty that is God through the relative beauty that is a boy.
The medieval Persians were not the first to practice the higher sodomy. The Greeks of the 6th century BC preferred young boys, procreating out of patriotic habit while their women closed their eyes and thought of Athens. Adoration of youth is a very different way to capture from love a sense of immortality. In Greek legend the gods turned Narcissus into a flower to punish his pride in refusing male suitors. Pederasty thus was present at the origin of the concept of narcissism.

The medieval Persians surpassed the Greeks in enthusiasm. Hafez, widely considered the greatest Persian poet, wrote such verses as
My sweetheart is a beauty and a child, and I fear that in play one day
He will kill me miserably and he will not be accountable according to the holy law.
I have a fourteen year old idol, sweet and nimble
For whom the full moon is a willing slave.
His sweet lips have (still) the scent of milk
Even though the demeanor of his dark eyes drips blood. (Divan, no 284)
And about the Magian baccha:
If the wine-serving magian boy would shine in this way
I will make a broom of my eyelashes to sweep the entrance of the tavern. (Divan, no 9)
Hafez is typical of the Muslim philosopher-poets of the epoch. Ehsan Yar-Shater wrote:
As a rule, the beloved [in medieval Persian poetry] is not a woman, but a young man. In the early centuries of Islam, the raids into Central Asia produced many young slaves. Slaves were also bought or received as gifts. They were made to serve as pages at court or in the households of the affluent, or as soldiers and body-guards. Young men, slaves or not, also, served wine at banquets and receptions, and the more gifted among them could play music and maintain a cultivated conversation. It was love toward young pages, soldiers, or novices in trades and professions which was the subject of lyrical introductions to panegyrics from the beginning of Persian poetry, and of the ghazal.[8]
As noted, it is tempting to dismiss the pederasty of the Sufi philosopher-poets as a cultural artifact of traditional society, along with the mystical practice of “contemplation of the beardless”. This would obscure rather than shed light, however, for three reasons.

The first is that traditional society is precisely what revelation seeks to temper. The Hebrew Bible abjures pagan practices, just as Mohammed inveighs against the pagans. Yet we do not find a single instance of a Hebrew poet celebrating homosexuality until, of course, late 20th-century Tel Aviv. Classic Persian and Arab literature ooze with it. Islam could not extirpate a pederastic culture including virtually all the leading poets of the high Middle Ages except by suppressing the Sufi cults. There were a number of reasons that both the Sunni and Shia mainstream persecuted Sufism, but a prominent one was the cited practice called “contemplation of the beardless” in which the dervish sought communion with the eternal by immersing himself in the beauty of adolescent boys.

Second, the same sort of people who reject the demands of “organized religion” in favor of “free spirituality” have made the defense of homosexuality the Shibboleth of their generation. Speak out against gay marriage in the United States, and you have made yourself a pariah in any of the strongholds of liberalism, especially university campuses. I do not believe in criminalizing adult homosexuality, any more than I believe that a heterosexual chosen at random is necessarily a better person than a homosexual chosen at random. But the experience of divine love reflected in the love of men and women and their children is the foundation of society, and gay marriage would have dreadful consequences.

Third, pederasty has become a plague in parts of the West, and widespread abuse of children has occasioned a crisis in the Catholic Church. It is hard to avoid the impression that sexual misbehavior is associated with a retreat from faith in a personal God, namely the Jesus who lived on earth and was crucified and was resurrected, in favor of a mushy and unspecific spirituality - something like Sufism, in fact. Perhaps the same link between spiritual and sexual narcissism is at work in the West.

Notes
1. Mephistopheles addresses the boy angels (in Tony Kline’s translation online):

What wretched luck, and dire!
Is this Love’s own element?
My whole body’s bathed in fire,
I scarcely feel, my head’s so burnt. –
You float to and fro, sink down a while,
Move your sweet limbs with earthly guile:
True, a grave expression suits you well,
But I’d still like to see you smile a little!
That would be an eternal delight to me.
Like the lovers’ mutual glance, you see:
A simper round the mouth, is how it’s done,
You, the tall lad, you could make me love you,
The priest’s pose doesn’t really suit you,
So show a little lust, and look hereon!
You could be more modestly naked too,
That robe’s long hem, so demure in its rising –
They turn away – and seen from the rear view –
Those rascals now are really appetising!

See [External Link Removed for Guests]

2. The West-Ostlicher Divan of 1814

3. See The Ocean of the Soul: Man, the World, and God in the Stories of Farid Al-Din Attar, by Hellmut Ritter, John O'Kane, Bernd Radtke (Brill: New York 2003), p 516 et seq. Ritter quotes a 1936 travelogue from Albania: “Still another oddity: among the Albanians there is 'love of beauty'. Fifty to sixty people are united through love for a beautiful youth. Quite frequently they ask the father’s permission in the morning, take the boy with them and have him sit on a table. Everyone sits in front of him and gazes at him admiringly for hours. These youths are called dilber. They’re dressed up like a girl, ie, with finger rings, a pleated silk shirt ... silk sash and a small hat tilted to one side …” Comments Ritter, “Since Albania from far back in time has been a home for Sufi orders, it is not far-fetched to assume that the described practice is also of Sufi origin.”

4. [External Link Removed for Guests]

5. Khwaja Samsu d-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Sirazi, flourished 14th century

6. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi, 1207-1273

7. Wikipedia entry, “Pederasty in the Islamic World.”

8. Yar-Shater, Ehsan. 1986. Persian Poetry in the Timurid and Safavid Periods, in Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1986, pp 973-974.

(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
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[size=12]THIRD, I'll correct some wrong conclusions:

1) "Battle was evidence of Greek bravery":
Out of 8000 Greek troops:
- 1 (Ephialtes) collaborated
- 400 (Thebans) surrendered
- 1900 (Spartans, helots and Thespians) killed-in-action
- 6000 (all others) escaped
Is this sounds as "bravery" or "glorious" to you? Not to me.
When small force faces large force in open field, that's bravery, because larger army have numerical advance: there is a physical possibility that 8000 men can face about 30 000 enemy troops (rate 1:4). But when small force faces large force in 14-meters wide passage, that's not bravery because larger force don't have any advantage: 50 men can face 50 men, there is also no any advantage of changing fresh troops in reserves, too.

2) "War started because Persia invided Greece", "Persia failed to conquer Greece" or "Greeks defeated Persia at the end":
Greek fairy tales masters as Herodot says Persia tried to conquer Greece, which is historical incorrectly. Persia attacked Greece because Athens and Eretria supported revolts in Ionia and Egypt, and because they destroyed temple in Sardis. When Persians defeated Greeks; razed Athens and Eretria, Xerxes, Immortals and most of Persian army simply gone home and they left small part of army (mostly their Greek and Asian allies) to control Greek mainland, which is later defeated by united Greek forces at Platea. Seen as "the great victory" by Greeks, it was remembered as kind of peasant revolt thru Persian eyes. Officially, war ended by the Peace of Callias (449 BC). All this facts clearly shows Persian goal was not conquest of all Greece, but only punishing Athens for their attacks on Persian cities. Later, Persia played with Greek states during Peloponnesian and Corinthian wars; first they helped Spartans to win against Athenians, later they helped Athenians to win against Spartans and to level balance of power in Greece.

3) "Spartans were the greatest warriors ever":
The easiest way to check fact about Spartan military efficacy is statistic about wins and losses.
Now I'll show you ALL Spartan wars and battles:
War-1. Persian War (3-0-2 victories-indecisive-defeats):
1 * Thermopylae (480 BC) DEFEAT
2 * Artemisium (480 BC) DEFEAT
3 * Salamis (480 BC) Victory
4 * Plataea (479 BC) Victory
5 * Mycale (479 BC) Victory
War-2. Peloponnesian War (6-2-13):
1 * Battle of Sybota (433 BC) Indecisive
2 * Battle of Potidaea (432 BC) DEFEAT
3 * Battle of Chalcis (429 BC) Victory
4 * Battle of Rhium (429 BC) DEFEAT
5 * Battle of Naupactus (429 BC) DEFEAT
6 * Battle of Mytilene (427 BC) DEFEAT
7 * Battle of Tanagra (426 BC) DEFEAT
8 * Battle of Olpae (426 BC) DEFEAT
9 * Battle of Pylos (425 BC) DEFEAT
10 * Battle of Sphacteria (425 BC) DEFEAT
11 * Battle of Amphipolis (422 BC) Victory
12 * Battle of Mantinea (418 BC) Victory
13 * Battle of Mantinea (418 BC) DEFEAT
14 * Battle of Syme (411 BC) Indecisive
15 * Battle of Cynossema (411 BC) DEFEAT
16 * Battle of Abydos (410 BC) DEFEAT
17 * Battle of Cyzicus (410 BC) DEFEAT
18 * Battle of Notium (406 BC) Victory
19 * Battle of Mytilene (406 BC) Victory
20 * Battle of Arginusae (406 BC) DEFEAT
21 * Battle of Aegospotami (404 BC) Victory (final)
War-3. Corinthian War (2-0-3):
1 * Battle of Haliartus (395 BC) DEFEAT
2 * Battle of Nemea (394 BC) Victory
3 * Battle of Cnidus (394 BC) DEFEAT
4 * Battle of Coronea (394 BC) Victory
5 * Battle of Lechaeum (391 BC) DEFEAT
War-4. Theban War (0-0-2):
1 * Battle of Leuctra (371 BC) DEFEAT
2 * Battle of Mantinea (362 BC) DEFEAT
War-5. Cleomenean War (3-0-1):
1 * Battle of Mount Lycaeum (227 BC) Victory
2 * Battle of Ladoceia (227 BC) Victory
3 * Battle of Dyme (226 BC) Victory
4 * Battle of Sellasia (222 BC) DEFEAT (final)
Other wars battles involving Sparta (3-0-5):
1 * Battle of Sepeia (494 BC) Victory
2 * Battle of Tanagra (457 BC) Victory
3 * Battle of Phyle (403 or 404 BC) DEFEAT
4 * Battle of Munychia (403 or 404 BC) DEFEAT
5 * Battle of Piraeus (403 BC) Victory
6 * Battle of Tegyra (375 BC) DEFEAT
7 * Battle of Megalopolis (331 BC) DEFEAT
8 * Battle of Gythium (195 BC) DEFEAT
FINAL STATISTIC:
Battles:
17 victories
2 indecisive
26 defeats
So, historical fact is that Spartans lost 60% their battles. They won only one war; Peloponnesian War, just because after serial of defeats against Athenians, Persia significantly helped Sparta with ships and supplies. Spartans are noted for their strict training and militaristic life, so they become synonym for great warriors in Greek and Western civilization, but their militarily success in history isn't even comparable to the best ancient warriors; Persians and Assyrians.

4) "Spartans never retreated, Spartans never surrendered":
Typical Greek fairy tale. As you can see in my previous pamphlet, Spartans were defeated in 26 battles. After every lost battle; hundreds of Spartans - survived! How did thousands of Spartans survive 26 lost battles, if they "never retreat or surrender"?! Simply unlogic and - untrue.

5) "Greek success was holding Persians while other Greeks were assembling":
Again - historical nonsense. Facts:
- Greeks hold Persians for 5 days (because of ultimatum), battle lasted few hours.
- Battle of Thermopylae happened in 480 BC.
- Persians razed Athens also in 480 BC.
- Persians gone home also in 480 BC.
- Battle of Plataea (when Greek armies united) happened following spring - 479 BC!

6) "Greeks who had allied Persians were traitors":
During Greek-Persian conflict, every Greek state allied Persia except Athens and Sparta. Those Greek states include Thessaly, Boeotia, Thebes and Macedon (homeland of Alexander the Great, later conqueror of Persia). Later, during Peloponnesian war, even Sparta allied Persia! After Sparta defeated Athens with Persian help, Persians lately allied Athens against Spartans during Corinthian war. As you can see, ALL Greek states allied Persia during their ancient history.

7) "Greek-Persian War was clash between Western and Eastern civilization":
Spartans didn't fight for Greece or Western civilization, they fought for their domination over Greek territory, proofs for that you can find in mutual wars between Greek city-states, before and after Persian attack. Also, more then 50% Greeks allied Persia during their campaign, so "clash between civilizations" is absurdity.

8) Persians (“the East”) stands for “Mysticism”:
Persian religion during Achaemenid period was Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. Zoroaster taught that good and evil resides in all members of humanity, regardless of racial origin, ethnic membership or religious affiliation. Each person is given the choice between good and evil – it is up to us to choose between them. Zoroaster taught that there is no such thing as a “bad race” or “bad religion”. The only divide is that between good and bad people, both within one’s own community and those outside of one’s community. Zoroastrians often referred to ancient Iran as “the land of the Free/Freedom”. It's important to mention that Zoroastrianism exist even today and it's practiced by thousands of modern Iranians, but Greek polytheistic mythology is survived only in children fairy-tales.
Something interesting: Greek mythology says Spartans are descendants from hero Heracles, but it also says Persians are descendants from hero Perseus. Unlike angry, selfish and drunkard Heracles, Perseus is famous as only mythological hero without any defect. This two descriptions very colorful describe Spartan and Persian nature.

9) "Spartan women were free, Persian women were slaves":
The 300 movie certainly portrayed Iranian women as shallow, mindless “harem girl-objects”. The portrayal of Iranian women in this movie is not only grossly inaccurate in historical terms, but also degrading, insulting to women in general. Again, this seems to be derived from a massive sense of ignorance regarding the role of Iranian women in history. The women of ancient Iran were priestesses (Temple of Anahita), warriors, leaders and guardians of learning. During Persian campaign in Greece famous woman named Artemisia was naval commander. On the other side, Greek women were oppressed, and they didn't have right to vote even in so-called Greek "democracies". The equality of women with men in enshrined in the Zoroastrian religion itself. One the Zoroastrian fables refers to a conversation between Zoroaster and his daughter Freyne highlighting the fact that it is up to women to choose their mates for courtship and marriage.

10) "Clash between Good and Evil; Greece represents liberty, while Persia represents tyranny, Xerxes called himself as 'God', etc."
It's very clear that “the Persians” are literally portrayed as “evil tyrants” in the movie. But status of Xerxes was far from "divine" or even autocratic. The reality was that Persian Empire was the first "Federal Empire" in the world. Federalism Achaemenid Style was very primitive, yet the very first Federal Government in the globe. Internal affairs of the Persian Empire were conducted democratically and we had a federal system of government with all due respect to all Khashtaras (states) to control their own internal affairs. Persian States had absolute internal autonomy during the Achaemenid Empire. Persian Empire was ran so prosperously, which 2/3 of the Greek city-states in Anatolia (present Turkey) and Grecian Peninsula preferred to join the Empire as either states or protectorates. Economically, socially, politically and militaristically it was only logical and for their benefit to join the powerful Persian Empire rather than remain as a few scattered Greek city-states fighting amongst themselves. That was what the Greeks done for centuries: fighting amongst themselves and remaining as weak city-states! So 2/3 of the Greek city-states decided to change their fate. I do not call this action treason but I call it visionary and logical. Unlike Herodotus, I do not call the people of these city-states "Puppets" but I call them valuable and equal citizens of the Persian Empire. Aristotle used to call Persians "Barbarians", but the reality was that the remainder 1/3 of the Independent Greeks were small and inferior elements in comparison to the sophisticated and superior Persians and Persian Empire which ruled the world.
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UAE cities at odds over lifestyle, ties to Iran By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press Writer
Sun Aug 17, 4:33 PM ET



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - At first, the differences between the United Arab Emirates two leading cities were merely cultural. Abu Dhabi built world-class museums as fast as Dubai put up extravagant shopping malls — one with a ski slope inside.

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But the healthy competition that has helped transform them into two of the Middle East's most vibrant and bustling cities has soured as the tiny emirates grow increasingly divided over their relations with two other rivals — Iran and the United States.

Dubai's skyscrapers, American-style theme parks and sprawling beaches clashed with the more prim sophistication of Abu Dhabi, which is building a symphony orchestra and branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums.

But now Dubai's massive trade with Iran and liberal Western outlook are becoming liabilities for the U.S.-friendly capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, which is under pressure from Washington to isolate the Islamic republic.

With half the population of Dubai's 1.2 million residents and much less glitz, Abu Dhabi is the richest of the seven city-states that make up the United Arab Emirates.

As the world's fourth largest exporter of oil, Abu Dhabi is also the main provider for the rest of the semi-independent states, including Dubai.

All of that wealth is owned by the ruling family in Abu Dhabi, giving it the power to force compliance with federal laws and rein in Dubai's at times murky commercial dealings with Iran.

Still, Abu Dhabi cannot afford to antagonize Iran, and so it treads a fine line.

Last year, the Bush administration asked Abu Dhabi to c r 4c k down on companies suspected of smuggling equipment to Iran to build explosive devices killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House also expressed concerns about shipments to Iranian front companies operating in Dubai.

The UAE and other Sunni-ruled Arab states are suspicious of Shiite Iran, just a boat ride across the Gulf from Dubai. They share the West's concern over Iran's nuclear program and fear Tehran's growing ability to empower Shiites across the region, especially in Iraq.

Iran and the UAE have diplomatic ties and both benefit from their booming commerce. Thousands of Iranian business are based in Dubai, which also hosts the Arab world's largest Iranian expat community.

With U.S. sanctions against Iran already in place and Washington threatening new penalties for Tehran's failure to curb uranium enrichment, Dubai is finding it more difficult to defend its lucrative commercial dealings with Iran's ruling elite.

The UAE has been a loyal ally in America's war on terror. The U.S. has been allowed to operate in an airbase in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and its warships regularly dock in Dubai's ports.

But Iranian investment in Dubai — about $14 billion each year — buoys a robust development plan largely financed with foreign cash. The trade is also huge boost to Tehran's confidence that it can survive Western-imposed sanctions.

"Iran is not suffering from sanctions if it can still bring things through Dubai," said Jean-Francois Seznec, a Gulf specialist at Georgetown University.

Within days of the Bush administration's request to Abu Dhabi to c r 4c k down on companies suspected of helping Iran militarily, the UAE president announced a law to "ban or restrict imports, exports or passthrough shipments for reasons of health, safety, environmental concerns, national security or foreign affairs."

Authorities also said they were closing some companies, but it isn't clear how thoroughly the law has been enforced.

Analysts say Dubai has largely ignored America's pressure to curb trade with Iran.

By continuing with business as usual, "Dubai has been jeopardizing Abu Dhabi's relationship with Washington," said Christopher Davidson, a UAE specialist and a lecturer at the U.K.'s Durham University.

Plus, Dubai's permissive ways to accommodate Western residents and tourists — by circumventing alcohol restrictions and other rules in the conservative Muslim country — have made the city-state a "liability for the federation, with its behavior," Davidson said.

So Abu Dhabi has stepped up its pressure, starting with delicate issues Dubai has trouble defending — nudity and excessive booze. Last month, Dubai obliged when Abu Dhabi questioned its neighbor's Islamic credentials.

Police detained almost 80 people over in a c r 4c k on public drinking, topless sunbathing and nudity on public beaches. Undercover policemen also rounded up 17 foreign men authorities accused of being gay.

Dubai's acting police chief vowed to detain all those suspected of acts "deemed offensive, immoral or disrespectful."

But limiting Iranian business in Dubai is a tougher task, with few rewards for Abu Dhabi, analysts say.

"Neither of them wants to be too close to the U.S. nor too distant from Iran," said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, political science professor at Emirates University.

The balancing act associated with trying to accommodate the U.S. and Iran has enabled Dubai and Abu Dhabi to "play good cop, bad cop," Seznec said.

But he said it was also possible Abu Dhabi doesn't truly want Dubai to stop being "the main transport hub for Iran."

The UAE capital looks after the interests of other Gulf states, who fear a U.S. recession and high inflation because their currencies are pegged to the dollar, Seznec said.

"And a bankrupt Iran is simply not in the Gulf's interest," he said.
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Iran Sues Warehouse in Baltimore

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Defense Ministry is suing a Baltimore warehousing company in federal court, claiming a floor collapse three years ago damaged $50 million worth of military equipment that has been held in limbo by the US government since the late 1970s.

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In the lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Greenbelt, the Iranian government seeks unspecified damages for military equipment and parts it claims were destroyed or lost while stored by Overflo Warehouse LLC in 2005. The items reportedly damaged include 1970s-era navigation and radar equipment, computer parts and military components.

Iran has no diplomatic representation in the US. Instead, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Iranian Interest Section, which is located in the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington.

Calls to Saeid B. Amini, the Cleveland attorney representing the Iranian Defense Ministry, were not returned on Wednesday.

Overflo President Gary Timme said the company had not been served with the lawsuit, filed Friday, as of Wednesday. However, he said the company planned to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.

Overflo is a family-owned business that was started in 1979. According to the company, it offers 2 million square feet of storage space at 10 locations in the Baltimore-Washington region.

In court documents, the Iranian government claims "several billions" of dollars worth of various military equipment and spare parts were purchased from the US in the 1970s. After the government of the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, the US government blocked the materiel from being exported.

The items were stored in Virginia until April 2005, when they were transferred to Overflo's warehouses in the Baltimore region, the complaint says.

According to the lawsuit, in September 2005, about 1,500 square feet of a second floor at an Overflo building collapsed. The ministry claims the 20-foot drop "significantly" damaged a "large number of expensive parts." While the complaint does not seek a specific amount of damages, the ministry claims the items had a value of $50 million.

The items in question are being held under a license by Office of Foreign Assets Control, a part of the US Department of Treasury, which enforces economic and trade sanctions. Under federal regulations, Timme said, he could not provide information about the exact makeup of equipment and parts, or whether they are still being stored by Overflo.

Treasury spokesman Andrew DeSouza confirmed that discussing Office of Foreign Assets Control license matters was prohibited. DeSouza said department policy confirming or denying if a foreign asset control license was even issued would violate the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

The lawsuit notes that the primary dispute over the items "is being litigated at the International Court of Justice" in The Hague, Netherlands.
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The Origins of Iranian People
The Origins of Aryan People
By: M. Sadeq Nazmi-Afshar
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I am Dariush, the great king, the king of kings
The king of many countries and many people
The king of this expansive land,
The son of Wishtaspa of Achaemenid,
Persian, the son of a Persian,
'Aryan', from the Aryan race
"From the Darius the Great's Inscription in Naqshe-e-Rostam"

The above scripture is one of most valid written evidences of the history of the Aryan race, and as can be seen, Darius I (Dariush in persian), the Achaemenian king, in the 5th century BCE, declares himself a Persian and form the Aryan race. Herodotus, the father of history, writes (in his book: "History of Herodotus") at the same times: "In ancient times, the Greeks called Iranians "Kaffe", but they were renowned as Aryans among themselves and their neighbors". In another part of his book, Herodotus writes that the Medians were known as Aryans during a certain period. So in two of the oldest written human documents, the race of the Iranians have been mentioned as Aryan.

On the other hand, in many contemporary books, one reads that the Aryans were not original residents of the land of Iran, and that they migrated to Iran from Central Asia or somewhere in the north of Europe. The point is that if some of the oldest written records of the human history confirm that the residents of the Iranian Plateau were Aryans, why should some claim otherwise?

We will discuss the origins of the Iranian race, and we will try to shed light on some unknown corners of history, which has been mixed with ignorance and lies.

We want to extract the facts out of centuries and millennia and out of paleontological studies, old and new, to prove that Iran is the original land of the Aryan race, that this people has never migrated to any other land, and it has defended its homelands for centuries on end.

There are all numerous reasons that the Aryan race has undergone its evolution from the primitive man to the white man in the Iranian Plateau. These reasons can be categorized as historical, geographical, mythological, anthropological and linguistically.

Against the reasons we will discuss, no valid evidence has been produced to prove that the Aryans migrated from Central Asia or any other place to Iran. What European historians have written in this regard is based on unscientific and unproven hypotheses influenced by anti-Iranian and political ideas.

The reason for the migration of Aryans from Iran to other places of the world should be searched in climatic events. At the end of Ice Age, as a result of excessive rainfall on the Alborz and Zagros Mountains and the melting of the ice accumulated on the mountains, the rivers flowing through the Iranian Plateau were much larger than they are today. Therefore there was a large lake in the place where to day is the Central Desert. One of the most interesting mythological texts says in this regard:

"...In the second phase of the creation of the world, Ahura Mazda created the waters, and the waters flowed towards Farakhekrat Sea which covers one third of the world from the southern outskirts of Alborz." With the continuous warming of the earth and the decrease in rainfall, this lake gradually dried up and the peoples living around it, who had a common language and Aryan culture, was forced to migrate from Iran. The routes of this great migration are an evidence for the central position of Iran, for the Aryan peoples have set Iran as the center and set out on migration in any direction.

As a matter of fact, many Western historians have declined to accept the politicized version of history, admitting that Iran was the origin of the Aryan race.

Hegel writes in his book The Philosophy of history: "The principle of evolution begins with the history of Iran". Another prominent orientologist says that: A large part of our cultural and material legacy was unveiled in southwestern Asia the center of which was Iran." Petri, in a famous speech, said that "When Egypt had only just begun the art of pottery, the people of Susa (in Iran) were painting beautiful pictures on ceramics." this shows that the Iranian civilization was 3,000 years ahead of that of Egypt, dating back at least to 12,000 years ago. In other words, when Central Asia was totally buried under thick layers of ice, Iranians were creating pictures on earthenware, which indicates their art and creativity.

Considering the existence of this 12,000 years-old civilization in Iran, would it not be unlikely that 6,000 years ago, a group of people spontaneously crossed the ice covered Siberian lands, suddenly wiping such a civilization off the earth. The word Aryan has roots in world that Iranians called themselves by Ayria, meaning free, noble and steady. The world Iran is derived from this very root, having been transformed from to Ayran Iran, meaning the land of the Aryans. This is the most ancient term applied to the Iranian Plateau, and such a term has never been detected anywhere else in the world, e.g. Europe or Turkistan.

The myth of Aryan's migration to Iran implies that a people have come to Iran from a remote land, giving their name to an already inhabited land which had no name, and that no trace of their name has been remained in their name has been remained in their original homeland. In historical records, Central Asia has been mentioned as the land of Sakas, Masagets, Touran, Soghd, Kharazm, Khiveh, and Turkistan, none of which words has any relation to the word Aryan.

Paleontology is one of the sciences that confirm the formation of the white race in Ian. The Homo sapiens evolved from its Neanderthal ancestors in a 30,000- year process between 50,000 to 20,000 years ago. In the Hutu and Kamarband caves near Behshahr, Iran, bones of men from different historical periods have been found, showing that a kind of human race has continuously dwelled in this area and evolved, meaning that there has been no migration.

In Babylonian and Assyrian sources, one of the largest ancient Iranian tribes has been mentioned as Kas Su, Kassi and Kashi, which in ancient languages and also in the modern language of the people of Gilan means fair-eyed and fair-faced. The name of central city of Kashan (Kassan) is a relic of this ancient Aryan tribe. Many relics of the Kassi tribe has also been found in the Khorramabad region, including paintings in the cave of Dusheh which date back to 15,000 BC. In these paintings, people can be seen riding horses. This is a very valid evidence against the erroneous theories which say that the Aryans brought the horse form Central Asia to Iran around 4,000 BC. Like its ancient riders, the horse is indigenous to Iran since at least 17,000 years ago.

Geology and meteorology confirm the evolution of man in the Iranian Plateau. The supporters of the theory of the migration of the Aryans from the north to Iran assume that with the fall in the temperature during the ice age, men were forced to migrate from the north (Central Asia) to the south (Iran). But the homo race was formed at the end of the third ice age, i.e. when the weather was gradually warming from the south to the north. Therefore, it would have been natural for people to migrate from south to north, and not the other way round. In fact, Central Asia was not habitable for men for thousands of years after the ice age, it only became so in the historic age as a result of the melting and receding of the arctic ice cap. Later groups of Iranians and Chinese migrated to these areas and formed the Turk race through cross breeding. The Indians are a hybrid of early Dravidians and the white Iranian race, a fact, which is evident from their dark skin.

So why have some European historians said that the origin of the Iranians is Central Asia? Because in 1833, an Oxford University professor used the term Aryan to describe a group of languages with common origins. Although he later admitted that parts of his theory were erroneous, the theory of an Aryan race was used by a group of romanticist writers and western historians in quest for an ancient identity.

The Germans, eyeing vast expanses of land in Central Asia, called themselves Aryans and cried for a return to the homeland. They used the Swastika, which, as a "wheel of Mithra (Sun/Fire)" used to be the arm of the Iranians since ancient times, as a Nazi symbol, to have an alibi to invade Russia.

The French, British, Russians and recently Americans found different reasons to call themselves Aryans
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General Surena, The Hero of Carrhae
By: Shapour Suren-Pahlav


Eran Spahbodh Rustaham Suren-Pahlav, son of Arakhsh (Arash, pers.) and Massis, was born in 84 BCE. The name under which he appears in the western classical sources was apparently no more than his hereditary title, that of Suren, which continues to appear as well in the record of Iranian history far into Sasanian times.

His glorious name is preserved amongst the throne, of epic heroes whose deeds are recalled in the Kayanian section of the Shahnameh. In the Iranian national epic, the record of the Arsacids was suppressed at their true chronological point, the instance of Gotarz (Goudarz) has shown that some at least of its spectacular episodes were transferred to the legendary period of Key-Kavous, and incorporated there. The feat of arms performed by Suren was certainly the most celebrated of the whole Ashkanian era, was not vanished entirely. Thus in some ways the position of great Suren in the historical tradition is curiously parallel to that of Rustam the hero of the Shahnameh. His figure has been endowed with many features of a historical personality of the Rustam. The latter he was always represented as the mightiest of Iranian paladins, and the atmosphere of the episodes in which he features is strongly reminiscent of the Ashkanian period.

Plutarch Describes the great Suren as:
... For Suren was no ordinary person; but in fortune, family and honour the first after the king; and in point of courage and capacity, as well as size and beauty, superior to the Parthians of his time. If he went only on an excursion into the country, he had a thousand camels to carry his baggage and two hundred carriages for his concubines. He was attended by a thousand heavy-armed horse, and many more of the light-armed rode before him. Indeed his vassals and slaves made up a body of cavalry little less than ten thousand. He had the hereditary privilege in his family of putting the diadem upon the king's head, when he was crowned. When Orodes was driven from throne, he restored him; and it was he who conquered for him the great city of Selucia, being the first scale the wall, and beating off the enemy with his own hand. Though he was not then thirty years old, his discernment was strong, and his counsel esteemed the best.
The Battle of Carrhae
The feudal and decentralized structure of the Parthian Empire may help to explain why, though founded on annexation and perpetually menaced by hostile armies both in the east and in the west, it never took a strong offensive after the days of Emperor Mithradates II. Iran tended to remain on the defensive. The wars between Iran and Rome therefore were initiated not by the Iranians -- who deeply injured though they were by the encroachments of Pompey--but by Rome itself. Rome considered itself obliged to enter upon the inheritance of Alexander of Macedonia and, from the time of Pompey, continually attempted the subjection of the Hellenistic countries as far as the Euphrates River and had ambitions to go even farther eastward. With this objective, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the Roman triumvir in 54 BCE, took the offensive against Iran.


Parthian Cataphracts (Fully Armoured Parthian Cavalry)
Such then were the protagonists in the decisive battle that was about to develop. With regard to the strength of the two armies, that of the Romans was greatly superior in sheer numbers, but ill adapted to the open terrain. According to the most reliable account, that of Plutarch, "Crassus commanded a force of seven legions, of which the total effective strength was estimated by Tarn at twenty-eight thousand heavy infantrymen". Other commentators have given somewhat higher estimates. In addition, the Roman force included four thousand cavalry, a quarter of whom were Gaulish troops lent by Julius Caesar; and a similar number of light-armed infantry. At the minimum estimate, the army of Crassus would thus have numbered thirty-six thousand men.

The Iranian force lead by Commander of Iranian forces, Suren, which they were opposed consisted, as the account shows, of a thousand fully armored lancers, the cataphracti, who formed the bodyguard of the General. Nine thousand horse-archers formed the main body, and the baggage-train of a thousand camels was available to bring up extra stocks of arrows. The entire farce was mounted, and highly mobile under desert conditions. At a superficial reckoning, the Roman force may have seemed sufficient for the task in hand. The event showed, however, that in two critical respects the Romans had underestimated the Iranian forces. The power of horse-archers’ arrows to penetrate the legionary Armour had not been appreciated, perhaps because the Roman commanders were unaware that the compound bow which the Iranians employed was a more powerful weapon than the lighter bows found at that time in Rome. Again, the Romans had anticipated that the Iranian cavalry would quickly exhaust their stock of arrows; but the camel train of the General Suren made it possible for him to bring up stocks of arrows as the quivers of his men were emptied. But for these two miscalculations, the Roman legionary square might have been expected to hold its own against the Iranian cavalry. Yet the heat, and vast distances of the Mesopotamian plain (for the battle took place in June) would have put Roman infantry at a disadvantage due to lack of experience to meet such a stoutest military in the East. Moreover, the Roman means of retaliation against their adversaries were ineffective, since the range of the Roman javelin was obviously limited, and the Gaulish cavalry relied on for a counter-attack were provided only with short javelins, and were lacking in defensive Armour.

Before the Romans march began, Crassus had been advised by a Roman ally, Artavasdes, king of Armenia, to led his forces through the mountains of that country, for the sake of shelter from the Iranian cavalry. However, he declined this advice, being anxious to incorporate the substantial Roman garrison posted during the previous season in the towns of Mesopotamia. And again, after crossing the Euphrates at Zeugma, he rejected the plan of his legate Cassius, that he should follow the course of the river to Babylonia. Instead Crassus followed the guidance of a Tazi (Arab) chief, whose name is given by Plutarch improbably as Ariamnes, but whom other sources name as Abcar or Abgar, and whom commentators have identified as the chief of the city of Edessa. This guide, suspected by the historians of collusion with the Suren, led the Romans away from the river into the desert, to the direct proximity of the main Iranian force, and, when the battle was imminent, made a pretext to ride away.

At first the Romans prepared to advance to the encounter in extended line. Then Crassus formed the legions into a square, and so advanced to ford the River Balissus (Balikh). Contrary to the opinion of his officers, he decided not to camp by the water, but hurried the troops across, and before long came in sight of the advance-guard of the Iranians. The strength of their main body was at first concealed. Then the thunder of drums burst on the ears of the Romans. The mailed cavalry of the Suren's bodyguard uncovered their Armour, and the sun glittered on their steel helmets. The first attack was a charge by the lancers of the bodyguard, led in person by the towering figure of the General Suren. Then, seeing the steadiness of the Roman legionaries, the horse-archers began their work. What followed was more like a massacre than a battle.

As often, the Romans had tried to remedy their weakness in cavalry by using light infantry mixed with their Gaulish horsemen. But such makeshift tactics were of little avail against the finest cavalry in the world. The legionaries were soon hard pressed and all but surrounded, so that Crassus was reduced to ordering his son, Publius, who commanded one of the wings, to attempt a charge - with his force, and so perhaps create a diversion.

The force which the Crassus’ son Publius, led into the attack consisted of thirteen hundred horse, five hundred archers, and eight cohorts of the infantry, the latter totaling some four thousand men. At first the Iranians retired in front of them; but when they were separated from the main force they were quickly surrounded, offering an all but help-less mark to the rain of arrows. The threat of a charge by the Cataphracts forced the Romans into close order, and thereby reduced their chances of escape. Though the Gauls caught hold of the Iranian lances to pull down the riders, and ran under the horses of their enemies to stab them in the belly, these were no more than tactics of desperation. Soon the young Crassus was disabled, and the remnant of his force retired to a mound to make their last stand. The young and naïve commander ordered his Armour-bearer to end his life, and five hundred of his soldiers survived to be taken as slave.

This agonizing diversion had temporarily relieved pressure on the main Roman force. But the magnitude of their disaster became clear when the Iranians rode back with the head of Publius Crassus on a spear. Thereafter the main body had to defend themselves as best they could for the rest of the day under the constant hail of missiles. Only when it grew too dark to shoot did the Iranians draw off, leaving the Romans to pass a melancholy night, encumbered as they were with wounded, and anticipating their final destruction on the following morning. By this time the Crassus himself was prostrated with despair. But Octavius and Cassius, his lieutenants, cowardly resolved that their only hope was to escape under cover of darkness, and seek shelter behind the walls of the city of Carrhae. Thus they slipped away silently from their camp in the darkness; but those of the wounded who could be moved obstructed their march, and the majority, who had to be abandoned, raised the alarm with their cries. Understandably, retreating in the dark, the Roman column fell into disorder. But a party of cavalry reached the city at midnight, and warned Coponius, commander of the garrison there, merely that Crassus had fought a great battle with the Iranians, before turning west to make their escape across the Euphrates. Another detachment of two thousand under the Roman officer Varguntius lost their way in the dark, and were found by the Iranians forces in the morning established on a hill. Of these, only twenty made their escape. But at Carrhae, Coponius suspected a mishap, and called his men to arms. Then he marched out, and conducted Crassus and the main body into the city.

There were no supplies in Carrhae for standing a long siege, nor hope of relief from the outside, since Crassus had concentrated for his army all the forces in the Roman East. The Roman commander therefore determined to break out on the second night, and make his way to safety in the shelter of the Armenian hills. Once again, his guide, Andromachus, was a Parthian sympathizer, who indeed was later rewarded after the expulsion of the Romans with the governorship of the city. It is said that he misled the Roman column in the dark, so that by dawn the main body was over a mile from the shelter of the hills. The qxraestor Cassius, another great of Roman commander with five hundred horsemen, escaped to Carrhae and later by a different route to safety in Syria. Octavius, another of the Roman officers, had reliable guides who took refuge in the mountains. At daybreak, Crassus and his force had occupied a spur connected by a low ridge to the main mountain range. When they came under attack, Octavius and his men moved down from the heights to their support. At this moment the Suren rode forward to offer a parley over terms of peace and forgive their lives. It is not clear whether Crassus accepted voluntarily, or under pressure from his men. But he and Octavius, with a small group, went down to meet the Iranians, who mounted Crassus upon a horse, to take him away for the signing of the treaty. Octavius, by mistake suspected a foul play, seized the bridle of the horse, and, when a scuffle broke out, drew his sword. In the melee that followed, all the Romans in the party were slain; and their leaderless troops either surrendered or scattered, though very few were successful in making good their escape. Of the entire force, twenty thousand are said to have been killed; ten thousand were captured, and deported to distant Margiana for hard labor and slavery. Thus ended the disastrous Roman campaign of Carrhae. The Euphrates was firmly established as the boundary between the two.

Despite the crushing defeat of Romans, the Iranians made no attempt to follow up their victory to invade Rome. Romans after Carrhae learnt from Iranians to introduce cavalry into their army, just as nearly a thousand year earlier the first Iranian to reached the Plateau introduced the Assyrians to a similar reform, but the upshot of the debacle was to win unquestioned recognition for Iran as a superior to Rome and return of Iranian Empire.

The Success of the great Suren had excited the jealousy of his sovereign, which soon after Carrhae he was executed, and Iran was thus not only deprived of a capable general, but created difference and bitterness between the House of Suren-Pahlav and the ruling House of Ashkan, which subsequently later, made the Suren-Pahlavs to help king of Kings Ardeshir I, of the Persian House of Sasan, to overthrown the Ashkanian Dynasty.

*** Note: This article is the courtesy of CAIS at SOAS.






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Origins of the conflict
After the defeat of the Kara-Khitais, Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire had a border with the Khwarezmid Empire, governed by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad. The Shah had only recently taken some of the territory under his control, and he was also busy with a dispute with the caliph in Baghdad. The Shah had refused to make the obligatory homage to the Caliph as titular leader of Islam, and demanded recognition as Sultan of his Empire, without any of the usual bribes, or pretend homage. This alone had created him problems along his southern border. It was at this junction the Mongol Empire, expanding incredibly, made contact. [2] It is possible that Genghis Khan's long term goal was to take advantage of the internal instability of the Shah's empire. However, in the short term, it is clear that Genghis Khan saw the potential advantage in Khwarezmia as a commercial partner and started a correspondence with the shah in 1218 in order to establish trade between their empires. Mongol history is adamant that the Great Khan at that time had no intention of invading the Khwarezmid Empire, and was only interested in trade and even a potential alliance. (It must be noted that Genghis Khan eventually abrogated every allegiance he ever made, but in the short term, he probably did not intend to invade the Khwarezmid Empire when he did)[3]

The shah was very suspicious of Genghis' want for a trade agreement and messages from the shah's ambassador at Zhongdu in China describing the exaggerated savagery of the Mongols when they assaulted the city during their war with the Jin Dynasty.[4] Of further interest is that the caliph of Baghdad, An-Nasir, had attempted to instigate a war between the Mongols and the Shah some years before the Mongol invasion actually occurred. This attempt at an alliance with Genghis was done because of a dispute between Nasir and the Shah, but the Khan had no interest in alliance with any ruler who claimed ultimate authority, titular or not, and which marked the Caliphate for an extinction which would come from Genghis' grandson, Hulegu. At the time, this attempt by the Caliph involved the Shah's ongoing dispute with wanting to be named sultan of Khwarezm, something that Nasir had no wish to do, as the Shah refused to acknowledge his authority, however illusory such authority was. However, it is known that Genghis rejected the notion of war as he was engaged in war with the Jin Dynasty and was gaining much wealth from trading with the Khwarezmid Empire.
Genghis then sent a 500-man caravan of Muslims to officially establish trade ties with Khwarezmia. However Inalchuq, the governor of the Khwarezmian city of Otrar, had the members of the caravan that came from Mongolia arrested, claiming that the caravan was a conspiracy against Khwarezmia. It seems unlikely, however, that any members of the trade delegation were spies. Nor does it seem likely that Genghis was trying to provoke a conflict with the Khwarezmid Empire, considering he was still dealing with the Jin in northeastern China.[3]

Genghis Khan then sent a second group
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