Cross-posted from Asia Times
For a roving correspondent, going to Iran is always extra-special. Getting a press visa approved usually takes ages. This was my sixth trip -- and I had no visa. Just a number, tied to a visa at the airport. Until the last minute, I thought I'd be deported from Imam Khomeini International -- back to Abu Dhabi, which is now pretending to bomb The Caliph. Then, a small miracle; a VIP room, a visa in 10 minutes and the next I know I'm zooming into an eerily deserted Tehran at sunrise on a Friday, past the psychedelic space station decked in green that is Imam Khomeini's shrine.
Why Virilio? Because he was the first to conceptualize that with the explosion of asymmetrical warfare, Total War had become local - on a global scale. I expanded on the theme in my 2007 book Globalistan and in my writings. Washington and Tel Aviv had been threatening to bomb Iran for years. Virilio was the first to assert that "peace" merely extends war by other means.
A beautiful sunny morning in front of the Foreign Ministry compound. An exhibition/installation about the "imposed" -- as it's widely known -- Iran-Iraq war. A reconstructed minefield; a map of nations weaponizing Saddam; pictures of young fighters/martyrs who wouldn't have been older than 14. A theatre of painful remembrance. In late 1978, Tehran also had its crowds in the streets as chorus -- against the shah. Khomeini was a reaction against consumerism; but was he "power to the imagination"? And then, all was engulfed in a theatre of cruelty -- the tragedy of the "imposed" war.
War in the journalistic sense is national delinquency elevated to the scale of an extremely important conflict -- It's the equivalent of the "tumults," as ancient societies called them. We can no longer even speak of wars, they are interstate delinquencies. It's State terrorism.
In Tehran, my immensely gracious hosts were the organizers of New Horizon: the International Conference of Independent Thinkers. After plenty of twists and turns, the Foreign Ministry ended up also being involved. The conference issued an important resolution condemning ISIS/ISIL/The Caliph; Zionism; Islamophobia; sectarianism; and Washington's blind support for anything Israel unleashes over Palestine: Israel's national delinquency, or State terrorism. The conference also called for cooperation and understanding between the West and Islam: that implies a struggle against interstate delinquencies.
The best defense is to attack; and to attack you must have some ideas; right now there aren't any ideas. Imagination today is in the image, and the image is in power. There's no imagination for anything but the image.
I have to leave a fabulous open-air traditional Persian dinner to go to Press TV studios for a debate with notorious neo-con Daniel Pipes about ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. We surprisingly agree more than I would normally expect. Well, not hard, considering the Obama administration's non-strategy "strategy"; an image (bombs and Tomahawks) fighting an image (The Caliph's carefully edited beheading show).
Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani's speech at the United Nations kept making waves; "Extremists threaten our neighbors, resort to violence and shed blood." It's "the people in the region who can deliver" in the fight against The Caliph. Rouhani was not exactly referring to the made in USA jets allegedly deployed by the Gulf Cooperation Council coalition of the clueless/cowards; the House of Saud, UAE, Bahrain and associate member Jordan.
Still, what Rouhani said in New York kept echoing day after day everywhere in Tehran; weaponizing the "new" Free Syrian Army in Saudi Arabia, of all places, amounts "to train another group of terrorists and send them to Syria to fight." And Washington's "strategy" is further enabling hardcore Sunni dictators who've made their careers demonizing Shi'ites.
And then that other "unofficial" Caliph, neo-Ottoman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stepped in; there would be no use of Turkish "territory" or "military bases" by the "coalition" if "the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime." Who needs Caliph Erdogan to fight Caliph Ibrahim? Major General Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, can do it; his picture, side by side with Kurdish peshmergas, made a splash all over Iran when published by IRINN.
The cinema shows us what our consciousness is. Our consciousness is an effect of montage -- It's a collage. There is only collage, cutting and splicing. This explains fairly well what Jean-Francois Lyotard calls the disappearance of the great narratives. Classless society, social justice -- no one believes in them anymore. We're in the age of micro-narratives, the art of the fragment.
The joy of Laleh park -- a Persian park crisscrossed by stray Persian cats as well as accomplished volleyball and badminton players and pram-pushing families. That's where Arash Darya-Bandari, medievalist extraordinaire with many years spent in the Bay Area, gives me a crash course on the finer points of one of the great surviving narratives; Shi'ism and Khomeini's concept of velayat-e-faqih. In Pure Non-War terms, this was always supposed to be about social justice. And that's why it's unintelligible to turbo-capitalism.
The park as Agora; a garden of intellectual delights. Nearly all my top conversations took place walking across or around Laleh park. And then one night, I went for a solitary walk, just to find a revolutionary movie/performance on a makeshift stage, complete with a trench and mortars. An audience of a few solitary men and some scattered families. The cinema keeping the consciousness of the Iran-Iraq war alive.