Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peter Hitchens & Iran

Peter Hitchens has written a quite brilliant account of his recent undercover trip to Iran. It is the most insightful piece I have read about the country. I've always thought of Iran as a far cry from the demonised threat to Western Society it is often portrayed as. The Hitchens article servers as a warning to those who believe a military strike against Iran is any kind of answer.

I'd love to read more articles by Peter Hitchens of this ilk. It's what he excels at.

Note: On April 8th I wrote an article headlined PETER HITCHENS & HIS THIN SKIN. Peter was away at the time in Iran, but has now responded to it in the Comments. Click HERE.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I must admit [since I never read the Daily Mail] that I had Hitchens down as a rabid right-wing ranting racist because he was always going on about immigration. But, as so often in my life, I was wrong.

I heard him on the 'Moral Maze' and realised he was nowhere near as mad as Melanie Phillips. Over a period of time I've come to realise that, whilst I certainly don't agree with him on many things, he's definitely worth listening to and certainly not racist.

Anonymous said...

Remember that eighties band 'Zodiac Mindwarp and the Blog Reaction'..

Iain Dale said...

WTF are you on about?

Alan said...

That's a really, really good article that I thoroughly encourage everybody to read.

It matches a lot with a TV programme I saw in, I think, 2001, about some kind of "off the beaten track" tourism with some guy visiting bizarre places. Bad description, I know, but Iran was one, and it looked very much like Hitchens' descriptions there.

Iran poses no threat. The only thing that makes it a threat is attacking it. Move on, people.

Rivca said...

Posted this about Iran on TV on February 15th. Rageh Omaar and my friend Paul Sapin, the latter at least being well to the left of Mr Hitchens, and they seem to have similar conclusions.

There is a link to the programme on YouTube - it's 90 minutes of seriousness and very useful.

ted foan said...

Very plausible is our Peter. Don't trust him though because he has a slippery side to his journalism. Why is he writing for the Mail and not the Independent?

fr said...

I've always thought of Hitchens as a far cry from the demonised threat to Western Society he is often portrayed as.

Tony said...

The people of Iran have always had a reputation for hospitality and generosity. It is not the people of Iran I am concerned about, but their government.

Hitchens' article does not tell people who have looked at the region in depth anything new. What it does reinforce is that even though Iran's people may now be unhappy with Ahmadinejad, they seem unable to do anything about it and accept the election frauds that take place.

The worry is Ahmadinejad and the extremists around him. I do not want the innocent people of Iran to suffer in any way. But I do not want to see a nuclear-capable Iran either given the mental state of that country's political and religious leadership.

Let us not forget the naked aggression to Israel and the materiel support of fighters in Iraq who are killing our troops and Iraqi citizens. Hitchens does not cover that in his piece.

Chris Paul said...

I have responded on the Hitchen thing on the old post but hope you will not mind me making a similar on topic comment here as well? Hitchens is right. Cameron is wrong and often behaving foolishly. His interveiw with the politics show and all the chatter about youth behaving badly is a hostage to fortune when assembled with Hitchens own Bullingdon boy college report. Watch out for Gweirdo. It's such an open goal. Gove's characterisation of parents sending their boys to Eton as a sign of how much they think of them was sadly lampooned by myself only yesterday here. Synchronicity. But actually a completely different comment. So that's alright then.

Chris Paul said...

PS Rivca is a friend of mine, not a sock puppet, I was on the wrong dashboard where I was helping her with starting her blogs. The comment and the link to the Omaar/Sapin film were mine. Sorry.

AnyoneButBlair said...

Peter's article is excellent. But in the west, we're in a quandry. Peter - I accept your point that attacking Iran merely strengthens a discredited and despotic regime, but don't you accept that I and many other fear the Iranian government and greatly fear it having access to nuclear arms. What are we to do? Stregthen sanctions in the hope that by squeezing Iran it's people turn on the government? Previous history of such courses of action are not encouraging. Attack Iran? We may put back it's arms programme but at the cost of strengthening the despots and increasing international terrorism. Very difficult policy choices for the next American president....

Philipa said...

Yes Iain, I agree, it's what Peter does best, but then that's his history. At what point does a foreign correspondant hang up his passport and is sure to be at home every Bank Holiday? By the looks of it, never! Which is all the better for us but a bit of table banging every saturday, published on sunday seems awfully cosy. Nutter? Possibly; he's a journalist.

For something new (tony, 8:58am) I understand that Peter is publishing his Iran Diary on his blog which is usually updated on tuesdays.

Steven_L said...

I'm not mad keen on the idea of nuclear prolifiration in such unstable parts of the world myself. I think Clinton allowing Pakistan to get the bomb was a disaster.

It's not so much that a state will use them, but that these states could have coups at any time and the weapons be 'looted' and sold off to terrorists.

The Hitch said...

Bearing in mind how sensitive Peter Hitchens is to being called "bonkers" no doubt he was more than a little put out by being described as a maniac.
What is maniacal about being a champion of law and order , family values and decencey?
All things Cameron claims to be but isnt.
Peter Hicthens speaks for natural Conservatives , slippery Cameron does not.

Philipa said...

I think I feel lunch coming up now.

I. D. D. said...

Iain,

We so very rarely agree on anything but on this we do. A brilliantly insightful article by someone who has bothered to take the time to go and see for himself.

Well done Peter for a brilliant article and well done Iain for bringing it to my attention.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the people of Iran have as much sympathy with their leaders as the British do with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.That still has not stopped the terrible twins doing a lot of damage.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

I'd love to read more articles by Peter Hitchens of this ilk.

I much prefer his blog :)

forthurst said...

A good piece. Peter Hitchens always comes across as an honest journalist.

The sad truth is that it is the neocons who ramped up the threat from Iraq as dire and imminent, and they are trying to do exactly the same with Iran. I do not believe this actually influences western politicians' beliefs, but it does provide them with the camouflage to take the neocons' cash and perform their requisit acts of treason. Blair and Howard were not dupes; they are traitors. On both sides of the Atlantic the governments are run by traitors.

Madasafish said...

well the last excuse for war with Iran - capture of British sailors - was screwed up because a>they were released and B> in its haste to spin it the MOD and the Minister for War (sorry Defence) screwed it up.

I expect another reason soon after the shambles has escaped people's minds...

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

anonymous [11.16 PM] Melanie Phillips is not mad. You must not equate a conservative viewpoint with insanity. They are quite different.

Pedant said...

"Insightful"?

John Hayward, The Difference said...

As someone who has spent a number of years in the Persian world, I have also enjoyed the sights and hospitality of Iran, and wholly endorse Peter's impressions. On the whole, Iranians' historical love of the Brits and Americans still remains stronger than more recent political disaffection. For a suggested positive way forward in the current impasse, you may care to check out The Difference Magazine. Just yesterday I also recommended a book/film that many would find helpful in challenging some of the media's usual misrepresentations about Iran's culture and Iranian values.

John Hayward, The Difference said...

As someone who has spent a number of years in the Persian world, I have also enjoyed the sights and hospitality of Iran, and wholly endorse Peter's impressions. On the whole, Iranians' historical love of the Brits and Americans still remains stronger than more recent political disaffection. For a suggested positive way forward in the current impasse, you may care to check out The Difference Magazine. Just yesterday I also recommended a book/film that many would find helpful in challenging some of the media's usual misrepresentations about Iran's culture and Iranian values.

Philipa said...

Oh Peter Hitchens' blog is going to be updated on wed this week as well, to accomodate part two of his Persian Diary. Check it out.

David Lindsay said...

Trumpeter Lanfried, Melanie Phillips is certainly not mad on, say, education, or drugs. But nor does she have "a conservative viewpoint".

Rather, she wants to make the world anew, by purely human efforts even including the force of arms, in accordance with a blueprint drawn up in various university libraries and literary salons. This is called neoconservatism, and is about as unconservative as anything could possibly be.

In fact, I don't know which is worse, support or this sort of thing from nominal Tories, or such support from nominal members of the Labour Party, which was set up specifically in order to prevent this country's succumbing to another such ideology, also (like neoconservatism) of Marxist origin.

verity said...

Peter Hitchens is indeed publishing the diary he kept in Iran on his blog and a right ravishing read it is. It has dispelled many of the notions about modern Iran that many of us,including me, accepted as gospel.

The bit the lack of shyness among Iranian women, and that some of their hairstyles verge on insanity was very funny.

I'm waiting for tomorrow's episode with the anticipation of galloping through another absorbing read.

Philipa said...

What notions?? I have to agree with tony; April 23, 2007 8:58 AM. However I still recommend reading the diary adn would say that Peter's passion for the religious, veiled woman thing is a bit worrying and he might find that under that mystery, that devout, compliant, alluring mystery, she has two arms and legs etc, just the same as us and is using a strange exotic sounding language to say things like: 'will you be home for dinner?', 'don't put your slippers on, the cat's been sick' and 'do you think that white bloke's wearing the same shirt he had on yesterday?' only it's not quite so sexy when you know what they're saying is it?

verity said...

Philipa - Mr Hitchens' point seems to have flown right over your head, coiffed or otherwise.

I don't think that someone who lived in Moscow for two years needs instruction from you on interpreting an alien culture.

Hitchens has travelled extensively in the islamic world and his noting how different is the attitude of Iranian women, especially in the capital, was rather interesting.

Anyone who has been in the Middle East and has seen ambulatory black bin bags trudging along, hunched over from the weight of the bags she's carrying, while the husband strolls ahead in his tennis shorts would be very interested in Mr Hitchens' observations about Iranian women.

Philipa said...

verity once again you have a colossal sense of humour failure and don't lecture me on what Peter Hitchens has or hasn't done. In fact don't lecture me at all.

verity said...

Philipa - If you don't want people to respond to what we may kindly refer to as your "thoughts", don't post.

Your comment dripped with patronisation, as though Mr Hitchens were some naive little twerp on his very first foray ever into an alien culture. Really gruesome.

Why did you seek to devalue his observations?

verity said...

Oh, God! I've just had a thought! Did you think your post was ... funny?

Is that why you referred to, in such an original turn of phrase, my "sense of humour failure"?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the crackdown has just begun?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6596933.stm