Iran Signals New Tone

If President Obama wins a second term, Iran is signaling it would be ready for improved relations with the United States and the West. One sign of that shift in attitude was the toned-down speech by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad at the UN, notes Danny Schechter.

By Danny Schechter

Sometimes, major media is the last to recognize shifts in policy positions. Iran is a case in point.

In the lead-up to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s annual speech to the General Assembly, American TV networks prepared their audiences for another provocative Israel-hating rant. Brace yourself, we were told; in his last speech to the UN General Assembly, he would go off and all out in denouncing Israel and the world’s Jews.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressing the United Nations General Assembly.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautioned him publicly to restrain his rhetoric even as right-wing media outlets like Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, which has never seen a far right-wing Zionist cause it hasn’t embraced, went into full demonization mode with a front cover featuring his picture and the words, “Piece of Sh*t.”  (It was reminiscent of the Saddam baiting in U.S. media in the run-up to the Iraq War.)

The rhetoric of the well-orchestrated anti-Iranian crowds outside was even bloodier. Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for immediate U.S. airstrikes, sounding like his main financial backer, right-wing casino mogul and supporter of Israeli settlers, Sheldon Adelson, who poured millions into Gingrich’s failed presidential campaign before shifting his resources to Mitt Romney.

But, surprise, surprise, Ahmadinejad shifted his tone and offered a subdued, non-inflammatory, even analytical speech indicting big power pressure and capitalism but with no quotable excesses. Its tone may have reflected the fact that Iran is now leading the Non-Aligned Movement.

What is going on? The latest Iran Review, a respected policy journal carries an article calling for dialogue with the U.S., not more diatribes. The magazine describes itself this way:

“Iran Review is the leading independent, non-governmental and non-partisan website – organization representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran’s political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.”

On Monday, just as UN week was beginning, Nasser Saghafi-Ameri wrote:

“After talking to several top diplomats and international security experts from different countries in a couple of meetings that I attended during the past two weeks, I am now more convinced than ever that the normalization of relations between Iran and the U.S. should be a top priority of the leaders of both countries if they wish to avert a military clash that could easily turn into a regional or international conflagration.

“These direct and comprehensive talks could also set a better understanding between them to work more effectively in bringing peace and stability in the crisis ridden region of the Middle East.

“Focusing only on Iran’s nuclear program as premise for confrontation with this country has practically deprived the U.S. to seek Iran’s much prized assistance on some critical issues that both countries have shared interest such as the stability in the post-occupation Iraq and Afghanistan, peace and stability in the wider Middle East region following the Arab Spring’s upheavals, and preference for a ‘soft landing’ of revolutionary fervors in the region and especially if it spreads to Saudi Arabia with all consequential  effects including on the world oil markets.”

Note, also, that the new Egyptian President Morsi suggested that Iran could play a valuable role in dampening tensions with Syria. When Kofi Annan suggested something similar, the idea was rejected by the United States and he later stepped down as a mediator.

I was recently at a TV appearance by a negotiations expert on Saudi Arabian TV. He told me that he is involved in two back-channel negotiations on the issue.

Iranian nuclear experts are also offering compromise proposals reported by IPS journalist Gareth Porter but not yet any major media outlets:

“Iran has again offered to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, which the United States has identified as its highest priority in the nuclear talks, in return for easing sanctions against Iran, according to Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who has conducted Iran’s negotiations with the IAEA in Tehran and Vienna, revealed in an interview with IPS that Iran had made the offer at the meeting between EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s leading nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul Sept. 19.”

And so, there are clearly initiatives underway to build bridges, but so far, media outlets, eager to fan the flames of confrontation and polarization, have ignored them. Is it ignorance or something worse?

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at His latest books are Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street and Blogothon (Cosimo Books.) He hosts a show on Progressive Radio Network ( Comments to


  13 comments for “Iran Signals New Tone

  1. boron
    October 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

    The Daily News headline was particularly despicable. The next headline from somewhere should read:
    “People to Zuckerman: Drop Dead”

  2. Ahem
    October 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

    “………….. Is it ignorance or something worse?” It is both–ignorance on the part of the sheeple fanning the flames in their desire to keep smarter individuals from seeing the “something worse” behind the curtain.

  3. borat
    October 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Two human interest stories relating to medievalist paradises the goose steppers love to praise.

    Camerman Defected During His U.N. Visit
    By Dashiell Bennett | The Atlantic Wire – 4 hrs ago

    A Iranian cameraman who came to New York as part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations last week is reportedly seeking asylum in the United States. According to the Associated Press, Hassan Gol Khanban came to the States as part of the 140-person Iranian entourage attending last week’s General Assembly meeting, but he managed to stay behind and find a New York lawyer to represent him. The lawyer made the announcement about the asylum request on Sunday night, but didn’t provide any other details about his client’s decision or how he slipped out of the group.
    Perhaps he stepped away during one of the Iranians’ many shopping trips. The New York Daily News reported that members of the Iranian delegation spent most of their free time shopping for drug store staples like Tylenol, shampoos, vitamins, and discount shoes that they can’t get back home due to tough international sanctions. All while the president and his team settled down on two whole floors of the posh Warwick Hotel.
    It’s not clear under what grounds Khanban can apply for asylum, but the lack of press freedom in Iran is a good start. The Tehran bureau was convicted in court for “spreading lies,” simply for referring to a group of martial students as “assassins.” The bureau has since been shut down and the rest of the staff moved to Dubai, but even issuing a correction didn’t spare her from a trial and a pending punishment.

    Ikea deleted women from Saudi version of catalogue Associated Press – 2 hrs 39 mins ago

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — Ikea is being criticized for deleting images of women from the Saudi version of its furniture catalogue, a move the company says it regrets.
    Comparing the Swedish and Saudi versions of the Ikea catalogue, Sweden’s free newspaper Metro on Monday showed that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical pictures showcasing the company’s home furnishings.
    The report raised questions in Sweden about Ikea’s commitment to gender equality. The country’s trade minister Ewa Bjorling didn’t criticize Ikea directly but told Metro that you can’t delete women from society.
    Ikea released a statement expressing regret, saying “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.”

  4. borat
    October 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

    iran may be “signaling a new tone”; however, the same medievalist mullah mentality persists in “freedom of the press”:

    Iran Court Finds Reuters Journalist Guilty of ‘Spreading Lies’
    Published: September 30, 2012

    TEHRAN (AP) — A special media court on Sunday found the Tehran bureau chief of the Thomson Reuters news agency guilty of “spreading lies” against the Islamic system for a video script that briefly described a group of women involved in martial arts training as killers.

    The state-owned news Web site quoted Ali Akbar Kasaeian, a spokesman for the court panel, as saying that the Reuters bureau chief, Parisa Hafezi , was convicted of propaganda-related offenses for a February video that initially carried a headline saying that the women were training as ninja “assassins.” Iran’s state Press TV also reported the court decision.
    The Reuters headline was corrected, but it led to the suspension of the Reuters bureau in Tehran in March. Most of the Reuters staff members shifted to Dubai, but Ms. Hafezi, an Iranian citizen, was not allowed to leave Iran.
    Barb Burg, a spokeswoman for Reuters, said: “We understand that the jury has stated its view and we now await the court’s ruling. We do not intend to comment further until a decision is issued.”

    A sentence by the court is expected within a week. The media court rarely deals with international news outlets, but often issues rulings against domestic media for various violations with punishments including fines, closings or jail sentences.

    Last week, the moderate newspaper Shargh was ordered shut over a caricature that hard-liners have interpreted as insulting to war veterans. In the past, Iranian authorities have revoked the credentials of the staff of foreign media or expelled foreign staff members over reporting deemed objectionable, like interviews with opposition figures.

    • Roger Thomas
      October 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Compared to what the Palestinians have suffered and continue to suffer under Zionazi occupation and colonisation, all I can say is so what. The abomination of the Zionazi regime with its record of state terrorism and apartheid policies commits far worse crimes which go unpunished. It is the Zionazis who should be sanctioned as the true inheritors of jackbooting nazism.

      America’s bought politicians are no less war criminals than the Zionazis and will all end up in Hell.

      • borat
        October 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm

        go to hell you nazi bastard

  5. gfg0010
    October 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    He toned down his speech? Are you ignorant or just good old fashioned dumb? Calling for the annihilation of another nation is not a toned down speech.

    • tyme
      October 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      You should read the transcript of the speech. He makes no mention of annihilating any nation.

  6. October 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Iran has not changed its position on its strategic interests. It was the Washington which has been threatening and carrying-on terrorism against Tehran since 1980 including its 8-year support for Saddam’s invasion of Iran. Iran, on the other hand, has always extended its hands in peace to the US but refusing to lose its dignity and independence.

    It’s Washington which is now conducting secret talks with Tehran through Ankara, Baghdad and Islamabad and not the other way around. American policy-makers have finally come to the conclusion that without Iran’s help – America cannot maintain its strategic interest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and the rest of the region.

    Many American commentators, including Henry Kissinger, has recently admitted that Israel is doomed in the near future.

  7. borat
    October 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Rehmanazi has been smokin his hookah thru his rear which has polluted his mind quicker.

    • October 2, 2012 at 10:20 am

      On September 17, 2012, Cindy Adams in her column at the New York Post, quoted Henry Kissinger predicting that if the current isolation of the Zionist entity continues – the Zionist entity will be gone within next 10 years.

      “Reported to me, Henry Kissinger has stated – and I quote the statement word for word: “In 10 years, there will be no more Israel”. I repeat: “In 10 years, there will be no more Israel”, wrote Cindy Adams.

      “Do not argue with Mr. Kissinger’s know-how. He already knows how,” added Adams to emphasized her point.

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