The great Iran debate and other things
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 by Ron Cruger
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                First, I have to tell you about the people who gather at the local Starbuck’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are seven of them, including me. It’ll help if I give you a brief description of each of them. There’s Helen, born in London, who’s in her fifties. She’s observant, smart, reserved and only speaks when she has something worthwhile to say.
                There’s Dick, from Texas, almost sixty years old, he’s loud and opinionated. He doesn’t want to spend too much time on any one subject as he gets antsy. He wants fast solutions to problems. His eyes are constantly darting around the table, around everything.
                Mary is in her early forties, she’s Irish. Doesn’t like arguments. She’s a small town girl. She likes the idea of sitting around the table, listening to other people express their opinions. She enjoys the Tuesday and Thursday meetings. She holds in her opinions as long as possible then speaks.
                Aimee is Asian, forty five years old. She’s short, pretty, comes from an extremely rich family. I’ve heard it said that her father owns half of Hong Kong. She sees flaws in most arguments, but won’t say anything until she gets totally fed up with the lack of logic on behalf of any of her table mates.
                Steve is in his middle forties, black, athletic, very smart and a graduate of Harvard. He has little tolerance for ignorance, bigotry or stupidity. He’s a serious student of thinking and problem solving.
                Helaine is forty six years old, her mother is Spanish, she’s attractive, smart, has a tendency to flirt, likes the challenge of listening to, understanding and then adding her perspective to the round table conversations.
                                                                                                                                 . . .
           Dick and Steve pushed the two square tables together so the seven members of the “Starbuck’s Roundtable” could sit collectively. They kidded about the round table being made of two square tables.
          Steve got his cup of white chocolate mocha and sat down. Mary stirred her cappuccino. Aimee sipped her iced caramel macchiato. Helaine blew on the foam of her caffe latte. I got my usual decaf with lo fat cream and emptied two packs of Equal in it and stirred.
          Dick couldn’t wait to begin. “When the hell is Obama going to do something about the violence in Iran? He’s such a wuss. I knew he’d turn out to be this way. He won’t support those people who are rioting for freedom in Baghdad.”
          Steve grew a smile and just looked at Dick for a few seconds, then spoke, “What would you have Obama do, Dick? You really want him to stick his nose, our noses, in Iran’s business?”
          “Hell, yes, I want our President to tell off that sumbitch Ahmadinejad,” continued Dick.
          I had to ask him, “And what good would it do for the American President to tell off Ahmadinejad?”
          Mary jumped on my question, “Yes, Dick, how would we feel if the head of another country started telling our President what to do. We’d be upset, wouldn’t we?”
          Helaine, smiled her beautiful smile. She couldn’t hold back anymore, “Maybe I don’t fully understand this Iran thing, but I think Obama is doing the right thing. He’s announced a few times that he’s appalled by the violence in the streets of Baghdad and other cities in Iran. He’s condemned the leadership of Iran for their cruel crackdown against the election protestors. He’s said he’s ‘outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the past few days.”
          Aimee, sipped her macchiato, straightened the hair hanging over her forehead and said, “I’ve heard the conservative critic guys on the radio, including Rush Limbaugh, complain about the way President Obama is handling the uprisings in Iran, but I haven’t heard them offer a smart suggestion of what they would do. I’m just glad that Bush is out of office so he couldn’t pop off and get us hated even more in the middle east.”
          Dick was returning to the table with his second cup of strong black coffee. He heard Aimee’s thoughts and blurted, “So what if we’re hated. I’d rather be hated and feared than liked and without respect.”
           Steve cut in, “Who says being liked means you don’t get respect? The Iranian leadership, including that Khamenei person, have already taken some of Obama’s comments and translated them in Iran, suggesting that the White House and the C.I.A. are behind all the rioting in the streets. Just about anything we do in Iran, other than, telling the leadership that the violence is unacceptable will be considered as ‘meddling,’ pure and simple.”
          Dick had finished his second coffee and was growing impatient, “I say we tell those sumbitches that unless they lay off the protestors and let them express their views we will cut off all dialogue with them, today and in the future. Tell ‘em we will bomb the hell out of their nuclear plants if they don’t straighten up.”
          Helen had been listening closely. She reached for her empty cup and crushed it in her right hand, “Look, these protestors, these wonderful, heroic people on the streets of Baghdad deserve all of our support, but if we threaten, insult and meddle I think we’ll ruin any good we’ve done lately in the Middle East. Just think, we have right in front of us, something happening that we couldn’t do in a thousand years, we have the Iranian people, mostly young ones, fighting for their freedom and independence.” Helen looked Dick in the eye and continued, “What’s happening in Iran today is going to result in the overthrow of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday. We can screw up this whole revolution by sticking our nose in it. I say let’s support the protestors just like Obama is doing. It’s a tightrope, but by doing it this way I think the protestors will accomplish what our own C.I.A. and President Bush couldn’t do with all their threats and bullying. Iran is headed for a change. Let’s ride with it and not screw it up.”
          Aimee, chimed in, “I agree, let’s keep doing what Obama is doing. I just don’t see that there’s anything else we can do. Let’s support those people in the streets of Baghdad. Let them know that America stands behind their march towards freedom.”
          “Look, Iran is building nuclear facilities, most likely nuclear weapons, we should do all we can to get the people of Iran to overthrow their government and elect people who will talk reason with the world community. Iran with nuclear weapons is a threat to the world. I think we should make it clear that not only the United States, but the world community will not permit Iran to create nuclear weapons. Our initial hope is the election of men and women in Iran who will talk reason with us and the world to avoid a nuclear war. We have a great opportunity to improve the situation and I think President Obama is moving in the right direction. We must give the situation more time. After all, if worst comes to worst we may be headed for a war regardless.” Aimee took a deep breath and rested.
          Mary, agitated and frightened by the talk of war, tried changing the subject, said, “Isn’t that story, that the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, told a pip. I think everyone in the United States knew there was a woman involved. The man is finished.”
          Dick, motivated by two cups of strong coffee, said, “I say we phone Ahmadinejad and tell him that unless he lets those people in the streets protest the election and unless him and that Khamenei do a legitimate recount of the votes that we will, er, um, uh…” Dick struggled to find the right words. He couldn’t.
          Steve stood up, separated the two square tables and said, “Until next week, folks. See ya Tuesday.
          I tossed my paper cup in the trash can and headed for my car thinking, “I sure wouldn’t want to be President Obama.”