Posts Tagged ‘United States’



The ranking is based on 60 indicators spanning five interrelated categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

United States Doesn’t Even Make Top 20 on Global Democracy Index


Meet Ukraine’s Master Mass-Murderer: Dmitriy Yarosh

“War in Afghanistan is based on the aims of foreigners. The war in Afghanistan is to the benefit of foreigners. But Afghans on both sides are the sacrificial lambs and victims of this war.”

… The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,”said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

Karzai’s farewell speech: US didn’t want peace in Afghanistan


Israeli crimes against humanity have continued with United States collusion. The US is bound by treaty to cut off all military aid to the Israeli terror state for breaching the UN Charter and for violating numerous resolutions to establish its borders.

The true story of this conflict has a categorically different set of headlines than propagandized Americans have previously seen.

  • Israel Steals Land
  • Israel Steals Water
  • Israel Steals Natural Gas
  • Israel Bombs Civilians
  • Israel Massacres Thousands
  • Many More Thousands Maimed
  • Israeli Propaganda Infiltrates Social Media
  • Israel Pressure Threatens Journalists
  • Israel Seeks to Expand Borders Indefinitely
  • Israel Violates Dozens of UN Resolutions

Et cetera, this is a conflict where one side has a major military surrounding the other side, which subsists in a ghetto. The Israelis learned more than a few tricks out of  the World War Two experience. The ghettoization of its opponents, demonization and final solution are always, as they say, “on the table.”



It is not Palestinians surrounding Israel. It is the Israeli military surrounding Palestine.

It is not Palestinians starving Israelis with a military siege. It is Israel starving Gaza, turning it into the world’s largest prison camp.

It is not Palestinians bombing Israelis. It is the Israeli military bombing Palestine.

It is not Palestine stealing Israel. It’s Israelis stealing Palestine.

Most of the world understands these basic facts. Americans are too deluded and propagandized to comprehend international events. Any international events.



These are the people whom Barack Obama and War Inc. wish to aid by bombing the government army in Syria.  In fact they have already been helping them for two years.  Why do you think they have so many guns?

Is Barack Obama fit to remain President of the United States another day?

Happy September 11th.

Syrian Al Qaeda / Al Nusra terrorists…



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Continue picture show of wonderful US allies in Syria.


Betray Friends’ Privacy to Comment?


I was ready to “Login with Facebook” over on TED’s website, when their privacy invading app told me they were taking my email address and other info – including my friend’s info and video information.  And I stopped.

Who gives them the right to stick these data mining marketing tricks into their message board?

Fuck you, TED. We live in an invasive, privacy destroying Brave New World of aggressive marketing yuppies with no scruples.  Rudeness is being normalized.  You can’t even have a conversation with a human for more than two minutes without them pulling out some tappy tappy device in the middle of it.  The humans are resembling cyborgs more and more, slaves to the devices.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on Maajid Nawaz’s talk about extremism allegedly running rampant across the globe far and ahead of democracy.  Some of his claims make more sense in particular Arab countries than they apply to the rest of the globe.  Some of his thinking is constrained and limited in scope, and that is the point I wish to make. The talk, and the world view behind it, are completely missing the larger picture of empire, global hegemony by the US and friends.  Behind the scenes the real exercise of power grinds on to coopt and derail popular movements, to benefit extremists when convenient, to fund and arm military dictators, which is very often convenient, to protect brutal human rights abusers when they provide strategic benefit, and etcetera.  This is not a new or novel understanding.

The Arab world in particular should know well the machinations of Uncle Sam in propping up oil dictators and overthrowing the disobedient ones.  Iran’s actual democracy was destroyed in 1953 by the CIA, and even admitted to.  This is not covered up today. Nawaz focuses a lot on Egypt, without mention of US support of Mubarek right up until his ouster by one of their torturer friends in the Egyptian military.  The Egyptian military receives more than a billion dollars in so-called military “aid” every year, $1.3Bn as of 2010.  What are they purchasing with this graft? Pakistan has also received much.  Saudi Arabia and Bahrain receive quite shockingly positive media when their people rise up demanding democracy – and are brutalized, tortured and imprisoned for their efforts.  US leaders smile and change the subject. To fail to mention any of this obvious undemocratic imperial meddling is a credibility killer, in my view.

Nawaz himself is a former “extremist,” already taken in by one set of dogmas.  One wonder if this new prevailing democracy myth he ascribes to is similarly processed in extremist fashion? As far as fighting for democracy and against Islamic militant extremism, we again must examine the facts on the ground.  In 1979 the Mujahadeen, the precursor to “Al Qaeda,” were created, armed, trained and imported into Afghanistan to overthrow the pro-Soviet government.  Decades of horror and destruction followed, which persists to this day.  That particular US supporting of extremism was launched under Jimmy Carter of all people. Today, the Al Nusra Brigades in Syria are doing the empire’s dirty work.  These absolute extremists, with a blood drenched record of terrorism that exceeds Al Qaeda’s record already, are part of the current imperial strategy to topple dominoes.  Al Nusra is supported directly and unequivocally by US client regimes Saudi Arabia and Qatar and are hosted and given free passage on NATO state Turkey’s territory to invade Syria next door.  US CIA are also on the other Syrian border in Jordan, arming and training fighters.

How does any of this fit into the picture that Nawaz paints during his talk? His is a sin of omission.  The myth prevails rather than the reality.  I’m all for democracy and promoting it, but let’s not close our eyes and play fools.

And TED, you can go to hell for daring to demand personal contacts from people commenting on your website.  Have some shame and some tact, basic etiquette.  To talk to you in the street you first demand my mother’s Facebook posts, and which videos she watches?  And my sister’s dog photos?  Can I say my comment then?

William Blum Interviewed in Superpower, The Movie

Unmasking Imperial America

Empire of Deceit


If you took all the uncomfortable truths omitted from mainstream media over the past half century, compiled and indexed them, and added a dash of withering sarcasm, you might end up with a book a lot like, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy [Zed Books, 2013] the latest offering from serial dissident William Blum. Like his better-known peers Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and Gore Vidal, Blum is a perennial gadfly on the imperial hide, puncturing falsehood and punctuating hypocrisy with an implacable zeal. On the back cover of Blum’s book Rogue State—and repeated in the current volume—is the following paragraph, probably the finest he has or may put to paper:

If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize – very publically and very sincerely –to all the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America’s global interventions – including the awful bombings – have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but – oddly enough – a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. There would be more than enough money. One year’s military budget of $330 billion is equal to more than $18,000 an hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born. That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated.

This paragraph was famously quoted by Osama Bin Laden in one of his grainy video homilies to the world in 2006. A minor media storm followed, hovering over Blum like a drone over a Waziristan hamlet. Once the furor subsided, however, Blum’s connection to OBL contaminated his reputation as a public figure. In the half dozen years since, Blum has received scant few speaking invitations from universities after enjoying a steady diet of engagements in the years prior. One can just envision the blandly decorous university administrator, seated in his mahogany office, dismissing out of hand a proposed invite to Blum, admonishing naïve student advocates to use a bit more discretion in their choice of speakers. But it was their loss.democracy_300_470

Blum’s latest offering confirms that his exile from the college circuit has done nothing to dim his fury. The new book is a compilation of essays and articles dating from the middle of the Bush years through 2011, and covering a vast range of foreign policy issues. Blum writes with disarming informality, a writer with little time for the artful turns of the poet or novelist. His mission feels too urgent for anything but blank candor. In contrast to a more measured analyst like Chomsky, Blum holds nothing back. He launches salvo after salvo at the edifice of imperial falsification, a veritable babel of cloaked belligerence. Yet his indignation is leavened by healthy doses of humor, including a late chapter that envisions a global police state of comical extremes.

Blum’s central objective, it seems, is to expose the American mythology of good intentions. He states in the introduction, writing about the American public, “No matter how many times they’re lied to, they still often underestimate the government’s capacity for deceit, clinging to the belief that their leaders somehow mean well. As long as people believe that their elected leaders are well intentioned, the leaders can, and do, get away with murder. Literally.”

From this premise, Blum quickly establishes the central goal of U.S. foreign policy: world domination. The concept, so infrequently phrased like this—even on the left—may sound like something out of a Bond novel—the sinister plot of SPECTRE, hatched in some underwater command center. But as Blum begins to lay the foundation for his claim, the ostensibly fictive begins to feel factual. He asserts that the American military is the vanguard of American business, bent on corporate globalization by any means available to it, which happen to include state terror, undermining elections, bombing, assassination, support of autocratic mass-murderers, and a general suppression of populist movements. In fact any means by which it can vanquish the threat of economic democracy—a model that would needlessly tax and encumber corporations in their efforts to advance the bottom line.

Our Bipolar Worldview

Blum then walks us through a litany of foreign policy issues, throwing aside the façade of official doublespeak and subterfuge, and revealing the honest face of American foreign policy—and it is almost never a pretty or admirable or defendable reality. Reading through the cases, a disturbing polarity emerges. On one hand, the Noble American, whose civilizing missions abroad are always necessary interventions, conditioned by a desire to ennoble benighted peoples. On the other, the Terrorist, a shockingly savage barbarian frothing with fundamentalist ire at the profligate and infidel freedoms of the West. The Terrorist would reduce the western hemisphere to dust, given the chance. Hence the forward positions of our military—purely a defensive measure against a foe with whom negotiation is a fool’s errand.

According to received orthodoxy, U.S. foreign policy is at best an almost messianic force for global good, and at worst capable of blundering mistakes that misread the cultural character of the developing world. Note here the preclusion of even the capacity for immoral behavior. Misguided, yes. Unethical, never. Think of Barack Obama’s oft-cited claim that the Iraq war was the “wrong” war, a “dumb” war, and poorly managed. Not once in his 2008 campaign, or prior to it, did our future president even hint that the Iraq war was deeply immoral. If it wasn’t, it follows that none of the war’s prosecutors should themselves be prosecuted for war crimes. Hence Obama’s swift decision to “look forward” and permit criminals like George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld to stroll leisurely into the history books. It likewise follows that violations of our civil liberties can be effected with a clean conscience, since the government means only to protect its citizenry. What this perspective requires of the average citizen is the unstinting faith of childhood, an increasingly risible notion in the age of Wikileaks.

At the far polarity of the moral spectrum is the terrorist. Those we dislike—redistributive Marxists, agrarian reformers, big-government socialists, anti-totalitarians—are cavalierly labeled terrorists by our government, thanks to the magical euphemism of “material support.” Simply add a heavy dose of fearmongering and the general consent is induced. Thus, your freedom fighter becomes my insurgent. My indigenous resistance becomes your Maoist army. The terrorist is characterized as a moral degenerate, impossible to understand because fundamentally depraved—unlike us. As exemplified by state rhetoric, the terrorists always strike first. History begins with a car bomb and ends with a humanitarian intervention.

Blum exposes this perverted reading of history in scenario after scenario: Iraq and Iran; the Bush White House; the demonization of Wikileaks; the catastrophes of the former Yugoslavia; the bombing of Libya and the support of state terror in Latin America. In a chapter on the Cold War, Blum revises what is perhaps the 20th Century’s most serviceable fable by making the startling claim that the Cold War was not a back-channel battle between capitalism and communism, but was rather an American effort to crush populism in the Third World. Even the establishment has sometimes conceded this claim. No less than influential Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington, said in a recorded private conversation in 1981, “You may have to sell intervention or other military action in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you’re fighting. That’s what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman doctrine.”

Necessary Illusions

There are plenty of forays into related terrain, including social ideology, environmentalism, the contradictions of capitalism, the effectiveness of government, religion, dissent, the mainstream media’s proclivity for deceit through omission. The chapter on media is smartly followed by a takedown of Barack Obama, who Blum’s strips of his public-relations façade as a progressive reformer. The president is revealed as a rhetorically vacuous warmonger, an ally of big finance, and a committed imperialist. To underscore the power of rhetoric to cloak not only venality but villainy, Blum closes the chapter with a stunning passage from a speech by Adolf Hitler in 1935, which sounds a chorus of pacifist platitudes and internationalism that might have been mouthed by any neoliberal elect in any developed economy. Among other statements of perfect liberal pragmatism, Hitler states:

Our love of peace perhaps is greater than in the case of others, for we have suffered most from war…The German Reich…has no other wish except to live on terms of peace and friendship with all the neighboring states. Germany has nothing to gain from a European war. What we want is liberty and independence.

Blum is a perfect portrait of candor when contending with rabid patriots and reflexive nationalists. When asked by one if he loves America, he bluntly replies, “No, I don’t love any country. I’m a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits.” This characteristic and unadorned honesty shimmers throughout the book. On page after page, Blum translates the complexities of doublespeak into layman’s language, unpacking the malevolent aims of American militarism.

Outflanking Big Brother

As with most left screeds and polemics, there comes a final chapter in which much of the force and momentum of the preceding text is lost, and when the elephantine question is finally voiced, “So what do we do about it?” Fortunately, Blum’s answers are as simple and sensible as the rest of his work. For the author, the “sine qua non” for any real political change is clear: the removal of money from politics. To summon the kind of political pressure required to force such a systemic overhaul, we need an educated populace. Blum notes that the best we can do is educate ourselves on the imperial project. By unmasking the subtle and not-so-subtle deceits of state-sanctioned media, we can inform ourselves and others until we reach a critical mass of dissent, at which point change might be effected.

In a late chapter on resistance, Blum offers a measure of hope from a report from the Defense Science Board, a Federal outfit created to give independent advice to the Secretary of Defense. In 2004, the group critiqued global Muslim attitudes toward America. After debunking the myth of the Middle East’s irrational hatred of American freedoms, the report came to this lapidary conclusion: “No public relations campaign can save America from flawed policies.”

True enough abroad, but you would have to be asleep to miss the effectiveness of public relations on public opinion in the United States. We are presided over by the P.R. President, by whose invisible hand our reality is sanitized of its sanguinary character. We find ourselves seduced by the soothing platitudes of state-sanctioned media—putting people first, compassionate conservatism, change we can believe in, Camelot, a shining city on a hill, morning in America. Gustave Le Bon, a pioneer of mass psychology, once noted that the masses are especially susceptible to comforting fantasies, and that, “Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”

Blum cites some illusion-shattering work of the sixties counterculture, notably activist and musician Gil Scott-Heron, whose song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, warns America that a revolution is coming. Scott-Heron sings that people, in Blum’s paraphrase, “would no longer be able to live their normal daily life,” and—more incisively—that they, “should no longer want to live their normal daily life.” But in today’s tranquilized social climate, this last line feels at once terrifically apposite and sadly naïve. How many of us simply want to leave work, repair to our couch, sufficient alcoholic sedatives at hand, televisual narcotics coloring the living room, and slip into a state of unthinking reprieve? Creature comforts may be the opiate of the American people. Deflating this bubble of banalities, via the expanding tools of information, seems to be viable way forward.

And so long as lonely prophets like Blum soldier on, a handful of excavated truths may threaten to capsize the artfully constructed narrative of empire. A note of injustice may sound in the thought stream of a blandly acquiescent middle manager or tongue-clipped service worker. Mao Zedong once intoned, “A single spark can start a prairie fire.” Without that tremulous hope, the fact that Blum’s central premise of malign intent has been proved right so often is of little consolation. A Cassandra acquitted is little more than a salve to the ego of the gadfly. But given the damage done to democracy and its prospects here and abroad, which of us can safely say that this is not his fight?

 Jason Hirthler is a writer, strategist, and 15-year veteran of the corporate communications industry. He lives and works in New York City. He can be reached at



A new breakthrough at the UN Commission for Human Rights:

UN demands US leaders be charged with War Crimes over Torture

After eight years of stonewalling and resistance by US and UK authorities, the UN special investigator addressed the world body’s Human Rights Commission publicly, demanding the two nations cooperate with the investigation.


Ben Emmerson, the lead special investigator, described to the gathered UN dignitaries a setting of self-approved legal immunity among US and UK national leaders. He called the two governments’ standing policy, “A policy of de facto immunity for public officials who engaged in acts of torture, rendition and secret detention, and their superiors and political masters who authorized these acts.”

This is one for the Quotables page:

“Platitudinous repetition of statements affirming opposition to torture ring hollow to many in those parts of the Middle East and North Africa that have undergone, or are undergoing, major upheaval, since they have first-hand experience of living under repressive regimes that used torture in private whilst making similar statements in public.”

Emmerson directly calls out Barack Obama:

“The skepticism of these communities can only be reinforced if Western governments continue to demonstrate resolute indifference to the crimes committed by their predecessor administrations.”



This is outstanding real history that will never be taught in schools. Iran Contra Scandal investigated. The drug connection exposed. The lies demolished. The Iran Hostage fiasco: George HW Bush’s deal to keep the Iranian held US hostages imprisoned until Reagan was installed in power. The film names names and gets the sources. Crucial US history:

COVER UP: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair


One of the most powerful segments of radio you will ever hear in your life:

MP3 – The Man Who Stopped the My Lai Massacre

No big Hollywood movie has been made about one of the most defining moments of the Vietnam War, the My Lai massacre.  Helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson was the man who represented the United States of America that day, as barbaric monsters executed babies, children, women, the elderly, in a genocidal rampage that killed over 500 defenseless villagers.

Book also available on Amazon:


Credit to Jon Wiener of KPFK (website) for going back to the archives and reposting this historically crucial interview.

MP3 Mirror Site



It’s not how much Americans are taxed, it’s the extremely rich and corporations weasel out of paying their share.  The rich do it in a number of ways including hiding it in off shore accounts, being paid their “income” as a capital gain instead in order to get the lower rate, hiding funds in various shelters unavailable to the rest of us, etc.

Some tax reality:


Iran, Politics, and Film: “Argo” or “A Separation”?

by Jennifer Epps

On the spectrum of recent U.S. films about intense life-and-death conflicts between Persians and “our guys’, the most propagandistic, militaristic, and reactionary position is occupied by the reprehensible live-action cartoon 300. You could call this the “Kill Them All” position. On the opposite end of that spectrum, the most humanistic, egalitarian, and psychologically insightful position is occupied by the exquisite drama The House of Sand and Fog — a chamber piece that shows how misunderstandings can spiral tragically out of control. You might call this the “Human Decency” position.

Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes lies the new movie Argo,  directed by Ben Affleck for Smokehouse Pictures, the production company owned by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Argo  is about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, and how the CIA came up with an unlikely rescue plan for six of the Americans hiding outside of the embassy: they would pretend to make a sci-fi movie. The premise has enormous potential, and it’s easy to see why it would be attractive to Hollywood. Unfortunately, the finished product is nowhere near the “Human Decency” end of the spectrum. I think its liberal makers would be surprised and actually ashamed if they realized how much more it leans towards 300.

There is no doubt that Argo is a very ambitious film. It wants to be life-and-death serious, funny, and exciting all at once, and to join historical accuracy with breathless pacing, jokey put-downs of Hollywood, and an absurdist scheme at the story’s core. As Affleck confided in an interview, it is also ambitious in its delicate tonal balance. It aims to be a taut suspense thriller that also provides some history of the strained relations between the U.S. and Iran, and it tries to re-create the 1970’s vibe without being too cheesy or campy. All the while, of course, it is designed to be commercial, with a budget of $44 million — the L.A.Times  alleges that this makes it “one of the season’s more daring gambles, the kind of movie most studios stopped making in the last decade.”

At the same time, it seems to want to leave us with the takeaway that even in a nightmarish scenario, bitter differences can be resolved without bombing anyone. (At the premiere, the audience applauded President Carter’s voiceover explaining that in the end we got all the hostages out, and we did it peacefully). The movie does show that deciding against a bloodbath can take courage and foresight. And perhaps this is what Affleck, Clooney, and Heslov believe made the movie the right thing to do right now — even at the risk of stoking the fires of warmongers here at home in 2012, by raising the spectre of Americans imperiled by Iran.

Well, it achieves all those goals in spades, and I applaud its ambitions and its aplomb. But I wish it was considerably more ambitious.

Argo catapults between, as Affleck put it to the L.A. Times, “three different themes and three different worlds: the CIA, Hollywood, and the Iran tensions.” Affleck’s quote is informative: the third theme or world that he organized the film around was “Iran tensions’, not Iran itself. Not even the Iranian revolution. The subject is the threat to Americans. Argo is about the plight of 6 Americans hiding out in Tehran after the embassy is seized, and it cuts away only to strategic debates at CIA headquarters as agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) struggles against bureaucratic inertia, or to comic relief scenes in Hollywood between John Goodman and Alan Arkin. No matter where our wheels touch down, it’s Americans who matter. This is a movie that views Iran in the 1970s from the living-room where the 6 are hiding — and the blinds are closed.

The cover story being used to try to smuggle the 6 hideaways out of Tehran is that they are location-scouting for a movie, so the day before they are to escape, they go out in public to make their aliases more believable. Do we, on the pretend location scout, finally see some of Tehran’s cultural landmarks? Do we get a sense of an ancient civilization and a sophisticated culture? Do we have any panoramas of people going about their business in the complexity of a metropolitan city? No, because the Americans’ expedition is just as claustrophobic as the scenes in their lair — Affleck crowds them into a van, squeezes the van in a vice as they are swarmed by furious protesters, and then jostles them around in a packed bazaar that turns hostile. Of course, he’s doing this deliberately for the tension it creates in them and in us. But throughout the film, the Iran we see in the news clips and the Iran we see dramatized are all on the same superficial level: incomprehensible, out-of-control hordes with nary an individual or rational thought expressed.

After a brief (albeit important) animated storyboard introduction that contextualizes the events of 1979 with some history, it is the storming of the American embassy which begins both the film proper and our exposure to the Iranian revolution. You wouldn’t know from this film that, despite years of persecution during Iran’s westernized government, the communist Tudeh Party was also out organizing workers’ strikes during the turmoil of the Shah Pahlavi’s overthrow. The movie does stress that the U.S. helped overthrow the democratically-elected prime minister Mohammad Mossaddeq in 1953 because he dared to nationalize Iran’s oil, and then backed the Shah and his use of the notorious SAVAK secret police to kidnap and torture the Shah’s opponents. These are obviously excellent points to make. But Argo glosses over the diversity of opinion in Iran and the intellectual ferment before the theocratic lockdown, making the culture look exactly the way an insular American public has come to believe all Islamic countries look. The film offers only scant insight into how  the Islamists came to win over a country that had previously been quite secular and sophisticated.

Very, very few Iranian characters are individualized in Argo, and most of the time when we see Iranians on-screen, their words are not translated for us. Take Farshad Farahat’s character. He is an officer in the Revolutionary Guards, one of the final terrifying obstacles the escaping protagonists must face at the airport. Farahat tries not to play stupid or cartoonish like so many ethnic villains in Hollywood movies, but most of the little he has been given to say is un-translated, so Farahat has to do almost all of the work with his eyes. The movie apparently never intended much more for him: his character’s name is merely “Azzizi Checkpoint #3”.

Another Persian, Reza (Omid Abtahi), makes an appearance in the marketplace in Tehran. His defining characteristic is whether the Americans can trust him. When he is friendly, his words are translated. When an altercation breaks out, there are no subtitles.

And even the point of the jokey snippet of dialogue that is translated seems to be to mock his idea of a Hollywood movie even more than Argo sends up the fake sci-fi B-movie. This dialogue emphasizes his cultural Other-ness, making him sound as sexist and out-of-touch as a Sacha Baron Cohen creation.

Nowhere, in a caper that exists in part to celebrate movie magic, is it mentioned that Iran has its own cinematic tradition — though if the Argo  creative team had ever seen the award-winning 1992 tribute film Once Upon a Time, Cinema  they would have seen clips from old Iranian movies dating all the way back to the silent era. By the time Argo is set, a number of Iranian film festivals had been in existence several years, including the Tehran International Film Festival ‘to promote the art of Cinema that expresses humanitarian values and promotes understanding and exchange of ideas between nations’. And there were already several film and television schools in Iran, including a decade-old  government-financed School of Television and Cinema which students attended for free. 480 feature films were made in Iran between 1966 and 1973; filmmakers, like other Iranian artists and intellectuals, had plenty to call attention to under the Shah’s oppressive regime. In fact, the Iranian New Wave, which launched in 1969, should have been known to Argo ‘s Foreign Service professionals who had spent their leisure time in Tehran; with filmmakers as respected as Dariush Mehrjui and Abbas Kiarostami already active. By the late seventies, movies were already the key form of mass entertainment in the country. Yet Affleck has the Revolutionary Guards gawking and giggling over the storyboards and poster for the fake Hollywood movie like awe-struck children.