Death worship
April 25, 2006 10:07 PM   Subscribe

The Basiji of Iran.
posted by semmi (21 comments total)

 
What do you know, Semmi (and TNR) find another way to make Muslims look insane.
posted by cell divide at 10:23 PM on April 25, 2006


Satrapi talks about those keys in Persepolis. That war was so fucking brutal....



mefi/mefi is working fine as a login as of right now.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:35 PM on April 25, 2006


What do you know, Semmi (and TNR) find another way to make Muslims look insane.
posted by cell divide


Hm, seems a well reasoned article mentioning historical facts to me.
Maybe Khomeini et al. made muslims look insane?
posted by jouke at 11:03 PM on April 25, 2006


ERROR CORRECTION

A politics pursued in alliance with a supernatural force is necessarily unpredictable.Why should an American Iranian president engage in pragmatic politics when his assumption is that, in three or four years, the savior will appear? If the messiah is coming, why compromise? That is why, up to now, Bush Ahmadinejad has pursued confrontational policies with evident pleasure.

The history of the Neocons Basiji shows that we must expect monstrosities from the current American Iranian regime. Already, what began in the early '80s with the sponsorship of pinochet, contras and apocoalyptic religious right clearing of minefields by human detonators has spread throughout the Middle East.....
posted by lalochezia at 11:09 PM on April 25, 2006


Oh my god! Are we going to talk about American politics now? Awesome!
posted by mr_roboto at 11:16 PM on April 25, 2006


A politics pursued in alliance with a supernatural force is necessarily unpredictable.

Hint, hint.
posted by quite unimportant at 12:17 AM on April 26, 2006


What do you know, Semmi (and TNR) find another way to make Muslims look insane.

Please note that the article does not describe "muslims". Nor does it (as it is mentioned in the article) describe the majority of Iranians. It describes a group of thugs and (if you ask me) "insane" bastards and how they have used religion to send waves of poor and undereducated kids to their death during the Iran-Irag war.

The article suggests that these thugs are dangerous, which you may agree with or not. Pulling out the race/religion card is not always helpful.
posted by lenny70 at 12:37 AM on April 26, 2006


armed conflict often seems a struggle among lunatics, for who can reduce human life to the least worth.

This article has something in common with this work of Chris Hedges.
posted by eustatic at 12:41 AM on April 26, 2006


cell divide: Try not to be so knee-jerk. If you have specific criticisms of the article, do share them; it seems to me straightforward and accurate. I know a lot about Iran and its culture, and of course I don't want to see it reduced to "mad mullahs," but the fact is the mullahs are there, and they're scary, and they're running things. Would you prefer we closed our eyes and pretended all is well? Don't emulate the idiots who refused to hear anything evil of the Soviet Union in the '30s, claiming that accounts of purges, famines, and the Gulag were nothing but capitalist propaganda. Yes, Bush is bad. That doesn't mean Ahmedinejad is a fine fellow.
posted by languagehat at 5:45 AM on April 26, 2006


Wow... this article really jumps to conclusions, doesn't it?

It mischaracterizes the nature of the Basiji, for one. Essentially, it functions as a citizen's militia, and is trained on a semi-regular basis.

To suggest that they are all suicidal human wave attackers is naive. They made up 30% of Iran's army during the Iran-Iraq war, and most of its infantry, as pointed out in the article. What the article did not say, however, is that many of them were armed, or simply went into combat and grabbed whatever weapon they could get on the battlefield.

Which is worse, a country that's invaded (Iran, Russia, etc.) with limited access to modern weapons using both young and old in combat, often fighting with human wave attacks, or the country that invaded them, or, in the case of the US, that armed the invader (Iraq) and supplied them with chemical precursors and satellite intel for more effectively killing the human wave attackers in question?

It's not so clear cut, really.

It is worth pointing out that Iran no longer allows young soldiers to serve without their parent's approval. Likewise, it's good that they are all volunteers. Should kids fight? Probably not, if avoidable. Do they fight? Yes, most of the time, in most wars. But really, if our country was invaded and needed every soldier it could get, I would hope our youth would do the same.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:48 AM on April 26, 2006


mefi/mefi is working fine as a login as of right now.

Alternatively one can cut, paste and google the first sentence between quotes and find it registration-free at, among others, the fair use and Russophilic Ocnus.net:

Ahmadinejad's Demons
posted by y2karl at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2006


Thanks y2karl for the good pointer.

But really, if our country was invaded and needed every soldier it could get, I would hope our youth would do the same.
posted by insomnia_lj


Yeah, I can just see you rolling on a minefield.
posted by semmi at 9:53 AM on April 26, 2006


if our country was invaded and needed every soldier it could get, I would hope our youth would do the same.

Jesus.
posted by languagehat at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2006


Should kids fight? Probably not, if avoidable.

Probably?!

But really, if our country was invaded and needed every soldier it could get, I would hope our youth would do the same.

Ah, nothing brings tears of joy to my eyes like watching a twelve-year-old blown apart by a landmine in the name of my country. Really makes me feel proud, y'know? Like I'm fighting for something worth saving.
posted by schroedinger at 11:10 AM on April 26, 2006


But really, if our country was invaded and needed every soldier it could get, I would hope our youth would do the same.

Uh, not me.
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on April 26, 2006


Barely noticed by the Western media, this mobilization attests to Ahmadinejad's determination to impose his "second revolution" and to extinguish the few sparks of freedom in Iran.

Meh. It was a pretty good article up to that point.
posted by exhilaration at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2006


"Should kids fight? Probably not."

Probably?!


Yes, probably. Certainly, in the case of the very young (say 10-14). At the same time, my father served in the military when he was 16 during WWII. Lots of people's sons did. He wasn't pressured into doing so -- he chose to do so.

The history of US wars is filled with child soldiers - hundreds of thousands of them... or didn't you know this? Certainly US Senator Mike Mansfield did... he served in the navy when he was 14.

If respecting the rights of minors is so important to all of you, why is it that America seems to have no problem with military recruiters having special access in our schools, targetting 15, 16, and 17-year-old kids?

"But really, if our country was invaded and needed every soldier it could get, I would hope our youth would do the same.

Uh, not me."


Unless your options are defeat and a deadly, demoralizing occupation, it's really hard to say that.

I doubt that most of the Iranian Basiji who comprised the first wave of attacks wanted to catch a landmine. Most would probably prefer to get to where the enemy was and kill them dead. that said, they took the risk anyway, trying to clear a path through minefields for the next wave.

How this is really all that much different than a 14, 15, or 16-year-old going "over the top" in WWI, I don't know. In times of war, recruiters have traditionally turned a blind eye to minors who try to sign up.

You may want to check out "They Die Young", an excellent site on child soldiers during WWI.)

From that site:

After the Great War there have been many attempts to put this to an end, and finally, on 2nd September 1990, the 'United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child' came into force.

Article 38 states . . .

2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.

3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. . .


So, basically international law permits child soldiers, does it not?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:42 PM on April 26, 2006


Take a look at the Basiji as they are today. Not so young looking any more, are they?

And according to this report on the use of children as soldiers in the Middle East:

"The minimum age for voluntary recruitment appears to be 16."

It also points out that "according to a Rädda Barnen report, it is still possible for 16-year-olds to volunteer to serve with the Basij."

Keep in mind that these reports were written by people looking for child soldiers, and who arguably approached the issue with a certain bias. Clearly, the Basiji does have some mechanism in place to keep minors under 16 or so out of the ranks.

Seems legal to me, especially considering that 17-year-olds were allowed to serve in combat positions within the Israeli Defence Force until as recently as March 2001, and can still serve in their armed forces in non-frontline positions.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:12 PM on April 26, 2006


How this is really all that much different than a 14, 15, or 16-year-old going "over the top" in WWI, I don't know. In times of war, recruiters have traditionally turned a blind eye to minors who try to sign up.

Were these younger signups used in the same way the youngsters were used by the Iranians? Or were they a part of the regular Army?

It strikes me that your zeal to condone Iran's use of the young and also the older as human mine sweeps, is reprehensible.
posted by stirfry at 8:38 PM on April 26, 2006


"Were these younger signups used in the same way the youngsters were used by the Iranians? Or were they a part of the regular Army?"

Do such distinctions matter? Is it somehow more acceptable for a 15-year-old to die as a part of a country's regular army as opposed to being part of their militia? I'm sorry, but when you have an organization that comprises the majority of the infantry for a country, they are effectively under control of the government and taking orders from the army, whether they are a militia unit or not.

"It strikes me that your zeal to condone Iran's use of the young and also the older as human mine sweeps, is reprehensible."

Who said I condoned it? I certainly didn't. That said, I do *understand* it, in the same way that I understand minors serving in prior US wars. When your country is attacked, and the drums are beat loudly for war, then it's perhaps not surprising that thousands come forward to fight, even if they're minors.

My feeling is that the article is badly slanted. It talks about Khomeini sending "Iranian children, some as young as twelve years old, to the front lines." No mention of the militia members who were, say, 45, or that their average age was probably much higher than 12, with twelve-year-olds being the exception and not the rule. It goes considerably out of its way to paint a skewed, misleading picture of that conflict.

The article also said that most Basiji "were not yet 18". To me, that means that a very large percentage of them were of marrying/voting age and were also eligible to serve in the regular Iranian army! They served in the militia instead, and still were sent to war.

Do I believe in effectively drafting twelve, thirteen, or fourteen year olds? Of course not... even though similar acts were done in the US Revolutionary War. But hey, according to UN guidelines, fifteen is fair game today. Iran starts at 16, it appears. That's acceptable to me, if still a sad statement on the world we live in.

Iran is a much younger culture than the US. By the age of fifteen, Iranians can both vote *AND* get married. The average age of Iranians is only 24! Compare that to 36 in the US. This makes a difference, obviously, in the age of military volunteers that you're going to get.

Your statement that Iran's Basiji were "human mine sweeps" is pretty slanted, as it both underestimates the skill and tenacity of the Iranian soldiers of that time. Such statements are used today to to depict the Iranians as a barbaric culture. Sure, they went out on the battlefield with a good idea that they were going to die. That said, they also tried to stay alive, kill the enemy, and win battles... and were largely successful in kicking the Iraqi invaders out of their country and putting them on the defensive, despite Iraq's use of US-assisted killing zones.

Here are a few truer pictures of the Basiji during the Iran-Iraq war. Were there kids serving? Sure. But there were also others too. It was total war.

Why is it such a common trait of Americans to belittle and underestimate their enemies? That's what we did with the Vietnamese, and it's exactly what we're doing today with the Iraqis and Iranians. We express our ignorance at our own nation's peril.

The worst aspect of this this article is that it wasn't about what Kholmeni did at all, but about Ahmadinejad! One thing we can all agree upon -- Ahmadinejad is a hothead, whose incendiary words are exacerbating a bad situation. That said, is it really necessary to try to establish tenuous links to him and twelve-year-old soldiers from a war long since past in order to smear him further? The author is grasping at straws, frankly.

I know a young female computer science student in Tehran, and she's scared shitless about Ahmadinejad, because everytime the man opens his mouth, he brings their country that much closer to war. Still, she is also very upset with US policy towards Iran, and thinks its unfair. She's very westernized and technical, but I have no doubt as to whose side she'd be on if her country was attacked.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:03 PM on April 26, 2006


Oops. Got one of the photo links wrong for a Basiji soldier.

Reminds me of old WWII pictures of war-hardened US soldiers. Could be anyone's son, really.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2006


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