Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan's Justice for All Iranians Blog

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq: The Peril of Paradox in American Middle East Policy by Mark Dankof

In the name of my Father:

Mark Dankof’s news commentary today for Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan’s Justice for All Iranians Blog reminds the readers of the murders and acts of wanton terrorism committed by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) in Iran in the 1970s, and the role the MEK played in overthrowing Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.  The MEK has blood on its hands in what it has wrought in Iran since the 1960s, and is among those responsible for the death of my beloved father, General Ali Neshat, last commander of the Shah’s Imperial Guard.  We shall never forget.

Payendeh Iran,

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan and Janbakhtegan

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq:  The Peril of Paradox in American Middle East Policy

by Mark Dankof


     One thing is abundantly clear about American policy in the Middle East–it is based on a series of paradoxical, internally contradictory goals and alliances which typically end in tragic results for friend and foe alike.

     Nowhere is this conundrum clearer than in the present U. S. quandary over the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Holy Warriors, as chronicled by Ed Blanche, Beirut correspondent for The Middle East, in that publication’s June 2009 issue.

     As Blanche capably summarizes what is known of the MEK, the organization was formed in Iran in 1965 by leftist students, subsequently adopting a “bizarre ideology that embraced both Islam and Marxism.”   The ideology soon became linked to urban revolutionary guerrilla violence.  In the final years of Pahlavi Iran, the MEK conducted a series of attacks and assassinations on American military and diplomatic personnel, as it sought the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.  

         The MEK joined forces with Khomeini’s revolutionaries in this ultimately successful effort, only to be expelled by the IRI regime itself in Tehran once its usefulness had expired after the Shah’s departure.  The MEK began to conduct guerrilla operations against the Mullahs as they had against the monarchy previously, with considerable success.  But the Mullahs applied a level of retaliatory force the “Islamic-Marxists” could not endure.  They fled to France, and later joined forces with Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980-1988 war between the Gulf rivals.

     The shifting paradoxes would continue, as the MEK established a headquarters at Camp Ashraf in Iraq, largely under American and Israeli protection.  The one-time adversaries of both Persian monarchy and its American military and intelligence allies, had now become a tool of the United States and the Europeans against the Islamic theocratic regime they helped to usher in 3 decades ago.

     And the ultimate paradoxes are these:  First, Mr. Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom has resulted in the installation of a central government in Baghdad largely sympathetic to the IRI regime in Tehran, and with identical animosity to the MEK’s presence within its borders.  Second, while Ed Blanche notes that it “was the MEK that disclosed the existence of Iran’s nuclear program in August 2002, stunning the U. S. intelligence and military establishments,” he fails to note credible information provided by Barry O’Connell and IPS’s Gareth Porter that the MEK’s role in “disclosing the existence of Iran’s nuclear program,” has been to serve as a clandestine conduit of information on the subject supplied by the Israeli intelligence communityHello, Mossad, meet your new allies in the “Islamic-Marxist” network worldwide.

     There you have it.  The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Holy Warriors, is an “Islamic-Marxist” terror organization, which assisted in implementing the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; was subsequently involved in guerrilla warfare operations against the very Iranian Mullahs they helped to bring to power; fought on the side of Saddam Hussein for 8 years in the Iran-Iraq war between 1980-1988; and now, according to Barry O’Connell and Gareth Porter, is working with Jewish neo-conservatives and Israeli intelligence in planting false “intelligence” on Iran’s nuclear program with the American National Security State and Western news media, itching for a confrontation between Tehran and Tel Aviv—even as it now possesses an adversarial role with the very regime in Baghdad installed by Mr. Bush’s War.  Confused?

     You should be.  The global international establishment can’t figure out what its position on the MEK is supposed to be, either.  Hence, according to Blanche, Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate is trying to find the organization a new place to live; the U. S. State Department continues to maintain a place for the MEK on its terrorism blacklist, as does the European Union; American and Jewish neo-conservatives in the defense and intelligence communities of the United States advocate an alliance with the MEK against Tehran; even as Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled in May of 2008 that the MEK “should not be deemed a terrorist organization.”

     Oh, yes.  One other thing.  Even as Israeli intelligence and the Pentagon pursue an anti-Tehran alliance with the MEK, Tehran, according to Blanche, offered the United States in December of 2003 several senior Al Qaeda operatives in exchange for MEK commanders under U. S. control at Camp Ashraf.  The U. S. could have had Saif Al Adel and Mahfouz Ould Walid (Abu Hafs the Mauritanian), even as it avenged the deaths of murdered American personnel from the days of Pahlavi Iran in the 1970s.

     Why was there no deal?

     Better ask the Mossad, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Kenneth R. Timmerman, and the Project for the New American Century crowd.

     Isn’t paradox wonderful?


Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan’s Justice for All Iranians Blog: Fareed Zakaria over Mohammed Marandi by First Round Knockout
July 29, 2009, 15:40
Filed under: News Commentary

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan with H. I. M Reza Pahlavi

In the Name of My Father:

     Fareed Zakaria of CNN is to be credited with a legitimate journalistic strip-searching and pistol whipping of IRI-mouthpiece Dr. Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University. One can access the televised encounter by clicking here.

     Marandi’s role as Propaganda Minister of the Mullah Regime is a most transparent one.  Zakaria’s refusal to buy the Tehran University professor’s act is to the credit of the former, even as crowds on the streets of Iranian cities and expatriate protests around the globe demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Mullahs’ days are numbered.

     Let me be absolutely clear–there is no candidate, and no proposed “reforms” that can hide the fact that Islamic theocracy and the velayat-e-faqeh doctrine upon which it rests, are comprehensively doomed.  Mullah preemption of popular will and political expression cannot continue in a country of 70 million people where over half the nation is under the age of 30, living in an Internet age where global communication and free exchange of ideas work to undermine archaic notions that a small cadre of turban-clad men in mosques, will be allowed to continue dictating their ideas of policy and life-style to an informed, educated electorate.

     What will finish these self-appointed spokesmen of God? 

      Time.  Iranian expatriates and the West must refrain from the temptation to employ military preemption against the IRI regime, which would play into the Mullahs’ hands.  A policy of continued adherence to a policy of economic and political isolation of the regime, the deliberate exposure of the Iranian people to notions of economic and political autonomy apart from theocratic control, and the provision of historical education to Iran’s young people of their glorious 2,500 year old Monarchial past, will seal the fate of the criminal cabal running the country since 1979.

     The desertion of the military will be the final death-blow to the Mullahs.  An entirely new generation of Unsung Heroes of the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces will arise to reclaim their Nation from the clutches of Islamic theocracy.

     Imagine an Iran of Constitutional Monarchy, free elections, autonomy, economic growth, and cordial international relations with the diverse nations of an increasingly small planet Earth.

     There will be rejoicing in the streets of the cities.  Dr. Mohammed Marandi and his pals will be permanently and simultaneously disemployed.

     It’s easy if you try.

Payendeh Iran,

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan

The CIA and Iran: What Really Happened? Ardeshir Zahedi for Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan’s Justice for All Iranians Blog
July 29, 2009, 14:29
Filed under: News Commentary | Tags: , , , , , ,

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan with H. I. M. Reza Pahlavi
In the Name of My Father:
I observe that there is still much misinformation on what happened in 1953 surrounding Dr. Mohammed Mosaddeq.  With this in mind, I point my readers today to what has been written by my good friend, the Honorable Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi, in the New York Times of Monday, May 22nd, 2000.  For those of you who can read PDF files, Ambassador Zahedi’s comments may be accessed here.

Payendeh Iran,

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan and Janbakhtegan


Colonel Karl E. Dankof: Shah’s IIAF Logistician Dead at 89
July 26, 2009, 08:56
Filed under: Human Interest | Tags: , , , , ,



San Antonio, Texas (U. S. A.)/May 20th, 2009


     Colonel Karl E. Dankof (USAF-ret.), a director of logistics for Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) from 1973-1978 as an employee of the Lockheed Corporation, has died in San Antonio, Texas on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009.  He was 89 years old.  The cause was kidney failure.
     Colonel Dankof was born on March 3, 1920, in Hamburg, Iowa, one of six sons born to a struggling German-American farming family which endured the hardships of the American Depression throughout the 1930s.  He would prove to be the only child in the family who would graduate from high school because of the severity of the times.  After graduation from Hamburg High School in 1938, he accepted a football scholarship from the University of Omaha in Nebraska.  In June of 1941 he was offered a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL), but elected to defer this opportunity until his scheduled graduation from college in 1942.  He would marry his high school sweetheart, Vera, in June of 1941, a marriage of 68 years duration.
     The opportunity to play professional football was derailed forever by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The following day, Colonel Dankof enlisted in the Army Air Corps at its recruiting station in Omaha.  He would subsequently serve in the Army Air Corps and its successor service, the United States Air Force, for 32 years of active duty service.  (He managed to finish his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Omaha after the war’s end, in 1952.) 
     Graduation from Officers’ Candidate School occurred in January of 1944, where he remained for a short time as a tactical officer and supply instructor.  He was then transferred to the Miami Air Depot where he was assigned to the Supply Division.  In 1946, Colonel Dankof was reassigned to the Erding Air Depot outside Munich, Germany, where in 1947 and 1948, he served both as Head Coach and starting offensive and defensive end for the Erding Arrowhead football team.  In a fund-raising game for the post-Hitler German Youth Corps, the Arrowheads played to a capacity crowd in Munich of 65,000 people, in what was believed to be a then record for attendance at an American football game on German soil.
     In 1950, Colonel Dankof was transferred to the Air Proving Ground Command; in 1953, to the Mission for Aid to Turkey in Ankara; in 1955 to the Air Force Advanced Management Course at Indiana University, where he earned a Masters Degree in Military Science and Business Administration; in 1956 to Headquarters, United States Air Force in Washington, D. C., followed by assignment in 1960 to the 1155th Technical Operations Squadron at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento for 3 years.  During the Sacramento years, Colonel Dankof founded the Center Joint Little League in North Highlands, California in 1960-1961.  As the League’s founder and first president, his efforts included the recruitment and supervision of volunteer work crews, and the contribution of his own physical labor, in the building of the baseball parks, backstops, and dugouts which remain in use to this day.
     In 1963, Colonel Dankof was assigned for a year to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, graduating in 1964.  His thesis pertained to the Alliance for Progress program for Latin America.  From 1964-1967, he was stationed at Wheeler Air Force Base, Hawaii, with the 1156th Technical Operations Squadron.  From 1967-1971, he served at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, followed by a stint from August 1971 to April of 1973 as the Air Force Logistics Command’s (AFLC) Liaison to Southeast Asia, in logistical support of the American air war over North Vietnam.
     Most of Colonel Dankof’s Air Force career involved two commands, the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC); and the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), which utilized the U-2 spyplane at the height of the Cold War to assist the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in monitoring the missile sites and nuclear tests of the former Soviet Union.  He was once chosen as the personal aide to General Curtis E. LeMay, founder of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), and Chief of Staff of the Air Force under President John F. Kennedy, for a command staff conference.
     After retirement from the United States Air Force in April of 1973, work began with the Lockheed Corporation as a logistical director for Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF), based at Ghasre Firouzeh Air Depot with secondary responsibilities at Doshentappeh Air Depot.  After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Colonel Dankof spent several years with the Lockheed Corporation in Marietta, Georgia, and then 4 final years with the aerospace giant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a logistical advisor to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
     Prior to the health decline of more recent times, the Colonel spent his final years as a volunteer for the Randolph Air Force Base pharmacy, and a volunteer driver of cancer patients in San Antonio to chemotherapy treatments, where illness and lack of funds deprived the latter of private transportation to and from home.  Membership was maintained in American Legion Post 612, Windcrest, Texas.
     Colonel Karl E. Dankof is survived by his wife of 68 years, Vera, an artist in San Antonio, Texas; two sons, Steven, an attorney in Dayton, Ohio, and Mark, a Lutheran clergyman at Immanuel Lutheran Church  in San Antonio and radio broadcaster for the Republic Broadcasting Network; two daughters-in-law, Nancy and Carmen; four grandchildren, Elizabeth and spouse Virgil Welch, Steven Jr. and new bride Danielle Rachel Baron, Sarah, and Ann; one great-grandchild, Henry Welch; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Slim and Carolyn Zanker of Hamburg, Iowa, and their sons Charles, John, and James; and many nieces and nephews in the Dankof clan in the Midwest, along with one sister-in-law, Ruth Dankof of Hamburg, Iowa.  This latter group will be specially represented at Colonel Dankof’s services in Texas by Mr. Lowell Dankof of Omaha, Nebraska.
     Full military honors are scheduled at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, immediately following a memorial service at Randolph Air Force Base Chapel One on June 5th, 2009; final interment is scheduled thereafter at Arlington National Cemetery in the Nation’s Capitol.
     Memorials in the name of Colonel Karl E. Dankof may be sent to the General and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation, established to assist needy widows of both officers and enlisted personnel in the United States Air Force; the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, a translation ministry designed to spread the Christian Gospel around the world through translation of the Bible and Martin Luther’s works into a multitude of different languages; the special charitable funds of the National Kidney Foundation; or the ministry of Odyssey House hospice home in San Antonio, Texas at 4440 S Piedras Drive, Suite 125, San Antonio, Texas 78228.

About Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan
July 23, 2009, 19:00
Filed under: About

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan and Janbakhtegan is a Los Angeles-based Iranian human rights activist and news commentator.  She is the daughter of the late General Ali Neshat, the last commander of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s Imperial Guard, who was executed by the Islamic regime in Iran on April 10, 1979.  Ms. Neshat heads up the annual memorial in Los Angeles for the Unsung Heroes of the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces, and occasionally appears on Ariamehr TV  in Los Angeles.

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan on July 23rd: Will the LA Metropolitan Transit Authority Make Siemens Pay Through the Nose?

Will the LA Metropolitan Transit Authority Make Siemens Pay Through the Nose?

by Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan 

In the name of my Father on July 23, 2009:

The Siemens Corporation, as is now known throughout the world, did approximately $619 million in business with the Islamic Republic regime in Iran last year.  Even more to the point, it sold technological equipment to the Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad cabal in Tehran to conduct massive surveillance operations against Iranian citizens, which includes assisting the Jackbooted Mullahs in their imposition of the violent crackdowns around the country since the June 12th elections.

Today, July 23rd, 2009, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will determine the fate of Siemens’s candidacy for a 100 rail car, $300 million contract for the Los Angeles subway system.

The world is watching the MTA today.  The worldwide Iranian expatriate community is watching as well.  So are millions of oppressed people in Iran itself, languishing under the rule of one of the most oppressive, blood-stained regimes on the planet.

If, as Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) suggests, health care reform may become the “Waterloo” of President Barack Obama’s White House tenure, let the denial of an MTA contract in Los Angeles to Siemens become the German multinational’s own “Waterloo.”   The denial of business in Europe and America to those in league with the Islamic Regime in Tehran, is the key to bringing an end to the Mullahs’ 30 year tenure of terror in my homeland, and the key to bringing to international accountability the forces behind the murder of my father, General Ali Neshat, on April 10, 1979.

Let there be no mistake.  The Mullahs are on their last legs.  The winds of change are blowing.  We who believe in freedom and human rights are the future of Iran.  They are soon to be consigned to the ashheap of history.

Along with their murderous friends–including the Siemens Corporation.

Payendeh Iran,

Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan

Mark Dankof: The American Right’s Rubber Ball Pops Up Again
July 21, 2009, 18:20
Filed under: Human Interest | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Dear friends:  You will see my Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan’s Justice for All Iranians commentary approximately once a week, coming from Los Angeles.  But I wanted to begin my new blog with a story of interest to both Iranians and Americans, our beloved friend Mark Dankof in San Antonio.  Enjoy!


Mark Dankof:  The American Right’s Rubber Ball Pops Up Again 

by Leila Fathi for Janbakhtegan

(Los Angeles/July 17th–Janbakhtegan)


     I will always remember my first trip to San Antonio, chiefly for the sights of the Alamo, the Tower of the Americas, and the Riverwalk.
     And not incidentally, for the assigned purpose of my just completed 3-day journalistic sojourn to the Alamo City from the City of the Angels:  to encounter The Rubber Ball of the American Right, Mark Dankof, and to gather his latest thoughts on our world and his.

     He picked me up at San Antonio International Airport on time and without a hitch, recognizing me immediately only on the basis of an electronically transmitted photo sent from Los Angeles the day before. Other than a slightly-receding hairline and a touch of gray on the sideburns, he looked exactly as he did in photographs taken of him by my parents 35 years ago, in their home in north Tehran.  The athletic build of three and a half decades previous had been kept reasonably well preserved. My first glimpse of him was a poignant time-warp.  I was not alive when his friendship with my late father and mother first crossed the national and cultural divide, a decade before I was even conceived. 
     Dankof was grudgingly tagged some years ago by the late Jack Kemp as The Rubber Ball of the American Right, for the simple reason that pressing down on him at any moment in time, in any place, always seemed to result in his popping up somewhere else, and usually when least expected by his adversaries.
     Kemp, as the erstwhile Pollyanna of the American neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan, was especially infuriated with The Rubber Ball when the latter was running as a Constitution Party insurgent in the U. S. Senate race in Delaware in 2000, with the specific goal of displacing Kemp’s old pal, William Roth, from the latter’s seat in the world’s most deliberative and prestigious legislative body.  Several late night phone calls that year from Kemp to Dankof’s apartment on the Delaware/Pennsylvania border, the content of which has yet to be publicly revealed, failed to dissuade the latter from keeping Mr. Roth in the Texas expatriate’s crosshairs.

      In the final analysis, it was Mark Dankof over Kemp-Roth, much to the amusement of the Northeast regional and Delaware State press corps at the time.  Despite being tagged by one Delaware State news daily as the “The Texas Gun Lobby’s Minister Plenipotentiary in the Delaware U. S. Senate race,” and with no money in either federal matching funds or private contributions, the former Seattle/King County 36th Legislative District Chairman of the Republican Party garnered the combined vote totals of the Reform and Constitution Party Presidential candidates for Delaware in 2000. 

     Even more importantly, his fabled talk-show host glibness and occasional acidity in forensic debate encounters (now showcased with the populist Republic Broadcasting Network outside of Austin),  skewered Roth repeatedly around The First State, as Dankof and eventual winner Thomas Carper made ongoing mutual hay over Mr. Roth’s repeated refusal to join any debate format where the Constitution Party insurgent was present. 
     “If I was to really toot my own horn,” the now 54 year old Lutheran pastor opined, “I’d have to say that the most important statistic of that race wasn’t the 1,041 votes I actually got in the election.  It was the 11 point swing in the polling service numbers in the last 10 days of the election, from Roth to Carper, where I had the real impact.  My radio debate appearances were credited with being a part of that.  I admit I’m proud of what I accomplished that year, ridding the American conservative movement of one of its biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the electorate. But then, there are so many more of them to be rid of.”
     Life has now changed considerably for Mark Dankof at the end of the 21st century’s first decade.  He returned to San Antonio in 2006 after a prolonged stint at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for post-graduate work, chiefly to get medical care for a seriously-ill wife, and to care for a dying father.  The latter, an American Air Force Colonel who once served as Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s director of logistics for the Imperial Iranian Air Force, passed away this May 20th.  His military honors funeral at Randolph Air Force Base was June 5th.
     As for The Rubber Ball of the American Right, his priorities have been refocused since his father’s death two months ago.  Aside from a once a week appearance on Mark Dankof’s America for the Republic Broadcasting Network, and a rare op-ed piece for brass-knuckled print outlets like the American Free Press and the Proud Political Junkie’s Gazette, public visibility as a political activist for the paleo-conservative, America First sector of the American political spectrum has noticeably waned. He has resumed his pulpit ministry calling with San Antonio’s Immanuel Lutheran Church, and is occasionally spotted in local hospitals visiting the sick, or in especially grim missions of calling on the U. S. Military’s wounded at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC).  His lips noticeably tighten; the jaw suddenly tenses, when these latter pastoral visitations are mentioned.
     The Rubber Ball succumbed to the temptation to editorialize on the impact of the wars:

     “I don’t talk about this stuff when visiting wounded kids or consoling families, but the Iraq-Afghanistan war of counterinsurgency in Central Asia illustrates how screwed up the American Right really is.  We’ve killed thousands of people, put our own kids in a couple of unwinnable wars under false pretenses, and are in the process of running up a tab of at least 3 trillion dollars for a debacle that has no perceivable end–and all for the Israeli lobby, the banks, and the energy consortiums, the very folks who own the American political process and its institutions.  The Founding Fathers wouldn’t recognize the place.  You can have Kemp, John Hagee, John McCain, and all the rest.  I’ll take Washington and Jefferson, thank you.”
     Driving around San Antonio for 3 straight days with him is a surreal experience, quite unlike any other in my brief career in political journalism.  In any given day, he pops up at Gold’s Gym in the wee hours for treadmill, weight machine, and swimming pool; spins by his own congregational office at Immanuel Lutheran Church in a changing neighborhood on the Alamo City’s Southside; responds to a sudden emergency hospital crisis involving virtually anyone in any part of town; checks up on his wife’s rehabilitation sessions through the University of Texas hospital system; descends upon several of the city’s major bookstore outlets to snap up his usual panoply of newspapers, magazines, and news journals for instant digestion; returns 10 phone calls made daily to his published cell phone number in any 3 hour segment of time; and diverts to Bracken Gun Range on the city’s Northside to join his network of gun enthusiasts in possession of the most amazing array of weaponry I have ever seen displayed in one place at one time.

     The gun range encounter brought me into contact for the first time with an American subculture unimaginable in my native Iran.  Dankof introduced me to some of the regular denizens who inhabit his area of the armed camp. Many were decked out in camouflage gear, hunting boots, cowboy hats, and shooting glasses.  They all knew him by first name, and gathered eagerly around his table to talk shop, and to learn the identity of his unusual female companion for the afternoon session of controlled gunfire. Logos from various military and gun organizations adorned their gym bags and rifle cases. Range tables were stocked with revolvers, semi-automatic handguns, high powered rifles with long-range optical scopes, shotguns, boxes of ammunition, headphones for hearing protection, and even infrared technology for night vision shooting.

     “My father taught me how to use a gun many years ago,” he explained.  “We never went hunting, only to the ranges for regular target practice.  He and I would compete with each other with the Model 1911 Colt .45 auto, and the Winchester Model 94 in .30-.30 [John Wayne’s lever action rifle in the Western movies].  It’s a fact that I never outshot him once.  When we lived in Iran decades ago, he was still beating me at racquetball, when I was 20 and he was 55.  I still feel his presence out here when I come to practice.”

     The conversation between volleys of piercing gun blasts turned naturally to The Rubber Ball’s younger days in my homeland.  “I really loved Iran,” he remembered with more than a trace of wistfulness.  “It was my plan to return there after college, to learn the language, and to travel as extensively within the country as possible.  The Revolution changed all of that in a heartbeat.”

     Topics Iranian would continue in my final night in San Antonio, at a steakhouse called Wildgrass.  The Pastor [known jokingly as “Father” by his circle of friends at Bracken Range] insisted on paying the bill. “You came here from Los Angeles to talk to me,” he cautioned.  “And your parents did more for me in Iran years ago than can ever be recounted.  One can’t return to the past in life, but I’m often taken back to those days when my mind wanders.  It was a different time, a different age, a different place.”

     This led me to the critical question I had been destined to ask Mark Dankof since arriving in the Alamo City.  As you see things now, what continues to give you meaning and to guide your destiny ?

     The Rubber Ball of the American Right paused.  He gathered his thoughts as he smiled, then engaged my question.

     “I’ve given up on changing the course of America through the electoral process,” he opines.  “I think the United States is in the final stages of its past role as a world empire.  I’ve largely shifted into regaining my focus and emphasis on the things of God, and things that edify me, as opposed to dwelling on things that are simply destructive.  You know how it is.”

What are those things?

     He paused once more.  “Other than prayer, Scripture reading, and helping people who need it, my goal is to finish my post-graduate thesis and theological German exam, to learn some Persian through the Pimsleur Language Program, and to complete 3 books in the next 2 months.”

The books in question?

The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History, by Dr. E. Michael Jones; Iran/Persia:  Ancient and Modern (Odyssey Books and Guides); and The Life and Times of the Shah by Gholam Reza Afkhami.”

Any parting advice to my readers?

     “Get your priorities straight.  Spend your time on things that matter.  Dump the things that don’t.  It’s that simple.”

Any prediction on what will, or should happen in Iran?

     “What will happen may prove entirely different from what should happen there.  Keeping in mind that virtually no one cares what I think on the subject, I’d say that the first step to recovery of that country would be the elimination of any form of Islamic theocracy, which is no better or worse, of course, than any other ill-fated theocratic scheme for government on planet Earth.  Second, the nation needs to return to some type of secular constitutional republic, in conjunction with a well defined return role for Persian monarchy, going back 2,500 years to King Cyrus and the ancient Zoroastrian idea of the divine farr.  Third, the country needs to maintain its autonomy and unity, avoid any descent into sectarian and regional tribalisms, and maintain an openness to commerce and trade with outside powers while keeping foreign interventionism and intrigue at bay.  That includes the American, British, and Israeli varieties, along with the Russian, Chinese, and Arab brands as well.”

Who do you consider the Persians that have stood out most as influences in your own life?

     “I consider your Shahbanou, Farah Pahlavi, the most dignified and effective female political role model and head of state in any country of the world, period.  I know of no American or European lady who quite matches her.  In the scholarly realm, I’d say Fatema Soudivar Farmanfarmian, Dr. Kaveh Farrokh [Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War], and Dilip Hiro have given me the most guidance on your country, as a non-specialist seeking to learn more.  And when it comes to political activism and human rights for Iran, Shirin Neshat of Sarbazan and Janbakhtegan is at the top of the list.  I say that for two reasons.  First, she has managed to survive for 30 years after losing both her father [General Ali Neshat, Commander of the Shah’s Immortals, the Imperial Guard] and her country at the same time.  Second, she harkens back to a time when people in activism were there because of ideas and ideals, not money and power.  If Iran is ever recovered in my lifetime, Ms. Neshat will have a place in the highest stratum of the pantheon of the giants that history will say had the greatest role to play in the most dramatic counter-revolution of all time.”

     I said farewell to The Rubber Ball of the American Right yesterday, July 16th, before transiting through airport security at San Antonio International for a return Southwest flight to Los Angeles.  Once through security, I glanced back.  He was still there, ready to wave goodbye before I disappeared through the mass of humanity bound for distant destinations through the arched, blue, cloudless firmament of the south Texas skies.

     Dozens of Iranian expatriates of the Pahlavi era still count him as their friend, even as he somehow seems a stranger and sojourner in his own land, in these days of a changing American political and cultural landscape. 

     I now understand why.