February 7, 2007, - 8:44 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Remember why our sanctions on Saddam’s Iraq never worked? It had something to do with loopholes for food, which turned into the infamous “Oil for Food” scandal. You don’t hurt an enemy when your “sanctions” have all sorts of loopholes for the very necessities that sustain that enemy.
That’s why it’s disturbing to note that both Pepsi and Coke (and all food vendors) are getting around the sanctions we have on Iran, through the “foodstuffs” loophole that the Bush Administration is allowing. Clinton started it, but Bush continues it, despite “Axis of Evil” language and impending Iranian nuclear capabilities. Because, as we all know, American cola is necessary for Iranians (who voted in droves for Ahmadinejad) to survive.
Fortune has the complete story, excerpts of which are below. I note that the Iranians have adopted a PEPSI/Jewish/Israel conspiracy theory from American members of the Nation of Islam. In the poorly-done documentary, “Protocols of Zion,” Black Muslims in New York are shown saying that PEPSI stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel” and that PEPSI gives five cents per bottle to Israel (NOT TRUE). (They’re also shown saying that Giuliani is a Jewish conspirator–”That’s why his name is ‘Jew-liani’,” they say on camera.)
The Fortune article demonstrates that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories travel fast among Muslims, and often begin here amidst our “moderate” Muslim community. The Iranians believe the PEPSI canard, and it’s why Coke is more popular (although there are the conspiracy theories that the Coca-Cola script spelled backwards means “No Mohammed, no Mecca“).
The article tries to portray the presence of Coke and Pepsi as some sort of moderating force in Iraq. But that’s never the case. It’s a myth that Western culture and technology stop extremism. They just enable it to spread its message more effectively. In Saudi Arabia, for example, where Baskin Robbins and Levi’s are popular, they love Baskin Robbins and Levi’s, but hate Baskin, Robbins, and Levi Strauss–all of whom are evil “Zionists”. Plenty of consumers of BR ice cream and wearers of Levi’s duds still declare “Death to America”:
Lunchtime in Tehran’s tony northern suburbs . . . .
The only visual clues that these lunching ladies aren’t dining at some smart New York City eatery but in the heart of Washington’s Axis of Evil are the expensive Hermes scarves covering their blond-tipped hair in deference to the mullahs. And the drink of choice? This being revolutionary Iran, where alcohol is banned, the women are making do with Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola? Isn’t corporate America prohibited by Washington’s sanctions from doing business in Iran? Yes, for the most part, says U.S. Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise. But Treasury has bent the rules for foodstuffs, a loophole through which American drinks giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been able to pour thousands of gallons of concentrate into Iran via Irish subsidiaries.
And that has allowed these brands, so much a symbol of America . . . to open another front in their global cola war. After just a few years back in Iran, Coke and Pepsi have grabbed about half the national soft drink sales in what is one of the Middle East’s biggest drinks market. . . .
Hardliners like Mehdi Minai, a senior official of the Public Demands Council, frequently appear on state TV to denounce Coke and Pepsi, which he says stands for “Pay each penny to save Israel.” . . .
Coke and Pepsi shrug off the hardliner rhetoric and insist they are aren’t breaking any laws – American or Iranian – by licensing products in Iran through their concentrate subsidiaries in Ireland.
Says Pepsi spokesman Dick Detwiler: “PepsiCo has no equity investment in Sasan or any other enterprise in Iran and has no relationship with the government of Iran. We sell in strict accordance with all applicable U.S. laws and restrictions.”
Coke spokesman Charles Sutlive echoes Pepsi’s line, adding that Coke, which also licenses Fanta, Sprite and Dasani water through Khoshgovar, has “no tangible assets in Iran.”
Don’t you just love how both Coke and Pepsi are whoring themselves out for the Iran market share, but can’t admit it to Fortune–using a shell game to hide it? If it’s your strategy to do business with Iran while it gets nuclear, then own up to it. If you won’t, you’re clearly admitting you know you’re wrong.
And clearly, Coke and Pepsi know they are helping the evil Iran in exchange for the almighty dollar.
Over here in Detroit, on 8 Mile Road, we call that prostitution. Even though what Coke and Pepsi are doing is legal, doesn’t make it right.
Sanctions. Shmanctions. What would Mean Joe Green would think about this? . . .
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