See this film and then say that bombing Iran is ok
Here's a story. Urban-dwelling middle-class couple, one bright school-age daughter. Nice apartment, good part of town. Husband and wife juggle the demands of their respective careers and the twice-daily school run with the obligations of extended family (the husband's Alzheimer's-afflicted father is living with them). But the marriage is unravelling.
She wants to relocate – abroad – he doesn't. She moves out, they hire a home-helper for the old man – a poor working-class woman from the sticks. Bad things happen and a tricky situation becomes despairingly awful for all concerned. And this compelling human tragedy of truth and lies and communication breakdown plays out where? North London? Paris? The Upper West Side of New York? Tel Aviv?
The fictional action I'm describing is the plot of A Separation, the remarkable film that won the Oscar on Sunday in the Best Foreign Language category. Its setting is Tehran.
The big question prompted by the award – the first ever Oscar for an Iranian film – is this: could the box-office succeed where sanctions have failed? Could Oscars diplomacy deliver us from the military confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme that Israel seems to want and which the British Government has joined in threatening?
An attack on Iran would be an act of criminal stupidity
The former US embassy in Tehran. Iran is threatened because of a future potential aggressor states have turned into reality. Photograph: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters
War talk about Iran and its nuclear programme has been going on for so long it might be tempting to dismiss it as bluster. The mixed messages about Iran coming from the US and Israeli governments in recent weeks have become increasingly contradictory and bewildering. Maybe it's all a game of bluff and psychological warfare. Perhaps Iran's offer of new talks or this week's atomic energy inspectors' visit might lead to a breakthrough.
But the mood music has become more menacing. US defence secretary Leon Panetta has let it be known there is a "strong likelihood" Israel will attack Iran between April and June, even as Barack Obama says no Israeli decision has yet been taken. US officials told the Guardian last week they believed the administration would be left with "no alternative" but to attack Iran or watch Israel do so later this year.