Wednesday, February 19, 2014

HuffPost Blogger: Iran's Revolution Was "Democratic"

Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first President of Iran, is a very prestigious guy. Unfortunately his article in the Huffington Post blogosphere, though critical of the Iranian regime, is still rather disingenuous. It's also a bit long so I will only hit the highlights. I should also add that it failed to convince even the generally pro-Iran and anti-USA readership of the Huffington Post. He claims that the Iranian revolution was always peaceful and that the first election was fair and free, which I find somewhat difficult to believe, and then says:
"But then the "coup within the revolution" that followed the overthrow of my presidency left a bloody legacy of intolerance and repression. The roots of the political violence across much of the Islamic world today -- in which different religious based groups vie for control of the state in order to impose their beliefs -- can be traced to this second act of the Iranian revolution. Ayatollah Khomeini was the first figure in modern times to sanctify and glorify violence in the name of Islam."
Wow, this is pretty unusual for a Huffington Post blogger. Blaming violence in the Middle East on the people who are actually carrying it out. Bani-Sadr then points out that Khomeini's decision to put in "hanging judges" led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people, not to mention an additional bad decision to prolong the Iran-Iraq War. Bani-Sadr then says that during the revolution Khomeini said all the right things: that he wanted freedom, democracy, human rights, blah blah blah. I'm curious how Bani-Sadr, who was very much part of the revolution and the ruling regime for a time, was unaware that a militant Shi'ite cleric would turn out to be a theocrat once he took power. But whatever. And so when Bani-Sadr called for a referendum, this happened:
"Fearing the marginalization of the clergy in a democratic state, Khomeini reneged on his commitments. He stated that even "if 35 million (referring to the population of Iran at the time) say yes, I say no." In June 1981, before the referendum could be put to the people, Khomeini, after some hesitation, blessed the coup against me on behalf of the power-hungry clergy. Acting as the final authority, he cast his single vote against the power of the people."
Aww, poor baby. Then again, you did only gain power because of Khomeini's revolution. Khomeini giveth and Khomeini taketh away, I suppose. So this all sounds great, right? Except here comes to the problem. In order to make Iran democratic again (by which I mean, for the first time) Bani-Sadr has some demands:
"First, the economic sanctions on Iran need to be removed. These not only weaken Iran's middle class and civil society -- the social force behind democratic aspirations -- but they also enrich the Revolutionary Guard generals beyond their wildest dreams through their ability to exploit black market trade.Second, the threat of foreign military intervention needs to be completely removed. Iranians will not move against the regime, no matter how much they despise it, as long as they feel the territorial integrity of the nation is threatened.Third, on the domestic front, the belief that reform is possible needs to be discarded. The nature, structure and history of the regime tells us that it is incapable of absorbing democratic reform. The linchpin of the regime is the absolute power of the clergy (velayat-e-motlageh-faqhi). Any attempt to loosen this tight grip will have a domino effect that can only lead to the collapse of the regime."
So in other words, you need the rest of the world to completely bend over to you and hope that if we do what you say the Iranian people will overthrow the government. And as Bani-Sadr says in his third demand, an overthrow is the only option since reform cannot happen. Unfortunately for him, America isn't sanctioning and/or threatening to attack Iran because we want to get rid of its government. That would be ideal but it isn't the reason. We are taking these actions against Iran because Iran is building nuclear weapons and we don't want them to. In other words we are doing it for our own reasons that don't have anything to do with the Iranian people. Sorry.

I should have figured that the other shoe would drop sooner or later but I didn't think it would be like this. It's interesting how Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Tunisia didn't need the West to do everything possible to help them overthrow their governments before going for it, but Iran does. At least, according to a former mouthpiece for the regime. Why wouldn't you trust him? He promises this time will be different after all:
"Unlike 35 years ago when Iran had only a minority of democratic elites, today we have a large and educated middle class to support and defend separation of religion and state, a constituency large and robust enough to fill the kind of vacuum we had in 1979 that enabled the clergy to take over.Returning to the goals and guiding principles of the 1979 Iranian revolution would create a truly homegrown and dynamic democracy, chosen by the people themselves and not imposed from outside. The effects of such a change in the region, the Islamic countries and the world in general cannot be overstated.Without a doubt, a second Iranian revolution would have an impact no less far-reaching than the first."
As much as I hate to echo a common Huffington Post argument: it's not our concern. It's your country, so you deal with it. I can't even imagine how many times I've heard claims that America interfered with other nations and that's why they hate us, so I see no reason to repeat the same mistakes. Write this article in an Iranian newspaper, not the Huffington Post. They are the ones who need to hear it.

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