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Response to Ms. Azizi "Letter From Iran - Why a Left-Leaning Feminist Backs the Pentagon"

By Ramin Hojati

"Ms. Azizi,"

I read your article posted on Pacific News Service. While I understand some of the frustrations you are experiencing, I was horrified by the solution you had suggested, i.e. a foreign military invasion of Iran. Below are my reasons why I think this is a terrible idea:

1. Lessons learned from history. What you are proposing is effectively colonialism. If you look at India and China and measure what they have achieved under indigenous governments versus their status under colonial rules and influences, you can quickly see why colonialism is a terrible outcome for the invaded country. Chinese and Indian achievements have come with governments which many have regarded as far from perfect.

2. The human cost. Clearly many lives would be lost in an attempt to install a new form of government. There will be 2,000-20,000 pound bombs dropping on our hometowns, new military equipment getting their "field trials," children with missing body parts, and many 18-year olds whose aspirations will be cut short while fighting a foreign invasion force. If all goes according to your plan, the morning after, the nation will wake up to an invaded country.

3. Establishment of a dependent economy. There is a saying: "If I sell you a fish today, you will eat today; if I teach you how to fish, you will eat everyday". The indications are that Iran is moving towards learning "how to fish," i.e. acquiring technologies which allow the country to internally develop modern products. The economy is growing at a 7% pace, which is one of the fastest in the world. Any foreign invasion force will be inclined to move the country towards the first alternative, i.e. "buying a fish everyday," to reduce competition and ensure market existence.

4. The duty passed to us by the 1979 revolution, those who lost their lives to achieve the existence of this republic, and those who fought in the imposed Iran-Iraq war to ensure the continuity of the hope. I believe the vote of confidence for the post revolution Iranian constitution was 98%. At that point, Iran was the most democratic society I have seen, with virtually all political perspectives getting access to air their views. The three pillars of the revolution were:

4.1 Independence,
4.2 Freedom,
4.3 Islamic republic.

While most everyone would agree the constitution has not been fully implemented, a foreign invasion force will negate what all these people have fought for.

Incidentally, a close relative of mine, a chemist by training, had to do odd jobs for three years as the Pahlavi regime prevented him from getting a regular job due to his political views. It seems to me that implementation of your recipe would, at best, yield a regime like the Pahlavi's.

5. Our moral duty to ensure Iran remains an independent country. Iran is a country with a 10,000 year old civilization and possibly beyond. Her influences and achievements are present in many facets of our daily lives. It is this generation's duty, passed to us by our cultural heritage, to ensure her existence as an independent country, hence, preserving her cultural identity.

6. Destruction of national dignity and patriotic feelings. Patriotic feelings will remain a thorn in the invasion forces' eyes. The invasion force will be rewriting history books, by either omission of relevant facts, and/or distorting them, to ensure the continuity of the occupation.

7. Destroying a possible model for regional countries. If Iran is able to establish a religious democracy, and they have come some distance in doing so, this will become a model for many other regional countries. A foreign invasion force will ensure this does not happen.

8. You may well be helping a "crusade" against Islamic countries. While some may consider this paranoia at this point, in my opinion, this does remain a risk factor.

You may ask: but what about my points, i.e. how do we reach greater individual freedom, specially as it relates to women's rights, and better accountability of government organizations and officials. There are good chances that a more prosperous, more secure, and more internationally well-connected Iran will improve in these regards, as the experiences since the end of the war has shown. Other peaceful means of bringing lasting social change, i.e. keeping the public politically active, and running informational campaigns help greatly.

However, the cultural realities of Iran, like virtually any other place in the world, means that her laws will be different than other countries, at the dismay of some of her citizens. Significant differences in "individual freedoms" exist between US and Europe. For example, in the US, alcohol sales are restricted in some cities, and are discouraged by disproportionate taxation. The sale of certain drugs, while legal in some European cities such as Amsterdam, remains illegal in the US. Women can get arrested for dressing in a certain manner (i.e. going topless) which is legal in many places in Europe.

When gauging women's rights and their improvement or degradation, other important social and economic measures should be considered. A few such measures are: access to educational and employment opportunities, the number of households supported by single mothers, percentage of women and children living in poverty, amount of wealth controlled by women, equal protections by the legal system, rates of violence against women (rape, domestic violence), access to health care, life expectancy, control over reproduction and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and other health outcomes.

Ramin Hojati

Related Article:

Letter From Iran - Why a Left-Leaning Feminist Backs the Pentagon - By Shahla Azizi, Pacific News Service

... Payvand News - 4/10/03 ... --

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