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Has Reza Pahlavi sold out Iran?

By Mohsen Moshfegh, Ph.D.

I ran into an article on the Payvand's Iran News site last week that discussed the similarities between Masoud Rajavi and Reza Pahlavi in their shortsightedness in forming alliance with the devil to win power. The bottom line implication of Dr. Pakravan's article was that Reza Pahlavi has sold out Iran's future independence and rightful prominent position in the Middle East for the promises by the American neo-conservatives to aid him in achieving leadership in a post Islamic Republic Iran. This really was a hard-hitting article that deserved careful examination and a proper response. The claims made in this article, if true, makes Pahlavi a traitor, who has been wooed by a sinister coalition to sacrifice a nation for his hunger for power; an easy sell to an audience, the Iranian community, who has been taking the hunger for power and treason in the Pahlavi family for granted, isn't it? And of course, the existence of a sinister Jewish-American alliance has always been so obvious to us all that doesn't even need an explanation. Right?

First of, I have a lot of issues with the writer's claim on the future position of Iran as a "regional super power," as if it is a God given right for our nation to achieve this prominent position only by the virtue of our size and demography, the abundance of our natural resources, and our country's strategic location. I happen to be an advocate of the motto that says: "It's not the size that matters," and therefore, believe that in the world we are living in it is only the resourcefulness of a nation, large or small, and the wisdom of its leaders that provide it with opportunities for greatness. And if we work long and hard at achieving this goal no nation, neither Israel nor the United States will ever be able to deny us our rightful position in the world, i.e., even if they want to. The key, however, is working at it long and hard. But the issue with Iran's future position in the region and the world is not why I felt compelled to write this article in response to Dr. Pakravan. I believe what works for or against a nation at crucial times in its history are its impulsive reactions to the events and actions by its own leaders and those of other nations. And these impulsive reactions originate from what that nation takes for granted in its belief system- political culture if you will- to interpret the events and occurrences in those crucial days. So, let us examine what we have always taken for granted in our belief system.

Let us first start with this "sinister coalition" in the United States. The writer's statement that the neo-conservative camp, which dominates the American foreign policy, "predominantly consists of right-wing Jewish American intellectuals" is merely a claim on the writer's part and not backed up by any proof. Perhaps providing us with the names of individuals in the ranks of the Administration's policy makers who are affiliated with the right-wing Jewish community would have helped substantiate this claim. But, none has been offered. In fact, the common knowledge among the political observers in the U.S. is contrary to this claim and the prevalent suspicion about the Bush Administration has always been that it is under the influence of the conservative evangelical Christians. Known elements that hold the evangelical world outlook in the ranks of the decision makers in the Bush Administration are such key individuals as the President himself, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the newly empowered Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. The remaining influential policy makers of the Administration are the two well known African Americans, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, about neither of whom I have ever heard of any claims of particular anti-Arab or anti-Moslem tendencies or any affiliations with the conservative Jews in America. The same is true about Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The only individual who may fit the writer's profile is the high-level Pentagon employee and educator, Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, who in the position of Deputy to the Secretary of Defense exerts some influence on the foreign policy of the Administration. That makes one of eight. The similarities between the current policies of the United States and Israel on the Middle East are not in and of themselves sufficient to prove that these policies are made solely to protect Israel regardless of any other factor and at any expense. It could just be that they are fighting the same enemy; the Islamic radicals that have for a long time been fixed on destroying the state of Israel and since September 11 have shown to what dangerous extremes they are ready to go to hurt the United States. It is not surprising to see that Israel and the United States consult and coordinate policies on fighting Islamic terrorism and Arab extremism; they are natural allies in this war.

The truth of the matter is that, in my opinion, the writer suffers from anti-Semitism, a very common flaw affecting the Iranian intellectual community. Anti-Semitism has existed for a very long time in Europe and the Middle East and a particular strand of it is very common among Iranian and Arab intellectuals. This particular strand of anti-Semitism interprets all international events as a part of a vast umbrella of a Jewish-American conspiracy that aims to keep the nations of the Middle East under-developed and dependent. The old Soviet Union and its surrogates among the Middle Eastern intellectual community were the most important culprits in the development and spread of this virus among our intellectuals in the decades of the 1950's, 60's and the 70's. This is a legacy of the bi-polar world that served the Soviet Union well at the time, and I believe that it would serve us well if we rid ourselves of this perverted view of the world. Dr. Pakravan charges Reza Pahlavi with the greatest sin of all in our political culture, i.e., courting the conservative American Jews who are the most influential force in the neo-conservative camp, and who have this grand scheme of no less than total control and subjugation of our nation. But, it could be that Reza Pahlavi simply believes that in the future reconstruction of our devastated economy Israel may make a good ally and forming a good relationship with American Jewish community may prove helpful to our nation in the future. Well, so do I; and so do many other Iranians who do not want to see Iran's position in the world to be sacrificed for the Palestinian cause any more. I, like many other Iranians, am fed up with our country's foreign policy centering on the "liberation of Palestine." Two nations are at each other's throat for their very survival on issues that have very little to do with us and we continue to fan the fire of violence with direct and indirect aid to a bunch of homicidal maniacs, while sacrificing the future of our nation. This perversion of our foreign policy has cost us enough already and will continue to cost us dearly if we do not abandon our anti-Semitic attitudes. We need to stop interfering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all and start to put our own national interests first. We have a young population of 70 million to worry about and plan for. So, if Reza Pahlavi is attempting to create and maintain a good rapport with the American Jewish community it is not considered a great sin in my book. I'd say more power to him! Because, contrary to Dr. Pakravan's claim, it may very well be that he is thinking ahead about Iran's national interests in the post Islamic Republic reconstruction.

In trying to insinuate that Pahlavi is somehow beholden to this "sinister coalition," the writer implies that Rubin and Ledeen, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) activists, have indicated support for him. My question to the writer is: so what? What does that prove? It can only mean that Mr.'s Rubin and Ledeen have come to the same conclusion that a considerable part of the Iranian community abroad, along with a small fraction of the Iranians inside our country have come to, i.e., Reza Pahlavi may be a viable alternative in the post Islamic Republic Iran. Why should AEI's support for Pahlavi automatically mean that he has struck a deal with the "sinister coalition" and has sacrificed Iran's future independence? The writer further implies indirectly that Reza Pahlavi's association with Rob Sobhani and the occasional supportive statements from Michael Ledeen is somehow an indication of Pahlavi's advocacy for an American military intervention in Iran. This is also another instance of attacking Pahlavi on false claims and insinuations. My question here is: why does the writer totally disregard publicly stated positions by Reza Pahlavi himself on this issue and tries to deduct his position on this matter by implication. I suggest that Dr. Pakravan stop torturing through implications and deductions about Pahlavi's position on this matter and Just refer to his public statements in which he repeatedly rejects the appropriateness of military intervention in Iran by any foreign powers as a means to overthrow the Islamic Republic. As far as I recall, Pahlavi's stated position on this matter is that a passive resistance from the vast majority of Iran's productive forces and population as a whole (a total boycott of some sort) would be the best way of bringing the wheels of the Islamic Republic to a grinding halt. Implying "guilt by association" without any substantiation to attack an individual is most unfair and essentially an intellectual cop out on the part of the writer. This tactic has been used so widely and with so much impunity in our political culture that, in my opinion, any responsible intellectual should totally abandon these underhanded means of attacking and discrediting a political opponent. Reza Pahlavi, because of his family name, makes a particularly easy target for "guilt by association." We should not allow such tactics exclude him from the political race for the future of Iran. That would be most unfair. Like any other individual or group who takes up political activity, Reza Pahlavi is trying to get his message heard with the widest possible coverage, organize support of his constituency within the Iranian community, and influence American policy makers to support his cause. My question to the writer is: what is so sinister about that?

In conclusion, I must admit that I myself have not made up my mind about Reza Pahlavi's viability or even desirability as a future leader of Iran. I, like many other Iranians, have numerous questions and issues with Pahlavi, or for that matter with any other individual who throws his hat in for the political race in assuming the leadership of the post Islamic Republic Iran. But it would be a self-defeating exercise if we limit our field of selection before the race even begins. Reza Pahlavi is mistakenly viewed by many Iranians as a known element and "damaged good" because of his lineage. Truth of the matter is, however, that we really do not know much about him. Considering him "damaged good" and not giving him a chance to compete at ! the outset of the race is not only unfair, but may actually deprive us from a potentially good leader with varied experience in a very crucial moment in our nation's history. So, I'd say stop the personal attacks and let him enter this ! great debate for the future of our nation.

About the author:

Mohsen Moshfegh was born in Tehran in 1958. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma University (1981) and Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA (1988). He is married with two children and lives in San Francisco Bay Area where he works for Bechtel Engineering.

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Is Pahlavi Pulling a Rajavi?
The incompetence and undemocratic nature of the exiled opposition has significantly contributed to the survival of the dictatorial theocracy in Tehran. The most extreme example is the Mujahedin Khalq, who has alienated the Iranian people through its terrorist activities and its dependence on Saddam Hussein. -Iraj Pakravan - 2/11/03

Conflict and catchphrases
"It is no surprise that Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah, has arisen seemingly out of nowhere to become the leading opposition figure, not only among Iranians in Los Angeles, but among Iranians still living under the mullahs in Tehran." -Brian Whitaker, Guardian -2/25/03

... Payvand News - 2/27/03 ... --

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