The tone of various letters supporting and disagreeing with Mr. Reza Pahlavi's tactical decisions are most disturbing. Both sides engage in vicious personal attacks, an act that only obscures and undermines their argument. We, as a people, need to look forward to the future and come up with solutions to create a better life for our children, not waste time engaging in personal attacks.
The future generations will look back at us and consider us self-centered. For instance, even the Sasanians that we all admire so much systematically destroyed all the palaces and cultural artifacts of the Parthians. Wouldn't we today have a richer history if we had more artifacts from the Parthians' over 400 years reign?
What unites those of us who are opposed to the theocracy is far greater than what divides us. Yet, we have allowed our differences to dictate our actions, allowing the theocracy to take advantage of our lack of unity. We need to unite behind a set of principles and ideals, not an individual. Time of individual worship has long passed. Yet, we keep on obsessing over individuals. How many times must we disappoint ourselves?
Today's Iran is not the Iran of 1953. America cannot overthrow this regime, only the Iranian people can. The Iranian students are far more educated and politically mature than they were back in 1953. We need to unite behind them. If not us, who live in comfort abroad, then who? If not now - that the brave members of majils have signed a letter addressed to Mr. Khamenei demanding a free press and elections - then when? These individuals have, possibly, placed their lives at risk.
Let us unite behind three ideals: peace, democracy and free markets. As Iranian-Americans we should support the students in Iran and help them implement these ideals in Iran and let the Iranian people make the decision as to which individual or government suits them best.
The collective experiences of mankind have shown peace, democracy and free markets to be the most fair and efficient means for humanity to realize its potential. Theocracy, just like communism and fascism, belongs in the ash heap of history. Ultimately, no repressive, intolerant regime or ideology can withstand the spread of these ideals. Iran's theocracy is no exception.
A study of the countries that have successfully evolved from dictatorships into democracies in the past 30 years indicates that our triumph is inevitable and non-violence is the prudent path.
For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, peacefully gave up power in Mexico to a democratically elected government in 2000, after twelve years of political liberalization under the PRI leadership itself - starting with the election of Carlos Salinas in 1988. Salinas' initial reforms were intended to preserve the PRI's power, not to bring democracy. But, as in most other cases, reforms led to demand for further reforms. Embarking upon the path of self-preserving reforms is a slippery slope that has led to the disintegration of every dictatorship that has set on that course.
South Africa abandoned its vile, racist regime and joined the democratic camp without bloodshed through the initial reforms of white Presidents P.W. Botha and F.W. de Klerk. And, most important, Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika was the liberalization initiative that led to the collapse of the communist bloc without armed conflict. There are a number of other examples, such as: Greece, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, South Korea, Taiwan and a number of Eastern European countries. Democracy was seldom attained through a bloody revolution or military coup d'état.
To help bring about a peaceful transition to democracy, the South African model should be our guide. Mr. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped save thousand of lives and expedited the demise of apartheid by their tolerance and compassion. Similarly, in Iran amnesty should be given to all the members of the theocracy.
No trials, no punishments. They do not have to fear the inevitable. Overlooking the crimes of certain individuals is a price well worth paying to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy. Establishing democracy is far more vital for the interests of our people, than achieving justice, even if such a thing could be achieved.
Our children will thank us for our wisdom and ability to restrain our naked hatred and to refrain from bickering amongst ourselves.
... Payvand News - 6/6/03 ... --