Mohsen Moshfegh's article, 'Has Reza Phlavi sold out Iran?' written in response to Dr. Pakravan's article, 'Is Pahlavi Pulling a Rajavi?' is a reflection of the prevailing conventional wisdom in America, as well as the mindset of many younger Iranian expatriates. In one phrase, as well intentioned as it is, it is so innocently na´ve!
There are three main areas of focus in both these articles. First it is about Prince Reza Pahlavi and whether the young man deserves or has any potential for a leadership position in a future Iran. Is the Prince really any more qualified than was his father when he was returned by the British and the Americans to Iran from Switzerland after WW II? Reza Pahlavi was about eighteen when the family left Iran. To that point he had led a strictly sheltered life, mostly for security reasons, and privately schooled in Niavaran with a very small and select group of children from Tehran's aristocracy. Fortunately for him, the family did manage to remain financially solvent in exile; no small task, considering the gang of sycophants that, as the Persian proverb goes, are no more than self-serving flies swarming around nectar.
Very much unlike his disingenuous old buddy, the fast talking Rob Sobhani, Reza Pahlavi seems and sounds quite sincere about his visions of a future Iran. The problem is both men lack the exposure and experience that cannot be gained by reading books or through osmosis. For the Prince, it is quite understandable to feel duty-bound to remain viable and to seek support from proven sources of power and influence, as did his late father. We can perhaps hope that Pahlavi's decision to ally himself with America's neo-cons and the Israeli lobby has been to use these well-established elements of American influence in the Middle East as a vehicle to his success rather than a betrayal or sellout.
As hopelessly irrelevant as Reza Phlavi and others of the same generation in exile may be, they will have the additional problem of selling their ambitions to better than three quarters of Iran's post-revolution population, too young to remember or acknowledge our self-declared champions as even fellow Iranians.
Next point has to do with the question of alleged ultra conservative Christian Right and Jewish influence in the formulation of America's foreign policy in the Middle East. Mr. Moshfegh attempts to write this scenario off as an old paranoia or conspiracy theory.
What Dr. Pakravan seems to imply is the influence of the pro-Israel elements at the service of the Israeli lobby in Washington. Here, Dr. Pakravan could have made a much stronger case for his views had he suspected that his points of view would be met with any skepticism.
Dr. Moshfegh would have done well to watch the recent PBS television broadcast, 'The War Behind Closed Doors' to get a glimpse of the dynamics that drive America's foreign policy machinery in the Middle East. Does he think that it is simply a coincidence that the great majority, if not all, opinion molders within and around the administration who support the President's Middle East policies are either rightwing Christian radicals or unabashed supporters of Israel? The masterminds behind the current drive include such names as Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle. The strongest voice in the House Committee on Foreign Relations is that of Mr. Lantos who only last week vented off his cavalier statement that Iran is the greatest supporter of international terrorism. The House Majority Whip in Washington is Tom DeLay. Among the influential think tanks in Washington that have funneled numerous advisors and staff members to the current administration one can name American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, to lesser known entities like Middle East Forum. How is it, Dr. Moshfegh should wonder, that the anti-Iran opinions coming out of these agencies and think tanks belong for the most part to the supporters of Israel, many with dual Israeli/American citizenship? A good example is Martin Indyk, former director of the Near East affairs at NSC, who was the architect of the dual containment policy against Iraq and Iran, and is now director of Saban Center at Brookings Institute. Finally, let us not forget that the Axis of Evil concept so cunningly inserted in George W. Bush's speech was the creation of his speechwriter, David Frum.
Finally, one cannot criticize the administration strategists for doing whatever possible to ensure America's best interests in global encounters. If it can be demonstrated, and that is a big if, that America's best interests in the Middle East lie along the same path as those of Israel's, so be it. Similarly, if Iran's future prosperity and integrity can be shown to be best secured through its compliance with the U.S. and, by extension, Israeli agendas, any legitimate leadership must carefully and dispassionately examine the possibilities. Both conjectures posited here deserve detailed and objective scrutiny. Unfortunately, we seem to pay more attention to details when purchasing a car or proposing marriage than in decisions that involve the destinies of nations.
About the author:
Kam Zarrabi is a writer and lecturer. He is the former president World Affairs Council of San Diego, North County.
Has Reza Pahlavi sold out Iran?
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. - Mohsen Moshafegh - 2/27/03
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 Pakra van - 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 - 3/10/03 ... --