Iran News ...


6/18/09

IRAN: Whose Country Is It, Anyway?

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

 

For whatever it's worth, Iran's presidential elections are over and Mr. Ahmadinejad will be featured as Iran's image in the global press for another four years.

 

Mr. Obama's strongest point of departure from his predecessor was the promise of "change", actually any kind of change from what the liberal progressives, the young and the intellectuals thought was the trend set by the conservative and stubbornly close-minded Republican administration. Remember, here we are talking about the United States of America, the global champion of all in which our Western civilization takes pride.

 

Even the staunch supporters of the new Obama administration are wondering when or at what pace all those promised changes will take place, from the internal affairs of the nation to our foreign policies - not by mere words, but by actual, visible deeds. The opposition groups, of course, have continued to regard all those promises for change as mere campaign rhetoric.

 

A realist would attribute the slow pace of any meaningful change, whether pertaining to the internal socioeconomic issues or to America's foreign policies, to the inertia created by the long-established policies of the past, which make it nearly impossible to implement quickly or painlessly.

 

In Iranian politics, internal or external, several factors make any meaningful policy change even more difficult. The most important factor is the siege mentality that has been created in three decades of facing outside pressures, interference and threats of regime change. Iran's hardliners claim, as do America's own conservative establishment with regard to Homeland Security, that it was only through their diligence that the nation's enemies were kept at bay and the country was safeguarded from further attacks and invasions. Surviving eight years of war with the Western backed invading armies of Saddam Hussein and recovering to rebuild its devastated infrastructure and the military to its rather formidable status today, have given the establishment the reason to make even stronger claims to legitimacy.

 

In addition, the president, whether a Commander in Chief as is the case right here in these United States, or simply a mostly ceremonial figure, has effectively a limited range of authorities to implement policies on his own. In Iranian politics, a reformist president could not, and would not even attempt to, force changes that might affect the daily lives of the citizens quickly and significantly enough to satisfy the demands of those who supported his candidacy with overanxious expectations.

 

Any meaningful change in the status quo would have to be incremental and in carefully measured steps. Considering that ultimate authority lies outside the power of presidency, such incremental reforms could also take place under a non-reformist president, as long as the nation's real leadership structure views the change favorably. And, contrary to common portrayals here in the West, the nation's real leadership is not summarized in the person of one single supreme leader, but rather in a well established and time-tested structure that cannot be bypassed by an elected president.

 

It is only in the international arena where the results of Iran's presidential elections does truly make a difference. This difference has absolutely nothing to do with Iran's actual attitude or policy shifts, but everything to do with the portrayal of Iran by the international propaganda media.

 

To appraise the international ramification of Ahmadinejad's victory, just see who is gloating in having been proven right: the Israeli leaders and their supporters have already voiced off that, with Ahmadinejad back on the throne, Iran remains the sole existential threat to Israel and to international peace and security!

 

Most intellectuals inside and outside of Iran are dismayed and embarrassed by this kind of portrayal of their nation as represented by the Iranian president, and rightly so. But it is far better to be portrayed in this negative light than to face a potentially catastrophic confrontation with Israel and/or the United States.

 

In the absence of a conveniently convincing, albeit fictional, existential threat, the Israeli hardliners would simply have to resort to other tactics, and they have proven very good at such tactics, to create a state of emergency in the region. The most likely would be attacking Iran's nuclear power plant or some other strategic target to draw Iran into some retaliatory response. As long as Iran remains a perceived threat to Israel or America's interests in the region, Israel's bargaining power against any pressure from the United States or the international community to make compromises toward a peace settlement with the Palestinians remains strong.

 

If my arguments or reasoning sound too convoluted or Machiavellian, so be it.

 

Naturally, our expatriate Iranians, particularly those longer-term residents in the West, simply hate to see their former homeland, the land of the noble Aryans, be represented by the diminutive Ahmadinejad. His appearance, mannerism, his venomous speeches accentuated by religious slogans, and his lack of Western style sophistication, have all been a source of embarrassment for most Iranians abroad and many at home.

 

It is, therefore, no surprise that practically all demonstrations by expatriate Iranians in front of Iranian embassies around the world have been against the elections results, which they unanimously regard as totally rigged and fraudulent. If these folks were in favor of the "Islamic Republic" of Iran and its policies, most of them would be back there sharing in the joys or the miseries of life with the rest of their compatriots!

 

Meanwhile, our news media, from CNN to Fox, broadcast Tehran's street scenes, where the outraged youth, angry ladies dressed in tradition-defying manner, and disappointed professionals and the upper-middle class city folk, demonstrate in front of television cameras, many carrying placards written in English to let the world know of their anguish. Analysts and commentators, both Iranians and non Iranians, some even from the streets of Tehran, are having a field day. In short, for our Western audiences watching TV and surfing the internet, the Iranian regime seems to have lost any credibility it might have had prior to the elections.

 

Thus far, I have not seen or heard even one commentary from any academic or high profile observer of the international scene that has not been highly critical of the election results. Even the heretofore defenders of Iran's right to pursue its nuclear programs, and those who had vehemently objected to economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, are now outraged by what they regard as blatant fraud and a mockery of the democratic process through which Ahmadinejad has come out victorious.

 

Our own Iranian American scholars and academics, from the pretend-Trotskyites to liberal feminists and human-rights advocates, are unanimous in lambasting the "rigged" elections; they all wanted to see some moderate reformist displace the little man and open the door to honest democratic reforms.

 

Our well paid, tenured academics, the pretend-Trotskyites and liberated women's rights advocates who are speaking out from the sanctuaries of the halls of academe choose to downplay or disregard out of hand the desires and demands of the masses that are unfamiliar with Trotsky, Mandela, Gandhi or Martin Luther King, or even know anything about Nabokov and his Lolita. Here I am talking about the masses who always form the front lines of defense in case the nation is threatened by invasion. I am talking about the ones whose young sons would run over mine fields to pave the way for their brothers to confront the enemy.

 

Of course, the pretend-Trotskyite would gladly volunteer to offer his or her leadership in the creation of a model democratic republic should anything be left of the nation, even though he or she had only watched from a safe distance while the voiceless masses, the ones you'd seldom see in these massive protest demonstrations, paid with their sweat and blood to protect the homeland. That is what they did when Saddam Hussein attacked Iran. The country is also theirs, actually mostly theirs; don't you ever forget that!

 

Ask those who carry the banner of democratic reform as to what exactly they mean by such beautifully crafted words, freedom and democracy. What kind of democracy do the Tehrani neo-bourgeoisie really prefer? Do we start the voting age at 16 or perhaps 14 or even 13, since most young folks there are much more politically savvy than their counterparts here in America? Should the voting public be literate enough to know about the Great Gatsby or Lolita? Or perhaps, should the educated elite be granted more than one vote per head, perhaps as many as three or four, based on their degree of education and Western sophistication, and the less fortunate only a partial vote per individual based on how low on the social ladder they stand or how much of their figures is covered under the chador?

 


Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shadow

Now, what does your average neo-socialist or pretend-Trotskyite, the phony advocate of the power of the proletariat, want? Should we have a dictatorship of the proletariat, or should we just let the masses plough the field so that the pretend-Trotskyite could then direct their destinies as he or she sees fit? How different would that be from a conservative theocracy or a totalitarian monarchy?

 

It is not at all relevant what I personally like or dislike, whether I would prefer to live in some theocratic republic, or whether I believe in Islam, some other religious or even secular doctrine, or even in the Almighty God. What I prefer for myself should not dictate how I should offer advice to a nation in which I have not actively participated in a meaningful way for a very long time. They have done rather well without my help or interference.

 

Thirty years ago, just before I returned for the last time to my primary residence where I have lived since 1956, my ancestral town of Kashan at the edge of the forbidding Kavir, lacked running water, a single decent health clinic or more than a single high school. The nearby Niasar, where my family owned the now famous Talar and its magnificent scenic waterfall, was a dusty village only known for its wild roses during the rosewater season. Today, Kashan has its technical university and the road to the plush tourist resort of Niasar is paved and its gorgeous waterfall and hotel facility can be seen on the internet!

 

That all happened without my help, or in spite of me and other family members who lacked the incentive or the wherewithal to do it. Or perhaps we felt we had the freedom to choose not to do anything - after all, it was our property. Did they steal it from us? Some family members certainly claim so; but in all honesty, more power to them even if they did!

 

About the election results: whose country is it, anyway? I wonder what percentage of those anti-regime demonstrators would choose to stay in Tehran if they were free to abandon the homeland for greener pastures elsewhere.

 

I also wonder what kind of mayhem, carnage and bloodshed would take place and what level of free media coverage of such events would be allowed by the regimes and broadcast globally if it were to take place in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or even in our "progressive" Islamic country of Turkey.

 

I admit the Iran I see is far from the Iran I would have loved to see after thirty years since the Revolution. But I must also admit that what I see now is far better than the way it was thirty years ago; perhaps not for me or my kind, but for those who succeeded in moving the immovable mountain because they were not sophisticated enough to know that they weren't supposed to succeed!
 

 


Kam Zarrabi

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at kzarrabi@aol.com. More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: www.intellectualdiscourse.com.

 

 

 

 

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