February 7, 2001
I have been reading this nonsense about Reza Pahlavi with growing incredulity
and utter amazement! The only explanation I can think of for anyone actually
believing this nonsense is that it must be caused by a very significant
multi-generational gap, an almost pathological case of nostalgia, and either
totally malevolent cynicism or dangerous levels of naiveity!
I mean, how much more out-of-touch can some people get? GET REAL! No
one in Iran would even consider a monarch! And putting the word "constitutional"
in front of monarchy won't make it any more acceptable, because no one
is fooled by such word games. Let's not forget that the Shah's regime was
technically a constitutional monarchy too, and we all witnessed how well
the constitution was respected then!
Putting aside the problems of a monarchy under any guise, my real problem
with Reza Pahlavi is that he, like his father, is out of touch, has never
worked a day in his life at a real job, is totally class-isolated (along
with his supporters), does not speak the language of the ordinary people,
has probably never stood in line to buy some barbari or drank tea in a
non-tourist chai-khaneh with ordinary people, and is surrounded by self-serving
"grandees" and courtiers who, upon coming to power in Iran, will
in all liklihood continue to engage in the same corrupt activities as before.
This is an old story. Mr. Pahlavi, if you're reading this, here's a
word of warning: don't let yourself be turned into another Ahmad Shah,
surrounded by ambitious and unprincipled courtiers filling your head with
fantasies, intent on installing you as a figurehead for their own benefit.
Almost a quarter of a century has passed and the alternative we're given
is by a "shahzdeh" telling us about about the benefits of re-installing
another Shah? Is it any wonder the current regime has been around for so
And lets not fool ourselves with this talk about how wonderful Mr. Pahlavi
and his cohorts will hold a referrendum and willingly step aside if no
one votes for a monarch because they're just such nice folks. The only
way that these people will be in such a position is through a royalist-military
coup, and people who have executed such a coup don't relinquish power willingly.
At best, Iran will end up like an Latin American or Turkish military dictatorship
with a thin veneer of democratic pretensions for legitimacy.
Whatever are Khatami's shortcomings, and whatever last desperate grasps
at power the hardliners are making, the truth is that Iran is long, LONG
past the re-introduction of another monarch under any convenient disguise,
and is slowly and painfully making genuine strides forward. There is no
easy way out and there's no going back, literally or figuratively speaking.