Freedom and democracy can never be exempt from the process
which creates them
September 3, 2003
There's a lot of talk about who would displace leadership
in Iran once a
change occurs. The discussion, while well-intentioned, is pre-mature
bypassing conditional issues concerning transition typology. A
authors such as Samuel Huntington, Philippe Schmitter, and Guillermo
O'Donnell.have analyzed democratic transition.
forms of transition
will concede different forms of leaders. The process and outcome
transitions is a lengthy analysis. However, given the current
battle in and
outside of Iran it is worth noting three different forms of transition
authoritarian states, transformation, replacement and rupture.
In transformations those in power play the decisive role in ending
regime thus changing into a system of democratic governance. In
mid-90's, for example, the Nigerian government slowly began
to democratic elements from the top-down by liberalizing the system
governance until it completely relinquished power and placed itself
Similarly, an Iranian transformation would occur once
conservative elements surrender power to reformist elements.
are two bills in front of the Council of Guardians, which if
provide Khatami and subsequent presidents the power to veto any
judicial finding held in contravention with the Iranian Constitution.
respect to leadership, a process of transformation would not completely
the repressors. Rather conservative factions would retain enough
power in order to force reformists and opposition forces to constantly
In South Africa, for example, apartheid was ended
Afrikaners reached a settlement with the African National Congress.
case, the Afrikaners were able to negotiate an agreement such
that they were
displaced in power yet held enough sway to negotiate political
The second form of transition, replacement, involves a process
internal opposition elements gain strength and eventually topple
government, much like a revolution. Replacement, unlike transformation,
assumes that reformers are weak. As a result of their weakness,
element becomes oppositional forces which gain enough power to
Nevertheless, similar to the Iranian revolution, replacement
followed by a period of negotiation and conflict amongst opposition
in which a tenuous period exists which could cause deeper fractions
the state or eventually lead to chaos, such as in Uganda after
the ouster of
Idi Amin, to which the Ugandan People's Congress manipulated
the detriment of other oppositional forces that subsequently
resulted in the
However, assuming that replacement succeeds in
democratization, conservative elements in Iran would almost be
removed from power with those who remained utilized to facilitate
Lastly, transitions can occur after foreign intervention, what
noted by Alexandra Barahona de Brita as "transition by rupture".
In the case
of Iran, foreign intervention would be a result of total defeat
government's military, but would also defer power to establish
the victor rather then the people.
In times when military intervention
succeeded in producing democratic regimes, such as in Italy and
occupying governments left the countries and people free to adopt
constitutions and structures. Even when we consider Japan, democratic
governance was modeled after previous Japanese parliamentarians.
there is a clear history, Haiti, the Philippines, Iraq (pre-Saddam),
Afghanistan, etc. where military intervention and occupation
produce democratic governance and resulted in grave dictatorial
Therefore, the nature of military intervention is similarly unpredictable.
In the case of Iran, successful occupation would foster democratization.
However, given the complicated nature of the Iranian government,
it is not
likely that the government would be overturned completely,
that a complete overhaul would cause chaos to occupying forces.
there is a strong movement toward democracy that exists both
people and amongst many members of the Majlis which would be
occupying forces to develop true democratic governance. On the
at its worst, military intervention and occupation could result
authoritarian Iran possibly fractured across ethnic and religious
backed by such leaders as the secessionist Azeri, Chehregani.
History has demonstrated that the greatest and most stable democracies
organically rather then through imposition, primarily because
never replace deology. It is important when we talk about Iranian
leadership in the future that we emember that leadership differs
on transition type. As transition becomes less and less indigenous,
the prospects for a stable and democratic Iran.
That being said,
if we as
Iranians truly want to be lead, we ought not to do so on the
basis of one
man, but rather one Constitution. A man can never substitute
will of the people, which in this case is to be free to choose
leaders rather then have a leader chosen to free them. Freedom
can never be exempt from the process which creates them and the
transition deserve more thought then we have given >>> News & politics
Nema Milaninia is a Graduate Student, International Human
Rights Law at the American University in Cairo.
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