George W., The Messiah?
By Reza Mazaheri
April 15, 2003
I called my parents today as I do every week. They
were glued to the television. There was a hint of jubilance in their
voice as they had watched the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s
statue. I was watching the same thing and must admit that I got
a little kick out of it myself. I told my parents that the dogs
are barking at Iran and Syria.
Yes, once again today, another “neo-con”
sent a stern warning to number two and three on the list. “We
are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson
from Iraq, “ said John Bolton. I asked my mother about how
people on the street felt about that. She said people call Bush
"Imam Zaman" (The Messiah)! They want Bush to save them
like he has saved the Iraqi people. Oh no, I thought. Not my people.
Desperation does strange things to people. It drowns
them in that “anything is better than this” feeling.
Despair can make a person blind. Even bombs and missiles would be
welcomed by some in exchange for “liberation.” Of course,
they really do believe that Iraqis are being liberated. Like many
Americans, Iranians have grown up with Hollywood. They’ve
seen the Yankee soldier waving Old Glory and riding down the streets
of some newly “liberated” city in an army tank. In the
80s, the most popular film character in Iran was Rambo. My grandfather
was a huge fan of John Wayne.
Iranians love America. Or at least they love the image
of America. Iranians are impressed by America’s machismo image.
In my last trip to Iran, I was told by a taxi driver that “the
door to heaven is somewhere in America.” Any Iranian living
in the U.S. can tell you after a visit to Iran, that Iranians in
Iran only want to talk about one thing, America. “How is America?”
“How can I get a visa?” “You can make lots of
money in America.” “American woman are beautiful.”
And now “Bush is the messiah.” Bite your tongues please.
Give America some time in Iraq. We shall see what will come out
of the so-called “nation building” part of this endeavor.
How much do our fellow countrymen know about America?
Where do they get their information? Why don’t they feel the
same about India or the Philippines or Brazil? How many Iranians
dream about a possible life in Finland? Not too many, I’d
bet. But everyone you speak to, from your teenage cousin to your
retired uncle to Mr. Hassan at the fruit stand, wants to come to
They have pioneer dreams. I used to watch The Little
House on the Prairie when I was a little boy. I dreamt about living
in a place like that, next to Laura Ingalls and Nellie. It seemed
like a place of purity and endless possibilities. I remember watching
Superman and dreaming about America and New York. After all, why
did Clark Kent land in America? It must be a good place. Why didn’t
he land in Kenya? Superman came from Krypton. But to people around
the world, he was pretty much an American. He was an American ambassador
who found his way onto the movie screens around the globe. He was
the image that America tries to create of itself, brave, strong
In my teenage days came even another “great”
American, Rocky Balboa, another strong, righteous fellow. Another
perfect spokesman for the “American dream.” There are
many of these characters. They have been created to entertain the
masses and promote “American freedom.” Like Dirty Harry,
they are usually righteous, but would not hesitate to use violence
to destroy the forces of evil. In a way, these popular fictitious
characters embody the idea known as “America.” Marketing
companies and Hollywood conceive them and use them to advertise
the place that many around the world consider to be a Shangri-La.
Much of what Iranians know about America comes from
Hollywood, music and “successful” relatives. They don’t
really know much about this place. They have created a very superficial,
material image of it in their heads. This has made them blind both
to the real beauty of America and its darker side.
And then there are the relatives living in America.
The rich and successful relatives who ride around in their fancy
cars through the streets of Beverly Hills wearing designer clothes.
Everybody’s got some success story to tell. “I came
here with $500 in my pocket. Look at me now. I own a whole neighborhood
in Manhattan.” Iranians hear these kinds of stories from their
relatives. They want the same thing. They want to come here because
this is where things are happening. And if they can’t come
here, they want America to go to them.
America will go to Iran for two reasons. The first
is the OIL, the “black gold” under our soil, which has
brought both wealth and misery to our country. Americans wouldn’t
even look at Iran if it exported melons instead of oil.
The second reason is Israel. For some “mysterious”
reason, there happens to be a few people in the Bush administration
with intimately close ties to Israel. These fellows are tired of
hearing the mullahs call Israel “the Zionist entity.”
They want some respect. They want the Islamic Republic to stop its
support of the Palestinians. Iran must kiss the hand and recognize
the real boss in the region. The Israelis know that Nuclear Weapons
in Iran will give the Palestinians a possible even hand in any peace
negotiations. They will not sit around and let this happen.
One cannot ignore that in the past five years there
have been significant positive changes in Iran. Iran is not yet
a democracy, but there is certainly a real grass-roots democratic
movement in Iran. America can help Iran only by leaving it alone.
Let what is happening happen. I find it odd that America preaches
democracy and occupation at the same time. I just don’t see
how the two can happen at the same time. And by occupation, I don’t
necessarily mean a military one. I am talking about the occupation
of a country’s sources of wealth. A country cannot be a democracy
if its people don’t have control of its economic system. I
don’t see this happening in Iraq and it won’t happen
in Iran if America is going to be the courier of change.
To my fellow Iranians who are intoxicated by the
fantasy of the Yankee liberator, I’d suggest a quick look
eastward toward Afghanistan. What happened to the rebuilding of
that country? There are reports of Afghan police leaving their posts
because they have not been paid for months. The Taliban is regrouping
and opium production is on the rise. America has failed to keep
its promise to rebuild Afghanistan. I would ask my people to take
a close look at Latin America. Examine Haiti and Granada, Chile
and the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Nicaragua and on and on.
Where was America, the Liberator when millions were being slaughtered
in Somalia and Rwanda?
Now I’m not saying that Americans are bad people.
I’m saying that America is not interested in democracy building.
Democracies in places like Iran are not beneficial to American “interests.”
Democracies are complicated and don’t respond to demands of
a superpower in the same manner that dictatorships do. Imagine a
democracy in Iran where people have control over their resources,
including the oil. That would tick off a whole bunch of folks in
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