Perils of impatience
Any U.S. intervention, including enthusiastic
support for the student protesters, would be disastrous
By Reza Zaheri
June 30, 2003
There has been no more urgent time to take action than now! As
the U.S. continues to gain unprecedented power in the Middle East,
its eyes and those of the world are focused on the situation in
As the Bush Administration works to decide on what course to take
with regards to Iran, some in Washington have been adamantly calling
for increased isolation and economic sanctions, as well as support
for exile groups in an attempt to achieve "regime change."
the U.S. government has stated that military intervention against
Iran, in response to its alleged nuclear program, could not be
ruled out. Just as alarming, a recent Washington Post-ABC News
poll has revealed that a majority of Americans would support a
U.S. attack on Iran.
If these people believe that any of those actions would improve
the lives of our families suffering in Iran and help to bring about
a democratic government there or increase security here, then they
are sorely mistaken. Any U.S. intervention, including enthusiastic
support for the student protesters, would be disastrous to the
only real, homegrown democracy emerging in the Middle East.
America's threatening of Iran and open support for the student
movement play into the hands of hard-line clerics who use the threat
of U.S. intervention as justification to carry out their brutalities
as a matter of national security. The only way the clerics can
dismiss the protests is if they attribute them to outside forces
rather than internal problems.
In addition, isolating Iran through
sanctions allows for the consolidation of power by the hard-liners,
just as sanctions on Iraq increased Saddam Hussein's stranglehold
over his people by making them weak and dependent on his regime's
handouts. The European Union sees the folly in this and is already
looking to open economic and commercial relations with Iran,
despite objections by the U.S. and some Iranian groups in exile.
It is easy for these exile groups to call for regime change,
because they would not have to pay the price if the situation
afterwards, as would likely happen. Calling for regime change
and democracy is one thing, but implementing it in a state of
with multiple factions fighting for control in the ensuing power
vacuum is another.
Even members of the Bush Administration have
admitted that they have no idea who might replace the current
regime after its overthrow. Therefore, it would be extremely irresponsible
to risk worsening the situation for those still living in Iran
just because those of us living outside have grown impatient
the pace of reform.
What Iran needs is government reform and transformation from
within, something no group in exile can provide. For there to
and true democracy there must be a continuation of the political
evolution that is currently taking place in Iran. There must
be a continued progression of the political sophistication of
country's youth. Only this will bring real change, not the
sprinkling of democracy from outside-for this is not democracy
The United States did not become the "beacon of democracy"
by outside intervention. It came about
as a manifestation of the will of its own people. And how many
years after its revolution did it finally become a "democracy"?
Certainly more than two decades.
Progress is being made in Iran, though it may seem slow when viewed
in the time-frame of our own lives. Just recently 166 members of
parliament expressed outrage at the "brutal treatment" of
students by vigilantes and some of the attackers were even arrested.
Also, Ayatollah Khamenei's status as a revered figure
is openly being criticized by some in parliament as being tantamount
to idol worship. For even more progress to take place, additional
sectors of Iranian society need to join alongside the students.
Outspoken U.S. support, and the subsequent accusations by clerics
that the protesters are American stooges, make it less likely for
this to occur.
It is hard for us to tell those who are being beaten and imprisoned
to not, in desperation, seek outside help in any form. But we must
not give them the false hope that if the U.S. were to intervene,
it would relieve them of all their troubles-because it won't.
To achieve freedom they must direct their own destiny.
The best way that we here in the United States can help the democratic
movement in Iran is to let lawmakers in Washington, D.C. know how
we feel on this issue.
As many of you may know, the National Iranian American Council
(NIAC), a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in D.C. has
begun a letter writing campaign to the White House and members
NIAC's goal is to provide Iranian-Americans
with the tools to make our voices heard, whatever our position
on an issue. Therefore, participants in the letter writing campaign
can choose from three different letters (or write one of their
own) expressing whether or not they feel the U.S. should intervene
Also as each letter is sent, it will contribute to the first
nationwide poll on the Iranian-American community. Already over
73% of letter
writers have been against U.S. supported regime change. So far
over 400 letters have been sent in. But to be effective they
need to number in the thousands!
So please take a few short moments and go
do your part in furthering democracy.
The students in Iran are risking their lives for the very freedoms
we take for granted each day. We should use the power that we
possess to help them!
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