So what now?
Sanctions vs dialogue with Iran
July 30, 2004
Iran was on top of the news again last week. There were some
internal developments in Iran but as far as the Western media,
most of the news we've been hearing about is from Washington.
The first big news came last Friday, when sources leaked information
from the 9/11 Commission's report to Time magazine
on Iran's involvement with terrorism. This leak consisted
of revelations which Iran, "actively" helped up to
10 of the hijackers cross its borders prior to September 11th,
by giving them passage and not stamping their passports. So you
may wonder why all of a sudden this leak?
The timing had to do with the neo-conservatives knowledge that
a major analysis was to be released on the following Monday by
the Council for Foreign Relations recommending dialogue with the
Islamic regime as the future U.S. policy.
The debate on what to do with Iran has become more of a topic
in Washington these days than at any other time. In addition, there
is a very real split between the leadership of the Republican Party
versus the leadership of the Democratic Party on a strategy for
dealing with Iran in the future. And above all else, this is the
election year which means, every debate is more personal and every
policy a source of contention.
The Bush administration is again advocating a more hawking stance
towards Iran. They are calling for more pressure, possible sanctions,
and continued path of calling for regime change (which officially
is not the U.S policy yet). On the other hand, Kerry and the Democrats
are advocating a policy of slow re-approachment with Iran, the
possibility of dialogue and a possible future diplomatic relationship
as a tool for pressuring Iran to change its behavior.
This debate has been vocal in Washington, but even more vocal
in the Iranian-American community, especially that of Los Angeles.
In this regard, the Iranians in this city are becoming more like
the Cuban-Americans of Miami, whom the Republican Party can easily
count on many of them for future support.
The radical nature of
Iranian-American Los Angeles politics stems from the large number
of pro-monarchists who fled Iran in 1979 and a smaller number
of other leftists and nationalist opposition members who are staunchly
against the regime. To this group, any dialogue with the regime
is equivalent of treason against the Iranian people as well as
confirmation of legitimacy of the Iranian regime.
Meanwhile, in Washington, politicians are trying to form a coherent
Iran policy for the near future. The Analysis, which was released
on Monday by Council for Foreign Relations, was co-chaired by Zbignew
Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter from
1977 to 1981 as well as Robert Gates, head of CIA during Bush Sr.
time. It is an 80 page document available on their website. In
it, they recommend an approach to Iran through dialogue and diplomatic
channels and overall dealing with the regime as opposed to waiting
for it to fall. In August, there is another major analysis and
policy recommendation being released.
In short, the Brzezinski/Gates report recommends a policy similar
to that with China, when in 1972, Nixon signed a basic statement
of principles, named 1972 Shanghai CommuniquÈ. With this
policy, the Chinese government continues to repress its people,
at the same time, continues to develop and hold nuclear weapons.
You must realize, with this view, which is similar to Kerry's
and the Democratic party, the Islamic regime will be here to stay.
On the other hand, the Bush administrations hard-line stance
is one where many see leading to possible confrontation. Not necessarily
militarily, but more likely economic. Many people believe that
Iran's regime is unlike the dictatorships that collapsed
in Eastern Europe. This view sites the revolutionary root of this
regime and its continued presence within the masses (minority,
but still a considerable). This is as opposed to Eastern European
dictatorships where the regime was completely separate from its
In many ways, Iran's regime resembles Castro's
dictatorship. Similar to Castro, Islamists rose to power through
a popular revolution, and similar to Castro, they still have the
capability of bringing the masses to the streets at will (although
now numbering in a few thousands with the help of busload of poor
lured to the scene as opposed to hundreds of thousands in the early
With this view, Bush's hard-line stance will continue
isolating the country even more. Making the population ever more
poor and continue to fuel a base of radicalism for the right wing
clerics to stay in power. In other words, with this view as well,
the Islamic regime is here to stay.
So what now?
Iran's destiny lies with us. We are responsible for not
having democracy in Iran and we are responsible to bring democracy
to our country. America will always have its own interests above
all others. Those who are American citizens can and should try
to influence Washington as much as possible. But ultimately, the
future destiny of our country will depend on the decisions we as
Iranians make today.
These decisions start with you and me. From the moment that you
read this. It starts with your reaction and your response. It starts
on the websites and in the chat rooms. On our TV and radio as well
as our letters, our articles. We must convince ourselves first
that democracy can happen in Iran, and then we must convince others.
We must believe in it, picture it and talk about it.
Our dreams for a democratic Iran must be written down as principles.
Our principles should guide us into formulating our short term
and long term goals. For each goal, we must devise a strategy.
And within this strategy, we must put together a plan and an agenda.
Based on this, our pro-democracy organizations upon establishing
their principles must formulate and present their short term and
long term goals to the public. And for each goal, a clearly stated
program and plan needs to be available for the scrutiny of the
In other words, we must be organized. We must get organized.
And we must believe in ourselves. The future for democracy in Iran
will not depend on "sanctions" or "dialogue".
It depends on you and me >>> Persian text
This piece was published in Amir Ali Fassihi's weblog, Fassihi.blogspot.com.
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