Iran is not Iraq
Quick lessons in geography, language and culture
April 25, 2006
The other day I was watching "Family Feud" on TV. One of the questions was: which country would hate America most? The third or forth option was Iran. To me as an Iranian it sounds an absurd perception. If there is one country in the Middle East whose people still honor and salute America, it's Iran.
We should be careful not to mistake Iran with Iraq. The difference between the two countries is much more than the only obvious difference between the last letters "N" and "Q" in pronunciation of the names. Here are only some of them:
-- Iraqis are mostly Arabs, Iranians are not. They are a rainbow nation of Persians, Kurds, Azeries, Turkmens, Lurs, Baluchis, and some Arabs who have coexisted peacefully for thousands of years.
-- Iraqis speak in Arabic language, Iranians speak in Farsi (Persian)
-- Though with a rich ancient culture, Iraq is a country which came to existence only after world war one as a part of defeated Ottoman Empire. While Iran is a country with more than two and a half millennium of written history as a sovereign country.
-- Iran is the second country (after Japan) in Asia – the largest continent – having chosen constitutional monarchy as its governing system through a fairly democratic procedure. The country has been practicing the difficult path of democracy for about a century now. On the other hand, from its date of birth as a country, Iraq has been struggling with coups, dictators and shaky governments.
-- Iran does not have any record of attacking or harming any sovereign country at least for the last two centuries, while Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, has two recorded military attacks to Iran and Kuwait.
-- Under the fever of Islamic Revolution, Iranians did their biggest single historical mistake which was attacking the American Embassy in Tehran and taking the American staff of the embassy as hostages for 444 days. Iranians have paid for that mistake dearly. But since then there has been no proven trace of any Iranian action against USA in any of the myriad terrorist attacks against American targets – or any other nation.
-- Iran is a country with 70 million population with literacy rate of more than 80%. The number of students (from first grade to university) is more than 20 million and the girl students in the universities and colleges outnumber the boys. While Iraq has a population of 26 million with literacy rate of about 40%.
Saying all that, I should admit that I do not like the present government of Iran. I believe that the existing government is not representing the majority of Iranian people. I believe that there are fanatic extremists among the key government players. I believe that the existing government has approval of only 10 to 15 percent of Iranian population. In other words, 80 to 85% of Iranians are ordinary peace loving people who just care about their own they to day life business. They have had a bitter experience of a bloody 8 year war with Iraq leaving deep ugly scars in the economic, social and family lives. They would hate any other war. They would even do not bother about nuclear energy, or any other politicized matter of these days.
Iran has been under much scrutiny and world attention because of its nuclear programs and uranium enrichment ambitions for sometime now. The Iranian government has repeatedly claimed that its nuclear programs are peaceful and for civil energy production only. Western countries and Israel would not believe such claims. Having the record of the Iranian Government, I would agree to doubt such claims.
On the other hand, even the worst appraisals would believe that Iran is still at least 5 years away from the dirty bomb.
When getting to this point, we should note that Iran is surrounded by countries in possession of nuclear bombs for years. India, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Israel all have mighty and frightening artillery of dirty bombs. All of these countries, unlike Iran, have recent history of aggressive conflicts with their neighbors. Furthermore, among them are governments who can hardly be considered fully democratic ones. Nonetheless, so far, thanks to god, none of them have used the dirty bombs against their foes. The irony is that the only country who has so far used the dirty bomb is one of most democratic systems of the world. Therefore, even if we believe that the Iranian government has the nuclear military ambitions, why should we make such a big phobia out of such remote chance? Iran will not be a farm to USA in any case.
To summarize the story:
- Although Iranian government is not a thoroughly democratically elected one, yet it is not the worst one in the Middle East and even Asia by any account.
- Iran does not have any proven record of any anti-American act during the last quarter of a century (forget war of words).
- If the United States gets into any military action against Iran, it will only benefit the bad guys. It will help the present government to consolidate its prevalence for years to come. The real looser will be the ordinary people.
For gods sake let's prevent the war.
Visit Forghani's blog, NeghNeghoo.com.