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Tunnel vision
Iranicons are so desperate, unimaginative, and fixated on the idea of 'changing' Iran that they overlook exactly who their champion is

November 5, 2004

Something momentous has just happened; the ramifications of the election are larger than any one man and will set the course of world events down a decidedly dangerous path. To me, this election was never about John Kerry or George W. Bush; it was a referendum on the neo-conservative roller coaster that the current administration has put the world on.

I don't feel many people share that outlook, because this was a bitterly divisive contest and the election demonstrated that there were not many undecided minds out there. The simple truth is currently, there are slightly more people in the United States who feel George W. Bush is qualified to lead the nation than those who disagree.

Within the Iranian-American community, there is also a marked divide; those who deeply oppose Bush's policies and plans for Iran, and those neo-conservatives (Iranicons) who enthusiastically and blindly cheer them. I deliberately choose the word 'blindly' here because these Iranicons are so desperate, unimaginative, and fixated on the idea of 'changing' Iran that they overlook exactly who their champion is, close their eyes to the holes in their reasoning, or dangerously ignore those facts altogether.

A friendly reminder:

These people just helped to elect a man who opposes affirmative action, gay marriage, vital life-saving medical research and who opposes a woman's right to choose what is best for her life and health--George W. Bush has no qualms about interjecting his fundamentalist religious views in making the decisions that affect the whole of society (Iranians are already well acquainted with that kind of leadership).

These people just helped to elect a man who started two wars in four years, orchestrated one of the greatest shams in American politics (deliberately and falsely linking 9/11 to Saddam Hussein), who never served in combat yet lusts for conquest, a man who sees nothing wrong with raping less powerful nations of their sovereignty and dropping bombs indiscriminately over the Middle East.

Finally, they elected a man who with Osama bin Laden as a faithful partner, has done more than anyone else to polarize 'the West' against the Middle East and fuel the ranks of religious fundamentalists on both sides; a man who when asked to admit his mistakes, refuses and justifies his decisions by simply saying he "prays a lot" and that the presidency "is hard."

Enough about Bush - there are enough accounts that show the current president of the United States for the dispiriting, arrogant creature of privilege and delusion that he is. I am more concerned with these ever-more emboldened Iranicons, who genuinely bewilder me with their tunnel-vision views and the belief that Bush actually gives a damn about the welfare of Iran and Iranians.

Consciously or not, these Iranicons are self-deprecating cultural evolutionists, believing that political change must be prescribed from the outside, and that Iranians are incapable of taking affairs into their own hands. This is a view that must be critiqued, and I invite others to write on this topic as well. What is also disturbing is the fact that they are twisting information, generous in exaggerating support for their views, and invent absolutely false positions and labels for their opponents.

Here are facts that all their tricks cannot change: The United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, has little evidence in the way of success, and left those two countries in shambles. Tens of thousands of people killed, billions of dollars in damages, armed bandits on the loose who capture and kill international aid workers, and no end in sight; this is what you want in Iran?

In the long term, if history is a reliable guide, let's venture US objectives to be as follows: the plan after regime change is to secure energy resources and rapidly transition a still-underdeveloped Iran to a free market economy (in essence, dooming it to second-tier status in the deeply segregated world economy).

This is a common condition in which the state has little control over its affairs, outside actors largely dominate the economy (and as a result, will dominate Iranian social institutions), and the already unequal distribution of wealth is greatly exacerbated, causing new social cleavages.

This is at odds with the simplistic scenario promoted by Iranicons, in which Iranians will have a say in the form that their government will take after US intervention. I offer only the most superficial analysis of this phenomenon, but again, is that what you want in Iran?

This is not to say that the current situation in Iran is any more desirable; the economy is in shambles, and people are desperate for a change. The systematic suppression of political, social and political expression, the crushing social restrictions, and police state that characterize Iran today must be changed and must not be downplayed.

In fairness then, let us not downplay and deceive ourselves on who exactly Bush is, the fact that he has a history of saying whatever is needed to garner support for his decisions, is absolutely incompetent in international diplomacy, and that he refuses to accept criticism for his many mistakes.

Let's not act as if we speak for a nation's desires when we sit in privilege and comfort a world away, and let's not pretend that Iran's considerable problems will be solved by invading the country, killing many innocents while finding few who oppose you, and subjecting it to de facto colonialism. It won't work.

Social and political change can occur in different ways, and to not explore other options at best illustrates the painful lack of political imagination on the part the Iranian diaspora community, and at worst exposes its opportunistic and self-hating sides.

When trusting George W. Bush to deliver Iran to freedom is accepted as the most attractive option, we have surrendered all dignity, self-respect, and sanity. Perhaps for the Iranicon, those qualities were never strongly established in his/her character.

Iran is no damsel in distress, and Bush is certainly no dashing hero; those who disagree and almost certainly will email me their vitriol should head to a nearby recruiting station and go enlist in 'liberating Iran' and see how much devotion they earn by shooting and killing their countrymen.

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