Slater Bakhtavar has an awesome name, but a terrible argument [President Bush? Yes!]. I am sitting here kind of baffled as to how to even begin to give a respectful critique of this factually suspect piece. The first of many problems with this article is that Slater makes broad and careless arguments without even bothering to back them up:
“Those who would replace President Bush are working to… shore up the enemies of America and the Iranian populace, the extremists in control of Iran. To them, nothing matters more than taking power in this country, even if they have to prevent democracy from taking root in Iran.”
This is a groundless and naïve argument to make. I've actually read about Kerry's strategy for Iran and I thought that I'd throw in this quote from johnkerry.com:
“For too long, America has not led, and Iran's program has advanced. Let me say it plainly: a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. I believe we must work with our allies to end Iran's nuclear weapons program and be ready to work with them to implement a range of tougher measures, if needed. Developing an international coalition enhances our influence by ensuring that all nations are united in the effort, leaving no room for Iran to play allies against one another.”
Thus, Kerry calls for international cooperation and action; in addition, he cited the Syria Accountability Act as a possible model for action towards Iran. To say that the Democrats will support “any radical group” for political gain is an outright lie; once again, Slater doesn't bother to back up what he says, just the same as when he says Kerry condemns support for Iranian student protestors. Is this being factually careless or deliberately deceptive?
Next, Slater's argument about Republican foresight for the USSR: Democrats and Republicans alike were against the Soviet Union, but the Democrats advocated an approach based on supporting human rights and the Reagan administration drained the US budget on useless projects like Star Wars.
Truth be told, today Eastern Europe is not exactly the model of democracy for the rest of the world: many of those former Soviet republics are riddled with corruption, poverty, and some are thinly disguised authoritarian governments.
For example, in Belarus, entrenched President Lukashenko recently fulfilled a bid to change the constitution and run an unlimited number of times for President, while simultaneously attacking his critics and opposition leaders in what is shaping up to be another Peru under Fujimori. In fact, perhaps the only growing sector of Eastern European economies are EU subsidies and mail-order brides.
Slater's obvious lack of understanding or knowledge about US history or the Democratic platform doesn't come close to his historical amnesia about how much harm was done to Iranians under Republican governments. The C.I.A. coup against Mossadegh was carried out under Eisenhower; Reagan presided over Iran Contra and started to go senile right around the time he had to go on trial and testify for that despicable act. No amount of love letters from L.A. Iranian student organizations to President Bush erases those actions.
The “historically” Republican Iranian-American community that Slater is undoubtedly part of and refers to in his article is the same community that had to run for its life because basically all the groups involved in the Revolution, Muslim or leftist, and yes, 'mainstream' Iranians too, were going to take them down.
By no means would I say that Iranian-Americans throughout America are mostly conservative when one looks at the Midwest, Bay Area, or New York area. My personal opinion is that if anybody is “shoring up” or creating enemies for the US, it's the guy who sat around picking his nose in the Oval Office before September 11th before declaring a war similar in philosophy to our enormously successful “war on drugs”.
One last point: these articles suck. The doublespeak of Iranian Bushies is almost as good as the doublespeak coming from Bush himself. Why do Iranian Republicans believe the stammering promises of known liar who makes policy decisions based on prayer rather than pragmatism? (See New York Times Magazine, “Without a Doubt” 10/17/04)
Bush's campaign preys on the fear of Americans, and it seems on the desperation of Iranians. So people like Slate get easily excited, suspend disbelief and try to whip up support for a man who has promised paradise in Baghdad and has delivered us Fallujah instead. The most annoying and deliberately equivocal rhetoric of this guy is at the end of his article.
After spending 10 odd paragraphs singing of the rapture between Iranians and Bush, Bush's positions, and painting static and flat superficial stereotypes of Democrats and “the Left” (Slater's political boogeyman), Slater comes through with “Don't get me wrong I'm against direct foreign intervention in Iranian politics.”
Don't bury your head in the sand and stick your disclaimer at the end. If that is the case, the 990 words preceding that sentence are deceptive filler and unnecessary. Slater's political advice to the Iranian community is the rhetorical equivalent of a Big Mac; sure it looks good, but it's full of shit, and not so good for us Iranians.