March 5, 2011: The government has long sought to portray itself as a popular democracy, but that veneer is rapidly disappearing. The most recent evidence is the increasing number of prominent Iranians being arrested for openly supporting reform. These prisoners include some religious leaders. The government has, since it took over in the 1980s, been a religious dictatorship, but has always portrayed itself as a government supported by nearly all Iranians. That was never true, and has become less so over the years. In the 1980s, thousands of prominent Iranians were executed or driven into exile. All that was left were those who were true-believers, or at least those who were loyal, or just submissive. These days, there are a lot fewer true-believers, and the government is increasingly paranoid (often with good reason) about the loyalty (to the religious dictatorship) of most Iranians.
A major problem Iran has, at home and abroad, is a tendency to make promises that are not kept, and to cheat. While the West is fascinated, and sometimes terrified, by frequent Iranian press releases describing new weapons, very few of these weapons ever get mass produced, or even enter service. Unfortunately for most Iranians, the same pattern applies with government decisions in general. Thus, according to years of government press releases, Iran should be a paradise for its citizens, yet it is anything but. Corruption, shortages, unemployment and general incompetence are more the no… >>>