Sometimes I get tired of my own nagging about what the U.S. should not do to Iran. No war, no sanctions, no demonizing, no bullying…occasionally, though, I have nightmares where I get exactly what I wish for. Just to make me happy, the U.S. Armed Forces withdraws from the Middle East and Americans turn around and ask me, “Well, Your Royal Nagness, what are we allowed to do?” Being more of a realist in dreams than in waking life, I know that replying with “Nothing” would get me run out of town, tarred and feathered. These cowboys mean business when it comes to their grazing rights in the Middle East. On the other hand they’ll try anything other than “nothing.” So I ask to borrow their president for a couple of weeks.
The cowboys take off their hats and scratch their heads trying to figure this out by themselves and finally they give up. “What do you want him for?” they ask. And I say, “I want him to unite the Iranian opposition in America.” Once that’s done, the Iranian diaspora in the rest of the world will fall in with the rest of the herd.
For years Iranian diaspora leaders have been calling for unity and no one listens. What did they expect? None of them represents all of us. We’re not retarded, and know that if we accept any call we will be tacitly acknowledging the leadership of the caller. The call for unity has to come from a party who is a powerful non-contender with an interest in our being united. Well, I figure Iranian-Americans all have to accept the authority of the President of the United States by force of law. Also, he doesn’t want to be demoted to being the president of Iran, so RP et al don’t have to worry about being double-crossed. And most importantly it is in the interest of the United States to have us take the Iran issue off her hands by dealing with the regime all by ourselves. It costs the U.S. money to go to war, and it’s been a pain keeping the trade-hungry Europeans on the Iran sanctions leash.
At this point in the dream, the cowboys hoot, jeer and ridicule like they do in the movies when they’re drunk. “What do you think our President can do? Diddly,” they spit tobacco and start shooting bullets around my feet. But the saloon preacher steps forward and they stop out of respect for the Lord. Then the preacher explains the mockery by reading a quote from Richard Neustadt’s book about the U.S. presidency.
“ In the early summer of 1952, before the heat of the campaign, President Truman used to contemplate the problems of the general-become-President should Eisenhower win the forthcoming election. “He’ll sit here,” Truman would remark (tapping his desk for emphasis), “and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike-it won’t be a bit like the Army. He’ll find it very frustrating.”
But I know this already. Soon after entering office, a U.S. president learns that “powers” is no guarantee of power. In other words no one listens to him either. As Eisenhower put it later, “I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them…. That’s all the powers of the President amount to.” But that’s exactly the kind of guy we need to unify us!
Neustadt clarifies, “despite his “powers” [the president] does not obtain results by giving orders-or not, at any rate, merely by giving orders. He also has extraordinary status, ex officio, according to the customs of our government and politics….Presidential power is the power to persuade…” In the White House gathering of squabbling Iranian diaspora leaders, the President uses the prestige of his office–not official power, by any means–to get the kids to agree to cooperate. The presidents of democracies don’t spend most of the day signing executive orders and wielding their officially granted powers; they use the weight of the office to persuade squabbling parties to reach compromises. It’s the only way they make things happens. This is how it’s done every day, in waking life.
So now we’ve got a united Iranian disapora in the U.S. big enough to dwarf each fragment of the European-Iranian opposition. By the way, this can’t happen the other way around. There’s no office anywhere in Europe that comes close to the singular prestige and power of the President of the United States. And no!…congresses without a single leader accepted by everyone don’t work, otherwise why would democratic countries have presidents, duh! European-Iranians can choose to fall into the American formation, or become irrelevant. They’re smart enough to make the right choice, and instantly we have a untied disapora Iranian opposition against the regime. So goes the dream.
Will this union be a U.S. puppet? First let’s ask this question: will the opposition inside Iran become a puppet of the huge diaspora union? Definitely! Much as the Iranian-American union absorbed the European groups by virtue of being so large, opposition fragments inside Iran will stick to the main mass like condensing droplets of water because no single group inside Iran can resist the influence and financial power of this legitimately Iranian democratic organization made up of virtually every political hue you can find in Iran—including seculars and anti-regime religious. The domestic fragments that ignore us will be quickly sidelined. But what does it mean to be a puppet of a democratic union made up of Iranians that also represents the views of people inside Iran? Well, it simply means Iranians have achieved a unified democratic opposition. Being your own puppet doesn’t seem so bad.
As to the question of the union being a U.S. puppet, the answer is “No.” We’re not asking for money or guns or UAVs. We’re just asking to borrow the U.S. president to preside over our opposition congress until it can stand on its own democratic feet. After that we can take care of our own financing. Hey, we could even finance our own hit jobs if the IRI tries to play their Mafia game with us. They hit one of our Bakhtiars and we’ll…let’s just say we won’t be nice.
So, cowboys, lend us your president for a fortnight and let him do to Iranian-Americans what he does everyday with any group of rowdy Americans squabbling over grazing land. Saves you cash, saves you lives, saves you a lot of hassle. Worth a try before we start shootin’.