Two articles fired me up today. The first has nothing to do with Iran until you look closely:
“For Turks, World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire ended a period of decline and corruption. It is an era which defines their national identity to this day. In the eyes of many, Ottoman leaders needlessly sacrificed their young men to defend Arab lands beyond Turkey’s natural frontiers for the sake of a universal Islamic state”…(After the war a new secular regime)…“built a successful modern nation modeled on the West and generally kept Turkey out of Arab affairs.’
The resemblance to what happened under mullah rule is striking. Among Sunnis, Al Queda pursues a similar goal but with its Capliphate located in Baghdad. Everyone now mocks Khoumeini’s remark, “Economics is for Donkeys” but how many notice how the mullahs’ ignorance of history is just as costly. The Islamic Republic may as well be ruled by chimps using electric cattle plrods to enforce conformity.
Anti-regime ultranationists here share the same grievenance-provoking propaganda and drive to dominate as the mullahs. Any quest for a Greater Iran will have repercussions as fatal as the quest for an Islamist Empire. Promoting xenophobia is central to aggresive policies beyond the borders and is rightly seen as a threat by all targets, including neighbors. Recall what happenen to Nazi Germany in the East, Mussolini in Ethiopia, Milosevic in the former Yugoslavia, and Turkey after World War I. Another myth–that fascist regimes tend to be very effective or modern–was true excusively in Germany and for cultural reasons. Elsewhere the tendency was to preserve backwardness ( Rumania, Hungary, Spain and Portugal) not progress. The Baathist were fascist regimes founded on ultranationalism. What did they do for Iraqis and Syrians?
PART II: THE ORIGINS OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC’S ALIEN BEHAVIOR
“Khomeinists retain the Manichean opposition at the heart of his worldview—above all, Shariati’s conviction that Iran and the broader Islamic world must be cleansed of Western influence. “The Westerners have polluted our world with their capitalism and our religion with their churches,” Shariati seethed. “They obscured and ruined everything we hold dear….How to counter the Western cultural menace?
Note again how hatred of the West is central to the regime. That applies to its culture and its infectious politial ideas. That hatred was shared by Hitler and Stalin both and by all dicators. Stalin actually admired Hitler’s ruthlessness until Operation Barbarossa and the invasion of Russia. Both copied one another’s tactics for oppression and Iran’s ruling mullahs are indebted as well. Khamenei’s problem is lacks special advantages each of those dictators enjoyed. Hitler had popular legitimacy until the regime’s last year. For many reasons, including a far more educated and informed populace and the growth of mass communications technology, Khamenei can’t run a closed system no more than Assad. Like Assad, he remains vulnerable to similar military tactics. Should he go too far, his risk of external intervention is far higher.
Inside Iran, Khomeinism had to contend with a populace that had experienced some five decades of modernization under the previous regime. The things Shariati hated most about the West—“dandyism, dancing, cocktail partying, wine drinking, and sexual freedoms in the name of civilization”—had penetrated broad sections of Iranian society before the Khomeinists could build an Islamic firewall around it. So it had a robust secularist tradition.
In response, the Khomeinists went to war. They incepted the terrorist group Hizballah as a proxy to fight the region’s only non-Muslim sovereign, Israel. Iran soon became the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. Back home, the mullahs targeted intellectuals, women, minorities, and the young, among others. This war, too, caused enormous suffering. Thousands were tortured and executed. Many more were exiled.
It is this catastrophe that stares back at Khomeinism’s standard-bearers today—including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—as they survey the regime’s moral and historical legacy. Their domestic repression and defiance abroad have left them isolated on both fronts.
When serous troubles arise at home, Khamenei dumps the Koran and turns tothe writings of Ali Shariati, the Sorbonne-educated sociologist widely credited as the Islamic Republic’s intellectual architect. Check out the link below to see why.
See: The Sources of Iranian Conduct