It's been 50
years already! Move on, as other countries have
By An Iranian
August 19, 2003
I don't need to remind the readers that today is
the 50th anniversary of the tragic demise of the first democratic
in Iranian history at the hands of the CIA and oil interests of
the West and the enemies of democracy at home.
But rather than repeat what has been repeated for
49 years now, as an Iranian I would like us to ask ourselves some
Hopefully answering (or at least thinking about) these just might
help us pick up where we left off some day.
There are two very important parts to this anniversary:
was defeated, and the struggle for democracy is a difficult and
sometimes lonely and seemingly hopeless one, and
2- It was 50 years
Basically, we cannot trust anybody to do our work
for us, and even to not directly oppose us in our quest for advancement.
But I won't
harp on that, for we Iranians by now are well known for our mistrust
(well placed, I might add) of foreign powers.
So I must bite the
bullet and ask the difficult and touchy question which tends to
get asked less: "Is there something needing
improvement with us and the way our society views democracy?"
Now wait, before you start flaming me and calling me a Zionist,
racist, anti-Iranian, or an American puppet, I ask you to
humor me for a minute.
The CIA and its "allies" allegedly
spent a couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring back
that really all it took? And if so, was Dr. Mosaddegh's administration
standing on strong ground domestically? Honestly, could the CIA
have overthrown Khomeini's government 25 years later for the
same amount (even if one adjusts for inflation)?
Of course, we have
all heard the answer already-Khomeini's rise
was a direct result of the intervention by the CIA in 1953 against
Iran's democracy and its continued support for the Shah, and the
radicalism that followed can be traced back to that treachorous
But the CIA did similar (if not worse in some cases)
interventions and supported equally (if not more brutal) regimes
in other places,
such as the Phillipines, Chile, and South Korea. All these countries
are secular democracies today with good human rights records
and even have good relations with the United States that are
on mutual respect and interests. They are not terrorist countries,
do not have sanctions, and are not puppets of anybody. They have
less natural and human and other resources than we do. They just
moved on, that's all.
Why did not the Chileans, South Koreans, and Filipinos turn their
pent up energy of opposition to the oppressor into a radical
Islamic movement? We Iranians, on the other hand, concentrated
or fundamentalist Islamic ideologies (sometimes even mixed the
two), and the "democratic" opposition was a minority.
Why is that? What did they do right and what did we do wrong?
Could our "intellectuals" and "educated" have
possibly erred in their judgement?
If the West had just stood aside like the nice guys we would
like them to be, what challenges would Dr. Mosaddegh have faced
in the years following 1953? Would the clergy just quietly have
stepped aside and not insisted on having Islamic as opposed to
secular law? In the inevitable showdown, who would have won?
When the Soviets would have tried to invade us like
they did Afghanistan, how would this challenge have been met without
military relation with the US? Would the communist party have
been allowed to operate?
These are complicated questions with
complicated answers. Unfortunately, however, we have always followed
a person and have looked for
a cult like figure, a "pahlevan" who single handedly
and magically saved us and impressed our enemies. This phenomenon
among the monarchists as well as the opposition, and yes, even
the democratic opposition. One can see this in very subtle ways,
some elevate Dr. Mosaddegh higher than the ideals of democracy
themselves, which I think is a disrespect to the late Dr. Mosaddegh.
to change our way of thinking from "who should come to power" to "what
type of system should we have". The latter is not as exciting
and involves more boring and hard work, but that is what is needed
to build a democratic system.
I am happy to see things getting much better with the newer generation
in Iran, in the way they organize, the things they say, and the
maturity and tolerance that they show. This is indeed very encouraging
and we have come a long way. But where are the millions of people
in the streets supporting the students today (who in my opinion
are no less than Dr. Mosaddegh in their commitment to democracy)?
Where is the immense organization and unity of the
expatriate Iranian communities in defense of our students? (They
whether or not they like NITV) Both these ingredients were
there for Khomeini in 1979, why not for democracy (and not
in 2003? We have come a long way, but I fear we still have
a long way to go.
The world is not a fair place and the superpowers
were never and will never be exercising their power other than
We can't change that. But reflecting on the last 50 years,
I think there is a lot about ourselves and the way we deal
world that we can change that would strenghten the chances
of a future democracy. We cannot keep blaming the events
of 50 years
ago for our failures today.
As we join together and commemorate
this tragic and dark chapter in our modern history, I think one
of the best ways
honor Dr. Mosaddegh and the democratic movement in our
country is to
move beyond the blame game and honestly ask ourselves these
questions, and to think hard about what we can do to pave
the way for a
modern, democratic Iran. I believe Dr. Mosaddegh was a
man ahead of his time, and I don't want to wait another 50 years.
go ahead, criticize me as much as you want. After all, that is
what democracy is all about!
this page to your friends