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How do you spell independence?
Baffling double standards

By An Iranian
August 6, 2003
The Iranian

Over the past few years, there have been numerous announcements of various indigenous weapons systems being developed in Iran, the latest which is the Shahab 3 being deployed by the Revolutionary Guards. While I commend the ingenuity and hard work of my countrymen who are building these (albeit old technology) capabilities in our country, I have come across some interesting reactions whenever we hear about these things (or others, such as the auto industry now vs pre-revolution). I have heard this "logic" from many Iranians, and it is just baffling what a double standard we can have. It goes something like this:

"The Shah was a western puppet and dictator who made us totally dependent on the US, as we would only buy their things and they wouldn't give us the plans to enable us how to make it, and if their people left all of their things we bought would be inoperable. This government on the other hand, has made us much more independent, (even though we might get *some* help from the North Koreans and Chinese, and therefore we are more able to stand on our own and not be puppet to those imperialist criminal Americans."

One cannot help but react with some very serious questions:

1- If we were so dependent on the US, how could our armed forces operate the most sophisticated US aircraft and weaponry for *8* years in the face of embargo, purges, and internal strife? Did we just send all the "Shah's puppets" home or to execution, and suddenly some hezbollahi pilots and technicians appeared that magically just operated this stuff with Allah's help? Or did the North Koreans and Chinese come and hold our revolutionary hands for us and get these things flying?

2- Is it unreasonable for US companies to not want to give away military secrets? We had some weapons so advanced that even NATO didn't have access to, is the US imperialist for not just handing over all the F-14's blueprints and secrets to us? Even the "downgraded" equipment (in many cases this meant "not nuclear capable") was way better than the competition's products.

3- Could it be that maybe, just maybe one reason that the Chinese and North Koreans are willing to sell us technology as well as the goods is that the technology is 40-50 years old? That perhaps if they actually had something worth selling that they wouldn't need to give such a "concession" to get people to actually pay money for their junk? The "downgraded" equipment we got from the US 30 years ago is still much better than the junk we get from China and North Korea today, even if we have the capability to buy more of that junk ourselves.

I just don't understand why when the Shah would buy the latest and greatest technology and expertise that money could buy, he was a "puppet" and buying "ahan pareh", and it was only so he could collect some bribes. Even if he built factories to assemble helicopters or aircraft, it is quickly discounted as "montage" and not a "real industry".

But when the turban-headed "experts" (who know so much that we should all copy and obey them) buy garbage (that nobody other than Bangladesh and African countries would buy), we are "independent"? Just because with it we got the ability to make more of the same garbage ourselves? btw, I wonder how much "commision" Mr. Rafsanjani and the other "experts" took for themselves-oops- I mean for Allah- in these deals?

When are we going to realize that as late as 1965, we were a very poor country with barely anything, and we were dependent on foreign aid? In the 14 years that followed, we became one of the most advanced and fastest growing economies of the middle east (as well as Asia), and were well positioned to become a major player in petrochemical, automotive, aviation, and many other industries?

We had the best higher education in the middle east, and students who couldn't study in it were able to go to the best universities in the world and study. Many of those same universities today form the backbone and core of our technical capabilities, they still produce fine graduates who make us proud, and they had a lot to do with any of the technical advances made in our country. We truly came a long way.

With all this investment that happenned, and the billions of dollars of foreign currency and surplus and oil industry and infrastructure that the mullahs inherited, they are saying that after 24 years, since we make low tech weapons and are able to refurbish and rebuild 30 year old aircraft, we are independent and on our own feet? Meanwhile if Turkey or the Caspian basin countries challenge us in a region which is the most vital for Iran in the coming century, we can't do anything! What kind of strong independent country is this?

In 1975 on the Shatt-al-Arab. Iraqi tanks tried to cross and assert control over the eastern side of the river (as they claimed they owned due to historical agreements). The IIAF destroyed the entire force immediately in a matter of 20 minutes. Most of us never even heard of this incident. Iraq was then forced to sign the 1975 Algiers accord, which they were only able to break once the mullahs came to power and almost destroyed the Iranian Armed Forces.

When Iranians surprised the entire world and were actually able to defend ourselves with such huge sacrifice and dedication and sufferring, the mullahs screwed up again. Once again they opened their big mouth and insisted on going to Baghdad, without ever considering the question- "with WHAT?" This directly resulted in the desperate and unconditional support of most of the world for Saddam, making him the chemical and biological monster that he became.

I would like to know, which of the two regimes did a better job of keeping the peace and maintaining the security of our country against our foreign challengers and enemies? What should the Shah have done with regards to the US? Just said to the US "Look, I don't want to be perceived as a puppet, so I won't buy weapons from you. I want to be independent like Switzerland. I'll go make my own copies of Chinese copies of inferior Russian equipment"?

How well do you think that would have worked? How long would we have lasted without American support before the Soviet invaded us instead of Afghanistan? Would the Soviets have even bothered with Afghanistan if Iran did not have a strong military alliance with the US? In 1965, Iran was completely dependent on the US for its defence (and just about everything else). By 1979, Iran was the police of the region, and could have resisted a Soviet invasion with quite a bit of force before ultimately relying on US help.

For the past several hundred years Iran has suffered from a weak military and central government and this situation caused us to lose the Caucasus and much of Central Asia during 2 Russo Persian wars during the Ghajars. I am not a monarchist, but I will give credit where it is due. As an Iranian, I am thankful to the Pahlavis for at least getting us through the cold war and the turmoil of the middle east and the indo-pakistani wars (all around us was war!!) without ever having to know the horrors of war and the humiliation of defeat.

By contrast I will never forgive Khomeini who gave us the dubious distinction of having the longest (and one of the bloodiest) wars of the 20th century, as well as the humiliation of defeat and destruction at the hands of the Arabs. For sending 14 year olds to walk on mines because he absolutely insisted that we must have an Islamic government in Iraq. Of course his house was surrounded by anti aircraft weapons and his sons never went anywhere near the war front. Even Saddam's dreaded butcher son fought in the war!

Furthermore, we are quick to condemn America since it committed all these crimes in Vietnam, and other parts of the world so we should have nothing to do with them. But somehow we have no problem dealing with China, Russia, and North Korea, all of whom have committed GENOCIDE, in many cases against muslims.

Look at Russia in Chechniya and Afghanistan and Georgia, or China in Tibet and Tiananmenn square or against its own muslim population, or North Korea who lets its people starve while developing a huge army and nuclear weapons to intimidate S. Korea. Not to mention France, who killed 1 million Algerians (that's right, muslims), and was one of the most staunchest allies of Iraq agains Iran. (remember the Super Etendards, Mirages, etc.)

I am sick of double standards. If we Iranians cannot agree and be united on anything, at least let's be fair and objective when we make our arguments.

I hope one day we have a democracy in Iran. But democracy has prerequisites. It is very important for all of us to reflect on this as the 50th anniversary of Dr. Mosaddegh approaches. Democracy is not just elections and majority rules. It requires institutions and checks and balances and above all, a certain culture. A culture which allows debate and discussion between parties of opposite views in a civil fashion.

I ask all Iranians in this important point in our history to really look back and try to be objective and be fair by applying the same standard to different regimes and movements in our history.

May we one day have freedom, and may the truth come out.

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