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W is for War - with Iran
Open letter to Iranian-Americans

Qumars Bolourchian
July 22, 2004

Are you sitting down? Bush wants war with Iran.

If that sounds a bit simplistic, that's because it is. I used that phrase because that's the kind of simple-minded ideology we are force-fed by the Bush administration and friends. This is precisely why it is so dangerous for Bush to be given four more years in office. It's not a straight formula and there are many other factors involved, but the bottom line is that Bush is bad for Iran and Iranians no matter where they live.

I'd like to begin with the premise that war with Iran would be wrong and undesirable. However, I know that there are those among the Iranian Diaspora who prefer just that out of some misguided notion that killing thousands of civilians, destroying countless buildings and infrastructure will bring peace and democracy to our beloved land. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If and when there's threat of serious military action against Iran, the vast majority of the population will forget any desire for "democracy" and flock to the Mullahs to defend the country. This in turn will allow Khamenei, Rafsanjani and friends to consolidate power even more, especially given the escalation of economic constraints the US is sure to bring about.

The results would be devastating. The universities would close, so would the borders. People would be forced back on rations and young people would once again be volunteering en-masse to defend their country. The Islam-versus Satan rhetoric and Friday-prayer speeches would once again be respected and used to mobilize the whole nation against an invasion.

People will risk their lives for "Esteghlal, Azadi, Jomhourye Eslami." And can you really blame them? Faced with the choice between being an Islamic Republic with limited rights and being an American colony ruled by Mariam Rajavi, which would you choose?

Some Iranian readers are undoubtedly too young and others were already out of the country, but the fact is that the Islamic republic didn't start out so "Islamic." Khomeini was an old man with many flaws. But from day one he stressed separation of religion and government which, by the way, is emphasized in traditional Shiite doctrine. His original government was to have a non-religious president AND prime minister.

Indeed the first elected governments post-revolution WERE non-religious. Look up Bani-Sadr and Rajai, the IRI's first two presidents. They were no Mullahs. What happened? War happened. The invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein, supported by the majority of the Arabs, almost all Iran's neighbors and both superpowers allowed the most extremist elements of the revolution to take control. Under the guise of "national security" they took away people's rights and put in place Islamic safeguards. They did it, they said, because they had to: Iran's survival was at stake.

It's no surprise that the beginnings of a democratic movement that swept the nation in form of popular and student protest happened when they did. Given the removal of the Saddam threat, the opening of relations with Europe and Clinton mainly ignoring Iran, the Mullah's could no longer justify their grip on power and the people became emboldened and pushed for further freedoms. Things may not have been moving fast, but they were moving.

Is it a coincidence that shortly after US response to 9/11 and "axis of evil", the popular movements for democracy were significantly damaged in Iran? I think not. This exactly what will happen under a second Bush administration. It's unlikely that he would actually invade Iran but he wants to make the IRI as weak as possible for an eventual intervention. Even the Neocons know that Iran, at the moment, is impossible to invade logistically or politically.

They know that the American public, even the Republicans will not go for another costly invasion, this time against a much bigger country with 70 Million people. It's not even USA's style to do it at this point. The Pentagon would likely increase military pressure to weaken Iran and gather intelligence. This is what happened to Iraq for 12 years.

By the end the Iraqi army was so weak and the economy in such shambles that the war was cakewalk. It turned out exactly how US would've wanted it except that hundreds of thousands died in the mean time under the US backed sanctions and then the war itself. Only people with no heart or conscience or perhaps no personal connections would support this kind of misery on the people of Iran.

Thus it's little surprise that the MKO is pushing hard for US belligerence against Iran. Having the most powerful network of Iranian lobbyists in Congress and the most support from the US government, they would be in a prime position to produce an Iranian "Chalabi" or "Alawi." Some members of the house foreign relations committee have repeatedly backed resolutions to remove the MKO - or the more politically correct "National Council of Resistance" (same people) - from the list of state department terrorist organizations and to support their armed "struggle" against the IRI.

It's very typical of the US to choose the one organization with no support inside Iran as a front. What about the recent noise from 9/11 commission regarding Iran's involvement with Al-Qaeda? I believe that this is blown out of proportion by Bush's PR machine in order to score political points and keep the issue alive for a post-election action against Iran. The claims themselves are ridiculous and should be viewed with extreme skepticism as professor Abrahamian recently said on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman.

Iran was at a state of near-war with the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies before 9/11. Osama Bin Laden hates the Iranian Shiite establishment just as much as the US. If he couldn't forge a relationship with the Arabic speaking Sunni leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, there's no way he would be in bed with the Pasdaran. Iran was supporting the Northern Alliance who was killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

The most damning evidence seems to be the fact that these terrorists went to Iran "without receiving a stamp in their passports." Anyone who knows anything about the regions is aware that people smuggle in and out of Afghanistan all the time. The majority of the millions of Afghan refugees who are in Iran now don't even have passports! Billions of dollars in drugs are smuggled into Europe every year from Afghanistan and other places.

Does this mean if the smugglers don't have stamps in their passports than Europeans are collaborating with them? It's ludicrously easy to sneak in a country in the Middle East, use a fake passport or bribe the officials at the border. Almost everyone knows these things. Everyone, except the majority of the American people it seems. And that's all that matters.

Don't get me wrong or call me a "Hezbollahi" please. I'm not a defender of the regime and count myself among those who support unconditional, non-religious, democracy in Iran. But such a situation can't and won't be brought about by the United States, we must realize this. The last time US tried to bring "democracy" to Iranians, it supported Saddam Hussein, a bloodthirsty tyrant at the cost over one million lives, mostly Iranian.

Let's not forget that Saddam couldn't accomplish anything if it wasn't for the US. Let's not forget that the bloody Iran-Iraq war would not have happened or would've likely been settled much earlier, had the US supported actual peace in the region. Let's not forget that Mullahs wouldn't have been able to consolidate power had it not been for the war. And let's not forget that it was these very same people who did that to Iran.

The same exact people who are now running the country supported killing of Iranians under the Reagan administration: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Wolfowitz and Bush's father. Now, they want your vote to bring "democracy" to Iran. I'm under no illusions that Kerry or the democrats are ultimately any better for Iran. But at least I know they don't want another war. Bush does.

Qumars Bolourchian is a freelance writer and photographer living in California.

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