Since Soraya's blog was shut for unknown reasons, I will post my answer here. I will also start by posting your Original Entry.
Mammad Wrote:Peaceful changes in Iran
by Mammad on Fri Jun 06, 2008 09:09 PM CDT
I had decided that I would not respond to you, because, in my view, you are only interested in "winning" an argument, rather than debating, learning, and teaching. A person who is interested in winning only would be willing to say anything to win. However, I decided to respond to this comment of yours, because, aside from your usual slogans, misrepresentation, etc., you asked a good question: How do I think change must come to Iran.
Over the past two weeks I have published two articles about Iran on the internet and in print. In these article I have discussed my thoughts about how to make changes in Iran.
1. So long as there is an external threat to Iran's national security, the hardliners will use it to suppress all the groups that want deep changes for the better in Iran. This is what happens in any country under similar conditions. After the 9/11 events the Bush administration shoved down our throats the Patriotic Act, started eavesdropping on US citizens, checking mails and internet. Most critics of invasion of Iraq were silenced by attacks as unpatriots, etc. This is too well-known to ignore. Only when all the lies and deceptions became clear, the antiwar movement recovered. The same is true about Iran.
Therefore, the first step is removal of the threat. That is, preventing US military attacks on Iran.
2. Once the threat is diminished, the real work starts. Civil society groups, NGO, political parties, etc. should be built in Iran. They already exist, but only in embryonic state. We have labor movement, university student movement, feminist movement, reinterpretation of secondary Islamic teachings movement, etc. These are the backbone and pillars for building a democratic movement.
3. Political discipline should emerge. Political parties should accept members, and party discipline should be developed, which means a person who is a member of political party A would vote for the candidates of political party A. Again, these exist but in embryonic state.
4. The West should lift all sanctions on Iran. It is clear that they won't sell Iran weapons, but there is no reason for 95% of the present sanctions. A thriving economy that helps build up Iran's middle class will be a great help. Sanctions only hurt ordinary people. Sanctions can also lead to war, as in the case of Iraq.
5. People-to-people exchanges, NGO-to-NGO exchanges, should increase between Iran and the West. This would help preventing development of lies and exaggerations about Iran, which would contribute to peace.
6. As these are established, the democratic movement gets stronger. Then,
(a) The first goal should be the illegal aspects of what is done in Iran, within the present constitution. Vetting of the candidates for elections by the Guardian Council must be abolished. Revolutionary courts and the special courts for the clergy must be abolished. The Cultural Revolution Council must be abolished. The press law should go back to what it was 10 years ago, which was much better than today's. etc.
(b) Once these goals are achieved, then demands for deeper changes come to the surface. The authority of the Rahbar should become limited. The commander-in-chief of the armed forces must be the elected president. The Ministry of Intelligence must be controlled by the president. The military must become depoliticized. Rahbar should be elected by popular vote for a fixed period of time.
(c) Once these are achieved, the demands for the next and final changes come up: There is no need for Rahbar and it must be abolished.
(d) Demanding for any of these changes does exclude demands for the others, but a movement must have realistic achievable goals, not idealistic positions.
7. So, unlike many, I do not expect deep changes to come over night. It has to be done step-by-step. Development of democracy is a process, not a project that starts on a specific date and ends on a specific date. We have struggled for democracy since the 19th century. We can wait another 5-10 years.
8. Unlike you, I do not believe in superficial alliances or coalitions of various groups in exile. Alliance or colation, whether tactical or strategic, should be based on a minimum set of mutually acceptable principles. Just opposing the IRI is not enough. In exile, most are opposed to the IRI; it is a given. Therefore, there has to be more ground than that for alliance or coalition. For a republican like me, it is impossible to be in a coalition with monarchists.
9. I am not naive about the process. Clearly a price must be paid. When Akbar Gangi goes to jail for six years, he has demonstated that he is willing to pay the price. When Shirin Ebadi is constantly threatened, but continues her work, she indicates that she is willing to pay the price. The issue is not having any loss, or jail, or not getting hurt.. The question is MINIMISING the loss.
Now, you can view me any way you want. I absolutely do not care, and respect your opinion. But, if you want to respond, it has to be in a respectful way, without accusation, labeling, sarcasm, wisecracking, etc. It also must be without "gotchyu". People can make honest mistake. People can honestly forget something that they might have said or done in the past. That should not be an excuse to jump on them. It has to be without slogans. This is supposed to be a serious debate.
If you can do it, I'll respond. If not, I won't respond.
I RESPONDEDQuestion For Mammad
by AnonymousHaha on Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:28 PM CDT
I have a fews questions.
1) Can you name an instance in history where a governments grip on society such as the IRI's was removed by all the steps you proposed? I am talking about a governments that we could classify as dictatorships,semi fascist or totaleterian.
Please exclude the soviet union as it does not count for various reasons.
2) If you do find such an instance in history, did it take 10 to 15 years as you indicate below? If not 10-15 years, how long did it take?
3) During the Khatami years, there were no sanctions and the so called "conservatives", with amazing ease, silenced the so called "reformist" in no time. Assuming sanctions are lifted, what mechanism will gaurantee your second step below i.e " Civil society groups, NGO, political parties, etc. should be built in
Iran" to insure we have a viable "democratic movement" as you propose. Specifically, how will the Basijis, revolutionary gaurds and the Bonyads who rely so much on the system as it is now will be persuaded, peacfully, to give up their power and influence and control of Iran's resources?
Mammad Responded:Answers for AnonymousHaha
by Mammad on Sat Jun 07, 2008 09:34 AM CDT
1. The best example is south Africa. Although South Africans struggled to get rid of apartheid for a long time, but it was only in late 1970s that the political organizations and other necessities that I described were ready to take on the regime. By 1990 the regime was gone.
2. Why does the Soviet Union not count? The movement for change was born in 1983. It existed before, but when Mikhail Suslov became the leader, it became strong. By 1988-1989 it had changed the system.
3. Czechoslovakia in 1967-1968. In less than a year we had the Prague Spring, full of freedom. It was only the Soviets' tanks that crushed it.
4. The Solidarity movement in Poland: In less than a decade not only the communist dictatorship was gone, it also triggered changes in the rest of Eastern Europe.
5. Argentina: The Generals overthrew the democratic government in 1976 (with the US blessing), and started a campaign of terror. By 1983 the regime was gone. Argentina has been a democracy ever since. It happened mainly through the efforts of political groups, and in particular mothers of those killed or disappeared.
6. Chile: In this case it took 17 years, but that was only because General Agusto Pinoche, with the US blessing, continued to use a campaign of intimidation, and the democratic movement did not want violence, just the way I described.
How many more do you want? I can give you a long list.
You also mis-stated the Khatami era, because,
1. Full sanctions against Iran were imposed in 1995, announced by Bill Clinton at a meeting of AIPAC.
2. When Khatami was elected, the US was actually ready to attack Iran, over the allegations, never proven, that Iran had a role in Khobar explosions.
3. The Khatami era was the embryonic stage. Yes, political "parties" did exist, but only superficially, since they did not, and still do not, have large membership, there was, and there still is, no party discipline, and NGOs only started to form. In fact, the reformists did not even have a program of change; they were not ready to lead.
4. There was not, and there still is not, the type of extensive people-to-people exchanges that I am talking about. The best evidence for it is the admission by Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary, who said just three weeks ago that a lot of Americans should go to Iran to become more familiar with Iran.
People like me, who are at major research universities in the US, accept excellent Iranian students to come here to do Ph.D. every year, but they often do not get visa, purely because they are Iranian. This year, I have accepted three new students to join my research group, all outstanding students. Let's see how many of them get visa. Last year, I accepted four, only one of them got visa, AFTER A ONE YEAR DELAY FOR SECURITY CHECKS! ONE YEAR!
Now that I have responded to you, and have also described the way I believe people should organize, why don't you enlighten us with your way of doing things. Why don't you describe your way. I like to read it.
MY FINAL RESPONSE FOR Mammad:
1) You list South Africa as the "best example". However, South Africa was under intense international sanctions and pressure. Much more intense than Iran is now. So Your best example is disqualified because of the reasons you yourself gave i.e. No Sanctions should be imposed on the IRI. More importantly, South Africa proves the exact opposite of what you claim i.e. that if you put intense sanctions (which will not work in the IRI case becase to many people want the oil) it will help the opposition.
2) Soviet Union does not count because it went bankrupt on its own while in competition with the USA and could no longer support its sattelite states. Does the IRI control multiple states? The Soviet Union was an Empire- No comparison to the IRI.
3) All the Other countries you listed may be an example but they all are missing one ingredient that the IRI has. OIL. The IRI has been surviving on oil. The Checz, Poles, Argentina did not have black gold to support them (Checz & Poles were Soviet sattelites as well). The IRI has lots of it and can pay off enough people to survive as an entity as long as it wants to while the oil is around. Why give up power when you can control so much money?
You failed to answer how these entities that sprang from the Islamic Revolution, which have so much power and influence, will give up power (Bonyads, Basij & Revolutionary Gaurds) when they are in control of all these petro dollars.
You somehow wish for all these different miracle like steps to take place (LIKE THE BIG BANG THEORY) for these power centers suddenly to give up their power through social arm twisting and debate without resort to the use of force.
And off course You and Q blame everything on the US (and the west). How convenient! Even the Khatami years you blame on US Sanctions? Come on Mammad. Is there anything you don't blame on the US and Zionists?
The only ammusing thing here is that Prof. Stephen Shalom was my Poli Sci professor at William Paterson. I had him for two classes. Very nice guy and very smart. It was all during the First Gulf War. I did not agree with him on many of the issues. The faculty at William Paterson (which also consisted of many ultra lefty loons and admitted communists) had decided and declared that Saddam had every right to invade Kuwait. It was fun listening to them.
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