Iran So Far Away from Democracy?

broadOkay okay. You know I had to get that joke out of my system. Let it go just this once.

But seriously, there is rebellion afoot in Persia these days, as mass protests in Iran were planned to transpire further this week and to possibly even last throughout the entire summer. Many of the demonstrators have worn green, the color of the movement opposing hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Their champion is moderate Presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, whom they claim was cheated out of his quest to replace Ahmadinejad as Iran's figurehead-in-chief. Of course, as everybody knows, no matter who wins, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains in charge with the title of Supreme Leader. The Ayatollah and the clerical governing body known as the Guardian Council (the members of which the Ayatollah himself appoints) have final say over all decisions that the president makes. It's kind of like if it didn't matter who was president of the United States (Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.) because Dick Cheney and his cursed cabal of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al. always ran the show. So now you get an idea of how shitty their situation is.

The main problem is that the protesters are focused too narrowly on ejecting Ahmadinejad from office when the focus should be on deposing Khamenei and the Council from power. In a country where 70% of the  population has not reached 30 years of age, the vast majority have no clue what life was like before the 1979 Revolution. There should be a movement to set the clock back to 1953 and reinstate most of the Constitutional principles of Iran's original democracy. You see, Iran at one time was a fully-functioning free society until their prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq was toppled in a US and British governments-sponsored coup d'etat. Mossadeq's crime was an attempt to nationalize the oil industry, which would have disenfranchised all those poor wealthy oil corporations. Can't those greedy multinational conglomerates catch a break for Christ's sake?! This move was nonetheless viewed by the Eisenhower Administration as tantamount to SOCIALISM (cue spooky organ music).

The CIA planned and executed the whole affair, then installed the Shah as Iran's new leader. The Shah brutally repressed hisayatollah people and whored out its oil and business interests to the West until the Iranian Revolution of 1979 threw him out of power and installed the theocracy that directs Iran today. For all the rhetoric you hear about the United States revering democracy and human rights, there will always stand vivid proof that it cares not for freedom, but its own self-interest. America tossed out a secular, fairly elected Middle East leader due to the Red Scare and financial benefit. We are indirectly culpable for the hostage crisis, the nascent nuclear program, the funding of the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon and Israel. Our mistaken forays into empire building don't just hurt the people we occupy; we sting ourselves in the ass as well, whether immediately or down the line.

President Obama has gingerly approached the recent election uproar, only making broad proclamations to let the Iranian people's voices be heard and their votes be counted. This might be the right tact, as the Ayatollah and the state-controlled media would paint the Green Revolution as pro-American and beholden to foreign interests. Republicans who clamor for more action on Obama's part must learn that less is sometimes more.

Dissidents have been beaten and murdered by the government to quell the uprising and censorship of Twitter, text messaging and the internet in general has been met with mixed success. The foreign media has been banned from the country, yet footage of the carnage continues to leak online. The protestors have the sympathy of the international community and the wind at their backs at this point in time. But the consensus within the administration is that there is no point in getting involved since the protestors are only going after Ahmadinejad and not forthrightly calling for the downfall of the Ayatollah.

protestMousavi, a former prime minister, has made the most upfront challenge to the rule of the clerical establishment since it's ascension three decades ago. He had made campaign promises such as disbanding the morality police, which enforced social sanctions on the citizenry, promoting privately-owned media and removing control of law enforcement from under the Ayatollah's auspices and into the president's jurisdiction. Yet, it's hard to imagine any scenario in which the Khamenei would have allowed him to do carry through with even a few of those vows. He wouldn't readily give up any of his powers under any conceivable circumstance.

The movement, however, will have to contemplate who their real enemy is since other civil insurrections have been quelled in Iran and abroad. It would be quite a shame if this moment in history were to become the Iranian equivalent of Tiananmen Square. With the current system of governance remaining in command and a more severe crackdown possibly imminent, the Iranian people will have to realize that the Ayatollah is the ultimate enemy and a not-so-fabulous mullah.

Shut up. I still had one horrible pun left in me. Get over it.




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