Sunday, February 27, 2011

Islamic Japan or Islamic North Korea?

In a recent article, Seyed Mostafa Tajzadeh, argues that despite the election promises by the totalitarian wing of the regime, expressed by the right-winger Haddad Adel, the mismanagement of Ahmadinejad's extremist administration, corruption, meddling of the armed forces in the election and the atmosphere of detention and oppression after the election, has diminished Iran's international credibility in foreign policy and public perception. He warns that if the current pace of events continues, Iran will be increasingly approaching a North Korean model.

In the introduction of this article, Tajzadeh draws attention to a passionate letter he wrote last year, apologizing to Iranians for having been part of the power structure that had swept under the rug the dangers of extremism and intolerance lurking in layers of post revolution structures. (here's that letter in Persian and here's a synopsis in English).

That letter got him in trouble and he writes that his interrogators took the letter as a sign of mental illness of Tajzadeh and his reformist friends, advising them to seek treatment: "You and your ilk have taken the American threat all these years so serious that you need an Urologist." [!]

Tajzadeh, of course, takes pride in his party's approach to taking the American threats serious, and the initiation of the "Dialogue of civilizations" that would simultaneously promote Iran's development and keep the American threat at bay.

Instead, the Ahmadinejad's camp have on the one hand undermined the seriousness of the American threat, have undertaken adventurist approaches, have militarized every detail of the nation's affairs and thus have rendered the government inefficient, and have given priority to violation of the civil rights of the Iranians. This, for the reformists is an irresponsible act that has jeopardized the independence, integrity, national interest, national security and national growth.

Tajzadeh argues that the conservatives in Iran have proven in action that they do not consider the American government to be their enemy, rather the democracy in Iran (he will later explain the rationale behind this democracy-phobia in parallel to North Korea's). He draws attention to the failure of calculations of the conservatives: they had bet that American sanctions would not happen; they did. They had bet that the nuclear dossier would not be sent to the security council, it was. That the sanctions will not have any effect, but the lower income Iranians have been carrying the burden. Further, they (conservatives) had to bribe Turkey and Brazil with an indefensible contract to prevent the passage of the recent resolution (something that even the interrogators could not defend).

Tajzadeh then draw attention to how it is the recent violation of the human rights in Iran that is making the American threats particularly dangerous. He cites a poll by PEW, showing the 'growth' of unpopularity of Iran in public opinions (see picture below, I am not sure if this is the poll he is referring to, though); and draw attention to how General Petraeus had once told Fareed Zakaria that Ahmadinejad was the best recruiter of forces in their [neoconservative/pro-Israeli, pro-Saudi] camp. (see the video below, the phrase is at minute 6:58.)

To support his argument that Iran is turning into a North Korea, he reminds that the North Korean model is one that emphasizes absolute political independence, economic self-sufficiency and military self-reliance; a system which enforces itself by its rulers repeatedly warning of external threats, and thus tolerates the rule of only one party, as diversity will make the country vulnerable. Although the goal of 'liberating the Southern half" from American occupation is the ultimate dream, North Koreans blame their failure to match South Korea in economic growth on the conspiracy and espionage of the Imperialists, on the internal opposition to socialism and on imperialist infiltrators who want to break up the system. In North Korea, freedom does not apply to individuals, but to a country in terms of its independence and it can only be achieved under a one-party rule.

Tajzadeh notes that despite the religious slogans, the rest of the state propaganda considers nuclear technology the "only" achievement of the Islamic republic, and any criticism is responded to as an act of treason, animosity , conspiracy and Zionism! Tajzadeh reminds that North Korea has made significantly more 'advances' in the nuclear and space technology than Iran has, but it has also been proportionally more oppressive in categorizing its populate to 'friend', 'enemy' and 'infiltrator'!!!

So why am I bothering with summarizing this article?

First, because it opens a little window into what this whole brutality in Iran is really about; why the reformists and the conservatives are in this bloody dog fight. I believe this makes the outsiders better appreciate the difference between the current rulers of Iran and the previous ones who are now all in prison; or kidnapped!!!

Secondly, I think it is important to recognize that the Iranian regime is deadly serious about its paranoia about the surrounding enemies. Listening to Petraeus video makes it clear why they should worry. But it also makes you realize why many Iranians are worried that Ahmadinejad is in fact the one who is endangering Iran.

And third, keep in mind that the notion of Islamic Japan is a promise that despite all sanctions and economic stagnations make Iranians work towards becoming a developing country. In the mind of the current leaders of Iran, nuclear technology is what will keep international pressure away, give Iran bargaining power, and help it become India or China, if not Japan!

Even as we watch nervously the dangerous direction our country is heading at, we are investing, we are building, we are buying. Truth is, Iranians by and large do not respect any of their governments. The country in some ways is an anarchist state! Look at what just happened: two statesmen have gone missing, and no one bothers to do anything about it. I do have some 'optimist' suspicions and some theories about what may be happening behind the scenes; but because I have been so WRONG in everything I have hoped this regime may do resembling 'right', I keep my thoughts to myself until a clearer picture emerges.

It's amazing the tendency human has fro inventing hope.

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