Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Situation in Iran

Although I have made a number of comments on Twitter, this is my first foray into blogging about the situation in Iran. The situation is complex. That is part of why I have held off on commenting. I wanted to let at least a little of the dust to settle and see where things might be headed.

Originally, I titled this post "Democracy in Iran", but then I realized that the situation is not strictly limited or even necessarily directly related to democracy, per se.

Personally, I am very reluctant to attempt to categorize the situation in Iran as a true crisis per se, but I'll go along since the situation is in fact one that warrants some level of attention.

First, is there "a" crisis in Iran, or is this merely another crisis, or has Iran been a crisis since 1979? Or maybe the crisis dates from when the Neoconservatives decided that Iran was part of an Axis of Evil? It is unclear, or maybe all of the above.

Ultimately, I do have to say that it is simply too difficult to tell for sure, at this time, due to all of the hype and noise and hysteria that surrounds everything in the West that has to do with Iran.

Let me state some facts, as I seem them:

  • I am a big believer in democracy. There is no better alternative, anywhere.
  • I think all countries should be governed as democracies.
  • I think Iran should be governed as a democracy.
  • I do not think Iran's current government is close enough to being a reasonable democracy.
  • I do not think Iran ever was close enough to being a reasonable democracy, not under the Shah, not before the recent election, not at any time back to 1979 (or before.)
  • I do firmly believe that democracy is a very good thing and that it would be a very good thing if Iran were to develop a reasonable facsimile of a modern democracy. 
  • The limited available evidence strongly suggests election irregularities, but the available evidence does not justify a strong claim that all of the evidence would "hold up in court" as proof of the degree of fraud that is currently claimed.
  • I believe that there was some degree of fraud in the election.
  • I do not know if there actually was enough fraud to change the election results.
  • I believe that the people of Iran have a right to peaceful assembly and protest.
  • I believe that the people of any nation always reserve the right to revolt, if they feel it necessary, but as a last resort. See the language in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
  • I believe it is horribly wrong for the people of any nation to actively encourage (or incite) the people of another nation to revolt. That needs to be a hard decision of the people within a nation, not incited by outsiders.
  • I believe that the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby is a major factor inciting opposition to Iran in the West, especially in the U.S.
  • I do believe that Iranian-American expatriates are also a major factor inciting opposition to Iran in the West, especially in the U.S.
  • I believe that Netroots members and sympathizers are a major factor inciting opposition to Iran in the West.
  • I believe that Netroots promotes a trans-national approach to politics and that makes the situation in Iran appealing to them.
  • I believe that Netroots members and sympathizers are exploiting and taking advantage of the situation in Iran.
  • I believe that Netroots is making the situation worse rather than better. 
  • I do not believe that the U.S. government should be promoting or inciting regime change anywhere, including Iran. There is no firm evidence of current U.S. policy with regard to inciting regime change. There was such a policy to incite regime change in Iran, but there is no clear public record as to whether that policy has been rescinded.
  • I do not believe that citizens of the U.S., including members or sympathizers of Netroots should be promoting or inciting regime change anywhere, including Iran.
  • Throwing rocks in the street is not a peaceful activity.
  • Lighting fires in the street is not a peaceful activity.
  • Using the word "death" (to anyone) in a chant is not a peaceful activity.
  • I do believe that most, a majority, of the protesters in Iran are in fact peaceful.
  • I believe that the evidence is clear that some percentage of the protesters in Iran are in fact non-peaceful.
  • I believe that there are Americans and members or sympathizers of Netroots that are encouraging, even if only indirectly, at least some of the non-peaceful protesting in Iran.
  • I do not know, from the available evidence, what percentage of the citizens of Iran actually agree with the protesters in Iran (or their supporters in the West.) I presume, but do not know, that a significant percentage do support the (peaceful) protesters. How far they want the protesters to go is unknown.
  • I do NOT think that it is at all up to those of us outside of Iran to lobby, promote, encourage, incite or otherwise seek to influence the people (or government) of Iran in how they choose what form of government they feel is best for them.
  • The people of Iran (in Iran) are more than able, and presumably willing, to stand up at any time that they want to pursue whatever form of government that they want. They do not need our help, either as individual or our government.
  • As far as I can tell, the people of Iran do not in any way need my assistance or support or encouragement to pursue their own agenda with regard to governance.
  • I do support President Obama and his team as they work through the issues concerning Iran.
  • I do not agree with any Netroots members or sympathizers who think that they are entitled to have their own foreign policy with respect to the protesters in Iran.
  • The citizens of America do have a right to free speech, but incitement is not a right. Bloggers, and Twitterers, and the users of all forms of social media are certainly entitled to exercise free speech and give their own views, but once again, incitement is not a right. Users of social media need to remain cognizant that there is a line and that they should remain vigilant to avoid crossing over the line from protected speech to incitement.

To reiterate, there is far too much hype, noise, and hysteria surrounding everything in the West that has to do with Iran. That is very unfortunate. What is needed instead is calm and reason.

As far as Iran's so-called "nuclear ambitions", here are some facts as I see them.

  • Iran is a sovereign nation. They do not need the permission of the U.S. to do... anything.
  • I am opposed to the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • I am opposed to Iran or any other nation obtaining nuclear weapons.
  • I am NOT opposed to nuclear energy.
  • I am okay with Iran developing nuclear energy.
  • I am okay with Iran seeking to develop the full fuel cycle for nuclear energy, including refining, enrichment, and reprocessing of spent fuel.
  • Iran, as a sovereign nation, has the right to energy independence and should not be strong-armed into becoming dependent on an external supplier and processor of nuclear fuel.
  • The U.S., EU, Israel, the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby, and others are misguided in attempting to strong-arm Iran into giving up its right to develop nuclear energy.
  • As a sovereign nation, Iran has a right to develop nuclear weapons.
  • The U.S., EU, Israel, et al do not have a right to prevent any sovereign nation from developing nuclear weapons, per se. They can and should seek to dissuade others from developing nuclear weapons, but no sovereign nation has the right to demand that another sovereign nation not develop defenses as they see fit.
  • Many decades of bullying and interference by the U.S. in the Middle East have destroyed U.S. credibility.
  • The U.S. needs to restore its lost credibility in the Middle East. Continued bullying and interference are unhelpful.
  • It is unlikely that Iran can be dissuaded from developing nuclear weapons as long as the U.S. continues to lack credibility as a peaceful nation in the region. The U.S. needs to recognize that fact.
  • I am not convinced that Iran has an active nuclear weapons development program at this time. They may, but that is a poor excuse for the U.S. to continue to stumble on with very poor judgment in the region.
  • I would hope that Iran would not threaten the U.S. or any other country with nuclear weapons.
  • The U.S. always reserves the right to protect itself and that may involve strikes against other countries if those countries threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapon capabilities.
  • Israel also has such sovereign rights of protection.
  • The U.S. is currently doing a fairly poor job of dialing back the fear-mongering rhetoric concerning Iran and any so-called "nuclear ambitions." They need to do much better.

So, what should be done about Iran?

Well, our first order of business is to get our own house in order. Fix the economy, fix the broken financial system, fix the health care system, fix our energy strategy, work on our credibility as a peaceful nation, etc. That would be a start.

The U.S. needs to become an agent of peace in the world and in the Middle East, not an agent of fear as we currently are.

And then and only then should the U.S. (and its loud-mouthed activists) turn any attention on Iran.

Any questions?

-- Jack Krupansky


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