Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Iran Comment

This is worth keeping, from a book review, NY Review of Books, via 3Quarks...
Curious readers can look up the details.
The content is what caught my eye:

There are still some in the United States who hope that Iranians will rise up and overthrow the mullahs. They even imagine that American intervention, in the form of either a full-scale invasion or air strikes against nuclear facilities, might set off such an uprising. That is an illusion. Iranians learned a bitter lesson after they overthrew the Shah: that no matter how bad life may be, a revolution can always make it worse. They will not start another one.

That leaves the options of military intervention or diplomatic engagement. The modern history of nations as different as South Korea, Russia, and South Africa suggests that when the United States engages countries politically and economically, they move toward democracy. Countries that the United States treats as pariahs, like Cuba, do not. By subjecting Iran to constant denunciation and unilateral sanctions, American leaders are making the transition to democracy there more difficult. [Have we heard this before? Hmmmm?]

One of my Iranian friends, a graduate student in his twenties, recently wrote this to me:
The US government is helping Iran's government with its continuing hostility....

Every time the State Department or White House speaks about human rights conditions in Iran, our government uses this against reformers. It says that reformers are supported by the United States. Many reformers are in jail because of these accusations. Many newspapers have been closed. The United States should be concerned about Iran's problems, but this policy is hurting the reform movement. Non-intervention is the best help the United States can give to Iran's people.

This is no longer a radical or marginal view. Last year a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and chaired by two prominent members of the American foreign policy establishment, former CIA director Robert Gates and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, recommended "a revised strategic approach to Iran." In their report they concluded:

It is in the interests of the United States to engage selectively with Iran to promote regional stability, dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, preserve reliable energy supplies, reduce the threat of terror, and address the "democracy deficit" that pervades the Middle East.... A basic statement of principles, along the lines of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqu̩ signed by the United States and China, could be developed to outline the parameters for USРIranian engagement, establish the overarching objectives for dialogue, and reassure relevant domestic political constituencies on both sides.

There is every possibility that in time, Iran will return to the democratic course from which the United States so violently forced it in 1953. If Americans allow events there to proceed at their own pace, they will finally see the result for which they hope. It is also the result most Iranians want: an Iran that respects the will of its people and helps to stabilize a dangerously unstable region. By lending their support and power to the European negotiating effort, Americans might reach a "grand bargain" with Iran that would address not only the nuclear issue but also concerns about human rights, terrorism, and Middle East security. Without active American participation, these negotiations are unlikely to achieve anything important.

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