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Monday, January 15, 2007

Leave Iran Alone

He hates Jews, but likes kids

“Leave Us Alone,” Iranian Reformers Say
By Muhammad Sahimi

December 2006 Issue

Back in March, the Bush Administration released its new “National Security Strategy of the United States,” and regime change in Iran leaps out of it as a goal. “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran,” the document baldly states in a grand exaggeration. And for all the recent talk about Iran’s nuclear threat, the document does not confine its discussion of Iran to the nuclear issue. “The United States has broader concerns,” it says. “The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism, threatens Israel, seeks to thwart Middle East peace, disrupts democracy in Iraq, and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom.”

All of these issues, along with the nuclear one, “can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people,” the document states. “This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy.” President Bush and Condoleezza Rice may stress in public that they are giving diplomacy a try, but this document makes clear that they have something else in mind.

If the Bush Administration attacks Iran, it would be violating the U.N. Charter. And it would also be violating the Algiers Accord that the United States signed with Iran in 1981 to end the hostage crisis. Point I, paragraph 1, of that accord states, “The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

Not only is the goal of regime change illegal, it is also unachievable.

“Democracy cannot be imported, nor can it be given to a people by invading their nation, nor by bombing them with cluster bombs. It must be indigenous,” says Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights advocate who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

The Administration has refused to rule out the possibility of military strikes, and even the use of nuclear weapons, on Iran’s nuclear facilities and beyond, as if the Iraq quagmire has not taught it anything. And Iran is not Iraq. Iraq was formed only in 1932 with artificial boundaries that have no historical roots. Iran, on the other hand, has existed for thousands of years as an independent nation. Hence, Iranian nationalism is extremely fierce. Military strikes on Iran would create a potent mixture that combines fierce Iranian nationalism with the Shiites’ long tradition of martyrdom in defense of their homeland and religion. The attacks would engulf the entire region in flames.

“Iranians will not allow a single U.S. soldier to set foot in Iran,” declares Ebadi, and this is a woman who has been imprisoned by Iran’s hardliners and is constantly harassed for her work on behalf of political prisoners.

Armchair warriors, such as William Kristol, have been claiming that intense bombing of Iran will lead to an uprising by Iranians. The absurd argument is that, “We will destroy Iran, but Iranians will love us for bombing them, and hate the hardliners.” Although a large majority of Iranians despise the hardliners, anyone who has the slightest familiarity with Iran’s history knows that intense bombing of Iran will not lead to their downfall. Rather, it will help them consolidate power.

posted by Steve @ 2:39:00 PM

2:39:00 PM

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