Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, June 27, 2003

It seems that suddenly people on the Left are afraid that George Bush may be seen as influential by speaking well of a freedom movement in Iran. But this is getting to be laughable. Or it would be if these people weren't out there risking their lives.

If I were an Iranian student demonstrating against my own government, about the last thing in the world I would want would be a public endorsement by the president of the United States.

The Iranian dissidents want to be perceived as Iranian patriots, trying to improve their own country. They do not want to be perceived as tools or dupes of the Central Intelligence Agency, seeking to overthrow a government that the United States does not like. That would give the Iranian government a perfect excuse to cut them down.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to explain these basic facts of life to President Bush, who is publicly praising the students and demanding that the Iranian government "give them the utmost of respect," to use the president’s words.

What an amazingly cynical view to take. Such complete ignorance about what Bush's speeches do. When he speaks suddenly the media that has been ignoring the protests and constant crackdowns in Iran can no longer do so. Without Bush's words, few would even hear about movement being led by the student protestors. Which would, apparently, be just fine with the writer here. What this ignoramus is saying is that President Bush should just avert his eyes and certainly not bring attention to students striving for freedom.

That could be the kiss of death. Of course, the CIA might have told the president that the dissenters are a sure bet and nothing the Iranian government can do will stop them. In that case, it wouldn’t matter what the president said. But then it was the CIA that assured the president’s father that if the Shiites and the Kurds staged an uprising in 1991, Saddam Hussein would be easily overthrown.

Those mass graves that some warmongers point to as a belated, afterthought justification for the Iraq War are the direct result of that bad advice and the equally bad decision, once the uprisings started, to stand by and watch them being crushed. It wasn’t just Saddam who put those people in the ground; the U.S. government is partially responsible.

Those graves were being filled long before 1991. Our failing was not the urging to revolt. Our failing was not following through on promises to aid them in the revolt. Promises that we have not made concerning Iran. The President has merely said that he supports any movement, especially that in Iran, that is made up of people looking for freedom and representative government. But in the infinite wisdom imparted by this screed we are shown the true way. Turn away, do not urge people to agitate for freedom. That will just give the Ayatollahs reason to beat and jail you. Like they wouldn't have one it anyway. In fact, the attention that Bush's words have done more to prevent a violent crackdown now that Tony Blair and even Kofi Annan have joined the call for the regime not to harm the protestors.

Perhaps he thinks the media, as well, should stop covering protests worldwide. Perhaps he thinks everyone should just live in abject fear of a terror bringing thug. Or that the US should never take a moral stand on such thuggery and murder. Maybe we should never have given moral support to Nelson Mandela. How may were jailed and beaten and killed for the world calling attention to what was happening. Perhaps Solzhenitsyn, Havel, Suu Kyi, Walesa and the others are lying when they tell us what our vocal support in their movements to freedom meant.

Ahhh. But here we have an inkling of what may be part of the issue.

I don’t think the Bush administration has a coherent policy vis-avis Iran. First, we cut a deal with Iran before the war in Afghanistan, which Iran honored. Then we arrested the Iranian rebels in Iraq, calling them terrorists, and now the French have arrested those members of the same group living in Paris. So far as I know, this was the only organized Iranian opposition, and they have always advocated a secular, democratic government. They used to have an office in Washington, and I talked to them quite frequently some years ago.

And to avoid any conflict of interest, let me say that the Iranian rebel spokesman even sent me a box of pistachio nuts at Christmas. I ate them with great relish.

So what is the U.S. position? We are against the largest organized rebel group. Sometimes we cut deals with the Iranian government. Sometimes we threaten Iran about nuclear weapons. Always, we refuse to talk to Iran. Now we seem to be cheering on some people, of whom we know very little, who are demonstrating against the government? I’m glad I’m not the Iranian foreign minister. I would hate to try to figure out just what U.S. policy is at the moment.

While I questioned France's motives for busting MEK, I did not deny that it is a group that has been on many nations terrorist lists for decades. We called them terrorists long before removing Saddam from power. And is he now saying that any enemy of our enemy is to be treated as a friend? I wonder if this cuts across the spectrum or only for groups that he likes? Just because they are the largest organized opposition group means nothing. They work from outside Iran and their support from within is not universal. This is a group that uses violence. The thousands risking their lives in the streets of Iranian cities have rejected violence as a method to win their freedom. But more telling is his description of MEK. They are a Marxist inspired group that has advocated and used violence and terrorism to advance their goal of overthrowing the Ayatollahs. They accepted money from Saddam and worked from his territory. What did they do in return. They helped fill those mass graves.

In 1991, it assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the north. Since then, the MEK has continued to perform internal security services for the Government of Iraq.

And here it is.

I think it would be best, both for the Iranian students and for us, if Mr. Bush would just quit talking about Iran and go about his fundraising business. Perhaps, between fund-raising stops, he’ll get an idea or two about just what an intelligent U.S. policy would be. In the meantime, he should be careful not to kill the dissenters by praising them.

His own visceral hatred for George Bush has infected his views of everything. The students should suffer in silence and unnoticed rather that gain the acknowledgement of America, because George Bush is to be hated. Anything he praises is to be hated also, and to praise something that otherwise any good Liberal should support creates conflict. To praise them also would be to side with Dubya, a fate worse than death (something he means literally for the students of Iran). Better to tell George Bush to shut up, so you can feel better as you quietly support the students as they are beaten, jailed, tortured and killed. Then you can turn around and declare the President a monster for not calling attention to such atrocities.

< email | 6/27/2003 11:55:00 AM | link

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