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
Praise for Voice
"A smart fellow...I do like, recommend and learn from Barbera's blog." -Roger L. Simon
"Your blog is bullshit"- anonymous angry French reader.
It is time for the reformist politicians in Iran to do something more than write open letters. They have totally discredited themselves in the eyes of true reformists by constantly crying wolf. Every few months they threaten a walkout if there are not changes in the government. While they talk and write letters, students are arrested and beaten, independent newpapers are shut down, independent media people are threatened and jailed, Iranians in the street are harassed by government militias. That is why the students have been calling for Khatami's head in the past year. If he is not with the ruling Ayatollahs he has proven too weak to counter them.
Even the EU is beginning to realize that open efforts have just been met with more stonewalling.
"There is a degree of major frustration. There is a chink of light on the nuclear issue, total immobility on human rights, some movement but not much on terrorism and nothing at all on the Middle East peace process," said one Tehran-based European ambassador.
The EU has been at the forefront of pressure on Iran to allow tougher International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its suspect nuclear programme, something that Iran has resisted but will nevertheless continue discussing with the IAEA in the coming weeks.
But its verbal efforts to reassure the world that it is not using an atomic energy programme as a cover to acquire nuclear weapons have to some extent been undone by an announcement just two days ahead of a visit by IAEA director Mohammad ElBaradei that it had conducted a successful final test of a ballistic missile capable of hitting Israel.
"Iran claims to have peaceful intentions but that doesn't mean a thing," Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said earlier this month.
He was followed up by Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who on a visit here bluntly warned that no tougher IAEA inspections meant no trade deal.
"The first consequence, obviously, if they fail to sign up, is that they fail to make progress on a host of other issues on which they do want progress, for example on a trade and cooperation agreement," he said.
On human rights, the EU has watched Iran's elected reformist camp - with whom it is engaging - show its powerlessness when it comes to defending the right to peaceful protest against a crackdown by unelected hardline institutions.
"To be honest, the only real concession on human rights we've seen is a temporary suspension of executions by stoning. But when you see 4,000 people arrested for protesting, it's a case of one step forward, two steps back," noted one EU troika diplomat engaged in the talks here.
On terrorism, where the United States has accused Iran of harbouring and not arresting fugitive al-Qaeda members, the Europeans also appear deeply frustrated. Some diplomats accuse Iran of attempting to use al-Qaeda detainees - some of whom are believed to be senior - as bargaining chips.
And on the Middle East crisis, EU appeals that Iran tone down its anti-Israeli rhetoric have been quickly followed up by the praising of Palestinian suicide bombers at Friday prayers here.
"The clock is ticking as far as the European approach is concerned, and the warning signs have been hoisted," a European ambassador said.
The Western Civilization and Democracy Net Ring celebrates Western civilization and its universal values of individual freedom, political democracy and equal rights for all. All sites promoting human rights and democracy are welcome.