Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Meaning of a Democratic Iran

Make no mistake! A democratic Iran would not become an American colony. It would be a proud emergent regional power, willing to resist Israeli regional hegemony, deeply involved in Iraqi society, and insistent upon a better deal for the non-Western world.

With all the thoughtless accusations flying around obfuscating the real issues that separate Washington from Tehran, perhaps it would be useful to take a moment to consider what a truly democratic Iran would be like.

First, (Warning: Sit down; this may take your breath away.) a democratic Iran will still defend itself. As long as it remains ringed by hostile American military bases and as long as nuclear-armed Israeli Zionists insistent upon retaining their military domination over the region remain in power, Iran will still want the option of a nuclear deterrence.

Second, a democratic Iran will still be proud of its glorious past, will remember the injustice of Russian and British and American interference, and will demand to be treated with respect. Washington will still be seen as owing Iran a truly sincere apology for the coup that destroyed Iran's nascent democratic movement in 1953, supporting a dictatorial shah, supporting Saddam's invasion, and shooting down an Iranian airliner.

Third, a democratic Iran will still be Muslim and will therefore find Israel's repression of the Palestinian people repugnant. Depending on the degree to which Washington moves back toward a less biased position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the degree to which Zionist extremists continue to hold power in Israel, a democratic Iran may or may not remain leader of the anti-Zionist front, but it is hardly likely to copy the Shah's willingness to ignore Israeli repression of fellow Muslims...any more than a democratic Saudi Arabia or Egypt would.

Fourth, a democratic Iran will still feel entitled to be a regional leader. It will not necessarily be a crusading Shi'ite revolutionary state, but it will still be Shi'ite and will therefore retain a special relationship with Iraq and Lebanon, just as the U.S. has a special relationship with Canada. It will still feel that it has a natural interest in the security situation along its borders and will thus pay attention to events in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Fifth, a democratic Iran will still want to reform the global political system to distribution resources and power more equitably. It will be energetic, articulate, and involved.

A democratic Iran could be a real blessing for a deeply sick global political system...provided that it is welcomed, rather than threatened, by the global elite. But do not expect it to kiss up or kneel down, any more than those 13 colonies of yesteryear did.

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