Leaving Islam




Regime Change as Official Policy

Iran va Jahan
Peter Kohanloo

In his 2006 State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush correctly identified the dichotomy between Iranians and the terrorist regime which rules over them, when he described Iran as being “...a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people.” However, instead of aggressively supporting the democratic aspirations of the almost 70 million hostages in that country, his administration continues to dither on this important issue. It should not. Even though it seems as if the military option is the only alternative to appeasing the turbaned despots on the nuclear issue, it is not. The most potent weapon President Bush can use against the ruling mullahs in Tehran is the Iranian people themselves, for there is no other group in the world that would like to see the demise of the Islamic Republic more than they would.

For a decade now, Iranians have been struggling for their basic human rights. They have used a rational approach, always preferring peaceful methods such as strikes and sit-ins over violent ones, which the regime and its minions continuously use against innocent Iranian men, women, and children. Against their better judgment, freedom-loving Iranians even participated in unfair elections – such as the two presidential ones that made the treacherous Mohammad Khatami the smiling face of the regime – to prove that they desire those things which we who live in freedom take for granted: the rule of law, a representative government accountable to the people, and a free-market economy. That experiment – in which Iranians tried to work within the framework of the Islamofascist system to reclaim their rights – naturally ended in failure, for all elections in Iran are really “selections.” Candidates, hand-picked by the Council of Guardians (an oversight committee of reactionary clerics), run mock campaigns to become part of the regime’s public façade. Real power in Iran is instead held by a cabal which includes the Supreme Leader, other high-ranking clerics, and certain members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The people of Iran now seek to shape their own destiny by replacing the current corrupt, decaying system with a vibrant, democratic one, and they have done just about everything possible within the narrow limits of power they have vis-à-vis their unelected rulers to achieve this goal. But it simply has not been enough. They require real assistance from abroad, especially the United States – the only country in the world capable of supporting regime change in Iran. In addition, Iranians need President Bush to make regime change the official policy of the US government. Without such a commitment, there remains the possibility – no matter how remote – that democratic dissidents inside the country will be used only as pawns to force the mullahs into surrendering their nuclear weapons program. It is crucial, then, for Iranians to know that America will be with them all the way to the ballot box.

One encouraging sign is that the Bush administration finally seems to understand the importance of aid. The $75 million recently requested by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is an improvement over the previous paltry sum ($3.5 million) allocated to democracy-building in Iran; but it is only a start. On the very same day she made this request from Congress, Secretary Rice asked for $771 million for Iraq, which would “...allow us [the US] to work effectively with our Iraqi partners to advance our strategy of ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ – clearing areas of insurgent control, holding newly gained territory under the legitimate authority of the Iraqi government, and building economic infrastructure and capable national democratic institutions that are essential to Iraq’s success.” It is obvious that we should not be thrifty in helping the Iraqis defeat the terrorists. But isn’t it also obvious that there would be a lot fewer – possibly even zero – “areas of insurgent control” if the terrorists’ backers in Tehran were replaced by a democratically-elected government friendly to the US? If $771 million is – to quote Ms. Rice – “an essential part of our National Strategy Victory for Iraq,” then isn’t an even larger budget for round-the-clock radio and satellite transmissions to Iran, state-of-the-art communications equipment for dissidents in different areas of the country, and a fund for Iranian workers on strike also vital for achieving that goal? Is there any price too high for absolute victory over a regime which seeks weapons of mass destruction, supports militant Islamists such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, and murders American soldiers in Iraq almost daily?

The forces of freedom in Iran would be grateful for true American friendship in their time of need and would not view it as meddling. It is only members of the outlaw regime, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad, who would like the world to believe that they have the support of the Iranian people. But the truth is that the Shia Islamists, who hijacked the future of Iran more than a quarter century ago, have never represented the interests of Iranians, for their main purpose has been and always will be to export their Islamic revolution to the rest of the Muslim world and beyond. Even more importantly, many Iranians understand this sobering fact and refuse to be fooled by their oppressors’ disingenuous appeals to nationalism.

The pattern of hesitation and negotiation by the Bush administration needs to end. The US must finally recognize the true nature of the regime in Iran and actively work to dismantle it. Only by helping the Iranian people to build an effective democratic movement through strong political and financial commitments can we avoid the nightmare scenario of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic and make significant progress in the war on terror.







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