Thursday, June 12, 2008

This is where a velvet revolution would be a good idea

There are clear and defined cracks inside of the Iranian government--and if we had a functioning State Department and a government that was interested in engaging in something other than war-mongering, we would be supporting a velvet revolution in that country:

Iran arrested a mid-ranking civil servant on Wednesday for "spreading lies" after he reportedly made unprecedented corruption allegations against several of the country's most powerful clerics.

Abbas Palizdar, presented as a supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also charged in the speech in the western city of Hamedan on May 27 that the authorities had assassinated two prominent officials, reports have said.

He was summoned to the government employees tribunal on Wednesday and charged with financial irregularities, spreading lies and disturbing public opinion, the Fars news agency reported.

"He was issued with a detention writ and sent to prison," the news agency added, without giving further details.

Neither Iranian newspapers nor official news agencies have carried the contents of the controversial speech but the conservative news site Tabnak has published excerpts.

This kind of schism within their political structure is even more important to exploit--what is a more fundamental, basic human freedom than the ability to speak freely? Where is the full court press effort by the United States government to make inroads into Iranian society? We should never unite a country against us by war-mongering. We should take a clear moral stand and align ourselves with the people in Iran who agree with us.

For every Palizdar, there are dozens more in the shadows who do not speak out because they fear what the regime will get away with doing to them. When your own country--the Bush regime--abducts people, jails the innocent for years, hides detainees, tortures people and starts wars, how can you criticize a single thing the thugs in Iran do to their people?

What used to work was when the United States could actively and publicly support dissidents and protesters and their organizations and movements. We used to do that by elevating them to international status by recognizing them and supporting them, with diplomatic and economic means. When the regime has to think twice before arresting someone for speaking out because they don't want the added pressure from the international community, the cracks get larger and larger. This country is at its best when it can use its power to elevate a person who would normally have been jailed and forgotten to the status of a Nelson Mandela, a Lech Walesa, a Vaclav Havel, or a Aung San Suu Kyi.

This is lost on the neocon mindset because supporting human rights and dissidents is a slow, messy, inconvenient process. It's a strategy that requires a full package of diplomacy, economic incentives, and setting an example. For now, the American example is nothing to wave in the face of thugs.


THIS little gem is a fitting way to add a little context to what I said above:

Responding to an angry State Department official, who called a forced assignment to Baghdad a "potential death sentence," Condoleezza Rice's deputy, David Satterfield, said: "This is an expeditionary world. For better or worse, it requires an expeditionary service."

Those phrases caught Tom Engelhardt's eye back in October 2007. An expeditionary world. An expeditionary service. How typical of the muscled-up, faintly un-American phrases -- think "homeland," "regime change," "enhanced interrogation techniques," "extraordinary rendition" -- that the Bush administration has made part of our vocabulary. "These were," he writes in a piece adapted from the introduction to his new book, The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire,"years when American men (and a few women) put on the pith helmets they had last seen in imperial adventure films in the movie theaters of their childhoods, imagined themselves as the imperial masters of a global Pax Americana (as well as a domestic Pax Republicana), and managed to sound as if they were surging across the planet with Rudyard Kipling at their side."

[excerpt from Tom Dispatch]

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