Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nuclear Consensus

By Paul Iddon

If democracy flourishes in Iran so will peace in the region. 

Bushehr reactor.
The 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution passed by last week. Cardboard Khomeini re-enactments aside there was a sizable turnout in the Freedom Square, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a rather vague manner spoke of Iran's nuclear program and asserted that "all needs of the Iranian nation" would be met by its nuclear scientists.

Anyone who knows anything about Iran knows that the country's nuclear program was started under the Shah, during his latter days of megalomania and disillusionment he constructed the Bushehr reactor, which wasn't completed upon his downfall. Whilst he always maintained that he separated oil from politics he must have seen the potential nuclear power would have for the future. Indeed, in a retrospectively amusing banner ad (a printout of which I have pinned on my wall to remind myself of the many ironies of history) entitled 'Guess Who's Building Nuclear Power Plants' U.S. energy corporations point to Iran as the perfect promotional example for nuclear power. Alluding to the fact that even though the Shah was sitting atop one of the largest oil reservoirs in the world he saw the economical investments to be had in nuclear power.

Many Iranians who took to the streets in 1979 motivated by anger and discontentment with the Shah's autocratic rule were under the impression that the installation of a representative democratic government would see Iran's oil nationalized (as was the case in 1953 before the Anglo-American coup) and the benefits of which would be invested in their future. Instead a flesh and blood Khomeini returned from exile and imposed a theocratic rule over the entire country. Plundering the economy -- which he is reportedly said to have dismissed as being for donkey's -- and leaving the country susceptible to attack through violent purges of the Iranian military. He even planned to sell back Iran's fleet of F-14 fighter jets, which proved to be essential in defending Iranian air space throughout the war with Iraq. The brave pilots whom defended their country at its time of need were brutally tortured, their heroic accounts body-guarded by anonymity as a result of fear for their safety – that's how the theocracy repays the few that so very much is owed to.

When the Shah was building up the foundations of the Iranian nuclear program he maintained an elite secret police unit called the SAVAK which sniffed out dissenters and tortured them to ensure his autocratic rule wouldn't be challenged. The SAVAK was essentially utilized by the Shah to ensure the broader private property that was his Iran wasn't tampered with from within.

When asked in what is a very historically significant interview in 1974 if the growing prosperity within Iran would lead to greater demand for democracy the Shah questioned the interviewers logic asserting there was and would be no great demand for democracy in Iran, as the people he asserted saw and respected the king as a father figure and followed him as such. This shows how he for the better half of 30 years viewed his people, as proverbial children who were subject to his perceived greater knowledge and insight to how the world works.

Roughly around this time Khomeini during his period in exile in Iraq decided that the religious decree that is the Vilayet-e Faqih should apply to everyone in Iran. Hence all power should be invested within him whilst the Iranian people were all in a sense children who weren't yet of age and required parental guidance.

One sincerely doubts that if the Shah had fully functioning nuclear reactors that his contempt for the Iranian people wouldn't be off-setted by nuclear power, on the contrary, nuclear energy certainly isn't the answer to Iran's problems, the obvious solution is democratization.

And when I say democracy I don't mean the current system which is a supreme dictator who preselects and prunes candidates and shows general contempt for the “electoral process” itself (“just pick one of my damned candidates and hurry up about it, I don't like all this public display of free expression and demonstration, even if it takes place under the tight constraints of my authoritarian apparatus”).

A 'Nixon goes to China' moment on behalf of the US - hence offering overtures to the theocracy - would be quite a regressive thing for the United States to do as it would exhibit the same amount of contempt towards the Iranian people as did their old relationship with the Shah – where they simply invested everything into him and checked solely on him when anything related to Iran was concerned. For the large part this is the kind of relationship the US would have yet again if it were to resume diplomatic relations with the theocracy, as it would in turn recognize it as the parental authority over the Iranian people and would deal accordingly with Iran via the theocracies whims.

The solution lies in the consensus. Iran has asserted in the midst of threats of aerial bombardment that its nuclear program is peaceful. A majority of the Israeli public has also expressed a willingness to pursue a nuclear free zone across the Middle East, knowing full well it would mean decommissioning their own stockpile. A democratic Iran could easily pursue such a policy, keep its own civil nuclear program and focus on domestic issues such as ensuring world class safety codes and measures are taken in its earthquake prone capital.

Iran is long overdue in entering the nuclear age, and long overdue in dispensing itself of its high reliance on its own natural resources. But to move into this age the people of Persia need to stand on their own feet and assert themselves like the fair minded individuals they are and not allow themselves to be tread upon by this conniving dictatorship.


Anonymous said...

good editorial, strong stance.

the people of Iran deserve better government than theyfor the last century.

Stranger said...

i guess there wasn't advantage or disadvantage comparability to having an Islamic democracy over a liberal one as such because the Islamic republic can never have a any positives to this writer with its representation and consensus of ruling while bringing equality for the lower class and keeping the interest of upper classes down

chances are in a liberal democracy, peace will flourish for the short term at the expense of ordinary peoples dignity

to think due to Iran's strategic location and resources the overbearing pressure on such a state attempting this transition would not be corrupted to the point a highly likely hood of a corrupt dictator or a corrupt regime coming to power is kind of ridiculous
of course it will be fine with the west and Paul here as long as its secular and socially liberal

Anonymous said...

what ever the system the most essential thing is the people who run the system.if bad and corrupt people run a good system it is nothing.therefore good people should run the system(whatever the system)

Anonymous said...


From Arash with love.

Anonymous said...

Exactly who are the "Iranian people" you're referring to?

Is it the less than 10% of those publicly polled inside Iran (using multiple polling data) that did not find some level of support for their form of government, the Islamic Republic?

Or is it the diaspora living outside Iran?

Any way you look at it, you're referring to a thin minority.

We here in the West qualify democracy as respecting election outcomes. When you-- a non-Iranian with no voting rights-- advocate on behalf of a fringe minority that turned to rioting in the streets when their candidates lost, that is the opposite of democracy.

But maybe you're advocating on behalf of Western liberalism being imposed against the popular will of the majority of Iranians inside Iran? If so, this too is the opposite of democracy.

Any way you look at it, you're not referring to democracy, be it either West or East.

Steve said...

Dear Mr Iddon - If I got it right, Uskowi on Iran is a blog dedicated to a mainly Iranian audience.
I still wonder, why you don't publish where your own audience is - in Israel.
I'm sure, the feedback there would be way more acknowledging and satisfying for you.
For everyone who is only a little familiar with Iranian history and issues, your contributions sound completely screwed and out of touch with reality, as if during the last 50 years you had been spending your time behind the moon or something.

There is no such thing as a "conniving (theocratic) dictatorship" in Iran.
This bullshit is only existing in your screwed mind.

The reason, why Iran is partly (but not only) under theocratic rule, is the same, why in Egypt in its first free elections a truly overwhelming majority voted for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists.
In muslim societies, the theocracy beyond all partisanship is the calming influence. The mosque is the place where people gather, cleanly, whith their hands and feets washed. The mosque is the place where they open their minds for more than their short-term selfish interests, where they encounter more than their next of kin. The mosque is also the last resort (as during the days of relentless persecution of the revolutionists by the Shah and his secret police). The Imam is the person who organizes and maintains the social structure of the community, who resolves those little daily conflicts among the families and tribes before they can slip out of control and do harm. There is no dictatorship in this, everything is based on necessity and utility.

Anonymous said...

Iran backtracked once and it was ridden during the Khatami era.
Screw Ahmadin... but his tough stance has caused frustration for the west anti Iran coalition and promoted Irans long term interests.

Plz don't play with words with me... u know I am right !

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:33 PM

Where have have you been to in the past 33 years Mars??

The Iranian nation were tricked into abandoning a secular system of government with minor faults which could have been reformed.

But instead was replaced with a fascist religious bloodthirsty theocracy that have the interests of the religious ruling class in mind which have not a gram of interest in the daily lives of the Iranian people except oppression.

You by the sound of it have not lived in Iran to experience the oppressive atmosphere caused by this very anti Iranian theocracy. Either that or your not Iranian unless you must be a mullah boy (with OGHDEH) which has been hopelessly brainwashed.

Thankfully you are the absolute minority in Iran.

Paul Iddon said...

@ Mark

Where am I advocating on behalf of a fringe majority?

'We here in the West qualify democracy as respecting election outcomes.'

Speak for yourself, I qualify democracy as having elections which are free and fair of which the Iranian elections sir I'm sorry to say completely and utterly fail to meet that criteria.

Iran isn't a democracy of any description,it's one of the most totalitarian states in the world which is scandalous, as are your craven excuses for it, and as is your sly underhanded way of accusing me of advocating 'Westoxication'.

And once again I ask you to please show some evidence for the -- Saddam Hussein like -- 90% support you've been constantly referring to in your comments and your own analysis rather than continually accusing me of supporting a 'fringe majority".

@ Steve

Interesting, I thought most of my audience was in the United States.

You do realize that in the last decade of the Shah's rule there were a remarkable number of mosques built in Iran since he believed they were an antidote to communism (you know, the same mosques that were the last resort for those said "revolutionists"), the SAVAK in fact to a large extent encouraged the clergy in Iran.

It's essential you take such things into account before accusing others of being out of touch with reality, possessing little understanding of Iranian history or of spewing bullshit.

There is an interesting discussion about the the Egyptian elections here that you should read (if you haven't already).

And Steve, one man has absolute authority over the entire country, that is the basic dictionary definition of a dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

if true then very disappointing, but I doubt Iran would bow to a losing Empire.

Paul Iddon said...

Minor correction: * "fringe minority"

Anonymous said...

Paul Iddon

You write some truths in your articles but there are some discrepancies.

1.There was no democratically elected government previous to 1953.
And certainly not ever since and up to this day.

2.The Shah choose the man for the job as prime minister and Majles approved by majority according to the constitution.
So which democratically elected government was voted by the people?

3.The Shah was the commander in chief of the armed forces not the prime minister that was written in the constitution.
Mossadeq tried to overturn this.

The list can go on but the fact remains that the army prevented the forces of 1979 coming earlier in 1953 and sending Iran back to the dark ages like now.
I know it is hard to understand this but you must look at it in a logical way and ask yourself where Iran was standing in 1953 as regards oil politics and geography.
The Shah was not against nationalization of oil there are documents to prove but he was a realist and understood the economies of the time.
You had a company BP that built the oil industry in Iran all its main technicians were British.The oil was shipped by British tankers to British customers.So lets say Mossadeq did nationalize oil,what then?
There was no China or Japan to buy Iran's oil then only maybe America,Italy,France,West Germany but remain unlikely because BP had very high influence then in Europe of 1953.America didn't what to rock the boat with BP neither.Basically Iran would have been left in the cold with its oil in the ground and the West would have moved elsewhere for their energy and Iran would have capitulated under any government.
There are some people who are illogical in the way they see things as it was then and mix it to today's reality which is unfair and incorrect.
One more thing...Prime minister Jamshid Amoozehgar stopped the stipend of the clergy in 1977 therefore creating the grievance for the religious classes to mobilize their supporters at the time or else these people never would have listened to Khomeini or the communists and Islamic Marxists because they were seen as a minority of thought at that time.
Also the Shah in one of his speeches in 1973 (six years before the revolution) refused to sell Iran's oil cheaply and threatened not to renew oil contracts in 1979!
Now doesn't that ring alarm bells and puts things into context?
No these are not conspiracy theories but conspiratorial facts.
It may be hard to believe but the West in its duplicity more than helped overthrow a secular system of government that could have been reformed.Instead it was replaced by a religious new dark ages autocracy that has the destruction of Iran and Iranian culture,language and history at mind.

The Realist.

Paul Iddon said...

@ The Realist

First and foremost thank you for your insightful and accurate analysis.

I fully agree with you on the differences during that time and in that place and how it wouldn't be fully rosy if Mossadeq had formed a democratic government. However when essential point when discussing the '53 coup is that Mossadeq set the roots for an independent nationalist government, the Shah on the other hand ended up becoming a dictatorial megalomaniac and essentially - as you imply - a stooge for western geopolitical, strategic and energy interests.

But the Shah became more corrupt with his power, ego and megalomania, he waited too long to make concessions to the various groups in the country demanding reform, as the country was getting richer in the 1970's, by the time he made concessions he was losing his grip on power, and therefore the more violent elements on that large scale revolution were more emboldened, seeing concessions as further signs of weakness which under more pressure could lead to capitulation, which as we know is what happened.

Hence instead of partying with aristocrats on the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire he should have been opening the way to reform, if he had done that I would wager we would see a stronger, respected more prosperous Iran. Instead we see the land of one of the world's greatest civilizations being turned into a pariah state run by as you aptly and accurately mention, a new dark age autocracy.

Also Ayatollah Kashani's actions during those infamous events in 1953 prove that the clergy's predominant interest was always solely on control, even if it meant ceding sovereignty and resources to foreign powers. I also agree with you on the present regimes anti-Iran character, it's a disturbing thing when the religious authorities seriously consider editing Persian plays that are over 800 years old to conform with their perceptions of a healthy society.

Anyway, thanks again, I hope your insightful commenting on the issues is a recurring trend.

Anonymous said...

Paul Iddon

Thank you for your reply and support to my comment.But I must slightly disagree with you as regards Shah being a stooge of the West.
The Shah had good relations even with Iran's enemies Russia,China, Iraq.Yes he did have support from the West but look at it in the context of the cold war when Iranian Azarbaijan was occupied by the Soviet forces under Stalin and proclaimed a peoples republic by the traitors that called themselves Iranian.My family and many Azari people had to flee to Tehran.One country made the soviets leave Azarbaijan namely America through diplomatic pressure.
Now lets put it in a different way China has been assisted by the US to develop and open the world to their products.Does that make China a stooge of America?
China used America and American companies are using China and that's what was going on in Iran as it was in Japan, South Korea and West Germany at that time.
We were and still are a third world country and needed a first rate education and investment as well as military.
Why military because Iran was surrounded by Saddam's Iraq the Soviet Union and a collapsing Afghanistan and of course Arab nationalism which had a hatred of the Persians.We were equipped with the most modern weapons and training and started the foundations of an arms industry.The Shah could have done all those things through friendship not hostility like this regime we have in power today.But despite all this I wouldn't call him a stooge of the West or a megalomaniac.If he turned to Russia or China would that have been better for Iran?
All I can say is that Reza Shah as well as Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi were the best thing to happen to Iran,why?
Because if it wasn't for them Iran would have been like Afghanistan or at worst small patchy states under the control of tribal leaders or feudal fiefdoms and sleazy sheikhdoms.
I'm afraid this is what Iran is turning too under the mullahs regime.A country with no real identity but an alien identity with religious and barbaric laws that belong in the dustbin of time.
God help Iran from those traitors that call themselves Iran lovers or pretend to speak on behalf of the people under the guise of Islamism or any other ism.

The Realist.

Paul Iddon said...

@ The Realist

Once again I wholeheartedly agree with you with regards to the Iran Crisis of '46 as well as American armaments being vital for Iran to maintain a qualitative technological edge over the many hostile neighbours that were on her frontiers (in this very article as you know I gave out about the scandalous fact that Khomeini had left Iran susceptible to attack and invasion).

True, we could debate the finer points of calling the Shah a stooge of the west, that being said whilst your US-China comparison does hold a lot of water we shouldn't conveniently forget about the doings of the CIA in Iran from 1953 onwards (training of SAVAK who tortured dissidents etc.)

That being said I know a lot of Iranians who share your admiration of the last two Shahs, and I'd wager you're right in some of the ghastly alternative fates the country could have had.

But with all due respect the last Shah did alienate himself from most of his countrymen, you could see it his alienation beginning and manifesting onwards from the early 1970's on, for example the lavish foreign aristocratic Persian Empire anniversary at Persepolis and his unwillingness to commit to a serious long term program to properly educate a hefty amount of the country etc., as well as his egotistical perception of his own importance and worth on the world stage, he let these problems prolong and worsen over time at the country's peril.

Obviously I'm not trying to illustrate that Iran is any way better today, on the contrary sir, I think the last 33 years were a tragedy for the country and her people, the present regime has completely trashed Iran and bled it out from the inside and robbed the Iranian people of their rightful place on the world stage.

I'm only slightly disagreeing with you with regards to the Shah but aside from that as far as I'm concerned you're correct in your overall assessment.

As is evident from some of the discussions that I have on this very site you can see that I too despise the kind of people you speak of and share your resentment with regard to the present state of the country.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Paul Iddon

Once again thanks to your reply as regards my previous comment.
One note regarding your earlier comment about the 2500th year anniversary.This anniversary was about celebration of 2500 years of the foundation of Iranian state not the Shah himself.This story was spun by the same unsavory forces that are in power today or lying in a forgotten grave in a corner of Iran.
I remember when foreign people watched this on TV in England at the time they learned a lot about Iran in a very positive way unlike what you hear about us today.
However I respect your opinion and have come to the middle road as regards this issue.
One more thing Paul regarding the nuclear bomb and the Shah.You know that the Shah himself said in 1973-74 interview to a French TV network that Iran has no choice as regards the bomb because it is surrounded by the Soviets Pakistan,Israel India and China and a possible nuclear Iraq under Saddam.That was code to develop the bomb without fanfare which of course alarmed Washington and as you know Jimmy Carter totally opposed that and warned the Shah that he will cut him from his legs if he carried on with his atomic program.
When Jimmy Carter was asked what was his biggest mistake as president he replied..."I should have sent that extra helicopter to Iran"! What wisdom this man has.

NOTE:If the Islamic regime possesses the nuclear bomb it won't save it from the peoples wrath.However this regime is to dangerous to even posses a matchstick.

Regards the Realist.

Paul Iddon said...

@ The Realist

One note regarding your earlier comment about the 2500th year anniversary.This anniversary was about celebration of 2500 years of the foundation of Iranian state not the Shah himself.

Yes, but my main point was the manner in which it was celebrated by the Shah, I feel having the centre of the celebrations organized by foreign contractors as well as attended by wealthy and predominately foreign aristocrats to be a rather shabby of treating the actual residents of Persia.

I believe this is the meat of the interview you refer to with regard to the Shah and nuclear weapons.

It's interesting that he points out the perceived double standard when it comes to the NATO alliance, for instance he asks why it is normal for the Germans and the British to have nuclear arms. Casting aside the US nuclear arms stored in Germany throughout the Cold War, Germany as you know doesn't have nuclear weapons of its own. France on the other hand wasn't in NATO since I believe the mid-50's and didn't rejoin until about three years ago, and they have nuclear weapons. I haven't seen the rest of the interview but maybe the Shah was gunning towards an independent program, as Iran was as you say surrounded by potential foes and as he pointed out wasn't in an alliance like NATO, of course you could interject and point out that there was CENTO -- the least successfully and mostly forgotten of the Cold War alliances -- which in my opinion failed due to a lack of unified or central command and was essentially finished by the mid 1970's, the Iranian Revolution and subsequent war with Iraq was just the nail in its coffin.

We're still suffering and being forced to live with the effects of Carters calamitous foreign policy so I wouldn't blame you for scoffing at his perceived wisdom.


Anonymous said...

Paul Iddon

Thank you Paul for your reply as regards the Shah and the nuclear program.I agree on all points regarding this issue.
I also agree on the 2500th anniversary by not allowing the participation of the ordinary people at the main event but maybe that was a security issue?
However events were held throughout the country with the participation of the people.

Best of regards the Realist.