by Paul Iddon
|Main entrance to Tehran University / Karlmontague|
It's very telling of the repressive nature of a system when it is the simplest of criticisms made about a certain policy, or set of policies, is highly noteworthy. I'm sure you've heard by now of the criticisms made in Tehran University the other day about the costs of the nuclear program to the Iranian nation.
Some of the most notable statements were made by former member of parliament Ahmad Shirzad and Professor Sadegh Zibakalam, the latter who claimed that the cost to the country of the nuclear program has been more the deadly Iran Iraq War which raged throughout the 1980's. Underlying all these men's points one gets a brief insight into how crippling authoritarianism has to a country with such vast intelligence and potential.
Shirzad said that just like the signing of UN Resolution 598 which ended the Iran Iraq War, “A small group of people sitting behind closed doors who think they have all the wisdom” made a decision for the whole nation, without, I might add, consulting them since in such systems they don't count. The Iran Iraq War is also a very good case study of how authoritarianism has cost Iran a great deal of lives for next to nothing. In that war after all the Ayatollah Khomeini accepted, in Resolution 598, pretty much the same proposal that was offered to him in June 1982, when he unwisely decided to extent that war with no proper strategy and against the wisdom of many people in the military who actually knew a thing or two about strategy.
And in regard to the nuclear issue whose decision was it to start a nuclear program anyway? The last Shah of Iran of course. With no parliamentary or democratic oversight, no public debate about its merits and/or demerits. None, nada about such a major decision with numerous economic and geopolitical considerations to take into account (the “father of Iran's nuclear program” himself Akbar Etemad has said that the Shah didn't want nuclear weapons but certainly wanted the capability to build them in case Iran's conventional forces wouldn't be capable of defending the country, I suspect the present regime is after a similar set-up and quite frankly wouldn't blame any regime or government in Iran for wanting such a thing given the nature of the region).
The same was the case with how the present regime restarted it and the manner in which they have gone about it, which has been fantastically costly to the nation. The few criticisms these men had in Tehran University the other day were quite tepid. But the men willing to criticize the system obviously care about where their country is going and the kind of reckless course the few men in control have taken it, which could very well cost its inhabitants dearly. And with a massive brain drain, lack of economic diversification which is largely due to a continued dependence of oil which is only bound to get worse due to the recent decline in prices which, as the Supreme Leader Khamenei himself has said, weakens Iran in the face of the world powers, even someone with a lot of faith in this regime would be raising an eyebrow at this stage.
And as for those who will cite the fact that this meeting which took place in Tehran today shows that criticisms of the system are allowed should remember that mild discourse is permitted in the most closed of systems. Furthermore the fact these men were given permission to talk shows that they needed it to begin with and wouldn't have been “allowed” to convene without it (Zibakalam don't forget is facing a suspended sentence for some previous public criticisms of the program). Zibakalam also spoke of the atmosphere of bullying which pervaded in Iran for over a decade whereby those who didn't bother to keep in check the health of the nation, not to mention the affects on it of their actions, and simply lauded the so-called wisdom of the few that steered the ship of state, loudly branded themselves the “patriots” while anyone willing to even question where they were taking the whole nation were slandered as “traitors” or worse.
That's very telling language. But it isn't surprising, nor new. It's just a reminder of the kind of people who have been in charge in Iran and have taken that great nation down a dangerous and costly road with next to nothing to show for it. All the while proclaiming themselves to be the patriots while reality shows them to be the commissars, the furthest one could be from a patriot to ones country bar an actual traitor. It is the patriot after all who looks at his or her nation and doesn't sweep its problems under the rug, but would rather go through those problems recognizing that such a process will benefit their nation and the people in it in the long term. There are many such people in Iran today and you can be assured that they aren't the ones bellowing about how anyone who has any reservations about the way a few men are determining the destiny of a great nation are “traitors”.