The early 90’s provided many contributions that I can’t help but look back upon fondly; grunge, the peace process, flannel, Radiohead, slap bracelets, and Full House. In thinking about the current crisis of Iranian nuclear proliferation, the brilliant catch phrase of Stephanie Tanner says it all; “How rude, Mahmoud.” But how can we bring progress to such a politically, economically, and religiously constipated state?
Far before the so-called Populist and profane presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Persian Empire made many contributions to world civilization. The Sumerians predated the Roman Empire and established systems of government, and laid the foundation for Ancient Rome. This civilization contributed immeasurably to art, poetry, and language and originated in modern Kurdistan (choke on that that mustard gas, Saddam Hussein).In addition to civilization building in mess-o-potamia, the Persians also championed Ziggurat construction, which influenced the building of the great pyramids in Egypt.
Many factors contributed to the decline and fall of the Persian Empire. Economic depression and high taxes led to revolts in the provinces. This was a result of a decentralized government, that was out of touch with the citizenry. Weak rulers who govern from afar experience similar problems in consolidating and maintaining power and are unable to quell local unrest and rebellion (sound familiar?). Therefore, the Persian Empire experienced a steady decline and fall and the world saw the rise and influence of Islam in the greater Middle East and Asia.
Likewise, the modern state of Iran has been met with constant upheaval and political, social, and economic turmoil through out its long history. Unlike its bordering states, Iran was never colonized which led to a distinct architectural style and the preservation of culture. Whereas the Safavid and Zand dynasties focused on Persia’s rich history, the Pahlavi dynasty led by Reza Shah propelled Iran into the future by constructing a national education system, building railroads, and establishing a parliamentary government. After President Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s petroleum reserves in the Fifties, the US intervened by leading a coup, which led to the Iranian Revolution and the establishment of the modern (or ancient draconian) Islamic Republic. Once again, job well done America. Mission accomplished.
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 gave rise to Ayatollah Khomeini whose likeness fills my mind with horrifying Orwellian imagery. In many ways, the revolution transformed Iran from a beacon of culture and civilization to a bearded zombie apocalypse. With the implementation of Sharia law, Iran has not been able to keep up with the rising tides of modern culture. Following the devastating Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s where the US strategically aligned itself with the Iranians, (Islamists aren’t as bad at Baathist murderers, right guys!?), Iran saw a short lived era of reform led by President Khatami. While Khatami supported free markets and was seen as a reformer, he failed in propelling Iran into the modern era. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mullah’s children wore onesies that said “Khatami, the infidels’ Khomeini.” We could call this future Sharia law enforcement brigade “infantdels.”
In 2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to the highest office of Iran in a very fake 2000-esque election. We’ve all seen images of Ahmadinejad in his camel suit and schlubby style; a real man of the people. Ahmadinejad’s tenure has included his famous catch phrase of “wiping Israel off the map,” nuclear proliferation, disdain for the West, and state sponsored terrorism. This was showcased in the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war and Iran continues to support Hamas, Hezbollah and countless terrorist regimes around the world. In case you don’t think that’s bad, he awards families of Palestinian suicide bombers $10,000 a pop. Come to think of it, that’s not such a bad deal- I could really use some fast cash.
While Ahmadinejad’s presidency has largely alienated Iran, an important thing to understand folks, is how little power he actually has. Ahmadinejad is just a figurehead and answers to the Mullahs, much like the relationship between Dubya and Dick Cheney (hey remember when he shot that guy in the face? That was awesome). Ahmadinejad trash talks a big game but the religious infrastructure in Iran possesses much of the countries soft power.
Therefore, the U.S. should get its head out of the sand and address the real issue of the repressive Islamic “Republic.” While the international community has isolated Iran by imposing economic sanctions, all this does is hurt Iranian citizens who really want a progressive government, economic prosperity and a social contract of human rights.
Perhaps instead of taking a hard line with Iran, the US should focus on the progress of the Iranian people. The fires of the Arab Spring conflagrated across the Middle East and overthrew many repressive regimes but the wind is shifting and the fire is slowly spreading to Iran. The people want change while the US is trying to put out that fire. Instead of imposing economic sanctions and forming supranational coalitions to stop Iran, maybe we should heed the advice of Stephanie Tanner, rise up and declare “How rude, Mahmoud.”
Posted on Thursday, 14 June
Tagged as: Iran Ahmadinejad Politics