Iran and a Free Press


With the war in neighboring Iraq almost over, Iran’s conservative mullahs would desire nothing more than to see America stuck in the quagmire of establishing a democratic regime in Iraq. Keeping America preoccupied with juggling a number of hot potatoes in Iraq inhibits America from setting its target on them next.

Having no love for Saddam Hussein, who caused the death of more than 1 million Iranians and Iraqis, Tehran’s regime chose “active neutrality” in the course of the war. But neutrality will not be its policy in peace. That policy will change to active manipulation.

The conservative mullahs recognize that a democratic regime in Baghdad will almost certainly ensure their doom in Tehran. As such, they will do everything within their power to embarrass America and undermine her polices to promote democracy in Iraq.

America’s response should be to take the war to the mullahs. But not a hot war; rather, a war of ideas fought through satellite television. The Bush administration should place as much faith in America’s ideals as it has in America’s high tech, precision-guided missiles.

America’s ideals, if focused on a tyranny like a laser beam, can also bring about a regime change — and with significantly less collateral damage and unintended consequences. Even more importantly, such ideals are indispensable in establishing a stable and prosperous peace afterward, a task simply out of the range of destructive weapons, no matter how “smart” they may be.

Iran’s regime is ripe for change. Disillusionment with the conservative mullahs’ tyranny has engulfed the nation and has even created a schism among the previously united clergymen. Iran’s prisons are increasingly being packed with mullahs who have become utterly disillusioned by Iran’s theocracy. The theocracy has a special court specifically for its renegade mullahs. The accused mullahs do not even get the few rights the Iranian public has.

Iran’s highest ranking grand ayatollah, Hossein Montazeri, was only recently released due to health concerns, after years of house incarceration for questioning the regime’s brutality. At one point, he was second in line to succeed Khomeini, but was replaced once his liberal views became apparent.

Mohsen Kadivar, 44, a student of Montazeri, spent 18 months in prison for asserting that terrorism has no justification under Islamic law. He further argued: “Human rights supersede religion. Regardless of one’s religion or beliefs, people should have basic human rights — no one should be forced to migrate, be killed or tortured. There is no such thing as `Islamic human rights.'”

Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri recently resigned from his post as the Friday prayer leader in Esfahahn (Iran’s second largest city), a position he had held for more than two decades. His resignation letter was a scathing attack on the regime and its brutality, incompetence and corruption.

Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Mousavi-Tabrizi, a former chief prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court, stated: “The idea that only a select number of clerics have the right to make decisions for the masses is un-Islamic and illegal. God hasn’t given anyone an exclusive right to rule. If religion interferes in every detail of government, it will fail.”

A free press — not tanks and bullets — is the key to overthrowing the conservative mullahs in Iran and spreading democracy, tolerance and peace in the Middle East. A free press can undermine even the most repressive of dictatorships.

America should use its technology and financial means to promote a free press in Iran, including a satellite channel in Persian. Although the administration has taken some baby steps in this direction, they are not enough. A professionally run station with a fair and balanced coverage and mixed with some entertainment could help organize the Iranian people and diaspora living in the United States and Europe.

The disillusionment of even Iran’s once hard core mullahs — not to mention the Iranian people, students and women — with the country’s theocracy indicates that Islam is not incompatible with democracy. The Iranian people and a growing number of mullahs believe in the separation of mosque and state, a parliamentary government, elections, due process, etc.

The ingredients of a democratic society in Iran are almost in place. What is lacking is a free press. With America’s help, a free press will nail the coffin of Iran’s theocracy.

REZA LADJEVARDIAN, an Iranian-American, is a Houston-based writer. He can be reached at: rezalad@yahoo.com


More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South