Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Look at Our Concerns

The Iranian nuclear issue is getting more complex as it now pegs not only the US, but a long list of other countries, including the Europeans, across Iran. And in the words of the spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, “this is only the beginning of the game.”

Contrary to those who immediately elevate any discussion of Iran to the most critical question and speak of the survival of the regime, we the Iranian people are caught up in the details. These details determine our daily lives. While it is normal not to expect small countries such as Iran to surrender when at dispute with the powerful states, yet one must recognize that Iran is not the only country living in this universe and world, and subject to the prevalent real politics. A host of other countries with about the same power correlations as Iran exist and get along with the same adversaries as Iran. And the conditions in the world today are not any worse than they used to be in the past. The claims that we are the only independent or honest country in the world are nonsense. So why is it that we have been at conflict with the world during the last 27 years and except for a few incidents live in crises and dangers?

Iranian rulers simply respond by claiming that this is the price of independence. They want us to believe that we are the only independent country in the world that has discovered and identified independence, while all other countries are busy selling themselves to others! A look around will show that countries that are even weaker than Iran continue their lives and work, and provide greater services to their populations than what our bureaucracy provides, even though they are not as endowed as we are. And what is more is that they are not even under greater pressure from other powers. So more is at play than just blaming the thugs round the corner. This state of affairs cannot continue, even if they can silence the public for a while.

What is troubling Iranian thinkers is not that they want Iran to lose this battle against the powerful. What they ask are the following: why is it that during the past 27 years we have been getting poorer, are having more problems, life is costlier, life is more insecure, there is more social tension, our natural resources are under a greater threat, our environment is more polluted, our currency is less valuable, our international influence is less, our heritage is under attack, and the like. Recently the World Bank held a conference in Washington DC and its report on the living conditions of its members mentions Iran too. It states that Iran has not been successful in successfully utilizing the recent rise in oil prices and has failed to improve things in its national economy. According to the report, there are 9 million Iranians living under the poverty line.

Iranian rulers of course have a prepared statement: Our enemies do not let us attain our goals and build our ideal community by continuously creating crises for us. This continues barrage of justifications however raises a more fundamental question: Are these individuals just using these events to justify the non-workings of our system? So in fact they cannot live without these crises, just as microbes cannot live in conditions conducive to their needs. So when the conditions and crises are missing, they simply create them themselves! There have been quiet a few Iranians who have interpreted Ahmadinejad’s confrontational speech at the UN two weeks ago in these very terms.

The most dangerous aspect of this strategy is the audacity to expend people’s lives etc to satisfy one group of people by providing them their needs against another part of society. This while the role of a modern government today is not to divide its populace into two groups, or pinning one group against another, so that one controls the other. Their principal purpose is not to spend the lives of people to take them to a promised heaven, but to prevent the rule of hell on earth. Where else except in the town of Orumieh have you heard of a governor general who by using public money sent from Tehran mobilizes people in a march to heaven? A people who live in unsanitary conditions, have no civil security, and generally live in hellish conditions, expect their government to liberate them from these conditions, not march them on a promised utopia.

If you listen to thinkers, you will hear them ask where did this current (nuclear) standoff and crises come from. Where did this idea that the Iranian nation cannot live without nuclear energy come from? What happened to those who used to criticize and bombast the monarchy in Iran for spending money on its military and on unnecessary projects instead of solving the immediate and daily problems of the people? How come now they think the atom is more important than those very problems that have only become worse for the man in the village, in the desert, in the town, in the street? How did we discover that the atom is more important and we must pay up to our necks to get it?

Thinkers ask why can’t we like Korea perhaps, postpone this “need” and act like them or Libya? Why can’t we suspend this enrichment, even though it is our right, and for a while focus on real people’s problems? There are even those who ask how do we know that once this issue is resolved, the rulers would not cock up yet another crises to keep the public on its toes and away from focusing on the real issues of their life? Will the Iranian youth and enthusiasm again be mobilized to come to the streets to condemn this or that, on calls from Friday prayer clerics who are becoming “experts” in all kinds of things now?

I do not say that this is all a scheme by the rulers or even some of them. But if there are even a few who have such a way of running the country, from where must we begin our critique and from where must the call to stop it come from.