Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
The Iranian "election" -and the winner is.......
(Tip of the hat to the great Don Martin)
I must confess I have very mixed reactions to the happenings in Iran over the "re-election" of Ahmadinejad. That's because I vividly remember the hostage crisis thirty years ago, when our diplomats were held under threat of trial and execution while a feckless president named Jimmy Carter wrung his hands in helplessness. Like most Americans, I was outraged. I could not understand why we did not go to war and crush Iran. Yes, it would have probably meant the deaths of most if not all of the hostages, but America would not have been humiliated by a third-rate country run by fanatical mullahs.
I also remember the behavior of some Iranians living in the US at the time, especially the so-called Iranian students, many of whom supported the revolution. I was stationed with DEA in Los Angeles at the time and recall that we had a rash of heroin and hashish smuggling cases involving young Iranians whose funding for their stay in America had been cut off. In one case, we arrested several Iranians connected with the seizure of hash concealed in framed pictures of the Ayatollah Khomeini. I remember the satisfaction I felt as I tore apart the portraits to remove the drugs in front of the prisoners, who gritted their teeth in silent rage.
I also remember the day shortly after our diplomats had been taken hostage that hundreds of Iranians decided to march through the streets of Los Angeles in support of the Ayatollah. They had been denied a permit but chose to march anyway. We knew there was going to be violence, and I have to admit, a couple of my colleagues and I were tempted to take the day off and go "kick some ass". Fortunately, we decided not to put our jobs on the line and we stayed put. As it was, hundreds of counter-demonstrators, outraged Americans, lined the streets and jeered the marchers. The police were out in force, but could not prevent the melee that ensued as the Iranians were spit upon and attacked by the counter-protesters. A lot of Iranians were beaten up that day including women. Many others were arrested along with members of the Jewish Defense League and their leader, Irv Rubin, who were right in the thick of it. (I was not an admirer of Irv Rubin.)
How did I feel about what happened? I was giddy with joy.
Suffice to say, I did not care much for Iranians in those days, and that is putting it mildly.
I also cheered when Iraq, under Saddam Hussein launched a war against Iran. I knew Iraq under Saddam was no ideal nation, but they were fighting our enemy, and so I thought it was right that the US gave support to Saddam in that instance.
Was I wrong to feel those sentiments? I honestly don't know. I do know, however, that I don't feel those sentiments now. As I have told my Iranian friends (Yes, I have a few), eventually, one needs to let go of those kinds of feelings. (Of course, I am much more aware now of the numbers of Iranians I meet who are refugees from the present regime.) So, was it racism on my part? No-it was wounded national pride. I am a nationalist, and I don't like to see my country humiliated.
But how am I supposed to feel now as we witness a mass wave of rejection on the part of so many thousands of young Iranians toward their despicable government? Again, I have mixed feelings. For many years now, I have refused to feel bad for the Iranian people living under such a backward government. After all, they chose that government, didn't they? They threw out the Shah, brought in the Islamic Republic and shouted, "Death to America", so it was my feeling that they had the government they deserved. I was more concerned with the dangers that government posed (and poses) to the West and Israel.
However, I have to take into account that Iran is a young country in demographics. Most of its people were either very young or not yet born in 1979. They see the freedoms that the West enjoys and they want to join in. Maybe they have been swept up in the world-wide Obamamania and they want to join in that as well, who knows?
At any rate, it is no longer 1979; it is 2009, and things are stirring in Iran. What should be the response of the Obama administration? The President is choosing his words carefully-as he should. Obviously, while he supports the idea of more freedom in Iran, the US doesn't want to be seen as propping up the opposition. That would be counter-productive. Are we working behind the scenes to undermine the Iranian government? Hard to say with this administration, but I hope we are. If this government can fall without us or Israel having to go to war, the whole world will be better off.
I have to confess, I still am cynical when I hear American politicians pander about the "Iranian people having the democracy they so richly deserve", but hopefully, there will be another Iranian revolution- as peaceful as possible. If the Iranian people can somehow remove this odious regime and restore Iran to a positive position in that volatile part of the world, I will tip my hat to them.
So there is my confession. The statute of limitations is in effect.