Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Can Leftists Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency achieved an agreement on how to resolve outstanding issues and set up a timeline for that -- a diplomatic coup for Tehran -- but the agreement has been immediately faulted, with the help of the New York Times citing only "nuclear experts" who repeat exactly the same things that were said about Iraq before the US invasion (see Elaine Sciolino, "Plan Released by Iran and U.N. Atomic Agency Is Faulted," 29 August 2007).

The New York Times also reports on the same page (Steven Lee Myers, "Bush Cites Nuclear Risk of Leaving Iraq," 29 August 2007):
President Bush told a receptive audience of veterans on Tuesday that an American withdrawal from Iraq would unsettle the entire Middle East, create a haven for Al Qaeda and embolden a belligerent Iran. He said Tehran's nuclear programs threatened to put "a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust."

Speaking here before the American Legion's annual convention, Mr. Bush said competing brands of Islamic extremism -- the Sunni model exemplified by Al Qaeda and a Shiite version that he said was abetted by Iran -- were vying for dominance in Iraq.

That, he said, made it imperative for the United States not to fail in establishing a pro-American government there.

"I want our citizens to consider what would happen if these forces of radicalism are allowed to drive us out of the Middle East," he said in a speech interrupted several times by applause. "The region would be dramatically transformed in a way that would imperil the civilized world."

Mr. Bush has previously warned Iran about its involvement in Iraq and its nuclear programs, but his remarks on Tuesday were especially forceful, and suggested that he was blending the justification for staying in Iraq with fears held by members of both parties in Congress that Iran could emerge as a threat. (emphasis added)
Most leftists in the USA have yet to digest the fact that the White House is making an argument that it won't withdraw its troops from Iraq unless and until it succeeds in "regime change" in Iran and installs a pro-Washington government there, for, otherwise, America will end up leaving Iraq in the hands of Tehran. Leftists, as a matter of fact, have been as incapable of coming to terms with Iran's Islamic government as the White House and Congress are, so there is no coherent response to the White House's commitment to "regime change" in Iran.

What should leftists do instead?

The first thing that leftists need to learn to accept is the fact that there was no chance of socialist revolution in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Iran and that there is no chance of that in Iran today or anytime soon (or anywhere else for that matter).

The second thing that leftists need to accept is that they have to make a case for America's normalization of its relation with Iran under the Islamic government as it exists, with all its vices and virtues, without waiting for the Iranians to reform or revolutionize it into a government to leftists' liking, or else America is on a collision course with Iran.

The third thing that leftists need to accept is that most Iranians, including reformists, do not think of Khomeini the way leftists do, just as most Americans don't think of Jefferson the way leftists do, most Russians don't think of Lenin and Stalin the way leftists do, and so forth. Listen to how Mohammed Khatami speaks. Notice that, even in his argument for democracy, he defends his position by invoking Khomeini.
President Mohammad Khatami lashed out Sunday night against foes of the country's reform movement, warning the opponents of democracy were defying the vision of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic.

"The rejection of democracy and the defense of dictatorship are threats to the Islamic Republic and such points of view are in contradiction with the aspirations of the Imam (Khomeini)," Khatami told government officials at a planning meeting for the anniversary of Khomeini's death on June 4, 1989. ("'Dictatorship Threatens Islamic Republic': Khatami,", 3 June 2002)
The fourth thing that leftists need to begin to think about is what kind of historical materialism may be useful to Muslims as well as others who will never become historical materialists themselves but may still find historical materialism useful as an intellectual tool in a certain context, such as in an attempt to understand the empire's political economy, but not as the only intellectual tool in all or even most contexts.

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