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Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2006
By: Ogged

The Secret Police

The recent New Yorker article on Iranian exile groups isn't online, but Jackmormon has a very good summary. The motivations of both the US and Iran are hard to read, but there's one point that everyone should keep in mind.

The Iranians in Iran--the ones who are speaking out, going to jail, and sometimes being murdered, the ones who have fought for two decades for every bit of democracy they have today--are the ones who should choose and run any "post mullah" government, if there is to be such a thing. You'd be hard-pressed to find a population anywhere that had shown a greater commitment to democracy, and that had so clearly earned the right to self-determination.

The exile groups are opportunists, hoping to be installed by force in case the mullahs are removed from power. You can ignore the MEK, which is quite literally a cult, and to which most Iranians are hostile. Reza Pahlavi's threat to Iranian self-determination is more real, if only because he's playing the political game in here in the States, and just enough people in the administration might be credulous enough to think that he's a viable leader, or cynical enough to hope to install a puppet. There's a priceless moment in the New Yorker article when the reporter tells him that people would take his talk of democracy more seriously if he would just renounce any desire to become king. His response is that it's not for him to tell the monarchists that he shouldn't be king.

Even more to the point, Americans should review what they know about SAVAK. SAVAK was the Shah's secret police, responsible for spying on, silencing, torturing, and murdering the opposition. This is relevant because Pahlavi's organization is stocked with former members of SAVAK. For all his talk of "looking toward the future" and not "reliving the past," Pahlavi is dragging the most evil parts of Iran's past with him, and relying on them to bring him to power. Every time he's interviewed, he should be asked what he's done to purge SAVAK from his inner circle, and whether he can guarantee that no former member of SAVAK holds a position of influence in his organization. He hasn't done a thing, of course, and he can't guarantee any such thing. He just hopes no one will ask.

Ogged 5:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

Pahlavi, Chalabi. Gads they sort of sound the same.

Some group headed by Pahlavi running a post Imam Iran is about as qualified as some group headed by Chalbi would have been running Iraq.

Posted by: ET on March 13, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think Americans in general should learn a little something fromt he Iraqi experience and regard any exile groups with a certain amount of skepticism. This applies not just in the Middle east but to Vietnamese and Cuban exiles as well.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on March 13, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Pie ?

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

Posted by: daCascadian on March 13, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK
Reza Pahlavi's threat to Iranian self-determination is more real, if only because he's playing the political game in here in the States, and just enough people in the administration might be credulous enough to think that he's a viable leader, or cynical enough to hope to install a puppet.

The Bush crew would have to be stupider than even I am capable of believing for them to fall for that, what with the stunning success of the shuttle-in-Chalabi-&-Crew-to-run-Iraq "plan" to look back on.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

One can safely assume that if it is possible to back the wrong horse in this fight, the current administration will do it.

I am looking for Pahalvi to be installed as the next King Shah of Iran should a regime change occur.

Posted by: nut on March 13, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Then again, when a senior White House aide with a $161,000 annual salary resigns just ahead of charges in a bizarre theft scheme, perhaps this gang shouldn't be given all that much credit for smarts...

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush crew would have to be stupider than even I am capable of believing for them to fall for that, what with the stunning success of the shuttle-in-Chalabi-&-Crew-to-run-Iraq "plan" to look back on.
Posted by: cmdicely

They're pretty stupid. Bush still says things are doing fine in Iraq.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 13, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

if'n you know whats good fer you, you best stop hating america boy.

Posted by: ubest on March 13, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that the Us government ALREADY helped install a Reza Pahlavi to power a while back... sure turned out great!! Let's do it again!

Posted by: Frenchdoc on March 13, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

The exile groups are opportunists, hoping to be installed by force in case the mullahs are removed from power.

Of course they are. So were the mullahs in their time. There are rarely any white hats to be found.

Pity you weren't Iraqi back in 2003, huh?

Anyways, the more interesting (or direct) question: would Pahlavi be willing to abdicate in favor of another clean-handed heir if that meant the return of a Shahenshah to the Peacock throne?

ash
['Wanted: Shah Elizabeth I.']

Posted by: ash on March 13, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

It is very likely that a multi-party election in Iran would result in mullah-dominated government. They were elected in Iraq, albeit mullahs of a less orthodox persuasion. There are many urban Iranians who would like liberalization of a sort, but I dont think they have the numbers to dominate the country.

The most important issue for the western powers is that the Iranians of all political stripes are nationalists. They are all acutely aware of western exploitation of their country and the puppet governments that have been set up in the past. Irans introduction to the US foreign policy was the CIAs successful plot to overthrow Mossadegh. There is no way they would accept a government with ties to the West anymore than Americans would accept a government in Washington brought to power by the Chinese.

They have seen the benefits of western liberal goodwill before. He was the Shah. He will not have a successor.

The Iran-Iraq war was one way of containing Iran. Unfortunately, America's ally, Saddam Hussein, got too greedy. Proxy war, chaos and sanctions could again be the strategy that is used by the cons against Iran. Democracy will certainly be the cover story used to justify the suffering.

Posted by: bellumregio on March 13, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

would Pahlavi be willing to abdicate in favor of another clean-handed heir if that meant the return of a Shahenshah to the Peacock throne?

I don't think there is any other heir: the dynasty was founded by his grandfather, a military officer, after a coup.

And given that brief bit of history, anyone in America who thinks that the Pahlavis have any claim to be leaders in Iran should be ignored.

Posted by: Wapit on March 13, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

It is very likely that a multi-party election in Iran would result in mullah-dominated government.

I don't know why you think so. The most recent election, which Ahmadinejad won, was largely boycotted by liberals. When they didn't boycott, the most progressive candidate who was allowed to be on the ballot, Khatami, got around 70% of the vote. If the elections where truly open to any candidate, it's very unlikely that the mullahs would retain much power at all.

Posted by: ogged on March 13, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio >"...There is no way they would accept a government with ties to the West anymore than Americans would accept a government in Washington brought to power by the Chinese..."

Hmmm, since "We the people..." do have one of those, then maybe you are actually suggesting Iranians would like a Western tied government

This international stuff gets soooo confusing so maybe "We the people..." should close the doors so we don`t have to be bothered

Oh, wait...

"The future will be a struggle between huge competing systems of psychopathology." - J. G. Ballard

Posted by: daCascadian on March 13, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Those members in SAVAK probably still get paid from the CIA as in the good old days. No chance Pahlavi is going to purge them from his organization.

Posted by: MartinE on March 13, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose we should feel honored to be getting so much "inside the beltway" commentary, us being knee-jerk liberals who never got food poisoning at a church potluck or nuthin'.

Allee samee, I want no part of this "post-mullah government" talk. The Iranians seem to have a government at least as democratic as our own. Everything the Bush people are doing is making that government more popular with the Iranians, who are probably not too impressed by what they see in Iraq.

I don't know who Ogged is, but at 420 I'm going to hope my stash is as good as what he's been smoking. Even if it is, it won't get me so far from reality that I think there is going to be a "post-mullah government" in Iran for some time to come.

If we lose an army in Iraq, though, we may see a post-Bush government here a little sooner than we expected.

Posted by: serial catowner on March 13, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

my mother lived in Iran for a number of years when it was still under the Shah. there is still a latent degree of support for the Pahlavis (the advances that women made under the Shah are indisputable) but it would certainly be foolish to seek a restoration of the monarchy.

Pahlavi could play a certain nostalgic peace-making rule, akin to that which the former monarch played in Afghanistan a couple years ago.

Posted by: Nathan on March 13, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

What a great idea it was for the Eisenhower Administration to overthrown Mossadegh's democratically elected government in Iran in 1953! These Republican foreign policy blunders, coups and misadventures haunt us a half a century later. We should never elect another Republican president, given their grievous mishandling of foreign policy for the last 100 years!!!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 13, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK
Allee samee, I want no part of this "post-mullah government" talk. The Iranians seem to have a government at least as democratic as our own.

Well, at least here, the Republicans (even if they end up stealing the election via Diebold) don't outright prohibit the Democrats from running.

Iran may be more democratic than lots of countries on Earth, and particularly in the Middle East, but its not "at least as democratic as our own", even with all the problems we have.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Pahlavi has as much legitimacy to become involved in Iranian government as a Texas cow has of becoming President of the US.

Oh wait.

Posted by: Dave Alway on March 13, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

With Republicans it's all about what they can get away with, and nothing else. Arlen Specter has apparently been told he can be vice-president if Cheney resigns so now he's arguing that the fisa court is unconstitutional.

Posted by: cld on March 13, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Our position in pushing for regime change in Iran has even less credibility than our pro-democracy stance in Iraq. With our interventionist history, we are the last ones who could achieve success by bringing about democracy at the point of a gun. I would compare watching our actions in Iran after the Iraq debacle as comparable to watching Kenneth Lay pitch investors on a new start-up company.

Posted by: HL Mungo on March 13, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's nonsense to compare SAVAK to what the Mad Mullahs did from 1979 on. Estimates of the numbers of people killed by the mullahs in the first year of their rule are between one-half and one million people. That's substantially more than the Shah had killed in his entire reign. The SAVAK brutes, and brutes they were, were pikers compared to the Mad Mullahs.

And the Mad Mullahs haven't stopped. Add in the general repression of the last twenty years, the persecution of Bi'hais, the denigration of women, the execution of children, the senseless war with Iraq (and the human wave assaults the Iranians stupidly used because the Mullahs really didn't give a damn how many fifteen year boys died), the push for nuclear weapons, the support for terrorist movements around the world (so obvious that even liberals ackowledge it), and I have to say, Reza the Wonder-Boy starts looking not-so-bad in comparison.

If the people of Iran were allowed to choose a government (oh that), they might have one that isn't 'Western', but I doubt they'd willingly choose one that's bloodthirsty, whether led by a peacock pretender or a mullahocracy. They just might want to be left alone, and that's what we should be working for there. If it means letting a peacock strut for a while, so be it.

Posted by: Steve White on March 13, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

"looking toward the future" and not "reliving the past"
How many times y'all heard that in the last six years?

Posted by: farmergiles on March 13, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Senseless war with Iraq----??

Steve you surely remember that Iraq invaded Iran with the support of the US. We actually provided intelligence to Iraq. Oh and that was also when Rumsfeld visited Iraq and cheered up Saddam and brought him goodies.

I can't imagine why the Iranians may not trust us very much after we supported the carnage that Saddam inflicted upon them with Reagan's and Bush's support. The Surprise after 9/11 was that they helped us with Afghanistan and wanted to soften relations with us until GW slapped tehm around and put them on the axis of evil list.

Posted by: latveria on March 13, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

You know, Steve White is so stupid it makes me respect tbrosz.

Posted by: grh on March 13, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Im still expecting an attack on Iran before the end of March, when Iran goes to a Euro-denominated petroleum market. The Bush crime family and the Carlyle Group cant allow that to occur. Here is a fairly transparent way for the Pentagon to telegraph their intentions with regards to attacking Iran. These people are so criminal and predictable it hurts.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 13, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody know what Hitchens says about Iran? What's his take on Pahlavi?

I'm looking for the usual contra-indicators.

Posted by: bobbyp on March 13, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

To quote Charles Foster Kane, "There will be no war." He was talking about WWII and was wrong. I'm taking about Iran. The reasons include
(1) there is no bad guy, i.e. Saddam Hussain type to get American's blood boiling despite what the loudmouth prez of Iran is saying.
(2) everbody knows Iran is a much bigger country to tackle than Iraq.
(3) Cheney and is insane gang are no longer in charge.
Skipping to #18, we have 130,000 troops in Iraq that will get vaporized by Iraqi Shites.

Posted by: Big Red on March 13, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. isn't going to do anything at about Iran until we take another big hit like the 9-11 attack. Then, if Bush is still president, the big war will be on, whether or not any evidence trail at all of the terrorist attack leads back to Tehran.

And the Bushies are right. When someone hits us as hard as the WTC attack, we have to hit back harder. You can't stand around and suck your thumb waiting for a five-year forensic investigation and a complete historical trail on all the terrorists. Chances are the terrorists are smart enough to misdirect you when you get back to the real masterminds and financiers anyhow. Just pick out what appears like a rat's nest and go kill rats. It's not rocket science, but it's not for a nation of whiners, either.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 13, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

You miss having Saddam's secret police keeping order in Iraq, why do liberals suddenly care
about secret police now?

I thought a central tenet of leaving Saddam alone, was that Arabs are incapable of anything better without civil war?

Posted by: Mca on March 13, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for blogging about this. I was wondering what your take would be on the article as I read it.

Posted by: Becks on March 13, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of being terribly obvious: what? Have we not learned from the disaster of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and now Iraq, that terraforming the world in our image ends generally in misery and disaster, until the people themselves finally rise up and take control? have we become so blind to the lessons of Empire that we forget Empires all have one thing in common, the one thing that leads to their own end? Why is anyone in government seriously involved in anything remotely resembling a "Post Mullah" society in which we apparently play the role of idiot?

Posted by: Chris on March 13, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

There's a priceless moment in the New Yorker article when the reporter tells him that people would take his talk of democracy more seriously if he would just renounce any desire to become king. His response is that it's not for him to tell the monarchists that he shouldn't be king.

There's nothing inherently undemocratic about a monarchy, or the restoration of a monarchy. C.f. Spain for a fine example of a restored monarchy that helped to restore democracy.

That said, bringing back the Pahlavis would be more like bringing in Franco's son to rule Spain than like bringing back the Bourbons. The Pahlavi regime was despicable, with little in the way of redeeming features (I suppose its secularism would be vaguely praiseworthy, except that the fact that secularism became closely associated with the Shah's bruality served to delegitimize secularism in Iran for decades, and counting). SAVAK was a horrible business, and any group largely relying on support from former SAVAK people should be shunned.

Posted by: John on March 13, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a thought...we could mind our own business.

I am a little more than tired of
America being a bank and army for every "exile" (and their lobbies) who wants to ovethrow his homeland be installed as King.

I liked my gas prices better when we wern't trying to become an empire in the ME.

I could also do without the 5 billion to Israel every year...and the 2 billion we give to Egypt to make them play nice with Israel.

It would also be nice to discover where all the missing billions went in Iraq.

And while I am wishing I wouldn't mind seeing some hanging of some pentagon Generals and assorted officals for the Iraq torture blight on America.

Needless to say I won't be voting for the repubs or the demos.

We need a revolution more than we need another round of musical chairs.

Posted by: Carroll on March 14, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Wash Times needs some new copy editors - I've seen better proofing from a co-op newlsetter.

Posted by: kenga on March 14, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

I don't even recall where I read it (Salon?) about a year and half ago, but ever since I've been waiting for Reza Pahlavi to surface a la Chalabi as a "democratic" exiled alternative to the exisiting Iranian regime.
Because, you know, the current US leadership can't seem to let any bad ideas alone, much less the egregiously bad ones.
I can't help but wonder if they'll cut a deal to sell some F-18s to Iran before or after the Pahlavi crowd is back in-country.
I mean, it's bidness, right?

Posted by: kenga on March 14, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

My predictions from now until the election of 2008, based on two scenarios:


Scenario One; we don't get hit by another 9/11 sneak attack, maybe using a genuine WMD. In this case, the Bush policy of believing that there are good Moslems in the world and that Moslem societies are capable of becoming modern democracies will look morally responsible, even prescient.

Scenario Two; we do get popped with a small nuke or a bad, lab-designed epidemic. In that case the neo-cons will not worry too much about trying to find the precise regime that sponsored the attack, they will just watch the video news from several nations. If they observe that there is dancing in the streets and a great celebration in Tehran because a million Americans have been slaughtered, we will slaughter two or three million Iranians. We may even set some aside for special interrogation before killing them.

The Iranians need to understand this about the U.S.A. They need to know that my prediction is spot on. I would even venture to say that if there is a President Clinton after 2008 the outcome would be substantially the same. The Clintons do believe in "good Arabs" by the way, because every now and then Bill goes over to give them a guest speech for a nice big check (saying things the U.A.E. wants to hear, of course.) Bill got some nice big checks from Enron as well, so he knew how to make nice to people in the energy business. Hillary is unlikely to come down differently on any policy than her husband did.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 14, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

And a big hidey-ho to everyone who doesn't realize that "post-mullah government" is code language for "after the U.S. messes with Iran".

Posted by: serial catowner on March 14, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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