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The Task Ahead for those Committed to

Iran's Freedom

" ... Fortune and misfortune lie with the ruler, not with the seasons of heaven."

- Thai Kung-Chinese Thinker, from the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China


The Blame Belongs to the Clerical Leadership

The irresponsible behavior of the clerical government leaders in Tehran over the past decade or so has brought about the trade sanctions imposed by the United States. It is indeed un-fortunate that those least responsible for Iran's foolhardily and high risk foreign and domestic policies are those likely to suffer the greatest economic and political distress-namely the vast portion of the Iranian population. More to the point, the radical clerical leadership, in particular, those who promoted terrorism and instability in the regime are responsible for all the hardships the people of Iran face. Iran's involvement in terrorism and undermining of peace in the Middle East are finally recognized by the international police and security community.

As if this were not enough, the present regime has undertaken a surreptitious program aimed at achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Despite denials by the Iranian government over the past several years and most recently by President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani over the ABC television, there is sufficient evidence to put a lie to those denials. The world intelligence community has pieced together a collection of activities of Iranian government sponsored purchases of building materials and raw materials to construct a nuclear weapon. This activity is reminiscent of Iraq's nuclear weapons development program during the 1970's, which much of the world chose to ignore until it became obvious in 1981 with the functioning of the Osirak reactor. It is this irresponsible behavior of the Tehran regime with its threat to the international community and particularly to the security interests of the United States that has brought about the imposition of total economic sanctions by the American President and Congress. The result of this US - Iranian confrontation could mean further distress and suffering for the Iranian people.

The attitude (position) of Focus on Iran regarding the imposition of economic sanctions against the current regime is guided by two primary considerations: 1) concern for the safety and well-being of the Iranian people, and 2) the rationality of the US response to Iran's provocative and inimical behavior.

Even though the historical record of international sanctions indicates far less than total compliance, nevertheless some adherence to US sanctions can be expected. This would more likely happen if the US government retaliated against those non-compliers who benefit from a significant imbalance with the United States (e.g. Japan and some European countries).

The on-going economic sanctions imposed on Iraq may as well be indicative of the prospects of US imposed sanctions against Iran namely, the persistence of the rule of an unwelcomed despotic regime at the cost of political and economic oppression of its people. Moreover, as the world has found Saddam Hussein at shame for the suffering of the Iraqi people for his threatening and aggressive behavior against the international community, so will the radical fundamentalist regime be found responsible for the welfare of its people. The Tehran regime cannot escape its provocative behavior in the international community. The Iranian people may have to pay the price for their government's erratic behavior.

Secondly, the response alternatives available to the United States in the face of Iranian support of terrorism and nuclear weapons capability are limited short of military action. The United States' intelligence agencies as well as foreign sources have amassed sufficient credible data to convince even the most skeptical in the government and the Congress, of these Iranian activities. The response alternative of economic sanctions including cessation of all trade relations with Iran, though potentially harmful to the Iranian people, is understandable and rational. This was the conclusion drawn by Senator D'Amato (R - NY) and President Clinton in their respective congressional and executive measures for extraordinary trade sanctions reflects the general attitude and approval of the Congress and the American people.

As previously noted above, the "dual containment policy" of economic sanctions against Iraq and now Iran will meet with much resistance and will likely be violated by Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, who are major trading partners with Iran and importers of its oil. In light of this economic reality, the American response should be seen as a rational "thing to do". Put in more prosaic terns, "let the punishment fit the crime" of support for terrorism and pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.

We should take note here as to the response alternative offered by those not supporting the US-sponsored economic sanctions. Japan, the United Kingdom, most notably Germany and the European Economic Union in one voice insisted that talk and negotiations with Iran would yield better results than economic sanctions. Simply put, this is void of historic reality and represents a form of appeasement predicted on economic self interest rather than moral courage. From Iran's point of view, this tactic has been successfully learned from protracted and fruitless negotiations by the North Koreans and the North Vietnamese. In these "negotiations" intransigent Communists yield nothing as thousands more American casualties accumulated on the battlefield. It was only when the United States threatened with massive force that the Communists understood the cost of not negotiating in good faith. Likewise the Iranian leadership must realize it has nothing to lose by endless negotiating. The leadership in Tehran have nothing to fear from the detractors of economic sanctions. For its part, the United States has learned the tragic cost of this appeasing and bankrupt tactic.

Though it has already been acknowledged that economic sanctions will not be completely effective, the cost to Iran should not be dismissed. The first psychological implication of the sanction will be very important. Moreover, the American oil companies purchase approximately twenty percent (about $4 billion) of Iranian oil annually for resale as refined products outside the United States their immediate replacement by other buyers may not be as easy as some have stated in the press. Because of Iran's trade deficit and indebtedness to would be purchasing countries, they very well could opt to "pay" in liquidating the debt rather than paying in cash which the Americans and of course, the Iranian leadership would prefer. Perhaps even more costly to the Iranian economy is the long term effects of the loss of replacement parts for its American made oil drilling and refining processes. Much of this equipment needs overhaul and replacement, tasks that can only be performed adequately by the American suppliers. The rationality of the United States sanctions must also be seen in this light. However, the United States will try to convince the major industrial powers, that meet in Canada in June, to go along with the sanctions. Some specialists believe that even without the participation of Japan and Europe, United States sanctions will have important ramifications and will enhance prospects for replacement of the clerical regime. It will send the message to the world that the United States stands for principles even at the cost of loss of trade. It will increase dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with the despotic regime of the clerics. It will contribute to the growing unrest of the populace because of the worsening economic situation. It will diminish the ability of the regime to buy off internal and external opponents. And finally, it will limit the power of the Islamic Republic to finance over 130 terrorist organizations worldwide, and will weaken the support of the armed forces for the regime for lack of access to modern weapons and military technology.

The Questions of Human Rights and Moral Response

Behind the mere sensational explication of Iran's support of terrorism and nuclear weapons capability is its enduring and dismal record of denying its citizens their basic human rights. Whatever conditions prevailed prior to 1979, the sixteen years since then has witnessed a return to absolute authoritarianism, thought control, regulated moralism, religious conformism, etc. all in the name of the "revolution" and an enunciated and ordained revealed "True" Islam. Although the US-imposed economic sanctions do not ostensibly refer to the denial of human rights in Iran, those who care for freedom and human rights should understand that sanctions will help and lead to promotion of human rights. Unquestionably, the potential for increased political as well as economic distress for the Iranian populace is great. Unfortunately, this burden must be further endured by those most vulnerable and least able to resist such a burden. It is very discomforting and regretful, but it is a fact. It is hoped that a successful campaign against the external policies will bring about a change in domestic policy ultimately by forcing the present leadership to leave office voluntarily under pressure of public opinion or outright force. In the first case, the most desirable and peaceful transition to freedom and democracy would be achieved with the abdication of power by the present clerical leadership in recognition of their failed foreign and domestic policies. In the latter case, public reaction culminating in civil war would be the inevitable outcome with its anticipated loss of life and physical destruction. In any event, domestic repressive human rights issue must be an important consideration attendant to the response alternatives to the regime's threatening foreign policy ventures.

Sanctions and Human Rights - Important Considerations

No doubt the sanction policy against Iran will further isolate the despotic regime of the clerics, but will also increase the hardship and suffering of the Iranian people. Since it has been difficult for the United States to persuade its allies to pressure Iran, it is unlikely that sanctions alone can change the behavior of the regime. Europeans and Asians buy and sell over $15 billion worth of goods in Iran every year and this makes it difficult for them to change their policy toward Iran and support the US economic sanctions. The United
States must give serious thought, if it is really interested in fighting international terrorism and containing the current pariah regime of Tehran, to reconstruct relations with Iran, including consideration of all options to help Iranian people restore their rights. As we have said earlier, the most important factor to be considered is human rights that have been violated by the regime for the past sixteen years. Pursuing the clerical regime on human rights issue is the most important weapon. It will have the full support of the Iranian people and could be more effective.

President Clinton has repeatedly expressed his intention of promoting democracy and human rights in the world at large. Iran would be the ideal place for this. Sanctions may not be a very effective policy, but human rights will galvanize Iranians inside and the four million expatriates outside to support the United States policy and assist the United States in replacing the present despotic regime in Tehran with a moderate and democratic one. This is the only sure way to bring stability to the region, putting an end to Iranian support of international terrorism, Iranian anti-peace policy, and the dangerous drive to acquire nuclear weapons. President Clinton should know that the majority of the Iranian people long for the democratic and enlightened government that contributes to their security and peace in the region. They want to establish friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with America. What they need from the United States is moral support. Prior to the revolution, there was over 40 years of cooperative exchange of cultural, economic, security, and military between Iran and the United States. A potential of reservoir of good will and respect is still very useful for future United States - Iranian relationship.


The Task Facing the Supporters of Iranian Freedom The Iranian people and those who support its goals of freedom and democracy must prepare for the eventuality of the removal of the present regime by peaceful, or if necessary, by forceful means. They must be prepared mentally, financially, and physically to commit themselves not only to the removal of the regime, preferably through peaceful means, and to assume the forging of the a new democratic government with unconditional human and civil rights.
These freedom advocates must prepare an indictment of the
present regime based on the following counts:

• the violation of human rights • destruction of the economy

• support of domestic and external terrorism

• the undertaking of a program of nuclear weapons production and delivery program at the risk of danger to the security of the nation.

The major mental preparation requires a very deep felt understanding even though the situation now seems bleakest and impervious to change, change can only come through the tireless efforts of the Iranian people in and outside of Iran. Furthermore, this effort will require an extensive outlay of financial support (mainly from expatriates and other supporters) for various activities essential to bringing about the transition to democracy, the fact that the Iranian people would fight if necessary for freedom from a despotic regime is evident from its history. The fruits of victory is perhaps the most important and the most difficult task facing the Iranian people. For this they must be prepared to undertake sooner than most people realize, in order to achieve the goals of freedom and human rights, for the Iranian nation and its people.

 



 

 

 

 


 

 






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