So, we’re told there’s a big revolution, or at least the beginnings of one brewing in Iran, stemming from the questionable results of the June election there and the popular movement those have ignited. I’ve had some trouble digesting this. And, given some recent snippets I’ve heard, I’m even more torn.
No theocracy is legitimate—be it manifested in Europe’s medieval divine right of kings, the Ottoman Sultanate, Israel’s current practice, or Iran’s “Islamic Republic” (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one)—and ought to be terminated.
But is the termination of that illegitimacy what’s happening in Iran? It’s certainly a step in the right direction when people rise up against abusive rulers. But in this case, our pleasure ought to be tempered. Given a broader context, who comes out on top may come to be a perfect example of “be careful what you wish for, it might come true.”
Let’s step a few hundred kilometers west, to another election-riven country, Lebanon. Consider how much noise was made by the Western powers in the lead-up to its June election. Consider that the Saudis reputedly spent $750 million or so on that election (if true, that’s more than both sides spent on the U.S. presidential election last year). A related story is that of last-minute vote buying. I’ve heard two stories about two different electoral districts, quite some distance apart. In one, votes were going for about $3,000, and in the other, $7,000. These numbers seem exaggerated to me, but probably represent a serious kernel of truth.
Now let’s step north, and back in time a few years. The “colored” revolutions that brought pro-Western parties to power in the former Soviet space—the current Russians’ “near abroad”—didn’t just happen by themselves. Undoubtedly they had some assistance. That’s always the case when outsiders want to stick their nose in another country’s business. They latch on to a real, though often struggling, native, indigenous, home-grown movement.
Given all this, and given that Iran’s much-touted “revolution” is probably just a step along a long road, I’m having trouble getting very excited over the progress. Plus, it seems that wherever the U.S./West has meddled, it’s been to Armenians’ detriment. In Iran, the leader/figurehead of the current resistance, Mousavi, is an Azeri, prompting some concern as to what policies he might pursue relative to Armenia if he were to get into office. This is particularly important since the current and previous Iranian government have been, at worst, fair with Armenia. In Lebanon, the winning side in the recent elections, supported by the Western meddlers, chose figureheads with Armenian names as their candidates for parliament. Four of the six Armenian seats went to these people who are not poised to serve our community’s interests, but likely do the bidding of their puppet masters on the Lebanese political scene. In Georgia, the West’s intrusion brought us Saakashvili and the Georgian-Russian war. The outcome for us? More oppression in Javakhk and Armenia’s trade routes badly impacted. The Ukraine, already friendlier with Azerbaijan than any sane Armenian would want to see, is even more able now to pursue that dangerous policy path.
We as a world-wide dispersion have entered a particularly perilous time for our scattered nation, and that’s without factoring in the frightful reports of a looming sellout on Karabagh. But I can’t even address that issue meaningfully because the current leadership in Yerevan has shrouded the entire Armenia-Azerbaijan and Armenia-Turkey diplomatic process in extreme secrecy. It’s time to get reengaged in our national political life if you’ve been one of those armchair-observer-critic types, or just plain busy/lazy.
Now, for that apology. It’s unpalatable, big time, for me, because I owe it to our meddlesome, as described above, Department of State (DOS). It seems the structure of the Q&A at Ambassador Yovanovitch’s session at Ferrahian, which I described in last week’s piece, was not DOS’s doing after all. My fault, I had not inquired deeply enough. However, the reality of the situation is even worse. The event organizers themselves had imposed that format, effectively gagging, masking, and attenuating the revulsion that people’s voices and bearings would have conveyed to the ambassador. She would then have, presumably, carried the prevailing mindset to her misguided bosses. But because Yovanovitch allotted only an hour and a half, based on what I was told, the organizers decided on this format lest someone take up too much time. That may seem like a valid concern on the surface, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to turn around and say, “No, madam ambassador, we need you for two and a half hours.” But gee, that might have cut into the dinner I understand was hosted for her right before the event…
Wrongheadedness abounds everywhere, fight it.