I don’t find myself agreeing with Republicans very often these days, and I’ve never agreed much with Texans, but I’m in complete agreement with Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) right now. Today he was the only U.S. Congressman to vote against a resolution condemning the Iranian government and supporting the dissenters. In his statement he said:
I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little.
I agree with him that all too often American politicians rush to grandstand without bothering to study anything but the surface of an issue. What is going on in Iran right now is very dramatic, and very complex, and America has played several parts in the story, not all of them good. Indeed, our government has a pretty poor record over the last 30 plus years of meddling with Iranian internal affairs. Just to mention a few, we replaced their last democratically elected government with a monarchy and supplied their enemies (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) with weapons. If the United States wishes to promote democracy in Iran we would do better to not make “official” statements in opposition to the current Iranian government. Doing so just gives this admittedly corrupt and brutal theocracy the excuse they need in order to quash the dissent. If that happens the flickering candle of democracy in Iran will be put out before it can become a bonfire and it may be many years before it can flicker to life again.
While I am against the sort of usless non-binding resolution grandstanding that the House engaged in today I’m all for the stated purpose of the resolution. It just wasn’t something that needed to be said. The people of Iran who yearn for the freedoms of a Western-style democracy know very well that we stand with them in principal. It is uncomfortable to see friends in peril and not being able to do anything to help them. It’s a natural human reaction, I think, to want to at least speak out in their defense. This is all admirable and correct, but in this particular complex case the best way to help Iran towards freedom is to keep our official mouthpieces shut.
At least we can all be grateful for one thing, there is little doubt who has the moral high ground in Iran right now. Yesterday Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for an end to the demonstrations protesting the election results and even threatened the protesters saying, “If there is any bloodshed, leaders of the protests will be held directly responsible.” Be clear that this is a serious threat to use violence against peaceful protesters. By all reports the protesters in Iran have been entirely peaceful and non-violent. These are not wild looters run amok. In a truly civilized country using violence to crush peaceful dissent is simply unthinkable. It hasn’t happened in the U.S. since the 1968 Democratic Convention “police riot” in Chicago and the “Kent State Massacre” in 1970. Yes that’s sarcasm. Sometimes Americans annoyingly think their republic is perfect and not susceptible to the failings of other governments.
In any case, I’d like to thank Ayatollah Khamenei for making perfectly clear to everyone inside and outside of Iran what the source of Iran’s problems really is… himself. I desperately hope that the good people of Iran will one day break their chains and replace their primitive theocracy with a government that respects them and their basic human rights.