Sunday, November 04, 2007

“Operation Iranian Freedom” by Cyberspace Citizens

Tension between Iran and the United States is growing as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson announced economic sanctions to stop nuclear projects by the Ahmadinejad administration. Someone even talk of possible US-Iranian war over nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and Iraq. How do Iranian citizens see current their country under theocratic rule? Previously, I have mentioned an online magazine, called “Persian Journal” in the post, “Is Middle East Democratization a Neocon Plot?” on this blog. Let me review this online journal so that we could understand political logic and sentiments among Iranians.

The website of Persian Journal self introduces this online community as the following.

Persian Journal is the news division of the more comprehensive sites, a progressive Iranian online community and resource. Persian Journal is an online magazine of Iran's current events and Iranian culture featuring news, in-depth analysis and investigative reporting as well as opinions and commentary from a network of exclusive Iranian columnists and bloggers. It also features a very robust forum for discussion of news and current events. All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments and submissions are property of their posters and their source. The is not affiliated with political, religious or any other organization.

Quite interestingly, Persian Journal is published in English, although articles are contributed by Iranian columnists and bloggers. Apparently, they are keen on prevailing their opinions and information on Iran to Americans, Europeans, and people throughout the world, rather than to their Farsi speaking fellows. Persian Journal is outward oriented.

On the other hand, it is closely tied with Iranian communities both inside and outside Iran. Advertisements on this site are related to daily life of Iranians. For example, “Iranian Dots” provides Iranian singles with information for match making. Also, Iran Online is linked to Iranian communities of various agendas and interests.

Prior to reviewing commentaries and analyses on Iran, I would like to narrate recent news. In view of invigorated Kurdish separatist activities in Turkey, Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki accuses the United States of assisting PKK in order to pressure Iran to slow down its nuclear research program and stop sponsoring Islamic groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Palestine. Such a hardliner policy of the Ahmadinejad administration cause bitter criticism among moderate leaders such as Former Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Meanwhile, White House Spokes Woman Dana Perino explained that the United States was pursuing sanctions because it was exploring diplomatic resolutions rather than fighting against Iran. On November 1, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns met with delegates from EU3 of Britain, France, and Germany. Also, Russia and China sent their representatives for this negotiation in London as well. Russia and China are still reluctant for further sanctions after the London talk.

How do Iranians see political interactions with international communities? Kashayar Hooshiyar, Managing Editor of Iran Review, criticizes the Bush administration’s adherence to “fairy tale idea” of promoting pro-Western democracy and borderless economy in the Middle East despite hardships in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hooshiyar argues “In fact, Iran's hardliner and despotic president, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, has successfully been using such attacks to portray himself as anti-imperialist and the "Messiah" of the poor and oppressed people not only among the people of the region, but also, surprisingly, among a large segment of the Left in the West.” Furthermore, he says that the emergence of progressive mass democracy will be nationalist, and challenge Western imperialism of Coca-colonization, local autocrats, and capitalists. This is more serious threat to the United States than current theocracy in Iran, says Hooshiyar (“Iran, Iraq, and US Interests in the Middle East: Washington’s Dilemma”; Iran Review; October 30, 2007).

In my view, Hooshiyar does not understand strategic objectives of the American side. Just as Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argued at the policy forum at the University of Virginia, Americans are not interested in Coca-colonization or McDonald-ization. He says both Americans and Iraqis share vital interests in defeating uprisings by terrorists and radical Moslems. Hooshiyar dismisses that Iranian mullahs sponsor their activities.

Also, Hooshiyar confuses democracy with populism. Dmitri Trenin, currently the Vice President of the Carnegie Moscow Center, points out the real democracy is not simple rule of majority but politics by well educated and self conscious public. Radical nationalism of anti-Western, anti-Zionism, and anti-capitalism is not democracy. Remember that Egypt under the Nasser administration was far from democracy.

Persian Journal picks up opinions from the West as well. I would like to mention two of them, which describe dangerous nature of current regime in Iran. According to “Iran’s Leaders Need Enemies like Bush, and at Every Turn He Obliges Them” in The Guardian on October 29, “Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guard need US enemies to justify their idiocies at home and mischief-making in Iraq.” Although the United States pushes for harder sanctions, it can impose limited effect on already isolated Iran, says the writer. In addition, he comments that EU is eager to do business with oil rich Iran, and Russia and China are reluctant to help the Bush administration. Therefore, the Guardian talks of possible war between the United States and Iran.

In “Pressing Iran to Disarm” on October 29, “The Star” of Canada recommends that the Canadian government endorse UN efforts including harsher sanctions, and also urge the United States to negotiate with Iran, instead of threatening it.

Persian Journal takes up news and ideas of various sources and ideological backgrounds, in order to promote understandings for democratization of Iran. Non-political news and commentaries such as those on culture, entertainment, and sports are published as well in this journal. Persian Journal is useful to understand politics and daily life of Iranians, including those who are in exile.