Today's New York Times' article by Michael Ignatieff is both well-written and accurate in the way it describes Iran.
I especially liked this section:
From their vantage point inside a theocracy, young Iranians long for ''a wall of separation'' between religion and government, as Thomas Jefferson called it, and they told me they found it puzzling, even disappointing, that religion and politics are not actually separate in the United States. I tried to explain that keeping God in his place in a democracy is work that never ends.
and this one:
In any event, America has almost no capacity to promote democracy inside Iran, and some capacity to do harm to Iranian democrats. Every Iranian I met wanted to spend time in the United States -- and wished there were more scholarships to take them to America -- but nearly every one of them laughed when I mentioned the recent Congressional appropriation of $3 million to support democratic opposition groups inside and outside the country. Iranian democrats look on American good intentions with incredulity. It would be fatal for any of them to accept American dollars. ''Do they want to get us all arrested as spies?'' one said to me.
But nothing is truer than this:
With oil at about $60 a barrel as I write, there is little likelihood that the regime will be forced to open up and reform the economy. But unless it does, there won't be much democracy or progress for the poor. One human rights truth, universally acknowledged, is that oil is an obstacle to democracy in every developing society. When a government can get what it needs out of oil derricks and ceases to derive its revenue from taxes, it loses any incentive to respond to the people. Theocracy in Iran is built on oil and will endure as long as the oil price holds up.
- Photo by Lynsey Addario/Corbis, for The New York Times.
- Read a criticism on Michael Ignatieff's views here in the leftist website, Counterpunch.