Sunday, July 17, 2005

Iranian Lessons


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.


  1. Good job, man. Keep the good work up. Just added you to my link list in my own blog. :)

  2. I think the point about oil is very pertinent. The regime can care two hoots about promoting economic development (by building the industry and service sector) as long as the oil revenues keep coming.

    But a friend mentioned that one of the best ways to put pressure on the regime is to control the sale of refined oil, natural gas and petroleum products to Iran, since most of the crude oil processing takes place outside the country. What do you think?

  3. To answer your question I have to ask you a question first:
    Who is legitimate to put pressure on any government in this world? The UN, or the United States? Who has the right to control the sale of refined oil or any other thing?

    I personally don't think the US has any right on such actions, but I wish we could have a democratic UN with more power over any government in the world, including Iran and the United States, to control them on every human rights issue.

    On the subject of refined oil I don't know much about. But as far as I know Iran is able to produce its own refined oil and petroleum. It is the natural gas that Iran needs to import to some extent.