No Surprise That Everybody
Why are we behind in assessing Iran?
Thousands of articles and analysis have been published about Iran’s election and the potential winner. After victory of Ahmadinezhad all sources admitted “The Surprise“!
“Surprise” and only “Surprise”. Only one word. Is it really enough? Thousands of media outlets, hundreds of Institutions and think tanks, so many universities and agencies were just surprised and “moved on” analyzing. Is that all what analysts and thinkers can offer us ….?
Isn’t it about the time to admit that we are not really equipped to analyze Iran’s internal dynamism properly? In fact, neither our institutions have proper connection to Iran, nor our terminology and analytical language is developed in a functional manner.
Secretary of state, Ms. Rice message about election in Iran was so disconnected with reality that many other countries journalists started to joke about it and even compare the Iran and US election.
Talking about Iran has become very political. Many institutions and think tanks are suffering from very politically motivated ideas and concepts. For example American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on Iran is influenced greatly by people like Michael A. Ledeen who promotes war on Iran for many years. http://www.aei.org/scholars/scholarID.35,filter.all/scholar.asp
Another example is the Hoover Institution of Stanford University which enjoys the contributions of Dr. Abbas Millani. http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/bios/milani.html He was an extremist leftist before revolution in Iran and that extremism has still strong shadow over his works. His references to fascism, despotism and Iran’s intelligence is what John Bolton loves to see. http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/reaction_2632.jsp
The MEK (Mojahedi-e Khalgh) members, the famous terrorist cult, are being employed by Pentagon. Many institutions and news agencies like Fox use them as “Analysts”. What kind of analysis of Iran we can expect from them!!? The ex-Shah followers are of course also on the same path and follow Iran events with strong political motivations.
With so much investment in extremist anti-Iran forces how can we expect better result than “Surprise“.
Terminology and analytical language
During the election I red a piece of humor based on the terminology used in analyzing Iran’s society. The way the words like fundamentalist, hardliner, conservative, moderate, moderate conservative, reformer and so on entered the literature of media and scholarly works.
As a matter of fact, these intellectual abstractions of Iran’s society, categorizing and branding never proved to be efficient and hardly led to successful study of this country.
Actually, the most successful and long-lived terms in our literature were the ones that came from Iran, or also used there, particularly in the last eight years.
Most important Issue
The clergy in Iran is treated as an elite group. Traditionally they don’t expose their internal problems to public. They have even their own unique judicial apparatus in Iran. Their most influential and important schools and seminaries still support clergymen for presidency and key positions in government and congress (like speaker of Majlis).
With Ahmadinezhd’s victory, for the first time since 1979 revolution the “President and Speaker of the Majlis are Not Clergymen“. This may not result necessarily in a different way of handling Iran’s problem at this point, but it definitely opens a new chapter in Iran’s political arena.
For the first time in post-revolutionary Iran, class struggle was reflected clearly in the results of election. Hashemi, the wealthy powerful clergy lost to an ordinary man. The poor and oppressed people could easily identify themselves with Ahmadinezhad.
In addition, the closeness of Ahmadinezhad to many religious leaders and institutions, shows that the poor and oppressed are represented by people within the existing system.
Youth and Election
The fact that at the age 15 people can vote is never discussed or analyzed properly.
Participation in political life of society in an early stage of life always brings certain freshness and livelihood to political decision making. Keeping up with the demands of younger generation happens in a much faster pace. The politicians cannot ignore the demands of youth because they vote.
Unfortunately, giving so much political power to youth and its dynamics has not been the subject of research and scholarly works, just because voting at the age of 15 does not have much tradition in democratic societies.
Women and Election
As opposed to tons of literature about the discrimination of women in Islamic Republic, which is supposed to result in their opposition to the system, women participated strongly in election.
Just the fact that millions of women are very active in health care, NGO’s and so on is never present on women or feminist studies in the US. This year again, applicant for universities were 61% women and 39% men. The number of published literature by women was so high in the last few years that right now the numbers of all published titles by men and women are equal in Iran.
This massive energy and presence of women in social life and its effect on the whole system is never analyzed properly and doesn’t make headlines.
The whole Intellectual Machinery in the US is missing these many real an tangible issues. It seems that all the respectable Institutions, think tanks and agencies are becoming more and more an outlet of Neo-cons, “Project for the New American Century’ and people like Michael Ledeen and John Bolton who are the leaders of campaign for war on Iran.
On the other hand, Iranians have a long history of democratic movements. Many institutions like congress (Majlis) are the result of Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911). These institutions survived in different social systems of Shah, his father and Islamic republic. Voting system of Iran has hundred years history.
Iranians, from Mullah to Priest, from cities to villages, from Arab to Kurd or Azeri are born in this system and with these rights (whereas Ms. Rice mother and grandmother didn’t have the right to vote in United States of America).
Iranians have great ability to handle complex sitations................
Jul. 1st 2005
This article was published in Payvand.com