Some of the US analysts are pro-IRI and some are against IRI.  Of those who are against IRI, a small minority thinks IRI opposition is like the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and it can topple the regime and to establish a democracy in Iran. But the majority of those analysts think Iran is like Afghanestan and the Iranian forces are not able to topple IRI, individually or in unison, and they think Iranian forces should support the US to do the job for them, and they think the man to promote as the head of future Iranian state is Prince Reza Pahlavi.   And they think after Sept 11th, the option is for the US to install a Turkey-type state in Iran and they want to use the moment.


The truth of the matter is that *independence* is very key in the Iranian pro-Democracy movement and those who see it insignificant and dream to get to power in Iran, by US doing the job for them, will lose their credibility.  Iran is *not* Afghanestan and such a position would have *discredited* Prince Reza Pahlavi, if he had fallen for a US attack on Iran, which he fortunately did *not* fall for, and was smart enough to issue a communiqué against any US attack on Iran. And as I have noted before, Iran is not Afghanestan and this was the right political stand:

Having said all this, I do not think Afghan government is a puppet of the US. Even when the US has had a big impact to change power in some countries, the new regimes have not necessarily been puppet regimes. In fact, in the post-Cold War era, one does not see that many regimes fit the term *puppet*. I think neither US insists on having puppets nor the states of small countries are developing that way. Establishing good relations with the West, like what the Sheikdoms in the Persian Gulf have done, is actually good statesmanship, which PLO failed to do and lost what it had, and such good relations do not make these states puppets.  This is what I had written a while ago about effective relations with the West:

Ever since the establishment of IRI, some American policy-makers have sided with the pro-IRI lobbyists, and some others, have sided with the IRI opposition.  It is a mistake to think the latter have always been pro-monarchy.  Of the latter, they may support monarchy or any other group, whenever the policy of those groups coincides with the US policy.  On the other hand, the monarchists support US action in Iran when the US policy helps their position.   The American policy-makers do not look at the world the same way as the independent democratic forces of Iran.  In fact, when the Soviet union was collapsing, US policy-makers were mostly thinking of some moderated communism as the next step for the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloch, and they underestimated the people’s pro-Democracy movement in the former Soviet Empire, and of course another reason for their position was their fear of the uncertainty.  In sum,  the view of those US policy-makers underestimating the Iranian pro-Democracy movement, is wrong, which I have previously explained:

But we cannot stop the American policy-makers to have their own analysis, and they will do as they see the world, although we can hope to influence them at least not to support the pro-IRI lobby. This is how I see the US policy forming after the President Bush's State of the Union message and his note of "Axis of Evil", as I have noted it before:

And finally this is why many of us Iranians have written and signed the following letter to President Bush and heads of other states:

Now as far as Prince Reza Pahlavi, I think Iranians should discuss with him about one basic issue. That is the need for him to separate himself from monarchy and to support a *secular* republic. Many think the need for *secularism* is clear in our opposition and especially among the ones who do not want to be just an opposition, and want to be an *alternative*. Both those who are religious and those who are not, do not have a good grasp of full secularism.  As I have noted before, the author Alexis de Tocqueville has best described how religious people and clergy will come to terms with secularism if it is addressed clearly by secularists, as it was done by American movement, rather than being willy nilly, as we have unfortunately witnessed in Europe and in Iran. Even our Khatami has read Tocqueville but our secular-minded people have seldom read him to be able to communicate why anything short of *full* secularism will hurt Iranians who are  religious as well as those who are not religious.  Finally  I think the main reason the issue of full secularism has not been widely discussed and understood is because of the pro-IRI lobbyists who have impacted the opposition of IRI, even without the opposition noticing it, and have created the false notion that one is doing a favor to religious people by dropping secularism, whereas nothing is farther from the truth.  I suggest to all Iranians to read Tocqueville.  Here is what I have written on this before:

I think as far as assessing Prince Reza Pahlavi, I would not say this is a done deal and that he will be another Mohammad Reza Shah, although I wish he would take a strong stand on the past monarchy and I have noted it before.

As I have noted, as far as the future is concerned, Prince Reza Pahlavi's position on supporting *full* secularism is critical to his success because this is critical to the success of the Iranian pro-Democracy movement, and he needs to come to grips with it. Moreover, the republic is the platform that can unite the Iranian opposition and end the current major fracture which is monarchy verus republic:


I think Prince Reza Pahlavi is in a similar situation as Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shah *was* independent-minded, when in Switzerland, but actually attacked the British *too* much. He could have become a moderate president if he had worked with more statesmanship. In fact, Iran lost when he dropped out, and the British and other foreign governments wanted him to drop out. He would not be another Mohammad Ali Shah if he had taken power.  He could have been for Iran’s full independence, secularism, and republic if he used statesmanship and worked with the British and Russians, etc.

I think it is good that Prince Reza Pahlavi is talking to the press and US Congress and to the international organizations about human rights in Iran. I think it is good that he is supporting a democracy in Iran.  But I think he should be outspoken about the atrocities of the past Pahlavi monarchy as I have noted before which many like myself had suffered under the past monarchy:

I think Prince Reza Pahlavi needs to note the huge shortcoming of the lack of secularism in his program and the lack of emphasis on democracy, thru condemning the Savak atrocities of the past regime. Ahmad Shah should have done the same about Qajar and particularly about Mohammad Ali Shah's dictatorship.  He should have been the first to criticize the anti-secularism of having Shi'a as the official religion of Iran as well as the veto of 5 mojteheds in Iran’s 1906 Constitution.  He should have been the first to condemn the despotism and bombardment of Iran’s parliament (betoop bastan-e majles) by his father, Mohammad Ali Shah, in the past, which was a very fresh memory for the democrats of Iran in the early 1900s.  Ahmad Shah should have been the first one to condemn the bombing of majles and despotism of his father Mohammad Ali Shah, if he wanted to get the support of the democratic-minded Iranians, and the same goes for Prince Reza Pahlavi. That does not mean condemning his father as a father, which is a personal relationship, but it means condemning the despotism of his father's politics and regime.

We had the same period of akhoond bAzi for a couple of decades when Ahmad Shah was mostly in Europe and that period ended up with Reza Khan's dictatorship coming to power, rather than ending in a secular democratic republic. Ahmad Shah could even have raised the flag of secular republic which Reza Khan raised, at first with Ali Dashti and others' help.  Reza Khan dropped the flag of republic because of his ambitions and also because he did not want to do away with the clergy who were very anti-republican at that time and Reza Khan did not have the base that a Qajar prince like Ahmad Shah had and thus could not quickly stand up to the clergy, so accepted their anti-republican platform and made himself the monarch.  I think Ahmad Shah could have played the role of helping the transition of Iran to a democratic republic if he had added a little more statesmanship, secularism, and republican program, to his good focus on independence and democracy. 


As noted, here is what I have written about the Shi'a clergy and the future secular government in Iran, and again my main issue of keeping the clergy out of state offices of all three branches of future government in Iran is opposite to the plans of the monarchists, on the same issue of separation of state and religion.  They are just way behind the pro-democracy movement and are even behind the ordinary Iranian people who are clearly talking about full separation of state and religion everywhere:.


In conclusion, I think one should not write off Prince Reza Pahlavi and I hope he adopts republicanism and secularism to add to his good statesmanship.  I think Prince Reza Pahlavi's angle is good as far as statesmanship is concerned, but he needs to improve his program a lot as far as the issues of independence, secularism, and republic are concerned. This is what I wrote as to why I think Prince Reza Pahlavi needs to support a *secular* republic and why unity around a *secular* republic is so critical to the success of the Iranian pro-Democracy movement:



Sam Ghandchi, Publisher


April 2, 2002






* The above article was first posted on Jebhe BB on April 2, 2002


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