TABOO: IRANIANS AND THE WEST
I believe the approach of us Iranians, when dealing with Western powers, has been flawed for over a century. All our progressive historians and politicians, have written only about the interferences and mischiefs of the Western powers in Iran, and have portrayed the self-pity as the independent stand, and have not reviewed whether the approach of Iranian progressive forces, in dealing with the West, has been flawed or not.
It seems like our progressive personalities, and political organizations, had viewed that any relationship with the West, would end up to be like that of vosoogh-ed-doleh, and they always avoided any relationship, especially when not in power. When in power, some like Mossadegh, had to deal with the West, and were not well-established in their rapport, not only with the West, but even with the Soviet Union, whereas their reactionary counterparts, like Qavam-ol-saltaneh, had established a long rapport, not only with the West, but even with the Soviets.
I think the mistake has been that our progressive politicians had thought that any relationship with the foreign powers would have to be that of a puppet and a master, which was mostly true about Shah's relationship with the U.S. or hezb-e tudeh's relation with the USSR. Also our progressive politicians had thought of relations with the West, as if it had to mean a secret relation with the Western governments, whether involving territorial promises, like that of vosoogh-ed-doleh in the long past, or monetary dealings, like that of teemsAr Madani witrh CIA, in the recent years, which was not in open, and was admitted by him, only after news media had leaked the story.
The above are not the only possible kind of relations with the West, and in fact these are the master-slave type of relations, that mostly are formed in secret, behind the closed doors. But a proper relationship does not have to be like this. A representative of an Iranian political or human rights organization can contact a Western government or a Western political party, such as the U.S. Democratic Party, *openly*, and can discuss issues of mutual interest, and there is nothing wrong with this. An Iranian political or human rights organization does not have to be in power to create such international relations and does not have to speak for *all* Iranians before creating such relations.
Of course, such relations do not mean that such organizations are representing all Iranians, and it simply means that they are representing their constituencies, and as such are discussing issues of mutual interest of their constituencies, and the constituency of their counterpart. This is something that political, cultural, and human rights organizations in the Western countries have been doing between themselves, for over a century, and their relationships are not limited to the relations of heads of states, or just that of political parties that are in power.
I think the critical point in all these rethinking of relations with the West should be *full openness*, about any such contacts, and making sure that the constituencies are well-aware of all discussions, especially when such contacts are with governments, or offices related to various governments.
Unfortunately, not only the hostage-taking and death threats against Salman Rushdie by Islamic Republic of Iran, isolated Iran from the West, the Iranian political and human rights organizations, also fell in the trap of isolating themselves from the West, by being scared to be called pro-US, etc, and they avoided to contact various governmental, political, and human rights organizations in the West regarding issues of mutual interest. The only organizations they contacted were U.N. or international human rights bodies. I think this is not enough.
In a way, Iranian progressive forces self-censored themselves, even when they were living in the free atmosphere of the West for 20 years. This taboo only has hurt what they could otherwise achieve, and also has further kept the Iranian progressive forces isolated from the world. I think it is now time that all progressive forces of Iran to establish *open* and *direct* contacts with as many political, cultural, human rights, media, and governmental organizations in the West, and the rest of the world, to communicate their stands on Iranian issues to the world.
Staying away from *openly* discussing issues of mutual interest with political entities in the world, only helps the ones who are making secret deals with the worst enemies of Iran, behind the closed doors, to succeed. The same ones, whom at the same time, have their veins inflated giving anti-imperialist slogans, are issuing death sentence to kill students, who have used the human right of freedom of expression and association to express their demands.
It is time that we get rid of all these nonsense taboo, that we have believed as "anti-imperialism", which has only helped the enemies of Iran to speak to the world, as the sole representatives of Iranians all over the world.
Dec 29, 1999
* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Dec 29, 1999.