'Democratizing' Iran: A Case of Déjà Vu
by Leon Hadar
In the 1993
movie comedy Groundhog
Day, Bill Murray plays a weatherman who is reluctantly sent
to cover a story about the rodent whose internal clock is believed
to be affected by annual changes in the amount of daylight and who
is supposed to start ending their hibernation on the second Feb.
2 (marking the midpoint of winter).
This is the
weatherman's fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to
hide his frustration. On awaking the following day he discovers
that it's Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. First he uses
this to his advantage, and then comes the realization that he is
doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the
same people do the same thing EVERY day. In short, he is having
the worst day of his life... over, and over...
I was reminded
of that movie during a lunch with an old friend who works on Capitol
Hill and who insisted on using Yogi Berra's famous line: "It's
like deja vu all over again" when discussing the Bush Administration's
evolving strategy to do a "regime change" in Iran, ranging
from the recent announced plans to spend US$85 million to "support
the cause of freedom in Iran this year" to the proposals to
impose economic sanctions against Iran and perhaps even use military
power to bomb its nuclear facilities.
My friend told
me that he was starting to feel indeed like the weatherman in Groundhog
Day, as though he was being transported back in time to the period
in 2003 that preceded the US invasion of Iraq and the ousting of
again, we are having the same kind of secret briefings, based on
mysterious documents and CIA sources that should convince that Iran
is a potential nuclear military threat," he noted. "Then
there are all these shady figures representing Iranian 'exile groups'
who show up on Capitol Hill and who are ready to go and 'liberate'
their country, that is, with just little help from us, and all the
many lobbyists for pro-democracy-in-Iran front organizations who
are asking us for our US dollars to pay for their propaganda campaign
against the Ayatollahs in Teheran."
And of course,
there is Vice-President Dick Cheney who in a repeat performance
of his role in the pre-Iraq-War Be-Afraid-Very-Very-Afraid blitz
has already appeared before an audience in Washington threatening
Iran with American action. "The Iranian regime needs to know
that if it stays on its present course, the international community
is prepared to impose meaningful consequences," Mr. Cheney
said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
"We join other nations in sending that regime a clear message:
we will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons."
is the U.S.-led effort to get the United Nations Security Council
to adopt a resolution calling on Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment
efforts, or else. And I suppose that based on the script of the
old regime-change movie, we should get ready for an appearance by
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the UN Security
Council in which she reveals the "intelligence" collected by the
U.S., British, and Italian agencies about Iran's weapons of mass
not unlike Iraq exiles before the invasion of Iraq, are positioning
themselves to get support from the Bush Administration in the hopes
of being able to fill any ensuing power vacuum in the wake of a
possible regime change in Teheran, according to an article by Connie
Bruck in a recent issue of the New Yorker.
Ms Bruck also
reports that the man being groomed by the neocons to lead the March
to Freedom in Iran is Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Mohammad
Reza Shah Pahlavi, and that one of the Iranian exile organizations
that enjoy the support of Capitol Hill is the Mujahideen-e-Khalq
(People's Mujahideen), or MEK. It is the best-funded and best-organized
of the groups – and has been on the State Department's Foreign Terrorist
Organization list since 1997.
they said "Chalabi," and now they say "Pahlavi."
Indeed, those neo-conservative operators who persuaded President
George W Bush to buy a used rug from Mr. Ahmed Chalabi and the rest
of the crew of Iraqi con-men, are now certain that Mr. Pahlavi and
his potential allies will soon establish democracy in Iran.
In a way, as
we listen to what the former fans of Mr. Ahmed Chalabi are saying
about their new man, Mr. Pahlavi, one can paraphrase Karl Marx and
add that Yogi Berra touch and conclude: Déjà vu repeats itself all
over again, first as tragedy, second time as farce.
Hadar [send him mail] is
Washington correspondent for the Business
Times of Singapore and the author of Sandstorm:
Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan). Visit
© 2006 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted
with permission of the author.