The foreign policy section of the state of the union speech was expected to focus on Iran, as it did. At about the same time, the five permanent members of the security council agreed on referring Iran's nuclear irregularities to the UN after a two-year-long round of talks between Iran and the three European powers collapsed as Ahmadinejad was assuming his position as the new president of the Islamic Republic. The big turn was the coming on board of Russia and China on whom Iran's foreign policy seemed to count to vote on its side in return for trade and oil deals. Iran's position seems very fragile. With American troops on both east and west side of the country, the Iranian government's only winning card might prove one that is farther removed from its borders—Hamas.
As the events are unfolding in the region, with Sharon gone and his Kadima party left unformed, with Hamas taking power without showing signs of changing attitudes, and with Syria cornered and Iran under pressure, there will surely rise a new alliance. In fact the itineraries of the three men in charge, Khalid Mashal, Bashar Asad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad show clear signs of the new triangle. As Mr. Ahmadinejad gains notoriety with his anti-Holocaust series and moves rapidly to break with the world on his government's nuclear plans, and instead forms a new and true axis with the known trouble-makers in the region, these developments seem to indicate that the world is converging on a point of conflict centered at Iran.
This is a very frightening perspective. An attack on Iran, on any scale, is sure to cause havoc in the region. This is only partly because the armed forces of the Islamic Republic are numerous, parallel, and fed with an ideology that holds human life only as an expendable good in the path to heaven. After all, even in its current situation the US still has the might to win the battles if she commits to it. It is mainly because after the battles of war are won, the peace can hardly be managed in a way that would sustain itself. The reasons for this, besides an expected poor performance of the Americans and a hesitant international commuinty or the UN as evidenced in Iraq, should be found in the region itself. In short, I believe, the terrorists who would be put on the defensive by a military action, cannot be successfully beaten by the attacking armies and, most importantly, the people. That could lead to a prolonged civil war with an unknown and mounting number of casualties. Even if you disagree and think that the people have that ability, then you should agree with me that there is a better way that we should use it to beat the terrorists, which does not include a war of guns, at least in the outset.
The fact is, my Iranian compatriots and I cannot count on the foreign powers to act as our benevolent protectors. After all, they are justifiably after their own interests as they see them. If they see it in their interest to launch a military attack, limited or all-out, they will rationally do so even if it brings misery to our people. The solution is here with us; or to be more precise, in us. Instead of betting our lives on actions from outside, though that will help too, we must start now to clean up our own house. This will demonstrate our demand for freedom, and should prompt the West to invest the money they may be going to spend on a military action, on supporting the true fighters for freedom in Iran, and get their return in a healthy, mutually respectful relationship with a free and democratic Iran that will form after the fight is won. This is where we have a largely overlapping common interest with the free world.
I am not suggesting we should work for yet another revolution, although I do not reject it either if that's the way to go. At the moment, however, I believe our way to freedom is through a continued and determined civil disobedience movement aimed at changing exactly what is keeping us back: the undemocratic power structure of the current system and the constitution that goes with it. The bus drivers' recent strikes are but an example. There are many occasions to shape and bolden our efforts. The official sentence of Akbar Ganji, Iran's longest serving dissident and thinker in prison, will be over in less than 50 days, at the same time as the Persian new year. It will also be the time when the UN will likely consider Iran's nuclear case. Coincidentally it will also mark the third year of the start of the Iraq war. If you believe, like I do, that the war that seems to be looming on the horizon, is one that should not be, then you must do what you can, in supporting the cause of freedom for our countrymen, to show that it need not be.