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Is the United States serious about Iran?
Bombing Iran will not help the cause. In fact, it will probably create either civil war, or some kind of desperate, lethal unity inside Iran. The more effective way to achieve regime change is to spend Iranian assets in the right way.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently asked Congress for $85 million to support pro-democracy groups inside Iran and also to assist Iranian groups outside Iran who oppose the Islamic regime in Tehran.
It is a very kind gesture from President George W. Bush’s administration, but this program will not change anything in Iran. And it is not likely the $85 million (if Secretary Rice indeed receives it) will be used effectively and wisely.
Yet, there is no denying Bush’s intent of support. In his 2005 state of union address, he again pledged his support for the Iranian people: “And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.”
In Iranian polls, Bush won the 2004 election by a landslide, even though in America, Bush won by only a few hundred votes. Today, Bush is sinking in American polls, but his popularity continues to climb in Iran.
Persian-speaking people have found a friend who says he cares about them. But, at this point, we must ask how serious is President Bush about Iran? Is it all words, with no action?
For five years, President Bush has consistently supported the Iranian people in his state of the union addresses. But it’s been simply a big carrot on a long stick. Or, as they say in Texas, it’s all hat and no cattle. While we have supported the president’s efforts to liberate Iraq and bring democracy to the region, we know the key to peace in Iraq and the region is in the hands of the Iranian people. As long as they are powerless to overthrow the Islamic terrorist regime in Iran, Iraq will never see the light of democracy.
America is spending over $200 million a day for the war in Iraq. In contrast, an $85 million proposal to bring change in Iran, administered over five years or more, is utterly unrealistic. After all, we are talking about the Islamic Republic of Iran—"the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism," according to the U.S. State Department.
So, how do we understand the money problem?
According to the Iranian Studies Group, an independent academic organization at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), more than one in four Iranian-Americans hold a master's or doctoral degree, the highest rate among 67 ethnic groups studied. Iranians are among the most highly educated people in the U.S. and annually contribute over $600 billion into the U.S. economy.
It would be a travesty for the Iranian opposition groups to accept a mere $85 million while the Iranian-Americans are such large contributors to the U.S. economy.
Yet, Iranian-Americans have not given big money to the cause of liberating their fellow Iranians in Iran, and the U.S. government hasn’t given any significant amount for the eradication of the world terrorist regime—the Islamic Republic of Iran. So, we’re back to square one.
But consider this: the United States holds billions of dollars of Iranian assets in U.S. banks. Why not use this financial source to support the Iranian opposition groups who will actively seek regime change in Iran? This money must be returned to its legitimate heirs, the Iranian people, inside Iran and outside Iran.
If the U.S. is serious about a regime change in Iran, if the U.S. is hoping for a democratic form of government in Iran, and if the U.S. truly advocates a broader democracy in the Middle East, the White House must turn the Iranian assets over to all the Iranian opposition groups who want democracy Iran. After all, Iranians know Iranian mentality better than any foreign governments.
It is time for the U.S. government to get serious about regime change in Iran. Bombing Iran will not help the cause. In fact, it will probably create either civil war, or some kind of desperate, lethal unity inside Iran. The more effective way to achieve regime change is to spend the Iranian assets in the right way.
We can create a secular, democratic Iranian nation with our own Iranian money, and obliterate the venomous theocratic regime in Iran—which the majority of Iranians consider to be alien occupiers. The clock is ticking and the majority of Iranians want to be free from the oppressors now. The Bush administration must stop the useless, wasteful bureaucracy and get down to the business of regime change, immediately.
Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American Citizen and pro democracy activist living in the United States of America. Imani is a columnist, literary translator, poet, and novelist who speaks out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran. His website is amilimani.com.
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This story was published on April 24, 2006.