Human Rights

The Islamic Republic Must Fall

The breathtaking, unprecedented displays of dissent throughout Iran—most notably by the mostazafeen or the traditionally ‘downtrodden’ base of support for the regime—are important. They are important to the Iranian people who brave imprisonment and torture as they struggle for their livelihoods, their freedom, their dignity, and the futures of their children. But they are also important because they offer a glimpse of a more liberal, more peaceful, and more prosperous Middle East—a region at last open to the world, ready to move forwards not backwards, and to prosper rather than terrorize. Belief in such a prospect cannot be scorned as naïve, nor offered as an act of mere charity. Without such a future for Iran, the turmoil of the Middle East and the exodus of refugees to the shores of the free world will continue.

Polarization of American politics and civic discourse has left the struggle for freedom in Iran almost exclusively within the purview of the political Right, where the threat posed by Islamist ideas and terrorism have always been taken more seriously. But the yearning for liberal values—nowhere more apparent than in Iranian women’s radical rejection of four decades of forced hijab and gender apartheid—has also been embraced by the Right because the universality of the feminist cause has been abandoned by large segments of the Left. The old, global sisterhood has retreated into tribal complacency, preoccupied with insignificant issues like micro-aggressions. Such trivialities do not even speak to the real concerns of women here in the US, much less to those of women in the world’s many unfree societies.

Many Western feminists, in particular, have been shamefully reluctant to amplify the voices of those struggling for their most basic rights in places like Iran. Protecting those who wear the headscarf is now considered ‘progressive’ in America. This position has been adopted by large swathes of the Western Left, with scant regard to the denial of freedom, equality, and fairness that inform that so-called ‘choice,’ even among Muslim women in liberal democracies. American media, think tanks, and policy experts are not paying heed to Iranian women’s courageous rejection of the veil, nor are the luminaries of Hollywood or the intelligentsia ensconced in the universities. They deferentially applaud Javad Zarif’s marathons of lies, but they will not listen to Iranian women.

Such people are on the wrong side of Iran’s struggle for freedom. The revolution now underway there is a fight for liberalism, decency, fairness, and individual rights, and a rejection of the medieval tyranny that seized the country in its jaws in 1979. The revolution of 1979 was anti-Western, anti-modern, anti-liberal, anti-secular, anti-woman, and anti-Iranian. But that did not prevent radical political theorists led by Michel Foucault from venerating a theocratic system of government that many on the Left still have difficulty condemning today. And why? Because Khomeinist totalitarianism is a totalitarianism rooted in Islam, and the fortunate beneficiary, therefore, of inane progressive assumptions about its ‘authenticity.’ And where are the Foucaults of today, once so eager for the vicarious thrill of someone else’s populist insurrection? They are either silent or scornful, even as Iranians risk their lives for the freedoms those intellectuals are fortunate enough to take for granted.

For nearly 40 years, the regime has ruthlessly subjugated the women of Iran; it has executed countless innocents; it has persecuted the Baha’i; it has stifled every creative impulse and free thought; it has plundered the economy so that regime families may drive Ferraris while even educated Iranians struggle to make ends meet; it has paid for the annihilation of Muslims in Syria, Yemen, and beyond with the Iranian people’s money. But about such horrors, the Western intelligentsia have had little to say. Instead, they have fawned before the smile and the forked tongue of Javad Zarif, because his regime is misperceived as a noble bulwark against Western arrogance. It wears the garb of authentic faith, it speaks the language of anti-imperial and anti-American ‘resistance,’ it vows bloodthirsty vengeance in the name of Palestinian liberation, and it offers empty promises of justice to the downtrodden.

Nor does the Left seem to care about the working class in Iran. It will not raise the voices of countless factory workers who have not been paid in months, nor those of families and farmers with no water, and common merchants who cannot keep pace with a plummeting currency. The Left will not recognize, much less support, the wholesale rejection of every part of the regime, including—or especially—the so-called ‘moderates’ the Obama administration and its media supporters so recklessly indulged.

This is not 1989. There is no wave of countries falling toward liberal democracy, free markets, and open societies. Instead, there is a global democratic recession many years in the making, with Russia, China, Venezuela, and Turkey consolidating their fiercely undemocratic rule. The leaders of these embattled nations help, learn from, and embolden one another, and their ideas are seeping into our open societies in ways never imaginable during the Cold War.

The backdrop of this authoritarian resurgence ought to bring the Iranian people’s lonely determination and courage into sharp relief. For many years now, the regime has brought slaughter to hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrian children even as it warns its own population to submit to the ‘stability’ of its rule, lest Iran becomes another Syria. Implicit in the regime’s patronizing fear-mongering is a threat: we will kill you just as we have relentlessly killed Syrians for the last seven years.

The Iranian people are capable and deserving of a democratic polity. All those who understand the value of human freedom should echo their voices and make clear our position: the Islamic Republic must fall.


Mariam Memarsadeghi is co-founder and co-director of Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society, a virtual institute offering secure democracy and human rights educational opportunities. A 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, she is an outspoken advocate for the principles of liberalism, women’s rights, civic education and internet freedom, particularly in Islamic contexts. You can follow her on Twitter @memarsadeghi


  1. Its pretty offensive that the Iranian People had the nerve to revolt against their CIA-approved puppet dictator and created an Islamic Republic.

    Fortunately, the CIA is ready and willing to help them again undo their historic mistakes and put in another American puppet who will open the country up to foreign energy companies.

    The School of Americas down at Ft. Benning even has some slots available to make sure his thugs know how to put electrical nodes on the genitals of pro-democracy activists in the right manner. Go Freedom!

    • That moment when you hate America more than a functioning fascist theocracy that puts people in cages for dancing.

      • Have you been to Iraq lately? Or Afghanistan? This article is the same rhetorical warmongering nonsense they rolled out before they “liberated” Iraq and Afghanistan.

        Here’s an idea, go to Iraq and Afghanistan and smell all the freedom, and meet the “liberated” women in these countries before you join the cheerleading squad for a coup which will result in a government with no legitimacy and ultimately another failed state breeding terrorists.

    • Kessler says

      The CIA backed coup was terrible. It is also irrelevant to the present day concerns.

      • Not really – if the US is ramping up for another regime-change exercise, we should be aware of the difference between an uprising of the ‘traditionally ‘downtrodden’ base of support for the regime’ and a crisis manufactured within Iran and in the sphere of public propaganda, by the US. This article is titled ‘The Islamic Republic Must Fall’ but doesn’t say how that will come about. It avoids any discussion of support for a revolution (or of outright war) but includes a video of the US Ambassador. The author is co-founder and co-director of Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society which was “launched with a seed grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor” and “has since secured additional funds” from the Department of State as well as funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. Agency for International Development (Wikipedia). At a minimum, they have a conflict of interest in that they are funded by the US Govt., which wants an uprising in, or war with, Iran.

        • ga gamba says

          Though I don’t agree with much of your comment, this point is valid:

          This article is titled ‘The Islamic Republic Must Fall’ but doesn’t say how that will come about.

          I think a democratic and peaceful change, one that includes the possibility of ending theocratic rule if it is willed by the people, is practically impossible because of the Guardian Council of the Constitution. This twelve-member body, six of whom must be Islamic jurists (known as faqih) and the other six appointed by the legislature, has the right to accept of reject legislation passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the nation’s parliament. Further, it approves and disqualifies candidates seeking to run in local, parliamentary, presidential, and Assembly of Experts elections. The Assembly of Experts is not a law-making body; its job is to elect the Supreme Leader of Iran. All members still have to be approved by the Supreme Leader.

          This stacks the deck against those who wish to significantly reform or end theocratic rule. In the 2016 election only 51.4 per cent of parliamentary candidates were approved to run (6,229 out of 12,123), the lowest rate of approval for these elections ever. For the Assembly of Experts only 20.1 per cent were approved to run. Reformist parties have to use subterfuge, such as overwhelming the Guardian Council with candidates’ petitions, as a way to have some of their desired candidates approved. One of those rejected was Hassan Khomeini, a Shiite Muslim cleric like his grandfather, Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. As a member of a “reformist” party his petition to run for the Assembly of Experts was rejected by the Guardian Council.

          Facing such onerous barriers, are Iranians permitted to use means other than the ballot box to effect change? I think so. Further, since citizens would surely encounter a militarised response, as they did during the 2009 Iranian election protests, I think it’s justified for them to look to overseas’ support to pursue their objectives until a more democratic process is installed, i.e. one that removes the several trump cards held by the present powers.

          • America has zero national interest in Iran. If our allies have a national interest in Iran, then they can tilt at democratic windmills and women’s rights with their own blood and treasure.

          • Andrew Mcguiness says

            Sort of like Afghanistan … Iraq … Libya … Syria …? Did those situations turn out well? Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US will be pleased to instigate and fund civil war in Iran but they have no interest in it becoming a stable state.

          • Hannah Lee says

            GaGamba, I generally appreciate your posts, but this post just sounds like Iraq-War Mark II. You have a more compelling case to make when you aren’t chanelling Neo-Con ‘obligations of empire’ claptrap.

            There is always a essential (empire) need to engage in Hegemonic regime change- but the argument that we do it out of the goodness of our hearts, or for the benefit of the people of Iran? HogWash!

            the people of Iran have EXACTLY the government they deserve, just as the people of America and Canada have exactly the governments We deserve. No More, No Less. If they want to shed their blood to change it, I will cheer from the sidelines, and will welcome them into the circle of individual rights respecting governments when they make that change.

            One Thing that WE can do for the people of Iran, is stop policies that punish the people of Iran by isolating and reinforcing autocratic leaders (same for NK)- all that does is reinforce the paranoia and fear of the people and thereby giving their leaders even more of a grip on their loyalty.

            The past twenty years of regime change in Iraq,North Africa,Syria, Egypt, and our continuing Moral bankruptcy in Palestine and with the Kurds should have taught us some humility (and the previous half a century in the rest of the world) Who has actually benefited (objectively) from our actions as the world super-power? Cambodia, Yemen? Can you identifiy ONE country that is better off, because we sold some weapons, or fired some cruise missiles, or Hellfire missiles or sent in SEAL Team 6 to kills a goat herder on a desolate hill top?

            My nephew has served 3 tours in Afghanistan, and more time doing state department security, and Afghanistan is STILL a mess- he has spent his whole adult life killing afghan nationalists, and they stubbornly keeps sending your fanatics to get killed.

    • Your hatred of the U.S. is causing you to support a totalitarian state. I recommend you get beyond “If the Americans are for it, I’m agin it.”

    • Tarstarkas says

      And guess who supported the overthrow of Mossadegh? That fierce proponent of liberal democracy, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinei!

  2. Thanks for this article. I agree that it is odd and troubling that it has become trendy among leftys to embrace Islam. Their lives must really be empty, poor things, after having having swallowed wholesale the world’s most anti-intellectual and morally bankrupt ideology of postmodernism. Islam will most certainly offer them reprieve from their otherwise meaningless existence.

    • “the world’s most anti-intellectual and morally bankrupt ideology of postmodernism.”

      Really? Why don’t you try to prove that Postmodernism is morally bankrupt and anti-intellectual. About a paragraph each?

      • Jack Danzey says

        The anti-intellectual part is simple. If you believe that science isn’t real and merely an interpretation based on power, you are anti-science and therefore anti-intellectual. If you believe that there is no such thing as truth then you are anti-science and anti-intellectual. The entire scientific enterprise is based on objective reality and the pursuit of establishing truths and understanding about that reality. If you reject that, you are anti-intellectual.

        • @ Jack Danzey

          “If you believe that science isn’t real”

          So which postmodernist doesn’t believe in Science?

          “you are anti-science and therefore anti-intellectual.”

          Well no, not quite. Most postmodernist bigwigs are highly intellectual. Perhaps overly so.

          That is certainly one possible interpretation of being anti-intellectual whilst coming intellectuals However:

          “If you believe that there is no such thing as truth”

          This is oversimplification of what postmodernist believe and their stance is an intellectual one in the first place.

          • ga gamba says

            So which postmodernist doesn’t believe in Science?

            That’s easy. For starters there are the blank slaters. There’s also the science must fall movement that originated in South Africa. Here’s video evidence of their shenanigans, They even have the neck to demand apologies from scientists when express disbelief.

            Even the National Institute of Health has published articles about it, . The author’s name is a hyperlink to several other articles.

          • @ ga gamba

            “There’s also the science must fall movement that originated in South Africa.”

            They do not count. In that I am not after them, rather who inspired them. Who writes the books and preaches the stuff. Is there a midway between postmodernist bigwigs [and people like Paul Feyerabend] and these people. Someone like the intersectionalist Crenshaw.

            The original point I objected to was as follows:

            “swallowed wholesale the world’s most anti-intellectual and morally bankrupt ideology of postmodernism.”

            Postmodernism is neither anti-intellectual nor morally bankrupt.

  3. DBruce says

    Ref Islam there is a sex/death/rape fantasy component to 3rd wave feminism. Trump knows it too – when he recites the snake parable (the snake of course is a phallic symbol).

  4. John AD says

    Hear hear.

    “[the Foucaults of today] are either silent or scornful, even as Iranians risk their lives for the freedoms those intellectuals are fortunate enough to take for granted.”

    Donated to Tavaana. Good luck.

    • ga gamba says

      [the Foucaults of today] are either silent or scornful, even as Iranians risk their lives for the freedoms those intellectuals are fortunate enough to take for granted.

      Foucault himself established the precedent. Here was this renowned anti-authoritarian Western philosopher legitimizing the coming-to-power of a brutal theocratic ruling class. Foucault announced that “religion’s role was to open the curtain,” and upon that, “the mullahs will disperse.” He believed Khomeini would simply return to Qom and would from time to time issue criticisms of the government when it failed to serve the people. Others around the world issued warnings about what was in store for Iran’s liberals and women. Sure enough, it happened. Khomeini decreed that women would be unable to serve as judges; that only a man could petition for divorce; that women were banned from participating in sport; and as predicted by many pessimistic voices, women were ordered to wear the chador.

      If the outcome for Iran hadn’t been so tragic one can more easily enjoy the absurdity of one of postmodernism’s leading lights hopping aboard the grand-narrative bandwagon.

      What’s fascinating is looking at Foucault the philosopher and Foucault the man. As a theorist all he saw was ever more power being used against the other. Very much a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” idea. So, when the Shah was overthrown and replaced by a theocracy that was arguably even more repressive, Foucault could have said: “I told you so.” But he didn’t. Why? He was a supporter of and an apologist for the Islamists. Perhaps the French have an affinity for despots. Its own revolution fell to head-choppy tyrants. In the ’60s they were wowed by Mao. France in the late ’70s allowed the Ayatollah to use it as a base for the decisive phase of his campaign against first the Shah and then the Bakhtiar government. The French made an immense contribution to his cause.

      Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seduction of Islam, by Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson, translated all of his articles written for the French press (Le Nouvel Observateur hired Foucault) as well as those by his critics, examined his experience with Iranians, both exiled abroad and in Iran, and conclude, and I’ll put it bluntly, his support for the Islamists was due to his disdain for women and his affinity for irrational, pre-modern traditionalism.

      One of Foucault’s most (in)famous articles about Iran is What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?

      One thing must be clear. By “Islamic government,” nobody in Iran means a political regime in which the clerics would have a role of supervision or control.

      Obviously Foucault was completely wrong about that. Khomeini himself years earlier declared his intent to establish clerical domination of the state. (In another comment I documented how the theocracy maintains power.)

      He continues: To me, the phrase “Islamic government” seemed to point to two orders of things.

      “A utopia,” some told me without any pejorative implication. “An ideal,” most of them said to me. At any rate, it is something very old and also very far into the future, a notion of coming back to what Islam was at the time of the Prophet, but also of advancing toward a luminous and distant point where it would be possible to renew fidelity rather than maintain obedience. In pursuit of this ideal, the distrust of legalism seemed to me to be essential, along with a faith in the creativity of Islam.

      A “distrust of legalism” in favour of faith in religion.

      Foucault wrote (hereafter each point in italics): Islam values work; no one can be deprived of the fruits of his labor; what must belong to all (water, the subsoil) shall not be appropriated by anyone.

      Standard leftist talking point there. Certainly appeals to progressives.

      With respect to liberties, they will be respected to the extent that their exercise will not harm others;

      Again, this a current progressive talking point. They’re obsessed about potential “harm”, and to mitigate this possibility others rights must be infringed.

      minorities will be protected and free to live as they please on the condition that they do not injure the majority;

      That’s a difference, apparently. Though “protecting minorities” makes progressives moist and quivery, they typically don’t care if the majority is harmed when that majority is the oppressor class. Usually progs want the majority to bend to the minority. Yet, progressives are forceful advocates of not only opening the borders but eradicating them, which may lead to the majority becoming the minority. If such replacement occurs then “not injuring the majority” aligns with progressive ideals.

      between men and women there will not be inequality with respect to rights, but difference, since there is a natural difference.

      On the surface this appears to fly in the face of feminism, but the current wave of feminism doesn’t oppose a difference of rights as long as the rights breeched are men’s, for example ending presumption of innocence, women-only spaces, and even calls for a nighttime curfew for men.

      With respect to politics, decisions should be made by the majority, the leaders should be responsible to the people, and each person, as it is laid out in the Quran, should be able to stand up and hold accountable he who governs.

      Standard of-for-and-by-the-people democracy, yet theocratic Iran has never achieved this.

      Foucault concludes: For the people who inhabit this land [Iran], what is the point of searching, even at the cost of their own lives, for this thing whose possibility we have forgotten since the Renaissance and the great crisis of Christianity, a political spirituality. I can already hear the French laughing, but I know that they are wrong.

      A political spirituality. Given many liken social justice to a cult and its progressive adherent cultists, it seems to fit. Foucault himself was accused of blindly accepting what he did not know (Iran and Islam) simply out of repugnance for what he did. Sounds familiar. Yet, it may also be the case were Foucault decided to interpret the Islamists through his own postmodernist lens, and where it didn’t fit comfortably, such as the rights of women, he concocted a rationalisation of them being equal in different ways.

      • augustine says

        Not political spirituality, which sounds like a synthesis, but rather spiritual politics– an informed partnership instead.

        A religious population can support a secular government (but not the reverse!) and that is what the Founding Fathers crafted in the U.S. They may have had trepidations about religion but they did not hate religion or religious people like many do today. The separation of church and state is designed to allow the best of both to flourish and to check the negative potential of each. This elegant, successful design is answered by the Left with calls to violence against virtually every aspect of the social order that has gone before. Theirs is a perennial revolutionary drive to shape us anew from the rubble they must first create.

        What little I know about Iran and Iranians tells me that they are a most unusual people with a past, especially a pre-Islamic past, that is nothing short of amazing. I sincerely hope that their collective identity as Iranians will help transcend left-right extremes as they transcend Islam itself.

      • Jack B Nimble says

        If we can get away from Foucault for a moment, it is worth recalling the timeline of the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s [adapted from Wikipedia article, timeline of the Iranian Revolution]:

        Jan 1978: pro-Khomeini demonstrations in Iran
        Sept 1978: Mass march at Eid al-Fitr of hundreds of thousands in Tehran by Khomeini supporters; Shah declares martial law.
        Oct 1978: Khomeini takes up residence in France. He enjoys media attention from journalists across the world.
        Dec. 1978: Long-time opposition politician Shapour Bakhtiar was chosen as the prime minister by Shah as the Shah prepares to leave the country.
        Feb 1979: Khomeini returns to Iran from exile. Regime collapses. Revolution victorious. Pahlavi dynasty ends.
        Nov 1979: Aggressive demonstrations take place near the Embassy of the United States. 500 demonstrators climb over the Embassy’s fence as the Iranian Police look on. About ninety people are taken hostage of which 66 are Americans.

        The main point here is that from Jan. 1978 to at least Jan. 1979, western media saw Khomeini as an anti-imperialist, anti-authoritarian figure. A breath of fresh air after the Shah, if you will. Were they deluded? Probably, but western media always have had trouble understanding religious primitives, whether they be Iranian Imams or western Pentecostals.

        This political history needs to be resurrected, because everything changed after the Islamic Republic started executing regime opponents and again after the hostage crisis. The western media bailed on Khomeini during 1979.

        Bottom line–If you are looking for support or contributions toward a counter-revolution in Iran, count me out.

        • dirk says

          Whereever protests and upheavals in Arabian or Mid Eastern nations, there is support of the West, because we think, Oh..
          antiauthoritarian… democracy……pro people and against those evil potentats. That’s how it was, but I think not for long anymore. Enough is enough. Look only at the protests in Marocco. No more support.

  5. dirk says

    What I fear is this: the louder the westernized Iranian oh so liberal girls and women ( off with that head scarf, and not just far backwards up to the neck; and all this immediately on instagram) the longer any normal development to more freedom and democracy will take, that’s at least something that Foucault had properly seen and predicted.

    • Susan says

      @Dirk So theses brave women should just shut up? I do not understand your criticism or how their protests delay “normal . . . freedom and democracy”. By the way, I live in a desert where summer temperatures hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a suffocating black hijab would be torture. You wear one for a week.

      • dirk says

        If I see street scenes on TV and newspapers of Iran,Susan, I only see very rudimentary head scarves and almost no dull chadors anymore. If I walk here in a street in the city, I see everywhere young girls in underwear smiling at me on posters. Of course I am used to it, and don’t mind. But why should that be the rule everywhere? I fear that fierce provocative protests may slow down permissive government rules in clothing in Iran , the opposite what’s wished. But, of course, Iranians in the free West can protest as much as they want.

  6. Thanks for this excellent piece. If there is one aspect that you might have stressed a bit more, it is how the present revolutionary upsurge is also a movement for Iranian national identity against the transnational Islamism of the regime. I first began to see that Iranian nationalism is the rock upon which the Islamic Republic not only must but will crash when I saw some video of the Chaharshanbe Suri (‘Red Wednesday’) festival, the ancient pre-Islamic fire ritual that Iranians celebrate every year in the streets, defying the efforts of the Islamic authority to stamp out this haram pagan survival. Any people that has held fast to its ancient national culture through 13 centuries of Islamic rule is going to see the back of the Islamic Republic, I am sure. I blog more about Red Wednesday here:

    • dirk says

      That’s indeed an interesting and alternative view on it all, NF, comparable with something like communism of the sovjets in Russia as an ephemeric and only temporarily episod of the life long tradition of orthodoc christianity. Yes, maybe it’s like that! Don’t forget the role of Zarathustra (Nietsche’s hero) as a key figure. I wonder about his archetypical role ( and maybe Peterson’s influence in this) as of now, in the global scene. Because, the Pax Americana and CIA, that is clear, is waning.

      • Thanks Dirk. Looking at some of the other comments on this article by Mariam Memarsadeghi, it seems a lot of Western types hugely overestimate the role of the United States, or other great powers, while overlooking the independent power of peoples. They’re sneering at and condemning the coming Iranian revolution because of its possible benefits to the United States, which I think is a shockingly trivial way to look at something emerging from deep inside Iranian society and civilization. The open defiance of the masses against the Islamic regime is something to behold:

        • Andrew Mcguiness says

          You misunderstand my position, at least. I am happy for Iranians to revolt. I think it would be a mistake to invite or accept aid from the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia to do that. I’m rather skeptical about the convenient way the topic of revolution in Iran has come into the public eye, just when the US is making war noises in that direction. I’m particularly skeptical about the author of this piece and the support they receive from the US Govt (not acknowledged on this page). I’m even more suspicious that a video of the US ambassador is embedded in the article, without mention in the text of US support for an uprising. I’m not sneering at the coming Iranian revolution and I haven’t seen any other comment which seems to be sneering – that’s just a ridiculous ad hominem. I am concerned that US involvement in the revolution will lead to sectarian conflict and a destabilised country, as it has elsewhere in the region.

        • dirk says

          @Naimisharanya: I never knew that Ryszard Kapuscinski (my hero) was also in Iran to report the upheavals and revolts there, I know him only from his African travelogues, a gifted man. However, sometimes he fantasizes a little bit to make the story juicier, a minor fault, I think, it’s part of journalism.

          • Dear me Dirk, what a pleasure to meet one who has trodden Naimisharanya, the sacred forest. You’re right about Kapuscinski juicing up his journalism to make the truth even truthier. One loves the vivid writing and the insight, and yet is troubled that it is, you know, not exactly true. Like another writer I admire, Tom Wolfe: (Apologies for relentlessly plugging my poor unread blog … it’s great to have even the occasional solitary reader!)

          • dirk says

            Yes (answer to next comment), I love rain forests ( though I only spent a few months of my life in it, it is not an easy and comfortable place to be in), and also like Clifford Geertz: he makes a distinction in thick (with meaning) and thin cultural description (just neutral and meaningles facts and details). You guess which ones I prefer!

  7. I didn’t know Quillette was in the business of propagating U.S / Israeli war propaganda, especially such bombastic stuff as this.

    Be that as it may, I doubt the Iranian people, in reality, are so eager to follow the Iraqis and Syrians down the long, bloody road to ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

    • dirk says

      Iraqi’s and Syrians, as hereditary of the West, are a hopeless conglomerate of people and minorities Breathnr. This is much less so in Iran. Though? Some small religious minorities would not agree, I fear.

  8. G. Mayre says

    It’s time to shift gears and exploit another cause to further another war and the killing and displacement of millions, so why not make use of the issue of women’s rights overseas, after all Amerikwa’s obligation is to be the morality police of the world. Don’t let countries develop according to their own internal dynamic but impose our own developmental trajectory on them.

    All these rationales, the war against terrorism, humanitarian intervention, have gone past their expiration dates, have been shown to be based on lies and distortions and no longer serve their purpose as a cover for US aggression. So now that we’ve run out of rationales for intervening in the internal affairs of other countries let’s expropriate the concerns of women or the LGBT community who will become willing participants and justify regime change operations and wars.

  9. Bill says

    All the anti-American involvement arguments reflect the political hypocrisy about in the real world:

    Obama says “na, not going to help you” and he gets blasted by political opponents for abandoning those oppressed people’s squashed under the totalitarian thumb.

    Had Obama stepped in, like in Libya, he’s again blasted by political opponents for being “like Bush!”

    Trump will face the same.

    Oh, and those political opponents are the same in both cases. Regardless of what the American government chooses to do, the President will be blamed as wrong. So this means the long term consequence of the action is irrelevant, it simply follows the Clintonian method of poll-testing and letting that decide what you do.

    So i’ll pose this question to the commentators with the “stay out America” position: Is your position for the US to pull completely out everywhere? For some, the Rand Paul libertarians the answer is probably yes, and that includes granting asylum to those fleeing. Of course, you’ll be labeled a racist Nazi Islamophobe. If your answer is “but only in this case” because you are an #resister and don’t want to shoot down your immigration argument, you are a hypocrite. If you are a no, get involved and help these people Republican, then you are also a hypocrite since you want to help them but not the folks fleeing other sh*thole countries =)

    • Andrew Mcguiness says

      ” Is your position for the US to pull completely out everywhere?” – If only!

    • Hannah Lee says

      America needs to let go of empire, FULL STOP
      We aren’t good at empire, we say we are exporting our values and our democracty (unless you have oil or a strong domestic constituency – like Saudi Arabia, or Israel or are just our kind of thug (Egypt)
      We aren’t machiavelian enough to extract blood tribute as an empire, and in fact are only moderately good at extracting corporate benefits to leverage our obscene military budget (NAFTA, TPP)
      The only folks benefiting from our foreign adventures are the military industrial complex, and they need to get a job, that doesn’t make the whole world less safe, less sane, and more toxic
      for Reference- OBAMA x2 – MAGA x1, will never vote for a war mongering democrat again (#retirefeinstein)

      • Bill says

        The existence of a strong military and the industrial complex that supports it is the reason people like you are able to publish this sort of comment and stay alive.

  10. John says

    One should be wary of calling for any drastic changes to the regime in Iran, especially if the suggestion is using outside (military) help. As someone who traveled in Iran for some time and met many young people there I can tell you that there is a strong desire for change among everyone, especially the young which happen to make up a very large percentage of the population. However, they face a police state that has no qualms about using violence. If change is to come, and not end in a civil war, foreign intervention and the instalment of a a U.S. puppet, it must come from grassroots. The Iranian people know better than anyone what the issues are and should be allowed to chose their own destiny. Any change that is brought from outside will not be seen as legitimate and is likely to only make things worse.

    I’m all for helping Iranians achieve greater freedom but any help given (even just in the form of online support) should be carefully worded. The government is likely to (as they did earlier this year) claim that the dissent is part of a western plot and any support western governments were to give to protesters risks making that claim a reality and the country becoming the next Syria. No one wants that and I would beg that American voters be cautious if any of the hawks for war in Iran begin constructing arguments for why intervention is needed. Those people have ulterior motives for wanting change, it has nothing to do with giving greater freedom to an oppressed people. The idea that you can impose democracy through foreign invasion and conquest is not only ludicrous but dangerous.

  11. Gonout Backson says

    Tyrants support tyrants.
    Democrats don’t support democrats.
    Ask half of Europe what they think about it.

  12. mitchellporter says

    I somehow arrived on this page, and spent half a day thinking about the issues.

    I am certainly one of those in the west (if Australia counts as western) who is filled with anger and suspicion towards our borderless western elite, thinks the Eurasian model of cooperating sovereign polities sounds good, no longer believes that democracy is a moral necessity, and has rediscovered the idea that armies are for national security rather than for righteous crusades.

    So in principle I have no problem with the existence of the Islamic Republic, I would oppose an Australian foreign policy directed at subverting it, and formally I agree with Russia’s Lavrov when he says this is an internal affair of Iran.

    As for Iran’s battles with Israel and Saudi Arabia, I would again counsel a policy of neutrality for Australia (if I was in charge, and if we were a sovereign state responsible for its own survival, rather than an American satellite state that has traded its independence in return for protection). This follows from a philosophy which views populism and nationalism as desirable correctives to the power of that borderless western elite.

    Furthermore, even if one sympathizes with various dissatisfied elements of Iranian society, and there are obviously many of them, an outsider should bear in mind that the system and its institutions like the Basiji have significant participation and support, and that this is about religion, not just politics.

    I suppose one might seek a point of contact between Iranian and western dissidents, in that they both live under transnational political systems, ruled by an elite for whom self-interest and a supranational civilizational agenda combine to overrule purely domestic issues. In Iran the agenda is political Islam, in the west the agenda is democracy / human rights / free markets…

  13. Florin N. says

    My understanding is that the protests are not widely popular and as bad as the mullahs are, rule by the Mossad/CIA backed MEK would be far worse.

    i feel that Quillette does not deviate significantly from the standard Zionist/Neocon prism through which MSM view’s Israel’s ‘enemies.’

    • Gonout Backson says

      @Florin N.
      Thank you for the “neocon” word. I knew something was missing.

  14. Susan says

    Thank you Mariam Memarsadeghi. It is very sad to see the street scenes from the 1960’s and ’70’s in Iran and the street scenes from today with women in forced hijab. I believe the woman in the photo at the top of this article was just sentenced to two years imprisonment. I don’t have any answers but I do share a couple of posts a month about forced hijab in slacktivist support of the movement.

  15. Reading history, one often asks oneself “How could people have supported oppressive totalitarian leaders like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and many others. How could people have been so blind?”

    Then you realize that you don’t have to ask that of history. You can ask that of today.

  16. I think — I hope — that one day people will ask of today’s feminists “Where were you when women in Islamic theocracies needed your help? How could you have stood by and done so little?”

  17. Ben says

    1. Since when has ‘human rights’ become synonymous with feminism and anti hijab activism? Ordinary male activists (and not just activists) usually are even worse off men than the anti-hijab activists. Men in Iran are punished severely for activism. Flogging is common, Iran has a number of other more serious and complex problems. The economy being crippled by sanctions for example. These protests are just given more visibility in the western media. If anyone wants to recommend changes at least they must visit Iran. Ordinary men and women in Iran have it even worse in many ways than feminist women alone. They can use the author’s sympathy.

    2. Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and large parts of Africa all have more pressing issues with authoritarianism and violence. Why is the western media particularly interested in Iranian suffering? Iran is a better place in comparison. The first female Fields medalist (Math) in the world was born and went to college in Iran. Numerous scientists and scholars hail from Iran. Doesn’t prove much but it does raise the suspicion that Iran might be a better place than sub-Saharan Africa or Afghanistan. So why this compassion for Iran alone. Many other countries can avail of the author’s munificence.

    3. Oh btw, there is a humanitarian crisis (near genocidal) in Yemen and enormous refugee crisis among Rohingyas in south east Asia. They can use the author’s profound sympathy. There is an absolute disaster, widespread death and starvation going on in Yemen. That might be slightly worse than having to wear a hijab. Saudi Arabia waging that war is a US ally and US can stop that war in a week if it cared.

  18. Shenme Shihou says

    Can we make a new rule where anytime someone makes a statement about how the world is becoming less democratic theythen have to explain why thats a bad thing?

  19. Pingback: Pompeo, Religion, and Regime Change in Iran – LobeLog

  20. Pingback: Pompeo, Religion, and Regime Change in Iran |  SHOAH

  21. Bill says

    Are you capable of making a rational comment?

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