Foreign Policy of the Islamic Republic
Myth or Reality1
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am not a politician, and my other habits are good! That is why, whenever I have to talk politics, and of late I seem to be doing nothing but, I try to warm up to the subject by telling a story. The story is, oftener than not, a fable by James Thurber, whose writings for me constitute an unfathomable source of wisdom. The story with which I am going to start tonight is entitled: "The Foolhardy Mouse and the Cautious Cat".
I do not have the exact text here with me, so if you permit me, I will give you the essence of the story in my own words:
It all started when the cat came back after a day's absence and found a mouse nonchalantly nibbling crumbs in the butler's pantry. The situation was odd, but our cat was more amused than surprised and said to herself, "Well, this mouse is quite dumb and not yet aware of my presence. No doubt when he sees me, he'll run for his hole double quick."
When she crept nearer, however, the mouse turned and spat a crumb in her eye. You would agree with me that after this, there was hardly any room for amusement, so the cat was no longer amused, but astounded. And she was still in her stupor when the mouse began insulting her deliberately by asking her "How did you get out of the bag?" for example; or by ordering her "Put on your pyjamas and take a cat nap!" for instance — and all the time continued to nibble as blasé as you please.
A change of attitude seemed inevitable, so the cat became suspicious. The mouse, understanding perfectly well the expression of bewilderment and hesitation on the cat's face, started mocking her outright by repeating all the familiar provocative phrases used in mouse-cat cartoons in a "mousetto" voice.
What do you think the cat did all this while? Well she kept watching the mouse and telling herself: "Steady girl, steady. There is more here than meets the eye. This mouse is probably a martyr mouse and by provoking me to act rashly, wants to become a hero for generations of mice to come."
The mouse ever bolder, now threw the ultimate affront at the cat: "You'd make," he shouted at the top of his voice, "wonderful violin strings, if you had any guts!"
You would think I am sure, that the cat must have bounced after this most belittling, humiliating and unforgivable insult. But no — not our cautious cat. She still kept reminding herself: "Easy does it — easy. This is," she told herself, "a mechanical mouse, a trick mouse. If I jump on it, it will explode and blow me into a hundred pieces. Damn clever these mice, but not clever enough for me."
With this peace-restoring thought and a clear conscience, she stalked out of the butler's pantry and into the sitting room where she went to sleep.
One important detail about our foolhardy mouse that I forgot to mention is that this mouse, eccentric by nature, once in his tender youth, had boldly nipped a bulldog in the ear and got away with it. He got away with it, simply because, the beast was a stuffed bulldog — hence his initial foolhardiness for staying in the pantry when the cat got back.
Well, this is almost the whole story, except for the moral, that any fable deserving the name should have. Thurber’s, if my memory serves me right, is this:
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and angels are all in Heaven, but few of the fools are dead."
Mine, however, would be totally different, but I dare say James Thurber, had he lived to witness our time, would not have entirely disapproved of it in spite of its being insipid. The moral I suggest for this story is:
"If you don't react punctually and appropriately towards the physical and verbal assaults of a foolhardy mouse, the butler's pantry will be infested by mice in no time at all, with all the consequences that such an event would result."
As far as the Islamic Republic of
Iran is concerned, this gives an overall picture of the situation, up to the
crumbling of the
Each country got her share of insults, but in order to minimise the effects, sought some satisfaction in the other countries’ greater injuries:
The Arabs were scared stiff, but
found some enjoyment in the curses aimed at
The minor, and often illusory
contentment of each country, as you notice, differs from the others; however,
all public analysis and private dealings of the aforementioned countries about
and with the Islamic Republic point to the fact that the main reason why they
all preferred to keep a low profile vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic was based on
the same assumption. A single and a simple assumption, namely that the
fundamental interests of
What a monumental mistake that was! I will explain myself. Let us first have a glimpse at the kind of interests they had in mind, which they thought unchanged. Allow me to quote a few at random:
From Arabs' point of view,
And so on and so forth.
These arguments all sound so
wonderfully logical — don’t they. But the only snag is that this kind of logic
and this line of reasoning, which accords perfectly well with common sense,
could only be adapted to
I have not invented all these, nor have I discovered them. They have been claimed, loud and clear, and then acted upon, repeatedly by the Ayatollahs' regime. They are there to be taken at their face value. The later the world understands the better for the mullahs; the longer the democracies take to grasp the nature of this regime, the more time and scope for the clergy to implement their plans.
If I now leave the rest of the world and address only the democracies and democracies-to-be, it is because — as I mentioned before — democracy is considered as enemy number one of that theocratic government. A government that claims to rule people in this world as well as the other is by nature extremely intolerant. Such a government may concede to live alongside other regimes just as intolerant — such as the totalitarian regimes, but it cannot allow any sort of coexistence with the democracies. Such is the nature of this regime.
Moreover, nothing can possibly change this nature, certainly not the factors considered by the Western world as decisive for bringing about some sort of a change. Neither inflation, nor unemployment cuts into the essence of fundamentalism. Neither the Charter of Human Rights, nor the pleas of Amnesty International can get the better of the Divine laws. Neither political isolation, nor state terrorism goes against a single Sura of the Koran. Neither even the death of Khomeini, nor even the end of Iran-Iraq war could shift one iota the pillar of the celestial ideology, as we have all witnessed.
To achieve its goal – i.e. to form a unified Islamic world – that Republic of turbaned heads uses the well-known methods of dissuasion, subversion and persuasion. Dissuasion is used to discourage the democracies from taking an active part; subversion is reserved for countries with important Muslim communities; and finally persuasion is practised on people who are potentially ready to embrace a new idea. All these three methods have met with considerable success so far.
The acts of terrorism committed in
The annual subversive activities in
The strategy of persuasion, aimed to
attract the discontented people of the
The very same tactics were used
I was there when it happened. Therefore, if I am not in a position to know how Daniel felt in the den of lions, I am perfectly well placed to tell you how a lion felt in that den of Daniels! What a calamity! What is worse, that catastrophe was not tackled by anyone, but it was certainly tickled — in the best Shakespearean tradition — by almost every one.
However, I am not here to talk about
the plight of my people and my fatherland. I am addressing you, ladies and
gentlemen, not as an Iranian, but as an admirer of Democracy. Our host country,
Twice in this century, the free
world has been caught unawares and almost got crushed by two movements, both
resembling to a frightening degree the religious upheaval in
I do not want the democracies to
repeat that mistake yet another time, or the countries who have only recently
managed to emerge from an avalanche to be caught in a blizzard. That skin of
the teeth by which the old democracies escaped previously, may not hold strong
this time, and the blizzard may prove to be more hazardous than the avalanche.
What has happened in
This may sound unnecessarily alarmist to you. You may think that I am exaggerating, but I am not.
The cracks in the structure of many western and established democracies can already be detected even with the naked eye, let alone the not-yet-established eastern ones. I will take the field of Justice as an example:
In England, a member of the Libyan Embassy shot and killed a policewoman, yet the murderer along with the other staff of the Peoples' Bureau (as Gadafi fancies to call the Embassy), left the United Kingdom unpunished and certainly unrepentant.
Yes, of course, public opinion is shocked, but that is how it is — the fanatics and the fundamentalists are already dictating your justice — and where would democracy be without the independence of its judicial apparatus, I ask you?
These are but a few notorious examples in a single field that no doubt you had already heard about. There are other cases as well, not so widely known by the public, but just as painful.
Sometime ago, two Iranians fled the
clutches of the clergy, hiding in a ship headed for
What happened to those two Iranians, no body even wanted to know — any way it was not hard to guess. So much for the respect of Human Rights, when faced with a system, which deliberately and without encountering the slightest reproof, ignores its merits.
This is by no means an isolated case, and these domains (justice and human rights) are not the only fields, which have been rebuffed so far. This sort of interference will be felt eventually in other aspects of your daily lives — aspects, which in their totality build the overall structure of democracy: Education, Rights of Women, Protection of Children etc., etc.
You cannot possibly hope to find a common language with these people, common solutions, and common values, but at the expense of surrendering yours completely and unconditionally.
Please do not give me that naive scenario about a moderate mullah now in place of Khomeini and all the rest of it. Hashemi Rafsanjani is making eyes at you, or Ayatollah Montazeri being nothing but a silly buffoon, or Hojatoleslam Mousavi favouring free trade does not mean a damn thing. A mullah, who wants to rule, cannot afford to possess the virtue of moderation.
When I see the old democracies still flirting with the Islamic Republic believing in "moderate clergy", I am reminded of Samuel Johnson, who exclaimed on the occasion of the remarriage of a widower: ''Alas! Another instance of the triumph of hope over experience!" When I notice some sort of rapprochement by the countries on their way to becoming democratic states to that regime, I am reminded of the proverb: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
You cannot possibly discard the danger of extremism by supporting the so-called moderate wings of ecclesiastics anywhere in the Muslim world while there is the example of the Islamic Republic to be followed and copied. (To imitate that government pays so handsomely that even the Palestinians, who have claimed to be secular so far, have taken up religious slogans).
The heart of fundamentalism is
I hope the picture I drew was dark enough to frighten the cat out of her cautious skin. If not, I am afraid I shall have no choice but to turn into the animal that Aristotle thought mankind to be – i.e. "a political animal". In which case, Mark Twain will get the better of Aristotle, because he describes the human as "the only animal that blushes or needs to!"
1This lecture was
given at the request of Pax Christi (