Friday, August 29, 2014
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No comparison between Iran and 1980s Eastern Europe

Will those, like Sen. John McCain, who continue to compare Iran's upheaval to the 1989 uprisings in Eastern Europe, please read some history.

No comparison between Iran and 1980s Eastern Europe

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Will those, like Sen. John McCain, who continue to compare Iran's upheaval to the 1989 uprisings in Eastern Europe, please read some history.

There is no comparison between the two cases. Eastern European dissidents were wholly and unabashedly pro-American, and called for US support. And they were united among themselves in wanting to throw off the domination of their country by an outside power - the Soviet Union. 

Iranian opposition leaders ARE NOT calling for US support, because they know it could be fatal, and would not help them in their efforts. Most of them are nationalists who would reject any Western interference. The leaders of the opposition are part of the governing elite who want change, not revolution.

Indeed, the upheaval in Iran reflects an internal power struggle and the key opposition leaders seek reform of the system, not its overthrow. Opposition leaders would not want an Obama endorsement because they know it would give the regime the excuse to brand them as CIA agents and charge them with treason.

The United States has a long, troubled history with Iran in which we were often seen as the outside imperialist power. We overthrew an elected Iranian overnment in 1953 and have called for regime change in recent years.  The last thing opposition leaders want or need is a similar call now. Iran is deeply divided, with a substantial segment of the country still supporting the regime; most Iranians do not want a civil war or a bloody revolution, but are just hoping for a more open system.

So what is it that Sen. McCain, and others braying for an Obama endorsement of the Iranian opposition, think we can offer the Iranian rebels? A quick ticket to jail or execution?

This exhortation to moral righteousness seems more about the critics themselves - their self-image and their desire to use the Iran issue for partisan politicis - than it is about helping the people of Iran. 

 

 

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. In 2009-2011 she has made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she visited Iraq eleven times, and also wrote from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea.

She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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