Roots of an Iranian Fear

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fotini Christia's Aug. 26 op-ed, "A Quiet Battle for Rights in Iran," was accurate but incomplete in that it blamed government intolerance alone for the problems faced by female campaigners in Iran.

Responsibility for creating paranoia about foreign-inspired subversives also rests with the Bush administration, which allocates tens of millions of dollars yearly to destabilizing Iran in the name of aiding democracy. (The money would be better spent in Saudi Arabia, where far worse discrimination against women is tolerated by Washington.)

Only two generations ago, Iran's democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, was overthrown by the CIA and replaced with a brutal dictatorship that lasted a quarter-century. Fear of foreign manipulation is thus as much alive for Iranians as the Pearl Harbor tragedy is for Americans. I know this firsthand because for many of those dark years my father served in counterintelligence in the shah's army.

What these petitioners face in Iran today is unnecessary and heartbreaking, but it pales in comparison with the suffering that similar non-government-sponsored campaigners endured under the U.S.-backed dictatorship prior to 1979. It is helpful to keep that history in mind as we applaud Iranians who fight for their freedoms and feel frustration with the obstacles that slow them.



The writer is president of the U.S. branch of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company