Recent events in Iran have been relentlessly compared to the 1979 Iranian revolution, overlooking a major difference between the two uprisings: involvement of the United States.
Secretary of State Clinton gave a policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations recently. The United States must lead with diplomacy, Clinton said, as she outlined the administration’s approach to Iran.
“We watched the energy of Iran’s election with great admiration, only to be appalled by the manner in which the government used violence to quell the voices of the Iranian people, and then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign journalists and nationals, and expelling them, and cutting off access to technology. As we and our G-8 partners have made clear, these actions are deplorable and unacceptable,” Clinton explained.
“Neither the President nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation” Clinton continued.
The United States is silently and diplomatically watching Iranians single-handedly rise in defense of the democracy they have been deprived of for the past three decades. This is quite a different scenario from what took place 30 years ago.
Older generation Iranians who suffered the 1979 revolution have always recognized that the commanding source which embodied that uprising, deposed the Shah and his world reputable army was beyond the people of Iran.
There was more to the story than what many experts describe the 1979 revolution as Iranian people under the supreme, spiritual leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, taken to the streets of Iran, rose against the detested Shah and overthrew the powerful dictator.
Yes there is some truth to the fact that by the middle of 1970s, Iranians were living in discontent caused by the continuous brutality of Reza Shah’s regime, socioeconomic changes that benefited some classes of the society at the expense of others, and the increasing gap between the ruling elite and the disaffected populace.
It is also valid to say the corruption and cruelty of Reza Shah’s monarchy gave way to Islamic leaders, such as Ayatollah Khomeini, to highlight the society’s unhappiness with populist ideas connected to Islamic principles and necessitate a civil war to overthrow the Shah.
But beyond all of that, Iran had become too modernized, the Shah had become too self-sufficient and high oil prices in the 1970s began hurting U.S. economy. The Shah and his empire had become a threat to the West and who better than a religious leader to take the nation hundreds of years back in evolution.
Unlike today, as mentioned in the past, the United States was a key player in the overthrow of the Shah and the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979. Although one of the slogans heard through the streets of Iran 30 years ago was “Death to America,” as opposed to what we are hearing today, “Death to Russia.”
Today, the people of Iran, being victims of previous political strategies, are not as patient as the Obama administration. Iranians across the globe want their country back.
Iranians want the freedom and democracy they were promised thirty years ago. They desire a constitution under which they can find humanity, equality and justice. Such constitution does not exist within the governance of the Islamic Republic.
The great difference between the 2009 uprisings and the 1979 revolution is that today it is truly the people of Iran who have risen and broken their silence without manipulation or persuasion of other nations. Iranians have demonstrated their inner strength to the world within the past few weeks like never before.
The commanding force behind this upheaval could only be found within the unity of the people. This is the beginning of a true revolution.