tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora
nextback

April 19, 1975

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

20 Apr 2010 04:2267 Comments
ph-jazani.jpgOn April 19, 1975 (30 Farvardin 1354), nine courageous political prisoners -- Ahmad Jalil-Afshar, Mohammad Choupanzadeh, Bijan Jazani, Mash'oof (Saeed) Kalantari (Jazani's maternal uncle), Aziz Sarmadi, Abbas Sourki, Hassan Zia Zarifi, Mostafa Javan Khoshdel and Kazem Zolanvar -- who had been sentenced by the Shah's military courts were murdered by agents of SAVAK, the Shah's dreaded secret service. The first seven were members of the Sazman-e Chrik-haaye Fadaee Khalgh (Organization of the People's Devotee Guerillas, or OPDG); the last two were members of the MKO. Jazani was serving a 15-year sentence, Zia Zarifi a life sentence, and the rest ten years each, of which four to seven years had already been served. In that era, the civilian courts refused to put on trial the opposition to the Shah, unlike today when they are a central tool of repression.

Bijan Jazani, who had studied philosophy and was murdered at the age of 38, was a leading leftist intellectual. Through his books The Thirty Year History of Iran and How Armed Struggle Becomes Popular, as well as his other writings, he contributed greatly to the theoretical and practical discussions about how to confront the Shah's regime. In the former book, written in the 1960s, Jazani predicted with remarkable accuracy that if a revolution did topple the Shah, it would be led by Ayatollah Khomeini. To read more about Jazani's life and death, and the lives and deaths of his comrades, see On the Life and the Work of Bijan Jazani, a Collection of Essays (Khavaran, Paris, 1999).

Zia-Zarfi was a lawyer. Kalantary was a radio and TV technician. Sourki was a university student of political science and an employee of the Central Bank. Choupanzadeh and Sarmadi were both day laborers. Jalil-Afshar joined the OPDG when he was still in high school. I am almost sure that he was my classmate in ninth grade, though the passage of time means I am not 100 percent certain. I say this because I remember that, about a year after the killings, a high school friend told me about a classmate of ours who had been killed by SAVAK. Both Khoshdel and Zolanvar were major figures in the MKO leadership.

Here is some background to what happened on that day. On March 3, 1975, the Shah announced a ban on all the legal political parties. There were three at that time: Iran-e Novin (New Iran), Mardom (People), and Pan-Iranist. Iran-e Novin, which held most of the positions in Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda's cabinet, was dominant. All were loyal to the Shah. A joke went that Iran-e Novin was the party of "Yes, sir," while Mardom was the party of "Absolutely, sir."

But the Shah wanted to set aside any pretense to a multiparty political system, just as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set aside any pretense to real elections in Iran last June. So, in addition to banning all the existing parties, the Shah ordered the establishment of a single new one, Rastakhiz (Resurrection). He declared, "Anyone who does not like this system can get his passport and leave the country." A few years ago, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, the ultrareactionary cleric and Ahmadinejad's spiritual leader, declared, "Anyone who does not like the Islamic government can get his passport and leave the country." All dictators think alike.

The Shah's announcement was broadcast live throughout the country, including in Evin Prison. (I watched it myself.) It has been reported widely that when the Shah announced his decision, Sourki told his comrades, "They will kill us all." After only seven weeks, he was proved correct.

The executioners were led by Reza Attarpour -- a notorious SAVAK agent under the alias Dr. Hossein Zadeh, he escaped to Israel after the Revolution -- and Colonel Vaziri, Evin's warden. Another SAVAK agent, Bahman Naderipour -- known as Hossein Tehrani -- was also closely involved. Throughout the 1970s, he was responsible for savagely beating and torturing many political prisoners, including many of my college friends, classmates, and contemporaries in the University of Tehran's Faculty of Engineering. He was executed after the Revolution. Here is an excerpt from his first-hand account of what happened on that day (Kayhan, No. 10714, May 24, 1979):

We took the prisoners to the high hills above Evin. They were blindfolded and their hands were tied. We got them off the minibus and had them sit on the ground. Then, Attarpour told them that, just as your friends have killed our comrades, we have decided to execute you --"the brain behind those executions..."

Jazani and the others began protesting. I do not know whether it was Attarpour or Colonel Vaziri who first pulled out a machine gun and started shooting them. I do not remember whether I was the fourth or fifth person to whom they gave the machine gun. I had never done that before...

He went on to describe how Sa'di Jalil Esfahani -- another SAVAK agent, known as Babak -- then shot the prisoners in their heads to make sure that they were dead.

It was then announced that those brave men had been killed in the act of trying to escape while being transferred from Evin (Kayhan, April 19, 1975). I vividly recall reading the official story in Kayhan. The doctor who examined the nine corpses saw, of course, that the bullets had entered through the victims' chests, not their backs, as would have been the case had they been attempting to escape. SAVAK, of course, did not allow the doctor to question the cause of death in his report.

The murders were apparently committed in retaliation for the assassinations of Abbas Shahriari, a notorious SAVAK agent whose infiltration of opposition groups had led to the arrest and execution of many brave political activists, and Brigadier General Zandipour, head of SAVAK's infamous "anti-terrorism committee." In fact, the nine men who were murdered had nothing to do with the assassinations.

When Amir Asadollah Alam, the Shah's long-time confidant and Imperial Court minister, asked why the men had been murdered, the Shah answered, "We had no choice. They were all terrorists, and would have escaped, which would have been worse" (see The Alam Diary, edited by A. Aalikhani, Maziar Press, Tehran, 2003, volume V, p. 69). The response clearly indicates that the Shah himself was directly involved in the crime.

While it is true that the number of the political prisoners who were murdered in the events of 1975 and 1988 are vastly different, the heinous nature of the crimes was the same: executing political prisoners on whom even the respective regimes' own show trials had not passed death sentences.

The execution of the political prisoners in 1975 was a crime against humanity and must not be forgotten. In both cases, the murderers could not recognize that the executions would change nothing, because the prisoners' actions were the product of the prevailing social conditions. So long as those conditions did not change, more brave people would come forward to resist the status quo. Both regimes apparently believed in the philosophy of Joseph Stalin: "Death solves all problems. No man, no problem."

The graves of the nine men and many others who were executed in the 1970s are situated in Section 33 of Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery, Tehran's main burial ground.

A few years ago the hardliners tried to inter those who had recently died in that section, in an attempt to gradually remove the memorials for those courageous opponents of the Shah long buried there. Due to protests by the families of the honored dead, they did not go ahead with the plan. Apparently, the hardliners are terrified by the graves of the brave men and women who lost their lives in the 1970s, paving the way for the hardliners' ascent to power.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us

67 Comments

Thanks for the history lesson. It's amazing how soon after the overthrow of Shah's brutal regime, those who benefited from it have initiated a re-write of history.

Bahman / April 20, 2010 6:20 AM

In addition to the known victims of the Shah there are those who simply vanished without a trace, which is also happening at present.The 'white shotgun' the Sicilian mafia calls it. When the Shah left Iran, his regime was in bad odour with a great many in the West (maybe it was his association with the discredited Nixon and Amnesty's reports) and very little effort was made to prop up his regime, which greatly facilitated the success of Khomeneis revolution.When you read British and US news reports of that time, its true as some have said here at TB, there was this sentiment that here was this religous man, this holy man,how quixotic,how Oriental and he is definitely not a Communist. Shortly after its inception, (if you plumb the mysteries of October Surprise and Iran/Contra) it seems a secret, shortlived and unholy pact took place between elements of Reagans team and the news masters of Iran. Ironically, the clerics would deny Carter a 2nd term and bestow the Reagan/Bush administration on America with all it entailed and they would then subsequently double-cross the clerics by unleashing Saddam on the IR, an exchange of doubtful favours. There is no honor among anti-communists as Afghanistan has proven. Left-wingers have been hunted down for 50 yrs in Iran. A pilot with the CIA descibed his experiences in Indonesia bombing various towns and villages as enjoyable work but he remarked candidly "most of those people didn't even know they were Communists". Communism is dead as an ideology and also a lot of people ' who didn't know they were Communists.'

pirooz / April 20, 2010 7:30 AM

Hi
I am just wondering whether Shall killed more people in and out of prison or the incumbent regime of Mollahs? Is there any official statistic about those brave ones who lost their lives by Savak?

O! and speaking of Savak, some of us still can see some of the former Savak officers happily live in our cities and neighbors in the West.
Reading your article makes me ask whether justice can be brought to them, perhaps not. But really, dose any of you know of any former Savaki that feels any remorse , anything?

Maybe we should just forget and move on. Maybe we should hope that our new generations in Iran , those young and brave kids on the street would learn form the past and try to not repeat those mistakes.
Power brings corruption and total power brings total corruption, as some put it.


PersianTraveler / April 20, 2010 9:44 AM

It's just sad to see how within months they displayed the same totalitarian views as the Shah that they so opposed......
Only with another "reason behind it"

Sara055 / April 20, 2010 4:43 PM

In no way am I condoning these barbaric acts because in all accounts they were acts of murder.

But seriously can we have one article that does not lament the Pahlavi regime.

Yes it was a dictatorshop, yes the regime detained thousands of people that were merely expressing themselves in a manner in which everyone should be allowed to express themselves and yes Iran most certainly needed change.

However, those universities that yourself and your fellow classmates were part of, were created by the regime before the Islamic republic. That regime was the regime that sent thousands of Iranian students abroad to study, free of charge, at the best universities in the world.

As proven during the Iran-Iraq war, the MKO have a very warped sense of morals (murdering your own people makes perfect sense.) and I apologies but 'Sazman-e Chrik-haaye Fadaee Khalgh (Organization of the People's Devotee Guerillas, or OPDG)' does not sound like a group one can have an open and rational conversation with.

In my opinion, intellectuals from that era, such as yourself (and my parents) are still trying to justify the mess your generation of Iranians created which was the revolution. Instead of bringing up the death of 7 political prisoners (however sad the loss of human life is) from 35 years ago, why not admit that it is your generations fault. Again I'm not saying that the Pahlavi regime was wonderful, because it wasn't. It was however, a bezillion times better than what our country is now.

I write this from a second-generation migrant point of view, who frankly has absolutely no political affiliation (historically that is) with anyone. My opinion is developed around what I have read, biased and unbiased...you should try it to.

Ashkan / April 20, 2010 6:05 PM

Ashkan:

Thanks for your constructive criticism.

But, the goal of such articles is not attacking the Shah per se, or trying to justify the 1979 revolution.

The fact is that the collective memory of people of my generation is fading. Important historical events took place before the 1979 revolution. Without learning from them, we will be repeating them. Therefore, one must explain such events as they happened, so that first, they are registered, and second, the right conclusion and lesson are drawn.

In this particular case, little has been said about this event and the 9 courageous men who were savely killed. Therefore, I wanted to bring it up.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 20, 2010 6:37 PM

Ashkan, like you I was born after the revolution, so my observations and opinion of pre-revolutionary era is based on other people's often biased accounts.

What articles like this do is that they stop us from romanticizing the past. If the shah was so great, the revolution would have never happened.

It's easy to sit 31 years after the event, and call it a "mistake" - it's another thing to be there, amidst the chaos and bloodshed and passion as a young, fiery 20 year old with visions of sugar plum fairies thinking that you can change the world. That's why it's so important for our generation to look at this model and why it failed. More importantly to realize that revolutions do not create sustainable change and revert back to a more brutal version of what they opposed - while inflicting economic, social and personal loss of gargantuan proportions.

This should be a reminder to all those who sit outside Iran and criticize Iranians inside Iran for not "overthrowing" the system.

Pedestrian / April 20, 2010 7:26 PM

Dear Professor Sahimi,

Why do you think the regime is so afraid of the memories of these men? Also, what are your thoughts about the NCRI and modern-day MKO in general? Do you think they still have a constructive role to play?

Many thanks for another interesting article.

Pak / April 20, 2010 9:18 PM

Traveler: Baghi, an IRI insider who is in jail now, and who dealt with crimes of Savak, puts the total killed by Savak, from 1963 to 1979, to under 400 (including those killed on streets, like in Siahkal), and 2800 additional during the revolution in street riots. IRI killed more than that in its first month of existence, and again more than that in a single day in year 1367 AH. Baghi's account is on the internet. A five-page list of army officers, from major general to soldiers is available on internet; this excludes close to 300 that IRI killed when Nojeh plan was discovered a bit later. Karim Sadjadpour, puts the total killed by IRI to 120,000.

So there you go: 400 by the shah; 2800 during revolution; and 120,000 by the ISLAMIC republic.

Shams / April 20, 2010 10:04 PM

Perdestrian: You said: " If the shah was so great, the revolution would have never happened." This is absolutely wrong. I do not mean to say that Shah was great, but his greatness or lack thereof, had nothing to do with the revolution, or else at least a single one of short-comings of the Shah would have been overcome. There was not a single honest progressive human being amongst leaders of revolution. They were nasty islamists, nasty leftists, and thuggish western educated intellectuals: all wanting to replace the Shah and rob the country on their own. Khomeini, Rajavi, and Yazdi/Ghotbzadeh represented those factions.

There were other reasons; such as the shock of substantial change (and progress) from the traditional Qajar society (with 3% literacy rate) to a modern society (with 60% literacy rate) which made people confused, overestimating their righteousness and their abilities and easy prey to islamists, leftists, and thuggish intellectuals. Observing the behavior of the khomeini et al in first month after the revolution (as well as the past 31 years), it is easy to see that revolution was nothing but based on lies and deceit with the objective of replacing the shah by thieves and murderers far worse than Shah ever was. Revolution was a set up for foolish iranians and a trap for the riches of the country, to take over the country, not by arms, but by deceit, using the short-comings of the Shah's regime. Otherwise the corruption of Shah had nothing to do with 99.99% of people. And of victims of the shah (thew remaining 0.01%) who survived, most are now alive and well, oppressing and robbing people, or killed by IRI.

Shams / April 20, 2010 10:29 PM

You got to love human beings.

Their highest discussions are not about who was better, but who was less bad.

Did the Shah kill more or the Mullahs?
Was Hitler worse or Saddam?
Did Bush electrocutions in Texas justify stoning in Tehran?
Is blowing a 2 year old boy's legs off in Gaza worse or off kids on a TelAviv bus?
If you had to choose between killing your dad or your son...

What a crap of species. Perfect evidence for non-existence of god.

Anonymous / April 20, 2010 10:47 PM

Anonymous: Idealistically you are right, but realistically, even in the best western democracies, crimes add up (someone who kills 2 pays twice as much as one who kills 1), and sometimes even innocent people fall victims of the same justice that brings criminals paying for their crimes. Falling for the argument that "Shah was bad so he must go", which is what khomeini and his followers were saying at the time, would bring us exactly where we are today. Ideal human beings do NOT exist, let alone amongst those who want to rule a country. Shah's principal corruption was dominantly due to Savak and lack of political freedom. Were iranians sincere and wise, they would have demanded those deficiencies remedied (which shah was willing to compromise on at the end). They were not wise and thus run after a 7th century mulla, and in the process some 600,000 people lost their lives (killings + war).

Shams / April 20, 2010 11:29 PM

Mr. Sahimi,

My generation is getting tired of a one sided view of the all evil Pahlavi era when the presenters of this opinion have very little to show for in terms of achievements for the last 31 years. What have you to show for yourselves?

The cases of the revolutionaries of your period and the organizations they represented namely, MKO and OPDG are one of continuous failures. How did my generation benefit from characters like MKO's Rajavies? What have they done to benefit our country? They killed Iranians and Americans alike prior to 1979, killed Iranians on behalf of our country's enemy during the war and today as far as we are concerned, they are no more than a cult. OPDG? What is that Mr. Sahimi? What have they accomplished? We got here simply because your generation failed to provide a credible leadership and the necessary guidance.You did not have the know how. Admit it.

I do not mean this as disrespect Mr. Sahimi, but when will your generation grow up? When will your generation realize that their approach has wasted the lives of my generation? If you want our respect, then you must earn it.

When Reza Shah declared himself a king and much to the insistence of the clergy at the time, only 2% of the population of Iran had any education to speak of. Iran was a backward, disease infested country, if you could even call it as one. What could anyone realistically expect from him? Democracy is the product of a nation's intellect.

It is quite apparent mistakes were made during the Pahlavi era. However, please show the positive side too. Please write about the social, economic, educational .... accomplishments too. All we receive from Mr. Sahimi is a couple of one liners about the good and pages upon pages of the evil of that era. Why?

Why is it that we never read about the evil of the Islamic reformists? When you refer to Mousavi's involvement in the executions carried out during his premiership, you refer to them lightly and declare he was not really involved as people claim him to be and yet, you comfortably refer to The Alam's Diary published in the Islamic Republic. How you can refer to a publication from the Islamic Republic about the late Shah is beyond my comprehension Mr. Sahimi. I am sorry to say, it is very amateurish on your part.

Mr. Sahimi, How about a good healthy commentary on the goodness of the Pahlavi era? Everything that my generation can see, feel and touch. Everything so irrefutably evident. I really look forward to that. Please, try being fair and balanced. Please respect our intelligence. I thank you in advance Mr. Sahimi.

Golnam / April 21, 2010 1:00 AM

Shams,

Who's talking about idea human beings. On the contrary, my point was the best of the best, who takes the time to write and think, is still fascinated with judgment.

No, we are all crap and it is sickening to hear this twisted thing we call morality. Who gives a hoot if the Shah was good or bad or if the mullahs are 7th or 8-1/2th century.

The former loved to burn reporters and watch them run, the latter hangs them off of construction cranes. I would hang them burning. If they caused the loss of 600,000, the I would go for 600,001. Hows that? Am I bad?

I know third grade math and can usually, on a good day, figure out which is a larger number. That is not the point.

Of course, every letter I type takes a few milliwatts of energy, so, but the end of this post, I will have used as much energy to accelerate the death of a starving kid in Africa (and you too, reading it). So what? Do you care?

I am saying that there is no morality in ANYONE, not me, you, mother Theresa, MLK, Gandi, Shah, Mohammad, etc. I am talking about logic, not morality. Has there been ANY thinker whose thoughts have not resulted in thousands dead? Did they care? Moses, Jesus, Zartusht, Mohammad, Gandi, Kant, Hagel,...

People kill and they enjoy it, those who keep count are

Morality is what sustains this inane discussion. Logic doesn't. The Shah was logical and so are the Mullahs. They understand that there is no value to human life. Moral people are cowards, who assign value to their species in the hope that the SOB with the nuclear weapons can believe it and save their own sorry butts. Dream on.

So, why don't we just shut up and resolve to each day kill as many of each other that we find even remotely against our views. Soon there will be a lot less of our pathetic species around that it will become hard to shoot anyone even with the most powerful rifle. Then there will be peace. We wouldn't find anyone to mutilate, and hopefully we turn onto ourselves, like cancer, which turns onto the body which nurtures it and kills it.

There is no morality and it is ridiculous to judge and compare.
We are a doomed species and we should enjoy the last act of this long coming self annihilation. We are dumber than cancer cells.

Onward christian soldiers, onward moslem soldiers, onward jewish soldiers, onward hindu soldiers, onward, onward, onward...

You poor animals in the wild, you better watch the %#^K out while we march off, we are going to make it tough for you guys for a while we kiss our own asses goodbye.


Anonymous-II / April 21, 2010 1:11 AM

Golnam: Bravo! Nobody denies short-comings of the late Shah, unfortunately he was not a flawless god, but how interesting that everything positive that we have today, and I mean "everything", including education of tens of thousands of ungrateful iranians, likes of dr. sahimi, are legacies of Pahlavis. No body could possibly bring a good legacy for pahlavis better than islamists, leftists, and intellectuals, all alike, who showed that NONE had a tiny fraction of competence and patriotism that Pahlavis had by example; but the only competence that they all shared has been plenty of criticism for the shah. And ever since, the standards of the same shah-haters has so diminished that they now hang on to multi-criminals like Mousavi and thugs like Karrubi for deliverance, while keep praising traitors and losers like Bazargan and Montazeri as their role models. (Is it because these thugs all have/had dirty ugly beards which make/made them endeared to islamists?)

A tidbit: Shah (yeah, the same old awful shah) gave voting rights to women in 1963 before Switzerland did the same in 1971!

Shams / April 21, 2010 1:54 AM

Dear Professor Sahimi,

Thank you for the quick response and I am pleased that you did not take it as a public attack soley on yourself. It was more of a generic response to our intellectual elite who are all the ironically the product of the Pahlavi education system.

In some respects I agree with Golnam. Furthermore we clearly have not learnt from them and are clearly repeating them. The collective memory of my parents and my family from the era of the Pahlavis even though my father very actively took part in the demonstrations is that of a good one. They reminisce of what they percieve were great times back in Iran, and although they do travel back it is nothing like it was.

Now my point here is that, for general Iranian people, the fate of 9 political prisoners especially from the organisations that you have mentioned would probably be less than sympathetic.

Personally it is better to maintain a memory of something positive than something negative. It is unfortunate that all we get, even from Western media is a very harsh view of the Pahlavi regime.

I understand the desire to give these men deserved attention, because regardless of political affiliation what they did was incredibly brave. However there is nothing stopping you from writing about the era you were at college where positive changes were occuring!

Ashkan / April 21, 2010 2:28 AM

I would like to commend Professor Sahimi for writing this timely and poignant piece. It highlights one key feature of the latter part of the Shah's rule: his absolute opposition and distaste for any political opening. A wide variety of political activists, from Tajzadeh to Ahmad Salamatian, openly state today that the Revolution would not have occurred if the Shah had loosened up, at least in part, the stranglehold he had placed over official politics.
Jazani and the others were idealists. Ahmad Ashraf, the Fadayan member who killed Shahriyari, was even more so. But these people were, in the end, independent militants who fought for a better Iran. They were not treacherously beholden to foreign elements, such as elements of the royal court, Savak or the Tudeh Party were. As a Mossadeqist, I have always been opposed to the Fadayan and the MKO from an ideological perspective. HOwever, these pre-revolutionary martyrs died while attempting to relieve their society of a vacuous and sterile political atmosphere, a mirage of prosperity and progress that would have soon collapsed.
Final note: Baghi's calculations are the most precise - he estimates the total number of killed between 15 Khordad and the Revolution at around 2,500. The Sadjadpour claim (which I doubt he has made himself) is certainly inflated. IRI has not killed 120,000 people. The real figure (including both the 1981 and 1988 massacres) is likely to be in the region of 8,000 people.

Well Wisher / April 21, 2010 4:34 AM

Golam:

Thank you for your detailed comments.

First of all, the goodness of a political system cannot and is not measured purely by numbers, because if that were the case, I contend that in 20 years since the end of the Iran-Iraq war the IRI has done far more for the infrastructure of Iran than the 57 years of the Pahlavis. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying the Pahlavis did not do any good; they, particularly Reza Shah, did considerable good; nor am I saying that the IRI is good. In political terms, it is a bankrupt regime. But, I first respond on your own terms. Consider the following (these are not IRI statistics, rather international organizations):

1. In 1978 the literarcy rate in Iran was 48%, now it is close to 90%

2. In 1976 (as I indicated in another recent article), only 13% of women had a job. Today, women make about 40% of the working force.

3. In 1978 less than 1/3 of all university students were female. Today it is close to 2/3.

4. In 1978 we had about 10 institutions of higher education. Today we have over 70.

5. In 1978 the number of scientific papers published by Iranians in Iran)/year in credible international scientific journals was less than 100; today it is 4000.

6. In 1978 only about 20% of all villages had basic services; water, electricity, telephone, and roads connecting them to cities and other main highways. Today it is 97%

7. In 1978 we had 2700 km of railways. Today we have close to 10,000 km.

8. In 1978, we had 8000 km of asphalt roads. Today we have 50,000

9. In 1978 we had about 15 airports in Iran. Today we have one in every large or medium city, and many small cities.

10. In 1978 only 8% of the electricity was generated by natural gas (the rest by oil); today it is 75.

11. The level of political education and awareness that people have now in Iran is absolutely outstanding, whereas 35 years ago it was nothing like today. In 1979 we knew what we did not want (the Pahlavis), but did not know what we wanted, today we know both.

12. In 1978 the military had to import everything. Today, the military is self-sufficient in a large number of areas.

13. Most importantly, in only 30 years it has been proven to us that religion and governance must not be mixed, but also that just because a political system is secular does not imply that it is also democratic. The Pahlavis were purely secular.

I can go on like this.

The point is, the goodness of a regime must be measured, not by just economic numbers, but by the level of education, sophistication, and awareness of the people, the most important factors for the development of a democratic political system.

One of the most important reasons (the most important one, in my personal opinion) as to why we are where we are today was the dictatorship of the Pahlavis. Let me elaborate:

Either the 1979 Revolution was legitimate, or it was not. If it were, I rest my case. If it were not, the question is, why was it that a small group of revolutionaries could fool a vast part of the population (no one disputes that the revolution had the support of the vast majority of the people)? I do not believe in conspiracy theories uttered by some in the above comments. They are absurd. So, if the people were fooled, why? I contend (as do a lot of other people) that,

(a) because the Shah eliminated the nationalist National Front, the moderate constitutionalist Freedom Movement, the secular left, and the moderate right-wing, all of which did not want to overthrow him but wanted him to be what he was supposed to be under the 1906 constitution, namely, a ceremonial monarch.

(b) Because the Shah suppressed the press, hence preventing it from revealing the depth of the corruption by his family and cronies (similar to the IRI).

(c) Because the Shah thought that the threat to his regime were by the above groups, and left no one for the people to turn to except the clerics.

(d) Because the Shah exiled Ayatollah Khoemeini, rather than allowing him to speak freely in Iran, hence not only making him a credible opposition leader, but also disallowing people from learning his reactionary thoughts regarding an Islamic government (velaayat-e faghih).

In short, the Pahlavis prevented the people from getting the political education and awareness by their dictatorship, which led to the 1979 revolution and, hence, the present horrible situation.

That is why I believe that learning about the pre-revolution history is important. Over the past year I have posted on this site alone over 90 articles revealing the crimes of the IRI. The total number dedicated to the Pahlavi era is around 10. You still say I am doing too much of the Pahlavi era? Not!

Muhammad Sahimi / April 21, 2010 4:58 AM

dear dr.sahimi;
thanks again for another detailed account of horrible events in the political life of iran.we will never achieve mild democracy if we have to succeed by excecuting our opponents.when we mature politicaly to sit at the table and tolerate the oppositions,it going to be a great day for iran and its people.
thanks for reminding people a bit of history,you are amazing.

fay moghtader / April 21, 2010 6:13 AM

Dr. Sahimi, where are all these data that you are giving is coming from? The ISLAMIC republic of lies and deceit?

You must have been evading iran for a long long time. Come to iran and let me show you how life is in a city or a village, where there is no water, no electricity, no school and rampant poverty.

Yes, the number of college students have increased, only because likes of rafsanjani could make a buck on that and increasing number of college students would diminish importance of education which considered the prime enemy of state. It would have happened in a much faster pace under the shah anyway. The rest of your data are made up by IRI, the same way that the published papers are plagiarized from western sources. If you believe in the halo around the head of A.N., then you should believe these numbers; they both are coming out of the same mouth!

You don't need to travel to villages (which have gone backwards relative to 1979), but only to travel between any two major cities to see what a major road looks like after 30 years. Have you? And make sure that you use the wash room in-between to see what iran of today really looks like.

You are so naive professor after 31 years of witnessing the lies of IRI to believe these data sourced from IRI; no wonder you believed when Emam Khomeini said that shah stole $56 billion and goofed so badly along with islamists, leftists, and intellectuals. You shorted Iran because you were so naive and you still are.

Come with me to iran and I show you what the achievements of IRI is in major cities as well as minor villages.

Yes, shah did not allow political freedom, but those who wanted political freedom were the same gangsters who wanted to bring Iran exactly where we are today sooner than 1979.

Please see that one of your co-deciples saying the same things as you do here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8jkIcYMcP4

Soleiman / April 21, 2010 6:42 AM

I have personally talked and heard the stories of former students from what was then called Polytechnic university (next to Alborz high school in Tehran). Of how they were savagely beaten by the Shah's secret police, and their friends disappeared; to be never heard of again.

To say and illustrate that a previous regime was rotten is not the same thing as saying that the current one is good. Sometimes comparisons that come from a linear mind fail to capture the realities of a complex situation and one must be able to "stretch" just a bit.

Saying that the current regime is rotten is not the same thing as saying that those who disagree with the regime have good intentions toward Iran - case and point, the current US administration!

Convergence to an indigenous democracy arises from local and independent grass roots movements and a cadre of intelligent and well-informed supporters with a keen sense of history. Past regime vs. present regime is a false choice! We must begin to think and dream about the evolution of a genuine and indigenous democracy in Iran that may have little to no relationships to these models of past and present. This article makes yet another contribution to the thinking and discerning readers by attempting to encourage us to see that past and the present through the clear and cutting prism of rational thought. I commend Dr. Sahimi.

Jay / April 21, 2010 8:57 AM

Soleiman:

First of all, the discussion was about political freedom. The point I was making was that just numbers do not characterize a good or bad political system. Read the last two paragraphs again, before rushing to comment and attack. Even if all the statistics are wrong, the point about the Shah's dictatorship is as valid as ever.

Second, I am amazed that people like you, without knowing anything about me, make absurd statements.
I did extensive work in Iran's universities from 1988 up to 2006. I travelled there at least twice a year, and worked with universities in Zanjan, Tehran, Esfahan, Mashhad, Birjand, etc. I have travelled extensively in Iran. I have lectured, taught clases and have had a large number of Ph.D. students in Iran. I still do have such students, even though I have not been to Iran for a little over 3 years (because if I go there, I won't be able to come back).

Third, the statistics are by World Bank, the UN, International Monetary Funds, not the IRI (I mentioned that, but you ignored it!). But, once again, they are beside the point.

Fourth, some of these are so obvious. Take for example, railways, and compare what we had during the Shah with what we have today. Azad University of Rafsanjani is counted as one, not 10 or 20. There are many governmental universities around the country. Two of my nephews attend them. At least this part I am totally familiar with.

Fifth, but aside from anything else, this statement of yours,

"Yes, shah did not allow political freedom, but those who wanted political freedom were the same gangsters who wanted to bring Iran exactly where we are today sooner than 1979"

goes to show how deeply you understand Iran. So, are you saying that, the vast majority of Iranians did not want political freedom? If that is what you are saying, then not only you do not understand Iranians in my opinion, but also insult them. If they did not want that freedom, how come they want now?

There can be no lasting economic development without political development and freedom in parallel. This has been proven time and again around the world. But, you try to make an exception for Iran to defend a dictatorship. That is absurd.

I do not have any disciple or co-disciple. Whatever other people say is their business. This another baseless and absurd statement by you.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 21, 2010 5:53 PM

I have said it to Mr. Sahimi before and will say it again. If he is truly well intentioned he needs to:
1. Start showing us a way for the future without the Islamic Republic. That would be the start of a great and constructive discussion.
2. Stop calling those who do not agree with him Zionist.
3. Just as many have requested, be fair and balanced and put the moderate Islamists under the same microscope he uses on the hardliners and the late Shahs.
4. Stop his censorship of me.

Niloofar / April 21, 2010 10:18 PM

Jay,
I agree with you 100%

Dr. Sahimi,
I agree with you that Shah's non-democratic behavior led to the establishment of the IR (and his own demise).

But that wasn't the only cause. Religion has a lot to do with it. Islam has deep roots in Iranian society, and Islam actually dictates direct involvement of religion in politics. The example was set very early by the Prophit himself, as he personally ruled and managed the Arab peninsula. Whay else would people work so hard for their freedom and then hand it over by voting for a theocracy???

I think the biggest lesson we can learn fom all of this is what American founding fathers leanrned centuries ago: SEPPARATION OF RELIGION AND STATE.

Ahvaz / April 21, 2010 10:36 PM

Prof. Sahimi,

You are wrong on many fronts; let me just explain a couple of them.

You said "8. In 1978, we had 8000 km of asphalt roads. Today we have 50,000".

Well, 50,000 what? if you meant 50,000 centimeters, you must right. If you meant 50,000 meters, you could be right. If you meant 50,000 km, there is no way in hell that the thieves in IRI built 50,000 km roads. That is as true as saying A.N. received 63% of the votes that he equally claimed, or that he has been able to consult with Mahdi at Jamkaran!

Have you asked yourself where WB or IMF got these numbers from? Did they go there and measure them or are they simply quoting the IRI. I have travelled a great deal and at best IRI resurfaces the old Pahlavi-built roads or widens them and each time counts them as a new asphalt road. So a single road can be counted ten times in 30 years and the total vastly exaggerated. A few weeks ago even the Parliament complained about slow progress of the road that they are widening/building from tehran to north had been, mentioning that the progress had been on the order of few meters per day (I can't remember the exact number but the report is on internet). And it was a few weeks ago that a tunnel that they had built fell off upon opening. And a $200M+ port that they had built in south fell off on the day of opening. So please I beg you not to be so naive, at least not as naive as those who fell prey to khomeini in 1979.

As for roots of the revolution, again you are viewing the whole incident from the narrow prism of few misguided tehran university students who thought because they had managed to enter the university (thanks to reza shah for it), and their parents did not, they were smarter than Einstein and had all the right answers for all things. The reality of people of iran outside that small community was totally different, and that is why I do not think you really knew masses of iran.

Where I grew up, which was a better example of average iranians, NOBODY complained about lack of political freedom; but everybody was talking about "lack of" religious oppression. Why shah was raising glass of wine on TV (with Carter); why girls dressed mini-skirts; why girls were drafted in police/army. why women were allowed to vote. why beer was served in restaurants; why we had Cabaret Miami advertised on TV. Why we had boys and girls dancing together in discotheques, and so on and so forth.

In other words, they "wanted" oppression under the banner of religion and would not understand the concept of personal freedom and choice. They wanted to interfere in what was none of their business to decide for the whole country. They opposed shah's progressive platform, and not his political oppression. I am sure you remember that even the godless leninist leftists (e.g., Golsorkhi) would resort to speaking of sainthood of Emam Hussein to appeal to the masses and advance their unholy objectives.

Of those who wanted political freedom, the vast majority were the same crowd that you see in power today. Very few were really sincere and well-intentioned (I can only count a handful) and even those I accuse of being misguided by not knowing what people really wanted.

You see how people even with 200+ year history of democracy can be so easily manipulated (e.g., to endorse a war but reject health insurance for masses). Do you really think that people of 1979 of iran really even understood what democracy, freedom of speech, etc. meant? The same people who stood by and allowed masses be executed by khomeini; stood by and allowed women opposing khomeini to be stabbed (for hejab); stood by and allowed newspaper offices ransacked and newspaper editors hanged; stood by and allowed our beloved kurdish minority mass-murdered; ... all in the 'same' year that until a few months earlier supposedly were complaining about shah's dictatorship. Are these the same people that you consider their only problem was lack of political freedom. For these people, shah was simply too good. Wolves should be treated like wolves, not like pussy cats.

Don't get me wrong: I would have been more than happy to see shah gone if I felt that people were sincere and were ready to remedy short-comings of the shah. But the reality was that the main root of the revolution was religious grievances and opposition to progressive platform of the shah, that opportunists of various colors (islamists, leftist, intellectuals) used to take over, oppress, rule, and loot the country for their own agenda, and not for the country or the people. The rest are academic excuses and void of any substance in reality.

Thank you for you comment.

Soleiman / April 22, 2010 1:16 AM

Unrelated? I don't think so. This is the outcome of 31 years of bull.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auIP2Lx8tYY&playnext_from


And there is only one option to deal with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnLlAp195pU&feature=related

Niloofar / April 22, 2010 9:14 PM

Thanks Professor Sahimi for responding to what has surprisingly been a relatively polite level of criticism. Maybe there is a little hope, that after 9 months of your writing on TB, we are learning to be a bit more reasonable with our disagreements.

And I certainly have disagreements with you on this issue. And I fear that soon the usual brigade of irrational anti-monarchists will start flooding these pages with nonsense personally attacking anyone who does not absolutely agree with them that the Shah was "bad". I am glad to see some people posting reasonable comments questioning some of your assertions.

For example, anyone can trot out a list of statistics, in clean numerical form, without actually making a point. I'm neither a statistician nor an Iranian history expert. But I certainly have plenty of personal and family experiences that inform my opinion. And sometimes, the statistics don't even pass the smell test. I'd like to see 1) statistics that promote the progress Iran enjoyed under the Pahlavis, and 2) more importantly, evidence that all of these miraculous advances you attribute to the IRI post-1979 would not have occurred had the Shah remained in power or had Khomeini not come to power.

I hope someone has the stats for question 1 (is there a less anti-Monarchist equivalent of Prof Sahimi out there??), and I don't think you can produce the evidence in question 2. And I can just as easily tell you that, absent the murderous and maniacal Khomeini and his ilk:

1. The literacy rate would be higher now than it is.

2. More women would have more meaningful jobs (and needless to say more respect under law).

3. The universities would be better.

4. People would have more social and political freedom.

5. Our roads would be better.

6. Our military would be stronger.

7. People would be richer.

8. People would be happier.

And on and on and on. If you cherry pick some statistics, and imply that these advances occurred solely as a result of the revolution and would not have occurred absent same, then you are not persuading me (and I suspect many others) one bit. My question is, why do members of your generation feel such a need to pump up the so-called accomplishments of the IRI while simultaneously calling them a bankrupt regime that must go?

I have a guess, which others alluded to above. Guilt, confusion, betrayal, and self-justification. Good people with good intentions followed a movement that led to disastrous (and murderous/pedophilic/barabaric) results. They are confused -- how could our good intentions have gone so bad? Why were we betrayed like this? Does that mean we are responsible? Well that thought is too hard to bear so let's look at the positives and find some stats to back us up. Oh yes, it was actually all the Pahlavi's fault. Yes, that's it, they shielded us from Khomeini and prevented us from knowing his true (evil) intent. So it's not our fault at all, and we shouldn't feel bad. This logic makes sense to me -- if I were a revolutionary with good intentions (distinguished from the many with bad ones), I don't doubt I might have similar needs to justify.

The bottom line is that all the stats in the world don't change what we can see and smell ourselves. Who can possibly claim that the country is better off because of the revolution? Don't we have eyes and ears? Don't we hear from friends and family on a daily basis about the misery in Iran? Can anyone honestly say that there was this much misery in Iran in the 1970s? Of course not.

I'm not over-romanticizing the Pahlavi era, but come on now -- we are talking about basic happiness. I'd like to see Gladwell or some other social scientists do some "happiness" evaluations from the 1970s. Yes, stifling political dissent is wrong, and those who yearned for more and were beaten/killed were done a horrific injustice, but let's not for a second fool ourselves into thinking the Shah's crimes are anywhere near comparable to those of Khomeini. Across the spectrum, are you seriously trying to tell me that the Iranian people are happier now than they were in the 1970s? And are you seriously trying to tell me that the country wouldn't be leaps and bounds ahead of where it is today had the lowlife murderer Khomeini not taken power?

np / April 22, 2010 10:20 PM

Dear NP,


I don't see Dr. Sahimi "trotting out" statistics with the intention of defending the Islamic Republic.


He merely demonstrated, by metrics validated by international organizations (IMF/WB, WHO, UNDP, etc.) that Iran has progressed significantly in key developmental criteria since the Revolution.


He was responding to monarchists fulminating that 1979 representing the apex of Iran's development, and everything has gone bust since then. For an example of such histrionics that included an ad hominem attack, you can refer to Shams' post (21/04/2010 @ 1:54AM):


"[...] but how interesting that everything positive that we have today, and I mean 'everything'[...], including education of tens of thousands of ungrateful iranians, likes of dr. sahimi, are legacies of Pahlavis."


This kind of folly demanded a studied response, and Dr. Sahimi provided it.


You pose a hypothetical question that is as difficult to answer as it is irrelevant, unless you seek a Pahlavi Restoration, as I suspect you do: would Iran's development have been better served by a continuation of the Pahlavi regime?


Perhaps.


But by the second half of the 70s, the Pahlavi regime had exhausted all of its political capital on hare-brained schemes such as Rastakhiz, was saddled with a venal, cynical and incompetent political elite, had lost control of OPEC to Saudi Arabia, neglected rural development and basic infrastructure, had alienated the traditional sectors of society by adopting a conspicuously permissive lifestyle while antagonizing educated Iranians by denying them political participation in their own country's affairs, had run the economy into the ground, and seemed incapable of breaking its habit of allocating huge percentages of limited national income to the purchase of overpriced military hardware.


In effect, the Pahlavi regime was the agent of its own death. It should be asked why it chose to commit suicide.


Perhaps Iran would be far ahead of where it is today if the British had proceeded with their initial plan to get rid of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1941 and install Soltan Hamid Mirza Qajar (aka 'David Drummond') as monarch. He even came packaged with his very own sister Shams!


http://www.qajarpages.org/mohassmirzchildr.html)


Apparently, the plan was shelved only because the dashing young prince, a commissioned officer of the Royal Navy, did not speak fluent Farsi. Thus did MRP become the Light of the Aryans and God's Shadow Upon Earth.


[Note here to the precocious Rob Sobhani, who may be given a CIA-assigned role in the Provisional Government post-IRI, probably as Minister of Petroleum: it's 'Gav-e-Shir-deh', not 'Shir-e-Gav-deh', as you recently postulated on VOA PNN. Brush up on your Farsi, boy, or you may be denied a lucrative role in Iran's colonial future.]


Or perhaps we would have been better off now if the Pahlavi twins had not agreed to support Anglo-American plans to overthrow Mossadegh, or if Mossadegh had not gullibly called his supporters off the streets at the behest of the wily American ambassador hours before the coup.

Ali from Tehran / April 23, 2010 12:23 AM


One must remember that progress is accomplished by ordinary people -- governments govern, some better than others! Denigrating progress, mostly due to the brilliance and creativity of the Iranian people, is unfair and appears to be motivated by ill will toward the individuals, people, Iranians that have made it possible.

One can hypothesize that if the events of history had been changed, then progress would have been at a different point. Although entirely legitimate as an expression of thought, it is neither provable nor debatable! Time travel and parallel alternate realities remain in the realm science fiction.

Statistics is an aspect, a dimension, of the complete story -- certainly not all of it, but it cannot and should not be ignored. However, statistics is an aggregate that does not display the story of every individual. It is true that some would tell a personal story that is significantly different than the average person's story -- in statistics they are often called outliers. However true it may be at the level of an individual, generalizing from the specific instance is a logical fallacy.

It is true that statistics can be eschewed, and it is always good to question the source and methods of collecting statistics of any kind. Nonetheless, it is useful to back the concern regarding statistics with alternate quantitative data and other statistics (not anecdotes) to bolster one's view.

Criticisms are sometimes the result of thinking too linearly and interpreting every statement as a dichotomy -- if A is bad, then the opposite of A must be good. Reality of life is far from this black and white picture!

I suggest a re-reading of the article, but this time setting aside and suppressing the urge to provide a counter-argument to every sentence. I think some may find the message of the article on re-reading it!

Jay / April 23, 2010 12:34 AM

Dear Prof. Sahmi,

You forgot to do the math before publishing your very reliable statistics on achievements of IRI.

1. Cumulative oil revenue for entire Pahlavi period was around $100B (not adjusted for inflation). For IRI's entire life this has so far been 10 to 15 times larger. So if Shah was in place and had continued at the same pace, he would have achieved far more than IRI did. It is just a simple linear equation to be solved, isn't it?

2. You forgot to consider the geographical meaning of your data. E.g., your 50,000 km asphalt road means that we should have a road every few miles in iran, do we? This puts Iran far ahead of many western countries (relative to area/population) and on par with others!

3. Did you read that recently a road was finished when they found out that the very experienced engineers who after all built so many kilometers of roads had connected the merging ramp to the wrong side of the road (like britain, unlike US), making ramps useless. The engineer must have been graduated from Oxphord with PhC (these are not typos, rather replicas of Dr. Kordan's degree). Film of the road is on YouTube. Damn those brits!

4. Please see picture of the rail road that they finished building on the east of the country on internet. When the first train tried to pass through, the cement blocks under the rails collapsed, making the whole road unusable. The engineer who also built so many kms of rail road must have been a graduate of Kaimbrij (another outstanding british university!)

5. Forgot to mention that according to CNN (film on YouTube) the self-sufficient arms that you take pride of, and children of iran have been paying for, has been a photoshop of a korean missiles and chinese torpedo film of 50s. I bet China would love IRI to take their junks off their hands and pay handsomely for. Of course the paint job, I am sure, is the achievement of IRI.

6. You forgot to mention the increased refinery capacity of iran. Oops, they are in india though!

Shams / April 23, 2010 3:24 AM

Dr. Sahimi, your numbers don't add up! Considering that Iran had almost full employment in 1978, half the current population, and shah's reign lasted 38 years vs. 31 years for IRI, then based on most of your numbers, iran should have had more than 100% employment rate and / or iranians of IRI are multiple times more productive.

E.g., based on 50,000 km road, assuming linear relationship between productivity and employment:

(50,000 / 2) / (8,000 x 31 / 38) = 383% employment/productivity!

or based on rail road:

(10,000 / 2) / (2,700 x 31 / 38) = 227% employment/productivity!

I guess those who made up these numbers did not think that someone should materialize all these achievements! Or maybe iranians of IRI are 3 to 4 times more productive, or get some serious help from Mahdi!

Also, Bushehr reactor was planned to be operation in 1981 in previous regime, yet IRI is still working on it. I read that IRI has paid russia $30 Billion for the reactor and arms in the past 30 years. Hamas has cost IRI $20 M to $50 M per year, and hezbollah $100 M to $400 M per year according to some court documents on internet. Is there any money left for all these achievements? No wonder iranian children are starving.

Gloria / April 23, 2010 4:54 AM

Dear Shams, NP, and Soleiman:

Regardless of our differences, I thank you for a good debate.

Part of the response that I wanted to give was already given by Ali from Tehran (thanks Ali). I stand by the statistics, but as Ali said, the point is, Iran after the Revolution has made much progress.

Could Iran have made much more progress? Absolutely. But, that is also true for the Pahlavi's reign. At the same time, pretending that nothing has been done over the past 20 years is utter unfair and absolute blindness to reality.

Some of the things that are mentioned in response to me are simply absurd and unscientific. Example:

One cannot just say that the Pahlavis collected only about $100 billion in oil income, and the IRI has collected six times. You have to bring in the rate of inflation. After adjusting for inflation, the total income of the past TEN years is the same as that in 1975, the peak of oil income under the Shah. Do not take it from me, check it for yourself, and remember that the population is 75 million and it was 30 million in 1975 and much smaller during Reza Shah, the country was in a war for 8 years in the 1980s, and US sanctions have existed for 30 years.

In terms of refining capacity: Indeed, the Bandar Abbas and Arak refinaries have been added, and two more are being built. In addition, the Abadan refinary was severely damaged during the war with Iraq. Trust me on this. I am an oil man (scientificwise).

In terms of railways: Yes, Ahmadinejad bragged about Esfahan-Shiraz railway that has not been finished. But it will be finished soon. During the past 20 years, the IRI has already constructed the Yazd-Kerman-Bandar Abbas railways, the Mashhad-Yazd railway, the Mashhad-Sarakhs railways, and the Esfahan-Shiraz, and Kerman- Zahedan, and Mashhad-Zahedan will be finished soon. IRI is also connecting Iran's railway in Khuzestan to Iraq's, so that people can go to Karbala by train. When done, Iran will have even more than the 10,000 KM that I mentioned.

But, once again, these are not the point. The points are:

1. Iran's economic progress did not stop with the Revolution. To the contrary.

2. More importantly, the problem with the IRI is not that it has not done anything for Iran. It has, and considerably. The problem with the IRI, as I see it, is its reactionary bloody nature.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 23, 2010 5:24 AM

Dear Gloria:

Once again, this is not about the numbers. But, let me address your point.

First of all, we were comparing the Pahlavi era versus the IRI. The Pahlavi era was 57 years, not 37.

Secondly, the IRI began its development work in 1989, after the war with Iraq ended in 1988 (read my upcoming article).

Third, your entire numbers, even if correct, are based on linear relations, which are grossly incorrect. I do not know how you came up with such relations. They are novel.

Fourth, in 1978 we did not have full employment. If we did, the revolution would not had spread so quickly.

Fifth, somethings are obvious. Read my last response regarding railroads that cannot be disputed (the trains operate!)

Sixth, how do you expect a nuclear reactor to become operative in 1981 when there was war, and Germany quit working on it in 1979? How do you expect the reactor to be completed, when only in 1996 the IRI succeeded in getting Russia to finish the reactor, which resulted in the redesign of the entire reactor. And, the $30 billion that you "heard" is ridiculously wrong. Iran has paid $1.3 billion to Russia for the reactor.

Once again, these are not about numbers. We were discussing wjhy we had a revolution.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 23, 2010 9:34 AM

Interesting that an article commemorating the extra-judicial murder of several young political activists by SAVAK henchmen has triggered a flood of comments on the unparalleled economic miracle of the Pahlavi era and the relative benevolence of killing Iranian youth by the handful rather than in cartloads, IRI-style.


It illuminates the moral compass of devotees of the ancien regime and ought to give serious pause to novices who suppose that cruelty and barbarism are traits exclusive to our present ruling class.


Clearly, in the minds of our diehard royalists, there is a natural trade-off between political liberty and due process of law versus rapid economic advancement and stability.


Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't affirming such a trade-off the foundation stone of Fascist thought?

Ali from Tehran / April 23, 2010 3:38 PM

I find this whole thread of comments quite petty and full of mud slinging. Nobody is doing themselves any favours, especially those who say that one cannot judge a government by statistics, but then proceed to do so anyway! I will try to clarify the point that these "die-hard royalists" are trying to make (by the way, Ali from Tehran - one foundation stone of Fascist thought is to label opposing views as extreme and threatening).

Professor Sahimi's narrowly focussed reporting reads more like a cheap shot at the Shah rather than something actually relevant (but I've learned to expect and tolerate this, considering his reports still provide useful facts). There is also no mention of the fact that these men, who were wrongly executed, were still terrorists. Note how Professor Sahimi interprets Bijan Jazani's work on ARMED struggle:

"...he contributed greatly to the theoretical and practical discussions about how to confront the Shah's regime."

In other words, condone armed struggle against the Shah but preach peaceful resistance against the IRI! I wonder why?


Now, please read the following extract from 'The Political Evolution of Mousavi' - 16 Feb 2010

"But, it was also during Mousavi's premiership that thousands of political prisoners were executed. In fact, the 1980s are perhaps the darkest and bloodiest decade in Iran's modern history. Mousavi has been attacked by many, notably the monarchists, the MKO, and some secular leftists, as responsible for the killings. There is, of course, no question that Iran's entire political leadership of that era bears responsibility for the execution of tens of thousands of political prisoners. Some of them bear executive responsibility, while all of them are to blame morally.

In attributing responsibility to Mousavi though, one must keep in mind that neither the Ministry of Intelligence, nor the Revolutionary Courts, nor the IRGC, nor the entire judiciary that were the instruments of the arrest, jailing, and execution of the political prisoners were controlled by Mousavi. In fact, since the Revolution, every minister of intelligence -- including Mousavi's, the cleric Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri -- has been picked by the Supreme Leader.

One can legitimately argue that Mousavi could have protested the executions, if he were truly opposed to them and knew about them ahead of time. Mousavi has said that he did not know about the executions of the summer of 1988 before they occurred. In his memoir about those executions, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri never mentions Mousavi either; in fact, after the rigged June election, he threw his full support behind him, which may go to strengthen Mousavi's statement. It must also be noted that, as detailed above, it is known that Mousavi wanted to resign several times and that opposition to the excesses of that period was conceivably the motivation. In addition, he was prime minister under the most difficult conditions, during the period when Iran was involved in its long, bloody war with Iraq. Therefore, it is conceivable that Mousavi may have thought that running the country efficiently was his highest patriotic duty. At some point, of course, if he knew about the executions, he must explain to the nation his true thoughts about the executions".


Now compare the tone of that article with today's article. Also note this statement from today's article:

"The response clearly indicates that the Shah himself was directly involved in the crime."


The Shah is guilty! Mousavi is misunderstood!


Please, you do not have to be a genius to read between the lines. I am not going to bother to ask you to change the way you report; you have the freedom to report however you want. I am just going to warn your readers that sometimes they will have to dig through the bias and propaganda to find the good bits. I do that myself and that is why I still read your work.

Pak / April 23, 2010 5:50 PM

Pak,

With all due respect with regard to your statement,

"I am just going to warn your readers that sometimes they will have to dig through the bias and propaganda to find the good bits."

I can do the same thing with 'The National Enquirer', couldn't I? Should I read it?

The truth of the matter is, the stench of the Barbaric Republic is so immense that no amount of propaganda can hide it from the informed public. The era of one sided reporting is over. Thank God for internet.

Niloofar / April 23, 2010 7:15 PM

Pak:

I never turn down a good debate!!

First of all, as Ali from Tehran pointed out (thank you Ali again), the article was about a very narrow subject - about the parallelism between 1975 and 1988 in terms of the nature of the crime. It was our dear royalists (Shahollahis, not even monarchists) that turned it into a referendum on Shah vs IRI.

Secondly, I absolutely positively reject the notion that Jazani and comrades were terrorists. A terrorist attacks civilians (not security forces, military, etc.) for a political purpose and for creating fear. Jazani and people like them did not kill a single innocent person like that. In fact, Jazani was already in jail when the armed struggle began.

In my articles about Iranian women and the struggle for democracy, I said that, in HINDSIGHT, armed struggle was wrong. But, this is 35 years later. You need to put things into their proper time context. I was at Tehran University in the 1970s, when the Shah absolutely positively rejected any political opening. I do not know about you, but I witnessed it first hand.

Third, I quote Alam, the man Shah trusted most. I do not get it. You object to that? The quote is directly out of the book and precisely translated. You tell me how you would interpret the quote.

Fourth, in discussing Mousavi's role in the killings of 1988, or lack thereof, I covered all angles. If you can find a single person (not our exiles though) or a single quote that directly attributes a significant role - or any role for that matter - to Mousavi for those killing, I'll be happy to use in my next article. I have followed and researched the killings, and would like to learn about it more.

But, as I said in the Mousavi article, the very fact that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri never attributed anything to Mousavi is telling. At the same time, Dr. Abbas Milani - no friend of the IRI and a pro-Shah scholar - says exactly the same about Mousavi in his profile of him.

Fifth, I never said that I am neutral. Objectivity and neutrality are not the same. Objectivity implies giving the chance to everyone and every angle. In this context, objectivity means bringing out both good and bad. I have always said that the Pahlavis did good work for Iran's development, but I have always talked about their dictatorship, that, in my opinion, is the root cause of our present situation.

In my articles I have described all sorts of crimes by the IRI. Few people have done as much with as much detail (I do not mean to brag). Out of 100 articles in TB over the last year, about 90 of them have been devoted to IRI. But, in fewer than a dozen in which I talk about the Pahlavis, the royalists get disturbed! The reason?

The royalists do not want the young generation learn about those crimes. They are busy giving a facelift to the Pahlavis, which is exactly why I write such articles. The young and younger generations can have any opinion they want, but they should form them based on accurate information.

Finally, the readers do not need to read between the lines. I am anti-monarchy, a secular republican, and a supporter of the 1979 revolution. There, you have it!

Muhammad Sahimi / April 23, 2010 7:48 PM

Dear Pak,


Yes, I do consider attempts to absolve those criminally responsible for extra-judicial murder as "extreme and threatening".


Sorry if you consider my view emblematic of Fascism. Maybe your definition of Fascism is more elastic than mine.


Concerning your accusation that Dr. Sahimi applies a double standard in assigning culpability to the Pahlavi and IRI regimes, you apparently do not distinguish between moral and criminal culpability.


Yes, as prime minister of a governing system that carried out extra-judicial executions, Mousavi, like his tragic predecessor, Hoveyda, was indeed morally culpable, even though his administrative power to prevent them was nil. He ought to have protested, and if his remonstrances were ignored, should immediately have resigned his post, stating publicly his reasons for doing so.


Criminal liability, on the other hand, rests squarely with those authorizing and implementing the killings, which in the case of the ancien regime was none other than His Imperial Majesty, King of Kings, Light of the Aryans, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and his savage henchmen in SAVAK.


That variation in the type and level of culpability is the reason for the difference in "tone" which you have tried so hard to document above.


Hoveyda was unfairly tried and executed in 1979 because the wild revolutionary court, driven by bloodlust and vendetta, could not distinguish between these two forms of culpability. It seems you can't either, despite the fact that the educational resources at your disposal likely far exceed what Khalkhali had to work with several decades ago.


Dr. Sahimi refers us to a page in Assadollah Alam's diaries where the Shah confides to him about the murders of April 19, 1975. I suggest you read it -- over a very, very mild cup of coffee.


And thanks for the heads-up about digging thru the "bias and propaganda" to find the "good bits". I certainly applied your sound advice when reading your own post above.

Ali from Tehran / April 23, 2010 7:58 PM

Dr Sahimi: If, as you say, you are "a supporter of the 1979 revolution", they why don't you put your money where your mouth is and move to Tehran? Second, as a supporter of the 1979 revolution, you are quite unethical to be the NIOC Professor at USC, ie your salary is being paid by an endowment given by the same regime (ie the Shah's) that you helped to overthrow. I suppose you somewhat justify it in your head, but to the objective observer it smacks of hypocrisy.

Mehdi / April 23, 2010 9:07 PM

Dear Prof. Sahimi, thank you for your response. However, there are still many contradictions in your response.

1. You lengthen Phalavi era to 57 years in the same comment that you shorten IRI by 8 years due to khomeini-induced war (remember khomeini said: war is a gift). Please be consistent. If IRI-induced war was a reason for lack of development, then the disasters that reza shah "the great" were facing (separation of khuzestan, turmoil in mazanderan and azarbayejan, WW II, ...) would also give less time to Pahlavis for development. Same goes with M.R. Shah, who was not really in charge until after 1953; so effectively Pahlavis were in charge some 10 (reza shah) + 25 (1953 to early 1979) = 35 years vs. 31 (IRI) - 8 (war) = 23 years. Still my previous calculations stand.

2. You mentioned that I did not account for inflation in my $100B oil revenue. You were right, but I already mentioned that. Cumulative adjustment for inflation is about 3X for the past 30 years. So it is $300B oil revenue (shah) vs. $1.5T oil revenue (IRI). That is still a 5 X difference; adjusted for doubling of population, you still get 2.5X more adjusted revenue for IRI.

3. You mentioned first that the reason for the revolution was not economic but lack of political freedom, but in your comment you say that "n 1978 we did not have full employment. If we did, the revolution would not had spread so quickly". So which is the reason for revolution, political freedom or economics? My view: a full stomach was one of the reasons for the revolution: people had means (money in the bank) to go on strike for long periods and march on streets without being hurt. Nowadays, you see that the 3 M that marched against IRI rapidly dissipated for (a) Many had no means to sustain being out of work (students excepted) (b) brutality of the regime (c) incompetent of leaders of opposition. You have heard the saying that "if you don't want people to revolt, keep iranian stomachs empty and arab stomachs full"; a lesson that IRI well understands (and shah did not).

4. You diminished the payment to russia to $1.3B. I said $30B for reactor PLUS arms. This is from an article from a reputable news organization on internet. There was also a short discussion in Majles (about a year ago) on cost of reactor(s) (excluding arms), where they mention being in $7 to $10B range. If I re-find either, I will post.

5. 1981 was the schedule that Shah's regime had for bringing bushehr on-line. That is 2 years worth of work beyond 1979. 2 years vs 31 years! Even if you subtract the war period; it is still 2 years vs. 23 years!

6. You said that we did not have full employment in 1978. Well, I was too young then to know by experience, but I know my father's firm were desperately looking for engineers and architects and could not find. They were importing engineers from india and pakistan. And we know about well-to-do families importing maids from Philippines. Even if employment was not full, the numbers that you have given still do not scale well with productivity of iranians.

7. I do not think we can agree on Shah vs. IRI here. Historians will be judging them more fairly the same way that they are judging Kharazmshah vs. Mongols today without much disagreement. For me one major difference is that some 4 million of us living outside iran were living inside then and had a country of our own which is no longer true, and we had ANY sort of freedoms except for political freedom, and poverty was not so rampant, and ..., and ..... Many iranians easily make that trade - lack of political freedom but having everything else vs. having neither but the color of being islamic and republic.

8. HOWEVER, the lesson of the past that we have not learned, and I am sorry to say that our intelligentsia is making same mistakes again and again, is that they allow their historical affection with Islam and historical hatred of the Shah get in the way of their judgement and lead them to a similar outcome as in 1979. Prof., I bet you dislike reza pahlavi (the living) because his father was corrupt, yet praise Mousavi who was corrupt himself (is there any corruption worse than silence for a person in charge in face of thousands of executions? same silence that Hoveida was accused of for savak's crimes and paid for it with his life). This is what I am concerned about, the people are totally deaf: they do not hear the democratic words of likes of reza pahlavi AND do not hear the undemocratic screams of likes of Mousavi (e.g. sitting next to picture of the despicable criminal khomeini and saying that he wants to bring back the good old days of khomeini). That is my concern, and in a sense I am glad that the green movement is fading around mousavi/karrubi/ganji/soroosh/rafsanjani/khatami and the rest the charlatans who brought us here.

PS. This is not about RP or if he should or should not count. This is about 2 different messages and how islamic love affair/monarchy hatred impairs judgement. For me, this is about Iran and decent Iranians and nothing else.

Gloria / April 23, 2010 10:33 PM

Dear Mehdi,


Implicit in your post above is the assumption that all supporters of the 1979 revolution were also proponents of the Islamic Republic in form it took.


Also, your criticism of Dr. Sahimi's "hypocrisy" in holding a university chair endowed by the Shah implies that the money which the despot used to establish the endowment was his own personal stash, not the common patrimony of all Iranians.


Based on your astute insights, conveyed in such pithy statements, I hereby nominate you for the "Objective Observer of the Year Award, 2010".


Please do not deprive us of any further compelling thoughts that spring to your objective mind.

Ali from Tehran / April 23, 2010 10:43 PM

Mehdi:

I supported the revolution because I thought that it would lead to a secular republic, not to a religious dictatorship.

No, my salary is paid by USC. An endowed Chair only provides a small research budget, which I usually use to support an Iranian student coming from Iran. The holders of the Chair from 1973 to 2005 were all Americans. I have been a faculty at USC for 26 years. Who was paying my salary before 2005? I was still making a very good salary before I was appointed to the Chair!! I just find such discussions to be unethical, irrelevant, and destructive, especially when they are based on lack of information and sheer innuendo.

But, even if what you were saying were correct, it was not as if the Shah donated the money to USC out of his own pocket! His father was dirt poor. Where did he get all that wealth from?

Gloria:

Unlike what you said, the article is not about the Shah vs IRI. I reject both. I was not the person who brought up the statistics. But, I also reject the notion that nothing has been done in Iran since the revolution. To the contrary. This has nothing to do with the IRI, but everything to do with my own eyes, and my ability to read reports by credible organizations!

Iraq invaded Iran. I do not understand why some, such as yourself, are willing to change history just because you hate the revolution. You are entitled to your opinion, but where is the patriotism here? It was the United States that provoked Iraq to invae Iran (many US officials have admitted this was in retaliation for the hostage crisis). It was Saddam Hussein that never accepted the 1975 Algiers Agreement with Iran.

The United Nations Security Council identified Iraq as the aggressor - the same council that some monarchists cheer on to impose tough sanctions on the common people of Iran. What you say is the perfect example of that famous saying in Persian, Shah mibakhsheh, vali shahgholi khan nemibakhsheh!

There is also no inconsistency in what I said regarding the cause of the revolution. For the educated people, the intellectuals, and the well-informed, political freedom was the most important issue. For the common people, inflation, stagnation, unemployment, and utter corruption were the issues. It all depends on whom you are talking about.

And, once again, you use the numbers in a novel, but totally naive and unscientific, way, including the rate of inflation. So, it is better not to argue back about them.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 24, 2010 12:02 AM

Dear Niloofar,

With all due respect, I don’t understand your point.


Dear Professor Sahimi,

I apologise for calling these men terrorists; guerrilla is a better, and self-appointed, term. They were not terrorists; they only inspired terrorists.

No, I did not witness firsthand the events of the 1970’s, which is why I am able to see how armed struggle is never the solution; which is why I also do not understand your point about hindsight, considering the context of the 1970’s is not so dissimilar from today. I would be grateful if you could elaborate.

I never said the Shah was not guilty. Alam quotes the Shah as saying, "We had no choice. They were all terrorists, and would have escaped, which would have been worse". What is your defence of Mousavi? That he wanted to resign but could not? That he was prime minister under the most difficult conditions? That running the country was his highest patriotic duty? That HE HAD NO CHOICE? I am not arguing that the Shah was not guilty; you are arguing that Mousavi is not guilty. This is clearly double standards.

Yes, you have always said that the Pahlavi did good work for Iran’s development. In fact, that is exactly what you have only ever said. I have never seen you develop this thought - why so? You then proceed to accuse the likes of Ashkan and Golnam (above) – who clearly state they are from the post-revolution generation - of being Shahollahis or royalists merely for raising such concerns, just as the regime now accuses opposition activists of being foreign agents. It is also so easy to say that the root cause of our present situation is the Shah. What an adolescent argument! Are you unaware of the events of the revolution and subsequent 30 odd years? Of course not – as you say yourself, you have documented such events. It seems to me that you are looking for an excuse to justify the failures of the glorious Islamic revolution, for which the Shah presents himself as the perfect scapegoat.


Dear Ali from Tehran,

Basically, after sieving through your elaborate prophecy about moral and criminal culpability, you are saying that Mousavi is only guilty of failing to say sorry, not guilty of failing to use his authority as Prime Minister to protest the execution of thousands of youth. The educational resources available to me indicate that you are merely trying to assure yourself of Mousavi’s innocence. Please look at what I said about Mousavi to Professor Sahimi to understand my position.

May I ask why you accuse me of being driven by bloodlust and vendetta? I am going to assume that you are from the oldies generation, because you have the classic characteristic of denouncing opposing viewpoints as extreme and “die-hard”.

Finally, Ali, I am pleased that you found good bits in my previous post.

Pak / April 24, 2010 12:17 AM

Sometimes I get the vivid impression that the same monarchists post on TehranBureau under changing pseudonyms to demonstrate false strength in numbers and create the impression of dominant opinion.


Here is an excerpt from Gloria's post above (10:33PM):

______________________

"Prof., I bet you dislike reza pahlavi (the living) because his father was corrupt, yet praise Mousavi who was corrupt himself (is there any corruption worse than silence for a person in charge in face of thousands of executions? same silence that Hoveida was accused of for savak's crimes and paid for it with his life). This is what I am concerned about, the people are totally deaf: they do not hear the democratic words of likes of reza pahlavi AND do not hear the undemocratic screams of likes of Mousavi (e.g. sitting next to picture of the despicable criminal khomeini and saying that he wants to bring back the good old days of khomeini). That is my concern, and in a sense I am glad that the green movement is fading around mousavi/karrubi/ganji/soroosh/rafsanjani/khatami and the rest the charlatans who brought us here."

______________________


And here are some choice excerpts from Shahryar's post of 02/01/2010 @ 11:27PM, related to Dr. Sahimi's January article, 'Turning Point':

______________________

“Monster heads were Khomeini and Khamenei and montazeri and rafsanjani, its heart was the islamic ideology, its numerous arms and legs were likes of mousavi and karrubi, baghi and ganji, sazgara and yazdi [...]”

“Bloodied hands are bloodied hands, whether minor or major; would you have been as forgiving towards the late Shah or the late Hoveida? After all they both had far far less corruption, crimes, looting, and blood on their hands as any of the thugs that you try to hype.

“Dear Prof. Your generation had their chance and they failed miserably; the end result, iran of the past 30 years, belongs to your generation;
“Even if Mousavi is a changed person, which he is not if you listen carefully to his recent interviews where he constantly praises a criminal traitor like khomeini [...]

“We want a fundamental change. Listen to Reza Pahlavi carefully to see how he envisions future iran.”

______________________


Common themes and patterns between the two posts, separated by nearly five months, different threads, separate pseudonyms, and even opposed genders, are as follows:

1. Referring to Dr. Sahimi as "Prof."
2. Using the same strange spelling for 'Karrubi', and in similar context, ie., listing him together with Ganji.
3. Referring to Khomeini as 'criminal', both times to delegitimize Mousavi's praise of him.
4. Imploring readers to open their hearts to Reza Pahlavi and hear what he is saying.
5. Juxtaposing Mousavi with Hoveida, and saying that Mousavi should be help to account for IRI's crimes in the same manner that Hoveida was for the Shah's transgressions.


Also, for those who are seriously interested, in the January thread Shahryar also has posts which develop more common themes with Gloria's comments today, such as accepting that the Shah was corrupt, or 'half-corrupt', but insisting that Reza Pahlavi is clean as a whistle, and accusing Dr. Sahimi of visiting the father's sins upon the son.


Are 'Gloria' and 'Shahryar' the same person? If yes, why does the poster feel it necessary to change pseudonyms?


You be the judge.

Ali from Tehran / April 24, 2010 1:39 AM

Mr Sahimi-Given you were an MKO activist during the revolution, how can you claim you were after a secular republic? Do you feel any guilt that the revolution destroyed the lives of 3 generations of Iranians? Yes, the Shah was far from perfect, and nobody wants a return of monarchy. But the system that has overtaken is far more brutal. As someone said earlier, there are 4 million Iranians now living outside the country? How many were living outside the country pre-revolution? And Mr. Sahimi, I would respect your defense of the Islamic Republic much more if you were writing from Tehran, not LA.

Alex / April 24, 2010 1:46 AM

Dear Pak,


You claim that "after sieving through your elaborate prophecy about moral and criminal culpability, you are saying that Mousavi is only guilty of failing to say sorry, not guilty of failing to use his authority as Prime Minister to protest the execution of thousands of youth."


No. I plainly said that Mousavi was indeed guilty of not protesting the executions. But this is moral guilt, not criminal culpability.


Criminal guilt rests with those who ordered and carried out the killings, as well as with those who had the authority to countermand the execution orders but failed to do so.


And 'prophecy' means a foretelling of future events, which is certainly not what I was doing in my previous post.


Despite your obvious handicap with terminology, it seems to me that you would not accept these nuances in guilt even if you properly grasped them.


No wonder my allusion to Hoveyda's show trial by Khalkhali puzzles you.

Ali from Tehran / April 24, 2010 2:40 AM

Oh Ali Joon - once again, you wow us with your mental...gymnastics! I can only imagine your smug smile as you sit there furiously writing (and rewriting, and rewriting, and spell checking, and editing, and looking through your pocket thesaurus, and yet rewriting again) each one of your "masterpieces." You are a legend in your own right hand. I imagine you sitting around with your plume pen, silk robe, and pipe, in your fabulous ivory tower from which you look down at the petty bloggers and "monarchists" and point out typos, accuse, denigrate, attack, label, and belittle. My, what a scholar and a hero.

I'm sorry if your eminence finds my questions and hypotheticals "irrelevant." I'm sorry if your omniscience (which has declared me a "shahollahi monarchist," whatever that means to a U.S. citizen in 2010) has been disappointed. What I don't understand is, what is your point? Do you ever have a point? You have lots of literary references and insults, but do you ever make a point? If so, what is it? And please stick to the KISS method (keep it simple stupid) -- my tiny little brain can't wade through your flowing prose to actually find a simple point or position.

Before we get too lost in the trees, let's keep the forest in mind. Most writers on TB (including Professor Sahimi - yes, I called him Professor, because he is one!) and commentators agree that they are opposed to the IRI. So that is something to build on. However, we keep getting hung up on our disagreements about the Revolution. Both the irrational Monarchists and the irrational anti-Monarchists (of which I consider you the feckless cheerleader on these posts) are the problem. For some reason, perhaps to stay true to your position against Monarchy, you bend over backwards using mental....gymnastics to somehow justify all the "good" that the IRI has brought to Iran.

I asked a simple question, which you don't want to answer, because it has a simple answer: would at least the same level of, and even more, positive developments have occurred in Iran over the past 30 years had EITHER 1) the Pahlavis remained in power (their style of rule probably would have evolved for the better over time), OR 2) the murderous Khomeini (and his pedophilic/rapist/"Islamic" ilk) not come to power? The answer is simple, and you can quote 100 more publications and trot out 500 more stats, but it won't pass the smell test: of course Iran would be better off today had Khomeini not come to power. Why that simple truth bothers you and others so, I will never understand. Keep denying the reality, if you need to, in order to justify your support (which may have been well intentioned) for the disastrous Revolution that has destroyed, not improved, our homeland and driven me and millions of others into a life of perennial exile. Like I said before, if I had been old enough at the time to support the Revolution (and given my political leanings today I very well may have then), I would be so devastated by its consequences, so guilty for the wrath that I helped unleash, that instead of being smug and arrogant, I would be apologizing incessantly and feeling perennialy guilty for my mistakes (however well intentioned I may have been).

I'm sure you will now bust out your thesaurus, scour Wikipedia, and retort with your usual bluster. Be my guest. Just don't make so many typos! ;-)

With love,

Your fascist/shaholahi/monarchist whatever label you care to throw at me this time even though all I have ever called for is a free and fair election where everyone -- including monarchists (which I am not) and Revolution-supporters (which you proudly are) - can participate.

np / April 24, 2010 3:53 AM

Oh Ali - this is great, I missed your last post to Pak! So now you are a legal scholar too?? I love it. Please tell me more about your criminal law background, and your legal conclusions (I guess you collected evidence, interviewed witnesses, carried out discovery and depositions, and tried the case in your brain?) certifying that Moussavi is not criminally responsible for the executions. Wow. Glad someone did the work. We all learn more from you every day, compatriot.

np / April 24, 2010 5:13 AM

Dear Ali from Tehran,

Are you telling me that the PRIME MINISTER of a nation only has the moral responsibility to protest, let alone resist, the mass murder of youth by his government? What kind of twisted logic is that? If my government committed mass murder, I would hold every single member of that government accountable. Most nations do.

Please, Ali, I insist you take another look at your beloved thesaurus before trying to insult me. Your insults do nothing other than prove your incompetence to actually respond to my arguments, though I must admit that your style of writing is impressive; are you trying to compensate for your lack of an actual point?

Professor Sahimi, I eagerly await your response.

Pak / April 24, 2010 5:23 AM

Alex:

I do not know why you call me a Mojahedin "activist." I never was!

In an article about Hasan Daei, the actual member of MKO and one who advocates war and sanctions on Iran, I said when I was in college at Tehran University in the 1970s, I (like many other politically-inclined students) supported the armed groups fighting with the Shah, including the MKO. But, "support" meant that we held a moment of silence for their deads in the campus, read their "elamiyeh," etc., but not actually doing anything to help them. If I had, I would not have been alive now!!! Besides, when the communists took over the MKO in 1975, people like me stopped even doing that!

Your insinuation is typical of the people who cannot argue with facts and, thus, resort to innuendoes.

Someone named Ali (not the one from Tehran) attacked me savagely because in my bio it is said that I am the NIOC Chair, and declared that I am working for Khamenei(!), whereas the NIOC Chair was established by the Shah, was held before me by Americans, does not pay my salary, but it is just an honor to be "holder" of an endowed Chair, because in any major research university holders of endowed Chairs are among the best faculty, the top 0.5% or 1%.

Now that that line of attack cannot be used, someone else said that I should not accept the Chair because I was against the Shah and receive my salary from it!! But, that was not also effective (because I do not get my salary from the endowment!), so, now I am a MKO "activist" which was against the Shah!!! Some turn around!!!

And, in what way did I support the IRI? I despise the IRI, if for no reason other than the fact that my own family has suffered greatly in the hands of the IRI. Read the following article of mine:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988.html

If you found that you are wrong, have the courage and honesty to apologize.

Pak:

What I meant was, in the suffocating environment of the 1960s and 1970s, it could be understood, at least emotionally, why some brave and idealist people like Jazani thought that armed struggle was the way to go. But, the 1979 revolution showed that it was not necessary.

I do not know whether Mousavi is guilty in the 1988 killings. In my article about him, I said he is morally guilty - just like the entire leadership. But, that is different from someone who was directly involved. I do not have "aghd-e okhovvat" with Mousavi. If he is proven guilty, so be it, and I'll mention that, unlike the Shahollahis who go to any length to defend the Pahlavis.

No, I am not looking to find ways to justify the failures of the revolution. Why? Because we must differentiate between a revolution - why it came about - and its aftermath. The revolution was legitimate and justified. Its aftermath has been almost total nightmare. Why? Because in the political vacuum of the 1970s people did not know, and there were no political parties and free press to educate them. Why? Because the Pahlavis did not allow them. It is so simple.

Ali from Tehran:

All I can say is, thank you. Zabaan-e man ghaaser ast.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 24, 2010 10:31 AM

Dear NP,


You are very testy today.


At the tail end of your strange rant @ 3:53AM, you say, in inimitably convoluted style:

___________________

"Your fascist/shaholahi/monarchist whatever label you care to throw at me this time even though all I have ever called for is a free and fair election where everyone -- including monarchists (which I am not) and Revolution-supporters (which you proudly are) - can participate."
___________________


But I don't need Wikipaedia, or even a thesaurus, to counter your dissembling. I can easily refer instead to your own post of January 5 @ 12:32PM on the comments thread of Dr. Sahimi's 'Turning Point' article. There you say:

___________________

"Prof. Sahimi, with all due respect, you stomp your feet and cry "no, no, I do not like monarchy, never did, never will" but what is your specific problem with "constitutional" (i.e. democratic) monarchy? Does the idea of Don Juan (Carlos), the Queen, and Reza Pahlavi watching a polo match in Tehran while democratically elected governments run their countries so abhor you? You talk of us letting go of the past and forgetting about monarchy, but why don't you let go of the past and stop associating Reza Pahlavi with the torturers of the Cold War.

"Don't throw away 2500 years of monarchic tradition so easily, my fellow Iranis, and dismiss all constitutional-monarchists as delusional. Better to incorporate our common history into an evolved, modern day system that unifies the good people of Iran."
___________________


But today you're not a monarchist? Not a Pahlavista either? We shall let the readers decide.


Just 100 days ago, you were a wise elder brother counseling the wilder Pahlavista cossacks to moderation, staking out the thoughtful 'middle ground' of a serene, polo-loving constitutional monarch gazing with benevolent neglect from his high ceremonial perch on the democratic fray below.


But a benign constitutional monarchy is exactly what Iran was on paper during the Pahlavi dictatorship, my dear eternally wandering exile.


[By the way, Iran's IMPERIAL tradition is 2500 years old. Its MONARCHICAL tradition is much, much older, unless Media and Elam also don't pass your vaunted 'smell test'.]

Ali from Tehran / April 24, 2010 12:59 PM

Dear Pak,


Thanks for proving my point for me.


Good thing you weren't in charge of the Revolutionary Court instead of Khalkhali.


You would have bettered his tally by an order of magnitude.

Ali from Tehran / April 24, 2010 1:14 PM

The real wealth of any country consists in its human potential not its natural resources and this potential is always there. It was there throughout the Pahlavi era, before Pahlavi and is still there now. Was it used? On the whole - no. That potential is there irrespective of development and education. It mainly consists in the talents,skills, sense of justice,political awareness and leadership of emerging generations. It was there, why wasn't it harnessed? Because it was seen as a threat. In the worst cases this latent power is hunted down, exterminated or shunted off into prescribed activities or fields of study. All authoritarian gov'ts fear these forces. Due to the logic of the Cold War,(which Iran was not immune to)authoritarian gov'ts abounded on both sides of the Wall and in between. It was not a good time to be young in Latin America, Czechslovakia, Tiananeman or Kent State and elsewhere.The period we are now in - the aftermath, where sterile arguments still smoulder about who was right and who was wrong, is different, post-ideology. Now it is easy to see the grevious, inexplicable errors and crimes.There is really no difference between a Mugabe, Khamenei, Shah, Marcos, Castro or Suharto other than quibbling over their motives and the severity of their crimes.

pirooz / April 24, 2010 2:25 PM

Prof Sahimi - with all due respect, although as usual I appreciate much of your analysis and thank you for sharing such detailed historical information, you have made some mistakes in one of your last posts.

1. A terrorist is not one who "solely attacks civilians." One can be a terrorist and solely attack military forces. Further, not every single person in the military is "guilty", as you imply. I don't know the specific facts about Jazani, but clearly you can not be saying that if this guy killed a military officer who had committed no crimes (yes, believe it or not, most of the wonderful people in the Iranian military of the 1970's were not criminals!), he could not be labeled a "terrorist" simply because the victim was not solely a "civilian."

2. Second, you use Montazeri as a reference point as to why Moussavi is innocent of crimes. Please keep in mind that many of us -- reasonable people -- do not give one iota of credibility to Montazeri. Please understand that many of us think Montazeri is a lowlife, a conspirator, a criminal, a fraud, and a stain on the wonderful history of Iran. Just because he may have repented (somewhat) and said some nice things later on in life, it does not all of a sudden make him a hero or a saint to many of us. Let's try to stick to more objective sources re Moussavi's criminality as opposed to a freaking "Ayatollah" (the word itself immediately discredits the person who claims it as a title). Lest I be labeled as a "royalist" for saying that, let me say that my great-grandfather was an Ayatollah and a leader of the Tehran Friday prayer, and thankfully after a life of "service" and a birds-eye view from the inside he came to his senses, defected, renounced the Islamic power structure, exposed the fraud that is the whole system of the Mullahs (he would know), and made sure his sons knew the truth and stayed the hell away from Najaf and the Amamehs. So what's the next label and attack from your readers - I am a self-loathing Islamist, a closet Mullah, a Shahollahi, an atheist, a neo-Monarchist?

3. You make a blanket statement that the "royalists" don't want the younger generation to learn of the crimes of the Shah's government. First, that statement is a blanket generalization, unsupported, and thus not too useful. Second, most importantly, this is one of my problems with knee-jerk anti-Monarchists. Here is the problem -- we have been lectured for 30 years about the Shah's crimes, and we (the so-called younger generation of which I am a part) have plenty of information at our disposal about these crimes. Indeed, we acknowledge them, as opposed to the irrational Monarchists who you like to attack, but here is the problem: we still do not agree with you that the Revolution was a good thing! And I think that stings you, and many others, so you keep at it. Perhaps if you accepted the fact that the younger generation can make their own minds up, and indeed they have. Even conceding that the Shah's government made all the mistakes you attribute to them, many in the younger generation still 1) despise the Revolution, 2) despise Khomeini, 3) despise the Mullahs, and 4) do not trust Moussavi. What is the problem with that? Can't we have our own positions, or must we, like you and others, throw the baby out with the bathwater by blindly bashing everything Pahlavi and jumping on the Moussavi bandwagon?

Finally, I'm pragmatic enough to see the usefulness of Moussavi at this point. He may be a lowlife criminal, but as they say, for now, he's "our" lowlife criminal. But, in the end, he still refers to a murderer like Khomeni as the "Imam" -- which instantly and absolutely discredits him -- and he is still a supporter of the "system." He might be the answer for your generation, but he's not the answer for the future. The future is not an Islamic Republic, the future does not revere the murderer as an Imam. History will clear the slate, all those streets and mosques will lose their names and affiliations with the "Imam", and the Revolution (along with Monatzeri, Moussavi, and all the other criminals) will be judged for what they are - a black stain on the history of Iran.

np / April 24, 2010 8:50 PM

Fine Prof. Sahimi, I stop challenging you. If you want someone to accept whatever you say, sorry, but it is not me. But to recap:

You said: "you use the numbers in a novel, but totally naive and unscientific, way, including the rate of inflation."

So the numbers that you give and you do not know where they came from (same source and as reliable as 63% winer of elections?) is "scientific", and my "rough" calculations that the numbers that you have given neither makes sense with geographical 'area' of iran nor with available 'manpower' of iran is "unscientific"! Dear sir, employment rate must have been below 30% before revolution AND 100% after the revolution for your IRI-induced numbers to make any sense. Of course, unless iranians turned into 70 million supermen 4 times more productive after revolution.

And accepting "A.N.-provided" numbers is not "naive" but questioning if they are as reliable as 63% vote that he got is "naive"! Please remember that it sounds like you (apparently) also believed in Sainthood of Khomeini and we know where it took us. Please go see south, east, west, north of the country to see if you find any sign of the roads and railroads that should cover every few miles of the country according to your stats.

As for inflation rate, once again you reject my number without proof. My number is derived from Figure 1.5 of the text by Prof. Hennessy of Stanford. So you're challenging him not me!

As for Iran-Iraq war, no doubt that Saddam was a vicious dog and guilty of aggression, but the one who stepped on that vicious dog's tail was nobody but khomeini and the dog bit back. And the one who continued the war beyond the first 2 years was none but khomeini. Please do not bring in yet another evidence selectively from UN when you are rejecting UN's and UNSC's vote in the same sentence on other matters (e.g., regarding nuclear issues and sanctions). If you consider UNSC's opinion as the bible, then it should be the bible all the time -- it is by the same body -- not only when convenient.

Dear Prof. you said: "For the educated people, the intellectuals, and the well-informed, political freedom was the most important issue."

Who were these "the educated people, the intellectuals, and the well-informed" and where were they then and where are they now? Were they those students who took over the embassy and threw iran down the cliff? Were they likes of doctor yazdi who rushed to iran only to mass-murder shah's officers (from generals to simple policemen)? Were they likes of doctor bani-sadr who saw the unseeable rays emanating from women's hairs to force hejab on iranian women and now is living amongst the most ray-full blonds of France. Were they sheikhs like Bazargan who bowed to a mulla? Were they religious intellectuals like ayatollah Montazeri who co-invented Vali-Faghih and dismissed the opposing views as "works of a bunch of children"? Were they likes of doctor mohajerani who still wants iranians to be denied of the same rights that he wants for himself living in britain? Were they western-educated marxists and maoists who lined up behind khomeini hoping that they would receive a piece of the iranian oil pie and khomeini's oppression? Were they western-educated intellectuals (like yourself?) who considered a mulla, who could hardly speak his native language correctly and grew up amongst sigheh-loving pedophiles of Qom and Najaf, the solution to all ills of iran? Or are they those, who after 30 years, want to jump out of the arms of a turbaned mulla, aka khamenei, only to land on the laps of a turban-less mulla, aka mousavi, the bozo who thinks Neda and hundred others like her lost their lives so that he could be crowned to bring back "the ideals of the departed emam khomeini". And the one who has no shame of his shameful and treasonous past.

Dear Prof., Being intellectual is not by literacy; a parrot can be taught to learn and repeat a bunch of things, and a donkey can be loaded with books. Our problem WAS, and to a lesser extent is, that we did NOT have intellectuals. We only had people who considered themselves to be intellectuals and used it as tools of deceit, and as the famous poem says "ones who do not know and do not know that they do not know will remain in folly and darkness forever" and the result is what we see today; no further proof is needed. What the poet Ferdowsi said a thousand years ago is so valid today that "if we were wise, we would not be where we are today."

Gloria / April 24, 2010 11:50 PM

Prof Sahimi - with all due respect, although as usual I appreciate much of your analysis and thank you for sharing such detailed historical information, you have made some mistakes in one of your last posts.

1. A terrorist is not one who "solely attacks civilians." One can be a terrorist and solely attack military forces. Further, not every single person in the military is "guilty", as you imply. I don't know the specific facts about Jazani, but clearly you can not be saying that if this guy killed a military officer who had committed no crimes (yes, believe it or not, most of the wonderful people in the Iranian military of the 1970's were not criminals!), he could not be labeled a "terrorist" simply because the victim was not solely a "civilian."

2. Second, you use Montazeri as a reference point as to why Moussavi is innocent of crimes. Please keep in mind that many of us -- reasonable people -- do not give one iota of credibility to Montazeri. Please understand that many of us think Montazeri is a lowlife, a conspirator, a criminal, a fraud, and a stain on the wonderful history of Iran. Just because he may have repented (somewhat) and said some nice things later on in life, it does not all of a sudden make him a hero or a saint to many of us. Let's try to stick to more objective sources re Moussavi's criminality as opposed to a freaking "Ayatollah" (the word itself immediately discredits the person who claims it as a title). Lest I be labeled as a "royalist" for saying that, let me say that my great-grandfather was an Ayatollah and a leader of the Tehran Friday prayer, and thankfully after a life of "service" and a birds-eye view from the inside he came to his senses, defected, renounced the Islamic power structure, exposed the fraud that is the whole system of the Mullahs (he would know), and made sure his sons knew the truth and stayed the hell away from Najaf and the Amamehs. So what's the next label and attack from your readers - I am a self-loathing Islamist, a closet Mullah, a Shahollahi, an atheist, a neo-Monarchist?

3. You make a blanket statement that the "royalists" don't want the younger generation to learn of the crimes of the Shah's government. First, that statement is a blanket generalization, unsupported, and thus not too useful. Second, most importantly, this is one of my problems with knee-jerk anti-Monarchists. Here is the problem -- we have been lectured for 30 years about the Shah's crimes, and we (the so-called younger generation of which I am a part) have plenty of information at our disposal about these crimes. Indeed, we acknowledge them, as opposed to the irrational Monarchists who you like to attack, but here is the problem: we still do not agree with you that the Revolution was a good thing! And I think that stings you, and many others, so you keep at it. Perhaps if you accepted the fact that the younger generation can make their own minds up, and indeed they have. Even conceding that the Shah's government made all the mistakes you attribute to them, many in the younger generation still 1) despise the Revolution, 2) despise Khomeini, 3) despise the Mullahs, and 4) do not trust Moussavi. What is the problem with that? Can't we have our own positions, or must we, like you and others, throw the baby out with the bathwater by blindly bashing everything Pahlavi and jumping on the Moussavi bandwagon?

Finally, I'm pragmatic enough to see the usefulness of Moussavi at this point. He may be a lowlife criminal, but as they say, for now, he's "our" lowlife criminal. But, in the end, he still refers to a murderer like Khomeni as the "Imam" -- which instantly and absolutely discredits him -- and he is still a supporter of the "system." He might be the answer for your generation, but he's not the answer for the future. The future is not an Islamic Republic, the future does not revere the murderer as an Imam. History will clear the slate, all those streets and mosques will lose their names and affiliations with the "Imam", and the Revolution (along with Monatzeri, Moussavi, and all the other criminals) will be judged for what they are - a black stain on the history of Iran.

np / April 25, 2010 1:01 AM

Ali - yet again, you are twisting and contorting, without making any points whatsoever. It's easy to be the eternal critic isn't it? Put your pocket thesaurus down for a second. Take out your pocket dictionary. Look up the word "nuance." I think you may be suffering from the affliction of being overinformed. You are very good at plucking abstract literary references out of the air (to prove no point whatsoever mind you), but you can't seem to keep the really simple things straight:

- There is a difference between absolute monarchy and a constitutional monarchy.

- I never said the Pahlavi system of the 1970's was perfect. Nor did I say I wanted to return to that system. I quite like representative democracy, thank you, despite the fact that it is not a perfect system either (at least not where I live). It's pretty evident, if you look around the world, that representative democracy along with a symbolic King or Queen can be perfectly compatible.

- I did say to stop associating Reza Pahlavi with the crimes of his father. I stand by that. You have a problem with that? What exactly don't you like about what he is saying right now (not what he said when he was 12, or 18, or 30 -- now)? Even Prof. Sahimi concedes that he likes a lot of what Reza Pahlavi is saying right now. Unlike you, I don't have a personal obsession with discrediting the poor guy, who, last I checked, has not been in charge of any government, has not persecuted a soul, has not been criminally (or morally, you apologist) responsible for any executions, has not contributed to the sick denigration of women, and has not participated in a system that advocates rape and pedophilia. Using your twisted logic, because I have no problem with Reza Pahlavi, I'm a "Pahlavista" (whatever that means).

- I never advocated a magical return of Reza Pahlavi (a la the return of your beloved Mahdi). What I said was that there should be a free and fair election -- where constitutional monarchy is an option. Why do you have a problem with that? Not too into free speech and free elections when they don't fit into your schema? Believe me, I don't view Reza Pahlavi as our savior. Why would anyone view Moussavi (who actually has blood on his hands, unlike Reza Pahlavi) as our savior?

- I absolutely said to not throw out our glorious history. Thank you for buttressing my point by saying our monarchical tradition goes beyond even the 2500 years I mentioned. Again, I'm not a historian like you - pardon my technical errors. I am generally proud of our history, save for the Revolution and the 30 disgusting and embarrassing years of Islamic rule.

- I don't know what a "Pahlavista" is. But I stand by what I said -- I quite like the image of a constitutional monarchy where a King (in my example Reza Pahlavi) can enjoy a polo match with Don Carlos while parliaments and representative governments run Iran and Spain. I don't mind the Queen of England sitting where she sits in that country. I don't mind any of the other reasonable royals of the world. Why do you? As long as there is a true system beneath them -- not a "paper" const monarchy, but a true system -- then what is the problem? Especially if that is what the majority wants? Oh, I know, I've heard this argument before: "Iranians are not ready". Right, they're too stupid. But you're so smart for having supported the Revolution (except for the inconvenient fact about everything that came after it).

And what is your point? What is your position? That our monarchical tradition is bad and should be shunned? Or that it is selectively good (Cyrus good, Pahlavi bad)? That the Revolution was good? Or that the country has made "great advances" and built roads and educated women under the IRI? That Khomeini is a true Imam, and that Moussavi is our long awaited savior? That Reza Pahlavi is a bad guy? That free elections are OK, so long as any monarchists and constitutional monarchists (yes, there's a difference) are not allowed to speak?

Still waiting on you to take a position buddy. But I'm sure that, rather than actually saying anything or make a point, you'll go back and cut and paste some more sentences from someone else's posts, take out your pocket thesaurus, brush up on your criminal law skills (oh was that a laugh!), and go back to being the same typo-spotting genius that you've shown yourself to be. Please prove me wrong.

Gloria - I'm enjoying your posts. You said it best - it's sad to see bright minds unable to reason because they are blinded by an irrational hatred of all things related to monarchy. I could care less if we have a constitutional monarchy or a simple republican government without a King -- as long as people get a fair shot at a vote, and as long as there is an absolute separation of mosque and state. [I also wouldn't mind seeing Khamenei's head as the ball in a Buzkashi match in Kabul...alas we are all allowed to dream, right? Just kidding Ali - put your thesaurus down]

np / April 25, 2010 1:53 AM

NP:

1. I used the definition of a terrorist that is often used. Jazani and comrades were not terrorists. Call them misguided idealists, but they sure were not terrorist. Here is how Wikipedia defines it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorist

Terrorism is, in the most general sense, the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. At present, the International community has been unable to formulate a universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians).

This is what I referred to in an earlier response. You don't buy it? Be my guest.

2. Your opinion of Montazeri is respected but evidently not accepted in Iran, the evidence being his funeral and praise and tribute paid to him across the political spectrum, even by a large majority in exile.

Yes, the Shahollahis hated him. But, I wish all of our low-life criminals were like him. Then again, royalists only worship the British-supported Reza Khan, the CIA-MI6 supported Mohammad Reza, and the AIPAC-Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs Reza, II. Do they count? Nah! Not in my book!

3. Royalists, in my opinion, believe in know-nothingism. I explained this in an article. Read it, please.

http://payvand.com/news/07/sep/1046.html

Just look at this thread. The facts of the article are beyond dispute. Yet, the royalists attack me. Why? Because while they are busy giving a facelift to the Pahlavis, they do not want anybody read even the beyond dispute facts.

4. As for Mousavi: Again, that is your opinion and respected, but I do not see much support for your view, aside from your own tight circle, and the MKO. When we had lunch a while ago, we both understood where we stand.

Gloria:

If I did not want you to challenge me, I would not respond to your first comment in the first place. I like a good debate. But, you actually do not challenge me. I wish you did!

Having being involved in such debates for nearly 40 years (I wrote my first political article in 1969 - no, I am not that old, but I was very young when I wrote it and got beaten up by my high school principal!), I just know that there comes a point when continuing a debate has diminishing returns.

As I see it, the problems in debating you and people like you are,

(1) you want me to subscribe to your revisionist history, not the history as it happened. So, for example, I should accept that it was Khomeini who was responsible for the war, and take your word over the UN Security Council and the international community (but when it comes to rate of inflation, I should not take your word; it is someone else's!).

(2) Regardless of how much I say I hate and despise the IRI (and my articles over the past many years prove that, if there is any need for proof), you come back and insinuate that I am pro-IRI. The last time I looked, I found the following equation to be totally INCORRECT:

despising the IRI=being oblivious to realities.

Railroads, asphalt roads, number of universities, number of airports, percentage of female students in universities, percentage of women in the work force, number of medical doctors, etc., cannot be disputed, if the rate of inflation can be. The number of scientific papers published by Iranian scientists living in Iran in credible international journals cannot be disputed because the most prestigious science journal in the world, Nature, says exactly the same as what I say. This is not a statistics that Ahmadinejad gave to Nature. You and I can check it ourselves.

(3) You constantly change the subject. Your entire first comment and thereafter were changing the subject. The article is about some indisputed facts, but it has been turned into a competition between numbers. But, even if the subject is that, what you and your type refuse to acknowledge is that, it was the Shah's dictatorship that led to the revolution. NO TRUE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS SUSTAINABLE IF IT IS NOT ACCOMPANIED WITH POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT.

(4) Your comment about intellectuals reminds me of the Shah. He despised the intellectuals because he knew he was hated by them. And, your comment about parrots and donkeys is simply an insult. But, then again, I am not surprised!

I am sure in your view we did not have intellectuals before the revolution, because I am sure you believe that if we had had, they would have supported the Shah!!! I am sure you believe that we do not have many intellectuals now either, because apparently even now almost all of of them do not subscribe to your revisionist history and do not support monarchism.

With all due respect, you and your type have such skewed view of history and the present conditions that it is really difficult to sustain a good debate with you.

Muhammad SAhimi / April 25, 2010 3:31 AM

np,

Why do you have this urge to make Mr. Sahimi happy? He has his opinion and you have yours. Please post what is on your mind and that is just fine. It is not what he thinks, but what you think. You are doing just fine. We are all entitled to our own opinions. They can only label people so much.
I love our generation because we think and do not follow blindly like their generation.

Some great points Gloria. Thank you.

Niloofar / April 25, 2010 5:02 AM

Gloria:

One more point that I forgot. I said that your numbers are novel, simplistic and naive. Here is why:

First of all, your number about the total oil income over the past 31 years is off by a factor of about 2. The total income has been about $850 billion. This can be easily proven. Trust me, I have checked it. But, do it yourself if you wish. But, I'll come back to your figure also.

Let's assume that your factor of 3 inflation is correct (it is way way off, because you have to go back to 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s to adjust the numbers, but you naively lump them in a single number).

Then, $850 billion is equivalent to $280 billion of 1977, compared with $100 billion that you said. Factor in the population. Let us say that the average population during the Pahlavi era was 25 million (it was much smaller during Reza Shah, and the peak was 32 million in 1977), and average during the IRI is 50 million (it started at 32 and it is now 75 million). So, you have a factor of 2 difference. Since in your calculation everything is linear, then, we need to divide for equivalent population the $280 billion by a factor of 2 (I believe it is wrong, but am doing it your way). That give us $140 billion, close to %100 billion.

Even if your $1.5 trillion were correct, we would still get $250 billion, not much bigger than $100 billion.

Now factor in the damage to the country due to war with Iraq. Almost everybody accepts that the first 2 years of war were legitimate, and I agree. But, most of the damage was during the first two years anyway because that was when Iraq was in Iran. The total damage to the country is estimated to be about $1 trillion. Even though most of the damage was in the first 2 years, let's do it your way, and divide $1 trillion by 4 (for 1/4 of duration of war). That gives us $250 billion in damage for the first two years (I know the actual number is much larger). So, the net is already negative. Even if we take your $1.5 trillion, the net would be ZERO.

But, that is not the end of story. Factor in the immense expense of war, just for the first two years (not 8 years). Factor in US sanctions for 30 years. Factor in the cost of taking care of the veterans of the war. What do you get?

It is this type of sober computation that must be done, not the naive way that you do. It is also this type of computations for the cost of war, done by Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz that led him to estimate the cost of invasion of Iraq to be $2 trillion. How many of those factors did you take into consideration? None, zilch.

That is why I say your computations are naive, novel, and simplistic.

I repeat: The problem with the IRI is not that it has not done anything for the country. To the contrary. The problem with the IRI is its bloody, reactionary, dictatorial nature. That is what I despise.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 25, 2010 6:43 AM

NEWSFLASH *** NEWSFLASH *** NEWSFLASH


'Shams' is also 'Shahryar' !!!


'Shahryar', the Pahlavista who posted furiously on the mega-thread of comments to Dr. Sahimi's 'TURNING POINT' article in January before going into remission, distinguishes himself by using the term "mulla" for "mullah", and "late Shah" for "Shah". Also, both 'Shahryar' and 'Shams' magnanimously concede that the "late Shah" was not "flawless".


Coincidence? You decide.


I believe the erstwhile 'Shahryar' is posting on our present thread with at least two aliases: 'Gloria' and 'Shams'.


For my reasoning on why 'Shahryar' is also 'Gloria', see my post of 24th April @ 1:39AM.

Ali from Tehran / April 25, 2010 10:52 AM

Dear NP,


I have to hand it to you for missing the glaring point of my previous post:


"A benign constitutional monarchy is exactly what Iran was on paper during the Pahlavi dictatorship."


Asking for a constitutional monarchy (which, by the way, all monarchists do; none suggest an absolute monarchy) is therefore a demand for the status quo ante, constitutionally speaking.

Ali from Tehran / April 25, 2010 7:21 PM

Ali,

Enought of your childish response. Stop wasting my time. Ali from Tehran? Or L.A.? Take care of your own end before accusing other people of duplicity. Personal attacks are a sure sign of lack of logic. This site has a webmaster to take care of those issues. Cut it out. Grow up.

Jamshid / April 25, 2010 10:50 PM

Dear Jamshid,


You've had "enought", newcomer?


I was expecting a spiteful rebuttal from the Shahryar/Gloria/Shams Holy Trinity of Thread-Rigging, or a haughty put-down from Parang, or even an acrid rejoinder from NP, the Reza Pahlavi groupie and polo enthusiast, who takes immense pride in Iran's regal past without bothering to learn much about it.


FYI, if the webmaster authenticated posts by source, there wouldn't be any comments posted by 'Anonymous'. Not so, my fully grown up, logic-bound friend?


Nobody compels you to read my posts. They are not part of the core curriculum. Skip over them to save your treasured time.


And what is it with this dogged insistence that I am posting from Los Angeles, rather than from Tehran? Is it so disheartening for Pahlavi courtiers to accept that serfs back in the Old Country are evolved enough to identify false aliases?

Ali from Tehran / April 26, 2010 11:38 AM

Looks like Prof. Sahimi has a new post, so I'm sure the comments here will dwindle, and we'll get into a debate about whether Rafsanjani is good or bad. Some final thoughts as I'll miss this spirited debate.

Prof Sahimi - I've never attacked you for being a follower of the IRI (that's a stupid comment in my opinion), though I have questioned your insistence to point out all of the IRI's "developments and advances" (when you have no evidence or reason to show that the same or greater advances would not have occurred without the IRI in place -- I note that nobody, including you, has an answer to this point I have been trying to make. Is the IRI responsible for all these "scientific minds" that have come from Iran? Of course not). You and I are usually fair to each other, so let's try to stay that way: 1) let's not quibble further about the "definition" of a terrorist -- that's futile and your idealist freedom fighter is another man's terrorist; 2) now you are discrediting yourself by making blanket statements implying that only "Shahollahis" dislike and distrust Montazeri -- just too easy to refute such a statement, which is a false statement (not to mention that many people have ulterior, Machiavellian motives for supporting him today); 3) same problem with your blanket statement about royalists -- because you have been (unfairly) attacked by certain vocal old guard supporters of the Shah does not make it fair for you to call any supporter of the monarchy an idiot - just like I can't call every supporter of Islam or the IRI an idiot; 4) I totally reject your comment about Moussavi, and, more than ever, feel like you are discrediting yourself by making ridiculous statements like "only [my] tight circle and the MKO" dislike and distrust Moussavi. On this point, Professor, I am sorry for saying "ridiculous" because I don't mean to disrespect you personally, but this is such a horrible thing to say, and despite all your knowledge, makes you seem way out of touch with reality. You are wrong, flat out. 100% wrong. I've talked to hundreds of people, who are NOT "royalists" or "shaholahis", who think Moussavi is "more of the same". Why can't you respect that? Does it seem so far-fetched for people who hate Khomeini to also hate a guy who still, to this day, praises Khomeini? I'm actually a bit disgusted (and I would imagine scores of others are too) that you would not call out Moussavi for actively supporting Khomeini, the twisted, vicious, predatory, pedophilic, sub-human that he is. That you would throw out a blanket statement and accuse people who think lowly of Moussavi of being either MKO or my "inner circle" is abhorrent. I wish you would re-evaluate that comment and take it back. It really is unfortunate, and more importantly, flat wrong.

Niloofar - thanks for the post, but I respect Prof Sahimi and, other than his weakness in getting too caught up in these discussions and making false, reactionary, blanket statements that are easily refutable, show an alarming inability to accept opposing points of view, and make him seem out of touch with reality, I love reading his articles and agree with a lot of what he says. So, I will continue to write as me, which may not be "aggressive" enough for you, but you're entitled to your opinion.

Ali from Omaha - another typo correction! I told you to put that pocket protector down! And what great investigative skills you have (Shams is Sean, Gloria is Joe, Ali is Abdul -- what in the world are you doing?) How about one shred of proof that you are "from Tehran" -- if you are, and have never lived abroad, or studied abroad, then you are truly an aberration because despite your arrogance and pettiness, you can write well in English. Now if you had any regard for your own country's history - yes, its "monarchical" history -- you wouldn't be so quick on the trigger to accuse people who say that they are not opposed to constitutional monarchy (but only if it's by the will of the people) as being wild-eyed supporters of a government they never really lived under. You conveniently fail to understand the larger point I continue to make, which is that I'm just as happy if a non-monarchical republic resulted in Iran -- again, if that was the will of the people. Note also that, I've challenged you multiple times to take a position, yet you can't do it. That sort of cowardice, hiding behing your thesaurus and writing only to criticize, is wearing thin, as you can tell from readers' comments about you. Jamshid said it best, and it obviously stung you - grow up.

np / April 29, 2010 3:08 AM

Dear NP,


If I promise to grow up, will you let me come with you to Reza Pahlavi's polo games?

Ali from Tehran / April 29, 2010 1:51 PM

Dear NP,


How sad that you are leaving this thread, my dear non-monarchist monarchist.


Now that you are off to savage Dr. Sahimi's new article, please don't forget to take your alter ego "Jamshid" with you. The trusty sidekick won't be able to tackle me on his own.


I foresee that you will enrich debate on that thread by revealing that Rafsanjani is also a paedophile!

Ali from Tehran / April 29, 2010 7:00 PM