Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Democracy IS a Specific Goal

Everyone who pays attention to the evolving Green Movement in Iran realizes that the brave individuals on the ground in Iran will decide their own course.  They have never been led or influenced by what Western pundits think, but Western pundits have to keep spouting something or else they'd lose their punditry jobs, so as long as they're going to keep at it, I figure I might as well share my thoughts too.

It seems almost every newspaper or network has its own pet pundit complaining that the Greens are not asking for definite, concrete goals.  The way I see it, the Green Movement is asking for Democracy, and that is a specific goal.  Although people may debate over exact details of the democratic ideal, the basics are pretty simple, especially for a people starting from scratch after just sending a dictator off to the Hague.  

Iranians want to decide for themselves what their government will be like.  And they don't want to be rushed or pressured while they do it either.  All these media hosts hounding one prominent Green after another to define exactly what Free Iran will look like are missing the point.  Free Iran will look like whatever comes out of a long, thorough, logical, open democratic process where the Iranian people can fully debate and determine exactly what it is the majority of them want. 

The Iranian people are determined to get their free choices (this time for real) come hell or high water, so the question to ponder is more about what should Khamenei's next steps be if he wants to survive, rather than what should the Green Movement worry about.  If Khamenei continues to stand in their way, I don't know what might happen to him.  If he wants to be remembered by history as something better than a monster, I suggest that he order the following three things immediately: 

  1. General Amnesty for all prisoners of conscience, immediately freeing them, exonerating their records, and paying compensation for abuse
  2. Free Demonstrations permitted for all groups, protected from all harm by security forces, and open to international media without interference of any kind (free juice optional)
  3. National Referendum observed by the United Nations to determine whether the majority of Iranians want to continue with velayat-e faqih or call a convention for a new constitution
Let the people out of prison, let the people speak to the world, and let the people vote freely.  Khamenei's best option for sheer self-preservation is clearly to allow these three things, and then retire gracefully and swiftly to a non-extradition country if and when the vote shows his people no longer want him.  Will he make the smart choice?  Well, he hasn't so far, but only time will tell.