Wednesday, June 23, 2010

William O. Beeman--Response to Reuel Marc Gerecht "Help Iran's Reformers"

June 23, 2010

Help Iran’s Reformers?

To the Editor:

Reuel Marc Gerecht correctly assesses the winds of change in the Green movement in Iran (“Iran’s Revolution: Year 2,” Op-Ed, June 15), but he is wrong about the ability of the United States to effectively aid that movement.

Sadly, decades of United States interference in Iranian affairs have guaranteed that any official American support of an Iranian reform movement will poison that movement with the plausible accusation of another round of American desire to dominate Iran.

This happened in 1953 with the C.I.A.-engineered overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, in the 1980s with the tilt toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, and today in the United States-led move to curtail Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The reformers have said clearly and repeatedly that they don’t want our “help.” So why would we force it upon them — only to guarantee their failure through invidious association with us?

Iranians are not children. Political evolution in the Islamic Republic is the only way to guarantee permanent reform.

William O. Beeman

London, June 15, 2010

The writer, professor and chairman of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, is the author of “The ‘Great Satan’ vs. the ‘Mad Mullahs’: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other.”

(A version of this letter appeared in print on June 24, 2010, on page A32 of the New York edition.)