Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mind your c's and b's

Zahra Eshragi wants to see better days for Iran, but She doesn't see them anytime soon.

Eshragi is the granddaughter of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the 1979 revolution in Iran.

It is no secret that many Iranians are unhappy with the leadership of their country and with the fruits of the revolution that they so eagerly fomented nearly 30 years ago.

Iran, contrary to the understanding of many Westerners, is something of a democracy. But it has a flaw, a deadly flaw, the same flaw that doomed two previous revolutions in history, in France and in Russia.

No checks and balances.

The Soviets believed that if only the capitalists and the opiate of religion were swept away, the long-suppressed good nature of mankind woulod rise to the surface. Everyone would work hard and all would be well.

We know how that turned out.

In a previous century, the French believed that if they swept away their monarchy and broke the power of the Church, then a secular utopia of equality, brotherhood and fraternity would rise up.

That wasn't quite what happened.

The founding fathers of the American nation, by contrast, were not utopians. They did not believe that any man was above corruptibility. So they created a system of checks and balances -- the missing element in all three of the revolutions mentioned above.

It is by no means a perfect system. But it has worked for more than 200 years.

Why does Eshragi feel so gloomy about Iran? In a recent interview, she lamented the "hard-liners lock on power."

Well, there's the problem. In America, people unhappy with our current president picked the "candidate of change" this year. Imagine if a body of American authorities, religious or secular, had the power to disqualify Obama from having run.

In Iran, a body of clerics has exactly that power and they are accountable only to Allah.

The revolution was meant to bring freedom to Iran, Eshragi said. Well, if so, instead of taking American hostages, its architects should have studied the American Founding Fathers.

Instead, she says, "with this trend, nothing remains of the republic. And they have left nothing of freedom."

If you are reading this as a rant about American superiority, you have totally misunderstood me. It was precisely because they recognized that their fellow citizens were no more superior than people anywhere else, no less likely to become corrupted and do evil, that the U.S. Founding Fathers did what they did.

Checks and balances. You gotta have em.

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