The New York Times Magazine has a good piece today on how the Bush team has boarhawged Iranian democratic reformers.
It doesn’t matter that Bush’s intervention has worked out disastrously for Iranians working on the side of curbing dictatorship.
All that matters is that the Iranian government response to U.S. intervention creates new pretexts for Bush to demonize Iran – and to sway more Americans to acquiescing to more U.S. government slaughter abroad.
I chucked stones at the same topic last year in a piece for the American Conservative (and in more detail in Attention Deficit Democracy):
In February , the Bush administration announced it was seeking $75 million in “emergency” funding to promote democracy in Iran. (The U.S. government was already spending $15+ million – along with unknown amounts of covert spending to destabilize the government). The new funds would be dabbled out for expanded TV broadcasts, scholarships for Iranians to study in America, and fostering an independent media. This last goal is a hoot, considering the uproar over the ongoing U.S. program bribing “independent” Iraqi newspapers to publish articles praising U.S. military operations.
The Bush administration’s efforts seem geared far more to domestic strutting than to the survival of Iranian democrats. The open profusion of American money makes it far easier for the Iranian government to tar all reformers as Fifth Columnists and traitors. Iranian human rights activist Emad Baghi bitterly complained “We are under pressure here both from hard-liners in the judiciary and that stupid George Bush.” Vahid Pourostad, editor of the pro-reform National Trust newspaper, told the Washington Post that whenever the United States “came and supported an idea publicly, the public has done the opposite.”
It is unclear whether the Bush administration honestly wants to advance democracy in Iran – or whether it is merely creating another pretext to start bombing. If the Iranian regime responds to Bush’s brazen intervention by rounding up reformers, further repressing free speech, acting even more paranoid, it may help Bush sway Americans on the need to bomb Iran in the name of democracy.