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June 26, 2009

How George W. Bush and the American Taxpayer Helped Change Iran


Iran’s citizens, fed up with their oppressive theocratic government, are spilling into the streets and revolting at risk of death. Meanwhile the usual suspects – from the United Nations to leftists like President Barack Obama – are assuming the usual full-prone position of acute non-interventionism.


Iranians have written to me this week to ask why the United Nations isn’t doing anything. I replied that it’s because George W. Bush isn’t around anymore to file the necessary paperwork. What Bush did, however, was set up the framework for a cultural revolution in the Middle East. And most people probably aren’t even aware of how he did it. Leaving aside the significant fact that Iran has Bush to thank for the fact that Saddam Hussein isn’t around to interfere in this fight, Bush helped to lay the groundwork for a “soft power” cultural revolution.


Compare Obama’s wish for Iranians to more or less just sort it out nicely with the words of George W. Bush to the Iranian people in 2008: “My thought is that the reformers inside Iran are brave people, they've got no better friend than George W. Bush, and I ask for God's blessings on them on their very important work. And secondly, that I would do nothing to undermine their efforts.”


And how did Bush get his message into Iran? Via the main U.S. government-funded TV network: Voice of America’s Persian News Network (PNN). The satellite television network, broadcasting out of Washington, D.C., in Iran’s own language, came into existence under Bush’s watch in July 2007. It now reaches 30 percent of Iranian adults.


I suppose one could argue that a U.S. government-funded network might consist of American government propaganda, but from the BBC and CBC to NPR, these publicly-funded outlets are almost always the exact opposite, and rife with leftist journalists who are attracted by the theory that a lack of corporate and private funding ought to make them more objective and less beholden to outside interests (rather than just more leftist, as a result of the ideology of the journalists who gravitate toward them). The fact that the network is free of Iranian government propaganda makes it a powerhouse for cultural change in itself.


The American government also operates Radio Farda, featuring both music and news. Launched in December 2002, the network’s Persian language programming originates in Prague and is available on the Internet and via radio transmission into Iran from various transmission towers in the Middle East.


A spokesperson for both of these media outlets confirmed their recent need to counteract increased signal jamming by the Iranian government censors since May by adding new uplinks, downlinks and transmissions.


Iranians have also been able to sign up to receive e-mail notifications about new downloadable software and Internet proxies they can use to circumvent the Iranian government censors to access the web sites for these networks. The networks claim a “200 percent growth in use of proxy servers and web censorship circumvention software from the day before the Friday election to three days later.”


Interventionism is a military policy, not a rhetorical one. Via these media outlets, America has already helped to fuel the revolution in Iran. Yet Obama himself seems intent on not adopting any strong, moral leadership position, settling instead on a few select lines expressing the basic idea that killing peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable. Because he wouldn’t want to do anything that might cause the mullahs creating all this havoc to become unreasonable, would he? Like maybe rig a presidential election. The other idea floating about the media in defense of Obama’s silence was that any strong language on Obama’s part might incite the Iranian regime to blame the civil unrest on America. Within days, they did just that – despite any non-action on Obama’s part.


What we’re seeing in Iran is change being affected without a single bullet fired on the part of its leaders. And we’ve seen this before. The Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall fell largely because oppressed people had enough of their government. This “wall” is a cultural one, between oppressive Islamists and the rest of the world, and every demonstrator in Iran is working at tearing it down.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy obviously understands the cultural nature of this battlefield: He used the Iranian situation to address French Parliament (notable because this hasn’t happened in 136 years) with a barnburner speech about the burka as an instrument for oppression of women, and asking that a parliamentary commission look into banning it altogether.


Meanwhile, Obama is voting “present”.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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