Bahai News - UNDATED: weapons capability
UNDATED: weapons capability.
By Associated Press, 3/17/2000 10:35
America's response has been a policy of isolation and containment. We took
Iranian leaders at their word that they viewed America as an enemy, and in
response we had to treat Iran as a threat.
However, after the election of President Khatami in 1997, we began to adjust
the lens through which we viewed Iran. Although Iran's objectionable
external policies remained fairly constant, the political and social
dynamics inside Iran were quite clearly beginning to change.
In response, President Clinton and I welcomed the new Iranian president's
call for a dialogue between our peoples. We encouraged academic, cultural
and athletic contacts. We updated our advisory to Americans wishing to
travel to Iran. We reiterated our willingness to engage in officially
authorized discussions with Iran regarding each other's principal concerns
and said we would monitor future developments in that country closely,
which is what we have done.
Now we have concluded the time is right to broaden our perspective even
further, because the trends that were becoming evident inside Iran are
plainly gathering steam. The country's young are spearheading a movement
aimed at a more open society and a more flexible approach to the world.
Iran's women have made themselves among the most politically active and
empowered in the region. Budding entrepreneurs are eager to establish
winning connections overseas.
Respected clerics speak increasingly about the compatibility of reverence
and freedom, modernity and Islam.
An increasingly competent press is emerging despite attempts to muscle it.
And Iran has experienced not one, but three, increasingly democratic rounds
of elections in as many years. Not surprisingly, these developments have
been stubbornly opposed in some quarters and the process they have set in
motion is far from complete. Harsh punishments are still meted for various
kinds of dissent. Religious prosecution continues against the Baha'i and
also against some Iranians who have converted to Christianity.
And governments around the world, including our own, have expressed concern
about the need to ensure the process for 13 Iranian Jews who were detained
for more then a year without official charge and are now scheduled for trial
next month. We look to the procedures and the results of this trial as one
of the barometers of U.S.-Iran relations.
Moreover, in the fall of 1998, several prominent writers and publishers
were murdered, apparently, by rogue elements in Iran's security forces.
And just the past weekend a prominent editor and adviser to President
Khatami was gravely wounded in an assassination attempt.
As in any diverse society, there are many currents whirling about in Iran.
Some are driving the country forward, others are holding it back. Despite
the trend toward democracy, control over the military, judiciary, courts
and police remains in unelected hands and the elements of its foreign
policy about which we are most concerned have not improved.
But the momentum in the direction of internal reform, freedom and openness
is growing stronger. More and more Iranians are unafraid to agree with
President's Khatami's assessment of 15 months ago, and I quote, "Freedom
and diversity of thought do not threaten the society's security," he said.
"Rather, limiting freedom does so. Criticizing the government and state
organizations at any level is not detrimental to the system; on the
contrary, it is necessary," unquote.
The democratic winds in Iran are so refreshing, and many of the ideas
espoused by its leaders so encouraging, there is a risk we will assume too
much. In truth, it is too early to know precisely where the democratic
trends will lead.
Certainly, the primary impetus for change is not ideology, but pragmatism.
Iranians want a better life they want broader social freedom, greater
government accountability and wider prosperity. Despite reviving oil
prices, Iran's economy remains hobbled by inefficiency, corruption and
excessive state control. Due in part to demographic factors, unemployment
is higher and per capita income lower than 20 years ago.
The bottom line is that Iran is evolving on its own terms and will continue
to do so. Iranian democracy, if it blossoms further, is sure to have its
own distinctive features consistent with the country's traditions and
culture. And like any dramatic political and social evolution, it will go
forward at its own speed on a timetable Iranians set for themselves.
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