Radio Free Iran — Pierce the Mullah Curtain!


By: Warner Todd Huston

The State Department today touted plans to station 10 more US diplomats in Dubai to monitor Iran and support her pro-democracy movement. This story is good news on several levels, but only if the ideas that are being discussed are pushed to the best possible advantage.

Unfortunately, the State Dept. down at Foggy Bottom does not have a very good track record were it concerns creative thinking. They are stuck in cold war, status quo thinking, imagining that this Global War on Terror can be treated in the same way we treated the Soviets. Worse, they feel that the UN is the proper battle ground for discussions with the Mid East.

In a story from the New York Sun, the situation was described this way:

The siting of the monitors in Dubai reemphasized that the president and the State Department believe the United Arab Emirates is a strong American ally in the war on terror at a time when the Dubai government is facing hostility from lawmakers over its planned purchase of facilities in six American ports.

I sincerely doubt that the State Dept. feels the same way about the situation as does the president. And later in the story we can certainly see that conflict spelled out.

As the Sun reported in January, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Henry Hyde, a Republican of Illinois, had refused to bring the bill before the full committee at the request of the State Department, which was concerned the legislation’s provisions for sanctions and support for regime change in Iran would disrupt talks on Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions with members of the European Union, known as the EU-3.

Here we see the State Dept. pulling at odds with the president on Iran, on regime change in particular, and the Bush doctrine in general. I have to say, that it is disheartening to see Representative Henry Hyde (R, Ill) was a party to it, as well. It is also interesting that the bill now has 345 co-sponsors, which would seem to have made Hyde’s obstruction somewhat untenable at some point.

But here is the action paragraph, and that which is most helpful if pushed to the best possible advantage, though it is a long-term solution to be sure.

The Dubai monitors, and the setting up of American radio and television stations beaming into Iran, would address “a serious divergence between our capabilities and the profound challenges before us concerning Iran,” Foggy Bottom’s no. 3 official, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns, told the House International Relations Committee.

A radio free Iran comparable to the radio free Europe that was set up by the CIA during the Cold War to beam radio into the former Soviet Union to support, strengthen and give hope, and information to the millions behind the Iron Curtain in the lands oppressed by communism could be a boon to pro-democracy forces now behind the Mullah Curtain.

Such a media effort is an incredibly cheap way to help out the pro-democracy supporters inside Iran. The stories of Polish Democrats huddled around their radios listening to American broadcasts and finding hope and support among them are legion. It is long past time we created a similar effort to help Iran and other oppressed peoples in the Mid East.

The Dept. of State and the CIA both have ignored the area for far too long as to development of pro-democracy forces. Even today, in this Global War on Terror, neither agency has many people who read or speak Farsi. The Sun story reveals that Nicholas Burns from the State Dept. is touting their grand “new” ideas of expanding, “… our Farsi language training to train a new generation of American diplomats in Iranian history, culture, and language.”

Interesting choice of words, that. Mr. Burns says “A new generation” as if they are putting out to pasture the old generation. Unfortunately there isn’t an “old” generation! Those offices, branches, and capabilities were cast aside decades ago. The State Dept. has been nearly bereft practically since 1979 of anyone capable to assist the president to deal with or understand any situation in Iran.

The Dept. of State has fallen down on the job for far too long. I sincerely hope the Iran Freedom Support Act sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), gets a quick and fair hearing and the process is started soon. We are fast running out of time.

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