November 24, 2002
MAY THE [THIRD] FORCE BE WITH YOU:Iran's 'third force' insists on a pure democracy: Unrest brewing again on college campuses (FARNAZ FASSIHI, , November 24, 2002, Newark Star-Ledger)
When Iran's 2,000-year-old monarchy was toppled in 1979, it was largely the work of revolutionary university students.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1997, a new generation of students rallied behind a little-known, midranking cleric because he promised reform and social freedom. Their support secured Mohammad Khatami the presidency, with a landslide vote of more than 70 percent.
Today, students are making noise again. This time, however, their message is different. In heated speeches delivered to thousands of spectators across campuses every day, the students are boldly telling the government -- conservatives and reformists alike -- that they no longer have faith in either side and will fight for change independently.
"Reform is dead. We no longer believe the system has the capacity to change from within," says Akbar Atri, a 28 year-old student leader and former president of the Office for Fostering Student Unity, an umbrella organization for Islamic student unions across the country.
"Our ultimate goal is pure democracy, without a prefix or a suffix," Atri said. "Meaning no more religious or Islamic democracy, because the two are incompatible."
This is another one that the "moron" got right, when the administration issued a statement in July that bypassed the "reformers" in Iran and the Arabists in our own State Department and put the U.S. squarely on the side of the students. This action brought howls from the predictable corners, but, once again, the Bush team seems to have seen further and more clearly than their critics. Funny how they keep, like Morton Kondracke on the original McLaughlin Group, stumbling into the truth. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 24, 2002 8:56 AM