Bombs or Miniskirts?

What really makes the turbans tremble?


Bombs or Miniskirts?
by Saeed Ganji

The Islamic Republic of Iran has developed a reputation as a threat to international security and stability. Its current pursuit of nuclear power has added a new chapter to its long story of menacing behavior. But while the international community has come to the conclusion that the Islamic Republic must be prevented from attaining a nuclear bomb, it has not resolved on how exactly to achieve this.

A variety of strategies abound as to how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. Two of these strategies have become more increasingly debated with the passage of time. The first option offers military action against Iran while the second encourages dialogue with the Iranian government. Neither course of action, however, will achieve sustainable results. A third, often-overlooked option, however, provides a much more peaceful and viable alternative.

Before beginning an analysis of the fallacies of the attack or negotiate policy dilemma, we must define the parameters of the problem we have set out to solve. We regularly hear of people in politics, media, and academia refer to the “Iranian” threat. Let’s begin by defining “Iranian.” Is the threat that has imperiled the world and startled its leaders really “Iranian”? Not exactly. Our problem is certainly not with the Iranian people. It is with the Islamic Republic (I hesitate in even calling the aforementioned state the government of Iran – many Iranians would not!). Therefore, in contemplating how we should approach the danger posed by the Islamic Republic, we must begin by defining its relationship with the Iranian people. A crash course for those of us less familiar with this twisted relationship should highlight several points: 1) The Islamic Republic does not represent the Iranian people (there are no free elections, candidates are vetted, real power lies in the hands of the unelected Supreme Leader and his network). Therefore, the Iranian people cannot affect change in the system by participating in elections and other “democratic” processes.

2) The Islamic Republic is terribly unpopular (more appropriate terms may include ridiculed and loathed). If it were not so, candidates would not be vetted, publications would not be censored, and astronomical sums of money would not be spent to control, oppress, and intimidate the masses.

3) The Islamic Republic, to the Iranian people, is preferable, as a homegrown monster, to any foreign oppressive force, be it American, European, or otherwise. That is, despite the strained relationship between the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic, the people of Iran will rally behind their country (and necessarily, their state) in the case of an attack by foreign powers.

Having addressed, these points, we can now move on to an analysis of the options we have for preventing Iran from achieving nuclear power. We begin with the option of war. For obvious reasons, including the loss of human life, war should not be an option. Furthermore, military action will more likely strengthen the Iranian government than weaken it. While we can leave the complexities of attacking a country like Iran to the military experts, we should point out that the people of Iran would rally behind their state in the case of war.

Unlike its neighbors, and much of the rest of the third world, the state of Iran rests on the foundations of the ancient nation of Iran. The territorial integrity of Iran is completely intact, despite millennia of religious, political, and social upheaval. Iran is not a country drawn up by colonialists, nor is its populations loosely united by the forces of political or economic expediency. Instead, Iranians are a fiercely proud and nationalistic people, and despite their problems with the current government, it is unlikely that they will welcome outside force as a solution. Therefore, military action will further entrench the Iranian government, taking attention away from other important domestic issues and setting back the Iranian democratic movement immeasurably. We next consider dialogue, or negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

In general, dialogue works when the parties to the talks are trustworthy and their actions are transparent. What have the leaders of the Islamic Republic shown us in the past 30 years besides words and actions that would encourage us to draw anything but the opposite conclusion about them? In addition, we must not overlook the fact that the very nature of the Islamic Republic is rooted in its opposition to the West and the United States. The Supreme Leader of Iran has openly stated that he is not interested in talking with the United States. Indeed, for an authoritarian regime like the one in Iran, an enemy like the United States supplies the ideology upon which the system stands. Friendship with the U.S. would spell the end of the Islamic Republic as we know it.

Furthermore, if dialogue will not succeed in changing the Islamic Republic’s behavior, it may achieve the betrayal and alienation of the only friends we have in Iran – the Iranian citizens! The Iranian population, unlike the population of all our other friends and enemies in the region, is young, western-friendly, and passionately opposed to the Islamic Republic. Why would we negotiate with their enemy and what message would that send to them? That leads us to our conclusion: the third option. Why not focus our energy and resources on dialogue with the Iranian people? Why not mobilize our forces to help them achieve their goals, all of which seem to lie in accord with ours? Why not let them fight the battle to establish a new Iran that respects and represents them?

Indeed, the government of Iran fears the miniskirts under Iranian manteau’s more than the B1 Bombers of the United States. War will strengthen the regime and give it more fuel for its twisted anti-American, anti-Western mission and purpose. Talks will achieve nothing, most likely because they will never go forward, but also because they will alienate the Iranian people, among whom we find our most valuable allies. How, exactly, do we pursue this third option? Well, there are many ways we can. First, we must begin by devoting just as much attention to internal Iranian issues as we do to Iranian foreign policy. Everything should not just be about nuclear power or holocaust denials.

In fact, those issues are where Iran is strongest (many people sympathize with them on those issues). But what will the Iranian government say when we expose the atrocities it commits on a daily basis against the Iranian people? How will it defend its countless violations of human rights? Newsflash: Innocent Woman Stoned in Iran. How does that sound? I can hear the Islamic Republic crumbling as I type. Why not also expose the terrible corruption of the ruling clerics in Iran?

On other levels, we must encourage business interests to stop conducting business with Iran, directly or indirectly. We must freeze and boycott Iranian interests and businesses abroad. Meanwhile, we can promote greater cultural exchange with the Iranian people. And all the while, we can continue to support democratic and secular Iranian opposition groups and help them unite to achieve a goal that we all share in common: a free, democratic, secular Iran.

Saeed Ganji; Ph.D., Sc.D. Secretary General National Union For Democracy in Iran, Washington, D.C.


Ari Siletz

We agree on no war on Iran, but

by Ari Siletz on

Investigations by IAEA and NIE say Iran is NOT developing nuclear weapons. Where is the data supporting your suggestion to the contrary?

Also, would you expand on "...encourage business interests to stop conducting business with Iran." Here's an example to clarify the intent of my question: If Iranian film companies, book publishers, theater groups etc. wish to offer their products in the US market, should we refuse?


Just remmeber Black Monday!

by Ali reza (not verified) on

Those in USA who are in favor of attacking Iran should remember Monday October 19,1987.That was when US forces attacked an offshore platform off of Persian Gulf that made stock market crash and think twice before they or Israelis launch a similar attack.The US economy does not need another shock.
Peace on Earth


Dear Saeed, Islamic Republic

by Adidas (not verified) on

Dear Saeed,

Islamic Republic of Iran is menacing and oppressing Iranian People, no doubt about it. This regime needs to be changed by Iranian people, but come on... don't repeat what US and Israeli's and all the reactionary forces are saying! IRI is not a threat to international security and stability of the world. what has Iran done? occupied any land? invaded countries? Iran is surrounded by US criminal military forces. Iran is constantly threatened by Israel, and by every politician from McCain to Hillary.
You want international stability? Ask Israel to respect the rights of Palestinian and ask US to behave like a civilized country not a world bully.


War is neither Wanted nor Warranted!

by Mini (not verified) on

Sir, i belong to punjab on indian side and i started off taking interest in Iran when i fell in love with persia and persian culture and that too when on researching i found soo many cultural similarities with iran..well if there are differences i was always interested only in similarities :)....

onus is actually on younger generation..they got to respect the old conventions, traditions and give them their due place ...identity is also something!! :)....while moving on the same time to remain in sync with the outer world...which is soooo important!!!

i dont know personally what is right, its more of a personal choice...but there are some questions which are always troubling the thinking minds as to put what first:

liberty or identity??
spirituality or practicality??
individuality or family??
our life or social causes??
self-respect or survival??

importantly...Logic or Emotions??

balancing as we all know is a difficult difficult act..

How the majority responds to these questions and under which influences reflect on and shape the society..

but one thing is for sure HUMANS DONT DESERVE BOMBS anyhows anytime anywhere..

hmm... in the end bombs are for never and miniskirts is a miniproblem/majorproblem :) hmmm depends on who you think you are and what they think where you are!! :)

nehows sir the title was engrossing and charming and thought provoking..and the article articulate and calculated..

Peace and Prosperity to Iran and Iranians!


Go Bless!!!

by Parsagards (not verified) on

MR. Ganji,

You make me proud as a hamvatan. Well said and well done. I am moved by your reasoning and articulate analysis. Do us all a favor and speak on TV and other media (even if you have to pay a visit to the dreaded Fox News!! a.k.a. "Khala"!!).

With Warm Regards, Parsagarda


I say put a bomb under the miniskirt !

by Malekeh_ on


K Nassery

Finally, a reasonable path.

by K Nassery on

I am going to send this to the people that I know in my US Senator's office and ask them to read it.  I have been hoping for a solution to this problem.  Thank you.