Eminent Persians

Individuals who shaped Iran’s modern political history


Eminent Persians
by Abbas Milani

Eminent Persians
The Men and Women Who Made Modern Iran, 1941-1979
Volumes One and Two
by Abbas Milani (Author) 
Syracuse University Press , 2008

As the 25th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution approached, Abbas Milani realized that very little, if any, attention had been given to the entire prerevolutionary generation. Political upheavals and a tradition of neglecting the history of past regimes have resulted in a cultural memory loss, erasing the contributions of a generation of individuals. Eminent Persians seeks to rectify that loss. Consisting of 150 profiles of the most important innovators in Iran between World War II and the Islamic Revolution, the book includes politicians, entrepreneurs, poets, artists, and thinkers who brought Iran into the modern era with brilliant success and sometimes terrible consequences. Abbas Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University where he is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.


Politics in Iran: 1941–1979
Politics in modern Iran has been dominated by protracted battles between competing models of politics and society. One formative battle has been between advocates of a secular Iran, its laws emanating, at least ostensibly, from the will of the people, and supporters of an Islamic Iran, ruled not by law, but by sharia and personal fiat, and legitimized not by popular sovereignty but by divine anointment. In this contested history, a bewildering variety of political movements, ideologies and forms of government have appeared on the horizon. Movements as far apart as Nationalism, Constitutionalism, Marxism, Islamic Fundamentalism, Social Democracy, Islamic Liberalism, and Fascism have each found powerful Persian advocates. Forms of government as different as Oriental despotism and Islamic theocracy, “guided” democracy and authoritarianism, and finally, liberal democracy have all been tried at some moment of Iran’s modern history.

The effort to create political parties has also yielded surprisingly varied structures. The first attempt to create political parties in the 1940s helped foster a kind of democratic experience, and the two-party system of the late 1950s was often described by the Shah as an experiment in “guided democracy.” At the same time, the Shah himself had brought both parties into existence, and had placed at their helms a succession of trusted loyalists. From Manuchehr Egbal and Assadollah Alam to Yahya Adl and Amir-Abbas Hoveyda, each had their turn as the leader of a party. What he had created, the Shah felt entitled to dissolve.  In 1975, the Shah dismissed all political parties, replacing them with a single party he called the Rastakhiz or Resurgence Party.  

Nearly all the elements of this varied collection of political structures can also be found in the west. In Iran, however, they have often assumed unusual forms, shaped by the vagaries of a long imperial history, by the dictates of geography—particularly proximity to most of the world’s known oil supplies and to the Soviet Union, the now-almost-forgotten “evil empire” of the Cold War—and finally, by the hegemony of a particular form of Islamic culture called Shiism.

The conflict between modernity and tradition did not arrive with Shiism, but has underlain Iranian politics from the start of the twentieth century.  Beginning with the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–07, modern Iranian politics has struggled with modernity, and the temptation to emulate the West not just in politics, but in every aspect of culture.  Seen as an episode in this continuing struggle, the 1979 Islamic revolution was not the first but certainly the most successful attempt to turn back the historical clock and dismantle what little progress Iranian society had made toward political modernity.

From a broader historical perspective, the same revolution appears one of the twentieth century’s greatest political abductions. Ayatollah Khomeini and his cohorts co-opted a democratic popular movement that enjoyed the near-unanimous support of the country’s urban population, and instead of a democratic polity, created a pseudo-totalitarian theocracy where nearly all power rests in the hands of an unelected and despotic “spiritual leader.”

This abduction was the more daring, and the more anachronistic, because it took place just as the world was seeing an end to despotic and totalitarian regimes. In the mid-1970s the world had begun witnessing what social scientists now term the “third Wave” of democracy. Regimes based on ideology—long considered the most pernicious form of despotism—were in their death throes.  Liberal democracy, with some form of market economy, was beginning to emerge as the victor in the “culture wars” of the Cold War era.

In defiance of this important global development, in contravention of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, and in spite of a long tradition of “quietist” Shiite theology, embodied in the person and practice of Ayatollahs Hoseyn Boroujerdi and Seyyed Kazem Shari’atmadari—a tradition that discouraged the clergy from any claim to political power, and that, in the months after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, was brilliantly exhibited in the personality and practice of Ayatollah Sistani—Ayatollah Khomeini used the chaos of the revolution, the organizational weakness of the democratic forces, the weakness, illness and vacillations of the Shah, the policy confusion in the Carter Administration’s handling of Iran, and finally, the West’s continued fear of Soviet expansionism, to create an anachronistic Islamic state in Iran. Neither the dynamics of his success, nor the foundation of the lives of the eminent men and women of Iranian politics, can be understood, or explained, without some appreciation for the overall contours of modern Iranian history.

Decoding the Iranian Past
Deep-rooted cultural obstacles have hitherto hindered the serious and impartial study of Iran’s political history. A dearth of archives, memoirs, journals and biographies, and the prevalence of a Manichean view of history, where the cosmos is torn between the forces of good and evil, have been among the obstacles on the road to a clear, accurate understanding of Iran’s political history.

Another obscuring factor, one that has discouraged attention to the role of multiple individuals in shaping modern Iranian political history, has been the cult of hero worship.  The belief in the formative role of “great men” has traditionally shaped the Iranian view of history.  The dominance of this view has meant that the few reliable biographies, and much of the historical narrative, written to date have focused on a few important figures only; as a result, the lives of hundreds of men and women who actually shaped the contours, and determined the course, of Iran’s modern political history, have attracted little or no attention. This section of Eminent Persians is intended to fill in and integrate this incomplete and fragmented historical landscape.

Of course the cultural distrust of individualism is not the only reason for this fragmentation or for the failure to fully chronicle or appreciate the role of the myriad men and women who actually shaped modern Iran’s politics. Iranian culture has long had a propensity for Messianic thought; it has had a need for a Savior, or Mahdi, to arise and deliver salvation. History shows that messianic milieus are fertile grounds for the development of conspiracy theories; one easily begets the other. In fact, a propensity toward conspiracy theories is often the secular corollary of a messianic proclivity.  Shiism, the dominant form of Islam in Iran, is at least partially predicated on the idea that the twelfth Imam—the Mahdi—will reappear after his long absence, and with his return, all injustice and want, all inequality and suffering will end. Indeed messianism and conspiracy theories—both prevalent in Iran—have much in common. In both, a force outside society, beyond its redress and review, shapes the fate of that society; in both, individual responsibility is abjured in favor of some cosmic or foreign force; in neither do individuals with their foibles, or societies with their failures, bear any responsibility for the calamities that have befallen them.  In both, the power of the conspirator correlates negatively with the sense of enfranchisement on the part of the populace.  In both, order and meaning are imposed upon a world that appears terrifyingly chaotic and meaningless.

Informed and self-assured citizenries do not need the balm of conspiracy theories. If people lose their faith in the redemptive power of the messiah—as they often do when societies secularize—and do not concurrently develop faith in their own powers as citizens to determine their own political life, then lapsed messianism easily morphs into belief in conspiracy theories.

>>> Eminent Persians available from amazon.com


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more from Abbas Milani

You still keep dodging the issues Mr Mammad

by Anonymous Analyst (not verified) on

I was going to let you have the last word. I am still going to let you have the last word but not without a closing comment from me.

It is an easy way out of a debate to say: you keep saying what you say and I keep saying waht I say with no conclusive result (or may be you understand it better this way "lakom dinakom vali'addin".

It is now clear to me that like, many of your neo-Islamist comrades (Ganji, and yes Sazegara, Soroush, Kadivar, Ebadi, etc.) you have carved and created a private Islam of your own (hence insisting that yours is a private faith). This may suit you, at least in short term, but soon holes are going to appear in its body. Islam, as is documented in Quran and Hadith and accpeted by hundreds of millions is a public AS WELL AS a private faith. As a shi'ite you are expected to follow the twelve Imams in their deeds and their thoughts. Imam Ali wrote page after page of instructions to his appointed governor of Egypt, Malek Ashtar, as to how to govern the people of Egypt. This is a clear example of Islam's (at least its Shiite sect's)inseparable links with politics. There are hundreds if not more examples of this sort. To call Islam an idealogy (which is blasphemous) the same as Communism or Nazism is, ironically, confirming that it is a political faith.

So as you see my friend 2 + 2 is not alway 4 (it could be 10 if counted on the base of 2 !!)

And lastly, the whole science is based on philosophical assumptions and interpretations, if not,they would have changed the title of PhD from all the doctrates in science and engineering. Think about it.

vassalamo ala mena'ttaba el hoda!


Anonymous Analyst

by Mammad on

I did not use Wikipedia. I did my undergraduate work at Tehran University in the 1970s, when we "grew up" with such things as the difference between various leftists lines of thinking. You do not accept what I said about Maoism and Stalinism? Do not. I do not have any problem with it.

Who the heck is Sazegara that I should be a follower of? Or, for that matter, Gangi? The former worked within the IRI system for years and profitted handsomely from it, but once he was no longer in the game, he came to the US, and has become a friend of the neocons. Gangi was a brave man, but unlike what he would like to think, he is no leading thinker or leader or strategist. Besides, have you ever seen him or read his criticism of his own past?

As for Dr. Soroush, I have utmost respect for him, but I am no follower. Yes, Islamic fundamentalists think that we should have an Islamic government, but they are in the minority. The reason that I believe religion, and in particular my religion, should be a private matter is that, once you mix ideology with governing a nation, you get disaster. We saw it in the Soviet Union, in China, and now in Iran. This is as simple as 2+2=4.

Both Dr. Milani and Professor Abrahamian are experts, but only when it comes to certain subjects. My point is, no one can be an expert on everything, but Dr. Milani has certainly acted as such. You do not agree? Don't. Fine with me.

I did not dodge any question. Since you seem very familiar with the issue between Dr. Milani and others who have criticized him, you should also know who his targets were and are.

I am not degrading anything. Hard science, like physics and chemistry, are not subjective. You work with numbers, compounds, etc. Political science, on the other hand, is subjective. While there are certain well-established principles, there are many things that are subject to one's interpretation.

As for quantum mechanics: It has been enormously successful in predicting the properties of materials at small scale. No serious scientist doubts it. The issue that you brought up is more philosophical.




Mammad: When you adopt from Wikipedia ...

by Anonymous Analyst (not verified) on

at least do it completely. This is a chrachteristically Islamists style of debate who select the part of the facts that suit them and bury the rest. Here is the complete passge from which you adopted:

" Maoism generally discredits the socialist framework of the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev and dismisses it as Communist revisionism. Some critics claim that Maoists see Joseph Stalin as the last true socialist leader of the Soviet Union, although allowing the Maoist assessments of Stalin vary between the extremely positive and the more ambivalent.[2] whereas some political philosophers have seen in Maoism an attempt to combine Confucianism and Socialism - what one such called 'a third way between communism and capitalism'[3]"

As you see my friend there are different shades and interpretations of Maoism and they differ in their views of Stalinism and his methods. So by choosing to make a blanket assumption about people and their belief systems, you are giving an unrefined and crude response to the issues you are trying to address. Anyway, this is not the right place to debate the differences between various "-isms" but to suggest that Maoism and Stalinism are essentially the same is similar to suggest that Bahaism and Shiism are an item and Bahaiis believe in Shiite Islam!!

On the queston of democracy you seem to be a follower of Soroush, Sazegara and I suppose Ganji. True, democracy is a utopic goal to be reached by different approaches but the democracy that you believe in, no matter what you may call it, cannot be the same the democracy that Abbas Milani belives in as in your version, such minorities as Bahaiis, gays, lesbians, etc. should not have an equal standing to the believers who uphold their Islamic values. I am sure you are going to tell me that your faith is a private matter to you and plays no part in your politics. Sorry to have to disappoint you my friend but if this be the case then yours is a revisionist shade of Islam and not the one prophesized by the one whose name you have borrowed. Islam is not only a private belief to be kept between you and your God (as in Christianity) but it is a way of life and a way of governing other people's lives. If you keep it in a closet then that is not the mainstream Islam.

On the question of the people Milani has unjustly attached, again you dodgeed the question and referred me to vague and unclear references.

Obviously your standards for being an "expert" are inconsistent. I cannot imagine if Abrahamian meets your conditions why not Milani. Besides, has Milani ever introduced himself as an expert or is that the others, like the media people, would like to call him an expert? You seem to have developed a personal dislike for Milani based on your subjective (an non-scientific!!) measures.

I take it that you are into some kind of scientific pursuit, hence bringing up the comparison between the physical and social sciences and degrading the latter. You are not comparing like with like. Social and physical sciences can not be compared in the same way that faith and reason cannot be compared. Yet you repeat your meaningless mantra again: "Thus, one can, like Dr. Milani, do scholarly research, but be extremely biased, as he is." By whose measures?

Did you know that it is debatable whether the theory of quantom mechanics is valid or are we living in the world of our own biases? As Rumi said: "paaye estedlaaliyoon choobin bovad."

Think about it!


Anonymous Analyst

by Mammad on

You have raised a few good points. Therefore, let me respond.

(1) Maoist vs Stalinist: I am sorry, but it is you here who is not informed. Maoism rose as a result of the efforts by Nikita Khrushchev and others to eliminate Stalinism from the Soviet Union. Mao accused the heirs to Stalin that they were revisionists, and had deviated from Stalin's path. He and his followers considered themselves the true heir to Stalin. So, a Maoist is, in fact, someone who believes in Stalinism.

(2) First of all, there is no such thing as Western or Eastern democracy. Democracy is based on certain principles that are universal, but the method of achieving it is NOT, and depends on the culture, demography, etc. One version of it - liberal democracy - is what has been adopted by some in the West.

Secondly, my religion - Islam - is a private matter. I believe in a secular republic; more precisely, a social democracy.

Third, read Dr. Milani's articles and the numerous responses to him to see whom he has attacked and whom he has not.

(3) Having information about something is very different from being an expert about that subject. I am a very well informed man when it comes to Islam, Iran's contemporary history, etc., but I am NOT an expert on all of these. Therefore, while there is nothing wrong with Dr. Milani expressing his PERSONAL opinion about anything, he is NOT an expert about all those subjects.

(4) As I said in my post, Dr. Milani does his homework and does do scholarly research. His new book, which I have not yet seen, is probably the same, based on the previous books of his that I have read.

But, writing about history and politics is way different from writing about scientific matters - physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and mathematics - because the former are subjective. Thus, one can, like Dr. Milani, do scholarly research, but be extremely biased, as he is. The two are not mutually exclusive, in my opinion.



Ironically Mammad, you shoot yourself in the foot

by Anonymous Analyst (not verified) on

Here is what you proclaim:

"I prefer by far Dr. Milani to many Iranians, especially on this page and website who - unlike Dr. Milani - do not know practically anything about the subjects on which they comment on, and do not even bother to do at least a superficial reading of the subject. They comment mostly based on instinct and gut feelings, rather than any valid information."

So you don't like uninformed Iranians on this page. Are you counting yourself as one? Evidence? Look:

"Of course, Milani, a former Stalinist himself, presumably recognizes other Stalinists".

If you had bothered to study Milani's past you would have known that he used to subscribe to a Maoist ideaology which both in theory as well as in practice is vastly different from Stalinism.

You also say (about Milani):

"has attacked totally unfairly some brave men and women who are living in Iran and struggling to help the cause of democracy,"

Let us have some names please unless you are only obsessed with Zarafshan and his ilk. Also, as an Islamist, your definition of democracy and the accepted definition of the term i.e. "a form of government in which the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system" cannot be the same unless you are a self-styled Islamist, who believes that Islam and the Western definition of democracy can live together happily!!

You continue to degrade Milani:

"and has allowed himself to express "expert" opinion about things about which he knows nothing about, such as Iran's nuclear program, and Iran's contemporary literature and literally figures. "

and a few paragraphs later:

"Dr. Milani's opinion and writings are one out of many by several informed and knowledgeable Iranians. "

Hmmm, So Milani is Informed and knowledgeable but not an expert?!!

Unlike you I have regularly listened to Milani's weekly talks with Mohri at the Radio Sedaye Iran in which he has already discussed a number of Eminent figures he ha featured in his book. The degree of reseach that has gone into this book and the supporting documentation that has been consulted is unprecedented and unrivalled.

So my friend you are talking form a typical biased and fanatically hostile view as expressed by the many Islamists on this site. The evidence above shows you are contradictory, inconsistent and uninformed or in your own words your comments are:

"mostly based on instinct and gut feelings, rather than any valid information."



As opposed to Imminent Iranians..

by eroonman on

I love it.

Only on this pub, can Iranians start with a disucssion on a well researched and scientifically relevant topic (even if a bit dry) such as the history of Iran as told by the finally well-funded Dr. Milani, and end up with a fight between 2 nameless faceless people taking up an issue on the relative maturity and intelligence of the entire Iranian people, and then in a huff, call each other 5 year old babies, and pout!

You're stupid!

No, You're stupid!


Ok then, Fine! (....Goh!)


Heechee baba...


mature come back anonymous....

by Jaleho on

And thanks for following my comments on different threads although you believe I have the maturity of a five year old :-)


Jaleho: Your presumputuous

by Anonymous... (not verified) on

Jaleho: Your presumputuous diatribe is childish and speaks of your pathological indoctrinations.

I blame it on your character flaws , your obnoxious self coupled with an immaturity of a 5 yo. Also , I also need to point out to you Mrs./Mr. anti-colonialism , that your despicable hypocrisy is glaring when you defend the Islamic colonialism and Imperialism so feverishly.

I have followed your comments on different threads and the bulk of contributions are sour and venomous;
designed to spread more animosity and hate in the world.

P.S.: I'm still waiting for Abarmard's analysis with links and full citing of his sources.


Anonymous... Infact Abarmard seems

by Jaleho on

to be one of the few posters I have seen around who articulates his postion very clearly if you read his blogs and comments. I have my disagreements and agreements with him, but for sure I can see where he stands since he tends to give his opinions politely, fairly, and independently without preconceived ideas.


you tell him:


"On what ground do you assert that Iranian people are too dumb...."


As a matter of fact, you seem to be the one who are sitting afar, in complete disconnect with Iranian people and assume they are bunch of brainwashed idiots following a system which in YOUR OPINION is evil. Iranian people have fought and overthrown even Shah's regime which was backed by the biggest world power, they kicked out American military personel and sacrificed tens of thousands of their own to achieve what they wanted, too bad that since it is not what you wanted , you consider them dumb.

It seems to me that Abarmard finds many problems with what goes on in Iran at the moment, but unlike some people here who would like a foreign intervention, he has more respect for the Iranian people to assume them dumb or incapable in fighting for their own.


Abarmard: you have never

by Anonymous... (not verified) on

Abarmard: you have never been able to articulate your vague generalities in regards to IRI. What do you mean IRI is authoritarian but not completely; What do you mean IRI is very complex?? Most governments are. What do you mean by "I believe that we are fooling ourselves to just package the system as one evil and want it to go."?? On what ground do you package this regime as NOT evil and why not??

On what ground do you assert that this regime is reformable? I'll be waiting for your analysis.

On what ground do you assert that Iranian people are too dumb or too religious to understand that murder, raping and plundering of their national wealth, corruption, freedom and prosperity is good for them? Don't you think Iranians perfectly capable of distinguishing what is ethical and unethical? What is moral and what isn't? Do you thin Iranian religious people agree with how the IRI is representing Islam??? I don't think so.

It is the Islamic Republic that needs to be reformed not the Iranian people, religious or otherwise. You, on the other hand, keep peddling your propaganda that IRI is blameless because Iranians are idiots and don't know any better.

What does being religious has to do with a government robbing its citizens blind??? Do you thin Religious Iranians are stupid and don't understand what's going on under their noses?

If you're privy to such rarified knowledge, please do englighten us and substantiate your haphazard claims based on factual knowledge and examples.

Please elaborate on your assertions with references and links.


فرد پرستی

امیر کبیر در صف تخم مرغ از ساعت شش صبح و پیت نفت بدست (not verified)

عرض کنم یکی از دلایلی که ما در المپیک شانسمان میزند و مدال طلا در ورزش "تک-وان-دو" میگیریم و یا در گذشته در کشتی مدال طلا میبردیم ولی هرچه زور میزنیم و مربی خارجی میگیریم در فوتبال پخی نمیشویم، بخاطر آنستکه ما ملتی عیر متحد هستیم و از کارهائی که نیاز به همکاری دارد بیزاریم.

حتی در پاسخهای اینترنتی نیز این شیوه را پیروی میکنیم و هر کس فقط حرف خودش را میزند، مگر آنکه پاسخ یک مداح قبلی را بخواهد بدهد و یا پاسخ توهین دیگری.

این شیوه فردگرائی مارا در دنیا بسیار عقب انداخته است و در زمینه روابط اجتمائی نیز آشکار است. در گردهمائی های فامیلی اگر دقت کنید، ایرانیان علاقمند هستند که همه در آن واحد صحبت کنند و هر کس سعی اش در آنستکه مطلب خودش را بکرسی بنشاند. این همان است که در بازارچه های دود زده جاده ابریشم مرسوم بود و در خون ماست، که با فریاد کالای خودرا بفروش رسانیم.

از قبیل میلانی ها در تاریخ معاصر ما بسیار بوده و هستند و در آخر امر باری از دوش این ملت بر نمیدارند که هیچ، لا اقل حاضر به همکاری با یکدیگر هم نیستند و کارها را خرابتر میکنند.
بابا طاهر همدانی فرماید:

تو که باری زدوشم بر نداری
نمکپاش دل ریشم چرایی


to: mamad

by Reza K (not verified) on

"Before we make a judgement about a comment, we should at least be patient enough to receive the response", you say.
Receive a response for what? YOU made the accusation, and left. We either have to shut up, or say something. Ali P said something. You say to him" before getting sarcastic, at least wait for my response".

(Khaajeh Hafez Shirazi,..Khaajeh Hafez Shirazi...where did I hear that name before...?)

Oh, I remember!"Everybody knows Samad Behrangi was killed by savak, except for Khaajeh Hafez Shirazi...
everybody know savak set on fire Rex cinema in Abadan, except for Khaajeh Hafez Shirazi..."

Nice try!
We were fooled once.
We won't be fooled again!


Collaboration of many

by Asgharhossein (not verified) on

Collaboration of many individuals with the Islamic Republic's SAVAMA AND VEVAK will eventually be revealed in due time.


Reza K.

by Mammad on

Do you have a special way of reading into things or between lines that I am not aware of?

I was not offended by Ali P. comment. I have a very thick skin. If you have been reading this page long enough, you should know it.

All I was saying was that, before we make a judgement about a comment, we should at least be patient enough to receive the response. Then, if we do not like the response, start using sarcasm, name calling, etc. Tell me, what is wrong with what I said?

Regarding Dr. Milani, his collaboration with SAVAK is well-known, even to Khaajeh Hafez Shirazi.



‫اسمارت اَس

‫قاسم (not verified)

‫این چه الم شنگهیه شماها راه انداختین؟ این آقای میلانی یک کتاب نوشته آمده اینجا به شما بگه که بلکه اونهایکه میخوان برن بخوننش. حالا این وسطه هر کی حرفی میزنه، پنداری میخواد برسونه نه اون از میلانی باهوشتر یا واقفتر به مسائله؟ بعضیها میگفتن ایران، ایران نمیشه اگر ما نتونیم حرف بقل دستیمونو گوش کنیم، اره پنداری همین آقا آبامرد رو همین سایت بود(رکوردشو دارم).

خلاصه بقول این آمریکایا نخواید سمارت اَس تر از این آخوندا باشید، میبینید که به کجا انجامید.

‫اونایکه میخوان برن این کتابو بخونن برن بخرندو بخونن، اونایکه نمیخوان بخونن، نخونن. والسلام...


DK well argued

by Abarmard on

You are clear and I respect your position.

NIAC had to make some tough choices in regard to its stance about the Iranian issues, especially during the time that the war drums were being beaten by Conservatives in the US and Israel. I believe that they made a right decision by choosing to clarify Iran's realities and the chaotic outcome of a war. By doing so, they had to justify Iran, which could be translated as the Islamic Republic. Those who mis understand NIAC's position, NIAC realized in a cost benefit analysis, that their position would result in greater good than the cost (war). I believe that they were correct to justify the Iranian position to clarify misunderstandings and humanize the issue.

Many Iranians have become accustomed to have an loud opposition that firstly throws its fist and declares its position. NIAC is not an opposition that people are looking for and it frustrates people. You can't look at NIAC as a slogan but as an idea. I don't want to repeat myself and talk about their position, but many of the criticism is unjustified, given the scenario of the time.

Iranian regime is more complicated than many seem to understand. It's authoritarian system, but not completely. It's dictatorial, but not completely. From another angle, they have pillars of Iranian style democracy, similar to 1906 revolution, which many Iranians identify with. Is it adjustable? reformable?

Just keep in mind, when revolution happened, almost all the brains either left or was killed by the revolutionaries. Was it the IR that did that? or is it a characteristic of "revolution" ? That's another topic yet important to consider since we might be thinking of another one (Cost benefit analysis). Today, the Iranian society, after moving backwards, is moving ahead...Those old "Mullahs" and revolutionaries are becoming more pragmatic and the word revolution is fading gradually to a new entrance called "system". Keep in mind that we socially do not have much democratic history, similar to Europe, we need to gain some knowledge and experience. Similar to the west, our channels are only open with time and social move towards modernization. Not from government to society, like Shah era (Which failed) but from society to government...Sorry, this is getting long.

We shall talk more later about it


A case of pot calling the kettle black

by ... (not verified) on

What we are dealing here with is the case of SAVAMA-trained protege of the Islamic Republic and someone needs to dig into their relationship with the IRI; a lawyer perhaps.

IRI rightwing bigotted religious nuts (i.e., Islamic Marxists) calling Hoover insitute rightwing is the height of hypocrisy. IRI supporters of reform, should stop being so spineless and be proud of their stance, which is preserving the Islamic Republic.

Darius Kadivar

Abarmard Jan

by Darius Kadivar on

I never claimed that you were Pro IRI nor that NIAC was particularly in favor of what goes on in Iran. If I refer to NIAC and you it is because you are one of their passionate supporters and I can understand why because I follow your writings. There is nothing wrong with that, I do the same regarding views defending my sensitivities like the ideals of the Constitutional Revolution and let me put it straight and unambigiously my pro-"constitutional monarchy" views as opposed to pro-republican. My problem is less what you believe in that are respectable than with what you seem to suggest in the way we have to deal with the IRI and I think that from that point of view your views join NIAC's suggestions also, and that is : Lets give a chance to the reformists or moderates like Khatami or any other plausible candidate a 2nd chance.

Why not ? I simply don't share that optimism nor do I believe that NIAC should support such an option when claiming to represent the interests of the Iranian American Diaspora. It is hypocritical and down straight dishonest to hide behind the "Anti War" mouvement and politically correct pacifism to avoid saying loud and clear that they stand for reform and not regime change. I have no problem with that claim if expressed clearly and in full transparency other that I don't share it because I continue to believe on the contrary that we have to consider regime change and not reform. In that I believe  that my claims are just as respectful because in my book, I am not calling for regime change through violence, military intervention or foreign invasion but civil dissobedience. At the same time I am realistic about it because I know that at this stage it is practically not achievable for the simple fact that we have no opposition that truly offers a constructive alternative nor which has a real vision as to what they propose in terms of nation building and social and political change as an alternative to the IRI. This shortcoming also applies to Reza Pahlavi, so you see I am not a demagogue or fanatic. But at least I try at best not to be ambiguous in what I believe in.

But you do have to admit that as far as NIAC is concerned there is clearly a selective and exclusive approach in what they "oppose" or "propose" in regard to what they see as a "positive" or "constructive" attitude that the US government should adopt in regard to the IRI. That is in my understanding what a lobby does. They claim they are not a lobby for the IRI but have done everything to suggest the contrary. The first being to attack on the Iranian opposition at large and asking the US Congress to veto the financial aid to the opposition groups.

When was THAT a priority of the Iranian Diaspora may I ask ( some of whome even  belong to these groups). Regardless of what Iranians inside may think of these groups ranging from Secular Republicans to monarchists or MKO, these groups exist for the simple fact that the IRI exists and that does not mean that what they are proposing is adequate or right.

But who is NIAC to require their dissolution ? They will say no we are simply asking the US to stop helping the opposition financially. Who is going to clap hands for NIAC on such a suggestion if it is not the IRI leaders in Tehran ? On the otherhand it was a particularly naive move from an organization that claims to differ from a political party. They open fire on what is left of the Iranian opposition in the name of Human Rights and Anti War claims when the IRI has been at the forefront aggressor on both issues. No One asked Ahmadinejad to deny the Holocaust in the first place and certainly not those back home who voted him in office. So what was all this show of presenting Ahmadinejad as the new mossadeg by promoting the book release of Stephan Kinzer ? "Oh look at the War Mongering neo cons did to mossadegh and they are willing to do the same with Ahmadinejad." Come On ! How Timely ...

This was not even Kinzer's fault. Which author would refuse such publicity. Good for him but how timeful for NIAC ( so called un political organization ) to re launch the debate on Mossadegh and the 1953 so called Coup only to further bash the monarchist opposition which they identify to the American neo con's ? Is it up to NIAC to also give us a history lesson ?

Then they protest on being aggressed by the same members of the opposition when they try and organize a conference in LA. WOW !

And you know and even Trita Parsi knows that I stood for him and NIAC on this website when he was being unjustly attacked by die hard monarchists in LA.

I DON'T AND NEVER WILL SUPPORT VIOLENCE nor Have I ever refused to hear what NIAC has to say, but that does not mean I have to swallow their arguments as God given words do I ?

As far as the Iranian opposition is concerned most of them not to say all are obsolete but I trust them more than I would ever trust any of the morons who are running my country today. 

As for the US congress aid to the "Iranian Opposition" it boils down to financing such media outlets as VOA Persian which at worst does some good anti IRI publicity as opposed to blind anti IRI propaganda. VOA Persian is to LA Run Opposition TV what "Soft Porn" is to "Hard Core Pornagraphy". What bad can that do when you basically  read pro IRI articles on a daily basis on nearly on all Iranian websites by so called respectable professors like Hamid Debashi, Soraya Ulrich and Co. All this in the name of wanting to defend the freedom of expression. Added to all the propaganda that the regime inside Iran has to support itself against The American or Israelian "Big Bad Wolf".

Well I think most VOA viewers like me appreciate "soft porn" to "hard core pornography". Seeing NIAC wanting to stop them or more understandably refuse to go on their shows like Baharloo's "Round Table with You" (when they have been attacked or criticized by their guests) is not helping them either.

Take my word the next step for NIAC is to support the next candidate who opposes Ahmadinejad and offers chances to beat him in the next elections but more importantly offer us the Islamic Republic with a smiling face.

What am I saying ? They have already started:


Don't get me wrong, I have no particular thing to say in support of the Iranian opposition including the monarchists but I don't like to see my patriotism be highjacked by the IRI be it the reformists or moderates included and even less the hardliners in power today.

For the rest I share much of what you said in regard to the error of putting everyone who belongs to the IRI system in the same basket as "evil" vs "good". But then in all fairness you should also  apply this attitude when it comes  to members of the Iranian "opposition".

Cheers my Republican Friend,




Ali P.

by Anonymous-today (not verified) on

Millani's collabortion with SAVAK is a matter of record. No, I don't have it on me but he cooperated with SAVAK, gave names and was released. A random search on the Web should give you some sources to look over. I don't think Millani's history in and of itself should stop serious discussion of his views. Perhaps he was scared and demoralized in jail. Can happen to the best of us. Although his behaviour after he got out of jail also wasn't very nice. He accused Dr. Behazeen and the Writers' Union of being a front for Tudeh Party. This was in the mid-Seventies, around 1976-77 when the anti-Shah opposition was fomenting. By the way, non-violent opposition to the Shah was not tolerated. Like or hate him, the Shah, following Machiavelli's advice, preferred to be feared than loved. No, you weren't hanged because you wrote a critical piece against him (if there were any outlets for such dissent, which practically was none); but you were intimidated by SAVAK, beaten perhaps, and in the case of one female writer (forgot her name) you could even be raped to keep your trap shut. Not to mentioned expelled from your job, lose your livlihood, barred from leaving the country. The Shah was not a soft man, and that's why the anyone-but-Shah attitude, so destructive to the revolution, took hold. I was but a child back then, but I recall the fear of SAVAK. It was real and permeated the entire society, like you hear of Stazi (sp?)in East Germany.


mamad agha

by Reza K. (not verified) on

With a stroke of a pen, or keyboard, he accuses Dr Milani of being a savak collabrator, but he seems to have his feelings hurt, because he felt Ali P's tone was sarcastic to him!!!



by Abarmard on

Why are you linking what I say to the NIAC? I am speaking on behave of myself. Your opinion is valuable and you may defend what you believe is right, nothing wrong with that. Hoover is well known and their agenda is clear specially after eight years of president Bush. The site that I send clearly explains their thinking and recommendations for solving, for example, the Middle Eastern policy.

These are political theories and you may or may not agree with them. There are enough documentations to suggest what Hoover stands on issues. You have the same access to the information as I do. What I said originally was based on many years ago, where I read about Mr. Milani's theories in regard to solving the regime in Iran by actions of the United States. As I mentioned before, I will take his word that he never suggest a military strike against Iran. I am happy to hear that from him.

In regard to Mr. Milani, an intellectual, one could have certain level of expectation from his political philosophy who is an influential figure and his ideas directly affect lives, in this case Iranians inside, and again it comes down to what you hold true as a better solution.

To suggest that I am pro IR policies is insane. I have mentioned many times that I wished the revolution never happened, but it did and we are where we are, now what?
That second part, now what, is perhaps where some groups disagree on and not the idea of whether IR is good or bad regime! Is it a good strategy to continue our "fight" against the current Iranian system the way we have for the past thirty years? Should we get to know what are the other options possible to better the living standards in Iran?

Lastly, I believe that we are fooling ourselves to just package the system as one evil and want it to go. If our situation was similar to 1979, maybe, but we should already know based on previous experience that without a clear path, a democratic direction would not be there. This is where I disagree with Mr. Milani. Iranians inside are still living under a traditional umbrella and if one steps further than northern Tehran would see how religion, tradition (aka khorafat!) remains very strong among young and old...

I am going to stop here since it's getting long. I hope that at least I clarified my position.

Darius Kadivar

Abarmard Jan

by Darius Kadivar on

Well  you guys at NIAC seem to have suddenly discovered the virtues of Israeli politicians and becoming Pro-Israeli after breaking our ears for months with your spooky comments on imminent War  and over looking Human Rights abuses in Iran :


Milani is  first and foremost a researcher and professor at Stanford University and I don't see why he should apologize for being a fellow researcher at the Hoover institution.

As for the exact link to the Hoover Institute Website and mission statement its here ( And I am neither a supporter or detractor of this institute) :


Maybe you prefer the clown Dabashi who in my book is nothing but an IRI apologist  : 


But well they are both entitled to having an opinion, as much as you or me for that matter.

I'm afraid that you guys at NIAC see the world through the interests of the Islamic Republic's foreign policy agenda. That in my opinion discredits NIAC as a "grassroot" organization in touch with the reality of what the Iranian Diaspora's history and background is.

We are NOT the children of the Revolution BUT that of Exiled Iranians DUE to the Revolution that kicked us out.

I'm not ready to spill insincere crocodile tears for the current IRI regime or any other so called moderate IRI Presidential candidate that NIAC hopes to prepare us to accept and support in replacement of Ahmadinejad which they have equally turned into a neo-Mossadegh figure he never was.

Sorry but You need stronger arguments to convince me (at least) than all the recurrent spooky tactics that you guys at NIAC seem to brandish to rally support for your not so obscure agenda's.

In the benefit of the doubt I wish to dedicate this to you and NIAC altogether :

Dusty Springfield - Spooky (1970)






Hoover institution is not diverse

by Abarmard on

They have been founded and continue functioning on the extreme right. They are warmongers, except recently!

They have agreed that they can't attack Iran, too costly!

Enough about this. Here is a good profile of Hoover:

Ali P.

To: Dear mamad

by Ali P. on

  The reason I had an issue with a section of your comment, was that  the part about Milani being a SAVAK  collaborator, just seemed out of sink with the rest of your piece, and even your other comments elsewhere.

  I read your follow up carefully, and I appreciate your reasoning; I don't know Dr. Milani, but I think fairness dictates, if we are calling someone a SAVAK  collaborator- a pretty serious charge- we need something more than hearsay, and the fact that " how come not everyone was released, and he was"?

  SAVAK was pretty effective in keeping an eye on, and maybe arresting individuals who were - verbally or actively- against the regime, but the system was generally linient towards those who dissented non-violently. These dissenters were rarely exposed to death or even torture .

  Case in chief, Bazargan, Sahabi, Bakhtiar and their fellow activists spent years in jail, but were never tortured . Many , many journalists, authors, poets, politicians, and  "intellectuals" had their brush with SAVAK and the great majority got off relatively easy. Again, I am talking about non-violent dissent. Dr. Milani, I presume, fell in this cathegory.

  "Arrangement made" could easily mean that a plea bargain was reached- just like it was reached in many, many cases- where the defendant agreed to stay away from certain activilies, in exchange of his freedom. Same can be said, and an even stronger case can be made, about those who survived the IRI prisons. Do we, in good conscious, and  so freely call them "collabrators"?

  I thank you for your response. I certainly did not mean any disrespect towards you, and I apologize if my tone in my previous post came across as sarcastic. It was to make a point. I enjoy reading your posts on this, and other subjects, in this site.


Ali P.


Abamard is an idiot

by Parthian on

To villify a research/think tank organization such as the Hoover because of political ideology is absolutely idiotic. This is the same nonsense we see in all his posts. Other than the Rumsfeld invitation, if I asked Abarmard to name 5 of the scholars at Hoover he would not be able to do that. He would however be surprised to find out that there are several eminent liberals who are part of Hoover, and Hoover is no more monolithic than any other organization. His charges are absolutely ridiculous.


Ali P.

by Mammad on

I never say anything that cannot be backed up with documents, at least not intentionally.

After Dr. Milani gave an interview to a Tehran publication in which he attacked everyone, Dr. Naser Zarafshan, the brave human rights attorney who went to jail for defending the families of the infamous Chain Murders, responded to him, and criticised him.

Then, Dr. Milani, instead of responding in a way that one expects from a scholar, attacked Dr. Naser Zarafshan, calling him a Stalinist. Of course, Milani, a former Stalinist himself, presumably recognizes other Stalinists!!

Zarafshan had talked about how Milani was a collaborator of SAVAK. Here, collaborator did not mean giving addresses of some people to be arrested (see below).  Now, that, by itself, does not prove anything, although between Zarafshan and Milani I take the former any moment. But, the important point is, after this exchange, Dr. Milani's contemporaries in Evin stepped forward and confirmed Zarafshan's account. This can easily be found on the internet. Go to gooya news site to easily find it.

If that is not good enough for you, consider the following. Even Dr. Milani himself has always been vague about this. He has said, "after discussions with SAVAK, arrangements were made for me to be released within a year." What arrangements? Give us the details. Why was it that others were rotting in jail, or tortured, or even killed, but he was released after a short time? Because he wrote articles against leftists and were used by SAVAK and published in Keyhan.

Even Milani himself does not deny this, but tries to present a better version of it by saying that SAVAK used his writings WITHOUT his permission.

So, before getting sarcastic, at least wait for my response. If my response did not convince you, then start your sarcasm. Is that too much to expect?

I do not know you, and have nothing against you or your opinion. Think and believe in anything you want. Reject my comment, partially or totally, or accept it partially or totally. It is up to you.



Smear Campaign!

by Killjoy (not verified) on

Abarmard writes:

"I do however admit that I did not find the reference that I was looking for in regard to support for a regime change in the form of military, and earlier emailed Mr. Milani to clarify. He answered that he had never supported an "attack" and I will take his word and apologize for my accusation in that specific regard."

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that he did find the reference he was looking for and Dr. Milani did, previously, support a military attack on Iran and now he has learned that his support for a war wasn't right.

Is there a problem with that? Would it be wrong for a person to admit to a mistake and try to rectify it?

Hell, NIAC could have claimed it was their work that helped Dr. Milani change his mind.

This is not about this particular case. The most ardent proponents of peace and human rights are being persistently ridiculed and attacked by IR's supporters on this site. It is funny that regime's supporters should question the integrity of such individuals.

This type of smear campaign is reminiscent of the early days of the revolution. For the regime in Iran and its supporters and sympathizers anyone who for any reason opposed their inhuman policies was either anti-revolutionary or a foreign agent or both.

Browsing through the pages of this site, nothing seems to have changed.

Ali P.

To: mamad ; (Could I be next?)

by Ali P. on

  You have expressed your opinion well in your comment. But didn't you forget to insert an "allegedly", in your statement of "he collaborated with the SAVAK, the Shah's dreaded secret police?"

  In absence of a source,what should be stopping others, such as you, IRANdokkht, Abarmard,Azarin,Khar, Party Girl, JJ or others from asserting:

   "Ali P. (eh beechaareh!)  collaborated with the SAVAK, the Shah's dreaded secret police?"

Kee beh keeyeh?



Ali P.


About Dr. Milani

by Mammad on

I have never hidden my dislike for Dr. Milani. He is arrogant, has attacked totally unfairly some brave men and women who are living in Iran and struggling to help the cause of democracy, and has allowed himself to express "expert" opinion about things about which he knows nothing about, such as Iran's nuclear program, and Iran's contemporary literature and literally figures. In addition, he collaborated with the SAVAK, the Shah's dreaded secret police.

Having said that, I prefer by far Dr. Milani to many Iranians, especially on this page and website who - unlike Dr. Milani - do not know practically anything about the subjects on which they comment on, and do not even bother to do at least a superficial reading of the subject. They comment mostly based on instinct and gut feelings, rather than any valid information. Just look at some of the comments here. The book has yet to be released, but we already have a lot of negative comments about it. 

Dr. Milani is a researcher, and does his homework. He is extremely biased, of course, but what political thinker is not? But, we should not also worship what Dr. Milani says or writes about, the way, for example, Dariush Kadivar does in this page.

Dr. Milani's opinion and writings are one out of many by several informed and knowledgeable Iranians. We should read what he says and writes about, think about them, and but then weigh them against what other informed Iranians, such as Professor Ervand Abrahamian, have said and written about.

We must also recognize that Dr. Milani, unlike the way he pretends to, is not an expert on everything under the Sun about Iranian affairs. Thus, he has knowledge and research about certain subjects. Outside those, he should not be taken seriously.


Arash Monzavi-Kia

What Persian?

by Arash Monzavi-Kia on

Even at the time of Cyrus and Darius, Persians were a minority in Iran. Now, after 100 years of Greek domination, 200 years of Arab lordship, 300 years of Mongol rule, and about 900 years of Turkic preponderance; speaking of Persian is just hilarious!

Or is it? Try selling a book with the title Iran in it! Yes, the only real Persia and Persian remaining is the BRAND.  

Arash M-K