- There are two sorts of prominent Iranian dissidents who opposed American aid.
- The first kind, those who seek reform but not systematic change and are often labeled “reformists” by the Western media, is the Iranian equivalent of Communists under Gorbachev who sought to reform the implementation of Communism but did not object to its ideology. The other group of dissidents opposes U.S. assistance based on a misreading of U.S. policy goals.
Among those in the first group is Hossein Derakhshan, a prominent blogger who argued in the New York Times that Bush’s advocacy for democracy “effectively took one of the world’s most closely watched nuclear programs out of the hands of a reformer and placed it into the hands of a hard-line reactionary.” With the stroke of a pen, he sought to foist blame for the Iranian electorate’s reaction to eight years of Khatami’s broken promises onto Washington. While the New York Times amplified his view, it was not long before Derakhshan showed his true colors and discredited himself as an authentic reformer. In a September 2006 posting, Derakhshan endorsed coerced confessions, prompting among both reformist peers and dissidents “a mixture of bewilderment and outrage.”
The most prominent figure in the second camp is former Revolutionary Guard member-turned-investigative journalist Akbar Ganji.
- Ganji confirmed his antipathy for U.S. aid by boycotting a meeting with President Bush, preferring instead to meet with radical intellectual Noam Chomsky. Here, too, his decision is less reflective of the attitude of dissidents in Iran and more reflective of the views of his handler. Organizing his tour was Goudarz Eghtedari, an Oregon-based peace activist who hosts a “progressive” radio show in Portland that has featured Chomsky, a number of outspoken opponents of the Bush administration, and supporters of engagement with the Islamic Republic. Some academics Ganji visited spoke privately about his handler’s overt politicization.
Ganji’s experience also undercuts the notion that U.S. aid is responsible for Tehran’s crackdown on dissent. While the Iranian government has used U.S. support for the democracy movement in Iran as an excuse to detain dissidents--most notably former National Endowment for Democracy fellow Ramin Jahanbegloo--the Islamic Republic has a long history of targeting dissidents. It was Ganji’s exposure of the internal mechanism of this repression that led to his imprisonment.
And let's not forget that Iranian regime detains, tortures and kills dissidents without any excuses and this BS notion of US aid being responsible for what regime does is totally absurd and laughable.