Vol. 43, No. 3

In This Edition

It’s been said that politics is like a pendulum because it swings between two extremes. Over the past eight months or so in Washington, we have certainly seen that to be the case.

Congress Must Take the Giant Leap for Future Generations

As America marks the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, the Virginia Congressman states that the country’s next great challenge is to eliminate the nation’s debt.

Keeping TARP Transparent

With over $700 billion authorized to shore up the country’s financial markets, the Senator from Florida declares that taxpayers have a right to know how it is being spent.

The New Revolutionary

The continuing protests in Iran may have been fueld by the controversy over the dispute presidential election. But they are being led bu brave Iranian women who no longer want to be oppressed.

Ileana’s Cause

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee discusses her longtime fight against tyranny in Latin America and why the U.S. must stand with those who are seeking justice and liberty.

Why Democracy Matters

In a speech at the Reagan Library, the former Secretary of State argues that standing for freedom is in America’s best interests, and is the moral thing to do.

Securing Our Future

The European Union’s Ambassador to the U.S. discusses the transatlantic bond and the need to keep this relationship strong.

To Russia with Hope

Instead of resetting our relationship with Russia, President Obama may have set himself a trap.

Hunger is on the March

The head of the World Food Program discusses efforts to confront the global food crisis.

H20=Health, Hope and Opportunity

Bad water kills 1.8 million children each year. One non-profit in Haiti is showing how the problem can be addressed.

Flight of the Centrists

To reach centrists, [Republicans] need to return to being the party of ideas. We cannot afford to simply discredit the Democrats’ programs; we have to propose solutions and show why ours are the right ones for America.

Minivan Moms and the GOP

The Republican Party’s slippage with married women with children is concurrent with the party’s slide in the suburbs.


The Ripon Society convenes its Second Bully Pulpit of the Year on Health Care

Ripon Profile of Jan Brewer

“Although immigration remains an important topic in our national debate, public discussion on the true cost of illegal immigration enforcement needs more emphasis.”

The New Revolutionary

Women lead the protests in the aftermath of the controversial presidential election earlier this summer in Iran. In a country where 62 percent of all university attendees are women and an overwhelming majority of the population is young, young women have poured into the streets to protest the fraudulent election.

The image of Neda, a 27-year old student who was brutally murdered on June 20 in Tehran while protesting the results of the national election, has brought the role of women in this post-election crisis to light. Indeed, at the forefront of these non-violent demonstrations, which are being violently suppressed by the government-backed militias known as the Basij, are brave Iranian women.

The Supreme Leader and all of the institutions directly operating under his supervision — namely the Judiciary, the Guardian Council overseeing the parliament, military forces and state TV — have forcefully suppressed women’s rights during the past 30 years. Any attempt to organize or work within the governmental institutions for improving women’s conditions has been aborted by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Although the political apparatus in Iran has prevented the women’s movement from becoming institutionalized, it has not been able to completely eradicate women’s right activism. The proof is the existence of the One Million Signature Campaign, a vibrant, nationwide grassroots movement that is active in 16 provinces in Iran, is strongly supported by the Iranian diaspora, and is demanding changes in the discriminatory laws against Iranian women.

…at the forefront of these non-violent demonstrations, which are being violently suppressed by the government-backed militias known as the Basij, are brave Iranian women.

In the wake of the recent unrest in Iran, mothers of all those who have been unlawfully killed have formed “The Mourning Mothers of Iran” (http://www.mournfulmothers.blogfa.com/). These mothers have decided to break the silence. Despite pressures from the state not to speak up, they gather every Saturday evening between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. (the time Neda was martyred) in major parks in Tehran dressed in black to commemorate the young people who were killed in the streets, those in the prisons and those who have disappeared.

As these protests continue, one thing becomes clear – the Iranian political system is facing a deep-rooted crisis of legitimacy. The very first victims of this crisis are women who are beaten up, imprisoned, tortured and abducted. There are unconfirmed reports of a dire situation in Iranian prisons. The state TV is broadcasting confessions of the prisoners who have, under torture of course, “confessed” to having relations with the CIA, the British government and Israel to overthrow the regime.

Consistent with the past behavior of the Iranian authorities, the protesters are being framed as puppets of the West and especially the United States. The protesters, who include supporters of the rival presidential candidates Mousavi and Karoubi, as well as the populist reform-minded president Khatami, are now accused of espionage for foreign governments and threatening the national security. Prosecution of such alleged crimes under Islamic punitive laws is very harsh.

As always, the U.S. response to Iranian government is of grave importance and has serious implications. If, as some in the Obama administration argue, Iran’s atomic bomb clock is ticking, should the U.S. negotiate with Iran just as the Iranian government is violating the fundamental human rights of its citizens?

On the one hand, any public support of the demonstrators by the American government will be used by the Iranian hardliners as “evidence” for their alleged cooperation with the West. On the other hand, the hardliners seem determined to crush the protesters. In the absence of any viable civil society organization, precisely because the regime has feared them and thereby crushed them, human rights violations including torture, abduction and imprisonment seem likely to continue.

U.S. foreign policy towards Iran reflects not only America’s national interest but also American values and international norms regarding human rights.

Could there be negotiations with pre-conditions based on the release of political prisoners by the Iranian state? I asked women’s rights activists in Iran this very question.

Bahar, a young women’s rights activist expressed her disappointment that the U.S. government might even consider negotiating “with an illegitimate government, one which has no doubt come to power through fraud.” Bita, another activist, said the Iranian government is gradually becoming a military dictatorship and “they will not abide by any pre-condition proposed in the process of negotiations.”

The Iranian public is outraged by China and Russia’s full support and acknowledgement of Ahmadinejad. On July 17, protesters shouted slogans against the governments of these two countries for recognizing the illegitimate government of Ahmadinejad. This is not the case with the newly elected administration of president Obama.

U.S. foreign policy towards Iran reflects not only America’s national interest, but also American values and international norms regarding human rights. Internal dissent in Iran is rising, and this time the sheer number and variety of opposition figures will make it arduous for the state to accuse them of being agents of the West.

U.S. foreign policy should make its priorities clear. Any state that violates human rights of its citizens is not a legitimate partner in any negotiations. 

Elham Gheytanchi is an Iranian-American sociologist at Santa Monica College who works with women’s rights activists in Iran and has written extensively on the culture and politics of that nation. She can be reached at gheytanchi_elham@smc.edu