Responding to recent statements by American conservatives supporting the “military option” against Iran, Iranian human rights activist Dr. Shirin Ebadi stated unequivocally that the use of such an option would be disastrous. “The military option will not benefit the U.S. interest or the Iranian interest,” said Ebadi. “It is the worst option. You should not think about it.” Ebadi said, “The Iranian people — including myself — will resist any military action.”
In an interview with Think Progress, Ebadi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, said an attack on Iran “would give the government an excuse to kill all of its political opponents, as was done during the Iran-Iraq war.” For this reason, Ebadi suggested that the Iranian government probably “wouldn’t mind the U.S. throwing a missile at them.”
The last time Ebadi was in Iran was several days before the June 12, 2009 elections, when she departed for a conference in Spain. “I took nothing but a small bag and my blood pressure medicine,” she said. From her hotel in Spain, she watched the post-election protests unfold on Iran’s streets, and then the crushing of those protests by government security forces. She hasn’t been home since.
Ebadi disagreed with critics who said that President Obama should have spoken more forcefully in support of the Green movement in June 2009. “The Green movement is the Iranian peoples’ movement,” she said. While it’s important for the U.S. and other democracies to voice support for human rights, Ebadi said, real change “must come from inside Iran.”
“I believe Obama’s Middle East policy is correct,” Ebadi said. By showing a willingness to engage with Iran, Obama helped create international consensus “that it is the Iranian regime that doesn’t want to talk.”
In contrast, Ebadi criticized the Bush administration’s “axis of evil” approach in the Middle East, saying that Iran and Ahmadinejad, had become more popular in the region because of U.S. policies, particularly the invasion and occupation of Iraq. “You paid money, Iraqis died, and Iran has benefited,” said Ebadi. “Saddam was Iran’s enemy that was removed by the U.S.,” and Iran’s power and influence, both in Iran and elsewhere, has been increased as a result.
Asked what the U.S. could do to help democracy in Iran, Ebadi replied that, in addition to continuing to voice support for human rights, the U.S. should “help make peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“We have to be realistic, ” Ebadi said. “If there’s peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Iranian government would lose” an important propaganda tool. Right now, any leader who stands up for the Palestinian cause is “will be a hero” in the Middle East, Ebadi said, something Ahmadinejad has used very effectively to his advantage.