Because neoconservatives who advocate for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities also operate under the pretense of supporting democracy and human rights in Iran, they’re often forced to do logical jujitsu to defend the notion that an attack would not harm efforts of Iranians to affect these changes within their own societies.
Take, for example, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, who’s stated her preference for a U.S. attack, positing that a strike would actually help Iran’s opposition. She wrote that “an attack would serve as a tipping point rather than a rallying point.”
Too much has been made in the West of the Iranian reflex to rally round the flag after an Israeli (or American) preventive strike… Neither the Israelis nor anyone else need fear for the Green Movement.
Now, a report from the leading international organization monitoring human rights in Iran offers a strong rebuttal to sophistic arguments that regular Iranians won’t be harmed or — more absurdly — stand to gain from a U.S. or Israeli military strike.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) released a report today where leading civil society activists in Iran stated that they strongly disagree with contentions like those made by Gerecht and Rubin.
For the report, ICHRI interviewed “35 of the most prominent members of Iranian civil society, a diverse array of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, writers, cultural leaders, student activists, academics and members of the political opposition” — voices that, because of Iran’s isolation and fears of repression, are rarely heard outside Iran. ICHRI sums up their views:
Repeatedly, the interviewees expressed concerns that an attack would (1) lead to further militarization of the state, exacerbating the human rights crisis in Iran and undermining Iranian civil society and the pro-democracy movement; and (2) strengthen the current regime by stoking nationalism and dividing the opposition, while undercutting the Iranian public’s goodwill toward the United States.
ICHRI quoted numerous Iranians contradicting neoconservatives like Rubin and Gerecht and their close allies (Lindsey Graham, the Project for a New American Century, and John Bolton). Iranian people’s reactions to these American hawks would be “terribly negative,” said human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah. A playwright identified as Pedram Z. was more plainspoken: “Any foreign intervention would lead to unity and opposition to the United States.” Others still noted that an attack would stoke nationalism and work in the regime’s favor.
Many Iranian human rights and opposition leaders have already spoken out on these matters. Last year, human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi told ThinkProgress that an attack would be “the worst option,” saying that she and other Iranians “will resist any military action.” Dissident journalist Akbar Ganji has said the U.S. should not even talk about the military option or regime change because such rhetoric would be “detrimental” to growing indigenous movements for democracy and human rights inside Iran.