OpinionIran in the World PressRecalling history's lessons

Recalling history’s lessons

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Washington Times: Spanish-American political philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.” Current events in Iran indicate we had better prepare ourselves for some sharp history lessons. As the brutal, fascist regime tightens its grip in the Middle East, the parallels with the rise of Nazi Germany are menacing. The Washington Times

By Struan Stevenson

Spanish-American political philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.” Current events in Iran indicate we had better prepare ourselves for some sharp history lessons. As the brutal, fascist regime tightens its grip in the Middle East, the parallels with the rise of Nazi Germany are menacing.

Under the tyrannical rule of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 120,000 opponents have been executed since the overthrow of the shah 27 years ago. Women — even pregnant women — are hanged from cranes in city squares or stoned to death. Offenders are regularly flogged in public. Convicts have their limbs amputated or eyes gouged out. In August 2004, a 16-year-old girl was publicly hanged from a crane in northern Iran for “acts incompatible with chastity.”

The similarities with Adolf Hitler’s Nazis don’t end there. Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office last year, public executions continue at about three daily. Like Hitler, Mr. Ahmadinejad hates minorities. Young homosexuals are routinely flogged in public before they are hanged. Millions of Kurds, Baluchis, Turkmenis, Arabs and Azeris and many other ethnic groups, face daily discrimination and humiliation.

This same man, who has called the Holocaust “a myth” and said Israel should be “wiped off the map,” has a hatred of Jews that would have gratified Heinrich Himmler. His suggestion Israel could be moved to Alaska or Europe mirrors the ideas promoted in “Mein Kampf” by Hitler, who recommended transporting all Jews to Madagascar or Borneo.

Nor should the West be fooled into thinking these are simply the outpourings of a deluded political leader playing to his home audience. His claims to seek the ultimate annihilation of the State of Israel. But his geopolitical ambitions do not stop there. Like Hitler, he harbors a deep desire to spread his particular brand of fascism much further and is rebuilding Iran’s armaments to achieve his goals.

According to intelligence reports, the Iranians have successfully shopped for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, as they concentrate on upgrading and extending the range of their Shahab-3 missile, which has a reach of 750 miles — capable of hitting Israel. The next generation of the Shahab (“shooting star” in Persian) should be able to reach Austria and Italy.

U.S. intelligence reported a group of high-ranking Iranians were observers at North Korea’s recent controversial missile launchings. This gives the lie to Iran’s so-called peaceful nuclear ambitions.

Iran also has funded the insurgency in neighboring Iraq. By sending thousands of revolutionary guards and intelligence agents into Iraq, and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to recruit mercenaries and enlist support among destitute and impoverished Iraqis, Iran has sought to create civil war and lay the foundations for an Islamofascist takeover by the mullahs.

Iran has been the puppet-master in the escalating crisis in Lebanon. Conscious that every bloodstained day of bombings and executions in Iraq simply reminds Arabs the Iranians are neither Arab nor Sunni, the mullahs decided to finance and orchestrate Hezbollah’s attack on Israel, figuring that fighting the Jews always unites Muslims and gains the Arab world’s gratitude. Their tactic also distracted international attention from their accelerating nuclear enrichment program.

These stark horrors have not deterred the appeasers, led by the British, German and French governments. They claim any attempt at firmness toward Tehran could start an Iraqi-style war. They have the deluded belief that acceding to the mullahs’ demands will secure lasting peace.

Tyranny cannot be appeased. Evil cannot be bought off with petrodollars. Democracy cannot be imposed by the noose and the lash. Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his famous valedictory speech to Congress in April 1951 said, “History teaches with unmistakable emphasis that appeasement but begets new and bloodier war.”

The failed attempts to appease Hitler and the Nazis scream to us from history but fall on deaf ears. Former British Foreign Minister Jack Straw visited Tehran more often than any other major world capital, apart from Brussels and Washington. He constantly oozed appeasement and ignored the oppression, brutality and rising threat to Western civilization. He even agreed to a plea from the mullahs to keep the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) — the main Iranian opposition movement and the only one feared by the fascist regime in Tehran — on EU’s terrorist list, though the PMOI have constantly supplied the West accurate intelligence identifying key sites of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

However, Mr. Straw was only following the example of the United States, which acceded to demands from Tehran to list the PMOI as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization’ in 1997, despite absence of any evidence it ever engaged in terrorism. Again, there is a striking parallel with the Allies’ historic failure to recognize and support the main resistance movement to the Nazis.

More recently, the mullahs told Javier Solana, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, he should personally intervene to prevent the NCRI president-elect — Maryam Rajavi — from meeting with three of main European Parliament political groups in Strasbourg. Mr. Solana telephoned several EU prime ministers and chancellors, pressing to stop the meeting, claiming the mullahs would walk away from the West’s incentive package unless the Rajavi visit was canceled.

In the end, Mrs. Rajavi herself, very responsibly and to deny the mullahs a chance to blame the peace talks derailment on the NCRI, postponed the Strasbourg meetings. But subsequent events have borne out her contention that the mullahs were not serious about peace and were simply playing for time.

In facing up to the Iranian challenge, there is no need to choose between war and appeasement. As Mrs. Rajavi told the European Parliament in late 2004, “No concession is going to dissuade the mullahs from continuing their ominous objectives…. The equation of ‘either a military invasion or appeasement’ is an exercise in political deception. A third option is within reach. The Iranian people and their organized resistance have the capacity and ability to bring about change.”

Appeasement won’t contain or change this evil regime, nor avoid another war. Putting the People’s Mujahideen of Iran on its terror lists has hamstrung the West. We must stop blacklisting this anti-fundamentalist and anti-fascist group and side with the millions in Iran who want freedom and regime change.

Daily demonstrations and protests throughout Iran prove opposition to the regime is escalating. The mullah’s hysterical attempts to prevent a 15-minute speech by Mrs. Rajavi to the European Parliament clearly showed they fear her above all others, because she promises to replace the hangman’s noose with the ballot box.

A modern, secular and democratic Iran would not only be the key to regional peace and security but a long-term ally of the West, as we try to spread democracy across the Middle East and the world. Without the backing of Tehran, Hamas and Hezbollah would wither and die. Peace would be restored.

Let us not forget history’s lessons and perhaps we need not repeat them. And let us send a strong message to the mullahs — one they will understand clearly: You will be brought to justice. Your crimes against humanity will not go unanswered.

Struan Stevenson is a Scottish Conservative member of the European Parliament and co-chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup. He took part in briefings in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

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