Δευτέρα, 27 Αυγούστου 2012

A Democracy Ahead of Its Time



By Tara Bahrampour
“Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup”
A book by Christopher de Bellaigue
In 1998 at a Q & A session at a university in Tehran, a student stood up and addressed Mohammad Khatami, the reformist cleric who had recently been elected president in a landslide. We are your army, she told him; just say the word and we will pour into the streets for you. Khatami replied that reform must happen gradually, within existing frameworks. His approach failed to satisfy the students that day, and it ultimately failed to inoculate Iran against the hard-line administration that followed his.
Little wonder that Iranians today continue to mourn the 1953 downfall of Mohammad Mossadegh, the melodramatic, pajama-clad prime minister who is widely considered the most visionary and broad-minded leader in Iran’s modern history. Little wonder that pictures of this balding, droopy-eyed old nobleman are held aloft whenever Iranians rise up to demand greater freedoms and fair elections. To them, Mossadegh is still the personification of these ideals. If not for the CIA-backed coup that removed him in 1953, many Iranians believe, he could have saved them from decades of dictatorship and demagoguery.
Perhaps. In a new biography, “Patriot of Persia,” Christopher de Bellaigue, Tehran correspondent for The Economist, sympathizes with Mossadegh in his attempt to bring democracy to Iran but does not let him off the hook for its failure. The book presents a nuanced portrait of an enigmatic man whose brilliance and fair-mindedness fatally collided with his pride and rigidity. It also provides context for the dismal state of U.S.-Iran relations today.

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