Sunday, June 17, 2007

Legacy of the Dhimmi

Why is the general population in Iran of a far more moderate mind than those in the rest of the region? The Captain's Quarters notes:
Iran Nearing The Tipping Point?

...The Iranian people as a whole are a lot more cosmopolitan than the provincial clerics that act as dictators over them. Until recently, the creation of an Islamist state has kept Muslims from reacting to the oppression, especially as the mullahs acted to give limited expression of popular dissent after the death of the revered Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as a safety valve against an explosion of resentment.
There is certainly evidence that Iran's people are restive now because they remember life under Shah Pahlavi. Could it be that the Shah, who was deposed on Dhimmi Carter's watch, should be credited for the present undercurrent of dissent in Iran?
...His [the Shah's] White Revolution, a series of economic and social reforms intended to transform Iran into a global power, succeeded in modernizing the nation, nationalizing many natural resources and extending suffrage to women, among other things.

...[By 1979 the] exiled monarch had become unpopular in much of the world, especially in the liberal West, ironically his original backers and those who had most to lose from his downfall.
To be sure, the Shah was no democrat, but the 1979 revolution was not about achieving democracy. It was about restoring 14th century Islamic values. Here are the major points of the Shah's White Revolution. Compare these to the current government. The Iranian people are.
1- Land Reforms Program and Abolishing Feudalism: The government bought the land from the feudal land lords at a fair price and sold it to the peasants at 30% below the market value, with the loan being payable over 25 years at very low interest rates. This made it possible for 1.5 million peasant families, who had once been nothing more than slaves, to own the lands that they had been cultivating all their lives. Given that average size of a peasant family was 5, land reforms program brought freedom to 9 million people, or 40% of Iran's population.

2- Nationalization of Forests and Pasturelands: Introduced many measures, not only to protect the national resources and stop the destruction of forests and pasturelands, but also to further develop and cultivate them. More than 9 million tress were planted in 26 regions, creating 70,000 acres of "green belts" around cities and on the borders of the major highways.

3- Privatization of the Government Owned Enterprises, manufacturing plants and factories by selling their shares to the public and the old feudal lords, thus creating a whole new class of factory owners who could now help to industrialize the country.

4- Profit Sharing for industrial workers in private sector enterprises, giving the factory workers and employees 20% share of the net profits of the places where they worked and securing bonuses based on higher productivity or reductions in costs.

5- Extending the Right to Vote to Women, who had no voice and were suppressed by Islamic traditions. This measure was widely criticized by the clergy.

6- Formation of the Literacy Corps, so that those who had a high school diploma and were required to serve their country as soldiers could do so in fighting illiteracy in the villages. At this point in time 2/3 of the population was illiterate.

7- Formation of the Health Corps to extend public health care throughout the villages and rural regions of Iran. In 3 years, almost 4,500 medical groups were trained; nearly 10 million cases were treated by the Corps.

8- Formation of the Reconstruction and Development Corps to teach the villagers the modern methods and techniques of farming and keeping livestock. Agricultural production between 1964 and 1970 increased by 80% in tonnage and 67% in value.

9- Formation of the Houses of Equity where 5 village elders would be elected by the villagers, for a period of 3 years, to act as arbitrators in order to help settle minor offences and disputes. By 1977 there were 10,358 Houses of Equity serving over 10 million people living in over 19,000 villages across the country.

10- Nationalization of all Water Resources, introduction of projects and policies in order to conserve and benefit from Iran's limited water resources. Many dams were constructed and five more were under construction in 1978. It was as a result of these measures that the area of land under irrigation increased from 2 million acres, in 1968, to 5.6 million in 1977.

11- Urban and Rural Modernization and Reconstruction with the help of the Reconstruction and Development Corps. Building of public baths, schools and libraries; installing water pumps and power generators for running water and electricity.

12- Didactic Reforms that improved the quality of education by diversifying the curriculum in order to adapt to the necessities of life in the modern world.

13- Workers' Right to Own Shares in the Industrial Complexes where they worked by turning Industrial units, with 5 years history and over, into public companies, where up to 99% of the shares in the state-owned enterprises and 49% of the shares of the private companies would be offered for sale to the workers of the establishment at first and then to the general public.

14- Price Stabilization and campaign against unreasonable profiteering (1975). Owners of factories and large chain stores were heavily fined, with some being imprisoned and other's licenses being revoked. Sanctions were imposed on multi-national foreign companies and tons of merchandise stored for speculative purposes were confiscated and sold to consumers at fixed prices.

15- Free and Compulsory Education and a daily free meal for all children from kindergarten to eighth grade. In 1978, 25% of Iranians were enrolled in public schools alone. In that same year there were 185,000 students of both sexes studying in Iran's universities. In addition to the above there were over 100,000 students pursuing their studies abroad, of which 50,000 were enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States.

16- Free Food for Needy Mothers and for all newborn babies up to the age of two.

17- Introduction of Social Security and National Insurance for all Iranians. National Insurance system provided for up to 100% of the wages during retirement.

18- Stable and Reasonable Cost of Renting or Buying of Residential Properties (1977). Controls were placed on land prices and various forms of land speculation.

19- Introduction of Measures to Fight against Corruption within the bureaucracy. Imperial Inspection Commission was founded, consisting of representatives from administrative bodies and people of proven integrity.
That Iran's government is populated primarily by thuggish religious fanatics today, is but another thing for which Dhimmi Carter needs to answer.

What would a moderate, modern Iran mean to us at this moment? Who "lost" Iran?

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