Reza Pahlavi II vs. Dr. Ali Sina Debate
Monarchy vs. Republic
Dr. Ali Sina
December 25, 2008
Here is a debate between Mr. Reza Pahlavi II, the son of the late Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran and myself in 2001. Due to sensitivity of the issue and the political relevance of the subject to the present time, I see fit to publish the content of this debate so the public can review and gain knowledge about this debate.
Back then, a friend of mine published an open letter with some questions to Mr. Reza Pahlavi, the contender to the Peacock Throne in the bulletin board of the Jebhe Melli (JM). Please note that Jebhe Melli bulletin board does not exist anymore. So I decided to forward that letter to Mr. Pahlavi and ask for his reaction. Mr. Pahlavi wrote back but he did not respond to any of the questions. He said that he was not pleased with the tone of that letter. So I sent him the following email asking him to join us in the debate at JM bulletin board and answer some of our questions.
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Reza Pahlavi II vs. Dr. Ali Sina
Reza Pahlavi II: Blue
Dr. Ali Sina: Black
* [Publisher’s Note: For our readers’ better reading and comprehension of the material, we edited and corrected the spell, grammar, punctuation and tense errors. Even though this debate is trade of friendly e-mails and not an official debate, yet you may be interested to know that we found 45 errors from Mr. Reza Pahlavi II and only 5 errors from Dr. Ali Sina!]
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Dear Mr. Reza Pahlavi
I truly thank you for taking the time and responding to my email. However since you want to be our king I believe it is only fair if you could kindly join us in our ongoing debate at JM and answer to some of our concerns. Please go to Jebhe Melli site and click on Bahs-e Azad
I believe that our differences can be bridged when there is a dialogue. My friend’s open letter to you is not an angry letter. Whether you like his tone or not he is asking some legitimate questions that I would like to know your answers.
I assure you that I have a mind of my own and if you can demonstrate that our people will be better off with the monarchy I for one will become your strong supporter and advocate your cause. As a patriot I am dedicated to what is best for my country. If you can prove to me that monarchy is what my people need I shall rest not until that is achieved. But now I have a different opinion and instead of being proven wrong I am insulted and banned by your supporters.
Would you be kind enough to accept this cordial invitation and join us in the JM bulletin board (JM bb) for an honest and polite debate with those over whom you want to reign/rule?
Thank you again for your consideration.
(Mr. Pahlavi did not join the debate in the bulletin board but he was reading it and instead communicated with me through email. I am posting his emails here without any changes.)
Dear Mr. Sina,
My position have been clear, not only about the past, but about the future, and what I believe Iranians need the most - true democracy. I hace also clearly explained my view in my book, as well as a multitude of interviews, etc... Beyond this, it is not my job to be an advocate of the institution that I represent. That is for monarchists to do. However, I have always said that today, whether one is a monarchist or a republican, the only issue should be freedom. On this ground, one Iranian's personal ideology should not overshadow the need for genuine representative government. I believe that the form of regime should be determined via a national referendum. Whatever the majority decide will be adopted as the system. My personal opinion is that a genuine parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy can not only preserve the democratic process, but it has an added advantage in a heterogenious society like Iran as a symbol of unity, over a republican form. Had I not believed this, I would not have bothered with representing it 20 years ago. But today, I have said that my only mission and concern as a patriot is the political self-determination of Iranians.
As much as some people would continue to maliciously attack the entire record of my predecessors, many more value the service rendered by them to our nation. I have at no time condoned cases of abuse of authority, corruption or human right violations under the previous regime. In fact I have condemed them. But it is not for me to appologize on behalf of others for the sake of certain individuals seeking there self-serving purposes.
There is no point arguing either because I have never truly seen any of such individuals willing to concede at least on certain points. In their minds, they are always absolutely correct, and everyone else is a hypocrite or lying. Therefore, rather than wasting time on some people still stuck in the last Century, I believe it be more productive to focus on what Iran needs in the future, and work with those who truly want to be part of the solution.
(Encouraged by his openness I decided to formulate my own questions and forwarded to him the following message.)
Dear Mr. Pahlavi,
I truly thank you for your kind email. It is encouraging to see that you are not keeping yourself aloof and secluded from the people. It bespeaks of your open mindedness and your desire to identify yourself with the rest of Iranians and I commend you for that. If your late father had done what you are doing, perhaps we would not have had the bitter experience of 1979 and 22 years of nightmare.
Now that you have been so kind to dignify my emails with responses let me ask you few questions. If you allow me I will post our correspondence in the bulletin board of the JM for other Iranians to read. I hear that on average every day about 17,000 people log into that forum and read its content. I am sure it would be a good way for you to reach the people and win the support of the most intellectual members of our society. I agree with you that whether you are an intellectual or not you have only one vote, but one should not forget that the intellectuals actually influence the way others think. If you win over one intellectual, he can win for you a thousand or a million. In the discussion board of the JM there are many great thinkers and writers that I consider myself to be their humble student.
Now here is my question.
“I believe that the form of regime should be determined via a national referendum. Whatever the majority decide will be adopted as the system.”
That is wonderful and I admire you for your democratic spirit. However as you know people make mistakes. In 1979 the majority of the Iranians made the terrible mistake and almost unanimously chose a devil to be their leader. At that time it seemed to be the right choice. Your father had created an atmosphere of terror and his regime was so repressive that people became blind to reason. They acted with utter rage and emotions. His Majesty had banned the books; imprisoned, tortured and executed the intellectuals, the writers and the poets. People could not talk among each other freely and therefore were kept ignorant. Ignorant people do what ignorant people do and it happened what happened. There was a referendum in 1979 and overwhelmingly voted for the Islamic Republic.
22 years later we all know that that was a huge mistake. We want change but the present regime considers itself legitimate representative of the people citing the unequivocal mandate given to them by the revolution. But we are not allowed to vote again to show that we have changed our mind. We are stuck with them and it seems that the only way out is yet another bloody revolution and the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands more of our young boys and girls. It is said that 70% of Iranians are below 30 years of age. It means that these people had nothing to do with the revolution. Why they should be stuck by a mistake that their fathers did? They want to have their say, but they cannot because there is not going to be a referendum to take into account their views.
I understand that you said that you do not want to impose yourself on our nation without a referendum and you would abide by the will of people. As a democrat I assure you that I too would do the same. If the majority of Iranians chose to go back to monarchy, I will immediately come and pay my allegiance to you. My thoughts are mine but my allegiance belongs to my people and their will is my command.
Now, my question to you is as follow: What if today people decide they want to have you as their monarch but few years down the road they change their mind? What about our kids who are not born today and tomorrow may not like to have your son as their king? Is this contract that we are signing binding on our children too? Can we really do that? Is it fair to them?
Today you are a handsome young gentleman with democratic views and good promises. Incidentally when the British instated your father he was also a shy and a very nice young man. They say power corrupts and unfortunately your father was not immune to the vitiating effect of power. I don’t blame him; there are very few who can remain unaffected by the glamour of absolute authority. How can we be certain that you won’t change? What guarantees we have that you don’t follow the example of your father and after a few years don’t imprison your opponents, kill them and do not reintroduce the same reign of terror of your father?
Today you speak from the position of weakness and you can give us all the assurances that this won’t happen. The Prophet Muhammad also said lakum dinakum va lia din “To you your religion; to me mine” when he was a nobody. But when he became powerful he started killing people who did not agree in him. What concrete guarantees we have that you or your progeny do not become dictators?
The only guarantee that I see would work is regular elections. Would you accept to hold regular elections/referendums allowing others to compete with you for the job? I believe it would be fair that every four or five years we call for an election and vote to chose the best king (if you want to call it that way). Naturally if people are still pleased with you, you will be reinstated but if they are not, they don’t have to go through another bloody revolution and die by thousands to get rid of you. Don’t you think this is fair?
Dear Mr. Pahlavi. I have more questions to ask but I end my email here and await your response to this question first. This is the most important of all my questions and since you have been kind enough to respond to my emails in the past I hope you will dignify this question also with your response.
Dear Mr. Sina,
I appreciate your politeness and candor.
You raised some interesting points. If you, as one thinker, believes that today's youth ought not be held accountable for the doings of their parents, then I hope that those who would agree with you would treat other members of the same generation with the same standard. In other words, I deserve the same treatment by my father's most passionate opponents; unless of course, some of the "doctors" who sign their names in these debate forums, actually believe that I have inherited the political circumstances and policies of my predecessor genetically...
On the question of an elected monarch; it seems that once again, you have missed the point. In a constitutional monarchy, the King or Queen is just a symbolic figure. He or she does not get involved in government affairs, and has no mandate to govern or to make policies. Had the monarch been in charge, you definitely have a valid point, and in my view, you might as well vote for a republic. I know I would have. Since it would not occur in a constitutional form, the issue of voting for a monarch every 4 or 5 years does not seem to serve any real purpose. You might say, well why should we be stuck with the Pahlavi's? I leave that for a future parliament or referendum do debate. From my point of view, monarchs don't grow on trees or crawl out from under a rock. It is a profound formation for a would be symbol of the nation to be best educated, informed and aware of all things related to Iran as well as the world so as to best represent the nation and serve in such capacity. An elected monarchy it would be unprecedented in world history. Who knows maybe Iranians will once again come up with a new idea for the rest of the world! :-)
In a republican system, the president is indeed the Chief Executive, and as such would be given a mandate by the people. The reason in this case for elections is for people to have the ability to extend such mandate or revoke it, based on performance by the elected leader.
And know to a very sensitive point. Suppose we indeed end up with a republic. Couldn't we ask the same question about our next president, and whether or not we can be guaranteed that he would not be also corrupted by power and the wrong entourage, or become a Hitler.
Haven't we seen recently what happened in the Philippines or Yugoslavia? If people want to bring down unwanted leader, they can do it. But we live in a world today where it is less and less likely to see a bloody confrontation between people and government forces. You mentioned that intellectuals play a major role in keeping the democratic path straight. I happen to strongly agree with this statement. therefore, it is imperative that they take the first step in showing the way and get involved.
The truth is that most of our "intellectuals" have remained absent for the scene, mostly because of no serious commitment to the common goal, and because of some emotional nostalgia about their past agendas and ideological frame of mind.
You want guarantees, get involved yourself. Grab a piece of this table, and help the rest of us lift it. There has been enough talk and debate. It is high time that these valiant thinkers actually do something about what is going on. If they find any merit in my thoughts, they can very well adopt it as the focus of today's cause of liberty. I am not asking them to endorse me. And those who have always opposed me, my family, or what I represent should realize that I am precisely fighting for their rights to vote against me, and for something else...
I am asking them to accept the message, regardless of who the messenger is.
It is up to them to either lead, follow, or get out of the way. I have a job to do, and will not waist my time in some ideological or academic debate. Let us get to a stage where we can hold a genuine referendum. Then, and only then and by all means, we can all advertise our preferred outcome and let the nation vote. Let us preserve our future right to vote as individuals by committing to this collective struggle irrespective of our personal preferences.
Dear Mr. Pahlavi,
I think it is better for me to stop corresponding with you or you will win me over with your charm. Or perhaps it is already too late! :-)
Well, I hand you that victory. That was almost inevitable, because you are naturally an intelligent, articulate and sensible person and I am a fair person (or at least I try to be). However your next task is to convince me that monarchy is good for my country and I am afraid that would require a little bit more sweating on your part.
You justly lament the harsh treatment that you receive from your opponents for the mistakes of your father and maintain you should not be judged for what he did. I truly agree and sympathize with you for this unfair treatment. I feel your anger for being dealt with unjustly -or maybe I don’t! I always receive undue credit when I meet people who know my father. He has lived a life of decency and has helped anyone who has come to him for help, and he is loved by many people. It is a good feeling when people stand up for you and hug you because they know your father. I suppose the reverse of that must be terrible and that is why I sympathize with you.
However what I cannot understand is that you want to be our king by virtue of being the son of our last king and when people point out to his wrongs you say I am a man of my own and don’t blame me for his mistakes. I am a little bit confused. You are too young to have done anything outstanding on your own to claim kingship for your own merits. The only reason you want to be the king is because of your linage to the Pahlavis but at the same time you want to disassociate yourself from your predecessors and family when their mistakes are mentioned. So would you please explain why YOU? There are 65 million Iranians who are eligible to become kings, many of them do not have your charm but there are many who can be good rivals to you and even excel. But what they don’t have is the baggage that you unfortunately carry with your name.
In your message of unity you wrote these moving words,
“I intend to have a dialogue with each and every one of you: With you grieving & bereaved mothers and fathers, who lost your gallant children in the aimless continuation of the war, in foreign sand dunes, with you whom your dear ones were executed in the dungeons of this un-Iranian regime and are now buried in unmarked graves…. With you sisters, mothers and courageous Iranian women who have suffered from injustice and prejudice for over 21 years while your most basic rights are ignored and trampled upon…”
That is so noble and considerate of you. But I wonder if you are also going to have a dialogue with those thousands of Iranians whose sons, fathers, brothers and sisters your father jailed and executed?
So this is my second question to you: Why you think you have more rights to the peacock throne than the children of Mossadeghs, Foruhars, Bakhtiars, and other true noble sons and daughters of Iran? These people have given more to Iran and our nation in indeed indebt to them. But we don’t owe anything to the Pahlavis who enriched themselves with Iran’s wealth and killed many of our best sons.
Now as I said I am not the person to deny you your rights because of your father’s betrayal of our people. You are a wonderful person in your own rights and you should not be dealt with prejudice. But why are you asking extra favors from us? That I don’t understand.
In the defense of your right to monarchy you wrote,
“Monarchs don't grow on trees or crawl out from under a rock. It is a profound formation for a would be symbol of the nation to be best educated, informed and aware of all things related to Iran as well as the world so as to best represent the nation and serve in such capacity.”
May I ask you what formation your grandfather had prior to becoming the king? The man hardly could write his name, yet there are those who believe he was the best king Iran had in the last two hundred years. Your father on the other hand along with most of the Qajar kings were trained to be kings and they were nothing but deserters. I don’t like to have an ignorant and stupid king, but it takes more that reading World history and geography to become a king.
Again, if kingship is by formation then let us train a bunch of to-be kings and let them sit for an examination. If you want the best product you have to allow competition or you end up with a very lousy king.
“In a constitutional monarchy, the King or Queen is just a symbolic figure. He or she does not get involved in government affairs, and has no mandate to govern or to make policies.”
I am happy to hear that. That is precisely how it should be. However, your supporters give us a different impression. One of them wrote,
On our side we have:
”A well defined concept of regime with the Shah reigning and the government governing,
A political project represented by the 1906 constitution which certainly needs to be adapted to the present time (like changing or removing articles about 5 mojtaheds veto rights) but still powerful enough for representing the legal basis of the Iranian political institutions,
And an economical project which would be the continuation of the policies applied before the 1979 revolution and which brought prosperity to Iran. Of course these policies will be adapted to the present time but the general guideline remains valid and will be applied.”
In the first part of this paragraph he is echoing what you said –Monarch is just symbolic. But at the end he goes on to assure that there is an economical project in place, “which would be the continuation of the policies applied before the 1979 revolution”.
Do you agree with that? If you do how can you reconcile it with your claim that you would be only reigning and not ruling? These economical projects that the monarchists promise are not the job of the king but the government. I do not understand how on one hand you claim that you won’t intervene in the political and economical affairs of the nation and on the other hand give the impression that the same economical projects that were in force prior to 1979 will be adopted. Are you really sincere in staying out of the politics?
If you want to be a king as defined in the constitution of 1906, it is not up to you to decide what economical policies and projects the government should adopt. You cannot promise prosperity, economical stability or job to people. These are not your responsibilities. It is up to the democratically elected government to decide what policies to adopt. Your job is to visit the hospitals and wave in the parades. If you want to be a “symbolic” monarch: that is all you have to do: Smile and wave.
The reason I start liking you more and more is because you have a sharp mind and are a very good politician. I asked you for guarantees that one day you or your progeny won’t become a dictator. You, instead of answering me throw the ball in my court and made us sweat for it. You wrote, “ You want guarantees, get involved yourself. Grab a piece of this table, and help the rest of us lift it.”
But you dodged answering about the guarantees. Suppose I grab a piece of this table, which in this case I believe you mean “throne” and help you sit on it. Then what? Then you are secure in your seat what would become of me? Of course you may say that I can stay and serve you and have a handsome reward for life. I know those who are supporting you now are counting their blessings when you come to power and they would be rewarded for helping you lift this “table”. And I assure you that these people are not all wanting to become your butlers and chauffeurs. Well, becoming your confidant and part of your entourage would certainly help me a lot and will secure the future of my kids; but what about others? What about those honest, hard working Iranians who are as intelligent or more than me and are as qualified or more than me but simply are not as lucky as me to be part of your team? Iran must be for everyone. Not just for those close to the monarchy. These people who are now around you want something from you. In ghabil doostan ke mibini, magasaanand gerde shirini.
In response to my question about the guarantee you asked me a rhetoric question “Suppose we indeed end up with a republic. Couldn't we ask the same question about our next president, and whether or not we can be guaranteed that he would not be also corrupted by power and the wrong entourage, or become a Hitler.”
No indeed we have no guarantees at all. A person can promise the heaven and deliver the hell. But when we have periodic elections we know that this hell is going to end in four years. We can see light at the end of the tunnel. If the democratically elected leader turns to be a dictator and wants to annul the future elections, this is a clear breach of trust and those in the military who have supported him know that they have to respond to people. The governments of the world can immediately intervene and pressure the despot to resign. There is a thousand times more chance to get rid of a despot when there are periodical elections than where there are none. When a person is elected or nominated for life, the breach of the trust is not clear. People don’t know when to react and the world does not know when to intervene. Where there are periodic elections this is very clear.
You brought the examples of the dictatorships in Yugoslavia and the Philippines. To dispose the corrupt leaders in these two countries where elections were held was much less bloody than for example in Iran during 1979.
“We live in a world today where it is less and less likely to see a bloody confrontation between people and government forces.”
I agree. But the reason we see less and less bloody confrontations is because people are turning towards democracy and there are less and less permanent rulers. Why shouldn’t we do the same?
You also wrote,
“The truth is that most of our "intellectuals" have remained absent from the scene”
I beg to disagree. The intellectuals are absent in the field of the monarchists but they are all supporting the forces of democracy. They are not absent at all. They are promoting the cause of democracy with all their energy.
Somewhere you mentioned that some monarchies are more democratic than republicans. That is very true. You brought the example of Belgium, Holland, Spain and UK. I cannot argue with you when you say the truth.
But friend, Iran is not Belgium or Holland. These European courtiers have had a tradition of democracy that dates back several centuries. When was the last time a European king killed one of his subjects? Iran still is a patriarchal society. Forget our past glory. We are now one of the most backward nations of the world. 1400 years of being brainwashed by a barbaric Tazi cult and being ruled by the iron fist of ruthless self-serving despotic monarchs has destroyed our dignity and humanity. We are agonizing in our ignorance. We are a nation of idol-worshippers. We have a culture of baademjoon dowre ghab cheeni. We are sycophants (chaploos) par excellence. We know only one form of relationship that that is vertical. Even our vocabulary reflects our obsequious flattering idiosyncrasy. Only Iranians have words like chakeretam, mokhlesetam, koocheeketam, “bandeh” arz kardam, dast shoma raa miboosam, fadaat besham, gorbane shoma, and other self-degrading dictions in our daily language.
We don’t know how to consult and be equals. If we are not fighting and not insulting each other we either play the role of the superior or of the inferior. A toilet keeper wants to show his authority in his office. “In aaftabe raa var nadaar oon yeki raa var daar”. In the public offices a porter bosses you around and you have to humble yourself for him to let you in. You have to flatter all the other staff until they attend to your problem if and when they feel like it.
I still remember how those who were close to your dad toadied him, bending over to kiss his hand. Do you see that sycophantic behavior among the Belgians or the Dutch? If you become king people will not change, they will do to you what they did to your father and you would like it because you are a human. You become a dictator before you know it.
Iran must be changed from the foundation. We need a new environment that would allow that change. The change of the government is not enough. We have to change our mindset, the way we think and the way we relate to each other. We have to learn the alphabets of equality. This change must happen from top to bottom. At the top we need a true democratic institution that is not centered on one person but is based on the ideal of equality. At the bottom we need to change the relationships of the teachers and students, husbands and wives, parent and children. The world has changed and we have been kept back. Now we have a window of opportunity to work together and bring those changes. Now we can rebuild our nation from the ground. Now we can get rid of all our dogmatic an antiquated beliefs, our obsolete institutions and our outdated polities. And in this crucial moment of our history you are begging us to make you the king?
My dear friend Reza Jaan, you are a brilliant man with a gifted intellect. This is the time that we need unity. Drop that claim of monarchy and join us as a soldier in liberating our country from the forces of darkness. You are the one who called for unity. Do you know that by maintaining your claim you are dividing our nation and prolonging its agony in the grip of these Draculas? I beseech you to think and do the right thing for your nation, i.e. if you really care about Iran.
You say that want to be a symbol of unity. But you won’t be a symbol of unity. The wounds that your father inflicted on our people are still fresh. You will be the symbol of pain and the suffering, the symbol of repression and dictatorship. People will not accept another king nor they would accept another Pahlavi. Please be realistic and do not delay the liberation of our nation.
But if you renounce your pretence to the thorn and if you denounce the atrocities of your father, if you embrace the forces of democracy, and support the government of the people by the people, people will know you are sincere. They will extol your nobility and love you and embrace you as one of their own.
In this crucial moment of our history, we don’t need more divisions. We need unity and you are the obstacle to that unity.
With my best wishes
Dear Mr. Sina,
Our correspondence is beginning to take the shape of a book! It may be better to discuss all these matters in person. It would just take too long to write it. I'll be happy to talk to you.
But in short, let me just say, that whether I like it or not, or for that matter yourself, I have inherited an institutional role, and please mark these words: I cannot remove it from myself. Only the people of Iran should by voting against it in the future. I hope you can understand that if I did not consider this institution to still be valuable to our compatriots, I would have acted differently. As I have said before, monarchy should be important for the people, but should never be more important than the people. As a matter of fact, if I were selfish, I would have freed myself from such bondage years ago! But I consider it a duty, being in such a unique position.
Now you mentioned, why me, and not somebody else? It is indeed an interesting question. Maybe it should be a question raised as part as the referendum. Again, this ought not to be my personal concern, it should be a topic of consideration for the entire nation.
Finally, although I understand the expectation from certain non-monarchist for me to "abandon" a position, I cannot ignore the majority of Iranians who are still valuing this institution. By the way, I do not really believe that the debate is over the statistics.
The real issue is for all to understand that, regardless of my inheritance of this institution (so far unchallenged) I have maintained the position that I am not advocating monarchy, I am advocating freedom and democracy first. If I am to have an institutional role at all, it is now on the back burner. Therefore, when I look at the political scene in Iran, and when I speak to republicans and monarchists alike, I ask them to be united on the premise of being committed to democracy, while we all know that we are ideologically divided in the form of government we prescribe. But we must first be free and have a democratic environment before we could debate the issue by the very rules a democracy brings forth. In this we are united.
As I said, we could go on and on in such discussions. We may agree on some points, and continue to disagree on others. But my friend, today we are not here to reconcile all the differences. It is realistically impossible. But I do believe that we have the minimal entente required to create a wave to liberate our homeland. And this is the most important issue and our duty at this time. Forget the rest. We are not historians. We ought to be activists assisting our fellow brethrens in need of support. At the end of the day, this is what we shall all be judged by; not necessarily other historical events which you and I had nothing to do with.
Dear Mr. Pahlavi,
I truly thank you for wanting to meet me and discuss these points personally. It would be a pleasure as well as an honor. However, I am not living next door to you and I did not inherit billions of dollars to have that freedom. Unfortunately I have to work to pay my bills and no time for travels.
On the other hand I want this dialogue be educational for our people. They want to know what is your platform and what ideals you embrace. You want to be their king and they have legitimate questions to ask. These are the typical questions that the people of Iran would ask you prior to going to the ballot boxes to vote for you to become their king. You don’t have to convince me. It’s the people of Iran that you have to convince.
You keep repeating “I have inherited an institutional role, and please mark these words: I cannot remove it from myself. Only the people of Iran should, by voting against it in the future.”
My dear friend, People of Iran spoke already against monarchy 22 years ago. It was a laud and unanimous voice. It was a cry from the heart. If you did not hear that cry I don’t know what else can convince you. Your father was not dethroned by a military coup but by the popular revolution. Those millions of people marching in the streets, facing the tanks and bullets, shouting marg bar Shah were Iranians and they did cast their vote with their blood in those history making eventful days. Please face the reality. History is moving ahead and there is no going back. You can either toady people to give you the lucrative and cushy job of your father and lose respect in their sight or stand up as a man who really believes in some ideals and who really cares for the people.
You wrote, “Although I understand the expectation from certain non-monarchist for me to "abandon" a position, I cannot ignore the majority of Iranians who are still valuing this institution”
Pleas Reza jaan, don’t delude yourself. Where is that majority? If you think that those few souls mostly outside Iran, the children of your father’s entourage that lost their lucrative perquisites and now are longing to recoup their lost pension are the majority, you must have lost your touch with reality. The number of the supporters of monarchy inside Iran is insignificant; they don’t count more than 2 or 3 percent. But let us suppose that you are elected as the monarch by 51% of the voters. How can you be the symbol of unity when 49% of Iranians hate monarchy and especially the Pahlavis and do not want to sign a contract that does never expire? If that ever happen, we won’t have unity but civil war. People accept the loss of an election when they know that in four years they can have another go at it. But they won’t accept the defeat when it is irreversible and permanent.
Our people are deeply wounded. They are afflicted by sorrow and pain. They are torn apart with hate. We are a nation in despair. We Iranians have no eyes to see each other. Our hearts are full of odium. People of other countries when meet each other in foreign lands, they greet and share their experiences. But when we Iranians cross each other in a street in another country, we look the other way pretending not to see each other.
Thanks to Islam, we are the people who hate each other for our religious differences and we are now projecting that hate to those with different political views. We are a nation in desperation. We don’t need another symbol of power to be united. We need a symbol of love. We don’t need another monarch, emperor or despot to bring us together at gunpoint. We need men and women that can show us how to love. We don’t need Reza khans with military boots, to ensure the integrity of our nation. We need Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings and Nelson Mandelas, men and women of compassion to show us the path of none violence, of tolerance, of disinterested service, and of love.
We need another revolution, but not with guns and bullets. We have to revolutionize our thinking. We have to change our hearts. We have to learn to give before we ask to receive. We have to see our oneness. We are one people, a small nation, in this sea of humanity. We have to learn to live together as equals and not as slaves and masers.
Our real enemy is not this repressive regime that is sucking the blood of our people. Our real enemy is our own ignorance. The child of this ignorance is hate. And the children of this hate are pain, bloodshed and suffering. We don’t need to kill anyone to eliminate our enemy. We need words of wisdom and we need love.
Where are the Gandhis and Mandelas of our nation? Where are the wise men and women who can inspire us to rise above hate, who can open our eyes to the truth and who can lead us towards that path of national unity and reconciliation?
The clock is ticking and with every second one of our youth is falling prey to drugs, another one of our daughters becomes the victim of prostitution, another freedom fighter of our nation languishes in the dreadful prisons of the forces of darkness; and all you can do is to toad us to make you the king?
I plead you once more: do not delude yourself with dreams of kingship. Iranians want to expend the money that you want to expend in sumptuous feast, royal buckets, palaces, private jets, vacations and silly parades in hospitals, schools, libraries, roads, and their welfare. Monarchy is not a symbol of unity and even if it was it is too costly to upkeep. Let us have our rich culture and our need for each other as the symbol of our unity. Let us unite our nation by eliminating the causes of disunity. Religions and political ideologies are the enemies of our unity. Let us demolish these false prophets first and our unity is a synch.
Dr. Mr. Sina,
I did not inherit billions either. It is unbefitting for a thinker like yourself to repeat such allegation without any reference so substantiated proof or documentation. Let me not lose respect for you over this.
Perhaps you haven't quite followed the news and programs that exist on the radio in connection with people's comments from inside the country. I think you should.
As I said, I do not have the time to write long letters despite my interest. By the way, President Bush got elected by a margin of a few hundred votes, not mentioning getting 500,000 less popular votes. Does that make him the president of only half the country?
Dear Mr. Pahlavi,
I apologize for the “billions” remark. That was very short sighted on my behalf. But this is what we read in the news. We read that your father’s wealth was over three billion dollars. Of course, it may be all rumors. So let me withdraw that statement.
However regarding your other statement that even though Mr. Bush won by a margin of votes he is still the president, I agree with you completely. I already explained that in my previous message:
The other half of the Americans who did not vote for Mr. Bush knows that there is going to be another election in four years and four years will pass before they know it. This IS their guarantee and that is why no one is losing sleep over it. Another difference between the situation in US and Iran is that Americans know that no matter who wins the elections no one is going to rock the boat too much. They are not worried of Mr. Bush or anyone else becoming a dictator. This is simply is not in the cards. But in the monarchy that you are proposing there is going to be only one referendum and that is it. The nation would be hooked for the rest of her existence. Their only way out would be to overthrow you or one of your descendants with another revolution, which as you know cost a lot of lives. I don’t want to lose my children in another revolution. This is not fair to people. How can I sign a contract that would bind my children, my grand children and my great grand children et al forever?
I asked you for guarantees, but you took it lightly and did not respond. As I said this is my main concern and I assure you this is the question you have to find an answer for if you want to sell the idea of monarchy to the people of Iran. Today we ask for guarantees when we buy a TV set. How can we put ourselves in such a vulnerable position that affects our lives and the lives of our next generations without asking for guarantees?
We made a revolution and gave the power to a bunch of thugs who claimed to be men of God without asking for guarantees. Now see what happened! Should we commit the same mistake again?
Considering that both your father and grandfather breached the trust of the nation and scrapped the constitution, there is a great deal of apprehension that you might do the same thing. It is up to you to convince us that that is not going to happen before asking us to help you lift that “table”.
Dr. Mr. Sina,
In a constitutional monarchy, the head of government is an elected Prime Minister. You can vote him or her out whenever he or she fails to perform. That has nothing to do with the monarch. Hence democracy, if this is what you are looking for, is not compromised. But if you happen to be in a minority view point concerning your taste or preference about the kind of institution, well, there again majority rules.
As for guarantee, my word is my conscience and honor. But it is the responsibility of each citizen to keep their eyes open and not allow for a deviation to occur. And trust me, it does not happen overnight unless people allow it. And here again, a monarch is as vulnerable as a president. If we can, as a nation, replace a "culture of dictatorship" with one of pluralism and democracy, it would be the true salvation. You know on which side I am. So let me do my part, and you do yours.
Dear Mr. Pahlavi,
I am very grateful that you keep this debate going. I think we all can benefit from it. As you know when a manufacturer wants to launch a new product, he tests the market. You can consider this dialogue as testing the waters to see what questions Iranians would ask you when hopefully soon Iran is free and you go there to campaign for the monarchy. So to use a computer terminology, “what you see is what you get”. The kind of questions you are asked here, are the kind of questions you will be asked in Iran.
If you can answer to all our questions satisfactorily, you can be pretty sure that you are set and can face the nation. :-)
“In a constitutional monarchy, the head of government is an elected Prime Minister.”
In that case, could you kindly tell us why should be employ you as our king and pay you such a big salary and the benefits if you’re going to do nothing? What would be exactly your job?
You also wrote,
“As for guarantee, my word is my conscience and honor.”
Of course I have no doubt about your conscious and honor. But as I said people change and power is a great catalyst for change and often than not that change is not for the better. I am not insinuating that God forbid this is going to happen to you but it is sure in the back of our minds.
But as you know in this day and age it is not very prudent to enter into an agreement that is based only on the conscience and honor of one of the parties. All business agreements include a clause stating how the differences should be resolved should they arise in future; even marriage contracts are regulated by marriage laws and sometimes prenuptial agreements. Relying on the conscience and honor of one party is walking on the thin ice. Your Shadravan father did not respect the constitution and decided he knows better than all the Iranians. He brought down the legitimate government of Dr. Mossadegh and imprisoned him. He killed Afshartoos and many more honorable Iranians. He did not respect the constitution. Your grandfather did not respect the constitution either. Are you telling us that they did not have conscience and honor?
You want us to hand you the monarchy of Iran; a nation that does not know anything about democracy, a nation that is used to toadying and idol making, a nation that does not know how to stand for her rights without the use of violence, a nation that has never learned to consult as equals and psychologically has not emerged from the age of arbab ra’yati (master/slave relationship). This nation will soon put you on a pedestal and MAKE you a dictator. In such conditions your conscience and your honor, of which we have no doubt, will be under such a pressure that sooner or later they will give in as they did in the case of your father and your grandfather.
What you are asking is that 70 million Iranians put in your hands their lives and freedom while you walk on the edge of a dangerous precipice.
You also said:
“It is the responsibility of each citizen to keep their eyes open and not allow for a deviation to occur”.
How? Would you allow to be criticized? Would you let the media write freely about your “deviations” and don’t get mad even if what they say is untrue? Freedom of expression does not mean allowing others to say things that WE like; it means allowing them to say anything that THEY like. Sometimes they may say things that are misinformed; you should not get angry and you should not lose your temper. You should clarify the misunderstandings always calmly. This is much easier said than done; and as in the case of the incident over the “billions”, you like me, seem to be of little patience. But as a “democratic” monarch you would be under constant scrutiny and many people will also fabricate lies about you and your activities. Tabloids will write about your family and the paparaci will put their nose where it does not belong. You cannot stop them, your only recourse would be to sue them for defamation. As far as your civil rights are concerned you won’t have any more than the average Iranians. Are you willing to accept that? This is how monarchies in UK, Holland, Belgium and Spain work.
Now that you want us “the citizens”, to be the watchdogs of democracy and make sure that you do not deviate, you have to give your leash to us (figuratively speaking). How can the nation control you when the power is in your hand? If you are the head of the military, you would be in charge. People have no control. If you deviate, and suppress those who criticize you, we can do nothing. The nation has no teeth. All the power is in your hand. You can dissolve the parliament; nominate your own handpicked prime ministers and to hell with democracy. You have the military power and you can impose your will on us. That is what your father did. Imagine what would be the morale of a nation who has gone through two consecutive revolutions and now has to go through yet another one! Are you kidding?
The only way to enable “the citizens to keep their eyes open and not allow for a deviation to occur” is to give the control of the army to the government. This is not very unusual because as you know, in those European monarchies that you extol, the prime ministers are in charge of the army not the kings or the queens.
The question in this message is: Would you allow the control of the military to pass in the hands of the elected government?
Dear Mr. Sina,
I am overwhelmed by questions and simply do not have enough time to address all of them. I really think it would be much better to schedule some sort of meeting to discuss these issues. Or at least, you can all send a representative with a bunch of questions, and I'll address them. He or she can then pass them along to the rest. I still prefer to meet in person. Regards,
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