Thursday, January 19, 2012

Iran – Exhibit A Why Religion and Government Should Be Kept Widely Separated

Yes Religious Conservatives – We Are Talking About You

Consider the nation of Iran.  On paper it should be one of the great successes of the world’s community.  It is centrally located for trade and business; it has a very long history as a nation and as a people, it is blessed with an abundance of oil and its people are hard working, open, friendly, intelligent and everything else one would want in a community. 

But Iran acts in a way that is so self destructive that it has achieved an economy and society in decline. And as a citizen of the world it is behaving in a manner that not just threatens the world, but its own survival as a nation.

On December 28th Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran’s navy, boasted that closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which tankers carry a fifth of all oil traded worldwide (nearly 17m barrels a day), would “be easier than drinking a glass of water”. This was swiftly followed by a warning from Washington that any attempt to close the 35-mile-wide strait would “not be tolerated”.

 And rather than ratcheting down the rhetoric

A few days later, Iran’s army chief, General Ataollah Salehi, raised the temperature another notch. After an American aircraft-carrier, the USS John C Stennis from the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, passed through the strait, General Salehi said: “Iran will not repeat its warning…the enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasise to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf…we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”

All of this of course is in response to world trade and economic sanctions that punish Iran for its continued developed of a potential nuclear weapon.  Iran does not need such a weapon, it is not being threatened by anyone, and if it simply pursued its own economic self interests and provided for an open and free society, it would be a regional power far greater than it will otherwise achieve with nuclear weapons.

The national disaster of Iran is the directly the result of allowing religion, in this case dictatorial Islamic fundamentalists to govern what would otherwise be a secular country.  By imposing their own theocratic dictatorship the Iranian leadership is not only slowly destroying Iranian society and their economy, it is menacing the world economy and stability, with potentially dire results.

although the government in Tehran knows it cannot risk an all-out confrontation with America, nor can it be easily confident of stopping just short of such a cataclysm if it continues to raise the stakes. Despite Iran’s recent bluster, caution will probably prevail. But the chances of miscalculation are already quite high—and getting higher.

One lesson for the United States in all of this.  Iran is an example of what happens when religious fanatics take over government and impose a rule of religion rather than a rule of law.  Of course the extremist political/religious leaders in the U. S. and Israel and other countries would mightily protest the idea that they were the same as the Iranian clergy, but they are.  Yes it is a different religion, but the goal is the same, to use government for enforcing sectarian rule on a secular population. 

And if anyone doubts the impact should they succeed, well there is Exhibit A again.  Look in a mirror, religious Conservatives, and you see Ayatollah’s.

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