The fundamentalists’ landslide victory in Iran’s recent “free” elections disheartened Western observers. The CIA declared that the lopsided outcome points to a new era of repression by the country’s clerical regime. In blocking fair elections, clerical hard-liners drove dissent online, lighting up thousands of alternate channels of communication.
In Iran, the Internet is becoming the most successful way to work around oppression. It gives ordinary people access to real news and information. They can express their opinions freely and communicate with Iranians around the world.
In early February, the Bush administration announced plans for an Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance to oversee three agencies involved in the reconstruction of post-war Iraq: humanitarian relief, reconstruction and civil administration. Directed from the Pentagon, the head of the new office was to be Jay Garner, a retired general. Although the Pentagon would oversee reconstruction efforts, international groups and non-government organizations would not deal directly with the Defense Department. Instead, they would work with US Agency for International Development (USAID).
I would like to discuss a number of reservations that I have with policies that you seem to be promoting. First, it troubles me that you interpreted the events of September 11, 2001 as attacks on our “freedom.” This isn’t the obvious conclusion. The attacks were against the most prominent symbols of our corporate economic and military systems, and terrorist leaders said that they were opposed to our military aid to Israel. In attributing the attacks to our freedom, you have made it much more difficult for the US public to understand why so many people throughout the world hate us. Without a realistic understanding of the situation, it will be impossible to effectively stem the growth of anti-US feeling.