UPDATED JUNE 16TH - *SCROLL* DOWN
Tim of The Heritage Foundation put together a bloggers' conference call with Natan Sharansky (clearly a man with an eye on the future.) He addressed the Western strategy of engaging the Iranian regime as well as the systematic destruction of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim artifacts on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the Muslim authority that has jurisdiction over the area.
I dug chattin' on the fellow bloggers pre-showtime. Having never met or spoken, there was little awkwardness. Then again .... maybe there was I wasn't on to it. But we all agreed this was an excellent opportunity to reach out (no layers) and get direct answers from a great lover of freedom.
These were Sharansky’s views not necessarily be construed as Heritage policy. Sharansky expressed genuine awe at the power of the net and bloggers and how significantly it could effect change. How different it all might have been when he was a dissident and meeting a journalist was taking one's life in one's hands. It was a great and terrible risk to try to get the truth out.
Live blogging ... will upload the audio when I can. Sharansky is speaking of Iran;
Bush did a great thing bringing democracy to the Middle East . But the US has begun to backpedal. You speak of giving nukes to Iran. This is the policy of Clinton/Carter. And it failed horribly. It didn't work for North Korea it won't work now.We must actively support Iranian opposition
Regime Change Iran asks how to effect change;
Bush is so lonely. Lonely in the international community but so few allies in Washington.
I asked Sharansky if he was familiar with the Muslim conception of "hurriyya", "freedom", which is "freedom as perfect slavery"...Bostom wrote of hurriya here.
Key excerpts from Bostom: “Hurriyya”, Arabic for freedom, and the uniquely Western concept of freedom are completely at odds. Hurriyya “freedom”, as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) the lionized “Greatest Sufi Master”, expressed it, “being perfect slavery”. And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis perhaps metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the “master” and his human “slaves.”
Sharansky really believes that people want to live free. He cited Muslims that he knows that pray five times a day and live in free societies and are happy. He said we should not "create demons, we have enough demons." He has complete faith in the individual's desire to be free. He didn't answer the question. Citing Japan and other oppressed societies that have completely adjusted their thinking is all well and good but it doesn't take the "religion" factor into account IMAO.
I have to run, will transcribe and give my take later. Anyone want to convert to MP3 - yeah yeah I know I gotta figure that out. Must run now.
UPDATE: Kenneth rocks. Thanks for the MP3 Download NatanSharansky.mp3
JUNE 16: FAILING IRAN
It's extraordinary that a man of Sharansky's stature would reach out to the blogs and an indication of the direction the world is going. When Sharansky began speaking of this"press conference of this type" - he said
I understand the great power which all of you have in your hands. In fact I think how different our world [would have been] when he was a dissident in the communist world, if there was an internet.
For you from your own own home can have free access to people behind the iron curtain ...... it's a great great power.
First on to Iran. It seems Sharansky is very disappointed in the the US approach to handling Iran. Sharansky acknowledges the numerous skeptics (again) in a democratic agenda in Iran, but before we start saying a democratic agenda won't work - "let's try it." He felt quite strongly that before we start diminishing it, that we ought to try it.
The problem is we're not really consistent in trying. President Bush did a fantastic job in bringing back a Democratic agenda to international relations. But here the problem is if you don't stay the course, if you are not insistent, if you are not consistent in this policy it won't work.
Dissidents must be your partners. The Free World must be behind the dissidents. The challenge for the free world is to encourage the people to cross the line from double thinkers to dissidents.
Double thinkers is a Sharansky-ism. If you haven't read The Case for Democracy (and you should should, a true dissident's bible, a must read), he describes the mechanics of fear societies, focusing on three basic groups: true believers, doublethinkers, and dissidents. Sharansky uses these terms to help readers who have lived only in free societies understand the experience of living in a fear society. He too, like most Soviets was a doublethinker, constantly performing a balancing act between his true feelings and his public feelings.
In his book Sharansky warns,"Only those adept at reading these mechanics can tell the true believers from the doublethinkers . . . . The failure to see the difference between the two, however, is not just a question of political acumen, it is a question of moral clarity."
Take this country Iran. A unique challenge to the free world.The US, the world is being blackmailed by nuclear weapons development by the Iranian regime. Unique country were most are double thinkers. There are trade unions and student unions that are very powerful in Iran. I can think of one other country like this.
Poland- The union Solidarity -- huge trade unions of solidarity. The unions became so powerful, the darlings of the free world. They were the biggest heroes of their time. All the free world was watching what was happening to them.
At the same time look at the opposition in Iran, they get no support. On the one hand America has made very strong statements in support of the opposition, on the other hand, the same American administration has made it very clear that they intend to come to an agreement with the Ayatollahs.
The moment the US began negotiating with the Ayatallohs the power, the influence of the opposition went down.
The Bush administration has taken revolutionary steps to bring democracy to the world. OTOH, that same administration now has adopted a similar policy to Iran as Clinton had towards North Korea. Agreeing - If only you promise 1,2,3 - we will build you for you nuclear reactor. And you see what happened to North Korea. NORTH KOREA HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
I asked John Bolton about this very thing later in the afternoon. How could we stop Iran from becoming another North Korea (who BTW is preparing a missile test - not good. Think delivery system.)
Bolton said, "It is impart with the Korean experience in mind that we have said on the precondition of suspension of the enrichment of the reprocessing enrichment activities by Iran, it has to be verifiable. By that we mean, not just through IAEA inspectors, but through what also what we euphemistically call national and technical means. I mean our own ability for verificationand that is going to be important. It will be intrusive verification. It has to be to give us confidence. That is something the Iranians will have to take into account. And if we can get those preconditions verified. Then the prospect of Iran cheating as the North Koreans did will be reduced."
Frankly, this is not believable (at least not to me.)
It is very important that the opposition in Iran feel it has the support of the free world. People who have internet on their hands can do alot. They can express to millions their solidarity. They can build the links with this opposition. They must support the opposition. The can reach out. If of course the worse will happen and Iran gets nuclear weapons then the free world will have to fight. But it's much better, instead of fighting, to help the people around the world to change - to bring this change.
Sharansky was agitated by this. I don't think he beleives we have given the "freedom project" enough time. Iran was clearly the impetus behind the call.
He continued on to Jerusalem. the fatwa that has been issued to destroy religious sites. First directing us to his site, One Jerusalem. Go over there and sign the petition.
For a number of years already, there is the selected destruction of Christian/Jewish artifacts which is of course the center for Jewish/Christian religion. On the temple mount, King Solomon stables up to the crusaders on...........when the taliban destroyed the Buddhas in Afghanistan all the world was correctly enraged. Here we see the systematic, the biggest maybe in the history of geology/archeology, destruction of the most important artifacts for Christianity and Judaism. And the world knows nothing of this.
Nobody is permitted to go and see and watch whats happening. Excavators are working there. They are taking thousands and thousands of pounds and thousands of artifacts and simply thrown out. It is perhaps one the largest archeological catastrophes in history.
The world is sick .......... read that again. And send that petition to your friends.
It is not accidental that Arafat said to Clinton at Camp David that the history of the Temple Mount is something made up by the Jews.
He sees terrible consequences of the action and in-actions on Iran and on the desecration of these most sacred religious sites. It's a call to arms (for bloggers)