15 June 2009

To the people of Iran in your days of strife

As an American I have always appreciated the great gifts of civilization that Persia and later Iran would bring to our world. While one side of the divide that is athwart Europe, Asia and Africa, your peoples have always exhibited a dignity and respect amongst themselves that is deep and abiding. Your suffering under tyrants, thugs and dictators of many stripes over the millennia have demonstrated your strength as a society, a people and a Nation.

I support you in your days of trouble to try and wrest justice from the grasp of injustice, and security from the heart of unreason.

The involvement of my Nation and other Nations in the affairs of your people is not a simple one: there is no easy point in time to say that things were ever neat, clean or easy between us. From Darius and Xerxes onwards has been interaction good and bad that exists between the hearts of our cultures, and yet, throughout all that, the basic and common respect and decency within Persia, within Iran, has been steadfast. I do not blame your people for the ills of ancient tyrants and Emperors, nor can offer apology for the works of men like Alexander or Belisarius. Their wit and skill on the battlefield has been demonstrated between peoples for those same millennia and we marvel at the ingenuity, courage and bravery of all of them, and Persia is no exception. Ever.

From the late 19th century your peoples have had problems ordering their affairs amidst the tumult of competing groups, and this has been true of all Nations, weak and strong alike. I cannot offer apology for the removal of the Pro-Nazi Shah, nor for the return of him once your political order seemed to be on the verge of subjugation by a worse order of tyrant than any Shah had ever been. As I grew up seeing the rise of the new totalitarianism of religion in your land, once an Ally of America, I, in my youth wept and grew angry with your people, until I could grow and learn the true horror that was being inflicted upon you by those that took the reins of power to themselves.

From there the trouble of the regime are not yours, as a people, even as they claim to speak for you. I know this because they would not let the people of your ancient culture speak for themselves. Whenever I see that happen in any land, where a dictator, tyrant, or any authoritarian regime claims to speak for their people but keep their people muzzled, I see the heart of darkness and the mask of lies.

I have given worry to your situation and how awful, how despotic, your rulers are, and I do not like what I see and how those rulers see you, the people of Iran, as pawns to be used and expended in their game of power and tyranny. They fall into the templates of terror, as do others, to enforce their view of the world upon the world and are willing to hurt you, the people they should be protecting, to gain their ends.

What my Nation and others started in 1999 was left undone and cost many in your neighbor's country their lives, and showed that my Nation was not willing to back its words of supporting those willing to fight a tyrant with our own power so that they could make good his removal. Only in these past 6 years have we, now, moved to exculpate that debt to your neighbors to shift that status quo of tyranny so that our blood will mix with theirs in the everlasting sand, so as to establish that peoples in your region of our fair world can, indeed, build for themselves, speak for themselves and protect themselves. My people cannot ease yours, now, because of that and wanting your neighbors to succeed costs us dearly as any project does that tries to give space to liberty and freedom which is the self-evident right of all mankind. We were once willing to bear any cost for helping those seeking liberty and freedom, but our earthly capacity is now limited and we do not know what the true cost of not sustaining those things are.

I cannot speak better than my forefathers of the Nation in this, so I let him speak for me on this in your time of troubles:

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. WHEREFORE, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows, that whatever FORM thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out of the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every different want call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune would be death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.

Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which, would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen, that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other; and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

-Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

I do, indeed, recognize the difference between the People of Iran and those that govern your Nation.

As my Nation heads into a time of troubles, there is scant more than I can offer you than my support, so that the Free People of Iran will step forward from the darkness of their plight and know that the Tree of Liberty is ever nourished by the blood of tyrants and patriots.

May that Great Tree grow so we can suffer over the losses of the patriots and establish the shade of Liberty and create Freedom in that shade as an everlasting good to be guarded.

And as you quest for that Great Tree to take root, my own fellow citizens come to recognize the awful price that must be paid by us to sustain our Great Tree and that its continued shade must be gained at great cost.

As it is written, so it is true that peace is always to be sought but it cannot be ensured without the cost of blood upon the civil sword as that is the required nourishment of Liberty to provide the shade of Freedom for all Mankind. The cost of not doing so is servitude for yourselves and your children until the price of Liberty outweighs any earthly cost.

My hand of friendship is open to the Free People of Iran. Just as it is to your neighbors in Iraq. And to all free peoples willing to pay that heavy cost, as we must sorrow together to secure that cost and know that such payments are well worth any monetary loss but can never, ever be covered by them. It is not an easy place to stand, under the shade of the Great Tree of Liberty. But one can stand free in no other place.

My deepest sorrows to the Free People of Iran.

May they win their Freedom to secure Liberty.

You are not alone.

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