U.S. should support Iran’s steps to freedom

The United States is pursuing a foolish policy toward Iran. Iran recently elected President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate who is attempting to decrease the power of fundamentalist leaders, but the United States has failed to endorse this positive action. Instead, Congress is still set on further destabilizing the Iranian government. The United States needs to reevaluate its goals and how to pursue those goals.
The extremely conservative majority that rules most Iranian governmental systems strongly dislikes Khatami because of his generally liberal (for the area) views. Khatami has made a concerted effort to increase the rule of law in Iran, and to decrease the religious officials’ ability to make their whims become law. However, his attempts have met with limited success.
For example, Abdollah Nouri, former minister of the interior, was removed from office by conservative leaders after he decried the Iranian judicial system as unfair. Khatami responded by giving Nouri a new job as the deputy president for development and social affairs. His actions prove he is unwilling to let the conservatives control the country.
Despite Khatami’s progressive moves, the United States has not acted to support him or even to lessen sanctions. Rather, the opposite has occurred, as Congress recently voted to appropriate funds intended to destabilize the Iranian government. This type of action is ridiculously counterproductive. If our true intent is to make Iran into a friendly government, we should not be working to undermine the first president in years who has demonstrated a desire to increase freedom in Iran.
Additionally, Congress still attempts to portray Iran as a military threat to the United States. Compare Iran’s military spending to that of the United States. In 1998, the United States spent approximately $267 billion on our military. In the same year, Iran spent approximately 1 percent of the money that we did on the military — less than $3 billion. Attempts to portray Iran as a military threat are truly ridiculous.
Our chief concern should be the human rights of Iran’s citizens, not an imagined military threat. Iran’s judicial system is a case in point. In an Iranian trial the judge also acts as the prosecutor, almost ensuring that anyone indicted will be found guilty. But such violations do not seem to concern Congress.
Iran certainly has a long way to go in their recognition of human rights. However, the United States’ current policy toward Iran is likely to worsen the treatment of Iran’s citizens, rather than help them. Giving money to destabilize Khatami’s government is the worst thing the United States can do. We should lessen sanctions, or at the very least give expressions of public support to Khatami, who is genuinely trying to improve the freedom of Iranians.
Iran is not a perfect country, by any measure. But if the United States’ goal is to improve the situation there, then we must support those who are trying to increase freedom rather than trying to destroy them.