We need to learn to think.  Urgently.  Not just as individuals but also as governments and international organisations.  We need to learn to see both our immediate reality while still keeping an eye on where we want to be in the future.

The recent talks in Istanbul between Iran and members of the United Nations Security Council (P5+1) regarding Iran’s development of nuclear capabilities attracted many human rights demonstrators.  These people were advising the UN not to barter away human rights within Iran in an effort to appease the regime and get ‘promises’ regarding the development of nuclear weapons.

These ordinary people were pointing out that the best way to safeguard the rest of the world vis a vis any threat from Iran is to ensure that Iranian society is democratic and safe because then there will be no issue. The ordinary person in Iran has no interest in bombing anyone so the ordinary person in Iran (and everywhere else) needs to have a voice.

This seems like a fairly obvious point but somehow it is the type of principle that has always been missed by governments negotiating to avoid war.  The Spanish Civil War was ignored by the Allies in Europe in the 1930s – in spite of the fact that Germany and Italy both took an active part in supporting Franco.  Everybody hoped it’d go away.  Everybody ignored what was happening to the Spaniards in the belief that it would be confined to Spain.  Everybody told themselves that the ‘hole’ in the boat was far away.

This was then further enhanced by appeasing Hitler in the hope that that would be enough for him and everything would be OK.  The fact that it didn’t work out all that well is a matter of historical record and attested to by over 60 million deaths.

We need to see that if we compromise our principles – as people and as governments – it will never solve anything and will, ultimately, come back and bite us.  Therefore, it is not only nice, ethical and moral to defend the victims of human rights abuses in Iran and elsewhere – it is also the wisest course of action even in terms of our own self-interest.

Listen to their case for yourself –


  1. As I watch this video I am struck at the vast difference between the people and their supposed “representatives”–even in a democratic society. With a population of over 311 million, American democracy is a splintered beast. A third of the population voted, and a little over half of that third voted for our current president. The piece of the population who then elected House Members to block everything that president attempted to do are probably from that half that did NOT vote for Obama. So everybody got some of the say and we have washed each others voices out into a stale mate.

    What leverage do people have when governments have nuclear weapons? We have the leverage of population, of popular sentiment, but only in some countries do the people have the liberty to speak openly and publicly about the things happening inside their borders which no one else can see. A vibrant social media which can bypass the censorship and connect the citizens of the world in a dialogue which can inform enough people of the realities that a consensus of thought can, by sheer size, become more powerful than the people who hold the bombs–that I think is what may save us all.

    Thanks so much for posting this–it is such an essential piece of the solution.

  2. Oh, I think you are so wise in this admonition! And one word jumped out at me dealing with “appeasement.” I don’t know a time in history when trying to appease a dictator, or dictator-like government has ever really ended well! We were at a large book fair at UCLA this past weekend, and I was struck by how many Iranian students and citizens (obviously living in America) were set up to encourage dialogue and basically to deliver a message very similar to what you’ve shared here. I feel like I’m kind of slow to wake up myself, so I am grateful for your encourgement to think and be more vocal. Debra

    1. Thanks for the comment Debra – though I’m sorry if the post seemed like an admonition! It is an interesting thing nowadays that more and more ordinary people are able to connect and see that we are all the same really – thanks again.

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