We need to make Democracy a condition of any future nuclear deal with Iran. Iran insists that it is a responsible nation and can be trusted with nuclear technology. Recent unrest has shown yet again that the nation doesn’t trust its own people, and the people are losing their trust in their leadership. Iran is not a democracy, it is a theocracy, run in the name of God by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Supreme Leader has control over every aspect of society, and a private army, the Revolutionary Guard, that only answers to him.
Certainly, it’s fine if Iran wants to be a Theocracy, that’s the right of its citizens – every country has the right to choose its own government. But the citizens of Iran should have the right to periodically affirm that choice through a vote or choose to end the Theocracy.
If Iran really is committed to being a responsible, democratic world citizen, it should prove that commitment by holding a national vote, by verifying with the people of Iran that they want to continue to be ruled by the Supreme Leader. The United States should make this national vote a precondition to any agreements. It’s not unreasonable of the United States to ask Iran to prove that its citizens support the Supreme Commander’s decisions and the actions of his private army, the Revolutionary Guard.
I am not questioning the right of the people of Iran to live in a theocracy. If they want to be ruled by clerics, in the name of God, that is certainly their right. But that choice must be validated by the people of Iran – the people of Iran must periodically be given the chance to vote on whether or not they want to continue to be ruled by clerics. A dictatorship in the name of God is still a dictatorship.
Holding a vote on the Supreme Leader matters because democracy matters – we as a nation believe that people of every country deserve the right to select their leaders. This is one of our core beliefs. And it matters even more because Iran in intent on developing nuclear power. Iran claims it is for peaceful purposes. But the world will not, cannot, trust Iran with nuclear power as long as it is a dictatorship. Nothing is scarier than a dictatorship with nuclear weapons. We cannot let that happen – the world cannot let that happen.
We do trust the people of Iran. We trust that given true democracy they will make the right choices for their nation. Ali Khamenei can prove to the world that Iran is ready to take its place on the world stage. He can prove to the world that he trusts the character and wisdom of the citizens of Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, let your people vote.