The bright light on US-Iran talks

Unlike previous negotiations with Iran, those starting April 6 come as the regime faces a host of truth-tellers.

AP
Kimia Alizadeh of Iran celebrates her taekwondo bronze in the 2016 Olympics. In 2020, she defected, citing lies by the Iranian regime.

For nearly two decades, during up-and-down negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the United States has made sure other countries were at the table. On Tuesday, when the U.S. and Iran again resume talks – this time indirectly in Vienna – Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia will be there. While these partners will not be enforcers of a new deal, they all have a vested interest in seeing compliance with nuclear restrictions. From the U.S. perspective, they also serve as witnesses to any Iranian evasions and deceptions – the kind that long hid the country’s covert nuclear activities.

The U.S. is hardly alone in trying to turn the light of truth on the false claims that prop up the Iranian regime. Mass protests in Iran, such as those in 2019 that ended only after mass killings by security forces, have exposed the unpopularity of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They also revealed the fiction of prosperity. ““People beg for a living while the supreme leader lives like a god-king,” was one popular protest chant.

Iran’s credibility also suffers in nearby countries that it tries to control. The grand ayatollah in Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, repeatedly refutes the Islamic justification used by Iran for Muslim clerics to rule the country. In recent elections, Iraq voters preferred parties that oppose Iran’s covert influence. Protests in both Lebanon and Iraq have challenged the myth of Arab Shiite solidarity with Iran’s Persian Shiites. Lebanese Shiites have bravely protested against Hezbollah, Iran’s Shiite proxy in the country, exposing the group’s hypocrisy over its claim of supporting democracy.

Iran’s leaders may now feel cornered by so many players pointing out the illusions they perpetuate. But facts are stubborn things. One possible sign that Iran might be getting the message was its admission last year that it had shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet – after denying it for three days. Protesters in Iran had demanded the truth.

If enough people “live in truth,” as the late Czech dissident Václav Havel said, it can force dictators to see the emptiness of their lies.

Many people in Iran and the region have removed the mask that Iran has imposed on them. Some of the most prominent are defectors from Iran. The best example is Kimia Alizadeh, the country’s first female Olympic medalist. She won taekwondo bronze at the 2016 Olympics. She defected last year, saying she did not want to remain complicit with the regime’s hypocrisy and lies. “Every sentence they ordered, I repeated,” she admitted.

Her choice of country to live? Germany, one of the major powers that will be present at the talks in Vienna on Tuesday, helping to make sure truth prevails.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.