By Karl Reiner
The Iran-Iraq war has been forgotten. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the campaign to drive them out is old history. The 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq is quietly observed as the military effort in Afghanistan slowly winds down. At the same time, tensions grow between the West and Iran over Iran's nuclear program. To deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons, UN, U.S. and European Union sanctions have been imposed.
Israel has threatened to take military action unless Iran abandons the program suspected of developing nuclear weapons. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, states that the Islamic Republic will retaliate if its nuclear facilities are attacked. Iran will strike Israeli cities. Although negotiations between the West and Iran continue, there is a drift toward war.
In an Iran severely affected by sanctions, presidential elections are scheduled for June. An Iranian immigrant, Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, a planning and public policy professor at Rutgers University, is running for president of Iran. He has a website, is raising funds and giving speeches at universities and to the Iranian expat community.
Dr. Amirahmadi received his doctorate degree from Cornell. He has been resident in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. The author of numerous books and articles, he wants Iranian voters to vote for him, to bring real change to Iran.
Dr. Amirahmadi is running on a unique platform. Not a member of any political party, he wants to end the factional infighting in the Iranian government, improve U.S.-Iran relations and defuse the nuclear issue. His campaign has put forth pragmatic policy prescriptions for creating a better Iran.
If elected, he will reduce unemployment and foster human rights. He wants to be a force for reconciliation. He believes the savage infighting in Iran has blocked an effective dialogue with the West. Iran's politicians see the U.S. and the West through an imperfect, anti-imperialist, revolutionary lens. Washington views Iran as an anti-American, destabilizing, poorly managed state.
The sanctions have caused a loss of oil revenue, declining foreign exchange reserves, rising unemployment and an economic slowdown. As a successful immigrant, he understands and can bridge Western and Iranian cultures.
Iran's Guardian Council disqualified him in the 2005 election because of his democratic platform. The list of approved candidates for the 2013 election will be announced in May. Dr. Amirahmadi's candidacy has gotten press coverage in Iran. He has also been accused of being a CIA spy and a dupe for the regime. He should be commended because his effort has injected a bit of fresh air into an Iranian political campaign clouded by fear, warmongering and propaganda.