Iran: March 31, 2004


theocracy as exists in Iran.

Decades of blaming the United States, and other foreigners, for Iran's inability to develop economically or politically, has left Iran's religious leaders discredited. Satellite television (illegal in Iran, but tolerated to avoid violent resistance) and the Internet (censored, but ineffectively) have made it clear to most Iranians that it is the Shia clerics who have trashed the economy (via corruption and mismanagement) and blocked democracy. 

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have also visited Shia holy places in southern Iraq in the past year, and noted that the American soldiers they encountered along the way were kind and helpful. This, plus the positive stories about America from the many Iranians who have moved (or fled, ahead of the religious police) to the United States, adds to the distrust of Iranian


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