The Corner

Cut off funding for Iranian civil society?

Akbar Ganji has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post arguing that Congress should cut off any aid or assistance to Iranian civil society. It is a direct response to my Washington Post op-ed last week.

Ganji is accomplished, but there are several flaws in his logic:

  • He seeks to build credibility by noting his time in prison. But he was imprisoned before the Congress began funding Iranian civil society, and released after such funding.
  • He argues for freer media, but is unaware that more than half the money he seeks to cut funds independent media. Very little if any money funds individuals or groups. It is clear but sad that his English-speaking handlers manipulate him.
  • He seeks to speak on behalf of Iranian democracy activists, but many of those who suffered in Iranian prison staunchly disagree with him.

As an aside, it has been almost a week since my op-ed, and the National Iranian American Council has yet to explain why they simultaneously lobbied against civil society funding, while at the same time soliciting U.S.-funded grants to conduct civil society funding. Since NIAC calls on the State Department to identify who participates in its civil society programs, will NIAC do the same? Will NIAC return the money they solicited from NED (including in 2007, I am told)?

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.


The Latest