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October 28, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-28

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Page 4-Sunday, October 28, 979-The Michigan Daily
Wh hmiisrvoluio n'tdng elswhere
BY.T D Allman m
________________________________ I I',r M ^


ANKARA, Turkey-Iran's Islamic
Revolution is proving to be far less ex-
portable a commodity than its oil. The
oil, contrary to early fears, continues Jo
flow worldwide from Iran to America,
Japan and Europe. But as to religion,
the Ayatollah Khomeini has widened
the gap between Islam in his country
and Islam elsewhere, rather than in-
spiring any kind of Islamic ecumenical
or political movement in other coun-
The. primary 'reason for the
parochial, as opposed to catholic appeal
of Khomeini's Islam is the doctrinal
fragmentation within the religion itself.
IRAN IS THE world'-s only over-
whelmingly Shi'ite Moslem nation. All
its neighbors, except Iraq, are
predominantly Sunni, Islam in Iran
tends to be fiercely independent of
secular authority, even though
Khomeini as the religious leader vir-
tually runs the country. In other
Moslem countries Islam is usually
financially dependent on the secular
government, and in no position to
challenge, let alone supplant it. In Syria
and Egypt, for example, the Moslem
clergy are paid by the state. Here in
Turkey. the chief religious official is a
government civil servant who controls
both spiritual appointments and the
purse strings.
Under Khomeini, moreover, the state
religion is not Islam, nor even Shi'ism,
but Khomeini's particular brand of
Shi'ism. For Sunni Moslems, both in-
side and outside Iran, the ascendancy
of that new faith is alarming. While the
Islamic Republic guarantees the
religious and political rights of Iran's
tiny Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian
minorities, it is much less clear about
the rights of Sunni Moslems-who
nake up about ten per cent of Iran's
population and the vast majority of the
Moslem world.
The Islamic Republic has, in fact,
shown that Iran is not only a very
unusual Moslem country, but is unique.
WHilE IN MOST of the Moslem
world, Islam established itself well
before the development of a nation
state, in Iran the process was the exact
reverse. Iran was a powerful empire
with an established national identity a

thousand years before the Prophet was
born. The Iranians did not so much
convert to a foreign religion, Islam, as
they transformed it from a universal
religion into a creed as distinctly
nationalistic in many ways as the Or-
thodox Church in Russia or the
Anglican faith in England. Historians
have referred to the process as the
"Iranian conqust of Islam."
The result is that to highly orthodox
Moslems in countries like Saudi Arabia,
and to highly secularized Moslems in
countries like Turkey, Islam as it is
practiced in Iran appears much more
idiosyncratically Iranian than an
examiple of their own faith at work.
Many Saudis, for example, believe the
Koran unequivocably prohibits pictoral
representation of any kind-ranging
from paintings to television. But the
Iranians, with their long, pre-Islamic
tradition of fine arts, discarded that in-
terpretation centuries ago. Today, Iran
is festooned with millions of paintings
and photographs of
Khomeini-something a devout Saudi
finds as heretical as a conservative
Catholic would find rock and roll music
being played at an ecumenical mass.
And while Khomeini's orthodoxy offen-
ds Moslems who believe in separation
of church and state in countries like,
Turkey and Egypt, the ayatollah's em-
phasis on social and economic equality
disturbs the conservatives.
'Has the Islamic revolution -had a
domino effect anywhere?
Judging from visits to a number of
Iran's Moslem neighbors, few believe
Khomeini's revolution provides a useful
model for their countries. As one,
prominent Turkish politician recently
remarked: "Even if Mr. Khomeini
were giving away Islamic Revolution
free, he wouldn't find many takers
among us Turks."
received a flurry of press attention as
the Mideast country most likely to be
"the next Iran," extensive.travels here
confirm that politician's contention.
Turkey has severe problems, as many
of Iran's neighbors do. But even those
Turks who want revolutionary change
tend toward extreme right- and left-
wing ideologies deriving from Marxism

Khomeini supporters flee from the Shah's forces during a rally last November before the Shah's regime finally fell.

and fascism, not Islam. As for Turkey's
disaffected minorities, Khomeini's in-
ternal policies have destroyed
whatever appeal the Islamic revolution
might have had for them. One sees
signs reading "Killer Khomeini" in
Kurdish villages all over eastern
When Yasser Arafat, chairman of the
PLO, made a triumphal visit to Tehran
shortly after the Shah fell, some feared
a volatile fusion of Palestinian
guerrillas, Iranian petrodollars and
Islamic faith. But while . the
Palestinians are delighted at Iran's
repudiation of the Shah's pro-Israeli
policies, PLO officials in Beirut make it
clear they don't see Khomeini's policies
as relevant models for economic or
political development. "When you're as
big and rich as Iran," one high-ranking
Palestinian observed, "maybe you can
act out Koranic fantasies. When you are
weak and poor like us, you have to be
realistic. All we want is a secular state
of our own, like everybody else, not the
kingdom of God on earth,"

Iran's two eastern neigh-
bors-Afghanistan and Pakistan-were
deeply divided long before the Shah fell.
Pakistan's military ruler, General Zia-
ul Haq, has attempted to use Islam to
provide a sense of unity and purpose.
But Pakistan in no sense has undergone
an Islamic revolution. Though Zia has
promised elections, power remains
firmly in the hands of the military-not
the Moslem laity or clergy, as in Iran.
supported, left-wing government is in
deep trouble with the country's conser-
vative and fiercely independent
tribesmen, but not because of Iran.
Afganistan guerrillas are all Sun-
nis-and they are rebelling against
social programs, ranging from
sweeping land reform to the
elimination of feudal privilege.
Iran's Islamic revolution, in fact, has
had a significant effect in only one other
nation so far-in Iraq, the only other
country where Shi'ites form a substan-
tial part of the population. But
whatever hopes the Islamic revolution

had aroused among Iraq's Shi'ites and
discontented minorities by now have
been crushed-not only by Khomeini,
but by Iraq's own repressive gover-
nment. Last summer, Iraq's new
president executed virtually the entire
Shi'ite wing of his own Baathist party,
in the course of what resembled an in-
ternal power struggle-much more than
a an attempted religious revolution.
Iran's Islamic revolution has been
contained, then, by -Iran's distinct
national characteristics.
curtainment outside Iran is the Soviet
Union, for which a spreading Islamic
revolution could have created a threat
much more immense than any it posed
either to its other neighbors or to the
United States. Six of the Soviet Union's
15 republics have majority Moslem
populations and one of them-Azer-
bai jan-has a majority Shi'ite
But Khomeini's failure to grant
autonomy to Iran's Turkoman minority
has limited whatever appeal the

Islamic revolution might have had in
Central Asia. And in the Caucuses, the:
wine-drinking, secularized Soviet
Azerbaijanis, who enjoy mixed bathing
on their own Caspian beaches, seem,
unimpressed by Khomeini'sa
The result is that with China to the'
east, its restive satellites to the west,
both detente and the Soviet economy in
trouble, and growing problemswith'
Afghanistan, the Kremlin at least has.
little to worryabout in Iran.
Iran, inthe end, has not had an
Islamic revolution so much as it has
had an "Iranian Shi'ite revolution."
Using the Koran, Khomeini has wound
up demonstrating what others did with
the Bill of Rights and the collected
works of Karl Marx-that while the
philosophers propose, nationalism'
disposes, remaining the single .most
powerful force in the world today.
T. D. Al/man wrote this piece for
the Pacific News Service.


Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom

Vol. LXXXX, No. 46

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Getting on withS

A T FIRST they clamored for a com-
mitment for more defense spen-
ding, and most recently they- tried to
make the long-known -presence of
Soviet troops in Cuba a major inter-
national crisis. And now, after both
failing attempts, the opponents of the
strategic arms limitation treaty are
using their last resort - the so-called
"killer amendments." The Senate's
cold warriors who couldn't kill the
SALT treaty through emotionalism
and scare-tactics are now trying to
amend the treaty to death.
And so far, it isn't working.
The Senate so far has shown that it is
able to rise above petty politics and the
haranguing of a demogogic few. The
Foreign Relations Committee, which is
now considering the pact, has beaten
back two such "killer amendments"
and has allowed the treaty to so far go
unscathed. And SALT picked up a
major supporter when Senate Majority
Leader Robert Byrd came out and
gave his unqualified support for the
It seems that those who predicted
that SALT would die in the Senate, or
emerge in some unrecognizable form,
underestimated the power of-
reasonableness and rationality in the
face of extremism. The votes on the two
treaty-killing amendments were close,
but they showed that in the Foreign
Relations Committee at least, there is
still a majority that will allow the for-
ces of moderation to prevail.
Perhaps now the likes of Seator
Baker will go elsewhere than the SALT
debate to play their presidential
politics. While the right-wingers can
continue harping about America's lack
. . ,- ..- - , ,, , P , -

of nuclear arsenals and weapons
deployments in Europe. But that
ultimate goal of a world at peace with
itself, and not always on the brink of
nuclear devastation; cannot be
realized without the first cog in the
slow, arduous process of
disengagement - SALT II.
Some changes in the treaty that are
being seriously considered are serious
helpful, well-thought changes that can
only make the treaty a better one for
both parties - like an attached under-
standing that neither side could im-
pede the collection of signals from
nissiles in test flights. But the dif-
ference is, first, that such a change is
not a direct affront to Moscow, like
Senator Baker's ridiculous amen-
dment that would have required the
Soviets to dismantle their heavy
missiles. The second difference is that
the changes being considered are in
the form of "understandings," or sense
of the Senate resolutions, that make
the view of the Senate clear without
hanging any unnecessary or
unrealistic amendments onto the
treaty text.
The SALT treaty is still far from ap-
proved. But by defeating the first two
"killer amendments" and delivering a
sharp one-two rebuff to Senator Baker
and the treaty opponents, the members
of the Senate are moving to show all
the world watching that they can act
rationally in a debate of this
magnitude. Godspeed.
UTl E}ithigU1 9 adg
Sue Warner.................... .........EF )ITOR-IN-C(IIEF
Richard Berke,.Julie Rovern.........MANAGING EDITORS

While Americans view Fidel
Castro as a revoltionary dictator
making trouble in distant parts of
the world or as a Soviet stooge
doing their bidding in return for
massive bailouts, the Cuban
leader's image, throughout the
Third World is sharply different.
Though many Third World
leaders radically disagree with
Castro's policy of seeking to align
the Third World with the Soviet
Unior against the U.S., as evident
in the recent Havana Conference
of Non-Aligned Nations, virtually
all grant him great respect as a
world leader.'
Minister Michael Manley of
Jamaica has praised him as "one
of the great liberation forces of
all history." Right-leaning
President Jose Lopez Portillo of
Mexico has spoken of his Cuban
revolution as "small in size but
immense in quality." And in
Africa, the mildly conservative
leader of Zambia, Kenneth
Kaunda, stated forthrightly: "we
admire Cuba."
Castro's growing reputation as
a world leader began with Cuba's
transformation from its pre-1959
image as a fun-spot of Miami into
a serious and effectiveeactor on
the international scene. The
Third World directly credits
Castro's leadership for thissuc-
Castro's global stature also
highlights the fact that the Third
World today no longer has any
leaders of world reputation. Tito
offers some competition but his
age (87) and the fact that he leads
a European nation mitigate
against him. The other
charismatic giants of the non-
aligned nations are long since
dead-Nehru of India, Nkrumah
of Ghana. Sadat's image has
been badly weakened by his
dealings with Israel, and Yasser
Arafat is hurtby deep divisions
within his own PLO supporters
and the fact that he leads a
movement rather than an in-
dependent nation.
CASTRO'S NEW charisma as'
world leader does not mean his
views are widely accepted, or
that his own record as Cuban
leader is unblemished. There is
widespread distrust of his align-
ment with the Soviet Union which
some perceive as satellite status
arising from Cuba's lopsided
economic dependence upon the
Soviets. There is both admiration
and fear of Chan militarv ad-

Personally, he is admired for his
own revolutionary history: the
fact that he led the battle against
the corrupt Baptista, has main-
tained his simple' life style, and
refused to use his power for per-
sonal enrichment.
Depsite all the failures, Castro
can claim some stunning suc-
cesses in reshaping Cuba society.
His accomplishments in
education and health are highly
regarded in the Third World. No
nation has matched Cuba's suc-
cess in its efforts to eliminate
illiteracy. In a region where
literacy rates often fall below 50
per cent, Cuba's claim to have
achieved over 98 per cent literacy
is remarkable.
CASTRO'S CUBA has also
broken the traditional dichotomy
between rural and urban

Third World sees
world leader
By Richard Millett

sports has enhanced Cuba's
Beyond this, many in the Third
World who still resent a con-
tinuing domination by ex-colonial
powers admire Castro for his
ability to have borken U.S.
dominance over Cuba's economy
and politics. Castro succeeded in
dettroying the power of Cuba's
traditional ruling class, which
had been firmly allied with U.S.
interests ruling the island.
struggle, of course, came with
the 1961 defeat of the Bay of Pigs
invasion. Many who had sym-.
pathized with at least some of
Castro's aims still felt that he
would inevit'ably be overthrown
when his actions became in-
tolerable for the United States.
The failuredof the invasion at-
tempt shattered the myth of U.S.

reliance on sugar-have not been
successful. This has served to
highlight the high degree of
economic dependence on the
Societ Union. Yet in the Third
World such economic dependence
is not uncommon and is viewed as
the result of world market con-
ditions ,over which Third World
leaders have little control. While
acknowledged as a factor
limiting Castro's ability to
criticize the Russians in inter-
national forums, is it not per-
ceives as the major determinant
in Cuban, Third World in-
THE ASPECT of Castro'$
African involvement most ofter
stressed by that continent's
leaders and usually ignored by
the U.S. is Cuba's aid in
development efforts. Thousands
of Cubans work in Africa,
espeeially in Angola and Mozam-
bique, in agriculture, medicine,
and education. Their efforts are
aided by the similarity between
Portuguese and Spanish, by the
fact that many Cubans are at
least of partial African descent,
and by Cubans' willingness to
share the living conditions of
those with whom they work
These qualities contrast sharply
with Russian as well as North
American involvementrin
development projects.
Cubans also bring with them an
awareness of the technological
limits on Third World develop-
ment efforts, and of the impor-
tance of small-scale, local projec-
ts. Their aid can be provided
rapidly, with a minimum of
visible strings attached, and ser-
ves to promote the local regime's
political as well as economic ob-
jectives. Similar policies, without
the military component, charac-
terize Cuban efforts in the Carib-
bean and now in Nicaragua An
ability to move rapidly and effec-
tively in such" areas as health,
education and fisheries when a
new regime needs 'support has
generated appreciation!
The bottom line is that, for
much of the developing world,
blood is thicker than water;
Castro's anti-imperialist, Third
World ties are much stronger,
much more enduring than his
current political links with the
Soviet Union. North Americans
may disagree with this and with
many of the other perceptions of
Castro's place in world politics.
but it would be a serious mistake
to discount the strength of his in-
fluence as both a representative
and a leader of much of the non-

"His accomplishments in.
education and health are highly
regarded in the Third World. No
nation has matched Cuba 's suc-
cess in its effort to eliminate
illiteracy. In a region where
literacy rates often fall below 50
per cent, Cuba's claim to have
achieved over 98 per cent
literacy is remarkable. "

education. Today, many of the
most modern, best equipped
schools are in the country. Also,
great strides have been made in
expanding opportunities for
secondary and higher education
to all with the ability-and the
revolutionary loyalty-to profit
from it.

invincibility in Latin America
and made Castro even more of a
folk hero to much of the world.
The image was somewhat tar-
nished by the 1962 missile
crisis-in which Castro appeared
to have been virtually by-passed
by the two superpowers-and by
the later failure ofCuban efforts

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