I appeal to you, generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the Pásdárán: Do what I did! Defend the people, not the tyrant. I am a two-star general who was once at the top of communist Romania’s version of the Pásdárán, the Securitate, and I learned the hard way that no tyrant can keep a country’s people enchained for ever.
I have been in your shoes. In December 1988, the Romanians took to the streets to overthrow their two-bit Dracula dictator, Ceausescu, just re-enthroned at the end of a rigged election, just as the people of Iran are trying now to get rid of their Hitler-style dictator, just re-enthroned at the end of another rigged election. Like Ahmadinejad, Ceausescu also ordered his security forces to open fire against the population.
I sided with the people. Helped by the publisher of this very magazine, who had just published my book Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu’s Crimes, Lifestyle and Corruption, I used the microphones of Radio Free Europe to expose the true face of Romania’s tyrant. My fellow generals in the Securitate got the message, and ignored his order to stifle the people’s rebellion in a bath of blood. On Christmas Day 1989, Ceausescu was executed for genocide by his own people. Now the former Kingdom of Romania, transformed by the communists into an epitome of tyranny, is a prosperous member of the European Union.
Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, going back to 7,000 BC. Its literature, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and art have been major contributors to the whole Muslim civilization. Now Ahmadinejad, who dreams of being a new Hitler, wants to unleash a new Holocaust that will turn the whole civilized world against Iran, just as it was turned against Nazi Germany.
My fellow Pásdárán generals: Ahmadinejad is history. He’ll share Ceausescu’s fate. If not today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. In the geopolitical Age of Twitter — when seven in ten Iranians own a cellular — there is no longer any place to hide. If you order your subordinates to fire on the people, your crime will be well documented with thousands of pictures at a new Nuremberg Trial.
If you break with the past and join the future, the liberated energy of Iran’s people, enchained for much too long, will transform your country into an explosive democracy. Your children will be proud of your courage. Just as my daughter is now proud that her father eventually sided with freedom, not with tyranny.