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Former UK House Speaker John Bercow: Only Thing That Dictators Respect is Strength

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On July 12, at a meeting between Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and members of the Italian Parliament’s Committee of Foreign Affairs, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow, Speaker of the British House Commons (2009 – 2019) was invited to speak as a special guest and offered some powerful remarks.

Exposing the clerical regime, Mr. Bercow stated that Tehran’s attempt to deceive the world that there is no alternative to the status quo is an appalling admission of weakness and acknowledgment that it can’t defend its own records and practices.

Below are excerpts of the speech the former UK House Speaker John Bercow delivered:

It is an honor and a privilege to stand or at this particular moment in time to sit, if you will, shoulder to shoulder with one of the bravest, most principled, and most visionary women in the world and I refer to Madame Rajavi.

There is a pervasive myth which is fast becoming a kind of chronic hallucination in the Western world that there is something that can be described as a reformist or reforming or reform-minded faction struggling earnestly and with growing success for supremacy within the Iranian dictatorship.

That pervasive myth has become that chronic hallucination is not innocent, it is not harmless, it is extremely dangerous, extremely dangerous both because it is wrong, indeed it is almost a contradiction in terms to think of a reform-minded, rebellious faction within the context of a dictatorship.

So it is wrong, to put it really bluntly, I would say it is nonsense on stilts and it is dangerous because it absolutely falls hook, line, and sinker, as we say in the United Kingdom, into the trap that has been created for us by the Iranian government itself. It is an old stratagem of dictatorships to seek to hoodwink their enemies by implying the possibility of change, a genuine contestation of a kind that you would expect within a parliamentary and cabinet-orientated system to achieve influence.

And for so long as the regime has in the West people who are Democrats but who say, oh, we’ve got to support the reformers within the regime, we mustn’t upset the apple cart, we mustn’t be too outspoken, we mustn’t threaten to rip asunder the regime, we’ve got to support the reformers, that suits the torturers and tyrants of Tehran because it reduces almost to negligible proportions the pressure upon the regime.

For so long as that chronic hallucination persists, it results in effective political paralysis in terms of the goal of all of us in this hall, which is to deliver a free Iran.

Because if people think that there is a chance of change from within, even though I have witnessed no evidence whatever, not a scintilla, not a morsel, not the slightest hint of a possibility of meaningful reform in the 40 years since I became politically conscious of the situation in Iran, so long as that notion persists it immediately segways into the argument for appeasement.

Because if you think there’s a chance of change, a little push here, a little shove there, another speech somewhere else, and an attempt through some sort of diplomatic engagement or protocol to bring about change, that is the very essence, the meaning, the temper, the mood, the mindset of appeasement. And appeasement fails everywhere.

When Sir Winston Churchill was fighting with words and his pen to bring about a change of attitude within the British government in the 1930s, a British government predominantly comprised of his own party, Churchill said of Stanley Baldwin, everybody remembers Neville Chamberlain in his ridiculous piece of paper, not so many represent Baldwin for the bad guy that he was, but Baldwin was a bad man on appeasement.

And Baldwin as Prime Minister practiced appeasement, and it was Churchill who said to him, bluntly there sits my right honorable friend, the Prime Minister, on the Treasury bench, the government front bench, up against Adolf Hitler. And what is his attitude? I say to the House, said Churchill, he is resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. In other words, absolutely useless. And as Churchill eventually said, rather amusingly, perhaps a bit brutally and unkindly, but rather amusingly, I have nothing personal against Stanley Baldwin, it is just that upon the whole, I think it would have been better for the world if he had never been born. You and I might think the same about the tyrants and torturers of Tehran.

The truth of the matter is appeasement fails. The only thing that dictators respect is strength. So, we must not allow them to foster an atmosphere of appeasement which is accompanied by the narrative that there is no alternative but a set of arrangements that will lead to chaos. And that too, we know, is wrong.

And you do not have to look into the crystal ball when you can read the book of the last 40-plus years. The National Council of Resistance of Iran is the living refutation of the thesis that there is no alternative. There is an alternative, it is a democratic alternative, it is a well-organized alternative, it is a conceptually coherent alternative, and it is an alternative grounded in principle and committed to an explicit program. If you will, Madame Rajavi’s intended contract with the people of Iran.

So, let’s not have any more of this substandard, down-market, low-grade drivel about there being no alternative. What an appalling admission of weakness, of error, of failure, of deceit on the part of the regime that it says there’s no alternative. They can’t defend their own record, they can’t defend their economic record, they can’t defend their human rights record, they can’t defend their record as terrorists, as torturers, as kidnappers, as hostage-takers, as would-be nuclear armors, as people who wish to oppress their own people and, if possible, others as well, so they’re left saying there is no alternative.

There is an alternative, and Madame Rajavi has articulated that alternative year after year after year in the form of the Ten-Point Plan, which is about human rights, equality between men and women, differentiation and separation between religion and politics, a passion for protecting the environment, and a recognition that democracy means giving people the chance to choose who governs them and, yes, the chance every so often to change that choice.

I just want to round off by saying this. You will notice in the dishonest lexicon, the dishonest use of the dictionary by the Iranian regime, how they say that there is no united opposition, no united opposition. They’ve stopped saying there’s no meaningful alternative. They say there’s no united opposition alternative.

Well, the answer to that is that there is a united alternative with growing and mass support amongst the people of Iran who believe in democracy, who believe in pluralism, who believe in parliamentarian, who believe in choice, who believe in equality, who believe in justice, who believe in the rule of law.

If what the butchers, the tyrants, and the demagogues from Iran’s government are saying is that there isn’t unanimity, well, of course, there is not unanimity. There is unanimity, that is to say, one view only, to be found only in heaven or in hell. Of course, there is no unanimity and Mrs. Rajavi and her mass movement cannot be expected to unite with the enemies of democracy, with people who don’t favor pluralism, people who don’t want democratic change, who don’t believe in equality, who don’t think there should be a right to regular and independently monitored elections, but amongst the mass of people for whom the flame of freedom will never be extinguished and for whom that flame burns brightly, there is mass support for change.

I’ve listened to Mrs. Rajavi many times from her and her colleagues tell me that they aren’t looking for outsiders to change Iran. The event in Paris was a magnificent testament to the support across Europe and North America that exists, 50 people spoke 11 days ago in an all-day conference in tribute to Mrs. Rajavi and the National Council. And what those people were saying, including me, is what we shouldn’t do is get in the way, we shouldn’t be an obstacle, we shouldn’t be propping up a dictatorship, but the vehicle of change that Mrs. Rajavi advocates and which is dear to her heart is a domestic vehicle of change, homegrown, from Iranian soil, the people of Iran determining their own future.

And we do not have the right to look the other way, to fly home, and to forget about Iran’s plight. It is time that the forces of change, of democracy, of the rule of law, of justice in Iran, represented by the National Council and embodied very personally in the leadership of Mrs. Rajavi, had their opportunity. They should enjoy the freedom, peace, justice, the rule of law that we have so long enjoyed, and they have too long been denied.

Let it begin here and spread out across the nations until there is a deafening cry for change and the tyrants of Tehran are relegated to the dustbin of history where they belong. Thank you.