Americans, the events in Iran, and nuclear prospects

Pres. Obama has been coming under a lot of pressure to express a more forthright stand in favor of the pro-Musavi demonstrators in Iran. He is quite right to resist those pressures, for a number of reasons.
Meanwhile, the deep split within the Iranian regime that was dramatically revealed by Rafsanjani’s absence from Khamenei’s sermonizing yesterday raises a whole new set of sobering prospects– for Americans and for everyone else.
The first and most compelling reason why Obama’s stand of non-intervention in Iranian politics is the right one is that this is a core principle of international affairs that goes back to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. This principle, remember, underlay the international order in Europe in which liberal democracy had the space to evolve in, in the first place.
Sticking to the principle of non-intervention doesn’t at all preclude Obama or anyone else from expressing a strong preference for non-violence and the rule of law. But it really does preclude our government’s leaders from expressing sympathy for one side or the other in a conflict inside another country.
Especially after eight years of rabid and disastrous George Bush interventionism overseas, restating the principle of non-intervention– and acting in accordance with it– is more necessary than ever.
Secondly, a more “instrumentalist” consideration: It is highly likely that any open expression of sympathy by our president for the pro-Musavi side would backfire. (Update Sun a.m.: See Joe Klein on this, too.: “it seemed clear to me when I was in Iran–and even more clear, given the events of the past few days–that the protesters realize that they have to do this on their own. And that an American endorsement would taint their movement, perhaps fatally.”)
Many Americans like to think that now that we have a new president, and especially after Obama’s great speech in Cairo, Muslims everywhere must suddenly love America. That is absolutely not proven. If there is a deep change in Muslim attitudes to Washington, it will happen over time, and will be informed by Washington’s actions not just our president’s words.
In the GWB era, most of my friends in pro-democracy movements in Muslim countries were quite clear that the loud support that Bush expressed for their aspirations was a “kiss of death” for the movements they hoped to build. That may be changing in the Obama era. But it is far too early to say, yet, that what some people like to call “the Obama effect” has turned things completely around.
In Iran, the situation is further complicated by the involvement of the US government– as started by Bush but also, sadly, continued by Obama– in covert projects to foment dissent inside different parts of the country. And of course also by the tragic record of what happened in Iraq under a US occupation regime that for several years tried to justify its existence primarily in terms of a campaign for “democratization.”
Bottom line here: An open “embrace” by Obama or the US Congress of the pro-Musavi movement is much more likely to backfire than to help Musavi.
Finally, and most importantly, we as the US citizenry need to keep our eye on the main ball in this question of our relationship with Iran.
As Americans, our strongest duty in all this to do what we can to avoid our government getting rushed, by anyone, into a military attack against Iran; and indeed to ensure that our government speedily ramps down the very dangerous degree of tension against Iran that it got locked into over the past 16 years.
We urgently need Washington to sit down the Iranian government in a constructive and broad-ranging negotiation over a number of issues including: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program, the punishing sanctions we have maintained against Iran for many years, and how to coexist within a strategically rebalanced Persian Gulf region over the years ahead.
From this point of view, the present situation of unresolvedness in the leadership struggle in Tehran is quite possibly the worst outcome. For three reasons:

    1. If there is no single, uncontested authority in Tehran, no-one there can make any strategic-level decisions concerning, or within, a big negotiation with Washington.
    2. Instead of the US-Iran negotiation being conducted (or even planned) in an atmosphere of calm and realism on both sides, it will itself become inevitably tangled up with the leadership struggle in Tehran.
    3. So long as internal dissension continues inside Tehran, there will be powerful voices in Washington that argue against any negotiations with it.

There is a very significant matter of timing here, too. We know that Israeli PM Netanyahu is eager to have a speedy deadline before which he wants the attempt at negotiation to show success. (And if it’s not met, he will presumably sharply escalate his calls for a military attack.) We also know that Obama has said he wants to get the talks well underway by the end of the year.
Trita Parsi is the only other person I’ve seen who has zeroed in on this crucial issue of timing. He wrote:

    if political paralysis reigns in Iran, valuable time to address the nuclear issue through diplomacy will be lost.

He wrote that, with great prescience, a week ago. Now, a week later, it is quite evident that what is underway inside Iran is a deep split within the core of the regime that will certainly take a long time to heal, and perhaps even to resolve.
As Gary Sick noted about Khamenei’s fateful sermon yesterady — and I’ll quote this in full–

    First, and perhaps more important than the words themselves, was the fact that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani did not attend. This is extraordinary. Khamene’i and Rafsanjani were fellow revolutionaries in 1978-79. They have been associates – sometimes close colleagues – for more than 50 years. Many believe that Rafsanjani was instrumental in getting Khamene’i his position as Leader. Rafsanjani today heads the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for monitoring the performance of the Leader, among other things. This was possibly the single most fateful speech by Khamene’i in his 20 years as Leader of the Islamic Republic. How could Rafsanjani not attend? Did he simply boycott the event? Was he under house arrest? It probably didn’t help that several of Rafsanjani’s children were arrested in the previous 24 hours. We have never had such a graphic demonstration of political differences within Iran’s ruling elite.

This split within the regime is now so deep that “resolution” of it, and repairing the regime from its after-effects even once it has been resolved– even if that were to happen tomorrow, which it almost certainly will not– will probably take many months, if not a number of years.
A deep split in the heart of a regime that commands considerable capabilities in nuclear technology: That is another big consideration.
The fact of this split itself might well further propel the efforts of those in the regime who want to hasten the “breakout” from a civilian nuclear program to a military nuclear program. As happened in Pakistan, these people might well see this as their best defense against those from outside who want to continue to foment trouble inside their country.
… And meanwhile, the time-period within which the split inside the Iranian regime gets resolved and healed, or doesn’t get resolved and healed, bumps up against the deadline that Netanyahu and his many remaining supporters in the US Congress have established for “resolving” the Iranian nuclear question.
Dangerous months ahead, I think.

69 thoughts on “Americans, the events in Iran, and nuclear prospects”

  1. The Times (London) reports “more than 3000” (three thousand) demonstrators on the street today, Saturday, not a working day, I presume in Tehran. That’s tiny in the circs. It looks like Khamenei’s sermon worked.
    I don’t see why it is shocking or unusual that the underlying class struggle should work its way into the superstructure. That’s what we commies always say should naturally happen. Anyway it’s been going on all along.
    I don’t see why we should think we are looking at unresolvedness today. Two or three days ago, maybe, but not today.
    Another report says a suicide bomber blew himself up at Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum. That will turn people off. It will go counter to the suicide bomber’s cause and rally people behind Khamanei and the elected President, Ahmedinejad.

  2. I don’t know if the Iranian election was stolen or not. It certainly seems that way. But, what I think about is how the American people stood quietly by in 2000 and 2004 when George W. Bush stole the presidency in the United States. The Iranians are willing to stand up for their democracy.

  3. Whether or not the US government has spoken out in favor of Rafsanjani/Mousavi is a moot point. Washington policy circles outside the administration are entirely in sync, all speaking out for the protesters (Mousavi). In particular, Washington’s megaphone, the corporate media, has already taken Mousavi’s side by its constant broadcast of the protests and their grievances (in contrast to other disputed elections in Mexico and Thailand, where massive protests were ignored). Furthermore, Congress has spoken in favor of the protesters, even though they do everything they can to stifle protests at their own party conventions. Also, “independent” foreign policy sites like The Washington Note have taken the highly unusual step of re-disseminating messages from the protesters to highlight their plight and gain sympathy for their cause.
    Perhaps more important still, while administration officials have been among the few not to voice support directly for Mousavi, they have done nothing to freeze the $400 million of black ops being used to destabilize the government or to roll back NED activities.
    Washington’s preference in this matter is abundantly clear, and the administration’s silence is only a tactical maneuver in the push for regime change.

  4. I heard or read that Israel has a tendency to strike during times of political paralysis. If that’s true, it seems likely that they may strike soon.

  5. I heard or read that Israel has a tendency to strike during times of political paralysis. If that’s true, it seems likely that they may strike soon.

  6. Nothing the US or the West can say or do will determine the outcome in Iran. The pressure on Obama is just for the principled attitude of calling a spade a spade and the feel good aspect of it. HC’s rant on the treaty of whatever is utter nonsense if you look at the US and the West taking side on every place in the world.
    The outcome is clear I insist, political movement in the moslem world tend to have their corresponding militias. The Iranian opposition does not and therefore will not achieve political change. Additionally these characters keep driving other moskems to suicidal acts, but when it comes to them thery are cowards and will back down rather than get to the 27 or whatever virgins in paradise like they profess.

  7. Unlike Domza, I agree with Helena that one should not take sides in this conflict. The two sides are as bad as one another.
    My feeling is that Ahmedinejad did cheat, though it is unlikely we will have proof. At least we can say that (a) Khamenei acted as though electoral fraud had taken place, and (b) Ahmedinejad and the religious authorities would not have hesitated to cheat. They relied on the large and inarticulate rural population, who have no way of expressing themselves, if in fact electoral fraud did take place. The situation is in fact like the United States, where there is a massive population in what is sometimes termed ‘fly-over America’ who have no contact with the outside world, and can be conned by the media, as Rove discovered.
    On the other hand, the Mousavi camp. It is pretty disgusting the way the Iranian exiles from the time of the Shah, who’ve lived a high life in the West from the profits of the corruption of that time, are now all ready to get on the next plane to Tehran, and no doubt reclaim their properties. There is no doubt that if Mousavi wins the game, we will be faced with that.
    Iran is a country with a highly sophisticated upper class, but also a massive unsophisticated rural population. The split is particularly evident in the present crisis. The upper class go for Mousavi; the unprivileged class go or not for Ahmedinejad.
    I thought at first that this split came from the time of the Shah, and his corruption. I well remember in 1974, working in an Iranian village, being shocked how little had been done to improve their life – no electricity, no macadamized road – in spite of the oil revenues. Something at least that the Islamic regime has done is to correct this problem.
    But on reflecting further, I realised that this split goes back to medieval times, when the city was privileged, and the country inferior.
    Surprising to see that come back today, but true.
    At any rate, I have no idea who is going to win the post-election contest.

  8. to clarify Alex, I was referring to post in the jwn thread, “Evidence….”
    Much has changed across Iran in 30 years — there’s a huge middle class that’s arisen; literacy is very high, including among women; 60% of University students are female, btw….
    Do agree with your point about monarchists & other outside opposition groups wanting to “lead” the next revolt or what not — except that Musavi & company would be quite unlikely to accept any embrace from them.

  9. For those still desperately clinging to the A/N line that the protests are only about upper class kids, see
    Roger Cohen’s latest oped (Sunday NYT) here:
    Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of “Death to the dictator!” and “We want liberty!” accompanied her.
    There were people of all ages. I saw an old man on crutches, middle-aged office workers and bands of teenagers. Unlike the student revolts of 2003 and 1999, this movement is broad.
    “Can’t the United Nations help us?” one woman asked me. I said I doubted that very much. “So,” she said, “we are on our own.”
    The world is watching, and technology is connecting, and the West is sending what signals it can, but in the end that is true. Iranians have fought this lonely fight for a long time: to be free, to have a measure of democracy.
    Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, understood that, weaving a little plurality into an authoritarian system. That pluralism has ebbed and flowed since 1979 — mainly the former — but last week it was crushed with blunt brutality. That is why a whole new generation of Iranians, their intelligence insulted, has risen…..
    Later, as night fell over the tumultuous capital, gunfire could be heard in the distance. And from rooftops across the city, the defiant sound of “Allah-u-Akbar” — “God is Great” — went up yet again, as it has every night since the fraudulent election. But on Saturday it seemed stronger. The same cry was heard in 1979, only for one form of absolutism to yield to another. Iran has waited long enough to be free.

  10. Mousavi’s charges as he stated them to the Council. They didn’t amount to much.
    Makhmalbaf has been caught lying about enough things already.
    Was this a preemptive a PR blitz?
    You link to one report from one american expert in one area.
    We’ve read enough reports from Iranians who say that Ahmadinejad’s support was strong.
    And Tehran Bureau already reedited in piece to push Rafsanjani’s agenda.’s-election-coup/
    The post was taken down for a down for a day then back up adding this:
    “Under Mr. Ahmadinejad, the IRGC has penetrated important sectors of Iran’s economy, and is rapidly developing a monopoly on a majority of a wide range of government projects as well as the private sector. On the other hand, Mr. Rafsanjani and his associates also have extensive economic activities and interests. They also favor foreign investments in the country, whereas the IRGC opposes it because it cannot compete with modern technology and planning.”
    Maryam Monalisa Gharavi:
    “In the U.S., the full force of the State is used to block non-permitted protest. When there is outrage about police violence, the State loosens up. Massive protest would never be allowed to carry on for a week without a permit (see anti-Iraq war protests, the large ones permitted and all but ignored by U.S. dominant media).
    In Iran, the State stayed more or less loose on non-permitted protests for a week. There were riot cops and Basiji paramilitaries but not a shutdown of protest activity. After a week it has begun to block them more forcefully.”
    So tell me, what coup is this?

  11. Sticking to the principle of non-intervention doesn’t at all preclude Obama or anyone else from expressing a strong preference for non-violence and the rule of law.
    So when is he going to start doing just that?
    The Israelis have violently and illegally expropriated the lands occupied in Palestine since 1967.
    January 20th would have been the appropriate day to “stick to the principle of non-intervention” and to “express a strong preference for non-violence and the rule of law”.
    Obama is a cartoon cover-up for the actions of the same old corporate/lobbyist elite. Observe what he does and has said. Observe what he does/does not do.

  12. Helena, I am very surprised you are not urging new elections in Iran monitored by the UN?
    Presume you have reasons not to?

  13. ps My above comment is in the context of your observation about the dangerous times ahead given the “deep split in the core of the regime”? Surely only a UN monitered election could give both sides a face saving way of respecting the legitimacy of the electoral process there?

  14. Speaking of Trita Parsi, (cited in Helena’s post) his thinking has evolved a lot, as the situation has worsened. Statement issued this afternoon from his American-Iranian organization: (NIAC)
    “The only plausible way to end the violence is for new elections to be held with independent monitors ensuring its fairness. Such elections would be consistent with the Iranian constitution.
    We support President Obama’s decision not to take sides in the disputed election, particularly in the absence of any candidate calling upon him to do so. At the same time, the White House needs to speak vociferously against the bloodshed taking place before our eyes.
    While the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy is not new, Iran will never find internal or external balance unless the human rights, will, and needs of its people are met.”
    A wee bit confusing. On the one hand, NIAC supports the President for not taking sides on the election, even as NIAC itself is calling for new elections. Moreover, for NIAC, the “severity of the situation… demand(s) the world’s attention.”

  15. I particularly liked this gem:
    The first and most compelling reason why Obama’s stand of non-intervention in Iranian politics is the right one is that this is a core principle of international affairs that goes back to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia.
    Do you really think that Obama even knows about the Treaty of Westphalia? Not unless one of his advisors tells him. LOL.
    At any rate, I don’t think that you have understood the fundamentals (no pun intended) here. If Mousavi’s announcements yesterday – to the effect that he is ready to sacrifice himself -are any indication, then we have gone long beyond an ideological or political split between Khatami and Rafsanjani. It’s the people in the street who are now deciding, and it appears that they don’t want either of these mullahs telling them what to do (or withholding or wasting the vast resources from them).
    And why is it that you always need to bring Israel into the mess? Can’t you see that if, is it appears, this goes beyond a rift in the regime that this opens a whole new range of options? (Particularly since part of wasting the vast state recources has been Iranian support for non-state players Hizballah and Hamas.)

  16. I heard or read that Israel has a tendency to strike during times of political paralysis.
    Hey eppie, do you think you could give us some examples?

  17. Barack Obama’s BA was in political science with a specialization in international relations. He was a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years. His family history is bound up with the Kenyan struggle for independence (uhuru) from Britain (By the way, I grew up in Kenya). The idea of the independent sovereignty of nations that underpins the concept of the nation, nation-building, national democracy and national sovereignty is, as a matter of historical fact, based on the Treaty of Westphalia in particular.
    It is impossible that the professor of constitutional law who is now the President of the USA, with his family history rooted in the Kenya independence struggle, would not know all this.
    What is more interesting JES, is that you as a newly-fledged blogger in your own right should be so grossly ignorant. Maybe even racist. That would be the assumption of most Africans reading what you have said about Obama not knowing about the Treaty of Westphalia unless his advisors told him, because in Africa we hear this kind of presumption of black ignorance all the time.
    You may think that the Treaty of Westphalia is an obscure matter but it is not obscure to the readers of JWN or to your potential readers at your new blog. The matter of this Treaty of Westphalia and its implications was debated sharply in relation to Iraq and more generally in relation to crude globalism or what I would call Imperialism.
    So I think you’ve made a bit of an exhibition of yourself, JES.

  18. Helena, You delete the post with Tahari quote. Its OK your right here. although I can not see any offensive here, unless your friend who think he is Ayatollah when its comes to Iran and other view are not accepted here.
    But I pick your attention then to Roger Cohen, and his history, Cohen were very supportive the American-led invasion of Iraq.?
    Why now should listen to him now?

  19. I love Scott H’s remarks about thirty-year old stereotypes
    about ignorant rural masses & such
    You are right, that is what I think about the United States. It’s a very good description.
    Not what I think about Iran, though. They’ve all got their satellite dishes.

  20. “Despite the crude characterisation of the Islamic Republic as a repressive autocracy in the Western imagination, its policies have always, to a certain degree, rested on the foundation of popular consent. That means that even if the regime falls, the policies of the government that emerges from the rubble might not be substantially different from those of its predecessor…
    “The extraordinary events of recent days will sorely tempt Iran’s neighbours and other powers to try to tip the scales in favour of their preferred outcome. But that is an urge which must be resisted. Now is the very worst time for the world to attempt to exert any influence in Iran.”
    From today’s editorial in the Sunday Independent (Johannesburg)

  21. Dominic, you make a lot of assumptions here. First of all, Obama was not a “professor of constitutional law”, as you say. He was a lecturer and then senior lecturer – big difference. Secondly, I don’t see any indication that he recognized his family history as being “rooted”, as you say, in Kenya and its struggle for independence.
    Let me make myself clear here. I don’t believe that any of the US presidents during the 20th and 21st centuries, with the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson, would have been intimately familiar with the Treaty of Westphalia – and particularly so none of those presidents since 1960. If my memory serves me right, none of these were black or African, so you can cut the bull on this one.
    BTW, thanks for the plug for my new blog.

  22. One major for some they think that Mousavi will makes difference or changes here what he said:
    On Press TV – Mir-Hossein Mousavi says he will push ahead with Iran’s nuclear activities and will never halt uranium enrichment

    Mousavi: Iran will never halt enrichment

    “No one in Iran will accept suspension,” the Financial Times quoted Mousavi as saying in his first interview with the international media. He said if elected, his policy would be to work to provide “guarantees” that Tehran’s nuclear activities would never divert to non-peaceful aims.

    Time, Klein and Nahid Siamdoust, June 11, 2009

    Q: You haven’t spoken much about foreign policy during the campaign. If you’re elected, will your foreign policy be different from the one that exists now, especially toward the U.S. The meaning of foreign policy is not just relations with one country. The U.S. is one of the countries in that group. The criticism that I’ve had is that we have not used the vast potential that we have to create good foreign policy. In our foreign policy we have confused fundamental issues and matters that are in our national interest with sensationalism that is more of domestic use.

    Mousavi:The meaning of foreign policy is not just relations with one country. The U.S. is one of the countries in that group. The criticism that I’ve had is that we have not used the vast potential that we have to create good foreign policy. In our foreign policy we have confused fundamental issues and matters that are in our national interest with sensationalism that is more of domestic use.

    Q: With a change in government, do you think there may be a change in Iran’s stance on its nuclear energy program?

    Mousavi: With a change in government, do you think there may be a change in Iran’s stance on its nuclear energy program? We may change our methods. In regard to nuclear energy, there are two issues. One is our right to nuclear energy, which is non-negotiable. The second issue is related to concerns about the diversion of this program toward weaponization. Personally, I view this second part, which is both technical and political, as negotiable. We will not accept our country’s deprivation from the right to nuclear energy.

  23. “America cannot do a damn thing” Ayatullah Khomeini. (1979)
    Why is America,UK,EU talking about human rights? They forget GITMO? IRAQ.ABU GRAIB..DRONE ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTA..Come on HELENA ..Muslims know very well and for that matter Iranians as well have ahatred towards the Obama shut up and solve your own Human rights first..

  24. The dangerous months ahead are due to:
    1) Potential expanding meddling by the US in Iran.
    2) Continuous US bombings in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
    3) Increasing attacks on US military in Iraq.
    4) Emerging unfledged wars against Muslim nations.
    Mr. Obama’s speech in Cairo can now be considered ancient
    history. Either the neocon/likudniks in the US are bottled up or
    the US is headed for what Mr. Netanyahu and his disciples (Richard Perle, et al) are committed to in ;-
    A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, commonly referred to as the “Clean Break” report, was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then-Prime Minister of Israel.
    The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”.

  25. JES:
    “Let me make myself clear here. I don’t believe that any of the US presidents during the 20th and 21st centuries, with the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson, would have been intimately familiar with the Treaty of Westphalia”
    You have overlooked Wilson’s foreign policy disciple Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From an article by Jeffrey Steinberg:
    In July 1928, FDR had penned an article for Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, which presented a “Democratic View” of “Our Foreign Policy,” in which he boldly spelled out a radical overhaul of American foreign policy, in the tradition of John Quincy Adams and the Treaty of Westphalia. Before being striken with polio in 1921, FDR had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson, and had been the unsuccessful Democratic Party Vice Presidential candidate in 1920.
    FDR wrote in Foreign Affairs, “The time has come when we must accept not only certain facts but many new principles of a higher law, a newer and better standard in international relations. We are exceedingly jealous of our own sovereignty, and it is only right that we should respect a similar feeling among other nations. The peoples of the other Republics of this Western world are just as patriotic, just as proud of their sovereignty. Many of these nations are large, wealthy and highly civilized. The peace, the security, the integrity, the independence of every one of the American Republics is of interest to all the others, not to the United States alone…. Single-handed intervention by us in the internal affairs of other nations must end; with the cooperation of others we shall have more order in this hemisphere and less dislike…. The time is ripe to start another chapter. On that new page there is much that should be written in the spirit of our forebears. If the leadership is right–or, more truly, if the spirit behind it is great–the United States can regain the world’s trust and friendship and become again of service. We can point the way once more to the reducing of armaments; we can cooperate officially and whole-heartedly with every agency that studies and works to relieve the common ills of mankind; and we can for all time renounce the practice of arbitrary intervention in the home affairs of our neighbors.”

  26. Apart from the obvious errors in JES’s doctrine of Presidential ignorance, it is really irrelevant. The less Presidents know about International Law the more reliant they will be on their advisors, from the Secretary of State downwards. Bush Jr was the exception proving tghis rule.
    Everybody in the State Department, I suspect, either knows about the negotiations in Wesphalia which ended the Thirty Years War or understands their importance.
    In recent years it has been a key part of the neo-con strategy that the time has come to jettison the Treaty of Westphalia and all that threatens the hegemonic prerogatives of the United States. David Frum, one of the more foolish of the neo-cons, once wrote an article, in Conrad Black’s National Post, which made it quite clear that he believed that Westphalia was a German City. I suspect that he picked the idea up from Richard Perle who has been a mentor in ignorance to many.

  27. Mausvie has strong support within the affluent, educated/affluent youth, business class and some clerics who support and will benefit from the neo-liberal economic policies such as privatization of the public sector. Whether he has a wide spread support beyond these groups has not been proven unless one believes the unverified/non-vetted claim of the fraud. All evidences of “fraud” published so far are based on conjecture/educated guess by those “knowledgeable” people mostly residing in the West/US. To date, there is no solid evidence of fraud disclosed even by Mousavi himself. This trajectory reminds me too much of the tactics employed to make false MWD allegation as the undisputable truth.
    Any change which is lasting and viable will comes from within, not from outside. Unless the main objective of the US is to impose the regime compliant and subservient to American interests, the current one-sided often hysterical coverage of this event is a great disservice to the very people whose freedom the US allegedly is trtying to promote. If we are truly interested in achieving this objective, it is imperative that the US and the West do not convey even the appearance of interference or the covert/overt agitations.

  28. It’s a bright winter solstice morning here in Johannesburg. The sun rose two hours earlier in Tehran. A quick look at the three main morning papers and at Google news, not to mention JWN, makes me think that the attempted Iran colour revo, or what used to be called an attempted “putsch”, is over. Thank goodness.
    The Google News got me a BBC item put up today, but actually from yesterday, headlined “Iran opposition momentum ‘growing'”, while the (Johannesburg) Business Day has a headline “Iran’s electoral conflict shows no sign of abating”, based on AP and Reuters. These are wishful headlines in search of a preferred story. The body of the text is in both cases a re-hash of stuff we have seen before. Weekend TV on Iran was about emigre demos in other countries and replays of stuff that happened last week.
    Listening to what is not said gives you the story. The putsch has failed. Viva democracy, Viva!

  29. The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.

    Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

    The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

  30. Dom – your latest post is disturbing. How can we be assured that you are not a Mossad plant here?

  31. the deep split within the Iranian regime that was dramatically revealed by Rafsanjani’s absence from Khamenei’s sermonizing yesterday
    Split Deepens in Iran as Rafsanjani Family

  32. Chrism rise a good points in his comment.
    In fact what is the going in Iran can be compared it with what was happened in 1990 war in Iraq.
    The tyrant regime was deteriorating in the way of collapsing, while the rabbles / opposition built-up in southern Iraq, suddenly all things back the tyrant regime took a stand again and attacked those rabbles.
    At that, time as VOA report Bush senior got advice from a team of 10 CIA spies/undercover inelegance on the ground in Iraq worn Bush do not support the opposition and move US troops deep in Iraq for regime change.
    Now in Iran and in the region there is much need for stable Iran, this is side double game between US and Iran, US needs Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan, US needs open channels with Iran, The time is not right for regime change. May be later…

  33. Dominic, congratulations. You turned on your computer, did a quick once over on Google news, saw nothing new about Iran, and concluded on this murky basis that the big ‘color revolution’ is over. So much for remaining agnostic.
    Of course I’ve heard about media blackouts in Iran that would make Google news reports patchier than they’ve been these last few days. Plus the media is full of liars and shills .. we can only really trust what we experience first hand (and even then, we might all be brains in a vat, manipulated by some Zionist sorcerer.)
    So I propose that you suspend what you’re doing, hop on a plane for Tehran, and taste all that freedom in Iran first hand as JWN’s first on the scene foreign correspondent. I’d be happy to kick in toward expenses, as might others here. Since you seem to have an emotional stake in the outcome this seems like a natural move. You’d get a completely unfiltered street-level perspective of Iranian politics. What do you say?

  34. BB, please give me your reasons why you are disturbed. Give me your reasons why I should not call what happened last week in Tehran a failed putsch?
    I am looking for info. The putschists and their supporters are not providing it. Instead, they are providing what somebody once called “insinuendo”. Let me give you an example.
    Last night on BBC World, a Chatham House operative called Ali Ansari, based at St Andrews University in Scotland, repeated an allegation that was made on JWN some days ago, attributed then to an unidentified friend of an unidentified friend, that counting had been centralised and ballot boxes shlepped around unsealed in cars. Whereas the visuals showed sealed ballot boxes.
    So I went to the Chatham House web site and read their tendentious report, based on extrapolations from spreadsheets of the results of several elections. I had to do some similar work a few weeks ago on our own recent election results for a publication. I found that the Chatham House job was very sloppy and not informative about the system, with scant references, and therefore no reliable traceable link to the original data. I could say more about the inadequacy of this document, if necessary.
    I was looking in particular for Ansari’s (and he is one of the authors of the PDF downloadable report upon which the BBC World item was pegged) allegation about the centralised count and the shlepping of unsealed boxes of ballot papers, but it was not there or anywhere else on the Chatham House web site.
    My conclusion is that this allegation is a lie. If there was anything to substantiate it, it would have been given. Its absence means that substantiation does not exist and the whole insinuendo is a lie.
    I’m applying my mind to this. You, on the other hand, BB, are lashing out wildly, this time trying to smear me as a Mossad agent. That is also very telling. You have run out of steam, BB, like the demos of unfocused students and clerks last week in Tehran, during the half-cocked colour mock revolution that took place and which was in fact a failed putsch. You have become intemperate, BB. Your connection with reality is exposed as non-existent.

  35. A nuclear-armed Iran could well be a threat. As I write, Iran has no nuclear weapons although she is determined to build one or more to counter her perceived threat to her existence and her openly desired hegemony in the region by the knowledge that Israel is now, astonishingly, estimated to be the 5th most powerful nuclear state in the world. It would nevertheless take her about 20 years to reach parity with Israel’s current arsenal of WMD.
    Why America has colluded in this hugely unstable geo-political position, that can only be described both as grotesque and an existential threat to the world, is unfathomable. To take the position that a nuclear armed Israel, sitting in the center of an antagonistic ME, and supported and armed each year by billions of tax dollars as a result of AIPAC, is a prudent political path to follow – strains incredulity.
    Such instability will eventually find equilibrium, in accordance with natural law, and that will probably be a contaminated wasteland extending across the ME into Europe, where no birds sing and no pretentious politicians pontificate. Just a silent place.

  36. Vadim, agnostic for these purposes can only mean that one does not believe in things which cannot be proved. It does not mean suspending judgement or keeping one’s options open.
    I’ve told you before that I am a partisan for peace and democracy. I am not indifferent to allegations of fraud. On the contrary. That being the case I am also not indifferent to false allegations of fraud by people who wanted to frustrate democracy by refusing democracy. Let me repeat that democracy depends upon the acquiescence of the defeated parties. In this case of Iran the minority tried to nullify democracy with a refusal, but they have failed to do so.

  37. Dom – fair enough. You are clearly not acting under the radar. My apologies. Attention should be switched back to Salah.

  38. Vadim, agnostic for these purposes can only mean that one does not believe in things which cannot be proved.
    Yes, and it can’t be proved that Iran’s election was fair. You’re taking this announcement as a priori correct, forcing us all to prove it incorrect. peremptory announcements by Iranian officials are no more “evidence” than the editorials by other semi-informed outsiders you keep asking us to read.
    Another fact is that even if you were allowed into Iran you wouldnt be free to report on anything you saw or associate with opposition figures; there’s a good chance you’d be locked up and you know it.
    State control over free expression free inquiry and free association is prima facie proof that democracy is absent.

  39. Guardian Council: Over 100% voted in 50 cities
    The council’s Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei — a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.
    “Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate — the incident has happened in only 50 cities,” Kadkhodaei said.

  40. You see now, Blue Canary declares as fact that Iran is determined to build a nuclear weapon and openly desires hegemony in the region, whereas no such determination or open desire exists. To the contrary, such accusations have repeatedly been rebutted. Blue Canry’s is the kind of terminological inexactitude that we are constantly faced with concerning Iran.
    You, Vadim, are doing a similar thing. You want to make it incumbent upon the Iranians to convince non-Iranians once again that their republic, twice founded in revolution against a monarchy supported by the USA and Britain, is in fact a republic.
    There is no better check on an election than the masses who are involved in it. Making a presumption that all elections are fraudulent unless extraneously proved otherwise is an attack on democracy itself. In the case of Iran it is the voice of 39 million as against how many? How many checkers, auditors or observers make it o.k. for you? No, what is crucial is the process, or arrangements (just as it is in a company audit, actually). The implied accusation that the process is flawed is precisely the dog that has not barked, whereas the participation of the entire country was there, and nobody denies it. I hope you understand me now.
    As for the suppression of demos, that is police action and it is always viewed partially. In the case of protests that I have been involved in they are almost invariably presumed to be “violent” and condemned, whereas the officers of the law are praised. In Tehran the spin-doctorial boot is on the other foot. Suffice it to say that people who burn stuff in the streets, carry clubs and throw rocks are usually in confrontation with the police, whose job it is to keep the peace. What’s new about that?
    Note that the peaceful and rather meaningless demo last Monday that ended up in a picnic in the park near the awful Shah-built Azadi Tower (that looks like the Voortrekker Monument on legs and wearing bell-bottomed trousers) was not attacked or harassed.

  41. @ John Francis Lee
    Blue Canary declares as fact that Iran is determined to build a nuclear weapon and openly desires hegemony in the region, whereas no such determination or open desire exists. To the contrary, such accusations have repeatedly been rebutted. Blue Canry’s is the kind of terminological inexactitude that we are constantly faced with concerning Iran
    I am afraid that the above comment cannot be accepted as an informed opinion. That both Israel and Iran desire hegemony in the region and will go to extreme lengths to attain it, is not usually in question. It is, to most informed commentators, established fact.

  42. You are quoting me, Blue Canary, not J F Lee, and your conclusion is wrong. The country that seeks hegemony, that is in practice counter-Westphalian, is the USA. It does so through, among others, the non-Westphalian entity called Israel. It used also at one time to do so through Iran, when Iran was ruled by the monarch that the USA had placed there. Then, Iran had one of the biggest and most expensively equipped armies in the world. It was in the top five at that time, if I am not mistaken. This was for US hegemonic purposes.
    But Iran is well placed geographically. Its interests would not be served by it becoming a hegemon, or even a mini-hegemon.
    You read the commentators of your choice. I don’t rate many of them, myself.

  43. JohnH,
    Washington’s preference in this matter is abundantly clear, and the administration’s silence is only a tactical maneuver in the push for regime change.
    Further : it seems that the Obama’s administration asked Facebook to postpone a sheduled maintenance so that the service stays at disposition of the Iranian opposition/protesters..
    It is quite a surprising move to see a public administration intervene in the course of normal proceedings of a private enterprise..

  44. Numbers are down in Iran to 1000 demonstrators a day. It is over. People get the mullahs they deserve. Iran gets another 30 years of theocracy.
    It is all about regime survival, just like Saudis, like North Korea, like Chavez, like Syria, and once in power they do anything to stay. The longer a regime stays in power in a country the less you want to live in such a country. This is their historical window and the cowards fail to even get dressed for the act.

  45. Titus, may I say that you are a despicable human being. I don’t know where you live, but would bet that you don’t incur any personal risk in exercising your right to free speech. The Iranian protesters risk being arrested, beaten, tear-gassed and shot. For you to call them “cowards” if, under those conditions, they don’t turn out in numbers large enough to suit you, is the worst sort of armchair generalship.

  46. The murder of a guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington last week was a tragedy. But it’s also a reminder of anti-Semitism’s return.
    The museum is a memorial to, and tells the story of, the greatest spasm of anti-Semitic violence ever. By murdering 6 million Jews in so ferociously focused a way, the Holocaust made plain the consequences of a hatred that has been widely felt, and frequently articulated, for some two millennia.
    That hatred had often erupted in the mass killings of Jews – by the Crusaders in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, by the pogromists in Eastern Europe, and in many other places at many other times. But the Holocaust was so massive an orgy of violence – so systematized and so organized by one of the most modern and cultured countries – that anti-Semitism itself became, for the next few decades, a spent force.
    Besides, in the wake of the Holocaust, it was embarrassing to be an anti-Semite in polite society. After all, it was anti-Semitism that had motivated the Holocaust – and who wants to be associated with something so widely condemned?
    Now, after this vacation of a few decades, anti-Semitism is back. That prejudice, which has been the norm of history, has returned. It’s resurgent across Europe and proliferating wildly in the Middle East.
    Some anti-Semites articulate the classic motifs: Jews conspire within countries and internationally to control money, media and governments. Some resuscitate the ancient canard that Jews ritually drain the blood of Gentile children to bake Passover matzo (or, in the case of some anti-Semites in the Arab world, to bake pastries for the Jewish holiday of Purim).
    But in addition to the classic language and themes, other kinds of argumentation and language are being used, some new.
    One argument involves the denial or minimization of the Holocaust. After all, if there was no Holocaust, or if only a small number of Jews were killed, there’s little or nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, the Jewish claim that there was a Holocaust is presented as one more way the Jews keep the world in their thrall.
    And, even more actively, anti-Semites now speak in the language of anti-Zionism. They focus obsessively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ignoring all other countries and zones of war. They pay no attention, and don’t care about, suffering and human rights violations anywhere else – in, for example, Chechnya, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Darfur, Burundi or the Democratic Republic of Congo (where some 5.4 million people have died during the last decade in conflicts involving widespread violence against civilians, including mass rapes.).
    But every incident at a checkpoint or in a clash in the West Bank or Gaza, real or fabricated, is highlighted, and Israel is condemned. Those anti-Semites who use the language of anti-Zionism always deny that they’re anti-Semites. They’re anti-Zionists. And anti-Zionism makes them good, they insist, not bad.
    Certainly, one can be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite. In fact, there are many who oppose Israeli policies – and are against the idea of the return of Jews to their ancestral homeland, or the very existence of Israel – for reasons that have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
    But there are few, if any, anti-Semites who aren’t also anti-Zionists. For them, anti-Zionism is primarily a way to express anti-Semitism without being labeled an anti-Semite. It’s a cover.
    In the version of anti-Semitism that’s racing through the Arab Middle East, which evokes the tropes of world conspiracies and the ritual murder of Gentile children, there’s little embarrassment even about the expression of absurd anti-Semitic claims – or, in many cases, in the expression of murderous intent. The denial of the Holocaust is a staple of such discourse. So is the killing of all Jews, both those who are Israelis and those who aren’t. For some, wiping out Israel would be enough. For others, killing Jews wherever they live is the goal.
    At the Holocaust Museum in Washington, the alleged killer was an old-style anti-Semite. He’s a white supremacist from Maryland who hated blacks and, even more, hated Jews. And so he brought his rifle to an institution that memorializes and teaches about the killing of Jews. And he killed a black guard before being shot himself. Had he not been shot, he surely would have shot, and probably killed, others of any color and religion.
    In the wake of that violence, we have to mourn and remember the murdered guard, Stephen T. Johns. And we have to wake up to the reality that anti-Semitism wasn’t eradicated after the Holocaust.
    What can we do about anti-Semitism’s return? Certainly, we should continue trying to understand its origins, causes and persistence through history. We should continue to educate the public about it. We should strengthen our programs to teach children about it in schools.
    But even more pressing is the necessity to stop, or at least minimize, anti-Semitism’s deadly consequences.
    Since anti-Semitic violence has been carried out for so long, most massively just a few decades ago, there’s no reason to feel confident that it will simply stop. We don’t have a good track record of learning from history. Repeatedly we make ourselves feel better by vowing “never again” about genocide, but somehow we find ourselves watching, or even turning away, as it happens yet again. But history – especially the Holocaust – can teach us some lessons about what has to be done when anti-Semitism morphs, as it so often has, from words to deeds.
    We can learn to take seriously the reality and potential of anti-Semitism when it’s expressed. We have to stop those who threaten to wipe out the Jews or the country in which almost half of them live, especially if they have, or are readying, the means to do so. And we must be sure that Jews have a haven within which they can defend themselves.
    When anti-Semitism rises, both in expression and in action, other evils, universal and destructive, invariably follow. So when anti-Semitism rises, all people – Jews and Gentiles, whites and blacks, people of all races and religions – should be alert and should do all they can to avert its consequences

  47. Domza, I suggest you look at John Francis Lee’s comment of 7:36 a.m., which is sourced to Press TV, a strongly pro-government news outlet. The Guardian Council, which is the body responsible for supervising the elections (and which is also closely aligned with the government), has acknowledged that more than 100 percent turnout was recorded in 50 cities and that up to three million ballots may have been affected. This isn’t coming from the Mousavi campaign, it’s coming from the government.
    Granted, three million votes isn’t enough by itself to change the result of the election. But if three million ballots were stuffed into boxes in those 50 cities, how many more were stuffed in cities with “only” 90 or 95 percent turnout? Fraud on this scale is rarely confined to a few places – three million fake ballots requires a nationwide operation.
    Once again, Domza: this is coming from the government. If you still think that the allegations of fraud are a fantasy concocted by failed putschists, then you are truly an expert at doublethink.
    With that said, I’ll acknowledge that the demos yesterday and today aren’t on the same scale as Saturday and before. This may mean that the protest movement is running out of steam. On the other hand, it could also mean that the protesters’ organization has been temporarily disrupted by the government’s heavy-handed violence and mass arrests (which I notice you don’t mention – possibly because you are in favor of them?) and needs time to regroup. If you remember 1979, the protests often followed a 40-day cycle centered on memorial services for those killed in previous demonstrations, so a day or two with fewer protesters on the streets doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
    Also, the movement may be shifting to other modalities, such as the strikes that have been called for later this week. How successful those strikes might be will depend upon organizations such as the bus drivers’ union, which is supporting the protests. As I’m sure you’re aware, the bus drivers are the ones whose strike a couple of years ago was brutally suppressed by your pal Ahmedinejad, who has also gutted much of the workers’ rights legislation that was passed after the revolution.
    I cannot tell how this will end, but it’s a long, long way from over.

  48. DOMZA – apologies for the error!
    I do not disagree with what you say regarding the US and Israel.
    However, my comments on Iran are taken from the experience and opinions of those with intimate knowledge of the position and history, and I believe them to be reasonably accurate. Iran may have no need to be a hegemon, but that is without doubt its express desire.

  49. One more thing, Domza: the difference between this election and Inkatha’s defeat in KZN is that in South Africa, the counting is transparent and all parties are allowed to observe. That wasn’t the case in Iran this time around. You are correct that democracy depends upon the loser accepting the results, but that in turn requires some degree of transparency to assure everyone that the results are correct.

  50. Hey Walter, this isn’t about Israel and it isn’t about Jews, so as a Jew, I’m asking you to please take your rant somewhere else.

  51. Hi Azazel,
    I heard about 50 districts being recounted or investigated. So let’s wait for the investigation, shall we? But I agree that it is a big concession.
    You say that our (South African) system is transparent et cetera. Well, thanks, but I can tell you it’s not perfect. For example, in the recent national elections there were terrible long queues, yet again. My wife and I stood for three hours in the cold morning. Others were still queuing late in the night. One old lady passed out and died. There is no reason for it. The IEC’s excuse this time was that people from other areas were voting in stations where they were not expected. I personally think that excuse is baloney.
    It is also pretty much the same alibi as the Iranians are putting up today. So we will see. I go back to what I said before: the process is crucial. If you know auditing, it’s about internal check, and internal control.
    Then there is the constitution, the legislation under the constitution, the regulations under the legislation, the creation of the electoral staff, whether of full-timers, part-timers, or volunteers, their training and equipment, the registration drives, the party representation in the station as observers and at the count. The whole tutti as we say in SA. We need to know all that. You can’t just say South Africa good, Iran bad.

  52. Domza, I hadn’t known that about the South African system. We have the same problem in this country: I was a poll monitor and voter protection worker in Philadelphia last November. The long lines here are disproportionately located in poorer areas; is that also the case in ZA?
    Anyway, when I praised the South African electoral system, I was talking about the counting process, which – correct me if I’m wrong – is done in public with party representatives and journalists present. This gives the results a great deal of integrity – it’s hard for the losing candidate to protest the numbers when everyone saw the votes cast and counted.
    In Iran, where the ballots were removed to central locations and then counted by the Interior Ministry without the presence of outside observers, these guarantees don’t exist. I’m trying to locate information about the other things you mentioned – e.g., the electoral law and the staffing of the polling places – and will post it here if I find it. I’ll warn you that the real world has had hold of me for the past few days so it might not be soon.
    Finally, for what it’s worth, I don’t buy the Guardians’ suggestion that the Iranian discrepancies were caused by commuters. The election took place on Friday, which is not a working day in Iran, and similar irregularities have not existed in past elections. In any event, I suspect that the results of the investigation will be dictated less by what actually happened than by political considerations, which may at this point weigh in favor of either side. But as you said, we’ll see.

  53. Hi Azazel,
    I could not find out if long queues in our election were in any particular areas but I did worry that it was inhibiting to our ANC supporters. In the event, plenty of them stuck it and we got a good enough vote.
    I am not sure that the candidates can have their observers at the count, or not, in Iran. There seem to be conflicting stories about that. As to when the ballots are counted and when they are moved, that also is a grey area to me. As far as I know the best way is to count in situ at the polling station and post the result outside, and then only after the count take the ballots away for storage.

  54. Numbers are down in Iran to 1000 demonstrators a day.
    You should be understandable the election issue over from the day Khaminie support AN, and finally in his Friday speech.
    No recount nothing its over this Mullah way of life you should know.
    Any way Iranian now they fear for their life from the mullahs night hit squads, they have orders from a higher authority, and they will do what they have to do and worry about public relations later.
    They don’t before three decades,spring of 1980 and now again
    As for the police are not going to have to do much firing. They will do their dirty work at night.So they will do whatever they are ordered to do. they know that a new regime will clean house of dirty people like them looking for new dirty people. And the new regime will let the new guys be dirty if they go after the ones that they want.
    AIf you related to science study this read the following:

    is competition not between individuals in a group but between groups. That is because whereas selfishness beats altruism within groups, altruistic groups are more likely to survive than selfish groups. So although selfish punishment aids altruism from within a group, the model also bolsters the idea of group selection, a concept that has seen cycles of popularity in evolutionary biology.

  55. Remember Death squads inside Iraq targeting most Iraqi military commanders who were leading the Iraqi troops during Iraq Iran war, also those Iraqi religious fingers and Imam who oppose Iranian interference inside Iraq.
    What happen all killed by Mullah Squad which worked in Line with US death squad.
    the latest incident Al-Obaidy Iraqi Parliament member killed after Friday prayer when he stood in parliament calling for stooping the torturer, rape and inhuman treatment of Iraqi detainees in prisons, next day took him off.

  56. BTW, Domza – nothing to do with the current situation, but Iran has had three revolutions against foreign-backed monarchs. You are probably thinking of 1953 and 1979, but there was also a revolution in 1906-11 which forced the Qajar dynasty to agree to a constitution and cede some of its power to a national assembly. At that time the dominant imperialist power was Russia, which supported the Qajars (and would later play a role in bringing the last Shah to power).
    This may be the first time in modern history that Iranians have risen up against a monarch not supported by a foreign power.

  57. Aye, Azazel, there’s the rub. You want to refuse to call Iran a republic.
    We in South Africa are another republic, like Iran, and from the same last quarter of the 20th century.
    We could have been facing the same kinds of problems today. We could still face such problems in the future. All our politics, like those of the Iranians, are about maintaining unity in the face of the threat of foreign-backed coup d’etat, the reversal of our revolution, and the denial of our sovereign republican status in the world.
    That is why the national democracy is so crucial, and why development must happen now, and not be postponed. A luta continua. The struggle continues.

  58. Thanks Azazel for your kind words. I proudly live in the USA and I take a bigger risk in crossing the street than the Iranians took so far in their feeble protests. There were 27 fatalities out of more than a million demonstrators. Oh, and in their infinite valor they all go up to their rooftops at 9PM and chant “Allahu Akhbar”, a really brave and defiant cry when it is precisely the radical moslem cast they need to shake off.
    The other day there was a demonstration by Iranian Americans at a community college with the usual signs and chants. Why the hell are they demonstrating here where the change they seek is in Iran. Like we can help the outcome. Why don’t they get on a plane and stick out their necks? That is doubly coward.
    I have seen what happened in Allende’s Chile, in Argentina during the dirty war, the Berlin wall, Checkoslovakia, even how the Lebanese kicked out the Syrians, and the reality is that the Iranians are not even in the game. I will watch from the side, but respect for the Iranians so far, I don’t owe them any.

  59. Titus, if it’s such a walk in the park, then why don’t you get on a plane? Set an example, get some skin in the game – and don’t forget to tell us how it was.
    Domza, my last sentence was uttered with tongue in cheek, which doesn’t always translate over the internet. Now that you’ve called me on it, though, I will say that there is some truth to it. Iran since 1979 has historically been a republic: one of the things that has set it apart from surrounding countries is that it has held meaningful elections and allowed room for popular participation. However, the past few years have seen a steady ratcheting closed of political space, an increasing use of paramilitary forces outside political control to suppress dissent, and a concentration of power well beyond constitutional limits in the person of the (unelected) Supreme Leader and institutions directly responsible to him. The theft of this year’s election was supposed to be one of the last acts in the conversion of Iran into a state controlled by the Leader and the Revolutionary Guards (which, beyond Ahmedinejad’s populist facade, own outright 15 to 20 percent of the economy and which dominate the parliament and local councils). In other words, the Iranian republic has been consolidating into a monarchy, which is not unheard-of among republics: witness North Korea, where son has succeeded father, and Egypt, where the same is planned.
    That’s what has been bringing people out into the streets these past ten days: they want to save their republic and have a governement that respects its republican constitution. From available evidence, few if any of them want to overthrow that republic. And they are rightly doing so, because the republic has been betrayed.

  60. it is precisely the radical moslem cast they need to shake off.
    Shi’ite theocracy, not Islamic theocracy, is breathing its last.

  61. Azazel, Azazel. Are you serious? Or is your tongue still in your cheek? I am quite sorry that you are vulgarising this question. If you had not done so, then there would have been some powerful things to learn. From your comic-strip version, this tiresome thicket of stereotypes of yours, there is nothing to be learned.

  62. Domza, given your penchant for shoehorning events to fit your ideological theories even if you have to stuff them there kicking and screaming, you’re hardly in a position to accuse others of being stereotypical. Nevertheless in the interest of not being cartoonish or vulgar, I will set forth the facts upon which my assertions were based. For reference, a link to the Iranian constitution in English is here.
    1. By “a steady ratcheting closed of political space,” I was referring to four things: (a) increasing restrictions on dissenting political organizations; (b) increasing use of the Guardians to disqualify dissenting candidates; (c) silencing of the opposition press; and (d) restrictions on civil society.
    In the first post-revolutionary election, both the secular and the Islamist left participated along with the then-Islamic Republican Party. By 1982 or so, the left had been banned, their newspapers closed and leaders of the Tudeh (Iranian Communist Party) had been tortured into confessing their “crimes” on state television, but there was still room for fairly wide competition within the Islamic consensus. This culminated in the 1997 presidential election and the return of a reformist majority to Parliament in 2000. During this period, the Guardians would typically disqualify a quarter to a third of candidates.
    In 2004, however, the Guardians disqualified more than half the parliamentary candidates, including – for the first time – about 80 sitting members. This meant that the reformists were deprived of a majority on nomination day, regardless of the results of the election. Then, in the 2006 Experts election, the Guardians disqualified two thirds of the candidates, unilaterally moved candidates favored by the Leader to districts where they would face no competition, and for the first time exercised its power against conservatives who diasgreed with the leadership. During this period, newspapers which identified with the reformist movement, which had hitherto been left alone, became subject to closure.
    In the meantime, another critical event occurred in 2001, when Parliament attempted to exercise its oversight over the Guardians. Per the constitution, six members of the Guardians are appointed by the Leader and six are appointed by Parliament from nominees selected by the judiciary, with half of each class up for appointment every three years. When Parliament rejected two of the three judicial nominees for 2001, the Leader responded – entirely outside the constitution – by holding up President Khatami’s second swearing-in until the legislature caved. By this precedent, parliamentary oversight was nullified.
    Further, during Ahmedinejad’s administration, he has worked to either co-opt or eliminate independent civil society organizations. For instance, he has sought to co-opt trade unions into the state and has waged war against independent workers’ organizations such as the bus drivers’ union.
    Thus the ratcheting-closed: from a relatively wide political spectrum to a narrow one, from a political arena with much room for independent action to increasing co-optation by the government, and from a semi-free press to a constricted one.
    2. By “an increasing use of paramilitary forces outside political control to suppress dissent,” I am referring to the use of the basijis rather than the regular security forces to suppress the protests of 1999 and 2004. Unlike the municipal police, which are subject to the elected government, or even the regular military which is under the Leader’s command but subject to parliamentary oversight, the basijis have no constitutional status and answer to the Leader alone. Moreover, during the Ahmedinejad period, the basijis have set up checkpoints in the capital and have conducted summary enforcement of morals legislation that was previously within the competence of the police.
    3. By “a concentration of power well beyond constitutional limits in the person of the (unelected) Supreme Leader and institutions directly responsible to him,” I am referring to instances such as the 2001 Guardians confrontation, the formation of the basijis into an extra-constitutional security force, the Guardians’ supplantation of the Interior Ministry as the body responsible for conducting elections, and the ownership of large parts of the economy by the Revolutionary Guards and clerical foundations.
    When all this leads to a concentration of authority in the person of an official who is chosen for life, controls the military and judiciary and oversees the state media, what is it in practical terms but a monarchy?
    As for this election being an act in the power concentration drama, that is not my conclusion alone but has been postulated by others with links to sources.
    Finally, as to my contention that the protesters’ aim is to save the republic: listen to the slogans they’re chanting! These were the slogans and songs of 1979. It was “Allahu Akbar,” a religious cry, that defeated the Shah, and that’s what is being cried on the Tehran rooftops now. I don’t think that anyone who listens can doubt the protesters’ desire to preserve and take back their republican constitution.
    Your turn now. I need to get some work done and so will probably be unable to respond again today.

  63. Azazel, I don’t know if you caught this among the list of complaints posted by bb citing mehdi karroubi:
    Para 29 of Constitution allows unarmed public gatherings without permit if they do not insult Islam
    In fact this document carefully defines many rights that any observer knows have been completely trampled by the ruling authorities.
    Articles 19-27 are all worth particular notice. And article 32, 38, and 39.
    The inspection of letters and the failure to deliver them, the recording and disclosure of telephone conversations, the disclosure of telegraphic and telex communications, censorship, or the wilful failure to transmit them, eavesdropping, and all forms of covert investigation are forbidden, except as provided by law.
    Anyone can see that blocking search engines, twitter etc (in fact demanding a filter be placed on all sold computers) would fall under this category.
    So why now can Iran not seem to be able to enforce this very nice sounding if ambitious schedule of basic civil rights? Is so much considered ‘insulting o Islam’ that the laws are simply toothless?

  64. Azazel. Thanks, I’m impressed, but still can’t quite accept the idea of monarchy in this context. “Prince” in Machiavelli’s broad sense would be better, and not forgetting that the Machiavellian prince is always conscious of and adjusting for the popular force.
    I note your judgement that the slogans of the Mousavi supporters, “Allahu Akbar” in particular, are sincere and not falsely expropriated, but am not yet convinced. In our recent election the reactionary parties all stole ANC slogans and positions in varying degrees. They always do. “COPE” in particular is entirely a fake ANC. In the Mousavi case, lots of people have pointed out the incongruity of that slogan in the mouths of “reformers”. That’s where the doubt comes in.
    It would be good to know more about how ownership of means of production is arranged in Iran, and especially the ownership by clerical and military collectives. The state is the executive committee of the ruling class. So even if you call him a Prince or a King, one must still ask what class does the Supreme serve? For another example, is a bazaari the same as a bourgeois? Or is a bazaari a bourgeois of a special type?
    We live to learn.

  65. I’m home from work and have a few minutes before cooking dinner.
    I accept your reservations about the use of the word “monarchy.” The word doesn’t simply mean one-man rule; it has a host of political and social connotations that don’t apply to Khamenei. “Prince” might work, although Iran’s true Machiavellian prince may turn out to be Rafsanjani; so might “dictator,” which Khamenei has not been thus far but may be in the process of becoming.
    I will try, within the next day or two, to pull together some sources about the bunyods (clerical foundations) and the IRGC’s economic activities. To oversimplify greatly, the bunyods took control of assets nationalized after the revolution as well as some of those that had already been nationalized before. The IRGC does business much like the People’s Liberation Army in the 1980s-90s: construction, general contracting, oil and gas, electronics and arms manufacturing. There are also allegations (to my knowledge unproven, although proof is always tricky in these situations) that it is involved in smuggling on a major scale.
    The state as executive committee of the ruling class – nice turn of phrase, that – is more blatant in Iran than in many other countries.
    The bazaaris are the retail merchants, importers and bankers (not all of them in the bazaars by any means); I’m not sure how “special” they are compared to others of their profession, but they have historically been influential. Many of them are also resentful of the military’s increasing economic role.
    Have to go now. After dinner I plan to read poetry rather than news; reading news all the time impoverishes the soul. In honor of the occasion, however, it will be Ferdowsi.

  66. Azazel writes:
    Titus, if it’s such a walk in the park, then why don’t you get on a plane? Set an example, get some skin in the game – and don’t forget to tell us how it was.
    What doesn’t cost is not worth. It is not easy. I am not going because it has no upside for me. I am not Iranian and have no stake at all. If they want to get out of the oppressive lifestyle they have been under they will have to make the sacrifice. My bet is they will not, and that is all I was observing. No sacrifice no respect from me.
    Feel free to disagree and wager a symbolic bet on the outcome so maybe you put some skin the game. I bet Ahmadinejad stays in power through 2012. I bet the street demonstrations are over in less than 2 weeks. I bet Obama has no Iranian interlocutor nor dialogue by the end of the year and gets nowhere on the nukes.
    Enjoy your cooking and your poetry, I am sure they are both worthy.

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