Evidence of Iran Discontent

I appreciate that some respected observers remain doubtful about the extent of the protests in Iran. Yet as I (Scott) see and sense it, the evidence has been building for several days that popular disquiet over the recent elections returns is nationwide, in all regions, across all socio-economic, ethnic, regional, and linguistic groupings.
Two quick items for consideration:
1. Five pictures from Esfahan, Iran’s second largest city (and among my favorite places in all the world), showing perhaps a million protesters jammed into and spilling out of the world famous Imam Square. (aka maidaan-e naqsh-e jehaan)These pictures were forwarded to me via a western based Iran scholar, who received them directly from a relative in Esfahan.
To grasp how huge Imam Square is (80,000+ square meters), try visualizing a football field, turn it sideways at one “narrow” end of Imam Square, and then add 14 (fourteen) more football fields after it. Or for the google maps generation, try this image.
That Esfahanis might show up in such large numbers to protest does not surprise me, as a week ago, I highlighted a huge rally in the same spot for Musavi during the campaign. (See these pictures.)
2. An important oped essay by my long time friend Eric Hooglund, syndicated by Agence Global, entitled “Iran’s Rural Vote and Evidence of Election Fraud.”
Professor Hooglund (now of Bates College) is an authority on the subject, having lived in and frequently traveled to rural Iran for nearly four decades. He literally witnessed Iran’s revolution unfold, as he was there working on a dissertation later published as Land and Revolution in Iran. Earlier this year, he wrote a splendid review of 30 years of post-revolutionary rural development achievements and problems for Middle East Report. He was again in Iran recently, and I know of no one with a broader network across Iran’s diverse rural landscapes.
In his oped, Hooglund – Eric – challenges the widely heard media refrain of Ahmadinejad’s strength being “rural” by giving us details of what is happening in just one of the villages he knows well. (though I understand he prudentially changed names.) I encourage readers to read the whole essay, to find out why even in a rural village, Ahmadinjad had become quite unpopular, and why it is now “seething” with “palpable moral outrage” over the irregular handling of the local ballots and by the results.
Eric has shared with me multiple accounts of similar anger building all across the country. Eric also adds a critical distinction: the disquiet he senses is not so much a blanket referendum against the system, but for reform from within it, and that’s the hope they saw in candidate Musavi, even as he indeed is one of the elite. Yet within that political elite, a profound division has erupted., as Eric well summarizes it,

“over how Iran should be governed: a transparent democracy where elected representatives enact laws to benefit the people or a ‘guided democracy’ in which a select few make all decisions because they do not trust the masses to make the right ones.”

This dispute exposes core fissures at the heart of the system that cannot be easily swept back under the Persian carpet. The smoldering discontent will not be easily extinguished, and it’s far too early to declare a winner in the deeper contest.
Today (Thursday) will likely be an interesting further barometer of these pressures.

36 thoughts on “Evidence of Iran Discontent”

  1. Today (Thursday) will likely be an interesting further barometer of these pressures.
    will be more interesting is tomorrow “Friday Prayers” that give us more clues about what will come next.

  2. I note the comment: ‘a transparent democracy where elected representatives enact laws to benefit the people or a ‘guided democracy’ in which a select few make all decisions because they do not trust the masses to make the right ones’ Which democracy is he referring to where “elected representatives enact laws to benefit the people”? It is certainly not most democratic states, where the people to be elected are “selected” by the amount of money and power they hold.
    It is by no means clear as yet whether Iranians were defrauded in these elections. The latest revelations of a letter from the Iranian minister of interior, Sadeq Mahsuli, to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei giving Mousavi the win, is clearly a sophisticated fraud; by whom?
    Clearly also the multiple websites that have sprung up in recent days to support Mousavi required much pre-planning and finance;-again-by whom?

  3. Hi Salah, I was referencing today in that I had picked up that specific and different forms of protest (via gatherings in mosques) have been called for — commencing as I write.

  4. Hi Paul. About hidden hands, if you’re a student of Iranian history — even long before the revolution — you will appreciate the tendency to interpret any major social event there as being the fruit of “hidden hands” — particularly from the outside. Time and again, protest movements have been manipulated by quite real forces from the outside. e.g., Iranians have good reason then for being avid “conspiracy theorists.”
    And yes, I too have seen the proliferation of various instant organizations claiming to be either tied to or supportive of their message. (and then they shamelessly supplant their own message)
    all that conceded, all I can say is that my views are my own, that I speak as an independent observer of Iran for 25 years myself…. Eric Hooglund is quite the same — he’s a lackey for no one.

  5. Yes, Scott, I agree with you that the evidence is now mounting. Thanks for helping to provide it.
    I am now prepared to revisit the judgment I expressed here on Monday that in the crucial, behind-the-scenes battle between Khamene’i and Rafsanjani that lies behind the A-N-Mousavi electoral battle, Khamene’i has already won it.
    It ain’t over till it’s over.
    I tend to go strongly with the judgments Gary Sick expressed 11 hours ago, namely that: All parties are now in uncharted territory… But nobody is fully in command of events. Decisions taken in the next weeks will be fateful and could determine the future path of the Iranian revolution.
    meanwhile, I still think the best posture for us outsiders– especially outsiders who are US citizens– to adopt is the one I outlined in this post, Tuesday (as further clarified by me in the comments there.)

  6. Listen, we can walk AND chew gum. We can recognize the growing unrest in Iran AND we can recognize the clear indications that there was a US backed Color Coup, representing very cynical interests of Rafsanjani and others, seeking to privatize Iran’s oil. This was a revolution that Iran needed, but it was a revolution betrayed before it started.
    As for Ahmadinejad, he’s history. If he could raise his own million person demonstration he’d be doing it. Clearly he cannot. But will this Color Coup bring Iran freedom, or iwill it turn Iran into a US vassal like Georgia? We need to demand that our government STOP trying to control the entire globe. The SCO states are not angels by any means, but they are right to call for a multipolar world. We should stop trying to steal the legacy of the Iranian people and start developing alternative energy in earnest. The money we spent on subversion in Iran could have been spent on green energy.
    And do you think the Color Coups will stop in Iran? US covert ops won’t stop there. Expect Chavez to fall to a color coup next.

  7. I’ll try to write more tomorrow on the very important question of the position the outside world should (or should not) be taking. There’s been several opeds and reports on subject today, some noting pressures on Obama to meddle more directly. The neocons in particular are full of hypocrisy in suddenly being concerned with the very same people that last month they were flippantly talking about bombing….
    I do see the problem in Obama’s initial indication (Tuesday I think)that there’s no real difference between A/N and Musavi on foreign policy (we’ve had that discussion here too)….
    But I think there’s a serious misconception out there that mass protests in Iran somehow must be manipulated or influenced by the outside. Indeed, the Musavi camp several weeks before the elections (as I noted here in a post on Iran’s “colorful campaign”) was bending over backwards to differentiate themselves from the “color revolutions” (velvet or otherwise)….
    Also, with much respect to Gary Sick, he, like so many others, has seriously underestimated the genuine appeal of Musavi across the countryside…. (as well as his wife) This isn’t just a movement against A/N, but one being fired by an extraordinary figure at its center….

  8. I note the comment: ‘a transparent democracy where elected representatives enact laws to benefit the people or a ‘guided democracy’
    Neither Iran nor any of its neighbours had democracy for long time.
    As for Iran has never had a genuine democracy In democracies, people tend to vote along ethnic/religious lines. (Since ethnicity and religion are closely linked,. group tend to vote for candidates of the same ethnic group, or candidates known to favour the interests of such group
    People who are members of ethnic minorities prefer to fight wars of secession to escape from the control of majority ethnic groups they believe are hostile to their interests. Moreover, the ethnic conflict created by some freedom necessarily worsens over time.

  9. This isn’t just a movement against A/N, but one being fired by an extraordinary figure at its center….
    Needs more details Scott?
    You do disagree with Ameer Tahiri, but he said Ali Khaminie became just like any other mullah by this event in Iran , looks very right in his words.

  10. Since I raised the possibility of the Ahmidenijad victory being real in an op-ed in the WAPO by two independent pollsters, I would like to point out a very good article by Juan Cole on his Informed Comment blog today which explains in pretty convincing terms why that pre=election poll, even though independent and well intentioned, was both wrong and wrongly interpreted. It offers pretty convincing arguments for Mousavi being the real election victor.

  11. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF19Ak02.html
    The above article in Aisa Times states that “Mousavi has lodged an official complaint with the powerful 12-member Guardians Council, which has ordered a partial recount of the vote. The complaint’s main flaw is that it passes improper or questionable pre-election conduct as something else, that is, as evidence of voting fraud.” This post goes on to explain the content of Mousavi’s complaint.
    Granted I have not read the “complaint” myself since there is no full translation of the full document available anywhere to date as far as I know. So the author may have some bias. Even then, the lack of “evidence” in “Mousavi’s document” is startling.

  12. Good article, Chris. Good conclusion: “Given the thin evidence presented by Mousavi, there can be little chance of an annulment of the result.”
    This much was always apparent. It was the dog that did not bark, and which cannot now bark, but can only whine.
    The colour-coded playbook now says: Ignore the lack of evidence of any election fraud, but continue to complain, while adding further gross accusations, such as that the process itself is bad, fraudulent, unacceptable et cetera.
    At the same time, and ignoring the inherent contradiction, the colour-coded playbook says: make increasingly strident statements to the effect that the election is now “irrelevant” and that the masses of people on the street represent the entire people. All kinds of theatrical effects are to be blown up and exaggerated, while any counter-manifestations are to be ridiculed, or ignored.
    The “outside world”, which term for these purposes means no more or less than those mass communication media of the world that support the “colour” revo, are to be exploited in a way that magnifies all of the above false effects, says the colour-coded playbook.
    Honest people everywhere should support the honest heart of the matter, which is the unchallengable majority vote in the presidential election. They should do so for the sake of democracy itself as well as for the people of Iran, and above all for the sake of peace.

  13. Dom, if I hear you right, you’re sticking with the claim that the results from last saturday were “honest” — even as fewer and fewer, even at the core of the IRI system, are still pushing that line. So for you, the millions of Iranians pouring into the street, in every corner of the country, are all stooges for some grand conspiracy — ???? For that kind of argument, there is not counter…..
    I surely never said the election was “irrelevant” — for the past month, I’ve documented to the contrary, it mattered, (and I said that when the neocons were singing in unison how they were a mere “sham” before the results)
    The fact that serious choices were available this time, despite all the vetting probles, well, that’s precisely why that this time there was huge turnout….
    Salah, I read Taheri the fraudster as little as possible — yes, he is a neocon/monarchist hack, always has been. That he might be taking delight in present unrest, or whatever, no biggie surprise there. I’ve debunked his stories here many times in the past. (as have many other serious Iran scholars — but don’t tell that to faux)
    But without even reading his latest, for pete’s sake, just because various neocons are now singing (so ironically) the green song doesn’t make Musavi a neocon stooge — hardly. (Besides, as I posted here, many of the leading neocons before the elections were explicitly saying they favored Ahmadinejad…. Their backing of Musavi now, ya might say, play directly into the hands of A/N…. and increases his chances of surviving this challenge…. perhaps just as intended.
    Ooooh, enough conspiracy theories in there — all plausible — to keep you turning for at least 12 hours
    As for genuine democracy, and the ethnic determinism reference, perhaps you might someday want to study US ethnic politics. Nothing set in stone there. (think back on Ronnie Reagan’s coalition — and compare to Obama’s — hmmmm some changed sides….)
    Ah but to the bigger points, Iran’s political culture has long valued democracy…. the real thing — even as for over a century they’ve so often been cheated from the “real thing.”…
    They don’t need to import the norm; democracy is hardly “alien” or “new-fangled” to Iran.
    Of course, to most of Iran’s neighbors, and to one of your other points, it is a “new thing” — and as you and most astute jwn readers of course know, you could even make the case that the appearances of serious democracy in Iran are even more threatening to some of them than Khomeinism….. (oooh, there’s another oped)

  14. Iranians have been spun. If the reformist leadership can’t do a better job of leading then they’re playing with people’s lives.
    Makhmalbaf was just interviewed at FP and came off like an ass.
    The famous phone call from the ministry is Makhmalbaf’s story no one else’s.
    He’s stirring a pot and hoping for the best.
    If this is going to resolved in the back room Makhmalbaf is doing his best to undermine it.
    But what’s the alternative?
    What percentage of the population want to get rid of the islamic Republic and what percentage want to reform it? What percentage voted for Ahmadinejad and now convinced of fraud?
    These groups have to get together now.

  15. Good job Scott, very nice with your freedom of speech and all sort of that jocks. block me as you wish
    Don’t forgot your Son serving neocon/monarchist hack!

  16. ‘Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva even compared postelection tensions to grousing football fans after a match.
    ‘”For now, it is a matter of flamenguistas and vascainos,” he told the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, referring to rival Brazilian football fans of the Flamengo and Vasco da Gama clubs. “It is not the first country that holds an election in which someone wins and the loser protests.”‘

  17. Scott … obviously I don’t have a life (!) because I found myself going through the Guardian’s Iran election results by province, compared to 2005. The spreadsheets are great, give the %s and everything.
    Anyway, I could easily see the provinces where Ahmadinejad was an absolute juggernaut (compared to 2005) which coincided, of course, with where the reformer vote absolutely collapsed between 05 and ’09. It was the blowout in these provinces that Ahmad achieved his overall average 63%.
    In all these provinces Ahmad got more than 70% of the vote on his own this time, and the reformers vote completely collapsed by half to nearly two thirds.
    The most dramatic reformer collapse was in Lorestan, Karrubi’s home province, where the reformer candidates Karrubi, Moin and Rafsanji got 77.6% of the votes in 05 but Karrubi and Mousavi could only muster 27.54% this time. Gawd, Karrubi himself got 55.5% last time and that dropped to 4.61%!!! And Ahmad got 71% – nearly as much as the reformers got between them in 05!
    Karrubi’s vote overall was decimated from 2005, in all the provinces I looked at. No wonder he is spitting chips. And in a lot of cases it looked as if Rafsanji’s vote from 05 had been transferred straight to Ahmad in 09. I found that a bit suss, but maybe there is a plausible explanation.
    Anyway I mention this because there was either a huge landslide to Ahmad in these provinces, or alternatively this was where the fix was “in” as we say in the Australian trade union movement. We have a very proud tradition of vote rigging here.
    These are the provinces I looked at in detail:
    Semnan, South Khorosan, Zanjan,Hamadan, Markazi, Lorestan, Kerman.
    Do they have any similiarities in demographics – rural or impoverished. Something that might explain an Ahmad landslide?

  18. BB, was there not a parliamentary election in the mean time in which the populist Ahmedinejad party made giant strides?
    Is there not more than a bit of a misnomer in the word “reformist”, the way you are using it?
    Is there not in fact a long-term movement that began before Ahmedinejad became President in the first place, against what the Brazilians used to call “Maharajas”, or what others might call fat-cats?
    Lula is a Menshevik like you. If Lula can call it as he does, then why are you persisting in calling what is clearly in class terms a reactionary movement, “reformist”?
    Do you not know, in Australia, that in countries where there are local ethnicities, the opportunist right will nearly always run an ethnic candidate in those areas? This is what happened with the reactionary “COPE” in our recent election, but we as ANC beat them by the same kind of margin that Ahmedinejad got. In our case it was 66% and in his it was 63%.
    Playing the ethnic card in an election that is about class (i.e. “the economy, stupid”) is a tactic that usually does NOT work. What makes you think that Iran would be exceptional in this regard?

  19. Oh, and I forgot to mention, we also walloped the ethnic Zulu party in Zululand (KZN) in our recent election. Some of them also tried to plead that it must have been a fix, but it was not a fix, it was a fair win for the ANC, and a win for democracy, too.

  20. Dominic, speaking as a PBR investor (are you also??) Lulas’s courtship of A/N has been very good indeed for our oil company’s share price. Viva la revolucion, comrade.
    “For us it’s a matter of pecunia non olet,” [Welber Barral] said in an interview, citing the Latin phrase for “Money Doesn’t Smell.”

  21. Dom – acording to what I’ve read, it was Ahmad’s conservative OPPONENTS who made the “giant” strides at the parliamentary elections in 2008
    It’s is another reason why Iranians are so skeptical of this result. Maybe Scott can clarify.
    You really do not seemed to have informed yourself much on any of this.

  22. Fine, BB,
    Be as informative as you like. But you did not mention the parliamentary election previously and I guess the Guardian didn’t mention it either; whereas I did see something about it which I have now not got to hand. You don’t seem to have the dope. So we must await further and better particulars before leaping to conclusions, mustn’t we?
    The spokesperson of the (South African) National Union of Mineworkers, Lesiba Seshoka, always puts the following at the bottom of his e-mail media releases:
    “The most important thing in Communication is to hear what is not being said” Peter Drucker
    I don’t know who Peter Drucker is from a bar of soap. He may well be some kind of business guru, for all I know. But from out of the mouths of babes, sucklings and even motivational speakers, occasional gems of truth do sometimes appear. Drucker’s bon mot is a particularly useful guide in Internet discussions, I have found.
    As for Vadim, it’s a constant source of wonder to me how often the capitalist piggy-wigs pray the mendacity of their own otherwise-vaunted system in aid of arguments against communists.
    For his information, and unless I am mistaken, South Africa both pre- and post-apartheid has bought Iranian oil. We would actually rather buy more from Angola, and no doubt Brazil would, too, but Angolan oil mostly goes to the Great Succubus, the USA. Sic transit petroleum mundi – a good example of the inefficiencies of late capitalism, no doubt.
    By the way, if once again I am not the mistaken one, the spelling of the word should be “pecuniae”, and not “pecunia” in the good old proverb.

  23. I predicted it. Now here it is, and not for the last time, I bet.
    “The reality is that the situation in Iran has by now moved beyond the technicalities of the electoral procedures; people’s move has forced the situation into one of a crisis of legitimacy for the regime.”
    There is more in the same vein. It’s from one Reza Fiyouzat, on Counterpunch. It was already listed yesterday and I would have read it if the link to the article had been working.
    I wrote, yesterday (see above): ‘…the colour-coded playbook says: make increasingly strident statements to the effect that the election is now “irrelevant”…’
    I told you so.

  24. Domza said:
    “But you did not mention the parliamentary election previously ….”
    Thread: “Live Blog sites 4 Iran events”
    My post at 0200 AM.
    Quoting Laura Secor – who was writing in the New Yorker –
    “I was in Iran for the 2005 presidential election, the 2006 election for the Assembly of Experts and city councils, and the 2008 parliamentary elections. Nowhere did I see any kind of balloting other than old-fashioned paper…
    …”Those who wish to argue that Western reporters, in their narcissism, have simply overlooked the widespread enthusiasm for the incumbent, need to explain the outcome of the the 2008 parliamentary elections, which were carried by conservatives who were fiercely critical of Ahmadinejad’s economic policies and worked hard to distance themselves from him.
    These were elections that did not even include any reformist candidates, let alone lure a large North Tehrani vote.”
    After which, my comment was:
    “I’d forgotten about the 08 parliamentary elections where that had been such a big vote against Ahmadinjad’s economic policies. It’s sure not looking good for the government.”

  25. No one here is ‘arguing against’ communists Dominic. You have no reason to feel attacked. neither Lula, nor A/N nor any of Petrobras’ shareholders are communists. Welber “money doesn’t smell” Barral isn’t a communist either. At least he doesnt mention it on his LinkedIn page.
    The only reason I brought up Lula’s many Iranian investments is because you for some reason invoked Lula’s opinion as if he were disinterested, when in fact he has billions invested in the outcome of this election.

  26. BB, according to my best info, your Laura Secor (whoever she is) has got it dead wrong.
    It seems to me that you want to have it all ways. According to you Ahmedinejad as a Presidential candidate is a “conservative” (what, like Harold Macmillan?) and Mosavi is a “reformist” (like Kautsky?). Labour (the working class) supports the conservatives and the Reaganite/Thatcherite neoliberals support the reformists, according to you.
    In this “bizarro world” of yours , when the “conservatives” win a majority in the Majlis (parliament), somehow it does not count for Ahmendinejad, but against him.
    It seems to me that what you are saying is that whatever Ahmedinejad won, he lost, and that he is not and never should have been anything at all, and that it is all a big mistake like Kevin Klein becoming President because he is a look-alike.
    Maybe, like the hidden Imam, there is a hidden Ahmedinejad somewhere who is really a “reformist”? I bet if that hidden “reformist” Ahmedi was to pop up, all of your previous calculations would be retro-calculated to fit the new circumstances, in a trice.
    The rest of us might prefer to use the normal economy-stupid baseline to work off, or ask the even more trusty US class-struggle question: Which side are you on? Of which a turban or a cassock is no indicator.
    Vadim, I don’t understand you. Are you saying that Lula personally has billions in his pocket from Iran (And from whom in Iran, exactly? The oilmen are supposed to be behind Mousavi, aren’t they?). Are you saying that somebody can whip these billions back out of his pocket if he does not do a, b or c? No, you are just trying to smear Lula, Vadim. I am afraid that all your hasbaring has rotted your brain, my friend, and now you can’t judge anything at all in the world, whether it has to do with defending Israeli colonialism, or not. You strike to wound, even strangers. It’s not nice, Vadim.

  27. Few in the crowd were disappointed with the cleric’s words. “Death to America!” the people chanted repeatedly, interrupting Khamenei’s speech. “Death to Israel.”

    Noticeably absent Friday was Moussavi, the man who had sparked Iran’s unrest by calling for a recount of the votes. Absent, too, were Moussavi’s supporters, who did not take to the streets to protest as they had done in previous days. There were no signs and placards on the streets. Or people clamoring for change.

  28. No Dominic, I’m not saying that Lula has billions in his pocket from Iran. I’m sorry that you don’t know what Petrobras is or the extent of its investments in Iran, which run considerably beyond mere purchases. Lula is head of the government that owns 60% of this company, which has been negotiating various concessions in the Caspian Sea and elsewhere in Iran totaling billions.
    One of the things Moussavi seems to be calling for is more transparency in Iran’s oil contracts, including those with Petrobras. Do you really think that Brazil’s leadership is indifferent to an election outcome that might threaten its considerable holdings in Iran a la anglo-iranian? Whether or not these contracts are actually fair, or whether Lula is personally venal is not the point or my implication. so please stop trying so hard to be feel offended on other people’s behalf.
    I’d also prefer not to be smeared with obnoxious terms like ‘hasbara’ , “colonialism” and other insulting expressions (that along with your general domination of the discourse seems to violate Helena’s posting guidelines.) Rather than lashing out at all the other posters and monopolizing the bandwidth, why not investigate your own blog the way JES has done?

  29. Hasbaras obnoxious? You said it, not me.
    Thanks for flagging that the USA intends to cancel Brazilian contracts and expropriate Brazilian assets when they march back in. Is there anybody else on that little list? Is Anglo-Iranian waging a scumbag, I mean trying to stage a comeback, after 56 years?
    Come on, let’s have it all on the table.

  30. Dom my dear friend, Anglo-Iranian is now called BP (major shareholders: China, Kuwait) , and is headquartered in the UK, your birthplace if I’m not mistaken. Petrobras shareholders include George Soros, dozens of US pension funds and yours truly (FYI they were recently upgraded by JPMorgan to ‘buy’).
    Whichever one is more in league with the zionists, they are each more accountable to their Chinese, Latin American, Middle Eastern and North American owners than NIOC is to its stakeholders at home. FYI, in case you mistake Ahmadinejad for some kind of anti-globalizing crusader, read this:
    Some Iranians including A/N want more foreign investment — only “the imperialists” are keeping the multinationals away. I’m sure there’s some convoluted plot line that explains this (christopher lee maybe as the imperialist-in-chief?? omar sharif as “Che” Ahmadinejad?) Let me know if you need some help with the screenplay Dom. I know a guy.
    your pal, vadim.

  31. By the way Dominic, just in case you have the wrong idea, I’m agnostic about the outcome of this election, as I thought you were. The part that troubles me is the absence of transparency and the effort to control the flow of information post election (shutting down SMS services,twitter etc) not to mention the violence I see being used on the crowds of unarmed protesters. I hope we can at least agree that compassion for the injured and killed is called for above all else.
    Personally I don’t care whether Iran’s oil business remains entirely in the hands of the state or is privatized. But you may, and this may be steering your opinion toward A/N. Unfairly, considering that Ahmadinejad is in many ways more pro business (and violently anti-labor) than the challenger. Yassamine Mather:
    Most of the 100 or so points raised in the document read more like a begging letter, calling for a lifting of US sanctions to allow US multinationals the kind of investment enjoyed by European, Japanese and Chinese companies in Iran.
    It should go without saying, but I would never support the deployment of US troops to Iran, or any kind of pre-emptive strike against that country’s nuclear facilities, even though I suspect that some in Iran are still seeking a nuclear weapon. Even so, this long-promised invasion is no more realistic to me than any other “imminent threat” and shouldn’t keep US-phobes frozen in a “defensive crouch”.
    I wouldn’t care if the Iranian people elected Ahmadinejad in a well scrutinized transparent process overseen at every level by international observers. But this process seems too peremptory to me. I prefer more information to edicts and irrelevant anti-US tirades that obscure the issues at stake.
    Unfortunately one of my main sources of information (hossein derakshan’s blog) was shut down eight months ago after its author was thrown in a Tehran jail for “insulting religion” online.

  32. Agnostic is not the whole matter, but you are not altogether wrong, Vadim
    It is a matter of democracy at the national level as expressed in an election. The vote is very, very important. The people must have their will. They must learn in practice how to constitute themselves as a free collective subject, and act.
    Therefore in the first place I support Ahmedinejad, because he won the election, and I oppose Moussavi because he did not win the election.
    You may recall that I linked an article of Pallo Jordan’s where he argued the necessity for accepting defeat, if defeated, even if the winner was pro-Imperialist, because democracy is so important. I agree. So if Moussavi had won the election then one would have had to accept that.
    Actually democracy depends upon the loser accepting the winner. To me the real stealers are the Moussavi crowd, for this reason.
    I oppose your suggestion that there was “lack of transparency”. I am literally agnostic about that idea in particular, in the true sense that I do not believe it because it has not been proved. All through this episode it has been clear that one has not heard of names of people and places where there was an electoral fraud. In Zimbabwe last year it was otherwise. The absence of any detail from the accusers is the proof that they are lying. Now we are told there are 646 case. That’s only a number! They still have not revealed one single case. Just one in detail would be much more convincing that a number like 646.
    Iran has been having elections for many years. It uses the reliable paper ballot system. People think it takes a long to count these, but that is not so, because they are done locally, and because people have spreadsheets and e-mail these days. Not everybody can, but party agents can attend the count. It is implausible that the entire thing could be stolen. Without evidence it cannot be believed for an instant.
    I support the people’s will. As a free person I also applaud the more proletarian trend during the last three elections in Iran. One must not be indifferent. I am agnostic towards claims of fraud, not believing them because they have not been proved; but I am partisan towards the peoples’ will, whoever may be the beneficiary; and I am also anti-Imperialist and not a political virgin. All of these I own up to.
    Above all I oppose the attitude that says “We don’t need no stinkin’ election”!
    One word that has been on my mind these last few days is not agnostic, but gnostic. I don’t like gnosticism. Maybe it will come up again at some point. For now let me just put that marker down: I am anti-gnostic.

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