Iran Scuffles & Flying Back to Washington

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I’ll be offline for a while as flying back to Washington. Moussavi has just called for counting of ballots to halt because of massive voter fraud. Rumors are that Rafsanjani was “detained” when driving to meet Supreme Leader. Many in Iran are seeing this election as a right wing coup, and in this coup — most of the leading Mullahs are in the Opposition. Not my analysis, and not in a position to kick the tires on that one at moment — but the argument is interesting.
Rushing to airport. Consider this an open thread.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

52 comments on “Iran Scuffles & Flying Back to Washington

  1. Lurker says:

    Steve, you were excellent on Olbermann from London. You
    anticipated the election fraud just about anyone else on the MSM.
    The votes weren’t even being reported fully and you said that there
    was something very wrong in the numbers and that there was
    “rigging” at play. Good for you.
    Others need to wake up and listen.

    Reply

  2. Steve Clemons says:

    …, yes, I was the sleepy dude…but I don’t think i was sleepy at
    all. I think that the writer who posted on the Middle East Report
    website was making a broader point with which I agree that
    there need to more Iranians and Iranian-Americans out there —
    but I disagree with her if she thinks those of us who have
    informed views ought to step back. She is uninformed about
    who I am — and that is being solved as we speak in a
    communication from me to her. And on another front, my
    colleague Afshin Molavi has been all over the mainstream news
    — as has been my friend Trita Parsi in helping to explicate some
    of what we have seen unfold in Iran.
    But thanks for bringing this all to our attention. You seemed to
    be complaining elsewhere that I was not answering your
    questions. I can’t seem to find the questions you posed. Email
    me if you have something important as I don’t review every post
    here…I have other things going on in addition to the writing of
    the blog. best, steve

    Reply

  3. rich says:

    Wigwag,
    The last thing Iranians want is U.S. intervention. Such a provocative move would certainly cause Achmadinejad and Ali Khamenei to dig in their heels, and it’d likely increase popular support for the current regime. It totally contradicts the reality and integrity of Iranian sovereignty, as well as our professed concern for same. It would be viewed as a provocation if not an act of war; the U.S. would be open to accusations it had used the election as a pretext for taking action.
    Ww: “But I do think it’s reasonable to speculate that as the Iranian regime becomes increasingly unpopular, enthusiasm by ordinary Iranians for U.S. intervention might become greater.”
    That’s hardly reasonable. It’s a fallacy that dissatisfaction with Iran’s leadership somehow translates into a desire for a military conflict/political confrontation with the U.S., which is perceived as a profound threat unconstrained by the rule of law, international obligations, basic evidence, etc. Nobody in their right minds will start looking eagerly for U.S. intervention here: You’re viewing the Iranian people as subjects, as though they’re looking around for someone to save them. No way they’re that naive.
    For that matter, even you’re not that naive. It’s disingenuous to ‘innocently’/seriously raise the spectre of intervention. How ‘we’ can trust Achmadenijad isn’t really the point: productive diplomatic relationships occur precisely because two nations don’t trust each other. Your suggestion that Israel’s only remaining option is a bombing run is frankly irresponsible and not terribly well thought-out.
    There may be a behind-the-scenes diplomatic role aimed at easing the situation towards resolution, but any “intervention” would be foolhardy and reckless.
    _____
    Wigwag wrote:
    “Of course many people mistakenly conflate majoritarianism with democracy. They forget that democracy is also about the rule of law and the protection of minorities.”
    By your own reckoning, then, we can dispense with the notion that Israel is a democracy. Or some sort of exceptional MidEast beacon of democratic values. B/c in the administration of he rule of law or protection/participation of minorities, Israel does not meet your own test.
    _____
    Meanwhile, James von Brunn’s attack at the Holocaust Museum should remind Washington Note readers/commenters what REAL anti-Semitism looks like: it is right-wing, violent and hateful. Commenters here and liberals who ask that Israel uphold the law, basic human decency and clear democratic principles do so out of a concern for Israel’s security and long-term survival. Calling that anti-Semitism isn’t just a smear tactic, it’s a way of steamrolling the debate in order to avoid addressing the same unjust policies that incur hostility to Israel.
    Just sayin’.
    ______
    I do find Wigwag’s calls for an ‘intervention’ both disingenuous and irresponsible. Wigwag’s got more intellectual game than to think such a move would be viable or fruitful. There is a bit of concern trolling here; however unlikely Obama is to be stampeded into any action not in our national interest. Scaring up the sheeple may be on the menu, but no one’s buying.

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Hm… hours after the first rumors of election fraud in Iran,
    WigWag is busy arguing for a US intervention (sic!) while at the
    same time making weak gestures signaling that he is against it.
    This smells.
    As some of you may know, I`m not a fan of questioning his
    motivations every time WigWag post a comment, but now I have
    to ask: What the hell are you up to this time, WigWag?
    You seem to have two main points here:
    1) You claimed, only hours after the first rumors of fraud
    showed up in international media (in the midst of conflicting
    information, lots of propaganda and tumults) that several
    commenters at TWN have said that Iran was more democratic
    than Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab nations, and that they
    a) were wrong in these assumptions, and b) perhaps may not be
    willing to admit this.
    Well, neither you nor other ordinary citizens living outside Iran
    where, or are yet, in a position to say for sure that this was a
    fraud.
    Secondly, Gary Sicks is right when he says:” If the reports
    coming out of Tehran about an electoral coup are sustained,
    then Iran has entered an entirely new phase of its post-
    revolution history. One characteristic that has always
    distinguished Iran from the crude dictators in much of the rest
    of the Middle East was its respect for the voice of the people,
    even when that voice was saying things that much of the
    leadership did not want to hear.”
    Meaning: IF (still a big IF) this is an electoral coup, this is
    actually something different from the practices we`ve seen in
    the last couple of decades in Iran – and those of us who may
    have claimed that Iran was, relatively spoken, “more democratic”
    before this happened, were not automatically wrong pre the
    12th of June. Why insinuate that they may not admit it – if it
    turns out that Iran in mid June 2009 actually “has entered an
    entirely new phase”?
    2) Only hours after the first rumors of fraud were spread, you
    also stated that millions would be happy if the USA intervened
    now. Of course, you assure us, that in YOUR opinion, this would
    be wrong. This is not convincing, WigWag, because you keep on
    insisting that millions would be happy. And that your earlier
    analysis on Iran and the nuclear issue probably was too
    optimistic. And that Iran now seems to be like Pakistan – an
    analogy that of course is meant to back up those (oh not you, of
    course!) who argue that the USA should intervene.
    I know that you are fond of predictions, WigWag. But suddenly
    comparing Iran to PAKISTAN, hours after an election where the
    opposition claims that it is rigged?
    Who would really want the USA to intervene now?
    Millions of Iranians, you say. Perhaps. But probably not.
    What we know for sure, is that the neocons, Israel, and AIPAC
    would see this as a nice opportunity for the US to intervene, if
    the “international community” is convinced that this is a fraud.
    Kristol, Abrams, Perle, Netanyahu, and AIPAC would certainly be
    happy if the Americans intervened (then the Israelis would not
    “have to” do it themselves). But not you, of course! Nobody can
    accuse you of arguing that the USA should intervene, because
    you repeatedly claim that it would be wrong. But as a matter of
    fact, you are more busy arguing for an intervention, than
    backing up the position you claim to be yours: that an
    intervention would be wrong.
    I don´t admire your opportunistic tactics here, WigWag. If you
    are opposed to an intervention, it`s irresponsible not to make
    ANY effort to back up your own position. And if you`re for it –
    why don´t you just say it?
    And if I may speculate, I would guess that this is your
    calculation: You have concluded that if America don´t bomb the
    nuclear plants in Iran, Israel will do it anyhow within a couple of
    years. This kind of operation is not without considerable risks
    for Israel. If the US may be persuaded to attack Iran during the
    current chaotic events, it may lessen the burden, the risks and
    unpredictable consequences for Israel, if they decided to do it
    themselves. And who knows – perhaps even factions of the
    Iranian opposition would welcome it?
    Am I right?

    Reply

  5. Dan Kervick says:

    “On the other hand, you have to admit that the idea that the Iranian regime has more legitimacy than the Sunni Arab regimes who oppose it, has now been exposed as untenable.”
    Not at this point. The Iranian regime has a constitution, and has a variety of self-corrective constitutional provisions that are unavailable in the Sunni monarchies and despotism, and that may still yet function to resolve the crisis occasioned by the election. The Supreme Leader, as I understand it, has to sign a certification of presidential election results for them to be declared valid. He may be prevailed upon not to do so, given the controversy. Also, the Assembly of Experts has the ability to remove the Supreme Leader, and the Supreme Leader can remove the President. I imagine the judicial and prosecutorial branch could also bring charges against the interior ministry charging election fraud, which might lead to a judicial invalidation of the results. Since the Islamic Republic is a young republic, it is now in a constitutional crisis that could potentially be resolved in a peaceful way, following a few weeks of drama, that ultimately strengthens the government and establishes important historical precedents. Of course there could be violence and chaos instead.
    A further consideration is that, despite all the hubbub today, which consists mainly of rumors, we don’t really know what happened. The Robert Fisk story that Don Bacon cited raises at least the possibility that Ahmadinejad may actually have won, and that the functionally blind Western media are being played by a Tehran-based intelligentsia and political movement eager to exploit the election to foment revolution or a coup from the left.

    Reply

  6. WigWag says:

    I don’t think its “trolling” to say what I think.
    And I don’t see any contradiction in my comments. I think military intervention in Iran is against U.S. interests and should not be contemplated by the Obama Administration. I also think millions of Iranians who just witnessed a stolen election (some Iranian blogs are now reporting that the votes weren’t even counted) might be more sympathetic to outside intervention today than they were before the election charade.
    I think your analogy with Iraq has alot of merit which is why I think Obama shouldn’t repeat the Bush mistake.
    On the other hand, you have to admit that the idea that the Iranian regime has more legitimacy than the Sunni Arab regimes who oppose it, has now been exposed as untenable.
    At the moment the only difference (from a political perspective) between Egypt, for example, and Iran is that Egypt is more stable. Both regimes are equally authoritarian and thuggish.
    Time will tell, but the best analogy might be to the Warsaw Block nations during the cold war. We know now that tens of millions of Czechs, Poles and Hungarians had far greater affinity with the West in general and the United States in particular than they had with their own governments or with the Soviet Union. Perhaps the United States government is far more popular in Iran than we’ve been led to believe; perhaps Iranians prefer Obama to Ahmadinejad.
    The current situation even suggests the once inconceivable possibility that when and if the Mullahs fall, George W. Bush might be welcomed in Iran like a hero.

    Reply

  7. Franklin says:

    As far as the legitimacy of this election is concerned, of course the vote was rigged.
    If the side conducting the election wants the result to be viewed as legitimate, they don’t keep neutral monitors from overseeing the process.
    The intended effect of this outcome is the elimination of the Assembly of Experts as a check in the political process — in particular it appears that Rafsanjani has just been “kneecapped” by the Supreme Leader and the president.
    We should find out over the next few days if there are any political divisions left within the Iranian military.

    Reply

  8. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag is taking concern trolling to a new level, professing to view US intervention in Iran as “against the US interest”, while virtually leaping at the opportunity to prod, suggest, provoke and rationalize intervention.
    I find the whole notion of a potential Iranian hankering for a US intervention somewhat preposterous, on the level of the anticipations of sweets and flowers that were supposed to greet us in Iraq. And I can’t believe any Iranians with at least half a brain would find such an intervention even remotely appealing. For one thing, even if successful in “degrading” the military capabilities of the rightists to the point of making a revolutionary takeover possible, no regime that came to power through a US intervention could enjoy any legitimacy.
    But more important, Iran is not some little banana republic whose government and military could be “moved aside” though a few bombing runs or cruise missile attacks. The kind of degradation one is talking about would have to be so massive, so destructive and so murderous that only the most unhinged of Iranian revolutionaries could want it.
    And any Iranian who looks next door at what Iraq has undergone has all the evidence they need to weigh the effects of US military intervention. They would say, “I may want a number of thing for my country, but I don’t want THAT”.

    Reply

  9. Don Bacon says:

    “Iran is beginning to resemble Pakistan.”
    Wrong. Pakistan has nukes, Iran doesn’t. Pakistan is a cobbled-together country of divergent peoples, with underclasses in Balochistan and the NW Territories, Iran isn’t. Pakistan has problems with an international minority (Pashtuns), Iran doesn’t (OK, Kurds maybe, but not as significant). Pakistan is secular, Iran is Islamist. Is there more? You get the idea.
    Greenland resembles Iceland, too.

    Reply

  10. WigWag says:

    “WigWag, you seem so sure that Iranians would welcome US intervention, where is your evidence? Every bit of evidence that I’ve seen from Iranian dissidents is: US, stay out. You’ll only make the situation worse.”
    I’m not certain at all that Iranians would welcome U.S. intervention. I think the past history of U.S. intervention in Iranian affairs has been abominable and counter-productive.
    But I do think it’s reasonable to speculate that as the Iranian regime becomes increasingly unpopular, enthusiasm by ordinary Iranians for U.S. intervention might become greater.
    Whatever the outcome of the current imbroglio, the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad regime has been severely damaged if not destroyed. Everyone inside and outside of Iran seems to think the election results are a fraud. (When Bill Kristol and Juan Cole agree on something it pretty much has to be true.) In light of this it seems apparent that at least some form of U.S. intervention would be welcomed by the millions of disaffected Iranians so outraged over the sham elections.
    I certainly don’t think the U.S. should attack Iran militarily. In my view that isn’t in U.S. interests. But it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if lots of Iranians would like to see a U.S. attack that degraded the capabilities of the Revolutionary Guards. My guess is that lots of Iranians view both the Revolutionary Guards and the Religious Police as little more than thugs who get their way through intimidation. If they were degraded by some type of forceful intervention, Iranians outraged by the current right wing coup (Juan Cole’s and Andrew Sullivan’s description for what’s happening) might very well let out a cheer.
    Don’t you think?
    By the way, nine states currently possess nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Of these nations, two are highly politically unstable; Pakistan and North Korea. There seems to be near universal agreement that nuclear weapons in the hands of politically unstable nations are particularly worrisome. In light of the political instability now gripping Iran and the likelihood that the regime’s illegitimacy will contribute to long term political instability, a nuclear armed Iran now seems quite a bit more troubling than before.
    Or to put it simply, Iran is beginning to resemble Pakistan.

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….they had better know what the hell they are talking about before mouthing off to the press with that opinion.
    You gotta be shittin’ me. We are talking about Washington DC, aren’t we?
    Unrealistic optimism isn’t like you, Dan. Are you feeling ill?

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    Iranians are quite familiar with “US intervention,” dating from the brutal Shah regime, and for this, and for the US support of Iraq in that dreadful war, most of them hate the US.
    WigWag, you seem so sure that Iranians would welcome US intervention, where is your evidence? Every bit of evidence that I’ve seen from Iranian dissidents is: US, stay out. You’ll only make the situation worse.

    Reply

  13. WigWag says:

    By ROBERT F. WORTH and NAZILA FATHI
    Published: June 13, 2009
    NY Times
    Protests Roil Tehran After Disputed Vote
    “The streets of Iran’s capital erupted in the most intense protests in a decade on Saturday, with riot police officers using batons and tear gas against opposition demonstrators who claimed that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had stolen the presidential election.
    Witnesses reported that at least one person had been shot dead in clashes with the police in Vanak Square in Tehran. Smoke from burning vehicles and tires hung over the city late Saturday…
    Mr. Moussavi’s defiance seemed to fuel street resistance by his supporters — a coalition including women, young people, intellectuals and members of the moderate clerical establishment — who had united in opposition to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s erratic economic stewardship, confrontational foreign policy and crackdown on social freedoms.
    “Death to the coup d’état!” chanted a surging crowd of several thousand protesters, many of whom wore Mr. Moussavi’s signature bright green campaign colors, as they marched in central Tehran on Saturday afternoon. “Death to the dictator!”
    Farther down the street, clusters of young men hurled rocks at a phalanx of riot police officers, and the police used their batons to beat back protesters. There were reports of demonstrations in other major Iranian cities as well.
    The authorities closed universities in Tehran, blocked cellphone transmissions and access to Facebook and some other Web sites, and for a second day shut down text-messaging services.
    As night settled in, the streets in northern Tehran that recently had been the scene of pre-election euphoria were lit by the flames of trash fires and blocked by tipped trash bins and at least one charred bus. Young men ran through the streets throwing paving stones at shop windows, and the police pursued them…
    The turmoil on Saturday followed an extraordinary night in which the Iranian state news agency announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won by a vast margin just two hours after the polls closed. The timing alone provoked deep suspicion here, because the authorities have never before announced election results until the following morning. Mr. Moussavi also announced Friday night that he believed he had won by a wide margin.
    Mr. Moussavi also complained about irregularities and unfairness in the election, saying there had been a lack of ballots in many areas and that some of his campaign offices had been attacked and his Web sites shut down…
    The official results prompted further skepticism, in part because Mr. Ahmadinejad was said to have won by large margins even in his opponents’ hometowns. Mr. Rezai’s hometown, for example, gave him less than a tenth of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s total there, the Interior Ministry said…”
    If this story is to be believed, it suggests that disenchantment with (and even hatred for) the Ahmadinejad regime was far more widespread and far more intense than many people believed.
    I understand that Don Bacon and J.G. might not see it, but my bet is that many of these demonstrators and millions of Iranians would love to see a little U.S. intervention right about now.
    And for the deluded like NY Times columnist Roger Cohen who claimed that Iran is a democracy because the results of the election were in doubt, apparently the election (conducted by paper ballot) was called two hours after the polls closed.
    For those who haven’t noticed, that’s the way the run elections in Egypt, Jordan and yes, Saudi Arabia.

    Reply

  14. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    As the violence in Tehran continues to worsen, several as yet unconfirmed reports have emerged suggesting that the chief opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has been placed under house arrest. Mousavi has accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of having rigged the election, and claims to have actually won by a wide margin.//
    Iran IS a threat to the American way of life. Faced with alleged election fraud the Iranian people take to the streets and the losing candidate charges that the election was rigged. Americans and their presidential candidates, as evidenced by recent performance under similar circumstances, would never act this way.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    Another story line is emerging–the possibility of another velvet revolution. It certain has many of the characteristics, right down to the use of color, in this case green. If it were a velvet revolution, Mousavi’s goal would have been to create a positive expectation of victory. You could sense that with the barely suppressed anticipation on the part of many in foreign policy circles, including TWN.
    Once the expectation was in place, it wouldn’t matter if Mousavi won or not. If he won, great. If not, then the protesters were organized and ready to spring into action. They would make sure that the country was paralyzed, like Ukraine, until their man won–a coup by NED organized hooligans in the street, cynically taking advantage of Iranian hopes. We know that NED money was poured into “democracy promotion” in Iran. We don’t yet know how much of it went into organizing the pre-election campaign rallies and demonstrations and the post-election riots.
    Under this scenario, it could have been that the ruling elite realized belatedly what was at hand and decided in a ham fisted way to preempt an attempted color revolution. Either way, the rulers would have had to deal with NED trained protests, so they decided to make the first, decisive moves.

    Reply

  16. NvD says:

    One of the ways they cheated is by modifying the voter’s guide at many poll stations. There were two types of guides used which I explain bellow. Scans and photos of both types are available on the internet.
    On the voter’s guide, the four candidates are listed and numbered. Number 1 is Ahmadinejad, number 4 is Moussavi. The numbers are sort of like item numbers, or row numbers if you will.
    In front of each name is the code that voters would have to write. If you want to vote for Ahmadinejad you write down 44. Numbers 55, 66 and 77 are for the three other candidates.
    So the correct voter’s guide looks something like this:
    1 Ahmadinejad 44
    2 Karroobi 55
    3 Rezayee 66
    4 Mousavi 77
    The reason for the weird coding is said to be attempting to minimize error. If you have to write a number twice, chances are you didn’t make a mistake. So if you wrote down 44, you really wanted to vote for Mahmoud.
    Now, here’s the twist. In many poll stations the voter’s guides that were handed out didn’t include the “code” column. So they looked something like:
    1 Ahmadinejad
    2 Karroobi
    3 Rezayee
    4 Mousavi
    Naturally, if you wanted to vote for Mousavi you would write down a 4. In many cases people were in fact instructed to write the number twice (!) just to be sure. Guess whose code 44 is. Ah you guessed it. Furthermore all 4’s were counted as 44’s.
    Pretty elaborate if you ask me.

    Reply

  17. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “As for Pakistan, Iran is simply irrelevant.”
    June 11 2009
    Gazprom is in talks with Iran and Pakistan to build a large section of a long-awaited gas pipeline between the two countries, a senior Iranian energy official says. The participation of Russia’s state-controlled energy group could kick-start the pipeline project, which has been delayed because of disagreements that have led India to pull out.–FT.com
    June 1, 2009
    Islamabad (PTI): Iran has closed its border with Pakistan and asked it to arrest and hand over the chief of an anti-Shia militant group linked to several terrorist strikes in Iran, including last week’s attack on a mosque in Zahedan that killed 25. –The Hindu
    May 30, 2009
    3 men hanged for attack on Zahedan Mosque (near the Pakistan border) Suspicions point to US — The 3 men condemned to death had been arrested days before the mosque attack for having smuggled explosives into Iran [from Pakistan]. The executions took place a short distance from the mosque. Ahmadinejad halts tensions between Sunnis and Shiites amid accusations of a “foreign plot”. Khamenei points to the United States.–asianews
    TEHRAN (Press TV) – Revelations by the brother of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi confirm reports that the U.S. helped the armed separatist ring carry out terror activities in Iran. In a recent interview conducted prior to his execution, Abdulhamid Rigi told Press TV that since 2005, his brother had repeatedly met with U.S. agents in Islamabad and Karachi and communicated with them through a common link.
    A 2007 Sunday Telegraph report revealed that Jundullah was a CIA creation [in Pakistan] designed to achieve “regime change in Iran”. The report said it was the CIA that had tried to destabilize Iran by “supplying arms-length support, supplying money and weapons” to Jundullah.
    The Iran-Pakistan barrier is a separation barrier which Iran has started building along its border with Pakistan replacing an intermittent tattered border fence. The 3 ft (91,4 cm) thick and 10 ft (3,048 m) high concrete wall, fortified with steel rods, will span the 700 km frontier stretching from Taftan to Mand. The project will include large earth and stone embankments and deep ditches. The border region is already dotted with police observation towers and fortress-style garrisons for troops. The controversial wall is being constructed to stop illegal border crossings, stem the flow of drugs, and in response to recent terror attacks.–Wiki

    Reply

  18. ... says:

    The US media has been horrible in its coverage of the elections and its aftermath. NPR had more coverage of the European soccer last night and of the Stanley Cup this morning. It was evening in Tehran before Amanpour did a short piece for CNN. Even Keith Olbermann had a sleepy dude from the New America Foundation on … without even bothering to explain what his credentials as an Iran expert are. With an estimated 750k Iranians living in the US and several major academic organizations devoted to Iranian Studies, the unwillingness and inability of the US media to cover these elections properly is truly indicative of a larger problem in Irano-US relations. US press coverage has been embarrassing and shameful.
    well, i think we know who is being referenced here!!
    http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/06/dear-friendsbelow-ive-compiled-some-information-on-whats-happening-in-irantoday-from-various-sourcessomethings-happen.html#more

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  19. questions says:

    Just to be creative, and saying at the outset that I know very little about Iranian politics….
    Could Khamenei want Ahmadinejad discredited at some level? I have some memory of a certain amount of irritation between the two, and this might be an interesting way to put a leash on.
    What else could justify something as colossally stupid as the utter fabrication of election data, as opposed to the mild fiddling with numbers? We get a fair number of barriers to voting, deliberate attempts to discourage voting (“Repubs vote Tuesday, Dems vote Wednesday…”), possible messing with computer data. But, as people have noted, Bush never gets 65% of the vote where he just would never get that. The motivation for setting up the numbers this way would seem to go well beyond avoiding a run-off. Maybe they really want Ahmadinejad to go down?

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  20. JG says:

    To follow-up on our discussion of the relative legitimacy of Iran’s government, Gary Sick weighs in:
    “If the reports coming out of Tehran about an electoral coup are sustained, then Iran has entered an entirely new phase of its post-revolution history. One characteristic that has always distinguished Iran from the crude dictators in much of the rest of the Middle East was its respect for the voice of the people, even when that voice was saying things that much of the leadership did not want to hear”
    http://garysick.tumblr.com/

    Reply

  21. JG says:

    Andrew Sullivan has done a fantastic job of gathering information today:
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/

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  22. Dan Kervick says:

    I think it would be good to find out what is actually happening in Iran before leaping into the breech with wild speculation about what it all means.
    I’ve already seen too much loose talk in the news reports from unnamed White House officials. I think our government officials would be well advised to shut up and gather information.
    If someone in the White House believes that the results are not credible, they had better know what the hell they are talking about before mouthing off to the press with that opinion

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  23. JG says:

    Wig:
    I have to respectfully disagree with you your point 3).
    I think Iran can play a very critical role in the “optics” of our departure – since that is all that really matters in the short-term game that is US politics.
    Iran can (and I believe does) turn up the heat on us at will in both Iraq and Afghanistan. To the extent that we can get them to work with us so that we can leave and “declare victory” is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not things will get better or worse in Afghanistan when and if the Americans leave.
    You said:
    “While Iran did provide initial assistance during the early days of the Afghanistan invasion, the magnitude of that assistance was exaggerated”.
    Just because they provided us minimal assistance then does not mean that they could not provide us significant assistance now. We would be much better off now if we just had access to their western airbases and land routes. And we are apparently in talks with them for such access.
    And I do not see why Iran is irrelevant to Pakistan. Iran shares a very large border with Afghanistan and Pakistan and has a great deal of interest in controlling/defeating the Sunni extremists in both countries, particularly since the extremism bleeds over to the Iranian side of the border. The problems that Iran has in Sistan and Balochistan are a function of the extremist activity in Pakistan.
    In response to your point 4) I refer you to Don Bacon’s previous post.
    And your title of “stooge” for Ahmadinejad is right on point!

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  24. JohnH says:

    I don’t remember a single TWN post after Calderon almost certainly stole the last presidential election in Mexico. It’s certainly curious what foreign policy “experts” (propagandists) choose to notice.
    But then again, I guess fair elections in Iran is far more important to us than having them in Mexico. After all, we already exercise enormous influence in Mexico, so regime change arising from democratic elections is the last thing that Washington and its propagandists want…

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  25. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “I don’t know why you find it so hard to entertain the possibility that a strike on Iranian military installations or on the Revolutionary Guards would be popular with millions of Iranians.”
    The entertainment is hard because nationalism trumps politics every time — people don’t like to be bombed and invaded by other countries, and see their countrymen or especially family members destroyed and dismembered, in this case by unpopular infidels. For example, even the staunchest Bush-haters among us would not have rallied to a Chinese bombardment and invasion — quite the opposite.
    It’s basic human nature, and it explains recent and current US military failures. People who fail to understand it are blind to human nature, or they choose not to see the obvious.

    Reply

  26. WigWag says:

    In response to JG
    1) Yes I would agree that until African Americans were enfranchised and could count on courts to provide them with equal protection under the law, the United States did not have a true democracy.
    As for your comment about gay Americans I think it misses the mark. No one is more supportive of gay marriage than I am and I think gays should be able to serve in the military, but the fact that these rights are still largely unavailable to gay people doesn’t mean the United States is not a democracy. Gay people are enfranchised and are protected by the rule of law even if somewhat imperfectly.
    2) Many supporters of Iran who comment at the Washington Note have suggested that “democracy” is more real in Iran than in the autocratic Sunni Muslim nations (especially in the Arab world). They suggest this gives the Iranian regime more legitimacy than the regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. If indeed there was massive vote fraud, I wonder if these folks will admit that when it comes to legitimacy the Iranian regime and these other regimes are equivalent.
    3) The idea that a strategic deal with Iran will make it appreciably easier for the United States to withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is a canard. Iraq is bound to fall apart when the Americans leave regardless of any deal the Americans do or don’t make with Iran. While Iran did provide initial assistance during the early days of the Afghanistan invasion, the magnitude of that assistance was exaggerated. In any case, Iran’s ability to make things better or worse in Afghanistan when and if the Americans leave is mostly just a myth. As for Pakistan, Iran is simply irrelevant.
    4) I don’t support a military attack on Iran and on balance I think it would be a serious mistake. With that said, if indeed the election was stolen, the calculus does change. Massive vote fraud that left large swaths of the Iranian public (especially wealthier, educated and younger Iranians) disenchanted might indeed make an attack more logical. I don’t know why you find it so hard to entertain the possibility that a strike on Iranian military installations or on the Revolutionary Guards would be popular with millions of Iranians who think the election was fraudulent and the regime illegitimate. It is completely logical to speculate that as the regime becomes more unpopular outside intervention might be more welcome.
    5) Your right, Khameni and Ahmedinejad can’t both be dictators. I guess Khameni is the dictator and Ahmedinejad is the stooge.
    Of course, if the election was legitimate or the vote fraud negligible than my comments here simply don’t apply.

    Reply

  27. JG says:

    Juan Cole has pieced together his theory on the election:
    http://www.juancole.com/2009/06/stealing-iranian-election.html

    Reply

  28. JG says:

    Wigwag said:
    “They forget that democracy is also about the rule of law and the protection of minorities.”
    Under you formulation then you would agree that the US did not become a democracy until after the civil rights movement of the 1906os or maybe the Civil War? And I guess if one were gay then one would claim under your formulation that we still have yet to achieve a democracy.
    And I don’t think that the anyone has claimed that the government in Iran has more legitimacy or is more worthy of respect than the governments in Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
    I don’t think that it is a question of legitimacy or respect but a question of strategic interest. For example, the only chance that we have at extricating ourselves anytime soon from Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan, with even a modicum of dignity, is if we receive cooperation and/or assistance from Iran. That is the reality of our predicament. So, regardless of the “legitimacy” of Iran’s government it is unquestionable that it is on our best interest to engage them.
    WigWag said:
    “Another possibility is that a carefully planned military attack designed to destabilize the Iranian regime will be greeted with acceptance if not delight by millions of Iranians (especially young and educated Iranians).”
    I assume you say these things just to be provocative, because they are absurd. 🙂
    WigWag said:
    “But however one views any of this, the one thing I guess we can all agree on is that a stolen election would demonstrate that Ahmadenijad and Khamenei are illegitimate dictators just like the ones who rule all the Arab nations (except Lebanon)”
    I agree with you on Khamenei. Ahmedinejad will be out after this term (hope mongerers might say sooner). It is a bit sloppy to also refer to him as a dictator, since by definition a country can only be ruled by one dictator at any given time.
    Lebanon’s basket case of a government is a whole ‘nother thread…..

    Reply

  29. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah, Mythbuster: so goes Kansas…
    I observed the same when I visited Ethiopia some months ago.
    The current leadership has a lot of support in rural areas, but
    next to no support in Addis Abeba. This will without doubt create
    a lot of drama (perhaps also misinterpretations from observers) in
    the Ethiopian election next year.
    Regarding Iran, I think the main point is: we don´t know for sure
    yet, and should be cautious. But of course, fraud or not fraud –
    the opposition may interpret it as fraud regardless of the facts,
    and the events may create their own unpredictable dynamics
    during the coming days and weeks.

    Reply

  30. Mythbuster says:

    Paul: Those of us who wanted Ahmadinejad to lose probably over-estimated the popularity of his rivals.
    And how ironic the urban-rural split. Because as we all know, as Manhattan goes, so goes Kansas…..

    Reply

  31. Paul Norheim says:

    Oops – Abbas Barzegar dit not write the above quote in some obscure magazine called “Guradian”
    but in the british newspaper The Guardian.
    Here is another excerpt:
    “Perhaps from the start Mousavi was destined to fail as he hoped to combine the articulate energies of the liberal upper
    class with the business interests of the bazaar merchants. The Facebook campaigns and text-messaging were perfectly
    irrelevant for the rural and working classes who struggle to make a day’s ends meet, much less have the time to review
    the week’s blogs in an internet cafe. Although Mousavi tried to appeal to such classes by addressing the problems of
    inflation and poverty, they voted otherwise.
    In the future, observers would do us a favour by taking a deeper look into Iranian society, giving us a more accurate
    picture of the very organic religious structures of the country, and dispensing with the narrative of liberal inevitability.”

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    To the question: Who are we to believe? – here is Abbas Barzegar, from the Guradian:
    “WISHFUL THINKING FROM TEHRAN
    Since the revolution, academics and pundits have predicted the collapse of the Iranian regime. This week, they did no
    better
    Abbas Barzegar
    guardian.co.uk, Saturday 13 June 2009 11.40 BST
    I have been in Iran for exactly one week covering the 2009 Iranian election carnival. Since I arrived, few here doubted
    that the incumbent firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad would win. My airport cab driver reminded me that the
    president had visited every province twice in the last four years – “Iran isn’t Tehran,” he said. Even when I asked
    Mousavi supporters if their man could really carry more than capital, their responses were filled with an Obamasque
    provisional optimism – “Yes we can”, “I hope so”, “If you vote.” So the question occupying the international media,
    “How did Mousavi lose?” seems to be less a problem of the Iranian election commission and more a matter of bad
    perception rooted in the stubborn refusal to understand the role of religion in Iran.
    Of course, the rather real possibility of voter fraud exists and one must wait in the coming weeks to see how these
    allegations unfold. But one should recall that in three decades of presidential elections, the accusations of rigging have
    rarely been levied against the vote count. Elections here are typically controlled by banning candidates from the start
    or closing opposition newspapers in advance.”
    More here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/13/iranian-election

    Reply

  33. MNPundit says:

    You know it’s also possible we totally misread things. Think about it, if Ahmadi = Bush (and you damn well know it’s depressingly close) then Mousavi = Kerry, someone who probably would have made a better president but whose support was predicated on not-Bush and that as you know, did not prove enough and instead the decline of the nation accelerated.

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “They forget that democracy is also about the rule of law and the protection of minorities. Anyone who wonders how Iran stacks up in this regard need only talk to the Baha’i community in Iran.”
    Iran has the only Jewish community living under an avowedly Islamic regime. It’s estimated to be 25,000 – 40,000 strong.
    news report:
    Isreali experts predicted Jews would support for Ahmedinejad despite his controversial statements on Israel and the Holocaust.
    “They are leaning towards leaving Ahmadinejad in his post because (Mirhossein) Mousavi is unpredictable,” David Mutaj, spokesman for the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel, was quoted as saying by Israel’s Ynet news.–Al Arabiya
    WigWag: “Another possibility is that a carefully planned military attack designed to destabilize the Iranian regime will be greeted with acceptance if not delight by millions of Iranians (especially young and educated Iranians).”
    That’s ridiculous. The idea that the US is helping people by bombing them is a common false refrain by chicken-hawks. That is particularly true in Iran, where according to the recent poll discussed here less a third of Iranians now have a favorable view of the United States.

    Reply

  35. WigWag says:

    Steve, I hesitate to disagree with you. Anyone who becomes a member of the million mile club in one month or less shouldn’t be trifled with. But I’m not sure what your argument is.
    Referring to you and Flynt Leverett I said,
    “They assured us that Iran, unlike Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the rest of the Sunni Arab world, had a nascent democracy that while imperfect, was legitimate.”
    In response, you said,
    “I believe that Iran has democratic tilts and a system of checks and balances that limit the power of the chief executive — but Iran as a full-fledged democracy has never been something I have promulgated.”
    I never suggested you promulgated that Iran has a full democracy. I said “nascent democracy” that is “imperfect.” You said Iran has “democratic tilts.” The two characterizations sound pretty similar to me.
    And without getting into who said what at any particular moment, I do think its fair to point out that supporters of greater American engagement with Iran at the Washington Note and elsewhere have been quick to suggest that Iran’s democracy was somehow more robust than the “democratic” charade so prevalent in Sunni (especially Arab) nations.
    If indeed the election was “stolen” (as you implied it might have been on your appearance with Keith Olbermann last night) than it is hard to see how Iranian “democracy” is any better than Egyptian, Jordanian or Saudi “democracy.”
    Certainly plenty of commenters at the Washington Note have suggested that one of the reasons America should tilt towards Iran and away from the Sunni Arabs is that Iran as a “democracy” actually has more in common with us than the Arabs do. A stolen election puts the lie to this argument.
    Of course many people mistakenly conflate majoritarianism with democracy. They forget that democracy is also about the rule of law and the protection of minorities. Anyone who wonders how Iran stacks up in this regard need only talk to the Baha’i community in Iran.
    JG says,
    “You imply that we can’t expect to achieve a “grand bargain” with Ahmadenijad since he committed such a massive fraud against his own people. We do deals all the time with undemocratic regimes that rig their elections.”
    You’re right and I don’t think I implied otherwise. I just said that it is incumbent on “grand bargain” advocates to demonstrate that a deal with a dictator who commits massive vote fraud (if that’s what happened) needs to be scrutinized with appropriate skepticism.
    I also agree that the political activism witnessed in Iran in the last few weeks is different in nature and extent than what we see in the Arab world. It is more similar to the vibrant political debate seen in Turkey, Pakistan and also Indonesia. But at the end of the day, if that activism is negated by massive vote fraud, than the government in Iran has no more legitimacy and is no more worthy of respect than the governments in Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
    JG also says,
    “The silver lining to all of this may be that the government will, out of pure self-preservation, actually be more motivated now to do a deal to placate the very large portion of Iranians who obviously want a deal (and stave off further social unrest).”
    That’s certainly one possibility. Another possibility is that a carefully planned military attack designed to destabilize the Iranian regime will be greeted with acceptance if not delight by millions of Iranians (especially young and educated Iranians).
    But however one views any of this, the one thing I guess we can all agree on is that a stolen election would demonstrate that Ahmadenijad and Khamenei are illegitimate dictators just like the ones who rule all the Arab nations (except Lebanon).

    Reply

  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, talking about election tampering….
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3729089,00.html
    Lebanon accuses Israel of election tampering
    Lebanese telecommunication minister says Israel caused disruptions in cellular communication before and during Election Day. Country to file complaint with UN
    Roee Nahmias Published: 06.10.09, 10:56 / Israel News
    Lebanese Telecommunication Minister Gibran Bassil accused Israel on Tuesday of causing massive disruptions in cellular communication in the country ahead and on Election Day on Sunday.
    At a press conference at his office Bassil claimed that inquiries conducted by his ministry revealed Israel was responsible for jamming cellular signals and interrupting communication among private users, defense officials, political activists and embassies.
    continues….

    Reply

  37. ... says:

    i concur with johnh and poa… hard to know how much is propaganda especially as the usa has such a solid track record using it from 9-11 forward…

    Reply

  38. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Can anyone guess what headline they had prepared for a Moussavi win?”
    Yes, Hannity gave us a preview yesterday. Story was, that Moussavi was the brains behind Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry, and is equally as “dangerous” as Ahmadinejad. Thats it in a nutshell.
    Does it really matter? Israel says “jump”, and our politicians hop in unison. The rationale for it has almost become irrelevant. No matter what story they feed us, we can rest assured it is 90% horseshit.

    Reply

  39. JG says:

    Can anyone guess what headline they had prepared for a Moussavi win?

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israeli officials: Iran vote shows growing threat
    Re-election of Ahmedinejad illustrates growing Iranian threat, say Israeli officials
    KARIN LAUB
    AP News
    Jun 13, 2009 06:04 EST
    The apparent re-election of hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad underscores the growing threat posed by Tehran and its nuclear ambitions, two senior Israeli politicians said Saturday, urging the world not to engage in dialogue with Iran.
    continues….
    http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/06/13/israeli-officials-iran-vote-shows-growing-threat/
    Actually, in my humble opinion, this just demonstrates the growing “threat” that ISRAEL is becoming to our national security. Come hell or high water, the likes of Leiberman and Netanyahu won’t be happy until American kids are dying on Iranian soil for Israel’s agenda.

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Who are we to believe? Our media? The Washington “insiders”? The lying treasonous sacks of shit politighouls that sold us the Iraq war? Or perhaps the spineless mewling other half that stood meekly by while Bush shat upon everything we once stood for? Obama, who in record time, has broken just about every campaign promise he made?
    So now, we are being sold questionable poll results in Iran. Who the fuck knows? We’ve been lied to and manipulated so much that ANYTHING we are told is suspect. Who benefits by maintaining the presence of a Iranian boogie man armed to the teeth with an exagerated doomsday weapons program?
    Well, observe, as we pay more attention to the propaganda surrounding Iran’s electoral process than we do to the very real and alarming evidence Bev Harris has uncovered about the security of our own electoral process.
    We are being led around like a herd of mindless idiots.

    Reply

  42. Don Bacon says:

    Why effective health care will crash and burn:
    Political contributions:
    The Senate Republican who is front and center in the health care debate has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the health care industry. Her staff, too, has ties to some of the biggest players in the private insurance, with major stakes in the reform effort.
    Sen. Olympia Snowe is shaping up to be the key vote on one of the most contentious issues in the forthcoming attempt to overhaul the health care system: Whether or not to support a public plan for insurance coverage. The Maine Republican was the only GOP member of the Senate Finance Committee not to sign a letter sent to the White House this week opposing such a proposal. At the same time, she has been a major force in pushing for a public option with a trigger, a system largely supported by private providers. –Huff Post
    Investments:
    Almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments in a sector that could be dramatically reshaped by this summer’s debate.
    The list of members who have personal investments in the corporations that will be affected by the legislation — which President Obama has called this year’s highest domestic priority — includes Congress’s most powerful leaders and a bipartisan collection of lawmakers in key committee posts. Their total health-care holdings could be worth $27 million, because congressional financial disclosure forms released yesterday require reporting of only broad ranges of holdings rather than precise values of assets. –Common Dreams

    Reply

  43. Don Bacon says:

    Why effective health care will crash and burn:
    The Senate Republican who is front and center in the health care debate has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the health care industry. Her staff, too, has ties to some of the biggest players in the private insurance, with major stakes in the reform effort.
    Sen. Olympia Snowe is shaping up to be the key vote on one of the most contentious issues in the forthcoming attempt to overhaul the health care system: Whether or not to support a public plan for insurance coverage. The Maine Republican was the only GOP member of the Senate Finance Committee not to sign a letter sent to the White House this week opposing such a proposal. At the same time, she has been a major force in pushing for a public option with a trigger, a system largely supported by private providers.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/10/snowes-ties-to-health-car_n_213798.html
    Almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments in a sector that could be dramatically reshaped by this summer’s debate.
    The list of members who have personal investments in the corporations that will be affected by the legislation — which President Obama has called this year’s highest domestic priority — includes Congress’s most powerful leaders and a bipartisan collection of lawmakers in key committee posts. Their total health-care holdings could be worth $27 million, because congressional financial disclosure forms released yesterday require reporting of only broad ranges of holdings rather than precise values of assets.
    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/06/13-0

    Reply

  44. JG says:

    This doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a done deal:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098834.stm
    Things may get really interesting now….

    Reply

  45. JohnH says:

    Their hopes and prayers dashed, the group thinkers have taken to bloviating about fraud. But what do they know? In fact, they know almost nothing about Iran–none of us do.
    So what if Ahmadinejad legitimately won? Instead of pursuing the usual group think, why not entertain that possibility?
    This situation reminds me of Venezuela a few years ago. Washington couldn’t believe that Chavez won–again. And it wasn’t even close. Chavez routinely wins by upwards of 60%. Fraud? Unlikely. Venezuela uses electronic voting machines that issue paper receipts to the voter. The voter verifies his ballot. Before tallies are finalized, a significant proportion of voting machines (way beyond statistical requirements) are publicly audited against the paper ballots. It’s a more secure voting system than most Americans can imagine. Plus, the elections were monitored by international observers. Despite the grumbling, it was clear that the opinion polls were all wrong, and the unthinkable happened, Chavez won–BIG.
    The same thing could have happened in Iran. Fact is, most Westerners know very little about a country where their contacts are limited to a Western-oriented, English speaking elite, the same people who supported the Shah. I doubt that Iranian election systems are anywhere as secure as Venezuela’s (few are), but the point is that Ahmadinejad could have legitimately won. The group thinkers need to start moving outside their America centered lens and start understanding the internal dynamics of foreign countries. Once they do that, they would deserve to be called “foreign policy realists.”

    Reply

  46. Don Bacon says:

    “And neither Flynt nor Steve have ever linked the two issues. ”
    Steve is reporting this as news and not as something we should all get our panties in a twist about. Another country’s government is their business, is Steve’s usual take (as in neighboring Saudi Arabia). If Iran were a fuller democracy the hawks would still dream up plenty of reasons to bomb them, and if it isn’t the US can still deal with Iran as it does with Russia or China or other countries with which the US has issues.
    Iran didn’t get upset about Florida or Ohio, did it.

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And neither Flynt nor Steve have ever linked the two issues”
    Oh come, don’t rip Wigwag off of his straw man arguments.
    Often, its all he’s got.

    Reply

  48. JG says:

    Wig:
    I agree with you that the result will indeed play into the hands of those who favor an attack on Iran. It also plays into the hands of the Netanyahu government by providing it a continued “bogeyman” excuse for dragging their feet with the Palestinians.
    I also agree with you that an attack against Iran or even an assassination attempt against Ahmadinejad would be the absolute worst response.
    I don’t entirely agree with your claim that the election was no different or better than the sham elections that characterize wide swaths of the Muslim world. The political activism that we witnessed in Iran during the last few weeks is not seen elsewhere in the Muslim world (other than Turkey). So to that extent, it was different.
    I also feel that your attempt to discredit Steve and Flynt and the other “Grand Bargain” advocates is unfair if you are trying to link their commentary on the election to their advocacy of the “Grand Bargain” approach.
    I don’t think there is any correlation between the legitimacy of the election and the trustworthiness of the regime when it comes to doing a deal.
    And neither Flynt nor Steve have ever linked the two issues.
    Although it would have been “optically” beneficial to have Moussavi as president, the negotiation will still be with Khamenei and not the president.
    You imply that we can’t expect to achieve a “grand bargain” with Ahmadenijad since he committed such a massive fraud against his own people. We do deals all the time with undemocratic regimes that rig their elections. The Iranian regime is no different. And Ahmadinejad won’t be the one with who we will be dealing in any event.
    The silver lining to all of this may be that the government will, out of pure self-preservation, actually be more motivated now to do a deal to placate the very large portion of Iranians who obviously want a deal (and stave off further social unrest).

    Reply

  49. Robert Ferraro says:

    I hope we can learn more about the actual mechanics of the election process in Iran. Do they have 100% paper ballots that can be recounted? (We still do not have that in the US.) Are they counted by hand or electronically at the polling place? Is the public or at least the opposition allowed to observe all casting and counting of ballots? Are local polling place results announced publicly before transmission to election headquarters? Are the local results transmitted electronically to election headquarters?
    Are there reliable exit polls? Even if there are reliable exit polls, can that be considered evidence of fraud? The exit polls in the 2004 election in the US showed greater disparities than the Ukranian election, but that was never considered a reason to question the accuracy of the results in the US. It was considered a reason to question the accuracy of the exits polls.

    Reply

  50. Spunkmeyer says:

    For some reason I have Boris Yeltsin standing on the tank in my
    head regarding this situation.

    Reply

  51. Steve Clemons says:

    Greeting Wig — I think you are wrong in your characterization of my views. I don’t believe that I have ever argued that Iran is a democracy waiting to burst out. I believe that Iran has democratic tilts and a system of checks and balances that limit the power of the chief executive — but Iran as a full-fledged democracy has never been something I have promulgated. I have argued that we have strategic interests that demand that we interact and try to do deals with Iran despite its democratic status. I like your counter-arguments generally, but please try not to put words in my mouth. I have enough problems with the arguments I already make and have to try and defend. 😉
    All best,
    Steve

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    If this was indeed a right wing coup and a fraudulent election (I have no idea whether it was or not) it plays right into the hands of those who favor a military attack against Iran’s nuclear installations.
    If done correctly and quickly (while the memory of the stolen election is still fresh in the minds of Moussavi supporters) an attack against Iran or even an assassination attempt against Ahmadenijad might be greeted with acquiescence or even support by millions of Iranians.
    Of course this would be the absolute worst response. If indeed the results have been fixed, regime change is far more likely to come eventually from an indigenous Iranian resistance than any intervention by the West.
    Fraudulent results would demonstrate how wrong Steve Clemons, Flynt Leverett and all the other “grand bargain” supporters were. They assured us that Iran, unlike Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the rest of the Sunni Arab world, had a nascent democracy that while imperfect, was legitimate. They assured us how vigorous the election would be and that the results would be in doubt to the very end. Well, if the election was stolen, it was never really in doubt at all, was it? A stolen election would make Iran no different or better than the sham elections that characterize wide swaths of the Muslim world.
    If the results are proven to be demonstrably dishonest, I wonder whether Leverett and Clemons will admit their mistake.
    Secondly, it seems incumbent on those who advocate for a “grand bargain” to explain how anyone can trust a bargain made with a man like Ahmadenijad who committed such a massive fraud against his own people.
    Perhaps someone can explain why if they can’t trust him, we should.

    Reply

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