Khamenei’s Mystique Shattered in Eyes of Iranians

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Ayatollah_Ali_Khamenei.jpgA few moments ago, author of Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation and one of DC’s best Iran experts Barbara Slavin wrote to me through Facebook and said:

steve, iran ceased being an islamic republic a week ago. now it’s just another military dictatorship.

She is right. And given that collapse of legitimacy and the mystique of the Islamic Revolution, Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those who organized the head-crackers to assault Iran’s citizens will probably have a fragile grasp on their lives from here on out.
The New York Times‘ Roger Cohen who has been braving the streets of Tehran today just filed a gripping account of today’s events, but he too notes that Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has lost “his aura.”
From Cohen’s piece which should be read in its entirety:

The Iranian police commander, in green uniform, walked up Komak Hospital Alley with arms raised and his small unit at his side. “I swear to God,” he shouted at the protesters facing him, “I have children, I have a wife, I don’t want to beat people. Please go home.”
A man at my side threw a rock at him. The commander, unflinching, continued to plead. There were chants of “Join us! Join us!” The unit retreated toward Revolution Street, where vast crowds eddied back and forth confronted by baton-wielding Basij militia and black-clad riot police officers on motorbikes.
Dark smoke billowed over this vast city in the late afternoon. Motorbikes were set on fire, sending bursts of bright flame skyward. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, had used his Friday sermon to declare high noon in Tehran, warning of “bloodshed and chaos” if protests over a disputed election persisted.
He got both on Saturday — and saw the hitherto sacrosanct authority of his office challenged as never before since the 1979 revolution birthed the Islamic Republic and conceived for it a leadership post standing at the very flank of the Prophet. A multitude of Iranians took their fight through a holy breach on Saturday from which there appears to be scant turning back.
Khamenei has taken a radical risk. He has factionalized himself, so losing the arbiter’s lofty garb, by aligning himself with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against both Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a founding father of the revolution.
He has taunted millions of Iranians by praising their unprecedented participation in an election many now view as a ballot-box putsch. He has ridiculed the notion that an official inquiry into the vote might yield a different result. He has tried pathos and he has tried pounding his lectern. In short, he has lost his aura.

More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

99 comments on “Khamenei’s Mystique Shattered in Eyes of Iranians

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  7. bags says:

    yehudit,
    you are wasting your time.

    Reply

  8. Rick says:

    He’s a dictator. Can’t have a democracy with a dictator…

    Reply

  9. toritto says:

    Heehee.
    I remember when Grand Ayatollah Khomeine arrived in Teheran from Paris to ecstatic mobs of Iranians, young and old.
    Millions of others shook their heads – this crazy old ascetic was going to dictate how to run a modern country.
    Anwar Sadat had him pegged – He called him “a lunatic madman … who has turned Islam into a mockery.”
    His successors are no better.

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Yes there is brutality coming from
    “occupied Palestine” but very little from Israelis”
    Why would anyone read any further than that? Obviously, the commenter is a liar or an idiot.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    yehudit,
    you are wasting your time.

    Reply

  12. chi hair straightener says:

    Based on facts, can be stable only fair.

    Reply

  13. yehudit says:

    Anything like this going on in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank is
    being done by Fatah & Hamas to each other. They kneecap each
    other’s activists, murder “collaborators.” commit honor killings
    on women in their own families, their children learn how to be
    jihadis from kids’ TV shows. Yes there is brutality coming from
    “occupied Palestine” but very little from Israelis. And no there is
    not a media blackout, in fact Palestinians are VERY good at
    media, like creating the made-up Mohammed al-Dura video.
    Google “Pallywood.”
    Making it all about Israel is typical misdirection from people who
    can’t stand the fact that Arab and/or Muslim regimes are so
    brutal and corrupt and treat their own people so badly. Israel
    treats Palestinians much better than their Arab “brothers” treat
    them.
    Billions of dollars have been poured into “Palestine for decades,
    from the UN, the EU, various NGOs, the US, and Israel. Enough
    for every household in Gaza and the West Bank to have a 3-car
    garage and a swimming pool. Where is all of it? In terrorist bank
    accounts. So they cry poor and cry poor and “resist” and “resist” –
    and let themselves be used by their Arab “brothers” – linstead of
    using the aid money and their intelligence and talent to create a
    civil society.
    Eyewitnesses (via twitter – make your own judgment, but also a
    few news stories) say that Arab terrorist militias have been
    imported by the Iranian rulers to help the Guard repress
    protesters. They hear Arabic on the street. They see a
    commander give orders in Farsi and then it being translated into
    Arabic. Hezbollah? Hamas? They both are arms of Achamdinejad
    & Co.
    Iranians have something in common with India, Israel, the US,
    the UK, Spain, Kurdistan, Iraq, Darfur, and many other countries:
    being terrorized by Islamists.
    You can keep making Israel the problem. Or you can look in the
    mirror and clean up your societies.

    Reply

  14. erichwwk says:

    Anyone else find it curious how Barbara Slavin can be called “one of DC’s best Iran experts” yet write a book “Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation ” in 2009 [paperback]where the current presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi who is at the center of the current election crisis is not even mentioned once?

    Reply

  15. kotzabasis says:

    VICTOR
    Among all this dark cloud unilluminating chatter about the election of Iran a ray of Sunshine shines the truth. Hoorah and a standing ovation to Victor for his wise and foreboding message to Americans, and others, to stop hating one another and to realize the great danger that Islam poses to Western civilization. But who are the people that are going to give a standing ovation to his sagacious warning other than those who have the knowledge and backbone to stand up against this fanatic wave while all others in their ever prattling nonsense, as exemplified by the majority of posters in TWN, will be rolled over by this wave of fanaticism?
    And the fact that not one of the above commentators bothered even to make a “twit” to Victor’s comment shows pellucidly how religiously they are attached to their ideological fantasies.

    Reply

  16. karenk says:

    He’s a dictator. Can’t have a democracy with a dictator…

    Reply

  17. ELNEIL says:

    With The name Of God ALLAHH:
    To Mr.Khomenee To Mr. Najad,
    I’m a Muslim and very proud of my religion Thank Allah.
    In the recent days I got blast of what I saw happening in Iran, I’m shoked but in the same time I’m very happy and very sad, happy because I saw the truth of what a big majority of Iranians brothers what they want, it’s not about who is going to be a president but it’s more for standing up for their rights for what they want to themselves .Women and Men showed their dignity higher than the gun higher than an ideology that you try to make them believe in but Iranians are not stupid and I don’t believe in your position as a suprem leader their is not such thing as that the only suprem leader for man kind for whole universe is ALLAH, You and any man kind are just servant of allah and you trying to impose your fake ideology to control Iranians, it’s not right and if you have a real dignity you should not impress your people ALLAH SAID TO PROPHET MOHAMMD SALLA ALLAHO ALAYHE WA SALLAM> SADAQA ALLHO AL AZEEM. ALLAH FOR GIVE ME FOR MY TRANSLATION. AND ALLAH SAID> and you Mr. Khomayne you imposing yourself against your peole without them you are nothing without their respect to you are nothing, and you are just a human being, in the end remember no one last in this earth and nothing last at least keep good memory so we can remember you with good thought.
    Second thing why I’m sad, because my sisters and brothers getting harmed by a fallow Muslims like them, it doesn’t matter their religion Muslim Christian Bahae Ethiest… they are Iranians and that’s what matters.My heart cried to see them killed by your ignorant dogs Allah say> Sadaqa Allaho Al Razeem.
    And stop trying to say excuses that the western are behind iranians will. Yes Westen they didn’t do good to our fellow Muslims in palistian… but don’t blame them for what happenning in Iran if Iranians were satisfied with your job that you are hired for they wouldn’t want to fire you but the majority are not and you have to obay your people. because of them you are their without Iranians you are nothing.
    ASSALAT WA SALLAM ALA SAYEDENA MOHAMMED WA AHLEHE WAL MORSALLEN.
    ALLAHO AKBAR.

    Reply

  18. Patricia Wilson says:

    You ask why are the Iranian signs are in English if they don’t want our help? Easy!! English is the universal language in most people’s minds. It’s even more so with the Internet. Most educated people in EU speak two or more languages other than their own. One is usually English. Then the British have been speaking English for quite some time now–remember?? The Iranian Revolution is NOT about US/us. Root for them. Pray for them. but let them decide what is going to happen next and how. WE don’t need to be there. We’re not wanted.We can only wish them well.

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    POA,
    Gonna stick my neck on the chopping block (a feeling I have every time I address you directly (insert some kind of emoticon here)) and think aloud about the why yes Iran coverage and not so much Palestinian coverage. What follows is a partial list of issues that might well be at play.
    First, Iran is acute while Palestine is chronic. Acute always wins out over long stories with long histories.
    Second, there’s likely some amount of sweet revenge thoughts given the Carter era hostage crisis.
    Third, Iran and Iraq are linked, and Iraq is not ever far off the radar. It helps to have a link.
    Fourth, my guess is that if this crisis were to go on for enough days, it would fall off the map, too. Note that HuffPo just switched its front page so that Iran isn’t the only topline story.
    Since I don’t do tv, I have no idea how much coverage there is beyond HuffPo and some other blogs. Is it 24/7 on Fox and CNN and MSNBC? On the networks? Or is it playing more on the blogs and not so much on tv?
    Policy analysts talk about “policy windows” — those momentous occasions when issues rise above background noise and enter the legislative action arena. They lay out a bunch of conditions that need to be met. My guess is that, in a stretch of this work, Iran has met a series of salience tests that any news story needs to meet.
    The Palestine conflict may have a harder time meeting those salience tests because Israel is good at managing/suppressing local video, because the Palestinians are not so good at image-production, because a long-standing land dispute is not the same as an internal electoral dispute, because there is a pretty strong US/Israel identification, and even because if the US were to identify deeply with the Palestinians, the next set of questions might have to be the US’s own treatment of its own indigenous population and the indigenous populations around the world (aborigines in Australia…. The nativism and self-examination might be a little on the wrenching side of things.) Questioning an election is easy. Questioning land/settlement/population issues not so much.
    Also, note that there is a large Iranian expatriate community with English fluency and substantial wealth and a desire to shift Iranian policy. I don’t know the size of the Palestinian diaspora, nor the wealth of this community, but that may also play a role in the coverage.
    Now you can bring out the ax….

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    From NYTimes:
    A Lede reader points out an interesting analysis of Iran’s election results that was published by London-based Chatham House. The analysis, based on the province-by-province breakdowns of the 2009 and 2005 results released by the Iranian Ministry of Interior, challenges some of the assertions about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection made by Iranian officials.
    The authors cite these highlights of their analysis:
    1) At a provincial level, there is no correlation between the increased turnout, and the swing to Ahmadinejad. This challenges the notion that his victory was due to the massive participation of a previously silent conservative majority.
    2) In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, and all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.
    3) In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces flies in the face of these trends.
    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/sunday-updates-on-irans-disputed-election/#1207

    Reply

  21. rich says:

    Steve,
    You always have the benefit of the doubt — but cannot follow cable or personal appearances. Work 60hr/wk in other areas and rely on the blog itself. Am not a cable guy, cannot currently stream live at work — but have gone/will go out of my way for in-person events in NYC. (…time to cave on the cable front I spose..)
    My awareness of your close relationship with the Leveretts gave rise to my question. Thank you for defining where “[you’re] totally with him.” Missed your original coverage. Hey, I catch an enormous amount; but can’t do it all given other demands.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you that we cannot call it for Ahmadinejad “when it’s clear that Iranians themselves are saying it’s not over.” Expections, though, authentic & artificial, do play a role in driving post-ballot perceptions. It’s just not up to us to call it — either way.
    Question: how likely is it your telephone poll undercounted in remote areas and among poor demographic groups, due to low per-capita telephone access/ownership, where support of Ahmadinejad is strong? Standard problem with telephone polls.
    My points had to do with ‘how do we think about this / about the Leveretts’ points / and accurate data; not in doubting your motives. All of us have blind spots — I’m open to filling mine in with valid data.

    Reply

  22. victor says:

    I don’t think it’s about America, particularly. I spent from ’89-’95 In SE Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia) and the last year in Kuwait. Spent many late nights drinking tea, smoking the hookah, and using a good phrasebook to help communicate.
    Every Muslim, including those that were colleagues and friends(?) stated the following as their final position:
    The Qur’an guides their actions as determined by the Imam’s.
    The Qur’an says that infidels (non-believers) would eventually have three choices:
    1)convert to Islam; 2) become a ‘slave’; 3)die.
    When I returned to the USA in 1995 I talked with my colleagues and friends about my ‘Islamic’ Experiences and expressed my fear about the future of the world in this regard. Most thought I was being melodramatic.
    But no longer.
    Read the Qur’an yourself. Ask Muslims if they believe the Qur’an tells what they must do. Ask if the Imams are powerful enough figures to declare Holy Jihads, and what that means.
    Stop hating other Americans so much that you ignore the bigger danger to you and your children.

    Reply

  23. Steve Clemons says:

    Kudos to Paul Norheim, Dan Kervick, and POA:
    I think that the three of you may be the only people I know of who actually read every single word on TWN. Your encyclopedic knowledge of what is hear is better than my own. Thanks for weighing in.
    Steve

    Reply

  24. Steve Clemons says:

    Rich — I will make sure that the Flynt – Clemons – plus others program is posted here after the event is over. It will probably be a YouTube upload. I try to get them up at least by the next morning and often the same day so that you can watch at your leisure. I don’t have time to find it now but if you search the blog I do make reference to the division in New America on this — and make reference to the program. I have also talked about this difference in takes between Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett and myself on NPR, MSNBC, stations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York — and generally out there. I also gave a NY Times interview about it though all that got used was my comment critiquing Barack Obama’s statement about Mousavi and Ahmadenijad. I don’t expect you to follow everything I do — but given how hard I work at this stuff (as a hobby!), I should get a bit more benefit of the doubt before some of the sweeping dismissals here about my views.
    Flynt and Hillary Leverett are incredible friends of mine, close colleagues — and collaboraters in my work. I disagree with Flynt’s dismissal of what is going on domestically inside Iran and disagree with his take on the vote count. But these are small issues. I think that I am totally with him that when power is consolidated behind some actors inside Iran, America will need to focus on what can be done to change the “strategic” game between Iran and the US. I don’t think that that can be suspended even if Iran’s most thuggish elements prevail…but I think it’s impolitic and wrong to tell the world to “get over it” and that Ahmadinejad won — when it’s clear that Iranians themselves are saying it’s not over.
    So, hope this helps.
    POA — you are right on the hypocrisy of avoiding/neglecting what is going on every day with Occupied Palestine. I am on that subject a lot — and am planning more soon. I am one guy, with a small team of others — and can’t myself hyper-invest in a topic like Iran and manage all other issues at the same time. But I am more regularly on the Palestine/Israel issue than most other mainstream foreign policy blogs and have not abandoned the subject. I have found something highly disturbing on this front I’ll be posting soon.
    But yes, Iran is a captivating, exhausting subject. I have worked hard to reach real sources inside Iran and it’s very, very tough to get emails through — and i’ve been doing it direct…not just reading the twitter and youtube morass…
    Each of these stories and pieces takes a lot of time, involves back and forth with people, even something as innocuous as the Biden-Obama story.
    So, not trying to make excuses — but I know I am. I just want some of the regular reader/critics out there to know that this is not a casual game for me. I’m working hard to get real material that I feel is sound out there. I perhaps should have written more about Flynt than I have — and probably will do so later, but because I am ready to do so — not because of catcalls from folks. If anything, I resist being nudged — ask my colleagues. 😉
    So, apologies for getting a bit strident — but when one is working hard to bring material to an audience, the onslaught from negative commenters can be debilitating. I am just offering a slice of these stories, a perspective that is my own — and I respect the perspectives and slices of all this that come from others. But the negative personal assaults on motives are really overdone and unnecessary.
    I will leave the comments on — but I do hope that folks will think a bit more before the sweeping overcharacterizations that are sometimes made and which just make me want to throw the computer out the window.
    To JohnH (I think it’s JohnH)…On the Mexico front — I just need to learn more. I’m up on Cuba…and not on Mexico. I have colleagues at NAF that are and I may ask them to write something — but just know that I will not get on my blog and pontificate on matters that I don’t have in depth understanding of, at least in my own mind if not in the assessment of others. Nothing more explains my deficit in dealing with Mexico than my own ignorance.
    Simple as that.
    All best,
    Steve Clemons
    The Washington Note

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    Exactly Dan,
    It must be possible to say that foreign powers are trying to meddle in the affairs, but at the same time
    acknowledge the fact that many of the actors on the Iranian domestic scene have their own agendas: they are
    not puppets.
    Actually, it`s Khamenei and Ahmedinejad who depend on the meddling and hostility of foreign forces: if
    Mossad and CIA didn`t exist, they would have to invent them.
    And to those of you who defend the current leaders in Iran: now the leadership is calling the demonstrators
    “terrorists”. But your only concern seems to be the demonization of Ahmedinejad by western powers. And
    Israel`s demonization of Palestinians as “terrorists”. And you are accusing the media (and possibly Steve
    Clemons) of hypocracy?
    But if you claim that the Iranian opposition is nothing more than a result of Israeli and American manipulation,
    then you are forced to conclude that the Palestinian revolt is a pure result of Iranian meddling. You can´t have
    it both ways.

    Reply

  26. rich says:

    Dan Kervick & Steve,
    Hadn’t seen Steve’s comment on Leverett on this issue. Been tied up with work and not monitoring every last post, and had hesitated to weigh in. I’d regret stepping on toes and had read most recent posts to avoid that.
    If I came in midstream & have been off-track, I would of course adjust or retract as warranted.
    Obviously many dynamics are in play–I don’t presume to have the answers.
    I’ve specifically stated that: of course what we know about our own actions does not let Ahmadinejad off the hook, whether for brutal tactics or election fraud. To interpret events without taking our own actions into account, however, would be reckless. (Nowhere did I assert that American meddling is the cause of strife or legitimate internal dissatisfaction in Iran.)
    Look, Pakistan is crumbling because we refuse to apply a politically valid and militarily effective methods in going after al Quaeda, the Taliban, or Pakistani ethnic militants. Not SOLely b/c of that — but certainly our wide-scope bombing raids have catalyzed anger and spread resistance — and Pakistani objections to that method verify their recognition of the costs, which comes in the form of lost poltical just cause and moral high ground. I’d suggest a stable Iran is in our best interest.
    Iran’s objectionable leadership doesn’t justify our continued use of failed American tactics; not in Iraq, not in Iran, not in Pakistan. Whatever the outcome in those countries, those tactics will only alienate the eventual leadership of those countries, whoever it is, not win them over.

    Reply

  27. ... says:

    steve, thanks for your additional comments.. i for one really appreciate them.. i think you need to develop a thicker skin when you come to read the comment threads.. it’s like going to the bar, as opposed to some formal dinner or something.. people say what is on their mind, and they may not think it thru as fully as you would like…
    wigwag, i admire your response to the correction you site… i have to say i respect you in spite of the fact you seem to intentionally obfuscate and corrupt the views of others here that can’t be left without comment…i don’t believe anyone here is suggesting the usa or britian have such influence so as to be responsible for what is happening in iran at present… but, and this is the point you are very unwilling to acknowledge – the usa has been funneling towards destabilizing iran for some time and is not an honest broker, nor has it ever been an honest broker in the middle east… if you were just silent on this, it would be one thing, but as always you want to turn it around to suggest some think the usa or britian are directly responsible for what is going on in iran and belittle the valid comments of many posters here… for that you will continue to be challenged and confronted by many of us here, for what i have referred to as your bs…

    Reply

  28. rich says:

    No backseat driver, here Steve, just looking for key pieces of info and not finding it.
    Didn’t see an invitation “to watch LIVE a discussion that will involve myself and Flynt.”
    Posting video of New America Foundation events for those who cannot catch it live would be helpful in avoid crossed wires, where blogging isn’t the sum total of your media output.
    Looking forward to catching your debate with Flynt .. . but some of us work 9-5, so learning from LIVE ONLY may be impossible … and certainly precludes catching all the key info you offer that we’re after.
    I made no “dismissive comments about whether [your] credibility rises or falls because” of this. I said you’ve got great credibility and the Leverett omission doesn’t compute. At no time (then or now) did I take issue with what you choose to put on your blog. I did say there is a disconnect between what we know about Iran, Bush & US ops, and the single perspective on the blog.
    Trying to reconcile that disjuncture can hardly be taken as a personal affront. I offered enough disclaimers to convey both respect and responsible inquiry. No one accused you of anything horrible, but simply added legitimate solid information about what we do know.
    You write, “I believe that this election was fraudulent and Flynt thinks that there are bigger fish to fry.” Flynt said that “these irregularities do not, in themselves, amount to electoral fraud even by American legal standards,” not that he had more important concerns.
    Have you considered that any phone poll conducted in Iran would suffer from the same inherent problems of a U.S. phone poll? Telephone polling routinely overcounts Republican precincts and undercount Democratic census tracts because of higher number of land lines & cell phones per capita in suburbs vs. inner-city multi-adult/dwelling households.
    If Ahmadinejad had much greater support in rural areas and among the working class (& he did) — in remote areas and among those at or near poverty level — your phone poll would have missed or undercounted Ahmadinejad’s electoral support. Your phone poll would’ve evaded barriers imposed by Iran, but still failed to account for strong Ahmadinejad support among a sizable population that lacked access to phones. Not saying that’s true, but that analysis is standard with telephone polls.
    It’d be great to get solid data that informs your opinion, Steve. Access to video of live events would help those of us who DO balance a full-time job with several projects — and our own blogs — with keeping up at The Washington Note as best we can.
    Again, not once did I say what “should or should not be on [your] blog” — that’s a mistake others have made. (As I’ve pointed out many times here, what would be the point? It’s your blog. You’ve nothing to defend editorially.)
    Asking how to reconcile the Leverett’s column with near-instantaneous assertions of electoral fraud– or “coup” — is perfectly reasonable. In the context of documented Bush/US destabization efforts, and a crumbling Pakistan and shattered Iraq, it’s imperative to understand the real dynamics in play here. Not forking over the thinking at work here will probly be questioned. I don’t know what happened over there and it’s unlikely anyone else does either yet.
    I’d love to hear information we can trust. But the track record of the media, area pundits and trusty pols and intel analysts has not been good. I rarely take issue here, never when it’s beyond my domain. You want trust — keep the info flowing, roll back the corrosive DC secrecy, keep your colleagues honest — earn it, earn that trust. Don’t read offensee or mal-intent where it does into exist. Great work, of course as always.
    Best,
    rich

    Reply

  29. David says:

    MartinJB,
    Thank you for the correction. I did misunderstand that point.
    Your comment actually reflects my greatest frustration with the general state of the media. We cannot get consistent, comprehensive news about important events (and the realities in the Gaza Strip are very important), crippling our ability to understand, at least those of us who really want to understand and realize that all too often we don’t because we don’t really have sufficient undistorted facts.
    TWN is, for me, one of the most important sources of consistent, comprehensive news about important events, together with a broad range of analysis and commentary by informed folk driven by intellectual honesty and a desire for legitimate insights. Those last two descriptors certainly capture for me what Steve Clemons and TWN are all about.
    Steve, I would miss the comments section. I have gained some very useful perspectives from some of the commenters, some of whom are clearly very well informed and excellent thinkers, simply speed reading past whatever seems unhelpful in trying to understand the topic at hand.
    And down here on the edge of the Green Swamp, served by the Orlando Sentinel and what passes for broadcast news in Central Florida, I deeply appreciate TWN, Talking Points Memo, Juan Cole’s Informed Comment, and Tom Engelhardt’s website, to mention ones I find most helpful.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, like you, some of us call it as we see it. I cannot help but believe that inwardly you fully recognize the double standard of which I speak. I cannot begin to fathom the motives behind your participation in the advancement of such blatant hypocricy, nor can I bring myself to attach sinister intention to your efforts. I respect you too much. I tend to think you are caught up in the epic nature of events in Iran, and your enthusiasum for being in the center of history has blinded you to how one-sided the TWN content has been this past week.
    It would be a real loss for some of us should you decide to lose the comment section, as I am sure many of your readers would agree. And of course, I realize too there are some that would laud your discontinuation of the comment section; people like Bolton, the two Liebermans, Gonzales, Wolfowitz……
    Like you say, its your blog. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.
    All the best to you.

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    Oh, I see that Steve has already come to his own defense on the Leveretts.
    Just a few remarks on this whole issue of foreign interference in Iran:
    First, the reformists is Iran are a major and authentic political voice in that country with deep ideological roots leading back to unresolved tensions and disputes dating from the very beginning of the Iranian revolution. Khatami, remember, was elected and re-elected as the President of Iran, both times with with large majorities despite much establishment support for his conservative opponents. These opponents were only able to put the brakes on the reformist movement by disqualifying the reformist candidates in 2005, leading to Ahmadinejad’s victory in a lower-turnout election. I believe Ahmadinejad did subsequently expand his popularity and base of support through a variety of populist economic measures, to the extent that we can’t really know who would have won a clean election in Iran, but the reformist movement is still very potent.
    Khatami, and now Mousavi, represent many millions of Iranians, and the aspiration for a form of Islamic republicanism that is no mere affectation for American-style liberality and secularism. Khatami, Mousavi and other reformists needed no foreign tutelage to understand how to turn a disputed election into a deeper challenge to the ruling clerical bloc of more authoritarian and conservative theocrats. They are not CIA or Massad stooges, and to represent them as such is to underestimate them severely.
    Now all that said, it can’t be doubted that there has been attempted foreign covert subversion in Iran. The existence of these efforts have been openly and widely reported in mainstream news sources. What is the extent of these efforts? It is hard to say … because they are covert! What the reformers are trying to do right now is separate themselves politically from any taint or hint of western influence or covert subversion. They are hindered a bit in this effort by many Americans on both the left and right, who seem eager either to intervene more actively, or tie the entire reformists movement to the most Americanized elements in Iran.
    Andrew Sullivan, in some of his more recent posts, seems finally to be getting this.
    WigWag might be right that a recount is now impossible. But a change in the Leadership, followed by a re-vote, is not.

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But, POA’s statement that “What is occurring in Iran occurs almost daily in the West Bank and Gaza” needs to be sourced”
    Well, besides the obvious fact that “sourcing” is difficult in regards to Israeli abuses, as most media outlets refuse to report them, (google “Tristan Anderson”, and note the absence of MSM reporting on an American citizen gunned down while erngaged in peaceful protest), the statistics speak for themselves.
    -123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,487 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.
    -1,072 Israelis and at least 6,348 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.
    -8,864 Israelis and 39,019 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.
    -1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 10,756 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.
    http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/
    I stand by my statement that the Palestinians are supressed, dehumanized, abused, murdered, maimed, starved, supressed, and intimidated on a DAILY basis. Your denials of the gravity of their treatment are illustrative of the double standard of which I speak.
    Eyewitness reports of the protests in Iran tell of protesters throwing rocks at the Iranian police, and depicts them as heroes. In Israel, throwing a rock at an Israeli soldier or policeman will likely get you killed, as many dead Palestinian youths would attest to were they still breathing. It is ironic that we make heroes of rock throwing youths in Iran, and label as “terrorists” rock throwing youths in Gaza.
    As I have clearly stated here, there is an undeniable double standard here that is truly despicable, and that underscores just how little this truly has to do with respect for human rights or genuine sympathy for the Iranian people. I haven’t seen you nattering hypocrites lamenting Israels hew and cry about the need for military strikes on the Iranians, or the imposition of crippling sanctions, that almost ALWAYS punish the people instead of the targeted regime. And what about the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, murdered in a war of choice entered into with lies, propaganda, and transparent exagerations?
    There is an obvious “agenda” behind the hype, and it has NOTHING to do with human rights. Once again, our leaders have embarked us upon a covert campaign of overthrow, that, if past such campaigns can be used as a gauge, will end in mayhem, huge loss of life, and the creation of yet one more puppet regime that will ultimately turn on us and be used to justify one more “hot” military intervention.
    We seem to be a nation of complete and utter fuckin’ idiots, whose leaders keep using the same con game on, over and over, ad nauseum. Here we go again, sans the vaseline. What the hell, they didn’t need a lubricant last time, why use one now? After all, it doesn’t hurt THAT bad, does it?

    Reply

  33. samuelburke says:

    In keeping with the spirit of the age…americans are starting to look under the hood of our republican democracy and want to be more aware of what is at bay.
    the mainstream media has been discredited in the eyes of most americans as evidenced by the demise of the newspapers and the credibility of the nation cable tv media.
    the tilt to the internet and to blogs that present unfiltered data are becoming the goto places for americans who want to stay informed.
    zeitgeist 2009.

    Reply

  34. JohnH says:

    Wigwag–I don’t attribute the results to US government actions. But I do believe that the US government has had some role in it and has a clear preference as to the outcome.
    You say, “these people never actually examine what much of that aid was for.” That’s because much of the aid, particularly the good stuff, is classified. The $400 million in black ops is also classified. So in fact we will never know what role the US government played in the election. Or in orchestrating the widespread media coverage of it.
    All we can say for sure is that with $400 million to spend in Iran, the CIA was not sitting idly, twiddling its thumbs.

    Reply

  35. plschwartz says:

    RE:CIA
    There are two points here that are being confused.
    1. That there was CIA money to overthrow the current regime.
    2. That there is a major uprising uprising in progress.
    What is missing is any evidence that 1>2. A belief in this connection suggests that we are always at the mercy of strong, possibly sinister figures, who actually control what happens in the world. And that all those one the streets of Terehan are mere puppets of that sinister force.
    The psychological understanding of this mindset I leave to the reader

    Reply

  36. WigWag says:

    1) Steve Clemons has alluded to the position of the Leveretts in more than one post over the last couple of weeks.
    2) Steve Clemons will be joining a panel discussion with the Leverett’ tomorrow that will be webcasted at the Washington Note.
    3) Juan Cole, Nate Silver (Fivethrityeight), Roger Cohen and others have convincingly obliterated the Leverett’s thesis.
    4) The accuracy of the vote count is no longer the crucial question. If Iran wanted the vote count to seem legitimate they could have permitted international observers (they didn’t) or allowed candidates to have poll watchers scrutinize the counting (routine in most democracies); they didn’t.
    5) The fact that such a large number of Iranians believe the election was fraudulent is critical. An election that most citizens think is illegitimate is illegitimate regardless of the actual vote count. If the legitimacy of governmental institutions is such that the people don’t trust the government to run a fair election, there was no democracy in the first place.
    6) The regimes brutal behavior since the election robs the regime of any legitimacy that a fair vote count might have provided them.
    7) At this point a recount is impossible. In every democracy with a close election a prerequisite for a fair recount is universal belief that the ballots were secure and not tampered with in the period preceding the recount. This is no longer possible in Iran.

    Reply

  37. rich says:

    Franklin,
    Both things can be true: a too-early announcement of the election outcome (by both sides) does not preclude well-documented U.S. actions to destablize Iran. That the process may’ve been manipulated by Ahmadinejad’s backers does not justify U.S. action to steal the election via covert ops, cash, disinformation.
    Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett are hardly conspiracy theorists; they’re pros. Their expertise on this is undeniable. One thing they pointed out was how much support Ahmadinejad has among minorities, how well he performed in recent debates in appealing to them–and how badly these factors were discounted by analysts who ‘predicted’ a loss or neck-n-neck race.
    The Leveretts:
    “Some “Iran experts” argue that Mousavi’s Azeri background and “Azeri accent” mean that he was guaranteed to win Iran’s Azeri-majority provinces; since Ahmadinejad did better than Mousavi in these areas, fraud is the only possible explanation.”
    “But Ahmadinejad himself speaks Azeri quite fluently as a consequence of his eight years serving as a popular and successful official in two Azeri-majority provinces; during the campaign, he artfully quoted Azeri and Turkish poetry — in the original — in messages designed to appeal to Iran’s Azeri community. (And we should not forget that the supreme leader is Azeri.) The notion that Mousavi was somehow assured of victory in Azeri-majority provinces is simply not grounded in reality.”
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23745.html
    Among other assumptions, the idea that political fractures along electoral lines and that Achmadinejad’s popularity is partly determined by ethnic identity, has led to errors in thinking about voting behavior and mistakes in interpreting election results.
    Franklin writes:
    “For those who want to defend the validity of hand-count of tens of millions of ballots . . . .
    If a person wants to . . . [identify] foreign causes.”
    Again, repressive governments reap what they sow, and no one’s saying Iran’s leadership is sweetness & light or isnt’ in need of reform. But that doesn’t mean U.S. did not engage in disinformation & covert ops. We did. And whatever Iran’s mistakes, it is an internal matter; it’s the business of Iran’s political process, not ours. An early announcement by both candidates is hardly definitive either way of the eventual vote-count.
    As to the integrity of the election, I give you the Leveretts:
    “With regard to electoral irregularities, the specific criticisms made by Mousavi — such as running out of ballot paper in some precincts and not keeping polls open long enough (even though polls stayed open for at least three hours after the announced closing time) — could not, in themselves, have tipped the outcome so clearly in Ahmadinejad’s favor.”
    “Moreover, these irregularities do not, in themselves, amount to electoral fraud even by American legal standards. And, compared with the U.S. presidential election in Florida in 2000, the flaws in Iran’s electoral process seem less significant.”
    That was written early on. What facts we are given must be scrutinized.

    Reply

  38. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve did cite and comment on the Leverett’s analysis a few days ago.

    Reply

  39. Steve Clemons says:

    Folks — some of your comments about my differences with
    Flynt are uninformed. You guys are such backseat drivers about
    what should or should not be on my blog that you really ought
    to consider running your own – and maintaining a full time job
    at the same time doing something else. I have spoken in many
    media outlets and also written here at TWN about the split inside
    the New America Foundation about this issue of the Iran
    elections. I have invited all of you to watch LIVE a discussion
    that will involve myself and Flynt — as well as others – on
    Monday afternoon. Your dismissive comments about whether
    my credibility rises or falls because I believe that this election
    was fraudulent and Flynt thinks that there are bigger fish to fry
    are silly. I have stated over and over that the issue here is not
    that I think the elections were fraudulent, a substantial portion
    of the Iranian Republic does. The events going on today there
    were not engineered by outsiders –but rather animated by
    power brokers inside the highest levels of the Islamic Republic.
    Anyway, glad to see healthy discussion — but I must say that I
    work a bit too hard on all of this to read some of the BS that you
    folks are writing here…when I am publicly engaged with Flynt
    Leverett in many arenas on exactly the issues that you say I am
    avoiding with him. You need to broaden yourselves and grow
    up. I will keep blogging — but I am getting less and less
    interested in the commenters and the toxic nature of some of
    what you post. I may go to a comment-less format for a while.
    We’ll see.
    best, steve clemons

    Reply

  40. WigWag says:

    I went back and read the detailed statement from Larijani that Dan Kervick kindly provided the link for.
    Not surprisingly Larijani blames the United States and Great Britain for the problems Iran is currently confronting. That was to be expected.
    But what is surprising is how many Washington Note readers buy into his nonsense. On thread after thread we have people commenting who suggest that the current “uprising” in Iran has its etiology in CIA, the Institute for Democracy or MI-5 covert operations meant to destabilize the regime.
    Of course these people never actually examine what much of that aid was for. The fact that much of it was devoted to things like teaching people to monitor elections, for workshops on press freedom and similar enterprises may seem nefarious to people inclined to mistrust everything the United States does while expressing sympathy for the fascist clerical establishment in Iran.
    But at the very least, one would have thought that these Khameni apologists would not be so brazen as to imply that the men, women and children putting their lives at risk for their freedom were dupes of the Americans.
    That’s precisely the inevitable implication of the suggestion that the current crisis was fomented by the United States. The people who are putting life, limb and property at risk are not doing it to protect American interests or Israeli interests; they’re doing it to protect their own interests. And it is nothing but cultural imperialism and extraordinary arrogance for interested observers at the Washington Note to imply that they have a better sense of the cause of the current Iranian crisis than the Iranians do.
    But maybe that arrogance really isn’t that surprising after all. Washington Note readers who attribute the current Iranian crisis to meddling by the west really couldn’t care less about what happens to Iranians on either side of the political divide. They don’t care about women in Iran; they don’t care about gay people in Iran; they don’t care about the Baha’is and they don’t care about what happens to Iranians who wish to live a secular lifestyle. All they really care about is insuring that Iran remains belligerent and thus advances their bizarre notions of what the Middle East should look like.
    The real irony is that it’s not the Iranian students being beaten who are the dupes of the Americans. Its Washington Note readers who complain about covert American interference who are dupes of the Iranian clerics.
    They have become a caricature of everything they claim to be against.

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As for The Washington Note’s coverage of Iran and glaring omission of the Leveretts’ analysis: this is the first time I’ve been disappointed with TWN’s editorial decisions”
    Ditto. The TWN “reporting” and “analysis” of this situation has seriously damaged the credibility of this blog. The manner in which this event has been covered here exhibits obvious bias and propagandizing.

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    The debate here is getting good.
    Here’s additional fuel from Paul Craig Roberts, a n Assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan administration:
    “The American public might never know whether the Iranian election was legitimate or stolen. The US media serves as a propaganda device, not as a purveyor of truth. Election fraud is certainly a possibility — it happens even in America — and signs of fraud have appeared. Large numbers of votes were swiftly counted, which raises the question whether votes were counted or merely a result was announced.
    The US media’s response to the election was equally rapid. Having invested heavily in demonizing Ahmadinejad, the media are unwilling to accept election results that vindicate Ahmadinejad and declared fraud in advance of evidence, despite the pre-election poll results published in the June 15 Washington Post, which found Ahmadinejad to be the projected winner.
    There are many American interest groups that have a vested interest in the charge that the election was rigged. What is important to many Americans is not whether the election was fair, but whether the winner’s rhetoric is allied with their goals.”
    http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_4823.shtml
    And if you dig deeper, and consider the motivations of foreign policy elites whose jobs are funded by powerful American economic interests, then you would conclude that what is important to them is not whether the election was fair, but whether the winner’s interests are more closely aligned with their interests than the current regime.
    The media hypes the grievances of the protesters for a reason. And it’s not just because it’s a compelling story. There are lots of compelling stories that lie in the trash bin.

    Reply

  43. Dan Kervick says:

    No problem WigWag. I think we should note that Gerecht and others at AEI and the Weekly Standard were full of confidence back in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that we were seeing the dawning of a “secularization” of the Middle East, and they have consistently overrated the appeal of American-style liberalism and modernism in the region. This heralded westernization and liberalization never seems to occur, and still seems confined to a few cosmopolitan elites.
    Here is what Gerecht was arguing in 2001, even before 9/11:
    http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraq-20010514.htm
    The above-cited article contains this quote:
    “In January 1999, Foreign Affairs published a high-profile attack on the INC, “Can Saddam Be Toppled?” by Daniel Byman, Kenneth Pollack, and Gideon Rose. It left the impression that Ahmad Chalabi is definitely not the man to lead the opposition, let alone the nation, out of the totalitarian abyss, portraying him as an ineffectual leader, devoid of the eminence necessary to draw disparate Iraqis together. Yet Chalabi may be ideal for the task, for the very reasons that often cause critics to trash him. He is rich, upper class (in the old-world sense), well educated, highly Westernized, an expatriate, and, last but not least, a Shi’ite Arab.”
    This is just one example of many misleading words written back in those days about the power of Chalabi’s form of “secular Shiism” and the influence of American ideals in the Middle East.
    I suspect we can easily err in this situation if we overestimate the degree to which the reformist opposition in Iran is represented by the young protesters and revolutionaries in the streets yesterday, and the degree to which any of this is represented by some general wave of secularism across Iran, at least in anything close to the way we understand that concept.

    Reply

  44. MartinJB says:

    David,
    you misunderstand. POA made a claim that I think goes well beyond the facts when it comes to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. And believe me, I hate what’s going on there. When I lived in Israel (during the 1988 Intifada) I went on protest marches in Tel Aviv. I remember soldiers coming back from duty in the West Bank just broken up and damaged over what they saw and were involved in. I don’t support any of the mainstream Jewish charities because of their unquestioning support of Israel.
    But, POA’s statement that “What is occurring in Iran occurs almost daily in the West Bank and Gaza” needs to be sourced (and that was the ONLY part of his post that I chose to question). Given his response to me, I’d say it pretty obviously was an inflammatory exaggeration. And that helps neither side.
    –MartinJB

    Reply

  45. MartinJB says:

    POA,
    “You do not believe that the Palestinian people suffer abuses, the indignity of occupation, and active suppression by the Israeli military and police on a daily basis? Than you are simply not paying attention.”
    Are you kidding me? If you lump all those things together, then of course the answer is “yes”. But that’s not what we’re talking about in Iran just now. Are we seeing Palestinians being murdered by security forces on a daily (or even almost daily) basis in Israel? THAT’s what you implied earlier.
    So, in answer to my own question from earlier, I’d say your statement was POA being POA, just throwing inflammatory rhetoric out there. Enjoy! You too are part of the problem.
    –MartinJB

    Reply

  46. Franklin says:

    For those who want to defend the validity of hand-count of tens of millions of ballots over the span of a couple hours, I recommend the following Iranian propaganda video.
    It’s truly hilarious:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLY7OH1FJlQ
    If a person wants to don the tin-foil hat and insist on foreign causes to avoid responsibility for self-generated domestic difficulties, why go half-way?
    And as far as a three week election cycle in Iran goes: Of course we can’t explain event outcomes based on the fact that there are hardline mullahs who are multi-millionaire and at least one reformist mullah who is a billionaire — who are more than capable on their own of financing the major campaigns of their favorite candidate(s) over a three week campaign cycle.
    We need an external justification.
    We need an external explanation?
    I wonder how many of the people alleging U.S., U.K. interference are the same kind of folks that insisted that Barack HUSSEIN Obama was really a “secret Communist Muslim”; and that he was “really” being funded by millions of $5 and $10 donations from Hamas members in Gaza; or that his speeches involved subliminal messages written by his Muslim-Chinese benefactors.
    Perhaps all of the foreign interest in the U.S. election last year was due to all the foreign money and foreign security services that were interfering with the U.S. presidential campaign season last year?
    Of course, it’s impossible that the interest overseas developed organically based on human curiosity.
    Or maybe it’s just that paranoids and conspiracy nut-jobs can find a place to express their lunatic theories in both repressive regimes and free nations?
    In repressive regimes the paranoids and conspiracy nuts tend to float to the top (it comes with the territory); in democratic states, they usually sink to the bottom. In rare cases, in free societies, they may later turn out to be vindicated, but in the case of hand counting tens of millions of ballots in a couple hours, I wouldn’t wager on it in this instance.

    Reply

  47. WigWag says:

    Thanks for correcting me angles81 and Dan. Sorry I got the attribution wrong.

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag,
    That quote is from Reuel Marc Gerecht, not Sullivan. Sullivan posted it on his website but cited Gerecht. This is the op-ed that was being cited:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/opinion/21gerecht.html
    By the way, Larijani has criticized unnamed members of the Guardian Council for appearing to take sides in the disputed election:
    http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-06-21-voa4.cfm

    Reply

  49. angels81 says:

    Arun, first off, Andrew Sullivan did not write what was posted here, he was just reporting what was written by Reuel Marc Gerecht.

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    That’s a strange reaction, Arun. Who cares what political philosophy he used to adhere to or adheres to now?
    Either the words he wrote make sense or they don’t. Either you agree with them or you don’t.
    I think the case he makes is pretty compelling even though I don’t like him much either.

    Reply

  51. Arun says:

    Andrew Sullivan is a reformed neocon. And until he allows comments on his blog (like The Washington Note does!) I don’t trust him, no matter how good his writing is.

    Reply

  52. samuelburke says:

    Is This the Culmination of Two Years of Destabilization
    Are the Iranian Protests Another US Orchestrated “Color Revolution?”
    By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
    A number of commentators have expressed their idealistic belief in the purity of Mousavi, Montazeri, and the westernized youth of Terhan. The CIA destabilization plan, announced two years ago (see below) has somehow not contaminated unfolding events.
    The claim is made that Ahmadinejad stole the election, because the outcome was declared too soon after the polls closed for all the votes to have been counted. However, Mousavi declared his victory several hours before the polls closed. This is classic CIA destabilization designed to discredit a contrary outcome. It forces an early declaration of the vote. The longer the time interval between the preemptive declaration of victory and the release of the vote tally, the longer Mousavi has to create the impression that the authorities are using the time to fix the vote. It is amazing that people don’t see through this trick.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts06192009.html
    Commentators are “explaining” the Iran elections based on their own illusions, delusions, emotions, and vested interests. Whether or not the poll results predicting Ahmadinejad’s win are sound, there is, so far, no evidence beyond surmise that the election was stolen. However, there are credible reports that the CIA has been working for two years to destabilize the Iranian government.
    On May 23, 2007, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News: “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell ABC News.”
    On May 27, 2007, the London Telegraph independently reported: “Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.”
    A few days previously, the Telegraph reported on May 16, 2007, that Bush administration neocon warmonger John Bolton told the Telegraph that a US military attack on Iran would “be a ‘last option’ after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed.”
    On June 29, 2008, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker: “Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.”
    The protests in Tehran no doubt have many sincere participants. The protests also have the hallmarks of the CIA orchestrated protests in Georgia and Ukraine. It requires total blindness not to see this.
    Daniel McAdams has made some telling points. For example, neoconservative Kenneth Timmerman wrote the day before the election that “there’s talk of a ‘green revolution’ in Tehran.” How would Timmerman know that unless it was an orchestrated plan? Why would there be a ‘green revolution’ prepared prior to the vote, especially if Mousavi and his supporters were as confident of victory as they claim? This looks like definite evidence that the US is involved in the election protests.
    Timmerman goes on to write that “the National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars promoting ‘color’ revolutions . . . Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.” Timmerman’s own neocon Foundation for Democracy is “a private, non-profit organization established in 1995 with grants from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to promote democracy and internationally-recognized standards of human rights in Iran.”

    Reply

  53. Paul Norheim says:

    From the New York Times today:
    “Iranian state television reported Sunday that the government had arrested five members of the family of Ali Akbar
    Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who heads two influential councils in Iran. Mr. Rafsanjani, one of the fathers of
    the revolution, has been locked in a power struggle with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and worked
    closely with the reform movement during the presidential election. The arrests could not be independently verified, but
    they would represent an escalation of the government’s crackdown.
    The televison report identified one of those arrested as Mr. Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, but did not identify
    the others. A Web site associated with the reform movement said they were accused of provoking people.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/world/middleeast/22iran.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

    Reply

  54. WigWag says:

    Speaking of Khamenei’s “mystique” being shattered, this is from Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish:
    “Until now, the Islamic Republic has had a propaganda heyday among devout Arabs, depicting itself as a virtuous state with a workable level of democracy — just enough to give the regime legitimacy and stability. Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s Parliament and the wicked genius behind the crushing of the reform movement during Mr. Khatami’s presidency, loves to emphasize Iran’s democracy when he travels abroad, always highlighting America’s preference for secular dictatorships.
    Now the clerical regime can no longer make this argument. As Iranians have come to know theocracy intimately, secularism has become increasingly attractive. Iran now produces brilliant clerics who argue in favor of the separation of church and state as a means of saving the faith from corrupting power.”

    Reply

  55. rich says:

    I concur: Clemons omits the Leverett’s point that electoral fraud is unproven. Not an accident.
    Disinformation re who expected to win vs. the actual vote count is standard CIA practice. U.S. intel/CIA injected massive volumes of cash into opposition party coffers, and that effort would span American media outlets’ acceptance of the possibly false meme that this election was stolen. Manufactured event results in real crisis–and the U.S. is in many respects responsible.
    Iran’s police state is brutal; it does not follow that Ahmadinejad lost the election. At this point, nobody knows.
    Steve’s failure to address Flynt Leverett’s & Hillary Mann Leverett’s article is significant. The Leveretts point out that our condemnation is based on a false idea of who was popular and who was likely to win. Ahmadinejad was far more popular and far more likely to win than Clemons, the U.S. media, or Iranian opposition figures choose to admit.
    If the Leveretts are right — and Steve Clemons respects them to such a degree that I believe they are correct in saying Ahmadinejad won the election — then what we are seeing is another U.S.-manufactured coup.
    See “…’s” link:
    Meddling
    By: emptywheel Saturday June 20, 2009 9:40 am
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/06/20/meddling/
    Also worth noting is the DC Establishment & U.S. media silence & lack of outrage regarding:
    — the violent & unprovoked police crackdown on American citizens at the RNC convention in Minneapolis;
    — the DC police clubbing American citizens in Lafayette Park who were civilly protesting the illegal & dishonest decision to invade & occupy Iran;
    — near-zero outrage re the contradiction between (statistically certain) exit polls vs. vote tallies in Ohio in 2004, which gave Bush a highly questionable victory. Dead silence. Mustn’t speak of that. Poor form. Nor any real condemnation from the respectable right re the lawlessness of John Bolton shouting ‘I’m here to stop the counting of votes!’ in 2000.
    — the casual use of tazers by police when free citizens exercise free speech, i.e., simply for obeying orders.
    — The broader, ongoing abuse of power inflicted against America by military-paramilitary forces.
    Bottom line is this action will not earn American oil or construction companies contracts in Iranian oil fields. Contracts are already signed by Chinese & other companies. It’s too late to divide up the spoils like we did in Iraq.
    _____
    As for The Washington Note’s coverage of Iran and glaring omission of the Leveretts’ analysis: this is the first time I’ve been disappointed with TWN’s editorial decisions. I’ve never second-guessed it before; what we’re seeing is a second failure of the Washington establishment to reign in policy mechanisms that’ve been proven, through heavy documentation in the past eight years (but stretching out before that), to be devastating to American national security and our broader global interests. There is no shortage of shame attached to that.
    There’s no question Iran deserves a more humane government and a more open society. But as the Leveretts’ ably point out, American meddling to subvert an election cannot bring about greater democracy.
    Nor can an American government, through more repressive-abusive domestic policies and through more illegal-unaccountable foreign policies, bring about greater freedom and democracy in Iran. Of course, that isn’t the point. Like David Ignatius asserting that Dick Cheney “wouldn’t have used [torture’ if it didn’t work,” where the point was never to get information, here it’s to destroy truth and self-governance, and with it internal movement towards liberty. It’s to intimidate and strike terror into Iran’s defensive structures generally. Which again explains why David Ignatius wasn’t fit to mediate between Scowcroft & Brzezinski: he knows what torture is for and that it doesn’t get results. Yet he elides the issue to slough off the relevance of torture to the body politic and to the legitimacy of American decisions.
    Steve Clemons has called Ahmadinejad & Khamenei thugs. I don’t disagree. But a thug is a thug. And David Ignatius & Addington are thugs by that same standard; as are the armored police at the RNC; as are Americans who torture and work to destabilize Iran. Thugs. Only diseased fruit can come from nation that uses flatly brutal, undemocratic and illegal means to produce (supposedly) democratic objectives. It just doesn’t work that way, and the historical record is littered with documenations of our past failures in that regard.

    Reply

  56. casualspectator says:

    Hi Steve,
    I usually concur with your insightful assessments
    on your blog, especially when it comes to ME
    issues. However, it seems that you allege election
    fraud in Iran as a foregone conclusion. I’m no
    expert on the matter either, but to me it looks
    like Ahmadinejad may just have won the election
    with as large a margin as proclaimed. There are
    indicators that this at least is possible.
    I do believe that Western secret services are
    working around the clock to foment a EE type
    colored revolution in Iran with regime change at
    the top of their agenda.
    Just because people are on the streets doesn’t
    mean they right.

    Reply

  57. bob h says:

    Khamenei’s Friday speech, with its weeping at the end and implicit call for violence to avenge his hurt feelings, was one of the sickest performances I have ever seen-worthy of Hitler or Stalin. To say that this sick little man has lost his ‘mystique” is a bit of an understatement.

    Reply

  58. Franklin says:

    Anon 2:30 PM,
    Of course all three are at play.
    I would define #1 less as “democracy” and more as “domestic Iranian politics”. Doves and Hawks and in-between understand this. The outcome of the election cycle could mean an Iran that is more engaged with the world — particularly the west — or one that is likely to be more closed off and hostile.
    The human face on the story too is one that people identify with. In the recent past the public face of Iran has been Ahamdinejad and the “Mad Mullahs”. The images over the past week + have put a more human face on the country — even if it is largely a Tehran-centric one.
    In terms of press coverage — especially in visual media — conflict by its nature drives news coverage.
    The images of hundreds of thousands marching in defiance of local authorities are powerful in a manner not unlike the pictures of mass protests in Tienanmen Square or the celebrations at the Berlin Wall. The mass crowds in Mexico City were impressive, but the threat of a crackdown didn’t loom over the proceedings as is the case in Tehran. As mayor of Mexico City, Obrador’s supporters did not risk imprisonment for their public display. The stakes are much different in Iran.
    In reference to #2 this would seem to apply to the Mexican election too, or for that matter the Canadian elections. Yet, as JohnH accurately notes, neither generated the same attention.
    I would add #4 — novelty. A semi-closed off culture glimpsed in a new light is typically going to be a more interesting story for average viewers than covering a society that is largely open, known, and understood. It’s a kind of exposee writ large.

    Reply

  59. ... says:

    corrections from steve clemons that need to be noted by those relying heavily on twitter info..
    >>NOTE FROM STEVE CLEMONS:
    PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE RECEIVED INFORMATION DIRECTLY FROM THE BRITISH EMBASSY THAT THEY HAVE NOT TAKEN IN INJURED PROTESTERS. THERE IS SOME LEVEL OF MISINFORMATION FLOODING THROUGH TWITTER WITH REGARD TO THE EMBASSIES. I DO NOT HAVE INFORMATION ON ANY EMBASSIES EXCEPT THE UK — AND KNOW WHAT I PREVIOUSLY WROTE BELOW IS WRONG.
    THERE MAY BE ACCIDENTAL REPORTING OUT THERE — OR MISLEADING “TWITTER FRAUD”.

    Reply

  60. ... says:

    johnh – i think iran is a more compelling story not just for what the media is or isn’t willing to cover, but for what it has covered and built up over the recent past… the constant media coverage on iran possibly attaining nuclear power/weapons, the saber rattling from israel towards iran who coincidentally have shown no remorse in waging war as witnessed in gaza earlier this year, along with the constant talk of imposing sanctions on iran, which have already been applied in the past year, leaves one to conclude the fix is in.. indeed all the focus is on iran by the powers that be….perhaps we need to wonder how much the powers that be have to do with democracy, and just how much of democracy is actually a facade to fool the majority into thinking they have something when in fact they have very little if any say in matters that have great relevancy to us all…
    speaking of democracy, it would be ideal if we were to have some of it with regard to who gets to decide whether we would like more war on the planet or not…in usa’s war on iraq, the usa choose to ignore getting approval from the un body, as the usa under bush apparently knew best… with iran we are in a similar situation with the world powers, usa, china and russia all vying for what?
    this is a multiple trick question :
    1)democracy
    2)oil
    3)proliferation of armaments
    many readers here seem to make the quick assumption that all of this is for answer #1… some of us more cynical types look immediately to #2 and 3…
    regardless, i think you are correct in noting the imbalance of news coverage as it relates to world events, but i think you miss out the obvious conclusion one has to make which would also explain it – the motion towards iran has been set up and moving along in a particular direction for some time.. the war in iraq helped moved it along more quickly and all of this dovetails with an agenda that i personally think has very little to do with democracy and much more to do with #2 and 3….

    Reply

  61. Franklin says:

    Top-rated host is a relative term.
    Donahue’s viewer tally was less than 500,000 a night on MSNBC. Most nights it was just north of 300,000. And his demo was older, which typically means fewer ad dollars than the equivalent for a host pulling in 300,000 viewers for the 18-29 demo (and even that would still probably get a host canned). It is likely that Donahue’s politics had something to do with it too, but if he was pulling in 2 mill. a night, or was the top-rated host on cable news rather than just MSNBC there’s a good chance that his employer would have ridden out the storm.
    The 2006 Mexican elections coincided with a U.S. election and the Iraq War. Part of coverage has to do with timing. The story largely petered out by August 2006. Legal disputes don’t make for compelling coverage. But I do remember seeing the protests in Mexico city.
    Some research on the subject http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/7/2/1/1/p172116_index.html:
    “This content analysis examined U.S. newspaper preelection coverage of the 2006 Mexican presidential elections and the new July 2005 Mexican expatriate voting laws. Based on second-level agenda setting and framing theories, the authors performed a quantitative analysis of 161 articles and a qualitative analysis of 36 articles in U.S. newspapers from August 2005 through April 15, 2006. Findings indicated that Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador received more coverage (59.6%) than Felipe Calderon (29.1%) or Roberto Madrazo (27.8%). Candidate attributes were highlighted more than Mexican domestic or Mexico-U.S. issues. The dominant procedural frame was the election horse race. The main substantive frame was the election as an extension of U.S.-Mexico economic relations and an extension of Latin American leftist/populist movements. The expatriate voting law was characterized as unsuccessful because of apathetic voters, the Mexican government’s faulty implementation, and a corrupt system.”
    Even Mexican ex-pats were apathetic about the Mexican election heading into the election. That wasn’t the case with the Iranian election.
    Something was different this time around for voters even than the 2005 election.
    Of course there are compelling stories that don’t get coverage.
    The Thailand elections may have had some interest. The ex-pat community is a factor e.g. in the U.S. alone there’s a 10 to 1 difference in size of the two ex-pat communities. I imagine the numbers are comparable — if not larger — in Europe. Foreign policy interests are a factor.
    As far as government preferences go, do you think Nico Pitney at HuffPost or Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic or even the NY Times Lede are covering the story simply because they are interested in currying favor with government officials?
    My sense is that they — like many of their readers — are interested in the story, because it is a compelling story that is easy to understand on some level. The issues at stake aren’t entirely abstract.

    Reply

  62. JohnH says:

    Franklin said, “Ultimately, for-profit news channels follow their viewership.” Which is why MSNBC fired its top rated host, Phil Donohue, after he raised questions about the invasion of Iraq. Something other than profits sure seemed to be at play–maybe government preferences?
    And why would government preferences not be at work in the decision to hype the protests in Iran? After all, if the Western media did not focus attention on the grievances of the protesters, nobody would care. This is exactly what happened in the contested Mexican and Thai elections. But in the case of Iran, government foreign policy circles want you to care. It’s part of the drive to demonize the regime and call for its change.
    Sure, you can argue that viewers find the protests in Iran a compelling story, which they are. But the contested elections in Thailand and Mexico would have been equally compelling stories if they had been allowed to air.

    Reply

  63. David says:

    POA,
    I hate making mistakes like that. All I can say is I am truly sorry for that screw up.
    I agree that our “regard for human rights” is pretty much bullshit, except when it serves our political interests. Not only has there never been consistent support for human rights by the United States, we historically all too often either directly engaged in or aided and abetted some of the most egregious violations of basic human rights: Viet Nam, the Contra War, bombing the Chorillo District of Panama City because we were pissed off that Noriega was no longer our puppet, the invasion of Iraq, and going back, the Phillipines during the Spanish-American War, and before that the fate of Native Americans at the hands of our forebears.
    And for chrissake, it was during my college days that the federal government finally started dragging my Southland screaming and kicking out of its inhumane apartheid self. And we still refuse to recognize fully the human rights of gays. No, a universal national commitment to human rights at home and abroad does not yet define the United States or its government, and it sure as hell does not define Israel, especially now as Likud & Co. seek to fully disenfranchise Palestinian Israelis as they also seek to take all of the geography worth having in the Occupied Territories with their illegal settlements. And we and Israel have a hell of a lot of company everywhere on the planet. The only good news is that as we keep calling for respect for human rights, we find ourselves sometimes honoring them, whether we originally meant to or not.
    MartinJB,
    From my viewpoint and based on what I have been able to learn from various media sources, POA is not “just being POA” when he says what he does about brutalization of the Palestinians by the Israelis. When Jimmy Carter is forced by facts on the ground in the Gaza Strip to be utterly appalled and to say so, it is beyond ugly. And when Jimmy Carter gets villified for speaking pretty obvious truths, it’s pretty clear that both media coverage and White House/Congressional commentary is constricted regarding the transgressions of Israel and other allies or nations whose approval we need, and full-speed-ahead regarding transgressions by regimes we don’t like.
    If you need verification, just start doing some comprehensive research. It can be found. I guess I would be in POA’s corner in the sense that I don’t see how any student of history and current events could not already know these things. If you are just starting your quest, I could understand your comment, except for the attempted jibe about POA just being pissed off. In my case, I’m not pissed off so much as sick at heart over what has been inflicted on the Palestinians since the inception of the modern state of Israel. I do see the Palestinians as to a considerable extent pawns in everyone else’s games, having found themselves since 1948 to be an inconvenience to the allies’ solution to the horrors of the holocaust.

    Reply

  64. kotzabasis says:

    It’s very sad to see Clemons making a mockery of his own facts. He states in one of his previous posts “those who are being BRUTALIZED and RISKING EVERYTHING (m.e.) to challenge Ahmadinejad and his thugs deserve our RESPECT and our NUANCED (m.e.) support.” While Iranians in substantial numbers are opposing a “military dictatorship,” that Clemons himself acknowledges as being so, and for them is an existential issue, for Clemons apparently is an issue of intellectually splitting hairs by his use of the words “respect” and “nuanced.” Ostensibly he is doing this as a political realist who needs to see reality through always ‘nuanced’ binoculars. His fatal error is that by using these binoculars in all circumstances he blows up his political realism to smithereens by not realizing that in a situation where people are engaged in an existential struggle, they do not need “respect” and “nuanced support” but clear open sans nuance UNEQUIVOCAL support.

    Reply

  65. Paul Norheim says:

    When the supreme leader openly declares that he supports one
    candidate, one may ask if this mistake only weakens the supreme
    leader, or if the “loss of aura” even hits the principle of theocracy
    itself.
    If the Assembly of Experts succeeds in removing Khamenei and
    electing someone who is more respected; who is able to position
    himself above the factions (whether this is possible in a credible
    way from now of is an open question), the concept of a supreme
    leader may be saved. If they fail, the loss of aura will also
    threaten the core principle of the political structure. Khamenei
    himself is probably the biggest threat to theocratic rule in Iran
    today.

    Reply

  66. Dan Kervick says:

    I’m guessing an American assassination of Khamenei would be about the only thing that could increase sympathy for him right now. It would also put our forces in Iraq in great danger. My understanding is that most Iraqis don’t like Mousavi because of his role in the Iran-Iraq War, and are more sympathetic to Ahmadinejad. Sadr’s spokesmen have already voiced support Ahmadinejad. Also, Khamenei is a Shiite ayatollah. Even though he is not the majra for many Iraqi Shiites, and is viewed suspiciously there by many people, he is not without Iraqi supporters. My guess is that his murder by infidel Americans would be received as an intolerable outrage, requiring vengeance, even by Iraqi Shiites who don’t like him much.

    Reply

  67. angels81 says:

    fyi, after what has happenend today, this has went beyond Mr. Mousavi. The dead and wounded have moved this protest that started as protests for new election into uncharted waters. This has now become closer to revolution, and not just about an election.

    Reply

  68. rfjk says:

    Mousavi’s Latest Statement: “I Followed Them”
    http://iranfacts.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-translation-of-mousavis-latest.html
    The Iranian people have found their leader and he hasn’t failed them. Whether in the short or long of it, Khamenei and all he represents is finished.

    Reply

  69. Dan Kervick says:

    The Guardian’s take on what happened Saturday is interesting. From the first paragraph of a story posted at 8:00pm BST:
    “The momentum of Iran’s “green revolution” – triggered by allegations of electoral theft earlier this month – appeared to stall today, as thousands of plain clothes and uniformed security officials swamped Tehran, using tear gas and water cannon on a hard core of about 3,000 demonstrators.”

    Reply

  70. fyi says:

    I think Ms. Slavin is wrong.
    I think the game is up in Iran for Mr. Mousavi.
    And I think this will blow over – as already has been.

    Reply

  71. Bill R. says:

    It turns out the claim that the Council of Experts had given “strong support” to Khameini was fraudulent, or at least premature:
    From Huffington Post:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/13/iran-demonstrations-viole_n_215189.html
    “10:05 PM ET — More on the Assembly of Experts statement. Earlier today, the Tehran Times posted an article claiming that the powerful clerical group, the Assembly of Experts, had on Saturday “expressed its ‘strong support’ for the Supreme Leader’s statements on the presidential elections on Friday.” It would have been a major blow to reformists’ efforts to win the support of many senior clerics.
    But as it turns out, it’s not true. Reader Ali writes in:
    I just wanted to point out that the letter of support written by assembly of experts in support of Khamenei’s sermon is only signed by the deputy leader of the assembly, who is a former head of the judiciary and a staunch supporter of ahmadinejad, as well as a rival of Rafsanjani for the assembly’s leadership election. He is the only one signing the letter and the government sponsored news media are reporting it as a letter from the full assembly.
    And reader Majid provides more details:
    Once again thanks for the great job in reporting the events. Just a comment about your 7:33pm item about the Assembly of Experts. The statement is not by the Assembly of Experts, but by Mohammad Yazdi, the head of the “Dabirkhane” of the Assembly of Experts. His statement doesn’t carry much weight and definitely not a blow to the freedom movement. After all, there are certainly many Khamene’i loyalists in the Assembly of Experts and such comments could be expected from these cowards”

    Reply

  72. ... says:

    Iran’s clerics risk losing influence
    Ordinary people lead protests against election outcome
    By Barbara Slavin | Friday, June 19, 2009
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/19/clerics-risk-losing-influence/

    Reply

  73. angels81 says:

    Khamenei and the regime may have overplayed their hand by the use of force. The picture of the young women who was killed has went all over the world. She has become the rallying cry. What started out has a protest for new election, may now have become revolution.

    Reply

  74. Franklin says:

    Dan K.
    Here’s some additional from the source that SC pointed to in his previous post:
    “Other protests took place in Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Mashhad, Rasht and Ahvaz. Protesters were attacked in all the above mentioned cities as well as in other areas of Iran. The situation seemed to be extremely critical in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz, Isfahan and Rasht. There were incidents of violence against protesters in Ahvaz as well. Reports have also come in of protesters lashing back at IRG and Baseej with at least one Baseej base in Tehran being burnt by angry protesters. Molotov bombs have been used during the protests on a wider scale than before by protesters. It has also been confirmed that in Mashhad, a very large number Mullahs accompanied the protesters.”

    Reply

  75. Paul Norheim says:

    “There appeared to be tens of thousands of protesters in Tehran,
    far fewer than the mass demonstrations early last week, most
    likely because of intimidation.” (NYT)

    Reply

  76. Franklin says:

    Dan K.
    Riots took place in Tehran, Tabriz, Mashad, Isfahan, Awaz, and Shiraz. No sense about the size or duration of the protests — the government forces are reported to be using violence in the smaller cities — although at least in Tehran it did not appear to be the default choice in public spaces (i.e. the use of lethal force). No idea what’s happening to those taken into state custody.

    Reply

  77. Michael McDermott says:

    Hi Steve. A couple thoughts.. 1) on the whole it seems Islamic
    Revolutionary Iran has come a long way since 1979, 2) do other
    Islamic countries have televised presidential debates? isn’t this in
    itself a positive development?, and 3) thru the size of the
    demonstrations, doesn’t it seem that the amount of support for a
    more moderate and modern society in Iran is remarkable? It might
    be useful to look at China in 1989. Many of the things the Chinese
    were demonstrating for eventually became reality, because it had
    such broad support… Could this also be possible in Iran? Iran
    seems a very different country than it did in 1979.. To me seeing a
    televised presidential debate and all the modern-looking people on
    the streets of Iran are just as shocking to me as the crackdown..

    Reply

  78. Outraged American says:

    POA and I ARE the same person. We just change genders and
    ISP addresses (located a thousand miles or so apart) every few
    minutes in order to fool Steve into thinking we’re two different
    people.
    If you want a picture of what the Palestinians suffer on a daily
    basis here’s a Palestinian news service that I, pseudo-journalist
    that I am, have found usually accurate:
    http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php
    As I’ve mentioned, one can get news from across the Middle
    East, including Iran, translated into English on a program called
    Mosaic on Link TV:
    http://www.linktv.org/mosaic
    Link also broadcasts and streams Al Jazeera English:
    http://www.linktv.org/programs/al-jazeera-english-world-
    news
    Surprisingly enough, the Israeli papers, probably inadvertently,
    often cop-up to the daily atrocities many Palestinians face:
    http://www.haaretz.com/
    http://www.ynet.co.il/english/home/0,7340,L-3083,00.html
    And Wolf Blitzer’s old outfit, The Jerusalem Post, is always good
    for a laugh, if only because it lauds the settlers’ antics thus
    revealing the scope of the horror visited daily by the settlers on
    the Palestinians:
    http://www.jpost.com/

    Reply

  79. angels81 says:

    It is being reported by CNN, Huffpo, BBC and Andrew Sullivans blog that protesters have been in the streets in Irans three major cities.

    Reply

  80. Dan K says:

    Yes, this revolution has now passed beyond the color revolution stage, and might be moving closer French, Russian and Iranian (1979) territory, though it’s not there yet.
    I think the color revolutions were the model the Iranians were following last week, given the pattern of using a disputed election to get the uprising started, a color theme, etc. I expected the revolutionaries would back down once they hit the wall of an Iranian state that is more powerful and unified than were the states in the former Soviet republics. But the revolutionaries actually have thrown themselves into the breech now. Whether the revolutionaries are eventually crushed or succeed in forcing some change is yet to be determined.
    Have any of the news reports given a picture of how widespread the uprising is? In what cities is it taking place?

    Reply

  81. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I’d never claim that Israel is blameless, but a statement like that needs to be backed up”
    You do not believe that the Palestinian people suffer abuses, the indignity of occupation, and active suppression by the Israeli military and police on a daily basis? Than you are simply not paying attention.
    Tell me, how many peaceful protesters against the separation fence have been injured or killed these last few months? Have you read about any? Seen this posturing fraud Obama mention any? Seen any public outcry like this nauseatingly choreographed bullshit we now have the media stuffing down our throats in regards to Iran?
    This ain’t about human rights. Its about toppling a regime. And the constant advancement of a false motive is despicable. Everytime we do crap like this it ends up being disastrous. I have no doubt that Mousavi is just another opportunist of the Chalabi ilk, and would as soon spit in America’s face than look at us. But he fits neatly into the anti-iran agenda, at this moment. The only question is, if we put him in power, will he shit on us before we shit on him? Thats the way its done these days, isn’t it?

    Reply

  82. WigWag says:

    My recollection is that we didn’t see much cutting off of heads during the various “color revolutions” of the past decade (unless cutting the heads off bronze statues counts).
    On the other hand, from what I’ve read (I am slightly too young to have witnessed it in person)it was the national past time of the French Revolution.
    When the guillotines are rolled out (or the stoning begins) I guess that will be the sign that the Iranians in the 21st century are recapitulating the behavior of the French in the 18th century.

    Reply

  83. Dan Kervick says:

    Slavin:
    steve, iran ceased being an islamic republic a week ago. now it’s just another military dictatorship.
    Steve:
    She is right. And given that collapse of legitimacy and the mystique of the Islamic Revolution, Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those who organized the head-crackers to assault Iran’s citizens will probably have a fragile grasp on their lives from here on out.
    Um…I don’t think it’s as easy as that. Iran is still filled with a lot of people people who risked all for the Islamic Revolution and fought for it its war against Iraq, and lost loved ones in that war. One possibility, something that has happened during revolutions before, is that those parts of the ruling elite and security forces that still have their heads screwed on straight, and who see the writing on the wall for the delegitimized and doomed Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, will declare the latter two men and their coterie “counter-revolutionaries”, and seize power from them in the name of purification of the noble ideals, etc. etc. of the Islamic revolution.
    If powerful people and military leaders flip at just the right moment, they could spark a mass flipping by most of the guards and the Basiji, now eager to get on the side of the good guys, and avoid the inevitable payback from a population that they can no longer control.
    Pandora’s box is now open. Many things are possible. Skin-saving season has just begun. The Iranians haven’t even started the process of cutting each others heads off yet.

    Reply

  84. WigWag says:

    I don’t think very highly or Roger Cohen but he is to be commended for his bravery. Reporting from the streets of Tehran is a dangerous business especially after the threats against foreign journalists. The New York Times is the most high profile newspaper in the world. Leaders of the Revolutionary Guards surely read it and they are undoubtedly aware of the unflattering things Cohen is saying about them. And they almost certainly know where his hotel room is.
    Cohen is putting life and limb at risk in the truest and proudest traditions of journalism. Those who like him and those who don’t should admire his courage.
    I do.

    Reply

  85. MartinJB says:

    POA,
    source this:
    “What is occurring in Iran occurs almost daily in the West Bank and Gaza.”
    I’d never claim that Israel is blameless, but a statement like that needs to be backed up. Or is it just POA being POA?
    –MartinJB

    Reply

  86. ... says:

    Meddling
    By: emptywheel Saturday June 20, 2009 9:40 am
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/06/20/meddling/

    Reply

  87. Franklin says:

    “Cohen, and the genuine Iranian Tweeters, are blind men, each seeing one part of the elephant.”
    Of course. Everyone is in that position.
    The viewpoint that Cohen and some bloggers are presenting might be partial, but we’d be foolish to ignore the vantage point altogether.
    In reference to POA,
    “‘steve, iran ceased being an islamic republic a week ago. now it’s just another military dictatorship’
    Thats the whole idea here, isn’t it? To demonize and isolate the Iranian leadership?”
    Or it could mean what it says.
    e.g. that Iran ceased being an Islamic Republic and has become a military dictatorship over the past week.
    That may actually be an accurate description of what’s taken place over the past week.
    The description doesn’t imply a plan of action — that’s part of the difficulty.

    Reply

  88. PissedOffAmerican says:

    David….
    OA is not POA.
    I AM NOT “OUTRAGED AMERICAN”.
    “OUTRAGED AMERICAN” IS NOT “PISSEDOFFAMERICAN”

    Reply

  89. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “steve, iran ceased being an islamic republic a week ago. now it’s just another military dictatorship”
    Thats the whole idea here, isn’t it? To demonize and isolate the Iranian leadership? It sure as hell ain’t about human rights or brutally beating and murdering peaceful protesters, or these propaganda spewing anti-Iran hawks would have been screaming about the Israeli jackbooted thugs and how they treat peaceful protesters.
    This is a joke, a comedy. Are we really to believe all this tsk-tsking is founded in genuine concern for the Iranian people, when we’ve heard nary a peep of concern for Tristan Anderson or the scores of peaceful protesters Israel has maimed, beaten, murdered and imprisoned over the years??? As Carroll comments, this whole bag of shit is inexplicable at this blog. Anonymous sources, unsourced accounts, unsubstantiated accusation, yadayadayada. When did TWN become a rumor mill?
    Then we have our President and SOS, putting on their indignant Saints of Democracy masks, lamenting Iran’s terrible treatment of the Iranian people, while they refuse to indict or prosecute the criminal bastards that instituted a policy of sodomizing, beating, illegally imprisoning, and torturing captives in our custody. I might add, they also stood idly and mutely by with nary a whisper of derision when Israel was dumping white phosphorous on Palestinian women and children. And where were these blathering proponents of human rights that have invaded this blog when Israel lobbed another tear gas canister into a peaceful protester at point blank range, killing him dead?
    The double standard is nauseating. What is occurring in Iran occurs almost daily in the West Bank and Gaza. And the only common sense conclusion that can be reached when observing this double standard is that the outcry about what is being done to the Iranian people is contrived, and founded in a different agenda than simple concern for human rights, human dignity, and the democratic process.
    So why don’t you people call a spade a spade, and admit you don’t give a shit about human rights, you just want to see the Iranian regime toppled, Ahmadinejad completely discredited and marginalized, and diplomatic engagement with Iran taken off the table.

    Reply

  90. David says:

    POA,
    There is important truth in what you say, but the words from that song keep running through my head: Something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…
    And regarding the competing oil-interest greedhead people at the top who are likely simply duking it out for control of heart-of-blackness gold, Bobby Burns had a word for them: the best laid plans of mice and men.
    I really don’t think we have a very good idea at all of the dynamics being loosed – actually being driven, at this point, by the reality-oblivious theocrat (I watched his braindead dismissive speech on C-Span). I do think this latest post on TWN is a piece (but only a piece) of a puzzle that will have to be assembled by events which we can only guess at.
    For me, the basic question is whether or not the various forces that would exploit this crisis, Iranian wishes be damned, including those forces in the Iranian government, can prevent anything that would further the common weal of the Iranian populace from coming into being.
    Another is, given all the problems inherent in any democracy overriden by a theocrat, whether or not Iran can cohere. I do think it is significant that Khameini has sacrificed his position as the leader of the Islamic republic for all Iranians and chosen instead to be a strong-armed top dog with overt preference for a particular candidate.
    What matters most about what Barbara Slavin wrote is, of course, whether or not that statement is true for a significant swath of Iranians. What also matters is whether or not events are increasing the number of Iranians for which it is true.
    I am convinced that if John McCain were president, we would be seeing a different dynamic on the American side, both because of his mindset and the mindsets of the most influential people in the Republican Party. What I have no way of knowing is how this different mindset on the part of the Obama administration will play out, and whether or not Obama can hold to his words. Mostly, it should not be up to us how this plays out. This really is the Iranians’ fight, and for once the rest of the world needs to go with a hands-off approach (which it never does when very large oil reserves are involved).

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  91. Bill R. says:

    Myth and legitimacy are intricately intertwined. The governing myth of Iran the past 30 years has been shattered by Khamenei. In some way every revolution is essentially conservative in that it seeks to restore an old dream. Democracy interrupted with the overthrow of Mossadeq and now restored may be the new revolutionary mythology. The other possibility is a revolutionary narrative of the Khomeini revolution betrayed by Khamenei, then restored with the new generation of leadership.

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  92. Outraged American says:

    Roger Cohen is now an expert on Iran. And based on what he
    has seen in Tehran, he knows what’s in the heart of every
    Iranian.
    In the thread below I typed about the blind men and the
    elephant. Cohen, and the genuine Iranian Tweeters, are blind
    men, each seeing one part of the elephant.
    This blog today, some of its posters, as well as most of the
    “western” media, seem to have been swept up by some sort of
    mass hysteria about this semi-fraudulent Twitter Revolution, as
    if it were representative of some sort of New World Order. But in
    fact we really don’t know what’s going on in Iran. The people of
    Iran don’t know what’s going on in Iran.
    This reminds me of both times Bush was not elected: people on
    the Coasts, and in other “blue” states, were aghast, such was
    their disconnect from “the Heartland.” They just couldn’t see
    how that Smirking Ninny could have gotten even one vote, much
    less the tens of millions he actually won legitimately.
    The truth was that many in America wanted Bush, not only once,
    but twice. “Christian fundamentalists”, the rural poor, the under
    or uneducated, the wealthy, the corporate goons — a lot of
    them really did vote for Bush.
    “How could you vote for that Bloodthirsty Pinhead?” shrieked the
    intelligentsia worldwide. Well, they did vote for Junior and many
    Iranians voted, not once, but twice, for Ahmadinejad.
    Now the same global intelligentsia are screaming, but it’s really
    none of their business. Iran does not have nuclear weapons. It
    has not invaded another country since the 1700s. The mullahs
    are nothing if not shrewd and they’re certainly not suicidal.
    Whether this election is fraudulent or not matters to the people
    of Iran, let them fight it out. Send the ones who want freedom
    your best wishes, but an intervention in this matter by any other
    country, especially the U.S., is guaranteed to be a disaster,
    possibly on a global scale.
    Iranians who want freedom, especially Iranian women, I am
    behind you. But just look at what happened to Iraq (“spreading
    democracy” my ass) and PLEASE don’t ask for the U.S. to
    intervene. You will regret U.S. intervention for whatever short
    and painful life you’ll subsequently have left.

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  93. Franklin says:

    JohnH,
    Why is the Western media focusing on this particular election?
    1. It’s worth noting that initially many weren’t. This was part of what drove the “#cnnfail” Twitter tag.
    2. Ultimately, for-profit news channels follow their viewership. If the viewership wasn’t interested, they wouldn’t be covering the story.
    You might as well ask: “why are people in the West interested in this topic”?
    I can only speak for myself and friends:
    Because it’s a significant historical event. Why were people interests in the Fall of the Berlin Wall, or the Tienanmen Square protests?
    Part of this too is due to the fact that there is something inherently interesting in getting a glimpse behind the scenes in a country that has been semi-closed to the outside world. People are curious about the way that other people live, and this natural curiosity is at play in current events.
    Part of the interest is due to the fact that Iran is a major regional power; it’s a top 20 global economy — what happens in the country is consequential for the U.S. We can’t ignore it.
    Finally, there’s a strong human interest side to the story as well. This is the quintessential underdog story and Americans in particular seem drawn to the underdog. Our press may be inconsistent in applying this standard — for whatever reason. In this case though it’s definitely part of the story.
    In reference to Louise’s point, if anything the recent events call into question the Bush administration’s decision to sell-out Khatami and the reformers post-9/11 even after they’d assisted us in Afghanistan. The Bush admins hard-line and rejection of reformers coupled with the Iraq invasion provided a justification for the Iranian hardliners ascension into power in 2004 and 2005.
    I’m sure historians and pundits will spend time in the months and years ahead determining just what role the Obama admins outreach had in all of this — I don’t think there’s any question that, at least on the margins, Obama’s actions probably did help to create openings. Even some Iranian’s talked about Mousavi as a kind of Iranian Obama.
    It’s hard to imagine a political leader anywhere in the world trying to compare themselves to W. Their opponents might try to make that comparison, but no leader — foreign or domestic — wants to be associated with George W. Bush.

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  94. JohnH says:

    I thought you might be interested in an intelligent response from an Iranian’s named “Parviz” to one of the points that I have been making:
    JohnH: “I certainly sympathize with Parviz for being fed up. I would want change, too. The real question for Parviz is whether throwing out Khamenei/Ahmadinejad will bring any real change. Or will the Rafsanjani/Mousavi faction simply use the protests to take over the reins of the oil ministry and revolutionary guard and not implement anything more than a few token changes. As the richest person in Iran, does Rafsanjani have any history of truly supporting democracy, freedom and human rights.
    Personally, I find it hard to believe that Rafsanjani would offer the real change being sought by the protesters. You simply do not get to be the richest man by caring about the people.”
    Parviz: “JohnH, your comments are extremely valid. I guess my answer is that it could go either way, better or worse. But that’s irrelevant to tens of millions of Iranians. The fact is that when a regime becomes an eyesore to its own populace the people don’t think of how worse things can get; they simply want change.
    You have no idea of the stifling level of corruption in my country. $ 100 billion of oil revenues last year mostly ‘disappeared’, unaccounted for. Even Khamenei admitted to the existence of massive corruption in yesterday’s Friday Prayers. But it’s not enough for a leader to admit something and then do exactly the opposite of what’s needed to correct it.
    The demonstrators have been exceptionally restrained following Moussavi’s appeal, and with today’s events the regime has a temporary victory, including the ape who announced after being selected President “that the demonstrators are just a few thousand”. But, as the great Mahatma Gandhi said:
    “‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.'”
    So there you have it, it’s change for the sake of change, and hope and pray that things turn out for the best. Can’t blame them for wanting something better, but let’s not get our hopes up. Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.
    Now if someone could please explain to me exactly why the Western media is hyping this particular contested election?

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  95. rfjk says:

    Louise, I’m sorry but your way off base.
    If what Cohen is reporting is true and taking place throughout Iran as well in Tehran, than it means its all over except for the shout for Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and their gang of accomplices. The best they can accomplish now is uncertain rule over a hostile population, but that will require ruthless oppression, which per Cohen’s reporting doesn’t look like its going to happen. I wonder what the oppossion leaders are doing, because the outcome of this game appears to be in their hands.

    Reply

  96. Louise says:

    So does this mean Bush was right all along? Iran really WAS part of an “axis of evil”?
    There really WAS no talking to or negotiating with them?
    Is Obama really a naive fool?
    Cheney was right?

    Reply

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