The Streets of Iran

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Iran’s now illegitimate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just made the bizarre statement in the last hour that ongoing street protests really show that Iran is a democracy. I guess he hasn’t been to the ones where people are being beaten by police with clubs.
In a few hours, I will be posting an anonymized collection of written clips from someone in the streets of Tehran and what this person has seen unfold and heard through his channels over the last couple of days.
On other fronts, I will be in Los Angeles on Monday and Tuesday.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

101 comments on “The Streets of Iran

  1. ... says:

    Nadine Carroll – a wigwag without the finesse..

    Reply

  2. Curious says:

    Wigwag writes: “As for attacking Iran, you and others have
    suggested that I am a full-throated advocate for doing that. It’s
    not true. Before the recent imbroglio I thought attacking Iran
    would be a huge mistake for a variety of reasons. I still think it’s
    a bad idea, but I am somewhat more ambivalent. As I mentioned
    above, I think the current situation makes the Iranian coup-
    meisters more likely to actually seek a bomb rather than just a
    “weapons capability.” Now that they know that large portions of
    the Iranian public hates them, they may be motivated to seek a
    nuclear device that deters other nations from mounting a
    military operation in support of the aggrieved Iranian people.”
    I see your point, but it seems somewhat convoluted. First, if MA
    comes out the winner, we have essentially the status quo ante.
    That is, what we’ve had up to now: MA and his backers. So why
    does it make more sense to bomb them now than it did before?
    Second, the fact that they had a corrupt election–if true–is
    somewhat trivial because who mistook Iran for a democracy in
    any real sense of the word anyway? Okay, the usual group of
    Iran apologists at TWN; but who other than that?
    Third, they already knew a large portion of the Iranian public
    hated them. They are a brutal repressive regime. Opposition to
    them is well known. Occasionally, the people feel emboldened,
    like now. But so what? The USSR was a brutal, repressive
    regime, but no one seriously thought about invading them or
    bombing them.
    Fourth, the GWB years were probably the years when the regime
    was most worried about a foreign regime invading or bombing
    to free their people. No one is MORE likely now to invade simply
    because it’s now presumably more clear that the people hate
    the regime and are repressed by them–so there’s no MORE
    reason for them to acquire the bomb now than there was three
    weeks ago.
    Do you really think there are foreign governments going, “Well,
    now that we know the Iranian regime is repressive and their
    people hate them, we better go in.” This is too absurd to even
    contemplate.
    Fact is, all the reasons–not even moral, but strategic and
    tactical– for not bombing and not invading Iran still stand. All
    this election and its aftermath show is that the Iranian regime is
    what all sensible people have said it was since 1979. Repressive
    and brutal. It’s just that it doesn’t always have to show its face
    in so open a fashion.
    Of course, the erstwhile Stalinistas on TWN will argue that the
    regime isn’t so bad, is kinda sorta a democracy, shouldn’t be
    judged too harshly, is much better than Israel, is just the same
    as the US because of Bush v Gore, and only wants a bomb and
    should have one because Israel does and all the other nonsense
    one reads here…but none of this means we or anyone else
    should invade or bomb Iran.
    Even the argument that the regime is unstable is unstable as an
    argument. IF the country descends into real chaos, as Pakistan
    seems ready to do, then, I agree, a nuclear Iran would be scary.
    But so, they are showing an iron grip on the country. Only time
    will tell.

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Bottom line: Israel just wants to be left alone.”
    Give her a reward. Thats gotta be one of the most ignorant things I’ve yet seen posted on this blog.
    But its a damned good idea. Lets start by cutting off the billions we piss away annually subsidizing their war crimes and human rights abuses.

    Reply

  4. WigWag says:

    “Go back to Israel. You’re clearly so infatuated with their survival that you should join their military.”
    I’m afraid I’m about half a century to old for that, but thanks for the advice.

    Reply

  5. devlin says:

    More of WigWag’s lies:
    “Just about everyone agrees that Iran possesses the capability to acquire a nuclear weapon if it so chooses.”
    Bullshit. In the entire world, only Israel claims Iran is on the verge of building a nuclear weapon.
    The U.S. NIE has clearly stated Iran is years away from enriching enough uranium to build a weapon, and perhaps decades away from developing the technology to mount it on a missile.
    Go back to Israel. You’re clearly so infatuated with their survival that you should join their military.
    Here in the U.S., we really don’t feel the need to go to war to protect Israel’s blatant aggression against its neighbors and inhumanity against its indigenous peoples.

    Reply

  6. Dan Kervick says:

    Listened to “Life during Wartime” on innumerable occasions back in college during ’77 to ’81. Listened to Gil Scott-Heron too.
    It’s interesting to note the last line in Steve’s post today of messages from the anonymous Iranian student:
    “A friend asks me what will we do for fun when this is all over? What happens to all of this energy? What is there in Iran that one good disco couldn’t fix…?”
    What is freedom? The opportunity to have fun in a disco? Or the presence of mind and sense of the relative value of things that enables one not to be seduced and distracted by the noise and lights of the disco? Or some of both?

    Reply

  7. WigWag says:

    Dan, I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember the 1970 Gil Scott-Heron song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
    I think cable TV took the title of the song literally and decided it applied to the current Iranian revolt.
    In case you don’t know him, Gil Scott-Heron was an amazing poet and song writer who is widely acclaimed as one of the fathers of hip hop. There are many good versions on youtube; it’s worth a look (or listen).
    Now that I think about it though, the current sad state of affairs in Iran reminds me more of the 1979 hit by the Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime.”
    Here for you your viewing pleasure are the lyrics:
    Heard of a van loaded with weapons
    packed up and ready to go
    Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway
    a place where nobody knows
    The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
    I’m getting used to it now
    Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto
    I’ve lived all over this town
    This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
    this ain’t no fooling around
    No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
    I ain’t got time for that now
    Transmit the message, to the receiver
    hope for an answer some day
    I got three passports, couple of visas
    don’t even know my real name
    High on a hillside, trucks are loading
    everything’s ready to roll
    I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime
    I might not ever get home
    This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
    this ain’t no fooling around
    This ain’t no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.
    I ain’t got time for that now
    Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
    Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
    You oughta know not to stand by the window
    somebody might see you up there
    I got some groceries, some peanut butter
    to last a couple of days
    But I ain’t got no speakers
    ain’t got no headphones
    ain’t got no records to play
    Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
    Gonna be different this time?
    Can’t write a letter, can’t send a postcard
    I can’t write nothing at all
    This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
    this ain’t no fooling around
    I’d love you hold you, I’d like to kiss you
    I ain’t got no time for that now
    Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock
    we blended in with the crowd
    We got computers, we’re tapping phone lines
    I know that ain’t allowed
    We dress like students, we dress like housewives
    or in a suit and a tie
    I changed my hairstyle so many times now
    don’t know what I look like!
    You make me shiver, I feel so tender
    we make a pretty good team
    Don’t get exhausted, I’ll do some driving
    you ought to get you some sleep
    Get you instructions, follow directions
    then you should change your address
    Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day
    whatever you think is best.
    Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
    They won’t help me survive
    My chest is aching, burns like a furnace
    the burning keeps me alive
    Try to stay healthy, physical fitness
    don’t want to catch no disease
    Try to be careful, don’t take no chances
    you better watch what you say.

    Reply

  8. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, I agree about the cable media. What else is there to add about this monstrously inept institution that can’t even put the info in “infotainment”. Even to call them the boob tube is to insult boobs everywhere. Maybe if the students made fun of Sarah Palin or submitted a tryout video to American Idol, we could get them to pay attention.
    As for the rest of the print and televised media, I think we have to give some leeway on account of the fact that reporters in foreign new bureaus have been confined or directly ordered not to report. Still, when the story doesn’t get out one way, you have to get it out another way. They seem to be prisoners of their inflexible routines.
    Sullivan seems to think he is in a position to go down in history as the Heroic Keyboard of the Green Revolution. If it’s on Twitter, it’s fit to print … in big green letters.
    I frankly don’t know whether Mousavi poll watchers were allowed at polling places. But my guess is that it doesn’t matter, because the fraud – if fraud it be – appears to have been perpetrated at the interior ministry itself, or while voted were transiting from the polling places.
    I don’t think we know yet if steps taken to probe the vote were prompted by what is happening in the street, or by processes inside the government. There was one very early report that Rafsanjani was already counting votes in the Assembly of Experts a couple of days ago for the removal of Khamenei. But again, whether or not this report is true, I have no idea.

    Reply

  9. WigWag says:

    How do these automatic messages get past the captcha? I have trouble getting past the captcha and I do it manually.

    Reply

  10. samuelburke says:

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/06/14/irans-election-none-of-americas-business/
    Whenever there are election “irregularities” anywhere outside the U.S., American government officials have a bad habit of getting up on their high horses and lecturing the rest of the world on how best to conduct their own internal affairs. Never mind that the U.S. itself has only two officially recognized political parties, both of which are subsidized with tax dollars, and that any potential rivals must jump through a number of hoops to even get on the ballot. We’re a legend in our own minds – the world’s greatest “democracy” – and anyone who questions this dubious claim is immediately charged with “anti-Americanism.”
    Yet even if that were not the case – even if our democratic procedures were flawless – that still wouldn’t give the U.S. government any standing to pass judgment, because how Iran conducts its presidential elections is not a legitimate concern of the U.S. government. The idea that the occupant of the Oval Office must pass moral judgment on all events, including other countries’ elections, is a byproduct of America’s imperial pretensions and delusions of “world leadership.”
    The Israel lobby, which has been pushing for a U.S. confrontation with Iran, is revving up its engines even now to push harder for increased sanctions and other provocative moves by the U.S. Obama, I fear, will prove unable to resist all that pressure, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

    Reply

  11. WigWag says:

    To Dan Kervick:
    You make some excellent points and I agree with much of what you said in your last comment. I especially agree with you about Andrew Sullivan. His blog is covering the Iran affair with all the acumen and nuance of the National Enquirer. Sullivan covers stories as if they were all about him and his tendency to sensationalize suggests that his blog would be more at home at a Rupert Murdoch publication than at the esteemed and usually thoughtful Atlantic Monthly.
    With that said, at least Sullivan is covering the story. The main stream media has been extraordinary in its ineptitude and its disinterest in what’s happening in Iran. Those of us who view this as an important event really haven’t had anywhere else to turn other than blogs like Sullivan’s. When the story first broke I was periodically checking blogs that came out of Iran but now they have all been blocked.
    The only exception to all of this is Fareed Zakaria whose GPS show yesterday was outstanding and Christiane Amanpour whose occasional stories on CNN are informative. If only there were 10 more people in the main stream media like Fareed Zakaria, the average IQ of the press corps. would double. It sounds corny, but I think Zakaria is really turning into a national treasure.
    While I think you’re right that Iran might not have wanted international observers because it might somehow have been viewed as humiliating, it is standard operating procedure in most democracies around the world to allow poll watchers for any candidate competing in an election to observe the counting of ballots in any given precinct. This was clearly not permitted during the Iranian elections. The question is why?
    I partially disagree with you when you say,
    “Elections are sometimes subverted; cheating occurs. That in itself is not so unusual. What matters is whether the republic is able to respond justly and appropriately to the cheating, and restore both democratic legitimacy and civil peace.”
    A government that seeks to redress grievances only because it is forced to by rioting and massive demonstrations isn’t really interested in the rule of law, is it? If government institutions can only be motivated to act in the face of overwhelming force those institutions aren’t really worth that much, are they?
    To JG:
    I’m not sure what the mainstream media’s role was in demonizing Iran during the run up to the election, but I do agree with you that neoconservatives in the United States and the right wing in Israel did everything possible to demonize Iran including distorting the truth.
    You say that, “to the extent that those of us (Cohen, Flynt, Steve and co.) “defended” the regime in Iran we did so based our views on the historical behavior of the regime. What happened this weekend was unprecedented.”
    Remind me again what it is about the “historical behavior” of the regime that you found so laudable or even just “defendable.”
    As for your accusation that I’m wishy washy about the wisdom of some type of military attack or sanctions regime against Iran, I plead guilty. As I said, I used to be convinced that either an attack (or enhanced sanctions) was a terrible idea. I still do, but the brutality of the regime against its own people gives me some pause.
    I don’t understand why you find my “stability argument” so hard to agree with. A nation whose leadership is at war with itself (that’s what Steve’s London contact said was happening) can’t be trusted to maintain tight physical control over nuclear weapons that it might some day develop.
    If Iran already had nuclear weapons, wouldn’t you be worried about what was happening to them in the current circumstances? I think most people would. In fact, if Iran already had nuclear weapons, my guess is that most intelligence agencies around the world would be preoccupied right now trying to figure out what was happening to them.
    That’s why an Iran with nuclear weapons would be less safe today than it was last week.
    Finally, I think you have to admit that while no nation would invade or attack Iran in support of the “aggrieved Iranian people”, the grievances of the Iranian people could be used as a convenient excuse to invade which makes an invasion more likely than it was before. That’s why Roger Cohen’s suggestion that Obama wait a “decent interval” before starting negotiations only serves to help Ahmadinejad.
    As for the vacuousness of Roger Cohen, I am happy to agree to disagree.
    Cheers!
    ps: I like your cartoons!

    Reply

  12. Dan Kervick says:

    Israel just wants to be left alone? Oh how Garbo!
    I haven’t seen Grand Hotel in a while, but I don’t recall Grabo kicking a bunch of people out of their hotel rooms and moving her own stuff in before telling them that she wanted to be alone.
    But it would have added an interesting comic element to the film.

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    Nadine Carroll comment “Bottom line: Israel just wants to be left alone.” i suppose that would rationalize israels use of white phosphorous to some as well, but personally i ain’t buying it.. they have nukes and they have displayed how irrational and zealous they are in spite of all the b.s. about them having a democracy…

    Reply

  14. Dan Kervick says:

    Cole’s criticisms of Ballen and Doherty, noted by WigWag, seem reasonable. On the other hand, it is hard to escape the feeling that even if Ahmadinejad’s numbers seem inflated, the bare fact of an Ahmadinejad win of *some* margin would not at all have been surprising, and would have been seen as the most probable outcome given what pre-election opinion sampling there was to go on. (I believe Steve Clemons was predicting an Amadinejad win all the way up to the day of the election.)
    One suggestion that seems to be kicking around is that Ahamadinejad had a majority, but it was close and the margin wasn’t seen by his side as decisive enough. Looking at the prospect of an indecisive, turbulent post-election scenario, they panicked and decided to rig the numbers, in what turned out to be a crude and transparently unrealistic way. As I have said before, I don’t think Ahmadinejad or his supporters are the sharpest tools in the Iranian shed.
    I find WigWag’s closing points interesting, but not compelling:
    Is the regime acting in a guilty way by attacking demonstrators and closing down media? I’m not so sure. If this level of public disturbance and protest erupted in the capital of almost any country, even after a legitimate election, I think you would see some pretty harsh crackdowns.
    Given the paucity of information coming out of Iran, we are unable to tell which people we see running in the streets are merely demonstrators, and which are rioters or other violent agitators. When people start throwing rocks and bottles, and setting things on fire, then security forces tend to start hitting them, charging them with horses (or motorcycles) and beating them back. When we have people like Andrew Sullivan in the United States basically goading young Iranians into using this opportunity to launch a “green revolution”, then certainly Iranian authorities can read those messages as well as anybody. Once security forces conclude that the people they see in the streets are not simply demonstrators, but revolutionaries bent on toppling the government, those forces are going to start cracking down harshly.
    Even before the polls closed, allegedly, Mousavi had called for protests. It is possible that a variety of groups inside and outside of the country were planning to exploit this election as an opportunity for revolutionary activity of some kind. If that is the case, and if government intelligence was anticipating a strike at the government following the election, it is not at all surprising that elements of the government would respond pre-emptively with efforts to control the media, social networks, communications, foreigners, etc. This is standard operating procedure for governments engaged in counter-revolutionary security measures.
    This is a government, after all, that has accused many reporters in the past of being foreign spies and other covert operatives. And given what we already know about Bush-era covert activity in Iran, *some* of these charges might be true, thus poisoning the operating environment for legitimate western reporters. When one government decides to engage in covert meddling in the domestic affairs of other governments, an obvious by-product of that meddling is the eliciting of some paranoid, security-obsessed responses in the government experiencing the meddling.
    I also think we have to be circumspect in our judgments about what “the government” is or is not doing in Iran. I keep hearing a lot of talk to the effect that “the regime” is doing this and “the government” is doing that, as though the Iranian government is a monolithic bloc or well-oiled and perfectly cooperating machine. But Iran has a number of different security forces and militias, each of whom are more loyal to some power blocs than others. Some of these groups are extremely conservative and think of themselves as patriot-guardians of the revolution, and the enemies of western, anti-Islamic counter-revolution. It is entirely possible that some of them are acting either independently and spontaneously, or under the direction of only some particular power blocs within the government. You don’t have to assume high-level government decisions when you see a rightest militia attacking students. Rightists *always* hate leftist students, and have a proclivity toward beating them up at the slightest provocation when there is a breakdown in civil order.
    I don’t think that the failure of the Iranian government to invite in foreign election observers is necessarily evidence of a guilty conscience or plans to cheat. How many countries invite in such observers? Allowing foreign observers in to monitor one’s elections is in itself a blow to national dignity, and a sort of admission of the doubtfulness of the government’s own legitimacy and ability to police its own electoral system.
    All this said, what we can discern of the internal responses of part of the Iranian government to what is happening, suggests that inside the government itself there are widespread suspicions of massive cheating, and also concerns about the competence and capacity of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.
    In the course of the history of constitutional republics, crises emerge that allow that republic to better define itself, and to establish precedents and traditions that can give the republic more secure foundations moving into the future. Imperfect democracies can become more perfect democracies by acting to emphasize the more democratic elements in its existing constitution, without throwing out the constitution entirely, and without throwing the society into utter chaos and anarchic violence.
    Elections are sometimes subverted; cheating occurs. That in itself is not so unusual. What matters is whether the republic is able to respond justly and appropriately to the cheating, and restore both democratic legitimacy and civil peace.

    Reply

  15. JG says:

    Steve Clemons:
    Where are you Bro?
    This thread is getting way too long.

    Reply

  16. JG says:

    WigWag:
    I believe that a large part of what Roger Cohen was doing was to humanize the Iran bogeyman created by the neocons and Likudniks in their efforts to lay the groundwork for regime change and/or attack. Can you agree that the MSM has been a willing partner and/or has nurtured this neocon/Likudnik endeavour?
    A significant portion of his Iran pieces were about the Iranian people themselves and not so much the government.
    And to the extent that those of us (Cohen, Flynt, Steve and co.) “defended” the regime in Iran we did so based our views on the historical behavior of the regime. What happened this weekend was unprecedented. So I think it is a bit unfair of you to now charge that we were all fools or in love with our ideology or that we lacked judgment. Even the great Wig could not have predicted the events of the last few days. But then again, he is but a dilettante!
    As for attacking Iran, how can one think it’s a bad idea but also be somewhat ambivalent? Sounds a bit wishy-washy to me. 🙂
    I don’t see the logic behind your argument that the regime will now be more motivated to seek a nuclear device. A large portion of the population has always hated them. This is not a new phenomenon. And who in God’s name is going to mount this military operation in support of the aggrieved Iranian people? In any event, the motivations that influenced the regime’s objectives before the election have not changed. I think you are yet again grasping for straws on your nuclear bomb …….
    I am not sure if I agree with your “stability” argument either. I am not sure what the correlation is between the stability of a government and that the threat that government poses to the rest of the world. The stability of a government, to the extent that it poses a threat to anyone, poses a threat to its own people.
    And when facts change, I change my opinion too. So, until the facts change, I don’t think you are an asshole…..

    Reply

  17. Nell says:

    @Nadine Carroll:
    Since you’re still reading and participating in this thread:
    As I asked above, I’d very much appreciate a pointer to any official region-by-region or partial reports of election results by the Iranian Interior Ministry, the ones you refer to in your comments of 4:48 and 7:03 pm yesterday.

    Reply

  18. WigWag says:

    For those who are interesed there’s an interesting blog-war (a very friendly one) going on between the New America Foundation’s Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty on the one hand and Juan Cole on the other.
    Ballen and Doherty have an op-ed in today’s Washington Post where they tout their poll from last week. They claim that it demonstrates that the results in Iran as announced by the Interior Ministry are valid.
    Here’s a little of what they have to say,
    “The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election…
    Allegations of fraud and electoral manipulation will serve to further isolate Iran and are likely to increase its belligerence and intransigence against the outside world. Before other countries, including the United States, jump to the conclusion that the Iranian presidential elections were fraudulent, with the grave consequences such charges could bring, they should consider all independent information. The fact may simply be that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted.”
    Juan Cole disagrees and he punches numerous holes in the Ballen/Doherty thesis. This is what he had to say on his “Informed Consent” blog,
    “60% of the 27% who said they were undecided favored political reform…supporters of the challenger’s principles may not quite have committed to him at that point but were likely leaning to him on the basis of his platform. They were 16% of the sample. This finding suggests that in mid-May, Mousavi may have actually had 30% support.
    If Ahmadinejad got all of the other 11% among undecideds, the race would have stood at 45% to 30%…based on his polling, Ballen did not expect Ahmadinejad to get to 51%. In fact, the regime has announced that Ahmadinejad received almost 63% of the vote. So while Ballen’s polling does suggest that it was plausible that Ahmadinejad could have won a run-off election against Mousavi, it indicated that Ahmadinejad was unlikely to win a first round.”
    Uber analyst Nate Silver also has some interesting comments on his site that cast serious doubt on the Iranian election and the ultimate Ahmadinejad dupe, who was actually present in Iran for the election (Roger Cohen), admitted it was a fraud.
    All of this misses two crucial points: (1)The government is acting awfully guilty by attacking and killing demonstrators, expelling foreign media (including Muslim media), hindering telecommunications and shutting down the internet; and (2)An election that is considered illegitimate by huge swaths of the population is illegitimate regardless of the vote count.
    If the Iranian junta wanted its election to be viewed as fair they could have permitted international inspectors or they could have allowed Mousavi poll watchers to monitor the vote count. They permitted neither of these two checks on their own power and they are reaping the results.
    Why Ballen and Doherty can’t get this is beyond me.

    Reply

  19. Curious says:

    WigWag: When folks call you an “asshole,” it means they don’t have
    coherent arguments to marshall against yours. You just make them
    shake with anger that anyone could disagree with them.
    Too bad political blogs always descend to this level. At least on
    “the left.” (I don’t know about the right.) After all, it’s not as if all
    the epithet-throwing actually affects events. If it did, there might
    be a point; but since it doesn’t, there isn’t one.
    Basically, it’s an attempt to shut you up, which makes their
    professed “progressive” stance so ironic. They’re just little
    wannabe dictators run amuck. Fortunately, their realm only
    extends to the edges of their keyboards.

    Reply

  20. Nadine Carroll says:

    “wigwag thinks it’s okay for israel to have nuclear weapons, but not iran” Yup. And tell you what, all the Arab countries think so too. How do I know? Because they have known about Israel’s nukes for forty years, yet have not panicked about them or started their own arms race. This shows that they understand that Israeli nukes are purely defensive. But now, they are hastening to get their own nukes, knowing that Iran’s nukes will be used to threaten all the Gulf countries. Bottom line: Israel just wants to be left alone. Iran wants to be regional hegemon. It’s a big difference.

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  21. ... says:

    wigwag – not fine with roger cohen, but totally fine with dennis ross…
    Why is Dennis Ross being ousted as Obama envoy to Iran?
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093058.html

    Reply

  22. ... says:

    wigwag thinks it’s okay for israel to have nuclear weapons, but not iran…. they will go to any length to explain the twisted logic necessary to arrive at this position, but inevitably they take the same approach to the israels use of white phosphorus as well… the same folks who are okay with all of this, happen to have no objectivity whatsoever and are blinded by their love of israel…

    Reply

  23. David says:

    Good luck getting an accurate picture of anything if you are dependendent on the popular media, unless you are very well informed, have a comprehensive, uninhibited knowledge of history, and can read between the lines.
    POA, you wrote: “Our own media, in its purposeful effort to marginalize the American anti-war movement, has a habit of singling out the more radical and bizzarre of the participants in anti-war protests…” I had direct experience of this phenomenon when I participated in a demonstration against the launch of Cassini because of the large quantity of plutonium which was to be its primary energy source. I think it was 9 pounds, enough to do horrendous damage to life in the vicinity of something catastrophic were to happen during the launch. We were, of course, assured, that the plutonium was perfectly safe regardless of unforseen circumstances.
    What was interesting was the tv coverage of our march, about 1,000 very respectfully dressed middle class Americans and two rather bizarre looking young ladies. The tv cameras went immediately to the two young ladies, and they were the focus of the clip shown on the evening news. I never knew whether it was an attempt to misrepresent us or simply the choice of an attention-grabbing clip, but the results were the same. People saw odd-looking young “radicals,” not people like themselves, when they watched the 6 o’clock news.

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  24. WigWag says:

    Wow, some of us are testy this morning!
    But I guess that’s what happens when long-held assumptions are swept away in a flash. It’s always tough when narratives constructed in our own minds that we’re deeply attached to, are proven false. That’s what happened to Roger Cohen and it looks like that’s what happened to some particularly cranky Washington Note devotees as well.
    Dear Franklin:
    Yes, Israel does have a significant minority that are either fanatic settlers or support fanatic settlers. The behavior of some of these settlers (especially the religiously rabid ones who actually resemble the religious rabid in Iran) is abhorrent.
    But what makes nuclear weapons in Pakistan or North Korea particularly dangerous is not the policies that those regimes articulate, but the fact that the instable political situation those nations confront, may make it difficult for them to maintain control over weapons that can kill tens of thousands of people.
    The government in Israel is as stable as the governments in the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France or India. That’s because the government is legitimate in the eyes of its own people. Elections are held routinely and the losers may not like losing but they accept the result as the “will of the people.” The losers don’t riot; they don’t shout “death to the coup,” the government doesn’t turn-off the internet and after the election people generally get along with their lives. Israel’s nuclear weapons stay safely parked wherever it is that they are, just like nuclear weapons in all the other stable nuclear states.
    Steve has a post just a few threads down that talks about incredible discord in the Iranian leadership. If his source is to be believed, the major leaders in Iran are actually trying to kill each other. Of course, we see what’s happening in the streets. Until the current crisis I always thought that in terms of stability, Iran had a lot more in common with Israel or India than with Pakistan or North Korea.
    Recent evidence puts that thesis in doubt. That’s why a nuclear armed Iran is much scarier today than it was last week.
    With all due respect, your analogy to Israel is just silly.
    I also disagree with you about Roger Cohen; he wasn’t just pro-peace. He assured us in column after column that the government in Iran (led in part by Ahmadinejad) was more democratic and more progressive than other governments in the Middle East (e.g. the Egyptians). If you don’t believe me, read Cohen’s most recent column. He’s apologized for his naivety (as well he should).
    Dear J.G.:
    Roger Cohen’s “dim-wittedness” is proven the variance between what he said was true about Iranian democracy and what has turned out to actually be true. He was so in love with his own ideology that he became unable or unwilling to see things dispassionately which is, after all, what a journalist is supposed to do. I don’t see things dispassionately either; but then I don’t claim to be a journalist. I happily admit that when it comes to foreign policy issues I’m just a dilettante who comments at the Washington Note for the fun of it.
    By the way, I think Flynt Leverett has an interesting perspective and somewhere in one of these threads I asked Steve Clemons to ask his friend to do a guest post on all of this. It was Andrew Sullivan who called Flynt Leverett “Ahmadinejad’s useful idiot”, not me. As for Steve Clemons, just because I have a different opinion than he does on a lot of issues doesn’t mean I think I’m wiser than he is. We just disagree. That’s what makes the world go around, isn’t it?
    As for attacking Iran, you and others have suggested that I am a full-throated advocate for doing that. It’s not true. Before the recent imbroglio I thought attacking Iran would be a huge mistake for a variety of reasons. I still think it’s a bad idea, but I am somewhat more ambivalent. As I mentioned above, I think the current situation makes the Iranian coup-meisters more likely to actually seek a bomb rather than just a “weapons capability.” Now that they know that large portions of the Iranian public hates them, they may be motivated to seek a nuclear device that deters other nations from mounting a military operation in support of the aggrieved Iranian people.
    Secondly an Iran as unstable as the one suggested by Steve Clemon’s contact from London, is not an Iran stable enough to possess a nuclear weapon without being a serious threat to the rest of the world.
    When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do?
    Dear Devlin:
    You say,
    “What kind of moron concludes that a wonky election somehow changes the laws of Physics to enable a government to multiply by several hundred times its capacity to enrich Uranium?”
    Except for the part of your comment where you call me an “asshole” you are surely a master of understatement. How anyone could dismiss what’s going on in Iran as a “wonky election” is beyond me.
    Your comment about physics is incoherent but if you mean to suggest that Iran lacks the capability to enrich uranium to weapons grade status, you are mistaken.
    Just about everyone agrees that Iran possesses the capability to acquire a nuclear weapon if it so chooses. The debate has been about whether Iran wants to acquire a nuclear weapon. I think the current fiasco makes the regime more likely to desire nuclear weapons than it did before.
    But it’s okay if you disagree. I won’t call you an asshole.

    Reply

  25. easy e says:

    Don’t recall this being posted yet, but Haaretz reports Dennis Ross is out.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093058.html

    Reply

  26. devlin says:

    WigWag:
    “Waiting a decent interval will only give Iran more time to enrich uranium in pursuit of a bomb. While it was completely justifiable to argue that Iran only sought a nuclear capability not a nuclear weapon before the election, that argument is no longer tenable after the election.”
    What kind of moron concludes that a wonky election somehow changes the laws of Physics to enable a government to multiply by several hundred times its capacity to enrich Uranium?
    Hie yourself on over to Israel and get someone else to do your dirty work, asshole.

    Reply

  27. JG says:

    WigWag:
    I admire your dogged adherence to your advocacy of the formulation that all facts and all circumstances lead to the conclusion that Iran must be bombed.
    If only the rest of us, including the “dimwitted” Roger Cohen and the “naive” Flynt Leverett and Steve Clemons were as wise as you this world would be a better place….

    Reply

  28. Franklin says:

    WigWag,
    Cohen’s comments weren’t so much “pro-Ahmadinejad” as they were pro-peace.
    If anything the election validates aspects of Cohen analysis — especially with regard to parts of the civil society, and parts of the moderate leadership. The election also highlights realities about internal Iranian politics regarding the hard-liners.
    Odds are that talks with Iran and the current regime would will not change course with regards to its weapons program.
    On the other side, based on your line of reasoning, the U.S. would be well advised to invade Israel because the state is incapable of controlling its settlers and a minority exerts unpopular rule over a majority population making it an unstable regime. It also has nukes too, not unlike Pakistan.

    Reply

  29. Mr.Murder says:

    “Posted by devlin, Jun 15 2009, 5:16AM – Link
    In reference to the poll you cite those numbers actually reinforce the idea that the final Iran tally is bogus.
    The poll in question said that, three weeks before the election, independent pollsters had determined that twice as many Iranis supported AhamadiNejad as they did Mousavi.
    And you’re saying that this supports the idea that the election was stolen?
    That has to be the most ridiculous attempt at professional “spinning” that I have ever seen.
    AhmadiNejad gave a lot of money, food, and educational opportunities to Iran’s poor and lower classes. He has not backed away from U.S. and Israeli aggression over Iran’s right to produce Nuclear Power. He has managed the country through four years of U.S. invasion next door.
    Mousavi wants “detente” with the West, and wants to privatize the oil fields (thereby taking away the money that finances the food, jobs, and education of Iran’s poor).
    The poor in Iran outnumber the middle class and wealthy some ten to one.
    The fact that Mousavi got the number of votes he did is the real surprise here — but people like you and Steve just can’t be satisfied with it.
    Gotta build that case for Regime Change, dontcha?”
    Obama knew he’d win in a landslide, he reads polling numbers, in anticipation he actually leads the way into that kind of result so he has some kind of claim to the legitmacy.
    Peck away at those keyboards otherwise, the fundamental fact that the corporate press hates nationalism and populsim is what will drive this. In every form, outside of Bushisms that verbally tack to the political right or Israel, the press opposes populism. It is something we’ll never forget.
    A good friend the other day had the nerve to praise Tim “Lap Dog for Cheney” Russert, an enabler on the mushroom cloud tour that has us playing babysitter on two fronts in police actions. Actions that are turning from hot guerilla insurgencies into five more potentiall full fledged country wars counting Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.
    Israel must feel like it’s hit the powerball this week. Playing the numbers 777 on pick three as well…. maybe they’ll celebrate by bombing Lebanon (again). They’d be advised silence on this as well, don’t bail water out of the sinking ship, if it truly is. Taking a position would justify any reaction.
    You really think a pol using reactionary speech will not win, when he works to the largest voter segment economically and has major wars on either border from a foreign policy devil he can use to as a talking point?
    Obama should put a speech out that now with Iran’s election done they need to clean their own house, provide transparency, and still give those dissenting voices legitmate particpation.
    It’s what democracies do.
    Mention the fact that Iran also doesn’t like Al Qaeda, they are ready to start hardening against threats to stable, plural political exchange.
    Go us and them, and you’ll be another reactionary. No more turning away, admit they won. If someone asks your opinion tell them “Churchill lost an election after he won the world’s largest ever war. It is what it is.”
    Simply state that you still want to see them show a spirit of good intention to the opposition. Governing is the art of being equal and equitable, as it is being energetic. Iran’s leader certainly upholds that final trait, one necessary for elections.
    It’s clear that a lot of conflicts or static alignments must change if we want the world’s economic engine to drive progress forward.
    Give him advice on what to best do coming off an election, from your recent experience. Something to use as an opportunity to help him help himself, as a way of reaching some ground you also need to on.
    We’ve got no room to go on electoral legitmacy. Dade Co. and the state of Ohio demand recounts for Mousavi? How about a recall election for Iran’s governator?

    Reply

  30. WigWag says:

    The Iran obsessed Roger Cohen had a column in the New York Times that finally got it right. After months of shilling for the Ahmadinejad regime, Cohen was in Iran for what he thought would be an extraordinary example of Middle East democracy. The obviously red-faced Cohen had little choice but to apologize to his readers for his naivety.
    “…everything I have seen suggests Moussavi, now rumored to be under house arrest, was cheated, the Iranian people defrauded, in what Moussavi called an act of official “wizardry.”
    Within two hours of the closing of the polls, contrary to prior practice and electoral rules, the Interior Ministry, through the state news agency, announced a landslide victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose fantastical take on the world and world history appears to have added another fantastical episode.
    Throughout the country, across regions of vast social and ethnic disparity, including Azeri areas that had indicated strong support for Moussavi (himself an Azeri), Ahmadinejad’s margin scarcely wavered, ending at an official 62.63 percent. That’s 24.5 million votes, a breathtaking 8 million more than he got four years ago.
    No tally I’ve encountered of Ahmadinejad’s bedrock support among the rural and urban poor, religious conservatives and revolutionary ideologues gets within 6 million votes of that number.
    Ahmadinejad won in other candidates’ hometowns, including Moussavi’s. He won in every major city except Tehran. He won very big, against the backdrop of an economic slump.
    He won as the Interior Ministry was sealed, opposition Web sites were shut down, text messages were cut off, cell phones were interrupted, Internet access was impeded, dozens of opposition figures were arrested, universities were closed and a massive show of force was orchestrated to ram home the result to an incredulous public…
    I’ve argued for engagement with Iran and I still believe in it, although, in the name of the millions defrauded, President Obama’s outreach must now await a decent interval.
    I’ve also argued that, although repressive, the Islamic Republic offers significant margins of freedom by regional standards. I erred in underestimating the brutality and cynicism of a regime that understands the uses of ruthlessness.”
    Now Cohen wants Obama to “wait a decent interval” before engaging Iran. Is this guy dense or what?
    Waiting a decent interval will only give Iran more time to enrich uranium in pursuit of a bomb. While it was completely justifiable to argue that Iran only sought a nuclear capability not a nuclear weapon before the election, that argument is no longer tenable after the election.
    The fact that large numbers of Iranians see the regime as illegitimate will make Iran’s rulers even more paranoid about the prospect of foreign intervention. Knowing that it is hated by so many Iranians will only serve to ratchet up the regimes determination to prevent foreign interference on behalf of the aggrieved Iranian people. The regimes only way to ameliorate its paranoia will be through the actual development of nuclear weapons that will deter any potential foreign intervention.
    Of course this will be good for the regime; it will immunize them for all time against foreign assistance to domestic insurgency. No one wants a nuclear power to be destabilized or its population riled up to the point where there’s doubt about who controls the government (and thus the weapons).
    Surely even the dim-witted Cohen realizes that “waiting a decent interval” to negotiate only plays into the hands of the hardline coup-meisters in charge of the country he used to admire so much.
    If the coup stands (as it probably will), the likelihood of Iran developing nuclear weapons just got much greater.
    So did the likelihood of an attack by Israel or even the United States.

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    Supreme Leader Khameini has now ordered an investigation into the charges of fraud.

    Reply

  32. Mr.Murder says:

    “Three out of four candidates in the race are now saying the vote was illegitimate — that it was rigged.
    Bottom line the vote was rigged.”
    Three candidates splitting one another’s votes so he could continue running a plausible position. See also Obama’s war funding appropriations.
    Meanwhile, people act amazed:
    “1) The Israelis are behaving more like Europeans every day. Like the French, Germans, Italians (and soon the British) they elected as Prime Minister the most right wing main stream candidate who competed. And the Israelis elected right wing and far right wing candidates to the Knesset in the same way that Europeans elected right wing and far right wing candidates to the European Parliament. In both Israel and throughout Europe, parties of the left were marginalized.”
    Got diebold? All they need is media conglomerates to pipe the narrative and dumb their electorates down while machines steal votes. Rupert got his start with the BBC?

    Reply

  33. Mr.Murder says:

    “Elizabeth Cheney headed the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG), established in March 2006, a unit within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs”
    Near East Affairs was set up on May of 2001, by Bushco. to give them a swing vote for security assessments in the IC groups that formed the consesnus on American policy.
    The only thing slowing it was Bush v. Gore decisions by the SCOTUS. Cheney instilled a coup against the entire process of our internal checks and balances within the umbrella of Executive advisories to help start her father’s war(s).
    The Department of Near East affairs includes Niger. Got yellowcake forgeries? The background for all of it was being set in May of 2001.

    Reply

  34. Franklin says:

    The incumbent with near 100 percent name recognition and all the advantages of state-controlled media STILL couldn’t get 66 percent of voters a month before the election.
    Three out of four candidates in the race are now saying the vote was illegitimate — that it was rigged.
    Bottom line the vote was rigged.

    Reply

  35. questions says:

    Kotz,
    I am not unaware of conflict, even inherent conflict between nations and individuals. (Have read my Hegel….) I think, however, that conflict can be exacerbated or eased by choices nations and individuals make. I think, further, that the US has chosen a vast array of actions that have exacerbated rather than eased conflict.
    My sense is not that we need godly intervention from some new messiah, but rather that we need to ratchet down the threat that we pose to other nations. North Korea is rational in its pursuit of nukes given how often the US intervenes in other nations’ politics. Iran is rational in pursuing nukes given US intervention over time. It might be nice if the US didn’t provide the rationality time and time again. Not a particularly wild and “deitific” idea.

    Reply

  36. devlin says:

    In reference to the poll you cite those numbers actually reinforce the idea that the final Iran tally is bogus.
    The poll in question said that, three weeks before the election, independent pollsters had determined that twice as many Iranis supported AhamadiNejad as they did Mousavi.
    And you’re saying that this supports the idea that the election was stolen?
    That has to be the most ridiculous attempt at professional “spinning” that I have ever seen.
    AhmadiNejad gave a lot of money, food, and educational opportunities to Iran’s poor and lower classes. He has not backed away from U.S. and Israeli aggression over Iran’s right to produce Nuclear Power. He has managed the country through four years of U.S. invasion next door.
    Mousavi wants “detente” with the West, and wants to privatize the oil fields (thereby taking away the money that finances the food, jobs, and education of Iran’s poor).
    The poor in Iran outnumber the middle class and wealthy some ten to one.
    The fact that Mousavi got the number of votes he did is the real surprise here — but people like you and Steve just can’t be satisfied with it.
    Gotta build that case for Regime Change, dontcha?
    Hey, here’s a thought:
    It’s not our oil. It’s not our land. They’re not our nuclear power plants, and Israel has no “Right to Exist” if it can’t accept that half of the territory it claims actually belongs to natives who have always been there.
    Lord, you Yanquis are presumptuous.
    AhamadiNejad won. He won fairly. And guess what?
    It doesn’t mean you get carte blanche to invade.

    Reply

  37. Franklin says:

    devlin,
    In reference to the poll you cite those numbers actually reinforce the idea that the final Iran tally is bogus.
    The presidential election cycle is less than one month in Iran. A poll taken almost as soon as the candidate slate was announced showed ONLY 34 percent for the incumbent president. The guy who was best known, and who had been in the job for 4 years could only get 34 percent of the people off the bat one month out of the election to say they were supporting him.
    There were a huge number of undecideds in the poll as well.
    Typically, if an incumbents numbers stink, those undecideds are going to stay home or vote for one of the alternatives.
    The obvious: Ahmadinejad’s numbers were soft a month out of the election. This was not surprising given the state of the Iranian economy.
    Given the poll numbers, Ahmadinejad’s best hope was a low-turnout first vote where the undecideds stayed home.
    In a high turnout environment there was no way he would win out-right on the first vote by almost 64 percent in a four way race.
    It would have been nice if there was a second poll done by the same group using the same methodology during the week of the election.
    However, reasoning based on the poll numbers that 64 percent of the vote was a likely outcome is bizarre.
    If a challenger had 34 percent and the incumbent had 16 percent and there were high undecideds — then yes — the challenger could potentially net a 64 vote win.
    An incumbent’s numbers though tends to have much less volatility, because he’s a known quantity to begin with. 34 percent for the incumbent a month out is bad news for the incumbent.
    As far as the criticism of Obama goes — at a bare minimum his policy moves have created openings.
    In the case of Iran, if the hardliners dig in their heels, it limits his options across a range of issues in the region.
    The situation may be much worse as a result of the election than it was a week ago, but were still no worse off than we were as recently as a year ago.

    Reply

  38. Fushururu says:

    It’s a lose – lose situation
    Had Moussavi won, he would have been accused as a puppet for a foreign power

    Reply

  39. Nadine Carroll says:

    Hey devlin,
    Who cares what any poll taken from outside the country three weeks before the election says, even if you make the leap of faith that people would answer it honestly and not worry about the secret police listening in?
    The Interior Ministry posted election numbers that said Ahmedinejad got twice the votes of Moussavi, in every province and at all times during the count. Even in Moussavi’s home town! That is phony as a three dollar bill.

    Reply

  40. devlin says:

    Obviously fake?
    There are lies, damn lies, and then statistics —
    and then there are the damn liars who use fudged statistics to prop up a stupid point.
    I guess the WaPo is also part of this conspiracy?
    Clemons and his peanut gallery of Washington Insiders —
    You people claimed to be disgusted with Bush, but really you were just disgusted with being locked out of power.
    Thanks to people like you, once the Obama presidency ends we’re going to see a resurgence of the Republican party —
    and it ain’t gonna be a pretty sight.

    Reply

  41. Nadine Carroll says:

    The Interior Ministry results were analyzed at this Iranian exile site:
    http://tehranbureau.com/category/commentary/
    There was a straight line correlation between the sets of votes all night. Obviously fake.
    Also, Roger Cohen, a NYT columnist, is in Tehran and is sounding mugged by reality. He quotes a protester he met on the street,
    “He was from the Interior Ministry. He showed his ID card. He said he’d worked there 30 years. He said he hadn’t been allowed in; nor had most other employees. He said the votes never got counted. He said numbers just got affixed to each candidate.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/opinion/15iht-edcohen.html?_r=1

    Reply

  42. kotzabasis says:

    Questions,
    In your seventh-day of ‘rest’ godly like created “a non-hostile world.”

    Reply

  43. easy e says:

    CONTINUED from previous post 1:06pm
    ….Change occurs in different ways. In some cases, it will come over time and it must come from within.
    The election and the players (Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, etc.) are a moot point.
    Time for everyone to wake up and avoid getting spun by the MIE, MSM and U.S. propaganda machine.

    Reply

  44. easy e says:

    Why all the frenzy?
    Dark western imperial forces continue to play a role in influencing elections throughout the planet. Given the history of Iran (think Mossadegh), reasonable minds must conclude that the various segments of its citizenry are quite cognizant of their real alternatives—given the pot of ulterior motive games being stirred by the Great Satan. This is a society that’s been victimized by outside forces before and seems to have developed a unique way to counteract. Perhaps at the root of everything is that Persia is a historic and proud culture that is determined to remain independent and puppet-free. Change occurs in different ways. In some cases, it will come over time and it must come from within.

    Reply

  45. Dan Kervick says:

    POA, all I mean is that instead of rushing out a la Andrew Sullivan with elaborate interpretations of events based on every rumor they hear, the WH seems to be taking some time to find out what is actually going on, and have been very reserved about their statements.
    But yes, I assume that once they think they know what is going on, they will try to spin it and use it selectively to advance whatever political agenda they settle on.

    Reply

  46. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “We’re reacting to concrete facts. We’re collecting them still.”
    “Collecting” doesn’t mean “accurately reporting”. Whatever facts they collect will be carefully sifted, rejected, tabled, publicized, or denied, depending on their political value.
    And “reacting” can mean many things, Dan, INCLUDING ignoring the collected “facts” in order to replace them with a more “suitable” story line.
    Who, in reporting these “facts”, is without a motive to spin them one way or another? You aren’t naive enough to still be buying into the fantasy of a responsible “Fourth estate” are you?
    And hmmmm, we can always count on the veracity of anything coming from an “unnamed White House official”, can’t we?

    Reply

  47. Dan Kervick says:

    What happened to Steve’s promised anonymized collection of written clips from Tehran.

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    The most reassuring thing I have read today, from ABC News quoting an unnamed White House official:
    “We’re reacting to concrete facts. We’re collecting them still.”

    Reply

  49. Dan Kervick says:

    I believe Leverett is wrong about a few things, but right about one important thing.
    Leverett is right to think that, had the election gone off without a hitch, with the legitimacy of the result accepted by almost all Iranians, then the result shouldn’t have mattered a great deal to US policy, and that in the aftermath of a re-election of Ahmadinejad, the US would still be well-advised to press forward on the diplomatic front.
    But clearly it *does* make a very important difference when the election does *not* go off without a hitch, and the legitimacy of the re-election is broadly contested in Iranian society. It is difficult to reach a durable agreement with a leader who is viewed by much of his public as a tyrant or usurper, and who is not viewed as legitimately speaking for his nation. It is hard to conduct sustained, consistent diplomacy in an atmosphere fraught with great tension and uncertainty. And American leaders would be hard-pressed to take any political risks in concluding an agreement which might be thrown out if Ahmadinejad were later removed.
    Also it is wrong to suggest that, even if the election had gone cleanly and decisively, the Iranian response to US overtures could be expected to be the same under Mousavi as under Ahmadinejad, on the theory that both are driven mainly by abstractly realistic “strategic considerations”. It seems pretty clear that the opposition to Ahmadinejad both among reformers and among parts of the more centrist clerical establishment is driven by opposition to Ahmadinejad’s isolationism and xenophobia, his diplomatic stridency, his obsession with “self-sufficiency” and his tendency to scare off foreign direct investment. There is plenty of reason to think that a Mousavi victory would have signaled a turn toward greater engagement and openness. Making a deal with Ahmadinejad would almost surely require more patience, more persistence and more diplomatic skill.
    Given the fact that this election is widely seen as illegitimate, and is apparently prompting revolutionary unrest in some very important parts of the country, it would be good if the saner powers in Iran could find a way to use the constitutional resources available to them either to remove Ahmadinejad, or invalidate this election and engineer a more carefully supervised re-vote.
    But as for Andrew Sullivan, he has no business calling anybody a “useful idiot”. His behavior over the past day seems similar to nothing so much as a naive and credulous pre-teen with a Facebook account. He is apparently passing on every internet and social network rumor he reads about the “Green Revolution”, without any critical filter or serious effort to discern truth from falsity, sometimes declaring the latest unsourced tweets and trills from locations unknown to be “confirmation” of whatever rumor is kicking around in his head. Didn’t his daddy ever teach him to be wary of strangers on the internet?
    We’ve seen this sort of breakdown from Sullivan before. He has shown himself to be very excitable and unreliable in a crisis.

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Chavez strikes me as the brighter of the two men”
    To say nothing of his extremely accurate olfactory accuity.

    Reply

  51. Nell says:

    Nadine Carroll: “they didn’t bother producing a plausible fraud; they just flagrantly faked the numbers. According to the Ministry of the Interior, Ahmedinejad received exactly twice Moussavi’s vote all night long and from every province of Iran. You can’t get faker than that.”
    Nadine, I appreciate that report, both because I was not following this story on Friday or Saturday, and now I’m having a hard time finding any numbers at all. Could you point me to a source that reports the Ministry of Interior’s announcements?

    Reply

  52. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I only see a couple of thousand of people in these protests…”
    Well, not on CNN, this morning they showed at least tens of thousands in the streets during one film clip. Trouble is, these people apparently hadn’t recieved a copy of the script, because they appeared to be celebrating.
    You can bet THAT film clip won’t be getting much air time.

    Reply

  53. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, as attention is diverted to the latest choreographed media extravaganza being beamed into our living rooms, Netanyahu delivers his much anticipated “rebuttal” to Obama’s destined-to-be-bullshit Cairo posturing.
    Now I ask you, what people in their right minds would agree to become a non-militarized state, smack dab next door to a nuclear power that thinks it is perfectly OK to lob a few million cluster bomblets into a civilian population, and engage in barbequeing women and children in white phosphorous?

    Reply

  54. yiannis says:

    If the establishment “stole” 10,000,000 votes as it is alleged and if there was such a strong interest that 85% of the people participated in the election, why aren’t more people protesting?
    I only see a couple of thousand of people in these protests…

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The dramatic events unfolding after the election of Ahmadinejad, whether legitimately or not, are also CRIPPLING Obama’s diplomacy and his Alice in wonderland Cairo speech….”
    Right on cue, the drooling faction of the extreme right makes the case that diplomatic relations with Iran are a waste of time.
    Gee, what a suprise. Who coulda guessed it?
    Would it be rude of me to suggest that Kotz catches a piggy-back ride on the first Patriot missile we send in?

    Reply

  56. JohnH says:

    questions–you miss two critical elements in your caution in finding a pattern: intent and money to back up the intent.
    Fact is, regime change in Iran is the US government’s goal. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to it. Color revolution is the preferred methodology. The current Iranian situation fits the color revolution pattern of “disputed election, massive youth-oriented street protests, and plenty of subsidies from U.S. government agencies.” In addition, the Western press serves to create an expectation of change and make sure that “world opinion” is on board.
    In fact, I can’t believe that the CIA would NOT have taken this opportunity to stir up trouble.
    Maybe the events were seeing are a direct result of their actions or perhaps they are merely a happy coincidence. We’ll never know.
    And what we are witnessing here is that certain parties had a horse in this race and they have yet to explain why.

    Reply

  57. questions says:

    JohnH,
    I’ve seen some suggestion that people were bussed in from the provinces to fill out the crowd. I think that somewhere between news blackouts, violence in the streets, budget cuts, language issues, fear of going out on a limb, the major outlets are being careful. HuffPo is using liveblogging and really big fonts, but there’s just not a lot of information right now.
    Anon.,
    As for the moonofalabama conspiracy stuff, one ought to be careful about finding patterns. Sometimes patterns are deliberate and sometimes they are accidental. The key is to know which this one is.
    It’s possible the color was adopted as a logo because it’s effective, it’s possible it was imposed because the CIA has only one idea. Certainly the US is capable of coloring coups around the world. Doesn’t mean we did it this time, and it doesn’t mean that Ahmadinejad really is a beloved leader.
    My sense is that Iran has urban/rural, rich/poor, religious and conservative/less so and more liberal tendencies similar to the US. Note the southern and Appalachian dislike of the current president. So Mousavi could have won without the CIA.
    Remember, “faces” in clouds are accidents, “faces” in the grills and bumpers and headlights of cars are deliberate. We don’t really know the status of the patterns you’re seeing.

    Reply

  58. WigWag says:

    Actually, now that I read it closer, Andrew Sullivan called Flynt Leverett “Ahmadinejad’s Useful Idiot” (see Daily Dish, 14 Jun 2009 06:58 pm)
    It seems that things aren’t just heating up in Iran; they’re heating up in the blogosphere as well.

    Reply

  59. questions says:

    Kotzabasis,
    There’s a little more to Obama’s notion of IR than you give credit to. If governments are less threatened by US pressure, that is, if they see themselves in a non-hostile world, then perhaps they behave in non-hostile ways. What the US has given Iran over the years is a coup, a nasty dictator, an excuse for an overly religious revolution, support of Iraq, Iran’s sworn enemy (remember we were for Saddam Hussein before we were against him), help for a 10 year long Iran/Iraq war…. Is it any wonder that the regime there is a little, umm, tense, when it comes to US overtures?
    Obama does not seem to govern for the moment, for convenience, for easy votes. In fact, he has pissed off the left on numerous issues in order to work for long term stability. He is pissing off the ultra pro Israel crowd, again for longterm ME stability. He “throws” people “under the bus” (really??) — which seems to me to suggest that institutions, issues, legitimacy and stability mean more than the electoral calculus for now. I remain impressed.
    And I still want to know why the vote count was faked the way it was. Overly unconcerned Khamenei doesn’t make sense, bad planning doesn’t make sense, I still think there may have been some attempt in a weird way to discredit Ahmadinejad. If the count is fake and he’s in only because of Khamenei’s support, there’s a heckuva debt. Unless, the vote wasn’t fake, but I’ve read nothing convincing that supports the numbers.

    Reply

  60. JohnH says:

    Ahmadinejad holds a big victory celebration:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8099501.stm
    Interesting that it’s barely covered in the American press–just look at Google news. Like here at TWN, it’s only Mousavi’s charges that get coverage.
    Hmmm-Something smell fishy here? Has their been a right wing coup in the American press?

    Reply

  61. anonymous says:

    Very very interesting post at Moon of Alabama:
    ttp://www.moonofalabama.org/2009/06/some-dots-you-may-
    connect.html
    Mousavi, Gorbanichar, Feith, Ledeen, Franklin, color coded
    revolutions…

    Reply

  62. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Our intelligence services consider them….yadayadayada”
    Would that be the same “intelligence services” that wrote the skit about Iraqi WMDs and shortly thereafter started shoving chemical lightsticks up Muslim rectums?

    Reply

  63. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Are you an American??”
    Shove it, you asshole. Prattle your ignorant horseshit to someone else.

    Reply

  64. WigWag says:

    Well it looks like one analyst actually believes Ahmadinejad won fair and square; Steve Clemons’ colleague at the New America Foundation, Flyntt Leverett gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he said claims of vote fraud are “wishful thinking” and the West should get over it.
    Leverett obviously disagrees with experts like Juan Cole, Gary Sick, Andrew Sullivan and Steve Clemons who believe that massive vote fraud makes the Ahmadinejad “victory” illegitimate.
    During the forum on Iran that Steve webcasted last week, Leverett was of the opinion that it didn’t matter whether Ahmadinejad or Mousavi won the election. He expressed the view that either candidate would drive the same bargain with the United States and that no matter who won, the Iranian regime would be driven by the same strategic considerations.
    What Leverett didn’t address (because no one anticipated it) was either massive vote fraud, or the perception of massive vote fraud on the part of millions of Iranians.
    It is difficult for anyone watching this saga to know the nature and extent of the vote fraud in Iran but what we do know is that millions of Iranians think the election was stolen. Legitimacy derives not just from an election actually being fair but also from the perception of the supporters of all the candidates that the election was fair. Regardless of the truth about the actual vote count (that we will probably never know), it is clear that a large segment of the Iranian population views Ahmadinejad as illegitimate. Unless they are using it euphemistically, the chant “death to Ahmadinejad” heard at many of the protest rallies suggests that large numbers of people would actually like to see him dead.
    Andrew Sullivan makes the interesting point that during his Cairo speech to the Muslim World, Obama referenced the bad behavior of the United States in supporting the coup against Mossedeigh. Sullivan suggests that recognizing Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy in the face of large scale Iranian skepticism would be analogous to supporting the 1953 coup all over again.
    The Obama Administration has a tough job ahead in figuring out the most effective way to actually engage Iran. On the one hand a deal that denies Iran nuclear weapons is desperately needed. (Without one the results of this election make a military attack on Iranian nuclear installations even more likely.) On the other had dealing with a regime so hated by large portions of the Iranian population, especially young Iranians may not be a strategy likely to ensure good relations in the long run when the regime actually falls.
    I hope Steve can impose on his friend Flynt Leverett to do a guest post on all of this. I also hope that if he does, Leverett drops the incantation that when it comes to Iran, the person who wins the Presidency doesn’t matter.
    Iranians seem to think it matters a lot.

    Reply

  65. Nadine Carroll says:

    Hi kotzabasis,
    Yes, Obama has extended the hand of friendship to Iran and received the middle finger in response. Which is what happened to every previous administration, but rarely so obviously. Now the Obama administration has painted themselves into a corner. They have precluded themselves from even talking sternly to Iran, because who is the US to say who has nuclear power, and so on? And as for actually doing anything to help topple the regime — well, too much time has been spent demonizing the neocons to even consider a forceful response, whether overt or covert.
    So much for the “Obama Effect”

    Reply

  66. Nadine Carroll says:

    Hey Sam, did you actually read the poll you cited? The question was not “should the US support Israel?” but “Is Israel committed to seeking a peace settlement with the Palestinians?”
    Of course the answer under current conditions really is no, because there is nobody to talk to. Abu Mazen’s authority scarcely extends to his mailbox. If he signed any deal — and I do mean ANY deal, define the terms as you like, short of Israel’s total extinction — Hamas would kill him and take over in the West Bank like they have in Gaza. Then they would renege on all previously signed agreements, just like they have in Gaza!
    This idea that a peace settlement is possible, or even desired by the Palestinian leadership or any of the Arab states, is a fantasy of Washington DC. The Saudis and the Palestinians have already explained their plans: they will set on their rear ends and demand Washington bring them Israeli concessions, for which they will give nothing in return, not even a gesture. This is what you get when you apologize to Arabs: no reciprocity, just more demands.

    Reply

  67. kotzabasis says:

    The dramatic events unfolding after the election of Ahmadinejad, whether legitimately or not, are also CRIPPLING Obama’s diplomacy and his Alice in wonderland Cairo speech, that mesmerized the ‘cerebral’ classes, and putting them on crutches. And all the ‘grand bargainers’ from Leverret to Juan Cole and the “hyper-active Clemons,” who has so little to show from his hyper activity, not to mention the ‘disciples’ of David Hume and Bertrand Russel, are totally and irreversibly discredited. For the question is, that while the Theocratic regime for its own survival will have to clamp down with an iron fist the modernist forces of Iran and its putative leaders such as Mousavi, Rafsanjani, and Khatami-I’m saying putative because although they are apparently the leaders of these forces they themselves are not part of that modernity-and incarcerate and jail, if not covertly kill, some of the members of the educated classes if they continue to threaten the existence of the Mullahcratic regime, how then would be possible for President Obama to proffer to the regime the olive branches of his diplomacy when the latter was in the process of deflowering democracy in Iran? How could he possibly claim, with any credibility, that America by showing to the world that it was living and practising its values-which according to his simplistic notion would transform anti-Americanism into a loving world –feast for America-would be changing its image, while at the same time was negotiating with the Mullahs at the tragic expense of the forces of modernity in Iran, when in fact Obama will be doing his own ‘Mossadegh act,’ launching his own “Operation Ajax,” which is his Cairo speech was one of the critical mea culpa of America, this time on the diplomatic domain which would be no less than a coup that would solidify and continue the existence of Iran as a dictatorship?
    Alas, in such terms will be told the story of Obama’s STILLBORN diplomatic overture toward rogue states and their sundry proxies.

    Reply

  68. samuel burke says:

    it looks like israels popularity in the united states is falling off a precipice…between iran and israel which do americans dislike most?
    http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/06/israel-radio-ran-a-scoop-this-morning-poll-data-showing-a-sharp-drop-in-americans-perception-that-israels-government-s.html

    Reply

  69. Nadine Carroll says:

    Dan Kervick,
    It also seems a little peculiar to talk about a “right wing” coup above a picture of Ahmedinejad hugging Hugo Chavez. What, is Chavez supposed to be a right-winger too? Economically, they are both populist socialists.
    Reports from Iran are starting to sound like it’s Khamenei, Ahmedinejad and the Revolutionary Guards against a lot of other people. In which case the Revolutionary Guard may simply function like the old Roman Praetorian Guard and pick the Emperor. Ahmedinejad may really become the center of power, not just the front man anymore.
    I don’t believe the powers that were willing to so flagrantly steal the election will just move aside even for a group of high-level jurists. If the regime survives, expect purges.

    Reply

  70. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, Nadine Carroll, some reports today suggest there might be a growing movement, even including high-level jurists, to get the Assembly of Experts to remove Khamenei, which could result in a constitutional path to setting aside the election results or to simply removing Ahmadinejad.

    Reply

  71. Dan Kervick says:

    John H,
    That’s a good point. I missed the headline in that post.
    Even calling Ahmadinejad “right-wing” is a somewhat misleading application of western habits of categorization. Ahmadinejad, like the early Islamic revolution itself, exhibits a combination of conservative and rightist elements in the social arena with a kind of populist socialism with Islamic characteristics in the economic realm.
    And obviously Chavez is no right-winger.

    Reply

  72. Nadine Carroll says:

    Dan Kervik,
    What numbers would be more accurate? Why the real counts, published in due course according to Iranian election law (which has not been followed) and overseen by international observers. The ones published as in previous elections, broken down by province, showing as one would expect in real data, different areas in Iran preferring candidates who came from their own region and/or ethnic group. Showing also a few anomalies and changes during the counting as votes from different areas come in, which is what you see in real data.
    The Iranian regime has never run a free election in terms of letting real reformers stand for office; but they have counted up the vote in a reasonably non-fraudulent manner before this. I never heard any charges that Ahmedinejad’s first election was stolen.
    Why do you ask? If the data they produced even resembled real data, it might be worth discussing. But they didn’t bother producing a plausible fraud; they just flagrantly faked the numbers. According to the Ministry of the Interior, Ahmedinejad received exactly twice Moussavi’s vote all night long and from every province of Iran. You can’t get faker than that.

    Reply

  73. Dan Kervick says:

    As WigWag says, Andrew Sullivan has a reader who has a dad who has a phone, and who polled “most Iranians” from his home on Afrika Boulevard in Tehran, whereby he has learned that said Iranian masses believe that “a lot” of the commandos on bikes are Arabs, and Hizbollah Arabs, at that. This explains why people in the street have been seen beating the crap out of said biker thugs .. ‘cuz you know, Persians would never beat up other Persians like that, over … I don’t know …something like politics.
    This shows the regime is desperate.
    Meanwhile, the again-infatuated Sullivan seems somewhat taken with the well-chiseled and low-riding radical chic of the Iranian masses:
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/face-of-the-day-9.html

    Reply

  74. nothankyou says:

    “Iran poses NO threat to our national security??? So I guess you
    don’t consider killing by the Iranian proxy army Hezbollah 200+
    Marines Kobar towers. How about killing our How about
    invading our embassy and holding diplomats hostage? IS that ok
    with you? Are you an American??”
    You either know no history or you don’t care, The below is in the
    public record, not denied by anyone:
    We attacked Hezbollah first, picking sides in a civil war.
    They responded by attacking US soldiers.
    We helped to install the Shah, overthrowing an elected
    government. Maybe you should look up the name “Mohammad
    Mosaddeq.” We supported the Shah and gave him safe haven
    when he was overthrown. The quite reasonable fear of many
    Iranians was that we would try to reinstall him.

    Reply

  75. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine Carroll,
    What numbers do you believe would be more accurate?

    Reply

  76. JohnH says:

    Dan Kervick–my problem is with linking Chavez and Ahmadinejad under a “right wing coup” headline. Chavez never staged a successful coup. He did jail time for attempting one in 1992. Since being elected in 1998, Chavez has one all his elections by wide margins. And with international election observers. Any suggestion that Chavez rules in Venezuela as the result of a coup is simply bogus.
    However, Chavez’ opponents, led by the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, did attempt a right wing coup in 2002.
    Putting Chavez under the “right wing coup” headline is simply part of an ongoing attempt to demonize a freely elected leader of a sovereign nation and set the stage for “democracy building” and another color revolution. Let’s not forget that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves if you count their Orinoco heavy crude, and there are humongous profits that could accrue to the Venezuelan people or to Big Oil.
    Chave

    Reply

  77. WigWag says:

    This is interesting (from Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish)
    If true, another sign of how desperate the regime is. A reader writes:
    Just got off the phone with my dad. He leaves in northern Tehran, off Afrika Blvd.
    He said that most iranians believe that a lot of the “commandos” on the bikes are Hezbollah arabs brought in to do to the citizens what a Persian cop would refuse to do. Accordingly when the protesters knock one of the biker thugs off they are being particularly brutal, believing that the rider is Arab.
    Bank storefronts have been smashed all over northern Tehran. Mousavi, Khatami and Rafsanjani are allegedly meeting at Mousavi’s house (who is under house arrest) and are planning their next move. People there are waiting for further instructions from Mousavi. In my dad’s neighborhood BBC Persia and Voice of America have been knocked off the satellite but not in all parts. Sorry this is rambling I’m getting constant calls from Tehran. Will speak to my father again in two hours and will let you know anything new.

    Reply

  78. Nadine Carroll says:

    Dan Kervik et. al.,
    We know one thing for sure about the Iranian elections, and we should not forget it: the government just stole the election by producing numbers that are obviously, flagrantly fake. They didn’t bother to produce plausible numbers, which they could easily have done, for instance by claiming that Ahmedinejad squeaked out a win on huge turnout from his supporters in the slums and the countryside. They just claimed that Ahmedinejad got twice Moussavi’s vote in every district, all night long, city and countryside, not even different in Moussavi’s (or the other two candidates’) home towns.
    Flagrant, in-your-face, to-hell-with-you fake numbers. So much for the ingrained caution of the Iranian regime, which we have sometimes heard pundits discuss.
    Now, why would they have felt the need to do that if Moussavi wasn’t winning in a landslide?

    Reply

  79. WigWag says:

    Al Arabiya is reporting that its correspondents have been asked to leave Iran and that its Tehran bureau has been “closed” by the Iranian authorities. Al Jazeera is reporting that some of its correspondents have been harassed or attacked.
    I guess it’s not just the Western Press that Ahmadenejad doesn’t like.

    Reply

  80. pantsonfire says:

    Pissed of American:
    Iran poses NO threat to our national security??? So I guess you don’t consider killing by the Iranian proxy army Hezbollah 200+ Marines Kobar towers. How about killing our How about invading our embassy and holding diplomats hostage? IS that ok with you? Are you an American??
    Iran funds Hezbollah, which has much American blood on its hands, including the Marines. Our intelligence services consider them the “A team ” of terrorism, fully funded by Iran, with operatives here and all through South America, and growing with their new buddy Chavez.

    Reply

  81. JohnH says:

    “This site’s cards fairly clearly on the table.” Yes, indeed. And it’s not about democracy in Iran. This site has never cared a whit about democracy, except for governments that the US doesn’t like. Otherwise, how can you explain this site’s hostility to democratically elected leaders (Venezuela, Bolivia), silence about other questionable elections (Mexico) and reversal (Haiti), and general lack of interest in the rise of democracy in Latin America and the tyrannical “moderate” governments of the Middle East.
    So what explains this site’s captivation by the Iranian election? Either way, the result was going to be a highly conservative, marginally democratic government. Either way, the nuclear program was going forward along with relations with Hamas and Hezbollah. Style might change, but not substance.
    The difference could be explained by the fact that Mousavi championed trade liberalization. In other words, the powerful economic interests that fund NAF and most other think tanks may well have had a horse in this race. And it wasn’t Ahmadinejad.
    This scenario would be consistent with a “color” revolution.

    Reply

  82. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t have any problem with the linking of Chavez and Ahmadinejad. The two have been close allies and friends for a few years now, and follow an aligned anti-imperialist, anti-US foreign policy, solidified by several pacts they have signed over the past few years. They both practice a form of domestic petro-populism. Chavez’s Bolivaran democratic socialism is similar to, though I think more coherent than, Ahamadinejad’s top-down populism, which appears to me to be more made up as he goes along. Chavez strikes me as the brighter of the two men.

    Reply

  83. Nell says:

    Never mind; I found the discussion of the NAF-TFT poll in posts on June 10 and 11.
    The huge undecided number makes it compatible with a wide range of election outcomes. We could use a lot more actual information and analysis and a lot less fearmongering. The Chavez picture and Steve’s comments in that post put this site’s cards fairly clearly on the table.

    Reply

  84. jonst says:

    This seems very familiar. Ukraine? ‘Orange Revolution’? ‘cooked’? Partially ‘cooked’? Purely ‘homegrown’? Got no idea.
    If it is ‘partially cooked’, even if only slightly so, my guess is Ahmedinejad will be able to say ‘yes, yes, you and I disagree….but this is Great Satan, taking his best shot at us in years’. And enough, maybe just barely enough, but enough, of Ahmedinejad’s opponents will buy that.

    Reply

  85. Nell says:

    You don’t have to go back to the 1960s to find intense repression of peaceful demonstrators and journalists attempting to cover them.
    You could just take a look at the (studiously ignored) mass detentions and tear-gassing of protestors and passers-by at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and the pre-emptive clampdown in Minneapolis before and during the Republican National Convention.
    Roundup of coverage linked at my name.

    Reply

  86. Nell says:

    @ Dan Kervick:
    Thanks, you completely express my p.o.v. on this situation.
    I haven’t read the Note in a good while, and came over because I’d seen in another blog’s citation of the May election poll that the New America Foundation was one of its sponsors — so expected that Steve might be a little less in thrall to the ‘ZOMG it’s a coup!’ perspetive than other bloggers. Guess not.
    Still, good to know that the poll has been discussed here. Can you point me to previous posts and/or comments where it’s been brought up?
    Thanks very much in advance.

    Reply

  87. ... says:

    don and johnh apparently steve is unable to draw any parallels with the usa in the 60’s and iran circa now… this shit just doesn’t happen in a ‘dumbocracy’ according to the dumbed down idea of dumbocracy circa 2009….

    Reply

  88. ... says:

    what we know about wigwag : everything will be shown to exemplify israel in the most favourable light while negating all other countries in the same region on a consistant basis…. what we can conclude : wigwag is dishonest, and not beneath using every chance to give the latest propaganda recipe from a israel-centric pov… amazing how this person is apparently american…

    Reply

  89. Andy Inhall says:

    When will Liebermen and the right understand that they are not going to inspire people on the streets anywhere outside of Kansas.
    Sometimes saying nothing is the best policy.
    Foreign interference will give the regime an excuse to crack down further and could divide the opposition.
    Fools.

    Reply

  90. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So far, on the media coverage, the largest gathering of people I have seen pictured was this morning on CNN. As far as the eye could see, there was a mob of people in apparent celebration, flags waving, cheering, etc.. Seemingly tens of thousands, if not hunreds of thousands.
    Our own media, in its purposeful effort to marginalize the American anti-war movement, has a habit of singling out the more radical and bizzarre of the participants in anti-war protests, in an attempt to portray anti-war protestors as fringe leftist lunatics. I suspect that the coverage of events in Iran is slanted as well, both in imagery and commentary. Remember the “actual photographs” of Saddam’s “weapons factories” and “mobile biological weapons labs”?
    The logical and common-sensical conclusion we can reach about events in Iran is that we really have no idea about the true nature of events, because the odds are running 99.9% in favor of the premise that we are being bullshitted in one way or another. The left is feeding us shit, and the right is feeding us shit. So whether you glom your propaganda from Fox News, or MSNBC, you are being punked in one direction or the other.
    Its interesting how smoothly the spin on this Iranian election dovetails into the Israel agenda, and the spectre of a military conflict with Iran. Are we now being provided with the rationale for another despicable Obama about-face concerning diplomacy over war? Perfect. De-legitimize the election, further demonize the Iranian leadership, paint a picture of a citizenry ill content with a stolen election, and bingo, you have the atmosphere through which you can proclaim the futility of engaging in diplomatic efforts. A stance, I might add, that this master “diplomat” Hillary, has already publically assumed in her statements, and Israel is now screaming from the rooftops, joined by select American senators and Congresspeople.
    And are we to believe the “informed” Iranian insiders that approach a noted American blogmiester, (who of late is giving media commentaries on the events in Iran), do not have agendas of their own, inviting a certain “spin” to their confidential musings?
    Like I said before, we are being led around like a bunch of mindless idiots.
    If you think for one minute that the leaders of Israel or the United States give one iota of a shit about what the Iranian people want, then you are a damned fool. The only “democratic processes” that these leaders care about is the ones that have the desired results that further unspoken covert agendas.
    We don’t know the truth, and we probably never will. But its pretty obvious that we are getting closer and closer to fullfilling Israel’s wish, and committing American money and manpower to once again militarily engaging a country that poses absolutely NO risk to our national security.
    (Whatsamatter with these Iranian leaders, haven’t they heard about “freespeech zones” yet? Gads, backwards heathens. You gotta get those pesky dissidents out of the camera’s eye. Then you can beat and arrest them with impunity. Thats how a REAL democracy does it, eh?)

    Reply

  91. JohnH says:

    If beating street protesters disqualifies a country from being a democracy, I guess Steve would have to admit that the United States gets disqualified, too.
    Where was he in the 1960s? And has he attended any large demonstrations in Washington lately? The police there greet protests with an overwhelming armed presence to stifle dissent.

    Reply

  92. Arun says:

    The legitimacy of Ahmedinejad is for Iranians to sort out, not the United States foreign policy establishment.
    Of course, as individuals we have our opinions. The world also had its opinion about Bush-Gore 2000. So what?

    Reply

  93. Don Bacon says:

    Dan,
    Please don’t lose patience. This is blogging at its best, an instant give-and-take on rumors, facts, whatever. The truth has a good chance of emerging from what you say, from what WigWag says, Steve, and others when it is subjected to the built-in BS filter that is a feature of blogging. Undisciplined is good, I claim. Get it out there and let people go at it. But then I believe in a 9/11 conspiracy so there you go.

    Reply

  94. Don Bacon says:

    I agree with Steve: It’s bizarre to claim that ongoing street protests over alleged stolen elections are a sign of democracy. We don’t do it. 😉

    Reply

  95. sdemetri says:

    Dan: http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/
    A real, honest, independent investigation would lay to rest many, if
    not all, of the zaniest conspiracy theories out there, especially the
    one contained in the Kean/Zellikow report.
    If the Iranian leadership is in fact fractured by this election, I think
    it is worth watching what the war with Iran crowd will be up to.
    There appears little stomach for that with Obama’s military, but a
    regime turned inside out, if that is the case, must certainly look
    like an opportunity that mustn’t be squandered. Even if only in
    their rhetoric.

    Reply

  96. Dan Kervick says:

    I am completely open to the idea that what is happening in Iran is a coup by the ruling group around Ahmadinejad. I am also completely open to the idea that Ahmadinejad won the election, and that what is happening is an attempted putsch by either reformists, or by the centrist elites around Rafsanjani, or by some combination of these.
    Going into the election, I hoped Mousavi would win. On the other hand, I recognized that the only poll I saw prior to the election had Ahmadinejad far ahead. There might have been reason for some skepticism about the reliability of the poll. But equally, there was no reliable information, so far as I am aware, that Mousavi was ahead.
    It would be well if Iran could manage to defeat Ahmadinejad democratically and constitutionally. Ahmadinejad is a buffoon, an ultra-nationalist xenophobe and an economic incompetent, who appears to function inside a bubble of conspiracy theories more outrageous than those peddled by the most zany conspiracy nuts of the American right or left. For example, not only does he appear to believe some of the usual 9/11 conspiracies, he also claimed last year that the names of the 9/11 victims had never even been published. It is no wonder that many reformists and centrists want this nitwit gone.
    But what I am quickly losing patience for in the media and the blogosphere is the undisciplined rumor-mongering, the enthusiastic stenographic repetition of the opinions of people with whom one agrees, the transcription of every little twitter tweet as though it is a verified piece of news, and the quick-off-the-mark publication of pieces of instant “analysis” that in some cases appear to have been pre-written, and are filled with authoritative-sounding pronouncements from observers who are in absolutely no position to have well-informed opinions at this point about the voting behavior of a sprawling, and somewhat closed, country of seventy million people.
    It is obvious that many people are attempting to exploit these events as an opening for a revolutionary moment, and that for such people the question of *how Iranians actually voted* is of little significance. But I would suggest that for a country that purports to have an interest in democracy, finding out how people actually voted is the chief question.
    Obama sensibly said before the election that it was good that Iranians were having a robust debate, and that such a debate would make it easier to find ways to engage with Iran after the election, no matter who won. I sincerely hope Obama has not allowed himself to become entangled in some crazy Bay of Pigs skullduggery here.

    Reply

  97. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “The Iranians view the hardline clerical establishment in Iran in the same way that citizens in Russia (and the rest of the Soviet Republics) viewed communist party apparatchiks; with contempt.”
    This is not what came out of the recent Iran poll discussed here. Perhaps WigWag conducted his own poll to uncover this “contempt”.
    Nah, he just made it up.
    from the poll:
    At the stage of the campaign for President when our poll was taken, 34 percent of Iranians surveyed said they will vote for incumbent President Ahmadinejad. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s closest rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi, was the choice of 14 percent, The number one priority Iranians have for their government is improving the Iranian economy, very closely followed by ensuring free elections, a free press and better trade and relations with the West.
    For 96 percent of Iranians, the Supreme Leader and the President are influential and important institutions in the Iranian government. However, seven in ten Iranians correctly think the President has limited but important power in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; only two in ten Iranians believe the President is the most important official in the Iranian government.
    Despite the overwhelming Iranian desire for a fully democratic system, the U.S. working to spread democracy inside Iran would not improve Iranian opinion of America, nor would brokering a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Apart from Israel, Iranians now consider the United States as representing Iran’s greatest threat.
    While less a third of Iranians now have a favorable view of the United States itself, almost half think favorably of Americans, about the same percentage who think favorably of the French and Arabs.

    Reply

  98. Don Bacon says:

    from the files:
    Laura Rozen, Jan. 18, 2007
    Sources close to the administration’s Iran policy say the primary vehicle for U.S. government planning on Iran is the Iran-Syria Policy and Operations Group, an inter-agency body created in early 2006 that includes representatives and Iran specialists from the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, and other agencies.
    The overall group has four or five subgroups, including a recently combined one that focuses on “public diplomacy and promoting democracy” in Iran. That subgroup doled out some of the $85 million that Congress approved to support pro-democracy efforts in Iran.

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  99. WigWag says:

    So what have we learned from the three most recent elections in the Middle East?
    1) The Israelis are behaving more like Europeans every day. Like the French, Germans, Italians (and soon the British) they elected as Prime Minister the most right wing main stream candidate who competed. And the Israelis elected right wing and far right wing candidates to the Knesset in the same way that Europeans elected right wing and far right wing candidates to the European Parliament. In both Israel and throughout Europe, parties of the left were marginalized.
    2) The idea that Hasan Nasrallah and Hezbollah became more popular as a result of the 2006 war with Israel was exposed as a myth. Hezbollah won no more seats in 2009 than they had won before the war. Despite their overwhelming popularity amongst the Shia, the Hezbollah coalition received virtually no votes from Sunni or Druze Lebanese and the Christian candidate allied to Hezbollah was trounced. While Hezbollah may be militarily powerful in Lebanon, for the foreseeable future they are likely to remain a minority party whose popularity doesn’t extend beyond the sectarian group they represent.
    The majority of the population in Lebanon does not want to define their existence as “resistance to Israel” and they would much rather be aligned with the West (especially the United States) than with Iran or Syria. The Lebanese election demonstrates that a significant majority of Lebanese have no more desire to be a vassal state of Iran or Syria than the Poles or Czechs desired to be vassals of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
    3) The Iranians view the hardline clerical establishment in Iran in the same way that citizens in Russia (and the rest of the Soviet Republics) viewed communist party apparatchiks; with contempt. Many Iranians seems to view their own government with far more disdain than they view the United States. In fact, the election is in part a reflection of Iranian disgust with their leaders anti-Western policies. Anyone who goes to youtube can see this for themselves. The videos of the street demonstrations show people chanting not “death to America,” but “death to Ahamadenjad” and “death to the coup.”

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  100. Don Bacon says:

    from the files:
    March 5, 2006
    Cheney daughter leads ‘cold war’ on mullahs
    THE war in Iraq is her father’s business but Elizabeth Cheney, the American vice-president’s daughter, has been given responsibility for bringing about a different type of regime change in Iran.
    Cheney, a 39-year-old mother of four, is a senior official in the State Department, which has often been regarded as hostile territory by Dick Cheney’s White House team. Nonetheless father and daughter agree it would be better for the mullahs’ regime to collapse from within than to be ousted by force.
    The question is whether democratic reform can be achieved before Iran becomes a nuclear power. That is the younger Cheney’s job. In the State Department she is referred to as the “freedom agenda coordinator” and the “democracy czar” for the broader Middle East. “She’s fantastic and dynamic,” said a colleague. –TimesOnLine
    Elizabeth Cheney headed the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG), established in March 2006, a unit within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

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