June 15, 2009

"Hundreds of thousands of opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defied an Interior Ministry ban Monday and streamed into central Tehran..."

"... to cheer their pro-reform leader in his first public appearance since elections that he alleges were marred by fraud."

59 comments:

ajf said...

Unless they're chanting "marg bar eslam" (death to islam) this is irrelevant and probably orchestrated to inoculate the islamists. Mousavi is just as much an islamist dirtbag as Ahmadinejad.

MadisonMan said...

I am cheered to see the protests against Ahmadinejad. But I am also afraid for the protestor's safety.

MadisonMan said...

That should be protestors', of course.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Sorta off topic but I find it strange when I see protesters in foreign countries waving signs in their native language as well as English. I also saw a picture slideshow on MSN that showed the Iranian cops wearing uniforms and riot shields with POLICE emblazoned on the back. Not in Farsi but in English.

Balfegor said...

I'm sort of undecided here. It's clearly in the US interest to undermine the election results (even if Obama probably won't have the guts to do it), but those election results may be more or less accurate (note, though, that their presentation is a little misleading -- their poll had Ahmedinejad in the 30s and his challenger in the teens, just with 60% undecided).

I'm pretty suspicious of all polling conducted in Iran, so I really have no idea. Sure a hundred thousand people swarming the capital with armed thugs holding them back is good imagery, but it doesn't necessarily translate into a genuine reflection of the popular will, any more than any protest does. It just indicates that large numbers of people are sufficiently pissed off that Ahmedinejad won that they are willing to take to the streets to complain about it volubly.

Still, completely without regard to the truth or accuracy of the vote results, we have a good opportunity here to drive a wedge in the Iranian population, and we ought to take it.

But I am also afraid for the protestors' safety.

With good reason. There have already been a fair number of fatalities.

Roger J. said...

Is there any evidence that the mullah's grip on Iran is loosening?
My take: wont matter who wins the presidency. The mullahs run Iran.

scinfinity said...

Is it wrong to notice that one of the reasons Bush went into Iraq was to try and get democracy to spread in the ME?

Is it also wrong to notice that, apparently, it is actually working?

garage mahal said...

LOL

Jason (the commenter) said...

Pictures by people in the protests. And yes, Hoosier Daddy, most of them have signs in English. English is the international language. If they can get the foreign press to take pictures of their signs everyone in the world will be able to read them. Stuff like that puts a lot of pressure on their government and ours.

Hoosier Daddy said...

My take: wont matter who wins the presidency. The mullahs run Iran.

Well it looks like there is enough turmoil that they're looking into an investigation of the election. It may be that the mullah's are increasingly aware of the dissatisfaction of a good chunk of the populace. Maybe the Iranians are expecting at least the same kind of electoral process the Arab's next door are getting.

Hoosier Daddy said...

And yes, Hoosier Daddy, most of them have signs in English. English is the international language. If they can get the foreign press to take pictures of their signs everyone in the world will be able to read them. Stuff like that puts a lot of pressure on their government and ours..

That I can understand but I find it weird the cops uniforms and riot shields say Police in English.

NKVD said...

Mullahs relinquish power!

Feminists vote Republican!

Stay tuned for all the late breaking newzzz...

Hoosier Daddy said...

Is it also wrong to notice that, apparently, it is actually working?.

Well as you can see from garage's response, it isn't. Cause elections in Iran were smooth, fair and without fraud until Bush invaded Iraq.

scinfinity said...

Well it looks like there is enough turmoil that they're looking into an investigation of the election.

To be honest, I fully suspect that this is just a white-wash waiting to happen. Given that THEY stole the election, I see no reason to suspect that they will "out" themselves.

LOL

You can laugh if you so desire. One of the very much expressed goals of the invasion of Iraq is to encourage the spread of democracy throughout the ME. Use Iraq as the start of the spread and see the other countries in the area see what Iraq is doing and achieve the same for themselves.

Sad thing is, Bush's foreign policy could well end up being one of the most brilliant strategies in human history...and his critics won't give him the tiniest sliver of credit for it. They will, in fact, deny he did anything at all.

Anthony said...

The mullahs run Iran.

True, but this may be shaking the foundations of the mullahs.

In any case, at the very least it means the end of the WMD program -- the mullahs are not crazy about it, the hardline political leader has been pushing it.

Fred4Pres said...

Jews need not apply. Might offend the Iranians. Election fraud, what election fraud?


Andrew Sullivan silent on his demigod voting present on this one...probably because Ross is not gay.

Balfegor said...

Given that THEY stole the election, I see no reason to suspect that they will "out" themselves.

Sure. There's a question of motive here, though -- why did the theocrats bother to steal the election? They can already veto any candidate they don't like. If they didn't want a Mousavi presidency, they had a perfectly legal, constitutional way of blocking him -- just disqualify him from running. The system is already legally rigged in their favour, so there's no need to go rigging the election itself.

Roger J. said...

For the record, I will be elated if, in fact, the Mullah's grip is weakening; unfortunately, I agree with scinfinity's analysis. An investigation (in the US we seem to call them "blue ribbon panels," or "commissions,") is not a bad move to defuse any immediate crises. I don't think the Mullah's are without some sense of PR skills.

scinfinity said...

No argument they don't need to do so. Tyrannical dictators often like to undergo pointless voting machinations to provide a lame belief that they have any legitimacy.

I'm amazed, honestly, that nobody said "Well, after what Bush did in 2000, who are we to judge?"

In any case, at the very least it means the end of the WMD program -- the mullahs are not crazy about it, the hardline political leader has been pushing it.

I disagree. What harm has done to the mullahs? Look at it from their view: The world listens to whatever they say and will do almost anything they want to do.

I don't think there is anybody on the world stage who will do the protesters any good. Courage is in eminently short supply on the world stage/

Balfegor said...

To explain my point a little better, if there was a conspiracy to rig the election, I just don't think the clerics did it, since they already have a legal way to ensure the election turns out the way they want, through the Guardian Council (which also appoints the theological scholars who elect the Supreme Leader).

Dr Weevil said...

HD: Why do you assume 'police' on Iranian uniforms is English? It was a French word before it was English, and a Frenchman who asked why our gendarmes have a French word on their squad cars would be displaying his ignorance. Though taken from French, it is perfectly good English now.

It looks like 'police', borrowed directly or indirectly from French or English, may just be the Farsi word for police.

Jim said...

scifinity -

Bush's critics may not give him credit, but that doesn't mean that history won't.

The people here who are so critical of Bush are no different than all the Leftists who were so uber-critical of Reagan during the 80s. Although it's now fashionable on the Left to claim that they were with Reagan all along (see both Clinton and Obama), the plain fact of the matter is that they weren't. History moved on despite their protestations, and now they are forced to lie to avoid being consigned to the "dustbin of history."

I was just reading an article a day or so ago about the recent Lebanese elections. Prominent Lebanese are crediting their own elections to Bush's decision to bring democracy to Iraq. They pointed that before 2003, there were no real elections in Lebanon. They pointed out that the world holding its breath to find out how Hezbollah fared in the elections would have been an unheard of phenomenon prior to the invasion. This isn't me. This isn't some "right wing attack machine" or anything of the sort saying it. It is the Lebanese themselves who are saying it.

This isn't the first time the mullahs have fixed an election in Iran. There have been widespread allegations about fraud in previous elections previously. There have even been smaller scale clashes with police before. But this has the feeling of something larger and more fundamental to it. If they (hopefully) succeed, then it may well be that one of the stories they tell is one of inspiration from the budding democracy next door. It remains to be seen if that's the case, but it's hardly a leap of logic to believe that it could well be.

scinfinity said...

To explain my point a little better, if there was a conspiracy to rig the election, I just don't think the clerics did it, since they already have a legal way to ensure the election turns out the way they want, through the Guardian Council (which also appoints the theological scholars who elect the Supreme Leader).

I doubt we'll ever understand. If their guy finished 3rd, which leaked results seem to indicate, then it makes no sense to protect him.

But, they have reasons that nobody here seems to know.

Hoosier Daddy said...

It looks like 'police', borrowed directly or indirectly from French or English, may just be the Farsi word for police..

Wouldn't it be written in Farsi text then?

cokaygne said...

It is all Bush's fault.

daredevil_66 said...

The "Police" labeling on the riot squad gear could be as simple as they buy their riot equipment from the French or South Korean manufacturers. I don't think they opted for the Farsi customization package. :-P

traditionalguy said...

The radical Islamist form of Islam wants to destroy its enemies more than it wants to live in a peaceful democratic country. Ah-mad-inejad is the Mullah's prefect agent to get wars started. But now the young people born after 1980 want a vote on their being cannon-fodder, just like their Iraq shite friends have been given by that Moron Bush.

rhhardin said...

He's their Palin.

garage mahal said...

You can laugh if you so desire. One of the very much expressed goals of the invasion of Iraq is to encourage the spread of democracy throughout the ME..

I just think it's a little more complicated than that. They don't even speak the same language as in Iraq, for one. I also think it must all look a little schizophrenic from their perspective - raising with one hand and destroying with the other.

Alex said...

The Iranian student protesters - yet another group Obama has thrown under the bus.

Alex said...

garage mahal - on the side of the mullahs since day one!

Hoosier Daddy said...

They don't even speak the same language as in Iraq, for one..

LOL!

scinfinity said...

I just think it's a little more complicated than that. They don't even speak the same language as in Iraq, for one. I also think it must all look a little schizophrenic from their perspective - raising with one hand and destroying with the other.

People would rather be free than enslaved.

Language, really, has no bearing on that.

Envy of others' happiness is an exceptionally powerful motivator.

Alex said...

People would rather be free than enslaved.

Really? My take is that 80% of the people would rather have security then freedom. If you look at the primates(from where we came) you don't see any instinct for freedom at all!

Quayle said...

And where is our shiny new leader on all this? He's going to speak at 5 PM.

How interesting that Obama thought and acted like he could transcend the realities of the ME, and escape the vexing problem that his predecessors have all had to face: the choice between stability or freedom.

In advance of Obama’s speech, I’m willing to go out on a limb and predict that Obama will choose ME stability over freedom, because an unstable ME will jeopardize his domestic policy goals.

No doubt Obama will be call for restraint and dialogue. And the pro-western students in Iran will get nothing from Obama except warmed over platitudes to sustain them.

And once the ME dictators get that signal, the repressions will accelerate.

If I am wrong, I’ll be back tonight or tomorrow to admit my error and give praise to Obama for standing up for freedom.

But please allow me to not hold my breath until then.

Alex said...

Our "Dear Leader" is too busy choosing mustard/catsup for his hamburger to be bothered by poor Iranian students being slaughtered by the mullahs.

L. E. Lee said...

ajf wrote
"Unless they're chanting "marg bar eslam" (death to islam) this is irrelevant and probably orchestrated to inoculate the islamists."
The person who wrote this first comment to this post should look in the mirror. He is obviously the bigot in the room.

traditionalguy said...

This whole Persian Empire crap seems antediluvian to me. Ann Coulter's suggestion after 9/11/2001 remains the only operative plan, except the vague divide and conquor strategy pre-dating the Neocons. But our President Obama actually seems to favor victory by the sufi Islam that he respects so much.

Leland said...

I think Quayle has the right take, as far as US reaction. Obama can't respond negatively to Iranian governments activity, because it would detract from his domestic agenda. Can't have a major civil war in the ME causing hawkish Democrats to wonder why we are worried about health care socialization while making huge cuts in the QDR.

Balfegor said...

The Iranian student protesters - yet another group Obama has thrown under the bus.

Not yet -- he's just waiting to see which way the political winds are blowing, like he did with Georgia when it was invaded by Russia. If public opinion in the US supports the protesters, Obama will follow along obediently.

Ann Coulter's suggestion after 9/11/2001 remains the only operative plan

Eh, yeah. Right. Um. If we tried that, all the conspiracy theories would be true, and the Arab street (and the Persian street, and the Pakistani street, etc.) would be entirely justified in erupting with violence and outrage against the United States.

Fred4Pres said...

Obama sighed, people died.

Andrew Sullivan cried:

"What a bitch that Sarah Palin is..."

Anthony said...

scinfinity --

My statement regarding the end of the WMD program revolves around the fact that the religious leadership in Iran does not seem that suypportinve of nuclear weapons, the program grows out of the hardline political leadership, especially Amindinijaed.

So if he goes, maybe the WMD program goes with him.

bagoh20 said...

"They don't even speak the same language as in Iraq, for one"

That's beautiful! Maybe they speak Austrian.

"Democracy" means midget sex in most languages.

garage mahal said...

*head slap*

They speak The Muslim. What am I thinking.

The Exalted said...

i don't see how an iranian hardright coup in contravention of the expressed will of the people proves bush right or makes his invasion of iraq one of the brilliantest decisions in galactic history. please enlighten.

The Exalted said...

two more points:

why didn't the clerics veto moussavi? because they didn't think he would win. the goal is to preserve as much superficial legitimacy as possible.

why hasn't the administration come out guns'a'blazin on the side of the student protestors and moussavi? because, uh, american support is not exactly the gold standard for winning popularity contests in iran. think.

scinfinity said...

i don't see how an iranian hardright coup in contravention of the expressed will of the people proves bush right or makes his invasion of iraq one of the brilliantest decisions in galactic history. please enlighten.

In the end, America wanted democracy to be a burning desire in the ME. This could be the time when Iranians decide that the mullahs are not what they want.

If we can get the people to overthrow their dictators due to a desire for freedom...then Iraq was a brilliant move.

why hasn't the administration come out guns'a'blazin on the side of the student protestors and moussavi? because, uh, american support is not exactly the gold standard for winning popularity contests in iran. think.

Obama is allegedly quite popular. He is supposed to "rebuild our image" --- apparently by REALLY pissing off our allies, as opposed to just KIND OF pissing off our allies.

traditionalguy said...

Ah-mad-dinejad has actually announced that a nuclear exchange with Israel will work out great since murdering all of the Jews in exchange for losing the the lives of most of these rioting young Iranian citizens is definitely worth the cost. No wonder they are angry at their Mad Man. What did Ann coulter suggest anyway? The time for that action is draining away as we speak. The entire fight of WW2 can be accurately seen as the need to beat the German exterminators of both Jews and American Jew lovers to the weaponizing of U-235 and Plutonium for radioactive super-bombs which world Physicists had figured out could be done by September of 1939.

Salamandyr said...

I doubt it will happen, but a reformation in Iran would pretty much destroy that last vestiges of the insurgency in Iraq.

In addition to yet more millions with the ability to breathe free air, that's something to hope for.

Balfegor said...

"They don't even speak the same language as in Iraq, for one"

That's beautiful! Maybe they speak Austrian
.

You laugh, but it's a fair point. I chuckled at how ignorant Obama was when he tried to argue that the war in Iraq was detracting from Afghanistan by siphoning much needed Arabic translators into the Iraqi theater, when they could have been put to such better use in Afghanistan. Where they mostly speak Pashto.

But Iraq and Iran do have different majority languages, so democratic developments reflected in Iraqi media probably don't travel as smoothly over into Iran as they do into, say, Saudi Arabia or Syria. Where -- let's be fair -- they don't seem to have had much effect as of yet.

Christopher said...

Garage Mahal wrote:

*head slap*

They speak The Muslim. What am I thinking.

Oh, please. Not a single person in this thread who has expressed any position at all about anything has suggested that everybody in the Middle East speaks 'Muslim', nor that they're exactly the same because they're Muslims, or whatever. You're just trying to tar those who disagree with you as racists, by suggesting that they're incapable of seeing the differences between Arabs and Persians.

However, it's your claim, that the events that have taken place in Iraq since 2003 could have had no impact on the events taking place in Iran today, that is objectively racist. It assumes that people of Persian descent are incapable of seeing, forming opinions on, and reacting to events happening in a neighboring country. You're basically suggesting that Iranians are so stupid that they're only capable of understanding things that 'happen' in their own language.

That's terribly patronizing, and also objectively stupid. The American Revolutionary War had a huge impact in other countries -- even some, like France, where the inhabitants didn't speak English. Fascism, an Italian invention, had a massive influence on German politics despite the language barrier. The same with the October Revolution in Russia, which had a worldwide impact, and influenced political developments in countries that didn't speak Russian.

There has been an objective increase in democratic freedoms in the Middle East and Central Asia that objectively started after September 11th, and after the neo-conservatives started pushing democracy hard in the region.

Democratic reforms in Kuwait, started after the first Gulf War, have picked up steam since 2002. The Lebanese had an actual democratic election for once, as opposed to a circus orchestrated by Syria and Iran (I wonder how they work together, since they speak different languages!). In Pakistan, democracy has advanced, albeit fitfully and painfully.

It may or may not be true that the forced democratization of Iraq and Afghanistan has had an influence on this process. I personally suspect that it has, although it's entirely possible that I'm wrong.

However, if this forced democratization hasn't had an impact, it's not because people of Persian descent are too stupid to understand what's happening in their own region because it's not 'happening' in their language. Again, that position is not only objectively racist, it's also (as so many racist positions are) stupid and ahistorical.

Quayle said...

If I am wrong, I’ll be back tonight or tomorrow to admit my error and give praise to Obama for standing up for freedom.

Well, I wasn't wrong.

Obama doesn't want America to be a political football in Iran. My point: what planet has he been living on?

Obama said we didn't have observers on the ground in Iran, so that we can't say what really happened. My point: that statement only illustrates the problem - why didn't the international community have observers on the group? Because they aren't allowed by the regime, yet Obama seems to accept that fact as normal.

In reality, the absence of international observers calls the Iranian election into question ipso facto.

Kirk Parker said...

F4P,

Fine, fine, they don't want Dennis Ross, no problem. Let's just send them John Bolton or Michael Ledeen instead.

Christopher said...

Balfegor wrote:

You laugh, but it's a fair point. I chuckled at how ignorant Obama was when he tried to argue that the war in Iraq was detracting from Afghanistan by siphoning much needed Arabic translators into the Iraqi theater, when they could have been put to such better use in Afghanistan. Where they mostly speak Pashto.

It's not a fair point. At all. While I am no fan of Obama and frequently rant about his general incompetence, his claim isn't that far of a stretch -- while the inhabitants of Afghanistan may speak other languages, Al-Qaeda, our primary target, is made up mainly of terrorists who are foreigners in Afghanistan, and most of those foreign fighters are from countries that speak Arabic.

But Iraq and Iran do have different majority languages, so democratic developments reflected in Iraqi media probably don't travel as smoothly over into Iran as they do into, say, Saudi Arabia or Syria. Where -- let's be fair -- they don't seem to have had much effect as of yet.

Saudi Arabia and Syria are two special cases, as both represent exceptionally brutal and repressive regimes -- even by the standards of the region. Even so, there has been movement toward democracy in both countries. The limited municipal elections of 2005 were a minor victory for democratic activists in Saudi Arabia in a nation where even such minor victories are hard to come by.

Syria? It's doubtful that the fascist regime in power there is going to relax its grip without violence, either external or external. However, its anti-democratic influence has been significantly curtailed, leading to freer and fairer elections in (and the removal of Syrian military and intelligence forces from) Lebanon.

Are these solid victories for democracy? In the case of Syria, the answer is an unequivocal yes. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the answer is no -- the elections scheduled for February of 2009 were called off shortly before they were to take place.

Which, incidentally, is related to the context in which Garage Mahal raised his 'fair point' -- the Bush administration was bellicose toward Syria. As of 2004, the possibility of overt military action against Syria was openly discussed both in public and diplomatic channels. This, no doubt, had an impact on Syria's decision to withdraw from Lebanon and reduce its influence in Lebanon's political process shortly thereafter.

The Bush-era State Department applied pressure even to allied nations like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to democratize. This was far more successful in Kuwait, obviously, but even that gentle and insistent pressure is gone now. Saudi Arabia called off its second round of elections after Obama came into office, and so far the Obama administration's tone toward the Middle East and Central Asia has been a conciliatory, even apologetic one. The Saudi monarchy has been receiving very different messages, and it's no surprise that they have since taken very different actions.

Cedarford said...

scinfinity said...
Is it wrong to notice that one of the reasons Bush went into Iraq was to try and get democracy to spread in the ME?

Is it also wrong to notice that, apparently, it is actually working?
.


Since the Islamic Republic was born in popular, democratic revolt...once the Mullahs seized power, they established democratic institutions while keeping final word and military use authority with the clerics.
What is going on in Iran has happened several times in the past 30 years, same sort of elections. Sometimes a moderate President like Khatami is elected.
Bush had nothing to do with Iran holding elections.
The main drivers this time in Iran are bad economic times, pervasive corruption, and insistance that Iran can be as Muslim as Turkey or Azerbaijan, but shift control more to secular elements.
They were the same drivers as 20 years ago.
===================
Jim said...
scifinity -

Bush's critics may not give him credit, but that doesn't mean that history won't.

The people here who are so critical of Bush are no different than all the Leftists who were so uber-critical of Reagan during the 80s.
.


No, not really. No comparison with Bush, who joins JImmy Carter as a failed President - and Reagan. Carter left office with 28% approval and Bush at 26%. Reagan at 53%, a low dip, and within a year was again regarded positively by over 60%.
If anything, the financial meltdown that finally broke open after desperate efforts by Bush, Corporate cronyists, and corrupted Congressional leaders of both Parties will tarnish Bush even further.

Not that I am complimenting Obama by slamming the "It's All about 9/11 - ignore everything else!!!!" President..It looks like Obama has managed to stick his own dick in the wringer in record time.

It wouldn't be the first time we had 2 mediocre Presidents that failed to fix any problems or lead well. We had Ford&Carter. Then the 19th Century was cursed with Fillmore/Pierce/Buchanan.

Frodo Potter said...

Balfegor said “Still, completely without regard to the truth or accuracy of the vote results, we have a good opportunity here to drive a wedge in the Iranian population, and we ought to take it.” Well said! We have a real opportuibity to do something to give these people a positive image of America. It doesn’t matter what Obama says. The American people can reach out a hand. I don’t know exactly how, but we should explore our options.

To those who are speculating about the word police. I don’t know whether it is a Farsi word, as well as French and English. I do know that, for what it’s worth, “thank you” in Farsi is pronounced “merci.” By the way, OT, isn’t interesting that Iranians, who not only do not speak English as their native tongue, but have a completely different alphabet, are writing signs in English, but we are told we need to speak Spanish?

Christopher, great comment at 5:55.

Fred4Pres said...

You think Letterman was bad, Matthew Yglesias is even worse...



Matthew Yglesias does some fun role playing!

traditionalguy said...

Why hasn't Jimmy Carter given the Mad Iranian his seal of approval like he handed out to Chavez and to Paletinian election "winners of the planned vote counting". Perhaps because Jimmy has now been replaced in that role by Barracky, who also knows winners of planned vote counting when he sees them.Like Jimmy, the only sovreign state Barracky feels boldly empowered to tell what to do is spelled I S R A E L.

InternetFred said...

Support Iran This Way

1. Print out a bunch of photos or symbols and have a bunch of people hold them as protest signs.

Use maybe 50 copies of this

photo
or a version of the graphic in this

photo
. The black-and-white logo will need to be redrawn, but will go through any copier cheaply.

2. Photo the bunch of people holding the signs in solidarity with Iran.

3. Send photo to Iran for them to print out. Make a flikr site for photos of international support.

Support from China, Africa, Los Angeles, would all have an impact...

Images should not use text. They must translate visually.