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Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Iran Takes a Step Forward, America Takes a Step Back



The Iranian election dominated this week's news, with large numbers of student and youth demonstrators refusing to accept the rigged election results.

While the outcome of the current Iranian crisis will have a limited impact outside Iran in the short term, it may have a far larger one in the long run. While the protests began as something more akin to the Venezuelan protests over Chavez's media hijacking last year, they have already passed the point of Tienanmen Square. And while we are not quite at the Tehran version of the Berlin Wall, whether or not they get there will depend on the actions of the Iranian regime.

The regime assumed that a quick and harsh initial crackdown would silence the most vocal protesters and drive the rest underground. It's a tactic that often works, unless enough pressure has been building up so that it instead generates an explosion. That is what happened in Iran, resulting in growing protests and much larger dissent at the top.

Had the protests been mainly student riots and marches, they could have been suppressed. However they reflected a split within the oligarchy of the Iranian Islamic Republic itself over a boiling stew of ethnic, political and economic issues.

Iran's regime today looks a lot like what Nazi Germany might have looked like had it survived into the 1980's, with Hitler dead and his old cronies scrambling for power. Inside and outside the corridors of power there are no shortage of old Khomeini associates. Those outside the corridors of power want change. Those inside the corridors want to maintain the status quo and line their own pockets.

The death of Khomeini terminated the relative totalitarian stability of the Iranian Islamic Republic, leaving power increasingly up for grabs. A similar situation in the Post-Stalin USSR resulted in the erosion of leadership and growing conflicts that eventually tore down the party and the regime from the inside.

Ahmadinejad was thought to be the regime's best bet for avoiding that kind of fate, offering a great deal of hostility toward the west, combined with pop culture appeal at home and some small liberalizations backed by a revolutionary guard background and militia ties. But now the Ahmadinejad train has gone very badly off the rails.

At some point during the election, the regime made the decision to rig the results. Had they done so early enough, the change would not have been so jarring. Instead it appears to have been a panicked reaction in response to the realization that Ahmadinejad was going to lose.

And whether that decision was made at the level of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or not, the ball finally rolled back to him.

The regime now has a limited number of choices to make.

1. It can pursue a comprehensive crackdown on all protesters, resulting in either the successful suppression of the protests, or leading to the fall of the regime entirely. The old lessons of the Shah are not entirely lost on the men who helped overthrow him.

A full scale crackdown at this juncture, even if it temporarily succeeds, would likely do so at a heavy death toll. The People's Republic of China survived a similar crackdown by pushing enough economic and social liberalization so that the next generation would up not caring. Iran does not quite have the same option, particularly when it comes to social liberalization.

2. Khamenei can conduct an investigation, bring forward a few scapegoats and announce Mousavi as the true winner by a small margin, or propose a compromise option of some sort along the Zimbabwe model.

This of course would involve a serious personal loss of prestige, as well as a clear demonstration of weakness by the regime. It would avoid a short term explosion, but the long term consequences would wind up demonstrating the power of the protesters to compel the government to surrender to their will. And would in turn be quite destructive as well.

3. Play a waiting game, allow the protesters to discharge their energy, keep Ahmadinejad where he is, make some daily life concessions that would make people's lives easier.

Overall it would appear that the regime went with this third option.

After the failure of the initial limited crackdown, Khamenei chose to embrace a slightly more conciliatory tone. The violence was toned down and a limited recount of some sort was promised.

The problem with this approach is that it only emboldened the protesters who have begun to learn their true power. The protests have only become more comprehensive. Secret police have been outed on blogs. And more high ranking regime critics have stepped forward.

In response Khamenei is now threatening bloodshed if the protests don't stop. This strongly suggests that despite being the inheritor of the revolution, he is actually making the same exact mistakes as the Shah's government did.

After using brute force, he showed weakness, only to now threaten brute force again. The cycle is not unusual, but it does make a failing system of authority that lacks confidence in exercising its authority.

The reason for that is that Khamenei knows quite well that the younger generation in Iran is deeply dissatisfied. The limited reforms trotted out under Ahmadinejad, such as letting women attend soccer games, have only whetted their appetite for more. Life in Iran is based around a series of hypocrisies, in which homes have satellite dishes and Western movies are downloaded through the internet, but outwardly Iran is supposed to be a deeply religious republic.

The bottom line is that the Iranian regime lacks confidence in its public support, and even in the support of its military. The failure to deploy the military strongly suggests that Khamenei suspects that the outcome of attempting to use troops on the marchers might resemble the fall of the Soviet Union more than Tienanmen Square. And that conclusion is only further backed by the use of Hizbollah and Hamas Arab terrorists imported to attack the crowds. Another sign of brutality and weakness that can only further destabilize the situation.

As it stands now Khamenei and the regime's insiders are not ready to retreat, but neither do they appear ready for a full scale assault. Their waiting game has only made the situation worse. Now they have to choose between options 1 and 2, a full scale assault or a limited surrender.

Meanwhile in domestic Western political coverage, many of the same leftists and liberals who chose to ignore or justify Chavez's similar crackdown on Venezuelan students, have broken with the regime and taken vehement stands, including Andrew Sullivan and the Huffington Post.

Many sites do continue to underplay the coverage, and the American news media appears to be providing much less coverage of the situation, than their British counterparts, probably to avoid embarrassing Obama over his weak response.

It is ironic that Obama was elected as a major speaker and a supposed voice of conscience, only to be unable to do more than mumble a few random words in Iran's direction. The successfully unanimous congressional vote, opposed only by perennial tyranny lover Ron Paul, criticizing Iran, was itself a rebuke to Obama.

If Iran was the crisis that Biden warned us about, Obama has already failed miserably. If the Iranian regime falls, Obama will be remembered mainly for standing on the sidelines and doing nothing. The man who traveled all across the world giving speeches, had nothing to say when the people of Iran risked their lives fighting for freedom.

Meanwhile in the roundup,

Israpundit's Jerry Gordon takes Obama to task for missing an opportunity on Iran and Bill Levinson covers Ron Paul's failed vote.

Paul Williams at Canada Free Press looks at Jimmy Carter, the real father of the Islamic revolution

Carter’s real legacy remains in Iran with the Islamic Revolution and the rise of the murderous mullahs.

Before Jimmy entered the White House, America’s closest friend and ally in the Muslim world was Iran’s Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ascended to the Peacock Throne as shah (the Persian word for king) in 1941.

The shah modernized Iran by launching the so-called “white revolution,” a massive attempt to Westernize the Persian country through the construction of roads, railways, airports, dams for power and irrigation, agribusiness, pipelines for the oil companies, steel and petrochemical plants, heavy metallurgy, and public health, education, and welfare programs. He bolstered the expansion of U.S. business and industry throughout Iran; shared he spoils of his country’s oil reserves with Britain and the United States; endorsed (at the request of President Eisenhower) the Baghdad Pact to ward off the spread of communism in the Middle East, and never voted against America in the United Nations.

By the 1960s, Iran’s back-alley bazaars became transformed into Fifth Avenue shops. Rock ‘n roll blared from the radio stations. Movie theaters showed the latest Hollywood flicks, and programs like Rawhide and I Love Lucy played on Iranian television. Restaurants served beer and hotdogs. Nightclubs and casinos catered to foreign tourists, foreign contractors, and foreign military advisers.

And let’s remember that the shah, unlike the fat Mid Eastern despots and dictators, never asked or received a dime in U.S. foreign aid.

But not all Iranians were pleased with the changes. The Shi’ite clerics viewed the democratic changes as diabolic. The straw that broke the camel’s back came with the shah’s democratic ruling that Iranian officials were free to take their oath of office on whatever holy scripture they preferred - - including the Christian Bible. The mullahs under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rose to condemn the shah in mosques and seminaries and to demand his removal from the throne.

Enter Jimmy Carter.

Instead of supporting America’s ally, Jimmy, true to his form as a turncoat, supported the Ayatollah as a “fellow man of religion.” Andrew Young, Carter’s ambassador to the UN, went so far as to call Khomeini, who sanctioned sex with cows and camels, a “misunderstood saint.”

When Khomeini launched his evil revolution, Carter refused to provide the shah with any kind of military assistance despite the pleading of the shah.

Instead, Jimmy demanded that he release from prison all the murderous mullahs and militant radicals who were bound and determined to overthrow the government and to impose an intransigent interpretation of shariah (Muslim law) on every Iranian.

The shah acquiesced to this demand and the rest in history.

The Ayatollah - - Carter’s misunderstood saint - - came to power and launched a bloodbath that resulted in the deaths of twenty-thousand pro-Western Iranians. Churches and synagogues were razed, cemeteries desecrated, and shrines vandalized and demolished. The judicially murdered included the 102 year-old Kurdish poet Allameh Vahidi and a 9 year-old girl convicted of “attacking revolutionary guards.” Women were reduced to servitude. They lost their rights to attend school, to initiate divorce, or to retain custody of their children. When they appeared in public, women were obliged to wear the hijab (the traditional Islamic head cover). All American music was outlawed. The movie theaters were shut down; the nightclubs closed. To top things off, the Muslim militants overran the U.S. embassy in Teheran and seized sixty Americans as hostages.

Good ole Jimmy responded by his infamous “malaise speech” of July 15, 1979 in which the former peanut former expressed his belief that America had lost its guts and remained in a state of near senility.


Read it all

Maggie's Notebook meanwhile has a look at the ACORN run around

Amendments presented by GOP included two blocking A.C.O.R.N. - or any group - from getting Federal funds while under Federal indictment. This was among those not allowed as was one related to investigating Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to Congress. If there were any doubt of the un-Democratic party's heavy-handed tactics - to rush through reckless spending at a breakneck unexamined pace - that was eliminated today


Daled Amos has his own take on Twitter and the Iranian revolution

At Right Wing News, another Obama nominee who doesn't believe paying taxes is patriotic

Gateway Pundit reveals that Obama is unsurprisingly waiting on the Iranian regime...

Lemon Lime Moon asks if America is in a stupor

Gates of Vienna looks at the divide between the Obama Administration's visions and the reality

The Keli Ata blog looks at the little outpost on the Israeli prairie

5 comments:

Surind Raj said...

Interesting... thanks.

If you are interested in Australia generally & also what some Iranians are saying there. Check this out and feel free to link it and repost it on your blogs & emails:
http://surind.blogspot.com/2009/06/islam-in-australia-western-capitalist.html

More people need to hear what this Iranian activist is saying.

No Bueno said...

Apparently, "Hope and Change" comes with a price. But who would of thought the price would be our own President, made impotent by what many believe, shenanigans committed, perhaps helping propel Obama into the White House.

Here we are, only a few months post Hope and Change and already change is out of reach for some. The US would have had the perfect opportunity to rally behind the million or so protesters who seem to want change. Yes, it's largely cosmetic, as the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is still the one calling the shots.

But at least it would be a start towards meaningful "change" in that region. It sure beats chants of "death to America" each and everyday. Some say that Mousavi is simply the lessor of the two evils, so in the end, it really doesn't matter. But with Mousavi, there's the outside chance he might be willing to put the nuke program on the table for negotiation.

Ahmadinejad has made it perfectly clear the nuke program, and Iran's determination to develop such a program is a done deal. No negotiatians! He has been nothing but clear on this issue. Can we at least take him at his word on this?


But all of this leads back to our original premise of our own purveyor of "Hope and Change," being rendered impotent by his dismissal of what many believe, was rampant election fraud committed on Obummer's behalf.

Most Muslims can read. And from what I have been told, some of them are pretty good with numbers as well.

Even they understand what the acronym ACORN stands for. Muslims understand it's supposed to be one per person, one vote! They understand that dead people generally do not cast ballots.

And even Muslims realize illegal aliens should never be allowed to vote. Apparently ACORN didn't get that message.

Ditto for non-human entities such as dogs, cartoon characters, and pet rabbits. They are never allowed to register! That is unless sufficient numbers of them come forward to make it worth Obama's while to consider them viable constituents in 2012.

With Joe Biden on your team, anything is possible.

But did any of these accusations occur in sufficent numbers to change the direction of this election? I don't know and probably never will because of the powers that be and their refusal to take these allegations seriously. Business as usual!

But I do know that even one fradulent vote has the potential to taint the entire electorial process ,as it neutralizes and or undermines the intent of a legitimate vote!

In the meantime, that leaves us with a volatile situation in Iran and our own presidnet who has ZERO credibilty regarding the subject of election fraud. Even Obummer knows what hypocrisy smells like!

What is he supposed to say? That elections are supposed to be a manifestation of the will of the people, a beacon of democracy -while Washington Democrats are still sweeping Acorn abuses under a rug?

Please! Besides,with Obummer, it's all about image and being liked! While millions of demonstrators have taken to the streets, there are many other who have not.

In other words, where is the rest of the Muslim world? Why haven't they united with the Iranian demonstrators, in their quest for fairness and change in Iran? Where is Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan?

Silence?

It probably safer to simply straddle the fence right now, so as not to offend the Muslim sensibilities. Besides, Obummer might actually be accused of "meddling" before he even meddles. Oh wait!

But sooner rather than later, someone is going to need to remind Obummer that when the going gets tough, voting "present" is no longer an option. Eventually, you have to take a side! Especially when your mantra has consisted of "Hope and Change."

beniyyar said...

First and most importantly is that no one outside of the ruling council in Iran has a clear idea just what the mullahs there have in mind both as to how they intend to quell the unrest and as to their goals in inciting it.
Secondly there is really very little the outside world can or will do to influence the Iranian rulers to modify their violent and oppressive response to the demonstrations taking place there.
Finally I expect the Obama administration to misdirect public attention away from it's rather formidable diplomatic failure during the Iranian crisis. Indeed, I await for Obama and Clinton to once again focus their attention, hostility, and muscle flexing on provoking, threatening, and deameaning Israel for the Jewish State's failure to support Obama's inept, badly thought out, and dangerous plans for peace in the Middle East, plans which I might add if implemented, would result the quick and certain demise of Israel.

Keli Ata said...

TY for linking to my post and Shavua tov, Sultan:)

You're right. At what could well be a critical junction in the Middle East, certainly in Iran, Barack Obama has not and will not stand up with a Ronald Reagan "Tear down this wall!" or JFK "I am a Berliner" in support of Western Germany.

On the contrary. Obama's mumblings were more like the nonsensical ramblings of Hank Kimball on "Green Acres."

In all honesty I don't see the great orator that millions around the world see and hear. I only see and hear Hank Kimball. And it's not like I'm some uneducated Yahoo.

Shtuey said...

Bill Levenson has written about an interesting fulcrum idea over at Israpundit. The mullahs brought in Sunni Hamas to put down Shiite protests. I wasn't seeing the whole picture...perhaps this is an indication as to how reluctant the army is to fire on its own people. Perhaps this, plus the infighting, made it necessary.

With that kind of fulcrum you could turn the army on Hamas with the protesters behind you, and then turn the guns on the mullahs.

Too bad we have Carter 2.0 at the helm.

I was thinking that a good way to lighten the mood over there would be to send the peanut farmer over there. That would be good for a laugh.

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