Articles

Monday, June 22, 2009

Should We Support or Oppose Iran's June Revolution

Various anti-Jihad bloggers and columnists are going head to head on the issue. As some have pointed out, the leading Iranian opposition figures such as Rafsanjani and Mousavi are not significantly better than Ahmadinejad himself, being involved in terrorism abroad and the development of nuclear technology.

Those are all valid arguments, but there is another argument. Before taking power, Khrushchev was a butcher and a mass murderer. He was a loyal Stalinist and even once he seized power as Premier, he engaged in a belligerent war of words, as well as a proxy war with the United States and Europe. He hammered his shoe on the podium and declared, "We Will Bury You." He continued Stalin's murder of Jews and conducted a new campaign against Christianity in the USSR.

Nevertheless despite all that, Khrushchev denounced Stalin and the worst atrocities of Communism, in doing so created a division that broke the mold of the infallible and all-powerful Soviet leader, and the USSR itself. This helped lead to Khrushchev's own removal from power, followed by a series of increasingly weaker leaders culminating in Gorbachev and the collapse of the USSR.

Thus it would have been entirely correct in the 1950's to point out that Khrushchev was a monster and a dedicated Communist who sought the destruction of the West and the perpetuation of totalitarian rule at home-- he was also a key element in the reform and eventual collapse of the USSR.

It would have also been fairly accurate to pass a similar judgment on Gorbachev toward the end of the 20th century. Despite his best efforts to present a positive reformer's face to the West, Gorbachev was a dedicated Communist and a totalitarian leader, the protege of a key Stalin ally who hoped to gather in all of Western Europe into an EU style arrangement under Russian leadership.

In turn Russia's August Revolution could have easily been dismissed as crowds of Russians who were seeking not the fall of the USSR, but the restoration to power of a Communist dictator. Except that what they actually achieved was the fall of the USSR at the hands of a man who himself had made a career as a high ranking Communist official.

While Iran is not the Soviet Union, and the June Revolt is not the August Revolution, there are some valid parallels.

In the wake of Ayatollah Khomeini's death, the Islamic Republic lost its own version of Stalin and Lenin rolled into one. The death of their chief ideologue exposed rifts and conflicts within the power structure of his disciples and associates, none of whom could replace him. Much as the aftermath of Stalin's death created a shaky power structure with the likes of Khrushchev, Beria, Molotov and Bulganin scrambling for power. Like the Russian people who felt that those who came after Stalin were small corrupt men who betrayed the legacy of the Communist revolution, a similar sentiment exists among Iranians who view Khomeini's Islamic revolution as a flawless standard which Iran's current rulers have betrayed with their corruption and vested interests.

Within this structure the Revolutionary Guard holds the role of the NKVD, a power pseudo-military organization with its own structure and loyalties. The clergy play the role of the Communist party, containing both progressive and reactionary elements. Like the NKVD, the Revolutionary Guard has successfully sowed terror abroad in the name of its ideology. Its growing power in the face of domestic instability may lead it to either take power, or as in the USSR in the aftermath of Beria's downfall, be dismantled into a safer more controllable creature of the state.

What all this means for us is that the June Revolution is a symptom of Iran's instability, the Iranian public's loss of faith in the authorities, and the regime's increasingly corrupt and weakened nature. While Mousavi may be no matter than Ahmadinejad from our perspective in the short term, in the long term, either his ascension or suppression is likely to lead Iran away from Islamic totalitarianism.

Reform has been in the wind in Iran for some time now. Most ordinary Iranians may not be ready to jettison the whole Islamic Republic, but large numbers of the young generation want a great deal more social and political freedoms, as well as an end to the corruption of the inheritors of the Islamic Revolution. That desire for change is genuine, and it is likely to ultimately lead to the same place that it did in the Soviet Union.

For those outside Iran, domestic instability is likely to reduce the regime's ability to sow mischief abroad. If the Revolutionary Guard and its associated regional Shiite militias, not to mention Sunni fellow travelers such as Hamas, have to be hard at work in Tehran, they will be less capable of planting IED's in Iraq, shelling Ashkelon or shipping new rockets to the Taliban.

And taking on an oppressive domestic role will lessen their long term organizational base of support and survival at home, once the reformers do take power.

Whether Ahmadinejad remains in power, or Mousavi replaces him, no matter what domestic changes happen with the Supreme Council, whoever comes out on top will have to appease the people by redirecting portions of the military budget to civilian in a tough economy, swapping out guns for butter, which will again reduce the amount of harm Iran is able to wreak abroad.

Finally the protests themselves and their suppression demonstrate to the world the reality of what an Islamic regime looks like. The protesters may be chanting Allahu Akbar, but the regime they are fighting is one that came to power and holds power through treating Islamic as a means of political supremacy. Those European and American Muslims who hanker for Sharia and Islamic states might well consider the reality before their eyes.

Whether or not we are seeing Iran's Berlin Wall or only its Tienanmen Square, the Iranian regime will never be the same as it was. The resulting changes will almost certainly weaken the regime, if not entirely bring it down. Which is why it is entirely sensible to support Iran's June Revolution, though without forgetting that Mousavi is no saint and that Iran's reformers, like Khrushchev and Gorbachev, are not entirely distinguishable from its monsters.

While it might be easy to write off the protests and the protesters because of that, this would be shortsighted. The protesters are genuinely idealistic and they are fighting against an actual injustice and an unjust system. The aftermath of their protests may leave us with no better a situation than Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, or China after Tienanmen Square, but nevertheless both present day Russia and the People's Republic of China are vastly preferable to what came before.

We personally cannot change what is going on in Iran now, but we can bear witness and speak out, for nothing to emboldens a tormentor as the silence of those watching his crimes.

12 comments:

Martin Rourke said...

Persians vs their Arab overlords.
Who cares what happens to any of them.
I say let's encourage fighting and fighting some more.years and years and years of it.
Keep all the Arabs fighting one another. It's a grand idea and far past time.

Keli Ata said...

Wonderfully written and argued from both sides. You already know my opinion on the matter:) I am supporting the young Iranians.

If they are victorious the fruits of the victory probably won't be for years but I am hopeful that this will victorious and change Iran.

Yochana said...

I'm with Martin. Let them kill each other off.

As far as I'm concerned, it's one less muzlim to cheer and celebrate the death of a Jew.

So, let them die.

Jew With A View said...

Very interesting.

Hopefully the world now realises how lethal a nuclear Iran could be. And of course, the more domestic problems Iran has to face, theoretically the less energy and funds it will have to spend on terrorism against Israel etc.

In a recent interview, Mousavi's wife stated that her husband would - if he won the election- open a dialogue with 'any nation except Israel'.

Mahmoud or Mousavi - they both hate Israel.

Keli Ata said...

Yes, true. But I really don't think this is about Ahmadinejad or Mousavi. The election was the straw that broke the camel's back. The real issue is human rights violations and a desire for freedom from Islamic oppression.

Sultan Knish said...

The longer this goes on, the more radicalized against the regime the protests are likely to become

ytba said...

The current Iranian regime is evil, and our cipher-in-chief is not only useless, but a hindrance (at best) to progress. That said, I have a few sobering thoughts on Iran’s “green” revolution…

I am cross posting this from comments I made on a few other blogs…

When they choose another color as their symbol, then, …..m a y b e, just maybe, I might think their leader would be better than OddMashugahJob. But, till then, please note that “The Color of Islam is Green”

The color green in Islamic tradition is ALWAYS linked to the Prophet Muhammad, and is therefore synonymous with Islam itself. It is used ubiquitously throughout the Islamic world, as well as in jihadi imagery, to indicate the Prophet specifically and Islam in general.

Also, PLEASE pay CAREFUL attention to what Mousavi [their "green" candidate] answered in this Al Jazeera interview when asked about “wiping Israel off the map.” He said “Right from the beginning I objected to that phrase” [i.e., he does NOT object to THE CONCEPT!], and continues… “the only way out is to refer to the ‘true inhabitants of Palestine’,” [by which he means the "Palestinian" Arabs, which means he subscribes to the lie that Jews have no place in our G-d given Land].

Mousavi is just Ahmadinejad lite (at best).

They are fighting for their right to choose who will rule them, and I support that right. BUT, I am not doing so under any illusions that it will necessarily improve Iran’s behavior, at least not in the short run. It might even be more dangerous to have a more deceitful, but no less hateful, Iran to deal with, as NormanF quite correctly pointed out in a response to my comment.

Sultan Knish said...

I quite agree. The protests have taken great care to position themselves on the Islamic side of things, with Mousavi talking about martyrdom, and screams of Allahu Akbar, and obviously the use of Green

political power within Iran as an Islamic Republic, means Islamic power

at this juncture at the least

but at the same time paradoxically the fight is over restraining Islamic power as embodied in the regime's domestic authority

ytba said...

"...paradoxically the fight is over restraining Islamic power as embodied in the regime's domestic authority"

Do you mean like a dog biting itself for biting itself?

Lemon said...

I don't support anything those people do in any way.
They are all nuts, all bad, all wrong.
I will not aid them even with good thoughts.
G-d put a tyrant over them, let them deal with it.
For what those persian/arabs have done to the Jewish people throughout history I would not care if the entirety of Iran sunk into the mud and died.

If they were a democracy I would still spit on it.
There is nothing they can do to be good in my eyes. Nothing.

Sultan Knish said...

To YTBA

"Do you mean like a dog biting itself for biting itself?"

There are plenty of political parallels, including the Soviet analogy again. Or the Reformation.

Power within the Muslim world means one of the three, tribal, national or religious. Religious is obviously the strongest, especially in Iran which includes far more nationalities than just the Persians.

For most of the key players, the fight is about using Islam for their own personal political power. The reformers want to change the system to benefit themselves, the conservatives want to retain power. Both rally their followers in the name of Islam, since Islam is the justification for holding power in the first place from the days of Khomeini.

ytba said...

To Sultan

Thanks.

And, Lemon has a good point, because when the dog is attacking itself, it can't be stalking me.

Post a Comment