Update on Iranian election, 6/16/09: I have not changed my mind. Some conservatives, including John McCain, are blaming the President for not intervening more clearly in the Iranians struggle for democracy.We can’t have it both ways, folks: You may not blame Obama for playing God and then decry that he is not acting like God in an issue dear to your hearts. It’s not the US President’s business to decide who won the election. It’s clear to White House does not have an inside source on this that is not also partisan, anyway.
It was before the election that, once more, President Obama wasted an opportunity to keep his mouth shut.
I don’t think hundreds of thousands of likable young people risking their lives at the hands of the crude Iranian Islamist regime means that they should have their way. I did not think their counterparts should have their way in this country when they demonstrated in equally large numbers against the liberation of Iraq.
Repressive, blood-thirsty, intolerant governments win elections all the time. If you wanted to be effective, you would have to come out and say: Iranian elections are a sham from day one. Th Iranian government is illegitimate. We will do it as much harm as we can.
I listen to Rush Limbaugh nearly every morning. His staff keeps him well informed; he has great powers of reasoning and a gift for clarity. That’s why liberals hate him.
Limbaugh was wrong on something recently, though. He criticized the Obama administration for releasing in Bermuda four Uighurs from Guantanamo. Those are men who have been categorically cleared by the Pentagon. There was no reason to hold then except the belief that China, the country of which they are citizens, would kill them if we sent them back. Having been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time should not merit a death sentence, I believe, as a conservative.
Limbaugh also derided some pictures that show the freed Uighurs pleasantly bathing in the warm Atlantic. He said sarcastically that all they were missing were pinas coladas. You are dead wrong, Rush. That would be just fine. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to kill terrorism in the egg than tropical bathing and long drinks with little colorful umbrellas. I wish we could try it. Liberals would call it torture, no doubt. I think they would be right, in a way. Just ignore them.
Some people are puzzled about events in Iran. It’s a tyranny yet, it holds hotly disputed elections.
Here is how it works. There is a council of religious elders, ayatollahs. They are a little like Methodist bishops, except that they will execute you at a nod. They are co-opted into the council. However, it’s not easy to become an ayatollah. You have to have a following. You pretty much have to be popular during a lifetime. This fact matters. (See my recent posting on fascism.)
This council of elders has veto power over everything and it directs foreign policy. The council also decides who is allowed to run for office. It’s a narrow fraction of Iranian public opinion. Anyone who says Iran should be a secular republic, like Turkey for example, is not allowed to run.
The council also decides who really won the elections.
Within these limits, elections and platforms are real and the press is very active.
Ahmedinejad was elected, I believe. Yes, there was cheating. That would include an interruption of electronic communications between opponents by the relevant Ministry, and the mere fact that the Ministry of the Interior was in charge of counting votes. None of this would be acceptable in a normal democracy. (My info is from the WSJ, a respectable source.)
Yes, the same ministry jumped the gun and announced a lopsided victory (65%), too early on to be honest.
None of this means that Ahmedinejad did not obtain the largest number of votes. I suspect, it’s like the last presidential election in this country: ACORN cheated massively for Obama and he would have won, with or without ACORN.
Western public opinion was not prepared. We thought there would be good news, for two reasons. First since Pres. Obama had announced his divine intervention in the Iranian election, the silly press wanted to believe him, the way it believes anything he says. So, journalists predicted the opposition would win. We are silly too to listen, still.
Second, journalists were lazy, as usual. I keep telling you this. They went for the low-hanging fruits. They interviewed English-speaking young Iranians in the ritzy districts of Tehran. That’s exactly the kind of people you would expect to be fed up with the Islamist regime.
Hardly any member of the former Third Estate took the trouble to go with a good interpreter and interview in the rural areas, or even in the slums of Tehran. That’s where Ahmedinejad’s supporters live. They care nothing about freedom. He makes them gifts of potatoes. They have no idea what life in prosperous democratic countries is like. Again, he makes them gifts of potatoes. They think that’s what improving one’s life is: more potatoes.
There is no conspiracy in the mis-reporting either folks. There is a press that’s culturally in tune with the Obama crowd, his brethren. Most come from the same mold as he. And there is laziness that’s hard to believe, sometimes.
Iran is a typical case of fascism, of successful fascism.
By the way, none of the other candidates including the leading one, Mussavi, is a democrat; none demands real democracy; none demands an end to the elders’ supervision; none envisages much more freedom for women than head-scarves that allow a little bit of hair to show. Mussavi was a cold-blooded executioner in the early stage of the Islamic Republic. Ooops, nobody is perfect!
By the way also, none of the competing parties had said they would stop nuclear arming if they won. That’s not allowed. It does not depend on who is President. What might have changed is the willingness to talk to the West.
One big way I might turn out wrong: The council of elders wields so much power that it might decide that youths demonstrating in the streets is a bad idea. It might even decide to annul the election and send old Ahmed back to his dog house and tell his electors to stuff it. Democracy!
If you want to worry about something, worry about what Israel will do. The Israeli Prime Minister is facing a country demographically ten times large than his own whose re-elected president has said repeatedly that Israel has not right to exist. That country is making fast progress toward a nuclear bomb. It already has the means to deliver it.
His traditional ally, the US, has let him down publicly, in no uncertain terms.
Ask yourself : What would you do if you were responsible for the safety of seven million Israelis (including more than two million Israeli Arabs, incidentally)?
The recent speech by Netanyahu offering two states, except… was pure cover-my-ass and perhaps, cover Obama’s ass. There was no reason to believe any Palestinian leader would court instant assassination by whispering anything signifying any sliver of assent. The Israeli Prime Minister was just saying: “Don’t blame me; I tried.” That’s classical preparation for aggressive action.
Here is a scenario: Israel bombs the Iranian nuclear sites without helps. Its planes overfly Iraq. The Israeli Prime Minister dares the US military there to shoot them down. He also warns the Iranians that if there is any retaliation, his airforce will firebomb downtown Tehran. Everyone knows he has nuclear bombs in reserve.
Peaceful Iranians, people I would gladly have a beer with (of the alcohol-free variety possibly because I am a sensitive SOB), some of the same people now demonstrating, are liable to die. Netanyahu probably thinks it’s better than the other way around.
Weakness does not make peace. It makes war. If the US had bombed two Japanese ports in 1940, there would never have been a Pearl Harbor. That would have saved hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives.