Monday, June 15, 2009

The Farce in Iran

Thoughts on the "fair and honest" election in Iran, from Amir Taheri of The Wall Street Journal and the editors of National Review.

As Mr. Taheri notes, the scale of electoral deceit in Iran was both breath-taking and preordained:

No one knows exactly how much electoral fraud took place. The entire process was tightly controlled by the Ministry of Interior under Sadeq Mahsouli, a general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and a senior aide to Mr. Ahmadinejad. There was no independent election commission, no secret balloting, no observers to supervise the counting of the votes, and no mechanism for verification. It is impossible to know how many people voted and for whom.

Mr. Ahmadinejad was credited with more votes than anyone in Iran's history. If the results are to be believed, he won in all 30 provinces, and among all social and age categories. His three rivals, all dignitaries of the regime, were humiliated by losing even in their own hometowns. This was an unprecedented result even for the Islamic Republic, where elections have always been carefully scripted charades.


Then something unprecedented happened. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all issues of national life, published a long statement hailing Mr. Ahmadinejad's "historic victory" as "a great celebration." This was the first time since 1989, when he became supreme leader, that Mr. Khamenei commented on the results of a presidential election without waiting for the publication of official results. Some analysts in Tehran tell me that the military-security elite, now controlling the machinery of the Iranian state, persuaded Mr. Khamenei to make the unprecedented move.

Buoyed by his "victory," Ahmadinejad appears to be "itching for a fight," in Mr. Taheri's words. And why not? The Iranian president believes the U.S. is "all but defeated," and views his other great enemy--Israel--as increasingly isolated. Assuming the anti-election fevor in Tehran (and other Iranian cities) doesn't swell into a threat against the regime, Ahmadinejad will likely pursue his radical policies, at home and abroad, with even greater vigor.

As National Review sees it, the electoral farce affirms that Iran is nothing more than a police state, cloaked in clerical robes:

Many Iranians are displaying the courage of despair, in the knowledge that they have been deceived and cheated. They were promised an election for president. The incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a fanatic who has alienated huge sections of the population, and Iranians’ hope was that this election would provide some sort of test of public opinion. Not the independent official that the title seems to describe, the president is responsible for putting into practice the policies of the “supreme leader,” and as such he is hardly more than a public dogsbody. Under the disguise of clerical robes and turbans, the Islamic Republic is a classic example of thugocracy.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has been remarkably silent on the voting outcome in Iran. Apparently, the White House still hopes for talks with the Iranian regime, the same government that rigged the presidential balloting and denied its people the right to choose their leaders.

While some observers believe the post-electoral unrest can gain traction, past events suggest otherwise. Ten years ago next month, Iranian students rose up against the government in a sudden wave of protests that caught the mullahs off guard. Despite a brutal crackdown by security forces, the unrest continued for several weeks. But, without support from the international community, the regime eventually gained the upper hand. Police and soldiers, backed by religious zealots, raided student dormitories and carried off thousands of demonstrators. Some remain in prison to this day; hundreds were executed.

A decade later, Mr. Obama and other western leaders could strike a (minor) blow for democracy by declaring the Iranian election to be a fraud, voicing support for protesters, and providing clandestine support for pro-democratic elements. Unfortunately, the silence from Washington and various European capitals is deafening. No one apparently wants to offend Tehran; the Europeans want to do business with the regime, and Washington still thinks it can talk Tehran out of its nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, the real hope for Iran is being beaten, battered and bloodied in the streets.


Ken Prescott said...

Makes the question of whether Iran has any nukes all the more pertinent . . .

"This business will get out of control. It will get out of control, and we'll be lucky to live through it." -- Fred Thompson as Admiral Joshua Painter, "The Hunt for Red October."

gr8scott said...


J.R. said...

Think - for a moment - about what would happen if we supported the revolution. Don't you believe that it's at least a little bit likely that our support would be seized by the Ahmedinejad gov't as "proof" that we are trying another 1979? ...and that our support would drive moderates to Ahmedinejad, possibly depriving the revolution of critical support from the people? ...and that it would empower those in Iran who are probably already lobbying for a violent crackdown?

I think the White House hopes for talks with whichever Iranian government emerges the victor, but would prefer a Mousavi government that might recognize Israel and/or abandon its nuclear weapons program. But I don't know what the White House thinks, because they've been circumspect on the matter. Do you have the inside line, or are you speculating?

If they want it badly enough, nothing short of a civil war will stop the Iranian people from taking back control of their government. We can't really do anything, though: our past bad behavior puts us in the uncomfortable position of not being able to help without hindering.

Papa Ray said...

Unless Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his co-conspirators all have a gun to their heads or otherwise convinced to let who ever wins the presidency run the show, all this violence, despair and turmoil is pointless and nothing more than business as usual in Iran.

I seem to recall in other countries in the past simular situations, but most made no difference or brought any different outcome than would have happened if good people had not died and bad people prevailed.

Not to say that people who are under the thumb of a dictator or a religious thugocracy should not yearn for freedom and even try to attain it.

But not in this manner, either president is not going to solve the problems nor feed the peoples of Iran. If true "hope and change" is wanted, weapons, training and careful planning is needed and that effort must have leaders, which Iran can't seem to produce.

I'm hoping that there are some leaders in the Iranian Army, who may be able to put themselves and others into a position to make this revolution or one years from now a real revolution for freedom that actually has a chance of success.

I read some fiction one time where American Special OPS assisted an uprising that included the Iranian Army and it's commander. But the twist to the story was that the Iranian Army Commander really just wanted power for himself and wanted to expand Iran's territory.

Greed and lust for Power. Most can not resist those two human sins.

Witness our present President and the state of our Republic.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Papa Ray said...

Here is a good start to another fictional novel about the quest for freedom in Iran:

Revolutionary Guards Arrested in Iran

That is if you actually believe this report.

Papa Ray
West Texas

davod said...

The EU referendum blog writes that the West (Must be a better term to use) has been deluding itself into believing change was possible.

First, the Mullahs selected four candidates out of the 475 who wanted to run (how moderate could they be).

Second. The large turnout!

"In fact, it was all a sham. According to eyewitness reports from 25,000 polling stations across Iran, the real voter turnout was 7.5 million, and more than 85 percent of the 51.2 million eligible voters boycotted what was being described locally as "the mullahs' sham presidential election."

Paul Gordon said...

On another blog, a commenter, on a post about "Freedom in Iran", observed...

I have to say right now that we should be very cautious about depicting the Iranians as liberal-thinking Westerners who want total freedom. This is a mistake that we make all the time.

Perhaps, but…

How many times have we partnered with, or dealt “pragmatically” with, some oppressive regime, using the justification that their people weren’t “READY” for freedom (as if they were sub-human or something). I really think this is an EXCUSE for preserving status quo.

Could it be possible, that after recent events, there could be some Iranians wondering, “If the Iraqis and Afghans can pull off genuine elections, WHY THE HELL CAN’T WE?!!!”

(Just saw, over at Gateway Pundit, an Iranian protester holding a sign that translated into, “DON’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED TO SADDAM!!!.)