Saturday, June 20, 2009

That Stuff Happening in Iran Just Now

I've been rather excited by what's happening in Iran in the wake of its rigged election. This is really the continuation of the process that was well underway before Bush's attack on Iraq interrupted it. Iranians had grown weary of rule by the mullahs and their sycophants for years, and various shades of "reformers" had swept the last several elections before the Iraq war. "Reformers" belongs in quotes because the Supreme Leader still vets the candidates who are allowed to run. He'd been bowing to public pressure for a few years and allowing less reactionary candidates. Even the hardliners were adopting reformist slogans.

Unfortunately, then came Bush and all of that went away. Ahmadinejad was the candidate of the most reactionary elements inside Iran, an excrescence of the mullahs given power solely by Bush's decision to go play Army in the desert next door. The same dissatisfaction still existed though, and it has been brewing there ever since.

The mullahs still vet the candidates. Mousavi is portrayed as a "reformer" in a lot of the press coverage here and during the campaign, he adopted a lot of the reformist talk, as had other conservatives, pre-war, but before that, he has always been, himself, a conservative, and except for his transformation during the campaign (which could just be political rhetoric, rather than a genuine change of heart), he's representative of the narrow perspective that has traditionally been allowed by the mullahs to take part in the "democratic" process. But for the rhetoric, it's like having a choice between Augusto Pinochet and Rick Warren.

What makes the Iranian situation really exciting is the stupid, clumsy response of the mullahs and their Revolutionary Guards. Fixing an election for their boy in such a transparently obvious way then falling back on the old methods of repression to keep people in line in an age of technology that just goes around their efforts, an age that has totally passed them by and made their reaction look, to all of Iran, to be as outrageous as it is. By their behavior, they've radically escalated the situation and set into motion something that, before it ends, could be their undoing.

Predictably, John McCain, Sean Hannity and a number of other righties in the U.S. are bitching about Barack Obama's very measured comments on these developments. Their criticism is, as is so often the case, deplorable. To state the obvious, if the President of the Great Satan was to come out with a strong condemnation of the election or the mullahs or an endorsement of Mousavi's efforts, it would doom those efforts utterly and completely. The reactionaries in Iran have, from the beginning, put the blame for the "unrest" on agitation from the U.S. Any word Obama may breath in support of the reformers or against the current regime would be used a confirmation of that allegation inside Iran and the reformers would be completely discredited. A Sean Hannity probably doesn't know that--he probably thinks Iran is run by some strongman and couldn't find it on a map--but a John McCain does know these things, and had he been elected president, he'd be behaving exactly as is Obama. His public performance amounts to a lie. He's playing to the base of his party, the people who think the cretinous Sarah Palin falls just after sliced bread in the realm of inventions.

If the hardliners in Iran decide they want to fight about it, we could be looking at another revolution. The youth of Iran, who have emerged in huge numbers and coalesced around Mousavi, seem ready to shrug off the old guard. Mousavi himself probably couldn't contain them now. It's an exciting time.


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