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June 16, 2009

Iran revolution
Posted by Avram Grumer at 01:45 AM * 245 comments

Everyone’s aware of the news from Iran, right? The election, the probably-fake official results, the rioting in the streets?

I don’t have anything original to say, but here’s a link roundup:

Andrew Sullivan has been on top of things. Obsessively, even. Pretty much every post for the past few days.

The Twitter #iranElection filter has been a firehose of comments and links since the results were announced. While CNN couldn’t be bothered to follow the story, Twitter users took up the slack, to the extent that Twitter rescheduled some planned maintenance downtime.

Nate Silver and the other number-crunchers at FiveThirtyEight.com have been talking about the statistics behind the election results. Here, Silver debunks a chart that’s been cited by various people as strong evidence of election fraud. And Renard Sexton talks about some “fishy numbers” that show up in more detailed statistics.

Cartoons! Matt Bors. Iranian cartoonist Nikahang Kosar.

(And yes, green is the official Mousavi solidarity color. Or maybe the official fair-elections solidarity color; I’m not sure.)

Comments on Iran revolution:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:11 AM:

That Bors cartoon. . .

#2 ::: Spiny Norman ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:24 AM:

And, of course, always eager to be on the wrong side of history, the neocon hardliners have been voicing their support for... wait for it... for Ahmadinejad! Way to go, assholes.

#3 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:40 AM:

I just can't figure out why the mullahs would cheat after approving Mousavi's candidacy. There are good arguments that Ahmadinejad won at Conversation with Grandma after Iran’s elections and Wishful thinking from Tehran and Iran erupts as voters back 'the Democrator'. I'm currently leaning toward this explanation: Did Ahmadinejad Win Fair & Square - and Cheat, Too?

And I agree with this at Iran vote and protests: "Why should he (Mousavi) have suddenly become so dangerous that the Iranian state, or powerful sectors within it, would risk a stupid fix? The answer could only be that by tapping a popular demands for reforms, the candidacy might have unleashed a movement that seriously frightened some factions in the ruling class."

#4 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:10 AM:

Will Shetterley, I'm pretty sure you'd agree with the protestors if that would be the more contrarian position.

#5 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:26 AM:

Will @3:
I just can't figure out why the mullahs would cheat after approving Mousavi's candidacy.

Because his platform shifted notably during the election. He came across as fairly middle-of-the-road politician when they approved him. It was only during the campaign that he started to make quite so many reformist moves.

Also, he was nominated partly to block Mohammed Khatami (WP), who is much more of a reformist, from running. Khatami stopped making noises about becoming a candidate when Mousavi announced that he was going to run. It was thought, correctly, that Mousavi would sap Khatami's more moderate supporters. No one really anticipated that he would get the more radical (for Iran) ones as well, or play to them so much.

#6 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:29 AM:

Raphael, I don't disagree with the protesters; I just don't think the numbers are with them.

I'm with Tom Paine and Gandhi: take to the streets! Nine years ago, I was cursing Gore for telling everyone to stay home while the Republicans were sending their protesters into the street, and then I was cursing him for telling the Black Caucus to shut up and accept the undemocratic results of our quasi-democracy. I hope New Yorkers take to the streets to protest a billionaire buying their senate. Democracy should matter enough to drive you into the streets when it's been subverted. The election in Iran is a sham--it was a sham as soon as the mullahs decided who could run. I hope the result of what's happening now will be something better than Mousavi would've ever dared offer.

#7 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:38 AM:

Abi, what I've read suggests he never actually said anything particularly reformist, but like Obama, he became the candidate of hope. I've seen speculation that it was the military, not the mullahs, who began to worry about what hope would lead to, so they put the pressure on.

Well, we'll have lots of theories to study for a good while now.

#8 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 05:28 AM:

I heard one report, which I've since been unable to confirm so take it with a grain of salt, that the incumbent not only lost in truth, but came in third behind Mousavi and another candidate.

I support the reformers. I hope that they'll prevail. I fear that the mullahs will start a crackdown to stop them. The only reason that they haven't done so already, according to the NY Times, is that it would call into question the 1979 revolution.

#9 ::: Shane Stringer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:00 AM:

I've got your back, Will. See, from my point of view, the Iran situation looks like this: one mullah-approved bureaucrat has been deprived of his rightful victory by another mullah-approved bureaucrat. Let us strike a mighty blow for democracy by supporting the better of two mullah-approved bureaucrats.

Wait, what?

I don't understand why anyone outside of Iran cares about this. My guess is: they think the theocratic Islamic Republic itself is being protested and is in danger of being overthrown, and they are responding accordingly, yet inappropriately.

Maybe I'm just being contrarian, too! I'd better find some green to show that I support the correct mullah-approved bureaucrat!

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:18 AM:

Right.

Everyone back right off the hostility and personal attacks, or I will be removing vowels.

Raphael @4:
I know that Will has been irritating in the past, but don't start the conversation irritated. It won't go anywhere that any of us want it to go. Argue with the content, not the man.

Shane Stringer @9:
Welcome to Making Light. I see that this is your first comment here. Allow me to introduce myself; I am one of the moderators in this community, and I'm speaking ex cathedra here.

Can I suggest that you read around a little bit more before you decide that you understand what constitutes an acceptable tone on this site? The intention here is that we discuss information, not engage in slanging matches and "get each other's backs" (nor get each other's backs up).

Drop the sneering and the snide tone, please.

#11 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:52 AM:

Since I've been reading-up on the Spanish Second Republic, I can't help but see similarities.

Thankfully, there are also differences. But anti-Catholicism and reformist coalition?

#12 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:36 AM:

Steve Muhlberger posted links to some very insightful comments about the situation in Iran:

http://www.nipissingu.ca/department/history/MUHLBERGER/2009/06/another-aspect-of-turmoil-in-iran.htm

http://www.nipissingu.ca/department/history/MUHLBERGER/2009/06/election-in-iran-two-sets-of-comments.htm

Reading this makes it difficult to accept that Amhadinedjad could really have won by a landslide, as stated by official results. Had he announced victory by a small margin, yes, but with that huge turnout of voters, and only 8 years after the reelection of reformist leader Khatami? Not very likely.

#13 ::: Brendan Podger ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:47 AM:

Over at Stratfor George Freeman argues that while there may have been fraud, the reason Ahmadinejad won is because he talks about the issues that resonate with most Iranians: Piety, Corruption and National Security.

#14 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 08:27 AM:

Debating whether the results were or weren't fixed is not particularly useful; Iran's electoral results haven't been very "precise" since well before 1979.

What is noticeable is that there appears to be an increasingly large sector of the establishment, at least in/around Teheran, who thinks they have more to gain from a moderate show of force rather than from going through the usual channels. This says a lot about the state of the current regime.

(Also, coming as it does after just a few months of diplomatic glasnost with the US, it also shows what the neocon hardline stance achieved for 8 years: the exact opposite of the stated objectives.)

I doubt that these big shots (Mousavi, Rafsanjani, Khatami etc) will really go through with their threats. Once the figures are "corrected" (i.e. Ahmadinejad still wins, but with low margins and politically weakened), they'll back off.

The problem is, once you a start a riot, you never know how it will end. Ask the Soviets, who destabilized Iran in the 70s, if they had planned to end up with an Islamic state....

#15 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 08:54 AM:

I wonder how the Tienanmen Square revolt might have turned out if they'd had advanced social networking instead of Usenet and FidoNet.

What am I thinking, of course they still would have lost.

#16 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 09:06 AM:

Michael Collins at the Agonist. Juan Cole. Notice, BTW, the planned attacks on media. The election seems to have been made into an excuse for a crackdown.

#17 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 09:19 AM:

Cory Doctorow with technical advice for protesters and supporters.

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 09:24 AM:

abi @ 10... I'm speaking ex cathedra here

And singing it too?

Ex Cathedra is a British choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works.
#19 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 10:09 AM:

Just one minor note: that "debunking" at fivethirtyeight.com relies on some statistical assumptions about the order in which provincial votes were reported that a) may not be true and b) strongly predispose to the result arrived at.

#20 ::: Matthew T ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 10:29 AM:

RE: Giacomo @ #14
"Ask the Soviets, who destabilized Iran in the 70s, if they had planned to end up with an Islamic state...."

Actually we had more to do with that, see Operation Ajax.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax

#21 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Matthew T@20"RE: Giacomo @ #14 "Ask the Soviets, who destabilized Iran in the 70s, if they had planned to end up with an Islamic state...."
Actually we had more to do with that, see Operation Ajax. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax"

Yeah it was one of ours. :( For a value of "we" that includes more than one English-speaking nation with nuclear weapons. All part of our long, slow betrayal of the Iranian modernisers and middle-classes that started when Churchill was lookng for safe "stable" countries to get oil for the Royal Navy. In a way Iran was our Mexico. Partly blame the Anglo-Persian Oil company, now better known as British Petroleum.

As for the election, I am really unsure. Yeah, I might like the Iranians to vote for the other guy, but then I'm a Christian, left-wing, technophile. Obviously I want the reformer. I'd like someone a lot more reformery than anyone who was in fact standing. But whether or not a majority or Iranians would agree with me, I do not know. We seem to all be assuming that one side won because we like it more (or dislike it less)

Also a President of Iran isn't really in the same sort of position as the President of the USA or France. He's more like a Prime Minister. The equivalent of your President is in fact the Supreme Leader (has a veto on legislation, is the commander-in-cheif, appoints the supreme court judges). And he is indirectly elected by the Council of Experts and they weren't up for election this time round.

FWIW the BBC said earlier today that the Council of Guardians had agreed to a recount in some districts. (That's not the same as the Council of Experts, nor the Executive Council, nor the National Security Council, nor the Expediency Council - the Iranian constitution is complicated - though it is also hard to know from outside to what extend all these councils and other bodies represent different interests and to what ectent they all share the same establishment point of view.)

#22 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Reporting from the world of mediocrity . . . .

I'm sorry to say that CNN has now discovered the ELECTION CRISIS IN IRAN!!!! I just spent an hour with a customer, and while I kept trying to explain that the project she wants to do will be very expensive, and she kept telling me she wanted it just so, but cheap, the Eye Candy Reporter on the screen in the other end of the room emphasized the same stuff, over and over and over.

I thank the god of links for its bounty.

#23 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Just a few miscellaneous comments surrounding, and sort of impinging upon, the main post... largely due to my military-imposed nondisclosure agreement.

* It's not surprising at all that a candidate in an "Islamic Republic" would adopt green — that's like US candidates wearing flag pins. It's hard to translate (both linguistically and culturally), but green is "the color of the Prophet" in a way analogous to the flag pin is the symbol of the patriotic American; the more-than-faint whiff of hypocrisy implied is purely intentional.

* That article on the so-called "Ajax" situation isn't exactly credible. That's not a defense of what the US and other Western nations did in Iran from the late 1940s through the 1970s... fortunately, none of that is on my hands (I may whinge about being old, but I'm not quite old enough to have done anything concerning that region in the 1970s). All of that said, one must laugh at any attempt to promote Western concepts of "political stability" in Southwest Asia; understanding why would require actually knowing something about the region's history and culture, and preferably languages. Never mind; that's not going to happen in Europe, let alone the US, in the forseeable future.

* Based on what I've seen, there's very little doubt that there were substantial voting irregularities. Whether they were enough to "change" the outcome of the election is uncertain. Whether they would have been enough to "change" the ultimate policy stances of a theocracy, on the other hand, is not.

#24 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 11:23 AM:

BTW, the Matt Bors cartoon is gone from that twitter link, but you can find it here (his blog).

#25 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 11:57 AM:

Giacomo @14: Debating whether the results were or weren't fixed is not particularly useful; Iran's electoral results haven't been very "precise" since well before 1979.

What I've found interesting about it is precisely that, once you consider the way the irregularities happened. The election was clearly being setup, with lots of measures beforehand to prevent Mousavi from having a chance and, presumably, some voting-day measures. However, even with all that in place, they had to just make up new results because that wasn't enough to prevent Mousavi from winning (or at least reaching a run-off).

When a rigged election needs to be falsified because the rigging didn't work, that's something very different from just a rigged election.

Also, whether or not Iran has had consistently rigged elections, from the outcry of the people, this is apparently the one that they feel was stolen, which is in many ways more important.

#26 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 12:01 PM:

Earl @ 15:

I think the fizzling of the Tienneman Square movement had more to do with the ludicrous economic growth China had in the two decades after it. I'm sure China is watching what's going on in Iran very carefully.

#27 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 01:05 PM:

I'm puzzled by some of the comments at the Silver article at 538.com

Silver is *not* saying that the election was not rigged.

He *is* saying that the chart that *some* writers have been relying upon as "evidence" may not say what they think it says.

He is making a considered evaluation of a bit of statistical manipulation, and is giving his considered opinion that there is rational reason *not* to view *that single chart* as the proverbial smoking gun.

Yet some commenters are all complaining about his not considering factors that are not included in the chart's baseline.

He (Silver) is *not* saying that the curiously low results for certain ethnic groups for candidates that are closly allied with them isn't questionable.

He is *not* addressing the awesome effeciency and organization apparently exhibited by the Iranian government in counting and certifying a whole nation's worth of paper ballots in less than 3 days.

He is addressing *one* chart that may not say what some people may think it says. Yet some commentators seem to feel as if he is in collusion with the Iranian government.

Now, in response to someone else pointing out that the wingnuts would prefer Ahmadinejad as the iranian president -- I have to shake my head in irony, but, alas, I am not surprised by anythng coming from those quarters that stil maintain that a lifelong Christion is secretly "still" a Muslim, or that the laws of the United States in regard to granting citizenship are somehow to be suspended because it means that a man they don't think will press all the buttons *they* want is holding office.

#28 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 01:20 PM:

A similarity I see in the Situation In Iran is to the French Revolution.

Could we be seeing the start of the dissolution of Comité de salut public? Or a more severe Thermidorian reaction than that of Khatami's election in 1997?

ALternatly, just how long *could* the Comité de salut public have held onto power if they had had modern communication facilities?

#29 ::: Chaos ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Some neocon idiots may be standing for Ahmadinejad, but Pat Buchanan is on the good guys side, and supports Obama's stance against the hawks who say he should 'do something.'

I am quite surprised to find myself in agreement with him. Cool!

#30 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 01:59 PM:

It's a couple of days old, but I think Juan Cole's refutation of the "Ahmadinejad won with the votes of the Silent Majority" idea is still worth reading and keeping in mind.

Of course, Mousavi's spokesman is not neutral in the whole thing, but his claim that the clergy leaders were willing to accept a Mousavi victory but the security forces weren't would, if true, explain why Mousavi was allowed to run but not allowed to win.

One permamently-running liveblog is at the Huffington Post. (I have my issues with the HuffPo over unrelated matters, but that's no reason not to read them on this.)

Chaos, compare what commenter Bill said about Buchanan in another thread: "Ah, yes, Pat Buchanan. Every once in a while he'll come on TV and start making some stirring heartfelt speech about how America should stop trying to be the world police, and should bring our troops home before any more of them get killed enforcing a President's ego and stop the collateral-damage killing of civilians in other countries, and bring up George Washington's exhortations against getting in trouble through alliances with foreign governments, and I have to wonder if I've somehow been wrong about the world or Pat because I'm agreeing with him. [...] Then of course he finishes it off by saying that when the troops get home, they should all be deployed in a line along the Rio Grande to keep those dark-skinned people who refuse to talk normally from coming over here and diluting our culture, and I realize that no, he's still the same bully he always was, but even a broken clock can sometimes be right once or twice a day." So, probably not as cool as you think.

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:05 PM:

And a backwards clock is right twice a day!

#32 ::: Chaos ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Ah, that's fair. But it's still a pleasant surprise to see him on-side with this. I like being surprised by people, keeps me thinking about them rather than tripping up and just thinking of him as a cipher evil-dude.

Doesn't mean I like him, or think we'll be allies in future - it's still cool to read sense from him!

And in this case, at least, it's not just what he councils, it's also the reasons he gives that I agree with. There is nothing Obama can do to help, because being an ally of America is poison to an Iranian political movement... unless, maybe Obama should speak out in favour of Ahmadinejad? :P

#33 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Craig R's comment #27 makes points that are well taken. Nate Silver writes quite precisely about the things that particular data may be taken to mean and not mean. Skimming his posts and responding from the gut usually leaves the responder looking foolish.

Which is not to say that Silver is always right--but it pays to make sure you know what he's actually saying before rushing to judgment.

#34 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:24 PM:

re 29: Pat B. is one of the few surviving paleocons who can get any press. I'm not surprised by his support of anon-interventionist policy.

#35 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:33 PM:

Buchanan's position here doesn't actually surprise me. He's basically an "America First"-er, some 70 years after that political movement's heyday. That movement had both good and bad aspects. It tended to oppose any sort of foreign intervention wherever possible. But it tended also be strongly nativist and suspicious of the Wrong Sorts of People.

America First's most prominent spokesman was Charles Lindbergh. Looking through his biography can give you a pretty good idea of the political tenor of the movement. There have been a few writers who have speculated on how the world might have turned out if Lindbergh had been elected President, including Eric Norden in _The Ultimate Solution_, Philip Roth in _The Plot Against America_, and Jo Walton in _Farthing_ and its sequels.

#36 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:44 PM:

Sorry for quoting so much of a comment about Buchanan- I just thought it was a fitting response to Chaos' comment about him. Perhaps discussions about that guy could go on in the Open Thread from now on, if there are people who really want to talk about him?

#37 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Jaws @23, what, exactly is non-credible about the "article on the so-called 'Ajax' situation"? I didn't bother to follow the Wikipedia link, but I've read that page in the past, and a couple of books on the subject. Are you denying that Operation Ajax ever took place, or just grousing about the low quality of a Wikipedia page?

#38 ::: Kathryn Allen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:00 PM:

I think the US government likes other countries to be democracies because these days it's easier to create the appearance of a popular uprising in the wake of an election than to persuade the military into a coup.

#39 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:13 PM:

I think that's a pretty patronizing thing to say about people in other countries than the US. Not everything in the world revolves around conflicts between the US government and those hostile to it.

#40 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:38 PM:

Recommended: Guarding the Revolution by Afshin Rattansi.

Raphael, it may be patronizing, but that's how the National Endowment for Democracy has been rolling since Reagan created it.

#41 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:55 PM:

And a clock that runs fast is right more than twice a day (on the average).

#42 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 03:58 PM:

(It has to run very fast. If it runs only a little fast, it takes a long time for it to be right even once.)

#43 ::: Matthew T ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:00 PM:

Avram,

Thank you for articulating the question better then I could. My initial response was defensive.

I lurk here a lot, this was the first time I got up the courage to post and I was cringing thinking I may have sparked some flaming.

#44 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:11 PM:

No one has mentioned the polls, which gave the incumbent (I'm not going to try to spell his name) a greater than 2:1 margin before the election; is the assumption that those were rigged, too? I would think it easier to rig a poll than an election, so that isn't unreasonable, but I haven't heard it said.

Mousavi, as I understand it, wanted to end various social assistance programs; if that's true, it would seem reasonable that the poor voted for the incumbent in spite of ethnic differences.

What am I missing here? I mean, they're both right bastards, and neither seems to be any fan of democracy as I understand the term. Mousavi wants more of a free market system (on account of that's been working so well for us, I suppose); is that why Fox news has been crying "Fraud!" since twenty minutes after the results were in?


#45 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Will Shetterly @40, that piece is mostly a collection of standard "Our opponents and those who say things we don't like to hear are all in league with the bad guys" stuff (I'll probably always be amazed by how people who can easily see through that when it's used by people they don't like still fall for it when it's used by people they like), buzzwords, and the points about Ahmadinejad having the support of the masses that have already been refuted by the Cole piece I've linked to above. (Of course Cole may be wrong, but if you think that, you should make counterarguments against his points rather than simply repeating the points that he refuted.)

And that first sentence of the last paragraph: "One may feel for the genuine, passionate yearning of Iran’s bourgeoisie for liberal freedoms but as has happened so many times before, Iranian history can’t move in a straight line."? That's so close to "While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think,..." that it's almost comical.

As for the NED and related things, of course there's been a lot of crimes and inteferences commited by the US government, but thinking that everything people who are hostile to the US government don't like is done by the US government is as USA-centric as standard US jingoism, and thinking that everyone you don't like either belongs to the Bad People or is an agent of the Bad People is simply a silly mental habit.

#46 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:23 PM:

skzb, feel free to copy and paste "Ahmadinejad" from this comment in the future. (There are other transliterations, though.) I think the most recent polls were from before the final debates, but I might be wrong there.

#47 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:23 PM:

37 (referring back to 23): Avram, I'm grousing about the low quality of that article; about the better-informed-than-most-segment's unthinking reliance on unclassified information on "Ajax" that ultimately traces back to three sources, one of which is just as reliable (on the opposite wing) as was HUAC under McCarthy; and about the article's shameless attempts to view everything through a Western lens. Even two otherwise-well-respected books from respected commentators make the same sourcing errors. Unfortunately, due to that NDA I'm pretty well restricted to being grouchy about it instead of directly answering your question and stating exactly what about the article makes me grouchy.

In short, as the Operative (Serenity) said, "things are even less simple than they appear" whenever dealing with the Persian Empire... or any of its successors over the last couple of thousand years.

#48 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:25 PM:

skzb, I've seen the issue of the polls on Talking Points Memo and on Juan Cole's blog. 42% of people contacted about the poll refused to participate; of those that participated, 26% were undecided and only 34% supported Ahmadinejad. Additionally, during most of one of the phone poll periods, Mousavi wasn't a candidate and Khatami was.

As for the questions about who's fighting over what and why, and what impact that will have on Iran's future - that all seems rather opaque from the outside.

#49 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Jaws @ 47: I don't mean to single you out, but I do want to make a correction of a mistake that is made far too often.

"as was HUAC under McCarthy"

HUAC stood for House Un-American Activities Committee. McCarthy was a US Senator. I apologize for the digression but the mistake nags at me. I now return you to the issue at hand, which is Iran.

#50 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:54 PM:

What I've said here so far might give the impression that I'm all gung-ho about the protests, so, for the record, I don't think that anyone in the West can really tell how much of an effect on the status quo in Iran this is likely to have, so I'd say we probably can't call it a "revolution" before we know how it ends.

#51 ::: Tazistan Jen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:55 PM:

We can't know how the votes were actually cast. As far as I can tell they haven't even been properly counted, since the results were announced three days before they should have been. But these people are sure *acting* like they stole an election. Therefore, that is my guess until I see evidence that they didn't.

#52 ::: Andrew Kanaber ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Jaws@47: ... reliance on unclassified information on "Ajax" that ultimately traces back to three sources, one of which is just as reliable (on the opposite wing) as was HUAC under McCarthy
Huh? Is that a jab at James Risen?
I think most of the people who talk about Ajax are referring back to the declassified CIA Clandestine Service history by Donald Wilber. Presumably you're not calling him anti-American, and a CIA history an anti-CIA fabrication?

So-called Andrew

#53 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 05:09 PM:

While I what I know about Iran is minimal, I'm fascinated by the social media shape of this - the online mob mentality. The waves of information that spread, morph, and twist - along with the video, images, stories. Everything gets passed around so quickly that new information comes in before there is a chance to digest the old.

#54 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Wymann@49: Nitpicking for no good reason at all: HUAC stood for "House Committee on Un-American Activities."

#55 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Rafael @ 45, I can wholeheartedly say "ditto" to this: "I'll probably always be amazed by how people who can easily see through that when it's used by people they don't like still fall for it when it's used by people they like." It's part of being human.

I generally like Juan Cole. I don't follow his conviction that the polls and the elections were both wrong. If you've got anything conclusive that says the "2 to 1 Ahmadinejad" polls are wrong, I'd love to see it.

I thought this young woman's account was especially poignant. And it points to the class bias that liberal commenters may fail to realize they have:

http://www.rferl.org/content/My_Eye_Shadow_Is_Also_Green/1751380.html

#56 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:34 PM:

"the class bias that liberal commenters may fail to realize they have"

Thank you for pointing this out. Until you did I had no idea whatsoever that in a largely rural Middle Eastern country with a GDP/capita of $11,000, the subset of the population posting on Twitter might not be a perfectly representative sample of the population as a whole. What a fool I've been in basing my entire assessment of the likelihood of fraud in the election on the number of people posting on each side on #iranelection. A common liberal error, I am told, is that of assuming that absolutely everyone is just like you. Definitely a liberal thing. Yup.

#57 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:38 PM:

will shetterly@55

Saying "two to one" is seriously deceptive without mentioning that the poll only gave Ahmadinejad 34%, with 42% of respondents either saying they were undecided or refusing to state their preference. That sort of result suggests more Ahmadinejad being in serious trouble than it does a landslide victory.

Note that (as the Juan Cole article that FungiFromYuggoth links to at #48 mentions) the analysis of the poll BY THE POLLSTERS THEMSELVES at the time of the poll said that the results suggested that no candidate was likely to reach a majority in the first round.

#58 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:56 PM:

Has anyone started to use Twitter to transmit small encrypted data packets yet? I'd like to think it's something w1n5t0n might do....

#59 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 06:56 PM:

I am another of the people watching this unfold with minimal knowledge of Iranian politics, but an interest in the media and technology and related implications. Last night, BBC was reporting on their website that the satellites carrying BBC in Farsi were being jammed from Iran, against international treaty. For similar reasons, the Iranian authorities have apparently been blocking network access to various news sites in hopes of preventing popular anger/uprising all at once[0]. An interesting question is how things might be different, if the Iranian government found that they could not prevent their own citizens accessing foreign websites through local blocking. Assuming the satellite attacks really happened[1], the obvious guess is that the Iranian government might try to shut down hostile news sites via DDOS attack of some kind. That's been seen before (for example, Georgian government sites were attacked during the Russia/Georgia war, some attacks on sites offensive to the Chinese government are apparently attacked from time to time, and the Al Jazeera English website was jammed by "patriotic hackers" (IMO, almost certainly drawing US government paychecks) during the opening shots of the Iraq war.

It's interesting to ask how that sort of cross-border attack is handled in international law, particularly when the goal isn't war against a foreign government, but instead silencing embarrassing news coverage or discussions you'd rather not have your own citizens reading. It's far more interesting to ask how we can build a net that's too hard for anyone to jam in this way, short of physical attacks on networking equipment. (And I definitely include my own government in that "anyone.")

[0] One fascinating thing about this is how similar it is to measures like closing schools (which the Iranian government reportedly has also done) used in response to the spread of pandemic flu--the goal isn't necessarily to reduce the number of infections, but rather to keep them all from getting sick and showing up at the ER on the same day. Similarly, this kind of suppression of news probably can't keep the citizens ignorant forever, but may spread out their discovery of the truth and their outrage, rather than having them all show up in the middle of Tehran for a rally/riot on the same day. Internal security police and public health personnel both have a sort of bank-like property--if all the depositors show up demanding money on the same day/all the citizens start demanding a new government on the same day/all the people get sick the same day, the service collapses.

[1] I know nothing of satellite broadcasting or attacks on same, so I don't know how plausible this claim is, or how such an attack might be done.

#60 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Michael I, Juan Cole said his quibbles to The Iranian People Speak were "commonsense, non-technical" and based on something Ballen said in May. But Ballen and Doherty's article was written after the election results were announced; clearly, they think the result is extremely plausible.

And their credentials in these things are much better than Juan Cole's.

#61 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Earl: A quick Google search showed a Python script for doing this, but from a quick glance, it wasn't especially well thought out. (It looked to me like he was reusing a counter in counter mode encryption, which is disastrous--if that's right (we're talking two minutes of looking at code here, so take it with a grain of salt), he's effectively XORing all his messages with a fixed random pad. This is very bad. Also, it looked like he was hex-encoding his ciphertext, which is very space-wasteful, but maybe I missed something.)

Does anyone know of a good scheme that does this? A well-designed scheme will find a way not to expand the message while also not doing goofy crap like reusing counters in counter mode.

#62 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:19 PM:

melissa #53:

It seems to me that one result of the new media is that public reaction is inside the decision loop of spin/media/PR folks and their bosses, and also inside the decision loop of a lot of traditional media. (And there's a reason why those two go together--spin control people are closely adapted to traditional media, for the same reason malaria parasites are closely adapted to humans.)

#63 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:20 PM:

Sorry, linkfail:

Decision loop

#64 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:35 PM:

We discussed some cryptosystems at Making Light here.

There's no reason ciphertexts couldn't be broken into twitter-length pieces.

#65 ::: Kathryn Allen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:36 PM:

#39 I am in a country other than the US.

I hear that the US State Department has requested Twitter not to perform scheduled maintainance because it's vital that news gets out from Iran -- so... the world doesn't revolve around the US and those countries it's hostile towards.

#66 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 07:58 PM:

When our elections were stolen, we sat there and mooed.

Good for Iran.

#67 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 08:10 PM:

Kathryn Allen @ #65, Reuters says that State did ask.

Twitter says we'd have done it anyway.

#68 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 10:34 PM:

albatross #59 Satellite jamming is possible, and the Chinese do it all the time to jam broadcasts by the Falun Gong.

Home for a quick bite and a nap before going back. From open source media, the pattern I am seeing uncomfortable looks like China before Tiamenin Square. Kick the foreign media out, then massacure the protestors.

On the other hand, two senior clerks have issued fatwas against the vote, high-ranking army officers have said that they will not fire on their own people (that doesn't account for the IRGC or the Basij) and Rafsanjani has called a meeting of the Council of Experts, which are the only ones who have the power to remove Khamenei.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2009, 11:39 PM:

Colbert just said that Mousavi only chants "terminal illness to America" and only wants to wipe Israel off Google Earth.

#70 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 12:12 AM:

I think at this point the situation has gone way beyond voting fraud and who did/didn't win. I'm surprised that the Iranian government is acting so... dumb. Powerful, violent, bullying, successful at destroying and killing, but dumb.

This entire situation keeps reminding me of Little Brother....

#71 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 12:16 AM:

albatross #63:

The OODA Loop (for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act)

reminds me of Polya's "How To Solve It" steps:
Understand the Problem,
Devise a Plan,
Carry Out The Plan,
Look Back

except it's one step out of synch as you come into the cycle.

#72 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 01:13 AM:

A.J. @ 26: "I think the fizzling of the Tienneman Square movement had more to do with the ludicrous economic growth China had in the two decades after it. I'm sure China is watching what's going on in Iran very carefully."

That bodes poorly for Iran, then: there's unlikely to be any ludicrously high growth in the future to dispel lingering anger over this incident.

On the other hand, one could make a persuasive argument that Tiananmen is what made the government prioritize economic reform, in order to avoid it happening again. And China's well aware of the dangerous potential of social media: blogging sites are kept under a close watch, and Twitter was blocked in China for the week surrounding the recent Tiananmen anniversary. Not to mention the recent release of the Green Dam Youth Escort software.

C. Wingate @ 34: "I'm not surprised by his support of anon-interventionist policy."

Anon-interventionist policy: interfere all you want--just don't tell anybody.

Jaws @ 47: "In short, as the Operative (Serenity) said, "things are even less simple than they appear" whenever dealing with the Persian Empire... or any of its successors over the last couple of thousand years."

I know just what you mean! Why, the other day I was playing Catan with some Swedes and when I cut one of them off with a road, he burned down my house and sold my children into slavery! People's behavior is totally determined by what their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

#74 ::: Jaws (CEP) ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 02:17 AM:

49 Argh! I knew I was too hasty! "During the McCarthy era," not "under McCarthy."

52 Definite tentative hypothetical maybe. Further I cannot say, although I can definitely sneer knowingly.

72 Determined? No. Influenced? Perhaps. Perceptions warped? Definitely... somewhat analogous to, but with a much larger population than, Northern Ireland.

#75 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 03:24 AM:

Jaws, are you the same person as CE Petit?

If so, what's up with the two handles? (That's frowned on around here.)

If not, what's up with linking your handle to a website where everything's under Petit's copyright?

#76 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 03:27 AM:

Jaws @ 74: Nope, sorry. You're going to have to try a lot harder if you want to convince me that Things Are Not What They Seem Here in The Mysterious Orient! The whole "nod-nod-wink-wink-secretmilitaryintelligence!" thing really isn't doing it for me. It's all a wee bit mall-ninja.

#77 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 04:50 AM:

heresiarch @76

It does occur to me that it would be rather easy to set up a new name, point at somebody else's website, and prompt the same sort of thinking about the real identity as you're doing.

But a "view all by" check will blow the gaff. Look at the early post about socks.

#78 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 06:20 AM:

And, mall ninjas aside (or Walts, as we call them - from Walter Mitty), it doesn't really matter what the true story of Op Ajax was; what matters, in the context of determining its effect on Iranian views of the US and Britain, is what people think happened, especially what Iranian people think happened.
Jaws: be advised that ML, like some other fora, has shares an unnerving property with reality as portrayed in Woody Allen films and songs by Flanders & Swann; if you start shooting your mouth off about $TOPIC, before very long Marshall McLuhan, or a gnu, will turn up and tell you that you're completely wrong. In the past, this has been Terry Karney, if $TOPIC="interrogation", but it happens with other areas too.

#79 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 07:41 AM:

will shetterly@60

Not "something Ballen said". The analysis of the poll from Ballen's organization WHEN THE POLL WAS RELEASED. And for Ballen and Doherty to fail to mention that analysis AND to fail to mention the actual results of the poll was thoroughly deceptive.

(Nate Silver's analysis at fivethirtyeight.com is here http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/did-polling-predict-ahmadinejad-victory.html)

"Unfortunately, while the poll itself may be valid, Ballen and Doherty's characterization of it is misleading. Rather than giving one more confidence in the official results, the poll raises more questions than it resolves."

Basically, he argues that the results do NOT suggest a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad, UNLESS there was widespread voter intimidation.

"If these Iranians were too intimidated to reveal their preferences to a pollster, they may also have been too intimidated to vote as they really pleased on Friday."


#80 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 07:49 AM:

Dave Bell @ 77: "It does occur to me that it would be rather easy to set up a new name, point at somebody else's website, and prompt the same sort of thinking about the real identity as you're doing."

I'm not really sure what you mean--I don't know or particularly care who the person behind Jaws is or how many times they have posted to ML, or what other pseudonyms they might have used. My points are:

1. Jaws' comments regarding the Persian Empire stink of ethnic essentialism.

2. On the internet no one cares that you are a dog, or conversely, that you are the world's foremost expert on the topic. Unless you can argue cogently and provide facts, then you might as well be a dog. Thus, talking up all the secret military knowledge you have, but can't reveal, but people really ought to pay attention to what you're saying anyway is worse than useless: it makes you look like a mall ninja.

#81 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 10:23 AM:

I don't think the Iranian rulers are that confident of their support among the populace. In addition to all their efforts at information control, they've been photoshopping additional crowd into photographs of their rallies.

#82 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 10:34 AM:

Heresiarch @ 72:

I think we're basically on the same page here. I agree that modern social networking tools can be extremely useful for organizing social movements, and -- like I said in #26 or so -- I'm sure China's watching Iran carefully. I just don't think a good tool is the same thing as a motivations, so I tend to look for economic explanations. Obviously, economics isn't the be-all-and-end-all of human motivations, but it seems like a reasonable first guess.

#83 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 10:41 AM:

A.J. @ 82: Agreed. I didn't mean to come across as disagreeing @ 72--I was just playing with the implications of your idea.

#84 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 10:55 AM:

re Iran/access to info:

As noted, the perception of the thing is, in many ways, the thing itself: most esp. when history is the subject (who among us really knows what the Egypt was like under the 18th Dynasty. Closer to home, look at the differences in understanding about the cause of the US Civil War).

As someone who has spent much of the past 16 years mucking about in intel... the Open Source material is what one has to work with. If the sources are weak (or even bad) then the perceptions will be weak, or even bad.

And those perceptions are what drive things. I just spent (at the risk of derailment) a buch of pixels on Kent State. What happened, and what is percieved to have happened, are very much at odds. The views (and I've seen a bunch) are formed by the narrative we keep in our heads.

Add the vagaries of trying explain, in a nutshell, the differences of culture (and I'd put much of the problems in the area down to the machinations of St. Jean Philby, and his being pissed off with Britain, thus giving a huge part of the store away to Standard Oil, and so mucking up the, already dodgy, colonialisms going on Post WW1, but again, I digress) and there is going to be a mess.

From a procedural POV, the use of, "I know things I can't share" is usually full of fail. I've used it, tangientally on occaision (as with the shelling/shooting of the hotel in Baghdad with the journalists in it), but it's fraught with a reek of paternalism and suffers from being a plea to authority.

Such pleas only really work when the speaker either has an earned store with the audience or (as happened with Robert Glaub, in a different thread which touched on such things) has someone else, possessed of such a store, who is able; and willing, to vouch for them.

Absent those, making such a claim is an invitation to lumps; usually deserved, even if the speaker is correct on the merits.

(all of the above is comletely independent of my agreeing with heresiarch that the, "mysterious orientals, who have been inscrutable for millenia" is both wrong, and offensive, and undermines the rest of the case; purely on a presentational basis. Either the speaker believes that, which calls the analysis into question; or expects the audience to believe it, which calls the estimation of our intellects into question, or it's a cheap device to close off debate by making us bow to the speaker's, unverified, superior understanding.

Each (or a combination) of those is enough to lead to large discountings of whatever valid points may be present)

#85 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 11:55 AM:

All I said was "don't jump to conclusions based on a Wikipedia article, because it's not entirely accurate and doesn't account for classified material that I can't directly discuss." I would have thought that a caution from someone with direct knowledge (even though I cannot disclose that direct knowledge, and stated why) that a Wikipedia article bearing on the history of government selection in Iran would be taken as a caution (and nothing more)... not as The Attack of the Fifty-Foot Mall Ninja.

#86 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 12:07 PM:

85: but that's it, though, isn't it? We've no idea whether you have direct knowledge or not. You're just a name, and, without meaning to give offence, there are orders of magnitude more mall ninjas on the Net than there are people with access to still-classified information about the details of CIA covert operations in the 1950s.

Ultimately, we're open source here. If you can point to internal inconsistencies, or to other credible sources that contradict the article, then go for it. But nullius in verba - "I just know this is false" won't really cut it, frustrating as this may be.

#87 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 12:28 PM:

There's a huge difference between "trust me, I know this stuff, and you must therefore believe x" — which is what is (properly) being attacked — and what I said, which was "trust me, I know this stuff (but I'm prohibited from giving out details), and you should therefore be cautious in blindly accepting y that does not account for those details." I didn't even say "the article is false"; I said I was grouchy about its inadequacies.

The remarks on the Persian Empire were intended to (gently) remind people that we're dealing with an area that has thousands of years of civilized history that is not congruent with the "Western Civilization" meme that dominate American (and European) education, and that trying to force a contemporary Iran into a Western reference frame is going to change the picture. I suppose I should have used the < SARCASM > tag... or made a more-sarcastic remark like "in Southwest Asia, nuance is everything." Open source is a wonderful thing... but not adequate for every purpose.

#88 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 12:49 PM:

I am pretty sure that no regular (or regular lurker) on Making Light is unaware that Wikipedia is not the ultimate source for pure unbiased comprehensive truth. On pretty much anything.

Which means that saying "This Wikipedia article is incomplete" is about as useful as saying "The sky is frequently blue during the daytime (barring heavy cloud cover)" if there's no additional information to be offered.

#89 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 01:00 PM:

You know, even if Ahmadinejad is proven to have won, I think demanding another election at this point is a fair request ... I'm willing to bet that after he tampered with the vote results, he wouldn't win twice.

I wonder how many people who voted for Ahmadinejad did so while holding their noses and thinking he was the lesser of several evils? I'm sure there were lots of people who were very torn. Ahmadinejad may have made their decision much easier if they get a do-over of the vote ...

Re: the government blocking Farsi BBC transmissions. Given the number of Persians who speak at least one foreign language, I'm willing to bet they just changed the channel and watched it in French, English or Arabic, then someone translated for those who didn't understand.

(This is a very well educated population ...)

#90 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Michael I, are you suggesting those pollsters are incompetent or corrupt? A few more links you might like:

From Slate: Guilt by Calculation It takes more than an Excel sheet to prove the Iranian election was fixed.

From Time: Don't Assume Ahmadinejad Really Lost.

#91 ::: joann sees a sort of spam thing ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 02:28 PM:

#91 . I gotta admire the name of the linked site.

#92 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 02:39 PM:

joann @91:
I killed it dead. That guy turns up on liberal blogs and gets scatological. It's boring.

#93 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Either I see spam, or Dada-ist haiku.

On the other hand, "Dingy fibrous malcontents entubate the lachrymose," could be interpreted to be vaguely relevant to the thread.


If you are crazy.

#94 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 03:29 PM:

will shetterly @90, Michael I, are you suggesting those pollsters are incompetent or corrupt?

No, Michael I is suggesting that those pollsters gave Ahmadinejad 34 percent support, and that you and the people you quote and link to use this poll to explain that a result that gave him more than 60 percent of the vote is plausible. Michael I is saying that the people you're quoting are doing what is known in debating contexts as "cherry-picking".

To repeat what, as far as I can see, is Michael I's main point:

Saying "two to one" is seriously deceptive without mentioning that the poll only gave Ahmadinejad 34%, with 42% of respondents either saying they were undecided or refusing to state their preference.

To repeat it a second time:
Saying "two to one" is seriously deceptive without mentioning that the poll only gave Ahmadinejad 34%, with 42% of respondents either saying they were undecided or refusing to state their preference.

To repeat it a third time:
Saying "two to one" is seriously deceptive without mentioning that the poll only gave Ahmadinejad 34%, with 42% of respondents either saying they were undecided or refusing to state their preference.

The first of the pieces you link to refutes one individual chart that has already been refuted before anyway; it doesn't say anything about most of the main points made by those who think the election results are fishy. The second piece simply repeats standard talking points that were all already covered in earlier "Ahmadinejad won" pieces, in a rather annoyingly predictable way, without addressing any of the well-known refutations of these talking points. (Could the "Ahmadinejad won" people who write in English perhaps write an article that doesn't bring up "Reading Lolita in Teheran" once for a change?)

BTW, you never addressed any of the points Cole has made (no, "Cole's points are based on things said by people who agree with me now" doesn't count, and neither does "Cole's credentials aren't as good as those of the people who agree with me"), or even linked to people who have.

#95 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 03:52 PM:

There's a lot of stuff emerging, not just Juan Cole's blog posts, that calls into question the idea that the only people in Iran who are against the regime are Gucci-clad middle-class liberals from the expensive neighborhoods of North Tehran.

I mean, Tehran's garbagemen are out demonstrating against Ahmadinejad at this point.

And as several people have pointed out, whatever happens from here on out, by now it's obviously about a lot more than the details of a disputed election.

#96 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 04:00 PM:

For the record, Iran was just thrown out of the world cup qualification when the game between Saudi Arabia and North Korea ended in a draw (yeah, the point tables sometimes have weird effects).

#97 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is attending this BRIC summit, despite the uprising at home.

Love, C.

#98 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Raphael, maybe we'll learn the truth someday.

Patrick, total agreement that it's about more than a disputed election now. I'm hoping the tiger ride goes well.

#99 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 04:36 PM:

PNH @ 95: ". . . whatever happens from here on out, by now it's obviously about a lot more than the details of a disputed election."

Yes, there do seem to be a great many reasons (some of which are, not surprisingly, overlapping and/or mutually contradictory) for very large portions of the Iranian public to be seriously displeased with the current regime. One of the biggest and most fundamental reasons, however, seems to be that the Iranian government's mismanagement of the national economy makes the last couple of decades of General Motors' administration seem, by comparison, a breathtaking display of foresight and competence.

#100 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 04:59 PM:

I'm hoping the Iranian government will decide to hold a runoff election. There would have been a runoff anyway if there hadn't been a majority winner (or the claim of one). It might work as a face saving compromise.

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Jaws: All I said was "don't jump to conclusions based on a Wikipedia article, because it's not entirely accurate and doesn't account for classified material that I can't directly discuss." I would have thought that a caution from someone with direct knowledge (even though I cannot disclose that direct knowledge, and stated why) that a Wikipedia article bearing on the history of government selection in Iran would be taken as a caution (and nothing more)... not as The Attack of the Fifty-Foot Mall Ninja.

That’s not quite what you said. All of that said, one must laugh at any attempt to promote Western concepts of "political stability" in Southwest Asia; understanding why would require actually knowing something about the region's history and culture, and preferably languages. Never mind; that's not going to happen in Europe, let alone the US, in the forseeable future.

That’s a bit more sweeping than, “one can’t trust wikipedia, blindly”. There'ss a condemnation of lots of things packed into that sentence. It’s not all that hard to read as being told those who are engaging in the discussion are fools to do so, because they must not know the history, at all, or they would agree with you.

The bit about, “trust me, I know more than you do, but I can’t prove it,” is still just as problematic as I said it was.

#102 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 05:07 PM:

Apropos Jaws @87: yes, and it bears repeating that Iran is nothing like Iraq, either. Lots of westerners seem to think that because the names are spelled similarly (in someone else's alphabet!) and the countries are next door, it follows that they're equivalent.

Which is a bit like saying that because the (former) Republic of Yugoslavia and, say, France, are in Europe, they must be politically and culturally similar. (In this metaphor, Iraq is Yugoslavia -- a spatchcock mess of governing principalities carved out of whole cloth and only held together by a thuggish dictator -- and Iran is France -- centrally controlled grand imperial power with a long tradition of cohesion and strong sense of national identity.)

Except, a metaphor and two bucks will get you a coffee but no danish. Stretch at your own peril.

#103 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2009, 05:15 PM:

Charlie @ #102, I now have a new word in my vocabulary, thank you.

spatch·cock (spchkk)
n.
A dressed and split chicken for roasting or broiling on a spit.
tr.v. spatch·cocked, spatch·cock·ing, spatch·cocks
1. To prepare (a dressed chicken) for grilling by splitting open.
2. To introduce or interpose, especially in a labored or unsuitable manner.

Presumably you are using the 2nd definition of the verb to describe Iraq.

#104 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Jaws @ 87: "There's a huge difference between "trust me, I know this stuff, and you must therefore believe x" — which is what is (properly) being attacked — and what I said, which was "trust me, I know this stuff (but I'm prohibited from giving out details), and you should therefore be cautious in blindly accepting y that does not account for those details.""

Yes, there is--the first is an actual claim, made forthrightly and without innuendo, and what you did was whispers and winks without even the pretension of substance. The former is guilty of appealing to authority and then refusing to explain the basis of that authority, but your own argument is guilty of all that and also lacks the courage of its convictions. It leaves a strange taste in one's mouth and a baseless sense of doubt without presenting a solid target to refute.

Look, nevermind, I'll make it easy for you: Guess what! I have access to secret information too, but mine totally confirms every word of the Wikipedia article. Can't tell you where I got it though--secret, natch.

What, you don't believe me? Weird!

"The remarks on the Persian Empire were intended to (gently) remind people that we're dealing with an area that has thousands of years of civilized history that is not congruent with the "Western Civilization" meme that dominate American (and European) education, and that trying to force a contemporary Iran into a Western reference frame is going to change the picture."

I'm a bit baffled why you think viewing the current protests in Iran within the reference frame of past Iranian democratic movements (and their stifling) is Eurocentric, unless you think concepts like "democracy" and "political stability" are inherently Western. But then, I'm also a bit confused as to why you think an empire three thousand years dead and gone is more relevant to understanding Iran than the events of the last century. I guess I'm just confused all around.

#105 ::: Matthew T ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2009, 09:54 AM:

My apologies for using Wikipedia as a source without caveat. I wanted to refute the notion that the Soviets were responsible for the destabilization of Iran in the 70’s and the subsequent revolution. I believe the Us and British involvement in orchestrating the 1953 coup had a great deal more to do with that. Certainly the perception that the Shaw was a corrupt, decadent western puppet didn’t help things. Nor did his use of the CIA trained SAVAK to brutally repress, torture and disappear dissidents. These actions helped inflame anti-western sentiment and we are still dealing with the repercussions today.


"The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America."
Madeleine Albright


“Most of the CIA's acknowledged efforts of this sort have shown that Washington has been more interested in strongman rule in the Middle East and elsewhere than in encouraging democracy. The result is a credibility problem that accompanied American troops into Iraq and continues to plague them as the United States prepares to hand over sovereignty to local authorities. All the Shah's Men helps clarify why, when many Iraqis heard President George Bush concede that "[s]ixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe," they may have reacted with more than a little skepticism.”

From All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror
Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
By Stephen Kinzer. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2003. 258 pages.
Reviewed by David S. Robarge

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol48no2/article10.html

#106 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2009, 02:04 PM:

albatross @ 63 - this is exactly why I love haunting the boards here... so much info! Thanks!

#108 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2009, 08:51 PM:

Will wrote, re Ballen etc: "And their credentials in these things are much better than Juan Cole's."

To be frank, I'm not sure I trust Ballen, given that he works for a group with John "Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran" McCain on the board, and gosh, maybe his organization's about achieving a "Terror Free Tomorrow" by ginning up a war against Iran.

#109 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 12:01 AM:

Jon H, trying to figure out the NED's game in Iran makes my head spin. Terror Free Tomorrow has NED/IRI players, but the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has been funded by the NED, and they're pro-Mousavi. My very tentative theory is that Terror Free Tomorrow reported honestly. NED-backed groups don't like to be caught in bald lies. Whether Ballen etc. were correct, I dunno; the idea that someone in Iran decided to pad the numbers at the last minute seems plausible.

But I also find this convincing, from an article in the Independent: "President Ahmadinejad was re-elected with 62.6 per cent of the vote last week. His opponents claim the poll was rigged, although this is almost exactly the same as his vote in 2005, when he won 61.7 per cent. The point is that Mr Ahmadinejad is a popular politician..."

#110 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 02:53 AM:

Will,

That's not a very good argument.

2005 != 2009. Not in candidates, not in global climate, not inside Iran. Time does not stand still.

Republicans won the US Presidential election in 2004, but not in 2008, for instance. Why should Iran be the only country to stay the same for four years?

#111 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 03:41 AM:

will shetterly @109, trying to figure out the NED's game in Iran makes my head spin.

It might help to acknowledge that "X gets money or other support from Y" does not in necessarily mean "X will reliably do Y's bidding". You seem to think that, if someone gets money from some group, this turns him into some kind of chess piece, to be moved around on the board at that group's whim. But people aren't chess pieces, and won't always reliably act like chess pieces. They might take your money or other help, and then suddenly go and do something that doesn't fit your plans at the least convenient moment.

But I also find this convincing

No, you don't. It just happens to support claims that you're already convinced of anyway. If someone said the exact same things about some political leader who gets along fine with the US, you wouldn't find them the slightest bit convincing.

from an article in the Independent

Looks more like an op-ed piece to me.

"President Ahmadinejad was re-elected with 62.6 per cent of the vote last week. His opponents claim the poll was rigged, although this is almost exactly the same as his vote in 2005, when he won 61.7 per cent.

That was in the 2005 runoff. In the 2005 first round- the equivalent of last week's election- Ahmadinejad got 19.5 percent of the vote, and the turnout in the runoff was a good deal smaller than in the first round. Not to mention that in the 2005 runoff, Ahmadinejad could run as the anti-Establishment candidate (his opponent was a billionaire and well-established political insider, while he was a newcomer), which he couldn't really do this time. Besides, if Ahmadinejad is so immensely popular, then why is it that in the poll that you yourself pointed to here several times as evidence of his popularity, only 34 percent said that they wanted to vote for him?

That said, the linked op-ed's point that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are likely to stay in power because they're still a good deal more popular than the Shah was back in 1979 is well taken.

#112 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Raphael, #111: "If you can't take their money, drink their beer, and still vote against them, then you have no business in Texas politics." - Molly Ivins.

Iran sounds similar.

#113 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 11:00 AM:

Abi, apologies for being unclear; I didn't mean that alone was convincing. But I remember Reagan's win in his second election, and I conclude it's not unreasonable for a leader's popularity to grow, even if I really don't like the guy. The people arguing that the results are valid keep saying Mousavi was doing great, his popularity was growing, etc. But that hope is like mine for Mondale in '84 and Kerry in '04, a conviction that the better candidate should win.

But I agree it's not really about whether the results are valid. It's a rallying cry like the Maine and the Gulf of Tonkin, so I hope the rallying comes out for the best, regardless of whether the point is true.

Raphael, I do know the NED and the CIA outsource, and therefore can't guarantee that they've made the best bets.

Mousavi is generally known as Rafsanjani's man, so I don't find it hard to believe poor people would think of Ahamadinejad as their best hope for a protector.

If you're going to argue that the pollsters can't interpret their own data and cite the 34%, you should also cite Mousavi's 14%--less than half of Ahmadinejad's support, which, if accurate, says the undecided split predictably. If there wasn't an element of predictability in polling, no one would bother with it.

I will admit my bias here. I had no respect for polls until Florida in 2000. Now I respect them enormously.

#114 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 11:55 AM:

will @113:
If you're going to argue that the pollsters can't interpret their own data and cite the 34%, you should also cite Mousavi's 14%--less than half of Ahmadinejad's support, which, if accurate, says the undecided split predictably. If there wasn't an element of predictability in polling, no one would bother with it.

As this op-ed by an Iranian student points out, that poll was taken before the "six back-to-back live and unscripted debates among the four presidential candidates". In other words, between that survey and the ballot, there were opinion-changing events.

One matter that is no doubt on many minds right now, including but not limited to Ahmadinejad's, is how many opinion-changing events have occurred in the last week, pretty much all in one direction. Thus the logic of proffering a recount rather than a revote.

I don't think we can predict right now how this is going to come out. And I don't think that poll was predictive either. Things are moving awfully fast over there.

But I agree it's not really about whether the results are valid.

I think it was, a few days ago. But now it's about whether the process is valid.

#115 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 12:45 PM:

Abi, there were events. Whether they were opinion changing remains to be seen. I've read arguments that Mousavi's privatization plans really put off poor people--the speeches that made his supporters so hopeful may have hurt him.

I do like the point about Ahmadinejad as an Iranian Nixon.

As for the process, nah, that's not valid. Letting mullahs decide who can run makes me no happier than letting billionaires decide.

#116 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 12:49 PM:

P.S. Whatever the truth, I hope this take is correct: The Iranian working class and the revolt.

#117 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Ali Khamenei courage FAIL So now the supreme leader has decided to play it like he's done before. Not good. Not good at all.

#118 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Another take from Douglas Muir, basically a more generalized version of his last post, explaining why he's pessimistic about the protests' chance of success.

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Yeah, he's essentially saying "Sit down and shut up. We're running this country, not the people. You don't believe the election results? So? You might as well tell me you like strawberries." He follows up with thinly-veiled threats to start shooting people if the protests don't end.

Since I don't expect them to end, I expect some serious bloodshed in the next few days. The only hope is if the Council of Experts removes him as Supreme Leader, and even that could lead to a civil war, since the security forces would be unlikely to stand for it.

Khamenei just officially became a dictator.

#120 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 03:17 PM:

will@115:
As for the process, nah, that's not valid. Letting mullahs decide who can run makes me no happier than letting billionaires decide.

I had no idea you were an Iranian citizen.

Now me, as a dual US and UK citizen, I have no standing to tell them what political system they should have*, as long as it leads to leaders whom the people want. I hope the Iranians, if they feel the current system isn't working, can transition to a new one with a minimum of trauma and bloodshed. That's looking less and less likely, which I find distressing.


-----
* Sovereignty deriving, as it does, from the consent of the governed, not the consent of the citizens of the big powerful country watching from the sidelines.

#121 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Side comment on "what Khameini said" (and didn't say). (N.B. I'm relying on the less-than-stellar audio quality on the BBC's online "recording" of the speech, and my conversational comprehension is really rusty...)

There is a difference between (to quote both WaPo and The Grauniad) "the Islamic Republic would never cheat" on voting matters and "candidates for deceptively high office in the Islamic Republic, which is as we all know a theocracy anyway, would never cheat" on voting matters. It's just too hard to tell from that recording, but I think Khameini did actually make that distinction... even if he later undercut it with the typical bloodcurdling threats against dissent issued by theocrats everywhere. In short, it appears that he did leave himself a little bit of rhetorical room to maneuver and back away from Ahman'jinedad if a smoking gun emerges at some point down the road.

I must respectfully disagree, in practice anyway, with one aspect of Abi's point about "sovereignty arising from the consent of the governed" (120): All too often — and Iran is far from alone in this; consider the voting rights movement in the US, as an example — sovereignty in practice extends substantially beyond those who have, or are allowed to, consent (or withhold their consent). Historically, that's particularly a problem with theocracies and conquerors. This particular theocracy is probably worse than most, in that as a matter of both political and theological imperative it denies the right of nonadherants to consent to governance (or, in the case of Israel, even exist).

#122 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 03:57 PM:

Jaws @121:

The problem with extending consent to match the boundaries of the exercise of power of a government is that it leads to, for instance, the argument that the people of Iraq should have had a vote in the US Presidential election. (Indeed, most of the world should, by those rights, have had a vote. It's an influential position.)

At a certain point, the abstraction of "sovereignty derives from the consent of the governed" pretty much always clashes with the reality that governments affect more people than they govern. Those clashes often lead to bloodshed, but I don't think any other solution does any better. Picture giving, say, Israel veto power over the election results in Iraq—or, indeed, any say at all. (You picture it. The vision makes me faintly ill.)

This is one of those cases where we muddle along between the idea and the reality. But I don't think that that muddling includes a right for us, as non-Iranians, to determine what form of government the people of Iran wish to have. We can say we don't like the process they choose, but saying it's "not valid" is a step too far.

#123 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Rather than continue to discuss the presently unknowable issue of whether the election results were valid by internationally recognized standards, I'll point to an interesting development: Iran Khodro Auto Workers Begin Work Slowdown to Protest the Regime.

#124 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 04:18 PM:

abi, do you approve of the National Endowment for Democracy?

#125 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 04:40 PM:

will @124:
do you approve of the National Endowment for Democracy

I have not researched it to adequate depth to have a considered opinion on it. Why do you ask?

#126 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 05:01 PM:

abi, because they're all about interfering in the affairs of other countries, and they've been very active in Iran. After I wrote that, I came across this: Paul Craig Roberts: Are the Iranian Protests Another US Orchestrated "Color Revolution?"

The NED's name is very deceptive. They fund democracies when they can elect the people they want; they fund coups, as in 2002, when democracy is inconvenient for them.

#127 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Will,

If the NED, or any institution, could take a genuinely uninterested population and make it do what these huge crowds of Iranians are doing, they're wasted in politics. They should try advertising, or possibly religion.

Really. Sometimes it's not about us, not even secretly or covertly. Sometimes we're not the center of the narrative. Sometimes it's actually about the other people.

#128 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 06:49 PM:

will shetterly@113

In fact, the poll results DO NOT SUPPORT the conclusion that those two pollsters were trying to make. 34% for Ahmadinejad with 42% either "undecided" or refusing to state a preference does NOT point to an Ahmadinejad landslide under any reasonable analysis.

And, quite frankly, if Ballen and Doherty had included the actual poll results in their original op-ed it would have been clear to anyone moderately experienced in reading political polls that their conclusion was on very shaky ground.

More on why Ballen and Doherty's conclusion is questionable here (includes links to analysis by polling directors for the Washington Post and ABC) at http://www.pollster.com/blogs/posts_cohen_on_iran_polls.php

Note that the original conclusion of the TFT pollsters that the poll results pointed to a likely runoff is also questionable (as the ABC polling director pointed out in his analysis), although it is more defensible because there are strong reasons to expect the "undecided" and "refusals" to break strongly for Moussavi, especially in a repressive regime like Iran.

#129 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 06:52 PM:

abi, the NED exists because Ronald Reagan agreed that advertising and religion can be effective. By definition, every US citizen is at the center of its narrative because it's funded with our taxes and works in our name.

#130 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Will Shetterly (and any of the people Will Shetterly has linked to, if you should end up reading this for some reason), the Cold War is over. Stop fighting it.

#131 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 07:44 PM:

Yes, we're not in the Cold War anymore. That's one of the reasons the NED was created.

I'm a left-libertarian and Ron Paul is a right-libertarian, so we agree only on personal liberty and interventionism, I think. But on interventionism, I like him a great deal. Opposing House Resolution 560, he said,

Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.
His take on the National Endowment for Democracy is here.

In reaction to the NED, a group called the International Endowment for Democracy was formed. Perhaps the most prominent thinker they claim is Howard Zinn. They link to many writings about the NED.

#132 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 09:06 PM:

abi @ 120:

"* Sovereignty deriving, as it does, from the consent of the governed a mandate from the masses, not the consent of the citizens of the big powerful country watching from the sidelines from some farcical aquatic ceremony."

FTFY

#133 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 09:25 AM:

The provocatons have begun. There was just a blast at the Khomenei shrine in Tehran. Wouldn't at all surprise me if it was a black ops by the IRGC to be blamed on the protesters...

#134 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 10:41 AM:

122, 132 All of which presumes that a theocracy is ever a legitimate expression of sovereignty — a presumption that I deny, no matter how enthusiastically and unanimously the prospective governed purportedly consent to the theocracy.

I'm an equal-opportunity despiser of organized-religion-as-sovereign. It's not just about Islam, despite more years than I care to recall spent dealing (on a professional basis) with the Islamic Republic of Iran; I feel the same way about what the government of Israel has become in the last two decades, and about all the horrible examples of Christian theocracies down the years.

#135 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 10:48 AM:

abi #120:

Now me, as a dual US and UK citizen, I have no standing to tell them what political system they should have*, as long as it leads to leaders whom the people want.

I think I agree with the policies implied by this statement, but not with the moral claim. I absolutely do have the moral standing to point out evil wherever it occurs. There's nothing the least bit unreasonable about pointing out what's wrong with crony capitalism in Russia, or governmental thuggishness in Venezuela, or suppression of political dissent in Egypt. As a policy matter, I'd prefer to almost never try to intervene in other countries to fix those problems. But that's a practical issue, not a moral one, to me--I don't think there's some moral right of the Serbian people to do awful things to their Croat minority, or some moral right of the Afghans to keep their women in 14th century darkness, or a moral right of the Chinese to suppress discussion of some topics among their people. I just think it's almost always bad policy for us to try to stick our hand in and "fix" those other countries, especially by military force.

The important insight from abi's comment, to my mind, is something more basic, which Americans in particular need to remember: This isn't about us. The Iranians are having this big internal conflict, which has already spilled blood and will likely spill a lot more, for their own reasons--reasons with which we may sometimes agree or identify, but which are theirs, not ours. They mostly aren't concerned with whether their political goals sound good to American or European or Japanese ears, but rather to Iranian ears.

#136 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 11:07 AM:

So far, the government seems to be keeping the violence relatively low key. There are attacks on the protesters, but these seem to be non-lethal. Maybe there is hope for the protest, if even Khamenei feels constrained.

Hmmmm, maybe Khamenei belongs on the spelling demons list.

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 11:14 AM:

albatross @135:
I absolutely do have the moral standing to point out evil wherever it occurs.

I agree entirely.

My trigger word for that comment was not "evil" but "valid" by will @115. That's the call I don't think I, as an outsider, get to make in the face of the consent of the governed.

I'm in full support in the right to disapprove of both a given regime and its actions on moral grounds.

And, on a practical basis, our history of declaring governments invalid and trying to replace them has been a bloody catalog of errors.

#138 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Robert @133, that was a suicide bomber. Stooges don't blow themselves up.

albatross @135, if your "this isn't about us" means the US should stay out of Iran's affairs, I totally agree. I certainly agree with your lead-up to that point.

abi @137, we may use "valid" in different ways. I agree that "valid" in politics is the will of the people. It's not kings or mullahs or billionaires or anyone who says, "You're free to do anything I like."

#139 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 11:56 AM:

will @138:
we may use "valid" in different ways

I guess we do. I think that if the people want an electoral system where the candidates are approved by the mullahs, they should be allowed to have it. It's not the choice I would make, but I'm not them.

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 12:01 PM:

I rather liked Two Mules for Sister Sara.
("Not mules, Serge. Mullah.")
Oh.
Nevermind.

#141 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 12:06 PM:

abi, #139: hey, we have a bunch of 100 old white mostly warmongering mostly guys who veto anything to the left of Eisenhower--and we elect them! The Iranian system ain't all that different, when you get down to it.

Next, the Senate...

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 12:20 PM:

Randolph @ 141... Flawed as my America may be, I must beg to differ with you, regarding that supposed lack of difference.

#144 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 12:32 PM:

will @142:

If that YouTube smelled any more of paranoia and propaganda in even mix, my screen would have melted.

Just in the first minute, which is how much I gave it before realizing that I wasn't going to trust a word of it, I noted the following red flags:

* use of respected figures to cover unsourced allegations (video claims to have been "edited" by Anti-Defamation, and then starts with Brian Ross introducing himself; quotes from "the Telegraraph [sic] and other sources" without stating which ones were which)
* use of items from different years without a clear reason for mixing them
* citation of a report from 2007 saying "the CIA has received Presidential approval to mount a black or covert operation to destabilize the Iranian regime" followed by a 2009 clip from Barack Obama (that one makes me feel slimed)
* emotive and entirely irrelevant music

With respect, I think I'll choose my own sources for information.

#145 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 12:41 PM:

abi, the editing is essentially a fan vid, but the sources are mainstream news media, and the dates are identified. The point is that the CIA and the NED are hardly acting secretly here.

I think its editor assumed people would know that Obama was not elected in 2007. I think the editor also assumed that people would recognize a continuity of US policy when they saw it. Among my early concerns about Obama was his announced intention to expand the NED rather than shut it down.

#146 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 02:09 PM:

Raphael @ 130: And the bad guys lost. Unfortunately, the other bad guys won.

#147 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Serge, #143: I think I touched a nerve--sorry. What were you thinking of in particular? I think we're very different from Iran, to be sure, but the difference is of degree rather than kind, and I find that very discouraging.

#148 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 05:43 PM:

will @138 Don't forget that this regime has no shortage of fanatics who would be willing to martyr themselves for get a free ticket into paradise. Don't forget the young people who willing led attacks through minefields, and the eager volunteers everytime the West or Israel does something they don't like...

#149 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 05:54 PM:

Oh, and here we have Ahmadinejad Sucks at Photoshop.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Randolph @ 147... I'd say the difference isn't just in degree, but most definitely in kind too. It seems quite obvious to me without its having to be explained - maybe it's because I chose America. Also, it's not like a country being ruled by warmongering mostly white mostly men is a situation unique to my country.

As for what America means to me...

Mr. Leuchtag: Come sit down. Have a brandy with us.
Mrs. Leuchtag: To celebrate our leaving for America tomorrow.
Carl: Oh, thank you very much. I thought you would ask me, so I brought the good brandy. And - a third glass!
Mrs. Leuchtag: At last the day is came!
Mr. Leuchtag: Mareichtag and I are speaking nothing but English now.
Mrs. Leuchtag: So we should feel at home when we get to America.
Carl: Very nice idea, mm-hmm.
Mr. Leuchtag: [toasting] To America!
Mrs. Leuchtag: To America!
Carl: To America!

#151 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Mr. Leuchtag: Liebchen - sweetnessheart, what watch?
Mrs. Leuchtag: Ten watch.
Mr. Leuchtag: Such much?
Carl: Hm. You will get along beautiful in America, mm-hmm.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2009, 07:20 PM:

"I mean, why are you here? There must be a reason."
"Yes. I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."
"You're gonna end up fighting every elected official in this country!"
"I'm sure you don't really mean that."
"I don't believe this."
"Lois, I never lie."

#153 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 01:20 AM:

Randolph @141, worse than that. If they'd only veto things when these things are to the left of Eisenhower, the situation in the US wouldn't be as dire as it is.

Randolph @147, Serge @150, I think the difference between differences in kind and differences in degree is highly overrated.

Back on topic: Will Shetterly @145, The point is that the CIA and the NED are hardly acting secretly here.

No, the point is that said clip, like almost everything else you've linked to here so far, and probably almost everything you're willing to pay attention to, confirms your knee-jerk reactions.

Now, please don't be vague. If you want to say something, please say it directly. Are you saying that the folks who are protesting in Tehran and other cities are stooges or paid agents of the US government? Yes or no? Are you saying that the folks who have been killed in Iran over the last days are stooges or paid agents of the US government? Yes or no? Are you saying that people filling the streets in mile-long lines are stooges or paid agents of the US government? Yes or no? Are you saying that the people taking all those cellphone pics and videos and trying to get them online are stooges or paid agents of the US government? Yes or no? Are you saying that the garbagemen and transport workers on strike are stooges or paid agents of the US government? Yes or no?

Or are you simply saying that there might have been some involvement by some people who are somehow connected with some people who are somehow connected with someone's hairdresser? If so, why should I care? Indirectly everyone is connected with everything. I know some guy who used to know some guy who apparently used to know the 9/11 pilots. And I occassionally hang out on a blog where several commenters apparently are or used to be connected with US intelligence.

Politics, as well as several other things, is to a good deal about making and ending and re-making alliances. When a lot of people are really very upset about something, and want to take some kind of action about it, I don't see why they should be obliged to do intensive background checks on anyone who might agree with the actions they want to take (except to avoid being sabotaged, of course). In your opinion, what's an Iranian who's strongly opposed to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad (either from the start, or since the last days) supposed to do- shut up about it to avoid becoming an indirect ally of the NED?

And even if there are some NED connections- not that you have given any reasons to believe that other than speculations- so? When people are very unhappy about the circumstances in the places where they live, and organizing is very difficult, some of them may take the any help, or best help they can get, no matter where it comes from. Does that somehow magically make their grievances less real? Does the US-French alliance during the War of Independence mean that the leaders of that war were stooges of the King of France?

And, generally, do you think it's a good idea to get into the habit of agreeing with the leaders of a political system when they say that the people protesting against them are agents of foreign enemies?

#154 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 01:30 AM:

Serge, #149: oh, I see what you mean. The Enlightenment ideals that were part of the Framers ideals. Whereas, of course, Iran is theoretically an Islamic utopia. That is, to be sure, very different.

In practical matters of governance, the differences still seem to me more a matter of degree than kind. And...ideals or no, it seems to me that Iranians and Americans are not so very different in their practice of freedom. Isn't that why they're out in the streets after all?

#155 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 01:57 AM:

This column by Roger Cohen is an incredible piece of eyewitness journalism. You can almost smell the tear gas.

#156 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 03:07 AM:

Raphael, I like things that confirm my kneejerk reactions, and you like things that confirm yours. It's that being human thang.

Iran's leaders know the CIA has been at work. It was on ABC TV; of course they know it. They know NIAC is being funded by the NED; they can use the web, for all that they're trying to keep their opponents from using it. This really isn't secret shit I'm talking about.

And Iran's leaders also know their problem is bigger than the CIA or the NED. That's why McCain's an idiot for calling for more US action, and it's why Obama's been cautious in his statements. It'd be awfully hard for the US to go into Iran looking like liberators.

I look at what the NED has done to oppose democracy in places like Costa Rica, Haiti, and Venezuela, and they will always worry me. But I also remember that they funded the opposition to Pinochet, and getting rid of him was a damn fine idea. So now that the tiger's loose, I'm hoping for the best for the Iranians. There's one in particular who's in my heart, so every report of someone hurt worries me.

#157 ::: AntonGarou ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 08:13 AM:

will @138: two points against sucide bombing being any indication- the 1st being what Robert Glaub said, and the 2nd being that he might not have known that he was going to be a suicide bomber- i.e. his instructions were to leave it in place x and the bomb was supposedly timer detonated while it was actually remotely detoneted when he got to the right spot.

#158 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 09:36 AM:

Raphael @ 153: If there were any way to prove it, one way or another, I'd bet cash money at least a few of the "citizen journalists" reporting on any given event of great political importance have intelligence agency money in their pockets.

If you want to make it specific and make the given event the current unrest in Iran and the intelligence agency the combined United States intelligence apparatus, then I'll say that's probably true, too.

(Web 2.0 is a perfect environment for black propaganda of all sorts and from all sides.)

Now, does that make the people in the streets of Tehran CIA stooges? No.

Both sides in the Cold War played these games. These days, we've got some evidence on KGB attempts to influence the opposition in the United States. If we had access to the CIA's archives, I'd bet cash money we'd find significant CIA resources put into the opposition in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries. That's how empires operate.

None of that has any bearing on whether the causes and movements intelligence agencies infiltrate and influence are good causes or bad causes, any more than whether heavy rain during a demonstration has any bearing on whether the demonstration is for a good cause or a bad cause; it's just an environmental factor to be tracked and managed and kept from doing damage.

Whatever the roots of this current unrest, it's an opportunity for the people of Iran to make big changes quickly. I wish them well, and sincerely hope it turns out better than the last two times.

#159 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 10:08 AM:

John #158:

One of the fascinating things about the rise of distributed, anarchaic sources of information (blogs, Youtube, flikr) is that it changes the nature of PR/spin/propoganda operations. Look at the US mainstream media. They have enormous political freedom, and yet, they're amazingly uniform in worldview and outlook, they tend to share many of the same blind spots, and they mostly seem to be susceptible to the same basic media control techniques. (IMO, this became stunningly visible right after 9/11.)

Now, the newer sources of information are surely vulnerable to all kinds of different control techniques. In particular, it's not so hard to pay people to spread your propoganda under their name. But the control techniques are different, and I suspect the results are different, too. For example, when there were a very small number of sources of information to which most Americans were limited, it was possible to simply ignore or exclude ideas from the discussion--a sufficiently offensive or upsetting idea, from the perspective of the establishment, simply would never be mentioned--those things were simply beyond the pale of legitimate discussion. Other ideas and beliefs and policy proposals were discussed sometimes, but no good arguments for them would ever appear on TV or in one of the big newspapers. And the broad consensus viewpoint was constantly re-enforced in terms of what was and wasn't reported, what arguments were and were not made, etc. That sort of narrowness probably just won't work with the new kinds of information sources.

IMO, we'll be best off if we have a wide variety of information sources--for-profit media, public TV/radio, media run by governments or churches, blogs large and small, flikr and youtube and facebook and twitter, etc. Then, media control techniques that work to keep the big corporate media off a story will usually fail to keep public radio off the story, or to keep the blogs off the story, or whatever. Similarly, a big astroturf campaign of paid bloggers/tweeters reporting the same spin on a story can be counteracted by standard reporters or big-name bloggers pointing out the problems with the reports.

#160 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 12:44 PM:

Raphael, #153: Nicely put. Especially your final question.

#161 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 01:11 PM:

I suppose my attitude to homsexuality can be seen as an example of what the opening out of suppressed memes can lead to. Though it's as much to do with personal experience, chiefly the shift from essentially rural England to the wider world of fandom.

But, apart from meeting people who were gay, the big thing the net itself brought was an ability to talk about it, apart from with the local people who know me. And some of the seedier gaming opportunities--certain text-only MUDs--mad a certain indirect exploration possible.

There's nothing I feel particularly tempted to do, but gay sex has become thinkable.

And the same with my political thought-space: I've gone from the Sex Pistols singing Anarchy in the UK to seeing Anarchism as a respectable philosophy. It's not only PolSci students who read Kropotkin.

#162 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 01:13 PM:

AntonGarou, when it comes to suicide bombers--or most things--I'm a fan of Occam's razor. I've seen too many groups come up with improbable explanations to wave away bad things done by their supporters. When something is unleashed like what's happening in Iran, the radical fringes tend to do evil and stupid things with the best intentions. Look at black bloc tactics in North American and European protests for a simple example. (And, yes, as with black blocing, it is possible that someone's infiltrated to use good people cynically. But manipulating someone into suicide just isn't likely.) (Also, if word gets out that you blow up your group members without their permission, you soon will have none, so I really doubt that theory.)

John A. Arkansawyer, the NED often has reporters on its payroll, as noted here and elsewhere.

And thanks for pointing out that this is just part of the Great Game. The people the NED are trying to use are not stooges. That can even be true of the people on their payroll--one of the people who opposed Pinochet has been quoted saying that accepting NED money was very, very hard.

#163 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 01:50 PM:

Quoting a bit I saw in the NY Times Lede section, as to the validity of the election results. Emphasis mine:

...an interesting analysis of Iran’s election results that was published by London-based Chatham House. The analysis, based on the province-by-province breakdowns of the 2009 and 2005 results released by the Iranian Ministry of Interior, challenges some of the assertions about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection made by Iranian officials.

The authors cite these highlights of their analysis:

1) At a provincial level, there is no correlation between the increased turnout, and the swing to Ahmadinejad. This challenges the notion that his victory was due to the massive participation of a previously silent conservative majority.

2) In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, and all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.

3) In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces flies in the face of these trends.

#164 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 04:54 PM:

What was really fascinating about the Chatham House report was this bullet point that appeared early in the article:

"In two Conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, a turnout of more than 100% was recorded."

God, this is not Iran. This is old machine politics like in Chicago.

#165 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 05:55 PM:

I got to wondering why Ballen and Doherty hadn't responded to the charges against them, and discovered they did. From Commentary: Iranians want more democracy - CNN.com

Given Iranians' own priorities for their government, the events of the past few days may ultimately weaken President Ahmadinejad's standing -- even among those who did vote to re-elect him. In fact, our survey found that more than 86 percent of Iranians who said they would vote for Ahmadinejad also chose ensuring free elections and a free press as among the most important priorities they have for the Iranian government.

#166 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 09:26 PM:

"In two Conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, a turnout of more than 100% was recorded."

That ain't the half of it.

Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of those eligible to cast ballot in those areas.

The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

"Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.

The spokesman, however, said that although the vote tally affected by such an irregularity is over 3 million, "it has yet to be determined whether the amount is decisive in the election results," reported Khabaronline.

#167 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2009, 11:17 PM:

#166
That's an interesting way to try to get out of election fraud claims - if it happened in only half the number of places claimed, it isn't really a problem.

And if dead people only vote once, it isn't fraud either?

#168 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 01:35 AM:

will shetterly @ 156: "And Iran's leaders also know their problem is bigger than the CIA or the NED."

Presumably then you also agree that their problem is bigger than NED. So I ask you: why do you keep talking about them? If you think NED isn't playing an important role in the current situation in Iran, then why do you keep bringing them up? I'm sorry, but I really don't see how what they did in South America in the seventies has to do with it.

Either the existence of NED has explanatory power in this situation, or it doesn't. If they do, then please explain what they have been doing in Iran recently. If they don't, then please explain why you feel the need to bring them into it despite their admitted irrelevance.

#169 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 02:06 AM:

""Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said."

And he said it with a straight face? I can imagine Jon Stewart saying, 'Oh, there's only election fraud in less than 1/3 of Iran's cities. That's _so_ reassuring.'

#170 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 03:16 AM:

heresiarch, I was done with the subject, but since you ask, the NED has put millions of dollars into Iran. I hope they spent it well. I don't mean to just cite their distant past. They funded a coup against Chavez in 2002, even though his election was deemed fair by international observers. They funded the overthrowing of Aristide in 2004. They spent millions trying to prevent the election of Preval in 2006. McCain, who I believe is still the head of the IRI, which is funded by the NED, has been calling for Obama to act in Iran, which I think would be a disaster: when the US invades, people unite against us.

A couple of Democracy Now! transcripts you might like: Did the Bush Administration Allow a Network of Right-Wing Republicans to Foment a Violent Coup in Haiti? and U.S. Gvt. Channels Millions Through National Endowment for Democracy to Fund Anti-Lavalas Groups in Haiti.

The NED routinely plays with people's lives to advance corporate aims. Now they're using the hopes of Iranians who want a better world. I pray the Iranians get what they're struggling for.

Now I'm very happy to let this drop. As I said before, Patrick's right. We're past the question of whether the election results for the mullahs' approved candidates are accurate. For me, that became irrelevant at the moment the Iranians' right to protest was suppressed.

#171 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 08:07 AM:

That's a nice collection of links, none of which actually has anything to do with the current situation in Iran. I don't doubt their perfidy--I doubt their importance and their relevance. I ask again: what evidence do you have that NED has had any effect on what is happening in Iran?

#172 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 09:40 AM:

And now the Revolutionary Guards are weighing in. Their web site is threatening action. I've got a feeling this, unlike other crackdowns, could backfire.

#174 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 01:08 PM:

heresiarch, I provided many links to answer your question, which triggered the spam filter. It should show up eventually.

#175 ::: AntonGarou ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 03:15 PM:

Will@173: The evidence strongly suggests these elections were rigged, at least to some extent. Several parts of regular procedures in Iranian elections were blatantly ignored- for example the Supreme Leader is supposed to wait 3 days after the official announcement of results to confirm them so candidates can appeal the results. People who rig elections don't like UN supervisors peering over their shoulders.

#176 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 03:34 PM:

AntonGarou, I agree the elections should be investigated. But whether they were rigged after the mullahs chose their candidates remains to be proven. I recommend Esam Al-Amin: What Actually Happened in the Iranian Presidential Election?, which includes this:

The elections in Iran are organized, monitored and counted by teachers and professionals including civil servants and retirees (again much like the U.S.) There has not been a tradition of election fraud in Iran. Say what you will about the system of the Islamic Republic, but its elected legislators have impeached ministers and “borked” nominees of several Presidents, including Ahmadinejad.

#177 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 04:13 PM:

will shetterly @#170 says:

when the US invades, people unite against us.

We try.

#178 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 05:03 PM:

Two sources, two different statements on how Iran runs its elections:

The Counterpunch article quoted in #176 says
[...] there were less than 860 ballots per box. Unlike other countries where voters can cast their ballots on several candidates and issues in a single election, Iranian voters had only one choice to consider: their presidential candidate. Why would it take more than an hour or two to count 860 ballots per poll? After the count, the results were then reported electronically to the Ministry of the Interior in Tehran.[...]

It also says
When it comes to elections, the real problem in Iran is not fraud but candidates’ access to the ballots (a problem not unique to the country, just ask Ralph Nader or any other third party candidate in the U.S.) It is highly unlikely that there was a huge conspiracy involving tens of thousands of teachers, professionals and civil servants that somehow remained totally hidden and unexposed.

FiveThirtyEight -I don't know Nate Silver's expertise on the Iranian election system, but he nailed the US election with uncanny accuracy-
points out that

In the United States, it is actually rather difficult to steal an election: because of our federalist system, elections are monitored and voting totals are reported by hundreds or thousands of individual officials at the state, county, and precinct levels. There is therefore a rather substantial marginal cost to stealing additional votes: you have to recruit some number of additional people into the conspiracy, and hope they don't rat you out or leave some kind of paper trail that makes obvious your intention. It is probably not that difficult to find a few corrupt (but competent) stooges who will help you out, but for each additional vote that you want to steal, you have to go lower down the food pyramid, soliciting the help of people who are less loyal and might undermine your plan.
But this is simply not the case in Iran. All votes are counted are reported by the Interior Ministry. There is no other source of information. There are no election monitors. Nor does the fraud alleged involve any sort of physical process (e.g. stuffing ballot boxes). It is simply a matter of changing numbers on a spreadsheet. Under these conditions, it is essentially no more difficult to steal a thousand votes than one, a million than a thousand, or 11 million than one million.

... I'm inclined to think that this would have been a pretty easy election to steal.

#179 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 07:03 PM:

(Sorry, I fell off the internets. )

I just wanted to explain what I meant when I said "ask the Soviets, who destabilized Iran in the 70s"... The Cold War was still pretty hot at the time. Moscow-trained marxists were instrumental in fighting the Shah and creating the conditions for the revolution. They then lost the following power struggle to the islamists. Yeah, the Shah was a crook, but history tells us that underground "resistance" movements need funding and training, which almost invariably will come from foreign interests.

In a way, the Soviet failure in Iran mirrored the fate of their similar attempts in Israel.

#180 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Those are interesting links, will. In order:

1. Mentions nothing about any link between NED and the current Iranian situation
2. Mentions nothing about any link between NED and the current Iranian situation
3. Mentions nothing about any link between NED and the current Iranian situation
4. Has no evidence of any link between NED and the current Iranian situation
5. Has no evidence of any US involvement in the current Iranian situation
6. Republishes number 4
7. Sounds like a crazy person, honestly
8. Basically recaps the history of American interference in Iran, which I've never disputed, but mentions nothing of any link between NED and the current Iranian situation
9. Republishes number 7

In essence, your argument consists of "The US has a long history of interfering in Iran's domestic affairs, and the Bush administration put several tens of millions of dollars towards continuing that tradition, so therefore anything that happens in Iran is a product of that interference." You assume, rather than prove, any connection between the Iranian street protests and the US.

You said that you're a fan of Occam's razor. Now, which account seems simpler to you: the US has reached out to the Muslim world, trying to lay foundations for a less adversarial relationship* just before orchestrating a million-person strong uprising in a country where any hint of US involvement is anathema, or: an increasingly oppressive theocracy has been driven by anti-democratic hard-liners over into honest-to-goodness totalitarianism?

*This is really worth considering. Given Obama's approach towards the Muslim world, exemplified in the Cairo speech, backing a revolution in Iran would be massively foolish: any accusations of foul play could ruin any chance for rapprochement. He has much to lose, and little to gain.

#181 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 09:53 PM:

heresiarch, I gave you #1 so you could understand the connection to #2, NIAC.

NIAC is active today, literally. In an article at the Christian Science Monitor, the president and cofounder of the National Iranian American Council is pushing Obama toward McCain's position by saying, "The president should clearly condemn the Iranian government's violations and use of brutal force against its own people."

As for #3, I think it's extremely relevant, even if it doesn't meet your definition of "current": Back in 2007, ABC News reported that President George W. Bush had signed a secret "Presidential finding" authorizing the CIA to mount covert "black" operations to destabilize the Iranian government. According to current and former intelligence officials, these operations included "a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions."

If you have any evidence that those operations were canceled, please share them.

I'll skip why I think most of the others matter. As for #7 and #9, I agree Paul Craig Roberts is obsessed, but that's often what's required to dig out information that's being suppressed or obscured. He's got better credentials than you or me, which doesn't mean he's right, but does suggest he shouldn't be dismissed blithely.

#182 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Will: The director of lots of groups are hopeful they can convince Obama to do lots of things.

What's your basis for thinking director of NIAC has enough of Obama's ear to get a real hearing, much less be able to push him to do anything (me... I'm pushing for more transparency, and a real repudiation of torture, doesn't seem to be working).

#183 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 11:30 PM:

Terry, I didn't mean the director could make Obama act. I just meant the head of NIAC is promoting the NED's agenda. Calling for international examination of the voting, I understand. Calling for one nation to condemn another? That's escalation, which is the NED's game.

I've seen a lot of the protest videos, and while I hate police action as much as anyone does, I haven't seen Iranian cops doing anything worse than US cops do when protesters are out. I'm very curious about the killing of the young woman--I can't imagine any official saying, "Let's send out a sniper to shoot a randon young woman in the heart. That'll stop the protests."

I hear you on Obama. The Guantanamo photos must be as bad or worse than we can imagine.

#184 ::: AntonGarou ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 12:09 AM:

will @176: a crucial difference is that the Supreme leader has representatives practically at every important node of the system, and as such is in a very good position to do various dirty tricks.

#185 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 01:10 AM:

will shetterly @ 181: "NIAC is active today, literally."

Well good for them. What of it? I believe that NED wants to foment revolution in Iran. I believe a number of groups would like to do so. I believe that the Bush administration would have liked to do so. What you haven't proved is that anyone has done so.

"If you have any evidence that those operations were canceled, please share them."

I might equally well ask you what evidence you have that they weren't. Obama's position on Iran is as far from Bush's as is politically imaginable: why would he continue the most reckless and insane of his policies? Everything that Obama has done suggests that he is primarily a realist, and a cautious one at that. Attempted revolution does not fall under the purview of cautious realism.

Your theory doesn't make any sense unless you assume Obama feels the same way towards Iran as the neocons feel. I don't make that assumption, and until you can prove its validity I'm not going to find your argument terribly persuasive.

"I agree Paul Craig Roberts is obsessed, but that's often what's required to dig out information that's being suppressed or obscured."

And when he digs out some information more persuasive than "Moussavi declared victory too quickly" I'll be happy to listen to him. Until then, he's spinning conspiracy theories.

#186 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 02:03 AM:

AntonGarou, I agree it's possible.

heresiarch, time to agree to disagree. At this point, I just want the protesters to do well.

#187 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 03:02 AM:

It seems quite plausible that American support for regime change in Iran could have set up the infrastructure of rebellion before Obama was elected. And it doesn't need to be US-controlled now.

As for US elections, the use of electronic voting does appear to have introduced a new vulnerability, in which a few people in the right place could pervert the programming of the machines, nationwide.

Neither of these is, I think, a whacko conspiracy theory.

#188 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 05:02 AM:

will shetterly, heresiarch, time to agree to disagree. At this point, I just want the protesters to do well.

Bullshit. You want to smear them. If you'd just want them to do well, you wouldn't try your best to give as much exposure as possible to articles dedicated to portraying them as CIA/NED/SCA/whatever stooges. You wouldn't start believing stuff posted on vdare, and link to it to back up your position. (BTW, mods, what about disabling that link? I'm not sure we should give them link aid if we can avoid that.)

Again, do you agree with those who say that all right-thinking people should oppose the protestors since they're doing the NED's work, yes or no? If you don't agree with the people who say that, why, then, do you treat them as authorities, and try to promote their work? If you want the protestors to do well, then why has almost every one of your posts here so far been about either directly or indirectly saying that they're controlled by the bad guys?

And, btw, estimates about people killed range from dozens (state media, I think) to hundreds, so it won't really do to be "curious" (why do you always have to talk in such an unsufferable "nudge nudge wink wink"-way, instead of saying what you mean?) about the dead of the most famous individual one of the killed protestors- they didn't just kill "a random" person, they killed lots of people. And how do you get the idea that anyone claims it was a "sniper"? People don't just get shot by snipers- you might have noticed that there are other firearms aside from sniper rifles in the world. It was most likely simply security forces using their firearms in addition to riot gear. As for "some official saying"- I can't imagine some official saying "Let's grab random protestors and beat them up to stop the protests" either, but that still seems to be common behaviour among cops whenever there are protests somewhere, too.

#189 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 05:24 AM:

As far as I can read, nobody here (or in the press) mentioned another big factor that is getting clearer in the current uprising: the "fathers of the revolution" are aging. They are still on display, but in practice the stage is being taken over by their heirs (political and otherwise). This means that the compromises originally forged in that struggle are being renegotiated by the new generation of power-brokers, for which the ghost of the Shah and the Iran/Iraq war are less important than "business at the speed of light" and proto-fascism. These people (Amahdi as well as Mousavi's and Rafansjani's offspring) are getting more and more independent, and with independence comes a phase of radicalization, because they have less to lose than their elders. Amahdi started this process during his term, and the other factions are now responding.

This just to say that I believe things will probably get much worse before they get better. Which is the opposite of what I thought last week :) but the more it goes on, the more elements are becoming clear.

#190 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 10:16 AM:

Raphael, if you want to accuse ABC-TV of being anti-American or anti-protester by exposing CIA plans, that's cool. But as for the notion that I'm endangering anyone by citing one of America's three major networks... Well, I can't even finish the sentence.

As for vdare, I didn't notice who I was linking to when I was grabbing essays quickly. (I noticed the author, not the site.) After I linked to it, I did a bit of research. They're crazy rightwingers on immigration, but calling them racist is a stretch, because, as their wikipedia article notes, they're supported by crazy rightwingers of all races.

do you agree with those who say that all right-thinking people should oppose the protestors since they're doing the NED's work, yes or no?

Who says that? It is possible to support the protesters and oppose the NED. There are many agendas at work now. On my blog last night, I quoted Louis Proyect on the one thing about Iran that I believe 100%: "Whatever Mousavi’s intentions, there is no question that the students in Tehran have their own agenda in this battle which is to extend democratic rights."

The idea that there are only two sides and two positions is... Well, it's not mine.

Regarding Neda, I'm seeing people saying she was shot deliberately through the heart. My suspicion is it was a stray bullet or a lone crazy firing into the crowd. I didn't mean to imply that I thought she was the only death. (Just googled "neda heart" and among the first hits was "...reported that the shooter aimed at Neda's heart." People are presenting her death as a targeted killing.

Officials do say, "Let's beat some sense into the kids." Read about Chicago in '68.

#191 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 10:26 AM:

"...reported that the shooter aimed at Neda's heart."

And they know this because the shooter came out and said so?

#192 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Jim, darned if I know. I suspect the first people who reported on it were simply speaking out of horror: "They shot her through the heart!"

But the result is things like this: Poem for Neda, which tells of snipers and damns Obama. (I didn't google for snipers; that was among the first hits I got when I looked for "neda heart."

#193 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 10:33 AM:

Will Shetterly #190: If you think vdare isn't racist because "they're supported by crazy rightwingers of all races" you really should investigate it further. Genteel racism of the kind they promote is still racism in my book.

#194 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Fragano, according to Wikipedia, their contributors include a Filipina-American (Malkin), a Cuban (George Borjas), a Native American (David A. Yeagley), a Jewish/Asian-American (Marcus Epstein), and a Japanese-American (Lance T. Izumi).

Their immigration policy would disproportionately affect people of color, but if that makes them genteel racists, then Obama is also one, because he supports policies that hurt the poor, who are disproportionately "of color."

#195 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 11:24 AM:

Will Shetterly:

That's the same Marcus Epstein who assaulted a pedestrian and yelled racial slurs at her? That's the same Michelle Malkin who thinks that concentration camps are a good idea?

Look at the stuff Vdare has to say about Martin Luther King. Look at the stuff it has to say "debunking" the achievement of famous African Americans.

#196 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 11:36 AM:

Disengage, Will.

#197 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Will: VDare is no one to go to.

Everyone: I think it's time to take a breath.

I don't think I have a dog in this fight. I'd like to keep it that way. It's starting to look (to me) as if the only way I can do that (and not on subjects related to the topic at hand) is to stop reading it.

Partly that's because I have a lot on my plate.

Partly it's because I'm see frustrations leading to a lack of charity.

Mostly it's because I see people talking past each other.

#198 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 11:53 AM:

Oh Will.

Release!

Trust me on this one, ok?

#200 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Abi, one question for clarity's sake. It's vdare that's the problem? All I know about them is the article I linked to and the Wikipedia entry. I gather that, regardless of their racial mix, they're thorough rightwing scumbags, so I'll happily avoid citing or linking to them henceforth.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 12:20 PM:

Is it time for me to break the emergency pun out of its glass case?
("Everybody run away!")
I heard that.

#202 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 12:27 PM:

I just read Keeping America White. My apologies for bringing a turd into the room.

#203 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Will,

It is not just vdare.

If I tell you what it was, though, you'll just argue with me. Which is a large part of the problem.

Release. Walk away.

#204 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 12:51 PM:

I'm walking.

#205 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2009, 01:00 PM:

I'm just now walking out for my lunch hour, but let me note this: I'm pretty fond of America, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a history soaked in other people's blood. I voted for Obama, but I didn't expect him to stop the rush to empire. I'm thrilled when people stand up to authoritarianism, but I don't delude myself to think there may be other agendas at work when it happens.

That's all I have to say on the subject, as I'd prefer not to snarl at the in-laws over lunch.

#206 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 12:39 PM:

A quick comment, specifically about turning this post green in solidarity: What about the argument that USAinas in particular should not take public stands in favor of the Democracy movement for the sake of the Democracy movement? Between the 1950's coup, U.S. support for the the Shah, and close ties to the SAVAK torturers, and U.S. support for Saddam for 8 years while Iraq killed Iranians by the millions, sanctions that cause misery for the Iranian people today we are about as popular with Iranians as Al-Qaeda is with USAians. In short, our public support in an Iranian political struggle is like an Osama Bin Laden endorsement in a U.S. election.

#207 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 02:49 PM:

I'd like to hope that most are aware enough to differentiate between the US people and the US government and politicians. Of course, I don't plan to parachute into Tehran and start bellowing jingoistic Toby Keith songs....

#208 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 03:22 PM:

Gar Lipow @206:

What about the argument that USAinas in particular should not take public stands in favor of the Democracy movement for the sake of the Democracy movement?

I think that any who are going to use American support as a weapon against their enemies will invent what they cannot find. Of course they can and will say that this movement is intended to give an American puppet the gloss of popular legitimacy.

But that line of thinking just leads a maze of mirrors; everything we would do at that point would become driven by the desire not to lose an unwinnable game. At a certain point, we can't just react out of fear of what propagandists will make of what we say and do.

I think that if we're to be honest brokers in the Middle East (or the world), we need to be on-side here. But being on-side means being in favor of the process of transparent and fair elections, rather than in favor of any particular candidate in those elections.

Which leads to the question of the color green, of course, since that's associated with Mousavi. But from what I can see of the tangled situation in Iran at the moment, not all of the protesters voted green. Some of them have joined because of the conduct of the election, not its outcome. And from what I can see, those people are wearing green too.

It's messy and tangled. There are no clear choices. But I think, on balance, that we are better to support the movement, albeit morally rather than financially

#209 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 04:45 PM:

Is Mousavi using the same shade of green that is associated as the standard color of Islam?

#210 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 05:17 PM:

Earl @209:
Is Mousavi using the same shade of green that is associated as the standard color of Islam?

Yep.

It's also on the Iranian flag. It's a color of good provenance in the context.

#211 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 07:22 PM:

I've got to wonder why Mousavi is the only candidate thus greened; one would think the candidates would be tripping all over themselves to claim the status of more-Islamic-than-thou.

#212 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:32 AM:

Earl Cooley III @211, I guess his supporters were first, and once they were green, their opponents didn't try to outgreen them because indivudually, they didn't want to be mistaken for protestors. But I don't know that much about the situation, so perhaps others went green, too, and it just wasn't reported that much.

#213 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 04:18 AM:

Wednesday, there were apparently more cops than protestors at the main protests. Sounds suspiciously as if Douglas Muir was right and the protests are already ebbing of now to me.

#214 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 09:37 AM:

The family of Neda Soltan has been forced out of their home by the authorities. They haven't been allowed to have a funeral for her.

I am so disgusted with the government of Iran for this.

#215 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 01:11 AM:

An "Open Letter of Support to the Demonstraters in Iran." Signed by, among many others, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, and several other luminaries of what in the United States qualifies as the "far left."

"Khamenei's argument sounds familiar to anyone interested in the politics of collective action, since it appears to draw on the logic used by state authorities to oppose most of the great popular mobilisations of modern times, from 1789 in France to 1979 in Iran itself. These mobilisations took shape through a struggle to assert the principle that sovereignty rests with the people themselves, rather than with the state or its representatives. 'No government can justly claim authority', as South Africa's ANC militants put it in their Freedom Charter of 1955, 'unless it is based on the will of all the people.' [...] Years of foreign-sponsored 'democracy promotion' in various parts of the world have helped to spread a well-founded scepticism about civic movements which claim some sort of direct democratic legitimacy. But the principle itself remains as clear as ever: only the people themselves can determine the value of such claims."

All of which demonstrates a lot more common sense than some of the I'm-so-noble-I-sprained-my-arm-patting-myself-on-the-back "contrarian" nonsense we've seen on this thread.

#216 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 02:02 AM:

Patrick, what contrarian nonsense would that be? I agreed with you at #98, on the 17th. The next day, at #107, I provided a link to Lenin's Tomb that essentially takes the position Chomsky has finally signed onto.

The progress from this being about the elections to being about the protests was fairly clear, I thought: Neocons immediately called for action because they've been itching to bomb Iran for years. See, from the 17th, Bomb Iran -- with love! A sentence from that which I think reflects the situation then: "U.S. intelligence agencies don't seem to have much information on the election, and there were no international monitors watching the vote who can substantiate the circumstantial evidence of fraud."

There's a natural desire to make this simple, but it's not. I think the positions of three Iranian women who did not vote make the complexities clear:

Iranian woman killed during protests loved music, not politics

She did not even vote for any of those candidates, because she did not accept any of them. She said, "For me, Ahmadinejad, Moussavi, all of them are more or less the same. What happened in eight years? What did [the president] do for the people?" It was the same for Moussavi. Even if he comes out [a winner], he is not is not going to do anything, because the government won't allow him to do anything, even if he wanted to do something.
No Matter Who Is President of Iran, They Would Stone Me | CommonDreams.org
Why didn’t I vote in the latest elections for the president of the country of my birth, Iran? Because no matter who is the president of Iran, they would stone me!
My Eye Shadow Is Also Green - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2009
Which one of these candidates is going to demolish these class distinctions? My goals are not the same is theirs, to vote for their favorite candidate, but I don't want to lose the opportunity to spend pleasant time with them. I am lost among them, but I will not vote for Musavi; in fact, I will vote for nobody because none of them understands me.
Yesterday, I looked to see if the author of "My Eye Shadow Is Also Green" has written since then. I didn't find anything.

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 10:50 AM:

Marg bar Khameinei. I'll leave it at that for now.

#218 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 10:51 AM:

Tch. Khamenei. Marg bar him, however you spell his name.

#219 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 04:03 PM:

Marg Helgenberger.

#220 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 04:43 PM:

I'd read one or two of Abbas Barzegar's reports from Iran in the Guardian earlier. I just caught up on the ones that I'd missed, and they're mighty good. Here's the latest: Media fantasies in Iran | Abbas Barzegar.

#221 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Yeah, Earl, her name means "Death" in Farsi.

#222 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 10:10 PM:

Don't mind me, I was just playing free association football again.

#223 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:31 AM:

shetterly doth protest too much, methinks.

#224 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:26 AM:

Hey! I've got a new joke!

Q: What's the difference between seventies radical faith in third-worldism and new millennial faith in whichever far-off and exotic peoples are revolting today?

A: About twenty-five years.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (literally) and classic radical pamphlets that now bring big bucks on eBay. You just don't see split-pan printing like that any more.

#225 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:38 AM:

But seriously, folks.

If you read that first link Will posted @ 216, it'll just break your fucking heart:

Neda was actually a student, and she was coming out from the university, because she had some problems with the university, and on that day, unfortunately, this tragedy happened. She was with her music teacher, and they were on their way to the protest in Azadi Square. They were in a traffic jam, so they said, "OK, the weather is too hot." They said, "Let's go out, see what's going on while we're stuck here." So they went out, and she was on the phone with someone, and suddenly she was shot by one of the paramilitary in civilian clothing...

She was after the real democracy in Iran, because she didn't believe in either of them, and the important thing also is that she never even voted vote for any of those candidates.

I've heard that story before:

Two of the four students killed, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller, had participated in the protest, and the other two, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder, had been walking from one class to the next at the time of their deaths.

My arm feels fine. Thank you for asking.

#226 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 01:21 PM:

heresiarch, you're probably right. I was taught two things in my teens: question authority, and follow the money. I have a kneejerk tendency to do both. And when neocons are the first to go in a political direction, I get especially suspicious. I do think people are failing to ask What if Twitter is leading us all astray in Iran?

Please note that just as you could support the troops and question the motives of the people who exploited their desire for justice, you can support the protesters and question the motives of the people who are exploiting their desire for freedom. From the letter Chomsky signed onto: "Years of foreign-sponsored 'democracy promotion' in various parts of the world have helped to spread a well-founded scepticism about civic movements which claim some sort of direct democratic legitimacy. But the principle itself remains as clear as ever: only the people themselves can determine the value of such claims."

So, yeah, I may just be spouting contrarian nonsense. For the sake of the protesters, I pray all my concerns are proven foolish.

#227 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 03:19 PM:

How do the protesters convert their numbers into power?

#228 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Randolph @ 227: The classical answer is, "By doing what they were doing, and getting beaten and shot until the police, militia, or armed forces can't take doing it any more and revolt themselves."

There must be a better answer. I mean that literally: There must be. I don't have it.

I also don't have the heart, the stomach, the standing, or the right to press them on.

If they do themselves, I'm with them all the way.

...for what negligible good it'll do them.

#229 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 05:54 PM:

Hmmmm...strikes me I need to read up on Gandhi. But the supply of charismatic leaders is thin.

#230 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Randolph #229: As I recall, Gandhi's efforts depended heavily on the basic sympathies and Western affiliations of the British, especially their desire to look like decent people to the other Western nations. Compare, e.g. to South Africa, before the international pressure started mounting.

#232 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 11:23 PM:

"...especially their desire to look like decent people to the other Western nations."

Hmmm. I suppose, then, a way the movement could succeed is if it appealed to Islamic idealism, and the ideals of the Revolution. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what it is doing. And, oddly, on sympathies for women. Oddly for cultures which are so hard on women, Islamic cultures often have huge public sentimental streaks about mothers and daughters. Hmmm.

Islamic feminism?

#233 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:07 AM:

You say that like it's an oxymoron, Randolph, but there are plenty of Moslem feminists.

#234 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:32 AM:

Xopher, I'm more surprised that it may actually be part of a solution to the problems of Iran.

(I have an entire page of Islamic feminist links, made up for a friend who didn't believe there was such a thing.)

#235 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 01:37 AM:

One of the major Iranian Twitter activists has apparently been arrested; that feed (believed to be maintained by a small group of activists) went dark a couple of days ago.

#236 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 03:26 AM:

Randolph @227, the first question is whether the protesters have the numbers. In the revolution of '79, the Shah had the Savak and qualified US support on his side, but the protesters had the numbers, so they won.

Al Giordano thinks we're moving into act two of five: Act II in Iran's Five-Act Play: The Self-Organization Stage.

The U.S. is giving $20 million to the opposition: U.S. grants support Iranian dissidents.

#237 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 04:39 AM:

Will Shetterly @226, I was taught two things in my teens: question authority, and follow the money. I have a kneejerk tendency to do both.

Of course we all have our kneejerk tendencies, but we should still at least try to think in addition to following them. And people who, as a kneejerk tendency, always disagree with "authority" (that is, with the people they think of when they think of the term "authority") are as much controlled by authority as people who unquestioningly follow authority, so it sounds pretty hollow when they describe themselves as "questioning authority".

#238 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 09:11 AM:

Will: The U.S. is giving $20 million to the opposition:

Crap. Way to sabotage them....

#239 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 11:06 AM:

David, that's a point made at antiwar.com: "There is considerable criticism for this program, not just from the perspective of getting the US involved in the internal affairs of Iran, but also for the taint it places on various opposition groups and NGOs, whether they received any of the grant money or not."

#240 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Raphael @ 237, in this morning's reading, I came across this quote: "To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the need for thought." Jules Henri Poincaré, La Science et l'Hypothèse. It's from a blog post I recommend, In Fraud, We Trust? It cites many articles I've read, including some I didn't read carefully enough. For example, I'd missed this point that anyone interested in the elections should know:

...the ballots weren't confusing. They had no list of names or added legislative initiatives. They had one single, solitary question on them: Who is your pick for president? There is one empty box to note a number corresponding to the candidate of your choice and another box in which you are to write the candidate's name. No hanging chads, no levers to pull, no political parties to consider. Just write the name of the guy you want to win. How is this confusing?
The suggestion that the ballots were counted too quickly to reflect a genuine result is in itself bizarre and unfounded. Al-Amin tells us, "There were a total of 45,713 ballot boxes that were set up in cities, towns and villages across Iran. With 39.2 million ballots cast, there were less than 860 ballots per box...Why would it take more than an hour or two to count 860 ballots per poll? After the count, the results were then reported electronically to the Ministry of the Interior in Tehran."

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