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Archive for the ‘Mousavi’ Category

When I heard the events in Iran were the “Green Revolution,” I was very skeptical. Green is the color of political Islam. It’s the dominant color on the flag of Saudi Arabia and the headbands of Hezzbollah. It’s bad enough these color revolutions are supposed to capture our imagination without occasioning much in the way of inquiry. But a green one in Iran?!?

I’m glad I’m not alone. Abbas Barzegar notes that Ajad probably won the election, and mass demonstrations have been had by both sides. In other words, don’t believe the hype.

Diana West shares my view that Mousavi’s tenure as Iran’ prime minister in the 1980s were not exactly the country’s salad days, particularly from the perspective of the US. I know, I know. It’s democracy! It’s people power! What’s 241 Marines killed in Lebanon when we’re talking about people with faux hawks using Twitter!!! West reports to great effect that in the recent presidential debate in Iran–a first–the supposedly great guy Mousavi faulted Ajad for not executing the British sailors that supposedly drifted into Iranian waters. Be careful what you wish for.

Richard Spencer over at Takimag.com notes that the neoconservatives’ romantic passion for democratic revolution is totally immune to facts and recent events in Iraq among others. It’s a very adolescent and distinctly unconservative impulse that gets carried away by street demonstrations and does not consider what in fact is being sought. Burke’s central and important insight was that change can make things even worse in what is presently a bad regime. Consider the demonic French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the pointless street violence in France every generation or so. This situation is particularly galling because no matter who wins, this is a stolen election because the Islamic authorities must preapprove parties and candidates to even run in Iran.

The whole event, particularly the credulous western response, is surreal. It’s a sign of the way Bush has corrupted conservatism that so many self-described conservatives now think that democracy in the Third World is the be all end all without regard to the content of the leadership or the nature of their claims to legitimacy. It’s as if we’re getting excited by some election in the Soviet Union as a watersheld, where minor issues of emphasis and personality were the only real objects of debate, and such elections (even if hotly disputed) were effectively meaningless.

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There is a ritual every few years–it was Ukraine first, then Lebanon, then Georgia–where the stirrings of a mass movement in some Third World dump reminds the neocon right of the moral clarity of the Cold War, where nationalists and popular movements such as Poland’s Solidarity were brutally supressed by communist regimes and their security apparatus. In those times, the moral example of the defiant people remained an inspiration to us all and a reminder of the indefatigable human spirit. Today we’re supposed to be seeing that in Iran.

I can’t get too pumped about what’s going on in Iran. Perhaps on balance Mousavi would be better for the United States and the Iranian people. It’s hard to say. But lots of angry people in the streets does not mean he’s a great guy with a great plan to support a more liberal and decent regime in Iran. Muqtadr al Sadr used to get the crowds out too. Indeed, so did Khomenei. It’s just as likely, considering the people and history involved, Mousavi would spend much of his energy oppressing his erstwhile oppressors if elected. This is the way politics runs in the Third World.

We are talking about an Islamic poltical party in an Islamic state. Almost no one talks about how Mousavi ran the show in Iran in the 1980s as Prime Minister when Iran was America’s mortal enemy, and his track record then–when Iran was supporting kidnappings of Americans in Lebanon and attacks on US ships in the Gulf–is chiefly why the Iranians like him. Why should we think his vague anti-corruption platform means we’ll have a friendly regime there? Why do neocons lose their judgment every time some “color revolution” comes down the pike?

I view events in Iran no so differently from the elections in Iraq. Even though the elections were fairly run in Iraq (which may not have happened in Iran, but I can’t be sure unlike so many breathless commentators), nearly everyone voted for sectarian parties in Iraq and also in Iran. It’s Saddam vs. Sadr vs. Badr kind of stuff. There’s no reason to get too pumped about who wins in these kinds of elections, because the problem in Iran and Iraq too is not the elections or the lack of them. The problem is the underlying anti-modern, anti-liberal, pro-sharia viewpoint of the electorate that is rooted in the dominant understanding of Islam itself. I don’t see anything Mousavi or any other Iranian politician has said that will reverse that fundamental aspect of Iranian society.

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