Saturday, June 13, 2009

What This Means

There are a plethora of reports alleging election fraud in Iran. The best I have read thus far comes from Juan Cole, whom I do not normally agree with. Al Jazeera is being really weird and anti-liberal in its coverage, generally maintaining a neutral to skeptical tone regarding the fraud.

The election indicates is that there is distance between the policies of the government and Ayatollah and the wishes of the people, but the fact that the results will likely stand demonstrates that the people are still unable to affect that policies of the Iranian government. Despite the media frenzy over the protests, comparisons to Tiananmen and all, the scale appears to be on the order of thousands, a relatively small showing for protests in the Middle East. The result is not a tragedy because the delegate to the office of the presidency will or will not change, but because of what it indicates about the willingness of Iran's oligarchy to change its policy, even on something as small as a figure head (let alone it's nuclear program). Given that policy change, let alone regime change, appears unlikely Israel will likely bomb Iran*. This is a disaster...

Update (6/15): OK, NYT is reporting protests of ~half a million. That's a real, ol' timey, Mid-East protest. None of this "thousands in the street" crap. I have no idea what's going to happen from here, but at least it shows some spunk.

*Again, this is a descriptive not a prescriptive claim.


Yehuda said...

I have yet to figure out what "election fraud" means in a case like this. The Ayatollahs in Iran chose 4 candidates for president from 475 as suitable to run. That alone should indicate that there was no "democratic" element in these elections. I personally do not believe that Ahmadinejad really lost the elections after that. I suspect he really is quite popular. Nevertheless, I would not say he was democratically elected or that there is anything democratic about Iran, as Roger Cohen likes to argue.

I would not, however, be so quick to say that Ahmadinejad is a "figurehead," though it is true that it is very difficult to say how much power he actually holds.

I would also add that what worries me most is not whether Israel will bomb Iran, but whether Iran will bomb Israel.

Yosef said...

"The result is not a tragedy because ... , but because ..."

It took me a moment to realize you meant "The result is a tragedy not because ... , but because ..."