Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All eyes on Tehran: GOP tries for cheap political points

Takin' it to the streets
By now, of course, everyone with a television, radio or computer knows that something big is afoot in Iran. The images of streets filled with protesters defying the powers-that-be are awesome and inspiring. And, frankly, I'm a bit chagrined to think that those Iranians are showing more intestinal fortitude than did outraged but comfortable Americans who in 2000 placidly allowed our own election to be stolen. (We will be atoning for that sin for decades to come.) And, while we did come out in our millions to emphatically register our opposition to the invasion of Iraq, we passively melted away after Junior ignored us and pulled the trigger anyway. (We'll be paying for that for decades, as well.)

But what is happening in Iran, right now, is an amazing, and largely unexpected phenomenon. After Junior labeled the entire nation as a component of his juvenile "Axis of Evil" most Americans, in their intellectually-lazy way, assumed that Iran was full of Muslim terrorists strapping bombs to their bodies, beating their women, reviling all things Western. The brave demonstrators out in the streets of Tehran expose the lie of that particular piece of propaganda and add to Junior's sorry portrait as charlatan and demagogue.

It's never clear exactly what would best serve the interests of humanity at large in cases like this. But it does seem to me that if the demonstrators can bring about some real reforms to Iranian governance, that would probably be for the best. And, if that is the goal, President Obama seems to be playing it just about right.

For those that don't know, in 1953, the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mosaddeq, committed the fatal sin of standing up to western corporate power by attempting to nationalize the oil industry in his country. His argument was that the profits of the country's vast oil reserves should go to the Iranian people rather than the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation, which was a British corporation of old-school imperialism. His reward for such effrontery was to be removed from power in a coup d'etat engineered by the CIA acting under the authorization of President Eisenhower. Mosaddeq was replaced by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, a Western-friendly authoritarian, who ruled Iran brutally until his own overthrow in 1979. (Remember the Iranian hostage crisis?)

Therefore, given the sorry history of US meddling in Persian affairs, the most destructive and potentially fatal step the Obama administration could take would be to issue forceful, vaguely-threatening statements against the Iranian mullahs or Ahmadinejad's government. If there is the perception that the demonstrations are somehow linked to American cloak-and-dagger manipulation, public sympathy within Iran for the demonstrators could quickly turn to hostility, the Iranian Republican Guard could be called in post-haste, and blood could run in the streets on a scale heretofore unseen.

Of course, Republicans in their eagerness to get some kind of leverage on President Obama are loudly criticizing his response, calling it "timid." I especially got a kick out of Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) who cautioned that, if Ahmadinejad were to prevail: "If we have a regime that doesn‘t have legitimacy, then—then—regimes like that tend to be more aggressive, tend to focus more on external threats." (Ahem. Bush? 2000 election? Axis of Evil?)

No one doubts with whom American sympathies lie, do they? President Obama certainly expressed hope and friendship toward non-militant Muslims with his ground-breaking address in Cairo earlier this month. The Republicans are just trying, in their laughably ineffectual way, to score political points. Thankfully, nobody is listening to them. We all have more important matters to deal with than the rantings of an extremist, minority party.


Dan Binmore said...

The 2000 election wasn't stolen. Bush got more votes in Florida (even when counted by independent newspapers after the election) and the process followed the rule of law and was settled by the Supreme Court. I think when liberals ignore this because they didn't like the outcome it reduces the credibility of liberals.

Obama is playing this exactly right, we've seen what "strong words" and "direct action" do in the Middle East.

Spring Thunder's Blog said...

(The 2000 election wasn't stolen and glaciers aren't melting from the effects of human-caused climate change.)

Thanks, Dade, I found the history lesson helpful. An elderly Iranian gentleman I know does indeed pinpoint Eisenhower's actions as a significant point. I expressed the same to him, that the Iranian people are braver than we in the US who just let the 2000 election be stolen without more than a whimper.


Anonymous said...

The same tired CRAP about the "stolen election".

You are right however, about the recount. One need only look at MN and the fiasco there with Al Franken and Norm Coleman. All of a sudden Al goes from 600 down to 1200 ahead. A miracle!

Of course, as you have stated so eloquently in another peice, you have no difficulty STEALING when sticking it to the "man". We all know that you consider Bush, and all Republicans for that matter, as the man. Neither do your shameless "progressive" brethren.

Anonymous said...

Dan is not quite correct in saying the election was not stolen. According to the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12623-2001Nov11.html) the limited recounts favored Bush, but a statewide recount would probably have favored Gore.