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Iran: What Could Be Going on Behind the Scenes?

My first inclination is to say that Obama’s reaction to the Iranian election and its aftermath is pathetic and shameful. Can anyone doubt that if this scene were, say, the South Africa of 1985, Obama and his administration would be extremely vocal in denouncing it?

On the other hand. . . Congress has supposedly made some serious appropriations over the last few years, mostly to the CIA, to assist an Iranian opposition. Is it possible that some of the dissident activity we are seeing is the fruit of this work? Although the Iranian government is shutting off cell phone service and internet sites (along with TV and radio, the first stop for tyrants in a pinch), apparently Twitter and other new means are allowing some organization of the opposition to continue. Could we and European allies have been helpful in arranging this? In which case, some discrete silence from Obama would be sensible?

I’m doubtful, but as a number of folks have drawn comparisons to Pres. George H.W. Bush’s muted reaction to the Berlin Wall coming down 20 years ago, and his subsequent "Chicken Kiev" speech, we learned only much later that there were good diplomatic and political reasons for these seemingly weak public positions that later played out to everyone’s advantage.

David Tucker, would you care to weigh in on the scene?

Discussions - 9 Comments

Can anyone doubt that if this scene were, say, the South Africa of 1985, Obama and his administration would be extremely vocal in denouncing it?

Well, in South Africa in 1985, on the one hand, the Reagan administration seemed to be bending over backwards to affirmatively defend the leadership of South Africa from congressional criticism, and, on the other hand, opposing apartheid internally and being a friend of the US would not have tarnished one's domestic image to any serious degree. So, the comparison seems doubly inapt.

Plus, one criticism leveled against Bush throughout the last eight years was fairly consistent - US support tainted opposition parties in places like Iran, so a simple-minded approach like the one Eric Cantor and others are now advocating can do more harm than good (read, unintended consequences).

Finally, are you really comparing Mousavi to Mandela, or the Iranian leadership to the apartheid regime?

Those Congressional appropriations haven't been spent by the Executive branch, or have been used in a counter-productive fashion to Congressional intent. Michael Ledeen has written at length on that subject. The Iranians have been on their own for over two decades. As for Obama's "response," even to use the word "response" in relation thereto is something of a stretch. And your first impression is the accurate one. It's shameful.

Either way, the Iranians are showing their true colors on the world stage. In the midst of this democratic election are some extremely illiberal measures that I hope can only mar the regime around the globe. And, some thought that the idea of an axis of evil was a Manichean way to view the world. North Korea and Iran must be viewed in this way, though the way we deal with them, as Hayward suggests, can be subtle and prudent in its approach.

I knew it would get interesting. John Harwoord of CNBC has decent coverage and if you can read french Le Monde is interesting.

Apparently Geithner has convinced the Russians and Chinnese that talking down the dollar is akin to standing high in a tree and sawing off the limb that supports you. The dollar trades higher for a couple days especially against the Euro(as even the french want to cheapen the Euro against the dollar, to stave off potential Boeing deals at the Paris air show.)

Stronger dollar means lower energy prices(very short term) and renewed talk of green shoots. The Charts looked horrible so the market is in correction also in the very short term, should see support at 8350, with Oil not trading bellow 68, before climbing towards an inflation hedge 80.

The country to watch is France and the company to watch is Boeing, and Natural Gas should also see a trade.

I don't think we arranged this, if anything it was a blog phenomenon among the muslims in France and Europe seeking a more moderate and democratic leader.

The funny thing is that the most liberal french muslims viewed Mousavi with the most scorn as simply providing a cover for a sham election.

On some level this is probably what Daniel Pipes was getting to when he endorsed Ahmedinejad...still I don't agree with Tony Williams concerning Iran as the axis of evil, the leadership of the country certainly, and certain ideological elements of islamofascism to be certain.

And Bernard Lewis makes good points, but you have to always return to the question of the consequences of ideas.

Certainly the easiest way to get a good Macro-idea of Iran and Islam is via a sort of clash of civilization/philosophical theocratic lens, but it is always too readily assumed that the people of Iran correspond or place a whole lot of weight upon the distinctions.

This is especially true in so far as the philosophical/theocratic question in the Sunni-Shia split deals with this very question of the moral scope and bindingness of fawta's/authority/submission.

John, like duh, I meant the leadership of the country/the regime. People wouldn't be demonstrating in the street if this weren't true. There is obviously a deep-seated love of freedom and desire to govern themselves that is sending them out to protest.

Steve -- As far as I can tell, the Obama administration has been consistent in not making a big deal about human rights. Clinton more or less ignored the issue with regard to China. This seems a sensible approach to me. As far as other matters are concerned, the Iranians seem to be going about this as they usually do.

Let's see first HUSSEIN Obama bows to that Arab king, then hassles our friends the Israelis about building settlements (anyone wonder why he seems to care more about some Jew building a house than he does about the Iranians having nukes?), then goes to Egypt and quotes the Koran, then he sits back and does nothing while democracy supporters get shot in Iran. To me that adds up to just one thing: S-E-C-R-E-T A-R-A-B!

Why the cavalier comparison between China, and a 3d rate thug state, id est Iran? Are some really suggesting that the range of options available with Iran are as limited as that with a country of a billion people? But I suppose any canard will do so long as it's thrown forward in defense of Obama's junior varsity foreign policy.

What is the difference between first and third rate thug states? I think some of the legitimate outrage is directed at the controlling oligarchy, not their pr frontman. The most important thing about this event, though, is that it should show people that the Iranians want the same things we want. They are not a country full of muslim terrorists, they just want some semblence of liberty and a better life for their kids. It is sad that with all our technology and progress we can't see beyond the wicked leadership of the modern nation states who continue to profit off getting us to fight eachother.

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