June 14, 2009

Insurrection: Day 2

Insurrection in Tehran Day 2.jpg

The great Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski witnessed and wrote about dozens of revolutions in the course of his life. He has, perhaps, seen more revolutions than anyone in the history of the world. He knew, while he lived, revolutions better than anyone.

In his book Shah of Shahs, about the Iranian revolution in 1979, he describes the beginning of the end for the Shah Reza Pahlavi.

Now the most important moment, the moment that will determine the fate of the country, the Shah, and the revolution, is the moment when one policeman walks from his post toward one man on the edge of the crowd, raises his voice, and orders the man to go home. The policeman and the man on the edge of the crowd are ordinary, anonymous people, but their meeting has historic significance.

They are both adults, they have both lived through certain events, they have both their individual experiences.

The policeman’s experience: If I shout at someone and raise my truncheon, he will first go numb with terror and then take to his heels. The experience of the man at the edge of the crowd: At the sight of an approaching policeman I am seized by fear and start running. On the basis of these experiences we can elaborate a scenario: The policeman shouts, the man runs, others take flight, the square empties.

But this time everything turns out differently. The policeman shouts, but the man doesn’t run. He just stands there, looking at the policeman. It’s a cautious look, still tinged with fear, but at the same time tough and insolent. So that’s the way it is! The man on the edge of the crowd is looking insolently at uniformed authority. He doesn’t budge. He glances around and sees and sees the same look on other faces. Like his, their faces are watchful, still a bit fearful, but already firm and unrelenting. Nobody runs though the policeman has gone on shouting; at last he stops. There is a moment of silence.

We don’t know whether the policeman and the man on the edge of the crowd already realize what has happened. The man has stopped being afraid – and this is precisely the beginning of the revolution. Here it starts. Until now, whenever these two men approached each other, a third figure instantly intervened between them. That third figure was fear. Fear was the policeman’s ally and the man in the crowd’s foe. Fear interposed its rules and decided everything.

Now the two men find themselves alone, facing each other, and fear has disappeared into thin air. Until now their relationship was charged with emotion, a mixture of aggression, scorn, rage, terror. But now that fear has retreated, this perverse, hateful union has suddnely broken up; something has been extinguished. The two men have now grown mutually indifferent, useless to each other; they can now go their own ways.

Accordingly, the policeman turns around and begins to walk heavily back toward his post, while the man on the edge of the crowd stands there looking at his vanishing enemy.

-

Now take a look at this video uploaded from the city of Isfahan. A ferocious-looking unit of armed riot police officers is shown running away in terror from civilian demonstrators.

-

Reza Shoja reports for The Media Line.

Car horn protests could be heard throughout the city, as could chants of "Bye bye dictator", "Ahmadi Nejad is the biggest liar in Iran," and "The president is committing a crime and the supreme leader is supporting him".

-

Listen to the chants on Tehran's rooftops in the middle of the night.

-

Roger Cohen in the New York Times:

I’ve argued for engagement with Iran and I still believe in it, although, in the name of the millions defrauded, President Obama’s outreach must now await a decent interval. I’ve also argued that, although repressive, the Islamic Republic offers significant margins of freedom by regional standards. I erred in underestimating the brutality and cynicism of a regime that understands the uses of ruthlessness.
-

Defrauded opposition candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi belongs to the establishment. The regime is coming apart and turning on itself. Even clerics are turning against the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei.

Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad's presidency illegitimate and cooperating with his government against Islam. There are strong rumors that his house and office are surrounded by the police and his website is filtered. He had previously issued a fatwa, against rigging of the elections in any form or shape, calling it a mortal sin.

-

Kevin Sullivan at RealClearWorld:

What's emerging here could be interesting. Iran hawks prefer to label the Iranian police state as simply "The Mullahs," but the legitimate clerics in this dispute are the ones standing with Mir-Hossein Mousavi against ONE Mullah and his secular police apparatus. If the election has been rigged in such a fashion, then what you are in fact seeing is the dropping of religious pretense in the "Islamic" Republic of Iran. This is a secular police state in action.

Iranian poet Sheema Kalbasi agrees with Sullivan's analysis:

Today is the day that the Islamic Republic officially transformed from a theocracy supported by Pasdaran to a Junta supported by a handful of clerics.

-

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is sounding like Baghdad Bob again today.

The situation in the country is in a very good condition. Iran is the most stable country in the world, and there’s the rule of law in this country, and all the people are equal before the law.

-

According to a Twitter post from inside Iran, the army announced it will not use force against Iranians, only foreigners. The army is made up of conscripts. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij Militia, though, are separate armed forces loyal to the regime.

I don’t like relying on Twitter feeds. Rumors are bound to get posted this way. But things are moving so fast. You can follow Twitter feeds yourself here here and here. (Thanks to David Hazony at Commentary for the pointer.)

David also points to a YouTube channel where dozens of videos have been uploaded.

-

A reader comments at niacINsight:

“I am in Tehran. Its 3:40 in the morning. I’ve connected with you [by hacking past the government filter]. It’s a big mess here. People are yelling from their houses – ‘death to the dictator.’ They are setting up a military government. No one dares to go out. No one has seen Mousavi today. Rumor has it that they have arrested him. I don’t have an email but I will contact you again. Help us.”

-

This isn’t encouraging:

According to our private phone conversations with people in Tehran, hundreds of parents have gathered by a police station in Yousef Abad, now known as Seyyed Jamal Aldin Asad Abadi, with their hands raised to the sky saying “Obama, please help us, they are killing our young children.”

-

The United States will not help. Senator Joe Lieberman, though, at least thinks we should say something.

[T]hrough intimidation, violence, manipulation, and outright fraud, the Iranian regime has once again made a mockery of democracy, and confirmed its repressive and dictatorial character.

We as Americans have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with people when they are denied their rights by repressive regimes. When elections are stolen, our government should protest. When peaceful demonstrators are beaten and silenced, we have a duty to raise our voices on their behalf. We must tell the Iranian people that we are on their side.

For this reason, I would hope that President Obama and members of both parties in Congress will speak out, loudly and clearly, about what is happening in Iran right now, and unambiguously express their solidarity with the brave Iranians who went to the polls in the hope of change and who are now looking to the outside world for strength and support.

-

Policemen aren’t massacring civilians in the streets. At least not yet. The police are restrained. Who can say if their hearts even warm to policing right now? Take a look at the video below. Riot police officers ride into a crowd on motorcycles. The demonstrators set one of the bikes on fire, then help a wounded policeman to safety.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some defections in the ranks of the police. But what about Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guard, and the Basij Militia? It will take something extraordinary to get them to back down.

-

Ardeshir Arian:

There are widespread reports of police and security forces, around Tehran and other big cities where there have been demonstrations, who are not Iranian and either speak Persian with a very pronounced Arab accent or speak no Persian at all.

I've read reports for a couple of years now that the regime hires Arabs as mercenaries from outside the country because it can't even pay enough Iranians willing to suppress their countrymen.

Arian adds:

Reports are circulating that Venezuela has sent anti-riot troops to Tehran to help Ahmadinejad, joining Hezbollah members from Palestine and Lebanon who are employed by the Islamic government as anti-riot police — the reason such forces are being brought in is that some of the Iranian police are unwilling to hit people as ordered and some are even joining the protesters.

Maybe. It's hard to separate fact from rumor right now.

-

The regime may well yet survive, at least for a while. I wouldn’t bet against it just yet.

Barry Rubin nails the bottom line if it does:

The only logical explanation for why the regime did this is that Ahmadinejad's opponents got so many votes that it frightened the regime. It also shows that the regime is wedded to Ahmadinejad and his approach.

Is a regime that just committed itself irrevocably to the most extreme faction, most radical ideology, and most repressive control over the country going to compromise with the West on nuclear weapons or anything else?

Of course not, like Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s, Syria's rulers in the 1970s, and Iraq's Saddam Hussein in the 1980s (and many examples elsewhere in the world) it is going to use foreign adventurism and mobilizing hatred against the West and Israel to consolidate its hold on the country.

-

And finally, see my own piece just published in Commentary Magazine about the Islamic Republic regime in Iran: An Enemy of the World.

Over the next couple of days I'll be posting regular updates and analysis at the Commentary Magazine blog.

-

Stay tuned for another long dispatch from Iraq after the weekend. And if anyone feels like hitting my tip jar today, I promise not to get mad.


Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2009 12:58 PM
Comments

The Army might be the only power that could shift the balance, but I expect it would be split at best and the IRG may be stronger. However, the fact that the Army declared neutrality amazes me and gives me some hope. But whatever happens, the legitimacy of the regime is now in question and if its religious authority leaks away there is little to justify its austerities.

There has been a competition for authority in the Shia world between the Iraqi centers and Qom in Iran. My impression is that the Iraqi centers have gained a good deal of legitimacy. I wonder if any of the Iraqi ayatollahs will say anything? Sistani is generally non-political, but he is also Iranian.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 1:50 PM

Will Obama be on Ahmadinejad's side or with Iranian people?? Obama's favorite dictator in trouble. Here is a great analysis by a well-known Iranian poet, sheema kalabsi:

It was supposed to be the perfect script. Mousavi’s victory was supposed to be hailed as the indication of Iranian rulers having “unclenched their fist”. It was supposed to be the perfect time for reconciliation with Mullahs. It was supposed to be the clearest sign yet of the success of Obama administration’s soft spoken approach towards the Muslim world. It was supposed to be the time for celebration of the Obama effect.

Ahmadinejad’s coup d'état changed the game altogether. It sent all the deal-makers and rapprochement enthusiasts of Washington think-tanks back to the drawing board.

The most important foreign policy implication is that the coup d'état government is dead serious about going nuclear. Any “grand-bargain” between Washington and Tehran under Mousavi would have led to concessions on Iran’s nuclear program. This would have been unacceptable for the Pasdaran commanders who will not be content with any less position than the one enjoyed by their Pakistani counterparts.

As the western governments and in particular US will be wrestling with the question of legitimacy versus negotiations, the coup d'état government will use the time to make as much progress as possible in its nuclear program. Unlike what many might think, the coup d'état government will in fact embrace doubts on its legitimacy to further complicate the issue and seize on it as an opportunity to blame the West for interference in Iranian domestic affairs. As the game continues, Israel will see no choice but to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. What will happen next is anyone’s guess.

This is all obviously conditioned on the success of the coup d'état which by no means is a given at this time. The arrests made by the coup d'état government yesterday has no significance other than a show of force. Rafsanjani is the only person who, as the head of the assembly of experts, has the authority to remove Khamenei from power. He has the will but the question is whether he has enough number of votes (i.e. enough support among clerics). Many believe that he is in Qom to make such assessment. Additionally, such high risk move has a chance of success only against the backdrop of mass dissatisfaction with the election results and at least some support from the armed and security forces.

A velvet change is underway. Whether it turns out to be a velvet revolution or velvet coup d'état remains to be seen.

http://www.zaneirani.blogspot.com/

Posted by: sebouh Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 2:24 PM

This isn't a bad site

http://enduringamerica.com/2009/06/14/latest-updates-from-iran-protests-and-rumours-14-june/

here is what caught my eye

"2100 GMT: Claims are coming in that tanks are on the streets of Tehran."

Posted by: fentonchem Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 2:52 PM

Looks like Roger Cohen is finally coming round to acknowledging what many of us already knew.

Posted by: Harold Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 3:07 PM

With what's at stake for the regime's proxy alone I expect this to get ugly.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 3:12 PM

just in from Iran:

business may go on strike tomorrow

Mousavi and his wife will march tomorrow, even if they get the permit required.

chants are motly "death to dictators"...no religious chants at all...no allah Akbar or that sort

ex.president Khatami is supporting Mousavi

It's earyl morning in Tehran but North of Tehran is still in riots, people are getting arrested.

people are asking for support, WHERE IS OBAMA AND HIS HOPE AND CHANGE FOR IRAN???

Posted by: sebouh Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 3:30 PM

There is no way the USA can do anything visible at this point. Outside intervention, especially by us, could tip the military against the civilians. The best hope is if the Iranian army comes out against the election; that's about the only thing that might give the IRG pause. I'm sure we are doing whatever we can under cover.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 3:35 PM

I'm sure we are doing whatever we can under cover.

I'm not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 3:39 PM

this explains everything, an interview with Mousavi poeple..please read:

http://www.roozonline.com/english/news/newsitem/article/2009/june/14//thehran-a-political-coup.html

Posted by: sebouh Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 3:40 PM

I expect inaction to be labeled prudent restraint by Washington and the mainstream media---until it turns, and someone can take credit for it---like maybe an administration that thought this "election" was "exciting."

From what I read about Mousavi's history he's no dream date either, so I hope the young people in Tehran and elsewhere aren't left disappointed---or worse.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 4:13 PM

I'm sure we are doing whatever we can under cover.

What can we do under cover? H.W. Bush encouraged Yeltsin during the fall of the USSR, Obama could do the same here, or at least say something about the virtues of liberty and democracy. I doubt he will, however. We will see.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 4:28 PM

Actually, GHW Bush supported Gorbachev far too long and supported Milosevic when they should have condemned him. In fact Clinton used this as a campaign issue in 1988. The fact that the mullahs are using Arabs and Venezuelans to suppress Iranians will remove a lot of legitimacy from the regime. This is not over.

Posted by: Mike K Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 5:12 PM

For contrast, here is the German response

“All in all, these are circumstances which have today given me cause to issue the order for the Iranian ambassador to be summoned to the Foreign Ministry,” Steinmeier told Germany’s ARD television. “I have today, with some European colleagues, already told Iran to immediately make clear whether the election results announced can be taken seriously or not,” he said.
...

Rest here.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 5:14 PM

GHW Bush supported Gorbachev far too long and supported Milosevic when they should have condemned him.

Can't agree on Gorbachev, he was the legitimate leader and a reformer as such things go in Commumist countries. But Bush supported Yeltsin during the coup attempt, going so far as to telephone him and offer encouragement.

Agree with you about Milosevic. One of my first disappointments with Clinton was that he continued to do nothing for years and years after all that talk.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 5:25 PM

Watch the aftermath of this Iran situation closely.

2010 is not that far away. Watch Iran today, because 2010 will be our last chance to recover our freedom via elections. Rest assured, we will have to expose our own election fraud and overcome the certain coup attempt.

The One will be as popular as an STD at a Baptist picnic by 2010. But he'll just be getting warmed up as far as his agenda goes.

A creature elected to defend the Constitution who instead destroys contract law, commits the grandchildren of people not yet born to crushing debt, and only speaks from scripts that ooze contempt for America... is the enemy.

And he will not go gently into that good night. The party of fools who support trail in his wake are historically indistinguishable from the Germans who allowed Hitler to attain the office of Chancellor...

... because they presumed he would be controlled by them.

2010. Enjoy the election. It could be our last.

Iranians appealing for support from America under Obama. They'd actually be better off ringing up the U.N..

Sad, ain't it?

Posted by: TmjUtah Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:04 PM

TmjUtah: 2010 will be our last chance to recover our freedom via elections. Rest assured, we will have to expose our own election fraud and overcome the certain coup attempt.

Don't be ridiculous. You're sounding like the Bush=Hitler people. They were wrong, and so are you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:09 PM

This is all very interesting. I am glad you quoted Kapsucinski. Shah of Shahs is my favourite book. But by the time the Shah went he had alienated almost everyone, Ahmedinajad is nowhere near that stage... at leats not yet.One problem that no-one here is addressing is the fact that Ahmedinajad is actually very, very popular with his base.

And you are talking about many, many millions of people.

It is quite possible that he could have won this election legitimately. For whatever reason he and his clique decided to put this coup type plan into action. His supporters don't think he stole the election at all. And they are not all Sepah and Baseejis and goon squad fanatics. They are mainly poor people who see him as "one of us." What about them? Do not their votes count? The country is badly divided and Nejad is a polarising figure for sure...

But to pretend that the election was wholly stolen from the people you see wearing Green and protesting in North Tehran is to oversimplify the political situation in Iran to the point of stupidity. North Tehran is not Iran, even Tehran is not Iran. Iran has lots of small towns and backwater nowheresvilles, places jounrnalists can't be bothered to get to... and Nejad is still very popular with these people -- and there are many more of them than there are trendy "freedom loving" student types in Shemiran, Shark-e-Gharb and Vanak Square.

It's easy to look at the situation and think to yourself: that stupid, ignorant little man has wrecked the economy, polarised his country and run a disastrous foreign policy on behalf of a militant right wing clique that has left a once great nation more unpopular than ever... there is NO WAY anyone with a brain would give him a second term.

But you know, that's what many of us outside the USA thought about GW Bush... prior to his second term.

Mind you, after 8 years of Bush, the neo-con Project for a New American Century lies in ruins and a liberal black man with a Muslim name lives in the Whitehouse. That would never have happened after one term.

So who knows what might happen to Iran after 4 more years of this creature? Sometimes you gotta hit rock bottom.

Posted by: Microraptor Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:23 PM

Howdy, Mike - you are doing great work, but sometimes being in the woods screws up your view of the trees.

Who owns our last manufacturing giants?

Who owns our banks?

Who decides if a contract is worth the paper it is printed on?

Who controls the census of 2010, and will as surely control the distribution of government influence and control via house seat allocation?

Who hates this country, this system, and most importantly this system of individual responsibiilty worse than any Bu$Hitler loon ever thought he could hate Bush...?

I spent eight years doing various unpleasant things around the world because of the threat of communism. I spent the off hours of that time reading up on things, mostly history, to understand why that had to be so.

Damn. Empires' ends come closer together as the future approaches.

It is less than enjoyable to witness the arrival of a communist in charge of my government so soon after I watched my life savings drift away on the smoke of thirty years of government mandated suicide lending. Berlin surprised me, but I was in good company then.

The coming fall will surprise no one.

I just hope my flying car gets here in time to enjoy a spin or two around the block.

Posted by: TmjUtah Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:34 PM

Wow. Even Roger Cohen is doing a mea culpa.

Michael, TmjUtah isn't delusional, although (sorry TmjUtah) the rhetoric is way overblown and undermines your credibility. The more you know about ACORN and its mutual relationship with the Democratic party, and in light of the Chicago-style politics of this presidency, the more concern is realistic. It is nothing but sensible for any candidate in upcoming US elections to watch the electoral process very carefully and have plenty of resources to challenge irregularities, to NOT take for granted that the process will be honest. Unfortunately.

And I know President McCain would have issued a statement by now.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:36 PM

http://sites.google.com/site/mousavi1388/

here is Mousavi's new site (so he would not get filtered)..they are calling for demosntration 4PM monday.

Posted by: sebouh Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:40 PM

But you know, that's what many of us outside the USA thought about GW Bush...

Speaking of backwaters and yahoos, what was wrong with Bush? I think he was altogether superior to Obama.

But yes, I made that point about Ahmadinejad myself in the comments to Michael's previous post. It is possible that the massive turnout also comprised a lot of Ahmadinejad supporters. The experts aren't being helpful here in explaining the nature of Iran.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:41 PM

The Germans won't like it if the mullahs fall from power. Germany is Iran's biggest foreign trading partner. It has been since the American embargo, with the result that Iran gets most of the goods it would have gotten from the U.S. from Germany instead. When the mullahs fall, that ends, and fast: the Iranian people have a built-up psychological craving for anything American, something the Germans understand better than most - remember, after The Wall fell, East Germans' craving for Western goods, even if it was simple things like butter and eggs?

I doubt Germany will openly work at cross-purposes with the U.N., but I wouldn't put it past them to do it on the sly, and certainly they may, passively, let many things slide. As others have said, for evil to succeed, it is only necessary that "good" men do nothing.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 6:55 PM

I'm sorry.

I am quite confident that by the end of next week( at the latest) the students will be back hiding at the Universities, and that the streets will belong completely, to the goon-squads of the Regime. This is a tempest in a teapot; it is NOT a revolutionary moment. Not while Oil is still $70.00/barrel. If Oil were $17.00 a barrel--- now then something might happen.

Whether it be rule by Mullahs or just by Mullah, it's really all the same thing. It's a Gertrude Stein moment, in that this "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose". There really are no 'moderate' mullahs in Iran, and there is no way that any of them will want to see the Islamic State cease to be. And the Islamic State is a dysfunctional, incompetent, but RUTHLESS structure. As long as it exists, no real change is possible.

Nor more importantly will the Revolutionary Organizations that support it, give up the ghost, just to be 'nice'. If only because, the futures of their thuggish members would tend to be somewhat 'problematic' whne the relatives of their victims decide to pay a call looking for a little of the old REVENGE.

Hope to be proven wrong but not very likely, IMAO.

Posted by: dougf Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 7:29 PM

Delusional? Moi?

This was what made it all clear.

Good thing I work fifty/seventy hours a week. Or else I'd pay attention.

Then I would really be unhappy.

Oh, and Yehudit, pajalsta to you for being so gracious. I go back and read some of what I write and will admit that I am sometimes taken some aback...

... but the truth remains: we made Lincoln a vindicated prophet. The dice are thrown and now we must play out the turn.

Hope! CHANGE.

Here's a thought nugget.

A classic move to dictatorship would use the military to crush dissent. In my humble opinion, since the U.S. military already wouldn't follow The One into a whore house on a pay day Friday night, he is instead committed to morphing the government into the Fifty Foot Babysitter concurrent with doing the most damage possible to the institutions of free market capitalism, private property, and electoral representation... and then HOPE that the subsequent collapse and chaos allows for the rise of a true Marxist regime.

Obie is an action guy. Thinking is not his game, which is starkly clear to anyone who has ever devoted a second's thought to which side of the political spectrum in this country would come out on top of a gun fight.

I'll shut up now. Apologies for going so far off the topic of a troubled nation struggling to realize a benefit from the results of a critical election.

Posted by: TmjUtah Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 7:31 PM

Hitchins takes no prisoners. Pathetic Secretary of State? Wow.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 7:33 PM

Actually, Gorbachev and Yeltsin were on the same side. Bush, while supporting one, would be supporting the other.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:19 PM

...which is starkly clear to anyone who has ever devoted a second's thought to which side of the political spectrum in this country would come out on top of a gun fight.

Gun fights are usually won by people with steady hands and a logical mindset.

In a gunfight, hyperventilating zealots from all extreme sides of the political spectrum would lose. The moderates - the calm, quiet majority - would win.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:20 PM

Oh come, Mary. By that reasoning the Russian Civil War should have been a draw. And I am not convinced the American Civil war was fought by the calm, quiet majority, nor won by them either.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:32 PM

It is quite possible that he could have won this election legitimately. For whatever reason he and his clique decided to put this coup type plan into action. His supporters don't think he stole the election at all. And they are not all Sepah and Baseejis and goon squad fanatics. They are mainly poor people who see him as "one of us." What about them? Do not their votes count? The country is badly divided and Nejad is a polarising figure for sure...

[...]

It's easy to look at the situation and think to yourself: that stupid, ignorant little man has wrecked the economy, polarised his country and run a disastrous foreign policy on behalf of a militant right wing clique that has left a once great nation more unpopular than ever... there is NO WAY anyone with a brain would give him a second term.

But you know, that's what many of us outside the USA thought about GW Bush... prior to his second term.

Well, I think this is basically a coup by the Ahmadinejad clique, but you raise a valuable point that people tend to forget. It's easy to say the Iranian government is against "the people" and that it is illegitimate (this is true on the merits). But Ahmadinejad does have some support, perhaps quite a bit of it. He did at one point, anyways -- of working class, religious and xenophobic types.

The comparison to the Bush administration is facile. There's no merit to it whatsoever.

Posted by: Robert Kelly Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:47 PM

Related, ultimately: 'been reading reaction to the Netanyahu speech? What I skimmed seemed like same old.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:48 PM

Mentioned elsewhere that the IRG has yet to even show in the streets, and this is thus far limited to Tehran and just a few other cities (on a smaller scale), so to imagine this is anything approaching a groundswell revolution or signals possible regime change or even meaningful reform is way over-the-top at this point. Likewise, expecting other nations to publically support regime change is premature.

Yes, this exposes the regime for what it is, but how the hell is that a surprise to anyone with half a gram of gray matter?

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:50 PM

Mary -

Hmmm. I'm a zealot? A hyperventilating zealot?

LOL and all that interwebby stuff.

I haven't nationalized anything. Nor have I proposed bulldozing cities.

What a great idea, actually; pay union members to operate the equipment and give the land to cronies. Good Times will be had by all in the new projects!

Yes, youngin's, that's a pun. You can research it.

X trillion dollars of new debt, thrown into a system shared by a Democratic dictatorship and the UAW/Teamsters? Enough new taxes proposed to make even Krugman queasy? Environmental regulations designed to destroy what's left of manufacturing? Obama makes no sense - NONE - unless you look for a revolutionary bent on destroying the establishment.

Since to state such an idea publicly gets you labeled... well, a hyperventilating zealot - you don't see the opinion floated much.

But that doesn't make the opinion any less valid, given the objective realities of the day.

Barry's never faced consequences for his actions. He is a uniquely malqualified, even iconic, character upon which has fallen the opportunity to fulfill the wettest dreams of the loon Left, and make no mistake at all, he is running hard for the tape.

Cue "Chariots of Fire" soundtrack, background montage of soup lines, abandoned neighborhoods in Michigan, and Old Media pundits looking at each other in shamed silence....

Hope. CHANGE!

Posted by: TmjUtah Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 8:58 PM

The urban Iranians remain isolated, with no political platform or means to unite under a banner that is worth fighting for to this point. The emotional outcry will be met with exceedingly higher levels of violence (and all the more effective) followed by the people cowering in the shadows.

Obama and his voiced opposition to "imposing" our values of of the rights that are God given has instead chosen support to the status quo. How can he claim his glory for setting himself up as the leader of the globe if the Iranian people put their blood on the line and make him irrelevant.

Agree with Michael Totten in our beyond ineffectual actions in Iran now. We are merely another nation like Madagascar. Our rights may come from God as stated by our Founding Fathers and George Bush was intent on dismissing the concept that the people of the Middle East were excluded from these rights, but Obama has already committed to exactly that.

And the Iranian people will discover that as the rest of the world cynically yawns at the Iranians who lay their lives down.

Posted by: Sheva Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 9:05 PM

I'd agree with AZZenny that until the IRG, etc. are on camera this isn't being considered close to getting out of hand. Tanks on the corners? Someone's at least shifting in their chair.

Free association: watching "Triumph Of The Will" again (can't recommend too highly), Prof. Anthony Santoro talked about the SS, dressed in black, "both to intimidate and to impress", as well as how tall these dudes were ("not necessarily chosen for their intelligence".) Does the IRG have a height requirement, I wonder?

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 9:20 PM

Sheva,

I grew increasingly sad looking at the photos of young men and women with hope in their eyes.

Unless the regular army and police join them, too many in Iran and elsewhere have too much to lose to let this succeed.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 14, 2009 9:55 PM

Michael - I remember reports from 2007, I believe it was, that the regime was hiring Uzbeks and others from central Asia to do some of their enforcing work against a student uprising. I would not doubt that Venezuela would contribute same, and Hezbollah have some elements flown in with that contingent from S. America, plus pull back some of the terrorists they sent into Iraq and elsewhere.

Still, it bears reminding that the reason that so many young people are on the streets is that 70% of the Iranian population is under 30. There is a demographic gulf between the population of Iran and the leadership there, and that must always be remembered.

Further Iran has ethnic problems particularly with the Azeris, Kurds and Baluchs... the last of which has a successful and capable terrorist organization inside Iran that has effectively struck in the past. If any one of those decides now is the time to leave... would the Army really leave if the cities in the heartland were burning? They do not have the manpower to turn on the people and would face the 1917 problem of the recalling of Russian troops from the front who then JOINED the Revolution because it, too, was conscript, underfunded and drawn from the general population it was more aligned with that population than the ruling regime. Plus the culture clash when the independent Army was put under the IRGC has got to chafe a lot as the IRGC are not professionals or conscripts.

Something like what we see can start in support of an opposition leader that isn't such a good thing in, and of, himself, but the internal flow of any insurrection can never be known... especially if the word 'revolution' gets out. That means the long knives being drawn against ALL of the establishment. One attack that the regime thinks will be just bloody enough to cow the people in a city could just as easily backfire. There is no logic from the outside, but the inside and we are not likely to know that turning point until after it happens. At present there is no clear upper hand with the civil police running, the Army on the sidelines, and only the regime IRGC and Baseej with some out of town thugs helping... and one culturally misstep from those thugs is also something that cannot be predicted.

And I do wonder what Iraqi Kurds are talking about with their brothers in Iran... ditto the Baluchs from Pakistan to Iran.

May the Free People of Iran realize their plight and find their way to understand the cost of the Great Tree of Liberty, and the shade of Freedom it provides.

And may America be abashed that we do not elect those who can stand up to say such words any more. They make cowards of us all.

Posted by: ajacksonian Author Profile Page at June 15, 2009 5:39 AM

Michael,
I see some commenters mentioning it here but almost nowhere in the media...what, if any, inspiration might these Iranian protesters/demonstrators be getting from the images of their newly democratic neighbors in Iraq?

Posted by: Mark Eichenlaub Author Profile Page at June 15, 2009 6:05 AM

By that reasoning the Russian Civil War should have been a draw. And I am not convinced the American Civil war was fought by the calm, quiet majority, nor won by them either

So, chuck, is that what you all are talking about here - starting a civil war in which thousands or maybe millions of Americans could die to protest an election in which a clear majority of the voters elected Obama?

Well, if you want America to become the world's largest banana republic, that sounds like a brilliant plan. After the noble civil warriors and secessionists are finished with the country, Iran will look like paradise compared to us. Even Haiti won't return our phone calls.

The majority of moderate American voters chose Obama because he was not a member of the party that was in power when the economy was totally trashed. The Republicans and the Democrats may have contributed equally to this economic disaster, but the Republicans were in charge when it happened. As they say, the buck stops there.

If Obama had been a Republican, he would have lost. If Lincoln had been running for president in 2008, he would have lost. If the Republicans want to start winning elections, they have to acknowledge their mistakes and offer solutions that might actually work.

If the Republicans want to be the near-forgotten stuff of dystopic fiction and children's nightmares, they can keep threatening Americans with secession and civil war...

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at June 15, 2009 9:02 AM

So, chuck, is that what you all are talking about here

Strawman, Mary, you are better than that. What was actually passing through my mind was something by Twain about gunfighters. How the winners more often than not resorted to ambush and shooting folks in the back.

Anyway, it is also well to remember that the government derives it's legitimacy from the people, not the other way around. Folks mostly obey the law by social convention and the understanding that good behaviour will be reciprocated. I see that breaking down. The PUMA sites were full of stories of disenfranchisement, and while much of that was probably standard machine politics, I see no particular reason to trust the Obama administration. Furthermore, they are using our tax money, which is party neutral, to advance their own political interests. That is pretty much standard practice also. But like many universal behaviours -- nepotism, bribery, and police brutality, for instance -- the scale matters enormously.

Am I ready to take up arms? No. I will abide and see how things shake out. But back in the sixties I identified two circumstances in which I would consider the option. One was if the religious right became a dominant power, the other if the Left became so. I think the intellectual and moral corruption of the media and universities is a dangerous thing.

While I agree that the economic meltdown together with McCain's unwillingness to fight was the main cause Obama's election, I don't discount the effect of continuous media adulation and the almost complete lack of serious criticism of Obama's record and associations. The almost worshipful attitude of some of his followers should also bother you, especially if you have had the experience of standing up against a crowd and putting yourself at risk.

Civilization is a fragile thing and democracy a transient phenomenon. They do need to be nourished.

Posted by: chuck Author Profile Page at June 15, 2009 11:47 AM

The electorate hires the elected. I'll be preaching this until I die: critical thinking is the absolutely crucial component. And I hear and read less of it every year. If you have kids in your life especially, introduce them to the identification and evaluation of evidence as a guide to their decision making. Help them recognize credible evidence---and belief-based opinion.

Otherwise style trumps substance. And oh, those unintended consequences...

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 15, 2009 3:26 PM

That is one excellent article by Hitchens!

Posted by: C.H. Author Profile Page at June 15, 2009 6:27 PM

Michael, a couple of weeks ago you posted that you would be "out of town for a few days" meaning you were traveling out of the country. Oh, I thought, Michael's traveling again; that means there's going to be another war or revolution somewhere. And I was right ...

Anyway, thanks for your awesome coverage of these events. That video of the riot police running FROM the demonstrators absolutely made my week. Best thing to wake up to on a Monday morning!

Posted by: Asher Abrams Author Profile Page at June 16, 2009 12:20 AM

Hi Asher,

Glad you like the coverage. I am not, however, in Iran. I'm in Portland, blogging this thing from a distance. I'd love to go there right now, but they're throwing journalists out. No way will they let me in.

If the regime falls, though, I will fly to Tehran immediately.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 16, 2009 12:41 AM

We'll chip in for your air fare, Michael.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at June 16, 2009 1:42 AM

Michael, I knew you couldn't get into Iran; was under the impression you were next door in Iraq. Anyway, thanks as always for the great coverage.

Posted by: Asher Abrams Author Profile Page at June 16, 2009 7:49 AM

Michael,

I think going to Tehran would be amazing, especially if Khamenei is thrown out. One of my very good friends in Iran actually invited me to come out when I go to Asia in August, and I'm seriously considering it.

Although, I think its much safer to be covering this event from a distance.

Posted by: C.H. Author Profile Page at June 16, 2009 8:58 PM
Post a comment









Remember personal info?




Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Read my blog on Kindle



blogads-blog-button.png


Recommended Reading




Warning: include(): http:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_include=0 in /home/mjt001/public_html/archives/2009/06/insurrection-da.php on line 836

Warning: include(http://michaeltotten.com/mt_essays.php): failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /home/mjt001/public_html/archives/2009/06/insurrection-da.php on line 836

Warning: include(): Failed opening 'http://michaeltotten.com/mt_essays.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/mjt001/public_html/archives/2009/06/insurrection-da.php on line 836