Iranian voters say, "I want my MTV!" Council responds, "How 'bout The Disney Channel instead..."
Boy, how ‘bout that Iranian election huh? Not a better example of democracy in action than that, I tell ya… Sure, the favored candidate lost, but the level of acceptance and tolerance of the returns and the overall support for the Iranian constitution by all parties is a shining testament to the fairness of a one man, one vote society.
All snark aside… Sadly, I wish I had more of an optimistic outlook for those who are taking to the streets in Tehran today. I wish I believed that a momentum swing has/is occurred. I think many pro-democracy western friendly students and academics are sort of waiting to see if the tide is really going to come in on this thing before they close their books and join their braver counterparts. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Honestly, part of the problem is that young folks in Iran have it better than the generation prior as far as freedoms and are reluctant to see it all evaporate demanding more. They’ve adopted the very American “ignore them (the hardliners) and they’ll leave you alone” approach. Too bad they can't get a grip on the reality that they will NEVER truly leave them alone EVER.
The facts are this… Iran is ruled by the HYPERWEALTHY Supreme Guardian Council. These are mullahs and judges install during the late 70’s revolution. These council members and their extended families are the main benefactors of Iran’s petroleum exports (their is little diff between these asshats and the House of Saud as far as oil money distribution goes). They are rich beyond belief. Their thievery is concealed under the cloak of religious totalitarianism, a popular favorite in the Middle East. The council has effectively played the game of puppet government VERY well in Iran, perhaps as well as their most hated enemy the Saudi's. Giving in and looking the other way on small breeches of obedience as long as it didn’t look or smell like a movement. Hell, the mullahs don’t even care that most educated Iranians dismiss them and their loud mouth puppet president as idiots and thieves, as long as these things don’t coalesce into popular opposition movement.
I do think the elections have moved the ball forward though, if only a yard or two. Assuming that a Tienanmen style crack down is avoided, in the coming months Ahmadinejad and the council will release the pressure valve of “personal freedoms” a little to calm the most dangerous numbers among the dissenters (those on the fence right now) and a go back to barking at the west. While this may not help Hillary in the short term, playing this game ultimately is bad for Iran’s Supreme Guardian Council. Funny thing about freedom, it’s awful hard to roll back up once you’ve let it out.
I’d love to be wrong here, I’d love to wake up everyday this week to headlines that the crowds in Tehran are growing each day and a real movement is gaining a foot, but I sort of put myself in the shoes of one of those fence sitters over there and analyze it from a more tactical standpoint. As much as I hate to say it, it’s probably better to provide assistance to street fighters when you can, keep your face covered to remain anonymous, shoot and scoot, and live to fight another day, perhaps when the ”Great Gettin’ up Morning” actually does come. See how this plays with the White House and Europe, maybe let opposition leadership evolve and organize a little bit more.
That’s how I see it anyway. My best wishes for those brave Iranian men and women who are taking to the streets. I hope what you’re feeling is contagious…