The outcome (so far) of the Iranian election is unsurprising to say the least. Ahmedinejad’s supposed landslide victory was too easily predictable in the authoritarian and cleric-controlled nation. The fact of the matter is that the sham of an election is only another indication of the backwardness and intense hard-line nature of the ruling Islamist elite.
Mousavi, a reformist only by Islamist Iranian standards, was doomed from the beginning. The ruling clerics who control the media and military forces clearly had no desire for open, free elections that could potentially divert the nation from their laid out path. The deck was heavily stacked in favor of the incumbent; even if, by all Western media’s indications, there was a dramatic increase in reformist minded voters, particularly students.
The state used every means to quash the challengers. The ‘failure’ of the text messaging services so relied upon by young reformist voters and the prevention of Mousavi supporters from entering polling stations are objectionable, yet unexpected, abuses of the electoral process. Even with these steps, it still appears that the electoral officials had to release bogus results to maintain Ahmedinejad’s dictatorship. It is foolhardy to even refer to Iran as a proto- or semi- democracy.
The US has to use the current unrest in Iran to its advantage. There is much upset with the fraud of an election. Students are protesting and rioting. Now is the time for the world to take steps to make real positive change in Iran. Since the US has been bold enough to thus far reject the results (See MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31342541/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa) it must capitalize on the situation. By allying ourselves with the anti-clerical and reformist movements in Iran, the US can gain a foothold to squeeze the clerical elite. While a toppling of the Islamist movement may not be feasible at the moment, the popular dissent may be useful in wringing greater concessions from the true leaders of Iran. America can lend support to the oppressed Iranian population and take steps to reduce the threats posed by the rogue nation. It is pertinent that we use this opportunity before Ahmedinejad is able to retrench himself and increase his power.
Winning hearts and mind is all well and good, but it needs to be supported with action. For every grandiose speech given, the United States has to make moves on the ground. We can’t simply just speak eloquently and hope everyone becomes friends. While America’s image may now be better in the eyes of the average Muslim than it was two years ago, this election has proven that this matters little. The people in these countries have little say over their rulers and their lives. America now must prove that it isn’t just a nice voice and a beach body, but a determined country that will act.