Saturday, June 13, 2009

Can Ahmedinejad’s Win Help the US Make Real Changes in Iran?

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: 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.


  1. Iran has been undermining governments throughout the region, as well as our efforts in Iraq. Therefore how could they possibly complain if we work to undermine theirs?

    As far as the "image" of America in that part of the world, there are been two big changes. One, the people know the US will do nothing to remove their dictators and, two, the US will likely abandon much of its support for Israel. So yes, our image has improved over there. Our improved image also means that Iran (and others) can act against us with near impunity. The fear that there will be consequences to their actions has diminished drastically.

    But as least our image is better.

    You're right though, in that it would be in our best interests to support the groups that are opposed to the clerics and ruling body. I'm sure that many people believe that the elections were legitimate, but I agree with your view on that. The clerics will do what they need to do to keep power and there isn't much that anyone can do about it.

    Still, actively working to destabilize that Gov would damage our image over there, so that won't happen.

    Perhaps when Iran sets off its first nuke people will take a different look at the situation.

  2. Thanks for your comments Greg. I agree with you wholeheartedly. They may 'love' us (or Obama) now, but that'll quickly fade away when they learn that our government is all talk and no action.

    I don't have the faith that you do that a nuclear test will change anything. After all, North Korea can apparently test nukes with impunity. In fact, it only wins greater concessions when it is increasingly belligerent. My faith in this adminstration makes me believe we'll simply talk and try to make the people like us, while not addressing any real issues in a concrete way.

    The biggest risk in this, however, is that Israel will feel compelled to act on their own. With the decreasd support from America and the unbridled threat from Iran, they are well justified to take pre-emptive action. However, we all know this will lead to a bloody war. I'd like to see America take the concrete steps to avoid putting Israel in this postion (and also avoid pulling itself into a potential war). What do you see occuring as a result of this election?


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