Friday, June 26, 2009

Staying Away From Tehran’s Drama

We haven’t had much to say about Tehran. We’ve been staying away from the drama, as sad as that might be, and avoiding pointing out the inevitable truth regarding the fight over regime change in Iran.

Today, Diana West took the lid off and let the facts fly. She says it much more succinctly than we could.

…it becomes unavoidably clear the post-election conflict isn’t a struggle between tyranny and freedom -- the epic narrative we’ve been hearing in absolute, non-contestable terms. The worst thing that could happen next, at least for the absolute, non-contestable pundit-ocracy, is that it becomes clear we’re looking at an intra-Islamic power struggle that has nothing to do with liberty and justice for anybody.

She’s exactly right. This is a “theocratic power struggle between rival mullahs”. The sock puppets are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir Hossein Mousavi, but the real deal is the battle between their bosses. Ahmadinejad answers to Ali Khamenei; Mousavi to Rafsanjani.

Ms. West says this reality ought to be enough to chill the enthusiasms of those who think this has anything to do with freedom or democracy. It is about another Islamicist regime change:

Amazingly, the thought that there might not be a pro-West horse to ride here doesn’t enter the collective media mind, from Left to Right. Such unbraked credulity reflects the media failure to deal competently with any non-Western aspect of Islamic society. They instantly project their Western selves onto everything every time.

But that’s what we do every time. It’s always about us; perhaps a reflection of us, lost in the fantasy of gazing too long into Narcissus’ pool. Instead, Ms. West has some advice to commentators and enthusiasts:
- - - - - - - - -
It would seem advisable to feel one’s way into this story, particularly after picking up on the mullah-versus-mullah action, along with a few choice highlights of “opposition” candidate Mousavi’s resume. Mousavi (who defended the seizure of American hostages taken from the U.S. embassy there in 1979) served as the Ayatollah Khomeini’s prime minister (and is believed to have had a connection to the 1983 attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut), reportedly initiated contact with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan to launch Iran’s nuclear program, and, as John Bolton recently pointed out, “is fully committed to Iranian terrorism.” (So much for the Wall Street Journal’s uncontested mention of Mousavi’s “mercy Islam.”) In a recent Al Jazeera interview, Mousavi revealed his opinion of Ahmadinejad’s genocidal intention to “wipe Israel off the map.” Mousavi said: “From the beginning, I objected to that phrase.”

She has much more information. In fact, that’s the point of her essay. She did her homework on Mousavi and found what was under the rocks, something that other commentators don’t seem to have been willing to do.

Tehran isn’t changing anything, except perhaps for the worst. Read the rest of her essay. She exposes Mousavi’s “vision”.

Anyone remember 1979?


Czechmade said...

Baron, you were at loss for a while and finally relieved by this article.

You had many well payed sovietologists admired for being able to speak or read Russian and their prophecies or analyses were wrong and ridiculous.

Now Iranian studies were not promoted or encouraged for decades and very few people in the West can say they know something.

Those who were allowed to live or study in Iran had to bow down to the regime. They did so willingly.

Very few in the West really studied totalitarian regimes.

They can be very different while using same techniques.

It is not about Mousavi any more.
It was so as long as all sides respected somewhat status quo - avoiding thus slaughter and direct confrontation.

Simply acknowledge you have no means to find out anything relevant.

Baron Bodissey said...

Czechmade --

I'd love to take credit for Dymphna's work, because she is such a good writer. But this is not my post.

heroyalwhyness said...

Quote: "This is a “theocratic power struggle between rival mullahs”."

Another characterization of this election = "the holocaust denier" (Ahmadinijad, participated in 1979–1981 Iran Hostage Crisis) vs. "the holocaust supporter" (Mousavi, founder of Hezbollah, responsible for bombing of Marines in Beirut).

There are countless videos portraying the post election demonstrations available online. Pay attention to the audio . . .listen for the ever present vile bloodlust calls of 'alahu ackbar' saturating the air while Iranian blood saturates the pavement.

laine said...

I recommend Christopher Hitchen's article originally published in Slate magazine but available here:

He has background knowledge of Iran from sources better than our lazy media and doesn't think it's just a cockfight between mullahs and two of a kind candidates.

Dymphna said...


There are also videos available of the two "contestants" for the position: Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

It doesn't matter who got elected, any more than it mattered here.

A theocracy of some sort will still be in charge in Tehran. A statist of some sort will be in charge here.

Dymphna said...

Thanks, laine. I'll look at it and see.

This was not just "a cockfight between two mullahs". In fact, Mullah #2 would be even worse, given his history in 1979, and his political career in Iran in the '80s.

Here is some analysis from Middle East Progress by Meir Javendar, who co-authored a book on Iran:

Iranian Elections Reflect Ambitions of Supreme Leader

This place has a pot pourri of information:

Tehran Bureau --

this one is from the POV of exiles.

And here's Stratfor in March on Rafsanjani: (it may require an email to get the free article)

Rafsanjani and Iran's Foreign Policy and Domestic Situation

My personal favorite is John Bolton, though I haven't found his essay on the latest developments. I'm sure it's out there.

Meanwhile, here's a video on his ideas in the run-up to the election:

John Bolton On Iran Elections

One either agrees with Bolton's premises from the outset, or one doesn't. Many on the left call him a warmonger. I think he's a realist.

Watching Eagle said...

Very good point West makes.

WE as a civilization have the civilizational problems of Spanish of the 1600-1700's (financial), the Carthegians of 230-146 BC (Welfare State, personal and party interest [of leaders] above patriotism, lack of concern for survival), and the Greeks of 200-140 BC (selfishness, ease, and demographic winter), ALL ROLLED INTO ONE. Each set of problems DOOMED each of these civilizations, and the West has them all AT THE SAME TIME.
These facts are evident if one understands the Event Relation view of history, but NOT when FOSSILIZED into RIGID LINERAL CRONOLOGICAL THEORY. Topping it off is the terrible hubris of seeing other cultures as identical to ourselves. (this will be a topic explored in more detail in another post).

Without a plan to correct these crises, the West is doomed. We patriots had better learn fast from islamists and Leftists about organization, focus, and fervor.

If we don't totally drive Leftist "progressives" out of power, the Islamists WILL (via Al-Hijra, [MIGRATION COMBINED WITH POLITICAL INFILTRATION AND POWER BUILDING]. The blood will REALLY START FLOWING WHEN THE LEFTIST ELITE IS FORCED TO LIVE UNDER SHARIAH. [at sword point]. This is a high price to pay, but justice will not allow the "progressive" matrix of REALITY DENIAL to continue indefinitely.

davod said...

I have read the arguments, some by noted Iran watchers, which say the protests are no longer about the opposition candidates they are about something much bigger.

The protestors may think this but at the end of the day they will get a quieter ratbag with the same or worse views about Islamic domination.

Czechmade said...

Diana West is not even "sovietologist", her credentials are zero. She works for MSM including CNN.

You may be an Iran expert for life and be totally wrong.

There are many telling details, for ex. the green colour used as logo in the movement has much longer tradition in Iran than islam (which I hate with you to the last drop) it stands for Iran and Zaratushthra.

If you read purely Iranian comments you would find better formulations: "The election was a referendum about Ahmadinejad", not
so much about Moussavi.

Mousavi could win some favours by
equaling men and women, speaking of non govt, media (TV) to be allowed and better ties with the outside world. Pipes or Mossad are perfectly right in their assessments he would be more dangerous to Israel et all than the monkey ahmadinejad,

However the opposition thought of him as a leverage to push further.
The opposition are not Moussavi crowds, but the same underdogs like us who did not want to have anything in common with socialism or communism. Could we voice it directly? No. It would have been a welcome pretext to crush us.

Now the protesters shout marg bar jomhoria-eslamiya death to Islamic republic.

Who wants mullahs in Iran? "Akhound" in Persian is a word full of disdain. Now the desprate regime hits anyone in view. The IRI is crumbling in front of your eyes and you waste your time with West and Moussavi.

You failed the test. They are not that stupid as you want them to be.
And they have what you currently do not have: the courage. They may be slaughtered by thousands, while you make "good points" thinking how islamic they might be.

I am deeply ashamed of GoV readership. Find some articles by Hugh Fitzgerald who is more nuanced to make the difference.

Henrik R Clausen said...

I'm no expert on Iran. Just happen to have lived there. I remember the Shah, the antagonism against his rule that Carter and the lefties encouraged, and the hopes that the revolution would bring about a radically better life.

That didn't work out. Lefties were the first to be shot.

Iran could be a wonderful country. They do have a culture distinct from the Arabic, there are quite a few Christians, a few Baha'i, Zoroastrians and other interesting people. But their protected 'dhimmi' status doesn't quite work out, the current regime is more brutal than that.

Piecing together what goes on is non-trivial, and we will make mistake. Some, like Czechmade, take issue with that:

I am deeply ashamed of GoV readership.

Your problem, Czechmade, not mine. I suggest you abstain from denigrating the GoV readership.

I think everyone understands that Moussavi was also pre-approved before running in the election. It wasn't like he'd just dismantle the current system, which some of the protesters are hoping for.

But my hopes took a nosedive when I heard the protesters call upon Allah for support. That'll just give more martyrs to Allah, not freedom to Iran.

The regime has thrown off a couple of their masks of pretense during the process, which is good, for it undermines the legitimacy of its rule. The shooting of the (Christian ?) girl Neda was a particular landmark event. She could become a poster girl for the resistance.

Here in Denmark, the infamous imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen refused to condemn the violent regime. That's on record.

Interesting times...

Afonso Henriques said...

It smells like America is gaining an excuse to not intervene.

I am against an hypotetical intrevention, at least for now.
It is also truth that Moussavi is all that and perhaps even more.

But the people who are in the streets, being shot, supporting Moussavi and killink membars of the "bisaj" (the Islamic police?) are not there for a new wave of radical islamism, quiet the opposite.
And this is so clear that nobody can deny. The people in the street are fighting against Islamism, that's a fact. However, Moussavi is an islamist, that's another fact.

But, what would an islamist do if he was put in power by the strenght of the people fighting islamism? The margin for change would be greater, so would the belief of the people that they can change something.

America DOES NOT HAVE to intervene and as such you don't need to make up reasons for not bombing Iran.

And stop being like that, people!! That's evil!

"Pay attention to the audio . . .listen for the ever present vile bloodlust calls of 'alahu ackbar' saturating the air while Iranian blood saturates the pavement."

Alah u Ackbar is the islamic equivalent to "Oh My God".
And also, Iran will never be Westernised like Japan or South Korea. And that's great for them. We can only whish for it to be de-islamised or de-arabised or de-turkified. Although it's very unlikely.

I am not ashamed of GoV. I hate to say but in this regard I HAVE to agree with Czechmade:

"You failed the test. They are not that stupid as you want them to be.
And they have what you currently do not have: the courage. They may be slaughtered by thousands, while you make "good points" thinking how islamic they might be."

If only Czechmade would agree with me that their efforts were vane and it was not West's or GoV's fault...

What kill Persia? The empire. That's why the Nation is so important.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Alah u Ackbar is the islamic equivalent to "Oh My God".

Actually, it's pre-Islamic. Pagan.

The Arabs had been worshipping Allah, along with a lot of other gods, for untold generations before Mo came along and reviled their useless religion. Even when Mo himself was born, he was greeted with that very exclamation.

At an incident now known as the 'Satanic Verses', Mo joined the Allah-worshipping in Mecca after 8 years of rather fruitless preaching.

Afonso Henriques said...

Henrik, what's the matter with you?

"But my hopes took a nosedive when I heard the protesters call upon Allah for support. That'll just give more martyrs to Allah, not freedom to Iran."

It's their God for God's sake!! When they want to ask for help from a superior identity - even if to throw away with the Islamic Republic - they will call for Alah.
It's like when the leftists say "Tanks God I can now have an abortion".

"The shooting of the (Christian ?) girl Neda was a particular landmark event. She could become a poster girl for the resistance."

Why on the world would Neda be Christian!?? I have never heard of it!
I mean, I HOPE she was a non Islamist Islamic Persian so that she can be emulated by the majority of the Persian population...

I am not expecting much from Iran but man, I have to say that the ones protesting are indeed fighting a good fight and have all my support.
It's only sad it is a fight that they cannot and will not win. At least, now.

Henrik R Clausen said...

BTW, I don't think any intervention would be of much use to topple the regime. Anything overt would give the regime an excuse to box the protesters as 'outside controlled'.

Possibly generic statements like "We fully appreciate the desire for democracy in Iran" would work best.

Difficult situation. We'd like to help, but finding something useful is not easy. Helping the Iranians use the Internet anonymously is probably one of the most useful things right now - as by setting up a Tor server.

Henrik R Clausen said...

It's their God for God's sake!

Sure. With an insatiable desire for martyrs. He'll get some. I have my freedom not to like gods like that.

To be more specific, if they trade one Islam-based regime for another, any gains in freedom will be temporary. Same god, same scripture, same Sharia, same problems.

Why on the world would Neda be Christian!??

I read somewhere (didn't have the guts to examine the pictures myself) that a cross was visible around her neck when she was shot.

There are many Christians in Iran, with conversions said to be in the 6-digit range. That has turned into a problem for the regime, who passed a law formalizing the death penalty for apostacy.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Actually, it's pre-Islamic. Pagan."

Yes, you're right. However that religion does not exist any longer and what exists now is the Islamic one. Thus, it is now islamic although it is of Arabic pre-islamic origin.

Glad to know also that you like Salaman Rushdie. His The Satanic Verses was the only book I've read from a subcontinental author (although being written in English, and although I've read the translation which always kills much of the original) and I loved it.
One of last year's best surprises. That's how I've come in touch with that episode.

Dymphna said...

The Iranians I know have always taken pride in being Persian Muslims, and thus consider themselves superior to, and more intelligent than the mere Arabs.

There *are* Christians in Iran, as there are Jews. Yes, life is difficult for them, but they are Iranians...

Five hundred candidates presented themselves to run for the job, but they were turned down. This was a power play, not an election.

OTOH, so are American politics mere power plays. Otherwise the current resident of the Oval Office wouldn't be there.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Ehm, I didn't refer to Salman Rusdie. I was referring to the originals in the Quran, here elaborated by Craig Winn, who wrote: Yet Rushdie had merely exposed Islam’s own Traditions. . Salman Rushdie didn't come up with the term, it's in the Islamic scripture:

Ibn Ishaq, p. 166:
Satan had cast words into his recitation, as he had interjected them on Muhammad’s tongue and into his desires.

There you have it, out of the scripture. Satan spoke through Mo, and the only defense Mo manages to come up with is that all other 'prophets' were doing the same.

Apart from the silliness of the excuse, he has the additional problem that his claim is not verified by any Jewish or Christian scripture. It's unique for Islam that Satan speaks directly through its founder.

The story, of course, casts doubt on the entire Quran. For how can we be sure that any of the other verses are not given by Satan, just lacking the acknowledgement we find here? There's no guarantee.

Islamic scholars have no proper response to this problem, apart from attacking those who expose it.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Apart from the silliness of the excuse, he has the additional problem that his claim is not verified by any Jewish or Christian scripture. It's unique for Islam that Satan speaks directly through its founder."

That's because muslims are so good they actually hang out with everybody. God, the Devil, Pagan Arabian Gods... you name it!

And I guess the official muslim stand in this is that it didn't happened.