There’s an old saying that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” It’s more of a threat (or curse) than a blessing, and sadly, it has come true for our generation.
Like many people in America, I anxiously awaited the Iranian elections last week, hoping against hope that Moussavi would win. I knew that it was unlikely that the “right person” would win and that Iran would morph into Turkey overnight, but I, like many others, kept hoping for a miracle. The result, as I feared it would be, was a landslide victory for incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Moussavi has charged the government with election fraud, and his supporters are protesting the election in the streets, defiant of the government’s ban on public demonstrations and attempts to limit Internet and cell-phone access.
The election results were certainly rigged. Ahmadinejad carried a hefty majority of the vote, won in Tehran and even in Mousavi’s own hometown. People under 30, a group that constitutes over 70 percent of Iran’s population, overwhelmingly support Mousavi, as do women and the middle class, yet “I’m-a-dinner-jacket” somehow garnered a declared 62 percent of the vote. The Ayatollah Khamenei initially gave his official blessing to the results. The election was not supervised by independent, foreign monitors and CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour reported from Iran that Mousavi’s representatives, who were supposed to be supervising the polling places, were strangely absent. Seven Mousavi supporters have been killed during the demonstrations so far, either by police or the Basij, the pro-Ahmadinejad militias. The Guardian Council, the mullahs appointed by Khamenei who really run the nation, have called for a “partial recount,” while Mousavi has denounced it as a farce, insisting on a total re-vote. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has continued to give oddly hilarious interviews, grinning like a jerk all the while.
The unfortunate fact is that Mousavi, a “moderate,” if only by Iranian standards, would only be the second-most-powerful person in Iran and, ultimately, subordinate to the Ayatollah and the Guardian Council. On top of this, Mousavi was the prime minister who began Iran’s push for nuclear capabilities, although he now promises that Iran will use its nuclear capabilities for purely peaceful means. The elections in question were not overseen by independent, international inspectors, and the mullahs get the final say in who can run. Even if Mousavi had won, it would have been a win in a suspect election, in a nation that is only nominally democratic.
Meanwhile, our dear leader, Barrack Hussein Obama, has done nothing more than suggest that the election results just might be crooked, while telling us that “given the history” of the United States meddling in Iranian politics, America should avoid trying to invalidate the decision of the Iranian electorate. Never mind that people are being shot and clubbed over the head by thugs on motorbikes; we have to be sensitive to the history of the region and not try to force a way of life (for example, the American way of life; constitutional representative democracy, rule of law, human rights) on a foreign people! I personally wonder if the families of those killed during the demonstrations would not have minded having a more humane government “imposed” upon them.
Perhaps Obama sees Ahmadinejad as a kindred spirit, by which I mean, a fellow statist dictator who pretends to be a democratically elected ruler. ABC, seeking to best all the other networks and perhaps be appointed the Pravda to Obama’s Stalin, will host an hour-long special, a “conversation” on the issue of health care from the White House’s East Wing. I am just going to call this now and say that the “conversation” will be pretty one sided. As a person with bad health, I am adamantly opposed to nationalized healthcare, as it would be horribly destructive, resulting in the rationing of services, increased wait times, fewer doctors per people and, of course, higher spending, higher taxes and a higher deficit.
Iran appears on the verge of a revolution, a civil war or both. Some top clerics on the Guardian Council have issued fatwahs denouncing the idea that the election was rigged and members of the military are saying that they will not obey orders to fire on protestors. Reza Aslan compared it to his memories of the revolution in 1979 that ousted the Shah and brought power to the current regime. Mousavi has broad support among the youth, the urban middle and upper classes, and the nation’s women, while Ahmadinejad’s base of support is the rural majority. If a revolution were to occur, it could potentially lead to a civil war. The collapse of Iran, which borders Iraq and Afghanistan, is a serious threat to the stability of the entire region, and the world.
With the world still in the grip of a massive recession, America already has troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; Pakistan is struggling with the Taliban; Mexico is in a war with the drug cartels and reeling from the combined impact of drug wars, swine flu and the recession; and Kim Jong Il is looking to go out with a rather large, mushroom cloud-producing bang. We live in interesting times indeed; I just wish they were not as terrifying.