Monday, June 15, 2009

Time out for the big picture . . .

Above is the current scene in Tehran, where hundreds of thousands have defied riot police to protest the coup being staged by Ahmadinejad. (Would we'd seen these kinds of crowds in D.C. when the Republicans pulled off basically the same move in 2001! I guess we're just not as freedom-loving as Iranians.) To call the past week's events a game-changer in the Mideast is a wild understatement. The regional power in the area - the one we have been essentially fighting by proxy in Iraq for the past few years - is on the verge of becoming a functioning democracy. How do we encourage that to happen? How do we react if the popular uprising fails? It seems likely that Obama's election, and his outreach to Islam, had a hand in engendering all this, but how the President can help bring this transformation to pass remains murky. But whatever happens, it will be impossible for the neocon alignment against Iran in this country to maintain its aura of legitimacy. (And as a result, many conservatives seem actually to be sending out feelers of support for Ahmadinejad - they know the Israel lobby needs him.) It's hard to believe that just a year or two ago we were seriously considering bombing these people. Now we have to admit that Iran wants to become democracy - and engage with the world.


  1. I've long insisted Columbia University was right to invite Ahmedinejad to speak. After all, there was the scene of University President Lee Bollinger criticizing Ahmedinejad's policies and rhetoric to his face. I hope the footage has been making its way through the Iranian dissident community in a samizdat edition.

    That said, it took many years for either the Charter 77 movement in Czechoslovakia or Solidarity in Poland to amass the strength that allowed them to take advantage at the proper moment in 1989.

  2. Another thing to mention since you were making the comparison to Florida in 2000: by the time it was clear to many that the Republican objective was actual theft of the election, Al Gore had already wimped out, showing that he had no intention of fighting for Americans' rights to have their votes counted even if they had voted for him, so there wasn't a leader (or organization) for any democracy movement to rally behind.