Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Painted green

Green may be the current cool color in Western pop culture, but it seems the Mousavi-ites dubbed their movement the green revolution because green is the color is of Islam(!). Or maybe that's just an explanation for global public consumption, so that we don't get too suspicious of all those Iranian young people holding up signs in English. Members of the Anglo press are always flattered when people in foreign countries wave signs in English that speak of freedom, even those TV-types who until very recently had been advocating bombing the crap out of Iran, as Glenn Greenwald has recently pointed out.

(Perhaps especially the ones who had been calling for bombing you.) We don't care about you, just what you stand for, so be a dear and stand for something we understand...

To be honest, I find it awfully difficult to evaluate the current goings-on in Iran. Was the election stolen? I no longer assume that the talking heads on TV care about telling me the unvarnished truth, and given how many decades US elites have invested in meddling in the middle east, it's hard not to be skeptical. On one hand we're told that opposition candidate Mousavi held a narrow lead in Iranian election polling just before the vote. On the other hand, it's hard to know how reliable polling methods are in Iran, and the gap in access to technology between country and rural folk may be substantial. Remember the famous story of how the Literary Digest predicted that FDR would lose reelection in '36 because they relied on polls of persons with telephones, which skewed their results to the republicans? On the other, other hand, as it were, just because a phenomenon plays out the way foreign elites(with a history of meddling in Iran's internal affairs) might have desired, doesn't mean it's bogus.

I note that Xymphora is suspicious that Israel and the US have interfered with the events in Iran, spurring the protests on. Even though Xymphora is prone to see a Zionist conspiracy behind every bush, this strikes me as plausible.

We're getting lots of images of rioting, but in a country of 70 plus million, about 20 million of whom live in the Tehran metro area, the only images we're getting are from the capitol, as opposed to from where the other 50 million live. Pepe Escobar has recently noted [video link]that Ahmedinejad's strongest constituency has always been among the rural poor, i.e., people who are less likely to have internet access. Call them, pace Nixon, Ahmedinejad's "silent majority."

Obviously we don't really know if their election was stolen, and we don't know if it wasn't. Apparently the Iranian government will do a recount of some disputed votes, but one assumes this is more about preserving order and shoring up its legitimacy than intrinsic concern.

I'll admit I wonder, as Xymphora and others do, if outside forces are egging on the disorder. But I also wonder if Americans could be moved to stand up for their rights in a similarly bold way without it being borne out of manipulation by elites.(I suppose I'm over-using that word at this point.)

Maybe, in our post McLuhan, insufferably postmodern, SMS/RSS/Social networking age, it's both easier for authentic grassroots phenomena to catch fire-- and easier than ever to manufacture them. Good luck Iran, even when the West has lost interest in your green revolution, so-called or otherwise, and moved on.

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

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At June 16, 2009 2:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have to agree, we don’t know if the election was stolen or not, as if it was any of our business to worry about such matters. Ahmadinejad is not in charge of Iranian foreign policy so the hysteria whipped up by the news media is ridiculous. As early as 2008 Bush was funding terrorist attacks inside of Iran, which are ongoing under Obama, though I’m not sure that the anger of the Iranians over the election results is related but it is possible.

At June 16, 2009 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with both of you. I think Chris Floyd's reference to Zhou Enlai's comment "It's too early to tell" pretty well sums things up. Any positions taken now would be pure speculation, unless one was on the ground in Iran for quite some time prior to this recent election, and insightful and/or connected enough to know what's really happening. I don't know anyone fitting those criteria, so I don't take any positions on it. Whether the outcome is good or bad isn't as quick or easy as the coin toss on who wins or won.

At June 22, 2009 6:39 AM, Blogger Brenda Cooper said...

I posted about this yesterday at http://www.brenda-cooper.com. The summary is that after spending so much time focusing on Iran the last few days, I decided to look at why it's such a fascinating topic to me. The summary for those who don't want to look up the blog is that it's fascinating to watch the interest around the world,and to see the role of the internet. We see images of death and beatings and we are fascinated. Also, the core memes here about fair election and no dictatorship resonate well with Americans.

At June 22, 2009 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And all of this is why I would also be reluctant to try to do anything directly right now when it comes to Iran. The Iranians know full well we helped support the Shah's coup in 1953, and that's still a sore point with even the younger generations who weren't alive then. Even if the election was rigged, for us to step in and do anything about it would (1) likely be equated with 1953, and (2) could go a long way towards delegitimizing the election.

--Danny Adams

At June 22, 2009 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good points, Danny. And not only would it be seen as equal to 1953, it would be the same. Why? It's not our country! It's THEIR country. We have no right --legal, moral, or otherwise-- to meddle. Strangely, many in America start from the presumption that we have that right, and from there, they proceed to debate the HOW and WHEN of intervention/meddling. It's absurd. If some nation decided it was going to come into the USA and tell us how to do things, how would we take it?

At June 22, 2009 3:20 PM, Anonymous Dave Trowbridge said...

According to this story and follow-ups, there’s evidence that many of the Twitters are part of an Israeli effort to muck up the election.

I talked to a friend of mine who is a foreign affairs analysts specializing in that region, and he points out that Israel has two reasons to do this:

1) To keep the Iranians off balance, and
2) To keep Obama off balance (so that he can't pressure them on settlements).

If it’s true, they’re succeeding in both.

Basically, this is just another “color” revolution, only we’re not the primary push behind it this time, as we were in Ukraine and Georgia.

And, speaking of Georgia, have you noticed any coverage of the ongoing demonstrations in Tblisi against the government? 10,000 people every day, and 50,000 frequently. Given the population of Georgia, that’s equivalent to 500,000 people massing in D.C. every day, 3,000,000 peak. But, of course, they’re demonstrating against a “good guy,” right? So the official news sources ignore them.

The really despicable thing about this sort of thing is the cynical manipulation of people’s authentic yearning for a better life in the service of an agenda which has anything but their good as its aim.

At June 22, 2009 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I can agree with that take, Dave. Here's why.

1) Israel does the bidding of the USA, not vice-versa.

2) Obama is just the face-man for the corporate and monetary powers of the USA. It makes no sense to say someone would have to "pressure Obama." The pressure would have to be applied to those who paid Obama's way into the White House. Pressuring Obama would be of no consequence whatever.

The only pressure someone might successfully put on Barack Obama would be his wife, regarding their marital affairs. Outside that realm, he's a puppet on a string.

So we'd have to look at what those who funded Obama want. And those people are the ones who direct Israel with economic, social and political pushes and pulls.

Israel is a client state. It no more tells the USA what to do than I do.

At June 24, 2009 6:46 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Think you might have linked to the wrong Escobar (Pepe not Pablo).

At June 24, 2009 7:47 AM, Anonymous Dave Trowbridge said...

Charles, I think your analysis is a bit simplistic.

Israel is indeed a client state, but it has its own agenda, and its interests are not identical to those of the US government. It has a long history of attempting to influence US policy.

Obama is indeed a "face man," but what lies behind him is not monolithic, and he has some degree of freedom to play off competing interests against each other. (This is a successful Chicago pol, after all.) Thus, he is subject to pressure.

I think it's more helpful to think in systematic terms and realize that although the Domination System, as Walter Wink calls it, always tends to less freedom and greater oppression, all of the actors in it possess some degree of free will, which is exploited by other actors in the system.

At June 24, 2009 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simplistic, Dave? What, this is a PhD level dissertation on Israel here?

come on man!

What about my short description was WRONG, Dave?

Obama subject to "pressure"? You're mistaken, Dave. You don't know much about the Presidency. You wouldn't have any way of knowing how I know what I do though so I can see how you'd assume you know better than I do here. Let me just tell you, I grew up in Fed Politics, my mother worked in the Ford and Nixon Admins. She worked in the Haig and Schultz State Dept admins, and the Hufstedler Educ Dept admin. I have been in the thick of DC politics for a good chunk of my life. Not in it now, but it's no different now, in fact the POTUS has even less leverage now than he did in my childhood.

You entertain a fantasy, Dave. But I know why you do. It's that lingering education from childhood, the George Washington legend, etc. that every American child learns, the noble leader with a pure agenda, blah blah blah.

Obama is but a puppet in every realm except his marriage and fatherhood roles. Even there he may be Michelle's lackey. Even there.

Please try again, Dave.

As to Israel -- my general take is accurate, the specific contours may be argued, but the general take is there. Israel wouldn't exist if not for the financial and global political support given by the UK and USA in the post-WW2 era. It would not be any form of economic or military power without our extensive $$$$ given to it. And why do we give that $$$$? Because it's a hellion of a client state who will do our wettest wet work and keep pressure on the neighbor Islamic and Christian people who have oil in their soil.

How anyone can see it otherwise, I do not know, except by act of willful ignorance.

At June 24, 2009 10:47 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Scott, I just like calling Pepe Escobar Pablo. It's this game we play. OK, I'll correct it.


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