A quick rundown on what’s going on:
- The “Islamic Republic,” a/k/a the velâyat-e fâqih (“the state of the religious jurisprudent), periodically holds sham elections. The results can be more or less fairly tabulated, but it’s largely irrelevant, as all the candidates have to be pre-approved by the small coterie of leaders of the state, and especially the Rahbar (Persian for “Duce” or “Führer”), the “Supreme Leader.”
- This time, the “moderate” probably won, but the leadership wanted the “radical” to win, probably because the hostile approach has been very successful in cowing Western opposition.
- A huge segment of the population—perhaps the majority, even a wide majority—are sick of the radical, hostile approach and, perhaps, the rule of the mullahs full stop.
- The naming of Ahmadî-Nezhâd winner of the elections over Mûsâvî has set off nationwide riots.
- The ultimate fate of the riots is up in the air: with whom will the police, army, Revolutionary Guards, Basîj militia, etc., side? Could this lead to civil war? Could it lead to the downfall of the Islamic Republic? Who knows, yes, and yes—the last Iranian Revolution was a series of escalating confrontations that led to a result unforeseen by much of the population.
Beyond that, things are very hazy. The main question for Americans is, of course, what should we do? Before the elections, the realist counsel was that Ahmadî-Nezhâd would be a better winner for the cause of mobilizing world opinion against the Iranian bomb (of which, of course, Mûsâvî approved, as an approved candidate of the régime—and indeed which Iranian popular opinion from Tabriz to Tehrangeles unanimously supports). Now, however, the mask is off, and the Islamic Republic is exposed as the thug dictatorship it’s always been, with only the most craven apologists trying to “contextualize” what’s going on.
What does the U.S. do?
Given we’ve got the “smart power” crew in office—which is to say the New & Improved “Soft Power”® crew—one would think that we’d be using public diplomacy and rallying international opinion and cooperation (perhaps coupled with covert action) to push the situation in a direction we’d like it to go. But things are awfully quiet these days. No radio address from President Obama. No speech to the Iranian people. Not much at all. Is this because the riots are inconvenient and we’d prefer the devil we know as an interlocutor, or because we genuinely don’t know what we want?
The Volgi, per usual, would like to see an American president standing up unequivocally on the side of a people clearly striving for freedom and standing with the them against the tyrants, perhaps saying that as we helped bring democracy to Iraq, we’d love to see it break out next door. Since we’re not at all willing to send troops, we should at least imply that the M1A2 Abramses are not coming over the hill—lest we end up like Radio Free Europe over-promising in the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. Conversely, we should state that we’ll help the people with everything short of that, lest the régime reads our unwillingness to invade as an April Glaspie moment (the Hon. Ms. Glaspie seems to have been criticized a bit unfairly in this regard, so I apologize for using her as a convenient shorthand). And then, follow through, dammit, unlike after the Gulf War when we hung the Shi‘ites out to dry.
That said, one suspects the Obama Administration is not prepared to act—or speak—that decisively. If so, history will judge whether that was a prudent judgment or a missed opportunity. Hope he chooses wisely.
St. Maruthas, Patron of Persia, barâ-ye mâ namâz bekonîd!
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.