Did people actually think Khamenei was going to let someone other than Ahmadalphabet win? Seriously? How many thousands of pages of ink were spilled detailing what an oppressive regime Iran is over the past few years? Every candidate for President in the last election discussed what a tyrannical regime there is in Iran. And people thought the outcome of this election would be different?
I suppose we could invade Iraq and take out the only regional power able to balance Iran’s status. That might help the cause of democracy. Oh, wait.
I liked this world a whole lot better when I was the really gullible one.
*** Update ***
Looks like I chose the wrong time to be cynical. I honestly thought all week while reading Sullivan that this will just end up the same way as always. Consistently wrong. Always. I hope few are hurt.
It was certainly possible, it just wouldn’t have meant anything, per se.
Did you mean to link to the fake baby story, tho?
As the saying goes, democracy isn’t voting, democracy is counting the votes.
Can we start calling them Floridastan?
I predict that John Bolton will see this as a good reason for nuking Iran. But then, what doesn’t he see as a good reason for nuking Iran?
The Disenfranchised Voter
Yea it seems like its bullshit but the one decent out of this is the display the young generation of Iran and other “Green Party” supporters are putting on. It is one thing to protest the way they are in the US, its a whole nother ball game to do that type of shit in a country as oppressive as Iran.
Actually, here’s a far-fetched but plausible scenario.
Khamenei sees that the youth of Iran are overwhelmingly pro-reform. He understands that the regime cannot actually go against this movement long-term because the numbers are against him. He sees that direct opposition to this movement will be fatal.
So he allows this election to go ahead and for Ahmadinejad to steal it. The people take to the streets and start to protest. Then Khamenei comes out and invalidates the election or declares that Moussavi actually won.
In doing so, Khamenei co-opts the reform movement to some extent and gains the support of the younger demographic. He allows some limited reform that keeps him and the fellow clerics as the ultimate authority.
Like I said, it’s far-fetched but not impossible.
As far as letting someone other than Ahmadinjad win: the mullahs allowed Mohammad Khatami to win the presidency in 1997. Khatami like the main challenger this time, Mousavi, was a reform minded candidate, so there was some basis for the hope that the Ayatollah would allow an election result that resembled the actual voting. Remember also that even though Mousavi isn’t the same type of hardliner that Ahmadinjad is he was still enough to the mullahs liking that he was allowed onto the ballot at all.
** Atanarjuat **
I’m not surprised that Armani Dinnerjacket has been appointed by official decree.
With the results of the American Presidential Election back in 2000 being decided by “judicial” fiat in a similar fashion, Iran has simply demonstrated that they are closer to America in spirit than many of us would have believed.
And the decision was reached quicker, too — no messy hanging chads over!
I recommend Sullivan for the sheer enormity of links and information he is providing in real time. Juan ‘the other’ Cole also has excellent information and conjecture as to how and why the election was stolen.
Edit–even if it may have been far fetched to think Mousavi would win seeing the reaction to the fraud by the people and others within the regime is very illuminating. The fact that the neocons wanted Ahmadinejad to win says it all.
joe from Lowell
A reform candidate won in the 1990s.
I think that most expected there to be fraud, but what happened in Iran makes Florida 2000 seem subtle. It really seems like an incredibly bad job at stealing an election.
This Foreign Policy magazine article claims:
“Only candidates deemed sufficiently loyal to revolutionary ideals are permitted to run by the Guardian Council, Iran’s 12 “super delegates” who are all either directly or indirectly appointed by the supreme leader. After this pre-rigging takes place, regime higher ups often employ age-old tactics — such as media manipulation, ballot stuffing, and vote cancellation — to attempt to alter the outcome. Some prominent reformists believe it will take an additional 5 million votes to compensate for improprieties.”
Compare with America:
“Only candidates deemed sufficiently loyal to capitalist ideals are permitted to run by the Fortune 100, America’s 100 “super delegates” who are all either directly or indirectly appointed by the supreme economic leadership. After this pre-rigging takes place, regime higher ups often employ age-old tactics — such as media manipulation, e-vote manipulation, and e-vote cancellation — to attempt to alter the outcome. Some prominent reformists believe it will take a viable entirely new third party to compensate for improprieties.”
Same song, different words.
In other news, Obama has announced that single-payer health insurance is “off the table,” none of the criminals from the previous maladministration will be prosecuted, torture photos will not be published, the public cannot be enlightened on which insider cronies received TARP funds or how much they got, the foxes who created this financial meltdown (Bernanke, Summers) are now in charge of guarding the henhouse, and we need to expand our insane self-destructive quagmire in Afghanistan.
Bill E Pilgrim
It reminds me of that Onion headline: “Diebold error leads to release of election results months early.”
Now I’m just waiting for the Wingnuts to claim that Ahmadinejad is a leftist.
Actually, yes, I am surprised. As the real power is with the clerics, it seems weird to risk a national conflagration over the usually rather powerless president post. I suspect Ahmadinejad must have managed to gain quite a bit of real political power compared to former presidents of Iran. (Then again, there’s little reason to believe that a theocracy is run by the sharpest tools in the shed.)
Hard to say which is worse, lying about the vote totals or simply ignoring them and forbidding people to count them. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
The problem with this scenario is that the election wasn’t official until Khamenei certified it. Now that he has, any change in his position would be the same as announcing that in spite of the divine inspiration that is his ultimate source of authority, he was led astray. No Iranian Supreme Leader could admit this sort of thing that blatantly and expect to hold onto power.
Sully’s site has had terrific coverage of the Iranian election so far. This particular comment from a reader struck me as being as close to explaining “what happened” as anything else I’ve heard, yet; I’m hoping he’s way off about civil war in Iran, but with news that as many as 100 have been killed thus far in post-election violence, and Mousavi’s possible arrest, he might be close to the mark:
Also via Sully, this from Juan (not John!) Cole, which sounds like as good an explanation yet:
I really encourage you to follow the links in sulli’s blog. Already some religious leaders from the top are calling for annulling the election and running it again. and things are spreading beyond Teheran. This does not seem over, not yet.
Kevin Drum’s theory seems more likely to me — that they cooked the books so obviously to try and foment some public dissent, which would then give them an excuse to crack down on the Greens.
Can you imagine how many neocon heads would explode if the gov’t of Iran fell? I am going to be hopeful and pray that this leads some where productive for the Iranian people and the rest of the ME.
Only thing we can do.
I’ve been reading Sully’s “There’s something happening” links for days, and I expected exactly this to happen. Next, I expect some rioting and protesting, then they will get gunned down in the streets and we won’t do anything.
Because we can’t.
I’ve been following on The Daily Dish, and I fully agree that this is by no means over. My intention was simply to point out why Dave’s scenario fell outside the realm of the plausible.
I am, at best, an armchair commentator when it comes to this subject, but it seems to me that at this point there is no way that Mousavi becomes President, or even that there will be an election redo without Khamenei being ousted as Supreme Leader. This is not to say, however, that the clerics’ regime as a whole will fall, and so I am suspicious (albeit without any factual backing) of the motivations of Iranian religious leaders who call for annulment. They may just be positioning themselves for greater power in a post-Khamenei, but still cleric dominated Iran.
As I think everyone has said, of course there was gonna be foul play. But the degree to which it happened, how little they tried to make it seem legitimate, the sheer absurdity of the results, is what surprised me.
Well, maybe. Khamenei’s had some tension with Ahmadinejad. Broke to the surface with the firing of Larijani as nuclear negotiator, which was clearly against Khamenei’s wishes.
Also, Ahmadi has provoked big sections of the clerical establishment by accusing them of corruption.
So, yes, this was a test of 1) whether Khamenei was sick enough of Ahmadi’s antics to get rid of him, and 2) whether Khamenei and the Republican Guard felt strong enough in their own right to fuck over Rafsanjani, Nateq-Nouri, and other clerical heavyweights.
We found out the answer something fierce. If this auto-coup holds, there are going to be some BIG shakeups in the mullah establishment.
A lot of analysts expected shenanigans – or a last-minute populist surge for Ahmadinejad. But few expected this bald a power-grab.
I almost think Mahmoud might have won in an honest vote. He’s delivered more extensive public services than any leader in Iranian history.
They made a show of stealing it. This is a shot across the bow at Khamenei’s rivals in the hierarchy and the wider world.
You win the thread.
The problem is that the people of Iran believed it.
Well, the question is: Is this a new Tiananmen? And remember that while the government cracked down after Tiananmen, they pursued tremendous economic liberalization in order to maintain their legitimacy.
With the Reform movement calling into question the very legitimacy of the regime, I think this is a VERY interesting development in the long term future of the regime.
Keep an eye on the Guardian Council and Assembly of Experts.
The Grand Panjandrum
Nor should we, if we had that ability.
Here something from Laura Rozen’s blog:
Don’t you love it when the “divine assessment” card is played to get to the truth, as it were? I wished I had a god that would do that for me, but I got stuck with the plate of pasta.
Brick Oven Bill
Islamic theocracies have a cycle. They are installed, and then impose increasing levels of religious purity on the population until the point, in any economy more advanced than goat-herding or poppy-growing economy, that things collapse, and a dictator takes over. See Shah, Tito, Hussein, etc., etc.
The best example of a dictator who tried to force the transition from Islam to modernity was Ataturk. Look him up. His efforts will in time fail as well, because of the power of the Islamic Belief System. Mohammed understood the hearts of men. Ataturk’s ban of Islamic headgear in Turkey was recently lifted.
This chart via Sully is very interesting. That structure has to change before “change” will come to Iran. And good luck with that during any of our lifetimes.
Added: Looks like we’ve all been hangin’ with Sullivan.
This is why I cant figure out TPM’s obsession with the election. Josh acted as if the new guy may win, as if Amajinawhatever was going to relinquish power (and thus be jailed or killed or whatever).
How did he not foresee this?
Ann B. Nonymous
Tito was Muslim? Bricko, put down the paint thinner and switch off the midget lesbian wrestling.
The chart used to read US Government-> Shah -> Secret police. Change did eventually come. My guess is change will come again at some point, but it won’t be any less messy than the last time it came.
Death By Mosquito Truck
Fucking leftists in Iran just need to get over it. Besides, there’s no difference between the candidates. And Al Moussavi is fat.
Tito? Yugoslavia was an islamic theocracy?
I guess I should not be surprised, although I will admit to being disappointed, and having bought into TV opinionators who said they’d be flabbergasted if Ahmadinejad got back in.
At least Mary Matalin is unlikely continue claiming that what’s going on in Iran is thanks to eight years of Dubya spreading freedom and democracy in the Middle East–small consolation though that may be.
Did anybody else see her say that on the Situation Room the other day?! I had to turn the TV off, so unfortunately I missed seeing what I’m sure was Wolf’s penetrating follow-up question wherein he strongly challenged that assertion.
@Ann B. Nonymous: I don’t know about Tito, but Jermaine definitely is. ;)
Brick Oven Bill
Tito was an Infidel ruling a mixed population in Yugoslavia. Things were peaceful back then. There have been problems since he left office.
The Grand Panjandrum
@Death By Mosquito Truck: And that beard? Please! I could shave my dogs ass and walk him backwards to get a more appealing look.
At least, Ahmawhatshisname has that Charles Mansion Crazy Eye shit going on.
Did people actually think Khamenei was going to let someone other than Ahmadalphabet win
Probably it was important to cook the numbers to show that there was no “Obama Effect”, like in Lebanon. The Great Satan is just too good a thing to let go.
But Ahmadalphabet is seriously weakened by this.
So the wingers were saying that Iran is on the brink of democracy and we need to invade?
Tito is the obvious nutty pick here, but most people wouldn’t have called Hussein’s Iraq an “Islamic theocracy” either. Baghdad had more bars per capita pre invasion than NY city, highest rate of women in college in the middle east, etc, etc.
I’d also argue that Iran under the shah was far more about glorifying the shah than god.
Both leaders used god the same way the American taliban does, but I don’t think either one of them really believed it any more thanDick Cheney or Don Rumsfeld did.
Just to reiterate two points made earlier here:
1) Reform candidates have won in the past.
2) The really shocking thing is how blatantly Khamenei appears to have rigged the vote in Ahmadinejad’s favor. They could have easily gotten away with a closer result, but for some reason they decided to go with results that are completely unbelievable.
In any case, Juan Cole has a pretty good rundown here.
This from the NYT is what got me:
They didn’t even TRY! And it’s not like Moussavi would’ve been some huge radical change.
I think I just saw that they’ve nullified the election. Not sure and I haven’t seen it repeated, but I’m going to Sully’s to see because he really seems to have the scoop on all things Iran today.
Like it. LOL
On a serious note, my take is that this seriously clips Tehran’s ability to project mayhem, if they have to deal with reformist anti-adventurists at home.
You can only carry that out credibly if your society heavily backs your moves.
Regardless of what Al-Jazeera is trying to spread (they actually said “defeat for Obama admin, blah blah” – the same line as the conservopundits), folks in Damascus, South Beirut, Gaza and the West Bank are noticing.
Brick Oven Bill
This is exactly right MikeJ. The dictatorship is the only form of government strong enough to stand up to the Islamic teachings. The Shah and Saddam wanted little or nothing to do with religion and I believe actively suppressed it. The dictator can also pick up the pieces of the economy and sell oil.
The Saudis are something different, they use religion as a tool to maintain their dictatorship. The royals drink. They like Jack Daniels. This I know. But Ahmedinejad is a true Believer, as far as I can tell.
@Brick Oven Bill:
Muslims comprised 8.9% of the Yugoslavian population in 1981, the year after Josip Broz Tito died. If he was an infidel, what was he an infidel to in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia?
Not even an epic fail. Just plain ol’ fail.
Death By Mosquito Truck
@Brick Oven Bill:
That’s sorta the equivalent of a near-sighted person saying “as far as I can see”, BOB.
Oops, looks like Mary maybe forgot to square her talking points with The Walrus before going on. Although I do suppose there is a non-zero chance that Wolf maybe asked her about that after I turned off the TV in disgust.
You make a good point though; I didn’t think of that. But it would not surprise me in the least if they did try to argue both sides simultaneously as you suggest.
Or how about this:
“We just need to do a little bombing to, you know, help the democracy along.”
OK. Maybe you can add 7.7% Albanians and define them as majority Muslim. Still a fail on BOB’s part.
What happened was that the election monitoring commission declared the election results invalid. I don’t think that this necessarily means anything however. The Supreme Leader and the Assembly of Experts are still in a position to accept the results at face value should they so choose. If Khamenei stays in power, all that will happen is that a goodly portion of the commission will find themselves swept up in the purges that will follow this election.
Why did people think the Ayatollah would have allowed someone other than Ahmad to win? Because the previous Iranian President, Khatami, won back in 1997. Sure, the job is toothless when compared to the unbending totalitarian power of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali “Cheater Cheater” Khamenei, but people had hopes that the clerics would let the people have their way again here.
Problem is, Ayatollah Khamenei hates Mousavi. And Khamenei was relying on Rove’s “Math”, believing that even in the face of Ahmadman’s well-documented unpopularity at home that somehow the crazy guy would stay in office. When the polling came in otherwise, that’s when you get this heavy-handed result in. And guys, that results chart they’re showing? I swear to FSM that’s an algebra equation, 2y+3=x.
Or a far-sighted person saying “as far as I can pee”
“A committee of respected Ayatollahs (the spiritual fighters) have requested that the election be invalidated for the purpose of restoring the people’s trust in the Islamic Republic. We request the people to stay calm and not to provoke the government agents. ”
Crezzy shit be going on here.
Thanks, Charon. I just read about it. It is a hopeful thing even so. Christiane Amanpour has done some really great reporting by phone from the scene. I can only guess she got a sat phone because no other calls are going through. She really is the awesome.
No matter who wins the Iranian election, the Ayatollahs have an iron grip of foreign policy decisions, so the effect is minimal for our interests, no matter who wins.
Though the public tone would sound more congenial, I would rather the figurehead represent the true intentions of the Mullah puppeteers. Plus, the rage against the ruling order will continue to mount toward critical mass to where counter revolution breaks out, which is likely the only way the country will change, in the end.
That said, who wins matters greatly to the everyday lives of average Iranians, via kitchen table daily living issues.
Ahh, the old “capitalism is merely a stage on the way to communism” argument.
I am no expert on Iran. I can only read and watch and hope. But I really think it’s possible that some of the mullahs are shitting a brick. I don’t think they ever anticipated that Ahmadinnerjacket (love that one!) Would lose or that people would take to the streets. One ominous sign for the mullahs is that there seems to be quite a bit of unrest occurring in two places they would not have expected: outside Tehran and in the very neighborhoods in Tehran where the 1980 revolution began. That cannot be reassuring to them regardless of how tight a hold they think they have.
Nope, it’s the “peoples who have lived for many centuries with totalitarian governance, tend to leap from one revolt to the next” argument.
CNN posted Twitter responses of random people that know even less about Iran than I do screaming “fraud! Moussavi really won! This will not stand!”, presumably inbetween crunches of cheetos.
Yeah, like diamondblu82 is an expert on Iranian politics. Just when I thought the media couldn’t get worse…
Patience, Grasshopper. Time is cyclical.
What did you expect in a world where Shep Smith is a voice of reason?
I haven’t followed any of this closely (cos I expected Amanutjob to win without obvious shenanigans), but has Mousavi said anything about the Holocaust one way or another?
Not that I expect the Iranian regime to express more sympathy to Jews, let alone drop its hostility to Israel. However affirming historical reality would be a small yet positive step in U.S.-Iran relations (that is if the reformers prevail).
As random people, myself included, spout off about this more and more, Slaney Black’s point @24 really should get greater attention from the media:
The results are fishy because of the margin of victory and the percentage of the vote that Ahmadinejad received in his opponents’ strongholds; not because he won. Ahmadinejad wining, even his managing to avoid a run-off, was always a very real possibility. Given this, it’s a good idea to consider other reasons that the vote was rigged, including the Kevin Drum theory that Anton Sirius referenced @19 or Dave’s theory @6, although I find the latter implausible.
Mousavi is first and foremost an intellectual. He has said in interviews (including an excellent one with Joe Klein in TIME magazine, okay stop snickering now) that history as it happened needs to be acknowledged as it empirically happened, which includes acknowledgment of the Holocaust. It may not necessary signal a change in support for the Palestinians/Hezbollah but as far as changes in attitude in the presidency of Iran it’s a HUGE leap forward. I’m not entirely certain if there is a litmus test regarding Israel for the presidential candidates, from Mousavi’s attitude I’m guessing they regarded it as not important. Or he was their set-up guy from the beginning.
Did people actually think Khamenei was going to let someone other than Ahmadalphabet win?
This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions. (But what’s going on in Iran right now still matters.)
Why not? Much like in American elections the candidates are pre-approved.
The Grand Panjandrum
One nagging question has bothered me since the results of this election where announced. How in the hell did they count all those paper ballots so fast?
“…..in a world where Shep Smith is a voice of reason….”
Great. Now I hear the voice of the movie trailer announcer dude.
Here’s another dog-bites-man story:
People have pointed out that a reform candidate (Khatami) won once.
This time around though, the mullahs did their best to ensure that Khatami did not emerge as a candidate. He withdrew and backed Mousavi. What I don’t understand is why they allowed Mousavi to be one of the presidential candidates. Unless this is an elaborate plan to destroy the reform movement, it seems to me that all they needed to do was clear only Ahmadinejad and candidates even further to the right of him, and let it go at that. Voter turnout would have been lower yes, but they’d have the same outcome without the street battles and the messiness of the Iranian committee of election monitoring declaring the election invalid.
Well, I suppose if you’re senile, that proves Tito was a Muslim.
@jetan: Good, it means that the conditioning is working.
BOB’s statement works equally well for capitalist democracies with slight changes:
Christian capitalist democracies have a cycle. They are installed, and then impose increasing levels of laissez-faire capitalist purity on the population until the point, in any economy more advanced than goat-herding or poppy-growing economy, that things collapse, and a dictator takes over. See the Romanoffs, the Confederacy, the Hindenburg government in Germany in the 20s, etc., etc.
Likewise, BOB works for Western democracies if we paraphrase to:
The dictatorship is the only form of government strong enough to stand up to the social darwinist laissez faire capitalist teachings. The Nazis and the Soviet communists wanted little or nothing to do with a true capitalist free market and I believe actively suppressed it. The dictator can also pick up the pieces of the economy and sell arms.
A few thoughts about the Iranian election.
The neocons want the government of Iran to fall. They will view it as vindication for their “democracy spreading” exercise in Iraq. It won’t be, of course — there’s been a strong undercurrent of democracy bubbling under the surface in Iran for decades, periodically threatening to burst forth and destroy the theocracy — but if the Ayatollahs are deposed, we will never hear the end of the Gingrich wing of the party explaining that it was because of George Bush’s decision to provide the Iranians an example of democracy right net door.
The part that strikes me as the most absurd is the margin of victory. 65% of the popular vote? Really?
If you’re going to lie, at least use a plausible lie. Don’t tell everyone that you won by thirty points when all indications were pointing at a narrow Reform party victory.
OT — More wingnut violence. But this time it’s not domestic terrorism — just a botched robbery and attempted murder of an entire Hispanic family.
Minutemen executive Shawna Forde and two other Minutemen associates were arrested for a home invasion and the murder of a father and his 9-year-old daughter. The mother survived the attack. Officials say they tried to hunt down a second daughter because they didn’t want to leave any witnesses, but she wasn’t home at the time. According to Forde’s family, she had talked about using robberies to finance Minutemen activities.
Gee, I wonder if we’ll be hearing about this every night on Lou Dobbs?
Has there ever been anything more ridiculous than a “news” channel reading uninformed tweets from people who are uninformed because they get all their information from the Twitter channel? It’s like a self-reinforcing cycle of stupid.
@LD50: That goes nicely with this Sullivan post which, if you pay attention to is, states that no matter who wins, the IDF must bomb.
Still waiting to hear from BOB why it would matter that Tito was an infidel ruler (as defined by Islam) in a non-Muslim majority nation (Yugoslavia).
OK I’m lying. If I never see BOB’s musings again on this blog, I’d be OK with it.
Yes. Because TPTB only allow candidates to run if they are acceptable. Something changed (or Kevin Drum is right),
Wile E. Quixote
Is it just me or does Ahmadalphabet look a lot like the late Bob Denver?
Check out these pics. Here’s a picture of a young Bob Denver taken when he was in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and here is a recent picture of Mahmoud Ahmadalphabet. Did Bob Denver ever take a vacation in Iran? Was there a romantic interlude there with a sultry Persian beauty? Are the reasons for Mahmoud Ahmadalphabet’s hatred of the west and the United States not rooted in Iranian nationalism Islamic idealogy but rather in the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadalphabet is in reality Bob Denver’s illegitimate son? If we translated The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and Gilligan’s Island into Farsi and then broadcast them into Iran would this calm him down?
Apparently they are shouting “Allah o Akbar” from the rooftops (at 4am). Crazy stuff.. hasn’t happened since 1979 apparently.
@Wile E. Quixote: Ahmawhatever looks a lot like my dad if you imagine him without the beard. My dad doesn’t exactly appreciate the comparison.
@Wile E. Quixote:
Aha! I knew it wasn’t a mere coincidence that the broadcast of The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island and the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran occured in the same year!
Everyone in the west wants it to fall, just in different ways. The neocons want it to fall through bombing and external influence and liberals want it to fall through elections or (if necessary) internal unrest.
The neocons will take this outcome if the masses prevail (I think it’s highly unlikely, as much as I would welcome it) but sure as hell they’ll find a new ‘greater threat than Russia’ to the US over there that needs to be nuked. I look forward to the spinning of Turkey as the new center of the axis of evil.
And I take some issue with the analyses of why the election rigging was so ham-fisted. Remember that the supreme leader is the supreme religious leader. Yes, perhaps he panicked, but how often are religious leaders not ham-fisted? When you propose that the invisible man in the clouds made this win possible, why would a divine win be a narrow one? Wouldn’t God make it a blowout?
Even if the reformers prevail, the neocons would still want to bomb Iran because the Iranians wouldn’t build statues of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh to express their thankfulness.
To think that Bill Kristol slaved over a hot PC monitor for that nation. Such ingrates!
I think a lot of people, including John, are unaware of the extent to which Iran is (was?) the closest thing to a genuine democracy in the middle east, modulo Israel. Certainly, it’s a democracy confined within the limits of what candidates are acceptable to the Guardian Council, but it has genuinely competitive elections at all levels and surprise results at times.
The depth of the anger currently being shown is to a great degree the product of the amount of legitimacy the process has previously had.
Compare it to the outrage that would have followed had we all known we voted for Obama (if you did, I realize I’m making an egregious assumption here but go with me for a second) and it was announced by the election commission that Grandpa McCain had won by 65/35. All of a sudden the concept that we hold free and fair elections (which Iranians pride themselves upon, even within the framework the mullahs allow) would be turned upon its ear. The reaction could have been just as strong.
Democracy is like being pregnant. Either you have it or you don’t. Never just a little bit.
There are many shades of democracy. The Swiss form of governance place a much higher premium on direct participation, including mandatory voting, popular referendum measures, and the common experience of having several elections in a year.
Yes there are many types of shades of democracy, which is, in effect, the people choosing their leaders by whatever mechanism. When that is not the end result. then it is a sham democracy, a figleaf for autocratic rule which are the Mullahs in Iran.
@Comrade Stuck: Yes, but a free and fair election can only be the result of a democratic process.
We know that state and municipal elections in the US are often wracked with corruption, and yet we still consider such elections to be democratic.
I agree with the point you are making, I would merely substitute ‘free’ in place of ‘democratic’. And not in the nationalistic sense, more as in ‘uncoerced’.
@Comrade Stuck: Did you need a new computer? Did you get it? Am I going crazy?
Oh, I see what your saying. Yes “free” would be better if we were not all flawed humans. Maybe someday, when we reign in the right winger authoritarian types that infect every country and could care less about free.
Meanwhile – Philosophy is a walk on a slippery rock :-)
yup, it arrived earlier this week. A Dell this time and I like it much better than the Gateways I’ve always bought.
@John Cole: Yeah, that particular missive make me ill. The same folks who wanted us to invade Iraq because Saddam wouldn’t kneel before them the first time out want to scorch Iran now because of the 1979 revolution.
Fuck these bastards. Fuck them with a plunger handle.
@Dave: @JasonF: Frankly I’m surprised they aren’t calling for invasion right now from Iraq AND Afghanistan.
Look I sympathize with people who want payback for 1979, but good god that is not a reason to want bomb a country to hell and back.
Folks assuming fraud absent hard evidence of fraud should consider the consequences. Look back at everything you’ve read, be critical, and ask whether it’s real evidence or rumor and/or inference. I’m skeptical. I remember the immediate response to the 2004 Venezuelan referendum, after which evidence of fraud was ginned up out of thin air by interested parties and didn’t pan out what-so-ever.
I want reform in Iran, but think about the danger of emboldening what may be a small minority of Iranians who voted for Moussavi and are willing to fight for their vote. They see the Western media having their back and imagine our governments will as well, but I suspect we’re too entangled elsewhere to provide material support. A number of people who I greatly respect are speaking way too forcefully given the scant evidence of actual fraud.
@Zach: Zach, there’s a piece of evidence out there which is absolutely damning (besides the Juan “That other Cole” Cole piece on the geographic distribution of votes.) That’s the picture on this page. In the best case for the roughly linear map they show, the two data sets should be Poissonians with different scale factors. In that case, their square roots, if plotted against one another, should show additive Gaussian noise with variance 1/4 (see this wiki page for details).
The figures the IRI released would require divine intervention to occur. They are, frankly, just too good.
Well, that or they’re fraudulent. In this case, they’re fraudulent.
Nate Silver took a look at that chart. His analysis is that the chart doesn’t say what it seems like it does. Commenters on his site raise methodological questions that might invalidate Silver’s position, but I thought I would share the link anyway.
@Anton Sirius: The problem is that its only been thirty years since the last revolution. You can’t go around gunning down protestors in the street while you still have people who remember the last guy who went around gunning down protestors in the street.
@Charon: I have nearly-infinite respect for Poblano. In this case, though, he’s wrong.
Yes, given knowledge of the final outcome, one can often pick a series of waves which can make the pattern of releases appear very linear. However, if one knows the final outcome prior to the counting, then there’s something *very* wrong with the election.
I usually love Nate Silver, but he’s committing a tautology here — “When I homogenize the results, the results are homogeneous!” When you randomize chunks of data and then average sections of the randomized data, you would expect to get things fairly close to the average of the whole.
What makes people suspicious is that election results are almost never randomized; some areas will get their ballots in quicker while others will be slow, and there is often a powerful urban/rural bias in this. Sure, if the country reported in nice fifteen percent chunks with every single region reporting the same percentage of their vote each interval, you’d expect to get a nice straight line. But that almost never happens.
He’s right in that the straightness of the line is not proof, but it’s still awfully suspicious, and when combined with the other things Juan Cole pointed out — Khamenei instantly approving the results instead of waiting the three days, regions and cities not matching their usual pattern from previous elections, etc, it all looks quite questionable.
Actually, you *wouldn’t* expect that. If you take the votes in random order, you’d expect two Poisson processes, where the variance is roughly proportional to the value. That’s the basis of my argument above — that graph is laughable.
Bob In Pacifica
Steve S. wrote: “Much like in American elections the candidates are pre-approved.”
But by whom?
I knew a guy who was in the Army Rangers in the late fifties, early sixties. He was on a HALO team in Vietnam before anyone knew there were American troops in Vietnam. He was an expert shooter. They’d put his company in an airplane, fly them somewhere that looked tropical, land the plane and tell them to shoot black people.
He said that one time his company was put in an airplane. They were in the air for 24 hours. When they landed, back from where they came, they found out that JFK had been shot. His company had been put up in the air to be ready to fly to anywhere in the U.S. in case riots broke out after the assassination. There were also units flown back from Germany, apparently. But no riots broke out.
That’s the difference between the Iranians and Americans. When their election, or country, is stolen they fight. We don’t.
Something tells me that no matter what happens in Iran over the next week, there’ll be lots of pressers with Aquavelvajad grinning away.
Exactly. It was really quite naive to believe that the mullahs were going to allow the “reformer” (so called) to win this election. The fix has been in for quite some time. And don’t think for a moment that this is the beginning of some sort of revolution. After the regime’s police and security forces crack a few skulls (which they’re doing right now), the protests will evaporate. Game, set, and match.
And by the way, the odds of an Isreali air strike on Iran just went up dramatically. It’s only a matter of time.
Before everyone gets too carried away here, please read this essay in the Sunday Guardian.
I, for one, am FAR from convinced that this election was stolen. And given the amount and scope of the many lies fed to me during my lifetime about Iran, I feel especially entitled to be skeptical about the election coverage this time.
Mocking irrelevant characteristics is unbecoming. I don’t like the guy, but his name has nothing to do with it, and mocking it just because it’s not one-syllable doesn’t do you any favors.
You must be new here.
@techno: Let’s see… some PhD candidate or Juan “I’ve Been Fucking Right For How Long” Cole? Who to choose, who to choose.
We like to joke that Obama has serious skill at making his opponents flip out. Hillary, McCain, & the GOP can attest to that. Dare we add the entire political leadership of Iran to the list?
@Doug H.: Not to mention Robert “I put the Fisk in Fisking” Fisk’s article in today’s Independent.
He’ll always be my hairy Jake Gyllenhaal.
I’m not sure why people are arguing with BOB. All he’s doing is talking about pies.
I love that greasemonkey extension.
I don’t have the pie extension – I just read what BOB actually says and then assume that it’s about pie (or sex).
I had the exact same train of thought as John. What is weird, and which I did not expect, is that they would have made it a landslide for A. Bush knew better than that in 2000. It has to be close, duh.
So did they want there to be riots that they could then squash, as Drum speculates? What the hell would that achieve except for there to be even more pissed off people? How is pissing people off good for staying in power? I do not get it.
Anonymouse, I think it started with Stephen Colbert, who of course plays an idiot, and we’re all just trying to be him because we love him, and we know we’re idiots too. Is my theory.
@ Doug H
You pick your “experts” using any method you choose. But as for me, Juan Cole’s track record doesn’t impress me one little bit this time around because as something of an expert on the subject, I think he is pulling his stats out of his butt.
But none of this much matters to me. I am nearly 60 and I have been hearing about how bad the Iranians are my whole life. I am talking about the lies we have been told repeatedly about Iran since at LEAST 1953.
I had an Iranian roommate in college whose brother had been tortured to death by the CIA-trained Savak. When the story of Savak has become common knowledge in USA, THEN I will stop worrying about the lies we have been told by our own government about the people of Iran.
I haven’t read all the comments on this and I see that you’ve already updated so I don’t know if we’ll revisit this, but this is one of the few posts I’ve seen you write, John, that I really wanted to respond to.
I guess the best way to describe it is by thinking of your favorite sports’ team in years that they were obviously awful, but still having it in your heart that they’d get to the Superbowl.
You just had hope that things would turn out the way they’re supposed to. It’s all about hope. Hope for a better world. I didn’t expect Ahmadinejad to lose. But the reality that there was a large swell of support for his opponent gave me hope. Hope that Iran COULD elect a leader that could work on a rational level to increase the world’s stability. And especially after Obama’s election, I think I, at least, have a lot of that kind of hope. He’s not perfect but after 8 years of Bush, he’s someone you have some trust in not steering us toward The Final Confrontation ™.
And I think, at the heart, that’s what the whole progressive movement is about. Hope that through peaceful (as an election is supposed to be) victories, we can move the world FORWARD. I’ve always felt that conservatives feel that through peaceful (or a variety of other) means, they can achieve some previous Greatness, some other time when they were happy (even if a ton of minorities of some stripe or another had the short end of the stick).
It’s all about hope to move forward. And the fact that there was some kind of uprising against Ahmadinejad’s regime gave me a lot of hope, the kind of hope that had me talking it up whenever I got the chance. So maybe I expected this outcome. That doesn’t mean I didn’t hope the hell out of hope that it could have turned out differently.
DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal)
I kinda like Ahmineedofajihad, sounds more loony. If the foo shits, wear it.
this posture of the sophisticated cynic would carry more weight if it was asserted before the election. where was your bravura then?
iran has elected a moderate before in khatami. it’s not like it’s unheard of.
we can thank your buddy bush for amadinejad being in power. the nitwit’s “axis of evil” speech fatally injured the moderates and empowered the hardliners.
now this i don’t know what to make of:
Before everyone gets too carried away here, please read this essay in the Sunday Guardian.
did you see on cnn an iran expert from carnegie endowment? karim sadjadpour. he said mousavi is azeri. an ethnic class related to azerbaijan. he said amadinejad won the azerbaijani vote in iran. he compared that to mccain winning the black vote instead of obama. it’s too improbable to be believed.
Hold on right there!
Can people just make a note of this for the future? Long-term right-wing troll Brick Oven Bill just:
1) Endorsed a Stalinist regime by noting approvingly the stability it brought through repression.
2) Strongly hinted that the “problems” which arose after Tito in the former Yugoslavia were the fault of Muslims, the pinciple victims of genocidal crimes.
This isn’t even fail. It is apologetics for Stalisnism and anti-Muslim Serbian nationalism.
They should be thrown back right at the Brick Oven each and every time he posts on a liberal site. BOB – Stalinist hack, Milosevic apologist, in his own words.
somebody in the comments section in the guardian also points out the azeri factor and mousavi losing his hometown.
somebody mentioned robert fisk. as’ad had issues with fisk’s quality of reporting on the elections in lebanon.
It is sad when I read Fisk on Lebanon. He really sounds out of it: lazy in what he writes. This article he wrote about the Lebanese election contains way too many errors in one short piece. He does not understand what is meant by “the central bloc” reference in Lebanese politics: he thinks that it includes Hizbullah when the reference is only for those deputies who are neither with March 8 or March 14. He talks about proportional representation in the Lebanese political system when there is no such thing. He talks about “the Lebanese people” following the Western press: this last sentence tells you who he talks to. Do the poor people in Akkar or in the Biqa` follow the Western press like he thinks all Lebanese do? Notice that his refernces to the Hariri family are devoid of references to the Saudi sponsors and the Salafi component of the movement.
Interesting, though Robert Fisk does actually live in the Lebanon, has done for years, and has the longest contact list of Middle Eastern sources of any Western journalist I know of.
i just googled as’ad & robert fisk. he lists more of his inaccuracies.
Respectfully, Michael: nonsense. On three grounds:
1. Teheran’s “ability to project mayhem” – and presumably you are talking about their support for miscellaneous terrorist/insurgent groups around the region – is low-key enough and well-integrated-enough into their governmental structures that it can only be curtailed as a matter of deliberate government policy (and even then, probably only partially) – why would you assume that a “new” Ahmadinejad-fronted regime would be doing anything different from here on? That they wouldn’t be doing – or not doing – anyway?
2. Carrying out “adventures” against the opinions of the electorate is something ALL governments – even those where the opinions of the electorate actually count for anything (*cough* Iran-Contra *cough*) do: Iran’s is no different. Well, except maybe for relying a bit more on the “Because God Says So” excuse for violent policies.
3. Why do you assume that Iran’s’ society wouldn’t generally approve of (or “back”) their government’s mayhem-projection? As long as they can be told that it only US or Israeli interests that are being harmed, why should Mahmoud-in-the-street give a crap which sect/faction/cell part of his tax rials are going to fund?
@ Wile E. Quixote:
No, more likely make the prospect of a thermonuclear war inevitable. Some atrocities can’t be forgiven….
He’s not taking the votes in random order; he’s averaging chunks. They aren’t independent; even if there was a Poisson distribution in the votes of states, all distribution disappears once you agglomerate that into a single number. Why would you think Poisson is involved at all?
A much more valid argument is that they are cumulative numbers, which by nature will swing much less than interval-chunks, and that they did show a steady descent even if mild.
Really, the thing to do would be to look at the vote announcements for the last election and compare. It’s possible that this is simply the typical pattern for an Iranian election and that the way that votes are counted suppresses the sort of swing we are used to; for example, Iran is all a single time zone.
I put more stock in people experienced in Iranian elections looking at the patterns and percents of various areas and going “what the hell?” I wouldn’t know if a Republican or Democratic candidate was going to win Virginia, for example, but if Arlington and Richmond came in with a vote average that was only a few percent off the statewide average for the republican, I’d know someone was fucking the numbers.
Wile E. Quixote
The comparison to Bob Denver or to Ahmadalphabet?