Monthly Archives: June 2009

Obama’s lastest on Tehran Protests Makes Sense

Barack Obama latest comments on Iran’s street protests make a lot of sense. Indeed he has taken a couple days, made sense of events and now that he is speaking out, his words seem to be charting the right course, on politics, and as rachel Maddow says, on basic strategery, and on understanding recent history.  Further, he has explained things today in several media interviews in a very accessible way :

Briefly, here’s why the president has not come out supporting the street protesters.  these are the points:

1) Obama does not want war with Iran.

2) Obama does not want to impose American beliefs upon Iranians.

3) Were the US government to publicly support the protesters, it would be the kiss of death to the protest movement. As Obama said, there is not better way to discredit the protesters than to give credence to the charge that they are dupes of the US government.

Here’s what I like about these comments. 1) They are smart and likewise treat the American people and iranian protesters as smart.  2) they recognize the history of US imperialism in Iran: 1953 coup, and elevation to power and support of the shah of iran; 3) they seek to avoid war and the hysteria that is beginning to accompany Republican cries for regime change in iran; 4) they are responsive to the implicit requests of Mousavi and Iranian human rights leaders.

(consider it ample evidence of what Obma thinks, that the State Department has asked Twitter not to go off line today so as to give street protesters a much relied upon tool for communication.)

But common sense never stopped the republican opposition to exploit extremely delicate international affairs for short term sound bites and political gain.  Thanks to Republicans: (“bomb, bomb, bomb iran” Mccain, Pence, Rorbacher, Lieberman, a chorus is building to overtly support the protesters, threaten the iranian government with regime change,” and impose America’s will on the Iranian people. 

Makes me extremely glad I voted last November.


Is Mousavi different than a Week Ago?

From my reading of twitter’s live feeds about the street protests in tehran #iranelection, #tehran, #iran9; it seems to me that the students, intellectuals and other reformists who are curently risking their lives on the streets of tehran desire more than just seeing the election of their candidate validated.

I do not know a lot about Mousavi, but from what i am reading is seems during the campaign, Mousavi ran as a borderline reformer; he was more part of the iranian political elite and theocracy than he was a symbol of resistance. If anyhing it is likely he would be a more reliable pawn of the theocratic elites.  

Until last saturday…

Now he is a hero of a democratic movement.  His stature as a beacon for democracy has grown enormously  in the 3 days since the election because of millions of people flooding the streets and millions more tweeting support. What we are seeing of course is a tsunami of social forces that have been dormant for 30 years and now unleashed, are flooding the streets of Tehran and the global internet. 

The significance of this sheer human release, however, remains unknown.  Mousavi may be a symbol of the street revolution today, but the revolution is already much larger than he is.  

It will be interesting to observe the role he assumes as this plays out. Might he still go on iran tv and urge compromise and reconciliation, which is what I fear, or might he assume the mantle of the opposition, and having been emboldened by events, urge his supporters to to  fight  in the streets for genuine reform: starting with a re-vote (not a re-count) and then systemic reform that institutionalizes freedom of speech and dissent, and perhaps even separates the existing theocracy from the levers of government power.

Obama responds to street violence in Tehran

Keith Olberman tonite started with President Obama speaking about the street violence in Tehran, which he finds deeply disturbing. He cites Iran’s lack of tolerance for political dissent as running against the currents of international law.

But Obama’s words only went so far. the prevailing wisdom is that Obama cannot speak too stridently about the stolen election because Mousavi would then be perceived as a stool pigeon of the U.S. government.  Obama said US does not want to make decisions for Iranians.

Here’s a supplementary take. President Obama risks being branded a hypocrite due our our own stolen 2000 election, which we did nothing about.  Was the 2000 election stolen? Yes. ask Greg Palast. Better yet, ask Justice Souter.

That’s right, the suggestion here is that Obama’s words are limited by America’s  own diminished moral authority, a plague that  spreads into several other Bush era wrongs that have yet to be remedied. 

Obama moral voice here is constrained because  we did nothing when our “Ahmadinejad” became president for 8 years. It serves notice that the president’s voice and actions  might well be constrained on several other fronts as well, unless we act.

Obama Silence on Tehran Protests

News reports of President Obama boarding his plane for Chicago this morning without saying word about the election protests in tehran say more about his mo than it does necessarily about policy. 

In a spring news conference ABC reporter jake tapper (I think) asked Obama why he hadn’t responded immediately to some crisis of the day to which the president responded, (paraphrase here) “I want to know what I am talking about before I open my mouth” 

It seems the Obama m.o. is at play here regarding the Iranian elections.  I don’t begrudge the president for wanting to speak with deliberation. But at the moment the world is experiencing a citizen revolution, the scale of which has not been seen since Tianamon Square 20 years ago.  Obam’s moral leadership as a world leader is also something that a US leader has not had in several decades.

It might be useful were the President to find a way to reconcile deliberation with responsiveness.

At some point during the next day or 2, the Iranian government is likely to move in even fuller force against the protests. Once they are quashed, and Ahmadinejad solidifies control again, it will be too late for Obama to do anything but “congratulate the winner.”  At that point, Obama’s words or his silence will amount to policy, and we all lose.

check out link of people power on streets of Tehran, which demands a response:

Tehran protests

word from the streets of Tehran

Annie-iran-solidarity_normalanascreen RT @persiankiwi: I cannot see directly from my position but am being told many many people in streets – too many to count. #Iranelection

persiankiwipersiankiwitehran is at standstill. all major routes jammed with people. #Iranelection4 minutes ago from web

persiankiwipersiankiwiwe do not know if foreign press are covering this. we cannot access satellites. #Iranelection


Default_profile_normalMrNewsDK RT @persiankiwi: ADVICE – carry photos of imam khomeini. they cannot shoot at us with these. #Iranelection


Hamed_normalhamednz I ran away from there. ppl were saying ‘Alaho Akbar’ then anti riot forces … #IranElection

Default_profile_normalverkut @WordMarvin Look at NYTimes Editorial today. It says everything. They need Ahmadinejad, not serious Iranian politicians. #IranElection

Twitilution in Tehran?

While MSM anchors this morning are wearing their typical morning smiley faces and drinking mornings cups of joe, twitter has a live feed of the thousands of students in Tehran going to Enghelab Square. tear gas, machne guns… the tweets look like this, ” ariehkovler RT: @persiankiwi: call in from Enghelab Sq. Baseej outnumbered, just watching people march.#Iranelection”

With limits of 140 characters, the tweets convey messages of this emerging revolution in almost poetic terms, beneath the radar of the iranian government. Actually the government is doing its best to shut down acess to the internet, but savvy protesters remain at least one or two steps ahead. They are providing live information, with facts, numbers and feelings along with links to photos and video feeds of the action.

All this happening while the MSM congratulates Ahmadinejad on having won the election and declaring  that democracy works in Iran. As for this later claim, we are about to put it to the test, as tanks roll down the streets towards the marchers.

In the last 24 hours, twitter put CNN to shame. using the hashtag #cnnfail, many thousands of live feeds showed cnn what it was missing by contrasting its coverage of skiiing squirrels with live feeds of marchers being skattered by clubs and motorcycles and of at least one demonstrater beaten to death.  CNN was forced by the sudden new media onslaught to give more time to the protests. so much for small victories…

check it out at twitter #iranelection.