Friday, June 19, 2009

Because Iranians totally wish they were Republican

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Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

I read elsewhere some words of wisdom from Henry Kissinger, who said that Obama is right to not take sides in Iran's current election drama. Without going into it too much here, it's very rarely that I agree with Kissinger on anything. But, quite frankly, his brand of conservative is far more desirable than the current crop who have little to no clue about the intricacies of international relations. Kissinger knew how to dress his deceptions well, and even stumbled across a truth every now and again. Bellowing about Obama's refusal to back Mousavi, on the other hand, fails to take into account how doing so might harm future US-Iranian relations, even if (and especially if) Mousavi is the ultimate victor. In a country where the US is demonized almost as often as Israel, we do ourselves no favors by picking favorites in political disputes. Despite Obama's drastically better grasp of international relations, the image of the US abroad hasn't recovered to the point where we can do anything effective in this situation, other than voice our strong belief that the elections should be judged honestly, and that everyone should have an opportunity to freely speak their mind. It is sad that Kissinger's view on this subject is in the minority in the Republican party -- here's to hoping that won't always be the case.


Jacob S. said...

The point I heard was that if Obama was to make a strong statement and if the US appeared to get involved in support of Mousavi, the Shah could use that against them and fuel further animosity of the US.

Its a tricky situation, to be sure. On the one hand you absolutely want to support and cheer on those Iranian protesters and back the reform candidate, on the other hand it would likely be detrimental to them if we were to get involved. Your classic catch-22, but I think Obama is taking the right track even though it would be nice if he could just voice America's support for the protesters.

In the end, partisan politics aside, this is genuinely inspiring. Americans were raised to, at the least, be suspicious of Iranians and, at the most, to hate them. But when we see these millions of Iranians marching and protesting for freedom, it puts a human face on them and gives us a idea maybe of what the Founding Fathers were willing to do for our freedom.

Andrew said...

True, one minor quibble:

"the Shah could use that against them and fuel further animosity of the US."

The Shah was deposed in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution, succeeded by the Supreme Leader of Iran as appointed by the Assembly of Experts, and a Guardian Council which is passingly similar to our Supreme Court. It is an odd mix of theocracy, democracy, and religious jurisprudence that doesn't really have a parallel in our experience, although it's what I imagine our own government would look like if certain Republicans were to live out their pipe dreams.

Since the Guardian Council decides who can run for President, we can be assured that while Mousavi is somewhat more "moderate" than Ahmadinejad, he's by no means a saint and would probably be only marginally less difficult to work with on issues such as Iran's nuclear programs. He has only a fraction of the power enjoyed by, say, our President, and would serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Leader who could depose him at any time.

I think Obama is right to hammer on the important human rights issues, but at the same time realize that Iran would be largely the same no matter who was elected. What will be most interesting to watch is whether or not Iran's current constitutional form of government survives. Ultimately it is that constitution which puts so much power in the hands of the Supreme Leader, along with the reticence of the Assembly of Experts to restrain him.