Khamenei is likely to go away.

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Syria-flag My view of the Iran situation is that the particular 'ulema/pasdaran/basiij clique now governing Iran is digging a grave for itself with each passing day of unwillingness to compromise, share power or respect the collective right of the Iranians to express their discontent.  Beneath the surface, the 'ulema, the business commmunity and many Iranians are hardeniing in their attitude towards the ruling apparat.  I think there is likely to be a sine curve of resistance that fluctuates between relative quiet and street action.   This will eventually either eliminate this clique or cause a massive change in its policies.  I am not necessarily talking about an end to vilayat e faqih, but there is likely to be a change in the manner of application of this doctrine.

I think Obama is doing the right thing in expressing support for the demonstraters while keeping some distance from them.  Since I  am who I am, I would discreetly provide funds for the opposition, but, that's me. 

Most importantly, the action of the Iranian people has made it virtually impossible for the war party here and in Israel to succeed in dragging us into another one of their adventures.

In the meantime, there is something wonderful happening in re Syria.  pl

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71 Responses to Khamenei is likely to go away.

  1. Bill Wade, NH, USA says:

    I think the immediate losers will wind up being Shah Jr and his Israeli backers, the mainstream media – all their coverage and commentary has backfired as now it’s going to be a very difficult “sell” to attack Iran and it’s “Freedom Fighters” and then eventually the hard-liners in Iran.

  2. J says:

    Colonel,
    With Mousavi id’d as the ‘Butcher Of Beirut’ with American blood on his personal Mousavi hands, how do you think that D.C. will handle Mousavi if he were to wrangle the Iranian Prez position?

  3. “Most importantly, the action of the Iranian people has made it virtually impossible for the war party here and in Israel to succede in dragging us into another one of ther adventures.”
    Hopefuly the war party here and in Israel is also digging its own grave, although like Dracula they will be back from time to time.
    Reporting out of Iran suggests that some adjustments in the structure and operations of the Islamic Republic might be coming. This is not the same as the end of the Islamic Republic itself. At the state to state level, we will still be dealing with the Islamic Republic although the offices and chief officers might be changed.
    On the other hand, it is quite clear that a very large number of Iranians are fed up with certain aspects of their present situation.
    Western media only presented what they had easy access to…metropolitan middle class Tehran. What about the unrest and discontent in the working class areas? How widespread is this? Probably more than one would think given the disintegration of the economy and the unemployment issues etc.

  4. Curious says:

    This is amazing. I finally understand how terrible war actually started. The whole “YB Yeats” thing.
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    ————-
    Mousavi clearly is weak and has lost control. his follower falls apart and turn into angry mob demanding blood and martyrdom. Who knows who controls their communication channel and what orders enter the communication those communication channel.
    Iranian students. Blind of idealism, They don’t know the difference between burning a building or burning the country and the people along with it. Good luck explaining that in the future.
    Iranian status quo. Years of cutting corner, simple thuggery, ideological lies, and massive group think finally strangled everything. I don’t even know anymore, if they know what to do but lack conviction to bear the political cost, or simply flailing around. Their situation is not unique and the solutions are all over the place. It’s basic political dissatisfaction, turns into riot, which in turn coopted by external power. Basic incompetent.
    US policy, biggest CYA, petty power play, grandiose statements and lies. This is a replay of “Iraq WMD” all over again. Clever schemes, media play, finally people die, and everybody plays dumb while somebody has to clean up the mess.
    Amazing.
    My prediction:
    – Iran successfully destabilize
    – Nobody really controls that place after the coup and who knows where all those military technology will go.
    – We will be tangled in massive central asia conflict within a decade. China/Russia.
    – Dollar destabilization, following twin deficit.
    ——
    Bottom line. There are too many things going wrong in Tehran street. Too many people trying to put on blood splattering TV show. And the world WILL get that show.
    But it won’t end like how the clever planners think event will unfold.

  5. BT says:

    PL:
    I really enjoy your blog. I am a neo-pinko who lives in California (Santa Monica no less), and I find the analysis and opinions here to be very candid informed and intelligent.
    Keep it up!
    BT

  6. Mr. R says:

    A retreat under fire is one of the more dangerous maneuvers in war and the same goes in politics, particularly when faced with Coloured-Revolutionaries who are trained to exploit such openings and escalate demands. Khamenei is playing this very well. His sermon last Friday has had its desired effect. The dispute, he says, must be dealt with through official channels and institutions and nowhere else. To do otherwise is to start the escalating demand game outside the structure of the law, and a recognition that those hurling mud have legitimacy to dictate terms. Khamenei has most of the power structure on his side, he has the winning hand right now. They are extending the examination period for checking the vote because of irregularities. Khamenei has said that he is of the opinion that irregularities are insufficient to change the vote… Some might say he shouldn’t have given this opinion and let this process end before pronouncing such, but then again the gap between the candidates is quite large and they’d have to find pretty dramatic fraud to change the results. Musavi has been in cobwebs for twenty years – he really was not that strong a candidate and Ahmadinejad appeals to many who see corruption in the old guard, that guard of which Musavi is a part.

  7. arbogast says:

    What’s happening in Syria?
    There’s a monastery there that is apparently a great place. In the mountains. That’s all I know.

  8. Mark Stuart says:

    Colonel Sir:
    Isn’t financing and propping up the pro-Mousavi opposition just simply delaying the crumbling of a system that refuses, no matter who is in power, to tackle one of the major spoiler of any democracy: corruption? and if it is, then at what cost in and for the future of our security in the region?
    MS

  9. Matthew says:

    Col: You say: “Most importantly, the action of the Iranian people has made it virtually impossible for the war party here and in Israel to succede in dragging us into another one of ther adventures.”
    The ironic cross pollination of issues has begun. See http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/06/iranian-intifada-is-celebrated-in-the-us-while-palestinians-are-still-ignored.html
    You know, the neo-cons didn’t want to see this linkage.

  10. N. M. Salamon says:

    Colonel:
    For what it is worth, I think you are already contributing to the protest through your Governemnt’s attempts to destabilize IRAn [ Mr Bush’s executive Directive was no countermanded by Mr. Obama, Pakistani Officer indicated that other funds [$400 million were also used in the near past from Uncle Sam].
    From the news in MSM and otherwise [see cole etc] this seems to be a protest by the middle and upper classes againt the present regime. Thy do not appear to have the backing of the masses or the army, which is necessary for any meaningful change [see the fall of the Shah]. So whatever happends in the next few days months, Mr. Obama will have to deal with the Iranian government, which does not appear to be in any danger of changing.
    It is, of course, a difficult postion for the USA and Mr. Obama, for the attempted destabilization of IRan does not endear the Irani Government to look kindly at USA. No there will be no war, as the world can not stand a probable oil disruption, one one hand, and since Russia and China among others has recognized the present government, there is no hope of any fancy UN resolution.

  11. JoeC says:

    It is most interesting to see Col Lang and Pepe Escobar at AsiaTimes Online “on the same page” about something in the Middle East!
    See –
    Iran’s streets are lost, but hope returns
    By Pepe Escobar
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF25Ak02.html

  12. Spaniel says:

    COL Lang,
    Is it safe to assume the “good news from Syria” you speak of is the opening of the US embassy?

  13. Dave of Maryland says:

    If the revolution succeeds – which I, like others who have posted, doubt – I don’t think that will make the warmongers go away. They want their war too much to worry about details.
    If the revolution fails, that would seem to make immediate war an imperative.
    Heads, the neo-cons win.
    Tails, the neo-cons win.
    Who put these guys in charge of the world, anyway?

  14. Peter says:

    Over the last several years, the American government has directed hundreds of millions of dollars towards the goal of destabilizing Iran, and has openly talked of working to forment a revolution.
    The idea that the current opposition hasn’t benefited from these funds defies belief.

  15. curious says:

    Interesting. (true/not true?)
    http://tehranbroadcast.com/Secret-negotiations-between-the.html
    According to unconfirmed news, the British Defense Secretary has secretly traveled to Tehran on Sunday, via a commercial Emirates flight from Dubai. This secret trip has lasted one day, during which the British Minister has attended a joint meeting with Dr. Velayati, Khamenei’s advisor in foreign affairs, Manuchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Asghar Mir-Hejazi, Head of the Leader’s Intelligence and Security Office, and Mohammadi Golpaygani, Head of the Leader’s Office.
    In this meeting, the following requests have been made by Ali Khamenei’s representatives:
    1. The UK must stop its moral support for the protests and demonstrations in Iran.
    2. BBC must stop or tone down its coverage of the election fallout and ensuing upheavals in Iran.
    3. The UK must lift the freeze on $1.6 billion Iranian assets in Britain. These assets were frozen in Britain under international sanctions imposed over Tehran’s nuclear program on Thursday, June 18. According to our sources, the assets belong to the Supreme Leader’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei.

  16. zanzibar says:

    For the first time in a long time I watched corporate media while at the gym – Kyra’s interview of David Gergen.
    Kyra was putting out the bait that shouldn’t there be an intervention to prevent genocide. Gergen went for that hook and stated that we can’t do it unilaterally but under the auspices of the UN. Essentially calling for the “blue helmets” to lead the charge. He also mentioned that Joe Lieberman is bringing up a bill that would penalize any company that sells gasoline to Iran.
    So it looks like the plan would be to ratchet up the pressure. What happens to Iran’s support to the Iraqi Shia parties and to Hizballah and Hamas? Does that go with regime change?

  17. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Col Lang, your description of the ‘sine curve’ of quiet-action-quiet-action is the best description of what appears to be unfolding. IMHO, that’s all to the good if it gives people time to adapt without outright civil war.
    Also agree, and ’tis a wonder to behold, that after what those of us in the US and EU and other interested onlookers have seen the past two weeks, the war party — in US or elsewhere — has lost their ‘demon’. The Iranians now look human; in some cases, all too bloody, and wrenchingly human.
    The other surprise for an onlooker like myself has been to see how moving Moussavi’s messages have been; at least the English translations that I’ve seen are articulate, humble, and give the sense that some kind of Iranian cultural Rubicon has been crossed. (I’m in no way qualified to spot when or where it occurred, but one senses that even Moussavi never expected things to unfold this way.)
    Sadly, it appears that the cultural and demographic divide in Iran has become so vast that the ulema/basiji clique genuinely does not comprehend what it’s up against. I don’t know much about Islam, but it seems exceedingly unlikely that it advocates RoboCop, truncheon wielding thugs.
    Appreciate your insights very much.

  18. curious says:

    This is some weird shit. Is this Scowcroft version of quickly stabilizing situation in Iran and subduing the protestors? what the he…
    Everybody knows there are tons of operatives in Iran. The question is why this semi official acknowledgement? (part of bargain?)
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/06/2009624225744811593.html
    US ‘has agents working inside Iran’
    The US has intelligence agents in Iran but it is not clear if they are providing help to the protest movement there, a former US national security adviser has told Al Jazeera.
    Brent Scowcroft said on Wednesday that “of course” the US had agents in Iran amid the ongoing pressure against the Iranian government by protesters opposed to the official result of its presidential election.
    But he added that he had no idea whether US agents had provided help to the opposition movement in Iran, which claims that the authorities rigged the June 12 election in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the incumbent president.

  19. WILL says:

    from the moustachioed ZionKon NYT columnist Tom Friedman- an admission that the KSA (Saudis) brought down the Evil Empire. He never stated the obvious reason- blowback for the Invasion of Afghanistan.
    “In a 2006 speech entitled “The Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia,” Yegor Gaidar, a deputy prime minister of Russia in the early 1990s, noted that “the timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to Sept. 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices, and Saudi Arabia quickly regained its share in the world market.
    “During the next six months,” added Gaidar, “oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed by approximately the same amount in real terms. As a result, the Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive.”
    Eventually Bibi, the Israeli Firsters, and the NeoKon Likudniks thru blindness on Palestine will put us in the same position w/ respect to the petro-states as the Soviets which have now vanished from the pages of time.

  20. eakens says:

    “Most importantly, the action of the Iranian people has made it virtually impossible for the war party here and in Israel to succeed in dragging us into another one of their adventures.”
    versus
    “Most importantly, the action of the Iranian government has made it entirely possible for the war party here and in Israel to succeed in dragging us into another one of their adventures.”
    Khamenei needs to go away, otherwise the neocon war-mongers will have a stronger argument as to why Iran must be stopped. The government of Iran is clearly brutal and ruthless, and cannot be trusted, because if this is what they do to their own people, imagine what they would do to Israel.
    That is what is being sold to the populace here today.

  21. Pat Lang,
    He will go away. Everyone does, sooner or later. I don’t, however think that the Islamic Republic is going anywhere. It seems to me that the main and most germane point of your post is that the election brouhaha will de-rail Israeli schemes to sufficiently demonize Iran so as to embroil the U.S. in a war with that country.
    Meanwhile, hyperbole is the order of the day, including reference to genocide. As for being “brutal, ruthless, oppressive, and cruel” to one’s political or ethnic opposition, Iran seems to have a rather long way to go to catch up to such American allies/client states/stooges as Argentina, Chile, Israel, Guatemala and so forth.
    WPFIII

  22. Abu Sinan says:

    Like an Iranian-American journalist said the other night on NPR, it is a case of bad or worse. There is no good side in Iran.
    The opposition is backed and funded by Rafsanjani and his family who are probably one of the most corrupt families on the face of the earth.

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    readerOfTeaLeaves:
    Would a group of Americans from rural Alabama tolerate a group of Americans from the Upper East Side (of New York City) to overthrow the Government of the United States?

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    WPF
    “such American allies/client states/stooges as Argentina, Chile, Israel, Guatemala and so forth.”
    Reflexive lefty drivel. Our “allies and stooges?” you obviously have never had to actually deal with countries like those. pl

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    Babak
    You increasingly sound like an operative of the Iranian state. pl

  26. rfjk says:

    Col
    Looks like no one caught on to your missive about Syria.
    Iran isn’t the only game going down in the Middle East where Obama has his irons in the fire. The last several months of quiet diplomacy have confirmed Hezbollah is only interested in Lebanese politics, not conflict with Israel. That’s provided opportunities for the Syrians to mend relations with the Saudis by non-interference in the Lebanese election and reestablishment of ambassadorial relations with the US. No doubt there were further discussions concerning the Golan and recognition of historic Syrian interests in Lebanon.
    Obama is playing in dozens of sand boxes and the Israelis aren’t privy to any of the castle building going on in any of them. A major factor that drives their hysteria regarding the Obama administration. But if Obama is going to succeed in his policies in the M/E, he needs Syria on board with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as regards the Palestinians. Our end of the bargain is handling the Israelis, which Obama has yet to prove. The settlements crises will decide that very shortly.
    The Iranian mass demonstrations were civil disturbances, not revolution as some imagine them to be. There is of course a civil war of sorts going on among the Iranian elites who actually rule the country. If that fails to address the concerns of reformists and the masses than the odds of revolution from the bottom up are very likely. The “game changer” of the death of “vilayet al-faqih” by allowing Mousavi to run in the election, debates and Khamenei’s blunders in destroying his neutrality and calling out the dogs had exterminated what little authority remained in the peoples view of the Supreme Leader.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    You are entitled to your opinion.

  28. Byron Raum says:

    A quite interesting (and believable) statistical analysis of the vote numbers can be found here :- http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227144.000-statistics-hint-at-fraud-in-iranian-election.html
    What’s unfolding now might be the often over-predicted Obama test. Till now, Obama hasn’t come up against anything that could be fairly easily predicted before it happened. This is the first event of global magnitude that could not be rationally predicted. Can he turn this to American advantage? I am waiting with bated breath.

  29. LeaNder says:

    Dennis Ross, Obama’s long term strategist?
    Obama Looks to Dennis Ross for Strategic Advice
    And events in Iran threaten to complicate the diplomatic strategy Ross had evolved for the Administration on Iran’s nuclear program. So while Ross is being touted as a thinker for the long game, he’ll more often find himself putting out fires across the better part of two continents.

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    Babak
    I had hoped for a more expansive response, but… pl

  31. Allen Thomson says:

    About Syria:
    I assume that some serious talks between the two countries about outstanding issues preceded the embassy reopening announcement.
    What sort of understandings do you think might have been reached about the Hariri and reactor (my favorite) matters? Both of those are somewhat outside the control of the US, but the US could certainly exert influence on how they’re pursued.

  32. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Babak, we live in complicated times.
    What are the demographics of Alabama? Are 70% of them under the age of 30? Are they well educated? Do they read poetry? Or have they led Spartan, hand-to-mouth lives that left them confused, desperate, and resentful?
    If you insinuate that Wall Street has captured the US government, I happen to agree with you. If you further insinuate that rural Alabamans can’t figure that out, then I disagree. I suspect they can figure it out.
    I also don’t know from your question whether the ‘rural Alabamans’ would be thugs using knives, guns, and truncheons, in which case they might prevail in the short term but never be able to recover the value of what they’d fought to protect.
    If, on the other hand, ‘rural Alabamans’ provide better education, health care, and safe communities than the ‘Upper East Siders’, then over the longer timespan I’d wager on the Alabamans.
    There are simply too many uncertainties and unknown parameters to be able to respond to your question with the level of respect that it deserves. I’m not sure quite what it is you are asking.

  33. jedermann says:

    Consider the inherent contradictions in a theocratic democracy such as the Islamic Republic of Iran. When theocracy and democracy are forced together the result is an unstable compound riven by the necessity for each to render the other impotent. The “corporate cultures” of these systems are incompatible. The problem, bred in the bone, is in the source of authority that each claims for itself. The ultimate authority for theocracy is, of course, God; for democracy it is The People. Neither can truly share power with the other because on the one hand, the divine cannot compromise with the weaknesses of the flesh, and on the other, the authority of people to truly govern themselves must reside in themselves alone.
    The Islamic Republic is in a sense a monster that nature will destroy as ill-adapted to the world it was born into. It may have been a good faith effort to bring the proven virtues of democracy to a highly devout, non-western society that had little experience with the concepts of Humanism that lay beneath modern democratic forms. Some may have hoped that it would serve as a possible model for other Middle Eastern states that might be emerging in the years to come from even more despotic conditions. In any case it must have been a profound underestimation by the Republic’s author of the potential for creative destruction in democratic aspirations, once recognized and given legitimacy.
    Ayatollah Khomeini evidently saw the popular appeal of democracy when he declared the Islamic Republic following his return from exile. The Republic features a popularly elected parliament, president and Assembly of Experts, all embedded in a bureaucratic labyrinth of bodies that institutionalize the theocracy’s final authority over virtually everything. The government is in essence a system of firewalls designed to protect and facilitate the power of the mullahs to run the country. While today the hardliners probably have it about right in rejecting compromise on the election, it will buy them some time, the Republic is finally doomed by the foundational miscalculation that, having cleverly domesticated democracy, the theocrats could forever contain it. Theocracy and a burgeoning democracy cannot coexist. One must eliminate the other as a component in government. The eventual demise of the Islamic Republic is, in my opinion, a foregone conclusion. What is completely unclear is what succeeds it, a pure theocracy, a true republic, a military junta?

  34. DaveGood says:

    Babak may have a point.
    Far as I can tell the following points are acknowledged truths.
    Point One.
    Shortly before the Iran election, all polls, included those conducted by western and American media predicted a heavy Akhemenijad victory.
    Point 2. As far as we can tell support for the “Opposition” is largely middle and upper class based.
    Point three.
    The poor voted for Akhmenijad.
    Point four. The poor always outnumber the middle and upper classes.
    I suspect Akhmenijad actually won, not by the margin officially credited to him, but I think he did win, I wish he hadn’t. I think he is\will be catastrophic for Iran.
    And while we cannot understand why anyone would think Akhmenijad is fit to lead Iran.
    Most of the planet didn’t think G W Bush fit to run a shoeshine.
    And Bush fot two terms.
    DaveGood

  35. DaveGood says:

    Bloody hell! 🙁
    Exactly how many ways exist for spelling the name of the past (And apparently current ) Iran president?
    I’ve found five so far, all from supposedly reputable Western news outlets
    DaveGood

  36. Byron Raum says:

    Although this does not directly relate to the Iranian topics at hand, I would still like to address the issue “Anonymous” raised about the “inherent contradictions in a theocratic democracy such as Iran.” The same criticisms can also be applied to a capitalistic democracy such as the US. Capitalism and democracy are also inherently contradictory. If you don’t believe this, consider the idea of putting the following to vote:
    “Anyone making more than $500,000 should have 100% taxes levied upon them above the $500,000 part of their income, and the resulting taxes should be distributed equally to the people making less than $500,000.”
    If anyone is so idealistic to believe that this wouldn’t pass in the US, I would take the opportunity to point out that it has already done so, in different variants, many times. Yet, the US thrives as a capitalistic democracy. The simple fact is that any human society is an amalgam of competing absolute ideologies. Pointing out contradictions is not useful and is in no way indicative of the viability of the society as a whole.

  37. curious says:

    I suspect Akhmenijad actually won, not by the margin officially credited to him, but I think he did win, I wish he hadn’t. I think he is\will be catastrophic for Iran.
    Posted by: DaveGood | 25 June 2009 at 04:16 PM
    It’s a western backed coup attempt. No doubt about it by now. (not after a giant recruiting ad cia put on washingtonpost Iran article. And the fact, few things are so obvious, random idiot like me can call them out 20 hrs ahead of time.) The google scan on news source division is amazing.
    My take:
    Next is european union. (Favorite cold war tool of Zbig crew.) They will issue statement, conduct “investigation”/delegation, and finally trade war. Shirin Ebadi is in Europe talking.
    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4430613,00.html
    Iran move: Ask china help/favor. They can crush/stop entire europe with one word if they want. combined with bribing the corrupt EU legislators, business game, energy supply/trade play to jam the machinery. It’s basic public relationship/lobbying game. The EU side it’s all Zbig/Obama crew is yanking the chain, they roll over. Basic shake down.
    One thing bothers me: What is Merkel doing? (Iran is Germany major energy supplier and trading partner. Her move doesn’t make sense from German interest point of view.)
    That should be few weeks in the international game. Probably will go away when large event happen in the news.
    After that, trade war. EU, US, UN. (I doubt UN, not with China/Russia)
    The game itself is fairly transparent. Zbig “chessboard” combine with Ross/pro-Israel think-tank output.
    (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. See map on page 12. American global supremacy. You can download the book. it’s on the net somewhere. google it.)
    “The final outcome was also significantly influenced by cultural considerations. The American-led coalition, by and large, accepted as positive many attributes of America’s political and social culture. America’s two most important allies on the western and eastern peripheries of the Eurasian continent, Germany and Japan, both recovered their economic health in the context of almost unbridled admiration for all things American. America was widely perceived as representing the future, as a society worthy of admiration and deserving of emulation.”
    ————-
    This is all down to
    a) Iran’s internal politics. And it’s capability to solve its own social political crisis.
    b) Iran’s ability to control subdued and persuade its population.
    c) Iran’s ability to navigate the basic European politics, And hold on to its massive Asian political advantage. (see wiki map. Its amazing what they accomplish in asia. They should start playing in eastern europe. They can get it all easy in tandem with Russia.)
    d) What the european is going to do.
    Frankly I can’t see what we can do without resorting to tired “black op”, rattling sabre ala Bush/neocon.

  38. Medicine Man says:

    While it is readily apparent that Babak knows more about Iran than most, I can’t help but get the impression that he made up his mind about the protesters from the outset. This is fine. As he points out everyone is entitled to their opinion. The whole Northern Tehran fallacy wears a little thin by this point however.
    Personally, I hope Col Lang is correct. The Iranian people deserve better representation. I have no doubt that in the coming months Ahmadi and his backers will secure their positions. It is the coming years that will be interesting.
    As for the activities of the war party on this side of the pond — vigilance is paramount.

  39. Pat Lang,
    “Reflexive lefty drivel”? I must admit that I seem to be well to the left of where I once was, but I really object to being accused of peddling drivel. While I’ve not traveled to Argentina, Chile, Israel, or Guatemala I think the point I was trying to make; that there are nations who, with the aid, sponsorship, or acceptance of the United States, have engaged in more brutal and repressive behavior toward their citizens than Iran; is a fair one. I should think that Argentina during the “Dirty War” and Israel in its treatment of the captive Palestinian population are apt examples. And we must not forget Iran under the Shah.
    I’ll restate my opinion,previously offered, that there are no funadmental conflicts of national interest that would preclude a rapprochement between us and Iran.
    WPFIII

  40. N.Z. says:

    From my observation and in my humble opinion, Iranians have more freedom of expression than older democracies.
    Iran is a young democracy, it is a democracy in the making, it is in a stage where a faulty line had been found, the people and those in power recognize that correctional change must be done .
    My advice take a deep breath because Ahmadi Najed is the democratic elected leader .
    Hamas was another democratically elected government, Haniyeh, in occupied Palestine .
    Algeria, comes to mind ask the Americans what happened there !
    Lebanon had a sound election and the winning party was congratulated by all western countries because Hizbullah was defeated in the election.
    In short, a democracy is fair and sound when the outcome fits the big players.
    This defines the hypocracy of western democracies.

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    DaveGood:
    Thank you for summarizing the arguments that I had also tried to marshal.
    readerOfTeaLeaves:
    I was hoping to make tangible for the readers on this forum, how unlikely it is for people in Northern Tehran to alter the current dispensation in Iran; that there are many tens of millions of people who owe everything they have to that dispensation.
    I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the 13 million voters who voted for Mr. Mousavi have very great and very serious grievances against the way they are governed. And I think they have made a profoundly important statement that they desire Liberty and the Rule of Law. The leaders of the Islamic Republic have to accommodate these demands – there is no other way.
    All:
    In my opinion, it is not the Islamic Republic that has wounded itself fatally; it is the so-called Reform Movement – however laudable some of its aims have been – that has done so. For it demonstrated that it cannot take no for an answer and accept defeat.
    Furthermore, Mr. Khamenei demonstrated the indispensability of the Office of Supreme Jurisprudent to the balanced functioning of the Iranian state. Without that office, very likely we would have observed something similar to Serbia in the 1990s – a pathetic case.
    I know that I am perhaps once again the “idiotys” – the man who walks alone – but Syria was a representative republic in the 1950s. It degenerated into coups and assassinations. Ditto with Iran after the success of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1907 – chaos and assassinations being the order of the day.
    That the Office of Supreme Jurisprudent may remain unfilled by a single person has been anticipated in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic; in principle it may be composed of a committee. It is possible that Mr. Khamenei will be the last individual to occupy that office but that has to do more with the fact that Office is too powerful rather than the current events.
    The framers of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic wanted to make sure that the character of state remained Muslim. Thus they incorporated the idea of the Philosopher-King into that constitution. They also wanted to make certain that a dictatorial form of government could not emerge again.
    Now there are admittedly people who are opposed to this concept of the Guardianship of the Jurist. And clearly there are existing alternatives:
    As I see it today, the existing alternative political systems in Muslim states are Guardianship of the Military [Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Yemen], Guardianship of the Dictator [Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Azerbaijan, Central Asian States], and the Guardianship of the Absolute King [Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf States, Jordan]. I will discount both Iraq and Afghanistan since they are semi-soverign states whose polity is in flux. Of course, there is always the “Emirate” idea of the neo-Salafis which clearly is the product of the fantasies of certain uneducated minds. Choose your poison.
    Appeals to Shia quietism or Sufism [neither of which never obtained any political gains] and the like are useless. For those who are opposed to this Office, must answer, in my opinion, two questions: “What is wrong with Plato’s idea of the Philosopher-King?” and secondly: “What are the basis of state legitimacy and sovereignty within Islam?”

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Medicine Man:
    The case for the protestors depended crucially on the elections being rigged.
    Mr. Mousavi and others have failed to make that case, in my opinion.

  43. different clue says:

    What if the elections were
    not rigged? What if the results were just outright lied about? How would Mr. Mousavi and others be able to make any case at all unless all the ballots cast have been saved, and were to be counted individually, one by one, in the presence of neutral scrutineers?
    The unusually swift announcement of victory, coupled with the ready-to-go plans to repress any expression of shocked dismay, lead me to think the Ahmadinejad forces simply announced the outcome they wanted. Has Mr. Ahmadinejad made the case that he actually got the largest plurality of the actual votes? If the actual ballots all exist undestroyed, they can very well be produced and counted. Why wouldn’t Mr. Ahmadinejad do this? What is he afraid of? And how many people inside Iran might be asking themselves that very cluster of questions?
    In fairness, the number of dead seems to be four or five times the toll at Kent State. And that is at least a thousand times less than the death toll at Tien An Men. That is no comfort to the dead individuals or their families and friends, but still…
    And it looks like the Army and Police Forces have been out in pre-emptive force to prevent mass demonstrations from even forming. This would seem to deprive the baseejis of access to targets of recreational opportunity. Maybe the Iranians will see that contrast in approach between the “strictly bussiness” approach of the Army and Police as against the joyful murder approach of the baseejis. The more deeply Khamenei becomes identified and implicated in
    Ahmadinejad’s separate parallel armed-groups’ excercise of separate parallel repression; the more the K-A group will seem to be a separate cabal within the Islamic Republic.
    Something like what Wilkerson referred to as “the cabal around Cheney”
    though with a support base of millions. But minority millions or majority millions?
    If the supporters of the other three candidates come to regard Khamenei and Ahmadinejad as “the Great Poppa Doc” and “the little poppa doc”; and if they come to regard the baseejis as little better than tonton macoutes, what hope of reconciliation will remain? Hopefully the Islamic Republic can solve the problem before attitudes get that hardened and frozen.

  44. DaveGood says:

    Babak,
    Sir.
    While I think the former and current President of Iran did win.
    ( Opponents to him universally acknowledged to be Lacklustre, pre-vote polls all showed him heading for a win, virtually all western media outlets resigned to an eventual Akhmenijad victory)
    Every observer expected that to be a second round victory with Akhmenijad winning somewhere in the low fifties.
    Someone, somewhere in Iran decided that wasn’t good enough. That Akhmenijad’s opponents ( All of whom were selected from within the middle echelons of Iran’s elite anyway) had to be decisively humiliated… so the polls were rigged to produce that result.
    Let’s face it..According to the official results, in some areas, more people voted for Akhmenijad then lived there, no-one legitimately gets 100+% of a free vote.
    Having rigged an election they were set to win any the Iranian Elite are now in serious trouble, basically because they decided the Iranian people are morons who either wouldn’t see through that or wouldn’t care.
    The current troubles the ruling Iranian Elite now have is entirely of their own making.
    DaveGood

  45. hans says:

    Iran can make more problem for the USA/NATO then the other way round. Remember USA/NATO are “bankrupt” you cannot afford the wars, the supply line to AFPAK will be prohabitive expensive you need Iran for stabilisation. Your best friend is Iran not Israel for the current world problems

  46. Arun says:

    Babak:
    In my opinion, it is not the Islamic Republic that has wounded itself fatally; it is the so-called Reform Movement – however laudable some of its aims have been – that has done so. For it demonstrated that it cannot take no for an answer and accept defeat.
    I think that is equally true of Ayatollah Khamenei, he has demonstrated that the cannot take no for an answer and accept defeat; he is willing to impose any amount of repression to keep dissent from expressing itself. Is this a characteristic of the Islamic Republic itself? I do not know.
    It would be so easy to order a recount with public eyes on the count. Ayatollah Khamenei could have said – I have full confidence in the integrity of the election, but it seems there are a lot of public doubts. Well, we’ll have a very public recount. The losers in that recount must concede.

  47. curious says:

    In my opinion, it is not the Islamic Republic that has wounded itself fatally; it is the so-called Reform Movement – however laudable some of its aims have been – that has done so. For it demonstrated that it cannot take no for an answer and accept defeat.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 25 June 2009 at 10:51 PM
    Historically speaking, modern Iran dynasty and government don’t last. Qajar (131 yrs followed by coup), Pahlevi (54 yrs, followed by popular overthrow), Islamic revolution (29 yrs so far, unstable)
    The usual problem with popular revolution turns autocratic, it usually fails to evolve and cling to “original idea” of the revolution. Which is really a small group of people controlling everything. As popular support erode, a regime becomes increasingly paranoia and lost touch with reality. It must install even smaller and more incompetent loyalist, and draconian police state to protect the status quo. Then it collapses in another popular overthrow or experience economic implosion.
    The biggest problem with a totalitarian regime of course, It has too few loyalists at the end of the day. And once the people start extricating the loyalist and killing them slowly. (bombing, assassination, etc) Then the death spiral move very quickly.
    or to put it simply: how many car bombs does it take to eliminate Iran’s core leadership. Or how many assassinations does it take to accelerate the death spiral to its logical conclusion faster.
    Once the legitimacy of a government is gone. It’s gone fairly quickly. Iran is not Burma or North Korea. It is much closer to eastern europe. It has fairly open learning centers, large educated population connected to the west, and dynamic modern society.
    From where I am sitting, I really can’t see how current Iran government can survive if it tries to stay the same. A short guerilla style bombing campaign will drive the whole country into hyper paranoia and accelerate the death spiral in less than 3 years. Or another massive urban riot (traditionally, about every 6 years on average)
    I am trying to find the original Salam newspaper articles that gets closed down. I was wondering what exactly that drove the regime bonker.
    Frankly, if I were an Iranian student movement leader. I would start by deconstructing the Islamic thinking (core ideology) of the state itself. (eg. asking popular question. What exactly justify “killing” of citizen? Is the islamic state a just society?) that sort of series.
    The entire thing will collapse fairly quickly once there is simple popular slogan that the rural/urban poor start adopting.
    Good grief, I start to sound like a maoist. LOL.

  48. jedermann says:

    Byron Raum:
    There is a difference between contradictory agendas competing for power and a structural contradiction such as the one manifested in the Islamic Republic. The genius of the American Constitution is that it uses three branches with different functions to check one another. All three subscribe to the notion that the authority of government derives from the consent of the governed. The governmental structure of Iran pits two systems and governing philosophies, each vertically integrated, with one that believes that it is doing the will of God and the other the will of the people, against one another with no third party to buffer or referee. There is no containing such a struggle when losing means the loss of the legitimacy of one’s authority. A governmental structure that attempts to join theocracy and democracy is bad design. It plants a time bomb in the foundation. As much as we would like to see a way for Islamic societies to transition to democracy in forms that respect their religion and cultures, the Islamic Republic will not serve as that model nor will any structure that does not have a unified source for its authority. Lacking such unity, the government will inevitably tear itself apart. That might be an important contradiction to take note of (maybe even for some of our would-be theocrats here at home) and, while it has nothing to do with the viability of Iranian society, it has everything to do with the viability of the Islamic Republic.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    curious:
    You wrote: ” how many car bombs does it take to eliminate Iran’s core leadership. Or how many assassinations does it take to accelerate the death spiral to its logical conclusion faster.”
    I caution you very very very strongly against advocating terrorism in another sovereign state. People who literally lived in glass houses of the Twin Towers should not throw stones.
    I also observe here the campaign of terrorism that you are suggesting was carried out by members of the Mudjahedeen-e Khalq-e Iran in early 1980s. It failed in its stated aim of destroying the Iranian leadership.
    Mr. Khamenei is a survivor of one of their campaigns; his right hand was permanently damaged.
    An intellectual attack on Islam will be perceived as an attack on every Muslim’s core being without supplying an alternative – there is no possibility of conversion into anything else. No one can produce an alternative. Thus it will fail.
    I also would like to state that without Shia Islam, Iran cannot exist. Only fools will follow that path. But Iran is not the only such country; Italy cannot exist without the Roman Catholic Church.

  50. Byron Raum says:

    jedermann,
    I am not really sure I understand the point you are making. As you mention, each of the three branches of government subscribe to the same philosophy. However, there are many other centers of power in the US that have as great an influence on the American people and on the US as the US government which do NOT subscribe to the idea of the consent of the governed; the example I gave was that of capitalism.
    I would suggest that it is improper to simply compare the government of Iran with the government of the US without taking into account other centers of power in the US. Although they are not in the acknowledged government of the US, they are still influential enough to affect the governing of the US public.
    B.R.

  51. jedermann says:

    The burden of governing has some interesting effects on a theocracy that can be observed in Iran. Schism, doctrinal or perhaps something more worldly, happens. Factions coalesce around beliefs or interpretations or perceived interests and they act to advance themselves or to protect themselves from each other. The possession and exercise of worldly power introduces a new level of risk that the protectors of the faith and men’s souls will themselves be corrupted by opportunity and temptation. Giving religion secular power may result in the hollowing out of its moral authority in exchange for civil control, a devil’s bargain to be sure. If the theocracy comes to be regarded by very many as despotic or oppressive an erosion of faith can result, undermining the theocracy’s raison d’être. A widespread loss of faith is most likely to be of the secular variety, as in Iran, which would indicate the growth of a movement that will focus its efforts on either reforming the theocracy or eliminating it. (It does not appear that many are losing their religion.) Regardless of who really won the election, I believe that this is what we are observing now.

  52. Mac Nayeri says:

    “Most importantly, the action of the Iranian people has made it virtually impossible for the war party here and in Israel to succeed in dragging us into another one of their adventures.”
    100% correct, Sir.

  53. curious says:

    I caution you very very very strongly against advocating terrorism in another sovereign state. People who literally lived in glass houses of the Twin Towers should not throw stones.
    An intellectual attack on Islam will be perceived as an attack on every Muslim’s core being without supplying an alternative – there is no possibility of conversion into anything else. No one can produce an alternative. Thus it will fail.
    I also would like to state that without Shia Islam, Iran cannot exist. Only fools will follow that path. But Iran is not the only such country; Italy cannot exist without the Roman Catholic Church.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 26 June 2009 at 01:52 PM
    – The date, people, and places who you hold dear have no sentimental value to me. So I am free when comparing various possibilities against common historical pattern. I am merely pointing out, there is big difference between fighting external forces vs. a power holder losing legitimacy. Once the bond between leadership and its people is gone, there isn’t much can be done stopping the downward spiral. History is replete with examples. A country without its people is nothing.
    The current situation in Iran is not unique. On negative side, the death spiral can become self revelation, while on the positive side, successful solution and ways out have been thought of.
    Concerning “intellectual attack on Islam”, I have very little patient for religious nonsensse. To me it’s nothing but literary analysis. All religion is formalized doctrinal system subject to laws of logic. And as a system of thought religion fails. (classic attack: internal and external coherency. Language game/deconstruction. And finally it is mathematically proven, no formal system is complete or self consistent.)
    Plus, people are not robot. So what if there is/there is no Islam/Christian/Hindu/etc. Tons of people blisfully live in various different metaphysical construct. big friggin deal.
    Iran specifically? unfortunately for islam, Iran history is bigger, something has existed before rise of islam. The modern islamic revolution itself certainly is very young. Organized religion comes and go (how many Iran has? 3? 4?). Nothing is eternal. It existed inside history and general world experience.
    Don’t get me wrong. I personally sympathize the Islamic revolution in Iran. Clearly it is not 100% morally bankrupt. It actually tries, despite headshaking thuggery moment. There are some aspect, I think might provide answer that other system clearly fail. But don’t pretend the Islamic revolution is bigger than what it is. Common historical forces and human experience and knowledge still apply.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Curious:
    You are free as God has made you.
    But you are also mad.

  55. LeaNder says:

    Babak I agree with you, but I wonder what kind of “madness” it is. I am not sure what ab”normal”ity it is exactly.
    ****************************
    I wrote this but than wondered if I should bother our host to decide if he should or shouldn’t post it:
    Babak, I see Platos Republic as the first example in the long tradition of utopian literature. As I think Utopia is closely related to its Janus face: Dystopia. Admittedly I am with Karl Popper’s critique of Plato. At what point can the “ideal” state philosophy and or it’s representative philosopher bring about tyranny in his desire and/or the assumed necessity to socially engineer the masses? Were does change enter the stage? How does a disinterested Philosopher King look like? What do you make of Political theology and the more mythical foundations of leader versus masses? What is the exact real or mythical framework of a “supreme leader”? What are the parallels to the European “King’s two bodies”, the representative of God on earth?
    Concerning the election we have two basic scenarios, the truth may well be somewhere in between.
    ONE: the election was more or less fair. The troubles are created by outside forces only.
    How do the Iranian people figure in this scenario? Are they only pawns in a game of chess that can be moved easily one way or another without any will or desire of their own? Have they been sleeping during the last years? Don’t they somehow react to what is happening around them? Did they vote to such an high degree since they wanted business as usual? What makes people usually vote to a higher extend? Satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Would outside forces have any chance with funding if people were completely satisfied with Ahmadinejad?
    TWO: The election was rigged.
    In this scenario we can have a lot of activities of Iranians both inside and outside Iran. We surely have covert funding some of it may even have been distributed/remitted well, some may have gone to the wrong ideologues, if not quite a bit remained with special interest groups in the US that managed to skim the money available for their own “superior” propaganda initiatives. Here Iranians are aware that Ahmadinejad is headed for a the ultimate confrontation with the US, and maybe are trying to do all they can to prevent it. Strictly this looks much more real to me. But in the end its an aesthetic choice, I guess.

  56. curious says:

    yeah. but you didn’t say I was wrong. hah.
    Plus, I don’t know why you are taking this so seriously. You have everything under control. 2-3 weeks from now, the world media won’t remember there was an election in Iran. (Provided nobody does anything funny.) People will soon find out 40-60% internet material are mostly fake.
    Internally, six months from now iran will be the strongest than at any point in its history. Ready to face weak and divided western banking/trade sanction.
    Make norther Tehran special economic development with special territory government. problem solved with the dress code and those little silliness. Let the citizen fight among themselves how they sort out daily hassle.
    Slightly damaged standing in middle east maybe, but nothing that can’t be repaired in 6 months. You capture huge number of active cells and operative, the demonstration is relatively small and peaceful. (seriously, that was nothing compared to number people involved. I was expecting months.)
    Relationship with major european countries are not hot. But consider this. UK/G.Brown is goner. He is fighting for his political life. Italy, Burlesconi is gone. Mondo Orgy. Merkel, I think she is fighting for afghanistan troop death, if it continues she won’t be re-elected in september if she keeps losing troops. The rest of europe are PR job. (norway, Finland, Sweden.)
    Iran also find out its major deficiency when it come to relationship with western europe. PR and international press. (admitedly this is hard)
    Relationship with the east? never better. the hardwork in the last 5 years paid off.
    There is nothing Iran cannot do from this point on. Key technology can be gained via cooperation with china, russia, and other various industrialized east. At this point, Iran has the widest access to technology as never before. India is partially open, complete access to Pakistan, large access to South East Asia. Relatively good relationship with eastern europe (they are desperate for cash, they will sell anything under the table) The world financial centers are shifting out of the post WWII arrangement.
    Asia will be the place to put high growth money. Shanghai, Hongkong, Macao, Thailand, Jakarta are all where the smart money go. The hottest banking, shipping, infrastructure projects are all in asia and middle east. Show the cash, you got whatever you want.
    Africa natural resources are wide open.
    So, I don’t see why Iran can’t win it all. with better capital management and trade policy.

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    LeaNder:
    Thank you for your comments.
    I personally do not have any issue with the questions that you have raised regarding Plato’s Republic and the role of the Philosopher-King. I think your questions are quite valid.
    But I also think that the Muslim or non-Muslim critiques of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent have to raise these questions; they have to do their intellectual homework and, more importantly, they have to this without appeal to Tradition, Authority, or other such crutches.
    But they have not done so yet. And even if they do, the supporters of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, no doubt, will come up with their own reasoned rebuttals. Then, one could hope, there would ensue a dialogue through which come sort of consensus could be built.
    I think there was a great deal of emotional expectation and desire for an Islamic Utopia – a vision of the Earthly Paradise – that animated the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Clearly, most of the participants, be they leaders or rank and file, had not heard that such a Utopia cannot be achieved by the powers of man.
    It has taken 30 years of learning in the school of hard knocks to get people to recognize the limitations of the Islamic Utopia project, I should expect another 30 years for them to figure out a middle course.
    I do not think it had to be this way – after all the Doctors of Religion had access to the Arabic translations of the works of Aristotle (available since 700s) who had counseled: “In all things, moderation.”

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    LeaNder:
    In regards to the Iranian elections I disagree with you.
    I think there is the very strong and plausible possibility that the elections were not rigged and Mr. Ahmadinejad won but those who voted for Mr. Mousavi could not accept defeat.
    In this alternative possibility, the role of foreign powers would not be important in stirring trouble.
    One can then attribute the cause of the (opposition) voters’ reaction to the very high levels of repressed anger and frustrations that they have had with the way that they are governed.

  59. LeaNder says:

    I do not think it had to be this way – after all the Doctors of Religion had access to the Arabic translations of the works of Aristotle (available since 700s) who had counseled: “In all things, moderation.”
    The much earlier reception of Aristotele by the Arabs is another interesting issue. I once got into an argument on Daniel Pipes blog with lady who called me a non-informed nitwit, which in turn made me curious. So I checked the Wikipedia article on Aristotele in German versus the English one.
    In Germany there was quite a bit of emphasis on the much earlier reception of Aristoteles by the Arabs; while the English version was completely silent about the influence of the Arab translations and commentaries. By now someone added a vague allusion to Averroism.
    I am not a scholar of classical philology but I simply cannot imagine the scholastics without the influence of the early Arab translations and commentaries. Now if you keep that link n mind you’ll find your way even on the English Wiki now: Early Scholasticism which in turn leads you to Islamic contribution to Medieval Europe But look at who is the first authority cited: Bernard Lewis.
    In the German entry you do not need this extra information to find the link. I think this is somehow interesting. Politicized scholarship?

  60. different clue says:

    LeaNder,
    As a layman I can only speculate about why there is this difference between German and English (probably
    American) treatment of Aristotle. My speculation is…since Germany is well East of England and especially America; Germany has been more open to political and/or cultural interchange with countries and peoples to Germany’s east. Whereas England and especially America are wedded to a concept of East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. So perhaps the idea of early Arab adoption and preservation of Aristotle just does not compute in many English and/or American minds.
    (But it computed in Bernard Lewis’s mind..) Well, Bernard Lewis is a scholar who is supposed to know these things and thankfully does. Many Anglo-American Wikipages are written and overwritten and added to by rank amateurs. Could it be that German people show more deferrence to scholarship and are more likely to let scholars write German wikipages?
    Babak Makkinejad, as the
    Iranians do their extensive political thinking (left alone if possible), will any of them think back to the Mossadegh government and its possible promise before it was overthrown? If that was not an Islamic Guardianship state, and if it showed enough potential for success that the Anglo-American governments of that time felt they had to destroy its potential success; perhaps some Iranian thinkers might return to the Mossadegh era concept of “the people under their own guardianship”? (If I even understand what the Mossadegh-era theory was?)
    I was listening to a radio interview with a young
    academic intellectual named Reza Aslan, who was presented as knowing about political and cultural/religious-thinking currents within Islam, Iran, etc. He said that there are “two schools” of Shia Islamic religious jurisprudence…school of Qom and School of Najaf. The School of Najaf (returning to visibility after Baathist repression) taught a view of semi-disinvolvement between the clergy and active state governance. Whereas the younger Ayatollah Khomeini crafted a theory of being able to bring about the return of the Hidden Imam and the end times by creating through political state power the sort of Islamicly pure society that the Hidden Imam would want to come back to. And Mr. Aslan thinks that some of the younger clerics in Qom are thinking about returning to the traditional semi-quietism of the School of Najaf.
    If Mr. Aslan is correct about that (and if I even heard him correctly), is that a potentially meaningful development in Iranian state/political/religious thinking? Could it be that Iran will be the country within which a “protestant reformation” within Islam will take place over the next 50-80 years? Might Iran end up writing the books about Islamic society and Republican State that 20-25 other Muslim countries will end up having to study?
    (By the way, Curious’s modes of thought and expression and use of language seem Russian to me.
    But I could be way wrong about that).

  61. Babak Makkinejad says:

    different clue:
    The first constitution of Iran after the 1905-1907 envisioned a Guardians Council; it was never formed. So I think this feature will most likely persist into the future in any alternative constitutional framework.
    Mr. Mossadegh’s government was based on the a number of ideas & practices – a ceremonial king, a powerful parliament, a weak religious presence in the state, and the rule by the traditional elites.
    None of those ingredients are available any longer.
    Based on what you have written, I agree with much of what Mr. Aslan has written. But as I understood the debate, there has been a worry that being involved in politics will sully them in their spiritual mission. This is something very interesting because, technically, they have no “spiritual mission” – they are not priests. They are supposed to be scholars of religious sciences of Islam.
    If they are trying now to forge an additional role for themselves as spiritual guardians of the Muslims then they are departing from 1400 years of Muslim history. This will not be viable.
    On the other hand, modifications to the theory and practice of Guardianship of the Jurisprudent are possible, in my opinion. And ditto for the religious police and other assorted little tyrannies of envious men and women from the less privileged against the privileged under the guise of Islam.
    I will try to answer your question regarding quietism and not-so-quietism with an analogy with the Anglo-American societies. In these societies, the legal system operates on the basis of the principle of precedence. In such a system of law, you will always have the need for a group of people to interpret this esoteric and complex body of knowledge called Anglo-American Law. These people are called Lawyers in US and Barristers in UK. Either way, you cannot get away from them. And in fact, a large number of people in influential places in these societies have had legal training.
    Similarly, I would argue, that within Muslim societies there is an exotic and complex body of knowledge called Islamic Law that has to be interpreted by the Doctors of Religion. Regardless of Quietist or not-so-Quietist approaches to the constitution making, one cannot, in my opinion, subtract the Doctors of Religion from any viable Islamic dispensation.
    I do not know if the experiment in Muslim republicanism in Iran will succeed or fail. I do not know if it will influence others. I personally think that the various Muslim thinkers – religious or not-so-religious, will enormously benefit by studying the theory and practices of the Islamic Republic of Iran since that experiment still is the best that Muslims have been able to do.

  62. curious says:

    I think there is the very strong and plausible possibility that the elections were not rigged and Mr. Ahmadinejad won but those who voted for Mr. Mousavi could not accept defeat.
    In this alternative possibility, the role of foreign powers would not be important in stirring trouble.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 27 June 2009 at 04:46 PM
    Then Iran clearly hasn’t noted the possibility of taliban (master of sociopolitics polarization), Chile (weak election result that was the source of public doubt that was manipulated by external power to create coup.), or any modern student movement that span decades.
    Iranian critical institutions have not been tested under great social stress, let alone open modern war. Legal system, how people react, legitimacy, authority, enforcement, are all still in ‘revolutionary’ stage. Informal, ad hoc, personality plays, a lot based on opinion. It seems to me, majority of population itself doesn’t know in detail how the system work and who to listen to. (eg. election announcement, conflict resolution, detail mechanism.) Everybody is eager to jump on the street, tearing apart leadership institution and start a revolution.
    obviously a lot of procedures, codex, manual and institutions are not yet codified, tested legally, nobody knows if the system works under great stress. Everything ends up with Guardian force.
    Suppose somebody blow up and cripple enough of revolutionary guard administrators and central leaders. Then what? The entire nation will fall into self bickering chaos and nobody knows how to do anything.
    To me it seems the system is fragile and has single point of failure.

  63. LeaNder says:

    (But it computed in Bernard Lewis’s mind..) Well, Bernard Lewis is a scholar who is supposed to know these things and thankfully does. Many Anglo-American Wikipages are written and overwritten and added to by rank amateurs. Could it be that German people show more deferrence to scholarship and are more likely to let scholars write German wikipages?
    Admittedly I didn’t manage to finish even one of his books, but that may have to do with the fact that campus watch apparently wants to enforce him as the US standard in ME history that must be on the reading list of every single course.
    True, Wikipedia isn’t written by scholars, I heard some complaints about it from my favorite scholars too, but then, at least one of them complains about the scholarship in one of his topics too. For decades no original research but only constant repetition, wallowing in myth and countermyth occasionally in spite of better knowledge. So how could it be otherwise in his special case?
    But my point would be that since Wikipedia isn’t written by scholars, it mirrors general knowledge (Allgemeinwissen). And this general knowledge in turn may well mirror educational politics.
    Scholarship usually has no boundaries at least not in the West, or I didn’t notice it. As I never witnessed any enforced scholars, apart from the dictates of academic fashions.
    ****************************
    concerning puzzle “curious”, yes, no native speaker it seems but using “we” occasionally in the US context. Interesting choice, but doesn’t convince me completely.

  64. curious says:

    aha, so there is a PR agency running tehran “green revolution”, hence the signage, and adaptation and softening of street protests for western media consumption. (I wonder which PR company run the Tehran street protest)
    http://www.inteldaily.com/news/173/ARTICLE/11131/2009-06-29.html
    In his book, “Full Spectrum Dominance,” Engdahl explained how the process played out. Under the slogan “Pora (It’s Time),” people who helped organize Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” were brought in to consult “on techniques of non-violent struggle.” The Washington-based Rock Creek Creative PR firm was instrumental in branding the “Orange Revolution” around a pro-Yushchenko web site featuring that color theme. The US State Department spent around $20 million dollars to turn Yanukovych’s victory into one for Yushchenko with help from the same NGOs behind Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” and others.
    Myanmar’s August – September 2007 “Saffron Revolution” used similar tactics as in Georgia and Ukraine but failed. They began with protests led by students and opposition political activists followed by Engdahl’s description of “swarming mobs of monks in saffron, Internet blogs, mobile SMS links between protest groups, (and) well-organized (hit-and-run) protest cells which disperse(d) and re-form(ed).”
    ————
    Posted by: LeaNder | 29 June 2009 at 03:20 PM
    transference of internet avatar ruins everything. You don’t by any chance coming from franfurt do you?

  65. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad and LeaNder,
    Thank you for your replies, knowledge, and suggestions on some further pathways down which I might think about these things. One of the best features of this blog is the highly informed knowledge-base level of the commenters here. One hopes that university students (grad and undergrad both) and some of their professors besides, have this blog on their periodic check-back lists.
    I had been thinking that Turkey is/was relevant as an
    example of functionally secular government from within an Islamic context. But now I wonder if Turkey was just a simpler case of a
    strong-willed leader in a time of crisis simply brute-force expelling the Doctors of Religion from their place
    of influence within or over government. If that is what
    the Kemalist Revolution represented, is Turkey now becoming a parallel test case in its very earliest stages of a phased and glacially-slow return of Islamic Religious Doctorship
    into the outermost circles of Turkish governance? Or has 80 years of Kemalism left Turkey without an indigenous system of Doctors of Religion?

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    different clue:
    Turkey, like Algeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh is a case of Guardianship of the Military.
    You could make a case, in my opinion, that generally the Doctors of Religion, among both the Sunni and Shia, did not rise up intellectually to the challenge of the Western Godless Modernity. [There were, of course, exceptions: the leaders of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Constitutional Revolution in Iran.] They seemed to care more about the zakat of the three-year old camel than the issues of their day.
    I cannot say much about Turkey or indeed Sunni Islam that has not been said by others. I have 22 observations about Turkey: that because of its Turkic nationalism it cannot suffer the existence of non-Turkic people on its territory, thus expelling the Pontic Greeks and trying to suppress Kurdish culture. On the other hand, the Secular, i.e. non-Sunni character of the state, leaves the non-Sunni religious minorities of Islam such as the Allawites and Shia un-molested. These minorities do not want to return to the days of the Khaliphate, in my opinion.

  67. LeaNder says:

    So you are surprised PR firms have a fundamental role in elections nowadays? Sometimes even in selling wars? Well they are the specialists on public opinion and agenda-setting in our times.
    Why do you think Ahmadinejad tried to copy Obama’s campaign slogan?
    “Obama’s signature campaign slogan, Yes We Can, has been replicated by the Iranian president in a promotional video issued for Iran’s presidential poll on 12 June, when Ahmadinejad is seeking re-election.”
    … a frequent feature in the trade, better a good copy than your own bad idea …
    Curious: transference of internet avatar ruins everything. You don’t by any chance coming from franfurt do you?
    I am not sure what exactly the first sentence means. In case you are asking if I ever changed(transfer) my nickname (avatar?) and if I am from Frankfurt. No, I am not.
    I’ve used LeaNder ever since I realized it’s better to not use my real name. There are some crazies out there netwise.
    I know and like some parts of Frankfurt on the Main a lot, I spent some time there mainly for studies. But I live in Cologne on the Rhine.
    There is somebody active on the net in the context of the larger neocons/US/Israel issue from Frankfurt. But he seems to not have met any crazies so far, or doesn’t seem to bother, so he uses his real name.

  68. curious says:

    Turkey, like Algeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh is a case of Guardianship of the Military.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 30 June 2009 at 01:37 PM
    I’ll do Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia is a malay sultanate. It may have all the Islamic song and dance, but the real political dynamic is nativism vs. colonialism. If you want to argue “guardianship”, probably ‘Barisan National’, is the closest thing. (control of law, executive, and much of national destiny.) But BN drive is not Islam, it political status. So BN/Malaysia effing hate US for last regime change BS (mahatir vs Soro). But the public in general doesn’t care one way or another. They were under British colony, US is a media curiosity. Islam in malaysia itself is merely an attribute within that dynamic, not the main drive. So, that’s why you get the race jockeying, sultan parade, scandals, urban/rural, etc.
    Indonesia. The role of military is not the same as guardianship in Iran. The idea of guardianship was really Suharto/US backed military dictatorship. It is closer to latin america junta or Pakistan under musharaf. It’s a form of convenient regime control, without cultural nor legal base. Hence, the first step everybody wants once suharto regime was kicked out of office was making sure military is put back in the box and not controlling everything. Inside recent constitutional change (result of 1997 crisis really) military is reformed. Particularly role in provincial civil offices and legislative body. Washington DC doesn’t like it. It still tries to instal yet another military man. The public is very aware of US meddling. Islam/religion and politics? The public don’t particularly care one way or another as deeply. Deep down, at mythological level Indonesia power structure is really a Hindu empire that prays to Allah.
    This is a bit like saying US politics is really merchant class take over with late 18th century enlightenment humanism. read Italian city state history and British parliement log and one would understand the entire dynamic of US politics. (the posing, the political gaming, the grand talks, the whole pax americana thing, trade contract, etc) This is also why, most modern political idea that other countries often dabble never really resonate deeply with US voters (mass, labour, proletariat, class, etc) They all sound too commie.

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    LeaNder:
    Mr. Ahmadinejad was saying “Yes, we can” long before Mr. Obama came on the scene.

  70. curious says:

    Mathematical model says, nothing changes. (not that I believe it. It’s based on questionaire and interaction modeling. All Iran has to do is change the interaction rule without telling anybody. Or an external player change the entire dynamic. Interestingly, this hover institute guy, was predicting ahmadinejad as president too. lol.) Hilarious. Maybe CIA should consult the model before doing a regime change.
    http://nextbigfuture.com/search?updated-max=2009-06-25T15%3A35%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=8
    Predictions on Iran
    1. Iranian government will tone down its nuclear ambitions to the point where it will devleop weapons-grade nuclear material only for research purposes
    2. Real power rests not with the mullahs or even with the Supreme Leader, but with what he calls the “moneyed interests” of Iranian society: “the banker, the oil people, the bazaris”. Currently quiet and moderate mullahs will become more vocal.
    3. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad influence will decline and has been in decline.

  71. Different Clue says:

    LeaNder,
    I am certainly no expert on computer-user culture, but I think that the world of computer-gamers may be as old or older than the blogger-world. And in the gamer-world avatars were an artisticly motivated expression of idealized aspects of a gamer’s personality. I think some of that spirit was carried over into blog-world. Why else would commenters take the trouble to invent names for their avatars like: Spallpeen Krauthammer, Drumlin Woodchuckles, Dumdedumwellgottago!, and other creative names? I think it is more than just hiding from crazy people.
    Babak Makkinejad,
    I sometimes wonder why the concept of Guardianship of the Guardians (whomever they may be) is even considered necessary. At what point does a nation of people become fully capable of self-Guardianship? And when that point is reached, will the Guardians retire gracefully? Or will they fight to retain the perquisites and benefits of Guardianship?
    I remember debating Cuba with a committed Castro devotee. She kept pointing out how all the basic social well-being indicators
    for Cubans were so much better than they had been under the Batista regime. It finally occurred to me to acknowledge how very true that all was, but that the middle aged and young Cubans of today don’t remember Batista. The Revolution is all they know or ever knew. So yes, all these basic survival indicators are up and have stayed up, but now that the Cubans are ready for something more and better, the Castrocialists refuse to admit they have brought Cuba to the point where Cuba is ready to evolve past
    Castrocialism.
    In the same way, the Islamic Revolution Republic has brought up at least one whole generation of Iranians
    to a high level of education and intelligence and reasoning and action-taking competence. Having done that, will the Guardianship of the Doctors of Religion understand that Iran is ready for a phased graduation from Guardianship of whatever Guardians? If they won’t recognize that, will the social tension level just keep getting tenser as Iran gets more ready to evolve past needing the Guardianship of the Guardians? Or is that not a useful question in the Iranian context?
    About Turkey, I still remember Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s vision for Canada of all Canadians envisioning their country as a bi-national country founded by two co-equal peoples…the English and the French. (Prime Minister Trudeau set that aside for some reason). I remember that you considered it a pipe-dream at the time, but I still think that if Pearson himself felt it was worth pursuing, there may have been some validity to it at least in theory.
    What does this have to do with Turkey? If the Turkish leadership wishes to have one single country overarching two major ethnic groups, and the Kurds are too numerous and too invested in their own ancient identity to successfully suppress and de-ethnify, then the Turkish leadership might consider a Turkey of two founding peoples. They might even recognize the Kurds’ place of co-equal ethnic respect by renaming the country TurKurdia. That sounds pipedreamy even to me, given the current Turkish psychological orientation. But what if forward thinkers within the Turkish leadership were to investigate the Pearson Principle? What if one or more Turkish leader-thinkers are even now reading this comment? Because if the Turks will never ever accept the concept of cultural and political rights within a subsidiary ethnic homeland for Kurds within Turkey; then the Kurds may try to make Turkey’s writ within Kurdistan so unenforceable as to force Turkey to choose between heavy-footed ethnocide or Turkey’s own Two State Solution for Kurdistan. I like my Pearson’s pipe-dream better and hopefully as Turkey evolves past its Guardianship of the Military, it might evolve towards a measure of Kurdistani rights and respect within Turkey.

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