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June 19, 2009

people power in Iran

(Hartford, CT) I think the Iranian regime has doubled down, betting the very principle of clerical authority on the assumption that they can crush or outlast the protests. Ayatollah Khamenei denied that the election could have been rigged: "There is 11 million votes difference," he said. "How can one rig 11 million votes?" He could have kept a low profile, called for negotiations, or tried to persuade one of the candidates to quit. Instead, he decided to force the issue. Evidently, either ...

1. The election was rigged at a high level, not where the ballots were collected but where the results were announced. In that case, the whole regime is illegitimate on its own terms. Or ...

2. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually got the most votes, but there is still massive discontent, probably because the field of candidates and issues was sharply limited in the first place.

The two outcomes that I have seen discussed most are a victory for Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the militias, followed by further repression, or a victory for Mir Hossein Mousavi, whose policies would be incrementally less bellicose and more liberal. But I think there are several other possible outcomes, including a rapid drift in a more liberal direction (out of Mousavi's control); a rapid drift in a different direction, such as toward some kind of left-populism; or a long period of conflict, including possibly a civil war. We should all wish the Iranian people the best in this critical, dangerous, hopeful moment.

Meanwhile, I continue to be moved by the self-discipline of their massive popular movement. According to a Mousavi supporter quoted by Juan Cole:

June 19, 2009 7:03 PM | category: none


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