Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran So Far Away

I've been in Deadline Hell the last week or so, so I haven't been able to follow anything closely. Over the weekend I saw that plenty of people are all up at arms about what's going on in Iran. Neocons are taking the events there as a call to fire up the bombers, righties want to figure a way to pin this on Obama, and people like Andrew Sullivan breathlessly relay every last twitter-feed as evidence of some full-blown revolution sweeping the country.

Here's my unvarnished and uninformed opinion...

None of these other people know much more than I do at this point. Take Sullivan for example: Photographs or personal accounts with no wider context are only slightly better than worthless. He paints a picture of a sea of Iranian citizens storming the castle and that the Iranian government as we knew it is over, yet he has readers on his sight claiming that most of Tehran is business as usual...Which is it? Calling for others to express support for what's happening there, yet overstating the situation could send people into a fucking buzzsaw. If there aren't really 500,000 other people marching to give cover, then there could be real problems for the people on the street.

Too many bloggers seem anxious to use the cracked skulls of Iranian protestors as a step up to proclaim "the death of the traditional media!" as well, and it's pretty unseemly. I don't doubt there is value in the man-on-the-street report, but come on... People in Europe might've assumed Yonkers was burning if these people were blogging the L.A. Riots.

As for how Obama is supposed to react to all of this? I think "troubled by events" is sufficient. It's not up to us to second-guess or try to have an impact on what happens in Iran. That last thing he should do is give Ahmadinejad a claim that "America is meddling." Obama needs to keep in mind that whoever emerges will be who he needs to negotiate with—and not to try and rig the game. And Joe Biden needs to shut his hole.

Sure, it'd be swell if Ahmadinejad lost in a clean election and handed over power as readily as Al Gore, but how fucking likely was that? It's up to the people in Iran to decide if they've had enough of this shit. There's been talk of a young, progresive movement in Iran for years—let this be their moment. Interference from outside can only make things worse, illegitimate, uglier, etc.

As far as I'm concerned, the "leading democracy on the planet" just had it's own Presidential election stolen a mere nine years ago, so we should shut the fuck up.

UPDATE: Hilzoy does a much better job articulating what I cursed and rambled about above... It's a fantastic piece.


Bob said...

"As far as I'm concerned, the "leading democracy on the planet" just had it's own Presidential election stolen a mere nine years ago, so we should shut the fuck up."

I thought the same thing this morning. We have no authority to bitch.

Mr Furious said...

I feel that way a lot. My resistance to American Exceptionalism clearly means I hate my country...

Listening to people hear decry women's rights/ civil rights / minority rights, etc around the globe—however well-directed or accurate—always rings a little hollow with me.

It's been less than a hundred years since everyone in this country's been able to vote...and far more recently that it's truly been "available" to all.

Mr Furious said...

Not to mention the myriad ways we are behind the curve on a lot of other social issues...

steves said...

Great post up until the "stolen election". Do people really still believe this? We are far from an ideal country, but overall, we are much better off in terms of liberty than most of the world. That isn't saying we should be arrogant about it or that there isn't massive room for improvement.

That being said, we should shouldn't be meddling in any way. If the Iranians want to embrace Democracy, then it is up to them. Democracy can not be imposed from the outside.

Mr Furious said...

Steves, I don't think I'm out there with the conspiracy nuts by thinking that the 2000 election results are AT BEST disputed, and at worst, suppressed. I've seen "evidence" from both sides that they "won" Florida. We'll never know for sure, since the recount was stopped.

So, yeah, maybe a declaration that is was stolen is hyperbole, but the point remains—in our supposedly established democracy, with all of the technological and experience advantages, we still couldn't declare a definitive winner in a manner satisfactory to half the country.

Expecting evidence of fair and open elections and transparent investigations post hoc is more than a little hypocritical, it's fucking ridiculous.

And yes, democracy cannot be installed from outside or at the barrel of a gun, or CIA secret op.

Let. Them. Work. It. Out.

steves said...

I think that some of the ire from that election came from most people's gross ignorance as to how our electoral system works and what the Constitution says. There have been three other instances when the popular choice lost. I doubt we will ever see the end of voter fraud, voter suppression , and any of the other shenanigans that go on during an election. One thing we can be proud of is the long history of a peaceful transition of leaders.

Mr Furious said...

Steves, I understand perfectly the outdated and ridiculous electoral college. I'm not arguing whether Gore won the popular vote—that's indisputable.

It's all about Florida, and the recount and the halting thereof. You're not likely to present anything that will convince me Bush won Florida. Period.

I can't prove I'm right, but I haven't seen proof I'm wrong.

steves said...

I have seen plenty of stuff that suggests either person won. In the end, Bush "won". I know you understand the Electoral College, but most Americans have no idea how it works and probably still don't.

Mr Furious said...

I want to put this 2000 stuff to bed, and get back on topic.

In short, this is not about us or our interests, and we need to stay the hell out of it.