The Iranian election

Protesting the stolen Iranian election Patterico has suggested that this photo might become iconic, like the famous photo of the brave Chinese protestor facing down a tank in Tianamin Square. Me, I don’t know: maybe the election was stolen and maybe it wasn’t, but there are riots in Iran over the announced results and the widespread perception that it was stolen.

The results of the Iranian election led me to pick up and reread parts of former President Carter’s memoir, Keeping Faith¹. Not the whole book, mind you — I read it 27 years ago, when it was published — but the sections on his Administration’s dealings with Iran.

It’s very instructive to read how helpless a president without cojones felt. I noted, in the margin on page 506 — yes, I’m obsessive-compulsive, and take notes in the margins of books — that President Carter finally decided to take military action against Iran 5 months and 1 week after the hostages had been seized, and even that taking of action was an attempt to rescue the hostages with a minimum of force and bloodshed. And when that action failed, President Carter again “sent their leaders reminders of my long-standing threats.” (page 526)

One of us wonders just how seriously the Iranians took Mr Carter’s threats. My guess is that they just laughed at him, and continued to play him for the fool.

There is a lesson in that book for President Obama, if he’ll read the damned thing.
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Update: Monday, 15 June 2009 @ 11:44 AM EDT — Glad I’ve been on the cautious side on saying that the results were fraudulent. The Washington Post has a story up today which says that President Ahmadinejad’s claimed margin of victory is reasonably in line with a “nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote.”


The Iranian People Speak


By Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty

The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.

While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad’s principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.

Independent and uncensored nationwide surveys of Iran are rare. Typically, preelection polls there are either conducted or monitored by the government and are notoriously untrustworthy. By contrast, the poll undertaken by our nonprofit organizations from May 11 to May 20 was the third in a series over the past two years. Conducted by telephone from a neighboring country, field work was carried out in Farsi by a polling company whose work in the region for ABC News and the BBC has received an Emmy award. Our polling was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our preelection survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi.

Much more at the link.
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¹ – Jimmy Carter: Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (New York: Bantam Books, © 1982) 596 pages

23 Comments

  1. The government of Iran is not behaving in a way which is consistent with their claim that the election was fair; it looks from afar like a pre-planned action to ignore the vote and suppress any resistance to the action.

  2. I think you are right, Aphrael. Plus the fact that the people’s reaction to the vote indicates that they, at least, know elections there are likely to be rigged. In this country, even with the people who scream “selected, not elected,” there were no actions like this.

  3. Perhaps a team of Chicago pols can provide the ‘winner’ with ‘proof’ of his victory.

    Or were they already there?

    How do you say ACORN in Farsi?

  4. Yeah, it was probably rigged, but I’m not sure what steps we can take right now. If we try to interfere, we’ll just be helping A-Train and his band of thugs since their entire argument is “OMG the US is out to gets us!!11!1!!” Seems the best thing for us to do is watch and hope something valuable comes out of this.

    Are there ways to help parlay this into actual change without us being directly or obviously involved?

  5. Maybe we should send the Cook County Board of Elections over there to certify it along with the Philadelphia Elections Board to help. That should be plenty of proof. Wonder if the New Black Panthers were Poll watchers?

  6. Jeff: right now we wait, and we hope, and the religious among us pray.

    The minute the regime falls we’re there with aid for the people who take over.

  7. STOP, PLEASE EVERYBODY STOP FOR A SECOND…

    My fellow Iranians, Did you forget those days that Mousavi was in power?? Did you forget what he and his friends did to Iran with all the corrupt friends he had and has??
    I am not a Ahmadinejad supporter, but I do remember Mousavi and his friends when they were in power. All of you nice people that going to the streets and protesting, if you were in Mousavi’s time back then, all of you would be beaten and put in jail a lot worse than now!!!

    The biggest Mousavi’s supporter is Hashemi Rafsanjani and his sons. Did you forget how much money he and his sons have stolen?? How much land they have stolen or bought very very cheap? Do you remember the news about 15 years ago that one of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s sons had a account in one of the Swiss banks for more that $800,000 million? Where did he get that money?

    PEOPLE DO NOT CHANGE, NEVER EVER AND MOUSAVI WON’T CHANGE EITHER… WHY YOU THINK MOUSAVI WILL BE DIFFERENT THAN HE WAS 20 YEARS AGO??
    I AM NOT SUPPORTING AHMADINEJAD, but if Mousavi would be elected, he would stop or slow down the nuclear power (because he listens to the west only) and he would bring all his corrupt friends that he had and has from long time ago.

    He will sign shamful agreements and treaties with other countries because “west” pays him to do that. Mousavi would sell oil cheap and buy all the junk and trash from other countries and pay them big money just to satisfy west.

    I am not Ahmadinejad’s supporter, but I do not trust Mousavi either Mousavi is a lot worse. Ask your older brothers and sisters, they remember him… Nuclear power would stop or slow down dramatically on his watch…

  8. Watching and reading a little more on this, I wonder where it will lead? Will it a Tianimen Sq. protest that will be violently put down? Or will the people see what is being tried in Iraq and want that? We all know the mad mullahs control all things and I know they read the tea leaves of Iraq fledgling democracy and wonder if their days are numbered? Ans if there is a Revolution, what and where will it go?

    I know we don’t know all the background diplomatic stuff going on, so it’s hard to say we should do one thing or another. Even if soft exploratory talks going on with Iraq, I think at least publicly we should say we want the will of the people to happen and come down on the side of democracy.

    What do we know of Mousavi anyway, and where would that take us.

  9. I don’t know who NL is, but his final sentence was:

    I am not Ahmadinejad’s supporter, but I do not trust Mousavi either Mousavi is a lot worse. Ask your older brothers and sisters, they remember him… Nuclear power would stop or slow down dramatically on his watch…

    That, in itself, means we ought to favor Mr Mousavi. Stopping Iran’s nuclear program is a goal of ours.

  10. All three of the candidates got the approval of the Mad Mullahs and none opposed the development of nuclear weapons. No true reformer could get on the ballot.

  11. I think we should be relieved that the Repubs are not in power, just on this one issue.

    Obama has handled himself with great restraint, being very careful to not meddle into internal Iranian affairs, whereas Repub leaders, from Newt to Rove to Senate and House party leaders, are all arogantly calling again for aggressive condemnation of the process going on over there. I suppose one could call them consistent, consistently wrong!

    The old neocon philosophy is alive and well, as if our past failed interventions in the Middle East never happened! Once again, ideology supersedes reality.

  12. Obama has handled himself with great restraint,

    Translation – He’s acting just like Jimmy Carter, i.e., a complete weenie …

  13. Eric, you have less common sense than I thought!

    If Obama meddled into the internal affairs of Iran, he would be playing into the hands of Ahmadinejad.

    I’ll let you figure out why, if that is possible!

  14. Art – yeah, that’s very true – even mild reformers like Khatami get kicked off the ballot. In fact, as perverse as this sounds, this mess is probably the best outcome we could hope for (even better than a straight Mousavi victory), because it has laid bare to Iranians the stark reality of their situation – that their democracy is really just a front for the Supreme Leader…

    Eric, Yorkie, y’all have to know that’d be counterproductive, right? Iranians want closer ties with us, but they still kinda resent our influence over their region. That’s half the reason why A-Train was polling well in the first place. We’ve gotta handle this with care – show them that we support them, but only start interfering if the opposition asks for it. So far, I haven’t heard anyone ask for it yet.

  15. I would like to ask NL above, what he/she thinks the people of Iran should do at this point in time?

    Obviously anyone who was permitted to run in the election had the necessary approval of the mullahs; so from the get-go there was an enormous problem. From what I’m reading, it appears that this is the Iranian’s go-for-broke moment, having moved past it just being a protest against a rigged election, but rather moving toward the bigger vision of overthrowing the iron-fisted theocracy.

  16. Eric, Yorkie, y’all have to know that’d be counterproductive, right? Iranians want closer ties with us, but they still kinda resent our influence over their region. That’s half the reason why A-Train was polling well in the first place. We’ve gotta handle this with care – show them that we support them, but only start interfering if the opposition asks for it. So far, I haven’t heard anyone ask for it yet.

    We are told Abber-dabber-do polled well, but who did the polling? We are told Abber-dabber-do won the election, but there are 100,000 people in the streets saying it’s not so. What’s the problem with a word of encouragement to the people.

    Back in the early 80′s when Lech Walensa was leading his resistance at the shipyards in Gdanske, Reagan was there saying we’re with you. If we follow what happened in the aftermath, Poland broke free along with the rest of Eastern Europe from the USSR.

    What’s the problem with a word of encouragement? Yes, the authorities cracked down on Walensa, but he kept coming back and coming back.

    Now we look at BO in Israel. He is putting pressure on BB to deal with the PLO and Hamas. Last time I checked, Hamas was listed as a terrorist organization. Why would BO encourage a terror group, but not support a group wanting to break free of the repression in Iran. These two actions seemed diametrically opposed to each other.

  17. Several websites, most notably Andrew Sullivan’s, have redone their color schemes in greem to show solidarity with the Iranians who believe that their election was fraudulent. Me, I want to believe that it was fraudulent, but there has been so much heat and so little light on this issue, and virtually no information that hasn’t been refracted through biased lenses, that I don’t know what to believe. President Ahmadinejad might have stolen the election, or he might have won legitimately.

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