Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran's Election: The West Has been Meddling - Sort of

Iran's ayatollahs blame their problems on the British and other meddling foreigners. I can see their point: it's easier to blame 'outside agitators,' than acknowledge shortcomings in one's own system.

And, while Iran's rulers are blaming Britain, America, and the west in general for their problems, at least one Iranian man has pleaded with America, Britain, and the west in general to get involved.

Note to Election Organizers: Don't Report More Votes than Voters

Press TV, Iran's government-funded news service, reported that there were "excessive ballots" in 50 Iranian cities. But not to worry: Press TV also reported that Iran's Guardian Council declared that this irregularity didn't affect the election's outcome. (CNN)

Meanwhile, in Britain, researchers from the University of St Andrews and a London think tank, Chatham House found a scenario that would fit, more or less, the official results. Their model, however, requires some whacking great assumptions, and is wildly improbable.
"...'The analysis shows that the scale of the swing to Ahmadinejad would have had to have been extraordinary to achieve the stated result,' said Ali Ansari, Professor of Iranian Studies at St Andrews...." (Times Online)

Europeans, Spies, and Other Outside Agitators

Meanwhile, Iran's own Fars news agency reported that five European spies were arrested. Coming on the heels of Roxana Saberi's experience, I'm a trifle dubious.

I'm fairly sure that five Europeans were arrested: whether or not they were involved in espionage is an entirely different matter.

Iran's rulers, by and large, seem to have decided to stick with their 'outside agitators' story.
"...Iran's foreign minister accused Britain of stirring the protests, saying the UK has 'plotted against the presidential election for two years'.

"Manouchehr Mottaki, who also criticised interventions by France and Germany, claimed: 'We witnessed an influx of people before the election. Elements linked to the British secret service were flying in in droves.'

"His comments come after Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused "the evil British government" last week of interfering in the June 12 election...." (The Press Association)
Despite Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's insistence that "the evil British government" interfered in the June 12 election, I am not at all convinced that this is the case. From the looks of things, the ayatollahs have mismanaged their country to the point where a fair percentage of Iranians are fed up.

On the other hand, it's pretty obvious that "the evil British government" is keeping an eye on events in Iran. They're not alone. As President Obama said, "the whole world is watching."

In a Sense, the West is Meddling: By Paying Attention

Governments in America, the United Kingdom, and other places in the west, have gotten used to the idea that whatever they do or say may get into the news. Calling journalists, photographers, and the rest of the press "the fourth estate" goes back at least to Thomas Carlyle's book on the French Revolution. (More at "History of the free press," Media Law, Journalism Ethics)

There's a sort of dynamic stability between the government's (real or imagined) need to keep the masses and leaders of other countries from knowing what's going on; and journalists' need (real or imagined) to publish everything they know or surmise, regardless of the consequences.

Places like North Korea and Iran don't seem to be run that way. The press in these and similar regimes can be relied upon, for the most part, to promote the policies and personalities of whoever is in charge.

Given the roles of the press in Iran and in the west, I think I can understand why Iran has expelled a BBC correspondent. I think it's possible that the ayatollahs believe that the United Kingdom and other western powers are meddling.
"...Speaking to reporters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi alleged that foreign media organizations, such as CNN and the BBC, were mouthpieces of their respective governments that were exaggerating reports of police clashes with protesters who have demonstrated daily since the June 12 race...." (CNN)
Given their cultural assumptions, and their management of Iran's press, it may be natural for them to assume that all nations are like their Iran.

Whether or not CNN and the BBC are mouthpieces of their respective governments, I think it's very likely that coverage of Iran's election has influenced the election's outcome. Iranians were able, by reading and viewing reports by a press which isn't controlled by the ayatollahs, to gather information and form opinions in ways not approved by their rulers.

One Iranian Man's Plea

A man identifying himself as an Iranian student called CNN's "American Morning" this morning. CNN posted an edited transcript of the interview. Mohammad clearly does not approve of how the ayatollahs have been running his country:
"...For about three decades our nation has been humiliated and insulted by this regime. Now Iranians are united again one more time after 1979 Revolution. We are a peaceful nation. We don't hate anybody. We want to be an active member of the international community. We don't want to be isolated… We don't deny the Holocaust. We do accept Israel's rights. And actually, we want — we want severe reform on this structure. This structure is not going to be tolerated by the majority of Iranians. We need severe reform, as much as possible."

And, later in the interview:

"Americans, European Union, international community, this government ... is definitely not elected by the majority of Iranians. So it's illegal. Do not recognize it. Stop trading with them. Impose much more sanctions against them. My message-to the international community, especially I'm addressing President Obama directly - how can a government that doesn't recognize its people's rights and represses them brutally and mercilessly have nuclear activities? This government is a huge threat to global peace. Will a wise man give a sharp dagger to an insane person? We need your help international community. Don't leave us alone." (CNN)
That's just one man's voice. But, from the thousands of enforcers needed to keep protesters quiet, I'd say that he's not alone.

What's going on in Iran is far beyond one side in a political contest not liking the result. Even Iran's official news acknowledges that their election was, at the very least, highly irregular.

What appears to be blatant, massive, election fraud intended to keep an incumbent in office; followed by the nation's highest official giving his blessing to the results; would be intolerable in America. Many Iranians appear to believe that it's intolerable in their country, too.

Related posts: In the news:

4 comments:

Brigid said...

"whether or not the were involved in espionage"

I think you meant 'they' here.

And oy.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Right you are. I make that typo more often then you might think. Or, then again, maybe no.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the accusation from Ahmadinejad:


I just want to make it clear that Human Rights are inalienable to each and every man and woman, no matter where they live. They can not be truly considered an "American" issue, or a "Western" issue, or an "Iranian" issue, or even an "International" issue. They are a Human issue, and the last time it was checked, both President Obama and President Ahmadinejad are human beings. Therefore, any issues concerning human rights should be considered to be discussed on a much higher platform then just international politics.

I will never tell a bear how it should treat other bears, because it is not my place, but if Ahmadinejad thinks the national sovereignty of Iran gives him the right to treat people barbarically, he is about to be rudely awaken.

The fact is, Obama isn't condemning the brutality of Ajmadinejad's government, but the brutality of the man himself. Let each and every one of us be judged individually on how we treat our fellow man.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for the comment. I think this is the first time that this blog had an inside view of the American president's mind.

And, give my regards to the bears.

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