Friday, August 14, 2009

Iran Leaders Request Investigation of Supereme Leader: An Iranian My Lai? Maybe, Maybe Not

This could be interesting. The Associated Press is covering an evolving news story:
"A group of former reformist lawmakers has appealed to a powerful clerical body in Iran to investigate Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's qualification to rule after the controversial postelection crackdown...."
A British think tank came up with a (wildly improbable) scenario that would account for how the recent Iranian presidential election published results could have been the result of something other than massive fraud. I don't think they were trying to legitimize the election: One thing academics do is explore all possible explanations for observed phenomena. (June 22, 2009)

All things considered, including the embarrassing detail that there were move votes cast than voters in 50 cities, I think it's a foregone conclusion that the ayatollahs, or someone under them, rigged the election. And made a shoddy job of it.

What happens next; whether or not the Assembly of Experts responds to the letter; and what happens to those opposition lawmakers; will tell the world more about Iran's leadership. I'd like to think that the Assembly of Experts will see the error of their ways, and start setting up a government along the lines of Western democracies. The odds for that are about the same as the odds that the presidential election wasn't rigged.

I think the question is whether or not opposition leaders will start dying or disappearing soon.

The AP story has an update. One of the opposition leaders had the good sense to compare allegations of misconduct to the Great Satan America. Specifically, to what America did in Abu Ghraib.
"...Despite the uproar, the opposition leader, Mahdi Karroubi, pushed ahead with criticism, saying some detainees were tortured to death in the crackdown and said he had reports of Abu Ghraib-like abuses...."

'Just Like Abu Ghraib'

When the news broke, in May of 2004, that 'the American military' had been torturing prisoners (taking kinky photos of them, at any rate) at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, American military officials had been investigating the matter for about nine months.

A few nitwits with a twisted sense of fun, a camera, and no common sense had, in fact, subjected prisoners to unacceptable indignities. And, with world-class nincompoopery, kept the photos. Which recorded some of their faces. (January 25, 2009)

Opposition to Supreme Leader Isn't Solidarity With the West

Even assuming that Iran's opposition leaders manage to get a new Supreme Leader, I don't think Iran will become a kinder, gentler nation. More careful, less self-destructive, maybe: but with a different set of Islamic crazies in charge.

I think that, eventually, Iran will come out of this period with a government that's a bit more willing to live in the Information Age and take advantage of human rights conventions that the rest of us have learned to live with.

My hope is that it won't be after Iran's leaders find out what happens when the Russian Federation, the European Union, China, and other countries do after a nuclear attack. It seems that the West, at least, may be getting over Hiroshima. (January 25, 2008) The Russian Federation has already declared a first-strike nuclear weapons policy. (January 19, 2008)

Information Age Technology Has Changed the Rules

I'm far from being a technological determinist, but I think that Information Age technology has changed the rules for national and cultural leaders. In the 'good old days,' information gatekeepers, in America at least, a relatively small number of people who lived in a handful of cities and who had, to an increasing extent, very similar assumptions about what the world was, and what people should feel about it.

Decades ago, it was relatively easy to turn a military encounter into an emblem of all that was icky about the 'military-industrial complex.' I'm not sure how successful traditional American gatekeepers would be, making another My Lai today.

Today, with hordes of out-of-control people (like me) publishing just about anything they want, with or without permission of their betters, we've freedom of expression of a sort that hasn't existed for decades - if ever. The closest equivalent I can think of is the sort of grassroots discussion and debate that has been possible in towns and smaller cities.

I think Iran's leadership made several mistakes in the recent presidential election. First, they should have found more competent people to handle rigging the election. Recording more votes than you've got voters is just plain sloppy work. Second, I don't think they have quite gotten used to the idea that just about anybody with a cell phone or access to an Internet connection can reach a global audience in a matter of minutes.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.