Saturday, June 20, 2009

"The Whole World is Watching" - But This Isn't the Sixties

Whatever is happening in Iran is messy. Tehran hospitals say 19 people were killed today. My guess is that the real body count is closer to the 150 mentioned in "unconfirmed reports." (CNN) I think this may be a Middle Eastern conflict where the lions of Islam want to claim as few kills as possible.

And a suicide bomb went off today. At a shrine of Iran's revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Killing three people. (Reuters)

Maybe I'm being too cynical, but considering that this is likely to fire up people who revere Ayatollah Khomeini, and it got reported on Iran's state television, my guess is that whoever wound up the bomber and pointed him at the shrine was working for the current Supreme Leader.

"The Whole World is Watching"

On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama told Iran, "The whole world is watching." If you think you've heard that slogan before, you're probably remembering the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. "The whole world is watching" was chanted by demonstrators before the violence that you probably heard described as a "police riot." (jo see Background, below)

It's true enough: quite a few people around the world are watching. And showing support for those in Iran who aren't entirely satisfied with the Islamic Republic's leadership.

Although that quote from the sixties is appropriate in this context, I don't think that a 'sixties' approach to the violence in Iran makes all that much sense.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Quoting from this blog's description:
"...The Cold War, WWII, and WWI are over. The 19th and 20th centuries' class conflicts and colonial issues are behind us. 'Oppressed proletariat' and 'European expansionism' are no longer relevant. Religious fanatics want their beliefs to rule the world. Free people want to stay that way...."
I'm aware that decisions and actions have consequences.

We will be living with the results of the treaty of Versailles' arbitrary drawing of national boundaries in places like Africa for the foreseeable future. Today's conflict between the children of Abraham in the Middle East can reasonably be traced back thousands of years.

But we're living in the early decades of the Information Age. Attitudes, slogans, and ways of perceiving the world that might have made sense fifty years ago don't necessarily fit today's reality.

Two years ago, I watched journalists and others struggle with the idea that terrorists might not be poor and uneducated people, ground under the heel of oppressor plutocrats.1

We seem to have gotten through that learning experience rather well. I think most people who have been paying attention realize that we're living with "a better class of terrorist" today. (July 8, 2007)

Should America Get Involved?

My sympathies are with the people whose friends and relatives are being killed by the Islamic Republic's enforcers. I hope that the conflict will be resolved soon.

But I do not think that America, or Britain (" 'the most evil' of Iran’s enemies" according to the Supreme Leader (NYT)), or any other country should get involved.

The way I see it, at this point the Ayatollahs are doing a fine job of tearing apart their own government. My guess is that their brutal attempts to suppress criticism of their dubiously-legitimate election are alienating many Iranians. It's not a good sign when a young, energetic, courageous Iranian says "...'To hell with Iran,' ... 'This is not my government. This is not my country.'..." (June 15, 2009)

Not good if you're an Iranian Ayatollah, that is.

Related posts: News and views: Background
1 Not all 'intelligent' people had quite that thoroughly Marxian a world view: but I think elements of the 'class struggle' view of human affairs were strongly represented.


Mark said...

To call Obama's statement a 60s approach is not fair. And it misses the point. I agree that we have to stay out of it. But Obama also has to say something. This is the one way he can do it, by appealing to universally recognized, if not universally honored, human rights. His statements both on Friday and Saturday are consistent with such an approach.

Brian H. Gill said...


I didn't, I think, call Obama's statement a 60s approach. I see how that implication might be seen, though.

And, I have argued before that President Obama is an astute, gifted orator.

My intent was to use his soon-to-be-historic statement as a jumping off point for a discussion of world views.

Derek Gibson said...

I understand that fundamentals here but must point out that Western media has its own limitations. The media is forever focused on what is popular to consumers. So if cricket or anything else popular-culture is more popular than election issues, these things receive the coverage, unfortunately. However what's really ironic is that individual members of a society are not really deciding what is popular but rather the media decides what gets the most coverage and media really dictates what is popular. Albeit individuals have some choice about what to pay attention to - from a limited menu of issues presented by the media - but these “choices” are not necessarily ones that are most important. Missing today is any intellectual debate; however, sites and forums that allow free range user generated content about whatever is of interest can be a step in the right direction where individuals can decide what is important.

Brian H. Gill said...

Derek Gibson,

Interesting points. Use this blog's search function (upper left corner), and type in "gatekeeper" (no quotes).

I've discussed the changing role of news media - and how traditional information gatekeepers no longer have the lock on the flow of information, that they had when I was growing up.

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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.