Monday, June 15, 2009

Protests in Persia

I would be remiss if I did not make some comment on the elections and subsequent turmoil in Iran. On the face of it, I'm not making news by saying that the results sound fishy. In a country as young and urban as Iran, it seems unlikely that even if Ahmadinejad won, he could have won by as many votes as seems to have happened. As Mr Biden said, the numbers don't seem to add up.

Dan Drezner has an interesting take on how this result is actually better for the US in regards to Iran's nuclear program. In short, the nukes are controlled by the ayatollah, not the president, so the election of a "reform-minded" president unrealistically raises expectations of progress. That's probably not going to give much comfort to these people.

There's been a constant murmur over the past few years about the potential of the young (more liberal) Iranian population, and their ability to influence Iranian policy. If nothing else, the events of the past few days put a damper on that thought. We are reminded that Iran is not a democracy. What's worse, even the nod to democracy that is the presidential election has seemingly been subverted. While the Ayatollah makes the decisions at the end of the day, allowing for slightly more liberal presidents, popularly elected, would be a start. Alas, it seems, that was not to be.

(I highly recommend going through the multiple galleries of photos from Tehran over at TPM. As always, pictures can evoke emotions that mere words cannot.)

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