What about Iran?

23 06 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, with Father’s Day, car shows, reading for fun and profit, and work around the house taking up most of my time.  But for a good part of the weekend, I was glued to my computer screen watching the videos and reading the bits of information coming out of Iran.  Yeah, the situation was building up for a few days, but the whole thing seemed to come to a head Saturday afternoon.

Despotic regimes come and go, and people die trying to uphold or overturn them.  But watching people your age stand up for freedom and then mowed down by armed government thugs or teargassed into submission is horrifying.  So are the reports that government agents waited in hospitals to take the names of the injured, presumably for further “investigation.”  It really makes you think.  Sure makes me think, at least.

Sure, Mousavi might not be much better than Ahmadinejad in the grand scheme of Iranian politics (I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject).  Maybe the protesters were fighting for a lie, confused by what their media and religious leaders told them to believe.  But the reports of rooftop chants of “death to Khomeini” would seem to indicate to me that this proto-revolution has grown into something more: a fight for liberty.  The relatively well-educated youth (a large part of the country’s population) seem to be yearning for the freedoms we’ve taken for granted here for generations.

This particular fight for freedom is all the more real to me because of the Twitter posts (Tweets?) ostensibly by actual Iranians in the middle of everything.  I hate the concept of Twitter, but it brings a major news event like this home to those of us who grew up with the internet in much the same way that color broadcasts from Vietnam brought that war into your living rooms.  You can view some of them here.  Many Facebook posts and videos that somehow managed to sneak out from the cone of silence surrounding the country, some showing protesters pelting goons with rocks, others of young people dying in the street.

If there’s one thing I noticed about the Twitter posts coming out of Iran, it was the multitude of references to the American Revolution.  That famous quote by Thomas Paine—”These are the times that try men’s souls”—seemed to be quite popular.  There were more chilling Tweets reminding us that we should never let our guard down lest this happen to us here at home.  One poster explained that “This is why you Americans must never give up your guns,” and another put it even more starkly: “GUN CONTROL=SLAUGHTER.”  You try facing down armed government thugs with rocks. It’s not pretty.  There’s a reason that the right to bear arms is usually one of the first rights abrogated by a despotic regime…

We are blessed to have the stable, relatively fair and transparent system that we do, and so long as we are vigilant, we’ll never end up like Iran.  So what touched me more than the message was the fact that these young Iranians, far from blindly hating Americans, were actually trying to reach out to us for moral support and to offer a word of warning.  The lack of stated support for the protesters was shocking to me, and must have been positively crushing for the protesters themselves.

The pitiful equivocation issued by the President in between ice cream runs on Saturday managed to say absolutely nothing—surely, he can’t still be planning on meeting these cretins without conditions after an election that even  Jimmy Carter would have trouble certifying as legitimate, can he?   While it would be easy enough to acidentally “lose” some of the guns ‘n ammo being used across the border in Iraq and to then allow those guns to be “found” by anti-regime Iranians, I can understand the wisdom in not allowing that to happen.

But come on, don’t wait a few days before taking a firm stance (which he hasn’t even really done now, despite some sly attempts at backpedalling).  Several western countries (Germany, Canada, Australia, and probably others) opened their embassies to treat the wounded after it became clear that the hospitals were not safe for anti-Ahmadinejad protestors.  We couldn’t even issue a clear statement of support?  I’m just not feeling that.

The most recent rationalization is that by supporting the protesters, we’d be delegitimizing them since it would seem like the U.S. was somehow behind it.  Seeing as the current Iranian regime has just demonstrated the extend of the illegitimacy, I’m not really sure what we  (or the Iranian people) would have to lose.  To be fair, the President was a bit more harsh today, but compared to the harshness of the Iranian government, I’d still say he needs to grow a spine.

Again, I’m not an expert on international politics or Iran by any means.  My second rate, non-Ivy League mind tells me that by allying ourselves, if only verbally, with the protesters, we’d be able to get future relations with a new, legitimate Iranian government off to a good start.  Instead, we’ve just shown them that we’re more interested in reserving a seat at the table with the despot that they fervently hate than upholding their fundamental right to self-determination.  And giving representatives of an illegitimate regime hot dogs (presumably Halal ones?) and baked beans, or something.

But backwards, irrational thinking like that is why I’ll never be President.

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One response

25 06 2009
kathusitalo

Thoughtful.
I’ll vote for you.

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