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June 25, 2005

Comments

Apologies for reposting this, but I really would like to know why, after your calls for action against Sunni/Salafi/Wahhabi/Al Qaeda relgious doctrine, you are so loudly beating this drum of regime change in Iran?

It is also worth noting that Iran shares with the United States a detestation of Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida and other violent jihadi groups, steeped in salafi doctrine. Iran, the fountainhead of Shi‘ism and the champion of oppressed Shi‘is everywhere, is virulently opposed to all forms of extreme Sunni orthodoxy and militancy. The sentiment is reciprocated.link

I realize that it is all about freedom for you, but doesn't the faintest hint of realpolitik thinking enter in here? I feel like this is precisely the same situation that has been created with North Korea.

Another resource to be tapped with discretion is Iran. Says Mahan Abedin, editor of Terrorism Monitor, and who is currently researching a book on Iranian intelligence services: "The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 did not come as a surprise to the Iranian intelligence community, primarily because they had been engaged in their own covert war against the Taliban and its international Islamist allies for many years. Indeed, under different political circumstances, Iranian intelligence could have provided valuable help to the U.S. in the war against Salafi Islamist terrorism. Iran's Ministry of Intelligence & National Security (VEVAK) and the intelligence directorate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arguably have a better understanding of Wahhabi/Salafi terrorist networks and their institutional and ideological roots in Saudi Arabia than most other major intelligence organizations. They have gained such knowledge through the penetration of Wahhabi missionary/terror groups in Pakistan, which has been a priority for Iranian intelligence over the past 20 years. This priority stems not only from Iran's self-perceived responsibility to protect Pakistan's Shi'a community, but more importantly from a desire to pre-empt Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi subversion amongst Iran's tiny Sunni minority." link

The article by Abedin is here

If I seem a bit grumpy about this, it is based on the fact that I really don't like having to argue realpolitik. In fact, when the Freedom house writes

Governments, donors, and democracy NGOS should simply proclaim the broad objective of helping empower citizens everywhere and giving them the capacity to govern themselves. Doing otherwise, especially in the case of Iran, emboldens the regime’s calls for anti-Americanism and stigmatizes pro-democracy groups as “Western” or otherwise inauthentic.

seems to contradict your praise of Bush's 2nd inaugural as well as his comments in the runup to the Iranian election. When are you going to admit that this admin has no idea about foreign policy?

Holy smokes, are you trying to help Bush blow up the world?

Ok OK, I know that things suck in countries other than Iraq, including Iran, Syria and Jordan and whatever, but we really don't need to get so feverishly worked up at this point about Iran. Bush has already done that for LINK:http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1B5FCF4A-FBF6-443A-93A9-5E37C43FDE0B.htm) for us.

Not that you shouldn't be keeping a eye on ANYONE with atomic weapons, but your post is just a SCREAMER that reads like it was written by John Bolton.

Get a grip.

Yipes, Charles: 3885 words. Almost 18 PgDns worth. I thought blogs were short form... Maybe this is just the ADD speaking, but I don't generally equate greater length with greater impact.

It seems to me that 1000 words or so ought to be the *maximum* length for a single post. Maybe you could consider more judicious editing, and/or breaking an encyclopedia like this into two or three shorter, more focused posts? Just a suggestion.

Thanks for the round-up, CB.

That quote from the Chinese foreign minister is particularly interesting, as I don't recall that country issuing so strong claims in foreign policy outside their immediate sphere of influence or outside the UN security council context. China seems to be increasingly willing to flex its muscle these days (UNOCAL, anyone?).

There are a number of emphases I tend to disagree with in this post, but one suggestion I can get behind: journalists' reporting on whether they were "minded" or not. If the journalists are any good, they should be able to file an interesting report whether or not they're minded; the rote articles might indeed lose credit, and that's perhaps not for the worse.

I hope more facts come in. Not holding my breath. Also praying that nobody uses this election as a stick to beat anyone into war.

You are doing great work Charles, even though it may take me several days to read every word and a week to follow the links.

"Also, I get the impression that China wouldn't mind a few craters where bomb-making facilities used to be."

Look at America, at the unpopularity of the war resistance to a draft. Look around the world, which has demobilized at the end of the cold war. If "we" (maybe just Charles, Bush and me, for those who didn't know I was a hawk.) are going to succeed at a ME Project, are going to win the GWOT........

the only available, possible 300-400k troops are in China. Just saying.

As to why winning the war is important, and why GWB should be at least impeached for destabilizing without providing the resources necessary to stabilize the area, I will quote Stirling Newberry, who believes we are already lost, due to the incompetent, corrupt chimp in the WH:

"There is only one way for an American occupation of Iraq to work, and that would be to shift America over to a war footing, complete with rationing, very high tax rates on the wealthy, controls on investment and imports, and either conscription or reorganization of the military to deploy the 300K troops with at least 100K offensively deployable marines and soldiers required to lock down the center of Iraq. [Ed: Why I mention China]

Absent this kind of total war committment, the United States will have to either engineer a broad coalition in Iraq, a vastly different political solution from the one now being imposed, and give up the idea that we will ever turn a profit from our involvement.

The last choice on the menu is failure, failure that comes quickly or slowly, but failure - a failed state in Iraq, moving increasingly in the orbit of a hardline regime in Iran, and into the hands of Islamist extremists who will treat it as Afghanistan with oil."

Charles,

Why would a democratic Iran be less inclined to acquired atomic weapons?

"Why would a democratic Iran be less inclined to acquired atomic weapons?"

Every nation with atomic weapons is a potential target.
No democracy is likely to vote to become a target.

Of course the scenario in which Israel or NK or England is the target of a counterforce preemption is not one we can really think about.

Bob M: some democratic countries can get pretty deeply into the idea of proving that they can too develop nuclear weapons, though. Especially when we put them on the axis of evil, which both Iran and North Korea seem to have taken to mean: you're next.

No democracy is likely to vote to become a target.
That's the subject of some discussion here in Japan. Here's a pdf that gives statements by politicians concerning Japan going nuclear, though it is rather sanguine about the prospects, here is a Japan Times article about the possibility of a nuclear Japan, and this article suggests that discussion is now possible.

On a tangent, but I did want to toss this url out on China's nuclear arsenal. Also, China is in the process of slimming down its armed forces.

Every nation with atomic weapons is a potential target.
No democracy is likely to vote to become a target.

The problem is that, pace the Axis of Evil, Iran already is a target; and democracies are notorious (if that's the right word) for voting to give other countries the finger.

"Every nation with atomic weapons is a potential target.
No democracy is likely to vote to become a target."

Including India? It seems likely to me that a democracy will respond to its unique circumstances wen deciding any issue, including whether or not to aquire nuclear weapons. Even a democratic Iran may decide that nuclear weapons are a necessary deterent given it has several nuclear neighbors: India, Pakistan, China, and unnofically (as so I suppose argueably) Israel.

For an election that supposedly only chooses a hand-puppet for the Council of Guardians, this is certainly a thorough discussion about the possibility of cheating. The article should also consider, however, the frightening question which I suspect spurred the suspicions of fraud:

Did the Iranian people, given a choice between moderate, pragmatic and conservative candidates, actively and rather overwhelmingly chose one of the most hard-line conservatives offered?

Noone can claim that the Iranian election was free or fair, but there is a strong possibility that it was actually representative.

Charles, all, alas, I have to do, is read a few paragraphs of this, to see that you are literally war-mongering.

This does not make, it turns out, your previous series of posts on Iran more interesting, but, in fact, far less, to some of us.

"Every nation with atomic weapons is a potential target. No democracy is likely to vote to become a target."

Posted by: bob mcmanus


Bob, where do you come up with stuff like this?

The UK, France, Israel, and India voted to procure nuclear weapons (or, in the case of Israel, din't necessarily vot *for* it, but has not voted *against* it).

Why? One reason would be national pride, another would be that much of the electorate felt that they needed them, due to external threats (i.e., they already *were* a target). And didn't want to rely on the 'nuclear umbrella' of another.

All three reasons fit Iran, from what I've heard.

"Every nation with atomic weapons is a potential target. No democracy is likely to vote to become a target."

Posted by: bob mcmanus


Bob, where do you come up with stuff like this?

The UK, France, Israel, and India voted to procure nuclear weapons (or, in the case of Israel, din't necessarily vot *for* it, but has not voted *against* it).

Why? One reason would be national pride, another would be that much of the electorate felt that they needed them, due to external threats (i.e., they already *were* a target). And didn't want to rely on the 'nuclear umbrella' of another.

All three reasons fit Iran, from what I've heard.

Duh, the multiple post.

"If "we" (maybe just Charles, Bush and me, for those who didn't know I was a hawk.) are going to succeed at a ME Project, are going to win the GWOT........"

I count eight dots there, and I have no idea why there are five more than the following five commas,,,,,

I don't know, maybe they close as many things as these: )))))

Why do people wwwwwrrrrrriitttteeee like..........;thisssssssssa^^^^^?????

hhhhhooooowwww dooooo theeeeeeeeyyyyyyy thginkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk itttttt hellllllpsssssss???????????????

The Chicago Manual of Style is actually quite clear. Emphasis is best laid by words. Not via an excess of incorrect punctuation.

Did you have trouble gleaning what he meant, Gary?

I have to admit that it's likely a main reason I hate ludicrous punctuation is that I felt so humiliated that it took me until I was 15-16 or so to grasp the point, and only after I was corrected by others. Given all the stuff I'd put into print in the previous couple of years, it was extremely embarrassing.

About the actual post: I'm puzzled by the claim that "the election results don't matter anyway." Obviously, the country is run by Khamenei et al. But the President has some power as well. There is, to me, a big difference between having a president who forces the Supreme Council to fight each step of the way and one who cheers them on. This difference is especially important given that Iran is not only getting nuclear weapons, but sitting on the border with Iraq, and that the person they just elected is notable, among other things, for his outspoken praise of the original Iranian revolution, with its expansionist Shi'a agenda. It also makes a big difference whether any of the people in positions of power have a clue about international relations, and about the likely consequences of various courses of action. Ahmadinejad does not, and this is not good at all.

Second, are you seriously asserting that the widely publicized intervention of a person the populace hates into the election had no effect? If so, why?

Third, about the claim that "there's never a bad time to speak truth to tyranny": really? (Note: nothing I'm about to say concerns whether or not a President should lie -- except in rare cases, I think he should not -- but whether , given the choice between speaking the truth and saying nothing, at least temporarily, there's ever a reason to choose the latter.)

I would have thought that when a person is President of the US, he needs to consider not just the truth of what he says, but also the effects of saying it on America's interests, and on the interests of others. One can always choose not to say anything, or (in this case) to put off speaking truth for a few days; when this will advance our interests, why wouldn't it be right to do so?

In order for it to be true that "there's never a bad time to speak truth to tyranny", and that this was true for US Presidents in particular, you would have to think one of two things: first, that what a US President say does not affect US interests, or second, that calling out a tyrant, in particular, never harms US interests, or third, that the President does not need to consider the effects of what he says on US interests. Frankly, I can't see why anyone would think that any of these claims is true.

I'm baffled by that one, too. The administration has been lecturing people for nearly five years now on how important words are, and how we have to be careful about what we say and when we say it. McCain, Cheney, McLellan, Fleischer, Bush . . . they've all beat that drum. Apparently it's a rule that only applies to non-Republican non-Presidents, or something.

It is funny to watch the "Newsweek Lied, People Died" crowd quickly retreat from the idea that words have meanings and can affect things, though.

Apologies for reposting this, but I really would like to know why, after your calls for action against Sunni/Salafi/Wahhabi/Al Qaeda relgious doctrine, you are so loudly beating this drum of regime change in Iran?

My policy is regime change for lots of countries, LJ, not just Iran. If a government gives its people more freedoms and adopts real democratic reforms, then the regime has changed.

...seems to contradict your praise of Bush's 2nd inaugural as well as his comments in the runup to the Iranian election.

Read again Bush's June 16th statement, LJ. Bush didn't call for regime change or boycotting. All he did was speak truth about the current regime and send a message to the people that they deserved better.

If I seem a bit grumpy about this, it is based on the fact that I really don't like having to argue realpolitik

The second inaugural is now current administration policy. Condi Rice is putting that policy into practice. It's about as realpolitik as it gets.

When are you going to admit that this admin has no idea about foreign policy?

No idea? Tell that to Afghanistan, Iraq, the PA, Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon, etc. Tell that to Libya, which dropped its nuclear program and allowed Amnesty International in for the first time in years.

It seems to me that 1000 words or so ought to be the *maximum* length for a single post.

I let a couple of parts get away from me, Jack. I don't intend to write such long treatises in the future.

but your post is just a SCREAMER that reads like it was written by John Bolton.

What screaming, fazzaz? What was so "feverishly worked up" about it?

Why would a democratic Iran be less inclined to acquired atomic weapons?

What matters, mule, is the type of government that has the nukes. We don't fret when Britain, France or even India have an aresenal. Hezbollah gets $100 million from the Iranian mullahs. If they get an atomic bomb in their next stipend, that would be an imminent threat to the existence of Israel and possibly to our own security, putting us at risk to nuclear blackmail ("quit your occupation of Iraq or the Zionist streets will glow in a sea of fire").

a main reason I hate ludicrous punctuation is that I felt so humiliated that it took me until I was 15-16 or so to grasp the point, and only after I was corrected by others.

In hopes of avoiding the appearance of being judgemental (or grumpy) on this, I'll relate a personal anecdote. On an email list several years ago, I had an extended and, well, nasty exchange with a person and one of the things that I focussed on was the person's spelling, making an explicit linkage to his spelling ability and the value of his arguments. A year or so later, I came to learn that he was dyslexic and it was something that was a great problem for him. Of course, I had less excuse, because I was never humiliated for my spelling ability, but I relate this personal failing of mine simply to observe that perhaps humiliating people is not the best way of approaching things.

Chas,
No idea? Tell that to Afghanistan, Iraq, the PA, Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon, etc. Tell that to Libya, which dropped its nuclear program and allowed Amnesty International in for the first time in years.
Afghanistan? Iraq? And if you could tell me exactly what US foreign policy has done in the other places you listed (with links to statements by the administration) I would be all ears. I'm also glad that the Amnesty membership is working out for you. Couple of names that I hope you could discuss in regards to US foreign policy would be Mukhtaran Mai, Islam Karimov.

I also note that you don't take up any discussion of the main point I raise, which is the Sunni/Shi'a split. If you think the main job of the president is to prevent another 9/11, if you could tell me how it is in our best interests to do our best to alienate Iran, which, as a sovereign state, has a much stronger reason to short circuit terrorist attacks (because as a sovereign state, we know where they live), I'd love to be enlightened. On the other hand, if you feel that it is the task of the US to provide freedom and liberty to the rest of the world, please let me know how much we should be willing to pay for the privilege (or conversely, how many 9/11's we should be willing to accept in order to get this done) I would appreciate it.

Your notion that Hezbollah would attempt to detonate a nuclear device in Israel is a very novel idea, especially since the capital of Israel has some of the holiest sites in Islam. Might they also be considering a "laser" on the moon? How do you say 'Dr. Evil' in Arabic?

This does not make, it turns out, your previous series of posts on Iran more interesting, but, in fact, far less, to some of us.

Taking a page from Tacitus, Gary.

But the President has some power as well.

Hil, with an electoral process completely closed off and controlled by the Guardian Council, was there any assurance that Hashemi ever had a chance? Even if he did, which I doubt, he was not the reform candidate that folks made him out to be. If he were, he would've been with the other 1,000 or so who were stricken from the ballot. Even if by some chance he did "win", and even if he were to propose a few modest reforms, the GC still has absolute veto power. Like I said, master puppeteers.

Second, are you seriously asserting that the widely publicized intervention of a person the populace hates into the election had no effect?

There is no verifiable evidence that Bush's words (BTW, I dispute that it was a "publicized intervention") did have such an effect, or that Ahmadinejad even won the popular vote. All we have is a propaganda campaign and its respondents therefrom. The "election" was already a sham well before the words were spoken. While it's clear the regime hates Bush, any evidence that Bush is "a person the populace hates" must be suspect when the country in question has no free press and no free speech rights.

Anders: Noone can claim that the Iranian election was free or fair, but there is a strong possibility that it was actually representative.

Well said.

And Charles, you still haven't addressed the whole bombing != "act of belligerence" shtick from a while back. Given that you've spilled almost 4000 words on this subject, would you mind doing so now? In particular, I'm curious as to whether you can elaborate on this:

What if there is incontrovertible evidence that Iran is building nuclear bombs? In my view, vaporize the facilities, but not with nukes. The regime harbors and sponsors international terrorism, giving $100 million a year to Hezbollah. An Iran with atomic bombs is a threat to our security. Given what was just written in the prior, does this violate the principles of Gandhi? No, because the United States is not an Iranian civic coalition, but a sovereign nation. [Emph mine]

since, as written, this seems to take rank hypocrisy to new and exalted heights.

Charles's point about the media coverage bears listening to.

Though I must admit that I'm rereading the very depressing 2d volume of Manchester's Churchill biography, where the pusilanimity of the British press is just staggering.

The Times's editor regularly pulled any stories by his reporters in Germany that would potentially annoy the Germans, and the press was generally determined to portray Hitler and Germany as simply a more modern, efficient gov't than Britain's, albeit with a few more anti-Semitic jokes.

Charles is not wrong to remind us that any press coverage of Iran's elections that *doesn't* remind us of what kind of regime, and elections, we're talking about, is positively misleading.

As for regime change, I continue to suspect that the Iranians will do a better job of it themselves than we ever could.

Charles: any of the reform candidates in the first round would have been better than Rafsanjani, I think, and Rafsanjani would have been better than Ahmadinejad. Clearly, some of the candidates who were excluded would have been better than any of these, but it's still true that the Ahmadinejad is, as far as I can tell, the worst of all.

What sort of verifiable evidence would satisfy you that Bush's comments were counterproductive, or that he is not popular with Iranians? And why would he be popular, given that the US as a whole is not popular, and that Bush in particular is the one who put them in the axis of evil and made a lot of worries about American imperialism in the Middle East, which would have seemed paranoid under Clinton, suddenly look reasonable again?

If Iran ever gets a nuclear weapon, you can bet they won't be giving it to Hez. First, there's nothing Hez can do with the thing that Iran couldn't -- any use or threatened use by Hez would be immediately traceable to Iran. Second, no one in their right mind gives a nuke to someone who cannot keep it secure. (Could Syria, for example, steal a nuke from Hez? Easier than it could from Iran. Maybe the Mossad could steal it -- Iran should and probably does fear that Hez has been infiltrated.) Iran's going to keep its nukes under tight control.

If Iran gets nukes, it'll be right where everyone else with a bomb is: unable to use them, unafraid that someone else is going to use one against it.

My policy is regime change for lots of countries

And a pony!

We'll certainly be talking about Iran again. It would be nice if we could weed out some of the unreliable sources.

I'll take Heritage and Freedom House and State's analyses on (lack of) media freedom in Iran. Including the background lengthens the piece but may help explain the following section on elections. I'll echo Charles' suggestion that reporters given government minders always note this for their readers. This section is good, but could perhaps have been a separate post.

The elections section is less valuable. Was the media section included to favorably prejudice the sketchier election reports and analysis? For example, perhaps Michael Ledeen's allegation was not investigated as thoroughly as desired because it was as well sourced as this column:
http://www.nationalreview.com/ledeen/ledeen200506241725.asp

According to an Iranian blogger in Italy intriguingly named Lilit,

The site Peiknet received on June 18 an anonymous letter from a 27-year-old Basiji who declared that he voted 11 times, with 8 fake Identity cards, because the supreme Leader wanted him to do so. It is an order of war, it changes the field of battle, the leader says. It is called Operation Nasr, he said in the letter, "islam is in danger and it is necessary to save it by any means" ! Let us forget it, I can do nothing ...

(Thanks to the indispensable Gary Metz at www.regimechangeiran.com)

Hard to believe that was the best sourcing Ledeen could get before launching into his "Hitler vs the SA" screed. Quoting a blogger is justifiable, given the media situation in Iran - but an anonymous report given to that blogger? Some people will listen to Ledeen regardless. As NRO notes, He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute. Which hopefully receives more diligence than his NRO gig.

And are we to assume CB reads the Iranian bloggers regularly, or should there be a series of hat tips (perhaps to regimechangeiran and iranvotes?) for many of these links? Obviously the post was a lot of work. I don't want to blow the whole thing off and start from scratch elsewhere (wikipedia tempts), but skimming the links list and combining that with a WAG about Charles' Iranian expertise... I bet regimechangeiran IS unhappy with the "elections".

Likely sources of analysis that might answer Anders Widebrant's 10:39 AM question would be great if someone has suggestions.

From Gary,

"Charles, all, alas, I have to do, is read a few paragraphs of this, to see that you are literally war-mongering."

That is an interesting synopsis. You do always put your own characteristic spin on textual interpretation.

Hilzoy,

"What sort of verifiable evidence would satisfy you that Bush's comments were counterproductive, or that he is not popular with Iranians? And why would he be popular, given that the US as a whole is not popular, and that Bush in particular is the one who put them in the axis of evil and made a lot of worries about American imperialism in the Middle East, which would have seemed paranoid under Clinton, suddenly look reasonable again?"

This is kind of a weird focus to have considering the method of Iranian elections. The Guardian Council gets what it wants, and the Ayatollahs ensure the election results that they desire. You suggest here and elsewhere that Bush's accurate comments about the Iranian elections may have caused some sort of anti-American sentiment which helped the hardliners win. For this to have a major effect, we have to believe that the choice of the winner resides in the people of Iran. There isn't much of a reason to believe that, so it is difficult for me to see why one should worry very much about Bush's influence on the 'election'. At the very worst, Bush identified accurate concerns about Iran's lack of free elections and the mullahs lied by saying that their previously fixed elections came to the previously fixed result because of Bush's statement instead of as a result of their manipulations.

Sebastian: my take on it was that the mullahs eliminate candidates before hand, and then probably stuff some ballot boxes, but that this leaves the actual votes cast by citizens room to affect the outcome.

I suspect it depends on what you mean by 'affect the outcome'. My take on the situation is that when you control the process from top to bottom you can always make certain that the proper result is broadcast at the proper time. If you think it helps your cause to pretend that your fixed candidate won by more than expected so you can rail against Bush, there really isn't anything anyone can do to stop you. When you control the process as completely as the mullahs do you can take a mayor and make him a president--no matter what the votes actually say.

If you think it helps your cause to pretend that your fixed candidate won by more than expected so you can rail against Bush, there really isn't anything anyone can do to stop you.

The key problem, as I see it, is that it lends an air of legitimacy, however slight, to electoral results that by rights should have been completely worthless. That could potentially have profound consequences for the future of Iran; it might just as equally not. Regardless, it was a boneheaded move by Bush considered as a matter of foreign policy, though I don't doubt it was considered a hit in the realms of domestic manipulation.

If you think it helps your cause to pretend that your fixed candidate won by more than expected so you can rail against Bush, there really isn't anything anyone can do to stop you.

A "Rove-ing rhetorician" badge is on its way to your address! Congratulations!

This NPR interview not only claims high voter turnout, but also blames it on Iranian ex-pats encouraging a boycott. God help us if we have another Cuba. Googling the interviewee led to this rather amazing site. Tons of stuff for both sides.

This quote from the WaPo is of interest

Though they do not challenge authoritarian rule, Iranian elections do force candidates to cater to the real opinion of the public. Intriguingly, not just reformist candidate Mostafa Moin and Mr. Rafsanjani but also some of the most conservative contenders have calculated that the best way to win votes is to offer the hope of domestic reforms and improved relations with the United States. On state television this month, one candidate declared that "if America had a strong president who could put forward a proposal to Iran that was worthy of the Iranian nation, then many things would change." This came from Mohsen Rezai, a former Revolutionary Guards commander and secretary of the clerical council that blocked most of Mr. Khatami's reforms.

And who fell for that one? Apparently the frontrunning conservative candidate, one Qalibaf.
article

In Mr Qalibaf's campaign headquarters, his election strategists are selling their candidate as young, pragmatic and caring. The uniform and sidearm are gone, replaced by designer suits, rimless glasses and a smile.

Keep working on that polling, big guy. Come to think of it, it does seem like a growth opportunity for a particular brand of American know-how.

The IHT article noted that
Ahmadinejad, 48, won the backing of the religious poor to defeat veteran political heavyweight Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was supported by pro-reform parties and wealthy Iranians fearful of a hardline monopoly on power in the Islamic state.
My guess is the Iranians will be finding out that democracy can be a b**ch sometimes.

I also wonder, if candidates are not permitted to be on the ballot, this represents control from top to bottom?
link

On a completely unrelated tangent, the Wikipedia article on ballot access had this
More recent examples were the write-in election of Charlotte Burks to the Tennessee State Senate seat of her late husband, Tommy Burks, murdered by his only opponent on the ballot
link

Liberal Japonicus, your ballot access point might be interesting if I could understand what you intended by the link. Are you explicitly suggesting that the Iranian ballot access system and the US ballot access system should be considered similar? Please expand.

Do you think Looper's murder case is on point some how? If so, please explain.

The phrase, "on a completely unrelated tangent," would seem to me to indicate that he thinks the case was not on point but was per se interesting anyway, but English is only my first language, so I may not have been catching the nuances.

my take on it was that the mullahs eliminate candidates before hand, and then probably stuff some ballot boxes, but that this leaves the actual votes cast by citizens room to affect the outcome.

Based on what evidence, Hil? How can you know?

LJ, your latest comment implicitly accepts that the reported election results were accurate and that there was was a real campaign. I ask you the same question asked of Hil, how can you know?

Do you think Looper's murder case is on point some how?

What Phil said.

As for ballot access, it seems that the 2 party system in the US functions in such a way as to restrict access by potentially hundreds of 3rd party candidates, but I assume that you would not arguing that there is control from 'top to bottom'. Why is this true for the US, but not for Iran?

LJ, your latest comment implicitly accepts that the reported election results were accurate and that there was was a real campaign. I ask you the same question asked of Hil, how can you know?

The fact that the apparently front running conservative candidate felt it was important to soften his message suggests to me that there was a 'real' campaign. You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that any evidence of the opposite was also manufactured by the mullahs in order to cover their tracks. This is the sort of conspiracy theorizing that is unrefutable, because it is based on a circular logic. Mullahs are evil, therefore it is impossible to imagine that a virtual unknown, non-cleric could actually win the election, so we must accept that the result had to be engineered by puppeteer mullahs. Of course, the Iranian people, having had their choices engineered to such an extent, really have no free will, but if they end up living too close to a nuclear facility, they are going to end up at the receiving end of American firepower, according to the Bird doctrine. This seems a bit too outre for even you to incorporate, but I won't be surprised if you are able to.

I am still waiting on your discursus on why, if Sunni fundamentalism is so very very bad, it is necessary to confront the main Shi'a power in the region in such a public way.

You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that any evidence of the opposite was also manufactured by the mullahs in order to cover their tracks.

No, LJ, I'm arguing that no conclusions can be drawn from the Iranian electoral process because it is completely closed off. All we really know is that Ahmadinejad came out of nowhere and was declared president. Those are the only verifiable facts that you have. Everything else is speculation or "because the regime said so". Forgive me for not taking their statements from state-controlled media at face value.

I am still waiting on your discursus on why, if Sunni fundamentalism is so very very bad, it is necessary to confront the main Shi'a power in the region in such a public way.

Read my 11:39am comment.

No, LJ, I'm arguing that no conclusions can be drawn from the Iranian electoral process because it is completely closed off

(but on shi'a/sunni, the response is)
Read my 11:39am comment.

which was
My policy is regime change for lots of countries, LJ, not just Iran. If a government gives its people more freedoms and adopts real democratic reforms, then the regime has changed.

Hmmm, arguing that no conclusion can be drawn takes almost 4,000 words, but answering questions about shi'a/sunni requires only 31 words, none of them actually mentioning the points in question. A perfect inverse relationship.

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