Monday, June 15, 2009 at 5:07 AM

Iranians protest Ahmadinejad’s re-ordination

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Iran became engulfed in flaming protests over the weekend after the state news agency, Irna, declared that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won reelection over purportedly surging challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi by a landslide margin of 62.6-33.8 percent

(Note:  Not quite as daring or sympathetic as the Chinese man who played chicken with bulldozing tanks in Tiananmen Square, but this Iranian reflects the defiance that has led to post-election riots all over Iran.)

The widespread belief among Mousavi’s supporters in Iran (and among his sympathizers in the West) is that the election was stolen.  Their belief evidently stems from the fact, in the days running up to the election, Obama-size crowds attended Mousavi’s campaign rallies while only McCain-size crowds attended Ahmadinejad’s.

But nothing demonstrated how mistaken they probably are quite like the Obama-size crowd that attended Ahmadinejad’s victory celebration yesterday….  

Not to mention how insulting it is to the Iranian people (and how much it reflects our own narcissism) for Westerners to insist that Ahmadinejad could not have won this election free and fair – even if only by a far more modest margin.

Admittedly, I seem to have a little more regard for the way Iranians conduct their elections than most Westerners do – as the following will affirm: 

The Islamic Republic of Iran elected a new president in democratic elections that would’ve made even George Washington, the father of American democracy, proud.

Unfortunately, it did not please his presidential heir and namesake, George W. Bush, in the least. After all, this curious George only likes democratic elections when the rulers elected share his political views and religious values. And, Iran’s president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clearly does not fit the bill.

[New Iranian president: we shall have nukes vs. George W. Bush: over my dead body, TIJ, July 14, 2005]

There’s no denying, however, that my libertarian take on national elections could only have been reinforced by the 2000 US presidential election. Indeed, I think those venting political indignation over the outcome of last Friday’s presidential in Iran would do well to be mindful of this seminal election in the United States – the nationally proclaimed last bastion of democracy.

After all, Ahmadinejad’s supporters would be wholly justified in telling indignant Americans that, when it comes to stolen elections, George W. Bush’s in 2000 (which he allegedly stole from Al Gore) makes Ahmadinejad’s on Friday look like a model democratic exercise.

Therefore, I say let us leave it to Mousavi’s supporters (in Iran) to vent political indignation just as Gore supporters did in 2000. And I hereby express unqualified solidarity with them in this….

I urge you, Iranian nation, to continue your nationwide protests in a peaceful and legal way.

(Moussavi’s plaintive plea from an undisclosed location)

I am convinced, however, that Mousavi’s appeal to the Guardian Council to have Ahmadinejad’s victory overturned will prove every bit as futile as Gore’s appeal to the Supreme Court to have Bush’s victory overturned.  Not least because Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, has already ordained this little holier-than-thou bugger the “divine” winner:

In Iran, the election was a real and free one… Some believed they would win, and then they got angry. It has no legal credibility. It is like the passions after a football match. It is not important from my point of view.

(Ahmadinejad in his triumphant post-election news conference)

That said, I feel obliged to note that nobody has condemned Ahmadinejad more strongly than I have for the genocidal and stupid things he says.  And nobody wanted to see him defeated more than I

I am also mindful that Ahmadinejad is probably no more credible in saying that his election was free than he was when he said that there are no homosexuals in Iran – as he did during a lecture at Columbia University a couple years ago….

Nevertheless, I think it’s best to let the Iranians fight their velvet revolution without self-righteous American politicians trying to fight it for them … rhetorically.

Meanwhile, even though it is self-evident that he wanted to see Ahmadinejad defeated, President Obama prudently positioned the US to normalize relations with Iran regardless of the outcome. Indeed, it is a reflection of his visionary and unflappable statesmanship that he has ignored exhortations (from everyone from French President Sarkozy to his Republican nemesis, Sen. John McCain) to offer himself as the de facto leader of anti-government protesters in Iran. 

Besides, these protests must come as such a shock to the Mullahs and conservative factions that rule Iran that they might now feel compelled to allow more democratic freedoms and be more modest about their nuclear ambitions.

Don’t hold your breath, but hope springs eternal….

Related commentaries:
New Iranian president
Ahmadinejad unbowed
Bush will attack Iran to redeem his presidency

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