Patterico's Pontifications


“This is not the Iran I knew”

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:01 am

[Posted by Karl]

How did Pres. Obama not come up with that line?

After all, it is one of his favorite formulations, and in this case, a true one.

The Iran we knew before last week was an oppressive Islamic theocracy that rigged its elections by controlling which candidates could run for office, excluding anyone whose notions of reform offended the mullahs. That Iran may no longer exist. It may be that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has effected a silent coup d’état, morphing from a theocracy into a military dictatorship. It may be that the Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guardian Council remain in control. However, if that is so, we are left to question the rationality of a regime that by most accounts badly stole its already rigged election.

This is not the Iran that millions of Iranians knew, which is why they poured into the streets of Tehran and other cities in protest. A line once understood had been crossed. The shock of that crossing is why even Lefties like Slate’s Fred Kaplan have suggested that it’s time for Pres. Obama to rethink his policy of “engagement” with Iran. Kaplan frames it in terms of the protests, but the phenomenon is better understood by looking at the cause of protests of this magnitude.

I underscore this, as I have previously written that the election “exposed to even the casual observer that ‘the Iran we have’ is the Iran we have always had.” This position has also been taken by people as far apart ideologically as Andy McCarthy and Pres. Obama, though they proceed to quite different conclusions from that premise.

While that premise is correct to extent that (if the protests ultimately fizzle or are crushed) Iran will likely remain hostile the the US and our interests, the election — and the reaction to it — suggest that this premise is not entirely correct. This is not the Iran we knew. Its government is either less stable or less rational than we believed. Its people may be more demanding of change than they were even a week ago.

Yet even after exercising his right to remain silent for three days, Pres. Obama declared that he would ultimately try to engage Iran’s government, no matter how much of a question mark it is at the moment. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad was busy getting recognized by Russia and China — the two nations Obama would need for any alternative policy to “engagement.” Accordingly, Obama is stuck trying to talk to a regime without knowing its true leadership or true nature.

On one level, this is not all that unlike the problem the US faces regarding North Korea. However, whatever one might say about Kim Jong Il, he is not Ahmadinejad — a man thoroughly immersed in the thinking of an apocalyptic death cult. Nuclear wepaons in the hands of the Iran we thought we knew was bad; nukes in the hands of the Iran we don’t know may be far worse.

Moreover, Obama’s apparently unthinking commitment to “engagement” in the face of changed circumstances, and the implication that he has no alternate plan, hands the unknown government of Iran enormous leverage. This government may conclude that it can act in a ham-fisted, irrational or unstable manner without even the most minor consequences. If this unknown government sees Obama as impotent in the face of such behavior, what additional mischief might it make? Obama’s unrealistic realism potentially endangers not only our national security, but also his own political viability.

“This is not the Iran I knew”

How did Pres. Obama not come up with that line?

How long until he wishes he had?


53 Responses to ““This is not the Iran I knew””

  1. Its government is either less stable or less rational than we believed.

    Signs point to both.

    Its people may be more demanding of change than they were even a week ago.

    Mousavi essentially declared war today, when he said that the government Iran has was not the government Khomenei intended for Iran.

    The protest appears to have radicalized into a revolutionary movement.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  2. If it is the case that Ahmadinejad, the Revolutionary Guard, and the rest of the military, realized that a theocracy is a centripetal spiral into a grave — that they did not want their country to become another Tibet — it is progress of a sort. Dictators die but gods do not.

    nk who suggests reading your homeowners/umbrella policy (a2b6dd)

  3. “…This is not the Iran I knew…”

    We truly have to question whether this man “knows” anything at all.
    Perhaps, instead of being the joke of TOTUS, he is TOTUS, just a marionette mouthing the words of a hidden puppeteer who writes the script and pulls the strings.

    We are in the best of hands.

    AD - RtR/OS! (aac859)

  4. Fred Kaplan is a lefty? Who knew?

    Brian (15df7a)

  5. This government may conclude that it can act in a ham-fisted, irrational or unstable manner without even the most minor consequences.

    I doubt they can. This is no longer Khamanei’s Iran, in many respects. Ahmadinejad will find it harder to convince the masses that a uranium enrichment program and a clenched fist foreign policy are Iran’s salvation.

    steve (35f1d9)

  6. Teh One will save the day !!!

    JD (a7fa4a)

  7. nk,

    Read the link in the post addressing Ahmadinejad’s bio. It doesn’t offer much to suggest he doesn’t have his own, possibly more dangerous, theology.


    Glad to inform you.


    Your comment presumes that the future of Iran will involve convincing the masses of something, as opposed to driving over them in tanks and disappearing them when the spotlight moves elsewhere. I think that assumption is in conflict w/ your other assumption that Ahmadinejad prevails.

    Karl (f07e38)

  8. aphrael, you wrote,

    “Mousavi essentially declared war today, when he said that the government Iran has was not the government Khomenei intended for Iran.”

    Do you have a link to a news report on that?

    Ira (28a423)

  9. “Nobody” in Iran cares all that much about uranium enrichment and foreign policy, Steve. People want, in that order, the means by which to live, a reason for which to live, and a banner behind which to follow.

    nk who suggests reading your homeowners/umbrella policy (a2b6dd)

  10. Stupid cookies.

    nk (a2b6dd)

  11. Lurch weighed in today with the information that it is all the neocons (Jews) fault.

    I’m getting farther along in Taheri’s book. The seeds of this revolt are in the corruption and the lunatic rules that are not found in the Quran.

    Kerry also makes the fatuous statement:

    Ultimately, no matter who wins the election, our fundamental security challenge will be the same — preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

    Does anyone believe that Obama will accomplish that, or really intends to ?

    Mike K (90939b)

  12. It may take Impeaching and Removing Obama to do something about Iran, especially if that something is nuking the area where the Iranian Nuclear facilities are.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  13. Your comment presumes that the future of Iran will involve convincing the masses of something, as opposed to driving over them in tanks and disappearing them when the spotlight moves elsewhere.

    First, this is not Prague, 1968.

    Secondly, the continuing crackdown on dissent is the result of internal dynamics in Iran, not words of conciliation spoken by Barack Obama.

    As Joe Cirincione observes, if Ahmadinejad prevails, “he will handcuffed in his ability to play the nuclear card as a nationalist rallying cry.” That’s not a small matter.

    steve (35f1d9)

  14. …it is all the neocons (Jews) fault.

    John McCain is Jewish?

    You learn something new every day.

    poon (bc36de)

  15. steve,

    You and Joe live in a world where Ahmadinejad prevails (and may even be top dog), but feels constrained by Iranian popular opinion and doesn’t start doing away with the opposition? Good luck with that.

    Karl (f07e38)

  16. Obama has only a smidgeon of a chance left to get on the right side of history – either he starts acting like the de facto leader of the free world, or he’s a quisling of thugocracies everywhere.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  17. Karl,

    To start “doing away with the opposition” is a ticking bomb for any regime whose people – most of them under 30 – communicate through means the government neither controls nor understands.

    Yes. I think whoever prevails will be somewhat “restrained by Iranian popular opinion.”

    steve (35f1d9)

  18. Yup. Ahmedinnerjacket is driven by public opinion. He will clearly moderate his positions that Israel should be blown off the map, and will meekly capitulate and no longer pursue a nuclear arsenal.

    JD (d3f3ab)

  19. Ira, no. I’m pulling this from the twitter feed from sources who have been reliable all week.

    [I’ve been watching the twitter feed basically continuously while awake since monday morning]

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  20. 16, Obama is trying to do away with the opposition in the US. By your thinking, Obama has activated a ticking time bomb he doesn’t know how to defuse.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  21. PCD: I think that’s a bit much.

    It’s pretty clear in the context of what is happening in Iran today that “doing away with the opposition”, as used in comment #16, means “killing the opposition” or, at the very least, “disappearing the opposition into a sealed prison.”

    I have not seen any evidence that President Obama is engaged in either; and, were he engaged in either, I think it would be fair to say that he had activated a ticking time bomb which he doesn’t know how to defuse.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  22. Thanks, aphrael.

    So, is Mousavi potentially to Iran what Mikhail Gorbachev was to the USSR?


    Does Mousavi think that the current government is too soft on its own people and too cozy with the West?

    Ira (28a423)

  23. My sense is that Mousavi is running behind the crowd, but that he has the potential to be to Iran what Gorbachev was to the USSR.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  24. aphrael, thanks for the link.

    I agree that Mousavi could be Iran’s Gorbachev. There is a tweet there that Google was going to change their banner to green. If that happens it would be huge.

    This is far from over. I think the army is the key.

    Mike K (90939b)

  25. Mike K: I think that tweet was that Mousavi has asked Google to change their banner to green.

    I’ll actually be somewhat surprised if Google complies.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  26. I find it incredulous that the MSM has mostly missed that the individual who’s primarily behind the support for Mousavi is his wife, who’s received near – adulation from the younger crowd (along with most of the women) for advocating greater freedoms for women under her husband’s auspices.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  27. Google has a lot of amends to make to these kinds of movements, particularly after their aquiesence to the Chinese authorities not too long ago – good business move for them all around to make that happen.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  28. The current army is a creature of the Mullahs, and it seems, is subordinate in the power structure to the Revolutionary Guard.
    I think you’re pinning any hopes on a false champion.
    If the people of Iran have any chance of throwing off this tyrannical yoke that binds them, it will be incredible violent and bloody, and will require them to rid themselves of the heirarchy of their own religion, recasting the way Islam functions within the Persian Culture.
    It will not be Martin Luther, but more Robespierre!

    AD - RtR/OS! (aac859)

  29. AD, I have read a few signs that the army may waver. One was a tweet that a woman asked a soldier, an officer, “will you save us from the Basiji?” His reply was something like “God willing.” They cannot do this without one element of the regime switching sides. The army is the most likely to do so.

    Mike K (90939b)

  30. Mike K,

    In Muslim societies, “God willing” can mean a lot of things and is often non-committal. Ask anyone who has served in Iraq.

    Karl (f07e38)

  31. From my experience is Arabic, insha’allah was commonly used when referring to anything that may happen in the future. I do not know if Farsi is the same.

    JD (cb9226)

  32. I was under the impression that the Revolutionary Guard’s influence stemmed more from perception than actual numbers, at least compared to the Army at large. The question I cannot find the answer to as yet is who really controls the armed services in Iran right now? I used to frequent the domestic – Iranian site Iran the Model for this type of information many years ago, but the authorities shut him down for good.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  33. Rumor going around this afternoon is that the regime plans to stage a bloody confrontation between the basij and the protestors tomorrow, blame it on the protestors, and then use it as an excuse to crack down.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  34. And Teh One sits on the sidelines in silence …

    JD (b186eb)

  35. That’s sorta the traditional play, aphrael.

    SPQR (72771e)

  36. The Supreme Grand Poobah, Khamenei, is the commander in chief of all the armed forces.

    nk (a2b6dd)

  37. Karl, I’m aware of that and it may have been wishful thinking on the woman’s part but they need the help of one major player and the fact that they have been bringing in non-Farsi speakers suggests that somebody is uncertain of the army.

    Mike K (90939b)

  38. “Mousavi essentially declared war today, when he said that the government Iran has was not the government Khomenei intended for Iran.”

    That’s probably true (whether Mousavi said this or not). Under Khomeini (the Supreme Asshole) and Mousavi (Prime Minister), the government of the mad mullahs executed thousands of political dissidents, with their last big purge coming in 1988, shortly before Khomeini’s death and Mousavi’s exit from politics.

    If Khomeini was still around, I expect that tens of thousands of Iranian protestors would now be dead or in prison awaiting execution.

    Dave Surls (6f8595)

  39. […] mere months ago applauded their candidate’s rendition of “Barbara Ann” are now criticizing Obama for refusing to meddle in internal Iranian affairs: “[He] has only a smidgen of a […]

    Conservatives would respect Obama more if he took a principled stand against a corrupt Iranian regime by doing its bidding. « The Edge of the American West (28440a)

  40. Is that SEK spamming his trackbacks?

    JD (b186eb)

  41. “This is not the Iran I knew.”

    To illustrate that we in the US have a fool occupying our White House, the quote above actually comes off as rather innocuous. At least compared with the amazingly naive and nonsensical comment noted below. Call it a verbal version of the current US president’s nonsensical bowing before the king of Saudi Arabia not too long ago.

    Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 19, 2009:

    Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents. The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side.

    And what do they hear from the president of the United States? Silence. Then, worse. Three days in, the president makes clear his policy: continued “dialogue” with their clerical masters.

    …Then, after treating this popular revolution as an inconvenience to the real business of Obama-Khamenei negotiations, the president speaks favorably of “some initial reaction from the Supreme Leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election.”

    Where to begin? “Supreme Leader”? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator who, even as his minions attack demonstrators, offers to examine some returns in some electoral districts — a farcical fix that will do nothing to alter the fraudulence of the election.

    Mark (411533)

  42. MM: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran.

    And people here mocked me because I said Obama is a source of inspiration for this movement…

    oderfla (54581b)

  43. We mocked you because you are an idiot.

    JD (b186eb)

  44. JD, looks like you’re a little angry just because people in Iran compare Ahmadinejad to Bush and Moussavi to Obama, but it makes sense. Ahmadinejad’s election was in response to Bush’s “Axis of Evil” posturing. Now that Bush is gone and our approach to foreign policy changed in the right direction, lots of people in Iran want their own “hope & change”. At this point, no one knows if they are a majority and only a recount or a new and fair election would tell. This is my opinion, and I’m sorry if that makes you angry. Calling me an idiot will not change my mind.

    oderfla (22a589)

  45. I am not trying to change your mind. I am pointing out a fact. You offered up a comparison of Bush and ahmedinnerjacket, which places you firmly in the category of idiot moonbat.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  46. This is Mousavi’s moment. If he finds the courage he will pull a Yeltsin on the tank moment become a revolutionary and rally change from the streets up. Or disappear and watch this flame flicker out.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  47. oderfla, Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005 was not in any way a “response” to Bush’s Axis of Evil speech. Ahmadinejad campaigned on a platform of extending economic benefits of Iran’s oil wealth to the lower classes.

    But go ahead and make up stuff. Its what we expect.

    SPQR (72771e)

  48. While of course Bush never repressed his own people to suppress dissenting voices and in many ways has absolutely nothing to do with Dinnerjacket, there are some undeniable similarities:

    1) Both appealed to rural voters with “moral values”, social conservatism
    2) Both appealed to religious conservatives who were feeling marginalized
    3) Both have had bellicose black and white (“with us or against us”) foreign policies

    I cannot find any similar parallel between Ahmadinejad and Obama.

    SPQR, here’s a little tidbit for you from 6/20/05:

    Iran’s spy chief used just two words to respond to White House ridicule of last week’s presidential election: “Thank you.”

    oderfla (22a589)

  49. That is one of the Leftists memes bouncing about. Full on BDS still rules the day.

    JD (2f1bff)

  50. Of course, the quote “Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran,” was made by Mousavi’s spokesman while he was criticizing Obama for mischaracterizing him.

    carlitos (84409d)

  51. I can find a parallel between Obama and Ahmadinejad; both think they are anointed by god. Common sense is unnecessary and therefore not in evidence.

    Shall I go on ?

    Mike K (90939b)

  52. Obama’s “thoughts” on Iran aren’t that different from Clinton’s. Mr. Bill praised Iran as being governed by the same kind of progressivism he represents. And it’s true.

    tehag (7ab8f6)

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