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The Race for Iran

Video of the Leveretts on Charlie Rose

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett appeared on The Charlie Rose Show last night.

The video can be viewed here.

– Ben Katcher

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544 Responses to “Video of the Leveretts on Charlie Rose”

  1. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Eric,

    If your have trouble following the post above let me know. The issue I had was the formatting would not translate on the post. I have a word copy that is much easier on the eye and if you email me I can forward over a copy. You can email me at wdavit@gmail.com.

    Thx
    Bill

  2. kooshy says:

    Eric , your last post so perfectly to the point

  3. Eric A. Brill says:

    Reverend,

    We are getting side-tracked on non-election issues – important issues, but not what I have focused on. Though it may appear otherwise to you (and that mistaken appearance may be entirely my fault), my purpose in writing about the election has not been to challenge the Green movement, or anyone else in Iran or outside Iran, on issues unrelated to the election itself, including the treatment of post-election protesters. I tried to make that very clear up front in my article:

    “Charges that the Iranian government brutally mistreated protesters after the election must be taken very seriously. A protester’s human rights should not depend on the merits of his position, just as our respect for a soldier should not depend on the merits of the war he is sent to fight. The question considered here, however, is not whether the government mistreated those who protested the election result, nor whether Iran’s government ought to be run by different people with different policies. Nor is the question whether more candidates ought to have been declared eligible to run – a complaint made by many critics but not by Mousavi. Obviously he made the list, and the exclusion of other candidates probably improved his chances. The question here is simply whether Ahmadinejad won the election, fair and square.”

    Nor do I mean to suggest that those who challenge the 2009 Iran election are the same people who shouted down the WMD-doubters before the Iraq invasion in 2003. To the contrary, I recognize that many election-doubters today were WMD-doubters back in 2003. Unfortunately, the potential consequences of their doubts are quite different this time: last time, they opposed war AND they opposed those who pressed for war; this time, they oppose war but tacitly SUPPORT those who press for war. They don’t intend to, but they do.

    A good example is Justin Raimondo, webmaster of the Antiwar.com website. He has strongly challenged the fairness of the 2009 Iran election. Does Raimondo exchange holiday cards, or play tennis on Saturday mornings, with John Bolton, Max Boot, Alan Kuperman, Joshua Muravchik or any other member of the “bomb-Iran” crowd? Probably not. Nonetheless, all of them probably are grateful to Raimondo for his fervent support of their position on the “stolen election” issue. They consider themselves fully capable of fashioning the appropriate remedy (bomb Iran) without further assistance from Raimondo.

    In short, just as fabricated claims of WMD – accepted uncritically by most Americans and many others – played into the hands of those who wanted the United States to bomb Iraq in 2003 (many of whom probably knew the WMD claims were false), so do baseless claims of a “stolen election” play into the hands of those who want the United States to bomb Iran in 2010 (some of whom probably know those claims are false).

    To participants in the Green movement, I suggest this: Read my article. If you disagree with me, don’t change your behavior at all. If you agree with me but you nevertheless believe you have sufficient reasons for protesting apart from the baseless “stolen election” claim, by all means protest. But if you agree with me and do not believe you have sufficient reasons for protesting apart from the baseless “stolen election” claim, consider carefully the possible unintended consequences of your protesting. You may well further the aims of people with whom you do not agree at all: the bomb-Iran crowd. You probably will not intend or want to do that, but you may be doing so nonetheless.

    To leaders of the Green movement, I suggest this: Read my article. If you disagree with me, ignore what I have to say. But if you agree, tell your followers the truth about the 2009 Iran election. If you believe they ought to be protesting even so, make your best arguments to that effect and let them decide. Just don’t use false claims about the 2009 election to influence their judgment.

    It’s really as simple as that.

  4. Eric A. Brill says:

    “Both Eric and Fiorangela criticize me for not providing proof, or at least evidence, of the Saudi lobby’s greater influence over American foreign policy than Israel’s. Both lobbies operate in an atmosphere of great secrecy and so such evidence, much less proof, is very difficult to obtain. I happen to believe that the Saudis, as Guardians of Islam’s holiest sites and masters of the oil cartel, outclass the Israelis by far in this contest. You believe otherwise.”

    Thanks, Tom.

  5. Eric A. Brill says:

    Reverend,

    “It’s irrational to expect that Mousavi and Karroubi themselves would list out each of these violations in detail as you request.”

    My focus has been on the election (as I sometimes need to remind myself). So let’s stick here to election-related violations. Imagine again that the result was different, and consider these two questions:

    1. If Ahmadinejad claimed fraud, would you think it was “irrational” to ask Ahmadinejad to detail his complaints?

    2. If Ahmadinejad claimed that Mousavi’s election was invalid because the Guardian Council treated Iranian like “children” by excluding many candidates, should Mousavi have declined to take office?

  6. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    To answer your question about our hypothetical UN investigator, I would assume that this investigator would have the intelligence to see Mousavi and Karroubi’s broad public statements indicating that abuse is happening as a signal to dig deeper into the documented specific cases monitored by the numerous human rights organizations, some dedicated to Iran, some global, which keep careful track of each reported violation of human rights in Iran.

    In addition I would expect this investigator to realize that both Mousavi and Karroubi keep records of the complaints they receive from citizens, which, while not incorporated in detail into their public statements, would be available for the UN investigator to see. Or at least these documents would have been available had they not been confiscated from their offices by security forces.

    It’s irrational to expect that Mousavi and Karroubi themselves would list out each of these violations in detail as you request. Would you expect Obama to have read out the name of every uninsured child to make his case for health care reform? You are being disingenuous and attempting to perpetrate a logical fallacy, that since Mousavi or Karroubi might say “those who have been arrested for their political views” or some such general phrase, without listing the specific names of hundreds of detainees each time, that therefore no such specific cases exist.

    Human rights organizations have been listing specific cases of abuse in Iran for decades now, and if you want to make the case, as some have done, that these abuses are justified by religion, that’s one thing, but to say you don’t believe they exist, because two politicians didn’t give you enough specific detail, is ridiculous. We don’t judge human rights abuses by the rhetoric of politicians, we judge them by the registries of abuse victims created by Amnesty International and other human rights watchdog groups.

    If you want to make a case that these groups are conspiring to tell lies to make the Islamic Republic look bad, well, frankly I will not engage in that argument because it is simply not credible on its face. One would have to accept the premise of an international Zionist conspiracy to defame the Islamic Republic as a whole, and rational people know that such a thing does not exist.

    Since you apparently have not yet taken the time to Google any of this, here is just one of the many registries of human rights abuses to get you started:
    http://www.iranrights.org/ It has a searchable database for your convenience.

  7. Tom A. Milstein says:

    Eric A. Brill and Fiorangela Leone:

    Sorry for the delay in responding. I find the blog form difficult to keep up with; I’ll try to do better in the future. And I’ll try to keep a civil tone!

    This debate is not about me. But since you have brought it up, yes, I did once contribute articles to the American Thinker. Quite a while ago I was banned from publication in that venue, mainly though probably not exclusively because of my article on Iran. In fact, the article cited by Fiorangela, “The Balance of Terror in the Middle East,” was written to support Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear deterrent.

    Do Boeing advertisements appear in American Thinker? Well, so what? This blog is sponsored by Flynt Leverett, a proud former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. Well, so what? In my lifetime I have cheerfully associated with Communists, socialists, reactionaries, liberals, spooks of various (and probably multiple) loyalties. Some were persons of integrity and some were not. (I’ve actually learned more from the shadier among them than from the decent ones.) Such is the way of the world.

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Neoconservative.

    As for my email to Fiorangela citing Max Boot, I tipped no hand by referencing it; you completely missed my point, which I shall now attempt to reinforce. Please note that my email also cited an attack on Boot’s defense of General Petraeus by Andrew C. McCarthy, appearing in (horrors!) National Review. The subject of their controversy? Petraus’ alleged criticism of Israel as a detriment to relations with the Arabs. Here are the links I supplied to Fiorangela: article[dot]nationalreview[dot]com/430708/petraeuss-israel-problem/andrew-c-mccarthy, and www[dot]commentarymagazine[dot]com/blogs/index[dot]php/boot/274061

    Fiorangela, I don’t agree with any of the parties to this dispute. I only invoked it to provide evidence of a new development in American politics: the looming disintegration of Neoconservative support for Israel. If you are not interested in this subject, please forgive me for troubling you about it. By the way, who is Mike Evans? His article sounds interesting. Can you provide a link? But, let’s move on.

    Both Eric and Fiorangela criticize me for not providing proof, or at least evidence, of the Saudi lobby’s greater influence over American foreign policy than Israel’s. Both lobbies operate in an atmosphere of great secrecy and so such evidence, much less proof, is very difficult to obtain. I happen to believe that the Saudis, as Guardians of Islam’s holiest sites and masters of the oil cartel, outclass the Israelis by far in this contest. You believe otherwise. But I don’t think any of us would deny that both exercise substantial influence over this government and have for a long time. How do we know that? Not so much by actual evidence (although it is out there, if we care to look), as by its effects. The U.S. does all kinds of things that can only be explained by reference to these influences. As Mr. Leverett would no doubt say, “just walk the cat back.” (To which I, not being so polite as he doubtless is, would add, “…to the litterbox.”)

    Could I ever convince you of the Saudi’s greater influence, no matter what evidence I might bring? Could you ever convince me of Israel’s? I doubt it. But one thing on which we can agree is that the combined influence of both has been most detrimental to Iran’s interests. Therefore, if the President of the United States decides, for whatever reasons, that he must choose between the claims of these two lobbies, should we not sit up and take notice?

    Here is a fact: Obama is about to stage a nuclear non-proliferation festival from which Iran has been excluded, and Israel has felt obliged to exclude itself.

    And here is an inference: the above fact is the 2010 equivalent of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1971 between the U.S. and China. Sooner or later, it will eventuate in a rapprochement between the world’s two pariah nations. And that will certainly separate the Sunni Arabists from the Shi’ite Iranists in the Middle East, if not on this blog!

  8. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A Brill,

    Regarding your statement that Khamenei did not forbid demonstrations at the Friday Prayer when he announced the election results were final, that is simply wrong. I listened to the speech live while reading a simultaneous translation, and I have gone back and read the translation again, and it is quite clear that Khamenei says that anyone who continues to protest the election results is “mohareb”.

    Perhaps you are unaware of exactly what that means. The literal translation is “waging war against God,” but in practice it means that vigilante mobs are allowed to enter your dorm while you are asleep and beat you to death. People who are mohareb are worse than infidels, and not entitled to any consideration as human beings. Declaring that the protesters are mohareb is definitely saying that people are forbidden to protest, in fact it is saying that anyone who protests the election results is not a person at all, they have forfeited all rights as a human being.

  9. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    Regarding the seven Baha’i, the exact charges against them are: espionage, “propaganda activities against the Islamic order,” the establishment of an illegal administration, cooperation with Israel, the sending of secret documents outside the country, acting against the security of the country, and “corruption on earth.” So you are correct, the charges against them are not literally “being Baha’i”, thus maintaining the veneer of compliance with the constitution.

    However, the actual specific acts characterized as “espionage” and “propaganda” which these people committed were acts of religious observance in their Baha’i faith; it is the actual practice of that religion which is considered to be establishing an illegal administration, propaganda against the Islamic order and corruption on earth, and it is normal religious correspondence which is considered as espionage, cooperation with Israel, and sending secret documents.

    It’s important to remember that these seven are only the most recent in a pattern of abuse directed against many other Baha’i, and that espionage is the catch-all crime which Maziar Bahari the Newsweek reporter, and our own American hikers are also charged with. You can read more about the international condemnation of the consistent persecution of the Baha’i here: http://news.bahai.org/story/749

    The lawyer for these particular Baha’i is Shirin Ebadi, who won the Nobel Prize for her work in this area, so if you’re going to make the argument that the Baha’i are not singled out for persecution, you’ll have an uphill battle convincing the international community of it. Many others before you have looked at this situation and found a clear pattern of abuse, which they have honored Ms. Ebadi for fighting against.

  10. Eric A. Brill says:

    Reverend,

    You’re making my case. I just read (reread) the Mousavi statement on the Facebook link you provided. Maybe the best way to clarify this is to ask you to imagine that you’re an eager-beaver, top-notch, independent investigator brought in by the UN to check out Mousavi’s allegations. Your boss hands you Mousavi’s statement and tells you to get out there immediately and find out if what Mousavi says is true. You read Mousavi’s statement and you notice that it doesn’t contain a SINGLE verifiable statement — it doesn’t say WHO, WHERE and WHEN. You ask your boss if Mousavi has presented any more details so that you will be able to investigate. Your boss replies, “No. You have all you need. Get to work!”

    Tell me, Reverend: if you were that hapless young investigator, where would you start?

  11. Eric A. Brill says:

    “In fact, Khamenei went out of his way to openly and clearly violate the constitution when he announced at Friday Prayers after the election that the election question was now settled and no one would be allowed to demonstrate to express a contrary opinion. That is not constitutional in Iran. People have the absolute constitutional right to gather whenever they wish, without any special permission, as long as when they gather they do not violate the principles of Islam.”

    Actually, you’re being too generous with the last sentence. The constitution doesn’t say anything about demonstrations violating the principles of Islam.

    More important, Khamenei didn’t say what you claim. He said the election result was official, decided, certified, over with; Ahmadinejad had won. People nevertheless were free to gather and express their disappointment peacefully. What they were NOT free to do, however, is what they had been doing almost non-stop for the preceding week: gather to throw rocks through windows of government buildings, beat policemen and militiamen, and set police cars on fire. And if they did, they’d be arrested and held responsible for their actions. In other words, they’d be treated exactly the way they’d be treated in the United States. Bill of rights or not, I can guarantee you that if a crowd of angry Muslims (or Christians, or Buddhists, or whatever) march through downtown Washington, beating up policemen, setting police vehicles on fire, and chanting “Death to Obama!”, the Washington police and National Guard will not behave exactly as you suggest they ought to.

    Consider this imaginary scenario. Suppose MOUSAVI had won the election by 11,000,000 votes. Ahmadinejad and his supporters promptly claimed “fraud, fraud, fraud” and staged several violent rallies in which they threw rocks through windows of government buildings, beat policemen and militiamen, and set police cars on fire. The police and militia responded very harshly, wounding and even killing Ahmadinejad supporters, and arresting many of them. Ahmadinejad and his supporters offered no evidence of fraud, despite numerous requests to do so — no documents, no testimony, no evidence at all — just broad allegations of fraud, but no who, what, where or when that would make it possible to investigate his complaints. Ahmadinejad’s representatives even stopped attending Guardian Council meetings held to discuss his hundreds of minor election complaints. The Guardian Council nevertheless investigated those hundreds of minor complaints with whatever information it had despite Ahmadinejad’s lack of cooperation, conducted a 10% recount (which Ahmadinejad was invited to observe, but he declined), and certified the results — a little bit later than required by law, in an effort to give Ahmadinejad some extra time to substantiate his allegations. Despite the certification, Ahmadinejad’s supporters continued to hold “rallies” at which they continued to throw rocks through windows of government buildings, beat policemen and militiamen, and set police cars on fire. Finally, Khamenei delivered a speech in which he declared that the election was settled, pointed out that Ahmadinejad had not presented evidence to back up his allegations of fraud, and firmly declared that Ahmadinejad’s supporters must stop holding so-called “rallies” at which they throw rocks through windows of government buildings, beat policemen and militiamen, and set police cars on fire. If they continued to do so, Khamenei warned, they would be held responsible for their actions — meaning they would be arrested, prosecuted, tried and punished — just like other people who throw rocks through windows of government buildings, beat policemen and militiamen, and set police cars on fire. Ahmadinejad nevertheless urged his supporters to continue holding rallies, and they did, and many of them indeed were arrested. When they were, Ahmadinejad claimed their human rights had been violated, and vowed to sacrifice his own life if necessary to ensure that the will of the people was respected. Six months later, his supporters were still holding “rallies”, chanting “Death to the Leader,” lighting police vehicles on fire and beating up police and militia.

    Would you still strike the same balance between security and freedom of assembly?

  12. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    I find it hard to believe that a researcher as capable and intelligent as yourself would be unable to locate the writings of Mousavi, as they are released on facebook by one of his supporters on a regular basis, with English translations. Here is a link to one of his most detailed and poignant calls for a return to constitutional rights in Iran: http://www.facebook.com/notes/mir-hossein-mousavi-myr-syn-mwswy/bynyh-smrh-17-mwswy-bh-mnsbt-wqy-swr-w-rwzhy-ps-z-n-mousavis-statement-17-regard/231350482605 Many people have only read the summary of this statement and do not realize how much detail it contains, laying out very specific complaints of unconstitutional activity.

    Karroubi, of course, has had trouble getting his words out to the world, as his newspaper, Etemad Melli, has been shut down. He has successfully appealed and won the right to reopen the paper, but security forces have declined to honor the judicial decision, and the paper is still shut down. I would think that would be a pretty specific unconstitutional act right there, something actually happening to Karroubi himself at this very moment.

    In addition, of course, Karroubi is well known to have presented to the Majlis the specific details of a number of unconstitutional prison abuses, including the cases of several individuals who say they were raped as part of their interrogations. In fact, this is the issue that has caused Karroubi to be summoned to court and have his newspaper shut down. Publishing the claims of these individuals and asking that they be investigated was considered a threat to national security, so the newspaper was shut down. Does that sound like the Iranian Constitution you read?

    It’s true that these two prominent figures rarely use their public podium to read off a specific list of constitutional violations, preferring instead to make more general statements encompassing the whole pattern of abuse, and I think that’s entirely appropriate and normal for politicians and religious leaders to do.

    For specifics and long detailed lists, we turn to those organizations that dedicate themselves to keeping track of these things, who make this type of information available to everyone. I would refer you to specific sites, but I would rather not try to shoehorn more links into this post, so I will just tell you to Google search the term “Iran human rights” and you will find several sites devoted to human rights in Iran, some with searchable databases, containing the names, dates, and all other information you could wish to know about Iranian human rights abuses, which are all unconstitutional because, as you have pointed out, the Iranian Constitution does actually contain a number of provisions to protect people from this kind of abuse.

  13. Eric A. Brill says:

    “I urge you to read the portion of the Constitution which details the qualities the Leader must exhibit in order to keep his post. If he fails to demonstrate any of those exceptional qualities, such as by lying in any way about anything, he has demonstrated unfitness for office.”

    Can you be specific about his lies?

  14. Eric A. Brill says:

    “seven Baha’i were scheduled to go on trial just today for the crime of being Baha’i.”

    Can you point me to the actual charges?

  15. Eric A. Brill says:

    “I think you must be joking when you say you think Americans might prefer the Iranian Constitution.”

    I didn’t say that. I was comparing the preferences of hypothetical Iranian and American leaders. I concluded that the Leader had a better deal in Iran — until one took into account that the US president really doesn’t require Congressional permission to go to war (my mother was picking out her prom dress the last time any American Congress declared war), upon which a hypothetical leader would choose instead the US president’s set of powers.

  16. Rev. Magdalen says:

    For the record, to make it perfectly clear, I consider PMOI/MKO/MEK/etc a dangerous terrorist cult, and I would never advocate that anyone support them. I have thoroughly researched that organization, and all I can say is that if ousting the Shah and installing the Islamic Republic was, in terms of human rights, out of the frying pan into the fire, going from an Islamic Republic to whatever MKO would put in would be like going from the fire to the ionizing plasma chamber. Cults are nobody’s friend.

  17. Eric A. Brill says:

    “If you take the time to read what Karroubi and Mousavi have written, they lay out the constitutional violations in great detail, far better than I can.”

    Can you point me to some of those detailed writings? I’ve looked very hard for them, with no luck. I’m not looking for details such as “The government has systematically denied [fill in description of fundamental right].” I’m looking for actual details — names, dates, places.

    Thanks. I’m really eager to hear some details.

  18. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill

    I have, in fact, thoroughly read the Iranian Constitution. That was one of the first things that Green Movement activists asked Western human rights activists to do, familiarize ourselves with exactly what unconstitutional activity was going on.

    I think you must be joking when you say you think Americans might prefer the Iranian Constitution, though it does have some nice language in it about protecting minorities, which as far as I can tell has been completely ignored in practice, given that seven Baha’i were scheduled to go on trial just today for the crime of being Baha’i. There are countless other examples, but I would think that one would be enough to prove the point. How many such trials do you need to see before you say, okay, the constitutional protections on minority religions are not being honored?

    The fact that the Supreme Leader gets to personally appoint the members of the Guardian Council, who preselect which people may be allowed to run for office, is a huge red flag that any American should take issue with. It is a fundamental American principle that everyone, no matter how ridiculous or inappropriate, has a right to run for office. The People of Iran are not children, to need appointed guardians to decide for them who is appropriate to serve in their government.

    As for the Supreme Leader, I urge you to read the portion of the Constitution which details the qualities the Leader must exhibit in order to keep his post. If he fails to demonstrate any of those exceptional qualities, such as by lying in any way about anything, he has demonstrated unfitness for office.

    You also point to Khamenei’s lack of intervention in government affairs as if it were a good thing. Inaction can be more deadly than action. The Supreme Leader has a responsibility to ensure the Constitution is being upheld, and yet he has not intervened in any way to remove from office the people who have unleashed vigilante mobs on peaceful protesters as they slept in their dorms, or the people who issued live ammo to those same volunteer militiamen to put down protests, or acted in any other way to protect his people’s human rights, as is his duty.

    In fact, Khamenei went out of his way to openly and clearly violate the constitution when he announced at Friday Prayers after the election that the election question was now settled and no one would be allowed to demonstrate to express a contrary opinion. That is not constitutional in Iran. People have the absolute constitutional right to gather whenever they wish, without any special permission, as long as when they gather they do not violate the principles of Islam.

    This is why the Green Movement activists were eagerly interested in the latest meeting of the Assembly of Experts. There was hope among some that Rafsanjani would call for a vote to remove Khamenei and replace him with someone who would uphold the constitutional protections for Iranians, but the meeting ended with a resounding vote of confidence in Khamenei, leaving Iranians with only a referendum as a possible means of restoring their Constitutional rights.

    If you take the time to read what Karroubi and Mousavi have written, they lay out the constitutional violations in great detail, far better than I can. I urge you to consider their writings when you go to assess how well the Iranian Constitution is observed in practice.

  19. Rev. Magdalen says:

    M. Ali,

    I know it sounds confusing when we say that democracy means the will of the majority, but that democracy also means the majority is restricted from oppressing a minority. I can see how those seem like two contradictory things, however they are actually both the natural consequences of adopting the first principle that all people are created equal. I am curious to know, since you say you don’t believe in inalienable rights, whether you believe that first principle? And if so, how can fundamental equality be reconciled with eliminating any of the inalienable rights? Western philosophers have thoroughly debated these matters and concluded that all the rights in the Universal Declaration follow logically from the first principle of the equality of all persons, which of course we just accept on faith, as I said.

    When we go to apply the principle of the fundamental equality of all persons to the question of government, it’s clear that a government based on that principle must have government officials who are chosen from among the people by a voting system in which everyone’s vote counts the same. It’s clear that laws must be passed that conform to the will of the majority, as determined by fair votes.

    However, it inevitably arises when we go to set up such a system, that at some point a majority will take a notion to dislike some minority among them, and the will of the people may truly be to oppress that minority. Going back to our same first principle of fundamental equality, we find that in this situation the will of the majority must be prevented from being carried out, because to do so would violate the first principle of the fundamental equality of all persons.

    It’s like a virus that causes an operating system to destroy itself so the entire computer cannot function; allowing a majority to oppress a minority destroys the equality that democracy seeks to protect, so a check must be put in place to balance the power of the direct will of the people, to ensure that at no point does that majority rule violate the equal rights of minorities, because to allow that to happen would be to violate the protection of rights which was the whole point of having a democracy in the first place.

    You’ve mentioned several times the dire economic conditions in Iran, and say these are more important to average Iranians than questions of human rights. I can’t help but point out that there has been a massive “brain drain” out of Iran, as the nation’s best and brightest choose to leave and make their homes elsewhere. I believe one of the major factors causing this brain drain is the abuse of human rights in Iran. Highly intelligent people are often “misfits” in their personal lives, and out of all Iranians they might be the ones who feel the most agony at not being able to speak freely. These people are huge contributors to the economies of the countries they move to, and all that money is money lost for the economy of Iran itself.

    In general as well, an oppressive atmosphere demoralizes people, and that causes harmful economic effects. This is why US economic analysts are always looking at the consumer confidence index, a number that reflects the general satisfaction of consumers. The happier consumers are, the more likely they are to spend money and create a robust economy. Unhappy people are less likely to ambitiously pursue higher salaries, or spend money on anything beyond basic necessities. Because of this demoralizing effect, I believe human rights abuses may be deeply tied to Iran’s economic problems, even if that is not apparent to struggling Iranians who just want to make ends meet.

  20. Reverend,

    Reverend,

    “…exactly what sort of constitution he was favoring, with its lack of checks and balances?”

    Several years ago, I wondered why so many apparently intelligent and educated Iranians even bothered to participate in Iranian political life when the Leader could, on a whim at any moment (according to countless Western writers), do such things as decree laws, invalidate laws, nullify an election, remove a president or a judge or a legislator and name his or her replacement, and on and on. Why would anyone spend all the time and effort to run for president, or for any government office?

    Finally, my curiosity got the better of me. I sat down and read the Iranian constitution, very carefully. I was surprised. It doesn’t give the Leader any of the powers I just mentioned, nor many others ascribed to him nearly every day in the Western press. Nor was there any appearance of Western writers’ favorite phrase — “final say in all matters of state” — or anything like it. In fact, I concluded, if an individual had a choice between the constitutional powers of a US president and those of an Iranian Leader under the countries’ respective constitutions, he’d pick the latter by a whisker, but that, if one were to “adjust” the US president’s constitutional powers by acknowledging that he doesn’t really (despite what the US constitution says) have to ask Congress’ permission to take the country to war, he’d pick the US president’s set of powers in a heartbeat.

    But perhaps that was even worse, I thought. Here the Leader was doing all of these things and he hadn’t even bothered to force his people to approve a piece of paper that formally gave him those powers! So, from then on, each time some major political event occurred in Iran, I pulled out my copy of the Iranian constitution to see whether the the action taken was consistent with the constitution. Had the Leader removed and replaced a judge? Nope. He’s never removed a judge — nor, for that matter, ever appointed one. How about a legislator? Nope, not even once. A president? Nope. Ever decreed a law? Invalidated a law? Nullified an election? No, no and no. (The constitution does give the Leader power to remove a president, for example, AFTER the president has been found guilty of certain bad acts by the legislature, but that and various other “powers” assigned to the Leader are clearly ministerial acts, to be taken after some other government body (usually the legislature) has acted, not discretionary powers. And the Leader has never claimed (much less acted) otherwise.)

    But perhaps the Leader effectively has these powers because he can remove any member of the executive branch at will, and he’ll do so if they ever cease to do his bidding. That’s a bit more complicated question, I learned, but in nearly all cases, the Leader lacks that power too, and has exercised it very rarely, if at all, even when he arguably does have it. Who knows, perhaps he fears that the popularly elected Assembly of Experts, who can remove him at will, will become upset. Some members of that body have been known to grumble about him from time to time, after all.

    I could go on, but I think it’s best just to suggest the following, because your comments suggest to me that (1) you haven’t done this yet; and (2) it would be as illuminating for you as it was for me:

    1. Read Iran’s constitution, very carefully, and compare it to the US constitution.

    2. From then on, examine every major political event in Iran and ask yourself this question: “Did that event occur as the constitution provides that it should?”

    I think you’ll gradually develop a somewhat different impression of how things are done in Iran. Not overnight, but gradually you will.

  21. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @REV MAGDALEN

    Its you who don’t understand the role of the monarchy in the UK. The Queen is the figurehead for an unelected “Establishment” and aristocracy – The Royal Court, The Guards, The House of Lords, law courts etc….through her they can exercise the “royal prerogative” and manipulate affairs from behind the scenes.

    I doubt very much that an anti-royalist demonstration would be approved by the police: In the 1970s MI5 would routinely keep files on and try and infiltrate leftist groups – they may even had exerted pressure on Labour leader and PM Harold Wilson to resign.

    As for Iran, I think its pretty clear that your “sources” are from expat opppostion groups – possibly the PMOI. The demonstrations that accompanied Montazeri’s funeral at the end of 2009 were not violent and the government did not intervene or arrest anyone in Qom. If the authorities don’t give permits for rallies it is because of the threat of sedition and national security:Same thing happened back in the Vietnam war days – remember the Kent state massacre? the pro-regime rallies in Iran have been peaceful whereas we all saw the rioting and assaults on the police that happened at Ashura.

    You keep going on about the 1979 referendum, but there is no evidence of fraud or coercion despite what your “eyewitnesses” claim…..in the 25 elections held since 1979, when the people didn’t like what was on offer they boycotted the poll…when the felt they had a choice and there was something at stake, they flocked to the polling station, as with the presidential election of 2009.

    Also chants of “marg bar Khamenei” are an indictment of the current “Vali-e-faqih” and not the position of “Velayat-e-faqih” which Montazeri thought Khamenei cheated him of.

    Btw, the 1988 execution of Mojahdeene Khalq prisoners was approved of by Mousavi and Karroubi.

  22. M.Ali says:

    Rev,

    Thanks for continuing this debate.

    I think my personal issue about all of this is trying to seperate myself from what sounds “nice”. Inalienable/natural rights is something most politicians talk about, yet they mean different things at different times to different people. For example, you mention, “The American Founders probably struggled with this problem during their long debates, but in the end they chose to say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident” and that’s that. We believe that, deep inside, every person feels him or herself to be equal to everyone else, and deserving of dignity and human rights, even people who hold unusual and unpopular opinions.”

    However, in reality, this so-called, belief was never really put fully into practice. Africans were enslaved, women had no votes, and American imperaliasm exists to this very day. American policy in regards to the world does not seem to indicate any sort of equal rights, nor does it seem that it views certain members to deserve dignity and human rights.

    But that is understandable. A lot of political keywords (equality, freedom, etc) are so vague and complex that I have since decided that they do not really lead to the right path. We should focus on explicit solutions that are best suited for the society.

    All nations are still struggling to find the correct path to follow. None are now placed in a perfect position for it to preach its morality to other countries. You mention America, so I will again go back to it. Yes, there are a lot of things to be respected about America, its military, geopolitical, technical, and economical might can be ignored. One often assumes that if a country is in such a superpower level, then they must be doing something right. Yes, but doing something right does not mean doing everything right.

    USA, in some areas, has less freedom than some other countries, but it has more freedom than others. American is always have internal debates to find a better balance, something a lot of other countries are also doing.

    You also bring up the point about majority vs the minority which is a great point to make and I want to run with it a bit. I agree the majority sometimes wishes to oppress the minority. Unfortunately, this is one of the aspects, and I’d say even DRAWBACKS, of democracy. Democracy is about the majority’s desire, therefore one can not attack Iran for claiming not to be democratic enough and by the same token, claiming that they take the majority’s desire to much into consideration.

    Some of the issues you mention are not really the leading concerns of the majority of the Iranians.

    My personal opinion is as follows: I do think certain protection and tolerance for minority has to be given. I speak as a minority myself. However, I will concede that Iran’s government is still relatively new, its under threat from certain powers, it has a lot of enemies in the neighbours who don’t want to see a powerful Iran, its economic, scientific, and military powers are still in need of improving, its internal government crisis needs stablizing, and so on. Each of this issues to me are the real crucial factors of Iran that first needs to be addressed. Once these are resolved, space could then be opened for talking about other issues.

  23. Rev. Magdalen says:

    M. Ali,

    Thank you very much for your insight, I really appreciate it. I will not go into the topic of the 2000 election, it could lead to a huge digression from the issue at hand! ;-) But I’m glad to know that you followed those issues and understand those details of American history; that was a very exceptional time in American history well worth studying.

    You have hit upon what I believe is the crucial issue in what some have called a clash of civilizations between the West and Islamic countries. You say, “Firstly, I do not think there is any such thing as “inalienable rights”, specially when it comes to things like freedom of speech,” and this echoes what the Iranian representative to the United Nations gave as his explanation for why Iran no longer accepts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is simply contrary to the interpretation of Islamic law currently in force in Iran.

    This is America’s true dark secret: we have no evidence to prove that human rights are inalienable and belong to every human at birth. The American Founders probably struggled with this problem during their long debates, but in the end they chose to say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident” and that’s that. We believe that, deep inside, every person feels him or herself to be equal to everyone else, and deserving of dignity and human rights, even people who hold unusual and unpopular opinions.

    You bring up an excellent point that most Iranians may not care very much about human rights one way or the other. I can definitely relate, as most Americans don’t care very much either, and the vast majority could not even find Iran on the map. Most people will live their whole lives without ever needing to have their human rights defended, because they are happy to go with the flow and do whatever’s necessary to stay out of trouble, without once considering whether their situation is unfair. As long as life is relatively good for them, they have no interest in changing anything.

    It is for the unpopular small minorities that human rights exist. The 350,000 Baha’i with their unique philosophy. The Zoroastrians with their ancient heritage. The differently-sexually-oriented. The atheists. The UFO-believers. The misfits of every type. They are never the majority, but they must always be protected, because they are like the canary in the coal mine. If their rights are trampled, then nobody is really free.

    In Western philosophy, the majority has no right to impose laws that violate the rights of the minority, even if the move is popular. As I’ve said before, many times in history a large majority would have liked to oppress or completely wipe out a minority; it happens all the time. Western belief in inalienable rights means that we have a duty (which we clearly often neglect, to our great shame) to stand up for the minority being oppressed. There are certain rights that we believe may not be transgressed no matter how large a majority would like to do so, because those rights are inalienable, and any law alienating people from those rights is illegitimate.

    I have absolutely no idea how this dispute can be resolved. It seems like an impossible situation, but I hope more dialog will somehow find a way. There are many clerics who have proposed interpretations of Sharia law that conform to the Universal Declaration, perhaps they might be able to find a path to resolution. I know the Western world is never going to accept that there should be a different declaration of rights for certain people; that’s just not going to happen. I look forward to any insight you have and thank you again for the chance to talk about all this.

  24. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Dan Cooper,

    With respect, I believe I have made myself clear already that when we go to assess the human rights situation in a country, we do not compare it to other countries and say “Well it’s better or worse than so-and-so.” We have an objective standard called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the pre-Islamic Republic government of Iran was a signatory to, but which the current government of Iran has explicitly rejected as being contrary to their interpretation of Islamic law.

    I posted the Persian-language version of this document a few posts down, but here is its English equivalent for your benefit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTlrSYbCbHE. Please note that I am not affiliated in any way with the group that created these videos, I just think they’re incredibly good works of art as well as informing people of their inalienable rights.

    The topic of this blog is not human rights, it is whether or not the United States should engage Iran and normalize relations. In the course of considering that question, human rights arises as a natural factor in assessing whether or not it would be a good idea for the US to lift sanctions and accept the current IRI government as an equal trading partner and friendly ally.

    Although the US human rights record has sometimes been abominable, policy shifts with each new administration, and as President Obama campaigned largely on a policies of human rights and progressive issues, I don’t see it as likely that he would normalize relations with a severe human rights abuser, although he may be constrained by trade conditions to tolerate continuing alliances with abusive nations who gained status as US favored nations before he took office. I believe President Obama actually cares about human rights, and is very concerned with this issue, so in the effort for Iran and the US to engage one another, the human rights abuses in Iran are going to be a major issue blocking engagement even if the nuclear issue is settled amicably.

  25. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    Thank you for your reply. I’m afraid I must disagree with your assertion that an unfair voting situation in 1979 has no bearing on Iran’s current situation. As many have pointed out, the revolution was carried out by a variety of different groups working together, and I find no evidence to support the assertion that because the Khomeinist faction was apparently the most popular, therefore the vote to approve his constitution was the will of the majority.

    It’s entirely plausible that many people who supported Khomeini did not realize that he intended to set up a theocracy with himself as absolute ruler for life, or exactly what sort of constitution he was favoring, with its lack of checks and balances. I find it entirely believable that many people who had been photographed carrying Khomeini’s picture in mass demonstrations not long before, still might have wanted to vote “no” on the proposed referendum if they had felt safe doing so. The crowds in the streets during the revolution were shouting “death to dictator,” not “we want velayat-e faqih!”

    These claims of voter intimidation in 1979 have every relevance for Iran today, because if the truth is that Khomeini’s faction forced itself into power unfairly, then the current IRI constitution and government is fundamentally illegitimate and thus not a government the United States should normalize relations with.

  26. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Reza Esfanidari

    I believe you may have a mistaken impression about the monarchy in England. The queen has absolutely no powers anymore; her role is entirely ceremonial. She is “head of state” in the sense that she hosts state dinners and presents ceremonial gifts to people on behalf of the United Kingdom, but that is the extent of her role in policy. There is no veneer of royal approval hiding anything; she has no say in what the government does. If she ever did try to get involved in actually running the country I’m sure the anti-monarchy movement would become much more popular and lead to her speedy removal, which is probably why she stays out of things. ;-)

    As for the assertion that the IRI government “largely let it go” when people called for an end to velayat-e faqih and even “marg bar Khamenei,” with all due respect we both know that isn’t true. A new list of detainees was released just yesterday, and there are many other anonymous people in prison for their political speech, whose families did not choose to report their detentions to the Western media. Etemad Melli is still banned. HoDer is still in prison. Karroubi’s request for a permit to demonstrate in an empty space outside the city, so there could be no possibility of civil unrest, is still denied.

    Of course I suppose if you compare it to the massacre of approximately 4,000 political prisoners in 1988 you could indeed say this response has been mild, perhaps even the mildest in the region as some suggest. But it’s still nowhere close to conforming to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I urge you to watch this Persian-language video explaining the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to understand what the ideal for human rights would be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85EaZIjen68

    As for the 1979 referendum, your statement that those who did not like the proposed constitution did not vote is very worrisome for me. A constitution, if it truly going to express the will of the people about their government, should not be presented to the people as a finished document for an up or down vote. The people themselves must draft their constitution through some form of national debate, usually a constitutional convention. If that did not happen then we have no evidence, no collected arguments of the convention, to fall back on to prove that the things that ended up becoming the law of the land are actually things people wanted.

    It’s possible the recent mass unrest indicates that even if a majority of people did want the IRI constitution in 1979, the majority of Iranians (who were born after 1979 and had no say in the matter) now no longer want this constitution, and only a national referendum, with complete free speech and debate beforehand, can truly settle the matter.

  27. M.Ali says:

    Rev,

    I think you think the wrong meaning from my posts and changed in a way that somehow seems to indicate I put Iranains in a lower standard than westerns.

    Firstly, I do not think there is any such thing as “inalienable rights”, specially when it comes to things like freedom of speech.

    In Iran, I do not think there is a large prioity put by the majority of the people for more freedom of rights. I’m even sure one of Eric’s article links actually has a poll on that. I’m sure if you are interested, you could ask Eric to point you in the right direction in the article.

    There is a segment of western people that defend Iran by saying “they are just like us”. While ultimately this is good for the Iranian people, I’ve always found it slightly distastful assertion to make, as if one can only defend a nation if he/she can feel the group is similiar to themselves. Yes, there are some clear similiaraties everywhere one goes. However, when it comes to a topic like advertising athiesm, most of the population, at the moment, probably do not want this. And if they do, they want it less than many other more important issues they would want to be resolved first.

    Please do not view Iran by the microscopic view you have had the last few months. In 2000, as an Iranian in the Middle East, I had read a lot of US web sites & had a lot of online US friends. I was certain that in the elections Bush would lose by a large percentage. He didn’t and it was only later that I realized that I saw the American people through a tiny hole.

  28. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC

    Well, if it helps prevent another war in the region, your report could be priceless.

    You could even be nominated for the Pen award.

  29. Bill Davit,

    “Reza was correct and thanks to Reza for defending me.”

    Bill, I didn’t think otherwise. No apology necessary.

  30. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @BILL DAVIT

    The difference between Eric’s and my own is that I include lots of nice pretty tables, with figures, and I use various colors for each of Iran’s ethnic groups….don’t make me explain why I chose pink for Baluchis and blue for Kurds!

  31. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC & Rev MAGDALEN

    There was a lot of unity among the various revolutionary groups for 2 years – what set them apart was the following.

    1) The War: The elected president, a secular liberal by today’s standards, was mismangaging the defense of the country and the parliament was baying for his blood.
    After he was removed ,in 1981, Iran actually began pushing Saddam back.

    2) Insurrection: The Mojahedeen-e-Khalq started a campaign of violence in 1981 when it became clear their attempts to gain power had failed.This created a security crisis.

    3) Treason: The communists (The Tudeh party) were found to have conspired with the USSR back in 1983 and this effectively ended their participation in politics.

    4)Shariah law: The imposition of Islamic rules (particularly penal provisions) in 1981 was the final straw for many secular nationalists who decided to abort.

    There is never going to be a government in Iran that is supported by all groups. Even within the Islamic Republic, the competing factions are just as bitterly divided.

    However, the trend over the last 13 years has been towards a more democratic society..it is sure to continue…the French revolution took a long time to settle.

  32. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Eric and Reza,

    Reza was correct and thanks to Reza for defending me. My comment was a light hearted one complimenting you on the work you put into nothing else. By the way after reading Reza’s for the third time “I hope he got paid for that as well” because it was a well researched and written paper. And, yes I am still working through my replys–however it will be delayed by the Bulls game I am going to watch!!

    Thx
    Bill

  33. Dan Cooper says:

    Turkey: World is turning a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear weapons

    Turkey’s prime minister said Sunday that the world is turning a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear program and that he intends to raise the issue at the nuclear summit in Washington.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan remarked that Iran’s nuclear program is being scrutinized because of its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency whereas Israel, which has not signed a nonproliferation treaty, is free to do what it wants.

    “We are disturbed by this and will say so,” Erdogan told reporters before his departure for Washington on Sunday.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1162220.html

  34. Dan Cooper says:

    Rev. Magdalen

    Iran’s human rights is far from perfect but comparatively speaking, is one of the best in Middle-East and in some ways far superior to US & Israel(bearing in mind what these two countries have done to other countries during the past 60 years).

    I have noticed that in almost every post, you have analysed the human rights in Iran in depth, but when I asked you about “the violation of Human- Rights by Both USA and Israel, during the past 60 years”, all you mentioned was “Abu Ghraib”, and not a word about Israel’s atrocities.

    60 years is a long time and there have been many violations of human rights.

    When you analyse the human rights in Iran, USA and Israel, you ought to adopt a fair and even-handed approach, and do not allow the ideological and emotional agendas result in distancing you from realities.

    You have said a lot about human rights in Iran and I have a respect for your capacity for details but you have been uncharacteristically economical with details about US & Israel’s violations.

    Since the core of your argument is Human Rights, It is important that you describe the full details of “human rights violations” by both US & Israel too.

  35. Rev. Magdalen,

    “I think it would be [useful for you to consider] the issue of the 1979 vote count which created the Islamic Republic, giving control of the nation to the resident self-defined experts in Shi’a Islamic law.”

    It’s a bit late to devote time to that question. And pointless: whether or not the percentage was exaggerated, I have no doubt that a very high percentage of Iranians approved the creation of the Islamic Republic that day, without any need for coercion. Your suggestion that the present-day dissatisfaction of some Iranians (including many expatriates, with whom I suspect most of your conversations with Iranians occur) casts doubt on the validity of that referendum brings to mind a comment I made about a week ago in this thread. It was directed to a different observation, but I think my point applies here too: in the heady post-revolution atmosphere, today’s grumbling secular liberals set aside their differences with the Islamists long enough to approve the Islamic Republic, but soon thereafter focused again on their differences.

    I’ll repeat my earlier comment here; please bear in mind that it was aimed at another observation, and so doesn’t respond exactly to your current comment, and please forgive its length:

    Your raising of this issue reminds me of Charles Kurzman’s book, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (highly recommended to me by Dr. Gary Sick, an astute Iran analyst now teaching at Columbia – though I don’t mean to suggest that Dr. Sick and I agree generally on Iran). Dr. Kurzman explained that the overthrow of the Shah required the combined effort of several groups – secular liberals, Islamists, students, striking (and other) workers, and others. That was hardly an original or profound observation, though that did not matter since it was not Dr. Kurzman’s central point (which, instead, was that the revolution happened largely because the various participants gradually came to believe that it COULD happen, and thus participated in greater and greater numbers and with greater and greater zeal, so that it DID happen).

    Dr. Kurzman’s account nonetheless was interesting. He explained that many prominent liberals in Iran had long hoped/believed that the Shah could be persuaded peacefully to ease up a bit, and they had had some limited success with their peaceful approach. The Islamists, of course, harbored no such illusions. Many liberals eventually concluded that they ought to hitch their wagon to the Islamist star, at least long enough to get rid of their common enemy, and that is what happened.

    When the dust cleared, however, as nearly always happens after a revolution, the liberals were yanked back to reality: they didn’t really see eye to eye with their temporary allies on a lot of issues. They were disappointed, for example, to learn that the draft (and eventually the final) Iranian constitution had all this Islam stuff in it – who had asked them? In short, they were shocked, shocked – and remain to this day shocked, shocked – that the Islamists, who had been by far the strongest group in the ad hoc coalition formed to oust the Shah, had insisted on writing the rules once the Shah was gone. Some participants in the overthrow of the Shah (the liberals, for example) felt they were just getting rid of the Shah; others thought they were participating in a revolution; still others (the Islamists) thought they were participating in an Islamic revolution. And – guess what – it was this last group that got to write the rules — not to mention the official history books.

    And those rules are still in place. I am not saying this is how it ought to be in Iran but, as most Americans’ once-favorite news anchor, the avuncular Walter Cronkite, used to say at the end of his evening newscast: “That’s the way it is.”

  36. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @REV MAGDALEN

    The fact remains that the British people have not had any choice in whom they have as head of state. I think they would still opt for a monarchy, but one that is reformed and does not serve as cover for the Establishment to do what it pleases under the veneer of royal approval.

    As reported on Enduring America, there were demonstrations and protests in Iran that called for Ayatollah Khamenei to resign – even calling for his demise. This was also true 11 years ago during the student riots. The authorities largely let it go.

    As for the referendum of 1979, I don’t know any party (secular or religious) that disputed the result – those who didn’t like the proposed constitution didn’t vote.

    Remember that for the first 2-4 years of the revolution, all of the anti-royalist factions united ( communist, marxists, nationalists, fundamentalists, liberals etc) and participated in the elections – indeed, the first government of the Islamic Republic, the Bani-Sadr adminstration, would be seen as secular by today’s standards.

  37. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    I would like to say that I have a tremendous amount of respect for your intellect, and your capacity for research and logical reasoning, and your meticulous attention to detail. I think it would be a great benefit to humanity if you would turn your powerful skills to the issue of the 1979 vote count which created the Islamic Republic, giving control of the nation to the resident self-defined experts in Shi’a Islamic law.

    As you can see, the Wikipedia entry for this matter is merely a stub: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Islamic_Republic_referendum,_March_1979 needing serious attention from an experienced election scholar like yourself.

    As I mentioned previously, I have been told by people who claim to be eyewitnesses to the 1979 referendum, and who have verified credentials to back that up, that when they personally went to vote, it was an open ballot and men with guns were there, and they were personally frightened to vote “no.” They say the few who did vote “no” did so as a bold and reckless political statement, and that many more would have liked to have voted “no” but were afraid to because of the intimidation at the ballot box.

    The world deserves to know who is telling the truth about this matter. I mentioned that based on my knowledge of human nature, I don’t find it credible that 98.2% of people agreed on anything as major as adopting an Islamic Republic, especially since approximately 10% of the Iranian population is not Shi’a, and I find it hard to believe they would vote for rule by Shi’a authority. I could be wrong. We need an investigator and number cruncher to look into this matter, and I think you are the man to do it!

    To me, this vote, even though it was so long ago, is the one that matters most. If this vote wasn’t fair, then the Iranian people are in serious need of a fair referendum to figure out what it is that they actually do want their government to be like. This time, secret ballot and no guns.

  38. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Reza Esfandiari

    Thank you very much for your reply. I would repeat that the situation of human rights in other nations has no bearing on the human rights of Iranians; each situation must be looked at individually.

    However, to answer your question, yes, the movement to abolish the monarchy is completely free and open in England. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republicanism_in_the_United_Kingdom which states that the last time the movement introduced a bill to parliament on the topic was 1991. Based on my experience having visited Britain and knowing many citizens, my assessment is that the majority of British citizens simply don’t care enough one way or the other to get rid of their monarchy, and also many people think of the royals as a sort of equivalent to America’s Hollywood stars; beautiful people with no real power who are always in the news doing entertaining and/or shocking things, giving everyone a bit of amusement in their day, so they have a fondness for the institution.

    I am 100% certain that if anyone in England wanted a permit to organize a rally to call for a referendum to abolish the monarchy, they would be permitted to hold such a rally. If they gained enough public support, they could elect members of parliament to introduce a bill for the referendum to abolish the monarchy, and nobody would be intimidated or arrested for any of this.

    If, in the course of the anti-monarchy rally, anyone were to disturb the peace, throw stones, break windows, or assault police officers, they would be arrested, charged, and released on bail within a few days at most. The maximum punishments they would face would be no different from any other person charged with vandalism or assault; no special punishment would be attached because the crimes occurred at a political rally. If at any point during their incarceration the detainees were molested or harmed in any way, they could immediately go to the newspapers, tell their story, have it investigated by impartial investigators, and receive a huge compensation check from the government to apologize for the mistreatment.

    The right to make major changes to your government, including getting rid of a monarch or jurisprudent guide, is absolutely a right that people in a representative government have. It is a false argument to say that people who advocate completely changing the government are a “security risk” to the nation. They’re a security risk to the entrenched existing power structure and those who are empowered by it, for sure, but not a security risk to the nation, which consists of a collective of sovereign citizens who have the inalienable right to change their government whenever they wish.

  39. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    I apologize, I’m afraid I must not have made myself clear. I agree with you 100% on this issue! I find no flaw at all in any of your argument.

    I was merely stating that when governments try to justify infringing freedom of speech, they usually give the explanation (which we both know is false!) that there is a public danger that requires the infringement on free speech.

    I was asking whether that is in fact the explanation the IRI is using to justify their infringement on atheist free speech, and if so, what is the specific danger to society that this infringement is meant to protect against.

    I submit that if the “danger” that justifies the infringement on free speech is solely that people’s souls will be endangered, that is a matter that cannot be touched by government in any way, because it is a completely religious matter, and thus, by definition, part of the private sphere protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  40. Rev. Magdalen says:

    M. Ali,

    Thank you very much for your reply, you bring up some excellent points that I used to believe. For 30 years, I paid no attention to Iranian human rights at all, specifically because, as you said, I believed that “The cultures are different, freedom is a different concept and practiced differently everywhere.” I believed that the original 98.2% pro-theocracy vote count in the 1979 referendum was the will of the people, and that Iranians are simply different from Westerners, and do not want to exercise the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

    I believed Iranians did not want those rights, because the culture of Iran was so different from the West that those rights were simply not something people wanted to exercise, even though they do have the rights no matter what any statute says, since they are inalienable. Of course I had met many Iranians here in America who were no different from anyone else, but I assumed these were Iranians who were “misfits” among their own people, who sought out Western values just as there might be Americans who are moved to go adopt another nation’s culture.

    Then I saw the aftermath of the 2009 election and saw actual real Iranians for the first time out on the streets speaking loudly and clearly. Even after the Supreme Leader informed them that the matter was settled, they kept on speaking out loudly and clearly. That’s when I realized it was possible I had been fooled all this time, and actually Iranians are exactly like Westerners, in terms of wanting their basic human and civil rights.

    I asked questions. I met Iranians. I found out that during that amazing 1979 landslide referendum that convinced the West to recognize the IRI government, the voting was done by open ballot, not a secret ballot, and men with guns were there to see how people voted. And I thought to myself, my god, we should have questioned that. Vote results like that NEVER happen naturally, people simply are not that much in agreement on any major political issue. Western observers should have said, if this frankly unbelievable result is true, let’s see you do it again with UN observers and a secret ballot. We should have stood up and questioned a vote result that was really not credible, but our Orientalism blinded us, and we accepted that a result that would never be believable in the West was totally believable among these “exotic” people.

    So, from this perspective, I simply don’t believe anymore that Iranian culture is so different from Western culture that Iranians do not want their human rights, especially as in 1948 the Iranian government signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of course we all remember Cyrus the Great, who is the first known ruler to give civil rights to his people. In 1982, the IRI representative to the UN declared that Iran no longer accepts the Declaration, as it “trespasses” Islamic law, but Iran was an Islamic country in the Shah’s time, and still supported these rights. I believe that forbidding Iranians their rights is not truly part of Iranian culture, it is a new development within the past 30 years, and I don’t believe a majority of Iranians truly support these changes. I believe most Iranians want to have the same freedoms their grandparents enjoyed, and their ancient forefathers before them in Cyrus’s time.

  41. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @REV MAGDALEN

    “I wonder if you could elaborate for me whether there any currently publishing newspapers that call for an immediate referendum to peacefully and fairly settle the question of whether or not the Iranian people still want velayat-e faqih?”

    Yes, the newspaper “Mardomsalari” has called for the use of referendums to resolve major political issues. As for “velayat-e-faqih”, the debate in Iran is over the specific authority and powers invested in religious leadership, not the principle itself.

    When was the last time the British people were given the opportunity to vote in a free referendum over whether they still want an unelected, hereditary head of state?

  42. Reverend,

    In your response to Iranian@Iran, you wrote:

    “The second problem I have with your conclusion is that denying the Holocaust is a specific activity related to the study of history…Having any opinion about the Holocaust is a completely optional activity, but everyone, everywhere, wonders what will happen to them after they die. This is a question that is settled in the heart of every human…No study of a historical question can be in the same category, because…historical disputes are settled by presenting and evaluating evidence. Belief is not settled by evidence, it arises or departs spontaneously in every heart.”

    There is no justification for imprisoning a human being merely because he or she expresses a belief that a historical event did not occur. Period. To outlaw the expression of a certain belief — not behavior, not even promotion of a belief, but the mere expression of a belief — based on whether one can present “evidence” to support that belief is outrageous. Even to suggest that Holocaust-denial laws are defensible for that reason is morally reprehensible. You do acknowledge that Holocaust-denial laws are “controversial” and mention that you personally disagree with them, but you nevertheless contrast them favorably with laws against the promotion of atheism.

    If Iran were to imprison anyone who denied that the Ayatollah Khomeini ever lived, would that pass muster under the distinction you draw? If you wake up tomorrow morning and proclaim that the world was created on January 1, 2004, may we imprison you because your denial of all pre-2004 evils (including the Holocaust, among many others) might induce our wayward youth to shave their heads and tattoo swastikas on their chests? If I visit you in prison and assure you that I do not agree with the law under which you were convicted, but I nonetheless contrast that law favorably with a law prohibiting the promotion of atheism, would you doubt whether I really believed what I had told you?

  43. M.Ali says:

    Rev. Magdalen,

    Its possible that Iranian@Iran might side-step this particular issue, but let me inject myself in this conversation and say, yes, none of those are allowed. Other things that would not be allowed would be content that is explicitly sexual.

    The cultures are different, freedom is a different concept and practiced differently everywhere. Such issues are not currently a big priority for the majority of Iran, it still has bigger issues to tackle, such as better self-sustainable home-grown industry, better economy, better defense system, improved stability, and so forth.

    It is like the West’s big hoopla over Ahmedinijad’s minor comment about “there being no gays in Iran”, ignoring everything else the President said at the university and just focusing on that, which frankly is not something that keeps Iranian awake at night.

    In due time, when & if a strong social need arises for such issues, then the public will start demanding for it. This is essentially what a democracy is supposed to be, democracy is not supposed to be, let’s take the concerns of the west and make sure it is implemented in Iran.

  44. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Iranian@Iran,

    Thank you very much for your reply. I appreciate your forthrightness and clarity on this issue. I wonder if you could elaborate for me whether there any currently publishing newspapers that call for an immediate referendum to peacefully and fairly settle the question of whether or not the Iranian people still want velayat-e faqih? Of course I realize you and most of the others here think the answer to that question is obvious, and such a referendum would be a waste of time and money, but are there newspapers for sale on Enghelab Street that daily call for such a referendum regardless of it being a foolish idea? Can you give me your personal assurance that if my friends in Iran start to publish such a paper, nothing will happen to them?

    As to the question of the promotion of atheism being illegal, I confess I have trouble understanding your conclusion that “just as their are laws in Europe about denying the Holocaust, there are laws in Iran against propagating atheism,” and that this is justified because Iran is an Islamic Republic.

    The trouble I have with understanding this is threefold. First, there are many nations which have official religions and are technically theocracies. For example, the Queen of England is the head of the Anglican Church, the official state religion of England. And yet, no one in England is punished in any way for propagating atheism or any other religion, even newly invented ones with no books. The state religion is just a formality for the purposes of protocol, such as which clergy will give the blessing for important official functions. Citizens are free to speak and propagate whatever their heart moves them to. Thus it seems to me that the mere fact of Iran having an official religion does not give the government the right to forbid citizens from propagating any other religion, or atheism.

    The second problem I have with your conclusion is that denying the Holocaust is a specific activity related to the study of history, a topic which many people never choose to bother their heads about one way or the other. Having any opinion about the Holocaust is a completely optional activity, but everyone, everywhere, wonders what will happen to them after they die. This is a question that is settled in the heart of every human, usually on a moment to moment basis, based on emotional feelings. No study of a historical question can be in the same category, because not everyone studies history, and historical disputes are settled by presenting and evaluating evidence. Belief is not settled by evidence, it arises or departs spontaneously in every heart.

    Third, the laws against Holocaust denial enacted by Europe are very controversial in my own country, where we firmly believe in even Nazis having a right to free speech. However, the explanation given by the Europeans for this law is that there are active groups seeking to essentially reform the Nazi party and carry out its goal of exterminating all Jews, and because of this special situation of public danger, the infringement on free speech is necessary. Myself, I don’t buy it, but that’s their explanation.

    What is the Islamic Republic’s comparable justification for forbidding the propagation of atheism? Are there active atheist groups anywhere in the world causing a public danger for other citizens? They seem like a mild-mannered bunch from my experience, but if Iranian officials know of atheist terrorist groups intending to harm people, please share this information. The world has a right to be told of these dangers, if they exist. If they don’t exist then, again, you have made a false comparison.

    You may say that leaving Islam harms a person, but if that is true it’s not the kind of harm a government has the right to get involved in. It’s for each person’s heart alone to decide. I believe it would be Orientalist to say that Iranian hearts are different from other people’s hearts, especially since we’ve had similar situations right here in America: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_atonement The right to advocate that people should leave any religion is a basic human and civil right recognized by the United Nations, and it doesn’t matter where people live, they still have that right.

  45. Fiorangela Leone says:

    I was musing today that if the US truly functioned as a democracy, we would have a rotating set of representatives, chosen at random from among the populace to serve for 6 months or until a given problem was resolved, then return to their families/work/career. No openings for buying or influencing elections, no media circus that is mislabeled as an election.

  46. kooshy says:

    Reza
    You mean the one party name is RepDem

  47. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC

    That’s Chomsky’s argument – the gerrymandering of congressional seats, and the institutionalized bias of the corporate media to the two main parties ensures that there is no challenge to the political system.

    Its would you like Pepsi or Coke?…..every 2 years.

    Some people have argued that there exists only party: Democratic-Republican.

  48. Reza,

    We don’t have a government “screening” of candidates in the US, but we do have a screen. I live in California, where two candidates for the Republican nomination for governor have muscled out all other contenders. Both are extremely wealthy. According to an article I read yesterday, Steve Poizner has so far spent $19 million of his own money in the race. Meg Whitman, the former EBay CEO and billionaire, has spent $59 million of her own money, and there’s a lot more where that came from. One can hardly walk down the street without tripping over an advertisement from one or the other of them. The presumptive Democratic candidate, Jerry Brown, is husbanding his meager $14 million campaign war chest for the time being. And we’re still several weeks away even from the primary elections, seven months away from the general election.

    In short, we have different methods of pre-selecting candidates in the US.

  49. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC

    “Since the election, of course, Mousavi’s supporters have expressed great concern about this defect of Iranian democracy, suggesting that Ahmadinejad’s election was invalid because so many would-be candidates were excluded. The best answer may be this question, posed to them: “If Mousavi had won, would you have argued that his election was invalid?””

    Of course, they wouldn’t if Mouavi had been elected – they would see it as a trimumph for democracy.

    About the “exclusion of candidates”: 475 people registered with the Interior Ministry – most of them political nobodies. The Constitution of the IRI allows for a fair campaign where all eligible candidates receive equal TV & radio time: you can’t do that for 475 people. The question is not whether there should be any screening of candidates, but who’s doing the screening. Some people say the Guardians council, invested with this responisbility, is partisan but in this election we had 2 conservatives and 2 reformists. In 2005, there were 3 conservatives, 3 reformists and a centrist.

    85% of Iranians voted – if they didn’t think they had a choice, they wouldn’t have bothered. As long as you have a contested election, the candidates have to reach out to the electorate and their demands. Both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi have appeal beyon their principle constituencies.

  50. Fiorangela,

    Further on Tom Milstein (who, one must note, has yet to respond to my expressed and genuine desire to learn more): His effort to shift the focus to the Saudi lobby reminds me of this old joke:

    A man was walking through a park and came upon another man on his hands and knees, evidently searching for something in the tall grass.

    “Lose something?” the first man asked.

    “My keys,” replied the second man.

    “I’ll be glad to help,” said the first man. “Where exactly were you when you dropped them?”

    “Over there,” said the second man, pointing to a shady spot about 20 feet away.

    “Then why are you looking here?” asked the first man.

    “The light’s better here,” replied the second man.

    The light may be better when one discusses the Saudi lobby than when one discusses that other lobby. But I don’t think that’s the spot where we’ll find our keys.

    I often think of this same joke when people express their great concern with Iran’s defective method of pre-selecting presidential candidates. While some Western writers — for example, Thomas Friedman, who raised this point in an early February 2009 column entitled “Ballots Over Bullets” — raised this concern before the June 12, 2009 election, I certainly don’t remember Mousavi raising the point before the election. And what rational candidate WOULD have clamored for another reform candidate to be added to the list, predictably siphoning votes away from himself?

    Since the election, of course, Mousavi’s supporters have expressed great concern about this defect of Iranian democracy, suggesting that Ahmadinejad’s election was invalid because so many would-be candidates were excluded. The best answer may be this question, posed to them: “If Mousavi had won, would you have argued that his election was invalid?”

  51. Fiorangela,

    Thanks. I always prefer, and I think you do too, to read what someone writes and figure out whether it’s well-argued and well-supported. Even if it comes from Max Boot, much less Tom Milstein. After a while, of course, one stops reading a writer who has too often failed the “well-argued” and “well-supported” tests, but Tom Milstein hasn’t yet had his fair shot.

  52. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric, on April 9 at 3:15 your wrote a response to Tom Milstein re (relative) power of Saudi lobby vs. Israel lobby:

    “Maybe Fiorangela …

    If we can set that question aside, where it belongs, I too would be interested to hear more from you on the Saudi lobby’s influence on US policy toward Iran.”

    Don’t hold your breath.
    Milstein appears to be part of The American Thinker blog, http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/12/the_balance_of_terror_in_the_m.html , which sports adverts by Boeing, among other name-brands. More importantly, he seems to purvey a decidedly neoconish pov, with an accent on killing as a means of solving problems.

    In an email, he suggested I read two articles wherein Max Boot, HISTORIAN, was seriously discussed. I thought Boot’s job was in the marketing department of a major pharma firm selling hi blood pressure medication: he frequently inflames and provokes, seldom informs.

    In short, in my opinion, Milstein is an hasbarist, a propagandist. His attempts to shift the conversation to take on an anti-Saudi cast are subtle, as compared to Mike Evans’s outrageous ranting in “The Final Move Beyond Iraq: The Final Solution While the World Sleeps ” whose breathless title would, you would think, tell you all you need to know about the strident ideological bent of the author. Reading the first few pages is even worse: Evans insists that the United States recognize that, as a Christian nation, it is on the side of Isaac; it should take that stand more seriously and wage war on Ishmael…..

    Evans is a former speechwriter for and consultant to Bibi Netanyahu. He writes for The Israel Project and, as I recall from the flyleaf of “Beyond Iraq,” is part of a “charitable” organization called “Project David” or “Project Daniel…” something like that.

    By associating Milstein with Evans I may be tarring Milstein with Evans’s apocalyptic-cum-warmongering style. Mr. Milstein can defend against the association if he cares to.

    In discussing their biography of Harry Truman, Allis and Ronald Radosh are quite clear about the efforts undertaken in the years immediately after WWII to cleanse the US State Department of “Arabists” and to replace them with persons symapthetic to Israel. One suspects Milstein fits at least that mold.

    There is no doubt that the United States has a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia — a lot of Saudi money flows through the American financial system, as well as its energy grid. I remain interested to read an objective analysis of how Saudis influence the US, but my skeptic’s antenna is raised high, Mr. Milstein; referencing Boot has tipped your hand.

  53. Liz says:

    Americans should be proud of people like Eric.

  54. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC

    I don’t think Bill is implying you were paid.

    But the effort you put into your article is staggering when one considers you were not commissioned to write it.

    I am also somewhat baffled – An American like yourself investing so much time to defend the authenticity of an Iranian election is impressive, but still startling.

  55. Bill,

    “I hope you got paid for writing that article.”

    I didn’t interpret your remark to suggest that someone with a bias paid me to write this, and I seriously doubt that is what you intended. In any case, no one paid me, offered to pay me, or encouraged me to write the article (for which I’ll provide a link again, since it’s now several hundred messages down in this interminable thread: http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/)

  56. Liz says:

    If Abbas Abdi really said this, it’s pretty sickening:

    http://saharnews.ir/view-11119.html

  57. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    Your daily press review

    http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=217012

    Take a look at Ebtekar’s headline: Ayatollah Shirazi’s remarks.

  58. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @BILL DAVIT

    Neither Eric nor myself are paid apologists for anyone.

    The Chatham House report was sponsored by the institute itself (the RAND corp of the UK) and the university of St Andrews.

  59. M.Ali says:

    Oh yeah, and while I think I attacked Liz a bit for her posting style, let me quickly backpeddal a bit and acknowledge that I like her latest post (the one under mine), which I think is a crucial point to make regarding Iran’s democracy.

    Some posters here, when their back is placed against the wall regarding good points about the election’s legitimacy, they only attack back by trying to ignore all of that and instead changing the argument by claiming that Iran is not a legimitate democracy anyway!

    However, each country has the right to choose their own style of democracy. If anything, Iran’s democracy, in certain areas, is more democratic than US. In the latter, for example, votes are not counted per person, but per state. While in Iran, it is counted per person…

  60. M.Ali says:

    I have read through this thread but this will be my first comment here. I have made several comments in EA, but due to the structure of the site there, it is difficult to continue discussions, as they get trailed off as new entries are posted on the website.

    A brief background first on myself: I voted for Mousavi in the elections (in Dubai, but I have shifted residency to Tehran recently) and after the results, I was disappointed and angry by the results. I was sure there was a widespread fraud and considered myself as part of the Green movement, even going as far as attending a protest in front of the Iranian consulate in Dubai (wearing a mask too!). As months passed by, I started to feel disillusioned by the movement and the movement’s supporters, as I saw they had no clear plan, no real objective, they have an inability to weigh the complexities of the situation, and they seemed to lie a lot. I met Greenies who claimed that the number of deaths were “in the thousands”. I read online Green reports and websites that eventually proved to be almost all heresay and rumors. Green analysis so exagerrated, that I fully expected the Green revolution to be right around the corner.

    But worst of all, was the arrogance, stubbornness, and close-mindness of a large portion of the Green movement that turned me off. The Green Movement is not about Iran, but about a certain minority in Iran. A specific group of politicians that felt sidelined and pushed away by the Ahmedinijad government and certain group of middle-class Tehranis, that with their stomach full, cars under their feet, and a nice house, with no real financial worries, had a desire for more changes. Which is fine, of course, but they did not ask, “What about the rest of Iran?”

    The GM has become so feverishly anti-Ahmedinijad, that one would expect to see Hitler at the podium. If it was any other leader (specially some of the “reformists”…), the crackdown could have been more brutal. Ahmedinijad has handled the situation fairly well, aside from the initial mishaps. He has wisely tried to ignore the attacks from the reformists and gone forward with doing his job.

    Anyway, I want to thank Eric’s article, which was what probably finally made me accept the legitimacy of the elections. After a while I felt the GM was not for me, but I still had many questions regarding the elections, however, thanks to Eric’s article, I have to say I have firmly changed my mind.

    I now want to make some comments regarding the discussion here:

    To the anti-GM people:

    (a) While I agree with some of the things you say, I do not agree with some of your tone. Every third line does not need to be a direct insult for your view point to come across. I want to specially point out Liz, that has no contributed anything worthwhile aside from tireless and constant attacks on Scott.
    Others have been more respectful, but I can see some are losing their patience, and are resorting to more uncivilized manner. I understand the frustration involved, guys, but it would be a shame to see the thread, which has so far been excellent reading material, turn into a mudslinging contest.

    (b) I notice that some of you don’t admit to any wrong-doing from the IRA. I think a person can be both pro-IRA and still not shy away from critizing it. You don’t need to go “…but what about USA/Israel!!” whenever the comment is about Iran. There is a lot of things to be proud about Iran and sometimes shifting the discussion to other countries shows weakness on your part to a reader like me. Of course, there are a lot of times comparisons need to be made, to make a point, but bringing about The Usual Suspects, somehows undermine your argument.

    To the Pro-GM Guys:

    (a) You guys start with a clear agenda and everything you read or digest is used to support your initial preconceptions. You do not objectively look at the facts. Case in point, Scott.
    Scott likes to claim that his site is unbiased and he only reports news as it comes in, but go through the website, and find any articles that in any way supports Ahmedinijad. After several months of anti-Ahmedinijad reportings, what effect will this have on EA’s readers? Now take this style of “unbiased” reporting and multiply it with the number of pro-GM websites that do the same thing and you have a passionate group of readers that are certain that Ahmedinijad does no good and has no supporters in Iran.

    (b) You guys do not accept valid arguments made by the anti-GM sidesand you refute them by either changing the subject or claiming you don’t trust the source, whether the source is Iranian news, Iranian politicians, Iranian IRA groups, pictures, etc, etc. By casting doubt on any source, it makes it impossible for the anti-GM group to be able to make any arguments. For example:

    (1) Statement: Huge rallies show a sign of support for Ahmedinijad/IRA
    Green Answer: Pictures were photoshopped OR they came for cake and orange juice.

    Allow me a bit of time to talk about this. If all pictures are claimed to be photoshopped, how can the other side respond? The burden of proof is on the group that says it is photoshopped and should show how it is, not just say it is, and close the file.
    But what I found more distasteful is the second argument, which is one of the reason I got turned off the Green Movement. They discount the emotions and opinions of thousands of people by claiming they only come to a rally for cake and orange juice, as if only the Green Movement has the right for legitimate political thought and everyone else only does it for free, cheap edibale items. This is more than just a simple statement, but it is the defining mindset of the Green Movement that is elitist and classist in its makeup. I have talked to Tehranis here, to them only certain areas of Tehran exists. There is no other Iran aside from this certain areas of Tehran, the poorer areas of Tehran they look at with suspicion, mistrust, and distaste. The other cities exist as only stereotypes.

    —-

    I wanted to write some more, but I think I’ll leave it to be this much for now…

  61. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    If you don’t know, say you don’t know. His question was about Khatami and he told you to provide evidence that he supported the greens.

    Bill Davit:

    Steer clear of the offensive and arrogant debating styles of ChrisE and Scott Lucas and we will all be friends. Iran is a democracy and in genral Iranians are satisfied with what they have. The mistake people in the west make is that they think democracy is an ideology. For example, Liberalism and Socialism are ideologies that frame society, while democracy is a method of rule. In Iran the broadly accepted ideology (I will not go into the never ending debate about the meaning and definition of ideology) and alongside that they have accepted democracy as a method of rule within this ideological framework. All important officials in the country are elected by the public through direct or indirect elections. For example, the leader can be removed at any time by the Council of Experts. Of course, it is a limited democracy, because MPs, the president, and CEs must accept the constitution in order to run. However, there is no unlimited democracy in the world anyway, because they must all be framed by some sort of ideology. In a capitalist society, obviously, you have limited democracy as well. However, the important point is that when western countries try to interfere in any countries internal affairs or fund TV channels, terrorist groups, and political bodies, the state naturally becomes defensive. In addition, if they are truely worried about human rights, they can worry about Israel, Saudu Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, etc.

  62. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Eric,

    I hope you got paid for writing that article. I can’t imagine the amount of work you put into it. Got my notes down and will take into account to focus on senses other than my “sixth” imaginary sense. By the way I am going to send you a bill for the time I have spent just trying to digest it and follow many of the links!!

    Thx
    Bill

  63. Eric A. Brill says:

    Bill Davitt,

    I look forward to your careful review of my article and your promised comments. I doubt this needs to be said, but just in case: be specific, stick to the facts, and use only two of your five senses. No Roger Cohen: “Sometimes you have to smell the truth, breathe it.”

  64. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ ALL AMERICANS

    I think its fair to say that >95% of Americans love their country, flag and Constitution with a passion.

    But if there was a referendum on the health of their political system, what should one expect to find?

    Do Americans really feel they have a stake in the running of the affairs of the United States or do they resign themselves to that corporations and special interests are in charge? Eric Brill, for example, speaks a lot about the Saudi lobby – he’s right. The Saudis own 7% of America through their investments.

    Given that a substantial minority believe that JFK was not killed by a lone madman or that the goivernment had some role in the 911 attacks, is there not a lot of resentment at the political system?

  65. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    Aren’t you somewhat taken in by some of the claims and statements made by the likes of Mousavi, Khatami, Rafsanjani and Karroubi.

    These are desperate men who are fighting for their political survival and relevance within the Islamic Republic.

    Karroubi, in particular, who got less than 1% in the election, and who admitted being corrupt in the debates, has really no place to go on the political scene….that’s why he was so quick to talk about rapes and the like.

    It may seem to you that there is a “crisis”, but the reality on the ground is that there is none…just some nasty mud-slinging.

  66. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @BILL DAVIT

    Eric’s paper is important as far as some of the specific claims of fraud are concerned
    ,together with the whole question of the legitimacy of the election.

    My paper is just a rebuttal of the Chatham House report and its incomprehension of the figures.

  67. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    “As expected, you have not answered the question.”

    That’s probably because I didn’t see one, just as I haven’t seen any support for your claims with which I can engage.

    Scott

  68. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Liz,

    Thank you for your reply. “Comparing Iran to Egypt shows that you either know little about Iran or that you know little about Egypt or both.” Why in the world must you attack when you have no idea what I truly know or don’t? Try stating your point objectively and you might be surprised people like me would agree with you. As for my reference to Iran and Egypt it was only brought into the context of how neither are true liberal democracies in the Western sense. Having said that I agree Iran’s electoral process is leap and bounds above Egypt’s and in general way better than the majority of the Middle East. I largely attribute this to the Shia disposition towards the acceptance ijtihad in modern times and the fact they did not reject early Greek thought (critical thinking.) The same cannot be said for the Sunni world (i.e. Egypt and Saudi Arabia for example) who still accepts the gates ijtihad were closed over a thousand years ago and still largely adheres to the teaching of Al Ghazali whose work “The Incoherence of the Philosophers” clearly demarked the time critical thinking was declared heresy. As pointed out the electoral process in Iran is a stark example of this–the majority of the Sunni states are fully fledged dictatorships while Iran is not. Another good example is the fact the Iranian educational system, in my opinion, is the most advanced in the Islamic world. Unlike the Sunni world Iran’s education system teaches a broad range of subjects, it does cover topics Islamists view as a threat, and most importantly it is not a rote learning system(Prof tells and the student can only listen accepting it as truth.) Ironically it is why I believe the Leveretts approach for engagement is a good idea because unlike the Sunni world Iran is much more aligned with the west ideologically. It is why of all the Islamic diaspora across the world the Iranians have always been the best at blending in with their host countries. It is also why I believe Saudi Arabia and its extremist ideology is the bigger threat than Iran. Stinks of hypocrisy that Iran is the target while in fact the ideology of the wakos across the world can be directly traced back to Saudis wouldn’t you say?

    In closing my reference was to highlight the fact Iran’s electoral process, while very democratic in terms of the entire Middle East, is not a true democracy. It would only be a true democracy if all were free to run based on popular vote and didn’t have an essentially unelected individual with over 75% of the power. The Iranian electoral basis is a selection based on autocratic principals with a blend of democracy to elect those selected. I hope this explains my point. Have a good weekend.

    Thx
    Bill

    Thx
    Bill

  69. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Eric and Reza,

    Have not fogotten you guys. I read both of the well written documents. Along that vein I am going to spend a bit more time on each and put together a somewhat detailed response. I think I owe it both of you to spend the time doing this knowing the work you both invested in both. I am about a 1/3 of the way responding to Eric’s paper and once done I will will work on Reza’s. I would anticipate everything being done by the end of the weekend–I have to balance this with work that pays the bills. By they way thanks you knuckleheads for making me feel like I am working on a term paper back in my days at Valparaiso univeristy–you know all nighters charged by Mountain Dew!! :) Take care and have a good weekend.

    Thx
    Bill

  70. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    As expected, you have not answered the question. Of course, President Khatami would attack President Ahmadinejad, they are rivals. However, that has nothing to do with the so called greens.

    Rev:

    Iran is an Islamic Republic and not a liberal democracy. Hence, just as their are laws in Europe about denying the Holocaust, there are laws in Iran against propagating atheism. However, if someone is just an atheist, as some are, nothing would happen to them. Regarding the concept of the Velayate Fagheeh, there are many published books in Iran that are opposed to it. Just take a walk on Enghelab St. and you can find many such books.

  71. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    ASRAR’s website:

    http://www.asrarnews.ir/

    Just put in Khatami(خاتمى) in the search(جستجو) box.

    The fact that Khatami is more prominent these days is a sign that Mousavi and Karroubi are fading fast, and the Green movement with it.

  72. Eric A. Brill says:

    Tom and Fiorangela,

    Tom wrote: “I also think you grossly underestimate the power of the Saudi lobby in America, and the world, even compared to the Israel lobby, but never mind.”

    Maybe Fiorangela does (and I and others do), though Fiorangela did mention the Saudi’s important role in ending the Iran-Iraq war. You’ve offered to provide more details. I more or less told you I wasn’t interested, but only because of your insistence that the Saudi lobby had a greater influence over the US than the Israeli lobby.

    If we can set that question aside, where it belongs, I too would be interested to hear more from you on the Saudi lobby’s influence on US policy toward Iran.

    Eric

  73. Eric A. Brill says:

    Tom and Fiorangela,

    Tom wrote: “I also think you grossly underestimate the power of the Saudi lobby in America, and the world, even compared to the Israel lobby, but never mind.”

    Maybe Fiorangela does (and I and others do), though Fiorangela did mention the Saudi’s important role in ending the Iran-Iraq war. You’ve offered to provide more details. I more or less told you I wasn’t interested, but only because your insistence that the Saudi lobby had a greater influence over the US than the Israeli lobby. If we can set that question aside, where it belongs, I too would be interested to hear more from you on the Saudi lobby’s influence on US policy toward Iran.

    Eric

  74. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Liz, Iranian@Iran,

    I am eagerly awaiting any reply as to the question of whether or not those adult Muslim citizens in Iran whose hearts are moved to leave Islam, and to advocate the abolition of velayat-e faqih, and to promote these beliefs in writing and speech to others, are now free in Iran to do so without any negative consequences. The Western media has quite a lot to say on this topic, and if it is propaganda I would like to help dispel the myths.

    Is it true, as Western media has said, that there are Sharia authorities in Iran who would punish someone for doing these things? A yes or no answer is fine if you are pressed for time.

  75. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Thank you. I’ll try and find the Asrar article.

    This is what we have today from Khatami, drawing from Kalemeh:

    “In a meeting with Tehran University students, Mohammad Khatami said that, if nothing is done, this year will be one of social crisis.

    Khatami, criticising the people in charge of the Ahmadinejad Government, said that the political atmosphere of Iran is very disappointing; as the government has chosen the strategy of lying, many young Iranian people are now questioning the Revolution itself.”

    Scott

  76. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS.

    Apologies….the link was bad.

    The Tehran Times publishes a daily review of the Iranian press, from both conservative and reformist newspapers.

    http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=216921

    Its worth taking a look at.

  77. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Try to be less arrogant. It’s obvious that you have no credible Iranian sources, because your lack of information that is common knowledge in Iran is pretty extraordinary.

  78. Liz says:

    Good response Iranian:

    Scott Lucas:

    “We’ll consider it”.

    :-)

    Are you joking? Who do you think you are? We are the Iranians and Persian speakers. We don’t need an orientalist like you, especially one like you who doesn’t speak a work of Persian, to teach us our language.

    You go find the link and in addition go find a link showing that Khatami supports the dead green movement and we’ll consider it. You are the one who needs to prove something. Remember?

  79. Scott Lucas says:

    Kooshy,

    I have replied to your question about “western propaganda war” on the US-Palestine-Iran top thread, since there is a bit more space (given 466 replies and counting here!) there.

    I apologise for the delay in response,

    Scott

  80. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    And when you feel better, do feel free to exchange ideas rather than polemi. I know you realise that when I reply on this board, I do so after discussing the points and going over the evidence raised with a number of people. Most of these colleagues are Iranians, some of whom are in Iran.

    Scott

  81. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Your link didn’t work for me. Can you confirm me.

    Iranian,

    I sense you’re having a very bad time. I’m sorry — if you feel better soon, do read what I have already posted about Khatami.

    Scott

  82. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @IRANIAN

    Khatami is a cautious man. I think he realises that the best thing the reform movement can do is to divorce itself from the Greens.

    Mousavi and Karroubi are both political “dead-enders” within the system….but Khatami is still the godfather of the reformists and he wants them to compete when the next election cycle begins in 2011.

  83. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    “We’ll consider it”.

    :-)

    Are you joking? Who do you think you are? We are the Iranians and Persian speakers. We don’t need an orientalist like you, especially one like you who doesn’t speak a work of Persian, to teach us our language.

    You go find the link and in addition go find a link showing that Khatami supports the dead green movement and we’ll consider it. You are the one who needs to prove something. Remember?

  84. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Tom Milstein, Thank you for your courteous and intriguing reply.

    You wrote:
    “The authorities and theories you cite in defense of these propositions are certainly intriguing, but hardly convincing. I could present much more cogent explanations — some much more “anti-Zionist” than yours — but will refrain. I also think you grossly underestimate the power of the Saudi lobby in America, and the world, even compared to the Israel lobby, but never mind.”

    If you could be persuaded to mention those “more cogent explanations” re Israel, as well as to spend some time educating us (me) on the Saudi lobby’s power and how it is manifested, I, for one, would be grateful.

    Your repetition of the point about the power of the Saudi lobby has resurrected from the memory-grave Giandomenico Picco’s comments at a Wilson Center conference, US – Iran: Lessons from the Past for the Present and Future. Picco mediated the ending of the Iran-Iraq war (it was not ended with a treaty since Iraq refused to be present at the negotiating table). Confronted with that situation, Picco said that he summoned lessons from Italian history in which bankers were the controlling parties in matters of war and peace — he contacted Saudi Arabian financiers on whose behalf Iraq waged war on Iran, and negotiated with them an end to hostilities between Iraq and Iran.

    Americans, like me, who lead with their anger rather than their brains, blaze away at the US for its role in Iraq’s war on Iran, but it’s more likely the case that the US was only a player in a larger game, and that US played its role with an incompetence that seems to be a hallmark of American relations with Iran-Iraq-Saudi Arabia since WWII.

    You also wrote, Tom:

    “Instead, I’d like you to consider a rather new fact of international relations which bears on both of our “biases.” Its implications are deeply subversive of the common assumptions of most people on this blog; indeed, of most partisans of the America-Iran-Israel triangle. It is simply this: the foreign policies of both Iran and Israel are in tatters. Both have been turned by “the world’s only Superpower” into pariah nations. Both have lost their allies in the world, and this is an extremely dangerous posture for any small nation. I’m much more interested in debating this recent development — both as to its factuality and its possible consequences — than I am in whipping the exhausted horses of Zionist “crimes” against the Arabs, or of Iranian “terrorism” and alleged oppression of spoiled college students.”

    Now you got my attention; this is a fascinating train of thought and I’m very interested to pursue it.

    Several very large shoes have dropped in the last few days: Erdogan stated the obvious from a European podium: it is not “logical” for Israel to do ‘anything it wants to do’ with its nuclear weapons BECAUSE it is not an NPT member (to mix a metaphor, Turkey’s PM said, emperor Israel is wearing no clothes). Lebanese PM Saad Hariri similarly attempted to shift attention from Iran’s nukes to Israel’s occupation of Palestine; and as the Leveretts pointed out, Basher Assad is flexing Palestinian muscle. This morning’s news that Netanyahu will not attend a nuclear conference in Washington because Middle East entities intend to demand that Israel’s nuclear posture be considered is a move that is only slightly more stupid than the US’s refusal to invite Iran to the table: Obama cannot simultaneously declare from Prague: “We reached out to Iran but they refused to respond,” and refuse to invite Iran to the table to discuss Iran’s nuclear activities. As you suggest, both Israel and Iran’s tatters are being exposed.

  85. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    The point is that Khatami sensed that the Green movement was jeopardising the case for political reform within the context of the Islamic Republic by becoming associated with sedition and rioters, some of whom were members of the Mojahedeen e Khalq (they admitted they had a hand in the Ashura unrest as well as back in June).

    What Khatami has called for is a revision to the election law, which is actually being discussed, and the release of all political prisoners – most of whom have been released since he gave his statement.

    There simply is no crisis of legitimacy in Iran. Currently, the most contentious issue is the subsidy reform program proposed by the government – there is disagreement between the Majlis and the Administration over how to implement it. Most Iranians are focused on the effects of this on their daily lives rather than on anything else.

    Just look at the Persian Press review (in English) from the Tehran Times.

    http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=216852

    Pay particular attention to the leading articles.

  86. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    “Mousavi released his 5 point plan for national reconciliation , Khatami criticised those who wanted to undermine the Islamic Republic as a system and even Karroubi said that he was no longer questioning the legitimacy of the administration ( even if he thought the election was rigged).”

    As Mousavi, Khatami, and Karroubi did not challenge the concept of an Islamic Republic before Ashura — and indeed the general line, amplified by Mousavi’s 5-point plan of 1 January, was for a “fulfillment” of the Islamic Republic through adherence to the Constitution — I don’t see the significant shift you are claiming.

    Khatami’s statement of 8 February:

    “Our expectation from all the influential figures of the country is fairness. We defend people’s rights and selections. For all of us, as we have announced before, the goal is to achieve a mechanism for holding healthy elections without any dispute so that people could trust that they can reinstate their rights.

    We believe that the government should stop the insults, destructions and arrests. Those who are detained care for the establishment and should be released immediately, and in a less intense environment the pressure on independent media should be eased.”

    I also note Khatami’s meeting at the end of Nowruz with “hundreds of reformists” who paid him a visit, and this week he, as well as Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rafsanjani, met membetrs of the reformist coalition in Parliament.

    Scott

  87. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    It was widely reported in the Iranian press that Khatami denounced the Ashura rioters as not being of the people and said that the Islamic Republic should be defended.

    I’m not going to dig up all of his statements over the last 3-4 months, but there is no doubt that Ashura was a turning point. The Green movement has been in decline ever since. After the mass demonstrations against the riots, Mousavi released his 5 point plan for national reconciliation , Khatami criticised those who wanted to undermine the Islamic Republic as a system and even Karroubi said that he was no longer questioning the legitimacy of the administration ( even if he thought the election was rigged).

    Had you asked me at the time, I would have provided you with the articles.

    Iranians have moved on, Scott….why can’t you?

  88. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    “I notice that Khatami has recently distanced himself from the Green movement and Mousavi, especially after the Ashura unrest.”

    Evidence?

    Best,

    Scott

  89. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PAK

    You say the system is undemocratic. Why then did 85% of the electorate participate in the last election and a majority in all 25 nationwide elections over the last 30 years? If the Iranian people thought they had no choice, why bother voting?

    The reform movement had its successes, but the hardliners felt confident to crush it because it failed to deliver on its promises, especially to the poor and working classes. The election of 2009 was a turning point for me…..I was inclined to support Mousavi and Khatami before it, but when I saw them lie through their teeth and cry “FRAUD!”, I lost all confidence in their ability to lead..how can you have such men running the country who refuse to accept the will of the majority?

    I notice that Khatami has recently distanced himself from the Green movement and Mousavi, especially after the Ashura unrest. Evidently, he feels his integrity is at stake – he was always regarded as honest and humble.

    Sorry, but I see things completely different from you – if you can’t accept the outcome of the ballot box, you can forget about any claim to believe in a free and democratic society that respects human/civil rights.

  90. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    Send the link to the Aref statement and we’ll consider it just as we have the Kavakebian and Tabesh claims.

    Scott

  91. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    What they have been saying is more than enough. The problem is that you are an activist rather than an analyst and that nothing can change your mind. I am assuming that you know you are wrong, but that you will not admit it. The issue raised about Dr. Aref is also proof that mainstream reformists are trying to rebuild the movement after the destructive and dishonest approach pursued by the Mousavi team.

  92. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Liz/Iranian@Iran,

    Because I adore both of you, I still look forward to any substantive response to the analyses of the Kavakebian statement or the thorough dissection of the claim on Tabesh.

    Scott

  93. Iranian@Iran says:

    Liz:

    It is useless to discuss things with Scott Lucas, especially when he tries to teach us what things mean in Persian! His interpretation of Kavakebian is rediculous. On the other hand his greatest fan (which used to be ChrisE), repeats all the propaganda that we hear in the mainstream “free press”. Notice how the free press has already forgotten about the Iraqi film outrage. The fact that Khatami’s own first vice president Dr. Aref, who used to be the president of the University of Tehran, has attacked Mousavi and said that Mousavi has almost destroyed the reform movement, is telling. Aref is creating a new reformist party without extremists and he utterly rejects the green thugs. Of course, if we look at his past Scott Lucas could possibly say “provide a link, now another,…well he was being ironic.” lol

  94. Liz says:

    Rev:

    Engaging in propaganda will not change anything. Those who live in Iran and who saw the post-election green violence, know that the so called movement was basically a phenomenon in parts of the northern part of the city of Tehran guided by an elite upper class and upper middle class group of people.

    It would be better for you to watch the authentic footage of American helecopters slaughtering civilians as the soldiers laugh. I mean the footage that has been hidden for years by the US government.

  95. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    To be honest, I don’t trust your explanation about your blog, especially since you have not been honest in the past. They way you claimed you would deal with evidence and the way you actually dealt with it is itself evidence enough to prove this. It seems that a stong majority of the people who write posts here do not accept your claims and that many of them are fluent in Persian. When you try to tell a Persian speaker what Kavakebian actually meant through a dishonest intrpretation of his statements, you lose even more credibility. You do not understand a work of Persian, yet you are trying to tell us that we don’t understand Persian.

  96. Liz says:

    Bill Davit:

    Comparing Iran to Egypt shows that you either know little about Iran or that you know little about Egypt or both. Iran is not a closed society and the elections process in the country is very sophisticated. It has worked effectively in the past and it will work effectively in the future. Contrary to what Pak says, their is no reason to believe that there will be any major problem with any future elections. People no longer trust the greens because they were violent, they made false accusations, and because it became clear that many elements among them were foreign funded or linked to terrorist organizations like the MEK, etc.

  97. Pak says:

    *if the regime refuses to loosen its grip

  98. Pak says:

    Dear Reza,

    The difference between me and you is that I no longer believe the current regime is democratic enough nor willing to embrace a reform movement (I never really did believe, but I did have hope). The way in which the core of the regime handled the reform movement from 1997 – 2004 was a sign of things to come (as acknowledged at the time by Rafsanjani and Karroubi among others). The true face of the regime emerged with Ahmadinejad and peaked last June. With these thoughts in mind, I truly see no hope for the reform movement or free and democratic elections in 2011; I can’t even imagine how the regime will handle the next presidential elections. The reform movement as we know it has been crushed and its supporters disheartened. Eventually, if the regime refuses to its grip (which I am certain they will), the Green Movement will evolve with the hope that, through civil disobedience and pressure from below, true reform will be implemented. And I am hopeful that in 2011 the regime will demonstrate to people like you just how incapable they are of running a democratic, tolerant and free Iran.

    My thoughts are that engagement will pressure the regime into accepting change, at minimum to guarantee their own survival.

  99. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Mr. Milstein,

    I dare you to look this woman in the eye and tell her to her face that you think her son was a spoiled college student who was only allegedly oppressed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH33aCNfsyI

  100. Tom A. Milstein says:

    Fiorangela Leone:

    By the way, if you are anyone else wishes to privately discuss these or other matters (civilly) with me, I can be reached at tmilstein@optonline.net.

  101. Tom A. Milstein says:

    Fiorangela Leone: I do have my biases, and am perfectly able to argue on their behalf, quite as passionately as you do yours. But in my little essay I tried to put them aside, at least to the extent of trying to assess what the objective factors were in the U.S.-Iran relationship. I appreciate the fact that for the most part you have tried to do likewise, and will respond to some of your points in the same civil and courteous manner you have displayed.

    Israel certainly does label its vulnerabilities vis-a-vis Iran in existential terms. This is what I meant by “noise.” Dispassionately considered, an Iranian nuclear capability does not represent an existential threat to Israel. In defense of the Israelis, may I submit that the same “noise” regarding Israel’s supposed existential threat to Iran is emitted by the Iranian leadership. It too should be discounted.

    You discuss at length Israel’s supposed psychological and economic needs to dominate and exploit the Middle Eastern environment. The authorities and theories you cite in defense of these propositions are certainly intriguing, but hardly convincing. I could present much more cogent explanations — some much more “anti-Zionist” than yours — but will refrain. I also think you grossly underestimate the power of the Saudi lobby in America, and the world, even compared to the Israel lobby, but never mind.

    Instead, I’d like you to consider a rather new fact of international relations which bears on both of our “biases.” Its implications are deeply subversive of the common assumptions of most people on this blog; indeed, of most partisans of the America-Iran-Israel triangle. It is simply this: the foreign policies of both Iran and Israel are in tatters. Both have been turned by “the world’s only Superpower” into pariah nations. Both have lost their allies in the world, and this is an extremely dangerous posture for any small nation. I’m much more interested in debating this recent development — both as to its factuality and its possible consequences — than I am in whipping the exhausted horses of Zionist “crimes” against the Arabs, or of Iranian “terrorism” and alleged oppression of spoiled college students.

    Best regards,

    Tom

  102. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Iranian@Iran,

    Thank you for your reply. As for me not knowing much about Iran you are partially correct because I am an American. However, my two best friends are Iranians with the bulk of their family still in Iran. We literally talk about Iran daily with me often requesting they translate articles in Persian for me. Doesn’t make me an expert but I would have to say it does offer me enough information to make informed comments. I would also point out you seem to offer quite a bit of opinion of the US and I could make the same arguement in kind. In both cases the arguements are in themselves false because they discount the others opinion based on a unproven perception the other does not know what they are talking about. This kind of malaise is something very indactive of neocons and the current regime in Iran. They don’t see and are basically incapable of seeing any other truth than their own. Sorry but this stance is the wrong way to have any kind of constructive debate and is frankly the reason why the US and Iran have been at odds for so long.

    As for the election if you read my post again I did not discount the importance of the election. My point was everyone seems to fixate on it and the perceived notion it was correct. I have several problems with this:

    1) It assumes the election was free and the results valid
    2) It is largely based on Regime controlled information with no credible outside verification possible
    3) Completely ignores the fact Iran is a closed society and much more so today. I liken it to Egypt(while not as severe) when Mubarak got 99% of the vote. Essentially it was forgone conclusion
    4) Most importantly ignores the human rights violations the regime is employing to stay in power

    In all sincerity if the election was truly “free, open, and transparent” why do the following exist:

    1) For all intesive purposes Iran is a police state akin to old Soviet Block states(I’m Lithuanian and know a police state when I see it)
    2) Thousands still imprisoned
    3) Champions of womens and human rights contintually targeted and imprisoned
    4) Purges in full swing across the Universtites, military, and government
    5) The rapes and killings would have been a top story in any free society but by in Iran there is government mandated black out on them
    6) The pleas of most of the clerical establishment for restoring the rights guranteed in the constitution are still being ignored
    7) Much of the established journalist community under siege with many behind bars

    If Iran truly had a free and transparent election one would think they would have nothing to hide. Yet their actions to oppress and obscure the information is in itself the most damning evidence that something did not go right. So when people keep trying to prove the validity of election without addressing the human rights violations I am going to raise a stink because I smell a rat. By the way my best friends mother and brother still live in Iran. Both were paid a vist by the secret police and eventually detained. Netheir protested or were part of the Green Movement. There crime was that they had both worked for reform papers YEARS AGO.

    Thx
    Bill

  103. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Reza Esfandiari,

    Thank you for your reply. I have not read your report and will do so later tonight. Hopefully I will put a response together later tonight or tomorrow for you. In the interm I think it is quite presumptive to declare another individual “wrong” or other papers as “junk” because you don’t agree with their stance. Frankly the terminology you use seems to indicate your prone to dismissing a report or alternate view if it does not support your stance. I would also countenance your stance is indicative of the regimes in Iran’s solipsistic world view in which it only regards its truth as its own. Ironically this is also a view I think many neocons are afflicted with(mind you not claiming your a neocon by any stretch of the immagination. :) ) However, maybe it is out of frustration and I can understand that. God knows I do this myself at times!! I will get back to you shortly and all the best to you.

    Thx
    Bill

  104. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    I have read your article but frankly I need to look at it again to digest it. Once I do I will put a response together. I will say it was well done and you presented your points well. However, as mentioned, I need to look at it again to formulate a direct response. All the best to you.

    Thx
    Bill

  105. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    My apologies for belated reply.

    The only thing we moderate comments at EA is for offensive language and/or personal attacks on other posters. I am certain your comment fell into neither category so the non-appearance is probably due to it being caught up in spam filter (which can happen in error if there are links in the post).

    Because I was away much of today, I wasn’t able to catch this. If you re-post the comment (send a copy to EA e-mail as back-up), I’ll ensure this is not caught up in error again.

    Best,

    Scott

  106. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Kooshy,

    I am very sorry that I was unable to keep my promise and give a reply today. I had academic duties that ran from early afternoon until late this evening, so I had no opportunity to respond.

    I do look forward to continuing our conversation tomorrow.

    Scott

  107. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Dan Cooper,

    I view the atrocities committed by my own country and its allies with the same loathing as those committed by anyone else. When I think of the unspeakable acts of cruelty that have been done “in my name” as an American citizen, I feel deeply ashamed. I try to stay aware of what my government is up to, and speak out whenever I see it violating the principles it claims to stand for. I vote for candidates I think will uphold true American values and condemn rights abuses. I advocate that the abuses my government committed at Abu Ghraib and at any other sites anywhere in the world should be treated as war crimes, and I believe prosecution should not be delayed but should begin at once with those at the very top who authorized the conduct.

    It would be a mistake, though, to say that since both Iran and America have committed human rights abuses, both nations have the same level of personal freedom for citizens. Having the freedom to write what you wish, believe as you wish, associate and gather as you wish, these are precious. It matters when they are taken away. When you are not free to say what you really think, it’s like an iron bar driven through your heart. It weighs on you all the time. You cannot truly pursue happiness without being free to enjoy your inalienable rights.

    A country that does not have those rights at home, but that is pure as driven snow outside its borders, is still not a nice place to live. If I see citizens of a country like that fighting to get their rights, I feel it my duty to support them, speak out for them, and make sure the world hears their story, because that’s what I’d want them to do for me if our situations were reversed.

  108. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PAK.

    “I understand your position and your animosity towards the Green Movement. But, if you are a reformer, surely you should understand more than others the pressure put on your movement by the regime? Your own leaders and supporters are in prison because of their reformist agenda.”

    I do seek political reform – I want a new press law, a new elections law, an improvement in human rights, accountability of the security forces etc…

    In the past, the reform movement were morally in the right – I protested when many reformists were disqualified in 2004 – but this business of lying about the election result of 2009 and urging supporters to take to the streets to bring down the administration has created an intolerable situation where the government has had to react harshly.

    The reform movement needs to accept the result, and move on with a view to winning the municipal elections in 2011. And many reformists have been released from prison.. I hope that the rest can be pardoned as part of national reconciliation and normalization….that’s what I really want to see happen.

    I just angry when people talk of a “stolen election”: It insults the effoerts of 500,000 election workers and the 24m who voted for Ahmadinejad.

  109. kooshy says:

    Eric

    “On this website, Flynt, Hillary and Ben do not “moderate” comments”

    This is one major reason why I stick to this site, besides, majority of the commentators are knowledgeable with current Iranian and international affairs
    I also do agree that everyone most hesitate to profanity and vulgar language.

  110. Dan Cooper says:

    Rev. Magdalen

    Thank you for your post.

    I will reply in due course.

    In the meantime, I am interested to know your views about the violation of Human- Rights by USA and Israel, during the past 60 years.

  111. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Liz,

    Thank you for sharing your family’s experience with me. However, my question was not whether or not the issues of apostasy or change in governmental system are allowed to be debated at universities in Iran, though of course that’s good to hear.

    The question was, if you are an adult Muslim in Iran and you wake up one day and realize that you no longer believe in Islam or any religion, can you freely say so, and officially change your designation to “atheist”, then go on to publish writings teaching atheism and advocating atheism, along with advocating the elimination of veleyat-e faqih, with no fear of reprisal?

    The Western media has many stories indicating that apostasy is currently a crime in Iran under Sharia law, and that Ahmadinejad has sought to make it a civil crime as well, punishable by death. Is that untrue? Or is it true that apostasy is a crime under Sharia law, but Sharia courts have no power to imprison or punish anyone, so in practice people can do as they please? You would have no fear at all if your daughter did these things?

  112. kooshy says:

    Hello Scott

    My point for asking you the question (which so far you have chosen not to answer) that if you think there is a current propaganda war by western media aimed to demonize Iran was, that if you indeed think there is a propaganda war and the answer is YES, then there would be no merit to continue debating if the Iran’s elections were fair and just. The logic becomes what would exclude you from not being part of this said propaganda war. Questioning the Iranian elections, wouldn’t be a perfect tool for this propaganda war of demonization? I frankly did not think, that you will chose to respond to my question with a, NO, since you very well know that will discredit you entirely and you become irrelevant to any further discussion about Iran. So perhaps you decided to take the fifth instead to preserve your standing, since we are on the subject of Iran and Shih Islam this is similar to “Tghieh” that has been ridiculed in western press and academia.

    Good luck with your endeavor.

  113. Liz says:

    I must add that the hostility began with Scott Lucas. It was pretty awful the way he attacked the Leveretts after they did such a good job. In fact he was so obsessed that he did the same on the Charlie Rose website. lol

  114. Liz says:

    Rev:

    Your statement shows that you know little about Iran. Yes, in classes at universities such debates take place. My daughter recently finished her degree at Allameh Tabatabaee University.

  115. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott,

    Though I disagree with a great deal of what you write here, I think you’re doing a pretty good job of maintaining your civility, especially since you’ve been the focal point of attacks for about a week now. You’ve slipped a few times, but I can hardly claim to be innocent of that myself.

    Your efforts here have caused me to pay attention to your Enduring America website — an objective that you’ve frankly acknowledged at times. I’ve noticed one very important difference between this website and Enduring America:

    1. On this website, Flynt, Hillary and Ben do not “moderate” comments (though I’ll venture a guess that they wonder about that policy after seeing how far this discussion has digressed from their Charlie Rose interview). I’ve at times strongly disagreed with their position on certain matters, but my comments nonetheless get posted instantly (provided I remember not to include more than one link).

    2. On Enduring America, you “moderate” comments and, to be frank, I have some doubt that your criteria are free of bias.

    This suspicion arises from my personal experience on your website. Yesterday I posted a comment on your Wikileaks massacre piece (the one with the video). My comment included a link to a piece I’d written on the lamentable tendency in the US to sweep massacres under the rug and attack those who suggest they should be looked into. I focused principally on the Bob Kerrey/Thanh Phong incident, but also discussed Haditha. I consider what I wrote (especially my soap-boxing toward the end) to be highly relevant to your discussion of the Wikileaks massacre coverage. Neither my comment nor my linked piece included any profanity or other objectionable language.

    Nonetheless, it appears my comment has not survived the censor’s cut at Enduring America. Several comments posted considerably later than mine have appeared, but mine remains nowhere to be seen.

    Just to show you how easy it is on THIS website, Scott, I’m going to post a link to my rejected piece. If it doesn’t show up on this website within 5 seconds of when I click the “Submit Comment” button, I’ll promptly let you know. (To others on this site, I’ll warn you that my piece is off-topic — nothing to do with Iran):

    http://kerreythanhphong.blogspot.com/

  116. Kathleen says:

    Dear Pak. The neo cons pushing for a confrontation with Iran do not give a rats ass about human rights in Iran. Remember the U.S. overthrew a democratically elected leader in Iran

  117. Eric A. Brill says:

    Bill Davitt,

    Have you read my article?

    http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/

    I don’t anticipate it will change your mind on very much, but maybe on a few points. I’ll appreciate your comments.

  118. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Masoud, human rights have everything to do with how the US should deal with Iran, and with all other nations as well. In the past, for decades now, we’ve abandoned our Founders’ hard-won vision of ever-expanding liberty and human rights, and focused exclusively on destroying the USSR and gobbling up as much oil as possible. I know that. I’m sorry. If I could take it all back and do it over I would, but I can’t.

    All we can do is start from today, taking a stand, one issue at a time, to restore our nation to what our Founders wanted it to be. They would never have approved turning a blind eye to human rights abuses just to get some sort of precious fuel. In addition, as I’m sure you could relate in great detail, every time the USA has treated a human rights abuser like a favored nation, it’s ended up in disaster. It should have been obvious to us from the start that people who don’t believe in good governance also don’t believe in keeping deals and fostering a win/win business environment. They’re more into taking the money and running, and sometimes coming back to attack us with the very weapons we sold them.

    Human rights is central to the issue of how the USA interacts with Iran, because it’s time for us reassess our priorities as a nation. Do we really want oil so badly that we can ignore the cries of the Mourning Mothers, or ignore it if Isa Saharkiz starves to death in Evin? And do we really think that the same people who treat their own citizens this way will be completely honest and forthright in making deals with us?

    War is not the answer, but turning a blind eye to human rights abuse isn’t either. These things are crimes, and they ought to be treated as crimes, with no special privilege “I have oil” immunity card.

  119. masoud says:

    “If Scott Lucas is a troll, then what are you?”

    There is no “If”. Read his comment, he seems quite satisfied with himself. What am I? Merely someone responding to his repeated calls for “dialog”,”engagement” and “sources”, even though it is quite evident that he really doesn’t crave any of these things. As he himself details, his goal is sidetrack discussions of the “US government’s approach” and focus instead on “consideration of Iran”.

    He is offended that anyone anywhere would actually engage in practical discussions instead of issuing the garden variety, morally empty, condemnations and “analysis”(which over here means basking in the warm glow of those condemnations) of Iran’s theocracy, or military junta, or whatever it is the cool kids are calling it these days.

    Look, no one over here spams his blog, or the Huffington Post, or Powerline or daily Kos simply because we don’t approve of what they are discussing. Live and let live. If the flying monkeys want to grow up and contribute anything mildly relevant or marginally enlightening on the subject of how the US approaches Iran, I’ll be the first to welcome them with open arms. If they keep on pursuing their current course, then they are earning the mild abuse they receive.

    If you want to debate the relative merits of the IRI from an Iranian standpoint, i’d suggest doing so on Iranian forum in Farsi or at the very least one that explicitly caters to expats. What’s the point of doing it here? Human Rights has absolutely no consideration in US foreign policy, except that waxing poetic about it serves as some kind of strange masturbatory release for the US intelligentsia.

    Are you Iranian? Was Kavakabian really being ironic or sending secret persian signals? Has he shared anything at all in this forum, that was either true, or that everyone here did not already know?

  120. Rev. Magdalen says:

    “Iranian”,

    I have heard something about life in Iran, and being an ignorant Westerner, I of course don’t know whether or not it is Zionist propaganda. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me? My question is:

    Supposing you woke up tomorrow, and in your heart of hearts, for some reason you don’t even know, you just don’t believe in Allah anymore. Don’t believe in any divine being at all, just not feeling it. The belief is gone, and you are an atheist.

    And supposing, after having that realization, you then conclude that the system of veleyat-e faqih is not the best and most expedient system to provide for the welfare of the Iranian people.

    After coming to these conclusions, would you feel free to go online and set up a blog explaining your new views to your fellow Iranians, without any fear of losing your job or getting into any other kind of trouble? Could you go into a coffee shop and casually mention you’ve decided Islam isn’t true and you are now an atheist, and furthermore you advocate that the system of Islamic Jurisprudence be abandoned, without any negative consequences?

    I would seriously like a true answer to this question so if anyone else would like to answer too, please feel free.

  121. kooshy says:

    Iran: 3 jailed Americans linked to US intelligence

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100408/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_american_hikers

  122. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Elham,

    There was a time in America when the “will of the people” as expressed in law and enforced by authority was that people of a certain race had to be discriminated against and forbidden to attend the best universities, eat at the best tables in restaurants, ride in the front of a bus, etc. Interracial marriage was forbidden by law. The majority of the people at one point in time voted for those things. It was only through the hard work of a dedicated civil rights movement that the unjust situation was overturned.

    It is entirely possible for a majority to vote for things that violate the civil and human rights of a minority, it happens all the time. This is why nations have Constitutions that specify the rights that may not be transgressed, even if the majority wants to do so.

    Iran has a Constitution that gives citizens the right to peacefully assemble, print newspapers, and follow any religion they choose, yet these rights have been systematically denied to people on a chronic and ongoing basis with no signs of changing. I defy anyone to point to real signs of any sort of “evolution” towards restoring these constitutional rights. They’re not actually the sort of thing you can have a “little bit” of, with shades of grey. Either you can publish a newspaper saying any critical thing you want, and not get arrested or shut down, or you can’t.

    If you say people can have newspapers as long as they don’t print anything “insulting” to the leader or anything advocating a change in government systems (a perfectly legal and reasonable thing to advocate in a democracy), that’s not freedom of the press at all. It’s not an improvement over having no newspapers, it’s worse, because it allows people to create a false impression that freedom exists when it really doesn’t.

    People’s rights are not a little thing to be swept under the table. Protecting those rights is the whole point of having a government in the first place. There is no comparison between the West and Iran; if any American politician tried to shut down a newspaper for insulting him, he’d be laughed out of the courtroom. In Iran, the most basic freedoms are denied to citizens. That is not what the ’79 Revolution aspired to create, and if the people of Iran are not satisfied with their current government, they have every right to change it.

  123. Pak says:

    Dear Reza,

    I understand your position and your animosity towards the Green Movement. But, if you are a reformer, surely you should understand more than others the pressure put on your movement by the regime? Your own leaders and supporters are in prison because of their reformist agenda.

    The regime has shown it will violently crush any attempt to reform the system through legal and constitutionally sanctioned means. Therefore, the Green Movement is an evolved version of the reformist movement. It will use civil disobedience to eventually have its voice heard by the regime. If you believe that civil disobedience is akin to “causing trouble”, then the 1979 revolution was one massive riot, with streets full of infidels and foreign backed agents causing damage and overthrowing a legitimate regime (legitimate according to the Shah’s “official reports”).

    Dear Masoud,

    If Scott Lucas is a troll, then what are you? Scott is a very busy man yet he has the time to return to the forum and respond to your questions. Is that some kind of sin? Would you prefer him to ignore his opinions, shut up and agree with you? That sounds very similar to the regime’s philosophy.

    Dear Others,

    The Iran dilemma is Iranian. It has nothing to do with the United States, Israel or the west. Human rights abuses occur everywhere; that does not justify human rights abuses in Iran. We have fought for over 100 years to eradicate tyranny from our soil yet tyranny still exists and is accelerating. International politics is a dirty game; the regime is very good at it indeed. The regime is not the innocent little child being bullied by the older boys and nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify their cruel, medieval actions. The regime is undemocratic, extremist and corrupt. If you are so wooed by the election result statistics you should also take a long, hard look at the economic statistics, the reports of corruption and of course the human rights abuses. We must work together to improve our nation by bringing real representation, tolerance and basic human rights. History will judge those who stand in our way.

    Dear Leveretts,

    I commend your efforts to promote engagement. However, turning a blind eye to the tyranny that exists in Iran is a fatal mistake and will be detrimental to the progression of Iranian politics. Engagement should be promoted on the basis that it will empower the people and erode the oppressive grip of the regime.

  124. kooshy says:

    Hi Scott don’t forget me

    kooshy says:
    April 6, 2010 at 9:38 pm
    Scott,
    Good morning, I hope all is well there in London
    As an informed scholar of Iranian current events, I just wanted to ask you, one question, if you chose to answer.
    My question is, do you believe, the western and like-minded media is currently conducting a propaganda war directed against Iran?
    If the answer is yes, than how is done, for what goal, and for what result. I really appreciate your insight on this subject.

    Scott Lucas says:
    April 7, 2010 at 7:59 am
    Salam Kooshy,
    Thank you for your question. It has been a very busy news day between developments on the Iraq video, the US nuclear review, Afghanistan events, and the latest from Iran, so it may be this evening before I have a chance to respond.
    Best wishes,
    Scott

  125. Elham says:

    It seems that the debate is winding down, so I thought maybe I should light up another fire… :-)

    But seriously, I think that we should accept the will of the Iranian people and accept the results of the election, unless the opposite is proven. Human rights violations are being carried out on a regular basis, by the United States and its western allies, so it is not acceptable to many Iranians for westerners to preach about such issues and to call on their “civilized” governments to put pressure on Iran. The recent video of an attack on Iraqi civilians was very painful for many of us to watch and God knows how many thousands of such videos exist in US military files.

    I also think that we should all focus on preventing the situation in the Persian Gulf from deteriorating and call upon the US government to be more reasonable.

  126. masoud says:

    “for days, the agenda on Race for Iran has shifted from the one set by the Leveretts — set aside any consideration of Iran; focus only on the US Government’s approach — to one set by this discussion amongst readers. The two later pieces of the Leveretts have faded”
    -Scott Lucas on his own blog, bragging about what an effective troll he is.
    http://enduringamerica.com/2010/04/05/the-latest-from-iran-5-april-repression/#comments

    I have to admit though Scott, you got me on that last response. Here I thought I had thought of every possible you could weasel your way out of the position you took, and had tried to preempt you, even though you sensed the danger and quite understandably remained silent on the issue of Kavakabian’s credibility in the reformist movement. “Irony” is something i did not expect. I tip my hat to you.

    But come on, tell us, is it 1 or 2? “Persian Signals” or “Irony”?Maybe your claims themselves were meant to be Ironic? Or maybe your entire post was some kind of contradictory “Troll Signal” to the other flying monkeys on this thread that you really don’t know what your talking about and it’s time to shift the focus again from “election legitimacy claims” to “human rights abuses”.

    Here is a homework project for you Scott, why don’t you write to your buddy Marandi, and ask him what the proper interpretations of both the Tabesh and Kavakabian passage is, and report back? This really isn’t the forum for Farsi lessons, even if you were being serious.

    But seriously guys, please stop feeding the trolls. If this last episode doesn’t prove the world these guys live in has nothing to do with objective reality nothing will.

    Masoud

  127. Dan Cooper says:

    Israel had to openly humiliate the US as a show of its power.

    Given Israel’s strategic domination of the US political system and the Zionist Power Configuration(ZPC) control over mass media and their enormous wealth, a Zionist-controlled administration, like Obama’s, would have to capitulate.

    Israeli and US Zionist pressure forced the American leaders to subordinate their international image and national self-respect and accept the unlimited expansion of Jews-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, no matter how this might undermine US standing in the region and jeopardize US troops.

    By ‘whipping’ the Obama Administration into line, Israel has set the stage for the launching of its top priority: Forcing a direct US military confrontation with Iran in Israel’s strategic interests.

    It is clear that the entire ZPC will stand with Israel as it promotes its militarist agenda against Iran, regardless of the consequences to the United States.

    It has been proven beyond a doubt by the recent events, that the ZPC has the ultimate say with the Obama Administration, against the advice of top US military officials and against the basic interests of the American people.

    In plain English, we are a people colonized and directed by a small, extremist and militarist ‘ally’ which operates through domestic proxies, who, under any other circumstance, would be openly denounced as traitors.

    Can the ZPC be defeated? They are the “most powerful lobby in Washington”, to whom Presidents, Administration officials, Generals and Congress people must submit or risk having their careers ruined and being ousted from public office.

    Meanwhile,outside of the United States, the international community openly despises Israel as a brutal, racist colonial state, a war criminal and chronic violator of human rights and international law.

    The Middle East Quartet, made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, has condemned Israel’s plan to build another 1,600 homes exclusively for Jewish extremist settlers in Arab East Jerusalem.

    The Quartet demanded “the speedy creation of a Palestinian state and the end to provocative actions”. But the ‘Quartet’ is powerless to stop Israeli plans.

    The Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations tell their followers that global “anti-Semitism” motivates the ‘Quartet’. The huge AIPAC “Hail Israel” Conference in Washington D.C. in late March celebrated the triumph of unfettered Israeli expansionism.

    Nevertheless, some Israelis are beginning to express unease.

    After their initial euphoria over Netanyahu’s slap-down of Biden and face-up to Clinton, there is growing fear of Israeli being ‘weaned’ away from the American treasury and losing their unfettered access to the US latest military technology.

    A poll published on March 19 in Yedroth Ahronoth, one of Israel’s biggest dailies, revealed that 46% of their readers responded that the government should freeze settlement building in East Jerusalem, much to the chagrin of the US Israel Firsters, who might in other circumstances, have labeled these Jews anti-Semites.

    Fissures in the Zionist monolith are beginning to appear.

    These would deepen if and when the American public realizes that Israel’s’ dispossession of Palestinians is raising havoc with American lives and with American interests in a vital part of the world populated by 1.5 billion Muslim.

    As more issues arise, the critical choice between following the lead of the ZPC in pledging unconditional allegiance to Israel and enduring its provocations and humiliations, or standing up for the dignity, basic interests and integrity of America, will have to be made.

    More fissures will appear and the AIPAC and other members of the ZPC will be seen for what they are: Swaggering bullies acting on behalf of a foreign power.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25162.htm

  128. Dan Cooper says:

    Iran is demonized as ‘the enemy’ by Israeli agents within the US because Tehran opposes Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

    Israel’s Fifth Column churns out hundreds of articles a month demanding brutal economic sanctions against Iran and a pre-emptive military blitz aimed at destroying the Iranian economy and a nation of over 70 million.

    Every US military commander in the Middle East has acknowledged that an attack on Iran will expand the war, cut vital shipping of oil in the Persian Gulf plunging the world economy into recession, and threaten the lives of scores of thousands of American soldiers.

    They also are aware that the prospect of thousands of American casualties would not deter the 51 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, the AIPAC-controlled US Congress members, or the likes of Undersecretary of Treasury Stuart Levey from promoting or provoking a war with Iran.

    The leading Israel-First advocates for war with Iran are unconcerned with the inevitable thousands of US military casualties and the millions of American jobs lost, as they promote the expansion and supremacy of “Greater Israel” in all its arrogance and glory throughout the Middle East.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25162.htm

  129. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PAK

    “I know around 100 Iranian men and women who support either the Green Movement or its general principles. I am one of them and spend the majority of my time in discussion with them. None of them live in the United States and none of them have ever mentioned the United States. Most of them can’t even speak English. Are you telling me they have all been deceived? They have all been “deceived” into wanting an improvement of current conditions in Iran?”

    Let’s get this clear. The Green movement hijacked the legitimate reform movement that issupported by up to 40% of Iranians. It turned a movement for greater civil rights into one of civil disruption and disobedience. The people who came out on the streets on June 15th 2009 were deceived by Mousavi into believing their votes had been stolen.

    The Green movement has no goals other than causing trouble in society …the Reform movement, however, has been persevering for over a decade and has contributed to Iran’s political evolution.

  130. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I don’t know where you got that from, but it was an insult to me as an Iranian and it shows that you think like orientalists do.

    The Leveretts are fighting a difficult battle during some very dangerous times and you should commend them not attack them.

  131. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Tom Milstein: First, I’ve got to acknowledge, I am opposed to the zionist ideology, and have spent too much time reading about it; that means I have to make a deliberate effort to maintain reasonable balance. I don’t much care for Israel and I’m among those who think that Israel lobby has too much influence over US policy, and that Israeli influence has caused harm to US interests. I also confess I’m an Iranophile: I find the country and the people extraordinarily beautiful. I also have a tendency to root for the underdog, and the demonization of Iran sends up red flags: WHY do people feel compelled to lie about Iran? That’s my disclosure of my biases.

    Nevertheless, you make several very good points:

    You wrote:

    “Netanyahu certainly makes a lot of noise on this issue … but objective factors suggest that the Saudis have a great deal more to lose from an opening to Iran.

    Israel’s worst case scenario — Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons — would be no worse for them than was China’s nuclear capability for the U.S., as the Leveretts have pointed out. M.A.D.-based deterrence would still rule in the region.

    But Israel has nothing to compare with the Saudi vulnerabilities.”

    Israel labels its “vulnerabilities” vis-a-vis Iran in existential terms: “a nuclear armed Iran will cause Jews to LEAVE Israel,” says Ephraim Sneh; an ascendant Iran threatens Israel’s sense of its preeminent westernizing role in region, says Ian Lustick of U Penn; Israelis need to wage war on Iran to relieve the psychological tension created in Israeli society by constant reference to holocaust; victimization is part of Israeli identity; to remind Israel that holocaust is over is to destabilize core of Israeli identity.

    Israel also has significant financial incentives to seek to dominate Iran, or to displace Iran from taking a large chunk of the competitive environment in the region: Israel benefitted greatly from Iranian-origin revenue streams (oil, arms) from the early 1950s until the late 1980s. In the late 1980s, as arming Iran to fight Iraq was winding down and the Iranian oil taps were closed to Israel, the Jewish state faced an economic slump, coincident with arrival of hundreds of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants. Eventually, those Russian immigrants formed the core or Israel’s current technological & bio-pharmaceutical economic powerhouse. Israelis know that won’t last forever, and Israeli leaders — led by Dennis Ross — are already planning for Israel’s economic future: alliance with and investment in China. The dollar value of US – Israel relations may be small from the US perspective compared to US need for Saudi oil, but it is 100% from Israel’s standpoint.

    Finally, as to why Israel grabs more attention that SA, several reasons: Israel has an unmonitored nuclear arsenal that it has used to blackmail enemies as well as allies; Israel has a real-time history of deploying heinously deadly force with complete moral abandon; US taxpayers and US administration support, enable, and finance Israel in these vicious undertakings.

    Saudi Arabia treats its own people abominably, but to my knowledge SA does not have expansionist visions, and the “Saudi” lobby does not deploy operatives to sway US elections and meddle with US domestic politics; Israel lobby does.

    Tom Milstein wrote:

    “The Saudis uphold the scepter of Sunni hegemony within Islam; they are the Guardians of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina; and they manage the international oil cartel. The Khomeini Revolution, from its very inception, has posed a mortal threat to the House of Saud, and has been so viewed by them.

    This last feature — kingpins of the most lucrative monopoly in the history of the world — is what confers upon them an enormous political influence. It is the real “elephant in the room” of American foreign policy, notwithstanding the preference for exposes of Zionism by those with a penchant for easy targets.”

    These are powerful point, and well taken. I would add one other point, one that I cannot quantify or even verify — it’s just a hunch, based on patterns: It is my hunch that Saudi Arabia pulled out of the US stock market in a serious way, sending US pensioners into a frenzy of fear and wiping out paper fortunes. I suspect SA and other Arab states can do much the same in the future. That gives Arab states enormous leverage over US policymakers. SA has been whining for some time that “oil is running out,” and with it, SA’s leverage over the West. But finance trades on air in an empty box; it is an unlimited commodity.

    otoh, Bankers in the US have similar reins over US political power. The bankers want access to Iran’s economy: “predatory capitalism NEEDS to expand.” Iran’s self-contained — or worse, Iran’s financial system allied with Arabian wealth — can sink the US and western economies.

    Lots of Clintonians in Obama’s administration; Clintonians are the great triangulators: Petraeus/DoD and MIC are selling all the weapons they can to Saudi Arabia, flagellating Arabs with “fear” of “nuclear Iran.” Is US doing this because “the President is… obviously constrained by the SAUDI lobby?”

    “My question remains: how can a President so obviously constrained by the Saudi lobby — but no longer the Israel lobby, as recent events amply demonstrate — come to the Iranian table with clean hands?”

    I’m afraid it’s not yet “obvious” to me that the President is “so obviously constrained by the Saudi lobby.” Influenced, yes; triangulating SA against Iran? Indeed. But to my mind, Israel is the elephant in the room.

    Erdogan thinks so too.
    So does Bashir.

  132. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    “The Persian way of giving political signals to the rivalling faction, while making clear one’s own positions….”

    The sentence comes from an Iranian, not from me. Cheers…

    Scott

  133. Iranian says:

    The fact is that there is no evidence of fraud (and you know it), tens of million of people went to the streets to condemn the greens (and you know it), mainstream reformists in Iran accept the results (and you know it), 11 polls taken by different institutes both before and after the elections are in line with the election results (and you know it), Iran’s human rights record is better than all the other countries in the region (and you know it), the greens and their western supporters tried to overthrow the legitimate government through deceit and violence and they must bear responsibility (and you know it), and if Scott Lucas really cared about the human rights of all human beings he would be spending all his time attacking Obama for the crimes being carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza today. The recently leaked footage and Obama’s silence is sickening.

    What the Leveretts are doing is that they are trying to ease tensions between the two countries by telling American officials the truth that they don’t want to hear. The interview, which went very well, made Scott Lucas and his green people very angry and…go and read his rantings for yourself.

  134. Iranian says:

    The last sentence was the sort of thing that you see in Orientalist texts such as that of Bernard Lewis.

  135. Iranian says:

    Pak:

    Regardless of the fact that they have a lot more knowledge and experience in the field than Scott Lucas does, The Leveretts do not make the absurd claims Scott Lucas does. One obsurd example is the sentence: “The Persian way of giving political signals to the rivalling faction, while making clear one’s own positions… Hillary Mann Leverett apparently speaks Arabic which is significant in its own way and it gives her access to a great deal of material on Iran, Lebanon, Iraq,…which simply doesn’t exist in English. They have actually traveled to Iran after the elections and have spoken to a diverse set of people. Unlike Scott Lucas they have not surrounded themselves with a small group of like minded of people who are not after facts, but rather who have an agenda.

    The Persian way of giving political signals to the rivalling faction, while making clear one’s own positions.

  136. Pak says:

    “The Green movement, orange revolution, tulip revolution are all part of the same axis of evil – originating in Langley, Virgina.

    Most of us here can see right through of it.”

    Dear Reza,

    I know around 100 Iranian men and women who support either the Green Movement or its general principles. I am one of them and spend the majority of my time in discussion with them. None of them live in the United States and none of them have ever mentioned the United States. Most of them can’t even speak English. Are you telling me they have all been deceived? They have all been “deceived” into wanting an improvement of current conditions in Iran?

    My friend, I believe it is you who has been deceived by the regime because it is you who is blinded and cannot see the disaster that this regime has become, so please don’t say. You may have some shady election statistics; well I have a pile of economic statistics and Iranian human rights statistics, though I am sure you’re too blinded by hatred to care.

    Do all the talking and be as unrepentant as you want, but history will be the ultimate judge. Good luck!

  137. Pak says:

    The Leveretts are illiterate in Persian. Their arguments are irrelevant. Therefore, anybody supporting their cause is also irrelevant.

    It’s so much easier arguing without logic! No wonder there are so many lemmings here.

  138. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    With the situation clarifying, we should have an analysis soon — a correspondent is working on it but — with respect to “The Green movement, orange revolution, tulip revolution are all part of the same axis of evil – originating in Langley, Virgina.” —- I think one point may be that events in Bishkek, given the economic and political concerns of the Kyrgyz people, may be beyond the control or significant influence of an “axis of evil”, from wherever it originates.

    Scott

  139. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    I just loved the US response to the crisis in Central Asia.

    The US national security council spokesman, Mike Hammer, said yesterday: “We are monitoring the situation closely. We are concerned about reports of violence and looting and call on all parties to refrain from violence and exercise restraint.”

    In other words, the US is condemning the rioters amongst the demonstrators who have ousted “their man” in Bishkek.

    The Green movement, orange revolution, tulip revolution are all part of the same axis of evil – originating in Langley, Virgina.

    Most of us here can see right through of it.

  140. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    I should add, with respect that your assertion, “Much more disturbing is your weak response to US crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan”, shows little or no cognizance of what I have written over the last nine years.

    Scott

  141. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    “Kavakebian, Tabesh, Akhoundi, Khabbaz, and others have been clear in there statements.”

    Repetition is not argument, especially when it’s a repetition that wilfully ignores 1) the specific points put regarding the Kavakebian and Tabesh; 2) the lack of evidence put forward to discuss the other assertions.

    I think at that point we can suspend the discussion and agree to disagree.

    Scott

  142. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Forgive me, but there’s not much of a point in your post, merely an assumption that the West is pro-Bakiyev and thus not condemning the events.

    In fact, the first call for “domestic stability” — a stability which presumably would have been to limit the protests against a sitting Government — came from Tehran. That is not to excuse “the West”, just to point out your rather sweeping framework.

    As for your initial declaration that all would just look at Tehran and look away from Bishkek, well, I think EA’s coverage of developments — thanks to the excellent overnight work of Josh Shahryar — takes care of the “look at Bishkek, stop looking at Tehran” line.

    Best,

    Scott

  143. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @BILL DAVIT

    “Not one credible statistical analysis has been able to explain the anomalies and disparities from the 2005 to 2009 elections. ”

    WRONG…..you didn’t read my report.

    http://www.wepapers.com/Papers/52959/Report_on_the_Iranian_presidential_election_2009

    Read it and then tell me that I didn’t debunk the junk of the Chatham House paper.

  144. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    There is no debate. Kavakebian, Tabesh, Akhoundi, Khabbaz, and others have been clear in there statements. If you are illiterate in Persian, then you should stick to discussions on the United States. Regarding the events that have been taking place in Central Asia over the last few days there is a clear difference in the way you portray them. However, much more disturbing is your weak response to US crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Contrary to what you said earlier, you have a lot more in common with John Bolton than you may think.

  145. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    You didn’t address my points, did you?

    You did mention the uprising on your blog, but apparently an amateur youtube video from Iran is deemed to have more relevance.

    Btw, do you know any Persian beyond “salam”?

  146. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    You will note that 1 of the 2 analyses takes Kavakebian’s statements at face value and does not argue they were ironic. If we are to have a productive discussion, please address the interpretations directly.

    And I am sorry but Kavakebian is the only case which comes close to an acceptance of the election which has been established in this discussion, not “a number of leading reformists”. I would be happy to address any other substantiated case.

    Scott

  147. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    40-100 people were killed yesterday and up to 400 injured in Bishkek in clashes between demonstrators and police.

    There are some shocking photos of the violence:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1264307/Kyrgyzstan-President-Kurmanbek-Bakiyev-flees-country-bloody-revolution.html

    When 7 people died in the Ashura riots of last December in Tehran,where the Mojahedeen e Khalq claimed to have been involved, the Western media condemned the Iranian government as “bloodthirsty”.

    But since Bakiyev was installed by the West as part of the “Tulip Revolution”, there is no condemnation, only “concern” is offered.

    This is the utter hypocrisy and double standards that most of us are sick to death with.

  148. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Again you are being dishonest. I have seen the debate and there was no irony in the statements. Who are your experts? Can you name them? Do you speak Persian? You twist the truth in a pretty shameless way. Nevertheless, evidence has been provided here that a number of leading reformist have stated specifically said that the election results were completely valid. There is a lot more evidence out there, but you are not so important that for me to waste so much time on you and your twisted logic prevents you from being reasonable any way. :-)

  149. Iranian@Iran says:

    Bill Davit:

    The problem is that you and Scott Lucas know very little about Iran. What you have written is basically a caricature of the reality in the country, whether you like it or not. Also the validity of the election results are extremely important. It shows that people like Scott Lucas were completely wrong and that it is the greens and their supporters who bear ultimate responsibility for their violent actions and their futile attempt to overthrow a popularly elected government.
    I have seen his website and I’m not impressed. His coverage of the events in Kyrgyzstan as well as his tone regarding the Obama regime and Obama’s disgusting silence regarding the leaked footage on Iraq, reveals his world view, his double standards, and shows that his concern for human rights is not something that I can believe.

  150. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Liz,

    I continue to look forward to your response to my dissection of the claim regarding Tabesh.

    Scott

  151. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Masoud,

    As “trolling” appears to be Masoud-speak for “asking for information, providing a challenging response, offering analysis, questioning gaps in logic and exaggerations in claims, and encouraging dialogue”….

    I thank you.

    I thank you also for finally providing the 2nd source for the claim on Kavakebian. I won’t trifle with the note that it is not a 2nd source for the claim made by Fars, but deal with this on its merits.

    Before responding, I checked with other specialists on Iran to discuss the claims. Two analyses emerge

    ANALYSIS 1

    Kavakebian accepts in fact that the elections were not rigged. “I said before, with this system, with this nezam and this Supreme Leaderthere cannot be riggings. And the protests of 25 Khordad [15 June] were wrong, after all we all participated in it [the election], and we knew the rules of the game before [i.e. that it might not be a completely fair process]. If there were riggings, I would not have been elected. BUT a news agency like IRIB, attached to Government shouldn’t say Ahmadinejad won 63%, and then Elham [as a member of the Guardian Council] shouldn’t have talked [before the election in favour of Ahamadinejad]….

    For the next elections interior ministry must make new laws to prevent this. But we must see both sides….Both sides have committed faults, but we cannot exclude all others [Moussavi, Karroubi, Khatami etc.] by claiming they are attached to the USA”

    In short, a sort of bargaining to arrive at a certain compromise between the two factions deeply opposed to each other. This time everything was OK [with the elections], but next time we should do it better ;-)

    The Persian way of giving political signals to the rivalling faction, while making clear one’s own positions.

    ANALYSIS 2

    Kavekebian states (rather ironically) that he does not doubt that rigging did not take place in the elections, given the SL-supervision mechanism in place, but he claims that the Guardian Council was heavily on the side of Ahmadinejad before the elections and states that Elham, a member of the GC, actually took part in a pre-election AN campaign speech, break impartiality rules. Kavekebian’s statement is ironic, and once again, he is small fry.

    This last point should be emphasised — almost all of the top reformists continue to stand against the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad Government. It should also be remembered that MPs were cherry-picked by the Guardian Council in 2008. The most docile/tame ones went past the veto, the more noisy ones were all blocked by the GC.

    SUMMARY

    The claim of “all major reformists” endorsing the election has now, after days, come down to 1 reformist — not in the top ranks — making a statement which is, in 1 view, driven by a search for compromise and hedged with conditions and, in another view, being expressed with more than a touch of sarcasm.

    Even leaping to the view of many here that Kavakebian is very happy with the 2009 election, this is little more than a footnote to the continuing challenge by reformists and the opposition — if and when figures like Arab Sorkhi, Abtahi, Aminzadeh, Tajzadeh, Beheshti, Mousavi, Karroubi, Ebrahim Yazdi, Ramezandedeh come out and state clear support for the elections and a legitimate Government, then you may have a case which is more than a thin, feel-good rationale for Victory, both then and now.

    Best,

    Scott

  152. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    Liz,

    Scott and Chris abusive? Frankly it has been you that has been abusive. Your posts have been nothing but cheerleading for the other side, with absolutely no substance behind them, and laced with attacks. Even after Scott’s credentials were provided you continued the attack. Why? Is it so hard for you to accept another individual has a different world view? Instead were all neocons, Zionists, and imperialists bent on world domination–right? Maybe for a change why not check out his blog to find out what Scott is all about. Somehow I don’t think you will because that would entail too much work and god forbid you might find your wrong about him.

    Thx
    Bill

  153. Bill Davit (Scott Lucas' biggest fan) says:

    I am quite amazed that the focus of this discussion has been myopically focused on the validity of the election. It seems to me that many, excluding Scott and gang, have completely missed the gross human rights violations before and after the election. It would also seem in the efforts of “engagement” the Leveretts have chosen to also ignore this. Ironically I liken this to the US administrations ambivalence toward two of the world’s worst human right abusers, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in its effort to maintain “control and stability” in the region. Having said that here are some facts on recent events in Iran to digest:

    1) Thousands remain illegally in prison in direct violation of the constitution. In a few cases some of the most prominent detainees found out their warrants were issued prior to the election

    2) 72 and most likely hundreds more are dead and buried lost to their families forever

    3) The regime will continue to intimidate, beat, and rape its way into staying in power

    4) Iran today is the preeminent jailer of journalists and bloggers in the world having more behind bars than most of the world combined

    5) The regime will continue to “privatize” industry making sure select government entities namely the IRGC and Bonyads will control the economy

    6) Big brother will further its surveillance and censorship of all. Note it was the IRGC that acquired Iran’s largest telephone and internet provider recently

    7) The regime will continue to ignore the bulk of the clerics including all the Grand Ayatollahs who came out in favor of the Green Movement

    8) The universities and government will continue to be purged of those to “liberal” and not in line with the regime

    9) Thousands of “starred” students will be kept from attending university because of their political affiliation

    10) The brain drain will continue in Iran as the best and brightest will find their way to freedom outside the country

    11) The elections were never fair from the beginning because anyone with knowledge of the process will be quite aware it was a selection. Democracy is simply used as a veneer to fool the people and the world into thinking it was truly “free”

    12) Not one credible statistical analysis has been able to explain the anomalies and disparities from the 2005 to 2009 elections. Nor have they been able to specifically explain how Ahmadinejad carried votes is such greater quantity than he did before. From a statistical standpoint based on trend analysis it is highly unlikely to have been possible. Please read the Chattam House statistical analysis for some perspective: http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/14234_iranelection0609.pdf

    13) Numerous papers, news organizations, and blogs have been shut down. Those that remain open now have minders

    14) The regime continues to blame outside sources without providing any tangible evidence. They continue this charade despite the fact the majority of the Western world was caught by surprise when the protests broke out. The regime has even gone as far as to coerce statements from detainees to air to the world in an effort to “manufacture” evidence supporting this claim. Even this evidence is again only a claim with nothing tangible backing it up

    15) In a fit to show the world its legitimacy the regime had to manufacture one successful rally after they failed several times. Note the Green Movement rallies were largely spontaneous and done under the cloud of heavy regime oppression. Just imagine how many would protest if they were not met by a harsh crackdown. Now ask yourself how many of the pro regime rally would show knowing they risked arrest, beatings, and the possibility of rape

    16) Specifically the rights of religious minorities and women have gotten even worse. The unrest ironically provided the regime the cover to further crack down on these groups. The Bahais have been hit especially hard

    The fact so many seem to miss is the green movement is first and foremost a human rights movement. The election was only the catalyst for a fire waiting to ignite after decades of oppression. At the end of the day how can anyone trust a government that literally “eats its own” to stay in power. While I applaud the Leveretts actions I think it’s a bit misguided to ignore the human rights violations in the spirit of engagement. Would you honestly trust the other party when they are violating the rights of its citizens enshrined in its very own constitution? I can’t and it is folly to engage with a regime that places a higher value on the system than the people. For some perspective of what the regime thinks of its people here is Ahmadinejad’s spiritual advisors, Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, take on the people: “It doesn’t matter what the people think. The people are ignorant sheep.”

    At the end of the day, regardless of the veracity of the election, it is important to understand the true motive of Green Movement is simply all about human rights nothing else. They want a fair shake and the litany of rights abuses clearly demonstrates they are not a dead movement but very viable. After all if the Green Movement was dead why would the regime still have thousands imprisoned, purges ongoing, and heavy censorship?

    “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” Thomas Jefferson

  154. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas and his raging friend ChrisE have been very abusive towards the Leveretts and others from their first posts on this thread. We have all tolerated them and argued with them, even though they have not been honest or objective. Some people are not used to people giving powerful and reasonable responses to western propaganda and one sided views and this angers you.

  155. Rev. Magdalen says:

    I am frankly shocked at the rude behavior of some of the users on this forum. Even though I deeply disagree with much of the Leveretts’ analysis, I have never seen them engage in this type of impolite behavior, and I’m sure it pains them to see visitors to their website behaving in that fashion. There is no need to call people names or accuse them of having bad intentions simply because they disagree with you. Civil debate is good for society, but name calling just makes a website look like a place that’s not worth spending time at.

  156. Liz says:

    Thank you Masoud! That is the one I saw! Scott Lucas, being the dishonest person who he is, though, will make up some new excuse.

  157. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Sorry, but people have things to do. They don’t have the time to search for for all the evidence just to convince you. If you knew Persian, you could have done your own searches, but you don’t know any Persian do you (and you call yourself an expert on Iran!)? each time they provided evidence, you were surprised and then you tried to find excuses. Many of the reformists have said the same thing on televised debates. I remember watching two, personally. Khabbaz said it on a Friday afternoon a couple of months ago in a debate with another MP on the news channel (which you can easily watch in the US and UK). On another occassion Kavakebian was debating Shariatmadari on another channel. However, I didn’t jot down the dates or times, because I didn’t think I would be discussing things with such a mule headed person. You have nothing to say.

  158. masoud says:

    Well, I thought so. The silent treatment. Doesn’t look like Scott wants to play anymore.I think we know what your answers to my questions would be if you were being honest anyway.

    Just as well, I can’t take the suspense. My source is none other than Kavakabian himself, in a debate opposite Shariatmadari broadcast on national TV:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/mosayeb1#p/u/12/eD2o9z75DLU

    Check time index 7:05. I’d translate it for you but you won’t believe it until you hear it from your own people.

    All hope is not lost though, you can always argue he was pressured to say what he said, or at least that we can’t rule out the possibility, him being in Iran and all. We probably won’t ever get a straight answer out of him until he ‘defects’ to some Western nation and is ‘debriefed’ by Western ‘intelligence experts’, the results of which will be ‘leaked’ to ‘reputable newspapers’ and echoed by outfits like EA.

    Or you could just as easily ignore him, and try to minimize his significance, as compared to ‘reformist leaders’ which seems to be how you place Mousavi. Either way I suppose you’ll have ample grounds to justify continued trolling.

    Oh, and if you are going to be a troll, it’s just plain stupid to direct your targets to your own forum were you brag about how effective your trolling has been.

  159. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @KOOSHY

    As they say in America, SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS….thus always to tyrants.

    I hope the CIA learns some lessons in promoting revolutions in other parts of the world.

    Of course, the one color they will never support is “RED”.

  160. masoud says:

    Come on now Sott,
    I offered you a kavakabian reference, all you need to do is answer the questions:

    How was my characterization of your position on Fars’ credibility on this issue inaccurate?

    How credible is Kavakabian? Would his skepticism regarding these charges be about as important as his supposed support for these charges? If no, why is this issue important, if yes how would you go about reevaluating your impression of the charges made?

  161. kooshy says:

    Upheaval in Kyrgyzstan as Leader Flees

    Another of the color revolutions goes down the tube?

    Someone is going to lose job, Richard, Dennis, I guess we will have to wait

  162. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza, we’ll have a round-up of the situation in Kyrgyzstan in the morning when the situation has clarified.

    Meanwhile, here is the Iran Government’s position:

    “Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday that Iran
    ‘wants the immediate restoration of domestic stability’ in Kyrgyzstan and the prevention of the spread of insecurity to this sensitive region of Central Asia.

    Kooshy, haven’t forgotten your question and will reply tomorrow.

  163. Scott Lucas says:

    (corrected)

    Salam to all,

    So let me get this right. From the claim that “all major reformists” now accept the election as legitimate, the following has been presented:

    1. A claim from Fars of a Kavakebian statement for which there is no corroborating source.

    2. A claim of a Tabesh statement from Tabnak in which…

    A. Tabnak did not actually interview Tabesh but is quoting second-hand from an interview Tabesh supposedly had with Jahan, an interview which was never mentioned by Tabesh’s Parleman News.

    B. A reader pulls out the line “”We do not accept the line concerning fraud, the way it was portrayed so far”, which is not say as saying “no fraud at all” but that Tabesh differs from the specific claims made by (unnamed) others.

    C. And ignores everything else in the article, including Tabesh’s references to “election doping” by Ahmadinejad.

    And that’s it. Two reformists who aren’t even amongst the leading players in the Parliament or outside it (do Mousavi, Karroubi, Nabavi, ArabSorkhi, Tajzadeh accept the election?), one whose statement isn’t established, the other whose statement is taken out of context and distorted.

    And you call me “stubborn”? Y’all would shame a mule with this dogged defence of the non-existent and unreliable.

    Later!

    Scott

    And you

  164. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam to all,

    So let me get this right. From the claim that “all major reformists” now accept the election as legitimate, the following has been presented:

    1. A claim from Fars of a Kavakebian statement for which there is no corroborating source.

    2. A claim of a Tabesh statement from Tabnak in which…

    A. Tabnak did not actually interview Tabesh but is quoting second-hand from an interview Tabesh supposedly had with Jahan, an interview which was never mentioned by Tabesh’s Parleman News.

    B. A reader pulls out the line “”We do not accept the line concerning fraud, the way it was portrayed so far”, which is not say as saying “no fraud at all” but that Tabesh differs from the specific claims made by (unnamed) others.

    And you call me “stubborn”? Y’all would shame a mule with this dogged defence of the non-existent and unreliable.

    Later!

    Scott

    C. And ignores everything else in the article, including Tabesh’s references to “election doping” by Ahmadinejad.

    And that’s it. Two reformists who aren’t even amongst the leading players in the Parliament or outside it (do Mousavi, Karroubi, Nabavi, ArabSorkhi, Tajzadeh accept the election?), one whose statement isn’t established, the other whose statement is taken out of context and distorted.

    And you

  165. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @IRANIAN

    Lucas is having a bad week with videos showing US forces killing journalists in
    Iraq and US-backed regimes firing on demonstrators.

  166. kooshy says:

    Liz
    “A picture of Ahmadinejad today in west Azerbaijan:”

    That is an illusion, they are all bused in Sundaes drinking cake-eating bunch of hungry Iranians that wanted to vote for Mousavi, if you do not believe me ask Scott and the reverend

    But I asked Scott a question earlier, I guess he is in between all events is finding time to answer

    1. kooshy says:
    April 6, 2010 at 9:38 pm
    Scott,
    Good morning, I hope all is well there in London
    As an informed scholar of Iranian current events, I just wanted to ask you, one question, if you chose to answer.
    My question is, do you believe, the western and like-minded media is currently conducting a propaganda war directed against Iran?
    If the answer is yes, than how is done, for what goal, and for what result. I really appreciate your insight on this subject.
    1. Scott Lucas says:
    April 7, 2010 at 7:59 am
    Salam Kooshy,
    Thank you for your question. It has been a very busy news day between developments on the Iraq video, the US nuclear review, Afghanistan events, and the latest from Iran, so it may be this evening before I have a chance to respond.
    Best wishes,
    Scott

  167. Iranian says:

    I knew Scott Lucas would find some ridiculous excuse to keep his eyes closed…

  168. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @KAMRAN

    Where is the “outrage” about today’s events in Bishkek???

    The Army is firing into the crowds and the neocons in America stay silent.

    This whole human rights agenda of people like Lucas is just a political tool
    with which to attack their enemies.

  169. Liz says:

    A picture of Ahmadinejad today in west Azerbaijan:

    http://www.farsnews.com/plarg.php?nn=M607311.jpg

  170. Kamran says:

    GOOD POINT REZA!

  171. Kamran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    There is no question that the reformist MPs accept the results of the elections. You must admit, your ignorance regarding these issues is pretty strange. I think your team only translates certain texts for you and they do not translate texts that don’t serve their interests.

  172. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    People are being slaughtered in the streets of the Bishkek by the “Tulip revolution” regime of Bakiyev and Enduring American has nothing to say on the matter.

    Why? Because Bakiyev is “America’s man” in Kyrgyzstan.

  173. Kamran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Congratulations! You have lost debate after debate. You are extremely stubborn almost like a John Bolton. I really can’t quite understand why you are so unwilling to accept that you were totally wrong. Will you lose face in front of friends or are you scared that your green friends will leave you, or worse, turn against you (I must admit they are a ruthless bunch)?

  174. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Liz,

    As it is my words that you find illogical, I will be happy to explain that I believe the ongoing IRI persecution of the Baha’i alone, whether or not the recent charges of systematic prison rape and torture are true, qualifies as a crime against humanity.

    It is a systematic, government endorsed campaign to eliminate the Baha’i faith, which is considered a heresy against Islam, both by incarcerating and killing persons and by destroying Baha’i sacred sites. Please see this website for more information: http://iran.bahai.us/overview/

    There may even be Baha’i in your local area who would be happy to meet with you and discuss the conditions their relatives in Iran are facing every day, if you would like more corroboration than online human rights reports can give. I urge you to research the situation and determine for yourself if it meets the criteria for crimes against humanity which Professor Lucas posted.

  175. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    You can’t get anything right. This is the key sentence. If you want to pretend to be an expert on Iran and if you have the intelligence, learn the language like me and many others.

    ما بحث تقلب را آنگونه که مطرح می‌شود، قبول نداریم،

  176. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Liz,

    Bless you — you can’t even get your insults right. I never wrote “serious crimes against humanity in Iran”. Rev. Magdalen did.

    Scott

  177. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    Thank you again for the Tabesh article.

    Tabnak claims that Tabesh told Jahan that he (Tabesh) attributes Ahmadinejad’s “success” in the elections more to “electoral doping” than to fraud. He defines doping to be handing out cash to people, raising salaries of government employees, etc. However, he does not rule out fraud altogether.

    That is not the same, in my opinion, as accepting the legitimacy of the election.

    Scott

  178. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Dan Cooper,

    You bring up an excellent point which I have heard echoed by many of my fellow antiwar activists. However, the Neda video is not the only one out there. I refer you to the collection of 2000+ citizen journalism videos I posted yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/user/NedaSoltan#g/u This is just one of many such collections containing thousands of these videos shot by different people in different locations on different phones, showing hundreds of thousands to millions of other people protesting peacefully and being suppressed, in what appears to be a sustained civil rights movement.

    No one is saying the IRI ordered Neda shot, which you are right to point out would be a stupid mistake on their part. Greens don’t allege that anyone ordered Neda in particular to be killed, just that the poorly-trained volunteer security forces, who were unconstitutionally ordered to suppress the demonstration on that day, were issued live ammunition, and then a shot, whether stray or aimed, killed someone, and no one was ever held accountable for it even though eyewitnesses say that bystanders apprehended the shooter and confiscated his ID.

    Neda’s mother has stated that she was offered money in the form of a lifetime stipend for relatives of IRI martyrs, if she would publicly state that she believed Neda’s death happened the way you suppose, as part of a Western plot. Neda’s mother refused the money and has since faced harassment including the defacement of her daughter’s tombstone, but she sticks by her story. She believes her daughter was killed by her own government’s callous disregard for human life in its suppression of the protests.

    Neda’s death was not even the only shooting documented on video that day; there are several other videos showing people screaming and running for cover as they realize security forces are using live ammo. There is video from rooftop levels in various locations clearly showing men with guns aiming, and the sound of firing. In addition there is also a video of a child known only as “Mohammad” whose parents did not want to be exposed to the press but who uploaded a video of him bleeding to death on his way to the hospital, so the world would know what happened. If you have never heard of Mohammad then this must be a pretty ineffective propaganda campaign. If the US were behind the Green Movement I think Mohammad would be more famous than Neda, as he was a beautiful little boy, and he suffered far longer than Neda, having been shot in the gut.

    New videos come from Iranian citizens every single day, and Iranians also call in daily and speak their minds to a variety of international radio shows that are simulcast online and by satellite. Listening to these calls, seeing these videos, reading the blogs, twitter, and Balatarin, there is simply too much evidence that the Green Movement is an actual grassroots Iranian movement for me to believe it’s all just Western propaganda.

    I am familiar with the kind of propaganda you refer to, and as I have said before it is a judgment call everyone must make on their own. I respect your right to reasonably suspect that the Green Movement is a highly organized propaganda campaign, but in my humble opinion, the Green Movement is not astroturf. It’s the real deal. I base this on talking to members of it online every day, studying the citizen journalism that comes out, and my own understanding of human nature and the difficulties that would be involved in coordinating thousands of independent information sources to make them all conform to the same internally-consistent story.

    The way I see it, a war with Iran has been planned by PNAC & Co for well over a decade. When I look at a map and see where Bush placed American forces while he was in office, it looks like an obvious attempt to put Iran between pincers. To me it appears that invading Iran was the intended neoconservative goal all along during their reign of power, and they simply ran out of time before they could achieve it.

    Obama doesn’t need to create a fake color revolution in order to get congress to permit him to make war on Iran. The contingency plans for war with Iran were already on his desk when he took the oath of office. Setting aside all the oil-related reasons PNAC & Co had for wanting to invade, by now most Americans believe Iran plays at least some role in the insurgent attacks against American forces in the region, and that’s a perfectly acceptable excuse to go to war in the minds of most Americans. Obama could say “Iran is the real culprit that’s secretly kept us in the Mideast so long, and if we take them out the troops can come home,” and be believed by a large majority.

    Heck Iran even dropped an excuse for war right in Obama’s lap by arresting the three American hikers last year. They’re still in prison, still have not had a trial for the crime of allegedly wandering across an invisible line in a forest. They’ve been allowed one phone call home since last summer. Obama could say “The Iranians are kidnapping Americans again and we have to nip it in the bud this time,” and he would easily gain public support for a war.

    Keep in mind too that there is a powerful faction of American society that is ALWAYS up for war, because they invest in war industries. Setting up the Green Movement and coordinating all these diverse sources to make them match each other is just far more work than necessary to do the job of convincing Americans to go to war with Iran.

    Occam’s razor, while not an infallible principle, is worth considering, and IMHO in this case, the simplest explanation is that the Green Movement is a real Iranian grassroots civil rights movement. For one thing, if the USA could have caused an uprising like this to happen, it would have done so 30 years ago. It’s true that the US Congress has frequently authorized large sums of money to be spent on regime change from within in Iran, but for 30 long years, not a dime of it worked. Suddenly in June 2009, it works? I just don’t believe that. Either the Green Movement is real or the USA very recently made some huge breakthrough in remotely controlling people to make them face death for their civil rights (perhaps HAARP is involved? ;-).

    Another reason I believe the Green Movement was a surprise to everyone is that if Obama had wanted to use it as an excuse for war, he would have immediately pounced on its existence. Every American would know of the brave Greens fighting the dictator. There would be green ribbons everywhere. There would be no Green refugees waiting to try to get visas out of Turkey, they’d all be in the US talking on The View about how important it is to bomb the Iranian nuke facilities, because the poor Greens need American military help to overthrow their oppressors. Instead, every Green I’ve ever talked to has urged America to stay out of it and let them do their thing their own way.

    Basically the way I see it, the war with Iran might have already been underway by now if the Green Movement had not arisen. I say this because I’ve been trying in my own small way, as just one voice, to help stop the approach of this war a very long time, but frankly I never saw any possibility of avoiding it until the Greens rose up. I don’t think anyone in power believes in pursuing the Grand Bargain, for a variety of reasons, but even the most ardent hawks will stand aside and stay their hands if they believe there are modern day Jeffersons, Washingtons, and Gandhis trying to win freedom in Iran. I have seen with my own eyes conservatives who formerly supported “bomb, bomb Iran” become antiwar activists after interacting with the Greens, because they believe Iranians deserve a fair shake at achieving freedom on their own.

    I don’t see the Green Movement as an excuse for war, I see it as a shield against war. The stronger the Greens become, the more the hawks will retreat and hold back. In my humble opinion, those who want to avoid war should support the Greens for this reason, and also because standing with people asking for their basic human rights is just the right thing to do.

  179. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    When someone calls your government’s actions in Iraq (such as the helecopter attack and the cover up) “crimes against humanity” you respond:

    Logic: Try it sometime. Try it instead of resorting to a scare word like “orientalist”. Don’t cheapen “crimes of humanity” by tossing it around like a plaything because when you do…

    Then you go any say:

    There are serious crimes against humanity being committed in Iran right now…

    Don’t you see what a hypocrite and Orientalist you are?

  180. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Of course, Tabesh is not going to support the government. He is opposed to the government! However, like most other mainstream reformists, a long time ago he accepted the results as valid. None of us thought you had the honesty or honor to accept the facts, so we weren’t expecting anything new from you. However, the fact that you did not know these people made these statements shows your utter ignorance about Iran and show that your green people lead you around like a blind person.

  181. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    Thank you very much for the link, which I have just noted. We are checking out the story, both in the context of the event reported in Tabnak and of Tabesh’s recent statements, such as his declaration at a meeting with Hashemi Rafsanjani on Monday:

    “Although right now different issues are being discussed in the country, especially the the subsidies bill and the economic situation, we must not forget that these issues are secondary and the primary issue at hand is the stability and security of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    “We must not see further distancing of the ruling establishment and the people. And we hope that the ruling establishment will use wisdom and foresight to fill the distances [that have been created].”

    Best,

    Scott

  182. Dan Cooper says:

    Reza Esfandiari

    Thank you.

    I had read so many articles about Neda but yours was the most comprehensive one.

    You wrote and I Quote:

    “It is inconceivable that an Islamic regime, which understands the power of martyrdom in its own culture, would sanction the cold-blooded murder of an innocent and ordinary young woman on the streets of Tehran.

    However it is every bit conceivable that those who thought the opposition movement needed a symbol and icon of resistance – recipients and supporters no doubt of a $400m CIA-backed destabilization program for Iran [11] – would have arranged this horrible murder and try and pin it on the Iranian authorities.

    The ruthless exploitation of the death of Neda for political purposes is an egregious example of a propaganda war being waged by the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran – everyone should be concerned, however, since the manipulation of the media and public opinion is a feature of domestic news coverage in the West as much as it is of reporting on a Middle Eastern state.”

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/English/Opinion/?id=35869

  183. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I know that you will find some sort of excuse not to accept the truth. However, this is for the record. The link is to a 5 month old piece in the Tabnak website. Tabnak states that the head of the reformist faction in parliament Dr. Tabesh has said specifically that there was no fraud or cheating in the presidential elections.

    http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=69843

  184. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Kooshy,

    Thank you for your question. It has been a very busy news day between developments on the Iraq video, the US nuclear review, Afghanistan events, and the latest from Iran, so it may be this evening before I have a chance to respond.

    Best wishes,

    Scott

  185. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @DAN COOPER

    You might want to read an article of mine on Neda

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/English/Opinion/?id=35869

    I think its obvious that the GM needed a “Joan of Arc” martyr figure.

  186. Dan Cooper says:

    Rev. Magdalen , Scott Lucas

    Re: Neda

    The tragic death of Neda and its vivid capture on film was deliberately used as a propaganda tool by American, British and Israeli media outlets to harden western opinion against the Islamic republic and grease the skids for a future invasion.

    Who really benefitted from killing Neda?

    In my opinion, Neda was “killed to order” for maximum publicity by a western agent to tarnish the image of the Iranian government.

    CIA and Mossad are famous for this type of operations.

    They deliberately chose a “beautiful girl” in order to get maximum exposure.

    Neda was a few streets away, from where the main protests were taking place.

    She was with her music teacher, sitting in a car and stuck in traffic.

    She got out of the car for just for a few minutes and was shot.

    She was not wearing any green clothes.

    She was not participating in any demonstration.

    She was an innocent bystander.

    Why a Basiji would wants to kill her anyway?

    Why would a Basiji fire on someone in a street where there is no demonstration?

    What would a Basiji gain by killing her?

    Now ask yourself this; what would a “Foreign agent or the enemies of IR” gain by killing her?

    Eye witnesses and video footage of Neda clearly showed there was no demonstration on that area where she was shot.

    It is alleged that a “Basiji” killed Neda and according to eye witnesses he was immediately arrested and then released but no video evidence of the arrest has been produced.

    If the story is true, why there was no video evidence of the Basiji’s arrest?

    There were so many people with mobile phone who witnessed the incident but not a single shot of the Basiji’s arrest was captured.

    If we don’t heed the lessons of history and understand how sophisticated PR campaigns are routinely crafted around such events by western governments in collusion with their establishment media fronts, then;

    The tragic death of Neda will be the catalyst for a million more tragedies in the years to come – the only difference being that you won’t see the deaths of those victims being broadcast on the BBC, Fox News or CNN.

    The propensity for western governments to manufacture or exploit intensely emotional stories such as Neda’s death, and tragic events involving young women and children in general, in order to hoodwink populations into supporting phony wars of “liberation” has been proven time and time again.

    The hypocrisy is almost impossible to stomach.

    Hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children have been slaughtered in similar fashion by coalition forces during the bombardment and occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of these deaths have been caught on camera.

    Yet the establishment media has blindly refused to broadcast any of it.

    Indeed, it could be claimed that the footage of Neda’s death has already been broadcast more times by the corporate media than the thousands of victims whose deaths were caught on film in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last eight years.

    There is no doubt that Neda’s vivid and shocking death is tragic to witness and a terrible loss for her family. However, the repercussions of the video circulating the globe via You Tube and its propaganda-driven exploitation by the west to demonize the Iranian government could have tragic consequences for many more innocent Iranians in the years to come.

  187. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    You are being absurd. As most people here guessed, you will not accept evidence or logic. I’m surprised that you have a job at a university. Indeed, you ARE like the neo-cons, because you always stick to your guns and continue with your propaganda even when the evidence clearly shows that you are wrong.

  188. kooshy says:

    Scott,
    Good morning, I hope all is well there in London
    As an informed scholar of Iranian current events, I just wanted to ask you, one question, if you chose to answer.
    My question is, do you believe, the western and like-minded media is currently conducting a propaganda war directed against Iran?
    If the answer is yes, than how is done, for what goal, and for what result. I really appreciate your insight on this subject.

  189. Tom A. Milstein says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    “I am not confident that the US can improve its relationship with Iran quickly and substantially.”

    Few are. The question is why? The conventional wisdom, as you have implied, lays the principal responsibility at Israel’s door, which is certainly the appearance of things. Others would blame Ahmadinejad’s “polarizing” political style, which is another appearance.

    I’ve suggested the real responsibility lies beneath appearances, with the Saudis, which you reject for being based “a whole lot of carefully made uphill arguments (all of which, frankly, are beyond my imagination).” Well, good arguments should lead uphill — and thanks for the “carefully made” — but imagination is no substitute for clarity, I guess.

  190. Eric A. Brill says:

    Tom,

    “My question remains: how can a President so obviously constrained by the Saudi lobby — but no longer the Israel lobby, as recent events amply demonstrate — come to the Iranian table with clean hands?”

    Your premise strikes me as awfully shaky. To say that the US, in dealing with Iran, is more constrained by the Saudi lobby than by the Israeli lobby strikes me as a conclusion that one can reach, if at all, only after a whole lot of carefully made uphill arguments (all of which, frankly, are beyond my imagination). It is very far from a premise that is so “obvious” that one’s listeners can fairly be expected simply to accept it as a starting point.

    Of course the US takes into account Saudi Arabia in its dealings with Iran, just as it takes into account other countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Russia, China, the Gulf States, for example (and many other countries to some extent). But if the US only had to take into account the countries just named, I am confident it could improve its relationship with Iran — quickly and substantially.

    I am not confident that the US can improve its relationship with Iran quickly and substantially.

  191. Tom A. Milstein says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    “This is not intended as a comment on your post generally, but I will note that many do not find it “obvious” that the US’ “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia is the special relationship that presents the biggest obstacle to a modus vivendi between the US and Iran. There’s another one that comes to mind for most people.”

    If not the “biggest obstacle,” than certainly “an obstacle,” and therefore worthy of being tackled by anyone racing for Iran — which, by the way, is also not an objective that “comes to mind for most people.”

    Your coy insinuation that Israel’s lobby is a bigger obstacle to rapprochement with Iran than Saudi Arabia’s should not go unchallenged, however. Netanyahu certainly makes a lot of noise on this issue (in the Leverett’s language, he is certainly a “polarizing figure”), but objective factors suggest that the Saudis have a great deal more to lose from an opening to Iran.

    Israel’s worst case scenario — Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons — would be no worse for them than was China’s nuclear capability for the U.S., as the Leveretts have pointed out. M.A.D.-based deterrence would still rule in the region.

    But Israel has nothing to compare with the Saudi vulnerabilities. The Saudis uphold the scepter of Sunni hegemony within Islam; they are the Guardians of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina; and they manage the international oil cartel. The Khomeini Revolution, from its very inception, has posed a mortal threat to the House of Saud, and has been so viewed by them.

    This last feature — kingpins of the most lucrative monopoly in the history of the world — is what confers upon them an enormous political influence. It is the real “elephant in the room” of American foreign policy, notwithstanding the preference for exposes of Zionism by those with a penchant for easy targets.

    My question remains: how can a President so obviously constrained by the Saudi lobby — but no longer the Israel lobby, as recent events amply demonstrate — come to the Iranian table with clean hands?

  192. masoud says:

    “Masoud

    Apology accepted.”
    I guess that’s 6-12 trutherspeak for ‘No’?

  193. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Masoud

    Apology accepted.

  194. masoud says:

    “I merely state the fact that the current government of Iran does not even live up to its own Constitution, let alone the principles of true democracy, which are incompatible with a Guardian Council to preselect approved candidates, or a Supreme Leader who can suspend the right to free speech at his sole discretion.”

    Sure. So you’ve stated that opinion for the upteenth time. Now do you have anything even mildly relevant or marginally enlightening to say on the issue of Iran-US relations?

  195. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Masoud, I just hit Control+F and ran a search on this page for the word “evil.” It has been used by four people, including me and you. I used it once in one post in which I said the IRI “use the [US embassy] building as a museum to display exhibits criticizing America as an evil nation.”

    I never said anyone was evil, I merely state the fact that the current government of Iran does not even live up to its own Constitution, let alone the principles of true democracy, which are incompatible with a Guardian Council to preselect approved candidates, or a Supreme Leader who can suspend the right to free speech at his sole discretion.

    I appreciate your concern for my feelings, but I am not bothered by the coldness of internet commentators, so please do not trouble yourself on that account.

  196. masoud says:

    Scott, please don’t break off our discussion now, we are so close to an understanding, I can feel it.

    Please clarify how my characterization of your position on Fars News if inaccurate. If your position and it’s justifications are credible, you just might open some eyes over here! Wasn’t that the point of your entire field trip?

    Again I have to ask, in you or your associates’ view, how credible is Kavakabian? If it turns out that he does not support the election fraud business, what does that mean? Would his skepticism regarding these claims be about as relevant as his supposed support? If no why bother about what he thinks anyway?

    I thought I was asking some fair questions?

  197. masoud says:

    Your reception is cold because you insist on imposing yourself on the discussion, and that other condemn this or that event, or agree with you that this or that actor or government is Evil.
    –>
    Your reception is cold because you insist on imposing yourself on the discussion, and demand that others condemn this or that event, or agree with you that this or that actor or government is Evil.

    I know i make a lot of typos, but this one really took the cake. Apologies.

  198. masoud says:

    This is definitely not my house. I did not command, I merely asked that you either contribute something substantive or quit trying to impose yourself on the discussion until you have had the opportunity to ‘ educated’.

    Your reception here is not cold because most people on the forum disagree with you(which I think is an accurate assesment). Your reception is cold because you insist on imposing yourself on the discussion, and that other condemn this or that event, or agree with you that this or that actor or government is Evil.

    This used to be a serious discussion board. No one here(new arrivals possibly excepted) is interested in discussing who is or is not going to hell. You think IRI is Evil? Fine, you’ve said that. Although, some would dispute the value in that judgment, no one really cares. Now, do you have anything grown up to say? If yes, then say it, if no then just take a time out until you do.

  199. Scott Lucas says:

    Masoud,

    No, your characterisation of my position — on the specific story as reported on Fars or on the political significance of Kavakebian and his position in the reformist movement — is not accurate.

    No 2nd source, no further discussion.

    Scott

  200. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Masoud,

    With all due respect I don’t believe this is “your house.” By what right do you command others to leave? I don’t think that’s the sort of behavior the Leveretts want to promote to the world; you do them a disservice by saying such things. I am sure if the Leveretts wish to close the discussion on this topic, they will simply close the comment option, and frankly at this point nobody would blame them, it’s really getting exceptionally long.

    Come, if I am ignorant than educate me. Here is a collection of over 2,000 of the videos I speak of, which I believe to be true videos actually sent by Iranian citizen journalists. http://www.youtube.com/user/NedaSoltan#g/u If you think I am mistaken in believing that, please show me the evidence.

  201. masoud says:

    Ok Scott,
    You’ve made your position on Fars quite clear. I’ll take it that my characterization of your position was accurate. I will also take it that should the source I cite be credible you will not reevaluate your position that Fars is essentially as unreliable as Fox or CNN. That’s a fair enough position to have, though a little misguided in my opinion.

    What you haven’t clarified is your impression of this man’s credibility. Is his opinion only relevant if he echoes Mousavi? How deeply will you re evaluate your impression that the claims of fraud are prima facie credible?

  202. Scott Lucas says:

    Masoud,

    Given that Fars has been inaccurate on major stories in the past, 2nd source needed for this to run.

    Scott

  203. masoud says:

    “I am not in any way affiliated with Enduring America, except as a frequent reader. It turns out that not everyone who disagrees with the Leveretts is secretly working together in a massive Zionist plot to undermine the purity of the IRI. Sometimes people just see things the same way and agree in the regular fashion.”

    I don’t care how you are affiliated with them. Neither scott, nor you, nor chirs, has contributed substantively to the serious discussions that transpire here If you have nothing to contribute go away. Save the sermons(and Zionist plots) for the congregation.

    Masoud

  204. masoud says:

    “I don’t feel like playing word games. Based on sources, we would consider Kavakebian as as a relatively minor reformist, when it comes to leadership, with statements that are neither coordinated nor representing views of leaders such as Mousavi and Karroubi.”

    With respect, word games seem to be the bulk of what you do. But this is good we are starting to get some answers. But as you may realize, my question wans’t about ‘leadership’ but about ‘credibility’. If it turns out that Kavekabian does not believe that election was rigged, how much credible do such claims remain?

    With respect to Fars, I take it your position is that it would indeed invent such a statement out of thin air and attribute it to a newspaper editor who is supposedly known to be on the record with statements completely contrary to the attribution, with the justification being it claimed that a certain statement by Karoubi amounted to “recognition” when it did not(i thought we weren’t playing word games), and that it inaccurately or incompeltely reported details of some sort of ‘reconcilliation plan’?(of course i don’t know that it did either, i just want to get inside your head a little)

  205. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Masoud,

    I am not in any way affiliated with Enduring America, except as a frequent reader. It turns out that not everyone who disagrees with the Leveretts is secretly working together in a massive Zionist plot to undermine the purity of the IRI. Sometimes people just see things the same way and agree in the regular fashion.

  206. Scott Lucas says:

    Masoud,

    To clarify: the view that Kavekabian is relatively “low-key” in the reformist leadership is one based not just on Mousavi’s and Karroubi’s position but on the positions of others in the reformist coalition inside and outside the Majlis.

    Scott

  207. Scott Lucas says:

    Masoud,

    I don’t feel like playing word games. Based on sources, we would consider Kavakebian as as a relatively minor reformist, when it comes to leadership, with statements that are neither coordinated nor representing views of leaders such as Mousavi and Karroubi.

    Fars has put out information in the past that was exaggerated or wrong — an example was its claimed version of a National Unity Plan last autumn, and then there was the episode of misinterpretation with Karroubi “recognising” the Ahmadinejad Government. With such a public meeting, I would presume that a 2nd source could easily corroborate Fars’ specific report that Kavakebian recognised the election.

    Yours,

    Scott

  208. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Apologies, I of course mean the video from Iraq, not Afghanistan. I was confused by the release of another story of American atrocities involving three women in Afghanistan, which also is not relevant to any discussion of atrocities in Iran.

  209. masoud says:

    Rev. Magdalen,

    I don’t mean to cause you any offense, but you are completely ignorant. There is actually much more lively debate in Iran around substantive policy matters than there is in the US. This debate is more wide-reaching, sustained and effective than anything that passes for ‘policy discussions’ in the US.

    Please peddle your polemics elsewhere, I don’t think that either you or your associates from ‘EnduringAmerica’(an entirely obnoxious name, if you are contemplating a change please consider a clean break from playing off of the ridiculous victim complex most americans are afflicted with) have contributed anything insightful to the discussion on Iran.

  210. masoud says:

    “No. Kavakebian should be identified by the credentials he has established. The one proviso would be how influential Kavakebian is within current reformist/opposition circles — is he considered a leading voice in the Parliament coalition? Are his views shared by other prominent reformist MPs, if not Mousavi and Karroubi?”

    I thought so. We can spend weeks debating what this politician or that politician said, but in the end the measure of what’s important is whether the views of the person in question are echoed by Mousavi or Karroubi.
    Is this important because you instinctively believe that whatever these two jokers say is the position of a significant portion of the population? Or is your position that these two are accurate embodiments of the reform movement of the past decade and half?
    Whatever the case, why spend time on what other people say or think if these are your ultimate measures of ‘credibility’?

    You still haven’t answered my questions, just rearranged them. Do you actually know what ‘credentials Kavekabian has established’, if yes, then why not come out with a straight yes or no answer, if no, why are you so adamant his statement quoted by Fars is suspicious?

    Whatever the headline of the article chosen, either the article lies or it doesn’t, if you are suggesting it is lying, I want to why you think it would lie about something so easily checked?

  211. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Nothing that happens outside Iran, even if it proves without a shadow of a doubt that the United States of America is just the wickedest nation that ever existed and everyone who ever took the oath of office ought to be burned at the stake, has any relevance to whether or not people in Iranian prisons are being raped, or nonviolent Iranian activists are deliberately beaten bloody, hit by police cars or shot at with live ammunition.

    US atrocities have nothing to do with whether or not Iran routinely arrests the family members of detainees, to coerce a confession from them, or whether or not the whole world recently witnessed Stalinist mass trials that spectacularly defied all rules of due process, openly broadcast over the internet for anyone who cared to watch. No matter what happens elsewhere, nothing can make conducting surprise executions without informing family members, or forbidding people from holding funerals and placing headstones, seem like reasonable acts.

    American soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan have nothing to do with whether or not the Supreme Leader of Iran has violated his nation’s constitution by asserting that because, in HIS opinion, the election was fair, NOBODY can have a permit to nonviolently state an opposing opinion. US atrocities have no impact on whether or not the supposed constitutional check on the Supreme Leader’s power, the Assembly of Experts, declined to remove the Supreme Leader for this offense against the Constitution of Iran, leaving Iran’s people with no further official means, except a national referendum, to pursue justice for this crime against their constitutional rights.

    If you want to discuss videos, new ones come from Iran every day, recorded by ordinary citizens with their cell phone cams. YouTube has archived hundreds and hundreds of them. I would think any of those videos would be more relevant to this discussion than a 3-year-old video from a completely different country involving no Iranian people at all.

  212. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Masoud,

    All fair questions.

    1. What sources have told you Kavakabian dismisses the legitamacy of the elections?

    It’s not that Kavakebian has dismissed the legitimacy of the elections rather that he has been focused, from the information we have and from the public record, on post-election concerns (including the economy) rather than the election.

    2. Why is it that you beleive Fars woulld lie about such an easily verifiable claim?

    I am always careful with Fars as a source, since the agency has put out suspect stories on a number of occasions (similarly, I won’t use certain “Green” sites or expatriate sites as sources without cross-checking). In this case, though, you’re right: I find it hard to believe that Fars could “create” a statement at a large public gathering. My question would be more whether Kavakebian said clearly that he accepted the election — the Fars headline — or whether this was an interpretation beyond what he declared (hypothetically, he said that all should now move beyond the election — not exactly accepting it but saying that other issues should now be the priority).

    3. If the source i cite is found by you to have sufficient credibity as to allay your concerns abot the accuracy of Fars’ report will you resort to claiming that Kavakabian not ‘really’ a reformist or that he is a traitor to the movement or he only represents a ‘certain faction’ or someother similar excuse as an excuse to continue trolling on this issue?

    No. Kavakebian should be identified by the credentials he has established. The one proviso would be how influential Kavakebian is within current reformist/opposition circles — is he considered a leading voice in the Parliament coalition? Are his views shared by other prominent reformist MPs, if not Mousavi and Karroubi?

    4. If the source I cite is found by you to be sufficiently credible, how will you to be sufficiently credible will you re evaluate the assumptions (likeley) underlined by your answers to questions 1 and 2?

    News is news, and here I have to be a journalist. If Kavakebian said it, it should be reported. Full stop.

    Best,

    Scott

  213. masoud says:

    hi scott

    I have a second source for the Kavekabian claim.
    I am not prepared to share it with you though.

    If you want my source you will have to answer me the following questions in an honest fashion

    1.What sources have told you Kavakabian dismisses the legitamacy of the elections?
    2. Why is it that you beleive Fars woulld lie about such an easily verifiable claim?
    3. If the source i cite is found by you to have sufficient credibity as to allay your concerns abot the accuracy of Fars’ report will you resort to claiming that Kavakabian not ‘really’ a reformist or that he is a traitor to the movement or he only represents a ‘certain faction’ or someother similar excuse as an excuse to continue trolling on this issue?
    4. If the source I cite is found by you to be sufficiently credible, how will you to be sufficiently credible will you re evaluate the assumptions (likeley) underlined by your answers to questions 1 and 2?

    I would also ask other posters to refrain from answering scott’s call for more sources
    unitl he gives us some answers to these questions.

    Masoud

  214. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Since my views are not the same as Richard Dalton, that point is a red herring.

    You ask what “I want to see happen”. That’s not my starting point, which is to provide news in a context where those in power have tried to restrict news-gathering and dissimenation. It is to evaluate that information so I have an understanding of what is occurring.

    Beyond that, what “I want to see happen” are the basic rights that I would want to see in any country. I appreciate your opinion that post-election detainees should be released and should not have the threat of renewed detention hanging over them, that publications should be unbanned, that abuses should be investigated. I would also hope that in Iran, as in any country, there is freedom of assembly and of political activity. I would hope that the Constitution would be upheld, respected, and adhered to by all, including those in power.

    But beyond those basics, it is not for me to say “what should happen” in Iran with respect to political, economic, cultural, religious, and social matters. That is for Iranians to decide.

    Yours,

    Scott

  215. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian & Iranian@Iran,

    “Reason, evidence, and logic” — since, gentlemen, you have chosen to substitute invective and chest-thumping polemic, let me help you.

    Evidence: Within hours of Wikileaks revealing this video — a video we knew about for weeks and which we supported Wikileaks in disclosing — we posted it. We did so as a provider of news but we also did so as a long-time critic, in our analysis, of US foreign policy.

    Reason: This is the definition under international law of “crimes against humanity”:

    “Acts part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape and political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion.”

    It may well be that this action will be established as “part of a government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority”. I hope that it is considered and investigated as such, not by the US Government, but by an independent tribunal. I hope so, just as I supported a movement in 2003 trying to get referral of Britain to the International Criminal Court (the US, of course, is not a signatory) to try not only British actions in Afghanistan and Iraq but also de facto if not de jure, given Britain’s role as a “junior partner” in the conflict, US actions.

    I will follow the process of what happens with this video and report on it responsibly as a journalist and as an analyst.

    Logic: Try it sometime. Try it instead of resorting to a scare word like “orientalist”. Don’t cheapen “crimes of humanity” by tossing it around like a plaything because when you do, you discredit those — from all of those trying to ensure justice in Gaza to those untangling what happened in the Balkans in the 1990s to those seeking some resolution for the conflicts that have taken millions of lives in Africa to those defending the innocent, the slain, and the crippled in Iraq — who are diligently trying to ensure that the strongest possible case can and will be heard.

    The funny thing is that we actually start out on the same side here — we all are repulsed by the wanton killing of civilians by military actions. But you apply a pre-condition: anyone who has dared provide news and analysis of Iran, and done so without following your lines of what is acceptable to report and argue, is to be lumped with your demons.

    And that’s a pity.

    Yours,

    Scott

  216. Reza Esfandiari says:

    I still can’t fathom what Scott Lucas actually wants to see happen in Iran.

    He thinks there is a crisis of legitimacy in Iran when no such crisis exists. There are clearly deep divisons over the direction of the Islamic Republic, but this has always been the case.

    Scott, isn’t it revealing that your views are basically the same as those of the former ambassador to Iran ,Sir Richard Dalton – someone at the centre of the British Establishment?

  217. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    “crimes that might be covered up”…How absurd. Did you mean crimes against humanity that have been covered up?

    Iranian@Iran:
    Thank you for that. However, as you said, Scott Lucas will not accept reason, evidence, or logic…

  218. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    “crimes that might be covered up”…How absurd. Did you mean crimes against humanity that have been covered up?

  219. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    These are not crimes, they are crimes against humanity that are being carried out on a regular basis even today. Your troubling double standards are what reveal you as an Orientalist.

  220. Scott Lucas says:

    Liz,

    It was precisely because of our concern over crimes that might be covered up that we supported Wikileaks’ efforts for months to release this video.

    Scott

  221. Liz says:

    I’m sorry Scott Lucas, that is simply not enough. It is your government and the UK government commit crimes against humanity on a regular basis and then they go and cover up their crimes.

  222. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Tom Milstein — I couldn’t begin to untangle the threads of US-Iran-Saudi Arabian interrelations.
    bits of information gathered along the way: Bob Gates and Gen. Petraeus consider SA and the Arab states to be their prime customers for produce of the US military industry. NPR reported on the most recent US presentation at the 2009 Manama Dialog under the title, “Petraues applauds Arab states arms buildup” www dot npr dot org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121498041

    Gates attended the 2007 and 2008 Manama dialogs for a similar purpose — to sell US military hardware, and with a similar ‘marketing’ tactic — Iran is a threat to your security.

    Some discussion of Mossad’s assassination of a Palestinian leader in Dubai claims that the act was deliberately obvious, that is, allowed to be captured on camera, as a warning to Dubai to stop acting as Iran’s off-shore banker.

    a young Palestinian professor participates in a large Democratic blog. He wrote this extensive study of US-Saudi relations and their implications for Israel-Palestine: How the War on Terror was Lost: Setting the Stage

  223. Scott Lucas says:

    Liz,

    With respect, it might be useful if you got out a bit beyond the comfort zone of RFI. We posted the video last night and have followed up with reaction to it. We also have the latest on this morning’s bombs in Baghdad.

    Best,

    Scott

  224. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I agree with Iranian@Iran. We should keep the debate on this website. It is far more credible.

    Also, since you have no idea what crimes against humanity mean, it would be good to take a look at just one of the many thousands of crimes committed by the US and UK:

    http://www.collateralmurder.com/

  225. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rev. Magdalen (and others, re the video from Baghdad)-

    I believe you cited an article by Claudia Rosett, in support of your position the Iran’s leaders consider the US ‘enemies.’

    Rosett writes for Foundation for Defense of Democracies; scratch its surface a bit, it’s not what its title would lead you to believe.

    Here’s what FDD has to say about the video of US Marines killing unarmed civilians as well as their rescuers: Collateral Murder in Baghdad is anything but:

    “Wikileaks … made a splash today with a video claiming to show that the U.S. military “murdered” a Reuters cameraman and other Iraqi “civilians” in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. But a careful watching of the video shows that the U.S. helicopter gun crews that attacked a group of armed men in the then Mahdi Army stronghold of New Baghdad was anything but “Collateral Murder,” …”

    the website is copyrighted. read the rest of the article at the the link.
    We report, you decide.

  226. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    Thank you for the link re Kavakebian. Do you have a 2nd source to verify the Fars claims and interpretation?

    Scott

  227. Eric A. Brill says:

    Tom Milstein:

    “It seems obvious that this ‘special relationship’ [with Saudi Arabia] is by far the weightiest factor in hamstringing American efforts to reach a modus vivendi with Iran.”

    This is not intended as a comment on your post generally, but I will note that many do not find it “obvious” that the US’ “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia is the special relationship that presents the biggest obstacle to a modus vivendi between the US and Iran. There’s another one that comes to mind for most people.

  228. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott,

    “Re QLine, feel free to stop by the EA discussion board and put this to him — I’m sure he will appreciate the dialogue.”

    As others have pointed out, this website works just fine as a discussion place. QLine knows where to find us if he’d like to participate.

  229. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Thank you for the answer re the data. Re QLine, feel free to stop by the EA discussion board and put this to him — I’m sure he will appreciate the dialogue.

    Scott

  230. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    I am sorry that you are feeling unwell.

    Given your interest in Afghanistan, you may wish to read the analysis on EA today by Josh Mull, “The Humanity Missing from Our Debate” (http://enduringamerica.com/2010/04/06/afghanistan-the-humanity-missing-from-our-debate/)

    Mull concludes: “Respect for Afghans is sorely lacking on all sides of the Afghanistan debate. It’s 2010, nine years into the war, and we’re still talking about Afghanistan in orientalist terms. Yet it confuses and bewilders us when stories of war crimes and cover-ups seem to go unnoticed. We know why nobody wants to hear about the massacre. We don’t want to think about them as human. This has to change now.”

    Scott

  231. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @MILSTEIN

    Saudi Arabia is indeedworried by Iran’s influence in the region, but it is the United States that shattered the bolts that “contained” Iran for more than a decade by invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Saudis are a vassal state of the American empire….their concerns don’t really matter to policy makers even if they own 7% of the US Economy.

  232. Tom A. Milstein says:

    Dear Mr. & Ms. Leverett,

    I have been following your thoughtful and creative views on the “Iran problem” for some time. I recently viewed Mr. Flynt’s debate with Michael Ledeen, and your joint appearance on Charlie Rose’s program. I’d like to raise with you a question which seems to me critical to any successful attempt to cut through the Gordian Knot which this problem poses. This question has to do with Saudi Arabia , which you rarely mention in your assessment of regional affairs, notwithstanding the fact that any “grand bargain” such as you repeatedly call for (and which you analogize to Nixon’s achievement in relations with Communist China) would necessarily impact U.S. relations with that country. Why is this subject, so pertinent to the aims you pursue, off limits, so to speak?

    It seems obvious that this “special relationship” is by far the weightiest factor in hamstringing American efforts to reach a modus vivendi with Iran. Indeed, to invoke the analogy of which you seem fond, the US-China rapprochement, that consummation was frustrated for decades by the shadowy role of a “China Lobby” whose power, in retrospect, was puny in comparison to that of the Saudi Lobby. Can you really deal with realignment of American policy toward Iran without tackling this subject?

    Nixon and Kissinger, it is true, avoided a direct confrontation with the China Lobby by keeping the mechanics of their initiative a deep secret and then springing it on the world almost as a fait accompli. But they had grounds for such geopolitical secrecy not available to current and former administrations: the Superpower menace of the Soviet Union. I believe you have pointed out this difference between the two situations yourselves.

    It is possible, of course, to argue that Saudi Arabia would not oppose an improvement in US-Iran relations. So too did the Soviet Union claim to support an improvement in US-China relations. But I think we can agree to be skeptical of such arguments.

  233. Rev. Magdalen,

    You can leave replies here even if they have multiple links — IF you change the second (and third, etc.) link so it doesn’t look like a link. For example, change:

    http://www.website.com

    to:

    wwwDOTwebsiteDOTcom

    Otherwise, your comment will be “in moderation” forever and we won’t get the benefit of your contribution on this site (which I have appreciated very much).

    Eric

    P.S. Incidentally, I’m so good at doing this that it has taken me three tries just to get this very comment posted. I discovered your second (and third, etc.) link cannot have EITHER dot in the example above, nor the http (etc.) characters in front of the www

  234. Kathleen says:

    Encouraging folks to call the Chinese embassy. Encourage them to vote against counter productive sanctions against Iran. Contact the Chinese embassy.

    202-625-3380

  235. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I stumbled upon this by chance and while I am pretty certain that you are unwilling to listen to reason, I’ve decided to give you the link. It’s a debate that just took place a few days ago and Kavakebian states that he accepts the elections:

    http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8808181512

  236. Scott,

    “There has also been a constructive engagement with your work in comments on our 5 April LiveBlog, including a lengthy comment from QLineOrientalist.”

    I read QLine’s comment, and he strikes me as very intelligent. Please ask him to re-read my article carefully and then reconsider his comments. I recognize this might sound condescending and that authors often dodge serious criticisms with such a comment, but sometimes it’s justified. I think he’ll find that many of his points are already dealt with, and he’ll at least provide tougher targets for my responses if he hones his argument a bit.

  237. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I don’t bother checking your website any more. To be honest, the double standards there are somewhat nauseating. If you have anything to say, say it here.

  238. Scott,

    Your reader asks:

    “The ministry of interior released voting data by town and province rather shortly after the election. This was the data set analyzed by lots of western analysts. But then the ministry of interior released the voting breakdowns polling place by polling place. This data set is available on the MoI’s website, yet I have seen no one download it and crunch it. Why hasn’t anyone bothered to do that, given that all we have so far is an accumulation of circumstantial evidence and various accusations by candidates and their supporters?”

    Please tell your reader: I have indeed crunched the data. I encourage him to do the same. I suggest he check the sources in footnote 1 of my article.

  239. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    EA is covering this morning’s news from Iraq, as well as the release of the 2007 video.

    Scott

  240. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @IRANIAN

    It will be interesting to see what Scott Lucas makes of this video from Iraq and
    reported in The Times of London of all places.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article7088548.ece

    Maybe the footage is not a crime but just a routine operation.

  241. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Crimes against humanity?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100406/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

    This website is much better for debates and discussions, because it is a serious website.

  242. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    The vast majority of those arrested in the unrest have been released. Those still in detention should be released as part of a general amnesty, including Mr Panahi.

    The 8 periodicals closed since the election should also be allowed to republish.

    Any abuses of human rights should be investigated and individuals prosecuted – as with Kahrizak.

    But let’s not lose sight of this: The Green movement, unlike the earlier reform movement, is the foreign-backed “color revolution” that neocons like Mike Ledeen have been threatening Iran with for over a decade now.

    What do you want to see happen in Iran? Do you think the current government ought to resign and stand down? Do you want to see tough new sanctions? What exactly is your interest and agenda in all this?

  243. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    An EA source from Iran, who knows your work, has asked us:

    “The ministry of interior released voting data by town and province rather shortly after the election. This was the data set analyzed by lots of western analysts. But then the ministry of interior released the voting breakdowns polling place by polling place. This data set is available on the MoI’s website, yet I have seen no one download it and crunch it. Why hasn’t anyone bothered to do that, given that all we have so far is an accumulation of circumstantial evidence and various accusations by candidates and their supporters?”

    Any thoughts?

    There has also been a constructive engagement with your work in comments on our 5 April LiveBlog, including a lengthy comment from QLineOrientalist.

    Best,

    Scott

  244. Iranian@Iran says:

    There is a world of difference…

  245. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    Take a look at EA and you’ll see how we are covering the news from Iraq, including the video of the 2007 US military’s “collateral murder” of civilians.

    Scott

  246. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    The people of Iran don’t believe that extreme human rights abuses are taking place in the country. You are the one who is supporting human rights abuses, by aiding those who are attempting to overthrow the elected president.

    I’d like to see how much time you will be spending on the news about the helecopter attacks in Baghdad. Your president, I assume will soon be taking strong action against the murderers who carried out the attack and those in power who prevented the release of the footage.

    Let’s see what you do now…

  247. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rev. Magdalen, thank you for your response and kind wishes for a happy Easter.

    Regarding your four paragraphs that explained your beliefs about the obligations and rules governing the situation, including your statement that:
    “I am certain that simply forgetting it happened and normalizing relations, while allowing the invading country to retain the captured territory, is not an option in any of those books. That is just not how nations are legally bound to operate, even if it’s how you or I might treat an offense by a neighbor, just letting bygones be bygones.

    If the IRI would like the United States to forgive the invasion of the embassy, they have to return the territory and express regret. And really, is that so much to ask? Shouldn’t it raise a red flag that the IRI still has no intentions of doing this? I would think that would be the first thing they would do if they were truly making a serious effort to make friends with the US.”

    Rev Magdalen, this situation was not one of “simply letting bygones be bygones,” it was settled by a negotiated settlement mediated by the Government of Algiers and evidenced by a 14-page written and signed document known as the Algiers Accord of 1981. The terms of the Accords define the contingencies and obligations of the parties, including extensive discussion of the obligation of the US to return to Iran assets of the Iranian state, totalling in the billions of 1979 dollars, that Carter froze in the immediate aftermath of the embassy takeover. It is my understanding that the US has not fully complied with those terms; that is, the US still retains possession of Iranian assets that US pledged to return upon the release of the hostages.

    In addition, Point I. of the Algiers Accords states:

    “Point I: Non-Intervention in Iranian Affairs
    1. The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United
    States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.

    The US has failed to honor that crucial term of the Algiers Accords.

    Thus, Rev. Magdalen, it seems to me that the US government has done its duty towards its citizens and its property by negotiating a settlement of the matters that concern you. Unfortunately, it has failed to keep its word to carry out the terms it bound itself to in that negotiation.

    You wrote, “If the IRI would like the United States to forgive the invasion of the embassy, they have to return the territory and express regret. And really, is that so much to ask? Shouldn’t it raise a red flag that the IRI still has no intentions of doing this? I would think that would be the first thing they would do if they were truly making a serious effort to make friends with the US.”

    To which I am ashamed to have to reply: If Obama’s rhetoric of “extending a hand” to Iran was “truly a serious effort to make friends” with the Islamic Republic of Iran, “shouldn’t it raise a red flag that the US still has no intention of” fulfilling the obligations it agreed to when it signed the Algiers Accord?

    My second question was:

    “you wrote: “I don’t accuse the Leveretts of deliberately misleading people, but I think it’s possible that even though they are highly intelligent scholars, they may be deceived themselves by Iranian contacts who deliberately sweet-talk them with promises of international friendship that the actual decision-makers may have no intention of honoring. ”

    What contacts, sources of information, etc. do YOU have that cause you to consider your assessment of realities and attitudes among the Iranian leadership to be more accurate than those of the Leveretts?”

    Your response to that question was: “As for why I feel I have the right to express my opinion when the Leveretts have already expressed a contrary opinion, I don’t think you really meant that as a serious question so I’ll just skip to the next one …”

    You must be a politician, Rev., you answered — rather, declined to answer — a different question from the one I asked. And the question I asked was, indeed, a serious question. I was NOT challenging your right to have an opinion, I was attempting to discern what knowledge and judgment you had that you considered superior to the knowledge and judgment the Leveretts applied to the matters at hand, inasmuch as you stated they may have been “sweet talked” by their contacts. I wanted to know if YOU had knowledge or contact with Iranian policymakers or influence shapers, and how you evaluated those interactions such that you were NOT misled by “sweet talk”. It was a serious question, and it remains on the table.

    Regarding the three links you provided, to Iran Press Service, to a video (a cartoon, really) produced by MEMRI, and to a Huffington Post item: the Iran Press Service is not the most solid source I would rely upon: Iranian expats in Paris are more likely than not to be monarchists and would tend to slant criticisms of the Islamic Republic. I do recall reading other, similar reports that Rafsanjani said that IF Israel attacks Iran, Iran will retaliate very harshly, and that Israel is so small that Iranian retaliation would do far more harm to tiny Israel than Israel could do to much larger Iran. Its pretty ugly, but it is a contingency statement, and a defensive statement, not a threat of aggressive or pre-emptive action such as Obama will issue today, or that US and Israel have uttered against Iran on far too numerous occasions.
    I tend to dismiss out-of-hand information purveyed by MEMRI. Please review the people who form MEMRI’s Board of Directors; they are the same names as those who write op-eds in LA Times and Washington Times, urging the US to bomb Iran. They do not have the best interest of the United States as their goal. That being said, though I did not watch the entire YouTube, it IS more likely than not true that the US and Israel are spying on Iran. Israel makes no secret that Mossad is operating somehow, somewhere in Iran; the US and Israel have Iran under constant satellite monitoring; the CIA has either kidnapped or ‘turned’ and Iranian scientist; the Bush administration budgeted $400 million to infiltrate Iran, and there’s no word that Obama has dismantled those efforts….

    Please permit me to break off at this point. I will continue this response later.

  248. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    P.S. However, I do look rather fetching in a mask and black cape….

    Scott

  249. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    To the contrary, I am not only happy to face facts but have been engaged in exchanging them with many in this discussion. (Indeed, I am still hoping to resume our discussion about supposed reformist support for the legitimacy of the election.) I suspect you’re far too shrewd, given your vocation, to believe that “in bed with the neo-cons” charge and are using it as a smoke screen.

    Reza, you don’t have to turn super-spy to track me down. My career is laid out across the Internet and in publications. Smacks of desperation to bring out that CIA LINE IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

    Scott

  250. Scott Lucas says:

    James,

    I had no time for the “neoconservative” approach to Iran during the Bush years and I have no time for it now. I have often criticised it on EA and will continue to do so.

    Carrying news and analysis about the current political and legal situation in Iran, and ensuring that news continues despite attempts to suppress it, is not the same as supporting the imposition of “democracy” from outside, especially by force.

    Iran’s future should be determined by Iranians.

    Best,

    Scott

  251. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    I think you’re grasping at some shaky straws to try and defend the WPO poll.

    Supporting good relations with the US and/or expressing dissatisfaction with the Government’s policies (e.g., economic policies) are not exactly out-of-bounds views inside view, given that such sentiments have been expressed not only by opposition and reformist politicians but also Rafsanjani, Ali Larijani,a wide range of “conservative” legislators, and much of the Iranian media.

    And some Iranians — despite the political atmosphere of August/Sept. — may have still tried to answer WPO’s questions honestly. The extrapolation is to claim, in those conditions, that all answered forthrightly. And once again, your answer tries to seal away this poll from context.

    (Reza, your answer is confused between pre-election polls, exit polls, and post-election polls, as well as oblivious to the political environment, so there’s little to engage with. I will go back, however, to the GlobeScan poll which — unlike the discredited WPO effort — deserves more attention.)

    Scott

  252. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Fiorangela Leone,

    I posted a detailed reply to you at the same time as my replies to Mr. Brill, but because I included a high number of links, in response to your request for sources that have influenced me, my reply to you was held up in moderation. I had assumed that it would shortly be available so I did not check again, but I see it seems to still be in moderation and you have asked again for this reply so I have posted it in a third party text space to make it available to you. I regret, however, you will have to copy and past the links in this plain text version if you wish to open them. The link is: http://sharetext.org/CDQZ

    You bring up an excellent point on the ethics of imposing democracy on countries by force. History has indeed shown that does not work, and it’s possible that some countries could have a lot of difficulty implementing democracy, for example if a large majority of the population is illiterate or nomadic. However, that is not the case in Iran, a nation whose people have been struggling to install democratic principles for over a century now.

    Iranians are highly educated and communicative, the most blogging nation of the MidEast, and Persian is one of the top 10 languages spoken online. We do not need to worry that the Iranian people would not be capable of the responsibilities of handling a democracy, such as informing themselves of current events, debating the issues, and making good judgment calls.

    Essentially it comes down to whether or not you believe these educated, communicative people truly are asking for democracy, or if such talk is a propaganda illusion, and Iranians are happy with the demonstrably nondemocratic system they now have. This is a judgment call each of us has to make on our own. In my humble opinion, there is too much evidence that Iranians want democracy for me to entertain the notion that all of the countless small, independent sources saying so are propagandists.

    I completely respect your right to disagree and believe instead the IRI explanation that this is only a few insignificant troublemakers using some sort of trickery to appear more widespread than they really are, and I only ask that you please do look into the significant human rights abuses going on in Iran, and simply be aware of those as you weigh the info and opinion you come across regarding the IRI.

  253. Iranian says:

    The problem is that these people (Scott Lucas, his angry friend,…) are not willing to face the facts. You can’t reason with them. They have an agenda and that has now made them bedfellows with the neo-cons.

  254. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Kathleen, thanks for the link and the call.

    there’s a discussion on Iran-rapprochement taking place on Amazon
    http://www.amazon.com/tag/history/forum/ref=cm_cd_et_up_redir?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx33HXI3XVZDC8G&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2MI40J0Y109GN&newContentID=Mx1VACC7T88BW6O#Mx1VACC7T88BW6O

    some interesting exchanges

  255. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela

    You got it; this is why we have new distinguished visitor scholars, asking us to ignore the pools and sentiments, etc.
    I had posted on the other tread that we may soon even see the likes of honorable first line offense trooper Michael Rubin pay us a visit.Will look forward to that, I am glad that Scott is hanging on with us. Exchange of ideas is always good.

  256. Fiorangela Leone says:

    The Leveretts must be doing something right if their blog has become the target of attempts to distract and derail dialogue advocating FOR US-Iran rapprochement.

  257. Kathleen says:

    Last Friday was able to get a plug in for the Leveretts view on Iran on the Diane Rehm show

    News Roundup 2nd hour

    My comment about the Leveretts at 38:02

    I was not able to ask my question.

    Where is the verifiable intelligence from more than one source that Iran is enriching uranium beyond what they are legally able as signatories of the NPT.

    Why not keep bringing up Israel should sign the very NPT agreement that they demand their neighbors abide by

    http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2010-04-02/news-roundup-hour-2

  258. Iranian@Iran says:

    Claims about repression and fear in Iran are highly exaggerated. It is largely green and western propaganda, just like the inflated numbers of people killed in the riots (the police officers and baseej volunteers don’t count as human beings to people like Scott Lucas and other new Cold Warriors). Any unbiased person who has been in Iran over the last few months would know that people on the streets, in taxis, at work, and on campuses freely criticize and attack the government. In any case, most of the polls were carried out before the elections.

  259. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @JAMES

    While I don’t have any thing to support this, I suspect Scott Lucas may well have ties to the CIA just as Professor Eric Hooglund, an adjunct professor at the university of Shiraz, clearly does. His expertise on Iran makes him a prime target for their covert intelligence gathering and propaganda activities.

    He is doing all that he can to discredit the Ahmadinejad government in a bid to reduce its regional influence….the CIA’s policy of “containment”.

    If anyone has a copy of Scott’s CV/resume please post it here. It may offer us some clues….I am off to watch the movie SPYGAME to get some ideas about what to look for.

    The name’s LUCAS…SCOTT LUCAS.

  260. Fiorangela Leone says:

    One of Lucas’s colleagues from EA has an astonishingly ignorant essay on HuffPo, which was in turn amplified with increasing ignorance on a large political/’liberal’ blog.

    First do no harm, Mr. Lucas. Ignorance is harmful. To give ignorance a forum is not that much different from poisoning a well.

  261. James Canning says:

    Eric A Brill,

    Interesting pst (5:02pm April 3rd). I doubt many Americans are aware that Mousavi got more than six times as many votes as Ahmadinejad, cast by Iranian expatriates.

    Scott Lucas,

    I’m trying to identify your precise point of view. Are you arguing that because Iran’s democracy is perhaps not the equal of Switzerland’s, neocon efforts to discredit the Iranian government (to set up a potential third war in the Middle East/South Asia), should be reinforced by your comments?

  262. Reza Esfandiari says:

    KALEH NADARI, SCOTT?

    Let’s dissect your arguments from ignorance:

    “There were a high number of refusals and of “Don’t Knows” in the WPO poll, probably because of the political tension you want to dismiss.”

    Only in the WPO poll of September was there a largish number of refusniks (27%).

    Whether this is a sign of self-censorship or privacy, 55% of respondents nonetheless said they voted for the incumbent.

    “The results weren’t “congruent” with the electoral outcome (if they were, it would be even more damaging to your case, since polls rarely match up with final results — “congruence” would raise suspicions of massaging the figures). But that’s tangential to the points I made earlier, which aren’t addressed in your post.”

    What? Polls rarely match up with final results????????

    What planet are you on??? In the USA, exit polls and post-election polls can be as accurate to a tenth of a percentage point!

    Take a look at the Globescan poll. This is a reputable Canadian research firm for crying out loud…are you saying they were working for the Iranian government and massaging the numbers??

    Its almost exactly the same as the official figures:

    Ahmadinejad: 56%
    Mousavi: 32%
    Rezai: 2%
    Karroubi:0%
    Refused: 10%

    “Personally, if I was in Iran in late August — weeks after nationally-televised mass trials and “confessions” denouncing Iranian contact with foreign groups — and a foreign organisation called my home, I might be a bit less than honest in my response. Personally, if I thought my phone was being tapped by security services, I would say very loudly that I thought the election was A-OK.”

    I don’t buy that at all. Mousavi was approved by the Guardians council to run. Why would people lie about who they voted for when when all they did was choose one of the approved candidates? There may be some questions which they might give a less than truthful reply, like what they thought of the Islamic system or of the SL, but not about who they voted for.

  263. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    11 polls were carried out by credible institutes both inside and outside Iran, no evidence has ever be produced to show fraud at any level, tens of millions of people rallied throughout the country on the anniversary of the Revolution…There is no debate. You, of course, will continue to be a mouthpiece of pro-western, wealthy, anti-democratic elitists. Perhaps you feel that you have no other option. You knew little about Iran, yet you pretended to be an expert. You had your 15 minutes of fame and now your lack of expertise has been revealed for all to see. You are on the side of a regime that is occupying two countries, has supported the invasion of Lebanon, and whose president not only supports Israeli racism but was silent as Israel slaughted people in Gaza and continues to make them suffer today. You may think of yourself as a fredom fighter, but others see you for what you really are.

  264. Dan Cooper says:

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has dismissed Obama’s “extended hand” approach to Iran as empty rhetoric, will “announce a new nuclear achievement” on Friday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, told ISNA news agency. He gave no details.

    Iran `still ready to negotiate solution to nuclear stand-off`

    “We told them that you are not honest and it seems like you do not want to provide (us) with the fuel and you are cheating,” he said, according to Alalam’s website.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1160968.html

  265. Scott,

    “Personally, if I was in Iran in late August — weeks after nationally-televised mass trials and “confessions” denouncing Iranian contact with foreign groups — and a foreign organisation called my home, I might be a bit less than honest in my response. Personally, if I thought my phone was being tapped by security services, I would say very loudly that I thought the election was A-OK.”

    Would you have been reluctant to say you believed the Supreme Leader had too much power? That you favored better relations with the United States?

    Roughly one in six of the respondents said “yes” to both questions. More than half (as I recall — I haven’t looked back at the poll, I’ll confess) said they were dissatisfied with their present system of government.

    Not ideal responses if one is indeed worried about a knock on one’s door in the middle of the night.

    Another good thing NOT to do if one has that worry is to march through downtown Tehran during the Muslim holiday of Ashura, setting police vehicles on fire and chanting “Death to the Leader.” But protesters did just that on December 27, 2009. Many of them. None of them wore masks, or otherwise tried to hide their faces, in the photos and videos I’ve seen.

    I certainly don’t claim to know how repressive the Iranian government is, and I do not condone any form of brutality or unfair treatment. I emphasize that. But I must note that protesters at least do not hesitate to take the actions I just described. Perhaps the dozens of young protesters shown in those videos are all in prison now, or dead. I don’t know. I do know there were quite a number of them, and they made no effort to hide their faces. That’s all I know, but it did make an impression on me.

  266. Rev. Magdalen,

    My use of “liberal” was not meant to apply to anyone, including the Leveretts, in the present-day US (or anywhere else today). It was meant to apply to the well-educated, generally secular, politically active, non-radical, generally well-off, not terribly religious, dissatisfied-with-the-Shah group of Iranians that Dr. Kurzman was describing in his book. (Indeed, I’m not entirely sure Dr. Kurzman used the term “liberal,” but I’m confident he’d agree with my description of the group’s general characteristics, and probably would agree that that label would work as well as any other).

  267. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rev. Magdalen, please pardon me for intruding in your conversation with Eric, in which you wrote:

    “I agree entirely with you that the question of whether the overall Iranian political system is democratic is an important question, though that question ought to be raised as well for other countries.” I refer you to my previous comments regarding the “Johnny did it too” defense. Each country is independently responsible for pursuing democracy, regardless of what other countries do. ”

    If, indeed, “Each country is independently responsible for pursuing democracy,” doesn’t that presuppose a consonant right to exercise free choice, a democratic principle? If so, by what right or mandate may country A impose democracy on country B? Wouldn’t that be a violation of Country B’s right to “independently” pursue democracy?

    How can one logically impose freedom of choice on another?

    nb. I read your explanation to Eric that you prefer to respond to questions one at a time, so I will patiently await your response to my questions of April 3 at 6:22 pm.

  268. Scott Lucas says:

    Apologies — the last two paragraphs of my reply to Reza on polls are from his original post and not from the column by Persian Umpire!

  269. Scott Lucas says:

    @Reza,

    I had no interest in “300″ — not my type of film — and Victor Davis Hanson is a pundit who is best ignored (and, fortunately, appears to be receding from US public view, except for a fringe following). I would much prefer to consider a text like Satrapi’s “Persepolis”, which I think is far more interesting and has had more cultural resonance in the US.

    But, as we’re discussing film, here is some news I noted — a letter from the wife of Iranian director Jafar Panahi, detained on 1 March:

    “After a whole month in limbo, we were finally able to meet Jafar. I found him very pale, thin, and weak. Though he didn’t like to worry us and talk about his psychological and physical condition, through his words we found out that he has been moved from his previous cell to a smaller cell, or I’d better say a smaller crypt.

    In his old cell he had enough space to spend some time daily on exercising, but in his new cell with a cellmate this is no longer possible, as there is only space for two people to sleep in the cell and there is no room for moving around. Also, since he was arrested a month ago, he has not been allowed to go to the prison yard for fresh air (and it has happened that he has stayed in his cell for 7-8 days without seeing anyone).

    Every possible way has been used for breaking his spirit. He is deprived of his basic and legal rights. Can all of this be called anything but torture? Does a regime have he right to treat one of its artistic elite so shamefully and inhumanely on the basis of a film that has not yet been made?

    During a phone call, they allowed me to take him fruits, nuts, and cookies for Nowruz [New Year], but when I went to see him, they wouldn’t let me give the items to him and only allowed me to give him some money. Jafar said he has never gone to the prison store during this time and, as such, it makes no difference to him whether he has money or not.

    Though he has been strong in his interrogations and has not bowed to his interrogators, maintaining a good spirit, his face and words brim with sadness. During our meeting, for a moment, Jafar put his hand on his chest and his face contorted. Soulmaz [their daughter] and Jafar’s mother were there, so I couldn’t ask him about it.

    In the past, twice he has suffered severe chest spasms and has been moved to emergency room. [Back then] his physician said the reason for the spasms was psychological and a result of his work-related problems, advising us that a continuation of this condition is dangerous and could lead to a heart attack. Aside from his holding crypt and the lengthy interrogation, I am really worried about Jafar’s physical condition. I hope all prisoners are released.”

    Best wishes,

    Scott

  270. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    There were a high number of refusals and of “Don’t Knows” in the WPO poll, probably because of the political tension you want to dismiss.

    The results weren’t “congruent” with the electoral outcome (if they were, it would be even more damaging to your case, since polls rarely match up with final results — “congruence” would raise suspicions of massaging the figures). But that’s tangential to the points I made earlier, which aren’t addressed in your post.

    Personally, if I was in Iran in late August — weeks after nationally-televised mass trials and “confessions” denouncing Iranian contact with foreign groups — and a foreign organisation called my home, I might be a bit less than honest in my response. Personally, if I thought my phone was being tapped by security services, I would say very loudly that I thought the election was A-OK.

    I leave it to the Iran-based blogger Persian Umpire, in an October 2009 column “Fear Factor”, to make the case with a bit of humour….

    I wanted to mention the report by worldpublicopinion.org when it was first published but didn’t get a chance. Since it was referred to by Mr. Marandi – considered by many here to be on the academic front of the mouthpiece industry – in a CNN discussion on Sunday, it might be a good time to revisit the topic. The report stirred up controversy here, causing us much vexation and digestive upset.

    In all honesty, I don’t know anything about polls and statistics, I am even forgetting my basic math, but to accept the results of this poll is tantamount to believing that the post-election chaos, on the streets and in the corridors of politics, must have only been a figment of our imaginations.

    I don’t want to hurt their feelings, so let’s give worldpublicopinion.org A+ for effort. As for publishing the results of the effort, maybe they should have considered the health hazards and slept on it. So, they left me with no choice but to correct parts of the poll and repeat it. Unlike the original survey, the refusal rate for this one was a little less than 52%, so you can take this as solid information.

    How much confidence do you have in US President Barack Obama to do the right thing regarding world affairs?

    I found the answer consistent with the WPO report: 16%. Then last night I asked myself the question and didn’t get a wink of sleep. I got on the internet to find out what “World Affairs” really meant.

    Six hours later, I realized I wasn’t any wiser. After perusing the 38,700,000 results and getting familiar with terms such as “socioeconomic”, “geopolitical”, “interdependence”, “trade”, “foreign policy”, “global economy” and many more, I think I have to refine the question and call all those people again. In fact the question may need to be broken down, because I spent another six hours thinking about “doing the right thing”, which led me to concepts like “ethics”, “political philosophy”, “interests”, “utilitarianism”, and “eye of the beholder”.

    In light of this development, I decided to leave the foreign stuff until I can further specify what I am asking these people.

    Considering everything that has occurred before, during and after the elections, do you consider Ahmadinejad to be the legitimate president of Iran?

    Of the 50% who answered the question, 12.5% said they belonged to either the Basij or the Sepah, and 87.5% said “considering everything that has occurred before, during and especially after the elections” they are willing to consider Ahmadinejad as higher than president if he wanted them. Hence, in post-weighing procedures I up-weighed this group and added the excess to the refusals. So the total for this question should really be “yes”.

    Note: one respondent misunderstood “legitimate” as the opposite of “bastard” for which he is in trouble as his phone was wiretapped.

    In general, how satisfied are you with the process by which the authorities are elected in this country?

    Now this question in the report was very interesting to me, but I thought it required further probing. Here, I initially got the same numbers: a very large majority (81%) said they are satisfied with the general process, though only 40% said they were very satisfied. Sixteen percent said they are not satisfied. But when respondents were asked if they were very very satisfied, 20% said they were, and then only 10% said they were very very very satisfied.

    My assistants are still on the phone with this question, incrementally adding a “very”. I will publish the results once the question is over.

    In Iran how free do you think people are to express controversial political views, without fear of being harassed or punished?

    To me this question should have been binary. Free, or not free. Combining “how free” with “without fear” was just confusing. Let us look at the response with a 71% rating in the WPO report: “I am somewhat free to express, without fear.” Perhaps it is just me, but I don’t understand what this phrase means. I can handle “I am free to express without fear”, or the opposite “I am not free to express without fear.” I can also process “I am somewhat free to express” and its opposite. Let me say it another way: I am either free of fear to say something, or not. I cannot be “somewhat” free of that fear.

    Before going insane, I decided to rephrase the question:

    Do you agree with Mr. Ahmadinejad that Iranians have “almost complete freedom”?

    Lo and behold, 100% said “yes”.

    Are you comfortable answering silly political questions over the phone in Iran?

    I squeezed in this last but essential question to assess the reliability of my survey. 14% refused to answer because they were offended, 5% said they were comfortable, 50% said they were not comfortable and 31% responded with a single tut. I marked them as “freaked out and afraid even to say so”.

    It is simply not an argument to dismiss the findings of the 3 independent polls of the Iranian public because there was “political tension” at the time. There was no one pointing a gun at the respondents – they didn’t have to agree to participate in the survey or to answer all of the questions, let alone to lie.

    The results of all 3 are congruent with the official figures for ALL 4 CANDIDATES, as well as for turnout. That makes them very compelling evidence.

  271. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    It is simply not an argument to dismiss the findings of the 3 independent polls of the Iranian public because there was “political tension” at the time. There was no one pointing a gun at the respondents – they didn’t have to agree to participate in the survey or to answer all of the questions, let alone to lie.

    The results of all 3 are congruent with the official figures for ALL 4 CANDIDATES, as well as for turnout. That makes them very compelling evidence.

    You claim not to be an orientalist, racist or western supremacist. Do you agree with myself ,and I would think all the Iranians on this forum, in condemning the movie “300″ as a particularly nasty piece of anti-Iranian propaganda, disparaging what most of us regard as a glorious past and depicting Persians as monsters (literally). Scholars close to the the Bush administration, such as Victor Hanson, praised the movie but a few also spoke out against it. I didn’t notice your comments at the time.

  272. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    The problem is that you are quite an Orientalist yourself.

  273. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Rezam,

    Many thanks for the opportunity to read your article on Orientalism and the Western Approach to Iran. I found much common ground between us, as well as with Dr Marandi, who takes a similar approach in his academic work and political commentary.

    I am a great admirer of Said’s work, and I think Orientalism is using in explaining aspects of US political culture and foreign policy. It lies underneath work such as Huntington’s clash of civilizations and Lewis’ representations of Islam and underpins approaches such as the US policy on Israel and Arab States.

    I would add three provisos:

    1. Orientalism offers a general framework but it is too sweeping to say that it determines all cases. For example, in the current approach to Iran, there is a major debate within Washington circles between those who want to take an aggressive approach against Iran and those who advocate a “grand settlement” with Tehran — the latter include not only the Leveretts but also former officials such as Robert Hunter and scholars such as Juan Cole.

    2. A focus on Orientalism should not be exclusive, failing to note that there may be constructions of the “West” (Occidentalism) which also affect foreign policy. Any consideration of US-Iran relations has to consider Iranian perceptions of “America” as well as American perceptions of Iran.

    3. Most importantly, Orientalism should not be used as a pretext to decline any engagement with political, legal, and social issues beyond that conception. For example, consideration of issues in Iran should not be met solely on the basis of a declared “foreign intervention/manipulation/construction”.

    Speaking truth to power should not be limited to speaking truth to American power.

    Best wishes,

    Scott

  274. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill

    I prefer to read and reply to posts one by one, so I did not see your second post to me on candidate pre-selection and miscellaneous details of Iranian history when I first replied to you. Thank you for refreshing my memory of those events and contributing your perspective. I regret I am unable to fathom the connection to candidate pre-selection, but your use of the word “Liberal” did remind me of something that has been bothering me for over nine months now.

    Prior to the 2009 Iranian elections I had never heard of the Leveretts as far as I can recall. Of course by now I have researched them and familiarized myself with their recent analysis regarding the current situation in Iran. I read everything they write, and read transcripts of their appearances. I am always surprised to note that they are frequently introduced as “leftist” or “liberal”, apparently because they advocate not immediately bombing Iran and instead making business deals with the current leaders.

    This troubles me because I am a Liberal, and my understanding of my political principles is that it is my duty to stand with the people asking for their civil rights, and not the people beating them with batons, even if, as the World Socialists insist, the boss of the baton wielders has given out many free tractors and potatoes, or even if, as the Leveretts insist, the boss wants to be friends with America. I hope the press can find another term to describe the political position of the Leveretts to reflect this distinction, though I have no idea what it would be, likely a new term should be coined.

  275. Rev. Magdalen says:

    Eric A. Brill

    Thank you for your thorough reply and for bringing my attention to the sections of your report that you found pertinent to the question of whether or not Iran has democracy.

    You said “I agree entirely with you that the question of whether the overall Iranian political system is democratic is an important question, though that question ought to be raised as well for other countries.” I refer you to my previous comments regarding the “Johnny did it too” defense. Each country is independently responsible for pursuing democracy, regardless of what other countries do.

    You worried that, “Though true democracy clearly calls for it, I’m not sure that an election with dozens of candidates would really be best for the people of Iran or any other country.”

    I myself am very relieved that true democracy means that no single person, even one as clever and dedicated as yourself, has the right to impose what he thinks would be best, instead of the thoroughly hammered out and time-tested principles of true democracy. With all due respect, I will stick with those ancient principles, although you do make a good point. Too many candidates can really create a problem; people should learn to put aside small differences and work together with others who share their main values.

    You drew the comparison: “One also wonders whether Al Gore, in 2000, might have been willing to set aside his unquestioned love of democracy for just a day in order to exclude Ralph Nader from the Florida ballot. Many of his supporters were.” I can assure you, as a person who proto-liveblogged the 2000 election over IRC and Usenet, I followed every development of the election in detail, and this statement makes no sense whatsoever. I cannot actually even tell what it is meant to imply, no doubt due to my ignorance of sophisticated political intrigue.

    In conclusion, you summed up, “Insistence that the Guardian Council should have approved more reform candidates brings to mind the old saying: “Be careful what you ask for.” I am not sure if that was meant to be included in your reply to me, perhaps you mistakenly pasted to the wrong user. At no point did I ever suggest the Guardian Council should approve more candidates.

    I am of the opinion that having any sort of vetting council to preselect candidates in any way is the complete opposite of everything democracy stands for. It doesn’t matter what number of candidates the Guardian Council allows, because its very existence is a fatal error for democracy. All citizens must be free to offer themselves to the nation as civil servants, and be selected for office only by the choice of their peers in an atmosphere of free and robust debate.

    In case you’ve read somewhere that that is not the case in America, I can assure you we have many, many candidates for nearly every election who would never pass any sort of serious inspection by any reasonable people, and sometimes they even get elected and do incredibly crazy things while in office. Then we have to kick them out and hold a special election. Democracy is a messy business, but we like it. Most people do. I’ve found that if you give people a free choice, and then ask them, “Would you like to have free choice or would you like someone else to decide for you?” they generally choose having free choice.

  276. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    The WPO poll was a bad poll in the way it was conducted at a time of political tension within Iran. Full stop.

    The pre-election Tehran University polls may have been most excellent surveys. There is almost no way to tell, however, because their methodology and even results were not published at the time. Indeed, they only surfaced in January when a PR event was held to re-promote the WPO poll, although there was nothing new to report.

    Scott

  277. kooshy says:

    Reza
    “3 of the 4 presidential candidates were from ethnic minorities (Azeri, Lor and Bakhtiyari). This made Ahmadinejad the only Persian candidate on the ballot and it is no surprise that he did so well in the Persian heartland of Iran.”

    Reza I truly do not believe ethnicity had anything to do for the votes Ahmadinijad revived in the election, except in the Baluchistan. It was all about a vigorous well-prepared grass root campaign, with a final touch of Roveian debates that nailed the outcome for Ahmadinijad.

    No one knew or remembered Mousavi, he had a poor planed campaign that only went to few large cities, his programs were not well explained, his programs papers was not even published till couple of weeks before the election. Worst of all he got himself associated to Rafsanjani (he needed to be founded), everywhere in Iran wrong, or right he is the doyen of corruption. After all, he had a real poor performance in his debate ill prepared for a vigorous debater like Ahmadinijad, whom heroically seats and debates every western reporter on the horizon. Therefore, it was obvious from the set go Ahmadinijad will win, what that was not known to the reformers
    was, how much the system, and Ayatollah Kahamenie is willing to tolerate their known tactic of Pressure from Bellow Negotiation on the Top.
    Ayatollah Khomeini’s first Friday prayer speech made it clear that the greens have gone too far by denouncing the GC, now they are questioning the constitution.

    I completely support and agree with Mr. Khameni’s stand in that point, this was a red line too far to cross. This exact point was the precise aim of the foreigners’ agenda for a color revolution. If he had budged at that point for sure, they could not stop what would have fallowed. I am glad for a good call by him.

  278. Dan Cooper says:

    The Israeli regime plans to send its top military strategist to China this week to convince Beijing to back sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.

    Head of Tel Aviv army’s planning directorate Major General Amir Eshel intends to serve Beijing with ‘renewed’ threats of military strikes against Iran, wishing to persuade China to follow along with the US-led push at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, British weekly newspaper The Sunday Times reported today.

    According to the weekly, a subsidiary of the multi-national press conglomerate The News Corporation owned by Jewish media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Eshel will warn officials in Beijing that an Israeli military attack on Iran could disrupt oil supplies to China and its rapidly.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=122430&sectionid=351020104

  279. Dan Cooper says:

    Ahmadinejad condemned Israel’s continued crimes in Palestine and Lebanon, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime is the sole obstacle to the establishment of peace and security in the region.

    He dismissed US accusations regarding an “Iranian intention to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels,” adding such claims are highly ironic coming from countries which possess and continue to develop vast nuclear arsenals that have been tested and even used in military confrontations.

    Under international law, Ahmadinejad said, Western countries are obliged to provide Iran — without out preconditions — with the specified amount of fuel it requires for the Tehran research reactor, which plays the vital role of producing medical isotopes.

    Due to their refusal, Ahmadinejad continued, Iran reserves the right to domestically enrich uranium up to 20 percent in order to meet the demands of thousands of Iranian patients, who desperately need post-surgery drug treatment with nuclear medicine.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=122339§ionid=351020101

  280. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Is SCOTT LUCAS claiming what I think he is claiming?

    “2) “multiple polls” which turn out to be the even shakier WPO September 2009 survey and the University of Tehran polls that suddenly turned up seven months after they were supposedly compiled; 3) the Leveretts’ assertions, which in fact rely on 1) and 2).”

    That would appear to insinuate that the Tehran university polls were cooked up because they were not published immediately….this coming from an “adjunct professor” of the university!

    Let’s just see what the 3 independent polls gave.

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brmiddleeastnafricara/652.php?lb=brme&pnt=652&nid=&id=

    ——————————————————————–

    GLOBESCAN (June 19-24, 2009)

    Did you vote?

    86% YES (85% officially)

    Who did you vote for?

    AHMADINEJAD:56% (62% officially)
    MOUSAVI: 32% (34% officially)
    REZAI: 2% (2% officially)
    KARROUBI:0% (1% officially)
    REFUSED/NA: 10%

    ————————————————-

    WORLD PUBLIC OPINION (August 27-September 10, 2009)

    Did you vote?

    87% YES (85% officially)

    Who did you vote for?

    AHMADINEJAD:55% (62% officially)
    MOUSAVI: 14% (34% officially)
    REZAI: 3% (2% officially)
    KARROUBI:1% (1% officially)
    REFUSED/NA: 27%

    ————————————————-

    UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN (June 18-25)

    Did you vote?

    89% YES (85% officially)

    Who did you vote for?

    AHMADINEJAD:61% (62% officially)
    MOUSAVI: 30% (34% officially)
    REZAI: 2% (2% officially)
    KARROUBI:0% (1% officially)
    REFUSED/NA: 7%

    Now, does anyone see these as “shaky” in any way…I see them as “compelling and consistent evidence of an authentic outcome”.

  281. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Pirouz,

    I think it’s fair to say that “objectivity” lies in the eyes of the beholder. Your assertion that we have clarity beyond doubt rests on 1) a “thoroughly investigated” election which rests on 1) a very shaky (in process and in its selection of evidence) Guardian Council report which has not been accepted by all opposition candidates, many leading politicians, and senior clerics as well as activists; 2) “multiple polls” which turn out to be the even shakier WPO September 2009 survey and the University of Tehran polls that suddenly turned up seven months after they were supposedly compiled; 3) the Leveretts’ assertions, which in fact rely on 1) and 2).

    But you’re on firmer ground when you argue that “legitimacy” depends on “a specific audience” which has to find the post-election Government “relevant”. That’s an important point which takes us beyond 12 June. Significant sections of the Iranian public have not accepted this Government or challenged its authority on judicial and legal issues, Constitutional matters, and economic policy as well as its political claims.

    That’s why the Government continues to keep hundreds, if not thousands, of post-election detainees in prison without charge or with lengthy sentences imposed with little or no evidence (or, in other cases, to allow release on bail on strict condition that the detainee not utter a word of criticism or political comment). To let those people go free would risk the escalation of public challenge.

    Throwing out the line — you’re biased; we’re not — is the Emperor’s New Clothes in the face of such post-election realities.

    Best wishes,

    Scott

  282. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Thank you for the link to your article. I look forward to reading it and will respond tomorrow.

    Scott

  283. Pirouz says:

    “I have argued that it was not transparent and thus the process has raised persistent questions over the legitimacy of the Government.”–Scott Lucas

    Well, the issue of transparency has been clarified to the point where it must be conceded, the June 2009 election was more thoroughly investigated and analyzed than perhaps any other in Iranian history.

    And the question of legitimacy actually refers to a specific audience- does it not? The relevant questions which should be asked are 1) Does this audience constitute a majority or a vocal minority? 2) Is this audience actually relevant to the ongoing workings of the IRI government? 3) Has this audience decreased in scope over the past nine months?

    These questions (and more) the Leveretts have addressed, as have multiple polls.

    Scott, you can continue to beat the drum of legitimacy all you like, but like America after its election in 2000, actual relevancy becomes the greater issue.

    I submit that many in the West got so caught up in the moment that they overextended their expectations of the GM, and in so doing lost all sense of objectivity. As such, their forthcoming analyses are biased and flawed, to the point where they are unreliable. Scott, you appear to fit neatly into this category.

  284. Kooshy,

    Thanks for the Yazd link.

    Eric

  285. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @KOOSHA

    Don’t forget that Ayatollah Khamenei’s father is an Azeri Turk (from the same village as Mousavi) and his mother is from Yazd.

    3 of the 4 presidential candidates were from ethnic minorities (Azeri, Lor and Bakhtiyari). This made Ahmadinejad the only Persian candidate on the ballot and it is no surprise that he did so well in the Persian heartland of Iran.

    I agree with you that the improvements in the country’s infrastructure have been incredible over the last 4 years. My family is from the Delijan-Tafresh area near Arak, and its obvious that people have facilities now they didn’t have in the past.

    But the people of Shemiranat and Vanak think that all the government money, and all the votes, should go to them.

  286. kooshy says:

    Reza

    “I think most people, myself included, expected Mousavi to do better and Ahmadinejad to do worse. What was surprising was not so much the margin of victory, as the 24 million votes the incumbent received. But we forget that this man has been in “campaign mode” for the last 4 years, touring every district across the country, and an official election campaign lasting just 3 weeks was hardly going to cause an upset.”

    Reza, last April I circled and crossed the central parts of Iran for over a week, south to Yazd east to Semnan and west to Hamadan, we did not visit or even stopped in large cities, just small villages and towns, and no highways just rural roads. On this trip I accompanied, two well-known Iridologist scholars, who have traveled every corner of Iran in last 70 years, both emeritus past professors of UT department of History, with us was also a, US practicing Azeri Iranian medical doctor.

    In my opinion, its notable to notice that the social structure of villages in Iran are completely changed, this is mostly due to new roads, TV, land lines, cell phone, water, health clinics and electricity, above all the working young are more likely working in the cities. Girls not only are going to school but they are dormed and bossed away from home if their village does not poses a high school, and that is cool with their elder parents something that was unthinkable back in 70’s at our summer house village near Gachsar just 2 hours north of Tehran.

    Coming back from the trip, I knew that Ahmadinijad will win the coming summer election, with large margins, nearly everyone I meet, some old villagers and farmers were going to vote for the first time. All this because Ahmadinijad had personally showed up in the village, or had sent one of his ministers and promised to build or do something for them. I got the sense that he recognized a silent majority, which in past, was not considered in the Iran politics, as we knew it. I personally believe he has changed the Iran’s political dynamic forever. Mr. Khatami being a Yazdi realized the dynamics early on and pulled back; guess what, he sent in the Turk and Mousavi still cannot believe it.

    Reza sorry if you are Turk no intention to insult just the usual hummer, any relations to Dr. Kaveh Esfandiari

    My regards

  287. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Scott, thank you for the link.

    Eric, No, Rev. Magellen has not responded to my questions.

    Came across two items of interest: WSJ reported yesterday that valves used in uranium enrichment are being shipped to Iran, in violation of sanctions. US Treasury dept will investigate. http online dot wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303450704575160242131138472.html?KEYWORDS=iran

    my thoughts: 1. US machine makers used to make those parts.
    2. Does anyone else find it ludicrous that we are paying our government (Treasury Dept/Stuart Levey) to BLOCK the shipment of goods and services to a country that supplies a vital commodity that the world needs, thereby increasing the cost of that commodity to Americans, while simultaneously denying unemployed Americans the opportunity to compete in manufacturing those goods and services to a young and dynamic market?

    second item: Avner Cohen has written an op ed, published in Haaretz (I saw it on CASMII’s site www dot campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/9727) about Israel’s incoherent and simplistic nuclear policy and Israel’s fulminations about Iran. iirc, Ian Lustick named Avner Cohen as one Israeli who was forced to flee to the US from Israel because he researched Israel’s nuclear program. In Israel, Lustick explained, mention of the “third temple” is strictly forbidden; it is the only offense for which Jewish Israelis can be punished as harshly as Arab Israelis (www dot edmaysproductions.net/webvideo/irannuke.wmv )

  288. Kamran,

    Was it you who posted the link on Yazd for Fiorangela? If so, would you mind reposting it? Thank you.

    Eric

  289. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS

    I think you ought to read my article in Al-Jazeera magazine of last year.

    http://aljazeera.com/news/articles/39/Dealing-with-Iran.html

    It helps explain where I am coming from.

  290. Kamran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    We all see your double standards.

  291. Eric A. Brill says:

    Fiorangela,

    You had asked Rev. Magellan:

    “What is your source for this information? It’s a very serious charge; please share with us the evidence so that we can share your concern and throw our weight behind righting this wrong, if it is warranted.”

    Did Rev. Magellan ever respond?

  292. Scott Lucas says:

    Liz,

    When you have looked at the news and analysis on the site — we pay a great deal of attention to Gaza and were one of the few outlets to LiveBlog the Gaza War in 2008/9 — get back to me.

    Scott

  293. Scott Lucas says:

    Kooshy,

    Thank you. The logo is meant to raise questions about what “America” is — note also the bottletop — rather than an endorsement of the Pentagon or an America is Right position.

    Scott

  294. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    All of your information is one-sided and biased. You assume whatever your green friends and green websites state to be true, despite the fact that they’ve been proven to be dishonest time and time again. You should stick to American and Canadian studies. However, it seems that you can’t be trusted on that front either. Obama was silent on Gaza when Israel was slaughtering people and you have the audacity to say that Iran is carrying out crimes against humanity!

  295. kooshy says:

    Scott

    Beside the name change, you may also want to, reconsider that pentagon shape Logo you have on the site,
    god forbid some may think that you are part of the “Department of Disney” and connected to magical world.

    Good luck

  296. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Fiorangela,

    The blog is Enduring America (soon to be renamed EA WorldView): http://www.enduringamerica.com.

    Scott

  297. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Thank you very much — I did not know about the Buddhi case. Am beginning to look into it, including a search for court records, but would be grateful for any links you have available.

    Scott

  298. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Iranian @ Iran, with respect, I think the statements you cite should be attributed to Rev Magdalen.

    Scott Lucas, do you have a web-site or blog of your own?

  299. Reza Esfandiari says:

    SCOTT.

    Simple question: Do you think the US government is illegitimate over the arrest and continuing detention of VIKRAM BUDDHI (not to mention Guantanomo and Abu Ghraib)?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikram_Buddhi

    I emailed Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) about Mr Buddhi’s case – I asked why CPJ was so engrossed with the situation in Iran but not with American bloggers marched off to jail by the FBI and CENTCOM for opposing the “War on Terror” and “jeopardising national security”. He declined to comment.

  300. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza,

    Simple repetition of your assertions are not responses in a discussion, even if you put them in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

    Pejoratives like “mealy-mouthed”, rather than addressing the points I have set out in response to Eric’s work and comments, are no more than shouting in an echo chamber.

    Yours,

    Scott

  301. Reza Esfandiari says:

    These are SCOTT LUCAS’ mealy-mouthed words:

    “I have argued that(the election) it was not transparent and thus the process has raised persistent questions over the legitimacy of the Government.”

    Nonsense. The election was monitored by candidate representatives, as well as those from the Interior Ministry, Guardians council and the judiciary’s national inspectorate.

    The results of all 45,632 ballot boxes were made known FOR THE FIRST TIME in Iran’s electoral history. You don’t get more transparent than that. A Partial recount of 10% of those ballot boxes was also conducted as well as an investigation into the various claims of fraud.

    As Eric has pointed out to you, repeatedly, this makes looking for any fraud dead easy – also, if Mousavi really wanted, the handrwriting and fingerprints of all 40 million voters are on the stubs of the ballots.

    Why can’t you just admit that you were wrong and concede that , while some may well question the legitimacy of the election (including my own cousin living in Tehran), they are just an embittered minority and sore losers?

  302. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian@Iran,

    An example of the information from inside Iran that comes to us:

    “Last week the family of detained journalist Emaduddin Baghi met him at Evin prison. He is suffering from “exacerbation of his respiratory disease”. On the first day of Nowruz (Persian New Year) on the 20th March, Emad had been moved to hospital thanks to another heart attack. After a few hours in hospital that night, he was transferred to his solitary confinement.

    According to his wife, “prison authorities are well aware of his medical history and ill health, but take no consideration of it”. She also maintained that interrogation branches of the Revolutionary Court have been transferred to Evin Prison which has made it “impossible” for the defense attorneys “to access their clients’ files”.

    Meanwhile, the security agents invaded Emad’s home and insulted his family and beat Mr. Ghochani (his son-in-law).”

    Best,

    Scott

  303. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Reza, Iranian@Iran,

    Almost all of my information, and that posted on EA, comes from reliable sources inside Iran.

    And if you’re going to be bitter-mouthed, at least get my argument straight: I have never claimed, here or on EA, that the election was stolen. I have argued that it was not transparent and thus the process has raised persistent questions over the legitimacy of the Government.

    Iranian@Iran, your last post should go to Rev. Magdalen, who made both of the statements you quote.

    Best wishes,

    Scott

  304. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    You said:
    “I don’t accuse the Leveretts of deliberately misleading people, but I think it’s possible that even though they are highly intelligent scholars, they may be deceived themselves by Iranian contacts who deliberately sweet-talk them with promises of international friendship that the actual decision-makers may have no intention of honoring. ”

    Do you mean your “old friend” Professor Marandi? You are quite a hypocrite, aren’t you? In any case, the Leveretts have a great more experience that you do and they have actually worked on Iran and they have recently been to Iran.

    You also said:
    “There are serious crimes against humanity being committed in Iran right now, and to suggest that the United States ought to look the other way and make nice to the regime committing those crimes, ”

    Crimes against humanity? Are you in charge of propaganda now? Perhaps you meant England, the US, and Israel? Perhaps you were thinking about Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, theWest Bank, and Gazza?

  305. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Scott. This is really pathetic to claim that an election is invalid because your preferred candidate didn’t win and that you are frustrated and disappointed as a result.

    A principle of democracy is accepting the will of the majority.

    It is obvious that you would be happy to impose a minority-based tyranny on the Iranian nation.

    Now, make up your mind:

    Was the election stolen or not? If not, the current government is legitimate..end of story.

  306. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    How do you know? Have you been in Iran since the elections? The overwhelming majority of Iranians believe that the results were valid and it is only obsessed foreigners like you as well as a group of extremists in Iran who say otherwise. Most of those who voted for Mousavi gradually saw that he had no evidence and they do not accept your claims. You can go on claiming whatever you like. I’m sure you are making some people in DC happy.

  307. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Kooshy,

    I share with you the perception that there was great, perhaps unprecedented, excitement and enthusiasm over the June Presidential elections. I can recall the images of thousands of Iranians watching big-screen coverage of the debates and of mass rallies for all candidates. An 85% turnout reflected the hope and enthusiasm that the Republic was opening up a political space for all Iranians to make their voices heard.

    However, I think that may have made the disappointment, frustration, and even anger greater in the days after the election. If many in that 85% feel that their participation was minimised or dismissed because of the process on 12/13 June, then the promise of the Republic and democracy is dashed. And, in some ways, wouldn’t that be a greater disappointment than never having had the hope of participation?

    In short, I think that 85% figure can be used by regime defenders to claim Iran fulfilled the promise of democracy. It can be used by others to demand to this day, “Where is My Vote?”

    Thank you for the link, which I look forward to viewing, as Dr Marandi is an old friend of mine.

    Have a wonderful Sizdeh Bedar.

    Scott

  308. kooshy says:

    Scott

    Since the last June elections, I have read a few dozen reports and analysis about the election by Iranian and non-Iranian analyst, like yourself.
    What substantially is missing in majority of this last June’s presidential election analysis is, that no one is focusing or willing to mention, there really was a fifth candidate that took all the votes from nearly 85% of all the eligible voters of Iran, that is the regime itself, the current Iran’s form of government, that currently is represented by the supreme leader.
    I have not yet seen anybody debating that election; we may argue for months that the vetting system is undemocratic and unfair,however, there was no vetting system for the regime itself, folks that had problem accepting the regime should not have bothered to participate in the election and apparently just 15% did not, a far less than any US or UK elections. If I remember correctly, you and I do not participate in US elections, perhaps because we do not agree with the way elections, are conducted here. Nerveless a weaken 50-55 percent form of democracy is in place and is governing.

    One of the Green movement / Reformist fundamental mistakes, that substantially weaken their position, was none other than Mr. Khatami’s call for a referendum.
    Like me, Mr. Khatami is from Yazd, I know for fact that because of this wrong call his favorable standing there has been substantially weaken, in his home province and one the only provinces that Mr. Mosavie won because of him. Therefore calling for a referendum on the legitimacy of the regime by the greens and in particular by Mr. khatami was ill advised since nearly 85% participated to vote for the regime.

    Now the question in this forum is, if the US, does accept the democratically chosen form of Iran’s current government, which just recently got votes of 85% of eligible voters of the country, a far bigger percentage that what Mr. Obama and Mc Cain could have attracted in their election,. If it does then as Fiorangela said it is none of their business who is in charge of the government in Iran.

    Regarding the new media and reporting
    “At the same time, there is the emergence of a media culture — whether it is called alternative media, social media, or new media — which both challenges and goes beyond the “mainstream”. I’m proud that EA is part of that culture.”
    I totally agree with you that, internet and bloggers/ occasional reporters like us in a few more years, will make the likes of BBC, Reuters, AP, CNN, FOX or NYT totally irrelevant. I have stopped reading or viewing, the western press since without needing to read, I know what likes of David Sanger or Roger Cohen will report, for me they are already irrelevant.

    Dr. Marandi has made a very interesting live interview in Persian with internet questioners, The main topic is western media, in Alef.ir web site, here is the link http://alef.ir/1388/content/view/67031/
    Sorry I did not have time to translate tomorrow is LA’s Sizdeh Bedar

  309. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rev Magdalen, I am interested to learn some context for your repeated argument concerning the US embassy in Tehran, and your insistence that Iranian leadership hold attitudes of enmity towards the US. What is the source of your impressions, your thoughts, your information?

    Specifically, you wrote: “I don’t accuse the Leveretts of deliberately misleading people, but I think it’s possible that even though they are highly intelligent scholars, they may be deceived themselves by Iranian contacts who deliberately sweet-talk them with promises of international friendship that the actual decision-makers may have no intention of honoring. ”

    What contacts, sources of information, etc. do YOU have that cause you to consider your assessment of realities and attitudes among the Iranian leadership to be more accurate than those of the Leveretts?

    You stated, “There are serious crimes against humanity being committed in Iran right now, and to suggest that the United States ought to look the other way and make nice to the regime committing those crimes, ”

    What is your source for this information? It’s a very serious charge; please share with us the evidence so that we can share your concern and throw our weight behind righting this wrong, if it is warranted.

  310. Reza Esfandiari says:

    I should point that my article only deals with making sense of the figures…it is fundamentally a rejonder to the Chatham House report which was hurriedly prepared in the wake of the poll.

    Eric’s report includes all of the other pertinent issues associated with the election such as the various claims of fraud etc, in addition to the numbers. Its an astonishingly well-researched and detailed piece….but then it was authored by a Harvard-trained lawyer.

    Unfortunately, I think the mainstream media will choose to ignore it….but I think we should bring it to their attention when the anniversary of the election comes about in June and they start talking again about the “stolen election of last year”.

  311. Eric A. Brill says:

    Reza,

    Interesting observations, especially about the strong pro-Mousavi slant of Iranian expatriates. (82% of Iranians who voted outside Iran voted for Mousavi. 12% voted for Ahmadinejad.)

    By the way, if you haven’t read Reza’s “Rejoinder” to Dr. Ali Ansari’s Chatham House “Preliminary Analysis…,” I highly recommend it (http://www.iranaffairs.com/files/iranian-election.pdf). Reza has been a great help to me, and I think his “Rejoinder” was the best of the many post-election analyses.

  312. Eric A. Brill says:

    Rev. Magdalen,

    “Democracies don’t pre-select candidates based on the rules of one particular clique’s interpretation of one particular religion.”

    Most democracies don’t. Iran’s does. Other democracies have their own flawed ways of pre-selecting candidates. If they did not, after all, many or most elections in such countries would often have dozens of candidates on the ballot. Can you think of any democracies that typically have elections like that? I can’t. The closest I can come, in fact, is Iran, which has had as many as 10 candidates running for president. Many approved presidential candidates have not been what I would call religious zealots (Mousavi comes to mind).

    And, in “come one, come all” elections, the usual result is that one or two candidates get all the votes -– usually the same one or two candidates that would get all the votes if no other candidates were on the ballot. The lesser candidates either fight meaninglessly over the spoils or, worse, actually thwart the will of the voters by siphoning off votes from a candidate who would have one if fewer candidates had been on the ballot. I’m not at all sure that’s the best result for the people of the country, but that’s what “true democracy” can produce.

    I emphasize that I do not mean to say that I agree with Iran’s method of pre-selecting candidates. I merely hesitate to lurch to the other extreme without considering very carefully whether the predictable consequences would be preferable in practice.

    Your raising of this issue reminds me of Charles Kurzman’s book, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (highly recommended to me by Dr. Gary Sick, an astute Iran analyst now teaching at Columbia – though I don’t mean to suggest that Dr. Sick and I agree generally on Iran). Dr. Kurzman explained that the overthrow of the Shah required the combined effort of several groups – secular liberals, Islamists, students, striking (and other) workers, and others. That was hardly an original or profound observation, though that did not matter since it was not Dr. Kurzman’s central point (which, instead, was that the revolution happened largely because the various participants gradually came to believe that it COULD happen, and thus participated in greater and greater numbers and with greater and greater zeal, so that it DID happen).

    Dr. Kurzman’s account nonetheless was interesting. He explained that many prominent liberals in Iran had long hoped/believed that the Shah could be persuaded peacefully to ease up a bit, and they had had some limited success with their peaceful approach. The Islamists, of course, harbored no such illusions. Many liberals eventually concluded that they ought to hitch their wagon to the Islamist star, at least long enough to get rid of their common enemy, and that is what happened.

    When the dust cleared, however, as nearly always happens after a revolution, the liberals were yanked back to reality: they didn’t really see eye to eye with their temporary allies on a lot of issues. They were disappointed, for example, to learn that the draft (and eventually the final) Iranian constitution had all this Islam stuff in it – who had asked them? In short, they were shocked, shocked – and remain to this day shocked, shocked – that the Islamists, who had been by far the strongest group in the ad hoc coalition formed to oust the Shah, had insisted on writing the rules once the Shah was gone. Some participants in the overthrow of the Shah (the liberals, for example) felt they were just getting rid of the Shah; others thought they were participating in a revolution; still others (the Islamists) thought they were participating in an Islamic revolution. And – guess what – it was this last group that got to write the rules — not to mention the official history books.

    And those rules are still in place. I am not saying this is how it ought to be in Iran but, as most Americans’ once-favorite news anchor, the avuncular Walter Cronkite, used to say at the end of his evening newscast: “That’s the way it is.”

  313. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @KOOSHY

    I read somewhere that 87% of Iranian-Americans believe the election was rigged. Not surprising, as >80% of those who voted in the election did so for Mousavi.

    Unfortunately, I think this exposes something about we Iranians ourselves – we are too emotional ,regardless of what our political views are, and find it difficult to be rational and calm.

    If anything good can come out the mess of last year, its that cooler heads need to prevail in a crisis where one side feels it has been wronged.

  314. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC

    I think most people, myself included, expected Mousavi to do better and Ahmadinejad to do worse. What was surprising was not so much the margin of victory, as the 24 million votes the incumbent received. But we forget that this man has been in “campaign mode” for the last 4 years, touring every district across the country, and an official election campaign lasting just 3 weeks was hardly going to cause an upset.

    But, you’re right. The disaggregated polling data was released, and this makes it easy enough to verify whether the results are authentic based on what the monitors signed off and declared as valid. I didn’t mention it in my report, but in some parts of the Sunni province of Sistan va Baluchestan, Ahmadinejad actually came THIRD in the results of some of the ballot boxes and Mousavi was getting 80-90% of the vote. So, if they did make the numbers up, they clearly did a good job of it.

  315. Eric A. Brill says:

    Kooshy,

    “Since the election, here in LA I have debated this issue couple thousands times, even with my own close friends and relatives. To sum up and conclude, for those Iranians that they disapprove the system, regardless of how persuasive and factual your argument is, they refuse to accept the results.”

    Thanks. I gathered that about the LA crowd from my email exchanges with Muhammad Sahimi, who, as you undoubtedly know, teaches at USC and writes for the Tehran Bureau. I think I speak for both Muhammad and I when I say that Muhammad does not consider me to be his best buddy.

  316. kooshy says:

    Eric

    Since the election, here in LA I have debated this issue couple thousands times, even with my own close friends and relatives.
    To sum up and conclude, for those Iranians that they disapprove the system, regardless of how persuasive and factual your argument is, they refuse to accept the results
    However, their case is easier to know what is their motif for refuse the facts

    As for the, non Iranians, it is more difficult, you will need to be Hercule Poirot to detect what motif will prevent them from accepting the facts, you yourself with your flawless analysis have just experienced, Scott’s refusal to accept the solid facts you presented in your paper. One may never know what motif is driving Scott; although he is as informed as any western observer is, unfortunately for him the results do not fit his agenda. Therefore I find it, a waste of time to argue this issue with this 2 groups, it usually ends up with me reminding them of the title of Levretts article “Ahmadinijad won live with it”

  317. Eric A. Brill says:

    Rev. Magdalen,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    I agree entirely with you that the question of whether the overall Iranian political system is democratic is an important question, though that question ought to be raised as well for other countries. As I made plain at the outset in my article (http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/), I focused on the conduct of the election, but I also emphasized that other questions are important.

    For example, the “candidate vetting” issue is troublesome, though I don’t know what the solution is. Clearly we do it differently here in the US, but I’m not sure that a candidate’s ability to attract large donations is a much better method, nor that a party system that invariably yields just two candidates (with an occasional Ross Perot or John Anderson tossed in, just for spice) is much better. Though true democracy clearly calls for it, I’m not sure that an election with dozens of candidates would really be best for the people of Iran or any other country. One problem that Mehdi Karroubi faced in 2009 resulted from there having been, arguably, too many (reform) candidates: Mousavi supporters urged would-be Karroubi voters to vote for Mousavi rather than “waste” their vote, and many did. Several sources insist that that is the main reason for Karroubi’s disappointing results.

    You may find interesting what I wrote about this in an earlier draft of my article, which I cut because of space considerations:

    “Some commentators, especially non-Iranians, complained that many reform candidates had unfairly been declared ineligible by the Guardian Council. A prominent New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, believed this was reason enough to dismiss the Iran election even before it had taken place. This may have been a valid complaint for the excluded candidates, and it reflects a shortcoming of Iranian democracy. But did it affect Moussavi? Obviously he made the cut, and the exclusion of other reform candidates probably improved his chances. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, John McCain once joked that he would be overjoyed if the Democratic Party found itself unable to choose between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. One also wonders whether Al Gore, in 2000, might have been willing to set aside his unquestioned love of democracy for just a day in order to exclude Ralph Nader from the Florida ballot. Many of his supporters were.

    Insistence that the Guardian Council should have approved more reform candidates brings to mind the old saying: “Be careful what you ask for.” In the 2005 presidential election, the Guardian Council had rejected two reform candidates, Mohsen Mehralizadeh and Mostafa Moeen, an action roundly criticized both in the Western press and in a strongly worded public letter from Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council reversed its decision the next day, increasing the number of approved candidates from six to eight. The three major reform candidates in that election – Mehralizadeh, Moeen and Mehdi Karroubi – received a total of 36% of the vote, led by Karroubi’s 17%. Because no candidate had received a majority, a run-off election was held between the two top vote-getters: Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had received 21% of the vote, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had received 19%. Many reformist supporters stayed home.”

  318. Scott Lucas says:

    Kooshy,

    If you have even a quick glance at EA or my academic work, you will soon learn that I think any binary of “free” v. “managed” US media is simplistic and unproductive. While the US “mainstream” media is not under State direction, as is the case with many Iranian outlets, it does often have a limited and/or distorted view of events — a view arising from misperception, from financial interests, from the nature of US political culture.

    Again, if you take that quick glance, you’ll find that EA has been sharply critical of “mainstream” US media, both for its general attempt to function as a gatekeeper of news and analysis and for its specific approach to issues. We have criticised that media for its coverage of Iran, from the nuclear issue to the internal situation to Iran’s place in regional politics.

    At the same time, there is the emergence of a media culture — whether it is called alternative media, social media, or new media — which both challenges and goes beyond the “mainstream”. I’m proud that EA is part of that culture.

    Scott

  319. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Thank you for your engaging reply.

    Unfortunately, you continue to rest on the narrow and selective reading of any information beyond the official reports. (The points I made last night about political context on Election Day and afterwards, as well as the important issues beyond the election, are unexamined.)

    Your reply doesn’t actually address Fateh’s points, which establish — contrary to claims that have been made — that the Mousavi camp were very concerned on 12 June about substantial manipulation. You have not yet addressed important aspects of Beheshti’s claims, going beyond the GC reports, including the communications between Mousavi and Government officials on 12 June.

    You fall back on the assertion that it would be oh so simple to test this through a comparison of Form 22s and Form 28s, sweeping aside numerous complications: there is no established number of how many Form 22s were actually witnessed and signed by Mousavi representatives, there has been no checking of the process of the compilation of Form 22s as Form 28s, there has no been random partial recount.

    Your fallback is, well, the Mousavi and Karroubi people didn’t join the GC review process. A fair point, as I’ve conceded. But you cannot leap from that to “so that makes the review process legitimate and answers all the questions about the elections”. It’s not just Mousavi and Karroubi who query that, but also Rezaei and Rafsanjani and other politicians and senior clerics.

    Once more on the political context: your attempted dismissal –”You mentioned that many Mousavi supporters could provide actual evidence — if they weren’t all sitting in prison. Is Mr Fateh in prison?” — is disingenuous. It’s not just being imprisoned that constitutes intimidation; it is the threat of imprisonment. It is the closure of newspapers like Ghalam, surveillance of individuals and their families, and propaganda whipping up the notion of terrorists and foreign powers behind those who might question the election.

    Not a level playing field. Not level on 12 June, as the wave of detentions started, not level in the days afterwards, and certainly not level by the time Beheshti and Fateh offered their accounts. As election day recedes, it becomes more and more difficult to assemble documents and evidence, at least with the assurance that they have not been tainted, even in an atmosphere free from repressive measures.

    I do appreciate your tenacity. You have chosen your ground with skill. But it is a narrow and artificial ground, difficult to sustain beyond the official accounts of 12/13 June.

    Scott

  320. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Thank you for your engaging reply.

    Unfortunately, you continue to rest on the narrow and selective reading of any information beyond the official reports. (The points I made last night about political context on Election Day and afterwards, as well as the important issues beyond the election, are unexamined.)

    Your reply doesn’t actually address Fateh’s points, which establish — contrary to claims that have been made — that the Mousavi camp were very concerned on 12 June about substantial manipulation. You have not yet addressed important aspects of Beheshti’s claims, going beyond the GC reports, including the communications between Mousavi and Government officials on 12 June.

    You fall back on the assertion that it would be oh so simple to test this through a comparison of Form 22s and Form 28s, sweeping aside numerous complications: there is no established number of how many Form 22s were actually witnessed and signed by Mousavi representatives, there has been no checking of the process of the compilation of Form 22s as Form 28s, there has no been random partial recount.

    Your fallback is, well, the Mousavi and Karroubi people didn’t join the GC review process. A fair point, as I’ve conceded. But you cannot leap from that to “so that makes the review process legitimate and answers all the questions about the elections”. It’s not just Mousavi and Karroubi who query that, but also Rezaei and Rafsanjani and other politicians and senior clerics.

    Once more on the political context: your attempted dismissal –”You mentioned that many Mousavi supporters could provide actual evidence — if they weren’t all sitting in prison. Is Mr Fateh in prison?” — is disingenuous. It’s not just being imprisoned that constitutes intimidation; it is the threat of imprisonment. It is the closure of newspapers like Ghalam, surveillance of individuals and their families, and propaganda whipping up the notion of terrorists and foreign powers behind those who might question the election.

    Not a level playing field. Not level on 12 June, as the wave of detentions started, not level in the days afterwards, and certainly not level by the time Beheshti and Fateh offered their accounts. As election day recedes, it becomes more and more difficult to assemble documents and evidence, at least with the assurance that they have not been tainted, even if in an atmosphere free from repressive measures.

    I do appreciate your tenacity. You have chosen your ground with skill. But it is a narrow and artificial ground, difficult to sustain beyond the official accounts of 12/13 June.

    Scott

  321. Rev. Magdalen says:

    With all due respect to the many passionate arguments about vote fraud, I think that’s a bit of a red herring at this point. Whether or not the election was rigged, SINCE that time the government of Iran has declared that no further permits to protest the election result will be allowed, because the Supreme Leader has decided the issue for everyone and anyone who disagrees is “mohareb” meaning “waging war against God.” In Iran, this is both a religious sin and an actual legal crime for which the punishment ranges up to execution, even for those who were minors when they committed the acts judged to be mohareb.

    That’s not democracy. In democracy you are allowed to openly say “I think this government is corrupt and we should completely scrap this form of government and start over with a new one” without any fear at all. Heck you can even have an entire 24 hour news channel and several radio networks devoted to trying to convince people to agree with you. IRI spokespeople frequently say they had to forbid legal Green Movement protests because they believe at least some elements in the Green Movement are calling for a complete change in the system of government, and therefore in the interests of national security, they have to be forbidden to say that. Otherwise they might convince other people to agree with them and go ahead and switch to another system.

    That’s not democracy either. The way a democracy deals with people who are saying “We think this whole system should be scrapped” is not by silencing those people. Democracies deal with it by talking to those people, giving them the freedom to have their say, and then being open to changing policy to address whatever needs have driven these people to protest. In this particular case, every demand made by the Green Movement’s official spokespeople has been entirely reasonable, such as eliminating the vetting system that currently means that only those candidates approved by Khamenei’s hand-picked council are even allowed to run for office in the first place. Again, not democracy.

    Putting on the show of having voting booths and ballot boxes is not enough to make a country a democracy. There’s a lot more to it than that. Democracies let people gather and speak, even if what they say is shocking. Democracies don’t close down newspapers for printing insulting stories. Democracies don’t pre-select candidates based on the rules of one particular clique’s interpretation of one particular religion.

    And let me preemptively respond to those who will inevitably point out that Western countries have violated civil rights too: where I come from we call that the “Johnny did it too” defense, and it is not accepted by any mom I ever met, so I don’t see why it should be accepted for great nations either. Iranian leaders are 100% responsible for the civil rights abuses they commit, and what other countries do cannot excuse them in any way.

    There are serious crimes against humanity being committed in Iran right now, and to suggest that the United States ought to look the other way and make nice to the regime committing those crimes, for the sake of improving access to oil or for whatever reasons, frankly echoes the kind of logic many heroin junkies subscribe to. We have to get off our addiction to oil, and we have to start standing up for our values again, and ignoring the serious Iranian atrocities that may even amount to genocide in the case of the Baha’i is not a good way to start.

  322. Eric A. Brill says:

    Kooshy,

    Thanks for your observation. Perhaps Mr. Fateh will consider himself safe enough in London that he can be persuaded to flesh out his allegations with some verifiable details.

    Even if Mr. Fateh were in Iran, however, it has always struck me as odd that he, and very many others, show no reluctance to make sweeping claims of fraud — stuffed ballot boxes, ballots dropped into sewers, votes bought and sold, polls closed with long lines of voters still waiting, voters forced to use “false pens” with disappearing ink, field reports altered at Interior Ministry headquarters in Tehran, and on and on — all without any apparent fear of retribution, but when any of those commentators is asked simply to mention one place where this happened so that his story can be checked, he replies that he’s like to be thrown in prison and hung by his thumbs if he provides this information.

  323. Eric A. Brill says:

    Reza,

    I agree, though I would note that it nevertheless matters to me (and, I’m sure, to you) whether Ahmadinejad won fairly. I would not be satisfied had I concluded that fraud occurred but that he’d have won even if it hadn’t. That would have disappointed me. But I didn’t find any evidence of fraud. Maybe it occurred, but I haven’t found any evidence of it.

    My experience in observing elections over the years is that fraud is much more likely to occur when the election is expected to be close — where a little fraud might be just what is needed to change the result. While Mousavi supporters and much of the Western press might reply that that was precisely the situation on election morning, it appears to me that few Iranians really believed that. (And, if they did believe it, they certainly over-reacted, giving Ahmadinejad 11 million votes more than Mousavi and 5 million more than he needed to avoid a run-off — and all that without committing a single detectable slip-up.)

    In any case, it’s easy enough to check. That was the essential point of my article. There are 45,692 ballot boxes out there. For each of them, there are two counts:

    1. The count reported from the field, and confirmed in writing by on-site observers (including Mousavi’s representatives, at 89% of the polling stations).

    2. The count reported by the Interior Ministry.

    The next step is plain enough, as I explain in my article:

    “All of this begs a question, of course: Haven’t these ballot-box comparisons already been made? When the Interior Ministry released its official ballot-box-level reports, was there a single polling-station observer in all of Iran who did not immediately compare his copy of the Form 22 for his polling station (which he will have signed) with the Interior Ministry’s count for the same ballot box? And if the two counts did not match, is there a single Mousavi observer who would not have reported the discrepancy immediately? One is tempted to answer “no” to both questions.”

  324. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @ERIC

    You don’t win by 11 million votes through a few irregularities here and there. If the election was rigged, the count was simply made up – for all 45,632 ballot boxes.

    Mousavi supporters want to have their cake and eat it – either there were some irregularities in which case the votes were indeed counted and the outcome would not have been any different, or the authorities just made up the figures.

    Don’t waste your efforts with Scott – like Roger Cohen, he refuses to concede that he was wrong for calling the result a fraud in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. So he is just wriggling hs way out by quoting as many GM people as he can as part of a desperate bid to back up his initial assessment.

  325. kooshy says:

    Eric

    Mr. Fateh apparently after the riots had a trip to home base, the jolly good old London for preparation on the next faze, may be Scott can enlighten us on that trip,
    He certainly would qualify for a poltical refugee which Chris refered if he decides to stay out there, then again I guess he just likes short trips to London and returns after few months.

  326. James Canning says:

    Reza Esfandiari,

    When John F. Kennedy sought backing for his presidential bid in 1960, from Jewish financiers in New York (who made the offer to him), he was shocked to learn they wanted in exchange to control US foreign policy in the Middle East. Since then, there has been a systemmatic effort by Jewish interests to control US foreign policy and military planning, under the delusion that this would “protect” Israel.

    I like to remember that the catastrophe that engulfed the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War was the direct result of insane over-reaching (against Serbia) that was encouraged by the German General Staff. The Austrian disaster came about because its immensely strong “protector” encouraged fatal stupidity.

  327. Eric A. Brill says:

    Kathleen,

    I certainly agree with your observations about the main-stream media. But when a story quotes someone like John Bolton, or Joshua Muravchik, or Michael Ledeen, or any of the other “usual suspects,” at least the guard of educated readers is immediately up. The greater danger occurs, I believe, when the reader mistakenly assumes that the writer is presenting the full story. At the risk of appearing to be shamelessly plugging my article (which I’ll nonetheless do: http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/), consider this passage:

    “The year [2009] closed with a multi-day protest held during the Muslim holiday of Ashura, culminating with a large opposition rally on December 27, which was followed by a larger pro-government demonstration three days later. As had occurred before the election, Western press coverage focused narrowly on the opposition rally. According to a guest op-ed published a week later in the New York Times [penned by the Leveretts], opposition sources had estimated the December 27 protest crowd in the “tens of thousands” and other sources had estimated “2,000 to 4,000.” A third source, said to be an opponent of Ahmadinejad, had estimated the crowd at the December 30 pro-government rally at 1,000,000 people. The last of these estimates may have surprised readers, since most Western news accounts had reported a much smaller pro-government crowd. The most extreme example had appeared in a long article by Michael Slackman published by the New York Times on January 1, 2010. In an otherwise detailed account of the preceding five days’ events, Mr. Slackman estimated the December 27 protest crowd at “tens of thousands,” but did not even mention that a pro-government rally had occurred.”

  328. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott,

    Thanks for posting Mr. Fateh’s testimony. I’m not sure why you call it testimony, though. It sounds like a personal recollection of considerable disappointment with the election result. I strongly suspect I’d have felt much the same if I’d worked so hard for the election of Mr. Mousavi. Nonetheless, it brings to mind this sentence from my article (http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/):

    “Few would insist on enough evidence to make a major dent in Ahmadinejad’s 11 million vote margin – just something beyond disappointment, suspicion, rumor and conjecture.”

    And this sentence:

    “Some reports are otherwise so detailed that one can scarcely imagine they could have been fabricated, but the vivid details invariably fail to include any information that would permit the story to be verified.”

    Mr. Fateh does mention a few specifics –– temporary ballot shortages, long lines –– that are frankly acknowledged in the Guardian Council report (and discussed in some detail), but I am not aware that Mousavi ever complained that any of these inconveniences prevented people from voting in the end.

    Mr. Fateh mentioned some polls closed early. As is true of every such report I’ve read, he didn’t mention where. If you look into this a little, you’ll find polls were open much longer than usual to accommodate the high turnout (the law requires 10 hours — some stayed open until 2 AM). One Iranian source told me that polls indeed closed early in a few small rural areas, but only because everyone in the village had voted and so there was no reason to delay the counting of votes.

    Scott, this is not “evidence.” It’s “disappointment, suspicion, rumor and conjecture.” You mentioned that many Mousavi supporters could provide actual evidence — if they weren’t all sitting in prison.

    Is Mr. Fateh in prison?

  329. kooshy says:

    For god’s sake, if anybody in his right mind think that American Media is any way FREE and not MANAGED must need to see a shrink, Chris and Scott, your assertions are childish even for a debate.

  330. Kathleen says:

    I have been fascinated with how our MSM works in defining policy or redirecting Americans attention or handing them very slanted information.

    We know the majority in the MSM did not ask tough and logical questions about the validity and sources of the endlessly repeated false intelligence in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Soon after the immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq NPR Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation,, MSNBC, CNN, started repeating the unsubstantiated claims about a nuclear weapons program in Iran. At the Aipac site (which I have been going to weekly since the late 90′s) switched their action sections focus from support for invading Iraq to Sanctions against Iran based on these unsubstantiated claims (the language was always extremely inflammatory). Soon Neil Conan of NPR’s Talk of the Nation was having John Bolton on to discuss the situation with Iran. When Bolton would repeatedly claim that Iran had a nuclear weapons program or that Iran wanted to “wipe Israel off the map” (I believe started at the last Aipac conference that Ariel Sharon attended (where they had a full Hollywood size replica of the supposed weapons site) Neil Conan did not challenge his claims NOT ONCE. Just let Bolton repeat them..no challenges (not even a year after the invasion of Iraq) Richard Perle made the same claim at that Aipac conference. Since then I have kept a s close check of where I have heard these unsubstantiated claims repeated. John Mccain on Hardball (Chris did not challenge) Obama on Face the Nation . Bod Schieffer did not challenge these claims. I have heard Rachel Maddow repeat these claims herself. Have heard Terri Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air repeat these claims many many times.

    More recently Terri Gross had Roxana Saberi on. Terri did not ask Roxanne any challenging questions about her stance on Iran

    And this Sat (April 3) NPR’s Scott Simon had Roxanne Saberi on to discuss her new book about her experience in Iran. Scott referred to Roxanne as an “expert” on Iranian affairs. He fed her an opportunity to promote the idea that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. No challenges, Another opportunity to promote sanctions.

    My point is that many in our MSM have provided every opportunity to those who support sanctions against Iran and some who promote a pre-emptive attack to lay the groundwork for sanctions against Iran. But these talk show host and news host have continue to NOT ASK ANY CHALLENGING QUESTIONS.

    Have you heard Flynt Leverett on Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow’s, Terri Gross’s Fresh Air, Bob Scheiffer. The MSM is as complacent as before the invasion of Iraq

    I know history repeats itself but this is absolutely insane.

    Scott Simon interviews Roxanna Saberi about her prison time in Iran. He promoted sanctions against Iran. No challenges. He allows Roxanna to describe the ‘pressure” she experienced in the Iranian prison. Have you ever heard Scott Simon have any of those released from Abu Gharib or Gitmo who were not just “pressured” to say certain things they were seriously “tortured” by U.S. guards, torture contractors etc.

    This interview with Saberi demonstrates Simons agenda on the situation with Iran.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7

  331. Reza Esfandiari says:

    CHRIS is one of those victims of the brainwashing of a jingoistic current within American society fuelled by the media and Hollywood.

    The American political establishment has caused so many problems for its people but has managed to defend it all in the name of “freedom”.

    The reality is that the American people have no say in their foreign policy at all.

    Its not that this is not the case in other countries, but it should be acknowledged that this “democratic deficit” exists and is unacceptable.

  332. Iranian@Iran says:

    …and no one asked anyone to fiddle with the election results…

  333. Iranian@Iran says:

    ChrisE:

    As Liz put it, I think, you rant a lot and it makes you seem psycologically unstable.

    If someone from the Foreign Ministry writes an anonymous statment that is his belief and it’s his business. In accordance with this logic you should leave your own country. Britain has one of the most shameless histories of all countries in the world. You and Scott Lucas are shamelessly dishonest and you are bullies too.

  334. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    I never made America out to be a Soviet-style dictatorship. I just said that much of the official political conversation were staged and heavily choreographed.

    The American system has been called by patriotic **Americans** as a “TOTALITARIAN DEMOCRACY” and a “CORPORATE OLIGARCHY/PLUTOCRACY”. This by people who are frustrated that the American Dream of a just, fair and free society is being stifled by special and private interests.

    As for Iran, there are clearly many faults and failings with the Islamic Republic. But it is acknowledged that the election campaign of last year was held in a spirit of freedom of speech and assembly – the televised debates, political rallies, the discussion in the press (most of whom are independent periodicals) was an exercise in democracy at its best.

    That’s why I am so angry with the Mousavi camp for turning what was an important milestone in Iran’s political evolution into a chaotic and bloody power struggle by claiming fraud when none existed and refusing to accept the will of the people.

    However, some cathartic good has come out of all this since the police and security forces are now more accountable and responsive to standards and criticism than ever before.

  335. ChrisE says:

    @Reza

    I can’t believe I’m actually having a debate based on the premise that there is more freedom of expression, respect for human rights and a freer press in Iran compared to America (which certainly has its faults…but you seem to be under the illusion that Iran is some kind of enlightened democracy!) Clearly you are not a Bahai…

    Do me a favour and share that extraordinary claim with the Leveretts, or in fact any sensible analyst, and watch them laugh in your face.

    Even Mohammad, who seems a reasonable and highly knowledegeable guy, provided stats to show that, actually, Iranians apparently don’t actually want an open society or free press…

    You lambasted me about knowing nothing about Iran, but clearly your knowledge of America is based simply on your own deeply held bitterness and the bizarre claim that the US is some kind of Soviet style dictatorship- added with a few conspiracy theories I could get from countless anti-American sites. Give me a break…

    I’ll say again, it seems very odd that so many of your countrymen are desperate to live there- and frankly, it’s not simply economics and I don’t many come back (that’s if they do come back) talking of living in a totalitatian state! Though, there does seem to be an odd correlation between democracies and economic success- China being the exception.

    Plus, I note that you make no response to my point that 1980 and 1994 are entirely false analogies.

    @Iranian

    Am I right that you actually work for the Foreign Ministry!!! You work for the government and you actually want us to believe you are objective or independent…when it is actually your job to give the govt the version (and indeed you would lose it if you did not). Shame you did not go down the same route as your colleague in Norway- the high ranking diplomat who defected in protest of the violence against protestors and because he had been asked by his bosses in Tehran to fiddle the election results from the expat community in Norway…

  336. Rev. Magdalen says:

    I truly believe everyone who has commented here wants peace between Iran and the USA. We all want to avoid a repeat of the Bush years, the trumped-up excuses and rush headlong into an unnecessary conflict, the tragedies and truly horrific consequences of war. We all want peace. The question is how to achieve it.

    The Leveretts are proceeding from the premise that if only the United States could engage the leaders of the Islamic Republic, and guarantee their protection from any hostile neighbors, grant favorable trading status, and generally smooth things over and normalize relations, in return the Islamic Republic would cease any hint of hostility towards its neighbors or the United States or anyone, as the IRI is, at heart, a peaceful regime. I believe the Leveretts, and many folks commenting here, honestly believe that the Iranian leaders, despite frequently referring to the West as the enemy, secretly want to be friends.

    I just don’t believe it, myself. I can’t see any really solid signs that the IRI has any desire to befriend the United States. Returning the US embassy and apologizing for its capture would be one simple, easy thing, as easy as signing a piece of paper, that would be the ultimate legally binding signal that the current government of Iran wanted to normalize relations with the United States. Does anyone really think there’s any chance of that happening? I would love to be wrong about it but I just don’t see it as likely.

    I don’t accuse the Leveretts of deliberately misleading people, but I think it’s possible that even though they are highly intelligent scholars, they may be deceived themselves by Iranian contacts who deliberately sweet-talk them with promises of international friendship that the actual decision-makers may have no intention of honoring.

    You may wonder why on earth the IRI would not want to be friends with the USA, but the IRI government is in a precarious position. The ’79 revolution was never about installing a Supreme Leader; it was a coalition of diverse groups united around deposing the Shah and installing a Republic. It was only during the chaotic aftermath of the Shah’s departure that Khomeini was able to consolidate his power by eliminating rivals, so there isn’t as strong a natural base of support for the current system as some would assume. Current economic conditions are worsening as well, and thousands of workers have not been paid their wages in months. These things have all combined with the disputed election to create a continuing situation of extreme domestic unrest.

    The last time there was a high level of domestic unrest, the Iran/Iraq War broke out and the Iranian people put aside their differences to unite against the invaders. It seems likely to me that faced with a new challenge to their legitimacy, the IRI leaders might well try to foster a climate of cold war, if not an actual war, to once again try to unify and rally the Iranian people behind them, especially if they believe that the USA or Israel would never really attack.

    That might be sustainable for a while, but there are other factors at work. Like it or not, President Obama has stated that he believes that Iran is trying to obtain the capacity for a nuclear weapon, if not actually build one, and that this is unacceptable. There are US policies dealing with nuclear issues that are basically set in stone, and they are not going to be changed by any amount of persuasion. It is never going to be “okay” with the US government that the current IRI leadership has access to a nuclear weapon.

    This means that as much as we might all wish it were not so, there IS a clock ticking toward a point where powerful Western governments decide to intervene, and as long as the IRI government doesn’t change its activities, and Western nuclear policy doesn’t change, I think this is going to lead to a war sooner or later.

    In order to avoid war, I believe something has to change significantly. US policy on nukes is not going to be that thing. Personally, I think the best chance peace has is the Green Movement. If they can succeed in restoring the constitutional rights of Iranians to choose their own path, I am sure they would choose peace.

  337. Scott Lucas says:

    For the record, this is the testimony of Abolfazl Fateh, the editor of pro-Mousavi Ghalam News, as we carried it on 19 November 2009:

    Thursday morning [11 June] we had consecutive meetings with Mr. Mousavi. The main topic of discussion was the provisions for election day. Numerous reports had reached people in the campaign which made us really worried about the election process. Supervising the ballot boxes was of serious concern to us.

    Mir Hossein Mousavi chose a number of friends to follow up on these issues in parallel. One problem was that the text messaging service had been completely shut down by the ministry.

    It was planned that Mousavi would vote in one of the mosques in the south of Tehran. This mosque was called the grand Jameh mosque in Rey [an old city in the south of Tehran]. Around 11 p.m. on Thursday, the time and place of Mousavi’s voting was put up on the Ghalam’s website [Mousavi's main webiste].

    When I went to that mosque on Friday morning, a large group of reporters were there. Mr. Mousavi voted alongside Mrs. Rahnavard and went up to the podium of the mosque to give a talk for a very short time. He was saying that we will stay up tonight when the microphone was shut off.

    We returned to the campaign headquarters right away. Mousavi was following the news. Reports that came from various election centers one after another indicated that the turnout was outstanding. Most of the reports pointed to a greater turnout for Mousavi.

    It was only a few hours into voting day that pro-Government outlets and websites reported that Ahmadinejad had won. But reports indicated that we would be winning by a big margin.

    Everyone was filled with an indescribable sense of happiness. A report was read by the Voter Protection Office. Many of the election centers were reporting very, very slow lines, the shortage of ballots, and various obstacles faced by voters. But, the combination of announced results we were getting indicated that Mousavi was well ahead.

    Mousavi was continuously calling the heads of Parliament and judiciary, the leader’s office, and the Supreme Administrative Court to tell them about the problems and obstacles voters were facing.

    Complaints were increasing minute by minute. In many voting centers, the ballots were finished. But nothing was done about it. We all came to the conclusion that this was a planned move on the part of the organizers of the election. It was apparent that they had no desire to get extra ballots to the centers, or to speed up the process or to extend voting hours. Reports told us that some voting centers had closed as early as 4 p.m. Even though hour by hour voting was to be extended to 10 p.m. many voting centers were closed before then, and even some people who had stood for hours in line did not get to vote.

    Around 4 in the afternoon, someone called Mir Hossein Mousavi and told him that some have reached the decision to announced a 19 [million] vs. 14 [million] win for Ahmadinejad. Mousavi called the officials to let them know.

    Around 6 p.m. in the afternoon, Mousavi wrote a letter to the Leader asking him to intervene and correct the voting irregularities we were continuously hearing.

    Around 10 p.m. we heard some news that some are going to announce the end of the election with a win for Ahmadinejad. This is when counting votes had not started yet across the country.

    Mousavi had a press conference and gave a warning regarding the counting process and mentioned some of the irregularities that had been reported.

    Around 11 p.m. Mousavi wrote a confidential letter to the Leader, I transferred the letter to the Leader’s home/office myself and gave it to Mr. Vahid. We spoke for a few minutes and from his words I sensed that I must consider the election over. He said that he had sent a reminder to the interior ministry about the way they plan to announce the results, but he said that Mr. Ahmadinejad would win by a big margin. I told him that from all reports, eyewitness accounts, data and all logical assessment, it was just the opposite of what he was claiming.

    After handing the letter, I came back to Mousavi. All our friends were there. Mousavi told the story to every single person and sought their advice. Everyone was dumbstruck. Nobody believed this result. And no report of such an outcome was sent to us by the officers overlooking the election centers [across the country]. After talking to everyone, Mousavi said: “the elections are people’s rights. I can’t give up people’s rights. I’m going to see this through and until this lie is cleared up, I will share the accounts of it with the people.”

    The newspaper had been ordered not to headline anything that would predict the results. The Green Word [Mousavi's paper] had such a headline ready and was not permitted to run it. But, reports indicated that Iran and Kayhan newspapers were going to run a headline announcing Ahmadinejad’s victory [note, at this point, the final results had not yet been announced]. IRNA and Fars had already declared Ahmadinejad the winner.

    Mousavi left the meeting at around 2 in the morning. We were all talking to one another and everybody was trying to come up with a solution but the results announced by the interior ministry were so great that it was obvious they were leaving no room for argument or protest.

    Around 4 in the morning I heard that there had been disperse confrontations in the campaign headquarters and tear gas had been thrown [the headquarters were later raided].

    Near the early hours of the morning, there were some in the street honking their horns, happy with victory.

    I speak to Hamid Rasaee. Fourth months ago he’d said that Ahmadinejad would win 23 million votes and that he would surpass the 22 million votes for President Khatami in 1997. He’d said that Mousavi would have around 10 million votes. I wasn’t as smart as he was, I congratulated him on his prediction.

    In the morning, we met up again and spoke among ourselves. Then we went to see Mousavi. He was sitting there, calm and collected as always. He read his statement for us.

    The phone is constantly ringing. Everybody is startled, some are crying, some are screaming. Some are depressed, others worried. When I look at Mousavi, I too am ashamed and I can’t help but cry. I seek refuge in the presence of the lord and hope that he will watch over you. Alas! The diary had to end this way …

  338. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Mohammad,

    Re Safi Golpaygani and alleged election “big lie” comment: it’s from Le Monde, as reported by Tehran Bureau, “Ayatollah Watch”, 11 September 2009

    Scott

  339. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Happy Easter to All.
    Happy Sizdeh bedar to all.

  340. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James Canning

    Is it me or does Obama come across as completely beholden to the special interests that run Washington? I don’t think I have seen a president look so controlled as Barack ( at least on foreign policy).

    At least with Bush, you knew he was a mad dog and did what he believed was right.

    I just don’t think Obama has the resolve to stand up the powers that be should they want to wage another war in the Middle East.

  341. James Canning says:

    Reza,

    Thanks. Yes, Khamanei allows criticism, to a degree certainly. And Ahmadinejad seems to enjoy debating, or the back-and-forth with people. US news media are quite ready to rip into Obama, about domestic matters certainly, but when the subject bears on Israel, and the occupation, or Iran (which in a way is the same topic), most of those who cover the White House will not ask logical questions that would expose the fallacies behind American policy in the Middle East.

  342. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Just a quick note as there is so much further to dissect re the claims. Either GC is being evasive about what happened on 12 June or Beheshti is lying — might as well come out, say it, and make a judgement call. In light of a 2nd testimony from the editor of Ghalam News, which I’ll post tomorrow, I know which way I’d go.

    As for bobbing and weaving, there were a lot more points, even in a “holding post”, that deserve attention and take the discussion far beyond the relatively narrow response you’ve offered.

    Yours,

    Scott

  343. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Eric

    I think Professor Lucas is being deliberately ambivalent. He wants to cast as much doubt on the election result while still acknowledging thatthe outcome may not have been entirely incorrect.

    He does this to justify his argument about the post-election unrest and crackdown which he claims makes the duly elected government illegitimate.

    That’s how I read between the lines of his logic.

    Its difficult for him to accept a fair election because that would make the protests to a clean poll seem unjustified.

  344. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott,

    “Your attempt to set up a match between the GC’s 40,000 and Beheshti’s 25,000 assumes that Beheshti never put this argument to the GC. (You’ll note the GC never directly responds to the Beheshti claim that the Mousavi officials were never badged; it only refers to those officials who were in polling stations but then evicted for lack of proper ID.)”

    Of course the GC “responded” to Mousavi’s argument (assuming here that he actually made such an argument: I’m not aware that he ever actually did) that only 25,000 of his observers were “badged.” The GC claims, quite unambiguously, that 40,676 Mousavi observers were “badged.” That was the whole point of my “compare the lists” suggestion.

    The GC said, in essence:

    “We issued 40,676 badges to Mousavi observers. On election day, 73 would-be Mousavi observers showed up without badges (because they’d never been issued badges) and so they were turned away. Mousavi has not since claimed that any of those 73 people had a right to be there. Every badged observer who showed up at his polling station on election day and presented his badge was allowed to observe. Not one of Mousavi’s badged observers claimed otherwise on election day. Nor did Mousavi himself — until three days later, of course, when he suddenly remembered that it had happened in many places, though he couldn’t tell us exactly where.”

    How clear can the conflict be? There are several flat factual contentions there, Scott — very easy targets for you if any of them is incorrect. With all due respect, you appear to me to be bobbing and weaving. If you recognize that, you should stop doing it because it’s beneath you. If you don’t recognize it, you should, and then stop doing it.

  345. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Thank you for your dedicated reply.

    “The question can be answered” — Unfortunately, no, at least not here. You’ve made some excellent observations based on official figures and reports, added a series of challenges — a couple pertinent, most of them peripheral — and then stretched your hypothesis beyond breaking point, primarily by ignoring almost all political context.

    That’s why there are a couple of red herrings in the post:

    1. “This might not matter if thousands of writers did not continue to consider ‘open’ as a license to say ‘stolen’.”

    Not my argument. And just because those writers are wrong to assert “stolen” without support does not make your obverse argument — that the election was clearly legitimate — right by default.

    2. “The question of this election’s validity and fairness cannot be considered “open” forever if..Mousavi has had a fair opportunity to answer it.”

    I think the strongest argument you make beyond the official figures — and the one where you do bring in political context — is that the Mousavi campaign made a mistake in not joining in with the GC’s process. (There are a number of counter-arguments, but I won’t go into them here.) However, you can’t make the leap from that opting-out of the process to claim that, therefore, the process must be legitimate.

    3. Your reply doesn’t address the political context, either in the points it tries to make or those it never approaches. Your attempt to set up a match between the GC’s 40,000 and Beheshti’s 25,000 assumes that Beheshti never put this argument to the GC. (You’ll note the GC never directly responds to the Beheshti claim that the Mousavi officials were never badged; it only refers to those officials who were in polling stations but then evicted for lack of proper ID.) More importantly, you never note the political environment: Beheshti has been detained twice, once after putting his case in the public forum in late August, and faces the threat of further persecution/prosecution.

    Similarly, you never note any of the other points regarding intimidation, harassment, and detention from just before the election through June/July — at the time when the GC’s review process was being debated — and beyond. This was not, as your initial report and reply assume, a level playing field. Indeed, it was quite a dangerous one — note, for example, that the Supreme Leader’s warning to the opposition was laid down on 19 June, days after his initial meeting with the opposition campaigns — as many in the campaigns were rounded up.

    4. As some posters have pertinently noted, the political and legal issues soon went beyond the specific question you are addressing about the election’s legitimacy. This is not to rule out your efforts but merely to point out that, in the end, you are only approaching a part of this story — it cannot be extended to cover the entirety of what has occurred beyond the election.

    I meant for this to be a “holding post”, as I’m off for a Friday night at the movies. There is far more that I could put in response, but I think these are the general starting points for a reply.

    Thanks again for the discussion,

    Scott

  346. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @James Canning

    Well, the article whose link I provided was regarding criticism of Ayatollah Khamenei. But you are entirely right. Ahmadinejad has on many occasions gone into the lion’s den of the journalistic world and been asked all sorts of difficult questions, as well as having to listen to some really insulting comments – like when he visited Colombia , as indeed you mentioned.

    I just sense that in the US, the media and the government have a tacit agreement with each other not to rock the boat too much – the exception being Watergate. It may be because of what you say about an imperial-style respect for the president as the head of state, but I think its because the Washington crowd are all batting for the same team in the end…and its not on behalf of the American people..its special interests.

  347. Fiorangela Leone says:

    @ Kathleen says:
    April 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Sakineh Bagoom I have been linking this site all over the blogosphere. Let’s keep spreading the sane and moderate positions with Iran based on facts being validated by the Leveretts. Go viral with “The Race for Iran”

    good job.

    somebody’s reading your mind:

    http://www.amazon.com/US-Iran-Rapprochement-Interest-Leveretts/forum/Fx2TFWOKRMKO4D0/TxAX95MQINELYD/1/ref=cm_cd_dp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B003ART68M&store=dvd

  348. James Canning says:

    Reza Esfandiari,

    Excellent post (2:30pm April 2nd)! Important point, that Ahmadinejad is much more open to give-and-take sessions with the public, than Obama. Part of this is the Imperial Presidency that has grown up in the US to the point it is nearly out of control.

    Ahmadinejad welcomes contrary opinions, and we should recall he went to New York in September 2007 hoping to have good exchanges with the people there, and especially at Columbia University. Under heavy pressure from powerful Jews in New York, the president of the university was unforgivably rude to Ahmadinejad. And the foolish American media focused attention on supposed inadequate fairness to homosexuals in Iran, ignoring entirely the very important purpose of the visit. Or, should is say, deliberately subverting the Iranian initiative?

  349. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Great post (10:31am April 2nd)! I agree completely. And why, one might ask, are the snouts of these people poked so deeply into the internal affairs of the Iranian people? By any chance does it relate to Israel’s wish to continue to oppress the Palestinians, without interference from Iran? Concern for “democracy” etc etc is a cover story for slandering Iran (as part of a scheme to encourage Israeli stupidity in the West Bank, no matter how damaging to the national interests of the US).

  350. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    Here’s something you won’t ever see at the carefully choreographed, Soviet-style meetings between the American president and the “people” – someone allowed to speak his mind and shackled in irons by the secret service.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/06/iran-student-criticises-ayatollah-khamenei

    Mahmoud Vahidnia back in November last year criticised Ayatollah Khamenei to his face and…..was just allowed to carry on speaking.

    Indeed, the following day the incident was widely publicised in the press by the SL’s office itself.

    That was pure, unadulterated freedom of speech….the like of which simply does not exist in America because the only one’s doing the talking are part of the same rotten political system.

    Face facts, Chris. You’re “free America” is a two-party dictatorship and corporate plutocracy. If you can’t see the US for what it is, don’t pass any judgment about Iran.

  351. Kamran says:

    Executed, raped,…This is just propaganda.
    All of those who were involved in the abuses at Kahrizak are in prison and the families of the 2 or 3 men who were murdered have stated that so far they are pleased with how things are moving forward.

    Let’s not talk about US human rights abuses. Roughly a million killed since 9/11?

    Eric:

    This is really really good stuff:

    http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com

    You should be the one with a team…

  352. ChrisE says:

    “You expect me to take counsel in the corporate-run media of America and think that they should have the final say on the 2000 election? Give-me-a-break.The American press is “free” just as Mcdonalds is “free” to sell fat-inducing burgers. There is no independent media in America.”

    Wow, another anti-American conspiracy theory obsessed Iranian…that’s unusual.Why don’t you actually respond to points with counter-analysis not just hyperbole and cliche? Or are you going to tell me that it’s the jews who are running the world’s media next?

    “Political scientists have found solid evidence the election was stolen and the simple fact is that a state-wide recount, which would have settled the issue, was not done.”

    Then you will have no problem in pointing me towards this solid evidence then? I’ll look forward to it. Solid evidence for you, like your definition of ‘expert’, is of course basically evidence that you agree with.

    How many of these political scientists that you cite would agree with your views that there is no such thing as a free press in America?

    “Btw, do you know that there are many bloggers and activist in the United States are in jail for criticising the war on terror: take the case of Vikram Buddhi who was locked up and the key thrown away.”

    Many? How many? Is this in support of your theory that the same degree of personal and press freedom exists in Iran as in America. Hmmm…good luck with persuading the rest of the world about that.

    But anyway, I believe that the VB case should be strongly criticised. I don’t believe he should have been jailed because I don’t believe he is a threat. But he did receive a trial and I have to wonder what would happen to someone in Iran if they sent emails to the Supreme Leader saying that he should be killed.

    But there is a simple test to your theory. I’ll write a letter to the Home Office in the UK saying that I believe Gordon Brown is a war criminal, that the monarchy and system of parliamentary democracy is an affront to god and that Parliament should be replaced by an Islamic jurist.

    You write one to the Supreme Leader saying you think Islamic law shouldn’t be the basis of a constitution and that he is a criminal and that the whole system of the IRI is illegitimate and should be replaced

    We’ll then see who loses their job or gets a knock on the door from the police first.

    “If Americans love their system, why are so many of them members of anti-goverment militias and never bother to vote in any of the elections held?”

    Can you tell me the percentage of Americans who are members of anti-govt militias? And yes, they are crazy conspiracy theorists. Mind you, I’m starting to suspect you have a lot in common with them.

    But I’m disappointed that you have not developed your theory on voting rates being proportional to a desire to overthrow the government. It was very promising…

  353. Pak says:

    Dear Reza,

    I agree that the Green Movement is an anti-Ahmadinejad coalition as well as other things; is there a problem with that though? Are anti-Obama advocates in the United States imprisoned, tortured, raped and executed? This is why I disagree that the movement “cloaks” itself in a human rights agenda.

    Regarding your other points, claiming that Mousavi is a murderer only makes your support of the regime defunct. Regardless, I am not a personal supporter of Mousavi; I am a supporter of a movement that comprises young, old, rich, poor, religious, secular and innocent Iranians who are demanding basic human rights. Civil disobedience is expected from a civil rights movement. If the regime wants a compliant and functioning civil society, they should attend to the peoples’ grievances first.

    Finally, the US is by no means perfect and it has its own problems (which supporters of the regime absolutely love to exploit). Yet these problems are irrelevant for Iran. As I said in my previous post, politics is a dirty game and we should promote engagement with Iran. However, justifying domestic politics by blaming international politics is a mistake.

  354. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    You expect me to take counsel in the corporate-run media of America and think that they should have the final say on the 2000 election? Give-me-a-break.The American press is “free” just as Mcdonalds is “free” to sell fat-inducing burgers. There is no independent media in America.

    Political scientists have found solid evidence the election was stolen and the simple fact is that a state-wide recount, which would have settled the issue, was not done.

    In Iran, 10% of all ballot boxes were recounted even though the margin of victory was overwhelming.

    Btw, do you know that there are many bloggers and activist in the United States are in jail for criticising the war on terror: take the case of Vikram Buddhi who was locked up and the key thrown away.

    If Americans love their system, why are so many of them members of anti-goverment militias and never bother to vote in any of the elections held?

  355. Eric A. Brill says:

    SAME AS PRECEDING POST, BUT WITH SPACES ADDED BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS FOR EASIER READING:

    ChrisE and Scott Lucas,

    First, to Chris, on this (and similar observations you’ve made):

    “The mindset of people on this site is a real eye-opener (and is revealing in itself of where the Leveretts’ draw support).”

    You’re right that many people on this site look at Iran through a certain frame (or at least the ones who write on this site do: there are quite a few who read this site that don’t agree with much at all of what is written here, but they prefer to remain silent). Not necessarily always the Leveretts’ frame, as you’ll discover if you stay around for a while, as I hope you will, but a frame nonetheless. That’s how the human mind works, though. If one didn’t build mental frames to make sense of what strikes one’s senses every day, life would become quite exhausting. It’s simpler if all of the sights, sounds, smells and words can be made to fit somewhere – reshaped here, shrunken there, expanded somewhere else, discarded entirely if they just can’t be made to fit. Sometimes it’s easier to adjust the frame a bit if too many facts don’t fit in it, but most often we prefer to keep our frame and do without the offending facts.

    We all have that human shortcoming, and eventually each of us figures out that we all do – at least if we don’t die too young.

    But this is the key point here: We always recognize this shortcoming in other human beings before we recognize it in ourselves. And it’s during the time gap between those two events – a gap which, regrettably, sometimes lasts for several decades — that we are inclined to tell others that we’ve noticed that shortcoming in them.

    Enough said on that, I hope.

    Now to Scott:

    First, on your ostensibly generous acknowledgments – that “Mousavi hasn’t proven fraud,” that the question remains “open,” and similar statements: would that it were so. But it is not. Rarely does a day go by when this election question is not effectively declared to be “closed” in Mousavi’s favor. To be sure, that rarely is stated explicitly these days, but it’s stated nonetheless. Here’s a classic example of its more subtle form, from the April 1 New York Times:

    “Iran may seem an unlikely place to turn for guidance when it comes to putting together a democratic government, but that is exactly what most of Iraq’s political class did immediately after last month’s parliamentary elections.”

    In short, while more fair-minded writers like you say “open,” many others take “open” as a license to say “stolen.”

    That is precisely what prompted me to write my article (http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/). And though I appreciate that you, by contrast to that NY Times writer, have made a serious effort to look into this, I do not think that you – nor ChrisE – have squarely faced what I consider to be an inescapable fact: We indeed can know whether this election was or was not fair. You may not want to find out, since you might feel honor-bound to pass on what you’ve learned to those who still claim the election was stolen, but that does not mean you cannot find out.

    You can, and you should. That was the whole point of my article. To prove the election was fair, I offered essentially these statements (though somehow I managed to flesh out my article to a whopping 13,000 words – hard to believe, I know, since my posts on this board tend to be so pithy):

    1. Mousavi’s representatives watched the voting and the counting at 40,676 polling stations across Iran (89%), they approved the counts in writing, and none of them has since changed his mind. (In my article, I suggest a way to test the remaining 5,016 polling stations that I think you’ll agree is sensible.)

    2. The vote counts reported by the Interior Ministry in Tehran match the vote counts approved by Mousavi’s observers in the field.

    3. I rest my case.

    That’s a very tough case to challenge, Scott. And you don’t begin to meet that challenge with statements like this one:

    “On other points, the [Guardian Council] report glosses over the challenges. For example, the claim that ’40,676 [Mousavi representatives] were issued with ID cards’ does not answer Beheshti’s challenge that only 25,000 of those representatives were badged on the day and thus present in the stations.”

    That is not called “glossing over.” It’s called flatly contradicting what Mr. Beheshti is saying. He presumably has a list with 25,000 names on it. The Guardian Council claims to have a list with 40,676 names on it. The solution seems so obvious that one hesitates to suggest it: Compare the lists.

    If I were Mr. Beheshti and believed what I was saying, I’d have long ago demanded to see the Guardian Council’s list, identified the 15,676 names that were not also on my list, and then got on the phone and worked my way down the list, asking each name this question:

    “On election day, June 12, 2009, the Guardian Council claims you were at Polling Station 123 in Shiraz. Is that true?”

    If Mr. Beheshti is correct, he’d be well on his way to making Mousavi’s case after just one phone call. It is not appropriate for Mr. Beheshti to respond instead, as you essentially do on his behalf:

    “We say there were only 25,000 badge-carrying representatives there (and we’re not even going to tell you who they were). You have to prove that 40,676 were there, as you claim.”

    It will be a lot easier, Scott, for Mr. Beheshti to find just one name on the Guardian Council list who was not actually there. Please indulge me here and ask Mr. Beheshti whether he can do that for us, so we can resolve this once and for all.

    Now to your “communication systems were down” contention:

    Point taken. My understanding is that cell phones did not work for Ahmadinejad’s people either. But so what? Perhaps Mousavi’s people had all sorts of carefully orchestrated events planned for election day – rallies, speeches, songs, human chains, whatever – and there’s no question that working cell phones would have made all that easier to arrange and carry out. But how would that have affected the vote? Did any Mousavi observers have trouble reaching their polling stations? Their cars and scooters and bicycles and walking legs all worked fine, I assume. They knew the address of their polling station before election day, didn’t they? Campaigning had officially ended two days earlier, so there was no need to keep getting Mousavi’s message out to voters. The “get out the vote” effort might well have been impaired a bit, but Mousavi probably came out ahead on this point. His supporters were probably more motivated than Ahmadinejad’s to show up at the polls without being pressed to do so. At worst, that was probably a wash.

    Next, your point that there was not a “full and fully-supported enquiry.” If you read the GC report as carefully as it deserves (and I’ll concede the translator was probably better suited for another profession), you must have noted that it was difficult for the GC even to get Mousavi’s representatives to attend meetings, though various deadlines were extended repeatedly to accommodate Mousavi. Contrary to what you claimed in an early post, Mousavi never suggested a full recount – perish the thought. What Mousavi wanted, plain and simple, was a new election – not an enquiry, not a recount.

    (Incidentally, your analogy to Florida 2000 is shaky. By the time the Gore/Bush dispute reached the US Supreme Court, a state-wide recount indeed was at issue, but that is not what Mr. Gore had requested in the first place: he had asked only for a few specified counties to be recounted. I distinctly remember being disappointed with his request; I felt strongly that any recount should apply either to all of Florida’s counties or to none of them. Although Mr. Gore’s lawyers eventually came around to the “whole state” position to support their arguments before the Supreme Court, that was not Mr. Gore’s preference.)

    The GC approved the recount of 10% of the ballot boxes, which I believe you’ll find is prescribed under Iran’s election laws, without any cooperation from Mousavi’s representatives (or Karroubi’s – only Rezai’s people participated). Many video cameras recorded the recount, and hundreds of Rezai observers watched. Mousavi and Karroubi were asked to send representatives, but they declined. You’re correct that, when Rezai withdrew his challenge, there remained a few unresolved Rezai complaints. But if you review those unresolved complaints, you will have to concede that, even if all of them were valid, they would have affected a handful of votes at most.

    Next, you suggest that the Guardian Council somehow is obligated to clear up misconceptions in the minds of Mousavi and his representatives. Here is an example of what you say:

    “The report also does not address the reasons why the Mousavi camp thought on the day that there were disparities between their information and the official vote total.”

    Correct, the GC report did not address the Mousavi camp’s “reasons,” whatever they might have been – on this point or any other. Instead, the GC limited itself to the Mousavi camp’s actual “complaints.” That was its job. Often, Mousavi’s “reasons” were quite large – such as when he claimed in his newspaper that 10,000,000 Iranians were allowed to vote without showing proper identification – while his actual “complaints” to the Guardian Council were quite small (31 voters).

    Enough for now. The salient point here is simple, but I’ll repeat it:

    The question of this election’s validity and fairness cannot be considered “open” forever if the question can be answered and Mousavi has had a fair opportunity to answer it. The question can be answered, and he has had his fair opportunity to answer it. He hasn’t done so, nor have you, nor has anyone else. This might not matter if thousands of writers did not continue to consider “open” as a license to say “stolen.” But they do, and it’s time they either justify that or stop doing it.

  356. ChrisE says:

    @Reza

    I’m afraid your knowledge of American politics is extremely poor.

    I am no fan of Bush, and I’m not even American- but rest assured the votes in Florida have been recounted so many times there is very little doubt left that, unfortunately, Bush won.

    Every single recount of the votes in Florida determined that George W. Bush had won the state’s twenty-five electoral votes and therefore the presidency. This includes a manual recount of votes in largely Democratic counties by a consortium of news organizations, among them the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times. As the New York Times reported on November 21, 2001, “A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year’s presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward.” The USA Today recount team concluded: “Who would have won if Al Gore had gotten manual counts he requested in four counties? Answer: George W. Bush.”

    The difference is that America, for all its ills, has a free press. Iran, you have to be joking…

    The second difference is that Americans realised that ultimately, regardless of who wins, nobody is going to lock them up without trial, torture them, close their newspapers or initimidate the families of those who beg to differ with the govt. Not in America, at least…

    “The fact that Americans didn’t take to the streets and riot in 2000 (when perhaps they should have done in heinsight) is probably of their patriotism and because the last time this happened the National Guard shot dead 4 students at Kent State and the LA police basically beat up all the blacks in town following the Rodney King episode.”

    Yes, clearly the reason that the majority of Americans (who are white) didn’t take to the streets because they feared they would be shot dead by racist police. Of course, what a comprehensive grasp of America you have.

    “You are very naive if you think your system is supported by the people when only half actually turn out to vote in the national elections.”

    Oh so now you are putting forward a theory that there is a correlation between civil liberties, support for liberal democracy and electoral turnout. Wow, I presume in your next post u will provide evidence for this fine assertion.

    Or am I seriously to believe that there is more support for the system of government in Iraq (65%) than there is in Canada (58%)? You know, those Canucks are renowned for their seething rage at the awful conditions underwhich they live…down with the system!

  357. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PAK

    “The Green Movement is first and foremost a civil rights movement. The elections merely acted as a spark to ignite the movement.”

    NONSENSE! The Green movement is first and foremost an anti-Ahmadinejad coalition, with overtones to that of a color revolutionary one, that cloaks itself in a human rights agenda.

    Mousavi, for example, is the ex-PM who exectuted hundreds of PMOI detainees in 1988.

    The GM is fundamentally a civil disobedience movement and one which does not have any real goals other than causing maximum disruption to the present government.

  358. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela

    “I’ve not read the thousands of words dedicated to whether or not Iran’s election was legitimate, stolen, fraudulent, reflected the will of this majority or that majority. The arguments are, apparently, slam dunk validations for MY side. Or not.
    “The point is, it. is. none. of. the. US’s. goddamned. business. period.”
    You are absolutely correct , the elections are over and unlike the 2000 elections in US, the decision was not made at top, now, no matter if the foreigners like it or not the majority of Iranians are happy with the results and no one has produced any hard evidence countering they are not.
    Looks like to shout down the Leveretts, like of the Goldbergs and Wig Wag did not produce enough results, so they moved in the heavy weights. Since this heavy weights could not discuss and argue subject of the forum’s discussion which that is the US/ Iran relations, they preferred to change the subject and focus on the elections. No one on the site should or needs to be diverted and must focus on the subject on hand, as it was title of a few articles let Scott and Chris know, the Elections are over, and Ahmadinijad won live with it.” This forum is about to discuss possibility of realignment in Iran, US relations and as Chris complained about PERIOD.

  359. Eric A. Brill says:

    ChrisE and Scott Lucas,
    First, to Chris, on this (and similar observations you’ve made):
    “The mindset of people on this site is a real eye-opener (and is revealing in itself of where the Leveretts’ draw support).”
    You’re right that many people on this site look at Iran through a certain frame (or at least the ones who write on this site do: there are quite a few who read this site that don’t agree with much at all of what is written here, but they prefer to remain silent). Not necessarily always the Leveretts’ frame, as you’ll discover if you stay around for a while, as I hope you will, but a frame nonetheless. That’s how the human mind works, though. If one didn’t build mental frames to make sense of what strikes one’s senses every day, life would become quite exhausting. It’s simpler if all of the sights, sounds, smells and words can be made to fit somewhere – reshaped here, shrunken there, expanded somewhere else, discarded entirely if they just can’t be made to fit. Sometimes it’s easier to adjust the frame a bit if too many facts don’t fit in it, but most often we prefer to keep our frame and do without the offending facts.
    We all have that human shortcoming, and eventually each of us figures out that we all do – at least if we don’t die too young.
    But this is the key point here: We always recognize this shortcoming in other human beings before we recognize it in ourselves. And it’s during the time gap between those two events – a gap which, regrettably, sometimes lasts for several decades — that we are inclined to tell others that we’ve noticed that shortcoming in them.
    Enough said on that, I hope.
    Now to Scott:
    First, on your ostensibly generous acknowledgments – that “Mousavi hasn’t proven fraud,” that the question remains “open,” and similar statements: would that it were so. But it is not. Rarely does a day go by when this election question is effectively declared to be “closed” in Mousavi’s favor. To be sure, that rarely is stated explicitly these days, but it’s stated nonetheless. Here’s a classic example of its more subtle form, from the April 1 New York Times:
    “Iran may seem an unlikely place to turn for guidance when it comes to putting together a democratic government, but that is exactly what most of Iraq’s political class did immediately after last month’s parliamentary elections.”
    In short, while more fair-minded writers like you say “open,” many others take “open” as a license to say “stolen.”
    That is precisely what prompted me to write my article (http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/). And though I appreciate that you, by contrast to that NY Times writer, have made a serious effort to look into this, I do not think that you – nor ChrisE – have squarely faced what I consider to be an inescapable fact: We indeed can know whether this election was or was not fair. You may not want to find out, since you might feel honor-bound to pass on what you’ve learned to those who still claim the election was stolen, but that does not mean you cannot find out.
    You can, and you should. That was the whole point of my article. To prove the election was fair, I offered essentially these statements (though somehow I managed to flesh out my article to a whopping 13,000 words – hard to believe, I know, since my posts on this board tend to be so pithy):
    1. Mousavi’s representatives watched the voting and the counting at 40,676 polling stations across Iran (89%), they approved the counts in writing, and none of them has since changed his mind. (In my article, I suggest a way to test the remaining 5,016 polling stations that I think you’ll agree is sensible.)
    2. The vote counts reported by the Interior Ministry in Tehran match the vote counts approved by Mousavi’s observers in the field.
    3. I rest my case.
    That’s a very tough case to challenge, Scott. And you don’t begin to meet that challenge with statements like this one:
    “On other points, the [Guardian Council] report glosses over the challenges. For example, the claim that ’40,676 [Mousavi representatives] were issued with ID cards’ does not answer Beheshti’s challenge that only 25,000 of those representatives were badged on the day and thus present in the stations.”
    That is not called “glossing over.” It’s called flatly contradicting what Mr. Beheshti is saying. He presumably has a list with 25,000 names on it. The Guardian Council claims to have a list with 40,676 names on it. The solution seems so obvious that one hesitates to suggest it: Compare the lists.
    If I were Mr. Beheshti and believed what I was saying, I’d have long ago demanded to see the Guardian Council’s list, identified the 15,676 names that were not also on my list, and then got on the phone and worked my way down the list, asking each name this question:
    “On election day, June 12, 2009, the Guardian Council claims you were at Polling Station 123 in Shiraz. Is that true?”
    If Mr. Beheshti is correct, he’d be well on his way to making Mousavi’s case after just one phone call.
    It is not appropriate for Mr. Beheshti to respond instead, as you essentially do on his behalf:
    “We say there were only 25,000 badge-carrying representatives there (and we’re not even going to tell you who they were). You have to prove that 40,676 were there, as you claim.”
    It will be a lot easier, Scott, for Mr. Beheshti to find just one name on the Guardian Council list who was not actually there. Please indulge me here and ask Mr. Beheshti whether he can do that for us, so we can resolve this once and for all.
    Now to your “communication systems were down” contention:
    Point taken. My understanding is that cell phones did not work for Ahmadinejad’s people either. But so what? Perhaps Mousavi’s people had all sorts of carefully orchestrated events planned for election day – rallies, speeches, songs, human chains, whatever – and there’s no question that working cell phones would have made all that easier to arrange and carry out. But how would that have affected the vote? Did any Mousavi observers have trouble reaching their polling stations? Their cars and scooters and bicycles and walking legs all worked fine, I assume. They knew the address of their polling station before election day, didn’t they? Campaigning had officially ended two days earlier, so there was no need to keep getting Mousavi’s message out to voters. The “get out the vote” effort might well have been impaired a bit, but Mousavi probably came out ahead on this point. His supporters were probably more motivated than Ahmadinejad’s to show up at the polls without being pressed to do so. At worst, that was probably a wash.
    Next, your point that there was not a “full and fully-supported enquiry.” If you read the GC report as carefully as it deserves (and I’ll concede the translator was probably better suited for another profession), you must have noted that it was difficult for the GC even to get Mousavi’s representatives to attend meetings, though various deadlines were extended repeatedly to accommodate Mousavi. Contrary to what you claimed in an early post, Mousavi never suggested a full recount – perish the thought. What Mousavi wanted, plain and simple, was a new election – not an enquiry, not a recount.
    (Incidentally, your analogy to Florida 2000 is shaky. By the time the Gore/Bush dispute reached the US Supreme Court, a state-wide recount indeed was at issue, but that is not what Mr. Gore had requested in the first place: he had asked only for a few specified counties to be recounted. I distinctly remember being disappointed with his request; I felt strongly that any recount should apply either to all of Florida’s counties or to none of them. Although Mr. Gore’s lawyers eventually came around to the “whole state” position to support their arguments before the Supreme Court, that was not Mr. Gore’s preference.)
    The GC approved the recount of 10% of the ballot boxes, which I believe you’ll find is prescribed under Iran’s election laws, without any cooperation from Mousavi’s representatives (or Karroubi’s – only Rezai’s people participated). Many video cameras recorded the recount, and hundreds of Rezai observers watched. Mousavi and Karroubi were asked to send representatives, but they declined. You’re correct that, when Rezai withdrew his challenge, there remained a few unresolved Rezai complaints. But if you review those unresolved complaints, you will have to concede that, even if all of them were valid, they would have affected a handful of votes at most.
    Next, you suggest that the Guardian Council somehow is obligated to clear up misconceptions in the minds of Mousavi and his representatives. Here is an example of what you say:
    “The report also does not address the reasons why the Mousavi camp thought on the day that there were disparities between their information and the official vote total.”
    Correct, the GC report did not address the Mousavi camp’s “reasons,” whatever they might have been – on this point or any other. Instead, the GC limited itself to the Mousavi camp’s actual “complaints.” That was its job. Often, Mousavi’s “reasons” were quite large – such as when he claimed in his newspaper that 10,000,000 Iranians were allowed to vote without showing proper identification – while his actual “complaints” to the Guardian Council were quite small (31 voters).
    Enough for now. The salient point here is simple, but I’ll repeat it:
    The question of this election’s validity and fairness cannot be considered “open” forever if the question can be answered and Mousavi has had a fair opportunity to answer it. The question can be answered, and he has had his fair opportunity to answer it. He hasn’t done so, nor have you, nor has anyone else. This might not matter if thousands of writers did not continue to consider “open” as a license to say “stolen.” But they do, and it’s time they either justify that or stop doing it.

  360. Pak says:

    Dear All,

    All my opinions are my own and I do not speak for anyone else. Furthermore, while I am in opposition to the way in which the Leveretts defend the policy of engagement with Iran, I am still a supporter of engagement. I believe that exposing the regime and the Iranian people to the international community will ultimately result in the regime’s demise. If anybody would like to know why I think this, please ask me. The Leveretts’ defence of the regime, in order to promote engagement, is flawed and damaging.

    My two cents: this entire thread of debate is baseless because it presumes that democracy actually exists in Iran; it does not. Accepting the word of the regime through “official” reports and so on is just ignorant. These “official” reports offer an insight into the psyche of the regime, but they should never be accepted as the absolute truth. Yet for some crude reason, supporters of the regime are more than willing to spew hatred about western nations and denounce their governments as liars, but at the same time accept the regime’s word as the holy truth. I personally attribute this to the regime’s efforts to divide people into allies and enemies – much like Bush and his “you’re either with us, or against us” philosophy.

    The biggest indicator of the regime’s illegitimacy is their eternal and deep-rooted fear of a counter revolution, or “enghelabe makhmali” as they so love to call it. Instead of moving forward and establishing a fully functioning society, they have retained Iran in a revolutionary state for 31 years and continue to demonise any form of opposition. From a historical perspective, this is expected from an illegitimate ruling power whose primary focus is the consolidation of power and wealth. For example, the Nazis blamed the Jews; Stalin purged the “counter revolutionaries”. Regardless, if the regime is so sure of their legitimacy and popularity, they would welcome criticism rather than react violently against it.

    This apparent enemy is the perfect excuse to justify questionable policies and indoctrinate supporters. This leads me to the Green Movement and the animosity that surrounds it.

    The Green Movement is first and foremost a civil rights movement. The elections merely acted as a spark to ignite the movement. I have absolutely no idea what the true outcome of the election was, due to the lack of transparency and the blatantly flawed structure of Iran’s “democracy”; the results were merely an opinion poll for Khamenei and co. – as if they would let real democracy ruin their grand designs for Iran.

    In terms of the underlying reasons for such a civil rights movement, we have to look at the development of Iran; both politically/socially and economically. The rights of women are trampled on. The middle-class (comprised of very important people such as academics, doctors, artists and so on) are being dragged into poverty because of Ahmadinejad’s reckless economic policies. Unemployment runs at roughly 50% for young, highly educated graduates. There is little meritocracy; instead patronage is rife. Religious/ethnic minorities are marginalised and persecuted. I could go on forever.

    In terms of the protests – sometimes riots – it is an insult to the millions who peacefully and silently protested in June to label them as enemies. Again, from a historical point of view, it is expected of a regime such as Iran’s to provoke people into violence in order to justify the subsequent oppression. These people were not rioters. They were Iranians who were unhappy with the process and outcome of the elections, and were fulfilling their constitutional right to protest and demand explanations from their government. Yet, instead of adhering to the constitution, the regime advocated violence (see Khamenei’s Friday prayer or one of hundreds of statements released by the IRGC). Promote violence and you will obviously get violence. Of course, as I have already said, this is exactly what the regime wanted and it ultimately proved to be successful; just look at the number of people who “don’t condone violence” but at the same time “sympathise with the regime”. I would usually laugh at such opinions if their consequences weren’t so depressing.

    My final input is aimed directly to those who support the regime and denounce any form of opposition. The regime is full to the brim with corrupt and inept people. Their economic policies are disastrous and insulting; I insist you read through the latest budget to understand what I mean. They are liars and deceitful. They promote equity and justice, yet they have amassed unimaginable wealth and power. They insist on plurality, yet the entire structure of the regime is wholly undemocratic and closed to change.

    Mousavi and the majority who comprise the leadership structure of the Green Movement are true adherents to the revolution. They are not enemies. Why would they be allowed to run for presidency in the first place? So why is that their opposition to the current government has become so radical for you?

    Protesting should be an inalienable right (as stated in the constitution). People who protest, especially peacefully, should be applauded for their activism rather than demonised. Marginalising them will only make the situation worse. They are equal citizens of Iran and, even if they are a minority of the population, they should be listened to.

    Look at Mousavi’s statements. At what point does he become a threat to the regime? At what point does he call for the overthrow of the regime? He simply demands some very basic points, points that are taken for granted in most developed nations; points that are stated in the constitution.

    Thousands upon thousands of people have been imprisoned. Many have been tortured. Some have even been raped. And what about the people who have been killed? Executed? In what humane way can someone condone these actions? You can’t blame an enemy for something you undertake yourself; only you are to blame. Understating these facts, or simply ignoring them, in order to pursue a specific policy, as the Leveretts do, is ignorant and damaging for the Iranian people.

    Politics is a dirty game and I truly believe many countries have interfered in Iran. But hasn’t Iran interfered in other countries too? Unfortunately, that is politics, especially in a modern context. But it does not justify domestic politics. Only idiots fall for that trick.

    There is an undeniable force growing within Iran. Whether large or small, it exists. You can either support these people, who – I will emphasise again – are demanding the most basic rights, or you can let them succumb to oppression and persecution. Hey, the Shah did the same thing and look what eventually happened to him! Iran is a burgeoning country, one with huge potential. The achievements of the past 31 years are thanks to the Iranian people, not the regime. Liberate the politics of Iran and we will see a true regional superpower within decades. Let it oppress and pursue extremism and we will forever be stuck in a revolutionary state.

  361. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    “Ridiculous comparison. It didn’t create a crisis of legitimacy in the US because the system of government in the US, and the freedoms citizens enjoy there, are universally supported. Clearly a huge number of Iranians feel agrieved with how their government treats them- this is not comparable with the 2000 election dispute in America.”

    The system of government in the United States was exposed for what it is when the Supreme Court, a body consisting of Bushites, overruled a district court and prevented a recount in Florida when there were grounds for one. The Guardians council of Iran, no matter how partisan it is made out to be, approved a partial recount, investigated all of the claims about irregularities and published a report. It also offered to set up a committee to handle any disputes it couldn’t resolve, but Mousavi refused to cooperate.

    The fact that Americans didn’t take to the streets and riot in 2000 (when perhaps they should have done in heinsight) is probably of their patriotism and because the last time this happened the National Guard shot dead 4 students at Kent State and the LA police basically beat up all the blacks in town following the Rodney King episode.

    You are very naive if you think your system is supported by the people when only half actually turn out to vote in the national elections.

  362. Liz says:

    The people who Scott Lucas and his ranting PR chief ChrisE support were, in fact, violent demonstrators. They shamelessly supported them for months.

    The vast majority of the people in Tehran who demonstrated a few days after the election were peaceful and assumed that Mousavi had evidence of fraud. Of course, as I said some of the demonstrators were violent, but that is a different issue. The point is that the vast majority of those people quit the Mousavi camp as soon as they saw he had gone too far and that the elections were carried out in a correct manner. These people along with the vast majority of Iranians are now very hostile towards Mousavi because of his actions.

  363. Scott Lucas says:

    Mohammad,

    Much appreciated — I look forward to further dialogue. In meantime, I’ll pass your query re Safi Golpayegani to the author of the piece on Clerical Challenge.

    Scott

  364. ChrisE says:

    Edit: the sentence should read:

    Ridiculous comparison. It didn’t create a crisis of legitimacy in the US because the system of government in the US, and the freedoms citizens enjoy there, are universally supported. Clearly a huge number of Iranians feel agrieved with how their government treats them- this is not comparable with the 2000 election dispute in America.

  365. ChrisE says:

    @Reza

    You seem to be under the conviction that calling people ignorant and putting ‘PERIOD’ at the end of a sentence wins you the argument. It doesn’t. period.

    The lack of transparency in the election, and wider conviction that official figures cannot be asumed to be true, is self evident by the number of people in Iran who came out on the streets to dispute the figures. These people are not simply robots doing what their foreign masters command!

    Ultimately, you can hand over as much raw data as you want. The question will stil be has that data already been contaminated or manipulated?

    But how many more times do I have to say it was the perception of illegitimacy, electoral and political, that sparked this crisis.

    “You could say the same about the 1960 and 2000 elections in America (both of which were really stolen). But it didn’t create a crisis of legitimacy.”

    Ridiculous comparison. It didn’t create a crisis of legitimacy in the US because the system of government in Iran, and the freedoms citizens enjoy there, are universally supported. Clearly a huge number of Iranians feel agrieved with how their government treats them.

    Now you are actually onto to something because in the 1960s a sizeable (in fact huge) section of Americans were indeed disgusted with both the system and the behaviour of the government. It was called the civil rights movement and low and behold after mass protests, these courageous people managed to change the system and behaviour. One can hope that human rights activists in Iran (who are amongst the most courageous and persecuted individuals around) can force the IRI to afford more respect to human rights- and reflect this in law and practise of the judiciary.

    “If a minority in Iran feels aggrieved, so what?”

    Because the government has a duty of care over all of its citizens, not just the ones who don’t mind them bashing up protestors.

    “The protests have subsided since the initial weeks and months.”

    No, what actually happened was the the SL went to friday prayers and demanded that the protest ended. It didn’t..in fact it grew. It then consistently defied his authority and ultimately managed to take over events that have never ever been anything other than state-controlled rallying events for the revolution.

    Given the scale of regime’s crackdown, it was inevitable that protests would not reach the heights of those in June. Their abiding achievement was that despite the arrests, beatings, restrictions on movement, closing of newspapers, threats and intimidation they managed to maintain serious protests.

    “Anyone who has studied post-Revolution Iran knows that there have been far worse crises: The Tabriz rebellion of 1980, the Qazvin riots of 1994, the student uprising of 1999 where people chanted death to the SL. They came and they passed.”

    I beg to differ- clearly Rafsanjani, and suspect the SL, viewed this as the worst crisis since the revolution. But there are other reasons why your comparisons are invalid.

    1980- this was essentially in a period before the revolution had been fully consolidated. It was thus far easier to challenge it because it had not yet been fully forged. Plus, this was essentially an ethnic rebellion sparked by the sense that the Azeri had not received the devolved powers they had been promised. At the heart of this was also Shariatmadari’s challenge to Khomeini. The conflict was also between those competing elements of the revolution (Hezbollah or RG and the MPRM- with some links MEK- who had been in an uneasy alliance with Khomeini). Khomeini basically destoyed Shariatmadari and forced him to make a televised confession or face the execution of his son. But this struggle was essentially part of the ongoing revolutionary process- and competition regarding what the final version of the IRI should look like. It is not fair to compare this to a challenge 30 years after the eventual version had been consolidated.

    1994 Qazim riots. Again, an inaccurate comparison because this riot was ultimately economic and only economic in nature- it was sparked by a massive recession and the halving in the price of oil. Unemployment was 30%, the rial had lost 6x its value against the dollar and the price of bread had risen sixfold. The riots was in an industrial areas and was born of economic discontent and was not a call for political reform. Nor can the scale be compared- in terms of numbers of protestors, number of arrests or in terms of the visible challenge to the SL.

    The 1999 riots are again an innacurate comparison- although another example of the awful brutality of the Iranian security services which doesn’t seem to bother you. It cannot be compared in scale (6 days compared to 6 months, number of arrests, economic cost, number killed or political impact).

    “You expect the authorities to allow police to be pelted with stones and for protestors to go on the rampage.”

    That analysis rests on the assumption that a) the protestors were the first to resort to violence b) that the government response was proportional c) that the majority of protestors were ‘on the rampage’ or d) that the basij made any attempt to distinguish between protestors and ‘rioters’. None of these assumptions I accept. BTW are you the same Reza Ezfandiari who on another site claimed that Neda got eveything coming to her?

    “The peaceful lot stopped going out into the streets when it became clear the election was not rigged. The rioters and trouble makers continued.”

    That is simply a myth that allows your conscience to believe that the state was only attacking ‘trouble makers’.

    “There will be more elections and more opportunities for the reformists to make a comeback”

    Yes, it will be interesting to see whether Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi are even allowed to stand for election.

  366. Kathleen says:

    Sakineh Bagoom I have been linking this site all over the blogosphere. Let’s keep spreading the sane and moderate positions with Iran based on facts being validated by the Leveretts. Go viral with “The Race for Iran”

  367. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @Mohammad

    You’re wasting your time with Scott Lucas.

    He doesn’t understand how divisive and acrimonious Iranian politics can get.

    He doesn’t even seem to know about the Tabriz rebellion of Ayatollah Shariatmadari back in 1980 that was much more serious and where tanks were out on the streets.

    Iran went through the motions of madness and bloodletting and now everyone knows
    they just have to move on.

    There will be more elections and more opportunities for the reformists to make a comeback.

  368. Mohammad says:

    @Scott

    Thanks for your interest and your fair responses. I feel that the discussion is not over, and my arguments may have not been sufficiently convincing for some of your readers (who are apparently being told some nonsense :D – just kidding, BTW I felt that ‘the clerical challenge…’ was too simplistic. Also I suggest you research if Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani really called the election ‘a big lie’. I’ve not heard about it and It’s very, very unlikely). So I would prefer the discussion to reach at a more mature stage before being published on EA, if you agree. Thanks for your understanding. I hope I find enough time for continuing the discussion, given that Norouz holidays are over and I’m full-time busy with a fightening backlog of delayed work.

  369. Reza Esfandiari says:

    What Professor Lucas refuses to admit to are the evidence-based results of 3 independent surveys of Iranian public opinion where 70-80% of the Iranian population regarded the current government as legitimate.

    So, apparently, the existence of some 20% who do not is enough to call into question whether the West should bother to engage Iran or not.

    Lucas, like Roger Cohen of the NYTimes, is one of these people who has been charged with throwing as much dirt on the Ahmadinejad administration as possible to leave the options of war or subversion open to Western policy makers.

    But if the bombs fall, he will walk away and say he never wished it to happen.

    That’s the scurrilous manner of the man we are dealing with.

  370. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    My best wishes to you, your family, and your guests for 13 Bedar.

    I look forward to continuing our exchange of information and ideas. I think you appreciate my position which is 1) that it cannot be established with certainty whether or not fraud occurred on 12/13 June and that, in the absence of that certainty, the question is one of legitimacy of the Government and not necessarily the Islamic Republic; 2) that the post-election response of the Iranian leadership did not resolve that issue of legitimacy and raised issues about the Iranian system beyond the election; 3) the vast majority of Iranians who turned out on 15 June were not in “violent mobs”, the majority of Iranians who continue to raise issues about the system are not seeking the overthrow of the IRI, and the majority of those detained since 12 June have no connection with “violent mobs”, regime change, or foreign intelligence services.

    Scott

  371. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    Let’s address these points you and Scott made.

    “1. Iran’s electoral system is so untransparent, and has such a history of irregularities, that it is impossible to verify the exact result. That’s not to say Mousavi won, just that we will never truely know by how much AN won because there has not been a thorough investigation by a credible organisation (the GC is not credible).”

    That is a completely ignorant statement. Iran has held 25 national elections in 30 years and, while there were complaints about candidate bans or the annulling of certain votes, there has been full transparency over the counting of the vote. In this election, the disaggregated polling data from 45,632 ballot boxes was released for the first time and not just the provincial and district data.

    “2. Regardless of the actual result, quite clearly 100,000s of Iranians (possibly even millions) shared the sense that the system lacked transparency. There was a crisis of legitimacy, whether people like it or not.”

    You could say the same about the 1960 and 2000 elections in America (both of which were really stolen). But it didn’t create a crisis of legitimacy. If a minority in Iran feels aggrieved, so what? Why did they bother voting if they thought the election was going to be rigged? Democracy is about majority rule PERIOD

    “3. That this protest did not go away- in fact it grew into the biggest popular challenge to the conditions in which millions of Iranians live any Iranian govt has faced. Events that were once safe rallying calls for the Islamic republic became liabilities and the SL’s authority was challenged in an unprecedented manner.”

    The protests have subsided since the initial weeks and months. The Ashura unrest was explosive because a much smaller crowd turned violent. Anyone who has studied post-Revolution Iran knows that there have been far worse crises: The Tabriz rebellion of 1980, the Qazvin riots of 1994, the student uprising of 1999 where people chanted death to the SL. They came and they passed.

    “4. That, rocked by this, the regime through all sense of responsibility out the window and moved to crush all expression of dissent. That they should be admonished for doing so.”

    You expect the authorities to allow police to be pelted with stones and for protestors to go on the rampage. Do you remember what happened in the the LA Riots of 1992?

    “5. That despite this repression, the courageous protestors took to the steets demanding now that this kind of repression should end and that efforts should be made to liberalise Iranian society.”

    Again, you fail to differentiate between peaceful protestors and violent demonstrators. The peaceful lot stopped going out into the streets when it became clear the election was not rigged. The rioters and trouble makers continued.

  372. Fiorangela Leone says:

    I’ve not read the thousands of words dedicated to whether or not Iran’s election was legitimate, stolen, fraudulent, reflected the will of this majority or that majority. The arguments are, apparently, slam dunk validations for MY side. Or not.

    The point is, it. is. none. of. the. US’s. goddamned. business. period.

    With the signing of the Algiers Accord, the US promised to stay out of Iran’s internal affairs.
    Does any Iranian person, institute, volunteer organization, government-funded NGO, or Iranian government agency support efforts to examine the entrails of US elections and delegitimize them in order to strongarm international parties to economically strangle and militarily threaten Iran? Show me, I’m from Missouri. If you can’t show me, then, in the expressive symbology of the blogosphere, STFU.

    Let’s get down to the business of an intelligent discussion of AMERICAN interests and the furtherance of an American future world where my kids and yours will live: will it be one where the US will be in perpetual war with Iran, a nation that wants a relationship with the US, which war will complete the bankrupting of the US, or will it be a nation that lives up to its foundational values of equal justice, rule of law, “malice toward none,” and “every man at peace under his own vine and fig tree?”

  373. Iranian says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I didn’t know we were to meet in January! You confuse me with someone else, though I think I know who you mean. You are too obsessed with conspiracy theories, I believe. The points I mentioned are well documented, but unlike you I don’t have a team of people working for me to do these things. You can even send email to these MPs and let us know what they say in response. I’ll see if I can find time to do a small search in the coming days. Today is Sezda be dar and we have guests. Most people here seem to think that you already know that there was no fraud and that you, wittingly or otherwise, were supporting violent mobs that were trying to overthrow the legitimate president. I guess you will have to live with that.

    In any case, if anyone happens to travel to Iran, please send a message through raceforiran.com and hopefully through the manager of the website we can meet in my humble office in the Foreign Ministry. Once again I’d like to thank the Leveretts for their courageous stance.

    Your sidekick (ChrisE) isn’t doing much to enhance your reputation, is he?

  374. Scott Lucas says:

    Mohammad,

    Thank you very much for a valuable interpretation. I agree generally but there is so much to discuss. For the moment, I’ll limit myself to three points:

    1. “I’m almost confident that no fraud large enough to change the election outcome had happened.” — Speculation here: I agree in the sense that Ahmadinejad was likely to have won a plurality of the vote and maybe even a majority. But was there such a worry about the outcome or a wish for a clear mandate that authorities went too far, say in raising a vote percentage from 53% to 63%?

    2. “I think that they genuinely believed that the mass demonstrations were potentially dangerous to the security of the state, i.e. it could easily turn violent if some opportunists tried to provoke the crowd.”

    There had been little violence, apart from the late-night incident around the Basij station, on 15 June. There was little evidence, as far as I know, that MKO and proscribed organisations had a major role in 15 June. So from where was this fear, if it prompted the Supreme Leader’s hard line on 19 June, arising? Was the SL simply super-imposing the foreign/terrorist label on a mass movement of Iranians who were demanding change?

    3. In most opinion, did most Iranians see the detentions of Hajjarian, Aminzadeh, Ramezanzadeh, Tajzadeh, Abtahi, Atrianfar, and many other politicians, activists, and journalists as necessary for “security”? Do they still think that way over the detention of a cultural figure like Panahi?

    Would you object to a repost of this exchange on EA? I have found it very helpful, and I believe our readers would as well.

    Scott

  375. Mohammad says:

    @Scott

    Thanks for your balanced reply.

    You said: “I think that the Supreme Leader’s decision on 19 June at Friday Prayers to make a defiant stand against any compromise with the opposition, while extending a hand to Rafsanjani, was significant. Any room for discussions was closed off, so by the next day with the renewed mass demonstrations, the situation was moving towards conflict — the Ministry of Interior’s decision not to allow protest was a symptom, if not a cause, of this. Recognising there were further deaths on that day, I don’t think this was a case of a deliberate policy (on either side) to use violence, but it was inevitable that the physical clashes would escalate given the changing political atmosphere.”
    I fully agree that the strategy taken by the IRI leadership was inappropriate and the escalation was inevitable, but I would attribute that to the lack of enough sophistication in crisis management, since I’m almost confident that no fraud large enough to change the election outcome had happened, and the result of the strategy was clearly not in favor of the IRI (of course if one doesn’t accept my assessment of the election results, he would come at a different hypothesis). But I think that they genuinely believed that the mass demonstrations were potentially dangerous to the security of the state, i.e. it could easily turn violent if some opportunists tried to provoke the crowd. I believe they were reasonable to be alarmed. They decided that the best way to address that was what Khamenei did in the Friday prayers; asking to replace street demonstrations with the legal process and at the same time warning against further street protests (I don’t agree that Khamenei ‘closed any room for discussions’, his message was clear: Don’t use force to challenge the election result, and use legally-acceptable ways instead. He also played down the possibility of election fraud which I’m not sure if it was helpful, on one hand it made conservative Mousavi supporters who believed in Khamenei’s integrity think twice about the allegations (I know several of those people), and on the other hand it antagonized the reformists who didn’t trust Khamenei further). It was effective: the number of demonstrators was reduced by a factor of 100 in the day after (June 20th). But violence erupted and the reputation of IRI was seriously damaged.

    You also said: “You make some good points about security and civil rights, but I don’t see this case as one that necessarily was “either/or”. It is possible to envisage how both could be ensured with a political settlement — the tragedy is that has not occurred and, indeed, the possibility of it has receded with each move since 19 June.”
    I agree that it isn’t ‘either/or’ and a political settlement was possible. But as I said before, it needs a certain amount of sophistication which clearly lacks in the decision-makers, and a political settlement was in no way an easy task. More than a settlement with Mousavi, who didn’t seem nearly willing to compromise (he called for an outright re-run of the election from the start and refused being challenged on the TV), I think the IRI could settle it with a much-better-thought-out public campaign, without restricting the media. Such capability and courage doesn’t exist in the rather-conservative Iranian leadership and government, and I don’t think it was necessarily because they were ill-intending. Also it’s worth noting that ‘compromise’ is not something Iranians are familiar with; it’s a common Iranian trait no to compromise on the issues one sees himself righteous. Compromising in such a setting would be seen as a sign of weakness and/or indecisiveness.

    You also said: “Where I think I would differ from the “many” you cite are the detentions and abuses as “occasional mistakes”. This is far more serious, as a roll call of those arrested without cause, abused, and sometimes killed would indicate. While one does not have to agree with the opposition, a fundamental right to justice and security — in this case, personal security — from the State should not be suspended by the Government’s declaration of “crisis”.”
    By ‘many’, I meant the majority of Iranians who generally support the IRI. But I have to elaborate on their thinking: First, most of them don’t blame the government for the general decision to restrict freedom and go after the reformists and activists who ‘provoked illegal actions and violence’ by their actions and sayings. They see it justified (esp. to preserve state security), as I pointed out in my previous post. This is a clash of values as I said, since many others see it as a violation of freedom of expression which they deem a ‘fundamental right’. Second, they do see the undefendable actions like ignoring the legal rights of detainees, torture, rape and killing as ‘occasional mistakes’ and that is rather the authorities’ official position. The officials claim that they investigate such incidents and they are not the norm. Personally, I don’t believe that torture, rape and killing are common, but I heavily disgust and condemn the widespread ignoring of the rights of detainees and their families (nightly arrests without charge, not allowing the families to meet the arrested, arrests without proper investigation of the issue, etc.) which is even sometimes criticized publicly by conservative MPs and outlets.

  376. ChrisE says:

    This is getting truly astonishing- the mindset of people on this site is a real eye-opener (and is revealing in itself of where the Leveretts’ draw support).

    So we have now got to the stage where ‘Iranian’ (SMM) and Liz (who I assume is in contact with ‘Iranian’) is basically saying, and please be honest here, that Scott Lucas is receiving funding from people who want to overthrow the govt of Iran (i.e the govt, CIA, or perhaps the global Zionist conspiracy that everyone who doesn’t like the Iranian regime is apparently part of)

    Wow. Just Wow. If ever there was a case of the burden of history and cognitive dissonance obstructing rational thought…

    I know and have worked for EA and I am a close personal friend of Scott. I’m telling you hand on heart, on my life, that EA receives no such funding and is simply a labour of love for Scott. The idea that he receives money from people with a political agenda is really the last gasp from people who are one step away from the lunatic asylum.

    The irony here is that I’m sure Dr Marandi thinks it is equally laughable that people believe he is working for Iranian intelligence.

    The problem with people here is that they only want to have the debate they want and not in response to the actual one that is occuring. When they get frustrated, they simply insult them, accuse them of ridiculous things and say that those who disagree know nothing about Iran and are politically motivated.

    Regardless of where you stand politically, these people have shown an unwillingness or inability to hold a constructive, let alone civil, conversation. That’s why this website is basically a procession of rants and diatribe with only a very few meaningful contributers (Eric, Mohammed spring to mind).

    The case is simple. Scott Lucas is not saying, however much you would like to think he is, that this election was ‘stolen’. Nor has he ever, and you go through the thousands of words he has written and countless interviews, that the Green Movement has the potential to overthrow the ISI. He certainly has not stated that anyone in the West should be supporting them to this end. Others in the west, I might add, have said all of these things- and Scott, and myself, have disagreed with them in print. We obviously oppose any kind of conflict with Iran- read EA and it is constantly attacking the hardliners.

    What I believe Scott is saying is:

    1. Iran’s electoral system is so untransparent, and has such a history of irregularities, that it is impossible to verify the exact result. That’s not to say Mousavi won, just that we will never truely know by how much AN won because there has not been a thorough investigation by a credible organisation (the GC is not credible).

    2. Regardless of the actual result, quite clearly 100,000s of Iranians (possibly even millions) shared the sense that the system lacked transparency. There was a crisis of legitimacy, whether people like it or not.

    3. That this protest did not go away- in fact it grew into the biggest popular challenge to the conditions in which millions of Iranians live any Iranian govt has faced. Events that were once safe rallying calls for the Islamic republic became liabilities and the SL’s authority was challenged in an unprecedented manner.

    4. That, rocked by this, the regime through all sense of responsibility out the window and moved to crush all expression of dissent. That they should be admonished for doing so.

    5. That despite this repression, the courageous protestors took to the steets demanding now that this kind of repression should end and that efforts should be made to liberalise Iranian society.

    At the very least, there is clash of cultures between millions of Iranians who want a more open society and (probably a majority) who cling to the strict theocratic basis of Khomeini’s visision. In the middle I suspect that is a larger majority who are broadly apolitical and who simply want a quiet life. I suspect this group broadly dissaproved of all the violence. Be sure, however, that this tension between the first two groups will continue to fester and is a ticking time bomb, particularly as Iran’s eonomic problems worsen and the subsidies lavished on poorer people are no longer affordable.

    If conditions worsen, the middle ground I mentioned are liable to turn on the regime, as they did under the Shah, if they believe that there is an alternative that could improve their material and social well-being (in other words a more open society and better relations with the west- not the dismantling of the IRI- for which I know there is wide support)

    At some point, more reform will have to come and at some point allegations of CIA or Mossad plots will no longer be an adequate basis for denying them.

    People on the forum seem to be under the illusion that all that happened in 2009 was that a view foreign funded criminal tried to overthrow the govt because Mousavi lied to them. What actually happened was that the electoral dispute tapped into a much wider malaise in how the revolution has panned out. That’s why people like Montazari and other leading lights of the revolution such as Ebrahim Yazdi or Entezam are correct to say that the revolution has not lived up to what it promised in 1979.

    Nobody here seems to want to contemplate that the government crackdown was appalling or that the rights which millions of Iranians claim, and are currently denied, are pretty basic. For example it seems fairly appalling to me that Marandi, who teaches at Tehran Uni, says nothing about the brutal beating of people who could be HIS STUDENTS, whilst they slept in their dormitories http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/23/tehran-university-night-r_n_473568.html

    Anyway, that’s my two cents and I await your insults maskerading as analysis…

    And for those who run down Scott. At the end of the day, he is a full professor in a top university who has published countless acclaimed books and articles. His opinion is clearly valued by BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, NYT, the Times,(even Press TV). What have you achieved apart from shouting on this forum?

    On that note, can someone tell me why the North American Institue in Tehran has magically vanished? Is its website being re-vamped or has it been permanently deemed unsuitable? On a final note, can someone point me to a list of recent academic publications (books or peer-reviewed journals) from staff in that institute?

  377. Scott Lucas says:

    Kamran,

    I would be grateful for any link to the meeting in question. I have not been able to find a record of it, which does not of course that it did not occur.

    However, 1) the Mousavi campaign not only maintained but stepped up their challenge to the legitimacy of the elections in the days after Akhoundi supposedly made his statement; 2) Akhoundi, if he did accept that there were no irregularities on 16 or 17 June, changed his position by 5 July.

    Scott

  378. Kamran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I agree with the others. You sound more and more like a UFO buff. It is a well known fact that Dr. Abbass Akhoundi stated in the meeting that there was no fraud. He was one of the 3 people from the Mousavi team who participated in the meeting and there were at least 40-50 witnesses and the meeting was recorded. There is no denying his role and significance. You are only aiding the forces of conflict.

  379. Scott Lucas says:

    Dear Iranian,

    I should add that I value this opportunity to resume our correspondence (and thank Race for Iran for providing the space), given that we did not have the opportunity in January to exchange views.

    Scott

  380. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rev Magdalen, I regret that family and work obligations prevent me from responding to your reply as fully as it deserves. I will make only this one observation at this time:

    You write about the sacrosanct nature of embassies:

    ” An embassy is a vital place for citizens overseas to find refuge and assistance, and as ChrisE points out, this is a legal matter that for hundreds of years has been a bedrock of our civilization. Our civilization is based on the rule of law, and this is a pretty huge law to break.”

    iirc Stephen Kinzer researched the embassy takeover quite thoroughly in “All the Shah’s Men.” The siege by college students was initially a rather impulsive act — the sort of mayhem that people like Illinois Congressmen Mike Kirk hope to arouse Iranians to engage in as a furious response to the economic deprivation they experience from sanctions imposed by Kirk and his fellow congressmen. It took on an entirely different quality when Iranians discovered evidence of America’s perfidious use of the embassy on Iranian soil to spy on and steal from the Iranian people.

    American embassy officials failed to completely destroy documents — reams of documents were shredded, not burned — and Iranian weavers reassembled the bits of paper and reconstituted the documents. These papers, that took advantage of protected and privileged space on Iranian soil, revealed a pervasive pattern of US and Israeli spying and deception (“taqiyya”??) against their hosts and ALLIES, the Iranian government and its people. The Iranians had in their hands evidence that the United States had, over a period of many years, abused the “rule of law,” the “bedrock of civilization” — Americans and Israelis had reduced the US embassy from a “vital place for citizens overseas to find refuge and assistance” to a den of thieves, the hideout of a criminal gang. If you understand anything at all about Iranians, you must know that to extend hospitality to everyone is deeply embedded in the soul of Middle Easterners, a function of the harsh climate that requires mutual cooperation just to survive. For Americans to have violated this mutual exchange of hospitality is would be perceived by Iranians not so much a criminal act as the sign of a character that is deeply flawed in an essential way.

    True, the embassy has not been returned to the US government. I believe it houses the 90 or so volumes of documents reassembled by Iranian weavers, “guarded” by one of the burned-out American helos.

    In retaliation for the embassy takeover and the hostage situation, the US has confiscated billions of dollars in Iranian assets in the US and elsewhere. Recently, the US seized a mosque in an American city on the specious claim that it was somehow contributing to Iranian “terrorist” activities. It is unheard of that a “civilized” nation would take the a religious building, surely the place of sanctuary for all citizens. No rule of law here, just raw, vicious power at work: the power of an out-of-control Israeli government that sees Iran as the last remaining barrier preventing it from achieving its goal of complete dominance of the Palestinian people, and that uses a complicit American congress to aid and abet Israel in its unlawful and inhuman exercise of colonization.

    (for yet another example of the depths to which our “civilized” allies have sunk, please review this report http://www.mamillacampaign.org/etemplate.php?id=74 of Israel’s bulldozing of an Arab cemetery to replace it with an Israeli museum. Then come back and we’ll discuss whether the US uses “rule of law” or some other value system to decide whether one nation or another should be treated as “special” or as “any other nation, relative to American interests” or as a pariah.)

  381. Scott Lucas says:

    Iranian@Iran,

    All staff and contributors at Enduring America, including me, work as volunteers and do not receive payment. Thus we have been able to flourish despite the issues faced by the UK universities.

    Scott

  382. Scott Lucas says:

    Iranian,

    Sorry, but diatribe and speculation about personal motives is not discussion or a response to the points raised.

    Beheshti oversaw the Mousavi campaign operation — that is why he was the first Mousavi representative to speak at the 5 July meeting with the Supreme Leader. Akhondi had a specific duty liaising with Interior Ministry.

    More importantly, I posted the evidence that Akhondi did NOT endorse the election result and explicitly rejected it at the 5 July meeting with the Supreme Leader. Unless you have evidence to contrary, I am afraid your initial claim is wrong.

    I still await your evidence — any Persian-language website is fine — that your “major reformists” explictly endorsed the election, rather than making the argument that, while they had problems over the process, it was time to focus on issues beyond the election.

    I also note that you did not respond to the point that your selected reformists are not the entirety of “major” figures in the opposition and that there are many others — whom you do not consider — who do not consider the Government legitimate.

    I look forward to your direct engagement with those issues.

    Scott

  383. Iranian says:

    Liz and Iranian@Iran:

    “Chrise admitts that Scott Lucas (who dishonestly claimed that he is an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran) has a team of Persion translators. Regardless of where all this funding comes from, it’s clear that this well funded person has little logic and is little more than a mouthpiece.”

    “I’ve looked up Scott Lucas and he has an interesting piece on Christopher Hitchens (after 9/11). It’s ironic…In any case, you shouldn’t be surprised about his irrational stance. If he were to be honest and accept the truth about the elections, would he still be able to have a team of people working for him, at a time when painful cuts have been made across the board at universities in the UK and US?”

    I think the problem with Scott Lucas is that he has surrounded himself with a green team and he doesn’t really know what is going on in Iran. Anyone who has watched the high profile debates on Iranian national television over the past few months (Channel 2, Channel 3, Channel 4, and the News Channel would know that reformist MPs do not support Mousavi or his claims. Also, most of the people (not all) who he claims say there was fraud, only held such beliefs for the first few weeks. The problem with Scott Lucas, it seems, is that he has put so much effort (and received so much funding) in supporting the greens that he feels he can’t retreat, so now he is looking more and more partisan and dishonest. When he doesn’t know or comprehend that Dr. Akhoundi was the person who oversaw evens in the Interior Ministry on behalf of Mousavi and is therefore the most important person in that camp in this regard, what can one say?

  384. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Pirouz,

    Thank you for a thoughtful reply.

    1. I fully agree with you that the issues have moved far beyond the June election. Indeed, although the election was not officially resolved until Ahmadinejad’s inauguration in August, I think the debate — over not only the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad but of other structures and officials in the Islamic Republic — moved beyond the election within days, with the mass detentions, the Supreme Leader’s Friday Prayer address, and the clashes over demonstrations.

    My concern is that others, including the Leveretts, keep going back to the supposed legitimacy conferred by the election to close off debate on these wider issues within Iran.

    2. I respect your own decisions. The wider question is whether those who choose to protest and do so peacefully and without subversion are respected.

    3. The WPO polls are bad polls, simple as that. They were bad in September, when a foreign organisation thought it could get accurate opinion inside Iran by telephone at a time of great political pressure and tension. They were bad when their results were distorted by WPO, taking out and disregarding the large number of “don’t knows” on key questions. And they were bad in January, when they were matched by suddenly-appearing University of Tehran polls taken before the election but never made public.

    (I should add that I put no stock in other purported pre-election polls which showed Mousavi with the largest share of support because they, too, were flawed.)

    But even if you take the WPO polls at face value, there has been no attempt at legitimate polling — there can’t be, given the situation inside Iran — since September.

    The Leveretts’ own reading of the situation, as far as I can tell, is based on those polls, information passed to them by a University of Tehran academic who is strongly pro-regime, and the limited range of people they were permitted to meet on their visit to Tehran. If they have more than this, I would be happy to consider those sources.

    4. I agree fully with you on the principle of engagement; indeed, I was a strong advocate of engagement in practice up to June 2009. Where I differ is whether, given the internal situation in Iran and political and legal issues, the US deals with a Government which is not necessarily legitimate and which has betrayed the ideals of the Islamic Republic in the eyes of many of its people.

    Scott

  385. Pirouz says:

    Scott, when I watched the live stream of the NIAC forum held in DC a couple of weeks ago, I mistook you for Scott Harrop. Needless to say, I couldn’t believe my ears. But now I know better.

    You can go round and round with the evidence (or lack thereof) over the June 2009 election. Most GM activists have moved on, and many don’t even wish to discuss it any further. They feel post-election events have made the actual election itself insignificant by comparison. And besides, the smoking gun is simply not there. I mean to say, it isn’t in any way clear-cut like the 2000 US election.

    My father was Iranian, which legally entitles me to Iranian citizenship. Like you, I had the opportunity of living and studying in Iran. Unlike you, I voted in the June 2009 election. I voted Green. The post-election situation initially took me by surprise. But I did not protest, and I have not become subversive. And judging by the WPO polling results and subsequent analyses, my sentiments are representative of the mainstream in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Now you might say my sentiments are anecdotal, unscientific or flawed for any number of other reasons. But this is all beside the point. The point is that the Leveretts have- to date- correctly gauged the situation, and their America-centric rationale for a true engagement and rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran is both logical and sound. Just as US rapprochement with China provided many benefits for Americans and Chinese citizens (my American uncle fought Chinese soldiers two decades before in Korea), similar potential benefits exist for American and Iranian citizens. It makes perfect sense. To resist such a grandiose positive potential in the name of a perceived (or misperceived) sequence of injustices or an overhyped threat or a false choice fallacy, is to deprive what is in the best interests of American and Iran citizens. It really is as simple as that.

  386. Iranian@Iran says:

    Liz:

    “Chrise admitts that Scott Lucas (who dishonestly claimed that he is an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran) has a team of Persion translators. Regardless of where all this funding comes from, it’s clear that this well funded person has little logic and is little more than a mouthpiece.”

    I’ve looked up Scott Lucas and he has an interesting piece on Christopher Hitchens (after 9/11). It’s ironic…In any case, you shouldn’t be surprised about his irrational stance. If he were to be honest and accept the truth about the elections, would he still be able to have a team of people working for him, at a time when painful cuts have been made across the board at universities in the UK and US?

  387. Pirouz says:

    You know, Rev, you would think actual loss of life would amount to more than being detained for a period of time.

    As for the Liberty incident, there is a mountain of evidence that points to the conclusion that it was not a case of mistaken identity.

    And as far as the embassy goes, while I myself do not condone takeovers of such, put yourself in the Iranians’ position (if you can): the US engineered a coup against a democratically elected government, a brutal US puppet dictator was installed, and then decades later when this brutal puppet was finally ejected, the US takes him back (for medical treatment). Many Iranians believed (rightly or wrongly) the US was preparing to reinstall his brutal regime. So they took over what they considered a “spy den.” And by the way, Rev, there were plenty of documents seized in that embassy that supported the contention that it was indeed a spy den.

    Talk about ignored discussion points, I notice YOU didn’t touch upon Iran Air Flight 655. And by the way, that plane was determined to be ascending, not descending. So I don’t want to hear another one of your bogus “mistaken identity” defenses.

    But all of this is precisely what needs to be set aside. I’m half-American (Native American). Last week, I set a card bearing my cousin’s likeness beside the wall at the Vietnam War memorial in Washington DC. Do you think I go around bad mouthing Vietnam for attacking the US embassy during Tet? Or continually harken back to the the sneak attacks on DaNang AFB? Or any other action considered terrorist by the US during that conflict? No.

    It’s past time to think beyond this perpetuated US-Iran cold war. Stop being brainwashed, Rev. Take away the blinkers. Try to realize rapprochement. If my written appeal is too hard to swallow, go to your nearest department store, buy a cheap T-shirt with a label that says “Made in Vietnam” and put it on. Take it from me, it’s a good feeling.

  388. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    It looks like the Leveretts have skipped away to the safer ground of US engagement with Iran, but I’d like to continue our discussion. Thank you, Eric, for the refresher of the Guardian Council report.

    1. SUBSTANCE

    The report does not address key points raised by Mousavi representatives. For example, there is no consideration — as far as I can tell — of disruption of communications or the detentions and intimidation just before and on Election Day and in the days afterwards.

    On other points, the report glosses over the challenges. For example, the claim that “40,676 [Mousavi representatives] were issued with ID cards” does not answer Beheshti’s challenge that only 25,000 of those representatives were badged on the day and thus present in the stations. Certainly, if we had access to every signed Form 22 from 12/13 June, that might begin to answer the question of how many Mousavi representatives were indeed present — is that information available?

    (As for Masoud’s pondering about a Beheshti magic carpet, he’s quite right that a disruption of communications would have prevented Beheshti getting totals on the day. By the end of August, provided Mousavi campaigners had not been detained and were incommunicado, he would have been able to confirm what had happened.)

    The report also does not address the reasons why the Mousavi camp thought on the day that there were disparities between their information and the official vote total. In particular, there was a meeting between Mousavi and Larijani on 12 June — as you know, the Mousavi camp would later claim that they were told Mousavi was winning and should prepare for the Presidency; Larijani denies that he said this.

    There are numerous other points glossed over, which we can continue to pick up but….

    2. CONTEXT

    The biggest problem with the report is that it was not the outcome of a full and fully-supported enquiry. None of the three candidates (Mousavi, Karroubi, Rezaei) were happy with the GC process, as a meeting with Khamenei on 5 July makes clear. It is true that Rezaei dropped his challenge to the vote total and accepted the 10% sampling, but he never dropped his claims of irregularities that were not addressed by the GC.

    The negotiations with Mousavi and Karroubi for their participation in the process foundered over 1) the scope of the recount and 2) the investigation of circumstances surrounding the election, such as the intimidation of their campaign staff. The GC’s insistence on 10% raised the problem that this would not be a random selection but one carried out to ensure the “right” (i.e., unmanipulated) boxes would be chosen. At one point at the end of June, there was discussion of a sample of all boxes in four provinces; why this was not agreed is still a matter of dispute.

    (A similar partial v. full recount issue had come up in the US Presidential election of 2000. A full recount of Florida’s ballots was finally agreed but this was halted by the US Supreme Court.)

    As for investigation of intimidation and other irregularities, that was going to be difficult if not impossible by the end of June. The regime had begun sweeping up Mousavi and Karroubi supporters and prominent reformists such as Abtahi, Hajjarian, and Tajzadeh. No one in the opposition campaigns could be assured of safety.

    So the debate will continue: one can choose to blame Mousavi and Karroubi, despite all the pressure on their supporters and advisors, for not accepting a limited recount and investigation or one can choose to blame the Iranian leadership for curbing any effective and thus meaningful enquiry. (A key reason why not only Karroubi but also Rafsanjani is still pressing the demand to “reform” the Guardian Council)

    What I don’t anyone can do is claim that the GC report resolved the major issues. Indeed, it was only a day after its release that Rafsanjani and the opposition took a defiant position.

    Yours sincerely,

    Scott

  389. Scott Lucas says:

    Dear Iranian,

    Regarding your assertion that even “Mousavi’s most important aide” and “all major reformists” have endorsed the election:

    1. Abbas Akhoundi was not Mousavi’s “most important aide”; that was Alireza Beheshti, who has protested against the illegitimacy of the election and been pursued and detained for his troubles.

    Regardless, Akhoundi did not endorse the result. From the notes of a meeting with the Supreme Leader on 5 July 2009 (posted on Pedestrian blog), this is what he told Ayatollah Khamenei: “In 97 when Khatami won, the general public accepted that result. Today, things are much different. A huge number out there have many questions left unanswered.”

    2. We’re still looking for confirmation of your claims that Tabesh, Khabbaz, Kavakebian, and Pezeshkian explicitly endorsed the election rather than moving past the election — without endorsing it — to focus on other issues such as detentions and Government-supported abuses.

    It would be difficult for any of these gentlemen to offer such an endorsement since no reformist MPs were allowed into the Ministry of Interior in the days after the election.

    In any case — and we checked this last night with an opposition figure — none of those individuals are leading individuals in the Green Movement.

    3. When Mousavi, Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami, Hajjarian, Alviri, Abtahi, Beheshti, Dastgheib, Sane’i, parties such as Etemade Melli, journalists’ organisations, human rights organisations, student organisations, and many others continue to maintain that the Ahmadinejad Government is illegitimate, the claim that only “western backed websites and the Greens in DC” are maintaining a protest is, well, just a bit tenuous.

    Best wishes form your colleague,

    Scott

  390. Liz says:

    masoud, Dan Cooper, Fiorangela Leone, Eric A. Brill,…brilliant stuff

    MChrise admitts that Scott Lucas (who dishonestly claimed that he is an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran) has a team of Persion translators. Regardless of where all this funding comes from, it’s clear that this well funded person has little logic and is little more than a mouthpiece.

  391. Rev. Magdalen says:

    @Fiorangela Leone Thank you for your detailed reply and your correction of my grammar. I also thank you for your family’s service to our nation. I am afraid I am too naive to fully understand your argument.

    To me it seems as though the invasion of the sovereign soil of an embassy is actually quite a big deal. An embassy is a vital place for citizens overseas to find refuge and assistance, and as ChrisE points out, this is a legal matter that for hundreds of years has been a bedrock of our civilization. Our civilization is based on the rule of law, and this is a pretty huge law to break. Usually breaking this law leads directly to war, but Carter chose to refrain from exercising that completely legal and justified option, so claiming now that Carter was overly harsh is, as ChrisE points out, simply untrue. Many other people in Carter’s shoes would have immediately invaded and completely crushed the fledgling Islamic Republic.

    You claim that other countries have harmed the United States in the past, so you suggest that Iran should be considered no different from them. Could you please inform me which other countries have invaded American embassies, and whether or not they still hold them? As for the incident at the USS Liberty, which took place during an active battle in an apparent case of mistaken identity, the Israelis did in fact immediately apologize profusely for the tragedy. Do you know of any photos of Israelis gloating over US bodies as seen in Iran?

    In order for someone to get over the “ghost” of an event, as Mr. Canning suggests, the event has to actually be over. As long as that embassy building is still held by the IRI, it is still occupying American soil. If that simply does not matter to you, and you think it is okay for American embassies to be overrun whenever a host country is displeased with American policy, well, you’re free to feel that way but I suggest you spare a moment to think of the Americans overseas who depend on the embassy as a safe haven in time of need. There are formal procedures for expelling an embassy from a country if the host country wishes to sever ties. Invading and capturing the civilians working there is right out.

    As for taqiyya practiced by high level politicians, such as, for example, those who assure the West they have full authority to negotiate a deal, only to reveal later they actually did not have that authority and in fact the deal is off, that is in no way the same as covert operatives practicing the normal deception involved in undercover work, which all nations engage in for the purposes of assessing threats and catching criminals. When diplomats sit down at a negotiating table, they need to know that the person across from them actually has the decision-making power they claim to have, and they need to know that a deal will stay a deal.

    I couldn’t help noticing you completely ignored a few of my points, for example that Iranian leaders may not actually WANT American friendship, given that they consistently refer to America as their enemy, and in fact having an all-purpose archenemy is kind of a major cornerstone of the IRI’s strategy to stay in power. Crushing human rights to eliminate dissent is another major element of IRI survival strategy, and I notice you did not mention that either. I urge you to investigate what has been happening to the Baha’i in Iran, among the countless other abuses, before deciding whether or not this is a regime the United States of America ought to normalize relations with.

  392. Dan Cooper says:

    not only, the Islamic Republic has survived “31 years of sanctions, 8 years of a devastating US-baked war and immense international pressure” but also has improved tremendously in field of science, technology and medicine and her standing in “the middle east and none alliance countries” is immense.

    In the age of the satellite and internet, “the US and Israel propaganda” that Iran is building nuclear weapon and its election was fraudulent, will not fool the international community anymore. The truth will eventually come out, as did the truth in Iraq.

    Israel has well over 200 illegal nuclear bombs, has violated international laws and human rights many times over and is wiping Palestine of the map by systematically slaughtering its habitants but the same countries that are imposing sanction against Iran, has never even considered imposing one sanction against Israel and its brutal leaders.

    Where is justice in this world?

    How can “America, Britain, France and Germany, etc” preach about justice and human rights in the world when they so openly violates its fundamental principles?

    Ahmadinejad is a mother-Teresa, compared to the brutal and criminal leaders of Israel.

    Islamic Republic will never capitulate or alter its nuclear program in a way that is beneficial to Western interests, and I don’t blame them.

    From my understanding of the country, Iranian are proud people and fanatical about their independence and sovereignty.

    They have lost more than One million martyred to the US backed Iraq war;

    Each martyr probably has about 20 closest acquaintances such as, his or her parents, brothers, sisters, relations and friend who religiously and fanatically back IR’s ideology.

    These are the core supporters of the regime, which total more than at least 20 million people.

    These people are already aware that sanctions have nothing to do with nuclear program but are designed by USA to divide and de-stabilize the system and to turn more Iranian people against their government.

    No matter what hardship they suffer under the sanction, these loyal supporters of the regime will never allow another US Imperialist puppet regime to govern Iran ever again.

    In my opinion, even if USA and Israel eventually manage to destabilize the Iranian regime, they will only create another hell like Iraq.

    There will be a civil war in Iran, much bloodier than Iraq, the like of which we have never seen before.

    Iran will be divided into smaller counties such as Baluchistan, lurrestan, Azarbiyajan, Kurdistan etc.

    The only looser will be Iranian people and those Iranian who foolishly supported “the US and Israel” policy to change the regime.

  393. Dan Cooper says:

    Fiorangela Leone

    I enjoyed reading your response to Rev. Magdalen.

    It was full of common sense.

  394. Dan Cooper says:

    Pirouz :
    March 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm
    @ChisE

    I could not agree more with your post dated above.

  395. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rev. Magdalen:
    First, let me say I like your interpretation of Drs. Leverett’s argument concerning Iran-US relations; namely,

    “that Iran should be treated as a full and equal nation to any other nation (particularly Israel), and no one should deem credible any talk of Iran as a bad actor or threat in the region.”

    You disagree, asserting that “the United States, WITH ALL ITS HISTORY, has the right to treat Iran differently than [sic] other nations in its foreign policy.”

    I question the “all-ness” of the history you reference, as well as the fundamental logic of your argument.

    For your logic to sustain itself, EVERY nation that has a “history” of bad acts or rhetoric regarding the US should be denied the right to be treated like nations that, presumably, have NOT so mistreated the US. You specify Israel as a nation to which you would compare Iran in the way it should be treated by the US.

    Israel killed 37 American sailors when it fired on the Liberty. Israel has not apologized for that act. When the US discovered that Israel was engaging in nuclear research activities, it requested that Israel enroll in the NPT regimen; Israel refused, but did agree to an American inspection program. When Americans did inspect Israeli nuclear facilities in Dimona, they were deceived by Israelis, who bricked up access to areas where nuclear weapons development was taking place. So, should Israel be refused the right to be treated like “any other nation” in US foreign policy? Is Iran the ONLY nation for which a “history” of bad acts should demand that it NOT be treated “like any other nation?”

    (That last question brings to mind the statement made by a member of a synagogue-group in the audience at an event in 2007 when Walt and Mearsheimer discussed their book, “The Israel Lobby.” Walt and Mearsheimer suggested that Israel SHOULD be treated by the US like “any other nation;” the woman from the audience resisted that recommendation and insisted that Israel should continue to be treated as ‘special’ by the US.)

    The history of Iran’s bad acts that you recite is one-sided. True, Iranians did “invade” the US embassy; I’m well-acquainted with the event: my spouse was involved in the aborted rescue mission. But you fail to include in your recitation of “history” that a US naval vessel shot down an Iranian civilian aircraft, killing all 290 persons aboard. George Bush vowed he “would never apologize” for that act. The US fed intelligence to Iraq that facilitated Saddam’s targeting of Iranian towns and villages, which Saddam bombed with chemicals and gas, killing thousands and sickening tens of thousands of Iranian civilians. Chemical weapons were specifically banned in the aftermath of WWI, and had not been used by any nation from that time until Iraq used them against Iran. Giandomenico Picco, who lead negotiations that ended the Iran-Iraq war, spoke on a Wilson Center panel about the “competing narratives” of suffering and victimization that nations in the Middle East, including Iran and now Iraq, believe should be heard and respected. They, too, have endured suffering to which they say, “Never again.”

    Your argument that Iran should not be trusted because it functions under a practice of deceiving its enemies is almost charming in its naivete. It is popularly believed that Israel’s Mossad operates under the saying, “War by way of deception.” And do you really, truly believe that the US’s CIA is a paragon of honesty and truth-telling with its friends, much less its enemies? Moreover, as Hillary Mann Leverett said in the interview with Charlie Rose:

    ” I think very few Americans have had the chance to sit with them [Iranians] in
    negotiations or privately to really discuss and ask them without judging
    what are your national security interests? What are your imperatives?
    What are your weaknesses?

    They’re not going to get up there on television and say “We have no
    conventional military power to project force.” They’re not going to do
    that.”

    What nation would?

    In sum, Rev. Magdalen, I don’t think your assertions hold much water.

    But more importantly, it is my impression that the Leveretts are aware of the entire history of US-Iran relations — both sides, both sets of grievances — but are more concerned with finding a path through that brier patch of mutual recriminations to arrive at a point where the interests of the people of the United States can best be served, vis-a-vis Iran.

    The history can’t be changed; it’s really not useful to perpetually re-live it. (Israeli-born psychologist Avigail Abarbenel argues that Israel makes a grave mistake in perpetually re-traumatizing itself with holocaust narratives; University of Pennsylvania political science professor Ian Lustick validates Abarbenel’s ‘diagnosis’ and agrees that Israel’s repetition of its holocaust narrative is like a “death cult” and “is very dangerous.”)

    What CAN be accomplished is to work for a future relationship less laden with mistrust and resentment, that will provide mutually beneficial opportunities for both Iranians and the citizens of the United States to prosper. That’s the direction the Leveretts are attempting to persuade US leaders to pursue.

  396. ChrisE says:

    @ Mr Canning

    OK this is the one area I will unashamedly claim expertise in because my doctoral research dealt with Carter’s policy in Iran.

    We can debate about whether the seizure of the US hostages was the understandable backlash against 30 years of US support for the Shah. I don’t see it as justifiable (and clearly it wasn’t under any defintion of international law)- but that’s really not the debate I want to get into.

    But what you simply cannot possibly, even by any perverse twisting of the historical record, describe Carter’s response to the illegal seizure of over 50 US citizens and their subsequent detention and physical abuse over 444 days as rash or an overeaction!!

    What world do you live in!

    Let’s look at what actually happened. Within days Carter sent a delegation with a personal letter asking Khomeini to release the hostages on moral and religious grounds. Khomeini refused to receive the delegation and it languished in Turkey.

    Carter then took the issue to the UNSC- which asked Iran to release the hostages (eventually the UN route became irrelevant because soon after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan it was clear they would veto any resolution)

    Carter then symbolically suspended oil imports- the Iranians said they didn’t care and had intended to stop selling to the US anyway (the nature of the swap market relegated both statements symbolic anyway).

    Carter froze Iranian assets. OK, quite a drastic move but do you honestly blame the US president for trying to establish a multi-billion dollar incentive for the Iranians to release the hostages? What would you have done? Asked politely for Iran to please observe all norms of international law and centuries of diplomatic convention? The UN had already demanded their release, so had the International Court of Justice, so had the Soviet Union- so had many sensible Iranians.

    Carter ultimately (and I think sensibly)overuled all those who wanted to bomb Iran, mine its harbours or send in the Marines (and there was significant pressure for him to do so).

    After six months of asking nicley, he finally enacted trade sanctions and persuaded his allies to do the same. They had no effect because trade between US-Iran had already ceased and because the Europeans put so many loopholes in their sanctions they were meaningless. In fact, Carter didn’t really want to drastically hurt the Iranian economy because he was worried that Iran’s destabalisation would encourage the Soviets to extend their foray into Afghanistan further south.

    AFTER SEVEN MONTHS OF FAILED INITIATIVES he authorised a very limited rescue plan. It failed spectacularly and Iranian clerics were pictured gloating over the burned corpses of US soldiers. Carter resigned himself to the fact that there was nothing he could do to get Tehran to release the hostages and eventually, because the hardliners had extracted the optimum amount of political capital out of them, and because the priority was now the war with Iraq (and they then really needed those frozen assets back) Iran released them.

    You are probably right to suggest that Khomeini did not know about the plan in advance, but he knew an opportunity when he saw it.

    We can argue about the wrongs of US policy in Iran- but you will not find one sensible analyst who would characterise Carter’s response as an over-reaction. In fact, one of the reasons he lost the 1980 election to Reagan was because he was seen as not doing enough.

  397. James Canning says:

    Glenn Greewald has an interesting piece on deliberate lying about Iranian nuclear threat, by Justin Fishel on Fox News: “‘Reporting’ on Iran should seem familiar”
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn-greenwald

  398. James Canning says:

    Rev. Magdalen,

    Do you recall Ahamdinejad’s September 2007 visit to New York? He wanted to extend the hand of friendship to the US, and he spoke at Columbia University. The president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, received heavy pressure from Jews in New York to be rude to the Iranian president – - which of course Bollinger did (in spades). The American newsmedia had a frenzy about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran and ignored entirely the important purpose of the visit. Vicious and stupid.

  399. James Canning says:

    Rev. Magdalen,

    Surely you are not trying to resurrect the ghost of the hostage crisis, more than thirty years later?! Are you aware that the students took over the US embassy without letting Khomeini know their plans? My understanding is that the Iranians likely would have released the hostages before very long, had it not been for the grotesque over-reaction of the Carter administration (egged on by the US news media).

    Back in the 1990s, the same sort of sulking was preventing restoration of normal US relations with Vietnam. I recommened a trial balloon be sent up, in the shape of a trade mission to Hanoi (to judge public reaction).

    Aipac used the hostage crisis as part of their propaganda against the proposed huge Conoco deal with Iran back in the 1990s. Vicious and stupid.

  400. masoud says:

    Salam to you as well, Scott,

    As requested, i will now address the claims you bring in some more detail before launching into my denunciations.

    Quoting a Mousavi partisan making unatributable anecdotes is hardly different than relaying them yourself. I realize that given the standards of US media as of late, that may be beyond some people’s grasp, so let me expand:

    Did Beheshti fly all over Iran on a magic carpet on election day and personally observing the “many” volunteers being turned away from the polling booths, or was he sitting at headquarters all day receiving reports? He doesn’t make that clear. At best, he did personally witness all the events he is referring too, but fails to explicitly cite himself as a witness, ie attribute these stories to his own experiences, and is therefore guilty of relaying unattributable anecdotes in as proof of election fraud.

    “We even had information that pro-Ahmadinejad newspapers had prepared their victory pages on Thursday [the day before the election]. In some cases they modified the pages so that they appeared neutral. It was obvious the election was taking an illegal turn.”
    Additional attributed non/bsense.

    “We had certain statistics, also had information through contacts that confirmed Mr. Mousavi is the winner. That’s why Mr. Mousavi decided to announce his victory….”
    More unattributed nonsense.

    “It appeared that the authorities were no longer interested in counting actual votes, at that point the focus had shifted to “computer vote count”, something which was supposed to be only use as an experiment….”
    Yet more unattributed nonsense.

    There is also lack of specificity: who exactly in the telecommunications department did they talk to that was in a position to give them assurances that the security measures taken on election day would not include SMS going down? If the green camp suspected that there was a high level political conspiracy against them and the the network would be taken down to that end, why would they bother talking to some technocrat about it anyway?

    And general unbelievability: If mobile and sms was down, and in addition all their land lines were cut, how on earth were they able to ‘receive reports’ and grow concerned throughout the day? Allegations like these can only survive for appreciable amounts of time in countries were tweets claiming the shutdown of SMS and Internet in Iran are taken as serious reports. Iran moved on after about a month.

    But the crucial issue at hand is this: even if we give Mr. Beheshti the benefit of the doubt, and try and use the information he has provided us with to demonstrate election fraud, we couldn’t, because all the allegations he makes regarding the vote count irregularities are non-falsifiable. If we track down one group of Mousavi supporters and ask them ‘where you barred from polling places’ and they answer no, this doesn’t disprove Mr. Beheshti’s claim, because it could have been another group that was maltreated. Or it could have been another polling station shutdown too early. Beheshti, who is an official representative of Mousavi, is careful not to make a falsifiable claim because then it could empirically refuted in short order. In this way Mousavi was able to drag out this drama in the court of public opinion far longer than it would have lasted in any fair tribunal, but in the end, he failed anyway. Good riddance.

    Trying to engage logically with partisans of this viewpoint is a spurious exercise. You’d have just as much luck trying to argue with the freaks who claim than Jesus buried dinosaur bones in the ground for us to find in order test our faith. The best thing to do is to put up your own firewalls so that you never take anything they report on seriously unless you can corroborate everything they say with a respectable source and highlight the most obviously absurd claims of their belief system whenever they afford you the priority. But most important, these people should never be allowed to set ‘moral standards’.

    When you are either crazy or stupid or malevolent(or all three), your stated opinions about what statements you find ‘disgusting’, and what norms you want everyone else to follow are highly irrelevant.

  401. ChrisE says:

    @ Liz

    “It’s sad that someone like you who knows absolutely no Persian can claim to to be an expert on Iran.”

    Well there go the credentials of your idols the Leveretts- neither of whom, as far as I understand, are fluent in Persian. I assume you will now also discount their analysis?

    Whilst I submit that knowledge of Persian is probably a pre-requisite of assuming the title ‘expert’, it does not preclude someone from making a serious contribution to understanding of events. Especially when Scott Lucas’ website has a dedicated team of translators- no doubt so do the Leveretts (well, they have Marandi, at least).

    But beyond that, not knowing Persian or having lived in Iran does not preclude someone from taking issue with the behaviour of that government.

    For example, many people in Iran (and elsewhere) have extremely strong views about Israel without a working knowledge of Hebrew or, indeed, having ever been there. In fact, I dare say a good many people declare extremely strong views about America (e.g. Khamenei) without understanding English or having been to America.

    So, Liz, if you’re going to keep banging on about hypocracy, please try not to practise it so brazenly yourself.

    Merci ;)

  402. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott,

    Good luck. Make sure you don’t miss this sentence:

    “Following the investigations, it became clear that those representatives who claimed that they were dismissed from the polling stations were not officially representatives of the presidential election candidates and there has been no report of any problem for those representatives who had ID cards.”

  403. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Masoud,

    The “anecdotes” are not mine; they are the claims of Mousavi’s chief advisor, Alireza Beheshti. At least do them the justice of addressing them directly — as Eric has — before launching your denunciations.

    Scott

  404. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Thank you. It has been some time since I read the report so I will return to it and then continue our conversation.

    Scott

  405. masoud says:

    It really is hard not be struck by how stupid the arguments put forth by election doubters are. They are meticulously reconstructing the exact same logical fallacies they used to sell the Iraq War to the public.”Well maybe we haven’t yet found out where exactly Sadam is hiding those Nukes, but that’s only because he’s refused to cooperate with our investigations”.

    Objectively speaking, there is more evidence to corroborate the basic fairness of the 2009 elections than there is evidence to refute the allegation that Rahm Emanuel is a pedophile. But were not going to ate calls from the punditocracy to investigate the latter.

    What gets me is that after reading a wonderful article that explains in excruciating detail why general vague and ancillary anecdotes don’t amount to evidence, and are for all intensive purposes useless for the purposes of determining the fairness of the election process, Proffesor. Lucas rebuts with a series generally vague and largely unattributable anecdotes, peppered in with the usual glaring omissions(Iran had been targeted in a series of high profile terrorist attacks, sponsored by the Obama regime in the weeks leading up to the election, which constituted very valid security grounds for the suspension of SMS), and outright lies(in the environment that followed the elections the ‘opposition’ leveled every charge under the sun against their opponents in very graphic detail, including the allegation that the police service was employing large scale rape of protesters to put down their ‘movement’, details of exactly which ballot boxes were supposed to have been fiddled with are quite uncontroversial in comparison).

    There really is no attacking the logic of these ‘green’ arguments, as there really isn’t any logic behind them. As long as ‘US Analysts’ keep on living in their parallel world their quaint thought processes will seem perfectly natural to them.

  406. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott Lucas,

    I spot a golden opportunity for you. Quite a few of your assertions are flatly contradicted by the Guardian Council report on the election (http://www.iranaffairs.com/files/document.pdf).

    I did not accept a single assertion in the Guardian Council report as fact unless it cited independently verifiable sources. I did read it, though. Your comments suggest to me that you probably have not, or that it’s been long enough since you read it that you ought to take another look. It makes so many factual assertions that it should be an easy matter for you to poke holes in it.

    Here’s one to get you started:

    You write: “Even many of the volunteers with badges were asked to leave the voting stations.”

    The Guardian Council report flatly denies this. It says this did not happen. Not even once.

    How more stark a conflict could one ask for? The Guardian Council is leading with its chin on this one, don’t you agree?

    Perhaps you could ask Mr. Beheshti to get in touch with one of those turned-away volunteers with badges. At least one of them must remember which voting station he was asked to leave.

  407. kooshy says:

    James

    “Surely one can question the wisdom of pushing too hard against the government, by means of street demonstrations, without being regarded as the supporter of brutality, etc.”

    The Reformers have a very famous tactic that they have bragged about since the 1997 elections, back then, this was apparently, designed by Mr. Hajarian, it is called pressure from below and negation on the top. This again was the entire tactic of Moussavi’s camp during and after the summer elections. Moussavi by declaring himself the winner prior to the official results was using this tactic to pressure the government to negotiate for a rerun. Since they knew he is to lose. Ayatollah Khamenie did not buy that, and then they sent the famous letter of Rafsanjain to pressure Ayatollah Khamenie to reconsider. He did not buy that either, therefore they sent the troops to the street, which was, warned by Rafsanjani in his letter, same as in the Georgia even they rallied in front of the parliament. A standard CIA inspired color revolution operation, Pressure from bellow negotiations on the top

    Eric, I don’t’ care if Scott Lucas buys it or not, but I am glad Ayatollah khamanie didn’t go for it otherwise we had Georgia all again

  408. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    It’s sad that someone like you who knows absolutely no Persian can claim to to be an expert on Iran. You seem to know absolutely nothing about the debates and discussions taking place inside the country.

    In fact, I have the Norouz copy of the Panjareh journal right in front of me. Read pages 34-6. I’m not an Iranian, but I can read this material. Can you?

  409. Rev. Magdalen says:

    It’s humbling making a comment after so many wonderfully detailed and well-reasoned posts, but here are my two cents. The main thrust of the Leverett’s viewpoint seems to be that Iran should be treated as a full and equal nation to any other nation (particularly Israel), and no one should deem credible any talk of Iran as a bad actor or threat in the region. This seems to me to be the essence of the debate: does Iran have the right to be treated like any other nation, or does the United States, with all its history, have the right to treat Iran differently than other nations in its foreign policy?

    I submit the answer is yes, there are several reasons why the United States has every right to treat the current government ruling Iran differently than other nations. Here are just three:

    First and foremost, Iran invaded the United States Embassy, captured American citizens, and held them for an extended period of time. Although the citizens were later released, the IRI have never apologized or offered restitution, and still hold the embassy. In fact, they use the building as a museum to display exhibits criticizing America as an evil nation. Invading the sovereign territory of a nation and capturing its citizens is the most basic and obvious act of war possible. The IRI declared war on the United States with that act, and the US simply chose not to respond in kind. (Strange behavior for a supposedly bloodthirsty nation.)

    Ahmadinejad and other Regime officials, on both sides of the internal split, regularly refer to the entire Western civilization as their “enemies.” The “translation error” argument is invalid on serious investigation, which reveals a clear pattern of openly referring to the West as the enemy of Iran, sometimes accompanied by an expression of the desire to punch the West in the mouth. Even Juan Cole readily admits that while Ahmadinejad never said the most infamous phrases he is accused of, he does in fact often state that the world would be better off without the existence of the nation of Israel, a close ally of the United States. This type of language may be easily scoffed at by those who do not have a duty to investigate and respond to threats to the United States and its allies, but those who do have that duty must consider these words at their face value, even if there is little the IRI’s armed forces could actually do to back them up. A nation that wants to harm America, but simply physically cannot, might gain that capability later, so it is the intention that matters when America’s defenders are assessing threats.

    Third, the leaders of the nation of Iran openly subscribe to a religious philosophy that advocates the practice of “taqiyya” or deception for the purposes of defeating enemies. Having already revealed that they consider the United States to be their “enemy” it is only logical to assume that these leaders consider using taqiyya on the United States as morally acceptable. That is not a workable situation for any kind of negotiation, treaty, or even business deals. The United States cannot do business with a nation that does not accept the very concept of “good faith” in business or politics. The USA frequently fails to live up to the concept of “good faith” but the Islamic Republic of Iran rejects it out of hand and insists that they have a religious right to deceive people they consider to be enemies.

    These are just three reasons why the government of the United States, in the interests of good stewardship of the people and lands in its care, has every right to treat Iran as a special case. There are serious barriers to normalizing relations that the IRI has not shown any interest in resolving, and although America has indeed in the past shamefully and dishonorably disgraced its own highest ideals in many ways, these PARTICULAR things are not, in fact, America’s fault.

    Now, as to why humans in general, including non-Americans, should treat Iran as a special case, I refer you to the excellent arguments put forth by Scott Lucas and ChrisE on the human rights abuses currently ongoing in the IRI, which have been reported by many HR agencies as among the very worst in the world. In fact, there is much evidence that a quiet genocide of the Baha’i has been going on for decades. Contrary to the false logic put forth by some, human rights abuses have no confined jurisdiction or statute of limitations, and anyone can raise a complaint about them. If you are human, you qualify as authorized to complain about and try to stop human rights abuses.

  410. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Iranian,

    It is excellent to be back in correspondence with you.

    Would be grateful to links supporting your claims that Akhoundi and “all major reformists” have accepted the legitimacy of the election.

    Scott

  411. Scott Lucas says:

    Eric,

    Unfortunately, we are talking past each other. You claim, without a successful Mousavi challenge, that the election is legitimate beyond doubt. I argue that, without a process of due diligence to review the election in full (a process which was not agreed after the election in 12 June because of disputes between all the “defeated” candidates — not just Mousavi — and the Iranian leadership), there is no way to confirm legitimacy.

    Consider the testimony of Alireza Beheshti in response to the assertion of a full and fair count:

    “We had around 40,000 volunteers and requested permissions for them, but only 25,000 of the volunteers were given permissions and badges. The rest were not issued badges and were not allowed to be present at the polling booths. Even many of the volunteers with badges were asked to leave the voting stations. They tried to prevent our observers from doing their work.

    We had predicted the communication authority to disrupt the wireless service, especially SMS service on that day, so we had contacted them in advance about this and they had given us assurance of service on the election day. We also added more landlines in the headquarters. On the night before the Election Day, they shut down all wireless services, including SMS messaging. When on the evening before the Election Day, we tried to use the landlines we had set up for the committee we realized all 300 landlines were out of service….

    ulted the Guardian Council, the Ministry of Justice, even contacted Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative seeking advice. We did everything we could but didn’t see a genuine will to resolve the issues.

    At the same time from whatever information our observers were able to send back, we were receiving news of massive support among voters, positive and encouraging remarks of supporters of Mr. Mousavi returning from voting stations. It was around 2 p.m. when we noticed there are more serious issues in the voting process. Until then the most worrisome issue was the news of shortages of voter registration forms in cities, even large cities like Tabriz and Shiraz. There was also the issue of extending voting hours. In most previous elections, the authorities always extended voting hours to maximize participation but in this election things seemed different. In some districts they closed the voting booths as early as 7:30 pm and stopped the voting activity. This was very strange….

    It appeared that the authorities were no longer interested in counting actual votes, at that point the focus had shifted to “computer vote count”, something which was supposed to be only used as an experiment….

    The official and pro-government media had announced an Ahmadinejad victory from early evening hours. We even had information that pro-Ahmadinejad newspapers had prepared their victory pages on Thursday [the day before the election]. In some cases they modified the pages so that they appeared neutral. It was obvious the election was taking an illegal turn. We had certain statistics, also had information through contacts that confirmed Mr. Mousavi is the winner. That’s why Mr. Mousavi decided to announce his victory….

    One of the things that was very suspicious on election day was the raids against Mousavi’s election headquarters and their illegal closures. For example, the Gheytarieh headquarters and soon after that the central headquarters were closed by force without any official warrants. The authorities we contacted presented no answer or reason for doing this. Our inquiries about this were always one-way; we wrote letters and filed reports, but never heard any response or saw any action from authorities….”

    Of course, Beheshti may not be correct, but his case — and it is not the only one put forward, despite the claims of “Iranian” — needs to be addressed, rather than simply re-asserting a smooth transition from Form 22 to Form 28 in the count.

    Scott

  412. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    The danger posed to the national security of the US, and the peace of the Middle East, by the overarching power of the Israel lobby in the US, gets much too little attention. Most American Jews in fact are not keen on the oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis, but they are reluctant to speak up. And most US politicians are either too foolish, or too cowardly, to speak out.

  413. James Canning says:

    Speaking in Algiers today, the Iranian foreign minister confirmed Iran still wishes to achieve the swap of its LEU for the 20% U needed for the medical research reactor, following IAEA protocol. I continue to be fascinated by Hillary Clinton’s reluctance even to mention the fact Turkey and Japan have offered to act as intermediaries for any exchange. (A morbid fascination, I will admit.)

  414. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    I share your wariness about the defection of the Iranian nuclear scientist. ABC reported he might be able to provide information about the “newly discovered” Iranian nuclear facility near Qom. That facility did not even have centrifuges installed, as of the time of defection. Maybe ABC News expected him to discuss the wiring or plumbing?

  415. Iranian says:

    Eric:

    A very impressive job. I think everyone should read your paper. One thing that you should add, which people like Scott Lucas try to hide from the English speaking public, but which is a well known fact among Iranians, is the fact that Mousavi’s most important aid stated that there was no fraud.

    Dr. Abbas Akhoundi, who previously as the deputy of the Interior Ministry, had been in charge of holding numerous elections in the past, stated in an important meeting 5 days after the election that their was no manipulation of the election results. This is especially significant, as he was Mousavi’s representative in the Interior Ministry and he stayed there on election day and remained there until the following morning.

    All the major reformists now believe that the results were valid. Mr. Tabesh (the head of the reformist faction in parliament), Mr. Khabbaz (reformist MP), Mr. Kavakebian (reformist MP), Dr. Pezeshkian (reformist MP),…Indeed, it is basically western backed websites and the Greens in DC who continue to make these absurd claims.

  416. Eric A. Brill says:

    Scott Lucas,

    With all due respect, posts like yours are precisely why I wrote this article. Contrary to what you argue, the question of the election’s fairness does not remain “open” as long as Mousavi declines to provide any evidence to support his allegations. After a decent interval (which I believe you’ll agree we’ve now had), the question must be considered “closed” unless his supporters come forth with evidence.

    It is not the case, as you argue, that “we’ll never know.” The data is there: pick a ballot box, any of the 40,000+ ballot boxes as to which the count was approved by an on-site Mousavi observer. Compare that count to the Interior Ministry’s official count. Then ask yourself this multi-part question:

    Question: Did Mousavi’s observer come up with the same count as the Interior Ministry?

    If “no,” why did Mousavi’s observer not report the discrepancy?

    If “yes,” where is the fraud?

    The information is readily available, so how can you responsibly say that “we’ll never know.” You may never know, but that will only be true because you prefer not to find out. Anyone who wants to find out can do so.

    I suggest you read my article a bit more closely. See whether you can find any holes. As you might expect, I’ve considered that possibility myself, and wouldn’t have published it if I thought there were any. But I’m willing to listen to those who find some.

    You haven’t, but I hope you’ll take a closer look and give it a try.

    Eric

  417. James Canning says:

    ChrisE,

    Surely one can question the wisdom of pushing too hard against the government, by means of street demonstrations, without being regarded as the supporter of brutality, etc. The “strategy” of trying to isolate Iran seems obviously counter-productive. Period.

  418. Pedestrian says:

    Reza, I don’t think you read my comment carefully. I said “independent council” – NOT the Guardian Council.

    There are many issues I have with Mousavi (his claims of fraud for one – Scott just summed up some of the reasons behind it, so I won’t go over them again), but again, ALL THREE candidates stressed this point, and I fully agree with them: the Guardian Council had NO credibility to look into their allegations, given that it had itself broken the law by illegally but OPENLY declaring support for one of the candidates prior to the election. That gives the three remaining candidates perfect reason to ask for an independent council.

    I don’t see why pro-Ahmadinejad supporters change the argument by focusing on Mousavi alone. Danesh Jafari, Rezai’e rep had made many statement on the allegations of fraud and the need for independent investigation. As of course did Alviri, Karoubi’s rep.

    I don’t care or trust for a minute anything that the execrable michael ledeen – as my friend calls him – says. The former Israeli intelligence chief, Ephraim Halevy, called Ahmadinejad a “gift to Israel” – so that means he’s an Israeli puppet for sure, according to that logic?

    But yes, politics is a dirty business, where anybody can sleep with anybody, and I think that’s a valuable lesson not just for Mousavi supporters, but Ahmadinejad supporters as well.

  419. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @SCOTT LUCAS.

    You’re just giving us anecdotal nonsense from rumour mongerers.

    Let’s get a few facts straight:

    1) As Eric’s excellent article points out, the vast majority of Mousavi observers were present at the polls and ,where denied, there were credible reasons given. These monitors signed off the results of the tallies of each ballot box. Had the Interior Ministry fiddled with Form 22, it would have been exposed.

    2) The speed of the results were not at all surprising. Indeed, had they been much slower, as in Afghanistan or Iraq, then one could plausibly infer a scenario of some fraudulent manipulation. But The election was called 2 hours after extended polling hours ended based on the results of 10% of the 46,000 ballot boxes with only 100 or fewer ballots (from remote parts of Iran)

    3) Ayatollah Khamenei declared Khatami the elected president 2 days after the poll in 1997. The scale of the victory left no room for any doubt in both cases. Had it been much closer, 1 million and not 11 million, he would have been advised to wait.

    Now, what is your explanation of the fact that the results of 3 independent post-election surveys of Iranian public opinion show percentages for ALL FOUR CANDIDATES that mirror the official figures almost exactly?

    This I have got to hear.

  420. Liz says:

    Eric:

    An excellent piece. Scott Lucas (who dishonestly claimed that he is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran) will not be convinced because he has invested so much in the GM. He knows precious little about Iran and all of his calculations have turned out to be incorrect.

  421. Scott Lucas says:

    (Apologies for re-posting — the original is held up for moderation because it had URL links for the Beheshti and Fateh articles.)

    Eric,

    Thank you for the link — I had not seen your article before, and I found it an impressive contribution to the debate. I can’t do full justice in a single reply, but a few thoughts:

    1. Two accounts from close Mousavi advisors — Alireza Beheshti (EA 25 August 2009)and Abdolfazl Fateh (EA 19 November 2009) —- make clear the Mousavi camp did have growing concerns as the election neared about the possibility of vote manipulation. (In one case, which I dismissed at the time, a Revolutionary Guard commander declared that the IRGC would not allow an adverse result.) These concerns were raised by the arrests of Mousavi campaign workers and supporters just before and on Election Day — we have also verified this from other sources.

    These accounts say there was intimidation of observers on 12 June; more significantly, Mousavi’s campaigners were reporting suspicions of vote manipulation and irregularities.

    2. The concerns were great enough by the evening of 12 June that the Mousavi camp decided to launch a “pre-emptive” electoral strike by holding the press conference. The Supreme Leader responded in turn by short-cutting established Iranian law and declaring an Ahmadinejad victory within hours of the closing of the polls.

    3. There are contradictions in the explanations for a full, fair, and quick return. One, for example, is the tension between “no voter registration records exist” and the claim that Iran has a fully-computerised system allowing for a rapid recording and tabulation of each vote.

    The case you make that this is remedied by a full and fair account on individual Form 22s, compiled into the Interior Ministry’s Form 28 of regional voting, is a strong one in principle. The questions are still over practice: in many cases, it is not clear that there were observers from all campaigns present when the Form 22 was filled out. Nor was it clear that the numbers on the forms were unaltered during or after transmission to the Ministry. So the issue of legitimacy remained — that is why the opposition demanded a recount of all boxes, which in turn led to a protracted dispute over the Guardian Council’s procedure for a limited recount.

    In the end, you state — correctly, I believe — that Mousavi has not proven his case of vote manipulation. However, your series of questions (“At which polling stations was Mousavi’s observer barred from watching the ballot-box sealing, or turned away entirely? At which did his observer refuse to approve the count? Which mobile polling stations were his observers not allowed to accompany? If Mousavi’s complaints are valid, he must have this information readily available.”)do not resolve the case; they leave it open. And, of course, as tensions heightened in the days and weeks after 12 June — with increasing pressure on Mousavi’s advisors and supporters — it was impossible to get a political resolution where this information could be tabled.

    To sum up for now, the point is not that there was definitely election fraud. Nor is the point that the vote was definitely full, fair, and beyond manipulation. The point, for me, is we don’t know and we shall never know. Only a few people at the centre of the Islamic Republic have the full story of what occurred on 12/13 June.

    The issue, instead, was and still is legitimacy. Did the Iranian people believe this process had been fair and proper? That issue, and not a foreign attempt at a coup, lay behind the protests of 15 June and what was to follow. And that issue of legitimacy is still prominent, and I think, central today.

    Once again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this with you.

    Scott

  422. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PEDESTRIAN

    The Guardians council did propose both a recount and a committee to investigate any remaining issues – Mousavi just refused to participate and send representatives.

    General Yadaollah Javani warned at least 2 weeks in advance of the poll that Mousavi was planning to declare a fraudulent outcome if he lost and that there those plotting a “velvet revolution” agains the system.

    Btw, I just watched a debate between Flynt and Michael Ledeen. The latter admitted what many of us believe – he is still in contact with Mousavi and others 25 years after the Iran-Contra affair. I interpret this as an admission that the “Green movement” may well have been orchestrated by an unholy alliance of neocons in America and anti-Ahmadinejad politicians in Iran as part of a color revolution.

    Politics is a messy business and everyone is in bed with everyone else.

  423. Pedestrian says:

    Liz, I think you should spend some time reading Enduring America, which is really one of the only places where Iran and the rest of the Middle East are covered fairly and far from the drums of the mainstream media and warmongers alike … and then question Scott’s “credibility”.

    What I don’t get about the Leveretts is that they completely ignore what happened after the election: irrespective of how much fraud there was in the election or wasn’t. If the hardliners were so sure of their win, why didn’t they agree to an independent council that by the way, all THREE candidates besides the winner, and not just Mousavi & Karoubi, asked for? Why make those sweeping arrests especially within the opposition campaign headquarters? Behzad Nabavi’s arrest warrant was issued on the 10th of June – two whole days BEFORE the election.

  424. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    I think you should first explain why you dishonestly claimed that you are an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran? You have no credibility.

  425. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @LUCAS:

    I really can’t see how people can take your seriously (mind you it is April Fool today which is very appropriate) when:

    1) You bought into the stolen election nonsense wholesale.

    2) You inflated and misread the schism and rivalry within the Iranian leadership.

    3) You ignored the violent elements within the Green movement that Maziar Bahari of Newsweek ( who himself was jailed and tortured in Iran for several weeks) was adamant were being ignored by the western media.

    4) You exaggerated the strength of the Green movement and also tried to diminish the size and importance of the demonstrations against the Ashura unrest.

    You have been WRONG on virtually every occasion and yet you still have the audacity to accuse the Leveretts, who have been consistently vindicated and proven RIGHT, to be misleading.

    What exactly is your political agenda and personal vendetta with Flynt and Hillary?

  426. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Cyrus,

    Thanks for your good wishes, but the New York Times still have not offered me a contract. Enduring America, on the other hand, will soon be adding a contributor who will be covering Egyptian issues.

    Scott

  427. Eric A. Brill says:

    ChrisE,

    Fair enough. I look forward to your views.

    And if “irregularities” more accurately describes your view than “fraud,” I stand corrected and apologize for overstating your views. Your hurdle is lowered.

  428. ChrisE says:

    “You’d only look silly if you turned and ran away from direct challenges to your insistence that the 2009 election was fraudulent. I’m confident you won’t do that.”

    I’ll do you a deal, Eric; I’ll come back to this forum and give a detailed response to your very lengthy report, and accept that you are actually in a position to evaluate allegations of fraud, if you can point to where I insisted that Ahmadinejad was fraudulently elected.

    To help you, I’ll point out this quote in one of my earliest posts: “Reports of voting irregularities were exaggerated. I still believe there were significant irregularities, however, I am not yet persuaded Ahmadinejad lost.”

  429. Scott Lucas says:

    Salam Mohammad,

    Thanks for your full reply.

    Re 15 June — there were eight deaths that night, and I cannot recall if all of them were connected with the incident around the Basij station. But I accept your broader point and think it is significant: on that day, the Government had not decided to suppress public demonstrations.

    I think that the Supreme Leader’s decision on 19 June at Friday Prayers to make a defiant stand against any compromise with the opposition, while extending a hand to Rafsanjani, was significant. Any room for discussions was closed off, so by the next day with the renewed mass demonstrations, the situation was moving towards conflict — the Ministry of Interior’s decision not to allow protest was a symptom, if not a cause, of this. Recognising there were further deaths on that day, I don’t think this was a case of a deliberate policy (on either side) to use violence, but it was inevitable that the physical clashes would escalate given the changing political atmosphere.

    You make some good points about security and civil rights, but I don’t see this case as one that necessarily was “either/or”. It is possible to envisage how both could be ensured with a political settlement — the tragedy is that has not occurred and, indeed, the possibility of it has receded with each move since 19 June.

    Where I think I would differ from the “many” you cite are the detentions and abuses as “occasional mistakes”. This is far more serious, as a roll call of those arrested without cause, abused, and sometimes killed would indicate. While one does not have to agree with the opposition, a fundamental right to justice and security — in this case, personal security — from the State should not be suspended by the Government’s declaration of “crisis”.

    Scott

  430. kooshy says:

    Abduction or Defection: The Case of Iran’s Nuclear Scientist
    by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich (source: CASMII)
    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    The Obama administration is eager to turn the ‘heat’ on Iran. China and Russia have both refused to impose further sanctions on Iran with the belief that Iran’s nuclear program should be settled diplomatically given that neither country believes Iran’s nuclear program is a threat. But the administration is not without its resources.

    An Iranian nuclear scientist.

    In June 2009, Shahram Amiri, one of Iran’s nuclear scientists disappeared in Saudi Arabia while on a Muslim pilgrimage. The Iranian authorities accused the United States of kidnapping one of their finest but Washington denied any knowledge of Amiri.

    Until now.

    In an ABC exclusive, contrary to previous statements, the U.S. admitted that Amiri had “defected to the CIA” in what was termed as an “intelligence coup”. Undoubtedly, the CIA has been involved in innumerable atrocious coups, tortures, assassinations, and kidnaps, but defections? Surely it is stretching the imagination to believe that the very outfit assigned to assassinate even American citizens has been charged with soliciting ‘enemy’ defectors!

    Perhaps the warmongers’ camp would be more persuasive if they facilitated a meeting between Amiri and the Iranian authorities to reassure them, the Russians, and the Chinese, and indeed the international community that Amiri had not been kidnapped and held against his will. For that matter, it would be reassuring to know he is alive and well!

    This practice is not new and even at the height of the Cold War when a Soviet nuclear physicist by the name of Artem Vladimirovich Kulikov defected in 1985, he met with officials of the Soviet embassy at the State Department to reassure the Russians that he was not being held against his will. Given that Washington had denied all knowledge of Amiri for months after his disappearance and stories of his ‘defection’ have surfaced to suit Washington’s policies, without such meeting credibility will be given to the alternative: abduction.

    This would be more plausible given that in2009 Ynet news reported that with cooperation from the United States Israel has focused on eliminating key human assets involved in Iran’s nuclear program. A few months later an Iranian physicist was killed in a bomb blast in Tehran. The eerie incidents bring back memories of the Iranian diplomat kidnapped and tortured by the CIA while serving in Iraq in 2007 – and denied.

    Curiously, Amiri has been able to “verify” the American intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program, but after almost one year of ‘defection’ to the CIA, the latter has only been able to determine Amiri’s age to be in the mid 30′s – according to the same ABC exclusive report. Perhaps as in all interrogations, Amiri gave name and rank – and the ‘secrets to Iran’s nuclear program’.

    If indeed a nuclear scientist has been ‘kidnapped’ to promote the “threat” of Iran’s civilian nuclear program in order to impose further sanctions, a prelude to war, surely it is a “coup” against the American people, and not an “intelligence coup”. Therefore it is important that Amiri’s ‘defection’ be established. At a minimum, such a meeting would lay to rest any doubts the American people and the international community may have about Shahram Amiri’s well-being and his personal choice in ‘defecting’ to the CIA.

    The enemy must be unveiled: the truth, or the truth denied us.

    Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program, and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy. She is a peace activist, essayist and public speaker.

  431. Liz says:

    I’m going to bed, but Scott Lucas said that he is an adjunct professor and apparently that is not true. That is like saying I’m a professor at MIT, while in fact I was there a few years back. Sorry Scott Lucas, but hat is dishonest.

  432. Scott Lucas says:

    Good morning to all. I look forward to catching up with the discussion after we’ve updated latest news from Iran on EA.

    Meanwhile, thanks to Masoud for digging out the archived webpage. For the record, I was in Iran to teach and work with faculty and students on two occasions — 2003 and 2005 — on two occasions, I was unable to go because of bureaucratic problems getting a visa.

    I was fortunate to collaborate with scholars as they set up the Institute of North American and European Studies. The University of Birmingham and University of Tehran signed a Memorandum of Understanding — the ceremony was in the office of a top official at UoT — and building on that, we had agreements to move staff and students to build graduate education.I continue to work with a number of top-quality Iranian scholars and students, both directly at Birmingham and through communications with candidates in Iran and other countries.

    I consider myself fortunate to maintain many friendships and to continue to learn from these links.

  433. Dan Cooper says:

    Scott Lucas

    As a journalist, you must be aware that Israel Lobby organizations are the most dangerous and destructive powers in the world.

    They support and finance Israel’s genocide in Palestine, destruction in Iraq and regime change in Iran.

    THEY ARE ALSO PUTTING CONSIDERATIONS FOR A CRIMINAL FOREIGN POWER(ISRAEL), AHEAD OF COSIDERATIONS FOR THE SAFTY OF THE UNITED STATES AND ITS CITIZENS.

    The moral and political opinion does not stop at a country’s boundaries, but have you ever dared to criticize Israel and Israel Lobby publicly?

    .

  434. masoud says:

    web.archive.org/web/20080414210936/http://inaes.ut.ac.ir/Static/detail.php?id=d-ns-s-e

    Well, I guess that proves s. lucas was at least at some point an adjunct proffesor at the university of Tehran. It’s kind of a silly debate. Best dropped.

    In any case, he ‘Mehdi’ and “ChrisE” couldn’t be more wrong. No prediction made by the Green movement has come true and all the substansive claims made by it regarding the elections have been unmasked as lies. As have the majority of it’s post election claims. ie, Taraneh Mousavi, or the ’18 billion in gold’ smuggled into turkey on the back of a single truck. Any one who puts any faith into either them or their claims has seriously impaired judgment.

    As for the incessant moralizing and outrage at the Leverett’s shirking of their responsibilities as American Analysts to preface any thought that occurs to them on the subject of the middle east with ad-hominem condemnations of The Vicious Islamic Regime: Guys, get a life.

    Actually while were on the subject, it occurs to me that after over a hundred posts on this thread, no one on this forum has had the moral fortitude to condemn Larry King’s suspenders, so Damn You All To Hell.

    Returning to the Iran issue, Lucas writes:
    “Ultimately, the swap deal is a decent one and Obama’s change in tone, and I would argue actions vis a vis covert ops, has not been matched by any positive statements emerging from Tehran.”

    This passage truly underscores how out to lunch so much of the US intellectual establishment is. If the US had any standards at all, any casual observer of the Middle East who would make this kind of claim would be checked in to an asylum for observation. If any regular visitor of this blog made such a claim, that person would have to be considered functionally illiterate. The idea such a person could be academic or even an a reporter would simply be unspeakably bizarre. But the in the America that now exists these kinds of propagandistic rants have been common-wisdom-ified into a kind of alternate reality where most of these people reside. The real kicker is that most of these intellectuals never have to leave their cloistered little world: they can build lives, careers, and even entire schools of thought out there in Wonderland.

  435. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    This site has just gone viral!
    I love the passion that everyone writes with.
    I would advise that you don’t pass along personal attacks as analysis. This is not about he said, she said.
    As far as I can tell, the Leveretts have come down squarely on the side of Iran and Iranians and are trying to avert an on-coming war. That said, I am sure they have to conduct themselves with certain restraints, as they have been attacked for their views many times over. Yes, they do read the comments on this site. How could they not? It is their blog after all. Constructive criticism is the best way to move forward. If you have something to add to the debate let them know. They are after all the public face of this site.
    For everybody else, Iran is a revolutionary state. Yes, even after 31 years, and as such everything has to be seen with that lens. Foreign and indigenous forces are always trying to subvert the government. This is not to condone the way things are done in Iran, but sometimes you have to walk in a Iranian’s shoe to know what it’s like.
    Iran is now ruled by Iranians. Thank goodness for that!

  436. Eric A. Brill says:

    ChrisE:

    “I’m starting to look silly now.”

    By no means, Chris. You’d only look silly if you turned and ran away from direct challenges to your insistence that the 2009 election was fraudulent. I’m confident you won’t do that.

    http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com

    Scott Lucas:

    How about you, Scott? I’ve admired your insistence on the truth.

  437. kooshy says:

    Eric congratulations for a great work, I have not yet read a more detailed analysis of last June’s election in Persian or English, I hope Ben will post your work as the next topic.

  438. Mohammad says:

    @Mehdi

    It would take a long comment to elaborate on why I consider the Leveretts more relevant than the likes of Milani, and as you pointed I’m finally going to bed. The late sleep is an effect of the long holidays. ;)

  439. Mohammad says:

    @ChrisE
    You’re too kind to me! And about Scott Lucas, I generally never prejudge people without proper investigation.

  440. Mehdi says:

    @Mohammad:

    You wrote: “As an Iranian living in Iran and familiar with Iranian politics, I find the Leveretts far more relevant than most other Iran analysts”

    So how is Iran these days? I wish my Farsi was as good as your English — damet garm.

    That said I’m sure you are already familiar with a commonly used American saying that ‘opinions’ are like an asshole — everyone has one. I say that because the likes of Leveretts, Bolton and Pipes are all entitled to their opinions yet when they come up with their own facts or worse present those opinions as fact just like a hedgehog without having access to any classified material then I tend to ignore them. BTW if you are not familiar with hedgehog which I’m sure you already are google ‘hedgehog and fox’ or have someone send you the book by Philip Tetlock.

    By the way since you brought him up I value the ‘opinions’ of a scholar like Abbas Milani on matters pertaining to IRAN any day any time over the likes of Leveretts.

    Lastly I had to say this but you need to get some sleep. I noticed your first post in this thread was on March 30th at 2:30 AM Tehran time, then you posted another comment later that day at 4:30 AM, then you must have chilled out cause you didn’t comment until the next day March 31st at 10 PM with follow up posts at 2:30 AM and again 3:30. Now that is what I call a dedicated Iranian. Mashallah — the Azzan must be sounding now so go and pray for all of us. Vasallam.

  441. Iranian@Iran says:

    You’ve been looking silly for quite a while now ChrisE. When someone like Scott Lucas dishonestly claims that he is an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran, he should be severely criticized. That is not slander. Mohamma, Eric, Iranian,…have all been reasonable. It is you and Scott Lucas who have not beedn reasonable.

    Eric:

    Looks like a good piece.

  442. Pirouz says:

    @ChisE

    The right to demonstration is an inalienable right of all citizens. However, receiving money from Uncle Sam and getting support from CIA proxies to destabilize the country to unseat a president (whether good or bad) is NOT A RIGHT NOR IS IT A CIVIL RIGHT MOVEMENT! IT IS DOWNRIGHT COUP! You may call it a “coloured revolution” and pick a disgusting green (or orange as the case maybe)for it, but it does not change the fact that it is a COUP supported by CIA!

    Let me tell you something: There is a saying in English which goes as “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on ME!”. We had our share of your “civil rights” (!!!) movement in 1953 and it resulted in the great democrat called “Shah”! So we have been fooled once, and AS YOU CAN SEE, we won’t be fooled for a second time!
    IRAN IS NOT UKRAINE, IRAN IS NOT GEORGIA! NOR ARE WE POLAND! We passed that stage in 1953, thanks to YOUR government and it’s support for the “civil right” movement in Iran!

    One of the problems with the green creatures is that they shut their eyes to deny that the sun is out there and it is day light and then they scream that it is night time! WAKE UP!! There has been three polls conducted from outside by very well known and highly respected (in the West at least) polling organizations, and no less than 8 polls conducted by the University of Tehran PRIOR to the elections when being a Mousavi supporter was nothing to hide or to be afraid of!

    As Steven Kull asserts there has been significant consistency between Top line answers to the questions asked from outside (by the western polling institutes) and inside (university of Tehran) and the patterns of responses again were consistent both internally and between the polls! And again that evil Ahmadinejad supporter called Steven Kull says that these are strong indicators of a VALID set of data! But then again what does Steven Kull know about polling, the Green creatures claim that these polls were “FLAWED” so they MUST BE FLAWED!!!!

    So here is the situation:
    1)We have an election prior to which reformist candidates did all they could to bring people out and were so sure that the electoral system was “healthy enough” to mirror the national will provided that there was a large enough of a turn out! In fact they were so confident about the electoral systems health that they “proclaimed” themselves as “victorious” even before the votes had been counted! And why shouldn’t they? After all this was the same electoral system which brought their candidates into power no less than three times (twice Khatami and once the 6th majles). And yet, low and behold, the results come out and they have lost by a great margin so:
    -OF COURSE THERE WAS A MAJOR FRAUD!!!
    -What is your evidence??
    -…

    2)Well maybe they were right, so let’s conduct some polls by the “reliable” western institutes, and low and behold:
    They fit very nicely both with the 8 polls conducted by UT prior to the elections and also they confirm the election results!
    -What do you say about that?
    -WAIT THOSE POLLS ARE “FLAWED”! IRANIANS ARE TOO SCARED TO ANSWER!!

    3)Well, what the heck? Maybe you are right, but then again the government was able to bring HUGE crowds (of the order of millions) to the streets both after Ashura and on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
    -So what do you say to that??
    -AH THAT IS BECAUSE THEY WERE LURED TO STREETS BY “SANDWICHES AND BEVERAGES!”

    My friend, I am afraid even if USA occupies Iran and conducts a “free and fair” election and the Green creatures still get beaten by a large margin, you will still be screaming your head off in denial! I am afraid you guys are a hopeless case!

    ONE LAST WORD TO THE IRANIAN EQUIVALENTS OF AHMAD CHELABI (ie. THE GREEN CREATURES):
    Enjoy the dollars you receive from Uncle Sam’s CIA and congress and enjoy the support from BBC, CNN, Fox and yes very much the Jerusalem Post, because you will receive NO SUPPORT from the overwhelming majority of Iranian nation!!!

  443. Eric A. Brill says:

    ChrisE:

    Please don’t make this your last post. You’ve had quite a lot to say about the election. I invite you to take a look at the article I cited in my post of a few minutes ago. Read it carefully. Then come back and let us know what you think about the 2009 election. I’ll be very eager to hear what you have to say.

  444. ChrisE says:

    I’m starting to look silly now, with me saying everytime this is my last post!

    But I have to say that no, Mohammad, I did not believe you were Dr. Marandi!

    You are though a real gentleman and someone who I believe I could learn an enormous amount from. As I said, if there was someway I could discuss matters with you outside of this forum I would have no problem with you challenging my views.

    If you want to contact me you can via Scott (who you can contact via his website enduringamerica.com)

    Knowing Scott as I do, I think he would also be very eager for you to tell him why you think his views are inaccurate. Please don’t believe any of the attempts to slander him here- he has been one of the most effective critics of US foreign policy since the 1980s and has a universal concern for human rights.

  445. Eric A. Brill says:

    Definitive analysis of Iran’s 2009 presidential election:

    http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com

    You will see quickly that the statement above reflects a bias. Nonetheless, I stand by it, and stand ready to take on any and all critics.

  446. Mohammad says:

    @ChrisE

    If you mean me, no you’re not. I’m only one of the other millions of Mohammads!

  447. Iranian@Iran says:

    You seem to know many things ChrisE, but your knowledge doesn’t seem to fit in with reality on many fronts. On Saturday, I’ll ask the people at the University of Tehran if Scott Lucas is making false claims or not.

  448. Mohammad says:

    @Mehdi

    Your core point is valid. But the same can be said of John Bolton, Daniel Pipes, etc. As an Iranian living in Iran and familiar with Iranian politics, I find the Leveretts far more relevant than most other Iran analysts, even Abbas Milani who knows Farsi while I find most of his assessments wishful thinking rather than objective analysis.

  449. Liz says:

    ChrisE: you and Scott Lucas have been abusive to the Leveretts and to others and, apparently, it has been revealed that Scott Lucas has been dishonest about his relationship with the University of Tehran, so what are you complaining about?

    The fact is that Ahmadinejad is the legitimate president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the irrational and stubborn denials of the fact by people like you help extremists in DC create an atmosphere for further confrontation between the two countries.

  450. ChrisE says:

    Am I either directly or indirectly talking to Dr. Marandi here?

    I have no idea what Tehran’s rule on adjuncts are. I know of other staff who have returned to teach there as ‘adjuncts’ over a period longer than two years. I can’t remember when he last was in Tehran (it may have been 2005), but he was still in close contact with several staff there untill 2009.

    I suspect that Scott, being one of the prime individuals in establishing the partnership between the Institute of American Studies in Tehran and the Department of American Studies in Birmingham, considered his title of adjunct as honoury and permanent unless told otherwise. In much the same way as Marandi claims his affiliation with Birmingham (which I have no idea if still stands).

    I KNOW that he has not been deliberately using this title in a misleading manner (i.e knowing that he was not still considered an adjunct). As I said, he (if he returns) will be happy to put u straight on the issue.

    It is telling that people here are attacking Scott’s integrity because they don’t share his views. How sad, but always sign of insecurity on the part of the attacker.

    Right, unless I have to respond to any more specific slander, I will bid you all goodbye.

  451. Iranian@Iran says:

    It’s clear from what they have been saying over the past few months that the Leveretts know a lot more about Iran than you do and unlike Scott Lucas they are not dishonest about their status as academics.

    By the way your Persian sentence is not grammatically correct. :-)

  452. Mohammad says:

    @ChrisE

    Aggreed 100%!
    I suggest you ignore the people who are overtly irrational. I bet the Leveretts themselves would prefer these people not populating here with irrelevant comments.

  453. Mehdi says:

    To: Reza and other fans of F.L. and H.M.,

    Apparently you too like your brilliant analysts don’t know how to read Farsi, since you failed to answer the simple question I posed to you earlier in this thread.

    I posed a question in this thread earlier since you regard F.L. as a brilliant Iran analyst. However as I rhetorically and yes sarcastically asked you it is as if there is an Iranian analyst within the Iranian Intelligence apparatus who is educated and is an expert in Arab countries fluent in Arabic but can’t speak a lick of English (hypothetically) yet now he is positioning himself as an expert on American politics.

    Going as far as suggesting that the internal struggles that goes on in American politics is irrelevant to the behavior of their government. He doesn’t understand anything about the parliamentary procedures in U.S. Congress so in Jan when he read in a Persian newspaper that the Democrats lost the Senate seat in MA he ran to his Imam and started advocating a harsher position — suggesting that look we don’t have to worry about Obama as he is now going to be so swamped with his internal politics he won’t be able to put any pressure on us.

    This is how your two brilliant Iran analysts think! They can’t even read Farsi. Their theory and position on the GM is purely based on their constant and invalid comparison to what happened in Iran in 1979 and what happened in China 1989. They have access to NO Classified material unless they are getting it from the Iranian regime and yet they act like a typical ‘hedgehog’ with a strong belief on putting down the GM.

    Ignoring the Iranian internal rifts and not fully understanding them from the differences between Ahmadinejad and Larijani/majles to how much stronghold IRGC has in everything in the economy ala Iran being a military state, to relationship between Khamenei, Rafi, Mousavi etc … are just like some analyst in Iran going about the same way analyzing American politics without being able to speak English.

    Such analysis will result in errors. Just as we are seeing now President Obama has now alot of political capital and frankly as we are seeing by today’s apparent announcement from China.

    BTW on a side note in the poker game between Obama and Khamenei and his cohorts which F.L. and H.M. are supporting I pick Obama any day any time.

  454. Pirouz says:

    One of the areas where I especially praise the Leveretts is their focus on a true engagement and rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Simply stated, all else is noise.

    Politically focusing, at this level, on human rights isn’t going to produce anything but hypocrisy and confrontation. Rapprochement, on the other hand, offers the promise of a multitude of positive, tangible results for both American and especially Iranian societies.

    I say stop the hate. Stop tuning into the noise. Turn down the emotion and sentimentality. Rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran is key.

  455. Liz says:

    It is dishonest to claim that you are something when you are not. Scott Lucas is misleading people about his status as an academic.

  456. Iranian says:

    You can not be an adjunct professor at an Iranian university for more than two years. As far as I know in all he hasn’t been in Iran for more that a couple of weeks and that his one or two trips took place before Ahmadinejad even came to power.

    Apparently, he is not an adjunct professor and he shouldn’t claim to be one. Period.

  457. ChrisE says:

    Liz, you really do sound like an objectional person.

    Professor Scott Lucas was for many years an adjunct professor at Tehran and has been to Tehran several times to teach there. In return several faculty and students worked and studied at Professor Lucas’ department in Birmingham. Dr Marandi, for example, still claims to be an honoury research fellow there.

    Prof. Lucas can answer for himself, but as far as I know he does not know what his status is since the post-election crisis. It may well be that the Uni has, extremely recently, severed this relationship- but I do not believe they have done so officially and, in any case, if they have it would be an overtly political move.

    To be honest, it is ridiculous to suggest that he goes around boasting about being an adjunct at Tehran. The fact that you seem to suggest he is a liar reinforces my impression that, whatever your political orientation, you seem quite unpleasant.

    Goodbye

  458. Iranian@Iran says:

    It’s sad to see that Scott Lucas, among other things, falsely claims that he is an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran. I guess he will now claim that the Iranian government stole it from him!

  459. ChrisE says:

    Mohammad,

    I have returned to say that I very much enjoyed your last past. I wish this forum was populated by more people like you and then, even though my views are clearly in a minority here, which is fine, I would feel very comfortable discussing these important points here.

    As it is, I cannot be bothered to wade through the procession of dogmatic or overtly offensive posts by people who start from the premise that I have no right to an opinion because I disagree with Lord Leverett (on certain issues) and because of American and British foreign policy.

    Ironically, and very sadly, the same state of affairs exists on sites with strong sympathies for the Green Movement. There you would be shouted down called a hypocritical Basij. Here, I get shouted down and called a hypocritical neo-con.

    I wonder where we can go to discuss these issues rationally?

  460. Liz says:

    One of my friends has just informed me that Scott Lucas has also dishonestly claimed that he is an adjunct professor at the University of Tehran and I’ve been told that this claim is false. He has discredited himself in so many ways…

  461. James Canning says:

    ChrisE,

    The tens of thousands of educated Iranians who move to other countries each year, are responding to the relative lack of good economic opportunities at home. Part of this problem is due to mismanagement of the economy, part is attributable to sanctions etc. But surely you remember it wasn’t so long ago that most Irish university granduates also left their country, for opportunity abroad.

  462. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela

    Iran is the country that most of the streets are, named after the poets many of the squares are, decorated with statues of their poets and poet’s mausoleums is visited,
    equally as much as the religious shrines, this Norooz Shiraz had over 6 million visitors, highest of any city in the country.

  463. James Canning says:

    Reza Esfandiari,

    I very much agree with you, that the US should improve relations with Iran as the way forward in improving various conditions in Iran the US might like to see addressed.

    Kathleen,

    Great post (7:30pm March 30th). The grossest misreresentations go unchallenged, on TV and elsewhere, day after day. Let’s remember how Aipac was pushing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein years before the idiotic US/UK invasion.

  464. Liz says:

    I don’t think it’s personal. Scott Lucas and ChrisE were abusive towards the Leveretts. The fact remains that Ahmadinejad won the elections and that despite US and western attempts to destabilize the Islamic Republic of Iran, it remains the most open country in the region and it has popular support from its people who are educated and informed.

  465. Mohammad says:

    @Liz @Iranian @Iranian@Iran @Kamran
    Please don’t ruin the discussion with personal attacks. You make me shy.

    @Scott
    The government didn’t attack the protesters on June 15th. As far as I know, the incident at the end of the demonstration was triggered by some protesters attacking a Basij station, and as far as I know, attackers at military buildings are immediately shot in most countries. (I don’t know if it’s fair or not)
    About June 20th, there’s not enough information on who started the violence, but I would categorize the events as riots, rather than peaceful demonstrations (which were the case at the week before). Buses and public property were put on fire. As far as I know, the protesters tried to hold demonstrations but police and Basji tried to disperse them and the violence erupted. I don’t make a judgement on who was responsible for the disgusting events, it depends on whether you would consider dispersing demonstrators as an act of violence or not.

    “Where on 15 June or indeed on 20 June did any of the prominent opposition figures call for protests outside the rule of law?”
    As far as I remember, Mousavi and Karroubi refrained from explicitly calling for street demonstrations, although they participated in them (on the first week after the election, before the Friday prayers). They always called on their supporters not to break the law. But according to the Iranian law, the very act of street demonstration needs a license from the Ministry of Interior, which the protesters didn’t have.

    I think the root of many of the disputes lies in a clash of values between major groups in Iran. According to most polls (e.g. this one), a plurality of Iranians don’t consider freedom of expression a fundamental right and give the government the right to censor potentially destabilizing information. But a persistent minority are for absolute freedom of expression. Other polls have shown than Iranians are much more concerned about their security than civil rights. The minority, which is more vocal, politics-savvy, young and educated, is not willing to accept some of the laws which it sees unfair, and occasionally shows its opposition.
    So although the IRI has exercised disgusting oppression at some points, many view it as occassional mistakes of incapable forces which are unavoidable in such a large-scale security crisis, and blame the opposition for it, whom are deemed responsible because of their false allegations of fraud and their ‘rioting’. On the other hand, the opposition see it as a systematic, unjust crackdown on their fundamental rights.

  466. Fiorangela Leone says:

    I was told that the soul of Iran is reflected in Shiraz, where the people “value their poets greater than their kings.”
    From the ‘king’ of Iran’s poets:

    The Guest House

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    ~ Rumi ~

  467. kooshy says:

    Chris

    “My best effort to answer is that there can be absolutely no moral or legal equivalence between the way the American government and the Iranian government treat their own people. If there were then I would ask you why Iran has the highest rate of brain drain in the world- many going to America. Clearly, Iranians are voting with their feet when it comes to comparing freedom in Iran and in the west.”

    Well Chris since it sounds like you are uninformed the majority of the people who decide to relocate is due to the economic conditions just like other 3rd world countries, let say Turks , Ukrainians
    Or the good old Mexicans here in US, they are not leaving their country because they dislike their government but rather wanting to earn more. Can we conclude if many of the British entertainment personalities chose to live in Malibu is because they dislike the Labor government or rather because there is more money to be made in the good old California.

    The fact that you are a British, and a citizen of UK, will not exclude you from human rights violations of your own government, and thier comedian war criminals, which have committed genocides and have not seen a day in any court of law. Chris you can’t uphold your own countries past and present human rights vilotions and atrocities anywhere close to Iran’s moral standing in the world.

    Good luck

  468. Cyrus says:

    Look folks, brutality and repression are not justifiable whether in Iran or US-allied countries (Mubarak makes a habit of shooting voters in the streets but we don’t hear much about that – the NYT doesn’t hire a Scott Lucas to cover that) but at the same time the fact remains that there’s just no evidence of vote fraud in Iran.

  469. Liz says:

    Kamran put it best:

    Scott Lucas and ChrisE seem to be pretty jealous of the Leveretts. It’s probably because they have invested so much of their credibility in the Greens and because they have effectively worked as a propaganda outlet for these people. Despite all of the funding they receive, all of their predictions have turned out to be completely wrong.

  470. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Learn to be more tolerant in the future and learn to praise people who are more knowlegable that you. The Leveretts have come under a lot of unfair attacks by people like yourself and as it turned out they were correct and you and the neo-cons were utterly wrong. I think by now you already know this.

  471. Scott Lucas says:

    Thanks to all for an engaging discussion today. Even though opinions may not have shifted, I enjoyed exchanging views and information on an important topic.

    Peace to all,

    Scott

  472. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    You have violated the rights of the strong majority of Iranians who voted for the current president and you have violated the rights of the vast majority of Iranians inside Iran who were opposed to the actions of violent protestors. You are upset that the Leveretts are being praised by those who oppose war and conflict, while you were in line with CNN and FOX News.

  473. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    Your post raises a few questions for me:

    “This was, and still is, a problem of the GM’s own making. Had they not tried to , not only dispute the poll , but denounce the election as a complete fraud and ask their supporters to go out into the streets and pressure the government to stage a rerun or resign, none of this crackdown would have been necessary. It was a repeat of the street tactics of 1953 which forced the popular premiership of Mossadegh out of power. The government decided to resist this coup.”

    Are you arguing that Iranian people — including the masses who came out on 15 June, most of whom did so not because they were called out but because of their own reactions to a perceived manipulation of the election — do not have the right to demonstrate? Are you arguing that any tactics of the Government were justified simply because a mass turned out, given that the overwhelming majority of marchers were peaceful? Are you invoking 1953 — which was a CIA and MI6-supported plan — to besmirch those masses who had no connection with foreign intelligence services?

    “This is what happens when two rival political camps decide to take their struggle outside of the RULE OF LAW – you get CIVIL STRIFE and mob rule. This is why I have little sympathy for people who are irrational and defy the will of the majority.”

    Where on 15 June or indeed on 20 June did any of the prominent opposition figures call for protests outside the rule of law?

    Scott

  474. Iranian says:

    ChrisE:

    The Iranians have spoken and the vast majority obviously support the Islamic Republic and do not support your views. I assume that you have never lived Iran and that you are not fluent in Persian. You know little about the country, yet you act as if you are an expert. I think people like you should accept the results, accept that you know nothing about the issues at hand, praise the Leveretts, move on, and stop playing into the hands of hardliners in DC (assuming you are not one of them). People like you have done enough damage as it is.

  475. Scott Lucas says:

    Kooshy,

    I appreciate your response and your decision to focus only on issues involving the US Government. My decision is different: beyond working as a journalist and analyst — my immediate task in covering the post-election Iran crisis — I choose to challenge any violation of human rights.

    Peace,

    Scott

  476. Shabnam says:

    The United States has no moral authority to question Iran ‘Human rights’ situtation where US is killing large number of people in various Muslim countries around the world on daily basis and maintaining, at least, 900 military bases in 149 countries around the globe with unlimited number of prisoners who are faced with torture, rape and death every day in addition to 2 million prisoners in the US. This brutal system of global oppression and dehumanization is assisted by the zionist state of Israel and supported with its stooges in the WH, Senate, Congress and other governmental branches. Any sanction or military action against Iran must be condemned and
    rejected. People must boycott these two criminal states.
    A letter has recently been signed where it totally undermined the power of the

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BahjX9nI5k&feature=player_embedded

    President of the United States by virtually telling Israel: “It does not matter what you do to the Palestinians, how many illegal structures you build on the territory you stole from them; how you behave towards the Lebanese, or what you have in mind for Iran, we, the signatories on this letter are with you, all the way.”

  477. ChrisE says:

    This is my last post here:

    Reza,

    The irony of you talking about there being a rule of law when the state is engaged in trial and confiscation without charge, extra-judicial killing, forced confessions and show-trials is just so unbelievable I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    But for the record, the right to protest is fundamental and the government was the first to resort to violence. It has been throwing the first stone against its own people since its inception. The tragedy of the revolution, which promised so much, is that its security services are little better than the SAVAK.

    Liz,

    If you think someone who supports engagement, opposes bombing and sanctions and criticises nearly every aspect of US policy in the region makes me a neo-con then you are simply too ignorant for me to hold an argument with. I would also address your obsession with the Leveretts…it’s not healthy.

    Kooshy,

    I genuinely don’t understand your last post and am struggling to make sense of it.

    My best effort to answer is that there can be absolutely no moral or legal equivalence between the way the American government and the Iranian government treat their own people. If there was then I would ask you why Iran has the highest rate of brain-drain in the world- many going to America. Clearly, Iranians are voting with their feet when it comes to comparing freedom in Iran and in the west.

    On the other matter, I have consistently and persistently criticised US foreign policy and the suffering it has wrought upon foreign nationals. BUT THIS IS A RED HERRING WHEN IT COMES TO TALKING ABOUT THE SITUATION INSIDE IRAN.

    For the record, I am British.

    I wish all of you the best, whatever your political persuasion. Particularly those in Iran- I can talk as much as I like, but ultimately it’s your life that is affected. I genuinely hope for peace and freedom for the Iranian people and oppose any western interference there. My own view is simply that the Iranian people deserve a lot more than the current regime.

  478. kooshy says:

    Chris
    “I do wonder if the Leverett’s read these comments. I don’t for a second expect them to be responsible for the words of their supporters. However, I do wonder if they are in any way concerned by the fact that they seem to exclusively attract support from people who see no problem with the way the Iranian regime treats its own people.”

    Chris can you state here, that if you are concerned and or support the way the American/US government treats its own people and Laws as well as other people in other parts of the world.
    If you did maybe, we should exploit to see if they have any connections to the other human right abuses in other parts of the world.

    Thank you

  479. Reza Esfandiari says:

    I really don’t understand how many times I have to say this- the protest moved beyond the election result. If you read the statements of Karroubi and others they are calling for protests against govt violence, censorship, intimidation, torture in prisons, detention without charge and other nefarioius activities. For god’s sake, mothers have been detained for protesting the arrest or killing of their children- what has this to do with the election?Are you saying that they are not in the right for protesting these violations?”

    This is flawed reasonng. This was, and still is, a problem of the GM’s own making. Had they not tried to , not only dispute the poll , but denounce the election as a complete fraud and ask their supporters to go out into the streets and pressure the government to stage a rerun or resign, none of this crackdown would have been necessary. It was a repeat of the street tactics of 1953 which forced the popular premiership of Mossadegh out of power. The government decided to resist this coup.

    This is what happens when two rival political camps decide to take their struggle outside of the RULE OF LAW – you get CIVIL STRIFE and mob rule. This is why I have little sympathy for people who are irrational and defy the will of the majority.

    He who throws the first stone should be held to account before all else.

  480. Shabnam says:

    plese post my comment.

  481. kooshy says:

    Sorry the correct Proverb should read
    “The lamp that is needed in your own house, is forbidden to take to the mosgue”

  482. Liz says:

    ChrisE:

    Do you call your ranting “actual analysis”? Your analysis or ranting is in line with neo-conservatives trash. It’s obvious that you are very angry about the Leveretts. If you were not so busy trying to help steal the elections, maybe you would have been sitting beside them on Charlie Rose.

    lol

  483. ChrisE says:

    Liz,

    Have you entered a competition to see how many psychophantic posts you can write which contain no actual analysis?!

    Is this the usual standard of posts here?

    Anyway, I’m off to cry myself to sleep in an outpouring of self-loathing because I am not a Leverett. Pray for me.

  484. kooshy says:

    Dear Mr. Lucas
    “I dare say you don’t know me very well if you presume I voted for recent US governments and supported their foreign policies.”
    For you alone in my comments I stated “majority of American people,” since, thanks god the American president unlike their Egyptian allied counter parts do not win with the 99% votes of eligible voters.
    Now on to the
    “But, to the point, are you saying that moral and political opinion stops at a country’s boundaries? Am I disqualified from criticising the injustices of the Government in Britain, where I live, because I am a US citizen? Are you disqualified from criticising the US Government if you live in Iran? Are we to be silent on the situation in Burma because we are not Burmese? Or on the persecution of the Uighurs because we are not in China?”
    Dear sir for your information, not only I am also a US citizen, but I also live in the US. As long as my government is a cause, and instigator of many of the human rights abuses at home and around the world, I personally feel obliged, not only to criticize their policies and actions, but also to correct their abuses by not participating, before I dare to criticize the same violations in other parts of the planet. Since we are on the subject of Iran, there is proverb in Persian that it says, “The lamp that is needed in your own house, is forbidden to take to the morgue”

  485. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Believe me, you don’t seem chirpy at all. The Leveretts had the courage to stand up for the truth and in your ignorance you sided with the neo-conservatives. Congratulations.

  486. ChrisE says:

    I think I’ve said my piece and I see no point in repeating myself.

    I do wonder if the Leverett’s read these comments. I don’t for a second expect them to be responsible for the words of their supporters. However, I do wonder if they are in any way concerned by the fact that they seem to exclusively attract support from people who see no problem with the way the Iranian regime treats its own people.

  487. Scott Lucas says:

    Kamran,

    I appreciate your concern but no bitterness here — hold on, let me check, nope, still feeling quite chirpy.

    When you can deal with my assessment rather than worry about my emotional state, get back to me. Otherwise, your plea — don’t bother me with evidence, critique, and argument, just accept that the Leveretts have the one and only TRUTH — is a bit flimsy.

    Mohammad,

    I am also interested in your post-June reading. My analysis, from information we have from inside Iran, is that there were significant rallies on the streets on 17 July, 30 July, Qods Day in September, 13 Aban in November, 16 Azar in December, and Ashura despite Governnment threats and intimidation. In those circumstances, what is striking is not that there were fewer demonstrating compared to June but how many continued to mobilise.

    I would think that 22 Bahman would be a good case for your argument, but the counter is that plenty of opposition were on the streets but did not declare themselves because of the heavy security presence and a rather confused, even misguided, strategy. As for now, I suggest that the regime has successfully curbed overt protest with its crackdown but faces the ongoing problem of a latent dissatisfaction and demand for restorative justice which may resurface if the lid of repression is taken off.

    Scott

  488. Iranian@Iran says:

    Scott Lucas and ChrisE may be jealous of the Leveretts. However, what is worse is that they support those who tried to overthrow the rightly elected president through mob rule. They tried to deny the lower middle class and other less weathy Iranians their election victory.

  489. ChrisE says:

    @ Reza

    “Moreover, as you imply, it is often difficult to differentiate between a rioter and a peaceful protestor in the chaos of a street demo.”

    Actually, it is quite easy- rioters are rioting. Unarmed protestors, like Neda, are simply standing there. Of course if you consider all those demonstraters as rioters then you are right.

    “I have supported Iran’s reform movement on many occasions – but they were just plain wrong to protest over an election result that was authentic. Had it not been, then I would have been out calling for Ahmadinejad and Khamenei’s removal. The reformists should pick a fight only when they are in the right.”

    I really don’t understand how many times I have to say this- the protest moved beyond the election result. If you read the statements of Karroubi and others they are calling for protests against govt violence, censorship, intimidation, torture in prisons, detention without charge and other nefarioius activities. For god’s sake, mothers have been detained for protesting the arrest or killing of their children- what has this to do with the election?

    Are you saying that they are not in the right for protesting these violations?

    Are you saying that the call for reforms of the judiciary are unreasonable?

    The reform movement was crushed in the late 1990s and many became leaders in 2009 asking for the same fundamental rights. Either you approve of their aspirations or you don’t.

  490. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    “I also dispute that there were no significant protests outside Tehran. There is video evidence of this.”

    75% of Iranians live outside of the metropolitan areas – protests, if they existed at all, have been very quiet in this part of Iran, especially in recent months.

    “The regime stil faces a major crisis in its legitimacy and will not be able to rely on force for ever.”

    Nonsense. The legitimacy was bestowed on June 12th when 85% of the electorate voted and the incumbent won with 62%. Case closed. Deal with it.

  491. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    “I also dispute that there were no significant protests outside Tehran. There is video evidence of this.”

    75% of Iranians live outside of the metropolitan areas – protests, if they existed at all have been very quiet in this part of Iran, and especially in recent months.

    “The regime stil faces a major crisis in its legitimacy and will not be able to rely on force for ever.”

    Nonsense. The legitimacy was bestowed on June 12th when 85% of the electorate voted and the incumbent won with 62%. Case closed. Deal with it.

  492. ChrisE says:

    The whole jealously argument is childish. Might as well say Ahmadinejad is jealous of Obama’s six-pack when he criticizes America.

    @Mohammed

    Thanks for your interesting post. I have mixed views on the Ashura protest. I accept that the violence may have alienated some moderate people (such as yourself)- however, my view is that this was the inevitable response to sustained government violence in the face of peaceful protest. At Ashura, building rage against the Basij in particular erupted into violence. I also think that the govt’s response, and indeed the violence directed towards mourners at Montazeri’s funeral, broke a major taboo and provoked criticism from some senior clerics.

    I also dispute that there were no significant protests outside Tehran. There is video evidence of this.

    However, my general view of why the GM’s protests has stalled is not because it suddenly hemorrhaged support or lost the argument after Ashura. Put simply, the regime’s tactics eventually proved successful. The Green were ground down and denied the means to develop what was a broad political spectrum into a grand strategy- largely because their efforts to organise supporters or express their views were denied through varioius violent and non-violent means. Witness the astonishingly well managed response of the govt during Bahman – which gave the impression that the opposition’s momentum had ended.

    The regime stil faces a major crisis in its legitimacy and will not be able to rely on force for ever.

    In a nutshell, my beef with the Leveretts is their failure to acknowledge the unprecedented challenge 2009 posed the IRI, the degree to which this challenge has not gone away and the extent to which the dynamics of Iran’s political system have been permanently changed. Above, all I am irked by their refusal to condemn the brutal manner in which the regime crushed a movement which was demanding rights that the Leveretts take for granted.

    If they are arguing that this repression should have no influence on US-Iranian relations then they should simply say so- but don’t deny its existence or belittle the courage of those Iranians who were simply trying to extract very basic rights.

    Again, on many other issues (as I have outlined) I am in general agreement. I even accept their analysis that AN is for many genuinely popular (and a talented campaigner) and that reports of voting irregularities were exaggerated. I still believe there were significant irregularities, however, I am not yet persuaded AN lost.

  493. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Good warning re Ellen Tauscher. Is anyone counting the number of Iran-bashing people appointed to high positions in the Obama adminstration? Iran condemned the nuke test by North Korea last year. Did the White House even acknowledge this fact?

    Maybe someone should prepare a chart, showing all Obama people involved in foreign policy/military planning, and identify Aipac connections of each of them.

  494. James Canning says:

    Kathleen,

    I very much agree with you that the White House press corps are collectively pathetic when it comes to covering Iran or the Israel/Palestine issue. Helen Thomas is virtually the only reporter willing to challenge obviously untrue statements that seem clearly part of a program to demonize Iran – - perhaps to set up yet another idiotic war.

  495. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    “Are you also seriously suggesting that the countless videos of Basij randomly attacking protestors (including women) were on the basis of them being identified as rioters and terrorists? Or the attacks on student dormitories. Or the arrest of newspaper editors? Perhaps you live in Iran and can’t access youtube footage of such attacks.”

    I am not in any position to defend the actions of individual members of an irregular militia like the Baseej. But the footage clearly shows that there was aggravation on both sides – security forces were provoked and attacked and that they reacted – sometimes very harshly. The camera footage also does not show anything of context.

    Moreover, as you imply, it is often difficult to differentiate between a rioter and a peaceful protestor in the chaos of a street demo.

    I have supported Iran’s reform movement on many occasions – but they were just plain wrong to protest over an election result that was authentic. Had it not been, then I would have been out calling for Ahmadinejad and Khamenei’s removal.

    The reformists should pick a fight only when they are in the right.

  496. Kamran says:

    Scott Lucas:

    Look at your own posts. They are those of a bitter person who has misread the events in Iran completely (similar to the neocons). You should commend the Leveretts for being correct and for having the courage to state the truth, despite all the hostility.

  497. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    I readily agree with you that Israel’s “democracy” is subject to question. Whatever degree of “democracy” achieved in Israel, obviously will diminish radically if the Palestinians are excluded from voting (assuming a failure to end the occupation).

    You might enjoy Tobias Buck’s report in the Financial Times today (March 31st): “Economic settlers eager to head home”.

  498. Scott Lucas says:

    Kooshy,

    I dare say you don’t know me very well if you presume I voted for recent US governments and supported their foreign policies.

    But, to the point, are you saying that moral and political opinion stops at a country’s boundaries? Am I disqualified from criticising the injustices of the Government in Britain, where I live, because I am a US citizen? Are you disqualified from criticising the US Government if you live in Iran? Are we to be silent on the situation in Burma because we are not Burmese? Or on the persecution of the Uighurs because we are not in China?

    S.

  499. kooshy says:

    Chris

    I am not here to defend nor I have any interest to defend the Leverrets, they are responsible for their actions in the past or present.
    I am just pointing to the hypocrisy of not only the American government but also its citizens who have continually approved their governments,
    actions by reelecting them to office in the name of their interest, they lack the moral authority to complain on other countries as well.
    That shouldn’t be too hard to understand.

  500. Scott Lucas says:

    Kamran,

    Jealousy has nothing to do with it (even though Flynt is a bit of a cutie). Nor does credibility — first rule here should be to check ego at the door because “I” am not the issue here.

    As for “propaganda”, well, that could be the first word of resort for someone who either has not read my words or chooses not to engage with them.

    S.

  501. Liz says:

    Kamran, I agree with what you wrote (though I don’t know ChrisE):

    Scott Lucas and ChrisE seem to be pretty jealous of the Leveretts. It’s probably because they have invested so much of their credibility in the Greens and because they have effectively worked as a propaganda outlet for these people. Despite all of the funding they receive, all of their predictions have turned out to be completely wrong.

  502. ChrisE says:

    “I am not condoning any rights abuses, closures of newspapers, intimidations and the like. I just think that the government is justified in a measure of police action to curb the excesses of demonstrators, rioters, trouble-makers and indeed members of terrorist groups who, let’s face it, have reacted violently to the election result – and which we now know to reflect the will of the Iranian people.”

    With respect, by defining what actually happened on the streets and in the prisons of Iran as ‘a measure of police action’ then you are explicitly condoning such actions. At the very least you are either highly misinformed or cynically mischaracterising what actually happened. Either way, your lack of disgust (your words) does, in fact, disgust me.

    Are you also seriously suggesting that the countless videos of Basij randomly attacking protestors (including women) were on the basis of them being identified as rioters and terrorists? Or the attacks on student dormitories. Or the arrest of newspaper editors? Perhaps you live in Iran and can’t access youtube footage of such attacks.

    “As the Leveretts point out, we have not witnessed anything of the order of Tiananmen square, Blood Sunday in Northern Ireland, the Paris uprising of 1968, Waco or the like.”

    I would strongly condemn all of these- but none are appropriate comparisons. Even if they were, they are not reasons for the Leveretts (and yourself) to gloss over the recent violence in Iran.

    Also- I could stand in the streets of Belfast, Paris and Waco and call my govt a murderer, I could publish a newspaper saying that everything the govt stands for is criminal and we need a completely different system of govt. I could argue that the Queen of England should be replaced by a system of Islamic courts. Could I do write a paper in Tehran calling Khamenei a criminal and calling for an end to the primacy of Islamic law? Editors have been locked up for simply criticising arbritary arrests.

    “China brutally suppressed a revolt by the Uighurs last year – did anyone from the neocon camp speak out against it? No.”

    There was criticism but I agree there should have been more. Fundamentally, however, the majority who criticise what is occuring in Iran are not neo-cons.

    “If you seek regime change on account of human rights abuses, go get rid of Saudi tyranny – or indeed the perpetrators of abuse at Guatanomo and Abu Ghraib.”

    Nobody is seeking to affect regime change on account of human rights abuses. The greatest lie (and tool) of the Iranian regime is its portrayal of all critics as foreign agents of regime change.

    But you forget, Obama was resolved to engage with Iran before the election crisis- despite the numerous human rights abuses in Iran aleady documented. You can be assured (sadly) that human rights will never be at the forefront of US foreign policy- or indeed the foreign policy of any state.

  503. kooshy says:

    Mr. Lucas

    I did not emphasis on the US government’s human rights abuses alone, since their actions on this subject is laughable proposition for the population of our planet.
    However, more precisely, I emphasized on the US citizens that have continuously elected governments, that publicly and without shame, have been invading, over throwing, capturing, bombing, killing, water boarding, regime changing, color revolutionizing, and renditioning, democratically elected governments, and innocent people, around the globe. All without even any due process of the laws of their own land, for just, and in the name of the interest of its citizens, which that includes you sir. For this reason you sir have no moral authority to speak of human rights abuses in Iran, you will need to get your house straight first.

  504. Liz says:

    While it is important to keep in mind that the Iranian president never denied the Holocaust, I think the Leveretts did a very good job. They have taken a brave stance over the past few months and now that the truth is coming out they have every right to be pleased with themselves.

  505. Mohammad says:

    @ChrisE
    “The GM was originally protesting the result because quite clearly, as even the Leveretts admit, the election result lacked transparency.”
    If you compare the results with election standards in developed countries, yes it lacked transparency. But it definitely was more transparent than previous elections in Iran; we learned much more information about the election than any election previously held in Iran. IMHO the perceived lack of transparency is a result of the inefficient bureaucracy and insufficient administrative infrastructure, typical of a developing country. We do need a reform in the election system. But to attribute the perceived lack of transparency to a coordinated effort to rig the election, I think was unjustified. As an Iranian who closely followed the course of events after the election, I found the answers by the Ministry of Interior and the Guardian Council more satisfying than Mousavi’s allegations. It’s so revealing that most of Mousavi’s allegations of fraud was focused on how Ahmadinejad used unjust techniques for gathering votes before polling, namely the allegations brought by him in the televised debate with Mousavi on June 3rd (recently-published surveys by WPO show that the debate was a defining factor for Ahmadinejad’s success). Overall, I’m almost confident that Ahmadinejad did win the election. I also agree with the Leveretts that the support base for the GM has been shrinking and they are not an active social movement anymore; but I don’t have any ‘evidence’ for that and I’m saying it from my personal observations.

    “That Mousavi was able to rally such huge numbers speaks volumes about the enormous dissatisfaction with how the revolution has panned out. Regardless of the election result, the AN presidency, and the wider IRI, has a problem of legitimacy. The GM simply tapped into a huge groundwell of discontent.”
    Yes, as the Leveretts pointed out, Ahmadinejad is seriously hated among the people who don’t like him; but I don’t find any evidence that they are a majority or a plurality. He is a very polarizing figure, no doubt. But to ground your argument on the mob numbers or web activists is pointless. According to officials, 2,160,000 voted for Mousavi in Tehran (Ahmadinejad got 1800000). If you count the under-18 teenagers (who weren’t eligible to vote), it wasn’t hard for him to rally hundreds of thousands in the week after the election, when Khamenei hadn’t yet demanded them to follow the legal process instead of street demonstrations. Also consider the fact that the only significant demonstrations were held in Tehran.

    “The fact that the largest of the GM demonstrations (Ashura) occured five months after the election dispute”
    The Ashura protests were in no way the ‘largest’ but only the second violent one (after the protests on June 20th). It is widely aggreed that the only green movement demonstrations with large numbers (>100000) participating were the peaceful demonstrations on June 15th through June 17th (before the Khamenei friday speech). And believe me, most people here didn’t like the Ashura protests (including myself who was stuck in traffic because of burning trash bins in the middle of streets). I’d call it a serious blow to the GM’s support base.

  506. Kamran says:

    Scott Lucas and ChrisE seem to be pretty jealous of the Leveretts. It’s probably because they have invested so much of their credibility in the Greens and because they have effectively worked as a propaganda outlet for these people. Despite all of the funding they receive, all of their predictions have turned out to be completely wrong.

  507. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @LUCAS AND CHRIS:

    I am not condoning any rights abuses, closures of newspapers, intimidations and the like. I just think that the government is justified in a measure of police action to curb the excesses of demonstrators, rioters, trouble-makers and indeed members of terrorist groups who, let’s face it, have reacted violently to the election result – and which we now know to reflect the will of the Iranian people.

    As the Leveretts point out, we have not witnessed anything of the order of Tiananmen square, Blood Sunday in Northern Ireland, the Paris uprising of 1968, Waco or the like.

    China brutally suppressed a revolt by the Uighurs last year – did anyone from the neocon camp speak out against it? No.

    Human rights issues cannot be (ab)used as a political tool or out of expediency.

    If you seek regime change on account of human rights abuses, go get rid of Saudi tyranny – or indeed the perpetrators of abuse at Guatanomo and Abu Ghraib.

  508. ChrisE says:

    @ Kooshy

    By what twisted logic does it follow that Abu Ghraib renders all criticism of the Iranian post-election crackdown hypocritical?

    What about NGOs such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty- who have criticised both?

    Have you also forgotten that the Leveretts are American and were former government officials when Lucas was an established critic of US foreign policy? The difference between them now is that only Lucas is on record as criticising both Abu Ghraib AND actions by the Iranian govt.

  509. Scott Lucas says:

    Kooshy,

    I agree that the US Government has no moral authority to lecture another country on human rights. And I’m certain that you agree that Iranians, first and foremost, should be the ones who can claim those rights and should not be denied them just because their Government says “foreign intervention”.

    Human rights are not divisible between nations, and we not hide behind that “national” division to ignore abuses, be they of Iraqis of Abu Ghraib, of citizens of many countries at Guantanamo Bay, of Pakistanis suffering from drone warfare, or of Iranians in their own country.

    Scott

  510. kooshy says:

    Mr. Lucas

    Hypocrisy aside, US governments, including the majority of American people who have voted and supported past and present administrations, have no moral authority
    to complain, criticize, or speak of the human rights abuses anywhere on the planet except of their own country’s actions around the world.

    To have moral authority, for criticizing human rights abuses in Iran, you and your government not only need to criticize the same atrocities committed by your own government around the planet ( Abogahrib, Guantanamo, wedding bombings, Philadelphia to name a few), but more importantly you are obliged to correct them first.

    As an informed and fair scholar and teacher, you must know that every country’s human rights must start at home. Iranians would be delighted if you can inform them of other subjects that your country has a moral authority to speak of like nuclear disarmament, and NPT regulations, LOL.

  511. Scott Lucas says:

    Reza,

    I would agree that there is no single Green Movement; it is an umbrella term for different groups and individuals. However, my perception is that the catalyst for the public protests was not an attempt — foreign-inspired or indigenous — to overthrow the Islamic Republic; rather, it was a question of the legitimacy of the election and thus of the Ahmadinejad Government.

    The refusal to acknowledge any possibility of a mis-handled elections and the crackdown on protests with the denial of rights, detentions, and abuses has raised the stakes, but it is still not the case that the primary goal of most in the opposition is to bring down the system — just look at the statements not only of Mousavi and Karroubi but also human rights activists, women’s rights groups, journalists, and reformist parties. It is a demand that the civil rights of Iranians and the Constitution be upheld.

    This should not be a question of “the West [having] any influence over the human rights situation in Iran”; rather it should be one of Iranians themselves having the political space and legal protection to enjoy those rights.

    Scott

  512. ChrisE says:

    Reza, your post is an insult to the plight of millions of Iranians specifically and historical accuracy generally

    “I am not exactly disgusted that the government has cracked down in the way it has”

    Leveretts: witness the attitude of your cheerleader(s). This individual has no problem with murder, rape, detention without trial, forced confessions, intimidation and censorship as tools of government.

    “The Green movement may have a civil rights agenda, but it is absurd for such a movement to then try and overthrow a democratically elected government through street rioting and demonstrations.”

    The GM was originally protesting the result because quite clearly, as even the Leveretts admit, the election result lacked transparency. They initially called for a re-count or re-election. They chanted, and continue to chant, the name of leaders such as Mousavi and Khatami who are not trying to tear down the foundations of the IRI.

    On a seperate but related note, you do realise that you are echoing the sentiments of the Shah’s government? Or even those in America who accused the civil rights movement as trying to overthrow the elected government.

    But the point here is that Iranians have long known that electoral fraud is commonplace in their elections. The Iranian electoral system lacks any sense of reasonable transparency. Nor can anyone take serious the Guardian Council’s independence or capability to fully investigate claims of electoral fraud. I also repeat that the polls the Leverett’s repeatedly claim predicted a large AN victory are FLAWED.

    That Mousavi was able to rally such huge numbers speaks volumes about the enormous dissatisfaction with how the revolution has panned out. Regardless of the election result, the AN presidency, and the wider IRI, has a problem of legitimacy. The GM simply tapped into a huge groundwell of discontent.

    The Supreme Leader, characteristically inflexible, did not respond to this- in fact his speech at Friday Prayers a week after the election essentially called the Basij out to brutalise protestors. That destroyed any sense that the regime was willing to consider any of their wider grievances.

    The fact that the largest of the GM demonstrations (Ashura) occured five months after the election dispute, despite all attempts by the govt to demonstrate the legitimacy of AN’s victory, backed up by their rigid control of state-run media, showed that the protest was now much more about normal Iranians protesting against the conditions in which they live and the general way the govt goes about their business. It was then, and remains, a civil rights movement.

    “The government of Iran is open to a reformist movement – this is indicated by the sheer number of demonstrations held in support of reform since 1997. But it is another thing to expect it to tolerate a movement that includes violent elements seeking to overthrow it other than through the ballot box”

    No, the Iranian people elected a reformist candidate who’s election very quickly provoked a backlash from the same fanatics, such as Mesbah-Yadzi, Jannati and Ahmed Khatami, that now call for protestors to be labled ‘mohareb’ and executed.

    When students called for, again quite basic, reforms in 1999 they were also arrested in their thousands and brutalised. Khatami was intimidated into abandoning any further notions of reform- witness the shooting of his advisor (Hajjarian). They even locked up his vice-president,Abdollah Nouri, for publishing “sacrilegious articles” in his reformist newspaper. Khatami was re-elected, but the reformist agenda was crushed by force.

    Some of their other analysis I share- particularly the futility of sanctions, military threats and the broadly flawed principles upon which US policy has been founded since 1979.

    I also support engagement- but they also consistently deploy the China and Egypt analogies for engagement when in fact those both offer very little which can be transposed onto Iran. Egypt tried to destroy Israel twice and received a beating twice- Sadat thus recognised peace as the only releastic alternative, he was also fed up with the Soviets and was promised massive US military and economic assistance. Congress were willing to grant that assistance because of the cold war context and because it granted Israel security.

    The China case is equally unhelpful because the opening also originated from a cold war calculus- specifically the Soviet-Sino split.

    The US media talks a huge amount of nonsense regarding the Iranian nuclear program. At the same time, the Leveretts have also mischaracterised Iran’s apparently blameless behaviour. For example, their idea that Iran has absolutely no realistic alternative to producing its own medical isotopes.

    AN’s gamble to alienate the west is, in my view, an incorrect one. Ultimately, the swap deal is a decent one and Obama’s change in tone, and I would argue actions vis a vis covert ops, has not been matched by any positive statements emerging from Tehran. That said, I would acknowledge that Iran’s list of American grievances is probably longer than America’s.

    The key here is that the Leveretts have alienated even those specialists who criticise sensationalist reporting of Iran’s nuclear program, oppose military action, support engagement and criticise American policy in the middle east. Which is quite an achievment.

    I submit that it is in part because the Leveretts attract the support of people such as Reza and Dr Marandi.

  513. Kourosh says:

    america and its master england are the root of all evils
    an anglo/american islamci coup brought criminal regime of islamic republic in to power
    (back in 1979) america labeled it islamci revolution!
    when in reality it was an anglo/american criminal regime
    for 31 years america ha sbeen supporting the criminal islamic regime by giving it financial aids -and financing and helping islamic rep. lobbysts like trita parso and hooshang amir ahmadi and host of others
    stupid american people think its government is fighting the teror when in reality america and its master have been behind the terrorist group and govs such as islamic republic hamas and al qaida – brezenskii( obama’s master) is the god fathe rof khomeini and creator of al quaida and islamic rpeublic

  514. Mehdi says:

    @Reza Esfandiari:

    به نظرت اگر یک ایرانی تحصیلکرده در رشته سیاست که در تهران زندگی میکنه و تنها زبان خارجی که بلد هست آلمانی میباشد واقعن میتواند به عنوان یک کارشناس ماهر در امور سیاسی امریکا باشد؟ مخصوصا اگر این شخص اعتقاد دارد که مسائل داخلی سیاسی کشور هیچ اثری در سیاست خارجی ندارد.

  515. Persian Gulf says:

    Fiorangela:

    a perfect explanation of the support for Human Rights in Iran. I also find it absurd not to see the very upper middle class chanting here and there for Human Rights in Iran don’t complain at all to their patrons in the West the ban on spar parts for the civilian aircrafts that they, and only they, use the most in Iran. Prof. Lucas who is probably tuned with these Iranians would need to remind them of this double speak in their Human Rights acclamation.

  516. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @CHRIS

    You claim that the “reality” is that millions of Irans took to the streets to protest against the regime, but that is not the case: they were first and foremost angry at what they were being told, and indeed lied to, was a stolen election.

    The Green movement may have a civil rights agenda, but it is absurd for such a movement to then try and overthrow a democratically elected government through street rioting and demonstrations.

    The government of Iran is open to a reformist movement – this is indicated by the sheer number of demonstrations held in support of reform since 1997. But it is another thing to expect it to tolerate a movement that includes violent elements seeking to overthrow it other than through the ballot box.

    For all the talk of freedom of speech, if the opposition insists on lying to the Iranian people about the result of the election and the extent of any abuse, I am not exactly disgusted that the government has cracked down in the way it has. A war of propaganda and disinformation has been waged by the western media, in addition to the opposition, as if the votes of 24 million Iranians don’t count for anything.

  517. Kathleen says:

    So now we have an Iranian scientist who was lured(/one article said kidnapped) by the CIA. How soon should we be expecting U.S. intelligence to be based on one source saying Iran “has, might have, could have, dreams about, considers, blah blah blah” nuclear weapons. If Judy “I was fucking right” Miller she would be all over this one source writing it up as the truth sent from the heavens.

    I know history repeats itself but this is insane.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/iran-nuclear-scientist-defects-us-cia-intelligence-coup/story?id=10231729

    Wonder what they are paying this guy?

  518. Kathleen says:

    Jean Luca “Mrs. Leverett said in this interview that Anwar Sadat killed Jewish people before making peace with Israel. I would like to know if the following killed Palestinians and Arabs: Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Begin, Shamir, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon and Olmert? just out of curiosity? Most probably as we here on fox, cnn and other media the arabs are terrorists and it is legitimate to kill them!”

    Only able to look at the suffering of one group of people. This inability to widen that scope seems to be epidemic amongst many

  519. Bart says:

    I meant”opening” to Egypt.

  520. ChrisE says:

    Another appalling performance by the Leveretts.

    Let’s be clear, the Leveretts are not just abandoning ‘sentimentality’, they are (for reasons I cannot understand) abandoning their academic integrity.

    I’m prepared to accept that claims that Ahmadinejad ‘stole’ the election on the scale alleged, are as yet unproven. I’m equally persuaded that the current president is popular amongst large sections of the population. I’m also convinced that engagement with Iran is the only alternative to the idiosy of sustained confrontation.

    That version of the Leveretts’ reality I am willing to acccept, though incidentally I wish they would acknowledge the extreme methodological problems associated with the pre-election data they keep peddling. But they don’t seem to have much concern for evidence in this piece.

    What I cannot forgive the Leveretts for is their consistent misrepresentation of the post-election crisis. Which is basically this: the abuse was basically one prison by 12 guys who were quickly arrested on the SL’s order and, heck, they should be grateful that there was no Tiananmen square (remember China doesn’t even pretend to be a democracy). Plus, in any case, the majority of the population are firmly behind the regime’s response against these US-Zionist puppets.

    The reality was that millions of Iranian took to the streets to protest not just the lack of transparency regarding the election but, fundamentally, the way the regime treats its citizens. They were not united by a political agenda but became, above all, a civil rights movement asking for the most basic of rights. In this pursuit they shook the regime to the very core and surely changed forever Iran’s political trajectory. Rather than accept the need for reform, the regime detained without charge, assaulted and intimidated thousands. It killed, tortured, lied and censored. It purged universities of those members of faculty who were not as supportive as the Leveretts and their colleague Dr Marandi.

    Then finally, after their newspapers have been shut down, their leaders beaten up and arrested, the internet cut off, their families threatened, their attempts to protest blocked, their property seized… the Leverett’s have the guile to further belittle these courageous people by declaring their movement irrelevant, their claims illegitimate and their achievements zero.

    Can someone, anyone, tell me why the Leveretts are doing this? – Surely it can simply be to receive a nice trip to Marandi’s institute to further whitewash history.

    The mistake that the Leveretts make here is that they are implictly responding to several (false)claims:

    1 That the Green Movement was about to sweep aside the IRI and the Supreme Leader.
    2 That Iran is an existential threat to Israel
    3 That the only way to prevent Iran from aquiring nukes is by bombing
    4 That engagement is pointless

    I am not making any of these arguments- but I simply call on the Leveretts to stop mischaracterising what is above all a civil right movement. Acknowledge that these unbelievably courageous people are asking for very basic rights and that the regime has gone to appalling lengths to stifle their aspirations.

    This is why Scott Lucas is right to state that the Leveretts should make it clear that by abadoning ‘sentimentality’ they basically mean that this kind of behaviour by the regime is irrelevant to US interests.

    We can only have an open debate when the Leveretts acknowledge all distortions and all realities- not just the ones that suit their arguments and professional agendas.

  521. Bart says:

    Nixon was done in 1973. Egypt invaded Sinai in 1973. Sadat-Begin peace treaty was during Carter’s Administration. What Nixon-Kissinger “opening” to Israel was Hillary praising?

    Also, am I the only one who thought Charlie Rose ignored Hillary and focused on Flynt. It seemed Charlie was always looking at Flynt and Hillary had to fight to get a word in. I like Flynt and have heard from him plenty. I like to hear more of what Hillary has to say.

  522. Anthony says:

    Scott Lucas says it all. Agree with him 100%!

  523. Pirouz says:

    You tell him, Fiorangela!

  524. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Americans are funny people.
    We are passionately in support of Human Rights for Iran!
    We are so passionately in support of Human Rights for Iran that our government passes legislation the intent of which is to so pressure the Iranian people that they will form mobs, riot in the streets, and overthrow their government.

    We are so totally in support of Human Rights for Iran! that our highest-ranking military leader urges Iran’s neighbors to “accelerate” their purchase of weapons systems so that they can wipe out the Iranian air force.

    We want to ensure the safety and security of the common man in Iran; after all, Americans support Human Rights in Iran! To that end, we refuse to sell, and refuse to permit anyone else to sell, replacement parts for Iran’s aging and decrepit fleet of Boeing civilian aircraft.

    In our insistence that Iran extend human rights to its people, over the course of the past 4 years American and/or Israeli government officials have conducted laboratory as well as real-time war games, issued threats of military attack beyond counting, sold and delivered weapons of the most hideous (and internationally sanctioned) lethal force, drawn bulls-eyes on Iran’s cities, towns, villages, highways.

    It is for the good of the Iranian people — to support their human rights — that Stuart Levey works the levers of US Treasury Dept financial blackmail to strangle Iran’s economy, causing prices to rise, inflation to soar. Levey’s efforts have caused and are intended to cause loss of industrial relations with other countries such that unemployment in Iran is near the 20% mark. All this, in support of Human Rights for Iran!

    Yes indeedy, all options are on the table in pursuit of US support for human rights in Iran.

    Sometimes you gotta destroy a country to support its human rights.

  525. Reza Esfandiari says:

    @PROFESSOR LUCAS:

    Scott, its not that the Leveretts want to dismiss the human rights situation in Iran – they just refuse to get caught up in the emotion and sentimentality of the whole thing.

    They pointed out in the interview how the Iranian Government closed down the Kakhrizak detention centre and have put officials accused of abuse on trial. They also mentioned the disappointing suspension of newspapers etc.. I think what’s holding them back , first and foremost, is because they know that the post-election unrest was unjustified with respect to the fact that supporters of the Green movement took to the streets and rioted, demanding that the duly elected government resign.

    In the West, the Green movement is seen as a “pro-democracy” force – but its not. Its an anti-democratic one, drawn mostly from the minority metropolitan middle class, that refuses to accept majority rule. If people like you are serious about democracy and the rule of law, then you have to concede that “arm wrestling in the streets” over an election result ,as Ayatollah Khamenei called it, is not acceptable.

    Only an improved US-Iran relationship can give the West any influence over the human rights situation in Iran.

  526. Scott Lucas says:

    Sadly, I found little of value in this platform for the Leveretts, and indeed in almost all of their commentary in recent months. For me, this is polemic posing as analysis, distinguished by unsupported speculation, misrepresentations, and frequent distortions.

    I admired the stand taken by the Leveretts over the Iraq War and thought they were a valuable voice challenging the official presentations of the Bush Administration. In that case, however, they presented evidence to support that challenge. In this case, they offer little support for their assertions about Iran’s internal politics, some of which are wildly off the mark.

    There are grounds for discussion of the Leveretts’ claim that Ahmadinejad was a clear victor in June 2009 and still enjoys mass support and even their assertion — as poorly supported as it is — that there is no longer a significant opposition. However, I find that, in their defense of the legitimacy of the Iranian regime, they distort and even try to wish away the situation regarding post-election detentions, abuses, and denial of rights. If they wish to put the case that human rights should not matter in our approach to Iran, then they should say this clearly without denying the detention of thousands of post-election political prisoners, restrictions on communications including jailing of dozens of journalists, suppression of human rights activists, and threats against families.

    The Leveretts’ argument that US foreign policy should pursue a “grand settlement” with Iran on regional issues as well as the nuclear question deserves careful consideration. I believe, however, that they undercut this when they support their argument with their mis-representation of the important political, legal, and social issues in Iran.

  527. jean luca says:

    Long time reader first time writer.
    BELOW PAR (the interview, especially Lady Leverett)!

    Mrs. Leverett said in this interview that Anwar Sadat killed Jewish people before making peace with Israel. I would like to know if the following killed Palestinians and Arabs: Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Begin, Shamir, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon and Olmert? just out of curiosity? Most probably as we here on fox, cnn and other media the arabs are terrorists and it is legitimate to kill them!

    I am very enlightened by her comment/s!

  528. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Add one more to your list, Kathleen (this one may break your heart; it broke mine).

    Ellen Tauscher is now State Department Undersecretary for Arms Control and National Security. She briefed the press corps on the new US-Russian nuclear agreement.http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/221754

    As usual, whenever Iran was mentioned, it was in terms of a bad actor, a nuclear proliferator, a problem in the same category as North Korea.

    According to Tauscher, the US-Russia agreement is helpful in that it will give the US more leverage to twist more international arms to gang up on Iran.

  529. Eric A. Brill says:

    When it makes it to The Simpsons…

    I didn’t watch “The Simpsons” myself this week, but a friend told me that Homer and his family visited Israel. Hanging above the baggage claim carousel was this sign: “Israel: Your American tax dollars at work.”

  530. Mohammad says:

    @Kathleen

    I think Flynt and Hillary did relatively well in the interview. I don’t find the absence of any criticism of Israel’s actions very surprising, maybe since I’m too much used to the common language of the Western media on Iran.
    BTW, as well as being correct, the Leveretts had to be also ‘politically correct’. So I understood Hillary’s position (I’m myself a criticizer of Ahmadinejad for not being careful in choosing his wording, so as to prevent any misunderstanding after translation) and I don’t blame her. Their arguments should appeal to as most people as possible. Challenging too many misconceptions and attacking Israel at the same time would be dangerous to their perceived credibility in the eye of the viewers and make them amenable to stepped-up criticism by the hawks.

  531. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Leverett fans:

    At the end of the day, they have to talk about how Iran engagement is in the interests of ISRAEL. Iran and Israel had a secret alliance to thwart Saddam Hussein in the 1980s – Mousavi was very much part of this. What does Israel gain from isolating or confronting Iran other than inviting trouble for itself?

    Its time to challenge the talk of an apocalyptic, lunatic and Judaeocidal regime in Tehran and recognize that its more like a big, mean and hungry Persian pussy cat.

  532. Kathleen says:

    I continue to be in shock by the WH press corp. They obviously did not learn anything from the run up to the invasion of Iraq . They never challenge the president or anyone else about the claims made by Obama and so many others about Iran. As if they have the “solid evidence” to back up these endlessly repeated claims about Iran. This has been going on continually over the last seven years. I have heard Talk of the Nations Neil Conan allow John Bolton to ger away with repeating these claims about Iran. Conan never challenged him. During the campaign I heard John McCain repeat these unsubstantiated claims about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program and the endlessly repeated and debunked (prof Cole) claim that Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the map” On This Week with Stephanpoulous and then again on Hardball. I heard Obama refer to a nuclear weapons program on Face the Nation as if it all ready existed and Bob Schieffer did not challenge him. I have heard Fresh Air’s host Terri Gross not only allow quest to repeat these claims I have heard her repeat them herself as Charlie Rose did. Terri Gross has done this so often I have lost count. RAchel Maddow has done it too. Spouted off these claims as if they are fact.

    You would think they would have learned something from the “group think” of our MSMin the run up to the invasion of Iraq. It’s as if hundreds of thousands dead and injured in Iraq and millions displaced as s direct consequence of the U.S. an U.K.’s invasion is not enough to make them challenge the claims about Iran. I know history repeats itself but this is insane. Just insane. Proves once again that Israel and the I lobby are still clearly in control of our middle east policy.

    At least Flynt corrected Charlie Rose’s rant on Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the map” hogwash. Israel threatens Iran every day. Why is no one talking about that?.

    Professor Juan cole
    “The precise reason for Hitchens’ theft and publication of my private mail is that I object to the characterization of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having “threatened to wipe Israel off the map.” I object to this translation of what he said on two grounds. First, it gives the impression that he wants to play Hitler to Israel’s Poland, mobilizing an armored corps to move in and kill people.

    But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.”

    http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html

  533. kooshy says:

    James
    “If Israel fails to get out of the West Bank, how can it remain a “democratic” state if the Palestinians were prevented from voting, etc etc?”

    Remain, James, can you Please explain how and if currently, Israel is a democratic state?

    Thank You

  534. James Canning says:

    Kathleen,

    I very much agree with you that the silence of the press, when Iran is being discussed (and no mention is made of US support of Rigi and other terrorists operating in Iran), is disturbing. Dennis Ross said during the campaign the strategy would be to appear to reach out to Iran. Does Obama understand this aspect of the game plan? Or is he taken in, believing a bona fide effort at outreach in fact has been made?

  535. James Canning says:

    Great program. I would hope Charlie Rose would review Ahmadinejad’s comments on the future of Israel, and the relationship between the Holocaust and the continuing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis. If the Palestinians make a deal with the Israelis, the Iranians have clearly indicated that would be acceptable to Iran as well. If Israel fails to get out of the West Bank, how can it remain a “democratic” state if the Palestinians were prevented from voting, etc etc?

  536. Kathleen says:

    During the today’s press conference with Sarkozy and Obama it was all bad bad Iran. Obama tried to present the myth that the Obama administration had really extended amazing offers to Iran only to be turned down. Of course we do not hear anyone in the Press ask any questions about the U.S. and Israeli efforts to support radical groups in Iran that want to take the Iranian government down. How the U.S. allegedly supports these efforts and how this support has constantly undermined any possibility of real negotiations with Iran as Flynt mentioned in the Charlie Rose interview

  537. Kathleen says:

    Mohammad and others. Did you find the absence of any criticism of Israel’s actions in the region by Charlie, Flynt and Hillary surprising? I thought Hillary’s focus on only what the Iranian President has allegedly said deeply disturbing. Far more inflammatory, threatening and unsubstantiated claims coming out of Israel’s leaders and the I lobby, Congressional leaders about Iran than has ever come out of Iranian leaders.

  538. Kathleen says:

    Charlie Rose repeated the Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the map” hogwash. Flynt corrects Charlie Rose’s inflammatory rhetoric and claims about Iran.

    Charlie Rose “we (Iran) want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth”

    Flynt “I don’t think there is a statement on record, where properly translated where Ahmadenejad has ever said we or Iran or he wants to wipe Israel off the map”

    THAT IS THE VERY FIRST TIME I HAVE HEARD ANYONE WHO HAS REPEATED THIS BULLSHIT CLAIM CORRECTED. And Charlie Rose repeated that false claim just the way the Israel and the I lobby like.

    Go Flynt

    One disappointing attitude that Hillary voiced after she mentioned that she was a “Jewish American” and hurt by the language of the Iranian President. Was the complete inability that most American Jews are unable to do is criticize the ongoing illegal activities, breaking of International agreements and Israel’s unwillingness to sign the very NPT agreement that they want their neighbors to abide by. And how this defiance by Israel has inflamed the region for decades. The hypocrisy was in your face. Hillary responded the way most American Jews do. A complete inability to walk in the Iranian’s shoes. All Iran’s fault. Pathetic

    Hillary , Charlie Rose and Flynt did not bring up Israel’s ongoing defiance of the International community. And the continued inflammatory, hateful and threatening language that comes out of Isreal the I lobby towards Iran. Not a whisper. Silence. No different than the MSM.

    Tonight after the Sarkozy/Obama press conference. David Shuster went on and on about how they had focused on Iran. He went on and on about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. During the press conference. Not one of the journalist that asked questions asked anything about Israel’s slap in the Obama administrations face over settlements. Not one question out of the press. Silence. And Sarkozy had given them an opening by mentioning the illegal settlements.

    Not much has changed in our MSM since before the invasion of Iraq. No challenging questions about the alleged U.S. intelligence on Iran.

    You can bet your ass if Charles Freeman had not been harassed out of his position in the NIE we would not be hearing all of these unsubstantiated claims about Iran endlessly repeated

  539. Mohammad says:

    As another Iranian, fully agreed with Reza!

    There were particularly interesting parts in the interview, which I wish other Iran analysts in the West would know as much as the Leveretts:
    First, that Rafsanjani is not in any way (or is likely to do so in the future) challenging Khamenei’s leadership or the Islamic Republic system. I’m often entertained by articles written by proclaimed ‘Iran analysts’ who hypothesize about how Rafsanjani is in a power struggle with Khamenei and the leadership is divided etc. It shows their serious lack of knowledge about the internals of the Iranian political system which makes them mistake tactical disagreements for strategic ‘power struggles’.
    Second, it is the first time that I see on a Western outlet that one actually understands the dynamics and roots of the IRGC influence in the Iranian economy. I’m no fan of IRGC taking a large role in the economy, but most Westerners fail to understand that rather than an ‘economic coup’ by power-hungry generals, this is a result of short-sighted decisions and mismanagement, decisions which seemed quite plausible and well-intended at their time (considering the IRGC soldiers becoming idle after the Iran-Iraq war, while Iran’s infrastructure was in serious need of reconstruction).

  540. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Watching this video was somewhat depressing in that here are two brilliant Iran analysts who are ignored and ostracised by the political elite despite their perspicacity and expertise.

    Imagine if Hillary and Flynt were running the State Department and NSC?

    It really is a case of the world would be a better place.