Continued Protest in Iran Signal Shift in Goals [#iranElection]

As the reality sets in that what’s now being called the New Revolution and the Sea of Green shows no sign of receding, more in depth analysis seems to be coming out. The tail end of last week showed a bit of partisan bickering while both the US left and right seemed to be looking for ways to use this against their political opponents. Interestingly, now it is a site called The Bipartisan Report that looks to throw a little cold water on the exuberance Americans are seeing in the pursuit for Iranian freedom.

Tom Regan writes there:

Come on people. Mousavi is certainly more “liberal” in terms of his opponent (that certainly the way we want to see it in the west), but Obama (the real one) is absolutely correct when he says there will be little difference between the two. We all know why – the president doesn’t get to call all the shots in Iran. Mousavi, a former premier under the mullahs, for heaven’s sake, is a saavy politician and he is probably correct in thinking the election was stolen. But Mousavi is not Iran’s Obama – he is Iran’s John Kerry. He talks a great game, but he’s been part of the political establishment for a long time.

Tom is a former blogger for NPR, and has a long history writing about Iran, but I think it’s his experience here that’s jading the larger picture the rest of us are seeing.

It’s a protest that’s no longer about a re-count, a President, or about hatred for the West and an institutional Jewish Israel.


imageFollowing the declaration last week by Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s office that the election had been fixed, Iranian filmmaker and current president of the Asian Film Academy Mohsen Makhmalbaf was named the official spokesman of now jailed presidential candidate. He recently penned an editorial that was printed in the UK Guardian entitled “I speak for Mousavi. And Iran,” which purported to do just as the title dictated:

Before the revolution, Mousavi was a religious intellectual and an artist, who supported radical change but did not support the mullahs. After the revolution, when all religious intellectuals and even leftists backed Khomeini, he served as prime minister for eight years. The economy was stable, and he did not order the killings of opponents, or become corrupt.

In order to neutralize his power, the position of prime minister was eliminated from the constitution and he was pushed out of politics. So Mousavi returned to the world of artists because in a country where there are no real political parties, artists can act as a party. The artists supported Khatami and now they support Mousavi.

Previously, he was revolutionary, because everyone inside the system was a revolutionary. But now he’s a reformer. Now he knows Gandhi – before he knew only Che Guevara. If we gain power through aggression we would have to keep it through aggression. That is why we’re having a green revolution, defined by peace and democracy.

What we’re seeing emerge in Iran is a desire for a new political system, one perhaps less based in theocracy, and one more rooted in democracy. The desire is to have a system less governed by corruption and connection, and rooted in personal freedom. It’s no longer simply about one candidate, one election or one set of reform goals.


Honestly, for most of us, that’s what it was all about in the first place. I had a conversation last night with a politically conservative friend of mine who expressed confusion as to why Americans of all political stripe and without an ounce of dissent are supporting Iranians when they were so divided over whether to support Iraqis and their pursuit for freedom.

I argued, after a bit of thought, that I think the difference here is that the rallying cry didn’t come from someone who was an American partisan of any stripe.

“If a conservative goes to war, he’s an imperialist hawk,” I said. “If a liberal goes to war, he’s a meddling bleeding heart”

“Freedom is only okay depending on how its achieved?” he asked.

“There are easy ways to turn the process of freedom into an argument when it comes from someone with other agendas,” I responded. “When it comes from someone who’s crying out “Let me be free,” it’s hard to argue with that.”