[eDebate] smoking iran editorial -- financial times

michael hester uwgdebate
Fri Jun 26 16:19:40 CDT 2009

i may have misspoke with "winds of change" imagery. what i meant to argue
was that the age demographics in Iran lead to momentum for change, not that
such "change" is anything like what the West wants or projects onto the
populace (some polls indicate 85% of the population wants the bomb,
something current media coverage glosses over big time).

in saying that the slant toward a younger demographic increases calls for
change, i'm realying more on the stereotype of youth agitating for control
over their own exciting story. for example, i do think that the masses of
youth taking to the streets see this as a chance to participate in the kind
of revolutionary zeal their elders have been telling stories about all their
lives. for an adult born in 1984 or a young adult born in 1992, Iran can
seem kinda boring/stifling compared to the upheaval that occured during
their parents and older relatives lives before they were born. now they see
an opportunity to take part in street riots, act out against authority, etc.
and a helluva lot are jumping on it.

where i agree with you is on the oversimplified assumption that because
young people are taking to the streets, therefore Iranians want neoliberal
democracy. calls for reform doesn't = calls to be like America or behave
like Americans want us to. heck, they may tear the whole thing down and
replace it with an administration even more hell bent on having a nuclear
arsenal to deter Israel. in other words, i mean "change" in the energetic
sense, not in any particular political direction. and i do think the age
divide has implications that are distinct from the city/rual distinction
used to explain support for Ahmadinejad

where we may disagree is that i don't think this *whole* thing is just a
smoke-and-mirrors western media production. even if the CIA and its ilk have
been instigating protests (and i agree that's fairly easy to assume based on
the historical record), that doesn't mean there isn't *also *a LOT of pent
up anger with the current regime (or whatever the hell else teen angst and
rising expextations are directed against) that is part of this too. while it
has to be 51% to win an election, if 35% of the populace is upset, that can
still cause a regime serious headaches. the unrest may have catalyzed around
the elections (or been lit afire by western propagandistic efforts to foment
revolt), but the longer it goes on, the more it becomes about issues larger
than one election.


p.s. - i thought the friedman article talked about the debates. at this
point the coverage is kinda running together, but i do recall reading one
analyst note that while outsiders thought moussavi did well, folks inside
Iran said Ahmadinejad definitely did better from the Iranian public's
perspective. (different from, but reminiscent of the kennedy/nixon debate
perspectives, maybe?)

On Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 3:04 PM, Old Strega <oldstrega at hotmail.com> wrote:

>  regarding obama's need for a foreign policy victory, it might seem early
> but the path of his speaking engagements shows he's already stumping.    the
> caricature of suave but weak is already taking shape and the administration
> feels the need to combat that image before it sticks.   north korea is not
> helping.
> will the vote fraud evidence ever reach the threshold of definitive theft?
>   right now, many people believe the election was stolen without such
> evidence.     the only answer i know for that is the media coverage which is
> obviously "partial" in more than one meaning of that word.
> 1) if the coverage had included the rural areas where ahmadinejad is
> popular, would as many people believe that minor evidence of fraud is
> significant enough to deem the election stolen?
> 2) if the coverage had included mousavi's biographical details of
> repression and murder and not emphasized his wife, would as many people
> believe that minor evidence of fraud is significant enough to deem the
> election stolen?   with a good guy in the picture, it is even easier assume
> that the bad guy cheated him.
> i think you're getting too much lyrical mileage out of the idea that "the
> winds are changing" in iran.    yes, for the students in tehran but there is
> no evidence of such a movement achieving critical mass.    there are
> protests but not enough protests to reflect a majority of iranians across
> the entire nation upset about the outcome of the election.
> you're back to using the extrapolation of the election fraud results to a
> stolen election.   we have no demographic proof of the changing winds.  just
> there was fraud which means more than the majority voted for mousavi.  this
> anti-demographic approach relies heavily on protest coverage from tehran to
> create the impression that "the winds are changing".   more complete
> coverage may have dispelled the myth.
> i will conclude with another missing anecdote in the press which further
> demonstrates the movement never reached critical mass--- mousavi's defeat in
> the debates:
> http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23745.html
> Like much of the Western media, most American ?Iran experts? overstated Mir
> Hossein Mousavi?s ?surge? over the campaign?s final weeks. More important,
> they were oblivious ? as in 2005 ? to Ahmadinejad?s effectiveness as a
> populist <http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23745.html#> politician
> and campaigner. American ?Iran experts? missed how Ahmadinejad was perceived
> by most Iranians as having won the nationally televised debates with his
> three opponents ? especially his debate with Mousavi.
> Before the debates, both Mousavi and Ahmadinejad campaign aides indicated
> privately that they perceived a surge of support for Mousavi; after the
> debates, the same aides concluded that Ahmadinejad?s provocatively
> impressive performance<http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23745.html#>
>  and Mousavi?s desultory one had boosted the incumbent?s standing.
> Ahmadinejad?s charge that Mousavi was supported by Rafsanjani?s sons ?
> widely perceived in Iranian society as corrupt figures ? seemed to play well
> with voters.
> Similarly, Ahmadinejad?s criticism that Mousavi?s reformist supporters,
> including Khatami, had been willing to suspend Iran?s uranium enrichment
> program and had won nothing from the West<http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23745.html#>
>  for doing so tapped into popular support for the program ? and had the
> added advantage of being true.
> More fundamentally, American ?Iran experts? consistently underestimated
> Ahmadinejad?s base of support. Polling in Iran is notoriously difficult;
> most polls there are less than fully professional and, hence, produce
> results of questionable validity. But the one poll conducted before Friday?s
> election by a Western organization that was transparent about its
> methodology ? a telephone poll carried out by the Washington-based
> Terror-Free Tomorrow from May 11 to 20 ? found Ahmadinejad running 20 points
> ahead of Mousavi. This poll was conducted before the televised debates in
> which, as noted above, Ahmadinejad was perceived to have done well while
> Mousavi did poorly.
> ------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 20:13:49 -0400
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] smoking iran editorial -- financial times
> From: uwgdebate at gmail.com
> To: oldstrega at hotmail.com; edebate at ndtceda.com
> sorry to group a bunch of this debate, but between listening to some old
> michael jackson, rip, and watching the nba draft, i really need to condense
> some of this discussion:
> 1) jack provides a defendable scenario of how western media has jumped the
> gun on the election fraud claims. goes to show that being hyperskeptical can
> be useful, and elections in the mideast seem particularly well-suited to
> analysis where suspicion is presumptive. i'm not convinced the election
> wasn't fraudulent (guess i kinda fall closer to friedman than petras on that
> point), but i also diverge from friedman in whether the abnormalities that
> did occcur affected the outcome. as an example of a scenario that attempts
> to synthesize some of our disagreements, it's not outlandish to think that
> the CIA/imperialists duped the Iranian public into supporting Moussavi, who
> really did win the election, but is still a bad dude.
> 2) jack's denouncement of the western media's myth of moussavi as reformer
> is spot on. *at best*, he's a politician that saw which way the winds were
> blowing (young people in Iran want change) and decided to play to the
> audience and may end up getting swept up in the momentum and be a faux
> reformer. more likely, he's exploiting western naivete and is no more
> liberatory than ahmadinejad.
> 3) i'm most intrigued by the analysis of obama's foreign policy agenda in
> #3. it's because i never really bought into the "moussavi is different" that
> i wasn't persuaded the US would gain much by him being president. as i noted
> in my last post, ahmadinejad as the archetypal villain seems to make the
> best option for US hardliners who want war against Iran. i hadn't considered
> this "obama needs a foreign policy victory" angle. definitely something i'll
> be thinking about as i continue to follow the situation.
> hester
> On Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 5:25 PM, Old Strega <oldstrega at hotmail.com> wrote:
>  hats off to hester.   watch this crazy debater gone bad act.
> 1) is ahmadinejad a good guy?   of course, not.    but that fact or
> impression is what is part of what is being leveraged to insinuate that
> fraud = stolen election.    the idea that some fraud may have been committed
> but that ahmadinejad's massive support in non-elite tehran, on the border
> where security is key, in the oil provinces where mousavi wanted to
> privatize and in rural areas where ahmadinejad's campaign against corruption
> is extremely popular, that this massive support was cut out of the TV
> picture through selective coverage.     this support crushed mousavi rather
> handily.    americans wanted the good guy that they were seeing on TV to win
> but that good guy has an arguably worse record responsible for mass
> executions and an iran-contra culprit which sets him up beautifully to be a
> US asset in the region who received funds from the Project for Democracy and
> the CIA for regime change.
> obama is in bed with the reagan iran-contra people in iran trying to
> undermine the regime in an effort to accomplish big picture policy aims in
> the region which are the same old policy aims of the bush administration:
> http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/001546.htm
> As President Obama<http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/us/politics/23text-obama.html> offered
> perhaps his strongest rhetorical support to date for opposition protesters
> in Iran, CQ<http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2009/06/mousavi-celebrated-in-iranian.html> offered
> a look back at the former 1980's prime minister turned accidental reformer,
> Mir-Hossain Mousavi. In 1983, Mousavi, CQ reported, ''had to be aware" of
> Iranian-sponsoredattacks on the United States in Lebanon<http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2009/06/mousavi-celebrated-in-iranian.html>,
> including the devastating barracks bombing that killed 241 Marines in
> Beirut. As it turns out, Mousavi was also intimately involved in another of
> Ronald Reagan's disastrous encounters with Iran just three years later. When
> Reagan sent <http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/001438.htm> a
> cake, a Bible and U.S. weapons to Tehran as part of the Iran-Contra scheme,
> then-Prime Minister Mousavi was there to receive them...As the November
> 1987 report of the Congressional committees<http://books.google.com/books?id=ew_K3auTwEgC&dq=iran+contra+congress+report&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=IwJsWxSkFE&sig=csEOG01HdW4-D1Chcpw9_6dBo5g&hl=en&ei=vVlBSq6QHoOisgOJsaj6CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7>investigating
> the Iran-Contra affair detailed, the McFarlane delegation was to meet with a
> now familiar cast of characters in Iran, including Mir-Hossein Mousavi<http://books.google.com/books?id=ew_K3auTwEgC&lpg=PA683&ots=IwJsXoUhDF&dq=%22+report+of+the+Congressional+committees+investigating+the+Iran-Contra+affair+%22&pg=PA237>
> .
> because ahmadinejad is the more recent evil iran leader in the spotlight,
> americans are vulnerable to claims that he's a bigger cheater than mousavi.
> there is no smoking gun fraud evidence that travels the distance to reach
> the threshold of a stolen election.   at this point, that is purely
> speculation and the illusion has been manufactured through media tricks.
>  the burden of proof should go the other way to demonstrate mousavi had a
> base of support other than the affluent in tehran to even challenge
> ahmadinejad.   poll analysis is weak in a vacuum when it isn't combined with
> demographic political analysis.    that's why petras and friedman are
> superior.
> 2) george friedman quals are good enough.  his parents are holocaust
> survivors so his argument about mousavi getting crushed should not be taken
> as ahmadinejad = good.  rather, he makes the persuasive case why mousavi
> didn't win.   his vast knowledge of the region could not make him the least
> bit sympathetic to mousavi, the liberator, like the average american.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Friedman
> *George Friedman* is an American<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States>
>  political scientist <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_scientist> and
> author. He is the founder, chief intelligence officer<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_officer>,
> financial overseer, and CEO of the private intelligence corporation
> Stratfor <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratfor>. He has authored several
> books, including *The Next 100 Years<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Next_100_Years&action=edit&redlink=1>
> *, *America's Secret War<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America%27s_Secret_War>
> *, *The Intelligence Edge*, and *The Future of War*.
> George Friedman is Chief Executive of STRATFOR<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratfor>,
> a private global intelligence firm he founded in 1996. Prior to joining the
> private sector, Friedman spent almost twenty years in academia, teaching
> political science at Dickinson College. During this time he also regularly
> briefed senior commanders in the armed services as well as the Office of Net
> Assessments, SHAPE <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHAPE> Technical Center,
> the U.S. Army War College<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Army_War_College>,
> National Defense University and the RAND Corporation<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAND_Corporation> on
> security and national defense matters.
> 3) i disagree with your speculation about there having not been enough time
> yet for a revolution to pick up momentum.   i think the hope was that a
> movement would quickly spread to other groups than mousavi's meager base of
> support in the wake of the election.     i think the hope was to oust
> ahmadinejad with a minimal investment of CIA funds because there are no
> other viable options.  as in past orchestrated coups like the '53, these
> things have to happen quick.   they were hoping the "secret letter" which
> could easily turn out to be fake from secretary of the interior claiming was
> mousavi won would sway ahmadinejad's supporters and the protests would
> extend beyond tehran.    didn't happen.   protests are on the wane giving
> credence to mousavi's limited base.    ahmadenijad will consolidate power
> arguably stronger and has time to provide the smoking gun evidence on
> mousavi's links to the US and british.   the soft coup could backfire big
> time.
> http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14082
> if the plan had worked, obama's negotiations with mousavi would have given
> the foreign policy victory he needs given the dire uncertainty of the
> afghanistan campaign.    he almost has to capture bin laden to get victory
> there.     netanyahu is not going to stop settlements on the ground no
> matter what he entertains at the bargaining table.   north korea is on the
> brink of firing missile at hawaii.   in 2012, obama will be painted as suave
> but weak.   frankly, he has no focus.  the bush bad whines are the only
> focus he ever had.   the muslim world speech despite its appeal to our
> hearts puts obama in a difficult position where he may get nothing
> accomplished in the middle east.   his policy does not jive.    if he's so
> genuine, why did he say nothing about the gaza raid the most recent israeli
> excessive use of force prior to the speech. he's on an imperial crusade in
> afghanistan and is not pulling out of iraq in the way said he would before
> election.   hard to make believe your really sensitive to israeli atrocities
> when you remain silent during the gaza raid like a deer in the headlights.
> ground forces which are an imperial presence will not all be withdrawn.
>  many of the ones that will are getting a rest with their families before
> being redeployed to afghanistan to redirect the imperial presence in the
> region which undermines our foreign policy goals.
> i think obama is desperate.    he may not be able to prove any tangible
> result in afghanistan (his big brzezinski idea) before 2012 and he doesn't
> have the experience to lead on foreign policy where he is being bombarded by
> conflicting interests.    he needs a breakthrough.   the mousavi trick
> didn't work.   now, there aren't many options for iran.    negotiation
> definitely won't happen.    airstrikes on nuclear facilities won't knock out
> their capability.   iran is unlikely to provoke a war that US doesn't have
> the military capacity to fight.    overall, bad policy decision by obama to
> try the soft coup.   we are worse off with iran and ahmadinejad is laughing.
>   there is no focus to the obama foreign policy.     the afghan war is going
> to kill him on deficit spending.
> 4) there are many points of convergence between petras and friedman most
> notably their demographic explanation of ahmadinejad's base of support is
> almost identical.   their thesis is almost identical.   petras is more bold
> in his presentation claiming a hoax but friedman gives the same argument in
> defense of the hoax without calling it a hoax.   it will be interesting to
> see if petras gives more concessions to vote fraud as he follows up.
> ------------------------------
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