Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: iran

Iranian soccer players banned for life

On the subject of risks undertaken by dissenting Iranians the other day, I wrote:

If these protests fail, the people who are identified as having participated are likely to be discriminated against in every way possible until some other effort to change the regime succeeds.

Today I read that the Iranian soccer players who expressed solidarity with the protesters have been banned for life.

On the Iranian protests

Like many, I’ve been obsessively following the news out of Iran since the elections last Friday. What I haven’t done is cheer on the protesters in Iran.

First, let me say that I wish for Iranians what I wish for everyone — a government that is accountable to the people and that protects the rights of all its citizens. And I hope that they can put a decent, democratic government in place with as little bloodshed as possible. Regardless of whether or not the election was rigged, the actions of the Iranian government since the election have been those of the authoritarian dictatorship. The Iranian government lacks the legitimacy in the eyes of its people to conduct a fair election, and that’s true regardless of the real vote totals, which are unlikely to ever be known.

But here’s the thing. Nobody who’s not in Iran can ask a single thing of the protesters in Iran. I have difficulty even offering them encouragement. In 1953, the Shah of Iran was kept in power by a military coup openly backed by the United States and United Kingdom. In 1979, Iran became an Islamic Republic by way of a popular revolution. The chaos that followed led to the Iraq to invade Iran — leading to a war that lasted most of the eighties and resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Iranians. The United States openly backed the Iraqis in that war. And now, thirty years after the revolution that led to the Islamic Republic, Iran is in the same place as it was in 1978, with an authoritarian leader attempting to put down a popular uprising through the use of violence and brutality.

Every Iranian has to make a personal choice about whether or not they’re going to take to the streets to demand a better government. They must know the real risk being beaten, arrested, disappeared, or killed. If these protests fail, the people who are identified as having participated are likely to be discriminated against in every way possible until some other effort to change the regime succeeds. What right do I, or any non-Iranian, have to encourage people to take such risks? The Iranians who did so in 1978 must surely look back now and see that that the revolution was a failure in terms of improving the lives of their fellow countrymen. Today’s government is as bad as the government they deposed back then. There’s no guarantee that the next government will be any better.

The only question left is which side will blink. Either the government will lose so much support that it can’t sustain itself, or it will commit enough barbaric acts to stop the protests. The only thing we can do is promise to watch what happens and to remember.

The twentieth anniversary of the brutal crackdown on the Tienanmen Square protests passed just two weeks ago. The Communist Party is still in charge in China, and last year they played hosts to the world in the Summer Olympics. That’s what the support of Americans amounted to then.

So I hope for the best for the Iranian people, and I deeply respect the risks that everyday Iranians are taking in an effort to change their country for the better. But I also understand that it’s all about them, not about us.

Disinformation on Twitter

The Iranian government (or its supporters) are starting to use Twitter to spread disinformation. ABC News reports on a Twitter user who is retweeting items from their correspondent that he didn’t write. Marc Ambinder’s suggestion that people think like a CIA analyst is worth remembering.

The rigged Iranian election

The question the world is asking today is, “Was the election result in Iran legitimate?” Juan Cole has a list of reasons why we should question the results that bears paying close attention to. And the conduct of the Iranian government in the immediate aftermath certainly doesn’t inspire confidence that they have nothing to hide.

We all knew before their election that in the end, the ayatollah is the one who’s really in charge. It remains to be seen whether the Iranian people are going to do something about that.

Links from March 18th

  • The senselessness of war: A World War II German fighter pilot just learned that he shot down and killed his favorite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who wrote The Little Prince.
  • Dave Shea on Mediatyping. Presenting the right markup for the user’s device.
  • John McCain seems to have run into the Shiite/Sunni confusion that plagues so many politicians. There’s not really much room for confusion here, and you’d think the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services committee would have this down pat by now. This wasn’t a gaffe by the way, it betrayed a fundamental lack of understanding of the situation in Iraq and in the Middle East. I really want the person who gets “the call” at 3 a.m. to know that al-Qaeda is a group of radical Sunnis who are at war with the Shiite militias in Iraq that Iran supports. Heck, it would be nice if they knew that al-Qaeda in Iraq is not even formally affiliated with the al-Qaeda that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

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