Protests Turn Violent in Iran

Monday, December 28, AD 2009

(Updates at the bottom of this posting below)

Peaceful protests turned violent as Iranian authorities have authorized deadly force.  Thus far there are fifteen (15) reportedly killed in Tehran and four (4) in Tabriz. 

More details have filtered in that some Iranian policemen have refused to fire on the protesters.  The hated Basiji Militia headquarters is up in flames and more reports of unconfirmed deaths from all over the country of Iran are pouring in view various media outlets.

Among those killed is the nephew of Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leader of the burgeoning opposition as well as the leading vote getter in the last election which was hijacked by the clerical ruling class.  Ali Habibi Moussavi, the nephew, was shot in the chest and died at the hospital.  Details are still sketchy.

The Islamic Iranian regime has barred all journalists, but pictures and footage have confirmed large demonstrations nationwide that have not been intimidated by the use of violent force.

Some showed huge crowds chanting slogans attacking President Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

President Obama has failed to respond to the growing violence in Iran outside of a standard White House response from Washington of a bland condemnation of “violence”.  His hesitancy has betrayed many in the Iranian opposition to the point that if there is a regime change the opportunity to build again good relations with Iran diminishes each day as our president dawdles away in his luxurious resort home in Hawaii.

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4 Responses to Protests Turn Violent in Iran

Free Iran

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

In the proud tradition of news photos of beautiful women protesting against political oppression, the Boston Globe provides a series of photos of the protests over Iran’s apparently rigged presidential election, but the first is this one:

Free_Iran
(In all seriousness, this is some of the best photo journalism I’ve seen in a long time, go check it out.)

There’s some reasonable dispute as to whether it would help or hurt the protestors for the Obama Administration to break silence on the issue and speak in support of the protestors. Given Iran’s history and the fierce national pride across the political spectrum, if Obama openly supported the protestors it might give Ahmadinejad the ability to paint Mousavi’s supporters as stooges of the US. However, the US and the rest of the world should make it clear that a violent crackdown ala Tiananmen Square would be absolutely unacceptable.

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21 Responses to Free Iran

  • Yes, and China sure did pay the price for Tiananmen, right? Most favor nation trade status, billions upon billions in foreign investment, hosting the Olympics…

    Yeah, we don’t like to talk about China. But, the good news for Iran is that 75% of its population is under the age of 30 – plenty cheap, exploitable labor to get itself back into the world’s good graces if it wants. Like Chinese communism, Islamic theocracy can learn to play ball too.

  • Joe: You’re giving me whiplash. I went from disagreeing with you quite strongly in recent days to saying “Amen!” to what you expressed here. Thanks!

  • Trade between the U.S. and Iran has been largely illegal for the last 30 years. Are the Iranian people better off on account of this fact? It’s hard to see how. Would the Chinese people be better off if the U.S. had adopted a similar set of sanctions against China twenty years ago? Again, it’s hard to see how.

  • Blackadder: Your reasoning is consequential here, which seems problematic to me.

  • I think you mean consequentialist. I deny the charge. Consequentialism is not the view that consequences matter (something it would be insane to deny), but the view that *only* consequences matter. There’s nothing intrinsically evil about not having sanctions against China or Iran or whatever, and as such whether sanctions are a good or bad idea is going to turn on whether the overall consequences of those sanctions are good or bad.

  • The “turn” you describe is what make it consequentialist, I think, for precisely the same reasons you gave with a minor adjustment: consequentialists do not say that *only* consequences matter, as you say, but, instead, that consequences are *the* criterion by which we ought to judge things, especially morally relevant actions. So, by judging things as they “turn” on overall consequences, you seem to be making a consequentialist point, which, for reasons that should be obvious, I find problematic.

  • Sam,

    That’s like saying it’s consequentialist to tell someone to take an aspirin for their headache, since whether taking the aspirin is a good idea or not turns on whether it will help with your headache. It would be consequentialist to argue that we should use an immoral means to achieve a desirable end. There’s nothing consequentialist in arguing that we should use a morally indifferent means to achieve a desirable end. Nor is there anything consequentialist about saying we shouldn’t use a given means to achieve a desirable end because it won’t actually do so.

    What, exactly, is the point of sanctions if not to help the people of Iran? If sanctions don’t actually do that, then the sanctions would seem to be pretty pointless, no?

  • I think this could lead to a clearer understanding of what my general problem is with what I see as consequential, instrumentalist reasoning (and the problems with that reasoning, perhaps). I promise to resume this one tomorrow.

    Peace.

  • Interesting stuff viewing those photos. I have vivid memories of similar scenes 30 years ago. A generation of young rising up to shrug off a regime that was by regional standards fairly lenient and Western influenced (for better or worse) and establish an anti- West (especially US) and oppressive regime. Thirty years later their children are attempting to shrug off the stifling regime in favor of some degree of liberty and one with (at least) a not-so-anti-Western flavor. Interesting, really.

    I agree too that Obama should be prudent in any vocal support. Better at this crucial time to do a Reagan/JPII and work through back channels to facilitate communication to and among the populace.

  • The mass protests today were organized on twitter. The mullahs apparently forgot to shut that down as they did Facebook. Those protesters in the street are the future of Iran, and I would not bet against them toppling the mullahs.

  • I think Blackadder makes a good point that at a certain point tools such as sanctions should only be used if they are effective. I am one who sees a place for retributive justice, but it has its limits and I’m not even sure it’s appropriate when dealing with groups (such as nations) rather than individuals.

    It did upset me at the time that Bush didn’t call on the Chinese government to avoid violence against the protesters back in 1989, and that there was basically no effort to distance ourselves from them afterwards. But at the same time, I have to admit that in many ways the openness to trade in the twenty years since has achieved more in getting the regime there to loosen strictures on most Chinese citizens than long term sanctions would have.

    I would like to think that there is a right balance to hit, where countries threaten disapproval of wrong actions and imposed sanctions at times because of bad behavior, but don’t let things stretch on endlessly (as with Cuba.)

    Frankly, one of the things I like about “neo-conservatism” rather than the realism of a Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft (both of whose mantles the current administration was eager to assume) is that I think the neo-cons tended to assert that one should at least denounce bad regimes and seek to support good ones. (Queue someone saying that talking about “good” and “bad” regimes is dualistic…)

  • Those protesters in the street are the future of Iran, and I would not bet against them toppling the mullahs.

    I would like to think that this will happen and that the current situation will have a storybook ending (I’m a red blooded American and hence incapable of not rooting for the protesters and wishing they would kick the mullahs out on their asses), but I’m pessimistic. Typically repressive regimes either collapse under their own weight, or they are overthrown by force. The fall of the Communist regimes twenty years ago was an example of the former type. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not really getting that vibe from the mullahs.

    So that leaves option two, violent overthrow; which is all well and good, except that the people in Iran with all the weapons aren’t exactly the ones you’d want replacing the mullahs. Here, for example, is a brief analysis of the possibility of overthrow at The Corner by Michael Rubin. He says that “the key isn’t how many people are out on the street, but whether the security forces and, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, switch sides.” Am I the only one who finds that a terrifying sentence? A takeover by the Revolutionary Guard doesn’t strike me as being something to hope for. If you think nothing could be worse than the mullahs, I’d say you lack imagination. Most revolutions start with people in the streets chanting about freedom. That’s how the revolution that brought the mullahs to power started. Most of the time they end up in a much darker place.

  • “That’s how the revolution that brought the mullahs to power started. Most of the time they end up in a much darker place.”

    The historical record is mixed Blackadder. The Polish Revolution led by Solidarity led the people of Poland to a much brighter place. The 1916 Easter Rebellion, a completely hopeless and quixotic adventure, ultimately led to independence for most of Ireland. I imagine most Tories at the time of the American Revolution thought the country was ruled by mobs and was on a path to anarchy, but they were completely wrong. Rebellions and revolutions can lead to people being worse off, and they can also lead to the people being better off. If I were an Iranian I would certainly be willing to roll the dice in the hopes that something better would result.

  • Reagan didn’t just work backchannels, nor did JP II. Both spoke up loudly in support of individuals and organisations standing up for their legitimate rights.

    In this case any active participation is ill advised, but at least the moral support of the US would be of great assistance. They are asking for our support… instead of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”… we hear…. “” from the “One” who stands for change.

    There are several interesting points here. The conventional armed forces is of course the most powerful military force, but they are not acting, they almost certainly would join the protesters if it seemed likely to succeed, and/or the security forces began mass killings. The Republican Guard are loyal to the regime, but probably don’t have a taste for slaughtering their own people. The real danger is the thousands of Arabs (probably Hezbollah) that have been brought in, they have no love for the people of Iran, and no compunction about killing innocent men, women and children.

    Seriously, this is an issue that should bring all elements of the spectrum together. Toppling of the Mullahs would be good for the Iranians, the region, and US interests.

  • The historical record is mixed Blackadder. The Polish Revolution led by Solidarity led the people of Poland to a much brighter place. The 1916 Easter Rebellion, a completely hopeless and quixotic adventure, ultimately led to independence for most of Ireland.

    Those are cases where the ruling power capitulated. As I said, I don’t see the mullahs just giving up. Do you?

    I imagine most Tories at the time of the American Revolution thought the country was ruled by mobs and was on a path to anarchy, but they were completely wrong.

    The American Revolution is a somewhat different case, since the goal was not regime change but independence (the same is true, of course, of the Irish example). I would note that the Americans almost did end up with a military dictatorship, and that it was only avoided because George Washington happened to be a man of exceptional character. I somehow doubt the same can be said of the members of the Revolutionary Guard.

    I hope you’re right, though.

  • I agree with Joe here.

    Communist China gets off way too easy.

    I still abhor their human rights violations. No matter how ‘capitalistic’ they look, they still are a totalitarian regime.

    They kidnap businessmen to resolve bad business debts, suppress opposition in the Church, and still occupy foreign territory, ie, Tibet.

  • My attitude towards the PRC is indicated by the fact that I still prefer to refer to it as Red China.

  • Blackadder: I’m back for some more. Let’s pick up when you wrote:

    “That’s like saying it’s consequentialist to tell someone to take an aspirin for their headache, since whether taking the aspirin is a good idea or not turns on whether it will help with your headache.”

    This will depend on whether we understand sanctions (which includes non-sanctions) and other things as justifiable in the way that aspirin is justifiable. Medicine like aspirin seems pretty different than the valuation of the scenario according to the anticipated effects. I know it seems weird, but, as I see it, policies in general ought to be guided by a sense of what it is intrinsically for, not the mere consequences.

  • Sam,

    That would lead to the question, though: Are sanctions (or the lack of them) or formal denunciations) or the lack, for any intrinsic purpose other than reducing repression and helping the citizens of the target nation?

  • Speaking of China, Falun Gong has excellent news coverage, Epoch Times for whatever one thinks of them.

    What a sea of humanity: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/18205/

    I really feel bad for them.

  • Well, apparently Obama thinks North Korea is to be stopped at all costs: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/americas/8103807.stm

9 Responses to A Coup in Iran?

  • This could be a very dangerous situation very quickly. Serious civil unrest in a nation that has been racing to get the bomb is a frightening combination. Meanwhile the lunatics running North Korea are warning of nuclear war.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090614/D98QDSOO0.html

  • Good comments Donald:

    AND, I don’t really get into listening to the alarmists:

    But, North Korea building a bomb, being defiant, an alarmist type on Michael Savage’s show said they could “market” the bomb according to one guest… this same guest appeared on Relevant Radio. I think it is alarmist but it might still be a possibility.

    I believe listening to a Dennis Prager rerun show, another guest was saying if Israel hit Iran’s facilities, they may well do “Commando Raids.”

    Bleak stuff, like seeing Drudge this morning, “threatening nuclear war”, I just don’t know.

    But I would think, if there were someone that would be nervous about N. Korea’s weapons, it’d be Japan, since Japan acted real ugly in WWII and in fact, is the only nation to suffer the nuclear bomb. Or maybe we the USA is the great Satan, seeing how NK is allied with Iran it seems.

    The 3rd loose cannon is Pakistan, if things ever happened fast, that government could fall too. However, India is there ancient rival.

    I really, really feel sympathy for the Iranian people. I think they are largely good people because they have shown some “Western” inclinations in the past. So, God help us, anyone getting killed in Iran or rioting I think largely are those who want a more moderate state.

    There is 1 movie out there worth watching, “Off side” and it is about 5 young women in individual ways, try to get in to see a game with the National Football game of Iran in a world cup qualifier It’s a bit of a comedy, made in Iran and banned in Iran. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499537/ It’s an interesting take.

    I didn’t mean the long post but comments are welcome.

    And Obama said they were having a “vibrant debate”, rolls eyes!

  • Tom, a large portion of the Iranian people have been fed up with the mullahs and their crazy President for quite some time. This obviously rigged election might be the thing that causes the whole country to blow up. The mullahs will not go quietly however, and I would not put anything beyond them in their quest to hang on to power at all costs. In regard to North Korea, a nervous Japan could go nuclear overnight. The South Koreans of course have the greatest reason to feel alarm. Seoul is so close to the border that even a crude missile carrying a nuke could take it out in a matter of minutes. This could be a very turbulent summer for the world.

  • I’d been expecting this sort of thing ever since the prelim reports had someone besides the messianic midget winning.

    Praying for ’em. All I can do, I fear…..

  • I don’t see how this can be defined as a coup. The Mullahs were in charge last week, they’re in charge now and will be next week.

    The Mullahs have simply been forced to bring out in the open the fact that Iran is not a democracy. This isn’t the first time this has been the case, though they prefer to keep this fact quiet enough to allow liberals some cover.

    Frankly, I applaud what the counter-revolutionaries are doing right now in Iran, I hope this can take hold and that there would be a coup.

    Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are a cause of concern, but there are plans and mechanisms in place to ensure they are secured, deactivated, and/or destroyed in the event of political instability. Remember, unlike Iran, Pakistan’s military is not run by fanatical Islamic fascists. THey do not want their country destroyed, as it surely would be if there was a risk of it’s weapons falling into the hands of fanatical Islamic fascists.

    The threat to South Korea is not just nuclear. The DPRK has thousands of conventional artillery tubes pointed at Seoul, if

  • See this excellent roundup by Michael Totten — it would also appear ‘The Mullahs’ aren’t as cohesive a religious unit as one might suppose.

  • A country has an election. The outcome is not what you would like it to be; therefore, there had to be election fraud.

    Just continue on with the Weekly Standard neocon blather.

  • awakaman,

    dig a little deeper than that.

    Frankly, I don’t think it matters who got elected, the Mullahs run that country…. what matters is the response of the people who’ve had their legitimate aspirations of self-governance dashed once again. It looks promising, but I don’t have my hopes up just yet.

  • “A country has an election. The outcome is not what you would like it to be; therefore, there had to be election fraud.

    Just continue on with the Weekly Standard neocon blather.”

    Yep, all those Iranians out in the streets protesting and rioting over the fixed election must be neo-cons!

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSEVA14340720090614?sp=true