I say hopeful because, if there are further events to discuss, they will not be good for Iran.
I want to be clear up front that I am in favor of change in Iran and think there are policies of Iran's government that are wrong both morally in respect to its citizens and also in practical terms as in they prevent Iran from being as powerful as I'd like it to be.
I am not a regime supporter on the basis of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
But it seems plausible to me that Ahmadinejad won. The reports of the three million votes came with the explanation that they were the result of people voting away from their home district, which seems plausible in a very-high turnout election. I think it is possible that Ahmadinejad won the debates, despite the effect they had of turning those who oppose Ahmadinejad further against him, and Rafsanjani's letter against him may have made the aftermath of the debates more favorable to him still.
So there are protesters against Ahmadinejad and in favor of Mousavi. Walter Mondale lost a landslide election to Ronald Reagan in the United States in 1984. There was a large number of people who supported Mondale, enough to cripple the country if they organized together to do so. That did not mean they were the majority. I do not believe Mousavi supporters or protesters are the majority of the country.
The reports of Mousavi's claims of irregularities seem unconvincing to me. In his public complaint to the Guardian Council he did not claim that none of the votes were counted or that all local-based counting was suspended and even if he doesn't trust the Guardian Council, that was a place to give his best explanation of what exactly he believes went wrong with the election, why he does not trust it.
I feel that Mousavi is acting very irresponsibly, and that Mondale, in similar circumstances could have acted the same and gotten his supporters, especially his core supporters worked up enough that they would risk their lives, essentially for nothing, but Mondale could claim it is for fundamental change in the government or society or something.
If Mondale did that, I would wonder if he had some organized outside backing, but in Mousavi's case it could well be that his only backing is Rafsanjani and that faction, or it could well be that it is Mousavi's own ego driving this. Or it is possible, I don't claim and don't necessarily believe that it is driven by the US or Western influences. But there are signs that Mousavi's tactics are similar to tactics of previous US-sponsored revolutions. But that could be coincidence. I don't think there is necessarily the connection.
But by design or accident, Mousavi's actions from the day of the vote until today have been exactly what the US would have ordered to get the most possible destabilization of Iran out of the election. There is nothing a party interested in harming Iran could have asked Mousavi to do that Mousavi has not done. There are many things Mousavi could have done, if he was primarily motivated by a genuine concern that there had been electoral fraud that he has not done. In my opinion, Mousavi has joined the Shah and Sadat as great betrayers of the interests of their people. Hopefully, unlike the Shah and Sadat, the damage Mousavi does will be contained.
I thought Mondale's supporters were right, and Reagan was a bad guy. I think Mousavi's supporters have a lot of valid criticisms of Iran's government.
I think Iran's government takes enough input a wide enough swathe of Iranian society that it is capable of change internally, and I do not see indications that Mousavi is more committed to the democratic process than Khomeini was. Khomeini could have transformed Iran into a hereditary dictatorship with no restraints from an elected Assembly of Experts and no input from Iran's people and did not because he felt it would have been religiously wrong to do so. I don't know that I would have trusted Khomeini to do that, but I don't trust Mousavi to do that. I see a Musharraf or Mubarak scenario, of ad-hoc usurpations of power and indefinite suspensions of any limitations on his office as more probable than voluntarily imposing limits on himself under Mousavi if he ever attains power.
To Mondale and Mousavi supporters I say, the vote indicates that you really do not have the popular support to win an election, much less complete a revolution.
Does Iran have a consensus behind a "go west" strategy as opposed to a "go east" strategy? No. If it did, Iran would go west. There is also no national consensus around relaxing religious restrictions, which I think is wrong but Iranians have to be convinced, and I'm sure the pro-Mousavi protests are not the way to convince them.
There is a consensus around reducing corruption, but Ahmadinejad and Mousavi both say they support that. Iran could easily believe Ahmadinejad, the one who carries his lunch from home to work and who very bravely named Rafsanjani by name, saying what a lot of people already knew but wouldn't say in public, is the best candidate to fight corruption.
By my understanding a major motivation behind Rafsanjani's support for a go west strategy is that he would benefit from it personally.
So those are my views on Iran's election and the situation today. I don't see a point in further protests. I expect a general strike to fizzle out, if it is really launched. I mourn all of the deaths. I wish they had not happened and consider them naive sacrifices to either Mousavi's ego or the forces behind Mousavi that I do not consider good, if they are the Western conspiracies or Rafsanjani.