Friday, September 25, 2009

Vast majority of Iranians believe the elections were fair

Really, there just has never been a reasonable argument that the elections were fraudulent. If there had been the entire episode would have gone much differently - including possibly the removal of Khamenei by the Assembly of Experts.

I've talked about the lack of evidence of fraud before, and these results are completely expected in that light.

What is important now, is that the US community of Iran scholars seems nearly unanimous in its insistence that Iran's elections are fraudulent. It is funny at this point reading articles by Juan Cole, Roger Cohen or others that cannot discuss the election without the prefix "fraudulent".

You really get the feeling that they believe if they insist hard enough, their insistence itself can take the place of evidence.

The problem isn't that they are all convincing each other of how fraudulent the election must have been, since of course most Iranians share their contempt for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The problem is that this widespread and false impression the permeates their community can result in poorly informed US policy.

This poll might have helped bring the US community of Iran scholars back into reality, but unfortunately we see these scholars grasping at ways to maintain their beliefs despite any contrary evidence.

Juan Cole in his Salon article claims Ahmadinejad has around 60% support. I guess that is the most unfavorable reading possible of the poll. 80% of Iranians consider him the legitimate ruler of Iran. But 60% support is enough that Cole's early claims that the results themselves were proof of fraud are now conclusively false. If Ahmadinejad has 60% support then the presumptive conclusion in light of a 63% victory in an election would have to be that the election was honest. At least until proof otherwise becomes available.

Funnily, Cole actually tried to support his claim that the election was fraudulent recently by claiming that the votes were counted in 10 hours. 10 hours is not a fast amount of time for local polling locations to count fewer than 2000 votes each. Cole's assertion that it was a sign of fraud relies on the early rumors that people wearing black and riding bikes stole the ballots from the polling locations. Those rumors were not repeated in Mousavi's or any of the other candidate's contentions of election irregularity. The only plausible explanation is that the rumors were false. These rumors were spread so quickly, and were so well designed that they do point to outside pre-planning.

Gary Sick also provides humor in discussing a result that if the election was held today, 49% of voters would choose Ahmadinejad. He claims that this 49% number is what he expected and would have forced a run-off. Basic arithmetic would show that if 49% of people polled would choose Ahmadinejad, and a substantial number of people do not vote, then that 49% in this case translates to over 60% of actual voters and both reaffirms the results and argues against fraud just as all of the poll's other findings.

The problem is that this society of Ahmadinejad-haters - in convincing themselves that regardless of the vote count and more recently the polls, most Iranians must feel the disgust for Ahmadinejad that they do - are able to misguide US policy.

Iran is fairly well unified behind Ahmadinejad and the reformers, who never had been either pro-US or willing to make the changes the US would want in Iranian policy, are now as weak as they have ever been. They are nearly impotent as a factor in Iranian politics and I hope they are able to avoid hanging or prison.

The US Iran policy community seems to be awaiting the imminent and triumphant return of the reformist after which they will lead Iran in a popular capitulation to US Middle East desires. Just a crazy idea. I've read that any leader who gets better relations with the US will be a national hero. Crazy. The Shah is the opposite of a national hero.

I hope we are not headed towards disaster when the fantasies of the US' Iran policy community - which are fueled by a heavily distorted view of Ahmadinejad that is held by Israelis but not Iranians - meet reality.

If Obama's advisers are not able to accept that their views on Ahmadinejad - and therefore their views on the country that gives Ahmadinejad 80% legitimacy - are not universal truths but results from biases in their own analyises, it is very predictable that Obama's policies will end up harming the US.


Lysander said...

From the LA times today;

"A spokesman for Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is telling the "citizens of the world" and especially "the people and government of America" that the opposition shares international concerns about the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran."

I was in doubt about what happened in the election, but with each passing day a revelation emerges that the 'green revolution' is perfectly willing to betray its country.

Clearly Mussavi's audience can't be inside Iran. The man is shamelessly auditioning for the west to be Iran's Mubarak.

Arnold Evans said...

Ouch. Can I hope for Mousavi's sake that this report is either false or not connected to him?

The statement by Mohsen Makhmalbaf -- an Iranian film director -- goes as far as to say that any agreement signed with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's "coup-empowered illegitimate government" would not be honored by the opposition, known as the Green Movement. He added: "All such agreements will be subject to review in the future."

He's implying that if the West gives in and leaves Iran with a Japan option, he'll be willing to reverse that Western concession.

The mind boggles. Mousavi though is now just as important to Iranian politics as the Shah.

lidia said...

It is a pity that such talanted artist as Mohsen Makhmalbaf doing such things. Unfortunately, in USSR back then there were people like him. Now they are mostly hated by Russians, for being "traitors".

"US community of Iran scholars" is but a academic lackeys of USA imperialism. Some of them could be more or less against bombing iran during Bush rule, but with Obama they are even more eager to serve

Prof. Cole, by the way, was NOT against colonial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he just had some reservation, nothing prinicipal, of course

Jenny said...

Even if the election results did turn out for Ahmadinejad after all, I really don't think the torture and beatings that the protesters have suffered were justified. Unless you think it was all commited by CIA intelligence. Yes, the majority may've been middle class, but this article series provides some good explanation for why they were protesting:

Hint: some of it is about high unemployment.

lidia said...

jenny, are you still trying to whitewash types with "NO GAZA" slogans? Are they doing it because of high unemployment? Do they support USA imperialism and Zionism because of it? If so, they are even more stupid than I thought.

In Iraq there is NOT any support of Palestina NOW -after USA "liberation".But of course, they now do NOT have "torture and beatings" and high unemployment in Iraq, right?

By the way, from here are your info about "torure"? NOT from CIA?

Arnold Evans said...

Jenny - I oppose mistreatment of protesters. I've made the point though that John McCain could have gotten his supporters to do the same thing. And there would have been mistreatment of his supporters because they would have been working to overthrow the elected president of the United States.

I really blame Mousavi in this a lot more than I blame Ahmadinejad. Mousavi really should have waited and seen if real evidence of fraud came in. He had nearly 40,000 election observers. He knew very early that he did not have a reasonable case and pressed it in a way that was very irresponsible and actually contrary to the best interests of Iran. He should have stopped it.

Also thank you for the link. I hadn't seen that person I think I'll learn a lot from his articles.

Lidia - The protesters are doing what they think is best. Please don't be hostile or sarcastic when discussing their concerns.

You do raise a good point about Iraq though. I wanted Mousavi to win, and now I wonder if the Iranian people didn't see through him in a way that I didn't and thereby save their country from becoming Egypt, Jordan or seeing Mousavi become Iran's next Shah.

Dissidents against US allies - even in Iraq - are treated more harshly than dissidents against Iran today.

Jenny said...

Thank you and for the record, I think only Iran really knows what's going on as opposed to us in the U.S. There's a blog I read from time to tine written by a Iranian girl who voted Mousavi and according to her, the protests weren't about completely overthrowing the Iranian regime, they just wanted to ensure their votes were counted.

lidia said...

Arnold, I witnessed as my motherland (USSR) was turned into hell by some well-meaning idiots under leadership not unlike Iranian opposition's one (and linked to the Western imperialism as well)So I do have some reason for my harsh words.

Now, Jenny, please, look at Afghanistan's "elections" to see how the vote rigging looks and how USA and others supporters of Iranian "greens" react to REAL gross vote fraud, and maybe you will understand something.

For ex. "The final arbiter of the election result is a UN-backed panel, which includes two Afghans and three appointees from the US, Canada and the Netherlands—all countries with troops in Afghanistan. On Friday, the panel reversed its previous decision to order Afghan officials to audit and carry out recounts at all 3,063 polling stations where results were suspect. Instead, the panel said it will limit its review to a 10 percent sample, saying a broader recount could take months and put off any final decision until spring, leaving a power vacuum for the Taliban to fill"
( - the whole article is worth reading.

Jenny said...

All right,so we have two corrupt elections in two middle eastern countries, one under suspision of being a coup. However, that doesn't excuse the torture and oppression of those protesting in Iran, yes? And please don't condescend to me, I can be concerned about two different countries and their democracies, thank you very much.

Arnold Evans said...

Jenny, there's no evidence that Iran had corrupt elections. At this point you're being stupid.

Only a fringe of Iranians agrees with the proposition that the elections were stolen.

If McCain had called for escalating protests against the "stolen" elections, there would have been millions of people in the streets and those protests would have been put down forcefully. And there would have been abuses. And McCain's people would definitely be claiming there were more abuses than there actually were.

McCain would be in prison for doing less than Mousavi has done.

The villain, the person whose improper behavior resulted in dozens of deaths is Mousavi.

There is absolutely no comparison between Iran's elections and Afghanistan's. No comparison at all.

Jenny said...

All right, have it your way. I surrender.