Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mousavi's statement to the West and the West's statements on behalf of Mousavi

Mousavi, in the form of an interview with Green movement website, has released an eloquent statement about his goals, principles and visions for a reform movement in Iran. It is the type of speech John McCain could give after he lost the election. Parts of the speech are general things nobody could disagree with, parts are his positions expressed in the most noble ways possible. But he made the same declarations and arguments before the election, and most people in Iran did not vote for him.

I'm sure his speech is very moving to two groups of people: the significant minority of Iranians who support his positions, including the smaller group that supports him and his movement despite its still unsupported claims of massive election fraud; and Westerners such as Juan Cole, Gary Sick and Richard Haass who are so eager to escape from the conclusion that the Iran that they recognize cannot be deterred militarily or through sanctions can actually withstand US pressure that it accept Israel despite the fact that the majority of its citizens do not consider Israel legitimate that they are willing to waive any requirement for evidence that Mousavi, whom they consider more palatable, somehow must come to lead Iran.

The two groups of people Mousavi is able to reach with his speeches are nearly and increasingly irrelevant to Iranian politics. Mousavi is not a particularly talented politician. There is a huge elephant in the room - meaning there is an important topic that everybody is thinking of but too polite to mention if he doesn't first - Mousavi claimed to have solid evidence of election fraud, and on that basis called for his supporters to take to the streets. Mousavi cannot now just forget he said that and talk about all of his visions for Iran and criticisms against the current regime that are the same as those he leveled before election day.

A better politician than Mousavi would say "I really believed we would get evidence of fraud, and we have not. Ahmadinejad got more votes than I did and now it is my and our job to explain to the people of Iran that there is a better way." If Mousavi has secret evidence that he has not yet released, and he doesn't, but just for argument's sake, then that has to be the lead in any prepared communication. He either has to convince the Iranian people that he was right about fraud, or concede and move on, or he moves further into the margins of Iranian politics.

The simple fact of the matter is that not only is there no compelling argument that fraud occurred, there has never been presented even a plausible explanation of how a massive fraud that reversed the election result could have happened that is consistent with the uncontested facts known about how the election was carried out. For Mousavi to act as if he can move onto other subjects (the same subjects he raised during the debates) before his charges are resolved makes him seem detached from reality.

People who unquestionably support Mousavi will be impressed by his speech. Those who have some skepticism of his claims, and this by now includes the Iranian mainstream, will see him ineptly pushing himself away from regular common sense.
The evolution of the Islamic Revolution has not come to an end yet. What is of particular interest is that following the elections and subsequent actions (of the authorities), the Islamic revolution is once again being threatened with difficulties (challenges).

Some of these challenges are very useful, particularly for the new generation, in whom the essential fervor of the Green Movement is found. The true achievement of the Islamic Revolution is the struggle against a return to dictatorship and the resistance of the people on this path.
Mousavi can use the term dictatorship, and people who believe that on faith will accept his term, but if Mousavi had gotten more votes, he'd be the dictator now. Before he makes this statement, he really has to do something to acknowledge the idea that maybe he is not as popular as his opponent in the election. Either accept it or disprove it, but to leave it hanging makes him seem unable to relate to the rest of the world.
In the Green Movement, each Citizen is an independent media and we have no representatives or spokesperson outside the country. I do not blog and my personal viewpoints are published only in a handful of sites and media and are always signed.
People outside of Iran have claimed to speak for the Green movement ever since the election, in ways that would have been damaging to the movement's credibility, except that the key determinant of the movement's credibility, the truth of its foundational claim that the election was fraudulent hasn't been supported anyway.

But the Voice of America now has US Vice President Joe Biden speaking on behalf of the Green movement.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Iran's leaders are "sowing the seeds of their own destruction" by continuing a crackdown on the Iranian opposition.

Biden said Tuesday the Iranian leadership's use of force to put down opposition protests has cost it moral credibility within Iran and around the region. He was speaking in an interview with a U.S. television network.

Biden also said Washington is moving toward imposing sanctions on Iran's government.
The Green movement right now is just a wreck. It can draw from the about ten percent of the country who do not believe the elections were fair to protests, but they are only going to further alienate the vast majority of the country that has not been convinced.

I would also note that with Western supporters of the Green movement also the ones most susceptible to Israeli pressure to impose sanctions on Iran under any pretext possible, statements by Mousavi blaming sanctions on Iran's current government, despite the fact that sanctions were not relaxed under Khatami and that if Mousavi is being honest about aiming for an independent Iran, then he would not make the policy changes the US demands to avoid increasing sanctions, present the Green movement as aligned in interest with Israel and foreigners who would prefer Iran to be a pro-US colonial dictatorship like Egypt.
All of us have come to the battlefield for reforms and seek no revenge, no power and no destruction. Those in power are today responsible for our national backwardness, soaring inflation and unemployment and economic ruin. They continue to rule by populism and demagoguery. They are responsible for sanctions and their consequences. Fumbling efforts to restrict people to packaged slogans is an insult to them. Slogans have to be voluntary and self-motivated.
It is very poor politics for Mousavi to put his movement in a position where it appears to benefit or have its arguments strengthened by sanctions. But Mousavi is turning out not to be a naturally talented politician.

We can see the trajectory by now of Mousavi's green movement. There is a solid ceiling of how much support it can ever get, it can only draw from the ten percent of Iranians who do not believe Ahmadinejad won the election, at least until the Mousavi movement either distances itself from that claim or presents evidence to support it.

Hillary Clinton and the Americans are going to continue providing "a lot of support behind the scenes" for the movement. They will continue to hold demonstrations in which they will attack security forces. But the amount of support necessary to either disrupt normal societal functioning or challenge the stability of the regime will never materialize.

If the movement had a more talented leader, maybe it would be more significant. But if the movement had a more talented leader, maybe he would have actually won the election.


Anonymous said...

I stopped reading after this part:

"and most people in Iran did not vote for him."

lidia said...

And I stopped reading the anon after his last word :)

But, seriously, Iran does not look to me as divided as Ukraine was during its "colour rev" (now it seems that "oranges" in Ukraine lost), and I hope that Iranians are clever enough to see WHAT Serbians got for their "rev" (made by the same forses)- i.e. - more povery, virtual lost of their homeland and more violence.

Anonymous said...

Good closing comment, Arnold.

Did you see the live stream of the debate over the election at Race for Iran?

They provided hard data from 4 different polls, and all of it reflected the same result- before and after the election.

Dr. Ahmadinejad won the election, and a definite majority of Iranians support their system of government.

I personally voted green and accept the result.


Anonymous said...

re p's comment:

It is some of the same stuff as talked about it in MRZine. But more analysis is given. F.L. gave us a convincing talk as well.


Anonymous said...

Stop writing bulshit. All your articles smell like Basiji militia talking. Israel-China-Iran, Moussavi-Ahmadinejad.

I am happy that I did not hear you call Khamanei Agha.

Arnold Evans said...

You can disagree with what I write. I'm going to need you to be more civil in your language. Future anonymous comments containing words like bullshit directed at my writing will be deleted.

If you actually have a specific disagreement with something I've written. Maybe I've gotten a fact wrong or am not taking something you know into account, by all means let me and all readers of this blog know.