May 23, 2005


“As long President Bush stands with the Iranian people, the Iranian people will stand with him.” (Slater Bakhtavar, Persian Mirror)

The BBC world service website recently released the results of their 2004 presidential poll. Of the sixteen linguistic ethnical groups surveyed, Persians were overwhelmingly the most supportive of President Bush. In fact, over fifty two percent of Iranians preferred Republican George W. Bush to challenger John Kerry who’d received a minuscule forty two percent of the
vote. Thus, surprisingly, unlike in the United States where the presidential race was relegated to a couple of percentage points, in Iran - President Bush won by a landslide.

Numerous other sources of plausible acclaim have confirmed these results. Renowned intellectuals, as well as award-winning journalists have written pieces on this critical issue. For instance, Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times who spent an entire week in the country recently wrote, “Finally, I’ve found a pro-American country. Everywhere I’ve gone in Iran, with one exception, people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States, and often for President George W. Bush as well.” Thomas Friedman another Pulitzer Prize winner and ardent critic of the war in Iraq wrote “young Iranians are loving anything their government hates, such as Mr. Bush, and hating anything their government loves. Iran . . . is the ultimate red state.”

The well-documented emphatically pro-Bush leaning in Iran, which is relatively widespread, has perplexed many western technocrats. Part of the answer may be that Iran is changing at such a rapid rate that the media has had a difficult time reporting and/or understanding the situation inside the country. Also, Friedman may be right that “young Iranians are loving anything their government hates, such as Mr. Bush and hating anything their government loves”, but there are even deeper social as well as geopolitical reasons such as the availability of satellite dishes and the internet.

Millions of Iranian homes receive illegal satellite television beamed in by Iranian-American expatriates in California. With a mix of pop music, political discussion and international news these stations have had a profound impact on the cultural, and political situation inside of Iran. The Iranian dictatorship has repeatedly tried to crackdown on these dishes as well as the Internet, but they’ve been largely unsuccessful. Presently, it is estimated that between five to seven million homes receive satellite television and an estimated three million have Internet access. Hence, to the dissatisfaction of the reigning ayatollahs Iranians do not live in a closed off cave.

Due to the availability of satellite television, millions of Iranians were able to hear President Bush’s State of the Union speech. The Persians were once again encouraged by the President’s vision when he said “To the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America Stands with you.” thereby reiterating his support to the Iranian freedom fighters inside of the Islamic Republic. Several political analysts have confirmed that this was in direct reference to the pro-democracy movement in Iran.“ The President was sending a message to the people of Iran that if they rise up America will stand by their side,” said political analyst Charles Krauthammer.

Why not have the President go there and literally stand by their side?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2005 4:39 PM

Does that mean that Frank Rich won't do?

Posted by: Luciferous at May 23, 2005 5:05 PM

Why not have the President go there and literally stand by their side?

Traditional conceptions of sovereignty.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 23, 2005 5:45 PM

All he really needs to do is say a few words about freedom in Farsi, in a few different locales or in a couple of different speeches. Let the phrase take hold.

But be careful with the pronounciation.....

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 23, 2005 5:59 PM

Their sovereignty is dependent on our approval.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2005 6:32 PM

No, it's dependent upon our restraint. We disaprove of lots of countries who carry on regardless.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 23, 2005 6:59 PM

Until we decide they shouldn't.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2005 7:08 PM


Posted by: David Cohen at May 23, 2005 7:34 PM

Ich bin ein falafel.

Posted by: at May 23, 2005 7:46 PM

An Iranian friend who visited the country recently told me that the society is utterly corrupt and that people are frustrated and angry. However, although people talk endlessly about how much they hate the regime, he doesn't believe most are prepared to do anything about it. He said one problem is that under the mullahs, Iran is a man's world: At home, if not outside it, men are treated like kings. Their word is law. Their womenfolk have nothing to do but cook and clean and bear children for them. It is easy for men to take multiple wives, or take prostitutes as temporary wives (Islamic law allows this). My friend said he simply doesn't think that, when it comes to the crunch, most Iranian men want to give all this up...

Posted by: Liz at May 23, 2005 8:01 PM

Liz, if it true that it is easy for men to take multiple wives in Iran, that would mean that there are a lot of men without wives.
That should mean there is a lot of disgruntled men.

Posted by: Bartelson at May 23, 2005 8:30 PM

they lost a lot of males in the iraq-iran war.

Posted by: cjm at May 23, 2005 10:15 PM

My Iranian in-law agrees with everything in Liz's comment except the last sentence. He explains that there is a class of men who have become insanely rich over the last 20 years who take multiple wives but that the majority of Iranian men can't and won't be able to afford to do so. They want better jobs, better educations and less corruption. He told me that the amount of bribery needed to get any kind of permit to build or sell or do anything is crushing and the level of corruption would be difficult to overestimate. Finally, he said he didn't think anything would change soon and that it might take a generation for it to change. It makes you wonder why liberals (like my bro-in-law) find it preferrable to let their people suffer for decades rather than support radical steps that would bring freedom with less security.

Posted by: Pat H at May 23, 2005 11:22 PM

The US doesn't make that decision enough.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 23, 2005 11:37 PM

Condi made a very strong statement of solidarity today

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 24, 2005 12:48 AM