June 24, 2005

A SQUANDER:

Hardline mayor wins Iran runoff (CNN, 6/24/05)

Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- a hard-line conservative who has said Iran should embrace the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution -- was declared the winner of Iran's presidential election early Saturday, garnering more than 61 percent of the votes, according to Iranian television.

Al-Alam, a 24-hour news network in Iran, said that according to the Interior Ministry, Ahmadinejad defeated former two-term President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The state-run IRNA news agency said Ahmadinejad -- a favorite of the working class -- captured more than 61 percent out of the 22 million ballots cast. Roughly 47 percent of the nearly 47 million eligible voters took part in the election, according to IRNA.


Reformists are right, of course, that so long as the Guardian Council can veto candidates and overrule legislation the nation isn't a liberal democracy, but the boycotts seem predictably counterproductive as they now have the worst of the three options in the presidency and no one to blame but themselves. On the other hand, a hard-liner does force the contradictions and delegitimize the regime even further.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 24, 2005 10:54 PM
Comments

Look its their country. If they don't want to legitimize the sysem by voting, we shouldn't second guess them. Iran is an enemy, but so is France. We have to deal with the problem. Both of the candidates were in the hip pocket of the mullahs and neither of them once seated would have the power to affect the course of events.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 24, 2005 11:30 PM

NPR considered his victory 'astounding.'

Not to me. I have predicted this right along.

Religion trumps all, and this is the shia democracy Orrin is always promoting.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 25, 2005 12:26 AM

Can you say "Nixon to China" backwards?

Posted by: ghostcat at June 25, 2005 1:02 AM

25 years of mullah propaganda and the people back a whack-job. Maybe, it is becoming North Korea without the dancing.

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 6:38 AM

Harry:

Shi'a democracy is going to elect Shi'a leaders, just like our Christian democracy elects Christian leaders. There's no reason they can't do as well as we.

But when reformists called for sitting out the elections they handed them to the hard-liners. When they saw that Moin had a chance to win they should have seized it and W should have stayed out.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 7:37 AM

Christianity in the US isn't only about butchering non-believers and enforcing religious orthodoxy through violent means. Shia Islam, like all Islam in power, is only about those things.

Americans don't elect clerics and never have. Only one, Garfield, has been President, and he had distinguished himself in other fields to make him a plausible candidate.

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 7:47 AM

Yes, we're a more mature nation, based on such a uniform Judeo-Christian orthodoxy that we needn't turn to clerics. The Shi'a have been oppressed for 14 centuries so are more boisterous for the moment. They're growing up though. And their revolutions have been models of restraint beside Western ones that attempt to impose new orthodoxies.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 7:57 AM

oj - The boycott isn't responsible for him winning. He probably came in 7th in the first round, but the mullahs re-counted the votes. No matter what the voters did, he would have won.

Posted by: pj at June 25, 2005 8:27 AM

bart spewed -- "Christianity in the US isn't only about butchering non-believers..."

bart, are you on crack? Christians in the U.S. have never been about butchering non-believers. They try very hard to convert them. They want to be free to educate their own children as Christians. But BUTCHER? Sheesh.

Posted by: Randall Voth at June 25, 2005 8:31 AM

pj:

It's not Florida.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 8:34 AM

We butchered plenty of Indians.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 9:12 AM

Judeo-Christian orthodoxy? If you draw up a heterodox enough orthodoxy I'm sure you can create an orthodoxy out of anything.

Randall,

It was a poorly drafted sentence, for which I apologize. What I meant to say was that American Christianity is not about butchering non-believers and using state power to enforce religious orthodoxy(the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the KKK and Fr. Coughlin are notable exceptions), while Islam in power is only about those things.

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 9:15 AM

Our butchery of Indians had little to do with their religious faith, as we had no trouble butchering the Civilized Tribes who were Protestant and many of the Plains tribes like the Nez Perce or the Apache who were Catholic.

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 9:17 AM

Just savages.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 9:36 AM

bart:

Yes, that's what the Shi'a are working on. It is precisely the universality and institutionalization that allows for the relaxation of rigidity. A state like America that is Founded on Judeo-Christian precepts and requires everyone to kowtow towards them need hardly enforce specific rituals and observances.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 9:37 AM

Precisely. The Shia are solely about butchering non-believers and enforcing religious orthodoxy. I'm glad to see we agree.

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 10:07 AM

The 'Judeo-Christian precepts' that you claim the US was founded upon differ little from the Rights of Man and Citizen of the French Revolution, and hardly require religious faith as a condition of citizenship. Again, if you draw up a broad enough heterodoxy, everything becomes orthodox.

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 10:10 AM

They differ exactly in that they require belief that they come from God, not men. All modern mischief came from the latter.

Posted by: at June 25, 2005 10:41 AM

So Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Richard Feynman don't count as good Americans to you?

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 10:51 AM

Not Asimov, no.

But Bradbury and Feynman were/are utterly conformist.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 12:10 PM

Sorry, OJ, but it's a lost cause. Iran will not reform without a revolution, though, if the clerics come to their senses, it need not be a particularly bloody revolution. As PJ says, there is no knowing how the actual voting went, or whether the boycott changed anything, but it is pretty difficult for us to knowledgeably second-guess the Iranians.

You have convinced me that, of the various Islamic sects, Shi'ism is most compatible with democracy. That is a much different thing from saying, as you now seem to say, that Shi'ism is inherently democratic, which is nuts. If I have to choose between Orrin Judd's opinion of Shi'ism or Ayotollah Khomeini's, I'll go with the longer, greyer beard.

You also seem to be arguing that the Shi'a, because historically oppressed, are likely to be benevolent rulers. That strikes me as both historically and psychologically obtuse. Isn't the more common and more human reaction to a sudden reversal of fortune, "Now we'll get ours back"? That's certainly one of the reasons that the masters always cling to power so tenaciously: they know what they deserve and expect it in spades.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 25, 2005 12:59 PM

No, I don't think they'll be particularly benevolent, nor should they be. To be a successful liberal democracy requires a high enough level of adherence to orthodoxy, as here, that the majority feels itself completely unthreatened.

An unbloody revolution is just normal evolution.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 1:17 PM

Perhaps Ahmadinejad will kill the Guardians. Perhaps they will kill him. Our job is to gaslight them both.

It is easy to blame the 'youth' for being cynical and not voting; happens here all the time. But we don't ever get a government that beats and kills people in the streets.

The problem is not a Shi'a problem - there are despots everywhere. Iran just happens to be in a strategic place, with historical grievances towards the US. Khamenei is really no different from Saddam or Mugabe or Kim Jong Il.

Iran is very sad place - the Persians I know here in the US almost all have a streak of depression in them, to one degree or another. Being here doesn't make it go away, because home has not really changed since 1979 (or earlier, for victims of the Shah).

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 25, 2005 4:31 PM

We had the deadliest Civil War in history.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 8:40 PM

Deadlier than Russia, Spain and China? I think not.

Posted by: bart at June 26, 2005 10:12 AM

Yes, far deadlier. You're confusing the relatively bloodless Russian and Chinese Civil Wars with the exterminations that followed the triumph of the Rationalists.

Posted by: oj at June 26, 2005 10:23 AM

Deadlier than Rwanda?

I think not.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at June 26, 2005 11:41 AM

Rwanda was just a good old-fashioned Darwinian genocide, not a Civil War.

Posted by: oj at June 26, 2005 11:46 AM

The Christian civil war in south China was two orders of magnitude more deadly than the US civil war, and they were contemporary.

The Christian civil war in Germany was at least one order of magnitude more deadly than the US civil war.

The Spanish Civil War killed around 1 million out of population of 25 million. The US Civil War 600,000 out of 35 million.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 26, 2005 1:20 PM

The Spanish Civil War was only a couple hundred thousand, even with modern armaments and intervention by outside powers.

There was no Germany

Hong Xiuquang probably does win the title, but wasn't Christian, by definition, and is the exception that proves the rule.

Posted by: oj at June 26, 2005 1:36 PM

What, pray tell, is the distinction between a Darwinian genocide (whatever that is) and a Civil War?

The Belgian preference of one tribal group over the other created the civil conflict.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at June 26, 2005 2:45 PM

As in most genocides, it wasn't a struggle over political control of the the country just a question of fitness.

Posted by: oj at June 26, 2005 3:22 PM

Do you mean in terms of preparation, the sharpness of the machetes, or just the general level of carnage?

I have always wondered why there wasn't more 'resistance'. Not everyone is going to have guns, but if someone charges my family with a machete (and I knew it was a possibility), I would certainly have a pikestaff of my own handy.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 26, 2005 11:56 PM

jim:

That's what we all say, but rather few resist when the time comes.

Posted by: oj at June 26, 2005 11:59 PM

OJ:

You need to read more history. The Belgians had awarded one group the franchise to lord it over the other.

Just the recipe for a civil war.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at June 27, 2005 6:38 AM

Tribe vs. tribe, simple Darwinism

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2005 7:49 AM

Jeff,

A little inexact. The Belgians merely ratified the existing social structure, not unlike the British did with the Princely States in India. The Tutsi, a bellicose, herding population, generally lorded it over the Hutu, a sedentary farming society since about 1500 CE, well before the Europeans ever showed up. It was similar to the situation in Gaul immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire where the herding and hunter/gatherer Franks installed themselves as an aristocracy over the Gallo-Roman sedentary peasantry.

Posted by: bart at June 27, 2005 8:27 AM

Bart:

Thank you very much for taking the time to set me straight.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at June 27, 2005 11:03 AM

There goes Orrin heresy hunting again.

Once the religious right suppresses all the interesting books and movies and plays, we'll still have heresy hunts, so life will not be totally without amusement.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 27, 2005 4:32 PM

Harry:

If you claim you're the savior you aren't Christian, are you?

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2005 4:53 PM
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