Monday, June 29, 2009


Hilzoy: More Puzzlement

Daniel Larison says a(nother) wise thing (h/t):

"Americanists believe that any statement from the President that fails to build up and anoint Mousavi as the preferred candidate is discouraging to Mousavi and his supporters, because they apparently cannot grasp that being our preferred candidate is to be tainted with suspicion of disloyalty to the nation. It is strange how nationalists often have the least awareness of the importance of the nationalism of another people. Many of the same silly people who couldn't say enough about Hamas' so-called "endorsement" of Obama as somehow indicative of his Israel policy views, as well as those who could not shut up about his warm reception in Europe, do not see how an American endorsement of a candidate in another country's election might be viewed with similiar and perhaps even greater distaste by the people in that country."

Indeed. And a lot of those same people thought that Iraqis would adore us because we had overthrown Saddam Hussein, apparently without thinking: however much they hated him, it's deeply humiliating to have someone else overthrow your dictator and occupy our country. And so, in all likelihood, however happy Iraqis might be at first, we should expect that not to last: inevitably, soldiers in an alien country make mistakes and kill or detain the wrong people, call in airstrikes on people who are doing nothing wrong, etc.; and when that happens, our welcome, however warm initially, will very quickly turn to resentment.

National pride is a powerful thing, and a completely comprehensible one. Why the very people who will brook no criticism of their own country, even when it's fully justified, should fail to understand this is a mystery.

C&L: Has There Been a Military Coup in Iran by the Revolutionary Guard in Iran?

Wolf Blitzer asks Fareed Zakaria if he agrees with former CIA agent Bob Baer's assessment that there has been a military coup by the revolutionary guard in Iran. Zakaria is not as willing to use the word coup, but does feel that there is some conflict between the clerics in Iran.

As Zakaria points out, the dynamics of those conflicts and the ease with which they can be blamed on American interference is exactly why it was wise for the Obama administration to be cautious with their rhetoric.

BLITZER: One Middle East expert says what we're seeing unfold in Iran right now isn't just a government crackdown, but an actual coup by the country's elite revolutionary guard.

ZAKARIA: Do you think it's pretty clear that the government has the ability to really consolidate power and crackdown on this?

BAER: Fareed, I'm quite sure there's been a military coup d'etat by the Islamic revolutionary corp in Tehran. They're taken over. And the fact that the Basij came out so quickly. They could have only done that on orders from the IRGC. The fact that Ahmadinejad's a former IRGC officer, he has the backing of senior officers. I think what we've seen is a military coup against the old clerical establishment.

BLITZER: Let's bring in Fareed Zakaria to join us now. Fareed, what do you think? You are an authority on this subject?

ZAKARIA: I think that Bob Baer is on to something. I'm not sure I would use the word coup, you know, that strongly, but there is no question what we're witnessing in Iran is the displacement of the old clerical establishment and the rise to power of some new clerics, but mostly a group of people who have much closer ties to the military, to the intelligence organizations, to the police, and to the Basij. So what you're seeing is a kind of consolidation of a pure military dictatorship, losing the trappings of the Islam and the ideology as much.

And by the way, this is very much part of Ahmadinejad's strategy when he is now attacking America. It is an attempt to consolidate power and to move beyond the debate about what's going on in Iran.

BLITZER: Can millions of Iranians, especially young people, women, intellectuals, university students, can they though be brutally suppressed given what's happened over these past last few weeks?

ZAKARIA: Unfortunately, the answer's probably yes. You know, usually people -- the people with guns and money win in the short run. And the Iranian regime has lots of guns and lots of money because of the oil. There is, however, a huge ideology crack in the regime. And that ideological crack is very, very important. And it may be fatal in the long run.

But what the regime now has to try do is to use brute force to win in the short run, and to try to drum up a new ideology. That's why Ahmadinejad is trying to pick on America. That's why he's accusing us interfering. And by the way, that is precisely why President Obama has been very wise in trying to be a little bit cautious, stay out of this fight, not get entangled into it. It powerfully helps Ahmadinejad to be able to turn this into a U.S. versus Iran, tit for tat. Look at what's happening right now. We've stopped talking about Mousavi and we're talking about Obama and Ahmadinejad. That's exactly what Ahmadinejad wants.

BLITZER: One of your reporters, Fareed, from "Newsweek" magazine has been picked up, arrested, or I don't know if anyone's been in touch with him. But give us the latest - tell us what's going on, because I know you're working as hard as you can and your colleagues are to get him out.

ZAKARIA: It's a very troubling situation, Wolf. He's one of 23 at least journalists who have been picked up, arrested ...

No comments:

Post a Comment