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Iran On The Brink

Tuesday, June 16, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The BBC’s John Leyne thinks today’s announcement from Iran’s Guardian Council about a recount is “just a political ruse to try and wrong-foot the opposition.” Leyne continues:

They have offered a recount, but they have not said who is going to carry it out. Maybe the same people who did the election count to start with.

In any case, the opposition says there were so many other irregularities, that a recount alone would not satisfy them. For example, many more ballot papers were issued than counted, they say. Some people did not get enough ballot papers so they could not vote in areas loyal to the opposition. Polling stations were closed early, and so on and so forth.

Michael Ledeen has studied and written about Iran’s mullahs and their deeply evil regime for decades. Don’t miss his analysis of where that regime finds itself today. Key graphs:

But the key element is the people. They are only just beginning to understand the reality of their situation. Virtually none of them imagined that they would be in a revolutionary confrontation with the regime just two days after the electoral circus, and few of them can realize, so soon, that they can actually change the world. I think the Mousavis now understand it (they know that they are either going to win or be destroyed). It remains to be seen if they can instruct and inspire the movement.

Much will depend on their ability to communicate. The regime has been waging a cyberwar against the dissidents, shutting down websites, cell phones, Facebook, and the like. As most people have learned, the basic communications tool is Twitter, which somehow continues to function. Bigtime Kudos to Twitter, by the way, for postponing its planned maintenance so that the Iranians can continue to Tweet. Would that Google were so solicitous of freedom.

We don’t know who’s going to win. The Iranian people know that they’re on their own; they aren’t going to get any help from us, or the United Nations, or the Europeans. But paradoxically, this lack of support may strengthen their will. There is no cavalry on the horizon. If they are going to prevail, they and their unlikely leaders will have to gut it out by themselves. God be with them.

Duane has also now posted the transcripts of yesterday’s interviews with Michael Rubin, Michael Totten, Claudia Rosett and John Podhoretz.

The key Twitter search terms remain #iran and #iranelection. The key blogs are AndrewSullivan.com, CommentaryMagazine’s Contentions (already strong and then it added Totten), and NationalReview.com’s The Corner.

Not every post at every blog is about Iran, nor should they be because the rest of the world hasn’t stopped. (If anything, Team Obama is trying to accelerate the miserable “government option” which would be the ruin of American medicine.)

But the overwhelming focus should be on Iran. It was dispiriting to watch the House of Commons debate last night and see it focus on yet another Iraq War inquiry rather than the savagery of the mullahs’ death squads. We have to hope that the United States Congress acts today to stand with the demonstrators against the killers and in uncompromising terms, and that the president tries to get the message right a third time. (Strike one was the Veep on Meet the Press. Strike two was last night’s incoherent statement about abhorring violence. A blunt condemnation of the killers isn’t that hard to draft.)

As Ledeen notes, the demonstrators cannot look for any cavalry coming over the hill. The amazing site of unarmed protestors charging a Basij compound is a testament to the deep desire for freedom, one that has been seen before in Tienamen Square and around the Berlin Wall, as well as in Ukraine and Lebanon and many other places. Sometimes that deep desire manifests itself in crowds of hundreds of thousands and turns a dictatorship over. Sometimes it is slaughtered. All that the observers in the West can do is pray for, cheer on, and report accurately on that desire for freedom and the incredible courage that supports it.

UPDATE: From the Asia Times:

David Goldman (aka “Spengler”) on Iran’s strategic weakness, and

M. K. Bhadrakumar on the Rafsanjani-Khamenei split that triggered the turmoil which could now swallow them both.

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Guest Line-Up For Today’s Show On Iran

Monday, June 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Confirmed: Frank Dowse of The Agemus Group, Victor Davis Hanson, Frank Gaffney, Bill Kristol, Michael Ledeen, John Podhoretz, Claudia Rosett.

Invited, not yet confirmed: Dr. Ali Ansari, Amir Taheri, Michael Totten.

Memo to Andrew Sullivan: E-mail to your aol account is bouncing back. I’d like to interview you today or tomorrow.

Memo to MSM: It isn’t hard to find and book guests who (1)have an interest in Iran that predates this turmoil, (2)know what they are talking about, and (3)cover the American ideological spectrum.

UPDATE: Totten has taken his updates and expertise to Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog. That’s the sort of move that great editors make, so congrats to J-Pod.

And here is a recent list of Iranian twitterers.

Iran Bans Opposition Rally; Khamenei Orders Probe: The Obligation of the Western Press

Monday, June 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Khamenei is obliged to issue another demand for order, and Ahmadinejad cancels a trip to Russia.

Michael Totten has an extensive set of key links, as does Andrew Sullivan who has comprehensive coverage.

I will devote most of today’s program to the events in Iran with some of the president’s speech to the AMA thrown in. (Hopefully the president will break with his administration’s very cautious reactions and lead off the AMA speech with forceful comments on the sham election and the need for the Iranian regime to respect basic human rights.) The key for media outlets is to focus on the courage of the demonstrators and to refuse to predict their defeat and suppression by the mullahs. Too many western media outlets are giving tacit approval to the regime by predicting its inevitable triumph, and a handful have quite shamefully reported the election results as though they are legitimate.

Iran experts like Michael Rubin (see below) know that all Iranian elections are manipulated, but many commentators do not seem to understand this or that this could be the occasion when the Iranian people refuse to allow the charade to go on. The regime erred in allowing voters’ expectations of genuine participation to flower, and the blow-back is enormous and could grow. The odds are long but they get much longer if western media assumes that the demonstrators will be crushed or that the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard will not bend or break. (Khamenei may have already blinked a bit.) There are clearly some elites distressed with Ahmadinejad’s radical rhetoric and rule who could throw in with the demonstrators if any sort of momentum for real change is maintained.

All any friend of freedom can do is pray and cheer for the side pushing freedom, which in this case means paying as much attention as possible to every appeal for attention from the demonstrators. Ignoring their courage or, worse, supporting the regime by parroting its lines, is shameful beyond words.

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