One of my favorite lines in The Screwtape letters is letter 13 and it concerns reality:
The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality. Thus if you had been trying to damn your man by the Romantic method—by making him a kind of Childe Harold or Werther submerged in self-pity for imaginary distresses—you would try to protect him at all costs from any real pain; because, of course, five minutes’ genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they were
When president Bush referred to Iran as part of an Axis of Evil he was widely derided one of the calmer statements was from the BBC:
Dissenters from Washington’s “axis of evil” say that the concept can only radicalise Tehran further, make the work of Iranian moderates and reformists far harder and in the long run destabilize the region.
as for Iranian Nukes
Less easy to establish is Washington’s assertion that Iran is attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, that might threaten the US and its allies.
Ah those carefree days of 2002; but we can see as recently as February of this year see a US “realist’s” rose colored view of Iran:
Despite growing concern about the regime’s suspected nuclear weapons program, Iran’s assistance in the war on terrorism, and the gradual evolution of liberal thought there puts it in a different category from Iraq or North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said in an interview. “The axis of evil was a valid comment, [but] I would note there’s one dramatic difference between Iran and the other two axes of evil, and that would be its democracy. [And] you approach a democracy differently,” Armitage said.
Well Mr. Armatage here is your “democracy” burning in the streets. Lets check with Chris Hitchens first on the nukes:
Mention of the Lebanese elections impels me to pass on what I saw with my own eyes at a recent Hezbollah rally in south Beirut, Lebanon. In a large hall that featured the official attendance of a delegation from the Iranian Embassy, the most luridly displayed poster of the pro-Iranian party was a nuclear mushroom cloud! Underneath this telling symbol was a caption warning the “Zionists” of what lay in store. We sometimes forget that Iran still officially denies any intention of acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet Ahmadinejad recently hailed an Iranian missile launch as a counterpart to Iran’s success with nuclear centrifuges, and Hezbollah has certainly been allowed to form the idea that the Iranian reactors may have nonpeaceful applications. This means, among other things, that the vicious manipulation by which the mullahs control Iran can no longer be considered as their “internal affair.” Fascism at home sooner or later means fascism abroad. Face it now or fight it later. Meanwhile, give it its right name.
and then on Iranian “elections”
There is a theoretical reason why the events of the last month in Iran (I am sorry, but I resolutely decline to refer to them as elections) were a crudely stage-managed insult to those who took part in them and those who observed them. And then there is a practical reason. The theoretical reason, though less immediately dramatic and exciting, is the much more interesting and important one.
Iran and its citizens are considered by the Shiite theocracy to be the private property of the anointed mullahs. This totalitarian idea was originally based on a piece of religious quackery promulgated by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and known as velayat-e faqui. Under the terms of this edict—which originally placed the clerics in charge of the lives and property of orphans, the indigent, and the insane—the entire population is now declared to be a childlike ward of the black-robed state. Thus any voting exercise is, by definition, over before it has begun, because the all-powerful Islamic Guardian Council determines well in advance who may or may not “run.” Any newspaper referring to the subsequent proceedings as an election, sometimes complete with rallies, polls, counts, and all the rest of it is the cause of helpless laughter among the ayatollahs. (“They fell for it? But it’s too easy!”) Shame on all those media outlets that have been complicit in this dirty lie all last week. And shame also on our pathetic secretary of state, who said that she hoped that “the genuine will and desire” of the people of Iran would be reflected in the outcome. Surely she knows that any such contingency was deliberately forestalled to begin with.
Michael Rubin agrees:
I had the pleasure of visiting the Islamic Republic twice as a student, and it was absolutely fantastic. But the Iranians I would meet on the street had no say in their governance, any more than the ordinary Afghans I met in Kabul and Qandahar in March 2000 had any influence over the Taliban. This is where Fareed Zakaria is so ridiculous when he writes about Iran. In countries like Iran, it’s the guys with the guns that matter in policy. The ordinary citizens are the victims.
We see that the Iranian “Democracy” is trying to control communication, again the BBC:
It is important that what is happening in Iran is reported to the world, but it is even more vital that citizens in Iran know what is happening. That is the role of the recently-launched BBC Persian TV which is fulfilling a crucial role in being a free and impartial source of information for many Iranians.
Any attempt to block this channel is wrong and against international treaties on satellite communication. Whoever is attempting the blocking should stop it now.
And social networks,
‘The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up, according to Reporters Without Borders. ‘The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites… are completely inaccessible.'”
And reporters are targets:
A British reporter in Tehran tells FOX News that regime thugs are beating reporters on the streets of Tehran. The regime wants reporters out of the country. Iranian thugs are keeping reporters hiding in their hotels:
Israel thinks it knows why:
Without support from the United States and other Western countries, Iranian opposition groups will likely stop demonstrations against the Iranian regime and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declared victory in Friday’s presidential elections, senior Israeli defense officials said Sunday.
Why all of this? The Gloria center has a thought:
I certainly expected Ahmadinjad to win but figured the regime would play out the game. He’d either genuinely gain victory in the second round or they’d change just enough votes to ensure his victory. What no one expected is that the regime would tear up the whole process like this. Their brazen way of doing so–if you don’t like it you can go to hell, we’re going to do whatever we want, and we don’t care what anyone thinks–signals to me that this ruling group is even more risk-taking and irresponsible than it previously appeared.
This is the key point: the problem with Iran’s regime isn’t just that it is a dictatorship, it’s that it is such an extremist, aggressive dictatorship.
The only logical explanation for why the regime did this is that Ahmadinejad’s opponents got so many votes that it frightened the regime. It also shows that the regime is wedded to Ahmadinejad and his approach.
Amir Taheri thinks so:
Many in Tehran, including leading clerics, see the exercise as a putsch by the military-security organs that back Mr. Ahmadinejad. Several events make these allegations appear credible. The state-owned Fars News Agency declared Mr. Ahmadinejad to have won with a two-thirds majority even before the first official results had been tabulated by the Interior Ministry. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main rival, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, retaliated by declaring himself the winner. That triggered a number of street demonstrations, followed with statements by prominent political and religious figures endorsing Mr. Mousavi’s claim.
Then something unprecedented happened. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all issues of national life, published a long statement hailing Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “historic victory” as “a great celebration.” This was the first time since 1989, when he became supreme leader, that Mr. Khamenei commented on the results of a presidential election without waiting for the publication of official results. Some analysts in Tehran tell me that the military-security elite, now controlling the machinery of the Iranian state, persuaded Mr. Khamenei to make the unprecedented move.
And events in Iran seem to support that to wit:
Ahmadinejad decides it’s prudent not to leave the country on a scheduled trip to Russia. “Plainclothes militia” authorized to use live ammunition. EU officials express “serious concern.”
Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad’s presidency illegitimate and cooperating with his government against Islam. There are strong rumors that his house and office are surrounded by the police and his website is filtered. He had previously issued a fatwa, against rigging of the elections in any form or shape, calling it a mortal sin.
And this too:
Via Raymond Jahan on Twitter (h/t Allahpundit), tens of thousands of anti-A-jad protesters have taken to the streets in Iran (click here for full-size).
And reactions like this:
Best-case scenario is that they “merely” beat him into unconsciousness. Rather than give you just the video of the beating, though, I’m embedding a kaleidoscope of 14 clips put together by Breitbart.com to show you how widespread and violent the protests already are. If you can’t spare a few minutes to watch them all, at least watch the first three plus the seventh, where you’ll find the Basij — essentially Iran’s answer to the Nazi SA — riding by on motorcycles with batons and taking swings at anyone wearing green to indicate support for Mousavi.
And more video and photos here.
We don’t know whether the policeman and the man on the edge of the crowd already realize what has happened. The man has stopped being afraid – and this is precisely the beginning of the revolution. Here it starts. Until now, whenever these two men approached each other, a third figure instantly intervened between them. That third figure was fear. Fear was the policeman’s ally and the man in the crowd’s foe. Fear interposed its rules and decided everything.
Now the two men find themselves alone, facing each other, and fear has disappeared into thin air. Until now their relationship was charged with emotion, a mixture of aggression, scorn, rage, terror. But now that fear has retreated, this perverse, hateful union has suddenly broken up; something has been extinguished. The two men have now grown mutually indifferent, useless to each other; they can now go their own ways.
Accordingly, the policeman turns around and begins to walk heavily back toward his post, while the man on the edge of the crowd stands there looking at his vanishing enemy.
Today it is even more evident that something really really funny is going on. Rafsanjani’s house is apparently surrounded by security forces. Let’s face it Rafsanjani has the most to lose here. His and his sons head is on the line. If there is any chance that this trend is going to be reversed, Rafsanjani will be the key player. Today is the day that the Islamic Republic officially transformed from a theocracy supported by Pasdaran to a Junta supported by a handful of clerics.
Dan Riehl reminds us of history:
I’m not prepared to say this is it for the regime. It depends on what cards they are willing to play. This could end with successful counter-revolution, or mass slaughter. And if Carter hadn’t been the weak, misguided President he was, it wouldn’t have been necessary. This is also the regime Obama couldn’t wait to say he would talk to despite election irregularities. Insurrection Day 2 and Carter 2, as well.
Good point what is the administration doing here? Lets see:
Hillary Clinton expresses the wait-and-see approach of the Obama Administration:
“We, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a visit to Niagara Falls, Ontario, on Saturday. “We obviously hope the outcome reflects the genuine will and desire of the Iranian people.”
In one sense, this unsatisfactory response is entirely consistent with the nuanced approach that President Obama laid out in his Cairo speech.
It reminds me of of George H. W. Bush’s reaction to the events preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall. The best word to describe both administrations is flatfooted. I guess this is the way that all “pragmatists” react when their neat, little assumptions about the world order run into reality. An ideologue might actually have a position on a revolution against thuggish tyrants.
Well it would seem a Carter vote in the Arthur Carter watch but not so fast, we all know who is really to blame don’t we? Yes you got it. It’s all Bush. Ahmadinejad is Bush! Really! After all Laura Secor says so in a story called Meet Iran’s George W. Bush.:
This ought to be a no-brainer: Ahmadinejad has made a mess of the economy, clamped down on political dissent and social freedoms, militarized the state, and earned the enmity of much of the world
This is a fair description of how the left views the ex-president. But there is some confusion maybe he is Rove or Palin:
Ahmadinejad’s bag of tricks is eerily like that of Karl Rove – the constant use of fear, the exploitation of religion, the demonization of liberals, the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin
This confuses some:
What’s going on here? Does the American Left – after eight years of whining about make-believe tyranny – not know how to react to actual tyranny when it sees it in action?
Really, Sully? I mean, really? WTF goes through someone’s mind when they dream up an idiotic comparison between (a) Karl Rove, a Republican political strategist, and (b) Mahmoud Ahmadinejed, a Jew-hating genocidal maniac?
You might as well compare Rove to Charles Manson or Pol Pot. Please note that Sullivan’s comparison involves no hypotheticals. It does not appear to be any sort of parodic humor, except unintentionally. He evidently means to suggest in all seriousness that Ahmadinejad and Rove are similar in some meaningful way.
Whatever you think of Karl Rove — and I am certainly not his biggest fan — there is something absurdly puerile in the suggestion that his political strategies involve “the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin” (???).
But for all the rhetoric where does this leave us? Bill Jacobson thinks its all bad news:
A classic no win situation. If there were fraud, then the Iranian people unwillingly will be subjected to the consequences of pursuing Ahmadinejad’s policies. If there were no fraud, then the result is the same. In either case, it is no win for the prospect of a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear weapons program, unless the West, Israel and the U.S. capitulate.
Even the Obama administration will be hard put to enter into serious negotiations with Ahmadinejad, especially when his scant credibility has been undermined by these utterly fraudulent elections and the resulting street protests.
That doesn’t mean that Obama won’t try–but he will have a lot less patience with Ahmadinejad than he would have had with Mousavi. And that in turn means there is a greater probability that eventually Obama may do something serious to stop the Iranian nuclear program–whether by embargoing Iranian refined-petroleum imports or by tacitly giving the go-ahead to Israel to attack its nuclear installations.
So in an odd sort of way a win for Ahmadinejad is also a win for those of us who are seriously alarmed about Iranian capabilities and intentions. With crazy Mahmoud in office–and his patron, Ayatollah Khameini, looming in the background–it will be harder for Iranian apologists to deny the reality of this terrorist regime.
Allahpundit says the something has to happen:
Now comes the moment of truth: Does he really believe that? Does he honestly believe, after years of stonewalling, with the country maybe a year away from being able to build a bomb, that they’re going to throw in the towel now? If not, then walk away. There’s no downside and potentially a tremendous upside if the regime falls or a grateful Mousavi ends up being installed as president. And needless to say, from a moral standpoint, he’d be on the side of the angels.
Back to the Gloria Center:
Is a regime that just committed itself irrevocably to the most extreme faction, most radical ideology, and most repressive control over the country going to compromise with the West on nuclear weapons or anything else?
I think Karl puts it best when he calls it the reality bomb:
Obama’s immediate problem is that the naked power grab ongoing in Iran has exposed to even the casual observer that “the Iran we have” is the Iran we have always had. Obama’s larger problem is that still seems to hold the notion that he can “deal” with Iran in the sense of “engagement,” even after the reality bomb has detonated.
That takes us back to the start of the post. What Iran is, what the Mullahs are and what Ahmadinejad is and their collective goals have always been what they are. No amount of posturing, clever words, talking heads or wishful thinking changes this.
A supporter of Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds up a poster bearing a picture of Jerusalem’s holy Dome of the Rock mosque with the slogan “Our war will culminate with the takeover of Palestine”, during a massive rally to celebrate his victory in the presidential elections in Tehran’s Valiasr square on June 14. (AFP/Olivier Laban-Mattei)
With the riots and the repression on screen it breaks down the atoms of the fake picture some drew for their political gain or personal comfort. Who knew Russel T. Davies could be so prophetic:
In a classic TV show it is easy to spot the bad guy. Hopefully this reality bomb allows us to see what is there. People may want to deny or disguise the face, but this election and the reaction detonates the reality bomb and shows us what’s behind the mask. We see the face of actual evil and protesters fighting it. Not feel good protests against phony tyranny but the real thing with their own lives on the line.
Now it right in front of us. The bottom line is what are we as a nation going to do about it?
Update: Rush has a montage of people comparing this to Florida and a “stolen” election I see what they mean other than the people shot and slashed in the streets this is just the kind of thing you would expect from the old Bush administration. Will the reality bomb be strong enough to affect the MSM or Obama?