Analysts Miss Iran’s Hidden Revolution

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 4 months ago

Commenter and loyal reader TSAlfabet and TCJ are in a debate over what democracy in Iran might bring.  It’s the same debate that Michael Totten is having with himself at Commentary Magazine.  On the one hand, we should all support democracy programs in Iran, and Mir Hossein Mousavi seems light years better than Ahmadinejad.  But Michael Totten doesn’t trust him, although he does point out that Michael Ledeen believes that there has been a transformation in his views.  Either way, the disposition of the current upheaval in Iran likely doesn’t change anything regarding the push for a nuclear weapon.

But democracy is a good first step in Iran’s evolution towards being a viable twenty first century state.  Fox News recently reported (James Rosen) that Washington was abuzz with talks about how the Iran analysts and foreign policy experts had missed how Iran had transitioned from the Islamic revolution to a fascist, repressive state.  This hidden revolution was recently discussed in the New York Times, no doubt leading to the current debate over the expert analysts entirely missing it.

Just after Iran’s rigged elections last week, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, it looked as if a new revolution was in the offing. Five days later, the uprising is little more than a symbolic protest, crushed by the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Meanwhile, the real revolution has gone unnoticed: the guard has effected a silent coup d’état.

The seeds of this coup were planted four years ago with the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And while he has since disappointed his public, failing to deliver on promised economic and political reforms, his allies now control the country. In the most dramatic turnabout since the 1979 revolution, Iran has evolved from theocratic state to military dictatorship.

Disenchantment with clerical rule has been growing for years. To the urban youths who make up Iran’s most active political class, the mullahs represent the crude rigidity of Islamic law. To the rural poor, they epitomize the corruption that has meant unbuilt schools, unpaved roads and unfulfilled promises of development.

The problem with the Fox News report is that not everyone missed it.  In 2004 Michael Ledeen said that we shouldn’t dismiss the prospects of democratic revolution in Iran.  In 2008 he clearly linked them with fascist dictatorships, and in 2007 he said concerning Iran, “the economy – insofar as it has to do with the daily lives of most people – is a disaster, the rulers are hated, the population is young, and there is a long tradition of self government” (page 208 of The Iranian Time Bomb; as a fellow Marine father, my copy is signed “From a fellow-suffering dad to another – Michael”).

Finally, writing for Pajamas Media, Michael said early in 2009:

… despite all their efforts to crush any sign of internal rebellion, many Iranians continue to publicly oppose the mullahs.  A few weeks ago, students at universities all over the country demonstrated in significant numbers, and as one Iranian now living in Europe put it to me, “they were surprised that the regime was unable to stop the protests, even though everyone knew they were planned.”   This is the background for the new wave of repression, accompanied by an intensification of jamming on the Internet, and an ongoing reshuffle of the instruments of repression;  Khamanei and Ahmadinejad have no confidence in the efficacy or blind loyalty of the army or of large segments of the Revolutionary Guards.  Most public actions are carried out by the Basij, who are judged more reliable, and repression is less in the hands of the traditional ministries than in new groups freshly minted in the Supreme Leader’s office.

In short, we are dealing with a regime that is very concerned about its future, and is not very comfortable with its friends, allies, and proxies.  The mullahs know that most Iranians would like to see their leaders treated the same way as the nine executed on Christmas Eve, and, like all tyrants, the Iranian despots are trying to demonstrate that they dominate both Iran and the region.

These are just a very few of the quotes cobbled together over ten minutes or so of research.  The debate that commenter TSAlfabet and TCJ are having and Michael Totten is having with himself is several steps above the current panic among so-called “experts” in Washington who wonder why they missed it so badly.  We’re further ahead in our discussion because we didn’t miss it.  Neither did Michael Ledeen.  So why is this administration listening to “experts” who miss major events like the next Iranian revolution?

Meanwhile, the revolution isn’t over quite yet, no matter what the NYT commentary asserts.

  • Warbucks

    The Internet it seems is changing everything. The United States Instituted of Peace (USIP) on June 17th, held a successful open forum called “Dispelling Myths,” ticketed by http://www.eventbright.com, a service Eventbright offers free of charge I might add …. meaning TCJ may want to try it out.

    While I initially thought from the program title we were going to be “lectured down to by the old guard of the Arab League” on why we must accept religio-culture-shock-jocks screeming “Allah Akbar” while boarding your favorite vacation airline for a relaxing experience, we weren’t. It was all about internet communication analytics.

    Bruce Etling, John Palfrey, and Rob Faris of Harvard was join by John Kelly of Morningside Analytics who mapped out and reported 10-ways come Sunday, the Arabic Blogosphere of Politics, Culture and Dissent.

    Bottom line is, we are in a new world were it is impossible for dictators to block out 100% of the views of repression….. and that is changing everything. While it is happening, it becomes news on the internet.

    We stumbled by accident onto an aspect of this internet phenomenon — in a dimension we were not even seeking — in a spiritual dimension, the experience of which is as intriguing for old warriors as it is for old peaceniks (you remember peaceniks, someone who publicly opposes armed conflict in general, or particular conflict, and usually causes conflict in the process).

    Here in our heavily armed remote mountain-top hideout overlooking the Pacific Ocean (http://peaceandconflictresolution.googlepages.com/a-b-c-revelationandinternetconfiramtion) we maintain one operating request: Don’t shoot the messenger!


You are currently reading "Analysts Miss Iran’s Hidden Revolution", entry #3157 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iran and was published June 21st, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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