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Current Events, in hindsight

So. Your Humble Blogger hasn’t been writing much about the world and its wife; not because it hasn’t been interesting, nor even because I haven’t had much to say (no fear), but because I haven’t felt like putting my words down in pixels and up on the web. Then there’s this thing that happens, when the thing that I had been saying (either in conversation or in my head) is utterly validated by what happens, and I think that I ought to have written it up. But by then, of course, it’s too late. Your Humble Blogger is capable of lots of lameness, but not (I hope) of the unutterable lameness of saying, after the event, that you were right before the event. Well, not often.

Fortunately, when it comes to the election in Iran and its aftermath, Your Humble Blogger was completely wrong. So I can go ahead and write about what I thought, and how wrong I was, without being too much of a jerk. And with any luck, some Gentle Reader will have some ideas about being less wrong about that or other issues in the future, and some other GR will feel better about how wrong he was, too.

My habit, as a lot of y’all have figured out by now, is to look at what the likely outcomes are and what they seem to mean. I had figured the likely outcomes as being something like this:

  • Mr. Mousavi wins, and is directed by Supreme Leader Khameni away from any significant influence over foreign policy. Not that President Ahmadinejad appears to have had any really significant influence over foreign policy, but it seemed to me that Mr. Mousavi would be kept more under the proverbial thumb. On the other hand, from the US point of view, it would be much easier for Our Only President to domestically sell a sane(ish) foreign policy if Mr. Ahmadinejad were replaced with Mr. Mousavi, even assuming the change did not bring with it any new policy positions worth mentioning.
  • Mr. Ahmadinejad wins, and things are more or less unchanged, except of course that the passage of time is a change and makes a difference, as the argument that it’ll be years before we have to worry at all about the Iranian nuclear program will be less powerful as years pass. Also, Mr. Ahmadinejad winning could lead to giving him some actual influence, although I couldn’t really see Supreme Leader Khameni actually yielding much. From my point of view, it wouldn’t make much difference, except that it would presumably lead to more outrageous and offensive statements my President Ahmadinejad, which I could live without.
  • Supreme Leader Khameni would rig the election somehow, leading to Mr. Ahmadinejad retaining his position, but more obviously dependent on the Supreme Leader, with less opportunity for his particular brand of loose-cannon populism. This would probably be a slight improvement from the US point of view, or at least from my particular point of view, as it would somewhat decrease public mad anti-Semitism, and might make negotiations, should we choose to engage in them, a little easier, as we would not have to waste a lot of time either placating the irrelevant President or placating domestic interests who would naturally be offended by the way we placate the mad President.

In other words, I didn’t really see any way that Supreme Leader Khameni or his secretive cabal of hagiarchs and toadies was going to let something like an election for President significantly erode his power over the Iranian government, short of an actual Civil War, which would require some substantial chunk of the armed forces to side with the Other Guys. I didn’t see Mr. Mousavi leading the country into a civil war, and although I knew less than nothing about the actual country, it didn’t seem at all likely that if he did, he would have any part of the Army with him.

In the event, however, there are far more possibilities than I had imagined. Joshua Micah Marshall over at Talking Points Memo wonders if the tide is turning against the Supreme Leader. Robert Farley over at Lawyers Guns and Money writes a typically history-and-military focused note about Tank Man and Tank Commander, pointing out the tremendous importance of decision-making by individuals in the government forces, and the difficulty of predicting those decisions. And FP Passport has had some provocative posts by their stable; as usual, I find the writers seem to be very knowledgeable, while having utterly different assumptions and instincts than mine, which makes the blog interesting to me. And the sense that I’m getting is that there is a chance, a growing chance, that in a year or so, there will no unelected Supreme Leader who has veto power over almost every aspect of the Iranian government. That is, that there will be some secular official in the government who has limited but real power to defy the Supreme Leader and remain in power.

If that turns out to be true, it is the end of the hagiarchy. And if that’s true, it seems likely to be a Very Good Thing for an awful lot of people. Although, I will point out, I’m often wrong about stuff like this: see the above.

And one more thing, before I drop the subject: That think about Mr. Mousavi leading the country into a civil war? Doesn’t that seem like a Bad Thing? I mean, I’m being all humble about predictions today, with good reason, but if, say, Tehran and environs declares for Mr. Mousavi against the Supreme Leader, and gets a large chunk of secular-sympathizing military units on their side together with a three or four air bases, etc, etc… or have I read too much military specfic?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


this: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/19/iran_analyst_is_mousavi_willing_to_risk_slaughter_in_the_streets

Mousavi is not Khomeini, and Khamenei is not the Shah. Meaning, Khomeini would not hesitate to lead his followers to "martyrdom", and the Shah did not have the stomach for mass bloodshed. This time the religious zealots are the ones holding power.

is utter crap. where is the proof that there is feeling against the current opposition like there was against the VIPs in the 1970s?

i feel like we're trapped in a long "castro: pro or con?" meeting in miami....

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