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    Wednesday, June 24, 2009


    As an outsider I have watched in horror as the outrages of the fascist, theocratic, dictatorship in Iran have escalated. I am always resistant to advocate the use of force in political matters. I have tried to favor peaceful change through passive resistance. If, however, even a small part of the reports now coming out of that country are accurate; I don’t think that peaceful protest is still a viable option. The brutality of this corrupt regime has become unspeakable. It shows, more clearly than even their most zealous and verbose detractors could ever hope to, the depths of depravity the former leaders of that country have sunk to. I say “former leaders” because no matter what happens from here they no longer represent the people of Iran. These are your own people you are attacking!
    Needless to say this is no longer merely about an election, or votes, or anything of the sort. By resorting to this kind of viciousness the situation has escalated into a full scale revolt. By letting their fear drive them, the former leaders have done what their enemies could not and turned the people of their own country against them. Like men, no country is an island. These crimes will long weigh on the minds of your neighbors and indeed the rest of the planet.
    This is not the first time this has happened nor, I fear, will it be the last. What is also important here is the speed with which it all happened. The technology that facilitated this rapid change is more ubiquitous everyday. Imagine if North Korea allowed unrestricted internet access and Twittering.
    Even as President Obama has maintained a hands-off approach from the US government (a decision I support by the way) the people of the US and the rest of the world have reached out and embraced the protesting Iranians. Their peaceful and reasonable demonstrations and cries for Democracy and Freedom reach us and we are with them. Not merely months or years after the fact, but in the moment. We hear their voices and we raise ours in support of them.
    This will be even more and more the case as we move forward and these technologies expand and are refined. As more and more people around the world attain the ability to speak to each other directly the age of repressive dictatorships is gradually ending. As I watch the continuing events in Iran, I say, good riddance.


    Anonymous said...

    Frank, if you look at my Facebook page at around 4-5pm, I usually update with the most recent events in Iran. Today was the worst day ever. There was a planned rally at Gisha St (North Tehran) which ended up being a trap. Basij forces (Iran's version of Hitler's Brownshirts) streamed out of a nearby mosque and started beating people. Huge arrests. I lost a lot of my Iranian contacts. If you're still following Persiankiwi on Twitter, you know most of the story.

    I only have 2 Iranian contacts left and their messages are so morose. Before, I was getting besieged w/tweets and emails, but not any longer. And what messages I'm getting now sound too much like goodbyes.

    But there's still a HUGE powerplay in motion in the Iranian parliament. Khatami (who was Iran's president in 2005 & is now chairman of the Guardian Council) is asserting as much authority as he can behind the protesters. There are reports of divisions within the Guardian Council.

    We know this conflict wouldn't be resolved in a week or so. Hell, the last revolution in 1979 took almost a year and a half. But I've been so drawn in by these kids' pleas. We can only spread information, open proxies for them, and dispel rumors & propaganda. It's not much, but it's something.

    Anonymous said...

    I actually think it would be healthier for whatever the next Iranian state becomes to not have a violent revolution. Ideally, Rafsanjani (former President, current chairman of both the Assembly of Experts - which oversees and appoints Supreme Leaders - and the Expediency Council - which mediates between the Parliament and the Guardian Council) will be able to convince the clerics to abolish the office of Supreme Leader and replace it with a clerical council, or at least remove Khamenei and replace him with a reformer, possibly Montazeri. This would hopefully minimize the bloodshed.

    But if Rafsanjani's faction is unsuccessful, one hopes that an Iranian Gandhi would materialize. Gandhi was not so much a man of peace as a commanding general waging war with one weapon only: martial, non-violent mass mobilization. He envisioned future states actually fielding non-violent armies, massive formations trained to carry out dedicated, non-violent non-cooperation and interpose themselves between violent groups, to not fight back, to wear down the inhumanity of those using violence and force them to see the futility in it. It seems to me (granted I'm not an expert on any of this) that Shi'a Islam, a denomination founded by martyrs and steeped in respect and veneration of the martyr instinct, is particularly suited to embrace such an ethic and put Gandhi's satyagraha ethos to use on a massive scale. Ten or twenty thousand protestors who will not fight back, will not taunt or curse the Basijis or the IRGC, who will let themselves be knocked down by water cannons and batons and pick themselves up again and again, who will be cowed into cooperating and force the police to lift them and drag them off the streets, and who will allow themselves to be shot down if necessary...the regime would lose its nerve, and then, there would be no stopping the movement.

    As Gandhi himself said, true satyagraha is not an excuse for cowardice, and if the only choice is cowardice or violence his choice would be violence. But a bloody uprising that ends with dozens of clerics murdered in their homes and mosques will probably just replace a theocratic authoritarianism with a secular one. Maybe the Iranians will try a different way.
    -- Patrick

    Anonymous said...

    argh. edit to the above post: I obviously meant to say "who will NOT be cowed into cooperating." Accursed fingers.