Marq bar dictator! (Down with the dictator!)

Down With The Dictator!

Down With The Dictator!

Iranian women confront government thugs beating a protester

Iranian women confront government thugs beating a protester

Protesters helped evacuate (and, I heard, get medical help for) an injured policeman in riot gear

Protesters helped evacuate (and, I heard, get medical help for) an injured policeman in riot gear

Larger versions of these photos (plus many more)

According to Pajamas Media, the following manifesto is being passed around today (translated for PM by an Iranian activist):

  1. Stripping Ayatollah Khamanei of his Supreme Leadership position because of his unfairness. Fairness is a requirement of a Supreme Leader.
  2. Stripping Ahmadinejad of the presidency, due to his unlawful act of maintaining the position illegally.
  3. Transferring temporary Supreme Leadership position to Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazery until the formation of a committee to reevaluate and adjust Iran’s constitution.
  4. Recognizing Mir Hossein Mousavi as the rightfully elected president of the people.
  5. Formation of a new government by President Mousavi and preparation for the implementation of new constitutional amendments.
  6. Unconditional release of all political prisoners regardless of ideaology or party platform.
  7. Dissolution of all organizations – both secret and public – designed for the oppression of the Iranian people, such as the Gasht Ershad (Iranian morality police).

A message from Iranian Artists In Exile:

Green Revolution Twitter feed
Several messages asserted the peacefulness of today’s rally with Mousavi and warned against fighting with the Basij (Baseej-e Mostaz’afin, [literally “Mobilization of the Oppressed] — volunteer militia thugs under the command of the Revolutionary Guards, often used for ideological enforcement). One can also find messages from Ahmadinejad supporters like: “Recount will confirm results in #iranelection Ahmadinejad has strong support ouside of Teheran.” Plus disinformational propaganda (from “VoiceOfIran”): “Today gathering is being canceled as a hasty govermental gathering is happening right where we planned to go today! shame on you.” And, of course, warnings to ignore the disinformation. Andrew Sullivan has a huge post of tweets (also a largely decent post on how uncertain the situation is):

security in Jamaran is unbelieveble – hundreds of Baseej guarding Khamenei

Police the reason of insecurity; Dead students buried by profs

anyone with camera or laptop is attacked in street

Confirmed info: hezbollah mobilized & lebanese coming in. this is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better pass it down

Today is a day of strikes throughout Iran, will it be successful?

Dispatches from an Iranian student at The Washington Note: Part 1, Part 2

UK Guardian live blog

WordPress Iran feed

Reports on DailyKos from electronicmaji

A cyberwar guide for helping Iranian protesters. Most generally useful bit: “Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.”

Peace and Freedom to the People of Iran!

Mousavi at June 15 rally

Mousavi at June 15 rally

28 Responses to “Marq bar dictator! (Down with the dictator!)”

  • It is hard to know how this is going to play out, but I don’t think ultimately it will be successful. I hope I am wrong.

  • Cool. Now I live in Tehran, at least according to Twitter. We’re all Iranians now.

  • One could say the Tianenmens protest were unsuccessful also, fish, but they did result in an opening up of Chinese society, however incremental.

    Would that Americans reacted the same way when funky-smelling elections occur. I mean besides wingnuts who disagree with an election’s results.

  • I am slightly annoyed at the Twitter triumphalism going around. I mean since there is no way to verify any of this stuff, I imagine our overlords getting burned like when they thought Kanye West was on Twaz. More seriously, though, I am quite annoyed by Sullivan and Drum shoveling sh*tty data that says “nothing could be more obvious!” and having it be totally wrong. The worst part is that there is this “whattya gonna do” mentality because it seems like it is OK to just post whatever on a blog, meaning amplification of any old Twitter anything counts as reporting. I am disturbed that for the most part these events seem to be treated as a reality show for a lot of people.

    I just feel like it is going to get a lot worse.

  • I am disturbed by the shrieking of the Kristols and Goldbergs, as they pretend that they care about the Iranian people.

    I mean, sure they care about the Iranian people…they care about bombing them.

    P.S. Renowned Truth-Teller Ari Fleischer: Bush’s tough policies have helped give rise to the reformists and I think we’re witnessing that today.”

    Ari failed to note that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not elected president until 2005, when he was the only presidential candidate who spoke out against future relations with the United States.

    Thanks for the Axis of Evil, and such as, chundermuffins.

  • The hubris of my country never ceases to amaze me. The forces inside Iran — economic, social, cultural — are driving this more than sanctions and steely glances. People always tire of living under fundamentalism, and the chafing in Iran has finally gotten great enough to cause huge problems for the Iranian government. The idea that Bush’s ostracization of Iran could somehow be responsible for this…that’s so ridiculous I almost have to respect it. Almost.

    My hope is that this is East Germany in 1989. My fear is its going to turn into Hungary in 1956, or Iraq after Bush I hung the anti-Saddam forces out to dry.

  • My hope is that this is East Germany in 1989

    I was thinking the same thing this morning and am going to continue to be naive and idealistic.

  • Meh. I get suspicious even when well-meaning Westerners get interested in Mideast politics this way.

  • Mandos gets a silver. Also, note how we haven’t heard too much about Mousavi other than him being “reform-minded”- I think there is a great amount of projection of Hopey Changey going on here.

    I think we should be green in our hopeful hearts but 3B powder and blue shining in our eyeballs.

  • Yes, that’s what it feels like. Projection. I’d like for the putative revolutors to be able to revolute, but realistically, the scope for change is very narrow.

  • Go ladies in picture two!

    Not qualified to think anything about Iranian internal politics, but worried all the same.

  • As to Mandos’ comment, the reason the West is interested in this election is not because of concern about the Iranian people as Iranians, but because of the impact Iran has on us, due to its oil, and economic and military strength. That’s a gross overgeneralization, of course, and I know my blog friends here, and lots of people elsewhere, are genuinely thrilled by the thought of change and better lives in Iran. There’s an awful lot of geopolitical oneupsmanship between the lines of much of the commentary on this situation, however.

  • My hope is that this is East Germany in 1989. My fear is its going to turn into Hungary in 1956, or Iraq after Bush I hung the anti-Saddam forces out to dry.

    I was thinking similar thoughts earlier today. It’s entirely probable that this will end badly, and maybe Pinko’s right and Twitter will end up Bathed In Glory in the process. But…I take the lesson of the fall of the eastern bloc to be that regimes can rot from the inside out, and the rot isn’t always visible…until they collapse.

    Sometimes things do change. Very quickly, even, on occasion. Sometimes, the people win.

    Anyway, even if it’s unlikely to make a difference, what can you do but try to be on the side of freedom? It’s a trivial effort to change my Twitter settings and set up a free proxy server. Can’t hurt…might help.

  • [Prefaced PS: What Kevin said. Which is mostly a more concise version of what I’m saying.]

    1) I don’t claim any insight into what will happen. But I think Brando’s about right. I hope there are enough factors in place, seen and unseen, for the regime to unravel in whole or in part. Given the brute force available to the regime, however, there is probably greater likelihood that the result will be full weight of the authoritarian jackboot coming down. A third possibility, perhaps, given the emerging willingness to attack government targets in spite of Mousavi, is some kind of civil war.

    2) Watching this kind of thing from the outside often feels like voyeuristic bullshit. While I have had connections to the Bahá’í community for many years and thus know enough Iranians that this may be a pinch less abstract for me than it is for some, it’s not like I have any direct connection to what’s going on there.

    Those of us who care about social justice, of course, can be captured by the spectacle of people who might be afforded the chance to participate in remaking their society for the better. And I don’t see what treating those emotions cynically gets you. What seems necessary is to recognize the limitations of distance, and try one’s best to see what’s going on from the point of view of those involved, and not impose an agenda on it. Given the nature of spectacle that is, obviously, easier said than done. In the end, this is the Iranians struggle for self-determination. Information technology means that random people in other countries can aid (collectively) in magnifying the voices and passing on the requests of those on the ground, but it ain’t about us.

    3) Whatever else may be true, no Iranian deserves to get killed or roughed up by the security services for expressing dissent. Thus things like the Twitter location exploit that might even marginally slow the thugs down or confuse them seem worth pursuing — if valid. I have seen no indication that, say, the activists coordinating the main Twitter channel don’t take that one seriously.

    4) I came across Paul Craig Roberts arguing that the whole thing going on in Iran is a US backed attempt to foment reasons for invading. Some of what he says seems plausible, some of it sounds paranoid. And my general impression is that he’s gotten more paranoid since his fall out with movement conservatism, but US imperialism is one of the topics that he can have some worthwhile insight on. I’ll have to take a closer look at the poll he mentions and see what I think of it.

    The pollsters, Ken Ballen of the nonprofit Center for Public Opinion and Patrick Doherty of the nonprofit New America Foundation, describe their [June 15] poll results … “Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.”


    Pakistan’s former military chief, General Mirza Aslam Beig, said on Pashto Radio on Monday, June 15, that undisputed intelligence proves the US interfered in the Iranian election. “The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful but hollow revolution following the election.”

    So is this more US covert ops? Or is Roberts engaged in a different kind of projection of US importance onto what’s happening?

    I’ve heard enough conflicting reports of Iranian public sentiment over the years not to think I have a good handle on what overall Iranian opinion on Ahmadinejad is — especially outside of the urban centers.

    The spectre of what the US might do militarily if circumstances in Iran go south is something else to worry about, anyway. You know you needed more things to worry about.

  • I don’t see magical instant freedom in the cards here. I also don’t think many realize that some societies, even in yearning to be free, simply are not in the position of the Eastern Bloc when it thawed.

    I don’t begrudge anything people are doing to help on these issues. I just feel like I see the prism of conventional wisdom fossilizing as to how things have gone down on the technology side, and how we’ll never be able to tell whether it was true or not. The same assholes that constantly just talk out of their asses (some of our media class) just have a new shiny ball to play with.

    I feel like it is a bloggerati game with people’s lives at stake, yet no one really desiring to get the bottom of anything. Drum and Sullivan’s bullshit was really troubling.

    For example, I know KWB is doing the right thing, he’s also not buying a t-shirt shouting the fact. He’s instead trying to get some authentic Officially Sad merch.

  • I find my problem with it a little difficult to articulate, but PP’s invocation of the Eastern Bloc made it a bit easier. I mean, it’s great that Communist dictatorship fell, but the first thing that happened was that everyone’s livelihood was sold down the river.

    The West has repeatedly tried to sell the Iranian people down the river. So while it is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leaders must be, it’s also the case that the exploiters (including Obama…) are surely watching with a predatory eye.

    Despite their obvious vested interest and their many peccadilloes, when the Iranian hardliners complain that this sort of thing weakens Iran with regard to the predations of Western powers, they have a point.

    As Iran is a part of the larger exploitation of the middle east, the right reaction from Western observers is to continue what they’ve always (hopefully) done, which is to oppose the domination of the middle east. Beyond doing little things like the twitter time zone thing that may or may not be effective, letting the eye be taken off the ball, IMO, doesn’t do Iran any favours.

  • hilzoy, kindly expresses some more effort here on historical comparisons.

  • I’m not really disagreeing with Mandos’ historical analysis. I just don’t see how any of that obviates the desirability of a more democratic future for Iran. All I’m hoping is that the Iranian people get what they want. I hope this for the people of every other nation, including my own. Call me cheezy, but I think that the progress of democracy (which is contingent, uneven, easily derailed and never guaranteed) requires that we maintain that hope — usually against history rather than because of it.

    I’d like to draw a distinction between that simple hope and the grandstanding of Sully and company or the false historical comparisons that hilzoy rightly identifies emanating from the right. Those things are unwarranted precisely, as hilzoy says, we’re just not very popular in Iran — for good reason. As a citizen who has never supported my government’s policies toward Iran and who is ashamed of the role my country played in the events leading to the 1979 revolution, I’d like to see that change, and I don’t know any good way of pursuing that end other than being straightforwardly on the side of the Iranian people (to the very limited extent that I can).

    I’d also gently point out that while “the West” may be hegemonic, it is not monolithic any more than “the Middle East”. It would probably be productive to speak in ways that recognize that public opinion in the US is more complex than the unfortunate warmongering Washington consensus would suggest — just as the discourse of the Iranian people is more complex than Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric would suggest. Talking about this stuff in the terms set by our governments reifies their bullshit and forecloses possible alternative futures beyond eternal war between “The West” and “The Arab World” or “The Middle East”.

    Just my two cents.

  • I don’t think anyone is arguing that Iranians don’t deserve a more democratic state.

    But the fact is, governments and policy makers in North America and Europe (particularly Britain) have operated under a set of fairly consistent attitudes/ideologies wrt The Middle East for a long time now, so whether The West is not a monolith is less relevant that you might think. Public opinion in both regions of the world is very complex, but it doesn’t appear to have a lot of effect on the behaviour of the dominant side in these transactions.

    We/I may not agree that there is a necessary Clash of Civilizations—but a clash of relevant policy-makers is what we have, and functionally this appears to be the same.

  • I hope for the best for the Iranian people.

    Does anyone know if there is an equivalent, or perhaps special case of Lanchester’s laws that applies to non-violent, or maybe mostly non-violent protests?

    If so, do those laws show that something as simple as this could actually represent a very big change in the probable outcome of any given local protest – and perhaps even the probable outcome of a much larger movement – represented by a collection of local protests?

    a more detailed link with some of the math.

  • In an effort to be a little less opaque – here is what has been on my mind, and why I have asked about a “Lanchester’s Law’s” equivalent for peaceful (more or less) protests:

    1) There has been commentary that when crowds got really, really big in Iran that the police/thugs/theocratic-mafia/militia/military/etc. have held back. In this context I want to try and understand where the turning point is? Is it 10,000 people, 100,000, or 1,582,938? Is it a ratio of people:thugs? If so, what is the magic number?

    2) When two large opposing (mostly?) un-armed crowds come into contact it seems from the reports that even a very small armed security force can dramatically impact the outcome one way or another – just by their presence and behavior – without even firing off a shot. Again – what are the magic numbers? How many of these armed personal does one require to be present in order to have this effect? I wonder if the UN or NATO or someone has a set of “Lanchester’s Laws” that they use when thinking about peacekeeping missions in areas of ethnic tension or recent conflict and the like?

    I’m thinking about these things in the context of sustainability of the Iranian movement. Knowing something about the critical point with regard to crowd size may tell us a week from now if this movement can last. Also, having a firm sense about how even a very small number of armed security forces can have a very big impact depending on how they choose to act on the outcome of a protest also seems important to me in terms of understanding if the movement can last.

    My intuition is that large, large crowds plus very small numbers of armed forces making good decisions (god willing!) might add up to a sustained and powerful protest. I just don’t have any real basis for this intuition.

  • Maybe twitter DOES have a use, part II

    ArjunJaikumar @petehoekstra i spilled some lukewarm coffee on myself just now, which is somewhat analogous to being boiled in oil

    chrisbaskind @petehoekstra My neighbor stopped me to talk today. Now I know what it is like to be questioned by the Basij!


  • I did squirt a little about poor Pete’s predicament. These assholes think Twitter is the same thing as the House elevator among friends. I await the flatulence hash-tag.

  • Well, what Kevin said. (How many times am I allowed to say that? Have you heard that everyone should be reading everything he writes?)

    Mandos, I don’t see how your last comment responds to anything Kevin was actually talking about. What specifically do you object to about what he’s saying?

  • plover: Kevin W Baker said this:

    I’d also gently point out that while “the West” may be hegemonic, it is not monolithic any more than “the Middle East”. It would probably be productive to speak in ways that recognize that public opinion in the US is more complex than the unfortunate warmongering Washington consensus would suggest — just as the discourse of the Iranian people is more complex than Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric would suggest. Talking about this stuff in the terms set by our governments reifies their bullshit and forecloses possible alternative futures beyond eternal war between “The West” and “The Arab World” or “The Middle East”.

    I have decided that it *is* meaningful in certain contexts to talk about The West or The Middle East or The Arab World, and doesn’t *just* reify a discourse of eternal war. I *think* the relevance of my comment may be more clear now?

  • Mandos:

    I tried a few different ways of writing my previous comment and finally decided to just ask what was going on, as I didn’t want to make assumptions about what you did and didn’t think you were saying.

    You said, “whether The West is not a monolith is less relevant than you might think”. This raises the question: less relevant with respect to what? The focus of your comment is on government policies; the focus of Kevin’s comment is public opinion.

    Kevin makes clear that he “never supported” and “is ashamed of” US actions toward Iran, regards the attitudes in Washington as “bullshit”, and sees them as a “warmongering … consensus”. This all seems consistent with your contention that our “policy makers … have operated under a set of fairly consistent attitudes/ideologies wrt The Middle East for a long time”. Thus, he does not seem to be disagreeing with the premises of your comment. He even says that he is “not really disagreeing with [your] historical analysis”.

    However, the point of his comment is not about policy makers per se, but rather about the disjunction between the attitudes of policy makers and the various currents of public opinion. As I see it, he takes this disjunction, and further, the recognition of this disjunction among populations on both sides, to be one of the preconditions for changing the status quo you both deplore. His argument is not that one should not acknowledge the consistencies of the policy elite, but rather that making rhetorically clear the distinctions between the policy elites and decision makers on the one hand, and street level opinions both here and in the Middle East on the other, is one of the tools that serves to delegitimize elite opinions.

    Is it your contention that the disjunction between elite and popular opinion is “not relevant” to discussions of relations between Western peoples and Middle Eastern peoples? Or are you just making the Chomskyan point that differences among the elite policy makers themselves are often irrelevant to the actions Western governments are likely to take toward Middle Eastern countries?

    The latter is the point that it makes sense to me you would make, but the former is what you appear to be saying when your comment is read as a response to Kevin as he hasn’t said anything in conflict with the latter.

    I feel like I’m doing a lot of stating — perhaps overstating — the obvious here, but I’m trying to be clear. I’m also afraid I’ll end up coming off as accusatory when I’m really more puzzled. I’ve tried to lay out the mechanics of what appeared to me an unnecessary disagreement, although it’s always possible that it’s my perceptions that are off.

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