Rising up

Related Articles

“Safe supply” is itself an addictive drug, and a political ideology

The progressives' insistence on "safe supply" has little to...

The progressives in Ottawa and at liberalvision CTV “News” aim to exhaust us with lies

When even the government-appointed "special Interlocutor" (LOL) is as...

Marco Misinformer

Lots of tweets this morning about Marco ("Misinformer") Mendicino,...

The Article

We could begin by blaming George W. Bush for what is now happening in Iran. Not for everything, of course—not even the crazy Left blames Bush for everything. But the whole intention of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to shake up the Middle East, and introduce some “regime change” into its darkest, most fetid corners.

The broad picture of Saddam Hussein going down—available even to the audiences of tightly-regulated State media—remains, indelible. Precedent is the cutting edge in politics and life; the breaching of taboos. Nothing is possible until it is shown to be possible.

Barack Obama deserves some credit, too. If nothing else, his Cairo speech persuaded those who want an end to tyranny in Iran, as elsewhere in the region, that they are now on their own. The U.S. isn’t going to help them. Instead, as Obama said, the U.S. is going to negotiate in “good faith”—with just such despicable regimes as that of the ayatollahs in Iran.

Quite possibly, in the grander scheme of things, Bush, followed by Obama, will prove a good thing. But if it ends badly, it will end very badly, in Islamist triumph, and perhaps nuclear war.

Of course, it is misleading to look at Iran in western terms. In addition to posing a huge nuclear threat, Iran is its own, very complex affair. The meaning of the current Iranian revolution is contained within Iran. Moreover, if it succeeds, that revolution has also the precedent of the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Nor is this the first mass uprising against the ayatollahs. It is probably the largest, but several previous have gone almost unreported in western media.

The recent election was not the cause, but the trigger, of what is suddenly happening on the streets. That the result was scripted is plain enough: for it was announced well before the votes could be counted. The rivalry between the factions of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, which began as a Punch-and-Judy between alternative puppets of the regime, has suddenly become bloody.

But Mousavi’s proposed modest reforms could hardly have excited the students, or the masses following in their train. At most they could imagine him as a potential Gorbachev; more likely as another Mohammad Khatami: a valve through which the regime might hope to release growing domestic pressure.

But, cherchez la femme! What made Mousavi the fuse for an explosive force was not himself, but his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. In the course of the election campaign, she ignored Islamist precedent, and took to the hustings on her husband’s behalf. This tiny grandmother, wearing regulation chador, but with very loud scarves, has wandered around the country lighting fires.

She has used her social authority as a grandmother—pillar of social order—to turn conventions upside down. Going well beyond her husband’s promises, she has demanded an end to discrimination against women, an end to the morality police, an end to supervision of the universities. It is she who has communicated to the students (in every Asian country the vanguard of the elite): “This is the moment to stand!”

Do I think the revolution will succeed? No, but I am not sure. The regime has already closed out foreign media, and the shootings have begun. I expect the revolution to end in a Tiananmen bloodbath (remember that this was not confined to Beijing; there were little Tienanmens happening all across China, and many had to be shot down).

But there are several reasons to hope. The first is the sheer scale of the uprising, and the confidence this inspires in the faint of heart. The second is practical: the regime has been shutting down Internet websites, but Twitter technology is keeping the revolutionists posted.

The third, and most important, is progressive loss of confidence within the regime itself. To understand this, we must realize that the Iranian leadership is quite unlike that of Communist politburos, or military dictatorships. There is a true range of opinion among the clerics, and it is anchored in genuine religious beliefs—however twisted these may seem to us, or indeed, to Iranians. Religious believers are capable of manifesting real uncertainty about what God requires.

Moreover, the loyalty of the old Revolutionary Guard is far from assured. The ayatollahs have reportedly brought in non-Persian-speaking goons from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and elsewhere, to do their dirty work in the past. Reports I’ve seen suggest they have become over-dependent on these “guest workers.” I’ve seen several (by their nature, unconfirmable) reports of the regime’s own police going over to the other side, or having to be confined to barracks.

The Beijing regime, in 1989, had its moment of uncertainty about the loyalty of its own Red Army. In their own interest, they acted just in time. With luck, the ayatollahs have left it a little too late.

David Warren
Latest posts by David Warren (see all)

You can use this form to give feedback to the editor. Say nice things or say hello. Or criticize if you must. 

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Your Message

    Do you Have a File to Send?

    If so, choose it below

    This is just a question to make sure you're not a robot:

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    — Normally this would be an ad. It's a doggy. —spot_img