(I try to keep politics out of this blog for a number of reasons, but nonetheless....)
I wish the people of Iran the best. I really do. Some observations.
- Right now nobody outside of the Iranian government really knows what happened with the vote.
- The election procedures as I understand them from the reports definitely look fishy.
- The Iranian protesters don't seem to want radical change; they want an explanation of what happened in this election.
- The protesters appear to acted overwhelmingly (if not completely - though any exceptions could be government provocateurs) in a calm and dignified manner.
- The reactions of the government look desperate and are completely ham-handed.
- Mousavi has a less than stellar record.
- The president in the Iranian system isn't as important as some people seem to think.
- Contrary to the opinion held in some quarters, Iran and the Iranian people aren't our enemies. Iranians had a legitimate complaint about the U.S. government in the late 1970s, and then again in the 1980s. Since then it has served the purposes of both American and Iranian politicians to continue the verbal sparing.
- We are fighting two wars in countries that happen to border Iran, so we cannot afford to significantly antagonize either side.
- Obama is right to say the foreign policy of Mousavi and Ahmadinejad would not be that much different (though tone does matter).
- Obama has played this right and Congress - most notably McCain - has not.
- We should butt out because we have enough problems to fix already.
- The demographics say that even if Ahmadinejad wins this time the next election will bring significant change.
Update 2009/06/29: Well, our ADD press has moved on from Iran to newer coups and the deaths of various celebrities. I'm pretty sure we in the U.S. won't know what really happened in the election for years. Regardless, the existing regime survived, and I think that is bad both for Iranians and the US. Tone matters, and Ahmadinejad has used the US as a foil for years. Obama won't take respond in kind for now, but he has set a semi-firm deadline at the beginning of next year for "action" on Iran's alleged nuclear program. The old pattern of unnecessary antagonism is likely to resume then.