MEDIA ALERT: Keith Olbermann’s Countdown On The Iranian Collapse of Faith in Their Government

-

keith_olbermann_068.jpg
I am in Los Angeles today and will be appearing on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown this evening shortly after 8 pm EST. The topic is Iran.
My colleague Flynt Leverett and his wife Hillary Mann Leverett have a provocative piece out called: “Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It.”
Generally, I agree with the Leveretts that America’s strategic course requires engagement with whoever Iran’s designated leadership is. Attempting to secure an arrangement that might preclude Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons must be at the top of America’s roster of national security priorities.
I believe that Ahmadinejad in the end probably would have won this race or had it rigged so that he would, but the level of electoral rigging seems so astounding that Iran’s citizens are not just going to let this go.
Whether the outside world believes Iran had a genuine democracy or not, the Iranian people for the most part strongly believe that they had a democracy with a theocratic foundation.
In fact, in the Iranian narrative, the United States robbed Iran of its real chance at democracy in 1953, when Prime Minister Mohammed Massadegh was overthrown in a coup with American support.
Now there is a strong possibility that a large number of Iranians feel that the current villain in robbing them of their democratic voice is a wing of their own government, including the Supreme Leader himself, and thus true believers in Iran’s Islamic revolution are now deeply divided and angry that a legitimacy that they believe they acquired has now been undermined.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

19 comments on “MEDIA ALERT: Keith Olbermann’s Countdown On The Iranian Collapse of Faith in Their Government

  1. Zathras says:

    To Dan Kervick’s question upthread, the Iranian regime’s manipulation of the vote count might have been more artfully done if it were concerned about appearances.
    Now, maybe it is, and substituted artifical-looking vote counts for the real ones in haste. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t.
    My point was that in the past, Iranian secular liberals, more moderate senior clerics and the intelligentsia have gotten walked over by the people now controlling the government. They were blocked, thwarted, neutered politically (and of course after 1979 were often abused in more dramatic ways)– I don’t want to say without putting up much of a fight, but certainly without giving the conservative mullahs or the security services much reason to fear their opposition. That opposition was treated with contempt before and is being treated with contempt now. Will that approach work for the regime this time? We’ll see.

    Reply

  2. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, it’s too bad Olbermann was so determined to cover the domestic politics angle. Gaffney? Ari Fleischer? Are they really a major part of the story today?
    I could see you trying to push back by insisting that this is about Iran right now. But no luck.

    Reply

  3. Basheert says:

    We too were astounded at the level of vote stealing during the election. It appeared to be a shove in the face at the opposition with no attempt being made at actually even counting ballots.
    Overkill but why? If it was to make a point, I’m sure most Persians were aware of the hardliners intent.
    It was just interesting that it was so obviously and blatantly rigged. Since no oversight was done, and there were no election monitors, they didn’t need to be so ham-handed did they? Elections can be stolen by relatively small margins which makes their theft difficult to prove or even insinuate.
    Or are they betting that outside of Iran, most people don’t care since our negative publicity of Iran is so obvious here in the U.S. especially with the past administration?

    Reply

  4. Dan Kervick says:

    Zathras:
    “It appears instead to have been the result of a plan designed to produce a margin for Ahmedinejad that could not be disputed (because the government controlled all the evidence and would not allow election observers from outside the country) and a result that the regime felt it could sustain over the ineffectual opposition of the same groups of Iranians it had walked all over after the Shah’s fall and Khatami’s election.”
    But Zathras, if there had been a careful plan behind this, wouldn’t the idea have been to release vote totals gradually, showing totals that looked regionally plausible, and with some oscillations in the margins, but which added up to the margin they were looking for in the end? The totals that came out instead were uniform by region, and were a bizarre straight-line function of time of release. A much more plausible looking progression of results could have been cooked up in a matter of a few hours. Also, there are a variety of reports – though there is no way to confirm them – allegedly from the interior ministry, that the people working their were interrupted, and told to replace the returns they were reporting with others. This all sounds like a hasty and crude operation.

    Reply

  5. arthurdecco says:

    “Whether the outside world believes Iran had a genuine democracy or not, the Iranian people for the most part strongly believe that they had a democracy with a theocratic foundation.” posted by Steve Clemons.
    The same could be said of Americans.
    Delusion knows no boundaries.

    Reply

  6. Zathras says:

    I wonder if we should be thinking less about 1953 and more about 1979 and 1997.
    Secular Iranian liberals and moderate clerics were instrumental both in forcing the Shah from power and later in electing the reformist Khatami President. Both times they were shouldered away from exercising real power by the conservative clerics and the security services. This is ground Iran’s ruling mullahs understand fairly well; they may have been unwilling to take their chances that Mousavi and Ahmedinejad would end up in a runoff, let alone that Mousavi might win in the first round.
    That still begs a question. Khatami was elected in 1997 by a wide margin in an election with very high voter participation, yet left the presidency years later having been thwarted, and fairly easily, in his efforts at reform. Why would Mousavi have been seen as more formidable, enough to fix an election? Or was the shock of Khatami’s election itself great enough that the clerical leadership resolved never to let such a thing happen again?
    I don’t know the answer, but note that some commentators have opined that the electoral manipulation over the weekend appeared clumsy and hastily prepared. It doesn’t look that way to me. It appears instead to have been the result of a plan designed to produce a margin for Ahmedinejad that could not be disputed (because the government controlled all the evidence and would not allow election observers from outside the country) and a result that the regime felt it could sustain over the ineffectual opposition of the same groups of Iranians it had walked all over after the Shah’s fall and Khatami’s election.
    It’s true the optics outside Iran are terrible, but the conservative clerics and the Iranian security services probably care least about that aspect of this situation.

    Reply

  7. samuelburke says:

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/06/14/irans-election-none-of-americas-business/
    Whenever there are election “irregularities” anywhere outside the U.S., American government officials have a bad habit of getting up on their high horses and lecturing the rest of the world on how best to conduct their own internal affairs. Never mind that the U.S. itself has only two officially recognized political parties, both of which are subsidized with tax dollars, and that any potential rivals must jump through a number of hoops to even get on the ballot. We’re a legend in our own minds – the world’s greatest “democracy” – and anyone who questions this dubious claim is immediately charged with “anti-Americanism.”
    Yet even if that were not the case – even if our democratic procedures were flawless – that still wouldn’t give the U.S. government any standing to pass judgment, because how Iran conducts its presidential elections is not a legitimate concern of the U.S. government. The idea that the occupant of the Oval Office must pass moral judgment on all events, including other countries’ elections, is a byproduct of America’s imperial pretensions and delusions of “world leadership.”
    The Israel lobby, which has been pushing for a U.S. confrontation with Iran, is revving up its engines even now to push harder for increased sanctions and other provocative moves by the U.S. Obama, I fear, will prove unable to resist all that pressure, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

    Reply

  8. Steve Clemons says:

    Bill R. — don’t know. I’ve been on a plane all day. Now in California at Universal Studios/Globe Theater. All I know is that it is a mess — and there is gunfire and lots of violence. best, steve

    Reply

  9. Bill R. says:

    Where’s the scoop, Steve? What is the inside story here? I expect more!!! Is Rafsanjani going to ? topple Khameini? Is Mousavi going to survive? What about your sources?

    Reply

  10. Kenneth D. Franks says:

    It is an Iranian issue. One of the major reasons the U.S. government is so suspect in any thing we try to do in the Region is that we have meddled and intervened where we should not have. This is especially true since the end of World War II.
    This has been a problem for us in other Regions of the globe also, but that is not the day’s topic.

    Reply

  11. JohnH says:

    Why so stupidly? Poor planning and lack of time.
    In the case of the Mexican elections the election was allegedly rigged in a slightly more sophisticated manner: Calderon was granted a handicap consisting of thousands of votes, which were counted right at the beginning of the tally. And then Calderon’s lead dwindled throughout the night as real votes got counted. This was pretty simple minded, but it kept the complicit foreign press and foreign policy circles at bay.
    In the case of Iran, they would have had to hidden their scam better than Mexico. While Western foreign policy circles were complicit in ignoring the scam in Mexico, because their candidate “won,” in Iran the scam would have had to have been better designed, because Western foreign policy circles were sure to have been critical of the result. This would have taken time.
    In Mexico, the loser staged massive protests for months, again largely ignored by the Western press and foreign policy circles, who just wanted the loser to go away.
    As we can see, the loser in Iran is getting massive foreign coverage.

    Reply

  12. MNPundit says:

    That seems to be a consensus. I am beginning to think it was going to end up being Ahmadi v. Mousavi in a run off, and based on the vote totals the other two candidates got, it was very likely Ahmadi would lose so they panicked. They seemed to have really believed Ahmadi would win handily, and thought Mousavi’s people would be angry so that’s why they started cutting communications earlier so that they would be no way for protesters to organize, but then they screwed up the vote-rigging so badly that people exploded.
    And now that they’ve killing people, they are pissing off even more of their own citizens. Even people who might not have supported Mousavi have got to be upset that they are killing fellow Iranians.

    Reply

  13. Dan Kervick says:

    The first sentence of my previous comment is from the user questions. I keep forgetting html tags are not enabled on this site.

    Reply

  14. Dan Kervick says:

    What I would love to know is why, if they rigged the vote, did they do it so stupidly?
    Well, Ahmadinejad is a man who believes the Holocaust didn’t occur, and who has claimed that the US government never released the names of those killed on 9/11, even though anyone who knows how to use the internet can find these names.
    So maybe he’s just a stupid man?
    Another possibility is that he never thought he would have to rig it, and so the rigging occurred on the fly, without any planning or forethought.

    Reply

  15. Dan Kervick says:

    I commented earlier on Leverett’s position on this crisis:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/06/the_streets_of/#comment-132111

    Reply

  16. jonst says:

    I don’t know who titled their essay. Themselves or an editor. But the “get over it” line is atrocious. And atrociously timed, as well. I could not think of much more one could do to defeat their own argument. Or at least put the reader in a hostile mind set to the argument. I like and respect the Leveretts….but this title alone is going to stick with them a long, long, time. Long after the words of essay are forgotten.

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    What I would love to know is why, if they rigged the vote, did they do it so stupidly? Was the landslide just there to nix a runoff? To show decidedly that right wing populism wins the day? To show that the Revolution lives? Or is there some underlying double-dealing? What’s wrong with 52-38-7-3, or the like? Did a generation of war do that much damage to their math skills (I ask in snark)?
    I’d also love a moment to consider the delicious irony of the generation of hostage taker/revolutionaries’ descending into crushing a revolution.
    And while we’re at it, I suppose I’d love a “person on the street” reading of the esprit d’Obama.

    Reply

  18. WigWag says:

    Looking forward to seeing you with Olbermann.
    Care to cast a vote on who you think is right about the Iranian election, Patrick Doherty or Juan Cole?
    Any thoughts on Andrew Sullivan calling Flynt Leverett “Ahmadinejad’s Useful Idiot” (see Daily Dish, 14 Jun 2009 06:58 pm)?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *