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