Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Winds of Change

What's happening in Iran right now is incredibly exciting to me. The American perception of Iran is so highly distorted that I think even if this revolution fails in it's initial goal to challenge the presidential will still succeed in creating a paradigm shift of the West's perception of the country. Iran is a highly educated and progressive culture in comparison to other Middle Eastern cultures, i.e., Saudi Arabia.

I got into a pissing contest a few years ago with this woman who was advocating the use of nuclear weapons on Iran:

American Zombie: You drop the H-bomb, I'll drop the F-bomb: a discourse in insanity

In that article I said that if given time the younger, progressive generation in Iran would rise up and bring reform and democracy to the country. I had no idea it would happen so quickly but its incredibly exciting to witness....the birth of a democracy from the inside out.....not a forced democracy like we just attempted in Iraq.

The difference between the two countries (Iraq/Iran) is education...pure and simple. I truly believe that in the modern world, 99% of all global conflict can be resolved with diplomacy and education.

Obama's role in this conflict is going to be absolutely critical. I don't agree with his current guarded strategy. I think he has to recognize this as an extraordinary opportunity to leverage his current popularity and influence to empower the revolution....he needs to step up to the plate. Wether it fails or succeeds, this country needs to step up to the plate and support this movement.

I disagree with The Yellow blog's commentary that its not about us.....I think it is very much about us. Its about human rights, freedom, peace....solidarity. Even after the 8 year Bush nightmare, much of the world looks to this country as a guiding light. Contrary to popular belief...I think the majority of Iranians admire America and I think its important for us to show solidarity with those leading this revolution.

If what's happening in Iran doesn't excite you...shit...what does?


Leigh C. said...

The younger generation of Iranians is indeed rising up. What I worry about is the nebulous way in which they are rising up: can there be something that sustains reform better than simply the right to have a fair election? Iranians need to be demonstrating that they are willing to look beyond that more immediate goal into equality for women, real economic change, and a true willingness to not insert another cleric into the leadership mix...and I haven't seen much of that.

I really really WANT to, but I haven't seen it. And that's where Iran throws all of us in the West a curveball.

Anonymous said...

The return of American idealism?

Let's hope so.

I think we need to support the Iranian democrats with every vocal chord. America needs to stand up for democracy at all times. And yes it affects us at home.

Jason Brad Berry said...


_ Iranians need to be demonstrating that they are willing to look beyond that more immediate goal into equality for women, real economic change, and a true willingness to not insert another cleric into the leadership mix...and I haven't seen much of that.

actually the misogyny issue isn't so pronounced as you may assume.

Iranian women are actually put on a pedestal more often than not. It's a complex nation, but I can tell you that on the whole....there is an enormous respect for women.

Leigh C. said...

Ya know, if the country won't let Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Prize winner, leave the country without permission from her husband, that's still pretty infantile. Just saying.

Jason Brad Berry said...

I was referring to the actual culture...not government. Yeah the current government sucks and is absolutely repressive. But the culture of the country is not as repressive as you most Americans perceive it to be.

Anonymous said...

incredible display of naivete. I don't know wether to laugh or cry.

oysterboy said...

I agree with your overall assessment of Iran, and the historical misconceptions and distortions thereof.

I would like to offer up that Obama's more measured approach to dealing with the situation is exactly what's needed. This is the consensus of Middle East experts, along with many Iranian activists, here and abroad.

We already see Khamenei and other hardliners' efforts to characterize the movement as, at the very least, U.S.-enabled. Given our history in Iran, there's enough suspicion of U.S. intervention that just the implication of it could be used by the regime to force the hands of centrists. Now that AAK has deemed the vote to be valid, he'll be calling for acceptance of the results by those who may have been sitting on the fence waiting for "critical mass."

Ultimately, what has been lacking in our foreign policy for the past decade has been an intelligent, multifaceted, nuanced approach to situations that are about as complex as can be imagined.

Jason Brad Berry said...

- Ultimately, what has been lacking in our foreign policy for the past decade has been an intelligent, multifaceted, nuanced approach to situations that are about as complex as can be imagined.

Amen and amen.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Anon 2,

As far as not knowing what to do....why don't try actually saying something substantive.

nchapmanla said...

well, said...but i wonder what Cheney thinks....

Anonymous said...

Isn't it possible that Iraq's new democracy has somehow influenced the people of Iran at all? At the very least, i'd have to think it contributed to their new sense of empowerment...

Jason Brad Berry said...

Sure...i think it did. I didn't mean to imply that Iraq is a total failure, I don't believe it is. But I did mean to stress the importance of an educated populous and the Iraqi's cumulative level of education is nowhere near the level of Iran's populous. I just wanted to stress the importance of and educated populous and that's why i juxtaposed Iraq and Iran.

Subsequently, compared to Saudi Arabia....Iraq is much further down the trail. Saudi Arabia has purposely chosen to keep their "subjects" in ignorance. It amounts to the equivalent of a plantation mentality. It's no coincidence that such a large number of terrorists are coming from SA....just as its not a coincidence that New Orleans has such a high crime rate.

Wow....i just came up with a new post. Coming soon.

Jason Brad Berry said...


He's thinking about his next meal.....human heart.

Unknown said...

I really don't see where people are finding a "new Iranian democracy". The candidate Moussaui (a guess at the spelling) is not a newcomer, radical ,revolutionary, or populist. He has been in the upper circles of Iranian govt since the 80s. He was prime minister, then when HIS COUSIN Al Sistani, became Supreme Leader, Sistani eliminated the position of PM. The two have been political rivals for decades. Moussaui was ONE OF 4 candidates APPROVED BY THE SUPREME RULING COUNCIL out of a field of over 400.
What we are seeing is one elite politico seizing a popular urge for change IN TEHRAN and directing it into growing his own personal leverage. He's trying to do a Ukraine, -another situation in which a connected fella grabbed a popular feeling, though not really much of a rebel himself. I have seen no firm indication that the "huge groundswell of support" for Moussawi exists anywhere outside of the Tehrani middle class, in an overwhelmingly rural country.

Jason Brad Berry said...

I was looking at the 60,000 foot view. Trending towards democracy can't be a bad thing, no?

Anonymous said...

a very interesting fact is that nose jobs are a essential part of the youth culture (small noses=anti ethnic) in iran. those who work in television and film have them. students and young professionals have them. if you cannot afford one or your parents forbid it you can buy pre-made bandages in stores as a fashion accessory. also, in clothing stores, bandages are worn on the figures as fashion forward. i am not surprised that there is a movement toward westernization.

jlangenb said...

All excellent points Dambala but I disagree with your assertion that Obama must be more vocal in his opposition.

By saying very little he hasn't provided the Ayatollah / Ahmadinejad with ammunition to dismiss the demonstrators as victims of American manipulation. They can try to make it true, but the people of Iran know what's actually true.

As one Iranian said yesterday, "They think a blind man cannot see inside of a dark room." The people of Iran see the truth of the situation and all of a sudden it's becoming about a lot more than Moussavi and the election.

Even if the uprising fails this seems like the beginning of the end. As Frederick Douglas once said, "No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck. "

It's so inspiring to see this happen in my lifetime.

slate said...

I have been absolutely riveted by the situation in Iran. An hour ago one of the Iranians I've been following tweeted, "The militia just entered my house." Nothing since. That kind of connection with people a half a world away is astonishing in and of itself.

As for Mousavi (sp), he's still an anti-Israel, pro-nuke conservative. That having been said, he's progressive by the standards of the country. Hell, having his wife campaign with him was unprecedented. I probably wouldn't like his political stance, but applaud the people's decision to attempt removal of a theocracy. That is amazing.

As for Obama's stance:

One report I heard this week made a lot of sense to me, because my gut was screaming, "SAY SOMETHING!" The report said that his speeches reaching out to Iran, three in all including the Egypt speech, have completely disarmed Khameini in that he no longer has the "Great Satan" to use as a weapon in his rhetorical arsenal during Friday prayers. He can't blame us for this uprising, and that's saying a lot.

I also think that the support, worldwide, that the protesters are getting with everything from first aid info/links to proxy servers, shows the protesters that Americans and the rest of the West are NOT the caricature like creatures the theocracy has used to frighten them for decades.

After the Shah debacle, I think we do have to stay on the see saw, do the balancing act, decry the violence, give them moral support, let them know we ARE watching, and wait.

I wish that wasn't the case, but I think Obama can't wipe out our record of "interference" in a country's internal politics easily. We've historically been on the wrong side most of the time!

I do, however, wish the UN would step in boldly.

But you are right. This is fascinating and hopeful, and my heart is with them. I think Neda will become an iconic image for a very long time and this won't just go away.