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The dominos begin to fall

Iran Demonstrations Bush Doctrine

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#1 Drew

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 02:37 AM

Tehran protesters call for Khamenei's head.

Excerpt:

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Hundreds of demonstrators taking part in a third night of anti-government protests in Tehran called today for the execution of Iran's conservative supreme leader - an audacious move under the country's clerical regime, which has threatened a crackdown.

The pre-dawn protests constitute the biggest show of opposition to Iran's clerics in months.

"Khamenei, the traitor, must be hanged," the protesters chanted, referring Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The demonstrations took place around Tehran University and near the Intercontinental Hotel, in what constitutes the biggest show of opposition to Iran's clerics in months.

Criticism of the ayatollah is punished by imprisonment, and public calls for his death were unheard of until this week.

. . .

The nightly gatherings began as a protest over privatisation, but have escalated into calls for political prisoners to be freed and for a secular regime to be installed.

The newspaper Tose'eh yesterday urged them to "use their wisdom and awareness", warning that protests only played into the hands of the anti-reform lobby.

Debate over the pace and scope of reform has raged in the media and parliament for several years, although there is an informal agreement that street protests could have unforeseen consequences.

This week's demonstrators have also called for the resignation of the Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, a popularly elected reformist who they accuse of not pushing hard enough for change.

Mr Khatami does not have the power of the conservative clerics who control the judiciary, the security forces and other unelected bodies. But the clerics lack his popular support, leaving the two sides of government in stalemate.

With the revolution almost a quarter of a century old, a new generation has emerged which is less interested in the old consensus. Rising unemployment, despite healthy oil revenues, adds to their anger.

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#2 Ogami

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 02:52 AM

The Bush Doctrine in full swing, I love it.

Could it be that taking out Saddam would show the other oppressed peoples that they don't have to be under the thumb of a despot? The Iranians certainly think so. Excellent!

-Ogami

#3 Rov Judicata

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 02:59 AM

While this is certainly good news, let's not get overly optimistic. Protests, even among despotic regimes, happen. However, it is certainly surprising that they're so bold as to call for an execution. Here's hoping we did destabilize Iran's government enough for it to fall.
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#4 Ogami

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 03:16 AM

I think the entire process in the middle east is following the plot of Hot Shots, Part Deux.

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#5 Drew

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 04:01 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 13 2003, 11:03 AM, said:

While this is certainly good news, let's not get overly optimistic. Protests, even among despotic regimes, happen. However, it is certainly surprising that they're so bold as to call for an execution. Here's hoping we did destabilize Iran's government enough for it to fall.
Well, remember that the words "instability" and "Iran" have been kissin' cousins for quite some time.
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#6 Enmar

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 09:01 PM

Iran in different. The fact that there's a nuclear weapons development issue with it and the fact that it is very religious does not mean it is like the other countries in the middle east. It isn't.

The Iranian people always had high political awareness, they don't forget the days before the revolution. They might dress as the law requires  outside the houses but they wear jeans inside. There are satellite dishes everywhere and the demand for changes has been going around for a while.
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#7 Ogami

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 11:15 PM

I have a tidbit on why satellite dishes are banned. There is a pirate Iranian station run out of Los Angeles, they profiled it on 60 Minutes. The owner provides Iranians with "real news", not filtered by the radicals who run the country. It's his station that is the crime, that's why satellite dishes are banned. But it's not stopping the people from the truth.

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#8 Christopher

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 09:46 AM

Ogami, on Jun 13 2003, 11:53 AM, said:

The Bush Doctrine in full swing, I love it.

Could it be that taking out Saddam would show the other oppressed peoples that they don't have to be under the thumb of a despot? The Iranians certainly think so. Excellent!
Umm, "the Bush Doctrine" isn't responsible for this.  The young generation in Iran has been agitating for change for years now, before Dubya even knew where Iran was on the map.  And the Iranian regime brought it on themselves, by encouraging their people to breed prolifically, so that the current population of the country is something like half under 20.  Large generational cohorts of young adults are usually either the strongest voices of political change or the strongest generators of chaos, take your pick.  Let's not forget that 24 years ago, it was the protests of Iranian students that led to the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic Republic.  This is just the same pattern repeating itself, but in the other direction.

I will grant, though, that perhaps one reason the Iranian youth haven't spoken out more strongly against their government before is that they were more afraid of Saddam, and accepted the state as a strong defense against Iraqi aggression.  With Saddam out of power, that damper on resistance might have been removed.  That's only a guess, though.

But let's not forget -- those students 24 years ago wanted to get rid of a brutal, tyrannical regime (which we supported) and replace it with something that represented the interests of the people.  But things got out of control and, like probably 95% of all revolutions, it ultimately just replaced one ideological basis for tyranny with another, without making anything better for the people.  So let's not be so quick to assume this is a step toward the end of despotism.
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#9 Norville

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 12:43 PM

For an account of what it was like growing up during the Iranian revolution, please read Marjane Satrapi's PERSEPOLIS (it's a graphic novel that reminds me of Art Spiegelman's MAUS, very powerful).

Also, if you want to learn something more about Iran other than how evil and terrible it is, read SEARCHING FOR HASSAN, by Terence Ward, an American who actually grew up in Iran (but had to leave, with his family, when things got bad, then came back years later to look for an old friend). I'll never love Iran, but it's fascinating and more complex than we'd give it credit for being.

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The young generation in Iran has been agitating for change for years now, before Dubya even knew where Iran was on the map.

Quite.

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Let's not forget that 24 years ago, it was the protests of Iranian students that led to the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic Republic. This is just the same pattern repeating itself, but in the other direction.

A lot of people I've talked to since September 2001 don't appear to remember anything about the Iranian revolution. For some reason, it was an intense experience for me -- at 12 (almost 13) in 1980, I began to figure out that *gasp* the rest of the world didn't much like the USA, but having our people held hostage for so long really brought out my nationalism. I also knew a bunch of Middle Eastern students during that time, and had to balance my anger with my wanting to learn about them. I bet that my saying that will cause some strange person to say "What nice company you keep!" :sarcasm:

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But let's not forget -- those students 24 years ago wanted to get rid of a brutal, tyrannical regime (which we supported) and replace it with something that represented the interests of the people. But things got out of control and, like probably 95% of all revolutions, it ultimately just replaced one ideological basis for tyranny with another, without making anything better for the people.

I was kind of struck speechless when a politically-involved young guy at work said to me "But the Ayatollah Khomeini was much better than the Shah, wasn't he?" The depth of ignorance in that comment just left me unable to say anything. Yes, yes, of course, Khomeini was a wonderful guy... what with executions, and saying that the highest duty for a Muslim was to die for Islam, and the Iran/Iraq war, and stirring hatred for America... yes, he was sunshine. :sarcasm:

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So let's not be so quick to assume this is a step toward the end of despotism.

Indeed. I want to hear something beyond the party line of "the Bush Doctrine coming true".

I just hope that these Iranian protestors don't have an incident like China's Tiananmen Square, if anyone even remembers that now. (Well, I do... and so does my former history teacher mother... and when I told her I'd just read a book by a Chinese writer about the T.Square incident [SONS OF HEAVEN by Terrence Cheng] and commented "If you remember that...", she was a bit annoyed by my doubt. But as I said, I never know if anyone remembers anything these days...)
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#10 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 02:11 PM

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Chrisopher:Umm, "the Bush Doctrine" isn't responsible for this.

Christopher, I think you are vastly underestimating the value of the Bush Doctrine in this case.  The Bush Doctrine may not be responsible for the stirring up of sentiment against the government and that in of itself if the product of that governmentís actions over the years.  That said the Bush Doctrine is one of the central elements of this unfolding situation and to deny that is burying oneís head in the sand.  That said Iím sure some political commentators will do exactly that out of loathing for Bush.  

Iím sure as a scientist you are very familiar with the concept of a catalyst and the effect it has on a reaction.  In this case the Bush Doctrine is an extra strength amount of catalyst being dumped right into the simmering discontent of the people.  What we are seeing now is that reaction starting to rapidly accelerate and boil over because of that introduction of a catalyst.  I would suggest the removal of Saddam is only one factor in the complex role that the Bush Doctrine is playing in accelerate the expression of discontent with the Iranian government.  

The first thing I think I need to say clearly is that the Iranians who are protesting are not stupid and must see the changes in US doctrine for dealing with Rogue States and hostile governments.  They can see how the US government is reacting and pressuring their government and how the US government acted to depose Saddam.  If anything they are counting on the fact that if the government doesnít give into them or reacts violently against them that Washington will be breathing down their governmental necks like a blowtorch.  Here we can enter in the second part of the Bush doctrine equation.

Incase anyone hasnít noticed there is a mighty big concentration of US military power right across the border with Iran.  Iím sure that isnít lost on the Iranian protestors and we know their government is very much aware of it.  The protestors will feel more comfortable turning up their level of discontent because that US military power in their eyes means one of two things.  The Iranian government will restrain their threats and action against them and be more cooperative.  The last thing those in power want is the US leaning on them harder for cracking down or worse 7th Cav 3ID rolling into downtown Teheran.  The second thing is those protestors will see that the US doesnít like their government very much.

This leads to a feeling that if they launch a revolt that the US military is sitting right across the border ready to act as the cavalry if need be.  That means they have the security blanket of US military power if another Tiananmen Square Massacre occurs.  You must recall that US troops are already active along the border stopping Iranian terrorists and government agents from crossing into Iraq.  It is only a short hop over into Iran to support a revolution if it comes to that level and it needs US support.  So the Bush Doctrine is very much the reason why this discontentment has turned into the boiling cauldron that it is.

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 15 June 2003 - 02:11 PM.

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#11 Christopher

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 10:03 PM

Norville, on Jun 14 2003, 09:44 PM, said:

I was kind of struck speechless when a politically-involved young guy at work said to me "But the Ayatollah Khomeini was much better than the Shah, wasn't he?" The depth of ignorance in that comment just left me unable to say anything. Yes, yes, of course, Khomeini was a wonderful guy... what with executions, and saying that the highest duty for a Muslim was to die for Islam, and the Iran/Iraq war, and stirring hatred for America... yes, he was sunshine. :sarcasm:
Well, everything's relative.  Mohammed Reza Shah was a dictator who brutally repressed his people and condemned them to poverty in order to overbuild his military and indulge his appetites.  Khomeini was worse for us, but I daresay the Shah was probably worse to your rank-and-file Iranian national, especially a Muslim one.  Mohammed Reza was as ruthless and inflexible in his imposition of secularism as the Islamic Republic is in its fundamentalism.  Like I said, the degree of dictatorship didn't change, just the ideology driving it.

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I just hope that these Iranian protestors don't have an incident like China's Tiananmen Square...

Well, you never can tell.  Even if there is a crackdown, it won't necessarily lead to the suppression of the uprising; it could simply prompt an even bigger one.  Iran is not China; the forces and dynamics at play are different, and the history is different.  It seems to me that the "Tiananmen Square Massacre" (which actually happened several blocks away from the square -- the media coverage was very misleading) was one more iteration of a recurring pattern in Communist China, wherein periodically the state relaxes its control on voices of protest, those voices escalate to a level that the state finds threatening, and then the state cracks down again.  If there's a recurring pattern in modern Iranian history, it's one of periodic coups and violent overthrows of successive harsh regimes, heavily affected by Western meddling.  Reza Shah overthrew the incompetent, rapacious Qajars (who were kept in power by British and Russian support) in the '20s.  The populist leader Mosaddeq overthrew the brutal, rapacious Reza Shah Jr. in the '50s, but was soon overthrown right back by a CIA-backed coup that returned the Shah to power.  (And to be honest, in his brief reign Mosaddeq was heavy-handed and ineffectual, despite having huge popular support.)  A coalition of revolutionary forces dominated by Islamist fundamentalists overthrew the Shah again in 1979, and became the next bunch of oppressors.  There's a depressing regularity to it all.

To CJ Aegis: I take your point about a catalyst, and I did acknowledge that recent events in Iraq logically would have had some influence on events.  But I resist the use of propagandistic labels like "Bush Doctrine" which serve to polarize and oversimplify the discourse.

Edited by Christopher, 16 June 2003 - 12:54 AM.

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#12 Bad Wolf

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 10:44 PM

What I find highly ironic about this thread and most of the posts in it (Chris and Norville are the exceptions imo) is that yes, the dominoes are indeed falling.  Right toward another "tactical offensive" against the US's cherry picked foe of the month.

It's almost funny.  Almost.

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#13 Christopher

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 01:09 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jun 15 2003, 07:45 AM, said:

What I find highly ironic about this thread and most of the posts in it (Chris and Norville are the exceptions imo) is that yes, the dominoes are indeed falling.  Right toward another "tactical offensive" against the US's cherry picked foe of the month.
I really hope that's not the case.  The fact is, the Iranian hardliners aren't nearly as bad as Saddam.  True, you get arrested for speaking against them, but at least you don't get shot.  And yesterday the state actually arrested its own supporters to stop their attacks against the anti-state protestors.  That shows unexpected fairness -- although it may be that the state just doesn't want to undermine its legitimacy any further in the people's eyes.  But it does show that the hardline clerics are not incapable of reason and flexibility.  I really hope the administration sees that, and doesn't just assume that they're a bunch of fanatical "Eeeeeevildoers" who only understand brute force.  And although I have profound disagreements with the administration's policies and its fundamental worldview, I don't go so far as to consider it a rogue government.  There are some very reckless hawks in the administration who apparently think that brute force should be the first sanction against anyone who looks at us funny, but hopefully the moderates still have enough clout to keep them in check, and hopefully the Commander-in-Chief understands his responsibilities well enough to consider the use of force a last resort when he believes (rightly or wrongly) that all other options are exhausted.
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#14 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 01:46 AM

Quote

Christopher: To CJ Aegis: I take your point about a catalyst, and I did acknowledge that recent events in Iraq logically would have had some influence on events. But I resist the use of propagandistic labels like "Bush Doctrine" which serve to polarize and oversimplify the discourse.

I think your statement of recent events in Iraq had some influence was a trend toward polarizing and oversimplifying the situation in the other direction.  While the Bush Doctrine may not be the casual agent for the discontentment it is probably among the top reasons if not top reason for the mass expression of it at this present time.    

Quote

Lil: Right toward another "tactical offensive" against the US's cherry picked foe of the month.

I donít expect to see US troops moving unless Iranian protestors are cracked down on by the hardliners or there is a revolution against them that needs support.  Either situation is one where I think US troops or the threat of their intervening should be used to quell the situation.
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#15 Christopher

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 09:27 AM

CJ AEGIS, on Jun 15 2003, 10:47 AM, said:

I donít expect to see US troops moving unless Iranian protestors are cracked down on by the hardliners or there is a revolution against them that needs support.  Either situation is one where I think US troops or the threat of their intervening should be used to quell the situation.
Except that if we threaten to invade their country, we'll probably anger and alienate a lot of the Iranian masses whom we should be trying to strengthen our ties with.  And in the past, American intervention in Iran has done far more harm than good.
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#16 Bad Wolf

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 09:30 AM

Christopher, on Jun 15 2003, 03:28 PM, said:

And in the past, American intervention in Iran has done far more harm than good.
Unfortunately I don't expect considerations of that kind to play any role in the decision making process.

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#17 Ogami

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 09:51 AM

If we do invade Iran, I can picture what the Democrat mantra will be for 2004:

"Bush still has not uncovered any Mullahs in Iran, were we lied to?"

Edited by Ogami, 16 June 2003 - 09:51 AM.


#18 Bad Wolf

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 09:57 AM

^
LOL!!!!
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#19 tennyson

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 09:58 AM

I tend to worry more about the missiles, and chemical and nuclear facilities in Iran and what the Russians may have sold them to generate badly needed currency rather than internal political instability per se. As long as the reform process happens and we don't have a repeat of the events of 1987-1988 except this time with weapons of mass destruction I think I'll be happy. (For those who don't know, the US reflagged a series of primarily Kuwaiti oil tankers and began to escourt them through the Gulf to protect them from attacks from both sides in the Iran-Iraq War. Tensions escalated from Iranian speedboat attacks on tankers with RPGs to mining of the Gulf, into eventual open conflict between the US and Iran. Over a single day in April 19, 1988 the US destroyed two Iranian oil platforms that had been used as bases for attacks, sank the Iranian frigate Sahand, and severly damaged another frigate of the same class before Iran backed down and later was the accidental downing of an Iranian airliner that the Vincennes thought was an F-14 from Bandar Abbas.) I hope not to see the same level of tension.
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#20 Morrhigan

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Posted 16 June 2003 - 03:23 PM

I wonder who sold Iran more weapons... the former USSR, or the USA?

I'm afraid I haven't been paying close attention to what's going on in the aftermath of the Iraq war. What other dominoes are wobbling? Iran is the only one I've heard about.

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