I think this is over by mattsteinglass
June 19, 2009, 3:27 am
Filed under: Iran

I cannot imagine this not leading to a change of government. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

It’s just too big, it’s going on for too many days, it’s in too many cities, and it’s too all-embracing. The regime has completely lost control of the space of public politics, and the opposition has been very skillful in taking it over. You can’t allow your opposition to develop a message so simple that everyone can embrace it. When you have a situation where all anyone needs to do to signal they’ve joined the opposition  is to step into the street and start walking, where all they have to do is cry “Allahu Akbar” and it means they want the President to resign and cancel the elections, you’ve lost.

Who knows, maybe I’m wrong. But I just can’t see Ahmadinejad holding on to power in the face of this.


12 Comments so far
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Fabulous blog! Pure genius about walking in street and saying God is great. Best explanation I’ve seen.

Comment by Indie17

Do you believe that the endgame is defined by the fate of Ahmadinejad? To this observer, the real struggle is whether Rafsanjani can mate Khamenei and his theocratic cronies. The game is to topple the king not one of its pawn.

Comment by Pietr Hitzig

I think that defines the game wrong. I don’t think Iran will cease to be an Islamic Republic. I don’t even think that’d be the “good” outcome from the Western point of view, in the near term at least. I don’t particularly care whether Rafsanjani mates Khamenei; I don’t much believe in that sort of personalized politics wrt other countries. We want an Iran that is open and outward-looking and cooperative, but we shouldn’t insist that it eliminate the substantial Islamic element from its governing system. Such a transition would entail civil war, which we don’t want — you never know who’s going to win. In the USSR we were all too happy when the orderly transition of Gorbachev’s glasnost gave way to the sudden “freedom” of Yeltsin and the shock-therapy technocrats. Ten years later, the KGB was back in power.

Comment by mattsteinglass

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an “Islamic Republic” per se, a constitutional theocracy akin to a constitutional monarchy would be a fabulous development in Iran, and a great light for the Islamic world. From the various checklists and manifesti I’ve seen show up in the coverage, that’s exactly what many of the reformists want: a capable and engaging, open and tolerant government with a positive Shi’a identity. It might just work. It might put their Muslim neighbors to shame and inspire real, indigenous reform in the places that need it most. Allahu Akhbar indeed.

Comment by clint

A constitutional theocracy in Iraq would be analogous to the situation in the United Kingdom, where Muslims, Catholics, and Nonconformists have to knuckle under to an Anglican Establishment. It may be horsefeathers philosophically, but there are much worse things.

Comment by rogerevans

This piece was insightful inspiring and eloquent. Thank you. Truly.

Comment by Arian

I did not mean to suggest that I favored one faction or the other. IMHO, Khameinei may already have already invested too much in the status quo and may not be able to save his political future by throwing Ahmadinejad to the wolves.

Even as late as 1791, the French constitution functioned in the rubric of a constitutional monarchy. That did not save Louis XVI’s neck.

Of course, I would hope that whatever happens the transition is not only relatively bloodless but also smooth in the model of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Comment by Pietr Hitzig

@Rogerevans – News to me that anyone in the UK has to ‘knuckle down’, at least not in the last 150 years or so, not least when we’ve had Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian, and Non-Conformist prime ministers. Sure, the Anglican church is the established church under the crown, but since the emancipation of Catholics etc. in the mid 19th century, this really hasn’t meant anything. Tony Blair’s reluctance to come out as a Catholic whilst in office was much more to do with the effect this might have on relations with the Pope. The exception to all this, of course, is Northern Ireland, where sectarian violence remains until this day, but the establishment of the Anglican church has no effect on this.

Comment by FOARP

@Matt – Not so sure. It really does depend on what the army does, nor should the possibility of civil war be entirely discounted.

Comment by FOARP

No, you’re right FOARP, it does depend, still, on the army and the RG. I guess it’s just that we’re seeing, especially with Khamenei’s sermon yesterday, just how much bloodshed and repression that would take this time around, and just how thoroughly discredited and repressive that would leave the regime. I think you’re right not to discount the possibility of civil war; it could turn into Zimbabwe.

Comment by Matt Steinglass

That’s it. You’re going on my blogroll. Love your words.

The following link made my heart smile the other day…check it out if you’ve got a second.

Peace All…

Comment by Forrester McLeod

[…] I think this is over I cannot imagine this not leading to a change of government. (Via Andrew Sullivan.) […]

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