Iran Aftermath: I Don’t Know Nothin’ But What I Read in the Newspaper

The Western media are continuing to react in stunned disbelief to the results of the Iranian election:

TEHRAN, June 13 (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday an election in which he secured another four-year term was “free and healthy”, rejecting allegations of irregularities by a moderate rival in the vote.

“People voted for my policies,” the conservative president said in a televised address a day after the disputed election, in his first post-election comment.

“It was a free and healthy election,” he said, without making direct reference to assertions by former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi that there were many violations in the vote.

As he was speaking, supporters of Mousavi clashed with police in various places in Tehran, chanting anti-Ahmadinejad slogans, witnesses said.

“Everybody should respect people’s vote … we need a calm atmosphere to build the country,” Ahmadinejad said.

Some Westerners are producing charts and graphs and claiming that the election can’t possibly have been legitimate. Not so says Nate Silver:

…there was more wave-to-wave variation in the Ahmadinejad-Moosavi results than the statistical analysis I cited above seems to imply. Ignoring votes for minor candidates, Ahmadinejad won a high of 70.4 percent of the votes in Wave 1, and a low of 62.3 percent in the votes newly added in Wave 6. By comparison, Obama’s share of the newly-added votes in our experiment ranged from 56.4 percent in Wave 3 to 44.7 percent in Wave 4. That’s slightly more variance than we saw in the Iranian results but not much.

To be clear, these results certainly do not prove that Iran’s election was clean. I have no particular reason to believe the results reported by the Interior Ministry. But I also don’t have any particular reason to disbelieve them, at least based on the statistical evidence. If Moosavi truly did have the support of a majority of Iran’s citizenry, the best evidence we will have of that is what happens in the streets of Tehran over the next days and weeks.

That was my reaction yesterday to the graph and why I didn’t comment on it. As the vote count rises, so do the totals of the candidates. So what? It proves nothing unless you’re taking that the vote was rigged as an assumption.

Gordon Robison has an excellent backgrounder on the Iranian electoral system and an analysis of the election which you might want to read in full. He proposes three alternative explanations for the outcome of the election:

  • The election was stolen.
  • There has been a coup.
  • Ahmadinejad got the most votes and won.

As I suggested yesterday the greatest casualty of this election isn’t Iranian democracy but the narrative being promulgated by the Western media that some sort of liberalizing reform was possible in Iran via the democratic process. The affirmation procedure that Iran’s elections embody isn’t worthy of the name “democracy”. The narrative could only have been produced by a combination of wishful thinking, argument from consequences, and Western journalists restricting their interviews to anybody they found in the bar of the Hilton (or the present day Iranian equivalent). And as many are saying today, Tehran is not Iran.

The protests and violent clashes in Iran that are being reported between those who are outraged over the election and the authorities will be put down. The Iranian authorities will use whatever level of force is necessary to do that. God is on their side.

Frankly, I doubt that we’ll see genuine reform in Iran until the revolutionary generation has faded from the scene, thirty or so years hence. Their successors won’t have the old revolutionary fervor.

I do think that this outcome places the Obama Administration in something of a pickle. There is little doubt in my mind that reelected President Ahmadinejad will intensity his rhetoric and be prepared to demand more concessions to come to the bargaining table. It takes two to negotiate. Do the Iranians think they need to?

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. G.A.Phillips says:

    I do think that this outcome places the Obama Administration in something of a pickle

    sinking in a vat of pickles.

  2. steve says:

    I think they will probably change in less than 30 years. Remember that more moderate types have help office before. Ahmadinejad is a populist who was successful, at least partially, because of the corruption of this predecessors. The economy there has functioned poorly under his rule. If that continues long enough, the poor, uneducated, very religious rural types will vote him out also. Religiously correct but incompetent can be voted out. The mullahs first allegiance is to themselves, not Ahmadinejad.

    That said, it is my understanding that their is personal animosity between Khameini and Mousavi. I have not followed this up yet. Is that true? Also, it will be difficult for any Iranian leader to function well with the division of power that they have, IMHO.

    Steve

  3. If these results are shown to be legit it will be hard for the MSM to continue spewing the absurd notion of an “Obama effect”.

  4. Bill H says:

    The election certainly gives the likes of John Bolton more ammunition. Sigh.

  5. steve says:

    Bolton? In his recent WSJ opinion piece he argues that Iran will behave rationally if bombed by Israel. The same guy who is arguing they need to be bombed because they are irrational.

    Steve

  6. An Interested Party says:

    The election certainly gives the likes of John Bolton more ammunition.

    I was puzzled by that statement too…how will any military action taken against Iran make its leaders act in the “right” way…

  7. Drew says:

    Looks like Obama needs to make another speech. One in N Korea, too.

    Of course, maybe those people don’t listen to the msm.

  8. Eric Florack says:

    The assumption that the election was rigged seems a reasonably safe one given both the candidates and the real center of power in Iran, the mullahs. this perception would seem to be furthered by the idea that the challenger in the election was arrested last night .

    (Side note; the use of government power against any opposition. Strikingly similar to something we’ve seen elsewhere.)

    The comments here about John Bolton strike me as amusing. Or, at least, they would if the topic involved word so serious. The reluctance to accept his word on these matters strikes me as a group of team players looking for some / any way out of agreeing that he had it right along.

    Regardless, it’s clear that Mr. Bolton does in fact have it correct. As I indicated last evening as regards both Iran, and North Korea they have been operating on the idea that their actions will not cause any refer cautions in the world. Being bombed by Israel, would shake that Iranian belief to its core, and most likely return them to something more closely resembling rationality.

  9. I think it’s fantasy that Iran will behave in ways we like if they are bombed.

    It’s pitifully easy for the Iranians to start firing missiles at passing ships in the Gulf. Our record of taking out missile launchers is not impressive. It’s easy for them to ramp up violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Someone needs to show me how we win an escalating confrontation with Iran. One hopes we’ll think it through before we head down that path.

    Nevertheless, I think this coup makes it more likely we’ll end up in a confrontation. The only up side is that we now have some potential human intelligence recruits.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    The only up side is that we now have some potential human intelligence recruits.

    If only that were true! I have my doubts. The mullahs were quite ruthless in how they treated even prospective informers 30 years ago. Remember all those executions? I have no reason to believe they’ll behave any differently now.

    These are largely the same guys as thirty years ago.

  11. steve says:

    Did you read Bolton’s piece? He ended up suggesting the only rational option for Iran is to use Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies to attack Israel. Therefore, Israel should attack Hamas and Hezbollah at the same time it bombs Iran. Where is Israel going to get the military to do that? If his prior arguments about about Iran being irrational are correct, why wouldnt they attempt to shut down oil supplies or send missiles against Israel? I just ask that Bolton be consistent and realistic.

    Steve

  12. Eric Florack says:

    It’s pitifully easy for the Iranians to start firing missiles at passing ships in the Gulf.

    Of itself, correct, but ignores the idea of retaliation… and the lack of retaliation is exactly why they’re acting the way they are thusfar. They think themselves invulnerable. Change that attitude, you change the complexion of the entire area.

    Where is Israel going to get the military to do that?

    This is not Hitler, for example, getting into a multi-front war,a nd getting his butt kicked. Both the west and the Russians had their own leadership and their own supply lines. Not so those you mention, being led and supplied by Iran.

    Ever notice that when Hamas/Hizbolaha is active, Iran itself is quiet? Each on their own is strong, since Iran, who is directing all of this, can concentrate both tactics and finances on one thing or the other. All together? Not so much, I suspect. Iran wouldn’t be able to maintain supply lines to all of those. More, I think they know it, and will start calculating more cautiously once a little reality is dropped n their lap

  13. Eric:

    I’m not convinced by psychoanalysis. I want to see power and potential.

  14. steve says:

    The logistics for the Israelis bombing Iran are pretty bad. It will take prety much their entire air force. That would leave them little air cover for the Hamas/Hezbollah attacks. The Israelis could easily handle any attempted invasion by hezbollah, but an invasion is another story. It may even pull in other groups. Hamas is inept and damaged, but they also fought against the Israeli elite in Gaza. I assume those guys go against Hezbollah.

    Everything I have read on bombing Iran sounds like less than a sure thing. They have the capabilities of developing hardened concrete. To the best of my knowledge we still do not have our 30,000 pound bunker busters ready, so I doubt Israel has anything of the same magnitude. I mostly read stuff out of the Army War college, but if you have a credible source saying the bombing has a high probability of success, please link.

    Add all this up with Israel’s aversion to risk (see Gaza), and this wold all be out of character. Bombing , yes. Three part attack, no. Even the bombing is a bit out of character as the Syrian and Iraq attacks were so much closer. Iran is further away and has had much time to prepare, though I am still a bit skeptical about Russian anti-air. I am even less sure about Iran;s air force.

    Steve

  15. Eric Florack says:

    I’m not convinced by psychoanalysis. I want to see power and potential.

    So too did the Brits, who figured the little rag tag would never be able to defeat the greatest fighting force on the planet.

    How’d that work out?

  16. An Interested Party says:

    (Side note; the use of government power against any opposition. Strikingly similar to something we’ve seen elsewhere.)

    Where would that “elsewhere” be?

    Being bombed by Israel, would shake that Iranian belief to its core, and most likely return them to something more closely resembling rationality.

    And the proof of that would be…

    So too did the Brits, who figured the little rag tag would never be able to defeat the greatest fighting force on the planet.

    A faulty comparison…in the first place, there is talk only about airstrikes on Iran, not ground troops…in the second place, that “little rag tag” was fighting guerrilla warfare to push out a foreign aggressor army…much in the same way the Iranians would possibly do if anyone could even find the troops to invade…

  17. Eric Florack says:

    Where would that “elsewhere” be?

    Oh, I dunno. Maybe, here.

    And the proof of that would be…

    Oh, far more than that of “Global warming”. History, for one thing.Or at least the threat of it. You’ll recall, perhaps how they got back into line the moment Regan took the oath of office? SOmeone they knew would attack if they didn’t, vs Carter who they knew would be kissing their backsides, instead of kicking them.

    .in the second place, that “little rag tag” was fighting guerrilla warfare to push out a foreign aggressor army.

    LOL… and that’s different from the American Revolution, how? What were our armines after all if not guerrillas? Certainly, that’s how the Brits cast them… You’re so convinced they can’t beat us, and yet you point to the factor that would make the difference.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Oh, I dunno. Maybe, here.

    So Nancy Pelosi (because she wants to prosecute some Bush Administration officials who might have broken the law) is now the same as the mullahs in Iran? No wonder you are so paranoid about Democrats if you believe that nonsense…

    You’ll recall, perhaps how they got back into line the moment Regan took the oath of office? SOmeone they knew would attack if they didn’t, vs Carter who they knew would be kissing their backsides, instead of kicking them.

    I see, so the Iranians released the hostages not because they no longer perceived any advantage in holding them, but rather, because they were quaking in their boots because they thought Reagan would blow them away? Wow, that’s some interesting logic there…amazing that a few years later they didn’t mind doing shady deals with his administration…I guess they lost their fear of him by that point…

    LOL… and that’s different from the American Revolution, how? What were our armines after all if not guerrillas?

    You’re confused (yes, I know, hardly surprising)…of course our armies were the guerrillas fighting to push out a foreign aggressor…much like the Iranians might turn to guerrilla warfare if a foreign aggressor tried to invade their country…to paraphrase…how would that work out…

  19. How’d that work out?

    It worked out as one might expect given that the British had a 3000 mile supply line it took a month or more to cross, they were fighting an indigenous population and we had the French fleet and components of their army on our side.

    The romantic notion of warfare died when French soldiers filled with elan and esprit tried to elan their way past German machine guns in 1914.

    It’s about power. Narrow gulf, plenty of anti-ship missiles, lots of big slow tankers all of which need to be insured before they can sail. We can’t do it with air and seapower alone and we flat out do not have the ground forces or the transport or the money or the will to invade Iran.

    Which means we lose unless we are willing to do some very, very harsh things. Unlike most Americans I’m willing to talk about those things, but I’m not going ti support another war based on lame assumptions. Fool me once . . .

  20. The Strategic MC says:

    “Our record of taking out missile launchers is not impressive.”

    In the case of the Iranian Coastal Defense Cruise Missile (CDCM) sites, we’ve never tried.

    Back in the late 80’s (Operation Preying Mantis, April 1988), we deliberately avoided taking out these sites for fear of escalating our conflict with Iran. Instead, we shot down those missiles that were launched at our ships and sank or severely damaged their best naval platforms. They were completely at our mercy, but we pulled our punches. The end-game status of the Iran-Iraq War was a big consideration, as I recall.

    Back to the problem at hand. We probably have targeted (coordinates known, targeting packages planned) all of their known CDCM sites and supporting equipment. As I’m not overly impressed with their IADS (Integrated Air Defense System), taking this stuff out is not the most severe challenge that we would face in a confrontation with Iran.

    Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz? The risk here can be managed (Close the strait for a few days, provide air defense to Gulf arab ports and oil facilities, naval escorts as required), but how much do you want to pay for gas?

  21. The Strategic MC says:

    “We can’t do it with air and seapower alone…”

    Why not?

    Iran’s Air and Naval Orders of Battle are quite finite and inferior in almost every measure to what we could bring to bear with just 2 Carrier Strike Groups and a handful of submarines.

    We don’t need to take territory (“…ground forces or the transport or the money or the will to invade Iran”), we only need to destroy their limited power projection capabilities.

  22. Why not?

    Because we have no demonstrated capacity to take out mobile missile launchers. We chased SCUDS all over Iraq in the run-up to the Kuwait war and accomplished just about nothing.

    All the Iranians have to do is sink one supertanker in the straits. Insurance will dry up and the oil spigot is closed.

    Hundreds of miles of coastline. Thousands of vulnerable ships and tankers within easy reach.

    And that’s not even getting into Hamas and Hezbollah. Or Iraqi Shiites allied to Iran. Or Iranian mischief in Afghanistan.

    The map is against us. The idea that we can secure the flow of oil through the Gulf with air and naval forces alone is a neo-con fantasy. We could have literally years of Iranian’s firing missiles at passing ships or sending small craft suicide squads after them.

    This is not a fight we want.

  23. Eric Florack says:

    but how much do you want to pay for gas?

    A point which would nt be an issue, had we actually followed through with offshore drilling instead of blocking it as Obama did. Obama’s idiocy gave them a weapon to use against us.

  24. An Interested Party says:

    Obama’s idiocy gave them a weapon to use against us.

    Maybe he’s a deep cover Islamic secret agent and that was part of the evil master plan…