Revolution is Not a Spectator Sport

Like James Poulos, “I like the Iranian reformers more than I like the mass politics of solidarity by symbolism.”

As such, I’m sympathetic to John Cole in thinking that the rabid coverage of the Iranian election controversy by enthusiastic American bloggers who know next to nothing about Iran is overblown.  (I include myself in the decided non-expert on matters Persian category.) He’s right that many of us got carried away with the “Democracy, whiskey, sexy” bit during the heady days after successfully toppling Saddam Hussein before all hell broke loose in Iraq and that some of that vibe is apparent now.

Cheering from afar is harmless enough and if it makes you feel good to adorn your apparel and websites green, by all means do it.  It’s no less silly than wearing your favorite team’s jersey while you drink beer and watch them on TV.

But revolution isn’t a spectator sport.  Demonstrators are getting killed in Iran in outrage over what they believe was a stolen election.  Sadly, those deaths will likely be in vain, in that the mullahs will continue to rule and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will probably stay president.

The United States will stand by and do nothing.  We’re not going to dispatch our military to affect regime change to support the Green Twitter Revolution, or whatever the hell we’re calling it.  Nor should we.  This is the Iranian people’s fight.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Cole says:

    Thanks. That really is all I am saying. I hope for the best over there, but right now I just feel like I have been down this road before.

  2. We’ve all been down this road before. But sometimes what’s down this road is Poland or East Germany 1989. This is the road that subject peoples must take to reach a freer life. So we cheer them on and care about them and maybe indulge in silly symbolism because we are Americans and that makes us the allies of any man or woman ready to fight for freedom.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    James, if the U.S. had not intervened in Iraq, just as many Iraqis would have died under Saddam. The world would be a more dangerous place and Saddam or one of his gentle sons would have been in charge. Pleasant thought is it not? However, our President gave such a weak speech on the topic I believe he spoke more harshly about the killer of Dr. Tiller than the Iranian revolution in progress. The German Chancellor spoke out on the topic, in favor of the people. One would think the leader of the free world would have more to say than what Obama has said. I forgot, we are in a health care crisis that will take all his time to ram down our throats. He didn’t want to control the banks, but he is, he didn’t want to control the car companies but he is and he doesn’t want to socialize medicine but he will. This man lied to get elected and will lie to achieve his communist goals.

  4. James Joyner says:

    James, if the U.S. had not intervened in Iraq, just as many Iraqis would have died under Saddam.

    We have no way of knowing that. And we wouldn’t be responsible for it in any event.

    The world would be a more dangerous place and Saddam or one of his gentle sons would have been in charge.

    Probably right, at least in the long view.

    The German Chancellor spoke out on the topic, in favor of the people. One would think the leader of the free world would have more to say than what Obama has said.

    Obama is not a pundit, nor even chancellor of Germany. Words have to be chosen carefully in his position.

  5. Eric Florack says:

    We have no way of knowing that. And we wouldn’t be responsible for it in any event.

    Assuming we were really interested in an answer to the question, we might ask the Kurds about that, for example.

  6. Derrick says:

    Obama is not a pundit, nor even chancellor of Germany. Words have to be chosen carefully in his position.

    I doubt that calls that Mousavi is a German puppet of Angela Merkel will help the ruling party’s cause, but we know unfortunately what being called an “American” puppet would do to consolidate Ahmadinejad’s power. And if your priority is actually rooting for change in Iran instead of rooting against the Obama Administration, ZIII would be able to see this.

  7. So it doesn’t matter that Mousavi is or isn’t an American puppet, but only that he is called an American puppet by Ahmadinejad.

    Perception is reality. Welcome to Obamaland where presidents, emperors, and supreme leaders need not wear any clothing.

  8. Charles:

    Have you been following politics for long? Of course perception matters. If Mr. Obama bigfoots this he hurts the good guys and helps the bad guys. Is that what you’d like?

  9. Derrick says:

    Michael:

    That’s a much more substantitive response than Charles’s silly post about emperors deserved. Of course he knows that perception matters, but as I stated earlier he and others won’t let an Iranian revolution get in the way of petty potshots at Obama.