Friday, June 19, 2009

Because I'm Too Lazy To Actually Talk About Iran

Real talk from the War Nerd, Gary Brecher:

But, to get coldblooded about it, so what? They’re not going to overthrow the state. I don’t usually like that word, “the state,” but I’m using it here because it works better than “Ahmedinajad.” He’s the official bad guy here, the classic bigmouth runt who wants Israel turned into a gravel pit and America turned into a colony of Venezuela. Hell, he’s all kinds of obnoxious, down to the ratty beard and beady eyes and the way he dresses like a hungover Soviet janitor.

But he’s not the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Even if he fell, the IRI, the real system, would barely wobble. The President is a mouthpiece; the real power is purposely divided up by a half dozen creepy Islamic gangs that never talk to the BBC or CNN. All of them are seriously armed; they’re mixed up in everything from religious seminars to land deals; they’re sleazy but smart, a bunch of mean old survivors.

Shockingly though, we also get some empathy:

They’re sick of it, which is easy to understand; living in the Islamic Republic of Iran must be a lot like going to a Catholic school where you never, ever graduate, where kissing is a felony and not wearing the uniform is a crime against God. Hell yes, they’re sick of it, and they have every right to be.

Honestly, the whole thing is a laff riot.

And don't think this cynicism is an Exiled thing, Slate sounds just as downcast:

Yet there is a limit to how much conservative forces will give. The last 10 years have seen the ascendance of members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to senior political and economic positions. Veterans of Iran's war with Iraq, they are committed to the current regime and are suspicious of any challenge to the system. They do not travel or meet with foreign reporters, but they are the country's power elite.


Mousavi himself is likely to disappoint. A prime minister in the 1980s, when the regime was far more revolutionary than it is today, he is a creature of the Iranian system. Indeed, in order to win approval to run for president in the first place, he had to pass an ideological and political litmus test that rejected more than 400 other candidates, leaving only Mousavi, Ahmadinejad, and two other establishment types. As prime minister, he approved Iran's effort to purchase nuclear technology from Pakistan, and during the 2009 campaign he defended Iran's nuclear program. Clearly he is an improvement over Ahmadinejad, but that is damning with the faintest praise.


It is possible that if he somehow won a new election Mousavi might prove to be a reformer in the Mikhail Gorbachev mode, pushing the dilapidated system so hard that it breaks. More likely, however, he will move away from some of Ahmadinejad's most obnoxious policies but not fundamentally change the nature of the regime. This betrayal would be the saddest cut of all for the brave Iranians who dream of freedom and are now risking their lives to put him in power.