Though the rumors of this blog’s demise have been exaggerated, the rumors of my laziness have not. I’ll be honest: I became extremely dissatisfied with my readership level compared to the effort I try to put into many of my entires here, and combined with the looming prospect of a move (now completed), I decided to take a break before returning and launching another PR offensive. The rebirth is still some time off since the internet at my new place is not yet up, but given recent events I would be remiss not to comment.

Revolutions have an odd way of often devouring themselves from the inside out. The Russian Revolution was supposed to usher in communism, but instead unleashed dictatorship and set the blueprint for communist revolutions throughout the Cold War. Africa and Latin America are littered with tales of freedom fighters turned bloodthirsty tyrants. It would now seem the 1979 Islamic Revolution is no excpetion. Having been unplugged from the newsfeed thanks to my recent move, I’ve been absolutely devouring any and all coverage of the Green Revolution and my impressions are threefold: first is that the supergovernment (the mullah’s who do the actual governing behind the republic’s democratic facade) have dealt themselves and their regime a serious blow by undermining their legitimacy (for an excellent overview check out this article from The Times, and this one from the Guardian). To raise the hopes and expectations of the possiblity of Ahmadinejad’s electoral defeat only to slam the door in the naiton’s face has succeeded only in closing off a critical safety valve. It’s common knowledge even in Iran that any election there is hinky at best, but even the motions of democracy are important in making the people feel as if they participate in their own government even if the substance doesn’t back it. And the regime can counter criticisms by, as so many other democracies-in-name-only, claiming their government is backed by the will of the people. With even this pretense gone the curtain has been pulled back and the Iranian people are now face to face with what their government really, truly is and it repulses them enough that they’ve been galvanized into mass action, showing an impressive display of coordination despite the regime shuttering cell phone and text messaging services nationwide (911 be damned, we have an election to steal) and closing off access to twitter and most social networking sites. Of course they may have forgotten that such things were hardly necessary when they overthrew the shah 30 years ago, and technology is hardly a requirement when the people are being fueled by an anger at their government not seen since the waning days of the Pahlavi dynasty.

On the flipside, there’s a very strong likelihood that, like the Hunagrian Uprising, Prague Spring, and Tianamen Square before it, the Green Revolution could collapse under the weight of the forces being thrown against it, both physical and political. While armed militias roam the streets and savagely beat protestors, today supreme leader Khameni has applied a political fig leaf to his earlier full throated endoresment of Ahmadinejad’s victory and announced the guardian council will in fact investigate the results. The likely outcome is perhaps a slight downward adjustment of his vote total, but will still certainly be high enough to avoid a runoff. However, even if Mousavi is declared the winner (unlikely as it would be that the government would admit to that degree of “mistake”) the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic has been dealt a serious if not crippling blow, and thus unless the US and Israel play into the mullahs’ hands by launching an attack, thus allowing them to stoke the flames of nationalism as they did in the war with Iraq, any likely outcome will result in at the least a dilution of their power as this election makes it unlikely another conservative president will be legitmately elected, at most possible overthrow of the entire rotten complex if the current protests continue and escalate.

Mention of the US and Israel brings me to my third conclusion: Ahmadinejad’s disputed election is in terms of diplomacy the best possible outcome for almost everyone outside Iran. The neighboring Arab autocracies can point to the current troubles of the Islamic Republic (whose very veneer of democracy they find threatening) and tell their people of the perils of elections. Israeli likudniks can milk this endlessly to build support for a preemptive strike, although to his credit Bibi has so far avoided rising to the bait. And unlike with Mousavi, Ahmadinejad’s preceding reputation makes it easier for Obama to walk away from negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions should things go pear shaped. Whereas the election of Mousavi would have allowed them to drag out negotiations further under the veneer of a “change” president like Obama himself while behind the scenes the mullahs would continue enriching uranium, and leave Obama in the quandary of having to undermine a relatively liberal leader in a country where such leadership is percieved to be desperately needed. This lack of strategic grasp of their situation can be placed next to the sky high rates of unemployment and inflation and rampant corruption on the list of the regime’s inept failures.

Whatever happens next, Iran has reached a point of no return. The curtain has been torn away, and the people now see their government for what it is. Without even the pretense of popular legitmacy the regime cannot, and hopefully will not survive in the face of a people already well schooled in the overthrow of dicatorship.  To paraphrase Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen (and elevate myself into the stratosphere of geekery), why should they save a government they no longer have any stake in?

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