Friday, June 19, 2009

Iran & Grappling With What It Means

I'll be on the road and doing mostly roboposts for the next week or so, but I wanted to lay on some parting words as we approach the one-week anniversary of the protests in Iran.

Mesmerized by events in Iran, over the past few days I have found myself recalling the 2008 primary and general election campaign and my belief (tempered with brief outbursts of optimism) that even after eight years of darkness it would take nothing short of a miracle for Barack Obama to be elected. Could a miracle in Iran be in the offing?

Comparisons between Obama and Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi break down quickly. Given the substantial differences between American democracy and Iranian theocracy-democracy, comparisons between the coalition of voters that elected Obama and the coalition of demonstrators taking to the streets in Tehran and other cities don't have much currency beyond the fact that Iranians also are thirsty for change and have subsisted in darkness, although for a helluva lot longer than eight years.

But what I do know is that there has to be more than a casual connection between the sense of hope that Obama's victory engendered among many Americans -- and remains surprisingly strong seven months on -- and the sense of hope that the fervor over the Iran vote generated.

Much remains unclear about what is happening in Iran, and the crackdown on the press and transmission of images and communication is having the effect of less reliable information being available by the day.

But three things are clear:

Obama's response has been pitch perfect; we can only thank God that the Republican leadership is no longer in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

For the moment, no one is in control of events in Iran, while the government and especially the ayatollahs are busily trying to buy time.

Time is on their side, not the protesters.

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