Let’s be honest here about “engaging” with a regime that hates us – it’s a risky move. President Obama can get away with this gamble because he casts himself as the polar opposite of George W. Bush (even though he’s adopting many of that former president’s policies). George W. Bush, after all, branded countries like Iran as being part of the “Axis of Evil” (North Korea is living up to that label). Liberals tend to not think of regimes as being “evil” and instead they are simply reacting to the “all powerful” United States.
Currently the struggle in Iran is between three forces:
- The current mullahs running Iran and their need to maintain control of their country by keeping Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.
- Iranians who seek to overthrow what they now see as discredited leadership by the mullahs.
- The desire of the “loser” Mir-Hossein Mousavi to become the next President of Iran.
As of right now, nobody knows who is going to win although the demonstrators are thus far out-numbered and out-gunned (the 2nd Amendment would have helped them greatly). The mullahs have bet everything on being able to intimidate the Iranians and appear ready to use as much force as they can muster to maintain power. Mir-Hossein Mousavi has cast himself as the reformer and the proverbial “good guy” (though in fact most of his policies towards the West are similar to those of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). Thus far, the demonstrators have shown a willingness to struggle against the Iranian regime with Mousavi as their front man. This could change depending upon events.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the demonstrators and Mousavi stay united and are successful in either getting the mullahs to back down and change the presidential election results or to overthrow them completely and establish a new Iranian government. What would be the reactions from Democrats and Liberals in the United States? Coming only weeks after President Obama’s speech in Cairo the logical assumption is that the conclusion will be that Obama brought “hope and change” to the peoples of Iran and that he was somehow responsible for the uprisings there.
These would be false conclusions based upon the Liberal myth of the failure of Conservative (e.g. “hardline”) ideas with respect to government.
Let’s go back to Ahmadinejad’s victory in 2005 first:
It was in mid 2005 that Ahmadinejad won a land-slide victory (62%) in the presidential election. As a presidential candidate he had promised to improve the lives of the poor and the lower classes by “putting petroleum income on people’s tables”. His campaign motto was “it is possible and we can do it”.
But between his victory in 2005 and the current election in 2009, the bottom fell out of the Iranian economy through mismanagement and the squandering of resources:
As inflation is rapidly approaching critical levels, economists and politicians have began to sound the alarms. There are now open calls for impeachment of several government ministers and although not openly mentioned, the moderates and some conservatives would like nothing more than impeaching the president himself.
Theoretically, a country with abundant natural resources and a young educated workforce should have no problem in economically growing rapidly. Alas Iranian economy, like most other oil dependent economies, is to a very large extent government owned and controlled. Hence all the pressure on the economy automatically becomes political pressure on the government.
Couple these economic difficulties (high inflation, gasoline rationing, high unemployment, corruption, etc…) with the fact that nearly 67% of Iranians are 25 or younger, and you begin to see how restlessness and revolt can ferment.
Enter Mousavi in 2009. Mousavi had been Prime Minister of Iran (this position was eliminated in 1989) from 1981 until 1989 but then retired from politics for almost 20 years as he fell from favor in the eyes of the mullahs. His campaign was based on not only opening up liberties for women but, more importantly, Conservative ideas of privatizing Iranian industry (all TV stations are state owned for example and Mousavi wants them to be privately run), attracting foreign investment into Iranian oil industries, as well as opening up other sectors of the economy to competition (something Liberals generally are against).
Iranians, yearning for more economic opportunity and chance to increase their incomes and “plug into” the global economy (all Conservative economic ideas), ran to the ballot box hoping the bloated, big government-loving Ahmadinejad would fall. When, only hours after the polls closed, Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in a landslide, Iranians became irate and took to the streets in protest. Events spiraled out of control as the mullahs didn’t see this one coming and we find ourselves in the situation we do now.
All of these events, however, had little to do with Obama’s ideas of “hope” and “change.” Those two ideals were and are key issues but not in the way Obama intended. In short, the seeds of the current conflict were planted years ago as Ahmadinejad continued failed Liberal economic policies of big government, a lack of economic competition, and continued nationalization of key areas of the Iranian economies which inevitably lead towards rationing. This fact is no different from President Obama’s desire to establish socialized health care in the U.S. that will inevitably lead towards the rationing of care just as the Iranians must ration gasoline because their state run enterprises are inefficient at meeting market conditions.
We have seen the same shift away from Liberal “big government” ideas in Europe in countries like Italy, France, and Germany (all led by Conservatives now) and the upcoming fall of the Liberal British government and its replacement by Conservatives. The same thing was to happen in Iran but the mullahs prevented it. That is why we are seeing riots… not because of Obama.
So, if Mousavi succeeds in taking power don’t believe American Liberals when they said it was because of Obama. This is not to say that Obama did not show Iranians that the U.S. was willing to “work” with the people of Iran but the forces that had been building in Iran which led to this moment did not start on January 20, 2009. Had the people of Iran felt that the election results were just and fair there would have been no protests. What is clear is that the mullahs certified the results too quickly and did not at least carefully manipulate the results so that there was a run-off (even if its results were to be decided in advance).
In fact, the overthrow of a dictatorship and the establishment of a democracy in Iraq probably had more influence than 1,000 Barack Obamas could ever have. But that’s not in the Liberal narrative so you won’t be reading about this anytime soon.