Monthly Archives: June 2009

Iran’s ‘Zimbabwe’ Option

The political turmoil in Iran over the past two weeks was no “Color” Revolution in the sense that much of the Western media imagined it, superimposing the narratives of the fall of Eastern European regimes (in the way that a 24-hour cable news culture is prone to do) on a situation whose dynamics and character was profoundly different. Iran’s electoral contest was always, first and foremost, a battle between rival factions of the regime. And what brought the protesters out into the streets was that the ruling faction so blatantly broke the system’s own rules during the election…

…Khamenei and Ahmadinejad may well find that the cost of stealing the election is actually diminished authority within the regime. The battle is far from over, even if it’s not being fought primarily on the streets. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad would like to impose something akin to what Robert Mugabe did in Zimbabwe, when he lost the election but stayed in power, with his opponent in a subordinate role. While Mousavi is very much part of the regime, he may have reason to believe he can do better than Tsvangirai, though…

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… on Lebanon/Iran democracy claims

Elliot Abrams isn’t telling you the whole truth about Lebanese democracy Continue reading

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Obama, the Holocaust and the Palestinians

The line in last Friday’s New York Times summed it up: Some Israelis and their American supporters are furious with President Barack Obama, the Times reported, because they saw his Cairo speech as “elevating the Palestinians to equal status.” And those who would be threatened by Palestinians being viewed as equal human beings to Israelis may have reason to be concerned. That’s because whatever its policy implications — and the jury is very much still out on those — Obama’s Cairo speech marked a profound conceptual shift in official Washington’s discourse on the nature and causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of America’s obligations to each side. So much so that one as prone pessimism as I was before the speech was forced to note that the reason Israel’s more right-wing supporters are worried is that, rhetorically at least, Obama was trying to move the U.S. position towards one of an honest broker. Continue reading

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Can Obama Offer Change the Muslim World Can Believe In?

The breakdown between the U.S. and “the Muslim world” is not a misunderstanding of values, or a communication failure; it’s entirely about U.S. actions and policies, rather than the rhetoric in which they’re wrapped. People in Muslim countries understand American values, or the values America professes to uphold, and many are passionately attached to some of those same values. What they expect of America is that it apply its own values when dealing with the Middle East. They would like very much, for example, the U.S. to act on that basis of Lincoln’s “self evident truth” that Palestinian men and women were created equal to Israeli men and women — an approach Obama’s own Administration has yet to demonstrate. Continue reading

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