- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

Iran election… Continued (2)

continued from here.

Comments Disabled (Open | Close)

Comments Disabled To "Iran election… Continued (2)"

#1 Comment By Ronit On June 19, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

Peggy Noonan was pretty awesome today:

#2 Comment By sophmom On June 19, 2009 @ 6:35 pm


Terrific article. She really captures the story within the story, the layers contained within this revolt of 2009.

I am fairly awestruck with the role that internet communications are playing in this whole drama. I think that Ahmadinejad and “company”, must feel at least as broadsided by their ignorance of the power of the web, as McCain was by the advantages Obama gained in harnessing it.

#3 Comment By PTC On June 19, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

Does it matter to us who wins?

How much has the invasion of Iraq influenced this… and how? Is there something to the Bush doctrine… in terms of the ability of a policy like that to be followed by another president and used to create something knew?

Would “we” be here without OIF? If not, where would US policy be?

#4 Comment By PTC On June 19, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

lol…should read new… sorry…

and by the way… where would we be in Iran without OIF?

#5 Comment By David On June 19, 2009 @ 7:57 pm


It would be polite to include a link to at least one Eph commentator when you post something like this. Fortunately, that is easy to do! Ephs like Dan Drezner, Marc Lynch and Derek Catsam blog about almost every foreign policy topic under the sun. So, just provide a link to their thoughts on Iran, add your own (and other material, like this image) and you are well within the range of All Things Eph.

#6 Comment By PTC On June 19, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

David- Where would we be in an Iran without OIF?

My thoughts are… impossible to say? I believe that the war in Iraq has helped build this current situation in Iran towards our advantage… but what is the metric? I doubt one can be measured. Am I wrong?

Certainly, I know for sure, the war in Iraq has had an effect on things in Iran, just like the election of Obama has. Perhaps the combination of Bush/ Obama has made this possible? Does it matter?

As far as blogging with other ephs about such matters… masters of the obvious is easy… not so easily well written perhaps, but easy none the less. So, I am asking this hard question.

#7 Comment By kthomas On June 19, 2009 @ 9:15 pm


This is both an ongoing ‘Featured’ discussion and a series of longer discussions in which a number of Ephs have, shall we say, dogs in the race. I’ve made some slight modifications to indicate the series; perhaps the inchoate EB tech/editorial team could help authors out…?

Anyway, to please your interest:


A certain EphDad made more or less this argument in the NYT a few days ago [link?], though I don’t think he made much traction. The basic idea, as you seem to outline, is that OIF opened the possibility of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ in the region.

That’s a hard question to judge from this moment in history– what I thought, in response, is that by eliminating the direct Iran-Iraq standoff, some space may have been opened.

I just spent a few hours at the demonstration here in Nashville (and afterwards), hard to find any summary of (I will still be struggling with Farsi for some time). After the march had quieted down– appreciate the presence of the ‘lefties’ who moved on to the next demonstration, one of whom, in tie-die, carried a “Free Tibet” sign — I had to ask, “well, where do we go from here?”

An older man’s son, in his teens, spoke up– “Well, we’re in Nashville.” I strained to hear his father’s response– to separate the works in my mind and catch what I might– I caught the phrase for “we’re in Nashvile,” then “e- exili”– we are exiles.

Though I’m also trying to write some things up for publication, nothing in this conflict is clear to me. There a hundred unresolved questions in my head– and aspects that aren’t public– and there were clear signs that this was in the air, of course.

Was Mousavi as surprised by this ‘electoral coup’ as the Obrador administration, or is he a careful architect positioning elements on a chess board– that was partially of his own construction, after all? What has he been doing for the past twenty years, and have his opinions changed? How did this electoral system work (are those reports that there were more Basiji at some of the polling stations, than voters, true?) How can we understand the situation on the ground– the possible scenarios– both from a direct US interest, and with a view to the long-term?

The Nashville exiles– are of course political exiles, families who could not have stayed, and lived; some may have had relatives who died for the Shah’s regime; others, for the (…-backed) Mujaheddin. They chanted slogans, old and new, and turned to the old national anthem.

‘Ba’ad ba’ad dictatuur;’ — death to the dictator– ‘ba’ad basiji’– death to the militias. And then they chant in support of Moussavi, democracy and freedom for Iran. They hold signs: “Where is my vote?”, which take my memory back to the Zocalo.

Why does this group identify with Moussavi? How much do they know– do they support Moussavi’s policies and platform? Do they expect Moussavi to work towards the freedoms they have enjoyed in the West– and would Moussavi? What would Moussavi do, if the women of Iran, began removing their headscarves during the demonstrations?

Who is in control, of the pieces on the board?

#8 Comment By frank uible On June 19, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

There is the outside chance that in 50 years hindsight will tell the vast majority of us that OIF was more than worth its cost in blood and treasure, whereupon in such event all you political partisans who have savaged Bush the Younger will, of course, contritely come forth, acknowledge your errors and profusely and publicly apologize to him and the people of the world.

#9 Comment By sophmom On June 20, 2009 @ 1:22 am

The whole idea that OIF has been worth it’s cost and that Bush will be viewed in a more positive light because of what is now occurring, is absurd, IMO. Iraq is no model of “golden democracy”. Far, far from it.

If anything on our part will be viewed as instrumental in inspiring a desire for change, it will have been the election of Obama, culminating in his speech in Cairo. And the other impetus behind the push for Moussavi, (despite all the ways in which he doesn’t measure up as a true reformer) is Ahmadinejad’s inability to prevent a failing economy…along with all his other…ahem…obvious shortcomings.

#10 Comment By PTC On June 20, 2009 @ 1:28 am

Frank- I do not think there is any way we will ever be able to measure that.

What I find more interesting… is the “ying and the yang”… the effect of having an Obama type following a Bush type. How that kind of transition changes the landscape. Like Reagan following Carter. Big events happened after that shift.

Also, A quick look at a map …. OIF and OEF has to be having some kind of an impact.


We need insiders to comment.

#11 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On June 20, 2009 @ 2:45 am


I’ve listened to the ~90m of the Ahmadinejad-Moussavi debate once in Farsi (after less than a week of cramming– a questionable and dubious exercise) and 10m of “highlights” with English subtitles.

Ahmadinejad undermined himself continually by base, ad hominem attacks: while these moves may have “played” to his ‘base’ of supporters, they lower his ‘auctoritas’; .. “on first viewing.” It is easy to see the ‘dic-tat-tor’, in a speaker who takes such punches, against those who oppose.

And maybe it’s a streetfight, and the opponents, are also not “gentlemen.”

Time’s (and others’) analysis also seems valid: Ahmadinejad named, specifically, those who have become “billionares” via corruption. It seems difficult to ignore the boldness of this move in the game– how incredibly destabilizing it was, how it ripped the veils off — of the arrangements of power– and it is hard to judge, whether it was an act of desperation, or simply foolhardy– or — courage.

Desperation? How could Ahmadinejad, the “frontrunner,” the “heir apparent,”– how– for what– what can he have been ‘desperate’ to achieve, to engage in such a gambit?

Yet it is usually the actor who defines the terms of the confrontation (the debate) who wins (prevails) — and it appears Ahmadinejad was the person who defined the terms. Why? What was– is– his intent?

Moussavi seems to have stumbled though– he seems vague– he seems to have bene taken aback, by the public revelations, by the exposure of internal conflicts and accusations against the justice and legitimacy of the regime.

And it seems to have been Ahmadinejad, who opened the Pandora’s box of these accusations against the clerical regime.

WHY? For what reason– would he possibly have done that– in a situation in which, by any obvious analysis of the situation, he would have been the “winner?”

Can he possibly– have been so bold and daring– to undermine the political structure which supported him– to cut the hands that feed– in a daring risk– to achieve his own vision?

What is that vision?

That’s a very quick “reading,” through a very cloudy and distorted lens, “of course–“

#12 Comment By frank uible On June 20, 2009 @ 5:50 am

In my brief lifetime Americans in high places unpreparedly and frequently arrogantly have failed to foresee the possibility of the occurrence of numerous major international events such as Pearl Harbor, the Bulge, the invasion of South Korea, the Suez crisis, the Cuban missile crisis, the Tet offensive, the fall of the Shah, 9/11 – and cravenly after the fact seldom have publicly acknowledged their failings.

#13 Comment By frank uible On June 20, 2009 @ 6:00 am

To whom do I send my resignation from the human race?

#14 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On June 21, 2009 @ 2:27 am

(From a to-be-anonymous reader), hauntingly sad and desperate words from the rooftops of Tehran:

For those following the footage of Basiji firing on the streets from elevated positions, also a respite– if a reminder, of why we have a movement from the rooftops.

#15 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 4:52 am

One of the things that does not surprise me in the videos coming from Iran is the large amount of police brutality perpetrated on women. Beatings and murder.

Anger towards women expressed in violence and repression is common in Muslim culture. It’s hard to watch. The abusive treatment of women is the first thing that sticks out in my mind whenever I reflect on my time in Sharia dominated societies.

I suspect this is hard to deal with for moderate Persians who have a lot of pride in their history. This abuse is denied often, and if not denied, certainly not discussed as a problem. It is huge black mark on the culture, actively and passively accepted by many Muslims, it is the #1 problem of that society.

#16 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 5:05 am

The “Supreme Leader” has strongly backed the election results and harshly rebuked the protestors. This will get much more violent if the protests continue. The regime is going to hammer down.

#17 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 5:20 am

It appears…that many are reacting- this kind of denial and shame may be bursting taking form as a rallying cry…


#18 Comment By nuts On June 21, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

In this report, some protesters are called terrorists by the police while the para-military Basij, who are accountable only to the Supreme Leader and who have been brutalizing and killing (peaceful) protesters, are not called terrorists.


#19 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

nuts- Exactly. And the opposition?- More of the same with different handlers.


Iran is one step away from the bomb. The west cannot let that happen.

#20 Comment By nuts On June 21, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

“The west cannot let that happen.” …but the west can allow Israel to have nukes? Pakistan? Is it about who we trust or a belief that the weapons’ existence no matter who holds them is an existential threat, in which case shouldn’t we rid the world of them?

#21 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

It is about who we can trust. ie.. no one, but in particular, a nation like Iran.

We did not have enough visibility on Pakistan and India. We do on Iran. There is no reason for us to let it happen… not when we can stop it.

#22 Comment By nuts On June 21, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

We may need the moral high ground of even handedness in order to effect the outcome you desire. IE How can the US deny Iran nukes when Israel holds them? Think about it.

#23 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

nuts- Easy answer. Israel is an ally, Iran is an enemy.

You are not making sense.

#24 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

Not to mention… Israel already has them… once you have them… well… you have them. Again nuts.. that argument makes no sense.

#25 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

Why should’nt every nation on earth have them? Think about it?

#26 Comment By eyetolduso On June 21, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

MAD is the only hope for middle-east peace over the long haul. Iran is as entitled as any other middle-east nation to have nuclear capabilities. The destabilizing nation is Israel, not due to its politics but due to its nuclear weapons. Every morning all of its neighbors lead stories should be today and any day be can be wiped off the face of the earth because Israel has missles aimed at us that can hit in less than 10 minutes. Please don’t argue that democracies don’t use nukes, we did and claimed it saved lives. Beyond any of that it is none of our business.

#27 Comment By Henry Bass On June 21, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

The Iran protests are thrilling to those of us commited to nonviolent action. The Iran protests may not lead to victory in the short run. But, I have no doubt that they are the start of a movement that will prevail in the long run. The heroic protestors are laying the seeds of a new Iran. The reason the Iran leadership is panicing is that the see that history is on the side of those in the streets. Somthing wonderful is going to come out of this.

#28 Comment By Ronit On June 21, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

#29 Comment By PTC On June 21, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

I am so sorry… we are at war.

#30 Comment By Ronit On June 22, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

Bill Bennett wants to shower the Iranian people with “duplication machines”, presumably to cause deaths by blunt trauma:


#31 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

Henry- I respectfully disagree. What we are watching is a power struggle amongst the polity as it is aligned with the theocrats. Both the leaders in this play are members of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It is an internal power struggle that involves the clerics and the Supreme Leader… a civil power play for power within the structure rather than any real form of change.

I think we should be very careful about how we identify with this current Iranian strife. Although the actors may look western, and the thing has a “feel” or “look” like our 60s movement, it is important to remember that whoever wins will be supporting a brutal dictatorship that is responsible for hundreds of American deaths every year…. The actors in this play will continue to kill Americans and promote terrorism in the west, no matter who wins.

#32 Comment By rory On June 22, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

Iran is responsible for hundred of American deaths every year? If “number of deaths “caused” by something” were the metric for importance to American daily life, Iran’s dictatorship would rank somewhere below “working” and “accidents” involving newborn children in importance.


#33 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

rory- It’s not funny. I guess I can understand the snark due to ignorance… but it really is, not funny.


#34 Comment By rory On June 22, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

actually, ptc, i was hoping you were making some other claim i hadn’t yet seen seriouslyput into question. oh well.

from your google search, the following links appears on the first page:


add in “debunk” and you get these:



#35 Comment By Henry Bass On June 22, 2009 @ 6:43 pm


It is not just a power struggle between two factions of Islamic crazies. It is a struggle for democracy against a dictatorship. The Iranian people desperately want economic progress. They want a rational governemnt. The existing regime can only cling to power by using the US as a scapegoat. The reformers will deliver more to the people in their hopes for economic progress and a voice in their government. The reformers will not have to use the US as a scapegoat and will have much to gain by burrying the hatchet with the US. Polls show Americans are quite popular with the Iranian people. They see us as an example of what they would like to be.

The neorealists in the Obama administration wrongly do not see much difference between the two sides. They do not see that democracy is not static but dynamic. The reformers will not find it easy to steal the next election if they prevail. The other side if it wins could outlast the Cuban regime in years. If the reformers win they will have to deliver. And this will stimulate more change than they have so far dreamed of. Just as 1776 delivered more change that our founders could not imagine.

#36 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

Rory- Debunked by whom? Some crackpot left org with a blog and an agenda? Iranian counter Intel organizations?

Not exactly the UK Telegraph and CBS news… or reality. Next you are going to claim what… that Iran does not sponsor terrorism?

Henry- I see an internal struggle of the status quo. You are correct in that it could lead to more in the future… but that is an assumption, not a given. Hope is a good thing. This is better than nothing I suppose… but certainly not 1776.

#37 Comment By frank uible On June 22, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

An election over which person will be the governing despot contains an element of consensual government, however minor.

#38 Comment By Ronit On June 22, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

I see an internal struggle of the status quo. You are correct in that it could lead to more in the future… but that is an assumption, not a given. Hope is a good thing. This is better than nothing I suppose… but certainly not 1776.

Odd comparison. 1776 pretty much fits your description of the current struggle in Iran. The American founding fathers were mostly interested in fighting an “internal struggle” among upper-class landowners over control of the status quo form of government (there are some exceptions – radicals like Paine, who were quickly marginalized). They never meant to have a radical revolution like the French one.

#39 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

The U.S. Government defines its areas of objectionable Iranian behavior as the following:

Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction;

Its support for and involvement in international terrorism;

Its support for violent opposition to the Middle East peace process, as well as its harmful activities particularly in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region; and

Its dismal human rights record and lack of respect for its own people.”

This is right from the US State Department webpage on Iran… or one could site, http://www.leftwingnutjobs.com…. I suppose?


#40 Comment By rory On June 22, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

ptc–notice i didn’t say “debunked”, i said “seriously put into question”. debunked is far more powerful a term. i did use debunk

TPM isn’t a “crackpot” org by any means. left of center, yes, but it is a serious media source. The post I sent you to relies on the WSJ and NYT for its main facts. the alternet post is actually from the huffington post originally and the columbia journalism review is generally seen as one of the top media analysis sources, around well before the web existed, i believe.


good job avoiding the points made in those links, tho.

#41 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

rory… you can site that… some journal… or a web page, or, you could site the US State Department.. that has all of the far reaching intel gathering capabilities of the United States at its disposal.

Unless you think the US State department has a long history of lying about such matters? In which case, we will never agree… because State tends to give straight information, based on facts.

I’ll go with the State departments information over anything you have cited.

#42 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

should read cite.. sorry…

I am still going with the US State Departments information on Iran above “tpm mucrackers talking points”.

#43 Comment By rory On June 22, 2009 @ 7:56 pm


you’ve blatantly moved the goalpost. The point I snarked:”that is responsible for hundreds of American deaths every year”. You then focused specifically on the efps.

The military claim that came out of the bizarro press conference was specifically about the efps.

Is Iran a sponsor of terrorism? yes. Is it a dictatorship? yes. Is it “responsible for hundreds of American deaths a year”? Extremely unproven.

The state department makes no such claim about being responsible for hundreds of deaths.

#44 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

Rory- The State department never gets that specific with such information. It gives broad information based on such things.

You can beleieve that Iran is not involved in combat operations in Iraq… not involved in support for groups that oppose American forces in places like Sadr City, but that belief flies in the face of the factual record and just plain good old common sense.

“as well as its harmful activities particularly in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan”

– State is not talking about Iranians playing tiddly winks with these statements. You either beleieve our state department and common sense based on Irans record, or you don’t.

#45 Comment By Henry Bass On June 22, 2009 @ 8:06 pm


Post Pinochet Chile is not 1776 either but it is still an improvement. Likewise post Franco Spain. Still, this is the way change happens. And it is too bad Obama folks are so damn timid.

#46 Comment By PTC On June 22, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

Henry- It is not over yet. I think Obama is doing a good job with it.

Let me ask you this… to change the topic:

1) What do you think Obama should be doing? American policy during this should be…. in what form?

#47 Comment By Henry Bass On June 22, 2009 @ 8:48 pm


I think Obama is doing pretty well. Better than I had hoped. And I was a big supporter. I do not object to his being a bit cautious on Iran.

I think the press release saying that there was no difference between the two sides in Iraq was a bit too real politics, for me. And Obama may come to regret it.

I remeber a very early demo against the War in Nam in NYC. Maybe the early spring of ’63. We had a disappointing turnout. Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker, the first speaker told us that she had turned to Paul Goodman and said privately: “I had hoped we would get more bodies.” Paul told her and she repeated to the small crowd, “Dorothy, now we are few. Soon we will be many.” When we had giantic crowds in Washington demos I always remebered that, “Now we are few, soon we will be many”. From 90 to over a quarter million in 5 years.

I wish more Obama folks had a similar experiences. Too few of them have seen few grow into many. And do not know what it feels like to be part of a movement that grew like that. And so they can not share the feelings of the Iran demonstrators.

#48 Comment By Henry Bass On June 22, 2009 @ 9:47 pm


It is dificult to describe the difference between that tiny anti-Nam demo in ’63 and the first big anti-Nam marches in the late 60’s in DC. Sue and I organized buses from Atlanta for the ’68 demo. The bus driver told us when we got on there would be a 30 minute rest stop about half way, about 1:30 in the morning. It was some little bus stop in the Carolinas.

We got there to discover that buses from Miami and Tampa had already arrived. The bus comapany and FBI had not told us they had planned a rendezvous point in a little town. But at 2 or 3 minute intervals buses from all over the South started arriving. We met a few old friends. But, mostly folks we knew from the peace movenet only by lettter, newsletter, or phone. New Orleans, Houston, Nashville, Little Rock they just kept coming. Until we left as a convoy after an half hour. Every policeman from the area was there to guard us. Soon that little bus station was bursting from the seams. And we had some idea of the huge success, of one of the great demos of American history that we were about to be a part of.

You cannot imagine how we had felt. Sue and I had worked so hard to get our little Atlanta group together. But, when we saw that the whole South had been working just as hard we were overcome with joy. I will never forget that half hour in that little bus station.

I suppose my disappointment is that so few folks in our governement know that feeling. And so they cannot feel how the Iran demonstrators feel and identify with them. And cannot cheer for them the way us old activists can. And do not realize that the people can sometimes change things.

#49 Comment By Parent ’12 On June 22, 2009 @ 11:46 pm


Thanks for describing your experiences in the early & late sixties. It makes “Now we are few, soon we will be many” so rich & deeply felt for all.

#50 Comment By sophmom On June 23, 2009 @ 12:15 am

Ditto from me, Henry. I have enjoyed all the comments here, but yours certainly brings a familiar poignancy to current events.

Your account reminds me of the weekend I showed up to stump for Obama in a state that was, at the time, red. There were three of us traveling in my car. I had called into campaign headquarters the week before to get instructions, and we showed up Saturday morning expecting a decent but not monumental turnout. Instead, we found 1000 volunteers, mostly from a neighboring state, all there by hook or crook, car or plane, winding around the block of the local campaign headquarters. It was stunning, and so deeply touching. We were told by the end of the weekend that our efforts in those two days were predicted to have turned this particular state blue.

I know it doesn’t begin to compare to the scope of what you experienced, nor to the stakes at hand in Iran, but, I will never forget the feeling…the realization of the power of many voices united.

With that in mind, I share your outlook on what is going on in Iran. I feel a sense of hope that though the outcome is unknown, some very poignant strides have been taken. Ahmadinejad, regardless of how this turns out, will never have the same legitimacy again. In the midst of the power struggle between the factions, another important struggle is occurring…Iranians are finding their voice.

To all commenting here, thank you. I haven’t been able to participate much, but reading your thoughts, and getting your perspectives, has really helped me understand the situation better.

#51 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On June 23, 2009 @ 2:16 am


A quick ditto and many heartfelt thanks from me, as well.

The images from Iran also bring back vivid memories for me– of being amid a million people, in the Zocolo. I just wrote some of them, but I’ll hold my description to let yours stand.

I will offer a quick counter, however,– then we were many, and now we are few, and scattered to the corners of the earth.

#52 Comment By frank uible On June 23, 2009 @ 5:58 am

To paraphrase Uncle Joe – “how many Divisions do hoping and dreaming have?”

#53 Comment By Henry Bass On June 23, 2009 @ 10:15 am

Thanks gang,

Your kind comments much appreciated. Soph mom, your work for Obama in a red state was exciting. Thanks for sharing it. Thanks also Ken. The Obama campaign was much closer to being a movement than most political campaigns. So I’m sorry the Obama folks don’t feel closer to the protestors in Iran.

Frank, Gandhi did not have any divisions but he brought down the British Empire in the subcontinent. Uncle Joe’s remark was directed at the Pope. “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Yet the Pope more than any individual brought down the Soviet Empire. It all began with a Catholic led labor movement in Poland. And so there is no longer a city in Russia named Stalingrad. And indeed no longer a Leningrad. The Pope had the last laugh. Of course, popular movements can be shut down with massive military force as was the case in Hungary under Ike. But, even Hungary was not a total defeat. After the uprising of the 50’s the Soviets allowed Hungary more freedom than any other satelite. And of course Hungary was eventually free.

It may not work out any time soon in Iran. But, I’m convinced that the opposition in Iran will keep it up. And that history is on their side. And I think we ought to side with them. We can do this without being reckless. But, we do need to let the protestors know we are with them. We have to do better than we did with Hungary.

To be sure Nonviolence does not always work. Neither does military force. The movement to end the war in Nam took forever. But, finally that hard-boiled fellow named Nixon had to accept a sobering defeat.

Alas, the current antiwar movement is nothing like the one
during Nam. It causes me great sadness to note that all they had to do to keep American campuses quiet was to abolish the draft. This of course includes our Eph campus.

#54 Comment By frank uible On June 23, 2009 @ 10:29 am

Sometimes idealism wins – but the smart money goes on those who have raw power and are willing to use it. Persia has been totalitarian since time immemorial and most probably will continue to be so when I pass – which, of course, may easily be next week.

#55 Comment By Henry Bass On June 23, 2009 @ 11:43 am


I have spent my life betting against the smart money and I am still standing. And I expect to be still standing when I go. Like you I recognize that it could be anytime. We’re not getting any younger.

#56 Comment By JG On June 23, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

Henry – thanks for sharing your thoughts. It sparks memories (pretty recent memories I guess) of my work organizing against the Iraq War. While many/most people now question it, I remember in the lead up speaking at small demonstrations of 25-100 people where we were yelled at, had stuff thrown at us, etc. The “what about 9/11” and “why do you hate America” calls (seriously, people really did that) were frequent. To see that build and build into a few thousand, and then finally into a momentous day of worldwide demonstrations of millions was so satisfying. The 400,000 in New York City was a sight to behold.

To now have most agree that the WMD’s were never there, that intelligence was…manipulated…to say the least, well, it makes me wonder how everyone couldn’t see it back then. But it also makes me grateful that the work continued and that people kept searching and listening.

It still brings tears to my eyes to think about some of the people I met in the lead-up and in the year or so after the war began. The many parents of soldiers who had been killed or wounded soldiers that would come stand with us and/or share their stories made it all worth it, and still does.

I would dispute this very strenuously:

Alas, the current antiwar movement is nothing like the one
during Nam. It causes me great sadness to note that all they had to do to keep American campuses quiet was to abolish the draft. This of course includes our Eph campus.

Things have greatly settled now, but I worked with students all over the country on anti-war organizing. They were not quiet. There were people at Williams speaking up. Through a few different things I was involved with, I got emails from professors and students at Williams who recognized my name and connected/informed about their work. It’s not the same movement, but I’d submit that many of the students cared not because of their own self interest in not going themselves, but because of the principle. That, too, has meaning. I could say that I wish people during Vietnam had cared more aside from the draft, but instead I am grateful that anyone spoke up at all. There is a tremendous legacy from those demonstrations that I am proud to have built on.

I wish the passion and energy working against the Iraq War had been sustained more directly on campuses and elsewhere, but I also think that public opinion did shift more quickly/differently than it appears to have during Vietnam. I’d also submit that much of the activist infrastructure and networking morphed into the more conventional political movement to elect Obama. Some went to Dean first where the techniques were more refined but that wasn’t the best match and many were still quite actively engaged directly in anti-war organizing. The work against the Iraq war was one of the first truly online mobilizations, so that involved some growing pains.

Henry, I know your heart is in the right place, but when I hear people say “but I wish people did more like Vietnam” is makes me laugh and think of “I used to walk uphill both ways to school.” This movement was of course different. Society is different. The motivation was different. The techniques were different. Why can’t we appreciate what people did without wanting it to be something else? The work against the Iraq War involved a tremendous cross-section of this country and the world. We took lessons from Vietnam and attempted to reach broader groups – the movement was diverse across class, race, and background in a way that I certainly don’t think I saw or heard about from the 60s.

Sorry to end this on a defensive note, but I wrote the first portion of the comment before reading your later slight. It makes me sad to see the needless lines drawn.

#57 Comment By Henry Bass On June 23, 2009 @ 3:17 pm


You are quite right and I apologize. There is resistance to the Iraq War and I applaud it. Maybe it is not as big as Nam. But, it is there. And many, many courageous folks are participating in difficult circimstances.My congratualations to you. Many, many thanks for your efforts. And forgive me for not showing solidarity with you. And do keep it up. I have not done enough to oppose Iraq.

#58 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

Henry/ JG-

The Obama win is in many ways attached to anti Iraq war sentiments. Let’s remember, he beat Hillary in the primary. Perhaps one of the biggest upsets in politics. That had a lot to do with his postion on the war and race (right place, right time), but only because he is one of the most gifted politicians ever.

It is also important to remember that Obama ran on increased presence in Afghanistan, and increasing troop numbers and our war efforts there (a promise he is currently making good on). The public wanted more competent leadership running the war more than “an end to the war”. The Iraq war, and the management of it, was more a competence issue than an issue of war. We are still very much at war in the middle east, with good reasons. Iran, is one of those reasons.

Iran is the biggest opponent in the region. That will not change with this election. Support of terrorism and nuclear ambitions remain on the table. I have little faith that the results of these protests will lead to anything more than a change in rhetoric. The agenda will still be anti American, with a different front man and perhaps better managment.

Is Bush sr or Bush jr going to win in Iran?

Certainly,Iranian and American tactics and policies will change depending on that result… but not the regional strategic vision.

#59 Comment By Henry Bass On June 23, 2009 @ 5:26 pm


I do not think there is an inherent conflict between Islam and the western democracies. During the Cold War I did not think there was an inherent conflict between Communism and the Market Democracies. Even George Kennan, Mr. X, eventually came around on this.

I think Iran is using the US as a scapegoat because it can’t put dinner on the table. That can change with a competent leadership. The rhetoric may not change but it doesn’t have to mean anything.

Obama is far more competent than the Bushes. If he plays his cards right things can change. But, the competents have to win in Iran. I think many of the powers that be in Iran see this. That is why there is a real struggle.

#60 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

Henry… Thanks… what about the difference between “anti wars” and “anti incompetent management of a war”?

I suspect that the 60s movement was much more radical in terms of its political thinking and bend towards peace… vice what was largely expressed during the last election… which had to do with competence. Obama won on a message of competence, not a message of peace.

#61 Comment By rory On June 23, 2009 @ 5:32 pm


please don’t speak for those of us who were/are (shamefully for me, it’s were) in the anti-war in Iraq movement. It was not an issue of competence. A competently or incompetently run war in Iraq was second to the fact that we believed there should have been NO war in Iraq.

We are at war in the Middle East for very bad and spurious reasons. Were we not to have invaded Iraq, we would not be at war in the Middle East.

Anti war support for Obama was because he was an early opponent of the war. He was also a gifted politician, but the anti war movement did not gravitate to him early only because of his political charm–he was the best option in a remarkably hawkish Democratic primary.

#62 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

Rory- I am not speaking for you at all. My feeling is, that Obama would have lost had he run an anti war campaign. Do you disagree?

My point is, that Obama did not win on a message of peace.

#63 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 5:40 pm

In fact… Obama won on a message of war. The “right war”. He advocates striking targets in Pakistan, and is currently drastically increasing US power projection into Afghanistan. The Marines are increasing their boots on the ground by the thousands.


#64 Comment By rory On June 23, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

you’ve conflated two conflicts into one. obama–and many/most anti war people–did not do so (while many were opposed to both).

#65 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

Rory- My point exactly. He did not run against war… he ran against a particular war… and for another.

I seem to remember that his message was very clear. Increased presence in OEF, withdraw from OIF over time.

#66 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 23, 2009 @ 6:02 pm


Once the decision to invade Iraq and depose the Hussein regime was made and executed, do you think we/the Iraqis/the world would have been better off had we withdrawn in 2003 or 2004, or 2005?

#67 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 6:35 pm

Whitney- wrong data point from my perspective.

I would argue- that once the decision to follow a policy of Democratic reform that involved de Baathification was made, the world would have been better off if we had just gone home. Absolutely. It would have been better for everyone had we packed it in, or not gone in the first place.


#68 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 23, 2009 @ 7:42 pm


I’m not sure what you mean. Are you saying that once we went in and captured Saddam Hussein (in December 2003) we should simply have left?

I agree in hindsight that we – the U.S. would certainly have been better off had we never gone in the first place. It also would have been better for many Iraqis had we never gone in (though perhaps many Shiites and Kurds might disagree.) But once we were there, do you think Iraqis – as a whole – have benefited by our presence?

#69 Comment By Henry Bass On June 23, 2009 @ 7:59 pm


Obama could not have won on an antiwar platform. I voted for Obama and not for my old friend, Brad Lyttle, of the US Pacifist Party who ran on getting us out right away.

#70 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

Whitney… I mean what I wrote- De Baathification lost the war.

#71 Comment By PTC On June 23, 2009 @ 8:03 pm


If you are not familiar… watch this PBS program… it will give you a great backround on what I am talking about.

#72 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 23, 2009 @ 11:43 pm


When you say “lost the war,” what do you mean? I know what De Baathification means and the consequences of how it was pursued in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. But I still don’t understand in what sense the war was “lost.”

#73 Comment By PTC On June 24, 2009 @ 1:33 am

Whitney- In my opinion the consequences of poor policy on the ground extended the conflict and hurt our interests. Iraq ended up costing us too much in term of civil/world opinion, manpower, time and treasure. Also, De Baathification led to a power shift towards the Shiites (Iranians) and a de stabilization that enabled fundamentalists in the region. I would argue we not only lost power in the Middle East, but also in South America- because of our focus on Iraq. We lost world support.

When the objectives run counter to your strategic interests… you cannot win. Iraq is one battlefield in a global conflict. We are leaving now.

Let me turn this one back to you- in what sense has this war been “won”? Can you explain how it has advanced our strategic position in the world? Politically? Militarily? Economically?

#74 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On June 24, 2009 @ 3:15 am


If you will– a frank response.

Mexico initiated a plan which will electronically track the movements of every vehicle in the nation, today. It will be completed by the elections of 2012.

Instead of the FBI supporting your right to assemble and demonstrate– imagine armed federal troops, with the ability to track your every mo(ve)ment.

Imagine those troops ordered to point their arms at you, as you gathered.

Imagine that the United States, and the western democracies, are foolish enough to fund those arms.

The events and possibilities are complex– today’s news from Mexico, is more than I can absorb and comprehend– complex debates and possibilities, as the days of Wiemar and Franco.

Ugalde, President of the Electoral Institute in 2006, and the ultimate authority over that election– stood up today and said that the electoral system has failed, that reform has failed, that democracy has failed– that the parties fail to serve the people– what drama!

And what courage– and how much has changed, since I watched Ugalde stand and declare in sotto voce in 2006, results he knew were falsified. He has just betrayed his party– compromised their legitimacy– and risked his life.

AMLO– today attacked the news monopoly of Televisa and its “immoral compromise of liberty and democracy,… in the service of the power elites… who have gained enormous wealth…”

Mexico is not yet a police state– it is the disorder of Wiemar. But let us not fail to recognize the peril– a totalitarian state emerging on our border, and spreading its influence through the Americas.

#75 Comment By Henry Bass On June 24, 2009 @ 9:45 am


I know the situation in Mexico is very dangerous. Sue and I have been ther several times. We have been in the Zocalo on May Day, when the President adresses the workers. The Zocalo is coerdoned off and we were allowed in only because our hotel was accroos the Zocalo form the National Palace. Hostile unions are sot allowed in. Friendly unions require their membrs to be bused in.

There is a big struggle now but there are progressives fighting for change. I think the reactionaries would simply lose if it were not for the US’s war on drugs which funds thee bad guys. To me ending the war on drugs is as important as geting out of Iraq and Afganistan.

In Mexico many of the big ranches have their own horse cremotoriums. So they can keep the ashes of beloved horses who die. But, if they kill you they can just put your copus in the horse cremotorium. This sure scares me.

#76 Comment By frank uible On June 24, 2009 @ 10:53 am

I aspire to be cremated in a horse crematorium – of course, I want to wait awhile.

#77 Comment By sophmom On June 24, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

This entire thread is fascinating, not just for the discussion, but for the way in which it illustrates different points of views. A careful reader could draw up profiles of the commenters, based on the comments and links, that would probably be fairly accurate.

I also find myself thinking of how events in this country of say, the last several years, have been portrayed in the news in some of the places we are now discussing. Our own botched elections (Bush/Gore in particular), then 9/11, the war in Iraq, the demonstrations against that war, and our most recent election, replete with Palinisms and the very ugly racism displayed in the threats and remarks aimed at Obama. Viewed through the lens of the media in other countries, we must have seemed on the verge of implosion on several occasions.

I don’t say this to make less of what is happening elsewhere in the world. God knows I am more than aware of the great blessing of being able to sit in my home, safe, and fed, typing out these remarks on my laptop. However, it is a reminder to me, that there is a bigger picture, one which, despite the antics of the press, and the machinations of our own perspectives and imaginations, will take it’s own unique path.

Frank and Henry (in very different ways) seem to balance the conversation with a broader, deeper perspective. And though I may disagree at times, I do see the wisdom in it. Not just for the obvious reasons, but for the way in which it helps me to maintain more equilibrium in facing the daily news.

Again, thanks to all for this enlightening (and civil) discussion. It has really helped me to better understand some very complex issues.

#78 Comment By Henry Bass On June 24, 2009 @ 1:38 pm


Thanks so much. I apreciate your posts and especailly your leadership role in EB. And I immensely enjoy my exchanges with Frank. Even at Williams I had more friends on the right than on the left. That’s me. Frank’s and my mutual friend, Joe Perrott, though he never posts, looks in on EB from time to time. And tells me how much he enjoys Frank’s conservative posts. Joe tells me that 90 guys were invited to pre-season football practice in the fall of ’53 (not me) but that only 6 were left on the football team our senior year. Joe keeps in touch with all the other 5 today. Including Bob Appleford, who I had a nice long talk with at our reunion. Bob went to high school with my Freshman roommate, Mike Bird. Ephdom is a small world.

#79 Comment By PTC On June 24, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

Henry is absolutely correct about the “war on drugs”. The “war on drugs” is a complete and utter waste of time, manpower and money in this climate. It is counter productive, in fact. Just as Henry indicates.

The war on drugs was used to leverage the region (SA)… and it worked for a time, when we had the money and people to put into it. Now, it only serves to enable corrupt law breakers, and facilitate the election of left wing Marxists. Marijuana should be (and nearly is in MA) legal.

Hard drugs regulate themselves. You cannot be productive and addicted to crack cocaine, heroine, etc. When was the last time you looked at a meth head and said… man, that looks like fun, I wanna try that?

#80 Comment By rory On June 24, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

hard drugs regulate themselves? yet 9 million people (roughly) have tried meth (to pick one). that’s not well regulated.

#81 Comment By PTC On June 24, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

Rory- And almost all of them crashed and burned. Make it cheap, legal, and attach more available health care to it… and those that go there, die or recover. Same as they do now- without spending trillions of dollars on law enforcement and incarceration. Also, while gaining revenue through taxation. My point is, you cannot be a meth head and be a productive member of society. It regulates itself.

#82 Comment By sophmom On June 24, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

@ 72 & 73:

See Sam Crane’s post.

#83 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 24, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

Thank you for the link SophMom. If you think the goal of the war was to set up a Western-style democracy in Iraq – and certainly there was plenty of talk of this at the time – then indeed the war was unsuccessful. If the goal was to get rid of Saddam Hussein and set up a stable country with some trappings of democracy, then I think the jury is still out. I think there are millions of Kurds and Shiites who are much happier with the situation today then ten years ago.

#84 Comment By PTC On June 24, 2009 @ 11:27 pm

Whitney- uh… please tell us all… how this war helped the United States.

#85 Comment By eyetolduso On June 25, 2009 @ 12:30 am

It gave us someone to blame for 9-11 and it did not really matter if they were actually to blame, we were going to seek retribution from someone, we are a very violent people when angered (Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki), and we disarmed one of Israel’s enemies, which is at least 50% of motive behind the saber-rattling against Iran, who poses no threat to us, as Iraq posed no threat to us. I had no real problem with the first one and will not be very surprised by the next one. I find it interesting that many who argue we should not have attacked Iraq are demanding that we do something about Iran, obviously peace is not the major issue. An aside JFK and LBJ were far more responsible for Vietnam than Nixon was.

#86 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On June 25, 2009 @ 3:01 am

In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force
and indeed the world, two large and important states bear
consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and
The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the
government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure
are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs
and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over
the next several years will have a major impact on the stability
of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos
would demand an American response based on the serious
implications for homeland security alone.

(– JOE 2008: Joint Operating Environment Report, p. 40)

This seems to me based on a fairly superficial understanding on the internal conflicts of Mexico– and of what is about to play out in the next 10 days, and forward.

#87 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 25, 2009 @ 8:56 am


We got rid of a nasty dictator who (a) didn’t like us very much, and (b) had shown a willingness to use unpleasant means to attack those whom he didn’t like. We also created the possibility of creating a democratic state which will be a responsible player on the regional stage. There may also be significant numbers of Iraqis who appreciate the change in the Iraqi government. Was this worth what it cost? Not in my view (particularly in view of the fact that it that the Iraqi WMD program under Hussein had devolved into a smoke and mirrors trick), but I think its wrong to pretend that nothing good has come from the war.

#88 Comment By PTC On June 25, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

Witney- I am not pretending anything. Increased Persian influence in the region is seen as a result of this war by many experts. It is a very legitimate and widely shared view/ criticism of this wars result.

Great- some people from tribe X are now happier than those from Tribe Y… what I am worried about, is if that had a positive impact for America. I do not believe that it has.

#89 Comment By PTC On June 29, 2009 @ 10:38 am


Commanding General in Iraq comments on continued Iranian actions during OIF.

#90 Comment By PTC On June 29, 2009 @ 10:40 am

“Odierno also said Iran continues to “interfere” in Iraq, including training insurgents and paying surrogates. But he said his mission is limited to providing security within Iraq, no matter the provocation from Iran or elsewhere.”

#91 Comment By nuts On June 29, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

Former CIA officer Baer said the US has useless programs running out of Iraq to undermine the Iran government, useless except to placate some members of congress. I wish someone would ask Odierno if we should continue or halt those programs.

#92 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 29, 2009 @ 3:07 pm


I don’t think we are in disagreement. I don’t think this war will turn out to have been a good thing for the U.S., for many of the reasons you have identified. There have been a lot of negative results, with few corresponding benefits for us. However, for (some) Iraqis, the war has had a positive outcome, and we can/should take some psychic satisfction that whatever good has come out of this has come from us.