We cannot tune in to any of the news outlets and not be flooded with images from Iran. And many of my blogging buddies have posted a video of Neda Agha Soltan, the Iranian girl shot and killed by a sniper during a protest of the election results. Also, there are reports, pictures, and videos of other deaths and injuries as a result of Iranian police actions in response to the election protests.
This is as tragic as it is predictable…
The Iranian political process in regards to democratic elections is not like what we take for granted in the West. The candidates in the Iranian elections must first pass a vetting process from the Guardian Council, which is “an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence.” This Council is composed of Islamic clerics and attorneys, and is the theological authority of Iran. And this means that only “approved” candidates would be presented to the populace for elections to office.
And this sets up a conflict between the desire of the populace to progress or advance beyond the restrictions imposed by the Council.
We need to understand that there a number of the Iranian people who have received education in the West, and have been exposed to the culture and how the political process in the West works. Those ideas are then compared to the situation in Iran, and the lack of freedoms becomes obvious.
So when a candidate that is perceived to be more moderate than the current president (which represents progress) and is defeated, then there will be protests, especially if the incumbent appears to be favored by the Council. Add to the mix rumors of election fraud, and the situation becomes extremely volatile.
And this morning, the Council has stated that it found “no major fraud” in the recent elections and will not overturn the results even though they acknowledged that there were voting irregularities in at least 50 districts. The Council has also ordered all protestors off the streets.
If there are more protests demanding a new election, expect more blood to be shed … and international interest increase … except for the United States …
President Obama has been criticized by Conservatives for his lack of support for the protesters. After all, the French and Germans certainly jumped on the democracy bandwagon while President Obama timidly asked the Iranian government to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." But not supporting the protesters removes the Iranian government’s arguments that the protestors are lackeys of foreign governments, especially “the Great Satan,” and that those foreign governments are interfering in the internal affairs of Iran.
In some respects, I could almost buy into this argument … almost. The deal breaker is the use of lethal force by the Iranian government to quell the protests, and threats of arrest & death to Ahmadinejad’s opponents. Only a repressive and totalitarian government would resort to such tactics.
I shudder at the thought of socialist-leaning Europe making more statements in support of the protesters than the United States, the supposed defender of democracy. That is shameful, and does not show that the United States is a leader on the world stage. President Obama is playing the political game, waiting to see who will win this struggle halfway across the world, and this will have repercussions beyond the immediate crisis.
As a people, Americans continue to treasure democracy, personal freedom, and free speech. Congress has drafted a resolution that supports the Iranian citizen’s rights to protest and free speech. It is unforgivable that our elected President has not demonstrated a willingness to do the same on either account.