The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Null Vote

As of this moment in the late evening of June 12th, it looks like the Presidential election in Iran is too close to call. Current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a rabid anti-Semite, holocaust denier, and Islamist (sorry for the redundancy) and challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, a somewhat more moderate (remember, this is Iran and moderation is defined on a very relative scale) politician, are in a very close election with each side declaring victory.

I'm hopeful that Ahmadinejad will be ousted, but I worry that the MSM and many Left-leaning politicians will read more into his defeat than they should. If Mousavi does win, it will be a hopeful sign that Iran is changing, but only a sign, and only a very little change.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal online comments:
The danger is that the West, following Obama's lead, would take far more encouragement from a favorable election result than is warranted.

… The tendency to read too much into an Ahmadinejad defeat is compounded by an eagerness to see Obama's feel-good foreign-policy approach succeed. Thus an article in the Christian Science Monitor touts what the paper calls the "Obama Effect." The headline reads "Wildcard in Iran Election: Obama," but when you get deep into the story you learn that this is based on nothing but speculation:
Any "Obama factor" in Iran's presidential contest will be difficult to gauge, Iran experts say, because the overriding issue in the campaign is the economy and what is widely perceived domestically as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's poor stewardship of it.
But even in that context, Iranians who see Obama's promise of closer international ties (as opposed to the threat of deeper economic sanctions) as one avenue to economic recovery may reject Mr. Ahmadinejad's confrontational style as better suited to the era of President Bush.

Still, even some regional analysts who found strong elements in Obama's speech say they are dubious of any short-term impact as concrete as influencing an election.

But if Mousavi wins, you can bet you'll hear more about Obama's effect than about those doubts.

What difference does it all make anyway? [Roger Cohen of the New York Times] concludes his column by declaring that "the margin for the foolishness of anti-Iran hawks" has "just narrowed." (Presumably he means it will have narrowed if Ahmadinejad loses.) But Cohen is blasé about nuclear proliferation, so much so that he doesn't even mention the subject in his column about the Iran election.
If the "anti-Iran hawks" are right and Cohen is the foolish one, then a more appealing Iranian figurehead makes Tehran's nuclear threat more dangerous. Yaakov Katz in the Jerusalem Post explains why:
Due to his radical character and extremist remarks, Ahmadinejad helps garner world support for stopping the nuclear program. Due to his reformist and moderate image, Mousavi--who when he was prime minister from 1981 to 1989 helped lay the foundations of the country's atomic program--may succeed in "laundering" the program in a dialogue with the United States, the officials fear.

A Mousavi victory's likely effect would be to make it easier for the West to trust the Iranian regime without making the regime more worthy of trust.

Regardless of the outcome, the Mullahs run Iran, and that is unlikely to change any time soon. It may be that they’d enjoy a more “moderate” spokesman (that’s all the Iranian president really is) but at the same time continue supporting terror world wide, building nuclear weapons, and oppressing the true Iranian moderates who did vote for Mousavi.
We’ll know the outcome in a day or two, but beware of reading too much into it.