Takeaway Lesson Of The Day

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 19, 2009

Mark Kleiman needs to read Stephen Hayes, and Andrew Sullivan if he really wants to get the significance of the interview Foreign Policy conducted with Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Mousavi’s spokesman.

If Kleiman dedicated half as much energy to working to publicize the abuses of the regime in Iran as he does to shilling on behalf of Barack Obama, Iran may well be a model of Jeffersonian democracy by the end of the month. Incidentally, does anyone else find it strange that Kleiman approves of having his political golden calf to Mousavi, when . . . well . . . read:

. . . In opposition to Ahmadinejad, Mir Hossein Mousavi is not exactly a child of the Enlightenment. He presided as Prime Minister over an eight year grudge match with Iraq over a patchwork of berms, mud brick villages and oil slicked waterways that ruined both Iran and Iraq and killed approximately a million people ending in a macabre stalemate. Twenty years on, he has reconfigured his public platform as that of a Khatami-allied reformist.

And more from Michael Totten:

I do not trust Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. He is part of the Khomeinist establishment, although a crudely sidelined one at the moment. His record as former prime minister isn’t much more attractive than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s record as president.

The democracy movement is rallying around him, but the activists should be careful. Ruhollah Khomeini managed to convince Iranian liberals and leftists to forge an alliance with him to topple the Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979, but he brutally smashed them once the revolution swept the old regime out of power. Alliances between liberals and Islamists is extraordinarily dangerous – for liberals.

Totten believes that it is possible that Mousavi has grown into less of a Khomeini-ist than he was in the past. One certainly hopes so, and I would pick him over Ahmadinejad as the lesser of two evils any day. But that is because Ahmadinejad is truly vile, while Mousavi’s past-at-least-semi-vileness may have been put in abeyance by events. Mousavi’s problem is that he remains wedded to a brutal and vicious regime. The protests he leads only have value and relevance insofar as they demonstrate that at long last, the regime must be swept aside. It’s nice if Mousavi wants to act as one of many vehicles and vessels for the revolutionary change that is so needed in Iran, and Obama was dead wrong to suggest that there is no real difference between him and Ahmadinejad. At the same time, however, it is equally ridiculous to think that Mousavi is the transformational figure that Kleiman thinks Obama is. Indeed, if Mousavi is Iran’s version of HopeAndChange, then the country of my ancestors is in more trouble than I thought.

  • MarkARKleiman

    And Pejman Yousefzadeh needs to learn to read, period. Or perhaps his problem isn't with literacy, but with ordinary honesty. In any case, whether ignorantly or deliberately, he mis-reports what I wrote.

    I'm under no illusions about Mousavi. My point wasn't about Mousavi. My point was that players in Iranian politics, trying to appeal to the Iranian public, liken their candidate to Obama and the dictatorship to Bush. There's a term for having a President who is admired rather than loathed by freedom-loving people around the globe. It's “soft power.”

    There's no way to determine how much Obama's Cairo speech, which rebuked Ahmadi-nejad's Holocaust denialism while expressing respect for both Islam and Iran, contributed to the political situation which may now bring the Iranian dictatorship down. But it's no surprise that Pejman's friends on the right were openly rooting for A-n to win the elections. Iran is not the only country whose lunatic haters and warmongers took a big hit this week.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    It's amusing that Mark lectures me on the need to read properly, or on the need for honesty, when in fact, my post makes clear that whether through incompetence or through dishonesty of his own, he failed to read Makhmalbaf's comments correctly. As is clear in the Foreign Policy interview–which Mark didn't read properly and failed to report properly–Makhmalbaf's comments were dedicated to criticizing Obama for his comparison of Mousavi and Ahmadinejad.

    Equally amusing–and contemptible–is Mark's ridiculous last paragraph. He cites a lone statement by Daniel Pipes to the effect that Pipes wanted Ahmadinejad to win since Pipes believes there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi (much as Obama asserts by way of comparison, by the way!), and as usual, paints with a broad brush and says that my “friends on the right” all wanted Ahmadinejad to win. I'm sure that Mark knows his broad-brush statement is a lie. And given the fact that my family comes from Iran and experienced hardships at the hands of the Islamic regime, I don't need him to ignorantly sermonize to me on what side I need to take regarding the struggle in Iran. If I wanted advice, I'd go to a smarter Iran hand than Mark Kleiman has turned out to be.

  • kcom

    Ahh, “haters” and “warmongers”. More tired, cliched, leftist claptrap. If that's the depth of your argument, it's no surprise that you're not getting much respect from those who actually care about (and have people to care about) on the ground in Iran.

  • skunky

    Pejman, O great cheerleader of land wars in Asia! Have you ever been right about anything?

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