Very interesting acts of civil disobedience people are coming up with in Iran:

The second phase plays out in a boycott of goods advertised on state-controlled television. Just try buying a certain brand of dairy product, an Iranian human-rights activist told me, and the person behind you in line is likely to whisper, “Don’t buy that. It’s from an advertiser.” It includes calls to switch on every electric appliance in the house just before the evening TV news to trip up Tehran’s grid. It features quickie “blitz” street demonstrations, lasting just long enough to chant “Death to the dictator!” several times but short enough to evade security forces. It involves identifying paramilitary Basij vigilantes linked to the crackdown and putting marks in green — the opposition color — or pictures of protest victims in front of their homes. It is scribbled antiregime slogans on money. And it is defiant drivers honking horns, flashing headlights and waving V signs at security forces.

YouTube is making Gil Scott-Heron look bad.

I can’t wait for network TV to die already.

Iran’s moment

June 14, 2009

The next day or two will have a profound significance on U.S. foreign policy for years to come.

It may be that an Israeli airstrike becomes inevitable, or on the other hand a Tiananmen-style massacre creates an internal crisis which forces the leadership to turn inward and lessen Iran’s impact as a player in the region.

Juan Cole has some great writeups, but to follow the latest developments you should checkout Andrew Sullivan‘s and Josh Marshall‘s blogs.  They are keeping close watch, with assists from their Farsi speaking readers and local bloggers.

Don’t bother watching the news networks, they’re asleep at the switch.

More on Iran

June 4, 2009

Mark Nickolas has more on Iran.  At a debate yesterday Moussavi…

…accused Mr. Ahmadinejad of moving Iran toward “dictatorship.” At another, he said that the president’s foreign policy suffered from “adventurism, illusionism, exhibitionism, extremism and superficiality.”

He also took issue with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s constant questioning of the Holocaust, saying that it harmed the country’s standing with the rest of the world and undermined its dignity. “For the past four years you kept saying that the United States is collapsing,” Mr. Moussavi said. “You have said Israel is collapsing. France is collapsing.”

He added, “Your foreign policies have been based on such illusional perceptions.”


Obama continues pitting his enemies against themselves.  Sotomayor’s nomination is just the latest:  Republicans are caught between a rock (the base in the primaries) and a hard place (the Latin vote in the general).

The Middle East is the next installment.

Israel first: Obama demands a stop to settlements.  A relatively small step in the grand scheme of things.  Most Americans view it as a sensible enough request.  Political cost at home is minimal, even with Jewish voters.  But it puts Netanyahu in an untenable position: Under attack from his right flank while worrying the rest of the electorate that he can’t handle the U.S. relationship.

At a minimum it weakens Netanyahu’s hand, and in fact it will probably bring down his government soon in favor of a more moderate one.

Then there is Iran: Obama’s current charm offensive is not sustainable long term in the face of Iranian grandstanding.  But what if the point has never really been to coax Ahmadinejad to the negotiating table?

More likely Obama has just been giving the Iranian young (a large part of the electorate) a heavy dose of hope.  Not that Mousavi won’t still be largely a puppet of the clerics, but at least he won’t need as much tough talk to appease his base, which will make it a whole lot easier to negotiate.  Plus a new Iranian government won’t carry all the baggage of the last eight years.

So if I had to guess, tomorrow’s speech will be a throwback to the election tone: Soaring, hopeful, idealistic.

In other words:  Iran, yes we can.