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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 15, 2009

 
Wearing Green

by digby

Following up on dday's post below, here's a list of more sources and commentary from Lambert. He writes:

NOTE: From our experience posting on yellow shirts vs. red shirts in Thailand, and especially from the strictures of our highly alert reader, MsExPat, I'm extremely skeptical of my, or anyone's, ability to become a DIY foreign correspondent remotely.

And I'm even more skeptical of what our famously free press might be doing.

As to method: Even the reporting on the ground that we have is datelined Teheran, and Teheran is not Iran, any more than Versailles is the United States.

As to provenance: Any story where Bill Keller, ("apparently" (!!!)) filing from Teheran, is the Johnny-on-the-spot for Izvestia leaves me very, very skeptical: Surely we remember the work Keller did with Judy Miller on WMD? In pure power play terms, surely it's in the interests of the administration to undermine Ahmadinejad's legitimacy -- if any? And twitter's great, but we really don't know who's doing the twittering, do we? Especially since most other communications out of Iran have been cut? And don't we have a long, long history of masterminding and manipulating Iranian elections? Is there any reason to think that this has, er, changed?

I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, and I'm obviously in sympathy with any people who are calling bullshit on an illegitimate and anti-democratic regime seizing power through election fraud, but.... One reason I haven't posted on this story is that I feel, absent really trustworthy Iranian sourcing, that I have very, very little to add.

It's been a tremendously interesting few days and the new media has definitely filled in the gaps where the old media dropped the ball. But I have no way of knowing what's real and what isn't and the reports coming from Twitter and the like, while exceptionally fascinating, are limited to the subset of people in Iran who use them. So, they can only, at best, reflect a narrow slice of the electorate. As far as the US manipulating the outcome, it seems remote to me, but considering our (ahem) history in that country I certainly can't blame anyone for speculating. There is every reason to be skeptical of everything at the moment.

The only thing I do know is that having a bunch of US wingnuts giving Ahmadinejad an excuse to turn the story away from what's happening inside his country to what's happening outside it is a very, very bad idea.Let's hope this is one case where the president and his people turn blind eyes to everything coming from the right.





Wear some green today.
















Update: Spencer Ackerman writes:

I don’t presume that the Iranian opposition speaks with one voice. But what’s been very, very striking about following the #iranelection hashtag on Twitter is how few tweets from Iran are calling for U.S. involvement. In my piece today, I report that U.S.-based Iranian human rights activists believe that Obama should speak up for human rights in Iran and say little else, out of fear that greater U.S. involvement will risk delegitmizing the Iranian opposition. Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council told me that every non-Iranian needs to be “two steps behind the opposition and not two steps ahead,” as the Iranians “have tremendous pride in doing this themselves.” One of the accounts from Iran on the Council’s new blog urges the United States to “not to accept the [electoral] results and do not talk to [Ahmadinejad] government as an official, approved” body. (To Kristol’s credit, he notes this.) On the other hand, Twitter user StopAhmadi, whom I believe is an Iranian protester, wrote an hour ago that Obama is being “TOO neutral.” So, again, not a single voice.

But an American voice is more likely to be counterproductive than helpful. The cardinal rule ought to be to follow the lead of the Iranian opposition. As I reported, the Obama administration isn’t considering endorsing Ahmadinejad’s bogus victory, and everyone from Vice President Joe Biden on down says that the United States is going to highlight electoral discrepancies. For the United States to weigh in on what Iran ought to do can’t possibly help. It’s time to treat Iran in terms of what aids the opposition, not what makes us feel good about ourselves. “We should not have the U.S. lead,” Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran told me over the weekend. That’s prime-directive stuff.


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