Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Am Hopeful About Iran Because the Regime Is Religious

This is a risky post to make, because it could be overtaken by events even as I write it.

Nonetheless, I am hopeful that the rulers of Iran will not stomach a stolen election and attacks on peaceful protesters because they believe that God will judge their actions. This is no guarantee of decency, of course - some of their fellow pious Muslims, of a quite different stripe, commit suicide attacks every day in the name of the same God.

Nonetheless, when I compare the protests in Iran today with those in China in 1989, I am more hopeful. I expected the Chinese Communist regime to attack the protesters. Power in this world is the only thing that really matters to them. The ayatollahs in Iran, on the other hand, hold themselves to a higher standard. Some of the religious authorities have criticized the government for attacking the protesters and resisting a clean election result. I have heard that some of these religious authorities have a higher religious status than the supreme leader Khameni, though he is a cleric, too.

Nothing is determined, and there is no way to tell ahead of time how a crisis will be resolved. All I can say is that I see signs for hope in this crisis.


TallCoolOne said...

If by "risky" you mean "courageous" and "temperate", then I agree completely.

As a theological virtue, hope has to be founded on human virtues. Demonstrating two of those four -- and I'm not ruling out justice and prudence here, just becuase they don't stand out so clearly in the post -- makes this position rational.

Of course, it could still be wrong, as you point out. (That's only prudent, I suppose.)

A fine post. Let's all of us pray/think good thoughts for the Iranians and their leaders. This could be a crucual time in Middle Eastern history.

TallCoolOne said...

I should point out, I suppose, that I am relatively skeptical about the Iranian election having been "stolen." Maybe in a somewhat similar way to the U.S. ones in 2000 and 2004, but nothing worse.

What I do think we are seeing is the fact that a chunk -- though I doubt a majority -- of Iranians are tired of the post-1979 development in their country, and are enlisting the assistance of thugs (young males who love a dust-up, whatever the reason) to get what they couldn't manage at the ballot boxes.

None of that changes my suspicion that this really could be a crucual moment in Middle Eastern history. It just clears up, I hope, a bit of what I meant by saying that.

Kerri said...

issues specific to the Middle East aside, TallCoolOne's comment about the 2000 and 2004 elections caught me off guard. "but nothing worse"?

so it's okay if elections are rigged just a little bit? a little bit of scandal and deception is okay? a few miscounts are nothing to sweat over? iran is only in trouble if they're scheming their election results more than we (or those of us with the actual capacity to do so) do in the u.s?

TallCoolOne said...

Kerri: No, it's not fine, and never could be. But neither is trying to force "regime change" without bombs, if the general populace really isn't behind such a move. Both actions subvert democracy and self-determination, and so stand condemned by the moral law.

Now, if this Iranian election had gone the way of Iraq's last one before we invaded, then there would be grounds for believing that the general will of the people had been thwarted deliberately, and various options internally and externally would have opened up as viable and justified.

Under present circumstances, I do not see much merit in proposing those options.

Jon said...

Religiousness of states has hardly been correlated with good behavior in the past.
There were few constraints on princely behavior in the intolerant Christian West in the Dark and Middle Ages, or in the religious Late Byzantine Empire. How Christian was the Bush Adminisration's torture, travel directives, and amazingly thorough corruption? And what misuse DIDN'T happen in the Crusades? No, it's more about how long people've been in office, and what they can get away with.

TallCoolOne, the numbers of votes recorded exceed the numbers of registered voters in over fifty Iranian cities. And, early after vote counting, the Interior Ministry had told newspapers the challenger was likely to win, suggesting the last-minute appearance of ALOT of votes, enough to turn the election, like for LBJ in Texas several decades ago.

Mind you, I'm seeing a pretty limited likely potential upside for the people of Iran, by our standards, even if Mousavi succeeds. Mousavi's known to back the system, unfreedom and all; else he would never've been allowed on the ballot.

TallCoolOne said...

Jon: even the comments posted on the blog entry you cited are skeptical of the claims it makes.

Jon said...

TallCoolOne wrote:
Jon: even the comments posted on the blog entry you cited are skeptical of the claims it makes.

Well, yeah, except for the thread comments that AREN'T skeptical.....

brax4444 said...

I disagree since I believe they use religion as a means of control for the population. I can only provide this recent evidence that they may not regard religion as sacred:

Gruntled said...

Brax, I think this article supports my position:

In his sermon, Rafsanjani said the Islamic Republic must listen to the people's voices. "We believe in the Islamic Republic ... they have to stand together," he said. "If 'Islamic' doesn't exist, we will go astray. And if 'republic' is not there, (our goals) won't be achieved. Where people are not present or their vote is not considered, that government is not Islamic."