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And The Losers Are.................

Discussion in 'Middle Eastern Politics' started by The Bare Knuckled Pundit, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit Active Member

    May 21, 2009
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    Charleston, WV
    Tom Petty lyrically proclaimed "even the losers get lucky sometimes". In the case of many on our list today, that's certainly true. Indeed, many of the losers over the course of the past weekend's headline-garnering events in the Middle East were among the winners identified in Monday's post. What this highlights is the dichotomy of victory and defeat in politics - that both are rarely absolute and in fact are often incomplete.

    Victors are often critically wounded, left bloodied and battered, their victory's Pyrrhic and hollow. Though defeated, those who live to fight another day may well rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix. That being said, let's shift our gaze to the forlorn but hopeful souls that landed among the losers this past weekend.

    The Losers

    The Iranian Regime
    - Regardless of whether or not the massive election fraud alleged by Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters actually occurred, the belief that it did among a significant portion of the Iranian public has sparked a crisis of legitimacy for the regime. Even though candidate choice is severely limited by the review process of the Guardian Council, there has generally been an acceptance of the legitimacy of the final vote for president among the approved contenders. Friday's results have called that into question in very stark terms.

    Not only does the regime find itself assailed by the Mousavi camp, it must be mindful of the expectations of the declared winner and incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his supporters, the Revolutionary Guard and their civilian counterparts, the Basij. They believe they have won the day, with Ahmadinejad officially having been declared the victor and subsequently receiving the blessing of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They see no reason why the unrest and turmoil should be tolerated. The unwillingness of the regime to aggressively quell demonstrations and dissent, as well as the Guardian Council's review of Mousavi's allegations and the accompanying partial recount have similarly led to questions of it's legitimacy among hardliners and their supporters. Accordingly, the regime is under growing pressure from the entrenched, status quo faction as well as the reformist camp. How it hopes to extricate itself from it's precarious position without massive repression one can only imagine. Were it able to do so, though, would a true feat of unparalleled political finesse and gymnastics.

    Finally, the regime also finds itself losing on the technological and informational front. The days since Friday's contested election have clearly demonstrated the loss of monopoly over communications as well as information control and flow that authoritarian regimes have enjoyed in the past. Despite the regime's best efforts to stymie reporting on the post-election protests, the Internet has provided Iranians with a conduit to get word and images of the restive and tense state of affairs out to the world. Though traditional journalists have been placed under virtual house arrest until their visas expire, citizen reporters and domestic political activists continue to thwart the regime as their updates fill Twitter, their video runs on YouTube and CNN and images of the unrest amass on Flickr.

    The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the revolution that led to the regime's founding three decades ago was due in part to the Shah's inability to control the dissemination of the then-exiled Ayatollah Khomenei's sermons and political diatribes that were spread to the Iranian masses via cassette tape, as ubiquitous then as cellphones are today.

    The Mainstream Media
    - The MSM (mainstream media) started behind the curve and never caught up on it's coverage of the Iranian election. Coming late to the game, it allowed itself to become enamored of the challenger, Mousavi, and quickly adopted the impending electoral upset storyline. After aggressively pushing Ahmadinejad's impending defeat, the MSM was caught flat-footed when the smirking incumbent was quickly declared the victor.

    Subsequently, our dear friends in the MSM displayed their tendency for stale, uninspired group think and recycled, inappropriate analogies as they then bandied about comparisons of Mousavi's claims of election fraud to the controversy surrounding Florida's dreaded hanging chads in the 2000 presidential election. Do they actually want to sound like a gaggle of mindless, monotone parrots repeating the same sad analogies from channel to channel or is there one lone writer for the entire field of satellite/cable news?

    Pardon me, Ms. Maddow, but we're not talking about interpreting a few thousand poorly punched ballots here. This is premeditated, deliberate fraud involving millions of votes. None of them involving chads, I might add. I know this might be confusing for those of you still fuming about Bush's "stolen" 2000 victory, but do try to keep up, nonetheless.

    If matters weren't bad enough for the MSM, it then found itself on the receiving end of a devastating one-two punch. First, it was lambasted for it's failure to give proper attention to the days immediately following Friday's election; CNN in particular fell under scathing fire on Twitter. Then, once it did get it's act together the regime placed everyone under virtual house arrest till their reporting visa expired. Over the course of four short days, the MSM summarily lost both it's credibility and relevancy.

    Buck up, lil campers! While you may not be on-the-scene, or anywhere remotely close, for that matter, at least you leave Tehran with your head held high and your journalistic integrity intact! In the meantime, we'll go to Twitter for the latest live updates.

    The Palestinians -
    Though hopeful that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would see the err of his hawkish ways and embrace the light of change emanating from the White House, the Palestinians were duly disappointed when Bebe in essence told them to pound sand. While acknowledging their right to independence, Netanyahu laid down a set of terms that would leave a Palestinian state a militarily-castrated, semi-sovereign entity.

    Furthermore, the Israeli hawk defended the Jewish state's right to "naturally expand" settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, rejected the "right of return" for displaced Arabs across the Middle East and, adding insult to disappointed injury, apologetically declared that Jerusalem would forevermore remain the undivided capital of Israel. While Netanyahu's acquiescence to an eventual Palestinian state was a step forward, it was one that many in the occupied territories felt landed squarely on their throats.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -
    Let's be honest, shall we? Bebe was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Accept an eventual Palestinian state and halt settlement expansion and he would come under fire from his own ruling coalition. Reject the two and incur the wrath of the Obama administration on top of the angered disappointment of the Palestinians. To his credit, Bebe was no shrinking violet and opted to either disappoint or enrage everyone concerned.

    Yes to an eventual Palestinian state, albeit an impotent, semi-sovereign one. No to freezing settlement expansion, right of return and division of Jerusalem. While no one's happy, everyone got something; much like the Christmas when your mom was on the anti-materialism kick and gave everyone homemade notepads full of positive daily affirmations and handwritten hug and kiss coupons. Grumbling as they walked away, everyone wanted to redeem one of the coupons in exchange for a kiss where good-intentioned mom never would have imagined.

    "Oh yeah, it's a Merry Christmas, alright, Mom. Ho, friggin' ho! Now, how about you kiss my...." In essence, that's how Netanyahu's compromise left friend and adversary alike.

    The White House -
    Last, but certainly not least in our lineup of losers are our good friends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Not only did Bebe Netanyahu invite them to join the Palestinians in pounding sand by rejecting a halt to settlement expansion, they also took fire from Conservatives for their spot-on low key response to events in Iran.

    Again, we have another case of the aforementioned damned if you do, damned if you don't syndrome. Respond too aggressively to the controversy in Iran and you play into the hands of the mullahs in Tehran; Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have already pulled out the old saw of accusing Washington of meddling in Iran's internal affairs and fueling the bitter demonstrations and unrest. Given our involvement in the Mossadegh affair and the subsequent paranoia and suspicion that is endemic in the Iranian body politic, the White House is on sound ground taking the low key approach.

    Furthermore, if you bow to calls from the Right for a more robust and resolute response, you then increase the political costs of dealing with whoever the eventual winner is in Tehran. One need look back no farther than George H. Bush's administration and the condemnation heaped on him by many of his fellow Republicans for dealing with the "Butchers of Beijing" after Tienanmen Square for an example of the price president's pay for pursuing a realist-based foreign policy in the wake of foreign political crises that Americans find to be morally and politically abhorrent.

    On the other hand, by taking the low key approach, the administration must endure condemnation for being indifferent, unprincipled, calloused and weak-willed. Ah, the curse of power, to suffer the snakes and arrows regardless of how noble or forthright one's intentions may ultimately be.

    Remember, faithful readers, even the losers keep a little bit of pride and get lucky sometimes.

    Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and we sit on the roof, smokin' cigarettes and staring at the moon.

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