Monday, December 18, 2006

Setback for Ahmadinejad

To be sure democracy is something of a sham in Iran. Of the 490 people who initially registered to run for the Assembly of Experts (the more recent the democracy the sillier the titles of the institutions?), 240 were rejected by the Guardian Council, which mainly guards the mullahs' interests. So the choices available to voters are artificially constricted.

Even within the confines of those constricted choices, however, Iranian voters last Friday were able to register at least mild disapproval of President Ahmadinejad, whose most recent stunt was last week's conclave of Holocaust-deniers and Israel haters. Candidates favored by Ahmadinejad didn't" do well in Assembly of Experts and city council races. Those the media call "moderates" did better, though it's difficult to know just what that term means in an Iranian context. Perhaps Iranians were embarrassed by last week's conference.

Even a tyranny rests on implied consent; if all those who disapproved of a tyranny actually revolted, even or especially non-violently, the security forces would never be able to control the situation, as we found out in the former-Soviet empire. The Iranian regime has been told that it has less consent than perhaps it thought it had, and that the president is an embarrassment. We'll see if it has an impact on Ahmadinejad's behavior. It could make a difference in international efforts to at least try to control (or lacking that monitor) Iranian nuclear projects, which might or might not include a weapon.

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