Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Jun-05
Iran holding chaotic runoff election on Friday

Web Log - June, 2005

Iran holding chaotic runoff election on Friday

Iran and Iraq are generational twins, and their elections show it.

To understand Iran's elections, you have to realize that Iran is in a "generational awakening" era, since just one generation has passed since the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s.

America's last awakening period was the 1960s, one generation past WW II, and last year I wrote an article comparing Iraq today to America in the 1960s. Generational awakening periods are characterized by political hostility between older and younger generations, but there is no civil war or violent revolutions, as there may be during generational crisis periods. America's last awakening period caused two Presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, to leave office in disgrace.

Generational conflict

That kind of generational conflict is going on today.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The old hard-line geezer mullahs are supporting the ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the 49 year old appointed mayor of Tehran.

Most of Iran's population is under age 25, thanks to the number of deaths in the Iran/Iraq war. And the kids, also known as the "pro-reformist group," are trying to block "Iranian Taliban," often by using text messaging to spread cutting humor:

"Ahmadinejad announces his ministries: ministry of the evil, ministry of censorship, ministry of the Revolutionary Guard, ministry of religious paramilitaries."

The hard-line Iran leadership had shut down two pro-reformist newspapers just to prevent this kind of regressive, counter-revolutionary humor, but the kids are thwarting the hard-liners by using text messaging.

The text messaging revolution

Another text message refers to a Tehran traffic directive that allows cars with license plates ending in odd numbers into the city center on one day and those with even numbers the next day, and mocks a conservative preference for segregation of the sexes in public:

"The odd/even directive is being expanded to have one day when women can go out on the street, while men are allowed out the next day."

Text messaging is infuriating the mullahs, so much that Iran's ultra-conservative judiciary has now threatened to prosecute people who send text messages with the aim of "denigrating" candidates.

The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been sharply critical of this kind of stuff. "Are you aware of what you are doing?," he said in a statement. "Are you aware that what you are doing is aimed at creating a crisis and pessimism among people, and is in line with what our enemies want to do to the revolution and the Islamic republic, and it will catch up with you, too? ... Others may have similar protests. Do you think they should have the right to question everything as well? I was not expecting this from you. And I will not allow anyone to create crisis in the country."

I can easily imagine similar words coming out of the mouths of Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon in the 1960s.

Khamenei's fellow hard-liners came to power in 1979, following a series of very violent student revolts that overthrew the existing government in a civil war. Khamenei is seeing students acting the same way, and is concerned that history is going to repeat itself, and his government will be violently overthrown in a similar civil war. What he doesn't understand is that such a civil war is impossible during a generational awakening period, just as a civil war has been impossible in Iraq (which I've pointed out on this web site dozens of times in the last two years).

Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

The kids are supporting the 70-year-old ex-President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, since 1979 one of the two most powerful men within Iranís ruling hierarchy.

Political turmoil

It is indeed an irony, isn't it, that the kids are supporting the "moderate" 70 year old, while the mullahs are supporting the 49 year old Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, that's a tribute to Rafsanjani as a very skillful politician, re-defining himself as just that -- a moderate and a pragmatist -- in contrast to his hard-line opponent.

Some commentators are claiming that a victory by either candidate is bad news for America because Iran's hard line policies will continue or worsen. Such commentators don't understand generational awakening eras. No matter who wins, the political conflict across the "generation gap" is going to grow, until some climax is reached.

There are two kinds of climaxes. One kind is an "internal revolution" within the government that gives the kids a political victory. The resignation of Richard Nixon is an example of this kind of internal revolution.

The other kind of climax is a hard government crackdown on the kids. The best recent example of this is the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 in China, when three million college students demonstrated in Beijing and thousands were killed by government forces. This massacre gave rise to the Falun Gong movement, which is the philosophical underpinning to a coming major civil war in China.

It's not possible to predict how or when Iran's awakening period will climax, but we can be certain that the level of political turmoil will be enormous.

Nuclear weapons development

This brings us to the final topic: What about Iran's nuclear weapon development program? Will the kids force the mullahs to give up nuclear weapons development?

Quite the contrary. This is something that the kids and mullahs agree on. They both want Iran to have nuclear weapons for "defensive" purposes, and little can be done to prevent Iran from developing those weapons.

What about using Iranian nuclear weapons on Israel? Surely the kids won't approve of that.

That's true, but this is a political decision that Generational Dynamics can't predict. The behaviors and attitudes of large masses of people are quite predictable, and Generational Dynamics does that.

But a decision to use nuclear weapons on Israel will be made by a few mullahs, and no one can predict the actions of one person or a small group of politicians.

Iran's future is enormously complicated by the fact that Israel and the Palestinians are headed for war. At that time, Iran will be forced to support the Palestinians with troops and with weapons. Iranian moms will be very reluctant to send their young men into another war, after all the losses in the Iran/Iraq war; but there's little doubt that Iranian nuclear weapons will be used on Israel, once they're available. (23-Jun-05) Permanent Link
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