|Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's|
|HOME WEB LOG COUNTRY WIKI COMMENT FORUM DOWNLOADS ABOUT|
Can reformist Mir-Hossein Musavi beat Ahmadinejad in the June 12 elections?
Most analysts expect hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be reelected for a second term as Iran's president in the election scheduled for June 12.
Now that popular reform candidate former president Mohammad Khatami has dropped out of the race, Ahmedinejad's principal opponent is lesser known Mir-Hossein Musavi. Musavi is more conservative than Khatami, but is still considered a reform candidate with a chance of beating Ahmadinejad.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama send an open letter to the Iranian people in the form of a letter and an online video:
This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.
In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place. ...
For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained. But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together. Indeed, you will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope. ...
So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.
You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create."
Supporters of President Obama has described this as a brilliant move, designed to change the dialog between Iran and the West, and reverse the damage done by the evil Bush administration. Opponents of President Obama have described it as sending a message that, in the Persian mind, will be interpreted as defeat and surrender of the United States to the realities of Iran's strength.
In between these two extremes lies a more sober assessment that can be derived from the principles of generational analysis. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Obama's actions appear to have provided support for Ahmadinejad's reform opponents in the upcoming June 12 Iranian elections.
The fact is that Iran is entering an extremely tumultuous political period. It's now 21 years since the end of Iran's last crisis war, which began with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and continued with the Iran/Iraq war, climaxing in 1988. Thus, we can roughly compare today's generational mood in Iran to the generational mood in America in 1966, 21 years after the end of World War II. In 1966, college students were mobilizing for the nationwide protests that led to the Summer of Love, the violent riots that accompanied the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968, the collapse of President Lyndon Johnson's presidential campaign, and the bombings and violence perpetrated by the Weather Underground.
Remember what happened during the 1960s, America's last generational Awakening era. It began in August 1963, when Martin Luther King led a march on Washington in which over 200,000 people participated. Later, President Kennedy was assassinated, and so was King. There were numerous demonstrations and riots throughout the country. There were "long, hot summers," led by the Black Panthers, and there were bombings and declarations of war against the government, led by the Weather Underground.
That's precisely the kind of tumultuous period that Iran is entering right now.
On the one hand you have the older generations that survived the Iran/Iraq war, and who revere those who were killed in the war as martyrs. For these people, the spirit of the Islamic Revolution is as strong today as it was in 1979, and Islamic morality is essential to keeping any such disaster as the Iran/Iraq war from happening again.
On the other hand, you have the generations born after 1984 or so, with no personal memory of either the Islamic Revolution or the Iran/Iraq war, who see the imposition of austere Islamic morality as the ideological demands of doddering old fools.
The most obvious symbol of this generational conflict has been the requirement that Iranian women must wear headscarves that entirely cover their hair, and I've enjoyed making fun, from time to time, of Ahmadinejad's campaign to arrest young women in Tehran who don't follow the strict dress code. (See "Iranian police swoop down on women with loose headscarves.")
In Iran's largest and most violent protests yet, nephew of opposition leader is killed: Iranian police fired on protesters on Sunday,... (28-Dec-2009)
Iran fails to smash student protests, as the Dubai crisis batters its economy: Huge peaceful student protests in cities across Iran were met with violence... (9-Dec-2009)
Theological split in Iran widens as opposition protests continue: The Islamic Republic of Iran versus the Persian Republic of Iran.... (9-Nov-2009)
Iran plays a grand game in international nuclear weapons talks: Will she or won't she?... (26-Oct-2009)
Furious Iran blames Pakistan, US and Britain for Sunday's terrorist attacks: Iran's Revolutionary Guards vow revenge.... (22-Oct-2009)
Big Iran street protests greet Ahmadinejad's fiery denunciations of Israel: Iran's political crisis continues to grow, as the college year begins.... (19-Sep-2009)
Escalating civil war in Yemen threatens to pull in Iran, Saudi Arabia and U.S.: Last week, President Obama said we would help Yemen in its "fight against terrorism,"... (13-Sep-2009)
New Iran demonstrations commemorate the student protests of July 9, 1999: Hardline Iranian mullahs had thought that they had crushed the demonstrations ... (10-Jul-2009)
Ayatollah Ali Khamanei relives his childhood, as Iran arrests UK Embassy employees: Following a week of massacres, protestors have taken to the rooftops,... (28-Jun-2009)
Iran's Khamenei appears desperate, as reports of Tehran massacres grow: An amazing generational battle is proceeding in Iran.... (26-Jun-2009)
A generational explanation of Iran's political crisis: What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?... (23-Jun-2009)
Iran's government panics, as Supreme Leader hints at violence against protesters: Friday's speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was a significant escalation... (20-Jun-2009)
Iran: Violent street demonstrations follow Ahmadinejad's landslide election victory: Opposition supporters are claiming massive election fraud,... (14-Jun-2009)
President Obama casts a vote against Iran's President Ahmadinejad: Can reformist Mir-Hossein Musavi beat Ahmadinejad in the June 12 elections?... (22-Mar-2009)
Stock markets in Iraq and Iran are surging.: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says "it is the end of capitalism."... (17-Oct-2008)
Wall Street Journal describes Iran's generational Awakening era: Young Iranians turn away from the Quran and go for self-help and New Age.... (1-Jul-2008)
Israel conducts mock attack on Iran: The rumor mill is predicting a real attack.... (21-Jun-2008)
China "betrays" Iran, as internal problems in both countries mount: Diplomats say that China has provided Iran's nuclear weapons plans to the UN.... (5-Apr-08)
Iranian speedboats threaten to blow up US ships in Gulf of Hormuz: Question: Why did Iran do it?... (9-Jan-08)
Students at Tehran University risk protest against Ahmadinejad: When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University... (8-Oct-07)
Iran's President Ahmadinejad facing a growing "generation gap": Gas rationing and restrictions on women are infuriating the college-age generation.... (2-Jul-07)
Iranian police swoop down on women with loose headscarves: Sorry, I just can't stop laughing at this one.... (25-Apr-07)
An Iranian scholar says that Tom and Jerry cartoons are a Jewish conspiracy: Professor Hasan Bolkhari is loonier than Ahmadinejad.... (29-Mar-07)
Iran is using cartoons to fight decline in anti-Americanism: Anti-Americanism has been declining in Iran for ten years,... (24-Mar-07)
Iran and Russia increasingly at odds over Iran's nuclear development: Saying that Moscow "will not play anti-American games" with Iran,... (17-Mar-07)
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds two-day Holocaust denial conference: He says that Israel "will soon be wiped out."... (13-Dec-06)
Iran and Ahmadinejad are waiting for the Mahdi: Most people know about the belief by Christian fundamentalists about the Second Coming of Christ,... (22-Aug-06)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a very charismatic leader: In his 60 Minutes interview, he was witty, charming, confident and deadly.... (14-Aug-06)
State of the Union speech displays continuing misreading of Iran: It's wishful thinking to believe that an overthrow of the Mullahs is coming.... (1-Feb-06)
Europe resigns itself to a nuclear Iran: Defiant Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to lead Iran to be the regional superpower,... (16-Jan-06)
Iran appears to be positioning itself as a post-war superpower: Iran restarts its nuclear enrichment program while calling for Israel's removal.... (11-Jan-06)
Feminism flourishes in Iran, as the international crisis on nuclear weapons intensifies: Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, named a hardline Islamist cabinet on Sunday,... (15-Aug-05)
Iran's plan to develop nuclear fuel is "irreversible": France calls it a "major international crisis"... (3-Aug-05)
Ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins Iran Presidential election: I try to find humor wherever I can for this serious web site, and with this guy it's easy.... (25-Jun-05)
Iran: Tehran University student unrest is building against the government: "Moderate" President Mohammad Khatami blamed the hard-line Muslim clerics... (8-Dec-04)Iraq Today vs 1960s America (Revised): They have much in common: Bombings, assassinations, student demonstrations, violent riots, calls for insurrection and civil war and harsh rhetoric. That's much more than a coincidence. (8-May-2004)
Riots in Iran: Will there be a violent overthrow of the Iranian Mullahs? Generational Dynamics says 'No.' (25-Jun-03)
However, the morality drive did not begin with headscarves in 2005. For Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the revival of Islamic morality was an integral part of the Revolution. Khomeini himself created the Islamic "morality bureau" in 1979, to uproot corrupt pre-revolutionary cultural habits.
By the late 1990s, as the first of the young post-Revolution generation began to reach manhood, Tehran's culture was changing. Kids were willing to accept Islam as their religion, but saw no contradiction in also adopting European and American styles and behaviors. The morality police were beginning to arrest young people who violated Islamic dress and behavior rules.
That gave rise to the "reformist" movement and the election of Mohammad Khatami (whom we mentioned at the beginning of this article) in the 1997 presidential elections. He was reelected in 2001.
In November 2002, and again in May 2003, violent student protests raged in Tehran over the death sentence imposed by the Islamic courts on Hashem Aghajari, a history professor at a Tehran university.
Aghajari was a Iran war hero -- have lost his leg while serving in the Iran/Iraq war.
However, he enraged conservatives in Iran in 2002 when he questioned the rule of clerics, and said that Muslims should not follow Islamic clerics "like monkeys". The student protests were triggered when he was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2002, and again when the sentence was confirmed in 2003. Finally, he was released in 2004 in reaction to increased political pressure from students and intellectuals.
By 2003, the student movement was growing, and so was anger at "reformist" Mohammad Khatami, according to student leader Saeed Razavi-Faqih, in a 2003 interview:
Old fogies in America's Boomer generation may feel a certain familiarity with the above rhetoric -- it's very similar to the rhetoric used by students in America's Awakening era in the 1960s. If you have a moment, go back and read the letter from Mark Rudd of Columbia University that I quoted several years ago. The more you read about this kind of rhetoric from students during Awakening eras for students in different countries, you realize that it's all bluster and that it all sounds the same.
Razavi-Faqih continued as follows, when asked what the students will do next:
Thus, the election of hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2005 was a major blow to the student movement.
I've written about student unrest in Iran a number of times on this web site. (See for example "Iran: Tehran University student unrest is building against the government" for unrest targeting President Khatami in 2004, and "Students at Tehran University risk protest against Ahmadinejad" from 2007.)
I've written about it because it's the hallmark of a generational Awakening era, one that begins a generation past the end of a crisis war.
(For information about generational Awakening eras, see "Basics of Generational Dynamics." For information about America's Awakening era in the 1960s-70s, see "Iraq Today vs 1960s America." For information about the Summer of Love, see "Boomers commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.")
One thing that I've always found pleasing -- going back as far as 2000 -- was that I'd occasionally read news stories about pro-American student demonstrations in Tehran. It was such a pleasant contrast to the anti-Americanism that seemed to exist everywhere else, including even the American press. And when Palestinians were dancing in the streets after the 9/11 attacks, Iranians were expressing genuine sympathy.
I've written several times about the schizophrenic national strategy that Iran has been exhibiting. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what's important is the behavior and attitudes of large masses of people, entire generations of people. The attitudes and behaviors of the politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they reflect the attitudes of the people.
Thus, when I've analyzed Iran's strategy, I've had to emphasize the effects and potential outcomes of the drastically different attitudes of the older generation politicians and people -- the "kids." I have absolutely no doubt that the kids are going to win this political battle. The only question is -- when?
And when we discuss politics, we have to go back to 2002. Possibly no single sentence has roiled Iranian politics in the last decade more than President Bush's statement, in 2002, naming Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the new "axis of evil."
Here's what NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote in 2002:
But what is striking is how much President Bush's branding of Iran as part of an "axis of evil" (along with Iraq and North Korea) intensified this discussion. At first, reformers in Parliament and the media were embarrassed by Mr. Bush's statement, which hard-liners used against them as "proof" that America would never have ties with the Islamic Republic. But since then, reformers have retaliated by pointing to the "axis of evil" accusation and saying to the hard-liners: "Look where your policies have led us."
Add to this the reduction in U.S. visas for Iranians since Sept. 11, which has dispirited many Iranian college students, and the shock the Iranians had two weeks ago when Russia, their longtime backer, effectively joined NATO, and you can understand why a lot of people here are rethinking ties with Washington. ...
I don't know what the final outcome will be, but I do know this: If Secretary of State Colin Powell were to announce tomorrow that he was ready to fly to Tehran and put everything on the table -- an end to sanctions, Iran's nuclear program, its support for Palestinian terrorists, diplomatic relations -- he would light this place on fire."
That column appeared on June 12, 2002. And now we're headed for an election on June 12, 2009, and President Obama has done -- sort of -- what Thomas Friedman has suggested. When we say "sort of," we mean that no real policies have yet changed. The Iranians are still enriching uranium and producing plutonium (ingredients in both reactor fuel and nuclear weapons). And last week, Obama signed a renewal of the US economic and trading sanctions against Iran.
Still, for those who believe that words can change the world, will Obama's remarks "light [Tehran] on fire?"
Since the kids are going to win the generational political battle eventually, the kids may get a victory on June 12, and that's the possible scenario that has to be considered.
Analysts that I've heard on BBC say that Ahmadinejad is heavily favored to win. They point to his popularity in parts of Tehran, and especially in the rural villages scattered around Iran's countryside.
However, Ahmadinejad may not be as popular in rural areas as he used to be, according to one recent news story:
According to the March 6 Guardian report on the incident, after the repeated shoe-throwing and booing's, the security guards scrambled to catch the offending individuals but were unable to do so. Instead, the president's automobile quickly sped away to avoid further embarrassment. Following the incident, all the president's provincial excursion tours have been indefinitely cancelled and the Iranian media have been strictly forbidden to report on the episode—for very good reason."
Of course much of the world press, including the Iranian press, has been very gleeful in describing the shoe-throwing incident directed at then-President George Bush visiting Iraq. So these new incidents might be described as examples of the old saying, "What goes around comes around."
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's not a surprise that there's a change in attitude among rural voters that's similar to the change in attitude among Tehran students. After all, the change is a generational change, and the same young generations are growing up in rural areas.
So if the shoe-throwing incident in Orumieh represents a widespread change in rural attitudes towards Ahmadinejad, then he could indeed be in serious trouble in the June 12 election.
That's the reason why the title of this article is, "President Obama casts a vote against Iran's President Ahmadinejad." In the current climate, the kids are going to support the reformist candidate, and Obama may have given their cause a boost.
The main reformist candidate was originally going to be Mohammad Khatami, but he stepped down last week, giving as a reason that there were several "reformist" candidates, and he didn't want to split the vote, although other news stories hint that he was pressured, and perhaps threatened with violence.
That leaves the hopes of the reformists in Mir-Hossein Musavi. Musavi also served in the Iran/Iraq war, but he's less well-known than Khatami, and his "reformist" credentials are sometimes questioned by student groups. Furthermore he will have to split the vote with another "reformist" candidate, Medhi Karrubi.
Today, the election favorite would have to be Ahmadinejad. However, the election is now 2½ months away, and that amount of time is an eternity in politics.
If Ahmadinejad loses, then President Obama's supporters will undoubtedly claim some of the credit for him. This will be a bright spot for him, since the financial crisis and other policy areas will give him little or nothing to crow about.
(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion,
as well as more frequent updates on this subject, see the Iran
thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.)
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal
Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004
Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004