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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 28-Jun-2009
Ayatollah Ali Khamanei relives his childhood, as Iran arrests UK Embassy employees

Web Log - June, 2009

Ayatollah Ali Khamanei relives his childhood, as Iran arrests UK Embassy employees

Following a week of massacres, protestors have taken to the rooftops, where they chant "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). The chants can be heard across Tehran every night around 10 pm, in defiance of the Islamic regime.

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Unfortunately, the protestors still aren't entirely safe from violence by the Revolutionary Guards and the Basiji militia who "are carrying out brutal nighttime raids, destroying property in private homes and beating civilians in an attempt to stop nightly protest chants," according to Human Rights Watch.

In some ways, what happened on Saturday is the most bizarre event of all, as Iran arrested nine people in the British embassy in Tehran.

I've written dozens of analyses of Iran on this web site in the last six years, and I've always emphasized one thing: That Iran's domestic and foreign policies are ALWAYS geared toward recapturing the "spirit" of the Islamic revolution of 1979. The regime has seen this "spirit" erode year after year, as Iran enters its generational Awakening era, and young people born after the revolution make their voices heard.

One of the major events of the 1979 revolution was the Iranian hostage crisis:

"The exiled Ayatollah [Ruhollah] Khomeini returned to Tehran in February 1979 and whipped popular discontent into rabid anti-Americanism. When the Shah came to America for cancer treatment in October, the Ayatollah incited Iranian militants to attack the U.S. On November 4, the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and its employees taken captive. The hostage crisis had begun."

The hostage crisis lasted 444 days, and was a major international event. It dominated American news for the entire period, and is thought to be the reason that Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini lead the Islamic Revolution, and was the first supreme leader of Iran's Islamic state.

Today's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is reliving his childhood by the bizarre act of arresting British Embassy employees. Yes, Khamenei was 40 years old in 1979, and not exactly in his childhood, but today's actions can best be described in that way.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that this will work. What works in a generational Crisis era does not work in a generational Awakening era. The youthful protestors, who are largely pro-West and pro-American anyway, will see through this as a shallow political ploy.

Meanwhile, Khamenei and Iran are being strongly condemned by the UK and the European Union, and the EU warned of a "strong and collective response," unless the employees are released.

Who is worse: Ali Khamenei or Richard Nixon?

This question is prompted by a message from an online correspondent:

"I agree with you that Khamenei could end up humiliated (or dying), but so too will Rafsanjani and most of the older clerical establishment within the next few years.

Ironically Ahmadinejad right now aside from being hated by the North Tehran Gucci crowd has more popular legitimacy than any other figure, including among the young Basiji. I suspect the import of the [Arab] Hezbollah folks is for having a more battle hardened cadre to inspire/train the young Basiji, although the Twitterers have claimed that itıs because the Iranian troops are hesitant to attack the protesters.

For the record, I am convinced that Ahmadinejad actually won the election (maybe not by 63%, but he won nonetheless and the quick vote count is a total red herring; there are only 850 ballots per voting station) and that [opposition candidate Mir-Hossein] Mousavi is really at best a [former Senator George] McGovern figure, but probably less significant than that. Mousavi could be coopted somehow, but really his wife is the one with a following.

Let a few more years go by and power of the younger generation will grow, both of the North Tehranis and the rural/urban poor folks. My Iranian friends here in Vancouver reluctantly agree that there is an urban/rural + rich/poor split being revealed; but both are opposed to the clerical establishment."

Senator George McGovern was the Democratic "peace" candidate running against Richard Nixon in America's 1972 Presidential election. McGovern lost 49 states to Nixon, and was rarely heard from again. However, once the election was over, Nixon was immediately embroiled in the Watergate scandal, and was forced to resign in 1974.

Comparing McGovern to Mousavi is a very interesting insight, and it leads to an equally interesting question: Who was the worse leader in a generational Awakening era, Supreme leader Ali Khamenei or President Richard Nixon?

Khamenei appears to be much worse than Nixon was. Nixon's peace plan may not have satisfied the protestors, but at least he ATTEMPTED to compromise and buy time. But Khamenei's "Fuck you, take it or leave it and die" attitude, combined with his willingness to spray bullets into crowds of peaceful protestors, is a disaster in a generational Awakening era.

At the top level, an Awakening era is never anything more than a conflict between the Prophet generation (the first generation to grow up after a crisis war) and their parents.

There's little doubt that the young Basiji paramilitaries support Ahmadinejad's presidency, but I haven't read anything that would lead me to believe that a young Basiji who favors Ahmadinejad over Mousavi is willing, on a sustained basis, to beat and club and shoot to kill other young Iranian men and women, just because they favor Mousavi over Ahmadinejad. This is particularly true in an Awakening era.

In 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired at student protestors at Kent State University, killing four of them. The Kent State shootings were a disaster for the Nixon administration, and I expect the murder of Neda and other student protestors in Iran will be a disaster for Khamenei. There's a real possibility that Khamenei will be humiliated and forced to step down within a few weeks.


I apologize to my readers for having so few postings lately, but my mind has been a total blank. I can't get excited about writing about anything. I've covered the Iran situation. There are new suicide bombings in Pakistan, but I have nothing new to say. The financial crisis is deepening, but on the surface everything looks great. The world is drifting along in a "steady state," waiting for something to happen.

Is this the calm before the storm? That's the real question, since there's so much going on, in Iran, in Iraq, in China, in North Korea, in Pakistan, in India, in Gaza, and economies from Latvia to China are collapsing. But it's all just below the surface, while the surface seems calm.

Will the calm extend through the summer into the fall? Or will some chaotic-type event break through sooner than that?

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (28-Jun-2009) Permanent Link
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