Like Justin, I’m pulling for Iran’s Greenies. No, Mousavi’s worldview and goals aren’t radically different from Ahmadinejad’s; if they were, his candidacy wouldn’t have been approved by the clerics. Nor are the people out in Tehran’s streets good little junior Americans, much less state-hating libertarians like me. But the protesters strike me as decent people with understandable grievances, and Mousavi does have a different temperament than Ahmadinejad, which, as Obama has demonstrated in the last week, actually matters sometimes. (For the first time since the inauguration, I’ve had reason to be relieved that that one beat the other one, because at least the former, while dedicated in principle to all the same fundamentals as the latter, isn’t an impetuous hothead. Obama may yet decide to bomb Iran into compliance with pristine Chicago election standards, but â€“ and I truly hate the phrase “X would have been worse” â€“ Allah only knows what McCain, who combines all the worst traits of a hormone-addled adolescent and a mean old fart, would have done by now.)
In addition to having a better temperament, Mousavi hasn’t yet been fitted for his custom-made caricature. If he miraculously ends up becoming Iran’s president, it will take America’s Mideast hegemonists a few months to affix the Haji Hitler mask to Mousavi’s unfamiliar visage, which may be enough time to head off new sanctions or an Israeli air strike. Moreover, it will be difficult, though hardly impossible, for all the establishment commentators who have made a secular Bodhisattva of Mousavi to take it all back when he, unsurprisingly, protests the U.S. encirclement of his country and insists on Iran’s rights to nuclear energy. In fact, if the mullahs were crafty chess masters, they would invalidate the election results â€“ regardless of who actually won â€“ and install Mousavi immediately. This would be an enormous boost to their domestic credibility (they could blame all the fraud on Ahmadinejad), and it would leave their international critics speechless â€“ again, at least for a while.
But, sadly, that probably won’t happen, so it’s best for those who want peace to emphasize the primacy of negotiations with the Iranian government over the proper composition of that government. And to those who suddenly know, know, KNOW everything about Iranian politics and society: please acquire some self-awareness and humility. A lot of you guys knew, knew, KNEW everything about Iraq seven years ago, and we see the glorious dividends of your omniscience today. If you sincerely want to help your newfound friends in Iran, your first priority should be making sure that our own government (or the one in Jerusalem that it funds and backs to the hilt) doesn’t out-murder the Basij a thousand times over with bombs and missiles.