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Jewish World Review March 5, 2003 / 1 Adar II, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen | Once again, there is big news out of Iran, and once again the Western media refuse to see what is in front of their noses. Iran held municipal elections over the weekend. All the regime's big guns had implored the people to turn out in record numbers, to demonstrate that the people were committed to participation in the Islamic Republic. Supreme Leader Khamenei, Eminence Grise Rafsanjani, and President Khatami - the vapid matinee idol of the New York and Los Angeles Times apologists - made clear their desperate desire for a record turnout.

Be careful what you ask for. There was a record turnout, but it was a negative record. The official reports speak of a ten-percent turnout in Tehran and other major cities, with higher participation elsewhere. If those numbers were accurate, it would represent a massive abstention, and hence an enormous vote of no confidence in the system. But the real numbers are worse still: Of the roughly seven million people entitled to vote in Tehran, less than 70,000 actually voted. I make that about one percent. These data come directly from a high-ranking official involved in the elections office, who was shocked by the results.

The Iranian people rejected the regime in the most unmistakable way, yet the "story" you read in our newspapers is that the hard liners routed the reformers in something resembling a real election. As if the Iranian people, after years of mass demonstrations against the mullahcracy, after thousands of freedom fighters had sacrificed their lives in protest against Islamic oppression, had suddenly seen the darkness and decided they preferred tyranny to freedom. Or perhaps they had heard the shameful nonsense emanating from the mouth of Deputy Secretary of State Armitage ("Iran is a democracy") and decided that since the Supreme Leader was a confirmed democrat, the best path to liberty was to give the regime a huge vote of confidence.

No way. The elections were a protest non-vote, pure and simple. The pathetic Khatami and his apologists at the BBC and elsewhere in the Western media are now crying that "the system" is being undermined and chances for reform have been weakened, but they have totally missed the point. Chances for reform are nil so long as Khamenei and Rafsanjani are in command, and the Iranian people are disgusted with Khatami's failed promises and empty gestures. He's not only ineffectual, but a coward to boot. He's threatened to resign with monotonous regularity, but never does it. He promised reforms but has produced none at all, and there is manifestly less freedom today than when he came to office.

If we had had any honest reporters in Tehran for the past two weeks, they would have put the elections in their proper context. The vote came hard on the heels of a weeklong demonstration for the benefit of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which visited Iran on a fact-finding mission. Headed by the usual Frenchman, the commission managed to complain about the protracted use of solitary confinement in Iranian prisons. But they did not denounce the more terrible practices such as torture and arbitrary executions.

Indeed, while they were in Iran, the regime rounded up five more newspaper editors and locked them up, with no protest from the commissioners. And apparently the commissioners did not insist on interviewing the country's most celebrated prisoners, like student leader Tabarzadeh or the recently arrested jurist Sholeh Sadi, who had bravely denounced the regime in uncompromising language. And unbeknownst to the commissioners, the regime had staged a "dry run" for the prisoners. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed agents of the regime, pretending to be commissioners, were sent into the prisons to interview prisoners. Those who complained about maltreatment were isolated, and maltreated some more. Those who spoke well about their conditions were permitted to be interviewed by the real commissioners.

G-d willing, Judgment Day is coming to the Middle East, and the long-suffering people of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia will get their chance to be free. I have no doubt that they will have suitably harsh words for the Western governments and journalists who failed to help them, or even tell the real story.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen