Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iran's Revolution Enters a New Stage

When I first began commenting on the Iranian election I  argued that the Polish experience in 1980-1 and then 1988-9 offered a useful comparison.  That was already getting doubtful yesterday, but is most definitely true after the violence reported today.  Today's crackdown appears to have been bloodier than anything that happened when Jaruzelski declared martial law.  Nor does it seem likely that Mousavi and Khamenei will be able to sit down at a round table and work things out.  All that remains applicable is that Iran's economy is a mess and cannot be used as a basis for buying off the people as part of a post crackdown normalization process.  Interestingly as this was beginning to become clear, Andrew Sullivan posted a comment drawing parallels with the Revolution that ousted Slobodan Milosevic.  When I first began considering possible comparisons, I did think of that Serbian Revolution, but dismissed it for reasons that seemed good at the time, but do not now.  I will say though that the apparatus behind the Iranian Revolution is much deeper than it was in Serbia, where once Milosevic was toppled the infrastructure that had supported him fell apart fairly quickly.  That does not seem to be happening in Iran.  Indeed the resistance put up by the regime is a reminder that it has considerable support to draw on, though whether that support is sufficient to keep Khamenei and Ahmadinejad in power seems doubtful though how long the battle of wills that has now come into the open will last is an open question.

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