Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Op-Ed Round-Up (and What's Happening in Iran?)

The primary topic of discussion: the Iranian elections, which I have been woefully deficient in covering. Bottom line: Pres. Ahmadinejad won with ~63% of the vote over Prime Minister Mousavi...but under somewhat dubious circumstances that have sparked violent protests over the past several days. With seven dead, to date, as a result of the violence, the Iranian Council tied to the Supreme Leader has agreed to a limited recount of certain balloting boxes. Mr. Mousavi and his supporters have publicly said that they do not have much faith in the "independent" findings of the investigating panel. (Meanwhile, analysts speculate about the stability of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, and President Ahmadinejad meets with Russian President Medvedev at a summit of rising economic powers.)
  • David Ignatius advises President Obama to carry on the message he conveyed in his Cairo speech-- to encourage a democratic system in Iran, but to respect the results that the people ultimately choose. The worst thing the US could do is seem to be meddling as it would undermine Mousavi and the reformers.
  • Jeffrey Gedmin of Radio Free Europe in Prague encourages Obama to urge the current Iranian government to open their election to international observers and a free media, especially if Ahmadinejad is so confident of his victory. Note- no one really seems to know what the people of Iran really want politically, so it's entirely possible that Ahmadinejad won...but it seems that people really want their voice to be heard, unobstructed by charges of electoral corruption.
  • Richard Cohen writes of the prevalence of anti-Semitism in modern Middle Eastern culture, despite how much it surprises people in the US when it appears, as it did at the US Holocaust Museum. Incidentally, this is relevant because it may well have played into the Iranian people's vote in this latest contested election.
  • Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty point out that President Ahmadinejad may well have won the election in Iran, although it's difficult to know because of the challenges of electoral polling in that closed-off nation.
  • Roger Cohen writes a moving account of "Iran's Day of Anguish," and a subsequent article on the protests that have become commonplace in an "Iran on a Razor's Edge."
  • On a separate, but related topic, Thomas L. Friedman writes of Election Day in Lebanon-- an election so far not marred by problems like Iran has seen...and in which the people largely spoke in favor of independence from Syrian and Iranian influence.
  • On a separate topic, but just as interesting column: Frank Rich writes of "The Obama Haters' Silent Enablers"-- how the latest hate violence (against abortion provider Dr. George Tiller and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum) is just an outward manifestation of a lot of hatred that many people feel-- and that many conservatives (especially news outlets like FOX) are not-so-subtly enabling.

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