Thursday, June 18, 2009

Former NSC Officials Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett: Ahmadinejad won. Get over it.

I respect both Flynt and and Hillary Leverett -- two former National Security Council policy experts -- greatly, especially for their efforts to stop Bush-Cheney from attacking Iran, so I am taking a good, hard look at this op-ed they wrote:

With regard to electoral irregularities, the specific criticisms made by Mousavi — such as running out of ballot paper in some precincts and not keeping polls open long enough (even though polls stayed open for at least three hours after the announced closing time) — could not, in themselves, have tipped the outcome so clearly in Ahmadinejad’s favor.

Moreover, these irregularities do not, in themselves, amount to electoral fraud even by American legal standards. And, compared with the U.S. presidential election in Florida in 2000, the flaws in Iran’s electoral process seem less significant.

In the wake of Friday’s election, some “Iran experts” — perhaps feeling burned by their misreading of contemporary political dynamics in the Islamic Republic — argue that we are witnessing a “conservative coup d’├ętat,” aimed at a complete takeover of the Iranian state.

But one could more plausibly suggest that if a “coup” is being attempted, it has been mounted by the losers in Friday’s election. It was Mousavi, after all, who declared victory on Friday even before Iran’s polls closed. And three days before the election, Mousavi supporter Rafsanjani published a letter criticizing the leader’s failure to rein in Ahmadinejad’s resort to “such ugly and sin-infected phenomena as insults, lies and false allegations.” Many Iranians took this letter as an indication that the Mousavi camp was concerned their candidate had fallen behind in the campaign’s closing days.

I have said before and I'll say it again that it's much too premature for us to say the election was basically a fraud without clear evidence being presented. There is one thing that would put an end to all this: a clear and accountable recount and inquiry. It may be what is needed if Iran is to stay together through all this.