Friday, July 01, 2005

Iran Elects Conservative Hard-Liner, Washington Suspicious

It was a battle between liberal and conservative, and the conservative won amid accusations of election fraud. No, I am not talking about the 2000 or 2004 US presidential elections. I'm talking about Iran's June 25 presidential elections. The victory of the conservative Mohmoud Ahmadinejad over the moderate Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani completes conservative Islamists' takeover of all the branches of the Iranian government.
"He will turn this country into Taliban-land" one fearful citizen declared. "We are doomed."

Ahmadinejad has the reputation as a political opportunist and a religious fundamentalist. He is viewed as corrupt with a huge personal fortune. Who in their right mind would elect this type of person during such tumultuous times? Yes, he won. But how did he do it?

The previous president Hashemi Rafsanjani , the moderate opponent, received limited international support during his presidency. The European Union did not want to offend Iranian conservatives essential for trade. Meanwhile, the White House was busy turning Iran into a world community pariah ever since the revolution 26 years ago, culminating with President Bush's labeling of Iran as a member of the "axis of evil."

Apparently, Bush's approach played right into Iranian conservative's hands, preventing any reformist action while making conservative's look tough in the face of Western rhetoric. In light of this, Ahmadinejad's ultra-conservative views and tough talk resonated with voters. He has promised to resist "Western decadence", to build a "powerful modern Islamic Iran" and to continue Iran's nuclear program.

Of course Washington is trying to immediately dismiss the election as a fraud, much like it did with Ukraine's election of an ultra-conservative. When the American people elect a fanatical, tough-talking, right wing religious conservative to be president it is one thing. When Iran does it it's quite another. American's would never allow their leaders to abuse power, hurt innocent countries, and become uncooperative in the world community. Americans would never allow our country to let it's own self-interest run roughshod based on tough talk met only on at level of our own fears. We would never be placated or assuaged in that way. After-all, we have a free press to keep leaders in-line and get the facts, a system of checks and balances to prevent total take-over of government, and we have elections periodically to make sure inept or overly-aggressive leaders are removed.


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