Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let’s just compare numbers of dead people

Spot’s rather late to the discussion about the aftermath of the Iranian election. There isn’t much to add, but maybe a little comparison of death tolls is in order. Numbers of the fatalities are hard to come by in the case of Iran; there is the heart-wrenching and galvanizing YouTube of the young woman felled by a bullet. According to one Iranian human rights organization, the death toll now stands at 32. Many more are surely injured.

But compare:

Bomb Kills at Least 60 in Baghdad Market:

BAGHDAD — A bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded Wednesday evening in Baghdad’s Sadr City, killing at least 60 people in a popular clothes and vegetable market as it was thronged with shoppers who had waited for sundown before venturing into the hot summer weather, according to the Iraqi interior ministry.

It was at least the third bombing in two weeks to result in double digit casualties in Shiite communities [never mind Fallujah]. On Saturday, a truck bomb in Taza, a Shiite Turkmen area in northern Iraq, killed at least 68 people. Earlier in the month, a car bomb exploded outside Nasiriya, the capital of a predominantly Shiite province in southern Iraq where bombs are rare, killing at least 28 people and inciting a near riot among survivors who threw stones at the police, blaming them for lax security.

But Spot, Iraq is so yesterday.

Yes grasshopper, you’re right. But what about this:

U.S. Drone Strike Said to Kill 60 in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An airstrike believed to have been carried out by a United States drone killed at least 60 people at a funeral for a Taliban fighter in South Waziristan on Tuesday, residents of the area and local news reports said.

Details of the attack, which occurred in Makeen, remained unclear, but the reported death toll was exceptionally high. If the reports are indeed accurate and if the attack was carried out by a drone, the strike could be the deadliest since the United States began using the aircraft to fire remotely guided missiles at members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The United States carried out 22 previous drone strikes this year, as the Obama administration has intensified a policy inherited from the Bush administration.

They must have all been Taliban, Spot; our missile wouldn’t kill innocent civilians.

If you say so grasshopper. Hard to tell from the air, though. But just doing a rough comparison, these two incidents have resulted in roughly four times the death toll than that reported by the Iranian organization. But it’s the Iranians that have got guys like Tom Friedman and Charles Krauthammer excited into incontinence.

Why do you suppose that is?

Krauthammer writes:

WASHINGTON -- Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents. The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side.

Millions? Well, I told you that Charlie was excited. Both Friedman and Krauthammer would have the US egg the demonstrators on. Easy enough to do when you don’t have any skin in the game. But consider:

Stephen Kinzer’s book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, tells the story of the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mosaddeq, by the CIA and the British MI6 in 1953. The CIA bribed Iranian government officials, businessmen, and reporters, and paid Iranians to demonstrate in the streets.

On American TV, the protesters who are interviewed speak perfect English. They are either westernized secular Iranians who were allied with the Shah and fled to the West during the 1978 Iranian revolution or they are the young westernized residents of Tehran.

The 1953 street demonstrations, together with the cold war claim that the US had to grab Iran before the Soviets did, served as the US government’s justification for overthrowing Iranian democracy. What the Iranian people wanted was not important.

Today the street demonstrations in Tehran show signs of orchestration. The protesters, primarily young people, especially young women opposed to the dress codes, carry signs written in English: “Where is My Vote?” The signs are intended for the western media, not for the Iranian government.

More evidence of orchestration is provided by the protesters’ chant, “death to the dictator, death to Ahmadinejad.” Every Iranian knows that the president of Iran is a public figure with limited powers. His main role is to take the heat from the governing grand Ayatollah. No Iranian, and no informed westerner, could possibly believe that Ahmadinejad is a dictator. Even Ahmadinejad’s superior, Khamenei, is not a dictator as he is appointed by a government body that can remove him.

The demonstrations, like those in 1953, are intended to discredit the Iranian government and to establish for Western opinion that the government is a repressive regime that does not have the support of the Iranian people. This manipulation of opinion sets up Iran as another Iraq ruled by a dictator who must be overthrown by sanctions or an invasion.

The Infowars article continues:

Many of the demonstrators may be sincere in their protest, hoping to free themselves from Islamic moral codes. But if reports of the US government’s plans to destabilize Iran are correct, paid troublemakers are in their ranks.

And Tommy and Charlie and a lot of Republicans are flogging the story for all they and it are worth; a lot of people are buying it. Bomb bomb bomb; bomb bomb Iran.

Imagine, if you will, the public reaction if Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez had offered words of support for the protesters at the Republican National Convention last year, or they had condemned the decision in Bush v. Gore and encouraged people to hit the streets. There are a lot of people in Iran who remember 1953 and life under the Shah and who are not likely to view interference — or even the perceived interference — of the US in their domestic politics charitably. Who could blame them?

And it’s not as though the neocon dream has exactly worked like, well, a dream so far. It really isn’t very smart to try to destabilize one of the larger, wealthier, and more military powerful states in the region.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t try.

A thump of the tail to techno.

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