Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

More on strategy, now from Hitchens

Excerpt:

  1. There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran’s foreign affairs. The deep belief that everything—especially anything in English—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.
  2. It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison.
  3. The tendency of outside media to check the temperature of the clerics, rather than consult the writers and poets of the country, shows our own cultural backwardness in regrettably sharp relief. Anyone who had been reading Pezeshkzad and Nafisi, or talking to their students and readers in Tabriz and Esfahan and Mashad, would have been able to avoid the awful embarrassment by which everything that has occurred on the streets of Iran during recent days has come as one surprise after another to most of our uncultured “experts.”

I fully agree with the first point, and think that is deeply relevant to how the US and Europe construct their ongoing responses. In a sense there’s a latitude given by that inevitability. That said, some symbols are more amenable to convincing perversion by the regime than others.

The longer this goes on the more I’m convinced of point 2. There isn’t even tell-tale shame at the preposterousness of the claims the regime is making. Iran is the most stable country in the world? Come now.

The third point I think is a bit silly. It’s obvious the radical clerics don’t carry the zeitgeist of the populace, but they carry the reins of power. The writers and poets do not.

I don’t want to say that they shouldn’t be talked to. I agree that, for the purposes of gauging public opinion, they could be an excellent source.

I’m cautious though of over analogizing the current events to Czecheslovakia 1989 and unjustifiably overpriveleging the artists. Is there grounds to expect the artists to be particularly relevant?

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