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America's Misguided Left

25 Jul 2009 00:2252 Comments

The support of some on the American left for Ahmadinejad is badly misguided.

By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 24 July 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] comment Iran's rigged presidential election of June 12, 2009, has given rise to a very odd phenomenon. Some supposedly leftists and progressives in America have adopted the view that the Iranian election was not rigged. They believe that the Iranian reformists have not been honest about the election (they say the reformists knew they would lose). They allege that the demonstrations in Iran against the rigged election are mostly the work of Western intelligence agencies stirring up trouble. In taking such a position, these so-called leftists and progressives have firmly sided with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

As someone on the left side of the political spectrum, who believes in a progressive and enlightened interpretation of Islamic and Shia teachings, the author feels deeply embarrassed by such proclamations from so-called leftists, some of whom do not know the first thing about Iran and Iranians, yet speak about developments there with such absolute certainty. There are those who believe that with Ahmadinejad, Iranians have gotten exactly what they deserve. And there are others still who subscribe to odd and far-fetched conspiracy theories. They see a plot hatched by Western intelligence agencies (and now even the reformists), behind everything that happens. While such intrigues do exist in some cases, the present situation in Iran does not appear to be one of them. At the very least, there is no concrete evidence for it.

Let me be clear: I am not implying that all the leftists-progressives have been supportive of Ahmadinejad, but only a faction of the left. In fact, people like Naom Chomsky have been incredibly supportive of the Green Movement in Iran.

Let us also get another fact straight: the massive demonstrations that broke out in Tehran and other Iranian cities after the results of the rigged election were announced did not represent a pro-West reform movement, but a genuinely Iranian one. They did not, and still do not, represent a so-called colored revolution, akin to what happened in the Ukraine or Georgia, even though the movement has adopted the color green as its symbol.

In fact, what is happening in Iran is not even a revolution, but a democratic movement. Since long before the 1979 Revolution, green has been one of the three colors in Iran's flag. Also, as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate, has pointed out, green has a deep association with Islam and its teachings. So the color green and shouts of Allah-o Akbar (God is Great) are tactics are reminiscent of the 1979 Revolution -- certainly not a pro-West revolution.

Let us then look at up some of the reasons invoked by some "leftist-progressives" to argue that Ahmadinejad actually won the election without any significant and game-changing fraud:

Ahmadinejad won because he represents the proud tradition of Iranians' deeply-rooted nationalism, standing up for the country's political independence from Western powers.

Ahmadinejad is an Islamic fundamentalist. The fundamentalists do not even believe in nationalism, but only in an Islamic nation, composed of all the present Islamic countries.

Moreover, a true nationalist does not sacrifice his country's national interests for the sake of others. By his senseless barrage of belligerent rhetoric against Israel, and denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad offered the United States and other powers the perfect excuse to convince the world of the (non-existent) dangers posed by Iran's nuclear program. This has enabled these powers to send Iran's nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), through a totally illegal process, and to force the UNSC to impose sanctions against Iran. Anyone with even the slightest familiarity with how the UNSC works knows that once the case of a certain country, which the West perceives as a danger, goes before the UNSC, it will never leave the UNSC unless it satisfies the conditions that the Western powers want to impose on that country. Ahmadinejad has put Iran in such a situation.

Just to be clear: the author fully supports the aspirations of the Palestinian people to have an independent state of their own, consisting of all the occupied territories, including the East Jerusalem. The author has always condemned Israel's atrocities against Palestinians, and will continue to do so. But, one cannot be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves. We should support and respect any decision that the Palestinians make regarding Israel. No one should be willing to sacrifice his or her native land's national interests and national security for the Palestinians' sake.

As for protecting Iran's national security and territorial integrity, nothing achieves that better than a political system there accepted and supported by the majority of Iranians. That acceptance, coupled with fierce Iranian nationalism, would have formed a potent defense against any potential aggressor, including the United States. But, Ahmadinejad has taken that away from Iranians.

Thus, Ahmadinejad is not a nationalist in the mold of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh (whose democratically-elected government was overthrown by the CIA and the British MI6 in 1953), or Mahdi Bazargan (the first prime minister after the Revolution). He is simply a fundamentalist populist who is using power ruthlessly to impose himself on Iran and Iranians. The manner by which he and his supporters are doing this has created unease even among a large segment of the clerics who have refused to recognize the legitimacy of his second term.

Ahmadinejad exposed corruption among Iran's elite.

First of all, although Ahmadinejad has made numerous claims about corruption among the elite, he has never ever presented any concrete evidence to support it, nor has his administration referred even a single case of corruption to the judiciary. This is not to say that there is no corruption. There is, and it is on a vast scale. But Ahmadinejad is only interested in the idea of that corruption to advance his own agenda, not to confront it head on.

And what is Ahmadinejad's agenda anyway? He wants to replace one group of the elite with another, namely the first generation of revolutionaries with the second generation of revolutionaries, which mainly consists of the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and their allies. Since he was elected president in 2005, the IRGC-owned companies have won billions of dollars in contracts, in most cases without any meaningful bidding process whatsoever. No major project can be undertaken in Iran, unless the IRGC gets a cut of it. This is on top of the fact that Iran's underground economy is controlled mostly by the IRGC, which has at least 63 seaports and airports that are not controlled by the government, and are used to import cheap products from China and other Asian countries, making billions in the process for the IRGC, but nearly bankrupting the domestic industries that produce the same products.

As for Ahmadinejad being an anti-corruption crusader, consider the following, which just represents the tip of the iceberg: When he was governor-general of the Ardabil province (in northwestern Iran) in the 1990s, he illegally spent $5 million of the official budget for the presidential campaign of Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, who was running against Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 presidential election.

As governor-general, Ahmadinejad also helped his current Interior Minister, Sadegh Mahsouli (who fought alongside him in the Iran-Iraq war), to illicitly get rich by involving him in the oil swaps with the Republic of Azerbaijan. By his own admission, Mahsouli's net worth is at least $200 million -- not bad for a guy who was totally broke at the end of Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

When Ahmadinejad was Tehran Mayor, nearly $400 million disappeared from Tehran's budget without any explanation whatsoever.

Last year, $1 billion simply disappeared from Iran's official budget. No one has provided an accounting for the money, and the Government Accounting Office cannot account for it.

Before being appointed as Ahmadinejad's second Interior Minister, Ali Kordan (the man who claimed to have a doctoral degree in law from Oxford University; he does not even have a bachelors degree) was the chief deputy to Ali Larijani (the current Speaker of the parliament) for financial affairs, when Larijani was the head of Iran's vast national network of radio and television. When Iran's reformist-dominated 6th Majles (parliament) investigated the financial dealings of the network, it discovered embezzlements totaling $700 million. (Nothing ever happened to either Larijani or Kordan.)

Ahmadinejad has also increased by a factor of 100 the financial aid to the institutions that are controlled by his spiritual leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, an ultra-conservative and reactionary cleric.

Ahmadinejad has used Iran's oil wealth to boost the income of the poor majority, and improve their quality of life.

This is a total myth. Ahmadinejad's economic policy -- if one can call it that -- has dramatically increased inflation, unemployment, the cost of food, housing and fuel. It has intensified the brain-drain that has been under way. He abolished the Organization for Budget and Planning, a decades-old institution that had planned Iran's development, both before and after the Revolution. This has helped shroud in secrecy the way the government spends its annual budget. There is no transparency in anything that the Ahmadinejad's administration does, whereas his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, had greatly increased the transparency of Iran's government.

Two years ago, 57 of Iran's leading economists warned Ahmadinejad in an open letter that his policies would drive Iran's economy into the ground. He not only failed to heed their warning, but mocked it what became an accurate forecast.

Mousavi's support is mostly from the middle class.

It is true that Mousavi's support in large urban areas is very strong, but it would be a grave mistake to think his support comes merely from the middle class. The Green Movement is deep, and has roots in all sectors of the population: poor and rich, young and old, men and women, urban and rural.

This is not to say that Ahmadinejad does not have support among the population. He does, but it is limited to at most 20%, based on the available evidence and the percentage of votes that conservatives have consistently received in past elections. For example, in nationwide elections for the city councils in 2006, Ahmadinejad's own political group received only 4% of the votes, and the conservative camp about 25%. It simply defies logic that he could receive 64% of the vote in the presidential election, when, aside from anything else, Iran's economy is in much worse shape than it was in 2006.

The deep roots of the Green Movement became clear in the spontaneous massive demonstrations that broke out after the rigged election: people were emphatically unified, and acted with a unity of purpose. Hundreds of thousands of people protested in complete silence in Tehran and other cities. Since then, the same protesters have come up with all sorts of innovative ways to show their disapproval of the rigged election.

The above "arguments" by the leftist supporters of Ahmadinejad are supposedly based on his performance as the president. Let us now take a look at the arguments of those (conspiracy theory fanatics) who see the hands of the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies, and Israel's Mossad in the election and its aftermath.

The demonstrations in Iran are a repetition of the 1953 coup that overthrew Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, a coup that was financed and carried out by the West.

This is sheer absurdity for several reasons:

One, the typical turnout in Iran's presidential election is around 60%. In the June 12 election, however, the turnout was 85%. The extra voters clearly represent a protest vote.

Two, the Iran of 2009 is vastly different from the Iran of 1953. The rate of literacy in Iran is close to 90%. Iran has 100,000 bloggers and 23 million internet users. More than 60% of its university students are female. Iran today has a strong feminist, labor and university student movement, which forms that backbone of Iran's democratic movement. It is insulting to Iranians to claim that such an enlightened population can be easily manipulated by foreign agents.

Third, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies do not have a significant presence in Iran. There is no U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and almost all of its Iranian agents have been arrested and either killed or imprisoned. The CIA itself has acknowledged as much repeatedly. Having learned the lessons of 1953, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence, one of the most efficient in the world, has a tight grip on all the foreign embassies in Tehran.

Fourth, the very fact that brutal force was used to suppress the huge demonstrations hints not only at the depth of the roots of this movement, but also its authenticity as a genuinely Iranian phenomenon without any meaningful support from the outside. This is a nation that, due to what has been done to it by foreign powers over the past 200 years, is deeply suspicious of foreigners. Yet, despite the great efforts of Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khamenei, the national radio and television network, right wing news agencies and newspapers, and some of the top commanders of the IRGC, the label of "these are foreign-sponsored riots" has not stuck. What better evidence than the fact that, even now, the hardliners are still trying to mollify the Green Movement and its leaders, Mousavi, Khatami, and Mahdi Karroubi, who have the support of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president and powerful politician.

Fifth, in the case of Ukraine and Georgia, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of the United States had a significant presence in those nations, funding anti-government activities there. But, in Iran's case, the NED does not have any partner to work with there. A couple of Iranian intellectuals, such as Ramin Jahanbeglou, who had visited the NED in the United States, were quickly arrested upon returning to Iran.

The Fatwa issued by Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi several days before the election, authorizing the use of fraud in order to "re-elect" Ahmadinejad, was fake and a propaganda ploy by the Mousavi camp, in order to prepare the people for incitement after the election.

The story was that several days before the election a group of anonymous people who work at Iran's Interior Ministry, which supervises the election, and had been present in the meeting between the staff of the Interior Ministry and the Ayatollah in which the Fatwa had been issued, wrote an open letter about the Fatwa, and sent it anonymously to many people.

But, not knowing anything about Iran, the so-called leftists and progressives made the most outlandish claim about the Fatwa and its effect. Even more outlandish was the claim that the websites that reported on the Fatwa played a big role in fomenting unrest in Iran after the election.

The author was the first to report about the Fatwa. He had received the open letter by e-mail from a highly reliable source in Iran. Initially, the author's name was not attached to the article about the Fatwa. That became the "reason" for the leftists to believe that the Fatwa was fake; but the reason the piece lacked an attribution was because the author was terrified by the possibility that his extended family in Iran may be hurt. After other Iranian websites (all using Persian not English) also reported about the Fatwa, after even Iranian newspapers in Iran reported on it, and after no one in the conservative camp denied the Fatwa, did the author feel safe for his byline to appear on the article.

To understand better the terrifying environment that has been created by the hard-liners, consider the following. The Guardian reported on June 17 that "there were also unconfirmed reports that Mohammad Asgari, who was responsible for the security of the IT network in Iran's Interior Ministry, was killed yesterday in a suspicious car accident in Tehran. Asgari had reportedly leaked evidence that the elections were rigged to alter the votes from the provinces. Asgari was said to have leaked information that showed Mousavi had won almost 19m votes, and should therefore be president."

Later, another website that quoted the author's report on the Fatwa, appeared to actually confirm the report on the death of Asgari. Many Iranian websites also reported the same, indicating that the letter was widely circulated in Iran.

So, if the authors of the open letter had published or posted it somewhere, they would have been killed, or jailed at the minimum. The extreme right murdered 80 intellectuals, dissidents, and political activists from 1988-1998; some of the bodies were never found. The infamous Chain Murders of late 1998 was just the tip of the iceberg. But, the so-called leftist experts had expected the open letter to have been published somewhere in order for it to have authenticity, and because it had not been, they questioned its authenticity!

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi who had issued the Fatwa has done the same thing many times in the past. In addition, he has said publicly that,

  1. Those who are opposed to the Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the jurist; the backbone of Iran's political system) should get a passport and leave the country.
  2. People are sheep; their opinion does not matter.
  3. If people do not give their consent to the Islamic government that he advocates, it is permissible to obtain their consent by force.
  4. Islam does allow use of violence to govern an Islamic nation.
  5. Iran's Supreme Leader is selected by God; the task of the ayatollah is to discover whom God has selected.
  6. The powers of the Supreme Leader are unlimited. He can act above and beyond what Iran's Constitution allows him to do.

So, aside from everything else described above, why is it far fetched for some to believe in the existence of the Fatwa?

One absurd argument that the so-called leftists have made to advance their misguided story was that, Kenneth Timmerman, a well-known Iran basher, had invoked the Fatwa heavily. In other words, just because Timmerman had used the Fatwa in his propaganda, the Fatwa could not have been true! Another absurd argument was that some of the Iranian websites that reported on the Fatwa contain advertisements for the U.S.-funded Radio Farda and Voice of America! This is beyond fiction. It is hallucination.

Then, there is the usual patronizing crowd, who want to decide what is good for Iran and Iranians:

Ahmadinejad is the president that Iran deserves. He is good enough for the backward Iranians.

This is the same mentality of those who accept the propaganda by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their cabal, who said that the United States invaded Iraq in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein for the Iraqi people's sake, and to establish a Western democracy there for them. According to this mentality, the Iraqi people do not really know what is good for them, but the United States does.

Finally, there is a crowd of so-called leftists that supports Ahmadinejad because,

Ahmadinejad has resisted the pressure by the U.S. Empire for dismantling Iran's uranium enrichment program.

As an antiwar activist, the author has been writing about Iran's nuclear program for years, and has been defending it in terms of Iran's national rights in the framework of the relevant international agreements. The author has been doing so (and will do so) not because of what Ahmadinejad says or does regarding Iran's nuclear program. After all, it was Mousavi who, as Iran's prime minister, started the nuclear program in 1987, and it was the Khatami administration that laid down the foundations for Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad merely continued and expanded the program.

The author has been defending Iran's nuclear program because, (a) it represents a national consensus among Iranians; (b) calls the U.S. bluff, and (c) reveals the U.S. double standards when it comes to Iran, on the one hand, and Israel, Pakistan, and India, on the other hand. In the U.S. view, the latter three countries can be armed with nuclear weapons, but Iran must not have even a peaceful nuclear program.

Does defending Iran's nuclear program mean that one should support an illegitimate second term of Ahmadinejad, or be silent about the rigged election and its aftermath? Absolutely not. If one does these things, he or she will be committing treason against one's motherland, and the great Iranian nation. There is no contradiction between defending Iran's nuclear program and rejecting the hardliners, Ahmadinejad and their ilk.

Thus, if the supposedly anti-imperialists, progressives, or leftists who want to oppose the U.S. Empire, they should and can find better leaders than a liar, superstitious, incompetent, arrogant demagogue like Ahmadinejad, who stole the election and is imposing himself on Iran and Iranians.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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Was this an attempt at a political-fiction short story? If so, it wasn't a very good one.

This crowd of leftist Americans that you say supports Ahmadenijad, produce them. Point out any American that supports A'Jad or that thinks he won the election. Give us their names. Where are they located? Where are their websites? What have they published and where is it?

There are no groups of Americans or any groups of westerners anywhere in the western world who supports Ahmadinejad. This entire article is either a work of very bad fiction or was written by the Iranian government as propaganda.

Rooker / July 24, 2009 8:38 PM

Can you name some of these people and organizations? I am curious to see who are proponents of these veiwpoints. Thanks

Behzad / July 24, 2009 9:00 PM

Sadly, the US left is made up of people who simply hate the US so much they will bend, stretch and create myths and conspiracy theories (no matter whom they hurt) in order to spew hatred toward our "evil" "imperialist" country: the United States of America - as they are now blaming our involvement in Iran. They don't care whom they hurt. They don't care about facts.

Because they like to put people in their little boxes (conforming with their close-minded beliefs) they will fill the below comment boxes with how I am a "right winger," and/or a whole lot worse. The truth is I claim no side - right, left or otherwise - I only care about the truth.

And this is the truth.

Michele / July 24, 2009 9:02 PM

Thank you for clarifying the true substance of the issues at stake in the Iranian Green Movement for reform.

Appalled at the moral inversion of Reagan-Thatcher economics I searched long and hard for a working alternative but without success, The American, Canadian and English "Left" had failed to counter the Evangelical Capitalism of the Neo-Con era in their own countries. Having missed their own historical moment of truth they tend to project the theoretical surplus of their dialectics abroad. Sadly, they now turn their lack of insight towards Iran where the future of a free people is struggling to be born.

Mike Ricks / July 24, 2009 9:18 PM

Hamid Dabashi who I have been following throughout the recent events in Iran also has a good article regarding the lefts view of the election aftermath.

Link below


SF_Iranian / July 24, 2009 9:22 PM

I have been involved in Leftist/Progressive/Liberal causes in the US for many years and strenuously object to your characterization of Progressives as being against the Green Revolution. Just who exactly are you talking about??? I would like to hear some prominent Progressive names please. May I remind you that in the blogosphere, two prominent lefty bloggers, Nico Pitney and Andrew Sullivan (socially liberal) provided live-blogging for days on end and continue to provide in-depth coverage of events in Iran. Many leftists took up the cause of the Haystack project and donated considerable sums of money. If you are thinking of so-called lefty politicians, then realize that politicians are politicians everywhere....but I can assure you that the Liberal "grassroots" people of the US admire, support and stand behind the protesters who are fighting for democracy.

May I suggest you go back and check the "right-wing" online and off-line publications during the demonstrations? Most conservatives did NOT support the demonstrators because they want to insure that AN is kept front-and-center as a bogeyman for the West to hate. It is the conservative movement, the neocons in particular, that are calling weekly for war against Iran, not Progressives. You would NEVER hear a Progressive singing, "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," and then repeating that endlessly on websites and in publications. Do you feel like part of the axis of evil? Do you think belligerent attitudes of aggression against Iran are helpful for future relations between the US and Iran?

It is the Conservatives in the US who are itching to go to war with Iran, not the Progressives. I really thought you and your website were something very special, but I am very disappointed in your naive, generalizations.I will pass on your screed to all the Progressives I know who have been supporting the freedom-movement in Iran, in every way possible.

Sanna / July 24, 2009 9:40 PM

dont trust any mainstreet media when you complain about an injustice what do the american mainstreet media do tells all the other news media to block your complain thats america

michelle / July 24, 2009 9:47 PM

I am stunned that anyone thinks that election was legitimate.

Heidi / July 24, 2009 9:55 PM

I have a problem with these statements being atributet to unnamed sources. I have heard some of these from both left and right, especily the one about "backwards country" coming from the right. I am fully suporting of the Sea of Green, but your argument loses credibility by building a strawman of "progresive leftists" which cannot be identified, so that we can exemine their position. Bad piece of journalisam and diservice to the cause.

Pera Mikic / July 24, 2009 9:56 PM

This battle has been fought in one form or another over and over since the Constitutionalists. Was the CIA behind the Constitutionalists too, many years before the CIA even existed? These "leftists" are idiots. The reformists have been there all along and nobody with a brain really believes the west is behind the reformist movement. The agents responsible for helping the reform movement grow are Iranian agents of the security agencies who make the daily lives of Iranians miserable amd have held a great, vital culture hostage for decades.

svhayter / July 24, 2009 10:14 PM

please read hamid dabashi's article on the issue


green till freedom / July 24, 2009 10:26 PM

Mr. Sahimi you know oh so little about Iran and are very disingenous about your presentation here.

1. You said: "As governor-general, Ahmadinejad also helped his current Interior Minister, Sadegh Mahsouli (who fought alongside him in the Iran-Iraq war), to illicitly get rich by involving him in the oil swaps with the Republic of Azerbaijan. By his own admission, Mahsouli's net worth is at least $200 million -- not bad for a guy who was totally broke at the end of Iran-Iraq war in 1988."

- Mahsouli made his money before Ahmadinejad even became president

2. "This is not to say that Ahmadinejad does not have support among the population. He does, but it is limited to at most 20%, based on the available evidence and the percentage of votes that conservatives have consistently received in past elections"

- First of all, according to Khatami himself Ahmadinejad was a shoe-in. According to even Mousavi's own polls it was neck to neck, yet some how Ahmadinejad has 20% support? And why are you comparing past elections and the word "conservative" to a presidential election of a populist. You clearly do not understand Iranian society. Iranians do not vote reformist or conservative and they vote differently (or abstain) based on the importance of the election to them.

3. "Ahmadinejad is an Islamic fundamentalist. The fundamentalists do not even believe in nationalism, but only in an Islamic nation, composed of all the present Islamic countries."

- First of all the word fundamentalist has a pejorative definition in english, so why do you use that? is it because you want to de-legitimize him to your audience? why not use the correct term: principalist (usul-garayan). Second, have you ever watched one video of his cabinet meetings? No mention of Islam, but rather building "irane aziz" as he states all the time. If you didnt know him and his "islamism," you'd think he as a modern nation-state builder (which he is).

4. "Last year, $1 billion simply disappeared from Iran's official budget. No one has provided an accounting for the money, and the Government Accounting Office cannot account for it."

- It's in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon (haha, there you happy?)

5. Before being appointed as Ahmadinejad's second Interior Minister, Ali Kordan (the man who claimed to have a doctoral degree in law from Oxford University; he does not even have a bachelors degree

- You are right, Ahmadinejad had 1 kordan though, Khatami had 25!!! I can list all 25 if you like. and what about Khatami's fake degree? ( http://www5.irna.ir/View/FullStory/?NewsId=302162#) And why was Mousavi teaching at Tarbiat Modaress with the label Dr. Mousavi when he doesnt have a phd? (is it only conveient to single out mr. "fundamentalist"?)

6. You say the election was RIGGED as if its an absolute fact. Now the more important question is not if it was "rigged" or if there was "fraud," but was there enough that would have made Mousavi win? And that is something Mousavi's own camp has failed. Mousavi had over 44,000 independent monitors at the booths which monitored the tallying which was done locally, and most of his representatives have stated that their results were pretty much consistent with the final tallying by the interior ministry, yet somehow there was fraud? haha. Not one shred of SOLID evidence has been presented, as a lawyer I can tell you circumstantial evidence is not enough and hearsay is inadmissible in court!

7. "The extra voters clearly represent a protest vote."

- purely speculation...in fact why did ahmadinejad only get few million votes in 1st round in 2005, then 17 million in 2nd round? was that fraud too, to add 14 million votes? haha! in fact, as ahmadinejad became president more and more people became acquainted with him and his populism and turned out in huge numbers to ensure he was re-elected. How can you argue that Mousavi which declared himself candidate at the end of esfand (just 2 months before elections) was more popular or had a chance against a populist which had visited every single province in iran at least twice! if anything, its amazing that mousavi even recieved 14 million votes!!!!!! a guy who had zero organic connection to khatamis movement as well!

8. "Asgari was said to have leaked information that showed Mousavi had won almost 19m votes, and should therefore be president."

- So its fraud when Ahmadinejad wins 2 to 1, but its not fraud if Mousavi won 3 to 1 (19 million votes compared to 6 million in that fake stat sheet released supposedly by asgari!). I mean lsiten to yourself! Mousavis own people said neck to neck, their goal was to get it to a 2nd round, yet you believe mousavi got 19 million votes according to that fake leaked stat claiming to be real? you are so funny.

9. Why didnt they defraud Khatami twice against the establishments candidates? (go read nytimes from 97 and 01, total fears of rigging and fraud, yet it didnt happen!!!)

That being said Im neither pro mousavi or ahmadinejad. But im also not pro-bullcrap like your article!

Ali / July 24, 2009 10:32 PM

The author keeps rambling on and on about the "leftists and prgressivies" in America but doesn't even mention one by name? Not even a group. No quotes. No articles. Nothing. Just the author saying it.

The author clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. Apparently he knows so much about the American left but fails to mention that "Huffington Post" is very left and they are one of the main sources for information coming out of Iran. I could go on and on with examples of left-leaning groups and people who are fully behind the movement. I can list group after group, website after website that show just how much the left is behind the Movement but pointing out one mistake on the part of the author of this ridiculous article proves my point just fine.

Just so people know, it's the right in America that want to "Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran." They are the ones who will destroy Iran the second Israel tells them to. They are the ones who want what Israel wants and Israel wants Ahmadinejad. The right are the ones trying force their religionon the entire country and force everyone to live by biblical law. They are Iran's version of Ahamdinejad and Khatami. The right in Iran and the right in America are mirror images of the other. The only difference is the god they kill for. The left in America sees themselves in the people of the Movement in Iran.

(Kelly, just because it's by an Iranian author or it's about Iran doesn't mean it's fit to print. This article on its own is not worth reposting. The nonsense he spouts makes it even less so.)

Dave In America / July 24, 2009 10:51 PM

Sorry, but who are these leftists who claim the election was legit? I haven't seen any since the first week or two after the election, when the evidence was still vague and the extent of the popular movement was not yet apparent. You haven't named a single name, provided a single quote or link, and unless you do I see no reason to believe that you aren't inventing a strawman.

By contrast, here's some audio of Noam Chomsky clearly stating he believes the election was entirely fraudulent.


Grokk / July 24, 2009 11:04 PM

I would not be too worried about people who entertain serious doubts about whether the recent election in Iran was rigged. There are people who believe many things. Some people think the 1969 moon landing was staged. Also, some people believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

My sense is that there's little point in investing energy trying to persuade people, whether on the left or the right, that there has been a coup d'etat. They are unlikely to give you a fair hearing. And the large majority of people who are following recent events will not need persuading.

This is just my thought. But I'm sure your points are very good ones.

Eric / July 24, 2009 11:31 PM

Mr. Sahimi, this is another excellent and informative article from you. I have learned and continue to learn so much about Iran's goverment and politics after the revolution and after Khomeini's death by reading all your articles on tehran bureau. I try not to miss any of them and recommend these to whoever is interested. But I have a question for you: how are Iranian people who are protesting this goverment going to fight back and win their country back when IRGC and their allies are so powerful economically,militarily, etc.? It seems that they have a hand in everything and corruption is a norm in addition to their extreme brutalities and oppression. I am very worried because I feel that they are much more powerful, much more corrupt and much more brutal than the regime before them. HOW ARE WE GOING TO CLAIM OUR COUNTRY BACK AND HAVE A SECULAR DEMOCRACY? Thank you.

Minoo / July 24, 2009 11:39 PM

so... exactly who on the left support Ahmadinejad, and deny that the election was rigged? everyone leftist I know, knows the election was rigged. I haven't read anything from the left indicating otherwise.

questioning / July 24, 2009 11:54 PM

Sadly, too many on the left are too busy apologizing for America to stand up for the values of freedom that the Iranians on the street are so clearly clamoring for.

These values are foreign concepts to the American left.

Also, Obama made it clear he wanted a deal with the Iranians no matter what and too many of his lefty buddies don't want to see him fail. Even if that means the deaths of hundreds more Iranians.

Mike's America / July 25, 2009 12:09 AM

dear Mr. Sahimi,

You should not be surprised by the Left's support for Ahmadinijad , and it's distain for the democratic movement in Iran.

Jeane Kirkpatric described how the Left's urge to " Blame America First " trumps their critical thinking.For many elements on the Left,whoever is the MOST Anti-American is the Good Guy.If they have warm,and fuzzy feelings for Castro's Prison State, and an El Che T-Shirt ,then you should know they'll love Mr.A.; Death to America in person.

bushtheliberator / July 25, 2009 12:12 AM

You GOTTA be kidding me. I have been all over this story and have not heard of ANYONE--left, center, right, or just plain crazy here in the US supporting Ahmadinejad. The ONLY support I have heard is from Persians living here in the US who, very oddly and ironically, support him--and their rhetoric is entirely right-wing--NOT left.

Mr. SAHIMI, the article heading: "The support of the American left for Ahmadinejad is badly misguided" would be disturbing if you had bothered to back it up with more than your assertions that it is so. You sprinkled statements throughout the article leaving the reader to assume they are statements from the American left--but as they are unattributed, who knows? I choose--based on nothing more than the only place I have heard such statements is on Facebook, all of which appear to be made by expatriate Persians living here (ironically)in the US--to believe that that is the type of source you are getting those statements from and merely ASSUMING that they are from the American Left"--a totally incorrect assumption.

Frankly, I am appalled that you were able to get the Tehran Bureau to publish this with no substantiation or attribution regarding the very statements on which hyou base the article.

2askjoe / July 25, 2009 2:27 AM

What is this silly article you have written?

As a progressive abroad and an Iranian, I can assure you that very few of the "Excuses" you have listed are used by leftists abroad in order to discuss the election.

I do not like Ahmedinejad- but I also can see that he won the election, and that most of our countrymen, my own family included, were not ready for Mousavi. There is little to no conclusive evidence as to whether fraud ocurred on such a scale so as to manufacture an Ahmedi victory.

To speak of his support hovering around 20% is absolutely ABSURD and shows how completely out of touch you are with most Iranian people, undermining this entire article. As a former Mousavi supporter, it's really becoming infuriating to have to deal with Greenies who are just completely lying to themselves and to the world about the Iranian people and what they want.

Silly, silly article. Do some research next time on what these leftists actually think, okay?

Reza Kh / July 25, 2009 6:04 AM

American Socialists show support for Iranian protesters


exerpt from Socialist Webzine

"The brutal repression of the popular upsurge against Iran's ruling clique of Islamic clerics only postpones the inevitable. Iran's theocracy has lost the confidence of its people, as militant protests continue on the streets of Tehran.

"The Socialist Party USA stands with the people of Iran in demanding an immediate end to arbitrary rule and the holding of genuinely free and open elections. We believe that the complete separation of religious institutions and the state is an essential prerequisite for a democratic society. Every resident of a nation should have the same rights and privileges, no matter what her or his religious belief may or may not be..."

Jigsawnovich / July 25, 2009 7:22 AM

You could do your own background work. In this revolution you are the media. I first noticed this stunning avoidance of the concrete realities (being displayed on the Iranian social networks) in the UK media about four weeks ago. You can check Press TV and the readers comments in many Guardian articles on IRAN and you will find many clear examples of what the author refers to. It's all archived and available for inspection.

Mike Ricks / July 25, 2009 7:37 AM

The political spectrum in the US is to the right of the other industrialsed countries in the world and most likely most of the rest of the world. Mr. Sahimi is probably using the word leftist in a way more akin to what it means outside of the US. By these standards the Huffington Post and certainly Andrew Sullivan certainly aren't leftists. For an example of "leftist" apologists for Ahmadi see for example here:

"An Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement: How Should We React to the Events in Iran?"

by Phil Wilayto


"Iran and Leftist Confusion" by Reese Ehrlich


Note that monthly review zine and monthly review are distinct. I don't think the latter would publish apologia for the iranian regime.

Rustam / July 25, 2009 7:56 AM

Mr. Sahimi,

you claim you are on the "left" and then state that you believe "in a progressive and enlightened interpretation of Islamic and Shia teachings". The left in any country, including Iran, is SECULAR. Please clarify this contradiction, which stands at the root of several other very misguided points you raise throughout the article on what the left is.

Well Wisher / July 25, 2009 8:51 AM

Your description of the left is on target for the Brazilian left. Their support for Ahmadinejad's military coup is astonishing. I will not add anything on the American left, it is too small and hard to find.

Felipe Pait / July 25, 2009 9:37 AM

To those here who say they have been "all over this story" and don't know what Sahimi is talking about, they should "get out a bit more." (Nicco is not all the world, nor is NIAC) It's not just the far left, it's the far right too. (Paul Craig Roberts, and Timmerman)

To be sure, we shouldn't paint the brush too broadly. Sahimi & Hamid Dabashi, for example, are not exactly "conservative."

escot / July 25, 2009 9:58 AM

I have read your previous articles, they were thoughtful and informative.

Now, this one???

Which leftists are you talking about? I can not find anything on any leftist/progressive blogs or magazines? Can you site someone?

Chomsky is as left as you can get. He is demonstrating today with the Iranians for the Green movement.

I am an Iranian/American and a progressive. I read all I can get my hand on about Iran and have never read anything that supports your thesis about the left in United States. PLEASE tell us who these leftists are?

jaleh / July 25, 2009 10:46 AM

Dear all:

Thank you for commenting on the article. I only respond to those who criticized the article. I have no problem with the criticisms, as they helps me to think about such issues from different angles.

First of all, I did not imply in any shape or form that ALL leftists in the US supported Ahmadinejad. Case in point is, for example, Naom Chomsky who has supported the Green Movement. I do agree that I should have qualified it by saying "some in the American left." So, I sincerely regret not qualifying this, because apparently I offended those of you who criticized the article and consider themselves leftist/progressive.

Secondly, I am not the first to write about this subject. Reese Erlich had an excellent article about exactly the same subject in Commondreams.org way before me, and explained how many progressives are ambivalent about supporting the Green Movement in Iran.

Third, one motivation for writing the article was responding to a piece written in support of Ahmadinejad, claiming how the CIA had a hand in the huge demonstrations after the elections, etc., and making all sorts of absurd allegations. I intentionally did not mention the article explicitly (though I have responded to it in the above), because it seemed to me what the author was interested in was mostly attracting attention to his website.

A few specific comments:

Dear Reza Kh: Thanks. I gave a specific example and statistics about Ahmadinejad's support in the past elections (not to mention the elections for the 8th Majles). I would like to see a SPECIFIC counter-example by you. Even in 2005, when Ahmadinejad was an unknown, he received 36% of the eligible voters' vote (in the second round) and was running against Rafsanjani who was, and still is, considered by many as the symbol of corruption. In the first round, he received even far fewer votes, and that was with at least some fraud.

Dear 2askjoe: Thanks. The editor-in-chief of TB was fully supportive of the article, because she was well-aware of the article that I mentioned above.

Dear Eric: Thank you and I agree with you. But, the article was partly motivated by the article that I mention above, making all sorts of allegations.

Dave in America: Thanks. I blog at Huffington Post and, therefore, I am aware of what Huff Post does. I would not characterize Huff Post as "very left" the way you do. They are what some people call "limousin liberals." In addition, Huff Post simply opened a blog to post all the news and rumors.

Dear Ali: Thanks. You e-mailed me your thinking, and I appreciate it. Just one point: You enthusiastically try to debunk all of my arguments about Ahmadinejad, and you still claim that you are not his supporter?

At the end, I must concede one point, and only one: I should have said "some" in the American left, not all.

Dear Sanna: Thank you. Andrew Sullivan is not a leftist. He is a right wing who supported the invasion of Iraq, and at that time made all sorts of terrible comments about Muslims. He then changed his mind about the war. People like me appreciate his apparent support for Iran's democratic movement, but calling him a leftist is totally wrong. Yes, he is relatively liberal when it comes to social issues, but that is probably due to his sexual orientation.

Thank you all.

Muhammad Sahimi / July 25, 2009 11:00 AM

Certain western leftists have no ideology other than being again western governments. It is a mistake to assume that they believe in anything else. Therefore the conspiracy theory of the CIA or Britain fomenting unrest gets automatic credence regardless of evidence, probability, motivation, or possible outcomes. You waste your time worrying about such people. And yes, Huffy is very left.

Marianne7 / July 25, 2009 11:14 AM

I think the Author has made an important mistake in the title of his article. Rather than the American Left, he should have titled the article the European and Middle Eastern Left. That would have made his article valid with some minor misrepresentations.

As an Iranian-American who moved to London 8 years ago to obtain a PhD at the London School of Economics, I was shocked to see the level of anti-americanism simmering the in leftist/progressives of Europe. This was very disheartening to me as I made the move to study in Europe and the bastion of progressivism that is the LSE for exactly that reason, i.e., to be part of the European left/progressive ("L/P")movement.

During my stay and studies I realized that these L/P would support anyone and any idea that was anti-american or should I say anti-Bush (also, sad to see that some very well-known academics did not differentiate between the two).

when I would argue with my colleagues whom I agreed with on most major issues of policy and politics, about Iran's A'jad and their misguided and totalitarian underpinnings, these colleagues of mine would pigeon-hole me as a minority Iranian of a certain class which is not representative of the Iranian nation. They would argue that A'jad was elected and that is representative of Iran.

After these past elections a large segment of these L/P in Europe have changed their tone and that is a good omen. However, there is still a strain that simply would support anyone that stands up to the US. Their hatred of the US is so visceral as to justify their support for the A'jad clan headed by Mesbah Yazdi. Samimi's article is really talking about this group which is becoming smaller by the day. This group of Euro L/P will rarely raise support for their idea today as they see the whole world in opposition to their view.

In the Mid East the problem stems again from both their anti-american and anti-Isreal beliefs which only serves to discredit their progressive credentials by arguing that A'jad won the election and that there is a CIA/MI6 hand in the protests. How can the regime's brutality be justified under the progressive costume which they wear? However, I must admit that the Mid East L/P stand at least can have mitigation attached to it, as visceral hatred for Isreal can to a certain extent justifiably blind a person of Mid-East origin.

Furthermore, I would argue that the small amount of Euro and Mid-East L/P are not of such stature as to warrant a "name-and-shame" tactic. They are academics and people working in NGO's. Furthermore, since the NGOs that they work for have not made a public stance of support for the health of the elections, naming these people would exactly amount to Name-and-shame.

Therefore, I would suggest that Samimi revise the title of the article. Moreover, I would argue that since these people do not have great authority and do not hold a position of importance, to simply let them wallow in their own cauldron of hate. As for the extreme right of the US who may for more cynical and elistist reasons support the elections, the same applies. Their time has past as even guys like Huckabee, Graham, Wolfowitz have come to support the protesters. They are as insignificant in global politics as the L/P's in Europe and Mid-East.

On a lighter note, it is good to see that A'jad and Mesbah are at least using tools that can write up a descent argument (no matter how misguided and cynical)on a website such as Tehran Bureau. Yes, I am talking about the commentator calling him/herself Ali a few notes above.

Behzad / July 25, 2009 11:22 AM

Ahmadinejad is a man of the people, Mousavi is an american agent and traitor to the people.

Radical Guy / July 25, 2009 11:34 AM

Ahmadinejad is a man of the people, Mousavi is an american agent and traitor to the people. That is the difference.

Radical Guy / July 25, 2009 11:37 AM

Dear Well Wisher:

Thank you. To me religion is a private matter. Therefore, what I said about my belief in Islam and Shiite was strictly in this context.

Dear Jaleh:

Thank you. In my response to some comments I qualified what I said. See above. Since the original posting, I have also added a short paragraph qualifying what I said (see the second paragraph in the updated article).

Muhammad Sahimi / July 25, 2009 12:47 PM

Mr. Sahimi, I would still like to see some names and quotes. No offense, but if I turned in a paper like you have written here, I could only imagine how low the grade would be.

You mention Reese Erlich but in the article (I think) you're referring to he says, "The large majority of American people, particularly leftists and progressives, are sympathetic to the demonstrators in Iran, oppose Iranian government repression and also oppose any U.S. military or political interference in that country. But a small and vocal number of progressives are questioning that view..."

If you're going to base your article on his article, at least do so it accurately.

Dave In America / July 25, 2009 12:54 PM

Dear Dave in America:

Thank you again. If you look at my articles in the past (particularly those that I have posted on Antiwar.com), you will see that every one of them is full of references and documented. So, it is not a question of me being in the habit of not referencing anything.

I have amended the article since your first comment, and have qualified it. I did not mean that Reese Erlich (a good friend) implied that ALL leftists are supporting Ahmadinejad (and I have now clarified the statement), rather a fraction of them. But, even people like Robert Fisk cast doubts on the reformists' contention that the election was rigged.

Last week, there was an article about a piece that I had written about a Fatwa that a right-wing ayatollah had issed, authorizing fraud in order to 're-elect' Ahmadinejad. I discuss this in the article above. The author, supposedly a leftist/anti-imperialist, had gone to great length, fictionializing everything, in order to "prove" that the Fatwa was bogus (incidently, it was never denied in Iran), and that I (and this site) was simply helping the propaganda of Iranian reformists.

The author of that article had sent questions to this site regarding the piece late at night (as if going through the motions, so that he could claim later that he had tried to be objective), but had not waited to receive the response, and had gone ahead with his piece the next morning. Even after I responded to him, he refused to amend his article (although, in fairness, he did say that he could post my response, if I want to).

In principle, I totally agree with you that I should have given more specific information. In this particular case, though, I am reluctant because I believe that the article was mainly for attracting attention. Even among progressive Iranians, there are some who claim that Ahmadinejad won, simply because they are against US foreign policy and see CIA's hand behind everything. I suggest that you google search Ardeshir Ommani to see what you find.

Thank you again.

Muhammad Sahimi / July 25, 2009 1:34 PM

Don't get me wrong. I know there are people on the left in America who are so anti-US that they would get into bed with anyone so long as they hate America too. I dealt with the mentality you wrote about in a few places online but quickly ended the debate by saying, "if it brings freedom to my father's homeland, I don't care if the devil himself started the revolution." I also point out that freedom from tyranny is freedom from tryanny whether it be from the right or the left.

But those people are such a very small percentage of the left in America that to even say "some" is an over-inflation.

By the way, thank you for your replies. It shows a great deal of class for you to come here and be willing to reply to people who disagree with you in a calm, decent tone.



Dave In America / July 25, 2009 2:49 PM

Is this supposed to be journalism? In answering your critics, you say that "some" leftists DO support the freedom-demonstrators. Do you presume to speak for the millions of "left-leaning" citizens throughout the US who have been actively supporting the demonstrators, by writing letters to their editors, sending money to different organizations -- including TB, calling their Congressmen, reading everything they can to educate themselves about Iran? Are you presumptuous enough to speak for the common liberal in this country? You refuse to change your title, although the title suggests that the "liberal left" as a whole, does not support the Iranian freedom movement. A better title would have been "America's Misguided Right." When asked for specifics, you refer to another article, rather than give specifics of who, among the Progressives, have worked against the Iran freedom-movement. Referring to other articles for your evidence is not journalism, it is laziness and/or purposeful misrepresentation. Why do you ignore, and refuse to address the following:

1. It was the American Right, in particular George Bush, who declared Iran as an enemy of America and part of a triad of evil nations. It was Progressives who decried the attitude of aggressiveness against nations. Does the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war mean anything to you? Preemptive war is not a Progressive ideal.

2. It was the American Right who pushed for severe sanctions against the PEOPLE of Iran, not the Progressives. Even today, it is the Right who is still pushing for even more severe sanctions. Do you imagine sanctions only hurt AN and his followers? Progressives know that sanctions hurt even the freedom fighters and the common people of Iran.

3. It was the American Right, who appearing on TV, writing in newspapers and on the internet, who actively pushed for all-out war with Iran. Do you imagine that war on Iran would only selectively target weapons or AN and his followers? The collateral damage would be massive, and Progressives have called for a stop to this kind of rhetoric. In fact, visit almost any Right website, and you can still see the neo-cons calling for war with Iran immediately.

4. During our last Presidential election, was it the Democratic Party (supposed Left) or the Republican Party (definite Right) calling for opening dialogue with Iran? The Right was violently opposed to peaceful negotiations, and Obama (moderate Left) truthfully expressed his desire to have closer relations between the 2 countries. Just because he said he would talk directly to AN, this was to benefit the PEOPLE of Iran, and the people of the US.

5. The Right wants always to have an enemy in the Middle East. To have an enemy keeps the US on a war-footing, always. A continuous War footing helps the military-industrial complex, keeps the country united from fear of the "enemy," and makes them very pliable. They have chosen Iran as the next enemy. AN is deserving of being an enemy, but the people of Iran are not. The Progressives want, and have always wanted dialogue, negotiations and open relations with Iran and other countries.

6. The Right in both countries are religious ideologues, and would have the people of both countries live under a theocratic form of government. Secularists are not in the Conservative Movement, they are Progressives. Secularists believe in freedom much more than religious ideologues, who have so many rules/laws for social behavior.

7. You may have a good idea of how politics work in Iran, but you are certainly naive about politics in the US. You never stopped to consider that the average-citizen liberal/Progressive DOES support the Iranian Freedom Movement. you picked a few instances from OTHERS' articles, and rushed to the conclusion that the Progressive/Left movement doesn't support the Iranian people

8. Therefore, you sir, are no journalist/commentator. You have an agenda, and I do not know nor care what it is. You have insulted most of the Progressives who have supported the Iranian Freedom Movement with their time, energy and money. You do not know the difference between the American Left and Right. You sir, are sort of an idiot. I will not be reading Tehran Bureau and will encourage others to take TB off of their "must read" websites.

9. I am one of the proud Progressive citizens of this country. I am not a politician, or other famous person. There are millions and millions like me: citizens of the left-persuasion who support the Iranian Freedom Movement. For you to have accused all of us this way is unconscionable.

JAK / July 25, 2009 3:22 PM

Thank you for publishing this article, thanks as well to many of the commentors. I am an American who does not feel that she has enough information about Iran to pick a side, even though I am moved by the courage and restraint of the protestors. I have been suspicious of Americans declaring support because I have been concerned that some of that support is motivated not by clear understanding of the situtaion in Iran but by American suspicion of Islam. For that reason I have found this conversation enlightening and refreshing. I feel it has done much to advance my understanding.

Best regards,

Mary / July 25, 2009 3:31 PM

The American left hates everything and anything that is pro-American. They feel, at the same time, both ashamed of the prosperity America offers them and entitled to unlimited riches; riches to be gained by "taxing the rich". They are Trotsky-like in their closed mindedness, belief in totalitarian tactics, and hate of liberty.

James / July 25, 2009 5:01 PM

Dear JAK:

Thank you. I agree with most of your points. I do not speak for anyone other than myself. I did add a short paragraph to the article (the third paragraph above) explaining that I do not mean the entire left, but a fraction of it, after several commentators protested, and I thought that I should clarify what I say further (although I do believe that it was clear enough..

But, as others also pointed out, in Latin America and Europe positive sentiments for Ahmadinejad are very strong among leftists, simply because they are anti-US, and believe that the CIA is fomenting unrest in Iran, as it has done many times in Latin America and elsewhere.

I disagree with you regarding one point. The number of leftists in this country who support Ahmadinejad, due to his supposedly anti-imperialism, is not as small as you think it is, although it is much smaller than the number of leftists who are in support of the Green Movement. I consider myself a leftist/progressive, and it sadenned me to see many leftists who don't support the GM, or are skeptical (not a healthy way, but in an unreasonable way). That was one motivation for writing the article. I did not write the article in a vacuum.

Finally, we should not, in my opinion, question others' integrity or journalistic integrity, simply because we disagree with them. I can be wrong, obviously, but that does not mean that my journalistic integrity is questionable.

Muhammad Sahimi / July 25, 2009 5:23 PM

Here are some links to articles with viewpoints similar to Mr. Sahimis as well as to some of the questionable positions:

Louis Proyect piece "Flunkies for Ahmadinejad" on Edward S. Herman (of Propaganda Model fame) and David Peterson 10.000 word article in MRZine on the "many problems with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy's "Question & Answer on the Iran Crisis" can be found here:


You can read Herman and Petersons article here:


Here is "Iran, Gucci anti-imperialism and movement anti-intellectuals ", an article on the Jews sans frontiers blog in response to Richard Seymours "The iranian working class and the revolt" ( http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/06/iranian-working-class-and-revolt.html ) and an article by "leftist" (i do not wish to dignify him with this term, even though it may not mean much) James Petras (go find your own link):


Another article by David Paterson "And whose side are you on?":


Rustam / July 25, 2009 6:14 PM

The so-called "progressive left" in US is neither.

Left in the west equals center and center is right. Look at the social/political role of this so-called left in US and you get the picture.

American "left" plus the so-called progressive left in Arab countries support this murderer since they do not have the social and historical "backbone" to rise themselves.

Rather than micro-analyzing a nation that you do not have a F**king clue about, look at your own self.

Mehrdad / July 25, 2009 10:09 PM

Muhammad Sahimi,

First, thank you for your great reporting and analysis. You have helped to illuminate many issues surrounding the June election.

In reference to this issue, I wouldn't lose too much sleep. Simply citing the fact that Noam Chomsky supports the Green Movement for human rights in Iran says what needs to be said. To the extent that there is a progressive foreign policy establishment in the U.S. it's embodied by people like Chomsky. And Chomsky exerts almost no influence on American politics.

If you took a poll of the U.S. population, I suspect you might find that less than 4 million held anti-green movement attitudes -- and probably more than half the number would come from those on the isolationist far-right.

The core pro-Ahmadinejad base seems to come from the segment of the population that voted for Nader in 2008 because they thought Obama was too conservative (I say this as someone who voted for Nader in 2000 as a protest against the two establishment candidates in a state that had a non-competitive presidential race).

No harm though in your attempt to set the record straight.

JP / July 25, 2009 11:27 PM

Like many others have already stated, upon finishing this article, which I agree with its description of Yazdi, the state of the economy, and Ahmadinejad's desire to bring about an Islamic state, I was wondering who this "left" is. The only one I know of is that arrogant bloat George Galloway.

How can you write this article, which is focused entirely on rebutting the claims of some in the left, without even mentioning their names?

Sepand / July 26, 2009 9:41 AM

As another proud member of what passes as the American Left I would say that JAK has it correct and that folk like James haven't got a clue about anything.

I do think it true that the Iranian problems do not cut clean right left lines in the US. I also think that there are a few more than two sides as well. Those openly pro-Ahmadinejad are of an extremely lonely crowd here as I have seen very few of any stripe wishing him well. I do think that there are many on the Right happy he is in power because he is an easier devil to rile their folks up about, but obviously they would not admit it. Others (and some of the previous) on the right are ready to go invade Iran to "save" its people from Ahmadinejad like they saved Iraq from Saddam. If they were Iranians they would be Basiji.

On the US Left I see things very much more difficult and nuanced. I think that there is unqualified support for Iranian freedom and democracy and I would think a greater willingness to help out as individuals like claiming to be Iranian twitter accounts, but also a recognition that for the US to support the greens is to injure much more than help. But I know no one here that does not respect and salute the bravery of the Iranian Greens.

That Chavez and other non-US leaders on the left have embraced Ahmadinejad has damaged the stature of Chavez rather than gain support for Ahmadinejad.

Freedem, Orlando / July 27, 2009 12:13 AM

Presumably this is some kind of American debate, with Iran as a kind of small sideshow, as Iraq was until Americans became bored with it.

Aren't there more important things to write about than a few obscure lefists who support Ahmadinejad.

Why can't Americans realise that not all the world is like America, and that the attempt to import western concepts like "secularism" is a disaster for many parts of the world? What does secularism mean anyway? No religion in politics?? Yeah, like America where the Jewish lobby has such an influence on foreign policy, where protestant fundamentalism is so strong that all presidents must consult God on major issues?

Get back to covering Iran.

Nazih Musa / July 27, 2009 2:13 AM

Thank you, Muhammad Sahimi, for commenting so thoughtfully on the matter of some leftists supporting Mahmoud "Landslide" Ahmadinejad despite the factors you mentioned, including his very worrisome relationship to the IRGC (Revolutionary Guard) with its enormous involvement with the black market.

I am in a position to take issue with some characterizations by other comments, particularly in regard to how U.S. conservatives want to invade Iran, want to create a theocracy in the U.S. and do not care about the Iranian people. Those conservatives I know abhor war, but realize that some issues are worth that pain and sacrifice. The most common sentiment I see among conservatives is support for the will of the Iranian people, support for demonstrations and, thus, outrage that the Iran government has abolished so many fundamental freedoms, denied foreign press freedom to investigate and crushed popular demonstrations so brutally.

Despite our political differences, I and the conservatives I know support your right to write and speak freely and, in your case, so thoughtfully, especially since you wish to promote the rights and freedoms of the Iranian people.

Roger / July 27, 2009 12:46 PM

Very interesting piece. Just goes to show that wingnuts exist on both ends of the political spectrum. I think the real issue with them is they allow their political ideology colour their view of events and then attempt to force the events to conform to whatever ideology they have instead of attempting to understand events as they are. It makes for some strange and odd views that you'd not expect them to come to just looking at the ideology in a vacuum. All doctrinaires do this. Just look at the mess the US neo-cons have made because of their ideology. Oh and btw, they also support Ahmadinejad. Strange bedfellows with the left indeed.

Any Mouse / July 27, 2009 10:04 PM

Some of my well educated friends on the American left have expressed the belief, along with numerous comments I have seen on Commondreams.org, that Ahmadinejad probably won. They wonder what happened to the 75 million congress allotted to support the overthrow of the government in Iran. And they believe the US to be capable of fomenting the revolt of the Iranian people. Leftists on this site who deny this appear to either be very out of touch with the left they support or are reading very selectively.

A distinction appears not to be being made between leading leftists and the leftist masses in the US. Leading leftists like Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian, David Korten (Yes Magazine), and Thomas Frank (Adbusters) do not seem to be very taken in by conspiracy theorists. The leftist masses, on the other hand, are highly prone to this sort of thinking. In fact, Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian were basically attacked by their usual supporters for not believing the US government was behind 9-11 (Chomsky with hundreds of letters a day he once noted).

The left could be an extremely important constituency, for leftist activists can mobilize support for boycotts and sanctions that might be harmful to American and European businesses - sanctions and boycotts which would fail without their support. They tend to be highly active politically, and they very often take on causes like the revolt of the masses in Iran. Their absence of care and skepticism regarding this issue, is already being felt by the waning of interest toward the Iranian revolt in the American press. They could keep this issue alive. And if they cared enough, they could keep the policy debate framed around our ethical responsibilities to demonstrators. Their failure to do so is a true mark of shame on American leftism.

Theo Horesh / August 2, 2009 8:02 PM

Excuse me, but WHAT US leftists support the Ahmadinejad regime??? I've been active in the US Left for 50 years, have been strongly focused on mid-eastern issues for over 10 -- and I have never met ANYONE in the American left who supports Ahmadinejad. The one American you mention, Kenneth Timmerman, is a conservative Republican.

In such a loose, large, vaguely defined, and heterogenous mass as "the left" I don't doubt you could produce some obscure nutjobs who do support Ahmadinejad, but you don't even do that. Having particiapted in countless left-wing marches and forums against US action in the mid-East I have yet to see any support for Ahmadeinejad. Rather our stand is (surprisingly for the left) quite unanimous -- US meddling would only create reactive support for Ahmadinejad. We all applaud the movement for Iranian democracy and encourage person-to-person contacts and support for Iranian activists, while reocgonzing that our own government's meddling has fed the violence and polarization that has pushed Iran from one violent, repressive regine to another.

Your analysis of events and history in Iran makes a lot of sense. It fits very well with what I know about Iran specifically and generally, and I've visited Iran. I give you full credit there, but wonder why you sully otherwise good analysis with gratuitous and unsubstantiated smears against the American Left.

I appreciate that Frontline features a wide range of views and don't expect to agree with all of them, but am disappointed that they would include such a vague slander that has nothing to do with the substance of the article.

Jack Fertig / October 17, 2009 9:00 PM

People have asked for examples of leftists in the US who support Ahmadinejad and are opposed to the uprising, so I will deliver. This list was compiled last year when the uprising began and parties/organizations came out with statements on it: http://riseoftheiranianpeople.com/support-opposition/

As you can see, three parties are listed who came out in opposition to the uprising, namely:

Workers World Party: http://www.workers.org/2009/editorials/iran_0625/
Party for Socialism and Liberation: http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=12365&news_iv_ctrl=1261
Freedom Road Socialist Organization: http://www.fightbacknews.org/2009/06/imperialism-and-irans-elections.htm

Besides these parties there are many self-proclaimed leftists crawling around on internet forums expressing support for Ahmadinejad due to his "anti-imperialism" and opposition to the uprising due to its "imperialist nature". Here's an example of such a person, and a response to it: http://riseoftheiranianpeople.com/2010/06/29/reply-to-a-national-chauvinist-on-anti-imperialism/

Sina / June 30, 2010 12:07 AM