I am wondering why, a lot of people all of a sudden are concerned with the presidential election in Iran has been free and fair. As long as presidential candidates in Iran are vetted by unelected religious leaders, who have a total monopoly of power to handpick anyone they deem is fit to govern Iran, then, the freedom and fairness issue becomes irrelevant. In a democratic election, the focus should be on independent institutions that are guarantors of free and fair elections.
What could be logically deduced from the above comment, is the fact that the ideological differences between the two main presidential candidates, the incumbent mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his rival Mir Hossein Mousavi is not clear. After all, not only that both are approved candidates of the clerics, but also, and most importantly, their views towards the state of Israel and their stand on the right of Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear technology is identical. Therefore, in terms of United States’ foreign policy interests in Iran, it makes little difference as to who is the president in Iran. Unless, some policy makers believe that it is easier to negotiate with one who is said to be a “reformist” (Mousavi), as opposed to a “hardliner” (Ahmadinejad).
President Obama’s conundrum in Iran is a result of historical baggage he has inherited,
- The overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh.
- The installing of Shah Reza Pahlavi on the throne, and propping him for decades through his dictatorial rule.
- President Bush’s “ Regime Change” policy, which made the Iranian Civil Society suspect, and the regime more hardliner.
Throughout his foreign policy pronouncements, the president seems to clearly understand the limits of U.S. power. If this assessment is correct, the U.S. would limit its expectations to what would be reachable goals. Therefore, Obama’s administration should prepare itself to deal with whoever is installed as the president of Iran. The Iranian presidential campaign was very active and supporters came out in droves to vote. Narrowly focusing on electoral politics only, that is good for democracy. What the Iranian people should focus on, are the building of independent institutions that actually would guarantee democracy in Iran. The process is long and arduous. It would only come to fruition by the continuous struggle of the Iranian people. Outside interference not only be unhelpful for democracy in Iran, but it would also strengthen the hands of the hardliners.