In light of earlier polling data (pdf) showing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad trouncing his opponents in last week’s election, I’m inclined to believe his victory is “legitimate”, as far as these things go, however unfortunate that may be for the Iranian people and for the prospect of improved relations with the U.S. That said, Juan Cole and others have pointed to seemingly credible evidence the election may have been tampered with by the powers that be, preventing anyone from yet concluding with complete certainty what exactly just happened.
Except, that is, for the good folks at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a hardline group co-founded by Obama officials Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross committed to preventing Iran “from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.”
Providing further evidence for Daniel Luban of Inter Press Service’s observation that neoconservatives and others itching for a confrontation with Iran were eagerly rooting for an Ahmadenijad victory -- fearmongering about a nuclear Iran being that much easier when there’s a Holocaust-denying demagogue to point to -- UANI President Mark Wallace, a former ambassador under George W. Bush, in a June 14 statement asserts with complete confidence that “Iran has reelected President Ahmadinejad.”
What’s most interesting about Wallace’s statement, though, might be the fact that UANI has finally given up the pretense of giving a damn about the Iranian people. A typically breathless, fear-inducing ad the group is currently running on TV warning Iran’s “radical rulers [are] seeking nuclear weapons” -- an assertion curiously missing a citation -- nonetheless claims Iranians themselves are “young” and “vibrant”, a “people Americans have no quarrel with.”
Ahmadinejad’s apparent election victory, however, has changed all that, with the Iranian people presumably now fair game for America’s liberating firepower. “President Obama offered the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian people,” Wallace says. “Iran has rejected that hand.” The evidence? “Since President Obama's inauguration we have seen more nuclear enrichment from Iran and more missile tests. And now Iran has reelected President Ahmadinejad - a hard-line, holocaust-denying radical.”
The solution? “America and the international community must increase Iran's economic isolation.” After spending a good chunk of change on slick anti-Iranian propaganda with which to scare geriatric cable TV watchers, I have a good feeling UANI would have issued that same call for even more economic sanctions no matter who won the election.