Re: [DEHAI] Iranian Elections: The "Stolen Elections" Hoax (By James Petras)

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Date: Thu Jun 25 2009 - 14:01:27 EDT

Selam Dehaiers,
The attached piece by Prof. James Petras (thank you, Berhan ) is a
example of critical thinking that I wish to emulate in sizing up the
issues around the around the world that we hear of and read about every
Of course, you won't hear Prof. James Petras being quoted on the networks.
am sure you know why.
“Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's
opinion is the best proof of stupidity.”...
.............. Michel de Montaigne

Iranian Elections: The "Stolen Elections" Hoax


James Petras - 18.06.09

"Change for the poor means food and jobs, not a relaxed dress code or
mixed recreation…Politics in Iran is a lot more about class war than religion."
 Financial Times Editorial, June 15 2009


There is hardly any election, in which the White House has a significant
stake, where the electoral defeat of the pro-US candidate is not denounced
as illegitimate by the entire political and mass media elite. In the most
recent period, the White House and its camp followers cried foul following
the free (and monitored) elections in Venezuela and Gaza, while joyously
fabricating an 'electoral success' in Lebanon despite the fact that the
Hezbollah-led coalition received over 53% of the vote.

The recently concluded, June 12, 2009 elections in Iran are a classic
case: The incumbent nationalist-populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (MA)
received 63.3% of the vote (or 24.5 million votes), while the leading
Western-backed liberal opposition candidate Hossein Mousavi (HM) received 34.2% or
(3.2 million votes). Iran's presidential election drew a record turnout of
more than 80% of the electorate, including an unprecedented overseas vote of
 234,812, in which HM won 111,792 to MA's 78,300. The opposition led by HM
did not accept their defeat and organized a series of mass demonstrations
that turned violent, resulting in the burning and destruction of
automobiles, banks, public building and armed confrontations with the police and other
authorities. Almost the entire spectrum of Western opinion makers, includin
g all the major electronic and print media, the major liberal, radical,
libertarian and conservative web-sites, echoed the opposition's claim
of rampant election fraud.

Neo-conservatives, libertarian conservatives and Trotskyites joined the
Zionists in hailing the opposition protestors as the advance guard of a
democratic revolution. Democrats and Republicans condemned the incumbent regime,
refused to recognize the result of the vote and praised the demonstrators'
efforts to overturn the electoral outcome. The New York Times, CNN,
Washington Post, the Israeli Foreign Office and the entire leadership of the
Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations called for harsher
sanctions against Iran and announced Obama's proposed dialogue with Iran as 'dead
in the water'.

The Electoral Fraud Hoax

Western leaders rejected the results because they 'knew' that their
reformist candidate could not lose ... For months they published daily
interviews, editorials and reports from the field 'detailing' the failures of
Ahmadinejad's administration; they cited the support from clerics, former
officials, merchants in the bazaar and above all women and young urbanites fluent
in English, to prove that Mousavi was headed for a landslide victory. A
victory for Mousavi was described as a victory for the 'voices of moderation',
at least the White House's version of that vacuous cliché. Prominent
liberal academics deduced the vote count was fraudulent because the opposition
candidate, Mousavi, lost in his own ethnic enclave among the Azeris. Other
academics claimed that the 'youth vote' -- based on their interviews with
upper and middle-class university students from the neighborhoods of Northern
Tehran were ovverwhelmingly for the 'reformist' candidate.

What is astonishing about the West's universal condemnation of the
electoral outcome as fraudulent is that not a single shred of evidence in either
written or observational form has been presented either before or a week
after the vote count. During the entire electoral campaign, no credible (or
even dubious) charge of voter tampering was raised. As long as the Western
media believed their own propaganda of an immanent victory for their
candidate, the electoral process was described as highly competitive, with heated
public debates and unprecedented levels of public activity and unhindered by
public proselytizing. The belief in a free and open election was so strong
that the Western leaders and mass media believed that their favored
candidate would win.

The Western media relied on its reporters covering the mass demonstrations
of opposition supporters, ignoring and downplaying the huge turnout for
Ahmadinejad. Worse still, the Western media ignored the class composition of
the competing demonstrations -- the fact that the incumbent candidate was
drawing his support from the far more numerous poor working class, peasant,
artissan and public employee sectors while the bulk of the opposition
demonstrators was drawn from the upper and middle class students, business and
professional class.

Moreover, most Western opinion leaders and reporters based in Tehran
extrapolated their projections from their observations in the capital -- few
venture into the provinces, small and medium size cities and villages where
Ahmadinejad has his mass base of support. MMoreover the opposition's
supporters were an activist minority of students easily mobilized for street
activities, while Ahmadinejad's support drew on the majority of working youth and
household women workers who would express their views at the ballot box and
had little time or inclination to engage in street politics.

A number of newspaper pundits, including Gideon Rachman of the Financial
Times, claim as evidence of electoral fraud the fact that Ahmadinejad won
63% of the vote in an Azeri-speaking province against his opponent, Mousavi,
an ethnic Azeri. The simplistic assumption is that ethnic identity or
belonging to a linguistic group is the only possible explanation of voting
behavior rather than other social or class interests. A closer look at the
voting pattern in the East-Azerbaijan region of Iran reveals that Mousavi won
only in the city of Shabestar among the upper and the middle classes (and
only by a small margin), whereas he was soundly defeated in the larger rural
areas, where the re-distributive policies of the Ahmadinejad government had
helped the ethnic Azeris write off debt, obtain cheap credits and easy
loans for the farmers. Mousavi did win in the West-Azerbaijan region, using his
ethnic ties to win over the urban voters. In the highly populated
Tehran province, Mousavi beat Ahmadinejad in the urban centers of Tehran
and Shemiranat by gaining the vote of the middle and upper class districts,
whereas he lost badly in the adjoining working class suburbs, small towns
and rural areas.

The careless and distorted emphasis on 'ethnic voting' cited by writers
from the Financial Times and New York Times to justify calling Ahmadinejad's
victory a 'stolen vote' is matched by the media's willful and deliberate
refusal to acknowledge a rigorous nationwide public opinion poll conducted by
two US experts just three weeks before the vote, which showed Ahmadinejad
leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin -- even larger than his electoral
victory on June 12. This poll revealed that among ethnic Azeris, Ahmadinejad
was favored by a 2 to 1 margin over Mousavi, demonstrating how class
interests represented by one candidate can overcome the ethnic identity of the
other candidate (Washington Post June 15, 2009). The poll also demonstrated
how class issues, within age groups, were more influential in shaping
political preferences than 'generational life style'. According to this poll, over
two-thirds of Iranian youth were too poor to have access to a
computer and the 18-24 year olds "comprised the strongest voting bloc for
Ahmadinejad of all groups" (Washington Post June 15, 2009). The only group,
which consistently favored Mousavi, was the university students and
graduates, business owners and the upper middle class. The 'youth vote', which
the Western media praised as 'pro-reformist', was a clear minority of less
than 30% but came from a highly privileged, vocal and largely English
speaking group with a monopoly on the Western media. Their overwhelming presence
in the Western news reports created what has been referred to as the 'North
Tehran Syndrome', for the comfortable upper class enclave from which many
of these students come. While they may be articulate, well dressed and
fluent in English, they were soundly out-voted in the secrecy of the ballot box.

In general, Ahmadinejad did very well in the oil and chemical producing
provinces. This may have be a reflection of the oil workers' opposition to
the ‘reformist’ program, which included proposals to 'privatize' public
enterprises. Likewise, the incumbent did very well along the border provinces
because of his emphasis on strengthening national security from US and
Israeli threats in light of an escalation of US-sponsored cross-border terrorist
attacks from Pakistan and Israeli-backed incursions from Iraqi Kurdistan,
which have killed scores of Iranian citizens. Sponsorship and massive
funding of the groups behind these attacks is an official policy of the US from
the Bush Administration, which has not been repudiated by President Obama;
in fact it has escalated in the lead-up to the elections.

What Western commentators and their Iranian protégés have ignored is the
powerful impact which the devastating US wars and occupation of Iraq and
Afghanistan had on Iranian public opinion: Ahmadinejad's strong position on
defense matters contrasted with the pro-Western and weak defense posture of
many of the campaign propagandists of the opposition.

The great majority of voters for the incumbent probably felt that national
security interests, the integrity of the country and the social welfare
system, with all of its faults and excesses, could be better defended and
improved with Ahmadinejad than with upper-class technocrats supported by
Western-oriented privileged youth who prize individual life styles over
community values and solidarity.

The demography of voting reveals a real class polarization pitting high
income, free market oriented, capitalist individualists against working
class, low income, community based supporters of a 'moral economy' in which
usury and profiteering are limited by religious precepts. The open attacks by
opposition economists of the government welfare spending, easy credit and
heavy subsidies of basic food staples did little to ingratiate them with the
majority of Iranians benefiting from those programs. The state was seen as
the protector and benefactor of the poor workers against the 'market',
which represented wealth, power, privilege and corruption. The Opposition's
attack on the regime's 'intransigent' foreign policy and positions
'alienating' the West only resonated with the liberal university students and
import-export business groups. To many Iranians, the regime's military buildup was
seen as having prevented a US or Israeli attack.

The scale of the opposition's electoral deficit should tell us is how out
of touch it is with its own people's vital concerns. It should remind them
that by moving closer to Western opinion, they removed themselves from the
everyday interests of security, housing, jobs and subsidized food prices
that make life tolerable for those living below the middle class and outside
the privileged gates of Tehran University.

Amhadinejad's electoral success, seen in historical comparative
perspective should not be a surprise. In similar electoral contests between
nationalist-populists against pro-Western liberals, the populists have won. Past
examples include Peron in Argentina and, most recently, Chavez of Venezuela,
Evo Morales in Bolivia and even Lula da Silva in Brazil, all of whom have
demonstrated an ability to secure close to or even greater than 60% of the
vote in free elections. The voting majorities in these countries prefer
social welfare over unrestrained markets, national security over alignments with
military empires.

The consequences of the electoral victory of Ahmadinejad are open to
debate. The US may conclude that continuing to back a vocal, but badly defeated,
minority has few prospects for securing concessions on nuclear enrichment
and an abandonment of Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas. A realistic
approach would be to open a wide-ranging discussion with Iran, and
acknowledging, as Senator Kerry recently pointed out, that enriching uranium is not
an existential threat to anyone. This approach would sharply differ from
the approach of American Zionists, embedded in the Obama regime, who follow
Israel's lead of pushing for a preemptive war with Iran and use the specious
argument that no negotiations are possible with an ‘illegitimate’
government in Tehran which 'stole an election'.

Recent events suggest that political leaders in Europe, and even some in
Washington, do not accept the Zionist-mass media line of 'stolen elections'.
The White House has not suspended its offer of negotiations with the newly
re-elected government but has focused rather on the repression of the
opposition protesters (and not the vote count). Likewise, the 27 nation
European Union expressed 'serious concern about violence' and called for the
"aspirations of the Iranian people to be achieved through peaceful means and
that freedom of expression be respected" (Financial Times June 16, 2009 p.4).
Except for Sarkozy of France, no EU leader has questioned the outcome of
the voting.

The wild card in the aftermath of the elections is the Israeli response:
Netanyahu has signaled to his American Zionist followers that they should
use the hoax of 'electoral fraud' to exert maximum pressure on the Obama
regime to end all plans to meet with the newly re-elected Ahmadinejad regime.

Paradoxically, US commentators (left, right and center) who bought into
the electoral fraud hoax are inadvertently providing Netanyahu and his
American followers with the arguments and fabrications: Where they see religious
wars, we see class wars; where they see electoral fraud, we see imperial


James Petras is the author of more than 62 books published in 29
languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American
Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and
Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in
nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian
Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review,
TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the

His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview,
Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Career
of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association's
Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and
the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His
most recent titles include Unmasking Globalization: Imperialism of the
Twenty-First Century (2001); co-author The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin
America (2000), System in Crisis (2003), co-author Social Movements and State
Power (2003), co-author Empire With Imperialism (2005),
co-author)Multinationals on Trial (2006).

He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in
particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he
was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin
America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and
previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from
Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

The James Petras Website

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