I wrote Revolutions Know No Color to make a few basic points. The first was that when people are pushed against the wall and their government aligns with big business and foreign governments leaving them with nothing, the people are more than capable of recognizing this and protesting. It is not a matter of race, color or creed, ethnicity, class, or nationality. The desire for freedom and dignity is universal.
Soroya Ulrich responded in some detail in A response to Michael Collins “Revolutions Know No Color”. In the comment section of my original article, I asked Soraya to “Imagine that Ahmadinejad ruled your nation and then imagine how that would be.” In her response, she informed us that she cast a ballot for Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election.
The initial part of her response concerned Egypt in an attempt to link the Egyptian protesters to the United States intelligence establishment and the colour revolutions in the Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, and other former republics of the Soviet Union. The bulk of her response was a defense of the 2009 Iranian election. I will respond to her points in that order.
The Egyptian Revolution
Saroya says that we don’t know if the Egyptians are engaging in revolution, which she defines as “a fundamental change in the balance of power.” We don’t know if they will succeed, but we certainly know that the movement based at Tahrir Square and those speaking for the various factions insist on fundamental change - Mubarak and his regime must leave. This would change the balance of power. We are witnessing a revolutionary movement.
What inspired the revolution? The Egyptian people live in conditions of existential distress. Infant mortality is high, longevity is low, and food shortages have emerged over the past few months. It’s difficult to stay alive in Egypt. Arrayed against these conditions for the masses, the very small elite accumulate great fortunes. Provoked by a system of rigged elections returning Mubarak’s party to power every election and aggravated by a brutal internal security apparatus, including torture, the people decided that they’ve had enough.
Tunisia’s conditions were so bad self-immolation became a feature of their protests and demand for change. The Egyptian revolution followed the events in Tunisia and threatens to spread revolution for the people in the various oligarchies and monarchies of the Middle East.
It should be noted that not one single major world leader, G-20, has offered unqualified support to the Egyptian peoples revolution.
Soraya claims that the Egyptian people are inspired by US intelligence interests.
“In 2008, young, ‘civil society’ Egyptians met with Condeleeza Rice who called them the hope for the future of Egypt.. The “hope of Egypt” also met the US National Security Advisor and prominent Congressional member.” Soraya Ulrich
What Soraya did not mention was that, on that very same trip, Rice met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Does this mean Rice was advancing the future revolution with the target of the revolution? The meeting described is proof of nothing.
“Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Presidential Palace in Cairo March 4, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)”
We are told that the National Endowment for Democracy, working for the US government, funded Freedom House, another front, to train Egyptians in mobilization and mass action. This reveals a fundamental flaw in the thinking of many who view any US efforts to influence a foreign election as proof of control. It is not. If the US were so skilled at control, there would be no Egyptian peoples’ revolution.
But what control would these instruments of US policy serve? Anyone watching the events unwind in Egypt can see that the first and ongoing basis of US policy is to maintain the current apparatus of power. When the, “let Mubarak stay until elections” ploy failed, the back up became, “let Mubarak’s vice president and US ally Suleiman rule for months.” There will be more excuses to maintain the current power structure.
Apparently, the right hand isn’t telling the left hand what’s going on.
Are we to believe that the US is both fomenting and resisting revolution in Egypt?
The Iranian Election of 2009
The outcome of the 2009 Iranian election was highly controversial. In addition, the protests that followed were violent. These public assemblies were followed by torture and trials for those who resisted.
In an article that I wrote at the time, I said:
“Maziar Bahari of Newsweek erroneously reported that, ‘Less than a month before balloting starts, all the polls give a healthy edge to the hardline incumbent.’ That statement is simply wrong. Pre election polls varied greatly. The last national poll of 7,900 citizens showed a 57% to 24% Mousavi lead. Checking the validity of any Iranian pre election poll is difficult due to limited to no access to data and methodology. The momentum of the campaign measured by crowd size showed a wave of enthusiasm for Mousavi and his “Green” reform movement.” Michael Collins, June 15, 2009
Ironically, Newsweek’s Bahari was one of those arrested while covering the protests, imprisoned, tortured, and tried. Even though he incorrectly endorsed Ahmadinejad’s victory, that wasn’t enough.
Soraya cites an pre election poll by the New American Century Foundation that showed an Ahmadinejad lead over the Reformists.
While she correctly goes after the National Endowment for Democracy ties to the US government, the New America Foundation sponsored poll is accepted uncritically. The foundations board included prominent neoconservative Frances Fukuyama and media celebrity Fharid Zacharia, both of whom supported the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The board also claims former Clinton official and friend of Wall Street Laura D’Andrea Tyson. Is this a disinterested organization or one that seeks to advance US policy?
Iranian polls split just before the election. After the results were announced, serious questions arose.
“Why was there a purge of reformists and moderates at the election ministry before the election? Why was there police intimidation at the polls? Why were results announced within hours of the close of voting showing an Ahmadinejad victory? In past elections, it has taken three days to count votes. Why the hurry? How did the votes get counted in just a fraction of the normal time?’ Michael Collins, June 23, 2009
More significantly, after the election, millions of Iranians protested the results in Tehran and other cities throughout Iran. The response was assault by government forces, including the paramilitary Basij Militia’s that intented to stop election protests with violence.
This image is reminiscent of the pro-Mubarak forces attacking Egyptian protesters to deter their rights.
There were a number of points raised to indicate that the United States somehow caused the Iranian people to risk their lives at part of some nefarious conspiracy.
Soraya says, ” Here, Mr. Collins forgets that ‘revolutions know no color’ – and movements such as the one he refers to, do indeed have a color – Green.”
I take this to mean that since the US-UK influenced colour revolutions in Eastern Europe had colors, the use of “Green” by the Iranian protesters somehow means that the US was behind that series of protests. I’m sure this will be of little surprise to many, but there is a much more obvious explanation for the choice of color.
“The color green has a special place in Islam, and is often used to represent it among other world religions.” ReligionFacts
Soraya asked me a specific question: “Can Mr. Collins say with certainty that the thugs [beating Iranians after the election] were not the same terrorist MEK who killed Iranians when they sided with Saddam Hossein in Iraq?” You can’t ask someone to prove a negative absent anything behind the assertion. There was no proof offered. It’s like the assertion about Condeleeza Rice influencing the Egyptians. If the US was causing millions of Iranians to protest, why would the US employ thugs to beat them?
This, and the claim that the Shah’s son was somehow behind this, are entirely with out any support. But again, it’s assumed that because a nation meddles in the affairs of another, it controls them. What magic do the US government and the non government organizations have that they can put people on the streets to get beaten again and again, to risk their lives and livelihoods? The people of the world notice their conditions and suffering. They are self-motivated in asserting their rights in many cases. Egypt and Iran are two such cases.
The 2005 Iranian Election Set the Stage
The core problem with the 2009 election in Iran began in 2005 with some serious election magic. Just a simple review of past elections shows solid majorities for reformist candidates from 1989 through 2001.
In 2005, something curious happened. In the preliminary election on June 17, the Reformists (opposing Ahmadinejad) won a plurality of the vote over the Conservatives, 16.6 million to 11.5 million. Then Ahmadinejad ‘s Conservatives won the June 27 run-off round of the election and the presidency with 17.2 million votes over the Reformists 10.0 million.
Here is how it looks. Remotely believable? Of course not, unless you believe that there was a spread of 12 million votes, 43%, in favor of the Conservatives in just ten days from the preliminary to the runoff election.
In 2009, after four years of a failed economy, isolation in the region and the world, in an election that was to favor Reformists with a high turnout (85%), we are expected to believe that reformist supporters defected in droves to elect the author of the nation’s suffering, the pretender to the presidency, Ahmadinejad.
There are more details regarding the Iranian election of 2009 that deserve discussion. But election fraud and manipulation didn’t start in 2009 and it will not end there with the current government.
Soraya said that in some cultures there are higher values than democracy. She named “human security” as the highest value in some cases (which I assume means Iran and Egypt). Iran wasn’t secure for the millions of protesters who were beaten and those subsequently imprisoned, tortured, and forced to endure show trials. Egypt provided no security when it set upon demonstrators with horse and camel mounted thugs.
In my article, I made a point of debunking what Soraya calls the “Western Mentality” of assuming a superior knowledge and skill at the fundamental right to self determination. Drawing on King, Gandhi, and others, I defined the core value as follows:
“It is the universal right of all people to live in peace, freedom, and dignity.”
This value includes security and assumes self-determination. I believe on the most fundamental issue of this discussion, Soraya and I agree.
Revolutions Know No Color, Michael Collins, Feb 3, 2011
A response to Michael Collins “Revolutions Know No Color” Saroya Ulrich, Feb 7, 2011
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