Unrest in Iran: The Vindication of George W. Bush – by Larry Elder


Did Saddam Hussein’s fall and the formation of a fledging democracy in Iraq encourage and embolden regime-threatening dissent in Iran?

The anti-Iraq War crowd, many of whom suffer from Give-George-W.-Bush-No Credit-for-Anything Disease, says, “No, of course not.” How dare anyone even suggest that the former President was correct, if not about the rightfulness of the war itself, then about his argument that a “free and peaceful” Iraq would provide a “dramatic and inspiring example” to the Middle East and the Muslim world. Good Lord!

The Iraq War-achieved-zero crowd begrudged Bush nothing even after the democratic Cedar Revolution in Lebanon. Never mind that Walid Jumblatt, a Lebanese Druze Muslim leader, said: “It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting (in 2005), 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.”

As to Iran, The New York Times quoted a pundit-blogger who, when protests began this past summer, wrote, “(N)o Iranian … has mentioned Iraq as an inspiration for the demonstrations, nor has any leader of their opposition cited their Iraqi neighbors as a model or a source of guidance.”


Meet Mohsen Kadivar. In May 2004, Time magazine profiled this Iranian intellectual in a flattering article called “The Critical Cleric — Reclaiming Islam for a New World.” Newsweek called him a global leader “to watch in 2005.” His criticism of the Iranian regime landed him in jail. He now teaches at Duke University, and PBS’s Charlie Rose interviewed him in July.

What does this cleric says about Iraq’s possible influence on his native country? In February 2005, he said: “I think the Iraqis can make what we wanted to create but were unsuccessful: a real Islamic Republic. By that I mean a republic with Islamic values, democracy with Islamic values … (where) the clergy has no special rights. If they have a good government with Islamic democracy and without any special or divine rights for the clergy, the Iranian government won’t be able to justify its situation to the Iranian citizens.”

Meet Mashallah Shamsolvaezin. In 2000, this Iranian journalist received an International Press Freedom Award but could not attend the formal dinner honoring him. Shamsolvaezin was then sitting in a Tehran prison for the crime of “insulting Islamic values.” The authorities shut down several publications that he edited. Just days ago, he and several other journalists were arrested in Iran.

What did he say about Iraq’s possible influence on Iran? “The Shi’as in Iraq have accepted the notion of having a secular government, and they are slowly moving toward the democratization of their country — free elections, democratic institutions, a free press.

All of this in and of itself will have an impact on the situation in Iran.”

Meet Mohsen Sazegara. This Revolutionary Guard co-founder and former Islamic Republic supporter became a critic. He attempted to run for president of Iran, but authorities denied his application. He spent three months in jail for opposing the regime. He now lives in the United States and faces more prison time should he return to his country.

What did he say about Iraq’s possible influence on Iran? “I personally hope that Iraq’s (transition to democracy) will be completed successfully so that it can also help our nation. For sure, neighbors with democratic governments are much better for us than dictators such as Saddam Hussein or backward groups such as the Taliban … . Our young generation in particular has shown … that it has a strong desire for democracy, human rights and civil society, and a strong desire to join the international (community). And when democratic changes take place in our neighboring and brother country Iraq, with its many ties to us, it encourages our youth, and emboldens our young people to ask for change in our current constitution.”

In truth, the anti-Iraq War/Bush-hating left despises the former President far more than do the Iranians.

Almost two years after we entered Iraq, Iranians, according to a 2004 BBC poll, preferred Bush (52 percent) over John Kerry (42 percent) in the U.S. presidential elections. When asked whether the U.S. should get out of the Middle East, only 20 percent of Iranians said yes.

In May 2004, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof traveled to Iran. He wrote: “Everywhere I’ve gone in Iran … people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States, and often for President Bush as well. … Indeed, many Iranians seem convinced that the U.S. military ventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are going great, and they say this with more conviction than your average White House spokesman.”

The Iraq War and fledging democracy continue to pay dividends. It helped convince Libya’s strongman to surrender his WMD. It helped inspire a democratic movement in Lebanon. And it may, just may, help to bring down an Islamofascist government that is the leading exporter of terrorism — before it gets a nuclear bomb.

Just as the “neo-cons” had hoped.

  • bushlikesdick12

    Larry Elder is smoking dust if he thinks Bush could predict the unrest in Iran


    Does the famous victory at sea banner ring any bells Larry? Bush really thought he win this wet dream of WW2 European style go into Berlin Patton style of a war.

    He couldn't even predict that Saddam had WMD and realize that Saddam was bluffing to keep Iran on the defense.

    Bush was caught studying how to read in a grammar school class while 9/11 was happening with his stupid look on his face — what now? duh — better call Dick Cheney!!

    And now you think Bushy should get credit for this? bla hahahahaha

  • eerie Steve

    Mr. Fitzgerald:
    With all due respect this is not the direction for conservatives to take. Think Longstreet after the burning of Richmond. We are a conquered people, and should learn to live with the King of the Daily Kos.

    Groveling works. How about this? Not another contract with america, but the next one. Effectively convince Obama to become this just so you can see the expression on Markos Moulitsas face change as he learns how American royalty really works:


    Hey Soros! Want commie America?

    F2ck u pay me

    Hey Detroit!!!! Want more money for daWire AKA thugz wars 2010 AKA your sewer super intendants????? F3ck the teachers. What do the super intendants drive to work? They look like Saddam friggin Hussein, and oh yeah guess what happened to him????

    PAY ME!!!!

    Hey MoveOn.org!!! You want me to repay you all the campaign funds from obama '012? yeah right. sure. that's going to happen. Just keep kicking out all the smart people from the unions.

    ball4! Go to first base!!!!!!

    but hey you know what hurts more than 4 balls??? the inning of the infinite balk.

    If hippy liberal douchebags can have their 9/11 conspiracies without evidence, then I can have my Barak the Laboratory Monster of the CIA conspiracy. I mean he's just tooooooooooooo purrrrrrr-fact. To me, it looks like Dick Cheney just cloned W., accelerated his growth, airbrushed him, and made him a DNC plant.

  • XKarenX

    Excellent analysis, Mr. Elder. People who read the Iranian blogs in 2003 will remember the violent suppression of students in Iran following the invasion of Iraq. Many of them hoped we would roll through Iraq & into Iran. The photos of missing students' dorm rooms with broken doors & bloody walls were devastating. A new group of students and young adults may actually bring the Mullahs down 7 years on with no American President willing to stand in solidarity with their bravery. Good luck to them.

  • DemocracyFirst

    A key argument for the Iraq war, before congress voted for it, was that democracy was the best antidote for Islamism…beginning with Iraq, in the heart of the Arab ME. Now, sure enough, events are unfolding as predicted.

    Unfortunately Obama lacks Bush`s steel resolve and reality based perspective. In a routine only Monty Python should be able to conjure, Obama still thinks he can negotiate an end to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions. Thus, as Iranian demonstrators risk their lives, he can barely utter a word in their support – for fear he'll make the mullahs so angry they'll no longer be amenable to good faith negotiations (insert your favourite Life of Brian scene).

    How painful and poignant that Iranians hold signs begging Obama, as leader of the free world, as president of the nation symbolizing freedom to the oppressed everywhere, to offer them moral support. Or mocking him in its absense. Would that Bush – or better yet, Reagan – were president at this moment of epochal opportunity.

  • sam000

    Bush Father costed us 30,000 executions and 21 years more the existance of the Mullahs Government,

    We could finish with this regime at 1988.

    GWB, with his unjust war had enforced and emboldened the mullahs power and expansion into IRAQ, Libanon, GAZA, Afghanistan, Yeman, Africa, South America.

    Carter brought us Khomeiny.

    Reagan escapped and left Libanon and Middle east for the Mullahs expansion after the Beirut Bombing.

    Clinton white washed Mullah Khatami and listed terrorist the Iranian Anti-Mullahs Resistance, all the executions from 1997, The mullahs share with Clinton.

    and, now, your nice president OBAMA, credibilizes the Mullahs and emboldens them to kill more.

  • http://vampon.blogspot.com/ GJTryon

    So Islam IS a “religion of peace” after all. Thanks for clearing that one up, Larry!

  • turbeaux

    I’ve always liked Larry Elder a lot, but when it comes to the true nature of Islam and Muslims, like most Republican leaders and spokesman today unfortunately he has been rendered blind by political correct multiculturalism, as the model whereby Islam is a Religion of Peace™ and the vast overwhelming majorities of Muslims are peaceful and moderate is demonstrably false.

    • Matt

      Demonstrably false? How so, because of all the negative perceptions about Islam we have or all the violence in the Middle East? To say this is the fault of Islam is to naively subscribe to the belief that those radical mullahs and imams are actually motivated by their religion. It's corruption and power, and were it not for a lot of bad policies coming from DC and other places, they wouldn't be getting the support they are. Case in point, Ahmadinejad sailed to victory in Iran, a victory not only for himself but for the hard-line agenda, because of the US invasion of Iraq.

      And saying that Islam is either THE problem or a threat is just plain stupid because it only serves to feed the growing problem of ignorance and xenophobia here and the perception over there that the recent series of misadventures called the "War on Terror" is actually a war on Islam, which is what all those corrupt mullahs would like Muslims to believe. Widening this conflict is the last thing anyone should do. Battling the perception that democratic governments automatically yield pro-US, pro-business tendencies, or that military intervention is the best way to create a stable, peaceful Middle East, is the first!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-F-Miller/1581147689 David F. Miller

    A provocative column by Larry Elder.

  • andrewnitzberg

    I had a stupid look on my face when I learned of the 9/11 attack also.

    It strikes me as a reasonable response to an irrational situation.

  • Len Powder

    The difference between George Bush and Ronald Reagan is that the latter never doubted himself.

  • andyFree

    The argument is well-presented, but it's very difficult to accept. War has the most ghastly effects and attacking Iraq has surely played into the hands of Iranian Mullahs in a big way. It's extended their influence into a country where they had very little before. Democratically elected Maliki is practically an Iranian puppet, the Mahdi Army is the militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, now one of the most powerful figures in the country. (Look up the case of the 5 British hostages, Iran virtually controlled Baghdad even 3 years ago).

    Sadly, quoting refugees (especially ones who've ended up in the US) is problematical, they're far too prone to saying what they believe the audience wants to hear. The more likely effect of the Iraq attack (and threats of attack from Israel/the US) is to harden support for the current regime.

    It sometimes seems as if beating the Nazis and the Japanese has turned people's heads. Regime change did not happen in 1945 in any meaningful fashion, what remained of the ruling class was simply put back into power and told to hold the reins differently. That's just a very, very different situation from what it is in Iraq, where the ruling class turned (no alternative) to insurgency as the only means to recover their position. It would take generations for a Shia-majority democracy to take root, and it's not going to happen. The Wahhabists next door would see to that, even if Iran didn't.

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  • Matt

    Seems that ever since George stepped in it by invading Iraq, there are those who try to say that subsequent events have somehow proven him right. First of all, the argument is very thin. Iran has had a democratic opposition for decades. Second, if anything, it was Iran's hardliners that were emboldened by Bush's invasion of Iraq. Not only did it seem to prove their stance, that America was hell-bent on invading the Middle East, but the way that Iraq came to totally preoccupy US forces and its political agenda was what encouraged them to push their nuclear agenda in the first place. They knew Bush couldn't respond with force because US forces were too tied up in Iraq, plus they didn't have the credibility or support for another Middle East misadventure.

    Hell, Ahmadinijad sailed to victory in the first place because of the invasion! But it was only a matter of time before his policies and growing frustrations with fundamentalism provoked a democratic reaction. That's the reason for this, not some time-delayed success from Bush! And anyone who thinks it was is either unbelievably biased or just plane kidding themselves!

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