Free or Fraud: What if President Ahmadi Nejad Was Resoundingly Reelected!
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
Iranian poets and spiritual leaders have phoned me merely to ask me to pray that anybody other than Mahmud Ahmadi Nejad would be elected in perhaps the most genuinely free election since the benevolent and incorruptible Mohammad Mossadegh was overthrown on August 19, 1953 (28 Mordad 1332) more than half a century ago by the CIA stooge, General Zahedi, for daring to lead opposition to the joint British-American Oil Empire.
There is no doubt that the Iranian presidential election of June 12th, 2009, was not free and fair. Since when has any election been free and fair in a “managed” or “constrained” democracy like Iran’s, where the manipulation of the political process starts long before the voting. The question is not whether the election was free but whether it was a fraud. And then what? The question is not in the subjunctive, “What if President Ahmadi Nejad were resoundingly re-elected?”, which would imply that he was not, but “What if President Ahmadi Nejad was resoundingly re-elected!”, with an exclamation mark not a question mark.
For his own pre-election maneuvering leading up to 2012, Republican Mitt Romney appeared on June 14 on ABC “This Week” to pronounce: “What has occurred is that the election is a fraud, the results are inaccurate, and you’re seeing a brutal repression of the people as they protest. ... It’s very clear that the president’s policies of going around the world and apologizing for America aren’t working.” Of course, he asserted this before Ayatollah Khamenei, the head of the Guardian Council, on June 15th called for a thorough investigation into the claims of vote fraud, such as the unavailability of ballots for 5,000,000 people supposedly as a result of the high turnout, and for possibly a recount or even another election.
The White House wisely, at least for once, refuses to get involved in Iranian internal affairs and is proceeding on the assumption that it will be dealing with President Ahmadi Nejad for another few years. Advisers duly advise that, regardless of who governs in Iran, U.S. interests will remain unchanged in seeking an alliance with Iran as a means to maintain an American role in the Great Game of the Asian Super Pipeline Grid with all of its satellite issues. The new twists in this game are laid out in detail by Pepe Escobar in his article of May 23rd, 2009, “Blue Gold, Turkmen Bashes, and Asian Grids: Pipelineistan in Conflict,”
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175071/pepe_escobar_pipelineistan_goes_af_pak which, is given additional weight by the news on June 13th that India is breaking economic ties with Israel and by the latest reports that Pakistan, India, and China are now close allies. Iran is one key to a really big game in which Iraq as already been downgraded to the status of a bit-player. Where Netanyahu comes in is anybody’s guess.
It is clearly not in America’s interest to undermine the government of Iran, and especially not to be seen as doing so, which is why Ahmadi Najad’s claim of a free and fair election should not be too easily dismissed.
In a politically charged atmosphere, as is always the case in Washington, it is no accident that the most popular article today, June 15th, in the Washington Post is the op-ed piece, “The Iranian People Speak,” by Ken Ballen, President of The Center for Public Opinion, and Patrick Doherty, Deputy Director of the American Strategy Program at what is now perhaps Washington’s most powerful think-tank, the New America Foundation.
Their report should be read in its entirety before one jumps to conclusions based on mainline reporting in the American media. The following is their report:
“The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin—greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.
“While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad’s principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.
“Independent and uncensored nationwide surveys of Iran are rare. Typically, pre-election polls there are either conducted or monitored by the government and are notoriously untrustworthy. By contrast, the poll undertaken by our nonprofit organizations from May 11 to May 20 was the third in a series over the past two years. Conducted by telephone from a neighboring country, field work was carried out in Farsi by a polling company whose work in the region for ABC News and the BBC has received an Emmy award. Our polling was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
“The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our pre-election survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi.
“Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.
“The only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. When our poll was taken, almost a third of Iranians were also still undecided. Yet the baseline distributions we found then mirror the results reported by the Iranian authorities, indicating the possibility that the vote is not the product of widespread fraud.
“Some might argue that the professed support for Ahmadinejad we found simply reflected fearful respondents’ reluctance to provide honest answers to pollsters. Yet the integrity of our results is confirmed by the politically risky responses Iranians were willing to give to a host of questions. For instance, nearly four in five Iranians—including most Ahmadinejad supporters—said they wanted to change the political system to give them the right to elect Iran’s supreme leader, who is not currently subject to popular vote. Similarly, Iranians chose free elections and a free press as their most important priorities for their government, virtually tied with improving the national economy. These were hardly ‘politically correct’ responses to voice publicly in a largely authoritarian society.
“Indeed, and consistently among all three of our surveys over the past two years, more than 70 percent of Iranians also expressed support for providing full access to weapons inspectors and a guarantee that Iran will not develop or possess nuclear weapons, in return for outside aid and investment. And 77 percent of Iranians favored normal relations and trade with the United States, another result consistent with our previous findings.
“Iranians view their support for a more democratic system, with normal relations with the United States, as consonant with their support for Ahmadinejad. They do not want him to continue his hard-line policies. Rather, Iranians apparently see Ahmadinejad as their toughest negotiator, the person best positioned to bring home a favorable deal—rather like a Persian Nixon going to China.
“Allegations of fraud and electoral manipulation will serve to further isolate Iran and are likely to increase its belligerence and intransigence against the outside world. Before other countries, including the United States, jump to the conclusion that the Iranian presidential elections were fraudulent, with the grave consequences such charges could bring, they should consider all independent information. The fact may simply be that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted.
The groups’ May 11-20 polling consisted of 1,001 interviews across Iran and had a 3.1 percentage point margin of error. For more on polling in Iran, read Jon Cohen’s Behind the Numbers.