Blog

$10,000 Reward: Show How the Iranian Election Was "Stolen"

I will pay $10,000 to the first person or organization that presents a coherent story for how the Iranian election was stolen that is consistent with knowable facts about the Iranian election process as it took place on June 12-13 and the information that has been published since, including the ballot box tallies that have been published on the web by the Iranian government.

In order to collect the reward, you don't have to prove your case beyond a shadow of a doubt. But your numbers have to add up. To collect your reward, it's not sufficient to cite press reports or anecdotal evidence of election irregularities, or to claim as authority Western commentators or NGOs who have not themselves put together a coherent story. To collect your reward, your story has to tell how on June 12, a majority of Iranian voters voted for other candidates besides Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yet this was transformed by the Iranian election authorities into a majority for Ahmadinejad.

Here are the numbers you have to explain. According to the official tally, Ahmadinejad got about 24.5 million votes. Mir Hossein Mousavi got 13.2 million votes. That's a difference of more than 11 million votes.

So, when I say your numbers have to add up, I mean your story of stolen votes has to overcome that 11 million vote gap. [The number would differ somewhat if you only want to say that Ahmadinejad didn't get a first round majority, as opposed to merely beating Mousavi, but it would not differ by much, since the third and fourth place candidates took such a small share of the vote.]

To illustrate: much has been made of the Guardian Council's "admission" that in about 50 cities or towns, the number of votes exceeded the number of people eligible to vote in that area. Note, first of all, that unlike in the United States, where in general you can only vote where you are registered, in Iran you can vote wherever you happen to be that day.

House to Vote on Afghanistan "Exit Strategy"

Last night the House Rules Committee decided that Rep. Jim McGovern's amendment requiring an exit strategy from Afghanistan would be in order when the House considers the FY2010 Defense Authorization [H.R. 2647]. That means that today or possibly tomorrow there should be a vote on the House floor on McGovern's amendment, which would require the Pentagon to submit to Congress by the end of the year an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

If you don't know where your Representative stands, now would be a good time to call and ask. The Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office, and ask your Representative to co-sponsor McGovern's bill [H.R. 2404] and support McGovern's amendment (which is essentially the same text as the bill) when it comes to the floor.

This will mark the first time in the Obama Administration that there has been a debate and vote in the House specifically on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan. The amendment is quite worthy in its own right: do not the Congress and the American people - not to mention the people of Afghanistan - have the right to be told what the exit strategy for the U.S. military is? But it is also a wedge to open up debate in the United States about what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan and plans to do in the future.

Military commanders have made statements indicating plans to remain in Afghanistan until 2020. If ten more years of war is the Pentagon's "exit strategy," we - and the people of Afghanistan - have a right to know that and debate it.

Since you're calling your Congressional office anyway, let me call three other worthy amendments to your attention.

JFP News 6/23 - Kinzer: Iran Protesters Want US to Stay Out

Just Foreign Policy News
June 23, 2009


Congress Should Require an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
Rep. McGovern's bill, which would require the Pentagon to submit an exit strategy to Congress, now has 90 sponsors. The Rules Committee is considering Tuesday whether the House will vote on McGovern's bill as an amendment to the FY2010 Defense Authorization. Urge your Representative to support this effort.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit

Background: Congress Should Require an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
Military commanders have suggested the U.S. military will remain in Afghanistan until 2020. If the Pentagon is planning for 11 more years of war, the American people have a right to know it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/233

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Protesters in Iran today carrying pictures of former Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadeq - deposed in a U.S.-organized coup in 1953 - are communicating two messages, writes Stephen Kinzer in the Guardian: "We want democracy" and "No foreign intervention."

Tags:

Will Pelosi Allow a Vote on an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan?

Last week, the House leadership prevailed on many progressive Democrats to vote for the war supplemental, paying for military escalation in Afghanistan with no exit strategy, giving $108 billion to the International Monetary Fund without requiring modest reforms such as requiring the IMF to publish minutes of its board meetings (as the Federal Reserve does.)

The leadership obtained this consent, in part, by making the vote a loyalty test. Does the loyalty run the other way?

Today the Rules Committee is scheduled to consider amendments to the FY2010 Defense Authorization. The Rules Committee, which largely defers to the House leadership, will determine if progressive amendments will see the light of day.

Amendment #2, offered by Reps. McGovern, Jones, and Pingree,

Would require the Defense Secretary to report to Congress, not later than December 31, 2009, on a U.S. exit strategy for U.S. military forces in Afghanistan participating in Operation Enduring Freedom.

As a freestanding bill, McGovern's amendment has 90 sponsors. President Obama himself said in March that the U.S. must have an exit strategy. McGovern's amendment simply says that the Pentagon has to tell Congress what the exit strategy is. Will the leadership allow McGovern's amendment to come to a vote?

McGovern's amendment is key to getting the honest debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan that we have been so far denied.

JFP News, 6/22: House to Consider Exit Strategy from Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
June 22, 2009


Congress Should Require an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
Rep. McGovern's bill, which would require the Pentagon to submit an exit strategy to Congress, now has 90 sponsors. Rep. McGovern is expected to try to attach his language to the 2010 Defense Authorization. Urge your Represenative to support this effort.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit

Background: Congress Should Require an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
Military commanders have suggested the U.S. military will remain in Afghanistan until 2020. If the Pentagon is planning for 11 more years of war, the American people have a right to know it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/233

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Attacks are mounting against President Obama for failing to offer sufficient support to backers of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran, writes Paul Saunders of the Nixon Center in the Washington Post. But it is not only unproductive but dangerous for the US to play too visible a role, Saunders argues. Many politicians and commentators seem to suffer from the illusion that the US can have a decisive influence on Iran's political evolution. They appear to believe this despite the fact that engineering Iraqi democracy - which a number of them also urged - has been far more difficult and costly than was advertised at the outset.

Tags:

Congress Should Require an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan

In March, President Obama told CBS' "60 Minutes" that the United States must have an "exit strategy" in Afghanistan.

Ninety Members of Congress agree. They're supporting H.R. 2404, a bill introduced by Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) whose text is one sentence long: "Not later than December 31, 2009, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress a report outlining the United States exit strategy for United States military forces in Afghanistan participating in Operation Enduring Freedom."

This week, Rep. McGovern is expected to try to attach this language to the 2010 military authorization bill. You can ask your Representative to support this effort here.

The Members of Congress are going a bit further than President Obama. They're saying not only that the U.S. should have an exit strategy, but that Congress and the American people should be told what it is.

It's Congress - and the American people - who have the power of the purse. This week, over the protests of progressive Democrats, Congress approved another war supplemental - paying for military escalation with no exit strategy - bringing the total spending for the war in Afghanistan to $223 billion since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Americans aren't just paying for the war through their tax dollars. More than 700 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. Some 56,000 U.S. soldiers are in Afghanistan now, and President Obama has ordered 21,000 more soldiers to be sent there. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new U.S.

Berman, Pelosi Undermine Obama on Iran Diplomacy

It's interesting to observe when some Democratic Congressional leaders say Democrats have to be "loyal" to President Obama and when it's apparently OK to join Republicans in undermining him.

Earlier this week, Speaker Pelosi said progressive House Democrats said had to be "loyal" to President Obama in supporting more money to escalate war in Afghanistan, despite the lack of any strategy for how we are going to get out. And they had to be "loyal" to President Obama in supporting $108 billion for the International Monetary Fund, widely expected to be used largely to bail out European banks, even though modest Congressional demands for reforms at the IMF (the Fed publishes minutes of its meetings, why not the IMF?) had been rebuffed.

But when President Obama said, quite sensibly, that the U.S. should avoid the appearance of meddling in Iran's election dispute, Howard Berman and Nancy Pelosi decided to join with Republicans in undermining Obama's policy.

CQ Politics reports:

When House Republicans pushed a resolution supporting Iranian protestors Tuesday, critics said they were seeking political points against a circumspect President Obama. But when House Democrats signed onto the resolution (H Res 560) Thursday night, getting a green light for a Friday morning vote under suspension of the rules from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, critics said it seemed they were taking political cover. Backed by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L.

Ron Paul Supports Obama Position on Iran

A House resolution supporting the protesters in Iran passed this morning 405-1. While the text of the bill is rather mild, doubtlessly it will be reported in Iran as evidence of US interference. The case is made even stronger by throwing in a few quotes from the debate that preceded the vote.

And the lone dissenter in this pageantry? Ron Paul.

In a statement released concerning the resolution, Paul said:

Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.

You can support President Obama's approach by signing our petition: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/election

Obama's Smart Approach to the Iranian Elections

The Obama Administration's response to the ongoing Iranian election crisis has been remarkably intelligent.

Rather than make blustering statements in support of one side or the other, President Obama has urged restraint and caution when it comes to US commentary on what is going on in Iran. In a CNBC interview, he told the press,

It is not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations to be seen as meddling - the US president, meddling in Iranian elections.

Obama shows himself to be a wise student of history by taking this stance. The last time the Iranian people had a functioning democracy was under Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Following efforts by Mossadegh to nationalize the oil industry, American and British intelligence agencies organized astroturf protests and eventually had him overthrown. What followed was the brutal reign of the autocratic Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Most Iranians view the Shah's reign as a very dark period of their history, and they harbor resentment against the American government for organizing the coup that toppled their last truly freely and democratically elected government. Which is why if the United States chose to intervene in this election on behalf of the protesters, hard-liners within Iran could easily portray the student movement as nothing more than the sort of demonstrations that acted as tools of the Western governments to overthrow Iran's government in 1953. This would ultimately undermine the pro-democracy movement within Iran and turn public support towards Iranian reactionaries.

Based on Terror Free Tomorrow Poll, Ahmadinejad Victory Was Expected

Judging from commentary in the blogosphere, many Americans are already convinced by suggestions that have been carried in the media that the Presidential election in Iran was stolen. [Some press reports have been a bit more careful: the lead paragraph of the front page story in Sunday's New York Times says that "it is impossible to know for sure" if the result reflects the popular will.]

But the evidence that has been presented so far that the election was stolen has not been convincing.

Iran does not allow independent international election observers, and there is a scarcity of independent, systematic data.

But shortly before the election, Terror Free Tomorrow and the New America Foundation published a poll that was financed by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation. Based on this poll, the official result - a victory for Ahmadinejad in the first round - was entirely predictable. "Ahmadinejad Front Runner in Upcoming Presidential Elections," the poll reported.

The poll was conducted between May 11 and May 20, and claimed a margin of error of 3.1%. Among its respondents, 34% said they would vote for incumbent President Ahmadinejad, 14% said they would vote for Mir Hussein Moussavi, 2% said they would vote for Mehdi Karroubi, and 1% said they would vote for Mohsen Rezai. Declared support for these four candidates represented 51% of the sample; 27% of the sample said they didn't know who they would vote for. [This accounts for 78% of the sample; the survey report doesn't explicitly characterize the other 22% of the sample, but presumably they were divided between those who did not intend to vote and those who refused to respond to the question.