The Nation, 20 July 2009

nation 20 july 2009An article by Robert Dreyfuss explores the division among the Iranian political elite that has contributed to the recent mass demonstrations there.  Dreyfuss convinces me that the government has a narrow base of support among elite groups in the city of Teheran.  Most of the people he talks to regard Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmedinejad as too hard-line and traditionalist, while many others are turning to rightist groups that accuse those men of being too soft.  However, I’m skeptical of Dreyfuss’ attempts to suggest that the Teherani elite is in this matter representative of the country as a whole.  Dreyfuss cites the Chatham House study which compared voter turnout in Iran’s 2005 presidential election with turnout in this year’s contest, concluding that the number of votes reported had increased by so much that fraud was a likelier explanation than was a rise in actual participation.  On Dreyfuss’ own showing, though, the opposition has the support of many key power players.  Among them are many men who may be in a position to falsify votes.  And the fact remains that the only opinion poll conducted in Iran before this year’s election predicted the same result that the authorities certified.  The election may well have been a phony, but Dreyfuss definitely wrong to say that it “seems far-fetched” to think that Ahmedinejad may have won. 


The American Conservative, August 2009

american conservative august 2009With this issue, our favorite “Old Right” read gives up its quixotic biweekly publication schedule and becomes the monthly it should always have been.  

In the cover story, Brendan O’Neill casts a gimlet eye on the environmental initiatives now chugging through official Washington.   He sees in them little more than a series of raids on the treasury by well-connected businesses.  He cites Gabriel Calzada, a Spanish economist who found that every job his country’s wind power initiative had created represented a cost of $2,200,000 to the taxpayer.  Of course, the jobs don’t pay $2,200,000- most of that money goes to corporate interests.  O’Neill argues that the alternative energy plans now under consideration in Washington are at least as bad as is Spain’s wind power initiative. 

Former US Army interrogator Matthew Alexander explains what he did in Iraq that his colleagues didn’t.  He followed the rules, they didn’t.  He treated detainees with respect, they didn’t.  He obtained useful intelligence, they didn’t.  When information he had elicited led to successful US military operations, they got medals, he didn’t.