Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, revolution in the Middle Eastern and African regions is spreading. Perhaps the biggest question that arises today is: What will happen with Iran? For years, the west has been at odds with the Iranian government. There has long been the possibility of war between Iran and the US (and US ally Israel). Now, the people themselves are taking to the streets in the tens of thousands: All the while, there is a very real threat that the Iranian government will deal with these protests by killing the leaders of the opposition who unite these crowds. How might this uprising progress in Iran?
It could go several ways: The Iranian government could put an end to the dissent right now by killing the protesters–making any who dare to rise up against the regime think twice; if this happens, this would provide a case in favor of foreign military intervention. Another scenario that could occur is civil war in Iran, where the people begin arming themselves to fight back against the government forces. Yet another possibility is that the people take to the streets en masse as has occurred in Egypt, and topple the current government by the power of numbers alone. If the current regime agrees to change to accommodate the protesters, they may be able to hold onto power.
Many things could happen but the question is: What scenario is most likely to occur? There is always the risk that a writer who makes a hypothesis like this will turn out to be wrong. I am, therefore, skeptical to make a guess. But, nonetheless, I will venture an opinion. I think the most likely outcome will begin with more Iranians taking to the streets, first. Next, the Ahmadinejad government will use the armed forces to round-up opposition leaders and execute them and many found supporting them. This will result in anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment in world media–giving fuel to US, Israel, NATO and the UN to intervene. Many in Iran will begin to hate Ahmadinejad’s regime even more than now. The US, for years, has been looking for an excuse to go into Iran: If the people are not able to topple the government themselves, there is no better time for military intervention. The war in Iraq has wound down significantly; though there is still US military presence there. The war in Afghanistan is seemingly beginning to slow with a gradual hand-over of power to Afghan security forces expected shortly in the future. Soldiers could be redeployed to Iran to aid the people in taking down a perceived hostile regime.
It is unclear how the scenario in Iran will unfold but I have, reluctantly, stated my opinion regarding the possibilities. There is a good chance that I am drastically wrong and the protesters there might all go home this evening and forget about the whole “freedom” thing altogether. Given the way revolution has spread in these regions so fiercely over the past few weeks, I think it is unlikely that we will see an end just yet.
~Justin Allen Philcox
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Popular uprising occurs at a time when the people want to be heard and not just told what to do. People want power over their own lives; even, it can be argued, if power merely comes in the form of a democratic process. People want to feel that they have a say over who governs them. The 20th century saw mass protests around the world in the name of Democracy–we saw some of the most gruesome of wars imaginable in the name of defending Democracy and Capitalism against the spread of Communism. The US fought wars in Europe, South America, and throughout Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Korea); all, by their logic, to stop the spread of Fascism and Communism. Millions fought and died so that one ideology (Democracy) could flourish.
The questions still remains whether Democracy is real or imagined; or whether it is even a good thing to let the majority decide–How much of a say do the people really have about the kinds of rulers they choose and the political ideologies that political parties espouse? Most contemporary world politicians are seemingly inextricably linked to Neoliberal and Neoconservative ideologies that stress the importance of free market capitalism and globalization; and this scenario appears more and more to play out in favor of the economic elite at the demise of the world’s majority. The question that the 2011 revolutions raise for me is whether the people have had enough of Neoliberalism/Neoconservativism; in which the majority suffers at the hands of the minority; or whether people merely want to say that they live in a Democracy where they feel that they actually have some say about who they have as their leader.
If, the people merely want democratically elected government, then these revolutions may only occur in nations where Democracy has not taken root. However, if these revolutions are occurring because there is a problem with the main political ideology in the world today (Neoliberalism/Neoconservativism) then these three revolutions may not be the only ones that the world experiences this year; or in the decade to come. If it is a question not of Democracy but of dominant political ideology, the consequences of these first dominoes falling could be much grander than these, relatively small, national revolutions crossing borders this past month.
Only time can tell…but how the story is told in the media can have a great impact on how the rest of the world’s people choose to react and respond. If the world is told that it is because the people desire Democracy, the resultant spill-over into other nations could be minimal; however, if rhetoric is turned toward ideology, the result could be world altering. My assumption, seeing that most forms of media are owned by those gaining from the current economic power structure in place, is that these revolutions will be framed around the attainment of Democracy as the desired form of good government. The power of discourse in this case is critical.
~Justin Allen Philcox
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