I’ll refrain from a blow-by-blow of what has transpired over the last few days and instead confine my post to the two points surrounding this that really stand out for me.
1) Sometimes, when one is between a rock and a hard place, observation is the only action one can take. This, I think, is where the U.S. finds itself now in this debacle. There is little doubt that the official results reported by the Interior Ministy were falsified to some extent or another. This purported landslide victory with almost no deviation in vote share between candidates from one region to the next makes no logical sense for a whole list of demographic reasons, which could take up the rest of this post. Whether the lie amounts to making a small win larger, adding some extra padding to secure a victory in the first round and avoid a run-off next week, or an outright reversal of the real results and the stealing of an election, something is amiss.
So…what does the U.S. do about this? Nothing — because there’s nothing we can do that will have any positive impact on the situation. Khamenei has already certified the results and encouraged everyone to get along with each other and be happy with this “divine assessment.” For all intents and purposes, the book has been closed on the election. Nothing the U.S. says or does will change these facts and, more likely than not, would only feed into hardline propaganda about the opposition being puppets for the West. Would it be the morally correct thing to stand and say, “this is a ridiculous sham?” Sure. It almost seems wrong not to. But the only people who can say that with impact and authority are the millions of Iranians who cast a ballot for change only to have it seemingly snatched away. Over the next few days, we’ll see whether the post-election protests develop into something more.
2) Reports of the death of the mainstream media have not been greatly exaggerated. They have heretofore almost completely missed this story. Sure, there’s the requisite story in NYT and WaPo, but it gets barely a blip on cable news and there’s very little real analysis. The blogosphere truly has broken and driven this story over the last three days. From nitty-gritty analysis of statistical data, demographics, and historical voting patterns to translation of Persian language tweets about events on the ground (seriously, if you aren’t on Twitter, you need to be) to incredible documentation of protests on Flickr and YouTube, citizen-journalism has won the day here.