June 24th, 2009
11:18 AM ET

Two Forces Shaping Iran

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/23/iran.protest.faces/art.modern.gi.jpg caption="The modern face of Iran - seen in this June 15 photo - is also represented at anti-Ahmadinejad protests. "]

Eboo Patel
Interfaith Youth Core
The Washington Post

My guess (and let's be honest – when it comes to Iran, we're all guessing) is that two grand narratives are playing a shaping role in Iran right now - call them Grant Park and Karbala, otherwise known as the current Era of Obama and the ancient heritage of Shia Islam.

The celebration of Obama's election victory in Grant Park on November 5, 2008, matters for two reasons. The first is because that's the day Iran stopped being part of the Axis of Evil. For decades, The regime in Iran had successfully built support by creating an Us vs. Them framework with America playing the role of 'Them'. By making Iran part of the Axis of Evil, the Bush Administration embraced the role of 'Them'. However much young and progressive Iranians hated their regime, they hated being labeled Evil by a foreign power even more. If they had to choose between being punched in the face by the Iranian regime or being punched in the face by the Bush Administration, they chose the Persian fist. Obama's victory, and his subsequent reaching out to the Iranian people, changed the Us vs. Them framework.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Eboo Patel • Iran • President Barack Obama
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Cat Jones

    I'm inspired by the Iranian women.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:55 am |
  2. shir o khorshid

    i am so sorry to see all these young lives lost in Iran. all Mousavi is asking is about the election but let us not forget everything we see today is been happening for 30 years. it is just that we see it now. Mousavi is just one of them and helped them to become stronger. why is he never talkes about supreme leader abusive power? where is he hiding right now? imagine he is asking to execute a law that has been set up by this same killer mullas.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  3. chris

    most people forget it has been uprising for freedom since the dawn of man. but the difference know the world as a whole is now more morally peaceful killing people because they have different views of what is right and wrong Iran's leadership should fall or evolve like most countries who have lasted i know what i say my never be heard by education allows me to see the injustice not in just iran sudan and north korea people should have the right of food water education but most of all to live the way they see fit as long as it doesn't harm anyone else

    CNN Follower,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  4. Isabel, Brazil

    Democracy is the government in which power and civic responsibility are exercised by all citizens, directly or through representatives freely elected.

    Democracy is a set of principles and practices that protect human freedom: it is the institutionalization of freedom.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    Nothing significant changed vis-a-vis Iran when the Great One was inaugurated. For example, the US continues to sponsor terrorist/insurgent groups on Iranian soil.

    It's interesting how Obama's election transformed many self-described anti-war libs into interventionist patriotards.

    And frankly, the morally and culturally decrepit West has precious little to offer Iranians.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  6. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    A history lesson: Reagan labelled the USSR the 'Evil Empire". His rhetoric was tough, but his actions and resolve were tougher. The USSR was met with a defense buildup they couldn't match, and a fundamental shift in relations much to the better, as well as the disintegration of the USSR and Warsaw Pact, was achieved without firing a shot. Sucking up to dictators doesn't work. History has shown that time and again as with Chamberlain and Hitler. Obama holds out a hand to those who will just cut it off. Maybe he'll eventually learn, but not until the resistance in Iran has been crushed. Those Iranians now calling out for our help are doing so not because of Obama, but in spite of him.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  7. Diane Wing

    President Obama claims Abraham Lincoln as his mentor, did he miss this piece of advice,

    "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."

    from Illinois

    June 24, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  8. Yasmin

    It is great to see the extensive coverage of international news, in this case Iran. One wishes the same coverage would be extended to the protests in Peru, the bombing of Gaza in Dec 2008, the repression of protest in Jammu & Kashmir and in Assam-the list goes on and on.

    One wonders at the self righteousness of those who think that the US / the President should comment forcefully on the situation, wag their fingers at the Iranian government for using force against its own citizens. Agreed that the international community should use strong language to condemn violence by the state, but then one expects the same condemnation when the Pakistan government (encouraged/urged by the US) is bombing its own civilians in pursuit of terrorists and rendering a couple of million homeless and scores dead.
    Maybe Sen McCain and others think that they can fool the American public , but citizens of other countries can see through the double standards (where were the tears when Saddam Hussein was using US supplied chemical weapons on Iranians? ). If the principle is human rights, then it cannot be used selectively – please be as concerned about it when these are violated in S.Arabia, Gaza, India, Pakistan, Chechnya, Peru or in Chicago.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:46 am |